-The first stanza of the ‘Soundarya Lahari’ by Adi Shankaracharya.
It was Navratri and Durga Pooja this week and as several Hindu men and women seek blessings of this goddess, I am taking this opportunity to share a few glimpses of my twins’ journey – throughout last year – of understanding the great Indian goddesses from a feminist perspective.
My daughters have always had a very keen interest in powerful women, be it fictional superheroes like ‘Wonder woman’ or ‘Captain Marvel’ or real life superheroes like Anne Frank, Frida Kahlo or the Mirabel sisters. Their interest in the Hindu goddesses developed last year when they came across the story of goddess Durga and her various forms. The interest eventually grew into reading multiple books, pretend plays, visiting temples, watching documentaries, listening to different devotional songs and even doing a photo shoot at home.
‘Dhol Mujea Bai’ / धोल मुझ्या बाय is an evergreen and beloved konkani lullaby, which every Goan grew up listening. First released in 1966 from the movie ‘NIRMON’. Originally sang by Shalini Mardolkar, Lyrics by C. Alvares and Music Frank Fernand. In this article I have tried to explore the cultural significance of this song and the movie.
The Konakani movie ‘Nirmon (1966)’ was Frank Fernand’s second production. It had story and direction of A. Salam and music by Frank Fernand himself, dialogues by C. Alvares, screenplay and editing by R. V. Shirkhande. The film stars Shalini Mardolkar, C. Alvares, Anthony D’Sa, Jacint Vaz, Antonette Mendes, Ophelia, Jack Souza Ferrao and J. P. Souzalin. The film won two National Awards. C. Alvares (Celestino Alvares), known as the “King of Duets” received the award for best actor. This film won the Certificate of Merit for regional films at the 13th National Film Awards, the first of its kind for Konkani. Nirmonn is based on Lord Tennyson’s character from the 1864 poem Enoch Arden. It follows a story of a, destitute woman with three children, who after believing that her husband has passed away is forced to marry a wealthy male she dislikes.
Worship of goddess of wealth and prosperity Laxmi is performed in all the business establishments and offices on Laxmi Pujan. Diwali is considered as one of the most auspicious occasions in the Hindu calendar as it marks the beginning of new financial year for traders and businesses. Thus Laxmi Pujan or worship of the goddess is performed across all the business establishments. Laxmi Puja is also performed traditionally in all the households, where traditionally chirmulyo (puffed rice), fov, boiled chana with coconut kernel and sweets are distributed among the children.
This year that is 2020, due to online school the twins could spend the whole of Diwali month in Goa, celebrating with their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Goa is the birth place of my twins. They were born here and spent their early years here at my maternal home. So being Goans, the culture and traditions of Goa hold a special place in their hearts.
Diwali in Goa is a big religious event. It is celebrated over 5 days in October or November, with the Naraka Chaturdashi day being the most important. Diwali is the confluence of five festivals in Goa, which include: