Here’s the review for Agnijaat Agrahayan!
This issue for the month of Agrahayan opens with…
…the Kalipuja Foursome, a quartet of celebrations including:
Dhanteras, or Dhan Trayodashi, in which Lord Kuvera and Goddess Lakshmi, the Lord and Goddess of Wealth are honored. Given India’s historical past, this comes as little surprise, but that’s not all!
There’s also Bhootchaturdashi, a night in which ghosts both benign and malignant wander the Earth to clear the way for Mother Goddess Kali in her purging of evil. Also known as Indian Halloween, the similarity with Halloween in the West is remarkable, though also strikingly different in its significance and means of celebration. I’ll add that the leafy veggies eaten this night are probably much more healthful than copious mass-produced bags of sweets as done in the West!
The next in line is Kalipuja, the actual worship of Mother Goddess Kali, and sometimes, Dipawali as well, though otherwise that happens the next night, which celebrates Lord Rama’s return to Ayodhya from exile. I was struck by the means of celebrating the latter, and I imagine that the display of lights and crackers this night must be dazzling!
Then, there is: Razia Sultana
Whose time as Empress of India was, I think cut far too short given her evident ability as a ruler. Truly an iconic figure for women’s liberation, and a remarkable leader.
Myriad ways of hackers: Here is something that will really make you wary! I’ve heard that there are only two kinds of computers: those that have been hacked, and those that will be.There’s good advice here to consider when wandering about online!
Gangajamuni Culture: describes the blending of cultures that’s bound to happen in a region as diverse as India, and certainly there has been a cross-pollination of ideas between religions on the subcontinent since the very beginning. Here, there is a hopeful note for the same sort of thing in our species’ not-too-distant future.
Nature @Kolkata in Agrahayan: Mmmm! Now this is something I must look for in local Bengali markets here in the States! Here is a yummy description of three sweets, Sandesh, Rasogolla, and Moa, seasonal, of course but very tempting to try if they can be found at the right time of year!
Sin of father: All too often I hear people invoke this as an excuse for scapegoating, victim-blaming, and retributive *ahem* ‘justice’ in most criminal legal systems, depending on the level of callous disregard for others involved. It’s not a stretch here to say that silence conveys assent.
Bhaktivad or Bhakti movement: Fascinating that this development in Indian religion, returning first in South India, has become so popular, but understandably so! There are many ways to worship, all of them speak to our humanity, and they are often shared by religions around the world. I’m reminded of the late George Harrison of the Beatles, and his devotion to Lord Krishna.
I loved the stories, but Treacherous Sands was particularly notable, and as an excerpt from a new novel, I eagerly await adding it to my collection! It sounds scary, and worth writing a full review on!
Chhathpuja: this one is a tale of the worship of Lord Surya and Goddess Usha by an ancient king seeking a son to inherit his kingdom. It’s brief, but there’s a lot in it for the words in which it is written!
I liked both of the stories from the authoress’ collection, Spirits of Darkness and Night. The Town of the Doomed stood out as downright dark!
For the verses, Rukminiharan: Kidnapping Rukmini was a nice take on a mythological tale of romance, with some very upset greedy suitors, too!
The image-verses I rather enjoyed, with The Painter being my favorite, as I rather loathe ‘debates’ about religious topics in person, and try to avoid them online as well.
‘Are we welcome’ stood out as another good one, brief, but very cosmic in perspective!
Shots from Kolkata, at the very end, is a wonderful collection of photos, showing the authoress’s artistic side (like the verse-images and throughout this issue) quite nicely with interesting shifts of focus and use of lighting.
I rather enjoyed this one, and I await its return in the month of Poush!
Love, and deep regards,
Troy David Loy