AUGUST IN MY LIFE

A month full of mixed emotions comes to me as August

Some celebrations, some happy occasions all a must

Tagged along behind a mask are many reminiscences

Of those who once taught me to live with senses

Memories of those gone by from my life sky

Haunt me as I move ahead  untamed and not so shy

A niece is born called Simran in pleasure

An aunt is gone, Parmeshwari in heavens

A nephew is born Chetan in all charm

An aunt is gone, Maheshwari in heavens

A Father is born, Ishwar be to me like God

A grandma is gone, Khemi at par with God

A visit to the Homeland of Hyderabad Sindh

Brings the news of Atmaram an Uncle away from Sindh

A wedding of a nephew Shyam, a moment to celebrate

The death of a Father  Kishinchand with grief and debate

Kishin left his beloved Radha in August

Yet in August I celebrate the birth of Krishna

The sacred threads of Raksha  Bandhan unite

Tied untied bonds by threads of might

The wed and unwed women unite to rock

Swing the cradle of the marital bliss up the clock

They fast, they pray, to the holy hymns they sway

With colored hands, and basil plants, merrily they sing away

The Valentine season of Hinduism is the Teej

Call it Karwa Chauth and delay the timing by a squeeze

The Worship of the snakes in real and unreal

Seeking blessings,offering milk is all but a deal

Relishing the cold, fermented day old meal

Happy are those to whom hot meals do appeal

The month of August in all it’s strange

Comes with variety and some change

A niece is born Vanshika my little angel

A nephew is born Shivansh in the cradle

Memories all gather old and new

recollections of just a few

On the pathway of my life

August Appears in all strife

Sikiladi

Several things happen in our life, some sweet, some sad, some silent and some salty happenings. All these life events leave  a mark on the collar of our minds called memories. I have incidentally gained as much in the recurring month of August as I have lost in the form of my very dear ones. This poem is just a reflection of my emotional spring which flexes itself to extremes. Time being a big healer has somehow calmed me with each good and not so good experience and grief over the years has taken form of my pen to get a release.

QUESTFUL BELIEFS part 1

Time and again we have acknowledged A Supreme Power that we call God. How many of us have actually seen God? Then we say God is formless and we all have accepted this as a fact. Going a step further we worship this formless, unseen by most(I say most as some claim to have seen God) by various names, Incarnations, forms,idols, beliefs etc.

The various preachers, sages, Gurus teach us that God is not somewhere above sitting on the skies. Yet we use the term ऊपर वाले  meaning , “the one above us”. We are made to believe that God is within us. Around us and omnipresent. Logically why don’t we worship ourselves and all other living creatures the same way as we worship “God” at places of worship ? After all it is the same God in us all, in equal measure I believe. Which implies the Godliness of all beings should be identical if not same. But then, we have several contrasts among us: heroes / failures,  terrorists / peacemakers, rapists/ saviors,  healthy / unhealthy,  pretty / ugly, and the list could be an extremely long and debatable one. Equal God then is not equal to equal Godliness.

Another curiosity I nurture is about making offerings and obulations while praying. Though I don’t claim to know about  all the cultures but as per my understanding most East Asian cultures do a lot of offerings in the form of fruits, flowers, various cooked foods, incense, candles, lamps while praying. Nearly all religions have some form of Holy Water too. I wonder if those offerings, chantings, slogans, loud music etc actually please God in His/ Her formless form. For logic suggests someone without form cannot smell, taste or hear. But again, that must be the big difference between God and his creations. He feels, smells, tastes, hears all that is there in the world. So then, what are we trying to offer to him? I tend to think that these rituals were just created at sometime by some people and now what we  offer as prayers are what we fancy to be the best to our liking. Whether it is the best to God’s liking is another question.

Certain faiths indulge in slaughtering and sacrifice of animals. It is very debatable whether those slaughters for rituals are necessary. While one faith teaches not to slaughter, yet indulges in it, there is another one preaching differently. Human minds have become nothing but a gather of confused thoughts. Hinduism propagates Ahimsa yet there is a popular Hindu festival where an effigy is burnt publicly in celebration. Audacity is that, that we call it a victory of Good over Evil. So we claim to know the difference between Good and Evil? Great! That makes us supreme, but, day and day we do indulge in not so Good acts. I would give it a thought, what if my effigy is burnt?

