Monday, September 29, 2008

Golu - Festival of Dolls

Navaratri Golu is a major festival of Hindu celebrated during navaratri throughout india during september or october for a period of 10days especially in south india. During Navratri, it is customary in Tamil Nadu to display a "Golu". This is an exhibition of various dolls and figurines in odd (usually 7, 9, or 11) numbered tiers ("padis"). Generally, when people come to a person's house to see the Golu, they are given prasad (the offering given to God that day), kumkum and a small bag of gifts. These are only given to girls and married women. In the evenings, a "kuthuvilakku" (small lamp) is lit, in the middle of a decorated "kolam"(Rangoli), before the Golu and devotional hymns and shlokas are chanted. After performing the puja, the food items that have been prepared, are offered to the Goddesses.
Golu is adorned with dolls - predominantly with that of the Gods and Goddesses depicting mythology. It is a traditional practice to have at least some wooden dolls. There should also be a figurine of a boy and a girl together. On the 9th day (Saraswati Puja), special pujas are offered to Goddess Saraswati - the divine source of wisdom and enlightenment. Books and musical instruments are placed in the puja and worshipped as a source of knowledge. Also tools are placed in the pooja - as part of "Ayudha Pooja". Even vehicles are washed and decorated, and puja performed for them.
The 10th day, "Vijayadasami" - is the most auspicious day of all. It was the day on which evil was finally destroyed by good. It marks a new and prosperous beginning. New ventures started on this day are believed to flourish and bring prosperity. Kids often start tutoring on this day to have a head start in their education.
In the evening of "Vijayadasami", any one doll from the "Golu" is symbolically put to sleep and the Kalasam is moved a bit towards North to mark the end of that year's Navaratri Golu. Prayers are offered to thank God for the successful completion of that year's Golu and with a hope of a successful one the next year! Then the Golu is dismantled and packed up for the next year.

Friday, September 26, 2008

What causes hiccups??

People have been pondering the precise cause of hiccups for thousands of years. Ancient Greek physician Galen, for example, hypothesized that hiccups were simply violent emotions that began in the stomach and erupted out the mouth. This hypothesis has not exactly been disproved, but since then, we have come up with many more.
We know what happens during a hiccup. During normal breathing, we take in air from the mouth and nose, and it flows through the pharynx, past the glottis and into the larynx and trachea, ending in the lungs. The diaphragm, a large muscle between the chest and abdomen, aids this airflow. It moves down when we inhale, and then up when we exhale. The phrenic nerves control the movement and sensation of the diaphragm. Any irritation to these nerves induces a spasm of the diaphragm. This spasm causes a person to take a short, quick breath that is then interrupted by the closing of the epiglottis (a flap that protects the glottis, the space between the vocal cords). The sudden closing creates the sound we all know as a hiccup.

So, hiccups are the result of diaphragm spasms. But what causes the irritation that leads to the spasm? There are only a few culprits for common hiccups, which usually disappear within a few minutes. One of the main irritants is a full stomach -- a result of swallowing too much food or air. A distended stomach pushes against the phrenic nerves of the diaphragm, increasing the possibility of irritation and, therefore, hiccups. A full stomach of spicy food can do double damage -- hot foods can be especially irritating to those nerves. As any smoker on a bender can tell you, excess smoking and drinking alcohol can also cause hiccups. A rapid temperature change outside or inside your stomach, from a cold night or a hot beverage, can be irritating enough to induce hiccups. Finally, emotions -- shock, excitement and stress -- can also trigger a hiccup fit.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

some plants eat animals!!!!!!

Pitcher plants are carnivorous plants whose prey-trapping mechanism features a deep cavity filled with liquid known as a pitfall trap. It has been widely assumed that the various sorts of pitfall trap evolved from rolled leaves, with selection pressure favouring more deeply cupped leaves over evolutionary time. However, some pitcher plant genera (such as Nepenthes) are placed within clades consisting mostly of flypaper traps: this indicates that this view may be too simplistic, and some pitchers may have evolved from flypaper traps by loss of mucilage.
Whatever their evolutionary origins, foraging, flying or crawling insects such as flies are attracted to the cavity formed by the cupped leaf, often by visual lures such as anthocyanin pigments, and nectar bribes. The sides of the pitcher are slippery and may be grooved in such a way so as to ensure that the insects cannot climb out. The small bodies of liquid contained within the pitcher traps are called phytotelmata. They drown the insect, and the body of it is gradually dissolved. This may occur by bacterial action (the bacteria being washed into the pitcher by rainfall) or by enzymes secreted by the plant itself. Furthermore, some pitcher plants contain mutualistic insect larvae, which feed on trapped prey, and whose excreta the plant absorbs. Whatever the mechanism of digestion, the prey items are converted into a solution of amino acids, peptides, phosphates, ammonium and urea, from which the plant obtains its mineral nutrition (particularly nitrogen and phosphorus). Like all carnivorous plants, they occur in locations where the soil is too poor in minerals and/or too acidic for most plants to be able to grow.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Onam - The festival of kerala

