Pooranmashi ( full moon) after Diwali ( festival of lights), is that magical time of the year, that has always been special for me. The moon always has a special aura around it, after all it is the Gurpurab, the special day when Guru Nanak was born in Talwandi in Punjab, India, (now in Pakistan) 500+ years ago. It is that day, when I did not go to school in Bangalore, but went to the Gurudwara (place of worship) instead.
There would be many guest Ragi -jathas ( Singing groups of three members – one main singer on the harmonium, one side singer and a percussionist), and a lot of beautiful shabads ( hymns) would be sung in the praise of Guru Nanak and langar (food in the community kitchen) prepared. Throngs of people were bound to jostle against each other and the Gurudwara would be bursting at its seams. Atleast 4000+ people would show up, while the hall can accommodate only about 500+ people.
The organizers always tried to make extra room, by setting up tents but no amount of space was and has ever been enough for the growing number of people, that have always shown up. People from all walks, backgrounds and religions throng the Gurudwara especially on this day, Truly personifying Guru Nanak’s message of Ek onkar – “One universal creator of all”. The message of equality and love for all, that still resonates today as we all sit together and pray and eat langar together.
The rich, poor and the needy all of them sitting together and eating langar, food prepared by volunteers. It was the best tasting food in the world. Maa di daal and roti was and is still the norm, along with alu gobi ( cauliflower and potatoes), raita ( yoghurt blend) and a kheer ( a sweet pudding), simply delicious! Regardless of the change in menu or the cooks it was always delicious. I usually would help make the rotis (bread) and there were always so many sevadars – volunteers doing seva – service, it felt like a privilege to help out. It was a part of the whole “langar” experience.
In the evening, I would wait for it to get dark, so I could light candles and place them on the window- sills and the railings of our balcony. Then my brother and me would burst the remaining firecrackers, the first batch had been burst on Diwali, two weeks ago. In a way it felt special that we were the only ones in the neighborhood lighting up candles and doing firework, sometimes friends from the neighborhood joined us, the grandmother, next door always lit diyas (earthern lamps), she always celebrated the first pooranmashi (full moon) after Diwali .
I enjoyed distributing prashad and besan burfee (wheat flour pudding & buttered gram flour bars) prepared by mother, in the neighborhood. Although she felt that going to the Gurudwara and partaking in langar was an apt celebration and that I didn’t exactly need a new outfit, as I could wear any of the ones that she had recently stitched for me. …Then, again in our diverse neighborhood there was hardly a week that went by without a religious celebration of some sort, and it was always fun to participate in that celebration in some minor or major way depending on whether you were invited for a traditional pooja (prayer) or given a plate full of home made goodies, laddoos and Murukus – sweets and savories, specially prepared at home for that particular occasion.
My favorite shabad – hymn in praise of Guru Nanak has aways been Mitti dhund Jag Channan hoya – The mist cleared out and the world shone in brilliant light and it still does to this day even after 5 centuries.
Copyright ©2015 Ish Kaur. All rights reserved.