December 28, 2008
In this journey of life, we try to visit as many pilgrimage centres we can so that in the end, we may go back to our source. In this endeavour, we try and bring to our readers the places we visit and its spiritual significance. Our aim is to provide others some amount of encouragement so that they too can become devotees and find their spiritual goals.
This year, we visited Naina Devi, a Shaktipeeth of Goddess Parvati. The story of Sati and the existence of Shaktipeeth have been explained in detail in our previous post when we visited Kunjapuri Devi Temple, Rishikesh.
The word naina denotes eyes and at this Shaktipeeth, the Goddess Parvati’s eyes had fallen and thus the name Naina Devi. Situated on the Shivalik Mountain, the temple is lies in the Bilaspur district of Himachal Pradesh and there are several options on how to get there.
1) Devotees can reach by road, taking the National Highway 21. The closest airport is in city of Chandigarh. The distance of the shrine from Chandigarh is approximately 100 km.
2) There are alternate roads that connect this temple from Anandpur Sahib and Kiratpur Sahib. The distance from Kiratpur Sahib to Naina Devi is 30 km and from Anandpur Sahib, it is 20 km. State transport buses are well-connected from Punjab and Himachal Pradesh to get to this holy site.
3) There are some devotees who prefer to trek, taking the route from Kaulan Wala Toba near Anandpur Sahib to the temple.
Once we reached the foothills of the Shivalik Mountain, we again had options on how to reach to the main shrine-trekking or by ropeways. We opted for the ropeways.
The word ropeway does create an alarming image in our mind but it is far from it. It is not a wobbly bridge, crocheted in coir. It is not a basket where one needs to sit and brace oneself, while getting pulled to the other side. But instead, these are colourful cable cars. We were first to arrive but we were made to wait until the cable cars were thoroughly tested.
A picturesque ride of ten to twelve minutes on the ropeway took us to the main hub where the real buzz was. There were shops lined with offerings that one could buy to offer to Naina Devi. There were a lot of bi-lanes and since we were the first to arrive, we had to ask for directions to head to the temple. Soon, we encountered steps and we knew we had found our way.
Marble steps were etched with names of the contributors who had helped in some way in the building and development of this holy shrine. There were rest stops on the way. Actually, there were two storied house-Dharmshalas that provide lodgings to devotees. After 130 steps, we finally reached at the base of the temple. We took off our shoes and finally after ten more steps we extended our hand to ring the bell that marked a sign in our souls that we made it.
Shiny brass railings made it easier for the devotees to queue and wait for their turn to enter in the main arena. At the either side of the entrance, there were two life sized, milky-white marble lions standing guard. A magnificent Peepal/ Pipal tree attracted every onlooker’s attention in the centre of the courtyard. Vapours surrounding it, gave an indication that there was havan in progress.
We were in awe as we stepped up to the goddess’s main chamber. Our eyes felt an instant attraction to Naina Devi’s golden eyes. We could see her dressed in bright crimson attire and her shimmering glare made us realise the power of Shakti. Mesmerized, we froze and didn’t realise when our offerings were taken from our hands and returned as Prasad. Next to Nainadevi, to her left, was seated Goddess Kali or Maa Kali, and next to Her, was Lord Ganesh.
The head priest invited us to the havan and we surrendered our frivolous material thoughts and emotions to the burning pyre. After offerings to the flames of the Yagna, the priest tied blessed threads on our wrists. Then we bowed in gratitude to the divine mother for granting us the permission to seek Her blessings.
We asked the priest’s permission to take few photographs inside the arena and the outside entrance. Photography inside the main sanctum is forbidden. On our way back, we looked through the shops and chatted with the locals. They informed us that there are six other Shakti temples in and around Himachal Pradesh.
1) Maa Mansadevi Ji
2) Maa Jwala Ji- This is located in Kangra. Here goddess’s tongue had fallen.
3) Maa Chamunda Ji
4) Maa Vaishnodevi Ji
5) Maa Brijeshwari Ji
6) Maa Chintpurni Ji
Euphoric with our profound chance to get so close with the divine mother, left a wonderful impression in our minds. A feeling that is best understood when experienced.
©Nayna, 2007-2008. All Rights Reserved.
December 24, 2008
Every writer wants to be recognized and well-known. There is nothing wrong in that. Appreciation and encouragement helps to motivate and enhance a writer’s skills. But what if you are not a best-selling author or an international prize winner?
