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Pandigai Naal...festival Day...normal Day

Discussion in 'Snippets of Life (Non-Fiction)' started by peartree, Sep 14, 2018.

  1. peartree

    peartree Finest Post Winner

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    The eyes flutter open just at the exact same moment the alarm goes off, a quick glance outside and it is still dark. There is no temptation to hit snooze and go back to sleep, as is the routine, because it is after all "pandigai-naal" (festival day), a special day! The kids had been prepped since a week, that Thursday was "pillayar umaachi"'s (child speak for Lord Ganesha) birthday and that everyone should wake up early to do Pooja to wish umaachi happy birthday before going off to school. The prep talk was meant as much for the husband as it was for the kids.

    As I am standing over the stove mixing kozhakattai maavu (modak dough), with my freshly washed hair tied up covered in a white towel, I open the kitchen window to let the cool air in, and it is still dark outside. I have my phone softly playing

    "Sukha Karta, Dukha Harta
    vaarta vighnachi
    Nurvi purvi prem
    krupa jayachi"

    in Lata Mangeshkar's sweet voice. I am suddenly consumed by this wave of nostalgia and longing, thinking about my childhood days in Mylapore, when the house would already be abuzz with activity. My mom, fresh and beautiful, hunched over the stove. My dad stringing mango leaves and hanging them out at the door in a clean white veshti, and my sister and I waiting patiently to get instructions from my mom to make the dough cups for the modak. The air is festive, and the cacophony of the cassette player playing the "Aarti Ganpatichi" album, the cooker going off, with something sizzling on the pan on the side, and the TV blaring on another side with the Ganesh Charurthi special programs.

    I am broken out of this reverie when my husband walks out, raises an eyebrow to acknowledge me and proceeds to pull a cup out of the cabinet to microwave for his coffee. I try to get his attention from his phone to point to the filter coffee decoction and milk I have boiled, because festival days call for special things, even coffee. He is completely oblivious until he has heated up the milk and his instant coffee and looks up to find me frowning at him. He scurries off to the bathroom to shower because I had instructed him to not touch anything in the kitchen until he had showered the previous day! The kids are still asleep and my longing for the festive atmosphere at my childhood home returns.

    My 8 yr old saunters into the kitchen with a "good morning amma" and I reflexively move away from her, asking her to go shower first. She looks confused for a second. My husband is back in the meantime and hurries her into the bathroom, simultaneously trying to wake my 3 yr old up, saying they were going to be late for school. The normality of it all annoys me. It annoys me that he gives school as the reason to wake her up instead of telling her it is umaachi's birthday. I frown to myself and continue on with the task of filling the sweet modaks. The 8 yr old is all dressed for school and is asking where her morning cereal is, and my husband is, as usual struggling to find something the 3 yr old is ready to wear for school. No one but me seems to realize that today is not like other days, it is a festival day, and these little things should not matter. But no one else seems to note that. As I am decorating the altar with the flowers I had my daughter bring from our garden, I can't help feel irritated to see my daughters going about the usual morning routine of eating their cereal and my husband packing their lunches while chatting about something irrelevant.

    The prayers are all finally done, with the husband and the kids all standing around impatiently. I quickly put a hand on each of them, alternating between touching their faces and the flame from the camphor burning on the plate in my hand. I hurry to the kitchen to pop a kozhakattai of each variety - sweet and savory, into their mouths while my husband is collecting the keys, the ID etc., like a usual day. As I watch my kids run to the car, I find a lump forming in my throat, thinking what the future will be like. Thinking that this will probably be the last of generations that will find special meaning in a festival, probably be the last generation that will believe.

    Just as the tears are threatening to spill out, I see the 8 yr old rushing back up the drive way, hurriedly untying her shoes. I glance around the kitchen to see what she forgot to take, and just as I am getting ready to ask her what happened, she comes in, kneels at the little altar specially made for our beloved Pillayar umaachi, mutters a slokam with closed eyes, and does a namaskaram. Spontaneously, without prompting. She pops another modak into her mouth and rushes out, careful not to step on the rangoli adorning the outside of my home, while my husband is gesturing at her to hurry up.

    I glance outside and there is daylight. The lump in my throat has vanished and my tears just stay at the corner of eyes. My heart is light as I look at my daughters drive off with the husband to tackle the day. I spend an additional minute looking at the Ganesha, looking resplendent and beautiful with fresh flowers and the fragrance of agarbathi hanging around. As I get ready to tackle my own normal day, the playlist from my phone has ended and is repeating the Aarthi again....


    "Sukha Karta, Dukha Harta
    vaarta vighnachi
    Nurvi purvi prem
    krupa jayachi"

    "Bestower of happiness, destroyer of sorrow
    Remover of Obstacles
    Giver of love in the form of abundant blessings"

    Indeed. Happy Ganesh chaturthi, all.
     
