(This Chapter is contributed by Shri T. V. Parvate, a well-known writer in Bombay. )


(For History of the People from Hindu Period refer Gazetteer of Bombay City and Island, Vol.1, 1909, pp. 142-66.)

THE CITY OF BOMBAY, OFFICIALLY DESIGNATED AS GREATER BOMBAY,is one of the 30 districts of Maharashtra State. But what a contrast it is to any other district in the State whether in point of area, population, geographical location, history, economic growth, industry, trade and com­merce, education, public life or any other field whatsoever. The composition of Bombay is entirely different from any other urban centre in the State and it is so obvious for any one to see.

The evolution of Bombay from an insignificant fishing village or a group of villages into the capital of an important State in the Indian Union and into the industrial and commercial metropolis of the whole country has all the features of a romance in the current history of India. Originally a collection of small seven islands off the mainland on the West Coast, separated by small shallow creeks, it became a compact body after it was presented to an English King named Charles II by Portugal as dowry when the Portuguese Princess Catherine was married to him. The British sovereign found that the marriage gift was too costly to maintain and he disposed it off to the British East India Company at a nominal annual rent of £ 10. The East India Company's headquarters were then at Surat since 1612 but the company was anxious to free itself from the stranglehold of the Moghal Subedar of Gujarat and establish itself in a more suitable and safer haven. Since the Company came to Bombay its rise and growth have been perennial.

Bombay has been growing and growing to this day and now it is said to have reached a bursting point because its geography has been altogether unsuitable for further expansion. Bombay, before it became Greater Bombay, was a mere strip of land from Mahim to Colaba surrounded by sea water on all sides. But with the New Bombay in the making across its harbour and the Thane Creek, it is now assuming the form of separate and independent and parallel existence, although essentially it is an eastward expansion of Bombay into Thane and Rayagad districts.

No sooner the Englishman found his feet firmly planted in Bombay than he extended a general invitation to all to come and settle down in Bombay and gave the assurance that in their pursuit of life's various avocations, they will not be discriminated against on grounds of race, creed, religion or pigment of the skin. This was an antithesis of what the way of the former masters of Bombay and its precincts, the Portuguese, was. In response to this generous invitation Hindus, Musalmans and Parsees from Gujarat and Maharashtra as also from south Konkan were the earliei or immediate immigrants. It is on record that the population of fishermen, Hindus and Portuguese-converted Catholic Christians, inhabiting the seven small islets was in the neighbourhood of 6,000; but it went up to 60,000. Within ten years of English possession and occupation of Bombay started the inflow of these enterprising immigrants, leading among whom were the Parsees. They became excellent helpmates and collaborators and later junior partners of British traders and businessmen.

Roughly speaking, by the beginning of the eighteenth century, the seven islets went to form what came to be called the island of Bombay. It was a fairly compact area separated from Salsette by the Mahim river, Bandra and Kurla remaining southern most points of Salsette or the future Thane district. From the beginning of the eighteenth century to the end of the nineteenth, Bombay's growth in point of population has been incessant and almost phenomenal. While this was going on there was a constant struggle against the sea to reclaim land from it. This has gone on for three hundred years ceaselessly and it has not stopped still. The Nariman Point area is a living demonstration of it.

During the first hundred years of British occupation of Bombay, there could be no peace and even semblance of order because the struggle against the French, the Siddi of Janjira and the Mahratta armada of the Angria was there; but with the fall of the Mahratta power in 1818, there was comparative peace and what usually follows a peaceful era. There was a time when like almost every other urban area, Bombay depended for its water supply on tanks and wells. With the ever-growing supply of pipe water, the wells and tanks were filled up and only their names like Maharbavdi and Dhobi Talao are still current to show where they were once upon a time. Similarly names of areas like Khetwadi, Ambewadi,Kelewadi, Wadala, etc. must have been paddy fields, mango groves, banana gardens and a collection of banian trees. Now these are all under human habitation.

This transformation was not sudden but gradual and steady, making room for more and more immigrants to live. Once upon a time there were two distinct parts of Bombay, Fort and Black Town. With the demolition of the Fort walls set in the era of assured peace and prosperity. Metalled roads, well-lighted at night became the order. Pipe water supply from distant tanks and conservancy arrangements were here in the nineteenth century, in its later decades. Textile mills and hospitals came into being. The University of Bombay was established in 1857. The Western and Central Railways as they are called now began to function. The Secretariat, the High Court, Rajabai Tower lent Bombay quite a new, dignified and magnificent look. Who will now believe that there were jackals in the Malabar hill jungle, and occasionally even a tiger. The presence of these wild animals was quite normal if the writings of Englishmen residing here about a hundred years ago have to be taken as faithful, as indeed they should be. But wild animals and reptiles have now almost disappeared to make room for more needy humanity.



The population of Greater Bombay District, according to the 1971 Census, is 5,970,575 (Males 3,478,378; females 2,492,197) and is spread over the 15 wards as stated in Table (Tables are given at the end of this section, while 1981  Census population is given in Table No. 9 at the end of this Chapter. )No. 1.

The table shows that this population spread over the district area of 603.00 square kilometres(As reported by Surveyor General of India.) works out at about 9,901 persons to a square kilometre. The density of population of the district is higher than the State average in 1971.

As regards area, Greater Bombay is the smallest district in the State. It comprises only the area included in the limits of the Greater Bombay Municipal Corporation. Greater Bombay is an urban agglomeration and the commercial metropolis. For revenue purposes, the area is administered as two units, Bombay City and Bombay Suburban district. For all other administrative purposes, it is treated as one district.

Variation : The population of the district and decade variation rates since 1901 are as follows:—

Decade variation
Rate of variation
+ 220,763
+ 231,691
+ 17,364
+ 28.87
+ 1,193,088
+ 66.23
+ 1,157,612
+ 38.66
+ 1,818,519
+ 43.80
+ 38.07

Greater Bombay district which is entirely an urban area has shown a phenomenal growth of 543.39 per cent compared to the State urban growth rate of 388.34 per cent. During 1961 to 1971 the largest decadal growth viz. 43.80 per cent is seen in Greater Bombay which is the highest rate in the State. This growth is due to the industrial development of the district. The increase in population of Greater Bombay can be attributed more to immigration than to Ihe natural growth of population.

Density of Population : The density of population in Greater Bombay district in 1961, 1971 and 1981 is given below:—

Density of Population
Density of Population
1961 24,568 per sq.mile 1981 13,644 per
1971 9,901 per    

Urban Population : The following statement gives the number of towns in Greater Bombay since 1901 Census:—


1901 3 1951 10
1911 4 1961 1
1921 5 1971 1
1931 9 1981 1
1941 9    

The total number of towns had been continuously increasing since 1901. With the redefinition of an urban area in 1961, the entire area within Greater Bombay limits is regarded as a single agglomeration.

Age Groups : Table No. 2 gives the population by age and marital status in Greater Bombay district in 1971.

Sex Ratio : The sex ratio of females per 1,000 males for the city and the State is given below:—

Greater Bombay
Greater Bombay

Households : The following statement gives the persons per occupied census house in 1961 and 1971:—

Persons per occupied census house
Persons Per occupied census home

Population by Religion: The distribution of population by religion in Greater Bombay in 1971 is given in Table No. 3.

Table No. 4, gives the statistics of growth-rate and proportion of population of each major religious community in Greater Bombay in 1971.

Scheduled Castes : Table No. 5 gives the statistics of Scheduled Castes classified by literacy in 1971 in Greater Bombay.

The percentage of Scheduled Castes to total population in 1961 and 1971 was 3.37 and 3.53 respectively. It shows an increase in Scheduled Castes percentage in 1971 over 1961.

Scheduled Tribes : Table No. 6 gives the statistics of Scheduled Tribes population classified by literacy in Greater Bombay in 1971.

The percentage of Scheduled Tribes to total population in 1961 and 1971 was 0.62 and 0.50, respectively. The decrease in the percentage of Scheduled Tribes population in 1971 cannot be explained on the basis of any statistical data.

Table No. 7 gives the ward wise Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes population in Greater Bombay in 1971.

Languages : Table No. 8 gives the statistics of distribution of languages (inclusive of mother tongues grouped under each) specified in Schedule VIII to the Constitution of India, in Greater Bombay in 1971.


Ward wise Population of Greater Bombay, 1971


Area in Km2

Total Population (including institutional and houseless population)






Greater Bombay Municipal Corporation.





Ward A





Ward B





Ward C





Ward D





Ward E





Ward F





Ward G





Ward H





Ward K





Ward P





Ward R





Ward L





Ward M





Ward N





Ward T







Total Population

Never Married



Divorced or Separated

Unspecified Status












Males Females

All ages















































































































































































|   27,939












70 +














Age not stated



































Other religions and persuasions



Religion not stated   ..





Percentage decadal growth-rate 1961-1971


Total Population












Sikhs                     ..












Percentage of each community to total population 1971—






















Religion not stated





Total Population


Literates and educated persons








All Scheduled Castes



























Bhangi, Halalkhor 


















Chambhar, Mochi









Chenna Dasar









Dhor, Kakkayya






















































Mahar, Taral


















Mang, Matang 









Mang Garudi [Group (a)]





























































.   ..



















Scheduled Tribes Population Classified by Literacy in Greater Bombay, 1971



Total Population


Literates and educated persons










All Scheduled Tribes



























Bhil [Group (a)]






















































Gond [Group (a)]



























Koli Dhor


















Pardhi [Group (a)]
































































Scheduled Castes

Scheduled Tribes





Greater Bombay Municipal Corporation         

115,343 95,154



Ward A





Ward B





Ward C





Ward D





Ward E





Ward F





Ward G





Ward H





Ward K





Ward P





Ward R










Ward M





Ward N





Ward T





Source.—Census of India, 1971.



(1) Assamese




(2) Bengali   




(3) Gujarati   




(4) Hindi




(5) Kannada 




(6) Kashmiri 




(7) Malyalam




(8) Marathi   




(9) Oriya




(10) Punjabi    




(11) Sanskrit   




(12) Sindhi




(13) Tamil




(14) Telugu




(15) Urdu




Source.—Social and Cultural Tables, Part Il-C (ii) Series, 11, Census of India, 1971.



Hinduism as it is expressed through the religious practices of the people in Greater Bombay shows various phases of religious thought. In the upper strata of the Hindus, there are the followers of the Vedic observances who call themselves Apastambas and Rigvedis among the Brahmans who have come to Bombay in pursuit of jobs or business from the various districts of Maharashtra. These are generally smartas i.e. followers of Shankaracharya, the apostle of the doctrine that the soul and the universe are one—the Advaita doctrine. There are also the Bhagavatas, followers of the Bhagavata Purana who hold the doctrine that the soul and the universe are distinct. There are some Yajurvedi Brahmans also who follow the Madhyandin branch of Yajurveda. Other higher caste Hindus like the Pathare and Kayastha Prabhu, Sonars or Daivadnya Brahmans and the Chowkalshis and Panchkalshis follow one or other of these Brahman castes. Brahmans from Gujarat and Marwad also belong to some branch of the Rigveda, Yajurveda or Atharwaveda. Hindus and especially Brahmans who have come to Bombay from Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, U. P. Punjab or Bengal are also Advaitis or Dvaitis according to family tradition, and profess to belong to some branch of some Veda or other. But in the case of all it is apocryphal because almost nobody knows anything about the Vedas or the philosophies.



A section of the Hindu population belong to the Lingayata sect and they have mostly come from Karnataka. The group is not racial but sectarian. It was the essence of the original faith that any one might embrace it and become a Lingayata. The sect was founded in the twelfth century by Basava, a resident of Kalyan in Karnataka. A Lingayata is required to wear on his body a small silver box containing a stone, phallus, which is a symbol of his faith and the loss of which is equivalent to spiritual death. The emblem is worn by both sexes. Of the Brahmanic trinity— Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, they acknowledge only Shiva, whose emblem, the linga, they bear on person. As a doctrine of their sectarian faith, the Lingayatas are not to observe any caste distinction, all wearers of the linga being proclaimed in the eyes of God. This was a vital departure from the doctrine of orthodox Hinduism which recognises the Varnas in practice. The belief in rebirth and consequently the doctrine of Karma was also given up by the Lingayatas. Other important innovations were: prohibition of child marriage; removal of the restrictions on widows marrying again; burial instead of cremation of the dead and abolition of the chief Hindu rites for the removal of ceremonial impurity. It has been asserted that the true test of a Lingayata is the right to receive the full ashtavarna which consists of eight rites known as: (1) Guru, (2) Linga, (3) Vibhuti, (4) Rudraksha, (5) Mantra, (6) Jangam, (7) Tirtha and (8) Prasada. As a result of their doctrinal faith, we see that Lingayatas, both men and women mark their brows with sacred ashes and carry linga. They neither eat flesh nor drink liquor. They do not allow strangers to see their food or the sun to shine over their drinking water. They are very careful to see that no scraps of meal are left unclean. They have no images in their houses. If they pass by any Hindu temple, they bow to the image believing it to be Mahadeo. In the same way, they bow before a mosque or a church believing that every object of worship is Shiva. They profess not to believe in sorcery, witchcraft, soothsaying or consulting oracles. Their religious ceremonies are conducted by Jangams, their priests.



The Jains in Greater Bombay have two main sections, the Jains hailing from Gujarat and those hailing from Maharashtra. They do not eat together or intermarry but of late they have started doing so. They take their name from being followers of the 24 Jains (Conquerors), the last two of whom were Parasnath and Mahavira. Parasnath is said to have worn only one garment while Mahavira who confined himself to severe auste­rities went robeless and had no vessel but his hands. The followers of Parasnath are called Shwetambaris (white-robed sect) and those of Mahavira are called Digambaris (sky-clad sect).

The Jains reject the Vedas which they pronounce to be apocryphal and corrupt and they oppose their own scriptures as angas to them. Great importance is attached to pilgrimages and the Chaturmas (four months of the year) which are given to fasting, reading of the sacred books and meditation. They attach no religious importance to caste, admit no creator and have two classes; Yatis (ascetics) and Shravakas (hearers). According to them, the world is eterral and they deny that anything can have been always perfect. The Jin became perfect but he was not perfect at first. They worship under different names twenty-four lords, each with his sign and his attendant goddess or Shasanadevi. Jains are strict vege­tarians, do not use animal food on pain of loss of caste. Every Jain filters the water he uses in drinking or cooking for fear of killing insect life. He also takes his food before sunset, so that he may not destroy any animal life unawares by eating in the dark. Jains in Bombay traditionally pay respect to other Hindu gods, besides their own. Ahimsa paramo dharmah is their slogan.



Whatever their philosophical beliefs may be, all Hindus, in practice are idol-worshippers and adorers of various deities, personification of natural phenomena. This is true of Hindus in Greater Bombay also. In the religious practices of the higher class Hindus, Devayajnya is replaced by Devapuja i.e. sacrificial observances by daily worship. The former are now-a-days reserved for special occasions of the various samskaras (sacraments). Images of various deities are worshipped daily at home and in temples and on special festive occasions.

In the house of a devout Hindu will be found a godroom or a specially assigned nitch in the wall in which is kept a devhara (a handy shrine made of wood or metal) or a chouranga (wooden stool) to accommodate the house gods. These are small images of gold, silver, brass, copper and stone usually of Ganapati, Mahadeo, Vishnu, Durga, Surya as also a conch and a small bell. An elaborate and complete form of devapuja (image-worship) as prescribed by various religious digests on the subject usually consists of sixteen upacharas (ways of service). They are avahana (invocation), asana, padya, arghya, achamana, snana, vastra, yajnopavita, anulepana, pushpa, dhoopa and naivedya. These are the acts of making various offerings such as a seat, water to wash the feet, oblations, water to drink, bath, clothing, sacred thread, anointment, flowers, incense and food. This is followed by a namaskara (bow), pradakshina (going round from left to right) as a mark of respect, and visarjana ceremonial emersion of the deity.

In observing the upacharas the worshipper has to follow a number of. intricate rules. For instance, he must not sit on a seat of mode of bamboo or stone or on bare ground, but he should sit on a woollen blanket or silken garment or deerskin.The bathing of images is done with milk,curds, clarified butter, honey and sugar (i.e. panchamritd) in the prescribed order, followed by pure water. The water used in bathing the images of gods is regarded as very sacred and it is used for sipping (achamana) by the worshipper and members of his family and friends. It is called tirtha in a dignified manner. It may also be sprinkled on the worshipper's head. The flowers to be used for worshipping the images differ according to the deity. Vishnu is pleased by an offering of jasmine flowers, basil leaves, while arka flowers and bilva leaves are liked by Shiva. Ganapati likes red flowers and so on. The flowers offered on a day are removed the next day by a worshipper when he is about to go through the performance next day. Such flowers are called nirmalya and great merit is attached to placing such flowers on one's head by way of homage to the deity wor­shipped. Only the flowers offered to Shiva are not to be used in this way, according to tradition. Lamps are to be fed by ghee or til oil. Camphor is burnt before the images. For naivedya nothing must be offered that is declared unfit for eating in the shastras.

Ganapatipujana : This consists of inviting the presence of the elephant headed god, Ganapati on an areca-nut placed in a handful of rice in a leaf cup or a metal cup and offering worship to the deity. This symbolic worship is observed at the inception of any auspicious religious act with a prayer to the deity to ward off obstacles. All over Greater Bombay, there are a number of temples dedicated to Ganapati, but perhaps most prominent and crowded are those of Siddhivinayaka at Prabhadevi, and the Ganesh temple at Pfaadke Wadi, Vithalbhai Patel Road in Gii gaum. In Maharashtra, eight temples of Ganesh and the one at Pule in Ratnagiri district are well-known where pilgrimages are frequently held. The eight temples are at Morgaon near Jejuri, Siddhatek about 30 miles from Daund, Madh about four miles from Khopoli, Pali in Raigad district, Theur about 12 miles from Pune, Lenyadri about three miles from Junnar, Ranjangaon, 30 miles from Pune and Ozar near Narayangaon in Pune district. Many of the Hindus in Bombay visit the eight temples of Ganapati. The shrines in these temples are believed to be self-born (swayambhu) and are called ashtavinayakas. Hundreds and thousands of Bombayites frequently pay their respects to the Siddhivinayaka Mahaganapati temple at Titwala, 38 miles from Bombay V.T.

Rama and Krishna : Temples dedicated to the 7th and 8th incarnations of Vishnu, namely Rama and Krishna are numerous. The Rama temple generally has three idols, viz. those of Rama, Lafohmana and Seeta and that of Maruti in front as the fourth. Krishna's temples are generally those of Lakshmi-Narayan, Vithoba-Rakhumai or Muralidhara. Viththal temples are quite numerous the chief among them being at Wadala, Shiva temples are also many. Worship of Dattatreya i.e. the Hindu trinity is not rare. Reading of Gurucharitra i.e. the story of Datta and observance of Thursday as a fasting day in his honour is followed as a cult. Datta temples are particularly believed to have special powers of searing or exorcising spirits and ghosts.

Congregational Prayers : Occasions for Hindus to meet in religious gathering and offer congregational prayers occur many times in a year. The ten-day celebration of Ganesh festival is one such. It is celebrated with great pomp, fan-fare and festivities. The public celebrations at Lalbaug, Parel, Dadar and Girgaum are on a grand scale. The anniversaries of different deities, religious fairs, sacred days like Ekadashi and Shivaratri, holidays like Vijaya Dashami and Makar Samkrant are such occasions. For women who are Suvasinis the worship of Mangalagauri and Mahalakshmi, Haladikunku ceremonies are special occasions to meet in religious gatherings. The Satyanarayan puja has of late, become a popular form of congregational worship. It is in its origin a thanksgiving service held in honour of Satyanaiayana in fulfilment of a vow made by the worshipper. But it is celebrated on a community scale by pub;ic contributions also. People gather together to receive tirtha prasad and join in singing bhajans.

Purana, Katha Pravachana and Kirtana : The religious minded Hindu, particularly when he has taken the saguna devotion (idolatry) attaches great religious merit to the uttering and hearing of God's name or of his favourite deity and attending different kinds of religious expositions known as purana, kirtana, katha and pravachana delivered by professionals. These are specially trained people.

Puranik : The readers and reciters of sacred books are known as Puraniks. They read the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the Bhagavata in Sanskrit and expound it in the regional languages. They are sometimes engaged by a temple management or a rich person. At times, a Puranik is engaged by some one who has made a vow to certain holy books or it may happen that a puranik voluntarily offers to read and expound trusting that the listeners will remunerate him for his service. These readings take place either in the morning or in the afternoon or at night from eight o'clock to about midnight.

Before the reading begins, one of the chief listeners worships the Puranik, rubbing his brow with sandal-dust, throwing flowers over his head and flower garland around his neck and offering him some fruit or sweet­meats. Other listeners pay what they can in money or grain either before or after the reading. When the Puranik has been worshipped, he begins to read at times illustrating the verses by interesting, humorous or coarse tales to suit the taste of his audience. The Puraniks are often good rhymesters. They often enliven the mythological tales by applying them to local incidents and by humorous touches cause much merriment among his audience. A course of reading generally lasts from a fortnight to four months. During this period, the Puranikis asked to dine or is presented with uncooked food by different listeners on different days. When the course of reading is over some of the chief listeners join in giving the Puranik a substantial dinner, a head-dress, some clothes and money.

Pravachanas : The pravachanas are learned religious discourses delivered by shastris, well-versed in the knowledge of Hindu scriptures. A pravachankar need not be a professional lecturer or puranik. His topic for discourse may be a highly metaphysical one, and as such may interest only a learned audience. Because of its religious nature, a pravachana is usually delivered at a temple, the lecturer sitting on a low stool and there is no musical accompaniment.

Kirtana : A Kirtana is a musical discourse in which God and religion are described and expounded in prose and poetry. A Kirtankar is also known as Haridas or Haradas, a devotee of Vishnu or Shiva. Of the nine forms of Bhakti (devotion), Kirtana is one, and the objective of a Kirtankar is to express his devotion to God, sing his praise and at the same time lead his hearers to the path of faith, devotion and moral living.

Narada is the mythological personage who was a great kirtankar and who taught Dhruva and Pralhada this art. In Maharashtra, the tradition of kirtana is very old. Dnyaneshwar, Namadev and Bhanudas were the great early kirtankars. Ramadas and his disciples also performed kirtan but after Namadev, the credit of wide dissemination of the art of kirtan goes to the great Marathi Saint Tukaram.

Two schools of Kirtana are generally followed at present, the Narada and the Varkari. In the Narada type of kirtana, the preacher chooses as his text a Sanskrit verse from the sacred books or a song of a poet saint, makes out a philosophical theme of it in the purvaranga or first part and follows it up in the uttararanga or second part, expounding the principle by an illustration, usually a story. In the Varkari type of kirtana, the distinction of purvaranga and uttararanga is not observed. There is no continuous story. The preacher quotes themes by way of reciting abhanga rhymes and songs of famous poet-saints, one after another and immediately expounds them with illustrations and commentary. Off and on he pauses and starts a bhajan in which his accompanists and even the audience join. A kirtan is usually performed in a temple, or other places of worship. When a few people have gathered, the preacher stands up holding in his hands a chipli (cymbal) and a vina (lute). He is accompanied by tabla or mridanga (drum) and harmonium players and one or two of his disciples who play the accompanists, pick up the refrain and follow up his singing. When the purvaranga is over, the preacher who rests awhile is garlanded, abir-bucca (scented powders) are applied to his forehead and his disciples sing a song or two. For the general audience the real inetrest in the kirtana mounts up in the uttararanga (second part) wherein the preacher shows his skill in keeping his audience interested and alert, bringing in a story about some local event, and he is not afraid of cutting jokes and invoking laughter so long as it helps to prevent mental drowsiness in the audience with short breaks of music. A kirtana lasts for two to three hours, at the end of which the preacher cleverly connects the purvaranga with the uttararanga. Quite often the Haridas is well-versed in Hindustani and Karnatak music and among his audience, people are not wanting who are more interested in his musical perfor­mance. At the close of the kirtana, most of the audience embrace the preacher, touch his feet and pay iheir contributions by placing coins in the arati (a tray with burning camphor). Some modern kirtankars among whom are to be found a number of women also follow current events with intelligence and in the course of their discourses allude to them in their comments on the verses from religious and devotional woiks. They often select a story from recent history for the uttararanga. The Haridas preachers have undoubtedly contributed to much mass education and cultural uplift of the masses.



The Varkari Sampradaya (Cult) is a socio-religious movement of a standing of centuries, and derives its title from the two words Vari and Kari, meaning, a visit to, and, who undertakes it, respectively. A Varkari has to commit himself to the vow to visit every year the sacred city of Pandharpur in Sholapur district on the Ekadashis in the bright halves of Ashadha and Kartika. He has also to visit the temple of Alandi near Pune on the Ekadashis of the dark halves of these two months.

The cult adopts and preaches the principle of universal brotherhood and yet it keeps within the bounds of Vedic religion. Saints from all sections of the Hindu social hierarchy are known to have been staunch followers and great preachers of the cult which now pervades the whole of Western Maharashtra, Vidarbha, Marathwada and parts of Karnataka too. When exactly the cult came into existence and who was its first sponsor, it is difficult to determine. It will perhaps be more correct to say that it has evolved itself as a devotional movement. The deity that is universally worshipped by the Varkaris is Vithoba or Viththal of Pandharpur. Even the Shankaracharya has composed Sanskrit verses to pay homage to the deity. The known tradition of the sect runs through Vitbthalpant (father of Dnyaneshwar), Namadev, Bhanudas, Eknathr Tukaram, Chokhamela, Janabai and Narhari Sonar, all saints of great reputation for piety and devotion. They made it a mission of their lives to inculcate the importance oibhakti in the minds of the masses through the vehicle of kirtana and kathas (religious discourses). After Tukaram, the prestige of the cult is being maintained by the Varkari saints who belong to one of the two persuasions known as Vaskars and Dehukars.

To get himself initiated in this sect, the intending Varkari approaches another experienced Varkari of his choice and puts before him a copy of theDnyaneshwari (Dnyaneshwar's commentary onthe Bhagawadgeeta) and places on it a rosary (string of 108 beads made of dry wood of the tulasi plant) and worships them. The guru, the selected Varkari, administers the oath and the vows which the intending Varkari accepts as binding on him. Then the Guru has to pick up the rosary and put it on his neck while the other assembled Varkaris pronounce Pundalika Varade Hari Viththal No fees are paid to the guru for this; only sweets 'are distributed to all by the new entrant in the cult, which conjoins very stringent vows which are to be practised by every Varkari. He must observe satya (truthfulness), ahimsa (harmlessness), chastity and perfect temperance. A Varkari has to bear on his body twelve mudras (sacred marks) in gopichandana (white earth) and carry with him when on pilgrimage a pataka, flag of light scarlet colour and a pair of cymbals. He must daily woxship the tulasi plant and recite the hymns known as Haripatha. He has to be perfectly tolerant respecting other's deities and actions also.

The Prarthana Samaj in Bombay found much to appreciate and follow in the Varkari cult which the leaders of the Samaj called Bhagkwat Dharma. Men like Ranade, Bhandarkar and Chandavarkar always selected some text from Tukaram, Eknath or Namadev for their Sunday sermons andprayers at the Prarthana Samaj Mandirs in Pune and Bombay.



In the scheme of life of a modern, educated Hindu rites and rituals have no place, unless current law makes it obligatory. Generally speaking he is a God fearing, benevolently inclined human being, tolerant and patient. There are others who are sceptics and even atheists, but that is true only so far as their intellectual leanings are concerned. In practice all are alike. The teachings of Theosophy under the leadership and influence of the late Dr. Mrs. Annie Besant made many Hindus, Gujaratis and Marathas, and even Parsees a tolerant set of people, respecting all religions, their founders and saintly persons from anywhere. The general mass of people is tradition-bound. But in spite of all this, strangely enough, the religious faith of the working class population that has gathered in Bombay in search of jobs from every nook and corner of the country, is a curious mixture of animism and tenets of Hinduism. They follow the Hindu law of inheritance and call themselves Hindus. They will not be able to say whether they are smartas or Bhagawatas. They worship in all temples but their chief objects of blind faith will be Bhairav, Biroba, Jakhai, Janai, Jokhai, Kalkai, Khandoba, Vetal, Mhasoba, Satvai, Vaghoba and such others. They have brought faith in these demi-gods from their native places and it persists.

Even among the so-called high caste or high class Hindus belief in incantations, witchcraft, ghosts, evil spirits, oracles and the evil eye is not altogether absent. If a person is seized with uncommon sickness or suffers from some unexpected calamity it is customary to trace the occurrence to natural causes, displeasure of gods, witchcraft or the evil eye or even an evil spirit. To find out the cause several experiments are made. A flower is stuck to the breast of an idol and its fall on one side or the other determines the cause of the misfortune, if the cause is the evil eye, the mother of the sick child throws salt and red chillis into the fire muttering drishta mishta aligelichi, Bhut-khet papichandalachi. The evil eye is very much fear ad by women Belief in ghosts is also shared by many even in a city like Bombay, where there are few big trees for the ghosts to reside. Male ghosts are called Khavisas or jhotingas. The female ghosts are called jakhins or hadals. Some of these are believed to make their homes in watei and they carry away handsome youths by drowning them while enjoying a swim. There are distinct names for the ghosts of Brahmans, Musalmans and out-castes. A ghost wanders and attacks a living person either because, he was murdered or ill treated or because he hankers after a house, a wife or a treasure. Ghosts are said to live in large trees, lonely places, empty houses, and old wells. They are generally seen or heard at midnight. They take any shape at will. If a person sleeps under a haunted tree or even a branch thereof or defiles the ghost's ruin or old well the person is believed to be seized. The ghosts of the murdered persons are chiefly dangerous to those who murdered them. The ghost takes possession of the culprit, maddens him, destroys his sleep, kills his family and makes him miserable in every way. Many people make a living by appeasing or exorcising these angry spirits. They have their peculiar technique and art and some people do have faith in all this. Such people are not rare in Grreater Bombay and all this is part of their religion and god-fearing nature.



Muslims form a fair proportion of the population of Greater Bombay as the Census figures of 1971 amply show. They believe in only one God and one Prophet Mohamed and their only religious book is the Koran. Known as followers of Islam in a general way, in practice, there are number of distinctions made between Muslims and Muslims according as the original territory they come from and the language they speak at home. A number of group appellations signifying community of origin, social status and occupational traditions are current among the people and they are used as surnames. There are about fifty trades, callings and professions which they have followed in times gone by and follow even now. Generally the groups among Muslims are classified as (1) Sayyids, (2) Shaikhs, (3) Mughals and (4) Pathans.

These groups follow various professions and have formed a kind of community of their own such as Attars (perfumers), Manyars (bracelet-sellers), Tambats or Misgars (utensils makers), Barudgars (fireworks-makers), Kalaigars (tin-smiths), Patvegars (silk tasset-twisters), Shikalgars (armourers). Most of these groups are Sunni Muslims of the Hanafi school and religious minded. They generally marry among themselves or with any of the regular Muslim communities and do not follow Un-Islamic customs. Besides these, there are Memons, Bohras and Khojas who have originally come from Cutch-Kathiawad and others from Gujarat districts. They are Shias and each one of them have their community organisations and social codes of conduct. There are also the Tambolis who usually trade in betel-leaves and keep pan-shops. These groups too generally marry among themselves though there is no impediment of a religious character for mixed marriages.

Food : What the Muslims in Greater Bombay eat differs according to their means and native customs. Rich and well-to-do Memons, Bohras, Khojas and others usually take tea or coffee in the morning with bread and butter and eggs. They have generally two meals a day; lunch at about 12 noon or 1 p.m. and dinner at about 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. They also take tea at about 4 or 5 in the afternoon. They are usually engaged in trade and business and most of them are shopkeepers. Their staple food is wheat, rice and pulses eaten with fish or mutton and occasionally fowl. In the case of poor people, dry fish is a substitute for fresh fish and mutton. For an occasion like the Bakri-Id festival, almost every Muslim manages to procure mutton. Bombay Muslims prefer mutton to beef and pork is of course prohibited on religious ground. When public dinners are held on weddings or other festive occasions, biryani constitutes as a delicacy. It is a dish of rice, mutton, saffron, ghee and spices. Another dish is zarda which is sweet and made of rice, sugar, saffron, almonds, pistachio, nuts and ghee. This is the same as the sakharbhat or kesharibhat of the Hindus. Poorer sections of the Muslims will hold public dinners when khushk halva and pulav will be served. Pulav is made of rice, ghee and mutton. Such dinners are given on occasions of birth, circumcision, initiation, marriages and also on the fortieth day of a death. Men and women do not dine together. Women are served after the men have finished. In the dining hall mats and carpets are spread for guests and on the carpets large sheets of cloth called dastavkhwans are spread in order that the carpets may not be spoiled. At dinner the guests sit in two rows facing each other. A man with an aftaba (water jug) and a chilamdri (basin) comes in and beginning with most aged, most respectable or most learned man pours water over the hand of the guests. The seating arrangements in public dinners are generally without any distinction of caste or creed or status. Several young friends of the host stand between the rows of guests and pass the dishes. When all dishes are served, the host says Bismillah i.e., 'Please begin in the name of Allah' and the guests begin to eat, a group of more than two eating from the same dish. While they dine, a boy or two stand with water pots or glasses ready for serving water to any one who wants it. When the dinner is over the dastavkhwans are neatly rolled and removed and water is poured on the hands of each guest and a tray of pansupari (betel-leaves and other accompaniments or readymade eatable pan) is passed around. The women take their dinner in the same way as men but wait for sometime after the dinner is over. Muslims of higher status and those who have come under the influence of western customs and manners dine at tables and sit on chairs for that purpose. They eat also from separate dishes. Fruits, sweets and some western dishes are also served. Wines and liquors are not altogether absent, but since the Koran has condemned intoxicating beverages, they are generally not served, at least publicly. But at small parties where only intimate friends are invited, service of wines is not uncommon. Tobacco is smoked by many, some chew it also. Snuff too is not quite uncommon.

Dress : Bombay Muslims are generally well-dressed, the turban, the fez, the Kashmiri cap or a head-scarf will necessarily be found on the head of a Muslim, but among the younger poeple now-a-days, the head-wear is disappearing. But till lately, a shirt, a waist-coat and a sherwani in different styles used to cover the body of every Muslim when he was outdoors. The transformation of fashions in dress, from the Moghul and the Persian patterns to the Western styles is almost complete in the younger generation. However, some of the older patterns still persist. At the time of prayer, a Muslim may wear a lungi (loin-cloth) reaching down to the ankles and a long shirt. The sherwani and pyjama, a pair of loose trousers and Salwar (loose trousers worn by Punjabis and Peshawaris) have an imprint of traditional wear. Chunidar pyjamas, tight fitting trousers in the Uttar Pradesh style are also worn by some. Head­gears known as safa or pheta are worn on ceremonial occasions. The sapha of the Bohras and Cutchis and Khojas, has a gold embroidery running on one side of the cloth and is exhibited at every round. A skull­cap and a made-up turban is also worn by them. Among Muslim women, there are those who use pyjama and shirt and others who wear saris and blouses. Muslim women generally cover their head with one end of the sari and wear a veil called burqua whenever they go out in public. Blouses are more in vogue than cholis. The Memon and Bohra women wear long pairhans and izars (trousers) and odhani (a loose and thin cloth particularly covering the head and falling on the shoulders up to the waist). The material used for these is expensive and often silk with silver embroidery is used. Almost all Muslim brides receive ornaments and clothing at the time of their marriage. The rich give to their daughters, ornaments of gold and precious stones which consist of earrings, bangles, necklaces, bracelets and rings. These ornaments are of modern designs and are made to order or purchased readymade. The poor Muslims give silver ornaments which often consist of todas closely united chain ornaments worn on the ankles, pazeb, another ornament work round the ankles and jahanj, large silver rings loosely worn below the ankles. Sometimes, thusi, a necklace of gold, is given as a mark of better social status. Men usually do not wear any ornaments except marriage or engagement ring of gold or silver.

