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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Ganapati Bappa Moraya

Since tomorrow a big festival is beginning in India. Especially in Maharashtra. Its called Ganesh Utsav.
Beginning tomorrow, people in Maharashtra brings a statue of Lord Ganesh at their homes or even in their society and worship for period of upto 10 days.
The story behind this festival is less of religion and more of social and political reasons.  In 1893, Lokmanya Gangadhar Tilak started this as an event to bring people together and create awareness among people about the ruling British empire. It received a huge support from people and became an important event. Slowly over the time, it spread all over India. After Independence, the social cause of social development got attached to this festival. But over the time, somehow, the component of social cause has been depleting in the festival. Even the component of religious belief has reduced significantly. At the same time, people are using this festival more like an opportunity to earn money and giving an erratic form to the celebrate. Big processions which went on  for over a day, when all the transportation of the city is crippled is very common. People drink and dance on very loud music without bothering that the loud music may bring heart attack to some one.
There is a heavy load over police in these days. Not to forget, this is a very big chance for terrorist attack since there is a big crowd every where.
But all is not bad. There are some groups which are very famous among people for their activities.
For ex. Lord Ganesh statue by Dagdu Sheth Halwai in Pune. This is one of the most famous Ganesh Statue in Maharashtra. People not just from Maharashtra, but from all over India and even abroad Countries visit Pune to worship.
This group is very famous for the kind of decorations and arrangements they make during this 10 days festival. In the immersion procession which takes place on 10th day, this statue is among the last few ones and all the people actually wait for this statue to participate in the procession. Once this statue passes through, the crowd significantly decreases.
One interesting activity by the group is the "Atharvashirsh Pathan". Atharvashirsha  is a most recited Sanskrit text in Maharashtra. Here, Lord is praised in many different fashions by remembering his strength, wisdom and intelligence. The interesting thing to note here is this Atharvashirsha is recited by hundreds of women in front of Lord Ganesh. This has given an opportunity to bring women power together and brings awareness and change in many different ways of looking towards women. All the women of Pune actively participate in this event where there are hundreds or thousands of women reciting Atharvashirsha together. It is an amazing environment to experience.
One of the Lord Ganesh Statue which is equally famous is the Lal Baug Raja statue in Mumbai. This is the most famous statue in Mumbai and is the centre of attraction for all the people in Mumbai. A rough estimate is that in the 10 days of festival, number of visitors for this statue as big 50 million or even bigger than that.
These coming 10 days are a wonderful time to visit Maharashtra. There is some kind of energy every where. All the people are in festival mood and all evenings are an event. It brings people together, and teach them to celebrate together. At times, as is the basic theme of the festival, it crosses the boundaries of  religion and involves every body irrespective of religion or caste. There is a need to route out some erratic behaviours that got associated with the festival. But it will take its course to undo them.
So, if you happen to be in Maharashtra and more specifically in Pune or Mumbai, do make an appointment with Lord Ganesh and get upbeat.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Bobby Jasoos - An entertaining movie

Now a days I have kind of visiting Cinema Halls for movies.It is painful to spend Rs. 300-400 and end up with disappointment. My last movie in theatres was IronMan-III. That is what almost 2 years back I guess.
Anyway, I happened to catch a recently released movie "Bobby Jasoos" on TV. 
We were apprehensive to watch the movie considering it was recently released and now it is on TV with in few months. But then there was nothing else worth watching on other TV channels, we ended up watching this movie. And for a change, it was a good decision. Some how, the movie managed to kept us connected to it for whole time. Good thing is even whole time was hardly one hr and 30 minutes.
Movie started OK. But the Hyderabadi style started taking grip slowly which it could hold till the end. Well ofcourse there were many visibly lacunae in the movie but still it was entertaining.
For a change there were a few songs in the movie. And even the songs were bad. In stead of regular "Dinkachika" kind of lyrics and music, the songs carried some beautiful words which went well the melodious music.
Vidya Balan really pulled the movie. One doesn't feel, but her acting skills slowly takes hold of your attention. And then there were some strong actors working as side actors. This is one movie which I found clean and cool to watch. Its entertaining and surely is not disappointing. If you haven't watched this movie yet, so find some time and take a look at it. You will surely have a good time for atleast one and a half hour.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Dahi Handi, new rules made and taken back

