Now and then, I think of then and now. Today is Mahasivarathri day. Till a few years back, I used to spend the major part of the night in a Siva Temple and watch the Pooja. As I am not physically up to it these days, I watch the night long ceremonies in Jaggi Vasudev’s Isha Centre which is telecast on TV channels. I am amazed by the massive crowd he draws from all over the World for this night long ceremony. Ceremony is probably a misnomer as the night witnesses more of dancing and singing. Last year I was amazed by the jigs he himself danced which found our ace dancer of the tinsel world, Prabhu Dava woefully wanting. I was just thinking of how much the celebration of Sivarathri has undergone a change. When I was in my early teens, there used to be special midnight shows of well known movies like Chandralekha to keep awake through the night. Keeping awake on Sivarathri those days was more important than visiting Temples! The midnight show would start well after midnight and would go on till the wee hours of the morning. At the end of the movie we would sleepily walk back home, have a hot cup of filter coffee and have a bath in half a bucket of water as there was terrible water scarcity in Madras (Chennai) then. We had a hand operated coffee grinding machine for grinding fresh coffee powder and it was my job to do the grinding. The hot coffee would be followed by a quick and simple lunch at 10a.m. There was no habit of having breakfast in our circles those days. We would sleep through the day till the evening and we would all be looking like zombies! Jaggi Vasudev packs his religious chanting and discourse interspersed with a lot of music and dancing. Or should I say that he packs the music and dancing sessions with some religious discourse in between? As the chanting gets hysterical, people start dancing like possessed ones. This dancing will be more interesting than the ones that accompany the music and dancing sessions. We can spot celebrity film stars from Mumbai and Chennai dancing in gay abandon. Today’s singers include Sonu Nigham, Daler Mehndi and Sean Roldon. Over one lakh people have registered for the night of fun and devotion. It is said that Winter at Chennai officially ends on Sivarathri day. This is just an old belief. Air conditioners in my house have been switched on a week back more to escape the marauding mosquitoes than to keeping ourselves cool. The summer fruits have already started crowding the pavements. Hotels will sell more Rose Milk and Buttermilk than coffee or tea. Tempers will be running high everywhere where people congregated for various purposes. Incidents that made people smile a couple of months back would make them mad now. The Sun’s transit from South to North is considered auspicious for dying but it makes living really tough. It is a great pity that summer is the chosen time for examinations in schools and colleges. The educationists probably think that minds get sharper in summer. We underwent similar experience in our student days in our youth but Chennai was much cooler then with a sharp rainfall most of the evenings. Of the four seasons only Summer has two M’s in between. Does it mean anything to you? Of course, it means nothing to me!