Monday, January 4, 2010

Desert deluge

Golden sands stretch
simmering in the noon time,
The land of death
an isolated pulsating beacon,
A desert draped
in the chronicle of ancient time,
The scorching heat
and the sand dunes beckon.

Amazing legends
of romance and heroism,
Sing longingly
in the pink castles of royalty,
Pink, blue, golden
cities greet in mysticism,
A quiet retreat
from the harsh wrath of reality.

Proud moustaches
of men with vibrant turban,
Painted pots poised
delicately on smiling beauties,
Hidden faces
in bandini* odhni* and heavy jewelry,
The colourful Ghagras*
in a rebellious swirl of festivities.

Rajasthan has seen
drought that squeezes her dry,
No Rain God answers
the soulful Bhopas* echoing pitifully,
Eight years of drought
crushed spent looking at the sky,
Till the heavens one day
opened and rain poured relentlessly.

People danced
with elation as welcome drops fell,
Like a prisoner of war
thankful thirsty parched land drank,
But the cloud burst
pouring down vengeance from hell,
Under 25 feet
of deluge water many villages sank.

Houses gone
washed off in the seething torrent,
Lost is life
To the rain they had waited for years,
Cattle, crops all gone
with the water that came to torment,
Watchful eyes now
look at the desert horizon with fears.

A flash flood submerged area in the Khawas village, Barmer district of Rajasthan part of the Great Indian Desert or Thar Desert on Saturday, Aug. 26, 2006. Some of the villages are submerged under 25 feet of water. The children below 8 years in these villages have never seen a drop of rain in their life!

(30th August 2006, Nellore)
© Nalini Hebbar/openmind/2009 - all rights reserved.

Bhopas: The Bhopas are priest singers who compose music in honour of the deities and the war heroes. The music is peppy and very catchy.
Bandini: Tie and Dye or the bandini is a traditional method of printing textiles.
Ghagras: The heavy mirror-work ghagras is an ankle length gathered skirt made of more than 5 and half meters of cloth worn with Khanijri, a backless longish blouse with half sleeves tied at the back with strings.
Odhni: A long scarf of vivid colours
Multi-coloured Ghagras, Khanijris and Odhni have for centuries added life to the barren landscape of Rajasthan. The men dress in white clothes with vibrant bandini turbans.