Category Archives: Mythology

Three Cuckoo Visitors !!!

Introduction:

Come summers, many birds arrive in India for nesting. Some come from as far as Africa. They come here just before the onset of monsoons and for this reason are connected to the arrival of rains. Three types of cuckoos are generally seen in our area. All these are brood parasites which means like Koel they lay their eggs in the nest of other bird who thinking that these are their own eggs hatch them and raise the brood. These cuckoos choose the nests of Babblers for this work. Now we will talk of three cuckoos.

Jacobin Cuckoo:

Also known as Pied Cuckoo, Pied Crested Cuckoo, it comes from Africa here. Here it is called Harbinger of the rains. In Indian mythology it is called Chatak or the seeker of ambrosia drops. Also called Barsati Papiha. Religious scriptures mention this bird.

Jacobin Cuckoo Pic by Ranjit

Grey Bellied Cuckoo

Another small cuckoo. It can be seen here these days. Most of the times it sits on the electric wires which cross over scrubby shrubs. It was earlier also called Indian Plaintive Cuckoo but now not more so. It is smaller than Pied Cuckoo. It is also called Chhota Papiha in India.

Grey bellied cuckoo: Pic Ranjit

Common Hawk Cuckoo

This cuckoo partially resembles sparrowhawks and thus is called Hawk Cuckoo. In english another common name is Brain Fever Bird. In India it is also called Papiha. Many small birds get scared in its presence. It remains sitting at a place for long durations. It seems to be a permanent resident here.

Common hawk cuckoo Pic by Ranjit

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Trolls !! Origin of the Term

Today, hardly there will be someone who is on the Internet and not using any social media platforms like twitter, Facebook and YouTube. And almost everyone using social media must be familiar with the term “Troll”.

There are people who intentionally attack others online by posting offensive comments, totally unrelated comments, pictures and memes to deviate attention, distract, demoralise. These are called Trolls and what they do is called “Trolling”.

The victims, when they see their beliefs or convictions invaded get provoked and react with helplessness and anger. The more the person tries to defend himself more they are harassed. What is more is thin some social media platforms comments can be anonymous meaning it is even not possible to know the Troll.

Some Trolls do this for amusement. There are others who work on behalf of political parties and do the trolling of the rival leaders. For this they use the comments section of the post. Thus they begin what are called Flame Wars.

Where does the word Troll come from?

In the Norse mythology and Scandinavian folklore, dating about 1610, A Troll is a class of beings who dwell away from the common people in isolated places like rocks, caves, and mountains. They are dangerous to the human beings and harassed the passersby. Troll in the mythology means an ugly Giant.

Four Leaf Clover: Good Luck Symbols!!!

Since the dawn of civilisations, man has relied on good luck in good measure. When the things don’t go his way despite all the efforts he takes the refuge in the things and omens which has the powers to turn the tide in his favour. Sometimes these things defy common logic.

Different civilisations have different symbols of good luck. For example, whenever a Hindu household starts a new venture , Lord Ganesh is worshipped. Three legged toads are a symbol of good luck in Chinese civilisation. Similarly in Christianity Four Leaf Clover is one of the good luck symbols.

Clover plant are extensively used for green fodder. There are about three hundred species of the clover. Clover leaf are generally trifoliate. This means the 3 leafs radiate from the single point of the stem.

But sometimes clover has a quater foiled leaf. These Four Leaf Clovers are very rare. It is estimated that there is only one 4 leaf clover against 10000 three leaf clover. This means chances of finding a 4 leaf clover are 1 in 10000. These are held in great esteem and are considered very lucky. They are believed to bring good luck especially if found accidentally.

The Usual 3 Leaf Variety
Four leaf clover

In Christianity, it is believed that when Adam and Eve were expelled from the Eden Garden, Eve brought with her Four Leaf Clover. So anyone in possession of the leaf is considered blessed with heaven. It is also believed that anyone in possession of four leaf clover has ability to see fairies as well as evil spirits.

In 2014 Australian daily telegraph reported that a lady named Suzi Mekhitarian has stumbled into a patch of good luck and collected 21!! Four leaf clovers from her front yard which seems to be mind boggling. Some scientists don’t believe it. They say that plants might be genetically modified to produce 4 leaf clovers.

Note: The images used in this post have been taken from the different websites through Google search. These are not being used for any commercial purpose.

Nightmares !!

A Nightmare is the terrible dream like inability to run from a dangerous situation, losing your or gadgets or a bad time in a person’s life. But it has nothing to do with Mare. Although Sigmund Freud considered as the father of modern psychology described the dreams as the awakening of the subconscious mind and fulfillment of the unfulfilled desires.

