Posts Tagged ‘Culture

16
Oct
09

Boxing Day

Boxing Day is a bank holiday or a public holiday in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and countries in the Commonwealth of Nations with a mainly Christian population.

The name derives from the English tradition giving gifts (a “Christmas box”) to less fortunate members of society in the days when people worked in rural economies such as estates or hundreds. It later extended to service workers (traditionally laborers, servants, service staff, postal workers and tradespeople) in the United Kingdom.

This website lists some interesting ways in Christmas boxes have been used. Christmas boxes were placed in ships as a good luck device. Crewmen would drop money into the box and if the ship returned safely, the box would be handed over to the Priest who would open it on Christmas and share the contents with the poor.

Boxing Day is traditionally celebrated on 26 December, St. Stephen’s Day, and the day after Christmas Day.  Unlike St. Stephen’s Day, Boxing Day has become a secular holiday and is not always on 26 December: its associated public holiday can be moved to the next weekday if 26 December is a Saturday or Sunday. The date of observance of Boxing Day varies between countries.

26
Sep
09

Maha Ashtami Durga Puja

It’s the most important day of the 5 day festivity…when every Bengali would be involved in the affair! It starts with the Pushpanjali where people offer flowers and pray to goddess Durga for strength and power.

As this website elaborates, an integral and important part of Durga Puja, Sandhi Puja is performed at the juncture of the 8th and 9th lunar day. Sandhi puja lasts from the last 24 minutes of Ashtami till the first 24 minutes of Nabami. During this juncture  (the “Sandhikhan”), Durga is worshipped in her Chamunda form. Devi Durga killed, Chando and Mundo, the two asuras at “Sandhikhan” and thus acquired the name of “Chamunda”.

Long back devotees in order  to perform the Sandhi Puja at the exact juncture used a number of methods. With the last 24 mins. of the Ashtami puja still left, a bronze bowl with a tiny hole was placed in a bucket full of water. The bowl  with the tiny hole was made in such a way that it took exactly 24 minutes for the bowl to submerge in the water. The moment the bowl submerged in the water cannon balls were fired announcing this moment of Sandhi Puja. This yardstick for measuring the “Sandhikhan” was very popular ages ago in many “Rajbaris”. Many “Rajbaris”, including, the zamindar of Sutanuti of Sobhabajar Rajbari  fired cannon balls to announce the “Sandhikhan”. (Read more)

19
Sep
09

Mahalaya

With Durga Puja around the corner, Calcutta is getting all geared up for the 4 days of festivity. Yesterday happened to be Mahalaya, which is observed seven days before the Pujas. The dark fortnight of Aswayuja is known as the Mahalaya Paksha or the fortnight specially sacred for offering oblations to the departed ancestors. Durga – goddess of deliverance – comes to earth on the seventh day after the autumn new moon.

From this day starts ‘Devipaksha’ and marks the end of ‘Pitri-paksha’. It is the day when many throng to the banks of river Ganga, clad in dhotis to offer prayers to their dead relatives and forefathers. People in the pre-dawn hours pray for their demised relatives and take holy dips in the Ganges. This ritual is known as ‘Torpon’. This day bears immense significance for the Bengalis. It is according to the myths that Sree Rama hastily performed Durga Puja just before he set for Lanka to rescue Sita from Ravana.

One more thing which is very closely related to this day is the early morning programme broadcasted over the radio ‘Akashvani’. In the year 1930, Mahalaya was first broadcasted over the radio in Akashvani. The programme was organised by Premankur Aatorthi, Birendra Krishna Bhadra, Nripendra Krishna Mukhopadhya and Raichand Boral. It was broadcasted live then. Later it was recorded and played. It is a practice in almost all Bengali homes to listen to this programme. Strangely, although many popular cine stars had tried to recite the same Shlokas and even television channels have attempted at it, even till date it is the original version which almost every Bengali home would be tuning into in the pre-dawn hours of Mahalaya.

Click here and here to read more.

