Just wondering… Why are men offered prasad in temples first?

I am an occassional, rather than a regular, temple-goer. And when I do go to one, it is to the Sharadamba Temple in Chembur, Mumbai. I like this particular temple because it is quiet, peaceful, and most importantly, very clean—it is a pleasure to walk on the cool granite floors. Another reason I go to this temple is because it is never crowded, except on festival days like Navratri and  Mahashivratri, and even then it is never unbearably so.

The Sharadamba Temple is one large hall with the entrance at one end and the Sharadamba deity at the other end. A simple wooden barrier separates the devotees from the sanctum sanctorum. Like in most temples, the men flock on one side of the hall and the women on the other side, though there is no physical barrier to separate the two sexes. The children, of course, keep running between the two sides.

Over the years that I have been going to this temple, I have noticed something very curious at this temple. After the aarti is over, the priest always offers it to the assembled men first, in particular the office bearers/trustees of the temple. Only then does the aarti thali come around to the women’s side. This is the case with the teertham (holy water), the prasad, as well as the flowers.

Continue reading

What’s in a name?

None of us have a say with what we are named as, do we?

It depends entirely on what our parents (or whoever else had a say in this matter) wanted to name us. But sometimes, even the parents (or whoever else had a say in this matter) do not have a choice in choosing their child(ren)’s name(s). For instance, the Tamil Brahmin (a.k.a. TamBrahm) Iyer community from Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu, follows certain pre-ordained rules. You wouldn’t find these rules in any book or magazine, as it is part of the oral traditions of the community passed down from generation to generation.

I make an attempt (albeit a tongue-in-cheek one) here to codify these “scientific”, and quirky, rules on naming children born to the TamBrahms of Tirunelveli district. My qualifications for doing so are due to my being (i) a TamBrahm from Tirunelveli District, and (ii) a recipient of this oral tradition. :-)

Some common TamBrahm names. Designed with the help of Wordle

Continue reading

Who’s no. 2 ?

What does a newspaper do if it can’t fight for the No. 1 position?

It fights for the No.2 position as illustrated by articles in today’s newspapers of both the DNA and Hindustan Times. Using data from the 2010 Indian Readership Survey (IRS), both broadsheets have claimed that they are the No.2 broadsheet in Mumbai.

The IRS results are awaited every year by advertisers and newspapers alike. The ranking of newspapers is important for both groups as it determines advertising rates and is also an indication of the reach of the particular newspaper. 

In a front page article titled, “In Mumbai, DNA retains No.2 spot” claims, the DNA says that it is

30% ahead of its nearest competition in the broadsheet category, Hindustan Times, with a TR [total readership?] of 11.65 lakhs as opposed to the latter’s 8.95 lakhs, according to the Indian Readership Survey’s third quarter results.

Continue reading