Monday, 20 October 2014

Diwali - festivities and celebrations...

Diwali is round the corner, in fact the celebations have begun with the children, there are crackers being burst and the atmosphere is filled not only with the noise of the crackers but the resonance of the alarms and sirens from the parked cars in the housing societies.

My younger son who has suddenly become bold and adventurous to try his hands at the crackers by virtue of being inspired by his 'Big Bro'. Turning 5 for the younger one has been turning Bold too..... but I discovered something about him, this time he had the gun loaded with the a strip of crackers but before he fired them he asked his grandfather to cover his ears!! 

I quietly ignored it, didn't want my boy to feel embarrassed, he was behaving so grown up you see! That night while I was putting him to sleep he asked me why was Diwali celebrated. I remember asking the same question to my mom when I was young and she told me a  couple of stories as the legend had it. I read about them during by school years. I was glad my son asked me this question. I told him 5-6 reasons but today talking to my friends found a few more and I wish to share them here. There are many reasons from mythology behind celebration of the festival of lights. 

The Victory of Lord Rama: According to the epic Ramayana, it was the new moon day of Kartik when Lord Rama, his wife Sita and brother Lakshman returned to Ayodhya after defeating  Ravana and conquering the kingdom of Lanka. The people of Ayodhya illuminated the city beautifully and decorated it with earthen lamps. This story is what most of the people know including my little one.

Goddess Laxmi's incarnation: There's another story that says the Goddess of wealth, Laxmi was incarnated on the new moon day (amavasyaa) of the Kartik month during the 'Samudra Manthan', churning of the ocean, hence  Diwali is associated with Goddess Laxmi.
Lord Vishnu and Goddess Laxmi: On this very day, Lord Vishnu in his fifth incarnation as Vaman-Avtar rescued Laxmi from the prison of King Bali and this is another reason of worshipping Goddess Laxmi on Diwali.
The Return of the Pandavas: According to the epic Mahabharata, it was Kartik Amavashya when the Pandavas were back from their 12 years of banishment that was awarded to them after Kauravas defeated them at the game of dice. The people of the kingdom,  celebrated their return by lighting the earthen lamps or the diyas.
Krishna Killed Narakaasur: On the day preceding Diwali, Lord Krishna killed the Demon king Narakaasur and rescued 16 thousand women from his captivity. The celebration of this victory went on for two days including the Diwali day. 
There are a couple of facts from the other religions such as Jainism, Sikhism, the Arya Samaj as well as there are some historic references of the festival.
One of the greatest Hindu kings, King Vikramaditya was coroneted on the Diwali day, hence Diwali became a historical event as well.
Mahavir Tirthankar, the founder of modern Jainism attained his nirvana on this day.
It was the Diwali day when Maharshi Dayananda, the founder of the Arya Samaj  and known as one of the greatest reformers of Hinduism attained his nirvana.
The third Sikh Guru Amar Das institutionalized Diwali as a historic day when all Sikhs would gather to receive the blessings of their Gurus. In 1577, the foundation stone of the Golden Temple at Amritsar was laid on this day. In 1619, the sixth Sikh Guru Hargobind, who was imprisoned by the Mughal Emperor Jahengir, was released from the Gwalior fort along with 52 kings. Sikhism has a lot of significance associated with the festival.
How Do we celebrate?

People do the spring cleaning of their houses and offices.
The festivities are generally for 5 days starting with Dhanteras or dhan tryodashi, when it is considered auspicious to buy some gold jewellery, household utensils or something new for the house. Of late it has become a tradition to buy houses or other property, even take thepossession of the new house or vehicle. Even new businesses and ventures are started on this day.

Naraka Chaturdasi. Second day is celebrated as Naraka Chaturdasi or 'Chhoti Diwali', On this day Lord Krishna killed the demon Narakaasur and liberated the 16,000 women that he had held in his captivity.
The third day is celebrated as the actual Diwali or Badi Diwali   the day is marked as the Hindu New Year. Goddess Laxmi is worshipped  to receive blessings of wealth and prosperity.  This is also the day Lord Rama, along with his wife Sita and brother Lakshman returned to Ayodhya, defeating the demon King Ravana. It marks the triumph of good over evil, that of light over darkness.
Govardhana Puja,  Fourth day is celebrated as a spiritual harvest festival. Thousands of years ago, Lord Krishna asked the people of Vrindavan to perform Govardhana Puja. On this day too lamps or diyas are lit.
The firth day is celebrated as Bhai Dooj - the festival of brothers and sisters. This marks the last day of the celebrations.

People generally visit family, relatives and friends and exchange gifts and sweets. Now the sweets are replaced with much healthier options like dry fruits and healthy nuts. This is also the time when there is a huge demand for sweets all over the country and adulteration is prevalent. 
I have found a very healthy option to gift my family and friends, I have chosen natures' goodness over artificial sweets.

