Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sushma-2-Early Days

My father loved me very much, so much so that he wanted me to be the expert of everything overnight. He taught me everything whatever he thought that I could learn at that age.  In those times Master degree was considered very high, especially for girls because even boys did not do Master in those times. So he aspired for us (both sisters) a Master degree. It was his dream. Alas, he could not see his dream come true, as he died when I was still in BA Previous (first year). With this point of view he started my education at home.he was very regular and religious in teaching me.

I still remember those days - it must have been 1947 March-April, as my Mausee was married in January 1948 and  by then she had passed her Intermediate, when my younger  Mausee (mother's sister) came to Aligarh to appear in her Intermediate exam from Bulandshahar. As in those days, girls did not go out alone, my father used to drop her at the examination center. the examination center was a girls' school. And as I told that he kept me with him all the time, he took me too there. He showed me the school and asked - "Do you want to come here?" I said - "Yes." he said - "Then you have to read a lot. Only those children come here who read properly." Since that school looked attractive to me at that time, I made up my mind that I will read properly and come here to read more. That is how he used to inspire me to study. He used to say, "If you will not be educated, nobody will allow you to sit with him. You will be left alone." For long time I did not understand this statement. I took it physically, I thought, "How can one stop me sitting beside him?" I did not understand its hidden meaning - that who is not educated he is not welcomed among learned people.

Pattee Buddakaa Days
In those days children used Pattee (Takhtee) Buddakaa to learn writing. Pattee used to be wooden plank, of various sizes. Mine was a bigger one, of about  1' by 1 1/2'. Pattee used to be painted black or white and then lines were drawn on it on both the sides - one side horizontically (maybe 5 or 6) to write alphabets and on its other side vertically, divided in 10 columns to write numbers from 1-100. Its ink was Khadiyaa, a kind of white soil like chalk, dissolved in water; and its pen was called Qalam which was made of Reed stick. Its one end was cut finely in a special way to make it to write on Pattee. After writing on one side it was put to dry, then the other side was used to write. And after that side is also dried, it was tested for its neatness, the good form of letters etc. These Pattee were written several times a day, at least 4-5 times.

We had a servant Tikaram who used to help my father in his lock business. He used to do all this work for me. He taught me to write numbers and alphabets. In fact he stayed with us for a long time and served us very well. He was a loving fellow and treated us very well. I still remember him for his gentle behavior towards us.

Slate Days
After a child had perfected his writings on Pattee, he was given the slate stone sheets. These slates also came in various sizes, but they were much smaller than Pattee. Some were framed with wooden frame while some were just raw sheets. Mine was of a good size - 10" by 14" and framed too. Its frame had a small hole in which a piece of old cloth was hung attached.with a string. One could write on slate with Battee - Battee was a small sticks of chalk type material molded in a harder stick. But still it broke easily. Whenever our slate was full of writings, or we had to wipe out something, or we had to correct it, we could just wipe with our fingers, but after a few wipe outs the slate became a bit whitish, then we used the wet cloth to wipe it out.

Mostly these slates were used for Arithmetic problems. On one side we solved the problem and its other side was used to do rough work. But of course, once the problem was wiped out, one could not retrieve it anymore, as one can see it on paper as many times as one wishes.

Paper Days
When the child was skilled in writing both alphabets (short words, or even short sentences) and solving easy Arithmetic problems, he was given paper to write. Paper in the form of exercise books (we used to call it a copy) were used then till the end of the education. One used Qalam and ink to write on paper. Qalam were of several kinds. One Qalam was made of better kind of reed stick than of Pattee Buddakaa one. This Qalam was also cut like Pattee Buddakaa Qalam, but very finely. One can compare this writing with the writings of olden times, as it comes on parchment of Pyramid days. This type of Qalam was used to write Hindi language. Another Qalam was a thin firm stick in which a nib could be fitted to write appropriate language, for example to write Hindi language there used to come a "Hindi Nib" which was finer copy of reed Qalam to write Hindi. In the same Qalam, a "G Nib" could be fitted to write English language. It gave very fine look to one's writing English. There came a third type of Nib which was good for writing other general materials, like accounts etc (I have forgotten its name).

