“Harud” – The second spring of Kashmir!

Kashmir is known as the Paradise of Earth for no other reason than the mesmerising beauty it casts in all four seasons of the year. Spring comes in the floral blossoms of charm, while summers flourish in lush green colour charm, breath taking snow fall in winter prime, the autumn comes in an essence of brazen charm that no one in love with life can ignore. The harud (autumn) is when the hustle and bustle in Kashmir villages begin with the season of harvest. The green turns to gold and then to russet and red; leaves fall to melodious cracking sounds under the feet of passers-by beneath the shades of the Chinar (maple) trees. In autumn the crimson red-carpeted gardens in Kashmir are a feast for the eyes.

Harud (Autumn) is also connected to history of Kashmir. Kashmir during the reign of King Yusuf Shah Chak, lost its freedom to Emperor Akbar after defeating him twice earlier. And this happened during the season of harud in the year 1856. (P.S: Kashmiris never accepted the rule of Mughals and indulged in stone pelting on them.)

‘Harud’ in its literal sense stands for ‘melancholy’. In Kashmir, it’s a time when whole nature is at its glory. The poetic nuances over Kashmir’s Harud are indeed beautiful in poetic sense.

‘Harud’ is the harbinger of the long winter of freeze – Yes the “Freeze” that has set over Kashmir over years!

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Lazeez-e-Kashmir, when Gluttony is no sin!

Kashmir has pristine natural beauty to offer us. Even people here are really loving and warm by heart. They truly believe in Atithi Devo Bhava. They go extra mile to see their guests are happy. I had my booking at a hotel in Lal Chowk and within two days got very friendly with the guy who was entrusted to look after to my needs. And after that he simply refused to allow me to stay in the hotel and took me to his house as an honoured guest. Faisal his name, he stays with his younger brother while his family is in some remote village in Pampore. He guided me to locales where no usual tourists visit, treating me to some great food and visiting different temples & mosques while updating me with the local history behind them.

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This article is all about Kashmir’s enticing offering, its food especially Wazwan! Faisal told me that he cannot let me leave Kashmir without treating me to authentic wazwan. It’s usually cooked during some special occasion like marriages. One served in restaurants are really not authentic ones, Faisal said. And I did get the chance!

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Wazwan is the most mouthwatering Kashmiri full-course meal, which makes you believe that Gluttony is no sin. And yes, it’s more than just food. It’s the pride and culture, a symbol of hospitality and is treated with great respect. Its preparation is considered an art. The course has some 30 odd dishes and of those 15-20 are all lamb & chicken preparations. Continue reading

There’s Something Compelling about ‘Diyas’…

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There are fire crackers going off around me as I write these words even though Diwali is tomorrow. I took out all my diyas, collected last few years and kept safe. I have this habit of buying different kind of diyas, all shapes and sizes, some painted, others decorated with bright colours. And I keep few for next year.

 

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There is really something so compelling about these earthen lamps. Perhaps somehow they connect me to the earth. Lighting an oil lamp made of mud on Diwali, to me personally feels like somehow akin to rooted to mother earth. And not to mention that fragrance of oil, earth, soot and flame, I come across this smell in old temples that still use these oil lamps and haven’t yet resorted to ugly fluorescent lights. Continue reading

The Treat of Eid.

If you are in any Muslim community place during Eid, and if you are a foody, then rest assured to get treated to some really delightful food. All through my life I had Muslim friends and would enjoy treats at their places. But its the street food in all such places which attracts me more. Visit Jama Masjid area during Eid. Or in Hyderabad. All such places to me looks heavenly place for food. I enjoyed Eid in Turkey when posted in Israel. 

And it was same even at Hotan. A Muslim dominated place in South China. And yes, the street food is really yummy!!! 

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Breaking illogical tradition taboos in Vrindavan!

Our traditions are nice to follow, feels great too. But what about the orthodox traditional practices, those that are harsh and follows discrimination? Most of the times you’ll find the “Thekedars” of these traditions saying it’s in shastras knowing well that common man might not have in-depth knowledge about our shastras. Nowhere in our shastras there is any sort of discrimination. And many such discriminations are attached to our Widows.

