Author Archives: Jay Berajawala

Ramadan in Sudan

Informant Bio: Informant is a friend and fellow business major.  He is a junior at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business.  His family is from Sudan and they are Muslim.  Both he and his twin brother were educated in international schools.  He speaks Arabic and English.


Context: I was talking with the informant about traditions and rituals his family has.


Item: “Yeah so basically for once a year for one month, all of Sudan is fasting for 30 days.  We fast from sun up to sun down.  You’re not allowed to drink water, no food, can’t have any sexual intercourse.  Some people say you’re supposed to stay away from certain pleasures, but that stuff’s impossible.  So some people are like, you should never curse during Ramadan as that breaks your fast.  I don’t really subscribe to that notion, but some people definitely take it a lot more strict than others.


The point of Ramadan is that you be in solidarity with unfortunate people around the world who go through not eating on a daily basis so we get a better idea of their pain and their suffering.  We’re supposed to also develop better appreciation for the stuff we have, so you appreciate the fact that you can come home every day and there’s a meal waiting for you.  In a place like Sudan, you take that really seriously during Ramadan.


At the end of Ramadan you have a very large feast, on Eid.  You go and meet up with pretty much your entire family and have a large feast and pretty much eat whatever you want.  We also sacrifice a sheep, so you kill a sheep and then eat it.  And, uh, growing up I watched the killing of the sheep at my grandma’s house and it’s really gruesome by the way.  So they throw it up there and slit it’s throat and there’s a ton of blood and they’re just tearing apart the insides.  I’ve seen so many sheep stomachs just laying outside of homes, it’s ridiculous.  There’s no like recycle process in Africa.  So you eat lamb; there is a Qa’ranic basis for that, but I don’t know what it is.  There’s some story of a guy that sacrifices a sheep instead of his son and it might even be in the Bible but I’m not really sure.


Typically, the kids got a lot of money from relatives, which was dope, or got presents, but I usually got a lot of money.  This is a great time, there’s lots of family reunions and a week of from school.  So Ramadan goes back 11 days every year.  The next, like, six to eight years are going to be the toughest for Ramadan since it falls in the summer and is moving earlier.  The days are longer and they’re super hot and it’s really tough.  Anyways, one other thing is you’re kind of obligated to eat at sundown.  It’s considered a sin if you don’t eat immediately, you can’t wait to finish up your video game, you gotta eat right away”.


Analysis: The informant, although away from home for the past three years, still continues to embrace the Muslim period of Ramadan and all the sacrifices with it.  Although it is undoubtedly a struggle for them while in the U.S., the importance of religion to their lives outweighs all other concerns.  Especially in Sudan, with the extremely high unemployment and poverty levels, Ramadan is a serious time where exceptions are not accepted.


The fast does not extend only to food, like in some other religions (lent in Catholicism).  It also applies to other aspects of the body and spirit.  In this way, it tests self-control to a much greater extent to bring about greater self-awareness and control for the practitioners.


With regards to the sacrifice of the sheep, the informant is referring to the story involving Abraham and Ishmael, in which Abraham is willing to sacrifice his son to God.  God spares Ishmael and a sheep is sacrificed instead.  The sacrifice of the sheep seems to occur in many instances in Islamic countries (at graduations and other large and meaningful events).

Yusheng for Chinese New Year

Informant Bio: Informant is a friend and fellow business major.  She is a junior at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business.  Her family is from China but she has lived in Southern California for nearly all of her life.  Her dad spends lots of time working in Shenzhen.  She speaks fluent Mandarin and English.


Context: I was talking with the informant about traditions and rituals her family has.


Item: “For Chinese New Year my family usually gets together.  Traditionally, ever since I can remember, the adults have given kids red envelopes filled with money, and, we always have specific foods that translate to specific proverbs like good fortune and good health.  An example would be, having, um fish, because “Nian nian you yu” means abundance throughout the years, but the last word ‘yu’ means abundance but also means fish.  They are two completely different words but have the same pronunciation.  And, a couple of other things we would say is, “Gong Xi Fa Cai” which means ‘congratulations for your wealth’, “Wan Shu Ru Yi” which means ‘may all your wishes be fulfilled’.


Sometimes our family does follow this tradition but we don’t follow it too strictly, but there should be a placing order in how you bring the different foods to the tables.  You’re also supposed to say phrases with the addition of each ingredient such as pepper or lime or oil.  Uh, some of the themes touch upon wealth, luck, youth and business success or advancement.  That’s basically one specific dish but there are other flourless cakes that basically expands as you cook it.  It kind of symbolizes growth for kids especially.  Our family also hangs specific square red banners that has the word “Chūnmeaning ‘spring’.  We’d flip it upside down because when you flip it it means ‘dao’, or ‘it is here’ like ‘spring is here’.  We also do that with ‘fu’ which means prosperity, so prosperity it is here”.

