N for Namaste

Namaste

Namaste

Namaste(ನಮಸ್ತೆ/ನಮಸ್ಕಾರ) pronounced /ˈnɑːməsteɪ/ is a customary greeting when individuals meet, and a valediction upon their parting in India.

Namaste is both a physical gesture and a spoken spiritual salutation. The gesture can also be performed wordlessly and carries the same meaning, which is usually the case while parting. It is commonly accompanied by a slight bow. It is a non-contact form of respectful greeting and can be used universally while meeting a person of different gender, age or social status.

The gesture Namaste represents the belief that there is a Divine spark within each one of us. The gesture is an acknowledgment of the soul in one by the soul in another. Derived from Sanskrit words namah and te, it literally means “I bow to you” i.e. the Spirit in me honors/bows to the Spirit in you .It has a spiritual significance of negating or reducing one’s ego in the presence of another. One more interpretation is “I greet that place where you and I are one”.

Namaste could be just a casual or formal greeting, a cultural convention or an act of worship. During prayers, Hindus not only do namaste but also bow and close their eyes, as it were, to look into the inner spirit. Also, when the hand position is higher, it usually means reverence and/or worship. It is also used during meditation to go deeper inside the heart chakra.

Namaste has many different interpretations, no matter which interpretation you choose you should think of it as a divine blessing that honors sacredness and equality in everyone. Although often used to greet others, the meaning behind Namaste is beautiful and whichever meaning you connect with it brings us all to one place where we all are divine,pure and one.

Namaste
– Sapna 🙂

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M for Mustard Seeds

Buddha

Buddha

There was once a woman from the city of Savatthi by the name of Kisa Gotami, known for her wisdom and kindness. Her virtues had earned her as a husband, a nobleman’s son. She was blessed with one son. In one of the dark stormy nights, she noticed her son was not crying. He was dead. Kisa Gotami was devastated. She carried her son in her arms and pleaded gods and folks around her alike to help her and save her son.

No matter what people said she paid no heed and continued searching medicine for death. One apothecary she met pretended to consider her request and then said “I don’t know of any medicine, but if anyone does it would be the sage Buddha”.

She immediately rushed to the place where the Buddha was lecturing a large assembly and fell on his feet and laid her dead son flat on his back. She begged for medicine for death. She said “I beg you, sir, bring my son back to life. Please! My husband is amongst the city’s wealthiest. I can pay you any fee”.

A silence of pity spread through the crowd, and the Buddha looked on the distraught mother in silence. Finally, Buddha said “yes”. The crowd was shocked and many of his disciples threw a suspicious look. Buddha said, he would be able to prepare the medicine but it requires her to get one of the ingredients – mustard seeds. These seeds needed to come from some house which has not known death. Kisa was ecstatic and ran to get the seeds. Buddha saw the rotten body of the kid and asked his disciple Ananda to help cremate him.

In the meanwhile, Kisa ran from door to door asking for mustard seeds. People obliged readily but when she told about the clause the answer was always in negation. Finally, Kisa realised her folly and returned to Buddha.

Buddha greeted her and said “Neither those wise nor those foolish are immune to death. However great a father roars, he can never waken a dead daughter. However much a mother begs the gods, a dead son will never cry again. One by one, Gotami, we each die. This is but a greater disappointment among a thousand lesser ones, and just as a Sage does not mourn a broken pot, a Sage does not mourn death.Be prepared, Gotami, for you will suffer many other deaths in your time, and some day, your own. Destroy the attachment that causes your grief, and you will lead a better life.”

Link for ABC Wednesday

K for Kheer

sevaiyan_kheer

sevaiyan_kheer garnished with Cashews and raisins

Indian food is incomplete without desserts. We( at least most of us) just keep finding an excuse to eat sweets. One of the quick, easiest and tasty desserts is sevaiyan ka kheer. Also known as shavige payasa (ಶಾವಗೆ ಪಾಯಸ) in Kannada or Payasam in South India. Posting a recipe here.

Ingredients:

1 cup of broken vermicelli/ Sevaiyan
4 cups of milk
1/2 cup sugar
Ghee for frying
Raisins, Dry roasted cashews, finely powdered cardamom/Elaichi – for garnishing

Preparation:

  • Heat the ghee in a heavy bottomed non-stick pan over medium heat. Add sevaiyan and fry till golden brown.
  • Pour milk and add sugar while stirring continuously and bring it to boil.
  • Cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the milk is slightly thickened.
  • Take it down from the gas, add the cashews, raisins and the cardamom powder
Serve it hot in a nice glass bowl 🙂

This dish can be made with a variety of ingredients in a variety of ways. I have posted the sevaiyan one coz that is what we frequently prepare at home.

