Category: Festival


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I have never viewed India as a good station of Christmas celebrations. Most of us generally consider it as a welcome day off amidst the tight work schedules and fog-laden sights around the city. I mean who wants to struggle in the chaotic traffic jams when you can be snug in a blanket at home!

But looking at the recent years, I am happy to concede that the Christmas spirit is slowly but steadily growing amongst the crowd here. Even the much-maligned aunts next door engage in baking cakes and cookies for the occasion. My office celebrations also went a notch up with everyone singing Christmas jingles whole-heartedly; a sharp contrast from the subdued proceedings last year J

But it was yesterday itself which I enjoyed a lot more. The day started with me watching “Jingle all the way” and “Liar Liar” on my LG LM6700 in the morning with my own version of Christmas brunch ;p And a little get-together in the evening with friends with some wine and “Home Alone Collector’s Edition” concluded my couch potato Christmas!

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And the delightfulness didn’t end there. Being an LG owner, I got a special postal card with best wishes from the LG showroom from where the TV set was purchased along with an update of their Christmas and New Year Celebrations offer. Now obviously I am not going to buy another 3D TV of theirs when I already have one, but it’s heartening to see such a gesture. Life’s Good when you Shake Up some happiness!

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After a week-long leave, it feels good to be back doing what you enjoy; which in my case is writing J The week that has gone by was filled with celebration, revelry, emotional connect and exuberance. I returned to Mumbai for a few days and met all the relatives who have been so eager to confirm my existence so that they can bore me to death with their stereotypical opinions and advice.

The first part of the whole thing was quite enjoyable if I am being truthful. When you consider that I spend majority of my time in the Capital due to my professional commitments, my social circle gets limited to office colleagues and it has to have a degree of insanity attached to it. As much as you enjoy this freedom of being independent, home sickness eventually kicks in. There were quite a few new souls I came to know about on this visit of mine. Like the new maid in our household as well as our not so noisy neighbors who have recently moved in. And the whole Diwali to Bhai Dooj was spent in constant shuttling to relative’s houses and social get-togethers.

The other part of the trip was intriguing and to an extent disappointing if seen contextually. The festive season has become a set criterion for adding something new to the household with new vehicles, gold and TV’s topping the list. Now I know as much about cars as a horse would know about an iPad so I’ll leave it at that. And I do not have too much inclination towards jewelry so let’s cut that off from the list as well. But since technology is something close to my heart, TV is where all my opinions came out and quite a few of them were a bit taken aback with my in-depth inputs. I am just going to recap a few instances which I found funny and infuriating at the same time.

Instance 1: My Mamaji (uncle) comes to our house to wish Diwali and bought two wonderful presents. Since my mom had already made everyone aware of my LG LM6700 Cinema 3D TV, he was a little curious of why I would go for LG when I could have gone for a Sony or Samsung. I explained in details the advantages the TV had and that it provided the best of all features which I guess insinuated him as he went on to rumble about how TV purchasing shouldn’t be such an inquisitive process and blatantly advocated in favor of a Sony LCD TV. I kept mum on the outside but my insides were on fire with laughter at all this naivety.

Instance 2: Our own household needed an upgrade as the 29” Samsung CRT has literally been surviving by the skin of its teeth and it was high time for an upgrade. But as it always is with parents, my Dad called up one of his acquaintances for advice. The lanky individual turned up at our place and instead of giving buying advice, he jumped on the opportunity to earn a few extra bucks. He assured my father that no point in spending big on a flat TV as he can get a 32” LCD from either Videocon or Futec (yes there is a company by that name) for next to peanuts. I had to work a lot on clearing all the brainwash and explain him about the existing display technologies. For now, he has decided to conduct some thorough surveys of the latest Smart 3D TV’s and assured me of making the final decision when I visit next so that went well.

 

Instance 3: We went to one of my mum’s friend’s place to wish Diwali and that tied up with them since they had also gone to buy a new TV. Fortunately in this case, her husband was a bit tech-savvy and did understand about the 3D functionality and Smart TV features. He had not made a decision yet but had his heart set on the Samsung 46” ES6800 Smart TV. Never the one to intentionally influence anyone’s buying decision, I showed him the pics of my own LG Smart 3D TV which left him in a bit of a fix. The good thing was that he had some awareness with what TV’s have to offer today which came as a welcome surprise for me.

Now make of it what you will, but the majority of the consumers base is still not enchanted by what a modern age TV has to offer. Instead, it’s the price which is the most influential factor in the purchase. At one end, you can’t blame them for being restrictive but it also highlights the sad fact that TV makers need to have a more cohesive campaign if the market for 3D TV’s and Smart TV’s has to grow in the immediate future.

No matter how powerful an evil force is, it’s destined conclusion is annihilation at the hands of Good

Well, this original quote of mine is just about applicable to any situation where the two sides of life; the negative and positive collide. You can relate it to a movie or a real life situation if you want but its most powerful significance can be derived from the moral of the great Indian epic Ramayana. In narration it may be a duel between an incarnation of God and a man of great wisdom who succumbed to evil ways which ultimately resulted in his eventual death for all his wrong doings. But the crux of the whole episode is that Good always prevail over Evil.

As a brief summary, prince Rama of Ayodhya is sent to exile with his wife Sita and his younger brother Laxman accompanying him. During this exile, Ravana’s sister Surpanakha is smitten by Rama’s good looks and despite of fending off her advances, Surpanakha persists which forces Rama to cut her nose. Word of the incident reaches Ravana who casts a spell over Sita and abducts her to his kingdom in Lanka. Distraught Rama with the help of his brother Laxman and the Vanar Sena make a great sea journey to Lanka and after some glorious battles, Rama is finally able to free his loving wife Sita and decimate Ravana.

