A Scorching Summer, In More Ways Than One
Lucknowalas suffer from multiple addictions and mango mania is the most incurable of them all. When they are not gorging on mangoes, they are clad in mango motifs splashed on garments and embossed on upholstery.
Every aspect of the mango, its leaf, fruit and even seed has inspired fabric designs, jewellery as well as patterns on crockery. The kairi, or the seed motif of the mango has been a symbol of fertility and prosperity for centuries.
Poets are no exception. The world is aware how crazy Mirza Ghalib the Delhi based Urdu poet was about mangoes. As far as Ghalib was concerned mangoes should have just two qualities like they should be sweet and they should be available in plenty, "aamo maiin bas do khoobiyan honi chahiyein, ek methey hoein aur bohot sarey hon." Contemporary Lucknow poet Munawwar Rana says that he does not eat sweets during the mango season, "insaan ke hathon ki banayi nahin khatey, hum aam ke mausam meiin mithai nahin khatey."
Poet Akbar Allahabadi who died in 1921 pleaded with the beloved not to send him messages during the mango season but to send him mangoes instead, which he is able to eat, and to keep. "If 20 of the mangoes that you send me are ripe then at least ten should be raw for eating them later. Send the fruits directly to my address in Allahabad and do not tell me that you will do so only after I should send you money for the mangoes", he said.
The original reads thus, "nama na koi yaar ka paigham bhejiye iis fasl maiin jo bhejiye bas aam bhejiye, aisa zaroor ho ke unhen rakh ke kha sakun pukhta agar bees toh das khaam bhejiye, maloom hii hai aap ko bandey ka pata, sedhey Allahabad merey naam bhejiye, aisa no ho ke aap yeh likhen jawab main tameel hogi pahley magar daam bhejiye."
In the same spirit of mango mania, the city will witness two mango festivals this Sunday. The Lucknow's Farmers Market has organised an orchard festival at Vintage Village, Gulripurva 14 KM from Sitapur on the Lakhimpur Kheri Road. There is an invite to a mango feast in Saidanpur, district Barabanki as well with a session on the provincial history of Talukdars of Awadh, and a lecture demonstration of the music of Avadh. For lunch the finger licking yellow rice dish called tehri, and a variety of mangoes are promised.
Come Friday, and the atmosphere at Lucknow's numerous mosques tends to turn tense these days. However last Friday, those who met for namaz, or community prayers, in large numbers were pleasantly surprised. For they were welcomed by the police force who exchanged flowers with the namazis at the city's 17th century Teeley Wali Masjid. The mosque is called so because it is up on a hillock. There is tight security around the mosque.
While accepting roses from the police, the namazis said that they had also prayed for lasting peace and harmony amongst citizens.
Tension simmers in Lucknow as a case awaits in the lower courts claiming that the entire complex where the Teeley Wali Masjid stands is the site of the Sheshnagestha Tileshwar Mahadev that was destroyed to build the mosque. According to the petitioners, the hillock is the Lakshman Tila and it should be restored to the Hindus as their place of worship.
Peace loving citizens continue to create an atmosphere of friendship and trust around several mosques in the city. Caretaker of the Teeley Wali Masjid Maulana Wasif Hasan offered all support to the administration in helping to avoid violence and to promote communal harmony. Chief warden, civil defence Amarnath Mishra said that in the spirit of the Ganga-Jamuni way of life he wants his Muslim brothers to know that the police is there for them.
Ganga-Jamuni refers to the constant give and take in life that is practiced between the city's Hindu and Muslim population. People here have been living together in love and appreciation of each other for centuries. The distinctive syncretic culture is the saving grace of this part of North India where it is common for a Hindu to make keys to locks made by Muslim craftsmen.
Here the age-old tradition is for different people observing different religious rituals to celebrate festivals together and not to allow personal beliefs to come in the way of friendship with the neighbour.
However in the same city, Zomato delivery boy Vineet Kumar Rawat was hurt when a customer spat on his face. Once the customer realised that Rawat is a Dalit, he abused him and refused to accept food from his hands.
The opposition Samajwadi Party immediately took up the matter on Twitter to claim that attacks on Dalits have increased in the state under the Bharatiya Janata Party government. "People belonging to the same caste as Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath have not only misbehaved with a Dalit, but also attacked his self-respect and rights," the SP posted in a tweet that was retweeted by party president and former CM Akhilesh Yadav.
In his complaint to the police, Rawat said that last Saturday night, when he reached the delivery location, a person came out of the house and asked for his name. This person then hurled casteist remarks but he refused to formally cancel the order. After refusing to accept the food from him, he spat tobacco at Rawat and thrashed him. The police have released a video detailing Rawat's complaint on Twitter.
Congress leader Sachin Pilot came to Lucknow and hit out at the ruling party. Talking to the media at Lucknow's UP Pradesh Congress Office he accused the BJP of trying to intimidate Congress leaders. Party president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are summoned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for questioning over a case of alleged money laundering in the National Herald newspaper case. Pilot promises an on-going street protest against the misuse of probe agencies by the ruling party and to organise a Jan Jagran Abhiyan to wake up voters to the wrong doings in the country.
High time that the Congress Party, largest national opposition party that fought colonial rulers to win Independence for India decades ago, is seen back in action.