Saturday, 21 September 2019

Read your Baby

In my last article,I discussed about how it is healthy to cry,how we parents should be happy that our children can cry. But the question is : Is there a need to cry at all? If it was such a healthy act as breathing, sleeping or walking, why on earth do we compare babies crying in different parts of the world and still don't know how to make them stop! While writing the last article I came across another piece on parenting where I found parallels between how  many Indian mothers were taunted about their child's temper tantrums/ ill-manners because of their inability to breastfeed. Till then I had not considered Breast feeding as a way to read your baby.

According to a recent research published in the Journal of Pediatrics, babies in the UK, Italy and Canada cry the most, while Danes, Germans and Japanese babies cry the least. Danish parenting expert and co-author of the book: The Danish Way of Parenting, Jessica Joelle Alexander says “The first year of a child’s life is considered so important in Denmark and that’s such a different perspective to other countries."And Alexander thinks there is another crucial reason why Danish babies cry less: breastfeeding. “It’s just the done thing in Denmark,” she says.
In fact the Danes have actually made Breast feeding as a way to read your baby and that's how Denmark has become a country that routinely features among the world’s highest breastfeeding rates. According to a 2016 study in the Lancet, the UK has the lowest rate in the world

“In other countries, there are continual discussions about whether you should or shouldn’t breastfeed. In Denmark, breastfeeding has never gone out of style. And everyone does it for a year.” She adds further in her interview given to The Guardian. For Iben Dissing Sandahl, Alexander’s co-author and mother of two happy teenage daughters, a lot of it comes down to the Danish attitude to life in general. “We are surrounded by social support and are less likely to become angry, sad or frustrated when our babies are crying. And we are good at embracing all kinds of feelings, so we aren’t scared. Instead, we try to connect with the babies when they cry.” 

Similarly in countries like Africa too, babies are said to cry less as compared to the European especially British and American babies. The reasons that are offered for this behaviour of the kids is because women in Africa still practice breast feeding as a way to read your baby since generations. J. Claire K. Niala, a mother, osteopath & writer based in Nairobi, Kenya shared the advice given by her grandmother about rearing up her child. She says and I quote:

Offer the breast every single minute that your baby is upset even if you have just fed her.
Co-sleep. Many times you can feed your baby before they are fully awake, which will allow them to go back to sleep easier and get you more rest. 
Always take a flask of warm water with bed to you at night to keep you hydrated and the milk flowing.
Make the feeding your priority (especially during growth spurts) and get everyone else around you to do as much as they can for you. There is very little that cannot wait.
Read your baby, not the books. Breastfeeding is not linear - it goes up and down (and also in circles). 
You are the expert on your baby's needs.

Many Pediatrics, Doctors, Breastfeeding Counselors and Child Psychologists have criticised this approach saying not all that is primal and tribal is good and natural and need not to be followed blindly. They further argue as to why the number of violent actions was more in African countries if at all their children were more calm and peaceful during their childhood. In fact it was all because the crying had been curtailed and hence it finds a way to come out as violence and perversions. Most of the European countries have supported their Victorian way of Parenting wherein the baby is weaned from the mother's body at the earliest and left to be nursed by the nannies with formula milk. In their opinion this is how the baby will become independent and start thinking on its own.

In my opinion, what the old uneducated African Grandma actually understood very well, we have misunderstood. The whole crux of the link between Breastfeeding and crying is how well you read your own baby. Do you as a parent know how to satiate the physical needs of the baby? If you know this you will look at the crying as a form of communication. The baby just needs to be heard and he sooner you hear and satisfy the physical needs of the baby, the lesser will be the amount of crying that takes place. In fact, there is no hurry to run and stop the crying of the baby. In fact you are so involved with the baby and its body that you know when the baby is hungry and you just put the nipple in its mouth.

So, what the Africans are doing right here, just as the Danish people is that for the first year of a child’s life; the whole family and the community in general, keeps the baby at  the centre of their life. Once the child knows it is being cared for and looked after, it just stops needing any more breast milk and shifts to the solid foods one fine day. Hence, there is nothing wrong in letting the baby take its time because that gives you too some time to read the baby.  And once you read the baby and not just the books you understand the baby better.   

