Dome: A Special Thing

Whether it is of Taj Mahal, Victoria Memorial or Humayun’s Tomb, I have always loved the domes. Most of the pictures which I took at these places were of those domes. Whenever I passed in front of a building with a dome, I had to take a clear look at it, because I have always considered them the most beautiful element as part of a building – other than those Gothic elements. Simply speaking, we would consider the dome was the half of a sphere. But such an architecture always gives an even more special feeling.

I wish to visit many buildings in the world with the domes, including the Pantheon, Santa Maria del Fiore, Saint Peter’s Basilica, Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Saint Gereon’s Basilica, Dome of the Rock, The Marble Church, Saint Basil’s Cathedral, and along with them all, Hagia Sofia, and the large number of buildings which was inspired by this Eastern Roman or Byzantine structure. The list is rather endless. Also among the buildings in India, I want to have a few names which are to be in a must visit list.

There are a few churches which I have noticed around here with those domes. None of them are that big in scope; these are the simpler ones. I believe that the largest dome I have seen until now is of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London. But the cutest dome which I have seen should be of the church on the way to Angamaly from Aluva – Saint Martin de Porres Church. It has been there for a long time, I can remember it back to those times when I first traveled on the NH 47. I first noticed it due to the dome, and it is good to have such a simple spiritual building on the side of a road which is a lot traveled.

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Saint Joseph’s Church on the side of the NH 47 at Karayamparambu should be one of those churches which can catch anybody’s attention. Situated on the way from Angamaly to Chalakudi, closer to the former, it can be seen if you are travelling from Kochi or from the Cochin Airport to Trichur or Northern Kerala. There are figures of the Apostles around the statue of Jesus Christ right in front of the dome. Inside the dome, light gets through the cupola on the sides of the wings of the Holy Spirit in the form of dove, which is a nice arrangement. It is surrounded by photos of the saints.

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Saint George Basilica at Angamaly stays as the symbol of a rich history of the town. It is one of the largest churches in South India, and has a nice cupola on the top too. There are images of the Apostles on the glasses of the dome, and if you look from the inside, you can see that the light also comes through the glasses with the pictues of Apostles painted on the glasses. You can also see the smaller domes at the front. The use of painted glasses can be seen throughout this church, and the light makes some wonderful reflections!

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Saint Joseph’s Cathedral can be seen at Muvattupuzha just before reaching the town while coming from Perumbavoor/Angamaly or returning. You can see the domes from some distance. The Malankara Catholic Cathedral has a total of five domes of which three are visible from a distance – the number five should be representing Jesus Christ and the Four Evangelists. This big onion domes are rather rare in the case of churches here – it is good because I won’t have to travel to Russia or parts of Eastern Europe to see them.

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Saint Thomas Church at Karumalloor on the way from Aluva to Paravoor, has a newer style of domes. It was rebuilt in the last few years, and even though it is not special in its architecture, the domes and the altar are worth having a look at. Having three domes in the front and the rest extending like a hall, there is some modern variety here, for there are domes, but none which reminds one of the antiquity. We do keep looking for some variety everywhere, don’t we? Well, here is one.

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***The images used in this blog post were taken by me on my Sony Cybershot Camera.

TeNy

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Religion and Love

There might be a lot of people who have achieved more, and a good number of them got the potential to reach the summit of greatness like nobody else – it is the quality of the list of people related to #WillOfSteel by JSW that makes us feel proud of our fellow countrymen at the first look. But then there is the realization about what we really want. Above all, what comes to the mind is more about what the nation needs than anything else. It is not people who make a lot of money or those who become famous for being good at a random thing – it is more.

Each and everyday that we spend on Facebook or the internet as a whole has become more of a curse, and it continues like there is no end. There are more hate messages than there is the true essence of any religion. Everyone has their own idea of bringing hatred, and they go on with the same. People hate all who spread the message of love just because they are of another religion, and we know how the venom spreads when some people opens their mouth.

Therefore, Krishnadas becomes the man whom the nation really needs and should inspire a lot more with the message “Follow your religion, love everybody”. He has spread the message for years as he stands at the centre of the busy street holding the placard having the message; also leaving something for the people who visit the beach. With a few declarations which have been made in the recent days, I would expect the intolerance to rise to a new level and people are going to be doubtful about the other religions. Some worship centres are going to be closed to others due to fear of mob violence, and some devotees are going to avoid certain places of worship due to fear of the same. This is where people like him can do wonders.

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When we wander through the dark realms of the internet, we see those high achievers and those men with lots of money, education and fame that make ridiculous speeches spreading hatred against other religions. Then we have this man who spreads love in the name of all religions to everyone alike. If your religion is not love and kindness, but hatred for other religions, you need to rethink in the name of any God which you follow – is this what your God has taught you? If hatred comes free with some people, you have to wonder what kind of devotees they are.