Analysis: Chinese New Year really seems to revolve around luck, prosperity and happiness for the new year.  The props used – which vary from clothing to food eaten to the number of dishes served all are meant to be congruent with Chinese lore and beliefs.  The number 8 means good luck so things are done in eights, the color red is lucky so red is shown often and new, clean things are seen as ushering in good luck for the coming year.  There is a cyclical nature in Chinese/Eastern thought that we do not have here in the West.  The coming of the new year, though celebrated here, doesn’t truly entail the “reset” that it does in China.  This may be in part due to the fact that the Chinese civilization has been around for over four millenia (most of which they were relatively isolated), so they’ve seen a much longer time span of existence than most other cultures.  As such they’ve seen empires rise and fall, other warring worlds, and geographies change but still remain, which may contribute to their more cyclical way of thinking as opposed to the U.S.  There also seems to be very set things that are done in a precise process each new year celebration.  This is in contrast to many of the U.S. informants I interviewed who admitted a much more diverse and relaxed understanding of rituals and traditions.

Abu khan Ki Bakri

Informant Bio: Informant is my father.  He was born in Mumbai, India and moved to the U.S . when he was 22.  He still remembers many of the poems and songs from his childhood.  He is fluent in over five languages and recounts a translated tale below.


Context: I was interviewing the informant about childhood traditions, rituals, songs sung and tales performed.


Item: “Abukhan was an old, lonely man living in the village of “Almoda” in the foothills of the Himalaya Mountains

He would keep one or two goats at a time and spend his time walking with them around the village and farmland.

At night, he would tie the goats with a rope in his yard.

One after the other, in matter of days he would lose the goats as they would run away into the mountain and be killed by a coyote.

Finally, he got tired and decided, no more goats! I will spend the rest of my life without any goat, he thought.

A few days passed and he was very sad and lonely without the goats.

Yes, he went and bought a very pretty little goat and named her “Chandni” (meaning “moonlight”).

He thought if he gave her nice feed and grains and showered her with lots of attention, this one won’t run away.

But sometimes he felt that the goat was getting bored. Time to make her life more interesting.

He thought and thought and then decided to move her from his small yard to his much larger fenced-in farm. There he would tie her with a long rope. She had much larger area to run around in and it was safe.

Chandni seemed happy with this greater freedom seemed to have bonded with the old man

They bonded so well that they could as if talk and understand each other like human beings. Abukhan was really happy that this goat was a keeper and would never run away.

More time passed and Abukhan slowly realized that Chandani was showing fresh signs of boredom.

Secretly she was longing to go up the mountain. He knew this because he had seen her gazing in that direction for hours. She was definitely more restless.

And then she started eating less and less. She wasn’t happy to be confined in that farm – as big as it was, it was no longer big enough for her…

She was all grown up and wanted to explore the world – that mountain -seemed as if it was beckoning her

All of a sudden the rope around her neck felt like a noose. She’d gaze at the top of the mountain and think the air there must be so fresh, the scenery from there… the greenery around there…  the smell of freedom and here I am confined in this small, pitiful little farm… Yes, Abukhan is nice to me but mountain is calling and I have heard the call now…

She kept looking at the mountain all the time. She was smitten. Nothing else would make her happy.

This went on for a while. Abu was very unhappy. Chandni was very unhappy.

Abu talked to Chandni everyday telling her that it is not a good idea to go to the mountain. There are dangers and a certain death. What more can I do to make you happy? Longer rope? Better feed?

Nothing seemed to work. Finally, Abu told her, if you go to the mountain, coyote will surely kill you. How are you going to fight him?

Chandni showed her horns and said these… these will fight the coyote…they have grown in the past few years and I am strong…

Abu said your horns are no match for the coyote. I just can’t let you do this.

Abu said to himself, this is it. Chandni must not be kept here in this field. It is time she is put in the cabin on the farm with the door locked.

That afternoon Chandni was taken to the cabin and the door was shut and locked.

Little did he realize that the back window of the cabin was wide open. Well, that was the opportunity Chandni was waiting for.

Night fell and Chandni escaped running straight to the mountain.

She reached there and the smell of freedom… Her beloved mountain… she was finally there… all that greenery.. So much to eat… so much to see… so much to enjoy..

She enjoyed herself beyond her wildest dreams. Ever so slowly heading towards the top of the mountain. She had enjoyed a few days of freedom.

She was re-invigorated, she felt young again and there she met a herd of other mountain goats. They welcomed her in their herd. They roamed together for a while. A male goat even showed some interest in beautiful Chandani, even she felt the attraction. But she didn’t want to jeopardize her freedom being tied to a life in a herd with other goats.

She was a true free spirit. There was no time for emotional attachment. She had to go her own way wherever her heart was leading her – to the top of the mountain.

But Chandani was a smart goat. In her new found life, she was still ever so vigilant of the coyote. Goats in the herd didn’t have to remind her. The encounter was destined to happen at any moment.

And came the dusk. Cool breeze felt ever so pleasant on the skin. In the valley she could see the village and Abu Khan’s hut, his yard, the farm and the cottage. It looked wonderful from far away…

In the distance, she even could hear Abu’s pleas for her to return home. For a moment, she felt maybe she should return, but then she remembered the rope, slavery, dependency and her life there – may be more comfortable, but certainly not as sweet as this freedom. Whatever the price – she couldn’t – she wouldn’t give up her newly found freedom

She is deep in thoughts as she heard some noise in the leaves behind her… yes, coyote was closing in on her… Should I run down the mountain and back to loving Abu Khan or face this deadly encounter!!

The decision was made in a split second. She chose to fight and die rather than live in comfort of Abu’s home and rope tied around her neck

She saw the coyotes shiny eyes in the darkness. There was no other option left. Coyote gave her a look as if saying, Oh, here we go again. This one looks like Abu’s well-cared for goat. They have all been special and delicious and such easy kill…

Chandani kept her head down, straightened her horns and in a split second charged straight to the coyote at lightening speed and bam!! Smack into him…

Coyote didn’t expect this, he had never been attacked like this before by a goat! Yes, this was an attack…

He was truly taken aback. In a moment, he regained his balance and composure and the fight was on..

As the fight went on, Chandani was gradually losing ground, but earned a healthy respect of her opponent. Coyote has never had to work so hard to overwhelm a goat prey.

Chandni was bloodied but kept on fighting. The dance of death went on into late night. Stars were disappearing one by one in the sky. Dawn was about to break thru.

She was taking her last breaths. She fell to the ground. A moment more and it was going to be over. Million thoughts raced thru Chandni’s mind. It was over… Ground was bloodied… Chandni had taken her last breath but in freedom. Fully aware of this outcome as the final price. She did have a smile on her face as she lay dead.

Up on the tree, a whole group of birds were watching this fight almost since it started. Coyote won the general consensus declared. Said “No” an old bird, “Chandni is the winner here.”


Analysis: This tale came to popularity during the time of British occupation of India.  It is a tale describing that for the self-aware, freedom must be the ultimate goal.  No matter how nice the accommodations are under the oppressor, one will always wonder and always be drawn to freedom.  The desire of the sheep to fight against the coyote despite knowing the eventual outcome shows that freedom is worth any cost, even one’s life.  The initial surprise of the coyote at the attack from the seemingly week sheep parallels what colonizing countries exhibit in the face of a rebelling colony.  The coyote, or colonizing country exhibits judgment and prejudice against the subject, much like colonizing countries do of their subjects.  This idea of resorting to fighting was not held by all in India.  The famous Mohandas Gandhi advocated nonviolence and an approach of demonstration and sacrifice to show commitment and enact change.  Obviously in the animal world, in which you are either a predator or you are prey, these issues have to be simplified, as they are in this tale.


Note: This tale is also recounted in the publication Abu khan ki bakri dusri kahaniyan by Zakir Hussain.

Diwali Celebration

Informant Bio: Informant is my father.  He was born in Mumbai, India and moved to the U.S . when he was 22.  He still remembers many of the poems and songs from his childhood.  He is fluent in over five languages and provides the original folklore and translations below.


Context: I was interviewing the informant about childhood traditions, rituals, songs sung and tales performed.



Item: “As a kid growing up one of my favorite, perhaps my most favorite holiday was Diwali, or Devali.  We waited for that holiday for months, and, uh, preparations were all around us, you know, my mother used to be busy for months making sweets and goodies that could be shared with family and friends during the holidays.  It actually was a great time of the year weather-wise; we had our half-yearly exams in the schools just before the Diwali vacation so we were more relaxed for the three-four week holiday across schools and colleges across the country.  No matter where you went people would be preparing or anticipating Diwali.


One of the things I enjoyed most as a kid was going to different sweet and gift shops with my dad.  You’d be buying custom packages of sweets and you could pick and choose what you wanted in the box.  One of the things I enjoyed the most was that you were allowed to taste everything in the shop.  I really enjoyed this process especially since we would never normally buy these kinds of things.  I’d give my suggestion to my dad and he would listen and agree – this was my bonding time with my dad.  These boxes were decorated extensively and wrapped, and we would then go to different peoples homes where he would give them the gifts with me by his side.  I would shake hands with the people and greet them, wish them ‘Happy Diwali’, and in general have a very pleasant experience and be able to meet different people and see new places.  Most of these people were my father’s business associates or people who’d done him favors throughout the year.  He remembered most of the people who he felt he owed something.  The gifts were a way to give back and everyone accepted gifts at this time.


Diwali is, uh, in some sense a religious holiday depending on the religion that you follow.  India has a lot of religions and lots of uh, variety of people with backgrounds, ethnicity and culture, but somehow all people celebrated this particular holiday.  Rich and poor, Hindu and not Hindu, children and adults all participated.  It’s like Christmas in the U.S. in that you cannot move around without being touched by the holiday.  Growing up, Diwali was not commercialized like Christmas is in the U.S. however.  Diwali is when businessmen closed their fiscal year and represents the start of the new year based on the Lunar calendar.  There is no consensus on the exact calendar so Diwali is celebrated at different times throughout the country (sometimes a day or two ahead or behind other places).  It falls on the last month of the year (in the no moon phase of the lunar calendar).


