Blog posts

Religion vs Faith

What’s your guiding light? Do you celebrate festivals and chant mantras because that’s how you have seen that done or do you infuse meaning to your customs and practices? Do you observe to please, or with intent or for pleasure?

After Having spent the last 1.5 decade living in a foreign land,  festivals have taken on a different meaning altogether. Our celebrations have become mellow, yet our love for our country and our people has grown manifold. 

Holi- The festival of colour, of spreading happiness and love, of celebrating good over evil, of good food!Ours is a very humble version of Holi!

We often talk to our children about the essence of festivals, leaving out the religious aspect of it, as both me and my husband do not believe in getting caught up in the nitty gritties of religious acts. It’s been a conscious effort on our part and not one of conveneince. We do have a small temple and we do follow some of our own rules out of habit- no shoes around the temple area, temple clothes get cleaned regularly, etc etc. I love the smell of incense and I love the spirituality of the hanuman chalisa. But we teach our kids that prayer is not for asking God to always do us well in terms of a gain, but there is no harm in just sometimes folding our hands in obeisance and asking GOd to bestow us with the strength to deal with all our ups and downs , for everyone gets their fair share of both. The power of prayer is not displayed in God’s pity on us and then ridding us of our insecurities/negative thoughts , but because maybe those 10 minutes spent in prayer is saving us from those very bad thoughts and insecurities. This is how I like to explain things to kids. I grew up in a relatively Arya Samajhic environment as a result of my mum’s lineage and my dad‘s conversion to the concept, sometime during his college days. In such a setting, one would grow up with the concept of hawans. I did too. Somewhere I grew attached to the idea of hawans, not because i felt that it spiritually made a difference because we have now pleased GOd, but because hawans were a way to get the family to sit around each other for a common cause chanting from a book and singing bhajans , because the kund smell smelt of fragrance, because the fumes made the house feel cleansed. All these are a means of getting your spirits up and imbibing a team spirit, and is why participating in hawans felt good! 

The beauty of the Hawan kund

Each year I indulge in some fasting. These occasions are fond childhood memories  of lavish feasts and get togethers, or a day that was different from routine. I never really got attached to these occasions as a means of prolonging my family’s lives and happiness (GOD forbid). Rather then attaching the concept of a happy life to a fast, I would rather go about creating a positive environment around home and be wise in family matters. I do although believe that fasting has an inherent way of teaching us gratitude, yet making our bodies healthy. 

Christmas – the festival of pretty lights, of family togetherness and bonding

Anyways coming back to the point, one’s Spirituality and faith are a very private matter. My spirituality may be different from my own child’s. Based on his own experiences he may chose to follow certain traditions and customs and reject all of mine. And I should respect that, as Long as he creates a positive environment for himself and others. 

Diwali-The festival of lights and the triumph of good over evil! shouldn’t all festivals have the same essence?

For what I have seen in my limited lifetime, I have also come to understand a different aspect of religion. When difficult times strike us, we turn to religion, we are ready to add on more practices to our spirituality, we fear for future losses, we try to counter our insecurities with more and more religious acts. We start confusing spiritually with religious customs and acts. We add on threads and garnishes in terms of rings and amulets to our birthday suit. We start becoming conscious of time in terms of night or day prayers. We start restraining ourselves from doing or eating certain things on certain days. We start chanting out as many mantras as we can. We become sensitive. Our plates and pans become different from others. We may sometimes become irritated with who we perceive as religiously insensitive people. We may sometimes tell our children to start following specific rules, sometimes completely omitting the logic behind it. I have seen grown up children follow the rules in front of their parents to not break their heart ,only to break them behind their backs. The important thing to notice here is the GAP of pretense that our insecurity has caused between us and our children. History is proof of how blind religious beliefs has caused disarray in the world. Let us not forget that it was a religiously blinded man who thought of putting a hindu flag atop a Mosque, but it took for a spiritual one to get back up there and take it down. The religiously blinded were quarrelling,while the spiritual were reasoning it out. My faith is my faith and yours is yours, and each is respect worthy.

Rakshabandhan- the festival of celebrating siblings! Its originally the festival of a brother promising to protect his sister, but this can sometimes set wrong expectations and hence we celebrate it as a festival of love and respect between brothers and sisters.

I and my husband follow simplified rules. His version- do good and forget! Mine-send good energies in the universe, to build a good environment around yourself! My children may have their own version and maybe they have none as yet or it’s still in the process of formation. 

In the end I would like to say, the universe won’t ask you whether you sat on the right or left side of your husband during a prayer, or whether you chanted all the mantras that needed chanting, but it will surely question you whether your heart and mind was clean, whether you were aware of your own faults and whether you did good by others! That’s religion for me as I understand it, maybe I am yet to learn!

