Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The joy of planning.

Navaratri is just around the corner and I am filled with nostalgia about my childhood when we would go from house to house for ‘Golu’ collecting ‘sundal’ from each house that we visited. I continued the tradition till my girls were available to go around and invite people for ‘haldi and kumkum’. I arranged the dolls carefully collected by my mother in law and celebrated Navaratri in the traditional tamilian style. We lived in an one bed room apartment and space was limited. But the festival was observed with great interest. Soon my daughters left home for college and though we had shifted to a three bedroom flat of our own the tamilian population had by then dispersed and somehow I did not retain the enthusiasm of continuing the tradition of ‘golu’ or ‘gudia pooja’ as the north Indians called it. I still invite a few friends over the ninth day when we celebrate Saraswati pooja but the spirit of Navaratri is missing. I sometimes wonder why?

I can think of some reasons that may have contributed to the situation-

1)When I started the ritual I had no other means of interacting with others of my age. We were about 10 tamilian families in our area and our children were young. Money was limited and we looked forward to the festive season to treat our children to an outing, to invite others over and to buy good clothes for the members of the family. There was no TV and eating out was almost unheard of. Now we have spending money and the joy of looking forward to new clothes during Navaratri and Deepavali is no longer there. Could this be a reason?

2)The weather during Navaratri is usually pleasant and many families prefer to travel to places of tourist interest during the season.

3)My research work went on for three seasons and the crop I took up as my research tool was seasonal. Its life cycle began in August and ended in November. My puja vacations were utilized for research work.

4)Our plans normally centre around the children. Now that they have flown the nest I have lost interest.

5)Tamilians who were my neighbors twenty years back have either left the town or moved to far off places. The few who remain are not too keen. Has this rubbed off into me also?

6)Social life in general has taken a beating.

7)Am I perhaps not too keen myself and prefer to utilize the vacation to organise my house and relax with a book?

Wharever be the reason I need to start again and these are things that I can do during Navaratri-

1)Invite a poor and needy person for lunch with her family and give her children a little money to spend on something they very much want to do.

2)Buy stationery items and distribute it among needy school going children.

3)Organise a bhajan during Navaratri and invite friends over.

4)Seek out others whose children have left home, form a group and go for a picnic instead of brooding over the time when ‘the kids were at home’.

5)Reach out to someone in distress and give him/her a little of my time.

That’s all I can think of. I wonder if there is anything else that I can do. Any suggestions? I do feel that with a little less money we have much more to look forward to and that perhaps makes life more interesting. I miss the joy of planning and making sure that each one’s need is attended to. I miss giving my father in law a little spending money. I miss the joy that I saw in his face when I ran out of cash and asked him for it. The way he’d look up and say “Always set aside some money for a rainy day”. I made him feel so very important when he’d turn round and ask “ If it were not for me what would you do?” More on that later. Right now I am in a pensive mood and ask myself if there is something missing and if there is truth in the saying ‘Poverty in the midst of plenty’


starry said...

Nostalgic post. I like rituals because it reminds us and also makes us set aside this day to plan and enjoy, It is something your children will pass on to theirs and so forth. I feel the same way as you the children are getting older I find myself slacking off, too busy with other things. I remember growing up we did not have a lot of money but there was happiness in just planning and making the best with what we was more enjoyable at that clothes was something we looked forward to. now the joy of getting new clothes for the kids is lost because they get new clothes all the time. I think what you have planned to do is really nice.feeding a poor family is top on my list. my mother used to make sure one needy family always had a good lunch on any festival, even though she id not have much herself.she would always say, its a good day, no one should go hungry.

Neer said...

yea... agree with Starry, nostalgic to the hilt!! and very good one, indeed!

Movie Mazaa said...

At 30, I experience an emotional void of sorts already at times, which manifests itself in indifference, lethargy or just a lack of interest to do things. I am so much in awe of your generation, that I feel live much fuller lives than we probably ever will. This post forces an introspection, and I find myself hunting for a few missing notes in a song just half-sung.

