I love this headline: Small, Isolated Elephants Follow Own Evolutionary Path.
Workers carry an idol of the Goddess Durga
into a marquee in Kolkata. An annual five-day Durga Puja
festival will be taking place across the country. -- Reuters
aishwarya picture for a magazine in which she shows his breast and she took millions dollar of thatThe Aishwarya referred to is of course the filmstar Aishwarya Rai. Good luck to you! (And why do I keep getting referrals for 'pron'?)
What Her Girl Friend Said
consoling her when she was distressed by the town's gossip
If it rains,our town grows rich.
Ears of grain
cluster on the paddy grass
maned like horses.
When it's dry,thorn bushes rise by the black waters,
the mud is parched.
But the dark shallows
yield a harvest of white salt.
Full of old ceremony,this ancient town of ours
is always rich,
has kitchen smoke from frying fish
wafting through the streets
and on the beach
where tiny flowers dot the tigerclaw trees.
Yet, I must say, it has one fault.
The bees get high on the pollen
in the groves of black-branched laurel
and hum so loud
it's hard to hear the bells
of his tall chariot
when it comes.
our current cook, Mary, buys vegetables at the gate;
the land across the street is shown on the map as 'open jungle',
but it's been filled in and levelled for a building site
(sorry, it's an awful photograph -- unless one admires garbage dumpsters)
Sanskritisation: The New Ritual?
Will the Tamil Nadu government's ban on animal sacrifice pave the way for the entry of Vedic culture into folk temples?
by B. Kolappan
Appi, a trance-dancer at a temple devoted to folk deity Sudalai Madan, is the protagonist of the short story Maadan Motcham, by noted Tamil writer Jeyamohan. The story is about how the upper caste Namboodiris from Kerala appropriate Sudalai Madan and sideline Appi.
When they are invited to perform rituals, the first thing the Namboodiris ensure is that non-vegetarian food is not prepared. Sudalai Madan, who devours non-vegetarian food after consuming litres of arrack or toddy has to content himself with the sweet prepared by them. The smell of the vegetarian food makes him sick and he feels like throwing up. He complains to Appi, who is more of a companion to him. But, Appi is helpless.
As the angry Sudalai Madan, holding his weapon, tries to jump from his pedestal to take revenge on the Namboodiris he realises that he too is under the spell of the powerful Vedic mantras and cannot move an inch.
Jeyamohan's story captures the process of Sanskritisation, a term coined by sociologist M N Srinivas. It describes the way the lower castes tend to imitate the customs and rituals of the upper layers in order to gain social respectability. The Tamil Nadu government's recent ban on animal sacrifice in temples could be called an attempt at imposing Sanskritisation on the non-Brahmin communities. Such a ban can cut off the umbilical chord that links a Sudra [member of a low caste] with his own god as happens in the case of Appi. Critics argue that it will pave way for the entry of Vedic culture and Brahmin priests into the folk temples. It may also lead to the assimilation of folk deities with Vedic religion.
This Sanskritisation process is already going on at a frenetic pace in Kanyakumari district, the most literate region in the state. And various social upheavals are taking place there. To start with, folk gods are being fast replaced by Vedic gods.
Vedic and folk gods are poles apart. Except for the Brahmins, every other community has temples dedicated to their favourite folk gods and goddesses. Madan is a generic name and there are a whole lot of Madans, like Sudalai Madan; Pula Madan and Esaki Madan. Goddesses include Mutharamman, Sandhana Mari Amman, Muppidari, Kali and Durgai. The priest of the temple is usually from the community that owns the temple.
These deities are different from the Vedic ones. They are gruesome and evoke fear in the minds of their devotees; not love. They have to be propitiated at regular intervals. Festivals are organised twice a year and animal sacrifices are an integral part of these celebrations. The sacrifices are known as Muppali (killing of three animals, generally goats, fowls and pigs).
The idols are made of sand and lime. Even the temples housing such deities look quite ordinary, a simple structure under tiled roofs, with nothing to distinguish them from the devotees' residences. In many Sudalai Madan temples even the roofs are a luxury. There is no such thing as a sanctum sanctorum in these temples, clearly differentiating them from the Brahminical concept of ritual purity.
