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The big fat Indian wedding with a royal Maratha touch

The wedding of Rigvedita Deo, daughter of the Mahurkar family, with Raj Ratna Pratap Deo, scion to the royal state of Nagar Untari, Jharkhand, was both grand and traditional.

Anshu Khanna

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The Mahurkar family and friends during the wedding.

The Maratha royals or the Maratha Confederacy were a conglomerate of princely states that ruled a large part of western and southern India, starting from the Deccan Plateau. The empire dates back to the coronation of Chhatrapati Shivaji in 1674. The Maratha warriors were singularly responsible for wiping out the Mughals and also maintaining their strong, rooted identity during the British Raj. Many Maratha states were the highest in the order of the gun salute like Baroda and Gwalior. But many remained insulated in their own world.

Even today, the Marathas remain deeply-rooted, Indian and tradition bound. Their women wear the most spectacular Chanderi and Maheshwari saris that were immortalised by ruling women like Rani Ahilyabai Holkar, Maharani Chimnabai of Baroda and more recently Rajmata Vijaye Raje Scindia of Gwalior. There are many Ravi Varma portraits of women wearing Navsaris draped in nine-yard Chanderis, even mounting horses in them. The men wore pagris, made from stretched and starched Chanderi, the pugri of one state being unique from the other. They were known to wear angarkhas, resplendent with regal, precious buttons.

I had the great fortune of attending a true blue Maratha wedding of Rigvedita Deo, daughter of the Mahurkar family, with Raj Ratna Pratap Deo, scion to the royal state of Nagar Untari, Jharkhand. One of the largest states in Jharkhand, Nagar Untari is a Rajput state, while the Mahurkars were one of the most prominent Sardars (nobles) in the Gwalior state. The father Uday Mahurkar is an author whose book Marching with a Billion on Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a best-seller. A well-read historian, he is known for his vast knowledge on Maratha history and his special insight into the life and times of the Chhatrapati.

Rigvedita, meanwhile, is a foodie, a restaurateur and now a Kunwarani who is looking at ways to turn the distant state in Jharkhand and its fort into a glorious destination. While her husband, a marketing professional, hopes to market the state for its great historic value.

The wedding was held at the fabled Lakshmi Vilas Palace, home to the Gaekwads of Baroda, and seen as the largest private residence in the world, four-times the size of Buckingham Palace. The festivities began with a tilak ceremony where the groom was greeted by the bride’s family with gifts, an auspicious tilak and many platters full of mithais. The bride meanwhile sat in her chamber, surrounded by her bridesmaid and women of the family dressed in a Chanderi sari. At this time it is considered inauspicious for the bride and the groom to see each other.

PM Narendra Modi also attended
the ceremony.

The wedding itself was resplendent with the bride wearing a beautiful Rajput poshak, which is traditionally gifted by the groom. Her face was totally covered in a veil that she could only raise after the wedding. And the groom came riding the traditional elephant with a battery of folk musicians and dancers leading an all men’s baraat. Yes, women traditionally never attended their son’s wedding.

Yuvrajsab & Yuvranisab Rewa with princess Survandita
Rajasab & Ranisab Nagar Untari

The bride was welcomed with flowers and diya aarti rendered by Hiteshwari Mahurkar, the sister-in-law, as brother Samarjit led her to the dais. Before the wedding the very touching Maratha ceremony of Mangalashtak was held. The couple hidden from each other with a muslin cloth held between the two was blessed by a battery of pundits who recited shlokas. These shlokas are very auspicious and not to be heard by the groom’s mother. The bride’s maternal uncle stood by with a sword in hand, auspiciously protecting her. The guests at this time are each given a silk pouch filled with kesar and rice, which they have to bestow on the couple on completion of every verse. The Marathas have eight pheras around the havan kund and they are known to keep to the wedding traditions very formally.

The palace, with its very maverick Indo-Saracenic architecture and domes, was all lit up, the array of amazing Maratha food and the sheer magnificence of the guests dressed in their royal finery left an impression that could be lilting for life.

The wedding took place early this year, before Covid-19 brought the nation to an unprecedented halt.

