Category Archives: Festival

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.

A day for Books

Today is World Book Day, a day to celebrate books and the love for reading. I was always fond of reading so the presence of this day simply means a lot to me. Whenever I go to a new city, the first thing I look for is the library. I still remember the first book exhibition held in office. It was my first year of job. I was still learning to live in a new city with room mates. Books were my best friends. Smartphones had not yet entered the markets then. I went around the books and the first thing that caught my attention was a Pocket Dictionary or a Mini Dictionary. My eighth grade English teacher used to say “If possible, always keep a Pocket Dictionary with yourself”. Like an obedient student I bought the dictionary.

This Dictionary was a huge help everytime I came accross a new word. During the same time one of my room mates was preparing for open tests for Management studies. One day she was confused about a word while solving the english questions. I had pulled out the dictionary, found the meaning and helped her solve the question. I could see the appreciation in her eyes when I completed. I told her once you find a meaning using a dictionary, you will always remember it. From then onwards, she too used to follow the same method. A few weeks later there was a long weekend, all of had planned to go home. Before leaving, she too bought the same Dictionary. Books allow one to inspire others. I still love the fragrance of fresh binding. There is a book for each mood, whether sad or happy, bored or relaxed, fiction or non-fiction, etc. Whenever I find a person liking a book that I like, I immediately am able to connect to him or her. People say with the advent of various gadgets, the habit of reading may get impacted but I feel the excitement of having an interesting book will always remain the same. I would like to keep this day to set up a checklist for reading for the entire year. That would help us in continuing this hobby. How do you think one should celebrate the World Book Day?

Small but Unavoidable

Few years ago I had attended a cousin’s wedding. The dressing room was crowded because the bride was being dressed up there. So I and a few other cousin’s decided to explore the wedding hall primarily the menu. We were just going to begin with the starters when one of the aunts called us to the dressing room. She seemed very tensed. There was mayhem in the dressing room. The moment we reached, the bride’s mother instructed us to start looking for a blue colored box. We were expected to get to the task immediately. I thought one of the expensive jewellery was lost. Suddenly a small girl shouted “Found it”. The box was handed to the beautician. I asked her what is there in the box. She said safety pins. It seems the bride’s dress was so heavy that additional safety pins were needed to tuck it. Since so many valuable things were there to be taken care of, no one bothered about safety pins. It turns out that was the most important thing since it was impossible for the bride to stand for so many hours without being tucked.

It is not just in wedding. Once I was standing in line at the airport, suddenly I heard “Madam do you have a safety pin in your purse. I need it to restart my cellphone”. The person behind me said “Its for you”. I looked around, there were 20 guys behind and 20 ahead of me. No matter where you are, you may be requested for a safety pin. It might be small in terms of cost or size but its use is unavoidable. Today, 10th April is International Safety pin day. It just reminds me, one should not be judged by their appearence but by their abilities. Next time you go out, please ensure you have a safety in your purse, since it is small but Unavoidable.

April-2021 The Month of New Years

First quarter of the year has passed. There are a number of New Years in April in India. They are based on the Hindu Calendar. We visit each other, offer respect to elders by touching their feet and wish everyone. Its the time to eat home made sweets and wear new clothes. There are special songs dedicated to these days. In some places fairs are held on these days.

The schools close by mid April for summer vacation so these new years also mark the beginning of holidays. It is the time to grow beyond studies and be carefree for kids. As children of a cosmopolitan city, it used to be a month long celebration for us since everyday one or the other person had New Year. Personally I feel these traditional New Years give us an opportunity to rekindle our lives. It is common to lose motivation on the resolutions of 1st January. One can take this time to assess ones progress and motivation, if needed, can also modify the resolution. They give us an opportunity to assess the first quarter of the year and decide whether we want to spend the rest of the year in the same way or make changes. As the covid counts are rising again, it is time to assess our activities and be careful again, so that we can control the counts and beat the pandemic. Wishing everyone a very Happy, Safe and Prosperous New Year.

