Happy Deepavali!

A Festival of Lights – well more of noise & smoke and diets going for a toss!

IMG_0658.JPG
A enjoyed his Deepavali. I tried to get him to say no to crackers & failed miserably – it was mixed emotions felt wonderful to see the joy on his face and horrible at not being able to convince the kid to be pollution free.
I felt sorry for my neighbour’s dog who was going ballistic.
For my part, I cooked yummy snacks. Our forefathers were good at planning. Make all this…while it rains outside, eat with tea/ coffee. Maybe they could have foreseen a bit more and went lax on the crackers?!
At least it is good to keep the mosquitoes & other insects away ( may be that was their thinking and we in our generation go overboard?! )

time lapse video of A and a flowerpot
Also puts us into perspective that all things come with pluses & minuses. It is definitely a festival that brings all together!

Those who like fireworks , those who don’t. Those who love food, those who don’t. Those who watch all those special programmes on TV channels ( read new movies), those who don’t – well you get the picture πŸ™‚
Happy Deepavali all!!
PS: update on day 43 of 100 happy days (next post may be on that?? πŸ™‚ )

Navarathri

This is my third post of the same title!! πŸ™‚ Trivia…

This made me look at what I had written earlier & when… 2007 & 2008. 2007 I have written about going back & following the tradition (don’t know if I have to laugh or cry at reading this!). 2008 just a wikipedia like note with pics taken from kolu at home. Then 2 years missing & this now!! πŸ™‚

Got no new dolls this year…yet. Think I got a proper Bengali Durga doll the last 2 years when I had not posted. Mum tells me that I had asked for a similar doll better looking one ages ago – but was expensive & we could not afford it then. I like this doll too.

Every year, as we keep the dolls on the steps, we reminisce about how we got the doll. Other conversation invariably revolves around how the quality of the dolls are not up to the mark. I can actually see that here… the dolls we have inherited from my great grandparents look so good even after all these years, but those we got recently are broken, faded. It feels like the artisans of yore actually took pleasure doing the dolls while the newer ones are more of a commercial venture?! Or is it just my random thought?

This year, one small doll is missing (we are in the process of finding out where she is gone…) It is Ganga in the Bhaghirath story of bringing her on to earth! Aside we are laughing at how even he cannot do that now if he tried & may be it is symbolical that Ganga is missing πŸ™‚ The weird conversations we have at home!!!! It is coincidental that in the 2008 post, one of the pictures is of the same set!!! So, we have her at least on that πŸ™‚

I noticed some broken dolls. Was wondering if we discard them… and lo behold Mum & I had a debate ( been a while since we even spoke to each other – we used to have so many of these nice debates – not fights/arguments…but debates πŸ™‚ ) She quoted “maha periyaval” saying He said that something to the tune of do we throw away old people if their limbs are broken or don’t function. My view was…hey these are dolls, we need to recycle. If they are broken, replace them…gives a boost to the artists when you buy, keeps commerce going. This got the response – well look at the dolls these days! πŸ™‚ Guess what in the end, I did succumb and decided to mend the mendable old dolls with quickfix cos they still look good. Even the paint of the old dolls look good!! What did they do – use vegetable paint I suppose?!

Anyways it was one “ok” day. With some work done, debates (& some arguments) – the kolu is up…hope to improve on it the next few days , may be go against my parents get a new doll or 2 or 3 …(and of course find Ganga πŸ˜‰ ). Must start calling friends and asking them to come over for the “vethalapaaku” . I keep saying I don’t believe in God & I do all this just cos this has been done all these years. I don’t want to influence my son with my views! He has to form his own ones… lets see!!

Happy Navarathri to one and all!

Pongal day

Yesterday was Pongal/ Sankranti or Lohri depending on which part of India you hail from.Β  So woke up pretty early (by A’s & my standards that is πŸ™‚ ), took part in the festivities at home; had a sumptuous lunch. I should add that I did my work out too (kinda proud about that! so, patting my own back πŸ˜‰ )

Then started the whirlwind wondrous evening. Co-ordinating the arrival of bloggers to meet at Kafeoke. The place was suggested by Praddy who blogs here. Full credit to him to have suggested the place (Praddy…is that enough credit? ) We all sung our lungs out. The place is closing down as of February 1st. We plan to hit the place again before that. Crossing fingers. For those curious we sang Alice, Summer of 69, Wake me up before you go go. The hits though were the following :

Kasumela from Kadhala Kadhala

&

Viduthalai from Iruvar

Thanks to G …Mr.Bedazzled πŸ™‚ for the suggestion to sing a ghana type song.

The motley crew then headed to Aparna’s place who blogs here . Her mom had an awesome spread waiting for us in her beautiful home. All of us there were floored by the company, the home & the food. Aunty was wonderful teaching us to make akki roti. Guess what a bunch we were, we even ate the burnt one πŸ™‚
The menu was a wonderful special juice, salad, gojju, phulka, puliyodhare, hunse saaru, beans, curd rice, home made picke & mor milagai with carrot halwa. Served on a palm leaf plate, we wiped all the dishes clean!
A loved the whole outing right from the beginning to the end! He of course was spoilt rotten, blowing bubbles, balloons for him, a special gift from aunty for him (Thanks aunty!) He was so tired that he went right to sleep on the drive back and woke up late this morning!!!