There is this School of thought as well which suggests that we should not slaughter or kill animals. We must not consume these creatures of God as it is a sin to snatch life from a creature. I wonder, are the plants, the vegetation, the grains without life when we remove them for consumption. The Stone Age man survived on hunting for hunger. Did He earn the wrath by killing? All those beautiful flowers which we not only place as offerings during prayers, but also use them very talentedly at various arrangements in churches, temples, offices, homes, events as well as times of death are they lifeless? Why then we are supposedly allowed to end life of some beings guilt free yet we are condemned for the others?

Amongst most Asian cultures, the idols of Gods are bathed in various fluids varying from milk/ water/ saffron/ honey/ clarified butter etc. I once happened to witness one such session at a temple belonging to an International Chain of temple group in Bangalore, India. The idols of Raadha and Krishna were bathed in approximately over 100 liters of liquids, as buckets filled with milk were being poured over one after the other. Though a detailed memory has failed me, I now guess maybe each bucket ( approx 10 liters) was sponsored by a devotee and I too am guilty of being one of the sponsors who partook this ritual to pray for my son Manik who was quite young then and had recovered from a series of surgical episodes medically.

I now reflect back and amaze at the things I too did under influence. Was I sane then or am I Sensible now? At least I could have used that milk for feeding the children who did not have access to milk. It would have made no difference to Radha and  Krishna if one less bucket of milk was used to shower them. For Krishna is the provider of all to us, he would have been happier if more of his earthly hungry were fed. Secondly, I fail to understand the famous Cowherd God who tended the cows, milked them and loved them dearly actually would enjoy their milk being used so ruthlessly to be poured over his idols.

With great pride we repeat the same practice over the Shiv Lingham in temples. Agreed, the priests could be saving and using the milk in same way, but there is obvious wastage and dilution in the process . I would rather than do such a practice, provide at least one needy being of God with milk or meal or both for a year instead of  celebrating at the time of festival. Thus ensuring my life to be a festivity throughout the year.

Am I sounding like an atheist? I hereby clarify, I am a big believer of the Supreme Power and do worship God. That does not guarantee my belief in all the religious practices. Being an Indian Hindu I happen to believe in the theory of  नर नारायण  / दरिद्र नारायण (which implies that God Is found in the hearts of the poor man) and by providing at least for one being I am getting a fraction of an inch closer to God. This is my offering to God in simple terms. They say God is happier to see his creations become Godlike just as a Teacher is happy to see the students become efficient at teaching others. That is the status we must target if we must please our Supreme Beholder for in that process, we get refined as humans.

By Sikiladi

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DEW DROPS

Whence early morning, with my ritual I commence

The ritual of my morning walk, ever so again,

I spot the little daughters of the rains

who come’th to moisten the airs and omens

My wet spirit gets damper when with a touch they get a scare

they are here and everywhere in the garden

bathing the leaves, stems and fruits and flowers

Wonder  whence they come’th, whence they go

Never waiting till dawn, to see the bright sunshine

Tiny crystalline dots of dew, embellish all, not just a few

Where do they hide, before their appearance?

Where do they go, after disappearance?

Do they feel the pains now and ever?

They bring the days, and die for the days

In their hearts is their some sadness?

Or do they do this in simple madness?

Do they just live for others happiness?

What o! What are these dew drops?

Did the Gods shed them in their tears?

Were they dropped down when heavens brushed wet hair?

Or do they descend to give  Mother Earth  her daily shower?

The blades of grass, the dried logs, the rusted old fence on the yard

they all enjoy this daily shower of dew drops

Facing the bold cold they come and get all in their fold

Reminding  me of their stories when I was little and grandma was old

Stories told  of their secret  love affair with the moon,

and how it always helps them proceed when the sun goes unseen

Since those early kid hood days, the Dew Drops have enchanted me

I begin to think they too on me have a hidden crush,

or perhaps they do think they have married me

For their signs always stay layered beneath my two eyes

Those  tiny drops that shed so ever from my eyes

My very own Drops of Dew, always fresh and new

Entrapped by the heart, concealed carefully

Pouring out in measurements oh! so askew

On my cheeks they do come down

When they don’t get the happiness gown.

by

Sikiladi

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In The Media:

The Asian Weekly Edition 319 (September 30- October 6th 2016)

http://www.theasianweekly.net/web/

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THE FACE OF SKY

imageTHE FACES OF SKY

by Sikiladi (2015)

