The Puja season, every year, begins with the puja of Ganesh, the Elephant God. Then comes Viswakarma, God of Construction. Other Gods and Goddesses follow. Then comes Durga with her sons- Ganesh and Kartick and daughters Laxmi and Saraswati and her pet Lion and perpetual enemy Mahisasur. Five days after the immersion of Durga comes Goddess Laxmi, followed by Kali, followed by Kartick. The season ends with the puja of Saraswati sometime in late January-early February.
Puja season these days has less to do with puja (worship or prayer) and more to do with maja (revelry, enjoyment). Maja, again these days is associated with material things- dresses, apparels, consumer goods, television set, car, diamond ring, etc. It is here that market takes over. Market, through deft advertising, virtually equates enjoyment with purchase of new goods. The feeling that it spreads is: if you have not purchased this- you are not enjoying. Trapped by this, we go on buying stuff that we hardly need. However, we are not satisfied. Or put it this way: the market never lets us to be satisfied. As soon as we buy one washing machine, the market comes up with another ‘improved’ one. LCD television sets give way to LED sets. Ordinary mobile handsets give way to smart phones. We get caught in a never ending dissatisfaction loop, which forces us to go on buying.
It has been happening in the west for quite some time. Newspapers and magazines have started collapsing. Shrinking readership and advertisement, the life line of print media is pushing the print media out to oblivion. With 105 newspapers closed and 10,000 newspaper jobs lost in the US in 2009, the Business Insider declared the latter the “year the newspaper died”. Readers in the west are moving online to get their news and analysis. Advertisers are following the readers. So are the newspapers and magazines. Gradually. Newsweek will be shutting down its print edition after 80 years. The magazine’s editor-in-chief Tina Brown has signified that this move aims to “embrace the all-digital future”.
However, I think in India we still have some years to reach this situation. As the editorial of Khaleej Times (20 Oct. 2012) says: Even though the glossiness and visual appeal of magazines is failing to draw readers in the West, print is still in business in Asia at least. Readers in South Asia and the Middle East still like to skim over a newspaper’s headlines with their morning tea or read an interesting magazine feature at leisure on a lazy Saturday afternoon. The digital revolution in journalism will definitely hit publishing houses in Asia in the future — but there’s still time for that.
Udupi and Manipal
Recently I had been to Udupi and Manipal, the former an old and historical town, the later is a new one in South Karnataka, about 60 kms from Mangalore. The older one is known for its ancient Krishna temple and food, the later one is known for its educational institutions. It is amazing to note how an entire township can develop cantering round a string of educational institutes.
Ravi, who teaches New Media in JMC Dept. of Manipal University took me to a 140 year old restaurant just behind the Krishna Temple in Udupi. It is known as 'Mitra Samaj'- interesting and most unusual name for a restaurant. Ravi explained: “It used to be more a meeting place than an eating place.” It is believed that idli was invented here. They still are experimenting. The latest invention is 'bullet idli': pellet size idli which are served in (not with) sambhar.