Aubade : Chhatth Morning

It is Chhatth morning , will you not arise ?

Since Friday last you have been sending gifts
To those who fast around you and perform
The rites of a devotion that uplifts
The Harvest Festival to Spirit’s norm

The golden bamboo winnowers, the Soop
The season’s fruits , areca , sugarcane
Stalks of banana clustered in a group
Coconuts in their shells, scarce can contain

Pink grapefruit , apples and pomegranates
Fragrant guavas, Indian gooseberries
Plump oranges from recently packed crates
That cannot fail the Sun’s Mother to please

Ginger, turmeric, radish, suthni roots
The candy- sweet potato , Misrikand
Tender young garlic with its fresh green shoots
Gathered from Ganga’s banks , rich and fecund

All homes are ready for Chhatth Maiyya’s coming
Dusted and swept, painstakingly whitewashed
Woodwork painted afresh , everyone humming
Melodious Folk Hymns,cheerfulness unquashed

Around you people washed and dried new grains
Ground them at home in heirloom grinding stones
Fetched Mango wood , made fires and took pains
To find new gur for making Thekua scones

They sent you gram lentils with courgettes stewed
And arwa rice seasoned with cumminseed
Cooked in pure desi ghee , when you were rude
And did not go to them though they did plead

Next day was Lohar , yet you did not stir
Nor offered obeisance to Goddess Nature
Rice pudding still was sent despite your slur
And bananas , Her blessing and signature

At Evening Arghya yesterday again
You did not join in the Sunset Oblation
You cause others much less , yourself more pain
Your friends accept your choice with resignation

At break of day the Sunrise Arghya falls
All night the sounds and smells of preparation
Have hit your semi- permeable walls
Chhatth Songs a constant haunting ululation

Tonight the final lot of sweets are made
For offering then sharing among friends
And savoury fritters that with lemonade
Are relished when the three day fasting ends

Mustard seeds crackle , curd curry is cooked
And garnished with pakoras for shared meals
Since Chhatth day for relaxation is booked
So night from coming day waking hours steals

You hear and smell and sense and know it all
And yet you keep your distance hold your peace
Slowly how slowly these late hours crawl
You know how to keep vigils such as these

And now the movement to the ghats begins
The staircase echoes with the sound of feet
You can imagine children’s elfin grins
Their laughter tinkling and their footsteps fleet

Families carry Chhatth baskets aloft
And walk in groups across the river sands
The Sugwa Parrot songs through windows waft
And somewhere close a firecracker lands

It’s only three o’clock , you have till four
You can still weigh your options and decide
The Chhatth Lamp’s light sways softly at your door
You could go out or as ever, still hide

It is Chhatth Morning , will you not arise ?

( Amita Sarjit Ahluwalia )

4 thoughts on “Aubade : Chhatth Morning

  1. Brindha Vinodh

    A poem that captures the true festive spirit, colors and joy of “Chhatth”- that which follows after Diwali- and the preparations and the rituals that go on with it
    with vivid imagery.

    – “Cumin seed”?, Isn’t it?

    1. Amita Paul

      Thank you for reading and so kindly commenting on the poem on Chhatth, Brindha Vinodh .
      As for the spelling of Cummin , here is what the Encyclopaedia Britannica has to say :
      “cumin, also spelled cummin, (Cuminum cyminum), small, slender annual herb of the family Apiaceae (Umbelliferae) with finely dissected leaves and white or rose-coloured flowers. Native to the Mediterranean region, cumin is also cultivated in India, China, and Mexico for its fruits, called seeds, which are used to flavour a variety of foods.”


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