Dotted with British Raj–era buildings, and popular throughout India for its food Lucknow is exceptionally beautiful. The city of Nawabs, has many historical stories; one such story is that of the Bada Mangal.
- Bada Mangal is said to be Lucknow’s symbol of communal harmony between Hindus and Muslims.
- It is celebrated on all the Tuesdays of the Hindi month Jyeshtha.
- The festival celebrated with gusto in Lucknow is dedicated to the Hindu deity, Lord Hanuman. This festival is unique to Lucknow and has been celebrated here for past 400 years.
- According to the legend, Begum Janab-e-Alia, the second wife of the third Nawab of Oudh Kingdom (of which Lucknow was a part), Shuja-ud-Daulah (1753-1775 A.D.), dreamt of a divine presence commanding her to build a temple honouring Lord Hanuman.
- The dream pointed the Nawab’s wife to a specific site where an idol of Hanuman was buried.
- Accordingly, the Begum ordered the excavation of the site and when the idol was found, she made arrangements for transporting it back to Lucknow on an elephant.
- However, the elephant stopped in its tracks after covering some distance and refused to budge.
- The Begum inferred this as another divine sign and ordered the erection of a temple at this spot in present day Aliganj.
- Since then, every year, devotees not just from UP but also other parts of the country congregate at this Hanuman temple in Lucknow in large numbers on the four Tuesdays of Jyestha.
- Well-off families and even corporate houses, shopkeepers and residents all over the city prepare a feast for public consumption on these four Tuesdays.
- Virtually every street in the city erects a marquee or two for doling out the feast to passersby irrespective of their faith.
- The feast comprises of hot pooris and tandoori rotis along with potato curry and chutneys with a sprinkling of diced onion. The feast is rounded off by a glass of chilled juice/sherbet! In some places sweets are also distributed.
- In the evening children throng fairs that are set-up around temples for the devotees.
- Muslims in large numbers put up stalls to offer water and food to the devotees in the scorching summer heat of Lucknow.
Bada Mangal which is unique to Lucknow exemplifies secularism and cross-religious beliefs of Lucknowites.