That's my girl!
This Daughter's Day, we chat up some women who've done their dads proud by following in their footsteps, writes Ashima Sehajpal

Wide canvas
Kavita Singh, an artist and lecturer When the entire childhood is spent amidst colours and canvas, it doesn't take much effort to choose a profession. Daughter of city-based famous artist Satwant Singh, her process of becoming an artist began with hiding herself quietly in a corner of her father's room, from where she watched him paint. "I tried to copy whatever he painted, but eventually used to come up with original work, which was unintentional."

A university gold medallist, her medium of art is different from her father's. "He gave me the liberty to choose any genre of art and I found my interest in paper machie masks, made of waste materials." Now pursuing Ph.D in fine arts and having already seven solo exhibitions to her credit, she still aims to improvise on her skill, "My father says that a true artist and his art never reach a level of perfection, it requires a constant process of improvisation." 

Niharika Rai
Niharika Rai

Call of khaki
Niharika Rai, bureaucratIt didn't involve a rigorous thought process or any calculations on her part to decide what she aimed to become. "Seeing my father in the police officer's uniform everyday while I was still in school was inspiration enough," shares Niharika, whose father was an IPS officer.

Then, in college days, the aspiration took a coherent turn. "I realised I wanted to do some serious public service, the opportunity that only the Indian Administrative Services offer." She made sure that in the bid to follow in the footsteps of her father, she didn't lose her individuality.

Niharika, SDM East and Registering and Licensing authority, was also never bogged by the thought that she might not be able to perform as well as her father, "I knew people would compare, but I took it in my stride, worked hard and reached the same level. For me, my father was my mentor not a competitor, as others would often perceive." 

Game for more
Preetinder Kaur, golfer

Preetinder Kaur
Preetinder Kaur

"I never wanted to surpass my father as a golfer, rather just aimed to play golf the way he does," says Preetinder Kaur, a 20-year-old professional golfer from the city. And she has successfully achieved what she aspired for. Winner of several golf tournaments, she now looks forth to play international golf championships. She credits her father of all the success she has earned, "I can never forget the hardwork my father has put in to make me learn the game. 

He used to accompany me to the golf course everyday and teach me nuances of the game." The reason, she started playing the professional circuit even before she turned 18 (the official age to play professional golf) as an invitee and even won the tournament. "My father always wanted me to win the first tournament that I play in, as he knew that would encourage me to take up golf professionally." 

With three DLF tournaments for professional women golfers in her kitty, she is all-agog to play in the category A of golfers. "Success for me was winning these competitions and entering the category A of women golfers, where I will compete with all the experienced players."

Dev forever
I am still learning, says Dev Anand as he turns 86

The 'Evergreen' star of Indian cinema, Dev Anand turns 86 today and with a new movie ready to release, the veteran says he is not a man to delve into past achievements.

The actor, who redefined and enriched Indian cinema with everlasting classics like Guide, Hum Dono, Jewel Thief, Taxi Driver and Hare Rama Hare Krishna, says he is still learning from life. "I think I am still growing and learning.

I have not achieved anything and I am not boasting because I feel there is so much to be done. I don't delve into past. What is done is done. You have to move ahead in life," said the actor. — PTI

Indian idol
In City Beautiful, Durga Puja is a traditional affair minus the competitive spirit
Parbina Rashid

Why do we so eagerly wait for Durga Puja celebrations every year? We may be thousands of kilometers away from the nerve centre of this festivity, Kolkata, but news from there updating us on innovatively designed pandals or the form of the demon, makes watching news or reading newspapers an interesting affair. Who could have imagined Maya civilization, Paris Opera House, Shaktipeeth at Myanmar pagoda — all popping up in Salt Lake in form of pandals? It is not just a visual treat but also educative.

How many of us would have known that Maya civilization existed in Mexico and places falling in present-day Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador and Honduras, had it not been for HA Block Residents’ Forum who depicted the civilization in form of sculptures at the cost of almost Rs 13 lakh. Well, that’s about City of Joy. In City Beautiful, Durga Puja is a traditional affair minus the competitive spirit.

