The First Night of Navaratri
Aditi, Aparna, Malini, Nalini, Nandini, Sandhya, Medha, Ranjani, Rajni, Gauri, Nirupama, Savitri, Madhumati Yashasvini Sandhya, Vidya, Damini, Jaya, Sridevi, Meenakshi, Mohini, Lalita, Jayanti, Sita, Uma, Madhavi, Prabha, Indrani, Shalini, Arundhati, Nidhi, Sudha, Amruta, Shraddha, Radha, Tara not to mention Saraswati and Lakshmi. Just think of how many girls or women you know who have one of these names. All names of the Goddess. It’s my guesstimate – and probably a conservative one - that over half of all the girls in India have been named after Her. I recently heard a beautiful explanation about why we name our children after our deities.
Other than because it is auspicious etc., etc., it is also so that if in no other way, then in each time we call out their name, we have remembered God!
Today is the 1st of those 9 days in the year that we dedicate to the Goddess. Navratri. Though there are different nuances to this festival in different parts of India, everywhere for these nine days, we celebrate and exult in the Goddess, in her many forms and manifestations. But “Goddess” is a miniscule description of She whom we so often call “Devi.”
Because it is with her that everything began, begins and will begin. And so, nothing, not even a million names and descriptions would ever suffice to describe the infinitude of Her. But the Lalitha Sahasranama is a beautiful place to start. “Lalitha” meaning one the Devi’s most beautiful incarnations and “Sahasranama” meaning a thousand (sahasra) names or descriptors. The sage Agastya dismayed by the way people had become steeped in ignorance and in the pursuit of worldly pleasures, worshipped the Devi Kamakshi at Kanchi for a solution. Lord Hayagriva (an incarnation of Lord Vishnu) appeared before him and gave him the Lalita Sahasranama as the best way to worship the Devi.
When you first hear it, just the sound of the Lalita Sahasranama being chanted, even if you didn’t understand a single word, grandly rumbling and resounding like a symphony of some distant, divine drums have a strange effect – calming, yet energizing; washing over you in wave after wave. But after a while, the meanings begin to filter through. I’m not a Sanskrit scholar, but even to me, who could understand just a few of the thousand names, the awesome beauty came through.
So, this Navaratri, every day, I would like to share with you a few small glimpses of the Devi through extracts from the Lalitha Sahasranama, in the hope that you will be both touched and blessed by Her …..
Tonight is the first of the three days dedicated to Goddess Durga. The name “Durga” in Snaskrit means invincible. Just before the start of the Mahabharata way, Lord Krishna asked Arjuna to pray to the Goddess Durga for victory…..
Saturday, September 19, 2009
The First Night of Navaratri
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
“Yeh gorey-gorey se chorey
Ooh yeah!” (Song from the film Hum Tum)
This is a long pending matter that was crying out to be addressed and a recent episode of dear Barkha’s talk show on the subject opened old wounds. So, after much gnashing of molars, gazing at navel lint and twisting and untwisting of knickers, this is what I have to say in the matter of fairness creams for men.
Now it is true that generations of delicately-bred Indian lassies have been fed a steady, unrelenting diet of Mills & Boon, Georgette Heyer and Barbara Cartland and therefore know that it is mandatory for the chaps who will sweep us off to Happily-Ever-After to be Tall, Dark and Handsome. TDH.
But if truth be told, there are many amongst us – in fact many, many, many-many-many-many amongst us who are actually partial to the TGG section of the male population.
Tall, Gora and Gorgeous. Ooh yeah.
Mithun Chakravorty, Amitabh Bachchan and a few other stalwarts of the TDH community not withstanding.
