Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Festival : Navaratri Golu : Celebrated In South India

“Golu” in Tamil, also known as Kolu, is a unique display of various dolls and figurines in odd numbered steps (“padis”). It is celebrated in this manner in the four southern states of India. These steps are covered with a white cloth and the dolls are arranged on it. The dolls are mostly of the gods and goddesses from Hindu mythology.
Arranging Navrathri Golu is an event in itself, for it means an occasion for neighbours, friends and other relatives to visit each others homes to view and admire the Navarathri Golu . Gifts are exchanged amongst women. Generally, it is a custom that women exchange coconuts, cloths and sweets. Sumangali (married) women also exchange bags containing a small mirror, turmeric, comb, beetle leaves with supari (beetle nuts).This is also the time when women who sing well, sing songs in praise of the Goddesses Durga, Sarawati and Lakshmi.
The 9th day of Navratri is the day of Saraswati where special pujas are offered to Goddess- representing wisdom and enlightenment. All things of art and learning, books, instruments and creativity are placed in the puja and worshipped. Work tools and instruments are also worshipped and this is known as Ayudha puja. All types of ‘vahanas’ –vehicles–also have a special puja.

The 10th day is known “Vijayadasami” – and considered most auspicious because this is when evil was destroyed by good. It represents new beginning and heralds prosperity. It is an extremely auspicious day to start new ventures. Children often start classes on this day. Students who want to learn new things join classes on this day. Books and musical instruments are taken out to be read and practice, so that the whole year they excel at the studies started on this auspicious day. People in industry start using their tools and machinery with same positive attitude.
On the 10th night after the ceremonial arti and prayers, the dolls are laid down to sleep. The next morning, they are wrapped carefully in cloth or paper and preserved for use the next year. Another novel trend is the concept of `community kolus’, when many women, unable to keep kolu in their homes, join hands and put up a Navratri kolu in a common place.
Every year, some enthusiastic people may buy a few new dolls to add to their collection, others may just keep the old sets, which they have had for generations. Decorations also vary, some are very elaborate, where they would build displays of mountains,rivers, lake, garden, parks etc. with all kinds of colourful lights, making their Golu really stand out where as some houses may have a very simple and traditional display of dolls.
This nine-day festival of Navaratri in Hindu religion is held in honour of the nine manifestations of Goddess. Navratri literally means nine nights and is celebrated differently in different regions of India and marks the arrival of winter season. Every day a dish called Sundal is made as an offering to the Goddess and the dolls. This Sundal is made from different lentils like chickpeas, yellow peas, black-eyed beans and so on, with coconut gratings, green chillies, flavoured with salt, asafoetida, lemon juice, and some fresh curry leaves and fresh coriander, and sometimes if available also with a dash of raw mangoes. This is a very tasty, highly nutritious dish, which is enjoyed by everyone.
Like most festivals in India, there is a deep connection with agriculture in the Golu Navaratri.  The significance of clay being given a godly form is seen in many parts of India, almost always with agrarian symbolism.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Wise Owl : A Woodland Indian Myth

There is an old saying, "wise as an owl". People are always saying that, but the truth is, owls were not always wise.

Once upon a time, a long time ago, the Everything-Maker was very busy, making all the animals and all the plants and all the rocks and caverns and everything else that covered the earth.

Owl had not yet been made. He hadbeen given a voice. And two eyes. And a head and a body and strong wings. Owl was waiting his turn to be formed. "I want a long neck like Swan," Owl told the Everything-Maker. "I want red feathers like Cardinal and a beak like Hawk."

"Yes, yes," mumbled the Everything-Maker. "Whatever you want. But you must wait your turn." The Everything-Maker looked sharply at Owl. "Your eyes are open again. You know that no one is allowed to watch me work. Turn around and close your eyes. I have no time for you now. I am busy creating Rabbit."

The Everything-Maker turned his attention back to Rabbit who was shaking with nervousness. "And what do you want, little rabbit?" the Everything-Maker asked encouragingly.

"Long legs and ears," Rabbit spoke softly. "And fangs. Could I possibly have a fang or two? And claws. I would dearly love to have claws!"