No experiment with the idols (the devil Mahishasura in a Kolkata pandal had been replaced by dreaded sandal wood mafia Veerappan and at yet another by LTTE chief Prabhakaran, we heard). Not even with the pandals.

“That’s because the Bengali community here likes to stick to their roots. In Kolkata there are thousands of puja committees and thus competitions become the order of the day, leading to innovations,” says Khokan Adhikari, who is heading a team of 14 idol makers at Kalibari-47.

Khokan knows what is he talking about as this idol-maker from Kolkata has been making Durga idols for the entire region for the past 16 years. This year alone, he had to make 65 idols for the entire region.

So, what one gets to see in Khokan’s collection is some traditional idols called Shoal— Durga in pure white and Lakshmi, Ganesha, Saraswati and Mahishasura all, in the same canopy. Dulal Pal, another veteran artiste who comes from Kumartoli, the place in West Bengal known for idol making, briefs us about their ways of working.

“This art needs a lot of devotion. During these days of idol making, we refrain from eating non-veg or taking liquor and while working we play religious folk songs,” he says.

Most of the artistes, including Khokan, have learnt the art of making idols from their fathers and forefathers and do not need any picture to give facial expressions. The trend of single Durga has caught up with the Bengali community here too. So, Durga is made separately and her four children — Ganesha, Laxmi, Saraswati and Kartikeya — are made separately, who are later installed on a pedestal.

Apart from that, Khokan would not like to mess up with tradition. He gets sand of river Ganges, dhaan and bamboo sticks along with mitti to prepare his idols, rather than opting for alternatives, which many others have adopted.

Dhanush with dragon touch
The Dussehra toys and trivia seem to have gone in for a Chinese makeover
Jigyasa Kapoor Chimra

Though the historians are still discovering toy wheels from ancient cultures to prove the weight toys carry in society, we wonder what will the researchers uncover when they dig up our popular toys? Most likely the ‘Made In China’ label will symbolise our toy revolution. With every kind and form of toy coming from our neighbour, even our good old and ancient dhanush baan and gada is coming from China. Yes, believe it or not the China toy-age is here, and as went inquiring for some hi-tech dhanush baan and things associated with Dussehra what we found were modern day lazer bow and arrow that sell like hot cakes during Dussehra—courtesy China.

Says Rajesh Kumar, sales person at Rama Stores in Sector 22, “We have Bow and arrow sets in plastic, especially for the festival. Available in two varieties one set is priced at Rs 795 and the other is for Rs 100.” With a huge price variation, we ask why so? Says Rajesh, “First the quality of both the sets is different (that’s obvious) and second the cheaper one is China made.” Some reality byte that is!

Dhanush baan and gada are not the only toys you can pick, there’s Hanuman too. Though, in a soft and cushionedc version. At The Toy Zone in Sector 22, you’ll find some more Chinese dhanush baan and gadas. Says Manoj, “These varieties are quite popular during the fests, and as kids always want something different this variety adds to their choice.”

Hey, options do matter, but have you guys ever wondered what will happen to the traditional hand made swords, bhalas, bow and arrows that make their appearance during this time of the year. “Yes, these toys are a remembrance of our childhood, but they are dangerous for little kids.

The pointed swords, arrows with pointed tips are much too dangerous for children as they can hurt themselves and other with it,” says Preeti Dhillon, a share broker from Phase VII, Mohali and mother of a three-year old girl. But, haven’t we grown up playing with the same kind of toys during the days of festivities? “Those times were different, we didn’t have options, and parents were there to watch over, who has the time to watch over the kids now.”

Hmmm that’s parent logic, but ask the men who are in the business of these seasonal traditional toy making and they agree that there are a few buyers for these toys now. Well, in the end we can say the technology infused in toys today is eliminating children’s need for basic and they have definitely switched focus.

