For the Great Friday – A Greek Carol

Notice the specific mention of a gypsy. Such things made them the regular stuff of persecution all over.

The Panaghia sits alone, alone she sits and lonely ;
She prays, and all her prayers are for her only Son beloved.
A noise she hears, and tumult loud, and very great confusion ;
And forth she comes outside her door, and from her street she sallies.
She sees the Heavens darkened o’er, and sees the Stars all tearful ;
She sees the bright Moon in the sky, in tears the dear Moon swimming ;
St. John she sees, who comes to her, he weeps, his breast he’s beating.
And in one hand he holds the hair torn from his head in anguish,
The other holds a handkerchief that with his tears is dripping.
‘Now tell me, tell me, my St. John, O my St. John, now tell me,
Hast thou not seen mine only Son, hast thou not seen thy Teacher?’
‘I have no mouth to tell of it, nor lips have I to speak it !
Nor can my breaking heart endure to share with thee the tidings ;
But, as thou askest me of this, so let me even tell thee.
See’st thou that hill, see’st thou that hill, that hill both broad and lofty ?
There have the Hebrews thrust Him forth, thrust Him all bound and pinioned ;
Laid hands on Him as on a thief, and as a murderer led Him.’
And when our Lady heard these words she swooned away and fainted.
They jars of water poured on her, three jars of musk they emptied,
And afterwards rose-water sweet, until she was recovered.
And when our Lady spake again, these were the words she uttered :
‘Let Martha come, and Mary come, Elizabeth come with them,
Let them come where He may be found before they crucify Him,
Before they thrust the nails in Him, before they yet have slain Him !’
As they were journeying on the road, and on the road were passing,
Long time our Lady wept, she wept, long time was she lamenting.
And by a Gipsy smith they passed, a smith who nails was making.
‘Thou dog, thou Gipsy dog,’ 1 said she, ‘ what is it thou art doing ?’
‘They’re going to crucify a man, and I the nails am making.
They only ordered three of me, but five I mean to make them ;
Two for his two knees I design, two for his hands I fashion,
The fifth, the sharpest of the five, within his heart shall enter.’
‘Thou dog, thou Gipsy dog,’ said she, ‘ henceforth make thou no ashes.
If thou henceforth shalt ashes make, the wind shall whirl them from thee.’
And then her way she took again unto the Door of Robbers.
The doors were fast shut every one, they fastened were with boulders ;
But from their fear they opened wide, all of themselves they opened,
And entered there our Lady in, with tears and lamentation.
There stood the Hebrews all around, they all around were standing,
One spat on Him, one water threw, and mocked at Him another.
She saw her Son upon the Cross, upon the Cross beheld Him:
‘Is there no knife to kill me with, no cord that I may hang me ?’
And from her Son the answer came, and from the Cross He answered :
‘My Mother, shouldst thou slay thyself, then all the world would slay them.
Have patience, Mana ; then, like thee, will all the world have patience.’
‘Tell me, my Son, O tell to me, say when may I expect Thee ?’
‘On Easter Day, on Easter Day, the Lord’s Day and the Sabbath.
Go, Mana, go now, to our door, return among our neighbours,
Spread in the midst a table low, within our dwelling spread it,
With mothers let the children eat, and children with their mothers,
And there let all the goodwives eat, they with their worthy husbands ;
Let all who love us there sit down, all who for us feel sorrow.’


