by Vaman Acharya
(Bengaluru, Karntaka, India)
The distinguished guests, who were invited for the wedding reception, were gossiping each other about the way in which it was arranged. It was a mismanaged function. The host was a VIP of the town. Most of the guests had to return home with empty stomach.
Among the guests, Anurag and his wife Anupama participated in the function along with their 10 year old daughter Apoorva. They too returned home with empty stomach.
"What is this dad? Your friend invited us to attend the function without making proper arrangement," asked Apoorva disappointedly.
"Yes! Apoorva, I am also surprised to see the situation," Anurag agreed with his daughter.
"Is it not an insult to the host?" asked Anupama.
Apoorva took the incident very seriously. An idea was flashed to her mind and revealed it to her mom.
"Mom, my birth day is on the 20th of next month. The day being a Sunday, I would like to invite my friends on the occasion."
"Go ahead. But before taking a decision, ask your dad and seek his permission."
She went to her dad, who was busy in some work.
"Dad, I have some urgent work with you."
"What do you want Apoorva?"
"Dad, you know my birth day is on the 20th of coming month. I wish to invite all my friends for the occasion."
"Good idea. You still have 30 days time to prepare a plan."
"Thank you very much dad."
She had a bitter experience in wedding reception. She wanted to arrange her birth day party in a befitting manner. Just one week before the function, she told her parents the details of the plan. They were satisfied with the plan with minor changes. She took the first job of preparation of invitation cards. While making these cards, she kept four things in her mind like money saving, beautifully hand written, birthday shapes and a single line effective invitation.
When the first card was ready, she showed it to her parents. After getting their approval, she prepared herself about 15 cards and went personally to deliver them. She had selected 10 little guests of the locality.
One day before the function, she took up all the arrangements of table to seat 11 including the host, nice table cloth, flowers, keep dishes neatly. Sufficient napkins were also kept.
She had told the friends to be ready by 6 p.m. for the cutting of the birth day cake.
All the 10 little friends were present at the time given. Apporva well dressed for her party, was waiting on the main door to receive the guests. Everybody entered and occupied their seats reserved for them. Apoorva gave a brief welcome speech. The birth day cake was cut in the company of her friends and parents. Thereafter, she announced to engage some time in games, solving puzzles, songs and dance. Instant prizes were distributed to the winners. All the participants enjoyed a lot in these activities. Sumptuous food items were kept on the table.
Before serving the food, Apoorva requested her guests to stand up and recite the sloka by closing their eyes -"Annapurne sada purne
jnan vairagya sidyartham
bhikshan dehi cha Parvati."
Her friends obeyed promptly. The little girls had closed their eyes and recited the sloka with full devotion. Then Apoorva turned to them and asked with a smile, "Do you know what is the meaning of this sloka?"
For few moments, no one answered, and then she was about to explain the meaning. By then one of the little girls, smallest in the group, said, "I know the meaning. Even we do sing this sloka at home, and my father has explained to me the meaning of it."
Every one looked at Anjana in surprise, as she said -
"O Godess Annapurna (meaning full of food), always complete, dear to the heart of Lord Shankar, I beg you for getting Knowledge and Renunciation. Replete with food, perfect at all times, beloved charmer of Shankara's life, O Paravati, give me alms for fulfillment of knowledge and detachment."
When the guests commenced eating food, she told them to have food without rushing it. The food was prepared by an experienced cook. It was already 8 p.m. The little guests expressed their desire to take leave of her. While leaving, the guests had presented a Birthday gift to Apoorva. In return, Apoorva gave a beautiful gift bag containing fancy memorable things.
Anurag and Anupama were silently watching the function with great satisfaction and happiness. They never interfered in their activities.
The news of Apoorva's Birth day party spread like wild fire in their small town. End