Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Lord For Immortality - Mrithyunjaya Temple At Thirukkadaiyur

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Mrithyunjaya/AmrithaGhateshwara/Abiraami Temple, Thirukkadaiyur
We had been to this temple thrice...for our relative's and friends' 60th birthday celebrations! We had been there a couple of days back and thought will write about it today.

This temple is particularly associated with Shiva saving his young devotee, Markendeya from death, and the tale of a saint, Abhiraami Battar, a devotee of the presiding goddess, Abhiraami.

This is a more than a thousand years old Shiva temple situated at 300 Km. from Chennai near Kaaraikkaal (off Pondicherry/Puduchery)). The main deities are Amrithaghateshwarar (Amritha Ghata Eashwara) Thirukkadaiyur derives its name from the pot, called Ghatam in Tamil. Vishnu, Indra and the other Devas needed a clean place to consume the ambrosia (Amritha) that had been churned out during the  Samudra manthan and, therefore, brought the ambrosia pot here...Wiki says), Kaala Samhaara Murthi (Markandeya, who is blessed to be ever 16 years old, worshipping this (Shiva linga) deity) and Abhiraami Ambaal, Eashwara's wife (This deity was worshipped by Abirami Battar,  a staunch devotee of Abhiraami and wrote Abhiraami Andhaadhi 100 verses in Tamil, praising her). You can hear it here.

I think Markandeya story has to be told here! Wiki is helping!

Shiva saving Markandeya from Yama (Courtesy: By Raja Ravi Varma)

Long ago, near the temple of Tirukkadaiyur, there lived a sage named Mrikandu and his wife Marudmati. They were both devotees of Lord Shiva and worshiped him day and night for many years, asking to be graced with a child. After many years of penance, Shiva appeared to Mrikandu and Marudmati. He told them that he heard their prayers and would give them a choice: they could either have a gifted son who would live to be only sixteen, or a son of low intelligence who would live a long life. Mrikandu and Marudmati chose the former, and were blessed with Markandeya, an exemplary son, destined to die at the age of sixteen.



As Markandeya grew, so did his devotion to Lord Shiva. As advised by his father, Markandeya worshipped the Shiva Lingam at Tirukkadaiyur, even bringing water from the Ganges to the temple via an underground passage. On the day he was destined to die, Yama, the deity of death, appeared with his noose to tie around the soul of Markandeya and take away his life.  Markandeya sought refuge in the Lord and embraced the Siva Lingam. Lord Shiva appeared and warned Yama not to touch Markandeya, as he was under his protection. Yama refused to listen and threw the noose anyway, binding Markandeya and the Lingam together. Angered by Yama's extraordinary arrogance, Lord Shiva kicked him and held him under his foot, making Yama inactive. Markandeya was blessed by Lord Shiva to remain sixteen years old eternally. It is for this reason that Lord Shiva is also called "Kala-samhara" (Sanskrit: "Destroyer of Time") at this temple.

Meanwhile, with Yama being rendered inactive, there were no deaths on earth, but people were still being born. Burdened by the weight of so many people and unable to sustain their hunger, the earth-goddess, Bhumi Devi, appealed to Lord Shiva for help. Lord Shiva, feeling compassionate for the earth-goddess, released Yama, allowing death to occur again. However, in order to remind Yama never to try to kill someone while they are worshipping Shiva again, the icon of Lord Shiva in this temple depicts the Lord with his forefinger raised in warning.

Since it is believed that Lord Siva subdued Yama in Thirukkadaiyur, the Lord is called Mrityunjaya (Sanskrit: "Conqueror of Death".

It is a Hindu tradition to visit this temple when the man of the family (don't know if women are given importance to do the pooja for them!) turns 60, 70, 75, 80 and hundred years old to live longer with good health.  Homams are conducted in this temple in their name and they are called:

Shashtiabhdha purthi (60)
Bheemaratha Shaanthi (70)
Vijayaratha Shanthi (75)
Shathaabhishekam (80)

For hundred years, they do 'kanakaabhishekam', I don't know if they are doing it here.

These homams are conducted 365 days a year.  Nearly 30 to 35 Homas can be conducted at a time, around the main garbhagriha of Shiva and around Abhiraami garbhagriha also, it seems.  They do Ganapathi homa, Navagraha homa, Mrithyunjaya homa, Dhanvantri homa etc. for the package.  During 60th and 80th, the man ties the mangalsutra around his wife's neck.  It is done nearly like a wedding! One more interesting thing...a priest tells us the story about why this pooja has to be done and Markandeya's story too! He was good this time!

