Showing posts with label festival. Show all posts
Showing posts with label festival. Show all posts


Festival of lights

Decorative paper lanterns

Today as we celebrate India’s grand festival of Light signaling triumph over evil after a protracted fight which is marked by lighting of oil based traditional earthen or clay lamps as they shine brightly in each and every home - Be it lowly or mightily from the hut of the poor to the mansion of the rich when good with all its might, leads us from darkness to light. A day when old and young indulge in royal feast on this festival of snacks and sweet.

For one and all we pray gift of light -
Wherever you travel, may a star lead you
The wind be at your back and road rise to meet you
Let God holds you in hollow of his hand.

Wishing you all a very happy, prosperous and safe Diwali


Festivity begins

Idols of Lord Ganesh

Monsoon is about to end. So begins the celebrations and festivals across India. Any Indian festival is incomplete without the typical Indian festivities, the gatherings, celebrations, exchange of sweets and gifts, lots of noise, singing and dancing. Festivals are the celebration of not only togetherness but also being part of the family.

In India, monsoon follows FIFO (first in first out) model so the festivals. As the fields look brilliant with a bountiful harvest; the beautiful landscape of greenery can be seen in its full radiance at this time. Starting with Onam - the harvest festival of Kerala (the southern most state) where monsoon was first to arrive. Almost in same time, in other parts of India month of Shravan is considered to be the holiest month of the year which begins with festival of Naga-Panchami. When each Monday of this month, known as Shravana Somvar, is devoted to the worship of Shiva as this day is sacred to Lord Shiva and is specially observed with austerity. Thus, it marks the begin of festivals one after another.

Basically, festival for Indians means its time to get new clothes, to get their house painted or everything else they asked for or thought of. Time for family get-together where numerous uncles, aunts and grandmas grace their wishes with delight. It is also a time for homecoming for people staying away from the families. Their arrival multiples the joy of the festival several folds. Observing and following the festivals from childhood gets so much in blood that every Indian tries his best to observe the festival in customary way even if they are settled abroad. Thus, passing it from generation to generation.

People of all religions, castes and communities celebrate their festival with equal joy and verve. Peculiarity of this land is where unity had always coexisted with diversity, especially during festivals when people come together to celebrate life’s unlimited joys.

Despite rejoicing and gaiety, thanks to the string of festivals we celebrate in name of numerous Gods and Goddesses other then those anniversaries (birthday-deathday) of great men of India. Thus, providing us with numerous holidays if not “bundh” without longing much for weekends as yet in India the concept of 5 working days is not there in majority of work-place.


O Krishna!!!

Lord krishna

Celebrating the birth anniversary of blue boy with peacock feather in his wreath,
flute in one hand and making efforts to steal pots of butter, butter-milk or dahi (curd); well known for his mischievous acts and playing pranks on gopis (cow herding girls).

Based on his stealing efforts there is a very popular ceremony called dahi-handi celebrated with lot of enthusiasm and glee on this day or on the second day of Janmashtami. It is an enactment of Lord Krishna’s efforts to steal butter from Matka (earthen pot) suspended from the ceiling. It is not the rituals, customs and traditions that change over the time but the celebration styles and perspectives that become contemporary. Now a days this ceremony has taken its shape in form of money making competition participated by various groups “govinda” or “gopalas” of localities. Group which succeds in breaking pot gets hefty rewards.

Dahi Handi is celebrated with fervor, especially in the twin cities of Mathura - Vrindavan, Dwarka and Mumbai. In Mumbai with yelling of ‘Ala re ala, Govinda ala‘ this ceremony cum competition starts. Now, state-government is thinking on projecting this festival in-order to attract tourists. Basically, an earthen pot containing a mixture of milk, dry fruits, ghee is hung around 20-30 feet high in the air with the help of a rope. Enthusiastic young men (now women group), form a human pyramid by standing one on top of the other and tries to break the pot. Onlookers throw waters on the young men in order to prevent them from breaking the pot. Devotees believe that the broken pieces of earthen pot will keep away negative powers from their homes. Thus, rejoicing in lords glory…. Bol Hari !!!


