Benefits of Bael or Wood Apple

Wood apple, also known as bel, is a tropical fruit that is native to India. It is a good source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Wood apple has been used in traditional medicine for centuries to treat a variety of health conditions.

Some of the health benefits of wood apple include:

  • Improves digestion: Wood apple is a good source of fiber, which is essential for digestive health. Fiber helps to keep the digestive system running smoothly and can help to prevent constipation.
  • Boosts immunity: Wood apple is a good source of vitamin C, which is an important nutrient for the immune system. Vitamin C helps to protect the body from infection and can help to shorten the duration of illness.
  • Lowers blood pressure: Wood apple is a good source of potassium, which is a mineral that helps to regulate blood pressure. Potassium helps to balance the effects of sodium in the body and can help to lower blood pressure.
  • Reduces inflammation: Wood apple is a good source of antioxidants, which can help to reduce inflammation in the body. Inflammation is a major factor in many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer.
  • Treats respiratory problems: Wood apple has expectorant properties, which means that it helps to loosen mucus in the respiratory tract. This can be helpful for people with conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, and coughs.
  • Treats diarrhea and dysentery: Wood apple has antidiarrheal properties, which means that it can help to stop diarrhea. Diarrhea is a common problem, especially in children, and can be caused by a variety of factors, such as infection, food poisoning, and medication side effects.
  • Treats piles and ulcers: Wood apple has astringent properties, which means that it can help to tighten tissues. This can be helpful for people with piles and ulcers, which are conditions that can cause pain and bleeding.
  • Improves skin health: Wood apple is a good source of antioxidants, which can help to protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage cells, leading to premature aging and the development of wrinkles and age spots.
  • Improves hair health: Wood apple is a good source of vitamins and minerals that are essential for hair health, such as vitamin A, vitamin C, and iron. These nutrients can help to keep hair strong, healthy, and shiny.

Wood apple is a versatile fruit that can be eaten fresh, cooked, or juiced. It can also be used to make a variety of other products, such as chutneys, pickles, and candies. Wood apple is a safe and healthy fruit that can be enjoyed by people of all ages.

Unbelievable Perch

A Large Tailed Nightjar lands in the concrete jungle!! There are some birds which have adapted themselves to live near human settlements. And there are others which are very reclusive. Birders go great lengths to spot and photograph them. One such rare bird is Large Tailed Nightjar.

Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forest, subtropical or tropical mangrove forest, and subtropical or tropical moist montane forest.

Nightjars are the masters of camouflage and completely merge into the surroundings. But sometimes exceptions happen!!!My daughter and her husband live in a apartment situated on the 18th floor of Gaur City in Ghaziabad India.

On the morning of 12th October 2022, as they were getting their tot ready for school around 6 AM, they noticed a bird sleeping on the railing of the balcony of one of the rooms. Although they don’t do bird photography but out of curiosity they took its pictures through the glass door with the mobile.

Large Tailed Nightjar

As they don’t know the bird, she sent the picture to me as i am doing birding. I was astonished. It was a Large Tailed Nightjar.

How did a bird which keeps away from the human populations and lives in the dense branches of trees in shrubby areas ended up in the balcony of 18th floor?? May be it was on migration route and it so happened decided to roost for night here. God knows.

Eggs Kejriwal: Dish

EGGS KEJRIWAL topped NY food critic’s list in 2017. Surprised?

It has nothing to do with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal although the marwari connection is very much there. Kejriwals belong to the Bania caste. They are astute businessmen. Mostly they are vegetarians. Many young people from the community eat non vegetarian food clandestinely.

The said dish was invented by Devi Prasad Kejriwal a businessman from Mumbai. Being a conservative marwari in he didn’t take eggs at home. But he enjoyed it after golf.

Good thing about the dish is easily available three ingredients Eggs, Cheese and Green Chilli. It hardly takes any time to prepare.

Picture from New York Times

He would tell the waiter how to make it with a slice of cheese, a fried egg and, being a Marwari, he liked green chillies,“ says Ajay Kejriwal, his nephew.

How did it get thus peculiar name?

It got its name because other members began asking the waiter to give them the same what Kejriwal is having.

