Date with the Old Man

It was two years back, that for celebrating New Year’s Eve, we landed in the land of Churches, clubs, Sun, sand, shacks, parties, beaches, foreigners, food and Fenni. It was the time when the old order was about to change, yielding place to new….with major upheavals in the great world outside, but in Goa only little ripples were sufficient to usher the New Beginnings with gaiety and fervour.
Yes !! it was that time of the year, when, people had started trickling in, soon the numbers from few swelled up to lakhs. Women from all over the globe dressed in their best attires, resplendent in shimmering outfits, were all over the place, out sparkling the most sparkling of lights and lamps around.
Shacks were organizing various events, each luring the guests and tourists, with dance floors gaily festooned with sparkling streamers and balloons filled with silver foils, designed to burst at strategic moments and fill the air with fun and festivity. Revolving lights flickered in different colours, adding to the celebrations. The loud foot-tapping music was played at every nook and corner of the beaches. The madhouse rush with more number of people pouring in to welcome the new coming with dance and booze was a common sight.
The Christmas had just been over giving way to New Year celebrations, the quaint little houses were lined up with beautiful X-mas trees and with the depiction of the birth of Jesus Christ. The coconut trees around the houses enhanced their beauty. The Portuguese styled houses reminded me of the good times the Goan people still have, as they were living with past as well as present, in the form of rich and wealthy history on one side and on the other with tourists visiting with 

latest updates.
The influx of foreigners, outsiders, to celebrate, for weekend getaways, honeymoon couples, for tours and travels on daily basis did not let Goans forget its’ deep rooted values.
Yes, the people of Goa are for sure very laid back, when in the evening, when the party just begins and the party hoppers were busy enjoying the serenity of the place by ordering a few snacks and drinks, the localites are already busy having their Supper , relishing and savouring the local delicacies .
New Year’s Eve is definitely a lifetime experience, if one happens to be in Goa, which invariably almost everyone knows about. Most of us would associate New Year’s Eve at Goa with boozy montage of crazy ‘beach party’ and wild night life, an out and out ‘partyland’ but various stories about the rich history and culture are scattered everywhere.

An old tradition still burns strong in the tiny villages of Goa, it is still practiced with enthusiasm .
  Besides all these festivities, fireworks, bejewelled shacks with twinkling lights in the shacks and on the beaches, as we move out from all this, towards the old world charm of the place, surrounded by small houses and cottages, there is another side to Goa, which not many people outside the place know about. There is another celebrations goes about the age-old custom of Goa, which is still followed by the young generation there, but now in new presentation. About which we will find no mention in the brochures or magazines. This event takes place around the Christmas and New Year time only.
Children from various neighbourhoods make an effigy of old man and burn him at midnight to mark the ringing out of the old and ringing in of the new.

There is no history or record about the arrival or reasons pertaining to this event, but it is believed that it crept in Goa, when it was a Portuguese Colony.  
The search on the Internet shows many similar practises, being followed in Colombia, New Mexico, Pureto Rico, and Cuba. Here “Mr. Old Year ” or Old Man Gloom, an embodiment of Year gone by, is set ablaze in order to welcome the promising New Year with clean state and purity.
Similarly, when I landed in Goa, I witnessed this quirky tradition. Local kids asking for donations to save the ailing old man ( made up of straw and stuffed with crackers) .

  
These effigies of the old-man were all suited-booted, with beard and hats, and were made to sit on the chair with Fenni bottles in the hands and cigarettes sticking out of their mouths, reminiscent of typical village drunk.
  Kids ambushed every passing vehicle in hope of earning some donation.

Later at midnight, the community bid Goodbye to these effigies displayed outside each lane and the money collected was used to throw a party.  
Old man here is a ‘metaphor’ of old, gone by times, so he is sent out, to ring in New year, new voyage, fresh arrivals. Some what similar to festival of Holi and Dusshehra, where Holika Dehan and Ravan Dehan takes place as a mark of victory of good over evil and effigies are burnt in fire.
As the year comes to an end, so does the old man as he has grown old with his vices, pains and sorrows, so it is the time to bid adieu to him.

