Category Archives: Celebrations

Munich hosts 185th Oktoberfest

The visitors also enjoyed a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, inviting everybody to celebrate the Oktoberfest. Visits on weekdays and during noons and afternoons became increasingly popular and the Wiesn has regained the favour of families. Also, more senior citizens found their way to the Oktoberfest, initiated by the Wiesn-tables for elder guests by the city of Munich and the proprietors of the smaller tents. The Oide Wiesn vintage area retained its reputation as favourite place for local guests from Munich.

In fashion, the combination of traditional dirndl dresses or leather pants and sneakers was a trend. An estimated 6.3 million visitors (2015: 5,9 million in 16 days; 2017: 6,2 million in 18 days) came to the Oktoberfest, including 500.000 guests at the Oide Wiesn (2015: 535.000, 2017: 480.000).

According to data of the ATM machines, the whole world visited the Oktoberfest, the top 10 being: USA, Great Britain, Austria, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Italy, Australia, Sweden and Belgium.

The Oktoberfest post office reported an average of 500 sent postcards per day. Beer mugs mostly went to Australia, Asia and the USA, gingerbread hearts were sent to Italy and Austria and due to the beautiful weather, most guests could also send their warm winter clothes right back home.

Festival officials, carnies, vendors and tent proprietors are happy with the final results.

The increased safety measures have been optimized and gotten used to by guests and security personnel. The stewards were mostly praised for their helpfulness and friendliness.

Food and Drinks

There was an increased appetite at this year’s Wiesn: The tent proprietors reported an increase of 10% in food sales, with a big request for traditional dishes like duck, pork legs, roast pork and kässpatzen (thimble dumplings with cheese).

Special offers at noon time and street vendors also attracted many hungry guests. Summer-like temperatures also provided a high request for ice-cream.

At the Ochsenbraterei, 124 oxen (2015: 114, 2017: 127) were consumed. The Kalbsbraterei reported 48 eaten calves (2015:50, 2017:59).

According to the breweries, the guests drank 7.5 million litres of beer (2015: 7,3 million, 2017: 7,5 million), alcohol-free beverages ended with a plus of 10%.

Mugs, please!

Security personnel collected 101.000 mugs at the tent exits.

Fun rides and Carnies

The speakers of the fun ride owners and carnies reported “A great Wiesn”. Traditional family businesses like “Rund um den Tegernsee” and “Zugspitzbahn” were just as popular as new attractions.

Souvenirs

Fridge magnets and similar items were the souvenirs most sold. In the balloon department, unicorns and flamingos were the absolute favourites. At night, balloons equipped with LEDs lighted the way for Oktoberfest guests.

You can also order your favourite souvenirs online at the Oktoberfest.de Shop.

The Wiesn-Hit

This year’s newcomer hit was “Cordula Grün” by Josh, followed by revolutionaries’ classic “Bella Ciao”. Neil Diamonds’ “Sweet Caroline” or “Highway To Hell” by AC/DC still rocked the beer tents.

The official Oktoberfest-App on the rise

In its second year, the official Oktoberfest App was received very positively by visitors, tent runners and carnies. A total of 170.000 downloads and twice as many downloads as last year (80.000) show its success.

Lost and Found

By the end of the Wiesn, the Oktoberfest lost and found office counted 2.685 finds, among them: 840 passports, 460 wallets, 350 pieces of clothing, 350 phones, 300 keys, 140 glasses, 130 pieces of jewellery, 90 bags and rucksacks, 20 umbrellas and 5 cameras.

Remarkable finds were also: Both of one couple’s wedding rings, a food delivery box, a sheet for documenting accidents on your way to work from 2015, a laptop, a brochure display stand, a dog leash, golden ballerinas and a company’s internal shooting stand ranking.

Courtesy: Oktoberfest.de

MTDC supports Lit-O-Fest 2018 in London

Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation supported the Lit-O-Fest 2018 in London which provides a platform to emerging and award-winning talent in the field of literature, art and culture.