Costume drama
From Vrindavan apparel to designer wear from Delhi, the Ramlila costumes in the city have come of age
Jasmine Singh

‘Artistic liberty’, is the most anchoring word that mythological filmmakers use to get out of a situation wherein they are grilled on the question on ‘tweaking’ with the history. Now, if filmmakers can interpret mythology with their own understanding, why can’t the Ramleela production people back home do the same? However, here the only liberty that these bhagats have managed to take is in the dressing of the mythological characters and the dialogue delivery.

Says Dharampal Bansal, president Ramlila committee sector-27, who likes to maintain that there can never be a change in the tradition. “ All our artists 38-40 are from Vrindavan, and they bring in that original touch. Everything from their costumes to makeup to props is rooted to originality. Nevertheless, he adds that when it comes to stage setup, there have been changes here and there. The scenery, backgrounds, things like this change with time without disturbing the essence.”

Shribhaan Thakur ji from the group highlights the fact that they like to keep their dresses as original as possible. “We don’t make it artificial or frilly. It has to be the way we have learnt through our scriptures, but the only thing that is different with us is, we use everything original.”

Shaami, who has been playing the role of Ravan for almost seven-years now sees a change in the setup and the audience. “Seven years back people would take out time to watch Ramlila. It was considered a duty. When it comes to costumes and sets, yes, there has been a change. The sets are more elaborate and so is the lighting and the arrangement of props.

Another thing that has changed over the years is, now-a-days people in Ramlila use hi tech gadgets to give unique affects like fire, waterfall etc.” Adds Shaami, “There has been a change in the costumes and styling as well, but without changing the basics. A little bit of designer touch here and there is much called for in this changing time.”

Neeraj Sawant from Delhi who has designed costumes for Ramlila in Chandigarh’s Sector 20 and 19, Ludhiana, Bathinda and Mansa too feels that the audience like a bit of improvisation in acting as well as costumes. “Dialogues are made simple for audience of all age groups to understand and costumes are made accordingly to suit the changing trends on television. Nevertheless, we don’t change the ideal colours and how the costume should be in terms of styling and way it should be worn,” says Neeraj.

He adds, “We can’t experiment with colour only with the design. On the other hand, places like Delhi experiment a lot with set up in Ramlila. It is an extravagant affair in the capital.”

The exhibition at Hotel Taj has something for everyone
Shop and splurge
Tribune News Service

From designer bags to dresses there’s lots to pick from here.
From designer bags to dresses there’s lots to pick from here.

Fashion launch, stays on for a while till someone at the Lakme Fashion Week or Milan Fashion Week tells us 'Hey, it's time to refurbish your wardrobe (they mean dump the existing stuff for new ones).' If you still feel the guilt pangs getting on to your throat, take a look at the calendar. It is festive time. And yes, it is time to shop and splurge.

So, why not do it with élan. The Designer Vista, lifestyle exhibition at Taj is all about style and colour packaged in the festive fervour.

Starting with the bags, there are designer bags, which define a fine blend of traditional and contemporary by Nupur Kukreja of Ananaya and then there are clutches to go with the designer wear in your wardrobe from Arban designs. The exhibition was definitely high on the 'stylish bags'.

Drapes, unstitched Korean fabrics from TekChand handloom emporium (priced between Rs 200-15,00 per metre), suit lehengas, saris designed for weddings and festive season, formal and semi formal kurtis, and scarf's caught sight of all shoppers.

And who says festivity is all about dressing up in designer and shimmery garments, it's also about extensive gifting. Here it was, home made chocolates, candles, Buddha art and aromatherapy gift packs at reasonable prices.

Last but not the least, there was ample glitter and shine from different kinds of jewellery. Says Sonakshi Mehandru of Arban Designs, "Festive season is on. The time of the year when everyone wants to dress up. International designs fused with traditional ones are a rage this season."

