Happy Diwali!

HappyDiwali2018

On the left side in the photo is my son’s family and on the right side is my daughter’s family.

As usual, Diwali has come and will be celebrated in Gusto. Diwali is celebrated in different communities in various ways. There are traditions galore. I love traditions as long as they are harmless; traditions which lead to things like black magic and stuff are no no for me! In most cases traditions, are followed blindly and without understanding why they are followed. Now with a new found liking of trying to understand many things, I am trying to understand Diwali. In my case, I grew up in a cosmopolitan area of Marine Lines, Bombay in 60’s of the last century. Yes, we did celebrate Diwali but later I came to know that it was celebrated differently in the areas like Giragaum and Dadar, these have been predominantly Maharashtrian areas! Borivali and Thane were distant places.

Diwali is celebrated as the festival of light in India. It signifies the return of Rama to his kingdom after he triumphed over Ravana. People light oil lamps and keep them outside their houses in order to show Rama the way when dark. The festival commences with Vasu Baras or Govatsa Dwadashi and cows and calves are worshiped on this day. While this day has more importance in Maharashtra and Gujarat, south India too celebrates it as Nandini Vrat. Cows and calves are fed preparations made of wheat. People who offer prayers don’t consume milk or any wheat products on this day. This tradition is an obviously old tradition of the era when the cow was Gomata and many things revolved around the cows. Celebrating them and feeding them good stuff is probably a way to say thank you to them. In olden days food used to be mainly Jowar and Bajra. On Vasu Baras cows are fed foodstuff made up of wheat, the same way humans eat puran poli made out of wheat to celebrate festivals. The video below was shot by me near my home yesterday, where it seems there was an impromptu music arrangement was done, to create an atmosphere of festivity. ( Was it a business activity in disguise?)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgAkG4obqHY&feature=youtu.be

I think most of our festivities are a result of some events from the life of Krishna or Rama. In the same tradition, we have Naraka Chaturdashi. Naraka Chaturdashi (also known as Kali Chaudas, Roop Chaudas, Choti Diwali or Naraka Nivaran Chaturdashi) is a Hindu festival, which falls on Chaturdashi (14th day) of the Krishna Paksha in the Vikram Samvat Hindu calendar month of Ashvin. It is celebrated after Vasu Baras.  The Hindu literature narrates that the asura (demon) Narakasura was killed on this day by Krishna, Satyabhama and Kali. Hence it  is also referred to as Naraka-Chaturdashi. Kali Chaudas is a day to abolish laziness and evil which create hell in our life and shine the light on life.

One good thing is that the  people celebrate the festivals with a lot of enthusiasm. But now they do it differently. Some families come together, some travel together. Some travel but come home on Laxmi Pujan day. Some families have Diwali gambling sessions, some have Diwali drinking sessions but people come together. A new trend has started some years back. There are early morning music festivals, starting at 6 am. The artists sing, dance and play instruments. People are modifying the way things are done but the basic theme of celebration does not change, coming together.

One very interesting development has taken place this year. Supreme Court has given a decision that crackers can be burst during a limited period between 8 and 10 pm. They have also defined the noise level allowed for the bursting! Immediately, there was a hue and cry raised that this is done only against Hindu Festivals. Hindu tradition never said that a string 10000 crackers be burst creating a real cacophony and smoke. In olden days there was no technology to manufacture “bombs” which could make humans deaf! We modify the traditions incorrectly and then fight over it as if there is a further modification suggested; but what the court has done is to bring back normalcy.

We should not be against changes or modifications. The concept will not change but the way things are done will change. When there were no motorized vehicles, we used bullock carts and horse carriages. Due to non-availability of alternate transport, people still use Camels to go from one place to another, in deserts. By all means find different ways to celebrate, find innovative ways to bring joy to this world! My dear friend Jayprakash and we have made sure that we met every year in Diwali for a long time. But this time he and Bharati have traveled to China and will spend their Diwali traveling. 排灯节快乐 Jayprakash!

Laxmi Pujan, Padwa and Bhaubeej or bhai dooj are to well known for me to add something new about them. Only thing I would say is that these are for three very important aspects in lives, Laxmi Pujan is about respecting the money, Padwa is about Husband and wife, and Bhaubeej is about brothers and sisters! Money is a practical need of the life and relations mentioned are the most important ones in our lives other than our parents.

Diyas or lamps lit are supposed to show the path to Ram and Sita to come back home after the dark period in life; the lamps also hustle the bad things or demons to go away. The crackers are burst during these days as a celebration; we do it after we win an important cricket match, too. The crackers are also burst to scare away the devil or demons. Please make sure that us humans are not affected by the loud noise.

