Tag Archive: festivals


A few trees that are entwined with Hinduism…

As I wandered around the kalyANa mantapam (festivity venue) at Chromepet, it struck me that there are so many trees that are inextricably entwined with Hindu rituals and customs…and I was lucky to be able to photograph some of them, right there. I am giving the Tamizh names and the link to the Wikipaedia entries about them, too.

One is the

pArijAtha or “pavazha malli” (literally, “coral jasmine” maram (maram is tree is Tamizh).

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The flowers of the tree are very beautiful:

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They fall like stars to the ground, where they are gathered up for worship by devout Hindus in the morning.

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Though the wiki entry mentions the mythology of the tree being the focus of a tussle between Rukmani and Sathyabhama, two of Krishna’s beloved, there is a story about Hanuman having his abode amongst the roots of this tree:

“AnjanEyam athi pAtalAnanam/ kAnchanAdri kamanIya vigraham/ pArijAtha tharu mUla vAsinam/ bhAvayAmi bhava mAna nandanam”.

My parents had a huge tree in the garden, and I would gather the flowers, distribute them amongst our neighbours, and take some to the nearby “vyAyAm ghar” (exercise place) where there was an image of Hanuman, and offer them there. My practice of reciting the Anjaneya Ashtothram (108 names of Hanuman) dates from the time I was 14 or 15…and in spite of my agnosticism, it’s something I never fail to do, till date!

Another tree that was common in gardens of temples is the

Vilva maram

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The fruit of the tree is used for both food and medicine, even today. In folklore, the tri-foliate form of leaves symbolize the trident that Shiva holds in his right hand.

The third tree, that is used everywhere in Hindu rites and rituals, is the

<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banana&quot; Banana or Plantain tree, called vAzhai maram

Every part of the tree is useful; the stem is used as a vegetable (yes, I cook it, too, and it’s one of my daughter’s favourite vegetables!) as is the raw fruit; the flowers are also cooked; the “petals” of the banana flower were often used as informal containers during meals; the leaves are an essential part of the south Indian feast…an “elai shAppAdu” (leaf meal) is a must, where the food is served on plantain leaves, with the “nuNi” (tip of the leaf) intact. (The leaf-tip must face to the left, I don’t know why that rule!)

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The banana stems are chopped, and the mantapam entrance is decorated with the leaves and the banana flower forming a graceful arch of welcome for the guests.

Many of our dishes are also cooked or steamed in banana leaves, which form a great traditional lining. Even today, I enjoy unwrapping the spiral of banana leaf which encloses the “kadubu”, a Kannada dish somewhat like an iddli. Kerala dishes made with jackfruit and rice flour are also steamed in plantain leaves.

I photographed a very huge variety of this plant at Lalbagh, on 080211:

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The plant was mis-labelled as “Crown of Thorns”, though. I also clicked the stamens, which are cooked after the pistils are carefully removed:

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In Coorg tradition, the bridegroom chops down several banana stems in symbolism for wild animals, to show his manly prowess. In Tamil Nadu, we sometimes had young women married to symbolic banana stems when the grooms could not be physically present. No, I refuse to go further with the banana symbolism!

Another tree that is always associated with Hindu rites is the

mA maram (mango tree).

The mango is considered the king of fruits in India, and the wood is used for cheap furniture; the leaves are an essential part of the “thOraNam” decorating doorways to homes, and the fruit, in its baby (mAvadu) and raw (mAngAi) forms are used in making delicious pickles.

In this photograph, taken before the varalakshmi pUjA, you can see both banana trees and mango leaves for sale, to decorate the goddess’ mantapams in people’s homes.

IMG_0183 Banana trees and mango leaves to decorate

I won’t write much about the

Coconut palm…thennai maram …as it is so ubiquitous!

You can see how palm fronds are used for decoration:

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In this pic you can see coconuts rolled up in dhotis, to be gifted to the priests:

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We cannot do without coconuts for any puja!

