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Shillpi A Singh
Zbigniew A. Chertlur is only seven years old but already an Internet sensation, popular on the web as the “6-year-old foreigner who sings Telugu and Indian patriotic songs”. He has a huge fan following on the social media, around 3,000 followers on Facebook and in a short span of time, he has grabbed more than three million eyeballs on his FB page. He is quite a rage on the YouTube as well with many ardent fans who subscribe to his channel, follow it, watch his uploads and share it on their social media handles.
Fondly called Bujji or Zbigs by his friends and family, Zbigniew was born on April 30, 2009, in Wroclaw, Poland. Currently based in London, Bujji is a well-known face in the modelling and acting circuit in the UK. He was the face of TESCO, Nissan, and Camelot commercials and has acted in a handful of short films.
Known as a boy who remembers everything and forgets nothing, Bujji’s claim to fame, however, is his rendition of long forgotten Telugu songs, both film and devotional numbers that have captured the imagination of the Telugu speaking communities settled in the US and the UK. His most popular ones are Nevena Nanu Pilichinadi and Lahiri Lahiri Lahiri Lo from the NTR-starrer Mayabazar and Paadutaa Teeyagaa Challaga from Mooga Manasulu. On the occasion of Ugadi, Telugu New Year, he shared a video of his rendition of the Telugu anthem, Maa Telugu Talliki Malle Poodanda, to greet Telugu people across the globe. The video has been well received by the community spread across the world and has become viral.
Bujji’s parents moved bag and baggage to London four years ago to give him a better future. Though he is fluent in English and Polish, he can sing in Spanish and Telugu, and that’s quite a feat. He started learning Telugu songs in December 2015 and four months alone he has sung many yesteryear hits and devotional numbers, perfectly taking care of its nuances and accent. His renditions are a huge hit on the Internet. A fashion photographer by profession, Bujji’s father Sharath C. Chertlur, who initiated him into singing in Telugu said, “He has a remarkable memory. One day, I heard him humming a Spanish song. Befuddled, I asked him how did he learn it? His response was equally surprising. He said from TV. That is when I thought of introducing him to the Telugu language. The first one that I taught him was a Suklam Baradharam Vishnum, a difficult devotional song and he did a fantastic job with it. I must say that with every presentation, he is improving and taking it a notch higher.”
A gifted child, he has a photographic memory. At 3, he could recognise car brands by seeing their logos alone. By the time he turned 4, he had memorised the capitals of more than 250 countries. He then learned about important inventions and discoveries and some of the physics like Newton’s Laws. All of this when he could not write or read, but yes, he could remember when told and repeat when asked. “He remembered everything and forgot nothing of what I said to him and that made me realise that probably we should move to the UK to give him a good education and more exposure,” said Sharath.
A student of Grade 2 at Parsloes Primary School in London, he is an avid reader, and his favourite authors are Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton, and Francesca Simon.
He is bound to leave you spellbound with his in-depth knowledge of India, its culture, languages, religions and above all the epics — Ramayana and Mahabharata — and other mythological stories and characters. His favourite Gods are Krishna, Shiva, and Hanuman, and he credits YouTube for bringing him closer to his Telugu roots.
His mother, Urzula E Chertlur, who is a manager in a jewellery firm in London, is yet to come to terms with her son’s growing fan following. “I want Zbigs to stay grounded, but aim for the sky.” She added that her son is a foodie and loves Indian sweets, his favourites being Kaju Barfi and Besan Laddu.
For the young boy, it was overwhelming to perform in front of a crowd of 2,000-odd Telugu speaking people here in London for the APNRT function held at the White House Complex in honour of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu’s recent visit to the United Kingdom.
A budding actor, he is a big fan of the Khan trio and Big B from Hindi cinema and Mahesh Babu and Pawan Kalyan from Telugu movie. Bujji’s last screen outing was Simon Giles’, The Sting of a Martyr, a psychological drama, where he shared screen space with Michael Luke Walsh, Karina Diglyte, Antonia Turner, and Steve Nicolson. Bujji has also landed a plum role in Roland Joffe’s untitled next. But he seemed quite excited about his next movie Lost in the Snow, which will be extensively shot in Poland, his land.
