Smiles, Colour and Mithai in a Puneri Diwali

“Careful where you step or you’d probably find your feet in a puddle of colour in what was an intricately constructed rangoli.”

Happy Diwali !!!!

Old Pune in a few words to me is where time stops but the traffic doesn’t, is where the people return your smiles and the decaying wooden facades are not just gateways but time machines into an India of the past.

Doorways into a India of Past
[A Doorway in Pune OLD]

Like Bombay’s Girgaon is divided in wadis [read Khotachiwadi], Pune is dived into Peths [burrows]. The old city is divided into 18 such Peths- interestingly some of which are named after the days of the week in Marathi: Shaniwar peth, Ravivar peth, Somwar peth, Budhwar Peth - just to name a few. All this designed with an amazing sense of Indian town planning. The old city is anchored around its heart the Shaniwar Wada and sprawls around it, dividing into different burrow, each having unique characteristics. It is a hive of activity and its got all the buzz to pull a sting. Hidden treasures greet you at every corner: if you want a second hand Enfield cheap head to Rasta Peth; if you want to buy your textbooks on extra rebate Appabalvan Chowk in Budhwar Peth is the place; if you want an eighteen yard paithani sari look no further than Laxmi Road.

Chuddi Walli
[Chuddiwalli - Bangle Seller]

Deciding to gauge the festive pulse I decided to walk through some of these neighborhoods. The houses without exception are caught in a dance of beautiful decay, chipping paint, burnt and broken wooden doorways and high trellised balconies from which old women in their elegant saris can watch whether the sabjiwalla [vegetable seller] has passed by yet. Traveling salesmen hawk their wares in the lane shouting out in low pitch calls with elongated vowels. From the kabadiwallah [vendor who buys old items] to the man who will sharpen knives on his mobile grinding stone. Take a turn around the narrow lanes and you see men sitting crossed legged shaping brass vessels with hammer and tongs, beating it with a rhythmic twang that sets the street alive with what would best be described as industrial jazz. Turn another corner and the scene changes into one of hectic diwali eve shopping. Diwali to my mind is basically a giant nationwide form of house cleaning for a very esteemed VIP guest, a certain goddess of wealth. This huge operation spearheaded by the women of each household involves cleaning all aspects of the house and goes on to decorating all aspects of it and on the big day lighting it up with as many diyas [small earthen lamps] as humanly possible

[Streets in Pune]

The Diwali Colour of Money
[Diwali ,Colour of Money]

[Buying Diyas]

Diwali in its design becomes a festival for each and every member of the family. The women are in it for the new sari or the new jewelry set in their locker, gluts like me are in it for the mithai, kids are in it for the fireworks and the men are in it for the arbit socializing and the games of cards that follow. Out of all these things I quite like diwali except for the gunpowder induced noise and the pollution that is its by product. What is unique about Diwali in Maharashtra is that kids make small model killas [forts] and decorate them with tiny clay figurines. It is a fun tradition.

[A Boy and his Fort]
Diwali Figures - Budhwar Peth, Pune
[Clay Figurines]

Anyway before I forget- HAPPY DIWALI . I think its time I go hide in the kitchen before I’m deputed to scrubbing the walls. Why the kitchen ? for the chakallis and the karanjis of course.

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Bombayite said...

hey akshay,
wish you a very happy diwali and prosperous new yr,

p.s saying once again 'awesome pics'.. how didja make da chudiwali aunty give dat million $ smile :)

Anonymous said...

The chudiwalli aaji is so cute! Great pic!!!

aparna said...

happy diwali and a prosperous new year.i love diwali for all the
chewda, karanjis, chaklis it has to offer.although i m pissed about not to burning crackers.have to stay content wit burning puhuljhadis.

Mridula said...

Very nice pictures, all of them. And a Happy Diwali to you.

The ramblings of a shoe fiend said...

