Thursday, October 25, 2007

dus bahaane for dus-sehra








we are a nation of fun-lovers.how else do you explain the long list of festival holidays throughout the year.add to it the saturdays and sundays and the casual leave and sick leave and privilege leave benefits that those who work in public and private sector organisations enjoy,we do come to a ridiculously low figure of working days.i have done a posting on this subject before so i will not repeat it.but then who doesn't want to have fun? particularly when you mix it with religion.dus bahaane(ten excuses) for ten days of revelry.celebrated with tremendous enthusiasm and excitement.all in the name of goddess durga.the fascinating manifestaion of the female principle. shakthi.energy.the victory of good over evil.the defeat of the asura mahishashura in the hands of goddess durga(mahishasuramardini) specially created to kill the demon.not just restricted to one state.it is all over the country.'kolu' in the south,'dandia' mania in the west,'ram leela' in the north and 'durga puja' in the east.that is why we are referred to as'incredible india'.'the united states of india'.

the asura was a combo.she-buffalo and a celestial nymph.by his severe penance he obtained a boon from lord agni that he could be killed only by a woman.actually he asked for immortality to which the lord answered 'no way'. but,gave him unimaginable powers.which sadly he misused.chased away the gods from the three worlds.they went running to the trinity who carved out a female form. a beautiful woman with ten hands and equipped with each god's special weapon-bows and arrows from vaayu,trident from shiva and chakra from lord vishnu.mahishasura was not going to be a cakewalk for the beautiful durga.he went down fighting after trying all the tricks in his trade.durga finally put him down on the mat and chopped off his head.after battling for 10,000 years.

durga also finds a reference in the epic ramayana.rama prays to durga to defeat the all powerful raavana.she agrees under one condition that she should be worshipped with 100 blue lotuses before the battle.rama manages to get 99.one short.running out of time,he plucks out one of his eyes(pundarikaksha-lotus eyed) and makes the 100.durga is impressed with rama's devotion and assures him of victory.the battle started on saptami(seventh) day and ended on navami(ninth) day.raavana was cremated on dashami(tenth) day.

consort of shiva,sati,was the daughter of daksha.once daksha performed a mahasacrifice.sati was invited and was insulted by daksha by not inviting his son-in-law,shiva.sati immolated herself unable to bear the insult.insulted and infuriated shiva came to the venue and chopped of daksha's head.the gods pleaded and shiva relented.he transplanted a goat's head on to daksha and brought him back to life.then daksha started chanting "shan cha me,mayaschame...."('chamakam') in the yajur veda and generally chanted after rudram(shiva). 'mey' is the sound that a goat makes.shiva picked up sati's body and danced.the dance of destruction.vishnu despatched his chakra which cut through the corpse of sati and sati was revived as uma.shiva's new consort.bengalis believe that uma comes home every autumn to visit her parents while durga puja is being celebrated.

revered by all hindus,even guru gobind singh had introduced the worship of durga.
different regions have their own variances in the celebrations.chandi,bhavani,etc are different names under which the durga maata is worshipped.the tenth day is the finale when she is finally immersed.on the same day lord rama(under some cloud now) is supposed to have vanquished lord ravana in battle(venerated by the dmk).the divine in us conquers the evil in us on this day.hence a good and auspicious day.durga,lakshmi and saraswati are worshiped during the nine days(three days each) in many regions.worshipped as kali in bengal,the durga puja is big time there.shasti,saptami,ashtami,nabami and bijoya are days when work comes to an absolute standstill in bengal.on dasami day people wear new clothes,embrace each other,offer sweets and engage in bonhomie.tens of thousands of pandals having durgas are worshipped.referred to as 'thakur',visiting these pandals and partaking off the bhog is a must must.in the north, ravan effigies are burnt.even kumbhakarna's and meghnaad's during ram leela.many this year wondered what sonia gandhi and manmohan singh were doing in the ram leela celebrations after the goverment had questioned the existence of lord rama.

the victory of good over bad.arrogance,bad thoughts,and other negative attribtes to be got rid of.lust,anger,delusion,greed,pride,envy and ego must be banished.

