REFLECTION ON CELEBRATION

My favourite month of the year is ‘December & January’ because it’s Christmas and my Birthday! The December advent smells me Carols, Christmas lights, Cakes and Sweets, Shopping, Family get-together, a series of marriage parties, Christmas Night ride, Fun and Hang-out with friends. Moreover, ‘It’s time to get a lot of gifts’. Sadly, What-to-do now! It’s all over, yet to wait another 309 days.

Uff… wish these 309 days would pass away overnight!

Through-out the year, we work hard and saves for our Festivals and Celebrations. In my research I found, the minimum expenditure of a family for a small religious festival is at least Rs. 10,000/-  and for an average Urban marriage function, it is 15–20 lakh. According to the Reliance money research, the Indian wedding industry accounts for over Rs. 1,00,000 crores and it is growing at a rapid rate of 25-30% each year. But at the end of every event, someone’s punch line would be – ‘Oh, it’s nothing worth comparing to my colleague Mr. Dixit’s ring ceremony!

With the advent of 2019, the New Year night road accident statistic increased to 71%. In every Indian city, at least 5-6 young people below the age of 35 die in the road accident. On 2nd January 2019, India Today reported, UP guzzles down 50 lakh liters of alcohol on New Year’s Eve! To be more specific, 18 lakh bottles of IMFL were sold and 23 lakh bottles of Beer were sold, in JUST AN EVENING!

These staggering statistics triggers us to one question,

WHAT IS THIS CELEBRATION ALL ABOUT?
WHERE DO OUR CELEBRATIONS LEAD US?

The celebration is a gathering of people which DEFINES a Definite Reason. It is an opportune time to Include people in our happiness, Interact with them more significantly and Convey our Love for them. The joy we share with others precipitates good wishes, blessings, and gifts.

I have received many expensive gifts from my family and friends in my life yet, for me the most priceless birthday gift I have ever received was in a piece of paper – A beautiful poem was written by my most beloved friend. I still treasure it in my wallet and carry it everywhere I go. It is just a piece of paper but the emotions, the love and the feelings it reflects are true and sacred.

Celebration and Gifts strengthen the bonding of our relationships. It reaffirms the JOY – SACREDNESS – SACRIFICIAL LOVE we have for them. The greatest evidence of it is – “God loved mankind and gave His only begotten Son, whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life”.

What do our Celebrations and Gifts reflect today?

Keep thinking…

GRANDEUR WITH GENEROSITY

A certain king once prepared a lavish feast to celebrate his son’s marriage. As was the custom in his kingdom, on the day of the banquet he sent out his servants to fetch the invited guests to revel in the celebrations. To the utter dismay of the king, his servants came back disappointed. All of the invited guests had given some reason or the other to express their regret and inability to be a part of the celebrations. The king lamented over his foolishness to have invited such people. He then ordered his servants to go to the highways and bring as many commoners as they could to enjoy the grand feast. And so, there were a houseful of commoners who heartily enjoyed the lavish spread in place of those whom the king had earlier considered worthy of being a part of his feast.

Though the above narration is a parable, it reflects well the mannerisms of guests in today’s times. Partying was once a privilege offered by occasions. Material affluence has rendered partying into a regular affair, so much so that we tend to pick and choose which party to attend and which to let go. The importance of the occasion and the regard for the invitation thus go unheeded. This is the invitee-sentiment in most cases today.

Invitors or hosts, on the other hand, leave no stone unturned to showcase a pompous celebration. This is true for festive as well as special day celebrations be it marriages, birthdays, anniversaries, bridal showers or bachelor parties, house warming functions or baby-naming ceremonies. Competition to be a level higher than a friend, neighbour or relative in terms of the decorations, cuisines, innovative planning, return gifts, etc. takes precedence. At times hosts incur huge financial loans to present their exclusive grandeur.  

It’s not a hidden fact that many a lavish celebration speaks of the superficiality therein. And, how many celebrity marriages have succumbed to the pressures of time and events! It’s time to look deep within rather than look outwards and estimate the costs of competitive showcasing while sparing a thought for those deprived.