The dish topped New York Food Critic’s list. One reason cited is the commonality of the ingredients and easy way to prepare.

Some places renamed in India during last 6 year

India has been on the name changing spree. During last 5 years names of many places, roads and monuments have been changed on the basis of the present names being reminder of colonial era or names being derogatory and names of some places being after some Moghul king who was not positively inclined towards the original inhabitants. Another argument for changing names was to replace those alien names with our own local heroes. Here is a list of some changed names during last 5 years in chronological order.

November 2014

Bangalore became Bangaluru. In all, the names of 12 places in Karnataka changed to reflect original Kannada pronunciation. Mysore became Mysuru and Mangalore became Mangaluru.

August 2015

Aurangzeb road in Delhi became APJ Abdul Kalam road.

October 2015

Rajahmundry was renamed Rajamahendravaram in the honour of 11th century king

April 2016

Gurgaon became Gurugram after Guru Dronacharya of Kauravas of Mahabharata fame. Mewat renamed to Nuh.

May 2016

Bangalore city railway station renamed Krantivira Sangli Rayanna, 19th century freedom fighter.

September 2016

Race Course road in Delhi renamed Lok Kalyan Marg, giving 7 RCR a new address.

January 2017

Ganda village in Fatehabad district of Haryana renamed AjitNagar after a petition to PM by teenager Harpreet Kaur Malkat. Kinnar village changed to Gaibi Nagar. Both previous names had derogatory shades.

July 2017

Odisha’s Wheeler island, home to a missile testing range was renamed APJ Abdul Kalam Island.

September 2017

Kandla port in Gujarat was renamed Deendayal Port to mark the centenary year of JanaSangha co-founder.

February 2018

Chor Basai in Rajasthan lost Chor. Nachania in Bihar became Kashipur.

July 2018

Mumbai’s Elphinstone Road station named after British governor was renamed Prabhadevi.

August 2018

Miyon Ka Bara” village in Barmer Rajasthan got new name Mahesh Nagar as residents alleged that due to Muslim sounding name it was hard to get marriage proposals.

August 2018

Mughalsarai junction founded in 1860 and one of the busiest junctions in country renamed as Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya junction.

July 2018

West Bengal assembly passed a resolution to change the state’s name to Bangla. Mamata Banerjee didi found that due to alphabetical pecking order, her bureaucrats were called last at central meetings. With changed name “Bangla” pecking order will be on top almost.

October 2018

Naya Raipur in Chhattisgarh has been renamed as Atal Nagar after the popular prime minister of India Atal Behari Vajpayee.

October 2018

Allahabad City which got this name from Akbar and is the holy place where Kumbh Mela is held.

The process continues unabated. Next on the anvil are the names of trains based on the great personalities which belonged to the originating stations.

Panjnad, Satnad and Triveni

Prayag in Allahabad is the place of confluence of Ganges, Yamuna & Saraswati rivers. The place is revered by Hindus and is one of the four places where a great fair called “Kumbh Mela” is held which is attended by many hundred thousand pilgrims.

It is believed that a holy dip in the confluence waters purifies a person washing all his sins. These are beliefs and metaphors because the sins and good deeds do not cling to the body like grime or clothes which even a good scrubbing and soap bath washes away. These are the things which depend upon individuals way of taking it.

Most of the Indians are gullible and of herd mentality. This is evident from the blind faith they put into the so called innumerable holy men who take them for ride. Every other day we hear stories about their deeds of corruption, twisting of law, grabbing of lands, silent rapes committed by them in their Ashrams.

Public memory being short, these events are easily forgotten. Second reason is that the followers don’t question or do the logical analysis of whatever is said, neither do they tolerate to hear anyone questioning these ideas.

Let us come back to the main subject after this detour. It is not impossible since we have not gone too far. So we are talking about the great river Ganges which is not only considered as a body of water but also a Goddess.

She was brought to earth for the salvation of the land and sons of Bhagirath. Though not happy to condescend and come down to earth, she was nevertheless bound to obey the orders, she had to come down to earth. Seeing her fury, the Shiva: the savior of Gods and life, took all the impact of Ganges on his head and smothered her to become less aggressive and benevolent stream.

Even from the physical point of view, it sustains and nourishes almost all of  India in the North from West to East. It enriches the soil and makes it so fertile to grow crops in plenty.

