Category Archives: Food for Thought

“It is folly for a man to pray to the gods…” – Epicurus


Myself

By T.V. Antony Raj

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Rogue pastors and patients in hospitals

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Why don’t pastors perform “healing” in hospitals?

An excellent question!

The answer is that all these faith healers are just preying humbugs who are just keen on swindling innocent people who place their faith in an unseen god sketched out by these conscienceless rogues.

This act of placing one’s trust in God or god by the gullible is not a recent phenomenon. Even before the time of Jesus Christ people prayed to gods.

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Epicurus, ancient Greek philosopher
Epicurus, ancient Greek philosopher

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The ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus (341–270 BC) the founder of the school of philosophy called Epicureanism wisely said:

It is folly for a man to pray to the gods for that which he has the power to obtain by himself.

Also, keep in mind what Jesus said (Mathew 6:5-8):

“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.

But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words.

Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

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“Love me or hate me, both are in my favour, …” Did William Shakespeare Really Say That?


Myself

By T.V. Antony Raj

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'Love me or hate me' - fake Shakespeare quote

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I came across the above posted on Facebook.

Love me or hate me, both are in my favor. 
If you love me, I’ll always be in your heart.
If you hate me, I’ll always be in your mind.

This quote now circulating on Facebook is another case of attribution of something to William Shakespeare that was not really said by him. I cannot find any official attribution of this quote and it definitely falls victim to the “Shakespeare said so” syndrome.

The fact that this quote uses “you” for the singular subjective and “your” for the possessive is sufficient proof that the bard did not write this because in Shakespearean English these words would be “thou” and “thy.”

Does anyone have an idea where this quote came from?

Maybe this quote is a perverted version of William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 90: Then Hate Me When Thou Wilt; If Ever, Now

Then hate me when thou wilt; if ever, now;
Now, while the world is bent my deeds to cross,
Join with the spite of fortune, make me bow,
And do not drop in for an after-loss:
Ah! do not, when my heart hath ‘scaped this sorrow,
Come in the rearward of a conquered woe;
Give not a windy night a rainy morrow,
To linger out a purposed overthrow.
If thou wilt leave me, do not leave me last,
When other petty griefs have done their spite,
But in the onset come: so shall I taste
At first the very worst of fortune’s might;
And other strains of woe, which now seem woe,
Compared with loss of thee, will not seem so.

So, don’t be surprised if one of these days someone posts on the social media that the Holy Bible was  another work of the Bard of Avon and many would click “Like” and repost the same!

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The Worst Possible Ingredient We Consume Daily Could Be Sugar!


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Myself . 

By T.V. Antony Raj
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“It seems like every time I study an illness and trace a path to the first cause, I find my way back to sugar.”
Richard Johnson, nephrologist, University of Colorado Denver

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Sugar (Source - radhuslivet.blogg.se)

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The worst possible ingredient we consume daily could be sugar which everyone knows is detrimental to health and is the root cause of diseases, including diabetes and cancer, among many others.

Worldwide, people are consuming sugar equal to about 500 extra calories per day. That is just about what you would need to consume if you wanted to gain a pound a week. No wonder we have many obese men, women, and children around us.

Dietitians and nutritionists have established that four grams of white granulated sugar are equal to one teaspoon of sugar. In the United States, the American Heart Association recommends a daily allowance of no more than six teaspoons a day for the average woman and no more than nine teaspoons a day for the average male. However, an American consumes an average of 27 teaspoons of sugar per day.

Why do some people add sugar to almost everything they consume? Perhaps they think that the lack of sodium or fat in sugar makes it less harmful or harbor a false notion that the risk of excess sugar consumption is less than that of having too much saturated and trans fat, sodium or calories in their diet. Some even espouse the adage “what you don’t know won’t hurt you.”

Sugar specifically promotes obesity. In the past 30 years, obesity in children has doubled and the rate of adolescent obesity has tripled. The main factor is fat accumulation in the trunk of the body. One cause may be the wide consumption of fructose-laden beverages. In 2010, a study in children found that excess fructose intake (but not glucose intake) caused visceral fat cells to mature that set the stage for obesity at a young age leading to heart disease and diabetes.

In contrast, there are many who know that excessive sugar in the diet is not good for healthy living and consume it in recommended amounts and place it at the top of their list of “foods to avoid”. They know that sugar specifically promotes obesity.

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Amount of sugar in Coca-cola (Source: tribesports.com)
Amount of sugar in Coca-cola (Source: tribesports.com)

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A typical sugar packet in the United States contains two grams of sugar while all soft drinks have an excess amount of sugar with absolutely no nutritional advantage. For example, Coca-Cola contains 10.6 grams or five sachets of sugar per 100ml. So, a 250 ml can has 26.5 grams or 13 sachets of sugar and a 330 ml can has 31.8 grams or 16 sachets of sugar.

To curb rising obesity, some sectors want beverages having high sugar content taxed in the same way as cigarettes.

In the following video, Jeremy Paxman with his forthright and abrasive interviewing style speaks to James Quincey, president of Coca-Cola Europe about the sugar content in their regular Coke on BBC Two’s Newsnight.

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Gallup Analytics, the publisher of the Gallup Poll,  a widely recognized barometer of American opinion, provides market research and consulting services around the world.  In July 2015, as part of its annual Consumption Habits poll, Gallup asked 1,009 Americans about the foods they try to include or avoid in their diet.

