Shopping/Shopping Online.

I hope that you enjoy reading this post on the weekly Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where eleven of us write on the same topic. Today’s topic has been chosen by Padmum. The ten other bloggers who write regularly are, in alphabetical order, Delirious, gaelikaa, Grannymar, Maxi, Maria SF, Padmum, Paul, Rohit,Shackman, The Old Fossil and Will. Do drop in on their blogs and see what their take is on this week’s topic. Since some of them may post late, do give some allowance for that too!

Indians are funny when it comes to shopping. I don’t mean that they are funny when it comes to day to day purchases made for the home like grocery, vegetables etc. I mean when they have to buy slow moving consumer items like white goods, clothes, jewelry etc. We have special auspicious days spread over the year to buy most of these things and so merchants have significant swings in their inventory/sales operations. We have a series of Black Fridays throughout the year.

This phenomenon cuts across all religions for clothes. Diwali for Hindus, Id for Muslims and Christmas for Christians. During these ‘seasons’, as they are called, advertising revenues also fluctuate and so we have an economy that is perpetually in a see saw motion.

Gold and jewelry have a special attraction too for seasonal buying. These were the days in the current year.
Screen Shot 2013-07-14 at 7.09.55 PMFor the rest of the year, things are rather slow except during the wedding seasons, yes we have those too based on what astrologers advise, when cutting across all the religions, sales for clothes and jewelry boom again.

When it comes to buying vehicles, I suspect that a cabal of vehicle manufacturers have bribed all the astrologers in our country and they have spread the auspicious days more or less evenly over the year.

I personally do not indulge in shopping sprees.  My non essential purchases are restricted to books which I almost inevitably buy online.  I have a favourite online portal that keeps me completely satisfied. I however buy hard copies of books only when they are cheaper than Kindle editions.  Naturally, I buy the kindle books from Amazon.  I have not ventured into buying any Kindle competitor’s offereings.  Not yet.

No, despite being funny, Indians do not have an equivalent to the Black Friday. Our merchants have this uncanny ability to offer clearance sales after every seasonal peak and the seasoned buyer waits for these to be announced.


Festival Time.

Today is the first day of ten days of Ganesh festival in India. Today, idols of the Elephant God Ganesha is installed in public places and in homes for private worship. During the next ten days, special worship will be offered as well as festival food cooked for personal consumption and sharing with family, friends and visitors. You can get a bird’s eye view of the festival from this wikipedia article.

Maharashtra is the leader among the states for this festival as it was started as a public festival by a Maharashtrian during the independence struggle. A private affair was brought out in the open as a means for people to congregate during the time when public gatherings were not viewed favourably by the British.

In Maharashtra, Mumbai and Pune are the two main cities for elaborate displays, processions and gaiety. The wikipedia article shows the large Mumbai Deity which is the King of the processions and this one is the one from Pune called the Dagdu Sheth Ganapathi.

The image is of the Deity in the temple. During the procession, it is taken in a chariot drawn by devotees and the chariot is lit by one thousand lamps, now powered by mobile gensets.

My late mother was an ardent Ganesh devotee and would keep an idol for all ten days of the festival and do everything connected with the festival for the full days. After the first time that she did it in our home, my late wife continued the practice as long as she was alive. Since her death, I have discontinued the private installation and rituals.

The climax of the festival will be on the tenth day when the idols will be given a fond farewell by immersion in our rivers or in lakes around Pune. I shall write about that on the immersion day called the visarjan.

Today is also the Annual Id festival for Muslims and Pune is full of gaiety and colourful celebrations all over. As I write this, my son and his friends are visiting many places to observe all the festivities. I used to do it many years ago but am now too lazy to make the effort.

I Am Truly Blessed.

Today is Dussera. It is an important festival, celebrated throughout India. The festival is the culmination of ten days of fasting, praying and fellowship. It symbolizes the victory of Good over Evil.

In our home, we are not religious and apart from my one daily ritual of a post shower short prayer and meditation, there are no other practices followed. My wife, my son and I, all three however are spiritual.

We moved into the present home in which we live in 1990. It has been 18 years that we have lived here. From the very beginning, we had a handyman/gardener who has been looking after our little garden, washing all the vehicles at home, and carry out all other odd jobs at need. He only comes part time, but has been part of our lives since the beginning. His wife also used to come to work as a housemaid till they lived close by. A few years ago, they built their own little cottage about five kilometers away from here, and since then, she has stopped coming. Their two sons used to spend a lot of time with us when they were little lads. Now both have grown up and work at full time jobs. All three keep dropping in whenever possible. Yakob, (For Jacob) comes every day as he also holds a caretaker’s job in a nearby school.

They are second generation Roman Catholic Christians. All of them however have Indian names and their surname is a common enough Hindu name.

Every year, without fail, Yakob, will come the evening before Dussera and wash and clean up all the vehicles at home. Currently, there are only two, one car and a motor cycle, but till a couple of years ago, there used to be three cars, a scooter and a motorcycle. On the following day, as is the Indian custom, he performs a ritual to request the Gods to keep the vehicles in good working order and without causing harm to their users. This ritual is common throughout the country and all machines, tools and implements are given this special treatment.

For Yakob, they generate income. Despite being something that his church frowns upon, he insists on doing this and this morning too, he did it. In his opinion, that I as the head of the household, and being a Hindu, do not perform this ritual is not acceptable. He has therefore taken it on himself to do so, once a year. I simply indulge him.

That is not all. Every Christmas, one huge hamper of all goodies made in their home is brought over for us to share among our friends and family members too.

We have a lady, Mangal who works with us for six hours a day, seven days a week. She too has been with us for many years and is part of the family for all practical purposes. She is a Hindu and observes all religious rituals and rites without fail. Normally, on days like this, important festivals, we do not expect our help to come to work. But come she did this morning and made a local specialty dish that is made on this particular day, so that the three of us could have it too. She too disapproves our casual approach to our religion and has taken upon herself to bring about some holiness in our lives! I indulge her too!

I suspect that this is God’s way of sending us the message that we cannot escape what tradition has imposed on us! I am truly blessed.

Am I indulging them, or are they indulging me?