Please read this and stay safe
Here I am reblogging a post written by Alisha Roy who has written an assortment of well meaning posts on South India that I hope will help you get a glimpse into South Indian Life and Traditions
I grow straight up as years go by
from where I can see you below
while trying to eke out a living
going nuts with pressures in life.
The bark, the fronds, the husk
the nut flesh, the water and oil
do know I got everything to offer
as food or fuel to run your life.
Taste the milk from the nuts
enjoy the pure coconut water
you can eat the sweet ripe flesh
all you need to help preserve yours.
While stranded on a beach
waiting for help to arrive soon
pray to get an instance of me nearby
have the sense to break open the fruit.
To feed your thoughts and good self
do plant my seedlings and see me grow
you won’t be disappointed ever in life
for the Lord did make our lifespans equal.
Coming back to playtime during school days in the late 70’s in Mumbai. We did have the physical training classes but the instructor was always missing and therefore were free to play any of the games that we liked to. Some of us used to run around the school building in a “Catch me if you can” game, some used to loiter around the playground and others would visit hawkers who used to descend during that time, while some used to be in the classroom, playing with paper made balls and whatnot’s.
During recess time, there used to come, a few hawkers who could understand our weakness for sweets, especially the chikkis(sweet made of groundnuts and jaggery) and the cotton candy, the sugar balloons that we used to call them during those time. The chikkiwala (hawker who sold the chikki) had a chisel with him which was used to chisel out portions of chikki from his large circular plate, which he used to keep on his bamboo stand, away from our prying hands if not from our eyes. I thought during those times the chikki was costlier than gold, the way he used to hand it over to us for our 5 or 10 paise coins.
The process of making the cotton candies was enchanting for us, as the hawker used to make it a point to do the preparation in front of our eyes, so that most of us would come out and stand around him rather than going to any other optional hawker who offered his services to us on that day.
Since we used to reach home by 1 PM, there was plenty of time after lunch for a quick nap, and then to look up your books, or keep it for the evening and dash off to play with your friends from the building blocks for a game of cricket, marbles, bow and arrows, where both bow and arrow was made of discarded umbrella frames in the rainy days, or roll a metal ring across the roads barefoot and maneuver them brilliantly. These rings were from automobile frames, and so on..every metal thing in those days had a value as far as kids were concerned..
After such games or a round of story telling where kids used to gather around a story teller, who was one among them, and the sun setting would take them to their homes to ponder over their books and deciding priorities as to which homework needed to be completed based on the strictness of the subject teacher. By 8:00 PM most of us used to hit the bed to be in shape for another day at school that started at 7:00 AM.
This was the regular routine unless one fell sick when he or she had the complete dayin bed to give free way to the thoughts that used to hover in the mind like butterflies around a flower.
Then came the short vacations in the form of Diwali and Christmas, when one used to pay visit to relatives staying in the same city, and spend days with the cousins going to parks and beaches. Most of the time in such visited houses was spent in reading since most of them used to go to work and we would have to wait for them to take us out, when they returned from their respective offices.
The Summer vacations were a time when most of the kids used to go to their native homes that used to be in the same state or in different states. There were also a few who had no native homes to go to, so they stayed in the city and played all day except for going home for certain breaks. Since it was hot, some parents did not allow their wards to play in the sun, so playtime was restricted to, in the morning and the afternoons when the shadows came on to the playing grounds. During the rainy season, the ground would be transformed to a football ground. During a long lasting shower, this could become a mixture of fine clay, when some of us would try our hands at pottery.
During summer, when the bullock carts came laden with ice meant for restaurants, that was covered with saw dust and jute blankets to keep it from melting, all of us would rush behind him. As he took his knife to cut out the ice block, we stood in attention, to gobble up the pieces of ice that would get scattered on his cart. Come marriage in nearby community halls, we would rush to savor the ice cream and the cool soft drinks, unwelcome visitors though we were, the host never did mind us visiting such reception parties…
It is still dark in the city as the sun was yet to wake up at the horizon from his deep slumber late last evening. It seemed he was tired of peeking through the clouds brought about by a cyclone that had ravaged many a southern state and was still streaking to conquer uncharted territories on the Indian west coast trying to make a landfall before it died down. The Ockhi cyclone had made a surprise appearance at the southern tip of India and churned the Indian ocean and the Arabian sea much to the horror of coastal towns and villages and had played with the lives of the fisherman community who had travelled the high seas during the last few days. Though it ran shy of the indian coast so far, the wind the churning waves and the rain had in its grip the towns of Kanyakumari, Nagercoil, the Kerala coast and had ravaged Lakshadweep islands, the damage of which is still to be known.
