Navratri – A festival of Nine Days, Colors & Food

With the season of onset of Navratri festival, people worship goddess Durga till nine sacred days and in the nine forms of Maa Shakti.  Navratri festival comes twice a year one is called as Chaitra Navratri and the other one is known as Sharad Navratri.

The word Nav’ means nine and ‘Ratri’ means night in Sanskrit, which accounts to nine days of celebrations. Durga Puja and Navratri festival is celebrated by worshiping Goddess Durga and her glorified 9 different avatars.

The dates of Navratri changes as it follows the Lunar calendar. Nine glorified forms of Goddess Maa Durga – Shailputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skanda Mata, Katyayani, Kalratri, Maha Gauri and Siddhidatri are worshipped on these days by devotees.

Indian Festival not just celebrate festival but you cannot forget the varied food delicacies it bring along.

Talk about food, Here is what we (me and my husband had on our first day of Navratre) –

#navratriFood On the first day of Navratre, my husband's appetite took us to a Roadside lunch treat. Indeed, a great way to fill your hungry appetite #rajmachawal #roadside @noidagram #sector18 #noida #foodhabits #happytummy
On the first day of #navratri – you can never get away from the traditional food plate of kuttu-roti, aloo-sabzi, sabutdana papad and of course, these laddoo for the sweet bites. On the first day of Navratre, my husband’s appetite took us to a Roadside lunch treat. Indeed, a great way to fill your hungry appetite with these sumptuous Rajma Chawal

Our food plates on Second Day of Navratre

secondDay While I fast during navratre, why will my dearest husband stop splurge his appetite habits. Having this paneer parantha right here, right now..
Second day calls for kebabs from
kuttu atta, mashed potato, roasted peanuts, salt (sendha namak) and green chilly.Don’t miss on the sabutdana papad tacos stuffed with leftover fried stuffing & chilled Curd.
While I fast during navratre, why will my dearest husband stop splurge his appetite habits. Having this paneer parantha right here, right now..

Did I kept you wondering our third day attempts treating food palate, here it is..

 thirddaynavratri  thirddaynavratri
Third day of navratre and I had to
switch my sweet tooth on – I enjoyed my plate of Sabudana Kheer, with gooey-juicy mausmi. To balance the sweetness, I served myself with chops of Sweet Potato sprinkled with lemon juice.
To satiate the hunger strike of his dearest tummy, presenting – paneer bhurji clubbed with parantha made in desi ghee . Ahhh, his #YummyInTummy look..

Love is sharing and on our Fourth Day of Navarate, we had the same food.

That is our common food, served on two different plates - but obvious stir fried #pumpkin, with samak (samo) rice and mashed Paneer (hint of lemon) and he had his #gheepawn chappatti (roti) ..
That is our common food, served on two different plates – but obvious stir fried #pumpkin, with samak (samo) rice and mashed Paneer (hint of lemon) and he had his #gheepawn chappatti (roti) ..

I had my evening fill of mausami juice today and wanted to have a light snack for dinner so I made this Poha from Samak (Samo) rice..

FifthDayNavratre
Samak Chawal Poha was my dinner today. Excuse me for I do not have His plate today – he was too hungry to let me take a snap today.. BTW – he had his meal of Bhindi (Lady Finger) and Chappati..

On the blessed fifth day of Navratri Pooja, Skanda mata is worshipped. Being the mother of powerful deity Kumar Kartikey, mother Parvati is glorified with name ‘Skanda Mata’. She is the true Goddess of endurance. Here what our plate looked liked

FifThDayNavratre FifThDayNavratre
I pan fried Sabudana mixed with boiled potato, green chilly and roasted peanuts for these amazing kebab experience. No indian food find its completion unless, a spoon full of desi ghee is served with this plate of rajma chawal..

Shashthi – According to Hindu mythology, venerated Kata performed several austerities to accept the Goddess in the form of a daughter. Impressed with the devotion, the Goddess accepted his boon. She is highly generous toward her worshippers and devotees.

It is also believed that while worshipping Devi Katyayini on the Shashti (sixth day) of Durga Pooja, devotees feel presence of Agya Chakra in their mind and soul.

SixthDay SixthDay
Treating myself is like feeling awesome – I made dosas from kuttu ka atta with pumpkin + boiled potato as filling, and the left over potato chips.

You cannot, cannot miss the sweet-tooth desires which resulted in makhane ki kheer piled up with dry fruits. Ahh – I be blessed..

How can we miss him, my dearest husband and his food desires…

he sum himself for cheese toast filled with tomato, onion placed neatly with sandwich spread. And that is suji (semolina) kheer for his taste buds..

umm.. Why should i have all the fun afterall..

The seventh day of Navaratri is dedicated to Maa Kalratri – the seventh avtaar of Maa Durga. Kaal means time and death and Kaalratri means the One who is the Death of Kaal. Maa Kalratri destroys ignorance and brings light into the dark.

