Category Archives: Festival

The Tenth day

Durga Puja at Manjalpur Vadodara

Today is Dussehra or Bijoya Dashami. It is celebrated for the victory of Goddess Durga over the demon Mahishasur. The festival is also celebrated for the homecoming of the Goddess Durga along with her kids. This day marks the end of the nine day Navratri festivities. The house is cleaned early morning and special ceremonies are performed. We begin the day by taking blessings of our elders and wishing them Shubho Bijoya. We keep home made sweets ready for guests. Durga Puja is the biggest festival of Bengalis. This year Durga Puja of Kolkata was added in the Intangible Cultural heritage by Unesco.

This year was special since the Durga Puja was celebrated with all the rituals as it used to be done before covid. We met many of our friends after 2 years. The statement “We are fine” held a deep meaning for all of us. I have mixed feelings on this day. On one side its the blessings of the elders and on the other side the end of all the fun, festivities and holidays. The idols are immersed in water on this day which means the Goddess and her children leave on this day. It is gloomy to see the empty pandals. These events indicate everything has a beginning and end be it good times or bad times. Just as the artists and sculptors start working for the festival of the new year we should also look forward to creating new things. Just as we immerse the idol, we should also let go of our ego, frustrations, failures, etc and look forward to a new day with positivity. It may sound difficult and philosophical but if implemented, can make a huge difference. Last two years have helped us realize the importance of healthy relations and good habits. I hope this Dussehra, we are able to focus on improving our lives. Happy Bijoya Dashami.

Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations

Today is Anant Chaturdashi, the last day of 10 day Ganesh Chaturthi festival. Lord Ganesh is the God of auspicious beginnings. It is celebrated at community as well as family level. One can see the preparations way before the festival. The markets are full of idols. Many organizations conduct workshops for making the idols at home with clay. People bring small idols for the ceremonies at their homes. The communities bring larger idols which are set up in pandals. We worship him by performing various ceremonies. Aarti is done in morning and evening and sweets are offered. There are fairs held at some places.

Socializing has reduced due to the pandemic. Negativity seems to be everywhere. These ceremonies bring a change to the otherwise mundane life. They give us an opportunity to meet each other. The sound of ceremonious bells and the fragrance of incense creates a positive vibe. I take this time to do a rain check on my resolutions. As the day of Anant Chaturdashi comes near, I get a feeling of sadness. The idols are immersed on this day. The sight of empty pandals reminds us that all good things must come to an end. One must be prepared for all kinds of situations. There are so many facts of life taught by the rituals of different festivals. If only we could incorporate them, life would be so much better. I wish everyone a Happy Ganesh Chaturthi. May Lord Ganesh bless everyone.

Welcome normalcy with colors

My plate of colors for this Holi

The festival of Holi was on 18th march in 2022. There are news of reducing covid counts in India which makes this festival even more special. This is also called the festival of colors. I happened to visit a nearby market a week before and found the shops full of dry colors. Also the different types of instruments to spray water are amazing. The sight of these takes me back to my school days.

We celebrate this festival by applying colors on each other. People prepare special sweets. We used to visit each house in groups and were welcomed with home made sweets during our school days. Its been a month since the schools have opened for all classes. Kids are happy to be at the school premises after attending online school for almost two years. People seemed to be so happy with return of normalcy that they have extended the celebration to two days. Since 18 th march was a holiday so students and teachers were allowed to play holi in school premises on 17th march. For a change both students and teachers became kids.

We play with colors from morning till afternoon. The mischievous ones even mix colors in water and user the water sprinkler toys to sprinkle water on others. Although most of the color is washed off but sometimes we apply so much color that it stays even after repeated scrubbing. Those left over colors show how much a person has celebrated the festival. Most of the neighbourhoods organize commmunity dinners. We too went for one. There a fifth grade boy had a colorfull chin and ear. I jokingly asked him how would he explain the colors on his face and ear to his teacher in school the next day. He very sweetly replied “Now we need not bother because both my chin and ear would be covered by mask”.

I hope the vaccines are found for all age groups and no one falls sick. May this Holi bring happiness, prosperity and health for everyone. Happy Holi to everyone.

Foodie at Festival

Goddess Saraswati

We celebrated Vasant Panchami and Saraswati Puja on 5th Feb 2022. This festival is very special for bengalis because it is also a celebration of learning as Goddess Saraswati is also called the Goddess of learning. This is the only day when we dont study but worship our books. Since learning is an integral part of my profession, so my excitement for this festival is same even today as it used to be when I was a kid.

