How Santa Claus was born?

Christmas is at the bay and as always it brings along with it enthusiasm of holiday season. In our gadget-free childhood, Christmas season represented great fun and enjoyment especially the belief in Santa Claus bringing gifts for kids at night dropping them in those red socks hanged on the door. On many such Christmas days, I had asked my parents how Santa was born. I even asked once does he ever die? My parents laughed out that question and this unfulfilled curiosity of mine was forgotten as I grew up and understood it to be an imaginary person meant for children. But then how this belief was born? Where did it originate from and why it’s associated specifically with Christmas? Santa Claus and his magical reindeers, the Christmas tree, the star and the gifts, exactly how did it all begin? All of us must have asked or heard such questions especially from kids at some point, as the custom of adoring Santa Claus and the tales of his gifts continued over generations which made him a leg…

Shiva : An eternal enigma.

Lord Shiva occupies a highly significant position of Hindu Holy Trinity but he is one god who perplexes a devotee, a rationalist and an atheist equally. Shiva signifies almost everything about Hindu pantheon and culture including dance, music, erotica, yoga and Vedanta. Shiva is an entity with rich tradition of unorthodoxy and assimilation. He is a cosmopolitan God. In my recent visit to Ellora caves, a world Heritage site in Aurangabad, I came across various beautiful sculptures of Shiva with his consort Parvati depicting his magnanimous feats and characteristics which arouses awe and mystery to the eyes of the beholder. “This is a 3D Nataraja madam” explains our guide pointing to a sculpture of Shiva in a dancing pose with Parvati besides him on the ceiling of one of the cave temple of Shiva “It’s known as 3D Nataraja as it appears that Shiva’s gaze is directly at you from every direction”.

As I was admiring this structure, an elderly foreign couple was standing near Shiva linga plac…

Deva Diwali; the celebration of Gods

As the name suggests Deva Diwali is the festival of lights celebrated by gods, it is also known as Kartik Purnima and it falls on full moon day or fifteenth lunar day (November-December). This auspicious festival is celebrated with variety of rituals practiced in many parts of India and there are more than one legends associated with Deva Diwali. One such legend which is very popular is of Lord Shiva helping to rescue the world from three Asura sons of Tarakasura. These brothers had built three cities in the cosmos which together was known as ‘Tripura’. It was constructed by the great Asura architect Mayasura. They were the cities of wealth, power and malevolent actions with the intention to establish dominance over rest of the world. It is believed these cities were made of iron, silver and gold located between earth, sky and heaven respectively. These cities were invented by three sons of Tarkasura who was killed by Kartikeya, Lord Shiva’s son. Tarakaksha, Vidyunmali and Viryavana un…

Legend of Diwali- An Asian uniqueness

Diwali, the celebration of lights is one such festival which is an amalgamation of various religious sentiments, social outlooks and monetary ventures too as many Businesses in India recognize the day after Diwali as being the first day of financial new year. Although Diwali is best known as Hindu festival, it has religious significance on other cultures like Jainism and Sikhism. In Jainism it marks the ‘Niravana’- the spiritual awakening of Lord Mahavira and for Sikhs its was the day of freedom from imprisonment for Guru Hargobind Ji, the Sixth Sikh Guru. In accordance to the popular Legend, Diwali is an Indian festival marking the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya and perhaps this belief or the triumph of Rama had spread far and wide as the presence of Diwali celebrations can be seen in rest of South East Asia which can also be further connected to the  existence of Asian versions of Ramayana. This could be a reflection of a wonderful huddle of various Asian cultures coming together thr…

The Nine nights of Womanhood

It’s the arrival of one of the most vibrant festival of India which is announced by today’s blessed morning. We are all set with complete fervour and enthusiasm to welcome the nine nights of worshipping Devi – our Mother Goddess with open doors of our homes and hearts. Navratri is such a cherished festival of India that every street and corner is decorated like a newly wedded bride, the one who is decked up with all ‘Solah-Shringar’ and why not after all it’s the festival which celebrates every aspect of feminity which in itself has myriad shades.

There is worship & devotion, art, dance & drama and praises sung to various divine forms of Devi in every part of the country in their own unique ways. While the two forms of  this celebration which tops the list of popularity are Garba & Dandiya Raas of Gujarat and Durga Puja known as Mahalaya in West Bengal, there are other diverse and fascinating ways of Shakti being worshipped in Indian culture, rituals and traditions.

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The ancestors of Bhageeratha

In the popular story of King Bhageeratha, one of the ancestors of Rama who propitiated Brahma and with the intervention of great ascetic Shiva brought the holy river Ganga from heaven to earth for the salvation of his ancestors, the penance and efforts of Bhageeratha are eulogised which remains the widely known version. But who were those legendary ancestors which were finally redeemed due to Bhageeratha? In this story we learn about those Kings in the generations earlier to Bhageeratha who also attempted to bring Ganga on earth but could not succeed in their attempts. This tale is narrated by Vishwamitra from Ramayana as the account of their ancestors to Ram and Lakshman after the episode of slaying Tadka. Ram and Lakshman bathed in the holy river and rishis made lustrations to their forbears. They performed pujas and cooked their food. Over meal, they sat around and Vishwamitra at the request of the two princes told the story of Ganga. Himaavan king of mountains had two daughters fro…

Divine Sita & Illustrious Draupadi, now it's time to narrate the tale of clever Damayanti

For centuries, in many literary texts, in the minds of thoughtful writers and in varied societal perspectives, Sita and Draupadi consistently remained two profound female characters of Indian mythology which depicts epitome of feminity, grace, patience and forgiveness. They are the archetype of ideal wife, sacrificing mothers and the women mistreated also often misrepresented. Both Sita and Draupadi have been the flag bearers of egalitarianism, challenging the notions of heroism and male protagonist. These magnificent and eulogised women have been source of inspiration for many generations now, they persisted in the face of heartbreak and injustice meted out to them by their own keith and kins, as an outcome of a male-dominated society which eventually aroused their determination and self esteem setting them up as a role models for the songs of feminine revolution. These motifs implied the peculiarity of the milieu in which their characters were developed. But now as we stand on the fo…