दिवाळी(Festival of lights) and tradition of fort model building in Maharashtra

India is known for it diversity and vibrant culture. India is also land of festivals. Diwali or festival of lights is one the significant festivals across the country. Most of the festivals are related to nature, changes happening in the nature, and their association with human lives. Each of the festivals have their own traditions and ways of celebrations in different parts of country. I have written about such differences on festival of Dasara in my earlier blog here. Likewise, Diwali also has its own tradition. As I write this, Diwali is right around the corner.

In Maharashtra, as per one tradition, the festival of lights is associated with fort models building, especially, children. (In fact, there are some other traditions such as issuing special editions of literary magazines, called Diwali Ank-about it and others, later sometime). Let me share my experiences about that here, and also explain why this unique tradition would have started.

Maharashtra is land of Sahyadri, and so is land of forts on Sahyadri. Forts built by various kings, rulers since more than 1000 years. I have been trekker and I have written lot about it on this blog. Shivaji,who ruled Maharashtra in 17th century, has been attributed to building forts, maintaining them as well. He had mastered art of building forts. Forts were part of his battle strategy. The four months of monsoon(the rainy season), it rains badly in Sahyadri ranges, making it impossible to undertake any major war related activities. Once the rains pass, the military forces would plan and go after any war/battle related activities. The tradition of building fort models during Diwali probably has roots in this fact.

Diwali festival arrives right after rainy season just around winter time. It is holiday time for school going children. As a child, I along with my friends would build fort models, decorate them with toy models of canons, animals, temples, kings, bastions, fort gates etc. Fire crackers are associated with festival of lights. Once Diwali got over, we would bomb them to demolish(as British bombed many forts post during later Maratha empire era). Since last few years different organizations have started holding competitions for building forts, and later they hold exhibitions as well. If you are interested, and are in Pune, you may consider to visit one such exhibition right in the heart of Pune, at Sambhaji Udyan on J M Road.

I, along with my son, continued this tradition of fort model building at our home, for about 7-8 years. I was able to take and save some photographs which I am sharing them below. All of them are imaginary forts, not models of any existing forts. Enjoy!

Diwali 2009

Diwali 2009

Diwali 2011

Diwali 2011

Diwali 2010

Diwali 2010

Diwali 2007

Diwali 2007

Diwali 2006

Diwali 2006

Diwali 2005

Diwali 2005

Diwali 2008

Diwali 2008

Diwali brings back such nostalgic memories. I got a poem on WhatsApp from someone, which is supposedly penned by Gulzar, summaries memories of Diwali during childhood. I am reproducing it here.

बचपनवाली दिवाली

हफ्तों पहले से साफ़-सफाई में जुट जाते हैं
चूने के कनिस्तर में थोड़ी नील मिलाते हैं
अलमारी खिसका खोयी चीज़ वापस  पाते हैं
दोछत्ती का कबाड़ बेच कुछ पैसे कमाते हैं
चलो इस दफ़े दिवाली घर पे मनाते हैं  ….

दौड़-भाग के घर का हर सामान लाते हैं
चवन्नी -अठन्नी  पटाखों के लिए बचाते हैं
सजी बाज़ार की रौनक देखने जाते हैं
सिर्फ दाम पूछने के लिए चीजों को उठाते हैं
चलो इस दफ़े दिवाली घर पे मनाते हैं ….

बिजली की झालर छत से लटकाते हैं
कुछ में मास्टर  बल्ब भी  लगाते हैं
टेस्टर लिए पूरे इलेक्ट्रीशियन बन जाते हैं
दो-चार बिजली के झटके भी  खाते हैं
चलो इस दफ़े दिवाली घर पे मनाते हैं ….

दूर थोक की दुकान से पटाखे लाते है
मुर्गा ब्रांड हर पैकेट में खोजते जाते है
दो दिन तक उन्हें छत की धूप में सुखाते हैं
बार-बार बस गिनते जाते है
चलो इस दफ़े दिवाली घर पे मनाते हैं ….

धनतेरस के दिन कटोरदान लाते है
छत के जंगले से कंडील लटकाते हैं
मिठाई के ऊपर लगे काजू-बादाम खाते हैं
प्रसाद की  थाली   पड़ोस में  देने जाते हैं
चलो इस दफ़े दिवाली घर पे मनाते हैं ….

माँ से खील में से  धान बिनवाते हैं
खांड  के खिलोने के साथ उसे जमके खाते है
अन्नकूट के लिए सब्जियों का ढेर लगाते है
भैया-दूज के दिन दीदी से आशीर्वाद पाते हैं
चलो इस दफ़े दिवाली घर पे मनाते हैं ….

दिवाली बीत जाने पे दुखी हो जाते हैं
कुछ न फूटे पटाखों का बारूद जलाते हैं
घर की छत पे दगे हुए राकेट पाते हैं
बुझे दीयों को मुंडेर से हटाते हैं
चलो इस दफ़े दिवाली घर पे मनाते हैं ….

बूढ़े माँ-बाप का एकाकीपन मिटाते हैं
वहीँ पुरानी रौनक फिर से लाते हैं
सामान  से नहीं ,समय देकर सम्मान  जताते हैं

Please free to share your Diwali tradition and moments and send your comments/feedback.

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