Tuesday, April 25, 2006
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Ganesha — the elephant-deity riding a mouse — has become one of the commonest mnemonics for anything associated with Hinduism. This not only suggests the importance of Ganesha, but also shows how popular and pervasive this deity is in the minds of the masses.
The Lord of Success
The son of Shiva and Parvati, Ganesha has an elephantine countenance with a curved trunk and big ears, and a huge pot-bellied body of a human being. He is the Lord of success and destroyer of evils and obstacles. He is also worshipped as the god of education, knowledge, wisdom and wealth. In fact, Ganesha is one of the five prime Hindu deities (Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and Durga being the other four) whose idolatry is glorified as the panchayatana puja.
The devotees of Ganesha are known as 'Ganapatyas', and the festival to celebrate and glorify him is called Ganesh Chaturthi.
Significance of the Ganesha Form
Ganesha's head symbolizes the Atman or the soul, which is the ultimate supreme reality of human existence, and his human body signifies Maya or the earthly existence of human beings. The elephant head denotes wisdom and its trunk represents Om, the sound symbol of cosmic reality. In his upper right hand Ganesha holds a goad, which helps him propel mankind forward on the eternal path and remove obstacles from the way. The noose in Ganesha's left hand is a gentle implement to capture all difficulties.
The broken tusk that Ganesha holds like a pen in his lower right hand is a symbol of sacrifice, which he broke for writing the Mahabharata. The rosary in his other hand suggests that the pursuit of knowledge should be continuous. The laddoo (sweet) he holds in his trunk indicates that one must discover the sweetness of the Atman. His fan-like ears convey that he is all ears to our petition. The snake that runs round his waist represents energy in all forms. And he is humble enough to ride the lowest of creatures, a mouse.
How Ganesha Got His Head
The story of the birth of this zoomorphic deity, as depicted in the Shiva Purana, goes like this: Once goddess Parvati, while bathing, created a boy out of the dirt of her body and assigned him the task of guarding the entrance to her bathroom. When Shiva, her husband returned, he was surprised to find a stranger denying him access, and struck off the boy's head in rage. Parvati broke down in utter grief and to soothe her, Shiva sent out his squad (gana) to fetch the head of any sleeping being who was facing the north. The company found a sleeping elephant and brought back its severed head, which was then attached to the body of the boy. Shiva restored its life and made him the leader (pati) of his troops. Hence his name 'Ganapati'. Shiva also bestowed a boon that people would worship him and invoke his name before undertaking any venture.
However, there's another less popular story of his origin, found in the Brahma Vaivarta Purana: Shiva asked Parvati to observe the punyaka vrata for a year to appease Vishnu in order to have a son. When a son was born to her, all the gods and goddesses assembled to rejoice on its birth. Lord Shani, the son of Surya (Sun-God), was also present but he refused to look at the infant. Perturbed at this behaviour, Parvati asked him the reason, and Shani replied that his looking at baby would harm the newborn. However, on Parvati's insistence when Shani eyed the baby, the child's head was severed instantly. All the gods started to bemoan, whereupon Vishnu hurried to the bank of river Pushpabhadra and brought back the head of a young elephant, and joined it to the baby's body, thus reviving it.
Ganesha, the Destroyer of Pride
Ganesha is also the destroyer of vanity, selfishness and pride. He is the personification of material universe in all its various magnificent manifestations. "All Hindus worship Ganesha regardless of their sectarian belief," says D N Singh in A Study of Hinduism. "He is both the beginning of the religion and the meeting ground for all Hindus."
Curse of the Moon : Don't See the Moon on Ganesh Chaturthi Night!
It is said that anyone who looks at the moon on the night of the Ganesh Chaturthi will be falsely accused. If someone inadvertently sees the moon on this night, he/she may remedy the situation by listening to (or reciting) the story of the syamantaka jewel found in the Puranas.
Briefly, Satrajit, who secured a jewel syamantaka from Surya, did not part with it even when Krishna the Lord of Dvaraka, asked for it saying it would be safe with him. Prasena, the brother of Satrajit went out hunting wearing the jewel but was killed by a lion. Jambavan of the Ramayana fame killed the lion and gave it to his son to play with. When Prasena did not return, Satrajit falsely accused Krishna of killing Prasena for the sake of the jewel. Krishna, in order to remove the stain on his reputation, set out in search of the jewel and found it in Jambavan's cave, with his child. Jambavan attacked Krishna thinking him to be an intruder who had come to take away the jewel. They fought each other for 28 days, when Jambavan, his whole body terribly weakened from the hammering of Krishna's fists, finally recognized Him as Lord Rama.
