SOCIAL SKILLS (Acceptance and Inclusion- 5 )

(Acceptance and Inclusion- 5 ) a blog by Jaya Sudhakar and Siddhanth Palaparti

Change of season brings with it a sense of moving forward as we realize that everything is transient and it is best to savour life as it unfolds in all its varied ways. As the rains recede, the months from October onwards bring forth their own set of festivals and celebrations.

In Mumbai, the schools affiliated to the State Education Board conduct their first semester exams in October followed by a break for the Diwali vacations. So the Navaratri and Durga Puja celebrations would often coincide with exams. That however did not deter the festive celebrations in anyway. In fact, the latter truly highlighted the beauty of the diverse celebrations across people from various states. There was a temple of Ambe Mata near our home which would come to life during the ten – day festival. A huge idol of goddess Durga would grace the pandal and a hawan would be performed on the ninth and tenth days. Everyday the goddess would be draped in a differently coloured saree adhering to the auspicious ‘colour list’ for that year. Women across sectors followed this colour code while dressing and it was a fun thing bringing in a sense of excitement to mundane routines – it brought about a sense of camaraderie and some light-hearted banter between those who followed the colour code and those who didn’t.

For us, Navaratri meant an amalgamation of Tamil Golus, Gujarati Dandiyas and Bengali Durga Puja Celebrations in pandals. Siddhanth loved visiting the pandals and participating in Dandiyas with friends. The vibrant colours and music of the festivities created positive vibes all around.
Diwali was another festival celebrated with a lot of zeal and fervour. Apart from the traditional exchange of sweets and savouries among relatives and friends, there was also the excitement of decorating the home with colourful rangolis, lanterns and diyas . Siddhanth loved the new clothes, visit to my sister’s place and the Laxmi Puja in our home which meant some quality family time. In the late evenings, our building kids would gather in the common courtyard below to burst firecrackers. Siddhanth liked the sparklers, Anars (flowerpots) and Zameen Chakkars more than the noisy ones.

Another favourite annual event which Siddhanth looked forward to was the Prabhat Pheri on Guru Nanak Jayanti. One of his closest friends and neighbour Harmeet Singh Narula’s mother would invite everyone down to the building courtyard early in the morning. The devotees from the local Gurdwara forming the procession would stop by and sing devotional songs to the accompaniment of musical instruments. The devout musical strains would enhance the serenity of the dewy mornings .

Christmas in December was synonymous with a sense of nostalgia as the year would draw to an end. Schools would give a break for a week. Siddhanth loved decorating the X- mas tree. The therapy centres would often throw Christmas parties. I remember once viewing the notice board in one of the centres. They had pinned small posts of the children’s wish lists to Santa in their own handwriting. It felt lovely to see that Siddhanth’s request to Santa was to give happiness to all the people of the world.The Christmas vacation had our building kids busy planning and organizing a new year party all by themselves and for themselves. Siddhanth was always one among them. They would collect money, make an effigy of the old year to burn and buy cakes and snacks. Sometimes, they would coax some aunty in the building to prepare some favoured snack and buy the ingredients for her.

All these festive celebrations are deeply etched in Siddhanth’s heart and the community celebrations contributed a great deal to his holistic development.

Author Jaya Sudhakar

Jaya Sudhakar has done her Masters in Physics and was employed as an Asst.Manager in a PSU. Her son’s diagnosis urged her to seek voluntary retirement from service . She is actively involved with Forum for Autism, Nayi Disha and The Spectrum Autism. Friends,tending to plants, reading, writing, music, movies, travelling and a little bit of spirituality are her perennial energy boosters.

Typing of story in Word and Creative graphics done by CreativeSaathi Siddhanth Palaparti, Jaya’s son

Siddhanth is a budding graphic designer, coder and music lover. He has graduated in computer applications and completed several certificate courses. His work trajectory includes internships, freelancing and voluntary work for social causes. He derives immense happiness from remembering birthdays and wishing everyone for it. Swimming, travelling and playing music on the keyboard are his other passions.

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