October 14, 2013
Half educated, half believing, I am not sure what rituals I want to follow on particular festive days. Finally it seems to boil down to the mood of the day, what else is happening and the time available. This time I thought I wasn’t going to make an effort for Ayudha/Saraswati pooja. I have to question the ritual of worshiping or doing puja to inanimate objects used in every day life. In a way, it seems prehistoric.
Festivals are for bringing people together in shared activities. And when the household becomes a 2-people unit, then the need to follow rituals becomes less and less. Many flats now form communities celebrating festivals together which seems a good thing harking back to village festivities. NRI’s have Facebook to share their puja.
We usually make do with our gardener/car washer/ general help. He is so enthusiastic that we have to provide all the usual trappings. Now he has taken to bringing them himself – in disapproval of my offerings of dried up limes and my aversion to buying yards of very expensive flowers.
This time he was here at 11 a.m. and started washing the vehicles. He brought his own lorry too. His brother and brother’s kids turned up to help. Every time I looked out of the window , there was lots of enthusiastic washing going on. I got tired of waiting for the puja to happen and we had lunch.
Finally at 4 p.m., he announced that it was all ready. There was a line up of vehicles outside including a scooter and a cycle. The lorry was festooned with thick garlands (the kind used for film stars), balloons, streamers and banana leaves. The cars were decorated with patterns in vibhuti and kumkum and sandalwood. But lacking the grandeur of the lorry, potted plants were arranged in front. And there was a whole bunch of people from his family including half a dozen kids. I had to triple the sundal, vadai and payasam.
The puja took quite a while because the aarrthi had to be shown to the wheels and pedals and interiors and exteriors of all the vehicles. To these people, the vehicles are their means of livelihood. They don’t stint on expense and are truly happy to celebrate. And we were lucky to participate in their from-the-heart , happy celebration.