Politicians make a mandatory appearance in the early hours on Gandhi Jayanti at the Rajghat, their pristine white khadi clothes looking brighter in the mild sun. It is a sombre occasion, repeated every year with customary piety; telecast with strains of Bhajans and occasional chirping of birds in the background. The Khadi Gramodyog Bhawan near Regal in Connaught Place announces its annual discount sale, providing khadi lovers with an opportunity to stock up on their favourite apparel. With the introduction of designer khadi, it is no longer the staid fabric it once was. It has come a long way from the days of the freedom movement, turning itself into a cool and happening material for designer wear.
Huge images of Ravana take shape in various areas across the city, complete with 10 oversized heads. As they near completion, they are mounted in large grounds; their enormous bodies stuffed with firecrackers. Two smaller figures of Kumbhakarna and Meghnad stand on either side of Ravana. On Dusshera, around dusk, these go up in flames, filling the surroundings with deafening sounds from the firecrackers as they catch fire. The colossal effigies start collapsing, symbolising victory of good over evil. This spectacle takes place at many locations, prominent among them being the Ramlila Maidan and the Subhash Maidan.
Karva Chauth, familiar to everybody thanks to Hindi movies, is a big day for married women. They observe a fast, praying for the well-being and long life of their husbands. One can see heavily made up women in most neighbourhoods, sporting bright red sarees or dresses, their arms full with glass bangles and palms covered with intricate henna designs. Looking at the evening moon through a sieve, they accept the first sip of a drink or the first bite of food from their life partners. This must have been a private ritual that families observed in the confines of their homes. But almost all our festivals are turning commercial and Karva Chauth is no exception. Shops selling women's merchandise announce sales and beauty parlours offer special packages for this festival, giving it a new dimension altogether.
|Photo by nkjain [CC-BY-SA-2.0]|