Monthly Archives: October 2013

Diwali Celebrations

Diwali festival, the festival of lights

During the second part of the year, Indians celebrate a lot of important festivals with zeal and vigour. During this period, Navratra, Dusshera and Diwali are celebrated. Diwali is one of them, which holds a very auspicious place in Hindu festivals.

In most parts of India, Diwali is celebrated by performing worship of Goddess Lakshmi. This is a ritual performed on Diwali day (the third day) in order to seek divine blessings from the Goddess of Wealth, Lakshmi, who helps those who strive to achieve wealth. It consists of an elaborate ritual using grains, leaves, coins, and idols to prepare a ceremony.

Laxmi and Ganesh

Laxmi and Ganesh

During this ritual, one can invoke the Goddess by reciting the Vedic mantras or by thinking of her being showered with gold coins with two elephants standing one each side of her as you chant her name. Offerings are made and at the end, the aarti is performed quietly and a peaceful atmosphere should accompany the entire ritual.

Cleaning and decoration

On this occasion, lot of preparations take place prior to Lakshmi pooja. Every household is cleaned, this indicates to get rid yourself of any unnecessary elements in your environment. To welcome the Goddess, rangolis are created on the entrance of houses, small feet depicting Goddess’s feet are also painted.

 

Rangoli Patterns

Easy rangoli pattern for Diwali

Easy rangoli pattern for Diwali

Deepak, earthen pots

Diwali is nothing in absence of earthen pots of Diyas or Deepaks. Legend is that people of Ayodhya have lit earthen pots when Shri Ram returned along with his wife Sita, after slaying Ravana.

Earthen pots or Deepak on Diwali

Earthen pots or Deepak on Diwali

Wear new clothes and jewels on the second and third days. If you are a woman, try to obtain a sari, the traditional Indian dress for women. If you’re a woman, wear an Indian blouse(known as sari) and top. Men normally wear kurthas, the national clothes for Indian men.

 

The Tradition of Gambling

The tradition of gambling on Diwali also has a legend behind it. It is believed that on this day, Goddess Parvati played dice with her husband Lord Shiva, and she decreed that whosoever gambled on Diwali night would prosper throughout the ensuing year. Diwali is associated with wealth and prosperity in many ways, and the festival of ‘Dhanteras’ (‘dhan’ = wealth; ‘teras’ = 13th) is celebrated two days before the festival of lights.

Lord Shiva and Parvati gambling on Diwali

Lord Shiva and Parvati gambling on Diwali

A tribute to Sachin – Amul ads

A prodigy called Sachin Tendulkar

Sachin has been portrayed in Amul Ads over the years. As his retirement from test matches approaching, We have decided to show some of the interesting Amul ads about this legend.

When Shoaib refused to bowl to Sachin

This was released when Sachin made the first ODI double hundred. He is the first person to score a double hundred in ODIs. Virender Sehwag followed him up.

 

sachin-double-hundred-odi-cricket-amul-ad

 

Sachin has been an awardee of Order of Australia. A testimony of his batting skills accepted by Australian community. Incidentally, his best knock have come against the best bowling attack of that time, that was Australia.

 

order of australia images

 

This takes the cake. The Don himself told that Sachin plays in the same fashion Don used to play. Sachin had a private meeting with Sir Donald Bradman when he was playing there. What an occasion it must have been.

 

dono bradman - sachin

 

This came when he created history by making hundred international hundreds. The hundredth ton too some time, and he was bowled by Ravi Rampaul in his homeground, when he was tantalizingly closed. But Little Master ensured that Indian following is not disappointed for long.

 

100 centuries

 

This was the moment when Little Champion surpassed the original Little Master, Sunil Gavaskar. Incidentally, Sachin has idolized Sunil Gavaskar and Vivian Richards during his formative years. Gavaskar broke the record of Sir Don and Sachin broke Gavaskar’s record. Currently, Sachin is the leading century maker in test and one day internationals and stands alone on the submit of 100 INTERNATIONAL CENTURIES.

