My sastang pranam at your Lotus Feet Swamiji. Thank you is too small a word to convey my gratitude to be a part of the family.

Today morning while plucking flower for puja, a curious rather crazy childhood memory suddenly floated from some corner of the mind. How we used to steal flower from wherever possible before any special puja.

In Odisha, we celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi and Vasant Panchami (Saraswati Puja) in educational institutions. It is really a grand occasion for all students.Β  It is a well known fact that, the above God and Goddess are the providers of knowledge (Vidya data and Vidya Datri) respectively. Owing to this fact, there are well propagated guidelines that studying on the day, even touching study materials is prohibited. Now digest that πŸ˜‰! What kids most want, has been provided to them, break from studies πŸ˜‰ that to none other than god! Apart from that new dress is a must. In Schools, colleges even in Universities also this is strictly adhered to.

With a guilt free pass for not studying on the day, another pass is also provided to students that apart from their institutional celebrations, they can set up their own Puja Mandap. There comes the real fight and tremendous completion between various groups. Each group makes strategy about how to beat the other group in terms of theme of the Mandap, the decoration, quantity and variety of flowers etc. At that time we did not have these fancy LED strip lights. We used the old jhalar lights. If one of the lights got damaged, then the entire jhalar would be down. Also largely used were normal tube lights covered with various colored transparent covers to emanate the color and make things look very attractive.

The day before the Puja was the real punchy day. No sleep at night before the Puja. Olympic type completion between groups for decoration. 15 days before the Puja, Chanda collection would be in full swing. Despite scolding from the Aunties and Uncles regarding how much time would they shell out the money to various groups, we would not get deterred from our target πŸ˜‰. Try after try after try would be a continuous process until we could fleece some money! Now I can understand how annoying it would be for them being mobbed by the Bachha Party!

Enough of beating around the bush or background effect! Now let us come to the main part of the topic. At that time budget was very limited to purchase flower. Also the mentality was such that, flower is not a thing on which money could be wasted! Yes, at that time, we had lot of plants and trees which used to bloom with flowers. So, we used to target such locations from where we could grab a large chunk of flower for the Puja and decorations even if it involved significant risk!

I can clearly recollect the sleepless nights being a Task Force member to arrange (rather steal) flowers. I used to mark the locations before hand. It was not that I was marking the location alone, other groups were also doing so and the garden owners would also come up with their man-to-man markings. It was really a thrilling encounter set up.Β 

Then came the most awaited night of raid πŸ˜‰. All the gangs would be swinging into action scaling the heights of walls, parapets, fences, barbed wired barriers and what not! The guards also would be prepared. And there comes the strategic deployment of the youngest invader who would look very innocent laced with lethal power of procuring the flower by Saam Daam Dand Bhed ! Once while raiding a lucrative target, one of my friend was unfortunately bitten by the guarding Alsatian dog on prowl. Poor him, had to take the 14 painful Rabes injections.

Once I ventured into a garden with Champa Tree. I was warned that Champa tree attracts snakes that to poisonous. It was somewhere around 2:30 AM and pitch dark. I was just trying to pluck some flowers and heard a hissing sound. The retreat was epic, I would have won 100 m sprint in the Olympics leaving Usain Bolt far behindπŸ˜‰! Another story which I recollect is one of our friend had a Luna Super (Luna Karti puccaa wada, mehnat kam, majbhooti jyada! remembered something πŸ˜‰). We were riding on it. He was driving and I was the pillion rider. While crossing a highway at midnight, we were unaware of a speeding truck approaching us. The truck driver slammed the brakes hard making a screeching halt and started in Punjabi “Teri bhen ki..πŸ˜‰ Oye lounde, tanne marna hai kya, gaddi ke tale aa jata to kya honda?” But we had a nice raid on that day (I mean night πŸ˜‰),as we sieged a govt. garden! On next year attempt, we were greeted by big moustache flaunting guards and we just waved him hello and fled the place!

Once, there was a gang war. Some of our exploits were exploited by another group on prowl. Our gang went mad. We decided to take revenge. We visited their Mandap and broke one light of the jhallar blacking out the entire jhallar as it operated in series connection. (Aadat se majboor, technical terms aa hi jata hai!). After 2 to 3 iteration, we were caught in the act of sabotage and there was a huge furor about the entire incident. It got escalated up to higher authorities i.e. our parents. Both the gangs got sound drubbing from the parents, I mean from the respective parents πŸ˜‰!Β No one was doodh ka dhula so everyone got the required dhulai.

Yes, nice nostalgic childhood memories.. Things were very simple, either black or white and no gray! We used to have a grand feast at school relishing delicious dishes cooked by our teachers. I can see the small Biswa of class VI, licking porridge at mocking at this Biswa now typing the blog on a wireless keyboard. At that time financial independence was not there, neither was there any burden except for EXAM GHOST which still haunts me till date in my dreams, rather nightmares. I will write a blog on this very soon. Meera Maa and Shalini ji, I have copyrighted this theme, so please do not venture into this domain πŸ˜‰.

Now with financial burden, lot of liabilities are also there. That innocent enjoyment is not there. Yes, I can proudly say that after coming under Swamiji’s saran, I am able to feel the tingling childhood. So this is a brief account of the flower thief!

Hope, I have not bored you in this post. Thank you all for reading and Jai Shri Hari…