Indu Atya – Reflections of her niece, Madhavi

The following article about Indirabai Bhajekar, Bhausaheb‘s eldest child and Shriram Jatar‘s granddaughter, has been written by Madhavi Jatar, the daughter of Sadashiv (Balu) Jatar, and the granddaughter of Bhausaheb.

इंदू आत्या : एक मुक्त चिंतन

– माधवी दाते (जटार)

इंदू आत्या, माझी सर्वात मोठी आत्या. रुढ अर्थाने ती माझी आत्या होती, पण तसं पाहिलं तर ती माझी आजी होती. तिच्यात आणि माझ्या बाबांच्या वयात २१ वर्षांचे अंतर होते. बाबा आणि सुधीर काका इंदू आत्या कडे राहात होते, तेव्हा तीने केवळ त्यांची ताई न राहाता, आई बनून त्यांच्यावर संस्कार केले. ती केवळ अशोक दादा, नीलू , बाबा, सुधीर काका यांचीच आई नव्हती, तर तिच्या बालवाडीतील असंख्य मुलांची व निवाऱ्यातील व्रृध्दांची ती माऊलीच होती. काय योगायोग आहे बघा, ह्या आदर्श मातेच्या हस्ते १९७७च्या डिसेंबर महिन्यात ग.दि.मांच्या आईचा “माईसाहेब पारखी आदर्श माता” हा पुरस्कार देऊन गौरव करण्यात आला होता.

Continue reading “Indu Atya – Reflections of her niece, Madhavi”

To Indira Bhajekar – With Love, from her grandkids

Indira Bhajekar, Mothi Aai, to her five grandchildren, was the eldest of Bhausaheb’s children, and the granddaughter of Shriram Jatar.

The following nuggets about her have been contributed by her grandchildren: Rahul and Shivanand Bhajekar, Rama Kulkarni nee Raddi, Rewati Prabhu nee Raddi and Shrirang Raddi. Rama, Rewa and Shrirang are Neelima Raddi‘s children and Rahul and Shivanand are Ashok Bhajekar’s. Ashok and Neelima are Indira Bhajekar’s son and daughter respectively.

In the family photo below you can see Indira Bhajekar (extreme right) with three of her grandchildren: Rewa, Rahul and Shivanand.

grandkids
L to R: Arvind Raddi, Rewa Prabhu, Neelima Raddi, Suneela Bhajekar, Rahul Bhajekar, Ashok Bhajekar, Shivanand Bhajekar, Deepa Bhajekar and Indira Bhajekar

By Rahul:

While most of her grandchildren called her “Mothi Aai,” I have, since the time I remember, called her just “Aai” – my mother was also called “Aai,” so sometimes there was a bit of confusion. Then again, I called my grandfather “Baba” and father “Dada,” which goes to show I probably copied a few things from my aunt, Neelima Raddi!

Almost every school holiday (Summer and Diwali) I travelled alone from Mumbai to Continue reading “To Indira Bhajekar – With Love, from her grandkids”

JATAR ANNAPOORNAS

By Dr Rama Kulkarni

Around 2015, Nita and I had talked of putting together some Jatar family recipes for the blog. I thought I would get the ball rolling by contributing some from my archives along with a few associated memories. It is a special feeling to be able to share some vintage recipes, some over a hundred years old now.

I grew up in a family where good cooking was relished and appreciated. My mother, Neelima Raddi, and grandmother (Indira Bhajekar née Jatar) were busy women with careers outside the home, but also seemingly blessed with magic powers by the goddess of food, Annapoorna. They could transform the simplest of ingredients into a delectable meal in minutes.

recipes
Indira Bhajekar’s notes

When I was in college I decided to write down some family recipes, starting by asking my beloved grandmother. We had a grand old time laughing together as she dictated them, especially at the sometimes baffling instructions for amounts of ingredients, which had me pestering her for specifics. Like all seasoned cooks (couldn’t resist that one!), she rarely needed to measure anything and everything was by “andaaz” or approximation born of experience. I would sternly tell her that “a bit“ and “a little” and “plenty” were not exactly going to be helpful directions to a novice. One recipe included cinnamon sticks. How much? As much as you can afford – came her quick, mischievous reply.

Whenever I visited her home, I loved looking through the collections of old photos and letters. Exploring an ancient cabinet, I came across one of her notebooks filled with handwritten recipes Continue reading “JATAR ANNAPOORNAS”

Four Jatar ladies of yesteryear

During the old days, taking a photograph was an event. People got dressed up and went to the studio. I can imagine how excited these lovely ladies must have been when they decked up in their finery and trooped to the studio.

This photo was probably clicked before 1927, because 1927 was the year when Indira Jatar got married.

From Left to Right: Kumud Jatar [seated], Chandrabhaga (Chani) Jatar, Sarojini (Banutai) [seated] and Indira Jatar.

4 ladies framed

Chani (Chandrabhaga) and Sarojini were sisters, daughters of Kashinath Jatar (Bapurao), who was the eldest son of Shriram Jatar. Sarojini married Narsimha Laxman Inamdar. Chani died early, at the age of 18, of a heatstroke.

