Meera with a head full of flowers

pic of Meera with a head full of flowers by Arun Shanbhag

At a recent ‘munji’ Meera got an opportunity to have her head decked with this woven flower buds. Those are Jaai buds from a village called Shankarā-pur near Karkala. One of M’s cousins brought those flowers. Another relative spent nearly an hour carefully covering Meera’s hair with the flowers.

She was one happy kiddo.

Colaba Ganapati @ Millburn NJ

Friday Ratri Puja and Visarjan Puja
Bhatmaam has arrived and drinking hot Kaapi!

Friday Danapaar Puja
Live streaming of Friday afternoon puja


pics of Colaba Ganapati @ Millburn by Arun Shanbhag

Thursday Ratri Puja


Thursday morning Ganesh Chaturthi Puja
Here is the live stream of the Colaba Ganapati puja from Millburn, NJ.
Ganapati Bapa Morya!

Other Ganapati Posts:

Lunch & Chanting at Saraswati Vidya Kendra

photos of kindergarten tudents eating lunch at Saraswati Vidya Kendra Kumta by Arun Shanbhag

I have previously written about the mid-day school lunch at the Shanbhag High School and the primary Saraswati Vidya Kendra in Kumta. When I visited Kumta earlier this year, I took a few video snippets of students lining up for lunch and the KG students chanting the blessing.

At the Konkan schools, teachers too have a uniform saree. In the video, you see them helping. Seniors serve the lunch, while teachers help seat the kids and serve seconds. Continue reading “Lunch & Chanting at Saraswati Vidya Kendra”

Kini Hotel, Kumta

pics of chai and breakfast at Kini Hotel Kumta by Arun Shanbhag

This tiny tea shop in Kumta is my main eating and meeting place in Kumta. It’s in the main paent (market) and only a few steps from the Shanteri Kamakshi Devasthan and the Venkatraman Muth/Devasthan. Continue reading “Kini Hotel, Kumta”

Kumta Street Vegetables

In the Kumta market, these women set up shop early in the morning before the crowds got there. Those vegetables look so delicious! It was March, so the variations of brinjals/eggplants were in season. You will also find konkani classics padwal, ghosalae, muLi (radish), tambdi bhaji (red leaves), vaaLi (green creeper leaves), muggae, karate, maskaa sang, jaam and others. If you notice others, let me know.
photos of fresh vegetable vendors on Kumta Street by Arun Shanbhag Continue reading “Kumta Street Vegetables”

Pālki at the Rāmnāthi Devasthān

photos of Ramnath and Kamakshi in Palki at Ramnathi Devasthan by Arun Shanbhag
Hindus believe that all things animate and in-animate (manifest or unmanifest) are part of the universal divine consciousness. We generally refer to this divine consciousness as “That”, because any attribute you give it is limiting (see Sant Tulsidas’ beautiful verse describing “That” divine consciousness; also this post on Dwija). In common parlance, we refer to “That” as Paramātmā or eternal soul (1). It thus follows that all humans are part of this eternal soul or Paramātmā. The corollary then is that Paramātmā too includes human qualities, strengths and frailties, and expresses human emotions. Purān and itihās (history) are filled with their anthropomorphed lore. In our temples, we adore our divine just like we would our valued guests. In the common Hindu puja, we pamper our divine guest with 16 services (shodasho upchār) like if she was a valued friend, like cleaning her feet, helping her brush, bathe, providing new clothes, jewelry, sumptuous feasts, etc.

Completing this anthropomorphization our temple bound deities like to go out on the town and have fun. Wouldn’t you if you were couped up in a tiny garbha-griha? Thus in many communities, devotees take their temple deities out for a ride in a specially designed pālki (palanquin) (2).

Every Monday evening at the Rāmnāthi Devasthān, Rāmnāth Dev sits in a pālki and is carried around the grounds. It’s a festive occasion with a small band playing and devotees chanting bhajans. Following tradition, the pālki has designated stops where aarti is performed and verses of the Mangalāshtak are chanted. Pālki is followed by a sumptuous prasād (yaay).

On special occasions, Rāmnāth Dev is accompanied by Kāmākshi Devi on his jaunt around the temple grounds. These pictures are from the recent Mahā Shivrātri when Rāmnāth and Kāmākshi went around the temple in their respective pālki (3) . While Rāmnāth sits in his simple pālki, Kāmākshi, verily the Goddess of Desire and Sensuality, tours in style, high on an elephant pālki. How cool is she?


Notes:
1. The word God doesn’t exist in Hindu vocabulary and is a Western construct.
2. In Mumbai you commonly see Muslims take their sacred deity out on the town; recently in Kumta, I noticed the local christians in a procession with their deity in a pālki.
3. Plural of pālki remains pālki and not the anglicized pālkis.