But all this is changing now. Sudalai Madan, his fraternal deities and their temples are undergoing a dramatic transformation, signalling the arrival of the Brahminical culture. This, in a region where the dominant, Nadar community, a backward caste, has fought a running battle against the atrocities of the varnashrama dharma [the caste system]. The irony is that today concrete miniatures of Vedic temples, with gopuram and a vimana above the sanctum, are coming up everywhere. Granite images of gods and goddesses are replacing the structures erected from sand and lime. The purpose of installing a granite structure is to perform abhishekam (ritual pouring of liquids) as done in Vedic temples. Once the construction of a new temple is over, kumbabhishekam, consecration, is by Vedic scholars, totally alien to the folk gods and those that worship them. The gods and goddesses who once evoked so much fear are now referred with a prefix "arul migu" (merciful), a misnomer. Every Nadar village has a magnificent temple modelled after Vedic temples. Economically a dominant community, they lavish a lot of money on temple construction and other festivals.
Once derisively referred to as the chanars (toddy tappers), the womenfolk of the community were never allowed to cover the upper portion of their bodies. Their plight was considered worse than that of Dalits [untouchables]. The struggle to get the rights to cover the breasts is etched in blood in the annals of the community and described as the historic "thol seelai (pullav) struggle." The oppression by the upper castes in fact led to large scale conversion to Christianity....
for painting 60-feet tall billboards, the artist is handed images on an A-4 size paper. He is expected to execute the magnification. About 4,000-5,000 people in Chennai drew sustenance from the art till just about a year ago. Six studios employing 30 painters last year dwindling to 4 studios employing 4 people shows up an art facing the threat of total extinction.
one of the Chennai billboards, centre
Ragamala paintings are part of an extraordinary artistic union of paintings, poetry, and music. Ragas, the musical basis of the relationship, are very old musical forms that over time have been classified into "families" of themes and modes. They evoke certain moods, are performed at specific times of the day, and they are considered personalities (heroes, heroines, or deities).
Poets began writing about ragas in the 14th century. Their verses interpreting this music were almost as varied and wide-ranging as the ragas themselves. Painters in turn portrayed the poems, capturing the moods or personality of the ragas' characters or themes. These paintings made up sets of Ragamalas ("Garlands of Ragas"), usually in groups of thirty-six or forty-two.
Ragamalas are organized in several systems and grouped in families consisting of a male raga at the head with several raginis, or wives and often include sons called ragaputras, and daughters or ragaputris. (from Princes, Poets and Paladins)
Ragamala paintings... are attempts to make an abstract thought concrete. A raga, an Indian musical form, is an audible form created to express emotions, sensations, or feelings. Similiarly, ragamala paintings are emotions expressed through a plastic form. Some ragamalas express the temperment of seasons, others beauty, or love and devotion. The verbal descriptions, which are often found as part of the paintings, express the spirit of the raga. They describe the subject, the characterstics of the raga and the literal expression of the painting through the verses. (from Hurst Gallery)
Ragini Karnati (circa 1790), from Chandra and David's Homepage
Bikaner, Patamanjari Ragini, ca. 1640, from Va. Museum of Fine Arts
Ragini Bangala, c 1725, from AIIS, Varanasi
(one of four Raginis on this page; and what looks like a very interesting site)
Todi Ragini, from Va. Museum of Fine Arts
Kausa Ragaputra, Punjab Hills, Mankot, c. 1700 -- The hot intensity of mid-seventeenth and early eighteenth-century paintings produced in the courts of the Punjab Hills at Mankot, Basohli, Bahu, and Kulu, is evident in this Ragamala painting of a princely character and his consort seated on a carpet, each with a bird perched on a finger. This ragaputra is the "son" of the raga Malkos or Malavakasika whose iconography often contains a seated lord accompanied by his consort. From Harvard University Art Museums (one of two raginis from 'Princes, Poets and Paladins')
My eyelashes glisten with shards
splintered from my heart.
"Who spoiled the painting on your breast
and the collyrium of your eye?
Who took the lipstick from your lip
And the garland from your hair?"
"That which, washing off all men's impurity,
of hue is blue as waterlily."
"Who, Krishna?" "No, the water of the Jumna.
It's you that are in love with Krishna."
IT was in 1833 that the Tudor Ice Company of Boston sent its first ice ship to India. The clipper, Tuscany, arrived in Calcutta (now Kolkata) on September 6, with 180 tonnes of ice wrapped in pine sawdust that remained intact in blocks even after a four-month-long journey. For the next 40 years, the export ice trade from the US prospered in India till the advent of mechanical refrigeration which sounded its death knell. Tudor was the pioneer of the ice trade not only in India but the world over. In the 1850s, the North-Eastern States of the US exported as much as 150,000 tonnes of ice a year...