Some people bring the past to hate other religions, but if you do repeat what has been happening in the past in present modern age, it only gets worse in your case. It doesn’t get any better, and extremism in the modern world of globalization is plain stupid, no matter how much you can fool people. The world has changed, and it is time for people to stop going through the Dark Ages again. Yes, some people need to be reminded of love very often and may be we can have this written everywhere! This is actually with a potential for the end of religious terrorism that we have here!

What we need are people like him, not politicians who divide us in the name of religion, caste and many other things. We need educated people who understand the true meaning of religions, and spread the message of love. We don’t need the religious leaders who spend their time talking about how bad the other religions are, and we don’t need those who care about others only after looking at what has been filled in the “religion” column. Yes, love people regardless of their religion – why is it so difficult these days?

Well, all we see on the road these days are religious processions and political protesters on the roads, but it is so difficult to spread love. May this man’s #WillOfSteel be inspiration to many, and work as a device for not hating other religions just because some of those so called “leaders” say so. If anyone comes close to being a true sage these days, it is him. We need someone like him everywhere as we always see the loss of respect towards other cultures and religions. People need to know that being Indian is beyond religions. This man is more than just a sign, because his sign is the new hope. He has #WillOfSteel.

I’m voting for Krishnadas’ #WillOfSteel and blogging on BlogAdda to help him get felicitated and eventually enabled by JSW.

***The image used in this blog post is from the BlogAdda page related to the same.

TeNy

Conversion or Transformation?

Dark Eldar: No, you can’t take care of our dying. It is not fair. As the leader of all eldar kind, I prohibit the same. I have even prepared a long list of the things that I don’t allow and published it as a book. You can buy it from the book shop for three hundred and ninety nine gold coins.

Vampire Bat: What? Why? We have come all the way to the other world after going through twenty four portals of hell just to take care of these people, especially of your uncle and your grandfather.

Dark Eldar: We are the eldars, the oldest group of people in the world. We have doubts that our people will be converted from our worship of coffee to your religion of tea, which is unacceptable. May be you are terrorists too, how can we be sure as you worship something else?

Vampire Bat: You are accusing us of conversion and terrorism just because we belong to another religion?

Dark Eldar: Yes, we eldars are very much an elder race. We are so old and awesome that it amazes me.

Vampire Owl: I think he is dead.

Dark Eldar: No, don’t touch him; wait, yes you can touch him and try healing without converting. No vampire conversions here.

Vampire Bat: It is a vampire transformation. Not conversion. It is also done by biting. What is wrong with you people?

Vampire Owl: Yes, he is dead. Congratulations.

[A team of people armed with claws and swords comes in, and the eldars get their wand-guns and knives ready].

Vampire Crocodile: Is that a werewolf?

Eldars have advanced weaponry, but still your hostile neighborhood extremists.

Eldars have advanced weaponry, but they are still your hostile neighborhood extremists.

Werewolf Anger: I am the leader of Werewolf South Squadron 47. You can call me Anger.

Vampire Owl: I could have easily guessed that name. You look very angry. But are the werewolves always very angry? So I wouldn’t consider that a nice name for a werewolf standing among many werewolves. I can call you all with the name Anger.

Werewolf Anger: Forget my name. You can call me Master Tintu instead. I am here for the dead grandfather. Any questions?

Vampire Crocodile: What do they call you when you are not angry? It is unfair to call you angry when you are slightly less angry because when compared to the standard werewolf anger, that should be too less to be officially called anger.

Werewolf Anger: What? I hate these religious fundamentalists who are not of my religion. We, the worshippers of lime juice are offended by the tea and coffee drinkers. Now, any questions which are not related to my name or any type of anger?

Dark Eldar: I am not going to ask any questions. See, my dear fellow eldars; he is too stupid, like an eldar without his magic wand. He doesn’t even know that this is our dead body.

Werewolf Anger: How can you say that? No, this is our dead body.

Dark Eldar: Shut up. This is our dead body. Ours, ours, ours.

Vampire Bat: One question. Isn’t this actually the dead person’s dead body?

Vampire Crocodile: Wow! What a question. This is why I have joined the vampire team.

Dark Eldar: He is our great grandfather. How can his dead body be not ours? He is a martyr for our Great Eldar Religion.

Werewolf Anger: No, he was bitten by a werewolf last night. He was going to convert into a hybrid werewolf tonight. So, he is our dead body, and the martyr of the Legendary Werewolf Religion.

