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Thread: INDIAN Culture Help

  1. #1
    Sixth Year Hufflepuff
    Voldemort's on the Back of Your Head, Professor
    Ginny Weasley Potter's Avatar
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    May 2006

    INDIAN Culture Help

    Thank you so much, Marie!

    Hi friends!

    I am Pooja from India.

    After reading a thread from LexiGirl based on Hinduism, I decided to post in this thread. This is a thread for those who want to write anything based on Hindu culture. Being a Hindu myself, I can help you out to my level best in things based on Hinduism.

    Parvati Patil and Padma Patil are the two Hindu characters mentioned in the HP books. Hence, there maybe times when you would want to write fics based on them or create AU characters related to them.

    I can help you out with translations to Hindi (spells). I have limited knowledge in Tamil and Marathi, as I only speak tit-bits of Tamil with my family and have had only three years worth of education in Marathi. Apart from all this, I can also help with Sanskrit phrases and proverbs (call them shlokas, if you need any) from the Gita and Vedas. Belonging to a Brahmin family and going to Vedic chanting classes at the same time, I am conversant with quite a few of them.

    But just remember, I am a South Indian. Even though my Hindi is unbelievably good as compared to what a South Indian's Hindi should be, I lag behind in ceremonial information concerning other cultures in India (believe me guys, there are about twenty five different known and recognised cultures in India among the two hundred cultures).

    Okay, here are some basic facts about Indians in the book:

    Name meanings:
    Parvati is the Hindu Goddess of fertility, wife of Lord Shiva- the Destroyer. She is worshipped by married women to pray for the long life of their husbands. She is also worshipped by people who want to overcome the obstacles in their lives. "Parvat"- mountain. Therefore Parvati= One belonging to the mountains (here, Himalayas).
    Other names of Goddess Parvati: Uma, Lalitha, Gauri, Shivakamini and Aparna.

    Padma means 'lotus'. It is a word in Sanskrit.

    A Marathi clan.

    Dresses worn by Parvati and Padma in the Yule Ball:
    Called as Sarara/Lehenga

    My qualifications in Hindu culture:

    Sanskrit texts
    I don't exactly know Sanskrit, but here is all my knowledge in the Vedas:
    Upanishads: Okay, but I doubt you'd need them. They are only based on the science of evolution.
    Small texts: Quite good. They are rarely secular in nature and you can use them as story titles for eg. Tamasoma Jyotirgamaya is the name of one of my stories.
    Bhagvad Gita: Quite good. These are not secular for most of the shlokas either. They are based on duty, respect and other stuff like that.
    Please don't put forward requests for anything related to love.

    I have a real good vocabulary in Hindi (not exceeding English, though) but just tell me if you need any word for your spells or OC names (Indians usually keep meaningful names from Hindi or Sanskrit). Also mention whether you want the typical 'hippie style' Hindi or high class Hindi.

    Marathi and Tamil
    Not very good, but I can help you out as far as possible.

    So what can you trust me most in? Hindi. Sanskrit, as I said, is not a language I have learnt to speak. I'll have to search for the exact shloka which matches with your request.

    So, if you have any request, just fill up this form:
    Word/sentence in English:
    Do you want a shloka or a translation?:
    Language to be translated into (Hindi/Tamil/Marathi)/:
    Now for the cultures. Here are the things I can tell you about:
    South Indian weddings: Not too much in detail, but a considerable amount.

    Funerals: Ah, those soaps on television don't really leave you with no idea, do they? All funerals in India are same, more or less.

    Festivals: Almost all

    Just send in a reply for cultures, no form for this one. But just remember:
    -Child marriage does not exist now, in India. Make the character at least eighteen before getting them married.
    -There is no dowry.
    -Small children are buried, not burnt.

    At last, I'll put up the main point to remember: I am a simple Muggle, and need not know an answer to all questions. If something like this happens, I'm extremely sorry. Secondly, my Diwali vacations are coming to an end and I may not find much time after this. Still, I'll try to answer you ASAP. Thirldy, any other Indian out there, who knows more than me can freely help me answer my requesters. Fourthly, HAPPY DIWALI AND A PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR!!! (Its new year for Hindus now and we are all taking resolutions).

