Friday, February 26, 2010

Importance of Bottu / Thilakam / Bindi / Sindhoor / Tikli.


All the above terms Bottu / Thilakam / Bindi / Sindhoor / Sindoor / Tikli refer to the attractive mark applied on the forehead of Hindus. It is applied on a child, almost right from its birth. It is applied on guests to welcome them, it is applied to invite people to auspicious occasions and it is applied to bid farewell to guests and relatives. It is worn by every girl and woman. It is applied while performing Pooja at temples or at home. It is considered as a good omen; a mark of Mangalam - meaning happiness, prosperity, good health and good fortune. All this is followed very strictly as an auspicious tradition. Everyone follows this tradition but not everyone knows the entire significance of this practice. Hence I decided to write this article.
 Bottu means a drop, similarly Bindi a derivative of the Sanskrit word Bindu also means a drop. Nudhuta Bottu or Bindi means a drop like mark applied to the forehead in a round or almond shape or just as a long line. It is a Kumkuma or Vermillion mark in red or maroon color made from a combination of plant dyes or turmeric powder, alum and lime juice. Or it is the white Vibuthi Bottu that is wood-ash from the holy havanam or fine calcium compound. It is Chandanam / Gandham Bottu if it is made from sandalwood paste. It is Thilakam Bottu if it is a paste of red color or black color made synthetically or by charring some food grains. And it is Tikli or Bindi if it is the attractive stickers available commercially in various colors and thousands of patterns. This age old tradition is followed religiously all over India. And when it comes to girls and women it is a part of their body, they enjoy putting it on all the time. It is also rightly seen as a beauty aid and an ornament.  Whatever may be the dress worn, traditional, casual, ethnic or western; Bottu goes well with every fashion.
Bottu is applied at the ‘Agna Chakra’ (Command Chakra) also referred as the location of the third eye that is the region between the eyebrows. Chakras are energy centers that occur along the midline of our bodies. They are visualized as spinning wheels of light and color. Agna Chakra is one of the seven Primary Chakras which correspond to different areas of the body and aspects of the psyche. Agna Chakra is the sixth Primary Chakra and the one representing the Mind. This is the area which controls various levels of concentration and where all the experience is gathered. To retain this knowledge and energy within the body and to prevent the ill effects of external energies entering the body through this gateway a Bottu is applied here. Various religious marks like Shiva namam, Niluvu namam are also applied seeking the blessings of Gods. Bottu or Vibuthi obtained as prasadam from Temples or Pooja places is considered very auspicious; it is preserved and used every day. 
And from a scientific angle a number of views are expressed on the benefits of Bottu. Kumkuma or Gandham or Vibuthi Bottu is said to stimulate the Pituitary gland that lies behind the forehead. The Pituitary gland is the master gland known as the king of the Endocrine system. It secretes hormones that stimulate other Endocrine glands and Bottu stimulates the Pituitary gland. Bottu is also said to bring about a cool, calming effect and a good memory.

Symbol of Agna Chakra

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Holi Festival Photographs – Part II

