Monday, February 29, 2016

Today is Day 1 of 366, Happy Leap Year!

Today is 29th February, day 1 of a year of 366 days instead of the usual 365. So it is a special day and every special day is to celebrate and be happy. Happy Leap Year; to one and all.
Our little celebration started yesterday itself. We watched the lovely movie ‘Leap Year’ last evening – an American romantic comedy film directed by Anand Tucker. We watched it soon after its release in 2010 and then on the Leap Day in 2012. Lovely movie, wish you can watch it today, it has a strong Leap Day connection.
India does not have any superstitions and traditions attached to Leap Day or Leap Year. Except for the fact that a child born on 29th February is very special and is mostly introduced by the family as a ‘Leapling’. And the daily wage earners get to earn a day’s extra income in February of Leap Year and the monthly salaried have to work an extra day with no benefit. But elsewhere there are some very strong beliefs…In Finland and Ireland women are advised to propose on Leap Year Day for good luck and a very happy married life. In Greece it is the opposite, getting married in a Leap Year is considered inauspicious. In the movie I mentioned above ‘Leap Year’ a lady by name Anna Brady plans to travel from Boston to Dublin, Ireland, to propose marriage to her boyfriend Jeremy on Leap Day as per Irish tradition and a very interesting and a lovely story unfolds.  You must watch this movie. I have attached the Official Trailer of this movie to enthuse you to watch it.
Now coming to the origin of this tradition, the legend is that St. Brigid of Kildare, a fifth-century Irish nun, asked St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, to grant permission for women to propose marriage after hearing complaints from single women whose suitors were too shy to propose. Initially, he granted women permission to propose only once every seven years, but at Brigid’s insistence, he acceded and allowed proposals every Leap Day. The folk tale tells that Brigid then dropped to a knee and proposed to St. Patrick that instant, but he refused, kissing her on the cheek and offering a silk gown to soften the disappointment. The Irish tradition therefore demands that any man refusing a woman’s Leap Day-proposal must give her a silk gown.
All this is quite interesting but then why at all this phenomena of Leap Year. The answer is very simple. The standard calendar year is of 365 days but in reality our planet the Earth actually takes 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds to go completely around the Sun. This is called the Solar Year. And in order to keep the calendar cycle synchronized with the seasons, one extra day is (usually) added every four years as February 29th.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Remembering Shakespeare.

News of Shakespeare’s 400th death anniversary observation is everywhere. This news is of great interest to every English speaking person; especially those interested in English literature and have read Shakespeare at School, College or out of interest; his various works. In United Kingdom and at many educational institutions around the world; the year 2016, the year of Shakespeare’s 400th death anniversary is being observed with great reverence by remembering every work of his which has survived for over four centuries. Many magazines are coming out with information about Shakespeare and news about this eventful year. All this news reminds me of his great works, most of which I have read in its original form…the plays, sonnets and poems and some of them as abridged novels and seen them as movies and the feeling is wonderful.
And for those of you who may have forgotten him, which I consider impossible and those who have not heard of him I will mention about him in brief. William Shakespeare is regarded as the greatest writer in English language, he was born on 26th April 1564 at Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, and he was brought up there. Later he had a successful career in London as an actor, writer and part-owner of a Playing Company. He died early at the age of 52 on 23rd April 1616. During his lifetime he wrote 37 plays – 17 comedies, 10 histories and 10 tragedies. And he wrote 154 sonnets and 2 long poems. All of them great masterpieces still remembered after 400 years. And most of his works have been translated into every major language of the world and are being enacted in those languages.
The above photographs are of the famous full-size marble sculpture of Shakespeare at the British Museum, London, with me standing by its side. This sculpture was commissioned by David Garrick (1717-1779). It was originally placed inside a purpose built, octagonal ‘Temple to Shakespeare’, in the grounds of Garrick’s villa on the bank of River Thames, at Hampton. It was there until 1779, when it was bequeathed, along with Garrick’s books to the British Museum. Later in 2005 it was shifted to the British Library.  
The photograph below is my father’s 65 year old publication of Shakespeare’s Complete Works in the original (1376 pages). I too have read most of it and read it at times now. As the proud inheritor of this book, I have put my name on it. That is our love and admiration for Shakespeare and his works.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Sri Kaleshwara Muktheeshwara Swamy Temple, Kaleshwaram.