Naturally, equally as many, many, many, many-many-many-many men twigged on to this little secret of ours early on in the game. And in the hope of acquiring some of the aforementioned TGG, were regularly purloining their behen-bhabhi-mummy’s stock of fairness creams. (Which, though utterly reprehensible, is a far, far better thing, you’ll have to admit, than purloining their behen-bhabhi-but-I-hope-not-mummy’s underwear.) This went on for quite a while until a savvy marketing type stumbled upon one such purloiner (not to be confused with Ajit-the-Loin) and sired…er, I mean launched a fairness cream for men.
Several more followed and ever since, droves of joyous, relieved men have been tumbling out of the TGG closet and rushing off to buy kilofuls of the gora-gunk. And if reports are to be believed, short of slathering it on their morning toast, they are doing everything else with it. (We’re not at liberty to go into the details of “everything else”.)
And my point is this.
I’ll admit it was slightly unnerving to see favourite hot-hunk in a fairness cream commercial. But at least he was not wallowing naked in a bathtub full of rose petals as Shahrukh “Six-Pack-Shanti” Khan was in that Lux ad, a sight enough to turn your hair into white earthworms. But other than that, I don’t see what all the fuss is about. I mean we already know that there’s a whole lot of waxing and tweezing and exfoliating and buffing (not what you think) going on in circles where once even after-shave lotion was considered namby-pamby. So what’s with the hissing and the heckling over a fairness cream?
Besides, it’s now all out in the open.
We know that you chaps (and your mummies) like us fair-‘n-lovely and we’ve been trying very hard to oblige. And now you know that we like you TGG. And you, the dear, devoted baa-lambs, are trying as hard to please. All with a little help from the cosmetic manufacturers who – bless their lying little hearts – are whipping up enough cream so that both sides will have an unlimited supply of goras and goris.
Also, we’re hoping that in the fullness of time, you will discover the Real Importance of Being Gora - which is the reason why we want you to be gorey-chorey in the first place.
You see, after years of watching those wonderfully empowering, uplifting (no relation of Wonderbra) fairness cream ads, we now know that the only thing that comes between us and becoming the Prime Minister of India or discovering a cure for cancer or water on Mars or spelling “thetaiotaomicron” backwards or mapping the genetic code of the blue gnu or the winning the Miss Bhatinda-USA crown is….yep, a skin that is….shudder…dark-‘n-ugly. What I mean to say is that the early bird got that worm not because she was early. And Bill Gates made his trillions not because he dropped out of school. It was because they never, ever left home without a tube of their trusty goreypan-ka-goo.
When you understand this, there will be no holding you lads back.
And before long we’ll hear empowering, uplifting (again no relation of Wonder Bra kind) stories of how young Harsha-Bhogle-wannabes, rejected as a cricket commentators on account of their not-quite-as-white-as-their-cricket-white complexion, slapped on some gorapan-ka-goo, turned whiter-than-cricket-whites…and became the next generation of Harsha Bhogles!
There will be rousing tales of how the Indian men’s hockey team was unstoppable at the Olympics simply because KPS Gill said “piffle-‘n-pshaw” to polishing up those dribbles and passes, just make sure that every player is given an unlimited supply of his favourite gorey-chorey unguent. We will wipe away many a happy tear when we hear how Himesh Reshamiya finally rose from the ashes of Karz-z-z-z-z-z and swept the Oscars, the Grammys, the Bafta and the Batatabhai Farsanbhai Filmfair Awards only because he never stopped…you know the drill.
In other words, Indian men will be the largest, the fastest, the richest, the cutest, the hottest….er, let’s just say that they will be to success what 38 DD is to bras.
And all only by the dint of their goreypan-ka-goo.
Which only leaves the breaking news just in. Vishal Bhardwaj’s next film will be the story of identical twins, Champu and Chamku. Both melanin-challenged. Champu is the bad ‘un, hunting for a plastic surgeon who will transplant Neil Nitin Mukesh’s gorey-chorey skin on his kaaley-kalutey one. Chamku is the good ‘un, working at a NGO that rehabilitates victims of dark skin, where one day he meets Lovely. Who has an identical twin.
Her name? Fair.
The name of the film?