On the domestic front, he has bagged a full-length role in Telugu movie to be directed by Gopi Mohan and another one by Chandra Siddhartha. Praising the young prodigy, Mohan said, “Bujji is a small wonder. His renditions of old Telugu film songs left me speechless. His talent needs a bigger platform, and I am happy to have him on board for my next movie.”
And not just Telugu, he will soon bowl over his fans and followers with old Hindi film songs. “I am trying to reach a wider audience. Hindi is our national language, and it is spoken and understood by so many people across the globe that it becomes indispensable to have Hindi songs in my repertoire,” said Bujji.
He is flooded with offers for stage shows in the US. Sneha Vedula, the founder of Tulip Kids and Team Shakti, who is enamoured with his singing prowess, said, “He is a talented young boy, and it would be great to have him here for one of the cultural festivals in near future. His spirited renditions will inspire Telugu people in the US to take pride in their language, the Italian of the East. God willing, it will happen soon.”
If you are wondering about his favourite song, the young singing sensation has an ace up his sleeve. It’s the National Song Jana Gana Mana and Vande Mataram. It’s a perfect parting shot and that too on a patriotic note from a small wonder called Bujji.
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Light, airy, and silky, Chanderi silk is to the standards of Indian royals. Some believe it resembles muslin because of its texture, but recently, it has been incorporated with silk threads which adds an additional sheen.
Madhya Pradesh's Chanderi town is where the silk fabric was born. Handwoven sarees were famous here, as it was the primary textile centre in between the 7th and 2nd century BC. Because of its transparency, lightness, and rich look, royals began to patronize this fabric. From the 11th century AD, Chanderi silk became well-known across the country.
The Chanderi weave is a heritage. Long lines of weavers passed this skill to their children, and it is not disclosed to anyone else. It is too delicate to be woven on power looms as the threads are spun until they are as fine as a 300 count. A special root named Kolikanda is used to extract the cotton wool for the silk. These days, gold and silver are embroidered into it. Motifs were created with metal dust.
A weaver working on a Chanderi loom Image credit: Wikimedia commons
Unlike other fabrics, Chanderi silk fibres do not go through a degumming process. They are not crafted to evade breakage and tear easily under high pressure. This is one of the reasons they are so light. It is often called 'woven air' for its breezy, soft texture.These days, the use of cost-effective raw materials spoils the natural beauty of the weave. One of the ways to identify a pure Chanderi saree is from its soft hues. This silk is usually dyed in pastel colours. The motifs are always handwoven and covered in copper dust. The machine weave tends to unwind with time and is not preferred. Original Chanderi can be differentiated from the fake by its glossy shine.
Keywords: Chanderi silk, Royals Silk sarees, Chanderi weave is a heritage.
Each year Diwali is celebrated on Krishna Paksha Chaturdashi, the 14th lunar day of the dark fortnight in the Tamil month of Aippasi. Ancient scriptures of India advise people to worship Yama, the deity of death on the days of Dhantrayodashi, Narak Chaturdashi and Yamadwitiya. People light an oil Diya or 13 oil diyas made of wet wheat flour in the evening. They are kept facing southwards just outside people's residences. These lamps which are traditionally dedicated to Lord Yama are known as Yama Deepam.
It is believed that placing a Yama Deep in the evening of Trayodashi of the dark fortnight of Kartik month prevents any untimely death in the family. The legend of Skanda Purana says that the lighting of Yama Deepams with faith and devotion by the devotees can get the lord to bless them with grace and long and healthy life. Yamadev, the lord of death himself gave assurance to his attendants that even though death is inevitable and cannot be avoided those who perform this Deepdan on Dhantrayodashi will not suffer an early death.
The ritual Yama tarpanam can also be performed early in the morning on Diwali day as a form of worshipping Yama.
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Story of Origin of Yamadeepadana
A 16-year-old son of King Hima was destined to die on the fourth day of his married life due to a snake bride. A girl agreed to marry the unlucky prince despite knowing his ill fate.
