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Friday, December 07, 2007

Ayushman Bhava

Meaning "long live ", is a Sanskrit phrase often uttered by elders in Bengali Hindu culture, when they bless the young ones. I recollect that on every birthday or religious festival or upon the  declaration of my exam results, I'd run to my paternal grandparents to touch their feet in reverence. ( Called pronam in Bangla. I lost my maternal grandparents early, so I don't have many memories with them.)

My now late paternal Grandpa (Thakurda) would insist that I be adorned with "Dhaan-Durba" ( grains of rice with the seed coat and a type of grass )while he closed his eyes in prayers for my well being. I liked that so much that when my other cousins hurried to brush off their hair of the yellow and green bits, I'd let those stay on, pretend that I didn't notice, and let out an Oscar-winning "Oh!", when any of them pointed out "Hey you still got bits on your hair!"

It made me feel special. It made me feel cared for and blessed. I wanted to keep it with me as long as I could.

One day I asked my Grandpa the significance of using the combination. He opined that the grains and the grass signified prosperity and health, respectively. The age old idea of "Gola bhora dhaan"= "barn full of grain" represents affluence; and that special grass has the amazing capacity to regenerate even after a house and its lawn have been completely destroyed by fire. So, when elders wish for our long lives by pronouncing "Ayushman Bhava" (or "Ayushmati Bhava" while blessing a female child), they also wish us a life of prosperity and health along with longevity. Maybe I treasured those bits because I knew what it meant while most of my other cousins didn't.

The last time I got dhaan-dubba was when I went home to visit my family before coming over to Boston. My grandma said that I wouldn't be in India by the time my birthday arrived (14th September), so she wanted to give me blessings and some INR ( I still have that money in my bag ). This little rite is something that is probably going to die out with time. And I don't know, several years later if I try to put grain and grass on my kids' heads, maybe they'll think "Mom is crazy" or file a case for harassment. Maybe not.

Whatever, back to present. I was walking to school when I saw the snow melting on the lawn and the green grass still thriving beneath the sheets of ice, and it all came back to me.

This post comes at the wake of an unfortunate event when an oil tanker truck blew up in Everett. One of the houses destroyed was Carol's - a MGT671 classmate of mine, who has lost all her possessions. It makes it even more difficult with the semester end approaching. I'd probably try to take out my passport, credentials and my laptop with all my assignments in case of a fire emergency- whether I manage to take out a coat at -13 degree C or not.

I request anyone reading this post thus far to take a moment to wish her strength and courage to ease her through this trying times. I might/might not believe in God the way most people do, but I definitely believe in the great strength of will.

I have grown up near a commercial center and have seen two major fire incidents where I witnessed some people lose everything. One of the women crying like an insane person on the street was a mother who had saved all the gold ornaments in her shop for her daughter's wedding the following day. Some slaves can be real bad masters.


Munmun said...

I just hope these guys had accident insurance for their lost possessions. Although that won't cover things like important credentials and/or assignments :(

candid diary said...

In spite of all the losses Carol will emerge a winner, a die-hard survivor like your Durba.

arnab said...

"Some slaves can be real bad masters."

Indeed! I guess if one cannot attain complete detachment with the material world, getting insurance helps. And I hope Carol had insurance too - almost sounds moronic to say that, but it can ease some of the troubles. Also, I should start practicing what I preach :-)

arnab said...

By the way, I have a dream that one day this world will rise up and make dhaan-dubba (and not Dubya) a fashion statement! Last week someone asked me about our headlines-hogging saffron brigade, who colors everything as an assault on "Indian Culture". I said that I don't worry "Indian Culture" getting assaulted, since it survived through some pretty troubling times, and only got enriched in the process. The lowly grass can do wonders :-)

Bubbles of FireWhisky said...

this is why i love your blog so much... i love it when my grandmom does evrything you just described in here... makes me feel cherished...

and for your friend - i hope she is doing better now... i hope that she finds the courage to get her through this...

Sam said...

For Carol:
Stay strong.... teh materialistic stuff can be recovered through soem insurance I suppose.. the rest you can get them again.. it'll be struggle, but it wud be worth it... as for your semesters... if you are really good you can win.. just believe in yourself!!!! go get them, girl!!! go get them!!
and do remember the legend of teh phoenix!!!

For dhaan-durba:
Ah!! well nostalgia.. i haven't had that dhaan durba for nearly 7 years now.. that's how long i have been away from home..
apart from grandparents using that do u remember that it is also used during bhai-phonta wen the bro blesses teh sis or vice-versa..
i won't have my paternal granny doing that to me in the future. hope the rest do have a fair chance!! i just hope...

Fate is a funny player u know.. at tiems it wud stack things up for you just teh way u want it.. adn at times it wud hit u well below the belt to leave you gasping for breath...

passer by said...

ayush maan bahavah(reminds me of mahabharat/ramayan) to the dhaan-shurba habit and to the strong will of carol.

and when there is an emergency..just rush out..there is nothing sans life which one cannot get back..


Aparna Kar said...

@passer by
I'd rather die in the flames than lose "my identity" i.e my credentials. I get teased by Mr. Magic Fingers a lot for using this term. But heck you are right. You don't have much time during an emergency except just enough to gather yourself. Sometime back, there was a false alarm in our building one Saturday morning when I was happily dozing, and my roommate called out in panic: "Get Up ! It's a Fire emergency!" Still half-asleep, I wondered "What's the big deal? The firemen would find me if I still catch up with my sleep." Anyways I was almost dragged out of my bed and went out with her in my pajamas. The first time I realized the magnitude and seriousness of the situation and how much the Americans value life. The fire brigade and the ambulance arrive in no time if someone dials 911. Massachusetts is infamous for its high taxes and cost of living in Boston gives a Texan a heartache- but it is worth it.

Btw, there is a single thread of thought I have followed throughout the post- which Candid deciphered. "Survivor". To wish someone to be one is the greatest prayer of all.

Abhinav said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Abhinav said...

I've left you something at The Reluctant Writer. Please collect it and don't forget to spread the goodwill!!!

ManojVasanth said...

I love that last line. Life is still Beautiful!!! True :)

And yeah..Sometimes, its just proud to be an Indian.We gotta hundreds of problems but stil, we are smiling.Something which really amazes the world!! Don't you think so?

Keshi said...

I say as long as no LIFE is lost, all's well.


pilot-pooja said...

You are a wonderful soul!!

Aparna Kar said...

@pilot pooja
That's one of the best things someone ever said to me :) Other than the guy who claimed that he was/is/will be in love with my mind always (I don't know if he likes deserted attics or cluttered attics :D)

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