Tuesday, June 13, 2000,
Chandigarh, India
L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Cookery classes a craze during holidays
From A Correspondent

LUDHIANA, June 12 — Today the girls are so much career oriented that they want to be perfect in every field. They do not want to waste their time and energy, not even during holidays.

Since Ludhiana has not much to offer, cooking remains the hot favorite among these girls. The trend towards good and fancy eatables has already started in the city. There is a craze amongst the girls to learn something new. The craze for these cuisines has become very popular. Especially the Chinese cuisine has hit the Punjabis in a big way.

The cookery classes have so much to offer that one can easily get training in the famous cuisines like Chinese, Mexican, Italian, Thai, Mughlai, Continental, Burmese and so on. Summer holidays are no longer reserved for sleeping and relaxing for the young girls, rather learning cooking is the most popular activity for them and their parents. Some of the famous cookery classes of the city get overcrowded during the summer break. All of these offer short as well as long courses, depending on the demand of students.

City's 'Cook 'n' Style', run by Ms Veenu Rai Dhanda, attracts the girls by offering cooking courses of more than 600 recipes from all over the world. There is a lot of craze for the summer drinks and breakfast dishes. "The three-and-a-half-month-long summer courses get very good response right from the very first day," says Ms Dhanda. She adds, "The Thai and Burmese cuisines are still mushrooming in the city, but Italian, Mexican and Chinese remain the favourites."

Ms Sheel Nanda's 'Perfect School of Cookery' offers classes from May to July. She offers one-day courses as well as full-fledged courses. According to Ms Nanda, there is a great demand of gyps and snacks. Pickles, ice-creams and puddings remain all-time likes for girls and housewives. She had to send back 50 yo 60 students because of the great rush at the cookery classes, she claims.

The girls and women have really become calorie conscious. They like to have and cook low-calorie dishes, baked vegetables and microwave dishes. To have a thorough and perfect training, they join the cooking classes. Ms Sandhu's 'Home-Science College' offers training to girls as well as boys. There foreign-going students get chef training. She offers the courses from April to July. According to Ms Sandhu, the girls get the maximum benefit as compared to women.

Anju, a medical student, who is learning cooking at one of the cooking classes, says, "My exams are over and I get bored very early. I am fond of tasty food. After attending cooking classes in the morning, I prepare dishes in the afternoon. My family members relish these dishes and I feel encouraged."


Preserving their culture away from home
From Shivani Bhakoo

LUDHIANA, June 12 — This prosperous city of North India has for many decades beckoned many a dreamers from all communities and strata of society. Many of these had been so enamoured by the rich opportunities of the place that they had decided to become its permanent dwellers. One such community — the Bengalis — came here way back in the 1960s. They made it big and settled here, but without losing their culture and traditions.

Meet the members of Bangiya Samsad, a social cultural organisation formed by the Bengalis to maintain a link between themselves as well to preserve their identity and Bangla culture. Every Sunday the Babu Moshiyas meet at the Samsad Bhawan and organise one or another cultural function to save their young generation from forgetting their own culture.

“It was some doctors initially, then engineers and industrialists followed,” revealed Mr Abir Banerjee, a young spokesperson of the organisation, about how the Bengalis migrated from Calcutta about four decades ago in search of green pastures in this land of five rivers. According to him, the place of excelling had to be Ludhiana, which at that time had just begun mushrooming as the rich industrial hub-bub of not only the state but also of the North India.

The Bengalis left Calcutta as the place was getting congested day by day and opportunities were decreasing rapidly. Mr. Banerjee said the Bengalis were proud of being one of the torch-bearers in taking this city to prosperity. Soon many other communities followed and then the inter-mixing of culture started. It is here that the concerned Bengalis stepped in and began organising weekly functions and meetings to preserve their identity and culture

Mr Banerjee said notwithstanding the minor aberrations of adopting the new attire and speaking Punjabi and English more fluently, Bengalis had succeeded in carrying on their customs from one generation to the next. They live scattered in different parts of the city but make sure to meet every Sunday .

