I had the privilege to handcraft the jewellery and the accessories of goddess Sree Vasavi Kanyaka Parameshwari using Kundan stones, pearls and mirrors. The idol in the sanctum sanctorum has been adorned with the same on Friday, the 9th of February 2018.
10th February 2017, Friday
Today the goddess is wearing a quilled dress.
Paper Quilling has come a long way from the Renaissance period in Italy and France to the craft classes of school children across the globe.
The art which involves rolling strips of paper and pinching them to shape ranges from the simple to the complicated has been employed to adorn the goddess.
Radha Prathi narrates tales of beauty – of princesses and maids, describing how you too can have a regal glow by adhering to certain simple, yet effective natural skincare regimens
Classical tales invariably brim over with beautiful women with tailor-made features that have the ability to change the lives of the people around them. Helen of Troy and Cleopatra managed to change the course of history with their looks. But what is highly doubtful is if the beautiful women from fairy tales, mythology and history ever used beauty soaps and branded cosmetics to enhance the glow of their skins.
That does not mean that they did little or nothing towards the upkeep of their epidermis. They sourced their skin toners, scrubbers and beauty masks from nature. A bedtime story narrated in our family encapsulated a beauty regime. The tale talks of a beautiful princess in ancient Magadha and her even more beautiful maid. The curious princess was eager to learn the beauty secret of her maid’s enviable skin. Her pride would not allow her to ask the maid directly, so she employed a spy to find the maid’s beauty secret.
A couple of days later, the princess was informed that the maid did nothing in particular to enhance her appeal, but her actions were peculiar in some ways. For instance, she would never wash her hands immediately after handling oil, kneading dough, cutting fruits and vegetables or even after whipping eggs. Instead she would wipe her hands over her head, face, arms and legs before washing her hands eventually. By the time the maid finished all her chores, her face, arms and legs would be caked with the residue of her kitchen work. She would have a refreshing bath using the humble besan with a pinch of turmeric after a tiring session in the kitchen and would come glowing to the palace, to work as the handmaiden of the princess. The princess became clearly jealous when the maid looked exquisitely pretty when the breeze caressed her, the warm sun kissed her and the tingling drizzle drenched her occasionally.
That was not all. The princess also discovered that eating right can show on the skin. The maid consumed a humble meal and popped in the peels and sometimes pieces of fruits and vegetables as she cut them for the royal house. She never really got to eat the fried delicacies and sweets, because they were reserved for the royalty. She walked up and down the palace doing her chores happily and gulped down several glasses of water to replenish her energy.
Those of us who want to explore simple and effective ways to tone, cleanse and shine our skin the natural way, will do well to take a leaf from the beauty secrets of our grandmothers and their grandmothers, who generally changed up their skincare routine prior to their weddings. Their beauty regime began with a laxative made from ground neem leaves or a teaspoon of castor oil, which was repeated once every ten days till the D-day. Not only did this practice detoxify them, but also made them healthier, lighter, lustrous and lithe. Once every three or four days, they would oil their bodies from head to toe, before washing it off with shikakai or besan. If you are thinking this is reserved only for the royalty or soon-to-be-married folks, you are wrong. You too can follow these home remedies for clear, fresh and smooth skin. If beautiful skin is your aim, use these remedies at least once a week.
* A brisk scrub can exfoliate dead cells clogging the pores of the skin. A teaspoon of turmeric powder mixed with a teaspoon of coconut oil rubbed on your face, neck, arms and feet for an hour before your daily bath, can leave your skin clean and glowing. You will no longer feel the need to use a moisturiser off the shelf because the coarse mixture would have done the job. This is a proven therapy which can prevent skin from ageing rapidly and can correct dry skin problems in the long run.
* If you have oily skin, add a dash of lime and a pinch of turmeric to milk cream and apply the mixture on your face and leave it for ten minutes before rinsing it off. The cream will retain the essential oils and the lime juice will eject excess oil while the turmeric will leave your face glowing. Alternately, equal proportions of sandalwood paste and turmeric along with a little rose water or plain water can be mixed and applied on the face, neck, arms and feet and left on for an hour or so before rinsing it off, to manage oily skin.
* Many women avoid using turmeric because it leaves a residual colour. Remember, regular application of turmeric can prevent skin infections, heal small cuts and abrasions and its carcinogenic property can keep skin cancer at bay. Make sure you buy kasturi turmeric which is used for cosmetic purpose. The turmeric powder used for cooking is sometimes doctored so that it looks just the right shade of chrome. This setback can be overcome if we are a little proactive. Use a mild soap to wash off traces of yellow, preferably half an hour after rinsing it off.
An alternative remedy could be the application of beaten egg yolk with honey over the face. Leave it on for twenty minutes and rinse off with warm water. It is also highly effective on oily skin with enlarged pores. The pulp of over-ripe bananas can be used as a face pack to achieve the same results.