We had the shameful tradition “Sati Pratha” at one time. Thankfully it has been eradicated now. This too was marked as a “Hindu Ritual” and widows were made to follow. But that is nowhere true as far as our shastras goes. The term Sati is derived from the original name of the goddess Sati, who self-immolated because she was unable to bear her father Daksha’s humiliation of her husband Lord Shiva. Later Sati became a term in our shastras for women in Hindu mythology who were exceptionally devoted to their husbands and righteous. Property tussles was the root reason behind this practice, with male heirs preferring to do away with a widow, leaving the inheritance entirely in their hands. The Brahmin who helps in the burning would get a hefty share so they brought forward all theories on glorifying Sati Pratha.

Sati Pratha was ended but there still remained many discriminatory practices. A widow was expected to stay away from all festivities, renounce all earthly pleasures, wearing only white, shave off hair, and eat veg food. For big majority of widows life was more like “Living sati”. Many of these taboos have been reformed but complete reform is still awaited. Continue reading

Happy Holi 2016 – Lathmar Holi of Braj

All of us in India must have celebrated Holi – the very joyful, energetic  festival of colour. Holi – Popularly known as “Phagwah” in Assam, “Dol jatra” in West Bengal and “Fagu” in Nepal, the festival is celebrated with different names and traditions across India.

But what if I tell you that there is a village in Mathura district, Barsana where people play Holi with wooden sticks? Yes, this village near Vrindavan is the birth place of our dear Radha Rani and lies just beside Nand Gaon, our Kanha’s village. Here, men from Nand Gaon come to play Holi with the girls of Barsana and hope of raising their flag over Shri Radhikaji’s temple. But, instead of colours they are greeted with sticks by the gopis, the women folk of Barsana village. Hence, the Holi get its new name here Lathmar Holi. As the name suggests, “Lath” – Stick, “Mar” – To hit, this is Holi played by hitting sticks.

As per Hindu mythology Lord Krishna visited his beloved Radha’s village on this day and playfully teased her and her friends by applying colours to them. The Gopis took offence and chased Lord Krishna and his friends away by running after them with lathis (Sticks). Men and Women of Braj even today clash in a colorful display of battle. Men of Nand Gaon raid Barsana with the hopes of raising their flag over Shri Radhikaji’s temple. Continue reading

Punno Maati – Not so Uplifting Custom of Durga Puja

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There are many rituals and traditions that we follow blindly without really knowing the true reason behind them. And one I would address today is connected to Durga Puja, especially the making of idol. So many times I have visited the Kumartuli of Kolkata just to watch the Kumors making different idols of Gods and Goddesses. Kumortolas across Bengal is most busy before Durga Puja when they are busy making n-number of idols of Maa, each one as beautiful as the other.

Kumartuli-2But this idol making of Durga has a custom, soil collected from a prostitutes home is used to partially make the idol. This soil is called “Punno Maati” or the pure soil. It’s said that when a man enters the porch of a prostitute, the “Nishiddo Palli” meaning the forbidden territory, he leaves behind outside all his purity and virtues. Hence the soil outside is considered pure. There’s another view that because Maa does not make difference among human beings. So the soil from outside a prostitute’s home is used to show inclusiveness. The destitute sections of society are shunned by all and through this process; it makes them feel a part of society and shows them that they too belong to the world as much as the others. Continue reading

Happy New Year 2016

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संघर्ष हो तो सफलता भी हो

परिश्रम हो तो परिणाम भी हो

शक्ति हो और सेवा भी हो

सपने तो हों पर शांति अवश्य हो

आप मस्त भी रहें और स्वस्थ भी रहें

आसमान भी छूऐं और धरा से भी जुड़े रहें

आने वाले साल आपके जीवन मे,

उत्साह की लहर रहे, उत्सव का माहौल रहे

प्रेम भी हो और आनंद भी हो

 

सूर्य की एक और परिक्रमा पूरी हुई और नये सपने एवम् नई चुनौतियां ले एक बार फिर आया नया साल । आने वाला यह नववर्ष आपके लिए मंगलमय हो ।

 

Sangharsh ho to safalta bhi ho

Parishram ho to parinaam bhi ho

Shakti ho aur seva bhi ho

Sapne to ho par shanti avashya ho

Aap mast bhi rahey aur swasth bhi

Aasmaan bhi chhuye aur dhara se bhi jude rahey

Aane waala saal aapke Jeevan mein

Utsav ki laher rahey, utsav ka mahaul rahey

Prem bhi ho aanand bhi ho.