Vampire Bat: Why do you people keep using the word conversion? People transform into vampires, werewolves and even eldars.

Dark Eldar: Dude, it is the new trend. If we say conversion, things sound pretty cool.

Werewolf Anger: Your grandfather was going for a homecoming, Mr. Eldar. Accept it. He has a bloodline of werewolves through his mother’s side.

Dark Eldar: Forced conversion! He had already returned home with the “home return programme”. You bit him and tried to convert him, you religious fundamentalists of lime juice.

Werewolf Anger: He came to us and asked to convert him. This is voluntary conversion. It is you who do forcible conversions.

Dark Eldar: No, we take only those people who were always ours; its a re-conversion.

Werewolf Anger: Nonsense. We have copyright for all re-conversions in all known dimensions of the Southern Realm.

Dark Eldar: Do you remember what happened at Satyrisya?

Werewolves are always ready to pounce on others, just waiting for the right opportunity.

Werewolves are always ready to pounce on others, just waiting for the right opportunity.

Werewolf Anger: Don’t you dare to say even one word about Satyrisya.

Dark Eldar: Why? Did you receive Satyrisya as a reward for forcibly converting all the poor satyrs of the Ting-tong forests?

Vampire Bat: People with brains have the tendency to explore other religions. Intellectual people can’t stay at a point and blindly follow the ideas of just one religion and surely can’t stand its extremists who come up with hate speech. Conversion is one’s personal decision. Why are you so much bothered about it when it happens between almost all big enough religions?

Werewolf Anger: I am Anger.

Vampire Crododile: Everybody knows that already.

Werewolf Anger: I am just saying that to remind myself about it as I was brainwashed by religious fundamentalists and got some major memory problems. I am just left with one doubt – is it eating potato chips that we have banned or was it about tapioca chips? I am actually kind of hungry angry.

[A group of zombies enter through the window].

Lich Queen: Am I late? My zombie minions wanted to have ice cream on the way. I am looking for a dead grandfather.

Vampire Bat: Meet Miss Lichie, the Great Queen of the zombie underworld. They believe in ice cream and its greatness.

Vampire Owl: I have just received the text message that a group of mutants are heading this way, lead by a Professor XYZ. They are holding flags with beer cans printed on them.

Vampire Crocodile: Damn. Here we go again.

*A few parts of some dialogues were inspired by the Malayalam movie Sandhesam, the best political satire ever produced in India and the flick is also part of IBN Live’s list of greatest Indian films of all time. ***Please don’t consider this as anti-religion, but as anti-extremist concerning the haters. This is exactly how you sound like when you fight over religion – please don’t discriminate by religion and pray to God that you may be granted the wisdom to know about the same and love your fellow human beings! *The images used in this blog post are from http://hdwallpapersfactory.com/

TeNy

A Little More Divinity

Here is another flashback of my spiritual journeys that go back a few years to a season of Honda Unicorn. I have my doubts if churches can be called “cute”, but here are a few of them if they can really be called so. All of them are from Kerala, and have left a permanent mark despite their small sizes and in spite of not being that famous. This is the season of Lent, and I would consider a few more of the abodes of God can only do good. After all, I am one of those very few unlucky people who always have their birthdays during the time of Lent.

Christ Church, Munnar: Belonging to Church of South India and having a history of over one hundred years, this one goes back to the people of the tea who had arrived here in relation with the tea plantations of Munnar from Britain. The stone laid in on 11th March, 1910, this church is really well-maintained and you can have a very good view of the hilly town from here, which is beautiful, only to be challenged by the beauty of the church itself. You can see India’s colonial past and understand that this one has a lot of stories to tell.

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Church of Our Lady of Hope, Vypin: Located at the island of Vypin, which forms a part and is connected to the city of Kochi by the group of Goshree bridges, this is a small church which has the lake directly in front of it, and makes a very beautiful view if you are looking from the other side of the water body. There is a lawn, a cross and a grotto in front of this white church building, and also a number of Chinese nets and some huge trees which give enough to shades to have some spiritual rest.

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St. Sebastian’s Church, Thoppumpady: The new bridge which was built at Thoppumpady made sure that you can only travel to Fort Cochin and Mattanchery through the road which goes on the side of this church. This is a protected monument by the archeology department and the renovation works were delayed as it couldn’t be done without permission – it has been renovated now, and the photo that I have is from before that. Its antiquity is its beauty, and there is also the lake on the back-side with a nice view of the historical Harbour Bridge.

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Holy Cross Church, Mattanchery: More of a shrine than a church, this is a pilgrimage centre with historical significance. There is the presence of a small church-like area inside it though. It tells the tale of the historic oath which was made by the members of the Saint Thomas Christian community of Kerala that they would not submit to the rising Portuguese dominance which have been trying to forcibily Latinize the local Christian community that had existed with the Indianized version even before Christianity spread through Europe.

