Torchbearers of tradition carry legacy with élan
LUDHIANA: It was that time of the year again on Wednesday when the family of ‘kahars’, otherwise engaged in odd-jobs in banks, electrical shops or farms in their hometown, Sunet, gather in the old city with the beginning of Navratras to perform the 100-year-old ritual of carrying the ‘dola’.
The 12 men, who represent the fourth generation of the family that has kept alive the ritual, lifted the wooden dola on their shoulders that weighs over 500 kg and is itself said to be as old as the ritual. As they carried the dola from Thakur Dwara Nauhrian to the Ramlila Maidan in Daresi, this Sikh family of ‘kahars’ also seemed to act as the true torchbearers of communal harmony.
The ‘singhasan’, as the dola is also called, carried the artists dressed as Ram, Sita, Laxman, Bharat and Shatrughan, who are performing in the Ramlila on the ground that would conclude with Bharat Milap. The event is organised by the Ramlila committee.
The family that says its roots traces back to Pakistan, claims it has been performing this ritual for a century now as it is passed on from one generation to the next.
Said Mahinder Singh, the great grandson of Harnama Ram and eldest of the 12 men, “Generations ago, the community traditionally worked as watermen, fishermen and carriers of palanquins on shoul- ders. Today, with technological development, these jobs no longer require human effort and we have moved on to different occupations.
But once in a year, we are in our element as we carry the ‘dola’ to Daresi.
Many people feel amazed as they witness us carrying the heavy dola but we tell them it is in our blood.”
The dola, that is kept in the temple throughout the year, is ‘renovated’ just days before the ceremony as it is given a fresh coat of paint and decorated.