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The Rush to Get to Office Killed Night-Long Bhagwati Jagrans

The night-long jarring musical extravaganzas used to be an integral part of Navratras in the Hindi heartland.

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Now it can safely be said that the era of Bhagwati Jagrans (BJ) or Jagratas is coming to an end. The night-long jarring musical extravaganzas used to be an integral part of Navratras in the Hindi heartland. And Delhi was their bastion. While BJs were promoted by the Punjabis, they were well accepted even in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand.

Night-long religious discourse with bhajans (read behten) in praise of Durga used to rule the roost during Navratras. And the best and most noticeable thing about them was that they were always ‘Vishal’. If there is a BJ, it has to be big. No place for modesty. Posters announcing a forthcoming BJ would without fail mention it as a “Vishal” Bhagwati Jagran. Posters also used to carry the names of jagran parties and a long list of all organisers.

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But, it seems that the era of BJs is all but over. Till a couple of years ago, important walls of the national capital were full of such BJ posters. What are the reasons for the sharp decline of interest in BJs? There have to be some factors that sounded the death knell for these OTT all-nighters in the name of God. BJs were sweeping the religious scene for decades in Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, and NCR.

BJs gradually started grabbing the religious space of Delhi in 60s. It became a rage in 70s to mid 90s. The likes of Gulshan Kumar of T-Series fame have done great service for the cause of BJ. Himself a devotee of Bhagwati, he used to release BJ albums on a regular basis. The likes of Narendra Chanchal, Anuradha Podwal, Sonu Nigam used to sing bhets in albums released by T-series. Those were the salad days for BJs.

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Did Bollywood Take Its Love For Jagran Songs a Bit Too Far?

Bollywood smartly used Jagrans songs in films like Suhaag and Aasha to exploit the religious sensibilities of a huge section of society. Remember super hits songs like, ‘Sabse Bada Tera Naam O Sherowali …’ to Mohammad Rafi’s ‘Tune Mujhe Bulaya Sherawaliye …’. And not to forget the song from one of Rajesh Khanna’s last hits , ‘Chalo Bulava Aaya Hai…’ Surely, these songs became the signature songs of every BJ.

Post economic liberation in 1991, nature of jobs saw a paradigm shift. Regular 10 am to 5 pm jobs have started shrinking in a big way.

A whole new generation of young Indians started emerging. They were to do night shifts and odds jobs in fields like IT, Telecom and media. Life became more complicated and challenging.

Moreover, covering long distances to reach offices proved too much for people. It was not possible for young India to attend night-long Bhagwati Jagans and then rush to the office in the morning. As that was not enough, this young India was not ready to take loot in the name of ‘Ardaas’ and poorly sung bhajans with third rate poetry and ear- shattering music.

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Logistics and Economics

It is said that if one door closes, another opens. This is true for Bhagwati Jagran parties and singers. While the era of BJs is more or less over, Mata Ki Chowkis (mini edition of BJ) and Sai Sandhyas are emerging thick and fast. With the changing times, BJ parties/ singers have switched gears and now they are getting enough work thanks to the advent of Sai Sandhyas.

Insiders say that these parties settle for less fees if they get an idea that the host is a rich and famous man. These parties earn huge amount through 'Ardaas'.

Mata ki Chowki starts at around 7 pm and everything is finished by 10 pm. And then the host offers dinner. The timing of SS is also the same. While singers sing bhajans praising Bhagwati in Mata ki Chowki, SS is all about Sai Baba. So in both Mata ki Chowki and SS, devotees do not have to stay up for the full night.

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At last, BJs have lost the battle after being the monarch for decades. While the young India is god-fearing and religious, it is not keen to be part of the BJ bandwagon. You go to any religious place, and you’d easily find large number of young devotees performing pujas and other rituals.

In nutshell, you can say, BJs are rapidly vanishing, though Mata ki Chowkis and Sai Sandhyas are fast emerging alongside. It proves the point that religious preferences too change with the passage of time.

(The writer is a former editor of Somaiya publications. This is a personal blog and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Bollywood   Bihar   Mohammad Rafi 

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