First Indian festival of the year – Lohri!

In India, Lohri is celebrated on the eve of Makar Sankranti which is the last day of the month of Paush. It follows the Bikrami calendar and falls on 13th January of the Gregorian calendar. The festival commemorates the passing of the Hindi month paush and welcomes Hindi month Magha. It is predominantly celebrated in the Northern states of India especially Punjab and Haryana where the farmers celebrate it with abundant joy and pompous.

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Why it is celebrated:

  • The significance of this festival mainly lies in harvesting of rabi crops. Mainly it is an agricultural festival and represents the end of rabi crop. The farmers sow more wheat seeds in the coming months to start afresh and pray for their wealthy crop.
  • Another reason to celebrate Lohri is the passing of Winter Solstice. Paush is considered to be the chilliest month of the year when the sun is rarely visible or rises late. The passing of the month signifies an early sunrise giving way to summer.
  • Lohri is also a significant festival for newly wed couples and newborns in the family. The first Lohri of new couple and the baby is a grand celebration and they are the centre of attraction. Family and friends are invited and they bestow their best wishes, prayers and gifts to the the couple and little one. The bride’s family visit her a day before and offer gifts and festival specific food and sweets to her family.
  • Lohri celebrates the presence of God. Gods like Agni and Surya (God of fire) are commemorated by the bonfire. People sacrifice food into the bonfire to please the Gods and get their blessings. It is believed that the bigger the fire, the better the luck one will have.

How Lohri is celebrated:

No Indian festival is celebrated without any significant rituals. Lohri is also celebrated in a rich way and it unites together everyone. Some of the rituals of Lohri are:

  • Bonfire is the main ritual of this festival. People of a locality gather at one place after sunset and set up bonfire using wood and hay. It is then lit and people circle around the bonfire with food plates in their hands and sacrifice food items in the fire like popcorns, peanuts, sweets, sugarcane sticks, revri (a sweet made of jaggery, sugar, sesame seeds) and later distribute the rest of the food left in their plates to each other and the less privileged ones. While performing this ritual they recite prayers and later sing folk songs. Milk and water are also poured around the bonfire which signifies the Hindu custom of praying to the God.
  • Folk songs, music, bhangra (Indian folk dance) and drums (dhol) are the intrinsic part of the celebration, people dance around the bonfire and spread joy.dhol
  • As it is a festival of winters, people after performing the rituals sit near the bonfire and warm up their hands and body.
  • Some people believe in the Lohri Goddess and prepare Her statue using cow dung. They light the fire upon her to celebrate the festival and gather her blessings.
  • After performing the rituals, people drool themselves in various delicacies like sarso-da-saag (mustard leaves), makke-di-roti (maize flour bread) with jaggery, chikki and gajak (Indian sweets). 

 

 

  • The elders offer gifts to the younger members of the family and bless them. Especially the newly married couple and newborns. 
  • It is celebrated with open heart and lot of fun in schools and offices also.

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  • Next day, the poor children visit house to house singing folk songs and the house owners give them the same food which they sacrificed to the fire (popcorns, revri, sweets etc.) and money as prasad (offering of God). The families having newly weds or newborns are asked for bigger treats and turning away people empty handed is treated as inauspicious.

    Lohri essentially is a festival of joy. The people of Punjab hold it perfectly, and the significance is great. Among hundreds of festivals, Lohri holds a very special place in India.

    I hope my post was able to give you some insight about Lohri festival. Thanks for reading and Happy Lohri everyone!

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Life goes on…

A person with lot of fame and wealth
Constantly sick, struggles to maintain a good health
A mansion with all the luxuries
All the members full of stress, disagreements and worries
A mad in love husband and wife
Unable to give birth to a new life
Aspiring student unable to accept his dream job offer
Expected to grow his family business and support his father
A pretty, educated, independent girl
Longs to get a perfect match, feels alone in her own world
Old loving parents living in despair
Children settled abroad, no one to care
But that’s what life’s all about
It’s you only who can turn it around
Acceptance is the only key to survive
Don’t lose faith, don’t forget to strive!!!

Keepsake ideas for your children!

