September 10, 2011 on 10:18 am
Dear Spiritual Explorer: I notice that you have some tote bags at Ma’s India. Why are they called “tote” bags? Lionel H.,The Hamptons, NY
Dear Lionel: I really appreciate your asking that question because I wondered that myself. Apparently, during the 17th century, unfortunately and to the shame of our country, American slaves did most of the heavy lifting in the United States South. Most of these slaves were from West Africa and still spoke their native Bantu language. Tota is the Bantu word for “lifting’ or “carrying.” From these slaves and then through the plantation owners, tota entered English as “tote.” The term “tote bag” was derived from tote and popularized around 1900. A wonderful singer by the name of Paul Robeson wrote a lyric called “Tote that barge and lift that bale. You show a little grit/and you land in jail.” If anything could resurrect and restore that old verb, it would be the beautifully painted Ganesh Tote Bag.
The Ganesh tote bag can be used as a purse, or just general tote bag to carry just about anything. The Ganesh tote bag is amazingly strong. If I feel burdened, I am comforted by the picture of Ganesh beautifully illustrated on the bag. The Ganesh pictured on this tote bag looks quite feminine as you view his countenance and also see his graceful hands wearing substantial jewelry.
If I had to make a wish that was capable of reversing events in time, I wish that when those slaves toted those barges, they could have had something wonderful to which to dedicate their hard work and devotion. Lord Ganesh as you know is the great protector and remover of obstacles. I am sure that Lord Ganesh could have lightened their load. However, carrying one of these tote bags is sure to “enlighten” us in our lives.
Thanks for writing, Spiritual Explorer
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