Yes, I believe in Ghosts!

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The crisp autumn season has given way to cold winters and it is time for some fun, some magic on the occasion of Haloweeeeeen!!!

All around I see orange pumpkins ready to be carved into scary Jack o lanterns, scarecrows grinning from balconies, giant spiders hanging from roofs and ghosts ready to prowl from trees. The stores are cashing on the Halloween spirit…costumes, masques, wigs are on display everywhere. Nobody can remain untouched from this feisty occasion.

At this time of the year, it is said that the undead and humans intermingle freely. The line between this world and the underworld blurs. Witches and vampires move all over the world disguised as cats and bats. People hear whispers of goblins and high pitched songs of zombies. Ghouls, goblins and scary characters abound…magic happens everywhere.

And if you would ask me – Do I believe in magic and ghosts? I would emphatically say ‘yes’, simply because I believe in a life of supernatural and magic. It makes life so much thrilling, colorful and vibrant. I believe in God so why shouldn’t I believe in ghosts?

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As a matter of fact, my belief in ghosts stem from childhood days. The stories of Indian ghosts and witches, which were an intrinsic part of our childhood, have stayed with me somewhere in my consciousness. Huddled together around a vessel filled with coal embers during cold winters, maids would relate to us the stories of fantastical and horrifying creatures. We would scream our guts out but would want to listen more. They sounded so vivid and real.

Our ancestral house was said to be home to many kinds of ghosts. There was this headless but harmless mother-child duo that was seen by many. Then, there was this ghost, whose stomach was always lit with an earthen lamp and he prowled in the fields. There was another ferocious, tall witch whose feet was inwardly turned and she was very dangerous.

Those stories introduced us to various kinds of ghosts and spirits of rural India – an intrinsic part of our folk culture. Here is a list of 10 prominent and deadliest types of ghosts that we became familiar with in our growing up years:

Kichchin: The lust-hungry women die and turn into Kichchin. They look like normal women except for the fact that their feet is generally inwardly turned.

Shakini: Women who die right after their marriage due to an accident become Shakini. These are believed to be dangerous.

Dakini: They are akin to Shakini, they tempt innocent passers by and kill.

Pandubba: The souls of dead people drowned in river become Pandubba.

Chudail: Prevalent in northern India, they are dangerous souls, who live in banyan trees and kill passersby.

Mua Pret: They are those who have been false, corrupted, compulsive, deceitful, jealous or greedy people in a previous life.

Kudra Bhoot: They are short creatures often mistaken for kids. Kudra Bhoot steal things from other houses and help house owners make a lot of money. They are said to be lucky ghosts.

Betaal: They are akin to zombies and were popularised in a series of 25 stories named “Betaal Panchvimshati”.

Jinn: They reside in dirty and dingy places and are often used by magicians and Tantriks.

Pari: They are femme fatale and usually a lovely odour announces their arrival. They are deadly and love to possess the spirit of their lover. Other ghosts include Bahira daak, Abdin, Dokain etc.

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With age and time, the story tellers and the ghost stories faded away. Besides, my worst childhood nightmare never came true and I never happened to meet any of these deadly creatures in person.

But even today, I suspect that they always lurk in shadows behind me. They visit me in dreams and I always think of them in lonely, dark and windy nights. Perhaps, I never grew out of those stories. Yes, unabashedly, I declare that I am enchanted as well as scared of ghosts!

As for mingling with the ghosts, this Halloween… God forbid! I like them restricted to my imagination. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Have a grrrreat Halloween friends!

Images courtesy Google

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Did you know Sri Rama had a sister?

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Yes, you read it right! Sri Rama had an elder sister Shanta (born of Dashratha and Kaushalya), who was given away for adoption to Kaushalya’s sister. To read in detail click here . There are a few other random facts I found out about Ramayana. I thought that since it is Dussehra time, the timing is just right to share!

For the benefit of non Hindus, let me first elaborate that the festival Dussehra is symbolic of victory of good over evil. Ramayana, the epic, written by sage Valmiki deals with the story and glory of Lord Rama, the incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Lord Rama had killed the very powerful demon king Ravana, who had abducted his wife Sita, on this day. Since then, Dussehra is celebrated across India.