We used only two types of Nib - Hindi Nib and English (G Nib). G-Nib's writing effects were superb and one was taught to write with it in the same way for which it was meant. It involved many things - how to hold it properly, where to stress it to draw a thick .line, where to leave it light to draw light fine line etc etc. First one learnt Capital letters, then small letters, and then came to write words. One had to really hard how to join the letters in a word. So it took really a long time to learn writing properly. In fact it was continuous process, sometimes up to 4th or 5th class. Besides, the writing was considered beautiful if it was in italic. Even a few letters were written differently, in ornamental way, not like today's printed way. In all it was a tedious job to learn a beautiful, clear, and clean writing.

In those children's books were rare, only textbooks were in vogue. Those books were also not very comely and attractive. No pictures, no colors, once in a while a few pictures were found in books. They were so dry, that if one could get any book to read, one considered himself fortunate. I remember once somebody started publishing a small book series titled "Shishu" (means child). They sent some 5-6 booklets (maybe 24-30 pages paperback) every quarter or something. My father subscribed for it and I used to wait for them longingly. They were colored, had some pictures also, large print, interesting short stories, short and sometimes humorous poems plus quiz etc soft material;s for children. It was nice to receive that. Wherever my father could get any book for me, he bought them for me.

There was a small bookseller who sold the books for lower classes, 1-10. My father and I used to go there to buy new books for new class. Then we bought some brown paper (we used to call it Baansee paper or Malat, maybe translated in English as bamboo paper). As soon we reached our house, my father asked me to bring a knife and a scissors and all books were covered with that brown paper. Then they were labelled with a rectangle piece of white paper. Before my mother used to make Lehee to stick those label to the books, but later we started using liquid gum. Lehee was a kind of semi-liquid form of  white flower (or sometimes brown flour) cooked in water. Gum came in small pieces, since it was natural, and had to be soaked in water for overnight or so before use. After being soaked overnight it turned into liquid and for both of them, Lehee and gum, we used a small twig to apply them to our labels. They were used to repair our books also whenever they get torn for any reason.

Name, class and subject information were written on that label. It used to be a project and when the project was over it looked beautiful. A special kind of fragrance used to emanate from those books - as it comes from a fresh new newspaper. My father instructed me to keep those books carefully and clean. We promised to do, and did keep them in that condition for a couple of months but then they started becoming dirty and ink-stained by regular and careless use. The same treatment was given to our copies (exercise books) also. By the time the course was over, they were all ton, dirty and to be thrown.

In this way I finished my 7th class books and my father now prepared me to send to school - the same school in which my Mausee went to take her exam of Intermediate. School used to begin from about 7th or 8th July, and he planned to get me admitted in 8th class. I was happy.

Continued From.....  Sushma Gupta : In the Beginning There Was a Pooran Mal
Continued On......  Sushma Gupta : School Days

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sushma-1-In the beginning There was a Pooran Mal

My father Shri Kailash Chandra Bansal was a resident of Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, India, and my mother, Saraswati Devi, was the resident of Bulandshahar. her father's name was Jiwan Lal Agrawal and he was a leading advocate of Bulandshahar. His house (Kothee) was at Kala Aam.

In the beginning, there was a Pooran Mal. He lived in Kole Tahaseel of Aligarh District. Since the higher education was not available in that Tahaseel, he used to come to Aligarh to attend college. He studied Law and became a famous practicing lawyer. He earned a lot of money and settled in Aligarh. He built a house in Mamoo Bhanja Muhalla of Aligarh. He had two sons - Shri Minni Lal and Shri Niranjan Lal. His both sons were also lawyers. Later Shree Niranjan Lal built another house in Delhi Gate area of Aligarh (in those times it was the outskirts of Aligarh) and shifted there from Mamoo Bhanja. Mamoo Bhanja house (or so called Havelee) was so big that it had four doors in all the four directions.  It had three doors even till 1990. In 1990 a portion (belonging to us) was sold so now it has only one door left now. Both Shri Minni Lal and Shri Niranjan Lal were so successful lawyers that there are two Muhallaa on their names - Minni Ganj and Niranjan Puri.