The newspaper boy had already started his work near one of the many bus stops in the city, trying to sort out the many news papers and magazines that he need to carry across to homes to those news hungry and elderly people who would wait for him for happy tidings as he would swirl the newspaper at them from a safe distance. He still had a good aim to reach somewhere near their outstretched hands, as if it was a offering from the gods at dawn.
But today, the winds and the slight rain had made his job difficult. Navigating his cycle through the pools of water on the streets from the overnight rains, he had to go and find out a dry stretch on the steps of each house where he could safely deliver the paper full of news that should not be drenched while his eager readers this day decided to stay within the safe confines of their home instead of looking out to welcome him.
Running late, he saw the morning sun after so many days in his distribution work. The sun with a mighty effort had finally gathered himself and had started his journey across the still cloudy skies. As he looked down, the only movement he could detect was a tiny boy braving the cold windy weather going to each home with a sheaf of papers…
1. Born to Dashratha, King of Ayodhya
Rama, the eldest among four sons
cheerful, loved by all, and yet so humble
a great son to a great father was he.
2. Rama of Kausalya and Bharata of Kaikeyi
Lakshmana and Shatrughana of Sumitra
four pillars of strength to the King Dashratha
Ayodhya glowed with due resplendence.
3. In those days the earth was abound with
the rakshashas, the so called demons
who created fear wherever they roamed
in holy saints and mighty human kings.
4. Their king, Ravana who ruled Lanka
with great warriors in his army
he had subdued even the devas
on account of boons got from Brahma.
5. With his son Indrajith, a warrior
master of black magic and many astras
with his maya powers was unconquerable
even Indra got defeated by him.
6. Ravana had asked immunity from gods
the gandharvas and the yakshas
as boons from Brahma during his tapas
but not from man whom he thought puny.
7. Rama, of the solar dynasty, the race
had mighty kings Ikshavaku and Sagara
with Anshuman and Bhageeratha
the oceans and the Ganges we had.
8. One day, of Dashratha, was requested
services of Rama by the sage Vishwamitra
who himself was a great King, now a sage
master of every weapon, a Brahmarishi.
9. It was a thirst to rival Vasishta, the sage
that Vishwamitra became a Brahmarishi
the progress towards it contains a story
that fills pages with unraveled glory.
10. With Vishwamitra conducting a yagaa
let Rama be on guard for destroying
the rakshasas who defile the yaaga
as they shower unclean items on it.
11. Vishwamitra could destroy them
being a dignified sage, he less wished
merits to be wasted on curse or injury
though being master of every astra.
12. Dashratha not willing to let go of Rama
but with an unflinching Vishwamitra,
whose anger the world had known
was advised by preceptor Vasishta to let go.
13. The sage with Rama and Lakshmana
the princes by his side, as they walked
resembled a force, no evil could face
safeguard the ritual was the holy goal.
14. On the way, the sage, a great teacher
initiated the two princes with the astras
the use of weapons and how to recall
memorize and equip them for future.
15. After six days and nights, upon arrival
Maareecha was thrown to a long distance
and Subaahu killed on the spot with others
fruitful end of the yaaga and the rakshasas.
16. On the way back, the sage, all knowing
took the princes through the city of Mithila
ruled by the great King Janaka, a beloved
daughter Sita, a kind and beautiful soul.
17. The city of Mithila, ruled by Janaka
where Sita would wed a prince
who would lift and string the bow of Siva
a lot of suitors had come for her and failed.
18. Janaka was happy to see the Sage illustrious
with the two charming princes who glowed
by blessings of the sage and by royal birth
Happy he was, who wished Rama be a suitor.
19. On that auspicious day, hinted by Janaka
Rama was to be shown the great bow
when Rama, lifted, strung and then bent it
joy broke out among all those, Sita included.
20. Sita garlanded Rama, her Lord for great years
messengers in haste to Ayodhya, with glad news
royal court so happy, with mothers waiting for
Rama who defeated the asuras and wed Sita.
21. When Dashratha decided to crown Rama
Kaikeyi coaxed him to change on bestowed vows
Rama be sent to the forest for 14 long years
let her son Bharata be anointed the crown.
22. When the news broke out, Rama was silent
it was important he followed his father wishes
with Sita and Lakshmana, both unrelenting
to stay back, while he roamed the forests alone.