Isn’t it paradoxical that festivals and special occasions which are meant for all human beings (according to respective cultural and religious beliefs) have become the privilege of those who are socially and economically well off? I often wonder on 31st December and 1st January every year, if the poor cycle rickshaw drivers, the autorickshaw drivers, the beggars in the street corners even know and understand what the frenzy in the air all about! Do the child labourers get to feel special on 14th November every year as Indians observe Children’s Day or is it again the luxury enjoyed by the children privileged to have been enrolled in schools? Though the law of the land ensures free and compulsory elementary education for all children, many children in our country are still to be a part of it. Poverty, along with economic deprivation also creates huge social chasms!

What ought to be our response, then?

During Christmas celebrations every year, I remember the following verse from the Bible and try my bit to do my part:

“Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared.”

It’s not wrong to celebrate. But when we do celebrate, firstly let’s be sure that we enjoy the purpose and sentiments of the occasion with all sincerity and secondly, lets spare a thought to the poor and needy – not giving them leftovers simply to get rid of the surplus, but by deliberately planning to make them a part of our celebrations in some way.

The following teaching in the Bible has always intrigued me, since my childhood days.

“When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbours; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

I used to think if it is really feasible to do the above, what would people think, would relatives not feel that the host is merely being a miser and cutting costs, etc. Though easier said than done, it is not impossible.

Though one cannot change the whole world, one can definitely impact one’s immediate surroundings. True celebration is in seeing pure joy in the face of those who are often relegated to the recesses and not in merely showcasing one’s grandeur.

When the Creator Himself causes the sun to shine and the rain to fall in equal measures on the rich and the poor, it is our utmost responsibility to lessen the disparities caused by economic barriers.

A LITTLE EFFORT HAS A BIGGER IMPACT

For me, festivals and birthdays mean a lot of work and preparations. Still, I manage to enjoy it. Like every person, I too look forward to my birthday and I feel extremely happy when the day arrives. When I was a kid, I used to wait desperately for my birthday cake and gifts. I would choose the best dress and would live my “princess moment”. This happened every year until I celebrated it in a different way.

I was in 11th standard. I was heading back home after evening classes. The chilly winter wind was trying its best to penetrate through my jacket. The more it went windy, the faster I walk. I went to confectionery and ordered my favorite Gulab Jamun. I came out of the confectionery and found a girl staring inside the glass door. I could sense hunger and helplessness in those eyes. I asked “Bhookh lagi hai?” (Are you hungry?). She chose to remain silent. I took out a piece of sweet and gestured her to take it. She kept staring at the sweet for 2-3 minutes. And then she hesitatingly took it. I could see bliss in her eyes. I bought her few chocolates. I got immense pleasure and that was incomparable. Since then, I try my best to have a good time with poor kids.

Yesterday was my birthday. And due to some reasons, I couldn’t celebrate it. I and my cousin share the same birth-date. So yesterday he was celebrating his birthday. He bought a cake and went on the street. He called the hard-up kids for celebrating his birthday. Four kids surrounded him and were so happy. My cousin cut the cake and fed one of the kids with his hand. I am sure he must be happy. This made me so glad.

There have been numerous occasions when I have celebrated Diwali and other festivals with such people. The happiness on their face is divine. The crackers and sweets can make you happy for a moment. However, when you do such deeds, you get lifetime happiness. I know you would say one can’t bring contentment to everyone. But when we stretch helping hands to people, gloominess will turn into gladness.

I wish someday I will celebrate an occasion at an orphanage or at an old-age home. By this, I can be a reason for their happiness, at least for an instance. When you put your effort into making someone happy, then you get mental peace and you feel delighted. It is not necessary to spend a huge amount. But a little effort is appreciated all the time. Our society and many organizations are joining their hands for uplifting the underprivileged and malnutrition kids. Therefore, let us be a part of this noble deed. Being a reason for someone’s happiness is a blessing.

HOW DO YOU LIKE TO BE PART OF CANDLES ONLINE?

How do you like to be part of Candles Online?

“Great! Feel challenged to stimulate the thought process to write on diverse topics – something I may not have done on my own.”

“Being part of Candles Online has given me a sense of purpose and creative satisfaction.”