Gallup Consumption Habits Poll, (Source - gallup.com)

In her article “Coca-Cola says its drinks don’t cause obesity. Science says otherwise“, Marion Nestle says:

Sales of sugar-sweetened and diet drinks have been falling for a decade in the United States, and a new Gallup Poll says 60% of Americans are trying to avoid drinking soda. In attempts to reverse these trends and deflect concerns about the health effects of sugary drinks, the soda industry invokes elements of the tobacco industry’s classic playbook: cast doubt on the science, discredit critics, invoke nanny statism and attribute obesity to personal irresponsibility.

In late September 2015, the American Academy of Pediatrics ended its partnership with Coca-Cola after evidence emerged that the Coca-Cola company paid for research to downplay the role of Coke in obesity. The academy’s website, healthychildren.org was sponsored mainly by the Coca-Cola company. Of the $100 million the Coca-Cola company gives to various medical and health groups, the academy received $3 million.

Members of the American Academy of Pediatrics were upset after the New York Times looked at financial data that revealed the extent of the relationship between the Academy and the Coca-Cola company.

Many pediatricians aligned to the Academy who saw childhood health problems related to obesity on a daily basis, like type 2 diabetes and hypertension were surprised to find that their organization was aligned with Coke. New York Times reporter Anahad O’Connor said: “Some pediatricians said it was analogous to a major lung association group or university partnering with the tobacco industry.”

Recently I came across the following quote purported to be that of John D. Rockefeller:

Disgusting crap just like the idiots that drink it. More salt than a pizza. More sugar than a wedding cake to cover up the salt. Why salt? Cos it makes you thirsty and what do you do when you’re thirsty? Grab a Coke. The sugar makes you pile on the pounds. I hate this drink and all the other billion dollar fizzy brands that are filled with caffeine and other shit. Drink water for god sake. They did an experiment and took fizzy drink vending machines out of some school and guess what? The kids there were less fat than the ones that kept the vending machines. If you want to be fat, Coke is it! Just avoid it, guys… It’s what the Elites want us to do EAT & DRINK but not THINK.

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School Lunch in Japan!


Myself 

 By T.V. Antony Raj

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School Lunch in Japan

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The lunch period is a learning period in Japanese schools and is used to inculcate the essence of the Japanese culture.

Lunch time is more than just eating. It provides an opportunity for the children to learn discipline, proper manners, hygiene and courtesy before, during and after a meal.

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A Flash Mob for the City of Sabadell in Catalonia, Spain.


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Myself . 

By T.V. Antony Raj

Banco Sabadell Headquarters in Sabadell, Catalonia
Banco Sabadell Headquarters in Sabadell, Catalonia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Sabadell Barcelona, the second largest city in the south of the comarca (county) of the Vallès Occidental in Catalonia, Spain is on the River Ripoll, 12 miles (20 km) north of Barcelona.

Sabadell and its archrival, Terrassa, in the east-central region of Catalonia, are co-capitals of the comarca of Vallès Occidental. These two cities pioneered the Industrial Revolution in Catalonia with their textile mills.

In the mid 19th century, nicknamed the “Catalan Manchester“, Sabadell became the most important wool city in Spain. Now, Sabadell is basically a commercial and industrial city with no significant agricultural activities.

On December 31, 1881, a group of 127 businessmen and traders from Sabadell Barcelona founded Banco de Sabadell, for financing local industries and providing them with raw materials (wool and coal) under more favourable terms and conditions.

In 1907, Banco Sabadell wound up the non-banking businesses to focus its activities on entirely on commercial banking.

In 1965, Banco Sabadell started its territorial expansion, slowly and steadily spreading to the nearby towns. In 1975, it started to expand beyond Catalonia by opening a branch in Madrid.

Now, Banco de Sabadell is the fifth-largest Spanish banking group with its headquarters in Sabadell includes several banks, brands, subsidiaries and associated banks specialises in serving SMEs (Small or Medium Enterprises) and affluent individuals interested in international trade.

Banco de Sabadell London situated at Sabadell House, 120 Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5EA (Source: manchesterhistory.net)
Banco de Sabadell London situated at Sabadell House, 120 Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5EA (Source: manchesterhistory.net)

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In 1978, Banco Sabadell expanded internationally by opening its first branch abroad in the heart of the City of London in the United Kingdom.

Banco Sabadell with its extensive commercial and operational experience and having an in-depth knowledge of the features of the Indian financial system started operating in New Delhi, India in 1994.

In 2012, on the 130th anniversary of its founding, Banco Sabadell launched a campaign called “Som Sabadell” (We are Sabadell) to pay homage to its founding city.

For culminating the campaign, Banco Sabadell arranged a scintillating flash mob with 100 people from the Orquestra Simfonica del Vallès, Cor Lieder Camera, Cor Amics de l’Òpera and Coral Belles Arts choirs.

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The Nigerian “Help Me!” Scams


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Myself . 

By T.V. Antony Raj

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Have you received any letter written by a poor person asking for money? If so, beware! This is could be the prelude to “The Begging-Letter” scam.

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Nigerian Cyber Scammers (Source: http://antifraudintl.org/)
Users in a computer kiosk in Lagos, Nigeria. (Source: http://antifraudintl.org/)

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Now, the internet and mobile phones are a boon to the scammers as they provide a vehicle to convey their blatant solicitation by email and SMS.

