Monthly Archives: May 2013

Kedarnath Temple

Kedarnath – Jyotirlinga

Kedarnath temple

One of the holiest Hindu temples dedicated to the Lord Shiva and is located on the near Mandakini river. Here, Shiva lingam is pyramid shaped and hence is unique among Shiva temples. Pandavas are believed to have built this temple.

Due to harsh weather conditions, the temple is open only between the end of April (Akshay tritya) to Kartik Purnima (the autumn full moon, usually November) every year. During winters, the vigrahas (deities) from Kedarnath temple are brought to Ukhimath and worshipped there for six months.

Kedarnath is located on a ridge which juts out at right angles from below the 23000 feet high snowy peak of Mahapanth. Kedarnath is located on the Rudra Himalaya range. The Rudra Himalaya range is also known as the Pancha Parvata; its five peaks are Rudra Himalaya, Vishnupuri, Bhramapuri, Udgari-Kanth and Swargarohini. It is believed that four of the Pandavas died on the last of these peaks.

 

Kedarnath Temple

Kedarnath Temple

Legend behind Kedarnath Jyotirlinga

Two incarnations of Lord Vishnu by the names of Nara and Vishnu did penance at Badrikasharama. Both of them used to worship the idol of Shiva daily. Lord Shiva used to arrive in his subtle form and accept their offerings without being noticed by them.
One day Lord Shiva appeared before them. Nara and Narayana eulogized him and requested to remain at that place forever. Lord Shiva accepted their request and established himself as ‘Kedareshwar jyotirlinga’.

There is another legend related to Pandavas. After the culmination of Mahabharata war, Pandavas wanted to be absolved of their sins which was due to killing of their own relatives in the war of Mahabharata.

Giving up all their belongings and ties, the Pandavas and Draupadi , accompanied by a dog, made their final journey of pilgrimage to the Himalayas in search of Lord Shiva .
Meanwhile at Kedarnath a very healthy and good looking bull joined them.  Shiva has taken the form of the bull, as he was unhappy with the Pandavas for their deceit during the war, and hence loathe to give them darshan.
The Pandavas sort of had the gut feeling that the buffalo was Shiva in disguise.  Bhima as usual jumped the gun and tried to catch the buffalo by its tail.  Lord Shiva just disappeared into the ground.

Then Bhima went after the buffalo with his mace. The buffalo was clever and Bheema could not catch it. But Bheema managed to hit the buffalo with his mace. The buffalo had its face hidden in a crevice-in the earth. Bheema started to pull it by its tail. In this tug-of war, the face of the buffalo went straight to Nepal, leaving its hind part in Kedar, a  hump above the ground as a Lingam,  and a blazing fiery column of light sprouted. This is why only the Kedarnath Shiva Lingam is a sort of a  hump.

The face of the buffalo is Doleshwar Mahadev located in Sipatol, Bhaktapur, Nepal.

It is also believed that Arjuna, one of the Pandavas worshipped Lord Shiva to attain the divine weapon, Pashupatastra.

Some important and famous places close to Kedarnath mandir

Badrinath – Badrinath which is near the Kedarnath is also a significant pilgrimage spot for the devotees of Lord shiva. The Neelkant peak behind the Badrinath temple is an abode of Lord shiva – like how the Mount Kailash is. It is called Indra Neel Parvat.

Gaurikund – Base for a trek to Kedarnath & serves as a roadhead, the village has hot springs & a temple dedicated to Gauri.

Gandhi Sarovar – A small lake from where Yudhishthir, the eldest of the Pandavas, is said to have departed to heaven. A km trek from Kedarnath, floating ice on the crystal clear waters.

Vasuki Tal – 6 km. At 4135 mtr. above sea level, this lake is extraordinary, surrounded by high mountains and offering an excellent view of the Chaukhamba peaks.

Gauri Kund – 15 km. The trekking base to Kedarnath and the road head, this village has a temple dedicated to Gauri and also thermal springs of medicinal value.

Gupt Kashi – 49 km. Famous for the temples of Ardhnarishwar and Vishwanathji.

Ukhimath – 60 km. Winter home of Lord Kedarnath temple, and the seat of the Rawal of Kedarnath during winter months.

Agastmuni – 73 km., Has a temple dedicated to the sage Agastya.

How to reach

By Air : The nearest convenient Air port is Jolly grant at Dehradun (121 Kms).

By Road : Kedarnath is connected by road with Badrinath (242 KM), Dehradun (268 KM), Delhi (450 KM), Haridwar (250 KM), Kotdwar (256 KM), and Rishikesh (226 KM).