* If you happen to be dealing with acne, apply a teaspoon of lemon juice mixed with a spot of honey on the face and leave it for 20 minutes. Rinse off with warm water. Repeat the process once a week till you get rid of the spots. Don’t be surprised if you turn out a few shades lighter than what you were earlier.
A traditional oil bath followed by a massage at least once a fortnight can revive the skin and hair magically because it can relieve the mind of stress to a large extent. Make sure that all your meals consist of a generous helping of fruit and vegetable salads. Go slow on excessively oily food and bakery items. No matter what the weather, keep your body hydrated, by drinking plenty of water.
Make it a point to spend some time outdoors and allow your skin to get in touch with natural light and air. A bout of sweating can tease the dirt off your skin and help it breathe better. It can prove to be therapeutic both to your mind and body. If you follow this regime for three months at a stretch, you will be sought out for your “glow secret”!
It has been proved beyond doubt that timeless pieces of prose, poetry, stories, novels and drama can educate a person in more ways than one.
The discussion and analysis of situations and characters can sensitise a person to different outlooks of life and eventually lend a rounded personality to one’s character. It is no wonder that the prestigious IITs and IIMs have allotted several academic hours to introduce their students to relevant facets of literature.
Journalism, visual media, advertising, copywriting, technical writing, teaching and clearing civil service examinations have been the conventional end of these degrees. They continue to be so, but the sky is the limit if one takes up the course with right earnest.
Students who have chosen to dabble with the study of literature will do well to follow a strict regimen of reading variously and widely. Booklists suggested by the teaching faculty can prove to be launch pads which can reveal new paths as one travels through the world of books. It is true that we live in times when any information under the sun is available to us at the click of a button. It is also true that many of it may not be authenticated, catalogued or verified by authorities in the field.
It will be a safe bet to resort to hard copies when reading literature because it facilitates the thought process. Earmarking pages, underlining sentences, writing out meanings and references can prove to be a fruitful exercise.
Usually students are introduced to the history of English literature in the fledgling phase.
Reading at this stage should be steadily punctuated by study of the history and geography of the time. Learning about the wars, socio economic standards, religious beliefs, scientific progress and philosophical insights can make a piece of literature come alive. Understanding the flavour of an age can facilitate comparing and classifying the general thinking of the period. Later on, students will find it easy to answer multiple choice questions when taking up competitive examinations like NET, SLET, preliminary rounds of civil service examinations.
In the long run, it will also help them to understand the social psychology of specific societies across the globe, which can prove to be invaluable in an increasingly close knit world.
Once the history of the subject sinks in, students will be introduced to selected pieces of literature which will usually be followed by suggested reading. Most professors will make passing reference of them during their lectures, but a good student will benefit greatly if the suggested reading list is “really read”. It will lend greater depth to the perception of the theme and also give a glimpse of how creative thinking can revolve around a certain theme at different places and time periods.
Most prescribed textbooks give limited and selective biographical information of the authors, poets, dramatists, novelists et al. A lot of academic importance is placed on these given details. A student has to realise that there is more than that meets the eye.
The person may be very different from the persona. Hence it will be in the best interests of the literary works not to judge them at the elementary stage of reading. One would do well to read all the possible works of the given writer and then read about the person. This measure will help students to draw a holistic and mature opinion of the litterateur instead of being led by the nose.
Prolific reading will certainly help the mind to blossom. Reams of reading will automatically improve vocabulary, syntax and spellings. However a student is expected to have writing skills. Taking down lecture notes, noting down impressions and looking up the dictionary from time to time can help a lot. Yet if a student makes a conscious effort to write out summaries, elucidations and essays without availing any help it will not only hone writing skills but will promote clear thinking and trigger latent creativity over a period of time. Discussion of themes, concepts and ideas in right earnest with learned professors and fellow students can raise the level of confidence to recognize influences, adaptations and improvisations of classical literature.
Once a firm foundation is laid, the scholar will be able to handle all the material on the website with discernment.
A passionate student of literature who develops a voracious appetite for reading will find that he or she has actually signed up for a lifelong rendezvous with the subject. Unlike study of other subjects which promise expertise in the field if approached in the right way, zealous students of literature will reap additional benefits for they will turn out to be sensible and sensitive individuals who can make a difference to the world they live in!
Radha Prathi explains how feng shui works well for a happier and healthier home
When one thumbs most magazines or surfs channels on the television, it is impossible to overlook the presence of the theory of feng shui in one way or another. It has achieved the status of a religion these days, in the realms of housekeeping across the globe.
