On the Maheshwar Nimar Utsav, Ujjain Kalidasa Samaroha

At the Maheshwar Nimar Utsav, Ujjain Kalidasa Samaroha

Lengthy earlier than the programme began, folks had began occupying the broad stone steps that led up from the river financial institution to the large fort that loomed overhead. In entrance was an enormous embellished stage with authorities officers of all denominations hurrying right here and there, on the point of welcome the VIPs who have been about to enter. If I had any doubts about discovering a seat, it was quickly amended as strangers made approach and helped me quiet down too. I used to be within the pilgrim city of Maheshwar in Madhya Pradesh, ready for the official inauguration of the Nimar Utsav (Nimar Pageant). In its 28th 12 months, the pageant was an enormous draw, particularly because it needed to be cancelled final 12 months owing to the pandemic.

Having arrived the identical day from Indore, the closest airport metropolis, somewhat over 90km away by highway, I checked into Narmada Resort, the vacationer lodge operated by Madhya Pradesh State Tourism Improvement Company, and rushed to the lengthy row of Ghats stretching alongside the Narmada River flowing beneath the 18th century fort, the royal seat of Rani Ahilyabai Holkar, who reigned between 1767 and 1795. Though numerous claims date the unique fort to previous occasions, the current construction was largely designed by the queen when she moved her capital right here. The japanese gate of the fort results in the extremely sculpted cenotaphs (‘chhatri’) from the place you possibly can go all the way down to the financial institution of the river.

Nimar Utsav

The primary day of the pageant (November 19 to 21 this 12 months) had coincided with Kartik Purnima, an auspicious day celebrated throughout India, together with observing the beginning anniversary of Guru Nanak.

A glimpse of the Narmada Ghat on the day of Kartik PurnimaAs I walked alongside the size of the river financial institution (there are a variety of Ghats right here of which the Ahilya Ghat is the most well-liked), I discovered folks taking holy dips within the river adopted by prayers provided to the various Shivlingam dotting the higher tier of the Ghats. Some dispersed to sightsee across the city, some employed the native boats for a sail up and down the river, whereas others – principally women- settled down on the steps to vogue small lamps manufactured from flour. Tiny clay lamps have been additionally on sale.

Women making lamps for the evening ritual

The official inauguration of the Nimar Utsav was scheduled for the night however the occasions had begun since morning at totally different venues. The Rangoli contest had already begun by the point I arrived after an uphill stroll to the fort. Native folks, principally college students, participated within the contest. Though messages concerning learn how to comprise the COVID-19 virus seemed to be the frequent theme, solely few among the many members and the spectators wore masks. Native welfare organisations had additionally arrange stalls within the cenotaph complicated within the fort.

Local social welfare organisations had pitched in with handicraft stalls

Within the late afternoon, there was a contest themed on the very best embellished boats. Because the solar went down, the group regrouped alongside the financial institution to set the lamps afloat within the river. In the meantime the fort was additionally illuminated with colored lights.

Rangoli-making contest at Nimar Utsav

A snatch of holy tunes over the microphone jogged my memory that right here too a night ‘arati’ was organised each day. Whereas the monks raised the massive lamps and provided prayers to the river goddess Narmada, the group too joined within the chanting. After a chunk of some home-made native savouries on the meals kiosks arrange by native girls, I traced my approach again to the primary venue. The state’s tourism minister lit the ceremonial lamp to launch the programme, which was adopted by a martial arts demonstration, an awards giving ceremony and cultural programmes.

Subsequent day, I selected to spend the morning becoming a member of a Handloom Stroll. Madhya Pradesh Tourism Board had launched a number of occasions as a part of the Nimar Utsav and this was one in all them. The stroll began from the Rajwada, led by a information authorised by the state tourism board. Standing within the shadow of a tall statue of the queen, the information narrated the historical past of the textile.