Papa and his beautiful women!

I was 8-9 yrs old when my father started introducing to me the concept of what makes thee beautiful!

I belong to a middle class family and my father , having risen from a humble background himself wanted for his children to be educated. But that education was not just about bookish knowledge, the education was about social behaviour, deep thinking and being able to take sound decisions. 

We were brought up with music perennially  running in the background of our daily existence. In the late 80s my father was posted in Africa to a remote country and for those 5 yrs we listened and re-listened to the likes of Hemant Kumar, Jagjit Singh, Lata mangeshkar, Asha, ghulam ali, Kishore Kumar and for an extreme soul searching we would switch to Hari om sharan. It was much later that we would visit India and buy the hip and happening songs of the time- chandni, Lamhe, Maine Pyar kiya, ram lakhan.  Evenings would be spent gathered in our living room listening to mum’s rendition of some of our fav songs. Papa would fondly record and re-record her voice as she progressed. Me and my brother were encouraged to participate during festivals when we would decorate the temple and spend the evenings singing devotional songs. Religious festivities at the time would mean gathering at our fellow compatriots houses on thursdays and sundays for Bhajan and Havan, what i grew up understanding as the difference in the name given to a South Indian Puja and a North Indian Puja. Limited resources sometimes teach people a lot and I was blessed to have grown up in that environment. Money apparently wasn’t a problem but avenues for spending that money was. So well we were functionally poor

At the age of 7-8 I decided I wanted to dance on stage. Most of the big things in my life have been built out of an initial delusion of being great at what I do, and thank God for that😂 at the age you would imagine a pretty little girl dressed up in pink performing on stage to “mere Hathon mein “, well not me. I was a lanky dark disheveled ugly thing bobbing on stage in an orange dress and a pink hair band to rishi kapoor’s “oh meri chandni” – I still have muscle memory of the dance moves. I remember my skirt slipping off mid way and how I would take the time out every 10 seconds to bring it back to place and then continue dancing. So much for resilience!

The current day me- Still at it !

I was otherwise a tomboy running around wildly shouting at the TOP of my voice. We lacked hair Parlour’s in the city, so for haircuts I used to have pots and pans of various sizes kept on my head to demarcate the portion to be cut , yes😎. Our clothes were hand me downs from our friends who had outgrown them. But we never thought less of ourselves and that was a blessing.

Anyways after my solo performance Papa felt that his girl had some talent based on the encouragement I got from the audience. So my delusion about myself lead him to put me into a bharatnatyam dance school. Soon I also joined classical singing. I have a keen sense of observation and I remember noticing the hand movements and general conduct of my dance and music Teachers. They sparked in me ,they don’t know till today, a lesson more valuable then dance and music, they taught me social conduct, they initiated me to the concept of grace , of beautiful over pretty. Of course even I didn’t realize it at the time. But it started an evolution.

My cousin Yukti- what grace! And a beautiful woman!( we chanced upon this painting Of hers on the Internet and it was painted without her permission , so all disclaimers in place -to be assumed!)

At the age I used to spend a lot of time with papa, for me he was the most handsome and humble man in the world. I used to watch the bold humble man express himself to me about all his life’s observations and I used to try to soak in everything. We returned to India soon after and I was again put into a dance and music school.

Puberty hit soon after. I have come to believe that puberty is a very crucial phase in a person’s life , be it a boy or a girl. This is the stage where you suddenly become very aware about yourself. All your senses become alert to things happening within and outside you. As a girl you become very aware about the slightest of change in your body. You are easily broken and easily hyper active. Some how it feels like an age where you are soaking in everything from your surroundings- good or bad. This is a stage which can break you or fix you for life. Papa played a very crucial part during this time without realising so or maybe he did what he did, deliberately. 

Papa and his little woman!

Papa would take me along to social gatherings and encourage me to meet elders and wish them. We would later sit in our living room with dad and mum pointing out how graceful a certain lady behaves and how beautiful she looks because of the certain conduct. In my mind I would think well she was not pretty, but if you say so , well ok. Gradually I started seeing those specific women in that light too. The way women talk, the way they conduct themselves, what they do as humans. I remember one particular lady who was my dad’s subordinate, she wore cotton starched sarees, carried a simple handbag, spoke confidently yet gracefully, sang classical songs in social gatherings, her Husband stood staunchly by her side all the while she went about doing what she did. I saw in my father’s eyes respect for this lady. My parents are still in touch with her and she has reached quite a senior position at work too. There were numerous other men and women that my parents pointed out for having exemplary social conduct and yet lived peacefully in their personal lives too. I stopped looking at acne free faces, beautiful bodies, etc as beautiful people , I started searching for beauty and grace in terms of social and personal conduct. 

