Spirit of Punjab in Victoria

Last weekend we decided to go to Grampians – a mountain range in Victoria. It’s a very popular holiday place about 4 hours from Melbourne. There are lots of hiking treks, waterfalls, and even some places with aboriginal paintings. During this short trip we wanted to do rock climbing, visit waterfalls and hike to the highest point The Pinnacles.

On the first morning, I went for a brief walk and found something interesting in 300 metres from our accommodation.

 

There is a very high possibility of finding an Indian restaurant anywhere in Australia. For example, in Melbourne there is hardly a shopping centre – no matter how small it is – without an Indian joint. But in Halls Gap? I was pleasantly surprised as our dinner problem was suddenly solved.

 

What surprised me the most was the presentation of this place. Life-size figures of people involved in everyday chores were placed in the front yard and on the sides of the restaurant.

 

All of them were dressed in bright traditional clothes and looked very realistic. This woman below is using  the spinning wheel to make yarn.

 

Two men in festive  outfits are having a good time. The traditional Punjabi dance is called Bhangra. This is a seasonal dance, which is practiced when the harvest is reaped. Only men can perform this dance. Those head decorations are only worn for special events. In normal life they would just wear a very colourful turban.

 

 

This man is something like an accountant called Munim Ji. In the past there were not many banks available in countryside of Punjab. Farmers would borrow money from rich merchants, who use munims to do the paperwork. Accountant would normally keep farmers land or gold as security for borrowed money.

 

 

This couple is Indian metal artists called Banjare. They travel from village to village and make tools for farmers. They would swap their tools for wheat or vegetables. I am a bit surprised that this woman does the hard work, while a man just helps her. I thought it should be other way around.

 

 

Indian racing bulls are very precious possession for farmers. They love them like their children and feed them chick pea, wheat, ghee and milk.

 

I heard that in a small Punjabi village near Ludhiana  there is a huge annual festival known as the Rural Olympics.  One of the main events is bullcart races. Below is a typical set up for the competition. Winning this race is the most prestigious thing for the owner and the whole village.

 

Cow milk isn’t very popular in Punjab, people prefer buffalo milk. Apparently it’s yellow, sweeter and thicker. They use it for making white butter (very tasty), paneer and traditional sweets. It’s very common that men milk cows or buffaloes, not women. I saw it for the first time in Gujarat, but it happens everywhere in India.

 

Sikh religion originated  in Punjab. Punjabi men are warriors. They protect their land and fight for freedom. The middle name for every man is Singh, which means lion. And every woman has a middle name Kaur, which translates like Princess. I like that a lot.

 

 

This is a Sardar (warrior) in traditional attire. Punjabi men consider serving in the Indian Army as a great honour.  I saw them all over India, not only in Punjab.

 

 

We decided to get take-away that night. Two curries (lamb and mushroom) and two naans cost $36. It’s a bit expensive. But the food was good.

 

This is a proper restaurant with lots of tables, spacious and well decorated inside. There are not many Indian restaurants with white tablecloths around as majority are simple places called dhaba.

 

 

A good selection of vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals as well as desserts. I love Indian ice cream kulfi. This place had two varieties, so in my books it’s a good restaurant.

 

I was pretty happy with food and presentation of Spirit of Punjab, so I recommend trying this place.

N A M A S T E !

 

 

Music: .https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0IgCyynuww

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