Margashirsh Sankashta Chaturthi

Margashirsh Sankashta Chaturthi has always stirred an emotional turmoil within me. Well, not always, but precisely for the past 10 years. Because, on this fateful day (according to Hindu Calendar), I lost my dear Myaga to the dreadful Lung Fibrosis.

Myaga, this is how I called my mother. With varied tones depending upon my mood and of course the prevalent atmosphere in which we were breathing. I don’t exactly recall when I shifted from Mummy ga to Myaga. But, ‘Myaga’ became and remained one of the unique aspects of our Mother-Daughter relationship.
Like every mother, Myaga was a perfect blend of all that embodies a great mother; Loving, caring, selfless, generous, protective, and very positive, but very, very naïve. She has done all that she could do for our betterment… Every breath of her life was to see us happy. Being the eldest, I had a special connection with her and shared a lot. If I have to name one single person who understood and supported us (Sreedhar and myself) during all those trying years of Yash’s delicate health issues, it was my Myaga. She was there with us for all our Doctor’s appointments. We have spent innumerable nights walking up and down the room to make Yash fall asleep. I could feel her anguish to see us go through all that. She felt our pain and prayed for Yash’s good health. She cheered the loudest when we moved to Hyderabad when Sreedhar got employed with Microsoft. I remember how she used to break into a lively jig to show her happiness.
So many such memories never leave us. Our parents live on with us as our memories. I remember my parents almost every day and miss them. Like this one incident always crosses my thoughts in varying degrees of intensity on every Sankashti.
Myaga used to fast twice a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Sometimes it would be thrice a week due to Ekadashi or Sankashti. I don’t exactly remember, I must have been 13 or 14. Many times Papa and Mama used to travel for some work. For that entire period, I was in charge of the house and my siblings. Like a good caretaker, I used to cook and clean and do everything for the first few days. And then the bad Boss in me used to take over and start shouting at my siblings to help me. Haha… My siblings tease me to this day about the harassment and torture they underwent, under my regime.
On one such occasion, Myaga called to inform that they were starting from Pune the next day early morning and would reach Hyderabad by dinner time. She also asked me to make Sabudana khichadi as it was her upavas.
I remember starting the day with a lot of enthusiasm, as finally I would be relieved of my “In charge” duties. My happiness doubled, when we welcomed Satish Anna and Swarupa (Paternal cousin’s from Bangalore) early morning. They had come on some industrial tour to Hyderabad and were out all day with their friends.
I started cooking in the evening after Swarupa returned. Thanks to Swarupa’s expertise, we cooked up a storm in the kitchen within no time. I remember the menu so clearly. We had chapatti, stir fry Bhendi, Cucumber Raita, Rice and Rasam. I had confidently told Swarupa not to worry about Sabudana Khichadi when she hesitated to prepare.
I had soaked Sabudana well before in time. Very deftly and confidently, I had made the Khichadi. I remember showing off my culinary expertise at every step. We laid out the table and waited for my parents to arrive. 
Now, You would expect that I would have made the khichadi with about 250 grams of Sabudana…. Right… Read on…
Luckily, my parents arrived much earlier than expected and after freshening up, headed straight for dinner. The 10-hour long drive from Pune to Hyderabad had tired them. So, we started heating the dishes one by one and bringing them to the table with great pride. In the same gusto, my show stopper khichadi was also heated up and brought to the table…
“Arrey Deva” (OMG In Marathi), Myaga let out a big scream when she opened the lid of the khichadi bowl. Who wouldn’t? To see a upvasachi Sabudana khichadi made with a masala Upma recipe, complete with onion, tomatoes, ginger-garlic, mixed veggies with rayi- jeera tadka (tempering). It was all of 1 kg of fusion of Sabudana and Upma. I had made the Upavas dish with all those ingredients which are forbidden on a fasting day. You can very well imagine the whole scene. I was so heartbroken and distraught to see my Myaga break the fast with just a glass of milk and some fruits. I must have created such innumerable problematic situations for her…I wonder now! 
Three decades later,  I make this Sabudana Khichadi with a slight twist by adding the cucumber instead of potato. Wish I could make it for Myaga..
This particular memory evokes a multitude of emotions in me. Sometimes, It makes me laugh thinking about my stupid overconfidence, sometimes I feel terrible for making Myaga go hungry and end her fast with a glass of milk. And, many times I just relive that moment as if Myaga is still around and hear her say “Arrey Deva”. But somewhere, this faint feeling of uneasiness lingers on with a yearning for her physical presence.
I had completely forgotten about this incidence until when we moved to Singapore, just a year after my Myaga passed away. I invariably remember this khichadi incident on Sankashti day. I have done intermittent fasting most of my life. I fasted mostly on Tuesdays and sometimes Thursdays and of course, Shivarathri. But never on a Sankashti, even though my Mom used to. But, I can never observe a very strict fast like my Myaga.
I thought of fasting on Sankashti after seeing all my friends at White Water, Singapore. There is this one large group of girls who used to fast and still do. I remember the whole gang going to different spots of the condo in search of Chandrama…The Sankashti fast has to be broken after offering prayers to Chandrama at moonrise. “Did you spot the moon?…Did anyone?……”, our WhatsApp buzzed till we spotted the moon. And, from that day onwards I have always fasted on every Sankashti Chaturthi.
I am a bag full of emotions, sitting here in our hotel room in Phuket, reminiscing the good, bad and momentous, all that life offers. I am marvelling about how a single day pans out in different ways over the years. Our memory and reaction to the memory of the same day vary from time to time. Not all days are created equal. We grow through what we go through…
Each passing day helps me understand our helplessness in some matters and accept things as they are. Most importantly, this helplessness has not made me bitter but has helped me realize the power of the universal energy, which we call by different names. Whatever little sadhana I do, has given me peace of mind and strength to face all that life offers me daily. And, hence today, I am ever thankful for all of life’s blessings.
On this Margashiesh Sankasht Chaturthi of 2019, we started our day with beautiful Darshan of my favorite Bappa at a Shiva temple in Phuket. Sharing a picture of the same.

