Friday, September 26, 2014

Bangalis Durga Pujo-3

On Saptami, puja starts with the Naba Patrika snaan. Banana tree, along with eight more trees ( rather branches) are taken in a procession to the river & given a ritual bath, admist the sound of dhaak, conch, kansha, ghonta. There after these are tied up together & draped in a red bordered white or yellow saree. This Nabapatrika represents Mother Nature, The Divine Mother. It is then placed at the puja bedi, next to Ganesh. Folk tales refer to this Naba patrika or Kola bou as the wife of Lord Ganesh, & being under the dominating shadow of her powerful Mother-in-law, she stands in the corner, meekly, her head fully covered upto her chin. Folk songs about Durga's family, her home front, how she deals with her daughter-in-law fill the surroundings. 

Next comes the saptami puja rituals, with chakshu daan or pran pratishtha of the idols. Pushpanjali is looked forward to by everybody, when along with the purohit everyone repeats the mantras, with flowers & bel leaves, & then offer them at the feet of the Mother. A darpan(mirror) is placed on the ghatas in which the image of the Goddess is reflected all through the puja days. Goddess is worshipped with flowers, bel leaves, fruits, sweets, and every day of the puja, bhog prasad is offered to Maa. This bhog has to be prepared with utmost care, & devotion, by women in a very pure & clean manner. The women have to bathe, wear clean clothes, and cook with clean hands. They must fast and not even drink water, nor speak at all till the bhog is prepared & offered to the Goddess. These puja days they must eat a satvik diet of vegetarian meals without onions & garlic.

When the bhog is served admist aarati with the dhaki drum beats, the puja place is cordoned off and coverd to give the Goddess privacy while she partakes the meal. Luchis, mixed vegetables, dals, chutneys, payas, sweets, doi, bhajas, all are relished by the Goddess. Later this prasad is mixed with the vegetarian meal to be served to the masses. In the evening is the aarati & then again the dinner bhog after which the Goddess is made to retire for the day.

The next day is Ashtami, the peak of the puja. The significant part of the puja on this day is the Kumari puja when an girl, who has not reached her puberty, is decked up and worshipped as the Goddess. The pushpanjali, bhog & the evening aarati is followed. After that comes the Sandhi pujo.

It is believed  that at the specific moment when Ashtami leaves & Navami starts, Mother awakens. It was during this Sandhi that Sri Ramchandra worshipped the Goddess with 108 lotuses, & diyas. To test Rama's devotion, Mother hid one lotus. Rama did not have enough time to get an extra lotus, therefore he decided to cut his eye & offer it to Goddess, as he was called the lotus eyed. Durga appeared to him at this point and blessed him victory over Ravan in the war. The Sandhi puja is held 27mins before Ashtami gets over, through 27 mins into Navami. Mother is worshipped as Chandi during the Sandhi puja.

Navami marks the last day of the festivities. With the usual rituals of puja, on Navami the homa is performed where Mother is made offerings through the fire yagna. A pumpkin is chopped in one strike at the end of the yagna, marking the killing of all demonic & asuric virtues in humans. By the evening aarati there looms a gloom over everyone, as the next day Maa shall be leaving for her heavenly abode in Kailas.

On Dashumi, after the puja, Dodhi Mongol is held, when Maa is given a mixture of puffed rice soaked in sweetened curds. This is a coolant, and since Maa has to undertake a long journey back to Kailas, she is fed this mixture. Later this is distributed as prasad. Then comes the darpan visarjan where, admist chanting of mantras, the thread that is tied around the idols is removed and the mirror which reflects the image of the idols are immersed into a big container of water, marking the visarjan & end of puja. The four days of puja, Mrinmayi Mother is confined in the idols, & once the thread is cut off, She will again be percieved as the Mrinmayi, the Divine energy, Shakti which is present in every living & non- living, in this creation.

Although its a sad moment, yet people celebrate with slogans, "ashche bochor aabar hobe", which means we shall again have the celebrations next year. Married women do the Boron, of Maa with circling paan leaves around her, putting sindur on her & feeding her sweets, taking her Blessings. Then starts the sindur utsav, where women greet each other & apply sindur to each other wishing peace, & prosperity. Its a celebration of joy admist the sorrow of Maa going away, the festivities drawing to a close. The idols are carried to the nearest river or water body for immersion, with crowds shouting Joy Durga Mai Ki, & ashche bochor abar hobe. After the immerssion, water from the river is carried back & the priest sprinkles this Shantir Jol, uttering mantras, on the devotees. Men do the kola kuli, hugging to greet each other, youngsters touch their elders feet seeking their blessings, elders bless the young. The period of Shubho Bijoya starts, with people thus greeting & exchanging sweets, making up broken relationships. Again the Bengalis while carrying on their daily duties, begin another year of wait for their Maa to arrive the following year.
                             Shubho Bijoya :D

Bangalis Durga Pujo--2

For a Bengali, Navratri is not just about worshipping The Divine Mother, but also the special occasion of the daughter coming home to visit her parents along with her children. This makes the festival even more special, from preparing the house to receive the daughter, with making her favorite goodies to eat, buying new clothes & gifts, & joy filling the hearts of every family member waiting to shower their love for their dearest daughter Uma or Parvati. Yes to every Bengali, a girl is always their Uma, so much that most parents & family members refer to their girls as Ma, following their given pet name, as in Oishee Ma & so on. Even daughters-in-law are called Bou-Ma. Women are looked upon as the embodiment of Uma, therefore she is the daughter Uma, or daughter-in-law Uma, or wife who is the Uma of her parents. Every woman, girl, mother, aunt etc is somebody's Uma. Therefore in a Bengali household the woman is the center of all activities. It is this honouring of the woman power in our lives that is Durga puja. 