The homams are conducted according to the cost, from Rs. 35,000 to 50,000.  Any Hindu can come here and get it done.  They can bring their relatives also.  They help in recommending restaurants and hotels (some restaurants are there.  We had it in a small house, had home made food there.  The priest helped us get this done.)

Homam is going on...
A couple of pictures of the gopuram of Thirukkadaiyur temple, which I took in the morning of the pooja:

Thirukkadaiyur temple Gopuram
Thirukkadaiyur Temple Gopuram

The priest's phone number:

Kannan: 9442688200

We stayed at Hotel Manivizha: 04364287840

They did rudra homa, the previous evening from 6 pm.  After the pooja, at 8 pm, we visited Thirunallaaru Shaneeshwara temple, which was open till 9 pm. which was just half an hour drive away. The pooja at the venue went on till 9 pm., it seems.  Next day was Shanipradhosham day and this temple would have been difficult to even enter!


Next day, after the pooja, we visited Vaitheeshwaran Temple. It was open till 12.30 pm. The pooja had started at 6 am and was over by 9.30 am. Had brunch and left!

We had visited Chidambaram temple on our way to Thirukkadaiyur, which was also open till 12.30 pm.  They open again at 4 pm in the evening, it seems. 

So, we can visit all these temples.  People who are facing Shani Dasha visit Shaneeshwara temple.  Vaitheeshwaran temple deity cures illness.  Chidambaram Nataraja temple is famous for Art.  Beautiful architecture.
Chidambaram Temple Gopuram

Chidambaram Temple gopuram
Vaitheeshwaran temple looks very very ancient.  Gopuram is not maintained properly at all.  The inside of the temple also is very bad.  But it was too crowded when we went there.  Chidambaram temple looks well maintained.  Thirukkadaiyur is OK.  But all are ancient temples.  We had good darshan in all the temples this time.  Shani darshan was also good because it was late in the evening!

I always love to visit ancient temples!



First Picture Courtesy: Here

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Now, I Am A Fan Of Ustaad Rashid Khan!

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Image result for Rashid khan, free picture
Ustaad Rashid Khan
We had been attending 'Naad Ninaad' concerts for the past few years now.  The Hindu(news paper) is sponsoring them and it comes in November.  This year too we went to Chennai's famous Music Academy to hear the music. And loved it.  Thanks goes to The Hindu!

We, i.e. our family heard about Rashid Khan (The name is pronounced as Raashid and not Rashid!) in the very old (1998)Saregama, a musical Reality programme anchored by Sonu Nigam. Many stalwarts from Hindi Film music industry and our Hindustani Classical music stalwarts participated as judges.  Many following episodes showed them singing in front of India Gate and other prominent places and we came to know about many famous Hindustani music singers then.  One of them was Ustaad Rashid Khan.  I still remember him singing in that programme.  No, I hadn't heard about him before that.  We, South Indians are involved with Carnatic music than Hindustani music then.  Now, the atmosphere is changing.  Every year we get to hear many Hindustani concerts in our famous Music season, in Chennai, in November and December!  This concert was houseful till the end, i.e. 9.30 pm! Mostly people start leaving the hall by 9 pm! Both Ustaad Shahid Parvez Khan and Ustaad Rashid Khan made us sit glued to our seat till the end! The sitar played by Ustaad Shahid Parvez Khan was divine.  I will write about him also sometime!

Please have a look at this video first.  This is just a sample.  He expanded this song elaborately, with a touch of pure classical in the end at the concert.  This one is mild, ghazal type.  Really, melodious:



Ustaad Rashid Khan (Wiki says), born on 1st July, 1996, belongs to the Rampur Sahaswan Gharana and is the great grandson of the founder Inaayat Hussain Khan.  Every gharana has got unique type of singing Hindustani music.  But Rashid Khan didn't just stick to his gharana, though he got trained in that, adopted many other gharana styles like Amir Khan's and Bhimsen Joshi's.
He is married to Joyeeta Bose, from the family of Acharya Jagdish Chandra Bose.  (The comment section in the 'yaad piya ki video gave some details). 

This information is for serious Hindustani music fans:

His renderings stand out for the emotional overtones in his melodic elaboration. He says: "The emotional content may be in the alaap, sometimes while singing the bandish, or while giving expression to the meaning of the lyrics." This brings a touch of modernity to his style, as compared to the older maestros, who tended to place greater emphasis on impressive technique and skillful execution of difficult passages.

Rashid Khan has also experimented with fusing pure Hindustani music with lighter musical genres, e.g. in the Sufi fusion recording Naina Piya Se (songs of Amir Khusro), or in experimental concerts with western instrumentalist Louis Banks.


