Custom Search

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Navratri, Durga Puja in India

Navaratri (Dushera or Dasara) celebrations started today across India. The festival starts on the first day of Lunar month Ashvayuja (Ashwayuja), runs for nine nights and culminates on the tenth day of the month. While the main festival is celebrated on the eighth, ninth and tenth days; Maa Durga (Kali), the Goddess of Valor is worshiped during all the days of the festival.

Every year, Navaratri is celebrated with pomp and gaiety across India. In fact, different regions have different practices of celebrating the festival. Bengal is known for the Navratri celebrations. The last four days of the festival is celebrated in worshiping Durga across the community pandals set up in this part of the country.

Photo: Goddess Durga decorated as Shakambari.

In the western part of the country, Gujarat marks the celebrations with Garba (a group dance). Garba literally means the womb. As per Hindu mythology, Goddess Durga is the mother of all life in the universe, the source of all knowledge/wisdom. Durga creates and sustains the never ending cycle of life. To commemorate this, an earthen pot with a lamp inside it is kept on the ground and devotees dance around the earthen pot. The devotees form a chain/circle and dance to the rhythmic tunes. If you are in Gujrat, don’t miss an opportunity to be part of the Garba that happens on every evening of Navratri. If you are in Ahmedabad, National institute of Design (NID) is the place to be on the evening of the festival

Down South, the Navaratri is celebrated as Dasara. The Chamundeshwari Temple in Mysore and the Durga Temple in Vijayawada are famous worshiping places during the festival. Dasara festival of Mysore is a major tourist attraction, with the royal family of Mysore celebrating the event with great verve. The temple on serene Chamundi hills is the place to visit during the festival. Goddess Durga in the form of Chamundi killed demon king Mahisha (Mahishasura) here. Many in India know that Mysore gets its name from the demon king Mahisha. Mysore = Mahisha + Ore. “Ore” in Kannada is “town” – its something like Bangal’ore’

Andhra celebrates Dasara by worshiping Durga in various forms. Every day of the festival, one form of goddess Durga is worshiped. On the last Friday that comes in the ten days, Durga is worshiped in the form of Lakshmi (the lord of prosperity). On the day when Moon is in Mula (Moola) constellation, Durga is worshiped in the form of Saraswati (the Muse). The last three days are the main festival with 8th day celebrated as Durga Ashtami, 9th day as Mahar Navami, 10th day as Vijaya Dasami.

Up North, in Delhi, Dushera is concluded with the last day celebrated as the day of King Ram’s victory over Demon Ravana. The Ram Leela grounds in Delhi will have spectacular show of fireworks where an effigy of demon king Ravana will be burnt.

All in all, if you are visiting India during this time, make it a point to participate in the Navaratri festivities. It will be a memorable event for you.

Remembering is like Re-Living, A philosophical perspective

Remembering is like Re-Living. That’s what Indian Vedic Philosophy Preached!

Recently, Scientists at University of Pennsylvania found that, for the human brain, remembering is nothing but re-doing the activity.

Professor Michael Kahana, the professor of Psychology at University of Pennsylvania, recorded the activity of the brain and concluded that the neurons that fire when a person remembers an activity are the same set of neurons which are fired when the actual event happened.

In Vedic philosophy of Advaita, Adi Shankaracharya preaches that everything that we perceive could just be an illusion and the only truth is god (I know, I over simplified the concept in an attempt to keep the rest of the article simpler). In this Maya theory, Shankara argues that, what we consider as our life could just be someone else’s dream. What that means is, we might not be existing as an entity as we think ---This is contrary to what Descartes preached – Cogito Ergo Sum (I think therefore I am) --- Our existence can just be an illusion of someone else.

This thinking is seen in the Zulu culture of South Africa. The customary Zulu greeting exchanged by the tribes of sub Saharan Africa is as follows

Greeting: Sawu Bona! (A casual greeting like: How are you doing?)
Response: Sikhona! (A casual response like: Fine, Thank you!)

