Thursday, October 23, 2014

Godly Warning And Reality

We have many ‘gods’ in India. Apart from the shrines, there are lots of living beings too.  In case of the second category, they are stamped so because they have either some super-natural powers (black magic mostly) or talents. Kerala has no difference. For us, the godly singer is Yesudas. It must be admitted that he is truly blessed singer. No Malayali will spare a day without listening to his songs. Even the major pilgrim centers play songs sung by him at desk and dawn.

His performance as a singer is hard to criticize. However, his words on October 2nd disconcerted at least a few percentages of his fans.  On this Gandhi Jayanthi day, he requested ladies to stop wearing jeans. That particular costume would tempt men, he added.

I know he is a great man and should be respected like any other old man. More than that, he is an artist whom the whole country would admire. Keeping in mind all that reverence, I pity him for his words that no much religious leaders may speak out in this 21st century. In social media, there was a photo of his daughter-in-laws wearing skin-fit jeans and short-tops. In Malayalam there is a saying that would mean ‘first clean your house then only your locality’. It is their family matter. As told by one of my colleagues, it is bad to drag their family into this. Let them do no matter what.

Just after Yesudas’ statement, many of my co-workers asked why I am wearing jeans or why I can’t follow his words. Though they told it lightly, it made me think. I posted it in many social media groups to get feedback. Comments were shocking. Some supported Yesudas while a few criticized. Here are the supporters’ points:
  • Decency can be calculated from dressing. Modest dresses (includes sarees and pardah) itself speak about the person’s character.
  • Females wearing modern are the main victims of rapes

Now, this is what I felt:
  1. Saree is one of the sexiest dresses.
  2. I had seen men staring at women who wear purdah. I felt it is real ‘ugly look’.
  3. Infants, kids and teens are raped. How about their dressing!

“Today even a one year baby girl has to be fully covered ”-says a man. So what about 2nd point I’ve mentioned.
Let me end the post with a story that a senior girl had confessed to me once she left our college. She had a good friendship with a boy in my class. Once she found a pen-drive owned by him. That USB contained the cropped and zoomed images of girls in my class. All these girls wore churidars with dupattas. Some were in sarees. He and his gang used to comment about our body shape, undoubtedly in a vulgar way. Since she was close to me, she made it sure that it didn’t contain any of my pictures. Both the girl and boy parted. She had recorded his voice admitting fault. Still, he has a very decent image among my college mates that no one will ever believe girl’s words.

World is not a best place to live. You won’t get any appreciation from anyone. You can be trapped at any point not just because of your dressings.  Be careful my dear lady fellows! 

Monday, September 22, 2014

No Foolaking

During my childhood days, social studies text described family as follows:
  1. Father, the guardian who takes care of your house and earns money for family
  2. Mother, the person who cooks and does household works (mainly cooking)
  3. Son helps father to do shopping and other works
  4. Daughter assists mom in cooking and gardening
But after a decade, life has changed. I don’t think the social studies would recite the same thing for new generation kids. They find both their parents working together at kitchen and going out to office. Today mother and father earn for the family. Even if there are a few families that hold patriarchal system of women at kitchen and men at verandah, many have changed. The social concept of equality is emerging though at a snail’s pace.
There is still a belief that women can be fooled easily. Common sense and tactics to deal with things doesn’t belong to men only. The image of woman depicted in televisions is still that of a ‘good for nothing’ creature

A recent ad by a famous desi mobile network provider shook me badly. In that advertisement, a guy proposes a girl from a cafeteria. She says, “I’m ok. But you must change your status in Facebook as IN A RELATIONSHIP”. And the guy is confused. Now the girl says you can’t fool females anymore as we have that particular network provider to help us with IDEAs.
That commercial became a hit in channels. But if you analyze that ad, you’d find a few points that are extremely annoying:
  • Girls can be easily fooled
  • Females can survive only with assistance
  • Changing Facebook status is the most important thing in life
  • A relationship status is a public thing and not confined between two people
Ads can be creative and funny. But it must have logic. The meanings in between words and scenes convey a lot. Commercials like this would result in decrease of woman’s confidence. We need self-assured woman folks for national empowerment. Let us realize the real sense behind these ads and not think that we need support to react. You are strong enough to judge what is right and wrong. Be yourself!

