Lucknow, June 11 (IANS) Variety is the spice of life and gets even spicier if it comes free of cost.
Tuesday was the last ‘Bada Mangal’ of the season and organizers of community feasts broke the tradition of offering free ‘poori sabzi’ by including idli-sambar, chole-rice, burger-chips, ice creams, kulfi, ‘aam panna’ and even chowmein in the menu.
The ‘Bada Mangal’ festival is held on the Tuesdays in the Hindu month of Jyestha and is peculiar to Lucknow.
History has it that Begum Janab-e-Aalia, the second wife of Nawab Shuja-ud-Daulah, got the old Aliganj Hanuman temple constructed. She is said to have dreamt of Lord Hanuman, who ordered her to get a temple constructed.
On the basis of her dream, she ordered quarrying of the area she saw in her dream. The idol was found after which it was transported on the back of an elephant to the city. The elephant, however, did not step forward after a point (the place where the temple is situated).
Therefore, it was decided that the temple be constructed at this place and this is the famous Aliganj temple.
The Begum named her son as Mirza Mangloo after the deity, who later came to be known as Nawab Saadat Ali Khan.
Begum Aalia started the tradition of holding a fair dedicated to Lord Hanuman on all Tuesdays of the month of Jyestha. The tradition continues till date and has grown to be a massive celebration.
Though the festival is held mainly in Lucknow, other cities are gradually beginning to observe the festival too.
Muslim participation in this event is very much visible and several Muslims are known to set up pandals that offer free food to the devotees. The festival, in fact, is a celebration of cultural oneness in the city.
These food pandals offer food and water to all – without any consideration for caste and class.
“The festival may have started distribution of food essentially for the poor but today even the rich can be seen lining up for food which is known as ‘prasad’. The variety of food is a recent addition that makes people go hunting for variety,” said Prem Swarup, an octogenarian who lives near the Aliganj temple.
Mahendra Singh, who sets up a pandal every year, said: “It is my way of thanksgiving. We feel good because we distribute food ourselves and every member of my family is involved in food distribution. We are serving chowmein and ice creams this year because it is so hot and ‘poori sabzi’ is difficult to digest.”