'bolo durga maa ki jai' rents the air on the day of immersion.pujas are dominated by various themes.even howgarts castle of harry porter and global warming were subjects chosen this year in some pandals.of course dandiya ruled the roost in mumbai for the nine nights.it is a wonderful sight to watch the boys and girls with sticks in their hands dancing to the dandiya beats.the 'garba ras' is a treat to watch.this year salman khan took part in a garba dance in thane.in delhi, a whole pandal was reduced to smithereens but durga rose again from the ashes in twelve hours thanks to the devoted bhaktas who put up a new pandal and a new durga was made in a very short time.in adversity all get together.

the villagers of shyampur,a village in orissa,are so attached to maa durga that they prefer to drown a human being in lieu of the goddess.this weird ritual was started by a former zamindar and is called 'kalishi yatra'.the actual idol has been made of ashta dhatu(eight metals) and being so expensive,they decided to immerse a human being instead.narayan,has been immersing himself for the past 22 years.he is anointed as durga and narayan then starts dancing.the villagers then take him in a procession for immersion.he comes out of the pond after some time and becomes a normal man again.

with festivity in the air,do you need any bahana(excuse) for going on a sweets binge.forget the traditional barfis and jalebis.revive those sweets which are lost to the gen next.motorshutir barfi(mashed green peas with elaichi powder and mewa),khajur ka laddoo(seedless black dates roasted in ghee and mixed with ground cardamom,ginger and groundnut and finally a coating of coconut powder on the balls).and last but not the least, the maharashtrian khaparpoli.a rice flour preparation soaked in coconut milk,jaggery and elaichi powder made on a mud tava! don't despair.check it out with your grandmom.surely she will teach you how to prepare these delicious sweets and help you play a role in reviving a lost art.

and finally do you know that on the final day of her earthly stay, in bengal,mother menoka serves her daughter durga with a host of elaborate hilsa(a special type of fish)dishes.taking pity on her daughter who married to the ascetic shiva may not get any of these tasty dishes once she is back in her husband's home!

7 comments:

Dennis said...

very nice article with stories tied together...

David J said...

Wow GS!
Your writing is as colourful as the scenes you are describing!
The magic and wonder is exploding off the page and into my imagination!
You are totally contemporising the culture into such an awesome scene that I could easily plant my self into with no prior knowledge of Hindu practice or Indian traditional culture!

Very cool writing! Poetry really!
Three rather in depth posts in a row you must be exhausted.

gs said...

hello dennis
navarathri is so inpirational that when you start writing about the myriad things that you see,smell and hear,you can go into raptures.indian mythology is entertaining and instructive.i like to read more and more and i find that the inputs that i derive are very useful in daily life.many thanks for your comment.

gs said...

hello david
it is very kind of you to express such sentiments and feelings.encouragement from my blogger friends gives me the inspiration for deciding on subjects on which i should blog.and you are a very clever man.you caught me on the backfoot.three long postings in quick succession.actually,i spend 7 to 10 days in our steel plant in orissa.after working hours,i am alone in my room.i catch up with my reading,blogging and yogasanas and meditation.it is like getting your battery recharged.

Sushma said...

Hello sir,

You forgot about the dolls displayed in South India. You have added a picture though.

I remember during dusshera we used to visit our neighbours' places to see the dolls decorated.

I never heard about Ram taking out one eye for 100 lotuses puja. Thanks for mentined it. I love these stories. I used to read all these when I was a kid!

Happy dussehra and diwali (in advance)

Sushama

gs said...

hello sushma
thanks for pointing out that i missed writing about 'kolu',the south indian festival during navarathri.it is more social than religious.dolls are neatly arranged in steps and women are invited for a get together every evening till the ninth day.a puja is also done and the bhog is generally "sundal".a nice knicknack made out of kabuli channa(chick pea),red chillies,green chillies,grated coconut with salt,ginger,mustard seeds,lime,asfoetida and a pinch of turmeric powder.it is a favourite tamilian snack.on the tenth day the dolls are carefully put to rest in a trunk which is then reopened the following year.

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