The Holy Grail
The Grail plays a different role everywhere it appears, but in most versions of the legend the hero must prove himself worthy to be in its presence. In the early tales, Percival's immaturity prevents him from fulfilling his destiny when he first encounters the Grail, and he must grow spiritually and mentally before he can locate it again. In later tellings the Grail is a symbol of God's grace, available to all but only fully realized by those who prepare themselves spiritually, like the saintly Galahad. Other legends featured magical platters or dishes that symbolize otherworldly power or test the hero's worth. Sometimes the items generate a never-ending supply of food, sometimes they can raise the dead. Sometimes they decide who the next king should be, as only the true sovereign could hold them. On the other hand, some scholars believe the Grail began as a purely Christian symbol.
Another recent theory holds that the earliest stories that cast the Grail in a Christian light were meant to promote the Roman Catholic sacrament of the Holy Communion. Although the practice of Holy Communion was first alluded to in the Christian Bible and defined by theologians in the first centuries AD, it was around the time of the appearance of the first Christianized Grail literature that the Roman church was beginning to add more ceremony and mysticism around this particular sacrament. Most scholars today accept that both Christian and Celtic traditions contributed to the legend's development. Whatever the holy grail might have been, its stories still intrigue hundreds of people.
By Nishita Aurnab
The World Tree- Norse Mythos
Let us talk about times long forgone, you and I. Let us talk about a time when a man's worth was proven solely by the fearlessness of his heart, the strength of his arms and the mettle of his sword. This was a time when a group of people lived solely for the glory that was warfare, the happiness that they only derived in battlefield- dying what used to be known as an honorable death, the worship to their gods in the form of battle. It's too epic to ring true in today's world, but it was the custom once, in the world of the Norse men.
There are various legends abound about their lives, customs and beliefs; few are true, while others are glorified untruths. What is known is known from the Poetic Edda (the poetry, of the Norse men, that has survived). So we find from the mouth of the horse itself the stories about the great All-Father Odin, the thunder god Thor, the trickster Loki, the imminent Ragnarok. While all of that will come in due time, let us talk today, about Yggdrasil.
Translated, Yggdrasil means “The Terrible One's Horse”, but that isn't what it really is. An introduction to Yggdrasil is difficult, so think of it like the center of the Norse world. Yggdrasil was a great ash tree, referred to as The World Tree because it was located in the center of the universe, joining the nine worlds of the Norse cosmology. The trunk of the tree formed a vertical axis, around which these worlds were situated, with Ásgard, realm of the gods, at the top and Hel, located in Niflheim (where men who died unheroic deaths went), at the bottom. Midgard, our world that is inhabited by humans, was located in the middle and surrounded by Jötunheim, land of Jötunn (the giants).
Odin the leader of the gods and the father of all, once hung himself from the branches of the Yggdrasil to attain wisdom for nine nights. Many of his followers in Norse myth also did the same (to somewhat foreseeable results). It is believed that the Germanic custom of sacrificing humans by hanging them from trees is derived from this legend. Reference to it is made in the Poetic Edda:
I know that I hung on a windy tree
Odin's transcendence to spiritual wisdom in Norse myth was seen as a travel, and that is why the tree is known as The Terrible One's Horse. He traveled on the tree to wisdom, and as the god of wisdom, amongst other things, and the king of all of Ásgard, one can imagine how important the tree is to the whole of Norse mythology.
The tree's roots are constantly gnawed by the terrible Nidhogg (tearer of corpses) and other serpents, threatening it. It was predicted in Norse mythology that when the end of the world would come along, the fire giant named Surtr would light the tree on fire. But this wouldn't be the end of Yggdrasil. The end of the world in Norse myth, known as Ragnarok, will destroy everything and everyone, except only the few gods that hide under the shade of Yggdrasil.
Other names for the tree include: Ask Yggdrasil, Hoddmimir's Wood, Laerad and Odin's Horse.
By Ahsan Sajid
There is food and there is food, and then there is jhalmuri. This quintessential, spicy, superfast easy to make delicacy is available all over the place and so much so that we tend to take it for granted.