One great option I found for gifting during Diwali and the rest of the year is the natures' gift from Jammu and Kashmir. It has everything from almonds, walnuts, figs, raisins, saffron and other nuts and dried fruits. Loved their celebration pack for Diwali, a beautiful pack of dry fruits. They also have some fabulous skin care and beauty products.
Do check:

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Sista - let me be your best buddy!

"A woman cannot be another woman's best friend"
~ Who the _________ said this?!

A woman is certainly best friend to another. I've lived that and I say so. Just imagine a world that had no fairer sex how would it be? In fact in my college for the Miss Fresher contest a question asked to me was how would I feel if I was the only woman on the planet? I don't remember what my exact answer was. There was too much going on at that time. Being in the spotlight, having everyone present there the college principal, faculty members and the seniors, as it was a formal  function at IHM Mumbai. Coming to the question, it was not one of the things that I ever wanted to happen though. There'd be no competition as I'd have been everything- Miss Universe, Miss World and whatever Misses there are...... come to think of it that'd have also made me the only Miss..... Cool!!... absolutely not!!!  the most uncool thing to think of even in the wildest of thoughts.
A man complements and supplements you but its the girl friend that supports you and keeps you sane. They understand you and they teach you so much about life in general and boys, boy friends and men in particular!
All I needed to know about life I learnt from my girlfriends won't be wrong at all.The friendship starts right from the time one goes to school, the nursery through the kindergarten, to school, high school, college and then the workplace. Some friendships we keep and some slip into time even without us noticing it. Every friendship has its own charm. Different things are shared in each one of them. All of us go through these friendships and learn our lessons from the girl friends we have had.
Then we have the first man outside our family or blood relation forming an integral part of our lives, the husband. Marriage may take the lady away from all familiar settings and surroundings. She builds her life all over again, at times. Again its the company of friends who have been a part of that culture and setting that make her comfortable with her new life. The transition is smooth because there was a woman who made it comfortable for her. It could be the mother in law, the sister in law, the women in the new neighbourhood or wives of husband's colleagues.

I come from the defence background and have seen the importance of NWWA (Naval Wives Welfare Association), AWWA as the Army wives would call it and AFWWA for the Airforce wives. These are not just women's associations or clubs but have a huge role to play in the lives of the defence personnel. The men are in the service of the nation ready to move and relocate just in a couple of hours, at times the notice can be even shorter. Who takes care of the family behind or old parents away in another city or village? Who forms the liaison in times of emergency? Its these associations. The brave men who have to leave their families behind to attend the call of the nation can do so with ease as they know that everything will be taken care of my the strong support of the women. On a lighter note, NWWA was also called the BBC as the news travelled faster in those circles. 

I find myself a part of a similar association, it is not a formal one as the defence wives association but has been formed with the efforts of a lady who has been a part of the fraternity for very long  The Merchant naval officers wives have lives very similar to the that of the defence wives and no support whatsoever. She can get in touch with the shipping office but can't connect the way she would with other women like her. In fact I was pleasantly surprised to see that my husband's company,Fleet Management had their officer's wives community page on Facebook the Elegant Divas Club..Fleet Management. I can't tell you how happy I was to see that. It reminded me of the essence of NWWA. I immediately became a part of it and congratulated the creator of the group Mrs. Renuka Nayar. Infact I called her up and spoke to her, she made me so comfortable this I speak for not just myself but the other ladies as well. This was the space where we shared not just our concerns but also a lot more. We became friends and helped each other when the timely advice was needed. Formed a support group for each other. We became buddies and Sisters! There is a buzz on the group right from, Good mornings to wishing and being a part of important occasions like birthdays, anniversaries and the likes. So the wife may not have heard from her mariner hubby but will be wished by her friends here. Its nice to note that at times they take guidance and help regarding foreign travels or joining their husband's onboard. A place where we visit every time we log onto the social networking sites.
Now we have taken the girls group even closer to each other, we have formed the group on Whatsapp. This has become our 24x7 helpline. There are women who would want to know whats to be given to their ailing child even in the middle of the night, someone will get back to them. They get the support of others when the sign off their husbands is getting delayed or they have some emergency at home. There are the others waiting to lend their unconditional support. We don't just talk serious stuff here we have the silly jokes times, the photosharing and fishing for compliments times in equal doses.We laugh, we cry, we crib, we joke but above all we are at home in the company of the ladies our sistas!

The group has women from other cities too and its nice to share the happenings in each others cities, in their lives and also in the clubs. I am certainly looking forward to the club meet soon where I shall see the women I interact with almost on a daily basis. I guess after the group is formed the sailing hubbies do not hear so much from their cribbing wives and also the company office gets lesser phone calls from the worried wives of the sailing officers. This is called killing  two birds with a single stone. One women have got the 24 hour channel not just to socialise but also to vent. A lot of concerns can be managed at the micro level. I feel this is certainly a fabulous platform.
So sistas if you aren't a part of it come onboard you'll be received with open arms and warm hearts.

With love, to Ms. Renuka Nayar for creating the fab group Elegant Divas Club...... Fleet Management and ofcourse all the Divas!

Pictures are taken from Google with due credits.