The present day “help me” letters are variants of the confidence trick known as the ‘419 Scam’ perpetrated by the Nigerian Scammers. The number 419 refers to the article of the Nigerian Criminal Code dealing with fraud. It is found in Chapter 35 – “Offences analogous to Stealing” under the laws of the Federation of Nigeria.

A variation to this begging letter is the advance fee scheme in which a letter through traditional mail or email, offers the recipient the “opportunity to share” in a percentage of millions of dollars that the author, a self-proclaimed government official, is trying to transfer illegally out of Nigeria, or the family member or a kin of an affluent person who had met with a tragic accident, requesting help recover the money of their parents or kin from banks, etc. The author encourages the recipient to send information such as bank names and account numbers; facsimile of passport, driving licence, for identifying information; blank letterhead stationery of the recipient; and of course, an advance to defray the cost of expenses incurred for legal expenses, payment of taxes, bribes to bank and government officials with the promise that all expenses will be reimbursed as soon as the funds are spirited out of Nigeria.

Though most law-abiding citizens are not impressed by such invitations, millions of dollars are lost to these schemes annually. Once the victim who falls for these schemes wakes up and stops sending money, the perpetrators use the personal information they received to impersonate the victim to drain the bank accounts.

The Nigerian government is not sympathetic to the victims who have actually conspired to remove funds from Nigeria violating section 419 of the Nigerian criminal code.

While the scam is not limited to Nigeria, the name “Nigeria” has become associated with almost all types of email frauds, and that nation has earned a reputation for being a center of email scam crimes.

In countries other than those in western Africa, a smart person with technical skills can find work in the electronics field and earn by helping their relatives, friends, neighbours, and acquaintances keep their computers running. Some even design websites to sell useful products. But the average Nigerians, have fewer opportunities, and they almost starve. So, most teenagers learn to fix things that are dumped. Soon after they learn to code and try to outsmart other people using their computers.

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Nigerian scammers (Source - httpgoodmenproject.com)
Nigerian scammers (Source: httpgoodmenproject.com)

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Years ago, at the very beginning, these scammers were viewed as modern day Robin Hoods in the back streets of Lagos, the center of the cyberscam universe, in the land of chronic unemployment. They were appreciated and lauded in popular music for swindling money from the undeserving outside the poor western Africa and thereby enriching themselves. The girls were eager to date them.

Genuine Nigerian businessmen had to bear the brunt of the sins committed by these scammers known as “Yahoo boys“.

Now, many ISPs restrict sending mass email if they originate from a sub-Saharan country. Many e-commerce sites block Nigerian ISPs. The Nigerian government, acceding to the request of the legitimate tech industry in the country, is tracking and cracking down on the scammers, now living underground.

Scammers in other nations such as Benin, India, Ivory Coast, Pakistan, Russia, the Netherlands, the United States, South Africa, Spain, and Togo, also have got into the game.

Below are two mails that were in circulation as far back as 2002.

SGT. IDRIS LAWAL (RTD).

IKEJA MILITARY CANTONMENT

LAGOS, NIGERIA.

SOLICITING FOR HELP.

I am Sergent Idris Lawal (rtd). I heartily beg for your help. We were retired voluntarily by the commander in chief of armed forces of the country, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida during his tenure as president and commander in chief of the armed forces. Since then we have been living in the military barracks waiting for our benefits.

Some weeks ago fire gulped the armory section in the barracks and everywhere caught fire. The entire barracks exploded and many people lost their lives. The death toll was about 2000, while some were rendered homeless. Right now we have lost all we had, property, shelter, clothing, everything.

My wife and my two kids managed to survive,. Right now they are in the hospital. One of them needs surgery on her face. We have been advised by the hospital to pay the sum of N5,000,000.00(NAIRA) which is about US$50,000.00 to commence this operation. My inability to raise the said amount, keeps me in a state of frustration. We have access to computer. That is the only thing our government did for us.

I beg you in the name of GOD to kindly assist us with any amount of money to enable us to carry out this operation. Your assistance will highly be appreciated.

Please help us. God will bless you abundantly.

We await you response.

Sgt. Idris Lawal (rtd).

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N.G.O. Registration No. D.S.W./1379

Certificate of Incorporation No.G-7206

Dear Sir/Madam,

We are the CHILDREN POSTRITY AID, a non profit, non sectional, non political N.G.O based in the Aplaku Village, located in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana.

OUR OBJECTIVES ARE AS FOLLOWS:

A. What is of paramount importance is our obligation to pay  the cost of educating the children when the parents are unable to, and fight against

HIV/AIDS in Ghana and Africa as a whole.

B. We advocate the rights o children in the line with international conventions

C. We protect the rights of children through a long term plan of building their capacity.

D. We provide self reliance at adulthood through career development and technical skill training.

E.  We protect the lives of the children against  S.T.D and HIV-AIDS pandemic.

E.  We raise consciousness about the effects on environmental degradation on economic development.

C.P.A. would really appreciate your views and thoughts of the above mentioned objectives as C.P.A. believe very strongly in bringing joy into the faces of under-privileged, deprived, refugees, able and disabled children in Ghana and other parts of Africa.

