Wednesday, April 23, 2008

25 hints that shows your city has been metropolitinized

1. Plots in adjacent (50Km Radius) villages and towns are hot selling cakes while it is very rare to find a small undisputed vacant plot within city limits.
2. Govt. approves construction of more special economic zones, multi storey parking and bridges.
3. Bus stand which was earlier inside the city are now shifted to outskirts.
4. Business in you town advertise on satellite channels.
5. A car for each adult in the family is no more a luxury.
6. Playgrounds are extinct and replaced by PlayStations.
7. Most mobile users have atleast 2 active connections.
8. Orkut and MySpace are fashion talks among the teenagers.
9. Terms like “Ill scrap you” and “Ping me later” are conversed between 2 friends when they bump onto each other.
10. 2 wheelers are always driven with earphones on and its playing one of the numerous FM stations.
11. Traditional theatres are converted to Multiplexes and Marriage mahals are converted to shopping malls.
12. A cup of coffee costs Rs. 50 or more.
13. It’s no more acceptable to dial up and connect to internet.
14. Even the very smallest business in town has billboards in bridges sizing upto atleast triple the size or their showroom.
15. Bicycles are only sold in antique shops and Milkman and paper boy delivers on a motor bike and converse on a mobile phone.
16. It is very very very difficult to differentiate between a Guy and a Girl based on the hair-do.
17. Tele marketing calls are annoying and your kids work in BPO as tele-marketers.
18. Every other guy on the road wears an Identity card just the way your pet dog does.
19. Every hotel in the city has converted their basement into a dancing floor cum bar and call it a weird sounding name.
20. You have 15 numbers to reach your family of 3.
21. Dog shows and fashion shows are more crowded than temples.
22. Bus, Railway and Air tickets are booked 2 months in advance and Stations and ports in the city are crowded when the week ends and the the city is deserted on all festive occasions.
23. You find walkers and joggers traffic in almost all the roads at early hours of the day.
24. Your boss understands and emphatizes when you give “Traffic congestion” as an excuse to coming late to office.
25. Real estate / Rentals / Leasing are the most happening business only next to starting a Tea shop near a software company.

The unique spirit of an unique Festival… சித்திரை திருவிழா

Anyone who knows Madurai would be able to tell you that Madurai is famous for Maligai(Jasmine), Temples, Idly and dharuma adi (loosely translated as free hits…). The temples and its culture in Madurai is so unqiue that no place in the world one would be able to locate similar spirit and dedication.images

Madurai Temples have festivals and functions which have been in practice for centuries and have been practiced with the high level of enthusiasm, fun and frolic. The world famous Alanganallur jallikattu, Thiruparankundram Vaigaasi Visagam, Mariamman Temple tank float festival are just a tip of the iceberg in the list of world famous Madurai Festivals. Toping this list is the Annual Chithira Pournami grand festival.images

This is a festival of 2 major temples and a multitude of smaller temples. This spans for about 15 days. The first 10 days its Meenakshi Amman’s crowning and celestial marriage. This is followed by the 5 days festival when Alagar from Alagar Kovil visits Madurai. The story is that Alagar being the brother of Meenakshi comes to Madurai for her marriage. But is delayed by the love and affection of the people on his way. When he finally arrives, the Marriage is over. So he is disappointed and just takes a dip in Vaigai River and returns back to Alagar Kovil. But almost whole of Madurai population know that this story was made up by Thirumalai Nayakar, who once upon a time ruled over Madurai. The 2 temple functions are completely independant and to pull more crowd from nearby villages, Nayakar came up with the story and thus The Annual Chithirai Thiruvizha came into existence.images

When it is more than obvious that this is a fabricated story, still why do people celebrate the festival? The festival is celebrated with so much zeal and hype that it appears that 15 days of Diwali or Pongal is being celebrated in Madurai alone. People from far and near make it a point to come to Madurai and be a part of this mega event even though they make their living elsewhere. Madurai citizens celebrate the Celestial wedding as though its a wedding in their own house. They welcome Alagar into Madurai like they welcome a close relative into their house. No caste/creed bar, everyone is in celebration mode. But why all this for a fabricated story?images

The question remains unanswered. No one can answer this. It is like trying to define space or draw boundary to love. I wouldn’t call it faith or just prayers. Faith. prayers or offerings can be practised at home or in the temple. But the core reason behind celebrating the function for 15 days is still unexplained.images

I have been to many places, Celebrated many festivals, heard and read about people around the world and their culture. But to my knowledge nothing comes to close to Madurai and Chithirai Thiruvizha. If you are still not convinced, try and tell me one place / festival which satisfies all the following characteristics.

1. 10 days of celestial marriage celebrated. 5 days of celestial visit celebrated.
2. 24 hours of all 15 days, some activity or other with respect to this festival is on the run.
3. God / Deity’s idol visits almost the entire city.
4. The festival being celebrated in all nooks and corners of the city.
5. Devotees helping other devotees to participate in the festival by offering water, buttermilk, juices and food to beat the heat.
6. (Touchwood) In all the years of celebration not a single major untoward incident has been reported.
7. Devotees thronging the streets like mad persons chanting the name of God and being drawn towards him like a magnet.
8. Money spent throughout the festival is not out of a single pocket or account. But its the money from every single person associated with the city.
9. 6 years old to 60, everyone is on celebration mode.
10. “Rich or poor, God is one” being practiced and promoted.
11. Ancient laws and methodologies followed without a single slippage.
12. No body complains that this festival is disrupting their normal life. Nobody…

Well, if you find a valid answer for my question, I will accept my defeat. But for time being, the challenge is on!images