Much more than just a festival…

The Ganesh festival is eagerly looked forward to and widely celebrated across the world. However, the biggest celebration is in the state of Maharashtra in India. These 11 days are a time of great food, sweets, music, exploring the bylanes that have been done up with the beautiful pandals. However, this elaborate festival is not just pomp and show. It has a deep seated history with roots in Hinduism and the Indian Independence battle.

Ganesh Chaturthi was initially celebrated by the Peshwas but it soon lost its glory after their downfall. However, with the British rule getting more and more brutal with the passing of time, it was absolutely imperative that the warring clans of India unite to fight against the common enemy. With this intent, freedom fighter and social reformer Lokmanya Tilak revived this festival and transformed it from a domestic festival into a large scale public event.

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People were encouraged to come out of their houses, socialize and plan events and pandals. Effectively, this festival brought about a huge change in the way everyone from different social stratas interacted, starting off during the course of this festival.

Read more about the evolution of the festival over each year, right here.

Lovin’ it!

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The Lord who is worshipped before all

SHRI GANESHAYA NAMAH

This quote is one that everyone is definitely familiar with. The opening line for any hymn or prayer and always intoned before the start of an anything auspicious.

Lord Ganesha is always the first God to be worshipped and can always be found on wedding cards, entryways as well as most vehicles. Why is this?

Well, you know of how He was born. If not, read all about it right here. During this time, he was granted a boon by His father, Shiv Ji that he would be worshipped before all others, at all auspicious events. However, this is not the only reason that Lord Ganesha is highly revered.

This one time, Shiv Ji and Parvati Maa decided to have a race between their sons Ganpati and Kartikeya. The winner was to be the first to take three complete rounds of the entire world and he would then be the first one to be married off. As the story goes, Kartikeya mounted his vahan, the peacock and zoomed off. Ganpati calmly kept sitting and meditating. Not until Kartikeya had passed them for the first time, on his third and final lap around the world, did He stir. He got up, bowed low before His parents and walked around them thrice. When done, He again bowed low and simply said ‘You both are my entire world and all I would ever need in my whole life!’

Impressed by His wisdom and innocence, the proud parents declared him winner. He was also declared as the destroyer of all obstacles (Vigneshwara) and the head of all Ganas (Ganpati).

This innocence and intelligence of Lord Ganesha is, till this date, revered and the reason why He is the first to be worshipped, always.

shree

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The snake around His belly…

Many idols of Lord Ganesha depict a snake tied around his waist and the reason why is SUCH a cute story!

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On the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi, Goddess Parvati is offered many sweets and eats by other Gods. Of these, is the Modak. A huge hit with Lord Ganesha. In fact, on one particular occasion, He had had so many of them that his big belly was struggling to hold them all in.

Come nightfall, He decided to return home on his vaahan, Mooshak. Unfortunately, Mooshak tripped on a snake that was lying across the road and Lord Ganesha falls off his back. As he hits the ground, his tummy bursts open and all the sweets roll out across the road. After getting up, He is aware of loud laughter coming from somewhere close by.

Looking around, He discerns that it is actually the moon God and his seven wives in the sky. They had seen him fall off and had found it funny enough to laugh uproariously. This upset Lord Ganesha and in a fit of rage declared ‘YOU DARE TO HUMILIATE ME LIKE THIS! Then listen…. You are proud of your silvery glory and the beauty of your wives. However, your brightness will start diminishing night by night until no one on earth will be able to see you anymore and as you lose your ability to shine, so will you lose your wives one by one until you will be dim and all alone in this world!’

In those days, the moon used to be full every night and used to shine almost as brightly as the sun. Because of this, he realised the enormity of the curse and descended to the earth along with all his wives, pleading Ganpati to withdraw his words and to forgive them. However, once a curse is spoken, it cannot be taken back and even though He felt bad about it, there was little that Ganpati could do to take it back. After giving the matter deep thought, He said ‘I have something that would blunt the edge of this curse for you. Firstly, while you will diminish in glow and glory until you vanish from sight, this will last only one night each month and you will grow again to what you are today. This will continue until eternity. Now, while all your wives might not be able to stay with you all the time, you can choose one wife who will always be around you so you are not alone.’