23. That night when Rama left, the great King
Dashratha passed away and gloom descended
Bharatha not in town not aware of happenings
when called for, he did best what he had in mind.
24. He and his retinue went on the look out
found Rama in the forest and pressed him
to return to his rightful place and crown
Rama remained firm, to honor his vow
to a great father who was now lost to him.
25. Bharata was to return and rule
the brother his mission failed assumed
the role of a caretaker by installing Rama
in his heart and his sandals on the crown.
26. The stay in Chitrakoota at first
then the dandaka forest, was spent well
initially in the company of sages
who welcomed them with all hearts.
27. The time of thirteen years had passed
the events had to change for the purpose
of Rama’s birth, the fall of Ravana
was initiated by the latter’s sister.
28. Soorpanakha, on seeing Rama
desired him to have as her husband
but Rama dodged her to Lakshmana
and the latter again sent her to Rama.
29. When she knew they were playing
becoming angry and rushed upon Sita
mutilated, she ran to her brothers
Khaara and Dooshana, stationed nearby.
30. Having related to them the happenings
her brothers came with great numbers
Raama single handedly dealt with them
the death blow, causing great rage in Lanka.
31. Akampana a survivor reached Lanka
Ravana beset with rage not knowing
how dare a man cause such great havoc
the best way to punish him, he consulted.
32. Hearing Sita’s beauty from Soorpanakha
he decided to covet her, and kill Rama
but was advised by Mareecha not to proceed
but prevailed upon, they set together on a plan.
33. With a wily disguise, Mareecha as a deer
a golden beauty, the sight bewitching to Sita
imploring Rama to get it for her as a pet
Rama went after the deer for a distance.
34. Rama knowing the demon in deer shot him
when Mareecha regained his form he cried
his last act in the staged play, before he died
Mareecha cried out exactly in Rama’s voice.
35. As Rama’s voice in distress reached
confused Sita asked Lakshmana to go
who stood his ground, as per his duty
an angry Sita drove him away weeping.
36. When Lakshmana out of the scene,
Ravana stepped in a mendicant’s form
with respect, he introduced his greatness
when Sita angrily rebuked, he took her away.
37. When Rama saw Lakshmana, he feared greatly
they being tricked, hastily hurrying back
not seeing her at the hut, where could she be
was she playing a prank or did someone take her?
38. When Ravana sped fast in his puskpaka
he fought the opposing Jataayu, the aging eagle
Sita removed some of her jewels hastily
dropping them, to a group of monkeys below.
39. The brothers came upon poor Jataayu
in his last moments, who told what happened
before dying a brother who tried his best
failure, it does come even to the invincible.
40. On the way they came upon a Rakshasa
he was released from the curse, when killed
the divine being told them to seek Sugreeva
who would help them in their quest for Sita.
41. Vaali and Sugreeva, brothers of great power
once when an asura challenged Vaali to a duel
they fought for many days in a mountain cave
fearing Vaali had perished, Sugreeva blocked it
42. Sugreeva came back to be crowned king
when Vaali weary with fight came back
he drove Sugreeva out while keeping his wife
wasn’t Vaali resembling the like of Ravana?
43. Hanuman who was Sugreeva’s minister
a great communicator, he was his strength
when Rama and Lakshmana came looking
Hanuman was sent to know, if friend or foe.
44. It was Sugreeva to whom Sita had dropped
the jewels when she saw the group of five
the only way was to restore to Sugreeva
his kingdom Kishkindha of wise monkeys.
45. It was difficult to kill Vaali face to face
with Indra’s necklace he could not be won
when Sugreeva and Vaali in a close duel
arrow from Rama killed Vaali from behind.
46. With Sugreeva back as Vanara chief
he decided to sent his people as scouts
in all directions, scores were sent out
the best headed south where Ravana flew.
47. With Hanuman and Angada
the crown prince and Vaali’s son
with Jambavaan the king of bears
why wouldn’t the south group succeed?
48. Rama had full faith in Hanuman
gave his ring and a certain incident
so that Hanuman could be trusted
if he should be able to speak to Sita.
49. The search party arrived at the shore
the sea seemed a hurdle as it lay across
they saw Sampati, the aged eagle brother
told him about Jataayu and he about Lanka.
50. Lanka was at a distance of 100 yoganas
the vanaaras in the group when asked
some could jump 10, or even 50 not more
Angada could do one way but not two.
