Tag Archives: india

Pujo in USA

Goddess Durga

Goddess Durga

The biggest festival that a bengali looks forward to, for the entire year, the Durga Puja 2016 is going on. It is a celebration of the victory of good over evil. This is the time when the air smells of festivity. This year I had the opportunity of visiting the Durga Puja at Pittsburgh, USA in Hindu Jain Temple. Once inside the hall, I felt as if I was in India. The rituals, the decorations, the people and of course the food, all made it a lively place to be. Durga Puja is the time when people get together and discuss on all topics ranging from sports to food. Here also it was so, the hot topic of discussion was Pittsburgh Steelers. Simply proves no matter where they are, bengalis just love sports.

The Hindu Jain Temple

The Hindu Jain Temple

It was raining yesterday night and so the weather was cold from the morning. Thankfully it didn’t rain after morning. Once I reached the temple, the serenity of the atmosphere filled me with happiness. I offered my prayers with flowers. The most admirable thing was, the priest translated the meaning of the prayers to the people in English, thus explaining the prayers to everyone. After the puja we had the delicious meal(Puja Bhog) which comprised of Khichadi, fries, veggies and sweets. Also there was a small exhibition of clothes, accessories and jewelry. Cultural programs were held afterwards. The children were playing around dressed in traditional attire. It reminded me of my school days. I thank the Bengali Association of Pittsburgh(http://bengali-pitt.org/bap/) for keeping the culture alive so far from home. Happy Durga Puja to Everyone. May Goddess Durga bless everyone with happiness and fulfill all their wishes.

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.

A new experience

Sight from my window on Gudi Padwa and Ugadi

Sight from my window on Gudi Padwa and Ugadi

Today is Ugadi(Telegu new year) and Gudi Padwa(Marathi new year). This was always a day of celebration in my hometown Baroda as well as in Mumbai and Pune. In school days, march was a month of tension as April used to be the month of final exams of the academic year. The classes used to be in full force with syllabus being completed for every subject. Everyday we used to be told to prepare for the exams by every adult we met, be it the teachers, parents or neighbours. Also the 10th and 12th boards would be going on. Hence the entire neighbourhood used to be silent. Still Gudi Padwa used to bring happiness and cheer. Some of us used to reschedule our new year resolutions to this day.

My best memories of Gudi Padwa are in Mumbai and Pune. In mumbai, I used to have a team mate Preeti. Due to our long working schedules we had become fast friends. Every year she used to bring Puranpoli for me on this day. In pune almost the entire city seemed to be decorated. People would be wearing new traditional clothes. The shops would be decorated. Sometimes the entire building would be decorated. Even in our software companies, ladies would come dressed in Sarees. There would be mails wishing everyone. Last year my maid specially made puranpoli for me.

Puranpoli

The month of march is really beautiful in Baroda(Vadodara), Pune or Mumbai. All trees are green and gardens are full of flowers. I loved to see the unripe mangoes(karies) hanging on the trees.This year I am in Baltimore and had a completely different Gudi Padwa. After a week of sunshine, it snowed. Hence instead of a bright I had a cold snowy Gudi Padwa making the new year a new experience. But then we all should have some unique experiences, thats what makes our life colorful. My work went smoothly throughout the day. Also 20th march’2015 is the first day of spring. Even google is celebrating it with a google doodle. I thank everyone who made this festival special for me.

I wish everyone a very Happy Gudi Padwa and Happy Ugadi.

Spell right or spell check

courtesy: 21centuryedtech

Today morning I came across an unusual thing. I was surfing channels like every sunday. As usual I didnt find anything interesting until I hit the discovery channel. There the Classmate spell bee 2014 was going on. I just loved the format of the show. It was a competition in pure form just like we used to have in school days. The host Soha Ali Khan did a brilliant job of pronouncing the words and putting across the questions. The participants did the unimaginable job of spelling out the difficult words.

This reminded me of my school days. We did not have easy access to computers then. Hence for verification of spellings we used to refer to dictionary. To avoid using dictionary again we used to memorize the word, it’s spelling, pronounciation and meaning. That exercise used to help us a lot in essay writing as we never felt short of words to express ourselves. It also enhanced our vocabulary. I remember raising my hand whenever teacher asked about some word which I knew. The appreciation from teacher after spelling it and the applause from classmates, still makes me nostalgic. Although we have so many gadgets to help us in writing but our freedom to write is somehow curbed because we don’t trouble our minds with learning new words.

Let us make it a habit to learn atleast one new word every week. We can then use it in our tweets or comments in social media. This will not only help us remember it but also enhance our language. At the end of today’s episode, the host said “Its better to spell right than to spell check”. I completely agree with it. Let us remember the spellings and gain the freedom to express ourselves without referring to any gadget or option like spellcheck. I congratulate Times of India and Classmate for organizing the Spellbee. All the best to all the participants of spellbee.

Yesterday and today

When talking about generations, the first thing that came to my mind is my parent’s generaqtion. I have always loved to see how my parents always faced all the problems togather. This sunday was our republic day. The first republic day was on 26th january,1950. That was the time, India was learning to work as an independent nation. Those times were full of struggle for the nation. My parents grew up during the seventies. Hence they too were viewers of those struggles. Somehow their generation embodied the spirit to do well inspite of all odds.

Their generation has been able to create a right role model for us. I just don’t know whether I will be able to live up to the same expectations as them. The only thing that puzzles me about their generation is they think that we have recieved everything very easily. As far as infrastructure and education facilities are concerned yes but doing anything today implies facing lot more competition than their time. Also we are global citizens today so the scope too has expanded. This is particularly in case of software professionals. Many people from the previous generation believe that we have a great life in AirConditioned offices but they don’t know the competition that we have to face daily to live up to the expectations of everyone. I just hope they acknowledge this struggle and stop believing we have got everything easily.