Defining eyes


I first applied homemade kajal when I visited an acquaintance many years ago. While I waited for my friend to get ready to head out, I chatted with her mother — a tall and slim, simple rural Haryanvi lady. As our mundane conversation veered towards the use of kajal, she mentioned that she had prepared some herself.

I had a vague idea about kajal being nothing but soot. But the small boxes available in the market contain a sticky substance which smeared, so I wasn’t quite sure. She showed me her preparation. The homemade kajal that I saw was, indeed, soot and a tad rough to the touch. I gingerly dipped my finger in it and applied it to the waterline of my eyes. To my surprise, it spread easily and gave a beautiful definition to my eyes. I wondered how she had made it, but our conversation was interrupted, and I didn’t get the chance to ask her.

Life has a funny way of answering our questions, and seemingly disconnected memories find themselves being connected into one big picture. I had shelved this memory of the homemade kajal in the corners of my brain. Until one fine day — on the first Deepavali after our wedding, to be precise — I saw my in-laws performing a puja.

I saw them pray, and then light a large earthen lamp. They then placed an empty lamp, upside down atop the flame, supported by smaller lamps around the flame.

The next morning, I saw our own kajal, ready to be used.

Kajal
The soot collected overnight, a.k.a kajal

This is post #13 in this year’s NaBloPoMo, or as Ra calls it Nano Poblano

NaBloPoMo = National Blog Posting Month = Thirty straight days of blogging

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Happy Deepavali!


As is the tradition in these parts of the world, here’s a few Deepavali pictures 🙂

The Daily Post asks us to post something that glows. Nothing better than the glow of festivity, piety, family and lights.


Here’s wishing you all a very happy Deepavali!

Shine


This weekend India will celebrate Diwali. And preparations for the festival are in full swing. Homes are being scrubbed squeaky clean. Renovated houses are getting last minute paint jobs. Traders – both online and offline – are running promotional offers. And all of us are busy shopping for clothes and gifts!

The most important aspect of the festival, of course, are the lights. With every nook and corner being illuminated, the streets are one of the most beautiful sights to see this time of the year. Even the most common, everyday routes we take, turn glamourous.

As I was walking near a popular market a few days back, lights caught my eye from behind the trees. I would normally just walk past the glittery market, but this time, I took a detour just to soak in the festive ambience.

All decked up – Diwali preparations in full swing

Unfortunately, Diwali is also the worst possible time to head out because pollution levels skyrocket. It’s a shame that noisy and noxious crackers are still so popular. I’ll admit we used to burst crackers as children too. And it’s been years since we stopped. I hope you, my dear reader, will refrain from contributing to the pollution levels this year and enjoy the sights without the sounds.

Update: Big Bazaar does a fabulous job of getting the message across with their paper patakha ad. Check this out:

Here’s wishing you a very happy, prosperous and safe Diwali.


To see more shiny posts from around the globe, head over the the Daily Post.

Happy Holidays!


It’s a three-day weekend for most people around this corner of the globe. Hope you have a great time!

Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas!

paper_tree
Paper Tree at Dastkar Nature Bazaar

Lighting up Diwali with colourful candles


Wishing you all a very happy Deepavali and a prosperous year ahead!


nanopoblano2015lightThis is post #11 in this year’s NaBloPoMo, or as Ra calls it Nano Poblano

NaBloPoMo = National Blog Posting Month = Thirty straight days of blogging

The magic of Margazhi


Stone floor of Chidambaram Temple
Stone floor of Chidambaram Temple

While I was in Chennai last year, I received a message from a friend of mine:

‘So are you coming tomorrow?’
‘I’m in Chennai right now’, I replied.
‘Ooh Margazhi. Have fun!’

I didn’t understand what she meant by that. I had visited Chennai during the winter months a few times in the past, but apart from the pleasant weather, I couldn’t think of any other reason to enjoy. I soon found out.

The Tamil month of Margazhi* is considered highly auspicious. For those who are religiously inclined, Margazhi is a month of lots of pujas — temples open much earlier and devotees visit in large numbers for the special pujas. But that was not what my friend, an ardent follower of performing arts, meant.

Margazhi is a cultural extravaganza, a haven for fans of the classical arts, with hundreds of Kutcheries — music and dance concerts — organised throughout the month. Margazhi is, in fact, now synonymous with the music festival.

Chennai takes its music seriously, and audiences don’t clap unless the performance is very good. I found that out on our last day in Chennai, when we spent close to six hours in one auditorium, listening to back-to-back musical performances (for free)!

Even those not interested in the arts — and there are probably few of those in Chennai — cannot escape the Margazhi season, for the art overflows on the streets. Take a walk in the interior parts of residential areas. The Kolams that are drawn at door-steps of every house are much bigger and colourful. The kolams at the temples, though, were my favourite. These are from the Chidambaram temple:

And if you are not interested in art, well then there’s always the sea. The cool sea breeze, on the cool sand is the perfect place to relax.

Yes, Margazhi is the time to visit Tamil Nadu.

*Margazhi begins in mid-December and ends in mid-January. The Corresponding Sanskrit name is Mārgaṣīrṣa. After the end of this month, the harvest festival of Pongal (which falls on Makar Sankranti) is celebrated. The festival marks beginning of Uttarayan – the beginning of the sun’s ascent, signifying the beginning of the end of winter.


The images in this post are my entries for this week’s Photo Challenge. To see more symmetrical images, check out the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge.

A Very Happy Deepavali


We hadn’t really planned on making a rangoli this year. It isn’t something we do traditionally.

All that changed, however, when a close friend of mine sent me a photograph of a beautiful rangoli she had made with her sister.

My cousin and I went shopping for colours, and with the help of my mother, drew a rangoli together.

Wishing you all a very very happy and prosperous (and hopefully cracker-free) Deepavali.

Break Time!


It’s that time of the year again, when we worship the Goddess of Learning, Saraswati. Submitting all our study material to the feet of the deity, we take a little break ourselves*.

Wishing you a very happy Gandhi Jayanthi, Navratri, and Vijay Dasami!

Sneaking in a little shut-eye
Sneaking in a little shut-eye

* Find out more here.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Happy Harvesting!


pongal
Pongal – o – pongal!