The Day Mumbiram Danced for Pangya

Mumbiram’s friendship with the Phasepardhis had many aspects one more fascinating than the other. He had known them ever since he was a child. Mumbiram’s father, Advocate Ramdas Paranjpe, was the first lawyer in Pune to defend men and women from the Phasepardhi tribes in criminal court cases, mostly involving village midnight robberies.  Mumbiram had become good friends with Choklet Kanthya Pawar who lived in Padmavati and Ambegaon, south of Pune. Kanthya Pawar had been one of the Phasepardhi men that Advocate Ramdas Paranjpe had once defended in criminal court cases. 

This photo was made when Mumbiram was visiting Choklet’s homestead in Padmavati along with his Korean friend Dr. Hae Sung, also known as Amrisha.  

Here we are describing a wonderful incident that took place when Mumbiram was visiting Choklet and his family in Ambegaon in the foothills of the Katraj Mountain south of Pune.

This was in the summer of 1985. Mumbiram had just been commissioned to make a painting for Dr.H.K. Sancheti, the famous Orthopedic Surgeon of Pune. 

Mumbiram was to paint the “Forest Women” painting in response. Within a week after that Mumbiram cracked a bone in his left forearm. In the photo you see Mumbiram’s left forearm in a plaster that was put on by Dr.Sancheti himself.  

Most Phasepardhis had to find alternative occupations after their traditional occupation of setting traps to capture small animals and birds was banned. Choklet had gone into gathering savri tree cotton beans from villages  and extracting the fine silky fibre inside to be sold to cushion and mattress makers. The whole family would sit together to accomplish the task. Here Choklet’s wife Amrabai and daughter Sangita are negotiating piles of tree cotton that filled specially constructed rooms that had only one door and no windows. 

Choklet had three sons and three daughters. The youngest boy was named Pangya because he was lame. His legs were too weak. He could not stand on them. Choklet was very gentle with Pangya. Choklet was also good with plants. Trees that he planted were sure to prosper and grow. Here Choklet and Mumbiram are planting some trees. Pangya is sitting between them with his legs spread on the ground. 

Choklet was very gentle to Pangya
Mumbiram was attentive to Pangya

Mumbiram was a frequent visitor to Choklet’s camp which was always in the wilderness away from any other habitats. The visits were always a happy occasion for all. On this afternoon Mumbiram had a little music machine in his bag. Mumbiram turned it on and started dancing in a way it was contagious. Soon everybody, even Amrabai, was dancing. Everybody ran, even Pangya, to join the fun. 

Mumbiram would start dancing when and where you least expected
And then everybody was dancing

Mumbiram’s friendship with Choklet and his family was wonderful, even miraculous. The photos of this afternoon were made by a friend named Swati Pungaliya.