Category Archives: CULTURE

Janmashtami 2020 – The Celebrations of Krishna Birth

Krishna Janmashtami is an annual Hindu festival that celebrates the birth of Krishna, the eighth avatar of Vishnu. It is observed according to the Hindu lunisolar calendar, on the eighth day of the Krishna Paksha in Shraavana or Bhadrapad, which overlaps with August or September of the Gregorian calendar.

This year – Janmashtami falls on 12-Aug-2020

The celebrations are being done on family level and most of them either celebrating with a Krishna idol in cradle or dressing their little kids as young Krishna.

Overall ambiance has uplifted due to the celebrations and it is going to increase with more festivals in line.

Krishna is considered to be the avatar of Vishnu, one of the Trinity – other two being Shiv and Brahma.

The Purpose of Birth

Krishna’s avatar was responsible for curbing the evil spread by Kansh who happens to be his maternal uncle. The birth story of Krishna involves lot of hurdles which his parents being put in prison and how he escapes it in a magical way. The Leela of Krishna starts from early childhood and continues until he plays a crucial role in the Kuruskshetra war between Pandavs and Kauravs.

Krishna has provided baseline lessons regarding every phase of life and also preached about the right way to live :

  • He has shown by example of his life.
  • He overcame his situations and became the master of it.
  • He faced innate difficulties yet always showcased positivity.
  • He was a guide in true sense.
  • He was a warrior in his own life.
  • He was a musician – playing beautiful music on flute.
  • He was a king. He was a ruler of Dwarka. He was a good friend to Sudhama.
  • He was a charmer in love and relationships.

He has so many names based on his Leelas and roles he has taken in his life. And he has left behind a blueprint for living social life. He has given his teachings in the form of Geeta – The Bhagavad Geeta – one of the finest lessons of life. It is said that all answers lie within it. One who seeks will find it.

Krishna belief has transformed India in ways that has never happened. Places like Mathura, Vrindavan and Dwarka are associated with Krishna. These places are considered to be Religious spots and are revoured deeply by the people of India.

Dwarka is considered to be one of the “Char Dham” – places of prime religious importance. The Char Dham are located in different directions of India forming a logical geographical boundary. Badrinath in the North, Jagannath Puri in the East, Rameshwaram in the South and Dwarka in the West.

The disciples of Krishna are huge and follow various interdisciplinary ideologies based in location and the era they belong to. Similar one modern belief group of Krishna – ISKCON is internationally famous and followed across countries around the world. The people who seek peace and harmony, find the answers and way through the consciousness.

The beauty of the Life of Krishna has lessons which are timeless, priceless and very much relevant in modern times. We can seek and find ways to uplift our social, personal and professional lives.

May you find the path you seek – by consciousness.


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Festivals in August

This year festivals are flying by like a blink of eye. One day you wait for a week to come by and then it’s already a week over. August is the month of festivals in India. Below are festivals of 2020. Though there is not much celebrations outside homes due COVID19 pandemic, within the hope and energy for people is slowly starting to rise.

1 August Bakri ID

3 August Rakshabandhan

Festival of Bond between Brother and Sisters. Analogous to modern day friendship bands. A Rakhi (band) is tied by sister on the right hand wrist of Brother, symbolising promise, power and bond. Sweets are exchanged. Brother gifts sister usually some clothing, ornaments, money or anything she may like. Even after marriage, women visit her maternal home and celebrate this festival.

11-12 August Janmashtami

Festival of fun, energy and joy. It is the festival celebrated in the memory of Shree Krishna birthday. It is believed on this day at midnight Krishna is born. People fast whole night with hymns and kirtans to welcome Krishna. During the next day, many places celebrate Duleti where they mimic the Krishna playing with his friends and breaking butter filled pots by creating a human pyramid.

15 August Independence Day

India got independent on 15 August 1947. This year the parade and all the celebration will be minimal. No schools or colleges are open yet so no celebrations at those locations. However FLAG hosting and ceremony will be done.

16 August Pateti – Parsi New Year

22 August Ganesh Chaturthi

29 August Muharram

31 August Onam

Festivals in India : Mahavir Jayanti

Mahavir Jayanti is celebrated as the birthday of Mahavir on Chaitrya Sud Triyodashi. Mahavir is consider to be the founder or proposer of modern day Jainism. Jainism is one of the oldest religions known today and its origins lie in India. Theologians often classify Jainism as a philosophy, a way of living life, rather than a religion.

