Posts Tagged ‘tradition’

The itinerant religious singer, Bhutanahalli, 170619

June 18, 2019

I clicked this photo of an itinerant religious singer, with my young friend Prem, while we were watching the Baya Weavers at Bhutanahalli koLA (pond):

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Since he was singing about the maleficient god Shaniswara (the planet Saturn), I clicked him in front of the shrine:

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I also saw Krishnaveni’s husband and her son Punith (they run Ravisutha Hotel, where we generally have chai and brefus when we are birding in the area) give alms to the singer:

I posted on FB and asked if such a singer would have a specific name, and got a very detailed reply from Rajpal Navalkar:

“This one is Kamsale. Most of them can be found in North Karnataka. In Maharashtra, too, we have these semi classical and even classical Buas (called Bauls in Bengal) who go around singing Bhajans and Bhavageet.”

He went on to add, in detail:

Religious singers are of five groups: (1) Kamsale (2) Neelagaru (3) Chowdike
(4) Gorava (5) Gane.

Professional religious singers sing only those songs which concern their chosen gods, pilgrim centres and temples. Their main purpose is to propagate the supremacy and philosophy of their particular religion to inculcate values and norms in the community. Professional singers are characterised by traditional colourful costumes and conspicuous musical instruments. They command great respect and take active participation in all the religious celebrations of their community.

(1) Kamsale

Kamsale: ‘Kamsale’, popularly known as ‘Devadraguddas’ are the disciples of Lord Madayya. ‘Kamsale Mela’ is a popular folk song which deals with the history of ‘Mahadeshwara’ (the presiding deity of Malai Mahadeshwara or MM Hills, a renowned pilgrim centre, situated in Mysore district).

The name ‘Kamsale’ is derived from the traditional musical instrument. It is a unique musical instrument consisting of two bronze plates. The bronze cymbal is in the form of a cup with a broad base. The other plate is a flat structure with a tassel tied in the centre. The cup is held in the left hand and with the help of the tassel the flat plate is held in the right hand and the singer clashes both of them rhythmically during the performances.

‘Kamsale’ singers sing either individually or in a group. when in group, this form becomes a mela and consists of three members. The main performer plays the ‘Kamsale’ instrument, supported by two artistes in the background playing an instrument-the ‘Dammadi’ and the ‘Yekatari’-single-stringed musical instrument. The performance consists of narration by the chief singer, who pauses in between to interpret the story. The Kamsale artists do not wear any traditional costumes.

Their dressing is simple, they wear ‘Rudraksha’ beads, which is their religious emblem, and carry a satchel. They are illiterates and have no printed literature. They learn those songs orally. They participate in fairs, which are held in Mahadeshwara hills during ‘Diwali’, ‘Shivaratri’ and ‘Ugadi’ festivals and are found extensively in Mysore, Mandya and Bangalore districts of the state.

Thank you for all the information, Rajpal. Just a few minutes of that song had so much of a story behind it! Here’s some more of the KamsALe, with more of dance:

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lagOri, Kaikondrahalli kere, 080117

January 8, 2017

We often lament about our children using tablets and X-boxes all the time…but I find, often that even our urban children are quite in touch with the traditional games of childhood.

Today, when I went to Kaikondrahalli lake, I found this pile of flat stones, with a young girl piling them up carefully.

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I knew that a game of

Lagori

was in progress, and waited a bit while the girls surrounded the pile of stones and began their game.

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The game involves a ball and a pile of flat stones, generally played between two teams in a large outdoor area. A member of one team (the seekers) throws a tennis ball at a pile of stones to knock them over. The seekers then try to restore the pile of stones while the opposing team (the hitters) throws the ball at them. If the ball touches a seeker, she is out and her team continues without her. A seeker can always safeguard herself by touching an opposite team member before the ball hits her.

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There are some other rules that may be added in different regions of the country.

