..and Happy Women’s Day

As a teenager, a thing like “Happy Women’s Day” would mean no more than the greeting cards that flooded the stores, flowers being sold at the roundabouts and the  TV commercials engaged in happy women propaganda’s.

And today, the scenario is pretty much still the same but  I am with a different perspective of course.

I grew up in a house with more women than men, read in a convent school that insisted on teaching values more than swallowing text matters and both of these combined, prepared me and so many more like me, around in this world for a reality different than that of fairy-fables without having to give up on the fact that magic and miracles do happen.

I wonder at times, what gives us so much strength to endure the passing storms of everyday life so gracefully or at least  make us appear graceful at any given time? Is it because we never stop believing in the magic of the “what ifs’?”

 Not only are we the living hormone factory but also the empire of overflowing emotions. I bet, each one of us would agree that it is rare we feel the same way throughout the day, each and everyday,thanks to the variety of chemicals and sub chemicals entertaining our hormonal system and yet it is the tiny little casual things that emotionally move our worlds. Ain’t that funny!

We are gifted with strength, passion, admirable inner and outer beauty, love and affection and the sole ability to procreate another life form. However, in spite of the all the bestowed grace we have ‘supposedly’ been set at the mercy of acceptance and acknowledgement of others and at least at some point or the other, personified to become someone else’s perception rather than our own, impersonating the many things a woman “is supposed to be” than what she “is”and the prejudice has ever since continued.

It is wonderful to reflect as a woman today, to fathom the system of creation that allows a girl to celebrate her phases as a little girl that chirps like the happy birds of spring, an enthusiastic and ‘creative in her own ways’ kind of a young daughter, a blooming lady in no-time, preparing her wings to set herself off with a basket full of dreams and aspirations.

With her spirit cultured with magic and miracles of bedtime fairies, she is pumped to explore her life of dreams that are only meant to come true. However there is so much out there that changes the whole equation of what she wished for and what she received instead.

There are rules and norms, perceptions to handled, duties to be fulfilled, sacrifices to be made, master the virtue of forgiveness, battles and insecurities to fight and the constant need to provide caped in a personality full of poise and grace to reclaim yourself as a women at the end of the day.

And in all this turmoil, it is our tiny little dreams that get shoved in the dark corners of the closet. Some of us never get a chance to look for and trace them back and some of us who manage to light the fire of our dreams and pull out that piece of our forgotten bit, make wonders happen surprising the audience that once doubted us.

I seldom smile to myself when I am forced to think if it is this gifted & secret power of women to rise like a phoenix, irrespective of her circumstances,the need for her to be suppressed, questioned, denied and treated differently from her fellow gender?

After all, it absolutely does not need a man alone to change the fate of a woman but the woman herself, who raises both a man and a woman to bring the change we still wait to see.

 ♥Cheers to us and to all the strong women in our lives!♥

Image Source : Pinterest

If Only

There was a time, like the ‘once upon a time’ thing, that all the posts on Facebook defining veganism would make less sense to me. I did understand that it was about standing up for the right of animals other than we humans, but its deeper implications in terms of travelling an enlightened route of compassion through food and lifestyle, hadn’t been that clear to me.

I did always adore watching birds and animals since the childhood days that I recollect and from stories that my family spoke of. However, insects and reptiles are ever still creepy to me but I am certainly neutral to them not having the first instinct to harm them at mere sight.

So, in continuation to the introduction and my almost enlightened phase, it has been almost 2 years for me refraining and then quitting dairy and a successful completion of around 8-9 months in addition,  absorbing into the whole peaceful concept of being vegan in terms of diet as well as initiated cruelty-free lifestyle. My spirits have been so pepped up that I even managed to pull my omnivore husband into convincing that this change is for the good of all of us.Not that I blindfolded and kidnapped him into believing in it, since thankfully he is an open mined and liberal man and I vouch to admire his general reasoning abilities.

Turning Vegan, on a serious note wasn’t easy. All the Facebook , Twitter and Instagram posts mocking vegan feelings, addressing humanity at all levels and the million dollar questions about “Where the hell will you get your protein from?”, all started making sense just one fine day.Well, and if you are an Indian & specially a Bengali like me, God has to come down to help you. You have seemed to have broken the rich tradition of eating fish which is supposedly “your” cultural trademark and you out of the blue, have become the revolutionary to conquer the family’s food system. Also when apparently, more than 3 dishes are regularly cooked (including vegetables) and served on a daily basis, it is because of you that the kitchen fails to provide options and there is a complete Food Panic Attack ceremony that blows its siren off. Weird and funny at the same time. 😀

I won’t deny, but at times I find this observed ordeal fun to watch not because I am mean but because my very own folks cannot see things that are right in front of them.

I have been questioned at almost every gathering so far, like a celebrity (Yay!) as to what meals I cook, do I not eat my fellow beings because I worship the God or is it because I am trying to save money?  And is my husband “who has no choice” has to stay hungry to deal with my crazy food choices and order food from outside? I am not even wandering around the ‘Protein’ quiz contests and having “nothing to order at the restaurant ” or “starving while on road trip” theories. I guess I am not the only ‘to-be-vegan’/’vegan’ who is bombarded with these trademarked inquisitive questions.

