Sunday, October 29, 2006

Chhat Puja at Juhu Beach

[For the uninformed or the non-biharis, do go through this if you want to know what Chhat is and what it means to us.]

For 3 years in a row, I've had to read how lakhs of people turn up at Juhu beach for Chhat puja delebrations and curse myself for not being a witness. Afterall Chhat was a fest I looked forward to when I was back home, as you might have judged by the link I gave. Anyway this time I along with Rajeev and Abir gathered enough courage to see what it's like. Priyanka Chopra's expected presence made the choice that much easier.

Everybody seemed to be going to Juhu. We were stuck in traffic for a very long time. Long enough to witness sugarcane sticks tied together kept on top of taxis, women with sindoor upto their noses sitting in luggage autorickshaws and open trucks, sounds of typical Chhat songs floating around. Quintessential Chhat atmosphere. We might as well have been in Jamshedpur, or Patna for that matter, if the Best buses and the big black Merc parked alongside were to be neglected.

We finally reached Juhu beach. This was the my first visit to this oh-so-famous tourist spot; as you might guess I'm not too keen on symbols. Tourist symbols at those. The sun had set and hence the puja was over, which was a huge letdown. Nevertheless the gathering was unprecedented. Here's a pic to give an idea:

One sea meets the other

And this was just the sparse side. On the other side two huge stages had been put up. One by the Bihari Front, organised by Sanjay Niruapm, and the other by Uttar Bharat something something. The Uttar Bharat one had some freaky show where 2 singers singing bhojpuri songs were hung up in the air in a box by a huge crane which moved them around in the air while a spotlight miserably tried to follow them. Scary stuff, quite obviously the kind the crowds liked. The Sanajy Nirupam one was slightly more sober and politicsed. He greeted the crowd in Bhojpuri and Maithili (that's my mother tongue if you're wondering) and then continued in heavily Bihari accented hindi. He mentioned how he fought with the BMC and moved the SC to allow celebrations of Chhat at Juhu, with loudspeakers and firecrackers and all. He then welcomed Maragret Alva, some top post holder in Congress (yeah I can't recall what) who he stressed multiple times had flown from Delhi for specifically this purpose. The crowd believed him and cheered wildly. Alva came on to speak. The firecrackers that were bursting in the background one after another maintained a better speed than the words in her Hindi speech. I don't think that shook the belief of the crowd.

We came, we saw, we came back

We got bored by now. Announcements were made that Nagma (bhojpuri film actress) and Manoj Tiwari and some other household names of Bhojpuri entertainment would continue with the show. Later Priyanka Chopra would grace the stage with her presence. She has a pretty face allright, but risking your life (we were intimidated by the potentially stampedisih crowd, yes) for a pretty face who won't even get to know that you did, didn't seem to be great idea. Plus we felt terribly out of place, and prasad would not be handed until morning session of Puja. We decided to give it a pass.

But not before Abir tried his hands at his new found hobby: abstract photography.

10 more days and I shall be a werewolf again

Gathering experiences, not of the terribly wild kind, is a quest; probably even a purpose. Here goes another one.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

saala akele akele ghoom ke aa gaya na!