18 October, 2006

Festivals and Childhood

Festivals bring in lots of happiness and unity among the community. The advantage of having grown up in a country like India is we cultivate the habit of understanding the festivals of different religions. Having grown up, I realise how we have celebrated so many festivals in India, without any communal violence. We develop tolerance in admitting the festivals of other religions and observing them too.

Most of us would have studied in Christian schools, and we come to know about Christ and Christmas from our young age. Though Muslims are a minority in India, we know the importance of Ramadhan. I still remember celebrating it in my muslim friend's house. Hindus have numerous festivals. When I look back, I wonder how we have celebrated various festivals with equal tolerance for every religion. I think it is a great experience to grow in a multi lingual and muti cultured place. Though we had only a few Muslim families near my home town, everyone regarded their festivals and showed equal respect. Even today every festival of different religions are celebrated in their own and unique way in a grand manner in India.

Recently we had Dassera and Krishna Jayanthi. Just few days are left for Diwali. This year it is a unique experience for us since this is our first year in London. My children are equally excited in celebrating them. As children we have enjoyed a lot celebrating those festivals. I remember just before the arrival of Diwali, there used to be talk about the estimates of purchase of crackers among boys. I bet every boy would have talked about the amount that is being spent. Even yesterday one of my Sikh friend was talking about the money he spent during childhood. Childhood memories are great. They live with us. I hated to buy a toy gun, and the roll cap. That was the last preference and I have never used it unless it was gifted. In most of the houses, they are the last ones to be used. There were few girls in our street, who had all the guts to burst Lakshmi Vedi and Atom Bomb. It was great fun in seeing everyone holding their big silk skirts (Pattu pavadai) and running here and there to burst crackers. I still cannot forget one of the guest in my neighbours house, fired a rocket without keeping the bottle on the ground firmly, and the rocket hit him on his forehead and came into the front side of my house. My friends used to tell stories about parachute crackers, which used to go up in the air burst with colours, and then a parachute coming out of it. One of my classmate, added his imagination and told us that he saw a real man coming out of it. He was meant to tell exaggerated stories (Peela). His grandfather was a devotee of Lord Muruga and punished my friend for his mischief by putting him in a garage. My friend was hungry and it seems he said 'Muruga' and then couple of banana fell from the roof. This was his degree of exaggeration (Peela). Indeed it is a pleasure to think about those incidents now. Everyone of us were allowed to come in our 'Diwali dress' and the whole school used to be in the new dress on the next day to Diwali. Someboys used to be too naughty and try to ignite those powders of unburst crackers and burn their hand. After a certain age, we were interested in the collection (Vasool). The relative who gave us more was liked by all children and it was fun to count those money and keep them in our kiddy bank. Festivals, like Dassera, Krishna Jayanthi (Janmastami), Saraswathi Pooja, Vinayaka Chaturthi, Pongal all were unique in their own way. Who could forget Dassera (Kolu) for the different dolls displayed, and the park accompanying the Kolu? Each one of us had our own way of keeping the park. I remember a relative of mine who was very creative and used to keep their park according to the latest trend. One of my friend's father was very creative and he used to design fountains, and hills in those parks beautifully. The small treats Sundal cannot be forgotten. They were distributed to everyone who visited the house and used to be of different varieties for those ten days.

We thought it is not good to deprive our children of those joy and celebrate the festivals as far as we could. Recently we celebrated Krishna Jayanthi. My daughter was very thrilled to know about the festival and we drew little steps of the Lord Krishna in front of our house (See the photo). It drew attention of everyone who walked in front of our house. My neighbour who is British, noticed it when she returned from work and was wondering at it. Later when we gave her sweets and seedai she was excited to know about it and appreciated our culture.

In London, the schools are aware about the different festivals. My children are encouraged to talk about the festival and come in their special dress to school. Parents are invited to come and talk about their culture and festivals at school to children. I have volunteered to read and tell Tamil Stories, as well as talk about Festivals with Videos to the children of different languages, and religion. I could see plenty of shops selling fireworks in their shops. My neighbour was saying that Diwali celebrations in London is great. We are going to witness this year. Until then wish you all a Happy Diwali.


வேதா said...

superb post. it really kindled my childhood deepavali memories. u can include me in the list of girls njoying lakshmi vedis:) i really loved those crackers. for the last few years the interest has come down. its good to hear that people abroad njoy the festivals as we do back at home. festivals bring people together and bring happiness in household. wish u and ur family a very happy deepavali:)

arvindh said...

And I was one of those boys who lit up vedi marundhu (cracker powder) and burnt my fingers in the process! I can never forget getting blinded by the flash of light from the ignition!
Hope everyone has a safe and happy deepawali!

Anonymous said...

First time visitor to your blog! I grew up in Mumbai and also have very fond memories of celebrating Diwali with my family and friends. Like you, I try my best to recreate that for my kids here in Canada. Tomorrow we're going to light the Diyas and create a little Rangoli pattern. Wishing you and your family a wonderful and happy Diwali!

visithra said...

Ah i could just see gals in pattu pavadai running around between the smoke of the crackers ;)

i used to do the same ;) now i watch my bro play

cultures are nice - sharing it with different ppl is even nicer

happy deepavali to u n ur family

Sundar Narayanan said...

siigghh.. andha naal nyabagam...


happy deepavali

RandomThoughts said...

