The cynosure in most village festivals in Tamilnadu would be entertainment items such as the theru koothu, karakaattam, dancing, singing, drama or a pattimandram (debating platforms), etc. But, what many, even in Tamilnadu, do not know is the fact that this nondescript village enacts 100 dramas every year to please the village deity – “Thaanaai mulaitha Thanilinga Perumal” (தானாய் முளைத்த தனிலிங்கப் பெருமாள்) meaning “self-sprouted Thanilinga Perumal”. So much so, the villagers do not fancy cinema theatres.
Even in this modern scientific era, women barred from entering the Thanilinga Perumal temple, pray to the deity standing outside the temple.
On the stage erected in front of the temple, the villagers allow only performance of dramas. They consider the stage sanctified and none can approach it wearing any kind of footwear.
According to a former village headman, the deity Thanilinga Perumal loves staged dramas; hence his devotees perform dramas 100 days per year to please him.
Devotees entreat the deity to fulfil their request and in return pledge to stage a drama of their liking when the deity answers their prayers.
This tradition of staging dramas in this particular village dates back to the days of Thirumalai Nayakkar who ruled Madurai from 1623 to 1659 when a severe drought brought famine to Valayankulam and other surrounding villages. Since the people believed the deity Thanilinga Perumal loved staged drama, they pledged to perform a drama if he answered their prayer for rain. Miraculously, it rained and the village had a bountiful harvest. As obligated, the villagers staged a drama the following year to thank their village deity. From then on to date, the village has been performing dramas to please their deity.
Around this time, when king Thirumalai Nayakkar visited the Thanilinga Perumal temple, the villagers entertained him by performing a drama from Mahabharata titled “Abhimanyu Sundari” – the story of Abhimanyu, son of Arjuna and Subhadra, and his first wife Sundari. The king relished the play and praised the actors who took part in it, and those actors adopted the phrase ‘Thirumalai mechinaar‘ (திருமலை மெச்சினார்) meaning ‘Praised by Thirumala’ as their family name.
Consequently, the first play performed during the drama festival would always invariably be Abhimanyu Sundari performed exclusively by members of the Thirumalai mechinaar families
Every year the drama festival begins on Maha Sivarathri or ‘Great Night of Shiva’, a Hindu festival celebrated annually in reverence to mark the marriage of Lord Shiva and goddess Parvati – the convergence of Shiva and Shakti. From that day onwards the villagers enact a drama daily for 100 days without any interruption.
The villagers believe that if anyone prays to their deity and pledges to stage a drama, the deity would hearken to their prayers. The villagers of Valayankulam boast that barren couples who pray for issues would come to the temple the following year with their offsprings and offer their thanks by sponsoring a drama.
In the past, when there was no electricity, the villagers lit the stage using flaming torches. Hence even now, to uphold the tradition, the villagers carry flaming torches from the village square to the stage with pomp and ceremony before the day’s play begins. When the torch bearers reach the stage, the pujari or archaka (priest) performs special ceremonies in the temple.
After paying the due respects to the seniors of the village, the play will begin at 10:00 pm and will proceed till 5:00 am the following day. The pujari keeps the door of the sanctum sanctorum open during this time for the deity to view the play.
The drama festivities will culminate on Chithra Fullmoon Day followed by a banquet for people belonging to all castes.
The minimum cost of staging a play by mediocre actors would amount to ₹25,000 and might go up to ₹60,000 to ₹1,00,000 if performed by cinema actors. Almost all Tamil drama actors and artisans connected with the dramatic art have performed or taken part on the stage at Valayankulam before the deity Thanilinga Perumal.
Staging a play at Valayankulam whenever one likes is not easy as anyone might think. Devotees who have pledged to sponsor a play have to pay ₹100 and wait in a long queue for at least a year to stage it on a stipulated date.
Note: I gleaned most of the above details from the article published in dhinasari.com written in Tamil titled, “வருடத்தில் 100 நாட்கள் நாடகம் நடைபெறும் கிராமம்” (“A village where dramas are performed 100 days per year”) by Mr. S.P. Senthilkumar, a reputed Tamil journalist from Madurai, Tamilnadu, India.
The incidents that happened over the last twelve days in Jaffna have been given ethnic and political hues by the media in Sri Lanka.
Pungudutivu (Tamil: புங்குடுதீவு) is an islet composed of a few villages, west of the Jaffna Peninsula in Sri Lanka. The Dutch colonial rulers named the islet as “Middleburg” during their occupation of Ceylon.
In 1990, when Pungudutivu came under the control of the LTTE, the rich and the educated inhabitants left the islet for safety and greener pastures. Some shifted to Colombo while others left Sri Lanka.
After the Government forces recaptured Pungudutivu from the LTTE, about one third of its former inhabitants returned to the islet. Many found their abodes in a dilapidated state. As of now, this islet is a paradise for smugglers of Sri Lanka and South India. Many of them indulge in the lucrative trafficking of heroin.
On May 13, 2015, Sivayoganathan Vidhya, a 17-year-old Advance Level student of Pungudutivu Maha Vidyalayam did not return home after school. The worried family members contacted her school and her friends. They learned that Vidhya had not attended school that day.
