Tuesday, 5 July 2016

MAUJA - The Merchants of Joy

The Merchants of Bollywood

Click here to know more about that wonderful band and to have a clue about the idea behind "MAUJA".

Click here version of the story on Your Story Club
Their names were Mukesh, Amal, Umesh, Jeevan and Akash, they were young, good-looking and intelligent, and they were part of a group of entertainers well known in the Indian Ocean, for which the name was created with the first letters of their names: MAUJA.
Mauja means "Enjoyment" in Hindi, and their aim was to organise shows to spread joy in their public. But were their respective lives as joyful as in their shows? At the beginning of their careers, they made of joy an illusion and an entertainment for their public's pleasure, and their talent and creativity had been inspired by the two popular bands Bharati and the Merchants of Bollywood.

But the name Mauja didn't only come from their passion for entertainment. Mauja had a dear meaning for the band members and where they came from.

MAUJA Villages - The hard beginnings

Mukesh's and Jeevan's parents came from the Mauja Village located in the Hingoli district in Maharashtra, India. Mukesh and Jeevan, despite their poor conditions, wanted to have good education like every child of their generation. They worked hard by helping their parents for their households, but they also saved money to refund their scholarship in the district of Hingoli, where the nearest school was located and where they could learn. They were so hardworking and intelligent that at the end of their scholarship, Mukesh and Jeevan could leave for Mumbai to attend university, in the aim of studying plumber, since they always paid interest into irrigation system since childhood. To earn their lives, they also had to perform as street entertainers and managed to survive and pay their university fees thanks to entertainment. They brilliantly obtained their degree and stayed located in Mumbai, where they started their professional career as freelance plumbers, while keeping also on performing their shows in parallel. Thanks to their career and hard work, they earned enough money, not only for themselves, but even for helping their parents and extended family in the village.

Amal, Umesh and Akash, by their side, came from another village also named Mauja, but located in the district of Kaski in Nepal. Their village mostly survived thanks to agriculture, especially cultivation of rice, vegetables, lentils, maize and mustard peas. They actively participated in their parents' agricultural activities but also for the whole village, to obtain enough fees for their studies. When their scholarship was completed, since they obtained brilliant results, they could attend the Pokhara University in the Pokhara town, which was known as the third biggest town in Nepal and at the same time the headquarters of the Kaski District, where their village Mauja came from. But alike Mukesh and Jeevan, the three boys struggled financially to finance their studies, which forced them to work as street entertainers in the streets of Pokhara, which helped them for their daily needs as well as their studies. After they completed university and obtained their degree in Agriculture, they kept on working in Pokhara for their own account as Agricultural Researchers, in partnership with several agricultural research institutes of whole Nepal, including Pokhara and Kaski District. Thanks to their brilliant career, they had a good reputation agricultural sector and were well known, as well for their hard work as for their talent as entertainers. They earned enough money to send money for their parents in Mauja Village, and they even greatly helped the rest of the Mauja Village whose life conditions were poor.

One day, Amal, Umesh and Akash decided to do some agricultural researches about the local production in their village Mauja and were stunned about the good quality of agricultural production, unfortunately unknown in the village, and which could make of Mauja the best rice, vegetable and cereal producer for the whole Kaski District, for Pokhara and even for the whole Nepal. However, what spoils the good quality of the harvest was the irrigation system, which needed to be revised, and the total absence of women's participation into the irrigation system management in the village, since women weren't allowed to such huge responsibilities. They wrote to several irrigation system management institutes in Nepal, but none of those organisations did reply to their urgent request. Also, they had no other choice than trying to contact some organisations in India.

