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Hello everyone!

This is Punam (paeansunplugged) your host for tonight. In India, we celebrated Diwali yesterday.   I wish you all love and light on this occasion.


As I put final touches to my post, I had drafted earlier, and make additions and corrections before scheduling my post, there is smog outside and I can hear an occasional cracker being burst, despite a complete ban on fire crackers due to insane pollution levels here. The rangoli (floral designs on the floor), the earthern lamps with the wicks burnt out, the dishes in the sink are a reminder of the joyous time spent with family and friends.

(Rangoli-Prabhat khabar)

 I am bone tired after a month long of festivals (there are still two minor festivals tomorrow and day after) and more so because Diwali entails deep spring cleaning (yeah, in autumn!) because it is believed that Laksmi, the goddess of wealth, does not visit houses which are not clean. I am sure this canard was spread just to not let women enjoy festivals!

When I start cleaning and decorating my apartment, in the bustling capital, I am often reminded of Diwali of my childhood. The government bunglow took at least a week to clean thoroughly. Dad would tie a bandana (to save his hair from getting dirty) while helping mom to remove the cobwebs and clean the ceiling fans. I was afraid of fire crackers and would sit in the verandah while my younger brother heroically burst crackers. Those were laidback, cushy days. Sigh…

On to Diwali…it is celebrated almost by everyone here irrespective of religious beliefs. The most popular story behind the celebration of Diwali is the return of Lord Ram to Ayodhya (his kingdom) after successfully rescuing Sita and slaying Raavan, the demon king.

Ram like Krishna is an avatar of Vishnu, who forms the triumvirate along with Brahma, and Shiva. Brahma is the creator, Vishnu, the preserver (thus his various avatars to rescue mankind) and Shiva is the destroyer.

Did you notice the words in bold above? Interestingly those are words from Indian languages which have become a part of the English language.

So for poetics today let’s look at the words from the Indian subcontinent that have made their way into English. For example did you know bandana comes from ‘bandhana’ which means to tie as well as ‘bandhej’ which is the art of tie-dye technique used on fabrics in Rajasthan and Gujarat. Palanquin comes ‘palayanka’ which means bed/couch.

(Tie and dye by Emes textiles)

See how inconspicuously ‘jungle slipped into Tennyson’s poem way back in 1889.

“And fled by many a waste, forlorn of man,
And grieved for man thro’ all my grief for thee, –
The jungle rooted in his shatter’d hearth,
The serpent coil’d about his broken shaft,
The scorpion crawling over naked skulls ; –
I saw the tiger in the ruin’d fane
Spring from his fallen God, but trace of thee
I saw not ; and far on, and, following out
A league of labyrinthine darkness, came
On three gray heads beneath a gleaming rift.

Read the poem Demeter and Persephone here.

I am sharing an excerpt from a poem by Sarojini Naidu, one of India’s freedom fighters and foremost poet, also known as The Nightingale of India.

Palanquin Bearers

Lightly, O lightly we bear her along,
 She sways like a flower in the wind of our song;
 She skims like a bird on the foam of a stream,
 She floats like a laugh from the lips of a dream.
 Gaily, O gaily we glide and we sing,
 We bear her along like a pearl on a string.

You can read rest of the poem here.

I would also like to share an interesting excerpt from Tom Stoppard’s Indian Ink.

Flora: “While having tiffin on the veranda of my bungalow I spilled kedgeree on my dungarees and had to go to the gymkhana in my pyjamas looking like a coolie.”

Nirad: “I was buying chutney in the bazaar when a thug who had escaped from the chokey ran amok and killed a box-wallah for his loot, creating a hullabaloo and landing himself in the mulligatawny.”

You might also find this an interesting read.

Here is a list of some such words. 
















Pick any four and use them in a poem on a topic of your choice. You can write in any form of your choice but writing in rhymes would be nice as Hindi poems are mostly rhyming.

Write your poem on your blog and link the post to Mr. Linky. The link will remain open till 3 pm EST, Thursday. Do read what others have shared. Half the fun in being part of any writing community is reading and interacting. Waiting eagerly for your responses.