Bhogi is a festival in South India, celebrated in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh and occurs on the same day as Lohri in North India.
The word “Bhogi” comes from Bhog, meaning “bountiful harvest”. India has had 3 harvests, 3 Bhog every year through the ages.
During the medieval times, the living conditions in Europe were very tough from many perspectives, including the climatic conditions, due to which only one harvest was possible in a year.
On the other hand, in the local literature of this land, in different vernacular languages, the capability of this land to yield three harvests or Bhog, is discussed frequently. Even to date, the term “three Bhog”, continues to be the yardstick to measure the industrious nature of the agriculturist and the yield of this land.
Fertile lands of India
Not only three harvests a year but the farmers also practiced multi-cropping which resulted in bounties of food and other agricultural products such as cotton, indigo, spices.
Ringing out the old and ringing in the new
Prior to the Bhogi day, every household is cleaned of its cobwebs. All the unwanted stuff is taken out, accumulated and burnt as Bon fire at sunrise on Bhogi morning. Much as the concept of spring cleaning in England and Europe.
This cleaning was significant for this Bhogi day for the next day of Makara Sankranthi marked a new beginning with the sun entering the Makara zodiac and warmer days start from thereon. The days also start getting longer in Northern Hemisphere, conducive to agriculture and other activity. Bhogi represents ringing out the old and ringing in the new.
Bhogi Bon Fire
Marriage of Andal
In Tamil Nadu, Bhogi is also celebrated as the marriage of Andal with Lord Ranganatha. Andal was a poetess of Bhakti genre. Andal’s 30 days of prayers & divine poetry culminated on Bhogi and Her wedding is celebrated with feast in every Vishnu temple of Tamil Nadu. Her poetry is called Tiruppavai. Tiru means “holy, noble, good” and Pavai means “maiden, doll”.
Tiruppavai is a garland of poetry by a maiden of noble thoughts.
Chappan Bhog – Orissa
The word Bhogi has resonance in Orissa too. In the Puri Jagannath temple, Lord Krishna, Balarama and Subhadra are daily offered Chappan Bhog, i.e. 56 varieties of sweets and foods as offering. Here, the word bhog implies the whole hearted offering for the enjoyment of the Lord. Bhog also means “to enjoy to eat”.
In Assam, the harvest festival is called Bhogali Bihu.
Bohali Bihu being celebrated in Assam
Bohali Bihu is celebrated in Assam on 14th or 15th of January.
We see that, Bhogi is a wholesome festival that covers the whole of this land of India.
Bharatha – A land of people who relish knowledge
India had a pride of place in the ancient and medieval world. This land was called Bharatha, Bha meaning light and Ratha meaning ‘to relish’. Bharatha was the land of people who relished knowledge.
The Indian literature, right from the Veda, to the Tamil Sangam literature, speak of India as a land of prosperity. These bodies of literature describe a civilization that was prosperous. They present a picture of a society that was rich in material, cultural and spiritual wealth. The economy of the land was thriving. There was wide spread trade. Arts and culture were patronized and well established. The testimony to this prosperity is given by Marco Polo, a Venetian visitor to India in 1290 CE. He describes India in his writings as “the most prosperous of all, in the world he had seen.”
What gave India such a Brand Image of the most prosperous land, a sone ki chidiya?
Some are brands of goods that went from India, world over. Some are brands of thoughts and practices, with roots in India. Some are brands created by the image of India, for the world. These brands of yore created openings, not just in the field of trade but also in the very spread of thought and thought process. This is something that India can be rightfully proud of. For, it is thought process that shapes the evolution of thought, sciences, practices and lifestyle, which in turn, have a bearing on the pace of evolution of mankind. If there are a few civilizations or nations that can proudly say that it has offered something to the evolution of the thought process of humanity, then the Indian civilization does earn a pride of place, perhaps right on top.
Roots In India
The major aspects that make a prosperous civilization such as Education, Maths, Sciences, Languages, Music and Lifestyle, had their roots in India. They went on to create the Brand Bharat in the eyes of the world.
