Thursday, 21 September 2017

What I love about Durga Pooja..

The countdown has finally begun. From today starting one of the biggest Indian festivals - Durga Pooja. My cook aunty is a Bengali and for her, nothing else is more exciting than this festival. She looks forward to the festival of Durga Pooja very keenly. While discussing with her about this festival she said a few things which made me think for a while. Durga Pooja is actually more than just customs and rituals. This festival stands for the dynamism of women power and rejoicing the existence of human beings.  

I belong to a Brahmin family and for us, Navratri is one of the auspicious times of the year. These divine nine days, we spend worshipping Goddess Durga for seeking her blessings for the whole family. But Navratri and Durga Pooja are not just for trivially worshipping Maa Durga. And I realized this after having a little chit-chat with my cook aunty. Although I've been witnessing this triumph since many years but a few things we understand only when the time comes:


* Durga Pooja is about celebrating the power of a woman. The entire festival is dedicated to Maa Durga, the mother goddess who also represents power and completion. Maa Durga annihilated the demon Mahishasura after a relentless battle lasting nine days. So these days are for reminding our society that women are equally powerful and have an important contribution to the creation of this society and nature. Durga Pooja reinforces the fact that a woman can be as soft as a flower and as tough as a rock when she is a mother. So these nine days remind us to realize the strength which lies in every woman.

* Durga Pooja celebrates lives. People from every class celebrate this festival with the same spirit. This festival is about forgetting our problems and woes of life and enjoying the spirituality and forgiveness. Many times, I have seen Bengalis celebrating this festival with music, dance, and colourful rituals. I noticed every person from kids to adults, from girls to boys and from saas to bahus, all of them completely into the mood of cherishing the best moments of their lives. Delicious food and Prashad, colourful new clothes and good music, what else does anyone need to celebrate the essence of this universe which is Live Life to the fullest.

* Durga Pooja celebration is not a one-man job, it's a collective effort. Everywhere you can see beautiful pandals where mesmerizing idols of Maa Durga are placed for her devotees. And these pandals need a lot of planning, preparation and hard work from lots of people. Different pooja committees start thinking and devising for the celebration, way before it actually comes. And every time they opt for new themes and decoration styles which require a mammoth of conceptualization and teamwork. And then when Durga Pooja starts people get lost in the beauty of this festival inside those pandals.

A few days back I was listening to Hindu Mythology Expert Devdatt Patnaik. And he revealed the secret of submerging idols into the water every year. As per Hindu Mythology life is a river which is called “Vaitarni”. We all flow with the flow of this river. And we reach at the other end of our life for a new start. So in Hindu Mythology, there is no end of life. It’s only crossing the river Vaitarni back and forth in the form of taking birth and death. With immersing idols into rivers, people actually look forward to a new beginning, new hope and a new zeal for the next year. The end of Durga Pooja also marks the start of a new cycle of waiting and preparing for the next year.

* Durga Pooja teaches us many valuable life lessons and few of them I mentioned above. As per my cook aunty, in her village, most of the idols are made by non-Hindus. And they even believe and worship the divine power of Maa Durga. For me, it was an eye-opener. Communal harmony is best seen during Durga Pooja celebration when people from every religion enjoy it. Today’s life is full of stress and challenges. 24 hours seem less. And with the arrival of Durga Pooja, we all get the chance to refresh our mind and energy. I am not a Bengali but I love every bit of this joyful and exciting festival.

 I urge Maa Durga to bless all of us with all her hands. Happy Navaratri and Durga Pooja!

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

The Significance of Pitra Paksha

Two years ago, in one of my blogs, I tried to make a point in Hindu ritual of Shradh. It was due to my curious bone, I researched about it. Ever since my childhood, I have been observing people maintaining the significance of Pitra Paksha. For those who don't know what Pitra Paksha is, in Hindu culture 15 lunar days before Navratri is considered as "Pitra Paksha". People do a special ceremony called "Shradh" during this time of Pitra Paksha. Based on my studies, I found that Shradh is just another way of doing Charity. Our ancestors were very perceptive and visionary. They made customs around things which people easily ignore, and charity is one of such things. We all believe in this noble cause of helping needy and poor. But very few of us do it faithfully and religiously. However, when there is a custom of doing food charity every year during Pitra Paksha, most of the people follow it. Some of them want to continue it as their family culture, and a few do it in fear of curse from their for predecessors.



I always feel every Hindu custom has a hidden purpose behind it which is to serve humanity or nature some or the other way. In this post, I am sharing my findings why we celebrate and ceremonialize something called "Pitra Paksha". The word Pitra means our ancestors or forefathers who are dead. Scientists say that human beings and their ancestors have existed on earth for 20 million years. All these hundreds of thousands of generations that lived on this planet before us have given us so many things. The language that we speak, the manner that we use, our clothes, our food, our buildings, almost everything that we know today has come to us from generations before us. And Pitra Paksha is for making an offering to express our gratitude to all the previous generations who have contributed to our lives.