The festival itself is five to six days long, and in some parts of the country it stretches to fifteen days.  It usually falls somewhere in October or November.  Uh, mainly most of the people celebrate five days.  The first day is called ‘Dhanteres’ meaning the thirteenth day of the lunar calendar on the no moon side.  Dhan means ‘wealth’ and, that’s the day that businessmen especially would worship their books, and sort-of be thankful for the good year that they’ve had, and, uh that’s a big celebration and right after that there are some sweets and other things that are distributed.  Bonuses are given out to employees and it is a very happy day for most people.  They worship the books and wealth because in Indian culture wealth is not taboo; the pursuit of wealth is considered part of every person’s endeavor.  It is believed that if you are wealthy or if the goddess of wealth has bestowed her blessings on you, it just means you are being rewarded for your good deeds in the past life.  If you continue doing good deeds, you will be rewarded in the future life if stuff isn’t working out right now.


The following day is called “Kali Chaudus”, with Kali meaning evil, occurring on the fourteenth day of the lunar cycle in which the evil is won over by goodness.  It is a celebration of the triumph of good over evil.


Then comes the Diwali, which is, uh, on the day of the New Moon.  The way the festivities work is that all throughout these holidays people wear nice clothes with the women dressing up.  On that particular day of Diwali there are feasts all over the place.  This is the thing that people really look forward to.  How do people spend months preparing for this?  Girls and older women especially would adorn the entrances to their homes with what is called ‘rangoli’ right outside the door on the side.  They would make dry paints on the floor itself and go in different designs with some of them getting really elaborate, making different shapes.  Basically this is all to welcome visitors that they would be expecting in the holidays.  It reaches a point where regionally people may have competitions among the amateur artists in which the best rangoli is chosen.  The other thing that children were involved with, and this probably didn’t happen throughout the country but did in the area I grew up, was the people in the neighborhood would get together and setup in one of the building compounds that is fenced off.  It would be a 20 feet by 20 feet area in which they’d make different sculptures, statues, a water dam, or maybe scientific experiments.  This would be strung together in an elaborate showing and people would come visit and provide feedback, criticize or admire the work that was done.  You always wanted to put on the best show, it was kind of like show and tell in that you wanted to show the best stuff possible.  There would be more regional competitions which sort of brought out the competitive spirits and different kind of activity that you don’t get involved with during the year or normal school days.  I, as a kid, spent a lot of time trying to come up with ideas and putting these things together.


One of the big things during this time is firecrackers.  There were no restrictions about lighting them up.  They were freely available in stores, in fact this was a boom time for all the small shops that carried them.  Surprisingly, there were very few accidents where people got hurt.  I lit up a ton of firecrackers (and everyone else did too).  Every morning, starting around 4/5AM until 8/9AM you’d hear firecrackers and then again at night from 7PM to midnight.  This went on in every street in every corner of the city.  Yes it was noisy, but this was Diwali so people were celebrating so people would expect it and get used to it.


The other thing that would happen was just before Diwali people would decorate their homes with different lights, after all this is the festival of lights.  So, they would have electric bulbs sort of strung together in different patterns, decorative lights, and also some, uh, lanterns that are hand-made and oil burning flame.  These lanterns would be all over the place and people would make very elaborate shapes and be artistic with the light.  It looked beautiful; wherever you turned, you saw lights and the celebration, and that was Diwali.


This went on and on.  The day after Diwali, businessmen would worship the goddess of wealth and start their books for the new year.  There was no money exchanged but orders would be placed so it was sort of a big start for the new year.  People would be very joyous and contracts would be exchanged.


The next day is considered New Year’s Day according to the Hindu calendar.  That morning, people would get up early both children and adults.  They would wear their best clothes that they saved/planned to wear.  People would go out to friends and relatives’ houses, teachers, doctors and dentists houses and would knock on their doors and wish them happy new year.  They would be invited in and would take a little bit of snacks and sweets and went from home to home and place to place.  This would go on for almost a whole day.


The following day, the second day of the year, is called “Bhaibeej” or brother’s day.  Sisters would invite their brothers and their family to come to their home for dinner, and, uh the brother would bring some special gift for the sister and sort of vow to protect her that no harm would come to her that year.  That basically would end the Diwali.  Some parts of the country would have extra days of a Mini Diwali celebration with the same festivities on a smaller scale continue.


Analysis: Diwali represents the triumph of brightness over darkness and good over evil.  The festival legend surrounds the return of Lord Rama from a fourteen year exile.  He was fighting the demon king Ravana and succeeded.  People lit a path of oil lamps for Lord Rama and his family to follow back to their palace.  This would be an extraordinarily happy time that calls for celebration, as Diwali does.


