Scaly Breasted Munia

There are grown up Ficus Shrubs with thick canopy of branches and leaves at the top in the small park outside our house. In the morning usually I sit up in the balcony and watch birds and green fields away.

There are common birds to be seen dominated by the rock pigeons which are multiplying here at an abnormal speed and breeding in the niches of buildings.  Residents scatter seeds for them so that there is no scarcity of the food to them. Then there are mynas which have arrived here after the end of winter season. Similarly there are a few crows and nightingales. A falcon also is to be seen sometimes.

But some days back in the early morning noticed the small beautiful pair of birds. They were sitting on the metallic net wires near the ficus shrub. Then they inspected all the ficus trees. Since these trees have thick foliage bigger predator birds cannot enter inside.

Then everyday they were darting into fields near by and bringing the straws to make nest inside the shrub. Usually they were seen in the morning. During this activity they take turns to bring the material for construction of the nest. The other of the pair will sit on the fence near the ficus. I peered into the foliage and found a nest which was surprising given the small size of the bird.

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Then I photographed them and searched the internet for indetifying the birds. It turned out that these are the birds called “Scaly Breasted Munia”. Their scientific name is Lonchura punctulata. these are also known as nutmeg mannikin or spice finch.

it is a small bird with a very distinctive appearance. It has a bright cinnamon head and neck, with duller brown plumage on the back and wings. The underside of the scaly-breasted munia is mainly white, although each feather on the breast. it is merely 11 to 12 centimeters long.

They are described as social animals which means they live in small groups but here i found only two pairs. The diet of the scaly-breasted munia comprises mainly seeds, and this species spends much of its time foraging off the ground. It also takes seeds directly from plants such as rice during the harvest season, when the kernels are maturing.

The birds are native to south asia ranging from Indonesia in the east to Afghanistan in the west. These birds are also found as far north as Nepal.

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Phulkari: Traditional Dress of Punjab

It started in Patiala state of Punjab in India. Patiala rose to prominence amongst many princely states of Punjab before independence. Phul means flowers and Kar means the work. So Phulkari literally means Flower Work on the rough heavy cotton.¬† Throughout the Punjab, in the Hindu,Muslim and Sikh communities alike, women embroider Odhanis (veils) or Chaddar (wraps) ornamented with Phulkar, literally “flower work” and Bagh, garden, a variation where the embroidery completely covers the support material. The support fabric is most often an auspicious dark red, or more rarely, an indigo blue or a white reserved for elderly women, on which the embroidery is executed in untwisted floss silk called pat, sourced from Kashmir, Afghanistan and Bengal and dyed yellow,orange,burgundy,bright pink, purple, blue and green in Amritsar and Jammu. Darning stitch is used to embroider from the reverse side of the fabric, with the longer float on the face, thus allowing large surfaces to be densely embroidered with economy. Aside from their everyday use as veils, the Phulkari is integrated into the lives of the women. and is an indispensable element in ceremonies, especially those concerning birth,death and marriage. When a girl child is born, the women of the family organize a great feast, marking the beginning of the task of the child`s grandmother in creating the future bride`s trousseau. The most significant items of the trousseau are the chope, a reversible Phulkari worked double running stitch and wrapped around the bride after the ritual bath two days before the wedding, and the suber phulkari, composed of five eight petaled lotuses, worn by the bride when she walks around the sacred fire during the wedding ceremony. A phulkari is also worn 11 days after the birth of a son, when the mother goes out for the first time after delivery, and when visiting a temple during religious festivals to request prosperity and happiness for loved ones.

Calcutta Chromosome

Recently my reading capacity has dwindled quite a lot. Though in normal circumstances, I don’t read the books in one go. I can’t. For me it is not possible. I am the one who don’t swallow big chunks without properly chewing. I read about 10 pages at the maximum in one sitting.

But, it was different with Amitav Ghosh‘s novel “Calcutta Chromosome“. I purchased it few days back and was occasionally reading two three pages at the time of going to bed. Generally I read in leisure lying down in the bed and many a times very powerful but brief sleep overtakes me. It lasts about ten to fifteen minutes but it is like becoming dead.

But, on Saturday, I was having a bad time and picked up the book to while away some time. But as I was reading, I got hooked up to the story. It so happened that by the end of the day, I had read the entire book which though is not a thick volume. It was so thrilling and full of suspense. The characters were crafted brilliantly and spooky happenings were just like addiction to the mind. It was always expecting more and more.

I have become a fan of Amitav Ghosh. A few months back, I read an article by him regarding the religious fanaticism in India. Though it was titled like this but actually it was about Babur and his adventurous life. It was about how the circumstances forced him towards India though he did not want to and tried his luck towards west. He was utterly defeated and many a times escaped the death and everything fell into his line in Afghanistan. Babur used to drink a lot and was a liberal. Mr.Ghosh wanted to drive home the point that in this democratic country man of us have become more intolerant of other religion than our own.

The Calcutta Chromosome
The Calcutta Chromosome (Photo credit: Wikipedia)