The spring has set in with the advent of Ugadi, the Telugu New Year.
As the Pedda Bala Siksha, the big book of knowledge, facts and education, for children of the bygone times, ( that was when we learnt our Telugu and the Telugu calendar and the seasons), taught us, the months of Chaitra and Vaisakha are the season of spring,Vasantam, Yes, It is spring, the season of flowers, even if the sun beats down fiercely on you.
I am listening to Vijai Jesu Das, rhetorically but sweetly question , “Does it matter whether it is Siva or Vishnu?” in Telugu. True, Sivudaithe nemi Kesavudaithe nemi.. The song is from a CD album I have purchased recently at the TTD Marriage hall at Himayath Nagar. The CD contains lyrics of Tarigonda Vengamamba sung by Vijai Jesu Das and others.
Vijai Jesu Das is the son of Jesu Das ( Devotee of Jesus, literally), the illustrious singer from Kerala, the God’s Own Country, Jesu Das belongs to all of India and I think even to large parts of the world. Have you heard his songs like, “Gori tere gaon bada pyara ” and the like during the days of the Emergency ? Thanks to Indira Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi for this, Of course we missed Kishore Kumar and Hema Malini during those dreadful times.
As I think of Vijai, I remember of an audio casette of songs from the movie Sri Rama Dasu, pressed into my palms by the great Mullapudi Ramana some years ago, which contained lyrics of the saint Rama Dasu, rendered by Vijai, SPB, Keeravani and others.
I also used to have an audio casette released by the Bhadrari Rama Temple authorities, of a few of the Rama Dasu’s lyrics on Rama, set to music by Nedunuri Krishna Murthy Garu,.( It is nice to see Nedunuriji to sing Carnatic music and enunciate it enthusiastically even at his advanced age today.). The lyrics set to music by him were rendered soulfully by Jesu Das. I lent the casette to a friend of mine, but to my dismay he does not remember to have borrowed it. As the Sanskrit saying goes when your book, woman or wealth goes into the hands of someone else, be sure that you have lost it for ever. Unless you are as great and valorous as Sri Rama.
“The calendar says SaturDay is Sri Rama Navami for Smartas and Sun Day for Vaishnavas, Which day shall we celebrate the big day.?”, asks the missus.
” Satur Day evidently. But on second thoughts why not both days ?.” I reply.
” You are as smart as ( Is there is some pun here, I am not sure? ,- author), the shop keeper at the street corner. When I ask for his personal opinion on some brand or the other of a cosmetic or some other thing, he invariably says both are good. And if I ask why the difference in rates, he says he prefers the one with the lower rate and that his wife prefers the costlier one.”, the missus says.
The new phone rings insistently. We have got our phone changed recently. The older one was turning more and more hesitant and mellow perhaps in deference to our advancing age or its own. It did not take our growing hardness of hearing into its reckoning.
The call is from my sister-in-law, i.e., my brother’s spouse. She enquires as to when we were celebrating the birth day of Ramayya, ” Dad Rama.”
I tell her that for smartas it was Satur Day. It was for her to know whether she was smarta or not.
She laughs and declares that she was smarter. She would celebrate Dad Rama’s wedding and birth day on Satur Day. It is customary to celebrate the wedding of The Great Man ( Maryada Purushottam) on his birth day as it is so with any deity.
The phone rings again insistently and before I manage to reach it, more insistently.
I chide it to be quiet, does it think I was turning deaf?
The call is from Sankar, my co-brother, I.e. the hubby of the sister of the missus.
Sankar has built a modest temple for Shirdi Sai Baba on land belonging to him on the outskirts of the city. Owing to his indefatigable will, perseverance and enthusiasm, despite his limited means, the temple has been developing steadily if slowly. But he says that it was indeed The Baba who was accomplishing all that through the medium of his humble servant.
The Shirdi Sai Baba was a muslim mendicant, whom both the Muslims and the Hindus regarded as a saint while he was still alive. But after he died he steadily attained the stature of a manifestation of God. Temples dedicated to him small or big, have been burgeoning all across the country. However I have a feeling that the steep growth in enthusiasm for this saint among the hindus is in quite contrast to the dwindling allure among his muslim brethren for him. I may be wrong.
While he was alive, the followers of the saint were wont to celebrate the Hindu festivals like Sri Rama Navami and Dussera under his active supervision. In line with this tradition, Sankar is organising the celebration of Sri Rama’s birth day and wedding at the Sai Baba temple he had built. The festivities, I find, include besides the wedding, dispensation of Vada Pappu, Panakam and Lunch, as Rama’s prasad, (blessed food or eatable) to the devotees.
The temple is far off from where we live. It would be tiresome to go there and take part in the festival in this blistering spring. But keeping the never faltering enthusiasm of the missus for such events despite her delicate health, I readily agree to attend.
As a Telugu saying goes, “Devudi pelliki andaru peddale.” i.e. When the wedding is of The Lord, every one presides. True, but we found that we were more elder than practically all others in the congregation dominated by a lot of enthusiastic young couples, couple-hopefuls, adolescents and children in their Sun Day finery who conducted the wedding of the Divine Couple with elan. They have invoked Janaka, Dasaratha, Vatatmaja, Soumitri, Satrughna and a host others including bigger divinities to take part in the great event. An improptu orchestra group from the neighbourhood rendered songs on the divine couple with an old harmonium and dholak playing along. It was a bit raucous but does it matter ?
The missus was tired when we returned home but radiantly happy to have presided over the wedding of her Divine Parents
For, as Tyaga Raja declares in his great Vasantha raga number ” Seethamma maayamma, Sree Ramudu maku tandri.”, – Seethamma is our mother and Sree Ramudu is our dad.