As a repentance for his having fought Krishna, Jambavan gave Krishna the jewel and also his daughter Jambavati in marriage. Krishna returned to Dvaraka with Jambavati and the jewel, and returned it to Satrajit, who in turn repented for his false accusation. He promptly offered to give Krishna the jewel and his daughter Satyabhama in marriage. Krishna accepted Satyabhama as his wife but did not accept the jewel.
Friday, April 21, 2006
This picture submitted in Photo Friday challenge: Golden
Situated at the banks of Yamuna river, Delhi, the capital of India, is a vibrant modern city with an ancient and eventful history. The city with its multi-faceted culture can aptly said to be a microcosm of the whole nation. Visit to the city offers a unique two-in-one experience as New Delhi with its wide roads and high rise buildings gives a feel of being in a contemporary city whereas a stroll down the streets of Old Delhi can easily take one to a bygone era with its narrow lanes and old ‘havelis’. Delhi has thousands of historical monuments and places of religious importance.
Situated on the Rajpath in New Delhi, India Gate (originally called the All India War Memorial) is a monument built by Edwin Lutyens to commemorate the Indian soldiers who died in the World War I and the Afghan Wars. The foundation stone was laid on 10 February 1921 by the Duke of Connaught. The names of the soldiers who died in these wars are inscribed on the walls. It was completed in 1931. Burning under it since 1971 is the Amar Jawan Jyoti (The flame of the immortal warrior), which marks the Unknown Soldier's Tomb.
Inscribed on top of India Gate in capital letters is the line:
"To the dead of the Indian armies who fell honoured in France and Flanders Mesopotamia and Persia East Africa Gallipoli and elsewhere in the near and the far-east and in sacred memory also of those whose names are recorded and who fell in India or the north-west frontier and during the Third Afgan War. "
The shrine itself is a black marble cenotaph with a rifle placed on its barrel, crested by a soldier's helmet. Each face of the cenotaph has inscribed in gold the words "Amar Jawan" (Immortal Warrior). This cenotaph is itself placed on an edifice which has on its four corners four flames that are perpetually kept alive.
The 42 metre tall India Gate is situated such that many important roads spread out from it. Traffic passing around India Gate used to be continuous till the roads were closed to the public due to terrorist threats. The lawns around Rajpath are thronged by people during the night, when the India Gate is lit up.
India Gate, an important monument of the city, is a memorial built in commemoration of more than 80,000 Indian soldiers who were killed during World War I. The monument is an imposing 42 meters high arch and was designed by the famous architect Edwin Lutyens. India gate was earlier named All India War Memorial. The design of India gate is almost similar to its French counterpart war memorial, the Arc-de-Triomphe.
The building is made of red stone that rises in stages into a huge molding. On top of the arch, INDIA is written on both sides. Names of over 70,000 Indian soldiers are inscribed on the walls of the monument in whose memory it is built. There is a shallow domed bowl at the top, which was intended to be filled with burning oil at special occasions.
At the base of the India gate there is another memorial, the Amar Jawan Jyoti that was added after independence. This eternal flame was lighted in commemoration of the unknown soldiers who laid their lives to serve this nation.
The lush green lawns, Children Park and the famous boat club around the place make it a perfect picnic spot. Cool evening breeze near the fountains of India gate attract hundreds of visitors daily. In the evenings, India gate is illuminated with number of lights around it that gives it a magnificent appeal. Standing near the base of the monument one can have a good view of the Rashtrapati Bhawan. The beautifully lit up monument provides a memorable background against the darkening sky. Even in daylight, the stretch between India Gate and the Rashtrapati Bhavan offers a splendid view.
Every year on 26th January India gate stands witness to the Republic Day parade where latest advancements of defence technology is displayed. The parade is also a good platform to have a glimpse at the colourful and diverse cultural heritage of India as artists from all over the country perform on the occasion.
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Sugar Cane is a type of grass originally from southeast Asia. The thick stalk stores energy as sucrose in the sap. From this juice sugar is extracted by evaporating the water. Crystalized sugar was reported 2500 years ago in China and India. Around the eighth century A.D. the Arabs introduced sugar to the Mediterranean and it was cultivated in Spain. It was among the early crops brought to the Americas by Spaniards.