It’s a great pity that our strong links to trees seem to be getting diluted these days…and we seem to think of them not as living beings, complementing our lives, but hindrances to “development”, especially to the faster flow of motorized traffic!

When appearances are more important

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Sometimes, the appearance seems to be more important than safety on our roads. I saw several autos, vans and cars bedecked with flowers in this way, on the eve of Bali Padyami. How the drivers of such vehicles can drive safely is beyond me. While such festive displays make for quaint, National-Geographic-type of photography, how is it that the traffic police look the other way when road safety is so blatantly compromised?

Some of the BULBs (Bangalore Urban Lady Birders) decided to meet up for lunch at Halli Mane on Sankranti Day:

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The decorations were beautiful…

made of palm fibre:

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made of palm fronds:

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This is the menu, as displayed on the board:

kharabUjatha rasa (Musk Melon juice)
eLLu–bellA-kabbu (Sesame seeds-jagger-sugar cane)
hesaru beLe pAyasA( Mung dal payasa)
mAvina midi uppinkAyA (Maavadu, small mango pickle)
chOLada kOsambari (Salad with corn and grated carrots)
moLagekkALu, dAdimba kOsambari (Salad with sprouted green gram and pomegranate)
Alu gaddE palyA (potato curry)
dondekkAi, gOdambi palya (ivy gourd, cashewcurry)
mAvina kAyi chutney (mango chutney, not sweet)
sihi pongal (sweet pongal)
khArA pongal (savoury pongal)
avarekkALu usli (preparation with winter beans)
avarekkAlu bAth (rice with avarekkAlu beans)
happaLA-sandigE (appaLAm and vadAm) (the appalam or paapad was made from jackfruit)
avarekkALu gasi
annA (rice)
thOvvE-thuppA (dal , ghee)
thiLi sAru ( clear rasam)
shuntthi thambuLi (ginger paste)
amatikkAyi gojju (hog-plum gojju)
kumbaLakkAyi majjige huLi
guLLa huLi (Udupi brijal sambar)
mosaru (yogurt)
kobbari hOLige (coconut pOLi)
bALe hannina rasAyana (ripe banana custard)
avarekkALu masAla vade
avarekkAyi hayagrIvA ( a thick gravy preparation)
bharathA
bhAvanA shuntthi (digestive; ginger with sour tones)
bALe haNNu (banana)
ele-adike (betel leaf and supAri)

The leaf looked like this, when I had to start eating, as I had to finish some of this before the next few courses:

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At this point, 18 of the 30 items were on the leaf. And at the end, the leaf had to look like this:

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Here are all of us, kindly clicked by a fellow-luncher:

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This is for every fellow-Indian (especially Kannadigas) who cannot have food like this when they feel like it….I thought of each of you!

Good Tidings for the festivals!

Everyone feels festive, and rather generous, on an auspicious day…and many people like to tap into this vein of generosity.

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Here’s the itenerant with her decorated cow…she walks through the streets on festivals like Sankranti (in fact, this was taken on Ekadasi day, on the 4th of March…the 11th day after the new moon)….calls out to householders that good times are coming. The cow is trained to nod its head to every rhetorical question that her owner asks (“Is prosperity coming to this house? Will happiness rule in this place?”) and when the children come running out to see the colourful spectacle, hopefully, the lady of the house will spare some food, or the master of the house will give a little money…and so another day in the life of the “Good Tidings Woman” passes, with the generosity of the people of the neighbourhood.

Chokka Naatha Swamy Temple: Suryanjali: 040312

I’d been to the Gavi (Cave) Gangadeshwara Temple earlier, and watched the wonderful phenomenon of the sun’s rays lighting up the lingam in the garbha griha (sanctum sanctorum)…but what I had not known was that there is (at least) one more temple in Bangalore, where the same phenomenon occurs…right now (UttarAyaN,the southern traverse of the sun) and between end of September and first week of October (DakshinAyaN…southern traverse of the sun.).

