Thursday, May 2, 2013

Skills in action

Skills in action. That is precisely what yoga is. Well, at least at the surface, it appears that way or else how else would you explain this.:)

The limitless power of human being
Been wanting to write about my yoginic :p journey for a couple of months now but I guess yesterday's event had to kick start it. The Malaysia Yoga Society (MYS) held its annual international Yoga Competition yesterday and I just happened to be a part of it. If I could put it in mere words : It's nice to feel and to know that you're part of something greater than your own self because most often the only person we're ever so concerned about it our own selves. Isn't it so? 

So anyway, the bulk of the participants are primary school children. And a small group of inspiring enthusiastic awesome adults. To some it may not look like a real charity fund raising programme but if you probe deeper, put a little bit of your heart and mind, you'll see that this competition allows kids especially from all walks of life to shine albeit all their differences. It was just a platform to showcase their abilities. Some of which have been deeply suppressed. A large group of participants are children from various Tamil schools around Klang Valley mainly underprivileged  poor kids. Perhaps some with very unhappy family, incondusive living environment, alcoholic abusive father. Or all of it. I will never know but each and every one of them have the potential to be a great individual and that is basically what yoga does. To bring out that potential in them without any prejudice. Perhaps at this age being in a primary school, those kids will never know how much their life will change in about 10 years from now but they will be a better adult. One who is brave, courageous, disciplined and most importantly one who will reach out to others when the time comes. I have heard stories from friends in the yoga society that some of these kids change remarkably after just a few months of yoga. They stop bullying kids in school, they actually come to school and become better students. Think about it, these are the same kids that could go out and rob you in motorcycles should they go astray. Should they get neglected. 

Yoga has the power to change my own Indian criminals to be good human beings. And the best time to begin is when they're at primary school so that when they reach adolescence where all social problems start they know how to evaluate what is right and what is wrong.  That is how I see it. If they're guided well when they're young, regardless of how poor and battered their life could be, they will still shine. 

It was a great team effort by everyone. Both participant and volunteers. It would be wonderful if we could do this in a larger scale, have more helping hand  as we were in dire need of manpower which could directly translate to the success of the event. And of course all credits goes to the great man behind this event and the founder of MYS, Master Manisekaran himself. A man of vision. I must say. 

Hope to see you all next year. As a participant, volunteer or both :)

One for MIYC 2013

Devotees receiving darshan from Guruji Durai. :p
And thank you Kumaresan Subramaniam for the pictures! In hindsight, the tag was worth it now :p

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Universal Prayer

When I was five, I used to go to the Sivananda Ashramam in Bt.Caves. It was my family's version of Sunday school. I hated it . I hated waking up on Sunday mornings. I hated the Thevaram, the Sangeetham and the Thirukural with every little bit of my heart. I was freaking five years old. Many times, I have prayed to God for him to vanish Sunday. Although I was earnest and very sincere in my prayers to the extent of tears at times, no such miracle happened. Perhaps Sunday was God's off day I thought. :)

Also every Sunday morning, we sisters will fight on who to bathe first and I remember crying in the toilet. I was scared because I know Thirukural Tata ( That's what we call our Thirukural teacher then because he was very very old and he slurred a lot) is going to embarrass us again because we did not memorize any new Kurals. Heck, I don't even remember the old ones. I used to think to myself " Enna, peserrare iverre? Onne me puriyilleya (What is he saying? I don't understand a thing). Worse still, I had no idea where the Thirukural book was. It's probably under the sofa or behind the tv. Somedays, we will purposely lose our books and search for it in the mornings to lengthen the time or hide the car keys somewhere ( This was criminal, I know but we were desperate) in the vain hope that my dad would not send us there because we were like 1 hour late. But I guess my dad knew us better. He still did us and again yet again like many other Sundays, we were the late comers. So we don't get our sweets or laddhu instead we get stared at and I guess from the beginning Thirukural tata never liked us anyway. 

