Journey called life

Chhath Festivities in Bihar-I

Today is an auspicious day in the life of a large part of people living in eastern part of India especially in Bihar and some parts of Uttar Pradesh. Chhath Puja is also celebrated in a big way in neighbouring Nepal and various places around the globe wherever people from this region have migrated and settled. It is one of the most important and sacred festival involving rigid but simple rituals emphasizing the abstaining qualities of Indians.

This festival has an ancient tradition which goes back to few thousand years even predating Vedic period.Nonetheless, some rituals of worshipping Sun god are mentioned in Rig Veda. Another mythological fact links the history of Chhath Puja with Ramayan where Sita worshipped Sun after returning from exile.

But, I am not sure about why this festival is the most celebrated festival in Bihar.

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One of the reason may be that this festival is a self-inspired and managed festival . Official priests or other holy persons has no role to play in Chhath. All able-bodied women/men can perform Chhath Puja as it only demands distance from one’s worldly possession including pleasure food.

Second reason may be that this is one of the most eco-friendly festival which emphasizes the godly and life-giving qualities of Sun and water sources around us. Main ingredients which are offered to Sun are locally available fruits/vegetables some of which have become exotic due to environmental degradation around us. River/Pond cleaning and preparing step-wise mud slopes for keeping fruits/vegetable is a major part of festivities.

Moreover, it is also a little-bit different from other Hindu festivals as idol-worship in the sense of physical statues and places of worship are not involved. All natural/man-made sources of water becomes the place of worship during Chhath. It also highlights the supremacy of nature over mankind and people from all economic classes offer the obeisance to the Sun on the banks of river/ponds  in the same way.

No VIP queues are allowed before Sun.

Chhath is called so because it is celebrated on the sixth day of Kartik month of Vikram Samvat(Hindu Calendar) which normally falls in the month of October-November as per Gregorian Calendar. There is another Chhath named Chaiti Chhath which is celebrated on sixth day of Chaitra month which normally comes few days after Holi during the month of March-April. So, there are 02 types of Chhath, 01 on the onset of Winter and another one at the onset of Summer. Therefore, it seems that Chhath is strategically situated at the gates of 02 major seasons in India. But, the winter Chhath is more popular as it falls in midst of long festival season in India. Here, I will talk mainly about today’s Chhath.

Main festivities of Chhath lasts for 04 days.It is an arduous festival for devotees .

It starts with Nahay Khay (eating after bathing). People take bath in holy river and eat a single meal of rice, pulses mixed with pumpkin and Pumpkin dish prepared in ghee(clarified butter). For younger generations ghee can basically be termed as grandfather of refined oil which tastes like heaven if obtained in pure form. Nowadays, people get afraid if you talk about food prepared in such a rich aroma as modern doctors believe in ignoring benefits of traditional food. So, in a sense, Nahay Khay promotes cleanliness of outer and inner body including vital organs of stomach. 

2nd day is meant for Kharna or Kheer-Roti (rice prepared with sweetened milk and bread). People observe dawn to dusk fasting and eat just after sunset after offering it to Sun and Usha (Goddess). Thereafter ,  the most arduous task begins which includes nearly 36 -hours of fasting even without a sip of water. On 3rd and 4th day, fruits,vegetable,milk and home-made sweets are offered by devotees to setting and rising sun respectively while standing in knee/waist-deep water.

There are strict rules for preparing sweets for this purpose as even cooks are not supposed  to   eat anything and observe fasting. Thekua (a traditional sweet made of refined flour, sugar,etc.) is  a must for Chhath festival and it is consumed in large quantities.These items are normally made on earthen stoves by using clean wooden sticks as fuel. But, nowadays LPG has replaced it in prosperous households.

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So, Chhath Puja primarily encompasses abandoning food and other material comfort like soft beds for few days. It promotes austerity and is healthy for human body. Some people also offer to undertake journey from home to river banks in supine manner by prostrations. It is called Dandvat Pranam which means instead of walking on 02 legs , you cover the whole distance on your stomach and chest. Mathemetically, it means if your height is 1.80 metres(nearly 06 feet) and distance from home to river bank is 180 metres then you have to lie on road and get up immediately 100 times. Multiply this several times if you are smaller and journey to river bank is longer. It is pretty strenuous and performing it on empty stomach is a herculean task. But, it is good for your health and continuing it for longer period will make you fighting fit.

But, the story of Chhath has many more shades. So, it will take another episode to complete it. Till then , we shall try to eat less and live a frugal life as rich food or life has disastrous consequences and believe me no one has been able to survive longer on a deadly cocktail of rich life and food.

