Sunday, September 8, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Sati worship goes on unabated
Devotees don’t know name of the hallowed woman
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Devotees perform rituals at Sati Temple in Pohir village in Ludhiana district. — Photo Inderjeet Verma

Pohir (Ludhiana), September 7
More than 150 years after Raja Ram Mohan Roy, the great social reformer and feminist, picked up cudgels against the tradition of sati, sati worship goes on unabated in scores of villages in Ludhiana district.

Even as such worship had invited the ire of feminists in Rajasthan recently where the Supreme Court had to intervene by banning the organisation of a mela, such fairs are being observed every year in this part of the country.

A Ludhiana Tribune team witnessed one such fair in this village today where thousands of devotees had come from places far and wide. The fair started in the wee hours of the morning and the devotees paid obeisance till evening. It won’t be an exaggeration to say that while witnessing this one felt to have been transported to a primitive age from the modern world.

People come here either begging for the fulfilment of a wish or for thanksgiving after getting a wish fulfilled. Every year a fair is organised on the dark night of “Bhadon” month.

The folklore has it that the temple is remembered because of a woman who had sacrificed her life after her husband, a member of Dhand community, had died around 500 years ago. Since then the place is worshipped by the descendants of this community.

Ironically, not even a single devotee, who had come from various parts of the state and Delhi, could recollect the name of the woman who had committed sati. ‘‘Even my grandfather did not know her name. We only know that this is temple of our great grandfather who had died several years ago and his wife had committed sati,’’ said a devotee, who had come from Nakodar. Even the temple management or the organisers of the mela had no idea about the identity of the woman. Nobody has any other information about the history of the temple. They all are invited by the temple committee every year through a letter and don’t miss an opportunity to be here.

The temple is known for blessing the families with a male child, who will add to the progeny of the family. ‘‘She is a goddess who gives us male children. So whenever a boy is born in our family, he is brought to this temple and whenever our son gets married, he comes here with his wife to pay obeisance,’’ said a devotee with devotion writ large on his face.

‘‘Our daughters cannot pay obeisance here because they don’t belong to us. They are ‘paraya dhan’ so they cannot be devotees of our great grandparents. Our daughters-in-law can do that because they belong to our khandaan.’’

One of the members who was asked whether he justified sati, said, ‘‘This is not a question of justifying it. Nobody wants to do it these days. Can you coerce anybody to perform this act? But you see the feeling behind it. Our great grandmother is revered because of her courage. Just try to understand the feeling behind her act. Now she has become a goddess for us who can do miracles — ranging from curing a cancer patient to making a childless woman conceive.’’

‘‘So each member of a devotee family pays a part of his income for the temple. Dupattas and other things are offered here which are collected by our kulpurohit. You see yourself the number of followers and you will understand the ‘shakti’ of the sati.’’ he argued.


Kapil Dev backs Indian cricketers
Anil Dutt

Ludhiana, September 7
Kapil Dev, the cricketer of the century, today stood by the players of the Indian cricket team and observed that the International Cricket Council (ICC) was trying to make itself richer and the players poor. "It should not make money at the cost of the players", Kapil observed, while talking to this reporter on his arrival in the city.

Kapil is supposed to interact and play with cricketers on the streets and different playgrounds of the city. He is on a tour sponsored and organised by the television channel Sony Max. He will stay here for two days. His tryst with street cricketers starts tomorrow and will continue for full day.

While he continues to rule the heart of the millions of cricket lovers across the globe, the latest honour of being adjudged as the cricketer of the century does not seem to have made any difference to his behaviour. He continues to remain as gentle and soft-spoken as ever. He admits with all modesty, "I could not have expected anything better".

Kapil also made it clear that although he has devoted his entire life to cricket, he had no intentions of taking over as the regular coach of the Indian cricket team or any other cricket team in the world. "I have no such ideas", he said in an unambiguous tone, while adding, "but that does not mean I will not train youngsters and cricket lovers keen on making their mark in the world of cricket".

The Cricketer of the Century has no intentions of making it to the commentator box either. "Not at all", was the sharp and instant remark he made, when it was pointed out to him that so many senior cricketers were fast becoming commentators. He said smilingly; "it is not my cup of tea".

