Friday, October 18, 2019

Kati Bihu & Some memories!!!

All the photos are from my last Kati Bihu @ home, 2014

তুলসীৰ তলে মৃগ পহু চৰে
তাকে দেখি ৰামচন্দ্ৰই শৰধনু ধৰে...

Today was Kati Bihu back home in Asm! Naturally, I am homesick and nostalgic thinking about all past Kati Bihus I got to celebrate at home! I probably took most of these opportunities for granted. Starting from Ganesh Chaturthi or Viswakarma around August and September, these ongoing 2-3 months, Indians celebrate a lot of festivities. I am an Assamese-Indian and for the community I grew up in, it was Viswakarma in Mid-September, followed by Durga Puja (that happens anywhere in September or October or even in November), then Lakshmi Puja right after, which is then followed by Kati Bihu. All these festivals impressively lead to Diwali couple of days later.

My parents did a great job in making us culturally aware. But back in those days, I used to not appreciate the cultural and social importance of each of this myriad of festivities. They all kind of seemed more religious than cultural to my young mind. There was also the fatigue from celebrating so many festivals back to back! At that age, I was very lazy regarding household chores and if I am being brutally honest, these festivals always seemed to add extra work to my list of chores! Also, there were some rituals or steps that just did not make any sense to me! My mom, always insisted on taking a bath right before we would start lighting lamps for these festivals – typically in the evenings! Even though, I might have already taken a bath that day. Because, you see, bathing means you are “pure” (as if you can wash away your sins or wrong-doings) and you can only do God’s work when you are clean and pure! The same reason is why it is against custom to partake in religious activities when you are on your “periods”; you are viewed as unholy (/not sacred) for those few days! Recently, I have been having some discussion with my friends and sister on this topic. My scientific, engineering brain knows that this attitude is discriminatory towards women and as a modern woman, I should be brave enough not to abide by these traditional, unreasoned customs! But being raised in a conservative set-up, it is still possible for me to feel a certain unease, may be even guilt when I come across a religious/cultural type of event in those days. I hesitate to participate, and immediately I am questioning my educated, progressive mind! Even in my own house, when I am on my periods, I cannot bring myself to light up my evening lamp in the thapona (prayer table) that I typically light every day. It is very strange and confusing to me! I get torn between being a modern woman and being someone who tries to love and embrace my tradition & culture, at-least the part that seems justifiable. But coming back to my previous grief about bathing twice, I used to have serious fights with my mom – “why I need to take another bath when I am already clean and have already taken a bath earlier in the day, God  (or any higher power) will value a clean heart or is he going to fuss over my bath right before lighting the lamps”. All these relatively smaller ritualistic addendums that always seems to attack and demean women, really bugged me! So much so that I could lose the sight of the cultural significance behind these festivities!

Life has completely changed now! I have grown a lot! I live alone so I am responsible for all my chores! 😊 Hence, there is absolutely no point in dreading additional chores! Also, living here in USA for the last couple of years I have had more first-hand exposure to different culture across the globe. This made me understand and realize at a deeper level how deep and rich my culture really is! In India, religion is intertwined with culture and sometimes, some religious nonsensical customs make my blood boil!!!! But, almost all these festivals have a deep and practical value & reason behind it. As I grow older, I am finding more meaning in these festivities! I am finding more appreciation for being from where I am! From where I am makes who I am!

Anyway, this tangential prelude was to say that I miss home and these few months are specifically harder because of these non-stop celebrations! Kati Bihu, however, does stand apart among all these celebrations! Like the other two Bihus (Bohag Bihu and Kati Bihu) we celebrate, this Bihu is also associated with different distinguished phases of the agricultural calendar. But unlike the other two Bihus (or any typical festivities), this is not at all flamboyant! In fact, it is celebrated in a restraint and somber manner. It is observed when the harvest saplings are planted in the field around the month of October! The granaries in an ordinary home of an ordinary farmer is empty at this time and hence there is a somberness in the environment. It is why this bihu is also known as Kangali (Poor) Bihu.

