Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 1, Issue 30, Tuesday December 23, 2003







Joys of Christmas-

As I just stuck my first batch of cakes into the oven, I suddenly felt a tinge of sadness and warmth at the same time, reminiscing my childhood days every year during Christmas.

It was the best time of the year for me while I was growing up amidst my parents and four older siblings. Regardless of all the day to day worries and work, December was the most joyous month for all Christians around the world. The aroma of freshly baked cakes wafting across the rooms, Christmas carols being played out loud in the stereo, and the house decorated with colourful tinsel and jingling bells are the things that would just dress the season up into its festive mode and brighten up any child's life.

Ma always used to take it as her special task to make all kinds of pithas every Christmas. Many of you may wonder, pithas…. ? Now where did that come from? In our culture, that's what really goes in winter.

So it's not only different kinds of cakes that mark this special occasion, but also different kinds of pithas that adorn the table. You see, many think that Christians in Bangladesh probably follow the dominating Western culture and follow whatever they do even during Christmas. What many of us don't know is that the Bangalee Christians have embraced Christianity into their lives and molded the religious rituals according to our own culture. Having pithas for instance, is such an example.

So, as I was saying, my mother used to make ten different kinds of pithas on top of her special Christmas cakes. So you can easily imagine, one would have to have a really sweet tooth to enjoy these special treats on such occasions.

Now who wouldn't enjoy a lovely hot Patishapta fresh from the hot pan wrapped in milky white rice flour, stuffed with creamy white coconut and milk filling…. Mmmmm…. Just picturing it would make a sweet-lover's mind go crazy! I have to have one now! And what about those crispy hot nimkis with just a dash of nigella and salt to soothe the sweet tongue from having too many of those yummy fruit cakes! How can I forget mom's cold platter, filled with her special hunter beef and winter salad?

One must wonder how one prepares for all these just for one day. Well, the preparation of course doesn't take place overnight. The main event being on the 25th, most households begin their preparations from the 20th. Starting from decorating the house with lovely colourful tinsel, decorating the Christmas tree in the living room, putting up a Nativity sets, and welcoming all the carollers in the house singing Christmas carols out loud with their dhols and mandiras. Question again? Dhols and Mandiras? Yep. That's the Bengali version of Christmas carols, which are known as Kirtan.

Of course, these special kirtans are Bangla hymns that all the boys and girls know by heart and sing out loud every December 25th. They go from one house to another to sing these songs in celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Many of these carollers start after the midnight mass on Christmas Eve, the 24th night. This is more visible in semi-rural villages in mainly Christian localities more than in the cities.

The cities these days have taken on a very festive mood, the shopping centres in particular with their adornment of bright lights at every shopping mall one can imagine. Coupled with the imminent new dawn to a New Year, Christmas has always been intertwined with this inescapable event that hardly escaped the eyes of various shop owners in the city.

Lately even more so, as we have also seen it being close to celebration of Eid either just round the corner or just been observed not many moons ago. A number of shops are always very attuned to different festivities, be it religious or cultural; you will always notice their windows being decorated just with the right festoons, along with their own fancy merchandise just staring at any passers-by.

Tempting indeed, even if you try to think money-wise, often it is difficult for any stern believer of festivities to indulge in a little fancy something. These little temptations, however, easily transpire into a warranted act, when you have children in the house with mountain-high hopes that so vividly show through their gleaming eyes awaiting some kind of surprise from their good folks.

I see a similar joy in my daughter's eyes just seeing our house decorated with all the Christmas decorations and the Christmas tree. Hearing her sing along to the carols I play on CD just lifts up my heart. It reminds me of my own love for Christmas as a child when I used to take part in all the work with my mom, dad and siblings - starting from mixing the dough to putting up the last tinsel on the ceiling.

