As a school student in Pune, Vrinda Godbole, 52, used to rush to the nearest bookshop to grab copies of her favourite annual festival reading, the Diwali anks (magazine).
“My mother used to take note of recipes and beauty tips mentioned in the digests while I used to solve puzzles and crosswords,” said Godbole, who continues to follow the yearly ritual even after shifting to Mumbai.
Godbole gets home copies of Grihashobha, Maher and Stree, which are published once a year during Diwali and are popular among women owing to extra cooking tips and fiction tales.
Like Godbole, most Maharashtrian families look forward to the Diwali anks, which used to initially focus only on Marathi literature. “Today, the anks strike a perfect balance between literary discussions and contemporary news. There are detailed notes on Indian politics, medical innovations, astronomy and cinema,” said Ranjana Joglekar, 53, a singer residing in Dadar. This year, as many as 250 Diwali specials will hit the stands a week before Diwali on October 26, and the ones already out are selling fast.
Brought out by leading publishing houses, the digests have traditionally been a great platform for emerging poets and writers to showcase their talent. “By the end of Diwali, we will start working on the next year’s issue,” said Arun Shevate, editor and publisher of Ruturaj, an ank that has chosen Janma Ghar; (birthplace) as the theme for this year’s issue. “Families save copies of anks over years and discuss the topics with their neighbours. This year, lyricist Gulzar has written a poem for our digest,” added Shevate. With competition from the internet, ank publishers have been forced to rework content and layout to ensure good sales. “We brought out a black-and-white digest in 1989 without using too many photographs. However, we had to live up to readers’ expectations and thus, introduced colour, pictures and life into our publication,” said Ravindranath Jagdale, editor and publisher of Sanjeevani Lahiri, a religious digest. But Maharashtrians parents said that their children do not share their enthusiasm for the anks.
As a doctor, my son barely manages to get any free time. I mark relevant articles that might interest him and ensure that he reads them,” added Joglekar.