Saturday, September 18, 2010

Monday, August 2, 2010

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Friday, January 4, 2008

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Ganpati Bappa Morya..

Its festival season in India and especially in Mumbai. Started with Janmasthami couple of weeks back, ganesh festival started yesterday (15th Sep, Saturday) and will be on for another 10 days, then comes navratri / dussera with dandiyas all over mumbai, followed by diwali. Ramzan and christmas too come during this season.

As we use to do for the past 9 years, we went to the King Circle Ganesha (as we call it) organized by GSB seva mandal today. We thought of beating the crowd by going there early, as Mumbai generally gets up on Sundays only after 11 in the morning. But to our surprise, even at 9 in the morning, it was crowded. We managed to get the darshan of one of the biggest ganesha idols in Mumbai. The rituals at ganesha are very much in accordance with the practices of GSB community, and very different from the other mandals in Mumbai. Little bit about the ganesha idol.. Ganapati at GSB mandal is covered with of gold... The precious metals -- hold your breath --- more than 50 kg of gold and 400 kg of silver are used in its decoration !!! The crown is of 22 kg of gold.! The hands and the 'modak' in the hand are of 6 kg of gold.! The kamarbandh or the waist-belt is of 6 kg of gold.! the weapons weigh 4 kg of gold each.! Other ornaments like earrings, bajoobandh, haar etc weigh 15 kg.of gold! The Sinhasan i.e. the throne and its surroundings created out of 400 kg of silver! Hundreds of volunteers and a large force of police is deployed for the round the clock vigil. The glitter on the 21-feet tall Ganpati at the GSB Mandal in Matunga is actual gold and has been insured for whopping Rs 7 crore. I understand that the budget for this years 5 day festivities there is about Rupees 2.5 Crore.

I have been observing the ganesh festivites in Mumbai for past many years. More than religeous, it is a social event. Communities in all parts of mumbai join together form mandals and keep ganesh and conduct many cultural events for the kids, men and women in the community in the evenings. People keep visiting different ganeshas and enjoy the creative presentations and art work. Many people including artisans get work in creating the decorations and making ganesh murties... large number of flowers are used, so that flower farmers earn good money (not sure, whether the poor farmers make money or the middle-men)... those who play drums etc get work during the immersion procession... also when people visit different mandals, they happen to see friends and relatives... We met today some of our friends and also relatives who we generally meet only during such occasions... Ofcourse, it is an occasion to showcase jewelery and silk sarees for many women... We had nice breakfast also from there... if we had waited, we could have had nice konkani lunch too.... the crowd was swelling as the time passed, and we returned after having another darshan of the ganesha...

Keeping the religeous aspects aside, the festival brings joy to many... even to those who does exortion to collect money in the name of ganesha... there are many ganeshas setup by political parties in mumbai... Last year in my office a groups of goons representing a political party came and demanded huge sum for the ganesh puja... we managed not to give anything to them...

Another aspect of these festivals I like is the food associated with each of these festivals... for janmashtami, we do pooja at home with almost 25 different varieties of prasads, and also special kheer and banana stem salad (its fibre-rich)... for ganesh chaturthi it is different varieties of modaks, for navratri, we use to have chundals (made of legumes and coconut) every evening, all the nine evenings... for onam it is feast with special dishes... such festivals give opportunity for tasting different kinds of food.

All these festivals are more of social than religious. I believe, making it too religious would loose the whole meaning of these festivals itself..
Now its going be Ganesha on the streets of Mumbai for another 9 days... and the immersion processions are a real treat to the eyes, though there is inconvenience to many on the road, it is happy time for many many, in different aspects....

Ganpati Bappa Morya... Mangal Murthy Morya...
Lets all enjoy all festivals and draw happiness...

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Mars, Moon and the Life

Every youngster has dreams about their married life. For quite a few, married life is a bliss, but for many it becomes a curse. It can be a curse for many even before the marriage. Many have to dream for a married life till end of their life, like a mirage. There are many factors that contribute to such circumstances. What bothers and concerns me is the inability of many girls to get married because of no fault of theirs and also, many suffer after marriage for no fault of theirs. What I am coming to is the practice of astro-match process during marriage proposal stage, and the poor girls being made victims because of the positions of planets in their horoscope are not 'proper' or they are born on a day, when moon was at some specific longitude.

