I continue with my disappointment with my people in Jalandhar. In spite of the fact that Guru Ravidass Jayanti was celebrated with a lot of fan fair and gusto, as usual like every year, by the people themselves but the so called leaders or organisers ( if there was one as the outpouring and participation was spontaneous by the masses) failed to add anything positive to smoothen the flow of humanity in the town in shape of Shoba Yatra and participation in the Kirtan Darbars and other related functions. I don't think that anybody deserves any credit for this except the people themselves. The high spirits and the enthusiasm among the followers of the great Guru was a clear indication of the growing power of the community and the space they had created for themselves in the society. But as the electricity generated cannot be stored and it has to be transmitted and used it is so for the spirit and energy of the human activity also. I only pray that the energy of the community is utilised and channelised to the larger good before the natural resultant fatigue sets in. Our leaders must understand that. I request for their consideration and action before it gets late.
I again went to Jalandhar in April. I mostly remained busy in settling down and getting my flat functional and did not try to specially reach out to my friends. The visit coincided with the Ambedkar Jayanti on April 14. Bootan Mandi again for almost 5 decades remained the centre for Ambedkar's mission and philosophy.I recall as a cherished memory when as a student I along with my father participated in the Jaloos ( Shoba Yatra) to observe the Jayanti which used to start from the Mandi. I was impressed by the speeches of Lahori Ram Balley and others like Charan Dass Nidhadak and also community songs by Lal Chand Kamla on the traditional Punjabi music instrument called Tumbi. The poetic flair and touch was given by Pritam Ramdaspuri and Jakhmi Jalandhari on the occasion. I distinctly remember the Qwali evenings at Bootan Mandi under the sarparasthi ( stwerdship ) of Kartara Ram Madhas and the nearby Ambedkar Bhawan. Till the 70's, unfortunately, Ambedkar did not find favour with common Congressman. He was considered a political leader of the political outfits opposed to the Congress. The situation changed and rightly so as the mission and work of Dr. Ambedkar was potent enough to embrace one and all of the oppressed segments of the society. The ground realities of the vote bank politics compelled the Congress and the others like BJP and Akalis not to neglect Ambedkar and sensivities attached to his name and work. The acceptability of Ambedkar and his recognition is great and more than ever. It is a matter of great satisfaction. But again the menace of selfish and limited agenda of the self appointed leaders and self seekers was prevailing. The Shoba Yatra started from Bootan Mandi was again a divided lot. Others joined on the way. I also participated but with a sense or remorse. The public participation was spontaneous but the political presence and participation was more symbolic and under somewhat compulsion. It was almost lifeless except the sound and fury of the hired Bandbaza. There was no slogans. There was no song and dance. The only difference from the old days to that of the new was that there were Langars on the way and on the conclusion of the Yatra. I think, it demonstrates economic wellbeing and prosperity of the community. The public meetings took the backstage and one or two meetings on the occasion were poorly attended. There are lessons to learn if we intend to remain in the reckoning. We may ignore Ambedkar but at our own perils. The leadership is much to be desired. The younger generation particularly the educated shall come forward. There is no other way. Let me close with an Urdu couplet:
तू पहले बात फिर बात का अंदाज़ पैदा कर;
फिर तुजे ज़माने में नज़र अंदाज़ कर नहीं सकता !
PS: Just today, I have seen a video on the Youtube of a function at the Ambedkar Technical Institute at Jalandhar. The bust of Ambedkar was washed with milk and water before it was garlanded. It is a good symbolism but we shall not get too ritualistic. That is what I feel.