The other types being Rice kheer( also very common) or with Apple, Badam, Carrots, fruits, coconut,khus khus(poppy seeds)… and the list goes on. This can be prepared on the gas as well as in the microwave. Also, the sugar can be substituted(esp for diabetics) by honey, sweeteners, jaggery,… You could also use condensed milk instead of milk. The garnishing can be done with almond and pistachios as well. In parts of Eastern India, saffron is also used. Even the serving  method can differ. It can be had hot or cold. You can have it your seviyan floating in milk or let it soak all the milk and have it dry topped with dry grated coconut or variety of other Indian spices. You can also add rose essence if serving chilled for a nice taste. In short, use your creativity 🙂

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I for Image

woman looking at herself in the mirror

woman looking at herself in the mirror

Image: I am talking about the image one has of others and oneself.

The idea for this post came across when I saw beautiful palace pics on Sherry’s(Travel Spirit) post Palace Splendor. I commented that the pics took me to a different era, a time when the kings and queens reigned. She responded “Cool era…but I wouldn’t want to wear the whale bone corsets…ouch!”. Gosh! why would anyone wear such a thing, I thought. But lot of women did.

This is just one instance where women willingly go through pain to fit into the society’s image of a perfect female. This society image includes body image and as well as other behavioral image.Every culture and period of history has had its own standards of “an ideal female” and women from generations have fallen for it. Why even the modern “free” woman also wears painful heels in spite of their well-known ill effects. And anorexic models are the new role models.

While practices like foot binding and corsets are old and abandoned, others like breast ironing are very much alive. Around the same time as corsets, some women also got their ribs surgically removed to get a narrow waist. Fainting was a virtue, it showed a woman is delicate. In fact, I had read somewhere that there were also Charm classes which taught women to faint in a “lady-like” manner.

Sigh! I am so glad I am born in an era and in a culture where no such cruel practices exist( biases do exist but none so harmful/cruel). But at the same time it is also true that we live in an age with instant access to mass media. Hence we are constantly fed with ideas of modern ideal beauty and attitude. Never has history seen such a monumental rise of beauty products, surgical beauty treatments, personality development classes or self-help books. Add to it, technology has helped us to touch up these images to take them to a new unattainable level..

Humans are conditioned to believe ‘what is beautiful is good’. While it is a research proven fact that attractive people(which mostly means good-looking or the current idea of good-looking) have an advantage over the others in the society, why is it that women are more concerned about looks as compared to men. The reasons are again historic. Women had to compete to marry the most eligible man. A woman’s strength was(may be still is) her beauty. Women had no way of supporting themselves, and hence marrying the right man meant a lot. For a man his defining qualities may be good-looking, earning well, very strong or much more but a woman’s identity is tightly tied to her beauty/looks.

Well times have changed and women are more independent now and define their own rules. While both sexes are equal offenders, most guys I have met are pretty open to many ideas of beauty, it is us girls who judge themselves and other girls by these strict set of parameters. Time we stood up for ourselves and choose a happy and healthy life instead struggling to cope to somebody else’s standards. Let’s create an image where a healthy and happy woman is the ideal one. 🙂

Though I am posting it later, I am writing it on International Women’s Day and nothing better than one of my friend’s FB status to conclude the post, “You are sexy, strong and fearless and you know it!!! Happy Women’s Day all you lovely ladies!! ♥ ♥ keep rocking!!”

Join the ABC Wednesday challenge here .

H for Hope

H

H

Happy Holi to everyone and yes Happy Woman’s Day too. 🙂

Both of them on the same day, March 8th 2012 reminded me of my last year’s post on Holi’s history. Which reminded me of the ABC Wednesday that I left halfway last time. I thought why not start it again. So I checked the website and guess what it is again time for H this week and today is indeed Wednesday. So I gatecrash.

Hmm what do I write about? Starting from H? and then I realize all the important things in life do start with h: happiness, heaven, hell, home, human, heart, heavy, hug, holy….

One such word is “Hope”. “Hope is a good thing, May be the best of things, and no good thing ever dies”, said Andy in the movie “The Shawshank Redemption”. For me these are tough times and all I am feeling now are hurt and heavy. Hell it is not, but neither does it feel like heaven. Hope is what keeps me going. Hope holds you and helps you get through trying times.

But someone else(Robert Ingersoll) said, “Hope is the only universal liar who never loses his reputation for veracity”.  Well, I am just hoping hope wins, comes out truthful, this time and every other time.

Hail Hope!

