This Kutch City Has Been Celebrating Charlie Chaplin Since 1973

Locals take to the streets in bowler hats and canes thanks to a jovial doctor. | By Misha Ghose  
A little boy strikes a pose, inspired by the master. Photo: Misha Ghose
A little boy strikes a pose, inspired by the master. Photo: Misha Ghose

Adipur is an ordinary city with an unusual obsession: Charlie Chaplin. Every year, the city in Kutch, Gujarat comes together to celebrate the legendary cinematic pioneer’s birthday on April 16. The streets overflow with young and old people dressed as the comic, complete with bowler hat, suit, cane and his bow-legged gait. Camels carry life-sized cut-outs of Chaplin, music blares from loudspeakers, and cakes are cut in honour of the silent film comedian.

The procession is led by Ashok Aswani, a doctor who believes that laughter is the best medicine. Aswani, who started the Charlie Circle club in 1973, He hands out DVDs of Charlie Chaplin’s films to his patients along with their prescription. At his shrine at home, a statue of Chaplin sits beside religious idols. Aswani also runs a class throughout the year where he teaches the kids of Adipur how to mime and walk like Charlie Chaplin.

Photo: Misha Ghose

A Chaplin figurine occupies prime position at Ashok Aswani’s altar in his home in Adipur (left), Dozens of mini Chaplins fill Adipur’s streets to celebrate the comedic legend’s birthday every year (right). Photo: Misha Ghose

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