THY BEAUTY O! SKY, MAKES ME WANT TO FLY, I WANT TO FLY

THY VAST EXPRESSIVE FRAME, MAKES ME WANT TO REACH THE HEIGHTS

I WONDER HOW YOU SPEAK MY MIND SOMETIMES WITH THE COLOURS OF MOODS

YOUR DULL AND DROOPY GREYS BECOME MY PALS  WHEN SADNESS ENGULFS

YOUR SUNNY SPARKLES, BRIGHTEN MY  CHIRPY  DAYS

I FORGET NOT THE BLUES WITH DIFFERENT HUES, THAT WITNESS COZY COMFORTS

I WANT TO FLY, I WANT TO FLY, TO GIVE YOU A HUG I WANT TO FLY

I ENVY ALL THOSE BROTHER BIRDS, WHOM YOU DRAPE ALL AROUND YOU

THE LUCKY CLOUDS THAT SHRINK AND SWELL, AND CRY LIKE HELL

ARE WONDERFULLY BOUND BY YOUR ENORMOUS MAGIC SPELL

YOUR CHARMING GRACE THAT BEATS THE GRACEFUL SWAN

YOUR ALL ENGULFING ATTIRE, HOLDS WHAT WE PERSPIRE

I ASPIRE, I ASPIRE, TO TOUCH YOUR BEAUTY, I WANT TO FLY

REST TO RISE

IMG-20150909-WA0020REST TO RISE

By
Monica Gokaldas

(Published in The Asian Weekly, Nairobi 2014)

Most of us are familiar with the terms “rest in peace” or “Laid to final rest” when we refer to a person who has just died. Does the deceased person actually rest in peace? It could be a very debatable topic as many amongst us do not like talking about the dead after they have gone. The fact is well known and accepted that it is the body which dies or ends its earthly journey. The spirit lives on and it cannot be laid to rest by us mortals. So then, what is it that rests in peace? Is the body at peace after being interred in the earth or being burnt to ashes? Various religious faiths have different beliefs about the same and that must be respected.

Once physically dead, the body is done away with by the near and dear ones of the deceased. What is it that holds us from not utilizing the body further to someone’s advantage? The deceased is at peace and bliss at having left the world, having discarded the very body which was his/her identification. Moving with the shift in consciousness, we need to understand that the dead body can be further utilized to a great extent. By choosing to donate our eyes after our death, we can provide the gift of sight to the sightless. By opting to donate our organs soon after our death, we can provide improved health for those who have failed to get donors for kidneys, liver, tissues etc to name a few.

We take immense pride in the fact that we help the needy by doing charities of various sorts. Providing food, shelter, jobs, education and skills to the less fortunate members of society are great deeds. If only we could extend the term, “Charity begins at home” to “Charity begins from self” and pledge to donate our organs and grant miraculous gifts of appreciation even in death we would be improving the quality of life for many. This shall further have a lasting impact on the society where innocent are conned into organ removals by deceit due to lack of organ availability.

One organ donor saves several lives, one eye donor restores sight for two people at the least, and one skin donor can turn around some lives for the better. Medical practitioners can earn the advantage of educating their patients and their families on the same.

Let us, The Citizens of the World Society take a stand and be bold about this reform. In doing so we no more shall “Rest to rust” but instead will “Rest to rise” in part, in some other Body. The more people pledge for such donations the more people stand to benefit from this Gift of health. Then we shall truly belong to the modern society. A very important step to take having pledged any organ is to inform the people in close contact with you for they would be the ones to fulfill your wish once Death opens its doors.

OFFERING TO GOD

                    OFFERING TO GOD

By

Monica Gokaldas

(Published in “The Indian”, Hongkong 2015)

Attending any Hindu religious event or visiting a temple usually goes hand in hand with receiving or placing oblations and offerings. While receiving oblations is simply termed as receiving blessings it leaves one to wonder what the significance of placing an offering is. Is it to share something we like with God? Does it please God? Is it the right type of offering? A devotee may bring his offering to a temple or so to say to God for various reasons and in various forms. Does God actually accept and receive with pleasure? Is God selective like us? How can one be sure that an offering made, will be recognized by GOD?

In the Bhagwat Geeta, Lord Krishna says in verse 9:26 “If anyone with love and devotion offers me a leaf, a flower, a fruit or water, I will accept it.

