Friday, March 24, 2006

Trip to Vembar - An adventure in the Coastal Village

During the second week of March, we make a trip to Virudhunagar - my hometown. From there, we had planned a 2-days trip to the remote southern coastal village, named "Vembar" (Tuticorin District). This is my maternal ancestral place of worship. Every year, about 5000 odd people go there to offer prayers to our family deity (I love those trips... the last trip I remember was over 12 years ago). We were twelve of us this time in a cozy van. Traveling on the bumpy road (about 3 hours) we recollected memories of the earlier get-togethers. We halted at several places for snacks and to manage the downpour of summer rains !!

Back in history, there are some lineages of the Pandiyan Kings associated to Vembar. The people who live here are well versed in the traditional shipbuilding, navigation knowledge, pearl fishery, fishing and salt-making. We had to stay in the special thatched 'tents' constructed for this function. We worshipped the deities, spread across the barren lands. On the second night, we had to stay put in the van, since the tents were soaked due to heavy downpour. It was a real tough night!!

The best part of the trip was the bath in the clean sea (Bay of Bengal). We went to the beach twice and had fun. On the shore, vendors were very busy auctioning their daily catch. We could find all kinds of marine life - ranging from various fishes (Sharks et al), giant prawns, Sea cucumbers, Crabs, Sponges and many more. We saw a giant ray fish (whew) and an Octopus (a small one though)!!

Being a nature-lover, I was amazed by the unpolluted beach. Walking by the seashores, we 'caught' four live starfishes from their natural habitat. Bunches of visitors were awestruck by our 'catch'. Starfish (or Sea stars) are marine invertebrates (they are NOT actually fishes) belonging to phylum Echinodermata (bio. students?), class Asteroidea (!!?!!). They exhibit a radial symmetry, typically with five "arms" which radiate from body. They do not have movable skeletons, but instead possess a vascular system, having numerous "tube feet", which function in locomotion and feeding.

There were lots of fishing boats bobbing on the water. We took an "adventure" ride (none of us knew swimming) inside the sea, with the local fishermen acting as our tourist guides. The sea looked a deep blue, calm and almost scary.

On the way back from Vembar, we worshipped that 42-Feet tall statue of VetKaaliamman - a breath-taking, vibrant, beautiful statue in the open space (and hence the name of the Goddess. ‘Vettai Velli’ in thamizh means open, without shelter). The thundershowers continued to give us company (and the 4 starfishes in a bucket), till we came back to my hometown.

This trip is sure to be etched in all our hearts forever...

- Bharath

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Holi!!!!!!!! The festival of colour!!!

Most of us are aware of the fact that Holi is celebrated to commemorate the mythological event of the burning of Holika (Hiranyakashipu's sister) while trying to kill Prahlad (Hiranyakashipu's son). Holika was immune to fire but Prahlad's earnest devotion to Lord Vishnu saved him from the fire while burning the fire immune Holika, in whose lap Prahlad sat. So huge bonfires are burnt on the eve of the festival, symbolic of cleansing the air of all evil.

But today I was surpirsed to read in an article about holi on the net that, even in South holi is celebrated but is associated to a different mythological event. Here is the event as I read it on the e-article.
In the south, people trace the occasion to Kamadev - the god of love. Once in his foolish pride, Kamadev aimed his arrow at the mighty Hindu god Shiva who was in deep meditation. Lord Shiva opened his third eye and burnt him to ashes.

Grief-stricken Rati, Kamdaev's wife, beseeched Lord Shiva to take pity on her and restore her husband's life.

Shiva relented and granted a boon that Kamadev would live but he would remain 'anang', or without the physical human form. In Tamil Nadu, Holi is known by names like Kamavilas, Kaman Pandigai or Kama Dahanam."
THAT WAS a SURPRISE for me. In such a case, I wonder when and where was this festival forgotten and is now associated only with the Holika mythology and North Indians.

More interesting facts about the festival that I found on the internet:

This festival is also associated with the immortal love of Lord Krishna and Radha, and hence Holi is spread over 16 days in Vrindavan as well as Mathura - the two cities where the playful god is said to have lived.

In West Bengal, the festival is called Dol Purnima and revolves around what is considered an auspicious full moon night.

This is a day when people let go of all inhibitions and smear each other with gulal (coloured powder) and water with playful abandon. Needless to say, it is a NATIONAL HOLIDAY (Surprise!!!!!!!. I am wondering why this is not happening. Right now I am sitting at office and typing this blog).

Holi ofcourse is considered incomplete by many without bhang, a traditional Indian intoxicant made of ground cannabis leaves, milk and dry fruit. This gives a high and adds to the merry and naughty atmosphere.

Being an Indian festival, sweets always are a part of it. A special delicacy made of flour, coconut and jaggery called gujia is prepared in most households and relished by one and all.

As gujia and other sweets do the rounds, singing and dancing to the beats of dholaks follow. Many nowadays prefer to celebrate with hit Bollywood songs.

Once the fun and frolic is over, people retreat for an elaborate bath - in a symbolic cleansing of one's soul and the starting afresh of a new season.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

One of those Tags.......

It has been long since I posted my last blog post. But even this does not have anything important. I was tagged by Hari and I have been postponing this for a long time now. Hence this post. Till this tag I was free of the tagging concept that has been going on around in the blogosphere. So here it is.

Ten Years Ago

I finished my 11th standard.

Five Years Ago

Was in Hyderabad as a project trainee.

Last one year
  • Been with AdventNet for the past 3 years as a technical writer.
  • Married Bharath and moved up the ladder from spinster to a married woman.

Busy day … Nothing major happened …

Five Yummy things
  • Adai …
  • Pizza from Pizza Hut …
  • Bhel puri and Pani Puri
  • Palak (keerai)
  • Chola Battura
Five Songs I know by heart
  • Poomalai vaangi vandhal
  • Neetru illadha maatrum ennadhu
  • Hum Aapke Hain Koun.
  • Dil To Paagal Hai.
  • Chaand Ne Kuch Kaha.
Places I escape to

Home Sweet Home is the place I would love to be.

Five things I'd do if I have money
  • Make life comfortbale for my loved ones.
  • Donate for the welfare and studies of a kid that needs the money most.
  • Buy a flat for ourselves and set the interiors to blend with our taste.
  • Share the joy of having money by planning a tour with my close ones.
  • Invest for future of our family.
TV Shows

Tiny TV on POGO.

5 Things I can't Live without
  • Constant learning at home or at work.
  • Books
  • Basic amenities & Money
  • Family and Friends
  • Tatting
5 Cuisines
  • South Indian
  • Punjabi / North Indian
  • Chinese
I am not much of an experimentor with food and cuisines.

People whom I would like to Tag …

I don't think I would like to tag anyone.

I may be off the blogosphere for some more time, unless Bharath decides to post any article of his choice.