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St. Mary’s Church, Njarakkal: A part and a major centre of Vypin that I had earlier mentioned, this church at Njarakkal is not that different from Church of Our Lady of Hope in its architecture, but can still claim an identity of its own. It has more space inside the structure and also has very beautiful and traditional altar. The style is just like a number of older churches built at that time and having the feeling of being very old, but the renovations have made sure that it stays beautiful and worth the admiration.

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***I wish to leave the total statistics related to the number of the churches I have visited since 2009. The first one is the district-wise division, second on the list outside Kerala and third on the churches visited outside India. The only two districts missing are Kasargode and Malappuram. The districts might not be exact as I have my doubt about the borders, but the numbers are exact. *The photos used in this blog post are those taken by me on my Sony Cybershot DSC W-310 only.
(Ernakulam-174, Kottayam-69, Thrissur-39, Alappuzha-29, Pathanamthitta-17, Kollam-9, Kozhikode-7, Idukki-13, Kannur-4, Trivandrum-4, Wayanad-4, Palakkad-3)
(Tamil Nadu-59, Pondicherry-11, West Bengal-11, Karnataka-8)
(England-41, Scotland-9, Sri Lanka-8)

TeNy

The Vision of a Lost Bat

Dracula was lead to that new world which was set on the newly baptized Planet Vampiris by the Vampire Bat. It was just recently discovered after the Vampire Bat teleported himself through a worm hole which had opened near Pluto during a superhuman vampiric abilities test conducted under the supervision of Doctor Frankenstein. It was considered a failed experiment until the Vampire Bat managed to contact Dracula through the intergalactic telepathy procedure which worked during its test experiment itself.

Dracula was lead through the first city of the newly civilized planet. The humanoids who selected the Vampire Bat as the leader were present everywhere. It was the “City of Righteous Spirituality” to be visited first. There were people worshipping different religions, and they were living in mutual respect and harmony. Those people who had nothing to believe in, and were fighting each other, had been transformed. There were non-believers among them who tried to make these believers of different deities fight each other, but that was solved by the ultimate realization that the God is indeed one, no matter by what name he is called.

There are always difficulties in creating new worlds, but nothing like the inherent evil

There are always difficulties in creating new worlds, but nothing like the inherent evil

Then there was the “City of Eternal Wisdom” which took care of all needs of knowledge. There was the ultimate realization that only by knowledge and wisdom that the world can be changed for the better. Always acquiring knowledge and helping other cities with their needs, this city is the brain of the new world, like the former was the heart. The best people were trained here in various categories without inequality, as each and every subject as well as job was equal. Nobody was forced to be an engineer or doctor, and the profession in demand was that of a helper, a class which was present everywhere, selfless and caring.

As Dracula wished to have a drink, they started with a restaurant at the “City of Striving Legends”, which had people working hard to make things better for the other cities. It was the city of industries, and people earned according to how much they worked, and everyone who wanted a job was sure to get one here. There was no unemployment as this city was there to provide support. This restaurant itself was started for the industrial workers, and the basic food was always available free here, and they also made sure that there was no poverty by sending food to all the other cities.

There is no lack of grandeur within the cities, but the soul remains simple

There is no lack of grandeur within the cities, but the soul remains simple as it can be

They passed through one of the cities where they didn’t stop. It was the “City of Unlimited Compassion”, where the people with diseases were taken care of by healers. The medical care was free here, as half of the earnings of almost every person belonging to this civilization went here. Nobody needed to buy a Ferrari’s equivalent or a bloody supercomputer or mobile. Everybody wanted to help, and this was a place where Dracula only wanted to visit after he had come up with a certain amount for donation. There were no evil people in this world, but those who had chosen to be bad were sent here to help.

They stopped at the “City of Ultimate Courage” then. There were the best trained people of the whole civilization who always dared to rise above fear. The big wall on one side of the city was meant to be used for training and it was also the city which was close to a possible natural disaster which lurked on the other side of the wall. But the ones here were dauntless and were ready to stop any lesser disasters and save their people from any problem. They also acted as part-time law enforcers, as law was obeyed most of the time.

“What about the reservation?” asked Dracula. The Vampire Bat replied that there is none, as everyone is equal, and stealing education and jobs is not the style here. “We are not a society that is based on divisions and selfishness, but we live for the other” added the Vampire Bat. Dracula had a deep thought about it. As he wondered about this new world and its possibilities, there was that moment when I turned around and told Dracula: “I am the Vampire Bat, and here’s the world which I remade, away from the known universe!”

