Saturday, October 30, 2010


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Rangoli tradition is supposed to originate from " Chitralakshana'-the collection of writings on paintings in India.

Friday, October 29, 2010


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The next stop of our yatra was Varanasi,a city which has been continuosly inhabited since  ages.We were in train & in air conditioned comfort.oing piuja.Now,we were in the plains & so the topography had changed.There was elephant grass from which mats are made .Thse mats are used as asans for performing holy rituals.

We reached Benares in the afternoon.At the auto stand itself, there was a big argument. My jeth phoned his travel agent in Bangalore who had booked rooms for us at a hotel.The hotel name was heard as Van Shri .The rikshaw wallahs insisted that the said hotel was very far. My jeth said  that it was just a stone's throw away from the station.Since we were getting stranded at the station without the argument coming to an end,we requested that we be transported in the autos to the hotel with our extensive bags .We were on our way & we indeed found that the hotel was very near but there was a hitch. The hotel 's name was Vani Shree. The auto wallahs had a good laugh as they repeated that my jeth had named another hotel .In all this fight,I had to intervene as my jeth cannot speak nor understand Hindi & obviously the rickshaw drivers do not know Kannada or Tamil. Since ,I know both Hindi & Kannada,I was the bridge over troubled waters.

We went to our allotted rooms .There was no question of partaking any food in the hotel as it served non-vegetarain food .By the time,we finished bath, it was evening.We decided to visit the Kashi Vishwanath temple.There were some auto wallahas who were attached to the hotel.They warned us that as it had rained heavily the last night,there was water logging all over the city & hence traffic would be so slow that it was futile to visit the temple.Then my hubby & his brother decided to go to a nearby hotel to pick up some idlis for all us to feed as all were famished.Idlis were accordingly brought & gulped down in no time.

Now,my hubby suggested that the men should visit the Kashi Vishwanath temple that day itself as the next day,the men would be busy in the tithi ritual ( shradha ).So,I was to accompany my hubby & his three brothers to the temple.I was needed to translate & make conversation understandable.We went by the same autos who were telling us that "Any road repairs including laying of drains yields results very late ( if ever it does,that is ) as this is U.P.-Maya nagari !"My visit alongwith the men was not taken too kindly by the other females but they just kept quiet as they did not want to question their hubbies.All were feeling that I was acting very smart because I knew Hindi .

As the Ayodhya verdict was going to be announced in a few days,there was a lot of security at the temple.We were told to deposit our belongings in private lockers available at the entrance & proceed inside.We had darshan & almost emptied our pockets of cash.Cash is allowed past all security ! Maybe, if there is no cash,all entry would have  been banned.We are all Vaishnavas & so how did we visit this temple.Well,it is said that the Kashi Vishvanath Emple is worshipping Vishnu in Linga form ! The Shiv linga is actually a saligrama in linga form.So,that's how we were visiting the temple.Or so ,we Vaishnavas would like all to believe.I was glad that I was able to visit the famed temple of Kashi-Shiva or Vishnu does not matter.But I am impressed with this that  Vishnu is worshipped in the linga form at Varanasi Vishwanth temple.If I possessed even an iota of this imagination ,I would have made a name for myself in the literary world ! Then we wound our way to the Annapurna Devi temple .& had a darshan.

I must mention here that Kashi is a very dirty city.All along the path or paths one takes to visit any temple,one comes across heaps of garbage piled up.I wish all pilgrims could atleast try not to make the city more dirty.After one looks at all the dirt around whatever pious thoughts that have arisen die a quick death.One just wishes to just look at the idols & makes hasty retreats.otherwise,the visits to Benares would be futile .I believe that the retail revolution in sachets is making us generate rubbish in wholesale ! Varansi locals are also extremely fond of paan .In addition to all the garbage,there are paan stains all around wherever one can look.In these days,paan is getting replaced by gutka in sachets.Gutka chokes lungs & the sachets clog  the  drains.So it is a double jeopardy.

Kashi seems to be a place wherein many generations seem to co-exist in this age .I saw that shops were selling unique brass toys like gas stoves,lamps water carriers -all of these were so tiny & unique that they can adorn the showcase.Moreover,shops were also selling readymade dresses for Gods & goddesses with ready made jewels to adorn the idols.Other shops sold imitation jewellery for the generation next.Hence,I felt hat the city existed in numerous  time wraps.