Traditionally the idol makers make the idols in the Naat Mandir of the house where the puja is held. When the festival took a sarvajanik turn, puja committes ordered their idols from the idol makers at Kumartuli, a suburb in Kolkata. Clay from the Ganges is used, but an important thing to mention here is that, to this clay, soil from the house of a prostitute too is mixed to make the idol. Mother Divine belongs to all, & to her there is no distinction between her children. Also this signifies that the divine mother resides in all beings, in all women, even a prostitute. Puja spirit actually takes over from Mahalaya Amavasya, the last day of the Tarpan Paksha, when ancestors are remembered & honoured, with offerings of til (seseme seeds) & water. Food liked by the departed souls are cooked & given away to brahmins & the poor. With the Shradh Tarpan paksha over, puja preparations begin in full swing. It is believed that on this day, Maa Durga starts her journey from Kailas along with her children, Laxmi, Saraswati, Ganesh & Kartik, & also with their respective Vahans , to her parents home. They choose a horse, elephant, boat, or palki, to travel. Every year it is a different mode of transport, to & fro. Predictions are made accordingly as to the kind of situation she arrives to, depending on the mode of transport. For example, if She arrives on a boat, that year is a year of excessive floods all over, & if She leaves on an elephant, the following year would bring in prosperity to the land. Similarly a palki symbolizes earthquakes, while horse brings in various kinds of turmoil & strife in the land.

The festivities start off with the early morning Chandi paath broadcast by All India radio, Kolkata, with chantings & hymns, in praise of The Divine Mother, her glory, stories about her various avatars, & how each time she vanquished the demons to save her children. Since the first broadcast, this Mahalaya broadcast has become a tradition for every household, to wake up at 5am & listen with total devotion to the invocation. Today television channels have joined in with skits & dance ballets about the same theme. The whole atmosphere takes a sudden turn, there is a slight nip in the air, with the smell of shiuli, dopati (balsam),genda flowers, & the dew shining on the grass, the deep blue sky & the pristine while clouds sailing against it, all of a sudden the birds start to sing a different melody, as if giving the signal of Maa arriving soon.Traditional folk songs about Menaka pleading to her husband Himalay to bring their daughter home, how much she laments about her daughters state, being married to a sanyasi, songs about how Maa Durga explains to her mother how happy she is in her husbands home, fill the air. As puja draws to a close, the songs become sadder, with Maneka declaring that she would force Shiva to stay here so that her daughter Gauri too can continue to stay on forever.

On Shashti, the sixth day of Navaratri she is said to reach her parents village, but she rests under a bel (wood apple) tree on the outskirts. Belief goes, that her husband, Shiva & She are in seperable, therefore he too comes with her but stops under the bel tree outside the village, while Uma or Parvati, goes ahead to spend the next four days with her parents. Shiva knows that if he accompanies his wife, the attention of everybody will get diverted towards him, & since he has granted her just few days of leave, he lets her have all the care & attention from her parents, while he waits for her. Bel is Shiva's favorite, therefore he sits under it meditating till Parvati is ready to leave. The puja begins with the Bodhan, Amantran & Adhibas where Parvati  is welcomed home, and is settled & made comfortable. Therefore the first worship begins under the bel tree.  

Over to Part--3

Bangalis Durga Pujo--1

For a Bengali, presence of Maa Durga, is as natural as breath. Hold your breath & you will know how important it is, same way, when the Divine Mother's puja festivities get over, a sudden void envelops a Bengali, & they spend the rest of the year just waiting for Her, & preparing for Her next arrival from the very next day after Dusserra. Originally the puja used to be during spring time, called Basanti puja. It was Sri Ramchandra who worshipped Maa Durga for her Blessings before his war with Ravan during this autumn season. 

Devtas had sole right to perfom Durga Puja,& it was Raja Surat who worshipped her during the month of Sharat Ritu. Raja Surat had lost his kingdom & power, to his enemy & was banished away into the forest, dejected & defeated. He came across Rishi Meddha, who advised him to perform Durga puja, following all the rituals and with total faith & devotion to The Mother. Raja did as he was advised & soon he again fought back, this time defeating his enemies. Since then this Sharat  Ritu Navratri became popular all over.

Previously only rich nobles, kings & zamindars could perform the puja as it involved lots of preparations & there could be no compromise on the ingredients & rituals for the pujas. As economy was essentially agrarian, common people could not afford to put in so much of effort. It was these rich nobles, kings & zamindars, who organized the whole festivities, while the rest of the society participated. 
On Janamashtami or Jagannath Rath Yatra, im not sure which one, the first frame called 'kathamo' is assembled on which the whole structure of the idol shall stand. Locally available materials, rice straw, bamboo cane, are used to make the skeleton of the idols. Next it is covered with soil from the Ganges as the clay has tightening properties.

Over to part --2

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Romantic Spring or Invitation to Summer

I often wondered why poets & romantics called spring the season of love, all I knew was, ' Hello, summer is on it way, just a matter of a month to unfurl itself all over". And all those so called spring festivals, most of the time it becomes warm already, & every time the cuckoo calls, its nothing but an indication that the weather has become one more degree warmer today. I feel like telling it to shut up, nothing sweet about its shrill voice singing in so called pancham surrr... It hurts the ears, especially if its shrieking just outside your window. One of the most irresponsible bird, can't even build a nest, dumps its eggs in other birds nests, good for nothing, how can anyone feel romantic with the creature shrieking???

Basant utsav, that's what its called, with Saraswati puja in Bengal & other eastern states, everyone wearing the yellow & orange colour, making it unbearable to look around. When the cold has already started ebbing away, & sun becoming stronger, looking all around & seeing people in yellows & oranges, everywhere, one just feels so jaundiced. Of course the timing is good, the final exams of all institutions are to begin, best time to invoke & please the lady of knowledge & learning, but no one seems to have noticed that this Lady wears only white, while other go about celebrating her with yellows & oranges. i positively feel she doesn't get very pleased with this, no wonder education in India is so screwed up.

And what better way to go through with the romantic season, chicken pox & measles give good company this time of the year, just blame it on these diseases if any student cannot score later in the finals that always happens during the peak of summer.

