Aug 12, 2020

Why I celebrate all festivals?


Yesterday was Janmashtami but in my family traditions, Krishna Jayanthi is usually celebrated in the Tamil month of Aavani. So we would be celebrating Krishna's birthday on Sept 10th. But since D was hearing about Janmashtami from her teachers, she wanted to celebrate yesterday. Over the past few days, I had been having this seasonal allergy sniffles (sneezing, running nose etc). This has nothing to do with the top news of 2020. I feel a lot better today :-)

Till about 3PM yesterday, I didn't plan anything to celebrate the festival. I then had a nice, warm shower and wore a comfortable saree. The festive mood immediately kicked in. I made a small portion of akkaravadisal (a close cousin of the sweet pongal). I cleaned up the Pooja space and brought the silver lamps from the storage cupboard. D noticed what I was doing. She joined in, brought a few smaller silver lamps. She observed how I was placing the kumkum paste on the edges of the lamp. She did the same to her lamps. 
I asked her, "Do you want to give bath to baby Krishna?"
She was thrilled to do this activity. I gave her a small bowl of warm water and she nicely gave a bath to little Krishna idols. She remarked, "Krishna is getting ready for his birthday party!".
I then said to her, "We didn't buy any flower for the Pooja"
D quickly responded, "Don't worry mummy. I'll pluck some flowers from the garden"
She rushed to the balcony and brought a bunch of fresh, red Exura flowers. She plucked a few tiny flowers and added to the warm water. "Krishna needs flowers in his bath water", she said.
I lit the lamps, she lit the incense sticks. A simple Pooja was done and we then relished the akkaravadisal.
During this time, my sniffles also reduced a lot and I felt happy. It was one-hour of productive and screen-free activity time for D.

Why am I sharing this? 

Come festive season, there will be a few posts circulating on social media saying that women slog so much during the festival days, cooking and cleaning while men don't do anything except attend the Pooja. I saw a tweet a few weeks back on similar lines. 

My question to such tweets - Is the slogging forced or been done as a happy, voluntary activity? That is the important question that all of us need to ponder.

While growing up, I observed how my two grandmothers worked so hard during festivals, preparing all the delicacies and an elaborate festive meal with a lot of happiness and dedication. These festival days made my childhood so special and memorable. As an adult in my 20s working full-time in the software industry, I didn't do much during these special days, except for making a simple payasam. These festival days were more like a holiday from work, where I could wake up late and relax the whole day. None of my family members forced me to follow the festive traditions. I wasn't so keen either.

As I entered my 30s and when my little girl was around 2-3 years old, this realization dawned on me - "If I don't introduce the festivals, traditions and practices to her at home, then she wouldn't get the exposure". Her grandparents live in a different city and they are not the type who would make homemade treats to their granddaughter like the way my grandmothers did for me. So it is up to me as a mother to decide how I want to celebrate the festivals. I can choose to just relax without doing much or take up a lot of work and keep whining that I HAVE to do everything on my own. Instead of these two options, I chose a third option - celebrate every festival in a way that gives me happiness and doesn't overwhelm me and D gets to experience a slice of these traditions.

In the past 6-7 years, I have been celebrating every single festival with a lot of joy and happiness. The menu may not be as elaborate as how my grandmothers used to prepare. But I still prepare whatever I can, do a simple Pooja and involve D in whatever manner possible. Along the way, I have learned to cook many traditional recipes.

I strongly believe that it is my responsibility as a mother to pass on such family traditions and values to my daughter. I'm not expecting that my daughter should follow the same in her adulthood. My responsibility ends with the exposure and it is her choice to follow them or not.

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