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!!