Fenugreek or methi, as we know it, possibly originated in the Mediterranean region. It is interesting to note that the ubiquitous seeds in most Indian cuisine were actually used for embalming by the Egyptians, while the Greeks and Romans used it for cattle fodder.
The tiny bitter seeds can add a rich aroma, colour and flavour when used in various recipes. However, it is best not to use the seeds as they are. Roast them over a slow fire before adding them to any dish. If you want to use it in the powdered form, follow the same procedure. If you want to grind the seeds into the dish, soak it overnight, preferably with a pinch of salt to get a smooth paste. If you want to use methi seeds for seasoning, add them to the oil when it is at maximum heat and take it off immediately. When you grind batter for dosa, make sure that you soak a teaspoon of methi seeds along with urad dal.
For those of you who are hard pressed for time, here are a few tips to keep your methi masala ready:
Roast methi, jeera and dhaniya seeds in one is to two is to four ratio and powder the spices with a half a teaspoon of turmeric powder. Toss a teaspoonful of the spice mix in your curries or rice preparations just before you turn off the flame and mix it well. This will lend a tasty and healthy twist to your cooking.
If you have lots of curry leaves at home, wash and dry them. Add a teaspoon of roasted methi seeds to the dried leaves, powder them and use this to season your sambhar or chutneys.
Every festival is celebrated with grandeur in our country. So isDhanur maasa which falls between December and January. The south celebrates this season both spiritually and musically.
One cannot miss the mellifluous music that rise from our temples early in the mornings.
Sabhas and music halls compete with each other to provide a stage for both the established and upcoming artists alike. Similarly, one can not miss the art of rangoli/ kholam designs either, which are drawn in front of homes at the crack of dawn.
These days one sees them drawn out even in apartment complexes and gated communities. Some commission rangoli artists in their social circles to draw different rangolis for each day of the month.
If you are wondering what is special about Dhanur Maasarangolis, VR Bhat the Archaka at the Ganesh temple on New BEL Road explains, “Ideally a rangoli should be drawn in front of homes every day, except when the household is mourning. Creative and colourful rangolis can earmark special days in the family and festivals. Patterns based on dots, instil a sense of harmony and connectivity.”
Dr Shatavadhani R Ganesh explains the origin of rangoli, “What we call rangoli today, has its origins in the Sanskrit word Rangavalli. It means creeper-like lines on a stage. They have been a part of Indian art and culture ever since Vedic times and have been used as embellishments and as an expression of aesthetics and faith.”
On the origins of this art, he says, “The lines are blurred between the classical and folk form of the art, leaving us guessing. The geometric Mandalas of Vedic times paved the way for some of the Rangoli patterns drawn to this day.”
The constellations with their relationship to the cosmos, the power of the forces of nature have been symbolically, geometrically and graphically represented as a rangoli, which are also called Yantras.
Sheela Sankaran, a student of Indian Art and Aesthetics, Mumbai University notes, “The Margazhi month in the solar calendar has been earmarked for the art because south India is at latitude of 32 degrees from the Equator. Since this solstice brings the earth closest to the sun, our ancestors decided to highlight the season by infusing music and art in the Rangoli form to celebrate the season.”
It is heartening to see that a few homes in our city still draw out these intricate designs in front of their homes.
Syamala Subramaniam, a 77-year-old home maker reveals she has “not missed drawing a kolam outside my home since I was seven. I enjoyed making huge designs as I had time and space. Ever since I shifted to Bengaluru, my rangolis have become smaller.”
Denizens of Namma Bengaluru are treated to dollops of street art every now and then. More recently, the painting of a swimming pool in and around a large pothole captured a lot of attention. The painting seemed to come alive when somebody captured a realistic snapshot of a random pedestrian trying to step in gingerly into the painted waters holding the bars of the ladder and uploaded it onto social media.
The picture sent me on a nostalgic trip down the busy streets of our city a couple of decades ago. Just about every Saturday, a couple of kids would appear at around 4 pm with brooms and fine brushes. They would clean up a patch of the ground measuring the size of a small carpet. An hour later, their master would come and quickly draw the border lines without using any instrument. Charcoal powder or white rangoli powder would be evenly spread on the floor. Then the master would draw another border around it.
Within a matter of an hour, he would be going round and round drawing the outline. Gods and goddesses from the Hindu pantheon would emerge magically as he deftly coloured and gilded their ornaments. Once done, he would rest on the platform with his young companions, waiting for the footfalls to linger there. The public would offer prayers and place a coin carefully along the demarked borders before proceeding.
For kids like us, it happened to be the staple weekend all-round exposure to the arts, culture and resourcefulness. No one, except an occasional gust of wind or a spell of rains, would disturb the work of art till it earned bread for its creators until the next weekend.
Radish, red or white, is definitely not an all-time favourite veggie of most people. Yet the pungent root cannot be wished away, for it is a repository of nutritional and therapeutic values. The anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties of the vegetable can go a long way in boosting immunity. The presence of vitamin C, potassium, sodium and traces of other minerals besides vitamins and fibre has elevated its medicinal value.