: Smt. Smita GLK Parikh, Lit-O-Fest Director; Smt. Reeva R Jadeja, Awardee; Shri Mahendra Sinh Jadeja, Li-O-Fest International Advisory; Shri Pankaj Dubey, Author; Shri Jaykumar Rawal, Hon’ble Minister of Tourism; Shri.Vijay Kumar Gautam, Principal Secretary, Department of Tourism, Government of Maharashtra;Shri Anup Jalota, Renowned Singer; Smt. Ekta Sodha, CEO, Cadmus Education

Lit-O-Fest 2018 London felicitated the legendary achievers by presenting them the Global Innovation Awards 2018 to the artists including Anup Jalota, Radhakrishna Pillai and Ekta Sodha among others at the British Parliament. Lit-O-Fest 2018 London has also launched 15 books written by teenagers aimed to encourage the budding talents across the globe.

MTDC successfully holds the first ever Tourism Road Show in China

With the rising tide of Chinese tourists visiting India, Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) participated in Tourism Roadshow in China organised by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India in association with Indian Embassy, Beijing and Consulate General of India in Guangzhou and Shanghai which was successfully concluded in major cities including Guangzhou, Wahun and Shanghai from 28th August 2018 to 2nd September 2018 in the presence of Shri K J Alphons Hon’ble Tourism Minister, Government of India, Shri Jaykumar Rawal Hon’ble Tourism Minister, Government of Maharashtra, Shri. Gautam Bambawale Indian Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, Vice Governor Hube region Wuhan, Mr Chang Hyei and other officials were present.

Tourism Roadshow in China consisted of buyer-seller meet, Incredible India seminar, a presentation on tourism promotion strategy by Chinese companies which focussed on why Chinese travellers should travel to India and the state of Maharashtra. The main aim of Tourism Roadshow in China is to draw Chinese travellers by highlighting the Buddhist circuits across the state and the country. Circuits in Aurangabad, Pune, Nashik, Mumbai, Satara & Kolhapur, Raigad and Nagpur were promoted to encourage Buddhist Tourism. In fact, MTDC preserves and encourages the rich heritage and Buddhist culture of the state of Maharashtra and influences them in the expansion of a world-class, sustainable site of distinction which enhances the lives of travellers and inhabitants alike.

China is one of the major outbound tourist market in the world, which generates 144 million outbound travellers. The association aims to tap the Chinese market and increasing Chinese tourist arrivals to India along with maximum footfall in Maharashtra. The objective of this roadshow was to create awareness of the state and several destinations among Chinese travellers.

Commenting on the occasion, Shri Jaykumar Rawal, Hon’ble Minister of Tourism, Government of Maharashtra said, “It’s a pleasure to perceive that the roadshow has received an overwhelming response from all the stakeholders across China. Maharashtra is already becoming a preferred destination among international travellers. The roadshow was a new experience for the members of both the nations, as it gave a prospect of exchanging new ideas and facts about our countries which will assist us to attract Chinese travellers. Maharashtra has successfully entered the Chinese Tourism market in the first of it’s kind road show and time has come to work to unlock the huge potential of Tourism and Maharashtra has all that a Chinese traveller would need right from heritage to contemporary state of the art accommodation units”

Shri Vijay Kumar Gautam (IAS), Principal Secretary, Department of Tourism, Government of Maharashtra added, “We have received an overwhelming response from China during this Tourism Roadshow.  MTDC has showcased various Buddhist circuits of the state and encouraged the Chinese travellers to explore Buddhist Tourism in the state of Maharashtra. This Roadshow has assisted us in strengthening our ties with China. It is just a beginning and I think a lot of things are yet to be explored, we look forward to inviting more Chinese travellers to our country in the years to come.”

 

& the Baraat Beckons!

Coming back to where I had left on Arjun’s Wedding!

It was in a long time I was going to be part of a family baraat. The concept of baraat is not that strong in Mumbai as you are invited to the venue – Hall (Read: Hole by Gujaratis),  straight for the reception, hand over Cover ( Read: Shagan) and finally Jaman ( Banquets). Your visit to marriage is over.  But that is not the case in North India, we all love to be part of baraat, welcomed by Ladkiwalas, enjoy some good music, catch up with long lost relatives, have fun with friends, cousins…welcome bride to the mandap and then finally jaimaal.  Of course, baraat procession is to watch out for. You can dance your heart out, or if you can’t dance, you can watch people dancing!

After rocking sangeet, the day came for Baraat, for which all of us were quite excited. After ceremonious sehrabandi, Gurchari and temple visit, the baraat left for the venue in singing and dancing mode. The crowds danced like as if no one is watching to Bhangra beats, hip-hops wat not. Music was loud, but we all loved it. Arjun was looking every inch a Prince in the Chariot and Jijaji, handsome father of Prince ( So you understood who) and Vandana, proud mom of Dulha.