C.P.A. is writing to your organisation primarily to affiliate with your honourable organization to work together to help these children to be what God wants them to be. Please, these 483 children, made up of Ghanaian and Liberian refugee’s children, lack educational logistics such as  children’s literature books, computer books, used computers, educational toys, children’s clothing and any thing that will be of a great help to these children that none of us doesn’t know what they will be come in posterity.

I thank you so much in anticipating for your prompt reply.

Yours in the Lord’s Vineya

JONAS APPIAH.

(PROJECT DIRECTOR)

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Here is another interesting email I received at the beginning of this month. An appeal, almost a love letter, that addresses me as “dearest One!!!

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As-Salam Alyikum dearest One!!!

sonia

To

2 Dec

As-Salam Alyikum dearest One!!!

Please I apologies to you to exercise a little patience and read through my letter I feel quite safe dealing with you in this important business having gone through your remarkable profile, I will really like to have a good relationship with you and I have a special reason why I decided to contact you, I decided to contact you due to the urgency of my situation, My name is Sonia Aisha Khorovani Ahmed,24yrs old female and I held from Somalia in Eastern Africa.

My father {Late Mr.Khorovani Ahmed} was the former Somalia road Minister. He and his assistant Minister of Home Affairs Mr .Lorna Laboso had been on board the Cessna 210which was headed to Kericho and crashed in a remote area called Kajong’a, in western KENYA on one of his trip.I truly miss him,It’s painful to lose loved ones but life always has a meaning to be fulfilled according to God’s Plans.

After the burial of my late father,my stepmother and my uncle conspired and sold my father’s property which the shared the money among themselves and left nothing for me.On one faithful morning, I opened my father’s briefcase and found out the documents which he used to deposited huge amount of money in one of the leading with my name as the next of kin.

I traveled out side my country trying to contact the bank to withdraw the money for a better life so that I can take care of myself and start a new life, but it was my surprise that the Bank Director whom I have been contacting on this matter,told me that my father’s given instruction to the their bank that the money would only be release to me when I am married or if I could present a trusted foreigner partner who will help me and invest the money overseas.It was only on this vian I chose to search of an honest and reliable person who will help me and stand as my foreign trustee so that I will present him to the Bank for transfer of the money to his bank account overseas. I have chosen to contact you after my prayers and I believe that you will not betray my trust, God willing.

You may wonder why I am so soon revealing myself to you without knowing you,to me I will say that my spirit convinced me that you may be the true person to help me,  The amount is( $7,500,000.00 USD Seven Million five hundred thousand United State Dollars, and I have confirmed from the bank that they will transfer the money as soon as I present a reliable foreign trustee.

If you can help me on this matter,you will also help me to place the money in a good profitable business venture in your Country or any place of your choice.  you will help by recommending a nice University in your country where I can complete my studies. However,it is my intention to compensate you with 30% of the total money for your efforts and kindness of services and the balance shall be our capital in establishment of our investment.

Please understand that,I am giving you all this information due to the trust I deposed on you and I would never want you to reveal this matter to any other person for now even to your best friend, what I mean here is that you should, Please do keep this matter to your self for now until the bank will transfer the fund.I hope you will understand me?

I like honest and truthful person, Angryand “LIES” I hate On our relationship, hence I am always very-extra-careful in my relationship with people as I always look forward to obtain good potential carrier as well if not death of my late father.

As soon as I receive your positive response showing your interest,I will inform the bank that am ready to present the foreign trustee who will receive the fund on my behalf and would also send you the bank details, Therefore, please do not fail to respond this message as soon as possible.

Yours

Miss.Sonia Aisha.Ahmed.

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In early October 2015, I received from a so-called “Rose Dion”. At first, she sent a friend request on Facebook page. I sent her a message saying that since she did not provide me sufficient details of herself I could not accept her as a friend on Facebook. Then on October 12, 2015, I received the following letter:

Rose Dion <rosedion24@hotmail.com>
12/10/15to me
Hello my dear
I am glad to write to you, how are you once again? I hope you are fine,
I thank God for you. Your message was a total relief to me. May God protect you for me because he is the one who brought you in my life. I will like him to make a way for you, my dear, i love the way you sound to me, and i will like you to help me to come out of this camp so that i come to your country and have a free life.In this camp, We are many living as refugees and our freedom is restricted because we do not have any traveling paper. It is just like one staying in the prison and i hope by Gods grace I will come out of here very soon. At the moment, i do not have any relative whom i can go to, all my relatives ran away in the middle of the war. The only person i have now is Reverend (Charles Anthony) who is the Reverend Minister in charge of the church here in the camp ( Eglise St; Paul grand yoff Dakar Senegal). He has been very nice to me since I came here but I am not living with him rather I am living in the woman hostel because the camp have two hostels one for men the other for women.

The Rev telephone number(+221763971460) His Email ( rev.charlesantonyholy@ymail.com ) I will like you to call him if you call tell him that you want to speak with me (Miss Rose Dion) he will send for me from female hostel to come and answer your call, since i don’t have tel phone of my own here, remain that i explained to him all your effort to free me out of this condition so fill free to call him by 12: pm GMT, to speak with me.As a refugee I do not have any right or privilege to any thing be it money or whatever because it is against the law of this country. Meanwhile, i am communicating with you through the Reverend Computer because is the only means we can communicate to each other .