The family members went to the police station to lodge a complaint. The police told the family to search for the girl on their own. A policeman in a nonchalant manner blurted out a pithy stock and irresponsible rejoinder, “Don’t worry. She must have eloped with her lover. She will return in a few days.“
The following morning, Vidhya’s brother went out searching for her. He followed the route she takes from school to her home. He found one of his sister’s slippers. From there, he followed the trail to a remote jungle area and found the mutilated corpse of his sister. It was a gruesome sight – her hands tied above her head with her school tie, her legs spread apart and tied to two trees, her mouth gagged with a piece of cloth.
Vidhya’s brother shouted and soon some residents gathered at the scene. Police arrived and sent the teenage girl’s corpse for postmortem examination.
According to the police reports, sometime ago, S. Saraswathi, the mother of the rape victim had witnessed a robbery committed in a doctor’s house by three brothers. After that, she had appeared at the courts and testified against them. Suspecting that they might have committed the sordid crime to avenge her, the police arrested the three brothers as suspects.
Based on the statements of the three brothers, the police arrested five others on the following day. One of them worked in the Pradeshiya Sabha office in the area and the other four employed in Colombo.
On the day of the incident, the five suspects had arrived in Pungudutivu from Colombo. After the gang rape and murder of Vidhya, they left for Colombo. They came again to Pungudutivu and attended Vidhya’s funeral. After the funeral, before they could return to Colombo the police arrested them.
The nine apprehended suspects revealed that a person named Mahalingam Sivakumar alias Kumar was the leader of their gang that raped, tortured and murdered the teenager. Sivakumar, a resident of Pungudutivu, a heroin baron and one who engages in other illegal activities is a Swiss national of Sri Lankan Tamil origin. He had recently returned to Sri Lanka from Switzerland.
That night, residents of Pungudutivu seized Mahalingam Sivakumar and tied him to a pillar. After venting their rage by humiliating him, they handed him over to the police. Hitherto, the police had not received any complaints against Mahalingam Sivakumar.
The deputy minister of women’s affairs for the area intervened for the release of Mahalingam Sivakumar.
According to the media, Dr. V.T. Tamilmaran, the Dean of the faculty of law at the Colombo University, is a relative of Mahalingam Sivakumar. Tamilmaran is one of those among the educated who left Pungudutivu earlier. Now, he aspires to contest the Pungudutivu electorate at the next election.
The website lankanews.com reports that that according to information seeping from within the police itself, and according to stories doing the rounds across the whole of the north, Dr. Tamilmaran approached his friend, the senior DIG Lalith Jayasinghe in charge of the North. He told the DIG that Mahalingam had returned only recently to Sri Lanka from Switzerland. He stressed that Mahalingam Sivakumar was innocent. Some sources say that the senior DIG Lalith Jayasinghe had reportedly taken a bribe of four million rupees to release Mahalingam Sivakumar, the prime suspect.
Some media sources say that Mahalingam Sivakumar, the prime suspect was set free by the police.
Some other media sources say that on the instructions of the senior DIG Lalith Jayasinghe, arrangements were made for Sivakumar to escape while taking him to the hospital for treatment for the wounds he had incurred when the residents of Pungudutivu seized and humiliated him. Sivakumar then fled to Colombo.
The people of the North were shocked, provoked, furious and enraged over the escape of the prime suspect even after the residents of Pungudtivu helped the police by apprehending and entrusting him to their custody.
Mahalingam Sivakumar rented a room in a lodge in Wellawatte, Colombo. The lodge owner noticing the bruises on Sivakumar’s body informed the Wellawatte police. So, on May 19, 2015, the police arrested Sivakumar the second time inadvertently and not through efforts initiated by them. If the lodge owner had not informed the police, the rapist-murderer would have escaped from Sri Lanka.
Some media reported that on May 19, 2015, the residents who were in an explosive and justifiable rage, held Dr. Tamilmaran, his London-based daughter who is in Sri Lanka on a holiday, and a few others as captives. They demanded that the police should apprehend the criminal Mahalingam Sivakumar immediately. About five and half hours later, the police informed the people that Sivakumar was in the custody of the Wellewatte police. Though the people did not trust the information, they nevertheless released Dr. Tamilmaran and others.
If we look at the other side of the story, Dr. V.T. Tamilmaran, told Ceylon Today that Pungudutivu being his hometown, he had gone there to assess the situation over the brutal killing of Vidhya. He said:
“I am very much aware about the misconduct of one of the 10 suspects who returned from Switzerland. The suspect M. Kumar visited Pungudutivu on and off, and whenever he arrived there he created big problems to the people in the area. In fact I sought Police assistance in arresting the suspect. However, the guy had managed to escape while he was in the Police custody.”
Dr. Tamilmaran also added that when he attended a meeting on Tuesday, May 19, 2015, over the incident in Pungudutivu there were some men who were under the influence of liquor shouting in abusive language against him. He said that certain political elements were behind tarnishing his image following the recent speculation of his entry into politics. He also said that he was much disturbed over the incident in his village Pungudutivu , which had produced several eminent personalities in the field of education, and many leading businessmen in the country hailed from his village.
The news of the sordid crime spread among the people of the north like wildfire.
