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Kindle the Spark within

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Most Indian festivals are a spectacle of lights. They exhibit brightness, vigour and celebration.

For ages the lighting of a lamp has been a sacred symbol. A symbol to connect with the light within. The spark that keeps us lively, bright and healthy.

Darkness, on the other hand symbolizes depression, dullness, and decay.

So is life about stark light and dark, or the shades in-between?

Does light switch off one day to bring complete darkness and switch on another day to bring total brightness suddenly?

The distance between one end of brightness and darkness can be a lifetime, or a fraction of a second.

You may gradually achieve what you set out for and feel accomplished only towards your advanced years of life, or you could see your entire world crash to pieces in a matter of seconds.

So, what purpose do these festivals serve in our lives?

While it’s true, that each of us can find our happiness or sadness within, these festivals do create opportunities.

They provide an occasion to recharge, restart, or reboot.

While the external light provides the ray of hope, it doesn’t have the firepower to keep it burning till its next arrival.

The fire has to be kindled from the spark within.

Happy Diwali!

Posted in: Celebrations, Diwali, Festival, Festivals, India, Motivational, Personal Development

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Teacher Krishna!

Is it coincidental that Teacher’s Day and Janmashtmi have concurred this year?

Krishna is known in many ways, but the role that remains sublime is that of a Teacher.

An interesting episode during Mahabharta becomes a defining moment in history.

Many efforts from various peacemakers make the war inevitable and both the sides, the Kauravas and the Pandavas are canvassing for support for their respective factions.

Duryodhan from the Kauravas, and Arjuna from the Pandavas land almost simultaneously to solicit the support of Krishna.

He declares that he will not fight, but his army is available on one side, and he as a mentor to the other. Arjuna unhesitatingly opts for Krishna. But Krishna reminds him that he will not fight or even pick up a weapon. Arjuna reaffirms his choice, much to the delight of Duryodhan who can’t believe the folly of his stupid cousin.

History, however proves that the teacher alone is more valuable than the entire army and makes the defining difference to the outcome of the war.

Teachers are rarely beside you in your wars. You have to fight yourself. But what they profess, teach, and impart becomes an invaluable part of you.

Happy Students Day!

Posted in: Festival, Festivals, India, Motivational

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Tale Two – Sita

The Navratri festival is probably the most vibrant festival of India. Spreading across the expanse of India it is celebrated in different hues in different parts of the country each imparting its own flavour.

This is the only festival that lasts nine days and culminates with Dushera. A celebration of the triumph of good over evil.

There are enough tales, plots and sub plots to keep an inquisitive reader engaged for months. Here is a selection of short stories. One story for each of these ten days, to learn more about what made this such an absorbing contest.

Tales of one who had ten heads, yet not a sound mind.

Tale One – Inspiration

Tale Two – Sita

It’s true that what Ravan did was wrong but according to some stories Sita was his daughter.

It’s said that Parvati once asked Lord Shiva to get a permanent house rather than keep wandering. Lord Shiva as he is rightly called ‘Bholenath’ agreed. Since Lanka was being made for his wife, it had to be special and that’s how Golden Lanka came into being designed by Vishwakarma.

At the time of grihapravesh, a yagna had to be organized for which none other than Ravan himself was called since he was the greatest and most learned brahman of that time. After the yagna, when Ravan was asked for his dakshina, he demanded Lanka.

Then another yagna was organized by Lord Shiva and once again Ravan was the priest. On its completion Ravan was offered a fruit by Lord Shiva which had the power to make his wife Mandodari pregnant and bear him a child. On his way back, Ravan felt hungry and unknowingly ate that fruit. When he woke up, he found himself impregnated and his neck getting choked. In his attempt to cough off this choke, his daughter (later called ‘Sita’) was thrown away to some far off land. She was then found by Janaka, the future father-in-law of Lord Ram.

Read Tale Three tomorrow

Posted in: Celebrations, Dussehra, Festival, Festivals, India, Motivational, Navratri

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Tale One – Inspiration

The Navratri festival is probably the most vibrant festival of India. Spreading across the expanse of India it is celebrated in different hues in different parts of the country each imparting its own flavour.

This is the only festival that lasts nine days and culminates with Dushera. A celebration of the triumph of good over evil.

There are enough tales, plots and sub plots to keep an inquisitive reader engaged for months. Here is a selection of short stories. One story for each of these ten days, to learn more about what made this such an absorbing contest.

Tales of one who had ten heads, yet not a sound mind.

Tale One – Inspiration

One day, Kuber, came to see his parents boarded on his aircraft- Pushpak Viman. After he returned to Lanka, Ravan, who was very much impressed by Kuber’s royal appearance asked his mother, Kaikasi, who was this person and from where has he acquired such an amazing aircraft? Kaikasi revealed to Ravan that the guest was none other than his step-brother Kuber, the son of his step mother – Mandakini.  Kuber had made his mother proud by his conduct, but she herself was ashamed of her son, Ravan because of his inconsequential existence. He was no better than a worm.

Ravan decided to prove his mother wrong by acquiring insurmountable power and authority. Ravan went to the forest and performed an austere penance for ten thousand years by standing on one foot. He fixed his gaze at the sun and never for a moment did he remove his gaze from it. At last, Lord Brahma was pleased and blessed Ravan with a vast kingdom.

Read Tale Two tomorrow

Posted in: Dussehra, Festival, Festivals, India, Motivational, Navratri

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Threads of Bonding

ThreadRituals and practices are followed and passed on to generations. But many a times, what is not passed on, are the reasons, the significance and their meaning. Some rituals carry on, some don’t and gradually they either remain symbolic or lose their significance.

In a few days, most of India will celebrate the annual festival, Raksha Bandhan. It is one of those festivals that has no complexity about it. The sister tying a thread on the brother’s wrist as an expression of solidarity between them.

Do we need these festivals to remind us of these relationships? Do such symbolic exercises have any relevance in the modern world?

Most festivals or customs have their roots in an incident or practice and Raksha Bandhan is no exception. It is to its credit that fresh inspirations in various forms have kept this festival alive and fresh hues keep getting added to its colourful past.

More than the sibling relationships, what has contributed to its stature and popularity has been the thread of relationships this practice has been able to bind with others in the same spirit.

I am taken aback reading a legend that in 326 BC, when Alexander the Great invaded India, Roxana, his wife sent a sacred thread to Porus, the king of India, asking him not to harm Alexander in battle. On the battlefield, when Porus was about to deliver the final blow to Alexander, he was reminded by the thread on his wrist and respected her wish by refraining from attacking him personally.

So can such symbols of relationship be alive in today’s virtual world. Yes and no.

Yes, festivals and customs do serve as a healthy reminder of our culture, our customs, our responsibilities, and help us recollect the glorious past, and refresh our relationships. They offer opportunities to repair strained relationships, and a ready excuse to those looking to rebuild relations.

No, it is of no use if festivals are used as a once-a-year ritual which one recollects at a particular time of the year and slips back to the comfort of complacency after the passing of the festival.

Most festivals make only an annual appearance. They come for a purpose – to remind, repair, refresh and rejuvenate their significance. But they will serve their purpose only when these threads get woven into the fabric of our lives.

The threads that bond are those that will remain strong and carry the weight of relationships. And it is these relationships, you realize, is what bond you to life.

Posted in: Festival, Festivals

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