We enlightened our stomach with delicious food served hot with lots of love

SeventhDaySeventhDay SeventhDay

 

The satisfaction is beyond when you dearest tummy savors food, after a full day fast – I made one – pot spicy soup  from boiled potato, boiled arbi (colocasia), roasted peanuts

For sweets savory – I treated myself to delicious malpuas from kuttu aata…

 

That grilled sandwich does the good-fill-tummy job, and he had his fill and being the partner in crime for every dinner date through these nine days of fasting.

 

Ashtami , the eighth day of the Navaratra is celebrated with traditional rituals and religious fervour. The significance of ‘Kanya Pujan’ is maximum on Ashtani, as only after it, people observing fast can break it. This day is also known for ‘Astra Puja'(Worshiping Weapons) as on this day the weapons of goddess Durga are worshiped.

Goddess Kali appeared on this day from the forehead of Mother Durga and annihilated Chanda, Munda and Rakthabija (the demons who were associate of Mahishasura).

EightDay

As per popular legends, demon Mahishasura started killing people to win all the three lokas, after attaining power of eternity from Lord Shiva. The Gods pleaded to Lord Shiva to bring an end to the atrocities of Mahishasura. The Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva united their powers and created Goddess Durga, to fight the evil.The battle continued for nine nights at the end of which Durga beheaded Mahishasura.

NavmiPujan
On the 9th day Kanya Puja is performed. Nine girls represent the nine forms of the Goddess Durga or Divine Mother. Their feet are washed, tilak is applied to their foreheads, and they partake in a feast of pooris, halwa, and black gram. They are offered new clothes and fruits by those who perform this ceremony. At times, a token of money is also given as blessings.

Another legend from the Hindu mythology, King Daksha of Himalayas was blessed with a beautiful and virtuous daughter, named Uma who wished to marry Lord Shiva. Uma worshipped him and pleased Lord Shiva who married her.  Later, Lord Shiva refused Uma to witness the Yagna conducted by her father. She  rather turned up at the Yagna and insulted Lord Shiva. Unable to withstand the insult, the angry Uma decided to end her life by jumping into the agni kund and was united with the eternity. Therefore, Uma came to be known as Sati. Sati was reborn again. In the second birth, Sati married Lord Shiva and the divine couple lived happily, thereafter. It is believed that Sati comes to stay with her parents for nine days, every year.

The final day is known Dussehra, when day long prayers are offered to Goddess Durga.  It is also called as Navami and Vijayadashami.

Happy Navratri 2016 to everyone out there! Celebrate the festival and spread happiness, hope the Goddess showers her divine blessings and fulfills your wishes.

Photographer is a customer; But this customer is no longer king.

Dear Hoteliers, Resorts and to whomsoever this may concern

With five years of experience, I have managed to learn how to handle most daily situations encountered as a photographer at SplendidFotos and NitinGuptaPhotoworks
At the beginning, I would react more, starting stupid, endless and useless fights. But with time, I have learned the art to be self-controlled and self- contained and at peace with myself, especially during every wedding projects.  Thankfully, my camera kits and gears never got stolen or broken and I never got insulted or beat-up.

But just in the last six months, I have managed to stumble twice into incomprehensible situations, in Delhi – NCR. For your information, during both of these events, I was the official photographer and a guest to one of the wedding events. That these places are one of the finest of all times and the reasons for every celebrations nowadays. Sadly, mine were never special nor shall be –

The First Experience

During a wedding event at Mahagun Sarovar Portico (owned by Mahagun) – This manager in charge of the valet parking refused our car to be parked in the hotel premises, let alone the comfort of valet service. Why, because the car belonged to a team of photographers. It seems like all the staff were given special training on how to ridicule the photographer’s team and not to welcome them as any other guest (if not customers). Within a minute, we were showed our way to the exit and to park our vehicle in Mall Parking. We confirmed to be one of the invited guest as well the official photographer’s – they paid no heed.

Well, I politely ended the conversation and left the venue and went to mall parking lot. #SuchIsPhotographerLife

– Sadly, the experienced staff has no courtesy in their behavior.

The Second Experience

Post we wrapped up our today’s shoot at Shangri La – Eros, New Delhi, I was in a hurry to pack my camera equipment and gears. To be precise it took me hardly a minute to completely pack my bag. But then, #SuchIsPhotographerLife – That this staff on duty, almost shoved me off my place (Thankfully, no damage to the equipment) and asked me to leave. I decided to stay calm and seek permission of approx. 1 min to zip my bag and that off, I go.

Much to my amusement, this man – who is part of a world class customer service hotels and resort has no ethics whatsoever nor does he has the sense of customer service. As arrogant that you can think him to be, he was. He had the audacity to question my presence in the hotels’ premises and that he fails to understand that every person in the premises of the hotel is supposed to be treated as a guest if not customer. #ShameOnYourService

The first time, I decided to laugh at the situation and ignore it. But being honest, the second time has been rough on me.

