Monday, February 22, 2016

Guru Ravidass Gurpurab and Bootan Mandi

Satguru Ravidass Dham at Bootan Mandi, Jalandhar

Today, February 22, is Guru Ravidassji’s Gurpurab. It is celebrated all over India and abroad wherever the followers of the great guru reside. As usual, this year also the Gurpurab is being celebrated and observed with pomp and show and desired solemnity at Bootan Mandi, a locality in Jalandhar where my roots are. Bootan Mandi is decked like a bride. Each and every house and building in and around Bootan Mandi is illuminated like Diwali. The glory of Satguru Ravidass Dham, as expected, gets all the more enhanced with the resultant gaiety. The entire Bootan Mandi becomes a splendid venue of a huge mela for three days. There was a mammoth Shobha Yartra (procession) in this regard on February 20, a regular feature of the celebrations. A sea of humanity, spontaneously, comes out with flags, bands, dhols, tableaus, dance and music, langars; make shift stages to welcome the Yatra which creates a spectacle of huge a mela covering the entire city of Jalandhar. Sometimes it tends to become a scene of traffic chaos but by and large people know this before hand and happily accept it as it comes as it has become an important date in the life of the city for almost 80 years. I was told that Shobha Yatra (earlier known as Jaloos) was taken out for the first time in 1937 under the leadership of Seth Kishan Dass and Seth Sunder Dass. It starts from Bootan Mandi with the huge drum (Tamak) on the lead
Drum (Tamak) at Shobha Yatra
as the fore-bearer of the Jaloos, covering the main thoroughfares of the city, after replenishing and raising the Nishan Sahib (flag) at the headquarters of Ad-Dharam Mandal at Mohalla Kishanpura. It terminates in the evening at Bootan Mandi from where it originated. Over the years, the event has gained much in size and content which is a clear demonstration of the increasing empowerment of the followers of Guru Ravidass.  I wrote about Bootan Mandi and the Gurpurab of Guru Ravidass in this blog many a times before. Today, I will write about this from a different perspective.

On the Gurpurab day, there was a tradition of hosting a Kavi Darbar (poetry recital) session in the evening. It used to be a good tradition. I vividly remember the kavi darbars in the late 1960s in which famous and renowned poets like Vidhata Singh Teer, Hazara Singh Mustak, Kartar Singh Balagan, Charan Singh Safri, Gurdass Ram Alam, Pritam Ramdasspuri, Chanan Lal Manik, Bhagmal Pagal among many others regaled the audiences year after year with their poetic renditions along with their singer counterparts like, inter alia, Piara Singh Panchi, Lal Chand Kamla, Narinder Biba, Mohan Bangar. In those years, these celebrations were conducted with spiritual dedication and sobriety. It was my honour to be one of the organizers of these functions as General Secretary of the then Guru Ravidass Welfare Society. Later, if I say so, with the further economic prosperity of the Seths, who came to the helm to manage such functions of Bootan Mandi, money got a higher
Shobha Yatra at Bootan Mandi
manifestation and they started to invite some of the highest paid professional singers who entertained the audiences with their well equipped orchestras. It will not be an exaggeration to say that if their names are listed it will become a Who’s Who of the top notch Punjabi singers. Hans Raj Hans remained on the lead for many years in this regard as he identified himself with the Bootan Mandi crowd as one of them and rightly so. His famous rendition “Do Patar Anaran De; je Sanu Milan Hove Behde Aajan Chamara De” sung in modified Punjabi folk style “Mahaiya” at Bootan Mandi became an instant hit. His famous number at Bootan Mandi was “
Sohna Punjab da shehar Jalandhar Bootan Mandi Jisde Andar”. As the missionary songs like “Sare Kar Lao Eka Begumpura Vasauna Aa” sung by the vivacious and beautiful singer Miss Pooja and a young athletic K.S. Makhan’s “Sanu Babasaheb Ne Dite Laike Haq Barabar De”. My own kith and kin, my Chachaji Jai Ram Parwana and brother Paramjit also contributed positively to the process. Their songs were sung by famous singers like Hans Raj Hans and others at the celebrations of Gurpurab at Bootan Mandi many a times. Jai Ram Parwana’s song “Sare Nar Nari Karde Shingar Ji; Aj Bootan Mandi Lage Mutyar Ji” got much acclaim. Paramjit also remained the General Secretary of Guru Ravidass Educational and Charitable Trust for many years in the 1990s.