Just five days back I wrote a post about the new rules brought in for Dahi Handi festival. As per the rules, members involved in pyramid formation should be at least 18 years old and the pyramid can not be of more than 5 steps.
But with in 5 days, Supreme court changed this rule. Now the pyramid is back to 9-10 steps and the members age can not be less than 12 years. For safety purpose, there should be cushions on the floor surrounding the pyramid.
As of now, while I am watching the live telecast on TV, what  I am seeing doesn't really fit in these new rules. There are no cushions I see on the floor. Also, the apex member seems to be in the range of age 10-12 years. For name sake, there is safety belt given to this only member. On Paper, it says that this time there is no cash money prize on any of the Dahi Handis in Mumbai. The program live doesn't show it that way though.
 I believe some reformations will be brought in coming days to make it a safe festival and reducing it from commercial value.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

New rules for Dahi Handi: Justified

 One of the big festivals of India is Dahi Handi. Back ground of the festival connects it to Lord Krishna who used to gather his friends and with their help used to steal Makhan (Butter) which used to kept at a height in a pot. To gain access, Krishna's friends would make a pyramid and Krishna will ride over it and get the pot down. Some times, the pot would break and all the butter would spill out.
In today's date, a bigger version of this small story is seen round every corner. This festival is most famous in Mumbai. It has received a professional touch where some businessmen, MLAs, Corporators put this as a challange for different groups called Govinda Pathak to make huge pyramids and then break the pot. There is a big prize for the winner. Sometimes, the prize money goes upto Rupees 65 lakh or say Rs 6.5 million ( 1 $ = ~ Rs. 65)
To make the challenge more difficult, the pot is put at a very big height. At present, the group has to make a pyramid of 9-10 steps. If average height of group members is considered say 5.5 feet then, the pit height would be somewhere around 50 feet from the group. 

To top that, till date the person who breaks the pot is a small kid mostly around 10-12 years old chosen because of his light weight. As far as my knowledge goes, there is a support provided to this person only through a crane. All other group members who make pyramid steps say upto 8 steps  (40 feet) are on their own.

The Govinda pathak agrees to take up this challenge mainly because of the cash money associated with it. This pyramid building is a difficult task and most of the time the attempts fails when one of the group member looses balance. This results in crashing of all the members. Imagine one falling down from 40 feet. On the ground, it is mainly the people who  try to catch them and that is the only way for the safety of the Govinda pathak. It so happens that many of the group members get injured and even sometime die because of the head injury. In short, the festival has become more of a money making businesss than the actual connection with the Lord Krishna.

This year, there was some controversy where allowing small kids in pyramid building was prohibited. A lot of things happen and eventually the court gave orders that the minimum age of the member of Govinda pathak is 18. No body less than this age will be allowed in pyramid building. Also, the maximum height has been reduced to 20 feet. That means the pyramid will be formed maximum of 4-5 steps.
I think this is a welcoming order and it should be strictly followed. One should not forget that the people who actually participate in such activities are those who have to earn their bread daily. These are the people who don't have lots of money in their bank account and if they don't get their daily wages, they might not get food for the day. And many a times, this need is the reason which makes them put their life in danger.
Many of the organizers have opposed this order and are planning to go ahead with their original plan. Because other wise there won't be big gathering to see a small pyramid breaking a pot. Guess, they care more about the gathering and less about the festival and Govinda pathak.

