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.
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.
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.
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.
Björn Rudberg (brudberg) said:
Good evening and happy festivals… we would sure need some light as it is getting darker and darker (in more ways than one) my choice was to go lighthearted tonigh.
Good evening, Björn. Lighthearted is excellent choice for the given words.
Hi all! The pub is open. The Diwali party continues. We have samosas, pakoras , chaat and lots of Indian sweets. Please let me know the drink if your choice.
Hope you have fun writing to the prompt.
Hello Punam! Thank you for hosting and providing this prompt….so interesting to read the ties in the languages. I remember from my days working with graduate students, India is a country of many many languages, making the prompt all the more intersting. Would love some marsala tea please 🙂
Hi Lillian. Yes, it is so interesting how languages adopt and adapt. Indeed, we have many languages. A cup of piping hot tea coming up for you. 🙂
Hello Punam and All. What a wonderful topic — Happy Diwali! — and word list to inspire poeming today. Will be linking up in a bit here. A mug of hot chai latte and a sampling of Indian sweets would be much appreciated.
Hi Li! Thank you. I am happy that you found the word list inspiring. Hot chai latte and some ladoos and kaju katli for you, my friend. 🙂
You’re welcome, Punam, and thank you. Yum and Cheers!
Rob Kistner said:
Hi Punam. Thank you for hosting. This sounds like a most interesting prompt. I’m looking forward to seeing what I can come up with. I wish you the best in your holiday season here.
Hi Rob. Thank you so much. I eagerly await your verse.
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What an interesting prompt, Punam! Languages do tend to barrow words from each other. This should bring us some interesting poems.
Thanks, Dwight. They sure do and thus enrich our vocabulary. I agree, there are going to be some very interesting poems.
Hi Punam and all! Happy Diwali and thank you for the interesting prompt. I have been craving Indian food, so I’d love some samosas and pakora and sweets. . .
Perhaps we will pick up some Indian food this weekend–after cleaning the house!
Hi Merril. Thank you. Ah! Here’s some piping hot pakoras and samosas with jalebi for you. Maybe you would like a cup of tea to wash it all down.
How interesting! What is your favourite Indian food?
Oh yummy! Thank you.
I’m not an expert, and I only eat vegetarian. All the breads, of course. 😋 I like Dal Makhani, Baingan bharta. there are some cauliflower dishes I like, and samosas and pakora and onion bhaji and. . .
You are welcome.
Oh, wow! Dal makhani does go very well with cauliflower and naan. 😊
good evening, all,
happy Diwali to all celebrating.
loved the prompt, Punam. lots of new info to take in, thank you.
have gone for the lightest poetry form I know.
back later for a read.
Good evening, Rog. Thanks a lot. I am glad you liked the prompt. Look forward to reading your poem.
I am off to bed now. Please help yourselves to whatever you would like to have. Will see you on the poetry trail in the morning. Good night from me.
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I like this prompt of yours Punam. So many familiar words that are now a part of the language of our former rulers.
Hi Sadje! Isn’t it so amazing ! Thank you.
Very much so. A very happy Diwali to you my dear friend
Thanks a lot, aapa. ❤️
You’re most welcome
Vandana Sharma said:
Hello Punam, Nice post.
But, I don’t agree with your comment, “I am sure this canard was spread just to not let women enjoy festivals!”
In Hinduism we say that where there is cleanliness , there is Godliness”.
And all the family members help in cleaning.
As Hindus we should respect our culture and rituals, if we cannot, then no one else can respect us.
Hi Vandana. Nice to see here. “Cleanliness is next to Godliness was first quoted by an English cleric in 1778 and dates back to Babylonian and Hebrew religion texts. Gandhiji adopted it wholeheartedly.
My intention was never to denigrate any culture. As a Hindu if your feelings were hurt by my generalization, please accept my sincere apologies. 🙏🏼
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Thank you Punam, a rich list and a delightful prompt. I need a whiskey as tuck into samosas and chutney.
Glad you like the list, Paul. A single malt for you.
Much appreciated, the best malt.
Only the best for you. 🙂
Happy Diwali and all those other festivals … cleaning, cooking, decorating … a woman’s work is never done 🙂
Love this prompt, most creative and good fun!
Thanks so much, Kate. Indeed, it is never done. 🙂
I am so glad you enjoyed it. ❤️
Thanks for sharing Diwali with us, and hosting. Loved the info on the crossover words. I wasn’t aware of that. Now to the bar…I’ll have some sweets please😊.
Hi Pat. It was my pleasure to share a bit about one of our foremost festivals. Chilled rosogollas for you. 😊
It is. 😊
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Linda Lee Lyberg said:
Hello Punam- what a lovely prompt. Thank you so much for hosting.
Hello Linda. I am so glad you liked the prompt. I hope you are well.
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Hey Punam! Just after adding my poetic contribution to this Diwhali celebration over on Mr. Linky. Hope you all enjoy it?! 🤞🙏😁
Hi Ken! Checking out now. 👍🏼😊
Cool, thanks Punam. 😎😁 Looking forward to reading what you think. 😀
I enjoyed it very much, Ken. Thank you for sharing in the joy of Diwali. 😊🙏🏼
Yvonne Osborne said:
I might be too late to compose a poem for the prompt but I’d just like to say I enjoyed your post and a glimpse into a different culture. I will tell my daughter about the Goddess of Wealth!!
Hi Yvonne! Thanks a lot.
You still have time till 3 pm EST or else you can share the link when OLN goes live. Would love to read what you compose.
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Happy Dilwali, Punam! I really enjoyed reading all the information you provided on Indian words used in English.
I’m late, but,
Thanks a lot, Sara! I am so happy that you enjoyed reading about Diwali and delighted that you wrote to the prompt. Why don’t you link it to OLN! That way everyone at dVerse will get a chance to read it.
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Hi Punam, my first attempt at joining your prompt.
Sadje, thanks ever so much for joining in. ❤️ Could you please link it to OLN so that more people can read it.
Okay I’ll do that. Is that like Mr Linky?
Yes. OLN was yesterday and is open till Sunday. You can leave your link at Mr. Linky.