Birth : After the birth of a male or female child, the father or any male Muslim present there, recites the azam, the prayer call in Arabic, in the ears of the child, the idea being that the first sound that should enter the child's ears must be that of prayer to Allah. For the first three days, the child is given honey and the mother is given wheat gruel prepared in pure ghee. On the sixth day called chhatti the mother and the child are given a full bath, dressed in clean clothes, a dinner as a mark of thanksgiving is also given and alms distributed. The name of the child is also declared on the sixth day. Usually, the name is given on the very first day to the newly born. For forty days, the mother abstains from regular daily prayers, but after forty days, she starts her usual routine after a bath with water in which neem tree leaves are put. Most Muslims teach their children the Koran before the age of ten either by engaging a tutor at home or sending them to a nearby mosque, where the old institution of maqtab, school, exists. There are a number of such maqtabs in Greater Bombay which are maintained from the collection of contributions from the Muslims. Sometimes, the kalmas, five funda­mental teachings of Islam are taught at home by the parents themselves. All Muslims are careful about circumcising their male children before they are seven or eight years old. They also perform the Bismillah cere­mony at the age of five in which the eldest member of the family or the learned among those present makes the child, male or female, recite certain verses from the Koran, generally the first five believed to have been revealed to Prophet Muhammad and after this ceremony either sweets are distributed or a public dinner is given. Poor Muslims distribute only dates on this occasion. This ceremony is supposed to mark the beginning of the educational career of a child, very much akin to the vratabandha or thread ceremony of the Hindus.

Marraige : Muslims have no objection to marriage between cousin both parallel and cross, the marriage between first cousins being preferred, but a sister's daughter is under the incest taboo. Polygamy and widow marriages are quite current, though not on a large scale. A widow can marry her deceased husband's brother or relative and similarly a widower women can marry his deceased wife's sister or relative. There is no objection to divorce though it is regarded as a necessary evil and it is resorted to as a last recourse. The offer of a marriage usually comes from the bride­grooms parent. Any courtship before marriage is totally unknown among Muslims, though sometimes a casual view of the bride from a distance may be connived at. Two male witnesses must bear testimony to the celebration of the marriage. The testimony is considered essential. These witnesses directly approach the bride and after repeating the name of the bridegroom and his age ask her whether she is willing to accept him in marriage or not. After hearing personally what the bride has to say, they declare her intention to the public and the marriage is then registered in a special marriage register or the marriage sermon is recited. It is called khutba-e-nikka. The bride's father or vali, the lawful guardian gives away the bride to the bridegroom in marriage. After the marriage ceremony is over, the father-in-law and son-in-law embrace each other and dates or sweets are distributed with cold sweet drinks. A musical entertainment by quawwals (a band of male singers who generally recite verses in Urdu) generally follows. Immediately after the bridegroom leads the bride to his home, the jalwa ceremony is performed. This ceremony acquaints them with each other. They are made to see each other's face in the mirror or to read the Koran together the next day, a dinner is given to the public or near relatives by the bride's father. The custom of inviting friends and relatives for the first five Fridays after marriage still prevails, although there is no religious compulsion in this matter. Muslims do not observe any special ceremony when the girl attains puberty. But at the end of the seventh month of pregnancy, the couple is made to sit together and women-folk sing songs and make merry for a few hours.

Death : When a Muslim is about to breath his last, the Sura-e-Yasin from the Koran is recited in a low voice near the dying man. Kalma or the religious formula, La-ilah-il lallah, Muhammad ur-Rasul- illah is repeated so that the dying man may also repeat it. Drops of honey or water are dropped in his mouth. As soon as life is extinct, the eyes and the mouth are carefully closed and arrangements for the funeral are made without delay. As a rule the burial is not unnecessarily put off. The body of a male is bathed by males and that of a female by females and kafan i.e. an unstitched garment consisting of kafni and a loin cloth is put on the dead body. In the case of a woman, an odhani (scarf) is added to the kafan. Camphor, rose or sandal scent is sprinkled over the kafan. The body is then placed on a bier called janaza (a cot-like wooden structure), always kept in every mosque in the city. The mother generally says, " I withdraw all the claims upon you as a nurse " and if desired the wife and others also withdraw their claims. Then amidst the waiting of the , the janaza is taken on the shoulders of the men who repeat the kalma as they walk and change their shoulders until they reach a mosque where the last prayers on the dead body are offered by keeping the janaza in front, all standing without prostrating. If the body is carried directly to the graveyard the last prayers are offered in the open near the graveyard. At the burial ground the grave is dug and kept ready before the body arrives. The grave is dug in north-south direction and the head is tilted a little to the west so as to face Mecca. After the grave is closed, the learned among the present usually the pesh imam recites portions from the Koran and all present pray for the peace of the soul of the dead person. A pesh imam is a learned man appointed in the mosque to lead the prayers. He is paid out of public contributions. Generally, if the graveyard is not far from the house of the deceased, the mourners come back and console the family members of the deceased and offer departing prayers by reciting portions of the Koran and withdraw. Although not religiously prescribed, a custom of ziyarat on the third day after the death takes place in which relatives and friends sit at home or in a mosque and read the Koran. After the recitation, an offering of flowers and scent is carried to the grave. The custom of observing the tenth and fortieth day by giving a dinner to the relatives, friends and the poor is fast getting out of vogue. Once in a year, on a particular day, the Muslims offer prayers, distribute alms to the poor and feed the orphans in the name of the dead person. They also visit the graveyard on that day. No distinction is made between one Muslim and another either in the mosque or at the burial ground. The recitation of prayers at marriage and funeral ceremonies is conducted by any Muslim without any kind of distinction of caste, creed or status. But, often the pesh imam, conducts the ceremonies. Where kazis are available, they conduct the marriage ceremonies. Very few people attend the mosque five times a day, but most Muslims attend the Friday prayers as well as Ramzan and Bakri-Id prayers. The institutions of state Kazis, Khatibs i.e. sermon deliverers, and Pirzadas i.e. keepers of shrines are fast dying out.



Christians in Greater Bombay include mainly the East Indians i.e., descendants of the converted Hindus and Muslims from Salsette and Vasai. Bombay, Bandra, Kurla, Thane and Vasai were once Portuguese possessions and during that rule, many embraced Christianity either willingly or because they were forced to do so on one pretext or another by their Portuguese overlords. Their ranks have also been reinforced by immigrants from Goa. Thus together they constitute the Roman Catholic Christian community and owe allegiance to the Pope in the Vatican. Among the Christians are also a considerable number of Protestants who   are  comparatively  recent converts   and yielded to the blandishments of Protestant missionaries of various schools and cults under the British regime. Christians also include a number of Anglo-Indians and Eurasians.

Indian Christians in Greater Bombay are a considerably educated and cultured community following the liberal professions as well as other callings which are humble enough like cooks, tailors, carpenters, nurses, etc. But they also boast of a number of eminent lawyers, physicians and surgeons, engineers, highly placed Government servants, teachers in schools and colleges and priests. They are also musicians, but very few among them may be in business. The Christians have a happy blend of oriental and occidental culture, with perhaps a greater leaning towards the west. The men generally dress after the western style. The women of higher and lower classes stick to the sari in various styles. Their food is cooked in the Indian way, i.e., highly spiced rice forming the staple cereal. The better off follow western table manners and have similarly adopted many forms of western social life.

The Catholics have their religious rites and ceremonies regulated by the canon and liturgical laws of Roman Catholics all the world over. But for actual government administration, they are under the jurisdic­tion of the Patriarch of Goa who appoints their pastors. They have a number of Churches all over Greater Bombay. The sermons and non-liturgical services are mostly in Marathi and Konkani. The Protestant Christians also are mainly descendants of the converts from Ahmadnagar district and conform to many of their traditional ways and practices of Hindu origin. Thus they have retained their Hindu names and surnames and dress as also their ancestral language viz., Marathi. They have among them many highly educated and well placed people, but the poorer are employed as ordinary labourers or artisans and are scarcely distinguish­able from their Hindu counterparts. A middle class is however rising up which is getting more and more westernized in every way, only the women still refuse to give up the sari.

Various Christian missions, whether Catholic or Protestant have rendered great services to the cause of education and health having run a number of schools, colleges, hospitals, orphanages, poor-houses all over Greater Bombay. They are not necessarily confined to Christians only, though some preference is shown in the matter of benefits to those who are Christians.



Bene Israels i.e. children of Israel, are also known as Jews, and because the ancestors of those who are now in Greater Bombay used to press oilseeds and produce oil and kept Saturday as a holiday, they were formerly called Shanwar Telis. Hardly any member of this community now follows the avocation of oil-pressing. Their origin is doubtful but they came to India from Yemen or from the Persian Gulf. There is no certainty about the date of their arrival, but probably they did so about sixteen hundred years ago. They appear to have landed on the coast of Rayagad district and spread from there to various parts of India. They belong to two endogamous divisions, white and black. According to their story, the white are the descendants of the original immigrants and the black of converts or of the women of this country. The names in common use among them are Abraham, Benjamin, David, Moses, Solomon and Samuel and among the women Leah, Mariam, Rebeca, Rahel etc. The. surnames are village names marking their former settlements e.g., Divekar, Navgaonkar, Thalkar, Kihimkar, Rohekar, Ashtamkar. Ziradkar etc., all from Rayagad. They look more or less like Indians and their complexion is similar to those of natives of Maharashtra and Konkan, but quite many among them are fair especially women, their home language is corrupt Marathi. They say their prayers in Hebrew which many read fluently but few understand. They have some of their men and women in the liberal professions but most educated men and women are clerks. Others are workers.
Bene Israels worship one God and use no idols or images. They have never attempted any conversion of others. Of late many have left the country and settled in Israel. They meet for their congregation in a synagogue which is a building, surrounded by an enclosure inside, it is a square room with windows to the right and left and in front in the westwall is the arch, a cupboard like frame in which are kept the manuscripts of the laws of Moses written on parchment. The minister stands facing the arch in the centre of the synagogue saying prayers and the congregation join in, seated on benches and chairs.

Apart from the staple food usually eaten in the country, the Bene-Israels eat the flesh of animals, fowl and fish as admissible under the levitical law. The community follows a number of ritualistic observances chiefly concerned with such important life incidents as birth, circumcision, marriage and death. There are also occasions for feast. On the eighth day after the birth of a child (male) whether or not it is sabbath, the child is circumcised by the minister or an operator in the synagogue. The wound is dressed and the child is blessed by the minister and called by a new name chosen from the Old Testament. If the child dies before it is circumcised, the operation is performed after death, but no prayers are offered. There are also ceremonies connected with cradling, purification of the mother on the fortieth day after the birth of a male child or the eightieth day after the birth of a female child shaving and ear boring.

Marriage : The offer of marriage generally comes from the boy's side. For the engagement ceremony both the parties with their guests meet by arrangement at the bride's house and rings are exchanged. The marriage is celebrated on some subsequent Sunday. Presents called basis are taken to the bride's house and exhibited before the bride and her relations. The bridegroom is taken, to the accompaniment of songs, into the synagogue and asked to stand, face ro face to the girl. The minister recites Hebrew texts and the bridegroom, standing in front of the bride, with a silver cup in his hand containing a silver ring and grape juice, looks towards the guests and says, " With your leave I perform the ceremony." The guests say, "with God's leave". The bridegroom goes on, "And with our elders leave, do I perform this ceremony." The guests say, " And for his infinite mercy." The bridegroom says, " May joy increase among the children of Israel." The guests again say, " With God's leave." The bridegroom says, " Praise be to the Lord for His goodness to us." The guests say, " And may it spread in Jerusalem." The bride­groom, after a short prayer, looks towards the girl, calls her by her name and says, " You have been betrothed and married to me by this cup whose wine you shall drink; by the silver in the cup and by all that belongs to me, I wed thee before these witnesses and priest, in accordance with the laws of Moses and of the Israelites ". He then drinks half the wine and says twice over, " By this you are being wed to me " and then bending, pours the rest of wine, not leaving a single drop in the glass, into the bride's right hand and pushing the ring over the tip of her first finger says: " See! you are married to me by this ring according to the law of Moses and the Israelites." After this is repeated three times, he takes a glass tumbler with some wine in it, and a necklace of gold, puts the rest into her mouth, dashes the glass to pieces on the floor. Sometimes, the priest reads the ketuba (written covenant). Before reading the last sentence, he takes the fringes of the four corners of the bridegroom's sisid (veil) and says thrice over, " God commands that he who marriages shall feed his wife well, clothe her and perform the duty of marriage." All these the bridegroom promises to fulfil. Then the guests invoke a blessing, and the bride and the bridegroom sign the paper which sets forth the marriage covenant in the presence of two witnesses and the minister. The bridegroom then delivers the paper to the bride saying " Take this marriage covenant, henceforth all that belongs to me is yours." The minister then blesses the husband and the wife. Next comes the aher, giving of presents. They then proceed to the bride's house. Next day, they go to the bridegroom's house. The marriage covenant is generally rigidly observed. However, in case of violation of the contract, the innocent party is allowed a divorce and the liberty of marrying again.

Death : When a male member of the Bene Israel community passes away, the nearest kinsmen weep and wail, the widow breaks her bangles and necklace of gold. The body is covered with a white sheet and the great toes are tied, together with a thread. Arrangements are made to inform relatives and friends to collect funeral material and dig a grave. Grave clothes are prepared which for a male consist of trousers, two kafni, shirts, one short and one long, a cap, a dupeta (turban) a cloth to tie the hands, a cloth for the eyes, a towel, a loin cloth, mot (sheet) and a sisid i.e. shroud. A woman is dressed in the same way as a man but with a robe or sari in addition. The body is then rubbed with soap and washed twice in warm water. While the minister stands by seven jars of water are poured over it from the head to the feet and dashed on the ground. It is then wiped dry, dressed in the newly made grave clothes, the sisid (surplice) is drawn or a handkerchief and a sabja twig are placed in the right hand and then rotted in a broad sheet and the face left partly open for the mourners to take a last look. By the time the coffin is brought and washed, a white sheet is spread inside and is set in front of the door. The minister asks the mourners to forgive the deceased any faults he might have committed. They answer, they are forgiven. Flakes of cotton wool are laid on the eye lids and a handkerchief is laid over them. The face is covered with a sheet. After the minister has recited a funeral dirge, the body is carried out of the house by four or five men and laid in the coffin. A wooden frame is dropped over the coffin and on the frame a black cloth and flower garlands and sabja leaves are spread. Headed by the priest the deceased's four nearest relations lift the coffin on their shoulders and repeating Hebrew verses, walk to the funeral ground, helped at intervals by other mourners. Entering the graveyard they place the coffin near the grave. The body is lowered into the grave with head to the east, resting on a pillow filled with earth. If any one has dust from Jerusalem, a little of it is put either in the eyes or in the shroud or the pillow case. The mourners and the funeral party stand near and repeat sacred texts, throw a handful of earth into the grave and turn away. The diggers then fill the grave and when it is full, the funeral service is recited by the hazam or the kazi, followed by kaddish by the mourners. The close relatives and friends of the deceased go to the mourner's house and partake of some food. Near the cot where the deceased breathed his last, a mat is spread, and nearby are set a lighted lamp and an earthen pot filled with cold water. The women mourners sit, sleep and dine on the mat day and night for days together, feeding the lamp and keeping it alight. The first seven days are kept strictly as days of mourning. Every morning ten religious-minded men say prayers in the house of mourning. On the morning of the seventh day, the closest relations of the deceased go to the burial ground. The minister says prayers, the mourners say kaddish and go back to their homes. At the deceased house, Ziarat ceremony is held where the jikhir, i.e. David's Psalms are recited, the food blessed by the minister is shared among men and women. At the end of the first month, in the eleventh month and at the end of the 12th month, a ziarat ceremony is held before which the mourners and their relatives and friends visit the graveyard and say prayers for the dead.



(For details refer R.E. Enthoven's, The Tribes and Castes of Bombay, Vol. Ill 1922)

As a consequence of the fall of the Persian Empire in A.D. 641 at the hands of the Arabs who gave the fireworshipping followers of Zoroaster the two alternatives, the Koran or the Sword, a handfull of the subjects of the Persian Empire, ardent devotees of their faith, crossed the Ormaz and went to Diu in Kathiawar in A.D. 766 and at last sailed towards the West Coast of India and landed at Sanjan, in A.D. 785 then in possession of the Jadhav Rana of Sanjan. Several ships came this way and they brought all these refugees who spread to Navsari, Billimora and other places. The Parsees of today numbering a little over a lakh in India and 1,25,000 all over the world are the descendants of these handful of refugees from Iran. During the last 1300 years this infinitesimal minority which has freely joined the mainstream of Indian nationalism has left an enormous impress on the socio-economic make up of India.

Sir James Mackintosh, Recorder of Bombay from 1804 to 1811 says, " The Parsees are a small remnant of one of the mightiest nations of the world, who flying from persecution into India were, for many ages, cast in obscurity and poverty, till at last they met a just government under which they speedily rose to be one of the most popular mercantile bodies in Asia."

Thus we see that after the advent of the British in India, the dormant qualities that lay concealed in the Parsee bosom for several generations obtained free scope. Some indications of this may be cited here. It was a Parsee, Hirjee Readymoney who was the first from India to go to China in 1756 and build up trade connection between that country and this. It was a Parsee, Lowjee Wadia who built the first dockyard in Bombay in 1750 and thus accelerated foreign trade. It was again a Parsee, Dadabhoy Nosherwanjee who first opened a cotton screw in Bombay in 1776 and thereby gave a fillip to the textile industry in Western India. The pioneering Parsees of those days first spread the trade along the Malabar coast, afterwards extended it to China and England and almost all parts of the world and have produced within the last two centuries merchant princes like the Rustomjeas and Banajees, the Jamshetjees and the Camas, the Jejeebhoys and the Petits, the Meherjees and the Patels, the Adenwalas and the Tatas, all names that have elevated the Indian people to the dignity of a commercial nation.

As years rolled on, the Parsees made themselves indispensable to the English, who ever since their arrival in India, looked upon them for support and co-operation. The responsible post of Broker to the East India Company, for instance, was enjoyed by a Parsee who rendered signal services to the beleaguered inhabitants. About a decade earlier, when the English established a mint in Bombay, they were in need of a good coiner. They at once hit upon a Parsee, Ratanji of Surat. During the Anglo-French conflict in ths beginning of the 19th century, the Govern­ment of Bombay was in great financial difficulty. A Parsee, Pestonjee Bomanjee Wadia stood by them, helped them at a most critical period and was chiefly responsible for averting a serious crisis.

How the Parsees were pioneers in the domestic and social life in Bombay may also be indicated here. The honour of introducing gas light into India falls to the lot of a Parsee, Ardesar Kharsetji Wadia who for the first time lit his Mazagaon house with gas on February 20,1834. Similarly, the first private residence in Bombay to be installed with a special electric dynamo was that of his grandson, Naorosjee Wadia in 1897. Jamshetji Tata was the first to own an automobile in Bombay in the closing years of the last century. The first cotton textile mill in Bombay was started by Cowasji Nanabhai Davar which led the way to the greatness and prosperity of the city of Bombay. Jamshetji Tata was the founder of the first hydro-electric works and the first iron and steel works. The first printing press and a journal was also started by a Parsee. There are numerous charities of a communal and cosmopolitan character which are also due to the philanthrophy and generosity of several Parsees.

In comparison to their achievements their number in the population of India is astonishingly small. They were only 100,772 (According to the Parsee Panchayat the total population of Parsees in India in 1971 was 91,266. of which Bombay had 64,667.) according to the 1961 Census. Their percentage works out at about 0.02 per cent But as an outstanding community, the Parsees have excelled all others in almost every field of human activity—commerce, industry, agriculture, horticulture, education, politics, public life, social work, scientific achievements, charities etc. They are influential far beyond their numerical importance.

The Parsees are mainly concentrated in Maharashtra and even within Maharashtra, they are mainly confined to Greater Bombay. The proportion of the Parsee population of India residing in Maharashtra is 76.95 per cent, Greater Bombay alone accounting for as much as 69.53 per cent.In the city of Pune they are a little over 3000, in Thane 1100 and in Nasik 750. The only other State having a substantial population of Parsees is Gujarat accounting for 17.58 per cent of the Parsee popula­tion of India. In Gujarat, they are mainly agriculturists. The sex ratio of Parsees in Greater Bombay is 1,034 females per 1000 males.

Parsismor Zoroastrianism was founded by Zoroaster (properly Spitaman Zaratushtra) over 2500 years ago and is practised, more or less, in its original form. Zoroaster flourished in such ancient times that sometimes, it has been suggested that he was a mythical personage. The greater part of Zoroastrian scriptures are not in existence today. A large number was destroyed when Alexander the Great invaded and conquered Persia, and the rest by Arab Mussalmans. They are called Zendavesta.

Avesta means the holy text and Zend is its commentary. The language of the scripture is called Avesta which bears an intimate relationship with Sanskrit. Mazda means God. The religion preaches reverence to all the elements, the Sun and Fire, Water, Air and Earth. Fire is kept perpetually alive in many Parsee homes even today. It is enjoined on the Parsees that they must face the Sun or fire when they pray. Their code of ethics is Humata, Hakta and Huvanstha i.e. Good thoughts, Good words and Good deeds. Amongst these kindness to man and animal, liberality and charity are enjoined. Spreading education is highly commended. Miserliness is disapproved. Charity is recommended but it should not be indiscriminate. Public charity is more commendable than private charity.

The religion is primarily a dualism in which the principle is good. Ahur Mazda and the powers of evil and darkness Angre Mainyosh, are opposed in a struggle for cosmos and man. Today the Parsees interpret this dualism in terms of monotheism whereby Ahireman becomes only a creation or a junction of Ahur Mazda. In this struggle which Ahur Mazda would eventually win, man is called upon to fight on his own option actively on the side of the good. At a time when sacrifice and magical rites governed the relationship of man to Gods, Zaratushtra proclaimed that religion has its truth in its moral significance and not in external practices of imaginary value. Asceticism in any of its forms is inimical to life and is not allowed ; injurious creatures such as vermin and snakes are to be destroyed as the embodiment of evil. The contrast to Hinduism and Buddhism is clear in these principles. Herein may be traced the roots of the standard of life and economic ethics of the Parsees which is so much at variance from the environment they live in.

Venerated as revelation is the Holy Book of Avesta, a collection of hymns (Gathas, Yashts), rituals and provisions of the law (Yasna, Vendidat) and prayers (Khorda Avesta). This canon preserved only in fragments today is attributed to Zaratushtra according to tradition. Mediaeval Iranian literature in Pehlavi and correspondence between Indian and Iranian Parsees are of religious and historical interest.

Every child between the ages of seven and eleven must be invested with the Kusti and Sadra, visible symbols of the followers of Zoroaster. This is the Navjot sacrament. The Kusti is a sacred thread gird round the waist. Sadra is a shirt of white linen which must always be worn next to the skin. They are worn by both males and females. Use of coconut, vermilion mark on the forehead are borrowed from Hindus. The Kusti is a symbol of innocence. It is made from the wool of a sheep. Seventy-two threads are grouped into six parts. The coming of a child is enthusiastically welcomed in every Parsee family. In the seventh month of pregnancy, the pregnant girl receives a new dress from her mother-in-law and the agharni ceremony is held. Later she receives a similar new dress from her mother. Full rest is allowed to the mother after delivery.

Marriage : Marriage as ordained by Ahur Mazda must be celebrated in a splendid manner. Loose and flowing garments for the bride and the bridegroom are given. The grqom carries a shawl which is considered an emblem of greatness. Red pigment marks are made on the foreheads of both. The mark is supposed to be a ray of the Sun and the one on the forehead of the bride is a ray of the moon.. As the Sun and the moon are eternal helpmates, so have the husband and wife to be helpmates of each other till they live. The bride sits on the left side of the groom. There are two witnesses from either side, best-man and the bride-maid, but they are on the right side of the groom. All witnesses have to be married. The officiating priest blesses the couple in the following words, " May the Creator, the Omniscient Lord grant you progeny of sons and grandsons, heart-ravishing friendship, bodily strength, long life and an existence of 150 years." Marriage oaths are administered which record the free consent of both to be united in wedlock. A Sanskrit translation of the marriage prayer is recited by way of grateful reverence of the desire of the Raja of Sanjan. The prayer in ancient Persian is called Tandurusti prayer. This is a form of final benediction.

Funeral : When a Parsee dies, an elaborate but simple funeral ceremony follows. When on his or her death bed, a pated prayer of repentence is recited. The dead body is washed clean and clothed in white. Haoma water is placed in the mouth and the body is shown to a dog. The corpse bearers take the body to the Tower of Silence called Dokhma. It is placed in an iron bier called gehan. The largest portion of the rites serve to save man, earth, fire and water from being defiled by Ahriman and the demonic powers. All that is dead is taken to be impure and since neither the earth, nor fire, nor water should be defiled, the dead are cast to the vultures in the Tower of Silence.

Internal Organisation : Concerning the earlier epoch of the Parsees in India little information is available on the internal structure and organisation of the community. Since the Parsees in the civil sphere did not have at their disposal codified laws, matters in dispute such as those concerning inheritance, marriage, etc. were decided by respected priests and reference to and through interpretations of the rules of conduct laid down in Avesta. This practice came to an end in Bombay in 1673 with the setting of the Parsee Panchayat which consisted of five members belonging to the distinguished Parsee families in Bombay. Adopting Hindu traditions this institution set itself to two tasks:

  1. In future the civil disputes among Parsees would be decided by this body wherqby judgments, mostly fines and sanctions and in extreme cases ex-communication would be considered as irrevocable and respectfully accepted.
  2. Parsees coming to Bombay from the village communities would be helped by the Panchayat materially and socially.

As a rule the membership of the Panchayat ran hereditarily in rich families which gave to that institution the appearance of plutocracy. The clergy played in these times no prominent part in the Panchayat. It had the greatest authority in the second half of the 18th century which could be attributed essentially to the personal prestige of the members. In 1778, against the objections of the clergy, the Panchayat was confirmed and legitimised in its authority by the English. Since 1830, an increasing loss in the authority of the Panchayat could be observed. It lacked the courage to take strong action against the abuses in the community as well as to enforce its decision. In addition, since 1838, it was desired legitimacy by the Government to represent the community externally. With this the Panchayat became a corporation whose functions increasingly were reduced to that of administration of charities and foundations of general social services.

The decline of the Panchayat created a vacuum in the administration of justice for the elimination of which the Parsee Law Association was founded in 1855. In 1865, it succeeded in putting through the Legislative Council the enactment of the Parsee Marriage and Divorce Act of 1865 and the Parsee Succession Act which are in force even today. The Parsee Panchayat administers today over 1,000 foundations of crores of rupees.( For details see Chapter 18.)

Parsee leaders like Dadabhai Naoroji, Pherozeshah Mehta and Dinshaw Wacha realised that the future of the Parsees cannot be separated from fellow Indians. Accordingly they became prominent leaders in the Indian National Congress and in the civic life of the country, notably in Bombay.( Refer account of Public Life given in Chapter 18,)It is quite remarkable that the Indian members of the British Parlia­ment were Parsees viz. Dadabhai Naoroji (1892-1895), Muncherji Bhownagree (1895-1906) and Shapurji Saklatvala (1922-1929). What Sir Pherozeshah said in this connection may be cited here. " To ask the Parsees to isolate themselves and their interests from those of the other natives of this country is to preach something not only equally selfish but a great deal more shortsighted. In our case, it would be almost a suicidal policy. Its ultimate effect would be only to reduce us to insignificance. We are a power in this Presidency as a small but enlightened and enterprising portion of the natives of this country, and as such without common interests, common sympathies, and common co-operation, we might still remain an interesting community but of no account whatsoever in the great march of events moulding the lofty destinies of this magnificent land."



The major part of the customs of the Hindus consists of ritua­listic practices related to various religious ceremonies known as samskaras (sacraments). These ceremonies which principally consist of purifying rites are conducted under the directions, according to orthodox practice, of a Brahman priest. Regarding the exact number of these samskaras, there is a great divergence of views among the Smriti writers. According to some, sixteen samskaras, as they are nitya (usual) must be performed and the rest twenty-four, as they are naimittik (special) ones are left to choice. They are observed by almost all castes except the backward class. The chief of these customary rituals are those at birth, thread-girding, marriage, pregnancy and death. The garbhadhana (a young bride's coming of age) ceremony which used to be once performed separately and with much pomp as then girls were married at an early age, has now become a part of the marriage rite and receives scant attention.

Pregnancy and Birth : The prospect of child birth is watched with anxiety and eagerness by the family and in her first pregnancy, the young wife is treated with great care and tenderness both at her parents' and at her husband's. Her dohale (longings) as they are believed to fore­shadow and influence the characteristics and sex of the child are fondly noticed and promptly satisfied by the family elders. She has to observe a number of taboos. Because of her delicate condition, she is considered to be particularly open to attacks of evil spirits and following the current folk lore, she complies with a number of 'do's and 'dbnt's. The grihyasutras prescribe for the benefit of the pregnant woman a number of observances of a magico-religious nature such as pumsavana, anavalobhana or garbha-rakshana, Simantonnayana and vishnubali and those who believe in the efficacy of Vedic samskaras follow them to a varying extent

The young wife generally goes to the house of her parents for her first confinement. A majority of the expectant mothers in Bombay are under medical care of the public hospitals or private maternity homes. Almost all of them deliver the child in hospital or maternity homes. Even the foot-path dwellers are no exception to this. Most of the rituals which used to follow immediately after birth in the past are almost extinct. For a month or more mother and child are rubbed daily with oil, bathed and every day, the mother is given a decoction of pepper, dry ginger, cloves and other spices.

Panchavi and Shashthi : The shashthi ceremony is performed on the sixth day by worshipping a small copper pot full of water on which leaves float and whose opening is fixed by a coconut daubed with kumku and turmeric powder. Some plantains and betel-nuts and a red flower are placed by the side of the copper pot which represents Brahma who is believed to come in the guise of an old dame to write on the child's forehead its destiny. A blank sheet of paper, a reed pen, an ink stand, and a penknife are also kept near the offering and the elderly people in the house keep awake the whole night lest any evil should happen.

On the night of the fifth or the sixth day after birth, a ceremony known as the worshipping of the panchvi (Mother Fifth) and shashthi (Mother Sixth) is observed among all Hindu Communities. It is not a Vedic samskara, and as such the configuration worshipped and offerings made differ according to usage. But a common belief exists that those nights are full of danger to the newly born baby. Only by worshipping Mother Fifth and Mother Sixth can the child be saved from evil spirits. With the spread of education, the practice of sending women to hospitals and nursing homes is becoming more and more popular and many of the old customs which used to be observed at home are not observed now. The woman stays in the hospital for ten days, is looked after by qualified doctors and nurses and is generally discharged on the tenth or eleventh day.

But those who still remain at home for confinement have to conform to practices that are traditional. The mother is held impure for ten days and no one except the midwife touches her. The family observes suher (ceremonial impurity) for that period. On the eleventh day, the mother and child are given a purificatory bath, their clothes are washed and the whole family goes through a cleansing process.

Naming Ceremony: The Barse or naming ceremony is usually held on the twelfth day from birth. Women neighbours, friends and kins­women are invited to attend the naming ceremony. Each of them bring some present for the mother and child. In the women's hall, a cradle is hung to the ceiling and a carpet is spread under it. Now-a-days a ready-made cradle is purchased. A small oblong granite stone is rubbed with oil and laid in the cradle and the mother taking her baby in her hand stands on one side of the cradle and says to the woman who stands on the other side, 'Take Govinda and give Gopala.' Then the woman receives the stone and the child is laid in the cradle by the mother or by some matron who takes the child in her arms from the mother. The mother then whispers in the child's ear its name which in common consultation has been settled beforehand. The guests then gently swing the cradle and sing a palana (cradle song) lulling the child to sleep. The ceremony closes with the distribution of boiled gram and sweet­meats to the guests. Some days after the naming ceremony, the mother goes to the well and waving lighted lamps drops into the well* two betelleaves and one nut. This is called the worship of the jaladevata (watergoddess).

Chaula: The chaula or chudakarma (first cutting of the hair on the child's head) ceremony has place in the Hindu samskaras. It is also customary with many backward communities to give ceremonial attention to the first shaving or cutting of hair (javala) of the child, At present, it is only among Brahmans that the rite is usually gone through in the case of boys at the time of the upanayana (thread-girding). Before performing the ceremony, Ganapati, Varuna and the Matrikas are worshipped and a homa offering is performed.

Upanayana or Vratabandha : The thread girding ceremony or munja as it is popularly known, is prescribed for all Hindus claiming a place in the first three Varnas, viz., Brahmans, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas. In essence, it is a purificatory rite, initiating a boy to Brahmacharyashrama, stage of studenthood. In Greater Bombay, besides Brahman of all subcastes, Pathare and Kayastha Prabhus, Panchkalashis, and Sonars gird their boys by performing their upanayana. The Manusmriti prescribes that a Brahman boy when he is eight should go through this samskara; a Kshatriya boy when he is ten and a Vaishya boy when he is twelve. The proper time (Muhurta) for it occurs in the fair season, in the months of Magna, Phalguna, Chaitra, Vaishakha and Jyeshtha.

In Bombay it is Usual to perform this ceremony at public places, specially appointed for the upanayana and wedding ceremonies known as Mangala Karyalayas. These places are decorated with plantain trees, mango twigs and flowers. Invitations to attend the ceremony are sent to friends and relatives. About a fortnight before the thread girding, friends and relations ask the boy and his parents to dinner or lunch and give them presents of clothes and money. This is called kelvan or gadagner.

First some temple is visited particularly Ganapati's temple and the deity is prayed to be present at the thread ceremony with his two consorts Riddhi and Siddhi. Then the relatives and friends are invited.

Ghana : Early morning of the lucky day, the priest comes and sets up the Ghatika (water clock). This is followed by the ghana ceremony. Two musals (pestles) are tied together with a khan (bodice cloth) and a basket filled with wheat is set before the boy and his parents. Not less than five suvasinis (women with their husbands living) take the pestles in their hands, set them upright in the basket and move them up and down as if to pound the wheat in the basket. They sing songs while music plays. A suvasini takes a handful of corn and grinds it in a hand-mill (jate) to the handle of which a khan (bodice cloth) is tied. This is only customary and it is no part of the proper religious function.