But there are a few lesser known facts which many do not know. I would like to share a few interesting ones I came across:

1)During the exile period of Rama, Laxman and Sita, Laxman never slept. He is, hence, also called ‘Gudakesh’ meaning one who has ‘defeated sleep’.

2) Laxman’s wife Urmila slept both his and her share of sleep so that Laxmana could protect Rama and Sita. It is said that she slept for 14 years and woke up when her husband returned to Ayodhya.

3)  Vashishta, the guru of Raghukul dynasty named Ram. He explained that the name Rama is a powerful mantra. It is made up of two beeja aksharas(alphabetical seeds): Agni beeja(Ra) and Amrutha beeja(Ma). Agni beeja energises the soul, mind and body. Amrutha beeja reinvigorates the prana shakti(life force) in all the body.

4) After killing Bali by using deceit, Lord Rama promised that Bali would have his revenge in his next birth. Bali was reborn as Jara the hunter who killed Krishna – the next reincarnation of Lord Vishnu.

5) Ravan, the demon king with ten heads was killed at the eve of Dussehra. His ten heads symbolises the ten sins within us. They are:

  1. Kama vasana (Lust)
  2. Krodha (Anger)
  3. Moha (Attachment)
  4. Lobha (Greed)
  5. Mada (Over Pride)
  6. Matsara (Jealousy)
  7. Swartha (Selfishness)
  8. Anyaaya (Injustice)
  9. Amanavta (Cruelty)
  10. Ahankara (Ego).

Hope you liked these lesser known facts of Ramayana. Allow me to wish you a happy and prosperous Dussehra. Festivities have just started  my lovely friends and the great thing is – this will last till Diwali ( and in some parts of India till Chath puja).

Wishing you great fun and festivity ahead!!!

Image courtesy Google

Trapped in the Forest

  

“Not knowing what to expect, he made his way into the dark of the forest.” His psychiatrist had advised him to visit this forest. Being close to nature helps, he had said.

As he entered, the queer forest disturbed him. He felt as if he was being watched. Everything seemed unnatural.

He cursed the psychiatrist and looked for an exit. His phone had been taken away near the entry so he was helpless. The hand map had no exit sign. He was trapped!! Luckily, he found an old dusty hut with tidbits.

As he fought for survival everyday, struggling to eat and live, his depression took a back seat.

Three months later, he suddenly found an exit route.

Outside, lights and cameras greeted him. All this while, he had been the star of a reality TV show. Viewers had feasted on his misery. All including the psychiatrist had benefited from this. He got a huge sum too.

But was he a victor or a victim?

(This flash fiction is a part of the wonderful ‘Mondays Finish The Story Challenge’ by Barbara Beacham. She provides us with a photo prompt, the first sentence, and approximately 150 words with which we are to use to write our story. To take up the challenge click here – MFtS)

On the other side of the mirror!

 I see her everyday. The mother, the wife, the homemaker! I witness her pitter patter since morning as she packs lunch for husband and kid, in a hush hush way as to not rouse the baby sleeping in the bedroom.

But the baby is a light sleeper, he wakes up. She rushes to him. She has become an expert in doing chores while balancing the babe in one arm. She manages again!

When the hubby and kid leave, she catches her breath before tending to the little one. Juggling between bathing him, diaper change, feeding and cleaning up, she manages to gulp down her cold breakfast.

She has to plan out her day according to the routine of the baby. The bathroom and lunch preparing time would be when the baby sleeps. She puts the baby to sleep. The baby acts cranky. Her arms and back ache but she tries to soothe him.

Perhaps, the baby feels sympathetic towards mommy and sleeps at last. She enters the bathroom, just then the phone rings! She rushes out of the bath fearing the baby would wake up, but thankfully he doesn’t. She rushes through the conversation and hangs up quickly. She takes a quick shower and performs her ritual prayer.