Movie Mazaa said...

Navratri Greetings, by the way!!

Itchingtowrite said...

festivals do help in bonding. you have thought through really well. hats off! a meal sponsored for an orphanage could be a good idea- we have this kind of thing in chennai.
wish you all good cheer during navratri.
PS- long time no see on my blog-
:(( do visit & give your opinion :)

The Inquisitive Akka said...

Yes, I don't feel as excited about Navaratri or Deepavali as I used to. One of the disadvantages of growing up!Your plans sound REALLY nice!

srijithunni said...

This brings tears to my eyes, Hip Grandma. Yes! do organize a golu again. Invite needy persons.. Distribute stationery etc.. Do it now not for your children, do it for the children of your street, of your locality. Let them look forward to it.!
Do it for yourself, your soul.
So Happy for you.
Someday shall join you :)

With Best Regards,
Srijith Unni.

Balaji said...

First of all a nice thoughtful post.

My family was not very rich when i was young and it was difficult for us to invite everyone to sundal and all to our house though we did have a mini kolu....What used to happen was we have a Bhajanamadam near by our house where all the tamil people used to attend. Everyone used to contribute dolls for the common kolu including our house. My mom and my grand mother used to participate in all the common kolam, cooking etc and do their bit. It was a nice occasion for all to get together and pray as well as gossip :)

Please do all the things that you have mentioned in your post. I am confident that it will give you utmost happiness and blessings of God and all the good people.

Sree said...

Noble thoughts and a good way to spend the festival. Mad, mechanical race of life I guess is taking its toll here too, but the spirit of festivities never die.. the smile of the needy person's face would light up your soul.

Has to be me said...

Lovely post! And Im looking fwd to navrathri celebs! I used to keep golu while in India but now I dont keep golu...just call ppl fr vethalai pakku. I invite non-tamilians too & sometimes even from other religions as long as they dont've hang ups abt it.

I loved ur points in reviving the spirit of navrathri!

Anonymous said...

The post made me sad,or guilty,its only three months since i am married and left home,but i know she misses me somuch,festivals are not the same without me,she tried to subtly explain that to me,i missed it i guess,but i made sure to call her up right now and promise her that i will spend three days with her during navratri,and i wont let her feel the void.
Thanks to you,i know how she must be feeling.

The Visitor said...

:( Oh g'ma :(
I like Srijith's idea of having kolu and inviting other children nearby.

Hip Grandma said...

Lalitha:I feel that one should find out some means to be useful to society and choose special days to do it.

neers:I suddenly felt extremely nostalgic and wanted to return to my chilhood days.

velu:this lethargy one feels robs the charm of anticipation.We should all do something abt. it.Happy Navaratri ti you and all other bloggers.

ITW:Yeah I think I'll do something like that.I've visited your blog but didn't comment due to want of time.i've now made up for it as you see.

Mahadevan:who can understand how I feel better than you.The joy of collecting sundal and singing 'vara veena'!Oh those days.You are right we shud do whatever we can.

IQA:It is the same with my married daughters.I think you people work very hard and any holiday is for relaxation.

srijith:so nice of you to suggest the revival of Golu.I think I'll start next year and invite kutties from my neighborhood.

balaji:nice to hear of the community participatin in your area.seems a good must have enjoyed yourselves!

sush:instead of brooding I thought these may be good ideas.

has to be me:Keep up the good work.Decprate a few 'bommais' also if possible.

alapana:do visit your mom.It will make her sooo happy.

Visitor:me too.I think I'll implement his idea next year when my daughters plan to come over with their children.

The Visitor said...

And a happy navarathri to you too g'ma.

Keshi said...

Heart-warming and enlightening post. And tnxx for dropping by my blog.

Navarathri Greetings to ya!


