A Perspective on Religious Rituals

•June 5, 2010 • 2 Comments

To begin with, the sentiments and opinions written in this post are entirely mine. They have nothing to do with any particular religion or the rituals associated with it. It is just to share my traumatic experience which happened in the name of religion and above all, GOD.

It happened just a month ago – the immersion ceremony of Goddess Muthyalamma. She is one of the many forms of Goddess Durga/ Kali.  We all know idols are taken for immersion in processions.  From my childhood, I had been a great admirer of such processions. The sights and sounds of merriment associated with processions always mesmerized me. Though I had never been a part of such processions, yet I adored them to the core. To ever have a negative outlook of such processions is something that I never imagined.

The immersion procession for Goddess Muthyalamma also started in a similar fashion of enjoyment. At around 9p.m. a procession went past my house. I enjoyed the sounds of the crackers and the dhaks, relished the prasad along with my parents. It was all nice and good. Being the month of May, it was extremely hot and humid. The day being a Saturday, I went to sleep quite late unknown of the fact what lay ahead. It all started at around 2p.m in the night. The electricity went off and I again cursed the Bangalore Electricity Board for being so inhuman. But the fact was that it was the beginning of long night of processions of a dozen of idols through the narrow lanes of Bangalore. Puja organizers from various parts of the city followed the same route for the immersion event. The quite narrow 3rd Cross of Kalappa Layout being one of the chosen paths. Each and every organizer gave their best shot to make the event successful. They finely decorated the idols, hired various kinds of dancers and instrumentalists, decked them with peculiar outfits and also managed to get the noisiest of firecrackers. All the idols stopped in front of every alternate houses and thus advanced at snail’s pace. The local people, aware of such annual events, were busy offering pujas to each and every idol. The sound of the firecrackers and the dhaks kept on increasing. In the midst of it all, I made a failed attempt to sleep.

My parents were staying with me during that time. My father is a cardiac patient and my mother, just a month ago, broke her femur bone and was operated. They were taken aback by this bizarre manifestation of religious orthodoxy and sentiments which give a damn about the problems of people. Suddenly, in the middle of the night they roll out a series of firecrackers covering the entire lane, with numerous houses on both sides, and lit them. My mother woke up from her slumber due to the abrupt noise and was shaken badly. It was like a nightmare come true.  The thunderous sounds and peculiar sights went on for the entire night.

The organizers neither care about the kids, aged people and patients, nor about the laws of the country. Without going into the details of such laws, it is by now a known fact that one is not allowed to burst sound emitting firecrackers from 10p.m. to 6a.m. Then how does so many organizers dare to do something unlawful and are still not being punished? Is it only because of religious beliefs and reverence? I feel no religion in the world believes in making life difficult for the people. Being religious is a personal choice, but showing your reverence by not thinking about others is an idea which is unfathomable. The religious festivals, ceremonies and rituals are meant to bring happiness and cheer in ones life. I was never overly interested in religious rituals and this incident enhanced my dislike for them. There could have been many patients, elderly people and infants who suffered terribly and were traumatized because of the entire night of darkness along with nerve-wracking sounds. According to me one should not become so orthodox that they stop thinking and caring about problems faced by others. It is fine if you cannot help someone, but you do not have the right to make people suffer at your whims. Religion and the things connected with it are supposed to create togetherness, bring joy and not pain. We all should remember we have some responsibilities towards society and we should take utmost care not to forget them under any circumstances.

The Idea of Beauty

•July 16, 2009 • 7 Comments

It is said “beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder”. My question here is what is the BEAUTY that the eyes look for? Is it the beauty of the outer appearance, the beauty of the talent or the sheer beauty of the heart? The age-old notion have been that when a girl looks for a prospective partner, it is his talent that counts and for a guy it is the appearance of the girl that matters. With the change in time the ideas have also seen drastic changes. However, the fact remains the same – one has to have a certain special quality or has to be the proud owner of beautiful looks.

How many times have we actually looked for a person who is devoid of all such characteristics, but the mere presence of whom can warm our heart, bring a smile to our face and can create an aura of optimism? It is true that in today’s world, full of lies and deceits, someone with a heart of gold is hard to find. People strive hard to meet their daily requirements, in this fast and competitive world. In the process, all the innocence and purity of mind and soul take a backseat. Notwithstanding, there are still people who value the concepts of trust, innocence, purity and clear conscience. They might not be great charmers or people of fine intellect, but the ones whom you can trust and have faith. They respect their elders and love the younger ones and can go to any length to keep their near and dear ones happy. I have been lucky to actually come across such people. It was surprised by the fact that they never nurtured negative emotions like jealousy or grudge, which is extremely hard to find. As they were free from such negative thoughts, they never resented any actions or comments. In your moments of agony and anguish, they were the ones to fill the heart with ecstasy and joy. You can say that we have our friends who are always there in times of our need. But the people I am talking about can bring a smile even in the face of the strangers. They do not differentiate between friends and strangers. It is a bliss to merely sit with them, without even uttering a single word.