Onam is the biggest celebration in Kerala. Travel to Kerala during Onam, on Kerala tours with Kerala Backwater, and see Kerala at its festive best. See the beautiful flower carpets, eat a delicious festive lunch, watch a graceful thiruvathirakali dance performance and join in the festivities of Onam in Kerala.

The Legend behind Onam Festival in Kerala:
Onam is celebrated to welcome King Mahabali, a legendary ruler of Kerala, who was renowned for the justice and goodness of his rule. According to legend, people in his kingdom lived in prosperity and harmony and loved their King so much that even the God's grew jealous of him, for King Mahabali was of the race of Demons. King Mahabali had conquered all the land and sea and the heavens, making the Gods even more disturbed. They requested Vishnu, the Preserver, in the Hindu trinity to act. Vishnu descended on earth in the form of a dwarf Brahmin, called Vamana. He went to King Mahabali's palace and found the good King distributing alms. When Mahabali asked Vamana what alms he sought, Vamana replied he would like as much ground as he could cover with three footsteps. Mahabali looked at the tiny feet of the dwarf and agreed to his wish. Lord Vishnu covered the land and seas with one step and the heavens with the second. Mahabali recognized the presence of the Lord and offered his head as the ground for Vishnu/Vamana's third step. Mahabali was thus subjugated and sent to the underworld. However because he was a good king who loved his subjects, he could return once a year to check on the welfare of his people. Thus Onam is celebrated every year to welcome Mahabali, the good Demon King of Kerala.

Onam Festival Celebration in Kerala:
Onam Festival is celebrated with great joy and gaiety across Kerala, on a particular day in August or September. People buy new clothes and exchange gifts. Houses are cleaned and beautiful flower carpets and decorations are made at the entrances of houses and in courtyards. Traditional oil lamps are lit in the courtyard and women dressed in traditional Kerala sarees dance around the lamp, performing a dance called Thiruvathirakali. The main event on Onam day is a grand feast at lunchtime. Called sadya, the feast consists of a series of dishes served one after the other, including rice, vegetable curries, pickles and several varieties of payasam or sweet dish. Many cultural events are also held on the occasion of Onam. Snake Boat races, Kathakali and Mohiniattam dance recitals and musical performances are organized to celebrate Onam in Kerala.
You will see all of Kerala decked up in its best, during the occasion of Onam.

Friday, September 5, 2008

vellore: golden temple

The Sri Lakshmi Narayani Temple located in Sripuram (spiritual town) in Thirumalaikkodi, about seven km from here, was consecrated by Sri Sakthi Amma, head of the Sri Narayani Peedam, Thirumalaikkodi, on Friday.A large number of devotees gathered for the occasion.Unique structureIt is a unique temple whose Vimanam and Ardha Mandapam have been coated with gold both in the interior and exterior.Twelve layers of gold foils have been pasted on copper sheets embossed with the designs of Gods and fixed on the walls.One-and-a-half tonnes of gold has gone into the design of the Sri Lakshmi Narayani Temple, which has been built at a cost of Rs.300 crore.100-acre siteAccording to Sri Sakthi Amma, the decision to have the temple coated with gold is only to attract visitors and enable them to get wisdom through the messages of the Vedas, which they will have to read before reaching the temple located on sprawling a 100 acre-site.The temple has been designed in such a way that visitors can reach the golden temple only after going through a star-shaped pathway, which has the messages from the Vedas on both sides.Tamil Nadu can boast of its own Golden Temple nowVellore: If you see the temple, you might even think that the temple is made of gold. And your guessing will be correct.The Golden Temple is about 140 km from Chennai at Tirumalaikodi in Vellore district.Sri Narayani Peedam, a private religious charitable organisation, built the temple. And the glittering monument also boasts of some glittering figures."The actual estimate is about 300 crores. The amount of gold that went into it's making is 1,500 kilos," says head, Sri Narayani Peedam, Sri Sakthi Amma.A breathtaking wonder of intricate designs, the temple dedicated to Goddess Narayani is in the midst of lush greenery spread over 100 acres.Except the pathways, even the roofs and the pillars of the temple are made of gold as about 1.5 tonnes of the metal went into its making.The Peedom says the funds for building the temple were collected from NRIs.But is this an attempt to match up to the other golden temple?"Well! We need to see the people's reaction-how the world is accepting it," says Shakti Amma.The temple will be formally consecrated on Friday and will be thrown open to the public from the next day.Now even Tamil Nadu can boast of a wonder of its own- the Golden Temple created with about 1.5 tonnes of gold and which is already on its way to making history.

