Category: Festivals

Rakhi, some mithai and loads of mush*

Last week he saw his three-month-old cousin. He asked his mother if babies grew up as fast as puppies did. He was mildly disappointed. But his 14-year-old mind did not linger on this for too long. There were movies that had to be watched, apps and music that had to be downloaded and dessert, which needed to be consumed.

Yes, his mind is flighty like that. Just as his feet are. He can never stand still. Must keep shifting his weight from one foot to another, or dance all over the place, as I called it. He is half my age but towers over me with his build. Hands behind him, he will meekly enquire if I want water, but will make it look like a threat, obstructing all my vision until I acquiesce.

Rakhi is one of our cherished days. He will quietly sidle next to me for dinner, plate in hand. His rakhi-laden wrist will reach out to feed me a pani-puri, a rare gesture on his part. He will remember to use all the magic words, please, sorry and thank you. He will be very finicky about the kind of rakhi he wants around his wrist and the mithai he wants to be stuffed with. And he will bend down and touch my feet for ashirwad with great alacrity. So much love is a little difficult to digest.

When he was about five, he put in a “special” request, “Can you tie me two rakhis instead of only one?” “I know you’ll have to do a little more kaam, but then don’t give me a birthday gift this time, okay,” he concluded. He was willing to part with his birthday money as well. He rummaged through his school bag for a pencil to write my name on two currency notes and hand them over to his banker, our grandfather, for safe-keeping. Yes, that brat could be sweet like that!

*Repost

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Praying, binging and feasting

For as long as I have understood the festival of Ganapati, I’ve always wanted to get one home. I don’t know for what duration. And no, I’m not particularly religious. Just the ceremony of it all intrigues me. Every year, I’ll try my luck with my mother, “Can we get one this year? I promise to do all the work.”  It’s a futile exercise. I know she’ll never say yes. Occasionally, I’m even relieved that she says no. God alone knows how I’d cope if she actually said yes one day!

I grew up praying to three Gods. Hanuman – because the father convinced me that he is very strong and will scare away all ghosts and demons. Krishna – because it was fairly easy to relate to the antics of this child-God and Ganesh – simply because I saw either a picture or an idol of his in every room at home. He is special. His idol is the first purchase for the dashboard of a new car, his picture adorns a wall in almost every room and I think he looks the cutest of them all in the Hindu pantheon.

I outgrew praying to Hanuman and Krishna. But Mumbai never let me forget Ganapati.

The initial Ganapati celebrations also got overshadowed by the paternal grandfather’s birthday celebrations. The one time in year that the grandmother prepared dal-baati-churma. I never developed a taste for the baati, simply because I was too impatient to wait until it was fried completely. I was content as long as there was churma and dal on my plate, laced with generous amounts of garlic chutney. To be fair, churma et al. was prepared on other occasions as well. But it didn’t quite evoke the same excitement then.

Sated with churma and chutney and papad, we’d go pandal hopping around the neighborhood.

I stopped visiting pandals in the later years. Not because I had stopped praying but because we now lived on an arterial road toward Marve Beach. I’d see all the big idols in the Malad-Goregaon area from the comfort of my window-sill, replete with band, baaja and tamasha. It was a delectable feast for the eyes and the ears. We just had to be careful to avoid the visarjan rush on the last day. We either escaped to town for a film/play or took refuge in a nearby mall. The only day in the year when I hated where home was located.

This year, in a new place, in a new locality, the festival, although just two days away, feels remote. While there is the comfort of having escaped the noise, it is accompanied by a sense of emptiness. Babaji’s birthday celebrations in his absence feel hollow and the eyes already miss the towering elephant God’s last journey on the roads of Mumbai. It will be a subdued ten days.

Rakhi, some mithai and loads of mush

Last week he saw his three-month-old cousin. He asked his mother if babies grew up as fast as puppies did. He was mildly disappointed. But his 14-year-old mind did not linger on this for too long. There were movies that had to be watched, apps and music that had to be downloaded and dessert, which needed to be consumed.

Yes, his mind is flighty like that. Just as his feet are. He can never stand still. Must keep shifting his weight from one foot to another, or dance all over the place, as I called it. He is half my age but towers over me with his build. Hands behind him, he will meekly enquire if I want water, but will make it look like a threat, obstructing all my vision until I acquiesce.

Rakhi is one of our cherished days. He will quietly sidle next to me for dinner, plate in hand. His rakhi-laden wrist will reach out to feed me a pani-puri, a rare gesture on his part. He will remember to use all the magic words, please, sorry and thank you. He will be very finicky about the kind of rakhi he wants around his wrist and the mithai he wants to be stuffed with. And he will bend down and touch my feet for ashirwad with great alacrity. So much love is a little difficult to digest.

When he was about five, he put in a “special” request, “Can you tie me two rakhis instead of only one?” “I know you’ll have to do a little more kaam, but then don’t give me a birthday gift this time, okay,” he concluded. He was willing to part with his birthday money as well. He rummaged through his school bag for a pencil to write my name on two currency notes and hand them over to his banker, our grandfather, for safe-keeping. Yes, that brat could be sweet like that!