Rolled Monk

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Multithreading…

In Peeterru!, Singaara Chennai! on May 21, 2011 at 4:39 pm

Hello random reader,

A letter arrived at my house today morning. It was an invitation to one of my relative’s upanayanam. To those of you who haven’t heard the word before, it is the sacred thread ceremony in my community. Now there are two important sacred threads in this country. One, which men contrive not to tie around a woman, that is yellow in colour and the other one which men gather in groups and adorn on other younger men, that is white in colour. This one deals with the latter.

This person to whose upanayanam our august presence with friends and family has been requested is a very distant relative. So distant that a few light-years of travel in our family tree is required to establish the exact relationship between us. You have got to believe me when I say that I tried to write it down and explain. I gave up midway realising the futility of it. The timing of this invitation though couldn’t have been more “what’s-the-word-for-it” precise.

The day 21st of May is of paramount importance to me. It could not have been mere coincidence that the end of the world has been predicted today. In my case though it almost happened exactly seven years back. 21st May 2004 was the day I had my upanayanam and this fact settled it. I had to blog about this.

An upanayanam ceremony holds great significance and to be completely honest I lack the knowledge or the interest to delve into it’s meaning and philosophical implications. To surmise though one could loosely associate it with the Spartan tradition of casting away the young into the wild for training. “The boy returned a man” or something of that kind. While there one has got to brave nature and the obstacles she casts upon your path, here one has to manage thronging relatives and trust me the former is way easier.

The first hurdle…no wait. Let me call it the zeroth hurdle. The zeroth hurdle is the matter of waking up at 3 am. It is a time when even ghosts, murderers, rapists and politicians take rest. The only people awake are drug dealers, beggars, prostitutes and college students living in hostels. The reason for waking up at this unholy hour is because the muhurtham was at around 6 am in the morning and preparations needed to be made. A muhurtham is an auspicious hour of the day and all these auspicious hours invariably occur from 5am to 7am and last only for some 15 minutes. It is like catching a last bus from one place to another.

The first hurdle is the garb thrust on you for the day. It is no dress at all. You are supposed to go topless with a dhoti and a garland, sit on a raised platform with 7-8 such men and be subjected to the gaze of everybody present. I was no Aamir Khan mind you and it was pretty embarrassing. The only fact which gave me solace was that the men sitting around me and chanting hymns were fatter than me. In fact they were fatter than I’ll ever be. But these guys never wear shirts and were used to it. After a while I began to feel extremely self conscious and began speculating that everybody at that time were discussing about me. It was a horrible experience and the next time I am going to do it, it is going to be worse for in all probability, there might be a girl sitting right next to me.

The next hurdle is the fire they have going in front of you. Everything that is done must apparently be done with agni –  the God of fire as witness. What a troublesome witness he was. The smoke entered my eyes, ears, nose and all other possible orifices and I was in tears and coughing like a lung cancer patient. The amount of smoke was unbearable and the amount of ghee they made me add to the fire was even more unbearable. In a recent UN meeting it has been established that these fires, or homams as they are called, are one of the major causes of pollution. The main reason for this is that any occasion which does not require a homam is not an occasion at all or rather every conceivable occasion has one of these fires going on in the middle.

The last task as always is the most difficult. If you have seen Chandramukhi, you will remember that in the flashback, one female will be made to fall at the feet of all the villagers as a punishment for her sins and she dies mid-way due to shame. I too was made to prostrate before everybody present, one by one, and if I had died then, the reason wouldn’t have been shame or anything. These people were blessing me after all! The reason would have been heart failure due to over exertion or something like that. People standing in a line waiting for me to fall at their feet. I had lost about 10 kg at the end of the day and muscles had sprung up all over my body. (Hope this makes the comparison to Sparta a bit more relevant.)

Ultimately though, the thing that pissed me off the most was that when I looked at the photos taken, not a single one was good. All of them portrayed me like an adult-film poster gone bad. And yeah, as far as I am concerned, it was a completely pointless ceremony. “Waste of money and time” as my father keeps saying from time to time.

PS: I know. I feel it too. It’s getting heavily autobigraphical…sigh! Also, the title has got nothing to do with the post. It is just there to show the world that I too am a Computer Science Engineer.

So till I write again…ciao ciao.

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