This coming week brings with it one of my favorite festivals; one filled with memories from the past and with tremendous capacities to fill up future memory treasure chests! It is Navratri, and more specifically the keeping of the Golu. While I will mention more about it briefly later in the post, I have talked about the wonderful Navratri golu many times on my blog – here and here. Today, keeping the Navratri celebrations in mind, I am exploring the Doha poetic form. Both the Navratri festival and the Doha share a connection as you will soon see.
Poetic Sundays: The Doha Poetic Form
Kabir Das and the Doha
I recall being fascinated by the poetic genius and awed by the wisdom of Sant Kabir as a young girl when I first read his dohas in my Hindi class. Sant here is a honorific meaning saint. Kabir (also Kabir Das) lived in the 15th century in the city of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh (a state in northern India). He was truly ahead of his times in so many ways, a visionary, a poet, and a saint. You can read more about Kabir Das here.
Anyways, the reason I talked about Kabir Das is because his dohe (plural for the doha) remain fresh in my memory decades after I learned them, and the wisdom in those words is timeless. In addition, I love the simplicity and the straightforwardness of the form, which is why I chose to feature this form today. The other reason, of course, is the connection between this form and the festival. I talk about it below.
Navratri and the Doha: The Rama Connection (See Note)
Another famous Indian saint and poet, Tulsidas, wrote the Ramcharitamanas, which literally means “Lake of the deeds of Rama.” Around the 16th century, the Ramayana (the story of Rama) was mostly written in languages not accessible to the general public. Tulsidas wanted to make it accessible to all, and hence wrote the Ramcharitamanas in the layman’s language. This work is primarily composed of four-line quatrains separated by the Doha.
So well, the story of Rama or Rama himself is the connection between the festival and the form. In addition to celebrating and venerating the divine feminine, the goddess in all her forms, the festival also recognizes the victory of good over evil, of King Rama over Ravana, the king of Lanka.
Note that this connection is my own reasoning for featuring the doha this week.
The doha does not play any specific role during the festival though the Ramcharitamanas is part of many performances relating the tale of King Rama during this celebration.
The Doha poetic form is a self-contained rhyming couplet. In Hindi, each line is made up of 24 instants (Matras), and is divided into two parts of 13 instants in the first part and 11 in the second. The easiest way to extend this into the English language is by simply using syllabic count for the number of instants (matras).
So the Doha poetic form’s elements are that at its most basic, it is:
- stanzaic: a couplet at minimum (two-lined poem); can have many more couplets, each one complete in itself but can be part of a longer narrative.
- syllabic: 24 syllables for each line, divided into two phrases of 13 and 11 syllables each
- rhymed: has a rhyme scheme of aa (additional couplets will have rhyme schemes of bb , cc, and so on)
- the etcs: it is often proverbial, and also used to express devotion. It can stand by itself or be part of a longer narrative.
A sortha, an inverted doha, transposes the two parts of the line.
My Navratri Golu
All the things we’ve to do, everything can wait a while, just hit pause and take a moment to enjoy.
Since you’re relaxed dear friend, look at this golu display, with clay dolls old and new, some favorite toys.
Up there is the popular Dasha Avatar set, down here the Aesop’s tale set hand-made by me.
From my mom per tradition came the Marapachi, while dear mom-in-law gave me her Meenakshi.
~Vidya Tiru @LadyInReadWrites
Note: My Doha is not proverbial or devotional but rather telling the tale of my Navratri Golu display.
References and h/t:
- Doha (Wikipedia page)
- Check out some more couplets of Kabir Das with English translations here at Shivpreet Singh’s blog. I discovered this local (to the San Francisco Bay Area) multi-talented artist’s blog (and him) very recently.
On My Blog And the Homefront
Getting in the right spirit – mentally and physically – for the Navratri festival coming this week! Well, not much else happened this past week on the homefront. We did meet up with friends after a long time and talked long into the evening (almost the next day) with them; it was wonderful!
So here are the posts since (and including) my last scribblings….
On My Blog and Home Front
The Navratri Golu
As I mentioned last week and earlier in today’s post, this week brings with it the multi-day festival of Navratri (literally meaning nine nights) that ends with the tenth day of Vijaya Dasami (vijaya meaning victory, and dasami referring to the tenth day). So you will likely see posts here or on social media around that, or I might become media-silent as I get occupied with the festivities. But I do hope to post some regular stuff too, at least one something else, and one Navratri related.
I will be keeping the golu: display of dolls over the next couple of days and share pictures and more with you here.
Another thing I am looking forward to is the Cybils Awards. For now, it is time to nominate your favorite books for this wonderful awards. Nominations are open to the public so go ahead and nominate your favorite children’s books – from board books to YA (non-fiction, fiction, poetry, graphic-novels) – here – from now till October 15th..
This Week’s Celebrations
Literary Celebrations (close-to-it also!)
- Oct 5th is World Teachers’ Day
- National Mad Hatter Day as well as Random Acts of Poetry Day are celebrated on October 6th.
- October 7th is National Poetry Day in the UK and Ireland – First Thursday in October
- Mystery Series Week – First Full Week of October
- International Post Card Week – First Full Week
- National Newspaper Week – Begins First Sunday
- October also happens to be National Book Month though I celebrate books everyday!! It is also Celebrating The Bilingual Child Month
- Literary birthdays this week: Anne Rice and Jackie Collins on the 4th of October; Rupi Kaur on Oct 5th; Anita Shreve, Sherman Alexie on Oct 6th; R.L. Stine and Frank Herbert (of Dune fame!) on Oct 8th; and Nora Roberts on the 10th of October
- National Cinnamon Bun Day and National Taco Day are on the 4th of October
- October 6th is National Noodle Day while the 7th is National Chocolate Covered Pretzel Day
- Followed by National Fluffernutter Day and National Pierogi Day on the 8th of October
- Oct 10th is World Porridge Day
- Oct 4th is World Animal Day, World Habitat Day and World Architect Day
- The 5th is National Get Funky Day and National Do Something Nice Day
- Oct 7th is International Day of Non-Violence
- World Octopus Day is on the 8th of October
- October 9th is World Post Day, National Leif Erikson Day, as well as World Migratory Bird Day (which is celebrated annually on the Second Saturday in May and Second Saturday in October)
- World Mental Health Day and World Homeless Day are observed on Oct 10th
- As mentioned earlier, October 6th – 14th is the Indian festival of Navratri.
- World Space Week – October 4-10
Related Books and Reads
Suggestions related to various aspects of today’s blog
- 9 Great Books for the Indian festival of Navratri
- Sunday Scribblings #47: Epic – Awesome and Awesomely Long Poems
- Celebrate World Space Week with These Out of the World Reads
- Explore What Peace Means to You in ‘Peace and Me’: Book Review
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Wrapping up my Sunday Scribblings
So dear reader, this was it for this post. As always, appreciate and totally welcome your thoughts, comments, and suggestions on these scribblings on Sunday! And which of these days in this wonderful week do you plan to celebrate?