GAVRI

thumbnail (7).jpg

After years had the chance to watch and enjoy ‘GAVRI’ yesterday at the residence of Shri Raghuveer Singh ji Meena – Ex MP from Udaipur.

I remember as a kid an entire trope of Gavri performers from the nearby village of Badi would perform at our residence. If my memory doesn’t fail me Kuka, Chapliya were the names of some of these local Folk Artists. What really amused us kids then was these men dressed to the hilt as women !!thumbnail (9).jpg

Times flew by, did manage to get a glimpse of Gavri performances being played here or there and yesterday was really up, close and personal.

For the uninitiated Gavri, is a 40-day long festival celebrated in July and September of each year in the Mewar region of Rajasthan. It starts from Rakhi and concludes 9 days after Ganesh Chaturthi. It is an ode to Goddess Gauri – the wife of Lord Shiva thus the name GAVRI, her blessings are invoked at each such enactments.

Only men perform so they even play the characters of women. This is performed by the Tribal community of Mewar – an area that compromises of South Rajasthan.

 

During the 40-day Gavari season, all players IMG_20190912_131901-01.jpegpractice strict austerities to maintain reverent contact with the living earth and the immanent spirit. They avoid not only sex, alcohol and meat, but also shoes, beds, bathing, and eating greens (which might harm insect life). They eat only a single meal each day during the season. They also cannot go back to their homes during these 40 days no matter what the situation demands.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gavari 

 

I am sharing some of the pictures of yesterday’s performance.

thumbnail (11).jpg

The government or for that matter even us, need to share some responsibility to protect and promote these local traditions or it will be matter of time our new generation will only read about them in their textbooks and newspapers.

Regrets of an Early Marriage

This Navratri I decided to trek up to the Neemuch Mata Mandir which is considered as the Vaishno Devi of Udaipur, after more than 12-13 years.Neemuch Mata The Temple is situated atop a hill at a height of approximately 900 meters close to Fatehsagar, Udaipur. Besides the belief in the Devi, the temple offers a mesmerizing view of the lakes. At one point during the journey the devotees arrange bricks/stones in the belief that the goddess will fulfill their wish of having their own/desired home.

Considering it was the Festive season the way up to the temple was chock-a-block with devotees making their way up /down. Here was this group of  married women who I think were around 50+ and I am sure in their heads they were not an year more than 25, some of them were arranging stones and praying to have Mata’s blessings to soon have an abode of their own.

One of them proudly and loudly proclaimed “ज़िन्दगी की सबसे अच्छा दिन वह था जब खुद के घर में शिफ्ट हुए, शादी हुई तब भी इतनी ख़ुशी नहीं हुई थी. २१-२१ साल में माँ-बाप ने शादी करा दी हमारी (I have a strong feeling she meant 16), कुछ मालूम ही नहीं पड़ा !!”

The moment she uttered these words and much to her surprise the entire section of the passage burst out laughing with her and this song from the television series ‘Balika Vadhu’ started playing in my head:balika-vadhu-759

छोटी सी उम्र परनाई रे बाबोसा, कर्यू थारो कई मैं कसूर,

हो इतना दिन्ना तो म्हाने लाड लड़ाया, अब क्या करो महने हिवडे सो दूर …..

Just hope this lady’s husband since their marriage has managed to pacify her because there is hardly anything that he can now do that will make her ever get over the regret.

Festival of Colors : Holi

1184775_10151918492451717_168840847_n

Like the zillion Indian Facebook users across the world, I too posted my pictures of playing Holi with friends and family. Hardly recognizable with the color all over our faces in a tub that was too small to fit 6 adults and 5 kids, we all managed nevertheless.

I did manage to get some sizeable likes and counting on the post which made me glad, after all what use is a post not liked by your FB friends!! I was happy till a dear friend reprimanded me of the futility of putting ones pictures that aren’t graceful and complained about his timeline being filled with such pictures and how he despised posting these horrendous pictures.

Holi is the only Hindu Festival when one is not supposed to dress up to be in a festive mood, old faded clothes add much more happiness and fun at least for me and I love celebrating this festival. We have always been a family that loved celebrating Holi, with friends and family visiting each other to celebrate and one acquaintance always ensured a steady supply of Bhang ki Mithai and Pakodi for years together. Those were the days when the young ones would hop on to our open Willis Jeep and go on singing Hindi songs and visiting relatives and friends. The color refused to go for a week and body itched with the incessant and failed attempt to remove colors.

