Monday, October 30, 2006

Hallo Halloween

Oct 31st: Halloween! Day of the dead!!!!

I've always wondered why would everyone celebrate Halloween. What's the story behind dressing up in ghostly costumes?

I came up a very interesting piece of info:

The word itself, "Halloween," actually has its origins in the Catholic Church. It comes from a contracted corruption of All Hallows Eve. November 1, "All Hollows Day" (or "All Saints Day"), is a Catholic day of observance in honor of saints. But, in the 5th century BC, in Celtic Ireland, summer officially ended on October 31. The holiday was called Samhain (sow-en), the Celtic New year.

One story says that, on that day, the disembodied spirits of all those who had died throughout the preceding year would come back in search of living bodies to possess for the next year. It was believed to be their only hope for the afterlife. The Celts believed all laws of space and time were suspended during this time, allowing the spirit world to intermingle with the living.

Naturally, the still-living did not want to be possessed. So on the night of October 31, villagers would extinguish the fires in their homes, to make them cold and undesirable. They would then dress up in all manner of ghoulish costumes and noisily paraded around the neighborhood, being as destructive as possible in order to frighten away spirits looking for bodies to possess.

Sounds believable to me!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Why, Why, Why?

I am a brahmin by birth. There are a lot of customs that come as a free gift with it. As a kid, I just did what my parents did. Never questioned if they knew what they were doing. But as I grew up, my mind was boggled with a million questions. Some got answers, some never.
Religion is always a debatable topic. Recently, I had friends come over for a Diwali dinner. I do not remember how the topic shifted, but we were talking about our religion. All of us were Hindus there. A friend narrated about his wedding and how he made the shastrigal(prohit who performs the wedding) explain all the meanings to him. I felt good. How many of us know the meanings(or even the proper sanskrit pronunciations) of what we say in any ceremony? He narrated that all the wedding mantras literally explained how one should lead a married life.
Well! All is fine until then. But, in those days, marriages were different. There were so many people to help in wedding; the women were home makers(strictly confined to the home alone); husbands worked hard to make a living. So, the mantras could be related to their lives.
But now, women work- at offices & at home; they help/support men in all ways possible. They have started to do things that were unimaginable in those days; A lot of us have moved into nuclear families.
In this situation, why do we want the groom to say a wedding mantra that means " I will work hard and take care of my wife" or the bride's parents should bend all they can to get their daughters married?(there may be a fistful exceptions, I agree)
There is a brahmin wedding custom that the bride's parents wash the groom's feet! I wasn't actively participating in the detailed ceremonies until it came to mine. Why would we want to do this?
I do not know if I will question this if I was born as a male. But I am not, so, I ask.
Sometimes, we concentrate so much on the ceremony than the actual tradition itself. For eg., Vinayaka Chathurthi(Lord Ganesha's birthday) is celebrated in a big way in India. It creates a festive atmosphere. All houses buy a clay idol of the Lord, buy lots of flowers, etc. I still remember how much I used to look forward for that day! Mostly because, it was a school holiday and I got lots of kozhukattai to eat! I was a kid then. I wouldn't expect much. But now! I am grown up. What is happening? I still make sweets, go to temple, have people come over for lunch/dinner, chat and get going with our own lives. Its still worse in India. All the tv channels are filled with new movie songs/ unwanted programs. But what is the essence of it? What are we teaching the next generation? Sit back home, don't do your homework, watch TV all day? Does not Lord Ganesha signify more than that? Hinduism is a very rich religion, but how many of us are making use of it? No offense to other religions- I do not know about them. I am not pointing fingers at others. I do the same too. We've had this culture of not questioning our elders & blindly follow orders. As a result, we do not know anything in full. Tomorrow, when our kids ask something, we google it to figure out.
I do not know if it is frustration or helplessness, but it is not something that I can feel proud of.
Where are we going? Why are we doing what we are doing? Is it laziness? Or are we really dumb to expect that the next generation will not question us?

I respect all religions and believe that they help people grow up. But are we making use of the religion in the way we are supposed to? Religion is everywhere: Politics, debates, schools & colleges. It is definitely not a way of life anymore; It is only in the papers & helps you to get a school or a college seat.
How pathetic!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

My first entry

I maintain a travelblog.
But I've had this urge to say my share of something to the world for quite a while. So, here I am, in the blogging world. Maybe a spec of dust in this massive blogging storm, but at least I am here.
Whatever I am today is because of my parents. So, I dedicate my writings to them.

Namaskarams to my
Appa and Amma.