Propitiatory Rites : Prior to the upanayana ceremony, usual propitia­tory rites are gone through with the same procedural details as before the performance of any auspicious samskara. Ganapati and the matrikas (mothers) are worshipped, and the punyahavachana (the holy day blessing) is performed. This is the time for near relations and friends to give presents to the boy and his parents. These presents are called aher. After this, 27 areca-nuts representing the guardians of the place of ceremony called Nandis (joy-bringing agents), six areca-nuts representing the mandapa-devatas, are placed in a winnowing fan and worshipped with flowers and Kumkum. The winnowing fan is carried into the house and laid in the family god-room. The ceremony of chaula (shaving the boy's head) follows if it was not performed in childhood. The father takes a razor and in a corner of the mandap scrapes some hair from the boy's head. These hair with sacred grass (kusha) and shami leaves is laid in the mother's hand who puts them on a lump of bullock dung. The barber then sits in front of the boy and shaves his head except some locks and the top knot (shendi). The boy is then bathed and taken to the dining hall. Boys called batus, girt with the sacred thread but not married are served with food. They eat and the boy's mother sitting in front of the boys and setting her son on her lap feeds him aad herself eats from the same plate. This is called matribhojana (the mother's meal). It is the last time when the boy and his mother eat from the same plate. As soon as the mother's meal is over the boy is taken to the barber who shaves all the locks that were left on his head except the top-knot. The boy is bathed and made ready for upanayana ceremony.

Mangalashtakas : As the lucky moment draws near, the friends and kins people take their seats. The father sits on a pat (low stool) placed on the Vedi with his face to the east, while the boy stands before him facing west. The priests hold between them a curtain marked with a vermilion swastika. The boy's sister stands behind the boy with a lighted lamp and a coconut in her hands. The priests recite the mangalashtakas (lucky verses) and guests cast akshatas (rice mixed with kumkum) at the boy and his father. At the fixed moment(muhurta) the priests stop chanting, the musicians redouble their notes, the curtain is pulled to the north and the boy lays his head at the feet of his father. The father blesses him and seats him on his right. Pan, perfume and rose water are distributed among the guests who then withdraw usually receiving a present of a coconut each. It is now-a-days getting customary for the guests to make some present to the batu (boy) on this occasion.

Upanayana : The upanayana ritual now begins. The priest and other Brahmans throw akshata over the boy's head and seat him on a pat to the father's right. A sthandila (earthen altar) is traced in front of the father, blades Of darbha (sacred grass) are spread over it and a homa (sacrificial fire) is kindled on it. The priest ties a cotton string round the boy's waist and gives him a langoti (loin cloth) to wear. He then rolls a yellow pancha (short waist cloth) round his waist and a white one round his shoulders. Another cotton string is hung on the left shoulder of the boy in the manner of a sacred thread. Offerings of aj'ya (ghee), sesamum, and seven kinds of samidhas (sacred fuel sticks) are made on the sacrificial fire. The boy is made to pass between the sacrificial fire and his father, sips three achamans and repeats texts. He then goes back between the fire and his father and takes his seat.

The boy folds his hands and approaches the Acharya (preceptor-priest) and makes a request to initiate him into Brahmacharyashrama. The Acharya grants his request, hands over to him a consecrated yajnopavita (sacred thread) and a danda (staff) of palasha tree and gives him general instructions as to how to acquire knowledge. The Acharya then takes the boy out to see the Sun and makes him repeat a prayer to the Sun.

The Acharya makes four offerings of samidha (sacred fuel sticks) to the fire and then the kumar makes an offering of one samidha and wipes off his face thrice with words purporting, "I anoint myself with lustre and may Agni and Indra bestow on me insight, offspring and vigour." The Acharya concludes the sacrifice with final oblations and sprinkles sacred water over the head of the kumar and in all directions. The Acharya and the Kumara both then stand and offer prayer to the Yajnadevata (sacrificial god), the kumara bends his knees, embraces the teacher's feet and requests him to recite the Gayatri (sacred verse in praise of the Sun), and the Acharya recites it pada by pada i.e. syllable by syllable and makes the Kumara repeat it after him. The Acharya then advises the Kumara how to behave in his career of studentship and tells him of the rules and observances to be followed by a Brahmachari. Money presents are then made to the priests who bless the boy and his father.

In the evening, the bhikshavala, begging procession goes to the temple of Ganapati. The boy who is attended by the priest bows before the gods and the procession returns home with music and company. On returning home, the boy is seated near the altar, the priest sits near him and places a rowali (bamboo basket) or a sup (winnowing fan) before him. The mother of the boy comes and stands before him near the altar. The boy says to her in Sanskrit " Bhavati, bhiksham dehi " (Lady, give me alms) and holds the bamboo basket before her. The mother blesses him and puts sweet balls, rice and coco-kernel into the basket. Other married women follow her example; the boy repeats the same words to each of them and they present him with sweet balls and money. The contents of the bamboo basket go to the priest who gives payt of the sweets to the boy and keeps the rest for himself.

The last rite of the upanayana ceremony is medha janana. A small square mound is raised and a branch of the palasha tree is planted in it. The boy pours water round the plant, prays Medha, the goddess of mind, to give him knowledge and wealth.

The upanayana ceremony used to be extended over four days, but of late, the whole procedure is wound up in a day. The arecanut Ganapati and the areca-nut Varuna are, as at the beginning of the ceremony, invoked and then bowed out to indicate that the ceremony is over and it is time for friends and kinsmen to leave. The boy is now a brahmachari, (an unwed student wedded to learning) and now on for some years, he should learn the Vedas at the feet of his Guru and after completing his studies should undergo the samavartana (return) ceremony. But all this is ancient history. According to current practice, the sodmunj or samavartana follows immediately after the upanayana. The boy discards the munja (triple sacred grass waist cord) and his langoti (loin cloth), puts on a silk bordered dhoti, a coat, a shoulder cloth, a jari cap and a pair of shoes, takes an umbrella and sets out on a journey, as if to go to Banaras. The priest or the boy's maternal uncle as may be the custom meets him on the way and promises to give him his daughter in marriage so that the boy may marry and become a grihastha (householder).

Marriage : The present day customs and ceremonial practices of Hindu marriages are described hereafter in three broad classes : (1) The traditional Vedic form which is mainly based on rites laid down in the grihyasutras, i.e. body of rules regulating the performance of certain rites and duties enjoined in the samskaras in which vedic mantras (sacred texts) are freely used. This is generally used by professional priests for conducting the marriage ceremonies of Brahmans and allied castes. (2) The Pauranika form which more or less excludes Vedic texts and is used by a number of communities, other than Brahmans and allied groups within the Hindu fold, (3) modern forms or variants of the Vedic form preached by the sponsors of such movements of reformiism or revivalism among the Hindus.

Marriage is a samskara,.a. sacrament that can be established after going through a number of ceremonial details which have their foundation in the grihyasutras. Mahamahopadhyaya P. V. Kane has drawn up a fairly exhaustive list of these ceremonies from as many grihyasutras as he could read and as such delineates the ambit of the scriptural form of Hindu marriage. Vadhuvaragunapariksha (examining the suitability of a girl or bridegroom); Varapreshana (sending persons to negotiate for the hand of the girl); Vagdana or Vangnishchaya(settling the marriage); Mandapa-karana (erecting a pandal); Nandishraddha and Punyahavachana (holy day blessing and repeating this is an auspicious day three times at the commencement of most religious ceremonies); Vadhugrihagamana (bride­groom's going to the bride's house); Madhuparka (reception of the bride­groom at the bride's house); Snapana, Paridhapana and Samvahana (making the bride bathe, put on new clothes and girdling her with a string of darbha), Samanjana (annointing the bride and bridegroom); Pratisara-bandha (tying an amulet string on the bride's hand); Vadhuvarani-shkramana (the coming out into the pandal of the bride and bridegroom from the inner part of the house); Parasparasamiksha (looking at each other); Kanyadana (the gift of the bride); Agnisthapana and Homa (establishing the fire and offering the aj'ya oblation into fire); Panigrahana (taking hold of the bride's hand); Lajahoma (offering of roasted grain into fire by the bride); Agniparinayana (going round the fire); Ashmarohana (making the bride tread on a mill-stone); Saptapadi (taking seven steps together); Murdhabhisheka (sprinkling of holy water on the heads); Suryodikshana (making the bride look towards the Sun); Hridayasparsha (touching the bride's heart with a mantra); Prekshakanumantrana (addres­sing the spectators); Dakshinadana (gift to the Acharya); Grihapravesha (entering the bridegroom's house); Grihapraveshaniya Homa (sacrifice on entering the bridegroom's house); Dhruvarundhatidarshana (pointing out the Pole Star and Arundhati to the bride); Agneya Sthalipaka (mess of cooked food offered to Agni); Triratra vrata (keeping observances for three nights after).

Certain other rites and ceremonies mentioned in mediaeval digests which are in practice at present are Seemantapoojana (honouring the bridegroom and his party on their arrival at the bride's place), now observed before Vangnishchaya; Gauriharapuja (worship of Shiva and his consort) observed by the bride before Kanyadana; Indrani or Shacheepuja (worship of Indrani or Shachee, consort of God Indra); Taila Haridraro-pana (applying of turmeric paste to the bodies of the bride and the bride­groom); Ardrakshataropana (showering of rice grains on each other's head by the bride and the bridegroom); Mangalasutrabandhana (tying of the auspicious string of beads round the bride's neck); Uttariyaprantaban-dhana (tying together ends of garments of the bride and the bridegroom); Airanidana (presenting the bridegroom's mother with several gifts); Devakosthapana and Mandapodvasana (taking leave of the invoked deities and taking down the pandal).
The type of the marriage ceremony followed by the orthodox Hindu conforms to the Brahma form. In olden days the marriage customs and rituals were very elaborate. Now-a-days however many of the rituals are gone through hurriedly, while many of them have become extinct. The following account is therefore mainly of historical interest as it throws a light on the culture of the Hindu society. " The gift of a daughter, after decking her with valuable garments and honouring her with jewels etc., to a man learned in the Vedas and of good behaviour whom the father of the girl himself invites." The custom of consulting and comparing horoscopes while fixing up a match which was strictly observed in the past is gradually falling into disuse as the parents of the couple hold that considerations of dowry or good looks are moie important than the agreement of stars. Social conditions among advanced classes have by now improved to the extent of allowing the boy and the girl, if not to court each other, at least to cultivate acquaintance to be able to make a free choice. This has become possible because the boys and girls are not married as children as before. They are grown up.
As soon as a girl is approved, the fathers of the boy and the girl draw up an agreement regarding what money the father of the girl should pay to the boy and what ornaments and dresses the boy's father should present to the girl. The auspicious day for the wedding is fixed and both families busy themselves with the wedding preparations. Two lists of purchases are made, one of sundry articles and the other of clothes. The list of sundries is headed with shri in praise of Ganesha and then starts, with haladkunku, turmeric and red-powder, for these are auspicious articles. Arrangements are made for procuring rice, pulses and other provisions. The list of clothes may include silk and cotton waist clothes, robes, bodice cloth, shoulder clothes and such articles of ceremonial dress. The building of the marriage porch is also begun on an auspicious day. But now-a-days most of the marriages are celebrated in halls which are available on rental basis. Decoration and other arrangements in the hall are entrusted to contractors.
Marriage invitations are sent to friends and relations as before a thread girding ceremony and the boy and the girl are feasted by their kinspeople. The formal invitation is known as akshata and with the well to do, it forms an elaborate social ceremony. The head of the family writes a letter asking the house and family gods to be present during the marriage festivities. He marks it with red powder and places it in the devhara (god-house). House to house or personal invitations may be arranged jointly or separately. At both the houses before either party starts, the priest takes two silver cups and fills them with grains of rice mixed with red powder. One cup he hands over to the lady of the family who is to go with the party and the other he keeps in his hands. If it has been so arranged, the girl's party may call at the boy's but not before they lay a few grains of akshata (coloured rice) and a coconut in front of the house gods, bow low to them and ask them to be present at the wedding. They then go to the temple of Ganapati, leave a few grains of akshata near the god and pray him to be present at the marriage booth to ward off danger and trouble. They then visit the houses of kinspeople, friends and acquaintances for extending invitations.
Halad Turmeric rubbing) : The boy at his house is seated on a chouranga set inside a rangoli square with his feet resting on the ground. His mother mixes in a cup some turmeric powder with scented oil and his sister dips in the turmeric mixture the ends of two mango leaves which she holds, one in each hand and touches the boy's feet with them. The head, knees and shoulders are also touched likewise. This is done five times and four other married women follow suit. The boy is then rubbed with turmeric by one of the women and is bathed ceremoniously near the entrance of the marriage booth while the musicians play on their instru­ments and drums and women sing haldi songs as they empty a few pots of water on his head, letting the water trickle from the points of mango aves. The boy then goes into the house, puts on a fresh waist-cloth, .rid prepares to join his parents in the propitiatory rites of punyaha-vachana (holy day blessing); devaka-sthapana (guardian enshrining) etc. When the boy's bath is over what remains of the turmeric and oil mixture after being used for him (ushti halad) is put in a sup (winnowing fan) along with a sari and bodice, some rice, red powder, betel-nut, betel leaves and two coconuts, and a servant, accompanied by five married women and music, carries it on his head to the girl's place. The ceremony of applying turmeric ar>d giving bath as at the boy's place is repeated for the girl; the boy's sister presents her with the sari and bodice, rubs her hands with turmeric and her brow with red powder and fills her lap with coconut, betel-nut and grains of rice. The laps of the girl's mother and sister are also filled, turmeric and red powder are exchanged with other married women of the house and the party withdraws. The boy and the girl are now considered sacred. They are called navaradeva, bridal gods, and may not leave the house till the wedding is over.
Propitiatory Rites : On the marriage day or the day previous, as a prelude to the wedding ceremony, a number of propitiatory rites are gone through both at the bride's and the bridegroom's houses.They are punyahavachana,  matrikapujana, nandishraddha, grahamukha, mandapadevata pratishtha and devakasthapana.
Vangnishchaya (Betrothal) : The boy's father goes to the girl's house with musicians, kinspeople, the family priest and servants carrying plates filled with ornaments and other articles. After the guests are seated in the marriage hall, the officiating priests from both sides exchange coconuts and embrace each other. After the priests, the fathers embrace and then the elder males from both sides exchange coconuts and embrace. A rangoli square is traced in the marriage hall and pats are set in the square. The girl's father sits on one pat. Meanwhile, the girl, on whose brow a flower chaplet has been fastened, with her head covered with a piece of broad cloth called aginpasoda is led by her sister and seated on a pat close to her father. The boy's father sits in front of them, with priests to his left repeating mantras. The girl's father worships Ganapati and Varuna. He marks the brows of their priests with sandal paste and presents them with turbans. The fathers then mark each other's brows with sandal and exchange turbans. Then each of them takes five betel-nuts and five turmeric roots and ties them to the hem of the other's waistcloth. They then hold the two bundles in which turmeric roots and betel-nuts were tied near each other, the priest rubs them with sandal and over them sprinkles, water from the Varuna pot. The contents of both bundles are mixed and made into one heap and distributed among the assembled guests. Next Shachi (Indra's wife) is worshipped. On a leaf plate a pound or two of rice is spread and on the rice, a betel-nut is set and worshipped. At this Ganapati and Varuna worship, the boy's father has to place before the deities double the amount placed by the girl's father. The priest repeats mantra lays on the girl's right palm, a drop of curd, milk, honey and sugar and she sips it. The girl's sister ties a marriage ornament on the girl's brow and the priest tells the girl's mother and her other relations that the boy's people have come to ask for the girl. They agree to let her go. The girl now leaves her place and sits on another pat in front of a picture of the house gods and throws grains of rice over it. The boy's father presents her with ornaments and clothes. She is dressed in the new clothes, the ornaments are put on her and she is seated on a pat. The boy's mother lays before her a plate with rice, a betel-nut and betel-leaves, a coconut, red powder, and a water pot. She or some one on her behalf, washes the girl's feet and rubs turmeric on her hands and face, applies red powder to her brow and sticks rice grains over the red powder. Then, telling the house people that she is filling the girl's lap, she drops into her lap a hand­ful of wheat, a coconut, a vida and some sweetmeat balls. The girl makes over the contents of her lap to someone else close by and walks away. The male guests have their brows marked with sandal, presented with vidas and coconuts and the mendicant priests are paid dakshina and all retire.

After the guests have left, the priest takes a thread of the same length as the height of the girl and adding to it threads as many as the years of the girl's age, makes them into a wick. He then puts the wick into a lamp, lights the lamp before the god Gaurihara and feeds it with oil brought by the boy's relations in a brass pot. What remains of the wick after the wedding days are over, is carefully kept and burnt in the lamp at the worship of Mangalagauri which the girl performs in the month of Shravana. After the lamp is lighted, the girl's mother is seated near it. The boy's mother begins to wash her and her relations' feet, but as the boy's side is considered higher in prestige than the girl's, the girl's mother objects and the boy's mother desists. The girl's mother's lap is filled with a sari and a bodice piece, some rice and a coconut. The laps of her relations are filled with rice only.
Seemantapujana: The Seemantapujana (a boundary worship) was, it appears, originally performed when the boy crossed the border of the girl's village. When the boy and the girl live in the same village, the boun­dary worship is performed either in a temple or at the boy's house, either on the marriage day or on the day before marriage. When the ceremony is to be performed at the boy's house at the direction of the priest, an elderly married woman of the girl's family takes bamboo baskets and trays and lays in them a number of usual articles of worship and presenta­tion. The girl's relations, with music and the articles go in procession to the boy's place. There the men are seated on carpets and arranged seats. The girl's priest sets a chouranga (high stool) near two pots and covers it with a piece of broad cloth. The boy who is ready dressed, sits on the high stool and the girl's parents sit on thepats in front of him. The grips father, taking a silver or leaf cup, fills it with rice, grains and worships his family priest and presents him with a new turban. The boy is next worship­ped. The girl's mother takes the water pot, containing warm water, pours it first on the boy's right foot and then on the left and the girl's father wipes his feet dry, marks his brow with sandal and sticks grains of rice over it. He hands the boy a new turban and the boy gives his older turban to some relation and puts on the new one. He is then handed a sash which he lays on his shoulders. The boy's sister is given a flower chaplet which she ties round the boy's turban. The girl's father lays on the boy's right palm madhuparka, a mixture of milk, curds, butter, honey and sugar. He sips it, flowers and grains of rice are thrown over him and a nosegay is placed in his hands. All the while the family priest repeats devotional mantras. The girl's mother washes the boy's sister's feet and presents her with a bodice cloth. The girl's parents now leave their seats. The mother goes into the women's hall and washes the feet of the boy's mother and his other kinspeople, fills their laps with rice and coconut and presents them with sugar. While this is going on in the women's hall the girl’s kinsmen mark the brows of the male guests with sandal and present them with vidas and coconuts and the mendicant priests with copper. Then the girl's kinspeople go home.
Varaprasthana: Next comes yaraprasthana (starting for marriage). The girl's father accompanied by his priest goes to the boy's home. Laying a coconut in the hands of the boy and his priest, makes them a formal invitation to his house to perform the marriage.
In the evening before the marriage the boy is dressed in a new turban and shoulder cloth which were presented to him by the girl's relations. His family priest, who all the time goes on muttering invocatory verses, places a coconut in the boy's hands and leads him before his house gods and the boy lays the coconut before the gods and bows low before them. He is next taken before the elders of the house and bows before each. Then he is led to the house door and curds are laid thrice on his right palm and thrice he sips them and wipes his hand. He is seated on a horse or in a carriage. His relations and friends form a procession to escort him to the girl's place. On the way, to quiet evil spirits, coconuts are broken and thrown away as the procession passes on. When the bridegroom reaches the bride's house, cooked rice, spread all over with red powder is waved over his head and thrown over at some distance in the street. A married woman of the bride's house brings an auspicious earthen jar filled with cold water and spills the water over the horses legs and she is given a bodice piece by the boy's relations. The boy is taken off the horse and a married woman pours over his feet milk and then water and waves a lighted lamp before him. The girl's father leads the boy to the marriage hall and seats him on a chouranga. Meanwhile the priest writes the name of the God Ganesh, the day, date, month and year on a wall. The priest sprinkles grains of rice on the square and installs a ghatikapatra in a bigger water vessel to determine the auspicious time for the marriage. And then while he repeats mantras, he makes both the fathers worship the ghatika. He then draws two patrikas, marriage papers in which are written the names of the bride and the bridegroom, their fathers and the auspicious time, gives them to the fathers to worship, reads the papers and makes them over to the fathers to worship.
Madhuparka : If possible, before the boy and girl are married, other­wise, soon after the marriage, the madhuparka (honey mixture) ceremony takes place.

At the Marriage Hall : The bridegroom takes off his turban and coat but keeps the marriage wreaths (mundavali) on his brow. He is made to stand on a pat in the marriage hall with his face to the east. A silk waist-cloth (antarpat) marked in the centre with a red swastika is stretched in front of him and as the auspicious moment draws near, the bride is led by her maternal uncle to the marriage hall and set on a sahanpat (sandal grinding stone) in front of the groom on the other side of the antarpat. The bridegroom's sister stands behind the bridegroom and the bride's sister stands behind the bride as the maids of the pair each with a lighted lamp and a coconut. The bride is given a garland of flowers to hold in her hand and the groom the mangalasutra (auspicious necklace of black beads) or a garland as may be the custom. The priests begin to chant the mangalashtakas (auspicious verses) and the guests shower akshata on the pair at the end of each verse. When the lucky moment is reached, the priests stop chanting and the antarpat is withdrawn to the north. The shingi (horn-blower) sounds a blast and at the signal, the musicians raise a deafening din and outside of the house crackers are fired. The couple who upto this time have been looking at the Swastik garland each other. If it is the mangalasutra in the groom's hand, he fastens it round the bride's neck. The priest gives the groom and the bride a few handfuls of rice and they drop the rice on each other's heads. The priest then tells them to remember their family goddesses and then asks them to sit. The assembled guests are then entertained, each is given flowers, a sprinkle of rose-water, a smear of attar, pan-supari and in some places a single or a pair of coconuts. Then the guests are regaled with spiced milk or sweet drinks. The Brahmans, assisting in the ceremony are paid their usual dakshina for their labour in connection with the auspicious events.

Kanyadana : The boy holds out his open hands, the girl lays her half-open hands in the boy's who holds her thumbs with his. Over their hands, the girl's father holds his open palm slanting and the mother pours cold water from a jug on her husband's hand which falls on the hands of the girl and the boy and from them drops into the plate. When this is done, all sit and the girl's parents join their hands, repeating the names of the boy and the girl, their fathers, grandfathers, great grandfathers and families. Those rituals of Kanyadana (giving away the daughter) on the part of the bride's parents followed by that of Kanyapanigrahana (accepting of the bride) on the part of the bridegroom are accompanied by words of solemn pledges. The two family priests take a plate with water and a silver or preferably a gold coin in it and dipping mango leaves into the water, sprinkle it over the heads of the boy and the girl and chant benedictory mantras. This is called Suvarnabhisheka. After this the priest proceeds with Sutraveshtana and Kankanabandhana. He takes two threads and winds one thrice round the necks of the couple and the other thrice down their waist. The thread which was wound round their necks is pulled down over the feet and the thread which was wound round the waists is drawn up over the heads. The threads are next wetted with coco-milk and rubbed with turmeric and the girl's priest winds one round the boy's right wrist and the boy's priest winds the other round the girl's right wrist. These are called lagna-kankanas (marriage wristlets).

Vivahahoma : After the completion of the Kanyadana ceremony the bridegroom leads the bride from the marriage hall to the bahule (raised platform) in the marriage pandal. In a sthandila (earthen altar) on the bahule, the priest kindles a sacrificial fire. To the west of the altar is placed a flat stone; to the north are raised seven small heaps of rice in a row running east-west, to the north-east is placed a heap of paddy on which is set an earthen water pot filled with mango leaves and a coconut on the top. To the west of the altar, on two pots, sit the couple facing east, the bride to the right of the groom. On the four sides of the altar is then spread darbha grass and to its north are set four dronas (leaf-cups), mango leaves, darbha grass and a sup (winnowing fan) containing lahyas i.e. parched grain. The sacrificial fire is fed with oblations of ghee, samidha (sacred sticks) and durva grass. A little ghee is sprinkled over the lahyas. The bride's brother comes and seats himself in front of the bride facing her. He puts two handfuls of lahyas in the bride's hands and the bride­groom holding the hands in his left hand covers them with the right. Both the groom and the bride then stand with their hands covered and throw the lahyas over the fire. Then the bridegroom taking the bride's right hand walks with her round the sacrificial fire and the earthen water-pot and then makes her stand on the flat stone. These three acts viz. lajahoma, agniparinayana and ashmarohana are repeated thrice in succes­sion. The groom then throws the remaining lahyas in the fire, pours more ghee on them and this concludes what is known as the vivahahoma.

Saptapadi : After the vivahahoma comes the saptapadi i.e. seven steps rite. The bridegroom and the bride take their seats in front of the altar and the sacrificial fire is rekindled. Both of them leave their seats and thrice the groom takes a handful of rice and throws it into the fire. He then leads the bride to the row of rice-heaps at the north of the sacrificial fire. As he walks by her side the bride puts her right foot on the rice-heaps one by one and at each step, the priest chants a sacred verse. As soon as the seventh heap is stepped on, the priest asks the bridegroom's sister to press down the bride's big toe. The bride then stands on the flat stone and the bridegroom leads her once round the fire. When this turn is finished the bridegroom and the bride again take their seats on the pats and feed the fire with ghee and parched grain. After the seven steps are taken, the boy and the girl are taken outside the house and the priest points to them Dhruvatara, the Pole-star. They look at it, bow to it with joined hands and come back into the house.

With the performance of the rites of panigrahana, going round the vivahahoma and saptapadi, the Hindu marriage is considered to be final and irrevocable. The concluding ceremonies that follow the rite of  ‘seven steps ' are varat (the homeward return of the bride and the bride­groom in a procession), vadhupravesha (the ceremonial home-entering of the newly wed wife into her husband's house) and namakarana (the bride's getting a new name). A ritualistic closure to the marriage ceremony is put with rites whereby the deities that had been invited before the ceremony began are taken leave of and the marriage booth is dismantled. Several noteworthy practices accompany these rites. The bridegroom carries off an image of the goddess Annapurna from the god room of the bride's house while he is there to bow to the gods. When the couple starts for the varat, the bride's sister puts a little curd on the bridegroom's right palm and he sips it. When they reach the bridegroom's house, his parents receive the couple and on the threshold the bridegroom's sister sets a wooden measure of unhusked rice for the bride to overturn it with her feet. The couple then sits on pats set before the house gods and after performing some rites, the bridegroom whispers the bride's new name into her right ear.

Non-Vedic Form : Marriages of the non-Vedic form generally fall into five categories according to the considerations forming part of the marriage settlement. In salankrita Kanyadana, the bride's father besides the orna­ments he gives to his daughter, stands the marriage expenses of both sides. He pays for the travelling and reception of the groom and party who come all the way from their place of residence to hold the ceremony at the bride's house. In Kanyadana, the expenses of the bride's father are much restricted. In the Varapaksha-Vadhupaksha form, the parties bear each, their own expenses, and the groom's party gives a feast to all. In the hunda form of marriage, the girl's father pays a price for the bride­groom to the boy's father, while in the dej form, the proposal of the marriage comes from the boy's father who has to pay a dej (bride-price) to the girl's father.

Marriage Rules : Before settling a match, it has to be ascertained that the kuli (sect) and devak (crests of marriage guardians) of the boy's and the girl's fathers are not the same, but are suitably different and by usage not interdictory. Sameness of devak by the mother's side and even of surnames do not bar marriage. The prohibited degrees of kindred for marriage beyond agnates vary according to the custom of the community. As regards cross-cousin unions, except the brother's daughter and the sister's son type, which is tolerated, or even preferred among many, other types are generally disallowed. Marriage with a wife's sister is allowed and a brother may marry his brother's wife's sister. Polygamy which was once allowed and practised is now prohibited by law. There are no social restrictions on widow marriage among many communities, though such a marriage was generally considered disreputable in the past. As a rule only widowers marry widows and their children do not get as large a share of property as those of the first marriage. Divorce is socially allowed among many but the remarriage of a divorced woman is conducted perfunctorily as a widow remarriage

Reformed Ceremony : A modified version of the traditional marriage ceremony and the attendant ritual has been recommended by the Dharmanirnaya Mandal of Lonavala. This version which omits many of the ritualistic details in the orthodox form, considering them as not being the essence of the sacrament of Hindu marriage, includes the following items in the following order :—

  1. Upakarma : Procedure preparatory to making the samkalpa on the part of the bridegroom.
  2. Samkalpa : The solemn declaration that he intends to enter the householder's state i.e. grihasthashrama.
  3. Punyahavachana : This literally means saying three times " May this be an auspicious day" on the part of the assembled when requested by the bridegroom that they do declare that to be an auspicious day.
  4. Kanyadatu Samkalpadikam : A solemn declaration on the part of the gentleman who gives away the bride that he intends performing the marriage ceremony of the bride with a view to her acquisition of dharma (religious merit), artha (worldly prosperity) and kama (love) after obtaining the position of a householder's wife.
  5. Vadhuvarasdtkara : Honouring of the bride and the bridegroom, in the case of the bride by the bridegroom's party and in the case of the bridegroom by the bride's party.
  6. Kanyadana : The giving away of the bride or offering the hand of the bride to the bridegroom in marriage. At this stage a variant is introduced to suit modern times, where occasionally the boy and the girl choose themselves as partners in life and wish to marry. Instead of the parent saying to the bridegroom " In offer etc." as in the orthodox form of marriage, the bride offers herself to the bridegroom reciting the appropriate formula. The bridegroom then accepts.
  7. Niyamabandha : The binding down of the bridegroom to certain vows in respect of the bride.
  8. Akshataropanam : The placing of unbroken grains of rice on each other's head by the couple.
  9. Mangalasutrabandhana : Tying the sacred thread of beads round the neck of the bride by the bridegroom and also garlanding each other.
  10. Panigrahana : The taking of the bride's hand by the bridegroom.
  11. Homapurvangam : The introductory offering of oblations to several deities such as the god of fire, the god of creation, god skanda etc.
  12. Pradhanahoma : The principal offering of oblations.
  13. Lajahoma, Parinayanam and Ashmaroha : The offering of obla tions consisting of rice flakes; going round the consecrated fire, and making the bride stand on a slab of stone.
  14. Saptapadi : The taking of the seven steps together. The tech­nique of this ritual is somewhat elaborate. At each step, the bride­groom recites a formula which is really a mild command and request to the bride.
  15. Homottarangam : The conclusion of the marriage sacrifice.
  16. Sansthajapa : The offering of prayer to the deity of fire by the husband and the wife. At the end of the prayer both ask for a blessing from the deity.
  17. Abhisheka : Sprinkling of consecrated water over the head of the bride and the bridegroom by the priest accompanied by the giving of blessings.
  18. Karmasamapti : The conclusion of the ceremony. Here the father of the bride declares that the ceremony is concluded and prays that God be pleased by this act of performing the sacrament of the daughter's marriage.
  19. Saptarshi Dhruvaprasthanam : Praying to the seven sages with Arundhati and Dhruva (the Pole-star).
  20. Ashirvada : Here the father of the girl gives her advice as to how to lead married life, and the assembled guests bless the couple.
  21. Grihapravesha : Entering the husband's home. This is accompanied by mantras of request from the bridegroom and the bride and of joint resolve to lead a happy married life.

Civil Marriages : A common form of civil marriage for all communities in India was provided by the Special Marriage Act III of 1872. Under this Act, parties willing to get their marriage registered had to declare that they did not profess any of the following religions viz. Christian, Jew, Hindu, Muhammedan, Parsi, Sikh, Buddhist or Jain. This Act was amended by Act XXX of 1923, making it possible for Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains (but not Christians, Jews, Parsis and Muhammedans) to declare their religion and yet get their marriages registered. Marriages registered under this Act are legal although they may be against the religious customs of the caste or community of any of the couple. Under the procedure at present prescribed, the parties wishing to get married give a notice to the Registrar of Marriages about their intention to marry within three months from the date of notice and specify each one's condition, rank or profession, age, dwelling-place and length of residence therein. After the expiry of fifteen days, if no valid objection is forthcoming, the Registrar grants a marriage certificate after the couple have signed a declaration form in which each has to affirm that he or she is at the time either unmarried or widower or widow; does not profess any religion or does profess a particular religion; has completed the age of 21 years (if not the guardian has to attest his consent to the marriage); is not related to the other in any prohibitive degree of consanguinity or affinity; and in the case of a minor, the consent of the father or guardian has been given to the marriage and not been revoked. Two witnesses have to attest their signatures to the declaration.

There has been a progressive increase in the incidence of marriages recorded by the Registrar of Marriages, Bombay since 1924. Every marriage, whether civil or ritualistic, has to be registered in the Registrar's office as per law.

Death and Funeral Rites : When an elderly male is on the point of death, a suitable spot in the house is cowdunged, tulsi leaves are spread over the spot and a blanket is placed over the leaves. The dying person is laid on the blanket with his feet to the south. A few drops of water from the sacred Ganga are poured into his mouth, a Brahman recites verses from the Vedas, another reads the Bhagawadgeeta, and his relatives ask him to repeat Narayan. His son takes the dying man's head on his lap and comforts him till he draws his last breath. When life becomes extinct, there is lamentation and weeping. If the moment is found to be unlucky, there has to be a performance of shanti to prevent further trouble and calamities. This is done on the eleventh day of the death. The chief mourner and his brothers, if there are any, are bathed one after the other outside the house. The chief mourner takes a blade of kusha grass, touches his brow with it and passing it over his head, throws it behind him. He dresses himself in waist cloth and shoulder cloth. The barber shaves his head except the top knot. The chief mourner is dressed in a new waist cloth and shoulder cloth which is tied to his sacred thread. A blade of kusha grass is tied to his sacred thread and the shoulder cloth, another round his top knot and a third blade of the kusha grass is made into aring and put round his third right finger. The dead body is brought out of the front door by the nearest male relations and is laid on the outer steps of the house on a small wooden plank, the head resting on the steps. Elderly men bathe the body and leave it bare except for a loin-cloth. A piece of gold and emerald are put in the mouth. A few drops of Ganga water are poured in the mouth and sprinkled over the body. The two thumbs and the two great toes are tied together with cloth and the body is laid on the bier and covered from head to foot with cloth. The wife of the deceased breaks her glass bangles and the mangalsutra, rubs off the red mark on her brow, takes off her bodice and puts on a white robe. The custom of shaving the hair of the widow which was current among Brahmins and other high caste Hindus in the past has now practically disappeared and a widow with a tonsured head is now rarely to be seen.