Untill today, I only remember the first Kural. Period. :p

There was one thing I liked though. It was a prayer we said it in Tamil. I had no idea what it meant then but I liked the sound of it. So I memorized it and said it regularly till I stop attending the "Sunday School".

About 15 years later, I heard this same prayer somewhere and I could recite it by heart. It sounded so familiar. It was then that I realized that this was the same prayer that was etched in my heart when I was five.  

Now of recent times when I've actually understood the meaning of it, I realized just how beautiful it is.

I would like to share it with anyone of you who wants to pray universally.

This prayer is called the Universal Prayer and it was written by Swami Sivananda.

                                                     UNIVERSAL PRAYER

Oh, adorable Lord of Mercy and Love!
Salutations and prostrations unto Thee
Thou Art Omnipresent, Omnipotent, Omniscient;
Thour art Satchidananda (Existence, Knowledge, Bliss)
Thou art the In-Dweller of all beings

Grant us an understanding heart,
Equal vision, balanced mind
Faith, devotion and wisdom.
Grant us inner spiritual strength
To resist temptations and to control the mind,
Free us from egoism, lust, greed, anger, hatred and fear,
Fill our hearts with divine virtues

Let us behold Thee in all these names and forms
Let us serve Thee in all these names and forms
Let us ever remember Thee
Let us ever sing Thy glories
Let Thy Name be ever on our lips
Let us abide in Thee forever and ever

                                                                                     -Swami Sivananda-

I like the Tamil version of it :)

Karunaiyum anbum niraintha Iraiva,
Ella uyirhallilum udurvi, enggum nirainthe,
Sarva Vallamaiyum Porunthiya Sarvaknyanana Satchidananda
Paramporullam Ummai Vanangi Panihindrom

Meiporul kanum ullam,
Samanokku nillai petra manam,
Sirathai, bakthi, nyanam evaihalai engalukku arulvirahe
Anavam, kamam, perasai, kovum, verrupu,
Ivaihalilirunthe enggalai viduvithe
Enggal ulanggalil tooya theiviga gunangalai nirapuviraghe

Ella uruvangalilum peyarhalilum Ummaiye tarisithu sevvai seivom ahe
En Neramum Ummnaiye sinthipom ahe
En Drendrum Umathe pugahazlai paduvom ahe
Epothum engallathu naavinil Umathu thirunamam vilanguha
En Neramum Ummulley nilaipetru Vilanguvom Ahe.
Om Dat Sat.

So close your eyes, be still and pray for that is the only invitation that God needs from you. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Avatar 1: Lord Muruga

In view that Thaipusam is around the corner, I have chosen this Lord to be this blog's first featured Avatar. :D

The single speared Velayudhan 
Name : Muruga aka The Beautiful One, The Blissful One

Other nick names: Skandan, Kantha, Karthigeyan, Kumaran, Mayilvaganan, Velayuthan, Gughan, Subramaniam, Saravanan, Soorasankaran, Vishagan, Vallimanallan. 

Birth place: Sarvana Pond

History of birth and many names behind it:  

In the Deities world, evil was triumphing and the demon Soorapadman's (another source said this demon is Tarakarsooran) cruelty knew no borders. The inhabitants could only ask Lord Shiva aka The Destroyer to help them on this matter. Lord Shiva then incarnated a form of six faces (i.e Sathyojatham, Vamadevam, Thathpurusham, Eesanam, Aghoram and Atho). From the third eye of each face, came a fire spark. Lord Shiva asked the God of Wind ( Wayudevan) and the God of Fire ( Agnidevan) to take the six sparks to the Ganges River. The deity of the Ganges river (Ganga) took this sparks to the Sarvana pond. The six fire sparks became six beautiful babies on six red lotus flowers. When Goddess Parvathi hugged them together, they joined to become one form with six faces, twelve hands and was named Skandan, The Mighty Warrior. Six ladies called Kartigai maids took care of Him. Hence he was also called Karthigeyan. 