Sugar cane was grown extensively in the Caribbean and still is on some islands. In colonial times sugar was a major product of the triangular trade of New World raw materials, European manufactures and African slaves. France found its sugar cane islands so valuable it effectively traded Canada to Britain for their return of Guadeloupe, Martinique and St. Lucia at the end of the Seven Years' War. The Dutch similarly kept Suriname, a sugar colony in South America, instead of seeking the return of the New Netherlands (New Amsterdam). Cuban sugar cane produced sugar which received price supports from and a guaranteed market in the USSR; the dissolution of that country forced the closure of most of Cuba's sugar industry. Sugar cane is still an important part of the economy in Barbados, the Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Jamaica, Grenada, and other islands. The sugar cane industry is a major export for the Caribbean, but it is expected to collapse with the removal of European preferences by 2009.
Sugarcane has been growing in India for thousands of years, and Europe's first contact with the plant was when Alexander's army swept across Northern India in the 4th century BC. Production of sugar by boiling the cane was discovered in India around 500 BC. The Persians got hold of this crop in the 6th century AD. Soon it spread to Spain, which became a major producer of sugarcane by the 12th century AD. Columbus, on his second voyage, carried sugarcane from the Canary Islands to what is now the Dominican Republic, and the first sugarcane mill in the Americas began operation there in 1516 AD.
Religious importance of Sugar Cane
In India, an offering, which is made to Lord Ganesha on Ganesh Chaturthi day, is sugarcane. It is offered to Ganapati not because he has the head of an elephant that loves sugarcane very much, but the offering of sugarcane has also an esoteric meaning. Sugarcane possesses an attractive color. Everyone knows that beneath its hard outer layer, there is nectarean juice. However the juice cannot be had as it is. It calls for much effort. Similarly, to obtain the knowledge of the 'Self', hidden inside us, we have to labor hard and break away the hard coverings concealing it, just as we have to remove the hard coating of the sugarcane to get the juice. By merely removing the hard, outer covering you will not get juice. The inner white stem will have to be squeezed hard to yield the juice. In a like manner, the ego in us is to be squeezed out fully to obtaining the Self, which pervades our entire personality just as juice pervades the entire sugarcane in a subtle way. The drinking of the sugarcane juice is the attainment of the Self, and that inexplicable and limitless experience is what ancient scriptures call 'Atmananda'.
Sweet Benifits of Sugar Cane Juice
- Sugarcane juice is great for recharging energy because it contains rich carbohydrate and iron. Green-typed tropical sugarcane is sweetest and juiciest. It is also elephant's favorite.
- Being a nutritious product containing natural sugars, minerals and organic acids, sugarcane juice has many medicinal properties.
- It strengthens the stomach, kidneys, heart, eyes, brain and sex organs.
- The juice is beneficial in fevers. In febrile disorders which causes fever, when there is a great protein loss, liberal intake of sugarcane juice supplies the body with necessary protein and other food elements.
- Sugarcane is very useful in scanty urination. It keeps the urinary flow clear and helps the kidneys to perform their functions properly. It is also valuable in burning micturation due to high acidity, genorrhoea, enlarged prostate, cyctitis and nepthritis. For better results, it should be mixed with lime juice, ginger juice and coconut water.
- Mixed with lime juice, it can hasten recovery from jaundice. It is, however, very essential that the juice, must be clean, preferably prepared at home. Resistance is low in hepatitis and any infected beverage could make matters worse.
- The juice sucked from the sugarcane can prove highly valuable in case of weak teeth due to lack of proper exercise resulting from excessive use of soft foods. It gives a form of exercise to the teeth and makes them strong. It also keeps the teeth clean and increases their life.
- Sugarcane juice is a fattening food. It is thus an effective remedy for thinness. Rapid gain in weight can be achieved by its regular use.
- The dew which collects on the long leaves of sugarcane is useful in several eye disorders. When instilled in the eyes, it is an effective medicine in defective vision, cataract, conjunctivitis, burning of the eyes and eye-strain after excessive reading.
Cultivation of sugarcane
About 107 countries grow the crop to produce 1,324 million tonnes (more than 6 times the amount of sugar beet produced). The largest producers are Brazil, India, China, and Pakistan, accounting for more than 50% of world production.
Sugarcane cultivation requires a tropical or subtropical climate, with a minimum of 600 mm (24 in) of annual moisture. It is one of the most efficient photosynthsizers in the plant kingdom, able to convert up to 2% of incident solar energy into biomass. In prime growing regions, such as Hawaii, sugarcane can produce 20 kg for each square metre exposed to the sun. Sugarcane is propagated from cuttings rather than from seed. Each cutting must contain at least one bud, and the cuttings are usually planted by hand. Once planted, a stand of cane can be harvested several times; after each harvest, the cane sends up new stalks, called ratoons. Usually, each successive harvest gives a smaller yield, and eventually the declining yields justify replanting. Depending on agricultural practice, 2 to 10 harvests may be possible between each planting.
