Bestower of Good Luck ~ Rajasthani Great Granny Jaikuwar Lodha

by on August 5, 2013

Two days with an 89-year old great grandmother without hearing a word of complaint about aches or pains, or any sound of disapproval about the activities of youngsters, truly piqued my curiosity. Smt Jaikuwar Bai, wife of late Shri Motilalji Lodha, is a Rajasthani residing in Ahmednagar, Maharasthra. Known to be a bestower of good luck, she is a mother of 9 children, grandmother of 23, great-grandmother of 22, and now a great-great-grandmother as well.


Great Granny diaries Jaikuwar Lodha

Healthy and lovely in body, mind and spirit, she begins her morning with her yoga practice even at the age of 89. Among family and friends, she is famous for her ‘pagfera’, meaning her presence brings good luck and positive vibrations. It is for this reason that she is often invited for business inaugurations and housewarming ceremonies. Her love and generosity of spirit allows her to harmonize her traditional values with the dynamic world of the youngsters in the family. She enjoyed the interview, unfazed by my endless questions, answering them patiently in Hindi, her accent rich in Maharashtrian influence.


Tell me about your childhood years.
She: I was born in Shrirampur district in Ahmednagar. I remember observing my mother and aunt work at home as a child. I think I learnt to cook and do housework just by being a keen observer. When I turned fourteen, I was married.


How did you manage in a new household at such a young age?
She: One learns, sometimes easily, sometimes the tough way. I remember when I was once asked to prepare haveji, a Rajasthani side dish using bengal gram. I was not able to estimate the quantity and ended up preparing in excess. My mother-in-law was about to reprimand me, but my father-in-law intervened and said that there were enough domestic staff and cows at home to feed, and therefore excess was not a problem.


Great Granny Jaikuwar with Pratibha Jain

Was it a joint family?
She: Of course, earlier there were only joint families. The nuclear family is a modern day choice and convenience. All in all, there were 27 members at home and all the housework was done by hand.


Was it tough to manage?
She: Not at all. It was just the way life was. Everyone lived with the realization that life is about adjusting with one another. There was no notion of me and mine. We grew up believing in the values of nurturing and caring – ‘seva bhavana’ was not something one had to learn, it was part of life.


Yet your children say that you have always given them freedom of thought and decision.
She: One has to live life according to the context and circumstances. I like the values I grew up with, but I also welcome the changing times. Once my eldest son told me about how the role of women was changing in metro cities. I immediately decided that my daughters-in-law can work if they want to, and drive a scooter if they choose. Some friends and well-wishers objected, but I remained firm.


What makes you welcome change so easily?
She: As my Guru Shri Anand Rishiji taught me, it is all about the value system. If you can impart the right values to your children at a young age, there is nothing to fear. They will easily adapt to change without compromising on their values.


Umesh Khinvasara (grandson): She always tells us that we must aspire and reach somewhere – ‘Prove yourself’is what she says. None of us can ever forget how she took care of her children after her husband’s demise. She gathered courage and helped them in the setting up of their business empire. From their hereditary business of fruits and vegetables with 10 employees, they have now diversified to many other businesses such as cold storage, aluminium sections manufacturing, real estate, plywood etc with an employee strength of 600.


She: Both my husband and myself believed in education. In fact, when my eldest son completed his high school and was thinking of joining my husband in the family business, both of us impressed upon him that he must pursue higher studies. He chose to do both which was a good decision.


Sangeeta Chordia (granddaughter): Their family is an example before all of us. They lived as a joint family for 26 years in a harmonious way.


Jaikuwar quote


How does your inner discipline translate into your relationships?
Manisha (daughter-in-law): She is a rare combination of discipline and affection. If her discipline has taught us efficiency, her affection has allowed us to nurture our individual skills.


Savita (daughter-in-law): In fact, it is because of her training that we can confidently manage guests at any time, cook for large number of people, and serve them with hospitality.


Shraddha (granddaughter-in-law): She is always going to orphanages where she distributes fruits and sweets. Such an action has very positive impact on the children at home. She is a true philanthropist and helps many organizations and individuals with a selfless spirit.


Manisha: She is an epitome of punctuality and a healthy way of life. We must all learn how to lead a life free of distress and disease from her.


Shraddha: Her style of working is unparalleled. She is as efficient as a professional in her cleanliness and diligence.


Thank you all for your beautiful inputs. Tell me, what is a normal day like?
She: I wake up before sunrise every morning. The first thing I do is feed grains to the pigeons who come to our terrace. Then I do my yoga practices for an hour. I eat twice a day; and never snack between meals. I spend a good amount of time at our sthanak (Jain monastery). If any of the monks or nuns are unwell, I attend to them.


And do you eat before sunset like many Jains do?
She: For at least 50 years now, I have adopted the vow of Chauviyar, which means eating before sundown. I don’t even drink water until the next morning. I followed this practice even during my pregnancy. I also don’t eat root vegetables as a strict Jain.


What are your favourite pastimes?
She: I enjoy seeing new places and love travelling. I have visited many places within India and abroad.


Everyone speaks so warmly about your affection as well as resilience. Can you tell us what brings such serenity?
She smiled at my words and said nothing. Her loving and unconditional gaze said it all. Indeed, spending time with her reiterated the truth that the exceptional trait of serenity resides where analysis and grammar play no role.


First published in August 2013 in Harmony – Celebrate Age Magazine for the column – The Great Granny Diaries. Part-2 of this post is Aam ka Kalakand, the authentic Rajasthani mithai from the kitchen of Jaikuwar Bai Lodha. She is the 12th grandma featured in this column.


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