Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Happy Leap Day 2012!

Thirty days hath September, April, June and November;
All the rest have thirty-one,
Save February, she alone, hath eight days and a score;
Till Leap Year gives  her one.
Today is the first Leap Day, after I started blogging on 20th April 2009. And I thought I should write here of whatever little I know about Leap Year and Leap Day in specific, and wish you all a Happy Today – “A Happy Leap Day!”. Little excited about the significance of today; I also posted some interesting information about Leap day on facebook, which you can see in the clipping at the top of this article.
If we did not have Leap Years our Calendars would have misbehaved, especially with respect to Seasons. This is because Earth doesn’t circle the Sun in exactly 365 days but it takes 365.2425 days. Those extra hours/days add up to almost a full day, every four years and hence an extra day, a Leap Day (29th February), every four years, and a year of 366 days. Without this extra adjustment, the seasons would gradually slip out of pattern with the Calendar. The concept of Leap Day has been in existence for more than 2000 years. It is said to be introduced during the rule of Julius Caesar around 46 B.C., and this Julian Calendar was improvised to perfection in 1582 when Pope Gregory XIII instituted the Gregorian Calendar, with its first Leap Year in 1584, and this we are following without any hitches till date!
The following rules of the Gregorian Calendar decide which years are Leap Years:
ü  Every year divisible by 4 is a Leap Year
ü  But every year divisible by 100 is not a Leap Year
ü  Unless the year is also divisible by 400, then it is still a Leap Year
The Leap Year and Leap Day are associated with some age-old traditions, folklore and superstitions. One such is a very popular Irish tradition of women proposing marriage! Which seems to have now picked up all over the world!
Good Luck to all bachelors!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Dearest Lady Luck, bless the crazy Indian cricket fans.

Dearest Lady Luck,
Please help us in the Commonwealth Bank Tri-Series Tournament. We fantasize our cricket players to be the best in the world, irrespective of how poorly they perform, this is our wisdom! Please ensure that Sri Lanka plays worser than us in tomorrow’s match so that we can win over them with a bonus point. And then you must also ensure that Sri Lanka loses to Australia! so that we can reach the Final!
And in the Final you must shower more luck on us by ensuring that Australia plays a very bad game!
Thank you,
CICF - Crazy Indian Cricket Fans.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Smiling toothless children!

When a child’s baby tooth falls out it is big news in the family circle. The child is made to sow the tooth in the garden so that a new tooth would grow. The child’s funny face becomes an object of ridicule among friends but the child takes it in good spirits because of the assurances from elders that in its place a healthy tooth would grow.  My grandniece, Sudhiksha has just lost her first tooth and it is news in the family. Courtesy facebook, the news has spread fast and wide. You can see her toothless photograph at the top of this article. The other photographs are of toothless children in the family, belonging to two generations, they are of my sons, Srikanth and Srinath, nephew, Udaybhasker and niece, Sravanthi. Thanks to all of them for their toothless smiles which will amuse us forever!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Maha Lingarchana.

Today is the festival of Maha Shivaratri. I posted a detailed article on Maha Shivaratri on 8th February 2010, which you may read by clicking on the following link: Click Here: "MAHA SHIVARATRI". “Abhishekam” is the most common form of worship of Lord Shiva. Today at all Shiva Temples in the country the ritual of Abhishekam is carried out continuously throughout the day and especially all night by countless devotees. Abhishekam is the ritual of giving a ceremonial bath to the deity of Lord Shiva amidst chanting of Mantras. After Sankalpam and initial Pooja, the deity of Shiva is first bathed with Panchamrutham. Panchamrutham means a mixture five nectars – Panch means five and Amrutham means nectar. These five ingredients are milk, curd, ghee, honey and sugar or jaggery. Then the deity is bathed in juices of various fruits and finally water and concluding Pooja and Harathi.
Maha Lingarchana which we have performed recently is a more elaborate ritual; it involves performing of Pooja individually to 365 deities arranged as per the abode of Lord Shiva and called as “Kailasa Yantra Prastaram” (plus an idol of Sri Ganesha). After Pooja to individual deities; Abhishekam is carried out with Panchamrutham and then with juices of nine different fruits, that is (in our case) grapes, oranges, pineapple, sweet lime, musk melon, pomegranate, guava, coconut water and sugar cane juice and with plenty of water amidst chanting of Mantras followed by other elaborate Pooja rituals such as Mahanyasa Rudrabhishekam, Ekadasha Rudram, Rudra Trishati, Namarchana, Namakam, Chamakam and Anuvaka Vedic Chantings and Harathi /  Aarti. You can see the arrangement of the 365 deities made with clay in the picture at the top of this article and the list and names of deities in the next picture. The Panchamrutham and fruit juices with which Abhishekam is carried out is offered as Prasadam / Theertham to devotees.
It is said that by performing Maha Lingarchana one shall accrue the benefit of worshipping Lord Shiva for an entire year and overcome all ongoing worries and problems and all their wishes would be fulfilled.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Maha Shivaratri Greetings.