Route : Rishikesh to Kedarnath vai Rudraprayag :- Rishikesh -> Rudraprayaga -> Agastamuni -> Kund -> Gupta kashi -> Phata -> Soneprayag -> Gauri Kund.

Gauri Kund to Kedarnath is 14 KM. This distance has to be covered by foot, ponies, palkies.

By Rail : The nearest convenient railway station are Dehradun and Haridwar. These are well connected with Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta and rest of India through Rail network.

La Tomatina – The tomato festival in Bunol (Spain)

La Tomatina

The History

Bunol, Valencia is famous for Tomatina festival, which is held in every year in the month of August. Its start dates back to 1945, when during a brawl, some people used the tomatoes available nearby as weapons to throw on each other. Soon police intervened and brawl was broken.

La Tomatina

La Tomatina

People remembered the date and next year, same thing was repeated with people brought potatoes from their home. The same events repeated year on year till it was The festival gained popularity with more and more participants getting involved every year till the tradition was established.

The most important landmark in the history of this festival is the year 1975. From this year onwards, “Los Clavarios de San Luis Bertrán” (San Luis Bertrán is the patron of the town of Buñol ) organised the whole festival and brought in tomatoes which had previously been brought by the local people. Soon after this, in 1980, the town hall took the responsibility of organizing the festival.

The event

The main event lasts for about an hour after a loud shot is fired. The tomatoes come from Extremadura, where they are less expensive and are grown specifically for the holidays, being of inferior taste. After exactly one hour, the fight ends with the firing of the second shot, announcing the end. The whole town square is colored red and rivers of tomato juice flow freely.

Tomato supply

Tomato supply

 

Rules of this festival

Despite the wild and free-for-all nature of the event, there are some rules that those taking part have to adhere to:

  • Tomatoes must be squashed before they are throwing as this avoids injuries.
  • Apart from tomatoes, no other projectiles must be thrown.
  • With trucks and lorries passing through carrying more tomatoes, participants must allow these vehicles through.
  • Once the second signal shot is heard, the fight has ended and no more tomotoes should be thrown.
What a scene?

What a scene?

Similar festivals are held in Colombian town of Sutamarchán, San José de Trojas (Costa rica),  Reno (Nevada- United States)

This festival was specifically recreated for a hindi movie – Zindagi na milegi dubara.

This festival was recreated for Zindagi na milegi dubara - a Hindi movie

This festival was recreated for Zindagi na milegi dubara – a Hindi movie

 

Draupadi cheerharan

Draupadi – an enigma

Draupadi – An enigma

Of all characters of Mahabharat, Draupadi’s character is probably the most complex and interesting, barring the Shri Krishna’s character. If I dare say, one can paint her as a positive character or a negative one, if one wants to. One can find enough of both, positive and negative indicators about her personality, such is her character.

She is said to be the prime reason for war of Mahabharat, by referring Duryodhana as a blind’s son. If possible, people will also attribute her beauty as a bad thing. What is important here to understand that Draupadi was not influencing Dhritrashtra or Duryodhana to become greedy and thus not allowing pandavas to have what was rightfully theirs, which is the main reason behind Mahabharat war in my opinion. Also, how one can explain the numerous wrongdoings, which duryodhana has inflicted on pandavas with the sole purpose of acquiring a kingdom, which was not theirs. Duryodhana has gone to the extent of killing pandavas, but strangely, somehow people choose to blame Draupadi and ignore these factors. Certainly, these things cannot be attributed to Draupadi and citing only one incident as the reason for Mahabharat war is probably going a bit too far.
Arjuna winning Draupadi's hand

Arjuna winning Draupadi’s hand

On the other hand, lets examine the circumstances which Draupadi faced, and try to gauge reactions to these events. For example, how would a lady feel if she has to become a wife of five persons simultaneously, or how one would feel if someone is used as a material object and was lost to Duryodhana by her own husband, Yudhishthira. Being a queen, she was subjected to ultimate dishonour by Dushashana, that too before all the great people who were present there, like Bhishma, Drona, Vidura etc.
Draupadi vowed to not to tie her hair until they are dipped in Dushashana’s blood. I consider this fair, as she was subjected to lot more wrongdoings, and the pain of humiliation is much more to handle than anything else. And above all, I would have agreed this as a wrongful thing, if Dushashana would have been a nice human being, which I think is far fetched thing. Duryodhana even went further to suggest her as a fallen lady because she was a wife of five persons. What we forget that she was just obeying the wishes of her mother in law, Kunti. But history is full of such incidences, where a person is treated wrongfully even the person has acted fairly. Draupadi’s is one of these.
Draupadi cheerharan

Draupadi cheerharan

Draupadi cheer haran by Dushashan

Draupadi cheer haran by Dushashan

The Monkey faced sage – Narada

Sage Narada – how he became monkey faced

Once Sage Narada observed a severe penance to please gods. As usual, Lord Indra became restless thinking that Narada had plans to take Indra’s kingdom. He requested  Kaam deva to go and obstruct Narada’s penance.

