Simple joys with the Sinhas

Poonam Sinha shares with Nichola Pais the special connect that her husband Shatrughan and family share with the Ramayan.

Diwali is definitely a very, very important festival for every family in India. It’s one festival where everybody bonds strongly, there’s a lot of love and bonhomie spread within the family. It’s very special for us because our home is called Ramayan, which is the book based on Lord Rama’s life. And to top it all, my brothers-in-law and my husband are called Ram, Bharat, Laxman and Shatrughan. Now this comes from a sacrifice, so to speak, and the love for Lord Rama which my family, my mother-in-law and father-in-law, believed in – the Ram Ramapati Bank.

This is how people would pray if they wanted their wishes fulfilled. It requires a lot of abstinence, avoidance of garlic and non-veg, a pious mind and the writing down of the name of Lord Rama a certain number of times a day, for instance, one lakh fifteen… My parents-in-law did it because they didn’t have children so they went to this bank in Benares which is Varanasi now, and did this and that’s how the four sons came about.

That’s why my husband too is very attached to this whole belief, which he firmly believes in. And so we decided to call our house Ramayan.

Yes, our sons are also named after Lord Rama’s offspring. We had no choice! They are twins and the day they were born, right from Manoj Kumar to everybody rang up and said, ‘Oh, Luv-Kush aa gaye Ramayan mein!’ We went along with the names Luv and Kush but according to their Janam Patri, their names are Himanshu and Himachal respectively. The only thing is I am not Sita, I’m the present day Poonam (laughs).

Our Diwali celebrations have stayed the same over the years. The Panditji comes, we do the pooja, and our house is like an open house – friends walk in, mithai is exchanged, people come over and sit and chat. It’s like a real happy day, a happy time. I do a special pooja which lasts nearly all night, to pray for the wellbeing of the family. Everybody has their own way of celebrating but we don’t really attend all the card parties because we like to be at home with the children; it’s a better way of spending Diwali.

At our home Diwali lunch is definitely special.

The food has to be vegetarian and we try to come up with something new. I try to cook up something different every time, which is tasty and liked by everyone. I’m fond of cooking and I like to experiment with different things, have everybody enjoy the food. But there is no over-the-top celebration at our place. Nothing is done to show off. It’s just family, it’s home. I do invite my whole family, my side, my husband’s side, the friends who are very, very close, we all get together at my place. Everybody is happy and enjoys the day with us and we enjoy the day with all of them because in our busy lives it’s so difficult to meet with everyone very often.

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