January First as New Year Day

How many of us know that Jan 1 is new year because that’s the day on which Jesus Christ was circumcised? There was an utter confusion with regard to new year between 12th and 15th century, with the most standard dates being
1 Jan – Roman New Year and the day of circumcision of Jesus Christ
1 Mar – Venezian Style – the old Roman Calendar of 10 months
25 Mar – Annunciation Style – Date when Gabriel told Mary of her pregnancy. Also, Spring Equinox
Sep 1 – New year of the Byzantine Church. The date on which universe creation started
Dec 25 – Christmas Calendar. Also, Winter Solstice
Easter Style – Date changes with Easter – the first Sunday after the first full moon after Vernal Equinox
At some point, they need some sort of standardisation. They went for Circumcision Day – and that is clearly reflected from the name Circumcision Style and not Gregorian or Roman style. For example, For the people of England, the old calendar was called Annunciation Style starting on Mar 25 while the new one is called Circumcision Style.
So, what exactly is the story of this 1 Jan and why is it banned by church?
Initially, the Roman 10 month calendar started on 1 March. And when the two months were added, they were added at the end of the ten months. At some point, after the Romans started to appoint new Consuls, it became a sort of new year. Julius Caesar formalised it in 45 BC and it was called Julian Calendar – the year started with fresh Consuls. but, still, people followed the festivities according to the old calendar.
The church, seeing at the pagan celebrations for Jan 1 banned them and ordered the new year to be shifted. This set the ball rolling with everyone deciding on their new year.
One of the main reason for the ban is the pagan celebrities around the new year, with people gifting each other. But, the ban changed nothing – it fell during the birth celebrities and they didn’t stop gifting each other. That besides, it’s a celebration day – the day of circumcision.
And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcisedhe was called Jesusthe name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb – Luke 2:21
Due to this ban by the church, no one used 1 Jan as new year except in rare cases like that of Richard the Lionheart, that too, much later.
There is no clarity when Jan 1 was universally accepted as new year – it can be a slow adoption, kingdom after kingdom – nothing such regarding the date on which a new year is not mentioned in the papal bull Gregory issued, where he introduced his Gregorian Calendar.
What is this date’s fixation with Christianity? Initially, the Roman Catholics celebrated it as the Feast Day for Mother of God. But when the Byzantine dates started gaining ground, this day was celebrated simply as eighth day of Christmas and later, circumcision day as the focus needs to be shifted back to Jesus from Mary. It was celebrated as Feast of Circumcision of Jesus Christ or The Circumcision of the Lord and the Octave of the Nativity and from 1960, Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, and the Octave Day of the Nativity of the Lord, shifting the focus back to Mary.
What exactly triggered this?
Some accounts stated that Jesus’s foreskin after circumcision was preserved. Relics started appearing from the time of Charlemagne, with the first being gifted by Charlemagne himself to the then Pope during his coronation. The usual process followed – Charlemagne claimed an angel gifted it(probably, Irene of Byzantium brought it with her), some saint got a vision it’s true and was stashed in Rome. It was lost in the 1527 sack of Rome. This was found in Calcata and was worshipped there.
The other alternates, numbering 18 were located at Cathedral of Le Puy-en-Velay, Santiago de Compostela, Antwerp, Coulombs, Chartres, Besancon, Metz, Hildesheim, Charroux, Conques, Langres, Fecamp, and two in Auvergne, Antwerp in Brabant and other places. Some were lost, some were lost and found, some were authenticated and it was a riot of a confusion. A religious theologian Leo Allatius proposed that the foreskin ascended into heaven to become the rings of Saturn when the rings of Saturn were discovered.
When another foreskin was found in 1900 in France, the then Pope of Catholic Church freaked out and declared that anyone who talks about foreskin will be excommunicated. This foreskin business was formally closed when the Catholic Church changed the name of Jan 1 to Octave Day of the Nativity of the Lord, is the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, and also the commemoration of the conferral of the Most Holy Name of Jesus. In spite of that Calcata paraded the foreskin in a ceremony annually till 1983 when the foreskin was stolen. Slate Magazine hinted that the foreskin was seized by Vatican to stop this obscene spectacle but, there is no way to prove that.

Events Leading to Rebellion in Awadh, 1847-1857

This is an extract from the account of Mirza Muinuddin Hasan Ali Khan, the first Kotwal of Delhi appointed by the Mughal Empire during the rebellion. He puts much weight on the happenings in Awadh as a reason for the rebellion – it is interesting to notice that British saw a threat in the play things of a bored king, which led to the king actually getting bored and the government, haywire. In spite of that, the reason for annexation seems to be a very trivial thing – assertion of my right to pray over the law of the land. Though this account starts with assualt of a Faqir by Brahmins(notice the word Brahmin specifically – is it Brahmin or is it a generic word used by Hindu?) without telling at what the provocation. The anger arising out of the annexation and the loss of jobs – especially in the army seems to be the trigger for the rebellion, according to the author.

