Sunday, August 28, 2011

Weekend Delicacy: Upama Kozaikatai

I know it is a terribly tongue twisting word, however it is one of the delicacies of the South Indian Brahmin communities.

It is quite easy to make, and it is made out of powdered rice and coarsely powdered Tuwar dhal,  grated coconut  along with green chillies/ red chillies and ginger, salt and Hing.

It is first made like upama, and then shaped with hands and steamed in the cooker like the regular idlys.

One can have it Sambhar, Coconut chutney, or just with the wonderful tasting Mulagai podi (Special red chilly powder with sesame oil).

It is a healthy, wholesome dish.

Tell me does it look and sound interesting?

The will of the people.....

"Parliament has spoken....the will of Parliament is the will of people," said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh commenting on the development.

I just love this Stamp: The first stamp of independent India. It was released on 21 Nov 1947, was meant for foreign correspondence.

The three conditions set by Anna Hazare to end his fast – making the lower bureaucracy accountable, having an effective grievances redressal system for ordinary people, and having Lokayuktas at the state level – were met when parliament adopted a Sense of the House statement by a thumping of desks, indicating its intent to incorporate these points in a modified Lokpal Bill.

The 74-year-old New Age Gandhian, Anna Hazare has been on fast for the last 12 days, demanding the passage of the Jan Lokpal Bill by Parliament. Tomorrow at 10 am he would break his fast, and it is a celebration for our beloved India. We still have a long way to go as Anna Hazare says:

The dream of India as a strong nation will not be realised without self-reliant, self-sufficient villages, this can be achieved only through social commitment & involvement of the common man." 
Anna Hazare Supporters Crowd in Delhi

Without any bloodshed, we the people of India have shown the meaning of Satyagraha, : a powerful weapon to fight for justice. We are sure the whole world has watched it, and are convinced that, " where there's  a will, there's a way". 

This is Anna 2 days back.
India's anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare speaks to the crowd during his hunger strike in New Delhi, India, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seized control of a national anti-corruption debate Thursday, calling on Parliament to discuss protesters' reform proposals and appealing to the weakening 74-year-old activist to end his hunger strike. (AP Photo/Gurinder Osan)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Anna Hazare

For the truly faithful, no miracle is necessary.

For those who doubt, no miracle is sufficient. Nancy Gibbs

This is Anna Hazare for you: a fearless strong man!

 Anna running from the sudden downpour, like a young man 
 The crowds of people supporting Anna
 Anna coming out of the Thihar Jail
Anna addressing the nation.
Let us all pray for his health and long life. 8 days have passed without food, but his spirit is still strong: he is indeed a true hero.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Just passing through Santa Barbara

The picturesque Shoreline Park overlooks the Santa Barbara beach and harbor, offer stunning views of the nearby islands and mountains. Shoreline Park offers picnic facilities, a beautiful lawn that's perfect for walks and a playground, making it perfect for family outdoor getaways. Skating and playing Frisbee are the top pick sports for this venue.

Moreover, Shoreline Park is a very popular wedding and party venue. There is no doubt that Shoreline park is crown on jewel in Santa Barbara's  Shoreline necklace.

There are free parking lots with no time  restrictions. Well as I said in my earlier blog  we were just passing through and did not spend much time here. For me it was just symbolic: having watched the serial "Santa Barbara"  till it finally came to an end after years.

One can find beautiful villas facing the sea  all Spanish style. Picnic tables and BBQ grills are available for public use, and there are large group areas available for parties, with reservations through the City of Santa Barbara.

Shoreline's beach access is via a set of steps that descend the steep cliff in the center of the park, leading to Mesa Beach. It is most often used in summer when the tide is out and there is more packed sand. In the winter, the ocean waves will often crash against the cliffs, eroding the shoreline. A major example of erosion is along the park, where the land is rapidly dropping into the sea. As you can see a portion of the park is fenced off as a result.

If you have the time then sit on the strategically placed benches and enjoy the sea, the sunrise and the sunset and of course people  watching. There are some places of interest in Santa Barbara, but we didn't have time.
Time being short for us we had to leave, for our next destination. As someone kept telling me before I embarked on this trip to the US, that everything looks the same in US, I had to agree with him, whether it is the Spanish area, Chinese area or the typical American area, everything, seems to look the same, even the Malls and the roads the restaurants, there is a uniformity in all these things, which is admirable , but also tends to get a little boring.

However it did not stop me from enjoying this trip,  for like every ordinary Indian I am conditioned to think, this was my one and only trip to US, and make the most of it, at least from a tourist point of view. What I enjoyed the most was travelling by car all over the US, as we could feast our eyes on some of the most amazing scenery all throughout the trip.

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Tribute: to all who laid their lives for our country

This is a rough  English translation of this beautiful song, I found it in the Internet, I don't think it does justice to the emotion of this song...

O! the people of my motherland! Raise all the slogans you desire, This is a great day for us all, Hoist your beloved tricolor, But don't forget on the border, The brave did lose their lives, And remember each great soldier, Who did not return home ever, O! the people of my motherland! Shed a few tears, For those who martyred on ice, Remember their great sacrifice! When injured was the Himalayan might, Our freedom was in jeopardy, Till their last breath did they fight, And then laid their dead body, Resting their head on the soil, Sacrificed and slept immortal, For those who martyred on ice, Remember their great sacrifice! When the country celebrated Diwali, They played the bloody game of Holi, When we were sitting safe at our homes, They dealt with deadly bullets and bombs. Blessed they were those soldiers, Blessed were their youths, For those who martyred on ice, Remember their great sacrifice! Some Sikh, some Jaat and Maratha, Some were Gurkha or Madrasi, But each soldier who died on the border, Was a brave Hindustani. The blood that stained the mountain, That blood was that of an Indian, For those who martyred on ice, Remember their great sacrifice! With blood their body was drenched, Yet they lifted their rifle and aimed, One killed tens of the enemy, Then fell down unconsciously. When the final moment came on, They said they will die now, Be happy! O beloved of the nation, We embark on eternal journey now, How great were those patriots, How great was their pride, For those who martyred on ice, Remember their great sacrifice! Don't you ever forget their glory, So I narrate this noble story, For those who martyred on ice, Remember their great sacrifice! Victory to India!, Victory to her army! Victory to India! Victory to India! Victory to India!

