Posts

Theyyam: When Gods Descend on earth

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India has many rich religious traditions during which the Gods are supposed to come down to the earth and express themselves through some persons. Examples of similar traditions can be found in different parts of India. This post focuses on one such tradition called Theyyam , which is celebrated in northern Kerala in south India. Gods Speaking Through Humans Hindus believe that the Divine is present in each living being as universal consciousness. At the same time, they have a pantheon of a huge number of Gods and Goddesses, one for each of life’s different forms. The Gods, animals and plants are all inter-linked through the sacred stories and myths. The religious ceremonies in which Gods speak through humans has 2 main functions – (i) as a part of celebration of specific religious and social events; and, (ii) to answer questions and to give blessings to people. All over India, especially in small towns and villages, there are persons who are known in the communities as “carriers of Go

Celebrating Dalit Struggles & Pride

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Ever since the advent of metro network in Delhi and surrounding regions, I have started to explore unfamiliar parts of the city and NCR. Every time I visit Delhi, I try to visit some new places. In 2019, I decided to visit the Dalit Prerna Sthal Park and Okhala Bird Sanctuary , near the eponymous metro station on the Magenta line of Delhi metro. This post is about my adventures while trying to visit these two tourist venues located in NOIDA (UP) close to the Delhi border. I take this opportunity to also reflect on caste discriminations in India. While independent India opted for laws against caste-based discriminations and affirmative action for persons from lower and backward castes, I thought that continuing deaths of persons asked to clean the sewers was a big blot on nation's dignity. It is only in 2023 that Government of India has decided to allocate specific funds to stop manual cleaning of sewers - I hope that efficient action will be taken on this point and make sure that

What Makes An Evening Unforgettable?

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What makes some memories so special, that we can't forget them, even after decades? I was thinking about my memories of my most unforgettable evenings and wondering about what had made them so special. I think that many factors contribute to making some memories special for us -  (1) Beauty or aesthetic pleasure is an part of it. (2) The persons who are with me contribute to making it special. (3) A dash of music or art can also contribute to it. (4) Possibility of remembering it through photographs or a diary or talking about it with friends What makes some moments of your life unforgettable for you? In this post, I want to talk about 5 of my most unforgettable evenings and what made them special. An Evening at the Taj Mahal, India Talking about a beautiful evening at the Taj Mahal is a cliché, but since it was one the most incredible evenings that I had ever had, I decided to start with it. I had been to Taj in Agra a few times, the first time in 1967 on a school trip. This parti

Reforming Hindu Traditions

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In 2018, I had spent a few days in Rishikesh where a chance meeting with a young Swami ji (ascetic) had led to some interesting discussions about how to bring reforms in Hinduism .  In terms of discussions around Hinduism, it is strange how a new aggressive narrative of Hinduism is being pushed in some traditional and social media (especially in English). Hinduism (along with Buddhism and Jainism) is predominently seen as a religion of peace which accepts people of different religions and creeds, as shown by the millennium-long Indian traditions of accepting people persecuted in their own lands including Parsi, Jews, Armenians, etc. International image of Hinduism is also associated with spirituality and Mahatma Gandhi including elements such as Yoga, meditation, non-violence and vegetarianism. However today, there are many persons in India and outside, who talk of Hinduism exclusively in terms of hate, violence and discrimination. This post is about a discussion with a Swami ji from R

Wonderful Magic Realism of Jacquet

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I have always loved art ever since I can remember. As a child, I loved painting with water colours. In early 1990s, while living in Imola (Italy), I had done a short introductory course on oil paintings. At the same time, I love looking at art and knowing the artists. This post is about a French artist called Philippe Charles Jacquet , whom I discovered some time ago and whose art-style I like very much. Apart from talking about Philippe Charles Jacquet and why I like his art, this post briefly touches on some other artists whose work I like.  Philippe Charles Jacquet Here is some information about Jacquet which I have gathered from internet: Jacquet, born in Paris in 1953, studied architecture at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs. After working as an architect for about 20 years, in 2000 he decided to focus exclusively on painting. His background in architecture is reflected in his artwork in the symmetrical and geometric landscapes as well as in the way he sculpts ro

Museo - The Camera Museum of Gurgaon

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Museo, the camera museum of Gurgaon in NCR (India) is a vibrant cultural space in a rapidly growing urban area, which needs many more such spaces. An initiative of the well known photographer  Aditya Arya , who is passionate about   photography conservation, restoration and archiving, it formally belongs to the India Photo Archive Foundation . (Image: Aditya Arya in the lobby of Museo) During my last visit to India in late 2022, most of the time I was unwell and bed-ridden. The highlight of this stay was a visit to Museo during which I had a brief encounter with Aditya. This visit to Museo was also an opportunity to visit and on-going art exhibition organised by Oxygen Art Guild and curated by Tarun Das . I was lucky to meet and speak to Tarun as well. Thus, this post is about both Museo Camera Museum and the Oxygen Art Guild exhibition. I am not going to repeat the information about the backgrounds of Museo museum, Aditya Arya and Oxygen Art Guild , you can check those on their

My favourite books from 2022

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Over the past decade or so, my reading choice had been restricted to fast-paced books, such as mysteries, thrillers, action and adventure books. Often I started introspective fiction books but most of the time, I was unable to finish them. Finally, this year, especially in the last quarter, something seems to have changed, I can again appreciate different kinds of books (except for the fantasy and horror genres, which I continue to avoid). All together, there are 8 fiction books in my 2022 list - the first 5 of them belong to the action-mystery genre. My favourite book this year was the meditative and lyrical " Touch " by the Icelandic writer Olaf Olafsson . The last part of this post is about my own book, which I have finally finished writing this year, after trying for almost 20 years. First, before I start, wishing you all a happy Christmas with the Santa Claus and his two elfs from the central station in Milan. Absence of Mercy by S. M. Goodwin This is a historical murder