And the people here , celebrate the whole thing, with great camaraderie and by mingling of young and old. By burning the effigy of the ‘old-man’, the date with the old man comes to an end as the New Year sets in.

  Image courtesy :Google

Love amidst the Tombs

Man is born free, but every where he is in chains, and these chains of responsibility and relationships can only be broken once we are out of this cycle of life, when the death embraces us in its unbreakable wings and hence forth we ‘Rest in Peace’. 

Safdarjung Tomb
  
Lodhi Garden
  
Humayun’s Tomb
 
  But this is not the case any more in case of the ‘tombs’ I visited recently in Delhi, be it Humayun’s tomb or tombs at Safdarjung. The Mughal monarchs who once ruled here are now lying quietly in their graves, which are enclosed in beautiful structures, better known as historical monuments , but off recently these tombs have become the love-nests and hide-out places of the love-birds. Families also do visit here, but not to admire or appreciate the beauty and architecture of the place but for get-together and picnics. 
While I was pondering over the sanctity of the place for not being maintained, the graves of the royal kings and their kith and kins lie silently, there was an unusual calm inside these majestic tombs, were they being disturbed by these love birds or rather enjoyed the whole thing about the blossoming love and acted as a haven for the love-lorn people.
“Heavy is the head which wears the crown” – This phrase by Shakespeare truly depicts the state of kings and rulers , who once governed our country, but now they lie in their graves, but are they at peace !!!

When they were alive, the crown of responsibilities did not let them sleep and now after their death they are still serving the people. As these tombs provide cheap, cool and private hide-outs to the lovers.  
The love-birds can be seen cuddling, kissing , hugging each-other and taking selfies with the tombs in the background. It provides them with abundant space and no moral policing, these tombs are generously sprinkled with trees, flowers, gardens and tracks to walk on, serving from prince to paupers.
The love birds here feel free like the’ Pair of swans’ and no one like hawks keep an eye on them. It is a place where “Star-crossed lovers” meet away from the prying eyes, hoping for their love to be successful, even if means meeting under the tombs for them. Here tombs not only are the ‘ resting place’ for the ‘mighty’ but also as a ‘meeting place’ for the loving. 
 For them ” A life without love is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead” -Oscar Wilde. So they make love amongst the dead. These lovers are immune to the worldly senses, they are least interested in anything happening around them, their sensibilities do not get invigorated by the sight of the tomb-monuments. Rather others should make way for their privacy, by ignoring them and moving ahead. For these love-birds ;”There is no remedy for love but to love more” as said by Thoreau, so they make most of it in presence of these tombs, behind the pillars , under the shade, in each-others arms. They believe in the phrase “Come live with me and be my love”, by Christopher Marlowe, to an extent that their private acts in public places make them Exhibitionists.  
These tombs built by Sayyids and Lodhis, who once ruled the Delhi Sultanate, now act as dramatic centre-pieces in the Garden of love. These gloomy chambers with known and unknown graves are now buzzing with lovers who scribble and over-write on the walls of these morbid tombs. The tranquil and serene setting of the tombs also witnesses the glorious past and colorful lives of the rulers of the past. These tombs act as a paradox now, where death and life meets in peace.  
“The earth that’s nature’s mother is her tomb.

what is her burying grave, that is Rainbow in her womb.” , these lines from “Romeo and Juliet” by Shakespeare present the earth with contradictory ideas, as it acts as a birthplace as well as a graveyard, and similar to the tombs.
  It is ironical that graves act as meeting point for the lovers.

  Andrew Marvell in his metaphysical poem ” To his Coy Mistress” depicts one sided love where the persuader addresses the woman , who has been slow to respond to his advances as :”And into ashes all my lust: The grave’s fine and private place, But none, I think , do there embrace.” which implies that he would keep wooing her even if it is a graveyard as it will provide them with privacy.
Hence forth I conclude with a phrase “A thing of beauty is joy forever” from the poem ‘ Endymion’ by John Keats, which means beautiful things give unending pleasure .And to add on to this, our lovers have even found solace in love, amidst the beautiful structures, the tombs.