Posts Tagged ‘celebrations’

Women’s Day, 2020

March 8, 2020

To celebrate a woman’s day
One doesn’t need a breast.
Nor uterus nor ovaries/Or any of the rest.
What’s needed is a woman’s mind
Intelligence that’s calm
A woman’s heart, with empathy
And kindness gentle and warm.
The ability to hold a home
And family together.
Let’s raise a toast and celebrate
Women of a feather!

Celebrating life, 101214

December 17, 2014

I just posted about the death of children, so I must definitely post about the celebration of life and a return to good health.

I went to Delhi to celebrate the 50th birthday of

(who doesn’t have the time to blog any more…)


She is a true survivor,who’s battled loss and grief, adversity and obstacles, and done it with grace and a smile.

For both KM and me, she’s the only immediate family in India.


She had one big party for her colleagues at work, and her actual birthday was a quiet day, with a visit to an old Shiva temple.

At week’s end, she was able to get together with many of her friends, including several people whom she’s known from childhood and had recently connected up with on FaceBook; it was a Loreto Convent Kindergarten reunion!


The cake, organized by her brother Ravi and her cousin Nishu, was a wonderful concoction


with edible photographs printed along the side!


By the end of the evening, she was loaded with love and good wishes:


And quite tired out, but still with that ever-present smile, even through the yawn!


“AdhA hai chandramA, rAt Adhi” (the moon and the night are both half gone) we sang, as we went home…

sadAbhishEkam: celebrating a man’s entering his 80th year

February 27, 2014

My childhood friends, Rajamani and Savithri, celebrated their sadabhishekam on the 26th of February, at the Sankara Matham, Chromepet.


Rajamani Anna (aNNA is “older brother”) was a cousin of the seven siblings who lived right opposite my parents’ home in Kolkata. He lived with them, and their parents, studying and then working, and the closeness has persisted through the decades. I have been quite close to his younger daughter, too, and jumped at the chance to attend the sadabhishekam.

The 60th and 80th birthdays are traditionally celebrated only when the husband attains those respective ages. Hopefully, we will start celebrating them for women, too, but as of now, the winds of change have not blown that strongly!

A beautiful “kOlam” welcomes everyone into the venue:


Agni, the god of fire, is invoked in the homam (called “vELvi” in Tamizh), by the priests:


This perforated plate is a new tradition (I’ve not seen it even 20 years ago), and gold ornaments are put in so that the purified water will pass over the gold, too:


The thirumanjanam going on.


Both of Rajamani’s daughters, Swarnamala and Bhavani, are holding the perforated plate.


The couple, after the abhishekam:


Friends and family gather:


The fruits and flowers, and other offerings at the “hOmam”. The “paruppu thEngAi” (those two cones) are made of some kind of sweet:



Rajamani’s sister applies the “nalangu” (turmeric paste) on Savithri’s feet, as decoration, and puts on the toe-rings:


I was tickled by the juxtaposition of the age-old traditions of “thAmboolam”, ritual worship…and the modern newspaper, with a contemporary headline:


The husband ties the sacred thread (mAngalyam) around his wife’s neck. The sadabhishekam is the third such occasion; the second is the shashti abdha poorthi, or “attaining 60 years”.


The couple then seek the blessings of the audience, which is provided in the form of “akshatha” or ritually sanctified rice:


(this kind of blessing-with-grain is probably the same in many cultures…I see many couples having confetti thrown over them!)

All hindu weddings have to be witnessed by Agni (fire), who is the ultimate purifier. Here, Agni has sunk into ash and embers:


Arattai sabhai (gossip sessions!) go on:


The lunch was delicious:



“panthi vijArikkarathu” (enquiring hospitably about whether the food is good, and if the guest has had enough of everything) is done by the “host” family:


Uncle and niece:


Photographic documentation is obligatory now!


I like this group photo because it also contains the family who are, today, like my family!


These are four of the five sisters (the young girl on the left is the daughter of the one sitting next to her) who raised me, as a child. The lady who is sitting second from right is my music guru; she taught me for over 15 years!


My guru, Meenakshi Rajagopal. How lucky I am, to have a sister-cum-guru!


Let me close with two short videos.

This thirumanjanam, or ritual bathing in sanctified water. The traditional “gowri kalyANam” is being sung:

mAngalya dhAraNam, or tying of the sacred thread (sorry, I had to take stills, so this is VERY short!)

I hope you enjoyed the sadAbhishEkam as much as I did!