On the auspicious occasion of Maha Shivaratri we wish you all the best.
May the blessings of Lord Shiva be with you, always.
May Lord Shiva answer all your prayers, always.
You may click on the following link
to read my article on Maha Shivaratri:

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day Greetings! - 2012

Wish you all A Very Happy Valentine’s Day, especially to my dear family and wonderful friends.
The above video is of few Valentine Day celebrations at our house “Srilekha”; in the past few years, and the photos below are of the celebration today. I hope you will enjoy the video and the photographs. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A memorable moment at a monument of Shakespeare.

My previous article was a tribute to Charles Dickens, a great English Novelist; on the occasion of his 200th birth anniversary, on 7/FEB/2012 – Remembering Charles Dickens on his 200th birth anniversary”. Soon afterwards I was reminded of my photograph at a monument; a marble full-length figure of William Shakespeare, the world’s greatest English Poet, Playwright and preeminent Dramatist. It is beyond doubt that in the English speaking world the most read books are of Shakespeare after the Bible. William Shakespeare (April 1564–23rd April 1616) has many great works to his credit. His surviving works are 38 plays, 154 sonnets and several other poems. I am sure that those who have not read even a few works of William Shakespeare would have certainly heard of him while watching some great English Movies made out of his Plays. The question of not reading at least a few works of Shakespeare does not arise in India as abridged versions are a part of English curriculum at School and College.
I was excited and happy posing for a photo by the side of the monument of this great writer. You can see this photograph at the top of this article and below it a very clear picture of the Statue. A then celebrated actor, David Garrick (1717-79) and a great admirer of Shakespeare commissioned this sculpture in 1757. This marble sculpture was made by the famous French sculptor, Louis-Francois Roubiliac (1702-1762). The sculptor’s mastery and skill can be judged through the second picture at the top - from the pose of William Shakespeare, the detailed carving of the costume, particularly the buttons and cuffs and the pattern on the cloth covering the desk. This statue is housed in the British Museum, London.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Remembering Charles Dickens on his 200th birth anniversary.

