Palm Leaf Paper


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Long long ago in India, when children of your age went to schools known as the Guru Kula they had lots to study just like you but they certainly did not have to write as much as you do! They committed whatever they learned to memory and sometimes noted down some very important definitions or formulas on palm leaves for later reference. You see they did not have note books then as you have them these days! If you are wondering whether they were lucky, unfortunately they are not around here to answer your question but they were certainly an eco-friendly lot as they were not using reams of paper made from trees!!! In such a case you could always argue that the palm leaves they used were also sourced from trees! Very true, indeed! In those days there was really no dearth of palm fronds, besides the rudiments of language like grammar and core subjects like science and mathematics were reduced to verses running into two or four lines. These couplets and quartets captured the essence of the subject in as few words as possible. The student had to understand these formulas which were popularly known as “Sutras” and he needed to memorise them to help him remember of all the aspects of the theory at a later date.

They were tested on the subject from time to time orally just like you are tested, but then all of you also take up a written test to show that you have writing skills too ! Perhaps they were spared of the exercise because processing palm fronds into writing material was a long drawn process.

Centuries before paper was invented our ancestors hit upon the idea of using hardy dried leaves as paper.  They were known as “Patra” which means both letter and leaf in most Indian languages used till date. Students processed palm leaves not only for their use, but also for their teachers and scribes who were engaged in making copies of important manuscripts.

Processing palm leaves was no mean task, but it was certainly fun –filled too! Palm fronds cut freshly from the tree were allowed dry partially for a couple of days in  sunlight and then they were then buried in swamps for a week so that they become sturdy and later on the leaves were washed and dried completely in the shade.

Then they were cut along the borders so that they formed rectangular pages which measured eight to twelve inches in breadth and about an inch or two in height. Some times when longer sheets of palm paper were required they were sewn together using plant fiber.

Once the palm paper was ready for use a fine tipped iron stylus (pencil) was used to etch the words or diagrams on the leaf so that it made a depression without actually damaging the leaf. Then powdered vegetable dyes usually green or charcoal powder made from burnt coconut shells were mixed with sesame oil and rubbed over the leaves in such a way that the colours settle down in the depressions. Then the palm leaves were coated with turmeric powder mixed with sesame oil to add sheen and strength to the leaves. Then they were bundled together and wrapped in silk or cotton cloth for safe keeping. Our ancient texts like the Vedas, Puranas, the epics, scripts of plays and treatises have been passed on to us on palm paper.

Possibly this is the reason why we are able to see manuscripts preserved in this manner for over a millennium in a fairly good condition in spite of the gross neglect they are subjected to.

Over a period of time when paper was invented and mechanization made it possible for it to be easily available paper made from palm leaves made an exit. Today these processed leaves are used as canvass on which creative artists showcase their talent.

If you happen to be traveling in Orissa make sure you visit a small village called Raghuraipur in the district of Puri. There are several craftsmen and artists who make a living there by etching wonderful designs on processed palm leaves. Even little children in the village know how to make the longer lasting palm paper. Now that you have an insight into the method, why don’t you try making your own name plate on processed palm leaf?

Traversing with Technology


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Published in the school edition of Deccan Herald

By S. RADHA PRATHI

Mankind is zooming forth on the technological path paving new possibilities and discovering unseen horizons. So how can the field of education be left behind?

The digital era has dawned in the classrooms of urban India in a very subtle way. The black board has been displaced by an interactive monitor. The daily attendance is marked on an electronic pad; information about the absentees is communicated in real time to the parents and guardians. Circulars regarding timetables, holidays etc curriculum updates, mark sheets, fee receipts and even homework or project instructions are sent via Whatsapp messages. Teachers use power point presentations and show relevant videos found on You Tube to elucidate a point. Students are also encouraged to surf the internet and research on topics suggested by teachers and make power point presentations. Studying the theoretical and practical aspects about the world of computers has become a mandatory feature of Indian academics right from the Primary school.

Ever since the ministry of education has made it imperative to fix cameras in all the feasible areas of the schools with the exception of the toilets, it has become easier to monitor any kind of defaulting behaviour or heinous activity.