Duly Kaam reached there alongwith Rati and Spring and tried to break his penance. They were unsuccessful because of the fact that Lord Shiva once burned Kaam’s body and that place was had no effect of Kaam deva and his antics.

When Indra came to know that Kaam has failed, he was impressed and personally met Sage Narada and congratulated him. Narada became very happy and he started boasting that he had conquered Kaam.

Proud Narada

Proud Narada

He told this to Lord Shiva and Lord Brahma and advised by both gods to keep this to himself. But Narada was not satisfied. He wanted to give the news of his achievement to Lord Vishnu. So, he went to Lord Vishnu’s abode and boasted about his feat of defeating Kaam deva.

Lord Vishnu decided to teach him a lesson.

While returning from Lord Vishnu’s abode, he saw that a beautiful princess was looking for a groom and swayamvar was being organized. As advised by gods, Kaam deva entered Narada’s heart and he was completely in Kaam Deva’s control. Narada was fascinated by the beauty of the princess and he requested Lord Vishnu to make him beautiful like the lord himself.

Narada and Lord Vishnu

Narada and Lord Vishnu

Lord Vishnu made Narada’s whole body very beautiful except his face, which he made like a monkey. This caused amusement amongst the courtiers and the girl herself. When Sage Narada saw his reflection in the water, he realized what happened.

Out of rage, he cursed Lord Vishnu that he would suffer from separation of his wife and he will need help of monkeys. Lord Vishnu accepted this without hesitation. This curse became true in Vishnu’s incarnation as Lord Rama.

Meanwhile the illusionary powers were removed after which the sage realized his mistake and learn his lesson.

Greatest hindi movies (Indian cinema)

Greatest Hindi movies which embraced Silver Screen

Hindi cinema is celebrating 100 years in 2013. Over the period of a century, hindi movies has witnessed great actors, directors and of course, movies. Following are the ones which have left an indelible mark on the silver screen. In quest of the greatest hindi movie, there are few candidates. Please give us your take as well.

 Mughal-e-Azam – The one which was made by K Asif. Perhaps the most intriguing tale of its time. Prithiraj Kapoor and Dilip Kumar immortalized Akbar and Salim. Madhubala played

The hero looks more like Amjad Khan. Madhubala and Prithvi look OK though.

Mughal e Azam

Anarkali. Recently this movie has been rereleased in colour.

Waqt – Sunil Dutt, Rajkumar, Balraj Sahni and Shashi Kapoor were the principal characters of this movie. Rajkumar’s landmark dialogue – “Jaani, yeh chaku hai, lag jaaye to khoon nikal jaata hai” was in this movie. This movie broken all the earning records when it was released. B R Chopra directed this movie. He later directed the famous serial Mahabharat.
Waqt - Hindi Movie

Waqt – Hindi Movie

Mother India – This movie was ahead of its times. Nargis was the central character of this hindi movie. Sunil Dutt played the baddie who was her son. Nargis kills Sunil Dutt for his wrong doings. Truly a remarkable film.
Mother India

Mother India

Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge – Aditya Chopra’s directorial venture which set the trend for love stories again in 1990s. Before that, revenge and action were the primary themes of hindi movies, but this movie, made Shahrukhh Khan a romantic hero. Typically in line with Yashraj films, this movie was also shot in foreign locations partially, London and Switzerland. Senorita.
DDLJ

DDLJ

Deewar – Again a Yashraj classic. Yash Chopra fossilized Amitabh Bachchan in hindi movies as Vijay. Dabur sahab, main aaj bhee phenke hue paise nahi uthata became a rage. But no one thought that a four simple words will have that kind of impact which were made by Mere paas maa hai.
Deewar - Yash Chopra

Deewar – Yash Chopra

Sholay – No matter wherever, whenever you watch this movie, you will not feel bored for a moment. Every character, every scene had an impact. Gabbar Singh, Thakur, Rahim Kaka, Salim Miyan, Basanti, Veeru and Jai, they are part of folklore. Really “kitne aadmi the”.
amjad-sholay-viju-hindi-movies-dialogues

Gabbar Singh with Kaalia

I may have missed some of the names, you can contribute here by providing your opinion through the comment form.

