“Life is a carnival. It brings out the child in everyone“Anonymous
Bhimthadi Jatra (Fair or Carnival) is a very popular event that is organized in the month of December for around 4-5 days. Started in 2016, there have been 13 such successful mega exhibitions (including 2019). With a footfall of 5,00,000 + visitors, 350+ stalls, it is a one stop platform where one can experience Maharashtra’s (state where I live in) cultural diversities, live shows, folk music and dances, hand-loom/handicrafts, FOOD (my favorite 😊) and I can go on. People from all part of Maharashtra state come here to perform and entertain.
The intent of this initiative is to create an open market for self-help groups and empower women socio-economically and enrich them on leadership skills. This year, in 2019, this Jatra was held between 19th – 22nd December. I normally go in the first or second day itself for such events and in the first half. This allows me to spend ample time on these grounds and it is not crowded. The entry fee was Rs 50/- per person.
As I entered, there was a group performing with local musical instruments, totally engrossed and unaware of the crowd around them.
At the entrance they had built a beautiful temple of Vithoba & Rakhumai:
Vithoba, also known as Vitthala, is a Hindu deity predominantly worshipped in the Indian state of Maharashtra. He is considered as an avatar of the Lord Vishnu, often depicted as a dark young boy, standing arms akimbo accompanied by his main partner Rakhumai.
Let us talk about this interesting individual, who was standing right next to the temple. He is “Vasudev”, a staunch devotee of Vithoba.
In the olden days, he was mostly found in villages, visiting the homes every morning and sing devotional songs.
The lady of the house would then give him food grains and seek his blessings.
Now he can be found only in such fairs and technically advanced, as you can see 😊.
As I moved ahead, I came across a series of stalls which were commonsensically arranged and showcased the unique art of their respective states. First I witnessed stalls that sold clay, earthen items ranging from animals, pots, lanterns etc. A beautiful and unique collection for décor.
Following these I came across shops dedicated mostly to ladies selling ethnic Jutis & Mojaris. These are special kind of footwear, traditionally made up of leather and with extensive embroidery, sometimes in real gold and silver thread. If that was not enough, it was followed by another exquisite series of handmade clothes and jewelry. So influential was the system that could convert anyone an “Oniomaniac” – increase the uncontrollable desire to buy things. 😊
What caught my eye, was this Kashmiri lady, elegantly dressed, at a stall selling sarees, dresses representing Kashmir. Kashmiri women are known for their beauty and simplicity. They have white complexion and glowing skin and smiling faces. Her stall had a wide variety – Cashmere Fabrics, Ladies’ Shawls, Kashmiri Dresses, Stoles and Wool Scarves – to choose from and was thronged with people, ladies mostly 😊.
There was this one stall where I couldn’t help but spend some quality time. It was selling these visually striking paintings based on a 400 year old art, called “Pichwai”, which originates from Rajasthan. These paintings require immense skill and have to capture the minutest details, hence it takes several months to complete one painting. If you carefully study these paintings, you will see they depict Lord Krishna’s life events.
These are traditionally made on a specially starched cloth, with colours derived from stones and minerals, and also gold.
They were so intricate that I finally ended up buying one from him – Lord Krishna with Kamdhenu Cows.😊
Now coming to my favorite part: FOOD. 😊This is one place where you get a large range of delicious Maharashtrian food options – including pittla bhakri, puran poli, chicken/mutton curries, local sweet specialties.
I quenched my sweet buds first with the best “Basundi” ever. This is sweetened condensed milk made by boiling milk on low heat until the milk is reduced by half and they had used pure organic milk. And second was “Gulpatti” – a sweet and tasty snack made from Peanuts and Jaggery (Gul).
Mande – How can I not mention about “Mande” – a sweet flatbread – This wheat-based preparation is made from wheat flour, chickpeas (chana dal), jaggery, ghee, cardamom and poppy seeds. There were a group of ladies cooking and serving them hot. You will find these groups in every Bhimtadi fair and I always make it a point to have these whenever I visit, and inevitably, pack a few for my folks. 😊
The other main attraction are the shops where local varieties of rice, grains, lentils, flowers, and handmade footwear are sold. They sell them at a reasonable rate compared to the market and they get the direct benefit of the sale. This is the platform where you can get local varieties and crowd flocking around these shops buying these items.
At the center of the arena, there was a live magic show for kids. What was interesting is he was also explaining the science behind the magic to the kids. I could see the girls and boys very engrossed and giving their 100% participating. While kids were busy here I guess their parents were busy at the stalls 😊.
After an appetizing lunch, we decided it was time to go home. So as I walked towards the exit, there was a live show organized by locals from a village near Kolhapur. While I couldn’t understand their lingo 😊, their enthusiasm itself was worth watching. It also attracted so many others enthusiasts, that the organizers had to create a “firewall” to bring in some governance 😊
Finally, my day came to an end. Spending 4-5 hours here made me realize the kind of diversity, skills, variety we have in our villages, how simple and peaceful is their lifestyle. They are free from the hectic, fast and stressful urban cities, the noisy surroundings, the daily hustle and bustle…
I have plans to finally move lock, stock, barrel.. far far away from the current hustle and bustle. While this goal is already on the cards, so is the plan towards this, it is still a looooongg way to go…. 😊
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2 thoughts on “Bhimthadi Jatra”
Very well written Sohil… Will make a plan to visit next year.
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Bhimtadi a super event …so well explained by Sohil, reading it, one felt transported to this event having git such a real feel experience reading this blog
Seemed as if one had actually been there!