Saturday, September 16, 2006


The pyramids of Egypt, among the largest constructions ever built by man, constitute one of the most potent and enduring symbols of Ancient Egyptian civilization. It is generally accepted by most archaeologists that they were constructed as burial monuments associated with royal solar and stellar cults, and most were built during the Old and Middle Kingdom periods from 2575 B.C. to 1648 B.C.

The Great Pyramid of Cholula, the world's largest monument and largest Pre-Columbian pyramid by volume, is a huge complex located in Cholula, Puebla, Mexico.
Only a fraction of a staircase on one side of the Great Pyramid of Cholula has been restored to its former glory.
The temple-pyramid complex was built over many generations, from the 2nd century BC to the early 16th century, and was dedicated to the deity Quetzalcoatl. It has a base of 450 by 450 m (1476x1476 ft) and a height of 66 m (217 ft). According to the Guinness Book of Records, it is in fact the largest pyramid as well as the largest monument ever constructed anywhere in the world, with a total volume estimated at 4.45 million m³, almost one third larger than that of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. (The Giza pyramid is higher, however.) The Aztecs believed that Xelhua built the Great Pyramid of Cholula.

A ziggurat (Babylonian ziqqurrat, D-Stem of zaqāru "to build on a raised area") is a temple tower of the ancient Mesopotamian valley and Iran, having the form of a terraced pyramid of successively receding stories. Ziggurats were a form of temple tower common to the Sumerians, Babylonians and Assyrians of ancient Mesopotamia. The earliest examples of the ziggurat were simple raised platforms that date from the Ubaid period during the fourth millennium BCE and the latest date from the 6th century BCE. The step pyramid style began near the end of the Early Dynastic Period. Built in receding tiers upon a rectangular, oval, or square platform, the ziggurat was a pyramidal structure. Sun-baked bricks made up the core of the ziggurat with facings of fired bricks on the outside. The facings were often glazed in different colors and may have had astrological significance. The number of tiers ranged from two to seven, with a shrine or temple at the summit. Access to the shrine was provided by a series of ramps on one side of the ziggurat or by a spiral ramp from base to summit. Notable examples of this structure include the Great Ziggurat of Ur and Khorsabad in Mesopotamia.

The Mesopotamian ziggurats were not places for public worship or ceremonies. They were believed to be dwelling places for the gods. Through the ziggurat the gods could be close to mankind and each city had its own patron god. Only priests were permitted on the ziggurat or in the rooms at its base and it was their responsibility to care for the gods and attend to their needs. As a result the priests were very powerful members of Sumerian society.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Fire Walking in different parts of the World.

Fire-walking is the act of walking barefoot over a bed of hot coals.

Fire-walking is practiced

  • by fakirs and similar persons,
  • by Eastern Orthodox Christians in parts of and Bulgaria during some popular religious feasts (see nestinarstvo).
  • !Kung Bushmen of the African Kalahari desert have firewalked since their tribal beginnings. The !Kung use fire in their powerful healing ceremonies.
  • by Japanese Taoists and Buddhists
  • as a rite of purification, healing, initiation and transcendence, which have been threads in the cultural tapestry of our planet.

Organizers of firewalking ceremonies sometimes claim that in order to prevent one's feet from burning, meditation, calling on spirits/gods or other supernatural intervention is necessary.

The oldest recorded firewalk occurred over 4,000 years ago in India. Two Brahmin priests were competing to see who could walk farther over hot coals. The victor's triumph was recorded in writing surviving to this day. In a 17th century letter, Father Le Jeune, a Jesuit priest, wrote to his superior, telling of a healing firewalk he witnessed among the North American Indians. He reports of a sick woman walking through two or three hundred fires with bare legs and feet, not only without burning, but all the while commenting on that she could feel no uncomfortable heat. Some 30 years later, Father Marquette reported similar firewalks among the Ottawa Indians and Jonathan Carver writes in his 1802 book, Travels in North America that one of the most astounding sights he saw was the parade of warriors who would "walk naked through a fire...with apparent immunity."

The Science behind FireWalking

David Willey is a physics instructor and an expert on the science of fire walking at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania. He said people are able to walk across a bed of burning coals because "wood is a lousy conductor."

"There're three ways heat can get transmitted: conduction, convection, and radiation," he said.

Conduction is the transfer of heat from one substance to another via direct contact. In convection heat is transferred through air or fluid circulation. In radiation it is transmitted as if spreading out in straight lines from a central source (think of the sun or a heat lamp).

Conduction is the main way heat is transmitted to a person's feet during a fire walk.

In fire walking, a person's feet, which Willey said are also poor conductors, touch ash-covered coals.

Since the fire walker is indeed walking, the time of contact between feet and coals is minimal—too quick for the coals to burn or char the feet, Willey said.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Ganesha : The recurring leitmotif of Asia.

Ganesha : The recurring leitmotif of Asia.

Ganesha the elephant god worshipped as the removal of obstacles in India by hindus, muslims parsis and christians, on the 20,000 Rupiah note of Indonesia which just happens to be the worlds largest muslim country.

Ganesh worshipped as Kangiten in Japan.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Similar Symbolsof the Main Religions.

Similar Symbols of the Main Religions.

The Christian cross made up of two elements : the long vertical and the short horizontal.
The Islamic Crescent and star also made of two elements.
The Hindu swastika made of equal sized elements intersecting.
The Yin-Yang made of two equal elements embracing each other.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Similar Mythology.

The legends of Moses and Karna.


In the Exodus account, the birth of Moses occurred at a time when the current Egyptian Pharaoh had commanded that all male children born to Hebrew slaves should be killed by drowning in the Nile. The Torah leaves the identity of this Pharaoh unstated. But he is believed by some to be Thutmose III. Other, earlier pharaohs have also been suggested including a Hyksos pharaoh or one shortly after the Hyksos had been expelled. Apepi II is one such example.

Jochebed,the wife of the Levite Amram, bore a son, and kept him concealed for three months. When she could keep him hidden no longer, rather than deliver him to be killed, she set him adrift on the Nile river in a small craft of bulrushes coated in pitch. The daughter of Pharaoh discovered the baby and adopted him as her son, and named him "Moses" (considered to mean "to draw out"). By Biblical account, Moses' sister Miriam observed the progress of the tiny boat. Miriam then asked Pharaoh's daughter if she would like a Hebrew woman to nurse the baby. Thereafter, Jochebed was employed as the child's nurse, and he grew and was brought to Pharaoh's daughter and became her son.


The princess Kunti, while young looked after the sage Durvasa for a full year. The sage was pleased with her service and so he granted her a boon whereby she could call upon any of the gods through a mantra and the god would grant her a son equal to the god in splendour. Unsure of whether the boon would actually be granted, Kunti, while still an unmarried young girl, decided to test the mantra and called upon Lord Surya, the Hindu deity of the sun. When Surya appeared before her, she was completely overawed. Bound by the power of the mantra, Surya granted her a son as radiant and strong as his father, although she did not want a child. Through his divine power, Kunti retains her virginity and honor. But that son of the Sun was Karna, born with divine armour and earrings that would ensure his protection.

Kunti was now in the embarrassing position of being an unwed mother. Although still a virgin, how was she to explain having a child? Unable to face the world with her divine child, she placed Karna in a basket and floated him down a river with his jewellery (the story of Moses bears a strong similarity to this), praying fervently that he would be kept safe.

The Flood Legend

In the traditions of most ancient civilizations there can be found a legend concerning a flood of such enormous proportions that it is believed to have covered the whole Earth. Such was the destructive force of this flood that few land animals and plants survived it. For readers in Western society the most famous version is the story of Noah and the Ark as recounted in Genesis, the first book of the Bible. Although it may be the best known, the account of Noah's adventure is neither the only nor the oldest such legend.

