Saturday, October 15, 2011

Diwali - The Festival of Lights

Diwali has been one of my favorite festivals for a very long time. Though over the years the way I celebrate the event that signifies the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, god over demons, etc has changed. My fondness for the festival has remained the same.
Diwali was one of those occasions when the entire family got together in my maternal grandfather's home. It would be a riot of colors and a cacophony of noises as we 20 grandkids played, fought and frolicked for the few days we were together. Those were the carefree days of childhood when the only job was to have fun and be happy, eat and sleep well. What better way to enjoy than by wear new clothes, receive gifts of cash, toys, etc, burst crackers, and of course eat whole lot of goodies.
When I got together with my cousings during these festival holidays we would have eating competitions and our moms would never get tired cooking and feeding us. At those times due to my apparent ignorence I never valued the great family together time. As I grew older and got busy with my own life, studies, college, adventure sports, travelling and other activities took precedence and the first thing to be ignored was family and these festivities. As a young college student I would look forward to these festivals but for a different reason - holidays so I could travel with friends.

After coming to the US, Diwali has taken a whole new meaning. It is now more than ever in my life that I appreciate and miss the family time together, that I took so much for granted in my younger years. The gifts I received were not of great value but it was given with so much love that even the most expensive gifts felt cheap in comparison.


As we approach another Diwali this year I remember and cherish the family times and shared enjoyment that I miss today living in America. Last year American Express launched a new gift card exclusively for the Diwali festival. This is one way through which I can show my loved ones living in this country that I remember that it is festival season and that I do care for them, even though I may not be meeting them on a regular basis. The American Express Diwali Gift Card is a great product in my opinion and I have been sending them to my family and friends here since last year.


American Express is now offering my blog readers an opportunity to win $50 gift cards by sharing their memories of Diwali. All you need to do is to leave a comment in response to this post about your favorite memories/ experiences of Diwali and five winners will be chosen at random to receive $50 gift card each from American Express. So get those memories from the corners of your heart and pen them down here and your story could get you a little extra money for the upcoming festival season.












Thursday, October 13, 2011

American Express Diwali Gift Card Giveaway is back

Last year I ran the Diwali shopping contest and gave away American Express Gift cards to winners. Well Diwali is an annual festival and the giveaways and gifts are back this year too. Thanks to American Express. This year it is going to be simpler and easier to win. All you got to do is to leave a comment on my blog talking about your favorite Diwali memories. The five best expressed memories will receive $50 gift cards from American Express to help with your festival shopping.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

India on the verge of losing the Taj Mahal

Image courtesy DOTW News

I read a lot of news and those that really touch my heart I blog about it. Here is a news report about two things I feel passionately about: India and its heritage monuments. I read this news report titled The Taj Mahal in danger of collapse on the online DOTW News portal. I am definitely sad but I am not surprised at all. India is one nation with a large population and a relatively small landmass. Coupled with the fact that India is full of heritage monuments, almost every small village in the country has historical temples and structures that need to be preserved.

Now given the small land mass of country, our ancestors should not have been so magnanimous to give away large tracts of territory to create smaller nations of Pakistan and Bangladesh. As if adding insult to injury the our people have ceded a third of land in Jammu & Kashmir to Pakistan to create Pak Occupied Kashmir and some more land to China in the contiguous Ak-Siachen region. Then there is the dispute with China over Arunachal Pradesh, then the Narasimha Rao government as recently as during the 1990s ceded some part of the Tin Bigha corridor to Bangladesh which has now been completely leased (read given away) to Bangladesh recently. Now with so little land left for such a huge population there is simply not enough resources in Mother India to feed, clothe and house the teeming billions.

Then we have our self-serving politicians and businessmen and the so-called societal leaders who are more interested in stripping the country of its riches and filling their own coffers. The net result natural resources of the country are ravaged, antiquities are sold. The Taj Mahal being in this kind of precarious condition is the result of this kind of the rapacity of the country.

There is a saying in Sanskrit "Yatha Raja, thatha Praja" meaning "How the king is, that is how the citizens will be". With the country being ruled by corrupt, self-serving politicians, the nations populous is equally corrupt if not more. Nobody is concerned about anything that belongs to the society, everyone is bothered only about his/ her self, immediate family, bank accounts, property. So who cares about the Taj? The media which should play the role of a promoter of national interest is doing the exact opposite. They make heroes out of terrorists and villains of the soldiers and police.

The net result is drying up of rivers, damage to our heritage and monuments like Taj will collapse. I am sure the bureaucrats and politicians who are talking about protecting the monument are more interested in the pickings they can get out of the contracts they will award to engineers, architects and builders rather than really restoring and protecting the Taj.