Wow Bala1 So sweet of you to read stories! Loved the idea!

Very true that growing up in India has atotally different feel!
Hats off to you & your wife fore making sure ur kids don't miss out on that!

Happy Diwali to you & your family too!


Anonymous said...

Another nostalgic post. Yes lot of memories linger in our mind. Its difficult to see us changed from being that person.

I too heard there will be fireworks in trafalgar square.

Have a great Diwali. My wishes to you and your family.

Jeevan said...

When i was in Adyar, we had much Muslim residents as our neighbor, so if they celebrate their festival they share with us by giving Biriyani, and we give Kuulu on Adi masaam, if we for to give them some special food on our festivals, they come and claimant to give. In India when it comes to festival, we wont see any religion; we all share our wishes and celebrate.

I too used to discuss about how much crackers would u buy with my mates. I can't forget the last day before Diwali; we all draw crackers on the Black board and shout Happy Deepavali!! The photos are very nice, u have much space before your house to burst crackers know! Enjoy:)


Chandrika said...

Happy Diwali to you and your family, Balaji!

SLN said...

Yet another great 'childhood memories' post. Sadly, the communal amity seen in those days in festivals is reducing, especially in the very public festivals like Vinayaka Chathurthi and Moharram

Happy Deepavali to you and your family.

SLN (from the UKMakkal party)

Anonymous said...

Happy Diwali to you and your family. Looks like UK is very festive. Have fun!

indianangel said...

Happy diwali to you too bala! I'll come back later for a detailed comment

Marutham said...

Am not here to remind abt the TAG :D hehehe

Diwali wishes to you and ur family!!

cyberkitty said...

wishing you and your family a happy and prosperous Diwali !

Loga said...

Nice one, in my school days , though it was an anglo indian school, we used to draw rangoli at the class,lit lamps, wear the dress we got for diwali, and we need to bring sweets from home.The teacher would then distribute to all.I remeember that reading this
Wish a happy diwali

Anonymous said...

lakshmi vedi, atombomb, saram. Idai sonnalae deepavali kondaadina oru feeling. well, it is truely the way i had my deepavali in US :)

Happy diwali to you.

vibhor said...

hope you enjoyed a lot out there...
and hows that function which was arranged in ur daughter's school...
take care..

Kavi said...

Festivals and food go hand in hand. And when festivals are excuses for eating through lips and stocking it on the hips, well, things cant be any better !

I am so proud and envious of all the eclectic stuff that you do Balaji !

Great going !

ambi said...

//and told us that he saw a real man coming out of it.//

hope U enjoyed this diwali in UK along with your gang (dubukku anna too) with usual fun. :)

Balaji S Rajan said...

Veda - Thanks for your spontaneous comments. You seem to be the first reader. Oh.. were you also like those girls who bursted firecrackers holding their pattupavadai. In fact, I got a bit of courage to burst the crackers, only on seeing such girls in my street doing that.

Arvindh - Oh..god... so you were one of those naughty and curious child. I could not imagine the injury.

Lotus reads - Thanks for visiting my blog. Thanks for your wishes. Hope you enjoyed Diwali.

Visithra - Thanks for your wishes. Ha... so you were also one of those girls.

Sundarji - yes..andha naal nyabagam... What to do.. As we grow older we need to think about those wonderful days.

Rashmi - I have always liked to attach myself with kids. I am lost when I am with them. This is a great chance to read and tell stories of our land to kids from different countries. Let me see how it goes.

Dan - Thanks for your comments. Hope you had a great time in London.

Jeevan - Very nice to know about your neighbours and friends. World is changing and according to me I find good people everywhere. We need to identify them. That is it.
Let us be good and keep continuing to do good.

Chandrika - Thanks for your wishes. Hope you had a great time.

SLN - yes you are right.But I feel everything will be alright. Thanks for your greetings.

Shankari - Thanks for your comments. Yes UK is very festive.

Indianangel - Thanks for your wishes.

Marutham - I have not forgotten. You can expect soon.

Cyberkitty - Thanks for your wishes.

Loga - Nice to know about your Rangoli skills. I hope it should have been great to do Rangolis.

Kittu - Thanks for your wishes.

Vibhor - Heritage day is for the full month. My turn will be probably next month.

Kavi - Thanks for your encouragement. Yes... I show interests on various things. The children are happy about it.

Ambi - Thanks for your wishes. Hope you had a good time. We did have a good time.

pallavi said...

hi balaji rajan i celebrated my diwali with my family after two year.. it was awesome i also like crackers ... i missed my brother alot any ways how was your diwali in london waiting for that experiance

Suji said...

Hope you and family had a great first Diwali in London.

Deepa Kiran said...

Hello Balaji garu,
My first time to your blog and must say tht i m so touched by everything you have written.Your post brought back all those sweet memories of childhood.Keep up the good work.
Its 12:30 in the nite and I hve become so nostalgic after reading your post,really missing everyone back home..I wonder if I'll b able to sleep at nite..

Balaji S Rajan said...

Hi Deepa Kiran,

Thanks for your visit. I am glad that my post and writings brought back some good memories for yourself. Yes..they are nostalgic and they form a good base for me to live happily now. Every child should live happily and make each and every moment a memorable one. I do not want to deprive my children too of their happiness.
Keep visiting often and please give your comments.