October 3, 2014

Chaos in the times of devotion!

In my initial days of blogging, I have seen her name on one of the blogs I read.  I wanted to check her blog. But every time, I ended up on her Gravatar profile. After much digging on FB and elsewhere, I landed upon her blog. I read all her poems at one go. And...we connected. Sridevi is one of those writers who write only when her heart tells her to and not because she has to. She describes life's simple experiences and emotions, pleasures and pains in the most subtle manner. If there is one blogger who I want to express my feelings like her, that would be her. She does a lot of book reviews too. If I am not exaggerating, you won't find a person as sweet as her to not say no to anything or hurt anyone knowingly or unknowingly. For once, I didn't have to request her for a guest post. I had to demand and grab it. Here it is for you all:

‘Ho mere husn de kone... kone kone di


Ho kone kone di..

Ho Baby doll main sone di

Ho Baby doll main sone di

Ho Baby doll main sone di

Ho Baby doll main sone di’

The raunchy number from “Ragini MMS” reached my ears from across the Ganesha Pandal . Since the last few days, the song had been playing nonstop so much so that now it had become an integral part of the air I breathed and the blood that ran in my veins.  I quickened my step. I wanted to complete at least twenty rounds of the terrace before the song ended. But by the time I completed my tenth round, devotion changed tracks. Baby Doll stopped and the priest began his incantations. My doubts resurfaced. Was it the same pandal? As I completed my twelfth round the answer came to me loud and clear.
No they were from two different pandals- from two different directions. But the chaos and cacophony co-existed happily- like two noisy classrooms with no signs of dissonance. As I walked, I pictured the two Ganeshas inside their respective pandals- their benevolence spilling, their ears ringing with notes of prayer and baby doll, their gaze unwavering on the devotees in front of them- some joining their palms together, yet others gyrating wildly to Bollywood numbers.
I resumed my thirteenth round. The devotion came un-filtered now from two different directions though
‘Yeh Duniya..yeh Duniya pittal Di’
‘Shuklam Bharadaram’
‘Yeh Duniya Pittal Di’
‘Amma take some sacred water into your hands’
Ho Baby doll main sone di
Amma will you offer the flowers to the God
‘Ho Baby doll main sone di’
After my twentieth round, I was tired. The prayers and Baby doll were drowned by the loud bursting of crackers which came from some third pandal. J in a small voice complained that he was unable to concentrate on his homework.
Bolting the doors and windows from inside, I remembered the Ganesha Pujas of my childhood. How the compulsive fasting from morning made us go all hungry and weak. The hot steaming modaks and the whole house wafting with the aroma of ghee and jaggery did nothing to help.
We did not want to worship.
We just wanted to gorge- on the pile of tamrind rice sprinkled liberally with fried peanuts and the halwa shaped into perfect little spheres. And we wanted to do it before Ganesha. But we couldn’t- not before the Puja was over and not before we listened entirely to the tale which my father would tell us. The tale had another backstory! The tale guaranteed good luck to both the listener and teller. Had it been told to us at some other time, probably we would have enjoyed it; probably asked questions too. But you don’t tell stories to a child with hunger pangs. Not even if there was a ton of good luck attached to it! So we just nodded, salivating one eye on the Prasadams and the other on the idol.
I came back to the present. Opening the doors and windows, I realized it was nearing midnight. The songs and crackers had stopped, but one of the organizers was giving a speech. I bolted back the doors and windows. Baby Doll was better.
Once more, I thought back of all the Ganesha tales my father used to tell us; How the kings regained their kingdoms after worshiping this rolly polly God, how communication gaps were bridged and friendships were re-kindled. Yes! Ganesha - the remover of obstacles and the bringer of good fortunes symbolized successful life and living.
Outside, the organizer had finally concluded his speech and as I threw open the doors and windows, I realized  the biggest obstacles did not always come in the form of scheming, plotting relatives. More often they came from deep within. Like an auditorium in an eternal state of noise; the discordant notes of anger, jealousy, lassitude and vindictiveness hitting against each other to form a fractured, incomplete song.
I went to the balcony. The moonlight shone upon the withered petals and the burnt away crackers. The streets were empty. The music also stopped.  I looked at the now empty pandal.
‘So how does your obstacle look to you?’, whispered a voice to me, ‘ The size of a mountain, hill or hillock..’
‘Nah...’, I replied, ‘It is like a smooth round pebble…with the colors of the sea.’
The voice laughed and disappeared into the clouds above and all that remained was the distant hurtling of a train along the tracks. I inhaled deeply and returned to my world of sleep and dreams; seas and colorful pebbles.


