“To become a true global citizen, one must abandon all notions of ‘otherness’ and instead embrace ‘togetherness’.“
― Suzy Kassem (American writer, film director, philosopher, author, and poet of Egyptian heritage.)
Internet technology helps us stay connected with people living anywhere around the world, but the ability to speak face-to-face with ease has declined and, in fact, is dysfunctional severing kinship and physical interaction with those around us.
Now, with mobiles, people have replaced lively phone calls by texting mnemonic-like nonsensical internet slang words with little substance oblivious to what is happening around them. This indeed is an alarming trend.
This video shows how some simple actions can provide the impetus to bring about the joy in togetherness.
Do you know how life changes when a young couple decides to become young parents? Do they think it boils down to adding more commitments and costs? Or do you already know about the emotional toll and everything it entails? Here’s a story that elucidates it all.
“We are sitting at lunch one day when my daughter casually mentions that she and her husband are thinking of “starting a family.”
“We’re taking a survey,” she says half-joking. “Do you think I should have a baby?”
“It will change your life,” I say, carefully keeping my tone neutral.
“I know,” she says, “no more sleeping in on weekends, no more spontaneous vacations.”
But that is not what I meant at all. I look at my daughter, trying to decide what to tell her. I want her to know what she will never learn in childbirth classes.
I want to tell her that the physical wounds of child bearing will heal, but becoming a mother will leave her with an emotional wound so raw that she will forever be vulnerable.
I consider warning her that she will never again read a newspaper without asking, “What if that had been MY child?” That every plane crash, every house fire will haunt her.
That when she sees pictures of starving children, she will wonder if anything could be worse than watching your child die.
I look at her carefully manicured nails and stylish suit and think that no matter how sophisticated she is, becoming a mother will reduce her to the primitive level of a bear protecting her cub. That an urgent call of “Mom!” will cause her to drop a soufflé or her best crystal without a moments hesitation.
I feel that I should warn her that no matter how many years she has invested in her career, she will be professionally derailed by motherhood. She might arrange for childcare, but one day she will be going into an important business meeting and she will think of her baby’s sweet smell. She will have to use every ounce of discipline to keep from running home, just to make sure her baby is all right.
I want my daughter to know that every day decisions will no longer be routine. That a five-year-old boy’s desire to go to the men’s room rather than the women’s at McDonald’s will become a major dilemma. That right there, in the midst of clattering trays and screaming children, issues of independence and gender identity will be weighed against the prospect that a child molester may be lurking in that restroom.
However decisive she may be at the office, she will second-guess herself constantly as a mother.
Looking at my attractive daughter, I want to assure her that eventually she will shed the pounds of pregnancy, but she will never feel the same about herself.
That her life, now so important, will be of less value to her once she has a child. That she would give herself up in a moment to save her offspring, but will also begin to hope for more years, not to accomplish her own dreams, but to watch her child accomplish theirs.
I want her to know that a cesarean scar or shiny stretch marks will become badges of honor.
My daughter’s relationship with her husband will change, but not in the way she thinks.
I wish she could understand how much more you can love a man who is careful to powder the baby or who never hesitates to play with his child.
I think she should know that she will fall in love with him again for reasons she would now find very unromantic.
I wish my daughter could sense the bond she will feel with women throughout history who have tried to stop war, prejudice and drunk driving.
I want to describe to my daughter the exhilaration of seeing your child learn to ride a bike.
I want to capture for her the belly laugh of a baby who is touching the soft fur of a dog or cat for the first time.
I want her to taste the joy that is so real it actually hurts.
My daughter’s quizzical look makes me realize that tears have formed in my eyes. “You’ll never regret it,” I finally say. Then I reached across the table, squeezed my daughter’s hand and offered a silent prayer for her, and for me, and for all the mere mortal women who stumble their way into this most wonderful of callings.
Please share this with a Mom that you know or all of your girlfriends who may someday be Moms. May you always have in your arms the one who is in your heart.”
Woman is the companion of man, gifted with equal mental capacity… If by strength is meant moral power, then woman is immeasurably man’s superior… If non-violence is the law of our being, the future is with women… – Mahatma Gandhi
On March 8th every year, the day originally known as the International Working Women’s Day, people around the world celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD).