51. When Jaambavan reminded Hanuman
about his hidden prowess, the son of Vaayu
grew in stature and made a huge form
before making that leap of faith to far Lanka.
52. On the way he met a few friends and foes
but humble as he was, with great faith
he could well explain or swiftly destroy
as there was no time to talk or rest.
53. Landing as a small ape, he was startled
by the guardian goddess who slapped him
she was stunned when he slapped back
the fall of the city started as she vanished.
54. Hanuman went in search of mother Sita
he searched every palace, adorned by riches
where great men and women rested in peace
but not Sita in these places without any peace.
55. He came upon a calm, pleasant garden
was it Sita sitting, surrounded by women
guarding her fearfully, when he saw Ravana
walking to her and telling her to yield to him.
56. Hanuman in his tiny form, hidden in the tree
below where Sita sat, sang the praise of Rama
in a language, even great scholars could not
Sita having seen him, was still not convinced.
57. Hanuman then showed her Rama’s ring
and the incidents only known to them
consoled was she, now that they knew
her Lord would come to rescue her.
58. Hanuman decided to strike some terror
they should know about Rama, his army
he laid waste the garden which caused
the news about him, reported to Ravana.
59. Thinking it was some wicked monkey
he sent a few soldiers who were slain soon
then he sent a fierce warrior, Jambumali
who too was slain, causing discomfort.
60. Ravana then dispatched his son Aksha
a disciplined and formidable warrior
but he too was sent to the heavens
causing the great Indrajit to step in.
61. When all weapons of great strength
failed to effect Hanuman, the great son
of Ravana sent the Brahmastra
and bound by it, Hanuman lay motionless.
62. The rakshasas surrounded Hanuman
bound him by ropes and presented him
before the ten headed seated Ravana
the monkey will be shown his stature.
63. The brahmastra could not effect Hanuman
because of an earlier boon from Brahma himself
the tying of ropes on a person already bound
would diminish the effects of that great astra.
64. First counsel to Ravana was to kill the vanara
but Vibhishana, his brother a kindhearted soul
prevailed to spare the life of naughty Hanuman
as per dharma, was it proper to kill a messenger?
65. Second counsel was to put fire to his tail
loads of cloth were brought and soaked in oil
bound to the tail which seemed to increase
the length but they lit it up not knowing him.
66. Before the happy rakshasas would know
the great servant of Rama shook his bonds
flew up into the sky and set fire to the palaces
all places he could think of to scare them.
67. He rushed to Sita, was she affected?
so glad to see her safe and sound
apprising her of what happened, assuring her
the army of Rama will appear soon to free her.
68. Hanuman, his mission accomplished
with acknowledgements from Sita received
he flew across the sea and patted the mountain
which rose to offer him rest, he while on a hurry.
69. Having landed in front of his friends
who were getting worried on his delay
he told them of of his visit in Lanka
joyfully they resumed back to Rama.
70. Rama mighty pleased to see Hanuman
to hear of his valorous deeds of crossing
and having seen his beloved wife Sita
sad of her plight told in far off Lanka.
71. Sugreeva gave orders to call all divisions
monkeys and bears came from all corners
the army of Sugreeva was a sight to behold
they marched southwards to the great sea.
72. The sea, a challenge to be tided over
for the mighty warriors to cross over
for not all could jump as Hanuman did
the need of the hour was a quick bridge.
73. Back in Lanka, Ravana held a call
on the damage done by Rama’s ape
how best we could destroy this army
Vibheeshana had a good solution.
74. Return Sita to Rama and fall
at his feet, don’t you know who he is?
this was not acceptable to Ravana
and he drove Vibeeshana out of Lanka.
75. The good souled cast off brother
surrendered to Rama, knowing him
though others were wary of acceptance
Rama crowned him as a future King.
76. Rama prayed to the sea god
to help him tide over the problem
the sea god appeared and said
he could only help maintain a bridge.
77. Why worry when you among have
Nala, son of the great Vishwakarma,
advised the sea god to Rama
he will be your architect to you
just as his father was to the gods.
78. The call was to bring stones and trees
great columns of these dropped
the sea held still on to these rocks
the army of soldiers built it fast.
79. The big army marched on the bridge
it was a matter of time before they reached
the shores of Lanka, a city waiting to fall
days before the war cry would sound.
80. Before the war was set to begin
Rama decided to give Ravana a last chance
he sent Angada the prince as a messenger
again the great lord of Lanka did not listen.
81. The war had begun with both armies
formidable, one with rocks and trees
the other with shields, arrows and clubs
blood flowed in torrents, a sight to behold.