I’d be honest. When on one hand I am enthused explaining to my friends, the ethical and health reasons behind my choices, I do get most occasionally raged when being mocked is the promptest reply but gulp it down like a bitter pill. But as time has evolved around me, I feel the need to be angry or disturbed way lesser than before. Instead I begin to modestly patronize my fancy for baking vegan  cakes that are so less in  “calories” and in “cruelty” than otherwise. Atleast, “calories ” seem to make more sense to people today than “cruelty” does. It’s strange but is bitterly true.

witch-character-design_1196-50Off late, my spouse and I have also recognized  myself being influenced by the character of the witch who lures people into her house and feeds them with magical and intoxicated food, just that mine are vegan and definitely toxic free. 😀 Somewhat like an advertisement that yells out and says, ” I do eat good food and so does my family and there is really nothing that I am missing out here in my life.” And the moment the question pops up, “really, is this vegan? It doesn’t taste bad at all.” is perfectly a victorious moment for me and my now partly converted omnivore spouse. 😀

With all this and more, at the end of the day and after so many prolonged & futile discussions, it is hard to believe that we take pride to live in a world surrounded by rich, educated and doctorate folks when the wise ones are yet so rare to find. We believe in accepting those who have mindsets similar to theirs and not the one, that dares to be different even if the changing world believes it to be the right step taken. Today, there is a whole bunch of criteria we need to tick, in order to submit ourselves as “fit” to be part of a crowd and individuality is apparently just about being privileged.

thTravelling through stereotypes of judgement on the basis of gender, race, beliefs & culture, ethical choices are now, the most phenomenal addition to the list.

 

And in the hours that I spend by myself, petting my dog (currently the ones I foster), the eyes that look right back into mine, her cushioned paws that raise to give me a shake and that wagging tail and squeaky tone when she finally sees me after a long day, is so profound and hard to ignore. All it does to me is make me feel more and more connected to life in varied forms. Never ever in my slightest conscience can I even dream her or my other non human or human companions as being  treated so wrongly for the taste of my palate or pleasure.  Each of them have such amazing individual personalities and yet it is sad that most of us fail to acknowledge their existence over ours.

Do I have something different in me? Absolutely not. We all as human beings have been gifted with such immense qualities guided by compassion, strength and morality that if put in the right place, coexistence would never have had to be such a huge deal.

 

If only we could open our eyes once and listen to what our heart chooses over what our tastes and false luxuries desire, ‘peace’ would be a normalcy and not a luxury. If only, it was not for mankind, who is so adamant and blinded by greed that we force the innocent fellow dwellers run through the stairs of painful hell each day, there would have been more roses in the garden than blood that drains into the rivers each day. If only, we had more giving hands than those that take away, there would have been a little less tear each day that dried away into a silent sleep.

If Only… I Wish.♥

Pic Source: Unsplash

Gifted by the Divine

Believed to have appeared from the left side of Lord Shiva, Goddess Durga or Parvati attains her ninth embodiment in the form of “Siddhidatri”, meaning the giver of supernatural powers.  On the 9th and final day of the Navrati festival, the “Siddhidatri” form of the Goddess is worshiped in full spirit and enthusiasm.

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Being the one, who grants the ultimate wish of acquiring intuition, farsightedness, spiritual direction and likewise supernatural powers, Goddess Siddhidatri is worshiped by all gods, saints and demons across the heaven, earth and hell, with much devotion.

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siddhidratriThe “Siddhidatri” incarnation has four hands and is seen seated on a lotus or Her lion. With her peaceful and loving expressions, she holds a discus, a conch shell, a trident and a mace and blesses her devotees with spiritual enrichment.

After nine days of strict disciplinary lifestyle, fasting that majorly includes fruits as a primary diet, chanting the holy mantras  and meditation for most others, the Ninth day is the rewarding day with the gift of self realization and the much needed connection with the inner self.

Following the regime of the worship, rituals and fasting, the 9th day of Navratri, marks the moment of rejoice and cultures across the Nation, have their own signature style for celebrating this moment.

Scattered Hindus all over the world dance to the tune of the colorful “Garba dance” with vibrant colored sticks as the prime prop, celebrating the ninth day of the holy Navratri. Predominantly, celebrated in the  Northern & Western Indian states , the “Dandiya” or the “Garba” is a much popular and globalized festive dance and it is hard to resist the rhythm that it sets in your body.

For the Eastern India, and for the Bengalis who are crazy and overjoyed to celebrate the Navratri in the form of Durga Puja, it is their traditional “Dhunuchi Dance” holding an earthen pot with burning aromatic camphor and dried outer shells of coconut, done in the praise of the Mother Goddess.

For the Southern India, it is  “Bathukamma” where women dressed in traditional attires and jewelry, decorate bountiful and colorful seasonal flowers with medicinal powers, are piled in the shape of a temple and is dedicated to the Mother Goddess, inviting Her and praising Her as the life-giver and the goddess of Motherhood.

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With all the rejoice, festive spirit, awaited rituals and course of worship, the Navratri comes to a glorious end with “Goddess Siddhidhatri” on this 9th day of the festival.

