Inspiration for Premchand’s ‘Eidgah’-- a simple Gorakhpur fair
Most of us have grown up reading Munshi Premchand’s ‘Eidgah’, a touching tale of the emotional bond between four-year-old orphan Hamid and his grandmother Amina, but not many know that a fair at Gorakhpur’s Eidgah inspired him to pen the story.
‘Eidgah’, written by Premchand during his days in Gorakhpur and published in 1938 after his death, narrates how the boy overcomes his craving for toys and sweets during a visit to an Eidgah fair on Eid and uses his pocket money (Idi) to buy a pair of tongs (‘chimta’) as he had often seen his grandmother burn her fingers while making ‘rotis’.
“It is absolutely true that Premchand wrote ‘Eidgah’ after conceiving the idea from Gorakhpur’s Eidgah fair. The story is of a child who is small but his thoughts are big. It gives us an insight into child psychology in an interesting manner,” said Prof Deepak Tyagi at the department of Hindi, Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gorakhpur University.
“The story, written during the British era, hits out at the capitalist society and focuses on Indian society, farmers and labourers,” he said.
“Besides Eidgah, Premchand also wrote ‘Ramleela’, ‘Boodhi Kaki’ and ‘Namak ka Daroga’ during his stay in Gorakhpur,” Prof Tyagi said.
Born on July 31, 1880, Premchand studied at Rawat Pathshala following the transfer of his father Ajayablal, a post office clerk, to Gorakhpur in 1892 from his ancestral village Lamhi in Varanasi. He stayed in Gorakhpur till 1896.
From 1916 to 1921, Premchand served as a teacher at Normal High School in Gorakhpur.
It was during this period that Premchand drew the idea of ‘Eidgah’ from the fair held at the Mubarak Khan Shaheed Eidgah, located near the two-room quarter where he used to live with his wife.
The looks of the shrine, a prominent centre of devotion for lakhs of Muslims and Hindus, along with Premchand’s residence, have changed with time.
While the shrine is now a beautiful stone structure, the premises housing the writer’s house, Premchand Sadan, has been converted into Munshi Premchand Park.
Syed Farhan, who is associated with the dargah and Eidgah, said: “Even after so many decades, there is not much difference between the Eidgah fair that Premchand mentioned in his story and the present day celebrations. Shops of sweets, toys, bangles, utensils etc are still put up here on Eid and Bakrid. Thousands of Muslims gather here in their traditional attire to offer prayers. Several children come here in colourful dresses, some posing as Arab Sheikhs.”