Monthly Archives: August 2009

Maa Durga

Nine days of navratri

Navratri festival

Navratri is a prominent festival of India. This is a ten days longer festival, tenth day is the culmination and is also called as Vijayadashmi. Mythologically, this day is the day when Lord Rama defeated and killed Ravana to free Sita from his clutches. In nine days of Navratri, various forms of Maa Durga are worshipped.

Nine forms of Durga - Navratri

Nine forms of Durga – Navratri

Navratri is a nine day celebration, in which goddess durga is worshipped in nine different forms. Every day she assumes a new character, a new look and a new duty.

First Day – Shailputri

On first day Goddess is worshipped as, Shailputri . She is considered the daughter of the Himalayas. She is a form of Shakti, the consort of Lord Shiva.

Second Day – Brahmacharini

On second day she is worshipped as Brahmacharini. Her name is derivative of the word ‘Brahma’, which means ‘Tapa’ or penance. In her right hand she holds a rosary, while Kamandal in her left hand. She is also a form of Uma or Parvati, a form of Mata Shakti.

Third Day – Chandraghanta

On the third day the Goddess is worshipped as, Chandraghanta. She is the symbolic representation of beauty and bravery. She has a half-circular moon in her forehead, hence the name ‘Chandraghanta’. With three eyes, she is golden in color. Ten types of weapons, including sword and arrows are held by her ten hands. Seated on a lion, she is always ready to go to war.

Maa Durga

Maa Durga

Fourth Day – Kushmanda

On fourth day Goddess is worshipped as, Kushmanda. It is believed that Kushmanda is the creator of the entire universe and she has created the entire universe by her laugh. She has eight hands in seven hands she hold weapons and in the eight one she bears a string of beads. With rosary in her right hand, she sits on Lion.

Fifth Day – Skand Mata

On the fifth day, Goddess is worshipped as, Skand Mata. She is actually called so because she is here represented as the mother of Skanda, the chief warrior of the Gods army. Skanda Mata – is white in color, has three eyes and four hand. She is seated on a lion, with her son (Skanda), on her lap.

Sixth Day – Katyanani

On the sixth day, the goddess is worshipped as, Katyayani. Seated on her vehicle lion, Katyayani has three eyes and four hands.

Seventh Day – Kalratri

On the seventh day, the Goddess is worshipped as, Kalratri. As the name suggests, Kalrati is as black as a dark night. She has four hands, she is meant to make the devotees fearless thus also known as shubhamkari. She has four hands, with a sharp sword in her left hand and a burning torch in her lower left hand, her lower and upper right hand that shows blessings.

Eighth Day – Maha Gauri

On the eight day, the Mata Rani is worshipped as, Maha Gauri. She is considered to extremely beautiful, white like snow and accessorized with white colored ornaments. She represents calmness and exhibits wisdom. With three eyes and four hands, she rides on a bull. Her left hand shows the fearless Mudra, while her lower left hand holds a Trishul. Calm and peaceful Maha Gauri observed penance

Ninth Day – Siddhidatri

On the ninth day,Goddess Durga is worshipped as, Siddhidatri. It is believed she consists of all the eight siddhis. She rides on lotus and is worshipped by all the Rishis-Munis, Siddhas, Sadhakas and Yogis. It is believed that worshipping her is best for attaining religious asset.
Shakti peeth - Kamakhya

Kamakhya temple – Sati Shakti Peeth

Kamakhya Devi – Sati Shakti Peeth

Kamakhya Temple, Assam is one among the 52 shakti peeths of India. Kamakhya Temple is situated at the top of Ninanchal Hill ( 800 feets above sea level) in the western part of Guwahati city in Assam, India.There is no image of Shakti here. Within a corner of a cave in the temple, there is a sculptored image of the Yoni of the Goddess, which is the object of reverence. A natural spring keeps the stone moist. Other temples on the Neelachala hill include those of Tara, Bhairavi, Bhuvaneswari and Ghantakarna. This temple was destroyed in early 16th century, and then rebuilt in the 17th century by King Nara Narayana, of Cooch Bihar.
Kamakhya temple

Kamakhya temple

This current temple has a beehive-like shikhara with delightful sculptured panels and images of Ganesha and other Hindu gods and goddesses on the outside. The temple consists of three major chambers. The western chamber is large and rectangular and is not used by the general pilgrims for worship. The middle chamber is a square, with a small idol of the Goddess, a later addition. The walls of this chamber contain sculpted images of Naranarayana, related inscriptions and other gods. The middle chamber leads to the sanctum sanctorum of the temple in the form of a cave, which consists of no image but a natural underground spring that flows through a yoni-shaped cleft in the bedrock.
Shakti peeth - Kamakhya

