Tag Archives: festival

Magical Light up Night

On a lethargic morning last week I was browsing through Facebook, when a notification popped up. It said about a light up night in Pittsburgh downtown on 17th November’2017. On further inquiry I found it was a tradition. So me and three of my colleagues decided to visit downtown on that day. First we had planned to come home after work and then start but one of us suggested, that would result into further delays due to co-ordination. So we started from office right after work at 6:00 pm. The first route we took had a traffic jam so we took a detour. Once we reached downtown, we felt like we are on a festival night. The streets were decorated with lights and people were happily roaming around. The next challenge was to find a parking space. Luckily we found one after searching for a small time.

We walked till Market Square, there we were greeted by a European market. There were shops for Christmas decoration articles, gifts and food. It was freezing cold but the market had a warm atmosphere. People had come with their families. Soon the Christmas Carols started. It reminded me of the fairs during festivals in my hometown. My colleague suggested having strudel which was unknown to all of us. I had a delicious apple strudel. Surprisingly we felt warm after having it. The cold winds reminded us of hot chocolates. We spotted a Starbucks but one of us came up with an idea of exploring something local so we went to Nicholas Coffee.

The Coffee shop

We were amazed at the variety of coffee seeds there. The aroma of brewing Coffee welcomed us. We had hot chocolates with whipped cream.We came out just when the Christmas tree was about to be lighted and witnessed the amazing lighting. We even met another colleague.

The lighted Christmas Tree

After the lights we went to the Duquesne Boulevard to see the fireworks. A rock concert was going on. Luckily we got a parking from where the fireworks would be visible. It was 0 degrees celcius but the wait was worth it as the sky was lit with colorful crackers. The sky appeared like a palette of glittering colors. We watched the entire show and then returned. I thank Pittsburgh for this magical evening and my colleague for taking us to this event. So the next time you are in Pittsburgh around Thanksgiving, make sure you see the Light up Night.

The Fireworks

The Colorful sky

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A unique festival

Have you ever received a notification which made you so curious that the first thing you do on the weekend is to rush downtown in spite of rains. I did, when an article on Picklesburgh was shared. This is a festival to celebrate all things pickled. My interest was increased when I read it would be conducted on the Roberto Clemente bridge in Pittsburgh. This was the most unique festival I had ever attended. The day began with rains which generally dampen my spirits for travelling. But my curiosity got the better of me and by afternoon I was on my way. As soon as I reached near the downtown, I saw huge crowd dressed in bright summer colors. The best way to find an event is to follow the crowd.

Roberto Clemente bridge with Picklesburgh

The bridge entrance

The bridge seemed to have come to life because of the festival. The excitement of the event was clearly visible on the happy faces of the kids. There were stalls of all kinds of pickles, jams, jellies, cakes and chocolates in addition to fries, sandwiches. There were pickles of cucumber, corns, beans, etc. Most of the food items had a little bit of dill be it sandwich or roll. The air on the bridge had the lovely fragrance of dill. Everyone seemed to have come with their families. Even the weather seemed to have given up to the enthusiasm and so the clouds had cleared to a bright sunny day.

On the bridge

live music

To add to this there was live music. This was a complete family event which reminded me of the fairs in my hometown in my school days. Everyone Even simple things when done differently can make wonders, this was one such wonder. These kind of events give us the much needed opportunity to enjoy quality time with our family. The crowded bridge and the still river, presented an amazing contrast to the viewer. I returned home with amazing memories. This festival will be pickled in my heart forever.

A Fair to remember

The colorful entrance to the fair

The colorful entrance to the fair

This Friday a friend of mine messaged me about a fair going on in my city. I googled about it and found its the North American Martyrs Summer Festival in Monroeville, PA. We left around 7:00 pm. This was the first time I was going to attend a fair abroad. Once we reached there the biggest challenge was to find a parking place. After parking we thought we will have to walk a lot but there was a shuttle to the fair.

