Friday, September 3, 2010

DAHI HANDI

Yesterday morning, my friend, Ashish, gave me a lift. In the car, Aryan, his 12-years-old son, was sitting next to Ashish. "Dad, is today Krishnaji's b'day?", the little one asked, with all his innocence. "Yes beta," Ashish replied, "that's why we call this day - 'Janmashtami', or 'Krsishnashtami'."

I was touched by the pure innocence. Just the previous evening, a local young man, a small-time businessman, had sent me an invitation. It was for the 'Dahi Handi' he was organising yesterday. "Rs. 1,11,111," his invitation had announced proudly. It had mentioned the names of some local political leaders, from a certain political party, who had agreed to be the guests of honour. The young man had flashed his king-size posters, with self portraits and those of some politicians, all over the nearby vicinity. It was clear to all of us that this man had political ambitions. And, he was investing heavily to prepare his ground.

That amount was nothing. There were dozens of posters flashing that amount. There were many with ten times that amount! All of them from the young politically ambitious local men. Many of of them goons. It was the show of strength, the political publicity. And the public, and even the Police, were happy about it.

In the evening, yesterday, I had been to a lawyer-friend's house. His  nine-years-old daughter was busy setting her own 'dahi handi'. A beautifully decorated earthen pot was laid in a slanting position on a table. The little one was now placing some white cotton in the mouth of the pot. I was curious and drawn towards the pot by this little one's enthusiasm. "Sweetheart, why is the cotton hanging out of the pot?", I asked with my own innocence. "Uncle," she said, " that is the butter. My mummy says, that when Krishna Bhagwan was like me, He used to climb high to steal butter from the pot." Then she added with her naughty grin, "That is why we call him - 'makhan chor'!"

"Is it?" I made the little one feel happy.

In the morning, before getting out of Ashish's car, I had given an assignment to little Aryan. I had asked him to make a small project on the similarities about  Krishna and  Christ. "You know Aryan, there are many things common about them," I had informed him. "You will be really surprised once you complete the project." Aryan's excitement could be felt. "I will definitely give you a nice gift when you come to me with your project by this month end," I had tried to lure him. "Yes," had declared the Aryan's fist.

Late at night, I, along with some of the office-bearers of  our Society, had been to the local Police station regarding some Society matters. A couple of young men had come there to lodge a complaint. They were all drunk. Their complaint was that another group of young men had hammered them. The officer on duty gave a mouthful in 'pure' Marathi before taking down their complaint. "I will put all of you, scoundrels, inside," he yelled at them with the choicest adjectives in local lingo. "In the name of God, you ruin our peace, here," he gave a piece of his own mind to his tormentors.

By the time I reached home, it was mid-night. My memory rolled back to my own childhood days. Close to our home, in our native village, the famous Krishnashtami Committee, would organise the 'dahi handi's' every year. That was all a centralised affair... people would line up for miles to watch the show... It would culminate with a special event: to reach the top of a very, very tall beetle-nut tree. The skinless tree would be greasy, and the young men, the Govindas, would compete desperately to reach to the pot at the top. Sometimes, even till the dawn, they would struggle... All this for the coveted 'pot of gold': "Rs.101"!

We would wait to see who would go home with the 'pot money'. And, we didn't mind, at all, receiving a mouthful from our own parents, when we reached home!

Nothing has changed. Except for the value of our 'Rupee'. The 'Pot' shall eternally lure all of us!


GERALD D'CUNHA

2 comments:

Girish said...

The most important lesson what we learn from see Dahi handi is keep your focus clean and with a good teamwork u can achieve ur targets. Once i asked my friend that do you think is it really worth to spend money and celebrate festivals, dont u think this just waste of money. He smiled and said "Festivals are medium where people get chance to exhibit their Art and Art is priceless" Ofcourse today some people use it for propaganda but all festival have there own charm and experience and we all wait to see who takes the pot.

Gerald D'Cunha said...

Girish, yes, we all wait to see who would take the pot.

When I was a child, i did not see the cruelty and the cunningness - the politics - behind the 'pot'. Now, I do see. Still, I wait to see who would take away the pot'

Let innocence last long...

Love,

GERRY