Archive | February 2013

wooohoo!! my brain is spinning the speed of the earth right now!! just the other day we were having this discussion in the family as to why February has 28 days and I in a ‘Googly’ mood explained that how the year actually has 365 and a quarter days so Feb. gets 28 days and a leap year every fourth year to balance the quarter. That was enough to prompt others to drown me into a sea of questions very much resembling the ones put here and that really got to me. thank God!! I didn’t have to answer them.. 🙂 🙂

Mostly Bright Ideas

ActorFebruary is again racing past, like a self-conscious actor looking to spit out his lines and leave the stage as quickly as possible. Every year I’m intrigued by this oddball of a month, similar to the way I’m drawn to Pluto, the misfit of the solar system, and the winter vest, which is neither coat nor undershirt, but rather a strange offspring of the two. I seem to have a penchant for weirdness. But if curiosity killed the cat, mine is less lethal: it just entices me to waste time.

We all repeat mistakes, routines we’re compelled to follow, much as the Earth is bound to move along its elliptical path around the sun. Some of us stay up too late, watching millionaires competing in championship games, or other millionaires trying to appear humble while accepting awards they’ve won for pretending to be someone else. In the morning, we…

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Vasant Panchami : our own Valentine’s day

The world is in the Valentine’s day mode. Everywhere you look, you see red.. literally. Everyone out there is trying to woo out the moolah from your pockets by selling Love. The restaurants, the showrooms for clothes, jewellery, gift items, shoes, home appliances and even gyms and travel industry are going ‘nudge-nudge, wink-wink’ reminding you constantly that you have to celebrate valentine’s day or else you will have wasted a year of your life. The chocolate makers (both company and home made), florists and card companies have gone into the overdrive, stocking up for the day!!

How the trend started in India I don’t quite remember, but as a child I have no memory of a Valentine’s day. It was around the time I was in college, that the winds of Valentine coated love arrived on our shores. It was limited to the bigger cities at first but the winds of consumerism and the idea of selling love by various industries quickly carried it to all parts of the country.

In the mad rush to follow this imported version of a ‘Love Day’ , we forgot that we have our own valentine’s day, that has been around for as long as one can think of. The colour of our Valentine’s day is- Yellow and its called the ‘Vasant Panchmi’.

Vasant Panchmi falls on the fifth day of Magh month of the Indian calendar. Vasant means- Spring and Panchami- the fifth day. It marks the official beginning of spring. It is one of the most auspicious day in the Hindu calendar. It is celebrated mostly in the northern regions of the country.

saraswati1[1]Goddess Saraswati (this image has been used so much that I can’t really trace the source)

Traditionally, this day is celebrated as the day of goddess Saraswati –  goddess of knowledge, wisdom and music. Prayers are offered to the goddess in all educational institutes of the country. Children receive their first lessons on this day. Years ago, as a child, I remember, people living within a particular area would get together and erect a pavilion for the goddess where we would offer our prayers. Music and singing competitions would be held in the evening for all age groups and it would be a major ‘outside day’ after the cold winters. Kites are also flown in many parts of the country.

This day is also celebrated as the day of ‘Kamadev’- the Hindu god of love and lust (aka Cupid). He brings spring to the lands and arouses the feeling of love into the hearts of the people. Nature itself celebrates the season of love as the trees sprout new leaves, flowers bloom and and the weather turns warm and bright.

Marriages take place on this day as it is considered auspicious for the couples wanting to step into matrimony and don’t need to consult the date of births, positions of planets and constellations for a suitable marriage date, as this day is  considered good for all couples.

kashmir beauty (121)Yellow Mustard Fields

Yellow is the color of the day, as the fields of Punjab and Haryana turn golden yellow with mustard blossoms. People wear yellow clothes, (women wear bright yellow shades and men, the much subdued tints of yellow). In our homes (we are from Rajasthan, hence Rajasthanis) the food prepared is also yellow colored- mostly sweet rice colored yellow with saffron and in combination with yellow seasoned and salted rice.

meethe chawalSweet Rice (source-madcookingfusions.com)

This year the Vasant Panchmi falls on the 15th February, a day after the Valentine’s day. Wishing everyone a Happy Valentine’s day and a Happy Vasant Panchami.

some links

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Home

This week’s challenge is ‘Home’. A beautiful word with endless interpretations.  Creating a home with your partner is just as beautiful process as living in it.