So, what do you think about this thought, you can let me know by sharing your thoughts on http://www.justcasualthought.com.

Happy reading.

An Opinion about Judwa-2

I watched Judwa-2(Hindi movie) today. Though, it was little bit late as the movie was released during last week of September, 2017. But, watching first on big screen is always a pleasure for seasoned movie buffs. I enjoyed it as normally I do not read review of movies by celebrated critics. It gives me pleasure to enjoy movie without  being prejudiced about performance of actors or intricacies of plots. So, whenever a movie gets released on Friday, I adopt the attitude of a cavemen and avoid all references to that movie in newspapers, websites, televisions or any other mass media source till I watch it through my own eyes. I avoid it religiously and even turn my gaze away from such reviews while leafing through pages of magazines/websites.

So, I will try not to reveal plot or any substantial fact about movie if you are planning to watch it in near future and do not know the history and geography of this movie. Yes, history and geography are important pillars of this movie. Normally, history and geography are not integral part of a run-of-the-mill movie. These subjects are actually stress-busters for harried students tormented by laws and bylaws of mathematics and science.

But, Judwa -2 is different. It is different in the sense that I already knew the plot and was familiar with shenanigans of lead actors. It was a sort of deja vu for me as I recall watching Judwa in a pretty foggy and cold morning in the month of February, 1997. More than 20 years have gone by, but it seems I watched it yesterday.

It is a well established fact that satellite/streaming channels have stuffed our lives with all sort of visual entertainment and movies are repeated time and again. The best example of this stuffing theory is melodramatic film Sooryavansham on Set Max. I am not sure how many times I have watched it inadvertently. Even broadcaster sitting at the Control Room of Set Max doesn’t know it. It is joked that even close relatives of megastar Amitabh Bachchan call him by the name of Dada Thakur. Normally, as per data collated by diligent movie-lovers, a TV-watching Indian adult watches each movie at least 05 times in a life time.

So, Judwa(1997) is no different. Actually, it was a remake of a Telugu movie named Hello Brother (1994) starring superstar Nagarjuna. But, Hello Brother is also an unofficial remake of  Twin Dragons (1992) starring an Asian/Hollywood superstar Jackie Chan. This movie was made in Hong Kong. A Kannada movie named Cheluva was also made based upon Two Brothers of Nagarjuna.

So, now you will realize that Judwa -2 originated  in Hong Kong and travelled to Hyderabad then to erstwhile Banglore then to erstwhile Bombay and now arrived in Mumbai. So, it has covered a distance of nearly 4200 Kilometres in a journey which started 25 years ago(in 1992) on a coastal city on South China Sea and culminated on humid coastal region of Arbian Sea.

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Now, coming to the movie.

Basic logic of the movie is that if  one part of a twin experiences pain then other part of twin also gets hurt depending upon distance. It is a reflexive kind of funny action.

Movie has been declared an all-round hit and earned few hundred crores and counting as on date. It is nicely packaged masala movie and full of double-meaning suggestive words.I will call it a time pass entertainment having wonderful cinematography. Scenic locations in England have been shown beautifully.  University of London campus forms backgrounds of various scenes. Beaches and resorts of Mauritius give the movie a holiday look. Taapsee Pannu and Jacqline Fernandez perform the task of good eye-candies and they looked beautiful.But, acting -wise I feel that Karisma and Rambha were far better in 1997 movie. Varun Dhawan is impressive but comparing him with a younger Salman is bit too harsh.Original humour and timing of actors were better. Original Judwa was the starting point of an enduring partnership between Salman Khan and David Dhawan.

The movie also denotes the times we live in. Salman Khan came to India  in earlier version and here our Varun goes to London. So, the background changes and clean streets of London replaces rustic charm of erstwhile Bombay.

But, music is hummable. Earlier version was evergreen in flirty sense and that’s why 02 of best songs of earlier version have been remixed by original composers. Anu Malik deserves praise for putting old wine in refurbished bottle.

So, watch it for old times.

 

Dog’s are man’s best friend – I

Dogs are man’s best friend

It seems cliche but it’s true. I don’t wish to sound old but these words were actually told for the first time by King Frederick of Prussia(Germany) nearly 300 years ago. Since then this phrase has accompanied dogs everywhere be it literature or movies. It has inspired me to write about dogs.

