Monday, January 25, 2010

an abstract phase called life

[picture courtesy : Felilly [Devianart]

I stand facing the holy gate today
A bridge separating me from my haven
On the other end
I see the holy men set to choose my destiny!
Destiny - the word has always scared me.

the world I lived was so complicated
I muddled through, not knowing where my steps took me.

you said I never did it right.
you said I was still a kid and need to be guided
you never had faith in my decisions
you never allowed me to dream
you never had answers to my questions
Questions which meant life to me

I had you with me all my life
when I had to buy those color pencils
when I looked at that pretty frock with desire,
when I smiled shy to that cute boy in class,
in my teens, when privacy was denied to me
when I had to choose on my career, my life,
you were there observing, instructing, commanding
telling me how wrong I was every time
and how blessed I am to have you to guide.

you lived my life when I had one
and now, when I stand here, lifeless
I am alone, no one to instruct, to guide!
they called me stupid, insane
for I cut my vein, lay indifferent.
they say I ended my life for nothing
when did I have a life of my own?

I stand facing the holy gate today
a bridge separating me and my destiny
on the other end
I see the holy men set to choose my destiny!
yet again, some one else decides for me.

parents, you lived your life all way through. you’ve seen the good and bad of decisions taken. its human to have the urge to go back and correct the steps taken. please never let that urge kill your child's happiness. do not live their life. every moment you take from them, you are living your second life and they are loosing their first.
children, every moment of survival is tough. you could choose to fight and write your own destiny or to obey the rules of nature. today might gift you tears, tomorrow there is hope. dont let your tears stifle your future.

Friday, January 15, 2010

swamiye sharanamayyappa

Note: Long post ahead. If you dont have time, please look at the pics and read the last line :)

Finally I made it!! I visited the temple of Lord Ayyappa. It was an experience worth mentioning. I feel so different. I feel so good!

Sabarimala Sri Dharmasastha Temple is the most famous and prominent among all the Sastha Temples. The pilgrimage begins in the month of November and ends in January.Mandala pooja (November16,2009)  and Makaravilakku(Jan.14th) are the two main events of the pilgrim season. The temple stays closed during the rest of the year except for the first five days of every Malayalam month and during Vishu (April).

Certain customs are to be strictly observed if one has to undertake a pilgrimage to Sabarimala. The devotees are expected to observe austerities for 41 days prior to the pilgrimage. This begins with wearing of a special Mala( A garland made of Rudraksha or Tulasi beads). In general from then they are to refrain from meat, fish, alcohol, tobacco, sex, using foul words, refrain from hair cut and shaving. They should visit the local temples regularly and only wear plain black, blue or saffron colored traditional clothing.

Sabarimala is one of the most visited piligrim centres in the world with an estimated 45 - 50 million devotees coming every year. The world's second largest annual pilgrimage (after Hajj in Mecca) is reported to be to Sabarimala.However no female between the age of 10-50 are allowed to visit this temple. Among many other reasons the fact that core story attributed to Lord Ayyappa prohibits the entry of the women in the menstrual age group.

Erumeli (a small town in Kottayam district, Kerala) is a place, which is revered by both Hindus and Muslims. That’s because the place is famous for its Sastha Temple andVavar Mosque Vavar is believed to be a close friend of Sri Ayyappa. The vavar swamy mosque is situated right opposite the entrance of the Kochambalam (little temple, Erumeli) where there is an idol of Sri Ayyappa. The pilgrims, after paying obeisance at the Kochambalam, come out dancing, dance into the Vavar swamy mosque, shouting out their traditional chants and with the accompaniment of a musical band with drums and nadaswaram. Then they come out and dance their way through the streets of Erumeli to the Big temple (Valiyambalam).

Okies, that's some info about Sabarimala. Now about my trip!! I started my journey on 10th. I went to a temple to fill my irumudi. lrumudi is the only travelling kit which a pilgrim carries on his head during the pilgrimage. Only those who observe fasting for 41 days are allowed to carry it. Without the Irumudi one is not allowed to step onto the holy 18 steps at the Sannidhanam. This bag is in two compartments - the Munmudi (the front part) and the Pinmudi (the back part) & the opening at centre. The front portion is reserved for keeping all the puja articles and offerings to the deity. The rear part is meant to hold the pilgrims' personal requirements for the journey. No pilgrim, except the Royal Family of Pandalam, is permitted to ascend the  `Pathinettam Padi' without carrying an irumudi on the head.

I started my journey from Palakkad, my home town, at around 3 in the evening. Somehow I felt that time was moving very fast!! Usually when ever i travel in bus from palakkad to cochin which is about 150 km, i feel tired! This time though the journey of about 360 km felt like anything but tiring!! I reached Holy Pampa at 12 midnight. Took a dip in Pampa river and I felt all fresh!! Lord Ayyappa (Sri Dharmasastha) appeared to the Pandalam Raja as a child on the banks of the Pamba River. The Pamba River has been venerated as Dakshina Ganga (The Southern Ganges), and devotees of Lord Ayyappa believe that immersing oneself in the Pamba is equivalent to bathing in the Holy Ganges River. Bathing in the river, believed to absolve one's sins, is a requirement before commencing the trek through the forest to the Ayyappan Temple atop Sabarimala.

