Once Upon a Time
by Nuggehalli Pankaja
(Bangalore, Karnataka, India)
Watching the Dasara procession on T.V. my mind travelled back to those glamorous days when the royal family were in power. Verily was Jambo-savari a legend, drawing forth visitors from all spheres. Spectators would congregrate from early morning, to secure a vantage view. Rooftops, treetops would also be swarming with them, dangerously vying with each other ,while lathi wielding policemen strutted about with a self-important air, cordoning off the crowd, especially when the royal elephant carrying the royal howda appeared. Aha, what a grand appearance it would be! Holding their breath in awe, praje of the maharaja would gaze at the jewels-bedecked personage as he smilingly folded his hands in greeting to one and all; Colourful cavalry leading, gorgeous retinue following, the scene was one to be etched in the minds of everyone, yes, to be handed over as ‘Once upon a time….’ memory-stories to the next generation.
Most memorable procession was that of the newly-married pretty princess Vijayadevi (sister of our Maharaja late Jayachamaraja Wodeyar) with her charming prince. Whispers of love-marriage reaching the ears of the populace, the romantic halo lent special glamour to the event. When I mentioned this to her (when I had gone to her abode to interview her for a magazine), she smiled sadly, for future had breathed disillusionment. But ‘MUSE’ blessed her with a revered niche in the piano-world!
And the unforgettable royal-procession was the grand BARAAT of the Bharatpur Mahararaja come all the way to wed princess Shrijaya, the last sister of our Mysore Maharaja. The baraat was mile long, dazzling with its rich array, gleaming golden plates bursting with scintillating jewels of all kinds—diamonds, rubies, emeralds, what not, atop the long line of equally decorated elephants! And the overflowing brocades, shimmering silks, dainty muslins, colourful satins! The rich apparels of the huge retinue brought along, with their swaggering air, left the populace stunned!
And the Bridegroom? He was simply covered with luminous jewels in lieu of flowers! No one could get even a glimpse of his face!
“Look at his crown! At the glowing diamonds! At the clusters of enormous pearls hanging, along with thick strands of gold!
Looks like our Kolar Gold Fields has come to life! Really, our princess is very very lucky, no? We are also lucky! Such a rich Maharaja has come all the way to wed our princess!” Our Mysoreans whispered, feeling much flattered. The scene was like a page from the fairy tale book. No one had seen such a wedding - Not even the older generation. They stood there like one mesmerized!
Alas, very soon the fairy tale ended in tragedy, the young princess taken away by an early death-…daughter of a liberal-minded cultural family given to cultivation of arts, I believe she found the strict purdah-system and the unrefined atmosphere suffocating. I particularly felt her untimely demise very much, since we, the students of Good Shepherd Convent Mysore, had the wonderful opportunity of seeing the young sprightly Srijaya and her sisters, at the same convent……….. Once upon a time…………….
I remember the wonderful time I had with the very charming princess Vijaya (eldest of the sisters) when she invited me over to her abode at Bangalore. Gifted pianist, finding her prince charming very early in life, she had her own share of disillusion. How much everyone envied her.. . . .
Once upon a time. . . . . . . . .
Meanwhile the famous palace of Mysore bedecked with innumerable bulbs, glitters like a beautiful bride during Dasara, attracting sight-seers, while the legendary throne, the mute witness of history, maintains a dignified silence.
Alas,the last scion has also gone now, leaving the once famous palace forlorn.******