Navratri special: Ever heard of Garba Visarjan?

Here’s some meaning, importance and relevance of Garba pot or matka.

Like Ganesh Visarjan, there is Navratri Visarjan too. For most of you, this would mean the visarjan or immersion of idols of Goddess Durga. But this is not the only visarjan during Navratri. There is a section of the devotees that also carry out Garba Visarjan.

This might have come as a complete surprise to many. The word ‘Garba’ generally means a dance form carried out during Navratri along with Dandiya. However, that isn’t the only Garba that exists.

Garba pot matka
Picture: Indiamart.com

Garba is actually a pot which is brought home on Navratri and then immersed on Dusshera. Just like the Ganesh idol, it is worshipped daily. But it is not like any other pot. It is a wide pot which is designed and decorated royally in different colours. It has various holes on it. This enables enough air for the lamp (diya), which is ignited inside, to keep its flames alive.

The practice of bringing home the Garba is practiced mostly among Gujaratis. But it is practiced by people from other Indian communities too.

The Garba is also used in another manner. While playing Dandiya and Garba, the Garba is placed at the center and the people dance around it in circles. The Garba symbolizes the universe while the light inside symbolizes God. In other words, it shows that God is at the center of the universe.

That’s not all though. The dancers represent the never-ending nature of life, which indirectly hints at the idea of reincarnation.

Lastly, just like the Ganesh idol, Garba too is immersed in the sea, lakes, river or ponds with much fanfare.

 

Garba-pot
Picture: http://utkarshspeak.blogspot.in

 

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Ganeshotsav Poem: Dhoond Raha Hoon Khud Ko

Here is a poem on the atmosphere during Ganeshotsav festival.

Ganpati-photoढूंढ रहा हूँ खुद को

वैसे तो सृष्टि के कण-कण में पाया जाता है मुझ को

पर ऐसे माहौल में मैं खुद ढूंढ रहा हूँ खुद को

आइटम नंबर्स के अश्लील शब्दों में ढूंढ रहा हूँ खुद को

हिंसक शोर शराबे में ढूंढ रहा हूँ खुद को

उस शोर से बच्चे-बीमार के कराहने में ढूंढ रहा हूँ खुद को

पढाई न कर सके छात्रों की मार्कशीट में ढूंढ रहा हूँ खुद को

पॉलिटिशंस के फोटोशॉप्प्ड़ चेहरों के बीच ढूंढ रहा हूँ खुद को

हवा में फैले पटाखों के ज़हर में ढूंढ रहा हूँ खुद को

नशे में धुत्त मवालियों की गालियों में ढूंढ रहा हूँ खुद को

उनसे की गई लड़कियों की छेड़-छाड़ में ढूंढ रहा हूँ खुद को

पर गली मोहल्ले घूम-घूम कर भी न महसूस किया खुद को

अंत में, विसर्जन के बाद के दयनीय दृश्य में पा लिया खुद को…

– केयूर सेता

 

(In English font)

Dhoond Raha Hoon Khud Ko

Waise toh srushti ke kann-kann mein paya jata hai mujh ko

Par aise mahaul mein main khud dhoon raha hoon khud ko

Item numbers ke ashleel shabdon mein dhoond raha hoon khud ko

Hinsak shor sharabe mein dhoond raha hoon khud ko

Us shor se bachche-bimaar ke karrahne mein dhoond raha hoon khud ko

Padhai na kar sake chhatron ki marksheet mein dhoon raha hoon khud ko

Politicians ke photoshopped chehron ke beech dhoond raha hoon khud ko

Hawa mein faile patakhon ke zehar mein dhoond raha hoon khud ko

Nashe mein dhutt mawaliyon ki gaaliyon mein dhoond raha hoon khud ko

Unse ki gayi ladkiyon ki chhed-chhad mein dhoon raha hoon khud ko

Par gali mohalle ghoom-ghoom kar bhi na pa saka khud ko

Ant mein, visarjan ke baad ke vivash drishya mein paa liya khud ko

– Keyur Seta

When Javed Akhtar gave a profound tribute to Lord Ram through SRK…

Mainstream Hindi cinema has hardly featured stories from Indian epics like Mahabharata or Ramayana in the modern era or last two decades. The two aforementioned epics have innumerable incidents that can fit into the parameters of typical ‘Bollywood’ melodrama. But somehow they have escaped our films.