Divine manifestation

d'Mart Exclusif recently launches the magnificent and limited edition of the divinely attractive manifestation of "Goddess Durga" for the Navaratra and Dussehra occasion. One of the most widely revered and most popular of all Indian divinities Durga, the God of shakti, brings strength and happiness to the family and remove all the obstacles in life.

45.5 cm in height, this edition is available in limited 500 pieces worldwide and costs Rs 1,80,000. Despite having so many names Kaali, Bhagwati, etc she is one in appreance. Godess Durga has various forms the one which d'Mart has launched is know as the "sherawalli durga" as she is sitting on the tiger with eight arms. 

Goddess Durga is mainly worshipped during the Navaratra season, which generates a sense of devotion and respect in the hearts of the devotees.

d'Mart Exclusif also presents attractive manifestation of "Ganpati & Dhanluxmi" only for the occasion for 'Diwali'. These masterpieces have been crafted in 92.5 per cent sterling silver delicately embellished with Swarovaski crystals and subtle enameling.

Along with the idols of "Ganpati and Dhanluxmi" d'Mart also offers some of the magnificent and divinely attractive classic diyas of "Ganesha & Laxmi" and plaques and Masks of "Ganesha and Laxmi" to make this Diwali a memorable one. — TNS

Light your homes

Renovation of homes is seen as a symbol of welcoming Diwali as people buy new products to replace the old ones. Now a-days, the dimension of lighting your home has also extended with time in the form of designer lamps, wall lights and Chandeliers.

If you are looking forward to illuminate your home this Diwali then `elitaire has come up with new collection of chandeliers and lamps to embellish your home.

Elitaire has designed, fabricated and executed a new collection of chandeliers and wall lights in-house in association with famous design houses of Italy, Germany, France and Spain. — TNS

Pilgrimage of a writer
Jasmine Singh

Kamla Kapur Every journey has a purpose, which gives a perspective to life. Also, the journey that we embark never ends, even after we are gone from the face of earth. The soul remains, and takes on a yet another journey. Writer Kamla Kapur (born Kamaljit Kaur Kapur) is also on a pilgrimage to discover the deeper meaning of life. She tries to get there with Pilgrimage To Paradise, Sufi Tales from Rumi, released at a function organised by Chandigarh Sahitya Akademi on Saturday.

On a spiritual journey of submission, surrendering herself, falling in love with 'Rumi' was natural for Kamla. "I heard Rumi's name while I was growing up," says the winner of two national awards in 1977. "The moment came, when I moved into my husband, Payson Steven's house shortly before our marriage. There, I saw three volumes of the Mathnawi in his library.

I was hooked on to from the first line I read. And so I began another journey, 'the way' as the Sufis call." Adds the writer, "Rumi was a total human being who expressed humaneness through love, pain and submission. We must understand that each one of us are the central characters of our journey, and there is more to what meets the eye."

In Pilgrimage to Paradise, Kamla reworks Rumi's writings into 30 tales of wit, wisdom and faith. "I can't write without making the story mine. Writing is an experience of an incident that rings a bell and brings in that 'aha' moment, wherein you want readers to experience what you have," puts in this author of Ganesha Goes To Lunch. "Indian myths have a deeper spiritual meaning," she smiles, "and I don't want anyone to follow them without challenging and experiencing them on their own. This helps to discover truth for one's own self as well. In the end, I feel experience is more important than any philosophy or religion."

Back to the fountainhead of existence, 'love'. "Believes Kamla, who divides her time living in India and California where she is on the faculty of the Grossmont College in San Diego, "Sufism has a big audience in India as it sends out the universal message of love that resonates in all human beings irrespective of caste, colour and creed. Besides, Sufi music has also helped in the popularity of Sufism."

No wonder, you have youngsters picking Brian Weiss, Paulo Coelho, Richard Bach from the shelves. " Fame, money, name, family, career, everything is important to us, but we also need to find out the deeper meaning connected to our soul. This meaning connects to us to different souls in the universe."