© :Sridevi Datta

29 comments:

  1. Love the way you ended it---so pretty. Your blog site is quite lovely, too.

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    1. Thank you so much my dear friend :)

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    2. Thank you for visiting. Hope to see you often :)

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  2. Thanks Latha for making Sridevi write in your blog.She writes beautifully with ease and fluency.

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    1. Thank You Mr K Parthsarathi Garu :)

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    2. My pleasure, KP Sir. Yes, she does write very well. :)

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  3. Thanks so much dear Prudhvi for hosting my piec on your lovely space :)

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    1. The pleasure is mine always, akka :) Thank you for writing for me.

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  4. interesting! but i hate small kids singing such songs loudly and with much elation..it is rather worrying

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    1. Even I hate it Ankita. It is highly disturbing ! :( Thank you for reading :)

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  5. I hate these Bollywood songs playing in religious pandals. I hate it even more when kids dance to these songs in cultural fests. Indeed chaos reigns supreme in the time of devotion. I thank heavens that I was never forced to fast for any festival in my childhood. :) Good to see you here, Sri.

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    1. He he Rachna, fasting was just for a few hours, but it made the waiting more fun. Even I hate when kids dance to these numbers. Thank You for reading :)

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  6. These item numbers from Bollywood films played on high decibel during religious functions is such a big nuisance. I am sure Lokmanya Tilak who started these Ganesh Utsavs must be turning in his grave after seeing this dance-song routines now-a-days. :|

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    1. Indeed Shilpa. These days every community celebration is becoming a big farce. Thank You for reading :)

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  7. Worshipping is the last thing on the minds of most who make a mockery of religion and faith. Loved the way you summed it up Sridevi. A pleasure to read you here on Prudhvi's blog.

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    1. Thanks so much Dear Alka and so glad you were able to connect :)

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  8. This was just a perfect post in this festive season where it is difficult to distinguish between loud music and equally loud mantras! Wish the organizers realize that god can listen without blaring loudspeakers and that description of prasadam was just too good! Thanks Latha and Sridevi for this post!

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    1. Yes even I wonder where has all the calmness and quiet dignity associated with festivals has gone. Thank You so much for reading Rahul :)

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  9. Lovely piece,i must go to Sridevi's blog.Thank you Latha fo r introducing her to me.
    About our 'religious practices' i don't know where to begin.Amid all this flim-flam,where is the core?

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    1. You won't be disappointed, aunty. Do read her.

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    2. Exactly Indu. Don't know where to begin. Thanks so much for reading :) And Prudhvi aren't you the sweetest :)

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  10. Beautiful writing as always,Latha...
    I have read Sridevi's blogs and she writes beautifully...:)

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    1. Missed seeing you in the blogworld, Panchali Di.

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  11. Wondeful write-up really enjoyed reading her post..Thank you Latha jee :)

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  12. Wow. Somebody finally said something about this. I used to tell my mom, if someone wants to listen to all what the temples and pandhals play, they would go there and there is no use of loudspeakers in every corner. Such a nuisance it has become.

    And lovely post. Heading over to Sridevi's blog :-)

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  13. That must be so distracting, the mix of music genres. Does one need to meditate in order to overcome that or how do you deal with it, block out the noise? ;) <3

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