Enjoying the company of my friends and family on Christmas day at our house, sharing gifts, cakes and surprises, singing the carols and hymns at the church choir seem like only yesterday where I as a child cherished and adored. Even to this day, I cannot erase a single memory that surrounded this joyous and significant event in my life, an event that I still share and indulge in every year, will always remain one of the greatest celebrations in my life.

A true moment where I can forget all the worries in this world and thank God for such a day, and helping me celebrate it to my heart's delight. A day that marks the difference in my life every year and makes me want to shout: Merry Christmas everyone, and a Happy New Year!

By L. Bridget

Reader's Chit

Working out the exercise vice

Probably the biggest obstacle that one faces after an initial work plan is the simple motivation to keep this practice going. Everybody is aware of the physical and psychological benefits that exercises bring and this consciousness drives us to commence working out. After this inaugural kick off, however, the most common problem that one faces with this exercise gig is the struggle to stick with it. It is common to see people quitting exercise just few days after the start for apparently no specific reason. According to fitness experts this is a common problem as almost everybody who begins working out eventually encounters this situation. However, there are ways through which one can overcome this natural torpor and actually start enjoying excising year in and year out.

The first and the foremost task that one must do in order to stick with the workout program is to choose something that suits the lifestyle of the participant. It is often that we see many exercise beginners make many changes at once, which eventually becomes hectic and very hard to maintain as the plans fail to be a integral part of the participants daily life. A workout plan that suits one's personality enables the participant to remain motivated, as she/he feels comfortable with the plans and this incorporation of health program that fits one's lifestyle makes it more easy for the participant to adopt it and maintain it regularly as planned.

When it comes to working out it is always wise to start with a willpower-booster plan rather than biceps one. Once the right fitness program has been selected, psychological strength is required to keep the work at a steady pace. Whatever the reason behind the exercise is, whether to lose weight or just to stay fit, it is the willpower, determination and self-discipline that mobilise the actual success in working out efforts. Procrastination is one common reason why many people fail to stick to the workout plans. The story is always the same: after few days of enthusiastic effort they start to sit on their backs instead of working out and uttering promises to themselves that from tomorrow nothing would stop them from working out once again. Alas! These tomorrows never come. These weaknesses keep a person in that very miserable state from which she/he wanted relief. These excuses and hesitation would have to be fought back even before they pop up in mind. As a remedy for that it is suggested that one exercise in flexible schedule as well as in a place that do not provides any scope for absurd excuses. Playing music is inspirational in this case as research have found out that listening to music while working out makes exercise seem easier. Working out with friends can also reduce boredom. Every time one uses her/his willpower it makes it easier for that person to stick to the exercise which eventually develops a praiseworthy power to choose one's own course of action.

Another reason why many people feel less enthusiastic about getting up and working out is due to the experience of physical discomforts that are the initial results of exercising. It is likely that after the first few work out lessons the body muscles will crumble as exercising do not instantly make one feel energetic. When this lapse comes it is advised not to collapse from working out at all. Of course serious body injuries from exercise do require specialists' advice. The point is, any one who has been loafing for years, moving energetically for even 30 minutes is a major change, which might cause body to ache and twinge. This does not have to be followed by quitting the exercise. In fact it is suggested that despite the body aches it is better to continue with the workouts in order to get habituated with the fitness programs as well as to ease the pain. These early physical discomforts may arise from "no pain, no gain approaches". These types of fitness fantasies might have a negative impact. It is essential that one must soothe her/his health score exactly in accordance to their own physical pace and ability. There are some beginners who get depressed, as they tend to look out for early benefits. The key objectives for working out should be to look better, stay healthy and to work out a body that is perfectly shaped. As a result it is wise to keep exercising for overall benefits instead of pumping up biceps hours after hour.

It may be troublesome; it may be hectic, yet excising has its rewards. It provides a opportunity to develop one's health and powers the soul and prizes a positive attitude and approach towards life. These situations leave us with two choices, the easy way out and do the right thing. It is up to us to pick the right one.

By Obaidur Rahman


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