Archive | March 2013

Happy Holi!!!

Its Holi today!! The festival of colors, of joy and celebrations. It is a major festival of our country along with Diwali, and falls on the full moon day of the month of ‘Falgun’.DSCN0668

On the evening of the full moon day, bonfires or ‘Holika’ are lit. This bonfire symbolizes the victory of good over evil. The story goes that Prahlad, the son of demon Hiranyakashipu, was an ardent devotee of lord Vishnu, but his father considered Vishnu as his arch enemy. He tried to dissuade his son from worshipping Vishnu, but could not deter him. Angered, he then tried to kill his son but every time lord Vishnu saved him. Finally Hiranyakashipu’s sister Holika decided to do the job for her brother. She had a shawl that was immune to fire. She covered herself with the shawl and sat on the pyre with Prahlad. As the fire blazed, a gust of wind blew the shawl off Holika, onto Prahlad , saving him from death and killing Holika. Hiranyakashipu was later slain by lord Vishnu’s  ‘Narsimha’ avatar, in which he came as half man and half lion form.narsimha

On the next day, called Dhuleti or Dhulandi, people celebrate by coloring each other with colored water and gulal (dry colored powder). It is a mixed celebration of spring and also marks the agricultural season of Rabi crop.DSC_1800

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DSC_1812children playing Holi with colors and water guns

Holi of Braj, the land of Krishna,is the most famous and colorful. The  “lathmaar holi” of Barsana, the land of Radha (Krishna’s beloved) symbolizes the love of Radha and Krishna. The men from Nandgaon (Krishna’s village) visit Barsana on Holi. They sing songs, try to draw the attention of the women folk and drench them in colored water. The women, in turn, beat the men with thick staves or ‘lathi’ as they are called. The men have to save themselves from them using shields.18-lathmarholi

Special sweets and savouries are prepared in the homes.  Friends and family get together  to play holi and enjoy the special food with cool Thandai to round off with. Its a festival of fun, excitement and joy.

May this Holi fill your life with all colors of joy, happiness, love and prosperity!!

Happy Holi!!

Childhood: A World Of Wonder And Magic

Charles from Mostly Bright Ideas, recently did this post here. He brought so many memories of my childhood back that instead of writing a comment on his post I decided to do an entire post here.

As everyone from my generation would say, almost gloatingly, we spent more time outdoors, playing. The television reached here late (in the 80’s) so we had very little to distract us from our playing.

My most vivid memories are of my summer vacations that I spent at my grandparents’ place where all of us cousins would be together for whole two months of free vacation time on our hands. In my age group, we girls were out-numbered by the boys at 2:4, which got further skewed when their friends joined in, and we(girls)  had no option but to join them in their boys’ games. So we spent our vacations, playing marbles, gilli-danda, sitoliya, hide’n seek, flying kites and going for long bicycle rides.

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Apart from this there were many other activities that we indulged in as that particular year’s ‘flavor of the year’. We spent one vacation mastering our cycling talents, with a lot of funny mishaps thrown in, in good measure. The next was spent in gardening when we surprised ourselves by actually growing some vegetables. It was a proud moment for us.

Another one we spent trying to learn the fine art of cricket bowling. Our oldest cousin brother was struck with the cricket virus and he insisted on taking up the role of our coach. He bought a book on bowling, drew a cricket pitch on the terrace and we spent the entire vacation taking lessons on how to grip the ball for off-spin, leg-spin, googly and bouncer varieties of bowling. Had we persisted the Indian cricket team would have greatly benefited from our skills.

And the year we got toy bows and arrows and maces for gifts, we spent enacting stage plays, mostly the Ramayana or excerpts from the Mahabharata. The elders of the house would suddenly find some of their clothes(mostly sarees) missing as they were pilfered away to dress ourselves up and also to do up a makeshift stage, as a result we would be unceremoniously shooed out of the house.