Students, teachers and staff of the nine schools in Poonguditheevu, the staff of the Department of Education, and the general public from all walks of life gathered on the grounds of the Maha Vidyalaya. There they staged a protest against the rape and killing of the 17-year-old student.
On May 21, 2015, the business community in the North staged a hartal to protest against the alleged rape and killing of the teenager. All shops in the North remained closed and people stayed away from their workplaces.
Protesters gathered in the vicinity of the Magistrate Court and the Police Station in Jaffna.
Out of anger and hate, people protested. Fearing the Police would let the suspects off the hook, the violent mob attempted to harm the eight arrested suspects while the police escorted them. The mob also attacked the police personnel who tried to save suspects from being assaulted.
When the protesters found that the main suspect Mahalingam Sivakumar was not brought to the court, the mob turned restive and pelted the court premises with stones.
The police responded by firing tear gas shells to disperse Jaffna mob. Around 130 suspects were remanded on charges of unlawful assembly and stoning the Jaffna Courts Complex.
On May 22, 2015, the Jaffna court issued an order banning all demonstrations in Jaffna. The order was issued to Janatha Balaya Organisation, Jaffna Women’s organization and Northern Provincial Councillor Anandi Shashidharan.
The media as usual focussed on the public protests rather than focussing on the reason behind it, namely rape.
There are suggestions that Mahalingam Sivakumar, the main suspect in the rape cum murder case, is well-connected as can be seen in the following photographs that I came across on Naangal Yaalpanam/Facebook.
The above photo circulated in the media of Mahalingam Sivakumar, posing with former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse is morphed for political gains. In the original photograph, it was ‘Swiss Ranjan’ an opponent of the LTTE, now residing in Switzerland.
There is always a blessing that springs out of any adversity. Sri Lankans are now reacting to this incident not as Tamils, Sinhalese, Muslims, Burghers, or Malays, but as one people of a country unified in its disgust and horror on learning about the raping of the 17-year-old Tamil maiden.
On Friday, May 22, 2015, Wijedasa Rajapakshe, incumbent Minister of Justice shamed a racist media person in public by retorting:
“… we’re not Tamil, Muslim or Sinhala, but simply human.”
“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”
– Mother Teresa
Born in 1981, Narayanan Krishnan, a former award-winning chef hails from Madurai, Tamilnadu, India.
In 2002, while working at Taj Hotels, Bengaluru, India, he secured a job as a chef in a five-star hotel in Switzerland. Before heading for Europe, he went to his birthplace to see his parents. There, on his way to a temple, he saw a distressing scene. Narayanan recalls:
“I saw a very old man, literally eating his own human waste out of hunger. I went to the nearby hotel and asked them what was available. They had idli [rice cake], which I bought and gave to the old man. Believe me, I had never seen a person eating so fast, ever. As he ate the food, his eyes were filled with tears. Those were the tears of happiness.”
Narayanan forfeited the job in Switzerland. From June 2002 onwards, using his savings of about $2500, he started distributing around 30 food packets a day for the destitute in and around Madurai City.
Narayanan Krishnan action reminds me of an incident in the Gospel of Mark:
Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Mark 10:21)
In 2003, Narayanan Krishnan founded the nonprofit Akshaya Trust. In Sanskrit, Akshaya means “non-depleting.” In Hindu mythology, Goddess Annapoorani fed the hungry with the never depleting “Akshaya bowl”. Krishnan said that he chose the name Akshaya “to signify that human compassion should never decay or perish … The spirit of helping others must prevail forever.”
Narayanan Krishnan wakes up every day at 4 am and with his team, prepares a simple hot meal. After loading the cooked food in a donated van, the team goes out to feed around 400 destitute, mentally disabled, and elderly people in Madurai. He provides them breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Narayanan Krishnan shaves a destitute.
He not only feeds the needy, he has also acquired the skills of a barber. With the comb, scissors and razor he carries along with him, he cuts hair and shaves those he serves, transforming them into dignified persona. Krishnan says:
“I cut their hair, I give them a shave, I give them a bath. For them to feel, psychologically, that they are also human beings, that there are people to care for them, that they have a hand to hold, and a hope to live. Food is one part, and love is another part. So, the food will give them physical nutrition, and the love and affection which you show will give them mental nutrition.”
Narayanan Krishnan, born into the Brahmin caste says:
“Brahmins are not supposed to touch these people, clean these people, hug these people, feed these people. Everybody has got 5.5 liters of blood. I am just a human being. For me, everybody is the same. “
Many destitute people do not know their names or where they come from. Some, because of their conditions, are paranoid and hostile. They do not beg, ask for help or offer thanks. Even then, their attitude only helps strengthen Krishnan’s steadfast resolve to help them.
“The panic, suffering of the human hunger is the driving force in me and my team members of Akshaya,” he said. “I get this energy from the people. The food which I cook … the enjoyment which they get is the energy. I see the soul. I want to save my people.”
In 2010, Narayanan Krishnan was in “CNN heroes 2010” list. He was selected among the top 10 out of 10,000 nominations from more than 100 countries.
Narayanan Krishnan summarizes his goal:
“What is the ultimate purpose of life? It is to give! Start giving. See the joy in giving.“
The above image of a snake makes regular rounds of the Internet every few months or so. Each time the incident was purported to have occurred in a different geographic locale.
