June 2013

Cochineal Red: The Bright Red Dye

In the ancient world of the Aztecs, red dye was considered more valuable than gold. The dye is made from the dried female cochineal beetles. Beetles were collected by hundreds of subjects combing the desert in search of its source. A pound of water-soluble extract required about a million insects, just as back in the days of the Roman Empire, a pound of royal purple dye required four million mollusks. After the arrival of Cortez in the 1500s, the Spaniards traded the dried remains of this insect as a colorant that dyed items a brilliant crimson. Cochineal red was a… Read More »Cochineal Red: The Bright Red Dye

The Hindu Calendar

In this calendar, the basic unit was a thithi or lunar day. Approximately 30 of these made a Lunar month. This was about 29 and a half solar days. This month was divided into 2 halves of fifteen thithis each. Each half is called paksa. The paksa beginning with full moon is called purnimavasya and other beginning with new moon is called amavasya. The fortnight beginning with new moon is called bright half or shulkapaksha and dark half is called krishnapaksha. In most of North India, the new month began with full moon. The year normally contained 12 lunar months.… Read More »The Hindu Calendar

Uttrakhand Floods: Shall we learn any Lessons

It has become a tragedy of epic proportions. The loss in terms of precious human lives, property and environment is bigger than suffered in many wars. The floods which occurred in June 13 coincided with an event called “Char Dham Yatra” in which many hundred thousands have gone to the religious places in the Himalayas falling in Uttrakhand like Badrinath, Kedarnath. Thousands died and many thousands were trapped as the floods smashed many roads to smithereens blocking the way to return. So many hotels and guest houses fell like house of cards. As can be seen clearly in the video… Read More »Uttrakhand Floods: Shall we learn any Lessons

Clothes in Vedic Times

The garments worn in Vedic times onwards did not fundamentally differ from those worn by Hindus in later times. A single length cloth draped around the body, over the shoulders and fastened with a pin or a belt. This was a comfortable dress to be worn in a hot and humid climate which prevailed in India in comparison to the weather from where these people migrated. Lower garment was called paridhana or vasana. It was usually such a cloth fastened around the waist with a belt or a string which is called mekhala or rasana. Upper garment was called Uttaiya… Read More »Clothes in Vedic Times

Darkness

Darkness I said. But you may say light only acquires meaning thanks to darkness. Contrary to my expectations, it has turned out to be the opposite. The things which shone from afar turned out to be dark. Darkness was hidden behind the light, lies sugar coated with sweet talk were forced down my gullet.From the great distance, things looked prettier like they say that grass looks greener on the other side of the fence. I don’t blame the ones who gave me wrong impressions. what was the need to do that? Guided by this wrong impression, I came. From the… Read More »Darkness

Forest Research Institute, India

Dehradun is the capital of Uttrakhand State in North India. It is situated in valley surrounded by Himalayas in the North and Shiwalik Hills to its south. Due to its salubrious climate and greenery and moderate weather, during the pre-independence days, British officers used to retire to cold climes of Mussoorie which is hill station beyond Dehradun and established many institutions in Dehradun. One of them is Forest Research Institute. Established as Imperial Forest Research Institute in 1906, Forest Research Institute (FRI) Dehradun, is a premier institution under the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE). Styled in Greeko… Read More »Forest Research Institute, India

Our Body is a Wonder Machine

Photosynthesis is the process by which plants make two essential things on which the very survival of animals is hinged. These are namely a sugar called Glucose and oxygen. In the beginning oxygen was a poison to many microbes. But since it was a question of survive or perish, slowly they adapted to respiration using oxygen. Those which could not change receded to great depth where oxygen cannot reach. Glucose is a like a charged battery which stores energy. Where does this energy come from? Obviously it is the Sun on which the life on the Earth is based upon.… Read More »Our Body is a Wonder Machine

Monsoon in Mumbai

Indian continent experiences a number of weathers. Even there are vast differences in the weather along the length and breadth of India. Unlike Europe, the weather changes are rapid and during the year one can experience biting cold and searing heat at one place. This is particularly true in the Northern plains. The weather along the sea coast remains humid and moderate. During summers, the humidity and heat becomes unbearable.¬† In Bombay, everyone prays the rain gods for being benign and lash the city with rains to cool the heat and bring succor to people, animals and trees. The hot… Read More »Monsoon in Mumbai

Ganjifa: Playing Cards

Original Ganjifa was brought to India by Moghuls. There is a district called Sawantwadi in Maharashtra. This touches the Goa state. When you travel by train to Goa from Mumbai, it is the last station in Maharashtra. Whole area which is adjacent to Arabian Sea is dotted with unending rows of Coconut palms. Ganjifa was popularized here by the ruler Khem Sawant Bhosle, who heard of it from scholars of the Telengana region. The Chitari community in Sawantwadi, known for their skill in shellac ware and wood craft, learned¬† to make these cards Ganjifa are circular playing cards made from… Read More »Ganjifa: Playing Cards

Fabled Rumals of Chamba Himachal Pradesh India

Himachal Pradesh is a beautiful hill state in India. It is nestled between Shiwaliks and Lower Himalayas and due to cool weather have so many hill stations like Shimla, Kasauli, Kulu, Manali. Chamba is old city in the state. Situated on a mountain ledge overlooking the River Ravi, the town of Chamba was established in the 10th century when Raja Sahil Varman relocated his capital from the neighbouring Bharmour region, now the homeland of semi-nomadic shepherding Gaddis. The city is believed to have been named after the king`s favourite daughter, Champavati, who legend says, sacrificed herself to provide water to… Read More »Fabled Rumals of Chamba Himachal Pradesh India