The sky has been gloomy for the past 3 days now.
And it has been raining too.
The cold is biting. Nor yet damp. But biting.
The sun hasn't been around for what seems like ages now.
I am being patient and have, so far, quietly accepted its absence.
After all, it was kindly around for the Diwali cleaning to be done with smoothly.
It was around even when Hudhud was playing its deadly dance.
So maybe it can rest for a while.
But I need back soon.
I mean it will soon be November. And it looks like the monsoons have never left.
As for my friends and readers, I do hope that all of you have had a beautiful, bright and safe Diwali.
For me, Diwali was good. I mean really good.
The cleaning was done in time.
The namkeens and sweets, whatever few I could make, were done in time too.
The fairy lights were strung up in time.
We got the deepaks and other things required for pooja in time.
And Diwali went smoothly by.
I do not know what the next year will bring for me. But for today, I tried my best. :-)
There are no photos, however, of this year's celebrations to share with you.
If you are following Kichu Khonn on Facebook, then you might have seen the updates and the photographs of the namkeens and sweets and other things; but I do not have any proper photgraphs for the blog this year.
This is quick snap on the phone. There will be good photographs when I make posts of these.
Diwali at home is a huge thing. Numerous rituals and ever more pujas. Mehendi and and jwellery. Cleaning the house and decorating it. Cooking huge meals and numerous snacks, to be enjoyed by the family as well as offered to guests that pour in. Meeting friends and relatives. Being with family.
I am not an expert on traditions and rituals pertaining to Diwali but try earnestly to learn and follow whatever I get to see and be a part of.
Diwali starts with Dhanteras, when new ornaments or kitchen utensils or anything new is purchased.
The house is cleaned every morning ... early in the morning, before sunrise, and evening.
Fresh Rangolis are drawn both times too. So are the diyas or small, earthern lamps lit.
My mother in law draws wonderful geometric patterns as rangolis and fills them with natural things like atta, turmeric powder and roli .. a red coloured powder.
I did try to make an alpona , the Bengali way of drawing a rangoli but with soaked rice powder and with the help of cotton balls held between the fingers, this time.
But for someone who can't draw to save her life, or anybody elses life for that matter, it was quite a task.
I just drew the feet of Goddess Lakshmi, with some patterns around it and prayed to her to step into my home ... ignoring the misshapen feet.
Anyway, coming back to Diwali, Rajasthanis worship the kalash or Parendi, in which they store drinking water. The Tulsi and the Amla plants are worshipped too.
Since the change in seasons starts from Diwali time, i.e. the monsoons taking their leave and winter setting in, the Amla or Gooseberry is a good source of vitamin C and helps build immunity ... thus helping the human body to cope with the change. So is a revered plant. As is the Tulsi, which we all know how good is for us.
Ghee filled Deepaks are lit and aarti is done for both plants everyday.
On Narak Chaturdashi, we, at home, light diyas to form a huge Om sign. The whole family does this together and is a family tradition.
Diwali morning sees some more, around 3 to 4 different kinds of pujas.
Later in the evening, after the Lakshmi pujan, the lamps are lit and set about all over inside the house and outside too. There shouldn't be a single dark spot anywhere in the house or the garden.
The day after Diwali is the New year for Rajasthanis and Gujaratis.
On this day Lord Krishna is worshipped with an offering of at least 56 food items ... or the Chappan bhog, and the ritual is called Annakut.
Anna is food and Kut is hill or mountain.
So the food offered under the Govardhan hill came to be known as Annakut.
The story goes like this -
Once it had rained continiously for 7 days and 7 nights in Brajdham, Krishna's place of childhood.
To protect the villagers, Krishna had help up the Govardhan hill on his little finger and they took shelter under it. Common lore has it that the during that time, every villager cooked whatever dish they could and brought it from their own homes and ate together under the hill.
Another story goes that the villagers cooked a huge feast with various kinds of dishes and offered it to Lord Krishna for saving them from the storm and rains.
Whatever the story, Annakut is basically a feast cooked and eaten by families together.
The food is first offered to Lord Krishna, an aarti is done and then the family sits down for lunch.
The menu is huge ... traditionally. But every house cooks according to its own convinience.
I've heard that my mother in law, once upon a time, would cook more than the actual Chappan (56) bhog. The number of dishes has long declined but she does maintain the tradition of cooking and eating only seasonal vegetables. She even has a beautiful rhyme on this to make it easy to remember what vegetables to eat on which seasons.
I'll try to get it from her the next time we meet.
Signing off today with a photograph of our family Annakut layout last year.
Wishing everyone a very happy and prosperous new year ahead!!