Monday, September 28, 2009

Shubho Bijoya and a very Happy Dussehra/Vijayadashami... !!!

Well, today is Dussehra... and we, i.e., those of us who are in and from the eastern part of India... including the diaspora, spread over the whole wide world celebrate Bijoya/Bijoya Dashami... also called, Vijayadashami ('Bijoya' or 'Vijaya' implies 'Victory' and 'Dashami' implies '10' - i.e., the days of the battle). Also known as 'Dasara', 'Dussehra', Dashahara, Navaratri and Durgotsav... [(Bengali: দশেরা, Kannada: ದಸರ, Malayalam: ദസറ, Marathi: दसरा, Telugu: దసరా and 'Dashain' (in Nepali) and 'Mohani Nakha' in the language of the Newar community of Nepal.]

It signifies the triumph of good over evil. The day Shri
Ram returned to Ayodhya (along with his consort Sita and brother Lakshman) after vanquishing and slaying Ravana (the Rakshasa [Asura] monarch of Lanka), and also the day when Goddess Durga along with her daughters (Lakshmi and Saraswati) and sons (Sri Ganesha and Karthikeya)... leaves for her marital home... in the Kailash, which is also the abode of her consort, Lord Shiva. But not before slaying the terrible demon "Mahisasura", who terrorized the earth... and took on several disguises including that of a brutal buffalo... to fight the goddess.

Kolkata (Calcutta) celebrates Durga Puja with overwhelming and unbelievable energy and dynamism. Every Bengali away from home, no matter which part of the world he/she might be in, long to hear the familiar sound of the 'Dhak', be with his/her family and feel the festive spirit of Durga Puja. Sharat's clear blue skies with their fleecy white clouds, the golden sunshine, the swiveling of the white 'Kash phool' in the gentle autumn breeze, grass blades heavily laden with the morning dew, the mild fragrance of the 'Shiuli phool', the sound of the 'Dhak' (YouTube
link), the 'Dhaker ladai' (YouTube link), the 'Dhunuchi naach'. A 'dhunuchi' is an earthen pot with a funnel base and an open top. Burning coal, charcoal and dried coconut shell is kept inside this pot... then powdered incense, known as 'dhuno'... is poured over it. A sweet smelling thick white smoke emanates from this... spreads and engulfs your senses. Then with the 'dhakis' (drummers, people who beat the 'dhak') going on a frenzy with their drum beats, the 'dhunuchi dancers' balance the earthen pots, with the base delicately placed on their foreheads. Then they gyrate their bodies to the beat of the 'dhak' keeping the 'dhunuchis' on their foreheads, burning coal and all. Some of them hold an additional couple of 'dhunuchis' with their hands too... while a few even try to manoeuvre one with their leg! It has to be seen to be believed... !!! (YouTube link). The feverish preparations for the Pujas, gifts, good food, and plans for the long 'adda' sessions with friends and family... bring joy to the hearts of all Bengalis as the promise of another auspicious period draws near. This is the time when Bengalis start counting the days for 'Devi Bandana'. Then comes the 'Agamani' - 'Mahalaya'. The 'dhak' is truly the art of Bengal's heart. Just the sound of the beating of the 'dhak'... during the pujas... would make most of us ('probashi bangali') want to run all the way to Bengal and/or Kolkata. Sample this: Link. Simply awesome!!

Durga Puja, the festival of the Bengalis/Assamese/Oriyas/Tripuraites/Nepalis... is the worship of 'Shakti' or the 'divine power'. Most of the religious celebrations in the world have legends surrounding them. The fables are generally of the 'fight between the good and the evil', the dark forces eventually succumbing to the divine. The worship of Goddess Durga is based on mythology too... where Durga symbolizes the divine power (I intend to narrate this story in my next post). Seven days before Her arrival starts the 'Devipaksha' (Debi Pokkho). The day is observed as 'Mahalaya' - the day of invocation. In the dark night of 'amabasya' (new moon), people pray to Goddess Durga to descend on earth to ward off all evils. On the dawn of 'Mahalaya', homes in Bengal resonate with the immortal verses of the 'Chandipath' (chanting of the hymns of 'Chandi'). You can read my 100th post which contains the links to an abridged audio/visual presentation of an All India Radio Recording - "Mahalaya -Mahisasuramardini" (Annihilation of the Demon Mahisasura): HERE. The legendary
Birendra Krishna Bhadra has long passed away, but his recorded voice still forms the core of the "Mahalaya" program.