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Royally Speaking

THE SHOEMAKER’S STITCH: MOCHI EMBROIDERIES OF GUJARAT IN TAPI COLLECTION

Some superb pieces of the 17th and 18th centuries, both for the Mughal court and for export to the West, do survive, and these are testament to the astonishing skill and adaptability of the embroiderers of the time.

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Chain-stitch embroidery from Kutch in Gujarat has been prized for centuries as one of India’s finest textile types. Worked in dense chain stitch in lustrous twisted silk thread, it has lent itself to all types of design from the floral arabesques of the Mughal period and the hybrid chinoiserie of the western export market to the stylised flowers, parrots and female figures found in the colourful garments and hangings made for local patrons in the 19th century. This type of embroidery is traditionally associated with the Mochi or shoe-maker community of Kutch. The origins of the Mochis’ craft lie outside Gujarat and outside the borders of modern-day India. Some members of the Mochi community believe that their ancestors came from Sindh, today in Pakistan, in the 14th century, settling in Halvad, in Surendranagar District in Gujarat, midway between Bhuj and Ahmedabad before migrating to Kutch. They learnt the art of embroidering in silk thread on leather in Sindh. Other sources state that the Mochis are originally from Gujarat and that the art of embroidering on leather was taught to them in Gujarat by a Sindhi. Yet another version tells of Kutchi embroiderers secretly learning the art by spying on visiting Sindhi craftsmen only in the 18th century. In all of these scenarios, the origins of the craft in Sindh are undisputed.

Embroidered Bed-cover

Embroidered Palampore

The region had been renowned for its embroidered leather sleeping mats at least since the 13th century, when Marco Polo had admired them. These embroidered mats, as well as other leather items, such as hawking gloves, continued to be made until the 19th century. An adapted cobbler’s awl (aari), with its thick wooden handle originally intended to help the user push the hooked metal embroidery spike through leather, continued to be used for embroidery on cloth in Sindh at least until the end of the 19th century, as illustrated in an article by B.A. Gupte in the Journal of Indian Art and Industry in 1888. Travellers such as the Portuguese Duarte Barbosa in 1518 and the Dutch Jan Huyghen van Linschoten in 1585 admired the fine embroideries of Gujarat, especially Cambay, where the embroiderers had at some stage started embroidering on cloth as well as leather. Soon after the foundation of the East India Company in 1600, the English trading company was asking for ‘quilts made about Cambay’ to be sent, and by 1641 they start to appear in the Company’s London auctions. Gujarati embroideries continued to be popular with British buyers into the 18th century; Alexander Hamilton’s travel journal ‘A New Account of the East Indies’ published in 1725 states that ‘[the people of Cambay] embroider the best of any people in India, and perhaps in the world.’ While no examples of chain-stitch embroidery remain from as early as the 16th century, some superb pieces made in the 17th and 18th centuries both for the Mughal court and for export to the West do survive, and these are testament to the astonishing skill and adaptability of the embroiderers of the time. It has long been assumed that the fine chain stitch embroideries made for the Mughal court in the 17th century, and for export to Europe in the late 17th and 18th centuries were made by Mochi embroiderers working to commission. But a technical examination of these embroideries reveals some surprising information. While the 19th- and 20th-century examples for the domestic market appear to have been embroidered using the distinctive hooked awl (aari) after which this type of embroidery is often named (aari bharat), the earlier Mughal and export pieces from the 17th and 18th centuries have all been embroidered u s i n g a straight needle. This only becomes clear when the reverse of the embroidery is examined: the stitches made with the aari are all interlinked in one continuous chain with no gaps between the stitches, while those done with a needle are seen as individual stitches, often at haphazard angles and with tiny gaps between them. This seems anomalous given the traditional history of Mochi embroidery, in which the use of the hooked awl is central to the story of the transition from leather-working to embroidery on cloth. It might well be the case that the earlier pieces were made by embroiderers working in royal karkhanas or Company workshops who were emulating the effect of the Mochis’ chainstitch embroidery but we r e n o t themselves of that community. They would therefore not be familiar with the hooked aari and would work instead with a straight needle. The garments and hangings made by Mochi embroiderers for Kutchi patrons working with the hooked aari show a level of skill equal to that of the earlier courtly and export pieces. The flamboyant dado panels in the Aina Mahal in Bhuj and the glorious floral tent from the royal family of Dhrangadhra are masterpieces of the later period of Mochi embroidery, along with other virtuoso pieces such as the animal cover (jhool) and pichhwai in the TAPI collection. The superbly embroidered dado panels on the walls of the Aina Mahal in the royal palace at Bhuj, built around 1750, are certainly the product of local Mochi embroiderers. Their designs are an amalgam of Mughal-style tent panels (qanat), with flowering trees shown beneath a cusped arch, separated and bordered by floral meander patterns and embroideries made for export to Europe for use as wall- and bedhangings, which frequently show an exotic flowering tree rising from a rocky mound. The larger, squarer panels are in a more Mughal style, while the dado panels of narrower joined niches are closer to an adapted export style. Both decorative types would have already been familiar to the Mochi embroiderers. The British historian L.F. Rushbrook Williams evidently saw them in the first half of the 20th century as he describes the Hira Mahal as ‘panelled high’ with ‘exquisite Kutchi silk embroidery.’ The panels were covered in plastic and installed as a permanent part of the Aina Mahal display when the building was converted into a museum trust in about 1971. Prior to that, they were displayed and brought out only on special days (e.g. three days of Diwali) when members of the royal family performed a puja of the ‘dholiya’ (Maharao Lakhpatji’s bed) in Hira Mahal. 