 

sunny days

 

This is very recent. When Master Blaster celebrated birthday with his old pal, Vinod Kambli. They have played together in the school and scored a 664 runs partnership as schoolboys. When Vinod Kambli made his debut, Sachin was batting at other end.

sachin-40-birthday

 

When Shoaib refused to bowl to Sachin

Shakuni in Mahabharata

Shakuni – the real story

Shakuni

We know that Shakuni was the person who masterminded the ascendancy of Duryodhana by beating Pandavas in gambling. What we don’t know that he was imprisoned by his own nephew, Duryodhana and his father and brothers have sacrificed their life, so Shakuni could survive. Read this unknown and interesting strory.

Shakuni in Mahabharata

Shakuni in Mahabharata

Shakuni – The gambler, whose wishes were obeyed by the dice was the brother of Gandhari. There is a story that the dice he used was made out of bones of his father,  Subala’s thighs.  His sister, Gandhari had some problem in her astrological chart according to that her second husband only will survive.

To rectify this situation, Gandhari was first married to a goat and then the animal was killed, so strictly speaking, she became a widow before marrying Dhritharashtra.  When Duryodhana took charge of the Hastinapura, he was lambasted by Bhima that he is son of a widow.

Shakuni defeating Yudhishthira

Shakuni defeating Yudhishthira

Angered with this insult, he came to know about the story,  attacked Gandhar province and imprisoned his 100 uncles including Shakuni. He arranged to provide one handful of rice for all of them to eat everyday. It was decided by the Subala, the father that Shakuni will eat the food given and survive to destroy Kouravas.

Shakuni’s brilliance

There is also an other story about how his father assessed the intelligence of his sons to select the most brilliant one. He asked his sons who were all in the prison to insert a thread through a bone so that who is succesful can eat the fistful of rice and survive to take revenge.

All the sons attempted and failed but Shakuni emerged victorious. He managed to tie a speck of rice to one end of a thread and fed it to an ant which took the thread through the hole of the bone. Shakuni survived. He was asked to eat the flesh of his own father which he did and created set of dice from his bones. After all of them died and only Shakuni was left,he was allowed out of prison on Gandhari’s insistence.

Note: This story is not found in original Mahabharata written by Vedavyasa

Diwali festival

The festival of Diwali

Diwali or Deepawali is one of the most celebrated and important festivals of Hindus. This festival is celebrated across india on the day of Amavasya (no moon). Series of festivals are celebrated during diwali. The festival starts with Dhanteras on which most business communities begin their financial year. The second day of the festival is called the Naraka Chaturdasi.  Amavasya, the third day of Diwali, marks the worship of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. The fourth day of Diwali is known as Kartika Shudda Padyami. The fifth day is referred to as Yama Dvitiya, and on this day sisters invite their brothers to their homes. This is also known as Bhai Dooj.

Each day has its own tale, legend and myth to tell. The first day of the festival Naraka Chaturdasi marks the vanquishing of the demon Naraka by Lord Krishna and his wife Satyabhama. Amavasya, the second day of Deepawali, marks the worship of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth in her most benevolent mood, fulfilling the wishes of her devotees.

Amavasya also tells the story of Lord Vishnu, who in his dwarf incarnation vanquished the tyrant Bali, and banished him to hell. Bali was allowed to return to earth once a year, to light millions of lamps to dispel the darkness and ignorance, and spread the radiance of love and wisdom. It is on the third day of Deepawali — Kartika Shudda Padyami that Bali steps out of hell and rules the earth according to the boon given by Lord Vishnu. The fourth day is referred to as Yama Dwitiya (also called Bhai Dooj) and on this day sisters invite their brothers to their homes.

Diwali marks the end of the harvest season in most of India. Farmers give thanks for the bounty of the year gone by, and pray for a good harvest for the year to come. Traditionally this marked the closing of accounts for businesses dependent on the agrarian cycle, and is the last major celebration before winter. Lakshmi symbolises wealth and prosperity, and her blessings are invoked for a good year ahead.

