Saturday, October 12, 2013

Of Navaratri and Kanjak puja

NOTE: Long post alert.

N's been out since 8.30 in the morning and I've no clue where she is. I've made two trips down scouring the society (and it's not even such a large one) with no luck. I've now sent down H to look for her. Gawd I'm so angry!!

But let me begin at the beginning...
Today is Ashtami - the eighth day of Navaratri. A lot of North Indians celebrate Kanjak Puja today and tomorrow. The standard thing is to invite seven girls, feed them and give them a small gift. The menu is simple enough - a standard - Suji Halwa, Puri and black chanas. It has remained unchanged over years, for that I'm grateful. The gift - which used to be a fruit or a rupee has changed, however.. into Rs 101, a chocolate, a box of sketch pens or a tiffin box. I'm afraid it's going the return gift way. Anyway that's another rant.

The thing is there aren't enough girls in the society to go around. So the same girls end up going to many homes. While some people take the trouble to call and invite, the others simply watch out for the girls and 'kidnap' the entire group. I understand it's not easy for the girls to say no - one, because they're their friends' mums who they see almost every day and two, (and I'm not being mean spirited.. just truthful) there's the lure of the gift. They might have a hundred sets of sketch pens lying at home but they will still go that house for another one.

What's worse, some women fast till the girls have eaten. So while these girls are traipsing around.. the ones who've set a schedule and invited them are waiting.. hungry .. sometimes till afternoon. How unfair is that!

Then there's the food wastage...
They cannot possibly eat at each house - with each of the hosts trying to fill the girls up to capacity. As a result they simply carry the food home. I'm a bit confused what is to be done with it. Is she supposed to eat it through the day? Can it be given away? Can anyone eat it? Since it's food made for puja I can imagine how much trouble would have gone into it. I well know how tough it would be to make time to get it all ready in the morning. So what do I do with the food? As of now I have some 20 puris and a big box full of chana and halwa.

Wouldn't it be better to give it away to someone who really needs it? How about taking a round in the car and handing it out to roadside beggars? Apparently the ones at the temples are so full they just want money not food. How much can even they eat in a day? Of course that's just a thought. It's to do with people's faith and coming from someone who's barely ritualistic it makes little sense. However something better can surely done with all that food.

Keep me informed..
The second thing that bothered me .. was N going to someones home without informing me. It bothers me if I do not know where the kids are, even if they're at a friend's house. It's a habit that, I hope, will stand H and N in good stead when they grow up - 'Inform me (or The Husband) where you are at all times'. Is that too autocratic? I don't know.. but it's a rule more lenient than my mums - 'Ask me before you go anywhere.'

Saying No
N needs to learn to say 'NO' (don't we all?). It's easy to get carried away when in a group. And that perhaps is the time when one needs to say 'No'. It's easy to think 'her mom doesn't mind and she's my mom's friend so my mom won't mind either'. Not true at all.

I do not want to take away the pleasure from the festival. I have sweet memories of it and I want N to have them too but not at the cost of larger issues.


  1. We make only small quantities of prasad and give it to the beggars at the local temple, at least we know they're gonna eat it.

    Kanjaks go to so many houses and so much prasad gets accumulated in their kitchens that ultimately most of it goes into dustbins after lying in refrigrator for days without eating.

    Isn't it funny how this one day girls are so wanted that people are waiting at streets for them to worship them, make them happy while rest of the year they are the unwanted ones?

  2. All very important questions the answers of which will go a long way in giving direction to children's mindset

  3. I am with you on this one completely!
    For a couple of years, I used to invite the girls from the building but as you rightly mentioned the little girls wouldnt eat much and I'd end up feeling bad. So, then I started packing the stuff in foil/paper plate and go out and give to the kids in the kachi basti. So now this is a ritual since more than a decade.

    Informing parents is what I believe in too. Aaryan and his friends sometimes suddenly decide to go to some friend's home to play on computer/PS2 etc (in the evening when they are supposed to play out in the field). He has to call on the intercom and inform before going anywhere. This is not being autocratic.

  4. Informing parents where they are going is a general rule,it is not applicable ona festival day if the girl is within the complex.The girl may literally be dragged by another mom and what can the young thing do?
    But for H it is unpardonable to go without telling in advance!!!

  5. @Shilpa: You're right. It's so hypocritical to make much of the girls just one day of the year.

    @magiceye: Trying!

    @Shilpa: Thanks for endorsing what I did. Reassurance feels good.

    @KP: I wasn't angry at her going there but at not informing me - each house has an intercom - how tough is it to make a call?

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