Monday, December 29, 2014

Grin and Bear It


Season's Greetings in Legalese


Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday practiced with the most enjoyable traditions of religious persuasion or secular practices of your choice with respect for the religious/ secular persuasions and/ or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all.

I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2015, but not without due respect for the calendar of choice of other
cultures whose contributions to society have helped make our country great (not to imply that our country is necessarily greater than any other country) and without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee.
By accepting this greeting, you are accepting these terms:
This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with or without alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for her/ him or others and is void where prohibited by law, and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. The wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher.
Best Regards (without prejudice)
Name withheld (Privacy Act)

Thursday, December 04, 2014

UFOs, Arriving, Departing


aliens
arriving
or departing

after observing
the depraved, malevolent
discord below

being more intelligent
than we
as they arrived before
we reached them

they should be in a hurry
to leave

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Another Night, Another Nightmare




IT IS VERY STILL AND DARK
ANOTHER NIGHT, ANOTHER NIGHTMARE.


I HAVE A RECOLLECTION OF A MOON,
AND BRIGHT SHAFTS OF LIGHT
FROM THE NEIGHBOURING HOUSES,
AND SOME OTHERS, DIM BUT SCINTILLATING,
FROM FAR AWAY DISTANCES
BUT THEY HAVE BEEN OBLITERATED
ONE AFTER ANOTHER
BY THE QUIET
BUT DECISIVELY PERVASIVE
DARKNESS.


THE TREES THAT SALACIOUSLY SWAYED
IN THE BREEZE, SLEEP,
SINCE THE BREEZE SLEEPS, AND THE BIRDS;
AND HOUSES, AND WINDOWS
AND PEOPLE BEHIND THOSE WINDOWS, SLEEP.
THE LAST DOG JUST BARKED AWAY INTO SILENCE,
AS THE STREETS SLEEP.


NOTHING MOVES, LIVES, EXCEPT DARKNESS,
WHICH BREATHES: OR IS IT MY
OWN BREATHING? I CANNOT
TELL THE DIFFERENCE.


IT IS SO DARK, SO STILL, FOR THE NIGHT SLEEPS.


IT IS NIGHT, OR IS IT NOT:
I CAN HEAR THE FAINT SOUNDS OF LIFE
STIRRING HESITANTLY, RELUCTANTLY,
COMING ALIVE
COAXED BY THE NEWBORN SUN.


IT IS NO MORE NIGHT,
AND ANOTHER NIGHTMARE IS OVER,
TO MAKE ROOM FOR ANOTHER;
EXHAUSTED, ENERVATED
I WILL NOW PRETEND
TO GO TO SLEEP.

Monday, November 24, 2014

You Claim to Know Everything

You claim that you know everything that can be or that has to be known about life. Is there knowledge beyond what you claim to know about life?

No, because the knowledge that concerns us is only what happens or can happen or be experienced as we journey through our lives. Therefore, to know about life fully is for all practical purposes to know about everything, including death.

So, tell me something about life.

Well, life is transitory, capricious and in what we call the universal scheme of things, absolutely futile.

Is that all?

Yes.

So then, what are all these -- faith, ambition, achievement, yearning, lust, fulfillment, tenderness, joy, hurt, anger, despair...

Transitory, capricious and futile.


Any questions? Ask.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Bloom


blossom
of colours and aroma
to entice
to germinate
its natural
instinctive
involuntary
purport
ignorant that these cycles
can be interrupted
for food
decoration
or fanciful
curiosity

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Saving Our Planet: Limitless Vanity of Man





"... If we all follow these few simple steps, together… we will make a noticeable difference in conserving energy and Saving our planet." (Bipasha Basu, on her blog, Save Our Planet - Together we can!)

To President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton et al., at the Copenhagen Summit on Climate Change:

I have spent 50 years or more of my life on researching the subject of survival of our species, and possibly even our planet. All this while I was also searching for the origin of life and its meaning, and whether or not it is innately durable. In this note, however, I will spare you the main part of my research, and deal only with whether or not mankind can prevent its extinction, and, if not, can we at least delay it to gain some more time for rehabilitation, relocating, or whatever, outside of earth, which would doubtless have been altogether depraded, and not capable of supporting not only man, but all other living species. In 1965, at the invitation of the then USIS in Madras, I wrote an introduction on the compatibility and otherwise, between man and his environment, and the imperatives without which the chance of man's survival would definitely be lost. This was taken very seriously, used by scientists in India, published in Europe and America, and discussed widely.