Shakti peeth – Kamakhya

Legend
Sati married Lord Shiva against the wish of her father, King Daksha. Once King Daksha was having a yagna and he didn’t invited Sati and Lord Shiva. Sati was very sad on not getting an invitation but she still went to her father’s palace. When she reached there her father insulted her and Lord Shiva. Sati was unable to bear this disrespect for her husband, so she jumped in the fire and killed herself. When Lord Shiva came to know this he was very sad, and enraged Shiva started wondering holding the dead body of Sati. He started the dance of distruction of universe. Lord Vishnu in order to save the universe and break this attachment of Lord Shiva, cut the body of Sati into pieces with his sudarshan chakra. Body parts of Sati fell at different places and these places are known as shakti peeths. In kamakhya Temple, Assam yoni of mother goddess fell.
Story about the stair case of the temple. There was a demon Naraka he fell in love with Goddess Kamakhya and wanted to marry her. Goddess put a condition that if he would be able to build a staircase from the bottom of the Nilachal hill to the temple within one night, then she would surely marry him. Naraka took it as a challenge and tried all with his might to do this marathon task. He was almost about to accomplish the job when the Devi, panic-stricken as she was to see this, played a trick on him. She strangled a cock and made it crow untimely to give the impression of dawn to Naraka. Duped by the trick even Naraka thought that it was a futile job and left it half way through. Later he chased the cock and killed it in a place which is now known as Kukurakata, situated in the district of Darrang. The incomplete staircase is known as Mekhelauja path.
Apart from the daily puja offered to the Devi, a number of special pujas are also held round the year in the Kamakhya Temple. These pujas are Durga Puja, Pohan Biya, Durgadeul, Vasanti Puja, Madandeul, Ambuvaci and Manasa Puja.
Durga Puja: This is celebrated annually during Navratri, in the month of sep. oct.
Ambuwasi Puja : this is a fertility festival, it is beleived that mother goes under menstural period and the temple remain closed for 3 days and then opened with great festivity on fourth day.
Pohan Bia : A symbolic marriage between Lord Kamesvara and Kamesvari during the month of Pausa.
Durgadeul : During the month of Phalguna, Durgadeul is observed in the kamakhya temple.
Vasanti Puja : This puja is held at the Kamakhya temple durinh the month of Chaitra.
Madandeul : This deul is observed during the month of Caitra when Lord Kamadeva or Kamesvara is offered special pujas.
Manasa Puja : Manasa puja is observed from the Sankranti of Sravana and continues upto the second day of Bhadra.

Herbal plant – Marshmellow

This plant is edible, leaves are eaten as salad.
Roots are taken internally to treat :
  • inflammations and irritations of the urinary and respiratory mucus membrane
  • counter excess stomach acid
  • peptic ulceration
  • gastritis
Externally, the root is applied to treat :
  • bruises
  • sprains
  • aching muscles
  • insect bites
  • skin inflammations
  • splinters

Some tools for Blogging

Recently I have been trying to use few tools to make blogging easier. I use blogger service and sometimes I find that it gives less than desired space to pen(type) my thoughts. From my own experience, I also find that handling of images is not easy, especially if a post contains number of images. So from a blogger perspective, an ideal editor would be the one which allows formatting easy and provides ample space. This also becomes important if someone uses a laptop of small screen size, and I use a laptop whose screen is of ten inches.
I tried Flock, a new browser with some extensions, Microsoft’s live writer and Google Docs. Yes, Google docs provides us with a feature (little known) where a post can be published directly to a blogging service.
Flock: The features are good and it integrates a lot of other platforms such as Facebook, Flickr, webmail, Bebo. I think you name it you can find it integrated with the flock.
There is a drawback, though, again space, because of so many features and toolbars, the working area becomes less. And the image problem, of course. I cannot select an image from my computer. It seems that this editor can use an image which is available on Internet only, so this editor can accept www.xyz.com/imageA.jpg but cannot C:\My Documents\imageA.jpg. That’s not good as it only limits me to do text blogging and if I need to use an image, then probably I have to go to blogger and add the image there itself. In a nutshell, this browser has got good capabilities, but not suited to someone who is trying to use this only for blogging.
Microsoft Live Writer: I did download this and the installation is huge(160 megs). Somehow I couldn’t remove other products which have been available with the installer. So in effect, there is lot to download and install first before one can start using. I didn’t use it much so feel inadequately equipped to comment on this.

Google Docs: Probably I wouldn’t have tried above options if I have used Google Docs. This fits my criterion of space, image handling, formatting and publishing altogether. And I am using it for penning my posts, when I discovered that posts can be published from here easily. Also add the feature of offline drafting, yes you can instruct google to make your documents available offline, so even while travelling, you can write your posts and publish them at a later date. I am pretty much impressed with this and can recommend Google docs for blogging purposes. Though, there is a drawback, keywords cannot be attached to a post from Google Docs editor. This needs to be done at blogger, but I would use it anyway even if doesn’t allow me to enter keywords.

Please let me know your thoughts if you think this post is useful or you have any suggestion to improve.

