A family is a unit of people formed naturally by brothers and sisters of the same parents. A family can be extended by adding uncles and aunts (Kaka, Fui, Mama, Masi) with their offspring. Thus, a family comprises the people who love and support the members in good and bad times.
We tried to meet for two days and one night thinking it would be enough time - neither too short nor dragged. Yes, we were happy and enjoyed ourselves all the while.
To finalise the venue, we initially Anaval Shukleshwar Dham and Saidham, Majigam. The cleanliness and furnishing of the rooms, the interiors, and the area outside at Saidham appealed to us. We just booked the rooms and started searching for the caterer. Maheshbhai Raval, chairman of the Saidham suggested Umesh from Gandevi. We finalised the menu with the timetable and ordered it accordingly. We invited all the members to confirm their presence and all replied accordingly.
For reasons unknown to us, our bond of family was not strong enough and emotional attachment was appearing weak. But to our pleasant surprise, we were found wrong. In two days, togetherness melts all the ice of wrong prejudices and misbeliefs.
Get set and go!
On Sunday morning, nearly all gathered at the venue before 10:00. They had a long journey of 390 km from Pune, 350 km from Ahmedabad, and 200 km from Mumbai to reach the venue.
We thought we would play, chat, eat, and enjoy all the available time. To our pleasure, the same could be done! Our family comprises the elderly averaging mid-60s, the young generation at 40s and children around 5-10 years of age. The youngest being at 5 and the eldest at 76! All of them mixed together to play the games like cricket, saat thikari (સાત ઠીંકરી), badminton, housie, musical chair, pass-the-ball game. I will say - 'seeing is believing'! Because the words can not describe the details and experience. During the game of cricket, a lady at 70 was running fast to take the runs! Everybody wanted to win the housie game. So not getting the required numbers and desired result was making them unhappy, even angry and very chirpy. It got loud in the calm late night in the temple campus. But that only reenergised everyone to play for longer.
While playing saat thikari, cracking down the seven stones piled up and then getting the members of the opposite team out was never easy. All were excited and enjoying. Same with the musical chair and pass-the-ball games! The challenging games brought out the competitive spirit in all.
Food: The arranged meals such that at regular two hours' intervals some food was served. Breakfasts, three Gujarati Thalis, and a non-stop serving of tea-coffee made the show. The menu was of Anavil taste including walnut halva (અખરોટનો હલવો), shrikhand (શ્રીખંડ), and jalebi (જલેબી) as sweets; Jalaram sev-khaman (સેવ ખમણ), upama (ઉપમા), undhiyu (ઉંધીયું), banana-methi pakoda (કેળા-મેથીના પકોડા), batata-vada (બટાકા વડા) as farsaan (ફરસાણ) with two vegetables and rice-daal to complete the menu. All loved moong shaak (મગનું શાક) and hot fried puris (પુરી) for the breakfast on the last morning. The concluding event was high tea! Tea-coffee with biscuits and home-made chocolates Vaishali had prepared.
We had a nice jogging track of about a kilometre to walk around the pond full of greenery with lotus flowers all around. Most of us went for a walk there with ones' own group and enjoyed the sunrise and/or sunset as a bonus! Only lucky people get a chance of long walks in nature these days.
The meeting - getting together - is itself a great pleasure. Just imagine a family gathering without any agenda and just with the desire to be with one another.
We could realise that being together itself creates great emotions of love, respect and brotherhood. Just talking without subject and making a presence at the sight gives a sense of well-being, happiness and satisfaction.
At the end of the day, we have learnt to keep meeting again and again. Our craving to be together again at the earliest has begun!
--Map directions to Sai Dham, Majigam