The wonderful thing about ancient religions like Hinduism is that they have a god for all reasons and seasons. Every aspect of life is idealised and taken to the inspirational level of a god. The wonderful thing about gods is that each must be given a day of remembrance and celebration. What's the point of being a major Hindu god if you can't have your own holiday?
Vishwakarma is the universal engineer. He makes the weapons and the ornaments, the palaces and the furniture, the machines (a la flying chariots) and the tools for all the gods. He is the ultimate craftsman: carpenter, artisan, fashion designer, architect and inventor all supremely rolled into one handsome, four-armed image.
|picture credit: kolkatapictures.com|
A clay idol of the young god is created by artisans and installed in colourful roadside tents, in workshops and factories. Taxis are festooned with marigold garlands and even balloons. All machines and tools are appreciated in the Hindu way with prayers, flowers and tilak. Most workshops give their machines a day of rest.
In fact, in our part of the world, even kitchens and their implements were given a day of cleaning and rest and the family ate a cold feast of traditional dishes cooked the day before!
When we were kids, this was one of our favourite festivals because we could fly kites for as long as we wanted and the entire Calcutta sky was densely spotted with traditional kites and kite-fight competitions. Intermittent shouts of "Voh Kattah!" rent the air whenever a kite was "cut" by another.
|picture credit: incredibleindiatravels.in|
|picture credit: goa-beach.com|
The Calcutta sky is no longer filled with colourful kites on Vishwakarma Puja. We no longer have large joint families where all ages of adults and children lived under one roof. Young adults taught children the art of manjha-making, balancing or the techniques of flying and cutting kites. Every family had its own styles, skills and wisdom that it passed down the generations from uncles to nephews (and some tom-boy nieces).
Learning anything takes time and practice. Time is at a premium for our children who go from school to tuition classes to karate or yoga or drama or mathemagic or some such activity. They have other skills to learn and no time to fly kites for fun!
Our children don't have the freedom to spend hours feeling lifted by the pure pleasure of feeling the wind take a kite and then working with the wind to control its flight. More, they no longer want to be out in the sun. They would, perhaps, much rather fly a kite on an iPad app in the virtual world.
At the risk of becoming one of those "life was better when we were kids" mothers: Alas! I wish my kids knew the Hindu gods and godesses the way we did, as people with quirks and defects and likes and dislikes and life-stories that made our lives so much fun!