Rituals, Ceremonies and Celebrations

A recent article by David Brooks titled “There should be more rituals” in the New York Times,  got me thinking.

Like many Indians, I am no stranger to rituals – from the lighting of lamps to touching the feet of grandparents, my parents demonstrated small actions each day which anchored my growing years. Every so often we had ceremonies – baby showers for women and sacred thread ceremonies to mark the coming of age for boys. And rarely, we had celebrations – weddings or the 60th or 80th birthday of elders. While each of these provided an opportunity to dress up and meet extended family and devour decadent feasts, rituals involving death provided a cause for meeting and introspection. Winning a prize at school, graduating from college, securing a job or a promotion, were considered small wins that went largely unnoticed.

Not every life event requires a party but getting together with larger family for milestone events, or going for a solitary walk to breathe and reflect, can turn into rituals for those significant moments that demand attention and acknowledgment. Such private and personal rituals help weave together the frayed fabric of our increasingly disparate lives.

What rituals do you follow?

Off You Go

Having two articles out in major newspapers in two countries and ebooks on Amazon, has been a scary but satisfying experience.

Sending your words out into the world is no different from sending your young child to school for the first time. Even as you fear for your child’s safety, wondering if she is ready or able to face the demands of an unpredictable world outside the comfortable cocoon of home, you know you have to do it, as much for yourself, as for the child, because it is an opportunity to grow, to expand in a way that is not possible by being cloistered in a safe zone.

And then, your child comes home with a smile, having made a new friend, convincing you that you did the right thing. Similarly, I received many positive responses from total strangers who wrote to me about their memories and shared a bit of their lives, the satisfying part. The point of writing and putting it out there is to make connections and that feels good.

Just as the greater world will hold other experiences for your child, not all of which will be pleasant, I received a couple of not-so-supportive responses, the scary part, of being in a public space. Dissenting opinion and constructive feedback, both are welcome, because it is so much better than complete indifference.

Either way, a connection has been made. One that I intend to keep. By writing more.

What scary but satisfying experiences have you had? Please share in the comments.

Colors of Home

This picture appeared in the Straits Times, Singapore, earlier this week – providing a splash of color in an otherwise dull newspaper page, proof that you can take the Indian out of India but cannot take India out of the Indian.

A sea of colours swept through the banks of the Singapore River yesterday as more than 200 women of 42 nationalities decked in saris gathered in front of the statue of Sir Stamford Raffles. Singaporeans, permanent residents and non-Singaporeans from
From: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/colours-of-diversity

Every immigrant comes to terms with his decision to leave his country of origin once he starts putting down roots and participating in the world he now inhabits. He is richer for the experience and so is the new place he calls home, for the distinctive culture, quirks and cuisine that the “foreigner” brings.

What unique gifts do Indians of the diaspora bring to the countries they move to? Share your comments below.

Are all feminists women?

Every year, in the month of March, the number of articles and media bites by women and about women reaches a peak, thanks to International Women’s Day, celebrated on the 8th of March. It is important for women to speak about opportunities and inclusion, for safe workplaces and equal pay, for recognition and reward, for all that women do. But is it only women who need to speak up for their cause? This is not just a “woman’s problem”, as it is sometimes labelled. For women to participate equally in society while balancing all the other responsibilities they shoulder, men need to speak up, show up and support the cause side by side with the women who make their life worthwhile.

Here’s a thought-provoking article by my friend, Radha Rangarajan, who has written eloquently about the first feminist in her life, her father.

https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/a-daughter-on-a-special-father/article26481823.ece

Who was the feminist in your life? Tell us about it.