So here, to please all of us, is the scene of children (the girls were dressed to the nines for an event at their school, which is adjacent to the kere) playing a traditional game which does not need electricity, and which is one that their parents and grandparents have probably played!

“Top” fun…no electricity required…and it’s a lot of fun! Blr, 131216

December 14, 2016

I decided to show K2 how tops work, and I wondered if I still had the old skill. The first two tries did not work, but on the 3rd attempt…

(I had to throw the top and then pick up the camera!)

Here’s K2 demonstrating the best way to enjoy a spinning top.

Here’s the top:

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Obviously, watching it upside down between one’s feet is good:

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Then he comes closer, only to be stopped by my warning not to touch it!

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We had an hour or so of this…I hope, one day, to see him very proficient with the top,too!

Traditional pastimes for children, which are delightful, and require no electricity!

The Nordic Cosplay Championships, 24 and 250714, Linkoping, Sweden

July 26, 2014

I did not know, until now, about

Cosplay

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until yesterday, when we decided to go to the event at

Campushallen

area of Linkoping University. I thought, on seeing the made-up people, that it was a kind of college event; only on googling about it did I realize that since 1990 or so, it’s become an international event. What we saw yesterday (and the parade today, in the totally unusual 31 deg C heat and humidity) was the

Nordic Cosplay Championships

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Here’s the

Facebook page

Here are people celebrating the Japanese influence in Cosplay:

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The wiki says:

“Cosplay (コスプレ kosupure?), short for costume play, is a performance art in which participants, called cosplayers, wear costumes and fashion accessories to represent a specific character or idea that is usually identified with a unique name.”

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“Cosplayers often interact to create a subculture centered on role play. A broader use of the term cosplay applies to any costumed role play in venues apart from the stage, regardless of the cultural context.”

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“Favorite sources include manga, anime, comic books, video games, and films.”

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“Any entity from the real or virtual world that lends itself to dramatic interpretation may be taken up as a subject.”

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“Inanimate objects are given anthropomorphic forms”

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“… and it is not unusual to see genders switched, with women playing male roles and vice versa. There is also a subset of cosplay culture centered on sex appeal, with cosplayers specifically choosing characters that are known for their attractiveness or revealing costumes.”

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“There are social networks and websites centered on cosplay activities, while Internet forums allow cosplayers to share stories, photographs, news, and general information.”

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“The rapid growth in the number of people cosplaying as a hobby since 1990 has made the phenomenon a significant aspect of popular culture. This is particularly the case in Asia, where cosplay influences Japanese street fashion.”

I was thinking of on both the visits, I somehow felt she would have enjoyed this far more than I did, knowing more about anime and manga than I do!

But there was a lot of colour and vibrant positive energy in the air.

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It was unfortunate that the heat and humidity…very unusual for Sweden; 31 deg C!….completely sapped my energy and enervated me…and brought the paint sweating out of this player!

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Yesterday we cycled up to it, and I was half-dead by the time I returned…today I took a bus, but still had to walk quite a bit to get to the venue.

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No..heat and humidity are NOT for me! However, I did take a lot of pics:

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Here

is my album on Facebook

and

here

are PC’s excellent photographs! I was inhibited about asking people to pose, but he was not! I did not realize that in contrast with everyday situations, here, people were quite proud to pose in their costumes.

Heritage hits the dust…

May 3, 2014

I went to Langford Town, and was saddened to see another beautiful heritage home hit the dust on Oleff road.

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This lovely bungalow, typical of old Bangalore architecture, set in small, lovely garden, was already half gone.

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I tried to see if the year of construction was marked anywhere, but could not find it.