And then that disgusting festival of colours, definitely started by some morons who wanted to go a step further in wiling away their time & eve teasing. Some lazy MCP must have started the festival, centuries ago & linked the name Krishna to it, so that gullible women fall for it, & come out to 'Play" with colours, & thus the pigs get to have some "clean" fun. Yah right clean, wonder in what way. Go ahead misbehave with women, & chant' Bura na mano holi hai". The festival unites people, blah, when someone comes and spills colour on my clean compound wall,throw toxic colour on me & pass lewd comments, makes lewd gestures, or chops off fresh branches from trees, for bonfire, I definitely don't feel the unity, all i can feel is throw such people into the bonfire. Holi or festival of colours, to welcome the spring is nothing but a traditional sanction given by the forefathers of Indian tradition to misbehave with women. And where is spring by the way, by the time it is Holi, its already hot,

The Indian summer never wants to go away, its forever there, sitting tight, with its roots deep down into the Indian soil, & the hot air all over the Indian sky, and it has characters too, " Hot & Dry, Hot & Humid". Whats the difference, it anyways hot hot hot, & no, not hot in that sense, this is hot, where one would feel suffocated with even one more person in the same room because the body temperature would also add few more degrees to the atmospheric temperature, making one feel more uncomfortable.

I have noticed how people go ga ga over how much the summer is more comfortable & bearable in their city or home town than others. try catching a North Indian or one in central India describing the comfort of their summer, most often one can hear them say, " oh, ours is much better, because there is no perspiration", while those who live in the coastal cities will claim theirs is much better, " oh at least we have the sea, so the tides keep is much cooler, & with the perspiration, sitting under a fan is very comforting," Donkeys, neither realizes that it is hot anyways. In the dry central & north, a summer stroke is common because the dry heat acts upon the skin, dehydrating the body more, & lack of perspiration doesn't make them realize that. On the other hand at the coastal regions, they perspire so much that, that itself leads to dehydration, so big deal, either way, drinking gallons of water is important, irrespective of where you come from.

And what with all the load shedding, no where in India can anyone have a comfortable summer anymore. At one time we heard of the term load shedding, living in a city, had protected us from a lot of hardships including load shedding. Now which city is free from it?? Haha... at least in some way the country has achieved some sort of equality now, everywhere there is load shedding.

Once Indian summer is here,it never wants to go away. Its just there, always, forever. Other seasons just find some gap here & there & slip in, only to be thrown out by old lady summer. Monsoon time, June to September, firstly Monsoon is not able to enter because its become too hot, then it has to force its way in with a huge cyclone & storm, to be able to settle in. But the summer will be lurking somewhere in the corner, just waiting for the rains to stop, & there its back with all the humidity as a support system. I have noticed how much of a tussle monsoon & summer have with each other, when it rains , nice & cool, as soon as it stops, back to hot & humid. Also there is a sort of competition between the two with how much each one can harass the humans. Summer tries to scare simply by its heat strokes, while monsoon shoots its cyclones, & cloud bursts, causing floods. Notice how hot it gets during the month of October, during the Navratri time, days are unbearably hot & sweaty, & by evening thunder clouds start gathering & begins to pour. Oh yah , some consider monsoon too to be romantic, yeah right, in India, with garbage floating in the flood waters every where, stink, muck, water borne diseases, quite romantic. Either way from spring to monsoon the cuckoo never stops shrieking. Thank God for autumn, when both summer & monsoon get too tired trying to show their might, and just back off to recuperate, silently autumn sneaks in, bring with it the message of approaching winter, at least even if every place in India don't get cold, it will be pleasant, for sometime at least. Phew....

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Eating Adventures

The other day while I was sipping my tea, I remembered how we caught my daughter draining her glass of milk down the sink, actually it was her father who caught her in the act. It was funny & amusing, but we surely couldn't show our true emotions before her. We had to play the parents & give her the "lecture", & make her feel guilty about her Baaad act. Like she cared. She too must have played along, standing before us head hanging down, listening to the lecture. probably wanting to laugh away, but pretending to be ashamed of her action, because thats what we were trying to make her feel. I was like "Oh my dear, how could you". Im sure at the back of her head head she must have been thinking, " Well why try to give me this white liquid turned chocolatey in colour & flavour, when you all know I JUST HATE IT". We shall know that only after she reads this & posts her comment.

Well I can't say I was a good example myself, I mean though I never needed to pour any liquid down the sink, but I did quite a bit of shooting eatables out of the window along with my sister. Yeah we all did that sometime in our childhood, & the memories of those eventful times only make us feel good about those happy innocent days. We loved milk, plain, sweet, flavoured, hot, cold, any form, as long as it is milk, its for me, We still do, its the best among God's creations. But there were other foodstuff that we just hated, among fruits was a long list, papayas, melons, ugh, I still hate them, whats that stink, & some people just love it just for that stink. Mom & Bapi used to very lovingly buy them for us during summers, peel them, cut them into small pieces, soak them in sugar to & serve them to us, while we very unwillingly put them into our mouths & somehow gulp them down our gullets. Next came the puking & throwing up session which only added to Mom's already busy schedule, & soon they realized papaya & melons are not for us. We girls parents made peace with the situation. But parents are parents, so in came the grapes, no problem with that, just that those days seedless grapes were rare. Grapes are not the problem, taste wise. Its only that when you put one nice shiny smooth grape in your mouth, & bite it, boom it explodes & out comes the little seed, & that we always hated, & so eating grapes were out. Other fruits were not hateful but more or less boring. Pomegranates, custard apples, boring! Guavas, either hard when raw, & soft when ripe, too many seeds, so thats out, I can go on & on with the list, so to conclude bananas & mangoes were the only ones that were more than welcome, while oranges , & sweetlimes, as long as Mom & Dad made juices out of them fine, welcome, with lots of added sugar to enhance them further. Pineapples, good when soaked in sugar. They also took a lot of trouble making a fruit salad, thinking when all the fruits are mixed, it will become a power house of nutrition & energy, plus we would not have the patience to select each fruit out & throw or swallow. This was mostly a Sunday thing, when Dad was at home, & he declared to Mom, "Why won't they eat the fruit salad, I shall see to it that they eat it all". Mom knew only too well, after all she dealt with us everyday, well Dad so be it.

