Tuesday 23 February 2021

Aligarh Exhibition: The Nostalgia of 140 years Old Caravan

“There comes a time in our life when we have to choose to turn the page, write another book or simply close it.” Yes: Today I am Turing the old pages of Aligarh Exhibition from book of my life. The Nostalgia of Aligarh Exhibition paints a smile on the stony face of the past. The Golden Memories of Aligarh Exhibition remains always beating in hearts of every Aligarian.

Aligarh Exhibition has a golden history. The Caravan of exhibition was started in the year 1880 by inspiration of Raja Harnarayan Singh in the name of Aligarh District Fair as an exhibition, by the then Collector Marshall. Now it it is 140 years old, which is increasing and getting young, year by year.


In 1886, due to the inclusion of Aligarh's training and educational knowledge in this district fair, it was renamed as the State Industrial and Agricultural Exhibition. In 1914, the then collector WS Maris gave the exhibition an organized look by constructing a court hall.


He constitution of its charitable trust was registered in 1998 under the then DM Srikrishna Singh Atoria. In such a situation, it became an organization to be run with the cooperation of common people


Aligarh Numaish is a Nostalgia part in life of Aligs fraternity .It is one of those priceless memories Aligarians carry in their hearts forever. There are some students who could boast of 100 percent attendance at the Numaish, meaning they didn’t miss even a single day. Some are not so regular, so they visit on alternate days.


By turning pages of my life, I boggled at period when I was a student of under high School and used to live in Anona House with parents. Anona House is situated along Railway track. Aligarh Exhibition ground from Anona house was at a walking distance on other side parallel to Railway track. Those were the enjoyable days of rikshas Horse driven Ekkas or symbol of royalty The Tongaas and cycle.


It was our common practice to visit exhibition with brothers and sisters by foot along railway track. That 20 mts walk on those days, has no words to express the joy and excitement we cherished. Today we ride on our four wheelers to Exhibition; Gone are those pleasure and lustful days.


I do recall, some time our parents allow us for Exhibition with Bua (Home Made Servant—Gulshan) as guardian. May Allah place her in Jannat-u-l Firdaus (Ameen).Gulshan Bua was a kind widow lady. Those were the days of Touring Cinema inside a huge tent and sitting arrangement was spread of tirpal on floor. Perhaps ticket costed only 25 Paisa or Chawanni.


Gulshan Bua with her kid girl Saira and we used to see movies, sitting on floor. The great feast for us at that time was Moong Phali and Barula with chatni (spicy socked and deep fry potato).I do remember name of one film “Zabak” of that time, which I  saw in that touring cinema.


Very strange to us, on some tragic scenes Bua would start weeping with tears and some times with weeping sound. Seeing this, we too start weeping. Stories of those film were very simple. One kind King ,his most beautiful Princess, Cunning Deewan and a Brave Poor man as Hero. Some films were of Fairies, a jadoogars and brave prince.


Some time Bua entertained us by sitting in Nautankis. The pleasure of Nautanki lies in the intense melodic exchanges between two or three performers; a chorus is used sometimes. Nautanki was one of the most popular folk operatic theater performance forms in those days. Before the advent of Bollywood (the Hindi film industry), Nautanki was the biggest source of entertainment.


The great grand feast days were those, when we go to Aligarh Exhibition with Father. Punjab and Central were the main hotels for traditional Dish of Halwa and Paratha. In those Days pure desi ghee was cooking medium for Halwa and Paratha.


One more foolish smartness is still in my memory. Once on way back to home from Exhibition, I found a goods train standing at railway crossing gate. I entered up in side an open rack of the goods train, assuming that it will again stop at next railway crossing gate near Anona House, and I will get down. To my bad luck goods train stopped at Aligarh station.


Once all family members and cousins with mother and big mother were roaming in Exhibition that was at its full youth and very crowds. Suddenly my mother realized that younger sister Zohra is missing.


We searched her at all stalls, in every lane and by lane. We announced her missing even from public announced system. At last we returned home heavy hearten. To our astonishment. We found her sleeping in her bed. She told that after departing us, she came back on foot along same railway track.


Life never behaves sweet as sugar. These small incidents and memories act as salt and pepper in life to make it spicy.


Now I am turning many pages of book named “Aligarh Exhibition". The pages are of those days when Maqbool was a student of Mechanical Engineering. Now I was independent and free to walk in Exhibition ground with friends of my group.