Legends of a flood can be found in the folklore of such diverse places as the Middle East, India, China, Australia, southern Asia, the islands of the Pacific, Europe, and the Americas. But the best-known flood legend--that on which the story of Noah is based--had its origins among the peoples of ancient Mesopotamia in the Tigris-Euphrates river valley.

Excavations in Mesopotamia have led archaeologists and other scientists to conclude that a number of serious floods occurred there between 4000 and 2000 BC. It is possible that one of these floods was so destructive that it made a lasting impression on the population and became a subject for the ancient literature of the period.

In a fully developed form, the Mesopotamian flood myth appeared in the 'Epic of Gilgamesh', one of the first literary masterpieces, which relates the adventures of a hero-king of Sumer. The earliest versions of the epic derive from the first part of the 2nd millennium BC. The story of the flood is told to Gilgamesh by Utnapishtim, the counterpart of Noah in the story. Advised by the god Ea that his city is to be destroyed by flood, Utnapishtim is told to build a ship for his family, servants, and animals. After a seven-day flood, the vessel comes to rest on a mountaintop. The wrath of the gods has been appeased, and Utnapishtim and his wife are granted immortality.

Parallel legends were told in other parts of the Middle East at an early date. The Mesopotamian version was probably brought to Canaan, the land where the Israelites settled, by the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The tale was reshaped by later Hebrew writers into a narrative about God and his purposes for mankind. In this version it is the whole Earth that is to be flooded. Only Noah, his family, and the animals he collects are to be saved. The flooding lasts 40 days, and afterward Noah's Ark settles on top of a mountain.

In Greek mythology the flood was first mentioned by the poet Pindar in the 5th century BC. In this legend Zeus has decided to destroy the Earth. Only King Deucalion and his family are saved by taking refuge in an ark well stocked with provisions.

Religious texts from the 6th century BC in India tell the story of Manu, meaning "man," who is warned by a fish about a coming flood. In the legend Manu builds a boat and saves himself.

In China the flood myth had a different emphasis from the legends told in the West. The flooding of the land from time immemorial was seen as a hindrance to agriculture. The floodwaters were made to recede through the labors of a savior-hero named Yu the Great, who successfully dredged the land to provide outlets to the sea for the water. Thus was the great central river valley of China made suitable for agriculture and the development of civilization.

In the traditions of most ancient civilizations there can be found a legend concerning a flood of such enormous proportions that it is believed to have covered the whole Earth. Such was the destructive force of this flood that few land animals and plants survived it. For readers in Western society the most famous version is the story of Noah and the Ark as recounted in Genesis, the first book of the Bible. Although it may be the best known, the account of Noah's adventure is neither the only nor the oldest such legend.

Legends of a flood can be found in the folklore of such diverse places as the Middle East, India, China, Australia, southern Asia, the islands of the Pacific, Europe, and the Americas. But the best-known flood legend--that on which the story of Noah is based--had its origins among the peoples of ancient Mesopotamia in the Tigris-Euphrates river valley.

Excavations in Mesopotamia have led archaeologists and other scientists to conclude that a number of serious floods occurred there between 4000 and 2000 BC. It is possible that one of these floods was so destructive that it made a lasting impression on the population and became a subject for the ancient literature of the period.

In a fully developed form, the Mesopotamian flood myth appeared in the 'Epic of Gilgamesh', one of the first literary masterpieces, which relates the adventures of a hero-king of Sumer. The earliest versions of the epic derive from the first part of the 2nd millennium BC. The story of the flood is told to Gilgamesh by Utnapishtim, the counterpart of Noah in the story. Advised by the god Ea that his city is to be destroyed by flood, Utnapishtim is told to build a ship for his family, servants, and animals. After a seven-day flood, the vessel comes to rest on a mountaintop. The wrath of the gods has been appeased, and Utnapishtim and his wife are granted immortality.

Parallel legends were told in other parts of the Middle East at an early date. The Mesopotamian version was probably brought to Canaan, the land where the Israelites settled, by the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The tale was reshaped by later Hebrew writers into a narrative about God and his purposes for mankind. In this version it is the whole Earth that is to be flooded. Only Noah, his family, and the animals he collects are to be saved. The flooding lasts 40 days, and afterward Noah's Ark settles on top of a mountain.

In Greek mythology the flood was first mentioned by the poet Pindar in the 5th century BC. In this legend Zeus has decided to destroy the Earth. Only King Deucalion and his family are saved by taking refuge in an ark well stocked with provisions.

Religious texts from the 6th century BC in India tell the story of Manu, meaning "man," who is warned by a fish about a coming flood. In the legend Manu builds a boat and saves himself.

In China the flood myth had a different emphasis from the legends told in the West. The flooding of the land from time immemorial was seen as a hindrance to agriculture. The floodwaters were made to recede through the labors of a savior-hero named Yu the Great, who successfully dredged the land to provide outlets to the sea for the water. Thus was the great central river valley of China made suitable for agriculture and the development of civilization.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Effigy Burning.

Effigy Burning.

Effigy burning is common the world over. People burn effigies during protest marches or festivals or to celebrate the ending of the old year and the beggining of the new one. There are two main festivals where effigies are burnt. One is The Burning Man festival in Nevada. The other is the Ramayana festival in India where the effigy of the demon king Ravana is burnt. Is it any coincidence that both take place in the last quarter of the year?

The Burning Man.

Burning Man is a week-long festival with international draw. It is held annually, ending Labor Day weekend in early September, on the playa of the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, at 40°45′17″N, 119°14′11″W or 90 miles (150 km) north-northeast of Reno. The temporary city (housing 36,500 residents in 2005) is put forth as an experiment in community, radical self expression, and radical self reliance. The culmination of the event is the burning of a large wooden sculpture of a man on Saturday night, the sixth night of the event.


This day marks the triumph of Lord Rama over Demon king Ravana. On this day, Rama killed Ravana.

Rama was asked to go on exile because his stepmother, Queen Kaikeyee was tricked into asking King Dasaratha to exile him for 14 years. Rama's wife Sita, and his brother Lakshmana went with him willingly.

News of Rama staying at an ashmram while on exile spread rapidly. A demon, Shoorpanakha found her way there and demanded that Rama or Lakshmana marry her. When both brothers rejected her, she threatened to kill Sita, so that Rama would then be single again. Lakshmana then cut off her ears and nose.

Shoorpanakha's brother was the demon King . Ravana was incensed to hear what happened to his sister, and kidnapped Sita to avenge the insult.

The Ramayana chronicles Rama's travels and deeds as he searched for his wife, and defeated evil.

On this day, people spend the day decorating the entrances of houses & shops with flower studded strings called 'Torans' (Floral Gateways).

At night, effigies of , Kumbhakaran and Meghanad are stuffed with firecrackers and set alight. Children especially enjoy seeing this because of the beautiful fireworks on the ground. The festival, which is thought of as the "Victory of Good over Evil" and "Return of Rama from Exile" is celebrated in grand style. Because the day is auspicious, people inaugurate new vehicles, machines, books, weapons and tools by ceremonially asking god to bless the new items.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Everyone loves Processions.

Feast of the Madonna of the Letter

The Feast of the Madonna of the Letter is a spectacular civic and religious procession, steeped in folklore and much loved by the locals, that takes place in Palmi on the last Sunday of August.
Preparations for this feast day, the town's most important popular religious celebration, begin two weeks in advance, around the feast day of San Rocco, the "co-patron" of the city. There are special masses, folkloric processions and performances of various kinds.

On the morning of the day itself there are several processions, including the spectacular ride of the Giganti, before the parade proper begins in the early afternoon, heralded by a cannon shot from the local fort.