We worship Durga as the mother goddess, the epitome of '
Shakti' (divine power), to deliver us from the evil and bring peace and prosperity in our lives. But the most interesting part of Durga Puja is that, instead of placing Durga on a high alter and worshipping her from a distance... the people of Bengal/Assam/Tripura/Orissa embrace her in their hearts and make her an inseparable member of the family. Goddess Durga is welcomed on the earth as our daughter who visits her parents' home annually.

For these 10 days... she descends on earth... (and stays for four days - on Shashti, Saptami, Ashtami and Nabami) visiting her maternal home in the Himalayas (she being the daughter of Himalaya)... along with her children and her two 'sakhis' - Jaya and Vijaya, during the season of 'Sharatkal' (Ashvin) or 'autumn' when Durga-Puja is celebrated. Thus the other name of 'Durga-puja' is 'Sharodotshob'. Durga as the consort of Lord Shiva represents two forms of female energy - one mild and protective and the other fierce and destructive. Though the sojourn of Goddess Durga on earth starts from the first day of Navaratri... for others, the Bengali community celebrates the arrival from Maha Panchami evening, the fifth day after the new-moon, when the idol of the Goddess along with Ganesh, Kartikeya, Saraswati and Lakshmi are brought to the puja pandal.

She is supposed to have arrived on a palanquin this year (2009)... and is going back riding on an elephant. There are symbolisms involved here. Durga's mode of journey to the earth is detailed in the scriptures. The modes: an elephant, a horse, palanquin and boat... all signify luck or omen which influence the life on earth. The elephant signifies prosperity and good harvest while journey on a horse back indicates drought, a palanquin spells wide spread epidemic and the boat suggests flood and misery.

For the bengali, oriya, assamese, tripurite and the nepali community... amidst festivity and huge enthusiasm the five-day Durga Puja... ended today here and elsewhere in the country with the observance of 'Bijoya Dashami' and the immersion of the idols of Goddess Durga. For these five days the entire area/locality wore a festive look and today, the fifth and the last day of the puja, specially in the evening... hundreds or maybe thousands of devotees marched in a procession towards the various lakes, ponds and rivers... to immerse the deities. Dancing to the beat of the drums/dhaks, blowing of the 'shankha' (conch shells) and burning of 'dhup' (incense), thousands of devotees, mostly the youth, irrespective of gender, leave (in the evening) in a procession of several trucks carrying the images of Durga (and her children) for the immersion rituals. Girls/women are not allowed to board the trucks though. Ironic... isn't it... ?!!

The last day of the 'Sharodiya Durga Puja' is known as 'Bijoya Dashami'. After the last ritual 'Aparajita Puja' is offered to the Goddess, a pall of gloom descends upon one and all... as people bid a tearful farewell (to devi Durga). In Orissa, the women offer Dahi-Pakhal (cooked rice soaked in water and curd), Pitha (pan cake), Mitha (sweets) and Fish fry to the devi. Most of the community pujas postpone the farewell as long as possible and arrange a grand send-off. People are sad... as they have to bid farewell to the divine mother. For most people, the immersion at the end of the Durga Puja festival is like parting with a member of the family after five days of praying, feasting and merry-making at the marquees/pandals/mandops across the city that housed the idols.

Married women engage in 'Sindoor Khela' (literally, Vermilion game)... by applying vermilion on each other's foreheads. After/before the 'bisorjon', married women take part in the 'sindoor khela'... by doing the 'arati' and saluting the goddess with vermilion (on her head and forehead), betel leaf and sweets (to her lips). They then wipe the devi's eyes... as one wipes off one's tears when leaving the place of a loved one. This event is called the "Durga Baran". The women then smear each other with vermilion. It is (or used to be) a Bengali custom for married women to apply sindoor on each other when one of them was leaving; the Devi is bid farewell the same way. So, before "Ma" leaves, married women of all age groups visit the nearby pandal to take part in this emotional ritual where vermilion (sindoor), is applied on the parting-line of each other's hair (also called 'mang'). The 'loha' (the metal and gold bracelet given to the bride by the mother-in-law) and 'pala'/'sannbha' (the red and white bangles worn by many married Bengali women) are also touched with the sindoor (this is called 'touching the loha'). Then sindoor is applied by the women and the priest on the forehead of the goddess. As per bengali custom, a mother-in-law gives an iron bangle interlaced with gold or silver to a new bride as the first gift, a token of 'suhag', which the daughter-in-law wears all her life. The ritual of applying sindoor can also take place at home when Bijoya Dashami is celebrated with family members.

