Of homes and hearths
Whispered secrets and shared dreams, the rooms resonate in peaceful harmony with the mantras and pujas, the fragrance of incense filling the newly acquired home which will soon be a haven for the family that resides there. Grahapravesh, is a widely prevalent Indian housewarming ritual, done at a time considered auspicious amid elaborate rangoli, the art of making colourful patterns on the threshold, with chalk powder. Guests in silk Kanjeevaram sarees or cream dhoti-kurta; walk in with bouquets or mithai, usually pedas; while extended family members come bearing utensils or even silver Ganesh idols and the most contemporary of them all, designer candles.
Akin to this, in European countries, well-wishers gift bread as a token to symbolize bountiful baskets and jars – that the house may never know hunger or want. While in China, neighbours give farewell parties with the bursting of crackers and entering a new home is also accompanied by a similar rousing welcome. This resembles the festival of lights, where children excitedly participate in the fireworks, with anxious parents cautioning them about not going too close to the pretty earthen diyas that chase away the darkness to mark King Ram’s homecoming after exile. Diwali doesn’t only celebrate the arrival of Lakshmi and triumph of goodness over evil; but also reveres the women in the house as goddesses in very much the same way that brides are welcomed with an arati or while taking the first step in a new home amid a showering of blessings. Because it is here that the family tree will blossom and flourish, where the next generation will play naughty pranks on dozing grandpas in rocking chairs and hide behind grandmas to escape from a scolding or worse, a spanking!
What are your childhood memories of home? Did you have to change homes often and set anchor in different ports or grew roots in one place?