Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Navaratri in Fort

I always associate this celebration of Shakti pooja in my mind with Gujarati traditions. In that sense a part of me is Gujarati. 

Until the late 80s and 90s in Maruti Lane, Fort, Mumbai a huge shamiyana was put in front of our building and right from Ghatasthapana to Kojagiri it stayed there. It was always Navratri celebration first and culminated with a Homa-Havan on Kojagiri day. 

I recount some memories on AnnaParabrahma
It was nights of sneaking down to play garba and dandiya. When we would invite troupes for fancy dress dandiya dancers. It was hilarious to see Alexander, Krishna, Mirabai and Africans playing dandiya together.  It meant nights of talent shows for all age groups. Of being the first to check out the flower decoration done by Neeru aunty for Mataji ni Wadi. Most evenings one of our Gujarati neighbors would invite Mom for garba and haldi kumkum in their homes, I would like many other girls tag along with Mom. We would come back with little glass bowls or katoris filled with prasad, a gift from the host.  
The announcement of the aarti "Amba Ma ni aarti maate baddha niche aavjo" made us dump the books and race down  while shouting back telling parents we will come back to finish the homework. Along the Aarti Jai Om Jai Om Maa Jagadambe  we sang. What was amazing is the whole crowd touched the person in front of her/ him like  in a game of dominoes till the person who held the aarti thali. It was a human contact chain or rather a rosette. Mohanthal was always the prasad for everyone at the end of it. Most times when we were not allowed to go  down when Amba Maa was moved back into the temple on the last day at 3 am in the morning with chanting of Jai Ambe Jai Bhavani! Jai Ambe Jai Bhavani!! Jai Ambe Jai Bhavani,!!! Jai Ambe Jai Bhavani!!!! Jai Ambe Jai Bhavani!!!!!  I would wake up to chant from my third floor window sitting up in bed. It was an amazing time, I still recollect very vividly.

Today the scene is different. Fort is now 90% a business district which gets cold and empty after office hours. Back until the 80s-90s it was a hub where the majority Gujaratis and Parsis still inhabited. Most have sold off their homes which have been taken up by small and big businesses. So there is funding for the Navaratri but its lost its life, people do still visit for darshan from their subarban homes during the 9 days though. Miss all the fun.  and then 

If you wish to go for darshan Mataji is still seated in the outside shamiyana until Kojagiri after which she goes back to her permanent abode in Ram dev pir temple. Here is the address. Once just once go see our Ambe mataji !

Ram Dev Peer Mandir, Maruthi cross Ln, Borabazar Precinct, Fort, Mumbai 400001.