My younger sister had an amazing aim, shooting bits & pieces of foodlings from the farthest part of the room through the grill, & out into the garden, right under Dad's nose, because he was already dipped in his sketching or a book. I got my training from this little sister of mine. We used to stuff the unwanted fruits under our tongue & cheeks, and wait for the right moment to smuggle them into our fists and casually walk away & then out of the window. We also knew the art of spitting far into infinity the stored up fruits from our mouths. It was fun to see the birds flock in one particular place down below in the compound later, & we knew how far we have practiced spitting the fruit game.

Like I said milk was fine, the best, but there too was a problem. We were served milk in huge glass bowls, because thats how much we loved having it, yet there were milky disasters almost everyday. While the milk was set down , either some fly fell into it, or one of us knocked the bowl down spilling the whole contents, while playing or wrestling. A bit of scolding & punishing by Mom, & again another bowl of milk, this time to be gulped down right in front of her. The amazing thing was that this situation was almost an everyday affair, but Mom never gave up.

We sisters had become experts in shooting stuff out of the window. Being Bongs fish & meat were a part of our staple food, & yes we hated them. Parents always want to provide their children with the best of nutrition for all round growth, & our parents were no different. So every Sunday was challenge at the dining table with Mom serving us generous helping of the day's non veg food & warning us to not try any tricks. We on our part never gave up, so when Mom fed us a morsel, as usual we safely kept the morsel comfortably under our tongue & cheeks, pretending to chew & also gulp at the same time. No we never swallowed even a teeny weeny bit, we were that good. The strategy was waste as much time as you can, when the parents finish & leave the table, smuggle the morsels out of your mouths & under our plates, well hidden by the rim of the plates. Next check how near or close the parents are & then one, two, three & shoot out. You must be wondering how come Mom & Dad never noticed our swelled up cheeks, simple, we were very good, & they were too trusting.

It didn't end there, our tiffin boxes were also not spared, not because we disliked what Mom always packed in our tiffin boxes, but we never got to finush eating the breakfast she packed, it was the syndrome of all chit chatting & slow eating, & before long the recess was over. Sometimes we ate in the school bus while returning home, but most of the time we used to forget. So whats the solution? Before we went upstairs the left overs were down the elevator shaft. Once Mom caught us. It so happened that she was waiting for the lift on the ground floor, after her evening walk, & she happened to glance down in the hollow of the lift shaft & saw the eatables down there. She wondered, "Who could have done this, it the kind of stuff I pack for my kids in their breakfast everyday at school. Oh wait, no they didn't", BUSTED. Now what, lift shaft was out. Here came in the many stray dogs in our society building. They were just too good, the generous ones just ate clean whatever we gave them. Actually these dogs had started getting quite healthy, all the food shots that came out of the window & the helpings that they got on our return from school, started making them quite healthy.

I guess discarding food stuff is quite normal, many kids must have tried it sometime, & its all because parents are simply anxious to see that their children get the best nutrition from all the food available out there, & children want to rebelliously have their own set of choices regarding their eating habits. Parents tend to not remember that children do have sense of taste & smell. At least my kid did, even when she was an infant. The pediactrician had given us some vitamin, iron & folic acid drops, when we left for home with the new human being from the nursing home. We never thought then that this little creature would be capable of asserting her chopice of what goes down her throat or not. The vitamin C & folic acid drops were just too good & she used to stick her tongue out for more even after we finushed giving her the daily dose. It was the iron drops that she showed dislike to. At first whenever she saw that particular bottle ready to drop its contents into the spoon for her, she used to wrestle her hands & legs to kock it over, when pinned down, she would refuse to open her mouth, then we forced her to open her mouth by holding her nose so she had to let go. We thought, yeah baby, we adults always win. But what were we thinking. She was just 15 days old, & one day she did not resist at all, yep she readily submitted to us, let us pour the hateful stuff into her mouth, we all were happy, I the most, I taught my kid her first lesson, Mom knows the best & you must be obedient. After about ten minutes or so, i came to feed her & found some yellowish stuff rolling out from the corner of her mouth & the baby happily kicking about watching the colourful photograph of the bright red flower on the wall. The tiny creature had just pretended to gulp the medicine, but all the time had stored it in her throat, only to spit it out a little at a time when we were not around. I then knew, here was a challenge who would make less noise & work more, most of the time unnoticed.

This kid grew up soon into a cute pretty little girl. Her school was a whole day affair, & so i was paranoid enough to see that atleast she eats a proper breakfast before she leaves for school. I felt if I never fed her the lunch, she wouldn't eat well, so compensate with the breakfast. After all its the main meal of the day. So here was a plate of omlette or a boiled egg & milk along with the nuts. All the stuff that my little girl hated, but all of them very necessary for her proper mental & physical growth. So the morning began with the daily scolding & bribing to make her eat, while she did her bit by puking to avoid eating all that was laid out. Sometimes she did throw up all that I very patiently managed to drown into her gullet. All the effort gone down the drain, & with the school bus almost at the door, there was no choice but to rush out.

One day while I packed her bag, I saw that her Omlette plate was empty & milk cup too. Ofcourse then I didn't yet discover the milk down the drain act. I also didn't notice that the omlette was crumbled & stuffed into her pocket, to throw away at a conveinient time later. What then, even after washing the uniform many times the eggy smell wouldn't go for a long time. Yeah we had to discard the outfit, & I stopped the breakfast of eggs & milk. It was just milk & the nuts used to go into her pocket to be eaten later, which never came. This habit still stays with her. Empty her bags & one can find nuts dating back to even two years. Once I even found a green something wrapped in a foil, in one of her college bag, that she wanted me to clean out for her. The young lady had kept her cheese sandwich once upon a time, when she was in college, & had happily forgotten about it, & not to forget the almost half kg nuts too from anothet of her bags, all from her college days. They had holes in them, a sign that insects had made the nuts their nest. But these were all when my little girl was already a young lady, i was still telling all about her childhood eating pranks, so lets go back to those days again.