A walk down any congested traffic clogged road in Dhaka will bring to the fore someone carrying around a plastic sack of muri (puffed rice) and other assorted spices. And the thing is, these people tend to have customers no matter where they go and they don't have an exclusive clientele. Notice that a jhalmuri seller serves not only the street kids but the street kids who happen to have rich fathers and expensive homes but hang out on the streets because its just so gangsta. A jhalmuri seller is a master at simultaneously tickling and burning your taste buds (thanks to the spice).
I'm sure all of you have seen, if not the show itself then at least the adverts of Top Chef. The contestants there all have these great skills and a boxed set of knives for some reason which they never use but carry around and take back with them when they leave. The contestants are always berated or praised along the lines of spices and flavors and the general sogginess of their creations.
Now, if we could send one of our own muriwallas to those shows, the muriwalla would definitely trump each and every person there. That's because when it comes to spicy, our resident jhalmuri sellers know exactly how much green chili to add to make your eyes water. And when it comes to flavors, there are an infinite number of things the muriwalla can deign to add, ranging from tomatoes to peanuts. There are so many variations of jhalmuri that the judges will, I'm sure be wowed by the level of experimentation. And come on, I have yet to taste soggy jhalmuri; unless it's raining of course…
We hear how gourmet chefs make a lot of money and reap a lot of fame; take that Tommy Miah dude for instance. The average muriwalla is famous in the street he sells and everybody there knows him and eventually pays him for muri. If you think about it, a muriwalla is almost like them gourmet chefs, he doesn't have to strain much but he earns enough everyday. No where will you find a muriwalla who hasn't sold much in the day. And muriwallas tend to be better than a chef, for one thing a muriwalla won't sell you stuff like caviar that doesn't taste good (okay so they say you need to acquire the taste) and he doesn't charge enough that you could buy a small Maruti with the same amount for the darn fish eggs. Nope, a muriwalla promises cheap prices, food that ain't fish and you don't need to acquire any taste at all, it's already there.
A gourmet chef would probably be able to provide you with a wide range of stuff to choose from, usually from a glossy menu. A muriwalla has everything he offers right there in front of you, and it may not be all that much, but it sure is great, and you don't really need glossy menus when you see chanachur being mixed. You're already anticipating chewing on it. And that's what matters don't it?
By Tareq Adnan
From bad luck to worse luck
As far as supernatural stuff are concerted, superstitions and omens are the most lame/crazy/awesome part. 'If you eat with your left hand and one of the fingers are misplaced from the food the ghost of Tzarino Marizo will come and haunt you for the rest of your life.' So okay, superstitions are not THAT lame, but they are creepy and tell a sign from every little happening. I got some superstitions that might somehow, someday, for some people might work.
Bones- If you burn beef/chicken bones by mistake it is a sign of much sorrow to come on account of poverty. To burn fish or poultry bones indicates a rumor being spread about you.
Bush (The good one) - To have one's garments wedged up by a bush when walking is a good sign that indicates monetary gain.
Button- If you fasten the button into a wrong buttonhole, bad luck awaits you
Candle- If a candle falls over, ill luck is not far off.
Hair- to attract good fortune one's hair should be cut at the new moon.
Hand- If you knock your hand accidentally against a piece of wood or wooden article, it is an indication that you are about to have a love affair. If you brush it against iron, it must be taken as a warning against treachery.
Meeting- It is very lucky if, by chance, you meet the same person twice when you are out on a business. It is even luckier if you encounter him once you are setting out and again when you are returning.
Nail cutting- There is a rhyme for this!
Table- It is unlucky to sit on a table unless one foot touches it
Words- When you are talking to someone, and if you two happen to say the same word at the same time, you must clasp each other's little finger and wish. Then if you do not disclose your wish, it will be fulfilled.
If you are one of them who does not believe in this, do not call my article trash, because the power of the unknown will vanquish you, one day…
By Raida Kifait Reza
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