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Showing posts from September, 2013

The Return of The King

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King Mahabali belongs to the Daitya clan of Asuras. Like his grandfather, the famous Prahlada, son of Hiranyakashyapu, Mahabali too holds a special place in Hindu mythology. The word ‘asura’ evokes a mental picture of a rakshasa – evil and cruel. In fact, the most famous Asuras – be it Ravana, or even Hiranyakashyapu for that matter, were all men of stupendous qualities. Their intelligence, ability to govern, prowess in warfare are all legendry. The name ‘asura’ is really a play on the word ‘sura’. It is said that during the Samudra manthan – or the churning of the primordial ocean – all kinds of celestial things emerged from the ocean. These were distributed among the two parties – the devas and asuras. It so happened that Varuni, daughter of Varuna and goddess of wine, emerged carrying the ‘sura’ or the intoxicant. She appeared dishevelled and shabby, and to top it, she was quarrelsome. The asuras were quite naturally reluctant to accept the sura from her – hence the name a-sura.

The Art of Chaklis

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As an Iyengar, Gokulashtami is the most important festival for me. This festival has always meant serious business as far as I’m concerned – none of that easy cheer of a Deepavali. It is one of the toughest celebrations. Now those two words together are intriguing. But it’s true. The preparation for Gokulashtami is not for the weak-hearted. Krishna was born some 5000 odd years ago, in the month of July. Isn’t it absolutely fascinating that 5000 years down the line, we still herald His coming with the same fervour?
I don’t know how the tradition of making specific kinds of food for specific festivals started. But it interests me no end. Food, and everything that revolves around food – the way it is prepared, served, eaten – has always been an integral part of every ancient civilisation. Food keeps communities together, and is an essential component of the culture that is propagated down the generations. Elsewhere, I’d mused about the prasada made for Ram Navami – the ‘chitranna’ (lem…