It is unfortunate, though, that to exist, to live day after day, we need props and hope. So, regardless of the unanimity of agreement that my views generated, there was always a wishful "But." "We can, we will, certainly do something." "We have prevailed, and we will prevail. We will find means, modifications in our lifestyle, technology; and if all this fails, we will begin to colonise outer space." "Certainly, we are not transient. We are forever." Etc. etc.

Now, the point is, in the 1960s, given the population of that time, which was probably 6 billion, 2 billion too many for the resources of earth to support and provide for, today the population is 8 billion plus, and increasing. With or without the help of a Copenhagen World Meet, with Obama leading the western civilisation's diktat for lesser consumption by less-developed countries and people, simultaneously waging unwinnable wars which involve enormous consumption; the many and hackneyed sophisms that the conference generated, apart from producing enormous waste of resources on increased flights, and the accompanying madness of desperation to cling to a belief, however irrational.

I can go on and on, and prove to you that even if the population was by some means decimated to half, and measures and regulations put in place for it to remain constant, the most the wounded and emptied, chemically altered Earth could do would be to extend our tenure. But it cannot now revive or regenerate from within itself to be what it was 5000 years ago, or even 500 years ago.

To start with, the premise of reduction of population by half and maintaining it at that level itself is impossible, even with massive massacre, war, pestilence, and other modes of killings. So is the chance of maintaining the current level of population, when man is not only growing its species geometrically, but also puts in every effort to extend longevity of life, even to an age when it cannot serve any purpose, nor is it convenient for the survivor, while the burden on the depleted resources of our home planet that we call Earth increases and changes its natural balance and rhythm irreversibly.

Taking the above-stated facts as given or inalienable, in absence of any provable argument coming from any part of the world, the United Nations, and all its and other such agencies included, can any sincere effort salvage anything, does it salvage anything even today? Will it salvage anything tomorrow, or the day after? Is anything being saved, protected, reimbursed, restored, within and out of our planet's environment? If not, then we have to stop kidding ourselves. We have to tell ourselves that we, and we alone, have consumed our home, our planet, and now are left with no alternative but to be consumed by whatever drove us to this folly that we have perversely called progress.

I am not sure that you will even begin to read this mail, let alone read it fully and ruminate over it. I will be full of gratitude if only you will at least acknowledge it.

Sincerely,
Ramesh Gandhi

Enclosed: My Introduction to Environment and Man





Environment and Man





A supremely delicate balance in the atmospheric forces pervading the earth resulted in the creation of the living: plant and animal. Through centuries as these conditions changed, plant and animal alike responded by changing their behaviour patterns and supported this fascinatingly complex balance. That was the least that they could do, for those who did not, became obscure or perished.
Man's appearance was a result of no more glorious a cause, nor were the means of his survival any different. However, gifted in addition with imagination and ambition he set out to ensure his survival not merely by responding to the cycles of nature but also by his ingenuity in improvising shelter, barricades and weaponry for his protection against its inclemencies.





Later this ability was to lead him to the inevitable desire to master the forces of his environment and in the process to come to ignore them. Nature could at best be predicted, but could not be made subservient to the sophistications of the civilization man created. In trying to meet the demands of his progress man slowly but unmistakably started disturbing the natural balance. The earth, water and the air which he had taken for granted as solely for his benefit and ravishment fulminated under his constant abuse. Especially in the last decade, his faith in his ability to govern these forces has gradually dwindled to the extent that he is almost convinced that nature cannot be governed, nor be made to adapt to man's needs. He increasingly realises that in the general scheme of things his environment came first and he later, and therefore, he was infinitely more ephemeral.





More than at any other time, he realises now that for survival he has not only to constantly adapt to the dictates of his environs but also not create conditions in which his atmosphere will refuse to support him. Environment which created him threatens to destroy him unless he restores the equilibrium, even at the cost of progress and his quest for knowledge.
The question is, can he and how soon; and if he cannot, how soon the doom.


(The whole exercise of writing this is the result of the recently held Climate Change conference in Copenhagen, open to all, by President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and therefore copies of the above have been sent to them with the hope that they will at least acknowledge, if not address and reply fully.)

Itna Na Mujhse Tu Pyar Badha




Music, songs.