As tomorrow (April 4, 2017) is Ram Navami or the Birth Anniversary of Lord Ram, we shall look at one film that has given a deep and profound description of His qualities.

Ashutosh Gowariker’s Swades (2004) remains a much-loved film that didn’t work at the box office. One of the most striking moments in the film is the song ‘Pal Pal Hai Bhari,’ which comes during the Dusshera festival in the story.

Swades-Pal-Pal-Hai-BhariGayatri Joshi, who plays Geeta, mostly features throughout the song, which talks about Sita’s separation from Ram after she was kidnapped by Ravana. While expressing her anguish on being away from her husband for so long, she lists down Ram’s great qualities.

But it is the ending part of the song that takes the cake when Shah Rukh Khan intervenes. In what can be called as a monologue, the actor, who plays Mohan, gives a profound tribute to Ram. In fact, in my opinion, there hasn’t been such a sensible yet appealing compliment to any God in a mainstream Bollywood film in the colour era.

The end of the monologue with the line, ‘Mann Se Ravan Jo Nikale Ram Uske Mann Mein Hain’ speaks a lot than it actually does. It translates in English to – The one who removes Ravan (evil) from his heart has only Ram (good) within him.

Javed Akhtar, the lyricist, has displayed the qualities of both Ram and Ravan in just 10 words! One can only expect a legend like him to come up with something like this. Anyone who is unaware about Ram and Ravan would be enlightened about their respective natures through just a single line. Singer Vijay Prakash, who sang that part, also shouldn’t be forgotten.

Before watching this film, very few would have associated SRK to feature in a song about Lord Ram. But Gowariker had other ideas and thankfully so. Apart from Khan, the only superstar actor to have played a hugely worshipped God in recent decades is Akshay Kumar. He played Lord Krishna in Umesh Shukla’s OMG! Oh My God (2012).

There is another hidden trivia or information in Swades that I have just noticed while writing this piece. SRK’s character is named Mohan who falls in love with Geeta, played by Joshi. Mohan is another name for Krishna. And Krishna is the one who is associated with his great gyan in the form of the Geeta.

And both Ram and Krishna (Mohan) are avatars of Vishnu.

But there is more to it. Krishna was born to Devaki but he grew up with his foster mother, Yashoda. In the movie, Mohan grows up with his foster mother, Kaveri amma, played by Kishori Balal.

Gowariker also featured Lord Krishna and his lover Radha’s love story in his earlier film, Lagaan (2001) in the song, ‘Radha Kaise Na Jale.’

By: Keyur Seta

Swami Vivekananda’s inspiring thoughts on India

Swami Vivekananda is one of the greatest spiritual gurus of the world. But he is also who can also be called a ‘Patriot Monk.’ His love, admiration and respect for his motherland shines brightly through volumes of his teachings.

Here are some of his inspiring thoughts on India on the occasion of Republic Day:

– I am proud that I am a countryman of yours. You the descendants of the sages, you the descendants of the most glorious Rishis the world ever saw. Therefore have faith in yourselves, be proud of your ancestors.

swami-vivekananda– Shall India die? Then from the world all spirituality will be extinct, all moral perfection will be extinct, all sweet-souled sympathy for religion will be extinct, all ideality will be extinct; and in its place will reign the duality of lust and luxury as the male and female deities, with money as its priest, fraud, force, and competition its ceremonies, and the human soul its sacrifice. Such a thing can never be.