Every parents wish to give their kids not only all the pleasure of life but also the best memories. I am no different. Every now and then I think what all I can treasure for my kids. Gifts are not necessarily always monetary. So here are few low cost and best keepsake ideas for your kids which they will cherish throughout their lives:

Their tiny hand and footprints – You can get many ideas over the internet how to create this. You can either get this done through a professional or by yourself. Being a DIY Mom, I did it on my own using fabric color and water. I used primer to fasten the color and framed it. You can use clay, plaster of paris etc to make one. As in India, Navratris are considered holy days and girls are worshipped so I took my daughters footprints on their first Navratri.

Newspaper of their birth day – Retain the newspaper of the lucky day when your little bundle of joy came into the world. He / She will get to know what all things / incidents took place on their arrival.

Monthly Photo Albums –  My parents maintained a lovely album of my childhood with my pics in it in a chronological order. How beautifully I was growing old month by month, can be seen through it. You can mention the date, place of the pic along with your kids activities, likes, dislikes in that month. I cherish seeing it everytime I visit my parents as it’s still with them, I am sure your kid will treasure it too.

Scrapbook –  You can gift your kids a scrapbook with his / her pics from bump to birthday, school, college, friends, achievements. Pics of their favorite toy, dress, food etc.

Teacher’s diary – You can maintain a diary in which take the feedback and remarks from all your child’s teachers starting babysitter, if  any, preschool, kindergarten, school till college. Try to get the remarks from all the mentors with their picture and tenure with your child. 

Mummy’s Tummy Moments – You can make a little album of your ultrasound pics, starting from your positive pregnancy report along with pictures of all the ultrasounds you had during your pregnancy. In a nutshell explain the journey of your 9 months. The moments when you started feeling nausea, felt the first kick, your sudden food aversions and fondness everything.

Customised blanket – You can use their favorite old tiny frocks / dresses to make a blanket for them with their name on the top or center and patches all around. A cozy keepsake forever.

1st birthday collage – Prepare a collage of the first year starting from their first ever picture in the hospital and further and stick them in a shape of alphabet 1. On their birthday you can ask guests to leave their blessings and messages for them on the same.

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Hope you liked the above ideas and will be able to make at least one of these for your children. If you have any more ideas or suggestions, please share in the comments section, I will be very happy to know.

Fake or the real you?

We are living in a world of fakeness where encountering realism is no less than a blessing. People are imitating each other, from dressing to eating habits, socializing to lifestyle and living a completely wannabe life instead of who they really are. Life is no longer about emotions, content, empathy, it’s about being a people pleaser, flaunting your made-up version and be in the good books of everyone.

Friendships are for purpose, more the benefits, stronger the friendship. It’s the source for people to take maximum advantage of the other and leave them once the motive is accomplished. But sadly such friendships don’t last longer as the foundation itself is shaky. It only leaves behind grumpy souls with grudges in their hearts and awkward silences.

Insecurities are increasing – My best friend got a new friend, I should be alert. Oh! they went on a holiday, why should I stay back. She has got a new hair color, all are praising her, I am no less than her, let me redo mine too, neighbor bought a new car, I should buy a bigger one…and the list goes on & on…

In the midst of all this, there are people who are still true to themselves and maintained their originality, hence they are treated as ‘NOT SUITABLE’. People around them try to shape them like they are but when they don’t succeed, their true colors are seen. They don’t have guts to thrash them openly on their faces but as soon as they turn their back, the real crib game starts. The interesting part is this cribbing is not only for those real folks but also for their ‘so called friends’.

People themselves don’t know what they are chasing, what they are running after. They are just a part of herd race with no direction. Things are done to show off the world, what fancy lifestyle they are leading, which brands they are wearing, which exotic locations they are traveling and thanks to the social media for being the best channel.

Life is short, there is no time for fake socializing. Think if you really need to have unnecessary drama and politics in your life. Do you really want to be with people who don’t make you feel loved and wanted. And it’s not that we don’t know, all of us have get those ‘VIBES’, if not at first meet then in 2-3 meetings itself, we get to know who we can actually get along well and who we can’t.

