Art and Culture

The Changing Face of Bajaria

“Nostalgia is a file that removes the rough edges from the good old days” Sometimes it’s OK to soak in nostalgia! For everyone, visiting grandpa’s house for vacations used to be nothing less than an adventure which left indelible memories. Combine that with a visit.

By Sep 20,2016  2

“Nostalgia is a file that removes the rough edges from the good old days”

Sometimes it’s OK to soak in nostalgia! For everyone, visiting grandpa’s house for vacations used to be nothing less than an adventure which left indelible memories. Combine that with a visit to nearby villages and towns which made it even more memorable. I still have the image of a typical small town boy, long oiled hair, clean-shaven with fluorescent colour shirt and bell bottom pants. In short a perfect clone of Govinda.

But a recent visit after so many years, it forced me to recall the obsolete image of the place. The urbanization has swiped the “ethnicity” and the “uniqueness” of the small towns and villages as well to an extent. The residents are much more advanced in comparison to the past years. Roads are getting broader, connectivity with major cities are more convenient and the literacy rate is increasing. This is the progress our country is making. But thinking of the other side, Is this real progress? The uniqueness and ethnicity of these places is on the edge of extinction like the big cities.

With increasing urbanization, it has promoted commercialization to a huge level. Other than the regular products some unique things in these places are no more available. Permanent shops with FMCG products have taken over the weekly market which was known as “Bajaria”. This was one of the attraction of my vacations.

"Photograph by Chetan Karkhanis"

Photo courtesy: Chetan Karkhanis

Here is the virtual journey of the bajaria with the main and now lost attractions. Have you ever heard of “Cheena Badam”? No! It’s nothing but peanuts. The shelled peanuts were known as cheena badam there, and just like it’s name, the vendor had a unique way of selling it. With a high shrilled, funny voice which you surely cannot forget – these guys were sales rock-stars. Similarly one more common product of today with a different name is “Futu” commonly known as mushroom. But futu is not like the regular mushroom we eat. There are two types of it, one is edible and other is poisonous. Only the native villagers can differ it from each other.

The main attraction for kids was the variety of churans. Laata was one of the favourite of all, made of grinded tamarind, salt, red chilly and gud rolled on a stick. You can say it the desi lollipop. Another was kamrakh and kaitha, but this another one has the most insane name you have heard of, it’s tezab ka churan. As the name the process to make it is even more insane. A thin iron stick is dipped into a liquid and then it’s rolled on the mixture, and when its rolled it produces fire. But this used to be the tastiest of all and leaving your tongue go black in colour.

Have you ever thought before water bottles came into the common practice, how was the water carried and kept cool. It was “Chagal” and “Toombi” which were used for this purpose. Chagal was made of canvas and its cap was made of cork or plastic. Toombi was made of bottle gourd, maturely harvested and dried. It was generally used by the villagers who were not able to afford the chagal. It was used to keep salfi, mahua and tumdi, the local made liquor. The use of toombi is still in practice in some of the remote areas.

In that time also there used to super market. Yes! But that was known as Bisati. A person in bajaria who used to sell almost all the products was known as besati. And not forgetting the main attraction of girls, The Manihar, commonly known as the churi waala. I feel surprised now of thinking the wide range of colourful and designer bangles he used to sell.

But the Bajaria is changing, or to be more precise it’s vanishing from the places. It may be a small change but the emotions and attachment with it is now only an image left with the memories of good old childhood days. The “X-Box” generation will for sure not experience the fun of “Gully Danda” generation.

“There is nothing permanent except change.” – Heraclitus

[Contributed by: Aakash Awasthy]


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  • Veronika Patil

    Hello Aakash, this piece of writing is full of emotions, and i can definitely relate this to my childhood as i had completed my high school from Rajnandgaon, dear it left me with tears because am writing this from New Delhi with a feeling of nostalgia. Memories of how people from different nearby villages use to come and sell their products in the cities, taking such a toil in crafting them, i have been to many ‘bajarias’ back home. Its is heartbreaking and i am afraid to see many changes which are replacing them permanently, there is no one to buy these products these days, as the modern market serves more lasting products. And i see the locals returning with the basket full of products taking back home in a hope to sell them again in next round. It was a very good approach to make people realise the worth of certain things which we ignore in our daily life. This ignorance is erasing the roots of actual fun which once was cherished very well among us when we were young.

    • Aakash Awasthy

      Hi Veronica! The first thing, deepest apologies for replying so late. Thank you for the appreciation and i share the same emotions as yours for the ‘bajaria’. While writing this article even i went down the memory lane which made my pen go in a flow. Again thank you and apologies. Will soon be coming up with new stuff.

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