vellore golden temple

fishing at kullu

Raghunath Temple

silver valley

kullu tourism

The Silver Valley

Kullu was once known as “Kulanthpitha”, which means the end of the habitable world. Beyond rose the forbidding heights of the Greater Himalayas, and by the banks of the shining river Beas, lay the fabled 'Silver Valley' of Kulu. Here is the core of an intricate web of numerous valleys - each of which is a visual delight and seems more beautiful than the other. The Himalayan mountain scapes remain spectacular whether in brilliant sunshine or in the haze of the mist. The town of Kullu has long been a centre of faith. In the 17th century, Raja Jagat Singh installed here an idol of Lord Raghunathji, which he brought from Ayodhya. As a mark of his penance, he placed the idol on his throne and it became the presiding deity of the Kullu valley. The town of Kulu is famous for its colourful Dussehra festival. Decorated palanquins and processions convey Gods and Goddesses from temples all over the valley to Kullu, to pay homage to the reigning deity, Raghunathji. A Fair springs up during the festival which is celebrated with a great deal of singing, dancing and festivity.

Places Of Interest In Kullu
Raghunathji Temple:
In the 17th century, Raja Jagat Singh of Kulu committed a great wrong. To atone for the sin he sent a senior courtier to Ayodhya for a statue of Lord Raghunath - Lord Ram. This temple was built by Raja Jagat Singh to house the image and even today, is greatly revered. The shrine houses an image of Shri Raghunath in his chariot.
Bijli Mahadev Temple:
Set on a spur that offers some spectacular views, this temple is famous for its 20m high rod that periodically draws lightning, which shatters the 'Shivalinga' and scorches the building. Using only butter as adhesive, the 'linga' is then carefully pieced together by the temple pundit.

Around Kullu
For 1,400 years Naggar remained the capital of Kullu. Its 16th century stone and wood castle is now a hotel run by Himachal Tourism. Here, a gallery houses the paintings of the Russian artist, Nicholas Roerich. Naggar also has three other old shrines.
Parvati Valley & Manikarna:
At 1,737 m, here am hot sulphur springs that bubble next to the by waters of the Penal river. The place is revered by both Hindus and Sikhs Treks from here lead to Pulga, Khirganga and Mantalai' a stretch of considerable natural beauty. The route finally reaches the Pin Parvati Pass (4802 m), which opens into the Sutlej valley.
Jagatsukh :
Jagatsukh is the most ancient Kullu capital, situated on the left bank, between Nagar and Manali. Around the Jagatsukh secondary school playground there are two ancient temples - the small shrine of Gaurishankar and the larger chalet-roofed temple to the goddess Sandhya Devi, the stone base of which is much more ancient than the 19th-century wooden verandah and roof.
Deo Tibba:
Also known as Indralika, this 2,953 metres (9,687 ft.) high snow dove Jagatsukh, has a legend around it, with Arjuna. He started performing 'tapa' at this mountain, under the advice of Maharishi Vyas, in order to obtain the powerful Pasupata Astra from Indra.

Adventure Sports in Kullu
Angling & Fishing in Kullu:
An open glade by the banks of the river Parvati, Kasol makes a good holiday destination. Clean white sand separates the lush green grass from the stone, this place is well known for trout fishing.
By the banks of the Beas-and on the Kullu-Manali Highway- Himachal Tourism runs a camping site here. This place is ideal for a taste of adventure and for spending a quiet holiday in solitary splendour.
At about midpoint on Kullu-Manali road, this is the home of lush orchards and famous for bee-keeping and trout fishing. Khatrain is the widest point in Kullu Valley and is overlooked by the 3,325 m Baragarh peak.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

snow leopard rose

Lingshed, Zanskar - altitude 3940 mThe bright rose was in full bloom like healing our tiredness of long walking in the mountain.

J & K - Paradise on earth

Tso Kar or Shoker as it is pronounced is a bird watcher's paradise in the high reaces of Ladakh India. The lake is a Salt water lake and the area is marshy hence making it the idle place for the birds to come from all over the world. The lake is accessable by road for 5-6 months in a year.