Friday, February 3, 2017

HALDI KUMKUM





Every religious ritual or social custom has a meaningful origin behind it. After hundreds and hundreds of years, when we follow a ritual or a custom, we, generally, forget the meaning behind the ritual… We just follow, often, for fun and, often, for fear (what will people think if we don’t follow it?”).

Like, we Christians light candles before we pray at home or church… whether it is in a pitch-dark night or in a broad daylight… Like the priest who  bends down on Holy Thursday to wash the feet of the ‘twelve disciples’…

Why were the candles lit in the early days of Christianity? Because, Apostles and Christ’s early followers were being persecuted by Roman authorities. So, they had to hide in dark caves and light candles while praying…

And, today?

Jesus, the Master, just bent down and washed the feet of his disciples… to show them the way to become the greatest of all is by becoming smallest of all… It was a spontaneous, spiritual gesture about humility, reverence and gratitude… and to ‘recreate’ that, we need such a spontaneous ambiance… the situation, which I believe, everyday life offers all of us… all the times… We do not have to wait for a ‘Holy Thursday’ to ‘perform’ it… We do not need a ceremony around it… We just need to take its essence in our everyday life… We need to follow Christ, imitate Him on a day-to-day basis.

Do we do that?

We do rituals… and, we think, we follow Jesus!

Some thirty-five years ago, a young student of mine, came all the way from Pune to offer me a ‘dry leaf’ on the Dussehra day. I did not know the significance of the gesture and sincerely asked him what it meant. He was a young man, but did know what the significance  was. He has remained one of my good friends over all these years…

What else matters in my life… Gold, wealth, fame and power… who cares?

It is a season of ‘Haldi Kumkum’, here in Maharashtra. My wife was invited by a couple of her friends to their homes for observing this custom. Mrs. Patil, my wife’s friend Nilima’s mother-in-law, explained to my wife its significance… According to Mrs. Patil, it was in order to acquaint a newly-arrived bride with other married women who lived in the vicinity… That gave the new bride a chance to take a break from her otherwise hectic routine, make new friends, and enhance the quality of life…

But, now?

“You ladies are already ‘thick’ friends,” I teased my wife, yesterday after she returned from another friend Swati’s Haldi Kumkum, “What did you all do there?”

“We enjoyed,” my wife said, showing me her return gift and offering me the snacks.

I loved that… “We enjoyed!”

What else does matter in life? Why so serious? Why so many questions like: Why only leaves of Sonpatta tree and not the leaves of Cashew tree, or why Haldi and Kumkum and not Salt and Pepper?

“Search for the meaning,” another friend put me in my place, yesterday, “You will find it.”

I think, if you have ‘enjoyed it’, you have already ‘found’ it!

GERALD D’CUNHA
Pic.: Sheetal Bandare (Via Internet)

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