Monday, June 2, 2008

NAG MURALS IN THE WALLED CITY OF AHMEDABAD



In a large number of pol houses in the walled city of Ahmedabad we find a strange kind of mural mostly in the puja room and also sometimes outside of the house. The mural painted in black shows snakes, centipede, and scorpion along with household objects, such as pots, palna (cradle), butter churning rod, and natural elements like sun and moon.

The mural is painted on the occasion of Nag Panchami during monsoon.

In the past, unlike today the roads and lanes in the pol area were not paved. Even the houses had unpaved floors. In the monsoon snakes and other reptiles common in the region used to come out from their shelters and disturb the residents. Sometimes even people died due to the snake bites. So thereby a belief cropped up allowing people to start worship cobra on the occasion of Nag Panchami.

The curious looking mural evolved as a part of fear shows some of the household elements so that the cobra along with his family would be able to live comfortably in the shelter -the cradle for sleeping, pots for water and butter for diet – and they would not come out to disturb the human beings. Sun and moon are also painted to show day and night. People fast on this day and make bajra nu laddu and another sweet made up banana and milk.

Years back before the wild life protection act Madaris used to come from nearby villages to the houses of every pol members and their snakes used to be fed by the house members. But today there are no such sights. Yet the tradition of mural continues.