This was when she was a little older, I used to go to fetch her from the campus gate as the walk to our block was a long one, & the weight of the books, plus lunch bag and all, & a tired hungry exhausted child of mine, made it very heart wrenching for me. Then one day my kiddo told me that she was a big girl now & can manage it all on her own, as none of her other school mates had their momies waiting for them at the campus gate. Ofcourse I wouldn't want to embarass my baby anymore so I stopped the practice. I used to wait at the window. My kiddo came all the way, right upto our block, all she had to do was climb up two floors & voila, home, within five to seven minutes. But what was this, she was taking more time to come upstairs than the walk from the gate to our block, almost everyday, why? So one day I just went down, and not seeing her around, I went at the back of the block & she was there, all surprised. When I asked her, she said she was trying a hide & seek with me. I wasn't really convinced, after all it was a been there done that thingy, & I kinda smelt something, so another day I went again, this time very carefully, & caught her throwing her left over lunch to the dogs that stayed behind our block. Yes yes as you sow, so shall you reap. We did that & now my little one did too, no I never told her about us, but these are instincts & they get expressed at the right point of time. I wanted to laugh, but had to show her how very not happy I was, & that this was unexpected from a good child like her.

Did it help, not really, she had surely found out other tricks, she hasn't told me yet, but she sure will some day, like how we share with our Mom now. She takes it with a great sense of houmor, now, had she known about it all back then, we would have been grounded. But now we all sit together & have a good laugh.





Monday, September 26, 2011

Ma Durga's Shongsar.

I was having a chat with my sister this afternoon, and we just got talking about Durga pujo, as thats the only topic thats in every bong mind now, and so we got discussing how much control Ma Durga has on her family. I mean look at her, four children, two girls & two boys, each of them having their own pets, a husband who is always knocked off with the bhaang, whole lot of bhoots & prets, sadhus covered with ash all over, just like her husband does, two bulls & ofcourse her own pet, the big lion. This along with her close companions Jaya & Vijaya & other inhabitants of Kailas. Mount Kailas is quite a big home to maintain & Ma has her own career too of running the whole universe, by carrying out hers & her husband's share of the responsibilities, as he is always too stoned to do anything. There is no place for any mistake here, or else the whole creation will collapse. So does Ma Durga ever lose her cool managing everything all by herself. How does she do it all?

As a husband Shivji is of no help. Her older daughter Saraswati is too busy with her music & rock concerts, and her theatre, etc etc, she is very creative, and doesn't really care for mundane housework & running of the universe. Besides since the time Michael left his earthy body, Saraswati is very involved with him in creating a fusion with vedic symphony & Rock music. Saraswati was bowled over by Michael's Thriller, & ever since she was waiting for him to die & come over to join them at Kailas. Their aim is to create a bang louder and stronger than the big bang that created this universe. Probably Sarawati is looking at some ideas about creating another universe where only she will be ruling. The present universe will forever be ruled by her parents, and Saraswati is not interested in collaborating with her siblings, especially Laxmi in helping their parents run the universe. She never really liked the importance that Laxmi got from everyone. A new bigger and stronger bang might help in making a parallel universe where only she rules. Her swan can fly high & miles together without tiring out, so that way she can keep coming back to this universe on its back, thus keeping in touch with this side of existence too. Quite clever. This situation suits Ma, as Saraswati and Laxmi never got along, You see, Saraswati has this complex that Laxmi is loved more by earthlings than her, infact no one really cares for Saraswati, that is why from giving knowledge of eternity, and fine arts, she has changed her profession to rock & pop music. Another problem is that Saraswati is wedded to a very very old Brahma, whereas Laxmi has Vishy head over heels for her attention, and Vishy is quite a catch, handsome, witty, flambuoyant, and quite a good career. The guy has the charge of maintenance of the whole universe, no leaf also can sway in the breeze without him wishing for it.

On the contrary, Saraswati being so highly intellectual, no Gods were brave enough to come up to her and ask for her hand. And intellectually it is Brahma's experienced knowledge through endless creations, that impressed Saraswati in the first place. Also being very old Brahma is quite starry eyed about Saraswati, at this ripe old age, a young, heavenly beauty with equal brains, is his spouse, who wouldn't like to be in his shoes. He loves to pamper Saraswati, and her wishes are his command. Saraswati enjoys the attention & because he is very old, he cannot tag along with her everywhere she goes, so that leaves Saraswati totally independent. But she still cannot get over the fact that her husband is old while Laxmi's has the young and charming Vishnu as her husband.

Laxmi on the other hand keeps all of earthlings attention glued to her. With ups & downs in their stocks, keeping everyone running after her all the time. She loves getting attention, but prefers to keep the noise down. Her approach is silent, she slips in and out of peoples lives silently. She has created an aura that she loves silence, cleanliness, daintyness, beauty, and so who ever leads such a lifestyle, she smiles upon them. At the same time she has managed to create an impression that one wee bit of displeasure & she will just leave that person and walk away. No wonder poor earthlings are always looking for ways & means to keep her pleased & happy always. They are always busy doing rituals to please her, so that she spends all her time in their homes & lives.

Laxmi's most favorite season is the Dipavali. At this time earthlings leave no stone unturned to make her feel comfortable, and happy. The poor things stay up all night in singing her praises and offers her all that they have so that she is pleased and gives them more in return. No wonder her pet is an owl, they can see well in the dark, so it helps Laxmi to go about in the dark moonless night of Amavasya during Dipavali. But Laxmi has one grudge against her sister. While Saraswati is always touring the universe and has a very active social & cultural life, Laxmi in her free time has to always sit at the feet of her husband, & serve him. Vishy is all the time with her, so it has become rather difficult for Laxmi to even get a home facial done on her self, without Vishy asking her numerable questions.

Ma is aware of her daughters lifestyles but doesn't really care, as long as the two girls are busy in their own lives, they are off her back. You see, out of her love for her daughters she had made it a condition during their marriage to Brahma & Vishnu, that after marriage too they will continue to stay with her in Kailas. Brahma & Vishnu too didn't mind, after all they too get to stay in the beautiful Kailas, & get pampered by everyone. After all they are dually important, on one hand they are Shivji's very intimate family friends, & now they are the Jamais

When Ma wants to get her accounts straightened, she just has to tell Laxmi, and Laxmi takes care of the rest. After all there isn't a single day when people down on earth doesn't offer her special prayers, Laxmi always gets more offerings than any of her siblings. As for Saraswati, as long as she is busy rocking & popping, there is peace in Kailas. Mother definately has better work to do than settling quarrels between her daughters.

