Uttrayan in pictures!

One of the best times to be in Gujarat is during Uttrayan. This festival is celebrated with full gusto by people here.

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One of the most important reason’s this festival is so popular here are the kites! The colours of these kites will fill the skies and there is a mad scramble about to get the kites!

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On the 14th of January the terraces wear a festive look all of a sudden with umbrella’s, tents suddenly being set up on the terrace! Music blares from roof tops and those who don’t fly kites will sit and joke or dance! :D

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There are kids who will throw tantrums, there will be husbands who say their kite got cut coz the lady holding the reel made a technical error, there will be friends who will fly with turns in holding the reel and yes, almost all the terraces are full of ladies as well. This festival is a full blown family affair celebrated by young, old, man, woman and kids all alike! :)

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And when the whole family is celebrating the festival, can bollywood be behind?! There were all sorts of actors, actresses on kites. Here one of my friend is happy to let Katrina fly away into the sky, poor soul doesn’t realise that elusive women like her should be held on to tightly! Btw, you know even Salman came to Gujarat to fly kites, err… well he came to promote his movie Jai Ho! Smartly or co-incidentally he was seen with Narendra Modi of all people to have the tongues wagging in the media, their pictures grabbing headlines and I felt neither Modi nor Salman would have complained one bit! Both got enough mileage out of the kite flying! :mrgreen:

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I say both of them blew their trumpet to their hearts content, one projected his secular image and the other sought enough attention to keep people aware of the movie he is coming in near future! :P Oh and yes, New folder1there were kids too who blew the trumpets with all the wind in their lungs and made life unbearable on the terraces with the unbelievably irritating noise! To cater to kids there was Chota Bheem too to adorn the skies!

Too bad was the fact that I forgot to click a picture of the actual food we had, being busy with kites myself I was late for lunch and by then the presentation was just not possible. However, I do have this one image of ‘Undhiyu’ which is a must eat on this day. Generally the lunch consists of Undhiyu, Poori, Jalebi. Lots of chikki, Til-gud and all sorts of possible goodies you can imagine will be eaten. Its a kind of pot-lunch (actually a full day meal) that everyone brings from their houses to the terrace they all decide to make their base for the day!

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The seasonal subzi ‘Undhiyu’ aside its kites, fun, frolic, food, crackers, hot air balloons, music on the terraces all day long!

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Apparently these days a lot of people also burst a lot of cracker’s and here is one shot I managed to click of it and I loved it and hence I must share it! :D

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This year there was an amazing sight in the night, these chinese miniature hot air balloons were left in the air in thousands by all terraces and the night sky was a sight to see… unfortunately I could not capture a picture that would do justice to that sight. It was an ethereal sight, that can only been seen and not captured or described!

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Imagine the night sky illuminated by thousands of such balloon’s!!!!! The vast dark night sky was adorned by thousands of such balloons flying about! Until next year then I guess! :D :D

The non believer in me…

This actually stems from one sms and one fb post and some discussions I was lately having with Jay during our Udaipur trip. This might be a long post so if you want an alert, treat this as one. A sort of a Khichdi post…

First I will share the sms I received today morning at 6.45 – “Jai Jinendra – Bakri eid nimitey lakho abol jivo ni katal thashe. Abol jivo ni aatma ne shanti ane moksh maley mate navkar mantra no jaap karva vinanti.” – Translated – Jai Jinendra – Since its Bakri eid lakhs of lives who cannot speak will be killed. For the peach and attainment of Heaven (moksha) of these aminals who cannot speak you are requested to recite Navkar Mantra.”

Admittedly my reply sms to my Jain friend was, “Jain Jinendra, people who drink milk from other animal’s mother and call themselves vegetarians should not question other people’s belief, thousands die everyday so keep reciting your prayers everyday for them. Don’t join the bandwagon think or else don’t send me such messages.”  I felt it was completely insensitive to bombard another set of belief’s. I also admit my reply too was perhaps naive and an angry one.

Second is this update by Sagarika on Facebook. It is a public post and everyone will be able to see the post.

How does a girl not believing in Ram and why women are being raped are connected I will never be able to comprehend. I mean give me a break, the guy is probably the sickest mind going around or a religious fanatic perhaps !? I leave that for you to judge.

