Breaking bread together

An iftar invitation had remained elusive till now - this last week of the holy month I attended my first iftar party. Last weekend amidst thunderous showers a family in Noida with a group of ladies hosted an inter-faith iftar party. The group consisting of Rana Safvi - an author and  historian, Nazia Erum -…

Rāmā Kātha

During my final exams for Masters, Banaras Hindu University hosted a festival of Rāmāyana from other South-east Asian countries; everyday in the evening one country or the other presented a retelling of their version of the story in dance drama format. That was my first initiation to various versions of the epic Rāmāyana. AK Ramanujan…

Our Holi lunch

Festivals in India are closely linked with food especially in UP households where there is different menu for each festival. Even though Punjabis, since we lived in Banaras our food habits have been influenced by UP-Bihar traditions and some from the home rituals followed by my Grandmother. Holi as a festival transcends between summer and…

Khele mashane mein Holi

Holi across the world is largely associated with Krishna, and people flock to Brijbhoomi to witness the festivities. Even the songs or paintings that celebrate this colourful festival centers around this playful God. But in the city of Shiva - Banaras (Kashi or Varanasi), Rangbhari Ekadashi marks the beginning of the festival six days before…

Rang de Basanti

"If winter comes, can Spring be far behind?" That's so true ... Albeit with a barely there winter season, Basant Panchami seems to be early this year. This day officially marks the beginning of a brief spring season in India. Basant Panchami has special significance for people of BHU, the day celebrates the anniversary of…

Lost childhood

This monsoon season, while we have been spending more time on roads and traffic signals, it is unavoidable to observe life streaming about you. One sees people on motorcycles and bicycles going about on their work while trying to keep themselves dry, people in petrol-diesel guzzlers oblivious to rains while listening to loud electro-techno music…

I Wish…

Peace, happiness and joy ... Simple wishes for 2015! I wish for all... For a tolerant world. Let's be compassionate. For religious tolerance. Let religion be inclusive. For safety of women. Against physical violence or mental harassment. For cleaner environment. We owe it to us. For terror free society. Irrespective of caste, creed, religion or…

Celebrating Eid… My way!

As I promised myself yesterday, I am back! And keeping another promise to self, had a lazy day ... Well almost, apart from couple of calls, few emails and some whatsapp messages with other people who were sadly working!I had music on my mind, and as I rummaged in the shelf found a 1960 Akashvani recording…

To the Eternal City …

I have made two trips within a fortnight to the world's oldest living city, Banaras. The city as usual inspires me, takes me back to the roots of Hinduism, but sometimes also disillusions me. On my last visit I landed on the Maha Ashtami during Navratras, and the whole city was doused in the religious…