Celebrations calling
Tune in to the festivity with devotional tracks, ringtones and shlokas
Neha Walia

The festivities have already begun. A time of the year when spirits and spirituality is at its peak; a time when anyone and everyone finds way to celebrate and have fun. Well, the festive season is here and it is much more than just idols, fasting and feasting. It's also about soaking in the moment. And one of the ways to do so is by tuning in to some devotional music.

With everything else, the music too has got a spiritual touch, now that devotional songs and fusion CDs are becoming usual picks. Moving fashionably away from the regular bhajans, it's the fusion tracks by artists like Shankar Mahadevan and others that are providing some sound to festivities. And if you thought it's just the audio tracks then think again.

Carry the spirit along everywhere with devotional caller tunes and ringtones adding to the festive mood. Shlokas, devotional songs, hymns and chants are some of the sounds that are making rounds as SMSes, alarms and ringtones on mobile phones.

Prakriti Vasu, a BDS student of SDDIET, Barwala, who has a Ganesha caller tune, says, "I set the tune a few days ago, and coincidentally, it matches with the season. It feels nice as it adds to the festive mood." And for her gang of friends they have joined in the festive mood through a chain of messages. "I have a collection of shlokas and mantras which I sent to my friends.

They really liked it and I have decided to continue sending one message everyday till Diwali," says Ragini, Prakriti's classmate and friend. Amidst all the spiritual activities, Mauj mobile has introduced shlokas from Bhagwad Geeta for its Airtel users. 108 shlokas that form the basis of the Geeta Saar will now be available as caller tunes, ringtones, background music or can be sent to friends as voice Sms. You can choose your language as well.

That's not all, the shlokas recited in Sanskrit will be followed by their meaning in Hindi and the original Sanskrit shlokas will be explained in English with their meanings. And like everything else, its on Facebook as well with status walls spreading the spiritual light. "More than listening to devotional songs on CDs, it is one of the festivals where we all get together to sing some devotional hymns.

Many of my friends are also posting special status messages too," says Bhawna Malhotra, first year, student from Dev Samaj College-42. Well, seems like festivity got an enhanced flavour through technology.

Big picture

The latest product to enter the market, from Acer's bandwagon is a 23" wide TFT LCD monitor. The H5 series, from Acer, featuring an ultra-high contrast ratio of up to 100000:1 (ACM), is the first of its kind in India. The H235H is an addition to the existing range of LCD monitors already on offer from Acer, the market leader in standalone TFT monitor market in India for FY 08. Equipped with both an HDMI port and a DVI-D port (with HDCP support), the H5 Series ensures spectacular multimedia through digital connectivity.

Made for those who appreciate stylish design coupled with uncompromising performance, the Acer H5 Series monitor has a 1920 x 1080 16:9 aspect ratio Full HD widescreen display that is perfect for home entertainment.

Also launched are an 18.5" wide TFT LCD monitor, the P195HQ, with 500000:1 AC M & a 20"wide LCD monitor, the H203H with a contrast ratio of 50000:1.

The Acer H235H has a well-designed onscreen display, unique aesthetic built-in speakers, and solid performance. The Acer SensorTouch technology further enhances the monitor's sleek profile with discrete, touch-sensitive controls for easy settings adjustment. — TNS

Grand entry

Godrej Security Equipment Division (GSED), has launched an elegant and modern range of "Ready-to-fit" entry and interior doors for homes and offices.

Godrej Entranza Doors offer different design, size and colour options, and can also be painted or polished to match the interiors of any home. Designed and engineered to the very latest standards, the Godrej Entranza collection of doors combine great looks with smooth, sturdy operation.

Key Features of Godrej Entranza Entry & Interior Doors: Moulded panel doors or flush doors, impact and scratch resistant high-density fibreboard (HDF) skin for enhanced durability.

Packed with flax board, honey comb core or timber, depending on the budget and requirement termite, borer and rot resistant these doors come with a 2-year warranty. Can be painted or polished to suit your interiors.

