Monday, August 28, 2017

The feast of Ganesha Chaturthi!

Every year around the time of July and August, as I drive down some of the city’s roads like R V Road along VV Puram, I see rows and rows Gowri-Ganesha idols lined up …and my heart swells with a warm feeling that that Chowthi is here!  There are a few annual rituals that we look forward to and Ganesh Chaturthi has always been one such family event that we make it a point to join in the celebrations at my father’s ancestral home in Dharmasthala. In fact, the run up to Chowthi is even more exciting …… as we plan our trip, book our tickets or get ready to drive down and  connect with other cousins and extend family as who may attend and who else may give it a miss. As the day nears and we pack our bags and are all set to catch the overnight bus to Dharmasthala only to realize that the whole of Bangalore has landed at the Kempegowda bus stand intending to travel to their respective hometowns for the festival….. literally making it a nightmare to get out of Bangalore! J

Anyway, the celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi as a family fosters a community feeling and helps to continue the family tradition and pass on the legacy to the future generations. It is delightful to see the next generation participate in the event will full rigour and enthusiasm and the new members involve themselves without any inhibitions and this only strengthens the family ties and relations…which is after all the true spirit of celebration of festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi.

Every year during Ganesh Chaturthi, we read a book or two about Lord Ganesha and other mythological stories, and this year I picked up a Puffin publication “Lord Ganesha’s feast of laughter” by Meera Uberoi. As much as I would have liked to read Ganesha’s stories to my little one, I felt that it would be appropriate for us wait a year or two for introduction of mythology to my two year old. So we settled for a chapter book from our favourite library “Kutoohala” pegged mainly for kids over eight years to read on their own, however can serve as read-aloud for kids above five years. This book is a compilation of over twenty three well-known and not-so-well known tales of Ganesha “dug up from ancient texts”, delivered in a breezy narrative so as to engage young children. In fact, I found that the language got a little too contemporary in some places (especially with the usage of words like idiot and moron) so as to get today’s kids to relate to the perspective and mindset of the mythological characters, however without diluting the underlying message therein. From the famous tales of Ganesha winning the race around the world, how he stopped Ravana from becoming all powerful and how Ganesha came to be known as “Remover of all obstacles”, the book moves to lesser known stories about how Lord Ganesha about how Ganesha is creator of the instrument of tabla and was responsible for the birth of river Kaveri, etc. The collection also includes stories a few ordinary people who attained immortality by their devotion to Lord Ganesha and the grace of Lord Ganesha, that always has a touch of shrewdness, humour and unmatched brilliance.  Season’s greetings to everyone this festive season! 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

My Brother!

Last week began with Rakhi, the Indian festival celebrating the brother-sister bond, which has acquired greater significance in our household, since the arrival of Abhay’s little sister. While the last two years had been a one-sided affair with the little sister too young to even comprehend what was happening, Rakhi was celebrated more for Abhay to accept the fact that he is now a big brother. This year, however, with the little sister already looking up to her ‘anna’ for many a things at home, and the concept of Rakhi also reinforced by the celebration in her playschool, it felt as if ‘Rakshbandhan” has truly arrived and will always be a special day in the lives of Abhay and his baby sister.

Of course, with Abhay too young  (or should I say too self centered?) to pick out a gift for his sister on his own, it was our job to fill the gap…well at least until he grows old and mature enough to understand that Rakhi is not all about “the brother”! But I must say that the transition of Abhay from being an only child to a big brother has been more or less smooth, with an occasional hiccups, quite expected of a young boy that we often forget that he is, after all! Well done ...big brother!! 

Image result for my brother anthony browne

On the occasion of Rakhi, we read what the little sister loves to call the book “Anna-book”Anthony Browne’sMy Brother ”. Narrated in first person from the perspective of a little brother who almost worships his big brother, who believes that his big brother is capable of everything – from climbing walls to flying, from standing up to bullies to containing monsters, from being a rockstar-like singer to grooving like Elvis Presley, from being avid reader to a talented artist, big brother is sure a cool cat (at least sometimes!) and you can almost feel the little brother wanting to emulate him as as he considers himself to be as cool as his big brother! Narrated  by way of simple one liners that come alive with brilliant illustrations archetypal of Anthony Browne’s books…this book makes for a splendid Rakhi read!!  Belated wishes to all the brother-sister duos on the occasion of the Rakhi season! :-)