Thread of love

Rakhi - Raksha Bhandan

It is a celebration of unconditional love between brother and sister in Hindu culture. This age old celebration tries to remind us of the beautiful and unique relationship between brother and sister celebrated since time immemorial. Sisters tie sacred threads on brothers wrist asking for longer & healthy life of brother and brothers in-turn vow to protect (to save her- Raksha) their sisters from any unpleasant situations of life on this day. It is not necessary that the rakhi can be given only to a blood brother but any male can be “adopted” as a brother by tying a rakhi to a cousin or friends.

Be it the people in echelons of power, the inmates of the much talked about Tihar Jail, the city’s high profile glitterati, the Generation X crowd or poor - Rakhi is celebrated by all with same faith and traditional gaiety. It is a festival that binds the whole Indian family living in India or abroad together. The joyous meeting, the rare family get-together, that erstwhile feeling of brotherhood and sisterhood calls for a massive celebration in todays busy life.

Time old symbol of love and faith, Rakhi thread has changed tremendously in its appearance and outlook in present times. Besides being an expression of love, Rakhi today, is a piece of art and a style statement for the fashion conscious generation of today. People of amchi Mumbai celebrate today Raksha Bandhan in style and festive grace.


Exploring…Bits n Bites

Singapore has so many ethnic cuisines to offer for its natives that you have to stay long to explore all the corners. Food is highly influenced by Malaysian, Chinese, Indonesian and none other but South Indian too. Even annually Singapore government organizes “Singapore Food Festival” in month of July. I was lucky enough to get a glimpse of it. When it is a matter of food I consider myself to be “not a typical desi” sticking only to one variety of food. I love to explore as much as I can. But of course at same time I try to avoid certain meat other then duck, chicken, turkey,lamb or goat. So, after that only sausages or bacons can make way to my plate with choice rest I do not like to taste due to various personal reasons. Well, please do not be surprised as I went very specific with meat. As, according to French there are so many delicious delicacies to taste ; that do not think only about Chinese or Korean if you are a vegetarian.

Red chili Chicken

Recently, I had Red chilli chicken from a western wok at my lunch. For lunch, we have a food court opposite to our Singapore office. It is not specific to any company; it seems there are few others nearby as well. Variation ranges from Indian to Japanese to even cross-cultural fusion. So a lot to choose from if you can figure out. I am not sure sometime what they have as main-ingredients. But this dish was simple to order as it said red chili chicken with rice. But, astonishing part was the numbers of chilies it had. At first, I was bit skeptical about its spiciness with so many chillies in plate but later I took a bite of one of those and found they are not as hot as they looked. A Good experience indeed:D.

fish curry

The second picture of Fish curry is from a food court eatery; the curry was excellent… very close to Indian kind but then the down hill journey started for me. They said - you can choose two veggies as side dish and I opted for Spinach and peanut sauce. I specifically asked about the Peanut one as they mentioned it will be melange of sweet and sour savour. When I was ordering my plate it looked like that sauce had some sprouts but thank god I am not a vegetarian - infact it had some dry fish. But, as a whole this side-dish was a big thumbs down which changed my taste-buds …yuck!!! :.(



Guess ??

Looking at those plastic chairs brought back my memories of Anandamela (a Bengali children magazine - published fortnight. They used to have picture of common objects in obscure way and you have to identify the same. I know this picture is a far cry from those -any way some sweet memories to reflect upon from fourth floor while taking this picture.

In India celebration is part of life whether big or small ones. But not like west, where you have Christmas as the main one. Here some community celebrates one festival in a BIG way while others something else. You are always between BIG parties of communities. You can not miss them - the reason is very simple … bright choice of colors which catches your attention even if you don’t want which is once again different from west where black and white and sometimes red is primary colour of their clothing.

celebrations at office

Similarly, there are some big or small events at work also; not as fancy as of those year-end parties I attended abroad. As Indian economies and companies enjoy the Bull Run these celebrations got few extra feathers on their wings.

These two pictures were taken at PCP, (Peninsula Corporate Park) lower Parel. This used to be a big cotton mill before. Cotton Mills were moved out of Mumbai in 70ties after the long and famous strike by Shakti-Samanth. Now all those mills area are getting converted into posh malls, offices or residential apartments.

