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Movies Without Popcorns

July 27, 2015
Yesterday’s expedition to watch Bahubali at a theatre unknown to me all these days brought back memories of all the strange movie going / watching experiences one has had over the years. From the time I can remember I have been watching movies – despite being an orthodox family, my father, his mother and her sister were all great movie buffs.
It was very selective, the kind of movies we would be taken to as kids. Grandmother had taken us as elementary school kids to watch some of the Russian circus movies, African Safari and likes. She was my long time movie watching buddy.
Sridhar was a preferred director, of course of the era when I started watching movies, while there mixed reactions to K.B at home. Dad hated Bharatiraja, in fact the only time I remember he lost his cool on me for watching a movie was when I accompanied someone to watch Kizhakke Pogum Rail for a second time. He watched Sigappu Rojakkal with his friend at Kutralam and that sealed his dislike for Bhara…
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CE 2019: Athi Varadar Returns

Ineffable mass of grace
who dwells on the peak of Elephant Hill,
dark blue flame in the altar
of the Lotus-Born's horse sacrifice
wish-granting tree hugged by a slender creeper,
the milk ocean's daughter:
May he make us prosper! (Verse from Varadaraja Pancasat of  Swami Vedanta Desikan translated by Steven Paul Hopkins) 
The year 2019 is eventful for the devotees of Kanchi Perarulalan. Athi Varadar Vaibhavam, the darshan of original deity who resides inside the Ananta Saras Pushkarini happens once in 40-years, and 2019 July  – August  is going to be when He will be giving His darshan again. By the time you read perhaps the Darshan would have started. Those of us who have had His darshan in 1979 remember the devotion and excitement, and wait with same devotion now. But, for those of us who were too young to understand the history and circumstances of His Jala Sayanam, 2019 is different. The eagerness to see Him, to dwell into His Mahatmiyam is difficult to express.
The Varadaraja Swam…

Shyaamalaam Saralaam Susmitaam Bhuushitaam

Silent revolutionaries - Sowbhagyalakshmi Srirama Bharati
It was May 2017, and that trip to Chennai was not just a routine stopover on the way to Kanchipuram. In April I had won the Justice Telang Fellowship in Indology - with just no more than a love for Alwars and their verses and a deep interest in traditional performing arts I had chosen the topic 'Araiyar Cevai - Millennial Retrospective'. I didn't know where to begin. Someone told me Kalakshetra had archived 'Araiyar Cevai' and I thought I will begin there.
That is when a friend told me how she was part of the team that worked on that archiving, archiving works of Srirama Bharati, the man who took Araiyar Cevai from its traditional practitioners and setting to a secular stage. I had heard about his moving, devotion soaked Cevai but just around the time I got to know about him he passed away. Too young and too early - in 2000 when he was just 50. In May ‘17 when I searched for his videos online I stumbled u…

"This is the God, this is the God of humans"

“Kannan ennum karum deivam” “karumanikkam en kannuladaagume’ “Roopa saavala sundara” “Saavale sundara roopa manohara”
The Alvar poetry, very many verses, time and again dwell on the beauty of the “black God”, the beautiful black Krishna. The idea of looking at the Gods housed in the south Indian temples as black Gods never occurred till one saw the flawless white marble idols in the north. Then came the Panduranga Vittala, a black God who again gets specifically invoked as the beautiful black deity. Many have gone into analysis of the “white” and “black” and the colours of our Gods. 
Coming from where I am the black God was just what He or She was, there was no big thought process behind the worship. The familiarity with the granite or the saligrama moolavar murtis, and the bronze utsavar murtis were something not “researched” upon. Very few moolavr murtis one sees, the “sudhai” stucco creations painted in vibrant colours like the Tiruthankal Appan or the Vatapatrasayi at Sri Villipu…

"Tuka mhane taisa otalaase thhasa Anubhaw sarisa mukha ala"

I thought life as a work from home professional would give me lot of time and enable reading and writing on my favourite subjects, religion, history, heritage etc., So, with great enthusiasm in 2010 I thought I will attempt blogging live my experience reading Mahipati's 'Bhakta Vijaya'. Neither did I complete reading the book nor could continue blogging. Here is a compilation of the few days of jotting down on blog what I felt as I read through a few chapters. May be some day, I will complete reading as well writing on it. Till then ....

I remember reading Mahabhaktavijaya in Tamil published by Lifco with stories of Saint poets of India, especially the Maharashtrian Saints Jnaneshwar, Tukaram and Namdev when I was still in school. I gave the book to my maternal grandmother with whom I was spending my vacation at that time as she was interested in reading it and forgot all about it. At the time I had no clue about the greatness of the work and its author. For y…

Porivilangaya, the mystery sweet

Visnuchitta goes to Dakshina Mathura ….and others carried arisalu and other sweets in a kavadi for the king, Visnuchitta proceeded towards Mathura in great pomp and gaiety! Out of affection, his devoted wife packed in a sack, Porivilangayas ……. -Krishnadevaraya’sAmuktamalyada
Krishnadevaraya must have been a hardcore foodie. Not only did he write extensive grants to Tirupati temple for various prasadams, he writes many a culinary details in his epic ‘Amuktamalyada’. One of the interesting references therein is a porivilangaya. As interesting as the item mentioned is the debate it gets into while being translated from the original Telugu text to English.
Srinivas Sistla who has translated the text into English in his introduction talks a little about the confusion over the word  porivilangaya which is identified as a Tamil word, and on the other explained as wood apple.
Luckily for the translator Sistla the confusion was resolved when author and Vaishnava scholar Dr.Prema Nandakumar explain…

Sun dry vegetables and get your kitchen monsoon ready

These aren’t instagrammable pictures right? Definitely not as food pictures, black and boring right? Yet, these are things that are pretty useful. One, we are prepared for the rains, stocking up for days vegetable supplies may be low, difficult to get out in the rains and shop and such circumstances. It may also help farmers if we are going to buy up produce when the demand is low, make use of more than abundant sunshine sun dry them and store for the rainy day. I am not saying anything new or not known. These are the annual rituals, seasonal rituals our mothers and grandmothers followed. I am only reiterating it – instead of complaining about high prices of vegetables at times, and about farmers throwing away their produce some other times, these age old practices may help even in urban area with a small balcony or a sunlight window.
I have alsobeen guilty of not doing much all these years, though occasional dried amlas made for Dwadashi pachadis, pickles in season though I have a …