Window Seat | Mrinal Chatterjee

The Kanwadias

You will find tens of thousands of them in the month of Sraban in Odisha, West Bengal, Bihar, Delhi, Haryana and other North Indian states

Dressed in ochre shorts and banyans  or salwar kameej or saree, with a bamboo pole (called kanwad in Hindi and  bahungi  in Odia) across the shoulders carrying pot full of water walking barefoot to some Shiva Temple. Kanwadias they are called.

The rituals vary a little across states. But one common phenomena is the increase in the number of Kanwadias. It has increased so much so that it has started affecting the traffic and vehicular movement. And near the Shiva Temple, it has started creating serious sanitation problem.

The number of kanwadias have grown many fold in the last decade or so. It is a real mystery how the number has grown so fast and so big, considering the fact that it a difficult and painful journey. As per the custom in Odisha, you have to walk barefoot and you cannot keep the kanwad or bahungi just at any place and rest. People walk 50-60 miles carrying the bahungi on their shoulder, resting at some designated places on the roadside. In Bihar there is a custom known as Dak Bom, in which the devotees walk non-stop to pour water on the Shiva Linga.

However, the growing number of kanwadias in no way suggests spiritual growth in the society. Many groups of kanwadias are menace to the society. Their ruckus music, disruptive movements create problems. It has started creating law and order problem as well.

Dooms Day nearing?

Edward Gibbon (1737 – 1794), an English historian and Member of Parliament wrote in The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, that there were five major attributes that marked the closing days of the great Roman Empire. 1. There was an increasing love of show and luxury; that is, affluence. 2. There was a widening gap between the very rich and the very poor. 3. There was an obsession with s-e-x. 4. There was freakishness in the arts masquerading as originality and creativity. 5. There was an increased desire to live off the state.

There is an uncanny similarity with what is happening in India now.

Tailpiece1: Makkhi

Wife: Kya kar rhe ho?

Man: Makkhiya mar rha hu

W: Kitni mari?

M: 3 male aur 2female

W: Kese malum?

M: Kyun ki 3daru Ki botal Se chipki thi or 2phone Se

(Courtesy: Aman Jindjaan on facebook)

Tailpiece 2: Kya Common Hai?

Mandir k bahar Chappal rakhane me aur Miscall dene me kya common hai?

…..Hamesa dar laga raheta he k sala udhar se utha na le…!!!

(Courtesy: Sudhansu Deo )



The author, a journalist turned media academician lives in Dhenkanal, a Central Odisha town surrounded by hills. He also writes fiction and radio plays.


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