Window Seat: Maha-Shivaratri

Prameyanews English

Published By : Prameya News Bureau | March 10, 2024 IST

Window Seat: Maha-Shivaratri

Mrinal Chatterjee
 
Maha-Shivaratri, observed on the fourteenth day of the dark half of the lunar month of Phalguna or Magha (this year it fell on 8 March) is one of the holiest days in the Hindu calendar. It is believed that it marks the anniversary of the divine marriage between Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, representing the celestial merger of cosmic forces and the balance between masculine and feminine energies. Hindus across the country observe maha-Shivaratri-. However there are differences in the way it is observed.
 
Many believe that the planetary positions in the northern hemisphere are in such a conjunction that day that it is a potent catalyst which can help a person improve his spiritual and other energies. Many recite Sanskrit mantras like Maha-Mrityunjaya to really enhance their powers, on this very night.
 
In many states, it is primarily a ritual where young women observe fast and pray for a manly husband like Shiva.
 
It is observed in Bengal quite vigorously and differently. Jawhar Sircar, former Union Culture Secretary and a known cultural anthropologist, explained the phenomenon from a social and historical perspective.
 
“Let us try to understand why and when this festival assumed importance among the masses in Bengal. People of this state who are so averse to the cold and wear mufflers and monkey-caps as soon as it’s a little chilly, have always wondered how Shiva can survive the icy Himalayas — with just a single piece of tiger skin around his waist. But one must understand that the most popular imagery of Shiva that succeeded in Bengal was not so much the king of Kailash, but the humble peasant of Shivayana literature. Here he is portrayed as a potbellied peasant, who smokes ganja with his ganas and is chased around by an angry Parvati, with a broom in her hand.
 
Between the 15th and 17th Centuries, more and more persons joined settled life and agriculture in Bengal — and many other parts of India. They gave up their earlier professions of hunting, gathering, fishing and herding cattle, for economic improvement and social respect. This is when Bengal was coming to terms with Puranic deities. We may recall Kalketu, the hunter, who came out of the forests in the Middle Ages to set up a kingdom, where agriculture was the mainstay, not the hunting. The Mangal Kavyas, celebrated the defeat of the great Pauranc deities of North India like the Shiva of Kailash and even Durga, at the hands of the local gods and goddesses like Dharma, Manasa and Chandi. This is when the Shivayan poems of Bengal celebrated the poor peasant Shiva — not the king of Kailash. It became an instant hit with the newly emerging farmers from the lower orders and this ‘democratisation’ of worship is what distinguishes Bengal from other provinces.”
 
Sahitya Academi@70

Sahitya Academi, India’s National Academy of Letters completes 70 years on 12 March.  It undertakes literary activities in 24 Indian languages, including English.
 
The proposal to establish a National Academy of letters in India had been under the consideration of the British Government of the country long before independence. In 1944, the Government of India accepted in principle a proposal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal that a National Cultural trust should be set up to encourage cultural activities in all fields. The trust was to consist of three Academies, including the Academy of letters.
 
After freedom, the proposal was pursued by the independent Government of India, and it was decided to establish three National Academies one of letters, another of visual arts and the third of dance, drama and music. It was also decided that The Govt. would set up the Academies, but once they were established, it would refrain from exercising any control and leave them to perform their function as autonomous institutions.
 
Jawaharlal Nehru was its first chairperson. The logo of Sahitya Academi was designed by Satyajit Ray.
 
Every year since its inception in 1954, the Sahitya Akademi Awards are presented to the most outstanding books of literary merit published in any of the major Indian languages recognised by the Akademi. The first awards were given in 1955.
 
Amrita Pritam was the first woman to receive the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1956, for her magnum opus in Punjabi literature, “Sunehade” (Messages). Jayanta Mahapatra (22 October 1928 – 27 August 2023) was the first Indian poet to win a Sahitya Akademi award for English poetry in 1981.
 
Loyola@100
 
Question: What is common among Chess Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand, Politician Dayanidhi Maran and actors Vijay and Suriya?
 
Answer: All of them are alumni of Loyola College, Chennai, which turned 100 on 10 March 2024.
 
One hundred years ago Father Betram, a Jesuit priest bought 50 acres of ‘unattractive’ land in Madras (now Chennai) for Rs 60,000 and established a college. It was named Loyola College. It grew to be one of the most prestigious colleges in South India.
 
Jamnagar Jamboree
 
The social media these days are hyperactive over the pre-wedding celebration of the Ambani family. Discussions are on over the guest list (especially, who has not been invited and why) to the programs to the food served to the dresses the invitees wore. Hundreds of jokes and memes are circulating to the delight of nosey people.
 
Meanwhile I saw a wisecrack on social media:
 
If you go by traffic, then Bengaluru should be called Jamnagar!

Disclaimer:

This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write-up have nothing to do with www.prameyanews.com.

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