Archive for the ‘Colors of Culture and Heritage’ Category

GETTING INTO THE ROOTS OF THE INDIAN CULTURE AND HERITAGE THROUGH THE INDUS VALLEY CIVILIZATION

A well-planned city
Two storied houses
With private baths and drinking wells
State-of-the-art sewage systems
Kids playing with toys
Women beautifying themselves with jewellery and lipsticks
Dances, swimming pools and creative crafts
And all this existed 5000 years ago! 

It is not just another story to lure your kid to sleep. These real facts and situations existed during the Indus Valley Civilization which flourished from about 3000-2,500 BCE to about 1500-1900 BCE. This means that it existed at about the same time as the Egyptian and Sumerian civilizations. The civilization was spread over an area of some 1,260,000 km, making it the largest ancient civilization in the world. Also, it is one of the earliest urban civilizations of the world.

However, much is not know about the marvelous Indus Valley Civilization, as we have not been able to decipher their scripts until today.

DUG OUT

The ruins of Harappa were first described in 1842 by Charles Masson in his ‘Narrative of Various Journeys in Baluchistan, Afghanistan and the Punjab’. In 1856, the British engineers accidentally used bricks from the Harappa ruins for building the East Indian Railway line between Karachi and Lahore. In the year 1912, J Fleet discovered Harappan seals. This incident led to an excavation campaign under Sir John Hubert Marshall in 1921-1922. The result of the excavation was discovery of Harappa by Sir John Marshall, Rai Bahadur Daya Ram Sahni and Madho Sarup Vats and Mohenjo-Daro by Rakhal Das Banerjee, EJH MacKay and Sir John Marshall.

The excavations continued. After the partition of India in 1947, the area of the Indus Valley Civilization was divided between India and Pakistan.

TOPOGRAPHY

The Indus Valley Civilization extended from Baluchistan to Gujarat and from the east of the river Jhelum to Rupar. It covered almost entire Pakistan along with the western states of India. Even though most of the sites have been found on the river embankments, some have been excavated from the ancient seacoast and islands as well. About a 500 sites have been unearthed along the dried up riverbeds of the Ghaggar-Hakra River and its tributaries according to the archeologists. There are approximately a 100 along the Indus and its tributaries.
Among the settlements were the major urban centers of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro, as well as Dholavira, Ganweriwala, Lothal, Kalibanga and Rakhigarhi.

A DEEP INSIGHT

Houses and Infrastructure:

It is believed that the Indus Valley was a very advanced civilization. The houses were made of baked brick, with flat roofs and were just about identical. Each home had its own drinking well and private bathroom. They were proud owners of the best sewage system. Clay pipes led from the bathrooms to sewers located under the streets. These sewers drained into nearly rivers and streams. The advanced architecture is shown by their impressive dockyards, granaries, warehouses, brick platforms and protective walls.

Lifestyle:

Excavations show that women possessed jewellery of gold and precious stones. They even wore lipsticks. Among the treasures found, was a statue of a woman wearing a bracelet. Also, a statue of a dancer was found.

Scientists have found the remains of a large central pool in Mohenjo-Daro, with steps leading down at both ends and smaller pools that could have been private baths. This central pool could have been a public swimming pool or perhaps been used for religious ceremonies.

Not much information is available on their agriculture and food habits. But majorly, the cultivated cereal crop was naked six-row barley, a crop derived from two-row barley. It is believed that they worshipped a Mother Goddess, who symbolized fertility.

Arts and crafts:

Toy making, pottery, weaving and metalworking must have been the skills of the then people. Arts and crafts that have been unearthed include sculptures, shell works, ceramics, agate, glazed steatite bead making, special kind of combs, toys, seals, figurines in terracotta, bronze and steatite, etc.

Science:

The people of Indus Valley are believed to be amongst the first to develop a system of uniform weights and measures. Their smallest division was approximately 1.704 mm. The brick weights were in a perfect ratio of 4:2:1. The numerous inventions of the Indus River Valley Civilization include an instrument used for measuring whole sections of the horizon and the tidal dock. The people of Harappa evolved new techniques in metallurgy and produced copper, bronze, lead and tin. They also had the knowledge of proto-dentistry and the touchstone technique of gold testing.

