Friday, October 31, 2008

Township Tales - Rajyotsava

Somewhere, sometime, I had started off our Township Tales - and for no reason at all, it came to a standstill. I remembered our township again because of the date - Nov 1st - the highlight of the year in our township was the Rajyotsava Celebration.

The planning and organization for the Rajyotsava Celebrations, which was held throughout the month of November, started much earlier. The "Township committee" drew up a careful calendar of events, and nominated a "Sports committee" and "Cultural programme Committee". The heads of the respective committees plunged into sincere and thorough arrangements.

Through November, there were games and competitions and other events. The sports events consisted of Carrom, Badminton, Table Tennis, Chess, Cricket, and so on, all of which we played in all possible versions - Singles, Doubles, Mixed Doubles, Team Events... you name it, we had it. Since the participants consisted not only of children, but also adults, all the events were held in the evenings after the adults got back from work, and they went on until late at night.

On ordinary days, we kids usually stopped playing and got back home by 7 30 pm, with only occasional forays after dinner to chat up with a friend (but those occasions were rare.) But during November, all deadlines and self-imposed rules disappeared. Our parents also became very lenient during this period, allowing us to do things that wouldn't otherwise have been tolerated.

For example, I would be eating dinner with the family, when someone would shout out from the Community Center, loud enough for everybody to hear......

"Shruuuuuuuuthiiiiiiiiiiii... your carrom match starts in five minutes!"

Me: *mouth stuffed with food* Can't you postpone it by fifteen minuuuuuutess?"

"Nooooooooo, it is a doubles maaaaaaatch, your partner is free only nooooow, if you don't come right away, the other team will receive a byeeeeeeeeee!!!"

Horrors! How could I allow that? I would ditch my food and dash out in a trice. And my mom would understandingly say nothing, and keep my plate aside for me to come back and eat later. Bliss.

And there was something exciting about playing a night match of Badminton on the lawn. With real floodlights. We felt so important!

There were other events like Memory Test, Singing, Fancy Dress, Quiz, Antakshari, painting, and other games like putting the ball in the bucket and seeing who could light the most candles with a single burning match... we participated in everything that could be participated in.

Whether we lost or whether we won, the whole experience was head-spinningly exciting!

Along with these events, the rehearsals for the main function were held through the month. Invariably, my mom was in charge of training the singers for the group songs, and the rehearsals took place in our home or in the house of others who were in the group.  These rehearsals were accompanied by hot tea and snacks made by whoever was hosting. There usually was a whole lot of giggling, and I have stories just from these rehearsals that I air out whenever I meet friends from the township, causing great mirth. I was also be in the group, and a couple of years, I played the keyboard accompaniment.

After all the rehearsals were concluded, the matches played, the competitions held, and the winners decided, it was time for the Grand Finale. The actual day of celebration. The Main Function. The Gathering.

This day, sometime towards the end of November - this day, I can tell you - was VERY exciting. Just writing about it is producing goosebumps in me.

It was usually held on a Saturday, which meant half-day at school. By the time we got back from school, the arrangements would have begun. Someone would have started arranging light brown folding metal chairs on the lawn, and a wooden stage would be getting ready. Red screens and curtains would be lying by the side, ready to be put up. We'd run home, have a quick lunch and get back to "oversee" the arrangements, and then go back home to have a nap because the programme would go on late into the night.

We'd be awakened from our naps by the setting up of the microphone and sound system, accompanied by feedback screeches and "Allo, allo, 1-2-3 testing.." We'd tremble, our excitement reaching a fever pitch.

Sharp at 4 30 pm, we'd turn out in new clothes (or costumes), and salivating mouths, to partake of snacks and tea, to a background of songs about the greatness of Kannada and Karnataka being blared from loudspeakers. After that, the programme began with a huge screech. Invariably some Sandalwood personality (one time it was Master Manjunath of Malgudi Days fame) or an Office Biggie would have been invited, and their arrival would be marked with a lot of buzzing and whispering.

The programme would then start with an invocation, followed by speeches, and then the cultural events, in which we'd also participate, presenting the songs that we'd rehearsed so long for. The fancy dress and prize distribution followed - and then dinner.

And if you thought that was all, no. This was followed by late night Housie - where we delighted in losing money and cursing those who always seemed to win lots of money (But they buy ten tickets - they will anyway win!)

I don't think I have enough words to tell you how exciting these times were for us - but we would revel in the memory of it for days afterwards, reliving each moment, breaking down every event for careful contemplation and ruthless remarks.

And after all the excitement died down and the routine of school swallowed us again, we would look forward to the next Rajyotsava.

11 comments:

Dhanya said...

You have really brought out all those excitement for the readers also to experience..:) You have inspired me to write abt my childhood memories although it was not so eventful as yours.. But I better pen it down before I forget :)

Devaki said...

Thanks for letting me participate in the excitement and camaraderie of your township through this post. It sounds like a very fun place to be in.

Wunderyearz said...

Wow!!!I felt like I was beside you through all those fun events :-)

snippetsnscribbles said...

Oh, just this morning my mom narrated all that happened in our area this Nov 1st... :( your post brought back the same exact memories..

Bhupi said...

it was nice experience reading about the utsav...this is mix of sports day and annual function in my school...those times were amazing...

IMP: u need to tell me how do u tag a person/blog?

Manasa said...

I hardly find such initiatives during Rajyotsava these days. I miss all those events now :(

ray said...

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This way you can reach out to rambhai readers some of whom could become your ardent fans.. who knows.. :)

Cheers,

Cantaloupes.Amma (CA) said...

Did you live in the same colony that I lived ??? Nah ... you lived in Bangalore ... not me ...
But everything said here went almost the same way in our colony as well. Actually Christmas and New Year was celebrated with as much enthusiam too !!
Ah ... those wonderful colony memories...

Mama - Mia said...

:)

this sounds so so similar to Ganesotsav celebs in Mumbai!

similar competitions, cultural programmes, practice starting months before!! full dhamaal!!

had so much fun reading yours!

cheers!

abha

Madhu said...

lovely Shruthi.. you just brought out those township memories so very well.. indeed they were real fun.. how we miss all those good old township days!!

nowise novice said...

Loved it Shru! Though I have never attended these functions,I used to get reports from you all and I remember many stories! Specially the music programme rehearsals!

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