    Don't be shy, my friends, ask away as much as you want!

    Thank you,

    ~Ginny Weasley Potter~

    EDIT: I've decided to change this into INDIAN culture. You can now ask me anything about Indians as a whole.
    ~ Pooja

    AMAZING story banner by Nadia/majestic_ginny! Dimply Sammeh by me.
    I found a liquor store. I drank it.

  2. #2
    Yay! I was so excited when Pooja asked if she could make this thread! This is another one of those instances where I really want to write a story simply for the purpose of being able to take advantage of the wonderful help I could get here!

  3. #3
    Dumbledore Prince
    I would also love to help.

    My name's Mini. I can help with Indian (or Hindu) culture, as I'm an Indian. I've studied Hindi for five years in total, and I can speak it somewhat fluently (I've lost touch a little, but I'm working on it).

    I can give you general info about Hindu culture. I've made a few posts in LexiGirl's thread.

    I can also help you with Sanskrit, as I've studied that for five years. Though, I'm not 100% confident with my grammatical proficiency, as it is a classical language and is not my mother tongue. I can give you some general knowledge on a few texts.

    I'm also not sure if I can answer your queries quickly; I might be busy with RL.

    In any case, feel free to ask your queries (family-friendly ones, that is).


  4. #4
    Sixth Year Hufflepuff
    Voldemort's on the Back of Your Head, Professor
    Ginny Weasley Potter's Avatar
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    May 2006
    Thank you Mini! I really appreciate the fact that you are ready to help.

    So friends, Mini has studied Sanskrit for five years! That's great, isn't it? As I said, I have not learnt to speak Sanskrit, I have been learning Sanskrit texts for the past five years too; but I am only worth a try for the shlokas. Hindi is best in my case- ten years worth of education (right from 'ka', 'kha' and 'ga' in my First Grade) and I have good knowledge of many of the deep grammatical texts in Hindi- because my school is a Delhi board school. Delhi board schools put an enormous amount of emphasis on the languages.

    The problem with Marathi is more or less solved, because I managed to fish out an English-Marathi book from my shelf. I had been using this book for all my Marathi work when it was there. Don't worry, I have managed to score marks like 47/50 in Marathi. So, I cannot be that bad.

    Tamil is still a question mark, though. Even if there happens to be some English-Tamil book at my house by miracle, I don't know to read Tamil, since my family has been more interested in making me learn English and Hindi at least, because you can't really move on in Mumbai with Tamil . Ehehe, I have to remember the words I use while actually conversing in Tamil to give the translations. Here are some sample translations, though.

    Sentence: Do you know English?

    In Hindi: Kya tumhein Angrezi aati hai?

    In Marathi: Tula Ingraji yete ka?

    In Tamil: Onakku English teriuma?
    Ehe, not that bad, is it? I have written them in English script. Their actual scripts are different.

    Okay, I forgot to mention this before: Even if you are not Indian but happen to have info on Indian culture, you are free to help Mini and me out. Its always nice to learn more from others.

    Thank you!
    ~Ginny Weasley Potter~
    ~ Pooja

    AMAZING story banner by Nadia/majestic_ginny! Dimply Sammeh by me.
    I found a liquor store. I drank it.

  5. #5

    Smile Help


    I'd love to help, too! I'm Indian as well, and I can speak, read, and write Hindi fluently.
    Tamil is my mother tongue, however, so if anyone needs help with that, I'm always there.

    I lived in India until three years ago (I'm 16 now), so I can help you with Indian culture, rituals, festivals, etc. Like Pooja, I am also Brahmin and from a religious family, so I think both of us would be able to help authors with Sanskrit mantras or slokas (chants), if you need that sort of help.

    And, by the way, this last weekend was Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights and the New Year, so to all the Indian people on these boards, Naya saal mubarak ho! Happy Diwali!

    So, this post was just to encourage authors who are writing about Indian culture that there are people here to help! And to Pooja, I hope it's okay for me to make this post here...

  6. #6
    Sixth Year Hufflepuff
    Voldemort's on the Back of Your Head, Professor
    Ginny Weasley Potter's Avatar
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    May 2006
    Hey DracoGurlFurever,
    Thank you so much! Forget minding it, I'm jumping with ectasy that people are offering help! I'm sure Mini, you and me will make a good team!