I was a regular tomboy, till I went to an all girls boarding school, where in the company of other girls, I developed a few girl-like traits.  My dad and mom never stopped me from doing a particular thing just because I was a girl. I was the first girl in my group of friends to learn how to ride a bike. I still remember very clearly, every Sunday morning, my dad would hoist me up the seat of the bike that we borrowed from our neighbours. We didn’t have those cute kid bikes available back then so we used a full sized bike, as a result, my feet couldn’t reach the ground. My dad would then spend the next half hour running behind me (with short breaks) till the day I finally learnt to ride it confidently. Getting off the bike safely was a totally another thing though, that took much longer to learn.

And now when I think about it, we, as kids, played so many games. There was Hop-scotch, Statue, Four-corners, Eggs in the Basket, Kho-kho, Rope skipping, One legged catch, Dodge ball, Chain, Cut-the-cake, Help… . whew!! apart from sports like Badminton or Table-tennis. And I haven’t yet listed the indoor games we played.

Sometimes I wonder if today’s generation is really missing out on some real fun? They do play outdoors, that is, they go for the practices of  various sports and their after school hours are packed into a tight schedule of  one class after another. Does that leave room for some imaginative play? Of  creating new games out of mundane things around them. A bed-sheet, for us, would turn into a tent and we would be soldiers at the front, or a group on a picnic, or hunters in the jungle. Cardboard boxes would send our imaginations in a tizzy. There was nothing we couldn’t play with.

And I’m sure today’s kids would find our games outdated, or even boring. They would be more interested in getting that next high score on their gaming consoles. As I look around me, a kid of average 2 years can manage the basics of a tablet and play games on them. And sometimes I think that too is important because the world is getting more and more digitized even as we speak so they need to be skilled in the use of modern technology.

So I don’t know if I should be claiming, gloatingly, that we had more fun or their’s is also the good way to have a great time. Maybe all the generations have had it good in some way or the other. What do you say???

Loving Always….

I would like to share a poem written by my friend- Priya Narang. She is an ophthalmologist by profession, and I always saw her as someone very passionate about her work. I loved these few lines that she shared with us, and frankly, took me by surprise.

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A Word A Week Challenge: Action

This week’s word a week’s challenge is Action. My entry for the same is-

103_0021Some time back, the Indian Army showcased their might of arms and artillery for the public. The people and most importantly, the kids were given a live demonstration of how the tanks, guns (even the very large ones) worked. Seen here, is my daughter learning to man a ‘land to air’ gun, used for targeting enemy fighter planes!!

103_0023Ready to FIRE!!

 

Phoneography challenge: My Neighbourhood

This week’s Phoneography challenge: my neighbourhood

I’m not very good at this, in fact, my first attempt at something like this.

20130313_070420This board here says “Police Headquarters” in Gujarati language. My neighbourhood comprises of the city police establishment. We wake up to the sounds of the police band playing the marching tunes in the mornings.

20130313_070848This cowherd (on the left side of the picture) sets up shop every morning on this side-walk. He brings his cows and the fodder for them. In India, feeding a cow means ablutions from all your sins. So people buy the fodder from him and feed the cows. It works well for both the parties!!

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The Sabarmati river, very much a part of my neighbourhood. As the temperatures have soared and the flow of water decreased, the algae has covered the riverbed and turned it into a swamp. It all looks bad, but the good news that it has attracted a whole lot of water birds, like comb ducks, lapwings, egrets, kingfishers, terns, cormorants, ibises, etc. Today I even saw a flock of painted storks.

20130313_072156cormorants drying themselves on the platform

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20130313_072502The lower level of the riverfront walkway

20130313_073101The upper level of gardens and walkways- haven for morning walkers

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Happy Women’s Day!!

“A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform.”

                                                                                                                                                     -Diane Mariechild

jan 052For the girl child

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jan 087a young bride

jan 038 three generations of mothers and daughters-in-law 

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Happy Women’s Day!!!

Women who Inspire

I have written about a couple of leading ladies from my country here and here. They reached their goals in their respective fields against all odds. There are many more such ‘leading ladies’ who have blown off the glass ceiling and shown that women can achieve anything they put their hearts to. But there are many other women who are doing their bit to make the world a little bit better place. They are not big names, and not many people know about them, but still they carry on their work to bring respite to the daily sufferings of the not so privileged.