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Royally Speaking

MOTORCYCLE DIARIES: HOMECOMING

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I strolled past the neighbouring stupas before alighting on the Baby Tiger for the most legendary leg of our Spiti expedition. I gave the valley and its people my deepest thanks for hosting me and nursing me back to health. Even though I was still running at a moderate temperature, today’s window was the only clear one we had to make a rain-free journey to monsoon-ridden Manali. And so, with a paracetamol and a half-eaten Yoghurt bar in my pocket, off I rode. The full moon slowly hid behind the Trans-Himalayan range to make way for the sun, and in Rangrik, I got to witness the spectacular sunrise from behind stark mountain peaks. Golden beams of light peeked through and illuminated the valley’s green fields, and as far as my eyes could see, Spiti was divided into fast-moving contrasts of the newly sunlit areas versus the others that were patiently waiting. Before attempting our passage via Kunzum, we halted for breakfast in Rangrik while basking in the morning sun. Mamma enjoyed her maggi noodles with less masala as I savoured a steaming cup of black tea. I needed all the energy there was to make it to Manali on the Baby Tiger, with or without my predestined falls. After all, I didn’t want to be that rider who loads her bike into the pickup at the slightest hint of inconvenience. I had come this far to ride with cautious abandon, and there was no way that I was backing down now.

The black tea and paracetamol worked wonders, and I had forgotten all about the flu by the time the ascent to Kunzum began. The gorgeous rivulets crisscrossed across meadows being grazed by horses and sheep. A few mountain goats and a large herd of cattle intercepted me and generously made way for the baby tiger. By now, the tarmac had bid my convoy farewell, and I had my traction control turned off. May the force be with me. Even though I had driven past Kunzum some five times already, the experience of riding into its prayer flag-paved entrance on a motorcycle felt overwhelming at a different level altogether. I had tears of joy inside my helmet-clad face, and long after I had stopped, I remained dazed in wonder. My mother insisted that I pose for a few pictures, and it took me a couple of minutes to get back to the ground. I was flying a flight of joyous euphoria, and the boy had never looked so glorious.

Ever since I was a little girl, I have enjoyed climbing trees. My heart would feel full with every ascending branch until I had reached the top. Then came bewilderment, because I had no idea how to come back down. Similar anguish confounded me as I grew conscious of the fact that the journey thus far had been a joyride compared to what awaited me. The descent from Kunzum had some sharp hairpin bends with a good amount of rubble, but I managed with slowed speed and confidence.