08
Aug
09

Halloween

Have always been curious about this particular tradition observed in many western countries and hence decided to look it up.
The history – Halloween has origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain. The festival of Samhain is a celebration of the end of the harvest season in Gaelic culture, and is sometimes regarded as the “Celtic New Year”.Traditionally, the festival was a time used by the ancient Celtic pagans to take stock of supplies and slaughter livestock for winter stores. The ancient Celts believed that on October 31, now known as Halloween, the boundary between the living and the deceased dissolved, and the dead become dangerous for the living by causing problems such as sickness or damaged crops. The festivals would frequently involve bonfires, into which the bones of slaughtered livestock were thrown. Costumes and masks being worn at Halloween goes back to the Celtic traditions of attempting to copy the evil spirits or placate them, in Scotland for instance where the dead were impersonated by young men with masked, veiled or blackened faces, dressed in white.
Halloween is not celebrated in all countries and regions of the world, and among those that do the traditions and importance of the celebration vary significantly. Celebration in the United States has had a significant impact on how the holiday is observed in other nations. The history of Halloween traditions in a given country also lends context to how it is presently celebrated. In North America, Christian attitudes towards Halloween are quite diverse. In the Anglican Church, some dioceses have chosen to emphasize the Christian traditions of All Saints’ Day, while some other Protestants celebrate the holiday as Reformation Day, a day of remembrance and prayers for unity.
There are several games traditionally associated with Halloween parties. One common game is dunking or apple bobbing, in which apples float in a tub or a large basin of water the participants must use their teeth to remove an apple from the basin (to make things even more challenging, try removing the stems from the apples). Another common game involves hanging up treacle or syrup-coated scones by strings; these must be eaten without using hands while they remain attached to the string, an activity that inevitably leads to a very sticky face.

Have always been curious about this particular tradition observed in many western countries and hence decided to look it up.

Halloween has origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain. The festival of Samhain is a celebration of the end of the harvest season in Gaelic culture, and is sometimes regarded as the “Celtic New Year”.Traditionally, the festival was a time used by the ancient Celtic pagans to take stock of supplies and slaughter livestock for winter stores. The ancient Celts believed that on October 31, now known as Halloween, the boundary between the living and the deceased dissolved, and the dead become dangerous for the living by causing problems such as sickness or damaged crops. The festivals would frequently involve bonfires, into which the bones of slaughtered livestock were thrown. Costumes and masks being worn at Halloween goes back to the Celtic traditions of attempting to copy the evil spirits or placate them, in Scotland for instance where the dead were impersonated by young men with masked, veiled or blackened faces, dressed in white.

Halloween is not celebrated in all countries and regions of the world, and among those that do the traditions and importance of the celebration vary significantly. Celebration in the United States has had a significant impact on how the holiday is observed in other nations. The history of Halloween traditions in a given country also lends context to how it is presently celebrated. In North America, Christian attitudes towards Halloween are quite diverse. In the Anglican Church, some dioceses have chosen to emphasize the Christian traditions of All Saints’ Day, while some other Protestants celebrate the holiday as Reformation Day, a day of remembrance and prayers for unity.

There are several games traditionally associated with Halloween parties. One common game is dunking or apple bobbing, in which apples float in a tub or a large basin of water the participants must use their teeth to remove an apple from the basin (to make things even more challenging, try removing the stems from the apples). Another common game involves hanging up treacle or syrup-coated scones by strings; these must be eaten without using hands while they remain attached to the string, an activity that inevitably leads to a very sticky face.

17
Jun
09

Why is Mundan mandatory for any Indian child?

There are traditional many rituals that surround the birth of child in a typical Indian family. These traditions and rituals aim at blessing the child to have a long fulfilling life. One of these sacred ceremonies is known as Mundan Sanskar or the first haircut of the baby.

There are religious as well as medical reasons for the same.

According to the Hindu beliefs, the hair present at birth is supposed to represent unwanted traits from the past lives. In order to make sure that the child has no undesirable qualities of the past birth in this life, the head is shaved off to ensure a new beginning and a fresh start.

Medically, it is said that shaving off the hair stimulates the cells and improves blood circulation to the brain.




So what’s this blog about?

Another attempt? Well yes. Attempting to figure out another sustainable model (there are some other attempts going on parallel-ly). Well, we have a lot of questions in mind. we read up stuff, we do some research to find answers to these questions. This is an attempt to publish that little 15-20 minute research.
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