Monday, February 13, 2017

Haldi Kumkum

 It was the end of Sankranti season. Sankranti begins generally by 14-15th of January & continues for a fortnight ending with RathaSaptami. Rathsaptami had gone by & Sankranti was over.

In Maharashtra where I stay, Sankranti is celebrated by Hindu women inviting each other for Haldi Kumkum. And gifts are exchanged. Basically, small gifts are given though as status rises, gifts have got bigger & bigger. Nowadays, in large communities across the state, ladies collect money & go in for a community haldi kumkum .And gifts, therefore, are bigger. This helps in giving them a
feeling of togetherness. Ladies, who are mostly housewives have their brief spell of fun & frolic.And the best part, is they pool money to  buy things for their homes or themselves which they may be unable to buy if they brought it alone.Things are brought in  from wholesale markets & bulk  discounts make things affordable.

I asked my maid, the other day , about  the community Sankranti gift received by her, this time. And she said, that they had haldi kumkum the night before.I said ,"And how is that  Sankranti haldi kumkum ? Because Rathsaptami just got over. "My maid clarified, "It was an  election haldi kumkum."Then, she went on to explain, that a particular party candidate standing for the Municipal elections in their area is a woman.She had got a stage set up in their community area. She gifted  steel bowls to ladies.My maid continued  that ladies had  come from all far flung areas in the city, simply for the purpose of collecting bowls.She further added that ladies would collect bowls on behalf of all female members in the family.My maid collected three bowls- one each, for   her daughter, for her mom in law  &  for herself.And they came with one til ladoo each to signify sweetness ( the bitter pill of election was thus sugar coated ). And to think, that  for one  steel bowl with an added til ladoo, people are expected to vote for a particular candidate is just too simplistic . Is the vote of a  citizen so cheap ? Maybe, the electorate is more smarter than anyone can give it credit for.

My maid went on to say that there were some games as well.She won the musical chairs game.And what was the prize, I was curious. My maid laughed heartily & said, 'I was told that Paithani saree is the prize.I waited for prize distribution till 10.30 pm.The madam, sorry the female candidate was to come after 10.30 to do prize distribution & urge people to vote for her ."I asked ,"How can Paithani saree be given as prize ?'Paithani saree is made of silk & woven with gold & silver.And genuine Paithani sarees cost  a few thousands.

Paithan in Maharashtra is famous for its famed Paithani sarees.Thesea re made of silk with silver & gold woven into them.And each saree takes  long paintstaking weaving time of the skilled weavers to turn into the alluring sarees which are coveted by all !

My maid  said, 'Of course, its affordable will be a  semi Paithani saree ( silk & some other fabric woven together bringing down the cost  of the saree...& no silver or gold woven into it  ) ".My maid said that she waited in that awful windy cold weather for the prized Paithani saree.Because she felt, if she left, without waiting for the prize, somebody else would take it away. If one is not vigilant , one's vote would be snatched away & bogus voting would result.And her patience paid off & she got her prize.And no , it was not a Paithani saree .It was just a polyester saree in blue colour !

I laughed . She laughed as well.Perhaps, its symbolic of what the electorate votes for, looking at the manifestos & then gets nothing after the party comes to power. This happens election after election.Every five years, someone or the other, fools us to vote for them .And thereafter, refuses to deliver on promises made.

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