Pyāsā – Soda at Rāmnāthi

Photos of the Soda store owner at the Neeta Canteen by the Ramnathi Devasthan Goa by Arun Shanbhag

During Maha Shivratri, as I waited for a rickshaw outside the Ramnathi Devasthan, I shot pics of colorful soda bottles arrayed in crates. The hovering owner felt neglected and offers, “Maegel bhī photo kād” (take a pic of me too). I obliged. I loved the confident pose he struck in front of the red wall. You can imagine him in a previous avatār, curling his handlebar mustache and astride a horse. Quintessential Goa. For that, he gets the opening pic. Continue reading “Pyāsā – Soda at Rāmnāthi”

MahāShivrātri at Rāmnāthi

Photos of MahaShivaratri Festival at Ramnathi Goa by Arun Shanbhag
Ramnath Dev being taken out on a Phalki

|| Om Namah Shivay ||
Wishing you all an auspicious Maha Shivratri


More on the Ramnathi Devasthan Goa:


Enjoy these pictures from the Maha Shivratri Utsav at Ramnathi Devasthan, Goa

Meera at Seva Mandal Ganapati: Worth her weight in … bananas

pictures of Meera on the scales at the GSB Seva Mandal  by Arun Shanbhag

In a Hindu tradition called Tolay Bhaar families celebrate life events by offering their weight in fruits to the divine. These fruits are then served to devotees as prasad. At the GSB Seva Mandal Ganapati, this tradition takes on mammoth proportions where 1000’s of devotees offer everything from the more traditional coconuts, bananas or modak/appams (the sweet dollop made during Ganapati festivals), to gold or silver jewelry.

During the past year, we got a wonderful opportunity to perform Meera’s Tolay Bhaar (roughly translates to: scales are full) at the GSB Seva Mandal in Mumbai. The weighing scales are setup in front of the Ganapati murthy, giving the devotee an unimpeded darshan. Despite my concerns, Meera sat quietly and (eerily) focused in darshan, the entire time she was on the scales. Continue reading “Meera at Seva Mandal Ganapati: Worth her weight in … bananas”

Tambdo Phovu – Red Flattened Rice, v2

Pics how to make Tambdo Phovu poha, red flattened rice by Arun Shanbhag

(During processing these pics, I remembered I had previously written on Making Tambdo Phovu; so, edited the text and added in newer pics.)

Phovu (beaten or flattened rice) freshly mixed with few spices is a staple breakfast of Konkanis. We grew up eating tambdo phovu nearly every day (tambdo for red comes from the crushed red chillis in this recipe). When visitors arrive unannounced, aunts or grandma would quickly mix this snack, usually takes less than 5 minutes to prepare. Since this is simply mixed, it is also called kāláyilo (mixed) phovu. Many households use phova piTTo (powdered spice mix for phovu), but we made this from scratch. Continue reading “Tambdo Phovu – Red Flattened Rice, v2”

Girls making Papad 2

Picture of girls making papad in Kumta, India

A few years back while visiting Kumta I went back to the little shack where I had earlier seen young women making papad (writeup and pics). I was glad to see that this little cinderblock workshop was still active, and women came together to make papad and other eatables to sell in local stores. I like the light in this pic. Continue reading “Girls making Papad 2”

Ganapati at the GSB Muth, Wadala

Ganapati at GSB Wadala by Arun Shanbhag

The GSB Wadala Muth Ganapati holds some of my fondest memories of sarvajanik (public) Ganapati. At 8 ft, it is not the largest of the Ganapatis, but certainly one of the most artistically excuted and ‘constant.’ Even though the artisans craft a new murthy from clay each year, this murthy has not changed one bit over the last three decades. The size is limited by the doorway to the hall where this Ganapati sits. The GSB Seva Mandal Ganapati contrarily, is built on and sits on a trolley which is covered under a huge outdoor tent. On visarjan day, the stage is dismantled and the trolley with the Ganapati is pulled out. The Wadala Ganapati is wheeled/carried out of the hall, placed on a trailer and taken to Shivaji Park for immersion.
Continue reading “Ganapati at the GSB Muth, Wadala”

Ganapati at GSB Seva Mandal

pictures of GSB Seva Mandal Ganapati 2011 2012 by Arun Shanbhag

The GSB Seva Mandal is one of the largest Sarvajanik (public) Ganapati celebrations in Mumbai. The murthy is 14 ft tall and all pujas ( devotional services) are performed in Sanskrit following traditions prescribed in ancient scriptures. See pics from our 2009 visit here.
Continue reading “Ganapati at GSB Seva Mandal”