I am sure world over, there are different traditions which are followed for thousands of years; but make sure its not done blindly. Keep them relevant for times we live in! Each individual, each family may do whatever that brings joy to them and to others. If you go to buy something in shops, wish Happy Diwali to strangers, wish Happy Diwali to shop keepers. Wish Happy Diwali to auto driver, wish happy Diwali to all the people who are working during Diwali, to make your Diwali merrier. Don’t forget that they are working during Diwali to keep us happy, make our Diwali happier! They also have their own families, they also have their spouses and children and siblings. They are going out of the way to make this occasion happier for us!

Another thing that we need to do is to redefine demons or devils or whatever you want to call them. In olden times devils were like Ravan but now the demons are modern day Ravans. But besides that there are demons like pollution, noise pollution, corruption and many such things. On the occasion of Diwali we can make resolutions like doing social work, helping out poor financially, share your professional knowledge  with society, pro bono!

I read a very interesting interview in today’s newspapers. A couple of business people who sell crackers were being interviewed. A family has been running the business for last 50 years. They said this year, the cracker sale is low and they are facing resistance from their children and grandchildren regarding the selling of crackers. This younger generation is talking about noise, pollution and stuff like that. They are saying that probably the days are numbered for this businesses! I can feel that the number of crackers being burst this year are markedly less! Happy Diwali!

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=diwali+crackers+video&view=detail&mid=1849F03CB11BFE257F901849F03CB11BFE257F90&FORM=VIRE

Happiness Mantra!

The world is full of good things and bad things. Happy things and sad things. To me happiness and sadness are the two sides of the same coin, our life. If there were only one status in life, we would not have known the difference. Change of status is what shifts our mood from sadness to happiness. Sad or Happy status is a state of mind. There are some absolute things when anybody can be sad or some events make everybody happy. Death in family makes you sad and birth in a family makes you happy. Just change the lens through which you look at the world and you will find this state changes. World over, we have terrorist situation. But terrorist for you is a martyr to someone else. One group will be elated due to death of a terrorist and the other will be saddened due to death of a martyr. Two sides of the coin?

To me easiest way to remain happy is to switch mentally to the age group in which you are surrounded. Be a child around children, be a young man when with young people, understand tough life of hot shot busy executives who lead a hectic life. At my age we have been there and done that! We are enjoying our golden period of life. But that does not mean that we meet people our age all the time. When with younger people try to understand their way of life; probably in our times life was not that hectic, it was not so much connected. Enjoy  the different ways these people do things today. 

Young kids have their own way of understanding and imagining things. When I am with my granddaughter, I am transformed mentally to her age. She likes to listen to a new story every time. It can be about a ceiling fan, it can be about her imaginary younger sister, it can be about my childhood. I twist the stories in any which way, there can be pink snake or demon with blue T shirt, that’s me. The other day, I had some meeting in Tata Motors and I was getting ready to go. For the first time, she had seen me wearing a suit and a Tie. She was continuously asking me about the same and whatever I told her, she was not happy. Just as I was about to leave she said, “Grandpa, I know why you are wearing these clothes! You are taking part in a fancy dress competition!” When she was told that someone’s dog had to be treated for illness she asked,” Was the doctor also a doggy?” You get what I mean? Behave like kids when you are with them, you will be really happy. Enjoy their imagination, have fun with their thought process. That’s a path to happiness.  

If you go are in the group of young adults, their discussions and thoughts will be about new devices, selfies, RAM and what not. (Yes, they talk about girls too!) Try to be update with these things. Then you can have fun in this group too! Take some selfies with them! Maybe make crooked faces like these guys do! Be part of them! You may not like it initially but let me assure you, once you get to know their ways, there can only be fun. Once they are comfortable with you, they will ask you about old stuff. There are many things they don’t know anything about! Share with them. Be young at heart, be happy!  

You may have memories, you may have future plans which are known fashionably as bucket list! They will give you some happiness. But why bother about these things when you have so many things in front of you, in the PRESENT! Forget the past, don’t bother about future, enjoy the present. You are sitting with your friends, you are enjoying a book, you are enjoying a movie, your all-time favorite, Guide! Guide will bring your heart throb of college days, Waheeda in front of you. Enjoy it. There are trees, there are rivers, there is a lecture series going on, attend it. There is a rose show, don’t miss it. Once in a while go out and binge on your favorite Gulab Jamun, though you are not supposed to eat them due to diabetes! Become a child, cheat on food once in a while!  

There are many things which you must do or learn to ignore. Simply don’t bother about who thinks what about you. Happy people don’t let negativity of other people affect them. Oh, come on! Always be friendly and grateful, remove that frown! Keeping a smile on your face does not cost you money and say thank you to everyone who helps you a bit! Don’t take people for granted and thank people genuinely from the bottom of your heart! You let the infectious disease of smile to spread where ever you can, people will love you for that! Smile is something that can achieved in a group of people as our moods depend on people around us, with whom we spend most of our time. Be a part of smiling gang.