Thereafter, the idols are carried in a procession known as 'Bhashan Jatra' or 'Bisorjon Jatra' around the 'para' or 'locality'... amid hollering crowds and the frenzied beating of drums/dhaks... and is finally immersed in a nearby river, pond or lake. Emotionally-charged chants (in Bengali) of "Hail the mother goddess! She'll return next year!" reverberate across the place of immersion and indeed across entire localities. In Orissa, after the immersion of the idols, people across the state celebrate "Ravan Podi" (burning of a huge effigy of the rakshasa king Ravana). Here is a YouTube video of 'Durga Puja Sindoor Khela and Bisarjon': Link.

After the immersion ceremony, Bengalis visit each others homes to wish their loved ones "Shubho Bijoya". The children touch the feet of their elders (pronam) as an expression of respect towards them. Similarly, adults embrace each other with heartfelt good wishes, which in Bengali is known as 'Kolakuli'. It is a time to visit friends, neighbours, relatives and loved ones and offer sweets and other delicious eatables to each other. This is a celebration of the 'triumph of good over evil' as well as a gesture/wish that may the coming year be sweet and prosperous for everyone. It is a time for family reunions, to renew kinship with friends and relatives amid much laughter and 'adda'... to the accompaniment of delicious food, of course!

For these five days of the pujas... 'pandal hopping' is a major activity/attraction. It involves visiting as many pujas as possible along with family and friends. Plus eating the delicious food sold at the various stalls erected there. Even the 'bhog' (the prasad) is much sought after. It consistes of
khichuri (khichdi) along with a curry (usually a potato curry or a mixed vegetable curry), tomato chutney or pineapple chutney and sweets (usually melt-in-the-mouth rosogollas). Ummm... I am beginning to feel hungry, already!

I too went 'pandal hopping' on 'ashtami' (the 8th day) and 'nabami' (the 9th day). This time there were 38 pandals celebrating the Durga puja throughout Bangalore. But more importantly, this is the 60th year of the Durga Puja celebrations in Bangalore. I went to the Bengali Association (Ulsoor) puja at the RBANMS grounds... on 'ashtami' (it was the 50th year of the pujas here... the golden jubilee celebrations... quite a landmark! They incidently hold the biggest puja in Bangalore...) and to the 'Jayamahal Sarbojonin Durga Puja' at Jayamahal (it is 54 years and counting... the 2nd biggest puja in Bangalore, you'd never want to miss it... here is their
blog), the one at Sanjay Nagar (Antaranga Bengali Cultural Association) and finally the puja at R.T. Nagar on 'nabami'. It was a wonderful and memorable experience. I'll cherish it for a long, long time. The folks at the Sanjay Nagar puja... offered us 'prasad'... consisting of fruits and 'narkel nadu'... the super delicious, mouth watering and my all time favourite sweet/laddu made of coconut gratings and jaggery! I will surely visit that pandal again next year. Can't wait for the pujas to commence again!!! Plus a wonderful friend blogger or FB, the Indian Pundit has uploaded a lot of pics of the pujas in faraway Kolkata. It was great to view the pujas from the bengali heartland... sitting thousands of miles away. You can view the pics here and here.

Another attraction for me to visit the Ulsoor Bengali Association puja... is the 'Kolkata Book Fair' held there. This fair is actually a temporary book shop... set up exclusively for these 4-5 days of the pujas... every year. And a great source for buying books written by popular bengali authors... since bengali books are hard to come by... in Bangal-ore/Bengal-uru. In 2007, I had bought 45 books, last year the number was 35 and this year... try as I might... I could not beat the 2007 figure. I ended up buying 'only' 35 books this time too. I was intending to score a half century... ! Sigh!

