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World’s Largest Open Air Laundromat: 25,000 Washermen of Mumbai’s Iconic ‘Dhobi Ghat’ to move into Tall Towers

The state government may consider giving a new look to the Dhobi Ghat itself by improving and beautifying the surroundings of the locality, which is spread across a sprawling 23 acres of land

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'Dhobi Ghat'
Dhobi Ghat in Mumbai. Wikimedia
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Mumbai, November 25, 2016: The 25,000 washermen of Mumbai’s iconic ‘Dhobi Ghat’ — the scene of scores of Bollywood movies and the world’s largest open air laundromat — will move into tall towers, courtesy of a slum rehabilitation project which got underway on Friday.

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The washer folk living with their families in tiny slum dwellings surrounding the Dhobi Ghat, besides other ancillary industries, have given their consent to Omkar Realtors & Developers, said company Executive Director Kaushik More.

“The development project will not hamper the century-old heritage site comprising 731 washing pens and flogging stones, drying areas and the community areas of Dhobi Ghat, which is also a major tourist destination,” More said.

While 4,000 families have already moved out another 1,000 will shift within the next few months and Omkar plans to hand over their swank new 270 sq. feet flats with full amenities in towers surrounding the Dhobi Ghat, More added.

Later, the state government may consider giving a new look to the Dhobi Ghat itself by improving and beautifying the surroundings of the locality, which is spread across a sprawling 23 acres of land.

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The washermen — known as ‘dhobis’ — work in the open with non-stop running water supply, drainage, washing soaps, detergents, whiteners and other accessories to manually wash big and small clothes in bulk, mostly from corporate clients, hospitals and deluxe hotels.

They are as unique to Mumbai as the famous ‘dabbawallas’, who pick up and deliver lunch boxes on time to lakhs of Mumbaikars daily.

Constructed in 1890 to cater to the washing requirements of the British and Parsis living in Mumbai, Dhobi Ghat stands adjacent to the Mahalaxmi station in south Mumbai, comprising rows of open-air concrete wash pens and a heavy flogging stone.

In 2013, it added a new feather to its cap by bagging a Guinness World Record for the largest number of people washing clothes simultaneously, adding to its more than a century-old reputation.

It has over a dozen separate entry gates, where the hordes of washermen gain entry around 5 a.m. and they continue washing and drying clothes till 10 p.m., round-the-year.

Flocks of wide-eyed domestic and foreign tourists, walk around the Dhobi Ghat daily, or click pictures from the Mahalaxmi bridge. Many also click selfies with the dhobis heaving and puffing while washing the heavy laundry.

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Bollywood director Kiran Rao (wife of Aamir Khan) had directed her first film named “Dhobi Ghat” (2011). Former US President Bill Clinton also paid a visit to the area once.

Dhobi Ghat has been a constant favourite with Bollywood directors. Notable among them are scenes in “Munnabhai MBBS”, Amitabh Bachchan’s “Don” and many more. (IANS)

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Mahalaya: Beginning of “Devipaksha” in Bengali Celebration of ‘Durga Puja’

“Mahalaya” is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha” and heralds the celebration of Durga Puja

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Mahalaya morning in Kolkata. Flickr
  • Mahalaya 2017 Date: 19th september.
  • On Mahalaya, people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers; which is called ‘Torpon’
  • Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted in All India Radio
  • The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent

Sept 19, 2017: Autumn is the season of the year that sees the Hindus, all geared up to celebrate some of the biggest festivals of India. The festive spirit in the Bengalis all enthused to prepare for the greatest of the festivals, the ‘Durga Puja’.

About Mahalaya:

Mahalaya is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha,” and this year it is celebrated on September 19.

Observed exactly a week before the ‘Durga Puja’, Mahalaya is the harbinger of the arrival of Goddess Durga. It is celebrated to invoke the goddess possessing supreme power! The goddess is invited to descend on earth and she is welcomed with devotional songs and holy chants of mantras. On this day, the eye is drawn in the idols of the Goddess by the artisans marking the initiation of “Devipaksha”. Mahalaya arrives and the countdown to the Durga Puja begins!

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The day of Mahalaya bears supreme significance to the Bengalis. The day is immensely important because on this day people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers. Clad in white dhotis, people offer prayers and take dips in the river while praying for their demised dear ones. The ritual is popular as “Torpon”.

Mahalaya
An idol-maker in progress of drawing the eye in the idol of the Goddess. Wikipedia

As per Hindu myth, on “Devipaksha”, the Gods and the Goddesses began their preparations to celebrate “Mahamaya” or Goddess Durga, who was brought upon by the trinity- Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshwara; to annihilate the fierce demon king named Mahishasura. The captivating story of the Goddess defeating the demon got popularized with the goddess being revered as “Durgatinashini” or the one who banishes all the evils and miseries of the world. The victory of the Goddess is celebrated as ‘Durga Puja’.

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Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted at dawn in All India Radio in the form of a marvelous audio montage enthralling the souls of the Bengalis. Presented with wonderful devotional music, acoustic drama, and classical songs- the program is also translated to Hindi and played for the whole pan-Indian listeners.

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Mahalaya
Birendra Krishna Bhadra (1905-1991). Wikipedia

The program is inseparable from Mahalaya and has been going on for over six decades till date. The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent! He has been a legend and the dawn of Mahalaya turns insipid without the reverberating and enchanting voice of the legendary man.

Mahalaya will keep spreading the magic and setting the vigor of the greatest festival of the Bengalis- the Durga Puja, to worship the supreme Goddess, eternally.

                 “Yaa Devi Sarbabhuteshu, Shakti Rupena Sanhsthita,

                     Namastaswai Namastaswai Namastaswai Namo Namaha.”

– by Antara Kumar of NewsGram. Twitter: @ElaanaC