82. Ravana sent Indrajith when he found
the balance uneven, who fired naga darts
that felled Rama and Lakshmana
to the bewilderment of the vanara army.
83. Soon Garuda the eagle king flew to the scene
seeing their sworn enemy, snake darts vanished
stroking the brothers now revived by his feathers
the great bird disappeared into the distance
84. With the war going at full swing
a lot of warriors falling on Ravana’s side
he ordered to wake up Kumbakarna
from his sleep, for he alone was enough.
85. With his deep sleep disturbed
the great giant brother of Ravana
enquired as to what had happened
knowing that Rama had arrived.
86. Not approving of Ravana’s act
of having brought Sita to Lanka
he had gone off to sleep as his curse
for six months just before the war.
87. His sleep disturbed, Kumbakarna
duty bound now strode into battle
causing great havoc among the vanaras
Rama killed him before he could kill more.
88. Indrajith again dispatched this time
fired the Brahmaastra on the brothers
the great weapon, though did strike them
they fell in a swoon, but appeared dead.
89. The might vanara camp became gloomy
to the glee of the losing Rakshasa army
Ravana in great joy ordered Sita to be shown
the plight of her lord grounded from the air.
90. Jambavaan sent for Hanuman
to fetch the sanjeevani herb from north
that alone could rid the effects of the astra
restoring the princes to their original glory.
91. Hanuman took upon the task
no task appeared huge for him
only one thing mattered, his master
should come back to win this war.
92. He took some time to identify the herbs
failing, he picked up the whole hillock
with his hugh frame, flying back to Lanka
with the sanjeevani given, all was well.
93. With fresh hopes, the vanara army attacked
the gates of Lanka, and this time Indrajith
again had to come out as even Prahastha
Ravana’s commander in chief had perished.
94. Lakshmana riding on Hanuman shoulders
struck a duel with Indrajith, astra to astra
finally delivering the Indrastra on Indrajith
which struck him dead and Ravana in sorrow.
95. For Ravana, all these warriors now dead
who had acquired boons and master of weapons
who had defeated the gods was wonderstruck
as to whether Rama was Narayana himself.
96. With no one in the camp left, as a general
it was Ravana himself who marched out to battle
Vibeeshana pointing out to Rama where he was
Rama thought, a great warrior but had to be slain.
97. A great battle ensued between the ten headed
and the vanara warriors, and chiefs combined
but Ravana the matchless warrior that he was
duly dispatched them back with sore injuries.
98. The two Lords, warriors faced each other
one had acquired boons and absorbed sins
the other having the blessings of the blessed
the gods came out to see the great duel that day.
99. Darts flew from both Rama and Ravana
each astra was met by a matching astra
finally Ravana’s chariot was shattered
while he looked defeated, Rama sent him back.
100. The next day, with many ill omens
Ravana came out to face Rama once again
the battle took place for a long time
when Indra sent his chariot for Rama.
101. Standing in the godly chariot
Rama shone like the sun of the solar dynasty
his prowess unequalled sending shafts
that each time defied the ones Ravana sent.
102. Finally the time has come, may I
remind you, said the charioteer to Rama
of the Brahmastra that should be fired
when Rama with a sigh, applied the mantra.
103. The great astra flew and struck Ravana
and what a great fall that was
the invincible and unconquerable once
now fell lifeless to the ground heavily.
104. There was great jubilation
every person in the Ravana camp
was spared and treated very well
on orders from Rama and Vibeeshana.
105. Finally Sita was free and back with Rama
with Vibeeshana now made king of Lanka,
Rama along with his devoted wife and brother
flew to Ayodhya in the pushpaka vimana.
106. It is said that Sugreeva and Vibheeshana
with Hanuman accompanied the raghu princes
on the way to Ayodhya, with other vanaras
who played important roles in the war.
107. The vimana landed at an Ashrama
of Bharadwaja the sage for the night
before Hanuman could inform Bharata
who ruled Ayodhya from his ashrama.
108. Bharata mighty pleased meets Rama
on whose behalf he had ruled 14 long years
and returns the kingdom to the rightful king
thus ends the Ramayana signifying victory over evil.
The Nation of a billion
with cultures a zillion
with millions in bullion
emblem with multi lion
women with vermilion
currencies in trillion
army always in battalion
with many a medallion
scooters rode on a pillion
the nation of many a lion.
I wish all my Indian readers , a Happy Independence Day!