I felt some respite upon reaching Bathal, where I drank another cup of sweetened black tea and munched the remaining half of my snack bar. Onwards was the roughest patch there was, until Chhatru. I mentally prepared myself for a few falls. But through every water crossing, slush puddle, and rubble, Baby Tiger defied gravitational physics. I was beginning to yee-haw when I got carried away and rode over an island of sand and water, slightly off course from the main road. My accompanying drivers helped me steer back towards the Endeavour, and onward we went. This patch mostly required me to semi-stand on my bike, such that the intense bobbing of the rear wheel didn’t suspend my riding judgment. Plus, it felt easier on the rear section as well. My father’s batchmate from school had arranged a hot meal of rajma chawal in his picturesque farmhouse in Chhatru. Just when we thought we had ticked off a reasonable number of ‘world’s highest’ boards, we found another one, which said ‘world’s highest farm house’. I sure took some photos of Baby Tiger as he posed on the lawns of that estate.

Our last leg lay in Post-Chhatru, and right before the tarmac began, Gramphu’s rocky waterways compensated for the forthcoming road finesse. I kept halting every now and then to soak in the last of the Kunzum-sided landscape. A pang of nostalgia hit me when I realised that with every acceleration, I was drifting farther and farther away from Spiti. The excitement of journeying towards a cherished destination seldom matches up to the nostalgia of parting with it.

But for what it was worth, the sight of my two four-legged children waiting for me helped me rev up my engine and glide through the familiar Atal tunnel.

By the time we entered the gates of Urvashi’s Retreat, the apple trees were sun-kissed and the skies held up their azure hues. I patted my bike with as much affection and gratitude as my exhausted senses could muster, and even gave it an enduring hug. Cleo and Tsarina were elated to have us all back, and I had barely been back an hour before I connected my GoPro to the television.

My granny had to see what we had just experienced. In three days, it’ll be a month since this day of homecoming. Ever since, I have gone through my Spiti photographs and video footage numerous times. I even made a short film that comprised some of my favourite GoPro recordings. My devices’ wallpapers bear the Key Monastery shot that I took on the morning of Guru Purnima.

I do know that I will never have enough of this sacred land, not in this lifetime at least, but its constant calling to me year after year makes it a pursuit that I had never dreamt of, let alone thought of living through. The only way to get over a vacation hangover is to make way for the next. No wonder I am sketching out my Ladakh itinerary for September.

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MOTORCYCLE DIARIES: PIN VALLEY

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Every morning from 8 onwards, the monks at Key gompa congregate at the main sanctum to chant their morning prayers while ingesting a frugal breakfast of sattu and butter tea. The vibrations and visual spectacle are highly recommended experiences that I was first initiated towards by Karanbir.

Eager to see the prayer meeting for herself, my mother was ready well before time in the morning. Even though we had reached half an hour before time, we were surprised to see the gompa flooded with monks and visitors alike. Confused and scratching my head at my miscalculation, I inquired with a smiling-faced monk standing next to me. Because today was Guru Purnima, several monks from around the region had arrived to convene this special prayer, which commenced an hour before the usual timing.

Struggling to find our spot on the monastery stairs, we sat near the railings and peeked inside for a while. Then, we headed up to see the gompa’s older sections and also to the iconic vantage point for many photographs with the tripod and self-timer.

Slightly peckish and desperate for our morning cup of coffee, we made our way to our one and only food destination yet again, Deyzor. Karanbir had been raving about how beautiful the Pin Valley was at this time of year, and given that it was one place that none of us had visited before, we raised collective excitement for the day’s expedition.

