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Monday
Sep022019

A day sheet calendar and a long time tradition

It was 1989.. and my parents were helping me pack to go to Varanasi to study. In the last minute my dad decided to get me this day sheet calendar that showed the Tamil month and date information.. It was a beautiful calendar with a golden Ganesha stuck on the top of cardboard. 

We had just left Chennai the day of Vinayaka Chaturthi to go to Varanasi. It has been 30 years and almost the same date. 

That year went by and the day sheets were all used, but that golden Ganesha was separated from the calendar and kept in the room. As a teenager, I did not have to do a pooja for Ganesha by myself given by father was performing it in Chennai. I used to go to the local temples in Varanasi to celebrate. That did not mean I would not do a Ganapathi pooja by myself. Would do that every now and then, thanks to the training I got from my high school. We had a Vidhya Ganapathi at the school entrance and I got to do the daily pooja for him including abhishegams. If you want to learn deference and get a grip on faith, doing an abhishegham to an idol that the entire school will come to worship in a few hours is one way to start!

Then I ended up in the US. Again, I would call my parents and enquire how the pooja went and dream of kozhukattais and if lucky some married senior grad student or local professor would indulge us with some kozhukattais (modhaks, dumplings). 

Once I got married, things changed. It was time to perform the pooja as head of my own household. San tried her hand at making kozhukattais and her first experience had her almost in tears. Then she slowly improved and once her mom started coming to visit when the kids were born, things took an interesting turn. She turned pro..

Also over the last 10 years, my MIL has been here for many Ganesh chaturthis and made the usual kozhukkattais as well as my favorite "ammani" kozhukkattis.. which I would come home and roast with some grated coconut and eat. Some years were good and some were bad.. that we almost had no celebration

This year we are fortunate to have Ganesh Chathurthi as a national holiday in the US for Labor day. Got to do yoga early in the morning, come home and do the pooja.. to the same day sheet calendar Ganapathy! If it has been your "go to Ganesha" for 30 years, it is now the gold standard!

The photograph makes it look big.. it is only 5 inches tall.. but to me it means something. Was thinking about my dad this morning. As a teen, the one thing I wanted to be after growing up was "not him". He has a lot of good things about him as well as some lousy stuff. The lousy stuff is now long gone.. Once he crossed 55, he was a different person.. maybe because he realized the kids were grown up or he wisened up or realized that no matter what he did, society is going to do what it does. 

For all his faults, I do have him to thank for many things in my life that provide me an anchor of sorts.. be it in a good way or a what not to do in my life way. Was thinking of him in a good way today. 

Was also missing my MIL today. San was at it the entire morning and was complaining of her hands hurting while making the kozhukkattais. Having cut my finger deeply while helping with Veggie cutting, my utility in the kitchen reduced.. San is an Obi-Wan at this.. but MIL is Yoda. Getting visuals of my MIL in a yoda costume saying "kalari it, you must", "hurt, it will".. 

Now it is time to round up the tummy with some good eats... 

This year, we also managed to pack and carry a nice small decorative table during the recent India trip. We got a large Ganesha as part of Jr.'s arangetram decor and were looking for  a nice place to put the idol. This table makes a perfect stand for the Ganesha. Everyone in the house is now placing flowers on it when they get a chance. 

Ganesha is my favorite of all the Indian gods, so it is no surprise that we celebrate this festival the way we do! 

There was a time when the kids used to get involved.

These days, given high school and growing up in a different place different time, they look forward to the kozhukkattai and they come when the pooja is almost done. 

Sooner or later they will realize that unless they learn to make the Kozhukattai's themselves, they will be missing out!

Time to start a Kozhukkattai making class next Ganesh Chaturthi... 

Happy Ganesha or Pillaiyar Chathurthi to everyone who is celebrating!

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