Finally, when the time was right, Lord Shiva gave the eleven weapon (Rudras) and Mother Parvathi, granted him the spear (Vel) to be used as weapons to kill Soorapadman. This battle went on for 10 days. It was believed that Soorapadman took the form of a big mango tree and Lord Muruga used his spear to split the tree; one part of the tree became the peacock (which the Lord used as His vehicle) and the other half became a rooster ( which was used as a flag)

Father: Shiva

Mother: Parvathi

Siblings: Ganesha & Ayyapan 

Wives: Valli & Devayani ( I'll need to find reasons as to why he has two wives. Will get back to you on this)

Vehicle: Peacock

One happy family at home =) though Muruga's other brother , Ayyapan is nowhere to be seen ;p

Very popular : In south India, state of Tamil Nadu

Known as : The Warrior God and God of Tamil because it was believed that He thought the Tamil language to Saint Agastiyar  himself. 

His Favourite Days: Karthigai star days in each month, Fridays, & Shasti Days; twice a month which falls on the sixth day after the full moon (Pournami) and sixth day after the new moon (Amavasai).

His Major Celebrations
1) Thaipusam - celebrated on full moon, during the Thai (Jan-Feb) month, 10th month of the Hindu calendar. 
2) Skandha Shasthi Viratham (Fast) - A six day fast cum festival celebrated during the month of Aipassi (Oct-Nov) and the final day was said to be the day Lord Muruga killed the super-demon Soorapadman or Tarakasooran.
3) Thirukalyanam- His marriage date to one wife, Valli, normally the day after the final day of Skandha Shasthi Viratham.

Major Scriptures
1) Thirumurukarruppadai                        
2) Kandar Anubhuti
3) Kandapuranam                               
4) Kandar Alankaram
5) Kanda Kalivenba                             
6) Kandar Shasthi Kavasam

Famous Cribs aka Arupadai  Veedu ( 6 houses)  
1) Thiruparang Kundram, Madurai
2) Thiruchendoor, Thirunelvelli
3) Palani Malai, Dindukal-Coimbatoore
4) Swamimalai, Kumbhakonam
5) Thiruthani Malai
6) Pazhamuthir Choolai, Madurai

Avatars Aim: Destroying evil and all other forms of it greed, anger, hatred, cruelty, jealousy, falsehood. 

In his abode, Thiruparang Kundram
Muruga's childhood days in Thiruchendoor

In Pazhamuthir Choolai Abode in Madurai: The Lord with His two wives, Valli & Deivanai

In the Thiruthani Malai abode 
So I have listened to many Tamil songs both holy and not and they all mention many of the Lord's six abodes, now I know why and yes I personally believe He's really beautiful =)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Eternal Law

So what is the Eternal Law of Sanatana Dharma really? Is it a law that was practiced eternally or was the law in itself eternal. Perhaps both. 

Hinduism is complex and by that I mean, you need to be the really open minded sort to know it, before accepting it and then experience it before realizing it. You see, my personal view of my religion is simple : it's actually quite cool. Reason being : It is actually a myriad of different beliefs and concepts fused together yet all existing in balance. It is unity in diversity or diversity in unity. See, what I mean? 

Hinduism today has 4 main denominations much like how Christians have their Roman Catholics, the Angelicans, Protestants. The four main ones being Saivism, Shaktism,Vaishnavism & Smartism. Each one was due to the love for specific Gods.  Albeit, the broad range of beliefs, services and mystic goals, there are some bedrock beliefs.

1. God's Voice of the Vedas
See, when I was growing up, I always thought The Bhaghavad Gita (Gita) was the Hindus bible or Quran. I thought wrong till I stumbled upon something called Vedas. Vedas in Sanskrit  means wisdom or knowledge. Before the birth of ancient people who stayed along the river bank of the Indus and was later known as Hindus,God had whispered the Vedas to illumined sages millions of years ago. Vedas was said to be one of the Shrutis (that which is heard). The Vedas are the most ancient of the Indian scripture that tells a Hindu how to live his life. Maybe if Indus river was never there, probably Hinduism would be called Vedicism. Who knows??