Anyways, about my thoughts about religion and God’s well…

Lets start the story from a recent trip when I was travelling with my friend Jay, with us escorting about 60 school children on a trip to Kumbhal Garh and Udaipur. Kumbhalgarh is an interesting place, a fort built by Rana Kumbha and has so many tale’s it fascinates me. Let me share a small story about the history of Kumbhalgarh that we heard from a guide -

When Rana Kumbha started building his fort he encountered a strange problem, all walls that they would build in the day would fall by night and not stand. Eventually he consulted a saint who said that a human sacrifice was needed for the fort to be constructed, when no one volunteered one traveller priest volunteered and said that he would start walking in the morning on the mountain terrain and that where he stopped first the king should make the gate of the fort, the place where he second stopped the king must behead him and build a temple there and then his body would walk without its head and the place where the headless body would collapse he should build his palace. Now the palace and the temple are so far even a man with his head firmly on his shoulders cannot walk the distance without huffing and puffing !!!

the falling walls of Kumbhalgarh needed a human sacrifice or they would not stand… !!! Interesting story… :) and a fact that this is the second longest wall in the world after the great wall of China.

The kids of 10th and 12th class with us couldn’t really digest the story and there was massive disbelief as well as amused intrigue at the story. Everyone rubbished it as only a flowery story or just mere exaggeration. Now this story happened in the 14th century. We are easily able to rubbish the story as exaggeration are we not !?

Now that evening I and Jay, who is as non-religion as me were discussing various religions and sects. Starting from Rana Kumbha’s stories it was about the disbelief among the students and then eventually to how I thought religions have evolved.

Recently I had been reading a lot about operation blue star and from reading one thing to another I went about finding more and more about Sikhism and I read about how it evolved and read that Guru Nanak who is attributed as the man who founded Sikhism was as Wiki puts, ” It is believed that Guru Nanak is the second most travelled person in the world; most of his journeys were made on foot with his companion Bhai Mardana. He travelled in all four directions – North, East, West and South. The founder Sikh Guru is believed to have travelled more than 28,000 km in five major tours of the world during the period from 1500 to 1524. The record for the most travelled person is held by Ibn Battuta of Morocco.”

Now, we started understanding how Guru Nanak travelled so much and probably got to see so many cultures, different people, different customs etc. probably making him all the better at understanding human mentality and its fallacies.

Now one very important thing that Guru Nanak says, god is neither Hindu nor Musalman, that there is only one God.

I do have a slight question for Guru Nanak too though, even Islam says there is only one God and that all others are prophets, even Adam, Noah, Jesus or Mohammed were all prophets (messengers of God) but there is only one God. So why did he establish another religion ?!

No, I am no historian, I read bits and pieces and try to tailor my own understandings. Did Guru Nanak establish a religion at all ?! Was he not the ultimate traveller who understood or a person who thought he understood things better than most and was just trying to spread his gospel on his many trips ?? Was he not perceived as a very wise man and a person who understood things better than most ?? Eventually granting him God like status ?!

I for one understand this, Guru Nanak is not so distant in history again 15th century and perhaps at his time literacy had spread more, there are more records of that age and era and hence we understand that he was a Guru, certainly a human and not a God and that he founded some principles, probably his disciples after him spread it as Sikhism establishing themselves as the close one’s to the Guru and the one’s who understood his thoughts the best and went about spreading the religion.

Take for example Ramayana, now, it is universally accepted it was a poetic epic written by Valmiki. There are several other versions too but that we leave for some other day.

Now my argument is, how is Rama a deity or a God. Is he not just a piece of fiction !? Don’t crucify me for this, just listen…

I have this theory that probably in the Vedic times when Ramayana was written it was a great story of a great dynasty about defeating a demon king in the southern India. I understand also that at that point of time not many would have understood written literature and hence possibly the story of Ramayana had to be read by some few people who could read. Then probably some of these few men, probably financed by a king, set about travelling and spreading the literature around and possibly conducted gathering’s and recited the poetry and then explaining to the layman what the author meant. There was no TV then so maybe the evening entertainment was reciting these stories. Ramayana I simply love as a story, it has everything does it not ? Now what is a story that does not have exaggeration. Would it be so interesting if they would just say that Rama and Ravana fought for 14 days or a month and Rama won !? But the author or maybe his translator(s) made it such a wonderful story to listen to…. A boring story would not attract crowds, but an interesting one surely would. Humans have always been fascinated by fantasy…

A prince exiled, his wife kidnapped by a demon in a flying chariot, a vulture tries to fight and protect, the elusive search by the exiled prince, aided by monkey’s, a flying monkey burns the whole golden city of Lanka, an army of monkey’s and bear’s gathered, a bridge of floating stones to Sri Lanka and a fight full of stories, one as impossible as bringing Sanjeevani Booti from Himalayas to Lanka in the middle of a battle at a time when no ship’s existed leave alone jet’s !! Well they had a Hanuman then…

I mean people can’t really believe all this happened did it !? Because it is so so back dated old and so little literacy and records of that age are with us we can believe that Rama was a god and Guru Nanak was a mere traveller who spread his gospel that God is one !?

