Wednesday, January 19, 2005

By the power of flimsy thread

As I was telling you the other day, I spent most of my sunday helping my disssstant relative in his grahapravesham. Most of the morning was spent in the puja, a pretty innocous affair where about 20-30 middle-aged men and women keep chattering and gossiping while the priest goes on with his mantras. Once in a while, he rings the bell a little too loudly and all of them in the room take the cue and listen to him for a while. 2 minutes and that's all their attention span can survive. And the whole ritual happens over and over again.

At the end of the puja, my uncle asked me to take care of some business that the priest wanted to finish. So, both of us went to the terrace; He looked in all directions, then at the water tank on top, looked at the skies for sometime and then at me and then at the tank again. The tank was placed on an elevation that was 6 feet high - he asked me climb that elevation first. I looked at him to see if he was joking - he wasn't! He then gave me a roll of thread and asked me to tie it around the tank. It was outrightly ridiculous and quite precarious - My only consolation was that since it was a three storeyed house noone can actually see me do it and if I do fall down, I wouldn't be alive to explain what happened. I waited till I got down and asked him the significance. Seems in the olden days, once the grahapravesham is over, they used to tie a thread around the entire house to safeguard it from evil. These days, as the house started getting bigger and bigger, they actually can't tie it around the house and hence, tie it around the water tank!! around the water tank -- for what -- for some lazy crow to shit on it? (no, not that tying it all around the house helps either!). We are ready to twist it, turn it and make it look completely absurd - but we can't do away with the ritual can we! What was shocking was that my uncle is quite a radical in many ways and I couldn't understand how he would believe in something like this. Asked my dad about it and promptly came the reply, "When you turn 45, get screwed enough, and spend 30 lakhs in building a house, you wouldn't think twice about doing something like that!"

I admit - make sense.


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