Hip Grandma said...

the visittor:thanx and same to you tpoo.

keshi:thanks and welcome here.a happy navaratri to you too.

passerby55 said...

hi preeta,

canu believe this i am on your blog typing a comment and i hear your comment cannot be more beautiful than this

passerby55 said...

now for the comment....

somedays ago i was standing close to my refridgerator ... looking at the see when is dasshera... and i saw navratri round the corner...

what struck me was .... preeta will write navratri...but what the presentation would be, content of the post all unknown. but i was all sure u writing about it....

passerby55 said...

"I made him feel so very important when he’d turn round and ask ..."

the meaning of all these festivals, get togethers all so much around us. which we often miss to see. ... so well summed up by you...


"Ths courage to change the things I Can,
and the wisdom to know the difference ..."

if i have achieved this in my life its one big festival i have lived to celebrate and then passed away ...

thankyou for this post.

Gauri said...

Hi G'ma

I took a long trip down memory lane - thinking about how extensively I used to plan the golus during my college days.

One year the golu was designed like a chariot (I even remember making the wheels with thermocol and what have you). Also how I used to love painting the earthenware in which my mom used to put "paligai" - the sprouts.

Out here in HK, I just invite ladies for vethalai pakku. Planning to make it a little more extensive this time around cos my daughter is growing up and this is the only way I can introduce and familiarise her with our customs and traditions.

It is a lovely idea indeed - distributing stationery to the needy, feeding orphans in an orphanage.

Have a lovely Navrathri G'ma !!

Monika said...

so nostalgic g'ma :-( i have been staying away from home for the past 5 yrs and i miss the rituals so much... though we don't do golu or keep gudiya... we fast for 7 days and on the 8th day we do something called as "kanjak" where all the young girls are called home... worshipped like they are durga and then given the food (yummy poort-chool-and sooji halwa) i am panju married to a half telegu-half tamil guy so the rituals are all blurres out... but at times its fun when we try and all follow all ;-)

inspried by you i will follow this routine on the 8th day this time :) :)

just a suggestion u can organise a small dandia for the street children around... at a very very small scaled for them... they'll be delighited

hillgrandmom said...

happy Navrathri. Since I have never been in Tamilnadu during Navrathri, have only read about the festival & seen pictures in magazines. Hope you are able to celebrate in the way you have suggested.

Usha said...

I know some people in chennai whose children have flown the nest too but they still go on with tradition to keep it going. The joy is not the same I understand and when you live faraway where people who share similar traditions are rare, it is tough to keep it going. But why dont you try keeping the golu on a smaller scale and inviting some friends who have small girls on a single day so they get to see the custom and know what it is. And you could perhaps buy some clothes for a female child who is poor and could use it? yes and the bhajan on one of the days would be great too.
A beautiful post as usual and I could relate to the sentiments completely.
Happy navaratri.

mommyof2 said...

You have great reasons to start again.. Go for it:-) It sure will give you a great peaceful feeling if you could even do one of the things you mentioned..

Vidhya Rajesh said...

Oh! this is such a touching and wonderful post!
I totally agree with what you have written. Sometimes too much money and a good standard of living takes away small pleasures from you, i feel. As a kid, a b'day or diwali was a biiiig thing because it was the only time I got new clothes, so a new dress meant a lot to me. Today I have 10-11 shirts hanging in my closet and somehow i feel that attachment to them is slightly less - the joy of buying clothes is replaced with the urge to do shopping just for the heck of it.
And social life getting less, in a way is true - atleast the quality of social life is less. The younger generation seem to have less emotional attachments to their social circle - it is more a matter of having "fun" and not genuine concern for the other - not that it is totally absent , but yes in lesser degree these days!
Why don't u set up your dolls again, take pictures and send it to your daughters - I am sure they would love to see it.