In 1975, during International Women’s Year, the United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8th. Two years later, in December 1977, the United Nations General Assembly recognized the role of women in peace efforts and development and urged an end to discrimination and increase support for women’s full and equal participation. To this to effect, the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women Rights and International Peace observed on any day of the year according to their historical and national traditions by Member States.
The International Women’s Day 2015 celebrated globally today will highlight the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a historic roadmap signed by 189 governments 20 years ago that sets the agenda for realizing women’s rights. While there have been many achievements since then, many serious gaps remain.
On this day, the focus is on upholding women’s achievements, recognize challenges, and pay greater attention to women’s rights and gender equality to mobilize all people to do their part. The Beijing Platform for Action focuses on 12 critical areas of concern, and envisions a world where each woman and girl can exercise her choices, such as participating in politics, getting an education, having an income, and living in societies free from violence and discrimination.
To this end, the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is the clarion call of UN Women’s Beijing+20 campaign “Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture it!”
In this video clip we see five acts of kindness by strangers lending a helping hand.
Simple acts of kindness such as these are sure to bring a smile on the face of the persons being helped. Don’t you think that undemanding acts of kindness are sure to brighten the world we live in just a wee bit more?
Youngsters, including my grandson, label me old fashioned when I sneer at them using their smartphones. I welcome technology. Way back in 1983, I was the first person to teach computer science with my Apple IIe in Tirunelveli and Tuticorin Districts in Tamilnadu, India. Since then technology has travelled a long way and improved a million times, but not all is that good.
Technology is radically changing the way we interact with each other. While connecting us in many ways, smartphones are also disconnecting every one of us, even family members. From the time my college-going grandson enters the house, he never talks with me, but jabbers with people using his smartphone, or indulges in texting. He always dines alone while jabbering or texting using his phone.
Smartphones have brought on the phenomenon of causing “death of conversation”. The smartphone technology is affecting social cohesion in the younger generation. They do not know when to switch off their instruments and start conversing directly with those seated just next to them. Due to the rapid rise of the smartphone, our younger generation does not know what social etiquette or interpersonal relationship is.
Young filmmaker Matthew Abeler perfectly depicts the overuse of technology in his short film titled: “Pass The Salt”. While the father and mother are having dinner with their two sons, one son’s phone beeps. Then, both sons start texting. Father says, “pass the salt” and one of the texting sons passes him the pepper. The hilarious ending with the sons dumbfounded should make everyone think twice before they pull out their phone the next time in the middle of dinner.
By the way, it is good etiquette to always pass salt and pepper together. If a person asks for just one, pass both anyway.
Recently, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) conducted a survey on “gender disparities in various nations” across 30 countries. It revealed that women average 158 minutes a day doing paid work and men spend 259 minutes in their workplaces.
The survey also revealed that an average woman does 168 minutes a day of housework while men spend 74 minutes a day on household chores. The men average 18 minutes for shopping and 16 minutes caring for the family, and women spend 28 minutes and 40 minutes for these tasks.
Slovenia was part of the former Yugoslavia. In 1991, Slovenia became an independent country. The above chart shows that men in Slovenia do the most unpaid household chores at 114 minutes per day.
Men in Korea and Turkey spend a mere 21 minutes a day on housework, while their women spend 2 hours 18 and 4 hours 21 minutes a day respectively.
In its recent gender inequality index, the United Nations placed India at position 132 out of 148 countries. This certainly shows that equality in sharing household chores does not apply to Indian men. In the above chart, India is at the bottom of the list after the Koreans and the Turks.
An average Indian man devotes just 19 minutes doing household chores while an Indian woman spends 4 hours 58 minutes doing housework.
The position of Indian men in the above chart looks too true. But we should be aware that most of them get meagre income and salaries. Hence, they spend more time at their workplaces. And, when they come home after a gruelling day’s work, they need to rest their tired body and mind.