Every situation has two sides! Be blind to negative aspect of it! Stay positive in every situation. If there are more negatives, don’t lose heart! God has created that negative experience for you to remain a student, all through your life! Learn from it. Don’t become compulsive or obsessive personality. In life nothing is perfect. Even the beautiful Moon has its dark spots! You will find happiness easily when you learn to let go! Happy people know how to control their yearning for perfection. They are proud of what they have achieved. Not all can be Sachin Tendular, you can be a Dravid or a Ganguly too! For that matter you can be Amol Muzumdar or Paddy Shivalkar too! One of the very high ranking players who never played a test match for India!

Contribute to the world, at least to your surroundings. Try and help some needy people. Smile at some strangers. If a car stops to let you go, make thumbs up signal and smile! Keep on learning things, learn to use new gadgets! I know of an eighty-year lady, who learnt to use online banking! Taking interest in new things gives you energy and more meaning in life! 

Do social work, share your life’s experiences and knowledge with needy people! I have only written about trying to be happy with your own behavior, your approach to life! I am not even discussing many things you can do, for which you never got time while working! Don’t ever feel that you have become old. I learnt this in last few years. When we went for the Alaska cruise sometime back, there was a 99-year-old lady who was traveling alone! Then last year during our tour round the Alps, there was an 85-year-old person, traveling alone. There was a person who needed to carry his oxygen generation system with him all the time, was also on the cruise. He took local excursions too. Disability, age are a state of mind! These people made it look like their physical limitations did not exist.  

Friends be happy, be cheerful, keep smiling. It is easy to crib, it is easy rue lost opportunities. To be happy in life, needs to have positivity in you. I have seen people with financial difficulties, all their life, selling through, happily. Money helps but it’s not the only thing.  Happiness is infectious, spread it; the happiness disease always starts in a small way, but it can become bigger and bigger, if you allow it to spread. Start small but never stop being happy!  

Paradox, thy name is India!

A friend Shreekant, went to Europe for a month and mostly lived in Holland with relatives. On his Facebook page he shared some very nice write-ups about the pleasant weather, systems and so on. In his comments there were natural references and comparisons with Bharat desh. He made a very prudent and specific statement that we tend to be very harsh on ourselves when we compare with other societies and other nations, we are a young nation with very old civilization. I totally agree with him because there are a lot of complexities involved in our nation and life! I have always been wondering for the reasons for these paradoxes! Honestly I am never able to come to any conclusion for my question, WHY? It is why to everything.

Let us not say that in India, people live mostly in Villages, it is old story. There has been a big migration from villages to towns and cities. I know why this is happening. It is the abject poverty and lack of job opportunities in villages that pushes people towards cities. Recently I was in Europe, in larger cities and smaller towns and sometimes in villages. Obviously my mind too started making comparisons. Both in cities and smaller places things were relatively similar in Europe. In India also we have similarities but of the wrong kind! We are extremely capable as a society of making our cities & villages dirty! Cities like smaller places can be really dirty! That is the first impression that we carry whenever we travel outside India to developed nations.

 India as a country has made great progress  in satellite technology,  they are well known in IT field! India is the largest manufacturer of two wheelers in the world! Suzuki car production in India is much larger than their production in Japan! India has slowly started doing well in sports at world level! Indian engineers, doctors, scientists have done pretty well on global scene. This is where the paradoxes begin.

Let us begin at the beginning. How long have we been one, as a nation? Before 1947 there was no concept of India. We may sing paeans of glory of Bharat, जहा डाल डाल पर सोने की चिडियां करतीं हैं बसेरा यह भारत देश है मेरा! It feels good to listen to the song but the ground realities are quite different. Indian continent was made up of hundreds of small kingdoms ruled by the Rajas and Nabobs. For the first time in the history of the continent, area from Pune to Atak was under the rule of Peshwas. That too was for a brief period. Many years before that, Mughal invaders came to “India” and ruled. Before 1947 British ruled us for 150 years, using a small army and big brain. British had clearly understood that since there was no “India” as such, they could easily use the divide and rule strategy. Under the non-Indian rulers most of the population never had any rights; the benefits of technology hardly reached them. British made sure that industrial revolution benefits reached only where and when it was beneficial to British. There was no “All India” policy.

European countries have existed as nations for centuries, sometimes by different names, some have split and some have merged. Japan has been in existence for a long time. China also is around for a long time. United States and Canada have also been existing as countries for a couple of centuries. Most important aspects of these countries is, though there has been variance in different parts of the nations, mostly they were quite coherent in food, culture, clothing and language. Except for the obviously large countries, all others are pretty small, smaller than the many Indian States of today. Ruling and managing such countries was much easier.

