Thursday, February 25, 2021

Book Review: Folklore of Punjab by Sohinder Singh Bedi


I am a Punjabi, so it felt strange to read about one’s own state in an academic book. But a lot of the things that we see around the house are rarely explained by the elders in their right context. This book provides the academic and cultural background that really helped one understand my own state better. After this, I am quite looking forward to the other books in the series that we have at home.

 This is not a collection of folk tales. In fact, this is a rather academic book about the culture of Punjab. The culture it references is the culture of undivided Punjab – some of the folk songs and myths are clearly associated with pre-partition Punjab.

 The book starts easily enough – with a description of the land and its brief history. It then moves to myths, magic and religion etc. I didn’t enjoy these sections because much of this is not relevant any more. The fun started with the fun and fairs chapter. I loved reading about the main fairs of Punjab, and then the language and dialects. I didn’t know that Punjab has Jhumar dance too! And a variant of the Gidda called the Sammi. I also liked the part about the folk performers of Punjab. Punjabis are a very jovial community, so I was researching Punjabi folk humour performers for a while. This book answered that question, albeit briefly. I am still looking for a more detailed description of Punjabi folk performers who were in the humour genre. All leads welcome. 

The appendices, which mention some riddles, sayings, and other folk content, really opened my eyes to the intellectual superiority of the people of Punjab. The riddles were as intelligent as the Sanskrit riddles one reads. That was my favourite part of the book. 

 While the writing style is rather narrative, this book covers many aspects of cultural anthropology in a succinct manner. If cultural anthropology is a field of study that interests you, then this entire series of books by National Book Trust, focusing on one state at a time, is a treasure trove. People are not just individuals, there are so many cultural bricks in the foundation of our personalities. 

What didn't work 

One, the Sikhs were not given adequate representation in the book. The Sikh culture is predominant in Punjab, yet the myths and superstitions pertained to the peers and valis, which were more prevalant in Eastern and Mughal led Punjab. 

The second issue with the book is that it glosses over the social ills of Punjab. The caste system, the rampant female foeticide and the tacit cultural approval that makes the practice so prevalant. Without taking a stand, it was still possible to mention them as clearly as the valis and other myths and magics were mentioned. 

The third issue with the book was not enough illustrations. Culture and anthropology is one area where a picture is worth a thousand words. The plates were grossly inadequate, given the rich subject matter of the book. A simple picture of Sammi and Jhumar, for instance, would have made a world of difference. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2021


 जब फूल मेरे घर आते हैं 

तो मैं उन्हे मरने देती हूँ। 

न पानी में डालना, न नमक, 

न दांडी आढ़ी काटना 

सब टोटके आते हैं

पर उनको मरने देना 

जल्द से जल्द 

मुझे अधिक सहृदय लगता है। 


When i get flowers 

I let them die 

No putting in water 

no salt, no diagonal cutting of the stalks 

i know all these tips

but letting them die

as quickly as possible 

feels kinder. 


Monday, February 22, 2021

Birthday Thoughts

 छोड़ आए हम वो गलियाँ .. is a freedom song. 

From all bonds of the past, 

All things that held us captive, only because they captivated us once 

All things that mattered once, but should have stopped mattering long ago. 

Everything that held us back, like the chain holds the elephant. 

This is the song: 

Chhod Aaye Hum Woh Galiyan - Superhit Popular Hindi Song - Maachis - YouTube

This has been the year of छोड़ आए हम ये गलियाँ । 

Saturday, February 20, 2021



प्रमाण है 

कि सुनने की 

सीमा होती है 

देखने की,

सूंघने की -

वह सब 

जिसे हम कहते हैं 


एक नन्ही सी परिधि 

के खिलौने। 

कहो  तो,


बोध का द्वार 

खोलती हैं 

कि बंद करती हैं? 

