Thursday, March 28, 2013

Padharo Bhunga Ma

December no January yeah it was in January this year when we had visited Kutch. Actually to grab a bit of what is called The Rann Utsav. In these few years being endorsed by Mr Amitabh Bachchan who is the brand ambassador of Gujarat. i am astonished at how the people in my housing society addicted to the so many soap operas on TV were perplexed when upon arrival back to base they first interrogated me on my absence for a week then after knowing where i had been to said something like this, " Run Utsav...kya daud me gayay thay kahaan, dilli mein ya kahin baahar...???" ( Had you gone to participate in any run, in Delhi or outstation... ???) Can't blame them much although entering home and after dumping our luggage we did feel perplexed too how they could have missed Mr Bachchan and his, " Jara Kuch din toh gujaro Gujrat mein...". How could they have not smelled Khushboo Gujrat Ki. (Aroma of Gujarat- The famous tagline of Gujarat Tourism rendered catchy and so luring by Mr Amitabh Bachchan. )

So, when i'm not talking of personal stuff or about trees and plants my posts shall feature some of the treats that i had at Run aka Rann. Actually my earlier post on Sona Behn was a solid chunk of my kitty.
Thankfully i also have before me this. A visit to this artist's village situated in the Banni grasslands region of Kutch in Gujarat.
i must confess here that i did feel strongly about correcting the spellings of all those words on that billboard. Emabroidery, lether, beg, Eplic, Antic and then thought gosh! do i know these words in my own mother tongue Hindi ! Do they have their own words in their own dialect for that or everything comes under Kutchee or Bhujee work ?!!. Must find out then. The local words for all that they do.
Entering the village i first saw lots and lots of this tree what they call in Hindi as Vilayati Babul and thanks to my own interest in trees Prosposis juliflora. Yes i am richer today because i know the local Kutchee/Bhujee or perhaps the Gujarati name too. Gando Baval.
 We had laughed my husband and i not because of the name but because it did remind us about the vulgar expletives commonly used in Bihar by those who just wouldn't be bothered about it's impact on the rest. 
 The tree which dots the terrains of Kutch never looked so appealingly good until we saw it here next to this mudflat house called Bhunga in Gujarati.

i was completely taken away by the simplistic beauty of this cute cottage in which i wouldn't mind living myself. Plastered with mud and cow dung so evenly and neatly the Bhungas with their circular structure are cool in summers and warm in winters. And i just loved the drawings on the walls, the small and partially latticed windows, that permanent sitting chair near the entrance, the low fencing with local wood but evenly plastered on the edges looking good aesthetically and feeling smooth on touching perhaps proclaiming no boundaries here just a demarcation of the living residential area from the pathway...

Also what i found most endearing was this plaque written in Gujarati hand-painted on a piece of perhaps broken -from -some- terracotta nailed on the wall outside welcoming one and all. Although the door was closed as we were told the residents were away we nevertheless had the pleasure of soaking into the comfort of that home and imagining the inside as to how it would be. Few functional things and no clutter of the ostentatious urban world. Padharo Bhunga Ma. The local sound of Gujarati. Translated it means You are most welcome- to our mud hut home.
The entire area looked eye-catching and so appealing to the senses and one could not help but just admire the artistic temperament of the village folks who are also famous for their Lippan work. Lippan is the local word for the art which means plastering. Plastering Of walls with a mixture of mud, thatch and cow- dung and decorating it with figures and mirrors.

Lippan, the same art used to decorate their natural refrigerators/ cold storage where they store not only grains but sometimes their green vegetables too if they have more to keep. That is whatever they don't need to cook for the day.

Before i got caught up with the cuteness of kids hanging around my eyes also fell on this.
This is what they use to make buttermilk called masala chhach. Masala chacch! cool yummy and very refreshing especially in the summers. Otherwise thick and very delectable sweet yoghurt drink called Lassi.
i was just too distracted to take a full shot of the apparatus because the cute pies were tugging on to my tunic asking for something so the other shot has the remaining of the apparatus, the rest of that long pole which is twisted with the rope to churn the buttermilk. Besides i am still trying to get better with my new camera. Actually distracted or not distracted that seems to be the absolute truth.

Now last but not the very least those who kept following me around. Those cute kids of that particular Bhunga who kept asking me for chocolate. i was so cross with my guide who had not informed me enough although he did impart me with some new knowledge about the place and it's people. 
The cute pies did get something from me and whatever i gave them i'm sure they were happy with that and my attention. But the chocolates would have magnified their delight ten times on having me as a guest in their Bhunga. There ought to be no doubt about that.
The next thing i did was to buy two big huge packets of Cadbury's Eclairs on my next stop at a refreshment stall near the main road. i was about to visit another village and i did not want to disappoint the cute souls there. Call it Murphy's law or whatever i did visit another village but there were no cuteepies there to ask me for chocolates.