The bride looked resplendent in beautiful designer maroon velvet lehenga, complimenting the outfit of the groom and they made a breathtakingly handsome couple, much in love, they proceeded for the Jaimaal.

In between all this and more, we enjoyed sumptuous cuisine spread laid out by Leela Palace banquets.

Coming to fashion trends, heavily embroidered lehengas are in vogue mostly in pastel shades, teamed with just one heavy neckpiece. Tanvi, Arjun’s sister looked like a princess in her ivory, gold and dabka work lehenga with her doll Omairra in tow, probably in a designer one.

For me, Designer Yashi, suggested Lehenga for me for the first time for baraat, though I was quite apprehensive about her choice. But she convinced me and selected a teal colour raw silk lehenga with pure georgette dupatta, straight cut outfit. She styled, stitched and sent the Triveni Set for me, which I could not even try due to the paucity of time and watch yourself, how beautiful it complimented me.  Never before, I had received so many compliments on the choice.

Please watch the breathtakingly beautiful performances by Egyptian troupe put – up for the Saxena & Sharma family members.

Truly a memorable one!

 

To be or not to be in Arjun’s Marriage?

After a long time, my cousin Vandana broke the news of her son Arjun’s marriage, in the end, January 2018, which we have been keenly waiting. My joy knew no bounds about the news, as it offered meeting my maasis, maasas, maamas, maamis, naana, naanis, nieces, nephews, grand-children Omairra and a whole lot of my nanihaal side brethren, moreover another chance of visiting my hometown New Delhi

As February approached, in office the dates of Real-Estate Golden Pillar Awards were announced and lo and behold the date finalised was April 24. Though I had booked tickets for April 24 to attend Sangeet on April 25 and marriage on 26th April but my hopes really dashed with the awards dates. Still maintaining the eerie silence on the mental dilemma – to be or not to be in Arjun’s marriage took a heavy toll on my thinking. One side was official responsibilities and on other side was family commitment. I announced at home, it looks impossible but let’s hope against hope, some miracle to happen. And it really happened, after a lot of deliberations, dates got shifted to May 5. I took a breather and started preparations for THE marriage in my nanihaal – my nephew!

Before leaving, I tried to complete as much work as possible amidst preparations of marriage. Still, it was looking impossible to leave as a lot of work remained on my plate and I was discouraged no end by some quarters. But I must say that my teammates Bhagyashree, Reena and Fatima took all on them and made sure that I left for Delhi joyfully. The trip is dedicated to them and not to miss the mention of my colleague T.D. Joseph who made sure that I attend this marriage. Amidst all this and more, I left for Delhi in my favourite train Rajdhani Express…for rest you read below:

I would like to make special mention of TriveniEthnics’ Ms Yashi Kavita Das who took the onus of my styling for sangeet and baraat by selecting, designing, stitching and delivering me the appropriate outfits for this special occasion. It took off so much burden from my head. An off-white lehenga teamed with electric blue dupatta with sequins all over was decided for sangeet which turned out to be a big hit amidst ladies’ present. It looked sober and bright at the same time and I was successful in achieving that Chennai Express look. The outfit is so light that it provided me utmost comfort while dancing, even doing some major steps.

Now comes evening full of fun, frolic, music, dance and dining and winning. Vandana and Jijaji made sure that guests had a great time during their son’s sangeet. DJ belted out some great musical medleys, bhangra beats to new songs, old songs and some very old songs. Jijaji dancing for her wife, Vandana, Ae Meri Zohra Jabin…la Amrish Puri style made for quite a performance. Me Jijaji and Meeta Pandey dancing on Kajra re Kajra re tere kare kare naina followed by me and Meeta dancing Kaun Pardesi tera dil le gaya and Arjun taking the cake with his performance, Chandani o meri chandani ( Bride’s name Chandani). Dimpy and Rimpy matching the steps on heavy-duty bhangra beats and Raja with lovely wife putting up some heave duty dancing was a sight to watch out for. Music was great, food was sumptuous and enthusiasm of the family noticeable.

Amidst all this and more, we danced till 1 PM in the night only to prepare for some great fun in baraat following day, accompanied with my husband Mukund. 