    Oh my God! I can't forget how this slipped my mind, Happy Bhaubeej (or Bhaidhuj; it is called Bhaubeej in Maharashtra, and I'm sort of used to it) and Happy Eid!
    In Hindi: Bhaidhuj ki shubh kaamnaein ho aur Eid Mubarak!!!

    'Mubarak' is Urdu, but now Hindi and Urdu are so mixed up (Urdu is actually a mixture of Hindi and Persian) that it is not easy to make out which is which. Just remember, if I give any word with a 'z' or an 'f' in it, then it is Urdu. Except 'Angrezi', Hindi does not have 'z' and 'f' in it. We just put a dot under 'ja' and 'pha' to accomodate these words in Devanagiri script .Phal (fruit) is often mistaken by most Indians as fal, while fida -become a fan, as to say, Main Harry Potter par fida hoon (I'm crazy about Harry Potter) and fanaa (fatal attraction) are Urdu. So Mini, DracoGurlFurever just be careful about that. Also, words like bakhhsh (sacrifice) and khhyaal (care, thought) are Urdu. The kha usually has a dot below it.

    Urdu is spoken in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, Punjab, Jammu&Kashmir and Pakistan. Ha! That reminded me, we were doing a particularly dedicated love story by 'Jayshankar Prasad' a few days back in class and the teacher had just given us a few Questions to answer in class. In that, we had to write a character sketch of the heroine which naturally included the fact that she was a deep lover. And then... we had this character in our class, "Ma'am, could we write that Madhulika (the heroine) was 'fanaa' on Arun (the hero)?"

    Our teacher was like, "Yehi karo aap. Padhai toh karo hi mat. Jahaan jao wahaan lagi sari cinema dekhkar aao aur apni kaksha mein bhi eise hi sawaal poochho."

    That meant: Keep doing this. Don't study at all. Just go see all movies everywhere and ask such questions in your class. Fanaa is a famous new Hindi movie, actually.

    And... did I tell you that this fellow is the Head Boy of our school? Well, he is a good student but at times, he is highly immature. He doesn't even sound like a teenager and instead sounds like a curious four year old at times!

    And so guys, what are you waiting for? Post your queries in here. You have three people for help now!


    ~Ginny Weasley Potter~
    ~ Pooja

    AMAZING story banner by Nadia/majestic_ginny! Dimply Sammeh by me.
    I found a liquor store. I drank it.

  7. #7
    Hey guys!

    You would not believe my happiness when I read through Pooja and Mini's posts. I don't know you just yet, DracoGurlForever.

    Now, I was looking at writing a tale for the New Years Challenges based on the myth of The Wishes of Savitri which is where Savitri's husband is cursed to die within 12 months. When he DOES die, Savitri (Padma/Pavarti?) follows him to the underworld where he says he'll grant her wishes if she leaves her husband to pass on. She continues to follow him, and he continues to grant her wishes until finally she asks for children.

    Now, the thing here is that Indian widows can't re-marry - is this correct? Also, if anyone knows anything about Death, please let me know some back ground details.

    What else? Oh! Any details about "hell"? I'm an Australian Christian, so my idea of hell or the underworld may be different to yours.

    I'd also like to know some important details about the Indian funerals and - do you have a wake? I'd like to know about the mourning period, and perhaps some things that are said or done as tradition.

    Also, if you know the tale, is there anything important that I should include?

    Guys, your help would be greatly appreciated, and I could pay you back with a review or something :-)

  8. #8
    I don't know if I officially posted in this thread saying I would help. *shrug* Regardless, here I am. The Savitri myth is not a myth, per se. It's an Upanishad - a story that's part of our religious texts, and as close to facts as we can get. NOT A MYTH. (I'm not sure if that excludes this from the challenge, but you must know.)

    Secondly, you're missing a few details from your myth summary. I've found a relatively good version of the tale online - an accurate one from the one that I learned when I was a kid (around 9 or 10 years old).

    Click here.

    Anyway, back to your questions.