Today, once again, I came across the same photograph of a distended snake with the caption: “ANACONDA EATS WOMAN ALIVE!”
In August 2012, someone using this photograph, claimed a serpent ate a man in Qujing, China.
In January 2013, the snake swallowed another person in Jakarta, Indonesia,
In February 2013, it gobbled a man whole in Panama.
In June 2013, it devoured a woman near Durban North, South Africa.
In October 2013, the snake gulped down a 4-year-old child in Pasir Gudang, Malaysia.
In November 2013, the python made its way to Attapady, Kerala, India to swallow a drunkard lying beside the liquor shop.
Now, you be the judge.
The Python reticulatus also known as the (Asiatic) reticulated python, is a species found in Southeast Asia. The specific name, reticulatus, is Latin meaning “net-like”, or reticulated, and is a reference to the complex color pattern. They are the world’s longest snakes and longest reptile, but are not the most heavily built. Adult pythons can grow to 22.8 feet (6.95 metres) in length, and grow to an average length of 10–20 feet (3–6 metres). They are nonvenomous constrictors and not considered dangerous to humans. Although large specimens are powerful enough to kill an adult human, reports of attacks are rare. It is not found in countries such as South Africa.
The Boa constrictor
The Boa constrictor is a species of large, heavy-bodied snake. It is a member of the family Boidae found in North, Central, and South America, as well as some islands in the Caribbean. It has varied colour and pattern and are distinctive. Ten subspecies are currently recognized.
The anaconda is a large snake found in tropical South America. Although the name applies to a group of snakes, it is often used to refer only to one species in particular, the common or green anaconda, Eunectes murinus. It is one of the largest snakes in the world.
Although the name refers to a snake found only in South America, the name commonly used in Brazil is sucuri, sucuriju or sucuriuba.
Peter Martyr d’Anghiera suggested the South American names anacauchoa and anacaona. Henry Walter Bates questioned the idea of the origin of the South American names. Bates in his travels in South America, failed to find any similar name in use.
Some researchers believe the word anaconda is derived from the name of a snake from Ceylon (Sri Lanka). In 1684 Andreas Cleyer described its habit. Cleyer described a gigantic snake that crushed large animals by coiling and crushing their bones.
Henry Yule in his Hobson-Jobson noted the word anaconda became more popular due to a piece of fiction by a certain R. Edwin published in 1768 in the Scots Magazine. Edwin described an anaconda crushing and killing a tyger when in fact tigers never occurred in Sri Lanka. Yule and Frank Wall noted that the snake was in fact a python. They suggested a word of Tamil origin anai-kondra (Tamil: ஆனை கொன்றா) meaning elephant killer.
A more-likely Sinhalese origin was suggested by Donald Ferguson. He said the word Henakandaya (Sinhalese: හෙනකන්දය; hena = lightning or large, kanda = stem or trunk) was used in Sri Lanka for the small whip snake (Ahaetulla pulverulenta).
Bhuvaneshwari means “The Queen of the Universe.” In Hinduism, there are ten Mahavidya goddesses and Bhuvaneshwari is the fourth. The goddess is an aspect of Durga or Devi. She can transform situations according to her wish. The Navagrahas (9 planets) and Trimurti (Trinity) cannot stop her from doing anything, and in Tamilnadu it is the same with actress Bhuvaneswari the dream girl of many South Indians and nothing can stop her from getting involved into avoidable problems.
According to “Koppiyam” telecast on Raj TV, actress Bhuvaneswari, also known as the poonai kan (cat-eyed) Bhuvaneswari, the voluptuous and sexy actress South Indian B grade actress hails from Sankarankovil, Tirunelveli District, 56 km away from Tirunelveli City. She studied B.Com., at the Rani Anna Government College for Women, Tirunelveli. But other sources claim that Bhuvaneswari was born on June 4, 1975, in Chittoor, Andhra Pradesh, India; and a Facebook page bearing her name mentions her mother tongue is Hindi.
With her beautiful mien and voluptuous figure she got selected to act in an ad for a leading textile firm in T. Nagar, Chennai. From then on she received calls to act in minor roles in TV serials.
In 2002, due to a misunderstanding with a politician the police arrested her for prostitution. When she came out on bail, her husband left her with her child.
In 2003, film director Shankar offered Bhuvaneswari a chance to play the role of a prostitute in the movie “Boys” directed by him. She performed the role with alacrity using her real-life experiences. This movie was simultaneously released in Tamil and Telugu bearing the same name as the title.
Here is a clip from the Telugu version of the movie:
From then on Bhuvaneswari garnered young fans who revered her as their dream girl.
She was then offered scintillating sexy minor roles in many Telugu and Tamil films and seductive villainous roles in Tamil and Telugu TV serials, and more opportunities to prostitute herself came her way.
Politicians approached her for their party propaganda work. However, when problems arose due to her flesh trade, her high-profile clients and the politicians who banked on her glamour for propagating their party ideology, forsook her.
In real life, Bhuvaneswari got arrested more than once for running prostitution rackets in Chennai. In 2008, police arrested her for prostitution. However, she was given a clean chit and was released due to political pressure.
