Thursday, 27 October 2011

Depression in Adolescence—Causes and solution

Depression in Adolescence—Causes and solution

Depression or depressive disorder is as old as mankind. Everyone feels blue and sad occasionally and is able to get back from it. The sad feelings are short lived and do not interfere with the day today life. When some is in depression it means, the sad feelings interferes with daily life and causes pain for both individual and those who care about the individual . Depression is a common but serious illness.

According to Medi Lexicon's Medical Dictionary, depression is "a mental state or chronic mental disorder characterized by feelings of sadness, loneliness, despair, low self-esteem, and self-reproach; accompanying signs include psychomotor retardation (or less frequently agitation), withdrawal from social contact, and vegetative states such as loss of appetite and insomnia."

Adults suffering from depression are quite common. Though it is common it is a serious illness. Irony is many suffering from depression do not seek treatment or reluctant to professionals help. There are different forms of depression. Today, it is visibly seen more among adolescents.
Among adolescents depression is more often not noticed by peer groups and parents. One of the reasons being these young adolescents are primary in the peak of teenage and they fail to express their feelings to parents or older siblings. They most often complain of bodily aches, fear or phobias, change in behaviour and constantly hold themselves or their behaviour responsible for the entire wrong goings.

Some common symptoms:

 Lack of Interest in normal routine activity
 Visible decline in academic achievements.
 Behavioural problems in friendship.
 Withdrawing contacts with family members.
 Lack of enthusiasm and energy.
 Difficulty in self-motivation. Prone to unnecessary aggression and anger
 Aloofness, accompanied by feelings of sadness and helplessness.
 Lacks self-esteem and suffers from guilt.
 Unable to concentrate
 Unable to take decisions.
 Feels restless and agitated.
 Feeling of ‘emptiness’.
 Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
 Changes in eating and sleeping habits followed by insomnia.
 Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
 Frequent suicidal thoughts or suicidal attempts.

Main causal factor of depression is due to genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors or combination of either of the two. Some types of depression tend to run in families. A child with depression may act as if to be sick, refuses to go to school, stick to a parent/s, or has frequent fear that one of the parents may die. Children with frequent attacks of depression in the childhood more often continue to have similar episodes as they enter adolescent. Adolescents brood, get into trouble at schools and colleges, has negative thoughts and irritable, and feel misunderstood.

Overcoming Depression

One good thing about depression is it for kids, adolescents or adults is treatable even in its most severe form. The solution to depression is also quite easy and simple, but depressed are initial anti and disbelieve in it. The simplest solution is to withdraw ones attention from what depresses and put it on what makes one feel good and happy.

Again, identifying the good and happy feelings is not that easy for depressed ones. Intervention of trustworthy person as a liaison is more beneficial in bringing the depressed one out of depression.

Exposure to Sunlight works wonder. Coming out, experiencing sun and sunlight for 30-40 minutes in the morning definitely has healthy impact on depressed ones. This also regulates sleep and helps physical and mental health. This has to be followed as normal practice along with brushing teeth, bathing, etc.

Exercises also have good impact on depression. Taking aerobics classes or Yoga classes helps t overcome depression. They act as a stress busters.

Socializing and speaking solves half of the problem. Involving oneself with family and friends and planning an outing or a movie or to a coffee shop makes an impact. Being in others company makes to lightens isolation. This has to be done regularly.

One has to watch ones own thinking and thought processes. By discussing with others also one can differentiate between real and unreal or imaginative thoughts. Constant efforts put can reduce the reoccurrence of unreal thoughts is by reading.

Join some instrument or music or dance class as a change from routine. Theatre also does wonder.

All this is possible only with strong determination to overcome depression.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Disappearing Folk art of Telangana

Disappearing Folk art of Telangana
Sarada Kala Rupam- Oral Narrative Folk Art Form of Telangana Region


One of the distinctive folk art forms of Telangana region is ‘Sarada’ art form popularly known as Sarada Kala Rupam. ‘Sarada’ is synonymous for Goddess Saraswati. ‘Sarada’ is the string instrument used by these folk artists in ballads. By playing sarada string instrument these balladeers- story narrators or in simple words story tellers narrate nearly seventy stories in song form. As these balladeers use Sarada string instruments, they are known as ‘Sarada Ganalu’.

