Monthly Archives: April 2011

Lord Ganesha

Ganesha is known by many names – many of these refer to his physical attributes

Gajanana – Elephant –faced

Vakrathunda –  crooked trunk

Mahakaya –  massive body

Suryakoti Samaprabha –  luminence  of a million suns

Lambodara –  pot-belly

As He is considered the remover of obstacles (Vigneshwara), He is worshipped at the start of any function or ritual, in the belief that He will watch over the proceedings with this auspicious beginning, and help us surmount any hurdles on the way.

Festivals Of India

In the South of India, the year begins in mid-April of the Gregorian calendar usually 14th of April.

The new year  – Varusha Pirappu in Tamil – is ushered in with pooja, sweets and a special mango pachadi which embodies all the five flavours of sweet, salt, sour, bitter and chilli spice.  This symbolises our prayer for the year ahead – we pray for the strength and the equanimity to deal with all that comes our way – the good, the sad, the happy and the worrisome.

In Kerala, it is celebrated as Vishu.  ‘Vishu’ in Sanskrit means ‘equal’ and refers to one of the days of the vernal equinox.  The most important part of this celebration is the Vishukkani  – a viewing of the items of prosperity – grain, fruits, flowers, vegetables, gold, etc. – in front of a mirror.  It is considered auspicious for everyone to rise at dawn and enter the pooja room with eyes closed and view the kani placed there – the first thing to be seen in the morning.

As per Malayalam Calendar, Malayalam new year starts on the first month of Chingam (which comes in August). However people of Malabar and Cochin (i.e., Trichur and north-western Ernakulam) considers Vishu as astrological new year and Vishu Kani will bring luck and prosperity for full year starting from Vishu Day Medam 1st.

Similar festivals are celebrated in Punjab and Assam.  In Assam this day is called Bihu, in Punjab Baisakhi (originally Vaishakhi), Tuluvas celebrate Bisu on the same day.

Why do we do Namaste?

Most traditional Indians greet each other with a namaste. This greeting is used whenever we meet and greet anyone – irrespective of age or relationship – family or strangers. The two palms are joined together in front of the chest and the head bowed whilst saying the word Namaste or Namaskaram.

Namaste could be a casual or formal greeting, depending on the cultural milieu. Namaste could also be part of the act of worship. In Sanskrit the words namah (I bow) and te(to you) come together to form the word Namaste. It conveys a greeting, salutations or prostration to you. The joined palms also symbolise a hope that the meeting with another will be a meeting of minds and in friendship too – a deeper and more meaningful gesture than just a superficial meeting. Our understanding of this will make us more aware of our commitment to make each meeting a communion of minds with love and respect, rather than just a fleeting ephemeral meeting.

NAMASTE TO ALL OUR VISITORS. May we meet as friends and develop a longstanding relationship which is mutually enriching.

Why Do we Light a Lamp?

Hinduism is not so much a religion as a way of life.  It prescribes a number of acharas or customs which are believed to enhance our lives.  These acharas are easy to follow and pave the path to a disciplined, healthy lifestyle.  And more than all else, they create a family bond.  When children grow up in an environment which is regulated by acharas, they feel a sense of belonging and inherit a tradition which gives them a sense of security and well-being which holds them in good stead through their lives.

Each fortnight, watch this space for simple answers to the ‘why’s’ of some of these customs.

We also bring you little nuggets of information which we hope you will find interesting.


Why do we light a lamp?

Light represents knowledge universally.  It dispels darkness which symbolises ignorance.  And the source of all knowledge is the Almighty.  Hence, the lamp itself is worshipped.

In almost every Hindu home, a lamp is lit daily at the altar.  All auspicious events begin with the lighting of a lamp, which is kept alight through the function.

The wick is considered our ego and the oil or ghee our negative tendencies.  As the lamp burns, the oil and the wick diminish.  The flame burns upwards at all times, reminding us to aspire to higher ideals.

Traditional amps are made of metal (brass, bronze, silver) or clay.  Their designs have been handed down through the ages and continue to be in everyday use.

Lighting of lamps or candles is considered an auspicious or spiritual practice in many parts of the world.  In most faiths, candles are lit in prayer and in celebration.

Candlestick designs have been given great importance and have over the years become the centre of attention in decor and displays.  In India too stores stock decorative candles and stands for all occasions.

The Jewish menorah is a very distinctive branched candelabra.  Most menorahs have seven branches, but some have nine.

In 165 BC the Temple of Jerusalem was taken over by Antiochus IV King of Syria. Some Jews, led by Judas Maccabee, decided to stay and fight. They looked for oil to light the menorah to rededicate it and found a flask which looked as though it would only last for one night. Instead it lasted for eight nights, which was considered a miracle. The ninth candle – the central one – is used for lighting the other eight.  This is how the Festival of Lights, otherwise known as Chanukah (or Hanukkah) began.


Did you know?

A total of 165,000 tonnes of gold have been mined in human history, as of 2009. This is roughly equal in terms of volume,  to about 8,500 m³, or a cube 20.4 m on a side. The world consumption of new gold produced is about 50% in jewellery, 40% in investments, and 10% in industry.