He: sir i had good communication skills with me,i can face people,i can motivate people and i am hard worker sir how can i use theses all things for my life and for the nation
am really cnfused
am also good at acting sir
any advice from ur xperience (sic)
Me: Uxxx, we belong to different way of looking at life due to our age difference. So, I never give advice to young people. Sorry.
I have been smitten many times and burnt my fingers and my image by advising youngsters.
He: it’s ok sir no need to tell sorry i jst tried (sic)
I felt sorry for this youngster and the ‘teacher’ inside me gave in and my fingers started typing:
Me: What I find in you is that you are quick learner. Last time I communicated with you, you were using a lot of short cuts. Today, I find you completely changed. Keep it up.
When I was young, I was pulled in to act in the main parts in all college dramas. It gave me courage to face any number of people. But I would say this: “If you want to make a mark in life, forget about acting.”
Don’t emulate film stars and never have them as your idols.
Next, forget about the nation. Always remember “Charity begins at home.”
You are part of the nation, your parents are also part of the nation. If you and your parents grow, the nation will prosper automatically.
So, first obey your parents and don’t let their hearts bleed. In Tamil we have the saying “Maathaa-Pithaa, Guru, Deivam” meaning “[Honour your] parents, teachers, and gods [in that order.]”
When I say parents, it includes your own brothers and sisters also. Your family.
After you have done the needful for your parents and made them happy, then you can think about your poor relatives who are in need.
So, it will take a long time to fulfill these tasks. Be honest with yourself and your friends and relatives.
Forget about taking active part in politics because all politicians are just rogues bent on making money only.
Don’t trust and go after priests of any religion. They too are cheats bent on making money by blessing you.
There is a saying in Tamil: “koduppavanai kandaal deivam kunangi kunangi aadumaam” meaning “if a god sees a donor, it will start dancing obsequiously.”
Here ‘god’ means those rascals in temples and houses of worship and the devil dancers who act as if the gods or demons, the Holy Spirit, etc., have entered into their body and start dancing feverishly and holler nonsense. That is ‘talking in tongues’.
The real blessings come from your parents and your own elders.
After that I waited for about 15 minutes for his response. But there was none from him.
Today morning, when I logged in to FB, I saw the following:
I came across the above fabulous photo on the internet. Do you like it? What message does it convey?
Here is a collection of photographs I came across while surfing the net.
The vow of Hindu-Muslim unity
Talking about communal harmony on April 8, 1919, Mahatma Gandhi said:
“If the Hindu-Muslim communities could be united in one bond of mutual friendship and if each could act towards the other as children of the same mother, it would be a consumation devoutely to be wished. But before this unity becomes a reality, both the communities will have to give up a good deal, and will have to make radical changes in ideas held herefore. Members of one community when talking about those of the other at times indulge in terms so vulgar that they but acerbate the relations between the two. In Hindu society we do not hesitate to indulge in unbecoming language when talking of the Mohomedans and vice-versa. Many believe that an ingrained and ineradicable animosity exists between the Hindus and
“When both are inspired by the spirit of sacrifice, when both try to do their duty towards one another instead of pressing their rights, then and then only would the long standing differences between the two communities cease. Each must respect the other’s religion, must refrain from even secretly thinking ill of the other. We must politely dissuade members of both communities from indulging in bad language against one another. Only a serious endeavour in this direction can remove the estrangement between us.” (25:201-202)
He made the members present take a vow as under:
“With God as witness we Hindus and Mohomedans declare that we shall behave towards one another as children of the same parents, that we shall have no differences, that the sorrows of each shall be the sorrows of the other and that each shall help the other in removing them. We shall respect each other’s religion and religious feelings and shall not stand in the way of our respective religious practices. We shall always refrain from violence to each other in the name of religion.”
Last year when I was in the United States, a friend from India called me over the phone a week before Thanksgiving Day. He requested me to buy a laptop for him on Black Friday. He said that he had heard that on Black Friday electronic goods could be bought at bargain prices. Little did he know about the madness that inundates the United Stupids of America (USA) on Black Friday.
Traditionally, Thanksgiving Day is celebrated in the United States on the fourth Thursday of November. Also, traditionally, the beginning of the Christmas shopping season starts in the United States on Black Friday, the day following Thanksgiving Day.Most major retailers open their sales outlets extremely early on Black Friday to kick off the holiday shopping season and offer promotional sales.
Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday in the United States and people celebrate the day with religious fervor.
People get together with their loved ones, invariably devour large amounts of food centered around an enormous roasted turkey, and like angels and saints praise and thank God for all that they have.
But on the following day, the Black Friday, they become United Stupids of America by transmogrifying from angels to demons. They stubbornly gather outside malls, some from midnight on. They while away their time chattering and shivering, undaunted by the bitter winter cold, and wait for the shops to open.
As soon as the doors open, the stampede begins.
People behave like crazed animals. They barge into the malls like raging bulls. They trample and maul one another to buy more stuff that they already have or absolutely do not need; just 24 hours after offering thanks for how much they have.
That is Black Friday for you in the United States of America. No other country in the world can boast of such a frenzied day.
Though Black Friday is not an official holiday, many non-retail employers give their employees the day off, thereby increasing the number of potential shoppers.
Earlier, retailers opened shop on Black Friday at 6 am. However, in the late 2000s, many retailers opened their retail outlets at 5 am, and some opened at 4 am. Big names including Target, Kohls, Macy’s, Best Buy, etc. open at midnight. Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, broke the Black Friday tradition in 2011 by opening its store on Thanksgiving evening.
Here is a video clip depicting the madness of the United Stupids of America for you to decide whether you too want to join these berserk folks and avail bargains on Black Friday.
The people in India, belonging to culturally diverse and fervent societies celebrate various holidays and festivals. The different states and regions in India have their own local festivals depending on prevailing religious and linguistic demographics.
Deepavali (also known as Diwali, Dīvali, Dīpāwali, Dipabali, etc.,), is one of the most sacred festivals of the Hindus.
Deepavali is a “festival of lights,” symbolizing the victory of righteousness over spiritual darkness. All over the world, the Hindus celebrate Deepavali jubilantly with their families in their homes, performing traditional spiritual activities. In India, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia, people belonging to other religions as well join the Hindus in the celebrations.
Goddess Lakshmi is the most significant deity during Deepavali Puja. Several other gods and goddesses are also worshipped. Various religious rituals are followed during the five-day festivities.
Deepavali is celebrated as a five-day festivity that starts on Dhanteras, celebrated on the thirteenth lunar day of Krishna paksha (dark fortnight) of Ashwin and ends on Bhau-Beej, celebrated on the second lunar day of Shukla paksha of the Hindu calendar month Kartik. However, in the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat, the Deepavali festivity begins one day earlier on Govatsa Dwadashi, and is a six-day festivity.
The month of Ashvin begins with the Sun’s exit from Virgo in the solar religious calendar. In the Sanskrit language ‘Ashvin’ means light. It is the seventh month of the lunisolar Hindu calendar.
In many cultures, people use the lunisolar calendar where the date indicates both the moon phase and the time of the solar year.
In the Tamil sidereal solar calendar, used by Tamils all over the world, Ashvin is known as Aipassi (ஐப்பசி). In the Bengali sidereal solar calendar, officially used by the Bengali people in West Bengal and Bangladesh, it is the sixth month and is called Ashbin (আশ্বিন).
The Five/Six Days of Deepavali
Deepavali celebrations is a five-day festivity spread over from Dhanteras to Bhau-Beej. In some places like Maharashtra and Gujarat the celebrations begin with Govatsa Dwadashi. All the days except Deepavali are named according to their designation in the Hindu calendar. The days are:
Govatsa Dwadashi or Vasu Baras (27 Ashvin or 12 Krishna Paksha Ashvin):
In Sanskrit, Go means cow and vatsa means calf, Dwadashi or Baras means the 12th day. On this day the cow and calf are worshiped.
According to Hindu mythology, Prithu was a king, from whom the earth received her name Prithvi. The epic Mahabharata and the Hindu text Vishnu Purana describe him as a part Avatar (incarnation) of Vishnu.
Prithu was the son of King Vena, a tyrant. Due to the lawless rule of Vena, an appalling famine engulfed the earth making it barren. King Prithu went after Prithvi, the earth goddess, who fled from him transforming herself into a cow. After being caught, Prithvi agreed to yield her milk as the world’s grain and vegetation that brought prosperity to the world once again.