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The solidity of the construction, and the high ceilings, can be seen:

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How I wish I had the money to buy up such old homes, and maintain them in the old style! I could sit in them and dream about days when space in the city was not such a valuable commodity,that history had to be sacrificed on the altar of Mammon…

Oral Communication…aka Gossip! Chennai, 260214

March 4, 2014

gossip 260214

Under the preceptors’ eyes….I found this scene intriguing on several levels. The Shankaracharyas look on at life today. The younger of the two men has the outward appearance of the traditional Tamil Brahmin…the “kudumi”, the sacred ash and sandalwood smeared on the forehead, the “anga vastram” on the chest…the older has his hair cut the modern way, and is wearing a shirt. But the age-old oral tradition goes on…the “karna parampara” of “you speak, I listen, and information is communicated”. It’s less charitably referred to as gossip! Chennai, 260214.

A few trees that are entwined with Hinduism…

February 28, 2014

As I wandered around the kalyANa mantapam (festivity venue) at Chromepet, it struck me that there are so many trees that are inextricably entwined with Hindu rituals and customs…and I was lucky to be able to photograph some of them, right there. I am giving the Tamizh names and the link to the Wikipaedia entries about them, too.

One is the

pArijAtha or “pavazha malli” (literally, “coral jasmine” maram (maram is tree is Tamizh).

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The flowers of the tree are very beautiful:

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They fall like stars to the ground, where they are gathered up for worship by devout Hindus in the morning.

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Though the wiki entry mentions the mythology of the tree being the focus of a tussle between Rukmani and Sathyabhama, two of Krishna’s beloved, there is a story about Hanuman having his abode amongst the roots of this tree:

“AnjanEyam athi pAtalAnanam/ kAnchanAdri kamanIya vigraham/ pArijAtha tharu mUla vAsinam/ bhAvayAmi bhava mAna nandanam”.

My parents had a huge tree in the garden, and I would gather the flowers, distribute them amongst our neighbours, and take some to the nearby “vyAyAm ghar” (exercise place) where there was an image of Hanuman, and offer them there. My practice of reciting the Anjaneya Ashtothram (108 names of Hanuman) dates from the time I was 14 or 15…and in spite of my agnosticism, it’s something I never fail to do, till date!

Another tree that was common in gardens of temples is the

Vilva maram

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The fruit of the tree is used for both food and medicine, even today. In folklore, the tri-foliate form of leaves symbolize the trident that Shiva holds in his right hand.

The third tree, that is used everywhere in Hindu rites and rituals, is the

<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banana&quot; Banana or Plantain tree, called vAzhai maram

Every part of the tree is useful; the stem is used as a vegetable (yes, I cook it, too, and it’s one of my daughter’s favourite vegetables!) as is the raw fruit; the flowers are also cooked; the “petals” of the banana flower were often used as informal containers during meals; the leaves are an essential part of the south Indian feast…an “elai shAppAdu” (leaf meal) is a must, where the food is served on plantain leaves, with the “nuNi” (tip of the leaf) intact. (The leaf-tip must face to the left, I don’t know why that rule!)

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The banana stems are chopped, and the mantapam entrance is decorated with the leaves and the banana flower forming a graceful arch of welcome for the guests.

Many of our dishes are also cooked or steamed in banana leaves, which form a great traditional lining. Even today, I enjoy unwrapping the spiral of banana leaf which encloses the “kadubu”, a Kannada dish somewhat like an iddli. Kerala dishes made with jackfruit and rice flour are also steamed in plantain leaves.

I photographed a very huge variety of this plant at Lalbagh, on 080211:

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The plant was mis-labelled as “Crown of Thorns”, though. I also clicked the stamens, which are cooked after the pistils are carefully removed:

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In Coorg tradition, the bridegroom chops down several banana stems in symbolism for wild animals, to show his manly prowess. In Tamil Nadu, we sometimes had young women married to symbolic banana stems when the grooms could not be physically present. No, I refuse to go further with the banana symbolism!

Another tree that is always associated with Hindu rites is the

mA maram (mango tree).

The mango is considered the king of fruits in India, and the wood is used for cheap furniture; the leaves are an essential part of the “thOraNam” decorating doorways to homes, and the fruit, in its baby (mAvadu) and raw (mAngAi) forms are used in making delicious pickles.