A FASCINATING RIDDLE

It’s a mystery as to where such a flourishing civilization vanished. The major reasons of the decline are believed to be connected with climate change. Not only did the climate become much cooler and drier than before, but substantial portions of the Ghaggar-Hakra river system also disappeared.

A definite reason is still elusive. It has also been suggested that the Aryans who were the next settlers, may have attacked and destroyed the Indus Valley Civilization, since their epics talk about their conquest of great cities. Such theories of a violent end have been partly proved by the discovery in Mohenjo-Daro of human remains that indicated a violent cause of death.
However, the Indus Valley Civilization did not disappear suddenly. Its many elements can be found in later cultures. There is no exact evidence of where this civilization came from or where it went. Let us study and dig out more about the history to design a better future.

Read original article at: http://epaper.namoleague.com/EpaperArticle.aspx?title=There%20Has%20To%20Be%20A%20Beginning_670

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GUJARAT IS HOME TO SOME OF THE MOST EXOTIC EMBROIDERIES. LET US SAVE THEM, KNOW THEM AND ADORE THEM BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE.

Gujarat is better called Manchester of the East. It has been involved in textiles since centuries. Almost all parts of the state have a unique style of textiles, weaving and embroideries. All the creations have a versatility that makes the embroideries famous all over the world.

SAURASHTRA AND KUTCH

The most important centers of embroidery work of Gujarat are located in the Saurashtra and Kutch regions and are admired for their creative excellence. Kutch, being a desert, there are less chances to celebrate life. But the way people live is really varied and appreciable. The women add colors to life and create innumerable opportunities to celebrate everyday life through their arts. A striking feature of the Kutch embroidery is that at a very early age, the girls acquire the embroidery skills and they prepare their own wedding garments. These exclusively created embroidered works are then sent to the in-laws for closer examination, which is one of the important criteria for deciding matrimonial alliances!

Saurashtra, on the other hand, is home to the oldest form of embroidery, Kathi, which is known for its romantic motifs.
The designs and the techniques vary with the communities and regions. Apart from this, the embroidering is a source of second income for most of the nomads, wives of the herdsmen and agriculturalists of Gujarat.

DIFFERENT PATTERNS AND ARTIFACTS

The artisans of Gujarat use an array of stitches that are used to decorate the items. The embroidery of Gujarat is highly praised for the distinct quality of raw material and the creations follow an excellent technique. The embroidery work done by the people of Gujarat thus displays the artisanship of the local artisans. These deserve promotion and acceptance.

Whenever we visit Kutch or Saurashtra, let’s make it a point to bring home these colors of life!

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A LOOK INTO THE ORIGIN, CULTURE, LIFESTYLE AND THE UNIQUE ‘MASK DANCE’ ACUMEN OF THE KOKNA TRIBE OF GUJARAT

Gujarat is a land where hundreds of different tribes have come and established themselves with their culture and lifestyle. As a famous Gujarati saying goes, these tribes have settled here just like the sugar settles within a bowl of milk! It has always been interesting to know more about different people, their cultures and traditions. The anthropologists who have studied various tribes of Gujarat, say that the tribe named ‘Kokna’ is worth to make a note of, among others. Also known by alternative names like Kokni, Kukni or Kukna, the tribe is considered a scheduled one.

KOKNA CONNECTIONS

Most of the tribes that have settled in Gujarat, just like the Kokna, belong to the Neolithic era. It is believed that the hermitic people of Egypt were the ancestors of the Kokna tribe and the stories of their existence date back to the prehistoric times. Kokna used a square stone pillar with half moon shaped top for capital punishment, resembling a pillar in the Egyptian pyramids. This practice confirms the belief.

