New Delhi, Weather from Weather Underground

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Second Grade...Here We Come

Believe it or not....Rachel started second grade last week. Where does the time go?? She is attending the American Embassy School in New Delhi, India this year. The adjustment was quick, and Rachel already loves her new school, teachers, and classmates. We are very thankful to be blessed with such a happy adaptable child....especially since this is her fourth school since starting pre-K.
Rachel and Dan heading out of the hotel on the first day.
We made it to the campus early enough for Rachel to give us what has become her "signature pose."

One very happy second grader settling in at her desk.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

During Shravan (the auspicious monsoon month of July-August on the Hindu calendar), the northern Indian states are inundated with pilgrims wearing a shade of flaming orange. They carry long poles with baskets at either end. From Wikipedia...."Shravan Kumar belonged to the time when King Dashratha ruled Ayodhya. He was born of poor and blind parents, but they had brought him up remarkably well. He was strong healthy and honest, and he had a good character. He bore sincere love and respect for his parents. He was also a great devotee of God. Every day, he worked hard to make his parents as comfortable and happy. In his leisure time he prayed to God and attended to his poor, blind and aging parents. One day his parents told him that they had be- come quite aged. They, therefore, wanted him to take them to the various places of pilgrimage : this could make them fully satisfied and give them abundant peace of mind. It is a typical Hindu belief that a pilgrimage to the various shrines and holy places under- taken in old age, purifies the soul and takes one nearer to one's Maker ere the icy hand of Death touches one. To a Hindu mind nothing is more precious, than becoming one with the great Maker of this Universe.
In those days means of transport were scarce and costly, and Shravan Kumar could not afford to hire- them. He, therefore, decided to place his parents in two baskets and carry the baskets on his shoulder to the places of pilgrimage. He took a strong bamboo- stick, at its two ends he tied the two baskets with strong ropes, and placed his father in one of the baskets and his mother in the other. Carrying on his shoulder this bamboo stick with a basket at either end, Shravan started on the pilgrimage."

Over the weekend, we saw hundreds of men in orange t-shirts and pants carrying water collected from the glacier where the Ganges river originates. They carry the water back to their hometowns as a gesture of thanksgiving to Lord Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction.
Tradition says that the water from the Ganges cannot touch the ground until it is used for the thanksgiving ceremonies. Because of this many people, organizations, and groups set up places where the pots can be kept. Along the routes locals provide the pilgrims with water and food.

Looking for a spouse??

Last week, I happened upon the six pages of the Hindustan Times Matrimonial section. It took me about 20 minutes of perusing to take them all in. Very interesting reading, I must say. The section is usually four pages of "Grooms Wanted" and two of "Brides Wanted." They are full of ads for wedding planners, matchmaking services, and astrological planners. The matrimonial are also divided into Punjabi, Sikh, Jain, Manglik, and such. From the ads the prospective bride or groom will learn about the potential mates religion, height, birth date (the correct astrological match up between bride and groom is extremely important in India), occupation, parents' occupation, and educational background. Also whether a vegetarian or non-vegetarian is expected.
Some examples from today's paper:
"Groom Wanted"
"South Delhi reputed Punjabi Arora family
settled in export business,
seeks alliance for their only daughter, educated from Canada and UK.
Working as Scientific Business Analyst.
Fair, slim, 165 cm, born in Delhi at 20:05 hrs, 17-01-86.
The boy should be professionally qualified from reputed and cultured Punjabi family,
born after 1982-83. Horoscope matching desired."
and then from the opposing camp.....
"Bride Wanted"
"Renowned Punjabi, High Status Business Family invites alliance
for their only son, 5'10", MBA, 21-12-1983, 11:35 am.
Seeks tall, beautiful, homely, well educated girl from high status business family."

This is what has to say about ....
"Indian arranged marriages
The following factors are generally considered in Indian marriages to search for compatibility:
Values and personal expectations: should match
Age and height: girl should generally be younger and shorter
Looks: should be acceptable to the other, although it is preferred that the women have "a fair skin", as it can be noted in the matrimonial advertisements.
Religion: should be same, preferably same sect
Mother tongue, caste: should be preferably same
Diet (veg/non-veg/alcohol/smoking): may differ only if acceptable to the other
Education: comparable educational levels or the boy should be more educated than the girl
Profession: the profession should be acceptable to the other
Financial: The boy's current and future financial situation should be acceptable to the girl.
Astrological signs/attributes: should be compatible, if the two families believe in it.
The parents may discuss the expectations with their son/daughter before starting to look for a match. The expectations are shared with relatives and family friends who can often bring suggestions. The Indian matrimonial sites attempt to provide databases that can be queried to find matches using similar attributes[8][9].
Hindu Dharma accords paramount importance to marriage between two people found compatible, and on an auspicious day, chosen to be compatible with the bride and the groom, with the approval of the elders and, according to Hindu religion "in the presence of the gods, so that the couple will flourish and walk in dharma, and any progeny conceived after such elaborate rituals would be a blessed soul and good human being."
Once the parents of both bride and groom agree with each in which all the relatives and known circle are called from both sides as a witness and to "give their blessing", then in that engagement function itself a date is fixed for marriage as per bride and grooms horoscope and astrologically auspicious day, the priest will announce to all that both the family are agreed to the acceptance of marriage of their son/daughter on the particular date. Then "in the name of god both the families exchange fruits and clothing" as a symbol of acceptance.
An "auspicious day" is chosen in accordance with the religious almanac and the bride and the groom's horoscopes, also if it is moon's phase (ascending is preferred by some) apart from any other logistical consideration.
The wedding is conducted in accordance with religious rites [10] and rituals[11] with the invited guests considered to be the 'society' in whose presence the girl is given away in matrimony to the boy."