Dhanatrayodashi or Dhanteras or Dhanwantari Trayodashi (28 Ashvin or 13 Krishna Paksha Ashvin):
In Sanskrit, Dhana means wealth and Trayodashi means 13th day. This day falls on the 13th day of the second half of the lunar month Ashvin, and usually eighteen days after Dussehra.
According to Hindu mythology, Dhanvantari is an Avatar of Vishnu. He appears in the Vedas and Puranas as the physician of the gods devas, and is the god of Ayurvedic medicine. He is depicted as Vishnu with four hands, holding medical herbs in one hand and a pot containing rejuvenating nectar called amrita in another.
In the myth of the Samudra or Sagar manthan (Churning of the Ocean of Milk), Dhanavantari emerged bearing the pot of nectar after the Devas (demi gods) and Asssuras (demons) churned the ‘Ocean of Milk’ using the Mount Mandarachala, also known as Mount Meru, as the churning rod and Vasuki, the king of serpents, as the rope.
The Hindus pray to Lord Dhanvantari seeking his blessings for good health for themselves and others, especially on Dhanteras, his Jayanti (Birth Anniversary), along with Goddess Lakshmi, the provider of prosperity and well-being.
Lord Kubera, the God of assets and wealth is also worshiped on this day by the Hindus. Dhanteras is very significant among business communities since it is customary to buy precious metals on this day.
Naraka Chaturdashi (29 Ashvin or 14 Krishna Paksha Ashvin):
Chaturdashi is the 14th day (Tithi) of the waxing phase or waning phase of the moon.
This day signifies the victory of good over evil and light over darkness, because on this day the demon Narakasura was killed by Krishna, an incarnation of Vishnu. . This day is also known as Kali Chaudas, Roop Chaudas or Choti Diwali.
In one source in Hindu mythology, Narakasura is the asura son of the earth goddess Bhūmī-Devī (Earth) and Lord Vishnu in his Varaha (boar) Avatar. In other sources, he is said to the son of the asura Hiranyaksha. It was foretold that he would be destroyed by a later incarnation of Vishnu. So, his mother, the earth, sought a boon from her consort Vishnu for a long life for her son, and that he should be all powerful. Vishnu out of love for Bhūmī-Devī granted these boons.
Narakasura, knowing himself to be unrivalled in prowess became evil, and subdued all the kingdoms on earth and brought them under his control. Next, he set his eyes on Swargaloka (the heavens), the abode of the devas. Unable to withstand the powers of Narakasura, the mighty Indra, the lord of the devas, fled from Swargaloka. Narakasura became the overlord of both the heavens and earth. Intoxicated by power, he stole the earrings of Aditi, the heavenly mother goddess, and usurped some of her territory, while also kidnapping 16,000 women.
The devas, led by Indra appealed to Vishnu, asking him to deliver them from Narakasura. Vishnu promised them that he would help them when he would be incarnated as Krishna.
Narakasura was allowed to enjoy a long reign because of the boon granted by Vishnu.
When Vishnu incarnated as Krishna, he married Satyabhama, an Avatar of Bhūmī-Devī. Aditi, being a relative of Krishna’s wife approached her for help. On learning about Narakasura’s ill treatment of women and his behaviour with Aditi, Satyabhama was enraged. Shr approached Lord Krishna for permission to wage a war against Narakasura.
As promised to the Devas and Aditi, Vishnu in his Krishna avatar, riding his mount Garuda with wife Satyabhama, attacked the great fortress of Narakasura. The battle was fierce. Narakasura unleashed all his army on Krishna. However, Krishna slew them all. He also killed Mura, Narakasura’s general. Thus, Krishna is called ‘Murāri ‘(the enemy of Mura).
The desperate Narakasura launched his great weapon, sataghini, a thunderbolt, and then his trident on Krishna, but these weapons did not harm Krishna. Eventually, Krishna beheaded Narakasura with his Sudarshana Chakra, a spinning, disk-like super weapon with 108 serrated edges.
