Monday, September 15, 2014

Photo shoot and Onam

Dear Ellie,

We did a professional photo shoot a few weeks ago and got some wonderfully staged photos.  The shoot happened back in the Obese-Ellie-Phase when you weren't quite as smiley yet, so it was really tough getting those intimate, canned moments.  Still I think they were well worth it.

 You sitting on Mommy's Tummy

This, I believe, was an authentic smile... because the shoot
was finally over at that point and you could get some snoozing

We dangled a few bags of milk in front of your face for this one

You and your grandparents

Yep, those were in fact your feet a few weeks after you were born

I thought it only fair to include a photo of how 
you REALLY felt about the photo shoot and 
all of the gushiness.  Ahhh, precious moments...

Also, the Onam Celebration was this weekend and like all worthwhile holidays, we celebrated by stuffing our faces with food.  In case you end up like your mother and don't care about roots and cultural stuff, I'll give you the rundown of the meaning of Christmas, er, I mean, Onam:

There once lived a king of Kerala named Mahabali.  He was wise and prudent and under his rule it is said that there was tremendous wealth, prosperity, and equality.  People of all castes were held in equal standing.  So clever and canny was Mahabali that he was said to have conquered some hefty chunks of heaven as well as earth.  For all of his great deeds, Mahabali's subjects adored him.  Unfortunately, I'm supposing it's hard to ascend to demi-godhood without stepping on the toes of a few other gods.  Feeling threatened, the gods turned to Vishnu for help (remember, Vishnu, Shiva, and Brahma are like SUPER gods, the only gods that are eternal like the God of the Abrahamic religions).

Vishnu accepted the pleas of the gods and agreed to take Mahabali down.  Personally, I'm not sure why Vishnu had to be such a jerk about it.  I mean, what were the other gods doing while Mahabali was out getting stuff done?  Why not just let Mahabali keep what he'd earned?  Hadn't he brought peace and prosperity to the world?  Oh well.  Anyway, since eternal gods like Vishnu have lots of time to burn, he incarnated himself as a baby, born into a priestly caste.  Upon growing up, Vishnu approached Mahabali during an episode of ceremonial gift giving to his subjects.  When it was Vishnu's turn, he asked Mahabali for an apparently humble gift: three paces worth of land.  Mahabali's spiritual guru warned that the person before him was in fact Vishnu, but Mahabali was a man of his word.  He promised that he'd grant the person before him any gift he wanted, and by god, that's what he was going to do.  Even if that person turned out to be Vishnu himself.

Mahabali consented to Vishnu's demand and told him he could have all the land that could be stepped over in three paces.  At that, Vishnu promptly became infinitely large in size.  He took his first step across the earth and the second step across heaven.  In effect, the greatest of gods had stepped across everything that Mahabali ruled.  At witnessing the usurping of all that he'd worked for, Mahabali said something to the effect of, "Well, damn.  I have nothing left so your last step might as well be on my head, bro."

Vishnu did just that, and a cartoony squishing sound could be heard throughout the land.  But that wasn't the end of Mahabali.  I mean, he was dead and all, but this is Hinduism after all.  The soul is quite resilient.  And besides, a god of eternal age like Vishnu has plenty of time to mellow out about things, so I'm guessing Vishnu felt sorta bad about squishing a stand-up-king.  As a consolation prize he dusted off Mahabali's soul and made him ruler of the underworld.  He also promised that Mahabali could be Indra for one full cycle of existence (I like to think of the Indra as the term-limited Prime Minister of Heavenly Bureaucrats, so that was a pretty generous promise).  Whatever way you might look at it, Mahabali got his fair share.

What's more, Mahabali was allowed to visit his beloved subjects once a year on--- you guessed it--- Onam.  Maybe I butchered the story a bit, but I'm sure your grandma Raju will give you a more detailed version as you grow up.

Holly and Amu made a little guise of a KathaKali character
out of flower petals and leaves.  I helped watch.

Here's the fam, eating off of banana leaves as is customary of the festival.  If it were up
to me, I'd eat off of banana leaves all the time.  When you are done, you just fold it up and
toss it out.  No dishes!

Here you are with Mommy.  At first, she wasn't behaving very Keralan in her western
clothes, so you puked all over her, thus forcing her to change into something
more suitable for the occasion.  Well played, Ellie.  Well played.



  1. Very beautiful clicks, loved the last One and Ellie's reaction ! I loved your version of Mahabali story, will be forever in my mind, great story teller you are. Jealous of seeing that big feast in banana leaf, I enjoy keralite cuisine a lot. You are gifted :)

    1. Thanks :-) I really do feel kinda sorry for Mahabali, though. You just can't conquer heaven now a days without getting your head stepped on. I loved the banana leaf feast, but the only downside is you get all of this great spicy food and only a teensie weensie cup of water.