Listening to the song, Itna na Mujhse Tu Pyaar Badha ... and  coincidentally, at the same time seeing the lyrics on somebody's facebook post, inspired me to add my little bit:

The tune of this song is taken from Mozart's 40th symphony, among his better known, produced when he was very ill, persecuted and tormented. Soon after, he died; but not before he wrote his 41st and last symphony, which has not been considered a significant work. But his last composition, the Requiem, is one of his cardinal works. 

Salil Choudhary, himself a vastly talented lyric writer, composer, producer and a multi-faceted, much-loved man, left a great legacy of his work, and an adoring family, all of whom also sing and write music, almost entirely derived from western classical and folk music. Choudhary wrote Itna Na Mujhse... for the film Chhaya, and used it twice, both on Sunil Dutt and Asha Parekh. 

Mozart's 40th Symphony:

Excavating the Earth



I am thankful to Reliance for giving me credit for something which I may have done circumstantially, and not for lofty beliefs and ideals.  Those who came to know about this modest honour sought me out to congratulate, compliment, praise, and even to ask me what they could do towards the cause of saving our planet, with all that it involved, including halting climate change.

I take the opportunity to say here that I do not believe that mankind is getting closer to a greener globe, and therefore saving itself, apart from most of the other creatures, who have not contributed to this environmental devastation, from perdition.

Regardless of what one of us, or a group, or an entire country, or all of us, consciously NOW does, we cannot reverse the process of our earth's inability to support life as we know it. Each moment, each day, our despoliation increases. Each moment, each day, month, year, is inferior, more problematic, than the last; if not for complex scientific reasons, then simply because we are too many and growing, and all the resources have to be more plundered and exploited for us to reside, have walls and rooms, food, water, transport, and a relatively unpolluted environment.

Whether or not trees are planted, whether or not the milk of human kindness flows with all the generosity it can summon, it is already too late. Things are so bad that the little or more that we do cannot compensate for the harm which we do in the same given time. Therefore, only the deficit is incremental, not the escape or the longevity of our survival.

This is without prejudice to people, experts or novices, societies, social workers, reformers, environmentalists, ecologists, whose job, with or without belief, is to engage themselves in "good works" for improving living conditions and longevity, reducing pollution, disease; and attempting to make mankind, if not the world, a better place to live in and perpetuate.

I have written separately on this subject of environment, and I firmly stand by it.







Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Pale Blue Dot



My earlier blogpost on Carl Sagan, concerning my association with him, which is one of the most valuable and enriching experiences of mine; and thoughts on Cosmos, both his, where we were convergent, and mine, where we were divergent; but which did not diminish my admiration of the man, his vision, his zest for science and beyond, into the secrets of the universe:

http://rameshgandhi.blogspot.in/2014/03/gurgles-of-earth.html
------------------------
Bhupen Gandhi wrote:

In 1978, USA sent a satellite "Voyager 1" in space on a fly-by mission to view our planets up-close and photograph them for the first time, and then continue its journey beyond into interstellar space.  At the time Carl Sagan, the most famous astro-physicist of our times and adviser to NASA, convinced the agency, to turn the camera of the satellite towards earth for the one last time, to take its picture just before leaving our solar system.  After 36 years, "Voyager 1" just did that, four months ago.  The photographs of the Earth and the Moon, taken from beyond Saturn were published by NASA.

In 1980, Carl produced  "Cosmos",  an entrancing TV Series, most widely watched by the public around the world (perhaps, it should have been called, 'Everything you want to know about our Universe").  At the end of the series, he had made a profound concluding speech that was so relevant then and is more so, now.         

Recently, Ann Druyan, Carl's widow, produced "Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey", a follow-up to the earlier "Cosmos"  It was hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, the astro-physicist and director of the New York's Hayden Planetarium.  This series was just as exciting.  At the conclusion of the new series Carl's speech from the original was revisited.  It is truly prophetic; a must see and listen video. 