On reaching the end of its journey near Calcutta, where it splits into many parts and along with Brahmaputra, the only river with masculine name, which also reaches the final destination, it forms the world’s biggest and most fertile delta called Sundarbans.

Similarly, many great rivers flow into the plains of Punjab and Sind. They also originate in the Glaciers of Himalayas but flow towards Arabian sea. These are five rivers namely Jhelum, Ravi, Chenab, Beas and Sutlej.

In fact the name Punjab is derived from two words namely Panj and Aab, meaning five and rivers respectively. So Punjab is the land of five rivers. These rivers are not so mighty as Ganges. These rivers also join successively to one another. One branch is formed by joining of Jhelum, Chenab & Sutlej and becomes Chenab, the other two acting as tributaries. Second branch is formed by merging of Beas into Sutlej.

On proceeding south west, these two branches join at a place called “Panjnad”, which literally translates to five rivers. This confluence should have been as important from the religious point of view as the confluence of Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati at Allahabad. Why this has not happened, I don’t know.

Although as we know the great civilization of Indus Valley flourished in Punjab and Sind areas mainly. In fact, Harappa and Moenjodaro were the most important centers of this civilization situated on the Indus river. But research has shown that it was spread all over Punjab, Sind and Gujarat up to Ganges in the Western Uttar Pradesh.

Flowing further south, Panjnad the joins another great river Indus and their confluence is called Satnad, the seven rivers.  Just before joining with Panjnad, Indus also receives water from another tributary called Afghan river. This place should have been even more importance. From here Arabian sea is waiting to receive this great river which forms Indus delta before falling into the sea.

Kanoji Angre

There is no doubt about the fact that Shivaji was a great hero. Why I am saying was, he was, he is, and always will remain in the hearts of Indians. Some say he was Hindu king but that is not true. He looked upon his people without any discrimination. But the qualities I admire him for are his bravery, fearlessness and presence of mind. Otherwise, who can even imagine that any person who is in clutches of such a mighty emperor as Aurangzeb at Agra could make his escape good from a place which is thousands of miles away from his home. My heart is always full of praise for the man who had the prescience of what the towering and powerful Pathan Afzal Khan had in his mind when Khan invited him and planned to squeeze him to his death while hugging him. These traits do not come by education, they are inborn.

Shivaji was the first Indian King who realized the importance of controlling the sea with systematic navy and ports. He had made many ports like in Panvel, Murud Zanzira. He also constructed a number of forts. Some of the forts are at such places which seem unassailable. Many are located on ridges overlooking the Arabian seashore while many are located on small islands. It is a matter of shame that such monuments which had so much history attached to them are lying in very ruinous state. Government of Maharashtra is planning to install a very huge statue in Mumbai costing crores of rupees. Instead of carrying out such senseless and ill conceived project just only for the sake of false admiration of the great man, it would be wise to restore those crumbling structure which are proud of our nation.

He was having very trusted and brave general and army under his command. One such person was  Tanoji Angre who had a son called Kanoji Angre  also known as Sarkhel Angre, who was the worked under Chief of Satara. He was so much bold that he had one of his bases at Andaman. He relentlessly harassed the British ships of East India Company, who were so  frustrated, that they called him a pirate.

Kanoji Angre was born in Ali Baug town which is located on the seashore and these days a popular beach. It is connected by a ferry to Bhau Cha Dhakka in Mumbai. Most of the workers and stevedores in Bombay docks came to Bombay from Ali Baug by ferry. So being born in the vicinity of sea, Angre must have been very adept in seafaring and fishing activities. It is even surprising to imagine that such a person located in the Western Coast of India had such control over the sea that Andaman in Bay of Bengal was under his away.

Angre’s tomb is situated at the city of Alibag his birthplace. A statue of Angre stands tall in Naval Dockyard in Mumbai. The fort which overlooks the Naval Docks may not be there but the boundary wall is still intact and within it lays the Headquarters of Western Naval Command and is called INS Angre ( Indian Naval Station Angre).

We salute to these brave people who boldly faced the looter from Britain. Only regret is that there were not many of them, otherwise the history would have been different.