2. There's only one of them ; The Supreme Being.
Another delusional concept. Hinduism isn't polytheistic as many of you might know. We have more than 30 million Gods. Hehe.. Did I not say, it was cool? But there is only one Supreme Being. If you insist on his name, He is called Brahman not to be confused with Brahma though. Brahma is one of the 30 million by the way. Brahman by the way creates this other many million Gods and the universe. He/ She/ It whatever you may call it, is immanent (Everywhere around you, in you) and transcendent ( also in some places you can never see or know it to exist). Fictionally, the Hindu Gods and Goddesses you see in pictures and sculptures everywhere in all colours, shapes, with multiple organs and even weirder forms are jeng jeng jeng... AVATARS. See, if James Cameroon can make his Pandoran Navi's Blue, Brahman can make as many Avatars and colors them as He wish. Period. 

3. The Universe doesn't vanish
The Big Bang theory said the universe came about some 13 billion years ago. It came from a dense hot spot and it's expanding even as I type this sentence out. The cosmo is forever an action of dynamo and probably will never cease to be that way. Hindus believe that the universe undergoes endless cycle of creation, preservation and dissolution. 

4. Reincarnation is Real
Well, if the universe never ends, then why should we, the mere mortals? If the world ends when we die, then how do you explain birth? If death is the end, the universe would be depopulated. No?  Hindus believe the souls reincarnate but not the body. This typically means a soul evolves through many births untill it reaches its final destiny, the liberated state (moksha). In lay term, it would be "Meeting with the Supreme Being". Not a single soul will be deprived of this meeting. 

5. Karma Rules
Your scheduled meeting with the Brahman depends on the law of cause and effect that you accumulate and can CONSCIOUSLY decide/ control at any given moment by your thoughts, words and deeds. Your negative karmic scores lengthens your meet up time and increases the number of births you take and vice versa.

6. Some places you can't see exist
Hindus believe divine beings exist in the unseen world. Temple and home worship, spiritual knowledge attainment and other means of personal devotions allows for connection to this world.

7. Guru is Great
When we were born to this world, we had no knowledge of anything till we were guided by the many teachers in our life. Hinduism believes that for one to attain liberation, spiritually awakened master or satguru leads us to the knowledge of God. Personal discipline, good conduct, mind purification, pilgrimage, self-inquiry and meditation are measures taken by a disciple under his guru's guidance.

8. Make Love, not War
The practise of noninjury or its Sanskrit equivalent, ahimsa, as we commonly know is that all of life's being are sacred and hence should be treated with love. Ahimsa does not only mean "thou shall not kill' but any form of injury through thoughts, words and deeds also fall in this category. Not all Hindus are vegetarians but one of Hinduism's basic belief is to be one.

9. All is one and One is All
Hindus believe that no particular religion teaches the only way to salvation above others but that all genuine religious paths are facet's of God's Pure Love and Light. This in Tamil we call it "Em mathamum sammathem" which is aptly translated to " Agreement with any religion".  

The whole truth and nothing but the truth 
That is the Hindus basic beliefs delivered in a manner that I hope will appeal to you. Whether the rules are something that you Hindus will practice with or without belief or non-Hindus might or might not believe is a matter of your own personal faith.  

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Hinduism - A brief history

Some say Hinduism is not a religion. They say it's a way of life. 

Religion simply means a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman involving devotional and ritual observances.

At its face value, this definition denotes Hinduism as a religion.

Sanathana Dharma, is the Sanskrit word  for "The eternal Law".

That same word also means Hinduism. So now, Hinduism could be defined as the religion of Eternal Law.

How and where did all this begin? 

