The festive time is around the corner! The markets have got in a mood to celebrate and the promotion schemes are trying to outdo each other in alluring the customers! The malls and eating places are overflowing with people and that too in times when the dollar and inflation continues to head northwards!
I stop by on a pavement shop in the crowded market where a small child and his sister who both would be less than ten years old ask me to buy the earthen pot called ‘Karwa’ for the forthcoming festival. I am immediately struck with the innocence writ over the faces!
My mind wafts into the memories of a bye gone time! I and my brothers would wait eagerly for the Dusshera holidays and get busy with the onset of autumn break into activities which not many would consider to be sane in today’ world. Building our own effigies of the demons Ravan, Kumbhkaran and Meghnath! We would work with the bamboo canes and old newspapers to give shape to them.
The onset of Navratras would herald the beginning of preparation of sweets for festivals at home. We bought new clothes from the Gandhi Ashram made from homespun cotton. Ramlila would commence on this day, and stage performance of the epic ’Ramayan’ was enacted in the neighborhood. The first day was a day of fast where we would be treated to a variety of different kind which would comprise of anything other than whole grains or their derivatives.
The sixth day marked the commencement of Durga puja mostly celebrated by Bengali community but we participated with equal gusto lining up at pandals from early in the day to watch the statues of Durga astride a lion killing demon Mahishasura being setup! Later in the day we would line up for the prasad( an offering) of Khichdi( preparation of rice and lentil)! In the evening there were ‘Jatras’, musical events, and movies where every Bengali girl and woman would come dressed in finery and new clothes setting the hearts aflutter while the male counterparts dressed in white kurtas and dhoti!
On the eighth day, we would be treated to Semolina Halwa( a sweet), Puri( puffed bread) and Chana(chick peas) with some small coins as gifts not only at home but even by our benevolent neighbors! The saving came in handy to buy the bows and arrows and swords on the tenth day, Dussehara where a big fair would be held in the lawns of adjacent parks !
|Effigies of Ravan ,Kumbhakaran and Meghnath in flames|
The event culminated with the effigies laden with crackers going up in flames with thunderous noise! Our own mini Ravans were alighted when the crowds were returning after attending the bigger spectacle to stop by and watch with curiosity the smaller effigies being set afire! It would be a moment of our triumph to see the swelling crowd watching our own small effigies going up in flames!
In the later years when I got an opportunity to travel around and saw the Garba and Dandiya (dances) where both men and women participate from evening till late night in Gujarat and Maharashtra!
This is the best time of the year when the weather is agreeable and the winter is setting in! A lot has changed over the years but Ramlila , Garbas, Dandiya, the Jatras have become more flamboyant ! The small fairs have been replaced with swankier settings with impromptu dance and fashion shows in malls! The festivities would now continue till Diwali and beyond into the New Year.It is time to celebrate so who cares!!
PS: Images kind courtesy Google
Wishing all the readers a very happy festive time