 

 

 

 

Ajmer: The abode of the holy shrine – Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti

Last night while watching Travel XP, I noticed they were showing a Dargah, which looked very familiar to me and my joy knew no bounds when I came to know that it was none other than famed Dargah of Ajmer, Rajasthan, India.

I have very fond childhood memories of visiting Dargah when my chacha (father’s younger brother) use to take us while we visited him during our summer vacations in our school days. I was very fascinated by the shrine as it had very divine and serene atmosphere with a huge congregation of devotees always. Childhood memories became vivid as the show moved on, I recollected visiting all these places as a child but unfortunately could not visit in a long time, though I always long to visit the place especially for Dargah.

Any tourist visiting the state of Rajasthan cannot afford to miss the Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti Dargah in Ajmer besides many other things which beautiful city of Ajmer has to offer. It is old saying that people who visit Ajmer Sharif and pray with pure faith and loyalty at his Dargah will free their soul. Hazrat Khawaja Moinuddin Hasan Chishti is also known by different names as, Khawaja Gharib Nawaz, “Sultan-Ul-Hind”, Khwaja Baba, Khwaja Gharib Nawaz Ajmeri, Khwaja Sahib, Khwaja Saheb, Khwaja Ajmeri Saint Moinuddin Chishty. The Dargah Khawaja Gharibnawaz ( R.A) has several tombs, buildings, Daalaans and courtyards are of  Mughal architecture. As a child, the big degchi fascinated me the most where tons of rice was cooked for Chadava and devotees. I always wondered how they would be cooking in such a huge vessel and that still remains a mystery.

Ajmer Sharif Dargah, Ajmer Dargah, Ajmer Sharif or Dargah Sharif is a Sufi shrine (Dargah) of a Sufi saint, Moinuddin Chishti located in Ajmer, Rajasthan, India. The shrine has the grave (Maqbara) of the revered saint, Moinuddin Chisti. The dargah of Moinuddin Chishti (Gharib Nawaz -Benefactor of the Poor), is an international waqf, an Islamic mortmain managed by the Dargah Khwaja Saheb Act, 1955 of the Government of India.

Ajmer Sharif Dargah is 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) away from the main central Ajmer Railway station and situated at the foot of the Taragarh hill, and consists of several white marble buildings arranged around two courtyards, including a massive gate donated by the Nizam of Hyderabad and the Akbari Mosque, built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. It contains the domed tomb of the saint.

Akbar and his queen used to come here by foot on pilgrimage from Agra every year in observance of a vow when he prayed for a son. The large pillars called “Kose (‘Mile’) Minar”, erected at intervals of two miles (3 km) along the entire way between Agra and Ajmer mark the places where the royal pilgrims halted every day. It has been estimated that around 150,000 pilgrims visit the site every day.

The main gate to the shrine is the Nizam Gate, followed by the Shahjahani Gate, erected by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. In turn, it is followed by the Buland Darwaza, built by Sultan Mahmood Khilji, upon which is hoisted the urs flag, marking the beginning of the death anniversary rituals.

So if you are planning a trip to Rajasthan, do pay obeisance to the holy shrine in Ajmer and achieve that unique divine experience.

Source: Wikipedia

Head towards The Lil Flea Mumbai, this weekend!

The Lil Flea, a festival of shopping, food & music, good vibes and perhaps the largest & happiest of its kind in the country is back in the bay! With fairy lights , cozy tents, happy vibes, hundreds of pop up shops from all over the country, experimental and fusion foods, some of the best up & coming live bands, movie screenings, the lil book exchange, a well-stocked bar and a whole host of little things, this festival promises to keep you occupied for a happy weekend!

Be there for:

PopUp Shops from all over the country: If you love shopping or simply exploring what’s buzzing in the market, then The Lil Flea has to be on your bucket list. The Lil Flea brings together some of the best homegrown shops from across the country with contemporary apparel, quirkily printed shoes, chic bags, handmade jewellery, digital pop art and heaps of cool things to keep shoppers busy for a whole day or more.

Experimental & Fusion Foods: Being a discovery platform, the people of The Lil Flea are always on the lookout for amazing up & coming food chefs, bakers and niche food brands. Rest assured that you will be spoilt for choice here

Music: Listen to some of the country’s best up &coming indie musicians perform live as you chill on the turf, sip on a drink or make yourself comfortable in a teepee. Stay tuned for the full lineup

The Lil Book Exchange: Bring a book along you can exchange it for another without any price at the Lil Book Exchange.

