LOHRI

 

Bonfires lit to the ancient traditions

Families sitting encircled in unifications

Winter solstice bringing in the longer days

This harvest festival in gratitude prays

January the thirteenth being auspicious

This annual fun and frolic so ambitious

Eating sheaves of corn from new harvest

Gurh, gachjak and the cane to sweetest

Singing the tales of mythical Dulla Bhatti

Relishing sarson da saag with makki di roti

Treating children to gifts and festive eats

Tossing peanuts and sweet sesame treats

In the bonfire traditional to drum beats

Welcoming newlyweds in the household

Or celebrating the first winter of the child

Lohri festival of the Punjabi Hindus and Sikhs

Celebrated by Sindhis in the world as Lal Loi

Worshipping the Goddess of harvest called  Loee

Wherein children collect sticks long wooden

Light bonfires, sing and dance as brethren

Sikiladi

—————————————————————————————————————————————–Published in the Coffee Table Book “DIWALI and Beyond” 2017 by The Asian Weekly:

Lohri poem 2017 TAW

Advertisements

EID AL FITR

 

The feast of fasting comes here

A festival that calls for share and care

For all those faithful so Islamic

The day observed with zest terrific

Bringing to end the month Ramadan

When fasting formed a vital form

Begin the day with a sweet something

Signifying new sweet beginnings

And praying Fajir in the local masjid

The incantation of Allah’s name sacred

The reading of Tabkirat becoming Divine

Adorning new clothes upon being well showered

Originating from the Holy Prophet Mohamed

The Eid Al Fitr commences Shawwal Hijri month

The Takbirs in praise of Allah the Great in gratitude

Forming a ritualistic Jamaat or a Prayer gathering

Giving Alms to the poor and wishing all well

Greeting and hugging to happiness swell


Published in The Coffee Table Book “DIWALI and Beyond” 2017 by The Asian Weekly:

Eid poem 2017 TAW

THE PURPLE BEAUTY

Gone are the gloomy dull boring pathways

Paving way for small bright color displays

A carpet on roads with purple uneven patches

Glimpses so many attractive within eye catches

 

Spring is announced with a lovely bold declare

Jacaranda is rich and blooming without a care

The trees heavily flower laden within the glare

Brighten alleys and parks purple without a spare

 

A heavenly sight proudly shown by the Almighty

In the little trumpet shaped flowers so very dainty

The fairyland feel comes from its clusters plenty

Growing in abundance this tough tropical beauty

 

The drought tolerant large rooted shady trees

In early summer and spring growing in sprees

Forming indigo arches and gleeful canopies

With fragrance attract bountiful birds and bees

 

Nairobi is painted in this purple hue all around

The clustered purple blues amid green surround

The rich foliage inviting is spread on all ground

The rain of these slender trumpets without sound

 

The velvety coat attractive under the clear sky

This generous sweetness attracts bees to fly

The slimy touch and look once flowers go dry

The sentiments praiseworthy from words comply

————————————————————————————————————————-

Poem of the month – November 2017 

Published in The Asian Weekly : Edition 376 (November 03rd to 09th)

PURPLE BEAUTY PEOM

CHETI CHAND FESTIVAL

The Hindu Sindhis celebrate Cheti Chand as their New year. Since the partition of India only a fraction of Sindhis remained in Sindh territory which came under Pakistan. Thousands of Sindhi families that were forced to abandon their abode during the partition of the country migrated to India and various other parts of the world. Since there is no state that belongs to this growing community, they are recognized as world citizens and have adapted themselves to respective cultures and continents. The uniting factor is their culture that marks Cheti Chand as their day of identity.

Cheti Chand is celebrated as the most important annual festival by the Hindu Sindhis all over the world. As per the Hindu Almanac it is celebrated on the second day of the Chaitra month Shukla Paksha coinciding with the Vikram Samvat New Year. Sindhi community commemorates the birth of their Saintly deity Jhulelal on this day marking it as their New Year.

Jhulelal was born in the 10th century in Sindh. Although his exact year of birth is debatable, some believe it to be 1007. The Sumras were ruling over Sindh those days and were very tolerant of all falths that were practiced. However one tyrant ruler Mirkhshah wasn’t very tolerant and threatened people from various religions to convert to Islam or face execution.

The Sindhis fasted for forty days and prayed to River God for protection. On the fortieth day they were promised the birth of their Savior child in Nasarpur by the River God. The child born on the day was accepted by Sindhis as their savior in the trust they had in Dariya Shah (River God). This child whose cradle would rock by itself was named Jhulelal and grew up sooner than his age and protected the Sindhis from conversion by overpowering the ruler’s tyranny.