Enjoying with Colors

The festival of Holi happens when the season is about to change from Winter to Summer. There are warm days and cold nights. Many people fall sick. During my school days the final exam for an academic session used to happen in April. The month of march used to be full of internal assessment where our notebooks, workbooks and assignment books were checked. Falling sick had to be avoided because one may miss out on internal assessment.

On the day of Holi we used to prepare our bags with colors and pichkari. Pichkari is like a spray bottle. We would fill colored water in it and spray it on others. We would be given strict instructions to avoid water while leaving the house. Within 5 minutes of stepping out of the house, we would be colored and wet. In those days, cell phones were not common with kids so after 2 to 3 hours, it would be time for lunch. We would be so colored that it would be impossible to identify us. Calling up the neighbors to find out if we are near their house would not work. So our parents would come out in search of us. Once they found us, we would have to go home. That day we would spent long hours in shower. The rest of the day would be spent in instructions of being extra careful since we had exposed ourselves to the risk of getting cold by playing with water. The next day all of us would have colored faces. For a change, our school prefixes would be lenient in their checking. The amount of color on the face would show how actively one celebrated the festival. Although the festival of Holi would come right before the final exams, it would give us a colorful break from studies. I do pray those days come back again and we are able to meet everyone without the fear of getting sick. Wishing everyone a very Happy, Safe and Healthy Holi.

Celebrating Earth hour

Today, 27th March 2021 is the Earth Hour 2021. It is a world wide movement organized by World Wide Fund for Nature on the last Saturday of March. It is held every year by switching of non-essential electric lights for one hour between 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm. We used to spend this time singing songs or reciting poems. We are so habituated of electric equipment that we cannot think of life without it. Pollution is increasing every day. Conserving forests and wild life has become a necessity. This day is meant to remind us of our responsibility towards our planet.

During lockdown many people spent their time on digital media. We all are aware of the side effects of looking at a screen for long hours. At the same time, there were many who came up with creative activities. People realized gardening is actually fun. They created beautiful vegetable gardens in their compounds and even on their balconies in flats. As one starts studying plants, seeds and manure, one realizes there is so much to do. One can use everything from broken mugs to jars to old boxes. I often used to wonder if every community had a green balcony competition or a green compound competition, where the greenery in each house or apartment would be judged. The one with the most healthy plants would be declared a winner. Every apartment would look so beautiful. How would it be if every kid’s school project included nurturing a plant for an academic year. This would help the child to learn so much. I think if all of us do our bit in increasing greenery and reducing carbon footprint, the world would be a better place to stay. Let us try to make this Earth a better place on this Earth hour.

Celebrating simplicity

Today is Maha Shivratri, a festival dedicated to God Shiva. He is also known as Mahadev, the great God. It is also the day when God Shiva got married to Goddess Parvati. It is celebrated at home in my family. We get up early, clean the house, take bath and offer prayers to God Shiva. We offer fruits and kheer (sweet made of rice and milk). During my school days, the kitchen used to be full of the aroma of kheer. We used to help in getting the flowers and bilva leaves. In some places, the ceremonies are performed whole night. People fast and meditate. There are devotional songs meant only for Maha Shivratri.

We are brought up on tales on Mahadev. He occupies a special place in our hearts and lives. I have always been an ardent admirer of his simplicity. There are numerous cases where those benefited from him, have been ungrateful to him but that has never impacted his giving nature. He stays in Himalayas. Maybe that is why I love being in the mountains. The word meditation brings forth an image of him deep in meditation. With the rise in lifestyle diseases, I think we should take lessons from his life. Choose comfortable clothing over expensive clothing. Lead a physically active life. The more we can build immunity the better. A year of Pandemic has helped many of us to incorporate good habits and lead a simple life. On this Maha Shivratri, I do pray that the tough times get over. Best wishes of Maha Shivratri to everyone.

