Shibani Dandekar talks about Dussehra and the festivities

“The biggest drawback of growing up abroad is missing out on your culture and traditions,” says Shibani. Just back from a month long vacation in Australia and in Pune today for a holiday, Shibani talks to CS about Dussehra and the festivities:

Shibani Dandekar
Who: Shibani Dandekar
What: On celebrating Dussehra
Pic/ Sunil Tiwari

Extra special day
Every year, Dussehra is special. But this year it’s going to be extra special because there is going to be a huge family get-together. My aunt is celebrating 75 years of staying in the same house in Pune today. I came to Pune last night and since then my cousins and I have been busy decorating the house. The house is decked up with rangoli, gende phool (marigold)and decorative lighting today. The feeling of spending this Dussehra with close and extended family is wonderful and something I had been yearning for a long time.

Catching up on all the fun
In India, festivities are synonymous with food, pooja, and getting decked up. And my favourite part is the food! Hot freshly cooked warna (dal), bhaat (rice) with tup (pure ghee) teamed with lonche (pickle) is the ultimate. In the entire world, if any cuisine can give me comfort and make me happy is this. Apart from this, puran poli, kheer and sweets are something I binge on. No five star hotel in the world can match the taste of these home-made delicacies.
Where decking-up is concerned, I have got all my new clothes and accessories in place. Since it is considered auspicious to buy gold on Dussehra, I am going jewellry hunting in Pune today. I guess I don’t have enough pair of gold earnings, so buying them is definitely on the list. Pooja is not my territory though. I am religious and I participate in everything but I can’t perform any rituals as such. I just watch my elder cousin sister do it.

Even though I was born in India, my family travelled a lot. I have grown up aboard — mostly in Australia. There are negative points of staying abroad. You are away from your culture, people and family. They do have small community get-togethers but they aren’t fun at all. And if the festival falls on a weekday, forget about celebrating, people even forget the occasion! So I don’t have any good memories of the festivals. But I’ve been in India for the last five years now and I’m upbeat about catching up on all the missed fun!  

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