When you bring home a classic Godrej Entranza Door, you also carry home Godrej's assurance of world class stylish contemporary products." —TNS 

Hello tunez
Right mix of melody

Wake Up Sid (Sony Music): When Karan Johar makes a film with Ranbir Kapoor in the lead; he wants to give it a thoroughly youthful look. That goes with its music too. He has depended on Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy to deliver that fresh sound.

The difference can be noticed right from the title song, Wake up Sid, which has been crooned by Shankar Mahadevan with backing vocals by Loy Mendonsa. It is not meaningless crooning. The lyrics come from the pen of Javed Akhtar after all.

This one has a remix version also.

The freshness drive remains on with Kya karoon as well, which has Clinto Cerejo making an easy task of it. Shankar Mahadevan returns with Aaj kal zindagi, which can stake claim to be one of the most accomplished songs here. It has just the right mix of exuberance and seriousness. Background composition is superb.

The album has only one song, which has not been composed by the Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy trio. It is Iktara composed by Amit Trivedi and sung by Kavita Seth and Amitabh Bhattacharya. It is also the one song, which is traditional in the fullest sense of the term while all others are out and out westernised. That does not mean that the composition is purely Indian. In fact, there is liberal use of guitar and other western instruments.

Life is Crazy sung by Uday Benegal and Shankar Mahadevan flows in a humming style. It does not stick on one's lips easily, but once it does, it is quite charming.

Musical mismatch

Blue (T Series): When you import Kylie Minogue all the way from Hollywood, you have to give music to match. A. R Rahman brings that fusion between Hollywood and Bollywood through I wanna chiggy wiggy with you, in which Kylie matches steps with desi Akshay Kumar.

Frankly, the song is a disappointment. Kylie sings her bit effortlessly, but Sonu Nigam does not leave any impression. Abbas Tyrewala's lyrics are no great shakes either.

There is a Blue theme song as well but Chiggy wiggy is as good as the theme song of the film in which Indian drums gel with western percussion instruments.

Interestingly, the other songs have a distinct Indian feel to them. Aaj dil gustaakh hai has been sung by Rahman favourite Sukhwinder Singh with Shreya Ghoshal, who has shed her sweetness for a bit of sensuality. Lyrics are by Mayur Puri of the Singh is Kinng fame.

Vijay Prakash is completely in Rahman mould while singing Fiqrana. Here Shreya fails to stand out.

Bhoola tujhe by Rashid Ali has a symphonic feel to it. Here is hoping that it gains popularity later, just like Rashid's Kahin to hogi wo song.

Rehnuma by Sonu and Shreya makes me suspect that the rumours about Rahman giving music for the next James Bond film are serious. This song makes one believe that he is giving that kind of music a trial. The album comes to a sedate end with Yaar mila by Udit Narayan and Madhushree, which has weak lyrics and singing. Why should there be the use of words like Khota?

Such songs may be applauded if they are composed by someone else. But from Rahman something much better is expected. — ASC

Picks & piques
A long-winding yawrn!
Johnson Thomas

The most self-indulgent filmmaker and by far the most over-rated in India today, Ashutosh Gowarikar has stretched our endurance to the limit with this so-called quickie, a totally nonsensical romantic comedy. Based on a Gujrathi novel Kimball Ravenswood authored by Shri Madhu Rye, What's your Rashee? is a story revolving around a young Gujrati man in pursuit of his dream. Ashutosh and his team have brought about a few changes to the story and in the process turned it all into a farce that is neither entertaining nor interesting.

Yogesh Patel (Hurman Baweja) returns from the USA to get married because an astrologer (Rajesh Vivek) predicts a lakshmi varsha on the day of his marriage and it so happens that his Nana announces him as sole heir at about the same day and time when the prediction is made. Yogesh's family (Anjan Shrivastava and Manju Singh) needs the money to bail his elder brother (Dilip Joshi) out of a 4.40 crore debt which he owes relatives, friends and a couple of goondas.