We went to our Mutt after the darshan where we had upma .The next day,the men left for shardha rituals to be done to a Mutt.The ladies including myself went to visit many temples.We also shopped for small brass idols & copper pots of Ganga jal.Later we went to a  Benarasi sari workshop.We got some sarees which were of silk but not the Banarasi silks.My family  hailing from Chennai is quite skeptical about Silks other than Kanjeervaram.After that we left for the Mutt to have lunch there.The men also arrived there to join us.Food served at the Mutt is delicious though no rotis are served .It is basically rice,sambhar,rasam,a sweet like a kheer or Mysore pak,chutni,Gooju,curds,etc.In the Mutts,masalas are ground on a daily basis & used & this makes for tasty meals ! Moreover, all food is initially offered to the Lord who in turn makes it taste sumptous.

After the food,it was suggested that we take a boat ride on the Ganges to look at the numerous ghats dotting the city.There was a lot of bargaining going on .In the midst of all this,my impatient hubby ruffled some feathers as he felt that his family was interested in going in for  free boat ride.We all finally took a ride & noticed the various ghats surrounding the holy river.We had heard that many bodies are  burnt incompletely & thrown into the Ganges.We saw the ghats wherein the bodies were being thrown but as we were quite away,we were unable to see clearly.We also climbed up on the ghats to have a darshan at the Beni Madhav temple.

Then we returned to the hotel & started packing.We were to go by road to Gaya ,the next stop in our yatra.The vehicle had already arrived when we landed at e hotel but it did not have a carrier.It was too small to seat all of us who were nearly fifteen ( nearly as there were sixteen people including two kids ).It  was the travel agent's plan that we should travel to Gaya by road.But the arrangements made by him were lacking in everything.So,hastily another vehicle had to be arranged which took two hours & we started our journey to Gaya.The luggage nearly occupied half the space in our vehicle .My family had brought all dhotis,sarees,brass pots etc to be given as daana to brahmins from Chennai.My opinion that we must give cash instead of carrying luggage did not carry any weight.My devar told me that new age brahmins are very particular that they must be granted cash generously & so dhotis & other items are given away.This does not mean that these things are cheap.Dhotis are also highly priced now.Some priests insist that dhotis costing above five hundred bucks are only suitable.Human attitude is to fleece a person /s completely once it is realised the said person is willing to loosen his purse strings.

We stopped enroute to pick up some bananas for consumption by men as next day ,tithi was to be performed at Gaya.For dinner,we stopped at a dhaba as ladies & the kids were hungry.The dhaba owner assured us that they served only vegetarian fare.Our discreet enquiries made him enquire if we would take raw onion as salad.A vehment no from me got him smiling as if he meant to say that he had got it  right.We resumed our journey after dinner.The drivers also dined at the dhaba reluctantly as there was no meat or fish .

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Promote Your BlogI heard this on FM Rainbow : Rangoli drawn at the doorstep ensures that Goddess Laxmi ,the symbol of wealth & prosperity will always reside in that abode.

In Andhra,rangoli is known as muggu or muggulu.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Haridwar & Rishikesh

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We reached Badrinath on the second day after starting from Haridwar.The route is very scenic as it is through the Shivalik range.Clouds & mist play hide & seek .One can watch beautiful sunrises & sunsets.The Alaknanada seems to be following us all along the route.It also is dangerous as a wrong turn means a  plunge deep down the valley but thankfully ,our journey was safe. Enroute,we had to stop at some places as it was night .It is advisable & safe to break the journey in the Shivaliks after sunset.

The driver who was a young Punjabi lad with a typical Punjabi accent had been instructed to stop at a lodge which served strict vegetarian fare.The lodge did not serve any food but there was a vegetarian dhaba next door.One or two  relatives did not eat for reasons ranging from being unwell to doubts about food handlers.My family, being very orthodox, believes that food must be served by an insider meaning the family.Since this is impossible when one is in  a dhaba ,hotel & the like,they fast.Some do compromise & eat.Anyway,I was instructed in Kannada ( hybrid version -with lots of Tamil) about the food, my family wanted. I, in turn, dutifully translated it into Hindi for the waiters.We ate our food with lots of talk about food only. This was because, I had to keep translating almost minute by minute to my relatives ,then to the waiters ,again to my family & so on & so forth. .Dinner over,we retired for the night. My hubby had taken care that the driver & cleaner also had their fill of food.