This kind of people are very rarely found. But do we actually look for such people? We always seek for a person who is presentable, possess certain characteristic talent or is rich, as a potential match. It is like an incentive when along with the aforementioned features, we get someone who is endowed with the beauty of heart and mind. Will it ever happen the other way round is my concern. Will the purity of heart, sympathetic soul and a crystal clear conscience ever find its due praise and reward?

Bengalis in Bollywood

•July 7, 2009 • 2 Comments

Bengalis have always been proud of their tradition, culture and intellect. It is true that there is no dearth of talent in Bengal. But people in Bengal also possess the tendency to over indulge in the feel good factor and in the process become cocooned in their shells. From the time I started understanding concepts like intellect and culture, I found that Bengalis are of the opinion that people in other parts of India are not able to judge them without bias, though every other talent comes out from the soil of Bengal or are Bengalis settled in other states.

Be it in literature, art, music, direction, we can go on citing examples of gems which Bengal has produced. From Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore to  freedom fighter Subhash Chandra Bose to the Oscar winning Satyajit Ray, the list is endless.  Though they were renowned all across the globe, yet for some reason or the other, their talent was never given its due worth in India. Just like any other Bengali, as I started to grow up, the idea that Bengalis are not properly recognized in India started creeping in my mind. With so many years of nurturing, the idea has become an integral part of me now.

However, in recent times, I feel the trend has changed a bit. For instance, if we take the case of Bollywood cinema and music, we can see that from the beginning itself, the Bengalis have carved a niche for themselves. We have had movie directors like Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Basu Chatterjee creating masterpieces like Golmaal, Chupke Chupke, Anand, Abhimaan, Rajnigandha, Khoobsuraat, Ek Ruka Hua Faisla and many more. We still have a bunch of talented directors like Pradeep Sarkar, Anurag Basu and Shoojit Sircar making movies worth watching. The Bollywood music scene has been blessed by names like Salil Chowdhury, Hemant Kumar, Manna Dey, Kumar Sanu, Pankaj Mullick, Bappi Lahiri, Shreya Ghosal notwithstanding geniuses like S.D.Burman, R.D.Burman and Kishore Kumar, who boast of the Bengali lineage. The most prominent addition to this list, according to me is Bonnie Chakraborty.

Bonnie Chakraborty is the singer behind the immensely experimental and successful song, Emosanal Atyachaar from the movie DevD. Though he has his own vision of music and does not belong to the so called Bollywood fraternity, yet, in recent times, it can be stated that he is the only ‘find’ amongst male singers in Bollywood. His exceptional voice quality and versatility can be gauged from both the versions of Emosanal Atyachaar song. The first one is the Brass Band version, fully bindaas and over the top, having extreme mass appeal. It is a song which will be liked by one and all, from the autowallas to the music pundits. However, the rock version of the song is the one which I like more. Everything about the song is awesome, be it the music blend, the tune or the singing. Bollywood music has hardly experienced any proper Rock song. The vacuum has been now filled by this single, mind blowing song. What made me all the more astonished is the way Bonnie Chakraborty has rendered his voice in both the versions. When I heard the Brass Band version and came to know it was sung by him, it was quite hard for me to relate him as the same voice behind ‘Prithibita Naki Chhoto’. One is intentional raw, loud and over the top singing while the other is subtle, lyrical and pure rock. What a prolific singer he is! Though he no longer stays in Bengal and is not part of the Bengali band Krosswindz, yet he made me immensely proud in being a Bengali. It is heartwarming to know that he is working with reputed and talented music directors including A.R.Rahman. Hope and pray to see him at the helm of Bollywood music.

Splitsvilla2 Theme Music

•June 18, 2009 • 3 Comments

I know a lot of peple will be quite surprized to see me writing about something like Splitsvilla2 or anything related to it. It is true that it’s not worth wasting time, writing about something as superficial as a reality television show like Splitsvilla. However, I coouldn’t stop myself from writing about the Theme Music of Splitsvilla2, set to tune by the popular Indian band Agnee.