Charles John Huffam Dickens, more popularly known as Charles Dickens or Dickens needs no introduction to especially people of my generation who grew up reading books for entertainment as there was no TV in India, even during my college days. He is a great English Novelist born on 7th February 1812 at Landport, Portsea, England. From very modest beginnings and family background he grew into a prolific writer. His masterful prose soon won praise by critics and his ability to create memorable characters solidified his position in the ranks of must-read authors. The fact that none of his works have ever gone out of print attests to the popularity of his novels and short stories.  Even today he is very popular in all countries where English is read and spoken. Today is his 200th birth anniversary and thankfully I was reminded of it through Google’s doodle and through news over internet. He is my all time favorite author and when I went to England I made it a point to visit “The Old Curiosity Shop” on Portsmouth Street, London, which Dickens used to frequent and immortalized it by writing a novel by the shop’s name. At the top of this article you can see a photograph of me standing in front of this historic shop. I decided to post this article as my tribute to him on his bicentennial birth anniversary along with an exhaustive list of all his works as available on Wikipedia:  
§  The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club (Monthly serial, April 1836 to November 1837
§  The Adventures of Oliver Twist (Monthly serial in Bentley's Miscellany, February 1837 to April 1839)
§  The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (Monthly serial, April 1838 to October 1839)
§  The Old Curiosity Shop (Weekly serial in Master Humphrey's Clock, 25 April 1840, to 6 February 1841)
§  Barnaby Rudge: A Tale of the Riots of 'Eighty (Weekly serial in Master Humphrey's Clock, 13 February 1841, to 27 November 1841)
§  The Christmas books:
§  A Christmas Carol (1843)
§  The Chimes (1844)
§  The Battle of Life (1846)
§  The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit (Monthly serial, January 1843 to July 1844)
§  Dombey and Son (Monthly serial, October 1846 to April 1848)
§  David Copperfield (Monthly serial, May 1849 to November 1850)
§  Bleak House (Monthly serial, March 1852 to September 1853)
§  Hard Times: For These Times (Weekly serial in Household Words, 1 April 1854, to 12 August 1854)
§  Little Dorrit (Monthly serial, December 1855 to June 1857)
§  A Tale of Two Cities (Weekly serial in All the Year Round, 30 April 1859, to 26 November 1859)
§  Great Expectations (Weekly serial in All the Year Round, 1 December 1860 to 3 August 1861)
§  Our Mutual Friend (Monthly serial, May 1864 to November 1865)
§  The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Monthly serial, April 1870 to September 1870. Only six of twelve planned numbers completed)
Short story collections
§  Sketches by Boz (1836)
§  The Mudfog Papers (1837) in Bentley's Miscellany magazine
§  Reprinted Pieces (1861)
§  The Uncommercial Traveller (1860–1869)
Christmas numbers of Household Words magazine:
§  What Christmas Is, as We Grow Older (1851)
§  A Round of Stories by the Christmas Fire (1852)
§  Another Round of Stories by the Christmas Fire (1853)
§  The Seven Poor Travellers (1854)
§  The Holly-Tree Inn (1855)
§  The Wreck of the "Golden Mary" (1856)
§  The Perils of Certain English Prisoners (1857)
§  A House to Let (1858)
Christmas numbers of All the Year Round magazine:
§  The Haunted House (1859)
§  A Message From the Sea (1860)
§  Tom Tiddler's Ground (1861)
§  Somebody's Luggage (1862)
§  Mrs. Lirriper's Lodgings (1863)
§  Mrs. Lirriper's Legacy (1864)
§  Doctor Marigold's Prescriptions (1865)
§  Mugby Junction (1866)
§  No Thoroughfare (1867)
Selected non-fiction, poetry, and plays
§  The Village Coquettes (Plays, 1836)
§  The Fine Old English Gentleman (poetry, 1841)
§  American Notes: For General Circulation (1842)
§  Pictures from Italy (1846)
§  The Frozen Deep (play, 1857)
§  Speeches, Letters and Sayings (1870)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Your statements and statistics are not acceptable to us without evidence.