Before dying, Narakasura requested a boon that his death anniversary should be celebrated by all people on earth. This day is celebrated as ‘Naraka Chaturdashi’.
In southern India, this is the actual day of festivities.
On this day, the Hindus, all over the world, wake up before dawn, have a fragrant oil bath and dress in new clothes. In Tamilnadu, after the bath, a home-made medicine known as “Deepavali Lehiyam” is consumed, which is supposed to aid to overcome digestive problems that may ensue due to feasting that occurs later in the day. They light small lamps around their homes and draw elaborate kolams or rangolis in front of their houses. They perform a special pooja with offerings to Krishna or Vishnu, for liberating the world from the demon Narakasura on this day. The Hindus believe that bathing before sunrise, when the stars are still visible in the sky, is equal to taking a bath in the holy river Ganges. After the pooja, the devotees burst firecrackers heralding the defeat of the demon. As a day of rejoicing, housewives prepare elaborate breakfasts and lunches and meet with family and friends.
Lakshmi Puja (30 Ashvin or 15 Krishna Paksha Ashvin):
Amavasya, the new moon day, is the most significant day among the five days Deepavali festivities and the ceremonies followed on that day are known as Lakshmi Puja, Lakshmi-Ganesh Puja and Deepavali Puja. The Hindus worship Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, and Ganesh, the God of auspicious beginnings also known as the banisher of obstacles.
Deeyas (little clay pots) are lit in the homes and streets to welcome prosperity and well-being.
On this day, ink bottle, pens and new account books are worshipped. Ink bottle and pen, are sanctified by worshipping Goddess Maha Kali. New account books are sanctified by worshipping Goddess Saraswati.
Govardhan Pooja and Bali Pratipada (1 Kartika or 1 Shukla Paksha Kartika):
In North India, this day is celebrated as Govardhan pooja, also called Annakoot.
According to Hindu mythology, Lord Krishna taught people to worship Govardhan, the supreme controller of nature, a manifestation of himself and to stop worshiping Lord Indra, the Lord of Swargaloga and also the god of Rains. Indra was furious and directed his wrath on the people by raining on them. Krishna lifted the Govardhana hill to save his kinsmen and cattle from rain and floods.
For Annakoot, large quantities of food are decorated symbolising the Govardhan hill lifted by Krishna.
In the states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the Govardhan pooja is performed with great zeal and enthusiasm.
In Haryana Govardhan Puja forms an important part of the celebrations of Diwali. There is a tradition of building hillocks with cow dung, to symbolize the Govardhan hill. After making such hillocks, devotees worship them after decorating them with flowers. They move in a circle round the cow dung hillocks and offer prayers to Lord Govardhan.
In Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, this day is celebrated as Bali-Pratipada or Bali Padyami. The day commemorates the victory of Vishnu, in his dwarf form Vamana, over the demon-king Bali.
In Maharashtra, it is called Padava or Nava Diwas (new day). Men present gifts to their wives on this day. In Gujarat, it is celebrated as the first day of the Vikram Samvat calendar.
Yama Dwitiya or Bhau-Beej (2 Kartika or 2 Shukla Paksha Kartika):
On this day, siblings meet to express love and affection for each other. Brothers visit their sisters’ place on this day and usually have a meal there, and also give gifts to their sisters.
This tradition is based on a story when Yama, lord of Death, visited his sister Yami (the river Yamuna). Yami welcomed Yama with an Aarti and they had a feast together. Yama gave a gift to Yami while leaving as a token of his appreciation. So, the day is also called ‘Yama Dwitiya’.
Bandi Chhor Divas (Diwali), the Sikh celebration of the sixth Nanak Guru Har Gobind’s return from detention in the Gwalior Fort, coincides with Diwali. This coincidence has resulted in celebrating the day among many Sikhs and Hindus.
Many Buddhists in India celebrated the anniversary of Emperor Ashoka’s conversion to Buddhism around the time of Diwali.
Jains celebrate the anniversary of Mahavira’s (or Lord Mahavir) attainment of nirvana on October 15, 527 BC. Many Jains celebrate the Festival of Lights in his honor.