Each Mar/ Apr - and as other occasions demand - villagers in western Uttar Pradesh carry out what I term the bamboo-flag mania. Entire villages scour their area for the tallest standing bamboo, cut it down, festoon the thin end with art paper, and a prominent flag. This is then transported amid much fanfare and music - on a tractor or on foot - to a diety deemed holy by the village. The young uns hoist the bamboo pole as the priests hum and haw, sprinkle holy water, and provide a holy snack. Everyone returns home feeling really good! The reason for the event is to pay obeisance to the diety to thank Her/ Him for a good year, and/ or request for a good one. The stack of bamboo "grows" into a mini forest quite rapidly. In the good-old village tradition of "re-use when possible", children come by each evening to strip the bamboos of their decorations, which are sold off in a nearby market, and the bamboos are taken home for a variety of uses. In some areas, where people are more fervent, bamboo is very rare. I wonder how old this practice is. (Photograph date: Apr 5, 2009; Mainpuri district)
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