Well, to those who are novices to the art of feng shui, it is a Chinese way of living, and when translated, it literally means wind and water. Practitioners of this art (which is based on logic aesthetics and science), have explored several facets of this way of living. They have come up with theories, artefacts and symbols, which when adapted by the common man, can do wonders to his standard of living, by ushering in peace and prosperity that was hitherto unknown. Like any religion or way of living, feng shui also has a set of do’s and dont’s which, when followed, can bring about remarkable changes in one’s life. It is important to remember that the principles are merely pointers to a way of living, which suggest that one should live in harmony with nature.
Do away with clutter
Feng shui believes that a cluttered home ushers in bad or negative energy, which can prove to be detrimental to the residents of a home or office. Chi — the positive energy force — will dither at the thought of entering a home that is not clean. The panacea to this problem lies in cleaning up one’s home and dispensing with goods and objects that one no longer needs to use. Wind & water
Feng shui insists that an ideal home, full of positive energy, should thrive on a generous amount of wind and water (read as ventilation, light and sanitation). Good circulation of air and an adequate amount of sunlight seeping in through our homes, can keep quite a few diseases at bay and also help us cut down on electricity charges to a large extent. Feng shui insists that a premium should be put on using water efficiently and optimally, because wastage of water resources symbolically suggests wastage of money.
If one sincerely follows the system, it will not merely rake in material benefits, but will also improve the aesthetics and positive vibrations of your home, all the while keeping in tune with nature which is the need of the hour!
Not very long ago, I found that I could not open my mouth — literally!
My oral cavity had gone on a strike without any prior notice. My jaws seemed to be stapled at the back and laid resolute rules that made me squirm with pain when I teased it beyond the restricted level. Eating and speaking with painful constraints made me develop chubby cheeks, making me seek medical help.
My doctor peeked and peered into the crevice, pinched and prodded my cheeks, let her gloved finger freely run riot through my mouth, and had one long look at me and said that it must be trismus.
I must confess that her revelation bothered me. I was not so concerned about the nature of my ailment as much as I was bothered about the meaning of that word. My pride took a beating. I thought that I commanded a decently large vocabulary. The interval between the time she went to wash her hands and then materialise in front of me had me guessing about the meaning of that mysterious word.
A millennium that flit past me during the break had me ruminating on several thoughts. I mentally commended the makers of crossword puzzles who dutifully gave the meanings of words as clues. Here I was with the answer, with no clue about the clue.
Once it was clear that I had to wait for my medico to enlighten me, I started jogging my grey cells for words which rhymed with trismus. To my utter chagrin, I found that I could not progress beyond Christmas. Even if I had to compose only a limerick using the rhyming words, it would turn out be an oxymoron. For, the limitation of trismus would be an obstacle to gorge on Xmas goodies.
In the meanwhile, the doc came along and told me that trismus was a condition in which a person cannot open the mouth freely, and reasons could be varied. Simple or sinister, only time could tell! Then the saga of investigations began, giving me nightmares till my wisdom teeth were identified as the culprits. I spent the formidable period with grit and determination simply because my wisdom (teeth) prompted me to grit my teeth.
My jaws were clenched for several weeks even after the prescribed extraction, as they were still drenched with wisdom. Once the wisdom evaporated completely, my trismus resolved!
It is no wonder that I am none the wiser on taking the literary prospects of trismus any further.
The pooja room has become a mandatory feature in most Hindu homes. Radha Prathi writes on the things to keep in mind while making provision for God’s room.
Though all of us are aware that the entire universe is created by god, man derives great satisfaction in allotting a little space for God in his home besides the public shrines attributed to Him. Hence the Pooja room or God’s room has become a mandatory feature even in the humblest of Hindu homes across the globe. Yet even the most palatial of homes reserves a relatively smaller space for this purpose, arguably so, as nobody with the exception of God, occupies the place 24X7.
There is nothing such as an ideal size for the Pooja room. As mentioned earlier, it varies from home to home and is proportionately smaller than the usual room.
Ways of construction
Usually the Pooja room is constructed so that the entrance faces the eastern or the western direction, for exuding optimum positive energy. No matter how large or small the area, if you follow certain ground rules, you can furnish the spot in a traditional and handy manner so that you do not waste your precious time, dealing with irritable details when you are all set to worship your lord.
First of all, you must decide if you want the Pooja room to complement the rest of the rooms in your home or whether you want it to be contrastingly different in terms of the walls and the flooring. You could opt for glazed tiles, marble finish or granite finish for the walls and the flooring. A little homework on the option will reveal to you a plethora of choices in the market with regard to colour, quality and design. You could choose motifs of several gods, fruit, flower and traditional rangoli tiles for the walls.
Instead of going for a set pattern suggested in the brochure or by your dealer, you could chip in your creativity and work on a mix and match of all the motifs interspersed with a pleasant shade of plain tiles to enhance the grace of the room. A unique double sided border along the walls should be able to highlight the designs inlaid.