Similar to the Danes, I found the Matrilineal Khasi mothers and fathers of Meghalaya carrying their children on their backs all wrapped up in blankets and shawls. They did practically everything from climbing the mountains to washing clothes to cooking with the kids cozily tucked behind their backs. Many times I could not make out the child until their bundle of joy woke up from sleep to be again moved to the front and breastfed/bottle fed (by Fathers) as the case would be. So what kept these babies from crying was definitely the proximity to their mother's body and the breast feeding. And it would stop once the young one became a toddler and there was another infant in the house. 

Its all about making the child the priority of your life for the first year of its life.

And as the Grandma says "Everything else can wait."

Try Breastfeeding as  a way to Read your baby.

Happy Parenting!

Saturday, 14 September 2019

I can cry

"Maybe Vikram actually did land and Pragyan is still alive and getting ready to send graphical bands, and then success will be in our hands,"

 a handwritten message to ISRO scientists from 10-years old Anjaneya Kaul in his letter titled "Feelings of a Grateful Indian",posted online by his mother Jyoti Kaul  

Fate was not on ISRO chief K.Sivan’s side when early on September 7, Vikram, while on its descent to soft land on the Moon's South Polar Region, apparently lost control and crash-landed there, snapping the communication links. It started to deviate from its trajectory and after coming as close as 2.1 km from Moon’s surface, it lost connection with earth. With a heavy heart then K. Sivan briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi who was sitting in the ISRO premises waiting to watch Indian scientists at ISRO making history. After listening to the ISRO chief talking about Vikram’s failure to connect, PM got up to leave. 

All the scientists and the schoolchildren who had been selected to view the Landing at ISRO were aghast. Everyone had eagerly witnessed each step of Vikram’s journey from late at night on 06th September. Media was also telecasting the whole show continuously. No one had yet accepted the reality that the Chandrayaan 2 was a failure. By then Prime Minister came back and met all the scientists and told them that they had done a great job. What they had achieved was not a small thing. The nation was proud of all of them. “You have my support in whatever you do.” He said and started to leave finally.

While bidding adieu to the ISRO chief in the foyer, he shook hands and that was enough to make the ISRO chief break down. He started to cry like a little baby who had made a big mistake. What the Prime Minister did after that has again added another feather in his cap. His critics and non-believers too got a glimpse of Modi’s innate magnanimous character. Of course nobody expected him to be angry or throwing fits of temper tantrums at the failure of the Mission, but no one also expected him to hug and console another adult like this.

Crying is viewed to be a very raw, intimate act and can be a little uncomfortable to do in front of people.  In India, we also believe that only children cry, Boys don’t cry, grown-ups can’t cry and most importantly, grownups can’t cry in front of others.  When we see adults crying, we associate the situation with doom, gloom or sadness. Crying is associated mostly with unpleasant, unwanted and negative sentiments such as: it displays signs of any “weakness,” “feminine emotions,” and makes other people uncomfortable. Tears are less effective, and possibly damaging, when they occur in large group or professional settings, during interactions with your superiors or in a business meeting.

For normal people, crying is associated with the outburst of emotions that get bottled up in our heart and brain. Sometimes a good cry helps us to vent out the frustration, stress and anxiety related to failure of a much awaited result. So after we cry we clear our mind and body of the negative vibes we decide to move ahead towards success. I am not saying that crying occurs just as a placebo effect. It has been proved through scientific studies that crying actually helps to make us feel better. There are plenty of ways in which crying helps to improve our mind and body.

It is not that leaders have not cried publicly before this. There have been emotional breakdowns that US Presidents have had before this. But in those cases, tears were an outcome of great grief or happiness/satisfaction.  In this case, ISRO chief K.Sivan’s act of crying on the shoulders of PM Modi could be viewed as his emotional vulnerability. A scientist at such a high post has not been seen crying previously; but neither has a chief been entrusted with such an uncertain yet highly sophisticated mission. All of us are aware of how difficult it is to land on Moon and how the countries which have succeeded in doing so in the past have not achieved the milestone in their maiden attempt. Hence being an unprecedented act it needs to be seen as a purely cathartic act. He must be, literally and figuratively releasing bad stuff out of his mind and body.  

