miercuri, 9 martie 2011

Feeding the Elements

My brother-in-law, Bhupen Gandhi, commented on my post about how a cow almost ate the mail:

There was a time [growing up] in Calcutta, when I used to make special trips to feed cows. Ba would make extra rotis [bread] for five offerings: to earth, water, fire, crows and cows. After throwing pieces of roti at crows -- which contain the spirits of our relatives and forefathers, who must be pacified -- I would carry rotis in a brown bag and go out to look for a cow in the streets. I would empty the contents of the bag in front of it when I found one and watch it eat. I wasn't the only one doing it, and cows were used to people approaching to feed them. They would snach the paper bag right out of your hands and eat the whole thing.

Ba would make small 2" rotis and add ghee on the top. She would put one on the saghadi (our coal fired earthen-pot stove) fully afire. She would put another roti on the floor next to the thali [the metal plate from which one eats], say a prayer and sprinkle water on the roti. Thus earth, water and fire. This was a daily ritual.