Monday, August 11, 2014

India's debacle at Old Trafford, Manchester

What happened few days back in Old Trafford, Manchester Test match was a Cauchemar. There are so many things debatable about this match.
Beginning with the decision to bat first. Was it a right decision. Apparently not. When four of your batsmen get out at a score of 8, it certainly can not be called a right decision. But, I think, it could have been proved a  right decision, if our batsmen would have shown little temperament to stick around. When one or two of your wickets go down, one should get extra vigilant for every ball thrown towards them. If nothing else, the way English batsmen batted proved the point. They played well enough to get a lead of almost 200 runs, a lead bigger than what Indians scored overall.
Indian batsmen did not learn their lesson even in the second inning. I tried to follow the inning for some time. I took  few minutes break and when I returned to the match, India was one down. Murali Vijay was gone. Another 20 minutes and Gambhir was on his was back to pavilion. I kind of gave up seeing this performance and started watching a sit com that goes for around 20 minutes. When I returned once again to the match after 20 mins, India went down 61-5. That felt disgraceful to even watch. Why can't Indian team adapt to the condition on foreign soil. Agree that there is a swing of as big as 28 cms at occasions, but guys, you are professional cricketers! You are supposed to play those balls right. Forget English batsmen, even low order batsmen managed to survive those balls to an extent. Dhoni, who is not a technical batsmen could survive and score 71 runs in first inning. Even Ashwin could score 40 runs. This probably is more than the collective effort of our top 5 batsmen in both the innings.
One good thing is Dhawan is rested. I don't believe, he is a player for India in  a long run. India should continue with Gambhir instead of Dhawan. Also, give rest to Kohli. He is probably busy with other curricular activities, so as not to concentrate on his game. I am wondering what is the problem with Pujara. He is supposed to be the next Dravid in making for India. With this performance, that seems doubtful. Rahane is instead succeeding in his efforts to stay strong, but even he is not consistent. And what to say about Sir Jadeja. No doubt, Ashwin is better alternative for him in the next test.
Our bowlers are also funny. Ishant Sharma, played one good game and then he got injured. How on earth, do you expect to be the spear head of Indian attack. Who is this Pankaj Singh? Never saw him playing anywhere. Never heard of him and suddenly he is the main Indian attack who is preferred over Shami or Varun. Some thing is not right.
Indian think tank is probably resting in some corner and  the Captain is still in Lords. Wake up, do something in the last test match. Make Indian batsmen realize that they are supposed to consistently score runs. With out runs, our already weak bowling attack becomes pathetic.
For last few days, we rather enjoyed watching Common wealth games over the test matches. Probably it will be good to make this a habit to look for other sports rather than this pathetic Indian performance.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Good Work India at Common Wealth Games

Common Wealth games ended yesterday. It was an interesting 10 day tour which helped us witness all different variety of games. India's performance at these games was marginally well. Though their medal tally reduced significantly, but Indians managed to make a significant mark in some games. 
It is clear now that, we hold a good control over shooting events. India managed to grab as many as 17 medals in different events. Of course, the number of gold in these 17 medals is less, but still, it proves our hold on this game. Abhinav Bindra as expected brought one Gold for India. He has declared it to be his last Common Wealth stint. I believe he has done a great service to Indian sports by not only winning Gold but also promoting this game to such an extent that we have started grabbing most of the medals of the sport.
Shooting is followed by another game which brought India 13 medals. It is Wrestling. Two names, Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt are a must. These two names have been rounds for some time now and I guess now they should be included in the list of legends. While Sushil Kumar made us learn that we can win Wrestling, Yogeshwar Dutt taught us the meaning of hard work and perseverance. This times Yogeshwar's performance was beyond limit of any wrestler in his weight category. He managed to win all his matches with 2 minutes. There was simply no match for him including Finals. No wonder, more and more better wrestlers including girls have started not only knocking the doors but even grabbing golds in their first ever attempts.
There is a little disappointment with Boxing though. We had a chance of winning four golds here but we ended up loosing all four of our final bouts. And we did not just lost, our boxers including the famous Vijender Singh were at times not able to stand straight on their feet. It was painful to see their fights.
This time Table Tennis and Squash teams also managed to bring home some laurels. It was good to see our teams doing good on these fronts too.
I was impressed the way Kashyap won his Gold in Badminton. It was a tough fight against the young 19 years old Singaporean. The opponent was not just good but amazing. The way he was covering the ground was astonishing.  He made me believe at a point that the Gold is going their way. But Kasyap fought back with such an aggression, that the kid on the other side got tired and pretty much lost his way. Although, he made Kashyap struggle to the maximum possible extent before loosing control over Gold.
In contrast, Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponappa lost their Gold in a most pathetic manner I have ever seen. I was wondering whether this is a Common Wealth Final games. The two ladies were hardly making any movement and were playing all using their hand and wrist. There hardly was any court coverage. Even I, who has played Badminton to marginal competition level could find so many gaps left in the court. Some of Ashwini's shots even reminded me of the famous hindi song "Dhal Gaya Din, Ho gayi Raat" where Jitendra and an actress are playing a funtime outdoor badminton game. I think its high time India needs alternativce doubles team.

India once again lost the final of Hockey to Australia. Some how, Australia is always a barrier for India, which we find difficult to cross. We need to come out of this issue with Australia and build ourself so strong that no matter which team comes infront, its their time to fear and not ours.
This time we got some success in Athletics and Gymnastics too, which is welcoming.
Over all India did well. I expected 80 medals, but we could reach upto 64. We scored 15 golds and as many as 25 silvers.Which means, Indians could reach the finals of 40 events. That is not bad.
I will avoid making any comments on the last minute controversy of 2 Indian officials bring shame to the Country.