Archive for May, 2011

The Paradesi Synagogue

Posted by on May-28-2011

The Paradesi Synagogue is the oldest active synagogue in the Commonwealth of Nations,located in Kochi, Kerala, in South India. It was built in 1568 by the Malabar Yehudan people or Cochin Jewish community in the Kingdom of Cochin. Paradesi is a word used in several Indian languages, and the literal meaning of the term is “foreigners”, applied to the synagogue because it was historically used by “White Jews”, a mixture of Jews from Cranganore, the Middle East, and European exiles. It is also referred to as the Cochin Jewish Synagogue or the Mattancherry Synagogue. The synagogue is located in the quarter of Old Cochin known as Jew Town,and is the only one of the seven synagogues in the area still in use. The complex has four buildings. It was built adjacent to the Mattancherry Palace temple on the land gifted to the Malabari Yehuden community by the Raja of Kochi, Rama Varma. The Mattancherry Palace temple and the Mattancherry synagogue share a common wall.

The Malabari Jews formed a prosperous trading community of Kerala, and they controlled a major portion of world wide spice trade. In 1568, the Jews of Kerala constructed the Paradesi Synagogue adjacent to Mattancherry Palace, Cochin, now part of the Indian city of Ernakulam, on land given to them by Paraja, the Raja of Kochi. The original synagogue was built in the 4th century in Kodungallur when the Jews had a mercantile role in the South Indian region along the Malabar coast now called Kerala. It was later moved to Kochi from Kodungallur.The first synagogue of the Malabari Jews in Cochin was destroyed in the Portuguese persecution of the Malabari Jews and Nasrani people of Kerala in the 16th century. The second synagogue, built under the protection of the Raja of Cochin along with Dutch patronage, is the present synagogue. It is called Paradesi synagogue because it was built with Dutch patronage at a time when Kochi was under Dutch occupation, thus the name paradesi synagogue or “foreign synagogue”.

The Paradesi Synagogue has the Scrolls of the Law, several gold crowns received as gifts, many Belgian glass chandeliers, and a brass-railed pulpit. It houses the copper plates of privileges given to Joseph Rabban, the earliest known Cochin Jew, dating from the 10th century, written in Tamil on the two plates, by the ruler of the Malabar Coast. The floor of the synagogue is composed of hundreds of Chinese, 18th century, hand-painted porcelain tiles, all of which are unique. There is also an oriental rug, a gift from Haile Selassie, the last Ethiopian Emperor. The most visible part of the synagogue is the 18th century clock tower, which, along with other parts of the complex, underwent repair work between 1998 and 1999. A tablet from the earlier synagogue in Kochangadi in Kochi is placed on the outer wall of the Paradesi synagogue. The inscription states that the structure was built in the year 5105 as an abode for the spirit of God.

Today is Rajiv Gandhi’s 20th death anniversary, people still remember India’s youngest Prime Minister. He was the first to talk about India’s emergence as a great power in the 21st century.

Rajiv Gandhi is remembered today by many people for many things At 40, he was the youngest Prime Minister of India, perhaps even one of the youngest elected heads of Government in the world. He was a modern-minded, decisive leader. His government encouraged foreign investment, and industry boomed with the loosening of business controls. He sought to increase Indian investments in modern technology. He removed many restrictions on imports and encouraged foreign investment. He introduced measures significantly reducing the License Raj, allowing businesses and individuals to purchase capital, consumer goods and import without bureaucratic restrictions.

On May 21, 1991, Rajiv Gandhi was at the last public meeting where he was assassinated while campaigning for the Sriperumbudur Lok Sabha Congress candidate. Thousands of supporters, mainly women, were pushing each other for a glimpse of the man who, it seemed, was all set to return as the prime minister. But seconds before Rajiv was about to mount the podium a woman approached Rajiv Gandhi in a public meeting and greeted him bent down to touch his feet, a huge explosion took place.

The explosion killed Rajiv Gandhi and many others. They turned to see and there was no face! The entire thing had blown up. The body was shattered in to pieces. The assassination was caught on film through the lens of a local photographer, whose camera and film were found at the site. The cameraman himself died in the blast but the camera remained intact. His assassination is seen as the result of India’s proactive intervention policy in the nearby island of Sri Lanka, where the Sri Lankan government was fighting Tamil insurgents.