Backtracking a dozen kilometres back on the Kaza-Tabo road, we crossed over an unsuspecting bridge and entered a different valley altogether. Driving past the Pin river, we saw fluorescent specs of mustard flowers and velvety meadows dotted by indulgent cows and asses. Pink and purple flowers too sprouted through the foliage, and tiny rivulets trickled in their jovial celebration of mild monsoons. Several locals worked intensively in their lush green fields, which speckled the stark Pin Valley like glowing pieces of emerald. I opted to take over the steering wheel today so that Manojji could get a break and enjoy the views. Mesmerised by the unusual geological shapes of Pin Valley. We didn’t know how our three-hour excursion passed, and we were back in Deyzor for lunch. A dove into a plate of shakshouka and a coffee to shake off my afternoon laziness, and we all concurred that a nap would be a good idea. Back in Cheecham, we lazed around and then played a few rounds of Cluedo. I was beginning to develop a dry and nagging cough, but I dismissed it as an aftereffect of the dusty roads. Mylo also developed a cough shortly after, and we just went to bed after an early dinner. Afraid of passing on the bug to my already susceptible mother, I decided to stay the night in Mylo’s room, and in hindsight, that was a necessary precaution. Breathlessness, fever-stricken, and reverberating with an elevated pulse, the night was a mean one indeed. Both Mylo and I battled with heightened fevers that we hoped would be brought down with a tablet of paracetamol. To our dismay, the following morning was a struggle, and there was absolutely no way that we were proceeding with our plan to Losar.

I could barely pack since the slowest of movements was making me breathless. It was time for Baby Tiger to be put onto his trailer, and as sad as that made me, I knew I was in no shape to drive. We headed to the government hospital in Kaza, where the health workers took our Covid test, which was thankfully negative. Manojji too suffered from the same symptoms as us, and we were then made aware of a nasty virus making its rounds in Kaza. Due to its higher prevalence among minors, Kaza’s government school had been closed for a fortnight, and many locals reported having suffered from identical symptoms as us.

Karanbir reassured us that it would get better, and arranged us the fanciest home stay that stood bang opposite the town’s Shakya monastery. Fa-Ma homestay was hosted by the gregarious hostess Uma, who nursed us back to health over two long days of endless gargles, steam inhalations, naps and countless food deliveries from Deyzor. I mostly slept through this time, and when Mylo felt better, we played Monodeal with my viral-free mother.

Even though one hadn’t fully recovered by the night of July 15th, I reckoned that we make our journey the following day. As per most weather forecasts, 16th was the only day that offered clear skies and sunshine, a much-needed advantage for those making the arduous journey towards Manali. And so, I excitedly asked Mohanji to unload Baby Tiger from his cage and kitted up the following morning to make the most iconic journey of our trip.

Dolo 650 sufficed through the entire adventure, and even if I was still flu-stricken, I was too elated by the Trans-Himalayan vistas to pay attention to any form of illness. The beautiful road meandered through Rangrik, Losar, and Kyato as the full moon hid behind the mountains, making way for a brilliant sun that reigned over clear azure skies. It was time for homecoming.

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Royally Speaking

SATRANGI: RECOGNISING THE MANY COLOURS OF LIFE

‘Satrangi is our LGBTQI project that has close to 250 transgenders in vulnerable circumstances. They have been so far neglected by both society and the government’.

Anshu Khanna

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As the founder of Royal Fables, a writer, and a communicator, I have always reserved a place for social impact missions in my agenda. Empowerment through handcraft work is my life’s raison d’être. As well as creating an inclusive, tolerant society where each of us gets a share of the voice. Hence, I was beyond thrilled when the dynamic Maharani of Baroda, Radhika Raje Gaekwad, suggested that we present Satrangi on the ramp on the opening night of our show in Ahmadabad. A ramp walked by 15 wonderful transgender people from the 250-strong LGBTQI community that lives in Baroda and now is lovingly adopted by this caring young royal who, with her family’s trust, Maharani Chimnabai Stree Udyogalaya, is standing for all the important and relevant issues concerning the women of her city. While issues like women’s safety, employment, and confidence building have been at the core of her NGO, she also embraced this very endearing community who were in deep distress during Covid. She joined

Lakshya Trust is the community working on the health and human rights of LGBTQI community

A ramp walk by 15 wonderful transgender people from the 250-strong LGBTQI community.

Lakshya Trust is a community working on the health and human rights of LGBTQI community.