Ganesh is always engrossed in reading and writing, and since all the creatures of the universe along with earthlings too, are always queuing up before his office for license in order to start any work down on earth, he rarely has any time to help his mother. Even his wives Riddhi and Siddhi help him in discharging his duties, so they are not really much of help around the Kailas household. Besides his large belly always keeps him hungry, so he has to eat frequently. Not to forget, his little rat, always sneaking here and there stealing food. His master might be big & huge and so has an insatiable appetite, but this little mouse too doesn't stay far behind inspite of his size. Along with his licensing job, Ganesh always has to keep an eye on the rat. He had to face many embarassing situations because of his rat. Once the moon almost fell off the sky laughing when he saw Ganesh passing by riding on his rat. This had infuriated Ganesh so much that he cursed the moon that who so ever saw the Moon on Ganesha's birthday, in the month of Bhadrapad, will face all kinds of obstacles and false accusations for the rest of the year ahead. Earthlings till today are paying for the sin that Mr. Moonie comitted. Mr. Moonie, the bully that he is, decides to look his best & shine bright on every Ganesh Chaturthi, and poor earthlings who cannot resist the temptation of admiring him, always face the wrath of Ganesha's curse, well Mr. Moonie hasn't got much to lose here. But whenever Ma needs sensible advice, its always Ganesh whom she trusts. Among all her children he is the only one who is cool headed, and doesn't really have any ego issues. The incident with Mr. Moonie was once in a creation, the Moon had become quite conceited with the fact Shivji had used him decorate his locks long time ago. Ganesha had to break the pride of Mr. Moonie. In fact he is one boy who never loses his temper easily. Therefore he always gives the right advice. He als has a lot of paitience, no wonder Vyasa Dev asked him to help in writing the History of mankind, in the Mahabharata. With so many plots, and innumerable characters, and stories within stories, flash back and flash forward, only one with a cool head and patience can sit though and write all of it at one go.

That leaves her youngest son Katik, a hansome confirmed bachelor. No no, its not what you think, he is infact quite straight. His bachelorhood is only because he is too handsome, so theres no one with matching good looks to be Kartik's life partner. Also since his older siblings have chosen their own respective life partners, in Kartik's case his Mother wants to have her say in the choice of the right girl for him. Result, whom Kartik likes, Mother disaproves and vice versa. Back on earth young unmarried girls of the state of Bengal, would wish for a husband who has looks like Kartik. Kartik also is quite courageous. His killing of Taraka impressed all the citizens of heavens so much, that he was appointed the commander in chief of Heavenly army. Mother just sends him across when ever she has to threaten anyone. Just by his presence, anyone can get intimidated.
Mother is assisted by her dear friends, Jaya & Vijaya, in all her work, be it the household of Kailas, or the whole universe. There is nothing that Jaya Vijaya does not know or cannot do. In a way they can read Mother's mind. From getting Ma's bath ready, to making arrangements for her daily rituals to her husband Shivji, organising meals for the hordes of inhabitants of Kailas, to keeping an eye and ear as to what is happening all around creation, carrying all of Mother's errands, they just seem to know exactly what to do & when to do. To assist them is always ever ready Nandi & Bhringi. These two bulls, brainless fools, but they could do anything to keep Ma and their Baba pleased.
As for Ma's husband Mahadev, there couldn't be another husband in the whole universe who could compare with Him. He is ever supportive and hopelessly in love with His Ardhangini. to the point that when in her past life as Sati she gave up her body at Daksha yagya, Baba was absolutely shattered. The whole universe had started crumbling so much that Ma had to be reborn, but Baba was so full of Sati Ma, that he would even look at the direction of Ma who was reborn as Parvati now, and was deep in penance to wake up Mahadev and make Him realize that its his Sati only who has returned as Parvati. Baba was totally out of his senses during that era.

After marrying Parvati Ma, Baba had turned over the running of the whole universe and Kailas to Ma and since then he has shut himself up is his own self, totally confident that when Parvati has taken charge, there is nothing thats need for him to do now. She the all in all, the begining, the middle and the end, and so without a care in the creation, he is since then lost in his own self. He never questions, nor gives any opinion, nor stops Ma from doing anything she wants. No wonder all over the country of India, on earth, young girls would love to have a husband who is like Shivji. They conduct pujas in the months of Baisakh, & Sravan to please Shivji Baba, & get the boon of having a husband like Shivji in nature. Once in a while he wakes up, that too when Ma calls him, and takes her along with the children and the pets, to her father's home far down on the plains of the Ganga in Bengal, where a little ahead Ganga had met Sagar long long ago. He he waits for her outside the village of his in laws till Ma finushes her visit and then he escorts them all again back to Kailas. But here again he has a condition, Ma can stay only for five days which includes the day she reaches and the day she starts back for her home. Baba cannot imgine his existence without Ma, without her he just cannot function. But Baba never joins Ma in the visit. He prefers to stay under the bel tree, waiting for Ma. he knows that women, when they go to their parents home, become very childish, and want a lot of attention. There are lots of gossip & news to catch up with & exchange with their mothers. If He were to join with Ma, the whole attention of Ma's family would be diverted to pampering Him. Therefore he feels better to just wait outside the village/town/ city, under the bel tree. Besides Nandi is always there to look after Baba where ever He goes. This arrangement suits Maa too.

