Bengal

What is Maya?

I am sure that people in the West might have heard the word Maya. In the Hindu mythology, Universe or the Maya is the dream of Hindu God Brahma which he dreams. Then, there was Narada his son, who was a very erudite sage. With his intelligence, he impressed so many Gods and they often discussed their problems with him and used his services as a messenger for communicating with each other because one of them may be in Himalayas while another in the down South. One day Brahma called upon Narada and offered him a single wish. The Narada… Read More »What is Maya?

Bombay Duck is not a duck!!

Guess what is Bombay duck?  Any normal person will think that it must be a duck living in the water bodies around Bombay. There is a surprise. It is a fish!!! In fact Bombay duck or Bummalo is a fish belonging to lizardfish family. In the areas around Mumbai and Konkan, this fish is found in plenty in the Arabian sea and is very popular among the fish eating people. The fish is often dried and salted before it is consumed. Generally it is consumed in the fried and curry forms. After drying, the odour of the fish is extremely… Read More »Bombay Duck is not a duck!!

White river

In Hindi it is called Kaans. It is a perennial grass and grow in abundance in the dry river beds and adjoining spaces. It is rhizome and spreads quickly claiming the empty soil. Ghaggar river flows near our home in Panchkula, Haryana. It is seasonal river nowadays though once upon time as the history tells us it was a powerful river flowing till sea and along with another river called Hakra originating in Afghanistan and flowing down to Punjab and Sind, Ghaggar formed a river systems called Ghaggar Hakra system. But now it is mostly dry with small amount of… Read More »White river

Some Local Varieties of Rice in Bengal

Rice is the staple food of the populations in many countries especially the south east Asian, china and Japan. It is rich is carbohydrates and easy to digest. It goes particularly well with curries of fish and other vegetables. In Bengal, people eat the rice daily. It is considered very pious  and is used in many religious ceremonies. A concoction made from rice and milk called Kheer is very popular sweet dish in the subcontinent. Since the composition and climate of different places is not the same, the strains adapt to the given conditions and become localized. They have their unique… Read More »Some Local Varieties of Rice in Bengal

Freak Weather

I remember when we were young in late fifties and sixties, weather transitions were fairly uniform. The farmers whose hard work can turn to dust till the crops are harvested and safely brought home, were fairly confident about weather. We saw only poor monsoons once in a while and crops failing badly and food scarcity. In those days farming was dependent on the blessings of nature especially for water. The variety of crops and food items was not much. Only native seeds were used and often mixed crops were raised. For example, wheat alongwith sprinkle of barley or mustard. Only… Read More »Freak Weather

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… Read More »Phulkari: Traditional Dress of Punjab

India in Middle Times

After Harsha, who ascended to throne in 606 and was the great king. He was man of great energy and great gifts. After his death, the whole of north India was ruled by rivaling local dynasties. There was a confusion all around. Not a single ruler was there who could unite the warring factions. After his death, usurper Arunashva seized Kanyakubja. He attacked Wang Hsuan tse who came with a small detachment of troops as a help from Chinese emperor to Harsha. Wang escaped and gathered an army from Assam, Tibet & Nepal and captured Arunashva and took him to… Read More »India in Middle Times

Dhaka Muslins

Muslins of Dhaka were famous for centuries. Dr James Taylor published an exhaustive account of the muslin from Dhaka in 1851. He writes that skein of yarn which an local weaver measured before him proved to be 250 miles per one pound of cotton. A method to measure the fineness of these was to pass it through the ring worn by ladies. He writes that staples are shorter in comparison to the ones produced in America and hence were not suited for machine weaving, however, the Indian weavers produced the beautiful effect by hand weaving method. The Dhaka cotton expands… Read More »Dhaka Muslins

Parvathy Baul

The name is a fusion of two cultures, two art forms.  The proper name Parvathy belongs to south India and the suffix is the title of the wandering mystic minstrels from Bengal. Actually the real name of the girl is Moushami and she belongs to Bengali Brahmin family. Bauls philosophy is that like the end result, journey is equally important. They don’t need any instruments or the usual rules controlling the songs. They sing what comes from the heart without any care  of anything else. When she was a student, she happened to listen to a Baul singing in the… Read More »Parvathy Baul