The end of Navratri is marked with the celebration of Dussehra which roughly translates to removing bad fate from one’s life and society in a contextual sense. Artisans and colony associations by making large mannequins of Lankan lord Ravana, Meghnada and Kumbhakarana complete with embellishments and explosives and erect them in open spaces for the evening (Public safety is always kept in mind during these preparations). After a short intriguing nataka (play), artists dressed as Rama ignite these mannequins which lights up the skies and marks a triumph of India’s celebration of justice. The Indian sweet Jalebi is a customary delicacy which everyone enjoys after the burning of mannequins.

These times are also considered as a very auspicious and lucky period for new ventures, investments and purchases. The consumer electronic market is abuzz as people line up in queues for purchasing TV’s, mobiles and home appliances. Some even believe investment in appreciating assets such as property and gold is a solid thing to consider. I remember having a 29” LG CRT Slim TV before I switched to LM6700 recently. That TV was purchased way back in 2008 after the MRP was dropped from 20K to a much more feasible 12K during festive season along with a complementary pop-up toaster at the time. So whether it’s a TV, fridge or a juicer-blender you are looking at, this is the time to shell out the moolah and enjoy the festive season in full swing!

The second half of October is characterized by religious satiety. With the daily grind of life taking a backseat,  people immerse themselves in devotion and exaltation of mythological elements. And the utmost dedication the organizers and the participating masses exude during the course of these events in endearing.

The first event of religious celebration during this time is the ongoing Navratri. This is a nine-day period ending with Dussehra  where Hindu devotees engage in worshipping Hindu deity Durga as well as keeping fast for the complete duration. So surprising is the cause of reverence that people negate the unruly elements as well as stay away from consumption of meat during the sacred period. Moreover, people throng the temples to get a glimpse of the embellished treatment being given to idols there. As I write this, Hindu households throughout the North will be concluding their Navratri with a very symbolic conclusion through Kanjak Puja; serving traditional food to girls who are seen in the image of goddess Durga.

The other event being the Durga Puja holds more or less the same significance and is celebrated with great fervor especially in the Bengali community. The local and regional associations set up pandals with Maa Durga decorated in variety of themes and standing in her full glory. There are some lovely performances throughout the five days and there is a lot of traditional food being served for the visitors. The event ends with the immersion of the eco-friendly idols.

The atmosphere that these festivities are capable of generating is unparalleled and pragmatic. I was able to catch a short part of Durga Puja celebrations in the CR Park area and boy was it wonderful. I am planning to be there tomorrow as well in the traditional sari to see the final phase of the Puja. The events hold immense significance in the eyes of the population and the surreal involvement by people from all walks of life is a testament to that.

And on the commercial side of it, these festivities seem to have a catalytic effect of consumer brand companies who have great deals going on both home appliances and home electronics at the moment.  LG have already begun their pre-festival offers while Samsung and Sony have their own set of innovations going on. Even camera majors Nikon and Canon are geared up for the festive season ahead. As a prospective buyer, this period is the best in terms of offers and discounts on products.

It’s that time of the year again when the traditional side of me overpowers the practical modernist Indian woman. And that’s for the entire duration for the celebration of Mushakraj’s birth. Me residing in Delhi at this time does not take anything away from the fact that I am still a hardcore Mumbaikar at heart. The birth of Lord Ganesha is not only spiritually significant for the Marathi community but also a way of paying divine respect to elephant God.

I still remember when I was young and had read a very fascinating account of the adventures of Ganesha. One such was the instance when the little son of Shiva and Parvati is invited by King Kuber for lunch to show off his riches and power. What happened next was something that not even the God of Wealth could have contemplated. Filled with hunger, Ganesha does not stop eating till everything in Kuber’s kitchen has been consumed. And even after that, the little kid is starving. Afraid of what might happen next, Kuber rushes to Lord Shiva and asks for forgiveness and promises to get rid of his false prestige and vanities. It is then when Maa Parvati gives a home-made sweet to Ganesha to put an end to his hunger.

And the purpose of the Ganesh Chaturthi is quite rightly highlighted in the miscreant ways of Lord Ganesh who taught the wrong-doers a lesson with his kiddish fervor. The actual festival itself is a very colorful affair for which the preparations kick off almost three months in advance. Skilled artisans from all over India gather and prepare clay and POP deity figures of the Elephant God for resurrecting in the various Pandals through Mumbai. Devotees turn up in thousands to pay their respects to the spiritual God of success. The speciality of the Chaturthi is the modak sweet (made much in the same way as momos or wontons but with rice flour, jaggery and dry fruits) The celebrations with the added fanfare close on the final day with the immersion of Ganesha’s sculptures (also known as Ganesh Visarjan) to leave for their holy abode in Kailash mountains. The 10-day gala affair complete with fireworks gets a hefty amount of TV and media coverage these days. Due to the ever increasing population rush during the festival, organizers have made it a point to get big TV screens and projectors involved in and around the areas of festivity so that the worshippers do not miss the proceedings.

I for one have to say that the Lokhandwala area has one of the best crowd and receptions for the Ganesh Chaturthi. But even a festival as beautiful as this has a few negatives. One of the major ones is the immersion of sculptures during the final day which is incessantly increasing water pollution. The other one is the modern dressing element where in scantily clad people during the last few years has caused quite an outrage amongst the devotees. The trend has no doubt been spearheaded by the glamorous film fraternity faces.

Ganesh Chaturthi holds a special place in our hearts much like the Durga Puja in the Bengali community. The essence of both the festivals is also strikingly similar with Ganesha and Durga being sculptured and then immersed and believed to take away all the troubles of their devotees every year. But if the festival can become a bit more environment-friendly and devoid of free culture attire issues then the prodigiousness of the festival would get vastly elevated.

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