Aiming high is good way to progress but one needs to realistic. Such recognition doesn’t come when one writes their first story or novel. It takes years of practice, learning the tricks of the trade along with strong marketing and promotional skills.
You don’t have to get discouraged. It doesn’t necessarily mean that if you are unsuccessful in the beginning, you are a terrible writer.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation of the detective Sherlock Holmes is a landmark character where simple situations are converted into unique plots. The brutal truth is that not many of us can create such characters that can be remembered and immortalized for generations. But we can learn some of the simple techniques to make our writing more appealing and realistic.
The first thing that Holmes usually does when a client comes to him with a case is that he analyzes them. His attentive ear does take in the mystery but what is more intriguing is the way he reads the person from his body language, his personality traits, his clothing and accessories. The correct word to decipher this is that he has an eye for detail.
To bring a character to life, simple details can set a mood and give the readers a window to get an insight to the kind of the story that is being woven into. Keeping the description minimal is an ideal way to create interest but it should be relevant to the main plot. Pointless adjectives and descriptions can actually ruin the initial enthusiasm.
If you enjoy writing mysteries and suspense stories, then the ending should be satisfying and clear. Nothing irritates a reader more than finding the ending unrealistic and inconclusive. Creating a last minute character to solve the mystery will create a major setback to your popularity as a writer.
The plot should be explained step by step with logical conclusions which explain the characters reasoning behind his actions. Many a time a voracious reader can predict the ending. This is also acceptable because it shows that your story has been read with interest or it can also mean that you need to create a stronger plot. Powerful characters with good settings and a simple storyline can be successful if the feelings are expressed well through actions rather than words.
“The game’s afoot, Watson,” said Holmes.
This accelerates the reader’s heartbeats as he anticipates that the killer will now get exposed. If you are able to create this excitement in the reader’s mind then you have made it in the big league. Your name will be definitely gleaming under the bright lights of stardom and your fans will be queuing up for an autograph.
Each writer is unique and diverse in his or her approach. We all have special skills and as a writer we all have our potential in different areas and genres. The key is to find that hidden talent, tap it and unleash to the world. Remember getting discouraged will only hamper your drive to succeed.
Writing is a game where being the winner is not dependant on a dice or card but in refining the talent that is inborn.
©Nayna, 2007-2008. All Rights Reserved.
December 19, 2008
The advent of winter brings about a lot of change in nature-frigid air, snowflakes and gloomy skies. It leaves its icy touch on our skin and hair too. Dry skin and dandruff are very common in cold weather. Just like our skin gets dehydrated and wrinkled in winter so does our lips.
Chapped lips can hamper your winter look. Make sure you drink sufficient fluids during the cold season.
Winter Lip Care Tips:
1) Avoid licking your dry lips. This tends to darken the skin around the mouth.
2) Avoid peeling the dry skin with your teeth. This may cause the lip to bleed. Once this happens, it will sting and burn every time you eat or drink anything.
3) Apply a coat of lip balm or lip gel several times in the day.
4) Lip balms are available in various fruit flavors.
5) The roll-on lip gel can be difficult to manage because they tend to be greasy and spread around the mouth while talking.
6) Select a well known brand. The quality is essential as most of the time this lip balm or gel will be entering the stomach with the saliva.
7) During winter, lipsticks too tend to get dry. Always use a moisturizing lipstick shade instead of the matte ones. The matte shades of lipstick make the cracks on the lips very prominent.
8) A fashion faux paux would be to apply a matt shade of lipstick on chapped lips and then covering it up with a lip gloss. This is a disaster.
The chapped lips when rubbed with a matt lipstick, take in a mass of the lipstick. This also ruins the tip of the lipstick with scratchy lines. The lipstick is left uneven and the gloss on it makes the cracked lips very prominent. This constant action of applying lipstick and then the gloss sometimes causes the dried and delicate skin of the lip to peel off. So watch out for this blunder.
9) Apply a thin layer of lip balm before applying lipstick or you can use tinted lip gels and balms. (Personal favorite – Maybelline’s Shiny-licious, shade: Sugar Plum.)
10) Make sure the lip balm contains SPF 15 or 20. Other ingredients to look out for while buying a lip balm or chap stick are vitamin E and Shea butter.
Popular lip balms for men are Eco Lips Energy lip balm, Carmex lip balm and MD Formulations SPF 20 lip balm. Women’s well-known brands of lip balm are Neutrogena Lip Moisturizer, Weleda Everon Lip Balm and so on.
This winter make sure you take care of your lips and keep them kissable at all times. (SMOOCH)