Happy Independence Day to All Indians!!!

TIRANGA- the national flag of india

Friday, August 12, 2011

Varalakshmi Nonbu/ Vratam

Varalakshmi Vratam is an important pooja performed by many women in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka and some parts of Tamil Nadu.The Hindu festival going by the name 'Vara Lakshmi Vrata' is celebrated on the last Friday of the bright fortnight in the month of Ashadha, also called Adi, which corresponds to the English months of July-August.


Eight forces or energies are recognised and they are known as Sri (Wealth), Bhu (Earth), Sarasvati (learning), Priti (love), Kirti (Fame), Santi (Peace), Tushti(Pleasure) and Pushti(Strength). Each one of these forces is called a Lakshmi and all the eight forces are called the Ashta Lakshmis or the eight Lakshmis of the Hindus. Vishnu is also called Ashta Lakshmi Padhi which is equivalent to saying that he is the asylum for the eight-Lakshmis or forces. In fact, Vishnu representing the preservative aspect of the universe, radiates these forces from him. These forces are personified and worshipped as Lakshmis, since abstract force is beyond the comprehension of the ordinary people. As health, wealth and prosperity depend upon the rythmic play of these forces, the worship of Lakshmi is said to be to obtain these three. Only a woman can sympathise with women. Lakshmi is a woman. So she will more readily sympathise with women. Hence this festival is observed largely by women, invoking the blessings of Lakshmi on them, their husbands and their children.


As the legend goes, this is a pooja that was pronounced by no other than Lord Parameswara to be performed by his consort Parvathi to seek prosperity and happiness for the family. Thus it came to be emulated by married women who sought boons (varam) for the health, wealth and knowledge for the entire family. In some cases, women prayed for being blessed with children. The prescribed day for the pooja is the Friday of the month of Sravan in the fortnight known as Sukla paksha, preceding the full moon day.

Our maid Mary drawing the Rangoli,

This pooja can be done with no restriction to caste or creed. To this day, the faithful of modern times observe this tradition.

Similar pooja is done by South Indian Iyengars, called Karadaiyan nonbu/ Vrat sometime during the month of March. I am writing about Karadaiyan Nonbu for we are Iyengars.

Karadaiyan Nonbu is observed in remembrance of the Satyvan – Savitri legend. A princess, Savitri through her unparalleled devotion saved her husband, Satyvan, from the clutches of death. This legend is very popular in India and there are several other observances based on this legend like the Vrat Savitri Puja.

 Savitri Nonbu Vritham is observed at the exact time when Masi month ends and the Panguni begins

On the Vratam day married women fast and break the fast by eating the Karadai preparation with butter. The preparation is known as Karadai nombu adai - the festival takes its name from the unique Kara Adai dish. It is believed that Savitri cooked such a dish and offered it to Lord Yama along with unmelted butter as a sort of thanksgiving for sparing her husband’s life.

Another important ritual is the wearing of the Kaaradai nombu saradu, which is a yellow thread, around the neck.

"Uruqadha Vennayam oru adayam vaithu nonbu notren oru nallum en kanavar piriyamal iruka vendum" Meaning I partake this prasad and tie the yellow thread, around my neck with the wish that I am never separated from my husband even for a day. Even young girls should wear this thread on that day to get the blessings of God.

Picture credit for this is
 I must mention, that we end up celebrating the various festivals because of my maid Mary. She is a Christian, married to a Hindu. She is a wonderful person who follows the festivals of both religions with great devotion and enthusiasm. She has lived in the Convent and has been adequately trained by the sisters, and, we feel we are blessed to have her working for us.
She is always pleasant, freely going about her work, sometimes bossing us, (which we don't mind), leaving no room for complaint, very trustworthy and honest. People who come to our house also like her very much. 
We hardly celebrated any festivals, for us all days used to be the same, and even now it is the same, but for her sake we celebrate festivals.
Happy Varalakshmi Pooja to all!!
All other images are by Rama Ananth.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

These are a few of my favorite things.....

The beautiful Tanjore dancing doll, from Tamil Nadu, the Kondapalli wooden dolls of Krishna swinging  merrily, surrounded by his gopis , the Rama, Sita and Hanuman from Andhra Pradesh.

Some of the toy car collections of our son, the tiles hand painted by our son... the brainy frog with a book sitting on top of a skull from Salamanca, supposed to be a lucky charm.... each has a story to tell....

Old &; new Photographs, that is me when I was just 21 years old....
This beautiful unusual looking ceramic doll picked up during our US trip from the Salvation Army for a dollar.... Do I see tears in her eyes?

Our  Sweet, sweet bubbly dog called Cookie who left us when she was just 3 and half years old leaving us still missing her...
and below her in cool, cool sunglasses is our sweetie pie dog Toffee, who is actually our old dog's sister's pup.

The lovely cars, trains and buses collected by  us displayed on the edge of the steps, the peacock and the parrot, the witch of Salamanca (Spain) that flashes light and makes a lot of blood curdling noises, well these are a few of my favorite things.....
Do you also have some favorite things?