Monday, April 13, 2009

Festive Magic

Vishu is right round the corner, and, apart from, channeling all my energies, into, recreating a little bit of the Kerala magic and spirit, in my life, it is also time for one of my nostalgic trips.

Having spent most of my childhood in the arid desserts of the Middle East, my first real experience of Vishu celebrations occurred, when I was, well into my adolescence.

Not that age diminished my enthusiasm for a festival, which, was to prove to be the biggest revenue grosser in an entire year.
I remember, as a kid, I would first carefully draw up a list of potential victims, and then, in the days leading up to Vishu, would drop carefully considered hints about my monetary expectations.
There would, also, be prolonged and heart wrenching discussions, with my friends, about the right amounts to be bequeathed to our younger siblings. Nothing less than a rupee, we would firmly tell ourselves, while furtively, practising at steeling our hearts, to survive the tears and squalls, which, we knew, would follow, on the morrow.

It was, only recently, that I realised, how much of our wonderful festivals, I had taken for granted, as a child.
The excitement of stumbling forward, with my eyes shut tight, in the wee hours of the morning, to start my day with the sight of my face in the Vishu Kani....
The thrill of the chase, as we determinedly stalked our quarries, and, dove unceremoniously, for their feet, to claim our Kai Neetam....
The fun and camaraderie shared with our families, and, extended families...
And, the delicious food, which we would stuff ourselves with, till we lay about, helplessly, gasping for breath...

Oh, Vishu was so much fun!!!
And, back then, I thought it would never change.

Looking back, I realise that Vishu was one occasion, which, brought the extended family together, and, helped them bond better.
It taught us, the invaluable lesson, of Give and Take, which are the two faces of the same coin, and, without which, our lives would remain incomplete.
We, also, learned, to reach out to each other, spontaneously, and, across distances, without inhibitions, preconceived notions or envy, and with this bonding, we enjoyed the day better.

Unfortunately, the fun and spontaneity went out of the window as we grew up, and, life took us, our separate ways.
Today, all of us in our corners of the world try celebrating Vishu to the best of our abilities.
And, often, all that remains of the camaraderie of the past, is a succinct 'Happy Vishu' mail to the family.
Some phone calls.
Pictures, on Orkut, and, Face Book.
And, a few stolen moments, on chat, for a quick update.

I don't know how the rest of my loved ones fare, but for me in a strange land, far far away from the people who matter, Vishu has become more of a forced experience. -something that I do, year after year, with the vain hope of recapturing the lost magic of the Vishus of my youth.

Despite, the careful planning, and, the best of efforts, the food is never as good...
There, aren't, too many people, to plague, or, for that matter, very many, diving for my feet, and, hounding me, for kai neetams...
There is less laughter, and, bonding....
And, with many hotels, and malayali associations, getting into the act, Vishu seems to have become more of a commercial experience, than a family one.

Even so, there are, many of us, who religiously maintain, if not the festivities, then at least the Vishu Kani in our homes.

Is it a habit ,which has waned in strength, but, continues to live nevertheless?
Or, is it, an conscious attempt, to preserve tradition, in a world beset with change, and, speed?

I, for one, believe it, to be, an effort to keep the happy memories going, and to draw strength from it in the current day.
For, when 14th April dawns, and I open my eyes to the sight of my face, surrounded by bounty, bathed by the golden glow of the flame of the Lakshmi Lamp, I feel peaceful, calm, and, aware, of a sense of well being, which pervades my entire being, and, the space around me.
And, in that moment, I know, the magic, though weak, is not entirely gone.

Note: Festive Magic, reproduced with minor variations, from Soul Talkin.


Abhilash Suryan said...

Hope you'll find some 'kanikkonnapookkal' too
Vishudinashamsakal :-)

Ganga Dhanesh said...

don't we try hard to keep the flame of our childhood memories burning, esp., by trying to recreate the magic of our festivals? wonder whether we really can?

Rekz said...

Vishudinashamsakal to you too, Abhilash. I saw heaps of Kanikonnapoo on the roadside today, on my way back from work.
It isnt as good as picking it off the trees, but, it still bought a smile to my lips!!!

Ganga, so true. But look on the bright side, 20 yrs hence, we will have the next generation raving about the specialness of the festivals we celebrate today!
:) :)