So why not invest your precious time with people who celebrate your presence and cut the negativity from your life. Be yourself, spend time with your loved ones, be at peace. Work on improving your shortcomings rather than finding faults at others. Cherish the little joys with people who you really love and who love you back. Keep the ego, grudges away and embrace the positivity and goodness around you.

Sister from different mother!

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Shikha always wanted to be a model, rather top model. But parents’ pressure made her join one of the best institutes of the country. She had been a meritorious student since childhood and now managed to attain a decent score in JEE Main and got selected in one of the most prestigious college. She dreamt of becoming an engineer like her dad and focused on it from last many years but lately developed an interest in fashion industry and walking on the ramp. She was tall, slim, had a perfectly shaped body, long curly hair. Overall, a captivating beauty, well suited to be a model…ah top model. But destiny took her to this college.

It was the first day in the college. With no interest, she took a seat near the window at the back of the class next to which Vimmy was sitting. It was their first encounter. Infact, Vimmy was the first person whom Shikha met in the college. They exchanged their coordinates before the lecture started. Days passed and they became good friends. They were always together in the class, lunch, breaks, library and recess. Shikha used to reserve seat for Vimmy next to her as she was mostly a late comer. Vimmy was a single child of her parents and  a happy go lucky type girl with whom everyone wanted to be but Vimmy and Shikha were always busy in their own world.

They were doing well in their assignments and semester exams. Faculty members had a good image of both of them. It was college’s annual function and they participated in many activities, together and solo. It was then, Vimmy discovered Shikha’s dream of becoming a model when she saw her performing in the fashion show with so much of confidence and perfect attitude. Shikha also confessed it to her on insisting and narrated how she ended up doing this course.

Two years passed by and their friendship grew stronger. But there was something which was bothering Shikha. Vimmy was behaving weird from the last few days, she was happy but quiet which was not usual. On asking, she just used to shyly smile and change the topic. Shikha was irritated by now and wanted to find out what the real matter was. One day they were doing assignments together in the hostel room of Vimmy when Shikha found a diary which read “My journey”. Shikha quietly kept it in her bag and soon after left for her house. She was excited to read the diary in her bag assuming she might get to know about what Vimmy was up to.

As soon as she finished dinner, she went into her room and started reading Vimmy’s diary. She was amazed to read the story of her  life in a poetic manner which she had narrated flawlessly. Starting from her childhood memories, birthday parties, family vacations, summer holidays, teenage years, her bond with her parents, her desire to have a sibling sister and lastly to publish her book one day. In the second part of the diary, she had framed about her friendship with Shikha and also that she found a sister in her. Shikha was touched and a tear rolled over her cheeks with happiness. She was more engrossed in reading the diary now and then she discovered the reason of Vimmy’s changed attitude these days. She had secretly developed a liking for one of her professor in the college. And this was from the second year itself which turned into a passionate love now. Shikha could not believe her eyes and again read those feelings which Vimmy had drafted very beautifully. Her love, passion, craziness was quite visible through her words. She could not wait to meet her the next day.

The next morning when Shikha asked Vimmy to bunk that professor’s class, Vimmy was puzzled as Shikha never bunked any class. It was always Vimmy who used to make such plans, not for that professor ofcourse, but others. Vimmy was reluctant bunking the class and made endless excuses to attend. Shikha kept teasing her with something or the other and then handed over her diary back to Vimmy. Now the entire story was clear to Vimmy. She was angry with Shikha why she read her personal stuff but at the same time blushing over as her secret was out. Since then they not only used to attend Prof. Singh’s lectures but also the extra classes which he used to take for the students having any doubts. He was a young professor, an alumnus of that college itself, just two years senior to them. He had a nice built and a very attractive personality, any girl would fall for.

It was the last year of the course and Vimmy still didn’t share her feelings to him as she wanted things to be like that only. But Shikha had some other plans. They were busy in their internships in the different companies and were able to catch up only on weekends. The exams were nearing so they decided to meet only once in a month.

Exams were over and they did well this time too. It was the last day in the college and their farewell party. Both of them met at the college and sat on the same seats where they met for the very first time. With heavy hearts they bid goodbye to each other as they were posted in different cities on their respective jobs. They promised to be in touch forever and meet as and when possible. Shikha was placed in Bangalore and Vimmy in Mumbai.

