Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Civilisation Trap in the 21st Century

GREAT CIVILIZATIONS AND EMPIRES have vanished, but people prevail. However Industrial Civilization, from ‘Jenny’ to ‘Dolly’, monopolises resources of the Earth, and seems to be in great hurry to wipe out all living beings including fellow humans, to earn powers and profit.

 It takes the role of god-the-creator to create enormous wealth and enormous waste with tools of science, technology, market and economy. That too, of course, whether in big or small nations or societies, shall vanish, by its “over-specialisation”.

Thankfully, the majority of the world still sustain outside the capitalist / socialist economy, though the industrial civilization, through its puppets, tries hard to bring them into its dragnet.

It has created enormous number of institutions to take control of almost every aspect of personal and the collective living that end up their autonomy of decision-making and action, therefore, identity.

In such a situation, can I be autonomous? Not until I reflect upon what I eat and wear and patronise, and why, until the end of all rationale beyond the most publicised term ‘Global’. Then there is possibility of creative action/ inaction. That’s what “Local” means.

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© Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

Thursday, 15 July 2010


 Goldhunters in Mumbai - 1

Even from the gutters
of this city-life there is some hope
to recover a nugget
but from the morons there is none
– they are shipshape
for they’re hedonist market-delivered –
except for the parroted
responses impulsive, manipulations divisive.

What could one expect
from cultured synthetic show-plants
made at the assembly-plants 
by the culture of contentment and waste?
No flowers. No fruit.
Not a creative deed – no deliverance.
Mumbai [7-8-2002]   

Goldhunters in Mumbai - 2

 Note: Images 1 & 2 are by the author Remijius de Souza  
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© Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

In the Urban Wilderness

 Illustration- Stuffed Crested Lark

In the Urban Wilderness

Perhaps I could sing words of birds  
Along smiling shoots of spring  
In the company of mango bloom  
And soothing green of cuckoo's Pancham,  
And dance under the canopy of clouds  
To the peacock's call in the backyards  
On the pathway of Meghdootam  
There in the abode of Saras;  
Or inscribe them on deadly diskettes  
For the posterity.  

In my mega-city, mummies  
Of birds celebrate, sing silently,  
In the tombs of Natural History.  
Who shall cherish the memory  
Of my jungle of skyscrapers  
And of glass buildings which scares  
The heavenly eagles away;  
Of serpentine Metro that snatches  
The abode of Shesha's descendants away!   


Illustration: Stuffed Crested Lark in a natural history museum: species of plants and animals are becoming extinct with progress and development of Industrial Civilization.

Ref: Pancham: the Fifth note of the seven tones. Eagle is considered Lord Visnhu's vehicle by the Hindus. Meghdootam: The classic literary work in Sanskrit by poet Kalidasa.  Saras: a bird.  Shesha: Primeval serpent that lives in lower world, the bed of Lord Vishnu, the ancester of snakes on the earth.

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© Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Warli tribal customs

Traditions are a living history among the aborigine and ethnic communities. They, perhaps, understand the meanings and mysteries embedded in their customs, rite and rituals etc. by their grooming, intrinsic in their nature  I wonder if this is true today with the civilized societies: I wouldn’t claim that I understand.

“Brother, it is not a picnic. It is like fasting” 

Here is a custom that is an environmental action.
Tribal do not treat the house as merely a shelter. They personify house and village, just as earth and river are mothers. Warli and Katkari tribes have a tradition of observing a day in a year: On that day, all the members of village community go out of the village across it s border. That day on one cooks at home neither remains at home. They carry their utensils, foodstuff, water, and firewood for cooking meals. They perform a religious rite and sacrifice a goat at the place where there are sacred masts erected by the tribal. It is the sacred site on the border of the village. A woman heads and conducts the ceremony. She stands in trance for nearly two hours, and then conducts the ritual. Outside the border of the village, the families cook their own meals, eat and return home in the evening. Prakash Sutar, a teenage Warli, explains the custom without mincing the words, “Brother, it is not a picnic. It is like fasting”.

(Extract, The end piece: Cleansing, the last paragraph, from “Warli House and Habitat-1").

 There are number of occasions when entire community meets, 
have meals together, drinking toddy singing and dancing.

For an aborigine, a person, though no more, is not a part of chronological history, but a vital essence to nurture body, mind and spirit. For example, an ancestral worship, more than a ritual, is a renewal of community bond. A most outstanding example is that of Ekalavya in Epic Mahabharata. The Bhill tribes continue to this date “not to use their thumb in archery” in the memory of Ekalavya – their ancestor in the distant past.

Among the Warli tribe there is a custom. After harvest, “gods” visit house after house in their hamlet. They predict if the coming times will prove to be of plenty or shortage by measuring the heaps of harvested grain. They don’t measure the entire heap. They are given grains in a bamboo pan which they measure.

 This occasion of community meals took place 
soon after harvest at a Warli hamlet, when we visited them.

Well, the “gods” are a group of guys from the community; they could be any persons from the hamlet / settlement. They are not branded to be gods permanently. They are gods only during this event. These gods do not turn to be “god persons” – swamis and Baba – as in the civilised societies who generally exploit the faithful.

By this custom, I suppose, the whole community knows who has earned how much wealth – the harvested grain – fruits of the labour: No secrets! There are many meaningful customs among the aborigine tribes full of wisdom.

This is in contrast to urban elite society, who is touchy about personal privacy and secrecy – among persons, among families, among groups! The governments, too, are bound by wows of secrecy, while the public debate goes on upholding transparency and governance!

Remigius de Souza

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© Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.