I am participating in the #TheWorldRemade activity at BlogAdda in association with India Today #Conclave15

***The images used in this blog post are from the Official Facebook Page of the video game, Mass Effect.

TeNy

The Spiritual Variety

As I have been thinking about variety, there are a number of churches which come to mind – those which would seem like small structures, but manages to catch our attention with a certain amount of difference with their looks, as they are combined with beauty and spirituality in the right manner. Here are a few of those smaller, but beautiful structures which I wish to share here – all of them from Kerala, and to be more exact – from the Ernakulam district except for the first one in the special mention.

1. St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Muvattupuzha: On the way to Muvattupuzha from Perumbavoor, the dome of this beautiful structure catches our attention from a distance. The photo was taken before the church work for the rebuilding was complete and so it looks even better now. Unlike the other churches around here with a dome, this one has onion domes of different sizes. It reminds me of Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, and whenever I dream of traveling to Russia with all the churches with similar domes, I look at this cathedral and be happy, telling myself that I shall see more of it 😀

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2. St. Joseph Church, Karayamparambu (Angamaly): I have waited very long for this church to complete its renovation or rather rebuilding. After the process, this surely looks like a structure that you can’t miss while traveling from Cochin to Trichur on the National Highway 47 connecting Salem and Kanyakumari, just after Angamaly, on the way to Chalakudi. It has a very beautiful altar and you have to look under that beautiful dome right after you enter. There is a lot of nice imagery surrounding the dove as the Holy Spirit. A small structure here, but still so Herculean in its beauty.

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3. St. Xavier’s Church, Aluva: This rebuilt church at Alwaye has been my favourite church to attend a Holy Mass for quite a long time. They have the English Mass too, and what catches one’s attention more than anything else are those glass paintings which are around the altar and beyond. The saints are there, and so is the representation of the scriptures. The crucifix image is also different and catching our attention – there is a lot of spiritual feeling with the evening programs as the lights enter through the glasses. It is the major reason why I go for the evening mass too.

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4. St. Thomas Church, Chowara (Aluva): Unlike what people think, Aluva surely has some of the most beautiful churches, scattered around the town and its outskirts, mostly Syro-Malabar and Latin in rite. It has a mixed design, and inside, part of the old altar is preserved. The floor has wood as well as tiles, and the option of AC is also there. The imagery is nice and so are the surroundings. You can see the top of the church building from quite a distance and is located just before the town when coming from Aluva on the route to Sreemoolanagaram/Kanjoor.

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5. St. Thomas Church, Karumalloor (Paravur): With all the lights inside switched on at night and shining in the darkness around, I have found this one a very special structure. You can easily notice the beauty if you have travelled through the route at night. With some very effective lighting, the church has some simpler and yet effective imagery inside. The lighting as well as the borders and colour combinations make the images more beautiful. There are also some nice work on the glasses, even as they are lesser in number. This is on the right side while you travel from Aluva to Paravur.

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Older churches: Special Mention:
St. Thomas Church, Palayur: This church founded by Saint Thomas the Apostle in 52 AD is believed to be the first Church and thus the oldest standing Christian worship place in India. Connected to many ancient trading centres through rivers and lakes, and with the existence of ancient Jewish settlements, this had become a perfect place to find the church, and this structure maintains the ancient Kerala architecture even with a lot of additions being made to it. It has a Saint Thomas Monument and a museum too.

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St. Francis Church, Fort Kochi: Here is the oldest European church in India, and its antiquity is actually easily visible from a distance. Vasco da Gama died in Kochi in the year 1524 and was buried in this church before his remains were moved to Lisbon, Portugal. The structure has a great historical significance, as it was a witness to the colonial battles for supremacy and a long lasting symbol of India’s colonial past. There are a few things of interest inside the church, but as photography is not allowed inside, I have no pictures.

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***All the images used in this blog post are from my camera (Sony Cybershot DSC W-310).

TeNy

A Special Ceylon Rewind

My journey to Ceylon is something that I rewind and play very often in my mind. There are many things that I was sure about, but one thing among them was that I had a fantastic time with the Ramayana Tour arranged by Riya Travels with the company of the newfound “spiritual uncles”, all of them who seemed to be above the age of sixty and myself being the not-so-little kid 😀 Here, I am sharing a few places that I wish to recollect – my little packages of joy.

10. The Ravana Ella: There have been a number of waterfalls during our journey through the high altitude areas of Ceylon, and among them, this waterfalls named after Ravana has the first say. This has a background story going back to Ramayana, and it is believed that Ravana hid Seetha in the caves behind this waterfalls.