The main procession is momentous. An enormous cart, 16 metres in height, represents the Ascension of the Virgin to Heaven. On the first level of the cart, the base or Cippu, which represents both the earth and the civil liberties of Palmese citizens, you'll find the apostles, some angels, a priest and a cleric, several young men and the empty seat of the Madonna.

On the levels above this you'll see more angels, clad in beautiful robes and vestments; two huge rotating discs, one golden and the other made of silver, adorned with flower garlands, representing the sun and the moon. Even higher hangs an azure globe representing the Earth, on which is seated the Padreterno, God, and above the Earth, virtually suspended in the void and surrounded by 12 stars, hangs the Animella, the young woman who represents the Madonna.

The celebration is also a bit of a beauty pageant. Every year the nubile young women of the city compete for the title of Animella (little soul) and the honour of representing the living Madonna on the cart as it is pulled through the city. A handsome young man is also chosen to represent God: a set-up which would have medieval theologians dying of heresy or embarrassment, but which makes for an entertaining spectacle.

The legend of the Madonna of the Letter tells how emissaries from the Italian city of Messina arrived in Jerusalem to pay homage to the Virgin Mary after Messina was converted by Saint Paul. The Virgin entrusted them with a letter written in her own hand to take home. Feeling especially blessed by this, the Messinians later incorporated this letter into their religious conception of the Virgin.

Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the most popular and joyous of Hindu festivals, the birthday of Lord Ganesha. It is the day most sacred to Ganesha, falling on the 4th day of the bright fortnight of Bhadrapada (August-September)and is observed throughout India, as well as by devout Hindus everywhere.

The festival is celebrated with much enthusiasm and devotion - in some places for ten days. It's said that Ganesh was the creation of Goddess Parvati, who breathed life into a doll which she made out of the dough she was using for her bath so it’s customary for clay figures of the Deity to be made and later thrown into water.

Large Ganesh idols are decorated with flowers, pearls, almonds, cashew nuts, raisins.and coins.These colourful idols are installed atop flower bedecked trucks, tractors, vans, bullock carts and rickshaws while worshippers wearing saffron caps accompany the procession and sprinkle the pink powder -Gulal - while dancing to the tune of drums. Chanting fills the air.

Lord Ganesha is the elephant-headed God who rides on a mouse.

Riding on a mouse, one of nature's smallest creatures and having the head of an elephant, the biggest of all animals, denotes that Ganesha is the creator of all creatures. Elephants are very wise animals; this indicates that Lord Ganesha is an embodiment of wisdom. It also denotes the process of evolution--the mouse gradually evolves into an elephant and finally becomes a man.

This is why Ganesha is portrayed with a human body, an elephant's head and a mouse as a vehicle.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Microcosmos and Macrocosmos Compared.

"Brains are gorgeous at the right magnification", says Mark Miller on his "neuro" set of photos in flickr. Self-described as an intracellular recording artist, Miller in this set shows 17 striking images of a mouse's neuronal network.

Covering different areas of the brain such as the cingulated cortex or motor cortex, the images are quite impressive, particularly since the neurons connecting in the brain resemble the large-scale structure of the universe.

The Virgo consortium, an international group of astrophysicists from the UK, Germany, Japan, Canada and the USA released in June 02, 2005 the first results from the largest and most realistic simulation ever of the growth of cosmic structure and the formation of galaxies and quasars. In a paper published in Nature, the Virgo Consortium showed how comparing such simulated data to large observational surveys can reveal the physical processes underlying the build-up of real galaxies and black holes.

The Macrocosmos is made up of multiple microcosmii. Is it any wonder then that both are similar, just like cubic bricks make up cubic houses?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Statues drinking milk and weeping tears and blood!

Italy 1485

The painting of religious portraits on the outside walls of homes, especially thoses of stucco, was custonary durning the fifteenth centery as it is today in many Eurpope cities. In Trevi this artwork was assigned to students of a nearby school conducted by Pietro Vannucci, a master painter.

The moddest home of Diotallevi d'Antonio Santilli, locatated on the road between Spopeto and Trevi, wad similarly decorated when a portrait of the Madonna was painted on the outside wall on October 4, 1483 the feastday of St. Francis of Assisi.

The miracle of the tears took place two years later, on Auguest 5, 1485. On that day a passerby nticed moisture on the wall and discovered that it originated from the eyes of the Madonna. These were no ordinary tears, but those of blood. One can only imagine the excitement this event created. Neighbors flocked to the house to see the prodigious occurrences of blody tears falling from the eyes of a Madonna painted on a stucco wall. new spread quickly to people in nearby villages: they likewise hurried to the house to see the miracle of the bloody tears. Disbelivers and skeptics came and were convinced. Many of thehese doubters and others recieved spirtiual graces and miracles of healing.

A notary of Trevi was alerted and he, too, rushed to the scene. He described the prodigy in writing and recounted all the miracles that he witnessed. His document, as well as other official records that were made by the municipal authorities, can be found in the archives of the City of Trevi.

Also preserved is another contemporary account of the miracle and the origin of the shrine. This was written by Fr. Francesco Mugnoni, an Olivetan, who resided a short distance from the house of the miracle.

The reason for the tears was a matter of great concern and speculation until it was finally decided that they represented the sympathy of the Madonna for the pestilence which for years had tormented the territory around the city of Trevi.

On August 21, 1485 one week after the start of the miracle, the first Holy Mass was offered in the small chapel that had been hastily erected near the wall of the Madonna. Permission was soon received for a daily Mass to be offered in this little improvised chapel. Because space was inadequate from the start, plans were soon made to replace the chapel with a magnificent building worthy of the Mother of God. Monies were collected, and work was begun on March 27, 1487.

The community entrusted the building to Antonio Marchisi of Settignano. The magnificent portal and stonework were designed and executed by John di Giampietro of Venice. The interior was beautified with the paintings of pietro Vannucci, who conducted the school of art in Trevi. The sculptures are credited to Giovanni of Carrara.

When the church was completed, the portion of the wall that was covered with the portrait of the Madonna was cut from the wall of the house and removed to the church, where it now receives the admiration and attention of the Madonna's devotees.Soon a house for religious was built near the church. First entrusted to the Olivetans, it was later occupied in turn by various religious orders.

Always regarded as the patroness of the city, the Madonna of the Tears was officially designated as such on July 26, 1846.The shrine has been enriched with many ex-votos which signify the numerous benefits conferred upon the people of the city and visiting pilgrims through the intercession of the Madonna of the Tears. One of the most outstanding of these tributes is a relief in silver depicting the City of Terni, which was presented in thanksgiving for the deliverance of that city from the plague.

The feast of the Madonna is celebrated on the Sunday after Easter.

Australia 2003

Oily tears began flowing from the fibreglass statue last year on March 19 - the feast of St Joseph - and again over the four days of Easter. The rose-scented tears then seeped continually from August 14 - the feast of the Assumption of Our Lady into Heaven - but stopped on January 10.

The statue was placed in the parish church at Rockingham, where it attracted more than 2000 worshippers every weekend. Many came from interstate and overseas and, according to the archdiocese's director of communication, Hugh Ryan, "there were stories about people being cured or helped", including one case of cancer. However, these claims have not been investigated.

After various scientific tests found no apparent cause for the tears, the Archbishop of Perth, Barry Hickey, said in November that an independent panel would investigate. The panel, comprising a non-Catholic microbiologist, a Catholic surgeon and a Catholic academic, arranged tests before Christmas.

Their report is ready, but Mr Ryan was not sure last night whether the archbishop had received it.

Earlier, a Perth television program commissioned tests at two Perth universities, which could not uncover human agency but could not disprove it either.

The 70-centimetre statue was bought in Bangkok eight years ago by Patty Powell of Rockingham, who has denied causing the tears. She declined to comment yesterday.

