Offerings to God

 

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I’m sure a topic about God or religion is always going to invite controversies. Nowadays, due to the involvement of political parties in religious activities people hesitate to speak their minds. However, the internet has helped quite a lot on this account because it gives a virtual platform where one can share their views/thoughts without fear. Today, my mind led me to talk about ‘religious offerings’. This is purely based on my own beliefs.
Born in a religious Hindu family, I grew up visiting family temples regularly and watching elders doing daily pooja ceremonies. The Goddess we worship in the family temple is like our own mother, having superior powers. An yearly festival is conducted in the temple when all the family members are united. Everyone takes part in the rituals and enjoys the togetherness. This event gives the family a chance to renew the bonds.

Over the time, people started moving to far away places, settling down abroad with their nuclear families. Some of them flew down to attend the festivals and get togethers, some others did not return. Gradually the daily number of visitors in the temple dropped. The temple became more of a responsibility for the family members, the question of who will pay for the expenses came into picture. Subsequently, the system called ‘offerings’ developed. Every member is expected to contribute to the temple in some way, either Pay in cash or donate to the beautification of temple structure or give offerings to the deity. Offerings can be of many types – flowers, oil, camphor and so on. In India, every temple have their own list of offerings for the deity, the rates vary according to the popularity of the temple.

Coming to think of it, back in those days women plucked flowers from their own gardens, made a garland themselves to adorn the deity because they respected the Goddess and wanted to make her look superior to them. Then they made sweet dishes themselves which are called ‘Nivedya’ for the deity, later it was shared to all in the family as ‘Prasad’.

Ironically, things have taken a great twist today as we pay money for anything and everything related to God. There is no temple without money. It has become a business hub more than a place of worship. We goto temples to find peace, but we believe we will get that only if we buy offerings.Why these offerings? – to fulfil wishes. What wishes? – mostly material things.

The basis of giving offerings to God so that we get a good job or to build a new house is purely psychological. Why do children follow this path when their exams are near?- because they had been taught that way…they see elders doing the same. If we believe in ourselves and the God residing within us, we will achieve what we are capable of achieving. What we couldn’t, is simply not meant for us.

The already existing systems cannot be changed in a day or two, but some baby steps can help change the perceptions. Now, will you please think twice before you pour a litre of milk over an idol? Will you rather give away the fruits to the poor than keep it infront of a deity who cannot eat them in real?

I would love to see your comments. Thanks for reading my blog!

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The thin child

When a baby is born, joy spreads in the family..visitors flow in, gifts are bought and sweets shared. Along with the smiles and happiness that a child birth brings, there is a different set of emotions that often goes unnoticed…

I’m talking about the new mother. The early motherhood days are stressful and confusing for a first-time-mother (FTM). She doesn’t know how to feed the baby. When the baby cries for strange unknown reasons, the mother wouldn’t know how to stop it. She wish to pamper the little one but would be too tired and exhausted to do that. Yet she learn things quickly, say within a two week’s time.

For all FTMs, advices and tips from experienced women comes as a free offer. Sometimes she gets parenting advices from random unknown people she just met at a shop or during a trip. How to deal with these? Take only the practical and good ones in, ignore the rest. Here is the reason why – For every woman motherhood is different and her baby is unique. All babies are not the same. We can’t always generalise the behaviours. Definitely experienced-mom-stories do help raising a child. But, there is nothing more important than your self discoveries and experiments while taking care of your child. Make mistakes, learn from them, find out¬†what is best for your baby.

The FTMs spend hours researching the internet to find healthy food options she can give the child. When the baby is a fussy eater, it becomes an exhausting task to feed the child on a daily basis. This doesn’t stop her from trying, she is determined to win. Everyday these trial and error methods continue on the baby food. For every mother, her child comes first. When a doctor says the baby is underweight, it breaks the mother’s heart. She doubts her own abilities. This feeling aggravates when she hears it from her neighbours, friends or family members.

While every mother is craving to find positivity around her, even a casual remark/statement about how her baby ‘looks’..puts her in a low mood. To raise a happy kid, we need a happy mother. So, please keep this in mind next time you tend to tell a mom that her child looks so thin!

PS: There is no intention to insult/hurt the feelings of elder women/mothers through this write-up. The only aim was to reveal the thoughts/worries of a first time mother and how we can all positively contribute to help them raise the child. Thank you!