Rashid Khan gave his first concert at age eleven, and the following year, 1978, he performed at an ITC concert in Delhi. In April 1980, when Nissar Hussain Khan (his maternal grand uncle from who he was learning music) moved to the ITC Sangeet Research Academy, Calcutta, Rashid Khan also joined the academy at the age of 14. By 1994, he was acknowledged as a musician (a formal process) at the academy.

Wiki says:  Pandit Bhimsen Joshi once remarked that Rashid Khan was the "assurance for the future of Indian vocal music".He was awarded the Padma Shri as well as the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 2006.

You can know more about him in his interview programme in Rajya Sabha TV.

Shaksiyat Rajya Sabha programme:




This is his typical classical singing.  He sang this at the concert. Click here: Awesome rendition!

He has got two daughters and a son, who also have started giving concerts.  He has done playback singing in some movies like Jagjit Singh and his voice is melodious and soft in them. This is one:

From the movie 'Jab we met':




I used to hear just Jagjit Singh's ghazals all these days.  Now, Rashid Khan will also become my favourite! Never knew about him this much.  This concert has introduced me to an incredible, unique voice!

The video which is given below shows my favourite Carnatic singer Bombay Jayashree and now my favourite Hindustani singer, Ustaad Rashid Khan in a 'different' type of music, is it fusion...well, I liked it! You too will love this! Over to Coke studio:



Sunday, November 6, 2016

Waiting...A Beautifully Made Movie!

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I seem to be writing movie reviews often nowadays! Well...I seem to watch good movies often nowadays! I am enjoying our retired, relaxed life now! Think of the positive things in life...take life as it comes! Nothing can be controlled! Whatever happens, happens for good....well, preaching ends here!

I had been planning to watch this movie for a long time now...I had read reviews about how well Naseeruddin Shaw and Kalki Koechlin had acted in this movie.

The story of the movie can be written in two lines but the way it is picturized is beautiful...

Shiv Natraj (Naseeruddin Shaw) is a very senior psychology professor, who is taking care of his comatose wife Pankaja (Suhasini Manirathnam) in a Cochin hi-fi hospital. He has sort of settled in his routine of finishing his work at home and coming to the hospital to sit beside his wife who had been in the hospital for the past 8 months.  He holds her hand and talks to her, reads to her every day.  He is friendly with the nurses (a nurse brings him food from home everyday) and doctors.

Then comes Tara Kapoor Deshpande (Kalki Koechlin) who was a recently married young advertising agent whose husband met with an accident at Cochin, now in the ICU with a severe brain injury.

Both of them are waiting in the hospital for their spouses' recovery. They meet often and come closer while consoling each other.  Both of them love their spouses (Naseer's had been a 40 years of happy marriage and Kalki loved her short term husband). 

Their generation gap is shown beautifully...how their thinking is world apart, language, how they look at their lives etc.  Kalki uses the foul words in every sentence and Naseer is a very straight forward, simple man! They come closer inspite of all these diversities.  Naseer is not even familiar with 'Twitter'! Every frame in this movie is well thought of.

I liked the acting of the assistant of Kalki's husband (Rajiv Ravindranath...new to me) and the doctor (Rajat Kapoor).  Both the cases are entirely different and I liked the way the doctor handled both of them!  Rajat also is a good actor.

Naseeruddin Shaw is a veteran actor and I have watched many of his movies.  Kalki, I liked her in 'Margarita with a straw'.

Now, to the trailer of the movie:



This movie is being screened often in TV or you can download too.  If you want to watch a meaningful movie, this is for you!
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Monday, October 31, 2016

Still Alice...This Will Go Into My Memorable Movie List!

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I think it is better to watch the trailer first!



I try to watch movies without reading the gist, or watching the trailers.  So, the story will be a surprise for me! My mind will be blank to enjoy it fully!

This movie, 'Still Alice' is about a middle aged lady, not a very old lady, Alice, stepping into Alzheimer's disease symptoms slowly.  The movie starts with Alice Howland (Julianne Moore...brilliant acting and got an oscar for this film!) jogging in the morning.  She is slim, tall and runs very fast for her age, 50! Comes home, cooks, cleans, takes care of the family of three children and a husband, goes out to work as a professor at Columbia University (as a linguistic professor to be precise) and she is famous there with her students.  While taking the class, she forgets a word here and there.  She becomes tensed up a bit and checks with a Neurological doctor and gets to know that she is in the early onset of Alzheimer's disease...She comes to know that this disease is genetic and she had got it from her father.  She tries to evade the disease by following some mental exercises.  Her whole family is supportive.