Guru Nanak is perceived largely as a Guru, a human not God whilst Ram is a deity. Nanak started a religion, whilst Ram was born in an existing religion… strange na !?

Why is God anything else but a mere belief !?

Have not religions just been propagated mainly by disciples of great travelling men. Leave aside Guru Nanak and take a look at Mahavir Swami or Buddha both of them travelled about crazily. Amazingly if you notice they too happened during an era of which we have more literary records and hence they are shown as saints with lil superpowers, they didn’t have Sudarshan Chakra’s or they couldn’t fire Brahmastra’s. Also they were aided by strong Kings who probably financed the spread of the religion by sending their disciples far and wide with messages. I firmly believe that probably these all (Mahavir, Buddha, Guru Nanak) were people who probably understood the nuances of human life and psychology a lot better and had remedies when people had problems. They preached their experience and not some religion. They were men who were probably learned and well travelled. However, I feel the disciples of these great men were actually even wiser, read shreweder, then these great travellers because I think they used the knowledge of the discoverer’s to great personal benefit. Religions massively seem to be spread by the disciples who made the rules and regulations as per personal benefits.

Sometimes I really cannot understand why don’t people question things, why do we follow without asking ? Also rules framed somewhere in the 14th century cannot always be relevant in the 20th century can they be !? A lot of customs have science associated to them and I can understand the logic. When I understand the logic behind a particular ritual or ceremony I can follow it so much more with my free will. Please respect my right to not believe as much as you respect your right to believe.

For me actually there is no God, no one has seen him and he doesn’t exist, but, in the minds of people. Have your own belief, and let me have mine.

til ka laddoo and the joy in it ! :D

Picture Courtesy : Deepak Amembal

Waking up early is a bad habit these days… I get up at 4 sometimes at 3 but now with Internet back at home… its not so bad… it gives me enough time to blog hop and that in return gives me more idea’s for posts.. !

Having gotten up at 5 I was blog hopping and I realised so many people help rekindle so many memories… and that is the most beautiful thing about blogs… its real people with real life experiences… !!

Just this morning I was blog hopping and I came across this yummilicious picture by Deepak of Mumbai Daily. Now pause a moment and just look at the picture …. tell me doesnt that look totally delicious ?? drool anyone ?? drool all you like… !! :P :P

I am not having any of those laddooos at home at the moment, but it reminded me of golden old days as kids, when my Granny and Mom wanted us to eat Til Ka Chikki or Til ka Laddoo in winters as it was very good for health and in those days, now dont get shocked, I and my bro’s used to almost desist eating !!

Eventually my granny suggested Mom put coins of 10 paise and 25 paise in the laddoos and tell us that we could spend the money the way we liked… ! 10 paise and 25 paise dont sound a lot do they ?? lol… but in those days you could easily but a kite for 25 paise, also you could buy 4 marbles for 25 paise… !! Infact the laddoos became so popular that even our friends wanted the laddoos !!!!!

My Granny had us eating out of our Mom’s hands, literally !! Even today when I munch at a laddoo there is always this anticipation in my mind, maybe just maybe there might be a coin inside ! (it always crosses my mind) :) :)

Folks today is Makar Sankranti.. and this day marks the beginning of longer days… change of seasons… though its pretty cold today !!!

Wish you and your family a very happy Makar Sankranti !!! :D :D

My heart really  misses being home in Bharuch today, this is the third consecutive year … it would have been great fun to buy kites on 13th, getting manja (thread) from Surat… some friend would rent huge speakers to ensure our music is the loudest in the neighbourhood, someone would be arranging for jalebi’s, some would arrange for Undhiya & Puri for lunch, caps, tapes … more than half the night of 13th would be spent tying the kinna, a process of readying the kites for flying with all friends having gathered at home and my mom assisting also throw in the batata wada’s at midnight brought from the railway station…

And then for the d-day get up early and bath and rush to my friends house and straight to his terrace (my house has too many trees around so impossible to fly kites) throw bits of paper in the air to gauge the air… like the cricketers almost… and then for the thumka’s to have the bird flying in the air… soaring, then making it to dip below the neighbour’s kite and then the adrenalin khench (pulling as fast as you can to cut the thread of another kite) and screaming at the top of voice

 “Kaipo Che…… Lapppetttt…..” :mrgreen:

 

I promise to none other than myself… next year I will be there to fly kites at home !!!!!! :D :D