After this the chief mourner starts walking with a fire pot hanging from a string in his hand. The bier is raised and carried by four of the nearest kinsmen. No woman goes to the cremation ground. Half-way to the burning ground, the bier is lowered and without looking back, the bearers change places. When they reach the cremation ground, an earthen altar is made and the fire from the pot is poured over it. A few chips of firewood are thrown over the fire and it is fed wilh ghee. Close to the platform, a spot in the ground is sprinkled with water and sesamum seeds are thrown over it. On this spot, the funeral pile is built by the mourners and round it, blades of kusha grass are strewn. The pile and the bier are sprinkled with water and sesamum seeds; the cloth is pulled off the body; and thrown aside; and the body is laid on the pile with head to the south. Pieces of sandalwood and tulasi leaves are thrown over the body and if the deceased died at an unlucky moment seven dough balls are made and laid on the head, the eyes, the mouth, the breast and the shoulders. Then from a mango leaf, ghee is dropped on the several balls and the loin-cloth is cut so that the body may leave the world in the same state in which it came into the world. The chief mourner lights the pile at the head, if the deceased is a man and at the feet if the deceased is a woman and the other mourners throw the rest of the fire under the pile. The funeral priest all the while repeats mantras. When the skull bursts, *he chief mourner carrying on his left shoulder an earthen pot filled with cold water, takes his stand near where the head of the corpse lay and another of the mourners picking up a pebble, makes with it a small hole in the earthen pot and from the hole, as the chief mourner walks round the pyre, water keeps trickling. At the end of the first round, when the chief mourner comes back to the south, a second hole is made with the stone and a second stream trickles out. After the second round, a third hole is made and when three jets stream out, the chief mourner throws the pot backwards over his shoulders and the water spills over the ashes. All the mourners come together and one of them ties round the pebble with which the pot was broken, a blade of kusha grass and calls it ashma (stone of life). To cool the spirit of the dead, which was heated by the fire, the chief mourner pours water mixed with sesamum on the ashes and to quench the spirit's thirst pouts water over the ashma. All the mourners then start for home.

Obsequies : At the house of mourning, the spot on which the deceased breathed his last is smeared with cowdung and a lighted lamp is set on it. As the mourners come they look at the lamp to cool their eyes which were heated by the fire at the cremation ground and repair to their homes. The chief mourner bathes, puts on a fresh waist-cloth and shoulder cloth. As no fire is kindled in the house, relatives and friends send cooked food. The family of the deceased keeps the mourning for ten days, during which they eat no betel or sugar and drink no milk. They are also not allowed to rub their brows with sandal paste or red powder, to anoint their bodies, to shave their heads or to wear shoes or turbans. For ten days, the Garud Puran is read to the family every evening and the listeners ara not allowed to dine until they have seen a star in the sky. Generally on the third day, comes asthisanchayana (gathering of bones) when the chief mourner accompanied by the priest goes to the burning ground with the waist cloth and shoulder cloth he wore at the burning, the ashma, the water pot and the cup and after washing the two clothes spreads them to dry. He bathes, puts on the fresh washed waist-cloth and ties the shoulder cloth along with his sacred thread. He takes a little cow's urine, sprinkles it on the ashes of the dead, picks out the pieces of unburnt bones and throws the ashes into the sea. When he has thrown the ashes into the water, he sits on the spot where the feet of the deceased lay and raises a vedi, a three-cornered altar. He sets an earthen jar in each corner of the altar and one in the middle, fills them with water and throws a few grains of sesamum into each. Close to the jars, he lays the ashma. Near the four earthen jars, he places four small yellow flags and in the mouth of each jar sets a rice-ball. He makes eight dough balls, shaping them like umbrellas and footprints and four cakes which he lays near the jars. The cake near the middle jar and the water in the middle jar are meant to appease the hunger and thirst of the dead, the dough umbrella is made to shade him from the sun and the shoes are to guard his feet from the thorns on the way to heaven. The cakes laid close to the corner jars are offered to Rudra, Yama and the ancestors of the deceased. Many of these rituals are now-a-days gone through hurriedly or are obsolete.

On the morning of the eleventh day, the priest kindles the sacred fire on an earthen altar and heaps firewood over it, feeds the fire with a mixture of panchagavya (five gifts of the cow'viz., its urine, dung, milk, curds and butter) in order that all uncleanliness caused by the death may vanish and the chief mourner and bis brothers drink what is left of the panchagavya. On the same day, a shanti ceremony is performed to turn aside any evil that may befall the family if the deceased died under the constellation called tripad or panchaka. Various obsequial oblations are offered and allied rites are also performed.

Shraddha : The Sapindishraddha (obsequial sacrifice and feast of the dead in honour of seven generations of ancestors) generally takes place on the morning of the twelfth day after death, though, if necessary it may be delayed for a year. This is a highly complex ritual and is performed under the guidance of a priest. By virtue of this ritual, the deceased who has been a corpse so far changes into a guardian spirit and unites with the mourner's pitamaha (grandfather) and prapitamaha (great grandfather). The pitrus (guardian spirits) are then ceremonially dismissed. The mourner is now free and pure. The priest touches his brow with sandal paste and blesses him saying, " May you live long and gain as much merit from the ceremony as if it was performed in Gaya itself.". An offering called patheya shraddha is also performed on the twelfth day. Commodities like shoes, clothes, an umbrella, food and water are given away to mendicant Brahmans, so that the dead on his journey to heaven may not suffer from want of these amenities.

On the 13th day a feast is held to which the four corpse-bearers are specially asked, but persons whose parents are living do not attend it. Shraddha ceremonies are also performed on the 16th and 27th day and sometimes thereafter on the death day in every month for a year of which the six-monthly and the bharani oblations (i.e. the shraddha performed on the fifth of the dark half of the month of Bhadrapada) are essential. After a year has elapsed, the oblations of the first anniversary day are celebrated with great solemnity. The annual shraddha is performed on the day corresponding to the day of death in the latter half of the month of Bhadrapada. Women dying in the life-time of their husbands have special oblations offered to them during their husband's life time. This takes place on the ninth day of pitru paksha and is called the avidhavanavami day.

Specific Funerals : The funerary rite is modified to meet particular situations. In case a brahmachari (a lad girt with the sacred thread) dies before sod-munj (loosening of the munj waist-band) the sod-munj rites are performed on the dead body before it is carried to the cremation ground. There it is subjected to arkvivaha (marriage with the twig of rui or calotropis gigantea) rites and cremated with the same observances as at the death of a married man. A woman dying while in menses has to be subjected to special purificatory rites before she can be cremated with the sacred ritual. A woman dying in child or birth within ten days after parturition is similarly treated. As the religious law lays down that if a woman dies after the sixth month of pregnancy, it would amount to murder to cremate her with the child, her husband or son has to take out the foetus after performing the necessary operation. If the child be alive, it has to be taken care of, if dead, it is buried. Of late, this practice has been dropped, the chief mourner performing cleansing rites to atone for cremating the pregnant woman with a child in her womb.

If a child dies before it cuts its teeth, it is buried. It is the custom with some to bury a person dying of small-pox, lest with cremation, the small­pox goddess may get irritated. The dead body of a leper also is buried. The dead body of an heirless person is cremated out of charity and the usual death rites are performed by his caste men, such an act being considered highly meritorious.

Non-Vedic Funeral : What has been described so far in regard to funerals applies to high caste Hindu castes like Brahmans and others who follow them. But generally speaking, all Hindus cremate their dead whether with Vedic rites or Pouranik rites. Backward communities burn or bury their dead. The rest of the procedure is very much like the Vedic ritual. However, some of the variants are worth noting. Dhors, Mahars, Mangs and Ramoshis practise burial. Chambhars, Ghisadis and Kunbis wash the dead body with hot water. Among the Govardhans, the dead body when bathed is laid on the bier in a wet waist cloth instead of a new dry one. At the crematory, the body and the bier are dipped in water before they are laid on the pyre. Some communities dress the dead male in new clothes, a tur­ban, waist cloth and coat. Some do not cover the body of a married woman with a shroud but dress her in a yellow robe. If a woman dies before her husband she is dressed in a green robe and bodice, her brow is marked with horizontal stripes of Kunku, her head is decked with flowers, a vida is put in her mouth and a galasari (necklace of black beads), toe-rings which are emblems of the married state are put on in her honour. Her lap is filled with fruits and flowers.

The dead body, whether of a man or woman is usually covered with a white cloth called kafan and carried on a ladder like bamboo bier. Jains dress the dead male in silk waist cloth and the same procedure is followed in the case of a widow's body. Usually the dead male when laid on the bier, is covered all over, except the face with a winding sheet; a widow who is dressed in a robe only is covered entirely by the sheet; no sheet is used to cover a married woman who is dressed in robe and bodice. Among many backward communities parched grain is carried in a new winnowing fan and strewn on the way till the mourners reach the cremation ground. When a woman dies in child birth, rala grains are thrown behind her body as it is borne to the cremation ground and a nail is driven into the house to keep her ghost away from coming in. If the dead belongs to the Varkari sect, a bhajan party accompanies the funeral procession.

Among all communities, the chief mourner with others visits the spot of cremation and they spiinkle it with water and cow's urine and gather the ashes and bones and throw them into the sea water. Food and water are offered to the soul of the dead. The type of food and the way of offering differs with each community. Among the Kunbis, for instance, the chief mourner makes an earthen linga on the spot, sets round it hollow castor stems and close by fixes yellow coloured flags and earthen pots with milk and water. Through the hollow stems he lets water drop on the ground saying, " Let us give the dead water to drink." When all the mourners have thus poured out water, they burn frankincense and offer cooked food and rice balls to the dead. A caste feast is generally held on the 12th or 13th day of death, when the chief mourner is presented with a turban and then he is free to attend to his usual work.



The city of Bombay is often described as an epitome of India and rightly. Its population is composed of men and women of all castes, creeds and communities from all States in India and even from foreign countries, though of course the proportion of the foreigners is small. Naturally many languages are spoken by them, many religious and social practices are followed by thetn and their customs and festivals are those of their original territories. Even after a long domicile they have not given up these observances and they speak their mother tongue at home. Whichever the language spoken and whichever the province of origin the population of Bombay is predominantly Hindu and several of their feasts and festivals are common too.



Most of the Hindu festivals have a religious aspect associated with them. There are so many vratas inasmuch as, a resolve to adore a particular deity is made and worship with prescribed religious rites has to be offered to the deity in whose honour a particular festival is observed. Vrata in its broadest sense means a vow. Vows are observed in religion either as an obligatory performance on specified occasions or performed by an individual for his own benefit to gain particular ends. Vratas impose a certain amount of self-restraint as in the case of fasts.

The religious festivals have an element of vrata in them in the sense that a person observing the festival has to perform some religious rites, enter­taining a resolve to perform them and in that sense all religious festivals are primarily vratas. Some vratas such as Maha Ekadashi, Mahashivaratri, Vatasavitri, Haratalika, Rishipanchami are, however, observed more as days of dedication and devotion to deities, and so we term them simply as vratas as against festivals in which the element of gaiety predominates over the spirit of religious piety.

The common Hindu festivals and vratas observed in Bombay by the Hindu population in general are given below.

Gudhi Padva : Chaitra Pratipada, otherwise called Gudhi Padva9 which falls on the first day of Chaitra of the Shalivahana Shaka is cele­brated as the New Year day. It is recognised as one of the 3 1/2 muhurtas i.e., auspicious days suitable for making any new beginning or observing any auspicious event. There are many stories that are associated with this festival, all originating from the Puranas but the most popular one connects the festival to Rama's return to Ayodhya after his 14 years banishment in the forests and his victory over Ravana and regaining of Seeta whom Ravana had craftily kidnapped.

In the morning of Gudhi Padva, the jground in front of the house is decorated with attractive designs of rangolis. All members of the household take a refreshing oil bath early in the morning and put on new clothes. A bamboo staff with a coloured silk cloth at its end and a bright goblet atop is worshipped and a garland attached to it. It is then erected close to the front door amidst rejoicings. This is called gudhi and the day is called Gudhi Padva. A concoction of tender neem leaves flavoured with black pepper, gram pulse and sugar is taken by all as prasad on this occasion. It is supposed to put an end to all small bodily complaints.

Ramnavami : This festival falls on the 9th day of Chaitra. It is celebrated in honour of the hero of the Ramayana, Ramchandra. This day is observed as his birthday in all Rama temples and the festival begins with kirtans from Gudhi Padva. The programmes end on the 9th day with the cradling of the image of Rama and recitations venerating the deity. Immediately, thereafter, dried and powdered ginger mixed with sugar, called sunthavada is distributed as prasad. The cradling ceremony of the Divine baby Rama evokes devotion and maternal affection among women who flock to temple to witness the ceremony where the Haridas acts as the nursing mother.

Hanuman Jayanti : Hanuman is popularly known as Maruti and is worshipped alone or in the company of Rama to whom he was singularly devoted. He is said to be the incarnation of Shiva. This day i.e. the 15th of Chaitra is celebrated as his birthday. He is regarded as born at sunrise and it is at that time that the birth celebration takes place in every Hanuman temple. There are scores of temples dedicated to him in Bombay of which the temple on Proctor Road near G. T. Hospital is the most prominent. Devotees flock to Hanuman temples on Saturdays and offer the image sweet oil, udid seeds and garlands of rui leaves for protection from the evil influence of the planet Saturn. Perhaps, he is the most widely worshipped of all Hindu gods by young and old men and women, educated and uneducated alike.

Akshaya-Tritiya : This is one of the most important auspicious days according to the Hindu calendar and is counted as half of the three and half muhurtas. It falls in Vaishakh on the 3rd day and marks the beginning of the warm season. It is a day for commemorating one's dead ancestor by making to them offerings of til, water and cooked food. Gifts of umbrellas, pots and pans, cows, cash and clothing are made to Brahmans. Offering of a fresh earthen pot of cold water is also made. Any work started or any thing done on this auspicious day is believed to be everlasting.

Naga-Panchami : The 5th day of Shravana is celebrated by worshipping the cobras and serpents, either alive or in the image form. The day is observed as a feast and milk is offered to reptiles. Snake charmers move from place to place carrying cobras with them. They are given small coins and reptiles are fed with milk.

Narali-Pournima : The full-moon day of Shravana is celebrated in Bombay by offering coconuts to the Arabian Sea. The business community and the fishermen take prominent part in these offerings. The offer of coconuts is made to calm the sea and from that day onwards seafaring and fishing in the seas are resumed. To celebrate the festival, the people go in large numbers to the sea and offer a coconut.

The day is also observed as Rakhi Pournima. Sisters tie a rakhi made of silk on the wrists of their brothers thus binding them to give their brotherly affection and protection. This has a more social significance than religious.

Janmashtami : This is a popular Hindu festival which is also observed as a vrata with a fast on the 8th day of the dark half of Shravana. This is done in commemoration of the birth of Lord Krishna, the eighth incarnation of Vishnu. Kirtans are held in the temples of Vishnu and Murlidhar. In Greater Bombay, this day is followed by bands of young men going in processions and dancing in honour of Krishna. Earthen pots filled with curds are held hanging at a considerable height from the ground in different public places or junctions of streets or places of worship and teams of young men break these curd pots after reaching them by forming human pyramids. The onlookers enjoy and share the glee of the dancing young men by pouring vessels full of water on the moving parties. Fruits and currency notes are attached to these pots and they are received as rewards by these bands of young men.

Ganesh-Chaturthi : This festival is observed in celebration of the birth of God Ganesh on the fourth day of Bhadrapad by installing earthen images of Ganesh in every Hindu household. The fourth day of every month is dedicated to Ganesh whether in the bright half or dark half of a month and many people observe it as a day of devotion and fast. But the fourth day of Bhadrapad is the principal day dedicated to the worship of Ganesh and it is observed on a grand scale. Ganesh is the God of learning, and no religious work or festival in Maharashtra starts without first paying homage to him. The beginners start their learning with an obeisance to him in the terms Shri Ganeshaya Namah. Ganapati is also believed to avert troubles and is therefore invoked as Vighnaharta. At the beginning of any auspicious function or worship of any deity, the worship of Ganapati is obligatory. As in the case of other festivals, all members of the house­hold rise early in the morning and take a refreshing bath and set them­selves to the task of making preparations for the worship of the deity which takes place at noon. In this case, it consists of fetching flowers, red varieties being preferred, and tip leaves of all kinds and durva, grass shoots in lots of 21. This number is very important in the worship of this deity. This done, finishing touches are given to the reception hall where the Ganapati image is to be received and installed on a decorated dias surrounded with an ornamental arch, overhung with rows of fruits and flowers. The image of Ganapati is then installed under the guidance of a priest and prayers are offered. The principal food offering of the day, naivedya to the deity, consists of a sweet preparation called modak; 21 such modaks are served to the deity on a plantain leaf plate on which the usual articles of food are also served.

According to family tradition, the Ganapati image is kept in the house for one day, five days, seven days or ten days. After performing uttarpuja, farewell worship, images from every lane, street or colony are taken in a procession to the accompaniment of prayer songs and music and amidst shouts of Ganapati Bappa Morya, Pudhalya Varshi Lavkar Ya, for immersion to the sea-shore. The principal places of Ganapati immersion are Girgaum Chowpati, Dadar Chowpati and Juhu Beach. The shouts exhort the deity to bless all and to return early next year.

Besides the individual worship in every household, several public worships are held in a number of localities and under the auspices of public bodies lasting for ten days. The public Ganapati festival provides entertainment and rejoicing and also offers an opportunity to the people to come together in a common cause. The institution of public Ganesh festivals was introduced purposefully by Lokamanya Tilak in 1893 and it has become an integral part of the cultural life of Bombay. Besides providing entertainment, the festival serves as an educative agency of the young and old through instructive lectures and discourses; dialogues and elocution competitions and playlets on social, religious and political subjects. These public celebrations were introduced originally to create public and political consciousness under the guise of a religious festival. Of late, it serves to encourage fine arts, crafts such as drawing, painting, image making, music, besides serving its traditional aims and objects.

Closely associated with the Ganapati worship is the Gauri worship which is particularly popular among Bombay's fishermen, Agaris, Prabhus, Chowkalshis and Panchkalshis. The Gauri images are immersed with the Ganapati images on the seventh day of Bhadrapada.

Vijayadashami or Dasara : This is one of the few major festivals which are celebrated throughout India. It falls on the tenth day of the bright half of Ashvina and follows the nine hectic days of Navaratra or Durgotsava and is in fact the culminating ceremony thereof. It is one of the three and half Muhurtas (auspicious days) selected particularly for new enterprises, and in the past, military campaigns. The distinctive characteristic of the day is the exchange of leaves of apta plants, brought from an appointed place, beyond the limits of the town. The leaves are called ' gold' and are exchanged as mark of good feelings. This is called seemollanghana or shilangana in popular parlance.

After a scented bath and putting on new clothes in the morning, the tools of trade, vehicles, books and accessories of vocations are worshipped. The zendu flowers, mango leaves and ears of freshly harvested corn are very much in demand for decoration by way of torans and garlands at the top of gates, door-frames, etc. on this day. As it is considered an important day for Saraswati, the goddess of learning, children are initiated in the art of writing the first letters of the alphabet before the deity on this auspicious muhurta. Advantage is taken of the muhurta for opening any new establishment.

The day is spent in gaiety and hilarity and exchange of apta leaves and sweets. Conferences accompanied by entertainment programmes, known as Dasara sammelans are held. Formerly, there was a custom of offering to the Devi, the head of a buffalo or a goat by way of sacrifice on this day but that has fallen into disuse. Thousands of persons visit the temple of Mahalaxmi to worship the Goddess. A darshan of the Goddess is regarded as a great religious merit on this day.

The celebrations of Vijayadashami or Dasara are preceded by the Navaratra festival from the 1st day of Ashvina to the 9th. During these nine days, Goddess Durga is worshipped by installing ghatas i.e., metal pots filled with water with a coconut placed at the top on mango leaves on the first day of Ashvina. At some places five pots are kept, one upon the other after putting therein articles such as five dried dates, five pebbles, five pieces of dried coconut kernel, etc. around the ghatas, grains are sown on the ground and the ghatas are worshipped. The ghatas so installed are worshipped for nine days. On the tenth day the proceedings are terminated.

Kojagiri Pournima : This is the full-moon day of Ashvina. It is also called Navanna Pournima i.e., new food day, and from this day, the new grain of the recent harvest may be eaten. Since Lakshmi, wife of Vishnu is regarded as the agent of good fortune she is worshipped and propitiated this night, when she is believed to be abroad and a light must be shown outside the house; otherwise she may refuse to pause and give her blessings. For the same reason, every one must keep awake all night lest the careless man who sleeps fails to win her favour. Apart from its religious significance most of the people pass the night in gaiety and drinking of sweet milk.

Diwali or Deepavali: This literally means a row of lights. The festival is not only a row of lights, crackers and sweets, but it is also a row of festivals and followed intermittently by many more. Every Hindu, pauper or prince, man or woman, young or old looks forward to this festival of delightful memories and visions. The festival proper starts with Dhana Trayodashi on the 13th day of the dark half of Ashvina and ends with Yama Dwitiya or Bhaubeej on the second day of the bright half of Kartika.The intervening three days viz., Narak Chaturdashi, Lakshmipoojana and Balipratipada form the core of the festival.

Dhana Trayodashi is dedicated to the poignant memory of an unfortu­nate young prince who met with an accidental death on the 4th day of his wedding and is intended to propitiate Yama, the God of death, to save one from such a calamity. It is said once Yama called his messengers together and asked them if ever in their gruesome career, they had felt compunction while doing their duty of escorting souls to the domain of the dead. They said that such a thing happened but once in their career. That was when, in the midst of wedding celebrations of the son of a king, the prince was bitten by a serpent on the fourth day of the ceremony and succumed to the fatal bite. It was with great grief and painfu! reluctance that they managed to carry along the soul of the unfortunate prince and they sincerely wished that such a harrowing tragedy should never take place again. God Yama was moved by this account and declared that those who celebrated the five days beginning with Dhana Trayodashi with rows of lights would not be subjected to such a death. As God Yama's abode happens to be in the South, most of the lights on this day are turned southwards. It is also usual on this day to collect for worship coins of gold and silver, probably as a preparation of Lakshmi Poojan.

Narak Chaturdashi: On the 14th day of the dark half of Ashvina, every one wakes up early in the morning and takes a scented oil bath to the accompaniment of lighting of crackers, thereafter the bitter Karita, a diminutive wild cucumber, is crushed under the feet in token of killing Narakasura (The Bhagawat Purana narrates the story of a demon called Narakasura who became a terror to the three worlds.) and apply to the forehead the Kumkum mixed with oil as representing his blood. After the whole household has had its ceremonial bath, a great variety of refreshments and sweets are served and partaken of in company of friends and relatives. This is of course, followed by the inevitable feast and exchange of presents and greetings. It is customary to call the newly married daughter and her husband for the feast on this day when presents befitting the parents' position and means are made to them.

Apart from the semi-religious aspect, the festival has a social signi­ficance which is peculiarly modern. Obviously the festival connotes an unusually fine and powerful allegory on social work. Narakasura means literally the demon of hell whose fortress is the dump of dirt, filth and garbage. It is the accumulation of these and ignorance which makes it possible to carry away thousands of women and children to their untimely death, and what is worse, the continuous sickness and confinement to bed. Although men have a prominent part to play in the campaign for miti­gation of this evil, it is mainly the thorough but unobtrusive educative work of women of the type of Satyabhama of old and ‘the Lady of the Lamp' of our own times which can effectively attack and subjugate the fortified ' hell' and restore the unfortunate victims to health and happiness through enlightenment. This explains and justifies the presence of Satyabhama on this particular war like opcasion as did the presence of Florence Nightingale on the Crimean war front.

Lakshmipoojana : The worship of Lakshmi, Goddess of wealth, is performed in the evening of the last day of Ashvina by householders and merchants to the accompaniment of lighting, music and refreshments when friends, relatives, guests and customers are treated to pan-supari and prasad in the form of coriander-seeds and gur.

Bhaubeej: This is the concluding day of the Diwali festival and falls on the second day of Kartika. It is very similar to the Rakshabandhan ritual held on the Narali Pournima day and is observed in honour of the memory of the visit of Yama, the God of Death, to his twin sister Yami who served him a sumptuous feast and was, in return, presented costly orna­ments and rich raiment. Every sister looks forward to a visit by her brother on this day or the sister is taken to the brother's house. Where there is no brother, a cousin, however distant or an adopted brother takes his place and vice versa. It is even laid down that one should not, on this day take food, prepared by his wife but only by his sister or cousin as the case may be. There are instances where persons having no sister or cousin have adopted sisters even from other communities in order to fulfil the obligation enjoined by this delightful festival day.

Diwali holidays have, of late, assumed a great social importance and mutual greetings are exchanged on this occasion as during the Christmas holidays.

Makar Sankranta : This is a very important religious observance and festival. It falls on the 14th or 15th of January in the month of Pausha. Sankranti means " the apparent passing of the sun from one rashi i.e. the sign of the Zodiac to the next following " and the rashi in which the sun enters is designated as the Sankranti of the name of that rashi. There are twelve Sankrantis in a year, in one of which the sun appears to pass from the Mithuna to the Karka rashi and in the other he appears to pass from the Dhanu to the Makara Sankranta. Of these two, only the latter is observed with religious rite and exchange of mutual good wishes throughout Bombay. Women with living husbands worship earthen pots called sugads on this day, after putting in them wheat grains, cotton, turmeric, etc. and after worship distribute them among at least five women with husbands living. The day is observed with a feast of sweet dish. In the evening, ladies go round Hindu houses in the neighbourhood where the housewife of the house applies turmeric powder and vermilion to their foreheads, gives them sweet sesamum, speaks sweet and presents them with some articles such as small utensils, mirrors, combs, fruits, etc. These mutual visits continue upto the Ratha Saptami. Men, women and children greet one another with mutual exchanges of goodwill, and exchange sweetened sesamum or sweetened balls of sesamum mixed with groundnuts and cashewnuts. The day following Sankranta is called Kinkranta.

Holi or Hutashani Pournima : This is the last major festival in the Hindu calendar. It falls on the full moon day of Phalguna, though in practice it starts from the 5th day of the bright half and lasts till Ranga-panchami i.e., the 5th day of the dark half of Phalguna. It marks the end of everything that is low and rotten in the passing year by burning and bowling it out and making way for the coming year by colour and songs of the bewitching spring. In Bombay, this festival is observed for two days. The first day is Hutashani Pournima or Holi. On this day in the evening, public bonfires are lit in all Hindu localities by worshipping Holi deity and lighting logs of wood, offering coconuts to it. A sweet dish of puranpoli is prepared. The next day is Dhuhad. It is spent in rejoicing.

Vratas : The following are some of the vratas which are predominantly religious and pious in their conception:

Vata Savitri : This is a vow as distinct from a festival that is observed by married Hindu women in emulation or imitation of the virtuous ancient lady, Sati Savitri who was able to reclaim her husband's life from the God of Death by virtue of her unswerving constancy to her chosen spouse. It is observed on the full moon day of Jyeshtha, supplemented by a fast on the preceding three days.

Married ladies whose husbands are alive observe their vow by bringing sand from the bank of a river or seaside and keeping it in a basket. The basket is wrapped in two pieces of cloth and then idols of Satyavan and Savitri are worshipped in it. Portraits of Savitri, Satyavan and Yama are drawn and worshipped. The sankalpa states that the worship is for the purpose of securing long life and prosperity to the husband, children, grand children of the worshipper accompanied by her own eternal welfare.

As Savitri is supposed to have been under a vata tree, when Yama came to take her husband's life, ladies worship this tree on Vata Pournima day and distribute fruits and flowers as prasad. The story is well-known all over India. Savitri is cited as the very acme of conjugal fidelity and it is the aim of every Hindu woman to emulate her example.
Ashadhi and Kartiki Ekadashis : Every eleventh day in the bright as well as the dark half of a month is known as Ekadashi, and devout Hindus fast on this day in propitiation of Goddess Ekadashi. Of all the Ekadashis, however, those falling on the 11th day of the bright halves of Ashadha and Kartika are considered most important and are observed by many. Hindus belonging to the Varkari sect observe this fast very piously. Many of them strive to visit the Viththal temple at Pandharpur. However, those who cannot visit Pandharpur make it a point to pay their respects to the Viththal temple at Wadala. About one and a half lakh devotees visit the temple at Wadala on the Ashadhi as well as Kartiki Ekadashis. Vishnu who is specially venerated on Ekadashi is supposed to start his four-month long sleep on the Ashadhi Ekadashi and so it is known as Shayani (sleeping) Ekadashi and the one in the bright half of Kartika is called Prabodhini because he is supposed to wake up on that day. The period between the two Ekadashis is called Chaturmasa, four months' period, in which devout people arrange recitations and discourses on religious themes and certain food items such as onions, garlic, brinjals, etc., are not consumed.

Haratalika : This is purely a vow and is not a festival in any sense. It falls on the third day of the bright half of Bhadrapad and is observed by ladies exclusively. Originally intended for observance by unmarried girls it is now undertaken by married ladies. Even widows observe it with a fast. The peculiarity of the fast is that cooked food and water are a taboo during its continuance. Along with Parvati, her friend Haratalika who helped her to run away from her father's house to observe the vrata is given equal prominence and worshipped in the course of the vrata.

Rishipanchami : This is a vow observed by ladies by honouring the sages of the ancient past and seeking their protection. This falls on the 5th day of the bright half of Bhadrapad month. Now-a-days this vrata is restricted particularly to those whose menses have stopped. Some ladies observe this vow from their childhood. Any food obtained by tilling the ground with the help of oxen is a taboo in the observance of this vow and only such things as wild grains, roots and tubers obtained without tilling the ground have to be consumed, during the observance of this vow. This vow is observed for a minimum of seven years.

This vow has two aspects; one is the need of strict observance of hygienic rules of personal cleanliness, and the other is the honouring of our ancient sages who after austere penance left for us the fruit of their experiences so that we may profit by them. The names of the seven sages are, Kashyapa, Atri, Bharadwaja, Vishwamitra, Gautama, Jamadagni, and Vasisththa.

Mahashivaratra : The Mahashivaralra falling on the 14th day of the dark half of the month of Magha is regarded as an important fasting day. Worship and devotion offered to God Shiva on this day is considered to be effectively ridding one from the worldly worries and troubles.

Those wanting to observe the vrata are supposed to take meals on the night of Magha Vad. 13. On the morning of Magha Vad. 14, after bathing they worship Shivalinga devotionally with a rudrabhishek. During the worship, if possible, one lakh, one thousand and 108 bel leaves are offered to the deity and the whole day is observed as a fast. The night is spent in singing prayers to God Shiva, and the next day the fast is broken.


The partition of the Indian sub-continent into India and Pakistan meant, among other things, that Sind was to be part of West Pakistan. As a result the Hindus in Sind known as Sindhis migrated to all parts of India. Nearly three lakhs of them came to Maharashtra. Most of them settled down in urban areas and a large majority in Greater Bombay and Thane districts. Besides most of the festivals observed by other Hindus, they have their own peculiar festivals and practices which they have brought with them here.

Cheti Chand : This festival happens to be the New Year Day and is observed on the second day (Bij Tithi) of the bright half of Chaitra which they pronounce as Chet, the first month of the year. It is believed that it happens to coincide with the birth anniversary of the river god. Women observe a fast on this day. In fact all days that are sacred to the river god are observed as fast days by them. The river occupies an impor­tant place in the life of the persons of Sindh since it is the source of all life. This day is observed as the anniversary of a great saint known as Uderolal who is said to be an incarnation of Varuna around whom many tales are woven. In the beginning of the 11th Century, Markh whose capital was at Thatta was the king of Sindh. He was a fanatical Muslim, and Hindus were persecuted by him as well as by his followers. The king wanted that all Hindus should embrace Islam and passed an order to that effect. The Hindus were astonished at this strange order and requested the king to grant them religious freedom. The request was turned down. However, the king gave them a period of three days for consideration. The Hindus gathered at the river and prayed for three days at the end of which a voice was heard from the river saying " after eight days I shall be born at Nasrapur and my name shall be Uderolal ". So the river god, Uderolal was born to Devaki Mata, wife of Ratan Rai Thakur of Arora caste at Nasrapur in the evening on Friday, which happened to be the New Year Day of 1007 of the Vikram era. The river god is also known as Daryalal or Amarlal which is a much more popular name. The newly born child began to speak like a grown-up man after a short time. When the king came to know about the birth of this child, the king and his vazir named Ohio wanted to capture the child who suddenly appeared before them from the river at Thatta. The king wanted to convert him to Islam but failed. The king could not catch him as he changed his form in quick succession. At last Uderolal warned the king about the forcible conversion of Hindus to Islam. The latter ignored this whereupon Amarlal ordered fire to destroy the town. This had its effect and the king repented and granted equal freedom of worship to all. The king was so much awed by the miracles of Uderolal that he revered him as a devotee of God and named him Khvaja Knizir. The Sindhis celebrate this day in gratitude for saving them from tyranny of the Muslim ruler. On this day, Sindhis take out a procession of the Sea God which ultimately ends at a river bank. They carry bahranas (This is a symbol of a temple of river or sea god) by installing a picture of sea god (Lal-Sai) with perpetual light in it. They also sing panjra (five line poems) in praise of the river god to the accompaniment of music. Young men dance to the tune of a wooden stick in their hands. This dance is called chej. On its way, people greet the procession. Sukho and sesa (boiled kabuli gram or boiled beans and sweet water) are distributed. Women offer flowers and coconuts to the bahrana and while the procession moves forward they shout.

Lai Ja Jati, Chou Jhoole-Lal (Oh, Ye traveller of the Sea! May my God swing on water).

When the procession ends at the bank of a river a puja is performed and the bahrana is assigned to water. It is believed that Uderolal who practised the river cult gave seven things which occupy an important place in the celebration of the festival of Cheti Chand. They are: (1) the lamp, the symbol of Uderolal, (2) priestly dress, (3) a big metal pot in which lice is boiled for distribution, (4) a sword for protection, (5) a water pot, (6) a drum stick for performing chej dance and (7) the darbha grass.

Since the Cheti Chand happens to coincide with the Gudhi Padva day, the Sindhis of Maharashtra have begun to. celebrate it in a great gusto and enthusiasm.

Chaliho : This festival was celebrated in a grand manner in Sindh. It has lost its importance because of the changed circumstances in which the Sindhi coitimunity is now living in Maharashtra. " The period of inundation is celebrated by the observation of the Chaliho festival or the festival of the 40 days of the flood. It commences on the full moon day of Ashadha which the Sindhis pronounce as Akhar. The women mix rice and turmeric, dry them and then add cloves and cardamoms to it. They make grain oblations to the river deity from it, thrice a day during the inundation period, on the benk of a lake or canal and go through the usual form of worship. On every Friday, or the birth day of the river god victuals aie offered to the water and distributed among the people. The day of the full moon and the new moon and Fridays are sacied to the river god; and when they fall during this period, they are specially celebrated by taking five or seven one or four corner lamps of wheat flour to the adjacent pool or canal where they worship the river deity and distribute the victuals after offering some to the waters.

