Rāmā Kātha

During my final exams for Masters, Banaras Hindu University hosted a festival of Rāmāyana from other South-east Asian countries; everyday in the evening one country or the other presented a retelling of their version of the story in dance drama format. That was my first initiation to various versions of the epic Rāmāyana. AK Ramanujan…

Our Holi lunch

Festivals in India are closely linked with food especially in UP households where there is different menu for each festival. Even though Punjabis, since we lived in Banaras our food habits have been influenced by UP-Bihar traditions and some from the home rituals followed by my Grandmother. Holi as a festival transcends between summer and…

Taste of Banaras

Banarasi khana is unique in its taste - very different from its Western UP counterpart or even Punjabi cuisine. Banarasi cuisine over centuries has created its own taste with influence from Bihar and Bengal, even taken inspiration from Muslim rulers and inhabitants. In Banaras, one even finds an Italian pizzeria, a Japanese restaurant or a…

Khele mashane mein Holi

Holi across the world is largely associated with Krishna, and people flock to Brijbhoomi to witness the festivities. Even the songs or paintings that celebrate this colourful festival centers around this playful God. But in the city of Shiva - Banaras (Kashi or Varanasi), Rangbhari Ekadashi marks the beginning of the festival six days before…

The cacophony of Indian bazaars

Before the air-conditioned malls there were markets, and before these sanitised ubiquitous Galleria/ Defence Colony/ Khan Markets of Indian cities there were traditional Indian bazaars. Some of these bazaars were static in a smaller locality like Vishwanath Gali in Varanasi or Indira Market of Noida and some were moving bazaars called haats which travelled to…

Rang de Basanti

"If winter comes, can Spring be far behind?" That's so true ... Albeit with a barely there winter season, Basant Panchami seems to be early this year. This day officially marks the beginning of a brief spring season in India. Basant Panchami has special significance for people of BHU, the day celebrates the anniversary of…

Adieu

In the last few months I have had to say Goodbye to two homes I have ever lived in my life time.  One was a home I was brought to after I was born, my parents got that official accommodation from Banaras Hindu University just a few months before I was born. That's the garden…

Lucky 13!

13 years and a long journey ... An address book with 1500 plus names, some acquaintances, some crossing that invisible line to become friends. Adding to the ever expanding encyclopedia of mind and heart, creating new memories on the way!   Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing... So on the…

Celebrating Eid… My way!

As I promised myself yesterday, I am back! And keeping another promise to self, had a lazy day ... Well almost, apart from couple of calls, few emails and some whatsapp messages with other people who were sadly working!I had music on my mind, and as I rummaged in the shelf found a 1960 Akashvani recording…

To the Eternal City …

I have made two trips within a fortnight to the world's oldest living city, Banaras. The city as usual inspires me, takes me back to the roots of Hinduism, but sometimes also disillusions me. On my last visit I landed on the Maha Ashtami during Navratras, and the whole city was doused in the religious…

Dil maange more!

Another classical musical evening, a slice of Banaras, and memories of time gone by. Listening to three generations of violin player playing together, N Rajam with her daughter and grand-daughter, transported me to my childhood days, when she shared the boundary wall with my masi, and we could hear the strains of violin almost throughout…