Diwali Of The Underdog

October 27, 2011
I don't know how many times did I type "Happy Diwali" in last two days.  I am wondering what was so happy about diwali? I know i sound very very selfish and negative here. 

While I was dressed up in my anarkali kurta and chudidar, all braced with jhumkis and bangles, walking cautiously in my heels holding my sleek clutch in one hand and a gift wrapped in shiny gift paper, I passed by the press-wali(see meaning below) stationed underneath the staircase of the multi storey flat where our family friend lived.  I had the same thoughts in my mind - What is so happy about Diwali and Diwali gifting?  The eagerness and efficiency with which the middle aged press-wali clad in her simple, unstarched cotton Saree, was ironing the clothes of her clients made me feel so shallow. I was fortunate to be wearing one such dress and not the one ironing it for someone else to shine brightly in the well creased dress done by me.

I lowered my head, thanked God for that for his graciousness that He has bestowed on me and my family.

Back home, when I lighted a diya and a candle outside my home before doing puja performed by my Mother in law, I saw a bunch of rag picker boys. I was surprised to see one of the boys lustily looking at the burning candle.  Confused,  I asked him whether he wanted to steal the candle.  A bright light shone in his eyes and he smiled sheepishly on my question. Seeing a strict look in my eyes, he backed off, but then shot a question on my, to which the only way I could have reacted was a dropped jaw - "aaj Diwali hai?" he asked, meaning "Is it Diwali today?" 

Needless to say that i felt a great pity on the boy who does not even know about the one of the biggest festivals of India.  He added quickly that since he does not have new clothes so he does not know.  Then, I realized,  he was just making a fool out of me. Phew! it's so easy to fool me.  The boy was soon joined by his friends, and they had around 5 or 6 packets of correcting fluids and thinners in their hands. 

Rag- pickers and correcting fluid is one mismatch.  But, I was not surprised.  These young boys like many rag pickers, beggars etc. use them like drugs, to get a high, as an intoxicating agent may be.  They spend their hard earned money in buying stuff to please them for a few hours.  It was Diwali for them, to be able to buy so many bottles at one go.  The bunch of small boys, all dirty and stinking, jumped like monkeys, with their pockets stuffed with red and white packets, and they vanished in a by lane, probably to enjoy their Diwali.

I didn't know should I be happy for them or sad for them.  I don't know....

All I know the boys will be back the next morning, looking for unexploded crackers, match boxes, empty cartons etc on the roads.  They will be equipped with some tool to scrape off the melted wax of candles of Diwali night outside the houses.  I'm sure they would catch hold of some leftover sweet box somewhere on some corner of the colony.

I'm sure about that....

Anyways Happy Diwali guys..... 


Press-wali - In many Indian cities, some people create small stalls (basically a wooden table and a coal iron) in the lanes and by-lanes of colonies and iron people's clothes for money.  They are commonly known as press wali or press wala.

Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster - Movie Talk

October 25, 2011
Just when I started to believe that "Adult only" movie means abuses or crass language hurled in abundance in desi flavours of dilli, UP, Bihar, Mumbai ; Just when I thought "Adult only" means gore, bloodshed and violence, this movie surprised me as by the end of the movie I knew why this movie was rated only for adult viewers!  For the good old reason ie., having plenty of intimate scenes, the movie Saheb Biwi aur Gangster is rated only for "Adults". And thankfully its not Imran Hashmi doing the honours!

Talking about the title of the movie, I must admit that it is very unimaginative. It immediately reminds you of Saheb Biwi aur Gulam.  But the title does one favour on the movie! It actually lowered my expectation, but the movie came out to be a bomb!

 Just when you thought that 'Gangster' only means underworld and mafia with lots of guns (or katta) and no remorse, this movie surprises you with the gangster with a difference!

For a change, this movie is not a No Brainer!  Each and every character has been chiseled out well.  Each and every part of the story is well connected and does not disappoint you.  Nothing happens out of the blue, typical of Hindi movies; everything had a background and a reason, even how the gangster became a gangster is explained. 