Next morning, we took  bath & after tea,we left.By noon,we stopped at a place where there was this restaurant which served idlis & dosas.Orders were placed for one medu vada & two idlis for a majority.A kid had a sada dosa.The idlis were really delicious -even the sambhhar & chutney.But vadas were a disappointment as the oil used is different.We are used to groundnut oil & in the north ,sarson ka tel is the norm.My family made a face & gulped down the vadas. I have never liked vadas -oil or no oil.

We left the place after being surprised by wholesome South Indian fare at the restaurant. All kudos to the Jat driver .We reached Badrinath but insisted on being taken to our Mutt .We were taken there after a lot of explaining to the driver .He was sure, that we will have to carry a lot of our luggage over some distance as no parking was available nearby but thankfully,it was not so.We freshened up after being allotted rooms.All felt at home, as this was our community hostel.It was beginning to get cold.

We left by early evening to visit the temple having worn our sweaters .It was drizzling &It  had become very cold.The temple is a simple structure -wooden & stone.The temple is carpeted as it is quite cold.The guards & attendents wear wooden sandals to keep warm.Badrinath ji is a saligrama which is annointed with chandan .So one  can barely see the features as lots of flowers & jewels adorn the Lord.There is a whole entourage of dieties there alongwith Badrinathji.There is Kubera,Nara-Narayana,Lakshmi,Garuda etal.We learnt that we could be with the Lord for an extended period ,if we chanted the Vishnusahsranamnam in a group for which tickets are avaialble.We did that & had a relaxed view.I noticed that a foreigner ( white woman ) was also in the temple.She also was reciting the Vishnusahsranama but there was a difference.We were reciting from the books but she was doing it on her own. She knew it by heart !

The prasad is chana dal & sugar & murmura.,After partaking prasad,we went back to the Mutt. We were served upma which was truly lip smacking. so much so that we actually were left with just enjoying the upma mentally as there was no second helping.The cooks again made it as they realised that some had not not had it even once.Upma is an option for night as my hubby & brothers were to perform shradha the next day of their late father at Badri.So,,the night before they cannot have dinner but can eat upma,poha,fruits,etc. So, we all had decided to partake of upma.

The next day dawned & we were ready to go out. We had decidecd to take bath in the hot water springs ,next door to the temple.We had a refreshing bath in the ladies section as the men went in search of purohita for the shradha .The hot water springs are really amazing.The water temperature was just right  for the cold there.But people seem to think that this bounty of nature can be abused.So,some people were shampooing,using soaps & detergents etc thereby polluting the hot water springs.Perhaps the abusers wanted to cleanse themselves of all their sins & hence used soaps,shampoos & detergents.But in the process,they dirtied the place & polluted the water .We are trying to get rid of our sins but by using chemicals we are sinning against nature.How do we absolve ourselves from this greater sin ? Moreover, where will the hot water springs turn to to get rid of all our sins which have been transferred from us to them?  I felt, that prayers were needed more for cleaning up the hot water springs rather than anything else !

Men also had thei baths & they started the rituals of shradha -all bare bodies except for a dhoti & a shawl which would keep slipping from the shoulders.The drizzle was continuing.It was chilly & windy. .After the ceremony was over,we had prasad at the Mutt. In the afternoon,we went around to Vyas gufa,Ganesh Gufa at Mana village.Nights were terrible because the temperatiure would dip further & my family was shivering .Getting used to the extreme cold was impossible for them as they have been in Chennai till now.

In the night,dinner was again a nashta item as on the day the shreaddha is performed,the sons are to have only phalhaar ( no rice,dal,etc ).So,the mutt cook prepared avalakki pongal ( avalakki is poha ).The pepper in the dish was so much that whoever had got a cold got rid of it. It also served another purpose.We all ate a little less than we would have had it been less pungent.

