Off the shores 10
Continuing the Festive Mood
Life, Festival with Family
Rajiva Shanker Shresta
During our last sojourn in 2010 we had reached out to all our relatives during both Dashain and Tihar for Mha Puja (New Jersey) and Kija Puja/Bhai Tika at both the places located at two different directions from this place - going to New York/ New Jersey at one end to Maryland and Virginia at the other. How taxing was for Vimal on the driving seat and tiresome not only for us travelling all the way but also for the host family to wait for us after slogging whole day after days together for making the celebrations as such vibrant and alive while both organizers and invitees equally enthusiastic and keen to make the opportunity best to enjoy together. Only thing to fuel the zeal in all of us was called the bond of Family brought together by Festival to cherish for long and to treasure as the memories for lifetime but not at the toll of health this time, we realized. Age was catching up fast not allowing the stamina even if we had the zeal burning inside us.
Family, like flowers, gives pleasure just by Being. You do not find Love but Love finds you there with your relatives. These were simple but matter-of-fact statements often read but true to touch my heart and to follow and practice as well. Interested to meet them all one again, making my intentions known spoke to Achyut of the programme at his place with relatives gathered that be a great time once again together this Tihar for Mha Puja. Showing equal enthusiasm with my wishes he offered to come to our place and pick me up in the morning. I was mentioning Rachna my Birgunj connections and of the memories cherished from my school days when my Buba* took me to Birgunj to introduce with my Nini* and her family on New Year’s Day 1961all the way from Rhenock. We had travelled from Siliguri North Station by Gauhati-Lucknow Express to get down at Samastipur to take a Raxaul-bound passenger train via Darbhanga and take a Tonga there to cross the border and reach Kumhal Tole Birgunj very early morning. Those days there was no highway connecting from Kakarbita nor New Jalpaiguri was a station, the broad gauge railway line or a train. The long journey made me dizzy with the feeling of being in a moving train for next few days but soon to make Birgunj my other home visiting the family every occasion holidaying during my youth days. Love and care of my Nini with her large family of six sons and two daughters and Phupaju always took me back there every opportunity. Newar was the lingua franca of the family that gave me chance to pick up some that I am utilizing to enjoy all these years trying to know more of it. After my B.Sc. (Honours) while holidaying once, I taught in the Maisthan Vidyapeeth for a while that made me write a textbook Saral Jiva Vigyan in 1967 published by Rashtriya Prakashan. My Buba fetched me back home to complete my M.Sc. and the journey of life thereafter took a different turn to make a different story altogether. Often I did make re-appearances there and the best part was for my own marriage in 1975 on recommendation of my eldest Bhauju Janak Devi*. I was then a young civil servant finding a bride for myself but not to be away from the Birgunj family though most of them migrated here decades ago in 1980s. I am finding myself amidst them seeking their love once again this Mha Puja day sharing the joy of festival being with the family much adored. Life is a Festival only to the wise, well said Ralph Waldo Emerson.
So much so enthusiastic was our Bipin Jwain Saheb that he even offered to come and reach me there a day earlier to do the favour. It was but for the Laxmi Puja to be celebrated at home this day that made me regret him. Achyut too knew that it would not be possible for me to avail the offer and thus the love he showed us both. It was so kind of him that on earlier occasions too he had always been a great help uniting not only with my relatives but connecting with friends too right from the day I landed here last time when invited by the NOA or to meet those coordinating for the WNO. I thanked him profusely wishing a Happy Diwali and requested him to come on Friday for my journey back. He along with Nevi and Vidit were joining us for Kija Puja /Bhai Tika at Chester Springs while Ranjana’s brothers were coming from New Jersey to celebrate together. This would be a befitting finale to the Tihar but continuing the festive mood gathering momentum to look forward for the New Year/Nhu Dan Celebrations with NPPA and with NOA after Thanks Giving in between the two. I was wondering how about the Yo-mari Punhi when the Newars enjoy their much-loved dish Yo-mari while Kathmandu gets abuzz to observe this full moon day as Jyapu Diwas. Christmas fever catching on fast in the stores here, could the New Year 2016 be that far!
Next week: Life ordinarily stitches – Little helps much needed
This is author’s personal account of memories updated to cherish and treasure often on a detour here and there en route to share the joy of the journey called life while in the US. Some names (* mark those no more), places and events mentioned are just to connect with and no malice whatsoever intended. He can be reached at email@example.com