Jainism is a non-theistic religion. There is no concept of God or spiritual beings. There’s no one to create, maintain or destroy the universe. The only thing which maintains the universe is, the universe itself. No one is superior to the laws of the universe. Jains believe that there were 24 great teachers, the first one named Rishabh Dev ji and the last of whom was Lord Mahavir who lived during 6th century B.C. Mahavir is regarded as the man who gave Jainism its present-day form. These twenty-four teachers are called Tirthankars– people who had attained all knowledge while living (Moksh) and preached it to the people. The Tirthankars were all humans once, they did some good deeds and were eligible for being a Thirthankar in next incarnation. Jinas are believed to reside in the top level of heaven, above the realm of the gods. Accordingly, liberated souls are revered more than the gods.

PALITANA

Jains believe in reincarnation and seek to attain ultimate liberation – which means escaping the continuous cycle of birth, death and rebirth. The ultimate goal is to get rid of one’s karma on their soul so that they may end this cycle. Once this goal is reached their soul has attained all knowledge and it rests in the heavens forever (Nirvana). This is similar to the preachings of Buddhism, but the principle and path to achieve Nirvana are slightly different. It is a matter of lot of speculations between the historians to find, if any connection between Buddha and Mahavira.

The way to get rid of one’s karma is to follow certain rules of doing good somewhat similar to the ten commandments in Christianity or the eight-fold path in Buddhism.

These include the principles of:

  • Ahimsa – To protect all life (non-violence)
  • Satya – To speak truth
  • Asteya – To not steal
  • Brahmacharya – To not commit adultery
  • Aparigraha – To limit one’s possessions

Jains uphold these principles by practicing vegetarianism, non-violence in thought, deed, and action.

The three guiding principles of Jainism, the ‘three jewels’, are right belief, right knowledge and right conduct.

In present day India, large group of Jains can be found in States of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. The two prominent pilgrim centres for Jains are Sikharji located in Jharkhand and Palitana in Gujarat. Both the pilgrim centres are located on hill stations and they take the test of Pilgrims.

PALITANA TEMPLES IN GUJARAT

Jain culture is divided into 2 sects:

  • Shwetambar : Shwet (White) + Ambar (Clothes)
  • Digambar: Dig (Sky) +Ambar (Clothes).

Both the sects have their own monks and nuns. Monks of Shwetambar sect wear white clothes with little to no stitches and Digambar monks live completely naked. This is because Digambars believe that one can only lead the life of a true monk by having no worldly possessions and by demonstrating indifference to earthly emotions such as shame. They consider themselves clothed by directions. Nuns of both the sects are white clothed.


FESTIVALS IN INDIA

HOLI • GANESH CHATURTHI • RAKSHABANDAN • JANMASTAMI • NAVRATRI • DUSSHERA • DURGA POOJA • DIWALI • CHRISTMAS • BIHU • UGADI • PONGAL • ONAM • SANKRANTI • UTTARAYAN • PARYUSHANMAHAVIR JAYANTI • RAMADAN – EID • BAKRI – EID • PATETI

GET FEATURED

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Pickles from India : The hidden lessons they carry

Pickles are eternal or so they are meant to be. Pickles were there yesterday, are there today and will be there tomorrow. Pickles are made in India since ages. Pickles come in every form and type. The technique to make pickles have been passed on from generation to next generation. Each region makes its own kind of pickle with the local produce available. Lot of spices and ingredients go into pickle to make it last long without any kind of synthetic or chemical preservatives. There might have been lot of iterations done by various people to perfect the art pickle to contain the right amount of natural preservatives as well as maintain the right kind of texture and taste.

Pickle making is an art in India. Usually pickles are made of Mango, Lemon and Amla. This is not exclusive or not limited list. There are various kinds of pickles made based on local fruits, plants and produce which last from 2 weeks to as long as 1 year. And you will be surprised to find the same taste even after an year. No modern preservation technique can come close to keeping food so fresh and long lasting.

Pickle making is art, science, religion and festival in India.