Forgotten Cousins of Punjabi Sikhs

Just like many Marathi families settled in Tanjore during the time of rule of Marathas at this place, many Sikhs opted not to return to their native land but to settle in the Assam itself. These Sikhs trace their genealogies to few hundred Sikh soldiers which arrived in Assam to help the Ahom rulers in the year 1820. These Sikhs were sent by Ranjit Singh as a friendly gesture.

Many of them perished but many among those who survived chose to settle down there. Many of them married the local girls. Most of the descendants are mostly concentrated in Nagaon district of Assam living there for Sikhs for approximately two hundred years.p

In the earlier times, the year 1505 to be precise, the first prophet of the Sikhs, Guru Nanak Dev had visited Kamrup (Assam). This fact is recorded in the documents concerning the numerous journeys undertaken by  Guru Nanak in various stages of his life.  It is said that, he met Srimanta Shankardeva (the founder of the Mahapuruxiya Dharma) as he traveled from Dhaka to Assam.

After this journey by the first Guru, Ninth Guru or prophet of Sikhs Guru Tegh Bahadur also visited Assam in 1668. This was the time when armies of Aurangzeb tried the best to cross the Brahamputra river and enter the Assam. They were thoroughly routed by the Ahom general Lachit Borphukan. Guru visited the the place called Dhubri. A  famous for the Sikh Gurudwara was constructed to commemorate his visit. Every year Sikhs from all over India and foreign visit this holy place.The grateful Ahom King invited Guruji to the Kamakhya shrine, where he was honoured.

Back to the main story. While some died and some came back to Punjab, a few stayed on and made Assam their home, raising families. Their descendants today—mostly concentrated in Nagaon district—are Assamese for all practical purposes, and speak Assamese, but continue to maintain their Sikh identity and observe most tenets and traditions of the religion.

Barely a few days ago, I happened to be watching a TV program called “Mysterious North East”. In fact this a an interesting series on North Eastern states of India made by Bhupen Hazarika and Kalpana Lajmi. In that particular episode, he showed a Gurudwara and a village inhabited almost totally by Sikhs. These descendants of original Sikhs although follows all the Sikh tenets, many of them keep the hair, they resemble the Mongolians. This had happened due to their mingling and marrying into Assamese families. Most of these Sikhs are farmers. In fact, there was scene of extracting sugarcane juice in a machine rotated by Bullocks. It was a familiar scene in the villages of Punjab during my childhood and still now.

During a period two centuries, they have assimilated and integrated the Assamese culture into their own original culture. They speak fluent Assamese and forgotten to speak Punjabi the mother tongue of their forefathers. They call themselves as Assamese Sikhs.

Their are other classes of Sikhs living in Assam which don’t mix up with these Sikhs. In fact, these Sikhs do not marry their girls with the Assamese Sikhs and consider them as inferior class forgetting the very basic tenet of their Gurus teachings which preached the equality of all human beings.

Some research says that the Assamese Sikhs may have their roots in Bihari Sikhs which to some extent seems logical given the vast distance between Punjab and Assam. It is not easily understood, how the Ahom kings has corresponded with Mahraja Ranjit Singh as there were numerous states between these two places. How the soldiers might had reached the Assam after treading the whole distance of thousands of miles without getting into problems along the route. How they had overcome the temptation to enroll themselves into the service of better off intervening kingdoms?

Unlike the Maharashtrians who chose to remain in the Tanjavore, the Sikhs in Assam depended mainly on the agriculture or manual labor. This is due to the fact that Assam was virtually outside the realm of mainstream India due to geography of the area. It was almost inaccessible and so suffered from the lack of education and other amenities. Whereas, the Tamilian Maharashtrians, when they lost their respected position after the decline of Maratha rule, took to educations and excelled in the field and many of them are prominent people in the Government echelons.

Sikhs in Assam have been forgotten by their cousins in Punjab. Unlike the Sikhs which arrived in India after partition settled in many places of the country and by the dint of hard work became prosperous, the Assamese Sikhs live miserable lives. The indolence which they must have inherited from their Assamese hosts may be one factor responsible for this. It is this feature of being satisfied with whatever is available and lack of initiative which is the bane of Assamese people.


