Window Seat | Mrinal Chatterjee

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Erratic rain

This year rain has been very erratic in many parts of the country including Rajasthan, the state I visited recently and Odisha, where I live. Statistics will tell you that so far, both Rajasthan and Odisha have received slightly more rain than normal. But the rain pattern is not helping agriculture. There are bouts of heavy rain followed by prolonged spell of no-rain. The number of days that experiences rain has reduced considerably. This has impacted agriculture which requires a particular amount of rain at a particular time. Asada and Shraban– the two months of the rainy season are already over. In the Bhadra month, which marks the beginning of Sarat season the rainfall gradually comes down. In several districts of Odisha the farmers are worried lot as erratic rainfall has already impacted their produce. The same had happened in several districts of Rajasthan. This is happening more or less in every state of India. This warrants urgent attention of the policy makers and administration.

The Rajasthan government has embarked on a very big and ambitious water conservation project, about which I shall in details next week.

Free Prasad

Prasad (read food) is distributed free, in several religious shrines often irrespective of faith or background. In Tirumala Balaji Temple besides the ladoo, delicious lunch is served free to all. I have taken that food. It is served in a clean and hygienic hall. The langar (common kitchen) in several Gurudwaras offer free food to all. The largest among them is located in The Golden Temple (Harmandir Sahib, first constructed in 1604 and was later rebuilt in 1764), located in the city of Amritsar.  It typically feeds roughly 40,000 people a day for free. On religious holidays and weekends, the langar feed upwards of 100,000 people a day. This incredible feat is made possible through donations and volunteers.  About 90 per cent of the staff is made up of volunteers (known as sewadars) who can help out for as long as they like. The sewadars help in cooking, serving food and also cleaning the utensils. In Tirumals Balaji Temple also there is a tradition and institutional system of volunteering. In both the places the system runs mostly out of donation made by people.

I often wonder why such a system has not been adopted in Puri Shreemandira, at least during the month of Kartika? During the month of Kartika several hundreds of widows observe habisha. They take food (usually the anna prasad of the temple) once a day.  Many of the widows are poor. During Kartika the rate of the anna prasad is hiked. Can’t the temple provide them prasad free for this month? I am sure many would like to donate for this, if pilferage-free delivery is assured.

Janmastami

Janmashtami, the birthday of Lord Krishna is celebrated with great devotion and enthusiasm by the Hindus. According to the Hindu calendar it is celebrated on the Ashtami of Krishna Paksh or the 8th day of the dark fortnight in the month of Bhadra.

Sri Krishna is considered as the one of the most powerful incarnations of Vishnu. Legend has it that he was born in a prison in Mathura, where Kansa, his uncle had kept his father Vasudev and mother Devaki. Immediately after he was born, Vasudev took him to Gokul and left him with Nanda and Yasoda. Krishna grew up in Gokul. .

Besides slaying Kansa and other demons, he played an important role in Mahabharata and propagated the theory of bhakti and good karma which are narrated in the Bhagwat Geeta.

The actual celebration of Janmashtami takes place during the midnight as Sri Krishna is believed to have been born on a dark, stormy and windy night to end the rule and violence of his uncle, Kansa. All over India this day is celebrated with devotional songs and dances, pujas, arti, blowing of the Conch and rocking the cradle of baby Sri Krishna.

Tailpiece: Freedom

Man: What is the fee for getting a divorce?

Lawyer: Rs 50,000/-

Man: You took onlyu Rs 500/- for the marriage registration!

Lawyer: Freedom is always expensive!!

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Mrinal Chatterjee, a journalist turned media academician teaches at Indian Institute of Mass Communication, Dhenkanal. He also tends gardens and writes fiction.

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