"Keep working on a plan. Make no little plans. Make the biggest you can think of, and spend the rest of your life carrying it out." Harry S. Truman

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Dandiyas, decorated cars, and a clay doll toilet.

It rains, and rains, and rains in Hyderabad. And here are a few tidbits from the last few days...
On Saturday, we finally attended a Dandiya dance ! I say finally because I’ve wanted to do this ever since I saw that scene in the movie “Bride and Prejudice,” with beautiful Aishwarya Rai. 

The Dandiya dance is usually held during the Navaratri festival, a 9-night long festival (Navara means 9, ratri means night in Sanskrit) which ends with Dushera, the immersion of statues of the Goddess Durga, and the burning of ten-headed effigies of Ravana (picture) who abducted Sita, Lord Rama’s wife, and took her to Sri Lanka, where Rama finally rescued her and killed Ravana. It is the festival of the Victory of Good over Evil.
Once more, I was reminded how I never feel so alive as when I’m, either dancing, or partaking in some celebration that allows me a glimpse into another culture. So, I was doubly blessed, on Saturday. What a sight it was to see all these Indian ladies, young and not so young, dressed in beautiful saris and glittering gagras, dancing round and round with their dandiyas (decorated bamboo sticks) ! 

Where there is dance, there I am, ready to fumble until I manage to understand and reproduce a number of steps, so I’m happy to report that I had an absolute ball ! It was funny, also, to notice the similarities between some of the rhythms, and those of the Senegalese Sabar dancing I used to do, while living in New York.

And this afternoon, as I stood at a crossing, a few minutes walk from my house, waiting for the bus that brings my children back from their new school, I couldn’t help but smile - fondly - as I saw all the cars, motorcycles and bicycles all decorated with flower garlands. This is also part of the Navarathri festival : a pooja where all manners of tools and implements used in the everyday life are worshiped.

The bus usually brings stories along with my children, as they adjust to their new school : it is also an international school, but Indian-run. They have several campuses across India, and the one they opened in Hyderabad, a year ago, is nothing short of beautiful. Their philosophy is sound, they offer lots of sports and extracurricular activities, and they’re academically much stronger than the previous school (the reason we decided to shift our children, in spite of the heartache of having them leave their friends - thankfully, a bunch of kids shifted, too, so that they both have friends from their previous class with them). 

Sometimes, the stories are funny, and other times, they make me cringe. Today, my older daughter shared her disappointment at seeing the teacher of the clay pottery class destroy what she’d spent an entire period working on : a toilet for her Playmobils. Apparently, and even though the teacher had given them all latitude to do anything they wished, she found that making a toilet was “nonsense.” Knowing the sanitation situation in India, and the stigma attached to anything related to a toilet (let’s not forget that to this day, among the Hindus, cleaning a toilet is something that only those from the lowest castes are expected to do) I suppose I could say that such strong, knee-jerk reaction is understandable. That is the culturally aware approach. Then, there is the mother’s approach, who really balks at the thought that a teacher could destroy a child’s work, something to which she dedicated time and energy - and knowing my daughter, I bet it was a very pretty toilet because she’s quite the artist, and really has an eye for detail. I mean, come on, what’s so wrong about creating a little doll toilet out of clay?

1 comment:

Term Papers said...

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