When Amjad Ali Shah Padshah, King of Lucknow, died in 1847, he was succeeded by Shah Wajid Ali, who devoted himself to the organization of the Army. Orders were issued that after morning prayer all the regiments in Lucknow were to parade daily at 5 a.m. The King was in the habit of taking command at the parade, dressed in the uniform of a general; he used to drill the troops for four or five hours daily. Furthermore, he issued an order that if he were absent from parade, except through necessities of the State, he was to be fined 2,000 rupees, to be distributed among the regiments in garrison. An equivalent fine was to be levied if any of the regiments were late on parade, and as a further punishment two regiments of infantry and a resalah of cavalry were to remain under arms the whole day.

This activity of the King created suspicion. The British Resident inquired the cause of his exertions in creating an army, and suggested to him that if he required forces for the protection of his province he should employ British troops, to be paid out of the revenues of Oude. The courtiers of his Court also advised him not to raise suspicion by his personal activity. The King, discouraged by these remonstrances, replied that he would employ himself in future with some other occupation, as his interest in his army was not approved of. Henceforward he began to neglect the affairs of the State, and took pleasure in debauchery. The former Minister, Findad Hossim Khan, was removed from his post, and Ali Tukf Khan, a man of good family, was appointed to succeed him. The King married the niece of his new Minister, and then his daughter. He left the management of all the affairs of State to Ali Tukf Khan.

From the neglect of his kingdom there arose results which man’s wisdom could not foresee. There was a Rajah, Dursham Sing by name, a nobleman of old family, the son of a Brahmin, Mahender Sing, a soldier by profession. This Dursham Sing had three sons — Buktour Sing, Durshin Sing, and Cholauka Sing. The eldest obtained the King’s favour and a title of nobility, as did also Durshin Sing. They also obtained appointments as “Chakladars.”

Durshin Sing next proceeded to force defaulting zemindars to draw out bills of sale of their property in his name. Thus he gradually formed for himself a large estate. His talook (property) adjoined a place called Hanumanjari, in the vicinity of Fyzabad, where there was a Mahommedan mosque which Durshin Sing annexed, together with its endowment.

Durshin had two sons, Hanuman Dull and Man Sing. These two men refused to allow the “Arjan” (call to prayer) to be sounded from the mosque. A few days later a travelling Moulvie, Fakir Hossein Shah, came to the mosque to pray, and not knowing of the prohibition, sounded the Arjan. The Brahmins of a neighbouring temple, hearing this, came to the mosque, assaulted the Moulvie, and taking from him the Koran which he held in his hands, threw it into a fire and burned it, and then drove the Moulvie out of the mosque.

The traveller went on his way to Lucknow, and told in the bazaars what had happened. It so happened that in the Hyderabad Mehalla ward of the city, the story interested a man called Hyder Khan, who lived there with his four brothers. All were soldiers in the service of the King. On hearing of the outrage, the two younger brothers offered to assist the Moulvie to obtain retribution for the insult to the Prophet. The three, in pursuance of their plan, returned to Hanumanjari, and the next day at the usual hour of prayer, they sounded the Arjan loudly and repeatedly. Brahmins came running to the mosque ; an altercation followed ; then a fight, in which the two soldiers were killed ; Hossein escaped, and returning to Lucknow, laid a complaint before the criminal court. The native judge, seeing that the case was likely to prove troublesome, put it aside. The Moulvie then appealed to one Syud Amir-Ali, Resident of Kasbeh Intaband, who bore a great reputation in the city as a holy and just man, and who had lived for many years as a recluse in a corner of the mosque at Kusbeh Amaitie. On hearing the story, he took up the Moulvie’s cause. He first called a public meeting at the mosque, and issued a Futwa (law decision) on the consequences of burning the Koran, and the murder of two zealous Mahommedans, who had fallen in defence of their religion. He then began to preach a jehad (holy war) in the streets of Lucknow, and in the adjoining country. He pointed out that there was a danger to the Mahommedan religion, and this excited and inflamed the public mind. Eventually he started for Hanumanjari with a large following of persons burning to revenge the insult offered to their religion. The matter came to the ears of the British Resident, who hastened to the King, and urged him to take immediate measures to allay the excitement. The King sent for Kadum Hossein, and urged him to use his influence to settle the matter amicably.