The last day of the Chaliho festival commences with the putting of forty kinds ot eatables specially fruits in an earthen vessel and mixing with wheat cakes one for each member of the family. The vessel is painted in red with five or seven swastika designs and covered at the top with a coconut. Round about are tied necklaces prepared of cloves, cardamoms and mango leaves. Then the vessel is carried by a woman on her head to the nearest tank or canal accompanied by another woman who carries five or seven four cornered lamps burning with wicks of safflower colour. After taking bath she applies a mark on the forehead with powder of red-oxide. The women thus gathered sing panjra songs in praise of the river god, live in the mid-stream with clothes on and sink the vessel under water. Grain oblations are made to the river deity and flour lamps are floated on water. Then they return and observe the birthday rite (bij) of the river god and distribute victuals (sesa) after offer to water. This festival is observed by some males also by sitting on the bank of a canal or tank for forty days and keeping vessels full of water nearby. They make oblations to the river deity thrice a day and go through the usual form of river worship. The last day of Chaliho celebration is the day of taking leave from water as the floods are now supposed to retreat " (V. T. Thakur,   Sindhi   Culture,   University  of Bombay   publication   (1959), pages 123-24.).

Tijri: This festival which is mostly observed by married women and unmarried girls falls in Shravan, pronounced by Sindhis as Savan, Vad. 3. Four days before the festival women sow wheat or jowar seeds in earthen pots and allow them to sprout. On one day of the festival, they decorate their palms with mehendi. They observe a fast on the day and in the afternoon, the earthen pots containing the sprouts of wheat or jowar grain sown earlier, arei kept in a swing. They rock the swings with pots on, singing songs and performing a dance called jhimir. They drink flavoured water (sherbat). At night, they worship the moon on its appearance by offering milk, flowers, rice etc. and break the fast.

This festival is observed by married women for long life of their husbands and by unmarried girls for securing a good husband.

Thadari : This festival is observed on two different dates. The first one which is called Nandhi Thadari (lesser Thadari) is observed on Savan Sud. 7. The other is celebrated on Savan Vad. 7. Both the festivals are celebrated in honour of the consort of Shiva or female energy, the mother goddess in the form of Sitala, the small-pox goddess. On the previous day, women prepare sweet cakes called bhajivans and also a custard preparation. On the festival day, it is customary not to burn fire and stale food, cooked on the previous day is consumed. The women sing songs, go to a temple and make offerings. The peculiarity of this festival is that generally even women gamble on this day. The children and grandchildren approach their parents a.nd grandmother demandiiig money. Lakshmi, goddess of wealth, passes through the palm of one who gambles on this day. Married daughters with their children visit their parents' place.

Mahalakshmi : This is one of the festivals which is observed by Sindhis in honour of Goddess Lakshmi. This festival falls on Ashvina Vad. 8. All members of the family tie a thread around their wrist which is called sagro. It is made of 16 yellow threads of cotton and has sixteen knots. In the case of unmarried persons, two sagros are tied. On the day of Mahalakshmi, people go to the house of a Brahman priest and carry with them sweet cakes and lamps prepared out of flour. They untie the sagro and on reaching the Brahmin's place, they hear the story of Raja Mangli who had two queens. After conclusion of the story the persons return home, leaving the sweet cakes, etc. at the Brahmin's place. Some portion of the sweet cakes is taken back home as prasad.

Now-a-days the sagro is not kept on the wrist for 16 days. They generally tie it on Ashvina Sud 8. and remove it either on the same day or the next.

Guru Nanak's Birthday : One of the peculiarities of the Sindhi culture is that they observe the main festivals of the Sikh religion and amongst them the birthday of Guru Nanak, the first of the ten gurus of Sikhism, is celebrated with much fervour and on a grand scale. This festival falls on Kartik Sud. 15. i.e. full moon day. Sindhis and Sikhs call it Guruprabh, and its celebration commences 48 hours before the actual day when the recitation of akhand path of the Granth Sahib begins at a convenient place. Four or five persons are posted to recite from the holy scripture, turn by turn, for about two hours each. A person is appointed to coordinate the function and look after the comforts of the persons who recite from the Granth Sahib. Dhupias i.e. incense burners burn incense beside the " Sevari of Maharaj " day and night till the bhog ceremony is over. Jyoti, flame, fed with pure ghee is kept burning during the period of akhand path. The entire recitation of the holy book takes 48 hours. After 24 hours have elapsed, the ceremony of madh path i.e. recitation of half of the holy book is performed with the blowing of conch shells and ringing of bells.

After the completion of the recitation of the holy book which is over on the day of the festival, a kirtan is held at the same place followed by a katha. The life story of Guru Nanak is told by prominent persons. A kavi durbar is also held. The karah prasad is then distributed to all those who are present. The end of the function is Guruka langar (free kitchen) which is open to all persons without any distinction of caste, creed or religion. All the persons sit in the same row and eat the same food which is all vegetarian. It consists of rice, curry, chapatis, bhaji, chatni and sweet bundi. The place where the function takes place is gaily decorated and in the midnight a swing with the photograph of Guru Nanak is brought and rose petals are showered on it.

The Sindhis like other Hindus observe Ram Navmi, Akhna Tij i.e. Akshaya Tritiya, Janmashtami, Ganesh Choth, Gopashtami (when the cow is worshipped), Dasara, Diwali, Tirmuri (Sankranta) and Holi in the same way as other Hindus. On Ganesh Choth, women observe a fast and break it after moon-rise. During Diwali on Lakshmi Pujan day, models of houses are also worshipped. A peculiar custom among them is that they put milk, gold or silver coins and ornaments in a vessel and dip a finger in it and they apply it to their forehead and mouth. They usually say:—

Diyari Jo Diyo Ditho Nandho
Vaddo Chibhand Mitho
(After Diwali, the fruit of Chibhand becomes sweet.)


The percentage of the Muslim population in Greater Bombay is 17.24. The following are some of the important festivals observed by the Muslims of Bombay and Maharashtra:

Muharram : The name of the first month of the Muslim year is Mahar-ram and the first ten days of the month are known by that name. This festival is in fact a solemn occasion since it is associated with the memory of Hussain, the second son of Fatimah, the Prophet's daughter.

Strictly speaking, this is no occasion for festivity and rejoicing. In fact, several pious Shiah and Sunni Muslims observe fast, recite the Koran at home during the ten days and the tenth day is observed as Ashurah i.e. mourning day. It is the Muslim belief that the future Qiyamat (destruction of the world) will be on a Friday of these ten days of Muharram. The Shiahs observe this as an occasion of immense pain and sorrow. They weep and wail, beating their breasts during these ten days. Cots are upturned, mats are wound up and the bare floor is made the sleeping place during the period. They wear only black clothes. The highly orthodox Shiahs condemn even processions. Some Muslims go to Karbala, the place of historic battle and offer prayers by reciting the Koran.

The 9th and 10th of Muharram are observed by Muslims as Sunnat Roza i.e. an optional fast. They do not eat anything from sunrise to sunset. Sunnis prepare sweets and distribute them to the poor, Shiahs do not observe a fast. They offer fatiah in imambara.

The preparation of the festival starts with the construction of a tem­porary structure or some large hall called Ashur Khanah (literally ten day house). As soon as the new moon appears, people gather together in the various imambaras and offer fatiahs over some sherbat or some sugar in the name of Hussain. The fatiah conclude thus : ' O God ! grant and reward of this to the Soul of Hussain.' The sherbat and sugar are then distributed. The imambara is generally a temporary structure or some large hall fitted up for the occasion.

There are no functions for the first six days and the ' Alam-I-Quasim' i.e. the tabut is taken out in public procession from the seventh to the ninth day. This is to represent the marriage of Quasim, the son of Hassan to the favourite daughter of Hussain just before the latter died. The three days are spent in enjoyment with fancy dresses of tigers, bears, etc. The Muslims go to the naziyah and offer fatiahs to alams. In the evening before the 10th day which according to the Muslim mode of computing time is the tenth night, the taziyahas and the alams are taken out in procession. On the following day, the taziyahas and alams are taken out in procession to a river or a tank, and they are immersed in it after the ornaments are removed.

The 10th day, the Ashura of Muharram is a sunnat feast and is observed by all Sunnis. It is considered to be an excellent day, for God is said to have created many things on this day. At about 3 p.m. the Sunnis prepare sherbat and kichara of seven pulses, and fatiah is said in the name of Hussain and of those who were martyred with him at Karbala. On this day, some go to the burial grounds and place flowers on the graves of their friends and say fatiah.
Akhiri Chahar Shambal: This feast is held on the last Wednesday of the second Muslim month, Safar. This feast is celebrated to comme­morate the fact that the Prophet experienced some mitigation of the disorder which terminated his life in the next month, Rabi-ul-Awwal. Sweet cakes are prepared and fatiahs are said over them in the name of the Prophet. A curious custom which is said to have no religious sanc­tion, in Islam, known as drinking of the 'seven salams" takes place on this day. A plantain leaf or a leaf of mango tree or a piece of paper is taken to a Mulla who writes seven short sentences from the Koran upon it. The writing whilst it is wet is washed off and the mixture is drunk by the person for whom it was intended. The purpose is to ensure peace and happiness for the future. It is, however, learnt from local Muslims that this festival has lost most of its importance.

Milad-un-Nabi : This feast is also known as Bara Wafat. It is held on the 12th day of the 3rd Muslim month Rabi-ul-Awwal. This name appears to have derived from bara i.e. twelve and wafat i.e. death, because many Muslims believe that the Prophet died on the 12th day of Rabi-ul-Awwal.

On the morning of the 12th day, the Koran is read in the mosque and in private houses and fatiah are said over cooked food and it is distributed among the poor. The story goes that as an orphan Mohammad was fed by Halima, a poor woman. As a baby, he refused milk from the right breast of Halima which was meant for the woman's own son. One day, Gabriel cut the chest of Mohammad, washed the heart with sacred water and prepared him to be a Piophet and a reformer of the world. He also got for him Koran from God. As Mohammad started preaching that God was one, he had to leave Mecca and to go to Madina where he acquired 330 disciples in the first instance. He slowly spread his message and regained Mecca and passed away on the 12th day of Rabi-ul-Awwal in the year 1775.

Both in private houses and mosques, meetings are held at which the story of the birth, miracles and death of the Prophet is recited. They keep awake throughout the night and namaz is performed. The Koran is recited in mosques during this night. Some, however, observe this day as the 'Jashan-i-milad-i-sharif' or the feast of the noble birth. They believe that the Prophet was born on this day and as such it is a birth anniversary of the Prophet.

Sahab-i-Barat : This feast signifies the 'night of record' and is observed on the night of the 14th day of the eighth month of Shaban. It is believed that the destiny of man is recorded for the coming year. The word bar at means acquittal. It is said that God, on this night, makes a record of all the actions men are to perform during the ensuing year. Muslims observe a sunnat fast on the 14th and 15th day of the eighth month and keep awake all night and offer prayers for their well-being and also of others. Fatiah are said over cooked food for the benefit of the deceased ancestors and relatives. The Koran is read in the night and there are illuminations.
On this day, they go to the grave-yard and offer prayers to the dead.

Ramzan : Ramzan is observed during the ninth month of the Muslim year, Ramzan. Prophet Mohammed, while he was doing penance in Gharebwara, a cave, in Mecca in his fortieth year is believed to have acquired Koran sent by Allah through Gabriel. The observance of this month is one of the cardinal practices in Islam and express commands regarding it are given in the Koran.

Throughout the entire month, Muslims begin their fast early in the morning to break it only after sunset. All luxuries and also such habits as smoking, chewing and snuffing are avoided during this period and complete fast during day time is observed. During the nights, Maulavis deliver lectures on Islam. In addition to Isha, the night prayer, an addi­tional prayer viz., tara-vi- (20 rakhaths) is offered and a part of the holy Koran is recited. On Badi-Rat or the best night (Shah-e-Kadar) which falls on the 26th or 27th day recitation of the holy book is completed. On the Badi Rat all keep awake till 4 a.m. when the reading of Koran is completed and sweets are distributed. It is believed that if a person offers sincere prayers, repenting for his misdeeds on this night, he is forgiven and his desires, if any, are fulfilled. The last day is Khubda day i.e.. the first day of Shawwal. On this day, the observance culminates with great pomp and show. All wear new clothes and each member in the well to do family distributes among the poOr wheat or rice or other foodgrains to enable the poor to participate in the common namaz. They go for the namaz to the Idgah, open space where a wall is constructed on a raised platform. The distinguishing feature at the time of namaz is that the rich and the poor stand together in a row, shedding the cloak of social status. The namaz at the Idgah is seldom missed by any one. The entire Ramzan month has assumed great religious importance. This festival is also known as Id-i-Ramzan or Mithi-Id or Id-ul-Fitr. The Muslims who observe roza are named as rozagar and are very particular about offering namaz during this month and spend this month with great piety and sanctity.

Bakri-Id : The feast is also known as Id-i-Qurban or Id-ul-Kabir or Bar-i-Id and Id-ul-Zuha. This festival falls on the 10th day of Zil Hajja, the 12th month of the Muslim year. The feast has a foundation in Chapter XXII of the Koran.

The Prophet's injunction lays down that a Muslim should offer a part of his cattle to God when he benefits. The legend goes that before the birth of the Prophet Mohammad, there was Ibrahim (Abraham) a Prophet who condemned polytheism and animal sacrifice before images. It is he, who constructed the Kaba. He beheaded the minor idols, sacredly placed the sword in the hand of the presiding deity and proclaimed that the crime was committed by the deity itself. The enraged mob threw him into the fire but the angels and God saved him. God commanded that he should sacrifice his only son, Ismail, begot at the ripe age of eighty. Though Satan tried to dissuade him, Ibrahim executed the Lord's command. However it was only a test and his son was restored to life. An orthodox version is that God desired Ibrahim to sacrifice to him the best he loved. The best he loved was his youngest son, Ismail, who was made to prostrate blind-folded. Ibrahim with his eyes covered, drew his sword across his neck, repeating the words '" Bismillah-Allah-Ho-Akbar". In the meanwhile, however, the arch-angel Gabriel snatched Ismail from under the blade and substituted a broad tailed sheep in his stead. Ibrahim found to his surprise when he unfolded his eyes that a sheep was slain and his son was standing behind. Animal sacrifice appears to have come into vogue since then.

On the 10th day of Zil Hijja, the festival of Bakri-Id is observed by paying a visit to an Idgah and offering namaz. It is perfoimed early in the morning. After the morning prayers, the Muslims return home and the head of the family chooses a sheep or a goat and places its head towards Mecca and says, " In tho name of the great God verily my prayers, my sacrifice, my life, my death, belong to God, the Lord of the world. He has no partner; that is what I am bidden; for I am first of those who are resigned. ". And then he slays the animal. The flesh of the animal is divided into three parts, one third being given to relations, one third to the poor, and the remaining third ieserved for the family. It is considered highly meritorious to sacrifice one animal for each member of the family. Apart from its religious aspect, the festival is observed as a great occasion for rejoicing. The festival is celebrated for three days and the time is spent in merry making and rejoicing.


The followers of Buddhism form approximately seven per cent of the population of Greater Bombay, most of them being the followers of the late Dr. B. R. Ambedkar who resolutely embraced Buddhism with his numerous followers, chiefly from the Mahar community in October 1956.

Every full moon day is an auspicious day for the Buddhists. Some specific events have happened on these days and they are celebrated as festivals. The moon is worshipped on her appearance and after worship the fast observed on this day is broken. Non-vegetarian food is strictly avoided on these days. In the same manner, many Buddhists observe every Thursday in memory of Dr. Ambedkar as he died on a Thursday.

Vaishakhi Pournima : The full moon day of the month of Vaishakha is particularly auspicious because Gautam Buddha was born on this day. He also attained perfect knowledge or enlightenment on this day. He died also on this day. All these events have enhanced the importance of Vaishakhi Pournima. The neo-Buddhists honour both Buddha and Ambedkar by garlanding their photographs and taking them in a procession. Fast is observed, prayers are said, meetings are held and speeches delivered on the achievements of Buddha and Ambedkar.

Ambedkar Jayanti : The 14th of April, anniversary of the venerable doctor's birth is observed as a festival. He was born on this day in 1891. A visit to his statue is organised and the statue garlanded. The principal function is organised at venerable Chaityabhoomi on the Dadar Chowpaty. Besides, many programmes are arranged in several localities in the city and suburbs. Prayers are offered in honour of Lord Buddha and Baba-saheb Ambedkar in the presence of Bhiku, a Buddhist priest. Every neo-Buddhist eats sweets on this day.

Nag Panchami : This festival is observed on Shravana Shudha 5 in honour of the Naga people who were devotees of Buddha. It synchronises with the cobra worship of Hindus on this day. The image of Buddha is worshipped, and khir, a sweet dish is offered to him. The day is spent in merry-making and feasting.

Vijaya Dashami : This festival coincides with the Hindu festival of the same name. For Buddhists it is important for two reasons. Firstly, it was on this day that Emperor Ashok announced that he would never use force to win over or conquer people but he would persuade them.The Emperor conquered Kalinga Desha after massacring thousands of people. He was much perturbed over the killings and repented for his act. Secondly, the day is celebrated as a festival because it was on this day in 1956 that many members of the scheduled castes embraced Buddhism following Dr. Ambedkar's lead. They wear white clothes on this day which is called dharmachakra parivartana. A huge procession of the pictures of the Buddha and Ambedkar ending in a meeting where homage is paid to both is a feature of the day. Sweet dishes and merry making form part of the day's programme.

Deepavali : The festival is observed on Ashvina Vad. 30. It ends the period of three months during which Buddhist monks are required to stay at one place. Dwelling places are cleaned and whitewashed. In the evening lamps are lit in front of the house. Worship and prayers are offered to the Buddha's image. The festival coincides with the Hindu festival of the same name, but extends over four days.

December 6 : This day is celebrated as the death anniversary of Ambedkar who expired on that day in 1956. It is celebrated in a very solemn manner. A total fast is observed by many, but those who cannot do so avoid non-vegetarian food as a rule. Dr. Ambedkar's image is worshipped in every house. The day is called parinirwana din and meetings are held to remember his services to the neo-Buddhists.

Holi : This festival is observed on Phalguna Shuddha 15 and it coincides with the Hindu festival of the same name. After worship­ping the image of the Buddha, they exchange pieces of coconut kernel and dates.

Besides all these festivals, the following days are also observed as festivals though they are not celebrated on a grand scale:—

(i) Jyeshtha Pournima : This is observed to commemorate the Buddha's teachings of the Mahasamaya Sutta to the inhabitants of Kapilavastu.

(ii) Ashadhi Pournima : Lord Buddha preached for the first time the principles of his Dhamma to his five friends which were later on called as Dharmachakra Parivartan. The Buddha Bhikkus stay at one place from Ashadha Pournima. They do not move out for a period of three months.

(iii) Ashwina Pournima : On this day the Buddha preached in the heaven (Devaloka) to his mother, Mahamaya Devi and other goddesses. He also returned after three months.

(iv) Vasant Panchami : It is celebrated on Magha Shuda 5. Khir, a sweet dish, and yellow flowers of sarasa are offered to the image of Lord Buddha. The yellow colour is prominent on this day. Even the khir is of saffron colour.


A major part of the Christian population in Maharashtra State resides in Greater Bombay and Thane districts. Most Christian festivals are observed with rituals which are common around the whole world. The social practices associated with these festivals vary from people to people and country to countiy. Christians in Maharashtra live mainly on the coastal regions and have mainly been farmers and fishermen. Their festivals bear the marks of these ancestral avocations.

The Christian year is a series of feasts, commemorating the expectation, birth, life, death, resurrection and glory of Christ and is a continual reminder of His teachings. The year is divided into cycles of festivals which are incorporated in the liturgy of the official prayers of the Church, the most important of which is the mass.

The mass is a sacramental representation of the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary and of his last supper and is offered daily by every priest. A large number of people attend the daily mass. The Sunday mass is obligatory on all Catholics and includes a sermon. It is a common sight to see churches crowded on Sundays with worshippers dressed in their best clothes. Sunday mass fosters religious devotion and also offers an opportunity for meetings and social contacts among the people.

The prayers of the mass vary to some extent according to the cycle of feasts and it is through the mass that seasonal festivals are emphasised and celebrated. The main annual cycle of festivals is called the temporal cycle and follows the sequence of the life of Christ. This cycle is divided into three parts : Christmas, Easter and Pentecost. The cycles of these great feasts are divided into three periods, the time before, during and after the feast, their purpose being to prepare for the feasts, to allow them to be celebrated with solemnity and to prolong them for several weeks.

Along with the main cycle of feasts is a lesser one called the sanctoral cycle comprising the feasts of saints.

The Christmas cycle commemorates the incarnation of Christ, that is, his assuming the nature of man. The period of preparation of Christmas, which marks the beginning of the Christian calendar, is a penitential period of four weeks called Advent. Advent represents four millenniums before Christ, during which the particulars and prophets of the Old Testament foretold and awaited the coming of Christ. During these weeks, the liturgy remembers the fall of the first man, the consequent misery of humanity and the longing for the promised Messiah so eloquently expressed in the Old Testament.

The Christmas season starting with Christmas Day, December 25, celebrates the happy event of Christ's birth. Following, upon Advent, it is a season of great joy, because of the gladding of Christ's birth. The Christmas mass is celebrated at midnight; priests wear white vestments, the organ is played and the key note is universal joy.

Correspondingly in every Christian home, Christmas is a joyful family feast. There are prevalent in Maharashtra many western customs such as the exchange of greeting cards, the singing of carols on the nights preceding Christmas and the building of Christmas cribs representing the birth of Christ in a stable at Bethlehem. To the building of such cribs much ingenuity and artistic skill is devoted. One of the customs which may have originated in this country itself is the exchange of choice Christmas sweets, the variety and fineness of which are matters of family pride.

The Christmas festival season extends over two weeks and includes the New Year day on January 1. Though this festival has no religious significance, it has become a joyous practice to hold a midnight service to bring in the New year. On the social plane, dances and parties are held throughout the night to usher in the new year in a jubilant mood.

The sixth of January is Epiphany and marks the visit of the Three Wise Men of the East to the Infant Jesus. Liturgically, Epiphany is of great significance because it is the first manifestation of Christ's Divinity to the world. Some weeks after Christmas begins the annual forty day season of prayer and penance called Lent, to correspond with the forty days fast that Christ undertook before beginning his ministry. Lent starts with Ash Wednesday, usually in February, on which day people are marked with the Cross in ash as a reminder of death that comes to all. Lent begins with this sombre awareness of human destiny and lasts upto Easter Eve.

Lent is the period of contemplation of the teaching s, sufferings and death of Christ and a sharing in them through penance. The churches are crowded during this season and the prayers of the mass are full of reminders to do penance. The last two weeks of Lent are called Parsion Weeks, when the altars are stripped bare and statues draped in purple and no organ is played in Church. With the last Sunday in Lent, Palm Sunday, begins the Holy Week. On this day, blessed palms are distributed and processions are held in remembrance of the entry of Christ into Jerusalem just before his betrayal and death, when he was welcomed by the people with waving palms.

The main events of the Holy Week are on Thursday and Friday. Thursday, called Maundy Thursday, is the day of Christ's Last Supper when he instituted the Holy Eucharist and of his agony in the garden and betrayal of Judas. The ceremonies in the Church aie mainly devotional dramatisations of the events.

There is the washing of the feet of twelve selected people, usually from among the poor by the priests to represent the washing of the feet of the twelve apostles by Christ before the last supper as an act of humility. The Blessed Sacrament is exposed on Thursday night through Friday and worshippers make frequent visits to the Blessed Sacrament.

Friday called Good Friday, commemorates the death of Christ on the Cross. In the afternoon, from 3 o'clock, to coincide with Christ's agony, on the Cross, there is special adoration of the Cross, after which take place dramatic representations of Christ on the Cross, the taking down of his body from the Cross, the grieving of Mary, his mother over the dead body, the procession to the grave and burial. All these ceremonies of Holy Week are conducted with much solemnity and seriousness. People wear mourning dress, white or black. Bell and music are stilled; only a harsh wooden clapper is used to call attention to the chief parts of the ceremonies.

Easter Sunday marks the end of Lent and commemorates the joyful resurrection of Christ from the grave. It is liturgically, the principal feast of the year and all the movable feasts are dated from it. It occurs on the first Sunday after the full moon after the spring equinox and thus correspondent to the ancient festival of spring. It also coincides with the old Jewish festival of Passover or release from Egyptian bondage.

The ceremonies of Easter Sunday, like those of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are lengthy and solemn. Easter Sunday liturgy starts well before midnight on Holy Saturday with the blessing of holy water. During the service, the sorrow of Holy Week is dramatically replaced by the joy of Easter with the pealing of bells, the playing of the organs and the chanting of the old Jewish hymn of praise, Alleluia. A significant symbol of Easter is the Paschal candle, a specially blessed candle that marks the victory of Christ over the darkness of sin and death. This candle is kept lighted in the Churches on all the Sundays of the Easter season.

Socially, Easter is second only to Christmas in importance. It is also a family festival. In the days immediately after Easter, the priest visits every house in his parish and blesses the houses with the newly blessed holy water. In Bombay, this rite is quickly gone through but in towns and villages, it is a very special occasion. However, the houses are painted and kept in repairs for it and all the home members make it a point to be present for the occasion.

Since the solemnising of weddings is not allowed during Lent, Easter brings in the wedding season. Weddings among Christians are celebrated with much pomp and gaiety and this adds to the joyousness of the Easter season.

 Forty days after Easter is the feast of Ascension of Christ into Heaven. Ten days after is Pentecost Sunday, as important as Easter, for it marks the descent of the Holy Ghost on the apostles and the gift of the tongues to them, and consequently it is the birthday of the Church. For it was on Pentecost Sunday that the apostles began their first converts.

Pentecost is almost the last of the great feasts connected with the life and death of Christ. A few days after, is the feast of Corpus Christi or of the Blessed Sacrament which is celebrated now because the actual day of its institution, Maundy Thursday, comes in a season of penance and mourning. The feast of Corpus Christi is kept up in different churches on different Sundays with a day-long adoration and processions and its celebration becomes the annual parish or church feast.

The Friday of the week after Corpus Christi is the feast of the Sacred Heart, the feast of the love and providence showed to men by Christ, God and man, Redeemer and Sanctifier. Then after a period of Sundays, the cycle comes full circle with the beginning of Advent. Side by side with the main cycle of feasts relating to Christ himself, is the annual calendar of saints' feasts.

The most important of these are the various feasts of Mary, St. Joseph, the apostles, the angels, important saints and saints held in local veneration.

The principal feasts of Mary, mother of Christ, are connected with the main events of her life, beginning with the immaculate conception or her conception free from the taint of original sin, on December 8. The other feasts of Mary are her Nativity on September 8, the Annuncia­tion or the day when the future birth of Christ was revealed to her, the feast of her sorrows when she shared in the passion of her son and her Assumption when after death, she was assumed into heaven, this last feast coinciding with the day of India's Independence, August 15.

Besides these feasts of the Calendar, the month of May is especially dedicated to Mary and in the evenings of this month, people and especially children, gather for devotion to Mary, Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, every Wednesday at St. Michael's Church, Mahim, which is attended by several thousands, week after week, all round the year.

The most popular of these feasts is the feast of Mary's Nativity on September 8 which coincides with the feast of the famous shrine of Our Lady of the Mount in Bandra. Here, the feast is kept up for a week and there is a constant stream of devotees and pilgrims at the shrine with offerings and petitions. A fair is also held below the mount at the time of the feast. Several hundred thousand people visit this famous mount near the sea to venerate the ancient statue that is held to be miraculous.

On November 1, is the feast of all Saints, followed the next day by the feast of All Souls, a day of prayers and remembrance of the dead. In the month of May is yet another special devotion to the Holy Cross, specially in Salsette and Vasai. The countryside in these predominantly Christian areas is dotted with crosses erected on roadsides, or on hill­sides or on the seashore, some built into special shrines and chapels and all tended with care. During May, for the feast of the Holy Cross occurs in this month, people of the nearby villages gather at the cross every evening for prayers and after the service, the gathering remains as a social meeting, reinforcing friendship.

At the end of June is the feast of St. Peter, the chief apostle of the first Pope. Peter was a fisherman and so to the Christian fishermen in Greater Bombay, this day is a patronal feast and is celebrated with much verve and pomp.

Among the local festivals aie the feasts of St. Gonsalo Garcia, February 5, the first Indian born saint, chiefly venerated in Vasai, and the older and more wide spread feast of St. Francis Xavier, the great apostle of the East and the patron saint of India whose body is venerated in Goa and whose feast is celebrated with much enthusiasm in Bombay on December 3.


Not more than a hundred thousand in all, the Parsees form a small but a very important community in India. A heavy concentration of them is to be found in Greater Bombay. Their festivals are called Jashans. The Parsee year according to present reckoning has 365 days. There are twelve months of 30 days each and extra five days are added at the end of the 12th month. Each day as well as each month is dedicated to a presiding deity the Creator Ahura Mazda (later Hormazd), the omniscient Lord or His spiritual Beings and named accordingly after presiding deity. The last additional five days of the year are dedicated to the deities presiding over the five gathas or the hymns composed by the Prophet Zoroaster, and they are named accordingly.

The Parsee year begins with the first day Hormazd of the first month, Farvardin and ends with the last gatha day, viz., Vashishtoist. The Jashans or the festivals of the Parsees have religious, seasonal and historical importance. They are divided into three groups. It is, however, difficult to divide the Jashans in exclusive groups. Religious importance permeates all Jashans, e.g., Jashan of the birthday of the Prophet has historical as well as religious importance. Similarly the seasonal festivals are also religious festivals. The Jashans are celebrated on solemn as well as festive occasions. On the solemn occasions, the Parsees rise early, take bath and spend time in prayer and ceremony and in attending the fire temple and religious congregation. On the Jashans of festive occasions the Parsees rise early, decorate their houses with flowers and rangoli prints, a sign of good omen. They celebrate the seasonal festivals known as Gahambars.

In their prayers and ceremonies, Parsees offer homage to Ahura Mazda, Amesha Spentas and Yazatas. They offer thanksgiving and invoke blessing of God for spiritual and material welfare of all mankind, the country, the community and the family. In the formula of Articles of Faith, Parsees pledge themselves to follow the path of piety and virtue, to put into practice the principle of good thought, good word and good deed, taught by the Prophet.

On the Jashan or festival days generally, the Jashan ceremony is per­formed in the fire temple or in private houses where there are facilities for the same. In the Zoroastrian ceremonies, the fire plays an important part. It is regarded as representative of God, and as such, presence of fire in Zoroastrian ceremonies is absolutely necessary. Other requisites are water, fruits, flowers and milk. Prayers of thanks giving are offered and blessings are invoked. After prayers and ceremonies on festive occasions, Parsees spend time in rejoicing. They prepare special dishes on the occasion. Besides the ordinary dishes, they prepare special sweet dishes of sev (vermicelli), ravo, a. sweet dish made of wheat flour, ghee, sugar and milk and curd, dhan (rice), and dal patio, a dish of fish.

The principal festivals observed by Parsees are given below: (Although this narrative is of great interest for studying the traditional customs of Zoroastrians, very few of the festivals are celebrated by the Parsees of Bombay who are a highly urbanised section.)

1.Navroz : This is the New Year Day celebrated on the 1st day Hormazd. It is also known as Pateti wrongly pronounced as Papeti. It is a day of repentance, because this is the day on which Parsees take stock of what was done in the preceding year and recite prayers of repentance. On this day, they pray, invoke blessings of God, send good wishes to relatives, friends and acquaintances. They greet each other and do hamazor (united in strength) by joining both hands with those of others and by wishing sal mubarak, may new year be auspicious. Parsee women also greet in the same manner. Often they embrace each other in affection while pronouncing the words of greetings, blessings and good wishes. On this day, Parsees send presents to relatives, friends, subordinates and dependents. They perform acts of charity, particularly by giving alms to the poor in cash or kind and also to the sick and the needy.

2.Rapithvin : It means mid-day and is celebrated on the 3rd day, Ardibehesht. This was the festival in ancient Iran and it announced the advent of the hot season. According to Parsee reckoning, a day is generally divided into five gahs or watches. Rapithvin is the second watch beginning with noon or midday and extending upto 3 p.m. It is, therefore, the hottest part of the day.

The prayer of Rapithvin gah is recited only in the first seven months and not in the last five months of the year. The Rapithvin Jashan is celebrated to mark the return of the Rapithvin gah. Strictly speaking, the prayer for Rapithvin gah is recited from the first day of the month Farvardin, but it is officially celebrated on the 3rd day, Ardibehesht because, the 3rd day is dedicated to Ardibehesht Amshaspand who presides over the 2nd watch of the day and also over heat and fire.

3.Khordad Sal : This means the year beginning with day Khordad. This is observed, as the name implies, on the sixth day, Khordad. This day is observed as birthday of the Prophet Zoroaster. The recorded birthday of the Prophet is the first day Hormazd of the first month Farvardin; but it appears that the first day Hormazd of the Eastern provinces of Iran corresponded with the sixth day, Khordad of the western provinces. This Jashan of the day Khordad was also known in ancient Iran as "Navrozi Buzurg" the great new year day. Many events of religious and historical importance are stated to have taken place on this day Khordad of the month Farvardin.

4.Farwardagan Jashan : This means Jashan of Farohar or the guardian spirits. It is celebrated on the 19th day, Farvardin. This is the Jashan of the solemn occasion of remembering the soul and guardian spirits of the departed Zoroastrians particularly of those who departed during the preceding year. On this day, the Parsees generally visit the fire temple, near the Tower of Silence and ceremonies in honour of the souls and Farohars of the departed persons are performed there.

5.Ardibehesht Jashan : This is celebrated on the 3rd day Ardibehesht in honour of Ardibehesht Amshaspand.

6.Maidyozarem Gahambar : This is celebrated on any one or all of the five days from the 11th day, Khorshed, to the 15th day, Daepmeher. This was the festival of mid-spring in ancient Iran when the creations of Nature are full of sap and milk.

7.Khordad Jashan : Jashan of Khordad is celebrated on the 6th day, Khordad, in honour of Khordad Amshaspand.

8.Tiryan Jashan : Jashan of Tir celebrated on the 13thday. Tir, in honour of Tishtrya (Tir Yazat) who presides over rain and brings rain water and prosperity to the country.

9.Mydyoshem Gahambar : This is a seasonal festival of mid-summer. This is celebrated on any one or all of the five days from the 11th day, Khorshed to the 15th day Daepmeher. This was the festival of the season of cutting grass in ancient Iran.

10.Amardad Jashan : Jashan of Amardad is celebrated on the 7th day. Amardad, in honour of Amardad of Amshaspand presiding over immortality  and vegetation.

11.Shaharewar Jashan : Jashan of Shaharewar is celebrated on the 4th day Shaharewar in honour of Shaharewar Amshaspand presiding over holy kingdom of God and metals.

12.Paitishahem Gahambar : This is the festival of the harvesting season. The Jashan is celebrated on any one or all of the five days from the 26th day, Astad to the 30th day Aneran. This was the festival of the season of harvesting foodgrains in ancient Iran.

