Hi friends, I hope you all are having a super duper hectic and a happy Navaratri fortnight…. Like every year, I have had a great time Golu hopping and attending dandiya nights. So, with the Dasara festivities ending tomorrow with Dashami, I thought….. I will quickly log in, post some pictures of my Navarathri week, wish you all a Happy Dussehra, and disappear.
With the other two occupants of the house happily sleeping, sitting in the living room I opened my laptop to complete my pre-decided idea for the October blog. Looking out from the window, I see most of the lights have been put off, to catch up for tomorrow’s morning office rush. There is a calming and soothing silence all around me with a mild breeze flowing into the room. After all the hectic activity of a week, I seem to be enjoying this solitude.
Pushing away these soothing, restful thoughts, I force myself to scan and review the pictures to upload. As I’m doing it, I am pulled into a whirlwind of memories of Dussehra celebrations. Sometimes I wonder…. Our mind is such a weird organization. Because it functions with such mind-blowing precision (well…most of the time) but when it comes to memories it goes berserk…Totally out of control! We seldom stop with one memory….
My oldest memories of the Dussehra festival are of my आजोळ ( maternal grandparent’s home) on Junglee Maharaj Road, Pune. I have a very scattered but very strong memory about the Ghatasthapana Puja my granny used to do every year during Sharadiya Navarathri. I was fortunate to have been part of the Devi Puja at least a few of the times, as Hyderabad schools used to have 10 days of Dussehrara holidays. I was too little to bother about all the puja details. But some flashes of images have remained with me. I still remember the Puja room with its teakwood puja mandir. The mandir had a two feet beautiful Dattaguru idol encased in a decorated glass frame on top and had five steps below. The sparkling clean silver idols of various deities were arranged meticulously in a particular order and decorated with flowers. I used to be so excited to see the navdhanayans sowed on the Ashwin Shukla Pratipada (first day of Navarathri) slowly sprout and grow few mms each day. Every morning, I used to check ‘how the little patch of greenery was doing?’. Its growth and its delicate greenery shining in the Akhand Jyoth gave me a strange kind of unexplainable happiness and optimism. The morning and evening Arati time was just magical. I so vividly remember the arati my granny use to sing. My Granny, not a conventional beauty but was very regal. The little diamond nose pin and the Maharatrian kudya shone brightly in the light of the arati flames and so did her flawless fair skin. Her closed eyes told unimaginable stories of bliss as she ended her arati with a very personal note to The Adishakti…. ’आई अंबिके तु माझे रक्षण कर … आई रेणुके तु माझे रक्षण कर ’…(seeking protection). These words still reverberate in my ears…
I don’t remember when and why I stopped going to my grandparent\’s home during Navaratri, thus missing out on these special Navarathri celebrations. Nonetheless, we had equally exciting and happening Dussehra celebrations at our Hyderabad home. I remember the elaborate Saraswathi Puja and Aayudh puja on Navami in tune with the southern customs. But the fun began much before that. Exactly after Mahalaya Amavasya, when every nook and corner of the house was first dusted and then washed by using a big water hose. Playing and deliberately slipping in the water-filled rooms was the highlight while all the elders scrubbed and washed the floors clean. Every item was washed and cleaned. And, on the day of Aauydha Puja, all the cleaned Astra- Shastras were smeared with Sandalwood paste, turmeric vermilion. My father’s two Double Barrel guns, one acquired and another inherited from my maternal great-grandpa, along with their cartridges hogged all the limelight as they guarded the makeshift puja alter. Along with the books and all the other tools used every day (from typewriter to the smallest needle) jostled for space as the presiding deities (Lord Ganesha, Lakshmi, and Saraswati…) smiled and showered their blessings sitting in the center of the arrangement. Outside, in our front yard, all the garden tools and all the vehicles from the smallest tricycle to the majestic, iconic Ambassador were lined up after being washed and decorated. After the pooja, the vehicles were moved just so much as to crush the lemons placed under each tire. All these rituals are unique features of Hinduism. These simple rituals encourage us to see divinity in everything, even the inanimate things which we use every day. This day the Astra-Shastras are given full rest, thus acknowledging their importance in our lives. The Dussehra celebrations used to end, the next day with Dashami Puja and the exchange of Shami/ aptyachi pane by saying ‘सोने घ्या आणि सोन्या सारखे रहा ‘ (meaning Take gold and be like gold).
Another, very profound memory I have is that of Vijayadashmi celebrations at Yash’s school in Hyderabad. Before we moved to Singapore, Yash used to attend a special school in Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad. All the kiddos had made an effigy of Ravana …Of course under the guidance of a very able art teacher and lots of help from all the eager Moms. They had tried to help glue Ravana’s arms or paint Ravana’s face depending upon how much their muscles cooperated and neurons coordinated. The ablest of the group was chosen to kill Ravana on Vijayadashami day. It was a perfect amalgamation of festive celebration and the highest level of sensory integration for a child, who is left out of most of the activities because of his disability. To this date, this remains my best Dussehra celebration, when Yash’s involvement soothed my heart and soul.
Sadly, I do not have any pictures of these festivities…
Hmmm… Oh, these memories!!!…. One can surf these waves of memories into perpetuity!!
And before I hope on to the next wave …Lemme do the stuff, for which I was here…
So, here are some of the pictures of the week that was…
Like every year my lovely, lovely panchkanyas from White Water Family performed at Dandiya night, Pasir Ris Community Center. I have seen my darlings perform since 2015 and every year they outdo themselves. Yes, and why not? As they put in a lot of time and effort, right from choreographing, to the selection of costumes and props to put up this show. I absolutely love their enthusiasm and passion. Here is a short clip of their awesome performance. Please click on the link 👇to watch the video
Though I was tempted to advise the organizer Leh…it’s Dandiya Lah, not Dhandiya Mah!!!
Sharing some backstage, pre-performance pictures of the girls. My awkward posture says it all about my dancing skills…haha…My dance moves are so horrible that it looks like I’m practicing some clumsy form of Tai Chi while everybody around me is energetically thumping the floor with the most innovative moves to the beats of dhol and dandiya. But, what the heck… Who cares as long as I’m having fun!
Whether one is bowing to the feminine energy of Goddess Mahisasurmardini or rejoicing the end of evil Ravana at the hands of Lord Rama, we are celebrating the victory of good over evil.
I’m signing off with a sincere wish for a happy and beautiful Dussehra. May all our vices Kama (lust), Krodha (anger), Lobha (greed), Moha (attachment), Madha (arrogance), Matsarya (hatred and jealousy), Manas (mind), Buddhi (intellect), Chitta (consciousness) and ahamkara (ego) be destroyed just like the ten heads of Ravana. May the good always win over evil. May the light always prevail over darkness. May we all be blessed with the strength of Maa Durga and the benevolence of Lord Rama.
Jai Mata Di!
Siyavar Ramchandraji ki Jai!
Pawan Putra Hanuman ki Jai!
Kalyani Sreedhar Kakade