And come into circle of love
This month, the Punjabi’s of India and Pakistan celebrate Lohri. Lohri is a celebration of joy of life and fertility. It has a special significance for the family which is blessed with a newly born. It is observed on 13th of January every year. On this day, the Sun starts moving northwards and days get warmer. On this festival the Punjabi love for food and dance is on full display.
Traditionally, a bonfire is lit as the dusk is uncoiling at the newly born’s house. Friends and extended family members come wearing traditional cloths. The guests and the family members dance around the fire and while dancing the puffed rice, sesame seed, corn is thrown into the fire (I believe that during ancient times these were symbolic offerings to fire god Agni). This year we are celebrate the arrival of Chetan (my son) and Megan’s daughter Ahana.
I am taking the liberty of conveying some of my thoughts to Chetan and Megan through this blog on this special occasion...
Chetan, in my 68 years of being, I have learned that time is not made of things but events. In one of those events on March 31st, 2019, you and your dear wife Megan were born as parents. I still see your joyfully shimmering face when you came to us delicately holding her. I saw how the newly born had created a tender loving space in your heart and that space was already transforming you into a doting father. When we saw her for the first time, we the grandparents felt exulted like the little bird lark who in happiness fly’s vertically at tremendous speed while singing in melodious voice. For me in the deepening silence of thirsty life, she has come as a new water.
You and Megan have named her Ahana, meaning Mother Goddess Durga as well as the first ray of the Sun. It is a beautiful name for a child. She is a beaming light in our lives. Parents fervently wish to see their grown-up children reflect some glory of the virtues hidden behind their given name. I have no doubt you both wish to see Ahana grow up as epitome of the glory behind the name, and that you and Megan will walk in lock steps and provide an environment of a blessed place for her so that she can grow into her name.
In our lives, we are always behind the curve in our understanding of parenthood and perfect parenthood remains elusive. Despite doing everything right in your view, there will be heartbreaks for all involved. This is natural and expected. Fortunately, these heartbreaks will open new landscapes of understanding in your heart and transformations to new understanding.
Raising strong, intellectual, family-oriented, and worldly-wise girls is a tough job. Society does not make it easy. There will be times she will feel vulnerable. Your upbringing will teach her that vulnerability comes with courage and without courage the life does not reveal its hidden beauty.
- Give her a gift of asking beautiful questions and seek beautiful answers. An ever-present effervescent feeling of wonder and awe should be there in her life. It is “THE” source of strength and will be her guiding companion. This strength grows as flowering beauty in one’s heart with time spent in nature, playing music, painting, dancing, reading books etc.
- Live a life of “Contested Generosity”. Living with this concept will make you and Megan strive to outdo each other in loving, forgiving, and understanding with a foundation of active listening. The kids are rarely listening but always watch what you do. Just think, how many times you have told me what you saw me doing as opposed remembering what I was saying. In short, your life on steroid of contested generosity will osmotically transform Ahana.
- When she is at an understanding age, teach and show her that it is not written anywhere that all the people including her must be happy all the time. Light and darkness are woven in the fabric of the day. It is natural to feel defeated sometimes. Wisdom requires one to move gracefully with grit towards life’s goals. It’s also important that she understands that despite her best efforts, she may not always get what she wants. Her expectations from the society and the society’s response to her will not be same all the time. Life will always be somewhere in the middle.
- When she can walk a couple of miles without getting tired, take her on the trail behind the house especially, if possible, in the mornings. Talk about the amazing fragrance coming from the wet grass. Listen to chirping of birds, especially how they follow each other in their calls. Teach her how to listen to the stream. There is blessing in appreciating the rested beauty of nature including sky, clouds. The experience of spending conscious time in the nature increases the sense of wonder which is a true source of knowledge and strength.
- It is important that she is engaged and committed to her schooling, but it is equally important that this is not her only focus. While focusing on her mind development, also give equal attention to soul development by engaging her in charity work, service in Gurdwaras and Temples. Give praise when she helps someone in any which way.
- Engage her in the simple pleasures of life like going to a neighborhood diner, farmer's markets, flea markets etc. Happiness is feeling blessed. Expensive tastes do not increase the intensity of blessed feelings.
- Cultivate the arts. Teach her piano; piano enhances neural connections between both hemispheres of brain like no other. Ahana is already showing signs of a prodigal learner. I think she has come prepared. She just needs some prodding. This art is going to stay with her for rest of her life.
- If possible, at an early age introduce her to good literature especially poetry. One’s world is limited by the words known to them. More she absorbs more her vision will expand. The limit of one’s vision is the limit of the universe. As grand father, I want her to know as much as the universe, but I know it is not possible, but I do know a quick way to explore the mystery of universe is to read poetry. Reading a good poem under the warm gaze of night is more spiritual than any number of prayers.
- I hope that she is taught to know her roots. Pride in culture and age-old traditions is an unbreakable shield which will make her bounce back into light from dark swamp of failure and depression. Traditional religious and cultural rituals give order and make us appreciate the rhythm of life. More importantly, we are genetic shadows of our ancestors. The traditional rituals make us feel their existence. Every time I recite a Shabad (Holy Hymn) in the prayer room, I feel connected with my mother. Create reasons for being festive. “Life without festivities is a long road without an inn”, these words by Democritus have ring of truth.
There may be times which may test you emotionally and financially. Use your pain to transform yourself otherwise you will transmit it to people around you including Ahana. Worrying about future does not help because future always happens. In hard times she will reflect on your fortitude, will learn, and move on.
She does not know her destiny. It will reveal itself slowly due to combination of her actions and outer influences. In antiquity while throwing offerings into fire, people would say “ Aadar Aawe, Te Dalidari Jaavey “. It means may the honor come, and the ignorance, laziness, and poverty depart. Nobody knows what the destiny has in cards for her, your job is to prepare her to make any destiny blissful. A change of season is a prelude to that journey.
A change in weather is sufficient to recreate the world and ourselves