Yogesh is misled into coming back to India and conned into looking for a bride in the next ten-days as the family has already zeroed in on a date and the wedding cards have already been printed. Once he gets back to India he happens to read a book titled What's your Rashee? and this prompts him to hit upon the idea of seeing 12 girls based on the 12 zodiac signs, in the hope that he could fall in love with one of them.

There's a sub plot to this, his uncle (Darshan Jariwala) who lines up prospective brides for him is also having an extra-marital affair and the astrologer-who predicted the Lakshmi varsha is appointed as a spy to catch the illicit couple in the act!

Now who in their right mind would think of such a lame-brained plot and top it all by using just one actress to play all the twelve roles. Though Priyanka does a competent job, but even she cannot make such a fantastical conceit believable. There is absolutely no valid justification for this in the film and this makes it even more unbearable.

Ashutosh and his scriptwriters don't even make an effort to match kundlis of Yogesh with that of his suitors and this makes the entire proceedings appear disconnected. Ashutosh's narrative in fact is clueless about what it wants to achieve. The laughter inducing moments are too few, the performances though competent to induce drama are just a tad too heavy for comedy.

The music and songs are also unendurable. Ketan Mehta's TV series Mr Yogi with Mohan Gokhale and based on the same book was at least more bearable. Frankly after this clunker, Ashutosh's caliber as a filmmaker has become questionable. Its high-time Ashutosh take some time-out to re-examine his filmmaking skills!

Matka chowk
Shakti and women
Sreedhara Bhasin

The Navratri festival culminates today. Today is also the Maha Navami for Durga Puja. In the epic tale, Goddess Durga who is a physical embodiment of Shakti and divinity destroyed the demon God – Mahishashura. Being a Bengali and raised in Calcutta, Durgapuja was an integral part of life, even if the religious quotient was not significant.

Traditions and practices of course change with place and time. However, if one reflected on these ancient traditions, in a rather clinical manner, one would deduce that a lot of our most cherished traditions revolve around worship of the female form. We invoke the Goddesses for wealth, for knowledge, for strength and for ending ‘durgati.’ During Navaratri, many perform kanya puja, when nine young girls are worshipped as different forms of Durga.

In a country that is so steeped in these precious and timeless traditions, there seems to be a strange discordance between our ancient faith and modern mindset. The newspapers are full of reports of violence against women.

According to the recent reports gathered by the Punjab Police, a woman is raped every 24 hours and one is murdered every other day. The gruesome reports of the atrocities perpetrated by the khap panchayats, when a father murders his own daughter, simply because she fell in love – is simply blood curdling. I wonder, what went wrong here?

To me, all traditions are endearing since it gives the children a wonderful platform – a reason to celebrate and memories one holds on to way after all the lights have gone out. Festivals are a wonderful landmark in one’s life.

Most of us have forgotten the conceptual framework of most festivals or the intricacies of the society that harbingered these practices. However, we feel happy when we hear the music, the chanting, the prayer calls and the carols. Festivals teach us the importance of family and friends, sharing and giving love, illuminating our houses and our hearts.

Women deserve a great deal of credit in making the festivals a roaring success. It was my mother’s relentless cooking and feeding scores of people that made our festivals so special. The markets are already swelling up with women trying out half-pants on their most reluctant toddlers.

I love the way the Chandigarh women hold their heads high while fighting through the crowd in search of that one perfect salwar suit. They also pore over life insurance policies even when the bank premises look like a battlefield. They dodge inquiring remarks about the price tag and stockpile on beautiful objects that would one day become heirloom.

According to the Vedic scripts, a woman’s femininity cannot exist apart from her Shakti. Shakti is a metaphor for womanhood. In this festive season, let us remember how much our women mean to us and how radiant the world is because they shine the light eternally.

Tarot TALK

ARIES: You draw the "Wheel of Fortune" good times are just around the corner. Family support and friends add to your feeling of self-confidence. Trust your instinct and intuition as they lead you in the right direction. A change in your family situation has made you realize where your true values lie. Tip of the week: Use careful judgment in handling issues involving property. Lucky colour: Emerald green.