I have been seeing many such cases in different communities in India, where many girls are being mercilessly made victims of the belief on astrology, which many claim as a science, many claim as meta-science, and also many claim as absurd. My objective is not to have a debate on whether its science or not, but feel sorry for the victims of the belief. In astro matches, position of planets in the horoscopes is one criteria considered. In general, if the position of mars is in 7th house (i am not venturing into explaining the technicalities) for a girl, it can be taken for granted that getting a marriage proposal is near to impossible for that unfortunate girl. Similarly, if on the day of birth of a girl, the planetary longitude of moon is between '240 deg 0' to '253 deg 20' (called moola nakshatra), then she has to marry only someone who has no father. There are many more such constraints being practiced.

I have spent enough time and learnt astrology, and studied the process of matching horoscopes etc. Also, I have been doing some research myself in the daily / weekly / monthly astro predictions that come in different newspapers, magazines etc., comparing different predictions and statistically analyzing them to get better understanding about all this practice. Also I have been researching on the 'happiness factor' in many families (of course based on what is known to the outside world!!). In my observations, I have seen cases of failures in spite of great astro-matches, and successes where people didn't bother to match their horoscopes. I do agree that there are cases of vice-versa too. So it is more of statistical in nature, and generally follow a normal distribution in either case.

I believe, people tend to more and more believing in these practices, when they feel some kind of insecurity, fear or greed. Such insecurity and fear is imposed upon by the society for whatever reasons. Unfortunately such practices are linked to belief in god / divine. I see these two as entirely different and unrelated, but those who preach astro-practices link it with belief in god, to force people and the society as a whole to fall in line. The unfortunate victims are poor girls, whose dreams get shattered as days pass by, both in unmarried state and married state. What pains me the most, is the attitude of many such parents, who are least bothered about the well-being of their daughters, instead go after such beliefs. In conservative middle class society in many communities in India, poor girls have no other way but to sacrifice their precious life, for the false pride of their parents and the society.

In India, marriage is seen not just as one between the individuals, but it is also considered as a relationship between the two families. Such a practice makes the marital relationship between the individuals more wider with a sense of better security, implying support from both families in days of happiness and difficulties. Every individual in the world is different, with different cultural, educational, and social backgrounds. And each have different dreams, aspirations, and tastes. The tastes can be different at physical level, intellectual level and spiritual level. It is not possible to have full match of all these characteristics between individuals. If the major likings and tastes are matched, then the rest are left to adjustments. The success of the married life depends on how much the individuals can adjust. Else, the married life may seem great and successful to the outside world, but there would be burning issues between the individuals and families, resulting into loss of peace of mind for everyone affected. As marriages are considered with relationships between the families too, the complexity increases, with likings and tastes of the family as a whole becomes important factor to consider. I believe, considering the family likings and tastes would definitely help to a great extent in realizing a fairly successful married life, with the support of all near and dear ones.

The values being practiced in many communities try to prepare girls for adjustments right from childhood. So when they are forced to marry based on criteria other than matches of personal likings, tastes and preferences, the "need for adjustments" goes too far, with the individuals (especially the girls) quietly suppress their dreams and aspirations and presents themselves with a 'smile' attached face, which the society terms as successful marriage. Most of the times, the parents would be knowing the facts of the smile-attachment, but try to console themselves thinking that they have done it for satisfying the planets, whom they believe control our lives. The pains through which the girl / woman goes through is known only to her and may be her very close confidants. I believe, many social issues in our society can be primarily attributed to such burning of dreams and aspirations of individuals (forced upon them based on such irrational beliefs), which slowly grows and manifests into different forms, and grows out of hand resulting in fights between individuals and families.

These days I see, more and more people tend to go after satisfying the planets than satisfying the individuals and families involved in the marriage. I think, the prime reason could be sense of insecurity, fear and greed that grows day by day in the society. Only thing I can do is to pray for those who suffer, and let the power of prayer bring some solace to the suffering souls.