Shri Niranjan Lal and His Family
Shri Niranjan Lal was younger and was married to my mother's cousin sister (her mother's sister's daughter) from Kaasganj. He was a Magistrate. he had a business of Arahar Daal (or Toor Daal) and made iron bars from scraps. They had four living children - two sons - Harishchandra Bansal and Rajendra Kumar Bansal; and two daughters - Shashi and Urmila (I do not know if any of his children died). They were in the order Harishchandra, Shashi, Rajendra Kumar and Urmila. Among them I do not know when Harishchandra and Shashi were married, but I attended the marriages of Urmila and Rajendra Kumar. Urmila was married to a Judge, who lived in Hisaar, in 1948, Panjaab and Rajendra Kumar was married in a family of Barreilly.

Harishchandra was married to Satyavatee's (Shri Minni Lal's wife) brother's daughter Saroj. Saroj had three sisters (Malati, Prabhat and Vinod) and two brothers (Naresh and Popo - I don't know his real name, I know only his pet name). Thus Satyavati was Saroj's real Buaa. As in our families is a custom to touch the feet of elderly women in in-law's house, I never saw Saroj Chaachee touching my grandmother Satyavati's feet and she always used to address her "Buaa", not "Jeejee" as all people in my family addressed her. Harishchandra and Saroj had four sons and one daughter. The eldest son's name was Vinay. Other children's names I do not know. One of their sons died - I don't know how, but he was sick for some time (don't know the disease).

Rajendra Kumar Bansal, Shri Niranjan Lal's younger son, was married to Pushpa and they had two children, one son Anupam Bansal and one girl Neenee (I think her real name was Kumud). When these children were still young, below 10 years of age, Shri Rajendra Bansal emigrated to Modi Nagar as an employee of Modi Industries. Anupam became a successful doctor and Neenee was married. After their family had settled in Modi Nagar we did  not have much contact with them. I met them once in February 1961, when I went to Meerut to study Sociology for two months. I did not meet their children as they were away - I don't remember why.

Shri Minni Lal and His Family
Shri Minni Lal was married to Satyavati from a family of Bulandshahar. We never heard of any other relative of Satyavati Devi. We know only that she had her Bhaabhee (widowed sister-in-law) and her six children - 2 sons (Naresh Kumar and Popo) and 4  daughters (Saroj - who was married to my Chaachaa Harish Chandra, the son of Shri Niranjan Lal, Malti, Prabhat and Vinod). I have never seen her going there except in three marriages (of Naresh, Malti and Prabhat) and may be a couple of times more. My mother and we also went to Bulandshahar in Naresh and Malti's marriages.

I was very young in Malti's marriage. I remember once I wanted to eat one Gulaab-jaamun, so my mother asked Saroj to give one Gulaab-jaamun to me. She was my Chaachee from my father's paternal side and Buaa from my father's maternal side. We used to call her Chaachee. So asked me to address her as Buaa then only she would give me Gulaab-jaamun. And I would not call her Buaa. Because I did not understand how could she be my Buaa when she was my Chaachee (at that age I understood this much that maternal and paternal relationship could not be mixed up. So I did not address her Buaa and she was also adamant that she would give me Gulaab-jaamun only when I will call her Buaa. Everybody was laughing there, I did not understand why they all were laughing, but I could not call her Buaa at any cost, later she had to give me the Gulaab-jaamun without calling her Buaa. After a long time I could understand this relationship.

Shri Minni Lal and Satyavatee had two children, one son Kailash Chandra Bansal (my father), and one daughter Santosh Rani. I do not know if any of their children died. He died very young, I do not know how. We had his very good photo in our hall situated on the first floor where Shri Kailash Chandra Bansal was doing his business. In that photo he was looking very young. Once when I was very young, may be 5-6 years old, I asked my mother, "Where is Baabaa's old age photo."  My mother told me that they had his that photo only. I asked her "Why not the old age photo?"My mother said - "Because he did not get old. He died young. Then how could we have his old age photo?"

Later I also discovered that it was not a photo, it was a portrait, a pencil sketch, drawn by some friend of Shri Minni Lal Jee. It was so beautifully drawn that it looked so lively. .He looked in that sketch so lively as if he would just speak smilingly.

