TOY TRADITIONS FROM MAHARASHTRA
Most of the girls reading this might relate to the KITCHEN-SET, we used to play in our childhood. I think all over the world, girls loves to play homemaking. Those cute miniatures of kitchen utensils still captures my heart. They made the sweet happy memories of my childhood. The miniatures were usually made out of plastic or terracotta or ceramic or wood. However, Maharashtrian culture displays a much more elaborated form of kitchen-set. It’s called- “Bhatukali“.
Bhatukali is a part of ancient Maharashtrian lineage encouraging young kids to understand kitchen, which is the most important part of any home. Children, especially girls, love to mimic their mothers working in kitchen in the form of fun activity. It is a set of cooking utensils in a small size.
The name of Vilas Karandikar is worth mentioning here. He is an enthusiastic curator of the Bhatukali, aims to preserve and pass on the heritage.
WHAT IS “BHATUKALI”?
Bhatukali includes kitchen articles and other household stuffs in miniature form. Most of these articles are from the past which are discontinued in current urban households. Generally the modern household has around 40 – 50 types of utensils but the complete Bhatukali set holds around 200 types of kitchen articles. These utensils were once the part of traditional Maharashtrian house which are now EXTINCT.
These realistic miniature models evoke the feeling of home management, cultural awareness, and ritual practice in the player. A short Bhatukali session helps children to socialize and manage tidiness in the game. It impacts the learning and development of children. Meaningful toys helps to enhance a child’s imagination and learning life skills. Budding little chefs would develop interest in cooking and serving, is the prime motive of Bhatukali miniature fun play set.
Bhatukali is not just a game, but a Maharashtrian legacy. Its history dates back to 12th century where it is mentioned in ‘Dnyaneshwari’, a text written by Marathi saint-poet Dnyaneshwar. It also finds description in the ‘Kamasutra’ written by Vatsyayana. Bhatukali is one of the 14 vidyas and 64 kalas recognised by Vedic scholars.
Amongst local folks, Bhatukali became popular around 400-500 years ago. It was introduced as a method to involve kids particularly girls in the daily household chores and kitchen work. Even boys participated in these games enthusiastically. In later years, Bhatukali became a part of children games almost all over the country. But the game became an ancestral legacy in Maharashtrian household. Unique utensils and their usage passed onto generations through Bhatukali. It finds a special place in every Maharashtrian heart.
A traditional Bhatukali kitchen set is made up of copper, bronze, silver, stone or clay. It includes miniatures of essential household articles like –
- Pata-varvanta – Sil Batta to grind masalas
- khal-batta– Mortar Pestle
- jate– Grinding stone
- Thakki- A wooden doll
- bamba – Water heater
- HANDA – A cooking pot
- GHILODI – Ghee servers
- parrot chimta – Parrot-shaped tongs
- GHOTNI – Churner
- kathwat– Bhakris pot
- VATKI – Bowl
- pangat– System of sitting in rows for meals
- paan daan – The betel leaf box used as mouth freshener after meals
- Metal items for pooja
- Ghusan Khamb – To churn butter from milk
- Chulhas – Traditional Gas Stove
- SOOPAS – To separate the chaff from the grain
- Dagdi Ukhad – To pound masalas
- Villyas – To grate coconut and cut fish
- Zhara – Slotted Spoon
- TARAJOO- The metal balance
- MASALEDANI- Spice container
- TAWA- Flat pan
The list is long. Some of the unique kitchen items in Bhatukali, serves as a keepsake of an era gone by.
Modern kitchen sets includes appliances like the refrigerator, kitchen sink cabinet, fruits rack, tableware, dining set, gas stove with frying pan and cooker, microwave oven, etc. But the past is preserved in Bhatukali not in kitchen sets.
“BHATUKALI CHA SANSAR”
“Bhatukali cha sansar” is the largest collection of Bhatukali miniature toys recorded in Limca Book Of Records in 2003. The credit goes to Vilas Karandikar, a Pune resident and enthusiastic curator of Bhatukali.
In 1900s Vilas Karandikar started “Aajichi Bhatukali“, a marathi term that means “Grandmother’s Kitchenware”. Karandikar’s immense affection towards Bhatukali, inspired him to collect miniature toys/utensils as a way of preserving a Maharashtrian heritage. Over the time he has managed to collect almost 3000 miniature utensils that were and are a part of Marathi kitchen.
Most of the items in Aajichi Bhatukali are now disappeared from modern kitchens but Karandikar found it as his duty to make future generations aware of the ancient utensils and kitchen techniques which our mothers and grandmothers used to follow before the invention of modern gadgets. The advance equipments might save our time and space but can never ever replace the warmth of those utensils which were once the part of kitchen.
There are many exhibitions of Aajichi Bhatukali held in several parts of India and abroad. The collection has displayed in Solapur, Nasik, Nagpur, Mumbai, Pune, New Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Goa, and Karnataka. In 2009, Karandikar exhibit his collection in Philadelphia, USA, by the Brihan Maharashtra Mandal.
VEDIO : Bhatuklichya Khelacha Raja | Shortfilm on Vilas Karandikar
PRESENT STATUS OF BHATUKALI
In a way, Bhatukali is a form of a collectible. It reminds us of our past, our ancestral way of living which is now lost. Even the silver or copper Bhatukali sets are a treat to eye, and worth collecting. It’s sad to see that the current society is losing its distinct tradition and cultural values. Generations goes by and things change, but it’s our duty to preserve our past, as much as we can. We must preserve the rich cultural diversities that we must be proud of as an Indian. The sacred knowledge and ancient customs from past must be passed to our children in any possible form.
Current Bhatukali sets demand is drastically decreased. It can be managed through tourism, public speaking on traditions by popular personalities, increasing resources, exhibitions and promoting Bhatukali culture. Parent must make their children understand about their traditions. This will not only help in safeguarding lost heritage but also give employment to the local craftsmen.
If everyone ignores the culture and its values, it cannot survive and eventually lost. Traditions are not meant to be kept in museums, it is something to be passed on.