Field Notes, organized by the St.Louis Beacon, 18, 19, and 201213

October 20, 2013

I decided to go to the opening event of

“Field Notes”

It was a bonfire, opposite the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts.


are the details.


I was privileged to meet

Bob Duffy founder of the St.Louis Beacon, who organized the event:


Archaeologist Dr. Timothy Pauketat gave a presentation about “A Full Moon Over Cahokia Mounds 1000 Years Ago,” explaining the relationship between the structure of Cahokia Mounds and the lunar calendar, and how it wove into Cahokia’s goddess-based religion.


Here’s Dr Tim Pauketat presenting:


Cahokia Archaeological President Larry Kinsella showed a collection of archaeological tools from Cahokia Mounds, and talked very interestingly about them, too!


We had local farmer Rusty Lee and his family demonstrate how to prepare popping corn using agricultural tools.




Larry Loveless, a St.Louis percussionist and musician, co-ordinated a drummers’ circle.

Another percussionist had brought these Scooti drums from Kenya; he’d bought them there when his son learnt to play the drums.


Here’s Scott Ragland, a percussionist who teaches at Saint Louis University, on the right:


He seems to have just had a bright idea in the photo 😀

Larry said we should all drum together, and entice the Hunter’s Moon (Sharad Poornima for us) out of her hiding place in the clouds, but she was veiled throughout:


Larry had a great collection of drums:


Being used to a culture of being very careful with one’s musical instruments, I was amazed to see him handing them around:


Larry talked to us, and we began with a small bell signalling the start of the drummers’ circle:


Along with the popcorn, we also had a great American tradition…that of toasting marshmallows:


Here’s my marshmallow. This was a first for me! They are made entirely of sugar.


I met so many interesting people…Larry’s fiancee Aimee, her mother Stephanie, and her friend Heidi…and there was more warmth than the fire was providing!


Here’s my hand, ready to drum (while the other hand takes the photo!)


When A came over to pick me up, afterwards, I introduced her to everyone, too, and we had a nice natter together before dispersing. I’m looking forward to the Guided Walk in (where else?) Forest Park, tomorrow…today was a (total) surprise birthday party that DnA threw for me…but more about that later!


World Sparrow Day….

March 20, 2012

Today is World Sparrow Day, and I too will be taking part in a panel discussion on the topic of these lovely, perky birds, that suddenly seemed to vanish from the Bangalore urban scene.

click here

to see the schedule for today.

However, they do seem to be making a comeback lately, and that is probably what I will mention during the discussion this evening.

I’d posted some time ago about the “Building-a-House” Sparrow:

And, from the same area, posted this video of a sparrow and the rear-view mirror:

I do love sparrows, and was grieved, a few years ago, to see a notice in Forest Park, St.Louis, that said, “House sparrows are an immigrant species, and they can be killed and their nests destroyed” or something to that effect. Thankfully, the notice has been removed now. Of all countries, I cannot imagine America forgetting that the immigrants of today are the citizens of tomorrow!

In advance…

March 12, 2012

KM turns 64 soon, but since he won’t be in town, we celebrated with coffee and cake….

click here

for the photos….we are blessed to have such wonderful friends around us!

Shashti Abdha Poorthi Procession….211211

March 7, 2012

When a man in our community (Tambrams, or Tamizh Brahmins) attains the age of 60, he and his wife undergo a wedding ceremony again, this time with greater emphasis on the Vedic rituals, and the spirituality.

Our friends Devika and Anand had the “whole 9 yards” ceremony, with pomp and colour, at


Where 60th, 70th, and 80th “abdha poorthi” rites (attainment in years) are often performed, often dozens at a time.

For the photographs from their ceremony

click here

for the Picasa web album

Here’s a video of the couple being brought in procession to the spot where the abhishEkam will be performed:


November 23, 2011

Today, the 23rd of November, seems to be the date of birth of a lot of people known to me. My dear friend Raji, my well-loved nephew Govind in New York, my cousin Jaishree in Whitefield….and Govind’s great-grandmother, too, who’s past the 95 mark, I think…this lady’s now no longer oriented to time and place, alas, and is being cared for devotedly by her daughter (Govind’s grandmother) who, herself, is in her late 70’s.

And the daughter of my good friends Geetha and Prasanna is also celebrating her first birthday, and her naming ceremony, today. I called up Jaishree, and messaged Govind on Facebook (to which he promptly replied!)…and will be calling Govind’s grandmother, Vacchimma, in a while…and will be visiting Raji with other friends in the afternoon.

