Thursday, November 08, 2007

Happy Diwali

Deepavali started today. Today is Naraka Chaturdashi, tomorrow is Amavasya - Lakshmi Puja, and the day after is Bali Padyami.

In our Bhavasar Kashatriya community, we have a cold-blooded tradition on the evening of Bali Padyami. All male family members sit cross-legged side-by-side in a line wearing new clothes. The female family members perform aarati to each man/boy. First they apply kumkum (vermilion) on the forehead and place a flower garland across the neck of the man/boy (as if to the beast which is about to be sacrificed.) Then a silver plate having two lit oil lamps is waved in front of his face (I am sure, women are masters of hypnosis) and while doing so, they sing a jingle in sync (to keep the beast calm, I suppose,) it is in Marathi which is as follows...

Adi pudi jaunde
Balee cha raaj eende
Koti Dasara Koti Diwali
Heere maanik owali

Bhendewali mhaisi kaali
Koti Dasara Koti Diwali
Heere maanik owali

Raamaa cha raaj eende
Raajaa cha raaj eende
Koti Dasara Koti Diwali
Heere maanik owali

Daridra Lakshmi bhair jaunde
Bhagya Lakshmi aat eende

After the aarati is over, the person who got it done has to present the ladies with gifts or cash (yes, I know, it is terrible but true.) At the end of this ritual each lady/girl will have amassed a solid amount of money, all at the expense of poor men who are foolish enough to feel pampered. But it is the womenfolk who have the last laugh (aah, kaise bakra banaaya.)

Later everyone goes out in front of house to waste more money by bursting crackers. This is an annual custom from which men cannot escape. Diwali is supposed to bring wealth and prosperity to everyone. In our community though, it is true only for women.

Happy Diwali!


Sandy Carlson said...

What an excellent tradition!

I was reading about this festival of light elsewhere this week. The site didn't mention this lucrative custom.

What is the vermilion like?

I enjoyed your sense of humor. Very wise--perhaps some men are foolish enough to think they're pampered!

Thanks for teaching me something new and interesting!

Raghu said...

Hi Sandy, vermilion is a red powder that is used by Hindus to wear a dot on their forehead. Usually all Hindu ladies wear it and men wear it during worship and during festivals.

Applying vermilion on another's forehead shows the intimacy and respect they both share. It might be sister applying it on brother or mother to son, like wise. But for a lady, only her husband is supposed to anoint the vermilion on her forehead.

More info on the colour is found here

In south India, vermilion is produced in large quantities mixing turmeric with lime.

Sandy Carlson said...

Thanks for this follow-up! I do appreciate it.

You inspired my post for today.

God bless.