However, the exact meaning of the conversation is intriguing. “Sawu Bona” means “I noticed your existence/presence”. And “Sikhona” means “I exist because you recognized/acknowledged my presence”. It indicates a deep philosophical connotation that my existence has no meaning until you notice/recognise me and imagine me in your thoughts.

Now that may be a little difficult to comprehend. If my life is someone else’s dream, how am I feeling the pain of this daily life?? Shankara says that the answer is simple. Imagine you had a dream and the person in the dream is hurt. “The person in the dream” will feel the pain “in your dream”. The moment you wake up, the “person in the dream” and “his pain” disappear. Imagine a dream where the “person in the dream” is thirsty. If “the person in the dream” drinks a glass of water “in the dream” then his thirst gets quenched. But if you wake up, then the “person in the dream” and "his thirst" become irrelevant.

Going by these examples, just close your eyes and imagine about an even that happened sometime back. As the event is played out in your memory, it might actually be happening as a parallel universe!!

Now, as I am confused and confused my readers, I suggest you all to go back to bed and start dreaming. You might as well be creating a parallel universe where you are living a happy life with the one you wanted!!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Week That Was

While winding up this week, couple of funny news items come to my mind.

The first one was that the Reliance ADAG group chairman Anil Ambani's witty banter with share holders at the Annual General Meeting. Some RNRL investors asked him on why Anil's elder son Anmol has a bigger share than his younger son Anshul. Anil quipped that "now you know what happens to younger sons in a family" :)

Apparently Anil was referring to his continued fight with elder brother Mukhesh Ambani.

Talking about Anil, I consider him as one of the most charismatic leaders of corporate India. The only blot was his association with Amar Singh & Mulayam of Samajwadi Party. What I wonder is, if at all Ambani has to align with a political outfits, then there are better/bigger/powerful political entities in the country. Amarsingh is the last person that Anil should've gone to. I guess, that was one of the reasons why Mukhesh kept Anil Ambani away.

The other new item was about Home minister Shivraj Patil's reaction to Orissa Floods. Ajit Ninan in a cartoon captured the essence: "The Home minister seems to be confused. He assured flood victims total protection from terrorists" ;)

Ajit Ninan is a great cartoonist who captures the mood. When Communists expelled Somnath Chatterjee, he commented on Prakash Karat, that: “He wanted Bush, MNCs and MMS out; but ended up sacking Somnath Da!”

A reader on Rediff commented that our politicians pee in pants had they been in a terror site when the event happened. I bet, that the politicians pee in pants even to go and visit the place after the incident took place. That is the reason for Home Minister Shivraj Patil changing his dress three times on the evening of Delhi Blasts.

Friday, September 26, 2008

India is Changing - BSNL/MTNL Vs Bharti Airtel and Reliance Commn

"India is Changing", shouted Ravi, coming in.

“What a cliché! That was the logo of the last decade” I said.

“You are mistaken! It’s a full circle now. We are going back to old days”, smiled Ravi and started describing the events.

Ravi is relocated to an Mumbai and took up a new job with India’s leading telecommunications service provider. As an engineer who looks after the communication services for millions of consumer, he thought his company was the best Telecom company in the country.

One week into the job, Ravi enquired how can he get all the communication facilities at his new residence. As he and team boasts about the triple play (voice, data, video from the same cable/wire), he asked the personal business on how to get the connection at his home. The personal business redirected him to approach the commercials. The commercials asked him to approach the service outlet in his neighborhood. Now the service outlet doesn’t know anything called triple play. After many visits to many other departments Ravi decided to go “one play” at a time. That is, first get a land line, then data and then video. The outlet help desk replied that they don’t know whether the apartment complex is served by his company or not.

After doing many rounds like that, Ravi started pondering for the definition of customer service. Nobody in business is bothered about what the end user’s requirements are. If an employee’s experience is like this, then what would be the aam admi’s plights?

On that Saturday evening, walking back home from the customer care center of the India’s biggest private sector telecom company, Ravi came across the state run telecom service provider MTNL’s office. Just curious to know, what are these competitor’s offering to the customer, Ravi went to the security outpost outside the state run telecom company. At 7:30 in the evening, the guard gave a warm smile and asked Ravi to talk to the executive sitting in side the office.