Karna’s Kavach and Kundal in Mahabharata

Kavach and Kundal – The armour of Karna

Kavach and Kundal are significant in terms of Indian mythology or to be specific, Mahabharata epic.

These were the insurance for Karna, the tragic hero from Mahabharata, as he was impenetrable from any weapon, as long as he was wearing them.

It happens that Karna was born to Kunti as a divine intervention from Surya, the Sun god. He was born with Kavach and Kundal of him. Kavach refers to body armour and Kundal are the ear-rings.

So basically, he was born with an added advantage over anyone. So in the epic of Mahabharata, when he decided to fight with Duryodhana, he was unknowingly giving him a massive advantage. The consequence of this could have resulted in Duryodhana winning the war.

Karna born with Kavach and Kundal

Karna born with Kavach and Kundal

How this could have happened? After all, we hear every time that truth always prevails. So, heavens have other designs. Like in every story, where the evil is so strong, there is invariably a small chink in armour, a small opening which is exploited by good forces. Like Ravana was vulnerable to humans,  Lord Vishnu also found a way to neutralize Hiranyakashyap.

So what was his achilles heel?  Being a good person, it is equally difficult to defeat him by wrong means. Indian gods, especially Indra have always descended to not so sporting means, when it comes to their advantage. This time again, he finds a way, and rather exploits a virtue in Karna.

Karna was famous for his benevolence. And he never returned anyone when someone requested him. So Indra, this time, disguises himself as a brahmin, and asks for his Kavach and Kundal.

Death of Karna

Karna didn’t hesitate for a moment and took out Kavach and Kundal which were never separated from his body and handed over his advantage to Indra, and eventually to Arjuna and Pandavas.

The great Danveer!!

Buddha Jayanti (festival)

The festival of Buddha Jayanti

Buddha Jayanti is the most important Buddhist festival. Also known as ‘Buddha Poornima’, it is celebrated on the Poornima or full moon day of the Month of Vaisakh (April/May). This day marks three important events in the life of the Buddha, his birth, attainment of Gyan and his moksha.

Buddha is also considered as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and regarded as ninth of Dashavataras.

Buddha Jayanti day is hugely celebrated in many parts of the world, predominantly Lumbini, Nepal – the birthplace of Gautam Buddha. Buddha’s Enlightenment is highlighted and teachings of Buddha preserved in pali canon become more popular in this period among Buddhists who follow the Theravada.

Buddha and his disciples

Buddha and his disciples

Buddha Purnima is also known as Buddha JayantiVesakVaishaka and Buddha’s Birthday.

Buddha’s birth and moksha

The time of Gautama Buddha’s birth and death is uncertain. However, most historians date his lifetime between 563-483 BC. Most people consider Lumbini, Nepal as birth place of Buddha. Buddha died at the age of 80 at Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh.

 Rituals on Buddha Jayanti

Activities include prayer meets, sermons and religious discourses, recitation of Buddhist scriptures, group meditation, processions, and worship of the statue of Buddha.

At Bodhgaya, the Mahabodhi Temple wears a festive look and is decorated with colorful flags and flowers. Special prayers are organized under the Bodhi Tree (the tree under which Lord Buddha attained enlightenment).

The National Museum in Delhi also brings the mortal remains of Buddha (what are believed to be some of his bones and ashes) out for public viewing on Buddha Jayanti.

Many Buddhists visit temples on Buddha Jayanti to listen to monks give talks and recite ancient verses. Devout Buddhists may spend all day in one or more temples. Some temples display a small statue of Buddha as a baby. The statue is placed in a basin filled with water and decorated with flowers. Visitors to the temple pour water over the statue. This symbolizes a pure and new beginning. Other statues of Buddha are worshiped by offerings of incense, flowers, candles and fruit.

Buddhists pay special attention to Buddha’s teachings Buddha Jayanti. They give money, food or goods to organizations that help the poor, elderly, and those who are sick. Caged animals are bought and set free to show care for all living creatures, as preached by Buddha. The usual dress is pure white. Non-vegetarian food is normally avoided. Kheer, a sweet rice porridge is also commonly served to recall the story of Sujata, a maiden who offered the Buddha a bowl of milk porridge.

Stamp issued by Indian postal department

Stamp of Buddha

In 2013, Buddha Jayanti falls on May 25.