The proverb “Once bitten, twice shy” does not apply to actress Bhuvaneswari.
When the police received complaints from Bhuvaneshwari’s neighbors, they raided her apartment in Shastri Nagar, Chennai on Friday, October 2, 2009. Caught while entertaining her customers, Bhuvaneswari was once again arrested along with two of her accomplices for allegedly running a brothel at her residence.
Her arrest shook Kollywood and Tollywood. She said that she can name many major and minor actresses in the South Indian cine field who charged their clients lakhs of rupees per hour for entertaining within closed doors.
The police said that Bhuvaneswari ran a high-profile brothel for many years. According to reports from one source, she charged rates ranging from rupees 10,000 to two lakhs per hour for their services while another source said she charged two lakhs to seven lakhs.
She was later acquitted.
In late 2012, Bhuvaneswari went with her friends that included her lawyer Mr. Damodaran to see actor Vijay’s movie “Thuppaki” at Prarthana drive-in theatre in Injambakkam, a town in Kancheepuram district in Tamilnadu. As their car entered the premises of the drive-in theatre, it bashed into the car in front. An altercation ensued between their driver and Mr. Kumar the driver of the damaged car. Police reported that Lawyer Damodaran assaulted Kumar. Bhuvaneswari also got out of the car and harangued Kumar.
Selvaraj, an employee in the drive-in theatre tried to pacify the two parties and Bhuvaneswari’s friends beat him too.
On receiving information about the incident, police from Neelangarai Police Station arrived at the scene. While Sub-Inspector Krishnamoorthy and Jeep drive Bhaskar were admonishing Bhuvaneswari and her friends, a gang of thugs appeared on the scene and assaulted the policemen, the theatre staff, and a few members of the public who were in the theatre premises. The thugs also damaged flower pots and digital banners.
When they saw Sub-Inspector Krishnamoorthy staggering as a consequence of the blows he received, Bhuvaneswari and her friends scooted from the scene in their car.
The police registered a case against Lawyer Damodaran, actress Bhuvaneswari, and her friends under nine sections including attempt to murder, damaging public and private property, and so forth, and were on a constant lookout for them.
The police then received information that the absconding actress, the lawyer and others were on their way to Bengaluru via Velore by road. The alerted Ambur police and the highway police inspected all vehicles plying on that route.
At 10 am they stopped a Lenova car carrying Bhuvaneswari. When the police asked her whether she was Bhuvaneswari, she had replied that she was a businesswoman returning to her home in Bengaluru.
After actress Bhuvaneswari and Lawyer Damaodran were apprehended,. Six others involved in the case surrendered to the police, and all were lodged in the Puzhal Central Prison in Chennai.
Bhuvaneswari has acted in more than 50 films in Telugu and Tamil languages, such as Boys (2003), Donga Ramudu & Party (2003), Sema Ragalaiand (2004) Gudumba Shankar (2004), Konchem Touchlo Vunte Cheputanu (2005), Nuwante Naakistam (2005), Hello Premistara (2007), Kurkure (2008), Pinchu Manasu (2009), Vattapparai (2009), Nagaram (2010), Ranga The Donga (2010), Agarathi (2011), Gaali (2013), Sravya (2013), Ala Jarigindi Oka Roju (2013) and many more. Bhuvaneswari acted as the leading heroine in the film “Kurkure“.
On May 12, 2014, the officials of the Tirunelveli City Police and the District Revenue Department of Tirunelveli assembled at a spot in Asirvatha Nagar in Palayamkottai, Tamilnadu, India, and exhumed the body of a 36-year-old mechanical engineer and a film financier who was reported missing since January 2014.
According to the Police, Ronald Peter Prinzo, the deceased, hailed from Parapadi village in Nanguneri Taluk, Tirunelveli District, in Tamilnadu, India. He was married and had two sons.
Prinzo along with his friend Uma Chandran of Palayamkottai ran computer centers in many towns including Tenkasi, Alankulam, and Pavoor Chathiram. When the computer centers ran at a loss, Prinzo left for Kolkata. There he earned a good deal of money from various ventures. He then came to Chennai and started an online trading business. His friend Uma Chandran joined him as the partner and invested money in Prinzo’s online trading business.
After leasing a house in V.R.S. Nagar First Street, in Maduravoyal, West of Chennai, Prinzo traveled once a month to Tirunelveli to see his family.
Prinzo also financed Tamil films and had acted in a couple of them. Even though the two movies were never released, he got acquainted with many people in the cine field.
In 2012, he met the gentle, soft-spoken, 22-year-old Shruti Chandralekha, a married budding actress from Bengaluru, at a film shoot in Salem.
Shruti had acted in minor roles in some Tamil and Kannada films. She had gotten married when she was 16 to a person named Manjunath. But after a few years she left her husband and started acting in minor roles in Kannada and Tamil films.
Shruthi moved into Prinzo’s residence as his live-in partner.
After a few months, Prinzo started bringing many other women to his house for his carnal pleasure. This infuriated Shruthi and she quarrelled with him constantly.
The online trading failed. Prinzo’s business partner, Uma Chandran asked him to return the money he had invested. But Prinzo refused to pay him. After that Uma Chandran constantly pestered Prinzo for the money.