With the immersions, Goddess Durga and her children depart, leaving the devotees with memories of five fun-filled days and a yearning for next year's festivities. They say, 'time flies'. Therefore... "Asche bochchor aabar hobe"... ! Meaning: "Hail the mother goddess! She'll return next year!" Goddess Durga will be back next year, of course. But Durga is just one manifestation of 'Shakti', the consort of Lord Shiva. Shakti will be back as "Ma Kali" in about 20 days' time.
Kali puja occurs during Diwali (the festival of lights). I have just found out about a place/organisation called the 'Bangalore Kalibadi' and I intend to go there during the Kali puja... in barely 2 weeks' time. And kojagori Lakshmi puja - the worship of Goddess Lakshmi on Kojagori Full Moon Night (Amavasya) - begins in barely 5 days time... therefore... it is "baro mashe tero parbon"... !!! This is a popular bengali saying/proverb, which literally translates as: In twelve months, thirteen festivals... i.e., we have 13 festivals in 12 months. Meaning: A superabundance of occasions for celebration(s)... !!!

Shubho Bijoya, everybody! May the goddess shower her choicest blessings on you and your family!

Note: Some info gathered, courtesy: Wikipedia.

'Kojagori': the term literally means "who is awake" and devotees are not supposed to sleep.


1. A painting of Goddess Durga. (Pic courtesy:

2. Kash Phool (Pic Courtesy:

3. Shiuli phool - These flowers mark the arrival of Autumn and Durga puja. They have a mild fragrance and are white in colour with an orange stalk... and bloom in the months of Sept.-Oct. The flowers bloom in the wee hours of the morning and spread their heady fragrance everywhere. They fall from the trees due to the dew drops at dawn. People usually pick them up from the ground, place them in bowls and keep indoors... to have that lovely fragrance in their homes. (Courtesy:

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Awards Galore! Yayyy! The more, the merrier... !!!

This is my 101st post! And... offlate... it's been raining nay pouring awards... !!! *I'm beaming*

Note: Today is Maha Nabami. I would like to avail myself of this opportunity to extend greetings and wish you all a very Happy and Shubho Nabami/Navaratri/Dussehra!

Now... for the awards. The indefatigable blogger, Shilpa has very generously presented me with the 'Humane Award' on August 26th. 'Humane' as being characterized by kindness, mercy, or compassion; marked by an emphasis on humanistic values and concerns. Wow!!! While the Indian Pundit has honoured me with the 'One lovely blog award' on August 29th. I must state here that... the 'untiring' Shilpa has finally overcome her 'good' habit of posting 'one blog a day'... and joined the legions of us 'mere mortals'. She is at the moment busy catching her breath... and no longer denying her 'overworked and underpaid' blog the much needed rest and some well deserved sleep...! Compensation.. at last! Her lungs, brain and fingers too... must be feeling grateful...! *hee hee*

Kaddu has presented me with the 'Humane Award' on Sept. 6th. That makes it 2 Humane Awards for me. Yippieeeee!!! To quote her citation: "But, I'm going to do it in a slightly different way! I am, after all, Kaddu! :D Therefore, I'm giving this Award to all those of my blog friends who seem more like Aliens! :D ....... Enjoy your moment of Glory, Aliens! :D" Hmmm. I accepted the award and delivered or rather wrote my 'acceptance speech' in 'human-speak' and not in 'alien-speak'... (for Kaddu's benefit, silly!!!)... a full 2 weeks later!

Kaddu's response: OYE! You are receiving this Award NOW... 2 weeks after you got it! :O And I thought I was the only one who disappeared off the Blogosphere! What have u been up to then girl?
Me: I'm an 'alien'... right!!! We always receive awards 2 weeks later. Tradition, you see! ;)
Kaddu: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! =))

Sobhit has given me several awards. On Sept. 12th... the 'Superior Scribbler' award. On Sept. 19th... the 'I Love Your Blog' award and the 'One Lovely Blog Award'. On Sept. 17th, Shilpa has once again honoured me with an award. This time with the 'I love Your Blog' award... while, Dmanji aka Dhiman has bestowed me with three awards: 1. Superior Scribbler Award 2. SWANK Award and 3. Blog Buddies Award on Sept. 20th.

The 'Officer and a Gentleman' butterfly aka Ashwin Baindur of the butterfly diaries fame... have very graciously honoured me with the 'Superior Scribbler Award' on Sept. 26th. To quote him: Shince ve ar awl Indian and my blohg, excuz pliss, is of naturalist caste, you know...