It was in fact an act which showed to all of us that K. Sivan was not just a power hungry chief but a real scientist at heart who just cried it out when he had an unsuccessful experiment! And that’s what keeps our hopes alive that as a scientist he will let the bygones be bygones and try again. Crying in front of the whole world is not easy. For someone in his boots he could have collapsed after the great setback but no, he chose to cry it out and move on. That’s such a pure and honest act just like a child. 

So parents, do not stop your children from crying. 

 Be happy about the fact that they can cry.

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Lord Ganesh, Ganesh Festival and the Millennial

Lord Ganesha, the Lord of Beginnings, the Lord of Knowledge removing the obstacles in the path of obtaining Perfection and Satisfaction. After ten days of festivity,excitement and enjoyment, Lord Ganesh will be immersed today. All through these ten days,I kept wondering what would be the relevance of this Elephant-faced, Pot-bellied, reborn God for the Millennial? The Millennial wants to look good, wear the latest, eat less or probably nothing at all, be absorbed in the phone to such an extent that it becomes his/her world,order an Ola or Uber Taxi if required to be in the virtual world. What would Lord Ganesha who lived on the Kailash Mountain with his Father's army of Ganas, Bhutas (ghosts) and all kinds of wild Animals and at times wandered to the Jungles in pursuit of Knowledge hold for the Millennial?

Nearly a century back,when there was no united India, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, popularly known as
Lokmanya Tilak,encouraged the Hindu Brahmins staying in and around the Deccan Plateau to start celebrating ten-days following Ganesh Chaturthi as a public festival. He urged them to gather around an idol of Lord Ganesha in the streets of Mumbai and addressed them about the need to come together and fight for Swarajya (self-government). Ganesha Festival was just a religious tool  then for the Freedom Fighters used to spread the revolutionary thoughts against the British government through religious rituals. That's when different activities related to the religion started to be used. Special attention was paid to the Artis sung after the Puja/invocation ceremonies, Competitions such as Rangoli,decoration of the Pandals and Haldi-Kumkum for ladies became synonymous with Ganesh Festival.Every day was dedicated to listening to famous orators sharing their thoughts through their Bhajan- Kirtans. Similarly,local Singers,Dancers and folk artists were also patronised by the local Royal families and their programmes were made open for all.

After the Independence, Ganesh Festival did not lose its charm,instead it spread its wings with all castes and sub-castes in the newly formed Maharashtra state and many other neighbouring states started to celebrate the festival with full fervour. Now the meaning of Ganesh Festival changed as it did not remain religious or a patriotic tool. Now it became a means of showing one's strength to the community. People started to increase the amount of decorations done in the Pandals or where the Ganesh Idol was kept, more number of activities were planned for cross-sections of society,such as rangoli and cookery competitions for the ladies, drawing-painting and outdoor games for the children and of course the Late Night music/dance shows for all.

With time,Ganesh festivals became more streamlined as the cradles of local Leadership. Children of younger age- groups would collaborate with the elders and start collecting donations called Vargani(in Marathi) quite a few days before the Festival. The donations would basically decided the size of the idol of Lord Ganesh and the quantum of events that could be held during the Fest. While returning late from work or a movie show, one could find young minds and limbs burning the Parking lights and making loud noises till late. But no one worried as these were the otherwise worthless, unemployed youth of the neighbourhood sweating over the arrangements related to the Ganesh Festival.   

For me, the Ganesh Festival was always associated with Liberation:of my body, soul and my community. It means the same that a Navratri festival means to a Gujrati. For those aroused by the opium called Religion,there was a feast everywhere you went. Some one was reciting the Atharvasheersh hundred times in chorus while at some other place there was a competition of Aartis going on. For the ones aroused by the opposite sex, there were these night walks  that all of us used to take on to see the electrifying lighting and decoration done by every Housing Society/ Group inside their Pandals. 

Oh it used to look like human waves walking hand-in hand towards Lord Ganesha. And very few untowardly incidents, except for a few pick pocketers,chain snatchers or Chappal-chors.(Slipper Thieves nearby the entrances of the Temples/Pandals). One would roam around he whole night from one Pandal to another and then finally end up going to a friend's place and waking his/her parents for a piping hot cup of tea and Poha (puffed rice flakes). This I found was a liberating exercise as all of us, the teenagers, the so-called perverts and the elders in the society got ready for facing whatever could happen due to such interactions. Years after years the same traditions continue still.Yes there are some corruptions as loud Bollywood numbers replace Bismillah Khan's Shehnai and Bhimsen Joshi's Bhairavi. But tell me when was art supposed to be understood by all?   