Satellite Apartments


apartments
in space
for aliens
arriving
or humans
escaping

hurtling
revolving
rotating
38,000 miles per hour

within earth's orbit
sunrise sunset
every hour

destination
moon
mars
venus

or
being thrown out
by internal controls
or external objects
or gravitational
or magnetic forces

meteors
comets
other planets

or
galactic debris
or stars
or whatever

life
its longevity uncertain
as when terrestrial
so also orbitally


Monday, October 27, 2014

The Light and the Darkness Under It


I am a flame
like a wick
and burning with it

I have been asked, variously, by people who care for me and respect me, about the intent and purport of both the visual of The Light and the Darkness Under It, and the poem which accompanies it. Here, in all humility, is my explanation, as I can understand it and expound it:

Essentially, the intended message is visual. The meaning is left to the viewer, who can choose what and how to interpret it, care for it, or be dismissive of both picture and text. 
However, if I had to describe it, I would say that  whatever the size and volume of light, and wherever it may be, the darkness which surrounds it is always even greater. In the context of human existence and civilisation, this metaphor becomes even more emphatic.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Furling Unfurling


the sun
furling and unfurling

a new day
a new beginning
a new arrival
a new departure

the new 
as in old

-------------------------------
Bhashwati wrote:

The words,

A new departure

the new
as in old

holds the key. 
The day furls even as it unfurls, the hours of light pass into the depths of darkness. The same familiar cycle forever and yet often the heart craves and the mind yearns for lasting light, for arrivals divorced from departure, for life free of death... as if such were even possible. 
But if conscious life must live, it can only do so by denying all consciousness of reality.

And the image brings to mind an old song by Jaan Nisar Akhtar, Javed Akhtar's father, : 

Katra katra pighalta raha aasmaan
Rooh ki waadiyon mein na jaaney kahaan
Ik nadi dil ruba geet gaati raahi


Friday, October 24, 2014

Warp and Weft




weave as delicately as you touch
for it may wither

a will-o-the-wisp
ephemeral
endangered

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Shade and Shadows



under the branch
of the sun
shadows and shine

------------------------
Anonymous wrote:

Donon tasveeron ke naam bhi tasveer jaiseyi badhiya.

Shade and shadows is like a jugalbandi between the two artists, light and shade producing an elegant canvas of delicate leaf lines held in the bold dappled embrace.

Transit, Transitory


lighted lobbies 
unaware of day or night
eviscerated
of people

concealing them
inside or outside
as they transit
cities and continents

countless mysteries
within their innards
invisible services
to pick 
from spick and span

untold stories
folding, unfolding
within its facade
telling you nothing

----------------------------------
Anonymous wrote:

Your title transit and transitory glides up and down the long "unaware" passage. So right that it (the passage) should have no sign of (human) life, which for all its self indulgent sense of importance is merely another being in transit through time and space, also notions created by him like this embellished passage.    
The lives concealed and concealing along these passages fascinate me in a morbid kind of way but im happy to remain unaware. The secret of other lives is best left to mystery. It is enough that consciousness must constantly span the mess of the commonplace. Let some places remain spotlessly silent.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Hush, Hudhud


meek silence 
under the earth

due to and during
nature's fury
in full display

through wind velocity
and oceanic storms
above

proof, as if required
that all the ingenuity of man
is ultimately vanquishable

against nature
man and his adventurism
are ultimately absolutely
reducible to
unrecognizable smithereens

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Believe It or Not

Posted on facebook:
Dzigar Kongtrul RinpocheJuly 17, 2012 · 

Compassion: This incredible photo marks the end of Matador Torero Alvaro Munera's career. He collapsed in remorse mid-fight when he realized he was having to prompt this otherwise gentle beast to fight. He went on to become an avid opponent of bullfights. Even grievously wounded, the bull did not attack Munera. May we all support the welfare of non-human species.


My comment: The extraordinary thing about this incredible picture is the 'expressions' , both of the matador and the bull, which make the picture extremely sensitive to human perception, and denote an unspoken eloquence. Whether the photographer took the picture with the sensitivity which it conveys, to me and most other observers, hopefully, intentionally and understanding its momentous emotive expression or not, and therefore the picture is accidental or part of a larger video from which it has been singled out, is rendered immaterial in this very large and profound context.
-------------------

Pravin Gandhi wrote:
Reminds me of:


My Reply:
Reminds you rightly so; but the similarities end there: one ended in gruesome misunderstanding between man and animal, whose biggest threat he is, and the other, in man's deepest remorse, when he surrenders his life, which the animal is too baffled to take.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Feather-touched


soft and smooth
to the touch
but like a silkworm
lifeless
within or without
the woven cocoon

---------------------------
Anonymous wrote:
That you composed with the mesh aslant and not straight adds to my picture of the bird having struggled before breaking free. The whole idea is metaphorical of course since no winged or feathered creature can escape from those tiny squares much as it might want to.

The doomed 'form' always wanting 'out' whether from life's constraints or from life itself.  