In this photograph, taken before the varalakshmi pUjA, you can see both banana trees and mango leaves for sale, to decorate the goddess’ mantapams in people’s homes.

IMG_0183 Banana trees and mango leaves to decorate

I won’t write much about the

Coconut palm…thennai maram …as it is so ubiquitous!

You can see how palm fronds are used for decoration:

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In this pic you can see coconuts rolled up in dhotis, to be gifted to the priests:

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We cannot do without coconuts for any puja!
It’s a great pity that our strong links to trees seem to be getting diluted these days…and we seem to think of them not as living beings, complementing our lives, but hindrances to “development”, especially to the faster flow of motorized traffic!

Thoughts about an Indian marriage

September 23, 2013

When a couple move from love tomarriage..they begin to navigate the thorny thickets of social customs, unspoken expectations, implicit equations, and the general interaction of personalities…marriage in India is not to one person but to the immediate, and extended, family…and is more complicated than any corporate management job!

Sankranti Oota, Halli Mane, Malleswaram, Bangalore, 140113

January 16, 2013

Some of the BULBs (Bangalore Urban Lady Birders) decided to meet up for lunch at Halli Mane on Sankranti Day:

140113 halli mane front

The decorations were beautiful…

made of palm fibre:

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made of palm fronds:

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This is the menu, as displayed on the board:

kharabUjatha rasa (Musk Melon juice)
eLLu–bellA-kabbu (Sesame seeds-jagger-sugar cane)
hesaru beLe pAyasA( Mung dal payasa)
mAvina midi uppinkAyA (Maavadu, small mango pickle)
chOLada kOsambari (Salad with corn and grated carrots)
moLagekkALu, dAdimba kOsambari (Salad with sprouted green gram and pomegranate)
Alu gaddE palyA (potato curry)
dondekkAi, gOdambi palya (ivy gourd, cashewcurry)
mAvina kAyi chutney (mango chutney, not sweet)
sihi pongal (sweet pongal)
khArA pongal (savoury pongal)
avarekkALu usli (preparation with winter beans)
avarekkAlu bAth (rice with avarekkAlu beans)
happaLA-sandigE (appaLAm and vadAm) (the appalam or paapad was made from jackfruit)
avarekkALu gasi
annA (rice)
thOvvE-thuppA (dal , ghee)
thiLi sAru ( clear rasam)
shuntthi thambuLi (ginger paste)
amatikkAyi gojju (hog-plum gojju)
kumbaLakkAyi majjige huLi
guLLa huLi (Udupi brijal sambar)
mosaru (yogurt)
kobbari hOLige (coconut pOLi)
bALe hannina rasAyana (ripe banana custard)
avarekkALu masAla vade
avarekkAyi hayagrIvA ( a thick gravy preparation)
bharathA
bhAvanA shuntthi (digestive; ginger with sour tones)
bALe haNNu (banana)
ele-adike (betel leaf and supAri)

The leaf looked like this, when I had to start eating, as I had to finish some of this before the next few courses:

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At this point, 18 of the 30 items were on the leaf. And at the end, the leaf had to look like this:

empty leaf 140113 halli mane

Here are all of us, kindly clicked by a fellow-luncher:

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This is for every fellow-Indian (especially Kannadigas) who cannot have food like this when they feel like it….I thought of each of you!

Can and cannot

September 19, 2012

You can see the sun, when you can bear the ferocity of it splendour:

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And as is sinks into the western sky:

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But when the moon is in the fourth phase of its waxing, mythology has it that it is inauspicious to look upon it:

moon managali 190812 mdhvn pk

here’s why

Apparently, waxing and waningin force and power is acceptable, but waxing and waning in appearance is not!

I did look at, and photograph, the moon on Ganesha Chathurthi day….let’s see what happens to me!

Off to the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary for the day, with 7 others.