Tuesday, 19 February 2019

The prasad and the Christian

Prasad is any offering made to the deity in the Hindu religion. Any festival or visit to the temple is incomplete without offering the god/goddess in question the choicest food, which of course would be later consumed by the people who offered the goodies to the god/goddess. Sometimes, the offerings are made in the temple and the prasad is distributed to the devotees present. Well, I wish it was as simple as that!

Now, Christianity has the concept of clean and unclean food - unclean foods include any food which has been offered to any idol or deity. This idea of unclean-ness forbids majority of Christians from partaking of the prasad which is kindly offered to them.

When I was growing up in Bombay (now Mumbai), we lived in a colony allotted to staff who worked for the Airports Authority. There were people belonging to different communities and food was also freely distributed. But there was a problem. My parents forbid us to touch any food item that was offered to gods and goddesses from other religions. Obviously we were protestant Christians. My parents were (and still are) quite rigid about anything to do with other gods/goddesses. We being children, we tagged along with our friends to every festivity which was organised by the colony. Ganesh Chaturti was always celebrated with great pomp and splendour. While the celebrations were fun, I used to hate the time when prasad was being distributed - I could neither run away nor eat the offering. I was always in a confused state and did not know how to tackle the issue at hand. I devised a way - I neither wanted to hurt the Hindu by refusing the prasad nor anger my parents by eating the prasad. So, I would receive the prasad and then throw it away into the nearest dust-bin. Such was my fear of god.

We grew up and then food was just food - be it prasad which was offered or biriyani which was shared. It took me a great deal to stop seeing the religious attachments with food. But today around me I see many Christian staff who point blank refuse the prasad. I start to scoff at them, but stop, thinking of my parents.

I still don't accept the prasad when my mother is with me. Luckily, I don't have to do anything because my mother refuses on 'our' behalf. 

Monday, 18 February 2019

Casually . . .

He wishes me 'Good morning'
And in the passing
while I respond to his greeting,
I see his eye on her breasts.
It lasts perhaps for three seconds
but the gentleman who wished me 'Good morning'
crumpled in my sight!

You were discussing Maya Angelou
we were discussing Feminism.
You mention, 'Ah! Feminism is a fad.'
Your Maya Angelou talk 
slips like the grains of sand on my hand.

Passionately, you speak for women's rights,
Your tone convincing
and body quivering.
At home you say,
"But cooking is the domain of women!"
Your talk IS definitely convincing!

I see you sizing up women,
that hungry look and pleasure of glee,
The next day, you are seated in the
Internal Complaints Committee,
discussing sexual harassment.
Irony died!

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Walking Backwards

Yes, you read that right! This post IS about walking backwards. Literally and not figuratively as we netizens are trained to look at every phrase that hovers in the radius of our vision. My passionate walks and jogs have always been in my Chennai's jogger's park which is located where I live. Today, after many years, I managed to walk and also jog for a bit. But then, I was itching to try out something that I have never done before. And voila! I tried walking backwards.

                                             Image result for walking backwards

It was not something that belonged to my comfort zone! Quite obvious. I was afraid that I would trip or perhaps a stone would come in my way and might twist my ankle. It was quite similar to the aspects of life that demand us out of the comfort zone. My life in 2018 and early 2019 is a mixed bag of challenges and situations that I have never remotely anticipated or experienced. I tried walking backwards for a while and then it seemed better. It got better with each step but not without a tiny bit of apprehension. I was also on the lookout for any joggers/walkers who I would scare or even stumble against. Well, I was turning behind from time to time -- a nice-looking guy was a bit startled but I decided to stall my experiment, happy that I had managed quite a bit without much ado.  It was indeed a nice sense of achievement.

I thought of all the motivational posts of Facebook and Instagram which nudges you to do at least one thing that scares you everyday. Well, I have just opened my account. I did not think that walking backwards would prove so much of a hassle when I first began but I must admit that the first step was quite scary and caused trepidation. And while I was writing this post, i also decided to check whether walking backwards has any benefit at all - and yes! it is indeed and Japanese folklore says that walking 100 steps backwards is equivalent to walking 1000 steps forward. I would like to walk longer backwards - and try moving forward with the challenge of making my steps steady.


Cheers to the new year and wish you many opportunities to step out of your comfort zone!

Image 2: Internet

Friday, 12 October 2018

We are TEN today!

Milestones are always a reason to be happy even if I am the lone one celebrating the same. On this day, in 2008, I had started out the space - A space of my own to store my thoughts, meanderings and reflections. The name did not take long to materialise unlike the thought of keeping this wee space alive and throbbing. Many times, I have been tempted to shut down this blog for I felt that I wasn't giving it much attention. I'm glad that I did not!

As always, I pledge to write regularly, to keep my thoughts safe and freeze them for posterity.

Leaving you with some of my memorable posts:

1. When the house lizard signifies 'home'

2. Forgiving and Forgetting . . . I could add a clause there

3. What stuff is humour made of?

4. Working hard to reverse stereotypes

5. The Journey - A Conversational Post

Here's to many more!

Thanks for sharing the journey of my meanderings and reflections. Hope we continue to travel together in the days and years to come.

Keep visiting!