We had been told to have a darshan at four -early in the morning when the saligrama of Badrinathji is bereft of all shringar .But the bitter cold prevented us from  venturing out so early.My jeth had told us that the saligrama is in padmasana & one can also recognise facial features.

The next day,we left for Haridwar from Badrinath.En route,we stopped at Debvprayag to have a hand dip but only the men ventured to step  out of the bus.On some hillocks ,we noticed that many kadipatta bushes were growing.How we wihed to collect them but they would have dried on our return journey home & so we just let the curry leaves. We halted at Rishikesh & went around Laxman Jhoola & Ram jhoola,We then resumed our journey.We reached Haridwar before the Ganga aarti was to begin in the evening.Rishikesh is also highly commercialised with many foreigners thronging the place.

Haridwar ghats where bathing is done are all filthy with rubbish heaps lying all around.Moreover it was rainy season & so everywhere there was muck & wetness which made our walking a really perilous affair.I felt that perhaps these Holy places need more miracles than we need in our lives to set things clean & bright.

Some pandas caught hold of us & looted us by making us promise  daan- dharm  as  they pretended to make us perform some rituals.We managed to free ourselves before they could leave us penniless.But this bitter experience apart,the Ganhga aarti was a sight to behold as the whole banks of the river were lit up by numerous aartis .We watched spell bound.

We left for our Mutt in Haridwar where dinner was getting ready.The  priest in charge seemed to be very relaxed.He sang many hymns,bhajans & even asked us to sing some.Our tummies had also begun singing for food but before this got vocal,we were served dinner. After  dinner,the Punjabi lad & cleaner bade us goodbye at Haridwar station .We handed him some parting cash for having done an exemplary job in taking us to Badrinath & back safe & sound.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


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Posted by PicasaI have managed to post this image.I feel there is some hitch in posting it from a file on my device. I am still to figure it out.

Rangoli is known as Puvidal in Kerela.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Badrinath dham

My family had been planning about going to various holy places in Northern India since months & it had finally materialised.So, we were all set to travel in a group to Rajdhani that is Delhi & from there, we were to proceed further.

As orthodoxy & ritualism are our forte,we always tried to book rooms in our Mutts.In Delhi also,we were at Sri Raghavendra Swami Mutt at R. K Puram.The idea is that we request the Mutt for a puja which is chargeable & lunch is the prasad of that puja.We also give some more money as our share -actually, it is the Almighty only who makes us his agent so that we can indulge in some form of  giving.We had our baths & we attended the puja followed by prasadam.Later ,as all in the familyn with a few exceptions are die hard coffee addicts coffee was boiled on a heater which had been brought especially for the purpose !

Then some of my family decided that they wanted to shop & off they went. I had called up a classmate whom I was just dying to meet after so many years ! She came & picked me up.I & she chatted non-stop.We did not know where to begin & when to stop but since I had a train to catch in the night,I had to leave. She deposited me safely in the Mutt .Dinner was on at the Mutt but since my chum had fed me generously,I refused even curds.After dinner,we left in Taxis which had been called up .Now,my actual work began.

My family is bereft of even a basic knowledge of Hindi .So, I was on the job of translating to the driver ,to the coolies etal.I did feel great but soon it gave way to irritation.Anyway,with my translation job & loads of luggage which involved bargaining with porters,we reached the station.We were leaving for Haridwar.Since,Haridwar comes fairly early in the mornings,we barely slept.At Haridwar,we all alighted after haggling with coolies about luggage .Then ,we had to make some calls to Bangalore as the travel agent was located there.He had made some bookings of accommodation as also about our travel to Badrinath from Haridwar.A bus had come to pick up but money was an issue.Anyway,the call had its effect & the driver dropped us at an ashram.Only problem was that it turned out to be the wrong one.We once again got into the bus & reached another ashram.I was allowed to go in first to ascertain if this was the destination.Thankfully,it was & we shifted our baggage & ourselves to various rooms that were allotted.The manager made a big fuss as he felt that six rooms were needed to divide our entourage but my family was adamant about taking only five rooms.We completely believe in the letter & spirit of accommodation -especially when it comes to hotels,lodges etc.I had to intervene a lot in this matter to sort it out.It was quite funny as I had to keep on telling the manager why my family felt five rooms were more than enough.The manager relented looking at my helplessness at translation & not because he was convinced.