Indian complexities start with 31 major languages, with that many different cultures, as many different types of foods including the way we eat. But somehow one thing we have in common across the cultures of our great Indian continent is total disrespect for laws and rules, total disregard for each other’s personal space, disregard for maintenance of personal infrastructure of all types. I am not talking of government infrastructure! You must be wondering how I have not written anything about cleanliness! Lack of cleanliness is the end result of everything.

Disrespect for law is ingrained in our DNA. We have disrespect for authority. The respect starts with respect to next individual. In Hindi movies whenever a young person meets elderly person, they are always respected by touching their feet! In mythology we have great stories of Ram, Laxman, and Bharat who go really out of the way to respect their eldest brother Ram. When it comes to public life how respect suddenly vanishes? Though we have our old traditions for respect! In north India even a new born child is addressed with respect, using word आप. Luckhnow culture is known for पहले आप culture, meaning please go ahead, I will follow you! I feel that we make use of traditions conveniently! What could be the reason for disrespect? The Indians were always ruled by others for centuries. Main reason could be it is a way of protesting against authorities. But we forget that now it is our country, so how this attitude will help?

Disrespect to others creates “I don’t care attitude!” I feel like spitting in public, I will spit! In our society chewing paan or betel leaf and/or tobacco, and of course spitting the juice in public, is “culture”! Basic things like standing in a queue are handled so differently. People sometimes stand so much near you in your personal space that you have to tell people to move away. You will be jostled, pushed. Most of the time, someone will always try to jump the queue claiming “I have only half a minute work”! I also find problems in traffic. When I stop for red signal, at least 5 to 10% of times guys on bike will try to snake their way in non-moving traffic banging on my side mirror! Personal space, never heard of that!

Stopping for a red signal is an international norm. We will try to jump signal if policeman is not around, else we think that stopping over zebra crossing is our birth right. This is disrespect to others and law! Laws are made for smooth running of the society. In any society a small percentage of people are bound to break the laws. But in India very large numbers break laws with impunity. Once I was driving thru a green signal; after I passed, I heard commotion. Suddenly around 15 bikers just broke the red signal and drove thru. A policeman was there but how can a single policeman catch 15 people? Two wheelers are supposed to carry two passengers; it started with taking additional baby in the lap. Then it changed to two adults plus two children around the age of 10 or 12. One of them sitting on the petrol tank of the bike. Mind you this is not an exception!

Personal infrastructure is the area around homes, condos or where you live! In olden days there were small homes generally one story or ground level. Cleaning homes and pushing the dust outside home was the definition of cleaning the home. There was no concretization, there was no paper, so cleaning was pretty simple, push dust outside in the dust around your home. Things have now changed drastically and homes have also changed. The amount of trash we generate is enormous. The mix has changed, there is plastic, there is metal, there is paper and there is glass. Still in many homes definition of cleaning has not much changed. At the most people collect their trash and throw it in a convenient spot on the way to somewhere, dumpsters be damned! The best way to keep things clean is to not create the trash in public spaces;  when you achieve this, you  don’t have to clean the roads. In advanced countries the trash that you generally see on roads is tree leaves and cigarette butts. Somehow developed countries have also not been able to eliminate these butts. Once my grandson Suyash, who lives in the USA, had come to Pune. From our 7th floor abode we could see a lot of buildings around. Suyash asked me, “Grandpa, why don’t they paint their homes?” They all looked pretty ungainly because they were never probably repainted after construction. Buildings were maybe 10 year old. In these ten years not even one building was repainted. With Monsoon and heat, Moss streaks make buildings not a very pretty site. I am sure people living in these buildings could definitely afford to get them repainted once in ten years! I  normally live in a colony of row houses or town houses. People just used to hang their laundry from front balcony. Only after we started fining people they reluctantly stopped it.

I feel that all the lack of discipline, disdain for laws and rules, lack of consideration for others are independent of social status, financial status, (In fact sometimes I feel that it is inversely proportional) and your education. All the cleanliness drives, swatchhata diwas are of no use if the mindset is not changed. If we as a society handle the trash prudently instead throwing stuff where ever we want, we will have cleaner cities and villages. Pune is one of the better places where sweepers sweep the roads sincerely but I would rather have sweeper less Pune. Why are we required to sweep the road instead of collecting trash? All over India there is a big drive going on from government to stop open defecation, subsidies are also offered to needy. to build toilets But in Punjab many men still defecate in fields though they have toilets at home; when asked why they do so? The reply was, “It is Manly”! God bless us! Amen! You may listen to the song जहा डाल डाल पर सोने की चिडियां करतीं हैं बसेरा using link below. Tell me how you feel after listening to the song, now!