It will make sense to get the electrician do the wiring before laying tiles. Besides regular lighting, make switch board provisions for electrifying lamps, using the serial bulbs on special occasions, the music system, et al.
Tips on flooring
The flooring of the Pooja room should not have a very glassy finish for it will give room to accidents when the floor is wet. It will be sensible to choose a shade of dark green or brick red for the floor so that the rangoli can show. You could fix readymade rangoli patterns along the border and the centre. However, leave some space in the frontal region for drawing your own Rangoli or pasting a sticker Rangoli.
The door of the Pooja room can be made ornate and extra special with a carved wooden door with bells attached, provided you are willing to spend sometime to clean them regularly. Just in case, you are the sort who is pressed for time, go for a plain polished door with a foot long grilled opening at around five feet from the ground. Many people opt for windowless niches for their God’s corner. However, it will be ideal to have a door with the necessary perforations that will serve to circulate and freshen the air.
Fix a fairly large cupboard in the Pooja room to hold all the items necessary for the Pooja, both big and small, so that it saves you the time searching for them when they are needed. You could fix a towel rod along one of the walls or the door, to hold the cloth material required in the room. The ones who do not have a traditional mantap, can build a small dais in a semi-circular shape to hold the deities. If you have one too many of them, you could even build the dais in two broad steps.
Get a good carpenter to drill holes and drive nails along the walls to put up the pictures and hold the thoran in place.
Sometimes when there is constraint for space, a large shelf, cupboard or even an almirah can double as the Pooja room in some houses. Occasionally a corner of the kitchen or the living room is also demarcated for the Almighty.
You could incorporate features like the nails for the thoran, space for a tile, sticker or traditional rangoli and storage space for the Pooja items. If the Pooja area is not near a switch board, a junction box with a multi – pinned plug point could serve the purpose just the same.
Even as recently as last year, colleges took students with a high score in the board exams into the science stream and relegated those scoring low to the commerce and arts streams respectively. Parents and students accepted this, but tried very hard to get into the sciences to prove their worth.
Students, especially in the urban areas, flinched at the idea of taking up arts as they fear that they may not be respected in their peer groups. They cannot be blamed for their conviction, because a stigma has been attached to arts subject.
If a brilliant student chose to study arts in the past he invariably aimed at taking up the civil service examinations. For the others, obtaining an honours in BA was a pride. A few others pursued this just to earn a degree. A study in India has revealed that as much as eight girls for each two boys pursue arts. Most of them showed inclination to be teachers or, quite simply, were happy for having obtained a degree. Even those pursuing graduation through distance education preferred arts, as it’s easier for self studies and gave them the option of writing exams in their vernaculars.
Professor Mylarappa, director of distance education in Bangalore University, revealed around 80 percent of those pursuing under graduation and post graduation through distance education chose arts to merely earn a degree. The attitude among the regular students of the undergraduate courses in the arts stream isn’t any different.
When asked for their oppinion, several lecturers and heads of institutions weren’t ecstatic. Jayaram Rao, a sociology lecturer in a women’s college in Rural Bangalore, confided that he secretly wished for a break from teaching students with a lack of interest for the subject. Even some of the well-known colleges for the arts stream like Christ College, Jyothi Nivas, Mount Carmel, St Joseph’s, Seshadripuram and MES colleges revealed, barring a handful of sincere students, the rest of them took arts for a lark.
Students who pursued literature in several languages, journalism and psychology were considered to be more astute than those who chose the customary combinations like political science, sociology, History etc.
Thankfully, the urbanites with international exposure have brought a change in the attitude towards arts subjects in recent times.
But, this’s a smaller number. Most others still pursue arts because it’s cheap, easily available and, as they mentioned, one need not worry about the dreadful subject called ‘Mathematics’.
Many like Kruthika, who have scored above 85 per cent in science stream in their PUC and have acquired a rank, have decided to take up arts. They also hope part-time jobs would fetch them much needed pocket money.
Indu disclosed that she had always loved her social sciences better, but had taken up the PCMB combination to please her peers. She has now decided to explore her favorite subject history and perhaps move on to Indology.
Arts may throw up several attractive career options today, but it doesn’t mean they weren’t available in the past. A glance at the subject combinations offered by PU and other universities reveal there hasn’t been a dearth for options from the early days. It’s only that the colleges affiliated to them were reluctant to offer anything other than the usual combinations.
However of late this trend is undergoing a gradual change as more and more enterprising and gifted students are aiming at becoming Art Historians, Archaeologists, Theologians, Anthropologists, Curators, and Copy Writers. The colleges in the state are recognizing the need to cater to them as a record number of application forms have been filled out for these courses.