13.Mehragan Jashan : This is Jashan of Meher and is celebrated on the 16th day Meher. Meher (Avesta Mithra, Vedic Mitra) is the Yazata presiding over sunlight, truth and justice. The Jashan in honour of Meher was celebrated in ancient times with great pomp and rejoicing. This was the festival of the Sun. In ancient times, Iranian sun-worship had spread in Asia Minor, Greece, Rome and also in other countries of Europe. In ancient times, the first day Hormazd of the 7th Month Meher was the day of autumnal equinox; but it appears that the Jashan was celebrated on the 16th day Meher. In pre-historic times, the Iranian year began with autumnal equinox.

14.Jamshedi Navroz : This is new year day of King Jamshed. It is celebrated on the 21st of March of the Christian calendar. This Jashan is popularly observed in recent times in Iran and the adjacent countries. It was instituted primarily for revenue purposes in 1099 A.C. by Sultan Jalal-ud-in Malikshah, the King of Persia on the advice of his Grand Vazir Omar Khayyam. It is tied down to the Gregorian Christian calendar and the new year (Jamshedi Navroz) is fixed on the 21st of March. As stated above, members of the Fasli sect of Parsees celebrate their Navroz or New Year day on March 21 and other festivals accordingly.

15.Ayathrem Gahambar : This is the festival of the season of returning to winter residence. It is celebrated on any one or all the five days from the 26th day of Asad to the 30th day Aneran. In ancient times, this was the festival of the season of returning,of the cattle to winter residence and of the mating season of the animals.

16.Avan Jashan : This festival of Avan is celebrated on the 10th day Avan. This Jashan is in honour of Avan, the Yazata presiding over celestial waters and beneficient currents of Nature. On this day, the Parsees generally go to the nearest sea or river and offer prayers to Avan Yazat. They offer flowers, sugar, milk and coconut to the waters of the sea or of the river or of the well.

17. Adargan Jashan : This Jashan of Adar is celebrated on the 9th day, Adar. Adar or Atar Yazat presides over the fire. Particularly on this day, the Parsees go to the fire temple and offer homage to the holy fire.

18.Farvardin Jashan : This is a Jashan in honour of Farohar or the guardian spirits and is celebrated on the 19th day Farvardin. From the 5th century of the Christian era up to the 11th century in intercalated year the fire epagomaenae (the Gatha days) were kept after the month Avan. Hence the Adar was the first month of intercalated year; and as such it had the same importance as the first month Farvardin of the non-intercalated year. The 19th day, Farvardin is, therefore, celebrated as the Farvardagan Jashan which is celebrated on the 19th day Farvardin of the first month Farvardin.

19.Dae Dadar Jashan : Jashan of Dae Dadar is celebrated on the 1st day, Hormazd, 8th Day Daepadar, 15th day Daepmeher, 23rd day Daepdin or any one of these days. The Jashan is celebrated in honour of the Creator, Ahura Mazda.

20.Jashan-i-Sadeh : This is the festival of the 100th day celebrated on the 10th day Avan. Traditionally, this festival was instituted by the Iranian King Hoshang of the Peshdadian dynasty in pre-historic times. Tradition says that King Hoshang accidentally discovered fire and insti­tuted this Jashan in thanksgiving for this divine gift of God and in commemoration of that event. It appears that in ancient Iran this festival marked the approach of winter. According to Bundahishn, the approach of winter was announced by igniting fires on the 9th day Adar of the 10th month, Dae. It appears that the Jashan was celebrated on the next day i.e., on the 10th day Avan. It is called the festival of the 100th day, because the 10th day Avan of the tenth month Dae is the 100th day after the first day. Hormazd of the 7th month Meher which was in ancient times, the day of autumnal equinox, which was the day of new year's day in Iran in pre-historic times, as noted above (see Mehragan Jashan).

21.Disa Jashan : Jashan of the day of death of Zoroaster is cele­brated on the 11th day, Khorshed. This day is traditionally observed as the day of passing away of the Prophet Zoroaster though the recorded day of his death is the 11th day, Khorshed of the 2nd month Ardibehesht. Jashan and other ceremonies are performed in the fire temples and in the houses of Zoroastrians. Prayers are offered, public meetings are held and lectures are delivered on the life and religion of the Prophet.

22. Maidyarem Gahambar : This is the seasonal festival of mid­winter. It is celebrated on any one or all of the five days from the 16th day Meher to the 20th day Behram. This is a festival of winter.

23.Bahman Jashan : Jashan of Bahman is celebrated on the 2nd day Bahman. The Jashan ceremony is performed in honour of Bahman,the Amshaspand, presiding over animal kindgom. Throughout this month, particularly on the second day Bahman, the 12th day Mohor, the 14th day Gosh and the 21st day Ram, the Zoroastrians abstain from taking flesh. They make special arrangements to give fodder to animals and to give in charity for the welfare of animals.

24.Aspandarmad Jashan : The Jashan of Aspandarmad is celebrated on the 5th day, Aspandarmad. The Jashan ceremony is performed in honour of Aspandarmad who presides over the earth. This Jashan is also known as Jashan-i-Burzi-garan, the festival of the cultivators. Culti­vation of land is an act of merit in the Zoroastrian religion. It is stated that one who cultivates land cultivates holiness and promotes religious virtue and industry. This is the Jashan of the deity presiding over the earth and hence it is a special festival of the farmers and cultivators of land.

25.Farvardagan Jashan : This is a festival in honour of Farohars, It is celebrated during the last ten days of the year from the 26th day, Astad to the 30th day Aneran (the five lesser days) and the five gatha days (the five greater days).

The last ten days of the Parsee year are specially dedicated to the Farohars (Avesta fravashi or the guardian spirits of the departed Zoroa­strians). The ceremonies are performed in honour of Farohars. According to the Zoroastrian belief, the Farohars of the departed Zoroastrians visit their family residence in this world during the last ten days of the year. These days of Farvardagan are, therefore, celebrated with religious zeal and fervour. The houses are cleaned and whitewashed. A place is set apart for keeping vases and vessels containing holy water and flowers, the emblem of the Farohars. The days are spent in prayers, ceremonies and acts of charity.
These ten days are also known as muktad holidays. This word muktad is a corrupt form of the Sanskrit muktaatman which is Sanskrit translation of Avesta ashamnam, the first word of the prayer specially recited in honour and remembrance of the Farohars.

The last day of the year viz., the fifth gatha day is popularly called Navroz but in ancient writings, it is correctly called the night of Navroz, in other words the new year's eve, which it really is.

26.Hamaspathmaedem Gahambar : This is the seasonal festival of approaching spring. It is celebrated on any one or all the five gatha days. This is the seasonal festival marking the end of winter and approaching spring. It is also the time set apart for performing religious duties and meritorious deeds.


There are quite a good number of Sikhs in Bombay. Most of them have migrated to Bombay in pursuit of industry, trade, and other jobs.They hold gurparbs to commemorate the Gurus. Famous among the gurparbs are those connected with birthdays of Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh, and martyrdom of Guru Arjun Dev and Guru Teg Bahadur.

1. Guru Nanak's Birthday : This festival, 'Gurparb' as it is called, falls on Katak (Kartik) Sud 15 i.e., the full moon day and is celebrated in honour of the great saint, Guru Nanak, the first of the ten gurus of the Sikh religion. The day is celebrated as the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak who was born in 1469.

The celebrations commence some 48 hours before the actual day when the recitation of akhandpath of Granth Sahib begins at a convenient place or at the Gurudwara. Four to five granthis are posted to recite the holy scripture turn by turn for two hours each. A sevadar (attendant), is appointed to co-ordinate the function and look after the comforts of the persons who recite the Granth Sahib. Dhupias (incense-burners) burn incense beside the Swari of Maharaj i.e., the throne where the holy book is recited, day and night till the bhog ceremony is over.A jyoti (flame) fed with pure ghee is kept burning during the period of the akhand  path. It takes 48 hours to complete the recitation of the holy book.

After the completion of the recitation of the Granth Sahib (which is over on the actual day of celebration i.e., Katak Sud 15), a kirtan is held at the same place followed by a katha, an explanation of the holy word of the guru from the holy book. The life story of Guru Nanak is told by prominent people. A kavi darbar and singing of orders are held thereafter. The karah parshad is then distributed among all those Who are present at the time. The end of the function is the guru ka langar (free kitchen) which is open to all persons without any distinction of caste, race, creed, sex, etc. All the persons rich and poor sit in one row and eat the food cooked in the same kitchen. It is all vegetarian. The devotees offer cash, flour, pulses, sugar, etc. for the langar.

A procession of the photograph of Guru Nanak is also taken out on this festival. It is attended by many Sikhs.

2. Baisakhi : This is another important festival of the Sikhs and falls always on the 13th of April of every year. It is an important festival for the Sikhs for the simple reason that on this day, Guru Gobind Singh gave a militant aspect to the followers of Guru Nanak and raised an army of saint sepoys to fight the brutalities of the Moghul Emperors. When Guru Teg Bahadur was beheaded in Delhi, Guru Gobind Singh took up the cudgels against the mighty Moghul Empire with supreme courage and determination. He realised that a strong mass and a band of faithful, selfless volunteers, sparked with patriotism and vigour were needed to defend the Dharma.

On the Baisakhi day, Guru Gobind Singh and his Five Beloved ones, fully dressed in military uniforms were seated on a raised platform. Explaining the purpose of the meeting, the Guru told them that he wanted to form an organisation of men who would profess unflinching devotion to the Khalsa i.e., one who is pure and whose code of conduct would be marked by self-abnegation and self-immolation. Their duty will be to protect the weak from tyranny and cheerfully lay down their lives to protect their Dharma. They will observe perfect equality among all with­out making any distinction on the basis of caste, creed, religion, sex etc. Guru Gobind Singh, therefore, instituted the custom of baptism by water stirred with a khanda, a double-edged sword. He replaced the old institution of "Charan Panhal" (i.e., drinking the water with which the Guru had taken bath) which was in vogue ever since the time of Nanak. Sons of the sword, the Sikhs, were from henceforth given the name of ' Singhs' or lions.

The Baisakhi day is celebrated in Bombay on two days, viz., 12th and 13th April. The former is called Baisakhi-Di-Raat and the latter as Baisakhi-Da-Mela when many cultural and other entertaining programmes such as folk songs, dogri songs, bhangra, etc. are arranged in the evening at spacious places like the Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium. It is also celebrated in the Gurudwara in the same manner as the celebration of Guru Nanak's birthday. The amrit chakhna (baptism ceremony) is also performed on the same day. Baisakhi happens to be also the New Year's day.

3.Hola Mohalla : This is an important festival of the Sikh community and it synchronises with the Hindu festival of Holi which is celebrated on Phalgun Sud. 15. The Hola Mohalla festival is, however, celebrated for three days viz., Phalgun Sud. 14, Sud. 15 and Chaitra Vad. 1.

The religious part of the festival is the same as described in respect of the festival on account of the birthday of Guru Nanak, and it is cele­brated with great pomp and vigour at Anandpur in the Punjab. The day's celebrations begin 48 hours before the main day i.e., Chaitra Vad. 1. On this day, a procession is carried out and arms are prominently displayed. Even ' mock' battles are arranged with a view to imparting training to the younger ones in the use of arms. This was essential in the early history of the Sikh religion since they had to give a tough fight against the Muslim invaders. The offensive attack thus arranged in the mock manoeuvre is called halla, a severe offensive attack. This festival is typically celebrated by the Sikh community at Nanded.

4.Guru Arjun's Martyrdom Day : This is the day on which Guru Arjun Dev was done to death by the then Muslim ruler of North India. He was the fifth Guru of the Sikhs. He became a guru on the death of Guru Ram Dass, his father, in 1581 A.D. Guru Arjun Dev used to preach the teachings of Guru Nanak and in his era, many non-Sikhs were drawn to Sikhism voluntarily. Even some of the Muslims accepted Sikhism. This was not tolerated by the Moghul Emperor. The Guru was summoned to Lahore and was made a prisoner and was handed over to Murtuza Khan who was told that the Guru should be made to embrace Islam or else tortured to death. Since Murtuza Khan failed to convert him to Islam, he handed him over to a Hindu Minister, Chandulal, who had developed enmity with the Guru ever since the latter had disagreed to the marriage proposal between the Guru's son Har Gobind and his daughter. The Guru was tortured in many ways. It is said that he was made to sit on a red hot iron plate, burning sand was poured over his body, etc. He could not withstand all these tortures and ultimately died in 1606 A.D. This^happened on Jyeshtha Sud. 4 and the day is celebrated as the martyrdom day of Guru Arjun Dev, the first martyr of the Sikhs. He was a gifted poet and compiled the Adi Granth (the nucleus of the Granth Sahib) in 1604 and he was the first Guru to introduce a new type of dress for the Guru.

5.Guru Nanak's Death Anniversary : Since Guru Nanak happens to be the first Guru of the Sikhs, he occupies an important place in the Sikh religion. The passing away of Guru Nanak is, therefore, celebrated as a solemn day. It is held on Ashwin (Assoo) Vad. 10 and on this day, the life and teachings of Guru Nanak are preached to the audience. A proces­sion of a portrait of Nanak is taken out from the main parts of the city and it ends either at a Gurudwara or at a public place where a pandal is constructed. Like the birthday of the great Guru these celebrations also commence 48 hours before the main day i.e., on Asoo Vad. 8. The celebrations end with a Guru Ka langar.

6. Guru Teg Bahadur's Martyrdom Day : The martyrdom day of Guru Teg Bahadur, the 9th Guru of the Sikhs is observed on Maghar (Marga-shirsha Sud. 5). On the death of Guru Har Krishna, he became the ninth guru of the Sikhs in 1664. During his tenure, the community was divided into many factions. Nevertheless, he could carry out the work of spreading the Sikh religion. He loved peace and quietude. In order to protest against the tyranny of the Muslims, he personally went to Delhi to tell Aurangzeb about converting to Islam by force. He was encouraged in his mission by his only son Govind Rai who subsequently became the tenth and last guru. His son at that time was a child of eight years. He was persuaded to accept the creed of Islam. However, Aurangzeb's efforts bore no fruits. The Guru was slain and was cut into four pieces and the fragments were hung on the four gates of Delhi. The place where the Guru was sacrificed bears the name Sis Gunj and is situated in Chandani Chowk in Delhi. This happened on Margashirsha (Maghar) Sud. 5 which is observed as a martyrdom day of Teg Bahadur.

7. Guru Gobind Singh's Birthday : This is observed on Paush (Poh) Sud.7. Guru Gobind Singh was the last guru of the Sikhs and it was he who established the Khalsa. It was founded in order to give a united and strong fight to the Muslims who were persecuting the Hindus and others perpetually. He also discontinued the practice of successions of gurus and in their place, the Granth Sahib was installed.

Gobind Singh became a Guru of the Sikhs at the tender age of 9. He was a man of the noble character, selfless devotion and so he occupies a unique place in the Sikh religion. The way of celebrating the birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh is the same as that of Guru Nanak.

8.Basant Panchami : The festival falls on Magh Sud. 5 and is cele­brated to commemorate the day on which Guru Har Gobind (the 6th Guru) liberated the 52 captives from the Gwalior Fort. The yellow colour occupies a prominent place in this festival probably because the rabi crop of mustard is ripe at this time and it takes a yellow colour. On this day, the Sikhs usually wear yellow clothes and even in the preparation of certain dishes, the yellow colour is used. It is a very charming scene to see yellow colour all around.

9.Prakash Din : This festival is observed on Bhadan (Bhadrapad) Sud. 1 when the Grantha Sahib was first read over. It is celebrated to commemorate the compilation of the holy Grantha Sahib. The manner of celebrating this festival is the same as of other festivals.

All the Sikh festivals are celebrated in one set fashion. The celebration of the festival begins 48 hours prior to the festival day when the continuous recitation of the holy Grantha Sahib begins. It is concluded on the day of the festival when a kirtan is held. It is followed by lectures on the life of the Guru in whose honour the festival is held and a kavi darbar. The ardas is said and the distribution of karah prasad marks the conclusion of the function. The day's functions end with the Guruka langar, the free kitchen, which is open to all irrespective of caste, creed, religion, etc.


The Jains form only 1.5 per cent of the total population of Maharashtra, but in Greater Bombay they are 32.07 per cent of the total population. They belong to two groups viz., Murti-pujaka and Sthanakvasi. The former are again divided into Shwetambara and Digambara sects. The theory of the origin of the two sects is that Parasnath, the 23rd Tirthankara, wore clothes while Mahavira, the 24th, did not, and the two sects follow their respective examples. The Digambaras now wear ochre coloured and the Shwetambaras wear white clothes. The principal difference at present is that the images in Digambara temples are naked and bare while those of the Shwetambaras are clothed and also decorated with ornaments and jewellery.

Pandit Sukhalaji, a renouned Jain scholar states, "It is a distinguishing character of the Jain festivals that none of them, however, small or big, celebrates or extols a desire for acquisition or self-gratification or a feeling of fear, temptation or astonishment. Whatever the occasion for the festival, a landmark in the life of the Tirthankaras or something else, the sole objective of the relevant celebrations is knowledge and the purification and perfection of character."

The following are some of the important festivals observed by the Jain community :—

  1. New Year Day {Veer Samvat) : This is celebrated on Kartika Sud. 1 on which day, the Veer Samvat begins, It is believed that the first Gandara (disciple) -Gautama achieved the ultimate knowledge of omniscience (kevaladnyana) at the dawn of this day when he overcame his attachment to his guru, Lord Mahavira, the last and 24th Tirthankara who attained nirvana on the previous day which is observed as Diwali day.
  2. Dnyana Panchami : This festival falls on the 5th day of the bright half of Kartika. On this day, the Jains are considered to acquire spiritual knowledge in the uplift of the soul. There is a legend about this festival which is connected with Prince Varadatta. Religious books are to be worshipped on this day. Incense sticks are to be burnt before them and a design of swastika is to be drawn with five types of grains, rice and flowers. Sweet dishes should be offered and a lamp of five is to be lighted. By observing the austerities, Varadatta and Gunamanjari were cured of their diseases and became happy. Those who are unable to celebrate the fifth day of the bright half of every month in this manner can celebrate the fifth day of the bright half of Kartika. They offer special worship and pay respects to sadhus and sadhvis and attempt to acquire more knowledge. A similar festival called Shuta Panchami is observed by Digambara Jains on Jyeshtha Sud. 5 on which day their saints Pushdanta and Bhutabali completed the writing of the sacred book, Shatakhandagama which is worshipped by all Jains.
  3. Chaturmasi Chaturdashi : This festival falls on Kartika Sud. 14 which is the last day of chaturmasa (the months of rainy season) which begins with Ashadha Sud. 14. During this period free movements of Jain monks are prescribed with a view to avoiding the possible destruction of germs, vegetation, etc. They ate ordained to stay at one place during this period. Even pilgrimages to holy places such as Shatrunjaya hills near Palitana are prohibited.
  4. Kartika Pournima : This is the day on which the austerities of chatur­masa undertaken by Jain ascetics are ended. The day has a special significance. The austerities of chaturmasa undertaken by Jains are ended on this day and prohibited food can be taken from this day after observance of quarterly pratikramana. On the occasion of pratikramana, Jains observe fast for two days on 14th and 15th of Kartika which is called chhath. Sadhus who are prohibited from moving from one place to another during the period of chaturrnasa, are free to start on their journeys. Mount Shatrunjaya, one of the holiest places of Jain pilgrimage, which remains closed during the chaturrnasa period is opened on this day and many people go on a pilgrimage to that city of temples. Some of the Jains who cannot afford to visit this place, visit other nearby Jain tirthas. Others celebrate the function at home when the paintings of Shatrunjaya on cloth called pat are exhibited at the outskirts of the town. Devout Jains take darshan of the pat and refreshment of sweet drink is sometimes freely distributed amongst them.
  5. Mauna Ekadashi : This is observed on Margashirsha Sud. 11; mauna (silence) according to Jainism is a means of self-purification which gives mental peace to those who observe it. 150 kalyanaks, the holy days of the anniversaries of birth, nirvana, etc. of the Tirthankaras fall on this day which is regarded as very sacred. The anniversary of the birth, diksha and kevaladnyana of Mallinath, the 19th Tirthankara, also falls on this day.
  6. Paush Dashami : This festival is celebrated on the occasion of the anniversary of Lord Parshwanath, the 23rd Tirthankara on Margashirsha Vad. 10 called Paush Dashami. This is celebrated by chanting mantras with the observance of complete fast on the 10th and the partial fast on both, the preceding and succeeding days of Margashirsha Vad. 10. The use of luxurious articles, including soft bed etc., is avoided on this day. It is believed that those who observe this fast for ten years and ten months are blessed with moral> material and spiritual happiness.
  7. Meru Trayodashi : This festival is observed on Paush Vad. 13 in commemoration of the birth anniversary of Lord Adishwarji or Rishabh-dev, the first Tirthankara of the Jains. Special worship is offered on this day at temples where seven silver pots are placed one above the other in the form of a conical pile which is locally called meru and decorated with flags from all sides. A fast is also observed on this day in the usual manner.
  8. Rohini Vrata : This vrata is observed with a fast every year by Jain females in honour of Rohini, the queen of Ashoka, on the occasion of the nakshatra known as Rohini. The legend of king Ashoka and queen Rohini is narrated in this connection. With a view to receiving timely help from Paramatma like the queen, Jain females, observe this vrata for seven years and seven months.
  9. Aayambila Vrata : This vrata is observed from Chaitra Sud. 7 to 15 by devout Jains who take only one meal in a day in one sitting. The food which is without fat or oil, spices and sometimes salt is consumed during this period. Shripal Rasa is read in the Upashraya and other religious rites are also performed during the period.
  10. Mahavira Jayanti : This is celebrated by all sections of Jains with pomp and show on Chaitra Sud. 13 in commemoration of the birth of Lord Mahavira, the24th and last Tirthankara of the Jains. King Siddhartha and his wife Trishala who were devout followers of Parasnath, 23rd Jain Tirthankara gave birth to a child named as Vardhamana in 599 B.C. in Videha. After the birth of the child, the family gained much wealth and prosperity and so the child was named as Vardhamana who was later on known as Lord Mahavira. When he was twenty years old, his parents died and after two years, he succeeded in obtaining the permission of his elder brother and other relatives for adopting the ascetic way of life which was started on Kartika Vad. 10. He passed the next twelve years of his life in deep meditation and severe penance with hardships. Thus at the age of 42, he earned omniscience and attained the highest knowledge and kevaladnyana on Vaishakh Sud. 10 on the bank of the river Rujupati under a sal tree. In the next thirty years, he visited various places, including Mithila, Rajagriha, etc. and preached many vows. He attained nirvana in Ashwin (Aaso) Vad 30 in 527 B.C. at Parapuri.

    On the day of Mahavira Jayanti, Jains go to the temple of Mahavira or any other temple and perform religious ceremonies at shrines. Besides, morning processions are taken out with the idol of Mahavira and discourses on the life of Mahavira and his teachings are given with other religious and cultural programmes. Jains of the Digambara sect celebrate Veerashasana Jayanti on Shravan Vad. 1 on which day, Lord Mahavira after achieving omniscience gave his first religious sermons on Mount Vipulachala.
  11. Chaitra Pournima : On Chaitra Sud. 15, Jains visit the temples and offer prayers before a photographic chart of the Shatrunjaya hills. Those who can afford to visit the hills go on a pilgrimage there. The other celebrations are the same as those gone through on Kartika Pournima.
  12. Akshaya Tritiya : Akshaya Tritiya is considered as one of the most auspicious days of Jains. It is celebrated on Vaishakh Sud. 3. On this day, Rishabhdev, the first Tirthankara of Jains, broke his continuous fast undertaken for six months by accepting sugarcane juice from Shreyans, the king of Hastinapur. The idol of Rishabhdev is bathed with sugarcane juice and worshipped on this day.

    The varsi tap observed from Phalguna Vad. 8 to Vaishakh Sud. 3 of the following year by the Jains is terminated on this day. The vrata starts with a fast on Phalguna Vad. 8 and 9 and thereafter the fast is observed for alternate days. They have to observe fast on the 8th and 14th days of each lunar fortnight in spite of non-fasting days according to their turns. The fast observed for a year is terminated on this day by accepting sugarcane juice in small pots from relatives.

  13. Paryushana Parva : This is the most sacred festival among all festivals celebrated by Jains which provides an opportunity to observe continuous religious activities. Those who do not observe any religious activities on other days also perform religious acts at least during paryushana. Jains of both sects viz., Shvetambara and Digambara celebrate it with strict austerities though the period of celebration is altogether different.

    Shvetambaras observe this parva from Shravan Vad. 12 to Bhadrapad Sud. 4, especially for self-purification and is regarded as a mahan parva by Jains who observe complete or partial fast by taking only one meal in a day during the period of these eight days. Kalpasutra, an important Jain scripture written in Prakrit, narrates the lives of the first and last Tirthankaras and of other ancient saints and the preaching of the Tirthankaras is read out. At some places, the life stories concerning the important events in the lives of Lord Mahavira and the other prominent Tirthankaras viz., Rishabhdev, Parshwanath, Neminath etc., are read and explained to the gathering by monks and nuns.

    The samvatsari or the annual pratikramana which is the last of the five periodical pratikramanas or expiation of sins directed to be performed during Paryushana is celebrated on Bhadrapad Sud. 4 by the Jains who observe fast on this day. Greeting cards are exchanged amongst relatives and friends and each person asks forgiveness of his relatives, elders and friends for any verbal, mental or physical injury that he might have caused directly or indirectly in the last year.

    Though the birthday of Mahavira really falls on Chaitra Sud. 13, it is conveniently celebrated on the fifth day of this parva i.e., on Bhadrapad Sud. 1 on which day the metal idol of the Tirthankara, which is kept on a silver dish in a chariot specially decorated for this occasion is taken out in procession. Before starting the procession the devotees make bids for the priority of leading the procession. The highest bidder sits by the side of the idol in the chariot with men in front of it and women follow the chariot and sing songs in praise of Lord Mahavira. The procession terminates at the house of the highest bidder where the idol is kept for a day, is taken out through the main streets. Then, it is returned to the temple.

    The fast observed for eight days is broken on Bhadrapad Sud. 5. On this day, a procession of monks, nuns and devotees who observe fast is taken out which terminates at the temple.

    The Jains of the Digambara sect observe paryushana known as Dasalakshana parva from Bhadrapad Sud. 5 to 14 every year. In the mornings of these days, the eight-fold worship is offered and the gathering in the temple is explained, one of the ten dharmas contained in the Tatvarthasutra which is one of the holy scriptures of Jains. Most of the Jains observe complete fast on all these days, while some observe a partial fast by taking one meal a day. Anant Chaturdashi which falls on Bhadrapad Sud. 14 is the last day of this parva. It is considered a sacred day on which a fast is generally observed by all. Paryushana is one of the most important festivals of the Jains and so it is observed by all, poor and rich who also give donations for charitable purposes.

  14. Diwali : Jains celebrate Diwali as nirvana din or the day of emancipation of Lord Mahavira. This is a common festival to Jains as well as Hindus. The nirvana of Lord Mahavira took place at the age of 72 in 527 B.C. which is known as the commencement of the Jain era, Veer Nirvana Samvat.

    The nirvana of Lord Mahavira took place in the night of Diwali i.e., Ashwin Vad. 30 (amas). When Gautam Swami, the great saint who was away from the place came to know about the event, he was overwhelmed with grief and began to mourn. Afterwards, the supreme truth dawned on him and he attained kevaladnyana, on the day of Kartika Sud. 1, which is celebrated as a festival day. Diwali is also celebrated as the festival of light by illuminating houses with a number of lamps.

    Lord Mahavira is worshipped at midnight and early in the morning next day and mantras are chanted in honour of Lord Mahavira and Gautam Swami. The Jains meet their relatives and friends and the new year's greetings are exchanged. Though the ceremonies like lakshmipujana have no place in the Jain religion, they are performed at some places. Bhau Beej which falls on Kartika Sud. 2 is also celebrated by Jains as Sunanda, sister of Lord Mahavira hosted her other brother Nandivardhana with a view to comforting him in his grief at the nirvana of the Tirthankara. Thus, the festivals of Diwali, New Year and Bhau Beej are generally celebrated in a similar manner to Hindus but with some different religious backgrounds.


Most of the Jewish population in Maharashtra is concentrated in Bombay, Raigad, Thane and Pune districts. Except for a very small number of Jews of Iraqi or European origin in Greater Bombay, the bulk belongs to a single homogeneous section known as Bene Israel. This section adopted Marathi as its mother tongue. So far as religious ritual goes, there is little variation from the observations of Jews from other parts of the world but there are distinctive native features so far as social usages are concerned. In particular the Bene Israels have adopted their own Marathi names for their festivals and these names are still in frequent use, though their Hebrew or English equivalent tend progressively to replace them.

As the Jewish day commences and ends at sunset each festival begins at sunset of the preceding day and ends at sunset. Thus the Sabbath, which is observed on Saturday each week, actually commences at simset of Friday of our ordinary calendar and ends at sunset on Saturday. The Jews, Bene Israels as they are called in Maharashtra, observe the following important festivals and fasts during a year.

1.Rosh Hashanah : The First of Tishri or New Year's day. Jewish New Year's day used to be called navyacha san in the past. According to Jewish tradition, the first of Tishri ushers in the Days of Awe, known in Hebrew as the ' Yommim Noroim ". It is an occasion on which every Jew must strive to reconcile himself with the Almighty and with his fellowmen. Prayers are offered at the synagogue, the Jewish place of worship. On return from the synagogue on the New Year's Eve, a service is held in the evening when the seven things viz., sweetened apple (i.e. apple and honey), green garlic (with roots and leaves), beet root, dates, white pumpkin, fish and head of lamb or goat are kept on the table. After prayers the articles are shared by all those who are present. The meals are taken after this function.

The Rosh Hashanah is marked by much rejoicing among the Jews. A feast is held where mutton or sweets, in two or more varieties are highlights of the dinner. Family reunions are a special feature, sons, daughters and sons-in-law coming from far and near. New clothes and ornaments are worn. Fruits and home-made delicacies are sent after the midday meal to relatives and friends. Presents are given to married daughters and sons-in-law in the first year of their marriage.

This festival is also known by three different names and each name has a special meaning attached to it. It is known as the day of judgement when God, the King of kings judges the deeds of the people done during the last year. It is also called the day of remembrance i.e., it has a reference to the days when Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son at God's command. The other name given to the New Year's Day is the day of blowing the shofar. The blowing of a shofar is an important feature of the day's cele­bration. The shojar is a musical instrument made out of a ram's horn by flattening it by heat. In the old days, the blowing of shofar served many purposes viz., heralding the New Year, the crowning of the king, etc. When the shofar is blown on the New Year's Day, it means that a day of peace, prosperity and happiness will be ushered in. The festival promotes the solidarity of home life and contributes to the well-being of the family and the community. The first of Tishri always falls on Monday or Saturday.

2. Fast of Gedaliah : This fast which is observed on the 3rd of Tishri is one of the four fasts of community mourning. It is observed in memory of the murder of Gedaliah, the governor of the Jews. He was appointed by Nebuchadnezzar. His assassination brought great hardships to the Jewish people. The fast is called Gedaliahcha upavas. It is broken by consuming khir, a sort of pudding made of rice, coconut milk, sugar etc; and because of this custom, it appears that the day is known as khiricha san. A prayer is offered for the relief of the souls of dead relatives.

3.Yom Kippur : This is called kippurcha upavas among the local Bene Israels. A fast is observed on this festival which occurs on the 10th day of Tishri. Since the Jewish day begins at sunset, the fast of Yom Kippur starts from the sunset of the 9th of Tishri and ends at the sunset of the 10th of Tishri. As the Jewish calendar is arranged, the fast can commence only on Tuesday, Friday or Sunday at sunset. This festival is also known as the Day of Atonement and the 9th of Tishri is called the eve of Atonement. It is the great day of reconciliation between man and man and man and God. As a fast day, it is spent in a solemn manner. The Jews offer prayers for the forgiveness of sins which they might have committed and they solemnly resolve to abide by the law of God.

On the 9th of Tishri which is also called ' Malma ' by Bene Israels, they go to the synagogue and offer prayers with the congregation. While going to the synagogue, they wear white clothes. They take their meals in the morning and again at about 5 p.m. on 9th of Tishri and fast till the evening of the next day.

The old custom of closing doors, keeping aloof from others etc., is not followed so strictly now. Now-a-days, they go to the synagogue and offer prayers and observe a fast for a period of 24 hours. The fast is broken after the customary prayer is said by consuming sharbat made of black grapes, putis, etc. They greet each other by performing hat boshi i.e. joining of the palms. A light supper is cooked after sunset. It consists of rice cooked in coconut milk and a curry of mutton, foul or fish.

The next day i.e., the 11th of Tishri called shila san or Simbat Gohen is wholly spent in merriment and, entertaining relatives and friends in each other's homes. A special dinner is cooked and served. All wear their best clothes. Alms are given to the poor.

4.Feast of Tabernades : The festival of Sukkoth or Tabernades is known in Marathi as mandvacha san. It is celebrated for eight days from the 15th of Tishri to the 23rd. This festival which is known by different names has a historical and agricultural background. The feast of Tabernades reminds the Jews of ancient times when their ancestors were wandering from place to place to escape the wrath of the Egyptians. During their journey, they stayed in tents or booths and the protection offered in this way would have been insufficient but for the help of God. The Bible says " The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of Tabernades for seven days unto the Lord ". " Ye shall dwell in booths for seven days; that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt. "

In former days a sukkoth or booth used to be built with the help of leaves of the trees near the house. However due to changed times, a booth is constructed now-a-days near the synagogue where the local Jews con­gregate to offer prayers. Some also pass the night in the Succa. The other name given to the festival of Sukkoth is feast of ingathering. In the land of the ancestors of Jews, the month of Tishri is the harvest period of crops. The agricultuial aspect of this festival is given an expression in a custom followed by the Jews. When they go to the synagogue to offer prayers on this festival day, they carry invariably four different things wrapped together. These four things are citron, branch of a palm tree, myrtle branch and willow of the brook.

These four items represent the different kinds of Jews in this world. Citron has good taste and sweet smell. So there are Jews in this world who are learned and good. The palm tree has taste but no smell and hence represents Jews who are learned but not good. The myrtle which has smell but no taste reminds us of Jews who are good but not learned. The last i.e., the willow of the brook has neither smell nor taste. There are Jews who are neither good nor learned. Thus we must live with ail kinds of people.

The last two days of the festival are known as Shemini Azeret (22nd of Tishri) and Simath Torah (23rd of Tishri). Simath Torah marks the end of this festival when a great feast is held known as the Feast of the Rejoi­cing of Torah. Simath Torah marks the completion of the readings from Torah or the laws as recorded in the Bible at the synagogue services and the commencement of a new cycle. It can never fall on a Saturday.

5. Feast of Hannuccah : This is called the festival of lights and resembles to some extent the Diwali festival of the Hindus. It is observed for eight days from the 25th of Kislev to the 2nd or 3rd of Tebet, according asKislevhas 30 or 29 days. It is celebrated with much enthusiasm and fervour. It is dedicated to the idealism and heroism of the Jewish people as exemplified by the struggle and sufferings of the Maccabens.