So though I am enjaying sew menny good blogs – by penniless Roshni-amma, Gilpa (Rosie) Sharg, Mr farce, Miss-tedious Kadduji, LS didi, ty ‘notso’ nice, the finer noisy note and so menny udders...

the awards naturally going to these blogs...

(long roll of drumbeats....)

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you........! I am absolutely delighted! That reminds me... I have got to find a place to 'display' all of them... on my blog. Quite a tall order, I must say! btw, I absolutely love the honour of being a "Tag Queen", which I share with Shilpa (despite the fact that, offlate I have quite a few tags... pending. I hope to get cracking at them... soon). Thank you Dhiman for the honour!! May your "Tag Dasa" continue for a long, long time... unabated. *wink! wink!*

Please note... I'm taking a bow. *clap! clap! clap!* *drumroll! drumroll!*

I am required to pass on all these awards to deserving bloggers or FBs... and I intend to do that honour in my next post (there are some 'rules and regulations' to be mentioned as well... you see!)

The other day... I was reading one of Kaddu aka the "miss_teerious" girl's post... titled: Farming in Germany!!! You can read it here.

She has become quite a pro at 'farming'... and hugely addicted to it too...!! Not the variety which involves bullocks, plough or a tractor, silly! This is an online 'game'... 'FarmVille'. I decided to leave a comment, which received a prompt response from her... to which I too responded immediately. See! Promptness... is in my blood... nay in the marrow of my bones. Ummm, okie dokie... in my genes!!! And so it went... for a while. Let me give you a 'glimpse' aka 'trailer'... therefore, I quote from her post:

I have been like this since I was a little kid. I do things in "fits". When I get involved in something, I give ALL of myself to it, and I find it very difficult to divert my attention to something else at that time! And right now, my entire attention is focused on my new Hobby -- Farming -- and my German Language Course.

Today, we had our very first test in this course. And guess what! I scored 49.5 out of 50 in this test! :D It turns out that I broke all past records in the Institute. My Teacher tells me that nobody has scored so high on any of her tests till now! :D

One of her old students, who is currently doing the Second Level of the course, took this test again with us, because he's preparing to give the International Certification Exam conducted by Max Mueller Bhavan (or Goethe-Institut, as it is known internationally)... and he scored a 46! :D

Well, this German Course will be done before Diwali, as our Teacher is leaving for Germany right after Diwali, and won't be back till end of December! And hopefully, my fit of farming will also be over by then! These days I seem to work on 2-lane tracks apparently! When I was studying for my PGDBA exams, I was full-fledgedly into blogging too simultaneously! And with the Java Certification preparation, I was more into playing Mahjong in my "breaks"! German seems to have paired up with FarmVille I guess!

Now for our little exchange of 'comments'...

Me: According to Swami Vivekananda... there is no such thing as 'talent'. It is only a 'mark' of our previous births...

Hence... you were a true blue german in your previous birth aka 'avatar'... QED! ;)

Kaddu: Oh Wow! That's a nice thought! So I guess I'm only revising it all right now then? Hmmm! I wonder if I was a real German Farmer in any of my previous births then!

Me: Absolutely!!! And you lived right next door... to Einstein! ;)

Kaddu: LOL! He was born in 1879, and I was born in 1978. Just 2 digits interchange their place! :D :p He he!

Me: QED... again!!!

Kaddu: Ha ha! Ok ok! I got it! I was a German in some previous birth, and I apparently have some connection with Einstein! :D

Roshmi: "I was a German in some previous birth, and I apparently have some connection with Einstein!"


'Some previous birth'... ???? Naaaaa!!!!

In your birth prior to the current one... you were a german who had Einstein for a neighbour... Got it... ??!!

Hence, you're scoring so highly in that 'foreign' language while simultaneously doing several other courses!!!

Kaddu: Ha ha! Ok ok lady! Got it! In my last birth, I was a German living next door to Einstein! LOL! Because of your "Albert Einstein" funda, I even ended up playing some dame called "Alberta" in our little 2-min skit we did in German today, at the instt.! :D

Meanwhile... another blogger (Dazediva) comments:

Dazediva: You are hilarious ! So now you are a reborn German Farmer with a hot air balloon ?? Why is that even on a farm or is that part of the service :P

But seriously - you have a pretty looking farm .. I'm not a part of farmville - don't want to be either but good farm baby hehehe

Oh and I took German classes yeaaaars ago .. Guten Nacht :)

Kaddu: I have no idea yaar! And it even has a black sheep sitting in the basket! Maybe it's meant to be used in place of a helicopter, for spraying fertilizers or something you know... from the air!