The First Meeting and the birth of MAUJA band

Mukesh and Jeevan, one day, received the request from the three boys. They did more researches about their career and came to know more about the three boys' career in agriculture... But also the art of entertainment they shared in common with Mukesh and Jeevan as street entertainers. They immediately replied to the three boys and even invited them to India to discover their career as plumbers, and some important irrigation system projects they had the opportunity to participate actively in whole India, including their Mauja village, which faced the same problem as well. The three boys came to Mumbai and met Mukesh and Jeevan. They had a long stay in Mumbai, during which they had a long training session in water irrigation system with Mukesh and Jeevan for their studies. But at the same time they were working together, the friendship grew up together between the five young men. They even noticed that each of the letters of their names Mukesh, Amal, Umesh, Jeevan and Akash made together the name MAUJA, which means enjoyment in Hindi. Also, in addition of working together, they joint each other and as from that moment, the MAUJA name took birth. In parallel with the three Nepali boys training about water system irrigation with Mukesh and Jeevan in Mumbai, they performed in Mumbai, in the whole Maharashtra and even in the whole India, from big cities to lost villages.

How education highly saved the Mauja Village in Hingoli, India

Then one day, they reached the Hingoli district in Maharashtra, and while performing and training for water system irrigation, they visited the Hingoli town where Mukesh and Jeevan had been studying plumber in Hingoli university, and even reached their native village Mauja. Amal, Umesh and Akash already experienced extreme poverty in their native Mauja in Nepal, but what they saw in the Hingoli Mauja village was worse than they expected, especially when the shock of their illiteracy. Together with Mukesh and Jeevan then, through several entertainment shows which brought some important fund raisIngs, they raised enough money to buy some materials and to teach all the adults and children from the village everything about water irrigation system and plumber and to save them from illiteracy. Thanks to their determination and hunger for education and knowledge, and in parallel, alike Mukesh and Jeevan, the village people attended scholarship in Hingoli town during all the period of scholarship from pre-primary to the Bachelor degree, and then continued their studies in Mumbai by performing the same training as Mukesh and Jeevan in plumber. The whole village, after having been graduated in Mumbai, beat all the records in the history of education in whole India with the highest marks, and in parallel, with the help of the MAUJA band and their enrolment within their education and the numerous shows they organised to fund raise their village, the village conditions they lived in drastically changed and got transformed into a little piece of paradise, with modern living conditions.

But after having completed such a long and huge mission, another important thing had to be resolved: the irrigation system failure in the village of Mauja in Kaski district, which was spoiling the high level of vegetation quality. Amal, Umesh and Akash discovered through their researches that the vegetation coming from Mauja village could become the best one in the whole Kaski district, and even in the whole Nepal, and could become a worldwide producer for vegetables, rice and cereals if the irrigation system was improved. By thankfulness to the three Nepali boys for their active participation into their education and improvement level, the whole Mauja village accepted then to help the three men in return. But though they had whole experience in agriculture, they missed knowledge in agricultural research. Also, another long step had to be done. The village people, but even Mukesh and Jeevan, got subscribed in the Pokhara university and studied Agriculture. But since they already had experience in agriculture as village people, all of them also specialised in agricultural researches for a full-time course of 2 additional years with practise, and they obtained the same degree as Amal, Umesh and Akash. After a long period of patience, it was time for the village people and for the MAUJA band to act.

Mission Mauja in Kaski District, Nepal

When they arrived in Mauja Village in Kaski district, they effectively noticed about how the vegetation was getting awfully spoiled, which caused severe diseases in the village people's health. Also, several actions were taken. Some people volunteered to heal all the sick people and to create some natural medicines to cure them. Some other ones took the initiative to help the village people in their households and chores, since their health didn't allow them to handle the whole chores. When they felt more relieved, the Mauja village people of Kaski district then received great financial and social help thanks to the MAUJA entertainers and the Mauja Hingoli village people for their education in the nearest school of Kaski district where Amal, Umesh and Akash had been studying, and then were sent at their turn to Pokhara University to study Agriculture. It took again a couple of years to wait, but as per the MAUJA people, nothing could be possible without education. However, contrary to the Mauja village people from Hingoli, their living conditions didn't improve, still because of the failure of the irrigation system, but they all agreed on one point: without education, they couldn't do anything, and they all had thirst for learning. Also, the MAUJA band and the Mauja Hingoli village people helped the Mauja Nepali people financially and accompanied them in Mauja village in Hingoli to visit it and to discover as well the whole Hingoli district and Hingoli town, where Mukesh and Jeevan did their first steps. The Nepali village people were amazed by the incredible way education helped the Indian people improving their level and it left them hopeful for their village. After a long journey, they all arrived in Mumbai and followed the same tertiary education and obtained the same degree in plumber too.