Monday, 8 October 2018

'96 - Gender fluidity and conversation beyond words

Last evening, the husband and I watched a Tamil film '96 starring Trisha Krishnan and Vijay Sethupathi. My sister had earlier nudged me to watch the film. I quote her, "Don't have high expectations. It's a simple film. Just sit back and enjoy." She was right about the film being simple but she was wrong about the high expectations. Watching films quite often, as audience, I guess we allow ourselves to imagine cliched dialogues and familiar situations; This cliche is what was absent in C. Prem Kumar's '96 - a nostalgic walk sans the melodrama and long tear-jerked dialogues. The film's power lies in the unspoken words and quiet moments interspersed with a powerful soundtrack. It was as if the lyrics of the songs were snatched from the minds of the audience.

'96's strength lies in C. Prem Kumar's treatment of the entire plot coupled with beautiful cinematography. The visuals in the introductory song was subtle, beautiful and set the tone of the film. But what captured my mind was the way the director broke down the roles of men and women. Ram (Vijay Sethupathi) was not the macho alpha-male who tries to prove his brawn and brain all the time - he acts feminine at times and does not fail to feel shy or cry when the situation arises. Similarly, Janu (Trisha Krishnan) is not the coy and gentle character - she takes the lead in the second half of the film and comes across as someone who does not hesitate to ask questions and chide Ram as the situation demands. The presence of her thali or meti does not interfere with the bond that is shared by the erstwhile lovers.

The entire second half of the film's tension lay in the premise of whether the erstwhile lovers will profess their love and probably make love - but Prem Kumar destroys those age old cliches and gently leads us through the night. Sometimes when nothing much is conveyed through words, the facial expressions and body language take over and this is precisely what happens in the film. I must confess that I break into tears quite easily and '96 was one such film where I was reduced to tears, not once or twice but during several instances - the tears were for the powerful lyrics of the first song, the thought that something might have happened but did not, the blink-and-miss situation when K. Ramachandran went to see Janaki Devi in her college and all the What ifs which were generously spread throughout the course of the plot. The word 'perhaps' is the tagline of the film for me - The perhaps and the what ifs caused the free flowing tears and I guess that would have been the cause of the many tears that were shed by the audiences who watched the film.

The tears also flowed for the bygone years which was so familiar to me while I was in my X, XI and XII standards. I fondly remembered the long walks in my school's corridors where boyfriends/girlfriends waited for a glimpse of their beloveds; the quiet, stolen glances in classes, the sharing of tiffins, the school uniform, the absolute lack of communication when someone is absent and no means of finding the reason, the cycle sagas, the hero pen, the splashing of the ink on the last last day of school, the innocence of first love and FLAMES - Prem Kumar brought every element of those days alive for me. It comes as no surprise that my batch was the batch of '97 - not very different from the batch of '96. I could identify every single character from my own school days and perhaps that's why the film moved me and the fact that I am so away from Tamil Nadu and everything familiar pushed those extra tears to fall. 

Sunday, 7 October 2018

The Janus-faced attitude towards the holy cow!

This evening, listening to radio and making a mental list of the groceries to be purchased, I was broken out of my cocoon when our vehicle stopped abruptly on the NH 17 B, a little before the Dabolim junction. There were many vehicles which had stopped and people were running helter-skelter; We also saw many cattle running on the highway. We sensed that something was amiss. While we were guessing an accident, we saw a calf lying down on the highway, a little before our vehicle. It was almost on the verge of dying. My husband had just stepped out of the vehicle to find out what had happened because there was a crowd a few meters ahead of us - another cow, a pregnant one had been hit. There was also a bike which had fallen down and there were no humans who looked injured.

As I was taking in the situation, a man from somewhere rushed with water and poured it on the calf and gently into his mouth. It was a moving sight nevertheless raising questions in our minds - Would someone have cared if a dog or cat was hit. AND the question of straying cattle also accosted our minds - On the one hand, we revere the cow and raise its status to that of a mother and giver so much so that hell breaks loose when beef is consumed in certain parts of the country BUT the 'holy' and revered cows are left on their own to stray, eat plastic and disrupt traffic on the highway. This dualism/Janus-faced behaviour could be seen in many aspects of religion and culture - Revere the goddess and hold festivals in her honour but to think that the goddess could menstruate and bleed is unacceptable.

The issue of the cow and the woman is but an instance in the Janus-faced behavioural pattern of the citizens of this country If the cow could be seen as an extension of us and our family then the question of allowing it to stray and eat plastic does not arise at all. Since the cow is seen as a being worthy of worship and reverence, it is kept away as the 'other.' This process of othering by veneering is not something strange to the Indian society. For hundreds of years, there has been a dichotomy of the self and the other of humans and non-humans. This brings us to the question of nature-culture, which is often seen as a dualism. The primal community by calling the tree as their sister or the dwelling place of their ancestor have included the same in their daily lives in spite of giving due reverence to the tree but in the state society, the cow which is compared to the mother, earning the term, 'gaumata,' is a mother only in name; The mother is left to stray and even die in some cases. If such is the treatment of the 'holy' mother, I cannot but imagine the state of the literal mother!

Similar sentiments expressed in this blog-post is echoed in the documentary, The Plastic Cow (watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SifRIYqHfcY) by Kunal Vohra. The documentary shows the two-faced treatment meted out to the cow and the sad state of plastic accumulating the stomach of the cow.

India is a country of contradictions which are often crude and sad and it might not surprise me if the swear words, "holy cow," was coined in India (it is not, though)!


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