By Raju Kumar
Temple of Goddess Wagheshwari Devi is situated in Dhamangaon village, which is about 20 kms from Burhanpur near the Maharashtra border. Traditionally, people have deep faith in this temple, so during Navrati festival, people from various adjacent villages come to this place for worshiping the Goddess. During this festival, Mrs. Archana Chitnis, Madhya Pradesh Minister for WCD, remains there in a small cottage inside the temple premises. Though, it is a religious event, owing to the efforts of Mrs. Chitnis, a local village fair was organized 10 years ago. In that fair, food stalls and swings were installed for the entertainment of local villagers. However, in the last 10 years, the situation has changed tremendously. Now cultural events are organized at the national level. The fair, which begun with the participation of few hundred people, now turns to a gathering of thousands not only from the neighbouring villages but also from far flung areas. Maa Wagheshwari Gramoday fair has now become one of the major cultural events of Madhya Pradesh. This time, a huge mass of people visited the fair. Although it is being organized at the village level, folk artists from 10 states participated to show their talents. Folk artists from Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Tripura along with artists from Punjab, Maharashtra, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh presented their traditional folk cultural programs in this fair.
Burhanpur, the historic city of Madhya Pradesh, is situated on the border of Maharashtra. Burhanpur is prosperous in every manner, rich in religious, archaeological, historical, natural and cultural aspects. It has also been called the door of the south. Many Mughal rulers spent years here. It has been a trade centre. In modern times, it is also recognized for the traditional scientific method of water supply. Here the Kundi Bhandara is world famous.
In Chaitra Navaratri, in a courtyard room in the premises of the mother Wagheshwari temple, Mrs. Chitnis remains all the time. In the early morning she meets the villagers in the area and then goes out on a water awareness campaign (Jal Jagran Abhiyan) in the nearby villages. Measures to save water, water recharge in the farms, cleaning of water sources and inviting villagers to the fair are the themes of her campaign.
In the evening, workshops for workers in the unorganized sector, for women and farmers are organized to discuss solutions for many issues, raising awareness and announcing new initiatives. And then begin the cultural activities, which continue till late night. This fair is the centre of cultural and social interaction. .
In one corner of the fair, swings, maut ka kawa and miracle of science are played, while in the other rallies and kabaddi are organized. Many national level players participate in the events. This time, the horse copper race was also organized. Horses have also been given health checkups.
Indira Gandhi National Center of Art, Government of India and the various academies of the Government of Madhya Pradesh are now supporting the fair to make Maa Wagheshwari Gramodaya Mela a national event. The event has now become one of the important cultural activities of Madhya Pradesh. (IPA Service)