Drenching Rains, Rumbling Thunders.

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Water puddles, little whirls, plants weighed down by rain, wet flowers–some of the pleasing signs of rain.

Oh. The anxious wait is over.
A warm welcome to you, North East Monsoon!
After days and days of hot sun and humid hours
You are most welcome.

I am grateful you have arrived with rich gifts.
Drenching rains, rumbling thunders,
The occasional lightning flashes,
And the titillating chill breeze.

I am content watching you.
And listening to the thrashing sounds you make,
And touching your cool needle-like waters
As you descend joyfully on all life

Once again, welcome.
May your arrival be auspicious.
A small request to you:
Be bountiful, but calm and gentle.

Leave us your precious waters,
Bless us with full fields and waterways.
As you can see, we are changing.
And are making careful efforts to save your gift.

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“The Blues”

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”.

 

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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

Then why doesn’t ‘Monday morning blues’ indicate happy optimism & energy?

Why doesn’t ‘feeling blue’ mean euphoric & peaceful synergy?

Beats me… (black & blue)

What connotation must I place on this hue?

And if you ever have the blues, you know what to think, don’t you?

 

Nava Ratri – Nine Nights

Permit me to start with a little preamble.

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!

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A few dolls I put up for Golu at my home. Goddess Lakshmi on the left, Mother Earth on the right, a traditional lamp and hand-bell in foreground. (Psst, a secret: I tend to keep my “home-work” to a small scale). A typical Golu is bigger 😁 Photo courtesy: my son, Krishna.

‘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. 

Scintillating Shrine at Srirangam

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The Srirangam Temple. Sri RanganAthar is the prime deity here. 

The picture shows the main edifice or RAja Gopuram that leads to His shrine. Its majesty seems to convey the Supreme’s omnipotence!

The popular saying about Srirangam is: the Lord here has the people of this town enchanted so much so that they schedule their daily lives around the events and festivals in the temple! 

The photograph is from a recent pilgrimage.

Not Your Typical Rainbow. But.

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The setting sun behind a thick cloud-mass scattered into a rainbow. What a lovely splash it produced!

My husband spotted it as we were ambling aimlessly one evening, and we quickly captured it on our respective cameras.

Putting up the unedited photo, because I thought the real colours and dimensions reproduce the vision as it was.

From Chennai outskirts, a couple of weeks back.

Life is made of infinite little equations (A mere Twig is someone’s Treasure)

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A crow, whose activities I observed for a while, before capturing this moment. From my archives, perhaps more than a year old (?)—I mean the archive date, not the crow’s age 🙂 

This assiduous crow rested half-way to its nest after gathering (tearing/breaking it off from a nearby tree) a twig, longer than itself.

As I watched it in action, I was struck by how a mere twig we would chuck away as litter serves as treasure for another creature.

Such innumerable little equations are what make life a miracle, an enigma, something one must marvel at and respect. You agree, surely?

‘Sri Jayanthi’—a festival in India when God enters home and heart

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.

Here are a couple of pictures from my home today.

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Footsteps of Baby Krishna—drawn with rice flour mixed in water
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Delicacies prepared with beaten rice, jaggery, rice flour, pulses flour, ghee, milk etc. Offered during worship to Lord Krishna.