Saturday, January 13, 2007

One-stop mini mall

As I walk along the streets of Matunga, I marvel at how South Indian culture has been transported to this small stretch in central Mumbai.

This tiny pavement shop is a perfect example.

It sells all the little things that Brahmins need to live life as prescribed by the Vedas. The Vedas contain rites and rituals for important events such as birth, marriage and death. The central element in the rituals is the sacred sacrificial fire.

The long Kusa grass you see stacked on the left is laid on the floor around the sacred fire for purifying the area. Shorter Kusa grass is twisted around the ring finger while offering oblations into the fire. Small twigs of the banyan tree are used to feed the flames. The fire itself is built using dried cowdung cakes as fuel (see if you can spot it in the picture!).

On the shelves at the top of the shop, you can see little containers with sandal powder, camphor, sacred ash and turmeric. A little plastic has crept into the packaging, but in all other ways, the rituals remain the same as they were four thousand years ago.

We looked around for the shop owner, and spotted him taking an afternoon nap.

Obviously, Bombay's modern-day rush
hasn't yet reached this corner of Matunga!

- JK

1 comment:

Reshma Anand said...

Walking into central matunga is like walking into another world. Where the whiff of sambar from kitchens of old restaurants mix with the divine fragrance of flower vendors lined outside the temples. Even the railways station which in other areas are buzzing with people coming and going, in matunga reflects the slow pace of life.