Highly illuminated homes signify a connection to the skies and heavens; people are trying to show respect while also garnering a connection with the heavens for the attainment of wealth, happiness and prosperity (all associated with light).  The use of firecrackers helps call attention to the heavens of humans and their happy expressions.  The significance of light could also be investigated on an internal level.  We want avoid being consumed by darkness, but instead exude the light so that we can make the world around us a better place, achieve illumination of the soul and be closer to the heavens.


Interviewer Note: I included some pictures of the rangoli and Diwali celebrations in the attachment labeled ‘Diwali Pictures.docx”.

Puri Ek Andheri Ne Gandu Raja – Indian Tale

Folklore Type: Tale


Informant Bio: Informant is my father.  He was born in Mumbai, India and moved to the U.S. when he was 22.  He still remembers many of the poems and songs from his childhood.  He is fluent in over five languages and provides the original folklore and translations below.


Context: I was interviewing the informant about childhood traditions, rituals, songs sung and tales performed.


Item: “પૂરી એક એન્ધેરી ને ગન્ડુ રાજા  “Poorii Ek Andherii Neh Gandoo Rajah

ટકે શેર ભાજી ટકે શેર ખાજા                   Taakeh sher bhaaji taakeh sher khajha

બધી ચીજ વેંચાય જ્યાં ભાવ એકે         badhi chija venchay jyan bhav aekae

કદી સારી બુરી ન વેચે વિવેકે                 kadi saari boori na veche viveke

ત્યાં જઈ ચડયા બે ગુરૂ એક ચેલો           Tyannh Jaai chaadya Bae Gooroo aek Cheloh

ગયો ગામમાં માગવા શિષ્ય પહેલો       Gaayo gaam-manh mahgwah sheeshya pahelo

લીધી સુખડી હાટથી આપી આટો           lidhi sukhadi haat thi aapi aato

ગુરૂ પાસે જઈને કહે ખૂબ ખાટ્યો                        guru pase jaine kahe khub khatyo

ગુરૂજી કહે રાત રહેવું ન અહીં                  guruji kahe raat rahevun na aahin

સહૂ એક ભાવે ખપે ચીજ ત્યાહીં              sahu ek bhave khape chij tyanhi

હશે ચોર ને શાહનો ન્યાય એકે               hashe chor ne shahno nyaya ekay

નહીં હોય શિક્ષા ગુનાની વિવેકે              nahi hoy shiksha gunani vivekay

ન એ વસ્તીમાં એક વાસો વસીજે           na e vastiman ek vaso vasije

ચલો સદ્ય ચેલા જવું ગામ બીજે                         chalo sadhya chela javun gaam bijay

કહે શિષ્ય ખાવા પીવા ખૂબ આહીં          kahe shishya khava piva khub aahin

તજી તેહ હું તો ન આવીશ ક્યાંહી            taji teha hun to na aavish kyanhin

ગુરૂએ બહૂ બોધ દીધો જ ખાસો            guru  ae bahu bothe didho ja khaso

નહીં યોગ્ય આહીં રહ્યે રાતવાસો                        nahin yogya aahin rahyo raatvaso

ન માની કશી વાત તે શિષ્ય જ્યારે        na maani kashi vaat te shisya jyare

ગુરૂજી તજીને ગયા ગામ ત્યારે               guruji tajine gaya gaam tyare

રહ્યા શિષ્યજી તો ત્યહાં દિન ઝાઝા         rahya shishyaji to tyan deen zaza

બહૂ ખાઈ પીને થયા ખૂબ તાજા                         bahu khai peene thaya khub taja

પછીથી થયા તેહના હાલ કેવા               pachhithi thaya haal tehna keva

કહૂં છું હવે હૂં સુણો સદ્ય તેવા                   kahun chhun haave hoon suno sadhya teva

તસ્કર ખાતર પાડવા ગયા વણિકને ઘેર Taskar khaatar paadva gya vanik-ne gher

ત્યાં ભીંત તૂંટી પડી ચોર દબાયા ચાર   tyan bhit tooti padi chor dabaya char

માત પ્રભાતે ચોરની ગઈ નૃપને ફરિયાદ           maat prabhate chorni gai nrupne fariyad

શૂળી ઠરાવી શેઠને ડોશીની સૂણી દાદ                shudi tharavi shethne doshini suni daad

વણિક કહે કડિયા તણો એમાં વાંક અપાર           vanik kahe kadia tano ema vank apar

ખરેખરી એમાં નથી મારો ખોડ લગાર                khare khari ema nathi maro khod lagaar

કળીઆને શૂળી ઠરી વણિક બચ્યો તે વાર          kadiane shudi chadi vanik bachyo te vaar

ચૂકે ગારો કરનારની કડીએ કરી ઉચ્ચાર                        chuke gaaro karnaarni kadi-e kari uchaar

ગારો કરનારો કહે પાણી થયું વિશેષ                  gaaro karnaro kahe pani thayun vishesh

પુરપતી કહે પખાલીને જો તું શૂળીએ જાય         Purpati kahe pakhalin-e jo tu shudi-e jaay