The very first time I heard the track, I was bowled over by the mesmerizing tune.  Neither it is a song, nor is it absolutely instrumental. The music has a particular tone set in tune. I am sure, whosoever listens to the music will find it extremely haunting. The tune is simple yet touching. The music, in totality, is able to convey a lot of feelings which makes it all the more amazing.  Love, hope, happiness – everything is put across in a very subtle manner. As you listen to the music, you tend to experience certain feelings going through your heart and mind, which are difficult to write in words.

People may be thinking I am crazy as I can write a complete post about the theme music of a tele series, but as I told you, in the very beginning, I am not able to stop myself. I am an ardent music lover. I love good music of all kinds, though I prefer not to listen to the really Hard Rocks. Before this music, I have listened to a couple of songs of Agnee like Sadho Re and Kabira and must say all of them were superb. I loved Sadho Re, especially, as it had all the ingredients of a good song – enchanting tune, superb lyrics and fine voice.  Now, after listening to the Splitsvilla2 theme music, I have become an even more bigger fan of Agnee.  It always feels good when you know that there still exists certain bands which are not trash, who really love music and work hard for offering a good prooduct to the listeners. So, if you want to listen to a music which will definitely touch your heart and take you on a trip, then make sure you listen to the Splitsvilla 2 theme music. For enjoying some more songs of Agnee, you can click here.

Rock Culture and Bengali Rock Bands

•June 4, 2009 • 4 Comments

MUSIC… Music has always been my love and passion. Right from my childhood days, music has always been an integral part of me. Today, here, I take the opportunity to share my passion for Bengali Band Music with all of you. Bengal is a land of rich literary resource, numerous musical legends and a huge and very active middle class society. The land boasts of a plethora of talents in the cultural sphere including Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore. The genre of music which was almost absent from the scenario was Rock music. Bengali music first encountered a wave of modernization in the 1970’s. With Mohiner Ghoraguli and their new and experimental genre of music, the new generation of youngsters were encouraged to express their myriad emotions like nostalgia, aggression, pain and anguish more zealously in a common channel. This new trend in the musical sphere at that time did not find many takers. But the credit for the emergence of 500 plus Bangla Rock bands today will definitely be put to Mohiner Ghoraguli. Their alternative form of music was not able to grab the crowd during the 70’s , but they became the visionary for the upcoming bands and gave birth to rock culture in the land.

Today, most popular bands enjoy an advantageous position where their albums sell like hot cakes the moment they hit stores. Band performances are the ‘in-thing’ and draw huge crowds mostly comprising of young school and college students, notwithstanding the age defying music loving uncles and aunties. Bangla music is for everybody. Though there is a surge of very hard rock bands in the recent times, yet most Bangla bands make sure they retain the distinct Bengali flavor in their music in spite of the heavy guitars and drums. It is this blend of western instruments with indigenous lyrics and tunes that imparts Bangla music it’s distinctive charm. Kolkata proudly offers platforms like Nazrul Manch, Someplace Else to cater to the tastes of the hyper active and enthusiastic audience for English and Bengali rock music and also help the bands to showcase their creativity. Pioneering Bands like Chandrabindoo, Cactus, Bhoomi, Fossils,ParashPathor have carved a niche’ for themselves in the Bangla music scenario with their own distinctive style of music and performances. Bangla band music has become the lifeblood for the average Bengali youngsters. One can relate to the music as most of these popular songs portray the life of an average Bengali and his sentiments, his dreams and ambitions, his heartaches and infatuations, his joy and nostalgia, life and death. Various aspects of the society including it’s flaws are also offered to the people in lyrical form. Large segment of Bengalis are immensely inspired by this form of music and are even ready to quit promising careers to the call of their passion. They want to do something exclusive and more meaningful and be an inspiration for the future generations. For that they are ready to defy every impediment coming their way, be it tradition, critics or even cultural limitations.

Music is a medium that transgresses all limits and goes beyond all boundaries. Bengali music was always rich with Rabindra Sangeet, Nazrul Geeti, songs by Atul Prasad Sen and also Adhunik or modern bengali songs. People dared to think beyond them and experiment with the other genres of music. The bengali bands broke the shackles and gave the audience the taste of rock music. Though most of the bands are influenced by western bands like Pink Floyd, The Doors and musicians like Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Simon and Garfunkel, yet they have succeeded in keeping the distinct bengali touch in their tunes as well as lyrics. Bengali rock bands have come a long way and with a bright future ahead they have the the scope to spread the music far and wide.