What is actually worth asking is will the Millennial take all this trouble? The recent attempts at making Lord Ganesha's idols eco-friendly, trying to make memes,cartoons and animations about the city's old Ganesh Mandals and the interest shown by people in reviving the old practices such as playing the Dhol, being careful about the cleanliness of public places during Ganesh Festival and trying to include new flavours of Beti Bachao,  Beti Padhao,Avengers and Chandrayaan II in the Pandals shows maybe the Millennial will not find the Ganesh festival a burden yet.

On this Anant Chaturdashi ( Immersion Day) let's hope the Millennial learns to leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of Knowledge that Lord Ganesha gifted us with this year and promise ourselves to greet Lord Ganesha with some more perfection next year.

Ganapati Bappa Moraya!
Agle Baras Tu Jaldi Aa!

Sunday, 8 September 2019

What do you know about Lord Ganesha?

Test Your Memory about Lord Ganesha

These days I have been writing a few blogs about Lord Ganesha and the legends associated with his birth and life. If you have read them you will find this an easy task.

1. I discussed the names of three Hindu scriptures which describe the legends revolving around Lord Ganesha's birth in my previous blogs. Name them.

2. This animal is seen circling the big belly of Lord Ganesha and is definitely known as the Guardian of worldly treasures. Name the animal.

3. Which plant leaves are not offered to Lord Ganesha in the Prathisthapana Puja along with the Prasadam: basil, coriander or neem ?

4. The cute little Mushak carrying Lord Ganesha is seen as a (a) cartoon (b)friend  (c) bandicoot

5. Some say he was the elder brother of Lord Ganesha while some others say he was the younger one. Name him and the animal that carries him.

6. Although Lord Ganesha is known as the Lord of Knowledge, he carries some weapons in his hand. Name them.

7. Everyone knows about Lord Ganesha's love for food. But there was one King who had to witness the sight of him eating the whole amount of food  prepared for his long list of guests. Name the King.

8.  In some parts of the country, Bhadrapad Tritiya,a day prior to Lord Ganesha's arrival is celebrated by keeping a fast by the women for the Goddess Parvati. Name the occasion.

9.  For some of his followers, Lord Ganesha is married to these two daughters of king Prajapati. Name them.

10. Lord Ganesha is worshiped by many all over the world. But there is one temple in Mumbai which denies entry to lovers, living-in couples and couples who are yet to be married from entering its premises. Name the temple. 

If you answered all the questions correctly,you can treat yourself to delicious Modaks from Chtiale Misthan Bhandar or Kaka Halwai

If you missed a few,you can go back to my blogs and read them and then treat yourself with Modaks.

Enjoy the blessings of Lord Ganesha!

Saturday, 7 September 2019

What is Lord Ganesha's Marital Status: Celibate or Married

What makes the Indian Gods interesting is the different types of love equations they share with their beloved.Either we have Gods who are married to one like Shri Ram or some like Shri Krishna who had an army of wives and lovers. But one God who is more appealing than these two is our Elephant headed Lord Ganesha who is considered to be both Celibate and  married. There are no doubts about Rama being married to one lay and Shri Krishna being the Beloved of many. But in case of Lord Ganesha there are two or more legends associated with His marital status which are extremely contradictory to each other and still most appealing to all.

In some parts of the country, devotees believe that Lord Ganesha is a Celibate. Many believe it was not his decision but the women,who found an Elephant faced Boy to be an unnatural choice for Marriage. As a result nobody wanted to marry Him. According to Devdutt Patnaik, one can find a Banana plant often draped in white sari with red border standing next to Him in Lord Ganesha's pandals. This was when Goddess Parvati found out that no woman wanted to marry her Elephant headed so,she married him off to a Banana plant.

 Some others say He does not wish to marry any woman because for Lord Ganesha every other woman looks like his mother, Goddess Parvati. Also, many feel Lord Ganesha is like a hermit or an ascetic who is on an eternal pursuit of Knowledge and therefore He is not interested in any worldly pleasures including Love or Marriage. So in this version we find Lord Ganesha to have Riddhi and Siddhi as his sisters. In some parts of India,such as West Bengal and Assam, even Laxmi and Saraswati are also considered to be Lord Ganesha's sisters. 