The moon chose Rohini, his favourite wife to be near him all the time. To this day, the moon waxes and wanes in a monthly cycle and his beautiful wife Rohini can be seen shining steadily, always close to him.

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But the story isn’t over yet!

The moon and his wives weren’t the only one who laughed at Lord Ganesha. The snake which had caused all this hulabaloo was still close by and had also found the whole situation funny. Ganpati turned to him and picked him up. He put all the spilled sweets back into his tummy and used the snake to tie his belly up.

Interesting, right?

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The Lord with a single tusk

Many Ganesha idols depict Him with one full tusk and one half. Ever wonder why? Well, there are basically two versions to this tale and you can decide which one seems more plausible 🙂

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One tale says that Parshuram wanted to meet with Lord Shiva to thank Him for giving him the strength to fight off his enemies Kartavirya Arjuna and the kings allied with him. However, as he tried to enter the holy adobe at Mount Kailash, Lord Ganesha stopped him saying Lord Shiva was resting with His wife, Parvati Maa and it wouldn’t be appropriate to disturb them. Enraged, Parshuram lunged at Lord Ganesha and triggered an epic fight that Lord Ganesha was clearly winning until Parushuram hurls a huge axe at him. Since the axe was a gift from Lord Shiva, Ganesha didn’t want that blow to go in vain and received the axe with his left tusk, thus cleanly breaking it off!

MIsBi

The other version of why he has one tusk is my personal favourite. The story goes that Sage Vyasa needed someone to write the Mahabharata saga for him. Not just anyone someone, he wanted someone who was wise and intelligent. After great thought, he approached Lord Shiva to persuade Lord Ganesha to participate in this task. Lord Ganesha readily agreed but on two conditions. One being that the sage musn’t pause in his narration, not even to draw his breath and the other was that there should be an endless supply of Modaks available for him. If either of these rules were flouted, Lord Ganesha said he would stop writing and not complete the tale at all. Sage Vyasya agreed but put forward a condition of his own. He said that Lord Ganesha would have to understand every verse and hymn before penning it down as they were all very difficult.

Lord-Ganesha-and-Mahabharata

And this is how the writing of the great saga commenced. Lord Ganesha was able to understand and note down each verse that was narrated to Him, however, the speed at which he was writing made his pen wear down and he couldn’t find anything else to write with. Remembering his own vow of not stopping, he broke off his own left tusk to use it as a pen.

Both stories are equally enchanting and intriguing. Both share different personality aspects of this incredibly multi-faceted God. Take a look and decide which one you think rings true…

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Is that a little mouse?

You’ve seen him. The teeny little mouse near Lord Ganehsa’s feet. Hands folded in supplication and looking up in open admiration at His Lord.

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It’s a little funny to imagine this portly God being carried around by a small mouse. The story behind this association is really incredible.

Click on the link below to find out more about it. I’d write about it myself but the video is just too cute to miss!

https://www.ganapatibappa.com/tarakasura-vadh/

It’s really a lesson to so many of us. Good things come wrapped in small packages and can sometimes have the most incredible strength in the world!

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The Elephant Headed Lord

So why DOES he have an elephant’s head? Let’s find out…

Long back, one day, Shiv Ji was off hunting in the jungle. Parvati Maa need to finish a lot of household chores and then go for Her bath. Since they were in the jungle, She was worried about somebody wandering in or a guest going unattended.

After spending some time in deep thought, She collected sandalwood from the nearby trees and brought it back to their cottage. Fashioning the wood into the form of a young boy, She gently smoothed the young shoulders and touched the little feet. Lovingly She caressed the cheeks and lips of the small, peaceful face. Slowly, She breathed life into him.

When He blinked and smiled at Her, She looked at him happily and told him, ‘I need some help from you.’