Again I do not work nor do anything for living as a result of eating is very difficult for me as we are given food ones a day by 12 PM. And is too had for me here, I want to go back to my studies because i only attended my first year before the tragic incident that lead me to being in this situation now, i really want to come over in your country to be with you to live the rest of my life with you and have a free life, Please dear listen to this,i have my late father statement of account and death certificate with me here which i will send to you latter,because when my father was alive he deposited some amount of money in a leading bank in Europe which he used my name as the next of kin,

the amount in question is $4.9M(four Million Nine Hundred Thousand Dollars) I have informed this bank about my intention to claim my late father deposit and the bank said that i most to provide a foreign partner who will assist me in the transfer due to my refugee status here in Senegal. as a refugee i am not allowed direct claim of the money but through an appointed representative to the united refugee law governing, So i will like you to help me transfer this money to your account and from it you will send some money for me to get my traveling documents and air ticket to come over to meet with you.I kept this secret to people in the camp here the only person that knows about it is the Reverend Father because he is like a father to me.

So in the light of above i will like you to keep it to yourself and don’t tell it to anyone for i am afraid of loosing my life and the money if people gets to know about it.Remember i am giving you all this information due to the trust i deposed on you in other to help me get my freedom here to come over in your country for a better future.I like honest and understanding people,truthful and a person of vision,truth and hard working. Meanwhile I will you to send me your contact information such as your Age …..Your full name….Country&City…..Phone number…..so that i will get to know you well My favorite language is English , i speak English very fluently because both my father and mother studied in Europe .
.Mean while i will like you to call me like i said i have allot for you,
Have a nice day and think about me.
Awaiting to hear from you soonest.love and kiss
Yours.Rose Dion

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I replied:

From this message, I can see that you are fraud. I have received many other letters like this, but I must give credit to you for your letter is somewhat convincing but not enough.

So, please don’t try to  contact me again. 

Your letters will hereafter go to the trash bin.

Have you received any similar email? Were you tempted to respond to them? Did you respond and burnt your fingers?

Beware!

 

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I Wish You “A Happy New Year!”


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Myself 

By T.V. Antony Raj

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Happy New Year 2014

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The earlier Julian calendar, as well as the modern Gregorian calendar, have January 1 as the first day of the year.

At present, most countries use the Gregorian calendar as their de facto calendar and observe January 1 as the New Year’s Day which is probably the most celebrated public holiday in the world. As the new year starts at the stroke of midnight in each time zone, people invariably greet the New Year’s Day it with fireworks. Globally, New Years’ Day traditions include making new resolutions and meeting the members of one’s family and friends.

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The Roman god Janus is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past (Source: storify.com)
The Roman god Janus is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past (Source: storify.com)

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In pre-Christian Rome, the Julian calendar dedicates the first day of the year to Janus, the god of beginnings and transitions. The Romans venerated Janus as the god of gates, doors, doorways, passages and beginnings, and named the first month of the year in his honour. This implies that the New Year’s Day celebrations follow pagan traditions.

Since 45 BC, the Roman Empire used the Julian calendar and had January 1 as the first day of the year. The Gregorian calendar created in 1582 also called the Western calendar and the Christian calendar was a refined version of the Julian calendar and it too had January 1 as the first day of the year.

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Detail of Circumcision of Jesus Christ by Pellegrino da San Daniele (Photograph: Elio Ciol/Corbis)
Detail of Circumcision of Jesus Christ by Pellegrino da San Daniele (Photograph: Elio Ciol/Corbis)

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In the Gregorian calendar of Christendom, the New Year’s Day liturgically marked the Feast of the Naming and Circumcision of Jesus. The Anglican Church and the Lutheran Church still observe the day as such.

The circumcision of Jesus is an event from the life of Jesus. Verse 2:21 in the Gospel of Luke states:

When eight days were completed for his circumcision, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

The Jewish law holds that all males have to undergo circumcision eight days after birth during a Brit milah ceremony, at which they are also given their name. So, according to Jewish tradition, Jesus born on December 25 underwent circumcision on the eighth day of his life on January 1 and named Jesus, the name given him by the angel before Mary conceived him. Hence, liturgically January 1, the New Year’s Day, marked the Feast of the Circumcision of Jesus in the Gregorian calendar of Christendom.

The Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates the event on January 1 as the Feast of the Circumcision. Likewise, the Anglican and Lutheran churches celebrate the Feast of the Circumcision of Jesus on January 1.

Roman Catholics for long celebrated the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus on January 1. Now, the Roman Catholic Church considers New Year’s Day as a Holy Day of Obligation and celebrates the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, on this day.

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“The Begging-Letter Writer” – an Article Written by Charles Dickens


The Begging-Letter Writer – A short story by Charles Dickens.

Myself . 

By T.V. Antony Raj

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Lately, did you receive any email or posts on the social networks asking for money? If so, beware! This is could be the prelude to “The Begging-Letter” scam.

In a begging letter, a person claiming to be poor, or impoverished due to prevailing circumstances begs for money or help, from a rich person or a philanthropic organization. The writer asks for monetary assistance to meet the expenses for an emergency surgery, money for orphaned children, help to recover the money of their parents or kin from banks, and often offer a percentage of the recovered sum.

These begging letters are not new. Even as far back as the late 19th century scammers sent begging letters by traditional mail.