I will not waste time in telling boring history of this Exhibition but I am proud to say that this Aligarh Exhibition is 140 years old but getting more young than any younger.


Valentine Feeling in Aligarh Exhibition

Valentine day (14th February) has gone, but those were the days, when air of Aligarh Exhibition used to be charged with a valentine feeling. Every thing here seemed to be charged with romantic possibility. Exchanged aired notes and air glances, new romances, and rekindled old ones.


Mittal gate: The First entry gate to Exhibition Ground.

First of all leave our vehicle in parking ground. Walk leisurely towards Mittal gate, the main entry point to exhibition. There is no more excitement on this road. On both side of this road, lies the industrial and agricultural stall on huge ground, camps of political parties, local colleges, exhibition police post, etc.


There is one main road in Exhibition ground from Mittal Gate that ends at Darbar Hall. Krishanjali Auditorium is adjacent to this Durbar Hall. From this main road spreads several lanes and by lanes.


A.M.U. Proctor’s Camp: An AMU proctorial office too is established to have a watchful eye on students

After few Mts walk we will reach A.M.U. Proctor’s Camp Office:--Now this camp looks with no life, few bulls an proctorial staff are seen standing on gate. No need to be haraased or fear with them. The spring days of this camp has gone. I remembering the days of my studentship the repeated announcement by Proctorial staff “A.M.U students are requested to leave the exhibition ground by sharp 10:00 PM.


It was mandatory for A.M.U.Students to leave the exhibition ground by 10.P.M, the time of full youth of exhibition. University uniform, black sherwani, white pajama or green blazer coat, was also a mandatory. Students not in uniform, used to play a hide and seek game with University Proctorial Team.


Jane Kahan Gaye WO Din: Those were the magical days, The Black sherwani wearing students were the charm and symbol of a culture, tradition, nobility and respect. This was special identification of Exhibition, on those days. There are some students who could boast of 100 percent attendance at the Numaish, meaning they didn’t miss even a single day. Some are not so regular, so they visit on alternate days.


Senior Proctorial Monitor (S.P.M) with his team of proctorial monitors all young dashing senior students, clad in well pressed black crisp sherwani, black cap ,white Aligarh cut pajama and black shoe, started roaming in exhibition. Students in exhibition were smarter than them, seeing the team they turned other route.


Mukhtar Saheb was Chief Proctor.

I too was a proctorial monitor for two years, always proud of, wearing a green badge of proctorial monitor on a pitch black sherwani; with yellow monogram of university. At that time Late Mukhtar Saheb was Chief Proctor. Whom we used to call Mukhtar Ghoda due to his energetic, impassive and very tall in height personality. He used to wear maroon colored Turkish cap on sherwani.


The interesting part of this duty as a proctorial Monitor was ,a coupon for dinner in Jhanda or Nazeer hotel. The other most pleasant assignment was to  escort girl students of Abdullah Girls College ,from exhibition ground to their college bus, and to confirm their security.

Muzzammil Gate

Let us move ahead, now it is Muzzammil Gate, This gate was constructed in 1936 by Nawab Muzammil khan Shervani. The exhibition ground is a gift by him. Main exhibition starts from here. A human flood from all walk of life, all age, male and female is waiting from here.


All shops glitter by decorative light system. Sometimes it becomes difficult to walk ahead. Now comes the famous Khanna softy stall, hear we can eat tasty, Spicy Bhel Puri, Pao Bhaji, its cold but Khanna ‘s softy smoothed the throat. Wow ahead it is is a four road crossing point.


Fountain the famous Fauw-a-ra.

On one side of Fountain lies several big shops of Choorans (Spicy Digestive salt).It is impossible to go ahead leaving famous Chooran shop, Hing ka peda and Anar Dana of Mathura. They will put some choorans on yr open palm of different ingredient's, free to taste. No option its spiciness well bound you to buy it.This free sample still prevails.


Bareilly ka Surma, Rampur ki caps, Badaun ka Peda, Meerut ki Nan Khatai----are also available in Exhibition of Aligarh. Some shops sell various items with a tag price list all items with a range varying from Rs 10.00 to Rs 100.00,with  humanitarian theory that people of every pocket may purchase items of their choice.