Oh and all credit for my rebirth goes to Roshmi! LOL!

You should see the Villa they have on sale in the FarmVille Market... it's gorgeous! And it's also very expensive! 1,500,000 bucks! I only have a Farm House at the moment! Need to earn a LOTTTTTTT of money before I can buy that Villa!

Ok so do u remember more of German? I really cud do with some practice.

Me: See!!! More 'coincidences'... to 'reinforce' it...! QED

Kaddu: :D

See! Finally Kaddu's 'dimag ki batti jal gayi'... without resorting to or munching on 'chlormint'... !!! *wink! wink!*

How did I know that... she is 'addicted' to 'farming'... ??? Well... sample this:

Me: Oye! No response yet... after soooo many days... ??!! What are you up to... ???

Kaddu: :D

Farming! :p

Now... are you too convinced... ??? See! I told you...


Pics of all the awards garnered by this blog :)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Reaching that magical mark... 100/not out!!!

Well, this is my 100th post. I have finally reached that magical mark... that three digit figure... 100. Wow! After some months of sustained blogging... and a few of being 'irregularly regular' or 'regularly irregular'... as a blogger, that is... I have finally scored a 'century'. And it feels great! I'm on top of the world... !!! Borrowing a word from among the several ones... mouthed by the great Shammi Kapoor's character... in the superhit movie "Junglee"... let me also proclaim... "Yahoooo... !!!"

Author's Note: Incase you are wondering about the picture here... it is an image provided by NASA (released Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009) taken by the refurbished Hubble Space Telescope, showing Colorful Stars Galore Inside Globular Star Cluster Omega Centauri. I felt this was an apt photo... for the occasion, my 100th post... "Chand taaron ko chhune ki asha, aasmaano mein udne ki asha... "

I was wondering, what to write... for this post... since it got to be something special, something memorable. After all, it is not everyday that one gets to write their 100th post... what say... ?!! After some thought, I decided to go with a poem by the great English poet, Romantic, literary critic and philosopher who, with his friend William Wordsworth, was one of the founders of the Romantic Movement in England and one of the Lake Poets. I refer to Samuel Taylor Coleridge (21 October 1772 – 25 July 1834). He is probably best known for his poems The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla Khan, as well as his major prose work Biographia Literaria. His critical work, especially on Shakespeare, is highly influential, and he helped introduce German idealist philosophy to English-speaking culture. A paragraph from his longest major poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner - which along with other poems in Lyrical Ballads, was a signal shift to modern poetry, and the beginnings of British Romantic literature - is as follows:

Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.

But, this is not the poem... I referred to earlier. I'm talking about... "What If You Slept?". It's a magnificient poem... like a beautiful dream. Imagine a wonderful fantasy, like some very beautiful dream, coming true?! Miracles are not confined to a certain age, they can happen anywhere, any time... without prior intimation/notification. Normally, 'seeing is believing'. But sometimes... when the imagination is very, very, strong, it becomes or achieves the opposite... and then, 'believing is seeing'. Thereafter... believing or belief becomes more strong than anything else. Such is the power of imagination, the power of belief, the power of faith... and ultimately, the power of the divine. So, celebrate each and every day of your life... 'coz life is the greatest of all miracles. The journey is the reward... be thankful for every challenge and opportunity. Be an optimist... no matter what. "The optimist says we are made of stardust. The pessimist says we are made of the nuclear waste of burned-out stars." (Primack and Abrams)

The poem "What If You Slept?" is as follows:

What if you slept?

And what if,
In your sleep
You dreamed?

And what if,
In your dream,
You went to heaven
And there plucked
A strange and
Beautiful flower?

And what if,
When you awoke,
You had that flower in you hand?
.... Ah, what then?

..... What then, indeed... ???