“India is changing!!” roared Ravi. He was absolutely surprised to find the state run telecom company to be open at 7:30 in the evening and that too on a Saturday and the staff is warm enough to invite him to talk to them.

As Ravi entered the office, the executive who was on a phone, concluded her conversation, apologized for not attending him immediately. She went on to describe all the offers available and handed over an application form and a checklist of documents to be submitted.

Within 4 days, Ravi has MTNL's land telephone with National and International (STD/ISD) call facility, a high speed broadband service, a beta version of IPTV service.

“Its time that the Bharti’s and Ambani’s learn from the state run telecom company. Customer Service should not be just in slogans. It should be in action” concluded Ravi.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Meridhun - Where Music Lives

One of the most interesting pass-time of the ragging days at our college is to parody all famous songs with all known slangs. The parodying by replacing the words with friends' names was fun.

Now, after getting into work place, we still continued the parodying songs to tease the co-workers. One of the harmless parody was to sing the following, whenever we get bored in antakshari’s

Jadoo Teri Nazar, Khushboo Tera Badan
Tu Haan Kar Ya Naa Kar , Tu Hai Meri Kiran Jadoo

in the tune of
Om Jai Jagadeesh hare, swaami jai jagadeesh hare

Talking about parodies, recently I came across this site Meridhun (, which has created a whole portal around parodying and making our own versions of popular melodies of bygone era. It’s a start up in Indore and has a nice business idea.

All we need to do is to select a song of our choice and suggest the modifications in the song. Meridhun crew will alter those portions of the song and deliver the song to you online or through a CD at a reasonable price.

I tried the song from Zamane Ko Dikhana Hai, by replacing Kaanchi, with my lady’s name:

Hoga Tumse Pyara Kaun, Humko To Tumse Hai Hey XXXX, Hey XXXX,

They delivered it promptly in a couple of days and my lady is surprised to listen to the almost original song with her lovely name in it.

It was fun. Try it.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Delhi Blasts and aftermath

I didn’t feel posting the news on this blog, as the events did unfold on Saturday evening. Along with the nation, I was struck by the grief that’s been haunting the innocent citizens of Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Jaipur and now Delhi.

But, what made me write now is the shame-less media coverage that has been happening since Saturday evening. All these news channels have no regard for life. There were photographers who were capturing the shots of the bleeding citizens at the ground zero. They were clamoring to capture the shots of the dying innocents.

Here are some from the leading daily
Why are these photographers NOT helping those poor souls?

The TV reporters and award winning journalists have scant regard for the security and safety of the people. They don’t have the ethics of not streaming the pictures of the witness, a kid who claimed to have seen the terrorists. All the main news channels beamed the boy’s face and his confession on prime time news. None of them have any regard to the safety of the boy.

While the so called national news channels were busy in capturing the snaps of the amputated bodies, it is the rag pickers and beggars who saved the rest of the crowed in Delhi, by giving leads to un exploded bombs.

Worse than the media’s role, it is the Home Minster Shivraj Patil, of this troubled nation who let us the citizens down today, with his interview on CNN IBN new channel. Mr Patil says that, the home ministry has all the information about the imminent attack. But, they just don’t know “where” in Delhi and “when”. It was shameful of a leader to make such an idiotic statement. What Mr. Patil expects is that the terrorists should disclose “where” and “when” to him, so that he will take his Madam Sonia Gandhi’s advice on what to do “next”.

While I’m not a supporter of either Congress or BJP, I’m particularly appalled by Patil and am greatly impressed with Modi’s elegant reaction to the tragedy. Modi simply acknowledged the fact that the Delhi blasts information was available from Ahmedabad interrogations and the same has been given to UPA government and the National Security Advisor. Modi stopped at that, and refrained from making any political game out of it. Moreover, he chided reporters by saying that in this time of crisis, the ruling party and opposition and all Indians should stand together.