However it is only the grandeur that comes to an end today, otherwise the entire stretch of these nine days are gentle reminder for all of us, to sit back from the usual run of regular chores and reconnect ourselves with the sweet change of the season as autumn sets in the stage of transition from the harsh summers to the cooler winters. It is also the dire need for the mind to breathe and rejuvenate, the time when migrated members of a family come back home to celebrate the festive spirit, the excitement of new clothes and an enjoyable break from the regular food.

Nevertheless, keeping rituals and ceremonial practices aside, it does reminds us the need for discipline not only in terms of clean eating but also clean thinking – one that sets the mind, body and soul to a detox or a purifying mode, enough to last another tough year until the “Sharad Navratri” arrives again.♥

   ♥ “Shubha Navratri” ♥

 

 

P.S: As adorable as the significance of  “Goddess Siddhidatri”, is this pleasing feature image of the Mother Goddess done by Suchita. Thanks you so much. 🙂

Others: Web

 

You are my world!

Day 5 of Navratri ~ “Skandamata”

“Skandamata” is the fifth avatar of Goddess Durga being celebrated during the rejoice of Her nine nights of valor and love, in the form of Navratri. Evolving from the stages of Shailaputri (as a daughter), Brahmacharini (as a student, lover & worshiper), Chandraghanta (as a wife), Kushmanda (the creator), She is now a Mother – “Skandamata”.

This name is extracted from the name of her son, “Karthikeya”- also known as “Skanda” and “Mata” meaning mother, thereby addressing her as Karthikeya’s beloved mother.

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The Skandamata avatar of the Goddess, radiates the universal adoration of a mother for her son/child. It demonstrates the bonding and love between Her (now as a mother) and Her Son, Karthikeya or Skanda, who comfortably sits on her lap, cherishing the priceless moments of His mother’s benevolence.

Depicted with four hands, the Skandamata carries lotus flowers in her two hands, holds her son on her lap with one and the fourth hand remains in a blessing mudra or posture and as a sign of protection to her devotees, against all hardships and danger. Even here, She bravely rides a lion, as her vehicle and is praised for her valor and strength. Some texts also portray Her, as seated on a lotus flower and likewise, also refers Her as Goddess Padmasana (Padma- lotus & Asana- being seated).

Being rejoiced and celebrated in the spirit of Motherhood, Goddess Skandamata, is not seen carrying any weapons in Her this avatar,but lotus flowers instead that exhibits her tenderness as a mother. Although, her riding on the back of a lion is symbolic of her bravery and courage, but the love that emits as she protectively holds her first son on her lap, is  extremely compassionate and delicately reveals or declares the undisputed affection and love every mother shares with her child.

P.S: Would you agree any less with me if I’d mention of the unspoken joy and excitement that a child can only enjoy with his or her mother? I simply adore “Master Karthikeya” holding a lollipop and being exhilarated in His mother’s company. Thank you, for the feature image Suchita. ♥

 Other Pic Source: Web

A Smile for the Universe

Day 4 of Navratri ~ “Kushmanda”

The 4th day of the Navratri (the worship of power for 9 holy nights), praises the “Kushmanda” form ,of the Hindu Goddess Durga.

This name of “Kushmanda” is explained in scriptures and vedic texts as- ‘Ku’ meaning a little, ‘ushma’ meaning warmth or energy and ‘anda’ referring to as the cosmic egg.

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It is believed that, when the universe was non-existent and was all sheathed under darkness, the avatar of Goddess Durga as “Kushmanda”, produced the “Cosmic Egg”  with her benevolent smile. Interestingly, She was so powerful and radiant that she resided in the core of the Sun, to provide it with enough light and energy and likewise the ‘Universe’ was thus born. It is from this section of the Hindu Mythology, that states the Sun God, being governed by Her.

In all sorts of depiction, Goddess Kushmanda is portrayed as radiant, glowing and luminous as ever. Even here, like her previous form of the “Chandraghanta“, She holds a discus, a sword, a hook, mace, bow- arrow and two jars of honey and blood and  rides on a tiger or a lion as her own personal brave vehicle.

The “Kushmanda” form of the Goddess is also addressed as “Ashtabhuja”– meaning one with eight hands and is symbolized as the source of direction, power and universal creation.

As per Hinduism, it is also at this stage, where the Goddess reveals or splits herself  into three significant forms – Goddess Lakshmi (symbolizing wealth), Goddess Saraswati (symbolizing knowledge & wisdom) and Goddess Kali (the slayer of evil).

Also, making complete sense and correlation to the Fall Festival, the bright orange Pumpkin has been referred to as being her favorite fruit. Ever since then, it is with sincere traditions, that a pumpkin has been being offered to please Her, during the course of the ritualistic worship. 🙂

Well, here it makes me say that, there is a little bit of the Halloween and a bit of the Navratri, spread all across the globe, making us feel yet more connected. ♥

“Shubha (Happy) Navratri”

P.S: Adorable as it could be, this feature image is a really cute depiction of the “Kushmanda” form of the Goddess, by my friend/artist/illustrator~ Suchita

Other Pic Source: Web