                  Here is the picture of Saradagallu from Mehaboobnagar, Telangana State.

In some regions they are also known as ‘Jangam-storyteller’. This is because; as per researches, it is still not very clear to which caste these Sarada balladeers belong to, they are considered as a sub caste of Schedule Caste (SC) community. Again, sarada caste is not recognised caste by the Andhra Pradesh government. Thus, in order to procure caste certificate for voters ID cards, white cards, and ration cards and so on their caste is entered as ‘Jangam’. This is not only with the Sarada folk community, but also there are many such folk artists' communities whose caste is not recognized by the community and claim their caste identity as ‘Jangam’ or ‘Jangalu’. Jangam community is found all over Andhra Pradesh, however, Sarada singers are only seen in ten districts of Telangana region.

However, they keep their caste identity intact they adopt “kancham pothu-mancham pothu”-which means that they restrict dinning and sharing a bed with other communities and sub communities. ‘Kancham’ in Telugu means plate used for eating food and ‘Mancham’ means a cot or a bed used for sleeping. Sharing of plate or bed is only possible by virtue of marriage. In spite being recognised as Jangam caste, Sarada balladeers to safeguard their folklore style restrict alliance of other castes and Jangam in marriage. When looked from logical point, there is reasoning behind. One of the reasons is that in order to pass on this folk art form to the next generation and easy adaptation of folk art by sarada balladeers right from childhood. Again, from progression of art form sharing of bed and sharing of the plate is not welcomed.

Any art form in folklore needs rigorous training. Children of sarada community are exposed to the story narration right from childhood. Children not only learn singing and narrating stories but they accompany the main balladeers during performance. Hence, the story, music, texts is passed directly. By the time these children attain fifteen years they learn around thirty-forty ballad narratives. In addition, they also learn to make manually ‘sarada- string instrument’-as village carpenters do not do it for the reason that sarada community is considered as ‘untouchables’ so is the instruments used by them. In a subtle way even Goddess Saraswati is also untouchable.

Sarada Kala Rupakam performers:

Three balladeers together perform Sarada kala rupakam. It could be a main male in the centre as main performer playing sarada and supported by two Vantha singers. Vantha means Siders who can be a male and a female or two females playing Dumkis. Dumki is a percussion instrument used for rhythm. The main singers are dependent on the vantha or siders. These vantha singers repeat the lines sung by the main singers and also question, provoke and justify the main singers’ line during ballad narration. This helps in continuation of the narration.

Generally, sarada performers come from the same family. It could be a husband, wife and son or daughter, or husband and his two wives, or sisters and brothers. They also constantly tour from one region to another to perform. It is the only folk narrative with women playing a dominant role and also sometime, it's the women the only performers. This confirms that sarada performers are nomadic folk singers. These sarada singers visit a particular village or villages called Patti. One patti is of forty villages. In order to maintain healthy folk performance relation and not to trespass others region, they believe in live in and let live in concept for the survival of this art form and performers.

They narrate ballads of regional importance. Historic stories of Reddy, Vellama and Kapu are sung and narrate by them more often. ‘Balaguri Kondarayudi Katha’, and ‘Sarvai Papadi Katha’ are popular ones. According to the context ballads are sung and narrated.

About Sarada performance

Sarada performers are secular performers. They perform for the whole community and not for particular caste or community. They are invited to perform both during different occasions such as marriages, harvesting time, festivals and grief. One gets to observe that during festival periods, in between narration witty and humourous jokes and comments are made, whereas, it is not so during the mourning period. During the mourning period they more often narrate the entire life story, his or her personality and greatness of the deceased is sung. Again, the main significance here is that even during the mourning period, these sarada performers act as counsellors in consoling the family of the deceased and make their grief lighter. The sarada performance begins during late evenings and goes on till early mornings 2to 3 am.

Sharada Kathalu were prominently seen in ten districts of Telangana State (prior to districts divisions). During Nizams period, there were mandicants to big landlords and zamindra. They were the once who recorded all the births and deaths of landlords community.

