Oh what a month this has been!! Where the last 31 days have gone I don’t know. I’ve had nary a moment to breathe. The first half of the month is a blur, I was in a weird fugue state. nothing made sense, nothing much was interesting either. Then the rains came and my soul rejoiced. It has rained everyday since the middle of the month and the harder it rains, the happier I get. I am luxuriating in the feel of my soft, well-worn sweaters, my turtlenecks. At night, I snuggle under a couple of blankets. I have started wearing socks at home and drinking umpteen cups of chai. I routinely turn on the fireplace and feel my cheeks getting warm and flushed. I turn the water to boiling hot in the shower (TMI, I know) and when I do the dishes. And I especially enjoy the feel of warm clothes fresh from the clothes dryer.
What does that have to do with Goddesses or vampires you ask!! Well, on the heels of the pouring rains, came Navaratri. Nine nights when we celebrate the Goddess in all her forms and acknowledge her as the nurturing, loving, all-powerful Mother.
Generally Navaratri at the MM household has me hunting high and low for all kinds of carton boxes to create the 3/5 steps required for the arrangement of the Golu. Every year after Navaratri I swear I will save the boxes so as to be able to use them next year but sure enough a couple of months later the boxes occupy space in the closet or the garage and I get annoyed and toss them out. This year too, my search yielded weirdly shaped boxes none of which I could make steps out of. I know of a home Improvement store that will build the steps for the price of just the materials. A very good, reasonably priced option. But I just didn’t leave myself enough time to get custom-made stairs. After a frustrating hour it occurred to me to check the world wide web to see if I could get ready made stairs. A quick Google Search of the term “wooden steps” lead to several of these showing up. However this was out of my price range so I started looking for alternatives. I chanced upon this – a little pricey but i have to arrange Golu every year and if I were to use it for the next 10 years, it would be money well-spent. The added bonus, it folds up and can be stored flat under a bed or in a shelf etc. So I promptly dispatched DH to the store to pick up 2 of these. Stacked next to each other the length of the each step is about 2.5 feet. Just about enough to hold the minimal collection of dolls I own.
A sari, some flowers, a couple of drawer shelves and a lot of DD’s toys later, I had the following
This year, I had planned to be more serious about Navaratri. Generally I am not very good about skipping onions and garlic during the 9 days, or fasting or making the Offertory twice a day. This year I am proud to announce I fasted all 9 days (very very difficult, I tell you but I lost 3 lbs so feeling mighty proud of that). I offered milk and fruits in the morning and made one Offertory every day (some kind of sundal) in the evening. During the one weekend in Navaratri, I had a number of my women friends and their daughters came home for Vetrilai Paaku/Haldi Kumkum. I made a mountain of food and gave away some really cute stuff to all the people that visited
Navaratri celebrations also included going out to play Dandiya. Depending on when Navaratri falls in the year, the local Gujarati community arranges for Garba and Dandiya on a couple of weekends. I have been going regularly to these events for the last few years but I usually sit on the sidelines and watch. I let DD and DH dance. Lately though, kids in our group are growing up and are showing an interest in dancing at Dandiya. So Saturday night after the Haldi Kumkum, a few friends visited our house with their kids and we proceeded to practice Dandiya at home. Some YouTube videos and a couple of good dancers helped train us.Post the practice we headed out to the local YMCA where the Dandiya Raas was arranged and proceeded to dance for the next 2 hours. After over 30 years most of which I spent in Mumbai and Pune where Dandiya is extremely popular, I finally mastered the basics of the dance form.
Thus ended Navaratri. I leave you with a final picture of the Golu from my mother’s house. This is what I aspire to. Hopefully with time and experience I will get there.
Amidst all the Navaratri hullaballoo, I also had to start prepping for Halloween. I accompanied DD’s class on a field trip to a local farm to pick pumpkins. We attended a pumpkin carving party that a neighbor of mine very kindly arranged – 15 kids, 20 pumpkins, awesome food and drinks (none of which I could partake of thanks to my fast) we had some gorgeous carved pumpkins and the most fun I can recall in recent times. Here’s what our pumpkins looked like.
This year DD decided she wanted to be a vampire. Gone are the days when my pink-faced child wanted to be a fairy or a princess, Now she has darker tastes. So we duly shopped for a vampire costume and grisly makeup. Today was Halloween, DD went to a Harvest Hoedown at school and then trick or treating with her friends. Lots of candy and a sugar high later she has gone to bed just now. I get to toss my pumpkins out tomorrow and put away the Halloween decorations. And before I know it, Diwali will be here.
This month’s been so busy that I committed the unforgivable sin of forgetting a close friend’s birthday. We did try to make up by taking her to lunch later but I really don;t think that was enough. To forget the birthday of someone who is close to you is just another way of taking them for granted and good friends should never be taken for granted. I almost repeated the same crime when I almost forgot my dad’s and sister-in-law’s birthdays (both on the same day). I remembered in the nick of time and called both of them and had DD talk to them as well.
With that October’s over, we’re hurtling towards the end of the year. This whole year’s gone by too quickly – I know, I say that about every year but they do seem to be going by in a rush. But my favorite season’s here, my favorite festivals are coming up – what do I have to complain about?