Dec 7, 2007

Seven traditions

My contribution to Cafe Writing - December project (Option six)

I would like to relate the word "tradition" with the different festivals that we celebrate throughout the year.

1) Diwali (festival of lights) is our favorite festival that we look forward to every year. We buy new clothes for everyone in the family, put a small mark using vermilion on the edges and place them in the Pooja (prayer) area, on the eve of Diwali. It's a traditional way to thank God for the new clothes.

2) Another special festival is Saraswathi (Goddess of wisdom) Pooja, the ninth day of Dussehra (a 10 day festival in October). We keep our textbooks, pens, pencils and other tools in the Pooja area and then offer prayers. The textbooks remain in the Pooja area for the whole day. As kids, we loved this tradition because of the fact that we don't have to study the whole day.

3) Bhogi is an interesting occasion in the month of January. During childhood, I used to love celebrating Bhogi with my grandfather. This day is marked by burning old and unwanted stuff on the streets early morning and playing a set of small drums. My grandpa would bring all sorts of junk items from the nook and corner of the house and dump them into the fireplace. We used to be astonished with the amount of junk he has been collecting over the year. As I grew up, I became aware of the extent of pollution this tradition was causing and I stopped celebrating Bhogi. Nevertheless, those times that I had spent with my grandpa were memorable.

4) Bhogi is followed by another festival, Pongal. Though this festival is celebrated in a grand manner in the villages, we, the city dwellers miss all the action. The only ritual that we practice is to make Pongal (a sweet dish made out of rice, pulses and jaggery) and shout "Pongalo Pongal" while the dish starts to boil. I've been continuing this habit ever since I started cooking myself.

5) Do you want to see if you have committed any sins in the past year? Then Vaikunda Ekadesi is the perfect day to get those estimates. We play "snake and ladder" that day and whoever falls as a prey for the big snake is the one who has committed many sins. Interesting, isn't it? I still have the traditional snake and ladder board and the special dice that we roll to play this game.

6) The best festival to satisfy your tastebuds is Krishna Jayanti that falls sometime in the month of August. Lots of sweets and savories prepared over a span of three days and stacked neatly in huge boxes!! The waft of the sweet smell would pervade the entire kitchen for those three days but we couldn't taste those preparations until the prayers were offered. I also liked to create the imprints of baby footsteps to mark the arrival of Lord Krishna.

7) Last but not the least, I love the entire month of Margazhi (between Dec 15th and Jan 14th) for the perfect cool weather and the divine renditions of Thiruppaavai in the nearby temple early morning. I used to make colourful kolams (designs made in front of the house using rice flour and colours), wearing a scarf to beat the cold and listening to the songs being played. I used to maintain a book full of different kolam designs and always wanted my kolam to be the best in the whole street. This habit is almost gone these days and I wish I could revive it someday soon.

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