India 1995

Bombay, like several other parts of the country, was today swept by rumours that idols of the god Ganesh were accepting offerings of milk.

Thousands of devotees of the elephant god who visited temples for the morning pooja claimed that the deity actually drank the milk offered to it. However, not all idols were said to have obliged.

The word spread like wildfire as excited people thronged temples to witness the miracle. Some were overwhelmed with emotion, others dismissed it as a hoax.

Prominent astrologer and Ganesh devotee Jayant Salgaonkar said: "I myself witnessed it. I went early this morning to the Siddhivinayak temple at Prabhadevi, Ganeshji drank the milk."

Scientists at the Indian Institute of Technology and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research refused to comment on "such religious matters." On the other hand, a leading rationalist in Calcutta, Prabir Ghosh, called it absurd. "I can prove that it is no miracle".

Miracle or not, there were long serpentine queues outside temples in Calcutta, Delhi, Madras and Ahmedabad, leading to traffic bottlenecks at several places.

Said a senior government official of West Bengal: "I have been trying to get through to Writer's Building for three hours. But the mass frenzy over Ganesh remains unabated."

Chaos prevailed in Delhi's temples and out on the streets as devotees jostled one another to offer milk to Ganesh, Parvati and Shiva. Some even claimed that the idols drank a bucketful of milk.

In Madras, devotees who patiently held sweetened milk in silver spoons at the trunk of the god, said that the milk disappeared within minutes. Ms Shalini Binani, 16, who said that she had heard about the incidents from an aunt in Calcutta, tried about the incidents from an aunt in Calcutta, tried offering milk in a stainless steel spoon, but the idol did not respond. However, she claimed, when the milk was offered in a silver spoon, it was accepted.

By noon, newspaper offices in Bombay were flooded with calls inquiring about the veracity of the claims. Other callers narrated their "experiences" in temples or at home.

"I was performing a Ganesh pooja early this morning," said Mr Ravindra Mahadeo Rahate, an employee of the Bank of India. "Suddenly I realised that the milk I had offered was disappearing slowly." Surprised by this development, Mr Rahate offered the deity some more milk. "That too disappeared," he claimed.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Who am I?.......Similar names of God!

I am that I am

I am that I am (Hebrew: אהיה אשר אהיה, pronounced Ehyeh asher ehyeh) is one English translation of the response God used in the Bible when Moses asked for his name (Exodus 3:14). It is one of the most famous verses in the Old Testament. Hayah means "existed" or "was" in Hebrew; "ehyeh" is the first person singular present/future form. Ehyeh asher ehyeh is generally interpreted to mean I am that I am (King James Bible and others), yet, as indicated, is most literally translated as "I-shall-be who I-shall-be."

The word Ehyeh is used a total of 43 places in the Old Testament, where it is usually translated as "I will be" -- as is the case for its first occurrence, in Exodus 3:12 -- or "I shall be," as is the case for its final occurrence in Zechariah 8:8. Some scholars state the Tetragrammaton itself derives from the same verbal root, but others counter that it may simply sound similar as intended by God, such as Psalm 119 and the Hebrew words "shoqed" (almond branch) and "shaqed" (watching) found in Jeremiah 1:11-12.

Soham (Sanskrit)

Soham is a Sanskrit word which means I am Him (Him refers to the omniscient Almighty). All the living beings on this earth are said to be producing this sound of So and Ham while inhalation and the exhalation. The word thus claims that all living beings re-proclaim the fact every moment that they are God. It is said by the Hindu saints and gurus, that one can attain moksha, or mukti or Liberation, from the cycle of life and death by concentrating on the breath and mentally saying the word "so" when you inhale and the word "ham" (pronounced hum) when you exhale. By doing so, all evil is destroyed and one is believed to reach the position of ultimate power and a position equivalent to Gurus and Gods as per Hinduism.

Soham is the combination of two words viz. SAH +AHAM. According to the rules of the Sanskrit grammar Sah + Aham becomes Soham. It is the principle of joining of consonant with vowel to form a VARNA/an alphabet. Sandhi means the joining of two words, under the grammatical rules of the 'Sandhi' in the Sanskrit language. The joining of Sah + Aham is governed by the principle of Visarga Sandhi. What is Visarga in Sanskrit language? It is Nirvana or final liberation/ beatitude. It is represented by two dots, written as ":" to represent Jivatman/ individual soul and Paramatman/ Absolute. The word Sah means some person different from the first person and second person. The word First person is Aham, which in Sanskrit means "I am", or "I exist". When this "I" merges with "That", the ego of the "I" identity merges with THAT, who is Ishwara of the Vedas, Brahman of the Upanishads, Bhagawana of the Puranas.

SA in Sanskrit is the combination of the lifeless consonant S with vowel A – with the meaning of Prana/vital force. Also SA is VISHNU and SHIVA according to the Vedic Nirukta. The Sandhi or + sign means Yoga or self realization.

The meaning of the phrase might be explaied as follows: "I" am obviously not this body because the physical constituents of the body are changing every moment. Ultimately, the body dies. Atman/soul/self never dies. It is "That". "That" is Absolute Reality. It is the witness of all, what the mind does through the body. This self is always on the path of progression, which according to the Shaivistic thought is Chaitanya or consciousness. The Shiva Sutra speaks of ‘Chaitanyam – Atma’. We need to realize that Aham/ myself, which is Sah/ That self. This is called the spiritual awareness.

Tat Tvam Asi
sentence, translating variously to "Thou art that", "That thou art", or "You are that", is one of the four Mahāvākyas (Grand Pronouncements) in Hinduism. It originally occurs in the Chandogya Upanishad. It first occurs in Chandogya 6.8.7, in the dialogue between Uddālaka and his son Śvetaketu; it appears at the end of a section, and is repeated at the end of the subsequent sections as a refrain. It is generally taken to mean that your soul or consciousness is wholly or partially the Ultimate Reality. That is to say, even before the creation of the universe, a unitary, divine consciousness existed, and that this consciousness is identical to your deepest self.

Cogito ergo sum
"Cogito, ergo sum" (Latin: "I am thinking, therefore I exist", or traditionally "I think, therefore I am") is a statement by René Descartes, which became a foundational element of Western rationalism. "Cogito ergo sum" is a translation of Descartes' original French statement: "Je pense, donc je suis", which occurs in his Discourse on Method (1637). Although the idea expressed in "cogito ergo sum" is widely attributed to Descartes, many predecessors offer similar arguments —particularly Augustine of Hippo in De Civitate Dei (books XI, 26), who also anticipates modern refutations of the concept.

Fire Worship

Homa, the fire offering. Homa is more ancient than puja. It comes from Vedic times when fire was the main resource used in life. Each house was built around a central fire. Each community had its central or communal fire.

Fire is the Divine presence, the presence of light in the material world. No better symbol for the Divine can be found.

The spirit is hidden in all material things the way fire is latent in wood. Hence fire is our most convenient symbol of the Divine and our aspiration towards it.

In the homa ceremony we offer our thoughts and emotions to the Divine


Fire Temple (also Dar-e Mihr or Atash Kadeh in Iran, Agiary in India, Atəşgah in Azerbaijani, and various names in North America) is a place of worship for Zoroastrians. It is typically a building with a hall and various rooms or chambers, the most holy of which houses a sacred fire, which laymen make offerings to and priests perform rituals before. In Zoroastrianism, fire is revered as the son of Ahura Mazda, and represented by the Amesha Spenta Asha Vahishta, or "Best Righteousness." There are three grades of fires: the Atash Dadgah, Atash Adaran, and Atash Behram, sometimes called a "Fire Cathedral".