High end schools and colleges have already introduced customised notepads in which text books, summaries, notes, worksheets, sample question papers and reference material have been uploaded. Unit Tests and surprise tests are conducted in the multiple choice question pattern and results are declared immediately to apprise students of their performance levels. Digital libraries and prolific use of Kindle in educational institutions have emerged like silver linings in a time when we are desperately trying to conserve trees. Some schools even record class room teaching hours and relay them in real time or leave them as library records so that absentees and other students can have access to them as and when necessary. School and college day functions, farewell parties, ethnic and sports day celebrations are being recorded and saved on clouds for posterity. More recently a news buzz about several rural schools in India going digital is a clear indicator that we are stabilizing on the digital track.

A bird’s view of the digital scene can fill one with a sense of fulfillment.  We have reached a state where we can rub shoulders with the developed countries of the world. A lot of clerical work has been circumvented. Records are being maintained and are easy to reckon with as and when necessary. Teachers do not have to do repetitive work. They can save diagrams, charts, graphs, maps and such other teaching aids as soft copies and use them several times over and conserve their effort and time. Students and teachers find it convenient to compare past performances with the current scores. Interaction among the three arms of the golden triangle namely the student, teacher and student has become smoother and transparent.

No less than a hundred schools in India have introduced subjects like animation, robotics, gaming and three dimensional recording in their syllabus.

We have reached a point where the members of the arms of the golden triangle are under the impression that equipping oneself in the latest technology can be a protective shield for a sparkling career and a tinkling bank account.

For all eyes to see, it would appear that we are on velvet and the only way from this is forward.New aspects of learning are always welcome. All the same one has to take the age, aptitude and the requirement of the same to be imbibed in young minds at an impressionable age. Besides one must remember that learning is an art and it can be best inculcated orally, visually and by writing or working it out. Perhaps further studies or revision can happen digitally.

If we chose to overlook this dimension of education, it is quite possible that we might end up raising future generations of students who will shirk any work which cannot be done without technology. The path of progress cannot and need not be reversed but we must traverse it mindfully!

Munch on the Jack of all Seeds


https://www.deccanherald.com/living/munch-jack-all-seeds-687268.html

Jackfruit seeds are potent with proteins and micro nutrients and can be an antidote to a host of conditions like anemia, skin problems, varicose veins and poor eyesight when ingested on a regular basis. One of the easiest ways to consume them would be to roast or boil them like peanuts and eat them as a snack.  Or you could add them to your Sambhar like other vegetables. The more elaborate way would be to turn them into some delectable dishes.

NOTE: When using jackfruit seeds for cooking ensure that you wash the seeds and dry them in the shade for a couple of days. The outer skin will start flaking making it easier to peel them and also to get rid of the fruity smell that has gone bad. Soak the peeled seeds in hot ater for ten to fifteen minutes before cooking it.

 

Jackfruit Seeds Baath

Ingredients

Jackfruit seeds 20

Washed and cut methi 2 cups,

Grated coconut 1 cup,

Tomato puree 1 cup

Soaked moong dhal 1 cup

Coriander seeds 3 teaspoons

Cumin seeds 2 teaspoons

Channa dhal 2 teaspoons

Lime juice 2 tablespoons

Turmeric powder 1 teaspoon

Red Chilli 6

Mustard 1 teaspoon

Hing 1/2 teaspoon

Cooking oil 2 teaspoons

Fresh coriander 2 sprays

Curry leaves

Salt 2 teaspoons

Method

  • Pressure cook the jackfruit seeds using very little water allow them to cool, skin them and dice them.
  • Roast the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, channa dhal and red chillies using very little oil and grind them into a fine powder.
  • Heat two tablespoons of oil in a pan and add the mustard and hing till they spatter.
  • Add the washed and cut coriander spray, curry leaves to the seasoning.
  • Add some more oil and then add the cooked and diced seeds, cut methi leaves, grated coconut, tomato puree, soaked moong dhal, turmeric and salt to the pan and cook well.
  • Remove the pan from the fire and add the lime juice to the same.
  • You can mix this mixture with pre-cooked rice. You could add a dollop of ghee to improve the flavour.
  • Jackfruit seeds baath can be served with pacchadi and pappad.