The Begging-Letter Writer” an Essay by Charles Dickens

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Charles Dickens (1812-1870) (Source: Jeremiah Gurney / Heritage Auction Gallery)
Charles Dickens (1812-1870) (Source: Jeremiah Gurney / Heritage Auction Gallery)

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From the time Charles Dickens rose to fame with The Pickwick Papers, he was constantly plagued by begging-letter writers. In May 1850 edition of Household Words (Volume I, Magazine: No. 8), Dickens wrote an essay titled “The Begging-Letter Writer” wherein he describes examples of the many begging letters he had received over the years, and the ruses employed by their writers to gain funds from the recipients.

John Forster (1812–76)

John Forster (1812–76), a noted biographer, critic, essayist and historian, met Charles Dickens in 1836 while they worked as young journalists for the ‘True Sun‘. Forster became Dickens’ closest friend and trusted adviser. Dickens appointed him as his literary executor. After Dickens’ death, Forster published a biography of Charles Dickens in three volumes (1872–4).

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John Forster - Oil portrait by Charles Edward Perugini
John Forster – Oil portrait by Charles Edward Perugini

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In Volume 2, Ch. 8, Forster commented that there is not ‘a particle of exaggeration‘ in Dickens’s description of his victimization as narrated by him in “The Begging-Letter Writer“:

Once he [Daniel Tobin] wrote me rather a special letter, proposing relief in kind. He had got into a little trouble by leaving parcels of mud done up in brown paper, at people’s houses, on pretence of being a Railway-Porter, in which character he received carriage money. This sportive fancy he expiated in the House of Correction. Not long after his release, and on a Sunday morning, he called with a letter (having first dusted himself all over), in which he gave me to understand that, being resolved to earn an honest livelihood, he had been travelling about the country with a cart of crockery. That he had been doing pretty well until the day before, when his horse had dropped down dead near Chatham, in Kent. That this had reduced him to the unpleasant necessity of getting into the shafts himself, and drawing the cart of crockery to London — a somewhat exhausting pull of thirty miles. That he did not venture to ask again for money; but that if I would have the goodness TO LEAVE HIM OUT A DONKEY, he would call for the animal before breakfast!Forster adds, “for much of what he suffered he was himself responsible, by giving so largely, as at first he did, to almost everyone who applied to him“.

In the next paragraph, Dickens describes the case of John Walker, to whom Dickens had given money several times in 1844.

At another time, my friend (I am describing actual experiences) introduced himself as a literary gentleman in the last extremity of distress. He had had a play accepted at a certain Theatre — which was really open; its representation was delayed by the indisposition of a leading actor — who was really ill; and he and his were in a state of absolute starvation. If he made his necessities known to the Manager of the Theatre, he put it to me to say what kind of treatment he might expect? Well! we got over that difficulty to our mutual satisfaction. A little while afterwards he was in some other strait. I think Mrss . Southcote, his wife, was in extremity — and we adjusted that point too. A little while afterwards he had taken a new house, and was going headlong to ruin for want of a water-butt. I had my misgivings about the water-butt, and did not reply to that epistle. But a little while afterwards, I had reason to feel penitent for my neglect.

Walker continued to write begging letters, which Dickens ceased to answer until he got one telling him that Walker’s wife had died and begging ‘a few crumbs from your table‘ to feed the children. Dickens sent his brother Fred to check whether Walker was really in distress.

He wrote me a few broken-hearted lines, informing me that the dear partner of his sorrows died in his arms last night at nine o’clock!

I despatched a trusty messenger to comfort the bereaved mourner and his poor children; but the messenger went so soon, that the play was not ready to be played out; my friend was not at home, and his wife was in a most delightful state of health. He was taken up by the Mendicity Society (informally it afterwards appeared), and I presented myself at a London Police-Office with my testimony against him. The Magistrate was wonderfully struck by his educational acquirements, deeply impressed by the excellence of his letters, exceedingly sorry to see a man of his attainments there, complimented him highly on his powers of composition, and was quite charmed to have the agreeable duty of discharging him. A collection was made for the ‘poor fellow,’ as he was called in the reports, and I left the court with a comfortable sense of being universally regarded as a sort of monster. Next day comes to me a friend of mine, the governor of a large prison. ‘Why did you ever go to the Police-Office against that man,’ says he, ‘without coming to me first? I know all about him and his frauds. He lodged in the house of one of my warders, at the very time when he first wrote to you; and then he was eating spring-lamb at eighteen-pence a pound, and early asparagus at I don’t know how much a bundle!’ On that very same day, and in that very same hour, my injured gentleman wrote a solemn address to me, demanding to know what compensation I proposed to make him for his having passed the night in a ‘loathsome dungeon.’

Have you received any similar email?
Were you tempted to respond to them?
Did you respond and burnt your fingers?

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Add this anywhere

Chennai: Come December…


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Myself 

By T.V. Antony Raj

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Chennai floods (Source: ndtv.com)
Chennai floods (Source: ndtv.com)

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December 1, 2015:

It rained through the night in Chennai, Tamilnadu, India. The incessant rains that plagued us for the past three weeks did not seem to abate.

At 7.11 am, while I was still in bed my boarding and classmate Sunderaraj Kagoo, former Managing Partner of Star Brand Sweets, Colombo, had given me a call. I was not able to call him back since my cell’s battery had run down.

