Heyrath! - Miami Style!

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Heyrath! - Miami Style!
Miami, Florida (USA) March 19 &20th, 2011

Report by Renuka Kaul
Heyrath Mubarak!

ahaShivratri is a very important festival for Kashmiri Pandits and is celebrated with lots of devotion by Kashmiris all over the world. In our neck of the woods, the Floridian KP community has been celebrating this auspicious festival with lots of love and togetherness for the last so many years. It is this tradition of celebrating festivals like this as a family that strengthens our bonds to our culture, our religion and our roots.

Last few months have been very turbulent for our Kashmiri community as we have grieved together at the loss of some of our dearest family members but we cannot forget the joys of welcoming new additions in our families also! So this auspicious occasion of Shivratri was an opportunity for the whole community to seek blessings for peace and prosperity from Lord Shiva- one who represents the eternal process of creation as well as destruction, and welcome new beginnings!

This year Shivratri celebrations were done like never before! A two-day camping trip was organized (with special thanks to Vikasji Labroo) at the Quiet Rivers Park in Deerfield Beach, Florida, on March 19th and 20th, 2011. It was quite a spectacle to see all the Kashmiri families arriving on the park grounds with their bags and baggage. The evening started with a round of snacks and drinks. All the kids as well as the adults were equally excited about this adventure and were all busy “setting-up” the tents with sleeping bags and other essentials. Some of these tents were by the lakeside and looked similar to the little houseboats and the wooden settlements by the lakeside back home.

As everyone settled down, soon the air was filled with the aromas of kashmiri cuisine. Yes, we “Battas” had done it again! Here we were on an exciting and adventurous camping trip (yes, it was a first one for most of us!) miles away from home yet we made sure we had all goods for our sustenance with us at all times!! After a scrumptious meal of mouth-watering delicacies like dumaloo, chok wangun, chaman, roghanjosh, mutsch, mujchatin and so much more, we proceeded to the next phase of the evening.

What followed was an enchanted cultural evening under the stars presented by the kids who wanted to do their contribution to the celebration. One by one the kids cast a magic spell on everybody with their melodious Shiva bhajans, Lingashtakam, Indrakshipath and presentations about Shivratri. As the audience enjoyed the melodious notes of the bhajan on the recorder and the piano recital, the adults got excited and joined in by singing a few bhajans on their own. The whole atmosphere was magical, with a bon-fire in the middle, kids around it toasting marshmallows and making s’mores and the adults enjoying the night with a game of antakshari that went on till late!

The next morning brought with it even more promising and exciting activities scheduled for the day starting with a refreshing yoga session for the ladies. Well, the gentlemen were already busy watching the cricket match between India and Australia and the kids were enjoying different board games and just relaxing together. There was so much to do and so little time! So after a hearty breakfast the kids went for some fun in sun and sand at the water park nearby and others did a variety of activities like cycling, jogging or just walking and sightseeing! There was also a cricket match being played by the cricket fans on one side. In short, with so much fun, food and barbeque, everyone was trying to soak-up every moment of this wonderful outdoor adventure! After lunch there was yet another round of cultural fun and dance by the kids. Soon it was time to call it a day so the festivities were brought officially to an end when Bhabhi- the eldest mother in the community, distributed ‘Heyrath Kharch’ to the kids and ‘Noon’ and ‘athgat’ to the ladies as ‘Zang’.

Would like to congratulate all the community members who made this year’s celebration a memorable experience by exhibiting exceptional teamwork! It is this bond of mutual respect and love that strengthens our faith in our values and traditions even more. May Lord Shiva bless us all with happiness, peace and prosperity!

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Amazing Images. Happy Faces!
Added By Sanjeev Tickoo
Love our Florida Kashmiri Group. Everybody is happy.What a lively group.
Added By Chandra Ganju
Happy to see everybody smiling and having fun.
Added By Tej Shawl