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.

Labels: , , ,