Jimi Shergill showed the royal grace

Jimi Shergill as Saheb is suave, looks sophisticated and very hot.  He possesses that princely  grace which is required for his character.  Be it his attire (just loved his dressing style) or his body language, he stands out.  Mahie Gill made her mark in the movie.  She was admirable throughout the movie. Randeep Hooda acted well, but a more stunning guy with some X factor could have added more zing.  Deepal Shaw had a small role, and was a patakha, as far as her performance is concerned.

The intimate scenes were shot aesthetically. The subtle difference between the love making of two seasoned lovers and two people burning with the fire of body was portrayed beautifully. Hats off for that.

Jimi Shergill - intense and promising actor

The story takes twists and turns.  You can't manage to bat your eyelid for more than a fraction of a second or you will miss it!  All in all a very intelligent masala movie.

I don't like to write the story of the movie I watch, but definitely discuss about the questions it raised in my mind.

First, that when the chips of a man are down, he can not handle his woman or women well.    Women bear the brunt of being the wife or co-inhabiting a man who has lost the game of life, a man who is unsuccessful in his professional life.  Be it the alcoholic and slightly mentally disturbed wife of the Jimi Shergill or his mistress, whom he got killed barbarically by his wild canine that too after making love with her.

Second very striking aspect of human mind experienced in the movie was that when on one hand a woman tends to give all in love, a man always thinks of some gain out of the woman.  A woman who has surrendered herself cannot do more than that for his man, but for a man it's the beginning of garnering more and more material gains from her or through her.  Reminds me of typical Indian marriage system, where even today a girl is regarded as a passage to her father's wealth.
Randeep Hooda (lacks X factor) Mahie Gill was fabulous

Third, is about adultery, the taboo for Indian society (or is it not?).  The writing on the wall is that when a man strays it's because of his wife and when a woman strays, it's because of her character or rather lack of it.  And, in the adulterous relationship, it is the woman who is more responsible for everything, and it is the woman who has to and must bear the brunt of social stigma.  And, it's macho for the man. 

Fourth, Love in the times of MMS. When the love deprived 'biwi' Mahie Gill chooses to befriend her young driver Randeep Hooda (who is in the royal family for a purpose), the guy makes sure to make a video clip and sends it to the husband at the climax of the movie.  I was wondering why would a lover or an ex lover or a jilted lover do that?

Because he knows that even if Indian law holds only the man responsible for adultery, but in the social norms, it's the fault of the woman only.  (Indian Penal Code, Section 497 provides : “Whoever has sexual intercourse with a person who is and whom he known or has reason to believe to be the wife of another man, without the consent or connivance of that man, such sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape, is guilty of the offence of adultery, and shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years or with fine, or with both. In such a case the wife shall not be punishable as an abettor.)

Whatever the law says, but in the male dominated society like ours every man knows that pretty well, that the husband will spare the guy in question but will batter the wife to death for this, or else the social stigma will kill her everyday.
It's a must watch movie for mature as well as young people. It's got something for every age group. Above all, you feel proud that a bollywood masala movie can leave you awed!

Enjoy! and A Very Happy, Prosperous and Peaceful Diwali to all of you!


Why Only Women Fast For Men??

October 14, 2011
Tomorrow is Karva Chauth and last year on this occasion I wrote a post "Karva Chauth - A Modern View On The Ancient Ritual " analyzing the rituals followed, the tale or tales behind the festival, the scope and myths attached to it.  The post was liked by many of my dear blogger pals and was also selected and picked up by AsiaMag.

A woman looks at the moon through a strainer on Karva Chauth
This year I have another question to ask.  Why is that only women fast in Indian society?  Why is it defined that way that women - be it the mother, the wife, the wife to be fasts for the health and life of her son, or husband or husband to be? 

I really don't want the male reader to think that I have a problem with women fasting for the men? But why is it that it has been preached by our religion, by our customs, through the folk lore, the myths that it's the woman who must abstain from food in order to be pious enough to pray for the man/men in her life?

Vrat Savitri Puja performed by women

As you know that  Karva Chauth is rampantly followed in North of India in which married women and engaged girls fast for their husbands or husband to be.  There is another fast for husband known as Vat Savitri Puja  which is mainly observed in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Orissa and Maharashtra. Also, South Indian married ladies especially of Tamil Nadu and Karanataka observe festival with the different name as Karadaiyan Nonbu or Savitri Nonbu Vritham.
 When we are talking about the husband or the husband to be, then how can i forget the Solah Somwar Vrat ie. fasting for 16 Mondays in a row to appease Lord Shiva so as to get a good husband. 

 Not just for the husband , but Indian culture has many fasts for the well being of one's son or sons. Be it the Ahoi Mata fast or Ahoi Ashthami in which the mother fasts for the well being of her sons or the Chath Pooja where the mother or the elder woman of the family fasts and performs elaborate fasting, pooja etc for the welfare of the family.  (However, I have many acquaintance from Bihar and UP and they say that although it's for the family, but it's mostly for the son and so the mother fasts for the son.)

Chath puja
Does it not baffle you as to why different regions of our country prescribe different fasts and rituals for the welfare of our sons or husbands, but there is not even a single fast for the well being of the wife or the daughter!!!

Ahoi Mata picture in front of which mothers perform puja

Does it not amuse you as to how the women who fast for their men slog the whole day, cooking, cleaning, washing, serving food to other members of the family while she is hungry the whole day and at times without water? I don't think there is any consideration for this in our average Indian families.

What is it? Abstinence prescribed only for women for the sake of the males of the family? The energy of piousness of the woman to be used for the betterment of the family? Just what do the scriptures  and the rituals mean when they say WOMEN SHOULD FAST FOR MEN?

Or was it because earlier men worked and women stayed at home (and that is taken as no work!), so they could get into all this stuff to keep themselves busy? It sounds absurd to me.

Coming back to the most famous fast for married women - Karva Chauth. Have you, the men reading the post, ever fasted for your woman? At least skipped one meal on this day for her?

Or let me ask the women, have you ever asked or expected your husband to reciprocate your gesture?  Or have you slogged all day at office and home, helping your children with their homework and prepared dinner for the whole family?  Did this question ever cross your mind that love needs to be reciprocated by your partner, so why does he also not join you in fasting for a day?

Let me know what do you think about it? Feel free to share about any other ritual related to the post.


PS: I remember a course mate of mine ( with whom I attended a training and the whole class got discussing this issue passionately) who fasts every year for his wife since then and calls or smses me to tell this to me every year!

Pati Patni Aur Tu!

October 11, 2011
Generally speaking, there is one striking similarity in the urban and the rural couples, of at least North India. The men address their wives as 'tu' (thou). 

Although English language generalizes the way we address all and sundry as 'you', it is the Hindi language which having got influenced by the Mughal dynasties and the Lucknowi andaaz holds three ways of addressing people depending on their age, status, intimacy and respectability as aap, tum and tu.

It's interesting to note that Ghalib wrote, "Teri mehfil mein aakar bade beaabroo hue/ Aap se tum aur tum se tu hue" (I humiliated myself in your company/ From aap, i became tum, and finally tu).

In this post, instead of generalizing the usage of the three words in the different relationships in society, i would like to stick to only couples - married or in a relationship.

In the beginning of a relationship, the men and the women stick to some kind of formal conversations.... some small talk.... trying to strike a conversation and mostly address each other as 'aap'.  As and if the closeness increases, 'aap' changes to 'tum' and  with time or with the feeling of permanency of the partner, it becomes 'tu'.  If the culmination of the relationship is marriage (which is not a reality now a days) the 'tu' is irreversible from the husband's side and the girlfriend turned wife has to mend her ways to shift back to 'aap'. 

The need to address the husband as 'aap' arises more because Indian wife won't use the first name of the husband.  Girls, at least till one decade back, would absolutely refrain from uttering their husband's name, even to call them.  Women would shyly or commandingly call out as 'suno', 'suniye' or the Bollywood auntiji and mummyji style 'maine kaha ji' or (worse!!) 'munnu ke papa' ie., referring to their young one!

There is a great great shift in the way girls are handling their hubbys now.  Most of my friends call out their husband's first name while talking to or referring to them. (Reminds me of a life insurance Advertisement where the young lady enters the home shouting (yeah literally shouting) "Sanjoo" many a times. First time i thought she was calling her pet dog! psst!). 'Eey ji , O ji, sunte ho ji, has been shooed out of the home (and the bedroom ) by ' honey' , 'sweet heart' and 'baby' (huff! that's a relief!!)

Talking about the men addressing their wives, the only person who comes to my mind is the old Hindi movie actor Om Prakash, who was always seen calling his on-screen wife as "Aree bhagyawaan, sunti ho?!" I think, all of us, in North India, have seen our parents sparingly using each other's names, except when they had to fill up some form!

Today, I find it very refreshing when I hear a man say the name of his wife while referring to something like "Ritu loves prawns... so taking some for her".  For me, addressing your partner by his or her name is like marrying the person and not the whole family. Girls were discouraged to use the husband's first name, as that would decrease the respect... and also the mother in law would feel that the girl is trying to overpower her son. Some such thoughts were behind the practice. Thankfully, the young couples are leaving them behind and cherishing togetherness and oneness like never before.

But, it's just 'tu' which hasn't changed in all these years.  I am not talking about a particular caste, or region, or less educated people, or not so well off people.  It's a trend just anywhere. Some use is all the time, and others would speak like that in anger, but a wife remains a 'tu'.

I asked a few men, as to why they can not address their wives as 'aap' or at least 'tum' when the women are respectful enough to them? Believe me, the question surprised them!! They were just not prepared for the question, so hard wired they were about the usage.

Someone said, 'tu' means we are close to each other. Someone said, we are like friends... don't friends address each other as 'tu'? Another MCP kind of man replied "so? should i address her as 'aap'? ye devi hai? pooja karoon iski?" (Is she some goddess? should i worship her as well?)

The answers spoke for themselves.

Although, there were exceptions, but they were few. But I was truly glad to hear from a friend how he always addressed his wife as 'aap', and the reason given was "if she respects me, why shouldn't I?"

Another exception is the young couple, who had a love marriage and were used to calling each other as 'tu' for a long time, and had to somehow give up using 'tu' in front of parents, (i am talking about the girl only)

Why am i so averse of the word 'tu' to be used for one's partner?

Ever heard a man speaking to the house maid as "toone kamra saaf kyu nahi kiya?" (why did thou not clean the room) and in the same breath saying "too jaldi se (shopping) list bana ke de" (thou make the shopping list) to his wife?

Interestingly, some time back, an Urdu teacher in Lahore divorced his young wife when she inadvertently called him "tum" instead of "aap"!

'Tu' is a strange word in our society, and here I'm talking about Delhi culture. When you want to show your superiority, say in front of a labourer or a rickshaw walla or a domestic maid - 'tu' is used maximum. When you want to show comradeship or bhaipanti, u say 'tu'.  When addressing God, some people out of closeness say 'tu' to God.  Elders used to address children as 'tu', which has changed now in educated households.

So, people use 'tu' either when they stand on equal footing (close friends) and unequal footing ( master - servant or God - human).  Unfortunately, marriage in India does not make women stand on an equal footing (proved further by the fact that women cannot address husband as 'tu') and women today are not ready for the unequal grounds in marriage.  The conflict that arises is of this sort.  It starts from language and goes much deeper and much widespread when it comes to equality in married couples.

Respect, like Love, needs to be reciprocated in committed relationships and men must avoid giving those funny logic of being close and intimate and therefore, they call out their wives as 'tu' even in public.  In fact, when a man says we are close (in this context) he almost means 'seen that been there and bored'. 

What do you think about it? Has 'tu' ever irked you the way it does to me? Do you find 'tu' normal? Have you ever told your husband how you feel being addressed as 'tu' or 'toone' or 'tujhe' in public?

Let me know


Anugunj - The Lohar And Agaria Origin Myth

October 7, 2011

The iron frame and little figures within look like some antique look show piece of a modern Living room, but these metal figures represent some well preserved myths by the people of Chhhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh in India.  Here goes the stories:-

The Agaria Origin Myth
Region - Mandla, Madhya Pradesh, India

When God wished to create living beings, he found the earth submerged under the sea and Keechakmal, the earthworm feeding on it.  With the help of Kakamal (crab), the row and the earthworm itself, he manged to establish the earth on waters.  To ensure its stability, he commanded Agaris, Tamasu, Kansasur to secure it with iron, copper and (erazed text) respectively, thus stabilizing the earth for habitation.

The Lohar Origin Myth
Region - Bastar, Chhattisgarh, India

Sabarsi, the King of Loharipur had twelve sons, of whom Logundi was the eldest.  Angarmati was the only daughter.  All road in Loahripur were made of iron and all citizens subsisted on molten iron.  They were so self sufficient that even during the twelve year long famine, only the people of Loharipur did not seek divine intervention.  This roused the wrath of the sun God who trapped these unsuspecting people into touching water, an act, which robbed them of the gift to digest molten iron.  It was Angarmati, whose Jwalamukhi, later avenged his family by imprisoning Sun and Moon in an iron cage.


You may visit 'Anugunj' - a travelling exhibition based on myths and folk beliefs of India has been organised in theNational Museum, Janpath, New Delhi 
from 15 Sep 2011 to 11 Oct 2011. 


The Myths and Superstitions of India

October 4, 2011
I wrote about 'Anugunj' an exhibition on the Myths beliefs and folk lore of India, which is being presented in the National Museum, New Delhi. 

Undoubtedly, myths, legends, folk tales, stories which pass on from generation to generation only through the word of mouth are so very common in India. Along with that superstitions also constitute a major part of our lives.

These myths vary from place to place, from on State to another, from one community to another.  Depending on what place to belong to, you grow up with a few superstitions.  With time, either we begin to question them or follow them mindlessly.
A scary ugly face is put on the facade of buildings to ward off evil spirits

As a 6-7 year old I had asked my mother - "Tell Me Why??" I guess, no parents would give a proper answer to their children for such question in those days.

Elderly ladies in my family have always said that there was a lot of wisdom in those beliefs which we call myths today.  Since my childhood,  I have tried to find some logic in the superstitions followed in my home. If I was able to find any sane logic in them, I would follow. 

Here are a few superstitions and the possible thought behind it or the logic supporting it.

My mother always told not to sweep the floor after sunset. I think it was because there was no electricity in the rural India and sweeping floor after the sunset, when they only had oil lamps, can result in sweeping away small jewellery pieces or money from the home.  But, I don't think it hold any relevance in today's time.

Also, switching on the lights in the evening with chanting the name of God along with that was always funny for me!  Was it some means of thanking the Fire God in the old days when a oil lamp was burnt in the evening? Possibly.  Although, there is no harm in showing gratitude, but now with living in smaller and closed homes we switch on the lights right from the morning, I think the practice of thanking God for light got vanished.

Another interesting myth is that we should not cross over or jump over the legs of a person who is sitting or lying down, as this may lead to stunted growth! And this was followed with all the zeal in those growing up years.  I think, this superstition has a logic behind it.  While a person is walking and crossing over the legs of another person, there are chances of his losing balance and falling over the person who is sitting and can cause medium to severe injury to both the people, especially the one who is sitting. So, even today I tell my children to follow it but have clarified why I want them to follow this age old practice.
Never cross the road if a black cat has crossed the road before you is one myth, which brings out the meanness of our society.  There is a great amount of fear in people even today when they see a black cat, or a cat crossing the road or path they are travelling upon. I have seen that people stop besides the road, or slow down their car/scooter and wait for another person to cross it, before they do so.  This shows the height of selfishness and meanness to which we go.  I think this is one baseless belief we are still carrying on, without thinking that a healthy animal is bound to move around whether we think it's a good omen or bad.