The way this festival has been now projected I wouldn’t be surprised that the future generations stop celebrating it all together. People stay in and refuse to get out or they leave town, going to any extent to avoid playing with colors. I sometimes wonder whether they are truly allergic to the colors or this is just plain disdain for Holi.

196497_10150110273061717_5008474_n
My Grandfather Late Mohan Lal ji Sukhadia then the Governor of Tamil Nadu celebrating Holi at the Chennai Raj Bhawan in the 1970’s

An incident that is part of our family lore is about that one year my Grandfather who was then the Governor of Tamil Nadu had celebrated Holi in the Raj Bhawan there with the Rajasthani’s settled in Chennai. The entire staff was flabbergasted to see the Governor applying colors and enjoying the festival with one and sundry. For most of the local Tamil population this was something they had never seen or experienced.

Having lived in hostels for more than decade, I have played Holi with eggs, color, shoe polish !! Its only now I have been trying to convince my friends to shift to Gulal from Pucca Colors and have mostly failed at this endeavor except this year. And no Holi is ever complete without the mandatory dipping in a pool or tub to bring an end to the festivities.
Sorry but No Tilak Holi for me at least for the time being, like a recent line from a commercial says :“होली है भाई, चुटकी भर से क्या होगा ??”

I know it is not environmentally friendly and we end up wasting a precious resource i.e. water but again in our everyday life how conscious are we that all the activism and awareness get fixed onto the celebration of Holi. I know i am wrong and there are millions thirsty souls across the globe but ……..

Go out and get urself dirty and make our children enjoy this festival, be208907_10151305455566717_1431969527_ncause it gives an opportunity to add color to our otherwise mundane lives, like a beautiful sms doing the rounds says about the Holi :
लो ख़तम हुई रंग ऐ गुलाल की शोखियाँ
चलो यारों फिर बेरंग दुनिया में लौट चलें …

Jaipur Literature Festival

download

After years of missed plans and dilly dallying , finally managed to attend the 9th Jaipur Literature Festival like someone rightly described it as the Ibiza of Literature ,it was worth the wait and lived up to the hype and buzz around it.

Diggi Palace: The Venue for the festival that has been witnessing the festival grow by leaps and bounds in each successive year. The venue offered the right mix of heritage and grandeur. With 6 different venues inside the Palace offering more than 40 + program daily over 5 days!! The intellectual stimulation that this festival offered is something to be experienced.

The Delegate entry PicsArt_01-29-04.26.06that I had subscribed for gave me the opportunity to rub shoulders and dine with the best, the English Literature has to offer. Luckily I had no one to accompany me for the festival, so this gave me an opportunity to completely soak myself with all the knowledge and listen to the session that was of my interest. The authors from across the globe were in every nook and corner. Like I overheard someone saying “There are so many of them we need a Shazam for Authors!!”

So besides the serious book lovers there were free loaders, Celebrity hunters and the School and College Kids. Most of them PicsArt_01-29-04.28.09there to catch a glimpse of a Bollywood Celebrity spend time in amazing ambience and surroundings and to come out nattily attired.
I too did have my fan moments when had the chance to interact with some of my favorites Authors / Celebrity such as Shashi Tharoor, Javed Akhtar, Atul Gawande, William Dalrymple, Pawan Verma to a name a few !!

PicsArt_01-29-04.29.55

The Festival days began with Indian Classical Music at the Front Lawns and ended with great Musical evenings that culminated with the Writers Ball at the Le Meridian on the 25th January. The musical fusion in the evening had everyone letting down their hair and party away!!

There were some fun and light moments that I managed to overhear and witness.

  • On Sunday when the venue was bursting out of its seams, overheard a middle aged couple complaining “ कुम्भ के मेले जैसा लग रहा है , इतनी पब्लिक कहाँ से आ गयी?”
  • A group of young college boys standing at the gate of the venue saying “बहुत घूम लिए बस एक फिरंगी के साथ फोटो खिंचवा लेते हैं, बस फिर चलते हैं !!”
  • A young lady telling her husband / boyfriend at the end of the day “चलो अब निकलने से पहले एक सेल्फी तो ले लें.”

The festival had something to offer to everybody from the best in Literature, to Food and to Music spread over 5 exciting days. Come 2017 and I am there for sure. The organizers : Teamworks Arts has year after year managed to give a flawless and impeccable JLF , Hats off to them !!