I started the trek at 12.30. It was cold, but I felt good. The trek was tough indeed. I had to stop at 5 places to catch my breathe before I reached sannidhanam. The devaswam board has done a good job! there are atleast 5 cardiac centres and 8 oxygen clinics on the way to sannidhanam. For youngsters [especially IT guys] I would advice you to start doing cardiac exercises for minimum 40 mins a day, atleast 30 dyas prior to visiting the temple. Treking with irumudikette is not that easy :)

I reached sannidhanam at around 3 in the morning. 6 km uphill from pampa. The darshan starts at 4 in the morning. So i waited in queue till 4. At 4, the temple opened with Ayyappa Suprabhatham sung by K.J.Yesudas. The queue moved fast. By the time I reached in front of the 18 holy steps, I was so excited!!

Sabarimala temple complex mainly comprises of the Holy Eighteen Steps (PONNU PATHINETTAMPADI) in the front side for ascending to the upper thirumuttom, the main temple of SREE DHARMA SASTHA, shrines of KANNIMEL GANAPTHY and NAGARAJA.  The pilgrims with IRU MUDI KETTU alone are permitted to ascend the Holy Eighteen Steps. The sacred 18 steps (Ponnu Pathinettampadi) are covered with `Panchaloham'(a preparation of special metals and mortar). The inner meaning of these 18 steps is as follows:-
The first five steps represents the Five Senses(Panchendriyas) ie visual, auditory, olfactory, gustatory and tactile. These signify theortal' nature of one's body. The next eight steps represents the eight Ashtaragas viz Kama, Krodha, Lobha, Moha, Madha, Maltsarya, Asooya, Dhumb(Love, Anger, Avarice, Lust, Pride, Unhealthy Competition, Jealousy and Boast fulness). The next three steps represents the three Gunas (nature-born qualities), Satv, (perspicuity, discernment) , Rajas (activity, enjoyment) and Thamas (inactivity, stupor). The last two steps represents Vidya (Knowledge) and Avidya (Ignorance).

It is believed that, those who detaches themselves from all these worldly pleasure, can see the Lord Ayyappa in real sense. It is considered that after climbing up these eighteen  steps reverently, one symbolically detaches oneself from all the worldly ties that bind one physically and mentally to the world . It is only then that a person will be in a receptive condition to be one in consonance with the concept of 'The Ultimate Creator'.

I touched all 18 steps and I felt like never before! The steps led me to the main temple. I had a good dharshan of 5-10 seconds. The feel that you get cannot be explained. No words could represent the peace and calmness i felt at that moment. Its an experiance I would always cherish. Then I had dharshans of Malikappurathamma and Nagaraja.

I started downhill at around 10 in the morning. The way downhill was more dangerous than the way uphill!! Walking through that path without slipppers made me think that this is how we wash our sins!! :) I reached back Pampa by 11.30. Had lunch from there. The went to Nilakkal where my bus was parked. I started my journey back at 2.30 in the afternoon. On my way back I visited Chakkulathukavu Shri Bhagavati temple, ambalappuzha SriKrishna temple and Guruvayoor temple. Watched kathakali at guruvayoor!! It was long journey and I reached back at 7 in the morning.

I took a dip in the Holy river of Pampa, touched 18 Holy steps, had a glimpse of Ponnambalavasi, I feel pure now!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

UBS ISC Annual Day Celebration 2009

UBS ISC celebrated its fourth and last annual day recently. The event was as remarkable as it always used to be - thanks to team MARCOM and the organizing committee. It was good to see so many happy faces dancing to the tunes of the music played. An evening I would remember for more than one reason.

This event also reminded me that from now on I would not be greeted by the three keys when I enter the office building! The brand some how became a part of me in the last four years. For the first time a stage in UBS had colors other than white and red. changes - it has an effect in each of us.


People who are wondering why this annual day marks the end of UBS ISC - UBS ISC which was an offshored unit of UBS is now part of Cognizant Technology Solutions. I got my new tag, id and welcome letter from Cognizant. CTS family - say hi to me! :)

Okies, coming back to the celebration - guess who was the guest for the evening!! Clue? She sings, dances and make heads turn!! :)

Yes!! We had Manasi Scott. She composed and sung Khatti Meethi for Sanjay Gupta's Acid Factory and has performed the song in the film as well.

She had 2 alternative albums released in Australia in 1998 call EAST LIGHT & TEMPLE TREE.

Manasi Scott kick-started her professional singing career with Pune's rock band Dark Water Fixation that was offered international rcording contrat with Sony in the 1990's while she was still in school.

After play-back singing in South India she released her original hindi pop album "Naach Le" in 2005. She was brand ambassador for Sunsilk and Reebok.

She has also sung playback for Saawariya fame, Mika's Loot & Tom Dick and Harry.

All in all it was an evening filled with music, dance, fun, laughter and??? aint we missing something here?? :P Yess the show stopper was as usual the "always in demand" part of any party - alcohol!! :P

I had my own share of fun welcoming this New Year [though I din booze, sachi mein!!] How was yours? :)