Baradari: still a famous ear mark of exhibition. It was a common meeting and waiting point, for friends or relatives, lost in crowd. It was easy to make announcements from control room, requesting by name to meet them at baradari or fauw-wa-ra. A Musical


Food Court: Jhanda Hotel and Nazeer Hotel: ---This area has its own wonderful world, here are a dozen food stalls .The special among them are Jhanda hotel and Nazeer hotel, that is etched in memory of every Alig, all over world. The crispy Paratha layer by layer well soaked in ghee and suji ka halwa that melts in mouth, spicy soft seekh kabab and a special tea with topped layer of malai.


It is said that Halwa, Paratha dishes are transferred here through Cooks from Peshawar, who use to come here before partition of subcontinent. Those Peshawri cooks prepare halwa mixes with dry fruits.


Public Announcement System: Remembering the golden period of farmaishi (request) songs airing from loudspeakers. Commercial announcements, too were melodious of those days, a copied voice of Radio Ceylon famous Amin Sayani. Most of time it was busy for farmaishi songs or meeting lost peoples. Those melodious days are gone, only commercial ads. Now this type of announcement is seldom heard, as every one has mobile to connect each other.


Dinner of Abdullah Hall:--The most nostalgic awaited and cheerful event for Aligarians happened to be the when Green Bus of Abdullah Girls full of Girl Student's used to visit Exhibition ground.


AMU. Aligarh student’s fraternity used to try to look smarter and attractive to impress Abdullah hall students. This day appeared to be more cheerful day than Eid and Diwali. The day of Abdullah Hall dinner was always kept a top secret, not less than a mission.


The Provost and wardens of Abdullah Hall kept mum about the day. One evening, the girls would be asked to get ready and march towards the fleet of buses waiting to carry them to the place where all eyes are waiting for them.


Now this tradition is a dream, as it is impossible to manage safety of large count of Abdullah Hall’s girl students. There are many other factors to finish it. Culture, Traditions, Values and Discipline, all are changed with time and new technologies. The age told AMU tradition has been to walk out all the way to Exhibition ground.

KhazLaa (Khaja) became the identity of Aligarh exhibition

People often taste Khajala and Nankhatai at the State Industrial and Agricultural Exhibition. Both these sweets have become the hallmark of the Aligarh exhibition. While passing through GT Road, Khajala is visible outside the exhibition. Khajala is mainly made from maida, sugar and ghee. Many artisans have been doing this work from generation to generation.


Hullar Bazar, Nautanki and Variety Show: We may call it Disney land and Carnival of Aligarh Exhibition, a jadoo nagri. The most adventurous part of Exhibition. The grand spinning wheel, the Roller coaster. Step into this complex and get lost in the noise and commotion of people and loudspeakers. Maut ka kunwa (well of death), a huge cylindrical wooden structure. Bike riders show their deadly stunts inside this.


The common scene of Hullar Bazar at that time was tempting and inviting public by dancing girls /Males in girls’ makeup, out side their stalls and jockers with thick layered makeup .They used to dance on ear bursting filmi songs and joking with public.


Mushaira (Assembly of Poets): Every year, a grand mushaira is organized on grand stage of Krishanjali auditorium. This auditorium has capacity of 10,000 audiences. The most renowned poets from all parts of country are invited. Jigar Moradabadi , Asghar Gondawi , Fani Badauni , Kaifi Aazmi , Bekal Utsahi, Neda Fazli. These are name of few poets. It is something very exiticing for all Urdu lovers and most of the Aligs were such that they were ready to do anything for a seat in the auditorium.


‘Aligarh Numaish Sadbhavana Geet’.

The fair continues to inspire poets and writers. Johny Foster, music instructor in AMU wrote the ‘Aligarh Numaish Sadbhavana Geet’. The Aligarh Numaish Sadbhavana Geet has been adopted as Numaish tarana.


This is perhaps a unique incidence when a Tarana has been written for an exhibition. In the Aligarh Numaish Sadbhavana Geet, Johnny Foster writes: “Aligarh key logon jahan ko batá do, khuda hi mohabbat Hai, aur mohabbat khuda Hai.”


Aligarh Exhibition;--Hindu-Muslim communal harmony.

Numaish is considered an example of Hindu-Muslim communal harmony. For this reason, two different Neeraj Shaharyar awards of one lakh one thousand are given every year during the exhibition event to promote Hindi and Urdu literature. The Aligarh exhibition is a reflection of its nature art, culture, agriculture and industrial development.


Official ending of Aligarh Exhibition (2021) is 5th March Aligarh Exhibition in true sense is Nostalgia for Every Alig, for years to come.

Written, photographed and posted by Engr Maqbool Akram


The End


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