Shri Kailash Chandra Bansal
My father Kailash Chandra did his BA (History) and then studied law - both from Aligarh Muslim University. He became a practicing lawyer but unfortunately he could not continue his practice for long and he started his own business of locks. Thus he was a lawyer by education and a businessman by profession. He had a small business of locks which is a very famous business of Aligarh. Aligarh is famous for its locks. Shri Kailash Chandra was married to Saraswati Devi from Bulandshahar. Kailash Chandra Bansal and Saraswati Devi Bansal had four daughters during their marital period - Asha (died at a very early age - before the age of 3 years and before I was born), Sushma (me), Madhur and Chitralekha (she died before she was 5 years old). My mother told me that they named their first daughter "Asha" (means hope) because she was born to them after several years of their marriage.

Santosh Rani and Her Family
Shri Kailash Chandra Bansal's only sister Santosh Rani was married to Shri Jagdish Sharan Agrawal, of a very very good family of Etawah. He was the son of Rai Bahadur Suraj Mal. His house was not a house, or Havelee, it was a palace in real sense. His palace had 52 courtyards in it. I do not know when it happened but when I first time went to her house, in 1956, several roads were passing through it, but it still was famous with the name of  "52 Chowk Kee Havelee". They had 9 living children in the order - Pushpa, Kusum, Suman, Abha (Rani), Rakesh (son), Dinesh (son), Mukul, Neelam and Lal Jee (I don't know his real name, perhaps his name was Mukesh or something). Their one son died, because I remember my mother went there for condolence. As Buaa Jee had 6 daughters, her three daughters were of fair complexion (Kusum, Abha and Neelam) and three daughters were of little bit darker (Pushpa, Suman and Mukul).

I don't know how much she studied, but I remember this much that I used her mathematics book of class 8th and historical atlas. Certainly she did not pass her High School.

I don't know how many brothers and sisters my Phoophaa Jee (Jagdish Sharan) had, but I know about his two siblings - one brother and one sister, both younger to Phoophaa Jee. Phoophaa Jee was the eldest. He had his step mother. Thus my Buaa had her step mother-in-law. When I first went there in 1956, it was the occasion of  my Buaa's 2nd child Kusum's marriage. My whole family, my parents and my younger sister Madhur, went there as it was the first marriage in their house. There was a lot of enthusiasm and happiness in both families - theirs and ours. Phoophaa Jee's mother (she was his step mother) asked me from my mother for her son. I was only 13 at that time. Whatever reason my mother gave to her, I do not know,. but she politely refused for this proposal.

Kusum's Marriage
I enjoyed that marriage very well. Her husband was my first Jeejaa Jee. He was from Moradabad and he did the brass pots business which is the specialty of Moradabad. In our culture three relationships are very jovial and odd -
Jeejaa-Saalee - boy's relationship with his wife's younger sister
Devar-Bhaabhee - boy's relationship with his elder brother's wife, and
Nandoee-Salahaj - boy's relationship with his wife's younger brother's wife

Since we were all younger to Kusum Jeejee, we all had the opportunity to cut jokes on her husband. In marriage ceremonies, there is a ceremony in which the bride's younger brothers and sisters ask the groom to sing a song, or tell a joke or something. So we were asking our Jeejaa Jee to sing a song, and as usual he was repeating that he did not know singing. We were also after him that sing at least one song, or four lines etc etc. After some persuasion he sang the two lines of this Rafi's song which was very popular at that time - "Tujhe kyaa sunaaoon mein dilrubaa tere saamane meraa haal hai.  ....  meree zindagee kaa savaal hai". What a song in reply?

Our Jeejaa Jee was very handsome. He had one brother and one sister, both younger. Both were very beautiful and attractive. I kept looking at them whenever they came to attend the marriage ceremonies at our place. Later they had one son Chunmun and one daughter (I don't know the daughter's name). Jeejaa Jee died of Heart attack.

Pushpa's Marriage
Although Pushpa Jeejee was elder to Kusum Jeejee, but she was married 2 years later than Kusum Jeejee. She was married in 1958. When she was married, she was above 29 years of age. We used to hear that Phoophaa Jee was trying to marry her since the age of 14 years. In those days boys did not want a darker girl, she used spectacles also and they did not want the girls with spectacles also. That is why she was rejected at many places. She did Master in Hindi Literature. She was very good in Raamaayan. Once Phoophaa Jee was telling us that Pushpa Jeejee stood first in a competition of Raamaayan. She was very young at that time.