On the other hand, in some other parts of the country, Lord Ganesha earned the privilege to marry before his brother Karthikey by displaying his presence of mind and superior intellect. In turn,Lord Brahma agreed to marry his two daughters, Riddhi and Siddhi with Lord Ganesha. Many also believe that Lord Ganesha had two sons: Shubh and Labh or Kshema and Labha out of this wedlock. Many feel that's how He remains the Lord of Knowledge as He possesses all that Knowledge can give a man: peace,success,perfection,happiness and divinity.     

Married or not, Hermit or the Husband and Father of two: Lord Ganesha still remains the Lord of Knowledge,Lord of Beginnings and the Ultimate Catalyst to Success. All this even when He has an elephant's head, a broken tusk,pot-belly and a snake around his waist.

More about the broken tusk tomorrow,

Till then enjoy the mysteries and legends surrounding the Lord Ganesha. 

Happy Reading!

Thursday, 5 September 2019

Cosmic Connections: Gauri and Lord Ganesha

Om Sarva Mangala Maangalye, Shive Sarvaartha Saadhike

Sharanye Tryambake Gaurii, Naarayani Namostute

{Goddess Parvati,you are the auspiciousness of all that is auspicious. You are  the consort of Lord Shiva, who grants every desire of one's heart. I take refuge in thy feet Gauri. I bow to thee, great mother, (Narayaani).}

On Ganesh Chaturthi when Lord Ganesha enters our homes,He brings peace, happiness and prosperity in our lives. And after a few days his two sisters called Jyestha and Kanishtha (Elder and Younger sister) also named Gauri join Him.For many it will be a surprising thing to call Gauri Lord Ganesha's sister. In Hindus,it is a widely known fact that Goddess Parvati is also known as Gauri, then how can the mother suddenly become a sister of her own son? But, Hindu religion is one of the most exciting religions of the world because of such intriguing practices one finds in different parts of the country. 

For some married Indian women,who believe in Gauri being none other than Lord Ganesha's mother Parvati, Gauri Pujan is done one day prior to Ganesha Chaturthi that is on Bhadrapada Shukla Tritiya. This justifies the Ganesh Chaturthi being a celebration of the unique way in which Lord Ganesha was created not borne by Goddess Parvati or Gauri who is also considered to be a form of Adi Shakti. 

But for many in Maharashtra, Gauri Ganapati Pujan takes place one or two days after Ganesh Chaturthi. This Pujan is also associated with the fact that the married women of the house are invited back to the house for this Puja. So their arrival is much awaited as that of the Gauri Ganapati. This used to be a real big day for the mothers whose daughters returned to their arms after spending a long time at their In-laws Houses. So, married women,generally the eldest in the house make  two idols of Gauri with turmeric and dress them up as beautiful married women before doing the Sthapana Puja. They offer them with different kinds of delicious food items,flowers and gifts. Women call their married/unmarried lady friends for Haldi-Kumkum Ceremony to seek blessings of their Gauris and Lord Ganesha,they play some traditional games and present some gifts to all of them.

 Generally Gauri idols are kept for three-four days after their arrival. These idols are also immersed in water similar to the idol of Lord Ganesha. In some households,the faces of the idols are not immersed and they are preserved for many generations.In fact,they are handed over from one generation to another. The logic behind why and how Gauri becomes the mother for a few devotees and the sister for a few others is very similar to the dual nature of Lord Ganesha's so-called relationship status: celibate or married. 

More about that tomorrow, for today let's enjoy the fact that in whatever relation Lord Ganesha brings with Him, the woman in His Life back. So, Lord Ganesha's arrival is also an occasion to acknowledge and celebrate the fact that it is Woman, in any form,be it the Gauri or the Kali, creates the path for material and eclectic wealth. In addition, it at least provides for an opportunity to the women folk of the house to display their culinary skills,their interior decoration skills and above all maintain marital harmony with the One who is nothing other than the Lord Ganesha in their lives.  

Let's enjoy the Cosmic Connections between Gauri and Lord Ganesha.