He bowed low and said, ‘Whatever you wish, Maa

‘Stand by the door and watch for anyone who might want to enter the house. Ask them to wait while I finish taking a bath and come out to meet them. Let no one pass, my son.’

‘Yes Maa. Don’t worry, I will fulfil your wish.’

Shortly after this discussion, Shiv Ji returned from his hunt and made to enter the house. Seeing a young boy guarding the door, He got worried. ‘Who are you and where is Parvati?’

Maa is taking her bath and cannot receive anyone right now. Please wait while she comes out and talks to you.’

Tired and hungry, Shiv Ji spent several minutes trying to convince the little boy that He is the master of this house and He of all people had a right to be allowed inside. But the boy didn’t budge an inch. Eventually, He had had enough. ‘YOU INSOLENT CHILD! I SHALL NOT SPEND ANY MORE TIME PARLEYING WITH YOU! MOVE OUT OF MY WAY RIGHT NOW!’

‘I am sorry but I cannot disobey my mother’s wishes’ said the boy bowing low.

Shiv Ji took his trident and swiped off the boy’s head in a clean sweep. Parvati Maa had stepped out on hearing the altercation and when she saw the little head hit the floor, she went down on her knees and wept for her lost child. Shiv Ji knelt near her with concern but she was inconsolable.

‘He was my son! OUR son! Bring him back to me’, she said.

‘But…’ Shiv Ji faltered on seeing Her wrath. ‘Bring me the head of the first animal you see in the jungle. QUICK!’ He was instructed.

A relatively short while later, Shiv Ji came back with an elephant head. ‘This is the first animal I saw Parvati. I am sorry…’ Parvati Maa took the head and gently placed it on the small shoulders. She lowered Her head over it and bent all her will into bringing her son back to life.

Slowly He stirred and shook himself back to life. He stood up and looked at His mother and then His father.

‘Bless me, my parents’, He said, bowing low touch their feet.

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Parvati Maa blessed him saying, ‘You will be worshipped as a God with all the others, my son’.

When he straightened, he was no longer just a miracle boy. He was GAJANANA. Our very own, Lord Ganesha.

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Significance of the Ganpati idol

Ganpati Bappa MORYA!

The elephant God is finally here. All the preparations done. The decorations are up. The menus are planned and sthapana done. It’s a joyous occasion having Him over. People are constantly visiting, there’s loads of yummy food in the house and it’s just about the same as having a beloved relative over for holidays.

But what is the significance of this God? Why does he have an elephant head or a portly belly? Why does he have four hands and one broken tusk? How has he, in his own way, changed the course of many events?

Let’s see if you can use these eleven days to learn something more about this guy 🙂

Beautiful Ganeshji

First off, it is very common knowledge that every part of a Ganesha idol has some significance. He is a people’s God and he signifies this from the very top to the very bottom. Take a look at the image below

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Interesting right? Think about the next time you walk into a temple for darshan. Just before you bow you head and close your eyes. You will see so many of these little symbols that make Him one of the most cherished Gods all world over!

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London Marathoner

Ladies PLEASE! We MUST calm ourselves. In our fervour of becoming feminists, we have evolved back into the Stone Age!

What is this, hunh? Are we effin’ savages? Grunting at each other and then knocking someone on the head with a club? I know it sounds tempting but just stop! Let’s all of us just take a collective deep breath, just unbunch our panties and look at this.

http://www.people.com/article/kiran-ghandi-runs-marathon-without-tampon-bleeds-freely

I mean SERIOUSLY, what is this, eh? How far have we gone in trying to be independent and ‘carefree’? There was a post depicting my period as gushing flood of blood. I said ‘meh’. Then there was another describing my period cramp as being scratched on the inside by hands with 6 foot nails of wickedness. I said ‘hmm’. Then there was this post that said I was simply daft for saying ‘I am down’ when on my period. I was like ‘How is that going to make me feel better or worse?’ Apparently those 3 words would change me from

Fly

(photo credit : http://25.media.tumblr.com/e87ae568509fccdcba7a3ace1d5a7bf4/tumblr_ml2h6xcQ5x1rbjaddo1_500.gif )

to

Rage

(photo credit : http://data.whicdn.com/images/60271722/large.gif)

But THIS?