No one really knows. No date was stated but it is believed and taken as a fact that Hinduism is the oldest prehistoric religion in this world ( among others include the religions of the Mesopotamian and Egypt civilizasation) and the only one of its kind to still LIVE untill today. A radiocarbon test by the Americans Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) on the Kalpa Vigraha, a  crude brass idol of an ancient Hindu God Shiva revealed that it was an artifact that could only be found in the period around 26,000BCE (something like 28,000 years old today). Untill today, Hinduism still has no founder but many scholars and research have been don to widely debate the origins of Hinduism. Below are some theories associated with the beginnings of Hinduism.

Aryan Invasion Theory (AVT)

The Vedas and Agamas, the oldest literary monument of the Indian people, are a collection of hymns composed in archaic Sanskrit language which has been universally accepted as the foundation scripture of Hinduism. It was said that God whispered these scriptures to the illumined sages centuries and millenia ago. Elsewhere in the internet through various search result, I also found another source that said the author of the Vedas called themselves Aryans, "Noble People". How did they came about writing it, the source did not mention. In fact, the date of composition of the Vedas and the original habitat of the Aryans have become one of the most contested issue in Indian studies. 

If you look up Aryan, you'll see that Aryan is actually  derived from the Sanskrit word (arya)- noble. It is believed that the Aryans speak the Indo-European languages, a conglomeration of languages from North, West and Central India and also includes Spanish, English, Portugese, German, French, Russian and Italian.

This still remains as a theory without much archaeological evidences to support it. A group of European Sanskritists suggested that the best explaination for the existence of common features in Sanskrit and the Indo-European languages was the assumption of an invasion of a band of Aryan warriors, who had been living somewhere between Central Asia and Western Europe into India. Hence, the point to note here is that Hinduism did not originate from India, according to this theory. It was the fair skinned, blonde, blue-eyed, sharp nosed Aryans who brought it on horse chariots and fought against the black-skninned, snub-nosed indegenous Dravidian Indians.

With this affinity between European languages and Sanskrit became a commonly accepted notion, scholars elsewhere besides India concluded that the Sanskrit- speaking ancestors of the present day Indians had to be found halfway between India and the western borders of Europe. When the ruins of Mohenjo Daro & Harrapa were discovered in the early twentieth century, it was assumed that these were the cities the Aryan invadors destroyed. 

On the other hand, great scholars like Max Muller (who was a proponent of the AVT himself) and many other Western scholars were postulating the time frame for Indian history and the birth of Vedas. One of  Muller's original theory of the birth of the first Veda, The Rigveda was said to  be around the year 1200BCE. However finally before his death, he concluded through his last work  and admitted that " Whatever may be the date of the Vedic hyms, whether 1500 or 15000 BCE, they have their own unique place and  stand in the literature of the world.

Meanwhile the scholars in India, mainly Bal Gandahar Tilak pointed out an earlier birth date of the Vedas and that there was no reference in the Veda to a migration of the Aryans from outside India and that all geographical features mentioned in Rigveda were those of northwestern India. This was strengthen by the fact that there were no archaelogical evidence for the Aryan invasion theory. On the other side, there were constellations in Vedic works whose time frame can be reestablished by the commonly accepted astronomical calculations.

The contemporary Indian scholars vehemently reject the AVT calling it the " colonial- missionary theory". They accused this invasion as a purpose and process of the colonial conquest of India by the Western powers in modern times onto the beginnings of Indian civilization. The Europeans who came to India deemed themselves to be the bearers of a supposedly superior civilization and a higher religion. The original Aryans were assumed to have invaded a country, imposed their culture and religion perhaps even adopting the existing culture and tradition before claiming it to be their own. 

The defenders of the Aryan theory has continued to believe on their theory while their opponents have come with reasons to deem the former theory as obsolete and did not take place based on this reasons.

Indus Valley Civilization or Saraswati Civilization Culture??

