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Dushehra at Baloda Bazaar: A page from the memoir of childhood days

October 17, 2010 6 comments

 

Baloda bazaar is a small town in state of Chhattisgarh formerly part of MP. The town was an exact replica of Malgudi. The natives were a mix of tribal crowd and a second generation graduated middle class families mainly employed in rice mills and kacheri (district court). It was a pre- liberalization era and people led a very simple life style. 10-5 job, shop for vegetables on the way back home, evening walk at the park and listen to radio or watch doordarshan (not all houses had TV that time).

The huge deposit of minerals attracted many companies to build cement factories and dad got transferred here for a project to build one. I was in standard II; my life was carefree and blissful probably one of the best times of my life.

The town was still untouched with the fancies of western culture .The tribal traditions, practised from ages were still deep rooted in the genes. Dushehra was one of the main festivals celebrated with great enthusiasm.

Little fair was organised every year by the group of gypsies who earned their living by showing their skills in the fair and that year giant-wheel was the biggest attraction. My brother and I were eagerly waiting for the Dushehra eve as dad had promised a visit to the fair.

We both secretly bicycled thrice to the Dushehra ground since morning to see the Ravan. We even went further to the other end of the town to get the soanpatra. (There was a tradition to bring soan-patra at home on the day of the Dushehra).  

As evening was approaching butterflies were flying inside me. I kept my eyes over the balcony awaiting dad’s return. We didn’t even go to play cricket that evening and were eagerly waiting for the sight of commando jeep on which my dad used to travel to office. The dusk approached and there was no sight of dad. I was saddened and cried to mom reminding about dad’s promise. Mom promised to take us to fair in case dad can’t make it on time.

I got dressed. I was wearing orange shirt with ‘Tom and Jerry’ photo on it, orange knickers and white school canvas shoes. As soon as I got dressed I heard the commando approaching and we both raced downstairs to greet dad who was smiling at both of us. I can never forget that moment.

It was already 6:30 and night was falling. The rare multi coloured light-bulbs were glowing in Shalin sharroff’s home (classmate and friend of my brother) just opposite to our house. The time for firecrackers was nearing and we were all set to go on dad’s scooter to see the fair.

Dad parked the scooter below Rao uncle’s home (colleague of my dad) who lived just opposite to the Dushehra ground. The view of Ravan was perfect from the balcony and the entire staff of my dad’s office had assembled to view the Ravan-dahan. Dad bought us flute and ‘kisme toffee bar’.

The Ravan’s effigy was huge with 10 heads each having big eyes and large moustaches. He was dressed in a very colourful outfit with sword in one hand and shield in another.

There was buzz in the ground, the colourful mela and the gaint wheels were brought to halt as a small chariot with 3 teenagers dressed as Ram-Laxman-Seeta approached the Ravan. People were throwing flowers on them and entire baloda bazaar was just waiting for the moment. Some announcement was made and the symbolic fire-lit arrow was shot by Ram on the effigies of Ravan and Kumbhkaran.

The fireworks soon started within the effigies and the entire ground was lit by their lights. The noise of busting fireworks were deafening to the ears. The fireworks went on for 10 minutes until the entire Ravan-Kumbhkaran combo turned into ashes.

All the kids at the balcony were jumping in joy, running all over the place and imitating the action of shooting with bow and arrows.

I went to my mom who was standing with other aunties and told to her “Mummy now I will play jan-gan-man as ravan is dead” and all of them busted into laughter. I was furious and embarresed,I threw my flute and ran to my brother crying.

I don’t remember what happened next, I was probably asleep and next morning my brother was teasing me on this incident.

I am 25 now but still my mom narrates this incident to her friends and our relatives. Talking about the incident, I get embarrassed even today but this was probably the best Dusheshra we ever had.