However, the name Kokna is derived from the word ‘Kankan’, that is an armlet worn by the tribe. Some people, on the other hand, believe that the name comes as they migrated to Gujarat from some part of Konkan in the olden times, which is the western coastal belt of Maharashtra. The area between the coastal line and the Sahyadris was the original abode of the Kokna tribal community.

THE KOKNA SETTLEMENTS

In Gujarat, the Kokna tribe is concentrated at Dharampur, Vansda, Valsad and the Dangs.

Some researchers mention that it is from the ancestral, ancient speeches of the Kokna that the origin of the contemporary Kokni language has actually taken shape. This is their native language, a dialect of Marathi. But they also speak Hindi and Gujarati.

The Kokna community is divided into ‘kuls’ or clans. Monogamous, they have a strong sense of united families and community. However, with the modernization and occupational mobility, the concept of nuclear families is fast moving into all the tribes. But, when outside their village, they move in groups.

LIFESTYLE

Kokna tribe can easily be distinguished from other Gujarati tribes. It has an unique attire. The women of this community wear saree and ‘fadki’. They cut the saree into two halves. The upper half is called fadki and the lower part of the body is covered by the saree. Sometimes they also use blouse or lehenga along with the fadki. The males get into a Khadi headdress, jacket, coat and langot with gold rings in the ears. The langot is an essential sign of their culture.

The Kokna women are very fond of ornaments made of white metal, lead and iron or silver. They use the traditional necklaces and other ornaments even today. They also wear flowers and tattoos.

Another major attraction of the Kokna tribe is their houses. The walls are built with mud and whitewashed. The roof comprises of thatched grass and the houses have no windows. Pucca houses are rare.

THE CULTURAL ESSENCE

The most splendid part of the Kokna tribe is that they celebrate all the major festivals of the Indian Territory, only after adding their own fervor and ritualistic elements. They enjoy Shivratri, Dushera, Navratri and Diwali. But the most exciting among the others is the ‘Bhavada’. This is celebrated at the completion of the harvesting season. The Kokna tribes worship Goddess Kali and before harvesting, worship of Gram Devi is celebrated with festivity and jubilance.

The tribe is considered very religious and worships animals like crocodile and tiger.

WOOD CARVING AND THE MASK DANCE

Bhavada is more special because of its artistic zeal and acumen. The Kokna tribe shapes up masks for this festival which houses the Bhavada Dance. The mask dance is held across a number of villages and only at nights in the summer. Each village has a different set of masks, and sometimes masks are even loaned to villages if they can’t afford to have their own.

The masks are carved out of single pieces of soft wood and then decorated with bamboo strips and colored papers. Bright red, yellow and green in color, they depict Gods and Goddesses like Panch Pandava, Ravana, Ganesh and tribal deities like Kaloba, Mhasoba and Rangatai. Facial expressions, eyebrows, moustaches, cheeks, nose etc. are nicely emphasized in these woodcarvings. Particular families are privileged to do a particular kind of mask. The male members of the family are expected to paint and decorate the mask. Masks may also be made out of cow dung, clay, rice-husks and paper. Every dancer enacts steps typical of the character whose mask he wears, as he dances to the tune of musical instruments like the Sur, Kahali and Sambal.

The art of mimic along with tribal dances still survives in Gujarat. During Holi, Kokna dramatic groups, sometimes using masks, perform in villages with young boys playing female roles laced with wit and humor. Songs of Mahabharata and Ramayana epics are sung to music.

Apart from masks, Kokna tribes are known for their artistic wooden tobacco containers. They are either carved out of wood or made by joining pieces of wood together. A thick coat of lead is applied over the container and then beautiful designs are carved on it. Sometimes, these containers are made into animal shapes like peacock, peahen etc. Apart from wood, these are also made from tough-skinned fruits or seeds.

ALL INCLUSIVE

Gujarat is rich, truly vibrant – be it in terms of economy, development or heritage. All we need to do is move forward in the direction of inclusive growth. Let us look behind the masks, remove our mask of perceptions and grow hand-in-hand!