In the Rigveda, it was said that the Saraswati River was praised as the mightiest of all river flowing pure from the mountains to the ocean. Recent satellite photography and geological investigations helped to reconstruct the ancient riverbed of the Saraswati and established that it had completely dried out by the year 1900 due to tectonic shifts. It is believed that the earliest evidence of prehistoric religion in India dated as far back as to the late Neolithic era during the Indus Valley Civilization (IVC). Some 2600 archaeological sites have been discovered that were connected to the IVC and over 1500 sites were found to be located on the Sarasvati River basin.  The IVC was found in the Indian subcontinent which is now where Pakistan and north west India is. This civilization was said the be the largest ancient civilization in the world with Mohenjo-Dara and Harrappa being its two most developed cities,flourished around the Indus river  and extended into the Ghaggar-Hakra and Ganges-Yamuna river. According to one of the opponents of the AVT, it was said it is hardly meaningful to assume that the invading Vedic Aryans established thousands of settlements on its bank four centuries after the Saraswati River had dried out.  Mohenjo-Daro is now situated in Pakistan and recognized as one of UNESCO's world heritage site after it was discovered in the year 1920's and it emerged that nobody had distroyed these cities and no evidence of wars of conquest came to light as claimed in the AVT  but rather flood and droughts had made it impossible to sustain large population in the area. Hence people migrated. Ongoing archaeological research extended the area of IVC to that of the Gangetic culture. 
Satellite imaging of Indus & Saraswati River

Indus river- Blue line on the left, Saraswati River- Green line on the right 
With this evidence coming to light, a new theory of the origins of Hinduism emerged. This theory suggested that the IVC as a late Vedic phenomenon and traced the beginnings of the Vedic age back to several thousands of years. It gave birth to the ancient cultural term of Saraswati-Sindhu civilization. One of the reasons the IVC was coined closely with "Vedic" was because of the evidence of town planning and architectural design that was made based on highly advanced algebraic geometry- a type that was well preserved in the Sulva Sutras, the Vedic mathematic scriptures. 

In fact, the very name of India is said to be derived from the Indus river itself. In ancient times, "India" initially referred to the region of Pakistan along the eastern banks of the Indus river. The term Indus, believed to have been derived from the Rigveda's Sanskrit word Sindhu which was also used in the book Indica which was an account of the voyage of Alexander the Great, the Greek King of the Babylonian city of ancient Mesopotamia to conquer the Indus Civilization. Judging from the name Hinduism, it could be logically interpreted as a group of ancient people living along the Indus valley practicing a set of beliefs, rituals and traditions according to ancient scriptures. The followers of this extraordinary tradition would then be referred to as Sanatana Dharma, the "Eternal Faith" or the "Eternal Way of Conduct" and would be spread throughout the whole world and embraced by more than a billion people as Hinduism. Raimon Pannikar- Alemany, a Spanish Roman Catholic priest who was also a scholar of inter-religious dialogue, through his book the Vedic Experience ( one of the finest English translation of the Vedas), reduced the major religions in the world to proportionate human years, with each 100 years of history to represent one year of human life. Viewed this way, Sikhism, the youngest faith, is just five years old. Islam, the only teenager is fourteen. Christianity just turned twenty. Buddhism, Taoism, Jainism, Confucianism are twenty-five. Shintoism, is in its late twenties. Judaism is a mature thirty-seven. Hinduism, whose birthday remains unknown, is at least eighty years old- the white bearded grandfather of living spirituality in this planet. 

Perhaps something worth mentioning here although no religious interpretations were made would be the discovery of prehistoric cave paintings at Bhimbetka, India which was discovered in 1967 but were confirmed by archaeologist as something created by man somewhere between 30,000 to 100,000 years ago. 

Cave paintings found in Bhimbetka, India

Going to the war perhaps??? 
Even after reading all this, one could never be a 100% certain if Hinduism is indeed the oldest religion in the world ; perhaps the oldest surviving one would be more apt. It would be worthy to note that the cradle of civilization probably began simultaneously in many parts of the world along large river banks most notably Tigris Euphrates, the Nile, the Indus and the Yellow River in China. Almost logically, it would be pertinent to mention that any form of cultural or archaeological documentation would represent its worth and value. 