આજ પછી આ ગામમાં એવા ગૂના ન થાય        aaj pachi aa gam-ma e va guna na thaay

મુલ્લા નીસર્યાં મારગે મેં જોયું તે દિશ              mullah nisarya maarghe m-e joyun te deesh

પાણી અધીક તેથી પડ્યું, રાજા છાંડો રીસ          pani adhik tethi padyun raja chhando rees

મુલ્લાજીને મારવા કરી એવો નિરધાર               mullahji ne maarvaa kari e-voh nirdhaar

શૂળી પાસે લઈ ગયા મુલ્લાને તે વાર                shudi pas-e lai gayaa mullah ne te vaar

ફડ જાડું શૂળી તણૂ મુલ્લાં પાતળે અંગ              faad jadun shudi tanhoo mullah paatde ang

એવી હકીકત ચાકરે જઈ કહી ભૂપ પ્રસંગ           evi hakikaat chakray jai kahi bhup prasang

ભૂપ કહે શું હર ઘડી આવી પૂછો કોઈ                  bhup kahe shun hargadi aavi puchho koi

શોધી ચઢાવો શૂળીએ જાડા નરને જોઈ              shodhi chadavo shudi-e jaadaa narne joi

જોતાં જોતાં એ જડ્યો જોગી જાડે અંગ               jotan jotan e jadyo jogi jaade ang

બહુ દિન ખાઈને બન્યો રાતે માતે રંગ               bahu din khai ne banyo rat-e mat-e rang

શિષ્ય મુદત માગી ગયો ગુરૂ પાસે પસ્તાય shishya mudaat maagi gayo guru paas=e pastay

ગુરૂએ આવી ઉગારીઓ અદભૂત કરી ઉપાય      guru-e aavi ugario adbhut kari upaay

જોગી શૂળી પાસે જઈ કહે ભૂપ સુણ કાન jogi shudi pas-e jai kah-e bhup soon kaan

આ અવસર શૂળીએ ચડે, વેગે મળે વિમાન ah avasar shudi-e chad-e vegh-e mad-e vimaan

ચેલો બોલ્યો હું ચડું, ગુરૂ કહે હું આપ                   chelo bolyo hun chadu, guru kah-e hun aap

અધિપતિ કહે ચઢીએ અમો પૂરણ મળે પ્રતાપ adhipati kah-e chadhi-e amoh puran mad-e prataap

ગુરૂ ચેલાને ગામથી પહોંચ્યા ગાઉ પાંચ                  guru chelan-e gaamthi pahonchya gau paanch

રાજા શૂળી પર રહ્યો અંગે વેઠી આંચ”                 raja shudi par rahyo ang-e vethi aanya”




Translation: “There was a weird city with a crazy ruler

Where it cost penny a pound for veggies or delicacies

where all things sell at the same price

never differentiate between good and bad

there arrived two – a monk and his disciple

headed to town to beg, the disciple first

he traded flour that he got for sweets

returned and told the boss, look, I won big

guru said we should not stay here any longer

where everything is sold at the same price

they must have the same rules for both thief and victims

with no regards for fairness, robber and the victim must be treated alike

we shouldn’t stay in a lawless place like this

let’s go, dear disciple, to another town right now

disciple said what? leave a place full of so many goodies?

No, No, I will never go anywhere and leave this place

Guru did his best to persuade him to leave

and not spend another night here

when the disciple didn’t listen to anything he had to say

guruji left the place and moved on to next town

disciple said that for many many days

and kept eating the goodies and got fatter and fatter

what happened to him afterwards…

Listen and I will tell you what happened…

Robbers went to a rich man’s home to steal

there the wall caves in four thieves got buried

mother of the thieves went to King to complain

upon hearing the old lady’s complaint, king ordered the rich man to be hanged

rich man said it surely was mason’s biggest fault

truthfully, I am not to be blamed for this

mason was sentenced to be hanged and rich man survived this time

mason said it wasn’t me, but the guy that mixed the concrete – he put too much water

concrete mixer guy said it wasn’t my fault, the guy that adds water added too much

king tells the guy who adds water that if you are hanged then

this kingdom will not see such a crime ever

guy that added the water says, while I was working, a Muslim monk passed by and I looked in his direction

and that’s why more water fell in the mix, so king, please understand – it wasn’t my fault

OK OK the decision is made to kill the Muslim monk (said the king)

Muslim monk was brought on the hanging platform

noose on the hanger was too big to fit the thin monk

so reported the hang-man to the king

king said why do you keep bothering me with such silly matters

simply go find a fat guy and hang him

looking they found the fat disciple

all that eating had made him really pinkish and juicy

as a last wish the disciple went to the guru, repented and cried

guru returned with the disciple with an ingenious scheme in mind

guru approached the hanging platform and said listen to me, your highness

this very moment stars are lined up such that who ever hangs, is destined to go straight to heaven in an airplane

disciple say let me hang, guru said no, no, let me hang , me please…

king said I will be the one that will hang, so I can reach the paradise right away. I will not let this chance pass me bye.

guru and disciple went miles away from this place in a hurry…

… while the king lay dead on the hanger”



Analysis: This tale is a cautionary one against the government/authority figures seeking extreme equality of results.  Those who do are engaging in a futile act, and, worse, can end up doing more harm than good.  The king, who was a fool for presiding over such a system, ended up being tricked into death by a more rational man who did not like the equality-at-all-costs system.  The disciple, though he became sidetracked and lost his way, was eventually saved by the teacher when he realized he was lost and begged for forgiveness and acceptance by the teacher.  Many stories feature distractions and a character being sidetracked, and eventually being redeemed or choosing the right path, as seen in this story.