Below is a preview of a couple of my favorite songs of Mohiner Ghoraguli




Water – An Enemy

•May 15, 2009 • 1 Comment

Yes, water can act as an enemy. Yesterday, I saw a tele-serial which dealt with the issue. It was a story of a doctor and her fight, set up on the backdrop of a temple. The doctor witnessed a peculiar trend of people being admitted to her hospital with similar symptoms at a particular point of the week. She found out that people visiting the nearby temple, known for its miracles, and consuming the ‘charanamrita‘ were the ones with the symptoms of the fatal disease. With more probing, she came to the conclusion that the charanamrita water, being polluted, was the main culprit. From here started her fight against superstition and stigma. She tried to convince the management of the temple as also the people, but without any success. She proposed to shut down the temple for a few days in order to clean the water. The management took offense to it. The local system was also of no help. She received a little help from the media initially, but found herself alone at the end. Eventually, she had to give up her life to prove herself correct.

The story, for me, is nothing new. Satyajit Ray, in his movie, Ganashatru made in 1989, has already dealt with the crisis. The phenomenon of people consuming polluted water in a temple and still considering it holy shows how glaring the problem is. In India, Ganges, the holy river has a large number of temples at its banks. As we visit these places of worship, we are alarmed to see the amount of waste floating in the water which people use. Religious fanaticism and superstition do not deter people from referring that water as ‘holy’ and which can cause miracles ! It is understandable in a country where a large segment of the people are illiterate.

The actual problem lies with the management, who take advantage of such superstition and fanaticism. India is a land of temples where many of them have been pronounced as tourist spots. We can actually witness a lot of foreigners thronging here and there along the threshold of the temples and the areas surrounding it. Being a tourist spot the temples draw a huge amount of money as donation. Hence, the management does not want to close a temple for even a single day. Here, comes to the forefront the perils of greed even when the place is on the verge of an epidemic. It is the media which can play an active role in unmasking the voracity of the management during such times. On the contrary, what we generally witness is the collusion of the media and the bureaucracy.

Anything, which is the source of an epidemic, be it water or a bird, should be treated with immediate effect. Rather than shying away from the responsibility, it is always better to prevent it and cure it. The management, on humanitarian grounds, should be generous enough to help volunteers and activists solve the problem rather than dismissing them by terming ‘heretic’. There are a lot of people who are aware of troublesome water surrounding temples and generally avoid visiting such places. So, in order to attract more tourists in the future, the management should extend their helping hands rather than criticizing others. The water supply system should also be checked on a regular basis so that problem of this magnitude does not occur. It is the co-operation of the management, waste management by the people and a little bit of help from the government and not the menace of the bureaucracy which can, in reality, make the temples and it’s surrounding areas ‘holy’.

To Be or Not To Be A Mother !

•May 13, 2009 • Leave a Comment

To become a mother is one dream that almost all women nourish and cherish. From the day of conceiving to the day of delivery, it is one experience which gives a woman a sense of fulfillment. There are some minor occurrences and setbacks which are to the contrary of this eternal truth. There have been incidents of abortions or leaving a child at the doorstep of an Ashram just after birth. To me, these are bound to happen in a world where people are segregated on the basis of gender, caste and religion. Sometimes some unavoidable circumstances also lead to termination of pregnancy, but all these are few and far between.

Now I’ll tell you the story of one of my friends. She married her boyfriend after courtship of nearly 8 years.  There were hiccups regarding the marriage, but their love for each other and their will power had the last laugh. It’s been two years now and they have understood the real meaning of ‘married life’. They never faced problems with each other, but things were made difficult by the people surrounding them.  My friend, though somewhat unhappy with her life, found some happiness from the fact that she is going to be a mother. Here, again, she faced the opposition of none other than her in-laws. They are against her pregnancy, for no apparent reasons and even asked her to undergo MTP. This friend of mine, already facing health issues, spent couple of days crying and sobbing, not knowing what to do. Finally, everything was solved when her husband and brother-in-law intervened.

My question here is when everything is fine, why people tend to destroy the happiness. When a husband and wife does not have any doubt of giving birth to the baby, why are the parents-in-laws interfering. The decision of having a baby or not should entirely depend on the would-be-parents. There is no need for others to make things complicated. A married life has its advantageas as well as disadvantages, more so for the girls entering a new family altogether. It is the tinge of extra effort from everyone concerned which can make things a lot easier and better. So, when a girl comes to know of her impending motherhood, it is desirable to provide her with some extra support and care rather than marring her happiness.

We, in India, consider family to be an imporant part of our lives. Family is where the heart is. We respect our elders and give love to youngers. While making important decisions we take the advice of our parents. For me, all these thing are fine as long as we draw as line. There are things which are decided best without the parents meddling. The various experiences of life has taught me that if you are in control of certain situations in life, it is not a bad thing after all 😀 Now I would like to wish my friend all the best for her upcoming motherhood.