Prasad

We get up early, take bath and dress up in yellow. We then have a small ceremony at home and then we go to the community hall where the celebration is organized at a larger scale. We used to apply leave in school for this festival as it used to be a working day. One of my fondest memories of this festival is the Prasad(offering). As part of prasad we have a meal which comprises of Khichadi, mixed veg curry, a fry and sweet. After the offering is made to the Goddess, it is served to the people. The community hall used to have a separate space for meals. We used to stand in line. It used to be fun seeing people dressed in different shades of yellow. The wait in queue had its own charm. We would discuss about everything, different kind of yellows, news, movies and ofcourse the upcoming exams. Everytime a known elder passed us, there would be one common question “Poda shona kamon cholche” (how are your studies going on). We used to answer this question a number of times on this day. Incase if you are in grade 9 or above, the question would shift to your preferred college and course. The khichadi (Rice and lentils cooked togather) used to be so hot that one could feel the steam coming out of it. Some of us would even compare the yellow of khichadi with the yellow of our dresses. We would sit with our friends and eat while the discussions would still continue.

This year the meals had to be taken home because of covid protocols. We wished each other while maintaining social distancing. I still hope, those days would come back when we would again have similar community festivals. May Goddess Saraswati bless everyone with the knowledge and health.

Bravehearts on Bikes

We celebrate the Republic Day on 26th January in India. A large parade is organized in the capital New Delhi which is telecast live in national channel. It is a ritual in my family to watch the parade. We used to have a flag hoisting ceremony in school followed by march past. It used to get over by 8:30 am in the morning. I used to rush home to catch the national parade from the start. The parade has march past and tableus of different states and government departments.

This year we celebrated the 73rd Republic Day. One of my most cherished part of the parade is where formations were done on running bikes. The precision with which people stood on bikes and saluted always awed me. I used to wonder about the countless hours one must have spent in reaching that level. This year it was also done by women. If it was only possible to know the emotional and physical effort, it would have inspired so many people. It is strange we have so many stories of hard work around us but very few of them reach us inspite of so many mediums like TV, ott, etc. I wish the series makers would have taken the stories of these ladies and shared. It would have made a huge difference. This year we also celebrated the 125th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhashchandra Bose who happens to be my favorite national leader. This made the Republic Day more special for me. I think these national days play an important role in reminding us about the fruits of hard work. Wishing everyone a Happy Republic Day.

Thoughts on Youth Day

Today is 12th January, Swami Vivekananda’s birthday. This day is celebrated as National Youth Day in India in his honor. We have always had his photo in our house. Stories about events of his life were told to inspire us. He was my first role model of public speaking. His participation in the World Parliament of Religions inspired me for Chicago trip which is there in one of my blogs (https://sanchitahobby.wordpress.com/2019/09/15/promise-at-9/).

Swami Vivekananda always followed his heart. There were obstacles in his path but he did not give up and eventually created history. People often associate youth with age but i think it is more with ones thinking. The day one decides to follow his or her dream, with determination to work hard and without bothering about the comments, that day the youth in that person stands out. One must not ignore their wishes regardless of their biological age. There are cases where people have started trekking in their 40s and conquered mountains, cancer survivors have run marathons, etc. The moment a wish takes birth in your heart, you should believe all the resources to fulfill it will appear. All one needs to do is put a little effort in finding them or reskilling for that wish. There is no goal that cannot be achieved with hard work.

One of the major problems most of us have is procrastination. If we can conquer that and work hard diligently then we can be anything we wish to. Swami Vivekananda will continue to be an inspiration for generations to come. He has given many inspiring quotes. My favorite quote among those is “Arise, awake and stop not till the goal is reached. On this National Youth Day, I hope everyone takes inspiration from Swami Vivekananda and works to create a better version of themselves. Happy National Youth Day.

Time to Mend

Today is 1st January 2022, the first day of the year. Resolutions seems to be most trending topic. My mother handed me a few clothes which needed little mending with the lovely instruction of “You can use these clothes with a little mending”. This reminded me, its not just clothes but a lot of things that need to be mended. Mend the lifestyle, mend old habits, mend relations, etc.