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The luxurious PG stay

In 2010, my new job sent me back to Chennai, the city to which I’d bid goodbye a year back. We were four girls travelling from Kerala to join the project. The company arranged accommodation in a service apartment for the first 2 weeks. They served us tasty homemade North Indian breakfast and dinner free of cost. The rooms were very spacious and air-conditioned. A week had gone by.. One day morning, I noticed rashes on my face and neck. My friends suggested I see a doctor. The nearest hospital was Lifeline group and I went to consult a doctor there. He did the diagnosis and informed that it was a type of dengue. He advised me to get admitted as it is characterised by a drop in platelet count. I had no one to come and stay with me overnight except my friends. Without any hesitation, the girls took turns to stay back. 2 nights and 3 days were spent at the hospital. Soon after this nightmare was over, we started the search for a place to stay. The following week, we visited many hostels and PG’s in the city. As the heat was unbearable our only demand was an a/c room. In some of the places that we saw, rats were moving around and the cots looked like berths in train. Only the room rates didn’t go down even though the quality was poor. The owners claimed it was due to the a/c facility.

While our hopes were going down slowly, we found this big house turned into a PG in Adyar. As a bonus, it was run by a Keralite. We didn’t dare to encourage any second thoughts. The house was clean and located in a prime area. It had 3 bedrooms upstairs. The deal we got was, 1 room, 3 bunker beds, 6 people paying 6k pm each. We were to use the bathroom which was upstairs in the terrace. The cook-cum-cleaner Chitra akka made food for all. We could also use the washing machine and microwave oven if needed. In the room, we only mingled with ourselves mostly. We adjusted timings for bath during working days so that we don’t miss the office bus. Many days, I missed the bus or had to run behind it. I was always the last one to wakeup. For breakfast we got dosa, upma or pongal. If it was Pongal, I had cereals or chose to eat in the office canteen. We packed our lunch made by akka, although we dreaded having it on some days. Honestly, the food was a compromise. If the dinner was bad, we ate pizza from a nearby shop or made maggi.

After a few months, the owner informed that soon we would be shifted to a better house near the Besant nagar beach. We went to see the house and immediately fell in love with it. The 3 storeyed property was a good 2 minutes walk from the beach. Another attraction was the N number of eateries around the area. The hotels were aimed to attract the beach crowd. We were over satisfied with the shift. The rent was increased by 500Rs. But we felt it was worth it. We had a huge bathroom attached to our room. Most of the days, I spent the hours post dinner in the terrace. It was so windy up there, the soothing sea breeze.

One girl from our gang resigned and went back to Kerala. Another girl came in her place and luckily the 6 of us got along very well. On weekends, we went shopping and spent evenings by the beach relishing corn/ice cream. I had my space on the top of a bunker bed and so the a/c was too much to bear. While sleeping, I used to hide myself completely beneath a blanket.

We went for strolls, movies and kept on exploring new eat-outs. Gradually we all started liking the city and the freedom we had…the initial hiccups were gone and we enjoyed the independence. At office, we gossiped about others in our mother tongue. We all had our own good and bad days staying there…but now it all seems like a dream. The experiences I had living on my own and managing both money & mind are so precious. Those two years really helped me mould myself to become more bold & strong..If only I could go back in time and take a stroll along the beach…

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Dr.K’s magical smile

September 2013 United States: The fall season had just started. We stayed in Jersey city very close to Newyork. I landed in USA on the day of our first wedding anniversary. Days passed exploring new places everyday after office hours. I learnt to go shopping alone at the Indian street. The PATH trains were easy to travel.

A missed period prompted me to check for a good gynaecologist. I relied on a website where patients posted reviews about doctors. After a quick search, I fixed an appointment at a clinic in NYC. It wasn’t the nearest option, but the reviews were great.

On the day of the appointment, I met my husband midway after work hours. We proceeded to catch the metro train to the clinic. The NYC train system is not easy like PATH. We should carefully find the right trains which are named with alphabets. If mistaken, we could be going in the opposite direction. So after some extra walking and confusions we managed to find the clinic. It was near the financial district where the courts and other major government buildings stood.