The Sacred fire of Vesta, the Roman goddess of the hearth and goddess of fire, was an eternal flame which burned within the Temple of Vesta on the Roman Forum. According to Dionysius of Halicarnassus, the Romans believed that the fire was closely tied to the fortunes of the city and viewed its extinction as a portent of disaster.

The practice of keeping a fire always burning was not limited to religious ritual: for the Romans, maintaining a constant fire was often easier than relighting one regularly. The worship of Vesta grew out of this practice; the position of the Vestal Virgins, who tended the sacred fire, was originally held by the Roman king's daughters, who, like other young Roman girls, were responsible for tending the house's fire. The fire in the temple of Vesta, who was herself always personified as living flame (Ovid, Fasti, vi), was thus the hearth fire of the city. As the extinction of a hearth fire was a misfortune for a family, so the extinction of Vesta's flame was thought to portend national disaster for Rome—which explains the severe punishment (usually death) of Vestals who allowed the fire to go out.

The Vestal Virgins (they originally numbered two, but were later increased to four and eventually six) were selected by lot and served for thirty years, tending the holy fire and performing other rituals connected to domestic life—among them were the ritual sweeping of the temple on June 15 and the preparation of foods for certain festivals. By analogy, they also tended the life and soul of the city and of the body politic through the sacred fire of Vesta, which was renewed every year on the Kalends of March.

The sacred fire burned in Vesta's circular temple, which was built in pre-republican times, in the Roman Forum below the Aventine Hill. Other sacred objects were stored within the temple, including the Palladium (a statue of Pallas Athena) supposed to have been brought by Aeneas from Troy. The temple burned completely on at least four occasions and caught fire on two others. The current temple (somewhat restored in the 20th century) dates from 191 AD, when Julia Domna, wife of the emperor Septimius Severus, ordered a thorough rebuilding. The rites of Vesta ended in 394, when the fire was extinguished and the Vestal Virgins disbanded by order of Theodosius

Shaving the head.


Mundan (the first hair cut): This sanskara is performed typically during the first or third year of age when the child’s original, first hair growth is shaved, frequently leaving only the shikha on the top/in the back. According to the sages, the hair from birth is associated with undesirable traits from past lives. Thus at the time of the mundan, the child is freshly shaven to signify freedom from the past and moving into It is also said that the shaving of the hair stimulates proper growth of the brain and nerves.

The chudakarana sanskara is also said to bring long life to the recipient and it is performed as a special ceremony in most homes, particularly for young boys.

On the banks of Mother Ganga, in Rishikesh we have a special chadakarana sanskara/mundan ceremony. In this ceremony, the special Vedic mantras and prayers are chanted by trained priests, acharyas and rishikumars. The young child is shaven clean on the banks of Mother Ganga and the hair is then symbolically offered to Mother Ganga. The child and his/her family then perform a sacred yagna ceremony and the divine Ganga Aarti.


Tonsure is the practice of some Christian churches and Hindu temples of cutting the hair from the scalp of clerics as a symbol of their renunciation of worldly fashion and esteem. There were three forms of tonsure known in the seventh and eighth centuries:

(1) The Oriental, which claimed the authority of St. Paul and consisted of shaving the whole head. This was observed by churches owing allegiance to Eastern Orthodoxy. Hence Theodore of Tarsus, who had acquired his learning in Byzantine Asia Minor and bore this tonsure, had to allow his hair to grow for four months before he could be tonsured after the Roman fashion, and then ordained Archbishop of Canterbury by Pope Vitalian in 668.

(2) The Celtic, which consisted of shaving the whole front of the head from ear to ear, the hair being allowed to hang down behind. An alternate explanation (apparently first described in the modern day in the article On The Shape Of The Insular Tonsure) describes the "delta" tonsure cut as a triangle with the apex at the forehead, and the base from ear to ear at the back of the head. The Roman party in Britain attributed the origin of the Celtic tonsure to Simon Magus, though some traced it back to the swineherd of Lóegaire mac Néill, the Irish king who opposed St. Patrick; this latter view is refuted by the fact that it was common to all of the Celts, both insular and continental. Some practitioners of Celtic Christianity claimed the authority of St. John for this, as for their Easter practices. It is entirely plausible that the Celts were merely observing an older practice which had become obsolete elsewhere.

(3) The Roman: this consisted of shaving only the top of the head, so as to allowRoman tonsure the hair to grow in the form of a crown. This is claimed to have originated with St. Peter, and was the practice of the Catholic church until obligatory tonsure was abolished in 1972.

Saying Grace.

Many households observe the tradition of pausing before a meal to give thanks for the food and other good things in their lives and on their tables. When entertaining, unless your religion has a specific guideline, you can be creative in deciding how grace will be said.

* One person - host, guest, or clergy - can say grace aloud for the group.
* The group can say grace together - you might prepare copies of the prayer for each table in advance.
* The children can say grace for the group.
* Everyone can hold hands seated or standing around the table.
* Each person can be given the opportunity to give thanks for something special.

Saying Grace in different religions :

Native American

Creator, Earth Mother,
we thank you for our lives and
this beautiful day. Thank You for the bright sun
and the rain we received last night.
Thank You for this circle of friends
and the opportunity to be together.
We want to thank You especially at this time
for the giveaway of their lives made by the
chickens, beets, carrots, grains and lettuce.
We thank them for giving of their lives
so we may continue our lives through this
great blessing.Please help us honor them
through how we live our lives.


(serving the food)

In this food I see clearly
the presence of the entire universe
supporting my existence.

(looking at the plate of food)

All living beings are struggling
for life.May they all have enough food
to eat today.

(just before eating)

The plate is filled with food.
I am aware that each morsel
is the fruit
of much hard work
by those who produced it.

(beginning to eat)

With the first taste, I promise
to practice loving kindness.
With the second, I promise
to relieve the suffering of others.
With the third,
I promise to see others' joy as my own.
With the fourth,
I promise to learn the way of nonattachment and equanimity.


(after the meal)

The plate is empty.
My hunger is satisfied.
I vow to live for the benefit
of all living beings.


Affirmation to my Body

I recognize you are the temple
in which my spirit and creative energy
I have created you from my need
to have my spirit manifested on earth
so that I may have this time to learn
and grow.
I offer you this food so that you may continue
to sustain my creative energy, my spirit,
my soul.
I offer this food to you with love,
and a sincere desire for you to remain free
from disease and

I accept you as my own creation.

I need you.

I love you.


In the name of
the compassionate
and beneficent God


Blessed art Thou, O Lord our G-d,
King of the Universe,
Who creates many living
beings and the things they
need.For all that Thou hast
created to sustain
the life of every living
being, blessed be Thou,
the Life of the universe.

Christian (Gaelic)

God to enfold me,
God to surround me,
God in my speaking,
God in my thinking,
God in my sleeping,
God in my waking,
God in my watching,
God in my hoping,
God in my life,
God in my lips,
God in my soul,
God in my heart.
God in my sufficing,
God in my slumber,
God in my mine ever-lasting soul,
God in mine serenity.

Throwing Colors/Tomatoes on each other.

La Tomatina Festival - Spain.

Although the Tomato Festival in Bunol, Valencia has no religious connections and was only started in 1945 this festival along with the Pamplona Bull Run is one of Spains most famous and well known festival.

The Festival La Tomatina is one huge tomato fight and each year around 30,000 people turn up to take part.

The festival starts early in the morning when everyone turns up and dines on a breakfast of Chorizo and Rose wine.

By 11am in the morning everyones inhibitions are loosened and five huge tomato filled rockets are sent into the skies above the town.

From this point it is every man, woman and child for themselves as the event turns into a tomato slinging war. Everyone is supposed to adhere to a small number of rules: You must squash the tomato before throwing it and you are not allowed to throw anything other than tomatoes.