When Jerusalem was recaptured by Judas Maccabens, they went to the temple. The priests started preparation for the ceremonies of rededication, but could not find oil for the temple memoram (lamps). They found only one small cruse of oil which was sufficient for burning the light for one day. But a miracle took place and the oil burned for eight days. These eight days are days of rejoicing and praise and on every night of these eight days, lights are lit near the door of the houses in order to display and reveal the miracle that was performed for Israel in olden days. It is customary to light Hannuccah lights on this festival. It is a stand made of metal or wood where eight small tiny glasses are either kept on or fixed to the stand to enable to hold the candles or oil in them. There is an additional tiny lamp glass known as  " Sammesh" lamp. The time of lighting them is immediately at the appearance of the stars.
The lights are lit at a height of about five feet from the ground in a frame specially provided for the purpose against the interior wall to the right as we get out of the front door. These lights are required to be stationed in such a way that their light should fall on the mezuza at the front door. The festival is spent in merry-making and in a most joyous way. Now-a-days, there are public functions for eight days when various items of entertainment are staged e.g., fancy dress competition, lyrics singing competition, debates, etc. Sweets and presents are distributed to children.

6.Fast of Tebet : This fast which is observed on the 10th day of Tebet is called tebetcha upavas in Marathi. It is one of the four fasts of community mourning and is known in Biblical phraseology as the Fast of Tenth Month. This fast was not observed by the Bene Israels of Maharashtra in olden days but was introduced among them by David Rahabi. This fast might have been instituted to commemorate the first siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon in the sixth century B.C.

7. New Year's Day of the Trees : On the 15th of Shebat, the Bene Israels of Maharashtra celebrate a festival which is called by them eliyahu hannabicha oorus but in fact is observed as Rosh Hashana Leilanoth i.e. New Year's Day for the trees. It is also called vanaspaticha divas in Marathi. It is said that Elijah, the Prophet appeared to some Bene Israels at a village Khandala in Alibag taluka of Raigad district and then ascended to heaven. On this day, the Bene Israels purchase various kinds of fruits and place them in a plate along with malida i.e., a composition made of bread of rice flour besmeared with sweets. New fruits are purchased by Jews since it is a season of harvest of fruits in the land of their forefathers. The plate is placed on a clean, white sheet. They invoke Elijah, the prophet, and say Veitenlekha i.e., the verses of blessing prayers in gratitude are offered to the Almighty who has given so graciously every thing for man's use and benefit. After the prayers, the contents of the plate are distributed among the members of the family. By observing this festival, the debt which mankind owes to the trees and forests is remembered. Trees give us not only shade and fruits but are useful in many other ways and this is emphasised in the festival.

8. Fast of Esther and Feast of Purim : These two festivals are observed on the 13th and 14th day of Adar respectively (Adar II or Ve-Adar in a year with an additional month). A fast is observed on the 13th and a feast on the 14th. It generally coincides with the Hindu festival of Holi. Historically this festival goes back to the ancient days following the dis­persion of 586 B.C.E. when a large Jewish community developed in the Persian Empire. Esther whose other name was Hadassab was the Queen of Persia. She was a Jewess. At that time Hamaa was the king's prijne minister who was all powerful. Esther's cousin Mordecai was somehow not in the good books of Haman. He decided to kill Mordecai. This, however, was not sufficient. Haman wanted to exterminate all Jews. At last, he obtained an order from the king to destroy all Jews and 13th of Adar was selected for the massacre. This news however, reached Mordecai and through him Esther whose timely intervention saved the lives of the Jews. Haman was exposed and ultimately hanged.

This fast commemorates the day that Haman had chosen for killing the Jews. It also recalls the fast that Esther had ordained upon the Jews an appeal to God to help her to save them. The feast of Purim is also known as the feast of lots. Haman wanted to make his plot of annihilation of Jews successful and accordingly, he had cast lots to decide the best day on which Jews could be killed. In Persian ' lots' are called ' Purim'. This gives the explanation for the feast being called Feast of Purim.

On the 14th of Adar i.e., on the feast of Purim presents of sweetmeats prepared at home are sent by one family to another. Generally on the festival of Purim, the dish of puranpoli is prepared.

9. Feast of Passover : This festival is also known as Pesach. The Jews abstain from using sour liquid as well as any leaven during the period of the feast. It is also called valhandancha son in Marathi. This festival commences on the 15th of Nisan and lasts for eight days. The festival of passover has many beautiful symbols and observances and most significant of all is the seder service held at home for the first two evenings of the holiday. It is in the nature of a historical drama enacted at the festal table around which are gathered members of the family. The head of the family leads in the narration of the story of the Exodus from Egypt and the family, particularly the little children take an active part. This holiday is celebrated in memory of the deliverance of the ancestors of the Jews from Egyptian bondage. For eight days from the 15th of Nisan to 22nd the Bene Israels eat unleavened bread. It is also called bhakricha son in Marathi.

This feast is one of the pilgrim feasts, the other two [being that of Sukkoth and Shabouth. These three pilgrim feasts have agricultural as well as historical background. The Passover Festival marks the beginning of liberty of Israel and the end of Egyptian bondage. A great marvel is connected with this festival. When the Egyptian king was persecuting the Jews prior to their liberation he was told not to harass them. However, the pleadings had no effect.
The task of liberating a host of men in bondage was assigned to Moses, the towering figure of the Old Testament. When Moses saw an Egyptian beat a Hebrew, he killed the former and had to flee to Midian where God gave Moses his divine mission to "bring forth my children, the sons of Israel out of Egypt". Moses approached Pharaoh and asked him to liberate Hebrews, but Pharaoh refused and God struck Egypt with nine plagues, such as infestations of frogs, flies, insects, sky-darkening, sand storms, etc. Still there was no change in Pharaoh's heart but the 10th plague, the destruction of the first born children of Egypt had the desired effect and Pharaoh at last allowed the Jews to go.

10.Feast of Pentecost or Shabouth : The festival which falls on the 6th of Sivan and lasts for two days was not originally observed by the Bene Israels in India. It has a historical importance for Jews. It commemorates the giving of Torah i.e., the Mosaic Law, by the Almighty from Mount Sinai. It thus marks the spiritual birth of Israel. By virtue of Torah, Israel has been a spiritualised force in the world and bears a profound message for our times. This festival has no local name.

It is also called the Feast of Weeks. This festival has an agricultural, religious and national significance in Jewish history. In Biblical times this festival was mainly an agricultural feast. It is known in the Bible as the feast of the harvest and also as the day of the first fruits.

11.Fast of Tammuz : This fast which falls on 17th of the tenth month, Tammuz is one of the four fasts of community mourning, the other three being, the Fast of Tebet, the Fast of Ab and the Fast of Tishri. In Biblical phrase, the fast is called the fast of the Fourth Month. It has historical importance. In the days of the first Temple, the Babylonian army, besieging Jerusalem breached the walls on the 9th of Tammuz. Almost five centuries later, the Romans breached the walls on the 17th of Tammuz. Since the second destruction of the temple was of more lasting effect, the fast was decreed for the 17th of Tammuz which is observed in the most solemn manner. The period between the 17th of Tammuz and the 15th of Ab is given a special treatment in the sense that all auspicious functions like marriage, etc. or purchase of clothes are not undertaken. They are, as it were, inauspicious days.

12.Fast of Ab : This is an important fast among the Jews. This fast which falls on the 9th of the month of Ab is also one of the four fasts of community mourning. According to the Biblical mode of expression, it is called the " Fast of the Fifth Month ". It is also called birdiacha san in Marathi by the Bene Israel. It is so named because, this fast is broken on the evening of the ninth of Ab by consuming rice with curry of birdi (wal), one of the pulses grown in Thane and Raigad districts. Wals are kept in water for a day and night till they sprout. The outer skin is removed and then they are cooked with spices, etc. A legend is told about this festival. The forefathers of Bene Israel of India were survivors of a shipwreck when only seven couples could reach safely the shore. They landed at Navgaon village in Raigad district. Since they were hungry, they ate wal in a raw state. The day on which they landed at Navgaon was 15th of Ab and hence on this day Bene Israels even now consume wal curry or some other preparation of it. This version, however, is not accepted by some Jews who think that the consumptions of wal in raw state is done to commemorate the memory of their forefathers who were compelled to eat anything that was available during their hardships.

The food which is consumed on the 8th of Ab is served on banana leaves to symbolise the fact that the Israelis had no household utensils from which to partake of food at the time of the loss of their dominion and power. During the preceding eight days the Jews abstain from consuming meat, wearing of new clothes, celebrating marriages, etc.
The fast has historical Mportance. It is a major fast day in Jewish tradition. It commemorates the destruction of the first and second temples, the two events, though almost 500 years apart, took place on the same day i.e., 9th of Ab. That is an occasion of immense pain and sorrow. Jews squat on the floor without any footware and offer prayers bewailing the destruction of the temple.

In the month of Elul i.e., the last month of the year, many devout Bene Israels observe fasts for forty days, beginning with the 2nd of Elul to the 10th day of Tishri on which day the fast of Yom Kippur is observed. The fasts are observed on all days except Sabhath i.e., Saturday and the two days of Rosh Harshanah i.e., New Year's Day.

The month of Elul precedes the month of Tishri and because many festivals and fasts are observed in the month of Tishri, the month of Elul gets a special significance.

Those who are unable to observe the fast for forty days are said to observe them at least on Mondays and Thursdays. While fasting they take their meals only once a day after sunset.



In Greater Bombay, ten fairs are held in a year where there are more than 25,000 visitors. Most of the persons attending, are from the City itself or the neighbouring towns. As the city is a great centre of retail and wholesale trade, people attend these fairs mainly with a religious motive or for enjoying the fun of a get-together. The account of the main fairs in Bombay is given below.

Mahashivaratri Fair at Kanheri Caves, Borivli :. The fair is held on Magh Vad. 14 which is believed to be the favourite day of Lord Shiva and lasts for one day only. The site of the fair is at Kanheri Caves, eight miles to the north of Borivli railway station. The distance from Borivli to the caves can be covered by bus. Persons belonging to the Kamathi community who are generally construction workers mainly visit the fair. They offer worship to Bheema, second of the Pandavas who according to the belief among them once lived in one of the caves there. There is neither a regular temple nor any image of Lord Shiva at the caves, though there are many images of Buddha and his disciples. People arrive at the caves in the morning, offer fried gram, parched rice, coconuts, flowers, etc. at the main entrance to the caves and return home the same evening.

Mahalakshmi Fair at Mahalakshmi, Bombay : The fair is held in honour of Goddess Mahalakshmi twice a year, viz., from Ashwin sud. 1 to Ashwin sud. 10 i.e., navaratra and from Chaitra sud. 1 to Chaitra sud. 10. The fair held in navaratra is more important and is called mahayatra. On an average two lakhs of pilgrims from city and suburbs attend the fair held in navaratra. The inner shrine of the temple is well decorated with orna­mental designs and legendary figures. On both sides of the image of Goddess Mahalakshmi there are the images of Goddesses Mahakali and Mahasaraswati. The temple of Mahalakshmi is situated in an area named after Goddess Mahalakshmi, on a hillock at the extreme west of Bombay Island. The temple is at a distance of about one mile from Mahalakshmi station on the Western Railway. It can be reached by BEST buses.

It is said that in the middle of the 18th Century, the construction of Worli causeway was undertaken by Government but the work could not be completed for many reasons. One day, the contractor, Prabhu by caste, had a dream in which he was told by the goddesses that they were lying at the bottom of the sea and desired that they should be taken out and installed in the temple to be constructed on a nearby hill, and if that was done the construction of Worli causeway would be smooth because of their blessings. According to the advice of the goddesses, the images were taken out of the sea, and installed in the temple which was later built on the hill in 1830. The present images of the goddesses, it is said, are the same as those salvaged from the sea.

In course of time it was decided by prominent persons to hold an annual fair in the month of Ashwin sud. 1 to Ashwin sud. 10, which are auspicious days for the worship of the deities. The main entrance of the temple faces the east. A flight of stone steps leads to the mahadwara of the temple. Drums are kept at the top of the mahadwara which are sounded twice a day, early in the morning and in the evening. Inside the mahadwara to the left is a lamp-pillar which is approximately 15 feet high. The here­ditary Bhopis of the temple reside in the houses constructed on the left of the main gate. The open space in front of their houses is occupied by shops selling materials of worship such as coconuts, incense-sticks, flower garlands, etc.

The temple is opened at 5 a.m. every morning when the images are bathed with water and scent etc., and clothes, ornaments and flowers and flower garlands are put on them.Kumkum is also applied to their foreheads. A learned acharya is appointed by the trustees on a part-time basis for reciting the sapt-shati patha daily in the morning. Arati is performed at about 7 a.m. and mahanaivedya of rice, cakes of wheat flour, sweets and vegetables is offered. Kirtans, pravachans etc., are also arranged. It measures about 25' x 15 ' and its floor is paved with marble stones. The Sabhamandap is open on all sides and at the centre of it, facing the deities, an image of a wooden lion is installed on a stone pillar, both covered with silver plates. The pillar is erected on a stone platform measuring 2.5'x2.5' and four feet high. At the entrance of the sabhamandap, a pit for lighting sacred fire (yajna kunda) 2.5' x 2.5' and two feet deep is provided which is used for performing havan during the period of the fair and on such other occasions. Images of several saints are inscribed of the top of the sabhamandap, on three sides viz., north, south and east. A hall, 35' x 25' constructed behind the shrine is used as a dharmashala.

The image of Mahalakshmi is in the centre of the platform and those of Mahakali and Mahasaraswati are to her right and left, respectively. In front of these images, three small stools made of silver are placed. A gold plated mask of Goddess Annapoorna is installed on the middle stool. Silver footprints of a goddess are placed on another, stool and the third stool is used for keeping worship utensils. Dhuparati is performed at sunset and shayana arti is performed at about 10-30 p.m. After this the temple is closed. During the period of the fair, on festival days and on other special occasions, the temple is kept open upto midnight.

Devotees in large numbers flock to the temple for darshan of the goddesses on Tuesdays, Fridays, Sundays as these days are considered to be more auspicious for their worship. It is customary to make vows to the deities for getting a child, prosperity, for regaining eye sight, etc. On fulfilment of their desires, devotees offer cradles, small umbrellas, artificial limbs like eyes etc., made of silver and some offer cloth, coconuts, bangles, combs, mirrors, etc. Some also distribute sweets or sugar as prasad.

The mahayatra starts on Ashwin sud. 1, and ends on Ashwin sud, 10. As the temple is situated on a hill and as there is no sufficient space around to accommodate shops and stalls in the compound of the temple the fair is held at the foot of the hill. The duration of the fair is of ten days but no special programmes except bhajans, kirtans andj pravachans are arranged in the temple from the 2nd to the 9th of Ashwin.

Ashwin sud. 1, being the first day of the fair, a ghata (metal pot) is installed in the temple early in the morning and special worship is offered to the deities. An abhisheka is also performed.

On Ashwin sud. 9, the most important day of the fair, the ghata is removed and a sacred fire (homo) is lighted in the yadnya kunda and a large number of devotees gather for the purnahuti and offer coconuts, incense-sticks, dhup, etc. to the homa. In the evening of Ashwin 10, most pilgrims offer leaves of the apta tree to the  deities as a token offering of gold.

The second or Chaitra fair starts on Gudhi Padwa day on Chaitra sud. 1 and lasts till Chaitra sud. 9, programmes oibhajan, kirtan and pravachan are arranged during this period. On Chaitra sud. 1, a ghata is installed in the temple and a flag is hoisted on a pole just adjacent to the entrance of the sabhamandap. On Chaitra sud. 9, the ghata is removed and the sacred fire (homa) is lighted. Thousands of pilgrims attend this fair every day.

An adequate number of policemen are deployed for maintaining law and order at both the fairs. Volunteers of local associations also provide minor amenities to pilgrims at the temple as well as at the fair. The temple trust is registered under the Bombay Public Trusts Act, 1950. The board of trustees includes prominent citizens.

Shri Lakshminarayan Fair, Gowalia Tank : This fair is held from Ashwin sud. 12 to Ashwin vad. 6 in honour of God Narayan and Goddess Lakshmi to commemorate the inception day of the deities at Gowalia Tank. It lasts for ten days and during this period about 1,20,000 pilgrims attend it.

The deities are draped in rich clothes which are changed according to various seasons and festivals. The daily worship of the deities is performed according to what is known as the Pushti Marga Sampradaya as laid down by Vallabhacharya, founder of the Sampradaya. Though the period of the fair is ten days the first day of the fair i.e., Ashwin sud. 12 is the most important day and patotsava is celebrated on this day. On other days, no special programmes are arranged except bhajan, kirtan, pravachana. On the first day of the fair, a special worship (panchamrita abhisheka) is performed on the deities lasting for half an hour.

After this a sacrificial offering is made. After completion of the special worship, raj bhog is offered to the deities. The patotsava ceremony is performed under the supervision of one of the trustees. On this day, the temple is kept open from morning to 22-30 at night except during the Bhog period. The fair is held on the Gowalia Tank maidan which is adjacent to the temple. Pilgrims of all castes and creeds visit the temple to worship the deities and attend the fair everyday. About 1,20,000 pilgrims from Bombay city and its suburbs attend the fair during these ten days.

In addition to the fair, the festivals such as Makar Sankranti, Ram navmi, Rang Panchami, Vasant Panchami, Gokul Ashtami are also celebrated in the temple. On Kartik sud. 1, an annakot is offered to the deities and the prasad is distributed amongst devotees. The affairs of the temple are managed by Seth Gokuldas Tejpal Charities Trust which has been registered under the Bombay Public Trusts Act, 1950.

Shri Vithoba Fair,Vadala : The fair is held at Vadala (west) in honour of God Vithoba in the month of Ashadh every year. The temple of Vithoba is situated on Katrak Road near Vithoba market. One can approach the tempJe from Vadala Road railway station on the harbour branch of the suburban line of the Central Railway. The fair is held from Ashadh sud. 10 to 12, the important day of the fair being Ashadh sud. 11. It is said that a guru of the Varkari sect and a great devotee of God Vithoba was living about 150 years ago at the place where the present temple is situated. He was a regular visitor to Pandharpur and went on foot for the Ashadhi Ekadashi. In one of his visits to Pandharpur he expressed inability to go there to his fellowmen in the following year due to old age. One of his followers said to the guru, " you are a devotee of God Vithoba; so you may pray him to come to Bombay. " The guru said, " Let us hope so ; after all it depends upon the mercy of God Vithoba. " The same year, the guru and his followers took the palanquin procession to Pandharpur as usual. While bathing in the river Chandrabhaga, they were surprised to find that one of the followers of the guru had found an image of God Vithoba. The guru and his followers were happy and brought the said image to Bombay and installed it in the guru's hut on Chaitra sud. 13. The followers of the Varkari sect then discontinued the practice of carrying a palanquin to Pandharpur from the next year.

Images of God Vithoba and Goddess Rakhumai in their traditional posture of hands on their waist are installed in the shrine of the main temple on a platform of marble stones. The image of Rakhumai is to the left of Vithoba at a distance of about 1.5'. The height of the image of Vithoba is 3.5' and that of Rakhumai is 3'. The images are made of black stone. Small images of Vithoba and Rakhumai made of silver are kept behind the main images in a devhara. A silk turban, a dhoti, an upper garment and a shoulder cloth of cotton are put on the image of God Vithoba while the image of Rakhumai is draped in a saree and a blouse of cotton. During the fair and on special occasions, rich clothes of silk are put on the deities" A nose-ring, a necklace of black beads and silver bangles are the ornaments of daily wear of Rakhumai. During the period of fair and on special occasions, precious ornaments, such as lockets and chain of gold and earrings and crown both of silver are put on the image of Vithoba; and bangles, necklace, a nose ring, all of gold, a waist belt and a painjan, all of silver, are put on the image of Rakhumai.

The shrine of the deity is opened at 4-30 a.m. every day to perform kakad arati at 5 a.m. which is followed by an abhisheka. Thereafter the deities are bathed with cold water. Scented oil is then applied to the images and clothes and ornaments are put on them. After application of sandalwood paste and kumkum on the forehead and other parts of the body, garlands of flowers are put on them. The images of Ganapati, Shivalinga and other deities are also worshipped in a similar manner, accompanied by chanting of the mantras. The arati is performed in the main temple from 6.30 a.m. to 7 a.m. and the same is afterwards waved before other images. Tirtha (holy water) and prasad are distributed amongst devotees present at the time of the arati. It is customary to offer a naivedya of cooked food to the deities daily except on days of fasts. The temple is closed for darshan from 12 noon to 3-30 p.m. when it is again opened and garlands of flowers and tulsi leaves are offered to the deities. The evening arati is performed at 7 p.m. and prasad is distributed amongst the devotees present. The temple is closed for the night at 10 p.m. after performing the night arati.

There is a general practice of making vows to the deity for getting a child, prosperity in business, relief from bodily or mental ailments. On fulfilment of the vows, clothes, ornaments etc, are offered. Some also distribute gur, sugar, etc. according to means. The annual fair starts on Ashadh sud. 10 and lasts for three days i.e., up to Ashadh 12. On Ashadh sud. 10, a special worship called maha abhisheka is performed by a pro­minent person. The pilgrims attend the fair from this day and worship the deities with kumkum, flowers and leaves of the tulsi plant. On Ashadh sud. 11, which is the important day of the fair, pilgrims from all walks of life attend the fair. They worship the deities by offering flowers and coins before them and praying for mercy. The pilgrims in groups called dindis reciting bhajans visit the temple throughout the day from all parts of Bombay.

The programmes of bhajans, kirtans and pravachan are also arranged. To enable the pilgrims to have darshan of Vithoba and Rakhumai, the temple is kept open throughout the day and up to 3 a.m. on the following day. There is no programme on Ashadh sud. 12. Those persons who could not take darshan during the earlier two days, visit the temple to pay homage to the deities. Besides the annual fair there is a programme of palanquin procession (palkhi) of a portrait of Vithoba and Rakhumai at about 10 a.m. on Chaitra sud. 13, the day of inception of the deities, taken round the adjacent locality. This is attended by about 3,000 persons. Maha abhisheka is also performed in the temple on certain festival days viz., Ashwin sud. 10 (Dasara), Ramnavmi, and Gokul Ashtami. These are celebrated in the traditional way.

Mankeshwar Fair, Reay Road : Fairs in honour of God Mankeshwar (Lord Shiva) are held in the months of Shravana, Ashvina and Magha of which the fair held in the month of Shravana is considered to be the most important. On an average three lakh pilgrims attend this fair. Women are not allowed to enter the shrine. The pindi (spout) of Lord Shiva is installed in the temple which was lying buried under a tree. One of the forefathers of the present owner of the temple had a dream in which Lord Shiva said to him, " I am in the earth under a tree; take me out from there and build a temple ".   Accordingly the pindi was unearthed and installed at the place where it was found and a temple was built.

The temple is situated at Reay Road. The nearest railway station is Dockyard Road. The main fair is held from Shravana vad. 5 to Shravana vad. 9, both days inclusive. The other fairs are held on Ashwin sud. 15 (Kojagiri) and Magh vad. 14 (Mahashivratri). The temple is said to be about 600 years old. Its renovation was carried out over 100 years ago. It is a stone structure measuring 60' x 40'. A passage about 8' wide and 325' in length paved with stones, connects the temple entrance to Reay Road. The shrine is to the left of the sabhamandap (auditorium). The floors of both the shrine and the sabhamandap are paved with marble stones. The door of the shrine is plated with silver sheets, both from inside and outside. The new built kalash at the top of the dome of the shrine is said to have been built by the present owner in 1942.

The spout, linga, of Lord Shiva in the shrine is said to be swayambhu linga. It is installed in south-north direction. It is covered with a silver image of a hooded cobra. The image of nandi made of stone is installed at the entrance to the shrine in the sabhamandap. There are also stone images of Ganapati, Kalabhairava, Shitala Devi and Hanuman in the temple. In a small room in the southwest corner of the sabhamandap silver images of Shiva, Parvati and Ganapati are installed.

On Ashwin vad. 14, Ashwin vad. 30, Kartika sud. and Chaitra sud. 1, the deity is draped with a pagdi (turban) of jari cloth, shela, pitambar and adorned with a mukhavata (mask) of silver plated with gold. On Ashwin sud. 15 rich clothes and precious ornaments are put on the deity. Cooked food is offered daily. Special naivedya of panchapakvanna is offered to the deity on festive days.

It is customary to make vows to the deity for getting a child, prosperity, etc., and it is believed that the deity is capable of fulfilling the desires of its devotees. On fulfilment of their desires, the devotees offer puja (worship) to deity with coconut and distribute sweets, sugar or gur as prasad. Some also offer clothes and ornaments. Three days of the fair from Shravana vad. 7 to Shravana vad. 9 are regarded as very important. On Shravana vad. 5 and 6, there are no special programmes, in the temple except bhajan, kirtan and pravachan arranged in the sabhamandap of the temple. At midnight on Shravana vad. 7, the images of Lord Shiva, Parvati and Ganapati of about two and a half feet in height prepared out of sandal­wood paste are installed on the wooden platform specially erected over the Shiva-pindi. After installation of these images, no one is allowed to enter the shrine. The image of panchamukhi Mahadeo is kept at the door of the shrine to enable devotees to worship. The sandalwood paste images installed in the shrine are kept for three days, up to the morning of Shravana vad. 9, when the images are taken out of the shrine and are kept in the sabhamandap on big wooden stools (chowrangas) to enable the devotees to have darshan. At about 1 p.m. a special puja is performed by the owner of the temple and the images are then kept in decorated chariot. It starts from the temple followed by large congregations of devotees, musicians, bhajan groups etc., through the main streets of Bombay and it terminates at Bhaucha Dhakka (Ferry Wharf). At this place, the images are transhipped to a big country boat after worship. The boat is taken out two miles in the sea, accompanied by about 300 to 400 people and the images are immersed ceremoniously in the sea. The whole ceremony is conducted with great pomp and display.

The second fair is held on Ashwin sud. 15. A mahapuja of the deity is performed between 9 a.m. to 12 noon and decorated with costly dress and precious ornaments. A naivedya of panchapakvanna is offered to the deity. No one is allowed to enter the shrine during the performance of the puja. At night at about 8-30 p.m. apalkhi procession of the image of panchamukhi Mahadeo made of silver is taken out from the temple through the main streets of Mazagaon locality and it returns to the temple at about 11-30 p.m. The image of panchamukhi Mahadeo is again worshipped and prasad is distributed. On an average 1,000 devotees attend the procession. The third fair is held on Magh vad. 14. On this day, the devotees visit the temple and offer flowers and leaves of bel tree to the deity. On an average, 4,000 to 5,000 devotees attend the fair. On this day laghu rudra is performed at night from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. by eleven Brahmans at a time. At 6-30 a.m. next morning the puja of the deity is performed by the priest of the temple and naivedya consisting of cooked rice and curds is offered.

Pir Syed Ahmed Ali Shah Kadri Urus, Dongri : This urus is held annually in honour of the great saint, Pir Sayed Ahmed Ali Shah Kadri on 6th, 7th and 8th of Rajab. The present dargah, it is said, was constructed about 100 years ago, and stands on a stone platform, and measures about 25' x 25' with a circular shape at the back i.e., the eastern side of the platform. The tombs of Pir Sayed Ahmed Ali Shah Kadri and his mujavar are in the shrine. Both the tombs are made of bricks and lime and measure 6' x 3'. The tombs are worshipped in the morning by offering flowers and burning incense sticks etc. The evening worship of the tombs is carried out by the mujavar of the dargah. The tombs are given a bath every Thursday morning with rose and other scented water.

It is believed that the saint and the mujavar in whose honour the urus is held are capable of fulfilling one's desires and therefore many devotees offer vows in order to get a child, relief from bodily or mental afflictions, etc.   On fulfilment of their desires, they offer the things promised.

On the first day of the urus, the procession of sandalwood paste called sandal is carried out at about 2 p.m. This procession attended by large numbers of persons moves through Dongri, Paydhoni, Nagpada areas and returns to the dargah in the evening. The sandalwood paste is then applied to the tombs. This ceremony is called sandal chadhana. On the second day of the urns, the programme of Kawwalis, gazals, etc., are held.

On the last day there is yet another procession of the sandal (i.e., sandalwood paste and galaf) from the dargah at about 1 p.m. It moves through important parts round about the dargah and returns to it by about 8 p.m. The sandalwood paste is applied to the tombs and the galafs and flower-nets are spread over them. Prayers are offered and fatihah, milad, and kurankhani (reading of the Koran) also take place. The pilgrims are mostly Muslims.

Hajrat Makhdoom Fakih Ali Saheb Urus, Mahim : This urus is held in honour of the great saint, Hajrat Makhdoom Fakih Ali Shah and is generally celebrated on the full moon day in December and lasts for ten days. The dargah is situated on the western side of Cadell Road and the main entrance known as Buland darwaja faces the east. The dargah has five huge domes on the top. Besides the tomb of the saint, there are other tombs also including those of Bibi Fatima, the mother of the saint. The maid servant and the she-goat of the saint were buried near the dargah. It is said that the saint performd many miracles in his life time and had brought back to life a dead she-goat which he loved very much.

The dargah is opened in the early hours of the morning and thousands of devotees attend it throughout the day and it is closed after the night prayers are offered. Devotees visiting the dargah carry with them flowers, incense sticks and sweets which are offered to the saint's tomb.

It is believed that the saint is capable of fulfilling one's desires and those who come to the dargah generally make vows before it in order to get a child, success, and on fulfilment of their desires offer sweetmeats to the dargah. On the first day of the urus on the full-moon day in December, the sandal (i.e., sandalwood paste and galaf) is brought in a procession on behalf of the Dargah Sharif Trust. The paste is applied to the various tombs and a new galaf is spread over the tomb of the saint and his mother. The holy Koran is read and prayers offered.

On the remaining nine days also processions from different parts of the city terminate at the dargah, carrying with them sandalwood paste and galafs which are offered to the tombs of the saint and his mother. The pilgrims are mostly from the city and besides Muslims, there are many people of other denominations among them.

Shaikh Misry Urus, Vadala : The urus of Shaikh Misry is held every year at Antop Hill in Vadala (East). It lasts for four days i.e., from a day prior to the full-moon day in November and up to two days after the full-moon day. The most important day of the urus however is*the full-moon day. It is held to commemorate the death anniversary of the great Muslim Saint Sheikh Misry who died on the 16th of Rajab some seven hundred years ago.

The dargah which was built about two hundred yeais ago measures 100' X 100'. However the main Shrine measuring 60' x 70' is cons­tructed of marble stones. The dargah is opened after the morning prayers are held at the nearby mosque and the tomb of the saint which is inside the dargah and just below the central dome is worshipped by burning incense sticks and lubhan. The prayers are offered and holy passages from the Koran are read. It is believed that the great saint is capable of fulfilling one's desires of getting a child, prosperity, and as such the devotees promise many things to the saint. On the fulfilment of their they desires, offer galaf, sweets and cooked food to the saint.

On the second day of the urus the sandal is taken out in procession and after it reaches the dargah, the sandalwood paste is applied to the tomb and a new galaf is removed. Flowers are offered and incense sticks are burnt. On 16th of Rajab the tomb is washed with rose water and prayers are offered. The functions on the other days of urus are those of prayers, reading holy passages from the Koran, etc. The persons attending the urus are mostly from Greatei Bombay and belong to various religions, though Muslims aie in a majority. It is said that the saint was an inhabi­tant of Egypt and was on a mission to India to spiead Islam. He died while engaged in this work about seven hundred years ago. The urus is held in his memory.

Mount Mary Fair, Bandra : The fair is held in honour of Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, and is celebrated during the Octave (Sunday to Sunday) following the feast on the 8th of September. The shrine of Our Lady of the Mount, popularly known as Mount Mary, is one of the most famous Christian shrines in India. Situated on a verdant hill-top, opposite Mahim causeway and overlooking the sea, the church with its twin spires soaring into the sky, presents a picturesque landmark to all who cross the Mahim creek.

The shrine is a modest little hermitage. It was founded by Jesuits about the years 1568 to 1570. This was the cradle of Christianity in Bandra. In 1640, the hermitage was enlarged into a chapel and it is said that in 1679, it had become a famous place of pilgrimage, frequented by Christians and non-Christians. When the Marathas overran Salsette in 1739, the chapel was destroyed by the Portuguese authorities at the instance of the English in order to prevent its strategic position from falling into the hands of the victorious Marathas. On this occasion, the popularly venerated image of the Blessed Virgin was ferried across the creek for safe custody to St. Michael's Mahim, whence it was brought back for re-installing it in the chapel built nearby in 1761.

The present edifice was built in 1904 and is a fine example of Gothic architecture. The auditorium is about 125 ' x 40' and is paved with marble slabs. The altar is of pure marble. The statue of Our Lady is about 5' high and holds an image of the Child Jesus in her right hand. In 1954, the church was raised to the status of a minor Basilica. The statue is coverd with a veil. It is adorned with a necklace and bangles and crowned with gold guilt silver crown. A beautiful rosary hangs from the right hand side. The walls are covered with paintings, depicting the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Basilica is in charge of a rector. He is assisted by a committee of wardens. Divine services in the form of masses are conducted daily. Devotees come to pray and ask for favour and make their thanksgiving in coins or offering consisting of candles or wax images. Most of the pilgrims to this shrine are from Greater Bombay and the neighbouring Thane district.

Mount Poisar Feast {Fair), Borivli: The fair and the feast of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception is celebrated in honour of the Mother of God, Mary who was conceived without the stain of Adam's sin. The fair is held at the Church of Mount Poisar on the Sunday following the 8th December every year and lasts for a day.

The church of Our lady of the Immaculate Conception is situated on a hillock at the village Mandapeshwar, now merged in the municipal area of Borivli which is 32 kilometres from Churchgate railway station. Buses ply between Borivli railway station and the church, the distance being about a mile.

The church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception was built by Fr. Antonio de Porto in 1544 by orders of King D. Joao III of Portugal. It underwent major repairs from time to time. At present, it is said to be one of the oldest among the existing churches in Greater Bombay.

Though the present structure of the church is plain and simple it presents a beautiful appearance. The roofs of the sanctuary and the side chapels are high arched roofs of finely carved stone in ornamental compart­ments. An exquisite statue facing the west in standing position with folded hands of Out Lady of the Immaculate Conception is installed on the main altar with statues of Jesus Christ and St. Joseph on either side. The side altars are dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi and St. Francis Xavier who visited this church three times between 1544 and 1548. At the other end of the Church, there are two statues of St. Teresa and St. Anthony with Jesus Christ in his arms. A candle stand is kept in front of both the statues which is used by devotees to burn candles. The side walls of the church are decorated by hanging 14 wall plaques, seven on each side, which depict various important events in the life of Jesus Christ.

The statue of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception is adorned with only a crown and a veil. The morning and evening masses are offered on Sundays and feast days, masses are also offered on an octave day which falls on the 8th day from the day of feast.

On an average 25,000 to 30,000 devotees mostly from Bombay city and suburbs attend the feast. The devotees belong to other religions also, though Catholic Christians predominate.