On the proposal of constituting a separate Chandigarh Cricket Association, Kapil said, there was nothing wrong in the idea. "In fact I am very much in favour of it, since Chandigarh has also produced some outstanding cricketers", he pointed out.

While praising the performance of the young wicket keeper Parthiv Patel, Kapil said, "I really feel bad for him as after being selected at a young age he was dropped in the next game despite outstanding performance...but I am sure he will make a brilliant comeback since he is a promising chap".


A rainy day that didn’t dampen spirits
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 7
Heavy showers lashed Ludhiana for several hours today flooding the low-lying areas for sometime. Most of the main roads were inundated. The movement of traffic was also affected for some time in most parts of the city. The traffic movement was resumed only after the water receded from roads late in the afternoon.

It started raining in the morning and continued till afternoon. However, the showers were welcomed by one and all especially the farmers. Although late, but still these did provide some relief to the agriculture sector also. However, the agriculture experts maintained that this may not make much difference now, as most of the season had already passed off.

The rains also brought down the temperature and the airconditioners were switched off. Right from the morning dense dark clouds had covered the horizon bringing in the hope of a rainy day.

After the long dry spell even the pavement dwellers, did not mind getting drenched rather they seemed to enjoy the rain.

While it may not make much difference to the farmer in the countryside now, as the loss to their crops is already irretrievable, yet they celebrated the rain in the hope that something might be saved. And for the people living in the city it was all joy and jubilation particularly as the rains came after keeping everyone waiting for long.



Mohan Singh Mela on Oct 19, 20
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 7
Professor Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation is organising the Professor Mohan Singh memorial international cultural fair on October 19 and 20 in Punjabi Bhavan here.

This was stated today by the office-bearers of the trust who said that the first day of the fair would be organised by the Punjabi Sahit Academy, Ludhiana, where various plays and songs penned by the famous writers would be presented, besides the various cultural dances.

The office-bearers said that the trust would be organising various seminars on culture and literature in various parts of the state. The trust has also invited the masses to become members of the trust by paying Rs 5,000 each.


Man commits suicide
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 7
A shopkeeper committed suicide fearing beating by a mob that had gathered outside his shop after hearing the cries of a woman whom the deceased was allegedly trying to rape.

Police sources informed that the incident took place in Kailash Nagar today. The deceased, identified as Mani, allegedly caught a married woman, mother of three children, in his shop. He downed the shutters of the shop and attempted to rape the woman.

Hearing the cries of the woman, a large number of people gathered outside the shop and started breaking it open. The police said the shopkeeper then hanged himself from the ceiling fan with the sari of the woman.


F&CS officials’ ultimatum to govt
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 7
Taking serious note of the registration of criminal cases and the arrest of some of their colleagues, employees of the Food and Civil Supplies Department today constituted a coordination committee to fight against the ‘police atrocities’ and victimisation. They also served an ultimatum on the government that all their arrested colleagues be released and cases against them be withdrawn within seven days, failing which they would be forced to resort to some extreme measures, including the boycott of paddy procurement process which was scheduled to start next month.

A meeting of the officials of the department was held here today. Dr H.S. Ghuman, Joint Director, has been appointed convener of the coordination committee. Other members of the committee are Dr (Ms) Ranjit Pawar, Deputy Director, Dr Karnesh Sharma, Deputy Director, Mr Bir Inder Singh, district manager, Markfed, Mr Omkar Nath Sharma, general secretary of the Food and Civil Supplies Inspectors Association (Grade II), Mr Hardev Singh Rosha, president of the Civil Supplies Inspectors Association (Grade I), Mr Praveen Vij, DSFC, Jalandhar, and Mr Karam Chan, district manager of the Punjab Agro Industries Development Corporation.

Briefing reporters after the meeting, the committee members said they would meet the Food and Civil Supplies Minister, Mr Lal Singh, and request him that cases against the employees of their department be withdrawn and the arrested employees be released within seven days. In case the government failed to release them and withdraw cases, they would boycott the paddy procurement process.

