Festive season is here, spreading the spiritual and celebratory aura all around. I am sure for most of us in India, this is the most spirited time of the year. When weather whips a fancy dream, when every sight around is bliss, when the desire to dress up froth again, when the love for sun takes a 360-degree turn, when the idea of walking up to a nearby shop no longer breaks a sweat, when body metabolism rises and so does the cravings for sweets and snacks, when the heart dances at the early morning dew on leaves, when houses are dusted and shined to welcome the festivities, when homes start brimming with people, when endless plans are weaved in households to accommodate the festive rituals one after the another, when the eyes of parents who live alone illuminate at the thought of their children coming back home for Diwali, when nuclear families become joint again (even if for few festive days), when life becomes life again in every house, when closeness and physical presence of your loved ones gives a new meaning to life, when the heart brims with joy and dances to the rhythm of existence and the list continues…
Today marks the beginning of Kartik month, which, for a layperson like me, means worshipping goddess Tulsi, giving her a prominent place in our aangan, lighting up a diya every morning and evening, and singing tulsi aarti followed by tulsi parikrama. Trust me when I say this, hymns of tulsi ringing in the house during evenings is an experience in itself. Tulsi symbolises ‘piousness’. When I was young, naani ma and parents used to bathe at the crack of the dawn (Taaro ki chaao). With advancing age, some rituals have found another expression of devotion but the meaning has only gotten stronger.
Funnily enough, mom, sister and I never mastered the full aarti of tulsi and saanjhi (Goddess that stays with us during navratras). We sing some four lines of the aarti and love it that way only because it has been an eternal part of our childhood. It is still “tulsi maharani namoh namah…”, and “saanjhi maayi aarta…” Later, A (husband) taught me the actual tulsi aarti that he learnt during his stay in Iskon.
Yesterday was Sharad Purnima, and gadbade as celebrated in our part of the country. Sweet kheer (or chiwda ) is kept under full moonlight and eaten as prashad the next day. During night, kids ring a bell and yell, “gadbade de do” with mustard oil diya lit up in their hands. We give them few coins and pour oil in their lamps. The happiness on their faces is a sight to behold. So much for life’s simple pleasures.
Hope you all are also enjoying and preparing for the festivities with love and excitement. Wish you grand festivities with your loved ones. May the devotion and pureness of Goddess Tulsi spread in every household and inside every soul.
Light, peace and bliss!