BONDINGS START FROM HOME AND FESTIVALS ARE ONE AMONG THEM #happyganeshchaturthi #festive #festivefun #bloggers #begood #havefun

Memories are what we hold onto with fondness. Ganesh Chaturthi puja celebration is something very close to my heart . As per our Hindu tradition I pray to all the Gods and Goddesses, but Lord Ganesha holds a special place in my heart. The festival of “ Vinayakar Chaturthi “is one which I enjoy the most. The elephant headed God is widely worshipped as the supreme God of wisdom, prosperity & good fortune. My first shloka that I learnt was also on Lord Gajanana. “Gajananam bhoota ganadi sevitham…..”

My parents  have left me with memories of this festival for a life time . Appa would take clay from our garden and make the idol of Ganesha .We would be excited to watch Appa make the idol, then sticking our sticker bindis for eyes, rice grains as tusk, a sacred thread too would be placed on the idol !!  As a kid we would be given the job of rolling out the tiny balls for “ammini kozhakattais” (Kozhukattai are rice flour dumplings that are steamed, cooked and tossed in a tempering to make this Ganesh chaturthi snack).

It used to be a super fun activity , the more we roll, the more we get to eat!!

The jaggery & coconut modakams were something we would gobble up so fast .The entire process would be a real bonding time for the family. Amma would make so many yummy items for the Lord. During Puja time Amma would say to us kids, “ Pray for good health, wisdom to the Lord!”

We would be waiting for the aarti , so that post offerings we could feast on the yummy modakams, salted kozhakattais, vadais, appams, ammini kozhakattais, payasam (kheer). In the evenings when we would go out to see the different pandals, our eyes would want to catch a glimpse of the moon. As per the story Amma had narrated she had told us not to look at the moon on that day!!

The clay ganesha would finally find its way back to the garden.

Apart from that visiting the various sarvajanik pandals of Ganesha always added to the charm. Visiting friends houses who bring in Lord Ganesha is also something to look forward to .During school days I used to have a pact with Ganesha too especially whenever I wanted some favour!!. Super brain yoga posture was always for this Lord whenever I wanted good marks in my exams. The numbers would vary from 12 to 108 !!

There used to be a Ganesha temple close to my college and I would often visit the temple and maybe that is how my fondness for Siddhi Vinayaka grew. I moved to Mumbai soon after college when I got a job and again there was a tiny Ganesha temple near my house. I bumped into one of my friends ( who is now my husband) in a Ganesha temple on a Ganesha Chaturthi day !!!

The making of different Kozhakattais , modakams etc is something I look forward to even today as an adult. My husband & son are entrusted with rolling ammini kozhakattais. My little one will compete with his Appa to do a better job in rolling the tiny balls. These days we hardly sit cross legged on the floor & this is one task for which they sit in the kitchen cross legged & my son will say “ Amma , my legs are aching”, to which I will reply –“Bear the pain for Ganesha  &  he will surely be happy with you & shower you with blessings!!”. Its real family fun time.

Vinayaka Chaturthi celebrations has its own charm. Lord Vakrathundaya’s arrival is special as its after the onset of rains. There is greenery all round. The entire place is clean & free of  dust. Vinayaka seems to be saying, “I will arrive once the entire city & vegetation has been cleaned up after receiving the heavenly showers !! ”

It feels nice to participate in the building Ganapati puja celebrations. It is a very nice feeling as if Ganesha is amidst us. There is an air of festivity all around. I look forward to the morning & evening aarti time. It is also the time to wear saris, to have a look at all the lovely colourful saris & other outfits clad by others. The Mahaganapati Homam is a time when the chanting of holy mantras seem to bring positive vibrations around. I feel lucky to have learnt sanskrit while at school. I never liked the studying of third language while in school. But since I can understand, make out a little meaning when the shlokas, mantras are being chanted, I find it enjoyable. I thank my school for having introduced sanskrit.

The prasadams that we get after the evening puja are something I love. The quantity served is quite sufficient & filling as there is no need to prepare dinner. And, yes if someone in my family does not relish all that then it is time for DIY in the kitchen for them.!!!

On the Ganapati visarjan day a part of my mind would want time to tick slowly so that Ganesha could stay a little longer. As we bid goodbye to the Vignahartha  I know I would be missing him all the more when I would see the place where he was sitting blessing one & all.