Not washing clothes, not shaving or not buying oil/iron or not eating non vegetarian food on certain days of the week are also one of the most followed superstition in India.  Hair saloons and beauty parlours are closed on Tuesday, as it is believed as bad luck to cut hair/shave on this day. On Thursday clothes are not washed.  Non veg food is not consumed on Tuesday and Thursday, Oil or iron is not bought on Saturday.  It's baffling to see a sturdy and macho looking young man with a thick stubble uttering sheepishly that his mother has prohibited him to shave for that day!

Finding logic in this is rather simple. The superstitions which ask to not to do something on a week day breaks your monotony and burden of daily chore - say washing clothes daily.  And the one's telling you to do a thing on a weekday encourages you to take up that activity at least once a week - say going vegetarian for a day.  I think, instead of strictly (read fearfully) following this words, we should rationalize our living style, as was desired by our forefathers.

Dreams are believed to be one major indicator of the future happenings in our lives.  Seeing various animals like snake, dogs, wolf, tigers, elephants, lizards, cats mean different things and accordingly they call for prayers or donation in temples.

Warding off the evil eye is one very interesting feature of Indian myths.  Be it your house or shop or any building, your car or truck or any mode of conveyance and be it your child, everything has to be saved from evil eyes!  Selling green chillies and lemons sewn together in a thread to shop keepers is a means of livelihood for many a people in cities.  People tie cat's eye in their cars and black paranda ( black threaded hair extension used by women in rural areas of Punjab).  Black scary face made on an earthen pot is placed on the facade of the building to scare away evil spirits.  Similarly, black colour of kajal (eye make up) is used to make a dot on small children's cheek or forehead for the same purpose. Also, black thread is tied on their wrists, or near the ankle or around the neck, like a beaded string.

The idea of placing something black and/or ugly is to lessen the beauty of the thing or the person.  I don't know whether it really wards off evil effects on that person or not??

Now after the preventive measure, there is also a whole gamut of corrective measure involved too.  If a child is crying too much, then the first thing a mother would do is to take off the evil eye or effect from the child.  I thought only ladies of my mother's generation did it, but surprisingly, it's seen in even the young and happening mommy's of this time! 

Different people use different ways.  The most commonly heard is to burn red dried and whole chillies after rotating it around the child's face and whole body.  Of course, you have to burn it at an open place and have to run away from there, as the burning of chillies emanate a lot of smoke and cause burning in eyes.  The myth is that the more the chillies crackle and burn, the more the child was affected!

Another simple method, I have myself practiced, though reluctantly and on insistence of my Mother In law is rotating a handful of salt around a child's face and body and then throw it in running water.  The elderly ladies in my house have believed in this like they have believed in their religion.  And a cranky and crying child would be often treated with this remedy.

I really don't understand the logic behind it.

What do you think about it? What superstitions you have followed or questioned in your life? Do you think there was any wisdom in the myths we carry along with us generation to generation?  Have you ever tried to think about the possible logic about the common beliefs your mother always told you?

Let me know


What Does Being Religious Mean To You?

October 1, 2011
Ask my mother, and she will tell you how disgusted she feels that her daughter doesnot believe in visiting temples or doing Pooja (prayer) at home and worse she doesnot have a little temple or a place for pooja at her home. 

I've grown up seeing a highly religious mother  who would wake up at 4 am to get ready and walk down to Kalka temple on weekly basis despite her being a working woman.  She would spend a lot of time in the home Pooja room ( a small room for prayer) every evening. Her salutation would be no less than the name of the deity she is devoted to.  Come Navratras and her visits to temple would increase and her time of prayer (including Aarati singing) would increase manifold.  She would come out of the prayer room, offering us, the poor children with some 'Charnamrit' (Literally meaning - holy water which has washed the God's feet) and some prasad ( sweet which was offered to God first).

She would take me along to the temple, which has a huge following in New Delhi.  As a kid, it was tough for me, as I had to wake up at 4 or 5 am, take bath and get ready in winter mornings to go to the temple.  And mind you, we were not supposed to eat anything.... means just anything.  We must pray with a pure mouth, must not consume anything before that.  After offering water, tilak, flowers, lighting a diya (earthen lamp),  prasad (sweets or fruit offered to God) and head bow or else prostrating before all idols (and hope u know there are 330 million Hindu dieties  and a big and established temple would have idols of around 10-12 deities minimum).  By the time, all the offerings have been made to all the Gods and Goddesses, it would be the time to do the collective Aarati.  

