Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Ganesh Chaturthi à la Pottery Town!

Lord Ganesha

I had been meaning to go to Pottery Town for quite sometime now. But something or the other always came up at the last minute. The last attempt, a week back, had to be cancelled as rain played spoilsport. So this Sunday, I was glad to be finally in Pottery Town despite a not-so-good weather forecast. Pottery Town is a street full of pottery vendors in East Bangalore behind Frazer Town, quite close to the Cantonment Railway Station. It was formed years back when the Government decided to give a piece of land on lease to a group of 60 potter families. The profession has been carried on for more than three generations with currently more than 20 families still in business.

In progress clay idols of Lord Ganesh

The place provides a great opportunity to see the world of potters and their workmanship. The entire life cycle of pottery can be experienced, right from wheels making pottery to drying them in symmetric way and finally burning them in kilns to make the final product. The pots are then painted using spray paints and kept in shops for sale. Mahendra and I reached the place early, around eight in the morning, hoping to get some pictures of potters turning their wheels and moulding clay into beautiful pots. But we were in for a pleasant surprise.

Statues of Lord Ganesha

The whole place was transformed in anticipation of Ganesh Chaturthi which was the next day. Beautiful idols of Lord Ganesha in myriad shapes, sizes and colors, each depicting the Lord in different poses adorned the streets. Several makeshift tents had scores of completed and work in progress statues with artisans putting finishing touches.

An artisan putting the finishing touches

Ganesh Chaturthi, also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi or Vinayaka Chavithi or simply Ganeshotsav, is one of the most joyous of Indian festivals. The day marks the birth of Lord Ganesha, the benign elephant-headed god, considered the destroyer of all evils and harbinger of good luck. Lord Ganesha is the lord of all the good qualities in us. He is also the lord of knowledge and wisdom. It is believed that when we worship Lord Ganesha, all good qualities will blossom in us.

Trying a zoom in while capturing Lord Ganesha statue

People across the country, and even abroad, celebrate Ganeshotsav with great zeal and passion. But the celebrations are opulent, colourful and elaborate in Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur and the entire coastal belt of Konkan where thousands of small villages annually come alive with the music and lights of Ganeshotsav. In this region, the festivities were started by Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, the first popular leader of the Indian Independence Movement, cocking a snook at the then British government. During the British Rule of India, common public was prohibited from gathering in large numbers. Lokmanya Tilak founded the publicly celebrated Ganeshotsav Festival as a means of promoting the dream of Indian Independence, uniting people from diverse groups, and enhancing their sense of social belonging.

Lord Ganesha

Wishing everyone a happy Ganesh Chaturthi! Ganapati Bappa Morya! Mangal Murti Morya!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Celebrating 66 Years of Freedom - Happy Independence Day!


15 August 1947, India became a free nation. Pandit Nehru's landmark speech captures the essence of the political freedom from the British Empire, "at the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance."


India did not achieve its independence from the British Empire on a silver platter. It was the culmination of decades of struggle led by revolutionaries like Chandrasekhar Azad, Bhagat Singh, Mahatma Gandhi, Netaji Subhash Chadra Bose and countless others. In those days Indians weren't considered equal to the foreigners who ruled over them in their own country. Today, all Indians enjoy equal rights irrespective of their race or region. We have the freedom of speech and expression, freedom for life and freedom for hope. We owe our freedom to those unsung heroes who made supreme sacrifices in India's freedom struggle so that we grew up in a free country.


On August 15, we celebrated the 67th Independence Day. The Flag hoisting followed by the National Anthem and some cultural programs is the norm. On this day. the whole nation is gripped by a fervent wave of patriotism. Vehicles, public and private, can be seen sporting the national flag as they ply to and fro. Shops which remain open, are usually spruced up in tricolours, some flying the national flag at the shop entrances. Youngsters adorn themselves with the tricolours of the national flag displaying it on scarves, badges, wristbands, hairbands or face paintings. The spirit is reinforced as most television channels start play patriotic movies and songs as a build up to the Independence Day. The whole nation rejoices in happiness and celebration, saluting the ones who made this possible.


Sadly, this euphoric feeling of unity and big hearted patriotism doesn't last more than 24 hours. People get back to their well paying jobs and cozy lifestyles once the fervour wears off. Rakesh Sharma, the first Indian to fly into space, was asked a question on how India looked from space by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. He responded, "Saare Jahan Se Acha, Hindusthan Humara!" Given the humble start and plethora of challenges faced by our country, its achievements over the last 66 years are quite remarkable. As a proud Indian, I believe we can be the best. But only if the citizens of this great nation sustain the Independence Day spirit for 365 days of the year. Vande Mataram!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Eid-ul-Fitr - Celebrations in Bangalore!


I was up today at the crack of dawn, which is rather unusual for me. One of my shutterbug buddies woke me up to join him in capturing the festivities of Eid-ul-Fitr. Yesterday the moon had been sighted. My friend proposed going to Fraser Town where a good gathering was expected. So there I was was sitting huddled in the backseat of his Scooty Pep, quietly chiding myself for forgetting my jacket, as we travelled from BTM to Fraser Town.


In Bangalore, Eid-ul-Fitr is celebrated with great fervour and gaiety. This festival marks the culmination of the fasting month of Ramzan (also known as Ramdan). Eid-ul-Fitr literally means the festival of breaking the fast. During Ramzan, Muslims fast from dawn till sunset with no food or water. The idea behind the fasting is that by experience hunger, they will develop compassion for the less fortunate.


Thousands of Muslims clad in traditional attire trooped to the nearest Idgahs and mosques to offer the special Eid namaaz. Mass prayers were held at mosques. The namaaz was followed by warm exchange of greetings and embrace spreading the message of love and unity.


My friend and I were well in time for the Eid namaaz and got some good pictures. In fact, we had a gala time. An early wake-up meant a rather long day but it has been good fun. Eid Mubarak!

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Tryst with the Shutter Bug by Ramakant Pradhan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.