Signs of Brand Bharat
Some of the other signs of Bharat which became a brand, include
- Plentiful and Varieties of Food
- Abundance of Water and Water Harnessing
- Kama Sutra
- Sports – Chess, Polo, Snooker, Badminton,
to list just a few.
India was a leader in trade, having 25 % to 30 % share in World Trade in Ancient and Medieval times all the way upto 1800s.
Made in India – The Big Five
India had many produces to its credit that made it an economic powerhouse. The 5 main products that were manufactured in India were Iron and Steel, Zinc, Cotton, Indigo, Sugar and Spice.
The Five Ts – The Principles
They were able to sustain the brands, through many centuries and millennia, with the diligent practice of the 5Ts.
|Tradition||Understanding and Following Tradition|
|Talent||Skilled along with Quest and Innovation|
|Technology||Producing but Sustaining Nature|
|Trade||Trading, but not for Greed|
|Truth||Living with Truth – The Cosmic Principle, Dharma|
Lost to Plunder
Unfortunately, India lost its prosperity to wave after wave of plunder, first from near west and later from the far west in the name of colonisation, which destroyed Brand Bharat. But all is not lost. India may have lost a lot of wealth she had generated. But she has not lost the grace of Nature that can help her build similar wealth in no time, the way the earlier generations had done. All India needs, is to understand her strengths and deploy them suitably. More on Prosperity, Plunder and Rejuvenation of India, in our book ‘You Turn India’.
Bharath Gyan is an endeavour to bridge the old and the new worlds through knowledge from the past, for the present and future. Founded by the couple, D.K.Hari and D.K.Hema Hari and disseminated by The Art of Living of H.H.Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Bharath Gyan is 15 years of compilation of the knowledge and ethos of India from an interdisciplinary and wholistic perspective. “Brand Bharat”, as conceptualized by the Hari couple, paints the true picture of India and the pride of place India held among the comity of civilizations. It delves into the brands that had kept it so, for millennium after millennium. Brand Bharat leaves us with a new image of India, a new outlook on prosperity and a new sense of pride at being an Indian. More, in our work, ‘Brand Bharat’ from the ‘Autobiography of India’ series.
New Year is the time to look forward as well as back at what we have come through – the good and the not so good.
January and Janus
The word January comes from the Roman divinity, Janus with 2 heads – one which looks forward and one which looks back.
It is a time we pause, take stock to march forward.
In Animals too
It is like the time when the molting snake sheds its old skin, the past and wriggles out with a new skin to the next phase out its life.
Snake shedding its old skin
It is like how the American eagle sheds its old feathers and beak, gains new ones for its next phase of life.
This shedding of the past and adopting the new is not just to humans and calendars but to animals too as we see here.
In the Indian ethos we have festivals such as Lori in Punjab where the old articles are burnt in the bonfire. We see the same practice in Deep South in Tamil Nadu where the old things are discarded in the bon fire during Bhogi.
Ringing out the Old and Ringing in the New
This is one way of symbolically ringing out the old and ringing in the new. Be it the temple bells or church bells symbolize this ringing out the old and ringing in of the new.
Change through Celebration
So New Year is now just a calendar but also harbinger of change. Change happens through a revolution which is generally violent. Change can happen through celebration.
So let us welcome this New Year, this Change, with Celebration.
Matsya Avatar is the first Avatar of Divinity Vishnu. Matsya means a fish and Avatar means to descend.
How did life descend on earth?
Matsya, Fish, The first to Descend
Evolution is known by the word Parinama in Samskrt, which means change. In India, the concept of evolution has been discussed in the sequence of Dasavatara of Vishnu, starting from the fish and evolving all the way to the intellectual human. Thus according to the Indian Theory of Evolution from the Dasavatara concept, Aquatic creatures, The Fish, Matsya was the first to emerge.
In Sync with Darwin’s Theory
It is interesting to note that, some aspects of Indian story of evolution is in sync with Charles Darwin’s story of evolution.
Charles Darwin in his theory of evolution also states that aquatic creatures were the first to come into existence, followed by amphibians and then land creatures as depicted in the Dasavatar Theory.
There is thus a similarity in the Indian thought of Evolution and the Modern Evolution theory.