Coming to the origin of the word, it consists of two words fused together. Night and Mare. Mare is derived from middle English word  Mare which meant a “female evil spirit thought to lie upon and suffocate sleepers’. This had developed from mære in Old English – so it’s clear concerns about anything that interrupts a good night’s sleep have been around for a long time. In those olden times our understanding of the working of our brain was not good and mythology provided the explanations. Mare has been prefixed to emphasise the sleep time occurence.

Other cultures also have many words with many describing evil spirits, demons or goblin-like creatures which would ride on people’s chests while they slept, bringing on bad dreams.

Spiritual importance of Coconut

Coconut is a miraculous fruit. The water loaded with minerals and micronutrients is so refreshing. It is a life saver as it hydrates the dehydrated body. It gives nourishment without side effects.

This magical water is enclosed inside the shell, which is so tough to open, if one doesn’t have the proper tools can frustrate you. Here you have the food but still it is so far away. It teaches that one has to toil in order to achieve the success.

As the fruit matures a layer of fat begins depositing on the inner wall of the shell. Quantity of the water reduces but its sweetness increases.

Coconut grows in abundance in the coastal areas of India. It loves salty water. In fact coconut holds a place of prime importance. It’s oil is used in cooking, rubbed in the hair for shine, its outer fibre is called coir which is used in mattress making. Dry empty shells are burnt for fire in hearth.

In addition to being a food, coconut is present in so many religious ceremonies in India.

The three ‘eyes’ of the coconut represent the three eyes of the great Lord Shiva. An earthen pot or pitcher, called a Purnakumbha is filled with water and mango leaves and a coconut is placed on top. This Purnakumbha is used in the ritual of worship and adoration of the gods, called puja. It is placed as a substitute for the deity or by the side of the deity. The Purnakumbha literally means a ‘full pot’ in Sanskrit. It represents Mother Earth, the water the giver of life, the leaves life itself, and the coconut divine consciousness.

Narcissus in Us

There is a Narcissus in All of Us: More or Less

Narcissus or Narkissos was a youth of exceptional beauty and due to vanity became exceptionally proud and disdained others. When Goddess Nemesis saw this, she attracted the Narcissus to a pool of clear water. He saw his reflection in the water and fell in love with his own image. He did not left the pool and died.

The word narcissism is derived from him and means excessive self love. There is less or more narcissus in all of us. To a degree it is essential for self keep up. But many of us have it in larger measure and keep admiring their own pictures.

Peacock: The National Bird of India 

Not for nothing is peacock called the king of birds. It is one of the most beautiful birds. India has chosen it as its National bird.

It is big bird. Females don’t have the beautiful train of tailed feathers. They look drab in comparison. Every part of the body of the peacock is full of beauty except its feet.

There are many myths and fables connected to this bird in India. It is said that Krishna adorns a small peacock feather in his hair because more is most pious and devoid of any sex. It produces ear drops while dancing and the drop is lapped up by the female and she lays eggs.

Of course these are all stories. It is illogical to think that lord Krishna who had innumerable women as his consorts will consider such a choice.

In India peacocks are in plenty. In earlier times, they were commonly found in the villages roaming in the courtyards and sitting perched on the roofs and tree branches. They are commonly found in the plains areas jutting the hills.

There is a forest near my home where they are in plenty. During summer when they dance , it is sign of impending rains.

Here are some photos..

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Revival of Govardhan Parvat: The Mountain Moved by Krishna

In our country where mythology plays a big role in the lives of its inhabitants, many sites like hills, rivers, and caves have their associations with the mythology. One such concerns the Lord Krishna and is called Govardhan Parvat (mountain).

The legend is that when the uninterrupted deluge threatened to innundate Mathura, Krishna lifted the entire mountain on his little finger to make an umbrella to protect the Mathura.

UP government has planned to revive the almost barren Govardhan parvat situated about 23 kilometres from Mathura. Government plans to plant the herbal plants on the mountain. These are:

Kadamba: It is a tropical tree. Krishna and Radha are said to have conducted their love play under the cool shade of the tree. It is used as one of the raw materials in the preparation of “itars”.

Tamala or Indian bayleaf or tezpatta: It is commonly used in Indian culinary as well as medicines particularly for alleviation of diabetes due to the presence of highly antioxidant enzymes.

Karira: Scientific name is Capparis decidua. It’s spicy fruits are used for culinary purposes like vegetable, curries, and pickles. It is also used in medicine.

