Thursday, 18 October 2012

My journey with Stepathlon

Fitness has been more of a way of life for me. I never had to do something out of the way to remain fit. I have always been a healthy person. Though I was born pre mature at just 7 months. My mother nursed me (literally) to good health. She was very young at that time; almost everyone gave up on me except for her. She always believed in me, her first child and had enormous faith and hope. She says that at one I was one of the healthiest looking children around.

She shared her experience with me when I was old enough to understand. I have since maintained a healthy lifestyle. Yes I do walk a lot and I eat right. I have had weight swings like any other woman going through pregnancy and child birth. I have walked that journey twice. Each time piling on a good 21 kilograms but each time I was able to shift that. So I was back on my healthy weight in about 2 years’ time. In fact I have blogged about this in my post titled ‘Your guide to becoming a Yummy Mummy’.

I had gone on a vacation with my family exploring the beautiful South covering Bangalore, Mysore, Coorg and Ooty in June 2012. When I joined back work, I got to know that Stepathlon was happening and that there were 5 people from my unit in it. I was not in the team though I walked more than most of my colleagues, probably they felt that I had 2 small children (my boys are aged 6 and 3 years). I was balancing work and taking care of them so I wasn’t one of the people who could contribute much to the step counts. I found the concept of Stepathlon, virtual race around the world interesting but was fine not being in the team representing my unit.  I was more of a cheerleader for my colleagues.

In about a week then, I got an email from the corporate HR of our company saying that there were 9 teams from the various units of the company and the tenth team would be drown from the different units and the team  would be called ‘Varied Locations’ and my name was there on it. I was certainly excited to know that. We received our kits, the bag, cap and the pedometer. We were waiting for the Virtual race around the world to begin. With a few hiccups the race took off on the 20th of September 2012.

I did feel pleased that I always got about 15000 + step counts, that according to the Stepathlon made me a highly active person! But this is how my days have always been. The days I don’t get 15000+ step counts, particularly on holidays. I climb a few steps up and down my duplex apartment or jog at one spot to achieve the bench mark for myself. I am surely not competing with anyone but looking at it as a way of making fitness and healthy lifestyle a part of my being.  I would certainly want my team ‘The Park Xtremes’ (we have rechristened it) to do well. I like the tips shared on the course website as well as their facebook page.

The Race is on till the 28th of December 2012, hope each team comes out as a winner in its own way and everyone adopts a healthy lifestyle and remains fit.... Keep Walking!

For information on Stepathlon visit

Monday, 15 October 2012

Colours of Navratri

Nine Forms of Maa Durga

Navratri is a festival dedicated to the worship of Maa Shakti, Maa Durga, Maa Parvati as she is lovinly called by her beloved devotees.  The word Navratri means 9 nights in Sanskrit. During these nine nights and ten days, nine forms of Maa Durga , are worshiped.  It is believed that Maa Durga visits earth during these pious days. The 10th day is celebrated as Vijayadashmi or Dussehra. The festival is celebrated all over the country in many different ways.The nine forms of Maa Durga are:

First day of Navratri we pray to Shailputri
Second Navratri is dedicated to Maa Brahmacharini
Third Navratra is devoted to Maa Chandraghanta
Fourth one is to pray to Maa Kooshmanda
Fifth Navratra is for Skandmata 
Sixth Navratra one prays to Maa Katyayini
Seventh Day of the Navratri is dedicated to Maa Kalratri (Maa Kali)
Eighth day of the holy period is devoted to Maa Mahagauri
The Ninth day is for the 9th form of Maa Shakti, Sidhidatri 

In the Northern part of India, these days are celebrated by way of fasting for 9 days and worshiping the different forms of Maa Gurga. In Gujarat and Maharashtra it is celebrated by having the Garba and dandiya for the 9 nights. In Eastern part of India especially among the Bengali community, It is celebrated as the Durga Puja. The festivities here are for 5 days and they are community celebrations. The idols are huge and exquisitely crafted. They adorn the huge pandals (Shamiana) where they are worshiped and then the idol is immersed in  water on the 5th day.

I look forward to the celebration of the Navratri each year like a lot of other women. Mumbai women have over the years developed their own style of celebrating this festival. They follow the colours for these nine days. Each day there is a different cololur, the list is published in the Maharashtra Times. Among the career women, who rush to their work places by the local trains hardly dress up in their traditional finery. 

 Just the other day, I opened my official email box to find an email titled ‘Colours of Navratri’ sent by a colleague to all the ladies working in the office. Following this list we’ll be wearing our traditional sarees or salwar kammezs in those colurs. Every office here in Mumbai has a similar story, all women whether married or not will be trying their best to adorn the colour of the day. Some may even buy outfits that they don’t have in their wardrobes. Come Navratri, the moment we step out of our homes we’ll find the women wearing the colour of the day. On reaching the local train station it’s certainly a beautiful sight to see the women adorning the colours of the day and dressing up in their best sarees. Some of them don’t even wear footwear for the entire period of the Navratri. Evenings are generally the time to visit the local dandiya ground. Where, the dandiya begins in the evening around 7.30 pm with Arti of the Devi and then playing the favourite music, an old classic or just the flavor of the season.

Children look forward to the daniya nights celebrated in their housing socities. They are among the first dancers on the floor. Mumbai is different during the Navratri, dandiya fever is in its peak. In fact one gets to hear the music much before the first Navratra, as the bands comprising of college students and working people, practise each evening preparing for the festival. For them it is also a way of enjoying the festivities as well as making some good bucks!At the Dandiya venues the people generally wear the Gujarati style chaniya cholies and men wearing the trational outfits. It’s fun to see how couples come colour co-ordinated. The jewelery is generally the oxidized one. The young girls pick their jewelry as well as the outfits for the 9 days from Gujarat, or in Mumbai, places like Bhuleshwar Market.

So Navratri is round the corner and I am looking forward to welcome the Devine Mother in my home. We begin the festival with keeping of the kalash and sowing the barley in an earthen pot (which will grow till the tenth day and this will be used for the Dussehra puja at home). The Mandir (temple) at home will be decorated with the best of flowers; will light the akhand jyot (the oil lamp) which will be glowing for the next 10 days. Will have a kirtan at home in the afternoon, where we invite all the ladies and they sing the bhajans of Maa Durga and other deities. This will be followed by the Arati and distribution of prashad to all the ladies.  Most of the women fast during this period so prashad generally consists of fruits, dry fruits and milk. The women also get the ‘Suhagi’ (bindi, sindoor, mehendi, nail polish, glass bangles tied together with a red ribbon) and anything else the lady of the house wants to give to the women attending the puja.
Ghatsthapana - Kalashsthapana Navratri Muhurat 2012

A line from a bhajan comes to my mind,

‘Layi Layi main do phool gulab ke, Meri Maiyya ke nau din bahar ke’

The  Navratri colours for 2012 are:

 Pratipada - October 16, 2011 (Tuesday) - Red 

Dwitiya - 
October 17, 2012 (Wednesday) - Sky Blue 

Tritiya / Chaturthi - 
October  18, 2012 (Thursday) -Yellow

Panchami - 
October 19 (Friday) - Green

Sashti - 
October 20 (Saturday) - Grey

Saptami - 
October 21 (Sunday) - Orange 

Ashtami - 
October 22 (Monday) - White

Navami - 
October 23 (Tuesday) - Pink

Vijayadasami - 
October 24 (Wednesday) - Blue

Happy Navratri to all !

These pictures are taken from various websites, they'll be promptly removed in case the owner has any issues with the use of the pictures.

Updated in 2013