This indicates that God is not greedy for riches or exotic foods and garments. Any offering big or small is honored and accepted when done with sanctity of the mind, purity of the soul and a selfless heart. With such attributes one does not need to struggle and publicize. A simple offering as a bunch of flowers placed with a true devotion is better than making an offering of diamonds placed with a motive of impressing the society. After all God is the giver and not hungry for anything but our love and adulation for him. It is said, when one cries to merge with the Lord, even a single tear shed in the longing is a very precious offering to the Almighty.

An offering does not necessarily have to be in a physical or material form. One could sing the praise of Lord in earnest and devoted inclination. Doing so, one doesn’t need to have a melodious voice or sing for hours. Many a times someone is told to sing at a ‘kirtan’ and they shy away saying that they can’t sing well or they don’t have a singer’s voice. In contrast, when one sings the glory of God with a true sense of singing for His ears the melody comes automatically. The mere fact when a dedication is sung for God, the process of our song reaching his ears, makes it melodic and such are times when we hear people saying, “seems like he/she is singing from the heart”. That is the reason we are taught by our mothers that while cooking anything for an oblation urge the Lord to add the nectar of his benevolence as it is being cooked for Him. It is a well known fact that the ‘Kadhan Prasad’ in any Sikh shrine tastes better than the same made at home. What makes it unique is the devotion involved during preparation. Upon invoking His grace, if a simple food item becomes tastier one can imagine a lifetime of the same grace in our daily routine.

Another subtle form of offering made to God is by serving the society. Any deed done towards making the world a better place is in itself a dedication to God. It is in doing acts of helping others, improvising the atmosphere, caring for all creatures, maintaining cleanliness that we makel offerings of a different scale. Whatever one does, whatever one eats, whatever one gives away, whatever one learns or teaches, whatever austerities one performs if done as an offering to God will make the world such a lovely place to live in as that will sow the seeds of truthfulness, honesty and love for all. Placing your jacket over a beggar trembling from cold is an offering. Taking the street children to a restaurant and serving them a meal is an offering. Adopting a child from an orphanage and nurturing him or her is an offering. Sponsoring education of students who cannot afford it is an offering. Giving free medical care to the less fortunate is an offering. Bringing in reforms at political, spiritual, moral levels for the betterment of masses is an offering.

The best part of such offerings is that they are universal and not restricted to any man made religion. The religion of those who practice such deeds is Humanity.

MOTHERING A MOTHER

IMG-20150901-WA0024MOTHERING A MOTHER

                                                                       by

                                                          MonicaGokaldas

A very commonly heard and understood term in our lives is Mothering a child but a very circumstantial evidence of Mothering a Mother is becoming more apparent in present times. How does one Mother a Mother? It is very obvious that Mothering means to take care of like a mother, and looking after a Mother how she would do, automatically becomes Mothering the Mother.

With Nuclear families becoming a norm of the times, aged or single or even widowed women become the prime responsibility of their Children in most Asian and African societies. Gone are the days of the large joint families when women had more companions at home and never became lonely even at the latter part of life. With the advent of smaller families and busier lifestyles the aged become lonelier than ever before. Readers might agree that that seeing their Mothers’ get lonely and sickly the daughters (or sons/daughters in law) usually take up the role of parenting them and take care of the mothers by becoming a Mother to them.  It is interesting to see how they even scold the mothers’ ref their health care or to correct their diet and tend to their needs and hobbies. It is worthy of note how the Mother actually starts behaving like a daughter and takes guidance from her daughter.

It is fascinating how not only the very old Women behave like daughters but at times due to the fast changing trends of life even the middle aged women look up to their daughters for advise treating them like a teacher/ parent/advisor.  Be it advise ref fashion trends, lifestyle changes, computer literacy or gadget guidance a mother usually has no inhibitions learning the so called New World Trends from a daughter. Does that make a daughter superior to the Mother? A Mother still holds that very special place in the daughter’s heart yet she is very humbled to be a Mother to the Mother.

Special mention must be made to the daughters who have sacrificed their lifestyles, their friendships, their hobbies to be present to look after and care for their Mother. In our society it is usually the Son who tends to the parents as a moral responsibility but when a daughter does so, she often does it with a Motherly feeling within her and giving up her desire to live a married life.