Pakar : It belongs to mulberry family. Leaves have sour taste.

Pilkhan: Scientific name Ficus virens. It grows to heights of about 100 feet. It is Avenue tree. It bears “strangler figs” because they can germinate on other trees and strangle them. It is used in Thai cuisine.

Halcyon days and Mythical Bird identified with kingfisher

The term halcyon days usually refers to the past times in one’s life when there a calm, happiness or successful period.
The term derives from the Latin word Alcyone who in mythology was daughter of Aeolus and wife of Ceyx. Her husband died during his shipwreck. The grief stricken Alcyone threw herself into the sea. After that both were transformed into halcyon birds identified as Kingfishers. For example the biological name of the white throated kingfisher is Halcyon smyrnensis.

When the birds made their floating nest on the sea, Aeolus restrained his winds and their was a period of calm of 14 days at the winter solstice, so that the eggs hatch into chicks and become birds.

The word halcyon comes from “Hals” meaning “sea or salty” and “kyon” meaning “to conceive” meaning to conceive in sea.

White throated kingfisher is a very beautiful bird. It is quite common in our area. Although going by its name, it is mainly a fish eater but it has modified its eating habits. It can catch insects, small rodents and lizards. That is why it can be found sitting on trees in the fields away from the water bodies.

Here are some pictures taken by me.

The Fabled Jand (prosopis cineraria) Tree

There are many references to “Jand” tree in Punjabi literature. Foremost it is connected to a place called Danabad the village of Mirza in the legend of “Mirza-Sahiban”. After getting Sahiba from her home on the day of her marriage to someone else, and sneaking on his mare-called Bakki in local language, he decides to take rest under the cool shade of Jand tree. He was overconfident that even after taking rest for the summer noon, he will make it easily to his native place before the end of the day. Rest is well known. He was killed by Sahiban’s brothers who came chasing them.

Then there is a famous Gurudwara called “Jand Sahib” in Bathinda Punjab where Guru Gobind Singh is said to have rested under a Jand tree. And and there is one tree located behind Kiran Cinema in Chandigarh which I saw today. This is said to be very old and indeed it looked like that as only skeleton was there. Many people worship it.I always thought about how this tree must look.

I found a very beautiful video describing the beauty of this tree by Mirza. it is in Punjabi language but brief summary of the meaning is “Mirza describes the cool shade of Jand tree, the branches are touching the ground, you shouldn’t say no to sitting under the shade of it. And why to stress the mare in the hot sun because it is not rainy season. You don’t worry, we will reach Danabad (his native village) before the sunset.

Before Chandigarh came into existence, there were villages here. People lived mostly rural life based on agriculture. They worship female goddesses which is attested by many temples in the area. Like Hindu culture they worshipped trees and idols. The Jand tree is one such tree which was worshipped in the area.

image

There are not many trees of this species in this area nowadays. I was curious to know how this tree looked like and other details. I found an article in the English daily “The Tribune” which gives the good information about the tree.

The tree known by scientific name of “prosopis cineraria” is endemic to dry areas and is found mostly in Rajasthan and adjoining areas of Punjab and Haryana. It is known by is known as “Jand” in Hindi and Punjabi, “jandi” in Haryanvi, “khejri” in Rajasthani, and “sami or samri” in Gujarati. The tree plays an important role in ecosystem of arid and semi-arid areas. All the parts of the tree are useful, it is called kalp taru or wish fulfilling tree.

During Vedic times, khejri wood was used to kindle the sacred fire for performing yajana. There are references of it in Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Lord Rama worshipped khejri tree known as Sami  Pooja, which represents the goddess of power, before he led his army to kill Ravana. The worshipping of this tree is referred to as samipuja. Pandavas also worshipped this tree and hid their weapons in it during their agyatavasa.

Khejri tree provides shelter and protection to animals and birds in desert areas. This tree is home to many large birds like kites, hawks and vultures.

Many Rajasthani families use the green and unripe pods (known as sangri) in preparation of curries and pickles. The importance of the medicinal value of samitree has been highlighted in our ancient literature. The bark of the tree provides immediate relief to a person bitten by snake or scorpion. Its leaves and fruits are used in preparing medicines for curing nervous disorders. The medicines prepared from its bark are also used for treating diarrhoea, dysentery, piles, worm infestations and other skin problems. The bark is also used to cure leprosy, bronchitis, asthma, tumour of muscles and to improve concentration. The gum of the tree is nutritive and good in taste and is used by pregnant woman at the time of delivery.