Amazing rides

Amazing rides

As soon as we reached there, I was reminded of my school days. There used to be a ‘Summer Mela’ in my hometown Baroda. Visiting that fair used to be in the wish list of every child. It used to be a colorful fair with rides and delicious food stalls. This fair had all these elements. All the stalls were decorated with colorful balloons. There were rides, games and food. The aroma of fresh fries and cold ice-cream just aroused our taste buds. Everywhere kids were running, playing and shouting. To make this entire fair musical a live band played songs from 50s, 60s and 70s. I loved the rock and roll songs.

Live band in fair

Live band in fair

In this age of high tech entertainment, nothing equals the satisfaction of attending a fair. They seem to have fun for people of all age groups. The presence of family brings in security. It also allows us to spend quality time with our family. These are the opportunities when all the generations of the family come together and have a great time. By the time we returned it was late night, but we were so rejuvenated that we walked till the parking lot. Next time you visit a new place, make sure you attend the local fairs.

Food stalls

Food stalls

Vasant Panchami

Goddess Saraswati

Goddess Saraswati

Today was Vasant Panchami. It means the fifth day of spring. In eastern side of India, it is celebrated as Saraswati Puja and falls generally in the month of February. The academic session in India begins from June and ends in April. The tension of exams starts clouding from February. Goddess Saraswati is the Goddess of learning. Hence Saraswati Puja is very important for every person learning something be it studies, music, art, etc. It is a very special day for 3 year olds. They are dressed in traditional attire of dhoti or saree. The priest makes them write a few alphabets on a slate with chalk. This is called ‘Hathe Khodi’. It marks the beginning of education in a person’s life. During our school days we used to dress up in new clothes mostly yellow and go to the venue with our school books. We offered our prayers with flowers to Goddess Saraswati. Then we used to have competitions for drawing, poetry recitation, etc. The flowers used for the ceremony were often taken by the students to be kept in books. I used to make sure those flowers are placed in all my textbooks, particularly those of mathematics. I still remember once a classmate in college started teasing me when a rose was found in one of my books. But the entire joke came to an end when I said its the flower from the Saraswati puja ceremony.

Detailed view of decorations

Detailed view of decorations

This year I wanted to attend this ceremony. It was going to be organized by the Bengali association of Pittsburgh. I was glad when my friend Sahana said she too was also going there and I can join them. It was -12 degrees Celsius as we drove. All the way there was snow on both sides of the road. I was reminded of my school days as soon as we entered the hall. The goddess was decorated with bright flowers. People were dressed in their traditional best. The kids looked elegant in their cute dresses. Everything was just as I had always celebrated, the prayers, the flowers and ofcourse the food. It was the super tasty khichadi with mixed veg curry, chutney, sweet, papad and fruits. We immediately felt at home inspite of being strangers. Below is my platter:

The delicious prasad

The delicious prasad

I am very thankful to my friend Sahana for taking me there. Kudos to the Bengali association of Pittsburgh for organizing this event so far. I just hope Goddess Saraswati blesses us all with knowledge. Happy Vasant Panchami and Happy Saraswati Puja.

Shubho Mohaloya (Happy Mahalaya)

Jai Ma Durga

Jai Ma Durga

Yesterday night, before going to sleep, I told my mother to wake me up before 5:30am. It was Mohaloya, the first day of Navratri. As a school girl this used to be a yearly ritual. We used to get up early and watch the Mohaloya presentation. Every year the story of Goddess Durga destroying the evil Mahishasur was presented with songs, dance and chandipath. It used to begin at 5:30 am and get over by 7:00 am. I always felt watching the programme made a pious start of the day.

The most amazing part was the Mohaloya Chandipath recited by Birendra Krishna Bhadra. His recitation is so unique that even today the same recitation is played in all the channels. All the songs of the program made me feel that festivity is in the air. I was brought up in Gujarat in western part of India. The festival of Garba begins from Mohaloya and continues for the next 9 days. In east of India, today is the day when the sculptors paint the eyes of the Goddess Durga. The markets are flooded with traditional clothes of various designs. The beating of the dhak(traditional drums) would give a feeling of the arrival of good times when we would be with friends and family. The tension of studies would be placed aside for a while. It would seem as if festivity is in the air.

