Captain Yashpal Singh
The concept of globalization has brought revolutionary changes in third world countries. Indiais no exception and has seen unprecedented prosperity and related life-style changes. Not justcities, villages are presenting new looks too. Childhood memories of just about three decadesago seem very strange and distant. The capital city of Delhi, citadel of power and clout, wasloosely mentioned as urban village. Today’s amenities, which we take for granted, wereconspicuous by their absence and considered ‘available’ only in western world.For example, owning crudely made, license controlled, black and white T.V. was a luxury andstatus symbol. Even then, there was only one channel, which was nothing but government’smouth-piece. The transmission was limited to few hours of evening and night.So the main source of recreation was street entertainers. They used toroam the lanes of residential areas and announce their arrival in their individual style of playingflute, violin or beating a small drum. The call was intended to attract the children and in aninstant we used to know that a particular entertainer was around the corner or across the street.The entertainer used to choose an open and suitable space, squat on the ground and startopening his bag full of paraphernalia. There was no dearth of open, wide spaces then. Oh! I amgetting nostalgic. He used to play an assortment of tricks, as we, mostly children, adolescentsand some adults gathered around him forming a ring. Some preferred to watch from theirverandahs and roof tops. Alas! No more roof tops and verandahs now. Marriage of monkeycouple and fight of snake and mongoose were all time favourites for most of us. At the end of the show, the man used to go around the circle of spectators asking for money. People gave asper their discretion and capability. Anyway, they did earn their living that way.They also used to sell the dead discarded skin of snake. Some peopleused to buy that on the basis of their beliefs. Some thought that keeping a piece would keep thesnake-god (
) happy and away. Some students believed that keeping a bit of thedead skin in their books would invoke the blessings and be helpful in their studies.
These were superstitions and false beliefs. Shedding of skin by snakes isa natural and biological process. No superstition need be attached to it. In simple English it iscalled moulting or sloughing. In zoology, it is termed as ecdysis. It is part of their naturalgrowing up. Young snakes slough their skins more often and as they age the frequency of sloughing reduces. So, instead of feeling scared or harbouring any superstitions we shouldmarvel at the wonderful creation of the Wondrous Lord. In fact, this phenomenon is capable of teaching us humans some useful lessons as well. That is what I learnt, when I was doing asimple reading of Guru Granth Sahib. I was pleasantly surprised to find a mention of ecdysis inGurbani. Not only did it bring back the childhood memories of street entertainment, it gave mereason to introspect and look inwards. Let us ponder over the following two quotes fromGurbani and move towards improving our lives.