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Jahangir2

Cupbearer! Brighten my cup with the light of wine; Sing, minstrel, for the world has ordered itself as I desire.              – Hafiz

HAVING WAITED IN THE WINGS long enough, he’s had plenty time to chalk out a wish list. For starters, he will no longer be known as Salim. He will be Jahangir, Seizer of the World. 

Like his father, he is keen to be seen as just. A few months earlier, he had re-erected an Ashokan Pillar at Akbar’s Allahabad Fort. Here Mughal inscriptions and the lineage share space with Ashoka’s edicts. Now as  Padshah, he grants a general pardon of prisoners. But his very first order relates to a ‘chain of justice’. Fitted with bells, this chain of gold will extend from the top of the royal tower at Agra to a point on the banks of the Yamuna. Anyone with a long-standing grievance may pull this chain for speedy redressal.

Out in full force. Image: From 17th C painting in the Jahangir-nama depicting celebrations,

He rolls a dozen special regulations mostly angled at a public goodwill. These include the creation of towns, hospitals and serais. The imprint of Akbar is especially clear in his announcement banning the slaughter of animals on certain days of the week and other periods, such as the month of his birth. The more curious of his regulations is the ban on the production and consumption of alcohol. This is unusual because his own appreciation of wine is well known and earlier, even a cause for concern. However this move stems from his own battle with dependance and his concern that it should not plague his people.

The ban is fluid however, and some occasions will call for it to be set aside. So in the capital city’s first celebration of Navroz under Jahangir, there is a free flow of drinks and exhilaraion. The city is festooned with brightly coloured fabrics and dancing lulis and charmers keep up the mood over many days.

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