Exam time in Barcelona, middle of the class my mother puts a picture of a beautiful bag and a purse says she bought it for me in Ragigudda jaathre.
The gush of memories played in my head. I think that was the time of the year where I saw the maximum number of people in my locality. To start off with, let’s locate Ragigudda Temple. It is in the southern part on Bengalooru in JP Nagar 2nd Phase but closer to Jayanagar 9th Block. The mythology says that this place had Ragi fields and was ruled by a PaaLegaara who was damn rich. He was as usual tested by gods as to how generous he was, his wife wasn’t hence the Trimurtis turned the heaps of ragi they grew to hillock(gudda) hence the name Ragigudda. The whole locality is situated on the hillock now. The jaathre(fair) doesn’t have a connection to this but a temple is built for the deity Anjaneya, and also a complex of many gods. Hence the birthday of Hanuman and the fair on his name.
For me it was the first shopping complex I went to, these are makeshift shops which are around 15 days a year only at the time of December (mostly after Deepavali and before Christmas/new year). All my relatives would come to visit the temple and take all the children of the house to buy whatever they like. I grew up in a middle-class joint family which seldom gave choices for children, I always thought there were only one shoe shop,one dress shop and one uniform shop in the whole world to buy stuff. I used to be amazed to see so many shops on the road selling so many things. It was a wonderland for me. Also, a chance to start demanding whatever I wanted, as it used to be a 15-day affair,there were 15 choices minimum to ask for whatever we wanted. My thaatha never bought us anything in the jaathre because there were no books,hence the torture to everyone else in the family. It used to start with I scored the first prize in singing,first rank in school and all the achievements of the year used to be presented (hence I never had problems in performance appraisal presentations in office 😛 ) to gain a certain sum of rupees to shop. It had to be increased every year to compare with cousins and depict we were growing up. As the money was sanctioned, we used to prepare the budget discussing with friends. How much to eat,how much for rides,how much for shopping and savings for next year. It was also a plan to befriend a shopkeeper and ask for maximum discounts and also shop during the closure of festivities as the prices would have dropped. All these economics was duly taught by the head of the family, amma. So our fair – game started.
As all the friends stayed in Jayanagar, the shops and rides were just in front of our houses. That meant befriending them was easy. First, say hi to kids of the shop,then aunty and finally uncle. It was easy. My house always had rides in front of it, hence my responsibility was that. Other friends had food, toys so we carefully managed it. The shopkeepers also used to benefit from it, we paid less to rides but brought a lot of other friends hence he had profit. We enjoyed all this, mum and grandma used to have their annual buys for everything. It was the most affordable for middle class. The temple was the best place that time,it made best prasadas and also alankaras to the deity. As we stayed in Jayanagar from a long time and because we were kids, we saw everything before the public saw. Singing talent helps that way because god’s in India don’t wake up or sleep without music. My grandmother thought that was a privilege to sing in front of god,but for me, it was that I saw the whole alankaara and also got Prasada.
There used to be Katcheris of great musicians, few older people say they heard Yesudas, Balamurali Krishna there but for me it was Vid. Vidyabhooshana for the first time. Also, my first katcheri happened at the temple premises. I never knew that it took the effort to go there but I did it. Growing up, my grandfather told me that the kids in the shops never went to school, I was shocked. I asked them they said they never went to school as their parents shift shops every 20 days all over India. That was something I was not ok with. I felt I am encouraging the wrong set of people by buying from them. Slowly my thaatha explained the reality and I was shell shocked. Neither the BBMP nor the temple takes any care of these people and they do not have toilets,a home or food at their service. I imagined the plight of women during their periods and of pregnant women. It was ridiculous. I felt ashamed of not knowing any problem and asking for a discount blatantly, I always thought they were happy because they never expressed grief. My mother was subjective in the discount, she never asked everyone but only if it didn’t fit her budget she would. I didn’t do that, few ajji’s of the shop used to give for whatever price we asked as we were kids. I promised to not to do this crap anymore and told my friends. We were all grown up to 13 – 14 years that time, hence we went and explained the ‘sarva shikshana abhiyaan’ and how it is important to go to school for kids. It was successful as we saw fewer kids next year. But our priority changed on jaathre.
It was to be irritated for the garbage they created,open defecation and also 0 accountability from the ruling government. This was a no man’s fair,nobody asked or there were no rules. Our locality could not sustain it with so many people. The biggest mall was constructed and traffic increased,the IT capital and cosmopolitan-ness rose at a rate we heard less Kannada even in jaathre. It became a nuisance to the public, the residents found it very difficult to even move around. I remember the roads were blocked and there was an ambulance at a street stuck and the residents fought to remove the barricade. Such situations made the jaathre very very horrible. Now all of our generation has mostly moved out and the older generation stays there, it has become not so acceptable for them. The cause is forgotten and no human values are respected. Nevertheless, from past few years,the residents of the place silently go to the temple and pray to the diety to give some peace to the locality. I miss going to the temple and singing there and shopping of course. But my mother never allowed me to forget, because she always bought something for me and my sister. Because on jaathre’s you never say no to a kid isn’t it? My mother said all the shop vendors have PayTM’s now to support Modi’s demonetization. Amazing it changed from 50paisa to PayTM’s.
So the fair is on till the next weekend, Monday is the main day and it is one of the biggest gatherings of Bengaluru after Karaga,Kadlekai Parishe, St Mary’s feast. Forget the cosmopolitan-ness of Bangalore and soak yourself in Bengaluru Jaathre to know what Bengaluru was before. Do not forget the awesome puliyogare and the best bajji, the rides and random ajji’s comments on your cuteness. I love chaos, I cannot take a lot of silence coming here to Barcelona, I miss the chaos because I was told I was too loud in the morning in my apartment getting accustomed here I went and told my landlady to not run the taps faster as it makes a lot of sounds. I am scared I would become silent and I would start complaining like here that my city is chaotic. I love the noise, the chaos because chaos has life in it rest is all dead!
Enjoy the fair and let me know !
The pictures are from my mother Sowmya Suma