After she got her Master in Hindi Literature, she worked in All India Radio in "Bahanon kaa Program". She often appeared in that program and we always found a chance to hear her. I considered this a very high thing in our community, but in her family everybody was opposing her for this work, as girls were not supposed to do job. Education was all right for them, but job? No, No. I myself was so fascinated with that, that I used to dream that one day I will also be heard on radio. There was a Maamaa (mother's brother) of Phoophaa Jee, Shrimannarayan, who was something big in government (Minister or something) at that time, he arranged this for her saying that "till she is not married, let her work here". She worked there for a couple of years.

How she got married is an interesting story. her husband's name was Rikhab Das Jain and he was from Meerut. By profession he was a photographer and ran a shop of photographic materials. Talks were going on with Rikhab Das' family about this proposal and Phoophaa Jee was to go to their house to talk to them. He went there and fixed the relation and came back and gave this news to us too. We all were very happy with this relation - at last she was getting married. Phoophaa Jee told us that story, "Rikhab Das' mother had a dream the previous night that somebody said to her that whosoever would come to her house tomorrow with the proposal for Rikhab, you must accept it." As they were also worried about their son's marriage, as our Phoophaa Jee reached there, they accepted the proposal without asking anything. First Phoophaa Jee was shocked at this that his daughter was getting married so easily but later on hearing the story from his mother he got relieved. And they got married. Jeejaa Jee (Rikhab Das) was MA in Economics and PhD in Economics. He did this on some topic of films so he had lots of photographs of film stars. Once, after my marriage, when our camp was in Meerut, we both went to his house. Pushpa Jeejee was not there at that time. He showed us several albums of film stars' photos which were taken during his research period.

Later, as we heard, Jeejee got him a job in Radio (AIIR) with her influence and they stayed in Delhi for some time and then in Lucknow. We heard that they had one son and he came to America, settled down here.

Suman's Marriage
Although Suman Jeejee was elder to me, but her marriage took place in the same year in which I was married, but after my marriage. We were married for a few days only, so it was a different kind of fun for me. I was not much interested in Jeejee's marriage but to enhance our own relationship.

Abha, Rakesh, Dinesh, Mukul, Neelam, Lal Jee
They all got married and settled in their lives as the time went by. Abha Jeejee was married in a family from Kanakhal. Once we went there to see her but she was not ther so we came back. Rakesh was also got married and got a teaching job in some Degree College in Etawah. Later he moved to Allahabad in the same job. Dinesh also got married. He was married in our paternal family who lived adjacent to Shri Niranjan Lal's Kothee at Delhi Gate. I know only one man in that family, Shri Chiranji Lal. He used to come to our house sometimes. He was elder to my father that is why we used to address him as Taaoo Jee. She was the daughter of that family.

When we visited Buaa Jee in 1981 (that was the last I saw Buaa's family), Dinesh was living separately from his parents and Buaa Jee told us that they got separated soon after the marriage. Mukul had got married, had a daughter, but left her in-law's house and was living with Buaa Jee. Neelam was quite grown-up but was not yet married. Mukul told me that she often engaged herself in Poojaa etc. Lal Jee was also married and got settled in Modi Nagar. This was Buaa Jee's family in 1981.

Later I heard that Neelam died with stomachache within a short time. She complained about the stomachache. They called the doctor and after a while she died. Nothing could be known about the reason of her death.

Continued on Next Page.... Sushma Gupta : Early Days

Monday, July 11, 2011

How to Worship in a Temple

Temples are the connecting points of high importance in our religion and culture. Going to Temple has been recommended by our many great saints and Aachaarya. It plays an important role play in cultivating the feelings of spiritualism and devotion in people. It is the place for collective worship. But going to temple also requires some discipline to be followed as it is the public place. Here are a few things to observe while you are in a temple to set the harmony. They are applicable to all.

