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Deccan Herald » State » Detailed Story
Goodbye to old traditions in ‘cultural capital’
Mysore, UNI:
It is not just unde nashya, made from finely powdered tobacco leaves and fresh butter or ghee, that has been virtually snuffed out in Mysore; various other symbols of heritage of this city of palaces and leisure are facing extinction.

With this cultural capital becoming a favourite travel and investment destination, residents who had been steadfastly following the traditions handed down by generations, are feeling the impact of sudden and rapid growth.

The famous Shah Pasand 'Mysore Tongas', the exquisite Mysore Unde Nashya (snuff) and traditional wrestling are now more talked about nostalgically rather than used or practiced.

Mysore tonga can hardly be seen on the roads. Mysore, once home to over 1,000 such tongas, has less than 100 in good condition today. Tongas, known for their exclusive design, was popularised by the former ruler Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar. Aged tonga owners rely on tourists, especially foreigners, to eke out a livelihood. Many tongas have been converted into goods transport vehicles and tonga stands have transformed into bus and auto stands.

Another tradition of Mysore that had taken a beating with the changing lifestyles is the Mysore Unde Nashya, with expert Nashya makers having almost disappeared from the scene. The snuff once enjoyed immense popularity among the rich, intellectuals and writers, and was popularly referred to as 'Jnana Choorna'.

People from far and wide were addicted to the snuff. Only a few individuals still come in search of their favourite stimulant, which once competed with the readymade snuff from the then Madras Presidency.

A third generation snuff trader H B Mallesh of H M Basappa and Sons said, with the arrival of Gutka and cigarettes, the business had been virtually snuffed out.

The city, which once boasted of more than 40 manufacturers, now has only seven shops left.

Likewise, the arrival of modern gyms and health clubs has weaned the younger generation away from the traditional 'Garadi Mane' (traditional gymnasium), once teeming with enthusiastic wrestlers who practiced 'Naada Kusti'.

Patronised by the Mysore royal family and encouraged by the public since the early 17th century, Naada Kusti was popular among those from the lower middle classes and rural areas.

Only a few gardis remain of the 70 that prospered in the City earlier.

Membership to these traditional gymnasiums has declined and those functioning are struggling to keep themselves afloat due to public and Government apathy.
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