Prinzo forced Shruti into prostitution. He decided to make porn movies and relentlessly pressurized Shruti to take part in group sex in the porn films. He also started bringing many other women to his house for his carnal pleasure. This infuriated Shruthi and she quarrelled with him constantly.
An enraged Uma Chandran waited patiently for a chance to avenge Prinzo. He then came to know that Prinzo and Shruti were not getting along well. He and some of his friends met with Shruti and hatched a plot to murder Prinzo.
On the night of January 18, 2014, when Prinzo came home, Shruti gave him poisoned milk to drink while being intimate with him.
After the poison took effect, Uma Chandran, John Prinson, and their friends from Tirunelveli – Honest Raj alias Saddam, Gandhimathinathan alias Vijay, Vijay, Rafiq Usman, Vinoth Nirmal Singh and Elisa – entered the house and strangled Prinzo with nylon rope.
Shruti and the murderers reportedly took rupees 75 lakh in cash, a Volkswagen Polo car, and other valuables from Prinzo and shared the booty.
They took the body in a car all the way from Maduravoyal to Maharajanagar in Palayamkottai and buried the body in an already dug up deep trench in a vacant plot in Asirvatham Nagar.
A fortnight later, on February 1, 2014, Shruti lodged a complaint with the Maduravoyal police saying that her ‘husband’ Prinzo was missing since January 18, 2014.
On April 12, 2014, Justin Prinzo, elder brother of Ronald Prinzo lodged a similar complaint at the Palayamkottai Police Station about his missing younger brother.
On May 10, while returning to Tirunelveli from Chennai, Justin saw his brother’s car in Madurai. When he intercepted it, he found John Prinson driving it. When Justin asked about his brother Prinson gave contradictory answers and said Prinzo had gone to Calcutta. Not satisfied, Justin informed the police about Prinzon driving his missing brother’s car.
The Maduravoyal police picked up Prinson and he confessed to the crime.
By the time the police arrived, Shruti and Uma Chandran absconded. The police arrested Uma Chandran’s accomplices Sadam, Vijay, Rafeeq and Vinoth.
On May 12, 2014, Prinzo’s body was exhumed after Uma Chandran’s accomplices showed the officials of the Tirunelveli City Police and the District Revenue Department of Tirunelveli the spot where they buried the dead body. A post-mortem was conducted on the recovered remnants of Prinzo’s decomposed dead body.
In the meantime, Maduravoyal police received information that Shruti was taking part in a shooting of a Tamil film at Mahabalipuram. Before the police arrived, Shruti took off from the shooting venue along with her new paramour Uma Chandran and his aide Vinoth Nirmal.
The police then received a tip-off that she was hiding in the house of a relative in Bengaluru. But again, she escaped to Hyderabad. Shruti and Uma Chandran confounded the police by skipping from one place to another.
Eventually, on Thursday, September 4, 2014, Chennai police apprehended Shruti in Bengaluru. Shruti was produced before a court and remanded.
The hunt is now on to nab Uma Chandran, the prime accused, and his aide Vinoth Nirmal.
Judging and condemning others, is an easy task. We come to conclusions based on our observations and interactions with others. Most of us label the people around us: “He’s an idiot”, “She’s a slut”, “He’s an oaf”, etc., etc.
But who are we to pass judgment? What rights do we have to appraise others?
This brings to my mind two sayings in Tamil:
“இன்னது மெய் இன்னது பொய் என்று யார் சொல்லலாம்?”
(Transliteration: innathu mei, innathu poi endru yaar sollalaam?)
Meaning: “Who can tell which is true and which is false?”
Meaning: “the eye can lie, the ear can lie, best is to investigate thoroughly.”
So, we must investigate thoroughly before condemning others. Also, we must learn to forgive those who displease us.
All of us have a right to our justified anger.
Though psychologists tell us that “anger is a human emotion that is completely normal and generally healthy” doesn’t mean that we have the right to take that anger out on our loved ones, friends, neighbors, or any other human being or living creature.
Forgiving is just not an attitude. It involves using our will and intellect to forgive and forget. We should not wait for the feeling to forgive come to us; because that may never happen. And, if you find it difficult to forgive, then pray to God and ask Him for the grace to forgive.
Martin Luther King Jr., said:
“First, we must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love… Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Giving is a spiritual practice and has a spiritual value. All the major religions of the world teach their followers to give, to provide for the poor and the needy.
The pali word ‘dāna‘ and the Sanskrit word ‘daan‘ mean giving or generosity. In Hinduism and Buddhism, it is also used to mean the practice of cultivating generosity.
For the Hindus, there are five important points to keep in mind:
Give with the heart not with the head.
Give with Joy, not reluctantly.
Give only that is useful to the other person, not rubbish.
Give without expecting anything in return. There should be no give and take.
Give with humility, love and compassion, not with pride or arrogance.
For the Buddhists,
Giving (dāna) as a formal religious act has the effect of purifying and transforming the mind of the giver.
Generosity developed through giving leads to being reborn in happy states and the availability of material wealth. Conversely, lack of giving leads to unhappy states and poverty.
Giving without seeking anything in return leads to greater spiritual wealth. Moreover, it reduces the acquisitive impulses that ultimately lead to continued dukkha (sorrow).