The devotees attend the morning mass, offer coins, wax candles etc., and pray for blessings of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. It is customary to make vows to the deity for getting a child, an eye-sight etc.; and on fulfilment of their vows, devotees offer artificial limbs made of wax candles etc. to the deity.

Besides the major fairs described so far, there are more than 80 minor fairs held in Greater Bombay. There are about 66 fairs with an estimated congregation of about 5,000.( Information about some of the fairs is given in Chapter-19 in Vol. Ill of this Gazetteer.)



The dietary and food habits of the inhabitants of Greater Bombay should have ordinarily been those of the people of the coastal districts of Maha­rashtra, because Bombay forms part of the Konkan coast, but that is not so, because of the peculiar position of Bombay in the economy of the State and the countiy. The people of Bombay means the conglomeration of peoples from all parts of the country and they have brought with them to Bombay the peculiar habits. Thus while the Panjabees and Sikhs from the Panjab and the migrants from Uttar Pradesh have wheat as their staple food, those from Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh stick to rice and preparations from rice as their staple food. The main division of all, however is that while some are vegetarians, others are non-vegetarians. There are many other sects and castes such as Varkari, Swaminarayan Panthi, Lewa Patidars, Malis, Brahmans, Jains, etc. which abstain from meat. Many others generally speaking may be described as non-vegetarians, though that only means that they do not refrain from eating meat and fish whenever they can.

Among the well-to-do vegetarians, rice is the staple food but it is supplemented by wheat and its preparations. Jowar and Bajari find place in the dietary whenever wheat could be dispensed with. Light meals are taken in the morning by all those who have to attend offices, factories and schools and it is usual for them to carry with them tiffin boxes to have lunch in afternoon. The other meal is taken at night. Rice is usually accompanied by a spoonful or two of ghee, a curry, onions, spices and tamarind or kokam dressing, plus some vegetables fried in edible oil, spiced and preferably added with some fresh cocoanut scrapping. Butter milk or curds is mixed with a little rice and usually eaten at the end of the meal. Chatnis, Koshimbirs, papads etc. are the usual adjuncts to a full meal. Tea or coffee as soon as they leave their bed has become a diehard habit. Some eat biscuits or slices of bread with it.

The culinary art of the people as expressed in their daily food, feast menus and holiday dishes, has its own peculiarities, every caste group claiming some distinguishing features. Rice being the main food item, various types of preparations are made therefrom. Rice is used in two forms. Ukda (parboiled) and surai made without boiling the paddy. In the preparation of boiled rice two processes are followed : one known as bethabhat is prepared by boiling the lice (cleaned and washed) in about twice the quantity of water till it swells soft, for the other kind known as velnabhat, the rice is boiled in an excess quantity of water and then strained dry when the grains get sufficiently soft. The strained rice-water may be salted to taste and drunk as pej. The rice is eaten with different kinds of curries. Tur split pulse is generally preferred though some prefer the mug split pulse. The pulse is boiled, spiced and a phodni of jire (cumin seed) and asafoetida is used as dressing. Gur and tamarind or kokam are its necessary adjuncts. Its variation, sambar is thicker. It is prepared from a variety of pulses and hot spices, onion, scraped cocoanut all fried in oil and pasted on a curry stone, are its special ingredients.

Several special dishes are prepared from rice-flour. Ayate, ghavan and pole are pan-cakes each prepared according to its kind, after mixing the flour in water, milk or butter milk and adding to it a little salt and gur, scraped coconut kernel, chopped green chillies, coriander leaves, onion, etc. The mixture thus prepared is spread over heated ghee or oil in a pan and fried. Amboli is a similar pan-cake thicker in kind and prepared from rice and udid flour and methi mixed together in water and fermented over night. Of the same mixture are prepared idalis by steaming them in small dishes in a closed vessel. Vade, gharge and unde are cakes made from dough of rice and udid pulse flour and fried in deep oil. Vades are flat and round like puris; gharge are similar to vade but the dough is sweetened with gur and pumpkin, cucumber etc. boiled soft. Undes are globular in size. Patolya is another preparation made especially on the Dasara day. About an ounce of kneaded rice flour dough is spread on a green turmeric leaf to a particular thickness; an ounce of scraped coconut kernel sweetened with jaggery is laid on the dough, the leaf is folded double and such patolyas are steamed in a number.

Shevaya i.e. vermicelli made of wheat flour are eaten with gur or sugar. Sandhans are made of rice-flour (granules), coconut milk and juice of ripe mangoes or jack-fruit; they are cooked in steam like pudding. Modaks are balls stuffed with coconut kernel, cashewnut pieces, sesame, sugar, etc., in a rice or wheat flour covering and steam boiled, particularly prepared to propitiate Lord Ganesh. Popular holiday dishes arepuranpoli, shrikhanda, basundi, khir, dudhpak and very many other dishes that sweatmeat makers sell ready-made. Milk and its products play a major part in such dishes, the other important ingredient being wheat. All these preparations are peculiar to vegetarian Hindus, whatever their original State may be.

Non-vegetarians even among Hindus form a big majority, but this does not mean that meat or fish is a necessary part of their daily diet. But certain communities among Hindus do take fish almost daily and meat occasionally once a week or so and on festive occasions. The most common form of meat is mutton. Hindus will not touch beef and Muslims will not touch pork. But Christians and Parsees and Jews have no objection to consume either besides fish and mutton. Eggs form part of the daily diet of almost all non-vegetarians.

Food habits of all inhabitants of Greater Bombay have undergone many changes. Quite many people have started taking the midday meal in hotels. This has become necessary owing to living conditions more than out of willingness to do so. Quite a large number of people have to travel long distances from their homes to their work places and back everyday and have therefore to miss their morning meal. This has also led to taking to such food as they can get and that is not always in keeping with their traditional food. Consumption of fruit, particularly bananas is noticeable on a much larger scale than before among Bombaites. Similarly wheat and its various preparations have also found an important place in the daily diet of the Bombaites. Chapatis of wheat are a common diet in most households whether of the vegetarians or the non-vegetarians. Some people replace chapatis by puris which are really small chapatis fried in oil or ghee or vanaspati. They are more in vogue in hotels and restaurants. Wheat is consumed in various other forms. Shira made from rava gleaned from wheat flour is a favourite dish. It is made with the addition of ghee and sugar. Vanaspati has replaced ghee in most kitchens after World War II. Quite many sweet dishes are prepared from wheat with the addition of sugar and ghee for festive occasions prominent among them being jilebi, gheevar, balushai, chirote, karanj'ya and others. Names of all these articles may not be the same in Gujarati, Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, Malyalam, Punjabee and Bengalee.

Sweetmeats from other provinces like Rasagulla and Sandesh from Bengal and halwas from Delhi are freely available in sweetmeat shops of Bombay. Non-vegetarian items of food are egg-omlettes, mutton-cutlets, kababs, khima,kurma, pulava, etc.

Time was when no two Brahmans touched each other while taking food on low wooden stools. Taking meal even was a religious rite. Each plate had to be encircled with water to the accompaniment of Sanskrit mantras and a little oblation had to be made to various deities before starting the meal. The low wooden stools are fast disappearing from households and food is now taken on tables. Chairs and tables have become necessary furniture in most kitchens, even in quite small apartments and flats. For saving space, there are folding chairs and tables, but they are there. , Service by women of the household, taking their meals after men have finished, has almost disappeared. Food is served on the table by servants and waiters or every one helps himself by the aid of spoons, forks and knives. This is done in imitation of the western table manners, perhaps without due attention to whether it is convenient or not. In public places such as restaurants and hotels, tables and chairs, plates, spoons, forks and crockery have become quite fashionable and they have come to stay permanently. Except in costly hotels and restaurants however, the standard of cleanliness and hygienic considerations do not get their due place. While coffee or desserts have come in as the last food items, beer or wines have not yet become quite fashionable, though they are not altogether absent on occasions and at some places. Westernisation in respect of food is not yet so general as it is in respect of dress of the males of all castes and communities.



Time was when quite a variety of apparel and head wear was noticeable in the streets and houses of Bombay and one could easily tell from mere appearance of a person to which caste, community or religion the person belonged. But at present there is such a uniformity in the dress of at least males that it is not possible to name the province, caste, community or a religion of any one from mere appearance. The intonation of the person speaking English or any other language may alone betray it. The only head dress that is prominently noticeable is the turban of the Sikh while most others go bare headed. Trousers and bush shirts plus sandles or shoes form the ensemble of the male dress. Some people are seen in full European suits with a collar and a neck-tie but they are far and few between.

This is mostly true about younger persons of any community, caste or creed. Some distinguishing marks are still to be found in the case of the elder people of any community, particularly, the Muslims among whom are included the Khojas, Bohras and their sub-sects. They still use long coats akin to sherwanis or achkans of North India and loose or tight pyjamas and also golden turbans of their communities. Some use what is known as the Jinnah cap of fur. The white turbans of people from the Southern States or the various coloured Brahman, Prabhu, Surati,Kathiawadi or Baroda turbans are conspicuous by their absence and could perhaps be seen in the museum. This state of things need not be regretted at all; perhaps it contributes, in its own small way, to the promotion of the feeling of one Indian nationhood.

Still the dress of people at home has not ceased to conform to traditional patterns. The dhotar worn by middle class Hindus from Maharashtra still holds its own. This is equally true of Gujarati Hindus and Hindus from the Southern States, though the manner of wearing it differs in the case of every one. The uparna, upper cloth, of Hindus from Maharashtra has practically disappeared and its silk or gold-borderd variety is to be seen only in ceremonies like the wedding or the upanayana. Underwears which were nearly unknown fifty years ago have now firmly come into vogue. Under the pants there is necessarily a short or long underwear and under the shirt there will be a vest or mul sadra. But until a few years ago, an upper class or middle class Hindu was generally clad in a dhotar and a sadra while indoors; outdoors he wore a dhoti, a coat, a cap or a rumal or handwear and sandals. He also wore an uparane, a shoulder cloth. On important occasions, he wore his usual clothes, a rumal with a jari border or a silk piece, a long coat of white satin or yellow silk. The Brahman turban or pagadi has become almost extinct. Since the days of non-co-operation, a long shirt called Nehru shirt, a Gandhi cap with dhotar or pyjama became fashionable, but even that has fallen into disuse at present. Some young men don the sherwani and survar after the Delhi or Lucknow style and wear shoes called chadhao.

The chief item in a Hindu woman's dressware is the sari and the choli The nine yard sari is now worn by only old women from Hindu community. This is from 45 to 48 inches in width and is more generally known as a lugade. These are more often woven on handlooms and power-looms but some mills also manufacture them. Cholis used to be made from similar cloth-piece called khans. These lugadis and khans are manufactured all over Maharashtra and some in Karnatak and Tamil Nadu and such distant places as Indore, Maheshwar, Madurai and others. But these are going or have gone out of fashion. Young girls and even women are taking more and more to the five or six yard sari and blouse made out of various kinds of mill cloth. Saris whether nine yards in length or six, have borders of some colour and a padar at the two ends of which one is more decorative than the other. Mostly these are of cotton but for festive occasions there are silk saris or with jari borders. They are called shalus also and are known as Paithani or Banarasi after the names of the places where they are made. Among Bombay's Marathi speaking women, particularly among the Pathare Prabhu women, it was fashionable to wear a shawl over the body while going out and this was followed by others too, but this fashion no longer obtains even among the Prabhus who set the fashion.

The mode of wearing the lugade or nine yard sari among all Hindu women is with the hind pleats tucked into the waist at the back centre. This mode of wearing the sari is known as sakacch nesane as opposed to gol nesane the round or cylindrical mode of wear. The latter is popular among young girls and women. This is the mode followed by all women from Gujarat and North India but not those from the Southern States. The old fashioned choli has now almost disappeared. Its place has been taken by brassiers and blouses. Once upon a time, the polkas covered the whole back and hands. Then the hands became shorter and now a days the blouse worn over a brassier and the cholis have such low cut necks and more than half the back and belly bare that it is for all practical purposes a reversion to the cholis of the elderly women. Frocks in the western style or blouse and skirt are fashionable only among girls or Christian women and some Parsee women too.

Children have naturally a dress of their own. The swaddling clothes, baloti for the child consist of a triangular piece of cloth which can be tied round the child's waist so as to cover the buttocks and the front. The traditional wear for the baby, whether a boy or a girl are the topade, kunchi and angade or zable.

In the case of people who have come to Bombay from other States, this description of female and child dress generally holds good with certain variations. Thus women coming from Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Panjab and Kashmir use salwar and kameej with an odhni while those from the Southern States wear their saris differently. But even in the case of all these and those hailing from Gujarat, the wearing of sari tends to be uniform on the pattern of the cylindrical sari in the Maharashtra style.



Ornaments are almost a necessity to all classes of people, parti­cularly their women and a considerable amount of capital is thus unproductively locked up. Ornaments differ according to community and economic status as also on the basis whether they are worn by men and boys or women and girls. They are worn on the hands, in the ears, on the nose, on the neck, across the short dress on the arms, on the wrists, on the fingers, round the waist, on the legs and on the toes. A person with a complete set of ornaments may not wear them all at the same time. It is no more a fashion now for men to wear ornaments extensively. Gold earrings, bhikbalis, finger rings, and necklaces like kanthi and goph, a kade on the wrist and a dandakade on the upper arm are still found in use among the rich. There is often the silver or gold waist belt called kargota. A boy's ornaments in a rich family are gold wristlets, bindlya, hades and todes, a waist chain called sankli silver anklets, valas. But no boy when he is seven or eight will wear all these except the waist chain. A young man following modern fashions takes a fancy to wear round his neck a gold chain with or without a central locket. Buttons, studs, collar pins, tie pins, wrist watches made of precious metals and set with precious stones and rings with jewels set in gold are in the use of modern young men.

Women's ornaments used to be too numerous to mention once upon a time. From top to toe there were ornaments and ornaments. But that is out of fashion now. Now-a-days women prefer practically to have no ornaments for the head and the hair except for the bride at the time of wedding. They are content with a flower string or a single flower in the hair. But formerly, women among the well-to-do used to wear for the head, rnuda, rakhadi, kegada, phul, gulabache phul and chandrakora, for the neck thushi, galasari, Putalyachi mal; and tika; for the ears bugadi, karaba; kudi, kapa and ghuma; for the nose, nath, phuli, moti; for the upper arm vaki and bajubanda; for the wrist bangadis, goth and patalya and for the ankles todes. A middle class woman wore all the ornaments worn by the rich and a poor woman only a gold or silver gilt nose-ring, a necklace of gold and glass beads strung in a silk cord, galasari, a pair of gold or gilt earrings or bugadi. Other ornaments used to be added if funds permitted such as toe-rings jodvis, silver armlets, vaki, strings of gold coins such as putalyachi mal and the gold hair ornament ketki.

But ornaments of females have undergone considerable changes particularly among the rich. Diamond necklaces and bracelets, pearl necklaces, earrings and bangles are preferred to golden ones. Ornaments used to be heavy and often lacked any workmanship. Ornaments were looked upon more as investment and insurance against a bad day than a taste for aesthetics. The tendency now is to wear ornaments that are lighter, fewer and artistically better shaped. Head ornaments have gone out of fashion. Ear ornaments like kudi and choukada of diamonds or pearls or some times a single pearl or a precious stone decorates the ears of a young woman. Mangalsutras have become necklaces and of various types,the black beads being stringed together in different patterns. There are also chandrahara, chaplahara, bakulihara, pushpahara, Mohana-mala, ekdani, kolhapuri saj; collars made of gold have taken the place of thushi and sari. Similarly goth and putalya and todas are fast dis­appearing to yield place to bangles and bracelets of various delicate and decorative patterns.

All this holds good in the case of Gujarati and South Indian women residing in Bombay and even in the case of Muslim, Parsee and Christian women. Inferior stones are quite popular among women of low income group families. Girls follow their mothers or often they set the fashion for mothers.



Greater Bombay population is so varied and so representative of practically all States of the Indian Union and all religious and social groups that it is rightly called the epitome of India. The games, sports and amusements indulged in by men and women and children are, therefore so numerous that any attempt to make an exhaustive list of them is certain to be futile. There are of course some games and sports and amuse­ments that are common to all as for instance Cricket and Bridge, the Cinema and Television are of interest to all of them. Games played by children of all communities and nationalities will also be found to be the same or similar with slight variations. In the early play activities of the children could be marked a number of games of the imitative or make believe type wherein various roles like that of a cartman, horse driver, engine driver, music-player, palanquin-bearer are performed with close loyalty to real life. Ghoda-ghoda (horse), Gadi-gadi (cart), Ag-gadi (railway train), Palkhi (palanquin) are games of the sort played with no set rules but, with a good team spirit, every player having some part to perform. Bhatukli is the game of house keeping often played very enthusiastically by girls in which only secondary roles are assigned to boys. Doll's marriage is very often part of this popular play or as an independent game by itself when planned on a somewhat grand scale.

In the case of games of more or less organised types, the method of counting out and choosing players is by itself an interesting process. One player in the group, generally the leader does the counting out. He repeats a rhyme or gingle, touches one player on the chest or head for each accent of the formula, always beginning from himself and then touching the one on the left and so on all around the group in a regular order. The player on whom falls the last accent is 'out' i.e. he is eliminated from the succeeding counts. The procedure is repeated until one player is left out who becomes the ' It'. The toss up or oli-suki (wet and dry) is a very simple and well known method of choosing players.

Shivashivi (ordinary tag) : The players scatter over the playing area and one player is chosen as the ' It' who chases the rest in an attempt to touch one. Any player tagged by the ‘ It' becomes ' It' and the old ' It' joins the other runners. The players add to the zest of the game by venturing as close as possible to the ' It' and tempting him with their proximity and suddenly dodging away. A number of variations are noticeable in the tag game. Chhapapani is a tag game with the restriction that the ' It' cannot touch any player that squats and the player who squats cannot get up unless touched by some other player who is on his feet. Andhali Koshimbir (Blind man's buff) is a game in which one player is selected for making him blind-folded and is made to stand in the centre. Other players circle round him. The blind-folded player tries to catch any of them and when a player is caught it is his turn to be blind-folded.

Lapandav is the game of hide and seek. There must be some hiding places in the playing area. The ' It' is chosen and he is blind-folded. The players run and hide somewhere. One of them signals with a short to declare that all of them have hidden themselves. Now the ' It' unfolds his eyes and starts searching the hidden players who rush to the spot and touch an object previously agreed on before the 'It' can touch them. The player touched by the 'It' before he is able to touch the object becomes the next ' It'.

In Vagh-Bakri i.e., the tiger and the goats, all players but one become goats and file behind the leader who becomes the dhanagar i.e., shepherd. Each player holds the one in front by the waist. The extra player who becomes vagh or tiger moves from side to side in front of the shepherd and tries to touch any one of the goats, the shepherd protecting them by moving himself as the tiger moves. The goat touched by the tiger becomes the new tiger and the old one joins the goats.

Abadabi is a game in which a soft ball either of rags or rubber is tossed up in the air for all to catch and the player who succeeds in doing so hits with the ball any other player who tries to dodge him. The game can continue indefinitely, the players running about either to get the ball or to avoid being hit by it.

Khamb-Khambolya is a game which can be played in a place where there are a number of pillars as for instance a temple hall. The number of players is one more than the number of pillars or posts. Each player is allotted a pillar except the 'It' who has no pillar. Each of the players holds his pillar fast while the ' It' goes from one pillar to another saying Khamb khambolya dere ambolya which means ' Oh pillar, please give me a cake' and the players so addressed ask him to go to the next door neighbour. Meanwhile, other players exchange signals among themselves and while the attention of the ' It' is attracted in some other direction, dash across to exchange places. The ' It' who is on the watch for a vacant pillar dashes for one and makes the pillarless player the next ' It'.

Major Games : A number of major games, both Western and Indian are played by the people. Characteristically, Indian major games require small playing area and practically no equipment. Of the major Indian games the well-known are Atyapatya, Kho-kho, Hututu (Kabaddi), Langadi, Viti-dandu and Lagorya.

Atyapatya is a game of feints, played between two teams, each of nine players. The playfield consists of eight breadthwise strips known as patis or trenches, each 23 feet long and 13 inches wide and laid out one after another equidistantly at 11 feet. The first pati is called the kapal-pati and the last one the lona pati. The sur-pati (central trench) 89 feet long and 13 inches wide intersects the eight patis in the middle to form on both of its sides 14 squares. The space between two consecutive patis is called kondi. The game begins with the ' attackers ' who first stand outside the court near the kapal pati, trying to dodge and slip through the kondis by crossing the patis without getting tagged by the defenders, who move to and from kapal pati each on his designated pati. If any of the' attackers' successfully crosses all the pati from kapal pati to lona pati and makes a return trip from the lona pati to the kapal pati, a lona or game is scored and the game starts afresh. This way, they proceed till the time of seven minutes is over. Then the defenders' become the attackers.

Kho-kho is a game of chase played between two contesting teams, each of nine players. There is a rectangular playfield of 101' x 51' with a centrally located lengthwise strip of 81' x 1' with two wooden posts, each four feet high fixed at two ends. By toss, the teams decide to be chasers or the runners. Eight of the chasers sit in a row on the mid-strip between the posts equidistantly and with no consecutive of them facing the same direction; the ninth player is an active chaser. At a time three runners get into the fair field to play and when they are out, the next group of three immediately enters the field and the active chaser moves from post to post along the lengthwise strip in chase of the runner whom he tries to tag. While chasing he can give a kho signal by a touch of hand on the backside of any of the sitting chasers and make the latter an active chaser and himself sit in the latter's place. If khos are given in quick succession, it becomes difficult for a runner to escape being tagged. A tagged runner is out.

Hututu is an outdoor game contested by two teams of nine players each within a rectangular field of 40' x 30' divided by a central line into two equal halves. Eight feet away from the central line on both sides are two parallel lines crossing the entire width of the field. Two lobbies, each 3 feet wide run along the lengthwise sides. Each team alternately sends a raider into the opponents court to tag or touch the opposite players. The game starts with the raider crossing the central line to enter the opponent's court giving out a continuous hututu without taking fresh breath. He tries to tag as many opposite players as he could without losing breath in the opponents' court. The opposite players struggle to detain the raider until he loses breath while he is in their court. If they succeed the raider is out, but if the raider successfully struggles his way to his court without losing breath all the opposite players that were in touch with him during the struggle are put out.

Langadi, for a long time this game was being played by boys and girls alike, like an ordinary tag game only with the change that the ' It' instead of running used to hop while tagging the other players. In 1935, the Akhil Maharashtra Sharirik Shikshan Mandal framed rules and regula­tions for the game and gave it a standard form. Two contesting teams each of nine players decide by toss who should be the defendants and the attackers. The game is played in a circular field of 15 to 20 feet in radius according to the age or height of the players. One player from the attack­ing side, enters the field hopping through a marked entrance and tries to touch and put out the defenders who run or dodge within the boundary. Only three defenders enter the field at a time. The hopping chaser must not while in the field touch the ground with any part of the body except the hopping foot. The game consists of two innings on each side and each inning is of seven minutes duration. This game is played in most of the schools in Bombay.
Vitidandu is a game contested between two learns, each of nine players, the number of players often depending upon the local variations of the game within different parts of Greater Bombay. It is played with two playing implements a dandu, a stick of solid wood and a viti 2.5 inches thickness and parabola shaped.
Lagorya is a game contested between two teams of players—attackers and fielders, the one trying to knock from a distance a pile of lagoryas, seven conically arranged discs, by an overhead throw of a soft ball, and the others trying to catch the ball in fly either direct or after the first bounce. Points are scored according to the success of knocking the lagoryas and fielding the ball.
Dances : Various types of dances, generally of the nature of folk dances are current among the people. Some devotional dances are presented by professionals while a few are danced for the mere joy of rhythmic movements.
Bhondala : Hadga or Bhondala is a typical rain dance performed by girls, unmarried or newly married, daily during the period (13 to 16 days) the sun is in the 13th constellation of the zodiac called hasta or elephant. A paper drawing of the lotus-seated goddess, Lakshmi with elephants on two sides facing each other with garlands in their trunks and with men and women dressed as kings and queens in cars on their backs is pasted on a wall in the house. On the ground in its front, is placed on a pat with a drawing of an elephant in rangoli. A string of flowers, garlanding the goddess, and another with green fruits and vegetables like the guava, pomegranate, chilli, bhendi etc., hanging are stretched and tied to two pegs in the wall to the right and left of the picture. The girls bathe in the morning, offer turmeric and red powder to the goddess and in the after­noon dance in ring formation with arms interlocked round the pat with the elephant drawing and sing especially composed songs of the hadga. On invitation they go from house to house where there is a hadga worship, repeat the songs and dance and retire after accepting khirapat (light refreshment). For each of the days of dance period, there is one more string of flowers hung and one more song sung and on the last day takes place a complete rehearsal of dance and songs, a grand khirapat and the ceremonial immersion of the deity and the flower strings in a pond or sea.
Mahalakshmi: On the 8th of the bright half of the month of Ashwina, during the first five years after her wedding, the young wife, as is the family custom, has to worship Mahalakshmi. Married girls who are asked to the house, meet and worship at noon an embossed image of Annapoorna goddess, and in the evening an idol of Mahalakshmi prepared from cooked flour of rice is given a human shape adorned with ornaments and dressed in a gorgeous sari, flowers, turmeric and red powder and food are laid before the goddess. Each worshipper offers silk threads to the goddess and is required to blow an empty ghagar, waterpot, there at least five times. During the night each of the girls holds a ghagar in her hands, make a rhythmic musical sound by blowing across the mouth of the ghagar and starts dancing in a circle before the goddess. During the dance one of the girls starts blowing and dancing with greater animation than the rest, a sure sign that the goddess has entered into her. She presently sways her hands and is seized with the power of the goddess. Her friends ply her with questions which the goddess in her is believed to answer. After a while the goddess leaves her and the girl falls in a swoon. The idol is immersed next morning in a nearby well or tank without much ceremony.
Gondhal: Among some Hindu communities, it is customary to have performed a gondhal dance on the occasion of a thread-girding or marriage ceremony as a ritual of thanksgiving to the family goddesses who are generally Ambabai, Bhavani and Durga. Only gondhalis who are profes­sional dancers and devotees of the deities, can give the dance. The dance always takes place at night. At night the dancers bring their musical instruments, a divti, (torch) and the dress of the chief dancer. In the largest room of the house, on a wooden stool, they spread a cholkhan, (bodice-cloth) and on it lay 36 pinches of rice and sprinkle on it turmeric and red powder. In the middle of these pinches of rice is set a tambya, (waterpot) filled with milk and water and lines of sandal are drawn over the pot. On the stool in front of the pot are laid betel-nuts, bananas, dates and lemons. With the help of the chief Gondhali, the head of the family worships the pot as goddess Tuljabhavani, offering it flowers and rice, waving before it a lighted lamp fed with ghee, burning camphor and frankincense. Five male members of the family light five torches and go five times round the goddess, shouting the words Aee Bhavani Jagadamba (Mother Bhavani, Mother of the World). The head dancer dressed in along white lily coat, reaching his ankles and wearing cowri-shell neck­laces and gingling bell anklets takes his stand in front of the goddess. A second of the troupe stands to the right of the headman holding a lighted torch and three others stand behind him playing on a drum, a fiddle and cymbals. On either side of the Gondhali troupe, sit the members of the family, men on one side, women on the other. The head dancer touches the lighted torch with sandal paste, bows low before it and says " Khandoba of Jejuri, come to the gondhala, Tukai Yamai, mother Bhavani come to the gondhala ". He begins singing and dancing going forwards and backwards. The musicians play their drum, fiddle and cymbals and the torch-bearer serves as a butt for the dancer's jokes. The chief, after dancing at a slow pace, without turning round and with little movement of the feet, repeats a story from the Ramayana and explains its meaning. The performance lasts for several hours and sometimes is kept up with frantic enthusiasm till day-break. Occasionally one of the guests becomes possessed and a spirit in him says why it has entered his body. At the end of the dance, a lighted lamp is waved round the goddess and the dancers retire after receiving a suitable present.
Kadak Lakshmi is the devotee of the goddess Ambabai of Kolhapur, The dance is always performed by two, a woman and a man. The man is dressed like a woman, has long hair, no beard but keeps moustaches. With the percussion sound of the drum, the woman starts dancing. She has on her head a box like thing in which an image of the goddess Amba is kept. With a bunch of peacock feathers in her right hand, she starts from one direction towards the opposite direction and making a sort of obeisance by crossing arms over her breasts, she stands marking time asifinatrance.
The male then takes a whip in his hand and with a yell takes a round and then starts whipping himself. After repeating this performance of chastising himself for a number of times and pretending that the goddess is not still satisfied with the penalty he has imposed on himself, takes out a pock-needle and tying his biceps muscles with a string pierces the needle and blood oozes out. While whipping and piercing, he trembles as if he is possessed. The movements, expression and the yells coupled with taking out blood, tend to create an atmosphere of a supernatural pheno­menon and an average person is easily led to believe that the dancers are really possessed.

The Phugadi dance is usually played by girls in pairs. Two girls stand facing each other, keep their feet together with a distance of two or three inches between the toes, cross arms, keep them straight and hold each other's hands, balance the body backwards and each time, stepping the right foot a few inches to the right and sliding the left along with it, start an anti-clockwise movement. As the footwork quickens, the movement gathers in tempo till the dancers get swung in a whirl. The dancers sing out recriminatory couplets and blow rhythmic breathing sounds with the mouth known as pakwa to keep time and zest to the dance.

There are various types of phugadis. Ekahatachi phugdi is danced while holding only the right hands, the left hands being kept resting on the hips. In Gahana phugadi, the players bend the legs and hold the great toes and then start rolling on the back and then sit. In bhui phugadi, the dancers start with a full squatting position and arms resting on knees and then scrape the feet alternately in oblique kicks balancing the steps with backward and forward movements of the arms.

Jhimmas as dances fall in the same category of phugadi with this difference that they could be danced individually and there are no whirling movements done in pairs. In a way, they are calisthenic movements repeated with rhythm of songs and pakwa. Acted in pairs and groups they lead to a competitive zest.

Taking into consideration the enormous population of Bombay which is packed in a compact area of a few square miles, one cannot but deplore the meagre facilities that are there for outdoor games and physical exer­cises. Inevitably outdoor activities in games like cricket, football, hockey are confined to members of such well-to-do sections of society as can afford it, both from the point of view of the necessary leisure and material means. People enjoying a somewhat affluent status enjoy such outdoor amenities like swimming, boating, horse-racing, etc. There are richly endowed clubs of such people and their membership too is quite consi­derable. Tennis and badminton must also be considered as the close preserves of the more lucky sections of society (Information about various Gymkhanas is given in Chapter 18 in Vol. Ill of this Gazetteer.). However, the various gymkhanas in the city and the suburbs, as also the college and school gymkhanas and playgrounds provide for outdoor physical games to young members of the general public and meet to a certain extent, albeit to a very small extent, the need for play and sports.

The craze for cricket among school boys is limitless and their enthusiasm for this game finds expression in many improvisations in the verandahs and terraces of old and new residential buildings to the immense annoyance of the inhabitants. If there is a road under repairs young boys turn it into a cricket field. If the streets and by-lanes are inundated by storm water and waist-deep pools are formed, they enjoy bathing and swimming in them. Such is the pitiable condition of thousands of boys and girls in Greater Bombay for lack of enough paiks and playgrounds and swimming pools.

A place like the Chowpatty sands and the Mahim Bay used to be once upon a time, the venue for boys to indulge in Indian games like kho-kho and atyapatya, but nowhere is this scene to be witnessed now-a-days. But here too schools make some arrangements for cultivating physical build up by organising plays like kabaddi, kho-kho etc. These cost little or nothing and teams of boys as well as girls are known to attain proficiency in them.

Among the indoor games, playing cards occupy an important place. There are numerous private clubs in which people enjoy playing at cards. Bridge and rummy and patience are quite notorious as means of killing time; the old game of ganjpha and songatya are now almost forgotten. But chess has attained well deserved prominence. Similarly carom holds an honourable place in many homes, probably because young and elderly people alike can participate in it at one and the same time.

But, all these hardly enjoy the prestige that football, hockey, cricket and hard court tennis enjoy not only in this city or country but all over the world. Institutions like the Bombay Cricket Association, Cricket Club of India, Indian Hockey Federation, Western India Football Association, Indian Football League, Bombay Provincial Hockey Associa­tion etc., in this city constitute ample evidence of this fact. Players belonging to all communities have distinguished themselves in all these games as not only all India, but also world champions.



Name of section
Area in Km2
Total Population (including Institutional and Houseless Population)
Scheduled Caste Population
Scheduled Tribe Population













All Sections






1   Upper Colaba






2   Middle and Lower Colaba






3   Fort South       






4   Fort North






5   Esplanade






6   Mandvi






7   Chakala






8   Umerkhadi






9   Dongri






10   KharaTalao






11   Kumbharwada






12   Bhuleshwar






13   Market






14   DhobiTalao     






15   Fanaswadi  






16   Khetwadi






17   Tardeo






18   Girgaum






19   Chaupaty






20   Walkeshwar






21   Mahalaxmi






22   Mazagaon






23   Tadwadi 






24   1st Nagpada






25   2nd Nagpada






26   Kamathipura






27   Byculla






28   Parel






29   Sewri






30   Naigaum





31 Matunga
32 Sion
33 Dadar
34 Mahim
35 Prabhadevi
36 Worli
37 Chinchpokli
38 Lovegrove
39 Slaughter House
40 Colwda and Bandra Hill
41 Pali hill
42 Danda
43 Khar Scheme
44 Khar and Pali
45 Hill Road and Turner Road
46 Santacruz West
47 Santacruz Central
48 Santacruz East
49 Vile Parle East
50 Vile Parle West
52 Andheri West
53 Versova
54 Madh
55 Andheri East
56 Jogeshwari East
57 Jogeshwari West
58 Goregaon & Village Maroshi
59 Aarey
60 Eksar Pakhadi
61 Erangal & Daroli
62 Malad West
63 Malad East
64 Kurad, Dindoshi, Chincholi and Vadhwan
65 Valnai, Malavani,Akse & Marve
66 Manori Island
67 Kandivali and Charkop
68 Poisar and Akurli
69 Borivali and Shimpoli
70 Eksar and Mandapeshwar
71 Gorai and Kulvem
72 Kanehri
73 Magathane
74 Dahisar
75 New Mills, Kurla
76 Station Takia, Kurla
77 Swadeshi Mills, Chunabhatti, Khajuribhatti and Kasaiwada.
78 Bazar Church Hall, Naupada & Seven villages
79 Chembur Proper
80 Mahul, Trombay, Govandi, Vadavali, Borla, Mankhurd and Mandala
81 Ghatkopar
82 Kirol, Ghatkopar
83 Panjirapol
84 Vikhroli
85 Bhandup
86 Mulund East
87 Mulund West
88 Nahur,Tulsi, Gundgaon, Vihar, Sai and Klerobad

* The figure 429.89 kms2. constitutes the total of the areas communicated by the Greater Bombay Municipal Corporation for the 88 sections. The Municipal Corporation are is coterminous with that of Greater Bombay District, for which the area reported by Surveyor General of INdia is 603.00 km.2