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9. The Kandy Lake: This man-made lake is a beautiful sight to witness. Built by the last king of the place, Vikrama Rajasinha, before going under the British occupation, this is a nice place in the heart of the city, located next to the Temple of the Tooth. Here is one for your favourite lakes list.

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8. Hakgala Botanical Garden: Often connected to Ravana’s Ashoka Vatika in Ramayana, this is now a botanical garden with nice collection of trees, plants and flowers. The climate is nice and cold, with the place having some beautiful spots for taking photos. Yes, the tea is also around for us.

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7. St. Xavier’s Church, Nuwara Eliya: A walk through the cool climate of the place felt good, and during one of those walks through the hilly town, we came across this church, and an attempt to enter with chappals left on the outside almost lead to the freezing effect. The structure is nicely built and things were nicely arranged.

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6. St. Anthony’s Church, Bandarawela: When we were wandering around the town with lots of spare time having nothing else to do, we found out this hidden gem. It was not a big structure, but managed to be different in its style. It is located at a higher area of the town, and with its attractive looks, has a calm atmosphere.

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5. Seetha Amman Temple, Seetha Eliya: This is where Ravana is supposed to have hidden Seetha after abducting her. It is not a big town or anything, but a peaceful place which seems to have its own spiritual significance for anyone who wishes for some serenity during their journey. This a small, but beautiful structure which stretches from the rocks below to the heights of the road.

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4. The Negombo Beaches: We didn’t have much to spend at Colombo, and therefore the adjustment was made whatever was left with the beaches of Negombo. There were some nice, beautiful scenery there, and some spots which reminds us of home, in an extremely positive manner. There was a lot of Kerala at parts of Negombo, and I didn’t feel away from home at all.

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3. Mackwoods Labookellie Tea Factory, Nuwara Eliya: Providing us with breath-taking scenery of the tea plantations and also for providing us with the much needed awesome tea, the cold climate contributes with a sudden blow of wind which takes out breath away and then we realized that we need to drink more tea.

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2. Temple of the Tooth, Kandy: A royal palace and a temple complex, with the sacred relic of the tooth of Buddha – I don’t think that it could get any better on that trip. It was actually the first Buddhist temple I had ever visited, if my memory is correct; and yes it was not like anything I had seen before.

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1. The Kelaniya Temple: This is where our journey ended, as we went directly to the airporty at Colombo after the visit here. The temple takes us back to the time of the final visit of Buddha to Sri Lanka. It has wonderful paintings and sculptures all around, and special mention is needed for the reclining Buddha. The paintings show the life of the Buddha, incidents related to Buddhism in Sri Lanka, also a few things from the Jataka tales.

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*The photos used in this blog post are all taken by me using a Sony Cybershot DSC-W310 and a Sony Cybershot DSC-W180 – had two cameras with me in case one gave me trouble 😀

TeNy

What Remains of Christmas

*I would like to begin this post with a statutory warning which has been issued by Uncle Dracula in association with the whole vampire community and a message from Simona the Lionhearted. She asks everyone to wear your helmets during this Christmas, and not to drink too much that you might end up forgetting your helmet, as it is not too different from forgetting the significance of your head. Simona loves her helmet and prefers to save herself inside it, a lesson for all the humans to learn. Use your helmet, no matter what 😀

Simona likes helmets and chooses to save herself. Do you? :D

Simona likes helmets and chooses to save herself from those possible injuries. Do you? 😀

Now, what can I say about Christmas? I doubt its existence as the big thing that it used to be. It still exists for me because it needs to. There is the loss of power of celebration that I associate with a number of festivals, and I can do the same with Christmas. I haven’t really seen a Christmas carol for ages. But no, this is not a festival that you can let go that easily. Unlike the others, this one keeps coming back, and the best reason for the same may be the time of the festival. May be there should have been full power snow here – that should have worked a lot better.

Christmas has had its charms during the childhood days. There was Santa Claus, and there was hope; even as nobody really gave me the presents; none of those self-proclaimed loving uncles or aunties – not even the big cousin-brothers, when I have seen my dad giving to the relatives, and a lot of my friends receiving from their uncles. Nobody even gave me five rupees to buy black tea. But I still believed at that time, because others did receive, and I thought Santa Claus might give something to me directly.

Every year of not receiving anything, the level of that hope comes down. Now, we are left with the absence of Santa Claus as well as that hope. As it is said in the end of the movie, The Polar Express, “At one time most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I’ve grown old the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe”.

The Christmas Crib there - prepared it again after more than fifteen years.

The Christmas Crib there – prepared it again after more than fifteen years for no reason.