Movie Lounge: Adding a nostalgic touch to The Lil Flea, the team has decided to host some cool classics through the day. Make yourself comfortable on some comfy pillows, sip on a Bira provided as an optional combo offer or simply grab some pop corn. Pre-register for these sessions if you are wise, as the numbers of headphones are likely limited.

Festival Bar: If the weekend calls for a drink or two, make sure you drop by to The Lil Flea’s Festival bar. Placed right next to the music stage, listen to the music as you choose from a delectable selection of handpicked cocktails, wines, sangraias, alcohol golas and slushies and some really great offers from our new favourite Bira

One Lil Tree: Join this small but amazing movement to help improve the way we live and the air we breathe. Collect your free seeds to plant in your home, adopt a plant or learn the art of organic gardening.

The Happy Vibe: You can feel the happiness in the air when you visit The Lil Flea. Happy sellers, happy visitors, fun sit outs, beautiful bohemian décor all come together at this festival to make it one weekend to remember.

You can book your tickets on Insider.in for Rs. 249 for a single day and Rs. 400 for all three days.

Not to be missed this unique event this weekend.

Fond memories of Ghoomar Dance then & Now Padmavati!

Most amazingly rendered by versatile actor and Dancing Diva (Indeed no other actor is close to her in this art) Deepika Padukone, Ghoomar Dance has lifted the mood of movie buffs like me, after a long time. (Read: Mastani song & mohe rang de laal in Bajirao Mastani). The slightly over three minutes song sees the diva performing the Rajasthani folk dance to the hilt. Buzz is that the actress did as many as 66 twirls in the duration of the entire song while donning her heavy attire and jewellery. The song is sung by Shreya Ghoshal and Swaroop Khan while the lyrics are penned by A M Turaz and Rajasthani lyrics are by Swaroop Khan. Kruti Mahesh Midya and Ghoomar training artist by Jyothi D Tommaar made Deepika learn the craft to perfection. Can’t wait for December 1. Would watch it for Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s histrionics and Deepika’s Ghoomer and bada phatakaa – Ranveer Singh!

Not to miss, unsurmountable Rajasthani Culture & History!

After watching the release of the first song of the highly anticipated movie of the year Padmavati,  directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Produced by Viacom18 Motion Pictures and Bhansali Productions, slated to release on 1st December 2017, the memories of Ghoomar Dance danced before my eyes…

…Me as a kid performed Ghoomar Dance in Kala Milan Samaroh at my father’s Office Cultural Day celebrations in the presence of Late Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi. The rehearsals lasted for over a month conducted by very strict dance teacher Rathore Sir (Term Choreographer was not known then).  Indeed the result was smashing! Everybody loved the dance performed by daughters of BHEL employees. I must admit that it was the most rehearsed dance I had done ever, so much so, that mummy asked me to quit mid-way as my studies suffered. But for me, Ghoomar was above everything then.

Ghoomar is a traditional folk dance of Rajasthan, India. The dance is chiefly performed by veiled women who wear flowing dresses called Ghaghara. It was ranked 4th in the list of “Top 10 local dances around the world” in 2013. The dance typically involves performers pirouetting while moving in and out of a wide circle. The word ghoomna describes the twirling movement of the dancers and is the basis of the word ghoomar. This dance form is mainly prevalent among the Rajput community and is chiefly performed by Rajput women during auspicious and joyous occasions in Rajasthan. Ghoomar is often performed on special occasions, such as at weddings and during weddings, festivals and religious occasions which sometimes lasts for hours.

In Ghoomar, women dance in circles with graceful moves and display their colourful ghagharas. Hence the dance form is aptly named as Ghoomar. The women dance with amazing precision, even as their face is covered with a veil, while they carry the lighted lamp. Innumerable twirls and turns mark this dance form, which is quite close to Jaipur Gharana of Kathak.

Goomar can be performed by women of any age group. This dance form also known by the name of ‘Jhumar’ involves swaying movements and is indeed simple to perform. The enthusiasm of the performer is the sole requirement of the dance as it can continue from few hours till late nights.

Ghoomar is usually done during the Teej festivities. However, it’s also performed during other festivals and important occasions. Ghoomar is extremely rhythmic to perform and the dancers have to move around in circular motion with clockwise and anticlockwise steps being taken in tandem. The tempo of Ghoomar reaches its peak as synchronization of steps with music is done.