While mourning the tragedy of the Saturday, I suggest all the Media not to make money of the dead and injured. And the spine less home minister who says in the interview that he has “the blessings of madam Sonia, to continue in the home ministry”; should understand that Home Minister is not a minister of “Madam’s Home” to seek her blessings. He better understand that he needs the blessings of citizens to hold his office.

These two interviews of Modi and Patil made me decide. My vote is for Modi as the next Home Minister.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

ICC Awards 2008, Dubai

The ICC 2008 Cricket Awards ceremony is underway at Dubai tonight. Here are the awards as they are declared:

ODI Player of the Year - MS Dhoni (India)
T20 International Performer of The Year - Yuvraj Singh (India)
Emerging Player of the Year - Ajantha Mendis (Sri Lanka)
Spirit of Cricket - Sri Lanka
Umpire of the Year - Simon Taufel (Australia)
Cricketer of the Year - ShivNarine Chanderpaul

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Tata Halts the Nano Plant at Singur

As per their earlier statement, Tata Motors suspended its plans for the Nano Plant at Singur, considering the security of its employees.

As discussed in my earlier article, Tata, Nano, Singur & Mamata; it is unfortunate for the country where bad politics is playing with the industry and spoiling the economic development of the state.

Good to see that more and more celebrities joining to support Tata’s. Saw Saurav Ganguly supporting Tata’s cause in Singur and I wish many more will join the brigade now.

Lets hope that murky politics stop interfering with the Industry in India

Ganesh Chaturthi – Eka Vimsati Patra Puja

On Vinayaka Chaviti, Hindus worship Lord Ganesh.

Unlike normal puja’s where the worshiping is done by offering flowers, Ganapati pooja is done by offering various leaves and fruits, as the God is made up of Elephant head and the Tusker is fond of various leaves and fruits.

As per tradition, a total of 21 (Eka Vimsati) varieties of plants/leaves (Patra) are used in the puja. The Patri (collection of Patra) is available in the markets on this day

Here is the list of the 21 leaves:

1. Maachi
2. Brihati
3. Bilwa
4. Durvaara Yugma (Grass)
5. Dattoora
6. Badari
7. Apa Marga
8. Tulasi
9. Choota (Mango)
10. Karaveera
11. Vishnu Kranta
12. Daadimi (Pomogranate)
13. Devadaaru
14. Maruvaka
15. Sindhuvaara
16. Jaaji
17. Shami
18. Aswatha
19. Arjuna
20. Arka
21. Nimba (Neem)

Now a days, it’s rare to find all these leaves. Many urban-dwellers don’t even know some of these leaves.

However, Ganesha is most happy with the Durvaara Yugma (Grass). So, one can offer the green grass in lieu of all those other leaves that one cant find!

Happy Vinayaka Chavithi!

Atham, the beginning of Onam

The Indian state of Kerala celebrates Atham, the beginning of 10 day long Tiruvonam celebrations. The day is celebrated with floral decorations called Pookalam or Atham Pookalam and with feasts by Keralites.

In Hindu mythology, Kerala was ruled by king Maha Bali. Under the rule of this scholar king, Kerala blossomed with prosperity. Because of his growing popularity, he starts fighting with Gods, who he thinks are threat to his existence. So, Lord Vishnu decides to remove Bali from earth and goes to him in the incarnation of Vamana. Bali is a great donor and never says no to people who come to him. Vamana asks for 3 feet of land and Bali agrees to give. Then Vamana grows big and occupies all the land with one feet and all the sky with second foot. For the third foot, Bali offers his head and has been pushed to Patala (an imaginary universe).

But for all the virtues of Bali, Vamana blesses him to get a chance to visit his people every year and this visit is celebrated as Thiruvonam in Kerala. Today, it is the national festival in Kerala.

If you have Malayali’s in your neighborhood, don’t miss out watching Onam Pookalam (10 day long floral decorations), Onasadya (9 course grand meal) Onakalikal (Sports). If you are visiting Kerala don’t miss Elephant races and Vallamkali (the snake boat race) and ofcourse, the beautiful traditional costumes!