When life on our planet started, we all were animals. Life was only about survival, eating, sleeping, reproduction and eventually dying one day. Slowly we evolved to better humans. One extraordinary person out of many common, started standing up and from there we started moving as we walk today. Similarly, one started using his/her mind above being an animal, and since then, the human mind is unstoppable in terms of thinking out of the box. Then we learned to use tools, and suddenly our ability to do things multiplied. Then slowly shelters came up, clothes came, civilization came and many good things happened on earth because of human beings. Our ancestors structured lives and because of those intelligent people, we are who we are today. From learning to make fire out of stones, we now are landing on the moon. Credit all goes to our forefathers. 


We often take all the things that we have today for granted. But without the generations that came before us, we would not have all the things that we have today. So, we rever these 15 days of Pitra Paksha. Commonly a few rituals are being performed during this time to pay homage to one’s dead parents. But it is actually an expression of gratitude for all those generations of ancestors who lived before us. This is a way to show our respect and thankfulness to them. I hope I am able to convey that Pitra Paksha is a special way to celebrate our life givers. 

Monday, 18 September 2017

#CleanAirBeautifulHomes That Beautiful Air of My Childhood

I feel blessed that I have a prosperous life and successful career with me. I am living happily with my family and I am really contented with my belongings. Nevertheless, like most of the people, I miss my childhood so much. I know that childhood never comes back. However, with my son's childhood, I am trying to collect some of my childhood gems again. I am 32 yet I run, jump, shout, climb and make a mess with my son. With taking part in his silly plays, I feel close to my childhood. Howbeit, there are many things, which were there in my childhood, are missing in today's life of kids. Open spaces, parks full of greenery, colorful butterflies and dragonflies, I can't bring all this for my son, despite living lavishly in a metro city. There is one more thing I feel missing in today's life and that I really wish to give to my son. It is the beautiful air of my childhood.  

I remember my childhood when on every Sunday I used to wake up early to enjoy the fresh air of the backyard garden of my house. Mornings in my small town used to be harmonious, pure, and full with a subtle scent and sound of bells coming from a temple located at a distance. It used to be so much fun for kids to wake up early morning for playing cricket and collecting flowers (I used to do this). That morning air was really magical and healing. It used to give me the energy needed for the cleansing of my studies related stress. It used to sprinkle on me the peace of mind; I needed to nurture my creativity. Now I badly miss that freshly scented air around me. No matter how badly I long this, I can't bring that air for my son. 

Ever since I shifted to Delhi, I am feeling a scarcity of that pure air which used to make me calm and composed. Mornings are even more busy, crowded and full of pollution these days. Everywhere there are cars, buses, and two-wheelers spitting up contaminated air. And hence most areas in the city recorded a whopping 900+ on the pollution meter, 10 times more than the normal range. This pollution is not only outside of our houses because of vehicles. There are a lot of different sources which are adding impurities to the air; like rapid construction and burning trashes in resident areas. The widespread destruction of trees has made the city unliveable now. And another troubling fact is deterioration of air quality inside our houses. Indoor air quality can actually be worse than the air outside as it is not imported from any green city. It is obviously coming from outside and inside pollutants like dust, pollen, mould, tobacco smoke, and pet dander even make the situation worse inside our houses. Ironically, our new age houses of societies are not that ventilated and open enough to let everything go out quickly.

According to a study “If you are among the 20-28 million asthmatics in the country, if you have kids in the house with underdeveloped immune systems, if a lady in your house is pregnant, if your house/ office is in a construction zone, If you have a pet in the house then you should be very watchful about the indoor pollution now.” 

Now, what can be done? 

To be honest, I am planning to shift to a tier two city near my hometown. I have a work opportunity there and despite this would affect to my work ambitions, still, I want to give my son's childhood this gift. A gift of cleaner air and openness.

I understand, not everyone can shift to other cities so they should urgently think about the options of making air quality better inside houses. Some of them are:

1.  Go for indoor plants. Indoor plants like money plant, snake plant, and areca palm plant are excellent in purifying indoor air. 

2. Invest in a good quality air purifier. Most of the families have already accepted the use of water purifier at homes and seeing the negative impacts of indoor pollution, I am noticing an increase in acceptance of air purifiers as well.
3. In addition, in my list, I now have something, that you would find as a blessing. Yes, we now have a paint available that reduces harmful air pollutants and makes the air cleaner. "Royale Atmos from apna very own Asian Paints". 


·        Royale Atoms is based upon Activated Carbon technology that reduces harmful pollutants from the air.  Activated carbon is a charcoal that is treated with oxygen in order to open up millions of tiny pores between the carbon atoms, resulting in a highly adsorbent material. This way this paint can absorb odorous, gaseous, and liquid contaminates of the house.

·        Royale Atoms can fix the indoor pollutant called formaldehyde, which is one of the major indoor air pollutants these days. Materials like plywood, MDF and adhesives, all of which are used in making furniture, emit formaldehyde. And because we can't avoid furniture, we should definitely think about reducing it's side effects. 