In Judaism, traditional Jews give at least ten percent of their income to charity and their homes commonly have a pushke, a box for routinely collecting coins for the needy. Jewish youths continually go door-to-door collecting cash and sundry for various worthy causes. A standard mourner’s prayer includes a statement that the mourner will make a donation to charity in memory of the deceased.
Zakat or alms-giving is the third pillar of the five pillars of Islam. It is the practice of charitable giving by the followers of prophet Muhammad based on accumulated wealth. It is obligatory for all who are able to do so. It is considered to be a personal responsibility for Muslims to ease economic hardship for others and eliminate inequality. Zakat consists of spending 2.5% of one’s wealth for the benefit of the poor or needy. A Muslim rather than to achieve additional divine reward may also donate more as an act of voluntary charity (sadaqah).
True Christians ought to follow the wisdom of Jesus. He said to his disciples:
“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
“Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.” — Luke 6:36-38
Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?
How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,’ when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own eye? You hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye. — Luke 6:41-42
On March 5, 2010, Juan Maria Bordaberry was sentenced to 30 years in prison (the maximum allowed under Uruguayan law) for murder. He was the second former Uruguayan dictator sentenced to a long prison term.
On July 17, 2011, Bordaberry died, aged 83, at his home. He had been suffering from respiratory problems and other illnesses. His remains are buried at Parque Martinelli de Carrasco.
José Mujica, the current president of Uruguay adopts a ruling style closer to center-left administrations of Lula in Brazil and Bachelet in Chile, unlike the harder-left leaders such as the late Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías, former president of Venezuela .
In 2012, José Mujica was lauded for a speech at the United Nations’ Rio+20 global sustainability conference in which he called for a fight against the hyper-consumption that is destroying the environment:
“The cause is the model of civilization that we have created. And the thing we have to re-examine is our way of life.“
Again in 2012, Mujica announced that the presidential palace would be included among the state shelters for the homeless.
In 2013 Mujica’s government pushed the world’s most progressive cannabis legalization bill through the Uruguayan Congress. He says:
“This is not about being free and open. It’s a logical step. We want to take users away from clandestine business.“
Guerilla warfare of Fidel Castro and Ernesto “Che” Guevara inspired the Tupamaros in Uruguay. Other Guerrilla outfits around the world while being inspired by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, emulated the Tupamaros of Uruguay.
To a certain extent, the Tupamaros of Uruguay became the role model for urban guerrillas in India and in Sri Lanka.
In India the various Naxalite groups that are mostly associated with the Communist Party of India (Maoist), the Kashmiri ultras funded by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan, and many other worldwide terror outfits have been inspired by the Tupamaros of Uruguay.
In Sri Lanka, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and the Tamil insurgent outfits such as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), considered the Tupamaros as their role model.
The Naxalites of India
In India, various Communist guerrilla groups, under the generic term “Naxalites”, were influenced by the Uruguayan Tupamaros.
The first Naxal movement led by Kanu Sanyal, an Indian communist politician, originated in the village of Naxalbari in West Bengal in 1967.
On May 18, 1967, Jangal Santhal, president of the Siliguri Kishan Sabha declared his support for the movement initiated by Kanu Sanyal. The members of the Sabha readily consented to adopt armed struggle for redistribution of land to the landless.
Through the activities of underground groups like the Communist Party of India (Maoist), Kanu Sanyal’s Naxalite ideology spread to less developed regions of rural eastern and southern India, such as Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. Today it has the following of displaced tribal people fighting against exploitation of their land by major Indian corporations and corrupt local officials.
During the 1970s, the original Naxal movement got fragmented into various factions due to internal conflicts among their leaders. In 1980, about 30 Naxalite groups were active in India, with a combined membership of 30,000 cadres.
Terrorists of Sri Lanka
In Sri Lanka, two terrorist groups involved in guerilla warfare against the governments were very much influenced by the Cuban revolutionists and the Uruguayan Tupamaros.
The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) of Sri Lanka
The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (People’s Liberation Front) (JVP), a Marxist-Leninist communist political party was led by Rohana Wijeweera (born Patabendi Don Nandasiri Wijeweera).
The JVP involved in two armed insurrections against the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) government in 1971 and against the United National Party (UNP) government in 1987-89.
After 1989, the JVP entered the mainstream of democratic politics. They became popular to a certain extent and participated in the 1994 parliamentary election.
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) of Sri Lanka
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), was a separatist militant organization based in northern Sri Lanka formed in May 1976 by Velupillai Prabhakaran.
The LTTE waged a secessionist nationalist campaign to create an independent and autonomous country for the Tamil people in the north and east of Sri Lanka. Their pursuit to create a mono ethnic Tamil Eelam evolved into the Sri Lankan Civil War (1983-2009).
The LTTE had a well-developed militia and were the first militant group to acquire air power. They carried out many high-profile attacks, including the assassinations of several high-ranking Sri Lankan and Indian politicians. The LTTE was the only militant group to assassinate two world leaders: former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, and Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa in 1993.
The LTTE movement is currently proscribed as a terrorist organization by 32 countries, including India. However, it had and still has the support amongst many Tamil political parties in Tamil Nadu in India.
