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At sharp 7 a.m. every day, Kolhapur Municipal Corporation’s (KMC) Deputy Mayor Sanjay Mohite of the Congress exits his home, breathes the fresh morning air, hops onto his bicycle, and starts on a brisk round of the tiny Sykes Extension Ward in this erstwhile royal town in western Maharashtra.
The Congress leader’s two-hour daily routine is unchanged for over five years to serve his 6,000-plus constituents, many hurrying for their morning chores like buying milk, bread or vegetables, many nodding their heads, while others greeting with ‘Namaste’ or ‘Good Morning’, irrespective of the season.
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At one corner of the main road, the soft-spoken Mohite, 60, espies a group of worried citizens and stops his bicycle to enquire about their concerns. One of them points to a roadside drain and informs how since last evening it has got choked, stinking, and on the verge of overflowing onto the roads, not a pleasant sight in what is supposed to be a former proud royal kingdom of the Chhatrapati of Kolhapur.
“I immediately call up the concerned persons in the KMC, wait till they sent a team, and ensure the work is completed as soon as possible. Occasionally, it can even take more time, so I follow it up regularly till the matter is resolved,” Sanjay Mohite told IANS. Then, Mohite pedals away to resolve the next problems, the nuisance of some uncollected garbage bins, at times water issues, minor road repair works, blank streetlights, et al.
“I am inspired by Mahatma Gandhi to take up such a ‘mass-contact’ form of public service… Gandhiji used to live and work among the masses and could gauge the pulse of the people. The problems may be small, but people expect immediate redressal from the elected representatives, and it’s their right in a democracy,” Mohite pointed out.
The ‘Cycle Samaritan’, as some people fondly call him, said that on average he catches up with at least two dozen people daily, more on some days, and as a result, the “entire ward knows me personally”. “You ask any other elected representatives like ministers, legislators, parliamentarians, or corporators from any political party, they will acknowledge my services to the people,” Mohite said on his cycle sojourn.
A good cricketer and staunch Congressman all his life, his pedaling has not gone waste but got rich dividends — the Sykes Extension Ward won the Maharashtra government’s coveted ‘Sant Gadge Maharaj Swachhata Abhiyan’ award six times in the last 10 years.
Besides, Sanjay Mohite — a self-confessed big fan of Amitabh Bachchan — has been instrumental in getting generous funds allocated for various community and development projects in the ward, to the tune of over Rs 3 crore in the last five years, which struck a chord with the locals. Some of the works include road repairs, improving the drainage networks, setting up a community hall, starting a gym, gardens, a walking track, etc. for the people of the ward.
“He not only understands the peoples’ issues thoroughly but also takes them up as a ‘personal challenge’ to resolve them with the endeavor to make his ward the best place for all his constituents,” said P.M. Joshi, a Kolhapur resident.
Though Sanjay Mohite believes in the power of technology and modern communication modes, he feels nothing can beat the ‘personal contact’ of leaders with their constituents, not even adopting the current social media fads. He revealed how in the past he would zoom around the city on a scooter, but later he found a bicycle more convenient and cheap, which also keeps him fit and active, and endears him more to the masses.
Delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the elections to the Congress-run KMC shall be announced early next year and it is likely that the party will reward Mohite with a ticket for the third term. (IANS)
During the festive season, kitchens are filled with people trying to find a space for them to work, while they contribute to the eventual feast. In India, festivals are one of the most important things that bind families and friends together over food. Diwali is of those festivals that apart from being known for the colors and lights, is known and remembered by the elaborate dishes that each family doles out.
In Karnataka, parts of Gujarat and Maharashtra, and South India in general, making obbattu/ holige/ puran poli is a festive ritual. Known as Holige, more popularly in Kannada, this dish is eaten as a dessert because of its sweetness but can be eaten as a meal in itself because of its nutritious value.
Holige is traditionally a flatbread filled with jaggery, coconut, chickpeas, or channa dal. Sometimes, it has vegetables and fruits. It is popularly made to celebrate Ugadi, the Kannada new year but is also eaten during Diwali. Making Holige involves multiple steps and be incredibly fun to do when done together as a family.
The ingredients laid out to begin cooking holige Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
Making Holige is very similar to making parathas. A sweet filling consists of smashed dal or chickpeas seasoned with spices like cardamom, which is rolled out. a maida-based dough which will make the outer covering is rolled into a thin circle. After cooking the dal with jaggery, it is placed in the centre of the dough and cooked until it resembles a paratha. The marbling on the dough with a characteristic yellow background is the typical Holige. Ghee is smeared at every stage and at every turn of the Holige on the pan to ensure that it holds its shape.
Holige is made only one at a time and eaten immediately off the stove as it tends to exude a lot of moisture. This comes from the melted jaggery and ghee. Holige makes for an extremely delicious dessert and is perhaps one of the most awaited festive specialties. Depending on the state it is made in, it is served with varying accompaniments.
Keywords: Holige, Diwali festival, Dessert, Obbattu, Karnataka, the festive season, Kannada new year
Kerala Kalamandalam that teaches the globally recognized art form of Kerala -- Kathakali, has for the first time in its history of 90 years, admitted girl students.
In class VII of Kalamadalam, out of 10 students admitted, 9 are girl students for its Kathakali course. Kathakali is a highly masculine art form with even the female characters being portrayed by men. The attempt is being welcomed across the world.
However several women had started practicing Kathakali in 1970 and 1990 and K.K. Gopalakrishnan, renowned art critic of Kerala in his research book, 'Kathakali Dance - Theatre', said that some women from foreign countries had trained for some short-term courses in Kerala on Kathakali.
Most of these performing women artists were either trained privately by Kathakali masters but this is the first time that Kalamandalam is taking in girl students for its long-term programme.
T.K. Narayanan, Vice-Chancellor, Kerala Kalamandalam told media persons that giving admission to girl students in Kalamadalam was a demand for several quarters since long and that this academic year the governing body has decided to give admission to girl students in a full-time programme at Kalamandalam.
Training at Kalamandalam from school days would expose the students to the teaching and guidance of experts and a diverse pool of teachers of the institute who have huge exposure and deep knowledge of the subject. (IANS/JB)
Keywords: Kerala culture, Kathakali, Dance Culture, kathakali Tradition, Kerala Kalamandalam
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday said the Delhi government would arrange free-of-cost travel for senior citizens from Delhi to Ayodhya.
"I want every Indian should be fortunate enough to have a 'darshan' (visit) of Ram Lalla. I am a small man but Lord Ram has given me enough and I will use my position to help people to come for darshan here," Kejriwal added after offering prayers at the Ram Janmabhoomi temple in Ayodhya on Tuesday.
Speaking to the media, he said, "I pray to Lord Ram to help India move ahead in the world and bring prosperity for 130 crore people."
Kejriwal, who visited the Hanuman Garhi temple, said he was fortunate enough to be in Ayodhya and seek blessings from Lord Ram for the welfare of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and the rest of the country.
The Delhi Chief Minister had arrived at the temple town on Monday and attended the 'Sarayu aarti' where he interacted with saints and seers. (IANS/JB)
Keywords: Ayodhya, Ayodhya Ram Mandir, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, Ram Mandir for senior citizens, Ram Janmabhoomi temple.