Each year the Tomatoes throwing Festival last fro around two hours and in total some 125,000 kilos of tomatoes are squashed and thrown.

The festival also brings out a good community spirit where everyone involves helps out with the cleaning up and hosing down.

You can easily get to Bunol by flying into Valencia Airport. If you are flying to Valencia from the UK then you can find well priced flights and deals through Easyjet.

La Tomatina Festival, The Tomato throwing Festival, is held on the last Saturday of August every year and has been a regular event since 1945.

Rangpanchami or Festival of Colors. - India.

Colours will fill the atmosphere as people throw abeer and gulal in the air showing great joy and mirth in the arrival of this Spring Festival.
Holi marks the end of the winter gloom and rejoices in the bloom of the spring time. It is the best time and season to celebrate; Holi provides this opportunity and people take every advantage of it.

Days before Holi, the markets get flooded with the colours of every hues. This aptly sets the mood of the people till the actual day of Holi. It is such a colourful and joyous sight to watch huge piles of bright red, magenta, pink, green and blue every where on the streets. Buying those colours seems as you are bringing joys and colour to your home and into your life.

Children take special delight in the festival and demand every colour in loads. They have so many plans in their mind. They have to be the first to apply colour to Mama, Papa, siblings and a big bunch of friends in their colony. Nobody could miss being coloured by them and of course, they need colour for that.

These days it is easy to buy colours from the market but still some people do take up the task of making colours at home, usually from flowers of tesu and palash. These home made colours, have a special fragrance of love in them.

The other option is to buy gulal which comes in bright shades of pink, magenta, red, yellow and green. 'Abeer' is made of small crystals or paper like chips of mica. This is mixed with the gulal for a rich shine. Mischievous ones, however, go for silver and gold paints on which no colour could be applied.

Whatever be the choice of colour, nobody remains in their original texture at the end of the play. And everybody takes delight looking at the other. Really, the other name of the festival is FUN.

And, it is not just children, but the young and the old alike who take delight in this joyous festival of colours. Seniors too, move in their tolis. Their enthusiasm is at times greater than that of their children as they forget the bars of age and follow their hearts. To youth, holi gives a chance to explore the heights of their enthusiasm as they climb the human pyramids to break the pot of buttermilk and to express their love to their beloved by applying colour.

For, Holi knows no bars, everybody feels it is their right to enjoy and enjoy they do. Songs, dance, drinks, food everything goes in excess when it is time for Holi. It can be said, "Life turns Colourful" when it is time for Holi.

Containers of the Sacred.

Ark of the Covenant is described in the Hebrew Bible as a sacred container, wherein rested the stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments. The Ark was built at the command of God, in accord with Moses's prophetic vision on Mount Sinai (Exodus 25:9-10). Its primary function was for God to communicate with Moses, "from between the two cherubim" on the Ark's cover (Exodus 25:22). The Ark and its sanctuary were "the beauty of Israel" (Lamentations 2:1). Rashi and some Midrashim suggest that there were two arks - a temporary one made by Moses and a later one made by Bezalel (Hertz 1936).

During the journeys of the Israelites, the Ark was carried by the priests in advance of the host (Numbers 4:5, 6; 10:33-36; Psalms 68:1; 132:8). The Ark was borne by priests into the bed of the Jordan, which separated, opening a pathway for the whole of the host to pass over (Joshua 3:15, 16; 4:7, 10, 11, 17, 18). The Ark was moreover borne in the procession round Jericho (Josh. 6:4, 6, 8, 11, 12). When carried, the Ark was always wrapped in a veil, in badger skins, a blue cloth, and was carefully concealed, even from the eyes of the Levites who carried it.


In the year 1685, Narayan baba, the youngest son of Tukaram was a man of innovative spirit and decided to bring about a change in the dindi-wari tradition by introducing the Palkhi, which is a sign of social respect. He put the silver padukas (footsteps) of Tukaram in the Palkhi and proceeded with his dindi to Alandi where he put the padukas of Dnyaneshwar in the same Palkhi. This tradition of twin Palkhis went on every year, but in 1830 there were some disputes in the family of Tukaram, concerned with rights and privileges. Following this, some thoughtful persons decided to break-up the tradition of twin Palkhis and organise here after, two separate Palkhis - Tukaram Palkhi from Dehu and the Dnyaneshwar Palkhi from Alandi.

From that time till date, both the Palkhis meet in Pune for a brief halt and then diverge at Hadapsar to meet again at Wakhri, a village nearby to Pandharpur.

Along with times, the popularity of this ancient tradition has soared immensely. A total of approximately 1.5 lakh devotees proceed along with the Sant Tukaram Palkhi from Dehu village, while a total of 2.25 lakh devotees march along with the Sant Dnyaneshwar Palkhi. At present a total of 43 Palkhis including the above two visit Pandharpur every year.


In Western Christianity, Lent is the period from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday. In Eastern Christianity, the period before Easter is known as Great Lent to distinguish it from the Winter Lent, or Advent (known in Greek as the "Great Fast" and the "Nativity Fast", respectively). This article discusses Lent as understood and practiced in Western Christianity, except where noted.

Easter always falls on a Sunday between March 22 and April 25, roughly corresponding to the Northern Hemisphere's early spring. Ash Wednesday, which can fall anywhere between February 4 and March 10, occurs forty-six days before Easter, but Lent is nevertheless considered forty days long, because Sundays in this period are not counted among the days of Lent. The traditional reason for this is that fasting was considered inappropriate on Sunday, the day commemorating the Resurrection of Jesus.

Formerly Lent was referred to by the Latin term quadragesima, or the "fortieth day" before Easter. This nomenclature is preserved in Romance and Celtic languages (for example, Spanish cuaresma, Irish Carghas, and Welsh C(a)rawys). The name "Lent" comes from the Germanic root for spring (specifically Old English lencten). Initially the word simply meant spring, but later became associated with the fast. The name change occurred in the late Middle Ages as Catholic sermons were spoken in vernacular instead of Latin. As such, use of this term to describe this period is unique to English.

Easter celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, while Lent is a time of preparation for Holy Week (or the Passion Week for Catholics worshiping in the new rite of the Mass). Holy Week recalls the events preceding and during the crucifixion, which occurred in Jerusalem in the Roman province Judea, AD 29.


The most prominent event of this month is the fasting practiced by all observant Muslims. The fasting during Ramadan has been so predominant in defining the month that some have been led to believe the name of this month, Ramadan, is the name of Islamic fasting, when in reality the Islamic term for fasting is sawm.

Eating, drinking and sexual intercourse are not allowed between dawn (fajr), and sunset (maghrib). During Ramadan, Muslims are also expected to put more effort into following the teachings of Islam by refraining from violence, anger, envy, greed, lust, angry and sarcastic retorts, and gossip. People are meant to try to get along with each other better than they normally might. All obscene and irreligious sights and sounds are to be avoided. Purity of both thought and action is important. The fast is an exacting act of deep personal worship in which Muslims seek a raised level of closeness to God. The act of fasting is said to redirect the heart away from worldly activities, its purpose being to cleanse the inner soul and free it from harm.

Shravan (Month) : July-Aug in North Indian/Telugu Calendar; Aug-Sep in Tamil Calendar (Avani).Generally fifth month of the Hindu calendar beginning from Chaitra.
Many important festivals are celebrated in this auspicious month. Ganesh Chaturthi, Janmashtami/Gokulashtami, Nag Panchami, Avani Avittam, Shravan Poornima, Raksha Bhandan etc.
This is the most auspicious month of the Chaturmasya. On Purnima or fullmoon day, or during the course of the month the star 'Shravan' rules the sky, hence the month is called Shravan. This month is spread out with innumerably religious festivals and ceremonies and almost all the days of this month are auspicious.