The Everything-Maker smiled. "I think we could manage some claws and fangs." He smoothed Rabbit's long legs and ears.

"Silly Rabbit!" Owl hooted loudly. "Why don't you ask for something useful, like wisdom?"

"This is your last warning, Owl. Be quiet and wait your turn."

Owl twisted around and glared at the Everything-Maker. "You have to do it," he hooted. "You have to give us what we ask. I demand wisdom!"

tawny owlet, originally uploaded by Dru Marland. This owl is so cute.

"I warned you, Owl!" shouted the Everything-Maker. He shoved Owl's head down into his body, which made Owl's neck disappear. He gave Owl a shake, which made Owl's eyes widen in fright. He pulled Owl's ears until they stuck out from his head.

The Everything-Maker snapped his fingers. "I have made your ears big, the better to listen. I have made your eyes big, the better to see. I have made your neck short, the better to hold up your head. I have packed your head with wisdom, as you have asked. Now, use your wisdom and fly away before you lose what I have given."

Owl was no longer a fool. He flew quickly away, pouting and hooting.

The Everything-Maker turned back to Rabbit, smiling gently. "Claws," he reminded himself. But Rabbit was gone. Rabbit had hopped hurriedly away, too afraid of the Everything-Maker to stay for his fangs and claws.

As for Owl, Owl knew if he angered the Everything-Maker again, he would lose all that he had gained. Even today, Owl only comes out at night, when the Everything-Maker is fast asleep. As for Rabbit, his claws and fangs are waiting. Perhaps someday ...

From the above story, we can see that the Owl had learnt a very important lesson, and this quote is so apt for it:

A wise old owl sat on an oak; The more he saw the less he spoke; The less he spoke ; the more he heard; Why aren't we like that wise old bird ~ Edward Hersey Richards.
I came across this quote, and thought I would write about the Owl, and get to know more about this bird from my blogger friends too.

I know in many parts of India and maybe in many parts of the world too, an Owl is looked upon as dumb, stupid and brainless, but I have read many stories, (this is just one of them) where an owl is said to be very wise, quiet, and always listening ..... I always felt, if only we could be like an Owl, we would not only be happy but also let others be happy too.

Tell me, what is your view about Owls, do these qualities inspire you?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Architects & Engineers - Solving the Mystery of WTC 7 -

There is so much to think about, see for yourselves....
Just as we have no answers to our questions from our government, so too the American people have no answers to their questions from their government.....even after so many years, everything has just been swept under the carpet. They wiped out literally Iraq, and destroyed what little was there of Afghanistan, all in the name of wiping out terrorism, have they been successful in their mission?
Aren't all these acts of terrorism interconnected to all that is happening around in this world in some indirect way affecting each  and everyone of us?
Do we have the answers to this puzzle?

Transcript and sources:

Everything you ever wanted to know about the 9/11 conspiracy theory in under 5 minutes. Not only see this but more, but don't close your eyes to  truth.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

How About Some Chinese For Lunch?

Today, we felt like having Chinese food at home, so I made :
Cauliflower Manchurian Dry
Vegetable Fried Rice with lots and lots of garlic
Sweet and Sour vegetables to go with the Fried Rice
A simple Chinese meal, here are some pictures. 

The Cauliflower Manchurian looks very red, but believe me, I did not add red color like they usually do in the Restaurants. The color is from MDH Theeka Lal (a brand of Masalas, in this case: their red chilly powder). It would have tasted much better if I had used Spring onions for the garnish, since I did not have them, I had to make do with just fresh coriander leaves.

These three flexible rascals, (they are in blue, yellow and pink) that you see here are from Pondicherry. Looks like they can't wait to taste the Cauliflower Manchurian, the aroma of these fried fritters is making them jump and wave their arms in excitement...... the two old Chinese are in no hurry, for they want to have a full fledged meal....

 How about you, do you like Chinese food?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Tea time Quotes and Pictures

"Come and share a pot of tea, My home is warm and my friendship's free."
Author: Emilie Barne.