CHENNAI SEPT. 17. In order to make him `realise his duties as MLA', the Madras High Court today directed B. Ranganathan (Purasalwalkam) to stay in Madurai for five days and read Gandhian literature in the Gandhi Museum library there. Justice M. Karpagavinayagam, granting him anticipatory bail in a case of criminal intimidation, said the `inevitable conditions were to create a proper atmosphere (for Mr. Ranganathan) to reform and equip himself to be a fit person for serving the constituency as well as the people at large'...The Changing Face of the Bindi: What some women are wearing on their foreheads these days.
looking toward the gopuram over the east gate from the south.
Nandis sit on top of the wall
the small tank to the left of the east gate,
with Nandi, under a stone canopy, facing a shrine
As a young backpacker Luke Harding found India charming and eccentric. Fifteen years later he returned as the Guardian's correspondent. Now, after finishing his time there, he recalls how one terrible incident of secular violence in Gujarat brought his love affair with the country to an end...
Janata Watch Repairing, 1972, by Bhupen Khakhar
From and article in The Hindu: "He painted the man without subjectivity, without face, without the privilege of revolutionary intent". And he would address this in a manner akin to the Bollywood slapstick with innocent insertions of the blasphemous, which would also double as surgical rip-offs on the airy pretensions of "high art" and its pedantic pundits.
Yet, one needs to pause to repair a damage. In the past few weeks, the whole of the Indian media put together does not seem to have generated even 10 columns of space to mark the passing away (on August 8) of Bhupen Khakhar, 69, for long considered the enfant terrible of Indian art. On hindsight, his works remain the clearest indicators of the emotional reasons behind the recent political mobilisations around religion and their — not spiritual — but sexual and violent underbelly.
The reason for the coyness of the mainstream media is not difficult to surmise. Besides consistently marginalising him as a "gay painter", the Indian media found it singularly difficult to engage with the sheer honesty with which he exposed middle and low middle class hypocrisy; specifically sexual hypocrisy. ..
At another level, Khakhar has been lauded for being among those rare artists who could successfully blend the canons of high art with the abandon, irreverence and fluidity of popular expression in calendar art or even the small-town romance represented in billboards, shop-signs and street side graffiti....more
An Old Man from Vasad Who Had Five Penises
Suffered From A Runny Nose, 1995, from Grey Art Gallery
BOMBAY, India, Sept. 8 — A tour of the 500-acre site finds imposing courtrooms, glittery shops, a church, a mountain forest, even rickety shanties.
But it's a movie lot, and nothing here is real. Except the poverty and hunger, its former owners say.
Hundreds of villagers from the Warli ethnic group say farmland their people owned for centuries is being taken by ''Bollywood,'' India's bustling Bombay-based movie industry, leaving them struggling to get by.
Across the hills of Film City — the sprawling hub of Bollywood — there are 16 studios where thousands of technicians work each day at dozens of lavish sets that are routinely built and demolished.
There are also wide swathes of empty land and, in pockets, a few remaining Warli villages.
... The Warlis are the largest group among the estimated 200,000 ''tribals'' living in the suburbs of Bombay, which is also known as Mumbai. They say they have been forced from much of their land by real estate firms and gangsters who have ties to India's movie business, whose annual output of 800 films trails only Hollywood in worldwide reach.
The Warlis are far more frightened of losing their livelihoods to government-backed movie executives than of the tigers that roam the hilly area at night, beasts that killed four Warli children and injured 11 last year.
... At Film City, almost everything is make believe — courts, a huge jail, a shopping arcade, a police station, a church, a shantytown, a log cabin, a thickly forested mountain, a hospital, a helipad — even a lake that sometimes doubles as the revered Ganges River.
Fancy cars cruise in on tree-lined roads to deliver stars. Other actors dressed as doctors, beggars and police officers take smoking breaks or have lunch at crowded canteens.
A few miles away, Devi ka Pada village is another world....
''There is starvation in the entertainment capital,'' [film director Mahesh] Bhatt told AP. ''There is a virtual world and, right there, there is starvation and apathy. It is a study in contemporary India.'' ...
Ibn Khaldun wrote that a dead man 'sees the persons who attend the burial and hears what they say, and he hears the tapping of their shoes when they forsake him'.