Few months later, Shikha got a letter in her office from a Mumbai based fashion agency with the subject “Call for auditions for our upcoming fashion show”. The letter read:

 

“Ms. Verma,

We are pleased to shortlist you for the auditions of model for our upcoming fashion show in Dubai. We had received your portfolio few days back and found it suitable for the show. If interested, please drop by”.

Shikha could not understand what was all that. Which portfolio, which fashion show, which pictures. A flood of questions filled her mind. Then the phone rang and it was Vimmy. Before Shikha could tell her anything, she asked her not to think much and pack her bags for Mumbai where she was waiting for her. In no time, Shikha understood everything. It was all Vimmy’s plan and that’s why she always used to take hundreds of pictures of her during their college fest, fashion show, freshers and farewell party or over their random meets. Shikha applied for leave in her office and left for Mumbai. She was more excited to meet Vimmy than going for the auditions. Finally they met. That warm hug had all the pleasures of life. They were happy. Shikha was selected in the audition as a model and had to fly to Dubai in the next three months. She returned to Bangalore after a relaxing week long stay.

It was her fashion show and Vimmy was there with her along with both their parents. Yes, they were more of a family now. Their parents knew they were inseparable. The fashion show was about to start when Vimmy’s heart stopped, she was standing frozen when she saw Prof. Singh standing just infront of her. Before she could speak up, the hall was dark, music was on and the show started. They sat silently. Vimmy was still blank. She had no clue what he was doing there.

The show progressed and there she came, dressed in a royal blue attire and walking with perfection. Both the families clapped with happiness. Before the show was about to end, there was an announcement of a book release from the organizers. Everyone was surprised as it was not planned. Finally, the organizers took over the stage and after thanking the designers, models and sponsors, they launched the book that named “Her Journey, my tribute” by Ms. Vimmy Chopra. They invited Shikha and Vimmy on the stage when Shikha introduced her to the audience. Vimmy was speechless, got a lump in her throat while thanking Shikha for her priceless gesture. She could not speak much and just hugged her on the stage itself.

Audience clapped and dispersed for the dinner while Shikha narrated the story to Vimmy how she sent her notes to her father whose friend is a publisher. He liked the writing and decided to publish the book. Shikha sent the manuscript to the professor also and he too confessed her secret affection for Vimmy.

Vimmy hugged Shikha again and said “I got a sister from different mother”.

Dear Mom…

MaaDear Maa,

Being myself a mother of two daughters, now I can totally relate and understand how you felt when we (me and my brother) were your little kids. I thought you were over possessive, over caring but I was so wrong. That was just love, selfless, unadulterated love like no one else’s in the world. I understand all your words and actions now what you told me then. I still remember:

When you used to ask us to keep our stuff on place which was lying all over so that the house looks like a endurable, cozy place and not a store room. You just wanted us to be organised human beings, we mistook you as bossy.

When you used to ask us what to cook in breakfast, lunch and dinner and we used to always flee and leave it on you to decide and later crib on the dining table. You wanted to cook of our choice. We mistook you as nagger.

When you used to ask for help in salad dressing or filling the empty bottles in kitchen and we used to run away but always needed a fridge full of cold bottles. You wanted us to become independent since the beginning. We mistook you as oppressive.

When you used to wake up late nights during our exams so that we could study well. Despite a long and tiring day, you wanted to accompany us so that we don’t fall asleep alone and do well in the exam next day. You wanted our bright future, we mistook you as a spy.

When you used to worry for me whenever I was late from school or tuitions. You wanted me to be safe and sound, I mistook you as over caring.

When you always said no to me for night outs with my friends or even late night parties. You wanted me to be with you at night to avoid any mishaps. I mistook you as over possessive.

When you were curious to know more about my friends and the company I kept. You wanted to save me from bad company, I mistook with interference.

When you took time in approving my life partner for my marriage, you were concerned and wanted me to choose wisely, I mistook you as old fashioned.

