Deepavali or Diwali is upon us already, so wishing everyone wonderful never ending prosperity and happiness. This favorite festival of lights is celebrated across the globe now, with many nations offering official holildays for it. A couple of recent news articles also noted the increasing number of school districts in the US declaring Diwali as a school holiday (including NYC starting 2023)!
With Diwali still on my mind, I wanted to feature a poetic form from India this week. Also, many states in the US observe Hindu Heritage Month during October (given that many major festivals fall within the months of October/November annually).
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Poetic Sundays: The Never Ending Abhang
Today’s poetic form is the abhang from the state of Maharashtra, India. The word abhang comes from a for a- meaning ‘non-‘ and bhang for ‘ending’ or ‘interrupting.’ In other words, unending, continuous, flow of words, lending to beautiful melodies and rhythms.
I love this form for its simplicity and beauty; and came upon it because of the beautiful abhangs I have heard over the years. As a poetic form, it allows a lot of freedom to the poet and yet has just enough rules to keep us on our creative toes.
What is the Abhang Poetic Form?
The abhang is a stanzaic form of devotional poetry, most often sung in praise of the Hindu god Vitthala. It is a popular form in the Marathi language, and rose in popularity between the 13th and 17th centuries. At once complex and classic, simple and beautiful, this form lends itself to song easily. Abhangs are sung during the pilgrimage to the Vitthala temple in the town of Pandharipur and thus are written to be more exuberant, communal, and flowing.
A very flexible form in nature, this is very often written as a quatrain, with lines containing between three to six syllables depending on the version. Sometimes, the abhang is written as a rhyming couplet, and syllables vary between six to 12 in each line. The abhang has a simple rhyme scheme with a couple of variations.
The Abhang’s Characteristics
So the abhang’s elements are that it is:
- stanzaic: can either be quatrains (four line stanzas) or couplets (two line stanzas). The length of the poem itself is left to the poet, so it can be just one stanza or many.
- syllabic: the quatrains have two versions: the first has a syllabic pattern of 6/6/6/4 syllables across the four lines while the second has a syllabic pattern of 4/4/4/3. The couplet has a syllabic pattern of 6 to 12 syllables in each line (generally similar number of syllables across both lines of the couplet and throughout the poem – anywhere between 6 to 12)
- rhymed: the quatrains follow a rhyme scheme of abbc while the couplets rhyme (aa/bb/cc)
- titled (and often has the poet’s name in the last line of each stanza, though this is not required)
- most often used in devotional poetry; but can be used effectively for other themes too
- sung; many traditional abhangs are written in the Marathi language, and they are a joyous treat to listen
h/t and further reading
My Attempt at the Abhang (Mine is Not Really Never Ending, but …)
I See a Smile Happen
By the glow of the lamp,
Your face lights up with glee;
A smile waits to be free…
…..and, there it is!
Note:While the abhang is never ending in a different sense of the word, a smile is never ending in its own way, for it does set off a chain of smiles as we pass it further along, right?
As you can see, I picked the quatrain with 6/6/6/4 syllabic count and abbc rhyme scheme.
On My Blog
Played catch up again but here is one post for each day as planned
- Sunday Scribblings #119: Terrific Wordplay That Teases My Ears and Eases My Tears
- Nine Teen Reads For Everyone to Love
- Beautiful Words Related to Light
- Toads and Diamonds: Wonderful Storied Connections Around the World
- Thirteen Reasons Why I Write
- Five For Friday: Fascinating Facts About Diwali & More
- Diwali: Then Now and Later
And the Homefront
Definitely all about Diwali on the homefront as I tried to prepare a couple of snacks and sweets. We will be meeting up with friends for a Diwali lunch and it is always a wonderful time of never ending fun filled with conversations and delicious food.
We went to drop off our teen and other scouts from her troop for an overnight campout on Saturday at a local county park (about 45 minutes drive). Uvas Canyon County Park has been on my must-visit and hike list since forever now, and finally this weekend gave us an opportunity to do so. It is beautiful, and I am sure it will be even prettier in spring, or after rains (if the rain-god decides to show us some love here in the Bay Area). Here are a few glimpses from our short hour-long hike there.
On My Blog and On the Homefront
More blogging, and next up, shifting gears to plan for Halloween and Thanksgiving!
Literary Celebrations (close-to-it also!)
- Literary birthdays this week include: Amor Towles, Mark Tully, Stephen Covey, Bob Kane, and Emma Donoghue on Oct 24th; Anne Tyler on the 25th of Oct; Pat Conroy and Vishwas Mudagal on Oct 26th; Jonathan Stroud, Sylvia Plath, and Zadie Smith on the 27th; Anne Perry, Ayad Akhtar on Oct 28th; Lee Child on the 29th of Oct; Ezra Pound on Oct 30th
- The 27th is World Day for Audiovisual Heritage
- International Animation Day is on the 28th
- It is International Internet Day on the 29th of October. It was on this date in 1969 that the first remote connection (or the internet) was first achieved between two computers!
- The 24th is simply – National Food Day
- October 25th is National Pumpkin Day as well as World Pasta Day
- We have National Chocolate Day on the 28th of October.
- While the 29th is National Oatmeal Day
- And the 30th observes National Candy Corn Day
Other Celebrations and Observations
- United Nations Day is on the 24th of October
- Of course, it is Diwali time too!
Wrapped Up: My Never Ending (!) Sunday Scribblings
So dear reader, you have reached the end of this Sunday Scribblings! As always, I welcome your thoughts, comments, and suggestions about this post. Will you be attempting to write the never ending abhang? And, of course, do let me know if you plan to celebrate any of these mentioned celebrations this coming week/month?