Archive for the ‘Traditions’ Category

Nava Varshada Haardika Shubaashegalu…

With this picture of the creation of new life in the forest, I wish everyone a happy New Year!

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It is only with the introduction of the “new calendar” that the “English” New Year started in January; before that, it was in April, when spring brings new life to Nature. Indeed, it was when old-fashioned people insisted on celebrating the New Year in April that others started teasing them, giving rise to the practice of April Fools’ Day!

Silky Routes@ Silk Mark Expo 2008

Karnataka being the largest producer of silk in India continues to strive towards Silk production and marketing. The Silk Mark Expo 2008 an exhibition was held by Silk Board in Kanteerava stadium showcases varieties of silk-ware and even the useful information about silk production.


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Navratri Bommai Kollu Festival

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Every year, I drop by at a friend’s house near Malleswaram, to see her Dassara display of dolls. A couple of days ago, I found Prabha sitting by her collection wondering how she would lower the curtains on “Bommai Kollu”, now that the 9-day festival was over. “The process takes me a good four hours,” she said, explaining that each doll had to be individually wrapped in soft liners and snug paper rolls and then placed inside a specially created trunk. “Every year, this is one job that gives us mixed feelings,” she mused. (I can understand that, because for a little more than a week, the display gets pride of place at home. It’s a feeling of visual euphoria that’s hard to describe.)

Prabha Venugopal’s display had more dolls than I could count at one stretch. There was a Pongal set, Dasha Avatara, Kall Alagar Utsavam, Krishna dancing with the Gopikas (Rasleela); a set of Ram, Sita, Lakshman and Hanuman; a wedding collection and several individual displays that included Siva, Parvati, Durga; Lord Srinivas with Sridevi and Bhoodevi.

She actually had tears in her eyes when she exchanged glances with her husband and daughter, who helped her showpiece a collection that has taken them years to put together. The dolls would now have to go back into their wraps.
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Street Designs

During the Ganesha Festival time, one can find very competitive Kolam Festivals in the bylanes and streets of Bangalore. Kolams ( roughly translated as ‘designs’ ) are a symbol of auspiciousness. Hindus believe that the geometrical patterns & designs applied – mostly with a mixture of rice flour ( & nowadays, white crushed stone powder and/or glass ) – at the entrance to a home is an invitation to Goddess Lakshmi into one’s home and to drive away evil spirits.

Here are some pics of one such Kolam Festival held in a street off Narayana Pillai Street in the Cantonment Area of Bangalore.

BTW, this festival brings to mind the fantastic Kolam competitions that are held annually in the open spaces, street corners and the Mada Streets around the world famous Mylapore Sri Kapaleeswarar Temple in Chennai. I wish I had taken some pics of them during my short stay over there!
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Ramzan & Samosa Connection….

It is said that ‘If it is Ramzan, it’s got to be Samosa. The popular snack will be the first on the list of most Muslims breaking their day long fast running dawn-to-dusk, with these delicious crowd pullers (ranging from Rs. 3-5 per piece).

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Apart from many other fruits and dry fruits (like Dates), the busy commercial street area lines up food carts late afternoon offering these varieties which will finish off in next couple of hours after the dusk!!

Makeovers on Tuesdays

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There’s another thing about Bangalore that’s changing with an increasing IT and BPO presence. “Barber Shops” are beginning to up their shutters on Tuesdays. For years, in Bangalore, Tuesday was your barber’s day out – his chutti ka din.

Now with day-for-night work schedules and extended hours, Tuesday seems ideal for a haircut. You don’t have a big crowd, and the barber is relatively relaxed. Might even throw in an extra head massage as a bonus.

The practice of closing shop on the second day of the week could be linked to “traditional curbs” for Tuesdays, in old Bangalore.

Festivals

Tonight I left my flat expecting to walk to the corner and catch an auto to go to a restaurant. Instead when I got to the main road, I found a small flood of humanity, mostly dressed in variations of peach colored clothing walking down Infantry road. It seemed clear that SOMETHING was going on, but as a newcomer and foreigner I had no idea what it was.

I know that there are various festivals going on but as far as I knew none of them involved dressing up in peach colored clothes. I asked the local handicrafts store guy what was going on and after offering to show me some great deals, and asking me to come in “for a cup of tea” he explained it was some Christian festival.

I find the timing somewhat suspicious. I was raised in a Christian culture and I know of no big Christian feast day around now, but I do know of three or four Hindu festivals going on, but it was just another of those little mysteries. Rather than compete with the dozens of people walking down my street for an auto, we decided just to walk the mile or so to the restaurant.

On the way, we were surrounded by more celebrants, some dressed in peach, some not, all a river of humanity, just walking along at 8pm on a weekday. After six months here, it felt kind of comforting. We were walking along with our neighbors, here in the city. Some of them stopped for the local chaat wallah, others joined us in crossing the street in a safe and comforting group. Some jumped on to the overstuffed bus that barely slowed to let people on and off.

It was yet another fascinating and serendipitous experience for us, something that I’m sure people who live here take for granted, but that we would never see anywhere else.

[Edited to add]
Apparently this festival was a flag raising at the Basilica in Shivajinagar in honor of Mother Mary’s upcoming (Sep 8) birthday.

“Hugging Mana Hai

According to the Times of India, two schools in Mumbai have banned “public displays of affection and unwarranted touching.” By this they mean holding hands, hugging, or a peck on the cheek. They are also prohibited from spending time together before or after class.

The justification is that they are ‘not acceptable by society at large’ and ‘school at some point has to take a stand and play the role of a guardian of moral values’ and ‘if the brakes aren’t applied now, 15 years later it may lead to an unhealthy campus environment.’

I find this sort of reasoning baffling and appalling. What sorts of “health” problems do they expect to result from rampant hand holding? It seems obviously that these are nothing more or less than prudish overreaction. The role of schools in a modern pluralistic secular society is not to teach moral values, moral values are properly taught by parents and a family’s chosen moral and spiritual teachers. Public schools have no role promulgating repressive sexual attitudes on their captive population.

Is society really so weak that it can be destroyed by children holding hands in school?

Iron-ware, City market & Health connection….

Interestingly, while on my last City market visit came across a typical hardware store which has all iron utensils, a quick question came to my mind “in this era of modern cookware, why would anyone still cook the food in Iron cookware?”

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Can someone explain what was going on?

While on my way to breakfast today, I noticed a little ritual that I’d never seen before. A woman was carrying a small slightly shabby ornately decorated chair on her head. It had carvings and peacock feathers and was maybe upholstered in red velvet. She was carrying what at first I thought was a single-tail whip, that she cracked on the stairs of the hotel/restaurant we were going to visit, then stood there expectantly. As I passed her I noticed that it wasn’t a whip, but looked like a very long gray plait! After a little bit a manager (or some other officialish looking person) came out and gave her a few coins and she walked down the street. I caught his eye as he was doing it and he just sort of grinned at me.

Can someone please explain what I just witnessed?

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