On Languages

ਚੁੱਪੀ ਤੇ ਹਾਸਾ 
ਪੜ੍ਹਨਾ ਸਭ ਜਾਣਦੇ 
ਤਰਜੁਮਾ ਨਾ ਜਾਣਦਾ 

Chuppi te haasa 
padhnaa sab jaande 
tarjumaa na jaanda 

और मुस्कान 
समझें सब 
समझा  न पाए कोई 

Silences and smiles 
Always understood. 
Never translated. 

Monday, February 15, 2021

Today's Conundrum: Why the Dwivachan?

 Actually, this conundrum is not new. It has been troubling me since i started learning Sanskrit. 

As far as I know, most languages in the world have 2 states -Singular, and Plural (Ekvachan- Bahuvachan)

Sanskrit is the only language where there are 3 states - 1, two, and more than 2 (Ekvachan, Dwivachan, Bahuvachan)

None of the derivative languages of Sanskrit have inherited this unique trait of Sanskrit, not even Hindi, which is grammatically closest to Sanskrit.

We have not found this (in as much as we know) in Prakrit or Pali either.

The Dwivachan is so important that for every word, every verb, there is a Dwivachan defined. - Akarant, Ikarant, Ukarant, Pulling, Stiling, Napunsakling, Dhatu Roop - everything.

That meant significant work for Panini and his team.

WHY was the count of 2 so important?

I think that the day we solve this puzzle, we will answer some very important questions about Indian history.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

संरक्षण / Sanrakshan

पहाड़ों में 

राजे राज नहीं करते 

राज करते हैं 

देवी, देवते, और बामन 

पहाड़ों में 

राजे रक्षा नहीं करते 

रक्षा करते हैं 

देवी देवते, और बामन 

पहाड़ों में 

राजे क्रुद्ध नहीं होते 

कुपित होते हैं 

देवी, देवते, और बामन 

पहाड़ों में 

मंतर पूजा नहीं करते 

पूजा करते हैं 

फूल, कथा, और करम 

"वनदेवी को बुरा लगेगा"

"इस पेड़ की आत्मा खुश होगी"

"कुलदेवता का मंदिर है"

पहाड़ों में 

वैज्ञानिक संरक्षण नहीं करते 

संरक्षण करते हैं 

देवी, देवते, और बामन 


Friday, February 12, 2021

Quote of the Day

 जितना ज़्यादा जानते हैं 

उतना कम समझते हैं हम


All the large firms(IT/ Advisory) make their moneys not from the depth of their expertise but the breadth of the talent pool that they can replace every time the client loses it.


व्यंग्य में वेदना, और वेदना में व्यंग्य, जैसे यिन और यांग।


Thursday, February 11, 2021

Roshan Daan

 बहुत लोग सोचते हैं कि पानी हमें डुबोने के लिए है. नहीं. पानी तो हमें तारने के लिए है. मोक्ष पाने का शब्द ही है, तरना। तो पानी डुबोता कहाँ है? 

पानी तभी तक डुबोता है, जब तक हम उस से लड़ते हैं. उसे हाथ पाँव से मारते हैं. 

जब सब अहम् त्याग कर, हम स्थिर हो जाते हैं, केवल सांस लेते हैं, और पानी पर विश्वास कर के, अपना अंग अंग ढीला छोड़ कर, पानी के हवाले कर देते हैं, पानी हमें स्वत: उठा लेता है. 

हम कितनी भी देर उस पर रहें, वह धीरे से हमें वहन करता है. 

इसी को तरना कहते हैं. 

तैरना विद्या है. तरना विश्वास. 

दोनों सीखने पड़ते हैं. पर तैरने में, केवल अपनी विद्या, अपनी शक्ति, और अपने कौशल पर भरोसा होता है. 

तरने के लिए, पानी पर पूरा विश्वास. 

Friday, February 05, 2021

On reading

 Someone wrote: How many ppl read books anyway? Why would anyone read books when there is so much video content available? 

And i said:

:) always,  very few ppl have read books.  I'm yet to figure out whether that's the tragedy of our world,  or its blessing. 

 If more ppl read... surprisingly, a line that could be a dream to some, and a nightmare to others.