Now when I am in the same stage of life and experiencing the same instances, I understand what motherhood is all about. Its divine, its pure, its altruistic, it’s just full of love. Sorry for all the pains I gave you Maa, for all the times I hurt you, for not listening to you, not obeying you, not helping you…the list will never cease. But despite of all this, everytime I turned back, I saw you standing smiling with your arms widely opened. Thanks for bearing with me, thanks for everything. Love you always and always my wonder woman.

 

Middle class chronicles!

We all have that one dinner set in our kitchen and a silken bedsheet which is reserved only for the special guests.

We believe in optimum utilisation of resources, hence toothpaste, shampoo, ketchups, lotions are squeezed till their last drop.

Our old tees are never thrown. Oh they make the best mops after all.

Our TV remote is packed in two layered plastic covers.

That red ribbon on our new cars, car seats poly covers, stickers of brand new TV, refrigerator etc. are kept for quite a sometime to get the feeling of “bought something new”.

Soft drink bottles and cookie cans are always reused for storing water and keeping miscellaneous stuff.

Buffets are blessings for us.

Exotic fruits and juices are overfed in marriage parties.

We all have that huge polybag with hundreds of polybags inside in the store room or backyard of our houses. Optimum utilisation, remember 😉

We treat wrapping paper with equal respect as the gifts packed in it. Gifts are unpacked so delicately that the wrapping paper is saved for reuse.

Our kids never grow older than 3 years in buses and trains. Half price travelling 😉

In rajdhani/ shatabdi trains, we never refuse curd and ice cream even in extreme winter and asking for extra soup is obvious.

We can adjust in any and every situation. Don’t be surprised to see a crowd coming out of a five seater car.

Breakfast must be included in room rent and the hotel must supply new soap, shampoo, conditioner, moisturiser everyday.

While buying dry fruits and cookies, half is gone in tasting itself.

Getting free salad, pickle, extra sauces in restaurants is a fundamental right.

Bargaining is in our blood. We never forget to take chillies and coriander for free from the grocery seller.

And how can I not mention asking for free golgappa in the end.

 

Let him be an individual, a Man

It was Friday evening and Mihir thought of giving a surprise to Kanika by reaching home early from office. He was very excited to imagine the happiness on her face on seeing him. He planned a movie followed by dinner, already bought the movie tickets which Kanika wanted to see but Mihir was not able to make it as he was occupied in his meetings all that month. He was humming song and driving towards home.

As he rang the doorbell, his mother opened the door and without uttering a single word, went into her room. He could sense something wrong and went upstairs directly to see Kanika and surprise her. Kanika was sobbing in one corner of the room with her parent’s pic in her hand. By now, Mihir was clear that he himself is going to direct a movie that night being the so called Hero and two protagonists. He was agitated as this was not the first time he had to go through all the drama and cool down the situation by a midway solution maintaining a balance between the two ladies in his life. He was stressed and all his excitement and happiness disappeared.

The entire evening was spent in listening to both the parties, settling the matter and giving it a temporary fix. By then, Mihir was quite exhausted physically and mentally. He threw the movie tickets in the dustbin and went to bed empty stomach.

I think this is not only the situation of Mihir. Many of us have seen the same scenario in our families or relatives or friends. Recently, one of my friends was diagnosed with diabetes, despite maintaining good eating habit and exercise too. Reason was stress, depression. He was shuffling between his mom and wife and trying to breathe in a highly suffocating environment.

Why can’t we just treat man as an individual? Why do we always expect him to be a balancer between wife and mother? Why he is always judged? Why? By getting married, is he just going to spend rest of his life in resolving issues between the two? Might as well he remains single and get some peace of mind. Why can’t wives understand that he can’t leave his parents just for her or even he can’t change his attitude towards them just because you want more importance in his life. He still has things to talk to his parents, seek their advice, suggestions, discuss future plans, family, financials and many more. So if you have a mindset to have him around 24/7, please get him some life.

At the same time, why can’t mothers understand that your son is no longer single. He needs time to know and understand his wife more as she is her future. If you expect him to be your good boy all the time, better don’t marry him. He will always be at your service.

