One balmy navratri afternoon, just when I was about to nod off, a raucous loudspeaker suddenly sprung up right below my balcony and without so much as a by your leave— or a statutory warning, which I feel should be made mandatory for such cases— started blaring out the colony Auntyji Bhajan Mandali's exceptionally discordant tunes.
As can be expected of any normal human being, I instantly lost my cool and sense of humour at this direct transmission of God into my ears.
However, in this festive season, when bhakti is at its peak in Dilli, raising the issue of noise pollution publicly is the closest you can come to committing harakiri or getting lynched. Therefore, I desisted.
But I poured my rants out in several status updates and tweets instead. When in angst, I usually turn to social media. So:
I cribbed about the lack of aesthetics and spirituality in the singing.
I threw out big phrases in the air: trivialisation, commercialisation and vulgarisation of religion et al.
I even cursed out the maata raani bhakts in their own lingo: bhagwan tumhe kabhi maaf nahin karega.
But some sympathetic friends and followers provided succour: from offering a day out with their cats to advising me to rent monster speakers from the nearest tentwala and play, say, French music on it. Full blast.
But it was all not all that grim, let me confess when we turned to the words being sung out.
The ingenuity of the bhajan "Mataji aaj humein neend nahin aayegi, suna hai teri mehfil mein jagraata hai" set to the tune of the iconic Sahib Biwi Aur Ghulam mujra "Saakiya aaj mujhe neend nahin aayegi" had almost everyone weeping in sheer joy.
Instantly many bhajans set to popular Bollywood songs, the sort I am told are routinely played in buses on the way to Vaishno Devi, were recollected and forwarded, while I collected them all in my jholi.
Here is a sampling of some of those that stood out:
- "Ye duniya ye duniya pittal di, mata rani sone di"...
- "4 baj gaye lekin aarti abhi baaki hai"...
- "Mataaaa! la la la la la la (tune: Brazeeeeel)...
- "Arti all night, arti all night" (tune: Party all night)...
- "Maataa, Mata maharani.." (tune: Sheela ki jawaani)...
- "Waise jagrate sattatarh yahan re, bula le mata kar ke ishare, bhakti meri muft kee" (tune: Yun to premi pichhattar)...
It is not just the above (incomplete) list of 'Jai Maata Di' bhajans that was in my hands, but also Bollywood parodies used in Bollywood films themselves.
Like: O meri Maata... in Bajatey Raho... where Vinay Pathak does a fabulous take off of Narinder Chanchal, the man who single-handedly made events out of neighbourhood jagraataas
Or...Joti jalaile maiyya ki piya, o maiyya tere saath hai in Atithi Tum Kab Jaaoge:
Then this short and sweet one: Shera wali shera wali ambe maa in Rockstar
The discovery of the day, however, was Sharda Maata whose cult produces sheer gems like: Ramkali maihar chali
and Darshan ko Maihar tu le chal piya, Tension free kar degi maiyya:
An old Narinder Chanchal charmer came calling again: "Hello. Kaun? Meri Maa!" Mandiron se maa ne telephone kiya hai came much before Maa ka phone aaya
And yet another, which, well, is in a league entirely of its own: JMD D D D JMD D D D:
And, lastly, let me end with a bhajan for the social media generation. For those busy on Facebook, Youtube and Twitter: Jeevan ki hard disk ko aaj se format kar lo, bhagto chalti saanson mein tum jai maa jai maa bhar lo...
Amen! Or maybe I should just say: JMD.