You must have heard it few times if you live in vicinity of a dog-lover. There are only two kinds of people in the universe , some loves dogs and many don’t. So, a majority of nearly 06 billion human beings living on earth presently don’t love dogs but my point is that whether you love them or not you can’t ignore them. Some people in East Asian nations like China, Korea, Vietnam, etc. even eat them. Their meat is termed as delicacy. DSCN1105

But,dogs are a very sensitive and intelligent animal. They can be called the closet mirrors of humans in animal word. It seems astonishing but dogs imbibe qualities of their owner. In fact, you can recognize people by observing mannerism of their dogs.I strongly believe that dogs have the ability to understand and communicate with humans in an intelligent way. Intelligent dogs understands few hundred command words and act as per their IQ but I have heard a story of dog who understood nearly 1000 words. What a dog ? It seems he was nearly human !

Yes , in fact they are human in the sense that they can also suffer from diabetese,arthritis, cancer, heart disease,etc.. But, they can also help humans in avoiding these diseases as normally most dogs are playful in nature. They love running with you which may make you a seasoned marathoner and will keep your heart healthy. It is widely believed that a particular tribal people of Mexico called Tarahumara uses dogs as their companions while running long distances in wild.

Historically, dogs have been living with humans since few thousand years. Actually, no historian knows the exact date of dog’s association with humans. No concrete theory exists about their origin also. But, wolves are generally considered to be distant cousins of dogs. It is believed that dogs are the first species of animal domesticated by humans. Earlier wolves used to help humans in hunting due to their tracking capability and humans later adopted wolf’s puppies and they evolved into present -day dogs.Later on , the dogs replaced wolves and helped humans in hunting.

This cheating may be the reason that why wolves hate dogs even today and they kill any dog which comes within their hunting ground. So, treachery by forefathers of present-day dogs are costing them their lives even in 21st Century. Mostly feral (wild,abandoned) dogs are killed in this manner near wooded areas in hills.But, it is a fact that only a quarter of population of dogs on earth are domesticated. Nearly, 3/4th population of dogs indirectly depend on humans or prey on wild animals. Some of these dogs still behave like wolves.

It is generally believed in India that only rich people keep dogs for fun. But, a large number of tribal or rural populace depend upon fierce dogs to guard their animals/birds. Their economic dependence on dogs is a case study in itself but very less scholarly work is available in this field. But, I have seen Kashmiri Gujjars (pastoral agricultural ethnic groups) who live on unlivable snowy heights of Pirpanjal Himalayas use their dogs for guarding sheeps,goats and horses/mules. They even act like guardian for children or elderly/disabled to provide them company on their seasonal long journeys undertaken by them on rocky mountain dirt tracks.

Unlike other carnivores, dogs can live without meat. They eat all sort of human food but just make sure that you keep your dog away from grapes, onions, garlic or chocolates. Yes , chocolates are harmful for dogs. In fact, dogs are also allergic to nicotine. So, mark my words and never let your dog indulge in smoking ! Smoking kills dogs as in case of humans.DSC09338

I strongly believe that in modern times British people have been great dog-lovers due to the simple fact there are so many English words for dogs.

For example, a baby dog is termed as pup or puppy but only till he or she is 01 year old. If you tell them by this name after 01-year, they may disapprove your command, bark on you or may  bite you. As per rural stories, dog bites are dangerous and you may  start behaving like a dog. Earlier, 14 huge injections were administered in stomach to ward off chances of rabies which was a draconian thought in those days. Now, I heard that number of injections and their lethality has come down significantly.

The process of giving birth to puppies is called whelpingHold on , there are more magnetic words related to dog-dictionary . Yes, there are so many specialized words that you can open a mini dictionary.

Dogs are born in groups which is called litter. Father of litter is called the sire and mother is called the dam. Can you recognize the gentlemanly qualities of Britishers as these 02 words seems to be derived from Sir & Madam.   

Similarly, a group of 03 or more  adult dogs is called a pack. There are so many words which you have to discover on your own.

Enough about Britisher’s love of dogs. Indian people also love dogs which reflects in stellar roles played by dogs in our mytholgy during ancient times.

It is believed that Yamaraj(God of death) owns 02 guard dogs having 04 eyes. These 02 dogs are used to keep a watch upon gates of Naraka(Hell). So, if you believe in gods then take concrete steps to avoid those dogs and pray for Swarga(heaven) . So, dogs are important.  

In the same vein, it is believed that consequent upon conclusion of Mahabharta(The Greatest War) , Pandavas went to Himalays on final pilgrimage after renunciation of all earthly belongings/relations accompanied by a dog. Only, Yudhishithra(eldest brother) reached the top of the mountain in his mortal body due to his unblemished (by sin) life along with dog. When Indra(King of Heaven) asked him to abandon dog to enter heaven, he refused due to unflinching loyalty shown by dog.Subsequently, it was revealed that dog was his godfather, Dharma(Religion). This incident symbolized that Dharma follows you till the end.