Hossein Bux and Mahommed Tyer Khan were deputed to bring back the Moulvie, who, however, refused to return. Nawab Ali Tuk Khan then suggested to the King that Bashir-ul-Dowlah should be sent to bring back the Moulvie. He agreed to go if justice were done, and threatened if it were not that he would join the Moulvie. The British Resident again urged the King to prevent widespread bloodshed, and impressed on him his responsibility.

Both the King and his Minister for the time forgot their anger with the Resident for his interference with the King’s military ardour, and consulted upon the measures necessary to suppress the impending trouble. They sent for Moulvie Kadim Hossein, a resident of Feringhee Mehal in Lucknow, a man of ability and position, and asked him to publish a contradictory Futwa, so as to cut away the ground from beneath the feet of those who desired war. The King also summoned Shah Hossein Bux and Mahommed Fakir Khan, and urged them to do all in their power to quiet the Moulvie ; but their efforts were fruitless. The Moulvie would listen to no terms other than that the Brahmins should be expelled from the Hanumanjari mosque, and the Mahommedans protected in the exercise of their ceremonials and prayers, and offenders punished in accordance with the laws of the Koran. Promises were made, but no steps were taken to fulfil them. The Moulvie remained at Lucknow for eight or ten days as the guest of Bashir-ul-Dowlah, who repeatedly urged upon the Vizier the fulfilment of his promise. The Moulvie then sent a message to the King that he would take the enforcement of justice into his own hands, and he returned to Hanumanjari after quarrelling with Bashir-ul-Dowlah for non-fulfilment of his promises. On this, the King ordered Colonel Barlow, who commanded the King’s troops, to take a regiment of Hindus only, and to stop the Moulvie by force, and if necessary he was to blow the Moulvie from a gun in case resistance was offered. The King’s soldiers were encamped four miles from the Moulvie’s camp. When the Moulvie attempted to march from Radii Maidan, Colonel Barton forbad his doing so and surrounded his camp.

Attacked by the Moulvie’s followers, the guns opened fire, and killed all of the assailants, many of the King’s troops falling also. The news of this engagement spread throughout Hindustan and was the forerunner of still greater events. Little by little evil thoughts were generated. The British Resident, impressed by numerous petitions against the grave oppressions to which the people were subjected, and convinced of the inability of the King to rule the province in the interests of his people, recommended annexation. It is singular to record that under a Mahommedan sovereign injustice should have been perpetrated in the matter of a mosque, and that the people should subsequently have arisen in rebellion against the British, to whom they appealed for justice and protection. On the 17th of February, 1856, the British annexed Oude. They little anticipated the result. Thousands of men in the service of the King were thereby thrown out of employment, and were deprived of the means of livelihood. The worse the administration had been, the greater was the multitude of soldiers, courtiers, police, and landholders, who had fattened on it.

Those who had petitioned the English for redress were the poor and the oppressed. But the oppressors saw in British rule their own suppression. Oude was the birthplace of the Purbeah race, and these feelings of dissatisfaction affected the whole Purbeah race in the service of the British Government. To the native mind the act of annexation was one of gross injustice, and provoked a universal desire for resistance.