There are many wise men in our country! The neighbors, the neighborhood, the city and the media say that it has rained last night but these wise men would not believe it until you show them the evidence of rain drops on their body. It is under such great men and their so called powerful and pious friends and the tricky laws that they follow; our monarchy (under a foreigner) has many distinctions. How dare we call the following distinctions listed below dubious and something to be ashamed of. They would quote several laws and give reasoning to say we have no right to point our fingers at them and prove they are wrong. Beware you could be eliminated or put behind bars as it is happening regularly in my province.
Here are some facts and statistics about our country from responsible national and international organizations. Our wise men and their friends in power would not accept them. To disprove the facts they would appoint a Sri Arishna or Sri Zrishna Committee to submit a report after a year or two to state that our country is the greatest in the world in every aspect. Please read the following points to know where we stand among the nations of the world:
1.      Our country accounts for around 50 % of the world’s hungry.
2.      Our Global Hunger Index (GHI) score is 23.7 and our rank 66 among 88 countries.
3.       34.7 % of our population lives with an income below $ 1 a day and 79.9 % below $ 2 a day.  This means that according to international standards 34.7 % of the population is living below the poverty line and a vast percentage is not far from this poverty line.
4.      Current account balance of our country is $ - 37,510,000,000 (Minus) while our neighbor with a higher population than us China is $ 426,100,000,000 (Plus). As per this China stands at rank 1 as the world’s wealthiest country and we are at rank 182.
5.      In the Human Development Report released recently our ranking is 134 among 182 countries.  
6.      Talking about living conditions in our country, 89 % of rural households do not own telephones and 50 % do not have any domestic power connection. 20 % of the rural population has partial or no access to safe drinking-water supply. And the sanitation conditions in rural areas are at its worst.
7.      There are daily power cuts even in major cities and towns crippling normal life and industries. While the domestic power cuts may range from 2 hours to 8 hours per day in summer, it is 2 or 3 days a week for the industries.
8.      34 % of our population is illiterate.
9.      Corruption is rampant in every department even in places like hospitals and temples. It can be found everywhere on the streets and in highest offices but it is mostly impossible to prove its existence. Rowdies and criminals and their heirs become politicians and soon millionaires through ill-gotten money and this business cannot be checked.
10. Come to my province to see human rights violations. Everyone who opens his mouth for justice or protests misdeeds is thrashed and put behind bars.
11. Justice is delayed beyond imagination. There are millions of legal cases pending in the country with very little hope of quick justice.
12. Our country has the highest number of street children in the world. Child labor is rampant. Child malnutrition here is the highest in the world.
13. Discrimination against women is a lifelong tragedy, sometimes ending very early with female fetus killing.
14. Crime exists in all parts of the country and unchecked it is on the increase.
15. Economic crimes are virtually daily news and their investigation goes on and on and most cases are closed or forgotten or some scapegoats are punished.
16. Terrorists attack the country killing innocent people and very little is done to prevent such incidents and when terrorists are caught their trial goes on for decades and ultimately the monarchs are afraid to punish them for reasons best known to them.
17. Suicides by farmers and many other people frustrated with the rule of the land and false promises is a daily tragedy occurring at various places in the country. In the past 3 years close to 700 people have committed suicide in my province alone, as the monarchy keeps fooling them with false promises and assurances.
18. 70 % of our population depends on agriculture, but growth in this sector has declined from an already meager 3.8 % to 2.6 % last year.
19. Employment situation is at its worst. No serious effort is being made to create jobs. Millions of Indians have run out of the country to eke out a living elsewhere. Any given day, go to any passport office in the country, you will find long queues of mostly sad looking people eagerly waiting for a passport to get out of the country.
And this list would go on and on if I do some more research on the internet. This dubious distinction after six decades after so called self-rule is something to be ashamed of, but not to those who are responsible for this. They do not focus on problems but brag about a few skyscrapers, a few good roads, a little good transportation here and there, shopping malls in big cities and their list would be much longer than mine but how many people are really benefited by them and finally what about the problems raised by me which affect the majority of the rural population.
The wise men ruling us do not care; they are busy doing and covering up their misdeeds and exploring ways to project their progeny as rulers of the next generation.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Godspeed! An injection or a vaccine or a capsule, to eradicate cancer.

World Cancer Day is a global observance that helps raise people’s awareness of cancer and how to prevent, detect and treat it. This event is held on 4th February each year.
People, Governments, Non-profit organizations, Media and Hospitals work independently or together on World Cancer Day to help the general public learn more about the different types of cancer, how to watch for it, treatments and preventive measures. Cancer has become a major cause of pain, misery and death all over the world. While some forms of cancer are self implicated by bad habits like smoking and chewing tobacco products, there are several more forms of the deadly cancer afflicting people. Early detection of cancer has a higher chance of cure but advanced stages bring about a long treatment and suffering with lesser chances of cure. Awareness to prevent this disease by keeping away from smoking and tobacco, sticking to right foods and daily exercise and knowledge to detect symptoms of several forms of cancers quite early must be known to everyone. Several forms of treatment through radiation, medicines and surgeries have come up due to extensive research all over the world but much more has to be done and quickly; to combat this fast spreading wretched mostly recurring and terminal disease.
As a non-medical man who hears of the tragedies and suffering behind cancer, I sincerely hope and wish that researchers / scientists invent an injection or a vaccine or a capsule to eradicate cancer like they have eradicated polio. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Bhishma Ekadashi.

