Today is Varsha Pratipada, the first day of the Hindu Lunar Year. It is also called Yugadi ( first day of the era), or Gudhi Padwa [here in Maharashtra].
Gudhis are bamboo sticks with a coloured silk cloth and a garlanded metal vessel on top, symbolising victory.
A very interesting year has come to an end and now we look forward to what the coming one holds for us.
It promises to be an interesting one, too- particularly in the political sphere!
I won’t bore my friends with a list of events that took place this past year, but I would like to mention in brief just two.
Thanks to Amritsar-based historian Surinder Kochhar, some hidden pages from the history of our colonial past were revealed about a month ago in the town of Ajnala, in Punjab, reminding us yet again of the great sacrifices made by those who fought for our freedom.
“When a well in Ajnala, was dug up (digging started on February 28), it brought alive a long-known legend — that this is where 282 Indian soldiers who rebelled against the British during the 1857 uprising were buried.
Surinder Kochhar, who led the group of amateur excavators, says the decision to excavate the well was based on historical research.
According to popular history, the 282 soldiers buried in the Ajnala well were part of a platoon of 500 soldiers of the 26th Native Infantry who had revolted at the Mian Mir Cantonment in Lahore during the 1857 uprising and had swum across Ravi to reach Ajnala town in Amritsar.
Around 218 of their comrades were killed by the British at Dadian Sofian village near Ajnala. Of the remaining 282, many were captured and put in a cage-like room where several died of asphyxiation, while the rest were shot dead. Their bodies were then thrown into the well.”
Talking about this discovery of the bodies of freedom fighters in the well, Kochhar said, “A lot of research has gone into this. I didn’t dream of the well.”
He was probably referring to another excavation attempt of a totally different type, which took place earlier this year.
In October 2013, a local seer named Shobhan Sarkar had a dream. A dream about 1000 tonnes of gold buried near the palace of 19th century king Rao Ram Baksh Singh, in Daundia Khera village in Unnao district, Uttar Pradesh.
The seer said that the spirit of the king still roamed around the palace and pleaded to him to liberate it by digging out the gold buried beneath his palace.
“In an attempt to materialise his dream, Sarkar had sought the help of his devotee and the union Minister of State for Agriculture Charan Das Mahant, and the PMO, following which the survey and excavation were undertaken.”
After eleven days of digging, The ASI officials finally declared that no gold treasure lay hidden beneath the fort.
Perhaps it would be appropriate to make a resolution this New Year,
“अपने अतीत को पढ़कर
अपना इतिहास उलटकर
अपना भवितव्य समझकर
हम करें राष्ट्र का चिंतन |
हम करें राष्ट्र आराधन…..
हम करें राष्ट्र आराधन…..|”[to know and understand our past,to turn this page of our history,to decide what direction our future should takeand consider what would be of benefit to our society, our nation.]