The rituals associated with this bihu is also very minimalistic in nature. The main custom we follow is to light up a main lamp underneath a Tulsi (Basil) plant in the courtyard of a typical Assamese home! Tulsi is considered as an auspicious plant in Indian culture and for this Bihu, we either plant a new plant or clean up to add a new coat of clay foundation for an existing plant. With this lamp and some food offering to God we pray for happier and healthier crops. Traditionally, there will be a few other lamps near the granary or gohali (stable for cows) at home! In the paddy fields in villages, these lamps are installed on bamboo sticks at a higher elevation than the corps. These are called “Akash Banti (Sky Lamps)". I lived in the city and we did not have any paddy fields of our own. Also because this was a short holiday, we never managed to visit my grandparents’ home to actually witness Akash Banti! When we started to live in the second floor of our house, my mom had additional Tulsi plant in ceramic pots (in addition of the main plant we have in the courtyard). We would light up these lamps for the entire month, and often the responsibility will be shared by me and my sister!

For me, this festival is about resilience and about being cautiously optimistic! As a farmer (that too in a challenging economic environment of a developing country), there is a lot of impediments that one needs to fight off to guarantee good harvest at the end of the season. So, with this Bihu, as a community we try and start with some prayer & positive vibe to gear up for the upcoming months of labor in the fields.

Because it is autumn, it gets dark soon and there is a certain nip in the air! There is a lovely smell of Xewali Phool (Night Jasmine flower) that just adds another layer to the overall solemnness in the atmosphere! And then you light these lamps underneath the plants which makes the plants look so magical; immediately your heart is filled with gratitude and hope for the future! I do miss all of it!

Happy Kati Bihu!


Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Viseart Dark Edit Eye Shadow Palette ::: Review & Shadows!!!

I am back with a detailed review of a brand new eyeshadow palette. The last time I blogged about a new ‘makeup” product (URBAN DECAY x Kristen Leanne Kaleidoscope Dream Eyeshadow Palette), was back in February of 2018. After that I took a little break from all kinds of Social Media  😊 as I had to tend to some life priorities! I have a blogpost here if you want to check out in detail why I was gone! 

After being somewhat unaware of all the happenings in the beauty world during the time of my absence, I realized that these days there are just way too many beauty launches. It is almost fatigue-inducing! Personally, going forward I will not review a whole lot of new products like I used to do 2-3 years ago! Rather I will invest in products that truly intrigues me and promises to ‘spark joy in me’! Let’s be real, I already have an exorbitant amount of makeup items. 

Viseart Dark Edit Palette is one such product that genuinely interested me! I am quite familiar with Viseart eyeshadow and the colors looked awesome! Given that Fall has started here and those gorgeous red, orange, magenta and yellow fall foliage has started to show up, this palette seems very fitting!  

This time, I tried to be a bit consize and to-the-point in my review 😊 

Price, Packaging & Availability: Viseart is an expensive brand; there is no doubt about that. The cost for this particular palette is $39 before taxes for a total of 0.42 oz. (12 gr) of product. Each shadow contains 0.035 oz. of product. For comparison their Petit Pro palette (reviewed here) contains 0.208 oz. (5.9 gr) of product for $30. So Dark Edit Palette will cost you $92.5 per oz. while the Petite Pro Palette will cost you about $144 per oz. Their original 12 pan eyshadow palettes (reviewed here & here) comes with 0.84 oz. for $80 at $95.23 per oz. So, as you can see there is a little bit of saving! Plus for someone like me who has a larger collection, smaller sized eyeshadow pans work the best. If you are just dipping your toes into Viseart shadows and you love these type of darker shades, this palette would be a good one to start with.

Packaging is just like their Petit Pro palette. It has a magnetic snap-closure with the two side a bit exposed. It is tightly close but I do wonder if over time, dust will get into the shades! It does come with a mirror unlike their regular 12 pan eyshadow palettes. Because of its tiny size, I am excited to carry this with me during my Fall travels. And the fun thing is that the pans are removable magnetic pans; you can mix and match these shadows from palette to palette.

You can find this palette on SephoraBeautylish and FrendsBeauty.  

