Sunday, 10 January 2016

Shahjahanabad Shooting Diaries- Day 8- Jain Mandir Yatra

We had visited the Jain Mandirs earlier, and the people there were so nice, they even invited us to the Yatra that they take out every year on the 4th of January (and to  post-Yatra lunch as well)!*

They took address of the Sahapedia office and told us that they would send us an invitation card! Then came Christmas and New Year's, and we completely forgot about it! On the first working Monday of 2016, still enjoying my holidays, after deep oil therapy I was sitting soaking in the warm sun in my balcony. Suddenly around 10am, I received a call from my colleague who said that they have received the card from Jain temple authorities, and he was going to cover it! What followed was a mad rush to get ready. But, by the time I reached, the Yatra had started.
I kept asking my colleague for directions and in the loud background noise he kept directing me to Chhattas and Mohallas I had not even heard the name of!
When I would reach there, the procession would move to another place! It was a game of game of "Catch the Rath, if you can" in the crowded Chandni Chowk streets, with traffic stopped at most places. The crazy Chandni Chowk traffic got even more crowded! I finally gave up chasing the Rath Yatra around Chandni Chowk and told my colleague to wait at Town Hall in the middle of Chandni Chowk for me. It was around 11.30am by now!
Fortunately, my colleague had reached early and captured some of the procession before the battery of his Video camera ran out! (We were not prepared, and our Day was not looking too good!)

Embedded image permalink   By this time our other colleague had come from Gurgaon and he had with him the Still Camera. We did find the Rath Yatra on the main street of Chandni Chowk preceded by a Band, dhol, naggade, school kids doing some aerobics, etc. and a crowd of devotees.

We decided that we would wait for the Rath Yatra to reach the temple. The entire narrow Kinari Bazar lane was choc-a- bloc with people, rickshaws and two-wheelers! We somehow made our way through the crowds and reached the Jain temple.  The street was decorated, there were some empty chairs and in an unoccupied, old haveli tent had been put up. There was hardly anybody at the temple. We waited for some time, the kids in the street were also wearing fancy clothes and some women were chatting outside the temple. It was a no-cooking day for them. The scheduled program was pasted outside near the main Gate.

We met Pappu Ram the Mandir's All in One man (cook/artist), who happily chatted with us and invited us to the Haveli where Lunch preparations were going on.There were big cauldrons of different dishes like Shahi Paneer, Pulao, Dal, Kaju- Matar, Halwa, Kheer. Two types of hot pooris were being fried (plain and besan).The Haveli had a long table with dishes, the inside part was for women and table on the outside were for men.

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Embedded image permalinkThe head chef Rama Kant Sharma, cooking since the age of 17, was now putting dry fruits on Kheer and Halwa.
Embedded image permalinkEmbedded image permalink After making sure that the food was all good and done, we came out on the street as it was time almost for the procession to return. Everybody who lived in that street was out, waiting excitedly. First came the students of Jain Public School, then Nagada walas, band walas, bigul walas, the atmosphere got all noisy.    

Embedded image permalinkEmbedded image permalinkThe palki came from the side of the street as devotees lined up to give a shoulder to it. The rest of the rath came from the backside. The street on the Kinari Bazar side, the rath completely blocked the street. It was as wide as the street. As they dismantled the different parts of the Rath, we managed to capture it on camera, just by sheer luck!
As people on the street got all excited with the coming of the Rath, some even took off their shoes as the Palki went by. There were more rituals to be followed at the Mandir basement. We went inside to catch a glimpse but since it was crowded, we went over to the back side and saw the entire Rath getting dismantled there. The laborers who had carried/ accompanied the Rath at various points were waiting for their wages and food here. We took our time, got some very nice shots and came inside. In the open verandah on the ground floor, there were some people. A big, bulky guy asked my colleague to click his photo with his mother. Then, asked for our details and wanted his picture mailed to him on his id (hello.hisname@gmail). We made a promise with no intention of keeping it. He was extremely rude, tried to act important and later had a fight with another man on the street! More like most Mamus' act when there is wedding in the house! While I used the occasion to congratulate my colleague on being upgraded to "an event/shadi photographer", and he narrated stories of how people misuse his skill with the camera!
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Once the crowds thinned, we finally went to thank the Secretary for the invitation. He insisted that we should eat. We were a bit hesitant but after this green signal went straight to the Haveli where food was being served.

Embedded image permalink As I tried to make my way towards the Table where food was, some men told me to go to the "Ladies" section. It was on the inner side of the Hall. I went there, served food on my plate and ate. The food was rich and heavy, as Janis do not use any root vegetable, including onion/garlic, they make up for it with cream and other dry fruits. Everything was cooked in desi ghee.  We even spotted Anubhav Sapra who had also come to taste the Jain food, but found it spicy. He introduced us to the other residents of the street, some we had met before (like Atam Aggarwal), we did our courtesy "namaste's", finished our food and left through a busy, crowded Kinari Bazar street.

*(For detailed post on Jain Mandirs, please see-

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