It was a beautiful, bright, sunny morning when he proposed to her. Shyly she said yes. He was besides himself with joy and turned round and round on the spot, bobbing his head up and down.

They would need a new place to live in. He promised to find the most beautiful place for her. After a few days of hard work, he finally found a nice, warm, green and safe place where he could live with his beloved and raise there children. He decided to spruce it up for her.

DSC_1090slowly he started collecting building materials and commenced work on there dream home.

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DSC_1094Slowly, bit by bit, he was done. He then decided to give her a surprise and show her what he had prepared for them

DSC_1098She came, saw and loved the place. Just wanted to make it a bit more comfortable. He immediately got to work…..

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DSC_1106…. added a few more comforts, rearranged the furniture….

DSC_1115…. and finally she was happy. She settled down to enjoy her new HOME.

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Needless to say, they lived happily ever after!!!!!!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Unique

For this week’s challenge (although a bit late), I have chosen a ‘sari’.  An Indian woman can never have enough of them. Here I show the famous ‘Patola Saree’ from Patan, a town in Gujarat. Patola is the name of silk sarees unique to Patan.

The history says that, king Kumarpal (12th century) brought 700 Patola weaver families from Maharashtra to Patan. Today, only the Salvi family continues the craft. A sari takes about 6 months or more to be woven into the masterpieces that they are.

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see more about Patola here and here.

P.S. This picture was taken by my daughter during her school trip to Patan.

Travel Theme: Shadows

This week’s Travel theme by Ailsa is Shadows. I looked up a lot of pictures for this challenge but all I could find were either silhouettes, or reflections. Finally I found one that really fit the bill. This one was taken at Nubra Valley in Ladakh.  Nubra valley is a cold desert, and when we reached there a sand storm was brewing up. It was sunny but a lot of clouds flitted across the sky and cast their shadows on the mountains around us.

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Greatest charity: a true story

Today I want to share a real life story with you!

A few days back the newspaper carried a story about a family and their child who was kidnapped two years ago at the age of two. The child (name-Jignesh) was found after two years and when the cops handed him over to his mother Shital, she wept with joy, hugging her son tightly.

The story unfolded that Jignesh was abducted two years ago and could not be traced. Then, a few days back the people of the locality spotted the woman suspected of having kidnapped the child. The police was informed and the woman was arrested. During questioning the woman confessed that she had abducted a child from the locality and handed him over to a woman in Mumbai.

The drama then shifted to Mumbai. Police traced the woman (Named-Aarti) to whom the child was given. Aarti is a widow who also lost her only son soon after her husband’s death. The kidnapper gave her the child saying that he was her brother’s son and there was no one to take care of him. Aarti believed her, accepted the child and took him in as her own son.

Jignesh has only one functional kidney since birth and Aarti got his regular treatment done for the last two years. The kidnapper was booked and Aarti detained for questioning. Jignesh and Aarti were brought back to Ahmedabad where Jignesh was handed over to his mother.

When I read this story, though I felt that it was a happy ending for the mother(Shital), my heart went out to the woman who has been Jignesh’s mother for the last two years. She would have to face loss once again. Also, the child, now four years old would be thinking of Aarti as his mother. What about him? Seemed like a big tangled emotional mess.

Then today there was a follow up to that story that has put my faith back firmly to humanity, to empathy and to the belief that there are good Samaritans all around us.

The headlines read- “Mother Gives abducted son in adoption- Mumbai woman gets back boy handed to her by kidnapper” 

Yes, Shital has decided to give her son to Aarti in adoption. She says, “A woman can understand the separation of a mother and son better. Aarti has taken extremely good care of Jignesh, who has also bonded well with her. I don’t want Aarti to undergo the same trauma as mine.”

Seems like a movie story. The sacrifice that Shital has made is no small one. ‘Giving’ is a part of our cultural value but to give up one’s child has to be the greatest charity ever.