Happy Gauri Pujan!   

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Lord Ganesha: The Lord of Knowledge

“And what, Socrates, is the food of the soul? Surely, I said, knowledge is the food of the soul.”

Lord Ganesha is often known as the Lord o Knowledge. Any human being who wants to pursue the journey to attain knowledge needs intelligence. And for gaining this intelligence Hindus feel if they invoke Lord Ganesha,he will be the instrument to overcome all probable difficulties that one may encounter in the pursuit of gaining knowledge. In short, Lord  Ganesha is seen to be the key that opens all doors that lead to pursuit of knowledge in this materialistic world. Without the blessings of the Lord of Knowledge,one tends to give in to the temptations and diversions that take us away from the pursuit of knowledge.

If one wants to achieve success,peace and happiness one just needs to worship Lord Ganesha once in a while. But how did this happen that one young boy who was created with the sole purpose of guarding Shakti or Goddess Parvati and who was reborn with an elephant head,suddenly become so intelligent, worldly wise and the ultimate deiti to worship when it came to the pursuit of knowledge? There are many legends claiming to tell the story of how Lord Ganesha became the Lord of Knowledge. I have heard my grandmother telling me  this one related to his urge to get married before his younger brother Karthikey

Both the brothers decided one day to finally resolve the issue related to who marries first. So they approached Narada Muni and asked him to suggest a way to resolve the matter. Narada Muni asked both of them to go around the whole universe seven times. The fastest one to complete the cycle would get to marry first. Karthikey was so hell bent on proving his worth that he immediately flew off on his peacock. Lord Ganesha, being in no hurry thought about it for a second and then he went around his parents seven times quoting the Vedas which say that anyone who revolves around their parents gets the pleasures of gong around the world seven times.

As a result of his presence of mind,problem-solving ability and ultimate intelligence, he pleases his parents, Narada Muni and rightly claims the honour of getting married first. Although Kartikey is not very happy with his loss so he leaves his parents' house in search of knowledge, Lord Ganesha goes on to marry the daughters of Lord Prajapati: Buddhi and Siddhi. Maybe that is another reason why Lord Ganesha is known as the Lord of Knowledge as he is in reality wedded to Buddhi which means Pure Intellect and Siddhi which means success achieved through perfection.

And somewhere deep down his huge belly just proves what Socrates says about the food for the soul being the knowledge. So he embodies the intensity of knowledge which anyone needs to become intelligent, happy and successful in life. One always finds Lord Ganesha associated with all good things, happy things such as wealth, sweet savouries, happiness and basically good times. All this is possible only when one possesses the knowledge to remain so using whatever little or more Lord Ganesha provides us with. So, in a way He tries telling us that the Pursuit of Knowledge is never ending process which keeps one healthy, happy and satisfied. So when Lord Ganesha calls himself as the Lord of Knowledge, He actually tells us that it is only with the correct pursuit of knowledge that we can achieve and enjoy other material pleasures such as wealth, health and Happiness.

Otherwise,everything else is dust.....

Let's enjoy today's Teachers' Day with a bow to the Ultimate Teacher:Lord Ganesha: The Lord of Knowledge.

So much about the Lord of Knowledge.

Tomorrow I talk about his sister Gauri and legends associated with her.

Till then, Happy Reading......

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Lord Ganesha- The God of Beginnings

Payala Naman (The First Worship)

Gananam tva ganapatim havamahe kavinkavinam upamashravastamam,Jyeshtarajam brahmanam brahmanaspata a nah shrinvan nutibhih sida sadanam" 

(the Deity who is hailed as the chief of the celestial hosts (Ganapati) here is called Brahmanaspati. 
the elephant-faced God as Kavinkavinam, 
the Seer of seers, Ganapati being the God of wisdom par excellence, 
and Jyeshtarajam, the Vinayaka commanding precedence over others)

Every Hindu religious function takes place with invoking the blessings of Lord Ganesha. Why so?We have many powerful and impressive Gods such as Ram, Srikrishna or Vishnu, then why is this pot-bellied,elephant faced God preferred as the God of Beginnings in Hindu Mythology?Today,  I will tell you the story behind this. This story is also linked with the legend about the birth of Lord Ganesha.(read my blog on the Birth of Lord Ganesha as depicted in various mythological scriptures on my web site: On a lighter note,the feminists would be happy to hear that the origin of this practice of Lord Ganesha being made the God of Beginnings is a woman; Parvati as  the Shakti/Kali. Red the story and then try to know what happens when you invite the wrath of Shakti, knowingly or unknowingly.