So, when Uma Bharath (fast developing into a very dear friend) called me up on Saturday and said that the time to visit the

Chokkanatha Swamy Temple

was within the next couple of days, and early in the morning (when the rising sun’s rays would fall on the idol of Vishnu)…I dragged an extremely reluctant KM, and a very willing friend, Jayashree, and off we went, early on Sunday morning.

When we got there, it was still dark, and we went into the sanctum, and found a few people already there. It was 6.40am when the priests finished, with clockwork precision, their various pujas and rites, and switched off all the lights in the temple. First, the utsava vigrahas (the smaller idols, which are the ones taken out in temple processions during “utsava” or festivals) were lit up…and then, the idol of vishNu, decorated as Venkateshwara (Lord of Gold)…was aglow and sparkled in the sun’s rays. It was just uncanny to watch….

Here are a few views (photography is allowed at the temple, something I have noticed, and appreciated, in many Karnataka temples.)

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Here are the utsava vigrahas and the bowls of various items for the abhishEka or the ritual ablutions:

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Here, the golden feet of the main idol can be seen:

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I reflected…on the beauty of the idol, the skill of the builders of the temple who ensured that the idol of the god is thus illuminated, the necessity of keeping tall buildings from being built, that would block the sunlight (such a building could be far away, down the lane that leads to the temple, and beyond it!)…and the sheer beauty of the sun’s offerings of his rays to Vishnu! It was a peaceful, serene time..of utter happiness. There’s been great happiness in my life, lately, and I gave heartfelt thanks, too….how lucky I was, in every way, including being able to witness the evening sun’s rays (by sheer accident, then…I did not know the time!) at Basavanagudi, and then here, at Domlur, near the old (HAL) airport!

Just outside the sanctum is an amazing documentation of the history of the temple,

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and this painting of the temple as it stood (not very high!) on 15th August, 1947, the day of India’s independence from British rule:

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Here’s a short video I took, of the abhishEkam to the utsava vigrahas:

 

Here’s a scene of Vishnu and his devotees, from the temple….

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For more photos from the temple,

click here

for my Facebook album

The Facebook album with photos of my visit to the Gavi Gangadheswara Temple is

here

on another Facebook album

Colours and photography….

Been gallivanting as usual….Lalbagh on the 25th morning, to Gulakmale on the 26th, to Bannerghatta JLR on the 27th, to volunteer with 48 children from Vidya Niketan, Bangalore…. it’s been a wonderful time.

Here is an image of a push-cart seller from Lalbagh:

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And this one, with a shaft of sunlight:

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On the night of the 25th, I also went to “Yamini”, an all-night music and dance festival at Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore. Here’s a photograph of light percolating through the smoke of the mosquito-repellents:

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In the dark, I got the colours of this Bougainvillea because of some back-lighting:

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I enjoy colours very much…and unexpected effects on my MLC!

Lalbagh: Republic Day Flower Show

To see my article on Citizen Matters,

click here

and if you would like to see more photographs, and have a Facebook account, you can see them

here

The album is set for public viewing.

Here’s the Glass House at Lalbagh, lit up in the pre-dawn:

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And the beautiful Sanchi Stupa, under construction:

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Maidanahalli Sunset, 251211

The Maidanahalli Blackbuck Reserve, in Tumkur District, Karnataka, is famous for the critically-endangered Blackbuck:

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But it also has some quite amazing scenery, and sunset on the grassland, ringed around with hills, is awe-inspiring. This post is dedicated towho shares my love for sunrises and sunsets.

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Incredible fact…the greater the pollution, the more colourful the sunrises and sunsets…

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A discount of…how much????

I have been posting most of the funny signs I’ve snapped on Facebook

(click

here

to see the album)

but I felt I must share this one….

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A friend of mine replied to my query about why the sign was on its side, saying it was because….”the discount was heavy”!

I am now looking for a shop that gives me a 110% discount…that is, for every Rs.100 worth of merchandise, they will give it to me free and give me Rs.10 as well!

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Wish you light and happiness, no matter whether you celebrate this festival or not!

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