Historic stories of the heroic legends like-Saravai Pappinna  Katha, Kumbham Chenna Reddy Katha, Renukunta Rami Reddy Katha, Kuradagu rami Reddy Katha, Kambhoji Raja Katha,  Even the story of revolt against Nizama-Nawabs by Zamindar-Aarunta Ramachandra Reddy , Katha, Kuraragu Ramachandra Reddy Katha, Renuka Yellammma, Balanagamma- women heroic stories. They also toild stories from Ramayana and Mahabharatha too. Like-Padmayuham, Draupadi story and so on. Around 80 stories they narrate.

Social Life of Saradas

Saradas live in groups in a colony away from the village. This is because they are treated as untouchables. While touring they live in the outskirts of the village. This shows that they are excluded from main village structure. This exclusion from village structure has further excluded them from the government structure of caste recognition.

Saradas being nomadic don’t have permanent residential address. This is also one of the reasons for not becoming part of village structure. However, recent pressure from government agencies for the last five-six years is that they have one residential address given in one village for contacting them for professional purpose or for other purposes related to voters ID card issue and so on.

Again, Saradas are not part of main stream religion. They have their own deities whom they worship. No proper temples or rituals of their deities as such. They worship deities at the time of marriage, festival or jathras (fairs) and death of the family members. They also sacrifice animals like goat, cock as offerings. They have their own belief system, faith and taboos that differ from the other communities. The deities other than their own worshipped are Maisamma, Pochamma and Yellamma.

Saradas have their own dialect or to say code language. This dialect has more than three hundred words. They communicate in their respective code language to be aware of the police, villagers, and other officials and when in contact with new people and till they gain confidence of the people.

Saradas, till recent gathered food by hunting. They are also habited to eat rats, big lizards and other animals. They do domesticate dogs as it accompanies them during hunts. Both men and women consume liquor and toddy regularly, sometimes together also.

Marriage and Divorce

Polygamy is quite commonly visible among saradas. Again, divorce and remarriages are also quite common among saradas. Divorce takes place by breaking a tiny twig either by the husband or wife in the presence of the sarada community. This is called ‘pulla virupu eravadam’

Political Aspect of Saradas

Saradas do not approach police stations, or village Panchayat, as they don’t believe in going to police station or courts or Panchayat fro settlements. Sarada community is highest for settling any disputes that arise between husband and wife or between one sarada family and another or it could be marriage or divorce settlement Again, they obey to their community decision and accept penalty called ‘dandaga’.

Economic Aspects of Saradas

Women of sarada community weave baskets and mats of palm leaves in the mornings. This is one of the sources of income generating. This they do while learning ballads and nursing young infants. Women also go house-to-house in the village and collect food in the evenings. Men don’t earn or work except singing and practicing ballads fro performance.

List of Historical and semi historical ballads

Historic Ballads and Semi historic Ballads


Many folk art forms have disappeared and disappearing due to no scope for performance in modern days. One side we are proud of Globalization, science and technology advancement, advancement in the field of entertainment, print and media. On the other hand we are loosing native folk art that acted as not only channels of entertainment but also as agencies of  the media.

Sarada folk art is not an exception; this art form is also slowly  disappearing due to advancements in other entertainment channels and cinemas. Sarada folk art is shrinking, one side education and compulsory schooling is forbidding the younger generation to learn the historic and semi historic ballads. Further, younger Saradas are now taking up other occupations for livelihood.

This is oral narrative folk art form is not available in textual form. There is a need to safeguard this art form. As the time passes on, no wonder like other folk art forms sarada kala rupakam will slowly disappear, unheard and become extinct. Not only the art form disappear, the ballad singers, families and with them historic evidences shall also disappears and remain unheard.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Karva Chauth and Social Significance

Karva Chauth is an annual one-day festival observed and celebrated by Hindu and Punjabi women in North India wherein married women fast from sunrise to onset of the moon.

This is observed for the safety and longevity of their husbands.
Karva is another word for diya (a small earthen oil-lamp) and chauth means 'fourth' in Hindi (a reference to the fact that the festival falls on the fourth day of the dark-fortnight, or krishna paksh, of the month of Kartik of Hindu calendar usually it falls in October month. This karva Chauth fast is of particular importance to all Hindu married women in India. It is believed that the festival ensures wealth, endurance and happiness of their husbands. Karwa Chauth generally falls on the full moon day of the month Jyeshtha. This is also known as 'Vata Purnima'

This festival is celebrated in large gatherings in full swing in almost all the states of North India like : Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat. Again, north Indian settlers in south India also celebrate it in fullest spirit. Modern days, unmarried women observe the fast for their fianc├ęs or desired husbands.
The preparation for Karva Chauth begins a few days in advance, these days it has become a kind of fashion in displaying more of cosmetics, ornaments or jewelry, than understanding its significance behind.