Traditionally, sugarcane has been processed in two stages. Sugar cane mills, located in sugarcane producing regions, extract sugar from freshly harvested sugarcane, resulting in raw sugar for later refining, and in mill white sugar for local consumption. Sugar refineries, often located in heavy sugar-consuming regions such as North America, Europe, and Japan, then purify raw sugar to produce refined white sugar, a product that is more than 99% pure sucrose. These two stages are, however, slowly becoming blurred. Increasing affluence in the sugar-producing tropics has led to an increase in demand for refined sugar products in those areas, and there is a trend towards combined milling and refining in these areas.
In a sugar mill, sugarcane is washed, and then chopped and shredded by revolving knives. The shredded cane is then repeatedly mixed with water and crushed between rollers; the collected juices (called garapa in Brazil) contain 10–15% sucrose, while the remaining fibrous solids, called bagasse, are burnt for fuel. Bagasse makes a sugar mill more than self-sufficient in energy; the surplus bagasse can be used for animal feed, in paper manufacture, or burnt to generate electricity for the local power grid. The cane juice is next mixed with lime to adjust its pH to 7. This arrests sucrose's decay into glucose and fructose, and precipitates out some impurities. The mixture then sits, allowing the lime and other suspended solids to settle out, and the clarified juice is then concentrated in a multiple-effect evaporator to make a syrup about 60% by weight in sucrose. This syrup is further concentrated under vacuum until it becomes supersaturated, and then seeded with crystalline sugar. Upon cooling, sugar crystallizes out of the syrup. A centrifuge is used to separate the sugar from the remaining liquid, or molasses. Additional crystallizations may be performed to extract more sugar from the molasses; the molasses remaining after no more sugar can be extracted from it in a cost-effective fashion is called blackstrap. Raw sugar has a yellow to brown color. If a white product is desired, sulfur dioxide may be bubbled through the cane juice prior to evaporation. This bleaches many color-forming impurities into colorless ones. Sugar bleached white by this sulfitation process is called mill white, plantation white or crystal sugar. This form of sugar is the most commonly consumed form of sugar in sugarcane-producing countries.
In sugar refining, raw sugar is further purified. First, the raw sugar is mixed with heavy syrup and then centrifuged clean. This process is called affination; its purpose is to wash away the outer coating of the raw sugar crystals, which is less pure than the crystal interior. The remaining sugar is then dissolved to make a syrup, about 70% by weight solids. The sugar solution is then clarified by the addition of phosphoric acid and calcium hydroxide, which combine to precipitate calcium phosphate. The calcium phosphate particles entrap some impurities and adsorb others, and then float to the top of the tank where they can be skimmed off. An alternative to this phosphatation technique is carbonatation, which is similar, but uses carbon dioxide and calcium hydroxide to produce a calcium carbonate recipitate. After any remaining solids are filtered out, the clarified syrup is decolorized by filtration through a bed of activated carbon (bone char was traditionally used in this role, but its use is no longer common). Some remaining color-forming impurities adsorb to the carbon bed. The purified syrup is then concentrated to supersaturation and repeatedly crystallized under vacuum, to produce white refined sugar. As in a sugar mill, the sugar crystals are separated from the molasses by centrifugation. Additional sugar is recovered by blending the remaining syrup with the washings from affination and again crystallizing to produce brown sugar. When no more sugar can be economically recovered, the final molasses still contains 20–30% sucrose, as well as 15–25% glucose and fructose. To produce granulated sugar in which the individual sugar grains do not clump together, sugar must be dried. This is accomplished first by drying the sugar in a hot rotary dryer, and then by conditioning the sugar by blowing cool air through it for several days.
Road side thella wala selling Chole Kuclche
Chole ka Patila
Serving Chole in the katori:
Heating Kulche on a Kerosine Stove:
Ready to eat: Chole-Kulche
Recipe to make Chole Kulche
White flour : 100 gms
Curd : 100 ml
Cooking soda : a pinch
Onion : 50gms
Oil : 2 gms
Make dough out of white flour and curd adding a pinch of soda and salt.
Keep it overnight.
Roll out chappatis. Place a spoonful of chopped onions and close it.
Roll out thin chappatis and cook on a hot tawa.