Well, I should not write the whole story.  It is a bit tension filled movie.  But Julianne's acting is so brilliant that we forget about coming out of the movie mode by just switching it off! Her physician husband, John Howland, supports/helps her a lot.  She wants her younger daughter who was in theatre, to finish her degree and be stable in her life.  She wants the daughter to be safe when she won't be there to guide her.  She loses her job because she was not able to be focused.

I liked the speech Julianne gave about the disease at the Alzheimers' conference, when she was half way into it.  You must watch the movie to appreciate it.  Many other memorable scenes/stages are there in the movie.

This movie is  based on Lisa Genova's 2007 best selling novel of the same name and is directed by Richard Glatzer and Wah Westmoreland.

This is from imdb 'trivia' section:
Co-director Richard Glatzer, suffers from ALS and can't speak. He directed the film using a text to speech app on an iPad. Both Moore and Stewart dedicated their "Ice Bucket Challenge" to Glatzer. The team couldn't attend the Oscar function where Julianne received her Best Actress award for this movie, because Glatzer was seriously ill and died later.

(Physicist Stephen Hawking suffered from this ailment and I did a post on his movie here!)

This movie and Julianne got many more awards and the list is in wiki. She is beautiful!!

Long back I read a book by Arthur Hailey, 'The final diagnosis' which was about the lives of intern students in a medical hospital.  Every night, after their classes, the students compare the symptoms of the diseases they studied in the class, on their bodies! That was a very good book.  Like that, I was checking myself at some stages in the movie! As you know, I am 'maradhimanni' i.e. Forgetful queen! I forget nearly on an average, 10 times a day, about words, things, incidents etc.  I think after I started writing here, the symptoms are coming down slowly, still, it is there!  I was a bit nervous, watching the movie! Then, I told myself, when I can do mixture (a bit tough!) and so many sweets at home for festivals, I don't think I will step into Alzheimer's that easily!!!  

I liked the ending in the movie!

Watched this in Tata Sky's Le plex channel! Very good movies are being screened there!

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Sangeeth Saritha, Radio Programme, Again!

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As I have already written earlier, I am a fan of radio since my childhood days.  We grew up hearing the radio throughout the day, well... until TV took sometime of the day, later.  Even then, the mornings are exclusively for Vividhbharathi programmes.  I don't listen to FM radio because the presenters shout all the time and too many advertisements.  Vividhbharathi gets minimum advertisements and many are govt. sponsored like 'gobar gas', 'road safety', PM Modi's 'swachch bharath' and other reforms (this is the recent addition!).   Other programmes will be heard randomly without much attention but the 7.30 to 7.45 am programme is THE Sangeeth Saritha.  I love to listen the discussions on Hindustani/Carnatic music...many maestros discuss the raagas, how they are used in film music, different types of taals and many more.  Just to influence ordinary people who are not serious classical music lovers (I am not a serious classical music fan...I love all sorts of music!) mostly they include one film song based on the raaga in discussion.  I have written a couple of posts about this programme earlier and here, they are!    And here!

Normally, in this programme, one series about some subject goes for 10-20 episodes.  Now, I am hearing for the past few days, a programme about different music directors, the way they use particular instruments for songs, some famous classical singers who sang for a couple of movies....etc. etc.  The VIP here now, is Pt.Nithyanand Haldipur who is a famous bansuri/flute player.

Today, he was discussing about Shiv-Hari's (famous santoor player, Pt.Shiv Kumar Sharma and famous flute player, Pt.Hariprasad Chaurasia) contribution to film music. Today, he was talking about one song from film, 'Tere Mere Sapne'
and the song is given below.  He said, 'In those days, RD Burman, SD Burman's son was becoming famous and was very busy recording songs.  SD Burman got the above movie for directing music.  Singers, Latha Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar were fixed. He had shortage of orchestra players.  At that time he came across Shiv-Hari and got an idea.  He asked just the both of them to play for one song.  With just two instruments, Santoor and flute, he finished recording one beautiful song.  I hear just the tabla sound apart from the two instruments in the background.  My favourite song.  Really, SD Burman is a genius.  Now, hear the song.  The lyrics by Neeraj is superb.



Kishore, Latha's voice, Dev Anand, Mumtaz's acting made the song a hit.  The movie also was a hit.  My parents were not happy about us, young girls, watching this movie (adult theme it was, in those days (1971, I think!).  I and my sister went with my cousins to Rajkumari theatre (a complex is there now!) at Pondy Bazaar, Chennai, to watch this movie.  All the songs were good.  A movie was always a hit in those days, if the songs were good!

I had written about SD Burman and RD Burman's music here!



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