If I am not wrong it was party thrown out by Diageo – the big liquor company (Johnny Walker, Smirnoff and other big labels).


W questions of Indian life

In India, life of middle class is different compared to occidental culture. There is a vast population of middle class in India and within middle class there are three distinct sub-divisions - “lower middleclass”, “middle middleclass” and “higher middleclass”. Comprehending the complexities of Indian society is not that easy. Though there are variations in socio-economic life within these three but one thing is common between all of them - everyone is curious to know whatz happening in others life despite of their own busy life. And they do pose what, why, when and where to quench their thirst.

Curiosity starts with birth of a child and has no ends. The initial round of questions like does your child walks; has he started speaking, whom does he resembles? As he/she grows a bit question changes its color – has he started going to school, then next question will be in a trice how he is in studies; does he comes first in class (as if all parents were merit holders). Apart from that of course there are questions related to his health, extra curricular activities which he has been thrown into.

Few more years, child reaches his teenage where he is being again quized with different set of questions how much percentage did he scored in high school and competitive exams; this is the most difficult phase as some of those questions remains hunted in the young mind for rest of his/her life.

Now related to the “stream” he has opted for; child is categorized - if science particularly with maths then good considered having bright future in engineering if with bio then mediocre. Next in line comes commerce, then with arts and last but not least home science and others where student is considered good for nothing no matter even if he has got gold medal.

As soon as he/she enters the new stage of his/her life next questions are already ready to be asked - does he have a job? If yes, where? If it’s abroad then– oh now you will have dollars /euros/pounds in your bank no matter if he/she is going to Timbuktu. What do you have to worry in life for? (as you have a kid abroad). No need to worry about money? Your kid is gonna be an NRI soon.

Now as child reaches marriageable age particularly a girl series of question are asked in a manner that it becomes nightmare for both parents and child. There will be proposal for alliance from any one and as a girl’s parent you are supposed to be very gentle and calm (no matter how much they pinch you). Once he/she gets married the very next instantaneous query has to be what about family planning; are not you going to have baby as if others are going to look after the baby. Once the baby arrives to this wonderful earth ……life cycle of same set of questions repeats endlessly.

Why we can’t refrain ourselves from asking these questions to others which might hurt someone unintentionally. Really, certain times its so disgusting. Or are these questions which keep us binding with each-other to some extent where millions of people live amidst cacophony--roaring vehicles, surging crowds, jammed apartment buildings, busy commercial establishments, loudspeakers, blaring movie tunes--while breathing the poisons of industrial and automotive pollution.

Are these those questions where Indians believe in sharing happiness and sorrow; where a festival or a celebration is never constrained to a family or home. Or is it an answer to beauty of Indians lies in spirit of tolerance.


Wednesday- Best of all weekdays

From Sunday evening I keep waiting for middle of week i.e., Wednesday as next weekend looks too far to me. If there is any special occasion planned for Wednesday evening it really cheers me up. On last Wednesday it just happened that Pamela called me at work saying that she is going to come to VT (CST) all by herself boarding a local train (…..for first time).Thanks to Meher for encouraging Pamela to come over in the first place.

Well, Pamela did panic at last part of her journey as she was all alone in the wagon with two transsexuals sitting beside her. Moreover, on not seeing me at VT she vented her anger on me over phone as I was to meet her there. Its true, that I somehow always get entangled in work or some urgent phone call when ever I need to be on time to meet her. On top of it her phone battery was also running low. Somehow we did meet up without much problem and I am not that good writer to juice up that meeting. Anywayz, as per plan we met Meher in front of GPO and headed to Kala- Ghoda via Cab.


