Monday June 25, 2018

Hindu Childbirth Ceremonies in Trinidad and Tobago

Among all ethnic groups in Trinidad and Tobago, Hindus perform the most intricate childbirth ceremony

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October 23, 2016: In the Ramayana, the Hindu scripture written in 500 BC in India, the chatti [sixth-day childbirth ceremony] of Lord Rama, the son of a king, is described lyrically:

“There was happy music of festivity in every house because the very fountain of beauty had manifested himself. All the men and women of the city were full of joy, everywhere. The city was full of flags and banners and festal arches. …Showers of flowers dropped from heaven ….”

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“Women streamed forth in troops …. carrying jars of gold and salvers full of auspicious articles. They entered the grounds of the royal palace singing as they went along, waving lights and passing offerings round and round over the child’s head as an act of exorcism. They threw themselves at the babe’s feet again and again. Bars, minstrels, panegyrists and songsters chanted solemn praises to the Lord of the Raghus [dynasty].”

Hindus in Trinidad and Tobago, and elsewhere, have been profoundly influenced by the holy Ramayana, the longest epic poem in the world. The poem is dramatised in the form of Ramleela, which has been proclaimed as a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” by UNESCO in 2005. Therefore, it is not surprising that the Ramayana has also inspired participants of the chatti and barahe [12th day] celebrations in Trinidad even after the birth of Rama 7,130 years ago, and at such a great distance ((14,459 km (8,984) airplane miles)) from India.

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Among all ethnic groups in Trinidad and Tobago, Hindus perform the most intricate childbirth ceremony. The sixth-day postnatal chatti ceremony is both a cultural celebration and social proclamation of the safe return of the new mother and her newborn from the perils of childbirth. Some families prefer to observe the birth celebration on the twelfth day, in which case it is known as a barahe and is of greater magnitude than the sixth-day celebration.

Diwali
Diwali

This is one of the rare Hindu religious ceremonies in which a female [masseuse] officiates. She prepares and administers a brew made from the rhizomes of both the hardi and ginger plants. The masseuse [dhagrin or maidy] also gives the new mother and her newborn their first full-body ritualised herbal bath. The masseuse also performs other rituals such as gently tossing the baby into the air, dragging the newborn in a scoop (“soop”), applying kajal [lamp mascara] to the baby’s eyes, and dotting her forehead [tika] to protect the newborn from being infected by najar [evil eye]. For several days, the traditional masseuse massages the baby and the new mother, and she also attends to the maternal abdominal band.

On the evening of the celebration, guests arrive and are served food and drinks. A special dessert called halwa is prepared mainly with hardi [turmeric], a yellow, pungent “heating” herb which is a native of India. The evening begins a long night of noisy rejoicing when chutney and sohar songs are rendered in Hindi and English. The sohar songs, accompanied by a dholak[hand drum], majeera [cymbals] and a dhantal [metal rod], usually draw their sources from child-centred episodes in theRamayana. A sample of a stanza of a sohar is reproduced below.

ráma ke gūráwá gūngru á nīckālā gāīho

[Ráma loves the ghūngru (anklets) on his feet]

… gūngru á nīckālā gāī

… loves the ghūngru

… gūngru á nīckālā gāī

… loves the ghūngru

ráma díré díré chal á backání kausalyá rání mandilá mễi

[Ráma creeps slowly slowly with Queen Kausalyá into the palace]

The participation of relatives from both sides of the family emphasises the importance of birth in continuing family lines and cementing family bonds.

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The chatti and barahe ceremonies are observed as a triumph over infant mortality, particularly perinatal mortality. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines perinatal mortality as the number of stillbirths and deaths in the first week [7 days] of life per 1,000 total births. In 2013, about 2.6 million babies died before reaching their first month in the world.

– by Dr. Kumar Mahavir

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FIFA World Cup 2018: Indian Cuisine becomes the most sought after in Moscow

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Indian cuisine in FIFA World cup
Indian dishes available in Moscow during FIFA World Cup 2018, representational image, wikimedia commons

June 17, 2018:

Restaurateurs Prodyut and Sumana Mukherjee have not only brought Indian cuisine to the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018 here but also plan to dish out free dinner to countrymen if Argentina wins the trophy on July 15.

Based in Moscow for the last 27 years, Prodyut and Sumana run two Indian eateries, “Talk Of The Town” and “Fusion Plaza”.

You may like to read more on Indian cuisine: Indian ‘masala’, among other condiments spicing up global food palate.

Both restaurants serve popular Indian dishes like butter chicken, kebabs and a varied vegetarian spread.

During the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

The Mukherjees, hailing from Kolkata, are die-hard fans of Argentina. Despite Albiceleste drawing 1-1 with Iceland in their group opener with Lionel Messi failing to sparkle, they believe Jorge Sampaoli’s team can go the distance.

“I am an Argentina fan. I have booked tickets for a quarterfinal match, a semifinal and of course the final. If Argentina goes on to lift

During the World Cup, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

FIFA World Cup 2018 Russia
FIFA World Cup 2018, Wikimedia Commons.

“We have been waiting for this World Cup. Indians come in large numbers during the World Cup and we wanted these eateries to be a melting point,” he added.

According to Cutting Edge Events, FIFA’s official sales agency in India for the 2018 World Cup, India is amongst the top 10 countries in terms of number of match tickets bought.

Read more about Indian cuisine abroad: Hindoostane Coffee House: London’s First Indian Restaurant.

Prodyut came to Moscow to study engineering and later started working for a pharmaceutical company here before trying his hand in business. Besides running the two restaurants with the help of his wife, he was into the distribution of pharmaceutical products.

“After Russia won the first match of the World Cup, the footfall has gone up considerably. The Indians are also flooding in after the 6-9 p.m. game. That is the time both my restaurants remain full,” Prodyut said.

There are also plans to rope in registered fan clubs of Latin American countries, who will throng the restaurants during matches and then follow it up with after-game parties till the wee hours.

“I did get in touch with some of the fan clubs I had prior idea about. They agreed to come over and celebrate the games at our joints. Those will be gala nights when both eateries will remain open all night for them to enjoy,” Prodyut said.

Watching the World Cup is a dream come true for the couple, Sumana said.

“We want to make the Indians who have come here to witness the spectacle and feel at home too. We always extend a helping hand and since we are from West Bengal, we make special dishes for those who come from Bengal,” she added. (IANS)