Sharad Pawar blows his 'trumpet' at Shivaji's fort, unveils new symbol

The 'tutari' or traditional Marathi trumpet immediately draws an association with Chhatrapati Shivaji, and from there to Pawar

Sharad Pawar at Raigad fort (photo: PTI)
Sharad Pawar at Raigad fort (photo: PTI)

Sujata Anandan

The tutari could well prove an inspired choice as a party symbol for the Nationalist Congress Party (Sharadchandra Pawar), unveiled today at the historic Raigad fort. The traditional trumpet of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, recognised all across Maharashtra among all classes, the tutari was used for ceremonial calls announcing the arrival of the king to court, though it is not a military bugle.

The brass instrument, now generally restricted musically to jazz and classical tunes, was very popular with the Shiv Sena during the times of Bal Thackeray, who fancied himself as Shivaji reborn and lost no opportunity to have people blow the trumpet in in his honour.

But it has also been blown when major political parties have launched big campaigns and in honour of visiting prime ministers, presidents and other dignitaries, along with traditional ceremonial chants announcing their arrival to this day.

It could thus put the noses of all political parties out of joint, denying them the opportunity to blow their own trumpets at their ceremonial occasions lest they give more traction to Sharad Pawar’s NCP. 

Last week, Pawar had said in his political career, he had gone through at least four election symbols, and contending with new symbols weeks before the polls had never made much difference to his political fortunes.

Beginning with the bullock cart symbol of the Socialist Congress, going on to the hand of the Indian National Congress, and the clock with his own party NCP, which was his greatest challenge.

Pawar had wanted the charkha (spinning wheel), but was denied that symbol by the EC, so he chose the alarm clock, which visually came closest to the charkha, and when the NCP launched it, party leaders made a big show of adjusting the hands to 10.10 and winding it up, so that voters would remember. 

The symbol did nothing out of the ordinary for the party and Pawar’s numbers in the Assembly remained the same as they had through the years on other symbols, an average of 55 to 58 seats, from mostly western Maharashtra.

But the tutari has a significance all of its own. It is still a live instrument used in villages, it immediately draws an association with Chhatrapati Shivaji, and from there a line to Pawar, regarded by some as the modern-day equivalent of the secular, anti-casteist and socialist Maratha warrior king. No wonder Pawar chose Shivaji’s fort in Raigad to be 'crowned' and to blow the trumpet on its maiden call to the voters.

The award of the symbol has left a sour taste in the mouths of the Ajit Pawar faction of the NCP, with those supporting his uncle crowing that while the uncle has the mighty tutari, Ajit is sure to be reduced to becoming a pipari eventually.

The tutari is made of heavy brass with several ceremonial attachments, while the pipari is an easily crushed reed instrument made of bamboo, and smaller than even the common flute. The significance of that is not lost on anyone in Maharashtra.

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