This is in continuation to my previous article on HOLI festival (21st February). I wrote that the festival is on 1st March, that is next Monday and I wrote about how joyously it is celebrated. In this article I shall tell you about the origins of this celebration. There are a number of ancient legends for the celebration of Holi. I shall narrate the three most popular versions.
Manmada or Kamadeva is the Hindu God of Love. Kamadeva shot his arrow of love at Lord Shiva and disrupted his penance in order to help Goddess Parvati Devi marry Shiva. This disruption angered Shiva and he opened his third eye. The anger and the gaze of the eye were so powerful that Kamadeva’s body was reduced to ashes. Later for the sake of Rati Devi, wife of Kamadeva, Lord Shiva restored him but only as a mental image, representing the true emotional and spiritual state of love rather than the physical. The bonfire I mentioned in my previous article as Kamunni Kalchadam on the day prior to Holi is to commemorate this event (burning of Kamadeva). And the next day after the anger has subsided and everything is normal it is celebration time with colors and sweets.
Another version is as follows: Hiranyakashipu is the king of demons and an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. His young son Prahlada is a devotee of Lord Vishnu and Hiranyakashipu hates Lord Vishnu. The King tries his best to transform his son but is not successful.  He then decides to kill him. He gets Prahlada trampled by elephants but the boy remains unharmed. He tries various other methods like throwing him down a hill, leaving him amidst poisonous snakes but the boy survives every time. Holika is the sister of Hiranyakashipu and she has a special shawl with her which would protect her from fire. So he asks his sister to sit on a pyre and hold Prahlada so that he would not escape and get burnt, while his sister would be unaffected. But as soon as the fire is lit the shawl flies off Holika and she is burnt to death and ever-praying Vishnu devotee Prahlada survives. The burning away of evil Holika and subsequently the death of Hiranayakashipu by Lord Narasimhaswamy is celebrated as Holi.
The last version I wish to narrate involves Lord Krishna. As we all know, Lord Krishna was not only performing Godly acts in childhood but was also a naughty boy. He loved butter so much that he was stealing it all the time even from the houses of neighbors. He was constantly playing pranks on his beloved Radha and innumerable Gopikas (cowherd girls), for instance he was teasing them by hiding their clothes. As a young boy he asked his mother Yashoda the reason behind his dark complexion and the fair complexion of Radha. Yashoda playfully suggested that he should smear color on Radha’s face to change her complexion to suit his fancy instead of complaining. Thus Lord Krishna began to enjoy smearing colors not just on Radha but several Gopikas and in the process introduced the play of colors on the day of HOLI festival.
I have posted few more interesting Holi photographs a few of them of our family for record on the NET and for the viewing pleasure of the followers of my blog and several other casual visitors.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Holi Festival Photographs – Part I

HOLI - the festival of colors is next Monday, on 1st March. The festival starts on the night of Full Moon Day, Pournima of Phalguna Masam with a bon fire called Khamunni kalchadam. And it is on the next day that is on Padyami day that HOLI is celebrated. Starting from early morning till late in the afternoon family and community members enjoy playing with colored water and color powder. Water in buckets, bottles and pitchkaris (water pistols/pumps) are mixed with red or green or yellow or any other color and sprinkled on one another. Color powders, mostly Gulal are also sprinkled or applied on face during the joyous Holi festival. Holi festival, as I mentioned earlier is not just within the members of a family but one celebrated with friends, neighbors and the community members around. It is regarded as a celebration of unity and brotherhood bonded by different bright colors. It is celebrated in high spirit without any distinction of religion, caste, creed or status.
Several shops selling Holi-colors, water pistols and other toys and equipment to sprinkle colors have already come up all over the Twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad. I must shop for the colors at the earliest to avoid the last hour rush.
I shall write more about the festival in my next post. In the meantime you may see and enjoy our old Holi - photographs some of which are over a quarter century old!   

Saturday, February 20, 2010

New look to our Aquariums!

On 20th September 2009, I posted an article in my blog titled – “A touch of ‘Lovely living nature’ in our home!” (http://srisrilara.blogspot.com/2009/09/touch-of-lovely-living-nature-in-our.html). In that article I wrote about the two ‘Freshwater-Planted Aquariums’ at our house, one indoors and the other outdoors amidst plants and under a tree. In recent times new fishes, plants, river stones and regalia have been added. You can see the new collection of various fishes in the above photographs and the improved looks of the Aquariums.
I recently read Bob Vetere. He so rightly said: “More people are discovering the many therapeutic health benefits associated with Aquarium fish. An increasing number of offices, classrooms and homes are being equipped with Aquariums, as additional studies show watching fish contributes to stress and anxiety reduction, relaxation and even leads to enhanced creativity and learning environments.”

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Is Telangana Pak? High Court asks Cops.