In keeping with information, Rani Ahilyabai had invited weavers from neighbouring Malwa (from Gujarat in accordance with some) to show the artwork of textile weaving to the native folks as a part of her plans to make sure employment for her topics. She would reward the beautiful handwoven items to her royal visitors. With royal patronage, the celebrity of Maheshwari saree unfold far and vast. Even in the present day, the material is made on handlooms utilizing hand spun threads. Sadly, like many different hand-made conventional merchandise, the Maheshwari saree was additionally confronted with uneven competitors from machine-made textiles. Due to the REHWA Society, in the present day it’s got a recent lease of life.

At a Maheshwari saree handloom weaving centre

For the handloom stroll, the city has been divided into a number of zones and our information led us to Zone B, previous a decrepit however richly sculpted Chaturbhuj Narayan Temple. We went via just a few slender lanes earlier than rising on the Ahilya Vihar Colony. Many of the workshops have been positioned in part of the weavers’ houses. They additional enlightened us in regards to the manufacturing course of, including particulars such because the motifs used on the saris are principally drawn from the environment – the fort, the river and the flora. It was wonderful to look at them at work, expertly working the loom even after they regarded as much as discuss to us.

Apparently, to make visitors conscious of the handloom legacy of Maheshwar, the vacationer complicated has named its eating corridor/restaurant because the Handloom Café. The inside ornament has been executed with totally different objects used at hand weave the well-known Maheshwari saree.

Between watching the morning actions (a wrestling contest, malkhamb demonstration, a kayak race, and many others.) and having fun with the cultural programmes on the Ghat within the night, I visited the Rajwada positioned in part of the palace, and a number of the temples. On the Rajwada, the life and occasions of the queen have been exhibited via a show of artefacts related together with her. It was fascinating to seek out folks coming to pay their respects to the queen with as a lot devotion as they for the river financial institution and the temples. A piece of the palace has been transformed right into a luxurious lodge.

Shankar Mahadevan performing at Kalidasa Samaroha, Ujjain

Earlier than returning to Indore, I made a decision to pay a fast go to to Ujjain. Situated on the financial institution of the Shipra River, it’s each a pilgrim and a historic web site. All year long, pilgrims arrive from numerous elements of the nation to pay their respect to Mahakaleshwar, a manifestation of Shiva and one of many 12 ‘jyotirlingas’. It’s also one of many 4 locations the place the Kumbh Mela takes place. The town can be related to the well-known poet of India, Kalidasa, famous for his Sanskrit compositions, together with Kumarasambhavam, Abhijnanasakuntalam, Raghuvamsa, Meghaduta, amongst others.

Kathak recital at the Kalidasa Samaroha in Ujjain

I used to be fortunate to catch the final day of the Kalidasa Samaroh, a cultural pageant which started its journey in 1958. The week-long cultural pageant often begins on the Kartik Shukla Ekadashi (falls in November) and consists of theatrical, musical and dance performances, discourses, artwork and sculpture exhibitions, and many others. The Kalidasa Sanskrit Academy has been organising the pageant since 1979, with help from the state’s division of tradition and different organisations. Musical band Dhruvaa, who specialises in singing in Sanskrit, gave a rousing efficiency to a packed viewers. This was adopted by a play in Sindhi language. There was additionally an exhibition of sculptures and work primarily based on interpretations of the poet’s Abhijnanasakuntalam by fashionable artists.

Indore's famous food street 56 Dukan - you can see the numbering on top

As I returned to Indore (somewhat over an hour’s drive from Ujjain) to catch the flight dwelling, there was simply sufficient time to pay a go to to the well-known road meals nook generally known as Chappan (56) Dukan. An extended row of meals kiosks organized alongside one finish of a nicely maintained sq.. Nonetheless, now there are lots of different eating places and cafes alongside the alternative arm of the sq. including to the variability. Lastly, armed with just a few packing containers of the well-known candy of Indore, ‘gud gajak’ (comprised of sesame and jaggery), I headed for the airport.

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