This is a photograph I took with my mobile yesterday on an afternoon beach-walk. Location: ThiruvotriyUr, North Chennai.
The blues of the sky and the sea were simply delightful. And I and my family weren’t alone in enjoying them. Incidentally, that stray boy over there is wearing blue!
The beautiful rocky natural ‘wharf’ just upped the loveliness quotient several notches. But, I hadn’t the nerve to cross all that jagged rock on to the ocean front. However, couldn’t resist going on the beach and standing in the waves!
Well, all that bluuuue made me think of a poem I had written many months ago about what it could mean to “Have the Blues”.
Having the blues…
How many blues, how many hues?
The sky’s blues bring on bright & sparkling days
The mountain blue shows majestic mystery, hard to erase
The blue in water is a reminder of cool tranquility & abundance
The blues of flora & fauna show up in delightful incandascence
My aunt called me yesterday and tasked me with jotting down a few points about the (ongoing) Navaratri festival. A 10-year-old in her neighbourhood had sought her help to write an essay for school. And like a good aunt, she palmed it off on me!
When I finished writing, it had turned into an essay, and it seemed like a good idea to share it with you all. Here is a first-hand simple narrative of a tiny portion of Indian culture. Please read and enjoy it like a child!
‘Nava Ratri’ means ‘Nine Nights’. Navaratri is a special time to acknowledge and show respect for “Woman Power” through celebration and worship. The festival is also called Dashera.
Navaratri is an important festival of India. It is celebrated over nine days. The festival falls in the autumn season, during September-October.
Here is the significance of Navaratri, as I make it out:
The first three days of Navaratri celebrate woman as ‘Goddess Shakthi.’ They highlight woman’s physical and mental strength to deal with difficulties.
The second three days worship woman as ‘Goddess Lakshmi.’ They showcase woman’s ability to generate, protect, and share wealth.
The third three days worship woman as ‘Goddess Saraswathi.’ They indicate her capacity for acquiring and propagating knowledge and wisdom.
In different states of India, Navaratri is celebrated in different ways. In Tamilnadu, people keep ‘Golu’, that is, they arrange and display dolls on ‘steps’ inside their homes. They may also build small model ‘parks’ around many themes. Example: ‘Farming scene’ ‘City scene’ ‘Zoo’ etc.
On each day during Navaratri, people make special food items such as “sundal”, a savoury food and “paayasam”, a sweet food. Families and friends visit one another. As this is a ‘night’ festival, people prefer to visit in the evenings, when lamps are lit. The guests admire the doll shows and also enjoy eating food their hosts give. Those who can, sing prayer songs in front of the ‘Golu’.
People also draw ‘kolam’ or ‘rangoli’. These are simple or colourful designs made on floors inside the home or at the home’s entrance. People also light oil lamps and pray to God. They keep flowers, fruits, coconuts etc. as offering during worship. Later, they distribute these as ‘prasaadham’ or ‘food from God’. People also exchange gifts like clothes, along with ‘auspicious’ items like betel leaves, betel nut, turmeric etc.
Elders dress up their children, especially little girls, in nice clothes and jewellery. The little ones go to neighbouring homes and invite the members there to visit their ‘Golu’. The kids get small treats like a sweet or a fruit for their effort.
On the ninth day, people celebrate ‘Saraswathi Pooja’ (FYI: it’s today). They place books, pens, musical instruments, tools like hammers, devices like computers etc. in front of Goddess Saraswathi. They decorate the items with little flowers as thanks for their help. They also pray for more knowledge and good and sharp minds.
In India, people show respect not only for people, animals, and plants, but also for things. Because, everything goes to support and help us in our daily lives. Also, Indians believe that God lives in everything.
The tenth day after Navaratri is called ‘Vijaya Dasami’. It means Tenth Day of Victory. After the nine days of celebration and worship, people believe whatever they do on the tenth day becomes successful. They study, sing, plough, paint, dance, work etc. to gain victory during the coming year.
Thus, Navaratri is a time of joy, sharing, gratitude and prayers. It is a time to acknowledge, celebrate and respect the glory of Woman. It is a wonderful tradition and part of rich and meaningful Indian culture.
Today is Sri Jayanthi. The day when Lord Krishna appeared on earth.
In India, traditionally, we celebrate this festival in a unique way. We ‘draw’ Baby Krishna’s footsteps from our doors into our place of prayer/ worship. The idea is: divinity enters our residence, more importantly, our hearts.
We also prepare many delicacies and offer to Krishna and celebrate His birth, just like we might celebrate a child’s birthday in the family (incidentally, my son was born on this day and naturally has been named Krishna).
In my opinion, such celebrations are reminders of our connect with divinity.