Today is the auspicious day of Bhishma Ekadashi. Ekadashi is the name of the eleventh day of every lunar fortnight of the Hindu / Telugu calendar. Ekadashi is a day dedicated to Lord Vishnu and each Ekadashi day has some significance, with Vaikunta Ekadashi being the most important and auspicious (you may read two articles I wrote on Vaikunta Ekadashi by clicking on the following links: Vaikunta Ekadashi - 1Vaikunta Ekadashi - 2). And Bhishma Ekadashi, yet another very important Ekadashi falls in the month of Maga masam, on the eleventh day of the first fortnight, that is Shukla paksham.
Everyone who has read, heard or seen movies on Mahabharata would know Bhishmacharya. Bhishma the son of King Shantanu of the Kuru dynasty was the grand uncle of the Pandavas and Kauravas. With great respect; he is always addressed as Bhishmacharya or Bhishma Pitamah, meaning the great teacher or highly respected elder. He was a very important, famous and great warrior, an unparalleled archer. He was a very wise and knowledgeable man, an expert in warfare and in dharmashastra. He was regarded as symbol of righteousness. It is said that Bhishma learnt political science from Brihaspati, the Guru of the Gods, Vedas from Rishi Vashista and archery from Parusharam. Bhishma’s birth name was Devavrata. He was called as Bhishma after he took the ‘Bhishana Pratigya’ (terrible oath), the vow of lifelong celibacy and of service to whoever sat on the throne of his father. He took this oath as his father desired to marry a fisherwoman named Satyavati and as Satyavati’s father refused to give his daughter in marriage unless Bhishma takes such an oath (implying that Satyavati’s future son is assured of the throne). This oath also meant that Bhishma would remain loyal to the Kauravas. This great sacrifice brought him the boon of ‘Sweccha Mrithyu’ meaning he could chose the time of his death. During the historic Kurukshetra war between Kauravas and Pandavas, he had to be on the side of the Kauravas though he knew that they were wrong, due to his oath. None in the Pandavas including Arjuna could fight him, so by deceit they tricked and injured him. Because of his promise to his father that he would protect the Kuru dynasty forever he did not chose to die in spite of being gravely injured. To prevent the falling on to ground of the highly respected elder and warrior which is considered a bad omen to the welfare of the world, Lord Krishna instructed Arjuna to make a bed with arrows and Bhishmacharya is made to rest on it. Bhishmacharya rested there as the war continued. Lord Krishna felt that in spite of his Gita preaching to Arjuna, Arjuna and the Pandavas had a great deal to learn from the wisdom of Bhishmacharya. As per Lord Krishna’s advice, in his presence, the Pandavas approached Bhishmacharya on Maga Shukla Ekadashi  to learn about his life, his wisdom, his experiences, the secrets and facts that made him so great, about life and rebirths, about happiness and bliss and so on. Though weak and exhausted with the injury and pain, Bhishmacharya with the blessings of Lord Krishna enlightened the Pandavas with all the knowledge he acquired over the years. On this auspicious day he also revealed to them his composition, Sri Vishnu Sahasranama Stothram that is in praise of Lord Vishnu. Pointing at Lord Krishna he told them that he is Lord Vishnu and praying him with the Sahasranama that is thousand names of Vishnu can make us dear to him and lead us to salvation. It is said that reciting it regularly or even listening to it is itself a great thing that empowers one with strength to overcome all the difficulties and get on to the right path of salvation.
Fasting, praying and reciting or hearing of Vishnu Sahasranamam today is considered highly auspicious and is believed to help in redemption of sins and attaining Moksha

On a breezy morning…

On a breezy morning, Amidst plants and flowers, As the Sun was rising, The feeling was joyous! Happily as we strolled, Pic...