  2. MalStrom

    MalStrom Platinum IL'ite

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    What a lovely write-up, perfectly capturing the essence of a festival celebrated in a faraway land. As the years on the calendar of life grow so does our nostalgia for the simple pleasures we took for granted and are now slipping through our hands like fine sand.
     
  3. KrishnaPriya3

    KrishnaPriya3 Silver IL'ite

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    Wow! I just loved your well narrated write up and it brings back my nostalgic moments. Living faraway from homeland I always feel a little disappointment on festival days. Have been trying to hold and pass speciality of festival days to next generation.
    Happy Ganesh Chatirdhi to you and your family! Loved the cute gesture of your elder one.
     
  4. shravs3

    shravs3 IL Hall of Fame

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    Felt very nostalgic after reading this!
    Yesterday I was remembering that last year was so good with the family around , but this year it’s totally different
     
  5. kkrish

    kkrish IL Hall of Fame

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    So beautifully written @peartree .
    You caputerd the NRI festival day scene so perfectly.

    My very Deepavali in this country, I woke up at 4 am, and came out put rangoli.
    It was November and bitterly cold in my part of the country. I quickly drew the six lines and went inside.
    After breakfast of idli, bajji, sweet and karam, I was in tears because there was no joy in wearing new tshirt and blue jeans.
    I dreaded festivals because it left me sad, missing the lively celebrations in India.

    Just yesterday I was telling the same thing to my friend, about how many generations will these continue.

    May Vinayakar remove the hurdles for our future generations.
     
    Viswamitra, Amica, periamma and 12 others like this.
  6. Shanvy

    Shanvy IL Hall of Fame

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    @peartree you made it nostalgic..yet me shuttling between places, i find the spirit of the festival still reigning in the hearts of people of all gen alike..

    Last morning, i was down memory lane..picking up the clay ganapathi, which used to be a ritual with fil/husband and kids taking the manai palaga (the wooden seat ) and bringing him home used such a loving affair.. this year for various reasons it was me and dd and he rode on my lap on a scooter instead..sometimes, times like this makes you wonder what is it we are running after..

    Just like your little one, mine restored my faith that traditions will be carried forward willingly by them .they rise to the ocassion.. be it making choppus, being it making padi kolam and not forgetting thr mandatory kaavi, wearing madi and decorating the pillaiyar or assisting around..

    God knows.. there may be dams constructed, stopping the flow of water but water will find its way.. same the generation next will too.. and i believe it..

    If it was not, we won't be findijg ways to.make.ganapathi with dry clay, playdoughs, chocoalate, leaves, flour..creativity explodes and faith and religions will be carried forward..so would traditions..by osmosis..and for now we keep the vishnu saharasanamam and ganapathi arathi booming though speakers and making the mandatory at least the 11 kozhukattais for offering and the kids notice..

    There is loads of hope..it is a cycle..just like millets that were scorned in last two decades now being popularised to thr six yards being worn by youngsters with such charm..

    And not to forget mazhazhai(toddler language) singing mooshika vahana and gajananam..paalum thenum.....keep them going...

    Lovely...
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2018
    Viswamitra, Amica, PavithraS and 8 others like this.
  7. GeetaKashyap

    GeetaKashyap IL Hall of Fame

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    @peartree,

    Lovely Ganesh Chaturthi description.
    I could feel your feelings and the wave of relief when I read the above paragraph.

    There may be shortcuts, but everything will be okay and our faith will take us forward.
     
    Viswamitra and Thyagarajan like this.
  8. iyerviji

    iyerviji Finest Post Winner

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    Congrats for being nominated. Your post brought in front of us the festive mood and felt as if we were there . Awesome narration. Good to see you celebrating the festival though you are abroad.
     
  9. blackbeauty84

    blackbeauty84 IL Hall of Fame

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    Lovely writeup..brought NRI festivals clearly before eyes. Somehow I'm hopeful younger generation would carry forward the traditions and take the plunge when their time comes.
     
  10. Cheeniya

    Cheeniya Super Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    You have literally floored me with this lovely post @peartree despite the fact that it is more than two years since I sat on the floor!
    And that lovely song of Lata that you quoted, I want everyone to listen.
    Every Hindu God has a birth day but no birthday is celebrated with such gusto as Vinayaka Chathurthi. The Chennai platforms are full of Ganesha idols of various sizes, colours and decor.
    This is one occasion when the parents bring their children irrespective of their age to select a Ganesha idol. There are fruits and flowers that are great favorites of Ganesha. You wont get them on any other occasion.
    He is one God who is least fussy about His residence. He is comfortable in any platform temple as He is in The Siddhivinayak Ganapati Temple at Mumbai. We have a lot to learn from Him.
     

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