Friday, October 21, 2011

The Month of October in India=FESTIVALS GALORE -Chaitra Navratri Kanjak Ashtami before more festivals.. its been a reminder week how intoxicating , but starkly different life can be in India.  I take a 25 minute rickshaw each morning to a school bus stop and then a 1 hour ride through traffic in a vehicle that can only be described as barely held together.   Same thing back.

 Today our bus broke down (again) and as I sat waiting in the heat,  guess I read  the peeling sticker on the seat back within context of all the festivals/crowds.    "  Check under seat for BOMB.  If BOMB found,  get a reward " .    I do look under the seat, but its out in the crowds that I don't think about it.   The markets, shopping and common areas in Delhi are targeted sites for the various India separatist/terrorist groups.  But here I am and fortunately there is a students home nearby where we can get a cold drink.    So Life goes on, I guess. 

                       Chaitra Navratri Kanjak Ashtami
Kanjak Ashtami puja is an important ritual during the Vasant Navratras. It falls on the eighth day – the Ashtami day – of the nine-day Navratri festival. Young girls (Kanjaks) are worshipped on this day in North India and are believed to have the Goddess Maa reside in them.
On the day of the Puja, my family invited young girls from the neighborhood and washed their feet and while chanting a prayer they tied red colored thread with jewels on their wrists. A tika ( like a bindi but a red mixture is used instead) was applied on every girl's forehead and then they worship them as Mother Goddess or Maa. All of the adults and family members then took a blessing from the children by touching their feet. After the ritual the children are given ‘prasad ' (food) , gifts and some money. Even though I am not a child I also got to participate as a "kanjak" and even though its a festival for girls... my little brother decided to be one too. :) It was pretty interesting and in a country where  women are often looked down on its nice to see a puja that celebrates the girls.    In Navratri, people walk for miles from their homes to the temple.  I'll post some pictures of this and the temple/streets. 

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