Velupillai Prabhakaran, the founder of the LTTE, was killed on May 18, 2009, by the Sri Lankan army.
Eventually, the LTTE militants were defeated by the Sri Lankan Military in 2009.
Though the Tupamaros movement in Uruguay, the JVP and LTTE movements in Sri Lanka were annihilated by outright military action in both countries, they all have set a standard for an intelligent violence unequaled in modern times. Though there is no doubt about the flair, bravery and genius of those insurgents, there lingers doubts about their politics. The German strategist, Von Clausewitz, much admired by Lenin, wrote:
“War is only the violent extension of politics; if the politics are wrong to start with, the war will probably go the same way.”
The Tamils in Tamilnadu, Puduchery, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia, celebrate the festival called Pongal (பொங்கல்) or Thai Pongal (தைப்பொங்கல்). This festival marks the end of the harvest season. The farmers thank the Sun, the principal energizer that helps to reap a bountiful harvest.
In Tamilnadu and Puduchery, Pongal is a four-day festival. It begins on the last day of the Tamil month Maargazhi and culminates on the third day of the Tamil month Thai (January 13 to January 16 in the Gregorian calendar).
The Tamil word Pongal means “overflowing” signifying abundance and prosperity. “Thai Pirandhal Vazhi Pirakkum” meaning “the birth of Thai heralds new prospects” is an oft quoted popular saying among the Tamils.
The four days of Pongal are: Bhogi Pandigai, Thai Pongal, Maatu Pongal, and Kaanum Pongal.
First day: Bhogi Pandigai
In Tamil the first day of the festival, namely the day preceding Pongal, is known as Bhogi Pandigai. Telugu people in Andhra Pradesh too observe this day and call it “Bhogi“.
In Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh people light bonfires at dawn and burn the derelict items found in their household. This practice is similar to Holika in North India.
Next, they clean their house, whitewash and paint it if necessary, and decorate the house with banana and mango leaves and embellish the floor with kolams or rangoli (decorative patterns) drawn using brightly coloured rice powder/chalk/chalk powder/white rock powder.
In villages, owners of cattle paint the horns of oxen and buffaloes in bright colours.
In Andhra Pradesh, in a ceremony called Bhogi-pallu, elders shower a mix of ‘regi-pallu’, flower petals, pieces of sugarcane, coins and jaggery on children attired in colourful ‘langa-voni’ and other traditional wear. This ceremony is conducted to ward off evil eye and bless the children with abundance and long life.
Second day: ThaiPongal
The second day of the four days of Pongal is the principal day of the festival. This day is known as Thai Pongal by the Tamils. Pongal festival per se is celebrated on the first day of the Tamil month of Thai (January 14). This day is celebrated in all the states in India. This day coincides with Makara Sankranthi, a winter harvest festival, celebrated throughout India. On this day the Sun begins its six-month long journey northwards or the Uttarayanam. This also represents the Indic solstice when the sun enters Makara (Capricorn), the 10th house of the Indian zodiac.
In Tamil Nadu, Puduchery, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia it is celebrated as Thai Pongal.
In Andhra Pradesh, Bengal, Bihar, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh it is celebrated as Makara Sankranthi.
Gujarathis and Rajasthanis celebrate it as Uttarayana.
In Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab it is celebrated as Lohri.
Assamese celebrated it as Magh Bihu or Bhogali Bihu.
Nepaesel celebrate it as Maghe Sankranti or Makar Sankranti.
In Tamilnadu, it is a tradition for the housewives to boil milk in a new clay pot at dawn. When the milk boils and spills over the vessel, the folk blow the sanggu (a conch) shout “Pongalo Pongal!” Tamils consider it an auspicious to watch the milk boil over as it connotes good luck and prosperity.
Later, the women prepare Pongal by boiling rice with fresh milk and jaggery in new clay pots. When the rice is half-cooked, sugar, ghee, cashew nuts and raisins are added to the pot. This traditional preparation of sweet rice or Chakkarai Pongal derives its name from the festival.
Newly cooked rice is first offered to the Sun at sunrise as gratitude for a bountiful harvest. Women prepare savouries and sweets such as vadai, murukku, paayasam which they share with their neighbours.
Third day: Maattu Pongal
Cattle are important to life in rural India. They are a form of wealth to the rural folks.
The Tamils of Tamil Nadu celebrate Maattu Pongal (மாட்டுப் பொங்கல்) on the day following the Thai Pongal day. This day is also celebrated in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
The rural folk show their affection to their cattle by applying kungumam (kumkum) on their cattle’s foreheads and garlanding them. A mixture of venn pongal (sweetened rice), jaggery, banana, sugar cane and other fruits.
In many parts of Tamilnadu, youth participate in adventurous game of Jallikkattu also known as Manju Virattu, or taming the ferocious bulls to test their valour.
Fourth day: Kaanum Pongal
Kaanum Pongal is an auspicious day for family reunions for Tamils in Tamilnadu.
The Tamil word “kaanum” means “to view”. Siblings pay special tribute to their married brothers and sisters by giving gifts as a token of their filial love. People visit relatives and friends to rejoice the festive season. People have a day out with their families on river banks, beaches and theme parks.
Kaanum Pongal culminates the end of the Pongal festivities for the year.
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.