The poet has a great power of imagination... no doubt. It reminds me of many a childhood fantasy book that would almost have readers believe "it was all just a dream" - were it not for the mud on the shoes, a bruised knee, the gift boxes, a jingle bell under the Christmas tree. I always liked that reassurance that, in spite of the big old "fiction" label.... the story was real. No wonder then that, "Harry Potter"... a series of seven fantasy novels written by the British author J. K. Rowling sells amazingly... around the world, while so many readers feel cheated by "Atonement", "Life of Pi", and other such novels with wildly unreliable narrators. There will never be any dearth of readers for: Gulliver's Travels, Hansel and Gretel, The Three Little Pigs, Alice in Wonderland, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, Snow White and Red Rose, Robin Hood, The Phantom series, Tintin, Asterix and Obelix, Tinkle, Amar Chitra Katha (ACK), Malgudi Days, Ruskin Bond's novels, short stories, novellas, including his ever-popular Rusty stories. Well, I could go on and on and on. We want so hard to believe. We want to wake up from our reading trance and find relics of what we've read... left in our hands. To quote, Meister Eckhart, the 14th-century German theologian, philosopher and mystic: "When the soul wishes to experience something she throws an image of the experience out before her and enters into her own image."

The American poet Coleman Barks said and I quote: "The Sufis say the great world is the inner world, and the outer world of stores and restaurants and nations and three hundred billion galaxies is the small world. The inner world is your awareness. The outer is a kind of language for your inner. [With] that reversal, you can't shoot a weapon into a place where four hundred people are if you think the great world is the inner world and each of those people is housing a treasure of consciousness." Although he neither speaks nor reads Persian, he is nonetheless renowned as an interpreter of Rumi and other mystic poets of Persia (he bases his translations entirely on other English translations of Rumi). Barks' work has contributed to an extremely strong following of Rumi in the English-speaking world. Due to his work, the ideas of Sufism have crossed many cultural boundaries over the past few decades.

To quote Meister Eckhart again: "The eye with which I see God is the same with which God sees me. My eye and God's eye is one eye, and one sight, and one knowledge, and one love." and "If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, 'Thank You', that would suffice." I second that. Completely!

The other day I was watching "Troy" on TV. Its a fabulous epic film, loosely based on Homer's Iliad, besides material from Virgil's Aeneid and other sources of the Epic Cycle, (even though it frequently diverges from myth)... and has a great song in the end, for the film's end credits. You can listen to that amazing song "Remember" (with subtitles) from "Troy"... HERE. Sung by the Grammy-nominated American singer-songwriter Josh Groban. He has also performed the song "Remember" (with additional vocals by Tanja Tzarovska, lyricist Cynthia Weil) on the Troy soundtrack.

I have much to be happy about and I'm smiling. I found my posts being of some use to my readers. Here is an example. One of my readers from the Asia Pacific region... wrote this on his blog: "I guess all of us know the song "Jai Ho" from the movie Slumdog Millionaire... I have been wondering what that song really means... That is why I would like to thank this blogger for posting this information:" Then my post on "Jai Ho" follows. Here is the link. *a big smile* I also found my post on the decade of the Kargil War featured on Sulekha. Here is the link. *I'm beaming* My blog's IndiRank is at 80 now. It was 80 last month as well and 77 before that. IndiRank is a system that the folks at IndiBlogger have built to rank the blogs in the IndiBlogger network. It's like runs in a game of cricket - the higher the score, the higher ranking you (i.e., your blog) have. Blogs are ranked on a scale of 1-100. So, 80 is a pretty good score, right... ?!! My blog is an eclectic mix (as you can figure out from the 'labels' column) and till date... it has had 12,000 page views from visitors/readers spread across 84 countries... touching each and every continent. With the exception of some inhabitants from the Arctic region and the continent of Antarctica... for obvious reasons! Penguins, Polar bears, seals, muskox and reindeer... don't blog. They love to surf... but that is of a different kind! A big Thank You... to all my readers. You Rock!

A Note on Sulekha: In 1998, Satya Prabhakar created a simple website to publish the articles written by Indians from around the world. Since its inception, Sulekha ( New Media Pvt Ltd.) has become one of the biggest online communities for Indians worldwide and has a strong reach amongst online Indians and NRIs in about 60 cities. Today, Sulekha has developed into a global Internet franchise serving Indians through a portfolio of services such as: online Yellow Pages, online Classifieds, Print Classifieds, Movies/Event Ticketing, and Business-to-Business (B2B). The website is divided into different sub-domains such as Yellow pages, Classifieds, Blogs, News, cities and food. Each of these are run by completely different teams. More sub-domains such as packers and movers, interior designing, etc., have been developed to cater to the needs of people looking for services in those categories. Towards the end of 2008, Sulekha began offering stock options, i.e., ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Program) to its employees. It is headquartered in Chennai, India with offices in Bangalore, New Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai. They also have offices in the USA at Seattle, Austin. According to Alexa, Sulekha ranks in the top 35 Indian web portals and is ranked 612 on Alexa.