Somethings are just too common and it helps if you know them beforehand. Not for anything but for the happiness in the heart. Since i had known it beforehand i had carried packets of cheap ball point pens once. The kids that you come across while taking the backwaters ride in a gondola like boat called kettuvallam in Kerala once upon a time greeted me with shouts saying, Penna! Penna!!. Can't forget the joy and fullness i had felt when they had with all the light in their eyes shouted in chorus, "Thank You Sister!! Bye Bye Sister..."
Wonder if those kids living in those floating islands in Kerala still ask for pens. These in the villages of Bhuj in Gujarat ask for Chocolates.

Leaving the village and remembering it with a smile, also feeling a bit sorry for being chocolateless, i just realized that i had forgotten to ask many of their local words for emabroidery, lether, eplic and antic... Self consoling and correcting i had heard someone say," Okay so what! u know ONE- Lippan now stay chill !!...enjoy the moment !!"

Such is the beauty of simple places of unassuming but talented to the core people. It renders all sense about words, spellings and everything that's supposed to be educated and civilized useless and pointless.

Before i quit for the time being i'll do what is so typical of me. Cramming knowledge on to my single page. Thanks to technology. It makes my job so easy. Copy pasting at the press of a button. But for a change i shall put only 2 facts here.
 i need to remind of the disaster of 26th January 1999 when that devastating earthquake had hit Gujarat. It was the Bhuj region that was the most affected and there was a lot of calamity and death. Strange but true, the Bhungas were the least affected by that earthquake which had measured 7.9 on the Richter scale, it's epicenter being 13 miles north east of Bhuj.

Now for the facts: These have lovingly been borrowed from the internet.
Fact 1. "The name "Rann" comes from the Hindi word ran (रण) meaning "desert". The Hindi word is derived fromSanskrit/Vedic word iriṇa (इरिण) attested in the Rigveda and Mahābhārata."
Fact # 2. Bhungas are closely linked to the identity of Kutch desert areas. They are single cylindrical structures put close to each other to form a house. In common terminology, each bhunga would be equivalent to a room in a house.

Disaster Resistance/ Structural System

Earthquake imparts lateral forces on the structure. Due to the circular plan of a bhunga, one half part of a bhunga always reacts as an arch against the forces applied from any direction that the earthquake waves hit the structure. Thus, bhunga uses a circular shape for its maximum advantage against lateral forces of an earthquake.
Corners are the weaker parts against lateral forces of an earthquake. Since there are no corners in a bhunga, it makes the structure more stable in earthquake situation.
The walls of a bhunga are very low. This helps the stability of the structure during the earthquake. This is possible due to the conical shape of the roof of bhunga, which comes quite low at the periphery while still forming high ceiling near the central usable space.
Roof of the bhunga is made out of thatch and is light weight. Lightweight roof is also very helpful against the lateral forces of the earthquake and causes less damage.
Bhungas are independent circular structures and do not share common walls with any structures. Thus there is no impact of load of one structure on the other. They react independently to the lateral forces of the earthquake.
Its circular shape helps during the cyclones too. There is no obstruction to the wind movement. The circular shape does not create big pressure difference between two sides of the structure.
In mud or stone construction of bhungas, the walls are thick. This makes the surface less penetrative for the heat. The lippan done on the walls is also less conductive which adds to the thermal comfort inside the bhunga.
Bhungas have small openings, this helps in extreme climate of the region.
Thatch roof is a weak conductor of heat and adds to the thermal comfort.
The roof overhang of a bhunga comes quite low casts shadows on the walls and protects the walls from the direct sunrays.
...that does it for today and before i quit i have to say this in Gujarati...
                                                                          Aankho thi Kahevu
                                                                          Aasan nathi
                                                                          Ane Chup Rahevu te
                                                                          Samadhan nathi
                                                                          Kahi dejo dil Kholi ne
                                                                          Hraday ni Vaat..
...or i can say this in English just to compare which feels better...
                                                                          Not easy to speak with the eyes.
                                                                          But being silent is no remedy either
                                                                          Speak for all you have to
                                                                          Words in your heart...



  1. Very intersting and cool pics. Art and craft always fascinates me.


    Himanshu Nagpal | Being Traveler

  2. @ Himanshu first of all a very warm welcome to u. Thank you for taking time out to go through and then comment. Hope i get to see more of u here on my page. :)

  3. What a lovely place! and very beautiful pictures esp loved that Lippan work :)
    Thanks for sharing your experiences :)

  4. @ Sri Valli thanks for appreciating with words how u felt about my experience. Hope i get to see more of you on my page. That u stopped by makes me very happy. Will soon pay a visit to ur colourful and creative page. :)

  5. Such fascinating pictures and fabulous description that for a moment I felt those kids were following me on this trip.

    Loved your last post on Sona behn too!

    Fashion Trend: Customized Neon Leather Satchel

  6. @Lipsy...awww!! such a cute name. :) Thank u Lipsy for ur lovely words sure has made my day.Hope u continue to be patient as i go on in my talking but for sharing spree. :)