The educational journey was very long and painful, but it was necessary. When they all arrived in the Mauja village in Kaski district, the whole vegetation perished and left the village people hopeless. But thanks to their education received, they all worked together, the Mauja people from both Nepal and India and even the MAUJA band, and they all analyzed the soil. Though the vegetation and habitations were damaged, there was still hope, since the soil was still very fertile. With such a zeal, all together they took several years and settled a brand new modern type of irrigation. But to obtain more financial help, since their fees weren't enough to do such a urgent job, they had to call the Indian and Nepali governments, the universities of Pokhara and Mumbai where they studied, and all the partnership organizations working together with both those universities to help them materially and financially.

Ten years elapsed, and after hard work, the irrigation system was finalized. The whole village was totally rebuilt at the example of the Mauja village of Hingoli in India, and the vegetation got improved in such a way that the village got a worldwide reputation for the high quality of their vegetables, rice and cereals. Those products were also used for exportation in whole Nepal, India, Asia and worldwide, and the inhabitants even seized the opportunity to prepare different kinds of foodstuffs, natural, homeopathic, and Ayurveda medicines and treatments, beauty and cosmetic products, pharmaceutical products, and, for the very first time in their history of agriculture, space foods for consumption of food by worldwide and local astronauts in outer space. Women, who had been inactive for years, thanks to their education, highly participated in the irrigation system project and in the Mauja village economy through their businesses and handcraft and most became entrepreneur women.

Epilogue: Mission successfully completed

When the MAUJA journey started, it was in 1960 when the MAUJA members were still 5-year-old children. Fifty-five years went on, during which the MAUJA band and the village people had been fighting for the sake of their villages in Hingoli and Kaski. We were in 2015, and the five MAUJA boys all turned 60 years old, the legal worldwide age for retirement. They never thought about getting married nor having children, despite the family pressure they kept on facing from their parents and relatives because of the huge involvement and energy they consecrated into saving their Mauja villages. When all five boys turned 60, though they turned it at different dates, they decided to choose one specific date, which was the date when the five MAUJA members met for the very first time in India since Mukesh and Jeevan received the three Nepali boys' request regarding the system irrigation. And as a gift of their 60th anniversary, they decided to commemorate another anniversary, the anniversary of their first meeting, which marked as well the start of the MAUJA journey as merchants of joy, not only as entertainers, but also in their involvements for their villages. They were all 25 years old when they met, just after graduation in university and start of their careers, which made that the MAUJA adventure started for them in 1985 and that it would turn into a 30th anniversary celebration. And to end, they wanted to pay a large tribute into education for village people, since their journey to education started when they turned 5 years old, which made that their 55 years in history of education as village children was worth to be commemorated as well.

The MAUJA boys kept on going ahead with their entertainment and even trained several of the village people and Kaski and Hingoli districts into their arts of entertainment, encouraging them as well to participate actively in their shows. However, they retired from their careers in agriculture and plumbery, but kept on organising conferences and workshops for students, beginners and professionals in the same domains. In addition to the celebration of their 60th anniversary, 55th education anniversary and 30th collaboration anniversary, they sealed that wonderful day by signing an agreement for twinning both villages, with agreement of both Indian and Nepali government.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Saptaratna - In the Name of the Rainbow Ship