The feather in the image disturbed me. The magnified mesh looks like the grill of a hen coop and a feather stuck on it is suggestive of the body it must have been part of  So the word that stands out for me in the text is 'lifeless', in the sense of without life. It feels almost like life escaped through the gaps leaving a disembodied memory behind.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Choice



No system is all bad, or entirely perfect. 

That makes all choices imperfect.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Mahabharat in Maharashtra








Where is Krishna? Or is there Krishna? If he is there, what is his disguise this time around?

----------------------------------

Unfortunately, while there are political battles and bickering galore inside the country,  it appears that the rabble-rousing politicians of India have left the borders of Great Bharat completely unguarded, without vigilance or proactive effort to protect them from incursions, disregard and disrespect to the country's pride, violated by all and sundry from our neighbourhood.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

My Sister


Separated by four years, My Sister. I was born on her fourth birthday, and according to the customs of our family (Vaishnavite?), since we shared the same Zodiacal sign, Libra, and as she was named Rama, I was named Ram. My great dear uncle No. 7 (a large family?) very quickly bribed the young inmates of our building in Calcutta with peppermints to call me only Ramesh, so I have carried that extension of Ram attached to my name, for better or worse.

She was sixteen years old when I took this picture, which would be in 1948. I made her pose sitting on a chair on the roof terrace. As the background was cluttered with the innards of a terrace home (barsaati), like charpoys, chairs, drinking water pots, cooking vessels and so on and in, I rigged up the backdrop, a shawl, on the clothesline.

The rest is his(her)story, and mine. Both forgettable in the ocean of timelessness and the ultimate irrelevance of everything. 

Incidentally, My Sister was also the name of a very successful film, produced, I think, by New Theatres, and most known for music direction by Pankaj Mallick, and for songs sung by Saigal and Utpala Sen. I doubt if anyone today would have the slightest interest in this bit of information, which is given only to acknowledge where I borrowed the title of this post from. 

If you have come this far, thank you.

----------------------------------
Pravin Gandhi wrote:
A few weeks before my mother died, Ramaben had visited. My mother was semi-paralytic. She had a great love for all "dikri's" and wd not let her leave, holding the hand in a vice-like grip when it was time for her to leave, even tho the conversation would be 1-way. I vividly remember that clasp with Ramaben God knows what communication flowed through that clasp, as if they both knew the impending. That was the last they saw of each other.

-------------------------------------
My reply:
Pravin: Your three lines contained the most sublime essence held in passing by two hands, one living, another slipping away in parting: dear and revered Kaki and Ben. Thank you for such excellence of feeling and expression.
--------------------------------------
Shyla Shanker wrote:
Well written ! I am sure you're story is relevant to you " but I must say she looks like kamla Nehru reminds me of seeing my mothers photographs .early morning enjoyed reading .
--------------------------------------
Mymoon Moghul wrote:
what a beautiful image sir...pretty lady too...thanks for sharing
--------------------------------------
Pravin Gandhi wrote:
Do you hv that picture that I referred to above?, else I'll look in my archives. 


apart from the overall compo of the pic, I am drawn to look in the direction of her stare... wonder what she is staring/searching with great interest/anticipation
---------------------------------------
Hemantha Kumar Pamarthy wrote:
...Phoolon Ka Taaron Ka Sabka Kehna Hai
Ek Hazaron Mein Meri Behna Hai...


...Nainon Mein Rahen To 
Sudhbudh Khoyen
Chhupe To Chain Haarein
Do Naina Matware tihare
Hum par zulm kare...

My Sister (1944) 'Meri Bahen'
K. L. Saigal
Lyrics: Pt. Bhushan
Music: Pankaj Mullick

-----------------------------------------
Pravin Gandhi wrote:
apart from the overall compo of the pic, I am drawn to look in the direction of her stare... wonder what she is staring/searching with great interest/anticipation
-----------------------------------------
My reply:
Pravin: She is staring and looking as/at directed by her inexperienced young brother, who had never held a camera with multiple choices of focus for distance, aperture, depth of field, exposure and film speed converse ratio, through a view-finder of a Japanese camera which was curiously lent by an elderly Bengali bhadralok.
-----------------------------------------
Bhashwati wrote:
How neat.

the composition, the subject, the title and the accompanying text including the bit about the film.

If the photographer really was all of 12 years old, the output is remarkable.