Wish the readers a happy Onam!

Ganesh Prayer on Ganesh Chaturthi


Suklambara dharam Vishnum
Sashi Varnam Chaturbhujam
Prasanna Vadanam dhyayeth
Sarva Vighnopa Shantaye

Agajaanana Padmarkam
Gajanana Maharnisham
Aneka Dan-Tam Bhaktaanaam
Eka Dantam Upaasmahe

This is the prayer that every child learns in his pre school days. For a long time, I used to wonder what the meaning of the poem is. I was particularly puzzled by the salutation “Aneka Dantam” which, I thought, meant “the god with many tusks”.

I recently came to know, the actual salutation is “Aneka-Dan-Tam”, which means the god who grants many wishes. (Aneka = Many, Dan = Wishes, Tam = Thee Grants)

Also, someone asked me the meaning of "Agajaanana Padmarkam". It means, I worship the Ganesha who brings smiles to his mother, Goddess Gauri.

Agajanana = Agaja + Anana = Aga (Mountain) + Ja (Born to) + Anana (Face)
So, Agajanana = To the face of Daughter of Mountain (Girija/Gauri/Parvathi)

Padmarkam = Padma (Lotus) + Arkam (Sun)

When Sun rises, Lotus blossoms (feels happy/joy)!
Similarly, Goddess Gauri's Lotus like face will be happy when she sees Ganesha.

On the occasion of Vinayaka Chaviti, Here is the Complete Translation:
I worship thee, The bright and illuminating God, who is dressed in white robe, who is equivalent to Lord Vishnu, who is always cheerful and the one who removes all my obstacles!

I worship thee, The Son of Parvati, who will remove all the darkness, who grants many wishes of his devotees and the God with a single Tusk!

Ganesh Chaturthi

India Celebrates Vinayaka Chaviti this Sunday, 01-Sep-11. The festival is called by different names in different parts in India. While the Maharashtra (Bombay, Pune) people call it Ganapati, the Kannada (Bangalore) people celebrate it as Gauri Ganesha, the Telugu's (Hyderabad) Vinayaka Chaturdhi and the Tamils (Madras) Vinayagar Chaturthi.

As per Hindu mythology, Vinayaka (Ganesha/Ganapati) is the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati (Gauri/Uma). Ganesha is the Isha (ruler) of Gana's - the groups of attendants of Lord Shiva. He controls all the obstacles that humans may face in this world.

Irrespective of the festival day, through out the year, all Hindus worship Ganesha before starting any major task of their life. Indeed, worshiping Ganesha is the first part of any Hindu ritual.

The annual festival of Ganesh Chaturdhi falls on 4th day of lunar month Bhadrapada and is Vinayaka Chaviti is celebrated with lot of fervor. People set up community worshiping centers in all neighborhoods and conduct puja's.

Some of the neighborhoods in various cities are famous for these community worshiping. For instance, the Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal attracts a million devotees on the festival day. The Khairatabad Ganapati is known to be the tallest Ganapati Idol in Hyderabad, every year.

I wish all the readers, a happy Ganesha Chaturdhi!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Isha Ambani, Vanisha Mittal and Pia Singh in Forbe's list

Three Indians got into Forbe's list of billionaire heiresses.

Steel Tycoon Lakshmi Nivas Mittal's daughter Vanisha Mittal is ahead in the race, followed by Isha Ambani. Isha, the 16 year old daughter of Mukesh Ambani (Reliance Industries) has a stake of $80M inherited from her father.

Closely following Isha Ambani is Pia Singh, the daughter of Real Estate czar KP Singh (DLF).

Dr. D Subba Rao is next RBI Governor

Dr. Duvvuri Subbarao is next governor of Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Subbarao replaces the Y V Reddy, whose tenure ends this week.

Subbarao is currently serving as the finance secretary in the central government.

Apparently, Subbarao takes over the mantle of the central bank at one of the most challenging times for the economy of this country. With the general elections around the corner, Subbarao will sure be in the hot seat.

Let us wish him good luck!