Friday, March 17, 2006

living for others

Guna is one of the first districts in Madhya Pradesh to set up a nutritional rehab centre. It's a 16-bed special children care ward, under the supervision of a paediatrician, to support severely malnourished children. The facility not only treats infection but also supports immediate dietary needs, using locally available material. This isn't a stand-alone venture but is attached to a district hospital with sufficient back-up. The district mobilised resources from possible donors. The most unusual contribution, to kick start the centre came from 81-year-old Brindawan who is no stranger to Guna or the district hospital. He is around to help people in distress and it's by choice as he enjoys doing it. During our interaction, he laments, "ultimatelyeverything will go to the fire (a reference to death). I'm 81 and have seen a lot. Let me do something which satisfies me." Brindawan hails from Sagar district, came to Guna in 1992 to attend a yagna (ritual) and stayed on. He eats at voluntary organisation that provides highly-subsidised food to relatives staying withpatients in the hospital. This is mainly run by contributions from individual donors. Brindawan is again one of them. He had donated Rs 10,000 to the kitty. He owns about 30 bigas of land in Sagardistrict (another district of the state of Madhya Pradesh). His family, including his son and grandchildren, stays at Sagar. The octogenarian's eyes reflect his experiences; he fondly remembers the early period of Independence and also the Raj.

He feels a lot has changed over the past five decades. Corruption is one thing that has eroded thesystem, there are plenty of opportunities, lots of schemes for people's benefit but real benefit is stillelusive. Brindawan isn't the only one, if you look around there may be many like him. For persons like him,what's important is the difference they make to others' lives. When you meet people like him, you feelencouraged and faith is rejuvenated. In disasters such as tsumani, earthquakes and floods, these people make an enormous contribution towards rescue and relief but that remains virtually unnoticed.

- anil gulati

(these are personal opinions of the writer)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Tribal festival of elopement – Bhagoria haat

15 tie knot this year in tribal districts of Jhabua

Love was in air tribal parts of central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. Cupid strikes in an unusual way - single boys and girls elope to find their life partners in a colourful festival of the Bhils and Bhilalas. This is particular in Jhabua district of the state.

This is actually of the nature of a ‘mass svayamvara’, or a marriage market, usually held on the various market days falling before the Holi festival in March. As the name of the festival indicates, (bhag, to run), after choosing their partners, the young people elope and are subsequently accepted as husband and wife by society through predetermined customs.
It is not always that boys and girls intending to marry each other meet in the festival for the first time. In a large number of cases the alliance is already made between the two, the festival provides the institutionalised framework for announcing the alliance publicly.

The tradition is that the boy applies gulal, red powder, on the face of the girl whom he selects as his wife. The girl, if willing, also applies gulal on the boy's face. This may not happen immediately but the boy may pursue her and succeed eventually. The Bhagoria haat also coincides with the completion of harvesting, adding to it the dimension of being an agricultural festival as well. If the crops have been good, the festival assumes an additional air of gaiety. In the life of the Bhils and Bhilalas, Bhagoria is not merely one festival but in fact a series of fairs held one by one at various villages on their specific market days, commencing eight days before Holi.
Earlier men, wearing turbans and jewellery with cummerbunds, go all out to woo the girls in their colourful skirts, blouses and scarves. But changing times may have caught up with this quaint festival. Today Bhil males wear shirts and trousers to the mela and women too apply lipstick and talc.

At the heart of the mela is the uninhibited mingling of men and women and they celebrate it by dancing to the beat of dhols and thalis and the sweet melody of the shehnai and bansuri (flutes). Bhagordev or the god of Dance is worshipped on this occasion. With drum beats and flute tunes filling the air, they scout for prospective partners. They dance, sing and being together on the fairs' rickety merry-go-rounds. Sex is not a taboo during the period.

This time round, the Government tried to make things simpler for these seven days of tribal valentine bliss (am not sure one should use words like valentine in this part of India !!! ). For the first time mariages were registered on-the-spot and certificates issued immediately. Many did not like this too as they felt it works against the tribal culture but some did not bother, were too busy in something else..

- anil gulati

(These are personal opinions of the writer)

Sunday, March 05, 2006

the real yaar

Yaar meaning buddy is the word which we often use now a days.. In American terms this is name of boy and is of Hebrew origin, meaning "forest”. Though Yaar is an very uncommon male first or surname in US. In Indian context we normally speak Arre Yaar, referring to our friends. But as of now more than friends it is being used to call your ones peers , people whom we met and many a times generally !

Though purists may say that language is a means of communicating thoughts and so long as it is able to perform this prime function, use of such words stands vindicated. Am not debating them here, but as I was speaking to my friend Pushpendar bhai (!!) on this one he mentioned that word may have come from word yarana meaning friendship. If you call someone as Yaar you mean that she or he as your friend, a friend in need not just a yaar, to smoke and drink together. The test of real yaar is one with whom you enjoy moments of life, but also is with when you need, when you want support, want to confine with someone not only to enjoy…..your real yaar would be with you life long not momentary yaar!

But the meaning of friendship has changed now. These days it is difficult to get real yaar. Interests are vested within itself. Even in friends there is competition, they are friends for merry only or timepass. It is hard to get real friend that is why everybody is just a yaar.

Yours only – anil gulati