Hip Grandma said...

passeby55:you seem to almost predict what i plan to we think alike?abt both of us commenting at the same time is it telepathy?Navaratri is a festival in which the girl is given importance and ladies are given a chance to is therefore all the more important.

gouri:welcome here.Yes please do something to keep the tradition alive.Happy navratri to you too.

monka:you are lucky to be able to expose your children to three cultures.I can identify the punjabi way of inviting 'kanyas' on ashtami day.My daughters used to be invited by a punjabi friend.Do anything you feel like doing as long as the spirit prevails.I think I too will call little girls over along with their moms on ashtami day and combine Tamil rituals with those of other cultures.

hillg'mom:the fact that children are going to spread their wings elsewhere and one has to be happy with regular phone calls and occasional visits cannot be denied.Instead of sending them on a guilt trip I feel we should do whatever we can to remain happy.That way we will be helping them to get on with life.

usha:nice words from you.Yes I plan to do something abt. it.The problem is that the Tamilian community in jamshedpur has dwindled and many from my generation have ;eft the place.However that should not be a hurdle to celebrating Golu on a smaller scale.I think I'll do something about it.

mommyof2:welcome here.One has to start somewhere.that's why I made a list.In these days of terrorist activities it has become more imp. to reach out to people even if a little effort is involved.

vidya rajesh:you are right.tradition has taken a back seat.i am going to do my bit to evive it

Archana Bahuguna said...

I think you already have a good list of things to do. I too think sometimes, I dont do a lot of things I used to do during fests when I was smaller :-). I hope it is not indicative of a lack of celebration for life. Or maybe it is. ... anyways, great post ..something to think about! Wishes to you for Navratras.

ESIH said...

Its been an year since i have truly celebrated any Indian festial in its true color! One reason for me why life in US sucks! I miss all of these festivals, being a bengali, navaratri aka durga puja is the supreme festival for us, and to get back to India and celebrate it the way we do, I can almost trade anything!! I miss it so much!! Hope not for long...

phantom363 said...

hi, isn't this but the cycle of life? when i was growing up, deepavali and kolu were big things in my family. for me it was the pattasu. the dolls for mom & sis.

the family stopped buying crackers when i left home. when sis left, mom soon stopped putting out the dolls.

you have a good attitude towards change. you are good :)

just out of curiosity, is the tamil population of jamshedpur decreasing? aren't the young ones coming there for jobs anymore? is it the same in tatanagar and other industrial towns of north india?

i believe the cosmopolitanism gave colour and character to these cities. :) too bad if it is not being maintained. :(

Hip Grandma said...

archana:you are studying so you have an excuse.But once you are free try to do something abt. it.Happy navratri to you also.

sush:I can relate to your feelings.Durga puja is very important to us also and it is celebrated with pomp in Jamshedpur also.I missed it this year.But while Durga puja is celebrated with the fanfare that sets it apart from other celebrations and I immensely enjoy it,I think I have for some reason compromised on celebrating Navaratri the way we do in Tamilnadu.This is what I want to change.

phantom363:yes you are right.most activities are centred around our children.But one does miss the good times isn't it?Tatanagar is the same as jamshedpur.Earlier in my father in law's generation the wives were 13 and 15 years of age and clung on to traditions as a link to their home state.Children were benefitted by the scheme that ensured a job for at least one child.Now the rule is scrapped and children look for alternate workplaces.Nowadays no one thinks of remaining in a job for ever and ever.Better opportunities are available in A.P and karnataka.Therefore the outward flow of talent.

The Visitor said...

G'ma - some links for you

Tamil Identity
Neha on Tamizh

Artnavy said...

gmom- you had mentioned u r in the US right- so why not have an eye opener kolu to some of the non Indian friends there? OR like a potluck Golu - will also be a little celeb for your grand daughter?

And yes all the other thoughts to reach out to the less privileged are great.

Hip Grandma said...

the visitor:Both the posts recommended by you were good.Thanks.We Tamilians who stay outside the state have a lot of introspection to do.More on that in subsequent posts.

artnavy:your suggestion is good but I cannot burden my busy daughter right now when the baby takes up every minute she has to spare.Maybe I'll do it when I next visit her

Anonymous said...

Hey Grandmom...! This post is nice. Ill keep dropping by.

Hip Grandma said...

eh:welcome here.thanks for dropping by.

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