Monday, July 21, 2014

... and they call it Devotion (Part 2)

  To read part one, click here

Alarms set on mobiles rang at 6. After brushing, we rushed to the old man whom we had made an appointment on previous day. He asked an assistant to guide us to do the rituals in sea. He led us to the seashore. Rameshwaram is famous for sea with no waves. Water is absolutely still.
This seaside is addressed as agnitheertham. Priest made me and my husband to tie our clothes together and we took a dip in the sea. I found it hard to walk through the water since there was too many dresses dumped in sea. It is also a practice.
After bath, we sat around our guide. He helped us to do offerings to our ancestors who had normal or abnormal deaths. Again we went to sea with three balls of rice and a few ingredients and left it in the sea. It is believed that ancestors would come and have their share of rice balls. The guide said he needs Rs 150 per head.
In view of the fact that he is poojari, my family didn’t bargain though I had no support with their view. He didn’t charge me and my hubby as ours was a package. Once the rituals near sea were over, we waited in the queue for taking bath in theerthas inside the temple. There were 22 holy tanks in temple.
We had to take a ticket of Rs.25 per head for the holy bath. They’d tie a paper band on our hand. Masses of people, all soaked and dirty, waited near each well. There were at least two officials near each tank to (actually I must say) give a blow on our face with water.
 Notice boards warned devotees not to give any additional charges to officials near wells. But those words were not taken seriously. We’d see guides taking dozens of people near officials and they had special treatment (which is a whole bucket of water poured smoothly on their head). These guides were paid extra money and in turn they’d give a percent to temple-folks too.
A person standing next to a well demanded Rs 10 to collect a few drops in a bottle and Rs 70 to get individual baths. My uncle, who accompanied us, had an intention to collect theertham (holy water) in bottles and present it to my grandmother. However, the ‘cost’ of theertham made him to pull back his wish. Queue was tiresome. Long hours of waiting before each theertham made us tedious.
Lord Rama was famous for patience. I prayed him to offer me fortitude to stay calm. As soon as the holy baths were over, we got out of the temple and had a quick pray or I must name it an apology to Lord for not visiting his shrine. The inner courtyard of the temple (where the shrine was located) was completely crowded. Again, there are tickets to get inside without waiting. The more you pay, the nearer you’d reach and pray. I opposed that idea of ‘pay and pray’.  My family agreed though they wanted us to reach back to the priest quickly.
We changed our wet clothes and were ready before the head priest. His house sucks! I had sometimes felt that Bhakthi and cleanliness are too extremes. Even if the head priest had all typical decorations of a perfect poojari including rudraksha ornaments and designs on body with sandal pastes, his assistant’s costume was worse than the beggar I’d see in front of my office. I am sure he had not taken bath for past two days. His shirt, without two or three buttons, was torn.
Pooja started. Its name was Uma-Maheshwara Pooja. Before entering the pooja room, priest warned us, “Brahmins there will ask you for dhakshina (tip). You can give it later if you wish, but not now.”  Four North-Indian Brahmins were sitting next to the corners of homa-khundam (platform where fire is lighted to do pooja). During pooja, they are passing comments, actions, checking messages over phone and so on.
After Shiva pooja, it is Parvathi pooja. A lady sat in front of us. We had to chant hymns considering her as Goddess Parvathi. We had to walk around her, pay her dhakshina and in the end she would give as a few flowers as blessing.
Then the priest declared pooja is over. He gave the list of dhakshina (I like to call it tip) for each human being who participated in it. Also, we were asked to pay a small amount for a Brahmin’s meal. All these are supposed to be holy deeds.
We dumped our old clothes in the sea. That second itself, there were people to carry it away. These clothes will be dried to sell in open markets. My family was happy because everything ended well. We had a heavy lunch seeing that we ate nothing since morning. The moment our car started, I slept.
Indeed, it was a great journey. Sincerely speaking, I did not feel any bhakthi neither inside that temple nor during rituals. I did for the contentment of my family.
The only moment I could sense a heavenly bliss was on Pamban Bridge. Powerful wind and panoramic view, the point where oceans met! I stood on top of it, in between two water sources that weaved many civilizations… Godly!