The pleasant cultural evenings they organise may contain anything. If it is not the birthday of a Bangla hero or any other festival, they will simply sit together and burst into folk songs and lores. Last Sunday one witnessed the celebrations of the first anniversary of poets like Rabindra Nath Tagore and Nazrul Islam at the Samsad Bhavan. The community pays rich tributes to their favourite poets through songs, dance dramas and recitation of the poet’s famous works.

Special skits and dramas highlighting these poets and their contribution to the freedom struggle of India are also held. These kind of programmes are highly appreciated by persons of other communities who are special invitees to such meets, which make the Bengalis feel very much at home. Not only content with themselves alone, the members of the Bangia Sansad are actively involved in the activities like social services for the needy, besides organising blood donation camps.

Durga pooja is always celebrated for four days during the Dussehra festival. Many budding artists from all communities participate in this function. The Bengalis are also in the process of constructing a Kali Bari temple in the Sansad Bhavan area for performing the religious rites. A library is also functioning here at the bhavan to promote the literacy programme.


The tree on which two Namdharis
attained martyrdom
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, June 12 — The sight of an over 150-year-old banyan tree, better known as the ‘Shaheedi-bohr (banyan) ‘in Kuka Memorial Centre near the Field Gunj area of the old city sends a chill down one’s spine. For, this tree was a mute witness to the hanging of two Namdhari freedom fighters, from one of its branches way back in 1871. The two had dared speak against the British Raj.

Time seems to have stood still since then. A perceptible but mysterious gloominess engulfs the place. Tough the green leaves of the tree infuse some life in the picture, but one cannot help imagining the 130- year-old scene when Giani Rattan Singh and Sant Rattan Singh, the two Namdharis, were hanged from one of its branches in full public view for having forcibly closed down a number of slaughterhouses opened by the British in the state.

While the branch is no more, the tree still stands as a living remnant of the cruelty of the British to curb the then fast-spreading Kuka Movement of the country’s freedom struggle. The premises called the Kuka Memorial is being managed by the Namdharis sect under the banner of the Kuka Shaheedi Memorial Trust. A befitting memorial announcing the martyrdom of the two freedom fighters and the glorification of their sacrifice has been erected under the tree. Another board at back of the tree shows a painting of the hanging scenes along with the brief commentary of the hanging scene.

The Kuka Movement derived its name from the Punjabi word kook which means a vociferous scream. In the case of the Namdharis, it was the scream for freedom and was popularised by their unique mode of shouting for Independence.

While the Kukas were already determined to throw out the British, the latter opened slaughterhouses in various parts of state where meat of cow and pig (holy to Hindus and Muslims) was made available. This sparked off a series of protests in various parts of the country and the Kuka became the torch-bearers of the campaign. Giani Rattan Singh and Sant Rattan Singh were among the enthusiastic activists of the movement who together organised an attack on one of the slaughterhouses in the city.

According to Namdhari Dalip Singh, a senior member of the sect, the British had opened the slaughterhouses with an aim of terrorising the Indians and telling them in no compromising terms that they are slaves of the English who can enact any law and undergo any activity even if it hurts the psyche or sentiments of the Hindustanis.

It was the mindest which the Namdharis aimed to break. They launched attacks on the slaughterhouses and razed them to the ground. The infuriated the British who responded with the more cruel method of oppression by hanging the revolutionaries in full public view without even covering their faces so that the pain one suffers because of asphyxia is seen and the other anti-British moves by the Indians are discouraged.

Namdhari Ajit Singh, Secretary of the Namdhari Sabha, said while before Independence, they fought for rights against the British, after the country’s freedom, the fight continued with the Indian government for possession of the tree and the adjoining land to erect a memorial of the martyrs. It was only during the government of the late Beant Singh that the Namdharis were given the land on the token payment of Re 1 per square yard.

He revealed that now the SAD-BJP government had approved the Namdharis’ project of constructing a multi-storey complex for multi-religious discourses. The construction work is expected to commence shortly.

In spite of these belated acknowledgements on the part of the state government, the Namdharis still have a fight on their hands — their revered martyrs have not been given due importance by the historians. The Central Government, also, has not enlisted them as freedom fighters.

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