Silk Floss Trees

The Silk Floss Trees are the native to South America. They belong to the same family as Baobab and Kapok trees. Like so many other species of trees and plants, due to ease of navigation, have been brought to another countries and have adapted to themselves to the local climate. Many explorers brought species found in the newly discovered lands to their country as a mark of the success of the voyage and also out of human curiosity to try and propagate the species in their own country.

Due to the change in climate many traits undergo some differences from the original variety. Some traits that may be affected are height, volume, color of flowers and fruits and yield. Plants show a remarkable ability to adapt and propagate in alien environs. Thus tomatoes and potatoes are not the natives to India but grow in copious quantities in India. Similarly, when the Portuguese arrived and inhabited Goa and its neighborhood, they introduced the Pineapple to India. They called it Ananas a name which is still used by natives to describe the fruit.  Although it is another matter that Portuguese being the most adventurous explorers brought the fruit from Peru where it is called nanas.

Anyway, coming to the point, I was attracted to the pink flowers in copious numbers on the trees in Dehradun. There are five to six trees in the compound of ONGC hospital. These days they are in full bloom. Flowers are pinkish white in the center and pink in the outer parts of the sepals. A lot of birds visit these trees and flowers continuously fall to the ground. These trees are doing very well here as is evident from the size and girth covered with big thorns. These thorns are reservoirs in which water is stored for the dry season. Some of these trees has green covering on their trunks indicating the abundance of chlorophyll which is used to synthesize the food when the leaves dry and trees become shorn of them.

Here are some of pictures of the trees I took with my HTC HD desire camera.

Place of Rivers in Humanity

A River not only creates conditions for settlement of the people on its banks, it sustains the life of people living near it. It provides them with all the things of human requirements. Water for washing, irrigation, fish and most importantly the water for agriculture which provides for the most basic needs of humans and cattle. It is no wonder then that rivers had been held in great esteem by many civilizations. Rivers are revered because they nourished the life. Many saints and great men loved to live on its banks.

Rivers are held in great esteem in Sikh religion. The region where this religion was founded and flourished is aptly called the land of five Rivers.

First Guru Nanak the founder of Sikh religion is said to have experienced enlightenment after a dip in holy river. Legend is that when he emerged out of river Kali Bein which merges into the confluence of Beas and Sutlej rivers at a place called Harike in Punjab after three days, he was glowing and a completely transformed. He recited the “Mool Mantra or the Basic Hymn” .

It seems that Guru Gobind ji, the tenth and last Guru had a great affinity for rivers. His Life revolved along the different riverbanks of India. He was born in Patna in Bihar and spent his early days on Ganga river. Then he came to Anandpur sahib in Punjab which has Sutlej river close by. And during wars with hill royalties he stayed in Paonta sahib on the Yamuna river and wrote prolifically. And finally he moved to Maharashtra where he stayed on the banks of Godavari river.

Alas , due to the unlimited greed of some people, these rivers are being contaminated by discharging the effluents from factories, city sewage and sand mining.

Assam Silk

Again, I am harking back to North-Eastern state of India: Assam. Still the land of mystery. I was going through imperial gazetteer of India and reading about Sibsagar, now bearing the moniker of “Sivasagar”. It was once the capital of Ahoms. They came from China to India through Eastern corridor and settled here for good. Over the time they adopted the Hindu religion.

This district is very rich in natural resources. It is famous for oil fields, tea and silk sarees. There are many shops is the town selling the exquisite sarees. These shops are mostly owned by Marwari people who are traders and settled here centuries ago. People from outside of Assam, who are posted there, especially in oil industry, buy silk sarees and take them to their hometowns for their womenfolk.

Assam Silks

According to gazetteer, silk is obtained from three kinds of silk worms namely Eri (attacus recini), Muga (antheraea assama) and Pat (bambyx textor). Each worm is fed specific leaves. The Eri worm is fed on Castor oil plant leaves. Muga is fed on Sum tree and Pat worm on Mulberry tree leaves.

A fine white thread, which is much valued, is produced by feeding Muga on  Chappa Tree leaves and Mezankuri. Muga silk is produced in large quantities. Pat is the costliest and rare. The worms are raised in North Eastern states like Assam and Manipur.

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