Madhubani Paintings

About 70% of Indian population still lives in villages. Agriculture and its related cottage industries is the main occupations of the inhabitants of the villagers. Since the times immemorial, the village folks lead a simple life and most of the work is manual. In many areas, the agriculture is dependent on the good weather and timely change in the weather. Most of the populace also rears animals which meet their many needs like milk, milk products like butter, ghee. This means that if the crops are good, and animals are providing articles of the necessity, the rural folk is happy.

As a result of this, all these things are revered. Farmer prays to the God, to bless his soil with good crops through rains. The cow which yields milk and endows the farmer with bullocks is highly revered by Hindus. It has been given the rank of mother. As everyone knows that Krishna was a cowherd and you can see pictures in which he is depicted playing a flute and cows gathered around him in love and affection.

The arts developed in different regions of rural India are as simple as the folks. For example, the Warli art depicts the simple village life like trees, animals, marriage ceremonies etc. Another such beautiful art is Madhubani or Mithila art. It developed in the village called Mithila, a village in the Bihar. Like Warli paintings the base is again the depiction of the rural life and the rituals observed in the area. In addition to the animals, trees and birds, in most of the paintings, the central theme is the God and Goddesses. Shiva, Sita and Rama are most popular. Sita figures dominantly because of the fact that Sita was the princess of this area. Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity is repeatedly drawn on the floor from the door to the worship room. Many symbols are used to convey the popular beliefs by the artist. For example, fish symbolises the good luck and snakes as our protectors.

The paintings on the walls which are plastered with cow dung as wells floors are the part of daily ritual based on the belief that Gods visit the house daily and it is to welcome them that these decorations are done. The painting is done by using natural colors derived from flowers and plants as well rice paste. Womenfolk did all the paintings. The difference from Warli paintings is that no area is left blank in the canvas. After the central figure which occupies the major portion of the space, there are leaves, birds and animals. In contrast to these, in the Warli paintings religious figures are totally missing. In fact, Madhubani paintings are more evolved than Warli paintings. Both are beautiful in their own way.

These paintings are so beautiful that they are in great demand. That is why now the art is made on cloth and paper and graces the homes of well to do in the cities.

Many famous artists include Shri Bua Devi Jha, Shri Jagdamba Devi, Shri Sita Devi, Shri Mahasundari Devi and others. Madhubani painting got official recognition in 1970 when the President of India gave an award to Mrs Jagdamba Devi of Village Jitbarpur near Madhubani. Beside her, two other painters, Mrs Sita Devi and Mrs Mahasundari Devi, were also given national awards in this field. In 2011, Shri Mahasundari Devi was again awarded, this time Padma Shri by the government of India.

Here is the Bharti Dayal’s website on Madhubani paintings.

All is Energy

Hinduism is very difficult to define. It cannot be confined into strict rules and regulations. It can be amended to suit certain needs. So it is a dynamic system. It is continually evolving. One of the beautiful feature of the system is that both animate and inanimate things are given equal statusĀ  and thought to be the extension of the supreme one. The tenet that energy is the supreme cosmic entity has been proved to be true in the scientific experiments. Einstein‘s famous equation states it in beautiful short equation which tells us the energy and matter are inter convertible. Thus the material things which we see is the energy condensed into a small space. Atoms with higher atomic weight have large amounts of energy locked inside them. The sum of weights of their individual parts exceed the actual mass, a property called mass defect. Where is that mass gone? It is there in the atom itself in the form of binding energy. This tremendous amount of the energy had been used as nuclear weapons which cause the devastation on a scale unimaginable.

Chinese Love this Delicacy

Soups made from bird nest seems to incredulous. Bird nests are usually made from twigs and other materials which are inedible by humans. But believe it that there are nests made by some birds called Swiftlets, which are used to make soups in China and this soup is amongst one of most expensive food items in the bird.

Swiftlets are very small birds belonging to Collocallini tribe. They are mostly the inhabitants of South Asia and Australia. They live in the seashore caves. Most of these caves in the limestone rocks. The birds use echolocation technique to navigate inside deep and dark caves. They made the nests which stick to the walls of the caves. These nests are cup shaped in which the bird just fits when it sits in the nest.

These nests are not made from ordinary material which other birds use. These are fabricated by the intertwining threads of thick saliva which the male birds secrete. There are multiple layers. The purest and most prized nests are white colored. Though these nest are built by birds for laying down the eggs and breeding, they become the curse for the birds. There are professionals who are engaged in removing the nests from walls of caves.

It is back breaking job. They use the bamboo scaffolding to reach to the ceiling. Secondly all the time, he has to hold the torch for dispelling the darkness. The demand for the nests is so high that the birds are made to work overtime. It is a cruelty really to the birds. When they make their first nest, it is scooped out in no time. The bird, helpless, builds the second nest at the same place immediately and it is also plucked before the birds lay their eggs in it. Third nest is generally spared and birds are allowed to lay egg and rear their children because otherwise there is danger of depletion of their population. But the greed is so much that many unscrupulous one’s do not bother about this and destroy their third nest also.

The nest when immersed in water yields a thick gummy substance. Chinese believe that the soup maintains the skin tone, and reinforces the immune system. It increases the virility. It helps in strengthening the lungs and prevent coughs.

100 gram of dry nest includes about 50 grams of water soluble proteins, roughly about 31 grams of carbohydrate, iron and inorganic salts. It is rich in Potassium and other trace elements which are required in trace amounts but are crucial to overall well being.

Authentic bird’s nest soup is quite popular throughout Asia. It is also extremely expensive; many western restaurants serve a less expensive version consisting of soup with noodles shaped to resemble a bird’s nest.