I was so damn put off by the headline that I never got around to reading the post! What the hell was it going to say? How admiring throngs watched her BLEED to the finish line? EEWW! WHY? Why would anyone want to do that? On top of it, apparently, APPARENTLY she showed a middle finger to ‘period shamers’. Look honestly, I think the only middle finger she has any right to use is the one she needs to shove up her pee-wee to stop leaking onto her state-of-the-art running shoes! If she had been swimming across the Atlantic or something like that, she would’ve been eaten up by sharks before she could’ve said period cramp… Good riddance I say!

Why the hell would anyone want to run halfway to what-the-hell-was-she-thinking WITHOUT the notion of basic hygiene? For herself?

So NO ok. Just no. Damn! I’m sorry for the poor schmuck who had to hand her a medal or certificate while making sure he doesn’t get anything on himself that would later implicate him in case she was stabbed or some such.

All I want to ask her is WHY? You’re running for Breast Cancer Awareness and you don’t want to promote hygiene? You say you ran like that to express solidarity for ‘my sisters who don’t have access to these basic needs’. Don’t you think it would be more fruitful to, maybe, join a group that DOES help women get access to these necessities? You say ‘it’s there and we fight it every day’. Look really, the only fight right now is in a better part of the world trying to figure out if this is for real.

So NO ok. No #respect. No #imawoman. No #whatever. I say #getsomeperspectiveonhowproblemsaresolved or #areyouserious or #youvegotalittlesomethingonyourwinkwink.

Please woman! You REALLY need help. And a tampon. So just #shutthehellupandtakeashower.

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The Twilight Shi-ries

CAST:
A pasty vampire, a sissy werewolf, a mediocre chick who is seriously given way too much bhaav and miscellaneous people to fill up the sets, defend Bella, get killed/eaten up/sucked dry/smashed in the melee and/or crack oh-so-smarty-pants one liners (Read : Bella’s dad).

HERE IT GOES:
Against a backdrop of a very rainy, damp and moist place called ‘Forks’ we have a really messed up love triangle. Basically, everyone loves everyone.

Bella is the new kid on the block. Understated, not wanting to attract attention, beautiful yet unaware of it *gags*. She sees Vampire dude and his enigmatic family. Pale with hazel/onyx eyes (depending on how hungry? Thirsty? one is…) and perfect chiselled faces/bodies/cars and so on and so forth…(Read : Too much of layered make up that increases as the sequels follow). The Cullen man and the Swan chick notice each other. DA-DA-…yeah yeah whatevs.

**THOUGHTS**
Edward: Dude! That chick…. Been going on a 100 years with no women in my life. I better get hold of this one or I might just turn into a man’s man. Or vampire. Whatever…
Bella: *drool*

So they begin the cat and mouse game of both of them chasing themselves, each other and generally driving everyone nuts. They end up falling in love (What a shock…NOT!) Or at least she falls in love with him and he…well…I mean how on earth can he have gone a century and not found anyone!?! Bells tinkle, pianos play, breeze blows and so on and so forth. Time passes and she gets so clingy that the only time he can get away to his love nest is on hunts. Frustration sets in until a baseball match seems to be the solution to his problem. Three evil vampires with eyes like rubies step in and want to suck Bella dry. Fair enough, considering they are vampires and she’s human and that’s how the food chain works. There’s tons of confusion with everyone running around and trying to get out of the way, although it seems like a rescue mission and Edward ends up next to Bella, in the car, taking her onto the road to freedom.