The coordination committee members argued that all cases registered against their colleagues were false and fabricated. They alleged these cases had been registered at the behest of certain vested interests. They demanded that an inquiry should be conducted into the issue and the guilty be identified and punished.

Recently, the police had arrested seven officials, including Dr Makhan Singh and Dr Amir Chand, besides five inspectors, for alleged fraud. Besides the police had also registered a case against a district manager, Mr L.S. Sekhon, which they claimed was also fabricated. “The selective and sustained campaign to humiliate us will not be tolerated anymore,” the members asserted. The food officials claimed that the police officials who were registering cases against their colleagues had no technical knowledge about the working of the F&CS Department.

They also opposed the joint custody system of paddy. They said, “Due to non-availability of space with the department and its agencies, the government stores the stock with millers”. 


Nature, the best artist
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 7
Little did Pardeep Sharma know that the last of the yield of bitter gourd (karela) would stun them as one of the bitter gourds looked exactly like a parrot- with a sharp beak, eyes and even little feet on which the parrot like ‘karela’ could sit.

Pardeep’s grandfather, Mr Omparkash, a resident of Shivpuri area, had planted the seed a couple of months ago in his small kitchen garden. They had a rich yield of bitter gourd. Since the vine was drying up, they decided to collect all the ‘keralas’. Much to their surprise, they discovered the unique bitter gourd looked exactly like a parrot.

Mr Omparkash has a very interesting tale to narrate. A parrot used to come and perch on that particular ‘karela’ the entire last week. Their pet parrot, Neetu, and the unknown parrot would make a lot of screeching sounds as if they were conversing with each other. Every morning the parrot would come at 8 am and would sit for half an hour and then fly off.

Today when they saw the parrot-like ‘karela’, they wondered whether the parrot while sitting on the ‘karela’ had fashioned it like himself . No one knows but one knows for sure that nature can throw up many surprises as nature is the best artist.



Protest against ‘Ek Chhoti Si...’
Tribune news Service

Ludhiana, September 7
Activists of the local Shiv Sena unit today burnt posters of the controversial movie “Ek Chhoti Si Love Story” pasted on walls, near Bharat Nagar Chowk, here today afternoon. The Shiv Sainiks also took out a short protest march at Jagraon Bridge raising slogans against the movie.

There was, however, no directive from the state unit or the national unit of the Shiv Sena for the action. Mr Pawan Sharma, vice-president of the local unit, said they were angry at the depiction of the student-teacher relationship in the movie and termed several scenes as obscene.

Informed sources disclosed that the Shiv Sainiks had seen the movie first and then protested. Mr Pawan Sharma, however, said they gathered at the railway station here and decided to protest.


Tree plantation camp
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 7
Punjab National Bank, Boparai Kalan branch, organised a tree plantation camp at Government Girls High School, Boparai Kalan (Ludhiana). Mr A.K. Loomba, Sr. Regional Manager, Ludhiana region was the chief guest and Mr Bachhittar Singh, District Education Officer (DEO), presided over the function. Mr Loomba inaugurated the camp by planting a sapling in the school ground. In his address, Mr loomba highlighted the benefits of trees in public life. He advised the students to plant a tree on every important occasion to maintain the beauty, greenery and environment of the earth. More than 200 saplings were planted by the staff and students of the school and staff of the bank.

On this occasion, brilliant students from all classes of the school were honoured. 



Mentally disturbed hangs himself to death
Our Correspondent

Doraha, September 7
A man badly disturbed with the continuous inhaling of drugs, ended his life by hanging himself from last night.

The deceased has been identified as Goldi of Jaipura village who was in the habit of taking drugs and thus creating new problems every time. His father, Rajwant Singh, who had been to foreign lands, upset over the routine tension created by his only son, sent his daughter-in-law and grand-daughter to a foreign country so that the life of the two may not be spoiled and his grand-daughter could grow in a good atmosphere.

It is said that Rajwant Singh had already left the house at Jaipura village and was himself staying in a rented house at Doraha. The villagers came to know of the happening in the morning today when they found his body hanging in his fields. The Doraha police has taken the body in custody and sent it for a post-mortem.

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