“Awesome, especially when I see my name on the top… 😝”

“Enchanted.”

“Has been a part of my existence since 2015.”

“As a family member.”

“It feels good to be part of candles and contributing for articles that may one day make a person ponder over …”

“As much as I love ice cream, cakes and chocolates, which is a lot… 😊 😊 😊 😊”

I am thrilled with these responses from my writer friends, My Angels… Yeah, all of them couldn’t answer in time as they were perplexed with a question all of a sudden from no where… I mean from me. They can still answer it along with all the readers in the comment section under this article. And if I have to answer this question then I would say:

“I feel relieved and stress free by sharing, caring, laughing, crying and smiling all the time.” 

Candles Online completed 2 years today!

Yeah, right… You heard it what I said ;)… It was in 11th July 2015,  I with few of my writer friends started it. And today we have  crossed many boundaries and borders to reach over 150 countries worldwide with 739 articles and poems written by 30 odd writers with 2290 comments on them till now.

I get feedback from people and they enthrall me whenever I receive them.  Candles Online has been such an inspiration to those who were dull and needed a push. It has encouraged the brokenhearted and those who were searching for a meaning of life.  It has not only helped the readers but motivated the writers as well. I don’t just manage it but live in it as a head of the family called Candles Online. 

Don’t forget to answer the question that I asked you all… Keep visiting and keep reading…

Stay Blessed!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY – CANDLES ONLINE

I can’t stop praising and thanking my God for making it possible after a difficult 8 years of struggle. My child which I gave birth to have grown. It is my pleasure to announce that “Candles Online” has completed one year on this Online Platform by God’s grace. It was in 11th July 2015   I started this along with my friends and cousins and today one successful year has been passed.
 
The inspiration behind founding this movement, this webzine was the pain and suffering of people which I felt needed to be addressed.  Above that in the back of my mind was the images of my own life where I could visualize constant feelings of worthlessness which made me fearful, pessimist, irritable, sad, and lonely leading me to weird habits and obsessions. This was enough to fuel the engine of my eager heart where God had already put His vision of transforming people through His strength.
 
After a struggle of 8 years in the first phase of Candles I gathered all my strength and decided to build a team first when I decided to make it online. The team was built with 6 talented people other than me.
 
And the last one in the list was me…
We as a team committed ourselves to the cause of writing inspiring and motivating articles and snippets of wholistic nature to touch, impact and transform the lives of our readers. And I believe we have been successful in our mission till now. 
We started to grow in number. Our readership increased. More and more articles were published. We received feedback from more and more people. We as a team also increased as more writers joined their hands with us.
Ruth, Mrs. Gonzalez, Thaddeus, Avinash, Aastha and Kalpana were added to the team and became the channel of inspiration right away. There were few others who had also contributed to the cause momentarily. 
 
Lastly, I would like to highlight what we have achieved in the past 366 days –
 
– We had published a total of 367 articles and snippets
– The number of visitors of the site is 9,582
– We have more than 20 writers 
– We have reached more than 75 countries of the world
– We had covered 52 different topics
– There were 396 comments on our articles and snippets

– And our readers have been blessed by the write-ups

 
We praise God for all our readers and supporters who have been such a support to Candles Online throughout the year. 
Being the Charlie  😉 of all my angels (includes all the gents and the ladies) I wish all –

“A VERY HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!!!”

A TREASURED GIFT – FROM A LOVING GRANNY TO AN ADORABLE MUNCHKIN! :)

Biscuits Sofa

Yesterday I was cordially invited to my munchkin’s doll marriage party. I was very excited and happy as I traveled down the memory lane to the eras of my childhood but at the same time I was constantly in the thinking mode as what should I carry as a gift! ( I reminded myself that I am invited as a granny so my gift should be accordingly.)

After lot of thinking, finally an idea clicked. I decided to gift a Sofa set made of BISCUITS, which my little munchkin will surely love. I started preparing and made this. It was a super easy snack yet so interesting. 🙂 The happiness I got from the expressions of my little ones was priceless. It was a complete happy hour for us… After all Granny rocked! 🙂

Shrabani Tripathy