Dome of Jwalamukhi temple

Jwalamukhi Temple – Sati Shakti Peeth

Jwalamukhi Temple – Sati Shakti Peeth

Jwalamukhi temple - Sati Shakti Peeth

Jwalamukhi temple – Sati Shakti Peeth

Jwalamukhi is one among the 52 shakti peeth in India. This is 30 kms from kangra and 56 kms from Dharamshala. There is no idol, the eternal and shinning blue flame emanating from a rock sanctum is worshipped as manifestation of goddess, which is burning without any fuel or assistance. During March-April and September-October every year colourful fairs are held during the time of navratri.

Legend of Jwalamukhi Temple

Sati was daughter of king Daksha she married Lord Shiva against the wish of her father. Once King Dakha was having a yagna and he didn’t invite Lord Shiva and Sati. When Sati went to her father’s palace, he insulted Lord Shiva and Sati. Unable to bear this disrespect for her husband she killed herself, when Shiva came to know this he was enraged, he began to wonder holding the dead body of Sati in his arms and he started the dance of distruction of universe. Lord Vishnu in order to save the universe and to break this attachment of Lord Shiva cut off Sati’s body into pieces with his sudarshan chakra. Sati’s body fell at different places these places are called shakti peeth.
Jwalamukhi temple is the place where Sati’s tongue fell. These flames are burning without any fuel or assistance from ages. Inside the temple, there is a 3 feet square pit with pathway all around. In the centre of which is a hollowed rock over a primary fissure of flame. This one is regarded as the mouth of Mahakali. Nine flames in total emanate from different points in the pit and represent Saraswati, Annapurna, Chandi, Hing Laj, Vindhya Vasini, Mahalakshmi, Mahakali, Ambika and Anjana-nine form of goddess.
This Indian Temple has some great historical significance, Mughal emperor Akbar was amazed at the continuity of flame so he tried to extinguish them. He ordered to construct water channel to douse the flame, but all in vain. Finally, he submitted to the power of the goddess, he went to the shrine bare footed and presented a golden umbrella to goddess. But when leaving , he looked back with immense pride at the valuable gift he made, but he was mortified to find that the gold turned into a colossal metal.
Dome of Jwalamukhi temple

Dome of Jwalamukhi temple

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Maharaja Ranjit Singh, gilded the roof of the temple as a thanks giving after his success in Afghan war. Later his son Khadak Singh presented a pair of silver plated folding doors to the temple.

 

Devi Maa at Jwalamukhi temple

Devi Maa at Jwalamukhi temple

There are 102 pujaris in the temple who perform rituals on daily rotation basis. The deity is- offered Bhog of Rabri or thickened milk, Misri or candy, seasonal fruits, milk and arti is done. There is a mystic Yantar or diagram of the goddess, which is covered with, shawls, ornaments and mantras are recited. The puja has different ‘phases’ and goes on practically the whole day. Arti is done five times in the day, Havan is performed once daily and portions of “Durga Saptashati” are recited.

French toast



Ingredients :
bread slices-2
eggs- 2
milk- 2 tbsp.
salt to taste
sugar a pinch (optional)
butter

Process :
– Break eggs into a wide, shallow bowl beat lightly with a fork. Add sugar, salt, and milk.
– Place the bread slices, one at a time, into the bowl or plate, letting slices soak up egg mixture for a few seconds, then carefully turn to coat the other side. Soak/coat only as many slices as you will be cooking at one time. Wheat Bread can also be used for this purpose.
– Over medium-low heat, heat griddle or skillet coated with a thin layer of butter
– Transfer bread slices to griddle or skillet, heating slowly until bottom is golden brown. Turn and brown the other side.
– Serve hot.


French wedding

French Wedding

A charming wedding custom of small French town, which is still in practice where the groom comes to her bride’s home early on the wedding day. Groom escorts her to the wedding chapel in a procession, headed by musician, followed behind by bride with her father, guests and groom with his mother at the end. In Brittany, children block the roads with ribbon that must be cut by the bride. The groom has to remove brains that have been placed across the road by those who demand and receive payment for these obstacles. All these obstacles are created for the wedding couple to overcome together and thus to signify their common path in new life.

A French wedding procession

The church is filled with incense and flowers, bride and groom are seated on two red velvet chair, underneath a silk canopy. At the end of ceremony a square of silk fabric is held over the head of the couple as priest blessing. The same silk is used to wrap their chill when they are baptized. Outside the church rice or wheat is showered over them as a symbol of prosperity.
At the reception the newlyweds toast each other from a engraved two handle cup, called la coupe de marriage. The traditional french wedding cake is called croquembouche which is a pyramid of creme-filled pastry puffs, drizzled with a caramel glaze.
French wedding cake : Croquembouche
Dancing is the popular past time in french time, the traditional dance is ‘rond‘ in which people join hand and dance in circle. After the reception, those invited for the wedding gather outside the newlyweds window and bangs pots and pans. They are then invited in the house for some more drink in the couple’s honour. This practice is called chiverie or charivari.
See other articles on  weddings.
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