Since then the birth Anniversary of Jhulelal is celebrated by Sindhis as their main festival. Since post partition of India the Hindu Sindhis landed up in various parts of the world as refugees and in the present times this festival has become to be known as their day of unity called the Sindhiyat Day. This day all around the world the Sindhi Diaspora prepare the Bahirano (a dome made from kneaded flour), sing the Panjras (hymns) of their deity and dance to Chhej traditional music in huge processions. The Bahirano Sahib is immersed in the rivers everywhere following the prayers as an offering to Dariya Shah (Varun Devta)

Jhulelal is also known as Uderolal, Lal Saeen, and Khizr Shah and is worshipped by Hindus and Muslims at his shrine in Sindh equally.

On Cheti Chand day faithful bathe and decorate the huge platters or Bahirano with a large mound of kneaded flour shaped like a dome. This mound is adorned with cardamoms, cloves, crystallized sugar cubes and alongside offerings of fruits, flowers, sweetened rice, coconut and a pot of water are placed. Having placed this affront the idol of the deity devotees partake blessings and in the late evening hours immerse this in the river.

Sikiladi

—————————————————————————————————————————————–Published in the Coffee Table Book “DIWALI and Beyond” 2017 by The Asian Weekly:

Cheti Chand article 2017 TAW

A letter for the old, fragile me.

Reposting this as a follow up on my work “Shame and guilt” when the #Me too seems to making rounds. There are so many victims and so few voices.

mendingmc

You are going to get through this. In 2 years time you’ll be sat on your bed writing a blog post on how you conquered inpatient, are in a home of your own, and can finally close your eyes at night without seeing the devil in the darkness of your eyelids. Your going to be get through this, You won’t have to worry about those ‘how are you feeling? Don’t answer that. I will tell you how you are feeling because you can’t tell me.’  you won’t have to think about the constant darkness surrounding you everyday of your life, tell someone, tell them now, sooner rather than later because they will believe you M, they really believe you. They support you, they’ve held you up, they’ve got you help, they love YOU. Not him. HEs lying, everything he says is a lie. You need to ignore who he was and…

View original post 576 more words

CHETI CHAND

 

The sighting of the new moon

After the dark night of no moon

Signifying the dark moves to renew

Emergence of the beginnings new

Celebrations of their Year New

Sindhis decked up in vibrant hue

Cheti Chand not merely a festival

Speaks of tales of the Sindhi revival

The first appearance of the moon

In the Sindhi month of Chet opportune

Birth Anniversary of patron saint Jhulelal

Also known as their Ishtadeva Uderolal

The day now marked as Sindhiyat Day

By Hindu Sindhis that gather to pray

Adorning the temple room in the homes

And placing in platter the Bahirano domes

Dancing the traditional Chhej holding sticks

And Lighting flour and ghee lamps with five wicks

Sweetened rice with cardamom  flavor

And chick peas boiled with added savor

Unites this day all the Hindu Sindhi commune

As to their Water God they offer tribune

Sikiladi

—————————————————————————————————————————————

Published in The Coffee Table Book “DIWALI and Beyond” 2017 by The Asian Weekly:

Cheti Chand poem 2017 TAW

Shame and guilt

This story is inspired by the trending topic #ME TOO addressing the taboo topic of our sick society where women are being treated as objects of pleasure by some. It is a pity that they are victimized and go through the shame and guilt of something beyond their doing. Thanks to Alyssa Milano this campaign lifted off to give at least a segment of women their voice to speak up about the naked atrocities.

Appreciative are the efforts of Nobel Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi at saving and providing protective care to the children (both male and female) who are either the victims or targets of sexual abuse and assault in many parts of India. 

Mira the shy introvert and the only girl child in the family was overly protected and pampered by all around her. Her simple demands of getting new glass bangles were met with gifts of beautiful gold bangles. Such was the affection and adulation that she was addicted to.

She left for school every morning along with her elder brother and returned home under his protective care. Life was simple, chores were basic and time a plenty. The siblings had a set pattern throughout the day.Going for their showers, getting dressed for school, having a freshly prepared breakfast along with a cup of milk ( Mira didn’t quite enjoy that cup of milk but had no guts to refuse it afraid of her dad’s annoyance). Spending till afternoon at school and returning to rest a bit and get done with the Homework. Once the Homework was done, they had all the time to play around.

Whilst the parents thought Mira was very docile and well protected with the whole family around her including a grandmother and a great grandfather who was always at home she became a silent victim of abuse at a very young age. In the early 70s speaking about Love and sex was a taboo topic in most Indian households. Funnily, if you heard a girl even uttering those words she was labelled as an immoral.

She was barely nine years old( or so she would think) when a far relative more than double her age came to stay with them. He appeared ugly to her from day one but she thought nothing much as he would stay a few days and return home. Alas! this so called far cousin was there to stay longer than weeks and months. He was there to stay for some years on the pretext of better schooling. Mira and her brother Mohan were not very happy with this but their parents seemed to be in a habit of having people stay over. Earlier it was an uncle of theirs who took away more affection from their mother than he deserved while staying over for a few years.

