Adieu 2021, Welcome 2022!

कठिन परीक्षाओं का साल

कभी पास, कभी फेल!

कभी संगीनियाँ, कभी खुशफहमियां

कोई पास, कोई दूर!

कभी शाबाशियां, कभी उदासीनता

कुछ पाया, कुछ खोया

क्या पाया, क्या खोया

कुछ समझ ना आया

मकड़ जाल सी उलझने

ना अंदर रह सको

ना बाहर ठहर सको

सिर्फ उधेड़ते, बुनते रहो

बीते वर्ष  का कोरोना गया नहीं और

ओमिक्रोण का स्वागत करना पड़ा

नए साल में, नयी सजधज के साथ

कब मिले निजात, कौन जाने

फिर भी नए वर्ष का उल्लास है

मन हर्षित है, साल बीत रहा है

कुछ देके, कुछ लेके, कुछ खो के

कुछ पाके, कुछ संजोके

२०२१ आंकड़ों पर शुरू हुआ

और आंकड़ों पर ही ख़तम हुआ

ज़िन्दगी ना हुई गणित हो गयी

गिनते चलो, चलते चलो, बढ़ते चलो

खुशियों के फूल खिले

आपके जीवन हजार

आये आपके जीवन में

हमेशा बहार ही बहार!

इसलिए मैं आपको देती हूँ

सबसे पहले

नये साल की शुभकामना

बार बार!

इसी सन्देश के साथ नए वर्ष २०२२ का अभिनन्दन!

Go for GREEN Celebration!

Weddings, Festivities and Anniversaries etc. are in full fervour nowadays. People are in the celebratory mode with the best possible means but not without a high lifestyle quotient. At the same time, they want a unique element to the celebration. Some are choosing off-beat destinations to celebrate their special day whereas some are opting for green rather ‘eco-friendly’ weddings in every possible way.

Couple Planting tress on their marriage

This growing consciousness towards the environment is a positive step towards ensuring earth’s sustainability. A small step leads to big outcomes.

Wedding being a once in a lifetime occasion, you want to certainly make it memorable even if you are opting for an ‘eco-friendly’ one. To achieve this, you can opt for potted plants from the nearby nursery instead of expensive floral decoration which becomes a waste after a few hours.  These plants can be retained in your lawns or that of your near and dear ones, once the celebration is over.

Similarly, wastage of food in the Indian wedding is the norm and no one seems to be minding it but it does horrible damage to your expenses, sensibilities and creates havoc for your surroundings. You can opt for organically grown vegetables in limited quantities and keep a backup plan ready for the leftovers. This will certainly help the environment.

Gifting, another important aspect of Indian weddings, this season choose to plant trees as per your might. If you plant a tree for each guest of yours, think how many trees can be planted? This way you can create a mini-forest which is a good value-addition to the green cover of the area. Termed as ‘Miyawaki Forest’, where native trees are planted close to each other so that when these grow up, a dense forest is created. What a beautiful gift it would be for your daughter and her generations who would inherit the greener earth?

Says noted Environmentalist Subhajit Mukherjee who has the credit of planting over 60,000 trees in and around Mumbai, “Miyawaki forests are very important for maintaining the biodiversity of the planet. Moreover, with growing pollution all over, every individual must make provision for his Oxygen by planting trees. You can make your celebrations truly valuable and relevant by planting trees on behalf of your guests. This would be an ideal gift for your grandchildren too.”

Subhajit Mukherjee in action…

Recently, Mumbai witnessed one such green wedding where the father of the bride Mr Parag Shah planted 150 trees on the occasion of his daughter Vidhi’s marriage for Miyawaki forest. Indeed, he is a role model in such times when weddings are such a big show-off of wealth. This is his way of gifting apparel to mother earth, the way we do for our near and dear ones.

Parag Shah

His love for trees is well-known and his relatives are also very pleased with his initiative. But we need more Parags now…

India witnesses nearly 1 crore weddings every year, imagine if every wedding plants just 10 trees, it would be leading to the planting of 10 crore trees which would be a phenomenal number.

The talks about global warming, climate change, increasing pollution and increasing carbon footprints are not just topics of discussion but are impacting our lives significantly. The day is not far, if we do not arrest these, we will have to face dire consequences. 

In case, if you too want to make your occasion green by planting trees, please feel free to connect with Mr Shubhajit Mukherjee (CEO Subhajit Mukherjee Foundation) who will most willingly and professionally organise this for you.

Imagine you gifting your daughter or son a Miyawaki Forest, which would be inherited by your grandchildren too. Can there be a bigger pleasure than this?

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Mother Teresa Memorial Award 2021 for Subhajit Mukherjee, Mumbai’s “GREEN MAN” 

Subhajit Mukherjee, the noted & decorated environmentalist from Mumbai has the distinguished honour of planting over 60,000 trees. The recognition comes in the wake of his exceptionally insightful efforts to amplify and protect the green cover in and around Mumbai. He is also known as Jal Rakshak for the leading innovations done by him in the field of rainwater harvesting.

Mr Subhajit Mukherjee receiving the Mother Teresa Memorial Award 2021 from Hon’ble Governor of Maharashtra

His passion and concern for the environment made him leave his lucrative HR career and opt for working for the environment.

He received the award along with environmentalist Padma Shree Ms Tulsi Gowda and 17-year-old change-maker Aadya Joshi at the hands of Hon’ble Governor of Maharashtra Bhagat Singh Koshyari on 13th December 2021 at Raj Bhawan, Mumbai, India.