As I said, the growing clout and prosperity in and around Bootan Mandi and also its resultant awakening and empowerment, the character of these celebrations also saw a drastic change in content and style. The writers and singers vied among themselves to come out with new songs and albums every year invoking the name of Bootan Mandi in their songs and performances. I heard live last year at Bootan Mandi,  Sufi singers Nooran Sister, who also have their roots (grand daughters of famous Bibi Nooran of Bootan Mandi) in Bootan Mandi, their rendition “Bootan Mandi Aake Lag Janda Dil Bhagto”.  The legendry Kanth Kaler praising the spectacular illumination and fun and frolic at Bootan Mandi sang “Bootan Mandi Aajo Jihne Wekhna Nazara Eh.” K.S. Makhan performed at Bootan Mandi with élan “ Vich Bootan Mandi De Aj Laggiyan Ronkan Bhari “ and “Sajawat Karke Kar Gaye Jhandi lishka Mare Bootan Mandi.” Another son of the soil, Master Saleem, who will also perform today at Bootan Mandi, sang some years before “Aawo Sangte Aj Nachiye Te Gaayiye Aapan; Bootan Mandi Janam Dihada Khushiyan Naal Manayiye Aapan.”  He might come up with some other number invoking Bootan Mandi to please the devoted audience. Yet another young Bootan Mandian Sonu Sunil wrote and sang “Bootan Mandi Dhol Wajda; Dhol Wajda Te Naal Nagade.” Babbu Jalandharia has come out with his latest number “Bootan Mandi Mela Lageya; Painde Bhangre Te Lagde Jai Kaare Bootan Mandi Mela Lageya.” The majestic Satguru Ravidass Dham along with the entire area of Bootan Mandi and around has been fully illuminated today that is why it has been sung by Shashi Shahid “Jagmag-Jagmag Kardi Sadi Bootan Mandi.” There may be many more such compositions and songs on the celebrations of the Gurpurab of Guru Ravidassji at Bootan Mandi which have missed my attention.

 It is a matter of satisfaction and pride for Bootan Mandians like me on one hand and food for introspection and thought, on the other, as to how should the elated position of Bootan Mandi be protected and maintained. It worries me sometimes as what I see and witness, of late, is not very much encouraging. The people at the helm, it seems, have no vision. They are engaged in their narrow agendas and directionless pursuits. The community is on the upswing in general but the coveted status of Bootan Mandi, it seems, is on the path of erosion. It is a matter of concern. Bootan Mandi produced stalwarts like Seth Kishan Dass, who was an MLA before partition, Seth Khushi Ram who was the Vice President of Jalandhar Municipal Committee in the 1970s, Piara Ram Dhanowalia (though he belonged to Dhanowal village near Jalandhar yet he belonged to Bootan Mandi for his political career and business), Minister in the Punjab governments in the late 1960, Surinder Mahey, a self made man, rose to the coveted position of the Mayor of Jalandhar in mid 2010. Avinash Chander, a seasoned politician, is the Chief Parliamentary Secretary in the Government of Punjab for a long time. In the services and other careers, my fellow Bootan Mandians have done fairly well. Sushil Sheemar, ITS is the Director in the Ministry of Communications and IT, His wife, Jaswinder (Lovely) Sheemar is an Additional Sessions Judge, Babita Kler, PCS, wife of Steven Kler, leading businessman and his sister Anupam Kler, PCS are senior bureaucrats in Punjab. Yet another daughter of Bootan Mandi, Sunita, physically challenged vivacious young lady, is a senior Judge. Two young Bootan Mandian brothers, Sunil Kler and Pawan Kler have recently made it to the PCS. There are doctors and Engineers and other professionals like Jagdish Mahey, a senior Banker who belong to Bootan Mandi. I myself, a humble Bootan Mandian, ended up as an Ambassador in the IFS. Many families of Bootan Mandi did well in their leather business including that of Seth Satpal Mall who is the current President of Guru Ravidass Educational and Charitable Trust for many years. With the changing ground realities it is advisable, in my personal view, to hand over the reins to the upcoming and younger generation. Let us try our best to retain, maintain and enhance the glory of our Bootan Mandi, an unofficial capital of dalit community in the years to come as visualized and eulogized by the writers and singers. I think it will be a befitting tribute to the greatest Guru Ravidassji while celebrating his Gurpurab at Bootan Mandi.

With this, I conclude and pay my hearty greetings to all the followers of Guru Ravidassji on his Gurpurab. On the glory of majestic Satguru Ravidass Dham, I quote Allma Iqbal:

दुनिया के तीर्थों से ऊंचा हो अपना  तीर्थ ;
दामाने आसमां से इस का कलश मिला दें !
सुबह उठके गाएं मंतर वह मीठे मीठे;
सारे पुजारिओं को मय पीत की पिला दें !

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