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THE DYING ART OF NAMDAH – A FELTED, WOOLEN RUG MADE BY THE ARTISANS OF KUTCH IN GUJARAT

Gujarat is a land of rituals and traditions. It is full of hospitality and warmth. It is a place where people move ahead with times, without forgetting their customs. One such custom is sitting on the floor. Be it for the purpose of having meals, socializing or performance of some ritual. And what can be a better treat than a hand-made rug to form the floor covering. A Namdah carpet is one of the known floor coverings made from hand-made woolen sheets and are decorated with traditional embroidery and appliqué designs.

THE STORY BEHIND
Namdah is an Urdu word, a Kashmiri styled carpet adopted by the felt artisans of Kutch. These artisans earlier used to put together animal saddles for royal families. There are many myths attached and many legends narrate that art of making Namdah originated during the time of Chengez Khan, the Mongol. It is said that the king used to carry sheep everywhere he went. His soldiers used to create makeshift beddings for him even at the battlefield. These were made simply by laying layers of wool on top of each other. When they got dirty due to constant use, they were washed with cleansing agents. This resulted in natural felting of the woolen fibers. Thus, the process of felting evolved. Once this process evolved, it was further refined and passed on to the next generation of soldiers.

Another folklore has it that a subordinate weaver first wove a Namdah for the Mughal Emperor Akbar’s horse. It was made in order to save the animal from cold.

The Mongols and the Mughals were the pioneers of the Namdah art in India. As their rule spread, so did this art. They continued this craft in order to have an identity related to that of their rulers. This led to the sowing of the seeds of Namdah craft in Gujarat.

The Pinjara community of Gujarat is known to practice the Namdah art and later they are being known as the Namdagar as well.

NAMDAH NUANCES
Felting is one of the oldest form of fabric known to humankind, predating weaving and knitting. All wool shrinks and entangles itself more and more with other wool fibers when heat, moisture, friction or pressure is applied on them. This results in what is called felting. Felt products are made from coarse wool with or without mixture of any other animal, vegetable or man-made fiber.
Namdah is one such felted textile product. It is made from sheets of beaten wool. It applies non-woven techniques of felting to create these sheets. Layers of compressed wool are then stuck together with natural gum. After being completed, embroidery is executed in woolen yarn. Namdah is well known for its chain stitch embroidery. The chain stitch is worked with silk wool or cotton threads, and the stitches are done with a crochet hook (known as an ari) instead of a traditional needle. This hook can cover a much larger area than a regular needle in the same amount of time and is, hence, more economical to use.

With the advent of competition, pure wool has given way to waste wool in making of the Namdah.

Gujarat is famous for making Namdah that is appliquéd, printed or embroidered. Many motifs like floral themes, amplified birds, human forms, animals etc. are used. Mesmerizing ones even display tree motifs with hunting scenes. Yarns of white, brown, grey, beige or black natural wool are usually used.

THE BEST COMPLIMENT TO ANY DÉCOR
The unique technique, natural effects of the woolen texture and the bright colors give an earthy appeal to the Namdah. It is an all-purpose article, indispensable to daily life. It can be used as a floor bed, pillow, dining table, wall hanging, sofa throws or even corner mats. Apart from these, Namdah products are in high demand in the cold countries as they work as insulators.

Much to the delight of the buyers, Namdah carpets are less expensive than the contemporary woolen ones. They are equally warm, stylish and durable too. Usually, the high proportion of wool marks the high quality of a Namdah.

Namdah is a labor intensive art. It uses almost no modern form of technology. It is a dying art and today just 3-5 families of Gujarat are into it. The dwindling numbers are allegedly due to lack of resources and support from the Government. Also, it is a tedious job and takes at least 15 days to finish a product involving around 10 artisans. So the young generation is not interested in taking up Namdah as a career.

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Now this is something most of us are not aware of. Glass painting in India originated in Gujarat in the eighteenth century, which was home to many glass painting artists from China. From Gujarat, the art form has spread to many corners of India.
Apart from its birthplace, what is it that makes glass painting so unique?