The Chhatrapur Temple

Posted by on May-14-2011

Chhatrapur Temple is one of the most popular temples of India. It was built by Swami Nagpal Maharaj, who was a great devotee of Goddess Durga. The legend left this corporeal world in the recent years. Erected in white marble, the main shrine is dedicated to Goddess Durga. The main feature about this temple is that its construction doesn’t seek any end. Chhatarpur Temple is truly a wonder of architecture, where stones appear to transmit poetry. Chhatarpur Temple is located on Gurgaon-Mehrauli Road, in South Delhi. This marvelous temple is accredited for being the second largest temple of India. In fact, it was the largest temple in India before the creation of Akshardham Temple.

The structure of this temple gives the tint of South Indian style of architecture. Sprawling over a large area of land, Chhatarpur Mandir encompasses many structures that are made for different activities. In the temple complex, there are beautiful gardens and lawns that leave a soothing impact on the souls of the devotees. The carvings of this temple are really worth admiring. The massive size of the temple complex creates a feeling of awe. The two forms of Goddess Durga are commemorated here. One shrine is dedicated to Maha Gauri, which is opened for ‘darshan’ every day. Another shrine is dedicated to Goddess Katyayani, whose ‘darshan’ can be availed only on ‘ashtami’ falling in every month. Otherwise, the ‘darshan’ of Goddess Katyayani can be made throughout the days of ‘Navratri’. The golden image of Katyayani attracts the attention of devotees with its huge size and sheer divinity.

The image of Katyayani Devi is placed in a big hall, which can also be reached from the hall of prayers. The gilded image of Goddess Katyayani is always festooned in rich clothes, striking jewelry and a heavy garland of flowers. There are two rooms that are meant to Goddess’ rooms near to the shrine of Katyayani Devi. One room is made as the living room with tables and chairs made in silver. Inside the complex, there are several shrines that are dedicated to Lord Shiva, Lord Ganesha, Radha-Krsihna and Lord Rama respectively. Apart from the shrines, a massive structure has been constructed where ‘Bhandara’ is conducted on a daily basis. The Chhatarpur Mandir is an important temple which unfolds the religious legacy of India.

Happy Mother’s Day

Posted by on May-7-2011

The very word ‘mother’ fills us with all the sweetness, hugs, and kisses, we owe to our moms. Only a mom can understand the storm of feelings of her children and make them learn how to deal and overcome it. By pouring undying and eternal love throughout their lives, mothers have their hands and hearts filled with overflowing care and affection.

Celebrations of mothers and motherhood occur throughout the world. Many of these have histories can be traced back to ancient festivals. The first celebrations in honor of mothers were held in the spring in ancient Greece. They paid tribute to Rhea, the Mother of the Gods. During the 17th century, England honored mothers on “Mothering Sunday,” celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent.Ancient Romans celebrated a holiday in honor of Cybele, a mother goddess, March 22-25 – the celebrations were notorious enough that followers of Cybele were banished from Rome. In the British Isles and Celtic Europe, the goddess Brigid, and later her successor St. Brigid, were honored with a spring Mother’s Day, connected with the first milk of the ewes.

In most countries, Mother’s Day is a recent observance derived from the holiday as it has evolved in America. When it was adopted by other countries and cultures, it was given different meanings, associated to different events and celebrated in a different date or dates. Some countries already had existing celebrations honoring motherhood, and their celebrations have adopted several external characteristics from the US holiday, like giving carnations and other presents to your own mother. The extent of the celebrations varies greatly. In some countries, it is potentially offensive to one’s mother not to mark Mother’s Day. In others, it is a little-known festival celebrated mainly by immigrants, or covered by the media as a taste of foreign culture.

On the occasion of Mother’s Day, it is time to celebrate the most beautiful relationship of mother-child. On this Mother’s Day, let your actions speak volume rather than just those simple words. There is nothing better than giving a hug to your mother on this grand occasion.

Happy Mother’s Day