The memorial stone of M.G. Ramachandran, a great actor and politician from the state of Tamil Nadu. His devotees believe that if you are lucky you might hear his voice at his memorial site...
raag Kanada: With uplifted sword
and, in the other hand, the tusk of an elephant,
the divine form of Kanada is lauded by the hosts of heaven.
... In India presently, the Jewish population is estimated at 6,000.
... There are several legends on the arrival of the first Jews on the west coast of India. One of them relates to the period of King Solomon, when there was trade in "teak, ivory, spice and peacocks between the lands of Israel and Malabar coast" and Jews arriving as merchantmen. Others date their arrival to 772 BCE, at the time of the Assyrian exile, Babylon defeating Judea in 568 BCE, or after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. There is also a belief that 10 Jewish families released from jail by a Persian king in 605 BCE came to Kodungalloor on the Kerala coast. There were subsequent waves of migration in 369 AD. There are Biblical references on Jewish connections with India in The Book of Esther, citing decrees enacted by Ahaseurus relating to the Jews dispersed throughout the provinces of his empire from Hodu (India in Hebrew) to Kush. ...
There are three major groups of Jews in India: Cochin Jews, the Bene Israel (children of Israel who are the largest in number and said to be the "most Hindu-ised Jews) and Baghdadis, who were the last to arrive from Iraq and Syria. The earliest documentation of permanent settlement is that of the Cochin Jews. At the time of Indian Independence, there were 2,400 of them; their Pardeshi synagogue, established in 1568, which is a heritage monument, celebrated its 400th anniversary in 1968. Today, there are just 17 of them.
The famous Jewish copper plates inscribed in ancient Tamil script during the period of king Bhaskara Ravi Varma (962 - 1020 CE) contains grants and privileges given to the Jews. The privileges included the right to be exempt from and to collect certain taxes and gifts including a palanquin, drum and trumpet (very significant at that time). After the grant, the Jews lived in and around Cochin and prospered for more than 1000 years....
After the Portuguese, more Jews arrived fleeing persecution from the Middle East. Cheraman Perumal gave them special privileges and allowed them to build a synagogue next to his palace and adjacent to the temple. This synagogue is the oldest surviving one in the former British Empire...(more)
photograph from Cochini Jews
A silent bird flying an uneven course
propelled forward on broad wings,
chased by a rush of shrieking crows --
an owl, rounded, soft-feathered, pale.
It would have been at ease in darkness;
in late afternoon light it faltered,
veered toward a clump of bamboo,
then turned and flew to open ground,
as more crows joined the hunt.
The pitru, our ancestors, are passengers
in crows' bodies, look out of crows' eyes.
They feel the warm world secondhand -
only its strongest touch can reach them:
blood's salt-iron tang,
the slice of talons sinking into flesh,
the harsh echoes of their own despairing cries.
THEYYAM: A ritual dance performed in temples by appointed people in fulfillment of vows of devotees. Theyyam is the corrupted form of the word Daivam meaning the God. It is purported to be the dance by the Goddess Herself. The dancers are men in feminine attire wearing colourful costumes made usually of palm leaves, cloth and brass jewellery, ferocious masks and big head gear, often extending up to forty feet in height. The pace of the dance is set to the beating of Chenda (drum). The artiste invested by the goddess in his person falls in a trance, dances deliriously to the mounting tempo and conveys, as an oracle, the goddess's acceptance of the vow and blessings or otherwise.An article about Theyyam by Pepita Seth. More about Theyyam here, here, and here.
It is a shame to know that there are restrictions on railway officials to reply to queries on this message board.
Clear instructions for prompt response at divisional level is absolutely needed.
All this protocol business of
forwarding or routing reples,
approval of replies
meetings to decide on replies,
agreements to disagree on 'contents' of replies.
agreements to send 'No replies.
are delaying the replies.....not denying them.
LET US WAIT .....
Our Lady of Good Health, Vailankanni
From the 16th century... comes a legend that a shepherd boy saw a beautiful lady with a baby in her arms. After the baby had drunk milk from the boy's pot, the pot still brimmed over with milk. The pond near which the boy had seen the lady is still called the Matha Kulam: Our Lady's Tank. Then, a crippled boy was cured by a vision of the same lady and her child. A Catholic from Nagapattinam built a thatched chapel at the spot and installed a beautiful statue of Our Lady with the infant Jesus held in her left arm.There's a branch of the Vailankanni shrine in Chennai, which is also very popular. (Update: an article about the festival as it is observed at the shrine here in Chennai.)