We always talk about the ill treatment done with the women in our society but are men not judged or ill treated? If not more, equally? They already have a mental pressure of managing the finances of the family. Can’t we just keep him away from all the unnecessary drama? Why can’t we just understand that by doing all this, we are pestering him and there is a limit to everything. Once that limit is crossed and your man is unable to handle the situation, he looks for peace outside. Love vanishes for both of you –  mom and wife. So, just think about it before it’s too late and we lose our loved ones!

Happy Children’s Day!

Ogilvy says, “The best ideas come as jokes, so keep your thinking as funny as possible”. Grow up but never kill the child inside you.

My craze of Children’s Day is yet not over and I don’t think it will ever be. Even after being a Mom, I still have that child within me and I want it forever. Sometimes it’s very relaxing to be a child again, play, laugh, shout without any worries and forgetting all the tensions of life. No judgements, no politics, no mind games, no drama…just fun and selfless love.

Children’s Day brings so many cherished memories of those golden days, celebration in school, cultural programs, games, competitions, prize distribution, grabbing handful of goodies, flaunting our new hairbands and shoes, oh we get to wear fancy clothes instead of school uniform. Searching your crush in the crowd and see how she/he was looking in civil dress. That was fun.

Not just this single day, I miss everything about childhood. That school uniform, those black shoes, two plaits with ribbons, my pink water bottle, school bag, long gossip sessions at cycle stand during recess, nicknames of teachers, writing name of crush on school tables secretly, exams fever, copying notes, punishments and so much more.

Back home, playing and fighting with my brother, visiting family on holidays, summer vacations, lazing around, last minute preparation during exams, treat by parents after every result. Those were not very fancy days but surely the best days of my life. Didn’t realise when those innocent minds become a part of this manipulative and tricky world.

Wish I had a time machine to go back to that time and live those precious moments once again.

 

 

 

To my twins on their second birthday

To My Little Hearts,

It was your 2nd birthday a week ago, and now it has started to hit me. You’re already 2. I know there are still a few more years for you to be full-fledged KIDS when you will be no longer “little”. I mean, technically you’re still only about 10kgs, wear diapers, look for me for poop but big enough to walk around and turn our home sweet home to a crazy nest. But soon you will be tall enough to ride your bicycle well without my help, ride the big kid rides at the waterpark, zip up your jackets and eat your meals well. You won’t need me everytime then. I will miss the cuddles, you crawling into my lap, your own cute language, silly giggles and laughter and much more.

When I look back now, to the time when you were born, those NICU days when I used to shuffle between home and hospital twice a day with my stitched belly just to hug you, feel you closer, touch your tiny fingers, hear your heartbeats and if lucky, get your smile. Spending those nights without you at home was no less than a punishment.

The first year with you was tough, really tough. While juggling between diapers and formulas, I was always worried that I was not able to bond with you like my other singleton mommies were doing with their babies. But soon I realised it was a pointless worry. As the days passed by, those challenges seemed easier and today on your second birthday I feel so accomplished. Yes we did it, we made it this far. And we will make the coming future also more beautiful and memorable. I know it’s never going to be easy, as you will grow, there will be other challenges but I’m sure we will together do it.

Today when I see the endless pics and videos that I captured, for your and my memory, it helps me piece together the moments that I stumbled through in a sleep-deprived fog. Gradually it got better with every passing day. The best advise I got from my fellow moms was this phase will pass and I relied upon it. Today it feels it passed in a blink of eye and I’m already missing my little babies.

And today here we are, you are two. I  feel bit sad about it because you are my only children and I’ll never experience the little kid moments again. It will be over soon. I can see you are already big in mind and spirit and soon you will be going to the kindergarten, make new friends, learn coloring, crafts and much more, we won’t be together the whole day then. People say I will get some breathe once you are away in school but I know I will feel incomplete, I will miss you. But I’m sure seeing you grow, discover, learn and blossom will be more exciting and worth those hours of separation.

I thank God daily that you will be there for each other today and always, to help each other from any problem, any trouble, when I can’t be there. I feel so relaxed and embrace the feeling that your best friend with always be with you.

You will outgrow my lap one day but never my heart. For me you will always be my little babies, my little love my little world.