Burgers for Soccer Goals

Informant Bio: Informant is my friend from high school who also goes to the University of Southern California.  We currently live together and he is a third year electrical engineering major.  His dad is from Concord,  Massachusetts and represents a large blend of different cultures.  His mom is from upstate New York and is mostly of Hungarian, Italian and American ancestry.


Context: I was interviewing the informant about childhood traditions and rituals that he remembered well.


Item: “For our family and sports, if you played soccer or something, for us it was soccer and hockey, but we almost never ate fast food because our parents were healthy and against it.  But as kids, we still wanted fast food since it tasted good.  The way we would get fast food is that for every goal we scored we’d get a burger.  It worked surprisingly well (laughs)”.


Analysis: The informant shows some of the views very apparent in Massachusetts that fast food represents some of the most unhealthy food you could eat.  Although the health food craze is not as fully developed as in California, many families prefer home-cooked foods using natural, organic and locally procured goods.  There are still many farms located in our area (there are three alone within a one mile radius of my home in Massachusetts).  The rewarding with food also follows along with the informant’s recounting of his family’s graduation party tradition that heavily surrounded food and positive reinforcement as well.

Graduation Party

Informant Bio: Informant is my friend from high school who also goes to the University of Southern California.  We currently live together and he is a third year electrical engineering major.  His dad is from Concord, Massachusetts and represents a large blend of different cultures.  His mom is from upstate New York and is mostly of Hungarian, Italian and American ancestry.


Context: I was interviewing the informant about childhood traditions and rituals that he remembered well.


Item: “So, essentially, uh we had some middle school graduation parties but they were definitely less extreme, mostly because we cared less about graduating middle school; it was harder to motivate us.  Um, but, our high school graduations (I grew up with three siblings, I’m the youngest), they were all pretty comparable.  We have a pretty big back yard at home, um, so we would do a lot of outdoor cooking and grilling.  One of them we did a roast with our backyard fire.  We invited a bunch of extended family (I have a lot of that live in Massachusetts).  So we invited grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles and it was usually always pretty low key events.  What typically would happen would be our immediate family and a couple other people would be there for like six or seven hours.  And then there would be more of a steady stream, kind of an open place for people to come give congratulations and thanks.  It was kind of low key because it was never at any point too packed.  Um, so essentially in terms of traditions and things that were always the same, there was always lots of food.  Everything seemed to revolve around food, with a large table that was sort of the centerpiece, the center attraction.  Typically, there was lots of grilling, and, my dad, who’s a pretty good chef would always ‘go big’.  It sort of fell in the holiday category in that regard where like whoever is graduated would get nagged about what they want to eat all the time.  Some of the things we’d always do…strangely enough bocce was always a regular habit.  Um, so big family bocce games, and then, uh, definitely a lot of drinking (laughs) at least amongst the adults.  Like when I was younger not so much since I had older siblings but the adults would always were like drinking to celebrate and make it festive.  Um, also it was more formal in that people would actually dress up and treat it as a big deal.  It was sort of ceremonious in that regard and wasn’t just a thrown together party”.


Informant Analysis: “My family’s significance…academics were always stressed in my family.  It was sort of not only stressed, but kind of like ‘you need to do this’.  I feel like, a lot of times, parents, uh it’s more on the negative side so if you’re slacking off in school you get in trouble.  But, my parents are more the opposite in that we were rewarded for doing well.  Back in elementary school, I remember my dad did this thing where if we got a’s on our report cards, he would give us 100 bucks.  Which, when you’re in elementary school is a ridiculous amount of money, so it [the graduation celebration] kind of was like a continuation of sorts where ‘you finished high school so we’re going to celebrate’”.


Analysis: My friend Max has had a rich childhood with strong family values and traditions.  The graduation party described above shows just how important academics are to many Americans, especially people in New England.  It is seen as the avenue to success and is treated as such.  Most celebrations heavily involve food, which is no surprise here.


The playing of bocce might seem a little curious, but, as the informant notes his family represents a blend of European ancestry.  No doubt some traditions have been carried over, adapted and otherwise blended together.


What does seem a little different here is the emphasis on extended family.  Many people in the U.S. have their family spread across the country, but, the informant notes that pretty much all of his extended family lives in Massachusetts.  The regular get-togethers show that they stay in contact and are relatively close and have developed roots in the Northeast area.

May Day in Kentucky

Informant Bio: Informant is my mother.  She was born in West Virginia and spent her childhood moving around the country, eventually settling in Massachusetts.  She was exposed to many different traditions as she moved around the country as a child and still carries some with her to this day.