We were all dreamers, but when we grow up and choose not to believe – I live in my doubts, created from the chaos that is in my mind. I have been that close to disbelief that I could never believe in anything anymore. Christmas had its magic, but it seems to be disappearing, just like all the traditions and those celebrations that we had. Who wants magic in the world of science, right? Who wants tradition when without it one can be free evil and do anything and everything? Then there are the saviours of traditions who rarely makes sense. There will always be non-believers who choose religion for material benefits.

We are left with people who celebrate the festivals for showing off, or for some random personal benefit. Everyone wishes to show the money power and the Merry Christmas is no longer merry. The only thing that comes with a certainty is its reverse, Remy Martin – people take this as another occasion to drink along with the hundreds that they have ever year, and it passes. Santa Claus gets stuck in the chimney with his reindeer sent to the slaughterhouse and nobody will care – thank God that Mahabali comes from the underworld; he only have to save himself from the pot-holes taking him back to his abode. We have gone on to become a selfish group of people, and every festival has gone on to reflect the same.

The star for Christmas - put it once again after a long time just because I could.

The star for Christmas – put it once again after a long time just because I could.

We have reduced faith in God and it has reflected in our love and care for people. The hatred that we see everyday is just too high. Some people think that it can be solved by converting people into one religion. They are as responsible for this as much as those without faith. We are being thrown into a world of mutual hatred, and it is getting only worse. Whatever happens, the fact remains that we are influenced by more than one religion in our life time, and we don’t belong to just one. Why would Santa want to come and receive the news about Peshawar? Why isn’t there the chance for every child to celebrate Christmas and get the presents? Isn’t there at least a chance for them to live?

We need all the customs and traditions, and we need each and every world religion with all those good things that they teach. The world needs all its beliefs because humanity was shaped by them. We need people to explore each of them, and understand the basic message of love. Lets do something good on this Christmas, and not publish it on Facebook. That would be a good idea. It will bring back a part of the magic of Christmas; lets give it to someone else who is in need. Lets do it irrespective of religion, and let no one take away our right to be good to people, not considering their backgrounds.

I shall keep my doubts, but all of you have a wonderful Christmas nevertheless 🙂

The decorations for the crib are from
I. Trinity Supermarket, Keezhilam
II. Pittappillil Stores, Kuruppampady
*Just mentioning because they proved effective and substantial in making the crib, something I did after a break of fifteen years or so.

TeNy

Finding Possible True Love

William Shakespeare, in his Sonnet Number 116, talks about rosy lips and cheeks. He tells his readers how insignificant the beauty of body is, in the case of true love. This actually takes the case of pre-marital sex away from the equation, and as a post-graduate in English Literature and an admirer of the literature of all times, I have always wondered about those lines from the Bard Of Avon. True love is not completely about beauty and sex, and pre-marital sex is something that defies the same. The media nowadays might think different, but lets not fall for that.

So, a question comes here. Is pre-marital sex in any way related to true love? I would say no. There is absolutely no need for such stuff in true love, because it is beyond all that. It is the superpower of true love. It extends and stays far above one of the most powerful thing among the Seven Deadly Sins – fornication; that is accomplished by true love with ease due to its power. It might be more difficult these days, but there are not many things that true love is not capable of. Ask any religion about this – all of them have been found for the good of humans, even as some people who are actually non-believers, take things out of the context.

Listen to what the great man says - is it too difficult to follow?

Listen to what the great man says, or at least try – is it too difficult to follow here?

True love’s existence itself is something that creates a leviathan of doubts. But saying no to pre-marital sex is a certainty. There is nothing to be doubtful about it because we have grown up in such a world, rich in its traditions and extravagant in its beliefs. We have been taught to say no to many things, and it has helped the righteousness grown strong in our world, which separates us from many other nations of the world. Do we need to descend into chaos? I wouldn’t want that, because we are civilization which has known righteousness and mutual respect since a very long time ago.

Take the case of the poem When You Are Old by William Butler Yeats. Our poet addresses it to his only love that was never fulfilled and tells her that he loves her not thinking about her physical features – he says “one man loved the pilgrim soul in you”. His love is not of random sexual desires which lead to pre-marital sex. It certainly has platonic elements, and the significance of the same is that his thoughts were free but still pure, and not thinking of pre-marital sex. Is it too difficult to listen to the most creative minds, and one of the best Ireland has ever had?

Poems about love - always helps one to believe in it, right?

Poems about love – always helps one to believe in it, right? Just wait till marriage.

The difference between true love and fake love is sex. It stands there between the two separating them, with the fake one taking on the pre-marital sex and the other one tells love to wait for marriage. There is a tug of war going on between the two and the question remains about why one can’t wait? True love waits, and impatience is many things, but not true love. What the lovers need to think about is if it is love or lust that takes over the romance. Is it the infatuation or is it eternal love that you have here – a doubt that is answered only by the existence of absence of pre-marital sex.