Mohan had detested the very time when an aunt had moved over from another town along with her family and they had to put up additional seven members besides seven of their own in that two bedroom house for several months till their father managed to get them a house to move into. Each time the relief of seeing someone move out from their house was short lived as another relative would move in.

The far cousin Dinesh came to the city from a small town and appeared a simpleton initially but soon had a corrupt mind and attitude. He was overly protected by grandma for all his flaws as she covered them up quite smartly. Little did grandma realise that Dinesh had his lecherous eyes upon her own daughter Ganga. Dinesh and Ganga went to the same school and she often had to put up with his suggestive behaviour. Knowing grandma’s fond attitude towards Dinesh, Ganga dared not mention about his behaviour to anyone at home.

Dinesh meanwhile became bolder having understood her dilemma and his naughty gestures and teasing touch became frequently repetitive. One day when grandma was away for prayers and the two siblings were busy playing Dinesh forcefully slid his hands into her clothes and pressed her breasts hard. This was disgusting for Ganga and though she pushed him away, she cried a lot. Mira tried consoling her but the nine year old couldn’t have understood the sentiments of her young aunt. She was disgusted. She felt like she had been raped. No man had ever touched her body like that. She thought she was to be blamed for this violation of her piousness.

When grandma came home Ganga wanted to cry out loud and tell her about it all. Grandma was in her own world, singing away, not even noticing that her youngest born was going through trauma. Ganga couldn’t dare to talk about it eventually as she was ashamed of what had happened. She took the shame upon herself as if she was a sinner. Dinesh was all smiles appearing victorious and his moves became worse by the day.

He started grabbing her in his arms at any given opportunity. He would pinch her on the breasts, kiss her and pass obscene remarks. In a conservative Indian family all this was considered extremely shameful and Ganga was suffering this shame so much that she lost her concentration on her studies. It made her into a very reserved person who found no solace with anyone as she couldn’t talk to anyone about the mental agony she was undergoing. The disrespect to her body not only caused shame in her but affected her health too. She started sleep walking and wanted to kill herself one day. Thankfully her brother Inder caught her in time and saved her but no one ever understood the cause behind all this. All she deserved was a comedy of scolding coming from all elders.

Ganga tried to gather some courage and speak to her mother once at least but without hearing her out she was shut down by praises of Dinesh coming out from her mum. Grandma had surely been charmed up by this guy.  His sexual urge was outgrowing his pants and one day as great grandpa was having his afternoon nap Dinesh grabbed little Mira in his arms and started fondling her. Mira was scared of him, she didn’t know what to do. Then as he continued to cuddle her like a baby he unbuttoned his pants and placed Mira’s hand on his private part.

Mira was astonished. She tried to run away but he held her tight and threatened her that he would call her parents. She wasn’t committing a sin but was made to feel guilty and ashamed by him. Lifting up her frock, he placed his member inside her panties. She was utterly confused in her innocence as to why would he do that. In a matter of minutes the ultimate happened right in front of great grandpa who was enjoying his blissful nap unaware of the disgusting act.

Mira was scared about what she underwent. She still hadn’t understood what the ugly act meant and why. She wanted to cry because her panty was wet and she was in pain. He explained to her that this was normal and she was supposed to wear wet pants as a sign of growing up. He further explained to her that her mother must be wearing wet panties too. She hated to think like that about her mum and worst even that her dad Inder could ever behave so badly ever.

Her dislike towards Dinesh turned into hatred after that episode as he started frequenting his act. How she wished she could tell mummy about it but was full of shame to even speak about it. She had understood what sex meant pretty early, in fact earlier than puberty. Now she could understand what her aunt Ganga must be undergoing as he claimed proudly once that she was not her only victim. How she wished she could run away somewhere as she was full of disgust by his acts. Surprisingly her parents and Mohan never realized all the nonsense going on right under their noses.

What a lovely protective care she had where she and her aunt were abused during the day, in the evenings and at night. Ganga was happily married off in a couple of years and Dinesh’s  gazing eyes were watchful of Mira’s pubic growth. How could she ever tell her mother that long before she got the first bra for her little girl, her tiny breasts had been pinched and bitten onto. How could she ever explain her pain and to whom when right there in front of her sleeping grandma she was made naked, fondled and acted upon.

Such behaviour is found in nearly eighty percent of overprotective conservative Indian families where men of all ages are thought to be guarding the females in the house. Unfortunately it is those very guardians like fathers, grandfathers, uncles and cousins who break their decency barriers and victimize young women and girls again and again, yet continue to enjoy the privilege of being their protectors giving no voice to the female members. This kind of shame and guilt cannot be justified by any means.