Join hands with Lakshya Trust, which is a community-based organisation working on the health and human rights of LGBTQIA communities in Gujarat, Vadodara, Surat, and Rajkot. Founded by the globally acclaimed activist Prince Manvendra Gohil of Raj Pipla, the organisation also backs Garima Greh, which is a rescue and shelter home for transgender people managed by Lakshya Trust and supported by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, which focuses on providing basic food, shelter, and livelihood opportunities through mainstreaming trans issues with different stakeholders. In striking a very active partnership with Maharani Chimnabai Stree Udhyogalaya (MCSU), which started with the distribution of food supplies during the pandemic, Lakshya collaborated actively with this Baroda-based NGO for the provision of skill-building training, admission to academic institutions, and assistance in job placements for the transgender communities, and also as one of the co-hosts of Vadodara Pride!

“Satrangi is our LGBTQIA project that has close to 250 transgenders in vulnerable circumstances.” They have been so far neglected by both society and the government. Through our trust, we intend to take care of their essential requirements, identify their core problems, groom and train them for particular vocations, and integrate them into society by helping them find employment in those chosen vocations, “shared Radhika. Taking care of their mental well-being through free and confidential virtual counseling. MSCU also provides free and confidential online counselling to all in need. On the Royal Fables’ ramp, Radhika dressed fifteen transgender persons in the L V Palace’s collection of cotton, printed saris titled Naqashi. While Jaipur-based jewelry designer Namrata Singh adorned them with her signature collection of hand-crafted jewels. Radhika herself walking the ramp in stunning cotton, dual-toned sari, and Namrata’s vintage coin-inspired, embellished choker in gold. Applauding her for this path-breaking effort, Nawab Kazim Ali Khan of Rampur complimenting the Maharani and said, “ This is the first time in modern India that a woman belonging to a royal family as respected as Baroda has taken such a bold step towards creating an inclusive society.” We salute her for her forward-thinking, courageous endeavours.

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THE KAZA MOTORCYCLE DIARIES

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I downed yet another Tsampa pancake with butter tea before heading towards Kaza. With the Spiti river on my left and the mighty Trans-Himalayan range overlooking my ride, the sun shone and intuitively hid behind the clouds, making it a dreamlike ride. By now, the Triumph Tiger 660 a.k.a. the Baby Tiger had become a reliable, almost protective travel companion. He covered up for my tiny fumbles as a rider and rode impeccably through loose gravel, water streams, and potholes. Even though his real merit lay over tarmac, not once did he betray me under his sports tourer demeanor. A futile hunt of off-road tyres across the country rendered me with a spare set of conventional road tyres, which was a huge respite amidst Spiti’s unforgiving tracks.

I had even installed crash guards, bearing in mind the dozen falls that I had anticipated between Bathal and Chhatru. I’d end each day’s ride mentally saying, ‘So far, no falls’, knowing that was bound to change soon. But I would soon discover the Baby Tiger’s sheer defiance of gravitational physics, the details of which I have saved for another part. Getting back to today’s ride, I was engulfed by the magic of crossing the Tabo bridge and gorged over Tabo’s scenic fields and the gigantic mountainous backdrops. The road broke up again, and as I rode past mounding ranges of piled-up loose gravel, admiring the Jenga skills at play, a few rocks crumbled down and across the road a few feet ahead of me.

I immediately braked to a halt and looked upwards, seeing a few more dusty crumbles hurl down. I used my feet to roll my bike backward, such that there was more safety buffer space between me and the rumbling tumble. A few seconds of silence prompted me to prepare and zip past this stretch. And in no time, it was all behind me. The accompanying Endeavour too made it through, and within a scenic hour, we had entered the less quiet town of Kaza. Without a second’s delay, we were making our way to our much-awaited dining destination, Hotel Deyzor. A personalised homestay run by riding and adventure veteran Karanbir Singh Bedi, Hotel Deyzor has a distinct authority in Spiti for its unmatched hospitality and lip-smacking food. Like an excited school girl, I led Karanbir to the Baby Tiger immediately after meeting him. After all, it was his recommendation that made me opt for this bike blindly, and he needed to see it! Karanbir’s approving nod mirrored what I had envisioned on my way to Kaza. Needless to add, the Baby Tiger was a sheer head turner and attracted many doting glances wherever it ventured.

