28 August, 2014

Vinayaka Chavithi Celebrations - in Andhra style

Vinayaka Chavithi is a unique festival for Telugu people because of the way it is celebrated with family members. 

It is fun time especially for kids, decorating clay idol, Palavelli (Wooden frame to tie fruits), marking all notebooks with Om or Swastik symbol with watery vermilion paste, praying Lord Ganesha with different types of leaves (patri), helping mother in preparation of special dishes for the day - Vundrallu and talukalu.

 I have many wonderful memories associated with this festival from childhood. As children, we used to wait for this day for whole year.

Importance of festival:

Before I touch upon our way of celebrating this festival, let me tell you the importance of the festival in our lives.

 This festival is celebrated as the birth date of Lord Ganesha, Son of Lord Parameswara and Goddess Parvathi. Ganesha is also known as Vighnadhipathi, which means first God to be prayed before starting any work to avoid obstacles and bring success.

Story behind Puja:

The legend is that Moon God laughed at Vinayaka on his birthday watching him walking slowly because of over eating his favorite dish Vundrallu, which made Vinayaka's belly burst. 

Goddess Parvathi is upset with this and cursed that no one should see moon from now on, or else, they will face many obstacles/problems. 

When all other devatas requested her for a remedy, she changed curse saying that whoever watches moon on Vinayaka Chavithi without performing puja to Lord Ganesha and without wearing akshinthalu (rice with turmeric powder kept in puja), will face problems. 

So, it has become a custom in Telugu household to perform puja on that day morning to Lord Ganesha, by taking head bath, wearing new dresses, preparing and offering dishes which please Ganesha, listening to the above story and wearing those puja akshinthalu at the end.

Puja process:

We buy Ganesh idol made of clay, different types of fruits available and different types of leaves(patri) to perform puja. 

We prepare and offer Vundrallu/ Kudumulu, Chalividi, Vadapappu, Panakam and a sweet called 'Talukalu' prepared either with jaggery or sugar and milk. 

Each fruit bought for Puja will be cleaned, applied with vermilion paste and kumkuma and tied to Palavelli (a wooden frame), which is tied above the Ganesha idol. 

All fruits are tied symmetrically as shown in images. Some also buy and place an umbrella above clay idol. 

We usually write Om/ swastik symbol on academic note books of children with vermilion paste and kumkum and keep before God during puja. 

After performing puja, we listen to the story about Vinayaka's birth and wear akshinthalu at the end. We end the puja with harathi and distribute prasadam. 

Usually, we keep God decorated in the household and pray for at least 3 days and leave the puja remains along with idol in a lake, which is known as 'Nimajjanam'. 

A Few people perform puja at home daily for 7 or 9 days before immersing idol in the lake on 10th day. 

Because of performing puja and wearing akkshinthalu on head on that day, it is believed that no problem arises even by seeing moon by mistake.

 That's how we celebrate this festival by making every family member participate actively.

Let me know how you celebrate this festival :)

Until next time,

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25 August, 2014

Recommended books for beginner readers

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In this digital world, Book reading is becoming a rare quality.  Isn't it? Here are my top books for Beginner readers.

The world is moving fast. We prefer twitter, MMS, SMS to Facebook, letters, and emails. 

We always want quick updates. We don't have time to dig into details. 

Still, some people are interested in books, some listen to audiobooks, some watch movie adaptations, some read e-books, use kindles, everyone has some shortcuts.  Agree?

Many colleagues and friends who are still interested in reading books ask me to suggest some easy books for beginners to catch up and make it a habit. They all know there are many advantages of reading books like enhancing our memory, improving our concentration, increasing knowledge, and sometimes, it can be simply to escape to that fantasy land :)

Here is the list of books that I read so far and remembered to document. From this list and beyond, I would like to suggest a few quick, easy reads with quality stuff to any beginner who wants to start the habit of book reading. 

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recommended books for beginner readers

1. Wise and Otherwise by Sudha Murthy - My review

A short story collection which is based on real-life experiences. Each short story is simple and easy going  which can be completed in an hour. Everyone will definitely love Sudha Murthy's writing style and also understand the moral values behind each story.

Buy the book here:

2. Five point someone by Chetan Bhagat

Chetan Bhagat's books are simple to read and connect well to the mindset of the youth. This book already was very famous among students and became more popular due to movie adaptation '3 idiots'. Can't believe it's just Rs.52/- in Flipkart now. Anyways, you can complete this easy read very quick for sure :) I would also recommend you to read '2 States' from the same author if you liked this.

Buy the book here:

3. Urban Shots Cross roads by multiple authors - My review

A fresh breeze of modern short stories from multiple authors. Since there are different stories about different sets of people, we can easily relate to many characters in our day to day lives. As it is basically a collection of short stories, few might be too good, some bad, and some ok types. Overall, it's a good time pass to read this book.

4. Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle - Collection of short stories - My review

My Favorite of all. My habit of book reading started with this and I love these short stories so much. This complete collection is my prized possession so far. 

As you might have guessed from the name of the detective, these are collections of detective stories. You won't be disappointed by the storyline as each one is thrilling. But, the language used in this book might seem too old and classic, you might need some time to love the writing style. 

A good choice for people who love detective stories with mystery and thrill. 

Purchase the Complete Collection here:

5. Lucifer's Lungi by Nitin Sawant - My review

Might not be the best read, but easy-going thriller having humor as an integral part of the story. The first few pages might be boring, but you won't regret picking up this book to read as the remaining part compensates for the same. 

A short story which suits our modern thinking.

Buy the Book Here:

So, all beginners... do let me know if you agree with my list.

Note: Books picked above are easy to read and might improve your interest in book reading, but this doesn't mean that they are the only best literary works that I read so far. 

Until next time,

Image courtesy: All pics from flipkart.com and goodreads.com

18 August, 2014

Ramayana - The Game of life : Rise of the Sun Prince - [Book Review]

Book details:
Title: Ramayana :The Game of life 
         Rise of the Sun Prince
Author: Shubha Vilas
Publishers: JAICO
Genre: Mythology
No. of pages: 252
Source: A free copy for review from blogadda.com


I have been listening to Ramayana tales from childhood from my father and also watched them in television. Even though iam reading Ramayana again after so many years, i remember each and every small story of it. Those stories and  characters settled in my mind permanently. So, i was not sure initially if this book would interest me to complete till the end, as i hate reading known stories again and again. 

My expectation was to get a different perspective on the tale that i know from long. A different thought process which would help me to correlate with the current scenarios and problems of our country. Iam expecting to learn something new out of old story, which is not very preachy . So, let me tell you if this book really met my expectation :)

My take on story:

This is first part of the 6 book series of complete Ramayana and covers the story from the birth of Lord Rama to his marriage. Basically, story is taken from Valmiki Ramayana and Kamba Ramayana, though few tales are collected from other sources. It is good that author touches upon other characters in detail along with main characters. Actually, Author mentions that Viswamithra is the hero of this story as Balya kanda emphasizes mainly on how he transformed from a jealous king to Brahmarshi and other lessons he learnt in his journey. 

As a reader, we would surely love the extra information from footnotes, but at the end, we feel that there is too much information to comprehend from foot notes. I felt, few foot notes are unnecessary and very preachy. Liked these tidbits which are very less known facts from Ramayana :):

  • Dasaratha had 353 wives!
  • Dasaratha's wives bore the divine children Rama, Laxmana, Bharatha and Sathrughna for 12 months!
  • Lord Rama's childhood is covered in Ramayana only in 10 verses!
  • The famous Suprabhataham song 'Kaushalya Supraja Rama' that we use now for Lord Venkateswara is first sung my sage Vishwamithra to wake up Rama from sleep in the forest!
  • When Lord Vishnu killed Khyati, wife of sage Bhrigu, Brighu maharshi cursed Vishnu to appear on Earth for 10 times, which are famously known as Dasavathara (10 incarnations)!
Also, liked these lines about special attributes a man should have to marry in Sita's opinion

"He must be valiant or have the ability to protect
He should be prudent and have the ability and wisdom to say the right things
He must have self control or the ability to resist temptation and control emotions"
And these lines about marriage
"Marriage works best with happy cooperation. Hearts are broken when couples compete. To avoid heart break, a couple must cooperate and complement each other."
So, overall, other than the story, we have lot of things to take away from this book. The Ramayana is not a book; it is a way of life. The next book in the series is 'Shattered Dreams'.

I would recommend this to:

  • Children who want to read Ramayana for the first time
  • Elders, who know Ramayana and want to read it to get another perspective and learn about other characters
  • Any book reader who is interested in mythology and want to learn something new
My rating:
To get this book from flipkart for just Rs.159/- follow this link.

Until next time,

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

12 August, 2014

A butterfly in the garden #Flash Fiction

Linking this to the Fiction Challenge ‘From 15 to 50′ hosted here

pic courtesy: The moving Quill

Surprised to see a beautiful butterfly in my balcony
On a bright red flower resting in the shade,
When I went to touch the butterfly excited like a child,

I woke up by the sound of whistling pressure cooker in the kitchen. 

Alas! My day dream ended :(

Until next time,

#Flash #Fiction

05 August, 2014

Baby in the womb

Some say, 
it's like a fluttering butterfly, soft bubble bursting, gentle tap on tummy or strong kick

Some experience,
gentle movement, soft somersaults,  hiccups or mini aerobics

It is wonderful to have a life inside you, a cute innocent human being,
with little palms, tiny toes, which can listen, see and breathe.

I bow to the God for his magical creation and
I feel proud to be a woman to experience motherhood.

Until next time,

Image courtesy: Flickr creative common license images https://www.flickr.com/photos/28795465@N03/
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