Formula & Quality: As I previously mentioned, I love Viseart eyeshadows. Their matte shades are phenomenal! They are extremely smooth in texture and VERY pigmented. That essentially means that they can be blended on the lids very easily without much effort. Of course, depending on the shade the pigmentation and performance will somewhat vary! 

When I first bought their 12-pan Bridal Satin palette, I did not enjoy the texture of the (satin) shadows much! But I think Viseart has now improved the quality of their shimmer shades! All four of them in this palette performed as beautifully as I have expected! I only wished for SIENNA to be a tad bit lighter; I could have used it as my crease shade. In all three looks, I had to use one additional crease shade from Makeup Geek. If you have darker skintone than mine, I think you can use one of the matte shades as the crease shade but if you are lighter than me, I am afraid you will need to get an additional lighter crease shade to fiish off your looks. But I am not really complaining here - the name of the palette is Dark Edit so I will be foolish to demand lighter shades  😊.

Here are the shades: 
TOFFEE: Personally, for me it would have been more useful if this was a tad lighter. I still love it and find great use for it. Beautiful shade with great smoothness and buttery texture.
SIENNA: Another quality matte shade. No matter what is your skintone is, this will offer you lot of use and versatility.
SEPIA: Another gorgeous shade. It is quite close to SIENNA but I do still enjoy the shade! I can control the shade to show up more vibrantly or just as a lighter shade.
PERSIMMON: Ah... this is definitely my most favorite shade. Very orange, very bold, very vibrant! Everything that I love in a eyeshadow! Very pimented so while using it, start with a light hand. 
OLIVE: It is a very pale shade, but I actually love it for wearing to work. It is subtle but very elegant. It is, however, a little weak in pigmentation. I needed 2-3 coats for it to show up vibrantly on my lid in the 3rd look.
BEAUJOLAIS: On the palette, this shade looks so different than the next shade, LAVENDER! It looks much deeper and less vibrant. On the swatch or on the eyes however, the difference is less pronounced. Both are gorgeous shades though!
LAVENDER: This shade looks very vibrant on the palette. But on the lid, it does not transform that vibrantly. It is still is beautiful! Very smooth and buttery!

FORET: Absolutely beautiful shade! Very pigmented! It is a perfect mix between purple and navy! Such a buttery smooth matte shade. Very rich! It is not common to have this deep of a shade in such a beautiful buttery smooth texture. Of course, one of my favorite shades in this palette.

TOFFEE, SEPIA on the crease; SIENNA on the outer crease, FORET on the very outer crease. 
Very little of LAVENDER and BEAUJOLAIS on the crease; very little. CALYPSO on the entire lid. 
Calypso on the inner corner of the lower lash-line and FORET on the entire lower lash-line.
Heavy handed application of PERSIMMON on the crease. 
Light handed application of SIENNA on the inner and outer corner of the lid. 
BURNISHED COPPER on the entire lid applied with a brush. 
BULLION applied with fingertip on the very center of the lid! A little bit of Sepia on the lower lash-line.
TOFFEE on the crease, SEPIA to deepen the crease. OLIVE on the lid applied with a brush. 
I had to apply 2-3 layers to get it to show up more vibrantly. 
SIENNA on the lower lash-line topped with ABSINTHE in the inner lower lash line.

BULLION: Very pigmented! This shade has minuscule glitter - it looks so pretty! I used it in the 2nd look - just a little tap with my fingertip at the center of the lid! And it took the entire look to a new level. 

BURNISHED COPPER: This kind of copper shade is one of my very favorite type of shades to play with! It really compliments my skintone and immediately makes me look and feel glamorous. Very pigmented as well. 

CALYPSO: This is also a very pigmented shiny shimmery shade.  I abosultely enjoy this shade. It’s a fuschia/pink, a bit too girly for my taste but I am quite surprized to realize how much I enjoyed wearing it. 

ABSINTHE: Among all the shimmery shades, this has the least pigmentation. I had to put a little bit of effort to work with this one;  nothing major, just in comparison with the other three shades. 

First look after 9 hrs of wear!
All my Viseart Palettes for comparison!
Here are my other Viseart palettes for comparison. While the colors are not exactly duplicates but there are some resemblance! 

Overall, I am enjoying playing with this palette :-)