Radish can bestow a world of good when eaten raw in the form of a salad. If it is cooked, ensure that it is cooked with minimum water, and take care not to drain the water in which it is cooked, so that the goodness is not wasted away. Here are some benefits:
Radish is very good for the liver and stomach. Those of you who are recuperating from jaundice will find yourself healing faster if you have a helping of radish every day.
Radish is a rich source of roughage, which is indigestible carbohydrate. This facilitates digestion, helps in retaining water and curing constipation, thus providing relief in piles. When consumed as juice on an empty stomach for two months, it can detoxify the digestive system entirely and cure piles.
Radish is a diuretic, and thus helps in increasing urine production. The juice of radish helps in treating inflammation and the burning feeling during urination. Hence, it is very helpful in treating urinary disorders.
Radish is a very good source of dietary fibre. When eaten as a salad regularly, it can aid in natural weight-loss.
Since the root is a rich source of vitamin C and lycopenes, it helps to contain many kinds of cancers, particularly those related to the intestines, stomach, colon and prostate.
Dab pure radish juice with a ball of cotton over the uneven skin tones of your body. And wash off after an hour or so. This will lighten your skin and make it glow.
Come rainy season, and urban India is on tenterhooks, when it comes to their houses.
The reasons for these are many, ranging from poor construction to lack of a good rainwater draining system. Sometimes, a good many number of building parts, or even entire buildings have little or no exposure to sunlight. Correcting these anomalies is beyond the realms of practicality. Such being the case, it will be only wise to take the next best recourse.
Architects, builders, consumers and the waterproofing industry have identified the problems associated with moisture in buildings and have come up with solutions that can keep the building dry for the most part of the year. When the rainy season sets in, they have come up with techniques that will get the water off the building fast, so that pooling and leaking of water into the structure can be contained. Adding slopes in the roofing area wherever possible and rainwater harvesting project incorporated into buildings can stem this problem to a large extent.
It has been identified that water has a tendency to seep into the adjoining walls that are at different levels. Extra care during construction and plastering of these areas can control the damage caused due to dampness. Sometimes, water seepage can happen when there is error in the installation of the plumbing system. Then there are those instances when there can be inadequate surface preparation, improper use of primers, failure to take into account the thermal and wind movements of the structure etc which can undermine the strength of the construction over a period of time.
No matter what the problem, there are mostly ready-to-use products available that can repair possible damages to the buildings. If you are constructing a new facility, you can use them in the first instance, but if you are trying to protect an old home, you might have to walk that extra mile. Nevertheless, you can be sure that it is worth the effort.
Open areas like balconies, porches and terrace slabs, which tend to be exposed to rainwater directly and for a longer time, will do well to mix admixes which will plasticise the walls and plug in the pores so that they do not retain water and absorb it later. As always, the market offers a range of these admixes with various grades of plasticising agents both in the paste and powder form. People looking at longevity of their constructions even have the options to fill hollow cement bricks with this mixture to make it waterproof from within.
Roof & terrace
It is universal knowledge that the roof and the terrace of any building are always exposed to the natural elements. This, coupled with bad upkeep can make the area develop cracks. Hence, waterproofing the terrace can protect it. You really do not need professionals to do this job, for the method is very simple. Sweep the terrace clean, wash it with clear water. Leak-guard pastes available off the shelf can be used to plug in cracks, dents and chipped area of the terrace.
Similarly, waterproof powder and chemical can also be bought in any hardware shop. Mix the powder as instructed in a bucket of clear water and apply the liquid to the surface with a wide paint brush. Apply a second coat after three hours and be rest assured that your terrace is safe for the next three to four years. As of now, there are no permanent waterproofing techniques for the roof; hence the need to repeat the exercise time and again.
Basement areas tend to become swimming pools during monsoons. The slope and the rainwater drains don’t help much, unless planned and executed well. You can prevent your basement from becoming redundant if you use appropriate waterproofing. While new basements can use structural procedure, old buildings have to first release the surface of the mould. Fumigation and subjecting the area to hot air blasts can clean it to a large extent. If the walls of the basement have started chipping or flaking, it will be worth the investment to get them plastered again before working on the floor.
Then, use non-metallic heavy duty floor hardener to reinforce the floor. Though this measure is costly, it has a long life and can be easy to clean and maintain. Waterproofing buildings has come of age. There are plenty of options in terms of both price and quality. The best time to waterproof buildings will be summer. Make sure that your homes and offices wear their rainproof cover before the first drizzle.
Looking back Radha Prathi traces the journey of Ayurvedic practice over the last 100 years, by looking at B V Pundit’s contributions and legacy in the field.
Circa 1913, when the world was battling to cope with the imminent first world war, a small temple town in Karnataka decided to launch a war of its own against ill health. B V Pundit, an alumnus from the first batch of students of Mysore Ayurvedic college decided to make use of his education in the best possible way. By then, he had already realised that his maiden venture, the Nanjangud tooth powder had thousands of takers across the country.
