Sunday, June 23, 2013

Shani Dev

Even at the peril of being termed  orthodox and  superstitious ,  my faith  in destiny and stars  remains unshakable.  In my childhood , I have seen  a turbaned gentleman  going from door to door every Saturday , carrying a  saucer half filled with mustard oil  and in it placed a  metal image or pratima  of  Shanidev , the god wrongly associated with everything sinister and ill-omened so much so that a person with these negative   personality  traits is referred to as     nira sanichar’.One by one each member of the family was required to put a coin in the oil after moving it over the head thrice  , during which time the person carrying the saucer –also known as shanidev- would mumble some mantra - as one looked at his reflection in the oil- to ward off  evil designs of some unknown power.  Though no one now goes  visiting door to door , but  one can see  persons , even young boys and  girls carrying the saucer  with the pratima dipped in  oil  and people like me  on sighting one of them  faithfully  put some coin in the oil.

Here is a real life incident  that occurred with me some 18-19  years ago. 

I was posted at Palampur and at the bus stop  , from where I sometimes  boarded the bus ,on  Saturdays I never forgot to put a coin  in  oil whenever a  person  carrying the saucer  was in sight. However, one Saturday ,   I thought otherwise and  bypassed the   ‘shanidevta ‘  without bothering to put the coin in oil. The day in the office passed peacefully. When it was  time to leave after duty hours,I came out of my room  and while passing  through   the corridor,  I  perchance pushed  the door of an Almirah to close it  and in no time , a  broken steel chair placed above  fell down hitting my  forehead. The office staff came running and the chowkidar-God bless him- tore his  razai and  took out some cotton  to press against the wound to stop bleeding. The rationalists  may laugh at the idea but I believe it was Shanidev’s curse that fell on me  for having ignored  the necessary  ritual of putting coin in the saucer.
Shani Dev, the son of Surya is believed to be a dispenser of justice  and  reasonably punishes the  wrong doer.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Match fixing

I am amused to see that match fixing has become a crime  and being a match fixer, a stigma for life . In good old days, match fixing  was considered a valuable social service  and fixers were  held in high esteem  by all  especially those anxious and worried  parents who were on the look out for  a ‘suitable match ‘  for their  sons and daughters  before  it was too late. In the social context, the match fixer of either gender was a go betweencredited with uniting   two families  through matrimony. I am instantly  reminded of Shankari tai ,  the  match fixer in the daily soap   “Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata hai “- and what a match he finds  for Akshara  ! In real life also the services of these fixers are  sought and availed by people subscribing to the conventional way of life , who do not believe in other options available these days.

 Coming to the  Cricket match fixers, be it   some of the  players  or the   managers or the  sponsors or the much maligned    speculators aka   ‘satorias’ or the satte baaz    , they  have done irreparable harm and disservice to the game . It is  disgusting to see players playing to lose  rather than win  in lieu of  some wads  of currency notes or maybe some other gratification. This reminds me of the old  Bollywood song – chandi ke chand tukdo ke liye, iman ko becha jata hai…… – sung beautifully by Hemant Kumar . These game changers take millions of spectators for a ride, who  throng the  Cricket  stadium  after purchasing  costly tickets or  who  remain glued to the idiot box , making virtual  idiots of themselves, watching , who knows , may be a fixed match ! Cricket played  in this manner is no longer a game of  glorious uncertainties but  ignominious ‘ fixties’.

 George   Bernard Shaw is proved half right !