At the clinic a front office staff smiled at us and asked to fill some forms. The¬†clinic was neatly maintained with some informative posters and photographs of doctors. Soon we were called into the doctor’s cabin. Dr.K had a warm smiling face which immediately put me at ease. She had short straight hair and looked 35-40 ish. I answered a few questions. Some tests were performed and we waited for the results. A few minutes later, the assistant lady led us to another cabin with a lot of machines and a recliner chair. Dr.K came in with a cheerful Hi/Hello and started talking to me about something which I did not quite understand fully. I asked her for clarification..she asked me so is this the first time you realized that you are expecting? I quickly said ‘Yes, I didn’t know until you told me now’. She laughed and congratulated us! Her laugh was a special one spreading so much joy around. Her way of talking was sweet, like a little girl singing rhymes. She informed me about my next visit to get a scan done. She told the foetus was too small to be seen at that time.

The following days, we had many scheduled visits at her clinic. Some days I visited alone. Taking the subway trains remained as a game of luck everytime. It was way too complicated for a newbie in town. The doctor’s assistants addressed me as Ms.Jeevaan, they couldn’t pronounce my first name.

On some days, I met a boy with shoulder length hair sitting in her clinic. Later I learnt that it is Dr.K’s son. He must be back from school and waiting for mamma to finish work. During the scans, Dr.K showed me the movements of baby on a screen. I watched with so much amazement at her detailing. Once she laughed out loud when the baby did a jumping gesture while scanning.

Dr.K gave me the best news of my life the first day I met her. Her magical smile and sweet talks made it all the more special. She was a positive person, a quality every doctor should posses. Without this right attitude no medicine alone can help a patient feel better. She was the best doctor I have met so far. I had to say good bye to her as I moved to India for delivery. She wrote a piece of detailed instruction for the flight crew to make sure I got a comfortable seat and best care while flying. Someday I shall tell my boy about her magical smile which brought us goodluck!

I take the liberty to post a snap of her from the clinic brochure.

Dr.K

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15 minutes in a Mumbai local

 Vague memories of watching Hijras (eunuchs) with fear flash across my mind when I think about my first experience in Mumbai local. It was years back, when I was a kid.

The coupon system doesn’t exist anymore, tickets should be taken from the counter or from the automated machine. The trains kept coming and going in short intervals. 

It was a sunny afternoon when I hopped into the ladies coach of a Panvel local. I didn’t want to miss the scenery outside..so I stood near the exit. It can only be called as an exit because there are no doors in a local. Another benefit of standing is, getting a much broader view of the co-travellers which serves as a way of killing time.

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A lady sat on the floor opposite to me barefooted. I was puzzled because many people avoid wearing footwear during the 9 days Navratri fasting. The festival just got over yesterday. I thought maybe she has other reasons.

The ladies coach in local is always filled with sellers. They look poor but they wear moderately good clothes. A skinny woman seller moved along the coach carrying her large basket of oranges. She was chit-chatting with some travellers and finally managed to get atleast 4,5 customers. The lady on the floor also bought some fruit from her and soon started relishing one. 

As I was watching this business progress, I saw a young boy holding a box of chocolates. He calls out to the passengers seeking attention and suggests we all grab a snack, however I didn’t see anyone buying from him. I thought it unfair for a boy of his age making a living from this. But then when he doesn’t have money for food where is the money for schooling? Hardly had I taken my eyes off him, I saw a second one of the same category. He had lemons in polythene covers dangling over his shoulders like bunch of grapes. Each polythene had 5 lemons. I watched him manage his deals, pulling off the packets one by one and handing over to customers.

As the train stopped at a station, a lady with a little boy got in. The boy was holding a paper cone in his hand. Both of them settled down besides the lady on the floor.The mother, she looked tired and was in no mood to pamper the kid. She wore a small nose pin which looked like gold but had no earrings. I thought, maybe she is poor and would have sold her gold for some need. After this quick scrutiny, I found that her feet was bare too. I wondered was she on fasting too? I dismissed the thought as I saw her little boy started munching peanuts from the cone. He asked her something and she replied in a jiffy. She looked exhausted. I wondered whether the boy would have had his lunch.. He looked almost the same age of my son. He was wearing a yellow Tshirt with Pokemon print, a blue jeans and a slipper. 

As I stood there looking at this scene, the bottom of the paper cone started leaking and a few peanuts fell on the floor. I was expecting him to pick them and throw it out, but rather he picked each one from the floor and ate them all. It looked like  he didn’t want to miss even one.

 If only my station hadn’t arrived then, I would have tried to give him some inputs about hygiene. His mother however seemed to be lost in another world. In my mind, I replayed the moments when I scolded my boy whenever he gets his hands dirty. Probably these people doesn’t need any antibiotics like us, they would be immune to a variety of microbes.
 

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