More fact, some legend: Seven days of festivity
FOR KANPURITES?, real Holi is on Ganga Mela day which falls on Anuradha Nakshatra. This time, it is tomorrow. The weeklong Holi revelry in Kanpur is actually connected to the freedom struggle rather than mythology and ends with the famous Ganga Mela on Sarsaiyya Ghat on the banks of the river Ganga.Updated: Mar 20, 2006 00:34 IST
FOR KANPURITES’, real Holi is on Ganga Mela day which falls on Anuradha Nakshatra. This time, it is tomorrow. The weeklong Holi revelry in Kanpur is actually connected to the freedom struggle rather than mythology and ends with the famous Ganga Mela on Sarsaiyya Ghat on the banks of the river Ganga.
The Mela history goes back to year 1942. The freedom fighters made a formal announcement of the country’s freedom and hoisted the Trocolour on Holi day.
However, this led to the arrest of many freedom fighters including Ghulab Chand Seth, Hamid Khan, Shyam Lal Gupta (lyricist of ‘Jhanda uncha rahe hamara’), Amrik Singh, Raghubar Dayal Bhatt, Bal Kishan Sharma, Pitambar Lal and many more.
The arrest was met by uproar in the whole city. Holi celebrations were stopped and people demanded the release of the freedom fighters.
Following the strong protests the British administration succumbed to pressure released them. Coincidently, it was the day falling under the influence of ‘Anuradha Nakshatra’. After the release of freedom fighters, Kanpurites, irrespective of caste, creed and religion, celebrated Holi throughout the day and finally in the evening, they organised the historical Ganga Mela.
Since, then tradition of organising Ganga Mela on the Anuradha Nakshatra has been continuing. Generally this Nakshatra falls seven days after Holi and hence, Holi celebrations in the city continue for seven days at a stretch.
On the Mela Day, a procession is taken out from Rajjan Babu Park Hatia on buffalo cart loaded with big drums of different colours. Besides, a horse cart, elephant and tableau of Lord Shiva and many other attractive and historical elements are also major attractions of the procession.
MLA Salil Bishnoi said for the last few years a sport ‘Matki Phod’ is being conducted on Ganga Mela day at Birhana Road and many local teams take part in the event.
Meanwhile, efforts to change tradition were foiled by Kanpurites. The Ganga Mela is celebrated at the same historical place, which is now known as Rajjan Babu Park of Hatia, where freedom fighters had hoisted the Tricolour.
This part of the city was also a major meeting point for the freedom fighters like Jawahar Lal Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi, Chandra Shekhar Azad and Bhagat Singh.
Denizens said the programme to hoist the Tricolour was chalked out at the Navjeevan Library of Hatia, which had been established under the chairmanship of Shyam Lal Gupta in 1914. Besides, this library has served as an important meeting point to freedom fighters.
The business community also believes that opening of shops on Anuradha Nakshatra is beneficial for them. Therefore, the wholesale market remains closed during Holi for about a week and is opened on Anuradha Nakshatra day.
Meanwhile, organising committee members Mool Chand Seth, Gyanendra Bishnoi, Shashank Singh, Kaniyha Gupta, Vinai Singh, Ram Autar Gupta, Kaju Gupta expressed annoyance that no efforts have been initiated from the side of the government to promote the historical Ganga Mela. They demanded that it should be given the same status as Taj and Khajuraho celebrations.