So, now do I have all those who did not join us green with envy?! Good!!Β  Vimmuuu, Arvind & MN you guys missed out an awesome evening ( I am really running out of adjectives to describe the evening now! )

An evening of singing, laughing, making new friends, hogging! Hoping for more of these!! πŸ™‚ Well, I am glad I did my workout though I think the hogging cancelled out everything and pulled me back…but what the heck, right? πŸ˜€ Carpe Diem πŸ™‚

Too many smileys post! πŸ™‚

Navarathri

Navarathri(9 nights) or Dusshera is celebrated in various ways in different parts of India. Had read Reema’s entry on Durga Pujo. Decided to write this on how it is in South India, especially Tamil Nadu.

This Hindu festival is celebrated in Purattasi month (tamil lunar monthΒ  around Sep -October) starting from the Mahalaya Amavaasai (no moon day) for 10 days(Dusshera). During these 10 days Goddess Durga (Ichcha Shakti) , Goddess Lakshmi (Kriya Shakti) and Goddess Saraswathi(Gnana Shakthi) serve as the main deities and are allocated 3 days each.Β  The first 3 days are specific to Goddess Parvathy. The next 3 for Goddess Lakshmi. The last 3 for Goddess Saraswathi. The 9th day is “Saraswathi Puja or Ayudha Puja” when everyone gives their tools of the trade — pens, machinery, books, automobiles, school work, etc. a rest and ritually worships them. On the 10th day, all of these 3 deities are worshipped together to culminate the puja. The 10th day is “Vijayadashami” ; an auspicious day to start any new endeavour, the day when gurus are paid homage by all the students.

Why do we celebrate this? In the south, it is to acknowledge the victory of good over evil by the killing of the “asura” Mahishi by the Goddess Chandika (who then on was called Mahishasuramardhini). Goddess Chandika is an embodiment of the 3 Shaktis.

In Tamil Nadu, we celebrate the festival by arranging dolls on steps, inviting friends and family. Traditionally, the women and girls invited are given the “tamboolam” that consists of betel leaves, turmeric, betel nut, the day’s offering to the Goddess (usually a “sundal”), fruits, coconut. Off late, a small gift is also added. This festival enables the mingling of friends, neighbours. This is a social festival. The women and girls invited are asked to exhibit their talent in singing or even dancing. The arrangement of the dolls on the steps allows the exhibition of the artistic aptitude. Even if one just arranges all the dolls on the steps, it encourages the artisans who make the dolls which could be of any material – Clay, papier mache, wood, wax, plastic, paper….Obviously, it also includes dress up. Small girls even dress up specially (I remember being in the traditional madisars, wore mundu, and just experimented….rather I guess my mom had fun with me not really complaining up to an age πŸ˜‰ ). There are households these days which base the arrangement on themes. A friend of mine has alien invasion, another has handmade dolls by her 80 + year old grandma portraying Ramayana & Krishna katha. Global warming, pollution, current affairs also find their place. There are competitions in neighbour hoods under different categories.

The number of steps are supposed to be odd in number (3,5,7…). One adds a “park” alongside where in the kids pitch in with their imagination. On the religious side, apart from the two major pujas mentioned above, a fast or vratham is followed with a diet of no onion/garlic; those who take meat avoid it. Daily pujas are done with emphasis to the Goddess – slokas like the Lalitha Sahasranamam, Soundarya Lahiri are read. Daily offering is made in the form of “sundal”. Lamp is lit by the “kolu” (the steps arrangement).

Below are a few pics of the kolu we have at my place this year. It is a smaller version; thanks to space constraints. Supposedly, A and his space take precedence…so the kolu has shrunk πŸ™‚ I posted the pics just to give an idea of how the kolu looks like in most houses. This year, we just placed the dolls on the steps, no themes or anything…more keen on taking care that A does not break the dolls that have come down generations even πŸ˜€ Though, credit to my dear son, he is a gem…he loved placing them oh so tenderly on the steps.

Ooh…I forgot…placing of the kolu…usually, people place the kalasam first. The Kalasam is usually a pot made of silver filled with either water or rice. Some put a set of tamboolam inside. And end up putting mango leaves around the rim with a coconut on top. We at my place for some personal reasons, don’t do the traditional kalasam but place a doll replica. Then Lord Ganesha’s idol is placed. Followed by “marapachi” dolls. These dolls can be decorated (or buy those that already are πŸ˜‰ ) A and I have that as our next project – decoration of the marapachi pair :D. Then the rest of the dolls are placed. Usually, most houses would have the dasavatharam, chettiar-chettichi selling their produce, dolls depicting a traditional wedding, along with dolls of other deities like the 3 Shaktis, Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, Lord Muruga. We get various sets to depict the various mythological stories (My mother reminisces how her grandma used to actually position or make various dolls to depict these stories…whereas we all have it so easy; yet we crib about doing the kolu thing!!)

You can click on the picture for larger/album view.




Edit: Vishesh – This is this year’s park πŸ™‚

part of As train set & other toys thrown in.
part of A's train set & other toys thrown in.