Video: Making Mysore Masala Dosa


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Following up on the Video: Making of Rava Dosa and Masala Dosa, here is the next installment of making Mysore Masala. I was surprised they spread a red chilli paste over the dosa, I had thought they sprinkle a spice blended podi (powder) as seen at the Shanbhag fast food place in Hospet, Karnataka. Delicious, nonetheless. A Mysore Masala Dosa at Kamats, Colaba costs Rs 38 (US 85 cents)! I want two, delivered.
Continue reading “Video: Making Mysore Masala Dosa”

Video: Making Rava Dosa and Masala Dosas

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Growing up in Mumbai, dosas were a staple in our home. We never tired of them. Could munch dosas for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In the expert hands of my mother, dosas were easy; its the parathas and North Indian fare she avoided. We didn’t miss those. Continue reading “Video: Making Rava Dosa and Masala Dosas”

Dwijā – The Twice Born

Composite image of fetus overlaid on pic of cosmos by Arun Shanbhag, Who is a Dwija or Twice born?

In the Vedās, Upanishads, Gita and the Purān, we often encounter the term, Dwijā – twice born (Dwe – two; – born). A person is called a Dwijā, after his thread ceremony.

What two births are implied here? Continue reading “Dwijā – The Twice Born”

Video: Approaching Kumta on the Konkan Railway


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Music: Mere Desh Ka Salaam, Shobha Gurtu.


Those who have ridden the Konkan Railway can attest, the rural countryside with emerald green fields is mesmerizing. I think of an early retirement in a village, a small house and running a school.

To share the genesis of this madness, I recorded the view. Here is a 67 second snippet, as the train crossed the Aghanashini River and approached the Kumta Train station. I recorded this from the doorway with my flip video, amidst the rain and rumbling of the train. Enjoy and tell me what you think.
Continue reading “Video: Approaching Kumta on the Konkan Railway”

Video: Weaving Jaaii Flowers


During recent travels, I was visiting relatives in Honavar, Karnataka – a sleepy coastal town south of Kumta (see google map below). I had stopped by a family store to add money to my pre-paid cell phone. There, this older gentleman was weaving these delicate pink buds called jaaii-che kaLo. These buds only sprout after the monsoon rains (June – August), have a delicate fragrance and are highly sought after during the festival season in July-September. It was a simple, yet mesmerizingly beautiful weave and he agreed to let me record it on my flip video. Continue reading “Video: Weaving Jaaii Flowers”

Video: Making Puran Polis

When in Mumbai, we attended a puja at my aunt’s place in Jogeshwari. There we enjoyed a delicious south india lunch, served on banana leaves. Freshly made, warm puran polis, dribbled with home-made tuup (clarified butter), was one of many desserts. The catering crew were making it in the back. Enjoy the video.

puran poli sanzori konkani foodsAnd see this older post, where I describe how our extended family comes together to make Sanzori, a variant of the puran poli. So much fun.

Here is Shilpa’s (Aayis Recipes) excellent recipe for puran poli (also called Obbattu).

And another recipe for Puran Poli from Sailu’s Kitchen.



Some of my Other Videos:



Shri Rām: The Holy Name

Shri Ram Jaya Ram Jaya Jaya Ram japa mantra by Arun Shanbhag
For city bred siblings, summering at our grand parents’ home in Bhatkal was essential nirvana. In the orchard we tied strings to dragon flies and watched them jet away. We foraged for bird eggs in old trees. With sling shots we brought down mangoes, not because our aim was any good, but because the trees were laden with fruit. Listening to abbu (grandpa) in his pharmacy store, we learnt a smattering of Kannada and many more swear words. On dark nights without power, gazillion fireflies flickering on mud walls, guided us home. Continue reading “Shri Rām: The Holy Name”

Fill-up at the Idli House

pics from Idli House Mumbai by Arun Shanbhag

Mumbai was recently blessed with a eatery dedicated to idlis: those delicately steamed rice cakes. South Indians start their day with idli, dunked in sambar or a liberal side of coconut chutney. At home, I enjoy piping hot Idli Sambar for brunch, or to accompany the afternoon chah or kaapi. Leftover idlis make golden crisp Idli fry, or crumbled and tossed with a medley of spices. On family trips you have all initially groaned, when aunts unpack idlis and chutney – the ultimate travel food. By the end you are licking chutney of fingers, while fellow travelers stare with envy.

It was only a matter of time that we, little m included, finally made it to Idli House in King Circle, Matunga. It’s a tiny place and crowded. Many stand and eat. The laser focus on idlis keeps the service quick and very inexpensive, making it the poor man’s meal. On any given day they serve about 8-10 types of idlis.
Continue reading “Fill-up at the Idli House”

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