PAINT PERFECT

The glass paintings are noted for their thematic variety, sheer brilliance, stunning clarity and use of rich colors. They comprise of engraving laid down on the back of the glass and are painted from the reverse. The process requires immense skill and, as a genre, glass painting is extremely difficult for the sequence of steps followed when painting on an opaque surface, is reversed in painting glass.

The medium of glass provides the painter with something that no other mediums can – the light effect. This makes the paintings look truly delicate and beautiful.
Glass painting necessitates some proper methods that are followed by the artists. The artist first begins the picture and fills the outlines and finer details with the brush. After the completion of the painting, these lines appear on the top layer. To give a glittering look, the unpainted areas of the painting are pasted with gold or silver foil. Then the larger areas are filled in with opaque paints. These areas are generally given a flat finish and in some paintings shading techniques are used.

THEMES

The glass painting developed as the local painters incorporated their painting ideas and put them on glass by depicting popular stories, epic themes, portraits and icons on the glass paintings. This form of art became popular with the masses, as it was quite inexpensive. The artists used to make pictures of the rulers and aristocrats including their mistresses and dancing girls. The artisans of each region had a distinct technique and creativity that differ from one another, so is the case with Gujarat.

Be it any form of art, the religious themes always dominate in

Gujarat. Apart from them, incidents of daily life, court scenes, floral designs and portraits are common when it comes to glass paintings. Also, some of the glass paintings are embellished with gold leaf with the rich usage of bold and vibrant colors and semi precious stones that convey the creative magnificence of the skillful artisans. Sometimes the painting of a deity is surrounded within frames. The glass paintings of Gujarat stand out for their popular folk art traditions that are displayed in the art.

The painters also use dots, lines and patterns that are the empty space fillers in the picture and enhance the aesthetic appeal of the paintings.

ART, BUSINESS, PASSION IN INDIA

Glass painting is a booming industry, with its exports reaching out to almost all continents. The glass painting exporters’ community is growing by the day, which is a tribute to the mushrooming Indian talent in glass painting. By depicting eye-catching patterns and designs, they have reached out to a lot of buyers, who patronize Indian glass paintings, both in India and abroad. With a diverse segregation of painting cultures and the ultimate art, it is a small wonder that Indian glass paintings are among the most sought after in the world.

Apart from it being a business, the youth see it as a line of study. Several courses for glass paintings are offered and special degrees are given by Fine Arts colleges.

But what sets Gujarat apart is, the artists here pursue glass paintings not just as an art or business, but as a passion. The language of the artistic glass paintings is expressive, lively and intelligible. The glass paintings deserve to be placed as the antique articles for the lucid designs and immense craftsmanship.

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Picture Credit: http://akshata.wordpress.com/

 

A SHORT ACCOUNT ON DANGS DARBAR: A FEATHER IN THE CAP OF THE DAZZLING DANG

It is always interesting to peep into the age old traditions and rejuvenate yourself. Gujarat offers innumerable such opportunities and is indeed vibrant. One such tradition dates back to almost 155 years, celebrated in one of the most delightful districts of Gujarat, the Dangs. The Dangs is home to the biggest tribal festival, the Dangs Darbar. Just like other festivals and fairs of Gujarat, this one too, has stories and beliefs attached to itself.

WHERE, WHEN, WHO?

Dang is located in the Saputara Hills of Gujarat. While, the exact venue for the extravaganza named Dangs Darbar is Ahwa, a small town and the district headquarters of Dang.

Dangs Darbar coincides with the festival of Holi in March-April. The celebration goes on for 3-4 days when thousands of tribal people from over 300 villages in Dang district descend on Ahwa to eat, drink and make merry. The actual fun starts a week in advance where the tribals purchase sweets, farsan, utensils, toys, cutlery, radio, tape, TV cassette recorders, clothes, articles of bamboo, household goods, ornaments, etc.

Most of the partakers of the festival are tribals, making it the biggest and most awaited time in Gujarat. Dang is the home of adivasis who have lived in the forests and highlands of the region from time immemorial. The tribal natives constitute nearly three-fourth of the population. Visitors, along with the tribal communities like the Bhils, the Kunbis, the Warlis and the Gamits throng the place.