According to the old legend related to the birth of Lord Ganesha, Lord Shiva,  was away at a war. His wife Parvati was fed up of not having anyone to guard her door or act as her body guard as all the Bhootganas from Shiva's army were away at the war. She decided to create her own Bodyguard. Hence she created Lord Ganesha out of the her body sweat and sandalwood paste that she used for her bath and breathed life into the figure. She then set him to stand guard at her door and instructed him not to let anyone enter. In the meantime, Lord Shiva returned from the battle but as Lord Ganesha did not know him,he stopped Shiva from entering Parvati's chamber. Shiva, enraged by Lord Ganesha’s arrogance, drew his trident and cut off Lord Ganesha's head. Parvati emerged to find Lord Ganesha lying on the ground. She started crying. She begged Shiva to bring Lord Ganesha back to life. 

But when she saw the delay in Shiva's actions she flew into a rage. She took on the form of the Shakti/Goddess Kali and threatened destruction of the three worlds of Heaven, Earth and the subterranean earth.  Seeing her in this mood, the other Gods were afraid and requested Shiva to pacify her. Lord Shiva in an attempt to pacify her, sent out his ganas, to find the first living thing, cut off his head and bring it quickly. The first living thing they came across was a royal elephant grazing in the forest. So they chopped his head and presented it to Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva placed it on the trunk of Parvati's son and breathed life into him. Parvati was overjoyed and embraced her son, the elephant-headed boy whom Shiva named Ganesha, the lord of his ganas. 

Parvati was still upset so Lord Shiva announced that hence forth everyone needed to worship Lord Ganesha before any other form of God whenever they were to start any auspicious work,be it a Pooja, War or mere Meditation. Only then would their obstacles pass. Parvati was definitely happy with this boon bestowed on Lord Ganesha by her husband but what pleased Parvati further was that this rule was applicable to Lord Shiva too. More about that legend later.

 That's all for today, I will be back with another legend related to Lord Ganesha tomorrow.

Till then, invoke the blessings of Lord Ganesha; the God of beginnings and prepare for the visit of Gauri.

Monday, 2 September 2019

Mushakraj: The vehicle of Lord Ganesha

All of us enjoy the silly jokes related to the elephant and the ant. But when it comes to our favourite Lord Ganesha,we accept that the Elephant faced Lord uses a Mouse as his vehicle. Ever wondered how improbable this would seem to an outsider who has not heard the story about how a mouse became Lord Ganesha's vehicle.

So here it is: 

Once upon a time there was a Gandharva named Krouncha in Indra's court. He was a very good singer and that made him a little arrogant. One day when a sage faltered in the court, he laughed and made fun of him. This angered the sage and he cursed him with the life of a mouse in his next birth.  As a result he immediately fell from the heaven and fell on earth near the Ashram (hermitage) of Guru Parashar.   As a mouse,he started troubling the pupils and sages in the Ashram. Lord Ganesha was also living in the ashram as Gajanan, a son of Parashar. Parashar asked Gajanan aka Lord Ganesha to help in putting an end to the mice menace. Gajanan set a trap for all the mice in the Ashram and when they were all caught, Krouncha as the leader of the gang,requested Lord Ganesha for mercy. Lord Ganesha accepted and asked what he could do for them so that they would stop bothering the inmates of the Ashram. In turn, Krouncha asked to allow himself to become the vehicle Gajanan used to go anywhere. He wanted Gajanan to ride him. Gajanan loved the idea and immediately reduced his size to suit fit in his new vehicle. 
There's another tale equally famous which also talks about how Mushakraj: the king of mice became the vehicle of Lord Ganesha

Gajmukhasur was a demon who was a devotee of Lord Shiva. He prayed and asked Shiva for a boon that no god or human would be able to harm him. Being benevolent, Shiva granted it to him but warned him against its misuse. But Gajmukhasur did not pay any heed to the warning after he got the boon and he returned with enhanced demonic powers.  He began killing people and destroying their homes. Seeing this, Shiva was upset and he sent Lord Ganesha to control him, who then turned Gajmukhasur into a mouse. 