Yesterday we accomplished a very significant and essential pilgrimage to the famous and ancient Sri Kaleshwara Muktheeshwara Swamy Devasthanam in Kaleshwaram. This is our very long pending pilgrimage. Though Kaleshwaram is very close to Hyderabad, it took us so long to make it. Kaleshwaram Temple Town is in Mahdevpur Mandal of Karimnagar District - Telangana State, on the banks and at the confluence of River Godavari and River Pranahita. It is just 260 Kms. from our house in Secunderabad, via Warangal City, that is via National Highway NH163 and NH353. This proves that any pilgrimage is according to God’s will.
This is a Temple of Lord Shiva. According to ancient scriptures and folklore it is said that this Temple was established by Lord Yama also known as Kaleshwara (Lord of Narakam). And since 1140 AD there is recorded history of  several Kings who served as great patrons of this Temple. The most important feature of this Temple is the presence of two Shiva Lingams on a single pedestal as you can see in the above picture. And these Shiva idols are located amidst four pillars, so that pilgrims can view and offer their prayers from all four sides. The one to the left in the above picture is of Lord Shiva (Muktheeshwara) and the other to the right is one established by Lord Yama (Kaleshwara). And the name of the Temple goes by the names of these two idols as Kaleshwara Muktheeshwara Swamy Devasthanam / Gudi / Temple. There is a very unique and interesting feature with Lord Muktheeshwara Lingam – it has two holes on the top, each of about 40 mm in dia. The Abhishekam milk and water of any quantity cannot fill these holes, it is said that it flows freely through an underground passage to the nearby Sangam of River Godavari, River Pranahita and River Sarswathi.  
The Temple is said to have divine powers and the prayers and wishes of deserving devotees are granted.

For more information about the Temple you may see the detailed Video (in Telugu) which I have provided towards the end of this article. 

VIDEOS:

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Voicing my concern about yellow journalism.

Voicing my concern about yellow journalism on facebook:
The quality of democracy and the quality of journalism are deeply entwined.
-Bill Moyers.   
Some journalists are like dogs, whenever anything moves they begin to bark.
-Arthur Schopenhauer.
And some of these are mad dogs, barking continuously, bent upon disturbing peace and destroying every good around us. Media which is called one of the pillars of Democracy should not behave in such a destructive manner.
Someone please end this menace.
-N.Raghu.
…And one section of the media supports and glorifies such treachery. This is very dangerous for any country.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Happy Valentine’s Day Celebration! – 2016.

We had a nice evening yesterday, on the occasion of Valentine’s Day. It was a very happy occasion that lasted until well after dinner. Every one enjoyed the party as you can see in the attached pictures.
Celebrations make life more enjoyable and fun. Apart from our very own religious and traditional celebrations round the year, there are birthdays, national holidays, festivals of other religions, family get-togethers and many commemorative days of foreign origin that we get to enjoy. For example Mother’s Day, Women’s Day and Valentine’s Day are all adding up to our own festivals for girls and women like Rakhi Pournami. Many such celebrations spread love and affection and give as a special opportunity to express our thanks. Celebrations are very important and without them we cannot enjoy life fully.
I do not know whether any other country has so much to celebrate. In the past even without foreign influence India had much to celebrate. It is said that we had a festival in India somewhere or the other, every day of the year, 365 days in a year! For instance there was a celebration on the day of commencing ploughing, on the occasion of procuring new implements or equipment, one for planting day, one for weeding and then for harvesting. Many are now neglected or forgotten or observed without much enthusiasm. But thanks to newer occasions we get to celebrate (additionally), so that we can enjoy, express our love, affection and gratitude to those so close to us.

Kamadhenu – the sacred cow which grants all wishes and desires!

Universally it is a well known fact that Hindus venerate and worship cows.  Cows are considered as eternal sustainer...