It is rare in our family that my mom is with us during the festive seasons. While Dashain and Tihar are for celebrating together with the family, the dilemma of having your other family far away is something almost every woman faces…also men who live away, but you get the point. It is only during this time of the year that she gets to visit her family, my mamaghar. And so, this is a common occurrence in our house when the real Laxmi is not home.
And so, she goes, usually after Dashain’s Tika, leaving us – the men – to our own devices. Now, when that happens, you may be able to picture what the house looks like.
Uhhh…stereotyping much? Whatever picture you’ve painted in your head does not apply to us…not completely, anyway. The house is still clean-ish, the food is still good-ish, and things also run smoothly-ish. We’d like to think that we actually do a great job of carrying ourselves when mom’s not around but no mom would be pleased with our ways – that much I can tell.
So, there we are – three men – dad, and us two sons – me, who is only learning to adult, and the other, who’s barely an adult – left to fend for ourselves. Dad does most of the cooking, of course, with me as a substitute. I am the kitchen assistant – dishwasher, cleaner, cooking assistant. My brother leads the Garlic-Onion-Ginger-Potato Peeling department with an occasional hand in the cleaning under supervision. He doesn’t really do a good job about it, but he’s got the spirit; even if that spirit requires constant coaxing and mild scolding.
Anyway, we got the basic stuff covered…in our own chaotic and messy way. What we DO NOT have covered is the Festival stuff – the puja, the rangoli, the diyos, the decorations, and almost everything festive.
It is quite evident from the picture above how my Tihar was like. In all honesty, I tried to edit that picture of rangoli I made to make it look better but could not hide the hideousness that it is. On top of that, I did not even bother with those little flowers you sprinkle on top. And I also forgot about the diyo…which we made do with a candle on top. And a friend had to actually motivate me to get my ass up and do that…else, I would not have.
The other part of the puja fared worse. I don’t think my mom would even call it a puja if she were with us here. While mom can chant some Sanskrit shloks, Laxmi hymns, and verses; I swung the puja tray 7 times in front of the Gods’ portraits while chanting “Om Laxmi Maata”, rung that tiny bell and that was it (in my defense, I’m an agnostic, trying to go full atheist, but there’s always some part of it because of the way you’re brought up).
My dad tried his best with some other prayers and all that, but well…
And the puja thali was a sight to see…
And the food? We don’t even know how to make a round selroti…let alone other things. Plus, takeout is only a phone call away…kudos to those guys for understanding the feelings of people like us.
Also, my sister has been away for a long time, and so, it’s been too long with only men during the festivities. I am still proud of doing what I could in my mom’s absence. We did create chaos but embraced it…we tried, we improvised, and got through it. It is over now.
In any case, I don’t think the Goddess Laxmi, if she indeed does, will be giving our place a visit this Tihar…
Also read The Obsession with Darkness