Today I would like you all meet a friend of mine. Her name is Kavita Bhargava. She’s very much younger than me but I admire her- for many reasons.

How we met is an interesting story in itself. I first got to know her through my college page on a social networking site, where she regularly posted all the news about the college regarding functions, events, debates, tournaments etc. A few months later during the trip to my college for its Golden Jubilee function I got to meet her and came to know that she was a lecturer there. That surprised me because she looked barely out of college herself. But I was soon to know that looks can be deceptive. She came across as a warm, endearing person and we hit it off during that meeting. Since then we’ve stayed in touch on phone or by e-mails. Soon after, she started an NGO by the name ‘With Care’ at Ajmer, Rajasthan. My admiration for her grew because of the kind of the work she was doing, with total dedication and that too at an age when most youngsters wish for a dream job, neat pay-packages, etc.

Her journey in the field of HIV/AIDS began in 2004, when as a volunteer with the NSS, she participated in the National Students and Youth Parliament-Special Session on HIV/AIDS.In 2011, while teaching psychology at a college in Ajmer, she got an opportunity to join “Saksham, Tata Institute of Social Sciences” as a counseling supervisor and received training on HIV/AIDS counseling supervision. This was immediately after she had registered her NGO- ‘With Care Sanstha’ at Ajmer.  ‘With Care’ was formed with the aim to help people with their emotional problems and other hardships of life. They have teams working in villages and basties of Ajmer, Jaipur and Bhilwara districts of Rajasthan. Their vision is to promote mental health, reaching out to people in need and spreading love for environment.wc1Kavita with a village woman

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Saksham’s trainings on HIV/AIDS counseling supervision, served a landmark in her journey and she began to train her NGO team along the same lines. She started organizing street plays in nearby villages and bastis of Ajmer. The local media propagated the news and they got in to a collaboration project with IHAT(India Health Action Trust) to disseminate information on HIV/AIDS by performing street plays in remote villages.

For the plays, they gather audience by going door-door in the village, using folk music and the local language for better outreach. The story in the play is of a villager who goes to the city for work and falls in bad company, after returning, takes a blood test and gets an HIV positive report.  The doctor counsels him on HIV, telling him about referrals, linkages between HIV-TB, STIs, precautionary measures, etc. The plays are followed by distribution of informative materials and discussions with the audience.

Their NGO team has college students including those from the local Nursing College. Most of them put in time after work. Her work taught her the skills to build rapport, deal with high risk groups, keep aside personal views and respect their way of looking at things.

Besides this, her team also helps the village people by setting up blood donation camps, teaching the village children, organizing vocational courses for women, etc.

The main focus of the NGO now is providing Palliative Care to terminally ill Cancer patients and HIV positive people. Work is on to train her team of counselors and nurses for the same. They plan to have a Day Care Centre where the families of the patients will be taught relaxation therapies, Aura Therapies, Music Therapies along with emotional support.

In her own words :

People are into some kind of a race… knowing not as to where they want to reach and what they want to achieve…

Mine is a bit different perspective… Search your long term goals first and then shape everything accordingly… Life can be customized as well!

We must celebrate life rather than live it like a burden which most of us do…

Just don’t want to regret at age of 60 that I did nothing fruitful with my life… Each one should ask himself/ herself, “What is the purpose for this life?”, “Who am I?”, “What am I doing on this earth?” Once the answer is visible nothing else remains… We can go to any extent to follow our bliss and the Lord helps us in the same…

 So.. nothing great from myself… Its just HIM who’s working through me, helping me in each and every step I take…

Kavita Bhargava
Research Scholar- Psychology @ Banasthali Vidyapith, Banasthali University
Director & Counselor @ With Care Sanstha – “It helps when you help others…’coz anyone can make a difference…
Counselling Supervisor @ Saksham- “Building Capacities…” (A NACO Project)

With Care Sansthan

Saksham

Happy Women’s Day