There are numerous stories and legends behind Karva Chauth. Some of them are listed below.

The Story of Queen Veeravati

A long long time ago, there lived a beautiful girl by the name of Veeravati. She was the only sister of her seven loving brothers, who was married to a king. On the occasion of the first Karva Chauth after her marriage, she went to her parents' house. After sunrise, she observed a strict fast. However, the queen couldn't stand the rigors of fasting and was desperately waiting for the moon to rise. The seven brothers, who loved her dearly, were very disturbed watching the distress of their sister and decided to end her fast by deceiving her. Then the brothers reflected a mirror through Pipal tree leaves. The sister, taken it as moon rise, broke the fast and took food. However, the moment the queen ate her dinner, she received the news that her husband, the king, was seriously ill.

The Queen rushed to her husband's palace and on the way, and saw that the king had died. She prayed to Lord Shiva and his consort, Goddess Parvati. Parvati informed her that the king had died because the queen had broken her fast by watching a false moon. However, when the queen asked her for forgiveness, the goddess granted her the boon that the king would be revived. But to achieve this, she would have to undertake the Karva Chauth fast under strict rituals, and then only her husband would come to life. Thus, by strictly following all the rituals of Karva chauth, Queen Veeravati enlivened her husband.

The Legend of Mahabharata

The belief in this fast and its associated rituals goes back to the pre-Mahabharata times. Draupadi, too, is said to have observed this fast. Once during their exile Pandavas faced many problems. Draupadi, out of desperation, remembered Lord Krishna and asked for help. Lord Krishna reminded her that on an earlier occasion, when Goddess Parvati had sought Lord Shivas guidance under similar circumstances, she had been advised to observe the fast of Karva Chauth. Draupadi followed the instructions and observed the fast with all its rituals. Consequently, the Pandavas were able to overcome their problems. On this day, fasting women listen to Karva Chauth legends with rapt attention.

The Story of Satyavan and Savitri

There is the story of the Satyavan and Savitri. When Lord Yama, came to procure Satyavan's soul, Savitri begged him to grant him life. When he refused, she stopped eating and drinking and Yamraj finally relented. He granted her, her husband's life. To this day, Karva Chauth is celebrated with great faith and belief.

Significance of Karva Chauth

In olden days, girls were married at a very early stage, and had to go and live with their in-laws in other villages or towns. After marriage, her husband’s house was everything for her. As in those days the communication advances was also not developed as that of modern day. Absence and no access to telephones, buses and trains, it was difficult for married girls to approach her parents even during difficulties. Her own parents and relatives would be quite far and unreachable. Thus the custom started that; this married girl would befriend another woman or women at the time of marriage, who would be her friend or sister for life. Their friendship would be sanctified through a small Hindu ceremony right during the marriage. This gave scope to the married girls to speak confidently and sharing their difficulties and happiness. Thus, Karwa Chauth was started to as a festival to celebrate this relationship between the once-brides and their good-friends. Fasting and praying for husband came later and is secondary. It was probably added, along with other mythical tales, to enhance the festival.

The festival of Karwa chauth is one of the most important festivals for married women in North India. A few days before this auspicious festival, all the markets get flooded with various accessories and decorative items including bangles, beautiful sarees, embroidered suits, stalls of sweets and eatables. A number of artists from different cities like Agra, Jaipur, Delhi, etc gathers with their special mehndis to decorate the hands of women.

In some part of north India, women make the karwas with mud and fill them with rice and wheat. They wear their wedding-day dress or chunris or duppata on this auspicious day. It is also believed that the woman who observes this fast is not only blessed with welfare of her husband but also wins the same husband for the next seven births (Unless until she is not fed up with her husband for this birth and wish to have him for the remaining births too).

On this day the women get up before sunrise. They worship Shiva, Parvati, Ganesh, Kartikeya and the moon. The blessings of the Gods are invoked for longevity and prosperity of their husbands and children. Mothers-in-law give their daughters-in-law sumptuous food called 'Sargi' to eat before sunrise, as the fast starts before sunrise and ends only after worshiping the moon at night. It is a tough fast, as the women do not take any food or even a sip of water.