Pundit, who was deeply ingrained in the Indian philosophy of medicine decided to make a living out of it while making a difference to the immediate society around him. His talent and knowledge, coupled with dedication and hard work, led to the setting up of Sadvaidyasala in Nanjangud. The institution used Bhaishaijya Kalpana, the science of preparing Ayurvedic medicines, which caters to correct health issues and curing diseases in human beings.
Over the years
The science has handed down prescriptions in which the ingredients, the proportion and manner in which they should be used have been mentioned. Ayurveda also mentions substitutes for some ingredients, in case of non-availability. Sadvaidyasala, which means good and true school of medicine, has ever since been making potions, syrups, lehyams and pills quite on the lines they were made all those millennia ago.
That was the scene 102 years ago; if a time machine takes us through all the interim years and stops at the present moment in time, the story is pretty much the same. Sadvaidyasala, true to its name has been carrying on in much the same manner as it did a century ago, for the simple reason that its foundations are well grounded while its sights are set on serving humanity. When the organisation stepped into its golden jubilee year, it floated a functional centre called Dhanvanthari Arogya Aashrama on the Mysore-Ooty Road.
This centre, fitted with modern amenities, caters to its patients in the genuine old world style, safeguarding the basic principle of service to humanity. In fact, treatment initially was rendered free of cost at this centre. Over the years, the management decided to charge each person a fee of Rs 20 for every visit, which remains the same to this date.
Dhanvantari Arogya Ashrama which is an offshoot of Sadvaidyasala, houses a wonderful herbal garden with rare species of medicinal plants, shrubs and trees in about 10 acres of land. The garden is used mostly for collection purposes and is used as “show and tell” material for students who visit them for educational purposes through the year.
Dr Rajesh, Director, production, said that they source ingredients from their native habitats for achieving best results. He added that Sadvaidyasala has steered clear from temptations of altering classical medicinal recipes for the fear of misrepresenting the ancient science that has been held sacred and fool proof for so many years. In fact, he feels if all the doctors who practised Ayurveda stuck to the original format using substitutes only as and when it is prescribed, people who receive the treatment would benefit immensely. They in turn will find it
easier to recommend this genre of medicine to others.
B V Pundit’s heart did beat for Ayurvedic medicine, but he did not forget the hardships that he had to face as a student. Dr Shreekantan, the chairman of the company, recollected how his father made it a point to employ mostly localites in just about every rung of the ladder at Sadvaidyasala. He made it a point to financially support students who studied Sanskrit. He paid a tribute to his wife by honouring the devotional streak in her by building a bhajana mandira in her name which conducts bhajan sessions to this day.
Down the generations
One other special feature of Sadvaidyasala is that it is a family venture which has seen three proactive generations at the helm of affairs. Recently, the family rallied to organise a function in memory of their beloved ancestor and had invited stalwarts in the medical field like Dr M S Valiathan and Dr G Gangadharan to discuss the relevance of Ayurvedic medicine in present times. This in itself speaks in volumes about the deep faith, love and trust that the members of the family have reposed in the vision of their founder for they have deemed it fit to carry on the good work.
It is said that true success can be evaluated only when an effort or a project stands the test of time. If a century can be considered as a decent passage of time to appraise the contributions and relevance of an organisation to its immediate society and the world at large, then it is time to take a relook at Sadvaidyasala with renewed interest.
Cursing somebody or something has become akin to breathing these days. People are forever expressing their displeasure using foul language propelled by destructive and deteriorating thoughts.
Then there is another category of people who swear rather out of context, more out of habit or to display a cool attitude rather than as a reaction.
Outbursts of disgust, depression, despair or anger is not new to mankind. So also, the need to keep our tempers in control is a well-known universal truth. Religion, medical science and psychology have time and again emphasised on the need to maintain mental equilibrium for remaining healthy.
Our epics and mythologies house a repertoire of stories which involve a lot of curses. Usually, spiritually potent sages are found cursing kings and lesser mortals when they are found shortchanged in established values and courtesies. People from all walks of life were aware of the spiritual strengths of these wise men. The words uttered by these men were powered by the strength of their truth, righteousness and disciplined life.
Hence these rishis were revered and feared by one and all. People took care not to ruffle the tranquility of these great men.
The rishis were also aware of their innate power to alter the course of events in the life of an individual while cursing them. They also knew that a sizeable amount of the merits derived from their severe penance would be expended when they exercised their powers.
Therefore, they always exercised utmost caution restraint when mouthing the negatively powered dictums. The words uttered by the sages always came true.There were times when the wrongdoer would immediately realise his or her fault and seek pardon from the affronted sage.
At such times, the offended party would realise the gravity of the situation. Yet, his commitment to truth would deter him from going back on his words. All the same, he would exhibit the generosity of his spirit by altering the curse or by prescribing a suitable panacea to overcome the crisis.
The curse would invariably materialise on the sheer strength of the integrity of the person who spelt it out. The person who cursed would take on further austerities to replenish his spiritual strength. The cursed would emerge stronger and chastened as the curse would prove to be a curative of sorts to their psyche.
The basic principle of using our energy for constructive or destructive purposes is pretty much the same as the sages of the yore, though we may not match their moral caliber. This knowledge should make us evaluate our emotions and measure our words before spewing them thoughtlessly.