**THOUGHTS**
Edward: Oh hell! Did I run the wrong way?
Bella: **drool**

The rest of the series disintegrates into a hopeless chase for the human girl by all the vampires who seem to be a part of ‘Let’s Suck her Dry Club’…of blood DUH!…founded by the Vultures or some such… Anywho, since the audiences got fed up with watching ‘The Pale Ones’ (did I mention too much make up?) and the satisfaction was visibly falling all over the world…..VOILA!!! Enter the werewolves, conveniently when the vampires are away due to unforeseen circumstances.
Too hot to be true. 8 packs, awesome tattoos and the apparent but not unappreciated lack of clothes brought a smile (and a distinctive moan) on the lips of the (hopefully only) female audiences. But alas! As fate may have it, the werewolf falls for the vampire’s woman who has, of course, fallen for the vampire. The rest of the werewolves join the ‘Let’s Crush Bella’s Skull’ club…but cover up their tactics by pretending to be her protectors. Story moves on sluggishly to attempts of murder, rape and finally! A wedding.

Bella weds Edward, much to the werewolf’s dismay and the audience’s relief at a move on in the tale and soon becomes impregnated with his 100 year old sperms. Even those have now gotten arthritis and use walking sticks to lamely hobble upto the….the…well to begin fertilization and…create the baby *finishes lamely*.  All this while, the wolf has now joined the ‘Hands Up for the Downfallen’ club thanks to some serious lack of options.

**THOUGHTS**
Edward: Goddamnit! A 100 years and THIS is the woman I end up getting hitched to.
Bella: **drool**
Wolf: ArOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!! *sob*

Enter: Baby. Half human, half vampire, who is imprinted upon by the now-nearly-dead-due-to-frustration wolf and he finally gets a life and promise of some action (though it may be after 18 years, but what the hell!) and everybody lives happily ever after, of course after destroying the original-trying-very-hard-to-be-enigmatic vampires again…because…who really cares. SOMEONE died and it wasn’t me. Vampire decides he may as well keep the woman and the audiences get to go home and wonder what they ever did to deserve this.

**THE END** <sigh of relief and tears of joy>

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Father’s Day

It’s easy to celebrate Mother’s Day. There’s a lot of hoo-ha. Tons of activities, discounts and propaganda floating about. It should be too. After all, a mom is a mom is a mom…

But what about the other parent? THE DAD! The word itself strikes awe, love and terror in your heart. Dad was the one with whom we had awful maths classes. Dad was the one we had to seek permission from (Ugh!) and Dad was the one who wasn’t told about boyfriends or girlfriends.

It’s easy to see why the mom was the favoured one. She was the one who was would be the secret keeper, the kisser of wounds, the little bit of glue to hold everyone together.

But Dad… I grew older and older to realise how fantastic you have been all my life. How you filled in all my forms because they were too tedious for me. Even now when tax-time rolls around, I wish I could send all the ghastly paperwork to you. How you chased away the ruffians, real and imagined. I travel in the Metro and miss you because I have to be all brave instead of just being your little girl. Dad you were the one who took us out for little treats when mum wasn’t around. We thought it was because you couldn’t cook but I know that wasn’t true after you threw together the most fantastic cup of tea there ever was. You were the one who cried when you dropped me off to hostel or for my first day of work! You are the one who still holds my hand when we have to cross the road to get me to work. And yes, you are the one who still drops me to work all the days that you are staying with me.

But the best thing you ever did was take me to office, turn around and decline a cup of tea in the cafeteria saying, ‘No no…I don’t want to embarrass you in front of your friends!’ It reminded me that for you I’d always be the little girl who was trying so hard to grow up that she would tell her own dad to quickly go away!

Truth to be told, you’ve been the rock in our lives. It’s thanks to you I know that distance truly does make the heart grow fonder, all those times when you were away doing ‘manly’ things for the Army. It’s thanks to you I know that savings can be a reality and that there is always a go-to guy no matter where I am in the world. You’ve been so great with all our girly issues and how you listen to us though you’d rather be watching a Bruce Willis blockbuster or how you accepted that with two daughters, pink rooms, teary weddings and emotional rollercoasters are all just a big package deal. Albeit with a dressy ribbon on the top. We’re girls after all!

We all hope to be as sensible and stoic as you one day and there is no way to tell you how incredible it has been having a crazy, giggly, nutty nut like you as our dad!

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