 

Sun completes one more revolution and with new dreams and new challenges, brings in the new year. May this coming new year be happy one for you all.

Counting my blessings, wishing you More. Hope you enjoy the New Year in store. Have a joyous New Year!

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Happy Mother’s Day to all Mothers!!

This poem is though written for my Maasa but I am sure its a feeling every child would feel for his/er mother.

Your pretty smile, your kind eyes, your heart of gold and your healing touch; All you Mothers, you are no less than an angel to this world.

Happy Mothers day.

 

Maasaमाँ! 
याद तो आता नहीं तुम्हारा
गोदी में वो मुझे झुलाना
झुनझुने से मेरा दिल बहलाना
लोरी का वो गुनगुनाना
माथे को प्यार से चूमना
गुदगुदी से हँस हँस हँसाना
उँगली पकड़ चलना सिखाना
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Wish you all the best!

Sri-RK-andKali-largeAfter spending years in Bengal, meaning of Diwali was no more just lamps and lights. Another aspect, “Kali Puja” got added to it. And with time I found Kali puja more alluring than usual Diwali celebrations. Today after months when I am back to India, I find all wishes to celebrate Diwali is erased, instead I am celebrating Kali Puja.

The universal consciousness, Aadi Shakti, is beyond words and all descriptions. She is infinite, and in that infinity lays her glory. I wish to know her, to be near her. Not sure if that wish would ever get fulfilled. What I feel for her, or feel I know about her is more of a dedication to this Supreme Shakti. Continue reading

Happy Janmashtami to all.

GopalaLord Krishna is the poorna avatar of Para Brahman. He is an inspirer, motivator, philosopher, friend; he is the creator, the peacemaker, the light that guides us in darkness.

In His Eternal Message (Bhagavad Gita), there are many rich interpretations to his message which makes Him alive in our mind. There are many proofs of Mahabharat and with the discovery of city of Dwaraka which was submerged at the time of Krishna’s leaving the physical existence, make His life more real and true. But for a seeker of Truth, his message is enough to tell that only a poorna avatar can give such a powerful message to mankind, such benevolent and never cursing anyone. Continue reading

Happy New Year 2013, let’s be the instrument of Change!!

This beautiful world that God made for us was not meant for brutality, bloodshed and cruelty. We, supposedly, the most evolved and superior creations of God have brought His beautiful world to this!

First Delhi, next Barasat, and god know how many more such incidents which never get media mileage, its shattering!! Dreams have been shattered. Months after months there are the same old news of scams, murders, rapes, fraud and riots. Where is the “Indian” culture that we were told is unique in the world? Where women are worshiped and protected. Continue reading

Happy Birthday Didi.

Sometime back we had our dear Amby on hot seat here. Today I have another special person – Didi (Minnie Gupta) on the hot seat on her very special day, her Birthday. She runs a blog of her own – The Lady 8 Home and today she’ll tell us about her secrets behind her success. (Hopefully) (P:S: The interview is just a fiction not real)

Me: So we start with the interview Mam.

D: Well, a BIG No. Mam sounds so alien; moreover I am not your school teacher.

Me: Then maybe I can call you Minnie ji? Continue reading

Gift of Gratitude.

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With all the happenings of last few days, I have somehow lost track of days’. Morning I got up and started preparing for office when one of my colleague pointed out its Friday weekend and also Thanks Giving day, the official Turkey Day. Yes he cooks some really delicious meals for us, anyways, any meal is delicious for me as long as I don’t have to cook. 😉 But its not Turkey, the first thought coming to my mind was, Thanks a lot God for keeping us all Safe! Thanks a lot for gifting me some really awesome genuine friends who never fail to pray for our well being. Continue reading