My accompanying team’s stomachs were rumbling, and Milo had already ordered her favourite mango shake from the menu. I could well believe that it was Deyzor’s mango shake alone that inspired her to make this arduous journey, such was her dedication to that tall yellow glass of bliss that seemed to leave the mythical som ras behind. A mighty plate of Turkish eggs and a protein shake later, I blissfully mounted my steed to navigate to what would serve as our home for the next three days. Roughly forty minutes from Kaza past Key and Kibber, Cheecham was a rustic hamlet best known for the iconic Cheecham bridge and breathtaking vantage points. A Navy veteran turned adventurer, Mohit Gulia had set up a little piece of heaven at the tail end of Cheecham village, known to all as Tethys Himalayan Den. The latest talk of Spiti, Tethys set a new level of hospitality standards in Spiti, with its eclectic style and massive bay windows. Delicate whites against pastel pinks and bright teals, Tethys breathed the boutique into Spiti’s remoteness in the dreamiest way that one can imagine.

At this stage, I was slightly concerned about my mother, for we had escalated from Tabo, amongst Spiti’s lowest altitudes to Cheecham, one of its highest, in the matter of a few hours. Her saturation levels in Tabo had dipped slightly, but the sense of alarm voiced by our doctors back home is what worried us. Both Karanbir and Mohit reassured us of the normalcy of it, and cautious as I had promised my father to be, I ensured that my mother was inhaling frequent doses of oxygen from her cylinder. Being over-prepared in these matters is always a good idea, which is why I had sent Manoj ji to scout for a medical cylinder earlier in Kullu. An ex-pharmacist, I thought Manojji would be the best contender to make this preparation. He had laboriously trailed the tall silver repository of air all around Kullu, Rampur, Sangla, and Tabo, only to find out at the Kaza hospital that we weren’t odd in failing to fit in the modulator. The cylinder had been empty all along! But thanks to my Zen mother and the surplus tinier cylinders that we had carried, she had cruised through her first night in Cheecham, going light-headed solely because of how stunning the views had been. mental healthcare into action. Moreover, it is a small step towards decolonizing mental health practise by creating spaces that are accessible, collaborative, and cognizant of social realities, “she elaborates. 

Returning to the opening paragraph of this feature, Saumya makes a very interesting point that largely challenges and expands the scope of the argument. She states, “Research evidence overwhelmingly suggests that poverty, stigma, and social marginalisation are all serious risk factors for mental health issues – indicating that, contrary to popular beliefs as well as Maslow’s theory, mental health issues are not first world problems/issues that only come to the surface once material and physiological needs are met. Mental health problems are consistently found to disproportionately impact the less affluent in society”. 

Thus, Saumya’s two-pronged approach to broadening counselling access across India’s diverse population is indeed a trailblazer in its own right. Her story is also indicative of a wider contingent of educated youngsters broadening the scope of mental healthcare in India. Despite securing her pedagogical seat in distant lands, Saumya deliberately chooses to serve her remaining time in India as a counsellor to those in need. And for this reason amongst others, she is an inspiration to many other young aspirants across disciplines. Rajputana’s freshest advocate of accessible, culturally competent healthcare poignantly concludes, “Over time, I also became cognizant of some of the reasons for the mental health treatment gap in India, including significant social stigma, inadequate or inaccessible services, and low levels of public investment. I strongly believe that these challenges are reflective of the traditionally individualistic lens of psychology that has often neglected to take into account structural, social, and cultural factors in understanding and treating mental health issues, and has thus alienated many people in the developing world. Such learnings now motivate me to continue in this line of work and to do my bit to address the limitations I see within the field. 

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GLOBALLY ACCLAIMED ‘ROYAL FABLES’ RETURNS TO AHMEDABAD

On 6 August, the exposition opens with a showcase of the finest handmade textiles, crafts, and art to be inaugurated by H.H. Maharani Radhika Raje of Gaekwad of Baroda and Princess Krishna Kumari of Panna.