A Day for Science

Today (28th February) is National Science Day in India. This is celebrated to mark the discovery of Raman effect by Sir C.V.Raman. Schools conduct science exhibition on this day. It started in our school when we were in 9th grade. We were supposed to bring projects for the exhibition. We started looking for project ideas in everything from boiling milk to vehicle wheels. When this happened, the books on science projects in school library were all issued. In those days internet was not there in every house. So the next option was requesting our friends in other schools. It seems they too were facing the same situation since their school too had science exhibition. We used to discuss about project ideas from the doctors and engineers of our neighborhood. It used to be fun gathering all the information and making the project. Finally the day before the exhibition we would arrange the tables in the hall and other rooms to be used. We would try to think of all the questions that might come from the guests and prepare answers for it. Our guests were the students from junior classes and teachers. It used to be a huge thing standing in front of our project in freshly ironed uniform and polished shoes. We would speak about our project as if we were in some big science conference.

This used to be a big school event in many schools till last year where parents were invited as guests. Although this means work in addition to studies for students, it is an event to look forward to. Theoretical knowledge starts appearing interesting when it is put into practice. This event enabled us to view science beyond books. We were able to put the concepts learnt into practice. Preparing the theory for presentation helps the students develop their presentation skills. Today the world is looking at science to come up with solution for the pandemic. On this National Science Day, I wish all the best to the science community to find a vaccine for Covid.

Celebration of Learning

Today is Vasant Panchami, a festival to welcome spring in India. It is celebrated on the fifth day of month of Magh in Hindu Calendar. It is either in February or last week of January. The celebrations are performed to welcome spring(Vasant). In East India, people worship Goddess Saraswati. Goddess Saraswati is called the Goddess of learning, music, knowledge and arts. We dress up in yellow, decorate the temples with yellow flowers. We put up our books and musical instruments at the house temple. With the exams scheduled for April, we pray to the Goddess to bless us with good scores. Community functions are organized where we all meet up. This is special for kids who are about to start schooling. A ceremony called “Hathe Khodi” is performed. The priest prays in the name of the kid and then helps him/her write a few alphabets with chalk on the slate.

During my school days we used to have drawing competition and poetry recitation competition making it a celebration of learning. The poetry competitions were very special. I learnt to face the stage from them. We used to be given a poem of one of the notable Bengali poets. The community hall used to be filled by members. We had to stand on stage and recite it. It used to be interesting to see different kids recite the same poem. The first poem I had recited was Lichu Chor. It describes the experience of a village lad while stealing lychee and getting caught. I was 8 years old. I could remember only 4 lines from the middle of that poem today. Funny part is these were the lines that I forgot while reciting on stage. There are music and dance performances. These events made me realize my love for performing arts. This year the celebrations were different with social distancing and mask rules in place. On this Saraswati Puja, I pray to the Goddess Saraswati the pandemic phase gets over and life returns to normalcy. Happy Vasant Panchami.

Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations 2020

Today is Ganesh Chaturthi. Lord Ganesh is the lord of new beginnings and remover of obstacles. We celebrate his arrival from Kailash. People bring idols of Lord Ganesh in their homes. The entire house is decorated. The days are celebrated with Aarti (ceremonies) and prasad (sweets) are distributed. My home towns of Vadodara and Pune used to come alive with beautiful decorations of community ceremonies. Here the idols will be large and a pandal(temporary stage) would be set up. These festivals gave us an opportunity to meet our neighbors. Many people prepared the sweets for Aarti at home. We also have dance and music performances within the community.

The community festivals are for 11 days. There are many memories associated with this festival. My father would take my sister and me for a visit to all the Pandals in our area. My mother’s colleague used to send her home made sweets for us. If I came up with any resolution after June, I would wait till Ganesh Chaturthi and begin from this day. Praying to Lord Ganesh before starting anything is a part of life. I share my love for modak(sweets) with Lord Ganesh. The sweet shops would make different kinds of modak and put up for display. I used to visit all the sweet shops near temple and get the most unique modak. This year the community festivals are being conducted at a smaller scale because of the pandemic. This has not stopped the devotees but has increased their creativity. People have come up with different ideas of creating their own idols. Many of us have learnt to perform the ceremony ourselves and prepare modak as well. Let us come together and pray a vaccine is found soon, the sick are cured and we are all able to overcome this difficult phase. Happy Ganesh Chaturthi.