Anarcho-environmentalism allegorised

The name Anaarkali in the present context has many meanings - Anaar symbolises the anarchism of the Bhils and kali which means flower bud in Hindi stands for their traditional environmentalism. Anaar in Hindi can also mean the fruit pomegranate which is said to be a panacea for many ills as in the Hindi idiom - "Ek anar sou bimar - One pomegranate for a hundred ill people"! - which describes a situation in which there is only one remedy available for giving to a hundred ill people and so the problem is who to give it to. Thus this name indicates that anarcho-environmentalism is the only cure for the many diseases of modern development! Similarly kali can also imply a budding anarcho-environmentalist movement. Finally according to a legend that is considered to be apocryphal by historians Anarkali was the lover of Prince Salim who was later to become the Mughal emperor Jehangir. Emperor Akbar did not approve of this romance of his son and ordered Anarkali to be bricked in alive into a wall in Lahore in Pakistan but she escaped. Allegorically this means that anarcho-environmentalists can succeed in bringing about the escape of humankind from the self-destructive love of modern development that it is enamoured of at the moment and they will do this by simultaneously supporting women's struggles for their rights.

Monday, December 4, 2017

The Beauty and Functionality of Kaash

The grass Kaash (Saccharum spontaneum) is a common sight at this time of year throughout the country and because of its white flowers it provides a scenic beauty to the landscape. It is also used to make brooms and mats. One of the first things that Subhadra did after she got her farm in Pandutalav village two years ago is to plant this grass on the hilly parts and the border bunds. This year there has been a profusion of this grass and so Subhadra has  happily made brooms from the grass to serve our purpose for the whole year both in Indore and the farm.

 The process is quite laborious beginning with the cutting of the grass and then separation of the thinner and the thicker parts of the stem which are used to make two different kinds of brooms - one for light brooming and the other for heavy brooming. Then these stems have to be woven together to form a long piece.
 Finally the long piece has to be folded around itself and tied to form the broom and then trimmed at the edges.

With time the availability of ready made brooms in the market has led to the use of kaash brooms dying down even in rural areas though mats made of kaash are still used and also sold in the market.
Kaash flowers because of their scenic beauty have been a part of art, literature and film also. The most famous use of kaash flowers in film is the scene from Satyajit Ray's "Pather Panchali" where the young girl and boy are enjoying themselves in fields among Kaash flowers far from their home. They first see for the first time the high tension electricity lines and then the passing of a train in an enjoyable serendipitous encounter with the modern to give them some relief from their poverty stricken village life. Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay, the author of the lyrical Bengali novel on which the film is based has termed this poetically as the joy of the unknown. More than half a century after this scene was filmed, acclaimed for the symbolism in it of the encounter between the traditional and the modern, one is left wondering whether that encounter has indeed been a happy one!! 

No comments: