Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I Salute The Brave Woman


This incident happened to a family, known to me very closely.

The family consisted of husband, wife, a son and a daughter.  The husband ran a printing press, which was quite famous in their area if the city.  His wife started helping him in the press,  after the children grew up and went to higher classes.  The whole family was admired by everyone.  

Their family was a sort of joint middle class family...the husband was the eldest in the family and had many (five or six!) brothers and his father allotted separate flats to all the sons in his building.  He had lost his mother when he was very young and his father was living with him. He was the trustee in a nearby famous temple, was the correspondent in a  school.  Quite a well known person in their area and a respected one too.  His son was waiting for his Plus II results and the daughter had completed 8th std., when this incident happened, some 10 years back.

1st May was their Wedding Anniversary.  The whole family, alongwith his brother's son, his wife's brother and his wife, had visited Mookaambika temple on that day. They had lunch at the temple and came to Shringeri Sharada temple(Karnataka).  It was around 2 pm.  The temple is situated on the banks of the Tungabadhra river.  Normally, the gate from the temple to the river bank, is kept open for the visitors to take bath, till around 11 - 12 am. Then the gate is closed.   The husband insisted on taking bath in the river at that time itself. Everyone went to the other side of the river bank, crossing a bridge.  The husband entered the water and started wading through the water, for some distance.  All the other members of the family were watching.  Suddenly, he was caught in a 'whirlpool' and started rolling into the centre of the whirlpool.  The son noticed this and suddenly ran into the water calling his father, to catch hold of him.  His brother's son also ran behind him.   Within minutes, all the three of them were not visible at all...and the whole area was deserted at that time.   Some help came later on and after searching for 4-5 hours, the three bodies were found.  The family's life was changed within such a short span of time.

We had visited that temple and if we go through the gate via the temple, we can see a board near the whirlpool area, saying that the 'area is dangerous'.    People are asked to take bath just near the steps.  We had done that, just 2 years earlier.   He was a very religious man who was loved and respected by one and all.   His wife lost her husband and her only son, in front of her. His brother also lost one son.  The brother did the kriyas for all the three of them.  

The wife was just around 40 years old at the time of the accident.  She took some time, naturally, to come out of the shock.  But, then slowly, she started taking care of the press. Because of the goodwill they had, the orders poured in and now she is one of the leading person in that field. Her daughter is doing her MBA now.   She has changed from a timid girl to a tough business woman.   She knows to carry herself and without much help from others, she is doing very well. Whenever I meet her, my admiration for her goes up.  Her son's classmates meet her often and help her in their own way.

I wonder why this should happen to her.  Both husband and wife were religious.  The son was going to Veda classes and played mridangam.   The day his body came home, his Plus II results came and he had got reasonably good marks.  He had so many dreams and the parents were adoring him.   

Thank god, the girl is studying well now and her mother is very happy about it.  I feel that women are not that timid as our age old myth says, but when time comes, they become hard as rocks.   Hats off to this lady!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sound Of Music On A Railway Platform


When my children were small, we were in Bangalore. Whenever a good children's movie or Disney movie was released, I used to take my two sons (the children were around 2 and 4 year olds), to watch these movies. Most of these types of movies were released in Rex theatre, which was/is in Cantonment (the children's movies were tax free too, in those days!). From Majestic Bus Terminus, we used to go by Double Decker Bus (the children always preferred to sit on the upper level of the bus. Most of the time, it was empty and these two would run here and there and peep out to watch the miniature vehicles from the window and I can still hear their laughter (the year must have been around 1980-81). Don't get shocked - I used to buy each, a bunch of raw groundnut plants - and eat the seeds all the way to the theatre. The plants were always clean as far as I remember. My children had always been healthy and I don't remember them falling sick after eating the raw nuts. I don't think I will let anybody else, whether they are children or adults, to buy these things and eat without washing, now!

We had seen 'Snow white', 'Jungle Book', Charlie Chaplin movies, 'Sound of Music' and many other movies in that theatre. We used to have cakes and ice creams in the 'Nilgiris shop' at the ground floor of the theatre or next door, I don't remember exactly and come back home by auto. We enjoyed those days...which will never come back! When my friend sent me this video, I remembered those happy days and wanted to share them with you!

Now read this and watch the video. I noticed that some readers are not able to open the videos and so I am giving the URL too.

All the dancers and onlookers are looking so happy, here!

More than 200 dancers were performing their version of "Do Re Mi", in
the Central Station of Antwerp. with just 2 rehearsals they created
this amazing stunt! Those 4 fantastic minutes started on the 23rd of March
2009, at 08:00 AM. It is a promotion stunt for a Belgian television
program, where they are looking for someone to play the leading role,
in the musical of "The Sound of Music".

My whole family will go down memory lane, while watching this video...hey sons, have a look! Thank you for the happy memories!


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Arya Samaj Wedding - Is It Going To Be THE Common Type Of Wedding Ritual, In The Future?


We attended a wedding of our friend's daughter, last Sunday.  It was an inter-caste marriage. Both the bride and bridegroom are very well educated and decided to have an Arya Samaaj wedding.  I have heard about it but had not witnessed the wedding till now.  I had a notion that this type of wedding will not have any ritual, just exchange garlands, sign in the register and the wedding will be over.  But I was in for a surprise and a happy one.  

Normally, our Tamilian wedding has got so many rituals and everyone becomes so tired after the wedding - the bride and groom, parents and other close relatives, will have so much work that no one feels relaxed and happy, for quite sometime.  Some rituals, like oonjal (swing), the bride and groom exchanging garlands, etc. are fun to watch.  Otherwise, it is so long that the children (bride and groom) feel very sleepy, after the 'mangalya dhaaran'  ritual.  As soon as this maangalya dharan is over, people throw the flowers and rice on the children and run for lunch.  But the ritual for the children continue.  No other person will have the patience to sit with them.  They will be all alone with the Purohit, in front of the hot 'havan kund', sweating, in Chennai weather!

So, I loved this short but perfect wedding ritual of  'one hour',  very much.  The person who conducted the wedding,  was a member of the Arya Samaaj.  He is a Hindi Professor, in a college. The rituals were very simple, but everything was done, according to the Vedas.  He recited every mantra, slowly, splitting every word, according to the meaning and asked both the bride and bridegroom to repeat,  together.  He translated the meaning into Tamil and I think everyone liked it.  

He said that during the Veda period, 'maangalya dhaaran' ritual was not there.  We are doing it only for the past 2000 years.  So 'maangalya dhaaran' was done as the concluding ritual.  Let me explain, not in full detail, but like, just a glimpse of the rituals.

For the ritual of 'Kanyaadaan', the Bride, Groom and the bride's parents, kept their palms one upon another and the mantras were repeated by all the four.

Next came 'Pratigya Mantra', which is a a ritual solemnizing the marriage. The husband makes six marital vows holding his wife's hands. These vows make the marriage strong and sacred.

The Arya Samaj wedding ceremony is performed with the fire and other elements as the witnesses since they don't believe in idol worshipping. So, The couple take four rounds of the fire one for each four ashrams in the vedic age.

Then comes, Saptapadhi. The ends of the bride's sari and the groom's shawl are tied together. The saptapadikriya or seven steps taken by the couple signify their seven needs: nourishment, strength, wealth obtained through honest means, good health, progeny, good luck and a loving relationship. In this, the groom was keeping his hands on the shoulder of the bride and they took the step together.

We have this ritual in our wedding also - shilarohan.  The groom lifts the foot of his bride and keeps it on the grinding stone (small one, which we call ammikkal).  Here, the brother of the bride places her foot on a stone, while the groom recites mantras. He prays that their marriage be as firm and steady as the rock on which he has placed his sister's foot.

Maangalya dhaaran:   The golden maangalyam which was in a yellow thread was placed in a plate with coconut and flowers and taken around for blessings  of the elders first.  Then the Purohit asked the groom to hold it in his two hands in front of the bride and repeat the mantras.  The three knots were tied, one by the groom and the rest by his sister.

Normally, everyone showers coloured rice (akshat) or flowers on the couple, congratulate them and their parents and leave for the dining hall, immediately,  after maangalya dhaaran.  Here, we were asked to hold the flowers  in our hands, repeat the 'ashirwaad' mantra together and then bless the newly weds with the flowers and rice.  The whole hall was vibrating with the sound of the ashirwaad mantra. This was the best part, which should be included in our rituals too.

I noticed one more thing - normally, only the men are asked to pour ghee in the havan.  Here, the bride and the groom did it together and the mothers (boy's and girl's) were asked to put hand pound red rice, into the havan kund, for every mantra.

In the end, the newly weds fed each other with laddus, signed their names as man and wife in the Arya Samaaj register.  

They will live happily ever after!

We liked this wedding very much.   What are your views please?


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