There was no way to charge my cell because we had  no electricity supply.

Of all the rainy days that started in mid-November, 2015, today it rained heavily and forcefully.

Since the cable TV line was completely out and my 100 MB internet connection was dead, there was no way to know what was happening around us. We were not able to go out of our house to shop for essentials due to the torrent.

My second daughter Subodhra living in Palayamkottai, 620 km away from Chennai, phoned my wife. She said it did not rain there in Tirunelveli. She inquired how we were faring since she saw several news channels on TV covering the floods in Chennai. She said that Velachery, about 5 km from our house was flooded and that boats were being deployed to evacuate the marooned from their flooded houses to safety. My wife assured her that we were safe.

At 6:45 pm electricity came on.

At 6:48 pm my cousin Lawrence rang up inquired whether we were safe. He assured us that his house safe. I could hear children shouting and music in the background and immediately knew that the first birthday of his second grandson Tom Philip was being celebrated. I blessed the child over the phone and told Lawrence that even if they had invited us for the birthday party we would not have made it.

At 7:00 pm my wife, daughter Sujatha and I ran to the house on the first floor of the flat opposite our house to attend the first birthday party of a year-old toddler.

At 7:30 pm while the party was on, the electric power was cut off and we had the birthday dinner by candle light.

We returned home at 8:00 pm.

It poured heavily.

At 9:00 pm since we had no electricity, TV broadcast nor the internet, I tried to call my daughter Subodhra at Palayamkottai to know about the situation in Chennai that she would have seen on TV . Alas, to our bad luck the Vodafone network was out of service.

At 9:20 pm remembering the phone call from Sunderaraj Kagoo, I tried his number, but I was not able to get through. Then I noticed that my service provider Aircel too was out of service.

Since there was no electricity, we were not able to turn on the electric mosquito repellers and had to sleep at the mercy of the swarming mosquitoes.

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After the inundation of the arterial Grand Southern Trunk (GST) Road south and north of Tambaram, all roads leading to Tambaram submerged at various stretches making Tambaram inaccessible to the rest of the city and for those heading towards Chennai city from Chengalpattu.

December 2, 2015:

It rained heavily in the morning.

I saw a few strangers in our neighbour Lokanayaki’s house. She told me that they were her relatives from nearby Pallikaranai and flood waters had entered their house up to their neck and so had come to her house for shelter.

Around 4:00 pm the rain ceased and there was only a pleasant drizzle. I took this opportunity to venture out on my two-wheeler to buy essential foods and medicines.

All the ATMs in our neighbourhood were out of service.

I went to one of the local medical shops. The proprietor was there and I asked him whether the card machine worked. The proprietor reluctantly said no. Then he asked how much my purchase would amount to. When I said more than ₹500, he said he would try to accommodate me since the backup battery had almost died out. He then took my order which amounted to ₹580 and switched on the card reader which came to life after a bit of coaxing. I thanked him for obliging and left the shop with the medicines.

The main road between Velachery and Tambaram is flooded in many places with hidden potholes lurking under the muddy waters. So, buses are not plying. I am not able to travel on my two-wheeler more than 100 metres either way from Pallikarani Oil Mill Stop.

I took the risk and waded through deep waters on my vehicle for about a kilometre and finally saw eggs stored on plastic trays at a shop. I bought a dozen eggs for ₹6 each.

On my way back home the engine of my two-wheeler stopped. I cranked the fuel tap to reserve and retraced my route. I found more than 50 people waiting in a queue to fill their motorcycles and cars at the petrol bunk. Finally, after waiting for about 30 minutes my turn came and after filling the tank with petrol and oil for ₹200, I returned home around 5:30 pm.

At 6:30 pm it was dark. I ventured out on my two-wheeler to buy a pair of batteries for my LCD torch. Almost all the shops were closed. Finally, I saw an electrical shop where an oil lamp lit the inside dimly. Luckily the batteries were available and I hurried home.

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In the evening we heard that Chennai was officially declared a disaster area.

December 3, 2015:

Rains continued to plague Chennai.

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Around 11:00 am we saw an army helicopter crossing far away from our house.

Around 1:30 pm we received electricity. We were able to see TV programmes.

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PM Narendra Modi viewing flooded Chennai from a helicopter (Source: financialexpress.com)
PM Narendra Modi viewing flooded Chennai from a helicopter (Source: financialexpress.com)

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We were made aware that the Chief Minister of Tamilnadu viewed the damages wrought by the incessant rains from the comfort of a helicopter. We also came to know that the Prime Minister who had come all the way from New Delhi too viewed the damages travelling on a separate helicopter.

At 6:30 pm some of our neighbours hurried towards the main road. My wife told me that the ATMs were working. I too took my debit card and ran to the main road. We were all disappointed for one ATM displayed the “Sorry. No money!” sign and the other two ATMs had shuttered down. It was a rumour.

Around 7:00 pm the electric supply was cut off and we were once again in the dark.

Around 7:30 pm my nephew Raphael Leo came home by motorbike to our house to inquire whether we and his mother-in-law who lives about 200 metres away from our house were safe. My son Subas Raj in Ellicott City, MD, USA had contacted him on WhatsApp and had asked him to check on us.

Though relief efforts were well underway across some of the flooded areas in Chennai, the lack of any coordinated relief response forced thousands of its residents to evacuate their houses on their own.