This post is written for ABC Wednesday. Also, hoping moderators don’t mind people joining halfway through the challenge. 🙂

J for Jobs

Mahadeva being felicitated by Karnataka Chief Minister. Image courtesy: bangaloremirror.com

No I am not talking about Steve Jobs but about the jobs most of us do for a living. Those more often than not 9-5 jobs that most of us crib about. You may be a doctor, lawyer, engineer ,teacher, cop or a business man and expect to meet more people with such jobs. Today, I am writing about a man named Mahadeva with an unusual job. His job is to bury the unclaimed corpses from city hospitals.

The reel-like real story of this man starts when he is barely three or four and his mother leaves their family and village and vows never to come back. She tried to make a living for herself in the new place but fate willed otherwise and she fell ill within three years. The doctors advised her to be taken to a better hospital and that led them to the Victoria Hospital in Bangalore. His mother gave the last pieces of jewelery she had and pleaded to be taken into the hospital. Mahadeva in the meanwhile slept in the hospital verandah, played along with the street children, begged for food from the street side vendors and led a “happy” life . About two weeks after that when he went back to the hospital, the orderly, Krishnappa, who had taken his mother in stopped him and asked “Don’t you know your mother is
dead?”. Krishnappa had buried her after the hospital had waited the statutory 3 days for someone to
claim her body.

Praveen

Praveen, Mahadeva's son. Image: beyondfocus.in

A few in the hospital raised money to send him back to his village but Mahadeva didn’t want. He had nowhere to go when Krishnappa, the 80-year-old orderly, took him to stay with him. Krishnappa had no one either. Mahadeva grew up with Krishnappa( he called him tatha, meaning grandpa) running errands in the hospital.  And then, one day, the cops asked him to bury an unclaimed dead body and paid him Rs 200 for the job. This was when Mahadeva entered his profession and eventually became the go-to guy for burying the city’s unclaimed corpses. He had to do everything from pull the stiff body from the morgue to dig a hole and bury the body. When his tatha, his loved one, died in 1971 he realised what death of an intimate one can be and garlanded the body before burying him. From then on he made it a practice to garland every body he buried. He believes everyone deserves respect and
no one should feel ‘unwanted’ in death, even if life had treated them that way.

He later bought a horse(Ammu) to carry the dead who died after carrying about 25000 corpses. He till date mourns that he was not allowed to bury Ammu. But Ammu is now his business logo and part of his business card and also part of the pictures on his autos that he bought later to carry the dead. This life does not come without a cost though. When he wanted to get married, nobody wanted to give their daughter’s hand in marriage to him. He had to pay Rs. 2000 as the bride money to marry the girl. Now he has four children and lives with them in a rented place in Bangalore.

Mahadeva has buried more than 77, 882 corpses in his lifetime and his dedicated service had earned him Phenomenal public recognition. He has also become an HR case study after Subroto Bagchi, from MindTree, mentioned him in his book “The Professional”. Local petrol pumps do not charge him when his hearse is topped up and the Chief Minister of Karnataka felicitated him for his selfless service to the abandoned citizens of Bangalore. Mahadeva is proud of his work and business, and today his eldest son, Praveen, doing graduation, has also joined him and proudly continuing the tradition.

Hats off to his service!!!

Link for ABC Wednesday

H for Holi Hai!!!

To start with, Happy Women’s Day!!! 😀 to all the lovely ladies out there.

Holi_Hai

Holi-Hai!!!

What better topic than Holi this week. Being celebrated on 20th March this year, it is celebrated on the last day of Phalguna month of the lunar calendar i.e. at the end of winter.  Holi, the Indian festival of colours, is well known through out the world.  So I am not writing more about the way it is celebrated, I am diggin’ into H for History a little.

As with history, there are multiple stories surrounding the festival. All of them invariably on the theme of victory of good over evil and onset of new season spring, the season of love. I am writing one of  them here.

Long ago there lived a king named Hiranyakashapu who had forbidden his subjects to worship anybody other than him. But, as fate had it, his very own son Prahlad was an ardent worshipper of  Lord Vishnu. He decided to seek his sister Holika’s help as she had a boon that she could enter the fire and come out unscathed. She coaxed Prahlad, the King’s son, to sit on her lap and entered the fire. Prahlad kept chanting the Lords name and came out unhurt but Holika unaware that the boon works only when she enters the fire alone got burnt in the fire.

The festival gets the name “Holi” from Holika. This marks the triumph of good over evil, the victory of a true devotee. Even today people burn the effigies of Holika(Holika dahan) and huge bonfires are lit to mark the festival. People also offer grams and stalks from the harvest to ‘Agni Devta’ (God of Fire). Lord Krishna (reincarnation of Lord Vishnu) seem to have started the trend of colours by applying the colour on Radha and the other Gopikas.

Whatever be the reason, all of us love to play with the colours and have unlimited fun on this day. Enjoy maadi…Holi Hai!!!!

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