But,  modern dogs normally live for nearly 10-13 years. However, there is a one-off case of a dog living upto nearly 29 years. But, it is well known that dogs are faithful and they love you without any strings attached even more than your family members.

Dogs have also played a significant part in movies of Hollywood and Indian cinema. But that is a separate chapter to be explored later.

Though, there are more stories about dogs but I put a brake on my thoughts for now.

If you like this story , you can let me know by subscribing or liking this post.

See you next time with another casual thought because you are reading me on justcasualthought.com.

Happy reading.

Sundays outside Kashmir Valley

Hi dear reader,

If you are reading this  post then there are 02 possible scenarios…..first one is that you feel good to see me writing again after a long gap provided you have read me on earlier occasions…second one is that you must be wondering  what to  expect if you are a newcomer on this page.

So, before writing anything frivolous or mundane, let me deal with my favorite topic. Why so much long gap between 02 posts ? Last time , I wrote about Sundays in Kashmir valley during first week of November, 2016. So, again taking pains to write after nearly 10 months demands answers. But, I don’t have any reasons. It seems, I forgot to write. Choosing topics is a painful exercise.

So, I took a conscious decision to continue the Sunday chronicles and write about Sundays outside Kashmir valley.

It is Navratri time in most parts of India especially in eastern, northern & western corners of country. Though, nowadays it is celebrated in various forms across the country in autumn season. Normally, Navratri is a multi-day and multi-seasonal(04 times) festival celebrated due to various legends associated with it but post-monsoon Navratri is the widely-acclaimed among believers. Every festival brings joy. It is an occasion to mingle with loved ones and strangers. If feeling of happiness is not unbridled then the true meaning of festival is not realized. If , you can not do Garba on roads in Navratri in Gujrat then the fun of festival diminishes a little bit ?

But, Kashmir is different. Though, festival brings joy here also but there is a lingering doubt about security scenario of public places. Celebrating festival as a civilized society means using public places without fear of getting injured by stones or bullets. For  that matter, even unruly mob can spoil  festive spirit of whole neighbourhood, may be even country. A Kashmiri Police Officer learnt this lesson in a tragic way as he was beaten by a bullish mob on an auspicious occasion outside one of the most holy place in Kashmir valley.

So, festivals can also bring tragedy in a hostile neighbourhood. But, the question to ask is hostile to whom and why ? Is this the answer to the imbroglio of Kashmir ? Even, if militants succeed in their avowed goal then what ? Will they transport 10 districts of Kashmir valley to a fantasy land among stars and live happily thereafter ?

There is a need to bring sense among die-hard followers of this madness and talk sensibly.

Need to tell them that Sundays are meant for fun activities which they are missing. Sundays are not meant for throwing stones or causing hardships to fellow human beings.

Outside Kashmir valley, people go to public places like shopping malls, parks, theatres to let go of  the accumulated  stress of weekdays. Kashmir is a paradise  unknown even to local youngsters. There are hundreds of natural/scenic places full of  emerald-green lofty trees  and snow-white water streams/lakes to chill out. DSC02116Take some time off and be a normal youngster and enjoy festivities of life in myriad colour. Life is precious and we don’t get even a single lifeline to get it back from the unknown heaven or hell unlike the participants of KBC who get 04. Once the light has gone out from soul it can not not be the same again . May be this simple truth is unknown to many among us and we keep destroying the life of others.

But, everything is not so gloomy nowadays. Incidents affecting common people  have come down  considerably in recent past when compared with statics of last year. Economy of tourism is again showing signs of revival. The year 2017 has brought clouds of happiness in fields of Kashmir due to heavy snowfall in the beginning of the year. Snowfall is considered good omen as it is harbinger of bumper crop of apple and other local but exotic fruits. So, sweeter apples means big smiles on faces of apple-orchard owners.

In fact, youngsters have started enjoying life again. They even love coffee which can not in any way substitute locally-brewed Kahwah. Kahwah is basically an exotic type of green tea heavily flavoured with wonderful spices including the king of spices specific to Kashmir i.e. saffron. It is wonderful.DSC05620

But, drinking coffee in cafe is a positive sign. It was amazing to see a Game of Thrones-themed Coffee Shop in Srinagar. It means Winter is Coming and there  are happy days all around. So, Sundays in Kashmir valley are on the way of becoming like Sundays outside Kashmir valley.

That’s it for now. Happy reading.

Sundays in Kashmir valley

I believe in power of titles.

