Why Doll beating is a Tradition in India and why this country still Fascinates me!

Gadi-Sagar-Temple-India“No mom, I am not making any dolls this year! I am 22 for crying out loud! What’s the logic? It’s so senseless. No, I am not wearing new clothes today, Oh wait! Maybe I will wear new clothes but that’s it, I am not doing anything more!” This was the Nth argument I had with my mother regarding the countless traditions and rituals being followed at my home.

“Sweetheart it all makes sense. It has a story and we have a reason to celebrate it”, my mother protested for the Nth time.

“Really? Let me hear one of those then”, I said.

My mom gave me that I-know-I-am-right smile and started this narration.

Millions of years ago there was a Kingdom which was thriving beautifully. Gold coins were used as currency and everyone had food to eat & a home to sleep. The King of that kingdom was a very generous man and he loved his people. His only weakness was his beautiful daughter. But as everything good has a down side, this did to. The kingdom came in the prying eyes of other Kings who were very jealous of this ‘Golden Kingdom’. This led them to send many hundreds of Black Magicians to finish off every sign of wealth that the kingdom showed.123rf.com

After some days, news of disturbing occurrences started reaching the King. He was very worried. He decided to go to the root of the problem. After days of investigation, the news of some strange people roaming around the neighbourhood was confirmed. According to sources, whenever these Black Magicians looked somewhere and chanted under their breath, all wealth vanished from that spot. The King was a great believer of Black Magic so he believed this story instantly. Magic was not uncommon in those days.

So he called the most learned Black Magician of his kingdom and asked him to tell a solution. The magician suggested that dolls of these intruders should be made and beaten up properly to make them disappear from the kingdom. So that all they have made to vanish in these days comes back. He added that once the dolls are beaten all the evil powers roaming around the kingdom will also abandon the kingdom.http://www.instablogsimages.com/1/2012/11/26/jodhpur_india_8jaij.jpg

31 such dolls were made and beaten up. Soon after all those 31 Black Magicians left the kingdom and the people of that ‘Golden Kingdom’ lived happily ever after. So every year we make these dolls so that all the evil powers that might be residing at our home recede away.

So here you go, this is the story.”

“Mom, do you think I will believe something like that? Black Magic? Are you serious?” I laughed.

“Sweetie there’s a reason why we are the oldest civilization of the world. We are from the times when magic actually existed. Those were the times when people were not so corrupt, when people could actually talk to God. I know it sounds obnoxious to you but it is the truth. You always have two choices in life, to accept your legacy and be proud of it or to make fun of it. Be proud and people will respect you. Try and be someone else, you will see its results too.”

I knew she had hit a nerve. I had nothing to say except, “Then why only the brothers and sisters do that? Why not you or dad?”http://www.hdwallpapers.in/walls/agra_fort_india-normal.jpg

She smiled again and said, “ The Hindu calendar has its own 12 months. The month of Sawan is Lord Shiva‘s (who is among the 3 primary Gods of Hinduism) month and is solely dedicated to the Brother Sister relationship. That’s why we also celebrate Rakshabandhan, Teej, etc. All these festivals fall in this month of Sawan. The doll beating festival falls on the fifth day of this month and called ‘Naag Panchmi’ meaning the Fifth day of the month where snakes play an important role.”

“Snakes?” I asked.

“Yes, snakes. While you conveniently ignored that you are right now in the monsoon season, it was the same millions of years ago too. The Indian land was home to thousands and millions of Saints who meditated for decades together without moving an inch. Who protects them from the monsoon leeches and creatures? The snakes did. So, we pay respect to the snakes for protecting us from these deadly monsoon creatures.” Mom concluded.old india

I was stunned, mainly because I had spent 22 years of my life trying to give a scientific explanation to each and everything that happened in my life. But here I was having this ‘magical’ conversation with my mom. Although I accepted my defeat and told her that I believe all this. But I knew how hard it was for me to not brush it aside as one of those millions of stories that each tradition had with it.

It’s almost unbelievable when you can actually hear a story which is somewhat logical related to each ritual and tradition followed by us in India. Maybe that’s why India is called as the land of Gods and Goddesses. There must have been a reason and THAT I am sure of. You can still encounter magic in the oldest and dingiest of places and ignore it as a hallucination, but trust me, it’s something else……..

PS: Sometimes logic doesn’t work but the sheer power of old magical stories does. I had to give in and then I celebrated it. The pictures are taken by me and I made these dolls with my cousin (picture attached).


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14 thoughts on “Why Doll beating is a Tradition in India and why this country still Fascinates me!

  1. This is your best story ever. It is so endearing, then when you add the pictures of you and your cousin, and your dolls, it demonstrates a very sweet relationship that you and your mother have. I love this!

      • There is no specific answer to that, I know thousands of people but you are my only facebook friend too. If you look at my facebook friend list you will see maybe 200 people. which means I don’t add everyone. I add a few people who I like very much and you are one of them. You are soo good 🙂

      • Awww now I am blushing. What a nice compliment. I have about 200 friends, too because I have about 200 friends! 🙂 Lots of love to you Tanushree! 🙂

  2. I’m glad you chose to write about Naag Panchami, it is part of my childhood memories from decades ago. Wonderful that it lives on in a time when our roots are getting shallower and shallower.

    • Hi Java! This post is so old, I dont know how you found it, but yes i loved the festival as a kid and even now, even after constantly bickering about making those dolls, we still do and enjoy every bit of it. I am surprised you know about it, majority dont relate to the tradition 🙂

  3. Wow.. Thank you so much for this mesmerizing story. Being from Lucknow I have celebrated this festival as well but somehow could never think of an explanation. It was now in Mumbai that I had to face this for my curriculum.
    I was doing my research on the festival of “Gudia” and could not come across a sane meaning for it. But the explanation from your mother is an eye opener on how we look onto things. The society is teaching us something, it is on us to see the negative or the positive aspect of it.
    Thank You for the title… This country really amazes me as well. 🙂

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