Perhaps a bigger question worth pondering is that what if documentation of civilization has nothing to do with the religion at all. By that I mean, somethings made known to man were existent long before it was made known to man and attaching value in terms of time does not do any justice to it neither does it do anything to settle the claim of mysticism attached to Hinduism. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012


Traditionally cooked Ponggal
Growing up, I remember this festival as the rice cooking festival and I was given the task to watch my little sister not to go anywhere near the clay pot when it boils over. Some years the "pongal" was too sweet. I disliked it though I loved the nuts that came with it. One year after another, mum made no "pongal" traditionally anymore and later the stove took over. Those were my fondest memories of pongal. 

Traditionally, "pongal" is more of a south Indian festival mainly celebrated in state of Tamil Nadu. It is always celebrated on the 14th or 15th of January each year signifying the beginning of the Thai matham. (the 10th month in the Tamil calendar).

Generally in India, pongal continues for 4 days beginning with Bhogi Ponggal, Surya Pongal, Mattu Ponggal and Kannum pongal.  

Bhogi Pandigai. Day 1.

I remember watching Bhogi fesitval in the movie Talaphati. It's the burn everything festival. Little did I know that this is actually part of the pongal festival in India. Bhogi is said to be celebrated in honor of the God Indra (The ruler of clouds and the giver of Rain). If my memory serves me right, in the movie, a huge bonfire is lit in front of the house and old and useless items are set ablaze, a symbolic way of ushering the new year. Houses are cleaned, painted and decorated. The bonfire burns through the night as young people beat drums and dance around it. Of course, in Talapathi, Rajini sings the Rakama song. ;p Well, as much as I think it gives young people the ability to exercise their creative freedom by singing and dancing, in this 21st century, I think Bhogi is rather obsolete mainly because it is SOO unenvironmentally friendly and while you may think that pair of shoes is useless and should end up in fire, someone else might actually want it. Besides, houses should always be clean and decorated albeit any festival. ;p

Surya Pongal. Day 2.

This is widely celebrated in Malaysia where Indian mothers often get up early, and set up their pongal panai (pongal pot) on planks traditionally outside the house overlooking the sun at sunrise. (This was how my mum did it when we were young) and we sisters would crowd around the pot waiting for it to boil. It was that exciting =) I also remember my dad changing the mango leaves in front of the house and mum drawing Kolam using rice flour. Mum said the rice flour will be eaten by ants later. In India, Surya Pongal is of utmost importance as a vast majority of the population here are farmers and depend on agriculture for their livelihood. Hence, Pongal was celebrated to give thanks to the Sun god for the plentiful harvest. A typical scenario in a village in India, would see farmers bringing newly harvested rice back home to be made into pongal. "Pongal" comes from the word "ponga" which literally means 'to boil till it spills'. This harvested rice will be cooked in a clay pot along with milk, sugar, raisins, cashew nuts, cardamon and other essential condiments. When the  the milk boils and spills over, the term "ponggolo pongal" is often uttered akin to say let it boil, let it spill and the grains of rice is then added into the pot. The spillover signifies abundance of household prosperity and good luck. This rice dish also named 'Pongal' will then be served to the God during prayers and later eaten as a prasatham (blessing) by everyone in the family or village. In India, even the cattle are fed with pongal on this day. 

The folks gather around the pot to say "ponggolo pongal"

Elsehwere in India, this four days festival is celebrated as 

Makara Sankrathi (The sun is purportedly said to enter the 10th house of the Indian constellation  i.e Makaram or Capricon on this day) in Andhra Pradesh, Bengal, Kerala, Bihar, Goa, Manipur, Uttar Pradesh.

Uttarayana (meaning the  beginning of the northward journey of the Sun from its southernmost-limit and is linked to winter solstice) in Rajastan and Gujarat.  

Lohri in Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab.

Bhogali Bahu-Assam 

Mattu Pongal. Day 3.