There are different kinds of people in the world, and I believe each individual should be allowed to be what and who they want to be. But I also believe that for humanity to get ahead, there is a universal code of conduct which incorporates mindfulness towards other individuals and which makes our environment liveable. Following that simple code of conduct , makes living and loving much easier. 

Thank God for a father’s wisdom, now I know beautiful people!

The promising young beautiful woman in my life!

Emotional Indulgence while decision making!

We humans love to define things into right and wrongs. More often then not we attach an emotional quotient to it. For example- is it ok to hit your child when he does something wrong. The obvious answer would be that “ sitting down and chatting with the child is probably a better and saner option” . But the truth is as a parent you do tend to attach an emotion to the whole act. Sometimes you may be in the right frame of mind to have that chat with the child( I believe even a 1 yr old child is capable of understanding words , though you may need to repeat them again and again sometimes), but sometimes you let your emotions/temperament/inconvenience get into the way and you may whack the kid( though it also depends on the laws of the country you live in. In my country it is sadly allowed)

Judging anyone on their parenting is for the lesser mortals. So I shall refrain from that. But there are so many human actions which end up being dependent on emotion rather then a sense of right or wrong, basically the inability to think it through. And that may be a reason for a major part of our suffering. 

Why is it important to do things from a sense of right or wrong? Why is it not ok to let emotion get the better of us? If emotions were to rule the roost then the whole world will be divided between what I perceive as mine and what you perceive as yours. My children, my home, my family, my feelings, my country, my………….your children, your home, your family, your feelings, your country. Etc etc …..there is no end to this. Wars can be fought over these ideas.

What we do, we pass down to our kids as examples. I have 2 children. When they quarrel , more often then not I don’t know who was the fire starter. When they love, I don’t know who loves more. The reason for this is not that I don’t want to understand it. But it’s because  kids love and quarrels can both be confusing, because of the sheer level of noise that accompanies it.  But in their saner moments I do have chats with them, about what it usually takes to develop good relationships, not just with each other but with other people as well , be it parents, cousins, uncles and aunts, house help, etc. But most importantly the kids see me follow what I preach and preach what I follow. Their rules eventually are theirs to make, but I would like to have fed them a visual that’ll help them to understand.

BF150E1F-E2FF-4036-9AC3-FF48109B26AC

It is during some of these discussions where the topic of right and wrong and infusion of emotion comes into the picture. My boy who is 11 now, is sensitive to human emotion, and it’s something beautiful to witness as well as nurture. I tell him that the idea is not to always be able to differentiate between right and wrong while acting upon something because it’s sometimes difficult to isolate emotions from your actions. But the important thing is to learn to be alert about the havoc an emotional decision is sometimes capable of creating either by way of hurting or harming someone or coming in the way of your personal or professional relationships. And to be prepared to right a wrong that you may have done even though it may have happened unintentionally. 

Because the beauty of life is not about being perfect, but about taking responsibility for your actions and stirring the right kind of vibrations in the world, the kind of vibrations one would like to receive as well.
On that note…..AEE537A4-43A9-41C4-A332-995E42326663

A simple Life!

10D8605D-C561-4C7A-B4BC-B512CF257F87

Positivity is the absence of negativity even when there is nothing great going on for you!

Who are we without the comfort of the titles that we hold. Without the title of being a star, or a popular poet or business man, of belonging to so and so family or community, without the title of being a parent or being successful. Who are we when stripped down to our basics , without the satisfaction of feeling all that is considered worldly good and beautiful.

Are we decent humans, are we loyal, are we less judging or content in what’s been given to us, are we compassionate, honest , are we giving, are we nourishing. Are we happy, are we even half decent.

33C8FBC6-61D8-4A4A-A7FC-0CD0BDA8D84B

Becoming a Mother ( again a title, so I like to think of it as a by product of procreation and a duty which I fulfill with much love and nurturing and sometimes losing my mind 🤪 ) started a journey for me to seek who I am because I am conscious about what ideas we pass down to our younger generation.I am not perfect, and I am not trying to be . But my satisfaction comes from the evolution I have felt inside, for the unquenchable quest to learn more, to think more, to be more open minded.I have been blessed to have wonderful people touch my lives, even the ones who left small amounts of bitterness, because they became more important to my understanding of the need to unlearn and re-consider my thoughts and actions and to learn to accept more people just the way they are.

