February 28th, 2014

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sadAbhishEkam: celebrating a man's entering his 80th year

My childhood friends, Rajamani and Savithri, celebrated their sadabhishekam on the 26th of February, at the Sankara Matham, Chromepet.

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Rajamani Anna (aNNA is "older brother") was a cousin of seven siblings who lived right opposite my parents' home in Kolkata. He lived with them, studying and then working, and the closeness has persisted through the decades. I have been quite close to his younger daughter, too, and jumped at the chance to attend the sadabhishekam.

The 60th and 80th birthdays are traditionally celebrated only when the husband attains those respective ages. Hopefully, we will start celebrating them for women, too, but as of now, the winds of change have not blown that strongly!


A beautiful "kOlam" welcomes everyone into the venue:

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Let me close with two short videos.

This thirumanjanam, or ritual bathing in sanctified water. The traditional "gowri kalyANam" is being sung:




mAngalya dhAraNam, or tying of the sacred thread (sorry, I had to take stills, so this is VERY short!)



I hope you enjoyed the sadAbhishEkam as much as I did!
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Thoughts about homosexuality

A response to a somewhat intolerant email on the topic. My response:

Homosexuality has been around for as long as humanity has. Hominids and other primates exhibit it, too. As a naturalist, I find it prevalent in many other species as well. It's only human beings who see the need to attribute moral values to certain forms of behaviour.

Heterosexual behaviour shades from rape,abuse, and casual sex on one side of the spectrum to committed, loving, long-standing relationships on the other. In my experience...so, too, does homosexual behaviour.

I feel that any behaviour (of any kind) that harms others is morally and ethically repugnant. But any expression of love between two consenting adults (of any kind) cannot be bad. Love is so difficult to find, why abominate any form of its expression?

And if we think that gays or lesbians do not exist in India, we are putting our heads in the sand.

I feel that life would be simpler if we accepted people as they are, without worrying about who they are sleeping with, or judging them for it. It's always comforting to adopt a moral high ground upon which we stand and condemn others...but life would be simpler if we accepted our fellow human-beings as they are...and condemn only behaviour that harms others.

Well, that's my opinion, and I understand that there will be many people whose views differ diametrically...or to different degrees.

Thank you for making me think about this, and articulating my thoughts!
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A few trees that are entwined with Hinduism...

As I wandered around the kalyANa mantapam (festivity venue) at Chromepet, it struck me that there are so many trees that are inextricably entwined with Hindu rituals and customs...and I was lucky to be able to photograph some of them, right there. I am giving the Tamizh names and the link to the Wikipaedia entries about them, too.

One is the

pArijAtha or "pavazha malli" (literally, "coral jasmine" maram (maram is tree is Tamizh).

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In this photograph, taken before the varalakshmi pUjA, you can see both banana trees and mango leaves for sale, to decorate the goddess' mantapams in people's homes.

IMG_0183 Banana trees and mango leaves to decorate

It's a great pity that our strong links to trees seem to be getting diluted these days...and we seem to think of them not as living beings, complementing our lives, but hindrances to "development", especially to the faster flow of motorized traffic!