The Buddha and Marigold

Meditative moments with the Buddha and the Marigolds

A Buddha image or a statue never fails to stop me in my tracks , captivate me and transport me to at least a few minutes of private contemplation even in a public place. Those few minutes are meditative , powerful enough to permeate my being with small bouts of serenity.

I was at a friend’s place for a party last night and was drawn to this figure of the Buddha in her living room even amidst boisterous conversations and a lot of gaiety. The lighting helped , or rather the meagre lighting helped , making it all at once dramatic and striking. I stood there transfixed for sometime , completely oblivious to the chatter of the party , my mind captured by the beauty of the Buddha , the subtle light of the lamps lending lambency and the almost silent trickle of water in the base that glistened and twinkled. The yellow marigolds only seemed to add a sense of worship to that corner of the room. I had to capture the visual beauty. Those few minutes were meditative.

So enraptured by this visual , I am certain to see this image in my mind’s eye every time I think of Buddha.

I was drawn to the yellow marigolds equally , backlit beautifully. I wondered if the flowers had been placed there for worship or for the purpose of decoration , could be both ! The hostess of the house is spiritually inclined and is a Bharatanatyam dancer along with being into wedding planning. That speaks for the aesthetics !

Lotus and marigold are two flowers primarily used to worship Buddha and decorate the place of his worship.

Marigolds symbolise auspiciousness in Hinduism. Yellow and orange also signify renunciation and are ‘the colours’ used during our rituals in various ways to signify surrender to the higher being. May I take you back to my earlier post Orange Glory the Colour of India in response to the Daily Post photo challenge  to bring home the point ?

More interesting would be what is often quoted as a significant reason to using marigold during worship in Hinduism. The flower has a stout , erect stalk , which sometimes makes it hard to pluck it from the plant. In fact , the Sanskrit name for marigold is ‘Sthulapushpa’ , which signifies exactly that.

It symbolizes trust and faith in the Divine and imbues the worshipper with a will to overcome obstacles along with the intent of surrender to the lord.

Some more in praise of the marigold. It is known to have protective properties. Marigold does not have a pleasant odour , unlike most other flowers and yet is used for worship and decoration. Wondering why ? The flower is often strung into a sort of a garland called the torana , hung above the doors of traditional Indian homes and the unpleasant odour is said to keep insects at bay. The same goes for worship-time. It keeps insects away from the place of worship and the idol.

Another instance from the past when I got rooted to the spot on beholding this Buddha in a terrace garden at another party. Another private moment of contemplation.

Fengshui Buddha

The Buddha for Fengshui

India , Thailand and Cambodia have several Buddhist monasteries all over ; have visited most of them. My mind is now set to tour Leh Ladakh , Tibet and Nepal. The Buddha calling ! Insha’Allah !

Guzzly evening turns Ghazal evening

Ghulam Ali Saab’s Bin Baarish Barsaat Na Hogi

There was promise of a rocking weekend. But it turned somber. In support of a few friends , who had to battle accidents and ailments , parties were called off and as we sat dwelling on the uncertainties of life , listened to music that went with the mood. It rocked my weekened in its own way and has lingered in my mind since…….

Listen to this lovely ‘ghazal’ , a rendering by the legendary Ustad Ghulam Ali Saab. Pours his heart out as he likens his tears to a torrent of rain on a lonely night and chides his beloved that has forsaken him. Taking you along his path of unrequited love in his signature style of combining melody with technique , that quintessential ‘ghazal’ style.

People from India , Pakistan and Middle Eastern countries are all so familiar with ghazals and music lovers of these regions have spent many a lovely evening attending ghazal concerts or listening to the melodies with friends and family over a drink or two. For those , ghazals are foreign to , here we go :

Ghazal is a poetic form , consisting of rhyming couplets and a refrain , each line sharing the same meter. And it traditionally deals with one subject : Love. Its either ‘in love’ or ‘out of love’ ! The sublimity of ghazals lies in the poetic expression of both , the ecstasy of love fulfilled or the pain of loss or separation and the beauty of love in spite of that pain ! Unconditional love , celebrated , in other words !

A beloved that is unattainable , a beloved that does not reciprocate the poet’s love or returns it shorn of sincerity , or in cases where society and circumstances do not allow the coming together of two lovers , is the subject of almost every ghazal. And yet , the lover continues loving …….

This ancient form of poetry originated in ancient Arabia and the term ghazal is of Middle Eastern origin. The Sufi mystics and the courts of the Islamic Sultanate introduced ghazals to South Asia in the 12th century. Such intense emotions set to lilting tunes that sometimes wrench your heart and at others lift your spirits glorifying love. As tradition would have it , the poet’s name ( known as takhallus ) is always featured in the last verse , a convention known as Maqta.

Now a little about the Maestro : Ustad Ghulam Ali Saab , born on 5th December 1940 ( how privileged am I to share his birthday ) , is an acclaimed Pakistani ghazal singer of the Patiala gharana. The word gharana is traced back to the Urdu/Hindi word ghar , meaning house and typically refers to the place where the particular musical ideology originated.

His name Ghulam was given by his father , who was a great follower of Bade Ghulam Ali Khansaab , an unparalleled legend of classical music , hailing from Lahore.

Ustad Ghulam Ali Saab’s style and variations in singing ghazals is inimitable , as he blends Hindustani classical music with the beauty of poetry. Add to that the melody of his voice and supreme knowledge of classical music evoking pathos , and the listener could want to be in love ! That is the power of his singing ! He is highly popular in India , Pakistan , Nepal , Bangladesh as well as amongst the South Asian diaspora of the US , the UK and Middle Eastern countries. Indian Hindi film industry , forever celebrating good music , not to be left behind , used some of his hit ghazals in the movies , thereby popularizing ghazals and the Maestro even further.

Ghulam Ali Saab and Anup Jalota

Ghulam Ali Saab and Anup Jalota

My entire family has been enthralled by his ghazals , so much so that Urdu , the language of ghazals is pursued by most of us in order to understand the deep meanings hidden in the couplets. Such legends are a rarity , salutations to the Ustad for bringing much joy and music to our homes. A teetotaler apparently ( as told to us by him ) who has intoxicated many with his music and an urge to toast a drink or two to the art !

A note of gratitude to my husband , he is the one who introduced ghazals into my life !