To keep things the way it is & in her control, Ma keeps mixing Baba's drinks, personally. She doesn't trust anyone else for the job, she knows exactly how heady & strong Baba would like it to be and the sweetness has to just be right. Ofcourse it was from Nandi whom she learnt to make the drink, because before Ma came into Baba's life it was Nandi who took care of Baba, he knows Baba in & out. Nandi knows exactly where the best hemp grows, and he selects them carefully and hands them over to Maa. He doesn't mind Maa taking over his favorite job of making Baba's favorite drink. This way he gets more time to throw his weight about on the staff, and all the inhabitants of Kailas. Nandi is both Ma's & Baba's favorite & was created by Baba himself eoans ago, much before Maha Sahkti manifested as Sati & became Baba's consort. After Sati passed away & Baba was left alone once again, Nandi used to make heady doses of Bhaang and feed Baba, to keep Him knocked off, so that He doesn't wake up and start missing Sati Maa. When she returned as Parvati, Nandi at once recognised her as his Sati Ma reincarnated. This time he made sure that he would do anything to keep her in Kailas forever. Now they all are a very big happy family, Nandi, Bringi, the lion, peacock, swan, owl, rat, and all the Bhoots and Prets. Bringi I must tell you always sneaks into the kitchen and licks off the left overs from the pot that was used to make the Bhaang, and is always knocked off. You see, a drop of Baba's drink can knock off any living creature, & this is after all a bull. That is why on Shivratri people throng the temples to get just a little drop of Baba's Bhaang prasad & that gets them high is physically & spiritually.

So one would think how does Ma manage such a huge and weired family, and the universe, well she manages it only too well. Ma is a very liberal, indepandant strong willed woman. Infact she is the basis of all womanhood and the whole creation. The power house of the universe, her energy reserves are never exhausted. She is fearless and has all the five senses totally under her control, so much that they sit and stand wake & sleep on her orders. Yet she is ever so loving and compassionate, always ready to forgive, and take all those who cry out to her, right on her bosom, to cuddle & comfort. which is why even in Kailas there has never been any sort of ego problems between the inhabitants, they all know that Ma loves them all equally. Nor do the pets have any favoritism, or dominating traits. They all know too well that Ma also doesn't not take any nonsense from anyone. They have seen many such examples down below on earth, when humans in their greed and total lack of consideration towards one another, and the nature, have faced Ma's anger which spills over in avalanches, floods, famine, earthquakes and worst, volcanic eruptions. Many a civilizations have been lost due to Ma's fury. They also know that when Ma calms down, she gathers all her children into her lap, in eternal rest. The humans never learn though. There have been so many instances when they get influnced by the asuras and make their own lives miserable. Then they keep crying for Ma, & Baba for help. The Devas too aren't any less, sometimes they too get carried away in their superiority complexes, and fall prey to the asuras. Then its again crying to Ma & Baba, for help. Vishnu & Brhama being very close friends of the family, & now part of it too, are always there to join Ma & Baba in their quest to keep putting things right back on earth. Viushnu heavily depends on this family, he is the head of the universe maintenance department, and is always pressed on with loads of work, one mistake from his department and everything can go upside down all over. Together they all work hard to keep the universe running.

Ma wants to keep everyone happy. One would think wow thats a difficult task. Well, not for Ma. All she has to do is keep everyone busy minding their own bussiness. Every woman would want to be the boss of her home and husband, but we all know that men butt in where they are least wanted, and everything goes haywire. For Ma thats not a problem, all she has to do is keep feeding her husband well, and make exotic drinks of Bhaang shove it down her husbands throat. It keeps his throat cool from the eternal buring sensation, since the time he had stored the poison from samudra manthan. Thay way he is always comfortable and knocked off, completely out of her way. As a good wife, she does ask for his permission and keeps him informed, but Baba, being totally intoxicated, just noddes a yes, thats it. Saraswati being busy with all the classical musicians and rock stars down on the earth, she is away most of the time, so that keeps the two squabbling sisters away from seeing much of each other, & Ma gets breaks from the scarcasm & taunts that they often throw at each other. When ever there are little fights anywhere in heaven, Ma doesn't go herself to settle matters anymore. Kartik has grown up to be a hansome strong guy, and all he has to do is just go and present himself at there. The warring parties get intimidated and just calm down. Ma is looking for the right kind of bride for him, but these days one doesnt get a coy shy, docile, dumb girl to be a daughter in law any more. It was by chance that Ma had come accross Kola and had immediately got her Ganesh married to her. That way, Ganesh remains his Mama's boy always, while Kola bou stands silently with her head covered in a corner forever. Till today she has never demanded Ganesha's attention. So he is all the time free to be with Ma and assist her. Ofcourse Ganesh'a has two more wives, Riddhi and Siddhi, but they have always remained with their parents down on the earth. They wouldn't want to live with a Mama's boy, besides the earthlings just love the company of Riddhi & Siddhi. Ma too doesn't want some strong minded women as her daughters in law. Her house must run according to her will, no one must have any say in that. This is why its getting more and more difficult to get any bride for Kartik. Who would want to mary into a house where the mother in law is in full control, while the father in law is always BPKT, & two grown up sisters in law, who also have their husbands living with them as Ghar Jamais, plus the number of animals, birds, ghosts and other weird creatures. Ofcourse one has heard of Kartik having a wife or two some where down on the earth, tucked away in a southern part of the land called Bharat. Even if Ma knows that she pretends that she doesn't. Otherwise she will have to ask Kartik to bring them home to Kailas and then who knows, they might start asserting their opinions too in the affairs of Kailas. Mother-in-law, daughter-in-law relationship, one can never be sure.

What??, is it autumn already, so its time for Ma to ascend down on earth right? Oh I better get going. Have to make preparations to welcome her along with the whole family. There is so much to do and so little time, shopping for new clothes, accessories, getting the idols and pandals ready, bhog and prasad menus to settle, shop for the pujas materials, invitations to send, organise the cultural programes to be held, get all the cooks of the land to start up with the food festivals, ohh yah and the new pujo specials of music, books, magazines to be launched, the work is endless. Maybe I shall ask Riddhi & Siddhi Boudis to help me out, it will make them happy. I think i'll track down Kartik Da's wives too. Atleast for a few days on earth, everyone, can get together, and spend some happy moments. Its puja time so all will be busy in having a good time. And you all too out there, be sure to have a happy pujo, Jai Maa. :D


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Finally Its Over :D

I am sooooo........ happy, finally the IPL season is over, uffff it was such a pain, frustrating , it seemed it will never end. Its not like I do not like cricket. Infact at one time I was a big cricket buff, ok that was a century ago, yeah yeah, those were the days when it was just school, & afterwards college, cricket used to be mostly test matches, one day matches were fairly new. We never thought that test matches were kinda dragging on, we followed the game, gave our expert comments, between our friends & family ofcourse.