Legends behind worship of Goddess Lakshmi

There are two legends that associate the worship of Lakshmi on this day. According to the first legend, on this day, Lakshmi emerged from Kshira Sagar, the Ocean of Milk, during the great churning of the oceans, which is also known as  Samudra manthan.

Devi Lakshmi and Lord Vishnu

Devi Lakshmi and Lord Vishnu

The second legend (more popular in western India) relates to the Vamana avatar of Lord Vishnu, the incarnation he assumed to neutralise the king Bali. On this day, Vishnu came back to his abode the Vaikuntha; so those who worship Lakshmi receive the benefit of her benevolent mood, and are blessed with mental, physical and material well-being.

Story from Ramayana behind the Diwali festival

The Ramayana is one of the two most important epics in Indian Mythology, other being The Mahabharat. There are various stories behind the festival of Diwali, but the most popular and the one which we have grown up listening to, is the story of Ram, Sita and Ravana.
Rama and Ravana and Diwali

Rama and Ravana

Ram, the king of Ayodhya, was living in exile for fourteen years. This was because Manthara, a royal maid, plotted against him. Ram was accompanied by his brother, Laxman during the exile. Demon king Ravana took her away to lanka. Ravana was the king of lanka.

Ram defeated Ravana on the day of dusshera. He was helped by his friends, Sugriva and Hanuman. Hanuman was the true disciple of Lord Ram and he served Ram, Laxman and Sita with full devotion. Hanuman saved Laxman’s life during the battle between Ram and Ravana. After defeating Ravana, Vibheeshana was made the king of lanka.

After that, they returned to Ayodhya in the chariot named Pushpak Vimana. This chariot was owned by Ravana. It took them to reach twenty days to Ayodhya, and this day was observed by people of Ayodhya as Diwali. In this day diyas are lit, people wear new clothes. This day falls exactly after twenty days of Dusshera. Diwali represents the victory of good over evil, light over darkness. This day is observed on Amavyasya. This night is enveloped by darkness. But this darkness is dispelled by the Diyas and other lighting which we light to steer away the darkness.

In world mythology, many fascinating stories are available, but Mahabharat and The Ramayana are the epics from Indian mythology, can be included anywhere. Such is the diversity and range of these epics. The Ramayana is written by the sage valmiki, who was a thief. Tulsidas has also written Ramcharitramans in recent times, which is written in a different language than The Ramayana written by Sage Valmiki.

Further Reading: The Navratri Festival

Maa Durga

Durga, Artemis and Apollo – A comparison of Indian and Greek mythology

Durga and Artemis

There are many similarities between Indian and Greek mythologies. The stories related to gods in both mythologies are very interesting. Here we are looking at Artemis, the greek goddess, who is very similar to Durga in Indian mythology.

As per Greek mythology, Artemis was often described as the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo. She was the goddess of the hunt, wild animals, childbirth, virginity, wilderness and protector of young girls, bringing and relieving disease in women; she often was depicted as a huntress carrying a bow and arrows.

The birth of Goddess Durga (Indian mythology)

In Indian mythology, Durga was created as a warrior goddess to fight demon named Mahishasura. Brahma, the Supreme Creator had given Mahishasura (an ambitious demon who had observed penance) the power not to be defeated by a male or any God. Mahishasura, thus using his powers, unleashed a reign of terror on earth, heaven and the nether worlds. He created cosmic disruption and defeated The Gods of Sun, Fire, Earth, Thunder and all other Nature Gods. All the gods pleaded Brahma to do something about this.

Goddess Durga emergence

Goddess Durga emergence

Shiva, made a request to all Gods to combine their divine energies together.Thus, to save the 3 worlds, Vishnu, Shiva, Brahma and all of the Gods (Indra, Varuna, Surya, Agni, Yama, Vishwakarma etc.) emitted beams of fierce Divine Energy from their Bodies. The blinding sea of light spread in all directions of the universe like a supernova and reached the Ashram of the priest Katyayan, where all the Energies combined together to create the omnipotent Goddess Durga. The Goddess Durga took the name Katyayani from the priest, in whose ashram she appeared thus.