In my very subjective 'view' stories both his and her, are what we can churn endlessly out of the oceans of timelessness and in as much they can never be irrelevant.
Forgettable? 
To forget or not to forget is not even a choice jee, What we live remains embedded in our consciousness does it not for as long as we last?

Metaphysics aside, what poise and dignity your sister exudes.
Awesome.

i thumb to the power n.

thank you.
------------------------------
Subhasish Bose wrote:
She is looking like NUTAN of swaraswatichanda.i read ur writing with heart......

------------------------------
My reply:
Saying that you saw Nutan in My Sister is one of the greatest compliments that she would have received during the time she lived. Nutan, apart from her pristine beauty, was rare; known for the dignity of her carriage, application in her acting assignments, and unknown for any kind of malice towards, or from, herself. I should know, as I have served as a member of the Film Censor Board, as well as the committee for selecting films for the International Film Festivals. Thanks very much indeed.
-------------------------------------------------
Charu wrote:
In the realm of irrelevance I must rhetorically ask why ' his(her)' in 'The rest is his(her)story, and mine. "?

Taralika wrote:

DrTaralika Trivedi Well caught,:)

------------------------------------------------------
My reply:


Charu: In the first place, his/her is not in the realm of irrelevance. WE are. The parentheses were an attempt both to avoid the presumption of considering our lives to be historical; and secondly, I felt that using the word 'history' would be misogynistic. Apparently my attempt at modesty has failed, as I am convinced it does not become me, at least as far as two evolved ladies think.

Taralikaji: Well-caught, in keeping with improvement in Indian fielding, which for more than half a century was much maligned in the game of cricket.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Spangled



--------------------------
Charu wrote:
With stars. Add stripes to it and it is "Old Glory".
--------------------------
My reply:
What price glory ? ! .
--------------------------
Mymoon Moghul wrote:
Sir
Your images and titles make me pause during my busy schedule...something like a breather...sometimes I ponder on what the image is about, what the title is about...sometimes duty calls...all in all thanks for sharing and giving me an opportunity to breathe.

regards
Mymoon

Friday, August 29, 2014

Fasting Ganesh


An unusual depiction of Ganesh; my photograph, expressionistically taken in a hotel suite in Calcutta in 2010

Ganesh is very lovingly revered by all Hindus, Jains and Buddhists.

He is the son of Shiva and Parvati. He has a human body with an elephant's head.  He is the Remover of Obstacles, and is worshipped at the beginning of  every new venture, to ensure its success.

Here is one invocation of Ganesh, written by Girish Karnad at the beginning of his play Hayavadana:
May Vighneshwara, the destroyer of obstacles, who removes all hurdles and crowns all endeavours with success, bless our performance now. How indeed can one hope to describe his glory in our poor, disabled words? An elephant's head on a human body, a broken tusk and a cracked belly -- whichever way you look at him he seems the embodiment of imperfection, of incompleteness. How indeed can one fathom the mystery that this very Vakratunda-Mahakaya, with his crooked face and distorted body, is the Lord and Master of Success and Perfection? Could it be that this Image of Purity and Holiness, this mangala-moorty, intends to signify by his very appearance that the completeness of God is something no poor mortal can comprehend?

Like most of the gods, Ganesh has many names, which refer to their various attributes. One, which is used most endearingly, is Lambodara, One Who Has a Potbelly. (Lamba + Udara)

  
Ganesh with his two consorts, painted by Raja Ravi Varma, from my collection at home

One of his names is Ganapati, the Captain of the Ganas, an army of weirdos that follow Lord Shiva.

For more information about Ganesh, see his Wikipedia entry.

Ganesh's birth festival, Ganapati Chaturthi, is celebrated with a frenzy almost unparalleled in the Hindu pantheon of gods. Media, especially cinema and TV, do not tire, year after year, of depicting the frenzy with song and, dance, often performed under the influence of intoxicants.  Each successive year surpasses the previous year in its depiction.

This year, for me at least, who has never stepped out, not only to participate, but even to get a glimpse of these events, brought a slew of shocking and revolting pictures of the aftermath of these celebrations. Some soul decided to circulate these in an email, so I have no means of acknowledging, giving credit, or attributing motives, except to say that it can benumb you, whether or not you are a believer. The email exhorted the reader to circulate them. Here are three of them. If you are aroused to revulsion, introspection, and a sense of feeling stigmatised, maybe the purpose would be served.

Ganesh, Following the Celebrations at His Consecration