“Ganapati Bappa Morya , pudachi varsha laukarya”.

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For My Mother In Heaven

Amma, with Mother’s day approaching I am remembering you all the more . This year will be my first Mother’s day after you have reached your final resting place to join Appa in your heavenly abode . Thankyou Amma for giving us a wonderful childhood, memories,  moments to cherish, education, teaching Sanskrit shlokas , introducing us to the world of stories and storybooks and values. Children learn watching their parents and we surely as kids absorbed many things like a sponge during the growing up years.

You gave us the freedom to express our thoughts even if we differed in our thoughts on some issues and had diametrically opposite views at times . This  opportunity to air our views and to agree to disagree philosophy is something I simply love and respect about you.

I say this specially because I have seen some people of my generation not being given this opportunity when it comes to talking to their parents . They call this respect and love . I call this respect and love accompanied by fear ( my personal opinion).

For every child their mother is the best cook in the world. You always made sure that you prepared dishes that your children relish even if it meant making an extra effort since with age/ health issues  your likes/dislikes/ preferences for something could have changed.

You were so fond of cooking and  knitting  sweaters for your children and grandchildren. I never managed to learn these two forms of art with the same passion as yours  ( and I don’t regret it too ). You agreed that nature and degree of  interests could vary from person to person and also from one generation to another.

Cooking is something which I learnt  after marriage and since you were always a phone call away I could always trouble you anytime and ask for recipes and tips before the “you tube “and “google maharaj” made their entry. The practical tips always have been so handy which the books /videos / google maharaj would seldom specify.

You would pack my things for me every time when it was time to leave for hostel  before the college reopened. You had the ability to make friends easily across all age groups and with your humour you normally won over most people. I wish I had  inherited that quality from you.

I still remember the second Sunday of May  2003 . It was also a Mother’s day and we three sisters were travelling  from Baroda to Madras along with you and your two toddler grandkids by train. We realized we had been talking so much (maybe at a volume audible to others) and having fun when some passengers who were travelling in the same coach a few berths away told us that they liked our lively and cheerful banter and struck a conversation with Amma. They seemed as if they were eager to know about all of us.

You always went out of the way to help us . When your grandkids were infants , toddlers and your kids could not go to buy train tickets or because of the summer rush it was impossible to get tickets you always volunteered to buy us tickets by going personally to the railway station by taking the trouble to be there at the booking counter in the morning hours  ( around 16/17  years ago – which seldom your generation ladies would offer to do).

You were employed with the Accountant General office in Madras and Delhi for 11 years- a central govt job,  but you gave it up after the birth of your twins and I have never ever heard you grumbling about it even at times when you were annoyed with us. Appa left home never to return when  a tragic accident snatched him away from us. You remained a pillar of strength for us  .

I quote here the words of my dear Uncle ( Amma’s  younger brother)  to his nieces ( to myself and my sisters)

“From Valady ( a place in Tamil Nadu) to Vadodara her life has been a life which inspires confidence. The life values she has imparted on you all, after the untimely snatching away of your beloved father, without buckling and complaining tells a lot about her confidence and maturity and fighting spirit.  Resonating with her name ‘Visalakshi’ she adopted a broader vision and courage to stand against some meaningless customs and practices”.

When we were living in the same city post my marriage ,  I would call you up on my way to your place to keep tea ready for me. I could take this liberty with you. According to me this is what I call  a closest relation called ” Amma” .

Amma , we miss you many times and fondly remember so many things about you .  We ( kids, grandkids)  remember your dialogues, proverbs that you often used, reactions to our activities . It is lonesome without you since you have gone away but we seem to hear you whisper to us to cheer up and carry on . Each time I see your picture you seem to be telling us with a smile  “Don’t cry, I am in God’s hands and we will meet again someday.

Amma, I hope and wish that I too prove to be an adorable mom to my kid, the same way as you are to me.

Today as I am keying in, I want to write so many things but I would restrict myself now and summarize with a beautiful poem by Pat O’ Reily

I borrow the words from Pat O’Reilly

“ Wonderful Mother”  

God made a wonderful mother,

A mother who never grows old;

He made her smile of the sunshine.

And He moulded her heart of pure gold;

In her eyes He placed bright shining stars,

In her cheeks  fair roses you see;

God made a wonderful mother,

And He gave that dear mother to me.