Role of Food in Religious Practices.


A host is a small, thin, round bread used for Holy Communion in many Christian churches. The word, from Latin "hostia", which means "victim" or "sacrificial animal", is often used to refer to the bread both before and after consecration, although it is more correctly used only after consecration, "altar breads" being preferred before consecration.

In the Catholic Church, hosts are often made by nuns, as a means of supporting themselves. It is required that the hosts be made from wheat flour and water only. (Code of Canon Law, Canon 924.) The Church teaches that at the words of consecration, the bread is changed into the Body of Christ, through transubstantiation. While in the Latin Rite unleavened bread is used, the Eastern Rites and the Eastern Orthodox Churches use leavened bread. Both however insist that the bread must be made from wheat for a valid consecration to take place.


Prasāda (Sanskrit), prasād (Hindi) or prasādam (Tamil) is both a mental condition of generosity, as well as a material substance that is first offered to a deity and then consumed with the faith that the deity's blessing resides within it. In contemporary Hindu religious practice in India, the desire to get prasada and have darshan (cross referenced) are the two major motivations of pilgrimage and temple visits.

As a mental condition, prasāda has a rich history of meanings in the Sanskrit tradition from Vedic literature onwards. In this textual tradition, prasada is a mental state experienced by gods, sages, and other powerful beings which is marked by spontaneous generosity and the bestowing of boons. Prasāda is understood in this sense of a mental state from the earliest literature (Rig Veda) onwards -- not as an aspect of ritual practice. In later texts such as the Shiva Purāna, references to prasada as a material substance begins to appear alongside this older meaning.

In its material sense, prasada is created by a process of giving and receiving between a human devotee and the divine god. For example, a devotee makes an offering of a material substance such as flowers, fruits, or sweets -- which is called 'naivedya'. The deity then 'enjoys' or tastes a bit of the offering, which is then temporarily known as 'bhogya'. This now-divinely invested substance is called 'prasāda", and is received by the devotee to be ingested, worn, etc. It may be the same material that was originally offered, or material offered by others and then re-distributed to other devotees.

As a 'leftover substance', prasada is special because it is understood as being invested with divine grace or blessing. This is in stark contrast to the status of any leftover portions of ordinary foods as they are considered ritually impure (jūṭhā). According to orthodox Hindu religious practice, a wife might eat the food tasted by her husband, but in contrast to other South Asian religious practices, Hindus do not take food communally (as among Sikhs) or share from the same plate (as among Muslims). Therefore, in contrast to the restrictions on food sharing between people in Hinduism, when a material substance is leftover by a god, it is not thought of as being 'impure' (jūṭhā), but as full of divine blessing (prasãda) and karmically beneficial to its recipient. The offering and distribution of prasãda is particularly central to the (Vaishnava) sectarian tradition, but is also central for members of other Hindu sectarian communities, such as the Shaktas.

Throwing rice at Weddings.

Christian Weddings

Throwing things at a newly married couple is a very old tradition that may date back to ancient Rome or Egypt or even further back. The custom is intended to give newlyweds good luck, and most of the items thrown at the couple represent fertility and abundance.

Food has always been a popular choice because it symbolizes plentiful crops. Seeds and nuts symbolize fertility because a little seed may grow into a big plant, an appropriate sentiment for a newly married couple. Grains such as wheat and rice were thrown over the newlyweds in the hopes that the couple would be prosperous and have many children to work the land.

Hindu Weddings

akshata: (Sanskrit) Unbroken, Unmilled, uncooked rice, often mixed with turmeric, offered as a sacred substance during puja, or in blessings for individuals at weddings and other ceremonies. This, the very best food, is the finest offering a devotee can give to God or a wife can give to her husband.

Phallic Symbolism in vartous cultures.

MENHIR - A menhir is a large, single upright standing stone (monolith or megalith), of prehistoric European origin. The largest surviving menhir is at Locmariaquer, Brittany, the Grand Menhir Brisé ("Great Broken Menhir") which was once about 20 meters high. It lies broken in four pieces but would have weighed around 330 tons when intact and is thought to be the heaviest object ever moved by humans without powered machinery. In other areas, standing stones were systematically toppled by Christians: of the many former standing menhirs of northern Germany, scarcely one stands today. Alignments of menhirs are also known, the most famous being the Carnac stones in Brittany, where more than 3000 menhirs are arranged in three groups and arrayed in rows stretching for several kilometres.

OBELISK - (greek obeliskos, diminutive of obelos, "needle") is a tall, thin, four-sided, tapering monument which ends in a pyramidal top. Ancient obelisks were made of a single piece of stone (a monolith).

Obelisks were a prominent part of the architecture of the ancient Egyptians, who placed them in pairs at the entrance of temples. Twenty-seven ancient Egyptian obelisks are known to have survived, plus one incomplete obelisk found partly hewn from its quarry at Aswan.

The obelisk symbolized the sun god Ra and during the brief religious reformation of Akhenaten was said to be a petrified ray of the aten, the sundisk. It was also thought that the god existed within the structure.

TOTEM POLES are monumental sculptures carved from great trees, typically Western Redcedar, by a number of Native American cultures along the Pacific northwest coast of North America. The beginnings of totem pole construction are not known. Being made of wood they decay easily in the rain forest environment of the Northwest Coast, so no examples of poles carved before 1800 exist. However 18th century accounts of European explorers along the coast indicate that poles certainly existed at that time, although small and few in number. In all likelihood, the freestanding poles seen by the first European explorers were preceded by a long history of monumental carving, particularly interior house posts. Edward Malin (1986) has proposed a theory of totem pole development which describes totem poles as progressing from house posts, funerary containers, and memorial markers into symbols of clan and family wealth and prestige. He argues that the center of pole construction was centered around the Haida people of the Queen Charlotte Islands, from whence it spread outward to the Tsimshian and Tlingit and then down the coast to the tribes of British Columbia and northern Washington. The regional stylistic differences between poles would then be due not to a change in style over time, but instead to application of existing regional artistic styles to a new medium.

PILLARS OF ASHOKA are a series of columns dispersed throughout the northern Indian subcontinent, and erected by the Mauryan king Ashoka during his reign in the 3rd century BCE.

Many of the pillars are carved with proclamations reflecting Buddhist teachings: the . The most famous of the columns is the one that was erected at Sarnath, and is now displayed in the Sarnarth museum. It has been used as one of the central symbols of India, in particular on Indian banknotes.

The Sarnath pillar marks the site of the first sermon of the Buddha, where he taught the Dharma to five monks. The pillar bears one of the Edicts of Ashoka, an inscription against schism within the Buddhist community, which reads "No one shall cause division in the order of monks".

The pillar is a column surmounted by a capital, which consists of a canopy representing an inverted bell-shaped lotus flower, a short cylindrical abacus where alternate four 24-spoked Dharma wheels with four animals (an elephant, a bull, a horse, a lion in this order), a four lions facing the four cardinal directions. The four animals are believed to symbolize different steps of the Gautama Buddha's life:

  • The Elephant represents the Buddha's conception in reference to the dream of Queen Maya of a white elephant entered her womb.
  • The Bull represents desire during the life of the Buddha as a prince. It is also the symbol of Shiva.
  • The Horse represents Kanthaka, the horse the Buddha rode for his Great Departure from palatial life.
  • The Lion represents the attainment of Buddhahood.

The four animals may also represent lesser Hindu deities as they existed at the time, and/or possibly how they were under the service of Buddha.

The four lions surmounting the capital symbolize the kingship of the Buddha and his roar over the four directions.

Circumambulation - Muslims and Hindus.

MATAAF ..And let them go round the ancient house (Quran 22;29).
Like moths attracted to light you piligrims will be fascinated by the kaaba as mentioned in the Quran 2;127 SubhaanAllah!