Come oh come ye tea-thirsty restless ones - the kettle boils, bubbles and
- Rabindranath Tagore

"Tea pot is on, cups are waiting. Favorite chairs anticipating. No matter what I have to 
do, My friend, there's always time for you."

"Tea and books- Mmmmmm, two of life's exquisite pleasure that together bring near-bliss"~ Christine Hanrah

Strange how a teapot can represent at the same time the comforts of solitude and the pleasures of company. - Anonymous
With the invention  of tea bags, people have stopped taking the trouble of making tea. 
Here is a nice Tea Trivia : The Invention of Teabags
We owe this handy invention to Thomas Sullivan, a New York merchant who, in 1904, decided to stop selling loose tea leaves in cans and start selling tea in small handmade silk bags.
His clients discovered that it was not necessary to take the tea out of the bag to prepare the infusion; instead, they could just pour water directly over the bags.

This helped them avoid the hassle of straining the infusion . Thus teabags began to be marketed and were immediately successful, due to their practicality..

But I still prefer brewing tea in a Tea Pot and make it just as the English do, believe me that is the best way to do.
 But in India, we have people putting everything , like milk, sugar, tea leaves everything together along with water and boiling them together,  thereby killing the very taste and the aroma of tea altogether.

Some more beautiful quotes:

If you are cold, tea will warm you. If you are too heated, it will cool you. If you are depressed, it will cheer you. If you are excited, it will calm you. ~Gladstone, 1865

If I could take your Troubles,
I would toss them in the Sea.
But since I can't, I'm sending you,
My favorite cup of tea.

I cannot sit and chat with you,
the way I'd like to do.
So brew yourself a cup of tea,
I'll think of you, you think of me.
Author Unknown.

When a pile of cups is tottering on the edge of the table and you warn that they will crash to the ground, in South Africa you are blamed when that happens. 

Desmond Tutu
"The deeper that sorrow carves into your being the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds the tea the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?"~ Kahlil Gibran

“To keep your marriage brimming, With love in the loving cup, Whenever you're wrong, admit it; Whenever you're right, shut up”~ Ogden Nash Quotes (American Writer of humorous poetry who won a large following for his audacious verse. 1902-1971)
This is a beautiful Tiles tray from Portugal, the cups with lids are from Sikkim, and next to them the small cute cups are from Spain,(but bought here in India). The green ones have served us for  more than 20 years and are still serving us.

Some little facts about my Green Tea Pot:
Although it looks very plain, it at least more than 60 years old, it belongs to my parents and I remember we had a similar one in pure white. I always liked to make tea in a Tea Pot and when I got married I took this with me. It is made in Great Britain. I am sure the white Tea pot is also still there with my parents lying unused in some cupboard.
 The Black small tea cups with the black tray are a set. It is called Stoneware and this is a speciality of Manipure from a place called Bhishnupore. I found it in an exhibition, and immediately fell for it, and bought it. It feels so good to have tea from it : feels as if you are drinking tea from a Kullad, an earthen cup.
 Starbucks says they are going to start putting religious quotes on cups. The very first one will say, 'Jesus! This cup is expensive!' 
Conan O' Brien 
The row of Mugs are just for show for I can never drink so much of coffee or tea, they too huge for my standard.
 So here ends my Tea time  quotes and tea time stories of Tea pots and Tea Cups.
Do you have any such stories?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Prismma A special feature on Ganesh Chaturthi :) Festival : Ganesh Chaturthi Interior Design, Home Living and Lifestyle Magazine : India

PrismmaA special feature on Ganesh Chaturthi :)

Festival : Ganesh Chaturthi

Interior Design, Home Living and Lifestyle Magazine : India

Do visit it or read the copied version from prismma here:

This is the latest abstract Ganesh painting by Padmaja Madhu, a very dear friend. She made this specially for Ganesh Chaturthi (Lord Ganesha’s birthday). She is very passionate about painting and also gives beautiful descriptions about her paintings on her blog.
Padmaja is a Bangalore (India) based artist who is completely self-taught. She believes that the road to artistic evolution lies in exploring diversity in media, styles and subject matter. Her work reflects this philosophy. She blogs at ‘The world is a rainbow

Ganesha puja at Padmaja’s house with Kadubu as prasad ( the famous Karnataka sweet for the occasion)
Padmaja says, “Art has put me on to the path of joy and self discovery. The process of transferring my thoughts on to a canvas by means of colours and shapes is gratifying. Each piece is created with the fond hope of bringing joy to others as well.”