 

 

 Jackfruit seeds Podimas

Ingredients

Raw Jackfruit seeds 12

Turmeric powder 1 teaspoon

Salt 2 Teaspoons

Hing– ½ teaspoon

Red chillies  4

Curry Leaves 1 Spray

Channa Dal 1 teaspoon

Toor Dal 1teaspoon

Urad dal 1 Teaspoon

Cooking Oil 1 Tablespoon

 

Method

 

  • Pressure cook the Jackfruit seeds with minimal water, wait for it to cool and peel off the skin.
  • Heat the oil and roast the Hing channa dal, urad dal , toor dal and red chilies.
  • Grind the roasted ingredients very coarsely, toss in the cooked Jackfruit seeds and the rest of the ingredients and run it for a minute in the food processor.
  • Remove the contents and help it to disintegrate with a blunt ladle.
  • Serve Podimas with hot rice and a raitha of your choice.

 

Jackfruit seeds Curry

Ingredients

Raw Jackfruit seeds 12

Grated Coconut 1 cup

Tamarind extract 1 table spoon

Turmeric powder 1 teaspoon

Salt 2 Teaspoons

Hing– ½ teaspoon

Red chillies 4

Garlic 4 (optional)

Curry Leaves 1 Spray

Channa Dal 1 teaspoon

Urad dal 1 Teaspoon

Coriander seeds 1 tablespoon

Cumin seeds 1 teaspoon

Mustard 1 teaspoon

Cooking Oil 2 Tablespoons

Method

  • Skin the Jackfruit seeds pressure cook using very little water and slice them.
  • Marinate the cooked Jackfruit seeds in tamarind extract mixed with salt, turmeric powder and Hing for ten minutes.
  • Fry the channa dal, urad dal, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, red chillies, garlic and curry leaves with very little oil and grind the

ingredients finely.

  • Take a heavy weight pan, add a tablespoon of oil and heat the same and spatter the mustard in it.
  • Add the marinated Jackfruit seeds to the pan and sauté it for a while.
  • Add the ground ingredients and sauté the same with the rest of the oil.

 

  • When the curry appears golden brown, add the grated coconut and mix it well before turning off the fire.
  • This curry can be served as a side dish with rice or roti.

 

Jackfruit Seeds Gravy

Ingredients

Jackfruit seeds 12

Washed and cut green chillies 100 grams

Peeled and cut ginger 100 grams

Tamarind 50 grams

Channa dal 50 grams

Sesame seeds 25  grams

Methi seeds 25  grams

Black pepper 1 teaspoon

Mustard 1 teaspoon

Hing 1 teaspoon

Turmeric powder ½ teaspoon

Cooking oil 3 tablespoons

 

Salt 2 teaspoons

 

Method

  • Pressure cook the jackfruit seeds using very little water allow them to cool, skin them and dice them.
  • Soak the tamarind in warm water for an hour and extract a thick juice.
  • Roast the sesame seeds and the methi seeds separately till they become golden brown without adding any oil. Then grind them into a fine powder.
  • Heat oil in a large pan and add the mustard, channa dal, turmeric powder and Hing.
  • Add the cut chillies and ginger in the pan and fry them for a minute or so on slow fire.
  • Add some more oil and sauté the cooked and diced seeds
  • Pour the tamarind extract into the contents of the pan and add salt.
  • Allow the mixture to simmer and then pour the sesame powder and the methi powder into the gravy.
  • Attend to the ingredients in the pan from time to time, to prevent it from burning at the bottom.
  • Once the ingredients are cooked well, allow the gravy to cool and store it in an air-tight container.
  • This gravy can be served as a side dish like any other pickle.

 

 

 

 

MATURITY AND PATIENCE


Published on 18th June 2018 in the Oasis Column of Deccan Herald

A lot of parents, teachers and team leaders find that they are inadequate when it comes to sorting out rivalry amongst their children, students and teammates respectively. Damages caused by the lack of grace and niceties can actually rankle the mind, leaving long term hurt or irreversible scars. Hence it is of paramount importance for people to exercise infinite patience and profound maturity to handle such situations to the healing point.