In the evening, the women adorn in bridal ceremonial dress. Many times, the newly wed wear their wedding dress for this auspicious occasion, usually the ghagra-choli or Banarsi saris, embellished with the old-new shimmer of gold, diamonds and rubies. After dressing up, she receives gifts from the mother-in-law.

Before evening, the married woman receives the baya or a basket full of goodies from her mother, which is meant for the mother-in-law. The basket contains sweets, mathadi, fruits and a sari. Before the sun sets, most of the women in a locality gather in one house and prepare a corner for the puja. This puja chowk is beautifully decorated and a small platform is prepared against a wall. On this, the image of Gauri Mata or Goddess Parvati is placed. In the olden days, this image was made of cow-dung and haldi paste.

The women sit around this image with their bayas. Each woman also places a karva or a pitcher full of water and seven pieces of bua. (Seven broken from one bigpua). The karva itself is dee with kharia, aipun and a little roli. A red thread is tied around the karva. At the beginning of the puja, women apply the (roli teeka) vermillion mark to Goddess Gauri and also to themselves. With the thumb and the third finger of the right hand, water is sprinkled on the image of the goddess. The same procedure is repeated with aipun and roli. Lastly, rice is showered on the image.

An elderly woman of the family narrates the legend of Karva Chauth. Even a widow can narrate this story. The women then pray for the long life and the welfare of their husbands. While chanting the prayers, they pass their bayas from one to another. The wait for the moon rise begins after sunset, and as soon as the moon is sighted, prayers are offered to the moon. The fasting women first observe the moon through a sieve and then break their fast. The first sip of water and the first morsel of food is offered by the husbands. A sumptuous dinner follows.

Similar to Karva Chauh, in Tamil Nadu, women observe Karadayan Nonbu and celebrate in the month of Maasi, when the month of Maasi ends and the month of Panguni begins. This festival is celebrated to obtain the Deerga Soumangalyam. It is often said that "Maasi Kayaru, Paasi Padiyum" - which means, it will last long. Karadaiyan Nonbu is done on the praise of Parvathi, who remains with her husband Shiva in the form of Arthanarreshwara. All women wish to have a long life with their husband. Many women during this Vrat, fast from early in the morning and complete the Vrat at the time of Sankaramanam by offering the Adai's made to the Goddess along with a lump of butter.

Likewise, Bhima Ammavasa, also known as Jyoti Bheemeshwara Vratam, is an important Hindu ritual performed by women in Karnataka. Bheemana Amavasi is observed on the Ammavasai, no moon day, in the Kannada month of Ashada (July – August). It is the last day of the month of Aashada. Women pray for the well being of their husbands and brothers on this day.

Jyoti Bheemeshwara Ammavasi is dedicated to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Married and unmarried women and girls pray on this day for the welfare, happiness and long life of husbands, brothers and other males in the house. Thambittu Deepa or Thembittu lamp made from flour is made on the occasion and lit to cool all bad emotions like anger etc. A pair of lamps made using mud known as Kalikamba represents Shiva and Parvati on the day. Special pujas are done on the auspicious day to appease the divine couple.

Another important feature is the making of Kadubu. Dough balls, or Kadubus, have coins hidden in them. Coins are also hidden in idli, kozhakattai, modak and wheat balls. These balls are smashed by brothers or young boys at the end of the Puja.

The ritual is based on the story of a young girl who was married to a dead prince. She accepted her faith and the day after marriage she performed the Bheemana Amavasya puja with mud lamps. Impressed by her devotion Shiva and Parvati appeared before her and brought back the prince to life. The mud kadubu prepared by her was broken by Lord Shiva.

It is the modern times; Bollywood movies have popularized this Karva Chauch as a symbol of Love and welfare. More films made in the 70s and 80s did show case a scene of Karva Chauth. In recent times, films like Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ) and Baghban have made it more of a gala affair.

One gets to hear about celebrities observing the vrat and this highlights the keeping of the fast by an unmarried female public figure because it indicates a strong and likely-permanent romantic attachment.

All said and done, it is good to see that the tradition is passed from one generation to the other. Hope the significance and importance is also passed.

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