Birth of Artemis (Greek mythology)

Coming back to Artemis and her twin brother Apollo.

She was the daughter of Zeus and Leto and that she was the twin sister of Apollo. Artemis, the goddess of forests and hills, was worshipped throughout ancient Greece.Her best known cults were on the island of Delos (her birthplace); in Attica at Brauron and Mounikhia (near Piraeus); in Sparta. She was often depicted in paintings and statues in a forest setting, carrying a bow and arrows, like Durga, and accompanied by a deer.

Artemis never had any love affairs, but one. That was with the mortal Orion. Artemis was in love with Orion. However, upset that his sister’s time and attentions had been diverted away from him, the God Apollo, her twin, became very jealous. So when Orion was swimming far into the ocean Apollo made a wager with Artemis that she couldn’t hit the floating object on the horizon.

Artemis being the prideful archer she was took the wager gladly and proudly drew her bow and shot the object on the horizon winning the wager. However once she won she realized that the “floating object” was actually her only lover Orion. In her great grief the Goddess Artemis turned Orion into various stars and shot him into the night sky, making him a constellation in the night sky forevermore.

 

Rama and Ravana - The Ramayana

Ravana abducted Sita, fully knowing the consequences

Ravana – The great scholar

Ravana, mostly known as the person who kidnapped Sita and was later killed by Lord Rama.Lets look at other aspects of him and try to find out the exact reason behind the abduction of Sita.

Ravana was a great scholar, a devout devotee of Lord Shiva. He knew about the scriptures. He even wrote a book Ravana Samhita, which is on astrology.

Even Lord Rama had once addresed Ravana as a “Maha Brahmin” (Great Brahmin).

He did great penance to please Lord Shiva and offered to give him his all heads. His name Ravana came from the fact that once he was pinned down by Lord Shiva under the Mount Kailash and his cry was defeaning.

Baidyanath Jyotirlinga and Ravana

Baidyanath Jyotirlinga and Ravana

He also had the boon from Brahma which gave him immunity against everyone, save human and monkeys.

From these facts, this is clear that Ravana was a learned, scholar person, who believed in hindu gods, Lord Shiva and Lord Brahma. This facts becomes unfathomable that he decided to kidnap the wife of the trinity, Lord Vishnu’s avatar Lord Rama.

If we look more into this, Ravana did not chose to pray Lord Vishnu, when he prayed Lord Shiva and Lord Brahma. Why? he could have chosen to pray lord Vishnu.

The reason for abduction

There is a reason. This reason comes from the fact of Ravana’s birth. Ravana was actually a devout follower of Lord Vishnu. Once he and his brother (Jaya and Vijaya) have caused some discomfort to a great Sage and they were subjected to his wrath. The events, which followed this incident ensured that Jaya and Vijaya will have to take three births and they need to killed by Lord Vishnu, before they can be closer to him.

So, in all probability, as he was a great scholar, he must knew that his salvation was in getting killed by Lord Vishnu’s avatara. That is sole reason, he did not ask from immunity from humans, because he knew this very well that Lord Rama has taken avatar in a human form.

Now again, he was a good ruler, there was no apparent reason that he would be under threat from anyone. After all, he was a great warrior as well. So how he could meet almighty. So, he created a reason, he did the unthinkable. He abducted Sita.

Ravana and Sita

Ravana and Sita

This was the masterstroke. Ravana first created rules, so that he could be only killed by a human. This human was an avatar of Lord Vishnu and capable of defeating him. Then he created a reason.

This way, he ensured that only Lord Vishnu will become the reason of his death. This was his ultimate wish, which he achieved.

Lord Rama first used Prasavapana for evaporating the nectar from his navel, and then decapacitated his head.

Rama and Ravana - The Ramayana

Rama and Ravana – The Ramayana

I would say, he was the great strategist and he executed his plans well, so that he achieved one more step towards unification with Lord Vishnu.