But I realize that birthdays mean many things to many people…and are, sometimes devoid of any meaning at all. KM, for example, accepts good wishes, but in his family, birthdays are not big occasions to be celebrated or highlighted. I too grew up in a similar culture…the only time I’ve ever had a birthday party was on my 50th birthday, when we invited as many friends as we could, and had a very enjoyable time.

I know someone who, on his birthday, got the news of his brother’s death in a traffic accident…certainly, to him, the date of birth is likely to bring very mixed memories, and it can never be a day of unalloyed joy.

Indeed, another of my friends (whose birthday falls the day after mine!) has requested that I don’t wish him at all. “I don’t want a reminder that I am getting older!” is his opinion.

How we celebrate birthdays, too, varies widely. Traditionally, in my community, the date of birth (being the “English date”) is not observed at all, but the date on which the “birth star” falls (according to the lunar calendar) is a day when, perhaps, some sweet is made in the house, and the child is taken to the temple. In Kerala, many people traditionally would have an “Ayush hOmam” every year, a sacrificial rite conducted with fire as the witness.

Nowadays, of course, the cake-chips-samosa-pepsi parties, with games and “return gifts” seem to be the order of the day, and I find mothers increasingly harassed over the details…we even seem to hire “decoration experts” whose expertise, sometimes, just seems to extend to blowing up large balloons all over the venue of the party! Junk food seems to be the popular fare at birthday parties and that’s not a very welcome trend.

One of my elderly aunts remarked, as she watched a birthday child puff out the lighted candles: ” In our culture, lighting a flame is considered auspicious, now we have everyone blowing it out!” It did make me think!

But cake-and-ribbons or not, many of us celebrate birthdays….especially those of children, because it is certainly an achievement for the child to survive this harsh world and complete another year of existence. For an adult, too, perhaps, the date of birth should be a reminder, not of advancing age and creeping mortality…but of what is past…the fact the one has withstood the ravages of Time and Fate, and successfully covered another journey around the Sun!

So…I’m off to celebrate several birthdays…and to enquire about the old lady who is awaiting a merciful release, too… what a mixed bag this world of ours is!

Kolu at Crystal, 290911

September 30, 2011

I decided to visit my friends Ganu and Hema, and their daughter, Janani, who’s recently come home for good, after having done her Masters’ degree at Pittsburgh. They always put up a lovely display for Navarathri:


<lj-cut text="want to see the kolu?"

Here it is, with the flash, which I don't prefer:


A “kolu” or “golu” is supposed to be a representation of the universe, so anything you wish to can be put in….human beings, animals, gods, flowers….Here’s an idol which is half Ganesha, half Hanuman, that I’ve never seen before:

S all kolu pics dublicate 290911

These dolls/figures are often sold in “sets”. Here’s a beautiful set of Mamallapuram, or Mahabalipuram, on the shores near Chennai:


There is also a lovely seascape painting to be used as a background. Don’t miss the details like the lighthouse, and Arjuna’s Penance, or the various caves!


There was one display of a forest (Bannerghatta?) where tigers and giraffes co-exist peacefully:


There was one display of a temple procession…don’t miss the couple who are prostrating themselves on the ground!


Another tableau was of Kailash, the abode of Shiva and his family. Cotton-wool snow completels the icy look of the Himalaya:


I enjoyed seeing a wedding in progress, and childbirth seemed to have occurred almost at once, because the adjoining scene was one of the parents getting the boy’s ears pierced, ceremonially!


Visitors were given sundal ( a lentil preparation) and pAl pAyasam (a milk-and -rice sweet porridge) and ladies came to visit, and sang for the gods, and the worlds they saw before them. They were given betel leaves, areca nuts, turmeric and sindoor, and a large coconut, and a little gift, too.

Thank you, Hema, Ganu, and Janani, for letting me share your festival!

All these Days….

September 14, 2011

I got a message on my mobile phone, showing some AWFUL stick figures, and saying, “Happy World Tribal Day”.


I am sick and tired of all these uzliss and tokenist Days. And everything is now a World “X” Day, where “X” may be anything from Grandmothers Suffering From Jaundice to Persecuted Earthworms.

I can understand Days for things like battling disease, or fallen heroes…but it’s been taken to a ridiculous extreme. I think it’s getting to the point where there are not enough Days to go around,and we are going to have battles for each day, where, for example, the Save Old Barbie Dolls group clashes with the Plastic Bags Are Not All Bad faction, fighting for April 1 as their Day…..

Excuse me. Today is Rant Against Senseless Days Day. Tomorrow is Search For Another Topic Day….