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Celebrating festivals …celebrating life!

img1Celebrating festivals …celebrating life!

The Indian calendar is always bubbling with festivals. So many reasons and so many seasons to celebrate, is it not!!Holi, Eid, Navratri, Diwali, Sankranti etc. are some of the prominently celebrated Indian festivals. Festivals indeed provide an occasion to rejoice, join together and celebrate.

img2The festive season was in full swing and Kripa, my best friend had invited me and some other friends and relatives to her house today. Meena aunty, Kripa’s mother wanted her to take over the arrangements for this year’ s Navratri celebrations. I was waiting for the evening to arrive- I had heard all about the famous ‘Golu’ and was looking forward to seeing it. Last week I had had a chance to see the dolls in their cardboard boxes, waiting to be arranged on shelves by Kripa and her family. Her father had fitted a shelf to keep all the dolls on display.

The evening arrived andI went there a little early to help her with the arrangements. When I reached her house, Kripa was busy with her sister Shilpa at the entranceway creating a beautiful rangoli design using a medley of colours. The colours and the glitter sprinkled on them brightened an otherwise sober entranceway.I went into her house and waited for her to join me.I was amazed by the collection of dolls which she possessed and the dolls were so cute sitting on the shelves in rows. Her brother Tarun was busy fixing the serial lights on the shelves. This was the first time I was seeing a ‘Golu’ –thanks to the housing society in which I stay. Our society endorses all cultures and all communities join together and celebrate festivals.

img3An assortment of smells greeted me as I walked into the kitchen to greet Meena aunty.

“Hello aunty, what’s cooking ?” .

“Come in, Seema, where is your mother?”

“She will join us in a little while aunty.”

I watched her as she simultaneously madesundal, sheera and kheer. How could anyone manage making 3 dishes simultaneously, I completely failed to understand!!Kripa joined me just then and we both tookover the sundal making activity –blending coconut with chillies, salt and herbs and mixing it with soaked and cooked chickpeas.

img4The tadka of oil with mustard and asafoetida completed the dish! Ta-dah! The most popular dish of the evening was ready.Shilpa helped aunty with the other dishes. We placed generous portions of all three dishes in areca nut plates to serve the guests, after offering to the Gods.

As the evening set in, the guests arrived one by one-some in kanjeevarams, some in ghagras and some in beautiful benarasi silks. That was the best part of the festive season. Dressing up!Kripa and Shilpa wore the traditional sari and welcomed all the guests with haldi and kumkum. Some guests followed the south tradition and sang devotional songs.The ‘Golu’ itself looked splendid , the serial lights spreading a warm glow on the dolls. I had lived in Gujarat for the last 12 years and this was the first time I had a chance to observe the traditions of another culture-and I was loving it!! The traditional ‘tambool’-betel leaves and nuts along with coconut and bananas was given to all the guests. Kripa had made some pretty bags made of handmade paper into which she put all this along with the Prasad and haldi kumkum for the guests.

img5After the last of the guests left for the day and after me and my mother also received our exciting tamboolams, Meena aunty took an arathi for all the idols placed in the Golu. The fun for the day however, was not yet over. We still had to go to the community hall in our society to participate in the dandiya performances. Kripa, Shilpa and the rest of our group had been practising since the last two weeks and we were waiting to perform.

The festival season inevitably brings together all communities. When we arrived at the community hall, pockets of men and women were already enjoying the music and dance. It was a magical two hours as we danced and danced. How our feet ached and oh! How lovely it was all!!

Festivals are indeed an occasion to catch up with near and dear ones. It is the time for us to teach our little ones that it is important to involve and celebrate festivals and to embrace the traditions of all communities. Involve the little ones to make rangolis, to paint diyas, to prepare simple dishes and any other activities. Put them on display at prominent locations in your house-children will love that!!

A healthy ‘students and examinations’ mantra!

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A healthy ‘students and examinations’ mantra!

Suman was getting very nervous. In exactly one month her exams were starting. Having decided to use her sister’s notes for studying, she pulled out her sister Krithi’s books and piled them on her desk. “Let me start with English she thought”, she thought and opened her sister’s notes. She found neatly filled pages of writing staring at her. “How does she manage it!”, Suman thought to herself. Her sister was a model student-always calm before exams, confident about her preparations, never struggling in the last minute and last but not the least, scoring well!! Suman bent to pick up two sheets which had fallen from Krithi’s books. Hoping to discover some top secret, Suman excitedly opened them only to find a neatly drawn study timetable on one sheet and something like a “to –do” list on the other. This is how the timetable looked like for Saturday-

Time To do
7:00-8:00 am Morning time to myself
8:00- 8:45 am Math
8:45-9:30 am TV break
9:30-10:30 am EVS
10.30-11.00 am Read books
11.00-12:00 noon English
12:00-2:00 pm Break for lunch, clean room

…..and so on for the entire day.The day was planned out in an organized manner.

The to-do list had the following written out in bold print by her sister:

a) AVOID LAST MINUTE PREPARATIONS.
( I get to read my book in the last minute then )
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b) PLAN A DAILY TIMETABLE WITH TIME SPREAD OUT AMONG ALL SUBJECTS (Do it!! It is easier than worrying at the last moment!) img3
c) DO NOT FEAR!! It is a waste of time!! img4
d) IMPORTANT- PACK COMPASS KIT FOR MATH EXAM. img5
e) THURSDAY- WORK ON PREVIOUS YEAR PAPERS

…..and that was NOT A to-do list realized Suman. It was a carefully thought out study plan.“Suman!Suman!”, she heard her friends calling for her and hurriedly put away the sheets and ran out to play.

A week later and still closer to exams, Suman decided to take desperate measures. She went to her sister and knocked the door. “Didi, I need your help.” Krithi who knew her little sister’s situation, calmly asked “You want me to help you with your studies, is it not?”

“Yes please didi, exams are in three weeks time and I feel very nervous. I saw your study timetable and will you help me make one for myself? But I want more breaks…”

Krithi proceeded to explain to her little sister how each student is different and how we have to decide a method of study that will suit us the best. Time management is the key she explained.

“Didi, how do you manage your studies so well? AND you are always so calm before exams too…”

“Well Suman,for starters, I never managed so well before too, till Kajal teacher taught me the ways to handle studies.You must also know that exams are no reason for you to be afraid. All that is required is good planning. If you have observed my pattern of studying, you would have seen that I do a little bit of studies every day. It would also be a good idea to (ahem) clean your room especially your study space, before you sit to study, you know. ”

Krithi encouraged Suman to make a timetable for herself, planning for all subjects while providing ample break time.

“There, now all you need to do is…..follow this study plan for the next three weeks!”

Suman decided to try out her sister’s plan this time and…..she found it worked. One week before her exams and she felt more confident about her studies than ever before. It was a huge relief. Her exams went smoothly.

After her last exam, “Thank you didi, I could not have managed without your help this time.”

“Suman, next time you need to be better prepared. You know… Kajal teacher gave me a no-fail study plan. Firstly-do not keep anything for the last minute, then…..”

Before Krithi could complete her sentence, Suman chimed in “Oh yes I know that! I found that sheet in your book Didi and it is now in my table!! It is what I intend to follow from the coming term.”

“Ohhh! You could have at least asked me before you took it, naughty girl!”