Considered to be a traditional ritual of Rajasthan, this dance is also performed by the bride after she is welcomed at her husband’s home.

So for the enchatress Deepika Padukone performing Ghoomer, head to theatres on December 1.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chhath Puja, in obeisance of Sun God!


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The Juhu Beach in Mumbai will be decked up yet again as lakhs of devotees mainly from North India (read: UP & Bihar) gather at Mumbai beach of performing Puja.  BMC has kept a tight vigil along the entire coastal line of the city and has made special arrangements. A danger line has been drawn beyond which the devotees would not be allowed to enter the sea. Like every year, this year too programs have been organized which included singing for the sun devotees along with other arrangements. Visit Juhu beach 5:30 PM onwards to observe festive fervous in all its glory and beauty!

It is believed that the celebration of Chhath puja may predate to the ancient Vedas, as the rituals performed during the puja are similar to the ones mentioned in Rig Veda, in which the Sun god is worshipped. At the time, the rishis (sages) were also known to worship the Sun and remain without the intake of good as they would obtain their energy directly from the Sun.

सूर्य देव की उपासना का पर्व छठ शुरू हो चुका है। चार दिन तक चलने वाले इस त्योहार में भगवान सूर्य की आराधना की जाती हैं। 24 अक्टूबर को नहाय खाय के साथ शुरू हुआ ये पर्व सप्तमी को उगते सूर्य को अर्घ्य देने के साथ ही समाप्त होगा। इस पर्व में भगवान सूर्य की पूजा का काफी महत्व है। पहला अर्घ्य आज अस्त होते सूरज को दिया जाएगा। आज षष्ठी के दिन व्रतीजल में उतरकर डूबते सूरज को अर्घ्य देंगे।

पूजन विधि – अर्घ्य देने के लिए बांस के सूप में सभी प्रकार के फल रखकर उसे पीले कपड़े से ढ़क दें और डूबते सूरज को तीन बार अर्घ्य दें।

अर्घ्य देने का शुभ समय – सायंकालीन अर्घ्य- 26 अक्टूबर (गुरुवार)
सायंकालीन अर्घ्य का समय :- सांय काल 05:40 बजे से शुरू

प्रात:कालीन अर्घ्य: 27 अक्टूबर (शुक्रवार) – प्रात:कालीन अर्घ्य का समय: प्रात: 6.28 बजे से शुरू

Chhath festival, one of the most ancient and revered Hindu festivals, is celebrated with much fervour primarily in northern parts of India. It is also believed that Chhath is the only surviving Vedic festival observed in the country at present. If legends are to be believed, Chhath was first observed by Drapaudi, a mythological character from the Epic Mahabharata. During this time, devotees observe a four-day fast and offer prayers to the Sun God. The rituals involved in the Chhath puja celebrations are quite rigorous and apart from fasting, it also includes holy bathing and standing in water for long hours. Devotees offer prasad and arghya to the rising and setting sun.

Chhath Puja is an important Hindu festival that is mainly celebrated in Bihar and some regions of Nepal. The puja is dedicated to the worship of the Sun god and his wife Usha. During the occasion, devotees perform puja to thank god for supporting life on earth and seek the divine couple’s blessing. However, Chhath – the main day – isn’t the first day but the third day of the puja and, this year it is celebrated today – October 26.

According to Hindu religion, the Sun is believed to heal many severe health conditions and ensure longevity, prosperity, progress and well-being. People celebrate the festival by following a rigorous routine that lasts four days. The rituals include: fasting (including abstinence from drinking water), holy bathing, offering prayers to the rising and setting sun, and meditating by standing in water.

In addition to Bihar, many other states such as Jharkhand, eastern UP, regions of Nepal, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Chhattisgarh also celebrate the festival with great fervour. Chhath Puja is so called as it is celebrated on the sixth day of the month of Karthika in the Vikram Samvat. It is also celebrated in the summers, some days after Holi. However, Karthika month’s Chhath is more ardently followed by people.

However, another sign of the puja is attached to the story of Lord Rama.

According to ancient texts, Rama and his wife Sita had kept fast and offered prayers to the Sun god, in the month of Kartika in Shukla Paksha, once they returned to the Ayodhya after 14 years of exile. From then on, the Chhath Puja became a significant and traditional Hindu festival, which is celebrated with zeal and zest every year.