Context: I was interviewing my mother about traditions, stories and rituals she remembers from her childhood.


Item: “As a young child I enjoyed our May Day celebrations.  The flagpole in front of the county court house was “dressed” up with brightly colored ribbons.  The girls would each hold one ribbon and run around the pole.  The younger girls succeed in making a big mess of the ribbons; but, as the girls got older, the movements improved and the spectacle was really beautiful and choreographed by a teacher at the elementary school”.


Analysis: This May Day celebration centered around the Maypole, and was directed by an elementary school teacher.  It was a community wide event, much like May Day celebrations throughout history.  The above account, with brightly colored ribbons, seems to celebrate the arrival of summer but does not have the sexual influences of European versions.


Historically, May Day has been a very political issue in the United States, with the first one on May 1, 1886 that had workers garnering support for lighter working hours.  After World War II and in the wake of the Cold War, May Day was strongly associated with Marxists and the USSR and was thus white-washed from American culture and history.  This may be why there is no major prevalence of May Day celebrations in the U.S. unlike many other major holidays.  Recently, the Occupy movement has revitalized May Day in an effort to raise awareness and support for worker’s rights.  This is in contrast to many parts of the world in which May Day has a strong and consistent history of celebration.

Easter in Kentucky

Informant Bio: Informant is my mother.  She was born in West Virginia and spent her childhood moving around the country, eventually settling in Massachusetts.  She was exposed to many different traditions as she moved around the country as a child and still carries some with her to this day.


Context: I was interviewing my mother about traditions, stories and rituals she remembers from her childhood.


Item: “Growing up in the Kentucky hills, Easter celebration is special.  Everyone dresses up in beautiful new spring clothes; the girls wore hats and white gloves.  First we went to church.  As a child it seemed to take FOREVER.  We had to wait for the service to end, the socializing after the service to end, AND THEN the good stuff started.  We got to go to my grandfather’s house.  He hid Easter eggs all over his yard. He had a HUGE yard and he loved to watch his grandchildren running all over frantically trying to find the most eggs!  We got a new basket to hold our eggs each year.  Also, my grandfather always gave my grandmother a chocolate rabbit as a gift!  Also, she didn’t like chocolate; but, it was his tradition, he always did it, and they laughed about it each year”.


Analysis: Easter seemed to be a very religious event for the adults but not for the kids.  Like Christmas, it seemed to bring people together (but to not as great an extent).  Easter also served as a way to usher in the changing of seasons, with the wearing of spring-type clothes, hats (for the sun) and white gloves (a southern tradition, but again showing the coming sun, brightness and purity that spring brings).


The grandfather’s house serves as the rendezvous point for the entire family, showing the prominent and important position that elders held in Southern families.  The inclusion of eggs and an egg hunt is prevalent throughout many Christian cultures and seems to define the whole experience for the children.  This may have served as a way to blend tradition and religious context with fun in a way that would reinforce the message about Jesus Christ while helping the children have an enjoyable experience and make memories after sitting through the lengthy Church service earlier in the day.

Rabbit on Moon – Japan

Informant Bio: Informant is a friend and PPD major.  He is a junior at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business.  His family is of Japanese heritage but has lived in the U.S. in Southern California for several generations.


Context: I was talking with the informant about any folklore his family tells.


Item: “So there’s this story that my mom used to tell me about why the moon looks the way it does.  Once upon a time, there were a bunch of animals that lived together peacefully.  They would go play on the mountain during the day and, at the end of the night, return to the forest to rest until the next day.  An old man who lived on the moon came down one day disguised as a wanderer to test the animals.  He asked if they could spare anything to eat and the animals each went off.  A monkey brought him his collection of nuts, a fox his fish from a trap, and the rabbit ran off trying to find something.  But, the rabbit couldn’t find anything, and had to go back to the old man empty handed.  Discouraged, the rabbit then told the monkey to get some grass and told the fox to light it on fire and jumped on the fire bed, telling the old man to eat him, as he had nothing to offer.  The man was so touched by this sacrifice that he took the rabbit and restored his form and brought him to heaven.  He placed him to rest on the moon, and that is why, to this day, we see the rabbit on the moon”.


Analysis: This tale seems to show the importance of kindness and sacrifice that is important to the Japanese.  Hospitality is also seen as important, as seen by the animals dropping everything they were doing and assisting the stranger.  Finally, when the rabbit realized it had nothing to give, it unquestioningly decided to sacrifice itself to feed the man.  Ritual suicide, known as Seppuku, was a huge part of Japanese culture and very accepted among the Japanese people.  It is not a sin, such as in Western cultures with mono-theistic religions to take your own life.  We also see a tendency to try to explain the unexplainable and assign meaning to all things in the world.  This is a common motif among all cultures, though some take it to further extremes than others.


Note: This tale can be found in Dictionary of Nature Myths: Legends of the Earth, Sea, and Sky by Tamra Andrews.