Nineteen years back my Mom made her first trip to Usa. My special one was 3 and half years old and was a handful and he had multiple sleepless nights. We really needed an extra hand and she made that trip.
During that trip my mother bought with her 3 volumes of Samaithu paar book by Meenakshi Ammal. Once my Mom came kitchen duties went to her and I could concentrate on so many other things. I was also able to learn driving at that time. My Mom in her free time was going over the books. One day she told me look at the end of the third volume, maami has given meal plan for so many of our festivals. That made me curious. Though I wasn’t a great cook I loved the concept of celebrating Indian festivals. Varalakshmi Vratham was one festival which we didn’t have when I was growing up. Papu, my paternal grandmother used to say Don’t worry I will marry you to a household that celebrates Varalakshmi vratham. Of course her word, I got married to a household with Varalakshmi Vratham.Every festival has it’s own beauty and maami had given in detail not only the menu but also what to do on those The month of Aadi sets in the Tamil festive season. The first day of Aadi by itself is a pandigai. Vadai payasam and morkuzhambhu are essential part of it. Of course it accompanies with early morning bath padi kolam and semmen kaavi in the front of the house .
My Mom and myself read the entire glossary section thoroughly and when she was leaving after a 4 month stay told me just follow all the festivals maami has mentioned in the book. I think that was one of the best advices she gave me.
I didn’t know at that point the intensity of raising a special child. Being young parents we took in one day at a time and did our best. Somedays were hard but looking back I think my hold onto the rituals mentioned in the book kept me going.
Hinduism is a way of life and rituals were adapted so that our physical and mental health are kept at our best.
As years passed along I had another kid which made me not do some pandigais but I did continue to hold onto a lot. It did irritate my husband sometimes with my obsession but by the end of the day he has been a real trooper doing his best.
Varalakshmi vratham and Navarathri are the two Devi festivals that I take into my heart and do in a grand way. Autism and Indian rituals do not interact but I think there is some kind of positive energy in those festivals that has kept me going.
The next six months are a busy season with so many pandigais. Just put aside unnecessary thoughts about corona and celebrate every one of it at home. Adorn yourself with good clothes offer some flowers to our Lord make a sweet and savory and have a nice lunch or dinner. I promise the depression associated with Corona would definitely go away.
Today we celebrated Guru Poornima in our house. The smell of flowers the ghee from the sweet and an early lunch skipping breakfast made me nostalgic as how I began my attachment towards festivities. With most temples having so many restrictions I do hope all of you make your home a temple and bring a positive energy at this time of uncertainty.