The ladies on either side of them are Kumud Jatar and Indira Jatar. Kumud was the daughter of Ranganath Jatar (Balasaheb), the son of Shriram Jatar. Kumud’s father, Balasaheb, passed away very early, when Kumud was a child. Later, Kumud married Shankarao Borgaonkar of Hyderabad. Indira Jatar was the daughter of Bhausaheb, and married Shri Bhalchandra Balkrishna Bhajekar. Thus, Kumud and Indira were the first cousins of Chandrabhaga and Sarojini.

I cannot help but wonder what these sisters and cousins talked about. They led stable and secure lives and had loving families so their hopes and dreams came true. Except for Chani, tragically.

Smt. Indirabai Bhajekar

By Dr Rama Kulkarni, February 2008. (Based on my recollections and the writings of my parents.)

My maternal grandmother, Indirabai Bhajekar, was the firstborn of Sir Nilkanth Jatar (Bhausaheb,  son of Shriram Bhikaji Jatar,) and his wife Bhagirathi (nee Durga Moghe). Indira was born on July 21, 1910, at Sion, Mumbai. She grew up in Nagpur, where her father was posted as Inspector -General of Prisons, CP & Berar.

She excelled in mathematics at school and matriculated from St.Ursula’s. She won a book by William Wordsworth as a prize. Watch the slideshow:

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She was married at the age of 16 to Shri Bhalchandra Balkrishna Bhajekar, a college student at the time. His family was well respected and known for their progressive views and social reform work, notably in widow rehabilitation and widow remarriage. Not surprisingly, they fully supported Indirabai’s strong desire to continue her education after marriage – although not the custom in those days. She studied at Fergusson College, Pune, obtaining her BA from the University of Bombay in 1931. She was also considered very beautiful, noted for her fair complexion and gracefulness.

Induatya family
Bhalachandra Bhajekar, Indira’s husband and her son, Ashok Bhajekar.

Indirabai soon became active in the field of social service for women and children, in which her husband, Advocate Bhajekar, encouraged and actively supported her. Their residence- (a traditional wada) in Vetal Peth (present-day Guruwar Peth), Pune, was always made available for her manifold causes. In 1934, she started the Mahila Samaj – a women’s organization dedicated to expanding their horizons beyond domestic responsibilities. Women took part in sports, writing, art , music, wrote articles and discussed current events.

Indirabai ran a centre for the Arogya Mandal, at her residence for 17 years. This supplied basic medical equipment to the poor (of all castes and creeds) at no cost. In 1947, she started a milk distribution centre in her home as well, for impoverished neighbourhood children. UNICEF provided the milk powder and she saw to it that the children drank the prepared milk in the centre and did not take it home (to prevent its diversion elsewhere).

She started the Vetal Peth Balak Mandir (pre-primary school) in 1956, for children of poor illiterates, in one of the rooms at her wada. At first, she had to personally convince people to send their children. Children were given a freshly made, wholesome meal as well. The visible improvement in their health helped uneducated parents realize the dietary importance of fruits, raw vegetables, and sprouted lentils. Cooking and serving the meal also provided employment to local women. The school, which began with 2 students, grew to 170 and was later affiliated to the Pune Mahila Mandal. It continues to this day.

In 1965, she started a “Sanskar Varga” (cultural education class) at home for children of poor, illiterate parents. The children learned Sanskrit shlokas (verses), did homework and were told educational stories. Indirabai took the lead in many a relief effort, effectively recruiting women for these causes. Among others, these included foodgrain distribution during famine, knitting sweaters for soldiers during the ’62 Chinese invasion, helping out during the Panshet flood and providing essential health information during epidemics.

A founding member of the Pune Mahila Mandal (the Pune branch of the All India Women’s Conference or AIWC), she played a major role in setting up a new building for the Mandal and its Family Planning Center. Over the years, she successfully discharged the duties of treasurer, secretary, and other posts culminating in her election as President of the AIWC, (Western zone). She was also elected the Vice President of the AIWC, at the national level. She served as president of the Pune unit of Annapoorna – a meal service for office workers, that provided employment to many women.

She also worked at innumerable local women’s welfare organizations. Indirabai also worked, since 1948, for the David Sassoon Anath Pangu Griha or Niwara – a home for the poor and destitute elderly. She worked tirelessly until the age of 88, as an executive committee member and for many years as president. Even in her nineties, she would visit the residents of the home whenever her health permitted. In recognition of her work (all of it voluntary), she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the AIWC in January 2003, presented by Najma Heptullah (granddaughter of Maulana Azad) at Fergusson College, Pune.

Indirabai had two children, Ashok, who became a surgeon specializing in urology and Neelima, who became a professor of French and an author. She was much loved and respected by all her siblings. Her sister Leela, was only 3 when their mother died and though Indira was herself a child, she did her best to look after her.

Bhausaheb later remarried and she remained close throughout her life to all her brothers and sisters, who called her Indutai. Always known for being a warm and caring person, she not only maintained but strengthened ties between friends and family members, both on her parents’ side and on her in-laws’ side. The Jatar Bhishi Mandal (women relatives who meet regularly as a group) started by her, continues to this day in Pune.

Indirabai’s optimistic outlook and zest for life were remarkable. With characteristic modesty, she always maintained that she had merely done her duty to society and nothing more. She passed away at the age of 95 but her memory remains an inspiration to us all.

The photograph below is of Indira as a baby with her mother (Bhagirathi Jatar nee Moghe) and on the right, Bhagirithi Jatar. She was Bhausaheb‘s first wife and passed away early.