The mighty Telangana agitation of nine months in 1969 could not be suppressed by brutal force with baton charges and firing by the Police several times all over Telangana.  About 370 persons, mostly students were killed in these senseless firings. There were thousands of hunger strike camps and peaceful demonstrations in Telangana for a separate Statehood and these were disturbed by the authorities which led to skirmishes. And this was reason enough to open fire and cause unnecessary deaths. It was the inhuman attitude of the then leadership of AP against Telangana that brought about this agony to the local people. I loath to type names of such cruel and wicked tyrants. It is very unfortunate that we have statues of such villains in Hyderabad. Telangana youngsters and jobless persons agitating against the injustices done to Telangana were mercilessly killed by this leadership. Finally if the agitation of 1969 was not successful it was entirely because of politicians, specially the Telangana politicians who won the elections as candidates of  Telangana Praja Samithi and ditched the TPS Party and the Telangana cause to defect and become Governors, Chief Ministers, Ministers or simply shameless slaves of anti – Telangana leaders. People of Telangana have forgiven all these villains but surely God would not shown mercy to these exploiters and betrayers of Telangana and executioners of its youth. They are surely R.I.H. (Rotting in Hell) for the sins they have committed against Telangana.
And in these forty one years since then, Telangana has been once again neglected; more promises have been made and broken. They are treated as jokers and evil persons and their language is ridiculed not only in movies but in real life. Statehood was promised during the last two general elections by all political parties of the State and once the formation process was declared; objections and problems were created. And now once again brutal force is being used to terrorize and suppress the demand for Telangana. In spite of the observations by the Human rights Commission and the ruling of the High Court, situation at Osmania University Campus had not improved until yesterday morning. With sterner warning from the High Court yesterday and after the High Court turned down the Government plea to position Rapid Action Force in Osmania University campus, the war zone atmosphere is being cleared. The above paper cuttings are of 16th and 17th February which would give you a clear picture of how peaceful the students were and how ruthless the Police were towards them and the journalists who were covering the brutality of the Police. You may please zoom into the above clippings to read the comments of the High court and its rulings or click on the two links below. Similarly for every meeting being held in connection with Telangana anywhere in the region serious objections are raised stating it would create an unmanageable law and order problem. Then with an appeal to the High court, justice is granted and the meeting is held. This gives me hope. The greedy, double-tongued, corrupt politicians may not get Telangana State. People agitating for freedom from plunderers and cheaters may be shot dead. But ultimately someday the Judiciary and a Judge looking into the injustices done to Telangana may recommend and see that a separate Telangana State is formed. Long live the Judiciary and may the tribes of corrupt, selfish, opportunistic, wicked, characterless and criminal politicians come to an end; not just in Andhra Pradesh but all over the country.
PS. To read the above clippings directly from the Newspaper Websites you may click on the following links:
1) Is Telangana Pak? HC asks Cops (The Times of India, Hyderabad):
AND
2) AP Cops lawless: HC (The Times of India, Hyderabad):

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine’s Day celebration - photographs - 2010.

The above photographs are of the Valentine’s Day celebrations at home and at a restaurant.  We cut a cake at home in the evening which was followed by a Tea-party. Then later in the night we had dinner at ‘Our Place Restaurant’ an Eco-friendly restaurant in Banjara Hills. The party at home was specifically arranged for our four year old granddaughter Ch. Sudhiksha but she could not attend the party. She went to her Chinni Nani’s house in the morning and during the party time she had gone to sleep. She joined us a little later and insisted on seeing the party photographs.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

The day is still young and I want to be the first to wish you. Happy Valentine’s Day! We have two parties today, one in the evening and another in the night. I wanted to post this article late tonight with details of the evening parties but I changed my mind as I am anxious to wish you all a Happy Valentine’s Day. In the meantime you may see the above Cards I made for you and read the article I wrote on Valentine’s Day a few days back: http://srisrilara.blogspot.com/2010/02/awaiting-valentines-day.html  And you may also read some lovely poems by Joanna  which convey my feeling too..