Sankashti Chaturthi is an auspicious day dedicated to Lord Ganesha. This day is observed in every lunar month of the Hindu calendar on the fourth day of Krishna Paksha (dark lunar phase or the waning phase). Observing a strict fast from sunrise to moonrise and breaking the fast after offering prayers to Ganapati and moon is known to bestow countless blessings to the devotee. Especially giving him protection from any misfortunes (Sankat).

For those of us who are seeking a scientific, logical explanation for the connection between Ganapati Pooja and protection from misfortune, a whole lot of description is available in Kundalini Yoga Sutras.
According to Kundalini Yoga, the human body receives its subtle cosmic energies from seven chakras that are ruled by different gods. The Root Chakra deals with your physical and material consciousness, how you express yourself in the safety of your environment (what makes you feel safe), and how you choose to protect yourself, your survival skills in the physical body. At a physical level, Mooladhara is associated with the adrenal gland, kidneys, lower section of the spinal column, colon, legs, and bones (including marrow). 
Now, coming to the Adrenal gland, which produces the flight or fight hormones (Adrenaline and noradrenaline) and is needed for our survival and stress-free life.
Ganesha rules Mooladhara Chakra, the Root Chakra. The Ganapati Atharvashirsa mentions a verse: “O Ganesha! You reside at the base of the spine”. Prayers and offerings to Lord Ganesha are known to strengthen our Root Chakra, thereby maintaining and optimal functioning of the adrenal gland. Which in turn helps us to take correct decisions and lead a stress-free, balanced life. This is just a gist about the relationship between Ganapati Sadhana and Mooladhara Chakra. I am wonderstruck to learn about all the scientific explanations our Dharma offers for all the rituals. There is so much to explore and learn from our Sanatana Dharma.

Kalyani Sreedhar Kakade

PS :I wrote this on 15th Dec  2019 (Margashirsh Sankashta Chaturthi) but could not post it on the same day as we had an early morning flight the next day… 
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03, Pausha

Krishna Paksha, Tritiya
2076 Paridhavi, Vikrama Samvata
Margshirsha Sankashta Chaturthi
             Phuket, Thailand

15 December 2019 
Sunday

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