The four-day festival starts four days after Diwali.  This is how the devotees observe the festival.

Nahay Khay: The first day of Chhath Puja, devotees take a dip, preferably in the Kosi river, Karnali and Ganga, and carry home the holy water to prepare the offerings.

Lohanda: The second day, the devotees observe a fast for the whole day, which ends in the evening a little after sunset. After worshipping the Sun and the Moon, they prepare offerings of kheer, bananas and rice for their family. After consuming the offering, they fast for 36 hours without water.

Sandhya Arghya (evening offerings): After preparing the prasad, the devotees take a dip in the holy water body in the evening and worship the Sun god and Chhathi maiyya. They offer the evening offerings amid folk songs.

Usha Arghya: The fourth day, devotees go to the holy waters and offer morning offerings or ‘Usha arghya’ to the sun, following which they break their fast.

Chhath Parv ki anekon shubhkamnayein!

Vijaydashmi, Dussehra, Dasara…Bhopal, Delhi, Mysore…Wherever!

I remember as a child I always use to go with my father to watch effigy burning at HEL’s Ramlila ground in Bhopal. We never missed the festival, till we lived in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India. After diligently watching Ramlila for all nine days, not only watching but participating too, the days were truly special. When I visited the place in Bhopal, say after some thirty years…I was moved to tears witnessing the ruins of the place! What time does to people, cultures, places and even festivals? Lovely days of life left behind…

The festival has very special significance for all of us, all over India. The nine-day Navratri festival culminates into Dussehra with an effigy of Ravana burning all over along with Meghnad and Kumbhkaran. Indeed, it is a very special sight, all of us love to watch that…We loved the fire, the fireworks, crowds and finally the feeling…evil met its fate.

After moving to New Delhi, the tradition continued…I and papa started going to Ramlila Ground Dussehra (DCM Compound) and we got real special treatment there as my mausaji use to play Dashrathji in this Ramlila. This Dussehra was really magnanimous, the scale was really huge, effigies…very BIG! The humble Dussehra of Bhopal was nowhere close to this one, and I started loving it even more. But it was not for long…my visits for effigy burning stopped when papa left for higher realms!

When I got married some years later in a Gujarati family, Navratri celebrations took a complete 360-degree spin. It was all about dancing the night away on Garba beats which rekindled my love for dancing! No Ramlila, No Ravan…

Lo & behold…my first brush with Navratri celebrations was none other than today’s Dandiya Queen…Falguni Pathak who in her tom-boyish attire belted out Garba numbers one after another. So many people dressed in beautiful Chaniya Cholis and men in Kediyus (I didn’t even know what this attire was called) danced passionately and I too joined them, without knowing D for Dandiya or G for Garba. Just caught up with the beats and everybody welcomed me and even helped me with some steps.

It was truly some revelation for me as I had never seen any such thing before either in Delhi or in Lucknow. Since then, it became a ritual and my daughter Tanya to this practice to just another level by wearing nine new chaniya cholis for all nine days…dancing the nights away…Ghar nahin jaoingi main…those were the Navratri days…hope they are back again soon!

When I was young, I always use to tell my father, let’s go to Mysore to watch Dussehra as I knew it is celebrated in a very special manner there. But that was not to be…but I will certainly visit one day…to celebrate memories of my dear father.  The city of Mysuru has a long tradition of celebrating the Dasara festival with grandeur and pomp to mark the festival. The Dasara festival in Mysuru completed 400th anniversary in the year 2010, while evidence suggests the festivities were observed in Karnataka state by the Vijayanagara Empire kings in the 15th century.

The main attraction of the ten-day Mysore Dasara  festival is the Mysore Palace which is illuminated daily with nearly 100,000 light bulbs from 7 pm to 10 pm on all days of the festival. Various cultural and religious programs highlighting the dance, music and culture of the State of Karnataka are performed in front of the illuminated Palace.

But the high point of the celebration is the Vijayadashami procession which is held on the tenth day. You will see the idol of the Goddess kept in a golden howdah on top of a decorated elephant. This will be accompanied by the police, their bands, mounted guards all in royal livery, folk artists along with musicians. Starting at the decked-up Mysore Palace, the march continues all the way up to the Banni Mantapa grounds. Later in the evening, there is a torchlight procession and a gorgeous display of fireworks that marks the end of the celebrations.

Mysore…you never cease to fascinate…Dasara or not!