Rainbow and Ship in the Sea

Seven young boys coming all over India were close friends and shared a strong spiritual brotherhood bond since they were born. What was common between them was that they were all born on a 7th July,  July being the 07th month of the year, some of them at 07.07.am and some of them at 07.07.pm!
What was also incredible with them too is that they were at all at seven boys and that their names initials and states they came from composed the word Rainbow : R for Roshan, coming from Rajasthan, A for Ashwin, coming from Andhra Pradesh, I for Indrajeet, coming from Island of Andaman-and-Nicobar, N for Naushad coming from Nagaland, B for Bhuvan coming from Bihar, O for Oojam coming from Orissa, and W for William, an Anglo-Indian born coming from West Bengal.
One day, they had a common idea of organizing a cruise all over India to celebrate their 25 year old birthdays... And once again the number 25 contained the numbers 2 and 5 which make number 7 if we add them together, and that was the reason why they wanted to make that day very special.
Thanks to the economies they could save by working part time as waiters in a chain of restaurant to pay their studies, they could buy their own glass ship, which they named the Rainbow Ship in the name of their friendship. They wanted to try the boat and after having organized everything, they left from the harbor of Goa, where they spent a one-week holiday before embarking and started their journey on the sea.
While they were cutting their birthday cake, the captain of the ship came with a special gift for them : a jewel box containing 7 gold rings, each of them encrusted with a precious stone belonging to the holy Saptaratna, the holy Hindu talisman made of seven precious stones, each of them representing one of the days of the week, from Monday to Sunday. The seven friends, who were all Hindus including William despite his Christian name, were enchanted by their birthday gift and each of the seven friends wore the ring either in left or right index, as per consultation of the captain's astrologer from India, who always accompanied him in all his travels.
By mischance, when they were floating over the sea, their boat lost total control and accidentally landed on an island which seemed to be the Netrani Island, located in the Arabian Sea and near the coast of Karnataka, known mostly for facilities for scuba diving.
During seven months, once again with number seven appearing again, until a helicopter from Indian Army was flying over the island and saw signs of life, thanks to the time they could take before the arrival of the helicopter by writing the word "help" on the sand, the seven friends experienced two sorts of way of living.
First, they learnt to live without any technology, in total contact with the nature. The experience was at first very difficult for them, as they were all technology minded. But the more they got used to that experience, the more they came to learn about the values of the past, when technology didn't exist and when human contact was omnipresent within families and friends' circles.
Second, they experienced new things they never learnt before, in contrary to their past life during which they knew nothing else than amusement, luxurious life and wealth though they also supported each other during their studies in college and university and worked together to pay their studies and campus fees. They experienced new responsibilities they never experienced before such as illness, healing, providing food, personal chores, etc. What would those new experiences bring to their friendship ? Would they still remain in their superficial happiness of loss, luxury and pride ? Or would they have strong lessons of life about friendship being based first on humanity and simple things of life especially through the toughest moments of life ? And in which way the rings they were wearing would bring transformations in their relationship ?
They obtained the answers to those numerous questions in their minds since they acknowledged a shipwrecked stranger who settled on the island for years and who was a well-known writer and photographer from the Indian Times, who chose to live everything behind him to live on that uninhabited island as a hermit. But that hermit very often went by his personal hand-made raft to the nearby beach of Murudeshwara to praise and worship Lord Shiva, whom he became a full-time Shiva worshiper for the rest of his life, since thanks to Lord Shiva, he left the superficial world of fame he was living in, but in which he wasn't happy, to be in total harmony with Mother Nature, yoga, meditation and spirituality. That hermit, whose name was Mahesh, guided the seven friends in that journey of spirituality, after which they would see their friendship and life in a total transformation.
After having been rescued by the Indian Army and brought to Murudeshwara, together with their friend Mahesh who accompanied them for a pilgrimage at Lord Shiva's temple, the seven friends accompanied Mahesh to Murudeshwara. Mahesh, together with the temple guardian priest, renewed the blessings of the seven rings consisting the Saptaratna which each friend had at his respective finger, and together with the government of Murudeshwara, created a project to make of their shipwrecked Rainbow Ship a wreck which could be visited during scuba diving by tourists, and used for the good preservation of the Murudeshwara and Netrani Island lagoons.
The seven friends then went back into their native states living their lives anew after that rich but hard experience, but never failed into coming back to Murudeshwara and to Narita Island every year to reunite, especially during the Maha Shivratri yearly pilgrimage, to praise and worship Lord Shiva after 11 days of hard fasting and to visit their hermit friend Mahesh on Netrani Island until his death, after which his ashes were spread in the waters near the Murudeshwara Shiva Temple as per his last wish, by the seven friends.