One of the most important questions I started asking myself a couple of years ago, who am I without the things/statuses/titles that the world has bestowed upon me. 8 years ago I left the corporate world and started my own business. It was an attempt to feel needed by the world, to build dignity, strength  and confidence, a status in the world, to belong. 3 years ago I started re-questioning myself what would happen if that external means of dignity was to vanish suddenly, and honestly at the time it scared the hell out of me. And it brought to surface an even greater fear, the fear of depending on external happiness to feel content and dignified. The thought crossed my mind “happiness, contentment, success should be defined by your spirit even in the absence of anything considered worldly good or famous”. It is not linked to how someone may see you, a famous so and so, a good parent, a good worker, a good home maker, from an esteemed family etc etc . These are all external perceptions, which may be right or wrong. Doesn’t mean that we should slack at parenting, keeping home, at our job, dim our light when fame hits us etc. Instead , Success and happiness should be defined by the efforts we are capable of and ready to put in to be productive for a greater cause. It should be seen in the shine of our spirit in the absence or presence of all the above.

CB17CA30-DA46-4051-8489-5526DD8A55D2

It’s sometimes important to ask oneself, what am I without being or doing so and so and being recognised for it in such and such way. If the answer to that sends jitters down your spine, maybe you need to re-evaluate the variables that your happiness depends upon.

AD525446-516C-4F41-A320-D29B23790562

I have transcended the path I defined above and am at a point where I have learned to be pleased with myself just sitting in my home drinking my early morning cup of tea, having sent the kids to school and staring at the stains on my simple shirt from the toil of the day before, thinking about the food I need to cook, or the book I shall read , the art I shall create, the plants that need watering and the social media posts I shall stare at, having my mild FOMO moments, then suddenly being shaken out of my reverie ,looking at the clock and reminding myself “ damn, it’s time to go pick up the tykes from school!!!”

I call this a state of being content within the means bestowed upon oneself because you maybe more blessed then another who may be fighting for their basic existences and you need to learn to be grateful for what you have, yet to know at the back of your mind that those means may be transient too. 

We are better off finding contentment in our acceptance of ourselves as simple people who don’t shirk from making  efforts and are content with simple pleasures of life, compared to living with a false sense of entitlement that the best needs to be bestowed upon us because we just feel we deserve it. 

I have been on a zen journey…….I shall be on it for a while more!

Why blog!

I love to write about my children, arts and crafts and life and relationships in general. They are nothing out of the ordinary , but honest feelings and thoughts put together. I store these write ups as notes in my phone notepad. With the recent spate Of data crashes, I realise I am better off finding a more permanent place for my thoughts. So here goes

The perfect date!

I usually spend a lot of time with my 9 year old boy. He is in an interesting stage, he says memories-worth silly things plus he usually needs my help in homeworks and music revisions. The toddler gets a bit upset seeing us get along at times. She keeps jumping between us, and we grab her for cuddles in return.

Last week I took her out for a date as the elder Brother had an alum meet to be dropped to . I dressed up, even managed to put on some bare minimum makeup for the date. Dressed her up pretty too. Packed our fav books , her water bottle, an extra diaper, some small cash. We held each other’s hands and stepped into a mall looking for a nice cozy coffee place. The toddler who hardly gets out of home apart from for playground,school, birthday party and family outings gets overexcited to see so many people , let’s just say people. Leaves my hand and decides to explore while I watch her trajectory. Now the toddler is unlike everything my boy was at this age. She likes to test her limits as well as mine. She knows no fears, but if someone was to come and speak to her, she would scream mummy. So i unleashed this toddler out in the mall. By the end of the first 30 mins( yes it takes that long to look for a coffee shop for mum with toddler, whereas an average person may spot it in 5 mins) the toddler had touched, in all ways inappropriate,
the mannequins in the windows, tried to snatch away a handbag from one, tested all the kiddie mall rides( she still hasn’t figured out the coins slot yet😈), and had almost gotten lost 2 times

We finally ambled our way to the coffee shop, she decided to take a break, sprawled herself on the sofa seat, legs spread out, trying to catch her breath.

IMG_0966

I ordered a coffee for myself and a carrot cake for the young lady. She devoured it hungrily and managed to save some for her Brother.

IMG_0965

I finally fell into the sofa seat and gulped down my coffee. Got out the Favourite books, lay them side by side, and clicked. They made for a nice picture.

IMG_0964

We were so exhausted , we didn’t read!

We just stared at each other making small talk, gathering the hustle and bustle around us. Soon it was time to pickup the Brother From school and the long arduous journey back through the mall to the car park😳 and the realisation -she is still stroller worthy!

Toddler dates are never perfect, but they make for interesting memories.

We had an entertaining June holidays!

5A4934A2-B67C-4695-AF65-7FB8A355766E