No, it’s not a retreat planned only for reading, but a retreat from reading.
Can you go a whole day without reading anything? School children in India, specifically Hindu children, await Saraswathi Puja day to set their books and learning materials at the feet of God in the Puja Room, or as with us, in front of the Golu (click on photo to see larger size). To celebrate the glory of learning and knowledge, the tools used to promote the same (books, papers, and lap top computers) are given rest, so we can rejuvenate.
When I was in Chennai, though, I could never retreat from studies. Having studied at a Christian College, these holidays were not days off- in fact, they were midterm days so books and studying was done no matter what, even in the midst of the long midnight power cuts. Without our electric powered fan, we somehow managed to avoid both the sweltering nighttime heat and hungry mosquitoes. From under our mosquito covered cots, we had all we needed to survive the night- our carefully Xerox copied- or handwritten- textbooks, a few pens or pencils, our reusable Aquafina water bottle, with aquaguard water, a flashlight ready to use to help us find the way to the bathroom or our friend’s room – where we face each other, fanning each other to cool down, some snacks and a matchbox full of matches to keep the candles lit on our nightstand so that we could, in fact, see to read. Rather than retreat from reading- it became a marathon. Who can read the longest and most intensely – or intently- under such conditions?
Now, of course, I am not in college, but go to work where computers are required. So, this observance has evolved to fit our situation - no computers, books or papers at home. At work, we can’t break from it, plus it gives us a way to cheat! But, one year when the puja fell on a Saturday, that was quite a challenging day!
Interestingly, for those unaware, my website URL – alaivani is also inspired by Saraswathi. Since I encountered this Puja the first time in my life, in 2000, I was in awe over the name Saraswathi, and also attracted very much to Vani, (always have been intrigued by girl’s names starting with the letter v) later thrilled to learn that Vani is another name for Saraswathi.
Note: Due to having celebrated Saraswathi Puja the column Blogging Through a Book will return on Monday, October 22.
Photo in this article by Krishna Kumar.
Nothing like Navarathri: An American’s Passion and Continuation of Navarathri in US Part 1 (of 3)
Nothing Like Navarathri: Preparing for Festivities Part 2 (of 3)
Nothing Like Navarathri: What Is Celebrated During Navarathri Part 3 (of 3)
Saraswathi Puja Tribute 1 Reading Retreat
Vijaya Dashami Festival in Mauritius (Part 1 of 2) Vijaya Dashami in Mauritius (Part 2 of 2)
Other posts about Hindu Goddesses:
Vinzai Devi's Utsav, April 2007 (Part 1 of 3) Vinzai Devi's Utsav, April 2007 (Part 2 of 3) Vinzai Devi Utsav - Hymn To Gayatri Mata (Part 3 of 3)
Our Navarathri Photos
Navarathri 2008 Photos by Krishna Photos by Jennifer
Navarathri 2007 Photos by Krishna
Navarathri 2006 Photos by Jennifer
Navarathri 2003 Photos by Jennifer
Vijaya Dashami 2003 Photos by Jennifer
Add your Golu/ Dolls displays/Hina Matsuri photos to my flickr group! Click here.
Page Updated October 2008.