Now, for the awards. Offlate... it's been raining nay pouring awards... !!! *a very satisfied smile* But... I'll talk about them in greater detail... in my next post.

Please note... I'm taking a bow. *clap! clap! clap!*

We are already into the festival season... with Navaratri/Dussehra/Durga Puja being celebrated with full enthusiasm and traditional fervour. Hence, I'll end this momentous post with the links to an abridged audio/visual presentation of an All India Radio Recording - "Mahalaya -Mahisasuramardini" (Annihilation of the Demon Mahisasura). An oratorio invoking the Goddess Durga (through Sanskrit chants and Bengali devotional songs). The most perfect rendering of the shlokas were by the evergreen Birendra Krishna Bhadra - the magical voice behind the "Mahishashura Mardini"* - while the enchanting music was composed by the immortal Pankaj Kumar Mallick.

The legendary narrator recites the holy verses and tells the story of the descent of devi Durga to earth - and describes the epic battle of goddess Durga with the demon king Mahishashura - in his inimitable style, mesmerizing every household with the divine aura of his narration, as the Bengalis submerge their souls in quiet moments of prayer. Divine, enchanting and beautiful! You will be transported to another realm of the universe... while listening to this recitation. As the recital begins, the serene morning air resonates with the long drawn sound of the sacred conch shell, immediately followed by a chorus of invocation, melodiously setting the stage for the recitation of the "Chandi Mantra". Don't miss out.

Note: Some info gathered, courtesy Wikipedia. Quotes, courtesy: Wikiquote and

Some great quotes from Joel Primack and Nancy Abrams' book, "The View from the Center of the Universe" can be found: here. Their website:

* Bhadra has long passed away, but his recorded voice still forms the core of the "Mahalaya" program. "Mahisasura Mardini" (Bengali: মহিষাসুরমর্দিনী, The Annihilation of the Demon) is a hugely popular early radio programme that has been broadcasted since 1930 in All India Radio (AIR). This program is a beautiful two-hour audio montage of "Chandipath" (chanting from Chandi) recitation from the scriptural verses of Sri Sri Chandi or Durga Saptashati, Bengali devotional songs, classical music and a dash of acoustic melodrama. The program has also been translated into Hindi, set to similar orchestration and is broadcast at the same time for a pan-Indian audience.

"Mahisasura Mardini" is a remarkable piece of audio drama matchless in Indian culture. Though the theme is mythical and the mantras Vedic, this program is a landmark composition. It's scripted by Bani Kumar, and narrated by Bhadra while Dijen Mukhopadhya, Manobendra Mukhopadhya ("Tabo Achinta..."), Sandhya Mukhopadhya, Arati Mukhopadhya, Utpala Sen, Shyamal Mitra and Supriti Ghosh ("Bajlo tomar alor benu...") sang in their melodious voices. The songs are rendered by famous singers of yesteryears, including the peerless Hemant Kumar and Arati Mukherjee.

In the year 1930, "Mahalaya" was first broadcasted over the radio in Akashvani. The programme was organised by Premankur Aatorthi, Birendra Krishna Bhadra, Nripendra Krishna Mukhopadhya and Raichand Boral. The programme, which started off as a live-performance has been broadcast in its pre-recorded format since the late nineteen-sixties. However, its great popularity remains undiminished even till this day. Bhadra's rendition, "Mahisasura Mardini", is still played by All India Radio, every "Mahalaya", marking the beginning of the Durga Puja festivities. This program has almost become synonymous with "Mahalaya", also called "Debipakhsha". For nearly six decades from 1930... till now, the whole of Bengal rises up in the chilly pre-dawn hours, at 4 a.m. in the morning to be precise, on the "Mahalaya" day to tune in to the "Mahisasura Mardini" broadcast.


This undated handout image provided by NASA, released Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009, taken by the refurbished Hubble Space Telescope, shows Colorful Stars Galore Inside Globular Star Cluster Omega Centauri. (AP Photo) The link can be found: here.