Friday, September 27, 2013

The Moon and the Clouds

On my way back from work, I noticed the moon shining nice and bright, in fact it was a full moon day that day, so the moon looked even more beautiful. The sky was overcast so the moon's brightness was even more precious and lent the sky a lovely glow.

Then within a few seconds some dark ominous looking clouds came in and covered the moon completely. I felt a bit annoyed at the intrusion. There I was enjoying the sight of the beautiful full moon only to be interrupted by the clouds!  After a few seconds, I saw the moon again, shining as brightly as ever, the clouds had passed. The moon looked just the same, almost as if nothing had happened. Well, scientifically nothing had, but it got me thinking.

In our everyday life, so often we get into situations that are not of our making; these situations suck us into them and we get very affected by them. Overtime these issues and problems stress us out completely. So much so, that even after the problem gets resolved or it passes, we are unable to come out of it. We get so involved that we lose out on precious moments of our lives, only to realize later that we did not need to lose sleep over it. But by then, we would have lost those precious moments.

To come back to the moon and the clouds, somehow neither of them seemed to change the other. In spite of being covered and surrounded by the ominous black clouds, the moon came out of it smiling and shining like always. Scientifically, the reason is absolutely logical because nothing had happened to the moon so why should it change. To me it looked like the clouds had covered the moon completely but in truth, the moon continued to be where it was without worrying about the clouds.

Isn't this a bit like the situations that we face in our lives. If we can only wait and be strong, the dark clouds will pass without causing any havoc, but if we keep worrying unnecessarily about things that are not in our control, it will make things worse, the dark clouds will go away eventually, but the scars will remain forever.  If we decide not to get affected by these situations, we will save ourselves from a lot of unnecessary pain and more importantly, we won't lose out on our "now".

I guess, to live a happy life, be like the moon, keep shining and smiling come what may. The clouds will pass and so will our troubles.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Kumartuli: A must visit to see the making of Durga idols

A workshop with so
many idols!
Kumartuli is the place to be if you are interested in sculpting. The work of these talented artists is indeed mesmerizing.

Kumartuli (Kumortuli) is home to talented sculptors who sculpt the idols of Gods and Goddesses. Kumartuli is well-known for the Durga idols that the artists create in there. You will find the place abuzz with activities all through the year, but it reaches its peak during Durga pujas. Durga idols start getting sculpted almost five to six months before Durga Puja. Not only do the artists create idols for West Bengal and other states, the idols are also sent abroad.

Kumartuli is located near Shobhabazar in North Kolkata, West Bengal. I am sharing some pictures of the beautiful sculptures that these talented artists create.

An artist at work at Kumartuli
Durga Idol

Durga idol,
work in porgress
at Kumartuli
Ganesh Idol at

Idols in various
stages of finishing
at Kumartuli
A beautiful old
house at Kumartuli

You can find some more pictures from my visit to Kumartuli last year here:-Kumartuli a unique abode for idol makers of Kolkata 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Durga Puja 2013; festive time again!

Durga idol
Durga puja is less  than a month away, and Kolkata is beginning to look festive.

Shopping, which is so much an integral part of this festival, is now at its peak! Shops are now open every day of the week.

Like every year, this year as well, the city is coming up with some very innovative and creative Durga puja themes and pandals. Can't wait to go pandal hopping!

The part that I never get tired of repeating is how the city transforms during these 5 days in October every year. Everyone participates in this festival, it is more of a celebration of good things to come than a religious festival. Millions of people go pandal hopping. The city does not sleep during this time. Road side vendors sell delicious food all through the night; you will find crowds going pandal hopping even at 3 am in the morning!

It is quite an amazing experience actually. You need to witness this once in a lifetime at least!

What I like most about this festival is how it brings together people from all walks of life. To me Durga puja is a celebration of happy times, getting together with friends, spending time with family, enjoying pandal hopping, and just having a good time.

I am posting one of the many interesting Durga puja pandals from 2012, this is from South Kolkata, I did not post these last year. I will post a couple more, enough to get us in the Durga puja mode!

Durga puja pandal
South Kolkata
Interesting concept!

The pandal has Ghosts
at the entrance!

Nice and Creative
Durga puja pandal

Durga idol
South Kolkata
Pandal decorations

Paintings on the
wall of the pandal
Paintings on the
wall of the pandal

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Ratnagiri, Lalitgiri, and Udayagiri, Buddhist destinations in Odisha, India

Ratnagiri, Odisha India
Bihar is the land of Viharas, and Uttar Pradesh is not behind either but not many of us know that Odisha also houses the remains of quite an extensive and sacred Buddhist complex dating back to the 3rd century BC. Tucked away in the greenery of Mahanadi basin, there are these imposing remains of a Buddhist monastery complex in Odisha. This complex is known as Pashupagiri and the three destinations are Lalitgiri, Ratnagiri, and Udaygiri. These points form the diamond triangle of Buddhist destination in Odisha.

It is easy to reach these destinations. The nearest airport is in Bhubaneswar which is around 100 kms away, and the nearest railway station is in Cuttack which is 70 kms away from this triangle.

Lalitgiri is the oldest out of the three sites, this site has the remains of several brick monasteries, votive stupas, a stone stupa (which has been renovated), and a lot of sculptures with inscriptions on them. This stone stupa is on top of a hill and is considered very sacred because the ASI found golden caskets containing sacred bone relics believed to be of Gautama Buddha in 1985.

Ratnagiri, the 2nd Buddhist destination, also houses a lot of large monasteries, stupas, shrines, and sculptures dating back to the 6th century AD.

Udayagiri the third site has the largest number of Buddhist complexes. There are several brick monasteries, rock-cut sculptures, step wells dating back to the 7th-12th century AD. Among other things, there is a double story monastery which has a water reservoir, and many more features.

These Buddhist sites are definitely not to be missed by anyone who is interested in Buddhism and Buddhist sculptures. It is strange that not many people in India know of these amazing Buddhist sites.

These pictures are courtesy Soma Jha.

Lalitgiri in Odisha

Buddhist destination in
Odisha, India
Sculptures in the Buddhist
site in Ratnagiri, Odisha

Step well in Udayagiri
Odisha, India
A sculpture in Udayagiri
Buddhist site in Odisha, India