Kala-Ghoda is crescent shaped plaza nestled around an array of heritage buildings such as Elephantine College, the David Sassoon Library and the Watson Hotel. It is named after a statue which is long gone now of King Edward VII astride a black horse. This plaza is around South Mumbai which is fast emerging as the arts hub of downtown Bombay. Meher being born and brought up in south Mumbai she knows streets like back side of her palm. After walking across all those gorgeous office buildings from bygone years we reached Horniman Circle Park where French rock band “Merzhin” was to perform for the Kala-Ghoda festival organized by Alliance Française, Mumbai.. This festival actually takes place inorder to improve the existing infrastructure of the area and giving it a distinct identity as Mumbai's art district. And this festival basically brings together work from various fields like arts, theater, film, music, literature, dance, heritage walks, exhibitions, children's events offering an interactive cultural mélange for Mumbaites.

Anyway, the introduction from the Director was very "French" as he mentioned if you want a good life learn French. What a snobbish French way of welcoming audience. Point to be shared is - a very different experience as we enjoyed the concert sitting on chairs ;) ...hmm a rock concert and sitting!!! The band was good and they tried their best to get people rocking but it did not work after all Indians..... that too on Wednesday evening.

Spanish lamb

From there after an hour we left for dinner walking two blocks we found ourself in front of Café Mocambo. It has two levels of seating.; the interior is decent but not stunning. The menu is mostly continental and parsi with lots of Pasta dishes to choose from. Other then that lamb, steak and lasagna are also available. They have standard fridge displaying yummy desserts - really yummy! Many phirangis also hang out here.


London 5days (July 29th - Aug 3rd)

We went to London the proper Bilayet (Foreign land -as mentioned by S.Rushdie ) for five days. We stayed as guest of Sampath, at his home bit outside of London. The trip would not have been so pleasant and memorable without his help and warm hospitality.

We reached around noon at Waterloo station by Eurostar. After keeping our luggage at cloak room we went straight to London Eye. It was a nice start to see all the monuments of London from birds view. After that we crossed-river Thames and went in front of Big Ben, Parliament and West Minister abbey. We walked through St. James Park and reached Buckingham Palace. On the way back towards 10,Downing St. we walked along the Mall. After that we walked to Piccadilly Square when it started to rain. It was a nice little welcome rain of London. At the end of the day we walked back to Waterloo. It might sound a lot of walk around Central London but, we did not found this walk as too much.

After finishing some top sights, we went to Windsor Castle very next day. We spend almost the first part of our day there. Then again we returned to central London to visit Tower of London. If you are interested in seeing all those big and famous diamonds you cannot miss this especially KOHINOOR. Around 3PM we went to HMS Belfast -II a WW ship turned into a museum now. It is just across the river. The walk along the river and London Bridge was worth as you get a good view of Tower Bridge. Most people confuse that with famous London Bridge but in-fact London-Bridge is a dull one.  After that we went to London Aquarium on the way we saw St. Paul Cathedral and traveled on those double-decker bus. In the evening, we met Avijit. We were meeting after 8 years after our college days.

After two hectic days of sight seeing we slowed down and started with Madam Tussaud. Thanks again to Sampath for advance tickets as that saved at least 40 minutes of long queue. After that we went to British museum. In the evening we were guest of Purbayan's concert at Royal festival Hall. He along with Kumar Basu made a very wonderful evening of Indian classical music in Sitar & Tabla.

4th Day we were really slow we reached London quite late spend around 2 hours with Purbayan. We went to Shri Swaminarayana temple in the afternoon and then went to Tate Modern. It's a great place to be if you happen to appreciate modern Arts. I personally do not understand much unless the art is described; there are lots of collections of Picasso to Pollock.

Saturday Sampath drove us to Stonehenge and Bath. They have respectively history of 5000's and 2000's years. What makes Stonehenge so special that there is no source of such big stones around. So, how those civilization people were able to carry those big stones and place them in the way they are today -its still a mystery to modern man. Similarly, for Bath famous for its Roman bath- surrounded by seven hills, the River Avon running through the heart of the City and the towers of Bath Abbey combine to create a wonderful first impression along with its hot springs.

Sunday we had our train to Paris, but before that we went to Greenwich. The trip was not long but gives a great view of London city. That is all for now with MIND THE GAP and Chicken Tikka Masala .

Day 3 - Rishikesh

The weather looked gloomy with an overcast sky as we woke up. We had breakfast at the hotel and decided to visit Rishikesh today. Again we...