Jallikattu Kaalai: Professionals only please ;p
This third day is meant for the cattle (mattu) and is not often celebrated in Malaysia as Indians here are not largely farmers or cowherds. In India, the cattle are given a good bath, their horns polished and garlands are put around their necks. They are fed with pongal and taken out for cattle race and bullfight. Basically, "they" are celebrated for their hard work. If you're a fan of Tamil movies or have watched a commendable number of Tamil movies growing up such as Murratu Kaalai starring our superstar Rajinikanth, you'd have heard the term "Jallikattu" kaalai. Allow me to enlighten you that Jallikattu kaalai (bull) is a bull taming sport which could be traced as far back during the Indus-Valley civilization. The term Jallikattu originated from Salli Kasu (coins) and Kattu (tied) which was then tied to the horns as the prize of the competition. This sport is believed to be one of the oldest living ancient sport played in the modern era till today. Although it sounds similar to the Spanish running of the bulls, the contender is to tame the bulls without the use of any weapon and no bull is actually harmed in the process. However,humans have died in the name of pongal fun. Normally, the bulls for this purpose belong to a specific type of species whose basic nature are to attack. 

Kannum Pongal. Day4.

Now, a misnomer. It isn't Kanni pongal. See, growing up, I knew this day as Kanni (Virgin Girl) pongal from what I've heard till moments ago when I actually did my own research. It has got nothing to do with virgin girls at all. In contradiction, the word Kannum means to view. Generally, this is a time for reunion. Historically, this day started out as a village festival, where farmers give thanks to their relatives and brothers by means of food, clothes and money for their support in the harvest. In the modern days now, this day is synonymous with people having a day out with their families. In Malaysia, however many of the Indians still believe its the Virgin Girl pongal. LOL.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Hugging God

Some of life's profound moments happens beyond the imagination and comprehension of the human mind. Words alone no matter how apt can never quite equate to that which that happened. To that which you experienced. Ironically also only words get you this far. From here, it has to be felt and when that happens, suddenly and instantly life changes. This I believe is what the Hindus or Tamilians say "nyanyem piranthereche". To put it plainly, you were awakened. Books and scriptures of real life stories of enlightened masters entails this in great length and depth. Worthy for the seekers who are on their spiritual journey. I also personally believe that, that momentary height of consciousness is attainable without having to travel half across the globe to a remote mountain. But only momentary. Eternally one has to travel further into his mind and later abandoned the earthly life. Depending on what the soul had always desired, that moment will give you the answer to some or many of your questions in the past. Questions you have asked with the purest of intention. If you were tuned to this experience, then life will take a better twist and you will soon watch the glory of it unfold. If that moment impacted you the way it should, then you'd realized that all this while before that one moment, you were alive but you weren't living. Depending on how that moment affected your body, mind and soul, you'll react accordingly. You'll experience a series of emotion. One after another. The emotions will shock you. The most profound would be the act of surrendering. You're ready to let go. To leave all your materials and loved ones behind. Then you'll weep because you thought death is at the door. Even then you were fearless. Free. At that moment, you'll feel an absolute bliss beyond words. God Hugged you. A voice in you will whisper that you were reborn. You will want to stay here forever. You will want to hold on to that moment. You'll float away in the sweet nectar of spiritual highness for sometime before coming back to the real Earth again because that's as far as your soul can go for this time. I believe only yogis, sages and enlightened masters remain in this bliss forever for they are in a whole different plane than the rest of us. Just like how everything we feel in life is a relative to another. To appreciate one moment, experience or just about anything, you need to first know the existence of the opposite. That God hugging moment was transiently blissful relative to other worldly moments. 

The next day, you wake up as usual to live the day. Everything appears the same to the world outside. At the deepest level of the soul, only you realize the change that is happening in you. You're same yet different. You'll recreate life miraculously all over again and you know it will happen bit by bit so that you can enjoy it and marvel at its' grace. You'll see pure existence everywhere. Beautiful just the way they are. You just become aware and in sync with all that is around you. Again something that can only be felt by you. You rejoice and radiate joy into this sense perceived world and still it is beyond human thinking and reasoning.