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At Rajasthan museum, brooms have gender

The museum has more than 200 types of brooms used in different parts of Rajasthan.

jaipur Updated: Sep 04, 2017 21:11 IST
Rakesh Goswami
Kuldeep Kothari, who runs Arna Jharna, a museum of living traditions in Jodhpur.
Kuldeep Kothari, who runs Arna Jharna, a museum of living traditions in Jodhpur.(Rakesh Goswami/HT )

Brooms have a gender: those used for sweeping outdoors are masculine and called ‘buhara’; the ones used indoors are feminine and called ‘buhari’.

This and other traditional facts about brooms in Rajasthan have been preserved in a museum in Jodhpur.

“In the museum, there are more than 200 types of brooms used in different parts of Rajasthan,” said Kuldeep Kothari of Rupayan Sansthan that runs Arna Jharna, a museum of living traditions spread across 10 acres on a rocky outcrop and a ravine, 15 km from Jodhpur city on the Jaisalmer road.

“In most museums, you find objects which are related to dead traditions. But my father wanted to exhibit living traditions and so he collected brooms during his visits to 29,000 villages in the state in his lifetime,” Kothari added.

His father, Komal Kothari, fondly called Komal Da and considered the renaissance man for his work on indigenous traditions in Rajasthan, envisaged Arna Jharna (Hindi words for forest and spring) in his last days of life. He died in 2004, the year he received country’s second highest civilian award, the Padma Bhushan.

The Arna Jharna, a museum of living traditions, is spread across 10 acres on a rocky outcrop and a ravine, 15 km from Jodhpur city on the Jaisalmer road. (Rakesh Goswami/HT )

Kuldeep remembers Komal Da interacting with people in different parts of the state to know about types of brooms. “For understanding the state’s tradition, he divided the state into three agrarian zones on the basis of the staple foods: bajra (pearl millet), jowar (sorghum) and makka (maize). He offered a conceptual basis to explain state’s traditions on the basis of these food zones,” Kuldeep said.

The brooms in a food zone were made with a specific shrub or plant and thus differed from other zones. The museum shows that different brooms are used in different parts of the house.

“As one goes around the broom museum, interviews with broom makers run on a television screen for visitors to get a better insight into how this object of daily use can be used to learn about balance between ecology and culture,” said Prof Sanjeev Bhanawat, head of Centre for Mass Communication, University of Rajasthan.

He recently took a group of journalists to the museum on a field visit for a workshop on development journalism.

Kuldeep said his father also documented health hazards that broom makers face. “For example, people who tie a kind of broom with their teeth lose them quite early in life. We met several people making brooms with dentures,” he added.