Those who support pre-marital sex clearly challenges the idea of true love and are responsible for its near extinction. They are also challenging the Indian culture for the Western tradition which used to be the same at some point of time, but has lost its purity due to giving too much freedom to its people. The freedom that we need is not the freedom of pre-marital sex and similar things, but the freedom to be good and fair. But the West has gone beyond that. Do we need to imitate them? The answer once again is no, except for a few good things.

There are poems, there is romance and there is true love.

There are poems, there is romance and there is true love – but no to pre-,marital sex.

Between all these, take some time to read Poonaam Uppal’s True Love – A Mystical True Love Story. This blog post is also part of the contest related to this work True Love – A Mystical True Love Story by Poonaam Uppal, in association with Indiblogger. Yes, true love needs to win, and it doesn’t need pre-marital sex. It needs trust in one another, and the faith that goes beyond all realms, for eternity. I am hoping to read Poonaam Uppal’s book and take that fictional journey from Las Vegas to the Great Himalayas. *In this post, I share the commonly used image of William Shakespeare from his wikipedia page along with two photos of beautiful poetic verses which I captured from the Botanical Garden of Ooty (all are cropped).

TeNy

The Path to Redemption

2009 saw the release of Solomon Kane, telling the tale of the rise of a hero, a protagonist who was different from the rest, and even his motives having a separate cause behind them. It has James Purefoy has the protagonist, a former mercenery seeking redemption. It came up with a great atmosphere, which was not scary, but still haunting, and its use of the elements like plague, demons, sorcery and swordfights without overdoing anything, is worth mentioning. It was one of those movies which came instantly into my favourites list.

Our hero is Solomon Kane, a ruthless man who has massacred innocents in war, and one day, captures a castle in North Africa where his men are taken away by demons from the mirror around, and he comes face to face against the Devil’s Reaper who is there to take his soul to hell for the terrible things he had done. But he rejects the fate that is put in front of him and jumps out into the sea to begin a life in hope for redemption.

You don't mess with Solomon Kane (Pic from movie's FB page)

You don’t mess with Solomon Kane (Pic from movie’s FB page)

He comes to believe that his hope for salvation will be attained by pacifism. But that would change when he is provided asylum by a family which is later slaughtered, and the young daughter of the family is taken by an evil sorcerer. There comes the alternate path for redemption, and we see that he says “There are many paths to redemption, not all of them peaceful”. From there, he travels a different path, not something that is unknown to him, but something that was there to be taken.

The world itself reflects the state of the protagonist’s mind. There is wasteland all around, with not much hope left for anyone. There is evil running through the world and goodness is rare to find. Demons ravage the world and the angels are nowhere to be found. Well, not that much different from the present world, but in the case of this movie world, it was clearly visible – in this century, even demons can act as angels really well and any possible angel is mistaken as a demon.

The name itself reminds us of two people, and we see the contrast there – the wise king who was Solomon, and the cursed human whom Cain ended up becoming, after slaying his sibling. These two personalities seem to exist in him, and it was only upto him to decide which one he had chosen to become. James Purefoy is a lot like the poor man’s Hugh Jackman, and here he is, like Hugh Jackman in Van Helsing – and that helps. Do look out for the yound Rachel Hurd-Wood as Meredith Crowthorn, the same person who played Sibyl Vane in 2009’s Dorian Gray, another character of innocence.

“If I kill you, I am bound for hell. It is a price I shall gladly pay” – this is what Solomon Kane would eventually come up with. The movie has no clear presence of God or the Devil, as there are only messengers to those beyond Earth. Devil himself chooses to send the Reaper rather than bringing himself or his trusted minions to Solomon Kane. Even the redemption of our protagonist is a story which seems to be never-ending, and only a few sequels can bring it to the finishing line. There is a lot left for humans to accomplish on Earth by themselves, and for the same, we might need help, but not new human gods.

Behold evil in all its glory (Pic from aceshowbiz)

Behold evil in all its glory (Pic from aceshowbiz)

Solomon Kane’s message is to react to the evil rather than let it thrive. It asks to act for the righteous and on the side of goodness rather than checking such things and thus seek redemption for the wrong that has been done. Even for the worst, there is the hope for redemption, even during the worst of times. The movie’s message remains strong as it has a strong protagonist played by a wonderful actor, and the atmosphere of the movie keeps the viewers interested in it. I loved the rain that kept pouring. This is a movie I choose to recommend highly. It deserves to be watched – for Solomon Kane didn’t get a release at this part of the world.

TeNy