We then had tea & left for the bath at the ghat.The Ganga was cold to touch but with a strong will,we ascended & had our dips .WE also performed small pujas to the river.Then we came back to the ashram to our rooms.We then took cash & handed it to the local travel agent as our charges for the onward journey to Badrinath.

In the early afternoon ,we left for Badrinath praying all the while that we must have a safe journey as many people had been struck for hours enroute because of landslides.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


I had lot of problems in uploading this  as I seem to have run out of space for my snaps on gmail.

Kolam is the name for Rangoli in Tamil Nadu.It is generally done with rice paste & sometimes even with rangoli powder.

On my Chennai visits,I have seen that women draw kolams outside their homes at dawn on  daily basis after washing the areas.Even outside buildings ,this is done !

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A home for Tink !

Green house that is home to Tink.

Harini,my daughter has gone crazy.She has taken to Tinker bell,the fairy in such a big way that she sleeps,eats,drinks & breathes Tink .Really this is quite exhausting.Her exams are on & the only thing she can concentrate on is the fairy.

She coerced her dad to get her a VCD on the latest film on that two winged tiny creature & has watched it  umpteen times.She also brought in her chums to watch it -obviously to get them converted like her.I dunno if she succeeded.But all this is going on in the thick of her exams ! How I wish she could concentrate atleast one tenth of what she does so passionately for Tink on her studies but then ,such is not my luck nor the teachers as they will discover from her answers.

In all this frenzy for Tink,Harini was inspired by the movie to build a house for her newfound love.She scrouged our  house & got a cardboard box.From this, she cut out squares & rectangles to make windows & a door.She camr across squarish pieces of glass which she painstakingly added as windows.One of the galss piece is a sealed window & two other pieces are open windows.The door is of  cardboard & is rectangular.

She took some cotton & made it into a bedding & a pillow for Tink. This is laid on a cardboard bed .The cardboard bed is a rectangle resting on four cardboard legs.On the cotton bedding she put a piece of velvet cloth-cut from her discarded dress sleeve.The velvet is  violet in color.From the same sleeve,she cut out two more pieces.She punched it at one end with a paper punch to make holes.These pieces were to be the curtains for the open windows .She took a straw & hung the curtains after passing the straw through the holes punched into them.

Then she took a polythene  glass  & covered it with a  circular cardboard lid .This was taped to the side of the house.This is the mail -box for Tink.Harini also built a table & chair -both from cardboard for Tink.On the table is placed a ceramic kettle & a tea cup & saucer.This tea set is a present from  her cousin .The roof of the house has an opening covered with a polythene sheet so that one can view it from the top.

The door of the house has a grand stand resting on two cardboard props with a roof attached to the house.There is a bell hanging from this roof to ring.This bell idea is copied from the movie.

Then Harini covered the roof with newspaper & painted it blue.She also painted the house  with green & yellow colour on the outside.I helped with painting.This was more out of compulsion rather than choice as Harini had taken out so much of paint from the tube that I felt compelled to use it.I also used brown colour to cover up things on the cardboard box.

She also put stars & other shiny embellishments on the walls of the house -on both sides of the door.On the side ,one can notice that it belongs to Tinker Bell as the name Tinker Bell is glued on the left side of the house in the snap.

On the door there are some flowers struck to make it look inviting.

The house does not have a floor -it is open from below.Harini uses the emergency lamp to light up the interiors of the home .Actually,she wastes a lot of energy on lighting up.A lot of other things were wasted in this venture-cello tapes.I am thinking of investing in shares & stocks of a cello tape manufacturer now.

But apart from that,all other material used is waste material .So this is a Green house -as it has made use of recycling waste materials.She did it fast in three to four days -a record time ,wouldn't you all agree ?

Moreover, she has painstakingly built it with lots of  love for Tink .The result is, that the house that she built for Tink has become a home now !

On second thoughts,  if only , our builders could take a lesson from all this ? !
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