Our wishes are like new outfits when they are just brought, all perfect. We all wish the outfit always remains the same but forget the efforts needed to do so. One needs to clean them, starch them, iron them, mend them when needed. Often the effort to mend seems so large that we put aside the outfit even if it is just 5 minutes of work. One fine day when we look at it, we just react it just needs 5 minutes of stitching. Similarly, our wish also requires efforts. I think instead of adding new goals its time to look back at the old ones and work on them. Dreams in any area of life be it work, hobby or physical fitness requires hardwork. Just as shown in the image, no matter how different the color of the thread be, one only needs a needle to stitch using them. Similarly no matter how many goals you have, the only way to achieve them is through hardwork and persistence. This new year has come with new variants and new restrictions, the best way to stay fine both physically and mentally is to work on oneself. I wish everyone A very Happy New Year, stay healthy stay safe.

Preparing for Diwali

Diwali Diyas

Today is Diwali and Kali Pujo. I always look forward to this time of the year. Its a holiday all over India. We used to have a mini vacation of 3 weeks during our school days. Preparations start way before the festival. Bedsheets, cushion covers, curtains, etc to be put up on this day are pulled out, cleaned and ironed. The entire house is cleaned and sometimes renovated. All these activities bring a lot of excitement for the kids as there are new things to do everyday. I used to enjoy setting up the diyas or lamps on the Diwali evening. The chief attraction was the crackers. We would go with our father and get the crackers.

These days I see a lot of hue and cry over pollution due to crackers. This year it is so much in news that sometimes it makes me feel guilty of using crackers as if our crackers are the only reason for pollution. At the same time a thought comes to my mind that Diwali is only for a few days in a year but the pollution increases the entire year. Just as we prepare our houses for the festival, can we not reduce the pollution the entire year. If we reduce the use of vehicles and rely more on walking or cycling for small distances, we would not only cut down on pollution but also improve our health. Even for work, if people opt for carpool or public transport, traffic may be reduced. Additionally people can also plant more trees. These habits would not only create better environment but also better health.

Today evening when I went out to light the diyas, it was dark. As soon as the diyas were lighted, the darkness was removed. The world has faced a lot of loss and sadness in the last 2 years. Diwali reminds us that we can come out of the darkness of dispair through the light of knowledge and persistence. This has been proved by the development of Vaccines. Let us not take away the enjoyment of festivals but use it as an opportunity to create a better life. May this Diwali bring happiness and joy in all your lives. Happy Diwali to everyone.

Wait for Shiuli

Durga Puja is a special time for a Bengali. We start planning weeks before the festival. My father had planted a shiuli(night jasmine) flower tree in our house. This flower blossoms during Pujo. It has amazing fragrance which reminds one of festivals. There are songs and poems dedicated to this flower.

This year I was at home after a long time. Everyday from the month of July, the first thing I did after getting up is to go and see the tree. There were no flowers even though the tree was watered regularly. I used to ask my mother if the tree needs any manure. My mother’s response was “Patience, the season is yet to come”. This continued till September. I was excited the day I saw the first few flowers. It meant Pujo is coming. I ran indoors and informed, shiuli flowers have come. This just reminds me, everything has a specific time whether its studies, opportunities or vaccine. One needs to be patient and things will happen. We have a tendency of rushing towards things inspite of being aware of haste causing failures. Often in this process we ignore many things. The seasonal flowers remind us to wait for the right time.

The years 2020 and 2021 taught us the important lesson of being patient. Life is precious. We need to spend time with our near and dear ones instead of running behind worldly things. The shiuli flowers only blossom during season. Let us sit back and enjoy the moment.

International Labour Day Celebrations

Today, the First of May is International Labour Day. It is a day for celebration of labourers and working classes. Here is a story from the time when I started working. I was given a posting in Mumbai. Life in a big city teaches one a lot of things. I used to stay in a rented apartment with few of my colleagues. We used to get monthly salary. There were many freshers like us in that building.

There used to be an ATM and a few shops in the first floor of our building. They knew us within a few weeks. In the first few months, the arrival of salary used to be a big event. We would look forward to the first of the month. We hadn’t yet connected our cell numbers to our bank accounts. We would plan to check our accounts at the ATM while leaving for office but there was always a queue outside the ATM. While returning home, one of us would check her account in the ATM. She would come out with a big smile and announce “Salary has come”. This was a sight to see as everyone including the shopkeepers of the shops near the ATM and the security guard used to smile with us. This had happened once or twice. After that we all were placed in different projects which made it difficult for us to return home together. Still we used to get the news of salary arrival. It was from the security guard or the shop keeper. Your friend announced “Salary has come”. Our profession gives us an identity along with the freedom to make our choices. Everyday, the completion of work gives us a feeling of satisfaction. Our work motivates us to learn more to enhance our skills. I wish everyone Happy International Labour Day.