Pickle making starts at shopping for the ingredients and ends at placing the jar in the safe corner. When the season for pickle making starts like for eg the season for Mango pickle starts in summer. Ladies of the house often accompanied by a senior lady go to buy the best mangoes that are available. They pick each by hand and decide to pay the minimum they can. They bargain a lot. Why ? Because the amount of pickle that goes into the making is in large quantities for many households. It is made in small batches as 1 kg to large batches as 5kg to 10kg in a joint family. Those who have farms of their own, grow their yield separately and don’t have to go through the hustle of buying. They keep the best crop for themselves.

Pickle making is a family activity. Once the mangoes are brought home, they are washed nicely and cleaned until there is no water. Water is the enemy of pickles, well for most of them which are kept for long. Then all ladies, kids and men likely join in the process of cutting, marinating and preserving the pickle. For each kind of pickle, there is a separate process. But in all of them, the base idea is to keep things clean, follow the process taught to them by their granny, mother or mother-in-law and keep the pickle to rest in safe place. Most houses consider it equivalent to a religious ritual to make pickle as any kind of damage or rotting in the long wrong is considered bad.

Pickle making is Science. Process above everything. Most pickles are kept in solution of some kind of food oil and usually contains ingredients like mustard (Rai), clove (laving), fenugreek (methi), til, corainder (daniya) and other seeds in dry roasted and powder form. The aroma of the spices is spread in the entire colony. Pickle is mixed and packed in the jar made of ceramic or glass or similar containers which are specifically chosen for pickles. Usually whatever spice mix is left after the pickle is packed, is enjoyed by the family with rice, chapati or any snack on that day itself.

One stop solution for travel, minimalism, economy and food. Pickles last long. Pickles can be carried easily. Pickles need not be cooked again. Pickles don’t need any kind of alteration. Pickles can be eaten with rice, roti, any kind of snack. They are taste boosters. Pickles make food wholesome. Pickles remind you of your culture, tradition, village, home and specially of your family.

Pickle is poor man’s food. For the well off pickle may be a side dish or taste enhancer but for the real poor of India, pickle is a half part of meal. When the days are not well, they just add pickle in between roti and enjoy with some onion or chilly. When they travel in trains or are on move from one village to another, it helps them to travel light and eat healthy stomach filling food. When the supply of vegetables is over a toss or their is a breakdown in the supply due to any kind of natural calamity or strikes or damage to crops, pickles help to manage the days by functioning as supplements.

Pickles are made at home by family with hands, care, dedication and lot of love!

Pickle haters are few, yet they have their reasons. Some may complaint about the amount of oil, spices, chillies or other ingredients that go into the pickles that it makes their stomach upset or heat them up. But certainly they are not in the right context and use of pickles. It may not be right for them to consume but for millions, I say MILLIONS in India, it is a part of every day meal. For some it’s the major part of their meal. So don’t eat if you don’t like, but do not speak ill of it. It is not meant for you.

Homemade food made with lot of ingredients and a little love. Pickles in India are not made in factories with machines and synthetic preservatives. Pickles are made at home by family with hands, care, dedication and lot of love. Today in India, many varieties of pickle are sold in packets, containers some made by people, some made by industries. They may be good or may not. You can check the ingredients listed. But once you taste the pickle made by a mother, you will never forget it.

Pickles mix with every dish without any complaint.

Add pickle in your bucket list. If you are travelling to India for the first time, then make sure to add it in your bucket list to taste some form of home made pickle. You may carry some with you. However make sure to ask about the ingredients or heat level if you are allergic to any kind of food or cannot tolerate. For fun, you keep a bottle of milk with you and try it. If you fall in love with pickles then you will find each village have a variety of each kind of pickle and their are so many different kinds of pickle, so it will be a pursuit for you, even if you are Indian.

Pickles saved many generations in India. Pickles are their for a reason. If you don’t know the reason and don’t want to know, then at least check at the scale of their presence and accept the importance. For situations like COVID19 when the movement was restricted, pickles have helped many households. Even though the essentials were allowed in this scenario, many scenarios in life, don’t come with the liesure or choice. So pickles become a saviours. So I urge you all who consider pickles to be just another product in the food racks of shopping malls, to remember your childhood or make a call to your mother or grand mother and know about their experiences related to pickle and if you are lucky you may find a secret recipe hidden in them. It’s time to bring it out and try, before they are lost forever.


