Photo feature

In Mumbai's Dharavi, Pongal is the occasion for a massive street party

For most Mumbai residents, the mention of 90 Feet Road in the congested Dharavi neighbourhood brings to mind endless traffic jams, incessant honking, and buildings sorely in need of a coat of paint. Just before dawn on Friday, though, it became the venue for a giant street party. For more than half a century, this part of Dharavi has been home to migrants from Tamil Nadu and on Pongal, 90 Feet Road was where they gathered to celebrate the festival of abundance.

A section of the road was closed to traffic and over a 1,000 brick fireplaces had been hastily assembled. Three different kinds of music blared out: one set of sounds from the Shiv Sena loudspeakers, one from the Hindu Yuva Sena and a third from a DJ at the end of the street who was entertaining the kids.

Soon, hundreds of women began to line up. The organisers gave each of them a bag of rice, tamarind, ginger, jaggery, stalks of sugarcane, a brand new cooking pot and a number telling them which fireplace they had been allotted.

Tiny flames lit up the road. The younger women were guided by the elder ones. The wave of pre-dawn camaraderie was broken briefly as the smoke brought itchy tears to everyone's eyes. But as the sun came up, everyone on 90 Feet Road said a silent prayers with folded hands and watched the sweetened rice boiled over just a little, a gesture acknowledging the abundance of the present and a fervent wish that it would continue in the year ahead.

Ramakrishnan Nadar(47) a member of the local Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh unit, sets up stage.
Ramakrishnan Nadar(47) a member of the local Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh unit, sets up stage.
A milkman pauses to take a photo before the festivities begin.
A milkman pauses to take a photo before the festivities begin.
A thousand sacks of rice stand ready to be distributed.
A thousand sacks of rice stand ready to be distributed.
A woman checks a utensil for possible leakages.
A woman checks a utensil for possible leakages.
Women make preparations by their designated fireplaces.
Women make preparations by their designated fireplaces.
Aerial view of the festivities.
Aerial view of the festivities.
As water supplies for cooking ran out, some headed to a broken pipe nearby.
As water supplies for cooking ran out, some headed to a broken pipe nearby.
A street dog inspects a fireplace.
A street dog inspects a fireplace.
A woman prays to the rising sun.
A woman prays to the rising sun.
A woman drains out the excess water after cooking the rice.
A woman drains out the excess water after cooking the rice.
Dharavi is a diverse neighbourhood, just like the city of Mumbai.
Dharavi is a diverse neighbourhood, just like the city of Mumbai.
A boy struggles to keep his veshti on.
A boy struggles to keep his veshti on.
It's time to head home.
It's time to head home.
Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

The defining spirit of the Irish

A bit of banter, a bit of cheer and lots of craic.

They say that if you’re lucky enough to be Irish, then you’re lucky enough. The Irish are famous for their cultural symbols recognised and celebrated across the world. But apart from their proverbial luck, the colour green and St. Patrick’s Day, it’s a zest for life that truly defines the Irish.

Don’t be alarmed if you hear the Irish talking about “crack”. Craic, pronounced ‘Krak’, is a popular Irish expression that can’t be defined but can only be experienced. “What’s the craic” could mean many things. It’s used break the ice with a stranger, to catch up with a friend or even to say - “let’s have some fun.”

The Irish are known for their warmth and friendliness. So much so that during the Euro 2016, Irish football fans were charming their way through a rival country, making friends wherever they went and spreading joy through various good deeds. Being Irish is about celebrating life and to be a part of the festivity, all you need to do is visit an Irish pub. Always buzzing with music, stories and laughter, the pub is a great place to experience the essence of Irish culture.

While the history of Ireland made its people tenacious, they’ve also embraced the light-hearted side of life. This combination of courage and a sense of humour can be observed in everything they do. “It’ll be grand, sure!”, is an Irish saying that captures this spirit – take a shot, give it a go, whatever happens, life will be great.

The Irish have a knack for sharing and creating stories; and it is said that Irish stories are always long and never dull. It’s not surprising then that stories like the legend of Halloween, which originated in Ireland, are not only known but celebrated all over the world. In an Irish pub, you’ll invariably find yourself immersed in a tale, with every other person adding a twist to the story. Don’t be surprised if what you assumed to be fiction turns out to be true, as seen in this video.

Play

From thrilling tales of Irish lads that travel from pub to pub, to the making music with anything and everything at your disposal, being Irish means being up for anything. The Irish way is incomplete without their brand of music that reverberates through family dinners, pub sessions, the streets…wherever you can pull up a stool. What gives a Trad Session in a traditional Irish pub its distinctive flavour is that there is no stage separating musicians from the listeners and anyone is welcome to join in. Jameson, a brand that has bottled the Irish spirit, has captured moments of pure Irish-ness in these short videos.

Play

Distilled in Ireland, Jameson is an integral part of the Irish social experience. In its company, one can truly sense the camaraderie of a group of lads having a night out. Whether you are in a pub or in the depths of a forest, if you’re in the company of lads, rest assured, you’re in for some adventure and a lot of craic.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Jameson and not by the Scroll editorial team.