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“When are you going to build me a Taj Mahal? Learn a thing or two from the great Shah Jahan,” my mother would declare when my father would annoy or tease her.
Growing up, I’ve probably heard this phrase more than a hundred times. Hearing my mother, aunts or older cousins say this phrase back in the day held little to no importance in my mind. I remember laughing and going with the flow of the joke.
Now that I am older, I can finally say I know what the fuss was all about. The Mughal Emperor “Shah Jahan” (Shaa–Ja-haa-n) built an infamous monument called “Taj Mahal” in loving memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal.
In the Indian culture, these two lovers are like the Shakespearean lovers “Romeo and Juliet.” Shah Jahan’s insane and passionate love for his wife, Mumtaz, is a comparable example every Indian man has to hear.
Taj Mahal took form around 1632, but because of the labor required to make such an outstanding beauty, it was completed around 1653. Taj Mahal stands in Agra, India.
Back in 1997, I remember sitting on my father’s lap while we were watching an Indian channel on the small television we owned.
On the TV, there came an elegant, grand and pure white mansion that had a clear blue, water surrounding. In that water was the perfect reflection of the mansion. Being only five at the time, I looked in wonder when my father interrupted my thoughts and told me “that is the infamous Taj Mahal.”
He, then, began to tell me the many myths that aroused after the mansion was built. Because Shah Jahan loved his wife with such a craze, it is believed that he cut off the hands of each of the 20,000 builders and poked their eyes out so that they can never build nor see such a beauty. Of course, this is such an exaggerated myth, but it is what almost every Indian will tell you with such confidence.
Back to the old joke regarding my father and mother, Papa would respond jokingly “but you are not my third wife.”
My brothers and I would laugh at his old joke, reminiscing how my mother would be serious as to wanting her own Taj Mahal.
These are the wonderful memories I remember that pertained to Taj Mahal.
Year after year, when tourists visit India, they stop to admire the beauty of Taj Mahal. They want to know what people are chattering about that makes Taj Mahal so special.
To learn more about Taj Mahal, Click here .
*Updated December 4 , 2013