UNMATCHED SHOWCASE

The spirit of festivity and pomp reverberates in the Dangs Darbar. The tribals appear in their best traditional attires. The atmosphere is marked by the sound of the drum and shehnai (a wood-wind instrument). All men wear lion clothes which are complimented with a waistcoat and colored turban. Women are robed in saree and blouse. They team it with numerous silver ornaments, of which they are very fond.

Apart from the rich display of the traditional arts and crafts of the tribal people, tribal dances of the region are also spectacular to watch. People move in concentric circles holding each other by the waist, dancing to the beat of drums and wind instruments. Many musical instruments are typical of this district. It also serves as a platform to search for brides and grooms for the local people.

THE BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL START

The most interesting part of the Dangs Darbar is the way it started. A bold and beautiful story unfolds as we peep into this traditional celebration that began years before independence.

The Dangs Darbar has drawn its name from the Ahwa Darbar, a one-time assembly (Darbar) venue for English ministers and mandarins during the British era. According to legacy of history, it is said that 5 Bhil kings ruled the Dang District, which was in ancient times known as Danda-Karanya, till the British arrived in the remotest part of Gujarat. However, they could never conquer the hilly regions of the Dang. So, they entered into an agreement with the Dangi Kings. In 1842, they executed a forest lease with these 5 Kings and Naiks in lieu of annual sum to be paid to the Rajas. This amount was paid by organizing Darbars.

It was considered a great honor to receive payment from the hands of European political agents. Thus began the Dangs Darbar more than 150 years ago, out of a payment to be made because of forest lease. The annual fair continued even after independence, though in 1954, the privileges of the Kings and Naiks were cancelled and instead hereditary political pension was granted to them.

CHANGED NATURE OF DANGS DARBAR

Today it is also called the Jamabandi Darbar, and the District Collector officiates it. The merchants and traders from different parts of the district arrive at the fair, displaying and exhibiting their products. It provides a great opportunity for the local merchants to mint money. People from Nasik, Surat and West Khandesh also visit the place in aspiration of good business.

An exhibition of local culture, tribal development schemes and forest environment is inaugurated during the Dangs Darbar. However, the customs instituted earlier, continues – to provide pensions to the Tribals (Daher, Gadhvi, Linga, Pimpri and Vasurna were awarded pensions in 2009). Various other schemes are implemented like the ‘Malki Plantation’ scheme in which tribals grow teakwood and other forest products in their land, for which they are paid by the Government under the scheme. Another such scheme is, ‘Mafi Kaat’ – about 225 tribals were provided with teakwood worth Rs 22.5 million free of cost to build and repair their own houses.

2011

Ahwa is all set for the festive look of the Dangs Darbar, starting March 16, 2011. A unique exhibition depicting the tribal arts and culture of Dang will be on display and a special program has been organized at the Saputara hill station on March 17. The tribal people of Dang and the visitors will have a chance to witness the traditional dance by the west zone cultural group from Udaipur. Also, a national photography competition has been organized wherein photographers submitted their work on the natural beauty of the Dangs, its wildlife, culture and tradition. The winners will be announced on the first day of Dangs Darbar.

We cannot afford to miss such a colorful festival. Worth an excursion this week-end!

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The celebration on the foothills of Mount Girnar takes place on Maha Shivratri every year and is entirely dedicated to Lord Shiva

VIBRANT GUJARAT is not just a coined term. It finds proofs in the people, activities, fairs, festivals and variances of the state. Gujarat comes alive with much enthusiasm and energy at the times of celebration. Its vibrancy is witnessed by the people, who without any differences come under one roof to rejoice at the fairs and festivals. One such charming fair, woven with culture, traditions, heritage and rituals is the mammoth Bhavnath Fair of Junagadh in Gujarat.