In my school days it was only national television Doordarshan. Today different channels have different representations, each leaving its own signature on the event. I would like to show this to all the people who say culture has gone for a toss. Even today, entire families get up and watch the mohaloya presentation. The demand is so much that all the channels take the initiative to create their unique presentations, thus generating opportunities for creativity. With this year’s dhak I want to wish every one a Happy Mohaloya.

The Surprise Wish

fathersday

It was 21st june’1998, Baroda, India. The third sunday of June was made famous as Father’s day. I was in school and we had just come to know that there is a Father’s day too. The Archies Galary was full of Cards with beautiful messages for fathers. My father was in Singapore. He used to call us every week particularly on Sundays.

I can still remember that Sunday. It was 6:00pm and I was completing my school work for monday when the phone rang. I raced with my sister and was first to pick up the phone. “Hello” It was Baba calling from Singapore. I was so excited that I didn’t even say hello but wished loudly “HAPPY FATHER’S DAY, BABA”. Before he could reply my sister took the phone and shouted the same. We didn’t hear any voice for the next 5 seconds and thought the call had disconnected. Mom was just about the keep the receiver when she heard a loud “Thankyou”. Then Baba said, he too had seen a lot of decoration for Father’s day in singapore and was wishing we had such an occasion in India. When we wished him he was so surprised that he was speechless. He also stated the wish had made his day.

It is strange but a small wish can make a day. Some people say that these days are just a means of making money. But I feel that in this fast paced life of today we often forget to tell our near and dear ones how much we love them. Its not just grown-up people but also students. Days like Fathers day and Mothers day make us realize how fortunate we are that we have guiding souls in the name of parents with us. In fact they are global festivals which are celebrated by everyone irrespective of their location or community. Also you don’t need to give expensive gifts to make someone feel good, even a small wish can make a difference no matter how far you are. Lets take this as an opportunity to tell our fathers how much they mean to us. This year again Father’s day is on 21st june. Today you are not there with us Baba, but still I would go ahead and wish you a very HAPPY FATHER’S DAY. Thankyou for always being with me.

Celebrating Spring

Flowers

Flowers

It was 1st march, 2015. My friend Ravi called me up and said “Do not keep any plans for 11th april 2015”. When I asked the reason, he replied “Don’t you know, its Cherry Blossom”. I looked up the internet and found its a spring celebration. Being a bengali, I have always celebrated spring in India as Basant Panchami. That day I realised Spring is celebrated here too.

Flowers with trees and no leaves

Flowers with trees and no leaves

Everyone celebrating spring

Everyone celebrating spring

On 11th april’2015, we set out for Washington, D.C. After days of rain and snow, it was a beautiful sunny day. This lifted our spirits. As soon as we entered the city, we saw people walking everywhere. I had never seen so many people on the streets. We parked the car and started walking towards the Jefferson Memorial. As we reached there we saw trees with beautiful pink and white flowers. I was amazed to see that these trees had only flowers and no leaves. The city itself looked colourful. There were food stalls on trucks with images of mouthwatering dishes. At some places the entire lane was filled with the aroma of delicacies from all over the world from kabobs to pretzels. People came with their families. As a result there were kids all around. This reminded me of Mela(fairs) in my home town Baroda. I used to go with my parents and friends. Those were the amazing days when we used to have every near and dear one around us.

Cycle Rickshaws

Cycle Rickshaws

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Another surprise was cycle rickshaws. The last time I saw them was in my school days in my native place Raiganj. They looked really beautiful with all the spring colors painted on them. They say Spring is the king of seasons. It seemed so true, as if entire world has come to welcome it with open arms. The city personified happiness and cheer with kids running around hear and there.

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