We had our favorites, I sort of owned Sunny, my friend Pearl likewise owned Kapil, & between us , we shared them too :D. No one was ever allowed to say anything negative about their game. When Sunny played, I was most of the time secured that he will stay on the pitch for atleast two days, so I went about with attending classes, & other stuff along with watching the match or listening to it over the transistor. When he did go out for a duck or ended up getting out early, I had to face huge humilation from my anti Sunny side, especially Pearl. She used to gloat, (atleast I felt she did), though she did agree to the fact that my Sunny was indeed a very good player. Sunny was a slow scorer most of the time you see, so if he went out early that means he left with low scores. Whereas Kapil, he set the stadium on fire, within fifteen to twenty minutes Indian score board used to gallop double triple folds, & excitement, energy used to swell out from the stadium, and every homes, watching the match on their TV sets. Pearl used to just walk out of the class to catch the first bus to go home & catch the match. Yes, some of us had our transistors on in the class in very low volumes. Thats the beauty of college, at the most we shall be asked to get out, which worked in our favor. Besides even the lecturer would be interested to know the scores after all, as long as his/her class is not disturbed. And so Pearl would declare, "excuse me sir/maam, Kapil has come to bat, i have to go". Soon I followed her, & then some more.

Sunny released the book Sunny days, & I had to get it, after all I had to support my Sunny. So I read the book. Today if someone asked me how it was, I would say boring. But at that time it was a question of loyalty. I did fine it boring at times, but i had to read it & finush it, discuss it with my gang, all for the show of solidarity to dear Sunny.

Life was so simple then, a ctricket match means TV the whole day, with neighbours joining in, Mom making goodies to supply us all when we are busy watching the match, keep scores while we take a peek at the bathroom. Nature doesn't wait for any Kapil or Sunny you see :D. When we attended maths classes during our tenth standard, a bus ride from Juhu to Khar, we were constantly in touch with the fellow passenger with a transistor, & he was expected to keep relaying every ball, every over. Ofcourse out teacher at the tution classes was not so entertaining, she would throw us out if she found any transistor in her class, but she did at times announce important bits once in a while. So sweet of her, she knew our SSC results depended a lot on the cricket scores :D.
Sitting back now on my couch i am thinking what made me get so tired of cricket. Have I become old, or just another boring housewife. I don't think either. The answer lies in the game itself. Too much cricket. All the year round thats the only game one hears of, the players never seem to get exhausted of playing, after all they make big money. Looking back at some of them, they rose from dust to riches, money earned through the game, prizes, endorsements, the popularity, media & public attention. Whether they play in every game or in one or two, it doesn't matter, as long as the endorsements keep comming, the media keeps talking, & they continue to get treated like demi Gods, everything is good. The match fixing exposure didn't change things much, even now the same continues. All they have to do is deny, an enquiry is conducted, the matter dies down, some heads get knocked off, that is IF they don't have any lobby to support & bail them out, otherwise due to lack of evidence the matter is closed down.

I also wonder why only the mens cricket matches are given so much of importance, we do have some very good women cricket players, but how many of us have actually heard of them, I just know one Diana Edulji, & thats it, only because womens cricket never ever get that kind of radio or television time for their games. Not just womens cricket, it is the same for very other sport in our country. Hockey, supposed to be our national game, is now reduced to a beggar like state. Same for football. Tenis gets good attention though, compared to them. When we compare the mode of travel between our cricket players & hockey or football players, the cricketeers travel by air, bussiness class, whereas our other sports persons, end up with a train ticket, that too a seconed class. Even when they get the cup for any international tournament, one hardly ever comes to know of it. The media might just give a fleeting mention about the event, with no coverage what so ever of their return to the country with the cup. There are no special coverages, pre & post tournaments, no expert panels & all the other fuss that happens with the cricket tournaments. Why, we even have seperate cricket channels on television, to continue telecasting old matches long after they are done & over with, & they keep getting TRPs too. A cricket world cup gets the players lakhs of rupees as awards from the government & from their respective states, along with more endorsements at even higher prices than what they were getting earlier. I hardly ever come upon any other sports person getting such royal treatment. The cricketeers are treated on par with not just hindi film stars but even Hollywood. I wouldn't be surprised if tomorrow along with the Aishwaryas, Sonams & Dipikas, they too walk the red carpet in the next Cannes film festival. IPL has already pushed them to almost that state. The moolahs that go into the tournament, & the glamour that surrounds it, it all seems more like a film awards night than a match, with half clad girls prancing around in costumes, resembling more of circus performers, & from politicians, bussiness magnets, to film stars, all showering so much of interest, money & time to the IPL, its more a money making party than a game. Not my problem, only why do the other sports in this country not get atleast some of the spotlight they deserve. A recent movie Chakde, made on womens hockey, had a very inspiring song, which is played for cricket related programes on the TV. Im sure with the kind of support cricket has today, some enthusiastic lyrist can write a song especially for the pampered game.

As for TV programes, well that went to the dumps since the world cup & after that IPL, had started. Gone were serials like Modern Family, How I Met Your Mother, whatever popular serials were shown, was put in the late night time slot, & new seasons were kept on hold till the IPL got over. Plus the every evening fight with my huisband for the remote, he invariably switches between the cricket & news channels, & after that dozing before the TV. Now there is a flood of new serials waiting to take over the TRPs. Quite a few hindi serials, Kaun Banega Crorepati. Although I don't watch many hindi serials but I am very happy, Modern Family is finally coming up with the next season, How I Met Your Mother has already started. I just hope 18 To Life is brought down to a watchable time slot, from the late night 11.30 pm slot, & then my evening shall be made. I look forward to more interesting peaceful evenings, happy viewing :D