Tag Archives: life

Revival of our heritage: Lets dream cities !


I am very happy today. Saw a beautiful dream last night, that Gaya has been declared as the “UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Landscape”.  This is fantastic and more so, because of the reasons of selection. If I can remember my dream correctly, here are some of the reasons stated.

01. Gaya, an ancient town in Bihar, is a city “frozen” in time. There is an age old ritual at Gaya, of offering “Pind Daan” has been practiced since thousands of years. This ritual in its core connects the current generation with its old generation or its ancestors.

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 02. The “Andar Gaya” (the old city core) was a medieval town, made in 1663. It was fortified, with moats around and had four entrance gates. As the folklore goes, all the pandas (the Gayawal priest community) came together to stay in this fortified area. Unlike to the contemporary medieval towns like Shahjhanabad, Hyderabad, Bhopal, Ahmedabad, Jaipur etc, Gaya is a Hindu and non- trade based town.

 

03. Most importantly, all the houses in Andar Gaya have a unique housing typology. They all have three floors. The ground floor for ‘Jajman’, the first floor for ‘Mehman’, the second floor for ‘Pakwan’ and the top floor had a toilet (it could have been a later addition). Interestingly, more than 70% percent of the Built fabric and the structures still remain. Every courtyard, every pillar is the same, in this ancient town.

04. Moreover, it may be it is the earliest example of neighborhood planning (in 1663). Entire Andar Gaya has 14 mohallas (neighbourhoods) and 14 baithaks. These baitaks have a rich legacy of Art & Culture. This is a great example of the sociological heritage of the Gayawal panda Community.

05. The ritual is performed on the Vedies, which could be river, trees, streams, rocks etc. Ancient documentation shows there were more than 300 vedies where pind daan was performed. Today only about 15 are known.

Possibly, some day Gaya is declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Landscape. Till then, Lets keep dreaming.

May the dream come true, Amen!

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Assets of Indian Tourism: The Trees of HOPE !


“Soch raha houn, ghar angan me, ek lagaoo Aam ka ped, Khatta Khatta, Mettha Mettha, yaani…. tere naam ka pedh”

(Have been thinking, that in the courtyard of my house, I plant a mango tree, that sweet and sour taste, would symbolize ‘you’)

I heard the lines above, some years back, and somehow it just registered in my mind. What is very interesting is that one is trying to correlate his human relationship, with a Tree! When I turn to the Indian philosophy, I find this relationship with Trees is even more intense and is very spiritual?

The Christmas tree is decorated with fruits, nuts, gifts, ornaments and lights around the world. I could not understand its symbolical value and have some questions. Why does the humanity find HOPE and JOY, in a tree? Is it a way to thank the nature for giving us so much, or is there some deeper meaning in this gesture?

I looked around in my courtyard and found some of the Indian HOPE trees, which are surely the assets of Indian Tourism!

a. The Buddhist tree:The first on the list is the Mahabodhi tree, at Bodhgaya.

 This is the tree where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment. Now, the Tree gets an all together a new supreme dimension. Lord Buddha had many births/ lives in his search of truth of life and amazingly, he could understand ‘enlightenment’ under this Tree. To understand Enlightenment, it’s important to know the Four Noble Truths, which are the foundation of Buddhism. The truths are:

  1. The truth of suffering
  2. The truth of the cause of suffering
  3. The truth of the end of suffering
  4. The truth of the path that frees us from suffering

I am in no capacity, able to address the truths above. But I intend to understand the correlation with the Tree. The very fact, that such a relationship may exist, between enlightenment and the Tree, makes it so important.  

b. The Sufi Tree: One more special tree, I came across is the tree at Matka Pir in New Delhi, near Pragati Maidan.  

Well, Matka pir was a Sufi saint and is today a very popular shrine in Delhi. This  is dedicated to a holy man who answered the prayers of a man and his wife. Now, what should be understand when we see these earthen pots (matkas), filled with dal and jaggery, hung to this Tree of hope? Are these matkas, anything else but Indian hopes and beliefs?

 c. The Hindu trees: Hinduism if I may say, does not tell its meaning directly. Instead, it would make a story around it first. We are expected to search for the moral of the story. There are many close associations with the tree and the Hindu religion. But I would like to choose one ritual of Vat- Savitri puja to understand the relationship. The Hindu women pray to the tree, for the well-being and a longer life of their husbands. One may tie threads or may put some bells, in HOPE, on these trees. This is amazing!

 

 d: The Sikh tree:  Another example of tree representing a larger moral, is the sacred tree in Gurudwara Ber Sahib, Sultanpur Lodhi . It is believed that appreciating the fruit bearing qualities of the tree, Guru Nanak planted the twig near the site of meditation which blossomed into a grand tree and bears fruit even today. It is believed that Guru Nanak Dev gave the message of unity of God, who is beyond the religious divides created by humankind.

What a range of Hope- from enlightenment, to have a baby, to the longer life of one’s husband? I think, these are the Trees of HOPE and BELIEF of Indian culture! Lets take care of them, as they are so symbolic and very very important.