Valentine treasures are people who
have often crossed your mind,
family, friends and others, too,
who in your life have shined
the warmth of love or a spark of light
that makes you remember them;
no matter how long since you’ve actually met,
each one is a luminous gem,
who gleams and glows in your memory,
bringing special pleasures,
and that’s why this Valentine comes to you:
You’re one of those sparkling treasures!
(Courtesy- Joanna)

On Valentine’s Day we think about
Those matchless people who
Give extra meaning to our lives--
The very special few.
Without them, skies would turn to gray;
Things wouldn’t be the same;
Life wouldn’t be as colorful;
It would be a duller game.
And when I contemplate that group--
Friends and family who are mine,
I appreciate and treasure you;
You’re essential, Valentine!
(Courtesy- Joanna) 

Friday, February 12, 2010

Congrats! “Vijaya Dental Clinic”.




My brother, Dr. N. Lakshminarsu’s Dental Clinic at Secunderabad has just completed 30 years of service to countless patients of Twin cities and adjoining areas. Through this column I wish to congratulate him, his family of Dental Surgeons and his team of other specialist doctors for the exemplary service being rendered to society since so long.
Soon after obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Dentistry (B.D.S), my brother established a Dental Clinic in 1974 at Kothagudem Town. He also worked for Singareni Collieries for few years and then on 4th February 1980 he started his Dental Clinic at our house – “Srilekha” in Secunderabad. He named the clinic after his wife, Smt. Vijayalaxmi as “Vijaya Dental Clinic”. Since then he has been practicing exclusively from this Clinic. Both his sons are Dental Surgeons. His eldest son Dr. Sudheer has studied M.D.S.  at the prestigious All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi. He is an Oro-Maxillo-Facial Prosthodontist and Implantologist. And his youngest son Dr. Udaya Bhasker is a Post Graduate, an M.D.S. from the same institute, AIIMS as his brother. He is an Endodontist and Conservative Dentist. My brother’s both daughters-in-law are also Dental Surgeons. Dr. Lavanya is a Cosmetic Dental Surgeon and Dr. Hina is a Periodontist.
I wish all of them the best of everything on this happy occasion.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Win or lose our Cricket players are the best in the world!

The first of the two Test Match series between India and South Africa was played at Nagpur from 6th Feb. to 9th Feb. 2010. The match came to an end on the fourth day itself. The final Score-board reads as follows:
South Africa 1st innings – 558 for 6 declared.
India 1st innings – 233 all out.
India 2nd innings (follow on) - 319 all out.
Immediately after the Match ended the commentators and every national and local TV news channel managed to get hold of some Veteran Cricket player or players to analyze and comment on the Match result. Everyone was kind enough to praise the Indian team, as in the past. Similar approach has been adapted by this morning’s Newspapers. Almost every news media felt sorry that Sachin Tendulkar’s century has been wasted. However everyone appreciated his struggle to make one hundred runs to boost his record of centuries to 46. They were happy for him as he got OUT immediately after scoring precisely 100 runs. What a great loss it would be to the country and Sachin’s record if he got OUT at 99. It would be a national tragedy. After all, records and statistics are more important to Indian Cricket rather than Matches.
All these experts said that we lost the match because of the presence or absence of some senior or junior players. They said the home pitch! the Nagpur pitch! suddenly turned very tricky and tough for batting on the fourth day. These expert opinions are pouring in. All conclusions are that we are a great Team with illustrious players and several records; we lose because of some simple and silly reasons but never because of the rival team’s superior performance. It is a taboo and close to blasphemy to mercilessly criticize our great cricket players who are the best in the world. South Africa’s game deserves no praise, H.M. Amla’s 253 NOT OUT, J.H. Kallis’s 173 and D.W. Steyn’s 10 Wickets haul are insignificant to us. And finally everyone said there is the Second Test Match at Eden Gardens, Kolkata, starting from 14th February. A Match that starts on Valentine’s Day will surely favor our lovely Team (Sachin will score his 47th and 48th century!) Long live our love for Cricket and the great Cricket players of India.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Maha Shivaratri.