She wanted to save her husband; on the fourth day of their marriage, the young bride didn't allow her husband to sleep. She lit the palace with innumerable Deepas, and gathered all her ornaments, jewellery and coins, and placed them in a heap at the entrance. When Lord Yama, guise as a snake reached the palace, his eyes were blinded by the dazzle of deepas, preventing him from entering the room. He waited near the ornament and coins for the prince to approach them. He sat there all night listening to the songs and tales narrated by the young bride. Soon, the sun rose and Lord Yama had to return empty-handed. The wife had saved her husband from the mouth of the death. Since the day of Dhanteras was named Yamadeepdaan and this tradition was celebrated by burning lamps through the night dedicated to Lord Yama.
When Lord Yama, guise as a snake reached the palace, his eyes were blinded by the dazzle of deepas.Unsplash
Elements of Yamadeepadana
To perform the ritual of Yamadeepadan one requires sandalwood paste, turmeric, vermilion, flowers to offer to the god, consecrated rice in the ritualistic pattern. For achaman (purification ritual) a cooper platter, tumbler, and a spoon are required. The lamp is placed in a copper platter to be taken out of the house. Most importantly, you need to prepare 13 lamps made of kneaded wheat flour mixed with turmeric powder.
Significance of wheat flour lamps
On the day of Dhanteras, the Tama-dominant (negative) energy frequencies are active in a higher proportion which causes untimely death. The lamps made of wheat flowers neutralize these energies and protect you from any unfortunate death.
Why "13" lamps?
- 13 lamps are offered to the lord as the frequencies coming from Lord Yama stay only 13 moments of Hell. Hence, 13 Deepas are lit to appeal to the lord this is known as Yama-Tarpan.
- The number '13' has the power to impress Yama; therefore, on the day of Trayodashi, prayer is made to Yama by offering 13 lamps to escape from death.
- The period of death of an embodied soul is 13 days long, during this period a black covering of death occurs around the soul and slowly it succumbs, in the next 13 days the souls penetrate through subtle boundaries of time to go to other 'loka' from earth aka bhoo-Loka. Untimely death occurs by crossing over these 13 wheels of time. To avoid such untimely death in the subtle 13 wheels of time, 13 'Deep-Daan is performed.
Diwali is one of the most auspicious festivals celebrated in India with utmost dedication, happiness, enthusiasm, and passion by the people. By performing Yamatarpan, the sins of the entire year are cleansed.
Keywords: Diwali, Dhanteras, Lord Yama, prevent untimely death, Yamadeepadan, diyas ritual, wheat flour lamps
South India is renowned for many things that elicit culture and tradition. One of the things normally associated with this intricate and impenetrably tradition-bound group of people is their immense love for gold. Their temples, sarees, utensils, and sometimes even food are coated in gold. Their jewellery, while stunning, often bears social implications within their own family hierarchies. One of these traditions is upheld even during Deepavali.
A practice followed usually in wealthy households, Thalai Deepavali is the first Deepavali celebrated after the daughter of the house is married off. During her wedding, the father of the bride would have put up a spectacle, no doubt, but on this occasion as well, he has to host his son-in-law with all the splendour he can afford.
A gold ring studded with diamonds Image credit: Wikimedia commons
The newlyweds come to the bride's house to celebrate an elaborate week of festivities. During their stay, no work is required of them. They are pampered and fed with the best food, choice delicacies, and clothed in beautiful adornments. The son-in-law is taken very good care of and is looked up to as the one who takes up responsibility for the welfare of his bride.
Thalai Deepavali is an intimate celebration while it lasts, but its success reflects only when the groom goes back home. As tradition requires, the bride's father is supposed to present the groom with a ring made of gold. Ideally, it is supposed to represent his worth in the family. Based on the prosperity of the bride's family, and the social standing of the groom's family, the ring is also set with precious stones. It is believed that the pure and unchanging nature of gold will rub off on the wearer. It is every father's wish that his daughter is well-placed in the in-laws' house. When the groom returns home, if the ring does not meet the expectations of his family, it is likely that the relations between both families are soured for a long time.
Deepavali celebrations in Chennai, Tamil Nadu Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
As enduring as gold is in the southern states, it is a symbol of their culture more than anything else. On the occasion of Deepavali as well, gold is the light that shines on a girl's marital life and the blessing to her husband's family.
Keywords: Thalai Deepavali, Family Celebration, elicit culture and tradition.