And that's how the Mushakraj became the vehicle of Lord Ganesha . 

As they say, with great power come greater responsibilities,similarly in this story we come to know how Lord Ganesha tries to make "might" worthless as well as worthy with one stroke. When Krouncha and Gajmukhasur tried to become arrogant in their power or talent,he reduced them to the size of a mouse. And immediately after, he proved their worth to the world by using them to ride all over the world. 

Such is the might and intellect of Lord Ganesha....

Happy Ganesh festival to all....

Saturday, 31 August 2019

Not Giving Up

Going by a past few examples of Indian female players, one Gold Medal in a reputed World Championship would mean taking a backseat till the next Olympics. Somewhere in between the Extreme Fame and Perseverance we find sport stars choosing a relaxed sports life rather than thinking about improving performances. But shuttler PV Sindhu’s recent win in the World Badminton Championship proved that Not Giving Up is the new attitude- the new in thing.

PV Sindhu
Post her Olympic Silver medal win in 2016, P. V. Sindhu became a household name in India. For a change one could afford to get hit by a feather weight shuttle instead of the bold Cork balls in the parking lots as children started to play Badminton instead of Cricket. An Economic Times report published in March 2017 said that she was second only to Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli when it came to earnings from brand endorsements. 
But this year in her very first tournament of the season the Indonesia Masters 2019 Sindhu lost to Carolina Marin in two consecutive games. In her next tournament on the home ground she lost in the final to Saina Nehwal, another three times National Champion. The All England Badminton Championship again turned out to be a big disappointment for Sindhu due to her loss in the very first round to the feisty Korean opponent. The saga of losses continued in the India Open, the Malaysian Open, the Singapore Open, Indonesia Open and then the Japan Open. The critics, social media reporters and users felt that her spark had ended and so was her Badminton career.
Badminton World Championship 2019
Imagine her situation when she entered the World Championship. Although she was fifth seeded, she had not won any final in this season. She had to give her best in each of the matches till she reached the Final where she was to face Nozomi Okuhara of Japan. Although she looked a little unprepared in some of the matches till the semi-finals, she won in straight two sets 21-7, 21-7 against her opponent. In the process she also became the first Indian to win this Championship. She wrote history and with that she also proved that Not Giving Up was the new Attitude.
Imagine how difficult it is to lose and overcome when so many people in addition to your own parents and family members are watching over. In fact the whole country’s expectations are that she must win every single championship. There is no room for excuses or weaknesses. And in such a situation when you are failing again and again, it must be so difficult to keep up the pace.
Back to Childhood Days
P V Sindhu started playing the game when she was hardly eight years old. With an elder sister who was also a Handball player and an Arjuna awardee father who played Volleyball, Sports must have been an integral part of the daily routine. But it’s not an easy decision to pursue sports professionally in India, keeping in mind the importance we give to Academics in India. It must have been a tight rope walk managing her daily practice sessions, back-to-back tournaments, commercial endorsements and if she gets time, some studies.

Not Giving Up

Every day while she saw the kids living around her getting up late in the mornings, going to school/college, then doing homework after coming back from school/college, attending extra classes at coaching centre and then strolling in the parks in the evenings doing nothing; she was running around with her gear the whole day from one practice session to another. It must not have been easy to get used to the Losses in the beginning. She must be upset about her first defeat. It must have been difficult to control emotions or let’s say not to try and show your disappointment, frustration and anger to others. The thought of Not Giving Up would not be so important then because maybe that was just the first defeat.

But what after you lose every tournament you play in this season? It must be very difficult to think about Not Giving Up! There must be a moment when Doubt on own abilities must have peeped in to her and her coach’s mind. Maybe that’s when they must have done some retrospection to understand the meaning of so many failures. Maybe it was to prove the value of coming so far and Not Giving Up yet.

That’s exactly what every parent and kid needs to learn about sports, studies or anything you do in life: Not Giving Up is the right way to achieve success. And while I write this article I come to know that MC Mary Kom has been lauded as the Best Woman Athlete in Asia. Read more about this fighter Mommy in my next article. Till then I hope all of you parents are planning 

Not Giving Up…..