    Indian widows. Well, my mother is one. All in all, it depends upon circumstance and who your family is. First of all, there is no definitive rule in Hinduism that says widows can't remarry. In fact, many do. It's all up to tradition and personal choice as far as I'm concerned. The first thing that comes into play is the woman's wish. For example, my mom doesn't WANT to remarry, as a sign of respect and love for my dad. The second thing that comes into play is circumstance. Oftentimes, marriages of older people are a rarity and so if you become a widow when older than 50 or so, you won't remarry. But if you're young (my mother was 44 at the time), you can remarry. Final issue is the family. My dad's parents are okay with the idea of my mom remarrying. But if either your in-laws or your parents are against it, remarrying becomes much harder - unless you want to be alienated. So that's widowhood.

    Hell - there is no hell. That's it. As soon as one dies, one is reborn in a different life even different form...unless you've attained Moksha. In Satyavan (Savitri's husband's) case, he has not fully died until Yama takes him, and Yama can't until Savitri lets him go. So...he wasn't quite dead yet, is my understanding of the story.

    Funerals. Well, I wasn't allowed to go to my dad's and I've never been to an Indian one, so I'm afraid I can only give you brief details. First of all, it depends if you want a modern or traditional funeral. A modern funeral is taking the body to a cremator, and then spreading or keeping the ashes. Not a lot going on with that.

    Traditional...All the family meets all in one place - preferably near the sea or any body of water. Then, the body undergoes cleansing rites - a priest prays over it while ashes are applied to the forehead, and the body goes through cleansing rites. (Lots of prayers and little rituals) Oh, bodies are NEVER embalmed, just so you know. And they are dressed in orange (sometimes white), and there are lots of flowers.

    Then the body (if not already on the pyre) is placed on the pyre. More prayers. The eldest son (or if no sons, daughter) takes a lighted branch and sets the pyre alight. Pyres are made of sandalwood and fragrant oils etc. If children are too young - I was when my dad died, just turned 12 - then the brother of the deceased, or rarely the parent does the lighting.

    Then more prayers and crying while the body burns. The sandalwood masks the smell of burning flesh. The ashes are collected, and more prayers are done. Then the ashes traditionally should be spilt into the sea...but some families elect to keep them, or others dump them in other bodies of water.

    Finally, saints are buried, not cremated. There was actually a debate about whether my dad should be buried or cremated, because the priests believe him to be a saint.

    Hope this helps!


  9. #9
    The Savitri myth is not a myth, per se. It's an Upanishad - a story that's part of our religious texts, and as close to facts as we can get. NOT A MYTH.
    Based on your referrance to the religious texts, would I be right in saying that it's quite similar to the Birth of Jesus Christ / rebirth of Jesus Christ in Christianity?

    I may have been missing details from my myth summary such as her birth/his birth and the circumstances of his curse because I hadn't actually read the myth in a while. I'll check out your version of the myth, though.

    I don't know whether I'll be able to use this information for the challenge now, but please know that I will always retain it - it's really very interesting and I'd love to learn more about the Hindu culture.

    The book I got the myth/legend from was a retold version by Anthony Horowitz, and the Savitri myth was labelled "INDIAN" while there were two others, "CHEYENNE" and "BORONO". I was wondering, what difference is there? Are they still under the same belief system?

    Also, on Yama - am I correct in saying he is indeed a God? The Challenge states that the canon character may have some interaction with the God. If Yama is considered to be an Indian God, then perhaps the information could still be used in the story, and Yama could meet with either Padma or Pavarti.

    Thank you for all your help!

  10. #10
    Yama is indeed a god. And it's alright if you can't use it - I had fun remembering it all, brought back good memories of my dad teaching me the myth. <3

    And I made a mistake. Savitri is not a legend - it is indeed part of a religious text, but not the Upanishads. It is part of the Mahabharata. The Mahabharata is one of the most famous epics in Hinduism (along with the Ramayana). It is based in truth, but over the years, I'm sure it has been altered a bit. Anyway, an extensive Wikipedia page is available here if anyone cares to read more about the text.

    Hmm. I'm sure my version of the tale is accurate - I haven't read the Horowitz version, so I can't vouch for it. Cheyenne and Borono - neither are connected to any geographical part of India at all - so I don't think there is a connection. >.>

    Hope that helped! (again.)


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