Later, in the 17th century, a storm-tossed Portuguese ship was saved from being wrecked after its sailors prayed to Our Lady, the Mother of Jesus Christ. The Portuguese, in gratitude, built a brick and mortar church and moved the statue from the thatched chapel to their new shrine.
Over the intervening centuries, the church was improved and reconstructed...
The outpouring of devotion is greatest on the 8th of September, every year: the traditional birth anniversary of Our Lady. The festivities, however, begin nine days earlier, on the 29th of August. After attending the Holy Mass... pilgrims bring their offerings of garlands, candles and coconut-palm saplings. Many of them wear the saffron robes of renunciation, have their heads shaved, and prostrate themselves at the feet of the statue. When the Mass is over, they often offer each other sweets.
Many of these customs are unique to the Church in India. Some like the offering of coconut saplings are typical of the faiths of our southern states. Another feature of worship in south India is an event which occurs at midday: the hoisting of the festival flag, in this case the Flag of Our Lady. A fair number of the devotees we spoke to believed that this is the most auspicious moment of the festival and everyone who is present and sees the flat being hoisted, receives special blessings and graces from the Holy Mother.
According to a well-established Hindu tradition, there are two types of idols in their temples: the installed idol who is never moved out of the temple and the processional idol who is carried in a chariot or palanquin during festive days so that all visitors can get a grace-bestowing glimpse of the deity. This revered custom, too, has been adopted by Vailankanni. Every evening during the festival, two cars and a chariot are carried by devotees in procession. The statue of Our Lady is enthroned in the main illuminated chariot. It is considered to be a great privilege to touch the chariot and cars, and an even greater privilege to carry them...
On the evening of the 8th of September, the flag is lowered and the festival ends....
For Indian moviegoers, Films Division evokes memories of grainy black-and-white newsreels and documentaries, shown in darkened auditoriums ahead of the main movie.At first glance this looks like an amazing resource.
The organisation that has documented and archived over 50 years of independent India's history on celluloid now wants to take its collection to a wider audience.
Last month, it put 700 of its 8000 films on its Web site, Filmdivision.org. These include documentaries by some of the country's leading filmmakers like Satyajit Ray, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Gulzar, Girish Karnad and Prakash Jha....
...Like all Siva temples, the Vellishwarar temple too has a sanctum for Lord Ganesha, but the one here for Selva Vinayaka is unique in many ways. While in most Ganesha shrines this deity is seen alone, here He is seen with his two consorts Siddhi and Buddhi. Moreover, this image of Ganesha is in a standing posture, while in other temples he is usually seated.I find it endearing that the fact that the shrine faces south, or that the god is standing instead of sitting, are considered important features. There are some photographs of the temples too.
The majestic image in this sanctum is four-armed and holds the pasha and ankusha in his upper hands. In one of his lower hands He holds the modaka, His favourite sweet, while the tip of His curved trunk rests in the palm of the other hand. Another unusual feature is that this Vinayaka shrine faces south and is situated right in front of the main entrance, above which is a five-storeyed gopura...
...Perhaps the earliest innovation was the violin. This very Western instrument became part of the Carnatic music tradition when the family of composer Ramaswami Dikshitar moved from Tiruvarur to Madras in the 1790s. The five-year stay exposed brothers Muthuswami and Baluswami Dikshitars to the ‘airs’ that were being played by the Fort St George orchestra.
Baluswami Dikshitar learnt to play the violin from an Englishman and introduced it to the Carnatic concert platform. Muthuswami Dikshitar composed around fifty verses in Sanskrit, based on the orchestra’s music...
[Fight line] You crow! In your laughter I can hear the death rattle!
[Reconciliation, as the villain lies dying -- he has blocked a bullet meant for the hero -- he remorsefully asks the hero to finish him off. The hero replies] Whom should I kill? The one who took my death in his own embrace in order to save me? The one who washed the sin of murdering my sister with his own blood?...
A 'keep' is a mistress, a 'kept woman.' MGR died in 1987, so this is pretty old news. Food, sex and religion. That about seems to sum it up. (I didn't know about a connection between fenugreek and sex when I planted it in my window basket! It's very easy to grow, and the small leaves can be used as a vegetable; chopped and stirred into chappati; or put into salads.)
pooja essentials for ganapathi pooja
Ayurvedic tanjore recipe
can husband and wife enjoy sex in the month of Adi
Andhra food fenugreek sex
midnight telugu masala