Lucknow's Big Tuesday

"Click".. the light went on. I squinted at the clock.. 4am. "Just papa," mumbled I to myself and turned over to catch another 4 hours (at least) of sleep. Well it was Lucknow and I was on vacation.

While waking up at four is my father's routine.. today was special. The noise level was half a decibel higher as he bathed and readied. Though not a very religious person (he leaves that for the mother), today he will make it to the Hanuman temple before the crowd kicks in. It is 'Bada Mangal'.

Later in the day I stepped out for a mall-date with my SIL and I was in for a surprise. I had forgotten how Lucknow comes to life on this day. Bada Mangal in Lucknow is a bada deal. If Pune has Ganapati, Lucknow has Bada Mangal. Four Tuesdays of the Jyeshtha month are 'special' Lord Hanuman days... that much I knew but I had forgotten the festivities.

First, the food is to die for
The celebrations are something to watch out for. They spill out onto the roads. Bhajans drift on the air from temples big and small. Streets are dotted with pandals every few meters with people distributing the yummiest of foods. We stopped to click some pictures were promptly handed a dona of aloo puri.. hot off the kadhai. Had I been a food writer I would have done better justice to writing about that aloo puri.. all I can say it to believe it.
There was halwa for dessert and rose sherbet to wash it down with.

No one goes hungry on Bada Mangal

Wish I had a better picture.. the puris are actually being made here
If you've been anywhere near Lucknow during the summer you'll know what a blessing a simple water stall is
According to the Times some even served chowmein while some offered orange squash instead of the traditional rose or khus sherbet. Moving with the times.. eh? But seriously, no one goes hungry on Bada Mangal. Young boys take along carry bags and the organisers gladly filled those up to.

The mela
And there's more. Roads leading to the main Aliganj temple for kilometers on each side are taken over by stalls selling everything from toys and trinkets to ceramic ware and cutlery. Banglesellers, mehendi wallahs, idol makers, tattoo men line the roads. The crowds are unbelievable. I wish I could have taken the kids but I don't think I could have handled them with all those goodies on display. Maybe when they're older..

The story
The Bada Mangal has an interesting story to go with it. Actually there are more than one stories but this one's my favourite. Apparently the Nawab of Awadh, Shuja Ud Daulah's wife, Aliya Begum had a dream. Lord Hanuman appeared to her and asked her to build him a temple. When she woke up she directed the Nawab to the site in her dream. The site was excavated and a Hanuman idol was found. The Nawab put in on an elephant to transport it back to his palace. However after a few steps the elephant refused to move and that's where the temple was built.. that's the Aliganj temple of Lucknow. Celebrations end today with the concluding Tuesday of the Jyeshtha month.

You know what the most interesting part of the story is? The Aliganj temple has a crescent right over its dome. How's that for Hindu-Muslim unity?
What's more, most abattoirs are shut on these Tuesdays and Mutton/Chicken sales hit an all time low. Many Muslims too take up the task of setting up water stalls on Bada Mangal. This really is what Lucknow is all about... what it is famous for -- its Ganga Jamuni tehzeeb.

Didn't I say Lucknow was the best.

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