– Once more the wheel is turning up, once more vibrations have been set in motion from India, which are destined at no distant day to reach the farthest limits of earth. Believe, believe, the decree has gone forth, the fiat of the Lord has gone forth – India must rise, the masses and the poor are to be made happy.

– India will be raised, not with the power of the flesh, but with the power of the spirit; not with the flag of destruction, but with the flag of peace and love, the garb of the Sannyasin; not by the power of wealth, but by the power of the begging bowl

– Let us all work hard, my brethren; this is no time for sleep. Do not figure out big plans at first, but begin slowly, feel the ground, and proceed. Up, up, the long night is passing, the day is approaching, the wave has risen, nothing will be able to resist its tidal fury.

– Let her New India arise – out of the peasants’ cottage, grasping the plough; out of the huts of the fisherman, the cobbler, and the sweeper. Let her spring from the grocer’s shop, from beside the oven of the fritter-seller. Let her emanate from the factory, from marts, and from markets. Let her emerge from groves and forests, from hills and mountains…

– Arise and awake and see her seated here on her eternal throne, rejuvenated, more glorious than she ever was – this Motherland of ours.

Guru Gobind Singh 350th Birth Anniversary: 15 facts about the 10th Sikh Guru

Today marks the 350th Birth Anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh ji. He was the 10th and the last Sikh Guru. His life is an ideal example of service to humanity and adherence to truth, even if it means laying down your own life. Here are 15 facts from Guru Gobind Singh ji’s life story on his 350th Birth Anniversary or Gurpurab (2017):

– He was born in Patna, Bihar in 1666.

– He was earlier named, Gobind Rai.

– He was considered a leader by his friends right during his childhood.

guru-gobind-singh
Picture: Pinterest

– During the time of his birth, his father, Guru Teg Bahadur was in Dhaka (then Bengal, now Bangladesh). He saw his child Gobind Rai for the first time when the latter was three years old.

– Guru Gobind Singh ji migrated to Anandpur, Punjab with his mother, Mata Gujri ji in 1671.

– Even during his childhood, he was well-versed in a number of languages like Hindi, Persian, Sanskrit and Brij Bhasha (along with his mother tongue Punjabi).

– Gobind Rai was only 10 years old when he was given the responsibility of leading the Sikhs by becoming their next Guru after the passing away of his father.

– Guru Gobind Singh ji not only became an expert in warfare (martial arts, sword fighting, etc) but also trained a large army of Sikhs to fight the oppressors in the form of Mugals and, at times, caste-conscious Hindus.

– Raja Bhim Chand of Kahlur and other rulers got insecure of Guru Gobind Singh ji and waged a war against him and the Sikhs in 1687. But the Sikhs fought valiantly and defeated the enemy forces.

guru-gobind-singh-ji
Guruji asking for heads (Picture: Gurbani.co)

– Guru Gobind Singh ji found the Khalsa Panth in a dramatic way in 1699. He took a sword and asked for the heads of the most beloved Sikhs. Although people were confused, five Sikhs came forward. The Guru took one inside and returned with a blood stained sword and continued the same exercise for all five followers. He later came out with all five of them and, highly satisfied with their faith and dedication, he honoured them as Panj Piara (five loved ones).

They became the heads of the Khalsa Panth. This is also how the slogan, “Wahe Guru Ji Da Khalsa, Wahe Guru Ji Di Fateh” was born. It translates in English to, “You are a pure soul created by Wahe Guru (God) and hail victory to him.”

– Guru Gobind Singh ji and his troops fought quite a few battles from here on. He lost his two elder sons in a battle against the Moghuls at Chamkour. His two younger sons were brutally killed by being buried alive straight in walls by Moghul emperor Wazir Khan in Sarhind. Soon thereafter, their mother passed away in custody.

guru-gobind-singh-ji-family
Guruji with family (Picture: PunjabiDharti.com)

– Despite losing his sons and wife, Guru Gobind Singh ji continued fighting battles against oppressors.