Beautiful pictures

The Comic Project said...

hey akshay..i am glad i bumped into your blog here. Awesome photos - the doorway is just too good..and the killa..reminds me of my childhood. I miss doing that..the tiny Shivaji figure at the top, small soldiers positioned in various places on the fort. Damn. This makes me nostalgic.

Anonymous said...

oh happy diwali to you too! have a great year ahead... why are you in Pune again? Whens ya getting back?


Aditya Bidikar said...

Great photos. The doorway is truly wonderful. Keep clicking.

Viewer said...

Happy Diwali to u too :) Cool pictures :)

Patrix said...

It has been years since anyone mentioned or wrote about model killas. I remember building those and then keeping watch on my precious Shivaji and mavlas to guard them against slum kids who stole them. And yeah, nice vibrant colorful pictures. I flicked one for one of my blogs.

Nick said...

I am convinced that Akshay knows a little bit more than Wikipedia, if that is possible. His knowledge cannot be catalogued, but we are allowed these glimpses into his vast brain resource via Trivial Matters.

Happy Diwali! By the way, please click on the Google AdSense links to your top right of this page in order to celebrate diwali the best way.

Ash said...

Happy Deepavali !

Fantastic photography and amazing eye for detail, as usual :)

miko! said...

hey akshay! happy diwali :) loved ur pics. u make me miss home even more now... ;)

Rushi said...

Happy Diwali!

I would love to visit Old Pune. When I went to India in the first place I was quite unnerved by the fact that my smiles weren't returned. By the way, I'm into Diwali for the lights.
And we love you.

Dawn....सेहर said...

came by thru bombayite...nice pics. but I wish you had mentioned the street names as well as...for this part of the world...pune is another silicon valley like bangalore..:)

great work..happy diwali


Harini Calamur said...

great pics. love the old lady selling bangles. reminds me of a yesteryear actress (dina pathak?)
and a great and happy diwali to you too.

. : A : . said...

Great photo essay Akshay. Happy Diwali to you.

livinghigh said...

hehehe.. happy diwali to ya aks boy. great post and pics as usual! ;-)

neha kaul said...

the chudiwali aunty's smile...priceless- keep snapping!

Ashu M said...

Happy Diwali, Akshay!
Great photos and a great writeup!

Send some of those karanjis this way ... I'll swap you some extra-spicy chaklis for those!

Geetanjali said...

Great Diwali Post Akshay - but shouldn't this have been on PuneBlogging? ;-)

Belated greetings for Diwali and a propserous New Year!!! Meant to send egreetings et al but never got around to it...

gawker said...

Making killas was such good fun. And then blowing them up with sutali atom bombs once Diwali was done.

Great pictures.

F-cubed said...


just came across your blog and helt obliged to tell you that the photographs are absolutely stunning.

I love clicking away at stuff as well but I doubt if I have ever been able to get anything quite so stunning.


pinkblog78 said...

Great pics as always Akshay! You make me realize how much I truly miss Bombay. A Very Happy Diwali to you too!

KJ said...

Better Late than Never
happy diwali and a prosperous new year

hope u had a nice diwali.

the pics are awesome as usual.


KJ said...

Lovely pictures...have a good year!

Anonymous said...

Hey Akshay, totally cool pics.. :)


Sirensongs: Indologist At Large said...

Had the best Diwali ever in 2004 in old Pune - I think it was Mangalwarpeth. My friends built forts and took me round the neighborhood to show me other kids'. They also took pride in their rangoli, with those distinctive fireworks-type Marathi swirling colour patterns. Thanks for memories!

Anonymous said...

Hey Everybody, I'm from Hyderabad but now I'M writing from Maryland, U.S.A.. I miss Diwali so much when we were children we use to have lots of fun fighting with crackers & we use to getup early morning burn the we grow older we use decorate around house & show up all new cloths... here its not same thing.. Anyway I WISH EVERYBODY VERY VERY HAPPY DEWALI!!!!!

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