My now late paternal Grandpa (Thakurda) would insist that I be adorned with "Dhaan-Durba" ( grains of rice with the seed coat and a type of grass )while he closed his eyes in prayers for my well being. I liked that so much that when my other cousins hurried to brush off their hair of the yellow and green bits, I'd let those stay on, pretend that I didn't notice, and let out an Oscar-winning "Oh!", when any of them pointed out "Hey you still got bits on your hair!"
It made me feel special. It made me feel cared for and blessed. I wanted to keep it with me as long as I could.
One day I asked my Grandpa the significance of using the combination. He opined that the grains and the grass signified prosperity and health, respectively. The age old idea of "Gola bhora dhaan"= "barn full of grain" represents affluence; and that special grass has the amazing capacity to regenerate even after a house and its lawn have been completely destroyed by fire. So, when elders wish for our long lives by pronouncing "Ayushman Bhava" (or "Ayushmati Bhava" while blessing a female child), they also wish us a life of prosperity and health along with longevity. Maybe I treasured those bits because I knew what it meant while most of my other cousins didn't.
The last time I got dhaan-dubba was when I went home to visit my family before coming over to Boston. My grandma said that I wouldn't be in India by the time my birthday arrived (14th September), so she wanted to give me blessings and some INR ( I still have that money in my bag ). This little rite is something that is probably going to die out with time. And I don't know, several years later if I try to put grain and grass on my kids' heads, maybe they'll think "Mom is crazy" or file a case for harassment. Maybe not.
Whatever, back to present. I was walking to school when I saw the snow melting on the lawn and the green grass still thriving beneath the sheets of ice, and it all came back to me.
This post comes at the wake of an unfortunate event when an oil tanker truck blew up in Everett. One of the houses destroyed was Carol's - a MGT671 classmate of mine, who has lost all her possessions. It makes it even more difficult with the semester end approaching. I'd probably try to take out my passport, credentials and my laptop with all my assignments in case of a fire emergency- whether I manage to take out a coat at -13 degree C or not.
I request anyone reading this post thus far to take a moment to wish her strength and courage to ease her through this trying times. I might/might not believe in God the way most people do, but I definitely believe in the great strength of will.
I have grown up near a commercial center and have seen two major fire incidents where I witnessed some people lose everything. One of the women crying like an insane person on the street was a mother who had saved all the gold ornaments in her shop for her daughter's wedding the following day. Some slaves can be real bad masters.