(1) The first thing when you go to the temple you should go there with a clean body, maybe after taking bath. Besides wash your feet, hands and mouth before entering the temple.
(2) Always take something for the Deity, whatever you have, such as flowers, sweets, or fruits. This shows your devotion to the Deity.
(3) Never enter the temple with shoes or any other thing which is made of leather, for example purse or bag or belts etc.
(4) It is a good practice to touch the entering place on the door and then touch the hand to one's forehead before entering the temple.
(5) Go to your Deity with folded hands, offer the offerings, first water, then Chandan or Rolee, then flower, then sweets and / or fruits (Naivedya), then water again, then incense, then again fold your hands, pray your Deity with closed eyes.
(6) After this you may stand up or prostrate before the Deity and return from there backward for a few steps. After that you may show your back to your Deity.
(7) Do not prostrate to anybody else in the temple premises.
(8) If you are visiting a Shiv temple, first take the permission of Nandee Jee mentally then salute and worship Ganesh Jee and then only Shiv jee and Paarvatee Jee.
(9) Avoid any gossip, keep chanting your Deity's name or Stotra or Mantra mentally or verbally (if other people are not getting disturbed), while you are there
(10) In Shiv temple, if the priest blesses you with the Holy ash, it should be worn saying "shivaaya
namah". It should not be spilled on the ground or wasted. If it is more, keep it in some paper for next time.
(12) It is normal to give something to the priest also who takes care of the temple. So give something (normally money but one can give anything) to the priest also,
(13) Circumambulate the Deity or temple also in the temple. The circumambulation should be done at least for three times. On special occasions like Pradosh (for Shiv) there are special circumambulation
methods like Som Sookt Pradakshinaa.
(14) While you are in the Shiv temple chant the Holy five letters "Om Namah Shivaaya" or any Mantra or Stotra for Shiv can be chanted.
(15) One must not take out of the temple anything else, except Prasaad. That is why one should not go inside the temple with any kind of excess things which are not to be given in that temple. If nothing is
taken it is the normal practice to wipe (rub) the hands together in its place inside the temple.
(16) One should do something in the promotion of the temple physically or materially or whichever is convenient and required.
(17) While inside the temple one should not make the place dirty in any way or make any noise.
(18) One should make a habit to go to temple once a week or at least on special occasions with the family.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Ganesh: Jaya Shree Ganesh

Jaya Shree Ganesh

With my prayers to Shree Ganesh I place my first blog in the name of Shree Ganesh. There are many stories about Ganesh Jee, but here is a story of Ganesh Jee as why he is worshiped first among all Devtaa and while beginning any new work or at the beginning of all auspicious occasions.

Everybody knows that Ganesh Jee was killed by Shiv Jee or Shani Dev and revived by Shiv Jee and Vishnu respectively. So as Ganesh Jee was alive, Paarvatee Jee brought all killed Devtaa (read "How Ganesh Jee Was Born" for how all Devtaa were killed) back to life, Shiv Jee's all Gan thought that Ganesh Jee should be their leader. So on their request Shiv Jee appointed him as their leader.

In the meantime Devtaa also thought that Ganesh Jee should be their leader too. Shiv jee got very happy to hear this proposal. He blessed Ganesh Jee with that he should be remover of all obstacles so that all should worship him first and declared him as the leader of all Devtaa. He further said - "Blessed will be those who will worship you on the 4th day (Chaturthee) of the Krishn Paksh of Bhaadrapad month of the Hindu Lunar year.

That is why Ganesh Jee is always worshiped first among all Devtaa, whatever the occasion, and whenever people start any work, especially the auspicious occasions.

Jaya Shree Ganesh

sanskriti and sanskar

I am starting this blog with the tributes to my parents, my mother Saraswati Devi Bansal and my father Shri Kailash Chandra Bansal, who were my first Guru and mentor for all aspects of my life on the journey of my life. Whatever I am today is the result of their hard labor, extensive love and wishful thinking about me.

This site is an attempt to spread the knowledge of Hindu Sanskriti (culture) and Sanskar (heritage of thoughts). The knowledge is so vast and scattered that it is not easy to organize in a meaningful way. I have made an attempt to collect and organize a fraction of it in a very humble way. Written in a simple English, these blogs may be found useful by all ages and groups, of people.

Through these blogs, I would try to extend your knowledge about what are Hindu Sanskriti and Sanskar. I will very much appreciate your feed back, suggestions, and advice to improve the quality of my blogs.

With greetings and best wishes to all
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