Your first impression about a book is the cover page designed by a computer geek and pithy title. Half the battle of perception is won or lost by an eye-catching title. I do not mean to say that content of a book is irrelevant to eventual readership but the fact is that  significant role of a great title in popularity of book can not be denied.

So, when I mention Sunday and Kashmir in same title, it must have sparked a small fire of curiosity in your subtle mind. Normally, for a youth below 40, Sundays are a time to  celebrate and eat/drink plentiful amount of delicious food and choicest beverages of all kind in good company of friends(girls/boys/men,women included). You add a visit to nearby multiplex /discotheques etc……… But, these things matter only for a young people in rest of India….not in Kashmir.   

Here , we are different. All movie theaters have been burnt down in Kashmir during turbulent 1990s. Only 02 wine shops are operational in Kashmir valley i.e. in Srinagar only. Rest 09 districts of Kashmir do not sell evil drinks to humans. So, imagine the situation that 02 authorized wine shops serve more than 07 millions people of Kashmir. I am sure those 02 wine shop vendors must have become millionaire  by now. It is not that youth in valley hate to have good jolly time with spirits but social climate has turned vicious for expressing exuberance of youth.

Same with movie theaters, people have learnt to live without watching  movies on big screen.They adore Salman Khan and mobbed him during shooting of Bajarangi Bhaijan in Kashmir valley. But they do not have the luxury to see Bhai in action on 70 mm.

The image of  Kashmir was further dented by the fact that snow-peaked mountains and fields where lovely Deepika Padukone and Ranbir Kapur indulge in friendly stamina-sapping race belonged to scenic Gulmarg but in the movie it was shown as Manali ? While watching “Ye Jawani Hai Diwani(2013)”, I recognised this fact  but it defied logic that why will Imtitaz Ali, the thinking director, should misrepresent facts. If some college going youths of NCR wish to visit a hill station then it could be Gulmarg ? Why  Manali ?

Answer lies in the question itself ?

Because for a mainstream Indian director it seems illogical that any young men/women will go to Kashmir for having fun. Though, it seems cliche but it is a fact that people feel scared in visiting Kashmir.

Who is willing to sacrifice good times in Kashmir ?

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But, satellite dishes are ubiquitous even in hinterland and far-flung mountain areas. Watching movie on idiot box is a favourite pass time during vagaries of nature i.e. during snowfall and shenanigans of deranged and at the same time highly motivated youths i.e mujahids.

Though, street food culture can be found in downtown Srinagar or may be somewhat less in Anantnag and Baramulla but people are scared to venture out to have good time. It seems young boys/girls have forgotten the art of having unadulterated fun. May be a quiet corner on promenade of Dal lake turns into noisy food corner in the evening but the credit for this goes to Bengali tourists who frequent house boats during summer and winter months. Same goes for boat-laden street food in Dal lake.

I must emphasize one fact that this lack of cosmopolitan party culture is a major hurdle in attracting more tourists in valley. If you go to Shimla or Kullu-Manali, you must have encountered boisterous group of local college -going youths having fun on scenic spots. Here in Srinagar, this local gang of boys/girls are missing. If Srinagar is beautiful for a tourist coming from Bengal, is it less beautiful for local school/college going youths ?

May be my timing is not right. Today is the 121st day of some sort of continuous shutdown in Kashmir valley. I do not wish to stray from my topic about Sundays but it is a fact that last 18 Sundays have been wasted by us in Kashmir valley. If this turmoil has to end , our youth need to live life to the hilt.

Politics is a dirty word but the solution has be an out-of-the-box thinking by inspired youths only.

Nearly 70 years have passed since that fateful day in October, 1947 , when destiny of a young Indian nation and Kashmiriyat were merged by divine ordain as well as lethal mix of politics and circumstances. If our past generations have suffered in Kashmir imbroglio and we know it has then an honest effort shall be made by today’s youth so that tomorrow’s children are not burdened by this so-called impossible quagmire called Kashmir.

Sunday can play a bigger role in it. Watching sun sliding down a mountain peak is an awesome sight. Watching sun go beyond Zabarwan mountain ranges is sheer bliss if you are eating spicy hot noodles in a Shikara.  We need to relax and let this November chill of open sky overwhelm us. If you can not solve a puzzle yourselves, let others do it.

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I sincerely wish that next Sunday shall bring a ray of fresh hope and we will have fun.

This is it for today.

First blog of the year always feels special. Next will be out soon. But, I need Sundays badly. Imagine if there were no Sundays…you jump to Monday straight away fro Saturday.

Scary ?

See you. Bye for now

 

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