Category Archives: India Unveiled

a tiny and tantalizing glimpse into the cultures and traditions of my homeland.

‘INCONVENIENT RELATIONS’ Ebook and AMAZON GIFT CARD GIVEAWAY!

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Here’s a chance to win a free Ebook copy of my Contemporary Romance Novel ‘Inconvenient Relations’ which KIRKUS REVIEWS calls- ‘An Often Intoxicating-Will They-Won’t They Tale’ (More reviews and sample chapters here)

As well as an AMAZON GIFT CARD

You can get more entries by following me on Twitter, Tweeting the Giveaway, Liking my Facebook Page and Sharing the Giveaway

ENTER GIVEAWAY HERE

Like and Share if you care for #Women’sRights

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This is not a movie or a TV show, this is real. Two young sisters were molested in broad daylight in Rohtak, a city in the Indian state of Haryana and they had to fight back alone while everybody watched in silence.

If this isn’t shameful what is? For us to have to fight for our dignity in the 21st century?

And this happens everyday. Women are abused and tormented not just by strangers, but by their own family- fathers, husbands, boyfriends, sons and they are expected to bear it quietly because it is their lot. They are the ‘weaker’ and ‘subservient’ species. They are treated as sexual toys and the act is celebrated as in ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ and the like– yes there are takers for such stuff but what about those women who don’t want to be used and abused? Who just want to be able to go to school, to travel alone, wear jeans and carry mobile phones? Who want to be treated as regular human beings?

Don’t they have rights too?

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Navratri- Celebration of the Divine Feminine

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Navratri  (in Sanskrit meaning Nine Nights) is the celebration of the feminine divine.  During this festival nine forms of Shakti or Devi are worshiped. She is the ultimate embodiment of creative energy and celebrating her is considered most auspicious. This is one of the most important festivals of the Hindus and is celebrated all over India and the opportunity arrives twice a year: in the beginning of spring and autumn.

Just as India is a land of many languages and cultures, the celebration of Navratri too takes various forms. In West Bengal, the last four days are celebrated as Durga Puja where exquisitely decorated life size clay dolls of the Goddess depicted as slaying the demon Mahisasura are set up and on the fifth day are immersed in the river.

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In Maharashtra and Gujarat, the festival is celebrated with the energetic Garba and Dandiya Raas dances.

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In South India steps are set up and decorated with dolls in an arrangement called Golu.

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The festival culminates in on the tenth day in Vijayadashami meaning ‘victory on the tenth day’ which refers to Lord Rama’s victory over the ten headed demon Ravana as well as that of Goddess Durga over the demon Mahisasura.

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Spicy Snacks Beside the Sea- Juhu Beach, Mumbai

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On a pleasant December afternoon (Yes, December!) take a break from hectic metro life and wander onto the famed Juhu Beach in Mumbai, India. And there, enjoy the sight of the locals drinking  Kala Khatta (Indian blackberry juice, spiced with black salt, lemon juice and pepper and eat spicy Bhel (puffed rice, vegges spiced with tangy tamarind juice) or if you are brave enough sample it yourself. 🙂

Karna-The Warrior of The Sun Chap 1: A Mistake

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Anyone who dares to delve into the study of Hindu mythology would not only find it complex and confusing, but also an extremely intriguing amalgam of colorful characters and their stories. Mahabharat, the longest poem ever written, is one such epic. It is replete with tales of glorious courage as well as treacherous deceit.. And perhaps the character whose story is most compelling of all is Karna, a great warrior much extolled for his exploits, but who unfortunately never got his due.

The following is an attempt to retell his story from his own point of view. This is a work of fiction, hence is bound to have several errors. Please ignore them and read on. This story is penned by a young and very talented guest writer Emrys. 🙂

THE WARRIOR OF THE SUN

1: A Mistake

 

Eons ago, on the banks of the river Beas, Sage Vyasa continued narrating the story of the Mahabharatha to his scribe Lord Ganesha, who wrote—

Princess Kunti of the kingdom of Kunti was asked to rest in her room, as apparently she had had a very long day. She obeyed, for she wouldn’t dare argue with her father, King Kunti-Bhoj. Absently lowering herself onto the bed, she recalled what had happened earlier that day.

For the past several weeks, Kunti had been tirelessly attending to the Sage Durvasa’s needs and unreasonable demands. Her father had entrusted her with this task, as the powerful Sage, known for his quick temper, could not afford to be angered. Pleased with her dedication, he awarded her the Atharvaveda Mantra, which enabled her to beget a son blessed with the qualities of any God she invoked.

I wonder if there is any truth in the spell or if it’s just a whole lot of mumbo-jumbo, the young princess thought, staring unseeingly at a pair of peacocks dancing deliriously in the rain just outside her window.

Later, when the showers had stopped and the sun had sunk low in the skies, Kunti snuck out of the palace. Fortunately no one saw her as all were engaged in the preparations of a grand farewell feast for the great sage. Taking cover of the growing shadows, she ran into the dense thicket of Ashoka trees that lay to the west of the palace. An accomplished horsewoman and huntress in her own right, she felt no fear navigating her passage in the semi darkness.

She emerged at the bottom of a tall cliff, on the other side of which was a river whose waters sparkled like gold in the rays of the setting sun. Panting, Kunti wiped away the beads of sweat from her brow, feeling a strange sense of foreboding hang over her. After a slight hesitation, she recited the mantra, calling for Surya, the Sun God. Moments after she uttered the last word of the prayer, blinding rays of light hit her, making Kunti shield her eyes and stagger a few steps backward. And indeed, it was Surya, with a small, wailing child cradled in his arms. She smiled–so the sage had meant what he had said. That was all she wanted to know.

“All right, my lord,” she told the Sun God.”You may now return to your heavenly abode. I am sorry for causing you trouble, I only wanted to test the mantra.”

“Unfortunately, Kunti, I cannot. I am bound by the mantra, so I must give you this child.” Surya smiled, holding forth the baby.

Kunti was horrified. She couldn’t have a child! She was still a single woman! “Wh..what? N..no, you can’t, my Lord!”

“But you must! The mantra cannot be reversed.”

“I am not prepared for–” Before she could complete her protest, the Sun God was gone, and the child was in her arms.

With the beautiful baby boy pressed to her chest, Kunti slowly walked down to the river. She weaved a basket out of reeds while watching the child, tears brimming in her eyes. The princess noticed with awe that he was covered with magnificent golden armor, and dangling from his ears were beautiful, diamond-studded earrings. Planting a light kiss on his forehead, Kunti set the baby in the basket, then proceeded to place him in the water with great reluctance.

“Goodbye, my son. I love you so much, but I cannot take you with me.” She murmured, choking back tears as she watched the basket float down the river. I hope that you will forgive me.

tbc

PS: Please share your thoughts.