– In 1707, Guru Gobind Singh ji arrived at Nanded, Maharashtra where he came across Madhav Das, who became his follower and was named Gurbaksh Singh. He later came to be known as Banda Singh Bahadur.

– Over here, Guru Gobind Singh ji was attacked by a Pathan with a dagger when he was doing his prayers. But Guru ji managed to kill him but not before sustaining serious injuries. This is how Guru Gobind Singh ji merged with the Supreme.

– Before passing away, he announced that henceforth, Sikhs should worship the Guru not in a physical form but in the form of their religious book, Guru Granth Sahib.

Durga Puja 2016: Photos

By: Keyur Seta

Durga Puja or Durga Pujo is the time when the entire Bengal, especially Kolkata, comes alive. One can find unending Durga Pandals in the state, all boasting some elaborate. The final day of the Durga Puja, which is mostly referred to as Dusshera in most parts of India, celebrates the victory of Goddess Durga over the evil Mahishasura.

There is another significance of the day. Dusshera is also the day when Lord Ram killed the evil demon Ravana, who had kidnapped the former’s wife Sita. In short, the day celebrates the victory of good over evil.

Coming back to Durga Puja, the festival has been spreading a lot to other parts of India. Mumbai is a prime example. The Shivaji Park Durga Puja, organized by the Bengal Club, is also a sought after place during this time.

Here are some pictures from 2016 Durga Puja in Shivaji Park, Mumbai:

durga-puja-2016

durga-puja-shivaji-park

6 reasons why Krishna was the ideal Common Man

Lord Krishna is one of the most worshiped Gods in the world. His followers or devotees broadly associate him with values like, righteousness, wisdom, valor, innocent pranks, fearlessness, adherence to truth, etc.

But his simple way of life is hardly mentioned among his greatness. This comes as a huge surprise because his simplicity and humility were very much on display throughout his long life.

Here are some points indicating that Krishna was the ideal Common Man:

Krishna-Sudama
Krishna & Sudama (Picture: Hariharji.blogspot.com)

1) As a child, Krishna possessed miraculous powers through which he could easily kill demons or evil-doers. But not even once did he consider himself superior to others. He never had the attitude of ‘I am above the rest’ and considered people from all walks of life as his own. This is clearly seen from how he used to play or mingle with just any common citizen.

2) The name ‘Krishna’ is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Krishi’. It means ‘farmer’. Staying true to his name, Krishna happily carried out farming, despite the fact that he was a special being.

3) The story of Krishna and his friend Sudama also highlights his down-to-earth nature. Krishna greeted and welcomed his friend Sudama in the same manner as he used to do during their childhood despite achieving such Godly prominence.

4) When a war-like situation was developing between Pandavas and Kauravas, Krishna personally went to meet Duryodhana to convince him against fighting a war. He had no qualms in playing the role of a messenger.

5) In the great war of Mahabharata at Kurukshetra, Krishna decided to become the charioteer to Arjuna. In fact, he himself volunteered for it. He also followed Arjuna’s directions like an obedient charioteer when the latter asked him to take the chariot in between two warring camps.

Krishna and Arjun
Picture: vishalgosai.blogspot.in/

6) Among its various messages, the Bhagavad Gita, which was delivered by Krishna, preaches us to be non-materialistic or non-possessive. This is the biggest indication that Krishna not only himself believed in being a Common Man, but also wanted us to be one.

Through these points, Krishna teaches us that one should stay humble even if he happens to be the God of the universe. So, if the God himself didn’t practice high-handedness, who are we to think high about ourselves?

But a lot of his devotees I come across practice just the opposite. They keep chanting the holy name of Krishna, but are forever concerned about material possessions. Not just that, they even love to flaunt their ‘Social Status’ by spending abnormally. Naturally, these class-conscious people hate mingling with people from the so-called lowly professions.

By: Keyur Seta