Friday, June 18, 2010

Happy Father's Day

This Sunday the third week of June is being celebrated as Father's Day. Did you know that it was first held on June 19th 1910? This day is celebrated in honoring and celebrating fatherhood and paternal bonds.

Memories flood my mind. Not a single day goes by without me remembering my dad. He was a person who had come up the hard way and therefore always had a positive perspective towards life.

He enjoyed taking us out on weekends. It would just be simple outings like sitting on the steps of Vidhana Soudha and looking at life passing by, or a walk down Commercial street, MG Road or Lalbagh. Eating out was also something that he loved. Places like MTR, Coffee House, Vidyarthi Bhavan, were his favourites depending on the areas that we visited.

His passion was travelling and seeing new places. Luckily, his job took him to different parts of the world and he would describe to us in detail about the places that he had visited. He also used to enjoy nature a lot. He immensely enjoyed watching sunrise and sunsets while going on vacation to picturesque hill stations or in our native place. Infact we were also woken up early just so that he wanted us also to appreciate the beauty of nature.

He was spiritually inclined right from an early age and he used to collect lots of spiritual record albums. Every night after dinner we all used to sit with lights switched off to listen to melodious bhajans sung by Lata Mangeshkar, Suman Kalyanpur, Bhimsen Joshi, Sudhir Phadke. He also loved listening to instrumental music and therefore as children we also learnt about Allah Rakha, Bismillah Khan, Pt. Shivkumar Sharma and many other eminent masters and developed that deep love for music.

He started collecting spiritual books right from his younger days. This collection he would say was to keep him occupied the day he would retire from work. And he did exactly that. After his retirement, he did a two year course in Sanskrit just so that he could understand the meanings of the shlokas from Bhagavadgita and Puranas. But his field being science and specially being into research and development, he started reading lots of science books and spiritual books. His aim was to connect science and spirituality. It was also that time when Aastha, Sanskar and other channels dealing with spiritual aspect of life started. This was a great way for him to expand his spiritual horizon.

He spent a lot of time documenting his observations in a compilation, from the research he had done in quest of finding answers to the simple question "Who Am I?" and was in the process of sending it to different publishers, but I guess God had other plans. Before he could finish his task, he went personally on that long journey seeking answers from the almighty himself.

It's now been one and half years but not a single day goes by without remembering him. A special thanks to God to have given me such a wonderful father who has held me and led me this far in life along with my dear mother.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Noble Soul

At one of the family functions recently I got to meet this man. My cousin who was sitting with me pointed out to a man who had just then walked up and had sat in front of us. He was quite an ordinary looking man who could go unnoticed like many millions of us.

My cousin told me that he was one of her relatives. She told me that this gentleman was working in a bank and that he had now retired. After his retirement he got some lump sum money from the bank as part of his retirement benefits along with his pension. I was just wondering where all this was leading to when she told me that with that money he opened a school in his native place with the intention of giving education to those children who could not afford it. I was stunned!

Just imagine - here was a man who could have led a quiet retired life. It was not as if he was rich by today's standards but he could have been comfortable with his retirement fund. But he decided to take the road less travelled by and put his money into a cause that would potentially bring about a change in the lives of thousands of children. All his life savings invested into creating brighter future for the next generation. What a noble soul indeed!!

Our elected representatives cry hoarse over lack of funds to do any developmental work - perhaps an excuse not to do anything worthwhile - and show little accountability to the society that has elected them. They should look at this example to know that all it needs is a resolve to do that one wants to do.

It takes just that spirit of willingness to part and share what one has. And it just takes one such noble person to bring about a sea change to millions in our country.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Preserving the little threads of culture

We attended the thread ceremony of my cousin's son yesterday. The child was all of seven and was looking very resplendent in his traditional attire. It brought back memories when we had celebrated our sons' thread ceremonies. It was celebrated just as they completed their seven years.

Upanayanam as it's called has a sense of deep beauty and significance attached to it. In Sanskrit "upa"- near and "nayanam"- eye. So bringing the Ultimate Truth in sight is what this term means. The child learns the secrets of life through sacred mantras. According to Indian philosophy a Brahmin has to undergo this Upanayanam ceremony.

This also signifies the formal entrance of the child into student life. (Of course, the child today starts schooling at as early as two and a half years of age!) In olden times, the parents would hand over the child after this ceremony to the care of the Gurus who would then take them under their wings and teach them the greater knowledge of life.

There is this particular aspect in this ceremony where the mother puts the child on her lap and feeds him beaten rice with curd and jaggery. This is a very touching moment as this signifies that this would be the last meal that a mother would feed her little one before he leaves with his Guru. The father then places the child on his lap and whispers the sacred Gayatri Mantra into his son's ears. As a parent these beautiful moments will be cherished and remembered. Every religion has its very own practices which keep us rooted to our culture.

In today's world where technology has entrenched firmly in our day to day lifestyle, I feel as parents it is our duty to preserve and pass on our age old practices and culture no matter what era we live in. These are after all the anchors of our very existence and identity.

Oh B(r)other!!

That evening I was indulging in my favourite hobby of observing people from my balcony. I guess I have mentioned in one of my earlier blogs that observation gives a lot of insights about a person. Anyways, as it was still a little too early I saw only two children - a boy and a girl - playing down in the garden below. The little girl was dressed in a pretty floral dress and must have been about four and she had a pretty paper crown on her head. I could see she was regally walking all around - the little princess.

The little boy who I guess was her brother was also playing with a stick in his hand. No Girlie stuff for this little man who must have been all of six. All of a sudden the strong wind blew away the little princess' crown. Her brother immediately ran after it and got it and walked towards his sister. I was so very admiring this little act of love between the brother and the sister when true to the saying "Oh B(r)other", he just ran away with the crown while the little princess ran after him to rightfully claim her crown. He ran between the gaps in the fence and would wait until his sister also would with great difficulty squeeze herself through the gap and just as she would think he was within her reach he would run at lightening speed. This happened for quite sometime.

Finally the girl started howling and the brother realised what would be in store for him if he did not return back the crown, decided to return it. But the way he gave it back was also so typical of boys. He just threw it on the ground laughing and at the same time stamped on it and ran away. The poor little princess must have by now been so used to her brother's teasing ways took it and straightened it and restored it again to its rightful place. The last I saw her she was again regally walking- with her superb crown resting beautifully on her head.

Isn't this a typical brother and sister thing? haven't we all gone through this at one time or the other? I sighed Oh Boy or should I say Oh B(r)other!!