The King, and all those connected with him, although bowing to the hand of fate, became henceforward the bitter enemies of the English. At this time there were stationed at Lucknow two regiments, the 19th and the 34th, which were in the pay of the English Government. They had frequent consultations together on the injustice of the step which had been taken, and on the resistance which should be offered, and the attempts which should be made to create a rebellion for the purpose of overthrowing the British authority. It so happened that at the time of the annual change of regiments in 1857 one of these two regiments was sent to Berampur, the other to Barrackpur. Both these regiments were full of bitterness towards the English Government, and from them letters were written to other Purbeah regiments. The 34th took the lead. These letters reminded every regiment of the ancient dynasties of Hindustan ; pointed out that the annexation of Oude had been followed by the disbandonment of the Oude army, for the second time since the connection of the English with Oude ; and showed that their place was being filled by the enlistment of Punjabis and Sikhs, and the formation of a Punjab army. The very bread had been torn out of the mouths of men who knew no other profession than that of the sword. The letters went on to say that further annexations might be expected, with little or no use for the native army. Thus was it pressed upon the Sepoys that they must rebel to reseat the ancient kings on their thrones, and drive the trespassers away. The welfare of the soldier caste required this ; the honour of their chiefs was at stake.

The proximity of these two regiments to each other enabled the conspirators to carry on a constant correspondence (the circulation of these letters being conducted with great secrecy), and frequent consultations ensued. By degrees it became known in native society which regiments were disaffected, and it began to be inculcated as a creed that every Purbeah must withdraw his friendship from the foreigner; must ignore his authority, and overthrow his rule. Although these sentiments had become national, the methods to be employed in carrying them into action were but indistinctly known when the actual outbreak occurred. When the rebellion had begun, the full force and significance of all that had preceded it became apparent, and men understood what it meant.

Kedarnath Movie – An Inspirational Idea

Very rarely you come up with plots like that of Kedarnath – nothing can stay in the path of love, even if it is power of god. This can be an inspiration to any number of plots on the same theme. Look at this, for example – another movie-worthy one.