Bhavnath Fair is celebrated on the pious occasion of Maha Shivratri every year. It is a five-day extravaganza commencing from the Hindu calendar date of Magh Vad 11, during the months of February-March.


HARD-CORE BELIEVERS OF LORD SHIVA

The much-famed Bhavnath Fair is celebrated on the foothills of Mount Girnar. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva; Bhavnath Mahadev Temple is the host for the fair. The temple is placed near Damodar Kund. It celebrates the vitality of the Shiva cult. During Shivratri – the marriage ceremony of Lord Shiva, according to the Hindu myth, a five day Bhavnath Fair, is held with great zeal.

The place buzzes and bustles with the presence of diehard worshippers of Lord Shiva. They believe that the Lord himself visits this place on Maha Shivratri. Mount Girnar is home to 9 immortal Nathas, and 84 Siddhas, all of whom are believed to visit the shrines in invisible spirits on the occasion!

Pilgrims take a 7 meters long Parikrama of the Holy Girnar before visiting the fair. About one lakh visitors throng the place for the auspicious celebrations, most of them from Gujarat and Marwad. The lively and colorful local communities of Ahir and Mer are the most attractive among them all.

DISTINCT VISITORS AT THE FAIR – THE NAGA SADHUS

A distinct attraction of the Bhavnath Fair is the participation of the Naga Sadhus aka Naga Bavas. These sages are the ones who actually commence the fair celebrations. They are practically nude. A strong belief among these sages is that the whole world is their home and the sky is their cover. They need no clothes to cover their bodies, as they are ‘sky dressed’. They have accepted nakedness as a part of life.

THE MIDNIGHT CELEBRATIONS

The Bhavnath Fair begins with rituals on the moonless night of Maha Shivratri. It is believed that Lord Shiva performed his dance of destruction ‘Tandava’ on this night and a Mahapuja was performed to honor this action of the Lord. The Naga Sadhus arrive seated on elephants. They are seen holding flags and are all decked up with ornaments. They lead a procession to the Bhavnath Temple that marks the commencement of the mystic celebration. This religious march on a dark night is one of the grand attractions of this fair.

THE RHYTHMIC PROCESSION

The Naga Sadhus blow conch shells, tungis, turis and drums that create a religious and emotive atmosphere. This procession is then followed by an exhibition of the grand sword fights and other activities by the sages. The wrestling at the akhadas is a unique blend of dance and martial arts. The march reaches the Temple’s Mrigi Kund at 12 in the midnight.

THE STORY BEHIND MRIGI KUND

A belief of the Puranic era has it that the Shiva Ling at the Bhavnath Temple has emerged out of its own divine intentions, without any human intervention. The Mrigi Kund is considered auspicious as while travelling over Mount Girnar, Shiva and Parvati’s divine garment fell over the place. Shiva worshippers strongly believe in this legend and even today, the Naga Sadhus are known to bathe in the holy Mrigi Kund before joining the Maha Shivratri procession.

OTHER ACTIVITIES AT THE FAIR GROUND

Apart from the offerings to the deities and the decked up Shiva temples, there are performances of dance, music and traditional Bhavai theatre. The colorfully clad tribes with dazzling ornaments at the fair are a treat to the eyes.

Stalls are set up for copper and brass utensils, idols, rosaries and holy beads brought from Ayodhya and Mathura. Mouthwatering sweets at the food stalls and the free meals served by the organizers to the devotees are yet another motivation for a visit to the fair!

JOYOUSNESS IN THE AIR!

Bhavnath Fair is an example of the strong beliefs and rituals of the people of Gujarat. It is a place to lose oneself to the rhythmic experience and honor the 5000-year old Hindu traditions. It captures the senses of all humankind. The richness of our heritage is on display at the fair.

The Bhavnath Fair is a look into the roots of our culture and traditions. It is a real beauty, equally passionate, intense and mystical.

Do not miss on the magnificence of the event and get enthralled from head to toe – The hustle-bustle begins on 3rd March 2011.

Read original article at: http://epaper.namoleague.com/EpaperArticle.aspx?title=bhavnath%20fair_513