What strikes me about this sacred beutiful house is that so many gloris and majestic buildings in the world are found in areas of good climate, but the Kaaba attracts people to its self without having means of entertainment or satisfying ones pleasure... It is however god himself who has created this attraction in ppls hearts through Ibrahim supplication as quoted from Quran in surah Al Hajj;[ 22:27] And proclaim among men the Pilgrimage: they will come to you on foot and on every lean camel, coming from every remote path,

A piligrim by going round the sacred house and doing tawaaf is to prove to Allah swt that his desires are only with him!

SubhaanAllah Imam Sadiq says;

'Whoever looks at the kaaba, as long as his eyes are on it, rewards are written for him and his wrong doings are written off, until he turns his look from it'..

The act of worshipful circumambulation walking clockwise around a holy temple, shrine, or place. It is is a Hindu way of worship where devotees walk around the garbha-griha, the sanctum sanctorum which is the innermost chamber housing the deity. Pradakshina is done in clockwise manner in odd number of times.

Thread Ceremony - Parsi and Hindu.


The initiation ceremony, or the Navjot, is the occasion when th child is admitted into the Zoroastrian fold, and is then invested with the outward symbols of the Faith-the shirt (sudreh) and the girdle (kusti). This investiture is a very ancient Aryan custom and is pre-Zoroastrian. It has been practised among all the Aryans since immemorial ages. Both the Hindus and the Zoroastrians have kept it up to this day. But there are some ramarkable differences to be observed between the two peoples to-day. In the first place, among the Parsis both boys and girls are invested with the shirt and the girdle, whereas among the Hindus the investiture is for boys alone and not for girls. The Zoroastrian have kept up the ancient form of the dress almost unchanged, viz., both the shirt and the girdle. But among the Hindus the shirt had dwindled down to a mere thread-the sacred thread worn across the chest and over the left shoulder, while the girdle, though worn at the time of the investiture, has dropped out almost completely. There is a third thing also necessary with the shirt and the girdle, a covering for the head. Fifty years ago no Parsi would have remained bare-headed either by day or by night; and even to-day, though the men have adopted the European costume and they go about bare-headed most of the time, still at the times of prayers, inside the temples and during all religious ceremonies the wearing of a small velvet or silken skull-cap is compulsory. Orthodox and old fashioned women tie up their hair with a white cotton kerchief, so as to have the head always covered, and even though today kerchief has been discarded, still at prayer time their head must be covered either with the kerchief or with their silk sari. Among the Hindus the tuft of hair worn on the top of the head by the men -the shikha- corresponds in its original object with the cap of the Parsi.

The Navjot (literally, 'the New Birth') ceremony marks the second birth of the child, i.e., into the Zoroastrian fold. The ceremony, it is enjoined, should take place between the ages of seven and fifteen, but it is rarely postponed beyond the age of puberty and usually the age is between seven and nine. After this investiture the Zoroastrian has to wear the shirt and the girdle day and night (except while bathing), and these constitute the dress of the body of a Zoroastrian when it is carried to the last resting place.

The shirt is a loose garment of white cotton, the colour implying Asha, the fundamental doctrine of Zoroaster's Faith. It is called sudreh, which word, according to some scholars, means 'the Good Path'. It is usually short-sleeved and reaches down nearly to the knees. It has no collar and is cut low down over the chest; and in the centre there is a small pouch or bag-shaped attachment sewn on. This is called the gireh-ban. This is the most important part of the garment, for it is the symbolical repository of the good thoughts, the good words and the good deeds of the wearer.

The kusti is woven out of while lamb's wool, and the process of weaving it is a complex one. It is prepared, as a rule, only by women of the priestly class, though nowadays sometimes non-priestly women also may weave it. First of all the wool, is spun into a fine thread, and two threads of the requisite length are twisted together, symbolising the union of the Two Spirits for manifestation. Then seventy-two such double strands are taken and woven together into a long thin hollow tape. The number seventy-two represents the seventy-two chapters of the Yasna, the most important book of the Scriptures. The hollow tape is then turned carefully inside out after which there is a ceremonial washing and finally it is rolled up tightly. Every detail in the preparation of the kusti is symbolical, the seventy-two strands are divided into six groups of twelve each, these numbers also having definite significance.

As worn over the sudreh, the kusti goes round the waist thrice, to signify the three commandments of Zoroaster-humata, hukhta, huvarshta. It is secured by 'a sailor's knot' before and behind. Each twist of these knots is meant to bring one important truth to the mind of the wearer: (1)that God is the One Eternal Being, (2) that the Mazdayasni Faith is the true Faith, (3) that Zoroaster is the true inspired Prophet of God, and (4) that the wearer shall try to obey the three commandments.


In the Hindus this ceremony is essential to the members of the three higher classes and marks a boy's official acceptance into his varna. At this point he becomes "twice-born." Everyone has a first, biological birth, but when a young man seeks his spiritual identity he symbolically accepts a spiritual teacher as father and the Vedas as mother. He may also receive a new, spiritual name. At the ceremony, he receives the jenoi (sacred-thread), usually worn for his entire lifetime. It is replaced at intervals, but never removed until the new one has been put on. There is a separate samskara marking the beginning of education, but today the two ceremonies are often combined.

Upanayana means "sitting close by," referring to the boy's taking shelter of the guru (spiritual teacher). Traditionally, he would move away from home to the teacher's ashram, called "gurukula." Even members of the royal family were trained to live simply without luxury or sense-gratification, in order to keep their minds pure and unspoiled. When later married, they would remain attached to the spiritual values they imbibed during their school days. The emphasis at gurukula was on the study of the Vedas and development of character.

The ceremony itself involves shaving the head, bathing and wearing new clothes. The boy may also beg alms from his mother and from other relatives. There is a havan and the investiture of the sacred thread, which hangs over his left shoulder. The boy will then hear the Gayatri mantra from his priest or guru, who may give him a spiritual name to signify his "second birth". Thereafter, wrapping the thread round the thumb of his right hand, he will chant this prayer thrice daily, at dawn, noon, and dusk. The boy takes vows to study the Vedas, serve his teachers and follow certain vows, including celibacy. He often concludes the ceremony by offering the traditional dakshina (gift) to his teacher.

Bonfire Nights - U.K. and India.

Bonfire Night

, Fireworks Night and Plot Night, is an annual celebration (but not a public holiday on the evening of the 5th of November primarily in the United Kingdom, but also in New Zealand, South Africa, the province of Newfoundland and Labrador Canada, and formerly in Australia, and to some extent by their nationals abroad. It celebrates the failure of the Gunpowder Plot, in which a group of Catholic conspirators attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliamentin London on the evening of 5 November 1605, when the Protestant King James I (James VI of Scotland) was within its walls.

The celebrations, which in the United Kingdom take place in towns and villages across the country, involve fireworks displays and the building of bonfires, traditionally on which "guys", or dummies, representing Guy Fawkes, the most famous of the conspirators are burnt.


or Holikotsava is a festival that occurs around March and is celebrated over two days. On the evening of the first day bonfires are lit, normally
in a public place. On the second day people throw coloured powder and water at each other. Holi is one of the few festivals that has yet to acquire the character of being a religious and private festival along with being a public occasion for rejoicing which all festivals are. Holi is almost totally a public festival and as such there is hardly any Holi celebrations inside private homes in the sense in which is understood. Holi is not only a purely public festival in the manner of its celebration but also in the manner in which people prepare for it.

Weeks before the arrival of Holi, gangs comb the neighbourhood and collect all waste-wood, old wooden furniture etc. which they can lay their hands upon. After weeks of preparation judiciously combined with activities that come close to pillaging, assorted pieces of wood are piled up to be lit on the evening of the festival day.