Anshu Khanna

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Royal Fables, a heritage platform that promotes royal India in all its glory, is all set to unveil its exposition in Ahmedabad in association with Digvijay Singh and BBG Royals and supported by luxury partners Sujhal, jewellery partner 7th Avenue, House of Marigold, and our associate sponsor BMW at Hyatt Vastrapur on 6 August 2022. The exposition will present art, fashion, textiles, and products made in leading palace studios across India. Besides, handpicked collections by leading designers and labels that keep the rich Indian hand-made tradition alive. Launching the exposition on August 5, 2022, with a welcome note from Anshu Khanna, Founder of Royal Fables, and an opening speech by Shri Uday Mahurkar Ji on the feisty Maratha women.

H.H MAHARANI RADHIKA RAJE
DIGVIJAY SINGH AND NIDHI SAH
KANWARANI KAMINI SINGH AND RAJKUMARI CHANDNI SINGH SEHORA
PRINCESS KRISHNA KUMARI OF PANNA
YUVRANI MEENAL SINGHDEO
NAWAB KAZIM ALI

A panel discussion on the legacy of luxury will be moderated by Safir Anand, IPR Lawyer, and Ruchika Mehta, Editor, Hello! India, and among the guests will be H.H. Maharani Radhika Raje Gaekwad, Khushboo Bagga, Rani Saheb Uma Raje Jadhav, Digvijay Singh, Nidhi Sah, and Brijeshwari Gohil. Buransh, a fashion show presented by Royal Fables, Digvijay Singh, and BBG, and Satrangi by Maharani Chimnabai Stree Udyogalaya, will begin with a royal fashion walk with royal scions and jewels by the House of Marigold, followed by dinner.

“Gujarat, to us, has always been a land of the kings and nobles, home to palatial palaces and royals who cherish their inheritance with great humility and commitment to the nation. We are truly excited to bring the Royal Fables Exposition to the heritage city of Ahmedabad again. As they say, the fable with Gujarat has only just begun,” says Anshu Khanna, Founder, Royal Fables. As a firm believer in promoting heritage, culture, arts and crafts, I am elated and proud to welcome Royal Fables again to the heritage city of Ahmedabad. I look forward to witnessing an exclusive array of arts and crafts nurtured by royal families and distinct brands of India,” says Khushboo Bagga, Director, Petal Foundation.

On the 6th, the exposition opens with a showcase of the finest handmade textiles, crafts, and art to be inaugurated by H.H. Maharani Radhika Raje of Gaekwad of Baroda and Princess Krishna Kumari of Panna. There will be talks organized at various intervals on topics such as Heritage and tourism conservation in Gujrat by Professor Mickey Desai and Khayati Singh, Sonkatch, matrimonial alliance, and their impact on royal cuisine by Rani Saheb Uma Raje Jhadav of Deobagh. Safir Anand, IPR Lawyer, in conversation with Yaduveer Bera, Hemendra Singh Rathore, and Brijeshwari Gohil on tangible and intangible heritage. This will be followed by a fashion show by Palace Karkhanas featuring Jaykirti, Rosetree, Yaduveer Singh Bera, Fateh Couture, and Hemendra Singh Rathore.

The list of participants is prolific and includes royal families from across the nation including H.H. Maharani Radhika Raje Gaekwad of Baroda, Rani Saheb Uma Raje Jhadav, Princess Diya Kumari foundation, Princess Krishna Kumari of Panna, Princess Nandini Singh of Jhabua, Nawab Kazim Ali Khan of Rampur, Katyaini Sinh Sanand, Rani Jaykirti Singh Baria, Kanwarani Kamini Singh, and Chandni Singh Seohara, Preeti Singh Rathore, Yuvrani Meenal Singh Deo of Dhenkanal, Madhulika Radiant, Nawabzadi Aaliya Babi Balasinore, Namrata Singh, Kunwar Yaduveer Singh Bera, Kunwar Hemendra Singh Rathore, Digvijay Singh, and Nidhi Sah.

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