This year Maha Shivaratri festival is on Thursday, 27th February. Maha Shivaratri or Shivaratri festival is celebrated according to the Telugu lunar calendar on Chaturdashi night (the night before the New Moon) during Krishna/Bahula Paksham of Palguna Masam. Maha Shivaratri means the Great night of Shiva. Maha Shivaratri is a very important festival celebrated throughout the length and breadth of the country with great devotion. This is the day on which Lord Shiva married Goddess Parvati. And it is on Shivaratri night that Lord Shiva performed Thandavam dance (Shiva Thandavam). Performing Abhishekam and offering prayers on this day is considered very significant in seeking the blessings of Lord Shiva. In the morning devotees bathe in a holy river if possible, fast the whole day, visit a Shiva Temple and perform pooja and after sunset they consume some fruit and milk. Then the whole night they keep awake. To keep awake they may listen to religious discourses, stories, doing bhajana, watching religious movies that are telecast by almost all Telugu TV channels, playing some indoor games and Anthakshari etc.
Hindu mythology also tells us of how some persons not knowing of Maha Shivaratri inadvertently performed Shiva pooja on this day and attained God’s blessings and Moksham. A very ancient King, Chitrabhanu was performing Maha Shivaratri with great fervor and when asked about his devotion he narrated the reasons as follows. He had knowledge of his previous birth. He was then a hunter, solely living by killing birds and animals. The day before a New Moon he could not get hold of any food till very late. As it became very dark by then he could not go home. He climbed a tree to rest there. Then accidentally the water container he was carrying started leaking and got emptied. Feeling thirsty, hungry and thinking of his family’s plight that night he could not go to sleep. Out of frustration he began to pluck the leaves of the tree and drop them down. Unknown to him the water from his canister leaked on to the Shiva Lingam below the tree which was as if he had performed the Abhishekam. And the leaves he dropped down fell on the Lingam as an offering. The leaves of this tree called Bilwa patram are considered a very important offering to Lord Shiva. And that night turned out to be Maha Shivaratri. As a result he attained Moksham in that life and went to heaven.
Another popular and similar narration is that of Baktha Kannappa. Kannappa was also a hunter. From a non-believer he becomes a believer on Maha Shivaratri day after inadvertently performing pooja from a Bilwa tree top to the Shiva Lingam below. Unlike the King’s version he gets on top of the tree that night afraid of his wife’s scolding for not bringing home any food. He begins to perform pooja in his crude way. Later one day when he cannot get hold of any fruit or animal, he prays before the Shiva Lingam asking God to help him in his hunt and that he would offer some of the food he gets to God. He then finds and kills a wild boar. He cooks some of it and offers it to God. A little later he finds that one eye of the Shiva Lingam has become red and is shedding tears. Thinking that God is in pain after accepting his offering he pulls out his eye and replaces it on the Shiva Lingam. Then the other eye of the Shiva Lingam also becomes red and sheds tears. Then he pulls out that eye also from the Shiva Lingam and marking the empty socket with his foot he pulls out his other eye and places it in the Shiva Lingam. Lord Shiva is pleased with his devotion and concern for him and appears before him. And to enable Kannappa to see him God blesses him with eyes and asks him to seek any favor. Baktha kannappa seeks to be with God in heaven. I picked up this story from the Telugu movie called Baktha Kannappa.
Staying awake on Maha Shivaratri is called Jagarna. The next day is a holiday for schools and several establishments.










Today, 10th December is Human Rights Day.

December 10th is Human Rights Day, a United Nations (UN) campaign that calls for people to know and push for their rights no matter ...