It is time to prepare lunch. The baby wakes up before time. She has to play the jugglar again. She cooks as well as humours the little one. They play hide and seek and funny little games. She finds heaven in these moments.

She tries to relax after lunch. The older one returns, excited and chattering about his day in school. It is time to pay exclusive attention to him. The kid wants her to play with him. While his energy level is high, she has just her will power to hold on to. She has to keep an eye on both of them now.


Evening times are chit chat time. But I seldom hear her talk. She enjoys listening to them. Dinner is prepared and served. The husband helps as much as he can. He always does. She knows it was a long day for him too and feels loved!

Her body is sore when she goes to bed, ready for nighttime waking and feeding. She thinks and plans for the next day…food, grocery, kids’ school, doctor’s visit… a myriad things. She sleeps ready to wake up with the slightest stir or movement of the baby.

It is during her night time waking, between feeds, that she comes to me. It is the only time she looks at me closely. I, her mirror image, stare back at her! I try to look for that once carefree girl with a hundred dreams in her eyes…I do not see those eyes. The girls’ eyes were bright, ambitious and playful. Her eyes are different. She is different, the girl is gone.

These eyes are of a mother, who seldom thinks of herself. She is illkempt, preoccupied and always in a hurry. Everyday I look at the different shades on her face…sometimes she is irritated and tired, at other times she looks contented and occassionally she is ruffled, but one shade is dominant throughout – It is that of pride! Pride in fact that she is doing her duty well.

She knows the dreams of the ‘girl in her’ can wait. But the heavenly moments of motherhood will never ever come back. Her kids need her now, nothing else matters. After a few years, she will have enough time for herself then she will miss it all…hugging, feeding, playing…everything. The lady in one of the stores had rightly advised her – pay attention to your kids, they grow up very fast. The woman on the other side of the mirror has put motherhood above everything else that matters, like millions of mothers across the world.

She believes Motherhood is a ‘tapasya’, a state of selflessness that enables one to experience the sublimest and divinest emotions.

I look at her and read her mind everyday. At times, I feel sort of restlessness in her. It is a fact that not many admire or value a homemaker, and this affects her sense of worth. But next moment, that feeling of pride returns, her temporary conflict disappears and she becomes a contented mother again. I, her mirror image, admire her soft face at such times.

But I also want to keep reminding her of the girl, she once was. And I will resolutely do that. For I know, when her kids grow up and there will no more be aching arms, swollen eyes and lullabys, the dreamy girl in her, will keep her company. The girl will show her purpose of life further…after the kids move on in life. The girl is her essence, and she should be in touch with her.

Till then, I wish happy motherhood to her…to my beloved mirror image!

(This post is dedicated to all mothers, working and non working, who I am sure have great stories to tell about motherhood. This is my story! I have been a SAHM ( Stay At Home Mother) since the past five years and it has been the most memorable and rewarding phase in my life.)

The legendary caretaker of the hidden castle!

  

“Few knew about the castle hidden inside the island.” But whoever visited it marvelled at the history and architecture of the place.

Almost everyone noticed him too. A grand old man, busy cleaning and polishing the floors. He looked a part of the setting – cold, dark and mysterious.

He knew more than anyone else about the untold secrets of the past. But he chose to be quiet for the sake of his masters.

His young masters had migrated to a foreign land and he was not expected to work anymore. Yet, he continued doing what his forefathers did centuries ago.

Locals spread all kinds of stories about him. The scariest one was that he had been long dead and his loyal soul was serving the castle!!

He never reacted to any claim or story, he just worked!

(This story is a tribute to Satna, the caretaker of our ancestral home in a village in Jharkhand, India. He was a short, dark man who spoke very little. Since boyhood to old age, he served our family. He was a loyal and dutiful person, who reported daily to work come what may. He embodied the very essence of Karma Yoga – to attain perfection in action to live a fulfilled life! He passed away a few years back but we will fondly remember him always.)

This story is a part of the wonderful ‘Mondays Finish The Story Challenge’ by Barbara Beacham. She provides us with a photo prompt, the first sentence, and approximately 150 words with which we are to use to write our story. To take up the challenge click here – MFtS