This can be made without onion stuffing as plain kulcha and the best combination is Channa Masala. (Chole)
Total No. of serving: 4
Channa :100 gms
Onions : 40 gms
Tomatoes : 20 gms
Ginger : a small piece
Garlic : few flakes
Tamarind : 5 gms
Cinnamon : a small piece
Cloves : 2
Cardomom : 2
Bay leaf : a small piece
Black pepper : 1 tsp
Cumin seeds : 1 tsp
Red chilli powder : 1/2 tsp
Oil : 2 tsp
Salt : to taste
Soak channa overnight.
Grind all the ingredients except tamarind.
Heat oil and fry the paste well. Add channa and cook for 10 min.
Pressure cook with a little till done.
Add tamarind extract, salt and chilli powder.
Garnish with onion rings and chopped coriander leaves.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
into your life
A baby can make you forget your
worries and strife.
It really doesn't matter whether
it's a girl or a boy
A baby will melt your heart and bring you joy!
So shower a baby with love,
every single day.
Show a baby you truly care-
there's so many ways.
For with a blink of an eye, time
will fly out the door-
and your precious baby, won't
be a baby anymore!!
Godh bharai is a significant event in the lives of Hindu women. This is a ritual that celebrates the first pregnancy of a woman. It is conducted during the seventh month.
"Godh" essentially means the lap of a woman and "bharai" means the process of filling it. The mother and mother-in-law of the woman fill her lap (the woman extends the end of her saree) with things that are considered good omens - such as betelnuts, coconut or one rupee coins. The woman looks resplendent in a grand saree and even grander jewellery. Only women are invited to the godh bharai and some sing songs to mark the occasion.
The woman's mother brings with her sweets, jewellery, clothes and a coconut accompanied by coins of one rupee and quarter rupee denominations. The expectant mother is brought through the entrance of her mother's house and for every step she takes, a piece of colored silk cloth, along with some supari (betel nut), is placed under her feet. She approaches the place of worship that always faces east. The items placed under her feet are to be handed over to her sister or to her husband's sister.
The mother-to-be is seated on a four-legged seat made of wood that is quite low and a red tilak is applied on to her forehead for luck. After the mothers fill the woman's saree end, the sister-in-law offers little saffron milk for the mother-to-be and ties a yellow thread on her wrist. This thread, no doubt, is believed to protect the mother-to-be and her baby from evil spirits. The elders in the crowd come forward to bless the woman and the godh bharai ritual ends.
The following are some books and products which can help you with your pregnancy :
- What to Expect When You're Expecting, Third Edition
- The Mother of All Pregnancy Books: The Ultimate Guide to Conception, Birth, and Everything In Between (U.S. Edition)
- Your Pregnancy Week by Week, Fifth Edition
- The Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy
- Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy
- The Expectant Father: Facts, Tips and Advice for Dads-To-Be
- Belly Laughs: The Naked Truth About Pregnancy and Childbirth
- My Boys Can Swim!: The Official Guy's Guide to Pregnancy
- What to Expect When You're Expecting Pregnancy Organizer
- The Pregnancy Bible: Your Complete Guide to Pregnancy and Early Parenthood
- Before Your Pregnancy: A 90 Day Guide for Couples on How to Prepare for a Healthy Conception
- Bella Band
- The Perfect Pregnancy Workout
- Clearblue Easy Fertility Monitor Test Sticks - 30 ea
- Tune Your Brain: Pregnancy and Childbirth
- Tin Ting Jehe Chewy Ginger Candy - 7 Oz - Buy 10 Get 12 Shipped
- SurroundU 110" Side Sleeper Body Pillow: White with Pillow Case
- TriLastin Intensive Stretch Mark Prevent & Repair Formula
- One-Step Breast Milk Storage Kit
- BeBe Sounds Prenatal Listener With Two Headsets
- Childbirth - A Multimedia Course and Resource Kit (2005) - Dr. Fitzgerald
- Denise Austin - Pregnancy Plus Workout
- Fit Pregnancy
- Bebe Sounds Prenatal Listener - Deluxe Gift Set
- Le' Cuddler Infant Support Pillow
- BMV Quantum Subliminal CD: Birthing Aid- Healthy Pregnancy Hypno-Childbirth Preparation Successful Birthing Mind Training Program with NLP, Brainwave Entrainment Technology and Ultrasonic Ultra-Silent Subliminal Programming
- Waistband Extender
- The Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy
- Maternity Support Belt - Back Support
- The Pregnancy Journal: A Day To Day Guide To A Healthy And Happy Pregnancy
- Pilates During Pregnancy