All this would take around 1 to 2 hours, and I would be dead hungry by then.  Needless to say that if i complained, that would elicit the wrath of my mother, so I would keep my mouth shut!

Today, at 36 years of age, and being a mother of two, I have still not imbibed the religious ways of my mother, and for that matter of my mother-in-law and my sister and my neighbour and my colleague.  I am a misfit here. My mother had been telling me again and again how important it is to have a small temple in home, and how equally important it is to light a diya (lamp) every day.  Initially, I felt terribly guilty for not being able to do all this, not even to pacify all the old ladies of my house.  But now, I just know I cannot and have no regrets.

For me religion is not lighting that diya, it's not singing that Aarati, it's not fasting for the diety, it's not visiting a temple, it's not going on a pilgrimage, it's not even placing the photo of your diety on your kitchen, or your car, or your study table or your home temple.  It's beyond all this.  These are just the rituals, just the method to remind yourself of the power.

I don't think there is any point visiting a temple through the VIP pass, VIP gate or VIP ticket (u can buy them by paying some Rs 1000-2000 in big temples).  I don't think God would be happy with you when you haggle with the poor rickshaw puller for 2 or 5 rupees after giving donation of 100-200 or 500 rupees.  I don't think it's worth getting pushed and manhandled just to stand and pray in front of the big idol of your God.  There are long, really very long queues outside the well established temples all over India and people wait for hours altogether to get a glimpse of their deity.  Having faith is something pious and I respect it, but simply following a ritual without giving any thought to it... is somehow beyond me.

I'm not saying that people who throng the temples go there only to see the idol of the deity, but there are people who go to experience the immense power, to feel the collective energy of thousands of people's devotion. Some go to meditate in peaceful temples.  If we begin to segregate the mere ritual from the real devotion and real connectivity with God, we will begin to see the worthlessness in the temple thronging act of our countrymen.  Every year, we read about people dying in stampedes in religious processions, or temples or in queues leading to temples.  Is it worth losing your life only to visit a place of worship, while God resides within us... around us.......in the human beings He created? I wonder.

My Observation on Religion And Society : There is something strange which i had been noticing for a few years about the co-relation of a person's financial status and the religious practices he follows. 

 I realized that the poor section of the Indian society spend more money on buying pooja articles, giving money (dakshina) to priests for the rituals.  They spend a big amount from their earnings on festivals and marriage/birth/death in the name of religion giving out money or food or clothes to others (mostly priests).  People working in cities go back to their states or villages for such religious and ritualistic practices thereby spending money on commuting and buying new clothes etc.  

In contrast to that, middle class or upper middle class strata of Indian society (especially urban population) won't care much about the ritual which makes them spend money.  In most cases, we have found some short cuts to rituals.  Now, more often than not, the short cuts are there because we don't care enough for them anymore rather than reasoning out as to why should we follow or not follow it.

So, the meaning of being religious is different for different people. What's your way of being religious? Do u light a diya, or a dhoop or incense stick, hum some mantra and begin your day feeling pious? Do you visit temples each time you go for holidays to any place seeking blessings of all the Gods? Have you ever questioned the ritual? Have you ever asked  the meaning and significance of a ritual and then felt a disconnect in your heart? Have you ever asked yourself 'does God reside in the place of worship'? What's your way? Do share....


Aarathi - (Aarati - is a kind of a religious song, sung in the praise of that deity.  It tells about the various powers held, the many accomplishments made and thus praises the greatness of the diety)  It is normally sung aloud together, with the priest taking the lead.  It's accompanied by loud ringing of bells ( the bigger the temple, the more the bells), and rotating a big plate on which an oil lamp, flowers, fruits, sweets and incense has been placed.  It is rotated in front of the idol of the deity, offering all the holy things to them.  Later, the same sweets are distributed to all the people as prasad.
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