Friday, February 27, 2009

3rd Indo Arab Cultural Festival 26th February to 7th March 2009, Abu Dhabi

3rd Indo Arab Cultural Festival organized by Kerala Social Centre Abu Dhabi started yesterday evening with a grand opening. The festival will be held from 26th February till 7th March 2009.

Excerpts of the inaugural function held on Thursday, 26th February 2009 at the Kerala Social Centre premises in Abu Dhabi

More videos and photo uploads follows:

Sri Sudhir Kumar Shetty giving his felicitation speech

Performance Satyana Rangeela by a group of Rajasthani singers

Release of Pravasi – an internal magazine by Kerala Social Centre Abu Dhabi

Sri C Radhakrishnan giving his felicitation speech

Sri D Raja, MP, giving his speech during the inaugural function

Mrs K Ajitha, giving her speech during the inaugural function

Monday, February 23, 2009

Maha Shivarathri - the Universal Pati-Patni Day

Today is Maha Shivratri.

These days, we blindly follow several different types of days, for eg: Valentines day, mothers day, fathers day, friendship day, no-smoking day and the list goes on and on. When we look at it Shivarathri is the truly traditional family day or pati-patni day, as I term it. Because, from the ancient times, devoted wife's pray and observe fast on this day for the well being of their husband and children and vice-versa, husband's observe religious rituals and prayers like chanting Rudram and chamakam to give grace and prosperity to the well being of own family and the society.

There are many stories associated with Shivaratri and its origins.

One is about lord shiva drinking a poison and he held it in his throat by binding it with a snake. The throat became blue due to the poison (Thus Lord Shiva is also known as Neelakantha) and Shiva remained unharmed. In another story, it is said that the whole world was once facing destruction and the Goddess Parvati worshiped her husband Shiva to save it. Parvati named the night for the worship of Iswara by mortals Maha-Sivaratri, or the great night of Siva. After creation was complete, Parvati asked Shiva of which rituals pleased him the most. The Lord replied that the 14th night of the new moon, during the month of Maagha, is my most favourite day. It is known as Shivaratri. Parvati repeated these words to her friends, from whom the word spread over all creation. Another story is about a hunter. Lubdhaka, a poor tribal man and a devotee of Shiva, once went into the deep forests to collect firewood. At nightfall, he became lost and could not find his way home. In the darkness, Lubdhaka climbed a bel tree, and sought safety and shelter in its branches until dawn. All night, he could hear the growls of tigers and wild animals, and was too frightened to leave the tree. In order to keep himself awake, he plucked one leaf at a time from the tree and then dropped it, while chanting the name of Shiva. By sunrise, he had dropped thousands of leaves on to a Shiva lingam, which he had not seen in the darkness. Lubdhaka's all-night worship pleased Shiva. By the grace of Shiva the tigers and wild animals went away, and Lubdhaka not only survived but was rewarded with 'divine bliss'.

While most Hindu festivals are celebrated during the day, Mahashivratri is celebrated during the night and day that come just before the new moon. Each new moon is dedicated to Shiva, but Mahashivratri is especially important because it is the night when he danced the 'Tandav', his cosmic dance. It also celebrates the wedding of Shiva and Sati, the mother divine. Night represents evil, injustice, ignorance, sin, violence, and misfortune. Tradition says that Shiva, like his symbol the new moon, appeared in order to save the world from darkness and ignorance, before the world entered complete darkness. Those who observe the Mahashivratri fast only break their fast the next morning, and eat the prasad offered to Shiva. Young girls observe the fast and worship Shiva so that he may bless them with good husbands. They sing devotional songs in praise of the lord, and holy texts are chanted throughout the night. The pandits in the temples perform the puja according to the scriptures. This is done four times during the night.


On this auspicious day, I would like to dedicate to our global forum a painting named Shivasakthi. It is also a dedication to all the loving mother's, wife's and sisters and also to all our fellow brothers for keeping our tradition and values always high, wherever we are.

I would like to also add a few words about this painting. This is created purely using powerpoint tools and it was done as a result of a few minutes of quite time at a small temple near REC Chathamangalam, Calicut. On that particular monsoon evening (somewhere in 1995), it happened to be that there was no power in that area, and the darshan of the deity at the time during deeparadhana created an everlasting memory in my mind. The decoration of the Devi idol, simple and small, by the melshanti (priest) was simply superb. I added to it a similar devotion at another temple, which is Avittathur Mahadeva temple. And the result is this creation – Shivasakthi.
At both these places, the time available by the melshanthis to decorate the idols during the time the sanctum sanctorum closed for pooja, is barely 10 minutes or so. And imagine yourself the result when the doors are opened. It is the epitomisation of the ultimate sraddha, the dedication and devotion to provide us a blissful presence. Can you imagine them practising this art somewhere else? Or re-doing it, if a little more of water has been added to the chandan and kunkum or bhasmam they mix in order to create these decorations.!!

There are many unsung heroes and these are a few among them. And it is also my way of tribute to the many who remain within the four walls of our own religious boundaries, who do not get to watch or listen to any of the niceties which we are blessed with.