A story from the Bhagavatham can be used as a reference point to resolve similar problems in the present age. King Uttanapada had two wives called Suneethi and Suruchi, who had a son each who were called Dhruva and Uttama respectively. The king’s favouritism encouraged Suruchi to cherish the fond hope that her son Uttama would ascend the throne one day despite the presence of the crown prince Dhruva.  This confidence also braced up Suruchi to look down upon the legitimate queen mother. One day, the five year old Dhruva saw his little half brother Uttama seated on the lap of their father Uttanapada. The child in him craved to climb on to his father’s lap. Even as he tried to do so, he was reprimanded sharply by his step mother. Suruchi snapped at him saying, “Only God can bestow you with what you want to do.” The confused lad ran to his mother to seek comfort. Suneethi knew that she was powerless to direct the king to do her bidding as he was besotted with Suruchi. At the same time she was mature. She did not want to influence the young mind negatively by telling him about the lopsided equations in her marital relationship. Since Dhruva was persistent, Suneethi worked around the words of Suruchi to advantage. She told Dhruva that there was no greater power than God in the universe. If the supreme power was appealed to with sincere devotion, everything would become possible. Dhruva was consoled and convinced. He went out to seek God. He was initiated by the celestial sage Narada and performed a severe penance. In fact, he not only gained his father’s affections and the kingdom but also went on to become one of the greatest Bhagavathas ever. Suneethi managed to steer her son out of a life of discontent, disappointment and directing him towards eternal glory!

The Annual Vocabulary Workshop


The annual vocabulary workshop in English will be conducted by me this year also, please pass on the information to your local contacts

 

Contents:

Sixty games aimed at improving spellings, grammar, pronunciation and vocabulary will be played out by children of specific age brackets.

Score sheets will be maintained and the highest scorer of each day

will be rewarded.

Who is eligible?

JUNIOR Batch : Children between the age group of eight to ten.

SENIOR Batch : Children between the age group of eleven to thirteen.

When?

JUNIOR BATCH: From Monday 2nd April 2018

 to Wednesday 11th April 2018

SENIOR BATCH: From Monday 16th April 2018

 to Wednesday 25th April 2018

SENIOR  BATCH : From Monday 30th April 2018

 to Wednesday 9th May 2018

 Timings: 

10 am to 12 noon(on everyday including weekends)

Where?

65, ITI layout , Off new BEL road, Bangalore-560054

 How to contact ?

 Phone 080- 23603636

e-mail- radhaprathi@yahoo.co.in

When to Register?

As soon as you think you are interested in the camp. 

Naama Ramayanam sessions which are a combination of singing and storytelling will be conducted from Monday 2nd April 2018 to Monday 30th April 2018 between 4.30PM to 5.30PM everyday with the exception of weekends.

Venue: As given above

Contact details : As given above

 

 

 

Determination vs. Obstinacy


Many a time people want to achieve their goal by hook or crook. Their very attitude is proof of the fact that they are not in a position to distinguish between determination and obstinacy.

When a person refuses to weigh the pros and cons of a situation and pursues his ambition blindly, he is not only likely to harm the people around him but will wreak havoc on himself both physically and mentally.

An episode from the Mahabharata unfolds the unfortunate repercussions of tenacity. Ashwaththama, the best friend of Duryodhana had promised his dying friend that he would ensure the annihilation of the Pandava family at all costs. He manipulated the death of the Pandavas and ended up killing the five sons of Draupadi. In hindsight, he realised that his mission would be completed if he managed to abort the foetus if princess Uttara who was carrying the posthumous child of Abhimanyu. That way he could effectively put a full stop on the continuance of the Pandava clan. Accordingly, he went to the princess and aimed a potent blade of Darbha grass at her womb. The petrified Uttara ran away in panic. When Ashwaththama chased the pregnant princess, he was intercepted by none other than Lord Krishna.

Krishna understood that the son of Drona was not in a position to distinguish the right from wrong, and there was simply no way he would tarry to listen to the Yadava king. It was then Krishna looked at the gem signifying human intelligence studded on the forehead of the Brahmin. He hastened to pluck it out and prevented the perpetration of foeticide. The mindless Ashwaththama could not focus on his evil undertaking. Thus, Krishna rescued the unborn baby. He ensured that the last scion of the Pandava family – Parikshit- the one who was tested arrived safely on planet earth.

When one examines Ashwaththama’s behaviour, it is not difficult to see that he was being faithful to his friend and true to his promise although his bosom pal was dead. All the same, it is apparent that he lost sight of human propriety in his zeal to redeem his promise. Had he realised that the means is as important as the end he could have spared himself of the ignominy?