December 4, 2015:

From 5:00 am we had no rain and the sun shone through thick clouds. We were happy and thought the rains had finally ceased. With a letup in rainfall, floodwaters gradually began to recede in some areas in Chennai though 40 percent of the city remained submerged. Safe food and drinking water was in short supply.

Still no cell phone service. And there is no internet.

The electric supply comes in spurts. TV works intermittently even when electricity is available.

The internet was available from 1:45 pm today.

At 2:30 pm ominous dark clouds started gathering and it started to rain heavily.

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A patient getting shifted to another hospital from MIOT Hospital after flooding of the area due to heavy rainfall in Chennai . PTI
A patient getting shifted to another hospital from MIOT Hospital after flooding of the area due to heavy rainfall in Chennai . PTI

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Around 6:30 pm I saw the heart-wrenching news on TV channels about the loss of 18 patients who had died at the MIOT International Hospital in Manapakkam, Chennai, due to overflowing of flood waters from Adyar river that breached the hospital’s walls, damaging equipment in its path.

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Three Ministers: Natham Viswanathan, Gokul Indra, Selur Raju) (Source: vikatan.com)
Three Ministers: Natham Viswanathan, Gokul Indra, Selur Raju. (Source: vikatan.com)

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Two TV channels showed AIADMK Tamilnadu State Ministers Natham Viswanathan, Gokula Indra, and Selur Raju being chased away by the public when they visited the Chief Minister’s R.K. Nagar electorate. They had come to the CM’s electorate to meet the people in lieu of their head. The ministers arrived in a cortege of 18 cars, and without getting down from their vehicles, the ministers spoke to the people. This infuriated the people. They asked the ministers to get down from their vehicles and get their feet wet as they did. After an argument, the ministers with the protection and cordoning by the police escaped the fury of the mass.

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AIADMK cadres sticking stickers of JJ (Source: Dinakaran.com)
AIADMK cadres sticking stickers of JJ on foods and other essentials brought in for distribution by some charitable public and non-AIADMK organisations. (Source: Dinakaran.com)

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Then we came across the shameful news that in some areas in Chennai the AIADMK hooligans are abrogating the work done by the charitable people and NGOs in Chennai by sticking stickers of JJ on the food parcels brought by them for distribution. If they could not help at least they should not steal the credits that are due to the helping people with their hard earned money and organizations who do not belong to their party. Instead, these shameless ruffians could have volunteered to work in the flood affected areas instead of stealing efforts made by others; or they could have pressured their higher-ups from the lowly municipal councilors to the Chief Minister to distribute free food from their “Amma Canteens” and distribute free “Amma Water” Bottles.

There seems to be a voltage drop and the electricity might be cut off at any moment.

For now, my family and I are safe. Please see the TV news channels for the overall situation now prevailing in Chennai.

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A Nondescript Village in Tamilnadu, India Stages 100 Dramas Every Year!


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Myself 

By T.V. Antony Raj

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The Valayankulam village located 22 km from Madurai City in Tamilnadu, India has a population of 5705 comprising 1514 families as per the Population Census of 2011.

Map showing Valayankulam

This village has a low literacy rate – 69.57% compared to 80.09% of Tamil Nadu. The Male literacy stands at 77.96% while the female literacy rate was 61.23%.

As per the constitution of India and Panchayati Raaj Act, an elected Sarpanch (Head of Village) administers the Valayankulam village.

Valaiyaangulam Subburaj Theatre (Photo: Dhanasekaran Muthu/ssl.panoramio.com)

Valaiyaangulam Subburaj Theatre (Photo: Dhanasekaran Muthu/ssl.panoramio.com)

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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.

A drama performed at Valayankulam Thanilinga Perumal temple stage. (Source: Facebook/Art and Cultural Rights of Folk Artists)
A drama performed at Valayankulam Thanilinga Perumal temple stage. (Source: Facebook/Art and Cultural Rights of Folk Artists)

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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

A drama peformed acon stage at Valayankulam (Source: dhinasari.com)
A drama performed on stage at Valayankulam Village (Source: dhinasari.com)

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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.

Drama "Valli Thirumanam, " performed at Valayankulam Thanilinga Perumal temple..(Source: Facebook/Art and Cultural Rights of Folk Artists)
Drama “Valli Thirumanam, ” performed at Valayankulam Thanilinga Perumal temple..(Source: Facebook/Art and Cultural Rights of Folk Artists)

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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.

A drama performed on stage at Valayankulam (Source: dhinasari.com) - 2
A drama peformed on stage at Valayankulam Village ( Source: dhinasari.com)

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Flaming Torches brought by the villagers from the village square to the stage.
Flaming Torches brought by the villagers from the village square to the stage.

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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.

Audience watching a drama peformed on stage at Valayankulam (Source: dhinasari.com)
Audience watching a drama performed on stage at Valayankulam (Source: dhinasari.com)

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View of the stage from the sanctum sanctorum of Thaanaai mulaitha Thanilinga Perumal (தானாய் முளைத்த தனிலிங்கப் பெருமாள்)
View of the stage from the sanctum sanctorum of Thaanaai mulaitha Thanilinga Perumal (தானாய் முளைத்த தனிலிங்கப் பெருமாள்)

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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.

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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.

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