Thursday, 31 October 2013


Of all the Indian festivals, Diwali is my favourite. I think it’s because the bright lights and vibrant colours fill me with positivity and enthusiasm.

What do I like about Diwali the most? Is it the lighting of diyas or drawing rangolis? Or is it the abhyangya snan with ‘moti soap’ and ‘utne’ on Narakchaturdashi day or the Laxmi puja? I don’t know.

Diwali brings back a lot of fond memories of celebrating this festival as a kid with my parents, sister, aunts, uncles and cousins. In Goa, there is this tradition of preparing effigies of “Narkasura”, the demon who was supposedly killed by Lord Krishna on Diwali day. These effigies are burnt early morning on Narakchaturdashi day.  As kids, we would wake up early in the morning and start drawing Rangoli and lighting diyas.  In Goa, there is also the tradition of preparing 4-5 types of fov (Poha). My mum and aunts would wake up early morning and start cooking. After the Diwali Aarti, we would all devour the fov.  We would also distribute them among our Catholic neighbours.

Now I am married and Diwali means to me a lot of other things. It means celebrating the festival in my own house, with hubby, in laws and now my daughter. It means shopping for the Diwali lantern and diyas and lighting up my house. It means getting all decked up and having the Laxmi Puja at home.

This year a certain incident had left me depressed.  Hubby and I were in no mood to celebrate. But my daughter’s excitement about Diwali fills me with renewed enthusiasm.  She is excited about everything, the colourful rangoli and the bright lights. She has even demanded for a dress with “oodni (duppata)” this Diwali. I think it’s the festival that works it magic on everyone, no one is spared.

Time has changed, situations have changed, and circumstances have changed. Although I may not be in the best of spirits this year, I sincerely hope and pray this Diwali brings everyone health and happiness throughout the year.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Fair is not beautiful. .

You may read the title twice and even think I made a typing mistake when you see the heading of this post. Most people will consider my statement contradictory. Am I not in my right mind then to make a statement I know will be considered contradictory? Or am I downright mad? No, I am just a mother wondering how to bring up my daughter in this crazy world where fair is considered to be a synonym for beauty and beauty a pre-requisite for success.

How do I convince my daughter that skin color and external features are really not that important when we still see matrimonial ads in which prospective grooms are on the lookout of fair and beautiful brides?
At family weddings many a times I overhear well meaning aunts discuss how the groom is lucky to have got a fair bride. As if a fair bride makes a good wife!  How do I convince my daughter that such beliefs are extremely regressive and that any person (be it man or woman) should be judged by his/her character/education/achievements rather than by skin color or external features?

Whenever I turn on the TV, I see beauty cream commercials that promise the sun and moon if one applies a cream of their brand. How do I prevent her from becoming a prey to their marketing gimmicks? These ads propagate ridiculous lies about beauty creams helping get a job or winning contests. How do I overthrow this propaganda ?

How do I inculcate the belief that in order to be successful the prime requirements are hard work and determination and not good looks? That one needs to set goals, stay focussed and work towards them?

How do I convince her that beauty is skin deep and it is more important to be a good human being?

Though I have been lucky that my parents never let this bog me down as a child it used to bother me when my not so lucky cousins would be taunted that they would not get good husbands. How do I ensure that my daughter in turn grows up with the same self belief?

All these questions haunt me for I do not have answers. This infatuation, no I would rather call it obsession is very deep rooted in our culture. Unknowingly and in subtle ways, it has become a part of our lives. Frightening as it is, we have no option but to brace ourselves and live with it.