No one has the patience these days, and to add ease to it, we have a wonderful creation called remote control. It makes things easy for our wandering minds to switch from one programme to another and to refrain from keeping focussed on one. We undergo severe rituals and follow procedures for many days and ultimately visit our favourite temples and the moment we are in front of the deity, we close our eyes and fall into deep prayers. At this moment, we go back to the old thoughts, photos etc, forgetting about the opportunity to meet the real lord who is in front of us in full – paadadi kesham. And we are pushed away for someone else to do his minutes or seconds of closed eye prayers. The moment you close your eyes, you forget your objectives. So, open your eyes, look at the realities, and react to it. As the prayer song "Geet nahi, Sur nahi, phir bhi mem gavoom", in this spiritual sphere of mental peace and inner joy, the responsibility for success or failure is entirely one's own.

God bless and have a great time blogging.

Ramesh Menon

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Ways to relax

Cleaner environment

The other day, I was writing about the effort - continued effort by the Abu Dhabi Municipality service to keep the city surroundings neat and clean. This picture proves it all. Congratulations to all those un-sung heroes who work day and night to make this possible.

Lost Valentine

This was a scene I noticed while walking towards my office on 15th February morning. Surprised to see the gift item on top of the waste bin, I thought myself, either these celebrations have only life this much (one night stand - as they call it) or people here are yet safe from the economic recession happening around. Otherwise, at any normal cost, this prize item will value around AED 50 or above. Walking past, I consoled myself, no this is not a current one, this is an old one thrown, when someone got a new one on this Valentine's Day. For me, love is immortal.

It's OJRA re times at Abu Dhabi

From 15th February 2009 Abu Dhabi Bus service is no more free. However, they have introduced an economically viable pricing system for public to travel taking tickets on a daily, monthly basis. The daily/monthly coupons are called OJRA. From the rush within the bus, it seems public find it convenient and useful to travel by these buses, even if they have to pay. So, it's OJRA re time in Abu Dhabi.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

World Recession Day - 15 February

World Recession Day - 15 February

Why not? Just suddenly this thought came to me. Many are affected by recession and joining the un-employment group. Even then, crazy about these artificially created days, we tend to explore the width and breadth of our purse and credit/debit cards - just for the sake of it. An article written by Sri Joy Mathews of Amrita TV in his blog, prompted me to create this special day tomorrow. Enjoy and celebrate World Recession Day tomorrow.

Do we need these special occasions to remember our mother, father, children and loving wife? It is a daily affair and it should be the case.

So, wish your friend, relative, brother and sister a Happy World Recession Day tomorrow – 15 February. A warning of the realities of things happening around and a siren of the alarming economically tougher days ahead till the global situation is accustomed and worked over by all.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Towards a cleaner and beautiful environment

Vow!! What a nice view. You must be thinking while looking at the picture immediately below. It was taken from the newly built pedestrian bridge on a Friday morning as soon as it was installed for the use of residents in Tourist Club Area Abu Dhabi.

A casual walk that morning, and it's beauty did not last long. I was really shocked to see the amount of garbage thrown on top of it.

Garbage items thrown carelessly everywhere. How is it possible to create an un-healthy environment so soon. That was my question? A few days passed and I found the amount of garbage increasing. As always, reacting to such issues, I tried to contact the relevant authorities. It didn't turn out to be a waste of effort.

Report in Gulf News - Your Turn community report page.

In an hours time after my email to the Abu Dhabi Municipality authority, the area was totally clean and they were reciprocative to my added request of initiating appropriate guidelines and notices to warn general public of use and misuse.


It is a different view altogether and happier environment for the public. All the more, we know now, you are live and respond to the well being of the residents.

Dual Responsibility in road safety

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Pathan's attack on Sri Lanka

Pathan brothers created a historical win for India in todays T20 match against Sri Lanka. Or this historical moment was created long long ago when Yousuf Pathan (November 17, 1982) and Irfan Pathan (October 27, 1984) were born. Watching the match today, I strongly felt and as it proved or re-assured myself, while history is that item in our life which is written and meant to be read later on, destiny is what we create our self. The terrorist act of these two Pathans (this is what the Sri Lankans will have to say tonight) on the Sri Lankan pitch today was one thing that they carved out. Strong conviction to win the game and never budge attitude changed the course of action when things were looking extremely bad from Indian teams perspective this evening. Yousuf Pathan came out and played once again what Dhoni expected him to do and trusted him to do keeping his calm and cool self, and playing along with him, Irfan Pathan quickly improved himself to a greater height of perfection making us believe that hitting sixes are as simple as what he was doing tonight. Probably this moment of history was pre-written the moment they both were born to their proud parents. Let this momentum continue. Chak De India, objective of the Team and the country is more important than self.

Fittingly Dhoni concluded his post-match press statement by saying "It is not enough by having talent. It has to be tempered - International cricket is not just about talent. It's what you do with it." In a way, this statement is applicable in every field of life.