·        Additionally, Royale Atmos also can absorb household foul smells to make the air fresher. This is the only paint that comes with a fragrance. We no longer have to worry about the chemical smell of paints. 


It is a burning talk how indoor pollution is affecting us day by day. Breathing in polluted air can lead to many health issues, from headaches severe respiratory disorders. We need fresh and good quality air for survival and now is the time to be vigilant and understand that the future would be worse if we don’t awake now. Do whatever it takes to breath fresh! 


Clear Air makes homes beautiful...

Sunday, 17 September 2017

OckyPocky App, India's first Personalized Learning App

These days, kids are simply crazy about phones. Isn't it? I am not talking about tweens or teens. They anyway want their own phones now. I am asking about toddlers and preschoolers. Kids of these age groups never miss a chance to grab any phone around and if it a smartphone, which they already know how, then in no time they start opening different apps of their interest; games, videos, youtube and even camera. With the invention of smartphones, our kids have become equally smarter. They don't need much help or instructions to understand apps and games. 

My son is 3 years old now. And he knows how to put the password to unlock my phone. He knows how to turn wifi on and he also knows how to open youtube. 
Till here, I let him do these steps, but after he opens the world of alluring videos, I don't reply on YouTube. I fear to which video he would click and what content it is going to pomp.So, I keep on checking what he is watching. 

Some parents might assume me a bad mother but I admit, limited phone playing is allowed at my house. Keeping kids away from smartphones in today's world is absolutely impossible. But we can, of course, limit its exposure and usage. I allow my son, my phone, only when I have no other option to keep him engaged. For example; when I am in the office transport. He goes to my office creche only so we both use the same transport. At times, he doesn't want to sit quietly and disturbs other bus mates. Those times, my phone becomes the saviors. For watching a video or for playing a game, he sits on his seat quietly and gets busy there.


Once he asked me to show his favorite YouTube rhyme. I searched it and gave the phone to my son. With a video playing, YouTube also gives ample of suggestions at the screen. So, after finishing his rhyme, my boys clicked on a suggestion. He liked that video as well, as suggestions come based on the category on currently playing video. I also thought this way he would sit quietly until we reached our stop so I let him play videos out of those suggestions. Suddenly I noticed he was watching a particular video in which cartoon characters were beating each other and laughing abruptly. Some of them were jumping in the river and other were laughing seeing then drowning. I immediately snatched the phone from my son's hand and started diverting his mind. I felt sorry for my ignorance. I was letting him watch content which was not suitable for kids. Although it had cartoon characters, it was teaching something improper and ill-suited for small kids.




Since then, I always keep an eye over my son whenever he plays with my phones. He doesn't like games much yet and he mostly likes watching rhymes and cartoon shows on YouTube. Recently I came to know about an app called "OckyPocky". I talked with the intelligent man, Amit, who envisioned it and I felt assured to try this app with my son. I installed it and explored the app along with my 3-year-old phone worm. He really likes it. With some initial settings, the app was ready to play with. The app has a catchy sound "Ocky pocky" and my boy immediately got it on his tongue. The colors and the visuals are of great quality. 

More about OckyPocky


  • OckyPocky is basically an interactive learning app for preschoolers in the age group of 2-6 years. 
  • The contest is based on different kinds of videos that come based on age group setting. Yes, this the most highlighting feature of this app. 
  • When you start the app very first time, it asks you for some settings and there you can select the age group of your kids. Then a train of videos comes and from this train, kids can select the video of their choice. The navigation of videos is very easy and attractive
  • Videos run connecting to the internet but can be made offline just like YouTube offline feature. Also, videos can be marked favorite. 
  • Other than this, there is an amazing collection of activity-based videos that you can watch along with your kids for an enriched bonding experience. 
  • The app is available in both the app stores. The additional offerings can be taken just like other in-app purchase apps. 
  • One more feature that I like is the compilation of both Hindi and English videos. I know it's personal preference. But Hindi is our national language and as a parent, I want my son to have equal commands in both Hindi and English. So yes, a big thumbs up for Hindi videos of the app from my side. 


My verdict for the app


I feel OckyPocky is a must to have app. Although the app is going to be counted in the screen time of your kids, yet the resorted thing is while playing OckyPocky, kids will be seeing age-appropriate content. Somethings which don't teach them bad habits like anger, bullying or making fun of others. 

The only thing that I see as an improvement is an ability to change age group. Because as of now age group selected during initial settings can never be changed for that installation of the app. Other than this, everything is just amazing in the app. Kids need close to zero supervision when they are using the app as OckyPocky app has a decent collection of videos. The design is easy to use and understandable for kids. As a parent, you would also get the chance to share their plays and take part in activity-based videos. This would further add to parent-kid bonding. 

Go and check the app today only! 

More details of app, here at their website: http://www.ockypocky.com/
Check their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/iamockypocky
Twitter page: https://twitter.com/iamockypocky