Here are some more pictures of Ganesh Chaturthi Celebrations at home:

This is a 60 year old Ganeha key chain, this was sent by Padmaja.

On this auspicious day I would like to share with you some of the mythological stories that I love about Ganesha

The Legend of the Mouse

According to hindu mythology, there was an asura known as Gajamug. He was a great devotee of Shiva, and pleased with his devotion, Lord Shiva granted the asura a boon that made him invincible. Gajamug became very proud and powerful and started troubling the devas. Once he forced the devas to do 1008 Thoppukaranamsthrice a day. Tired of his antics, the devas asked Shiva to save them from Gajamug.
Shiva sent Ganesha to help the devas. Ganesha went equipped with several weapons such as bow and arrow, sword, and even an axe. But the asura had been given a boon that none of these weapons could cause him harm, so Ganesha’s attempts to destroy him proved to be ineffective.
Finally, Gajamug took the form of a small mouse and rushed towards Ganesha. Ganesha was very clever and immediately sat on the little mouse. Gajamug asura was defeated and made to apologise for his deeds. Since then, Ganesha is always accompanied by a mouse as his vehicle.

Ganesha writes the Mahabharata

Veda Vyasa was a great sage and poet. He was instructed by Brahma to compose the world’s greatest epic poem, the Mahabharata. Ved Vyasa told him that he needed someone to write it down while he composed it. Brahma asked him to pray to Ganesha, because only he could understand and write what Veda Vyasa would dictate. Veda Vyasa prayed to Ganesha. When Ganesha appeared, Veda Vyasa said, “Would you be able to write as fast as I dictate?”
Ganesha in turn challenged him, “Would you able to dictate as fast as I write?”. They made an agreement that once started, Veda Vyasa would not stop dictating and Ganesha would not stop writing and that he would only write what he understood. As they started the Mahabharata, whenever Ganesha wrote too fast, Ved Vyasa would dictate difficult verses. Ganesha would take time to understand them and in the meantime Ved Vyasa would compose more verses. Thus the great epic was written.

The race around the world

On an occasion, Shiva and Parvati had been given a fruit by the devas and both the sons Ganesh and Kartikeya(Skanda) wanted it. Some legends claim the dispute was about who was elder of the two. The parents suggested that the one who circled the world three times first would get it as a prize. Kartikeya got on the peacock, his vahana (vehicle) and flew around the world stopping at all sacred spots on the way and offering his prayers. But at every major stop, he would find Ganesha ahead of him and was perplexed.
Ganesha understood that his vehicle, the mouse, would not be able to compete with Skanda’s peacock and he could never beat him.  He thought for a while and came up with a solution. He walked around his parents, Shiva and Parvati, three times, with great devotion. When his parents asked him why he was not circling the globe, he answered that his parents are the whole world. He need go no further to travel the whole world. Skanda accepted the superiority of Ganesha, and bowed to him.
It is no wonder then, that Ganesha is always known to be a problem solver, the remover of all obstacles. It is Hindu custom for people  to always seek the blessings of Lord Ganesha before starting anything, so that all hurdles are eliminated.

The symbolisms

Riding on a mouse, one of nature’s smallest creatures and having the head of an elephant, the biggest of all animals, symbolises that Ganesha is the creator of all creatures. Elephants are very wise animals; this indicates that Lord Ganesha is an embodiment of wisdom. The process of evolution–a mouse gradually evolves into an elephant and finally becomes a man. This is why Ganesha has a human body, an elephant’s head and a mouse as his vehicle. This is the symbolic philosophy of his form.
Hope you enjoyed the stories as much as I always have.

Happy Ganesh Chaturthi !