TAURUS: "The Empress" takes you towards the fast and protective lane. An old romance leads to promise and commitment. You are on your own, as friends and close relatives refuse to come to your aid. Poetry and literary gatherings hold your interest. Despite your best efforts and willingness to compromise, domestic life may remain disturbed. Tip: Don't be bullied into accepting situations you dislike. Lucky colour: Electric blue.

GEMINI: "Ten Of Pentacles" bode extremely well for relationship and romance. You have to attend more duties at work place. There could be new career opportunities due to your past efforts. Spending quality time with your partner will be a priority for you on Tuesday. Emotional matters may not be easy for you to handle. New friendships will develop through group events. Tip: Take limited risks while speculating. Lucky colour: Deep crimson.

CANCER: "The Princes Of Wands" spins gracious influence in your personal relationship. You are relaxed at work and content at home. You may indulge in shopping for presents, elegant clothes and luxuries, which dislodges your budget. Remain receptive and flexible on Thursday. Real estate investments could be prosperous. Be light and playful and remain free. Tip: By applying yourself you can build great success. Lucky colour: Ebony.

LEO: The card "Hermit" invites you to take an astute and honest look at your close relationships. You are on your own, as friends and close relatives refuse to come to your aid. Poetry and literary gatherings hold your interests. Despite your best efforts and willingness to compromise, domestic life may remain disturbed. Love wise, many promising opportunities come your way on Thursday. Tip: Do not refuse offers without seeking the advice from someone else. Lucky colour: Cherry

VIRGO: "The Knight Of Discs" supports you through a busy and turning week with healing and earthy energy. Hurried actions and judgment can lead to chaos and confusion; be patient and preserving. Appreciation and respect for others begets your love and support in turn. Keep your expenses under control on Thursday. Focus on meditation and yoga. Tip: Excessive travelling could prove harmful. Lucky colour: Orange.

LIBRA: You draw "Two Of Wands" to invoke mental power and intelligence. For many of you a deep awareness of their role in the expansion or destruction of intimate relationships will now arrive. Long pending disputes related to property or finance will end up amicably. Business negotiations undertaken this week will prove successful. Tip: Be careful not to over-commit yourself. Lucky colour: White.

SCORPIO: "The Emperor" gets you in touch with your leadership qualities. You make an important effort to resolve family issues. A business venture is gainful. Soul searching helps in many ways. You could easily get carried away by your own enthusiasm and because of the complex planetary situation just now this may work against you. Tip: Don't make hasty decisions as it could lead to a waste of time and money Lucky colour: Brown.

SAGITTARIUS: "The Wheel of Fortune" blesses you with sensitivity and creativity in whatever you do. You will find yourself misunderstood and isolated. Monday is going to test you mentally and physically. Business and work opportunities are plenty. Take one step at a time to climb up the ladder of success. Tip: Plan your life to avoid the in build delays that comes your way. Lucky colour: Crimson.

CAPRICORN: You draw "The Star" what you have been dreaming and wishing for has come true in part. On Monday your best approach is not to confront people but to go about your own tasks with a great dedication. You need to take frequent breaks at work and watch your diet and fitness routine. If you've been thinking about enrolling on a course, do it. Tip: Do what is right and watch your best interests. Lucky colour: Baby pink.

AQUARIUS: You draw "The World" so this is a good time for relaxing and rejuvenate yourself and do the things you most enjoy. Gossip and romantic speculations are entertaining. Colleagues will now offer bold public statements or ask probing personal questions. Remain dedicated to your own level of comfort. Tip: You gain by being practical; don't be emotional. Lucky colour: Burgundy.

PISCES: "Seven of Cups" brings fairy dreams. Stop making castles in the air. You may be in two minds about an important decision. Seek the advice of those with more experience to get clarity. On the professional scene, you will make good profit in business. Tip: You find within yourself a fountainhead of a will power. Lucky colour: Forest green.

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