Let us know your favourite pickle in comments section below. If you are visiting our site from other parts of the world, share your thoughts on pickles and which kind of pickles are made in your country. If you don’t like pickles, share your feelings and reasons.

Paryushan | Festival of Forgiveness in Jainism, India

Paryushan is one of the most important festivals for Jains. Normally Shwetambar Jains refer it as Paryushan, while Digambar Jains refer it as Daslakshana. It lasts 8 days for shwetambars and 10 days for digambaras. It is a festival where the entire community strives towards self-purification through fasting and sacrifice. At the heart of the philosophy behind Paryushan are ten universal virtues that is believed to help us purify and rectify our minds.

The ten universal virtues are:

  • Forbearance, exercising self-control
  • Gentleness, being kind to the nature
  • Uprightness, being honest with oneself
  • Purity, having clean thoughts and actions
  • Truth, being truthful
  • Restraint, exercising control over desires
  • Austerity, consuming only according to necessity
  • Renunciation, learning to sacrifice
  • Lack of possession, donating excesses to needy
  • Chastity, sexual restraint.

Paryushan means “abiding” or “coming together”. It is more of following strict Jainism for 8 days. Most people observe fast during these days. They survive on boiled water, which is consumed only between sunrise and sunset for 8 days. Those who are not on fast try not to eat anything else than cereal and pulses (no vegetables, no fruits), as cereals and pulses are considered to have least number of organism whom you can harm. These 8 days are celebrated with great enthusiasm.

We also perform Pratikraman on these days. Though few people do it on a daily basis. Pratikraman means turning back. It is a form of meditation where one reflects on his spiritual journey and renews his faith.

For both Shwetambars and Digambars, it takes the form of periodic meditation. Jains are considered to perform atleats one annual Pratikraman on the last day of Paryushan. This day is called Samvatsari.

On this day we request each other for forgiveness for all offenses committed during the last year. Forgiveness is asked by telling “Micchami Dukkadam” or “Uttam Kshama” to each other.

It means “If I have caused you offence in any way, knowingly or unknowingly, in thought word or deed, then I seek your forgiveness“. This is my favorite part.


FESTIVALS IN INDIA

HOLI • GANESH CHATURTHI • RAKSHABANDAN • JANMASTAMI • NAVRATRI • DUSSHERA • DURGA POOJA • DIWALI • CHRISTMAS • BIHU • UGADI • PONGAL • ONAM • SANKRANTI • UTTARAYAN • PARYUSHANMAHAVIR JAYANTI • RAMADAN – EID • BAKRI – EID • PATETI

GET FEATURED

Do you like to write your opinions, thoughts and musings. Are you a veteran writer or budding blogger looking for a platform to share their work, then we have space to cover you. Send us your entries and get featured on our website. We will add reference link to your website or social media page. If you send works of others in part or full, provide due credits. Say no to plagiarism.

Culture is not superstitious

Being cultural is not being superstitious. There might be a lot of things that are superstitious about your culture and the place you come from. You can try to identify those and stop following them. There might be somethings you don’t understand, you may continue to follow them or hold your belief about it, but you shouldn’t shame it. You shouldn’t be shameful about following cultural traditions. Culture is what makes us and not everything is superstitious about culture. If you cannot continue the traditions your ancestors started in your delusion for superstitions, you are absolutely making sure that the knowledge and lessons learnt will be burnt with you and it will never pass on.

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Ugadi Festival – Telugu New Year

You are making a big mistake of losing the resources. We have already come far away from where we have started and they have been continuing so many traditions and events without clear knowledge. They made a mistake of not carrying the complete knowledge as to why it is being done and how it helps us. They were ignorant or may be incapable of being so wise enough to understand that. They just did what came to them as natural. But you are a learned man. You know a thing or two about the world. If you are making a personal decision of not doing something merely on the basis of your thoughts that everything in culture is suspicious and superstitions, then you are as much responsible for the loss as the people who continue repeating the superstitions.

There is a thin line of difference in being superstitious and in being cultural. Understand your culture and treasure it. Don’t get carried away in the desire to be modern and losing your culture. We don’t have to stop following the rich festivals in the advent from demand of work, life and technology. We can be the best of both worlds. We can be modern yet continue to preserve that culture.


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