Velankanni is the main Christian pilgrimage place in South India. Pious Christians from all over India come there to pray. Along with them, those Hindus who go to Kumbakonam or Thriuvarur also go there. It’s a place of perfect religious harmony.
Raghu is a cab driver who stays in Palakurichi. He is an orphan who faced severe hardships in his life before started operating a cab on rent. He generally operates in Kumbakonam Navagraha Temple circuit but he goes to Nagore and Velankanni on demand.
Joseph is a pious Christian who runs a residential hotel in Velankanni. His is a flourishing business and is a respectable name. He is from a village near Vedaranyam and he converted to Christianity after marrying a Christian girl. He daily goes to Church and is considered very pious. He had only one daughter Mary. The couple didn’t have a child for years after marriage and got a daughter after praying to God for years. She was the apple of the eye of their parents and was everything for them in their lives. What more can an average person ask for? A good, pious son-in-law to take care of their business and take care of them in their old age.
All stories don’t have a happy ending. Those were tense days in Tamil Nadu. Rumours are floating that Jayalalithaa passed away and one day, sensing riots, her college authorities shut down the college and asked the students to go home. And sadly, by the time the decision was taken, there was no transport available – neither was Joseph able to come to the college nor was there nor was Mary able to take shelter anywhere.
Somehow, she reached Nagore and was standing clueless on the road. Raghu dropped a party in Nagore and was desperate to reach home to avoid the troubles when he saw a lone girl standing on the road cluelessly. He asked if she wants to go somewhere. She was hesitant. But, seeing a mob entering the street, she suddenly jumped into his cab shivering. Raghu took her away from the mob into a calm area, bought her a cool drink and waited for her to be composed. She told she is from Velankanni and she is desperate to go home. Raghu stays on the other side and going to Velankanni means serious trouble for him. What should he choose? His life or the life of someone who trusted him? He bit the bullet. The journey from Nagore to Velankanni, just twenty kilometres was harrowing – trying to avoid mobs and it took three hours.
Those three hours of hardship changed their lives. While it taught them how to brave hardships, it also blossomed first love in them. Two teenagers sitting close to each other and sharing common feelings, it’s bound to create a binding between them.
The next two years, they ran the show surreptitiously – he picking her from college, small outings to a nearby beach, praying at a nearby temple or church and such. He had special love for the French era church in Karaikal.
Such things can’t be hidden for long. Her parents started sending a change in her – small ones. She is not ready to go out with them, she doesn’t visit the church regularly, doesn’t miss her college, picks a fight if Hindus are abused and such. Her parents thought it has got to do with her bodily harmonal changes and friends.
But, one day, when the cab driver dropped her at her house, Joseph sensed amiss – his daughter’s body language is not normal. It may be the same before, but he didn’t notice that. He got a doubt and put a tab on her. In a week, he got the confirmation.
His daughter is in love with a poor cab driver who doesn’t even have his own cab!! That besides, he is a Hindu!! How dare she? The whole world seems to collapse around him. He a pious Christian and his daughter loves a Hindu? Didn’t she find even a single Christian in the whole world? But, she is his only daughter. What to do?
Joseph prayed hard in the church. He didn’t speak with anyone for a week. He called his daughter and asked if Raghu will convert to Christianity to marry. Mary replied, I loved Raghu, why should his religion come in way? Is he visiting churches with me inspite of him being a Hindu not enough for you?
He accosted Raghu. He told Raghu, if he is ready to convert to Christianity, he will accept the marriage. Raghu asked, why does religion matter for marriage. In return, he asked, when you went for a love marriage, why did you convert to Christianity? Why didn’t you ask Mary’s mother to convert to Hinduism? Are you saying even your love is conditional? Being born a Hindu, how can you even ask another Hindu to convert to a different religion? Joseph understood he can’t win the argument. He changed the topic. How do you propose to take care of my daughter? Again, a similar and belligerent reply. What were you twenty years before and what are you now? When you were able to work hard and give a decent living to your family, why do you suppose I won’t be able to do it?
Joseph is dejected. Raghu’s argument is convincing. He decided to marry his daughter off and send them to a distant place. Maximum, what happens? He will have the blame his daughter eloped away. He is ready to live with that.
But, that’s not so. His wife is adamant. Either Raghu is a going to be a Christian or the marriage is off. On one side, his daughter is not budging and on the other side, his wife. Things started to turn akward. His wife asked the church elders to intervene. Nothing changed. She commissioned some goons to thrash Raghu. Joseph’s intervention was too late. He gave some money to Raghu and asked him to bide for time. He told, god will help you both.
Raghu understood that but Mary didn’t. She believed Raghu is not coming to visit her or rescue her because of the local Christian leaders. She attempted a suicide but was stopped. She cursed her god. “What sort of god are you who considers religion more than true love? If there is any true love in me, you will be humbled before everyone”.
Suddenly, there is a news. Cyclone Gaja which is supposed to hit Chennai swerved and is rushing towards Velankanni. Never in the history of India a religious structure faced such a wrath of nature. The main church of Velankanni is damaged severely and the idol of Jesus, the tallest in all Asia saw broken limbs. Joseph’s house and hotel, both were demolished.
Raghu was desperate. The news of the cyclone hitting Velankanni directly troubled him. He braved the winds and went to the place. Somehow, he reached Mary’s place. The front wall of their house was just collapsing when Raghu reached there. Raghu entered the debris and saved the family. Joseph was convinced. Raghu is the right choice for her daughter. But, Mary’s mother – the fanaticism. She was still against the marriage and goaded the people. Even in that climate, the people are more interested in killing Raghu than in saving whatever is left.
It was revolting to Joseph. What sort of people are they who are ready to kill in the name of religion? Do they really believe in Jesus or did they weave this fabric of intolerance themselves in the name of Jesus?He ordered Raghu to take his daughter away and live his own life while he will try to buy him some time. He gave his purse to his daughter and told her to withdraw all the cash from all the cards and throw the purse away to avoid being tracked.
While Raghu and Mary were going away from him, Joseph was standing in the road, staring into blankness in the direction the couple left, all alone in pouring rain with a resolve to stop those who are marching in that direction.