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Apeksha Bagchi

IWB Blogger

How Will We Earn To Eat Food The Next Day If We Go Around Celebrating Diwali: Rajkumari, Mehendi Artist

  • IWB Post
  •  November 6, 2018

“Do you know who made it to Shilpa Shetty’s Diwali bash?”- that’s the current topic of discussion in my office. How eager are we to know every small detail about celebrities and are yet failing to be aware of the people around us. Ever wondered what goes on in the life of those countless women who sit on the streets, selling diyas, rangolis, flower pots and other items of decoration and thus playing a big part in our festivals.

This Diwali, Indian Women Blog decided to make the life of these women the topic of discussion. How they celebrate Diwali, do they take an off on that day or do they even have the luxury to lose a day’s income for celebrating a festival? Earlier, we shared the story of Kavita, a female vendor who sits in Bapu Bazar selling the most beautiful ethnic jewelry.

As we, our social media manager, Puja, and I, wandered the streets, we heard a pleasant voice call out to us, “Diwali mein soone haath madam, achche nahi lagte!” Looking towards the source of the sound, we found a woman sitting under a giant hand-stitched umbrella of sorts, holding a book of mehendi designs and silently pointing to the empty benches before her, inviting us to sit.

Diwali

As my love for mehendi trumped my need to have both my hands accessible for typing when I get back to the office, I sat down and proceeded to chat with Rajkumari, the lady in question. Turns out the guy sitting adjacent to her and applying mehendi to other women was her son.

Diwali

“Actually, I had no idea about designing mehendi or had any prior training, it’s my son Ajit here who had the flair for it and then taught me. And now I am better at mehendi designing than him!” she said laughing. Her son looked at her with an amused smile and said, “After my younger brother’s death 4 years ago on Diwali, she would sit the entire day, looking at the wall, crying or worse, silently laying there on the floor, saying nothing. It scared me, so the day I knew I could earn off my skills, I taught her the art. And thank god, she responded, it took her mind off the pain,” he said, as he expertly etched out the pattern on a customer’s hand.

Diwali

“Earlier this festival would remind me of what I had lost, but now it is a symbol of what I have (she put a hand on her son’s head) and not to mention the tons of praise I get for the designs I draw. Kasam se madam ji, you won’t find someone half as skillful as we are,” she said.

And what about their Diwali plans? “We can’t go early, paisa bhagwan ban gaya hai aaj kal. We can’t afford to skip a day, how else will we earn money for the next day’s meals if we go around celebrating festivals?” said Rajkumari.

 

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