Wednesday, September 27

Navratri- time to reminisce

It is the Dusshera time, a time filled with fond memories. I belong to the category of people who go down their memory lanes much too often, and Navratri definitely stirs in me a smile.
Back in high school at this time of the year, we used to get about 10 days of break soon after our exams. Almost every house in the neighbourhood would be adorned with figurines of gods, goddesses and other favourite clay dolls in a step-like arrangement (odd number of steps), known as the "Golu". Although we did not have golus that often at our place but we did do something unfamiliar to many, "laksharchnai"- basically you recite a prayer/shloka/praise the Lord, a total of 1,00,000 times over the course of this 10-day festival. My grandma used to lead the way (obviously she was the one who knew the mantras), my sister and me used to follow her. My mom would join us once in a while (she has to make the prasad and entertain the guests).
The routine for those days would be something like this- get up early in the morning, shower and get the pooja hall ready. Once everything is ready we would start the archana which will typically go on till lunch (we repeat the same thing in the evening). Neighbours and relatives are invited to visit your golu. So evenings would be time for socializing and showing off your skills.
Anyway the point of this post is not to narrate what happens during Dusshera.
Going through it all once again in my memory I realize that we (my sister and me) used to feel so grown up. It was a big deal as kids to sit through chanting mantras for over 4 hours a day. And we were also given responsibilites of decorating the pooja area (we did not exactly have a room!), making rangolis (my sister is just too good at it) and things like that.
Now, so far away from home, as a graduate student, I did not even realize it was navratri until I got a flyer from my music school for vijayadasami pooja (well I really cannot blame it on grad school, can I?). Back at home, there is no grandiosity either.
Can I go back in time? Relive all those moments again, feel good about them, cherish them. Because whatever said and done, all I got is my memories!!

Thursday, September 14

Vasudeva Kutumbakam

Well the topic of how we Indians address people, adding some sort of a term denoting a kinship as a way of being respectful or courteous, came up in the lab today. But somehow it has been misconstrued to be an act of disgust.." ooh respect is within the heart, it has nothing to do with the name you address someone with"... "that is so old- fashioned"!, almost to the point of ad nauseam. Here is my take on it- agreed respect has nothing to do with names, but I think it is all a beautiful concept of people of the world being a part of ONE family- VASUDEVA KUTUMBAKAM (which is actually a name given for a sanskrit shloka) So calling someone as your uncle or aunt, even if they are not related, is really a good thing (oh well, why not some respect also along with it). If we can use uncles and aunts for our blood relatives why not for people who are not related (that way we can be at peace, no wars because wee are one big family really!)

In fact, languages like Tamizh have more names than you can imagine to describe every relationship that you can possibly have unlike English which has the same boring aunts and uncles without any variations (its probably one of the few languages that has such a power to describe what you share with people)

Monday, September 11

9/11- history made before our eyes

9/11 is one of the days which will go down in the dark history of wars and deaths. The fact that someone could be so heartless to just ram a plane full of people into a building buzzing with activities, is definitely heart breaking. Terrorism has not been new to people in India, considering the countless people killed everyday in Kashmir and other states,but it was probably unheard of amidst the westerners (especially Americans). That said, 9/11 was a big blow not just to Americans but to the entire world- the extent to which "terrorists" can go is alarming and quite disconcerting. They can not only die but mercilessly kill thousands for their so-called ideologies!
9/11 revealed the best in people- they stood up for each other. Apparently the firemen were just a few blocks away working on something when the first plane hit the tower. They could not have done anything but watch the towers collapse because of the enormity of the attack- fire and thereby heat, shards of metal structures being spewed out and the suddeness of it (everyone was caught unawares). Even then there were quite a few people who got in to save the lives of others. Kudos to them.
The WTC just collapsed within an hour of the attack- the tower, that was tall enough to be the symbol of strength just relented to human qualms. Such structures give us the power and inspiration we need when we look at them in awe. When they go down they take with them that strength and leave us crippled.
It happens everyday (just not the scale of 9/11), let us be aware of it and try our best to stop it while we can.