With Padma Shree Tulsi Gowda Ji

Ms. Tulsi Gowda has been awarded for her astounding and inspirational contribution towards the conservation of trees and her prodigious traditional knowledge of the same.

Ms. Aadya Joshi, a young dynamic girl who is also the recipient of the Children’s Climate Prize 2020 and is the pioneer and founder of The Right Green initiative, an initiative that spreads awareness by educating children and municipal authorities about using native plants to create bio-diversity rich ecosystems in urban environments.

Paani Foundation has received this award for its impeccable and extraordinary mission to create a drought-free Maharashtra, which is ecologically as well as economically prosperous.

Harmony Foundation, which instituted Mother Teresa Memorial Award was founded by Dr. Abraham Mathai, Former Vice-Chairman – Minorities Commission. The Harmony Foundation’s objective is to promote communal harmony and work towards the benefit of all the communities without any discrimination as to religion, caste, creed, gender or region.

Mr Mathai with His Holiness Dalai Lama Ji

Speaking on this year’s award, Dr Mathai says, “Each year, the Harmony Foundation identifies a theme for the Mother Teresa Memorial Awards and the Harmony International Conference that aligns with the need of the hour affecting humanity worldwide. This year we embark on the Awards’ 17th year of felicitating selfless individuals and organizations who work relentlessly in the realm of Environmental Sustainability.”

Speaking on the occasion, Subhajit Mukherjee said, “ I am truly humbled on receiving this rare honour alongside Padma Shree Ms. Tulsi Gowda Ji from Hon’ble Governor of Maharashtra. I have always believed that a sustainable environment is monumental for the survival of entire humanity and I have been contributing towards that in whichever way possible. My message today is Each one, Plant one!”

As responsible human beings, we need to notice that while humanity marches ahead in all spheres of what it terms progress, we forget our responsibility to its own future. After all, we do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. Unsustainable developmental practices have exerted traumatic pressure on the ecosystem and damaged it beyond repair.

The Harmony Foundation has proudly acknowledged the diversity of individuals from various walks of life, from students to corporates, who are no less than the warrior-visionaries of our times.

This year, it has honoured those who have dared to challenge themselves and make a change.

Reminiscing UMRAO JAAN ADA

Umrao Jaan, the famed courtesan of the pre-independence era was brought to life by Urdu writer Mirza Haadi Ruswa in his book – Umrao Jaan Ada.

The film Umrao Jaan is based on the same book. Directed by ace director Muzaffar Ali, gracefully and emotionally brought alive on the screen by inimitable Rekha, timeless music of iconic Khayyam and voice of legendary Asha Ji, the film was a game-changer of sorts.

Rekha with her powerful expressions, emotions, poise and grace floored the entire nation as Umrao Jaan. Her costumes, jewellery and the entire look became the talk of the town (read: Nation). Probably, people had not seen any courtesan drama in such a light which was so vivid, poignant, dramatic and still close to life (Pakeezah being an exception). Such was the power of the character of Umrao Jaan enacted by Rekha that we were made to believe that Rekha is only Umrao Jaan. What to say of the city closest to my heart – Lucknow as a backdrop, where most of the action unfolds.

Rekha Ji received huge accolades for her portrayal of the eponymous character and she bagged National Award for her performance.

The story goes that in the year 1840, a girl named Amiran is kidnapped from her family in Faizabad and sold to Khanum Jaan, the madam of a brothel in Lucknow who teaches young courtesans. Renamed Umrao Jaan, Amiran turns into a cultured woman trained to captivate men of wealth and taste with a melodious voice and dancing histrionics.

I vividly remember watching this movie with my mother as it was a holiday for me and not for my papa, so we could slip in for a movie easily. I told my mom that a new auditorium like theatre has opened in Pragati Maidan (New Delhi), let’s check that out. A self-confessed movie buff, mom readily agreed and we set out for our destination. We lived close to Pragati Maidan then.

The theatre did not feature in newspapers so we could not check which movie was running. On reaching there, we found out it was Umrao Jaan with Rekha’s big poster in the façade with silence looming large all over. I was quite disappointed as the subject did not interest me, but decided to watch…

…Voila! what an experience it turned out to be. An ‘Art Film’ in the truest sense of the term, it had a beautiful setting of pre-independence era, subtle & nuanced acting, poise, charm and grace of Umrao Jaan and incredible music of Khayyam. All the mujras were classical dance forms with classical musical notes. It turned out to be a treat for music lovers like us. What to say of Shayari of Shehryaar Saab…incredible…every word, every expression packed a punch!

It is a story of a young girl from a middle-class Muslim family whose circumstances forced her to become a courtesan. How she evolved while traversing various emotions of love, longing, betrayal and loss, ultimately succumbing to a life of destitution and prostitution.

The last scene needs a special mention where she goes to perform a mujra right in front of her house and she recognizes her mother. When she knocks on the door…the flow of emotions was just too much. I bitterly cried in this scene. Mother accepts her but her brother disowns her as she is no longer her daughter Amiran but a famous courtesan Umrao Jaan. It was one of those rare films where I had cried…

Those were the times when courtesans had a special place in the society as it was believed that they took forward the cultural legacy through their knowledge and rendition of classical music and dance.

Times have changed, social milieus have changed…I can’t say for the better or worst. Where these cultural couriers of their kind have vanished?

I am in a Kanjiveram (look-alike) saree which is Rekha Ji’s favourite and rendering one of the most iconic songs from the film – Yeh kya jagah hai doston…

The post honours the theme of the month (December) given by The Sari Club – #UmraoJaan #RekhainKanjiveram #Rekha