It’s not first time that someone said something about my status or said strong things about me being a photographer. I just feel sorry for them and will carry on, eventually. And for one bad interaction, I often experience a thousand great interactions with welcoming, cheerful and supportive people – but they make no effects.

Having said that,  Every staff in your restaurants, bars and hotels and resorts are somehow your own brand ambassador. How they behave speaks a lot about you brand.

Having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities, will not just ruin your image in the market but will eventually make people hate coming to you as well. It’s time, every service industry pay heed to such experience and educate their well dressed, amiable looking yet egotistic staff about customer service.

I believe that in both cases, those people did not see the harm in what they said and did. Unfortunately!!

Nitin Gupta

Holi Hues – Indian Festival of Colors #KhulkeKheloHoli

A weekend before the holi, we used to visit the wholesale market Sadar Bazaar to shop and stock up dry gulal colors or wet water colors, colour sprays and pichkaris (water jets) and packets of water baloons. Of course, a lot of bargaining.

Holi, the festival of colours, is celebrated to mark the beginning of spring and harvest season. In places associated with the Hindu god Krishna, Holi is traditionally played over several days with revellers hurling coloured powder and water at each other.

Holi in 'oneness and harmony'

And on the day of Holi, my mom used to take out those old, but perfect pair of cloth for us to wear. She used to smear our hairs and face/arms with as much coconut oil as possible. Parachute Coconut oil has been and will be my mom’s favorite. And mine too.

Me and my brother would reserve the bathroom early in the morning to fill buckets of water with colors and then get the Water balloons filled with them. Each of us had our own set of bucket which we later hurled at passer-bys.

Holi in 'oneness and harmony'

After the Puja, mom and dad would apply dry gulal to us and we would do the same. After which, my dad would get our water buckets of different water colors in our balcony and we would then fill our pichkaris or water guns to squirt in all directions at impromptu street gangs as well as at the neighbours. (And, I can’t stop giggling at the memory)

Holi in 'oneness and harmony'

The festival of Holi is easy – All one needs is a packet of gulaal (coloured powder), buckets full of water, friends and family; and perhaps some music.Holi in 'oneness and harmony'

“I’m pledging to #KhulKeKheloHoli this year by sharing my Holi memories at BlogAdda in association with Parachute Advansed.”

The best part about Holi is the fact that everyone has a smile on their face, whether they are enjoying the company of their friends or chasing foes around the street. I’ve never seen any event that was this happy on such a big scale.  It’s amazing.

Holi in 'oneness and harmony'

Legend of Holika – Holika Dahan
The story relates to an ancient demoniac king in India known as Hiranya-Kasyapu. He was a cruel and tyrannical ruler. All his subjects followed his orders except for his son Prahlad. Prahlad was an ardent devotee of Vishnu. This infuriated his father who wanted to punish him. The king asked Prahlad to embrace a red hot pole. But, he was unhurt. Then, he asked Prahlad to jump off a steep cliff, but was unhurt again. Prahlad obeyed his father each time chanting Vishnu’s name and was never hurt by all the punishment.

Hiranya Kasyapu called his sister Holika who had a boon from the gods that she would not burn in a fire. Holika made Prahlad sit on her lap in the fire. But, this time, Holika was burnt to death (for abusing her boon to do evil) and Prahlad was unhurt. Eventually, the ordeals faced by Prahlad climaxed in the emanation of Narahari or Narasimha who destroyed Hiranya Kasyapu. Prahlada never lost faith in the Lord despite all his ordeals.This legend is celebrated on the full-moon or poornima night of Holi by lighting huge bonfires called Holika Dahan or the sacrifice of Holika.Holi in 'oneness and harmony'

We used to chase each other in the streets, armed with packets of dry powdered paint and covering random people from head to toe in colors.  Holi in 'oneness and harmony'

The uncles had pink hair, the children running around with water pistols had crimson faces and all the aunties (wearing sarees) were covered in all sorts of colours. It was beautiful, priceless to be precise.

Holi in 'oneness and harmony'

Holi in 'oneness and harmony'

It take several days to week for those post-Holi stains on people to go and that explosions of colour on the streets to fade away. You can never witness anything like this, anywhere!!.

Nowadays, colored powder of various hues – the colours are traditionally made of Neem, Kumkum, Haldi, Bilva, and other medicinal herbs prescribed by Ayurvedic doctors.Holi in 'oneness and harmony'

It’s a time again for people to play with their friends, laugh, meet others and forgets about any of their worries. We must heartily enjoy the festival which brings us together. The Festival where Family and friends gather and play to their hearts, they spread love with colors and enjoy every moment with each other.

Let’s Get Started. Bura naa Mano Holi Hai