Rukshmani Kumari Shows Us Royal Lakshmi Mandana At The Chomu Thikana’s Residence
- IWB Post
- October 19, 2017
Roshan ho deepak, sara jag jagmagaye, liye sath Sita Maiyya ko Ram Ji hain aaye, har sheher yoon lage mano Ayodhya ho aaye, har dwaar har gali har mod pe hum deep jalaye. The biggest Hindu holy day, a celebration that signifies the victory of Lord Ram, of good over evil, and of light over darkness, it is Deepawali, the beautiful festival of lights, today!
The mention of Diwali lights up the thoughts of gleaming diyas, delicious homemade sweets, new clothes, Lakshmi Puja, and cozy family get-togethers! But does the mention of Diwali and Royal Families together add another sparkle to the imagination of the festivities? Wait till we adorn your imagination with our word-pictures of the embellished shining palaces, the oh-so-sumptuous Diwali sweet platters, the colourful rangolis and a lot more! Because this Diwali Team IWB is taking you to the insides of Royal Palaces to brighten your festive mood and celebrations!
Opening here the doors of Chomu Thikana’s Residence, step in along as Rukshmani Kumari draws for us the beautiful portrait of their Diwali Celebrations from today and the yesteryears:
Something special about the Diwali decoration that sets aside your palace from others?
Oh, the palace looks like a beautiful bride on Diwali, dressed up magnificently in diyas, strings of golden lights, flowers, and rangolis! I remember earlier the decorations used to be more natural and flower-centric, a team of women helpers would come in the morning carrying tokras of a variety of flowers, and you’ve seen those ‘neem ke patte’ ki mala? In groups, they would sit and carefully curate those malas, and alongside a team would be working hanging them all over the palace. Also, those days ’til ke tael’ ke deepak were extensively used, which are now partially replaced with decorative lights.
Aah, sounds wonderful! What are the Diwali traditions that speak of the Chomu Royal Family?
The ‘Sarva-Samaj’ Diwali Milan! It was a splendid affair earlier, the Royal family would invite everyone to meet at the palace, and the celebration would see people from the village gathering and wishing each other. All the traditional meals would be served, “Diwali ke tohfe diye jaate thhe, bada hi khubsurat maahol hota tha!” The traditions are followed still, but somewhere I feel that with time has come a lot of commercialization, and so the vibes are fading, though we are trying our best to revive the customs and in keeping the grandeur alive.
And she further recalls, “There was a time when Diwali celebration saw Hathi-Ghodo ki sawaari sheher mein, 101 elephants, and 500 horses would be dressed…Thaal lagte thhe! Waqt aur nazaare hi kuchh aur hua karta thha tabh!”
Wow! We’d love to get a verbal glimpse of the Diwali Day festivities too?
As you know, Diwali is a five-day episode of merrymaking, so each day holds a unique significance, and calls for a unique celebration. Dhanteras marks the beginning, and the next day is RoopChaudas. That day we have a custom of doing puja for the ‘PitarJi’, and the women of the family have to follow the ritual of bathing in the morning, which is said to take away all the negativity out of the body, and also so that on Poonam, the ‘Badi Diwali’ as it is called, you look fresh and vibrant.
But there’s a lot happening in all the corners of the Palace, people are decorating the verandhas and baithaks, the kitchen staff is indulged in preparation of the festive delicacies, the puja sthan is washed and cleaned, gifts are getting packed, oh and how can I forget rangoli making, Mandana as it is called! There are so many processes and tasks that every person is involved in something or the other. A wonderful atmosphere it makes!
Tell us about the Chomu Thikana’s:
Special way of welcoming Lakshmi: The Lakshmi Mandana (Rangoli), which is an imprint of Lakshmi’s feet, is drawn to welcome the Goddess. In earlier times, a Kumhar (potter) used to specially come to draw, making use of only Chuna (lime powder) and water, yeh rang toh ab kaam mein lene lage hain ! (Colours have started coming in use now)
Diwali Puja: Our Rajpurohit comes to our residence to perform the Diwali Puja. It begins with the Tilak ceremony of the Maharaja and Rajkumar, and then the Lakshmi Pujan commences. Which over the years has seen a significant traditional shift, where earlier only men used to participate, now women also sit for the puja.
Signature Diwali dishes: Aah, the palace kitchen has a variety of special traditional dishes in the making for Diwali! For the Lakshmi Bhog, we prepare Kesar Kheer, and the other specialty being Bajre ki Laapsi, which is shared with everyone as prashad. In the dinner is served Kair Sangri ki sabzi, Shahi safed aalo ki sabzi, and a lot of other such delicacies.
Festive gift ideas: Our gifts are always very thoughtful, for we believe in not doing it as a custom alone. We get sweet and dry-fruit packets and distribute fruit tokras among everyone. Earlier our gift packages also included firecrackers, but no more!
With thoughts of colours and lights, and our mouths watering, we asked her to share with us a Diwali ceremony that she holds dearest to and looks forward to the most?
Well, as a child I used to really look forward to celebrating Diwali with everyone. I belong to a Political family of Gujarat, and a lot of people from the nearby villages used to come to meet my father to seek his blessings on Diwali. There was no perception of royalty, we would invite people from all around, and celebrate together. Young and naive as we were, receiving the shagun, an amount of as small as ten rupees, used to make it a blissful experience for us!
Is there any beautiful ritual performed by women that is perhaps specific to your family?
Not really specific to our family, but in all Rajput Royal Families, the Rajsthani Folk Dance, Ghoomar, finds a special place. Traditional dance artists would perform on the melodious folk songs, wearing their special ghahgras, it makes a beautiful sight! Also, for some light-hearted entertainment, ladies get together to play chaupal (she laughingly shared!)
Ghoomar, wow! And what constitutes the traditional Diwali attire of women and men?
We, women, dress up in the traditional poshak, bright and royal blue-black in colour, and yes, maang-tika is the customary jewelry piece. And men accouter themselves in achkan, which again is traditional Rajputi attire!
To satiate our curiosity about the significance of the unique combination of black-blue coloured poshak, she made us learn about the connection that the traditional attire bears with Diwali night, which happens to be a full moon-dark night (Amavasya).
Song : Ghoomar ( World Famous Rajasthani Traditional Ghoomar Dance Song ) Ghoomar Dance is Ranked No.4 in Top 10 Amazing Local Dance ranking around the world and Veena Music is the Original Promoter of this Dance Form.
We then asked her about how she has planned to celebrate Diwali with Star Foundation this year?
Rukshmani Ji is the proud founder of the NGO ‘Star Foundation’, under which she’s pledged to support women empowerment and child education.
We’re looking forward to celebrating Diwali with all the Star Foundation children, and my son, PrithviRaj is also just as excited about it. He’s a compassionate soul, on getting new clothes for Diwali, he’d ask for clothes to be made for all the children of the staff as well. For which we then make a tailor sit at our residence who would stitch custom-fit clothes for them. And though I believe in Green Diwali, but I think I’m going to allow the children to indulge in some eco-friendly firecrackers, she said.