Having grown up outside Maharashtra, I never bothered to look beyond the Tamil new year and goodies to eat on this holiday of 14th April. Tamil New Year, Bengali and Assamese New Year, Baisakhi etc are commonly celebrated. But Ambedkar Jayanthi was nothing more than two words written on a calender under the date marked in red. That was until today.
The creepy, industrial district of Pimpri-Chinchwad came alive. Usually the first to empty out after the industries give over and then echoing with the whirring of the huge trailors and trucks taking out consignments to different locations, things were unrecognizable today. As I walked back from the city, filled to the brim with Mocha’s Chocolate Avalanche (being my friend’s brithday) my eyes widened in wonder. There were multiple processions, colourful and bright with blaring music and people dressed as if a carnival was on. It was in fact. Women, children, men and entire families dressed in their finery, dancing, singing, celebrating. As we walked back, processions after processions followed and it was truly entertaining.
Ambedkar’s photographs were in collage with Shivaji, Gautam Buddha and a host of other deities/ leaders. Entire statues of his carved in plastic, fresh huge garlands of flowers draped around them, little replicas of his stupa in Nagpur were distributed all over the place. Traffic jams ensued for kilometers on one of the busiest highways in the country. Professional DJ’s were called and dard-e-disco and I am a disco dancer blared from powerful loudspeakers, disco lights were set up in the middle of the streets and the most unruly sect of our country was dancing. It got scary after a while to see hooligans jumping up and down on the road.
A little anger started creeping up inside me. He is the sole reason for this reservation crap in our country. I’m not even starting on that topic since I lose my cool every single time I think about it. It was perhaps needed then but in today’s times, reformation of those laws are what is most needed. But then, I decided to empathize. Maybe, if there was this individual because of whom me and my three further generations can blissfully enjoy special rights in all the right places, I might as well join that gala procession.
In the midst of this, my Tamil New Year lay forgotten. A lot of unexpected things to come this year and all I can hope for is that it all works out well.
I still can’t get over the sight of Ambedkar’s photograph morphed with that of Shivaji and people dancing dard-e-disco under it with disco lights on the highway with a near 4 kilometer long traffic jam behind them.
I love my country. It surprises me no end!