Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Chauthi- A family festival!

As soon as I lay my hands on the first copy of the coming year's  calendar, if there's one thing I almost always immediately look out for, it's to check on the Ganesh Chaturthi  in the coming year! Ganesh Chaturthi or Chowthi as we refer to in South Karnataka, has been special to me for as long as I can remember! Spread over almost a day and a half, Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations in my ancestral house in Dharmasthala that has been an integral part of my father's family and has now, post my marriage, come to represent a regular annual feature in my family too. 

We come from a culture where most families along with their extended kin, join in the celebration of one or more ( if not all) Hindu festivals in a year.... and those occasions are not just about performing religious rituals but rather a socio-cultural affair in the form of family Bhajans sessions, or hosting local artistes or folk culture,etc.  Be it Ganesh Chaturthi, Navaratri or Deepavali ( to name a few Hindu festivals), extended family celebrations of the same have a charm of their own.. While they may prove to be hectic and strenuous (especially for the hosts), no can deny that they make for some of the best family-time memories and offer unique family experiences for children that are otherwise hard to come by in today's nuclear age! 

So it gave us immense pride to see our little millennials nearly dominate the all-nighter family bhajan session, even vying with each other over singing some of the traditional family bhajans that have been passed on by our previous generation... while adding their own “bindass” style to the mix! As the festivities culminate in the immersion of our Ganesha in the Nethravathi river, we seek blessings for the coming year..... and hope to grow more, evolve better and let go a little.... until next year when we get ready to welcome Lord Ganesha in into our family home yet again!! 

We’ve been reading many books on Ganesha over the last few years on the occasion of Ganesha Chathurthi, this time I thought I’d introduce my little one to some of the Hindu deities through Sanjay Patel’s “The Little Book of Hindu deities”. While we have read Sanjay Patel’s earlier works on Hindu Mythology and his unique illustrative and narrative style through his take on Ramayana and Ganesha’s sweet tooth, this book is an all-encompassing account of Hindu Mythology beginning traditionally with Lord Ganesha, moving on to the Trinity and various manifestations of Shiva to the revered Hindu Goddesses and a birds eye view into ten avatars of Vishnu. The book also delves into the contextual background of the mythological stories from a brief introduction to the chronological periods - Satya Yuga to Kali Yuga, to the Nava Grahas or nine planets while also touching upon the various Demi Gods from Indra to Yama and Animal Gods from Naga to Surabhi, giving us a glimpse of the Hindu epics like the Ramayana, Mahabharatha and Bhagavadgita. Presented in his one-of-a kind breezy narrative that makes our deities more relatable, with modern equivalents to some of their traditional attributes, like the "Howler" Rudra, or the Kali "the Black one" or the "chunky money" Hanuman, and his various feats, all accompanied by light-hearted animation style illustrations...  Sanjay Patel's book on Hindu deities is sure a hit with the curious personified next generation millennials. Season's Greetings to everyone this festive season...celebrate the spirit of the festivals  with your kith and kin! 

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