Sunday, October 30, 2016

Telangana’s quintessential sweets of Deepavali are Garijalu and Pheni.

Deepavali, the festival of lights is also the festival of sweets and crackers. Two sweets are the most important Deepavali - traditional sweets for us in Telangana, Garijalu and Pheni (Pheni now and earlier Sevalu). Other sweets however delicious and attractive come next.
Deepavali festival starts for us early in the morning by bursting few crackers. Then before breakfast it is time for Harathulu – that is receiving blessings. You may click on Harathulu to know about this tradition. Then it is breakfast time and it starts by having Garijalu and some Namkeen prepared at home followed by regular breakfast dishes.
You can see Garijalu in the topmost picture, to the left, the ones in semicircular shape. They are fried sweet dumplings made of Maida - refined wheat flour and stuffed with a mixture of Khoya, sugar, dry fruits, cardamom and grated dry coconut. Obviously they are very delicioius.
The other sweet; Pheni is a bought out item. The tradition of having Pheni on Deepavali day is very popular among locals. It is so popular that it is sold by every Sweet Shop in Hyderabad and Secunderabad in very large quantities. This is also made with refined wheat flour and ghee. It is thread like crisp noodles spun together into round shaped layers few millimeters thick and pre-fried. You can see these in the above three pictures. We sprinkle powdered sugar on Pheni, pour warm milk over it to soak it for a few seconds and it is ready to eat. It tastes heavenly, cool, soft, a little crunchy and sweet.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Wish you all A VERY HAPPY DEEPAVALI!


Dear All,
Wish you all A VERY HAPPY DEEPAVALI. Please be careful with Crackers and have a very safe Deepavali.
You may see my earlier exhaustive photo posts on Deepavali; covering traditions like ‘Harathulu’, ‘Bommala Koluvu’, ‘Crackers/Fireworks’ and ‘Festive Foods’, by clicking on the five links below. I hope you will find them interesting and informative.
Deepavali Harathulu:
Deepavali Bommala Koluvu:
The Joy of Crackers & Sparklers:
Deepavali Greetings:
In affection, admiration and defence of family traditions:
Deepavali Bommala Koluvu and Fireworks Video! – 2013:
Our Deepavali Celebration Pictures – 2014:
Introduction to Diwali and Diwali Greetings in  Hindi and English by Sudhiksha:
About a surprise on Diwali morning!:
Paying respects to the greatest firework! – A Diwali Short Story in 10 sentences!:
Deepavali commentary and songs by our granddaughter, Sudhiksha:
You may click on the following link / URL to see a Greeting Card come to life with heavy animation of diyas, sparklers, crackers and the melodious commentary and songs by our granddaughter, Sudhiksha:
You may click on the ‘Pink Play/Pause Button’ available on the Greeting Card to listen to Sudhiksha once again.
Regards,
N. Raghu.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Paying respects to the greatest firework! – A Diwali Short Story in 10 sentences!

Adventure took us to a Cave and having no battery-torch with us we entered the Cave by lighting an oil torch, which we were certain, would last long.
Enthusiasm prevented us from thinking of dangers like inflammable gases, insects and reptiles in the Cave.
We moved forward exploring the roof, the sides and the tunnels in front of us as countless disturbed Bats flew away from us.
Soon the sunlight from the Cave opening faded and after we took many turns and moved much further down; a strong current of wind blew out our torch.  
I was shocked as pitch darkness engulfed us and our children shrieked.
I and my wife embraced the children; we comforted them and turned back, turning back was OK but every move thereafter was hell.
All thoughts were of getting lost and impending danger, and prayers to every GOD of every religion to guide us back to our Car.
Our guide was our intuition to move upwards holding to the side of the tunnels, in the process we came across water streams and boulders but kept moving cautiously and praying.
After several anxious moments we suddenly saw a bright star, sunlight at the entrance of the Cave which brought smiles and happiness to us and this star grew brighter with our steps.
As we stepped out of the Cave the Sun and the world appeared like the biggest firework, and truly it is of our life.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Church of Saint Francis of Assisi.

It is a great feeling to learn about the great Saint Francis of Assisi, Italy, who lived over 800 years ago and to be at the magnificent Church of Saint Assisi and Convent in Goa, which was established by eight Portuguese Franciscan Friars who landed in Goa in 1517. It is situated in the main square of Old Goa, 10 kilometres east of Panaji, the State Capital.
Saint Francis of Assisi was born Giovanni di Pietro di Bemardone, informally named as Francesco (1181-3rd Oct.1226). He was born in Assisi a town in Italy in the province of Perugia. He founded the Franciscan religious order – Order of Friars Minor for men, Order of Saint Clare for women, the order of Saint Francis and the Custody of the Holy Land, in this town around 1208. Pope Gregory IX canonized Francis on 16th July 1228 and he was designated Patron Saint of Italy. St. Francis is one of the most venerated religious figures in history. The present Pope (266th), Jorge Mario Bergoglio from Argentina, took his Papal title after St. Francis of Assisi and is known to the world as Pope Francis. Life of St. Francis has made an impact on me. You may look for his life particulars on internet.
Now coming back to the Church, it was a small Chapel in 1517. It was modified to a Church in 1521 and consecrated in 1602. That building was replaced by the current structure erected in 1661. It is a mixture of styles. Its exterior decoration is in the simple Tuscan order, but its interior especially the main altar is rich with Baroque and Corinthian features. The three-tier exterior fa├žade has two distinct octagonal towers, one on each side and a small niche that houses a statue of Mary. The Church’s interior includes a richly ornamental niche with a tabernacle supported by the four Evangelists on the main altar. Above the tabernacle are two large statues, one of St. Francis of Assisi and the other of the crucified Christ. The Church’s gilded interior is decorated with paintings of events in the life of St. Francis, carved woodwork, additional statues, and frescos with intricate floral designs. You may see this to some extent in the attached pictures.
The Convent, contiguous to the Church houses a museum that was set up by the Archaeological Survey of India in 1964. The museum contains several artifacts, paintings and sculptures that testify Goa’s rich and vibrant history…photography is prohibited in the museum.
This is a must visit place in Old Goa. And as a final word, no tour of Goa could be complete without a visit to this twofold attraction.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

True! Not a ‘Fish Story’.

I like eating fish,
So I bought this carving,
Of a Seer fish,
Measuring 9X5X1 inches!
And weighing 710 grams!
To make a delicious steak,
And eat it,
All by myself!
Lovingly I washed it,
And carefully marinated it,
And after an anxious wait,
Until dinner time,
I pan fried it,
Savoring the looks,
And the aroma,
Garnished it colorfully,
And sat to eat,
Covetously!
It tasted heavenly,
But I could not eat it,
Entirely,
As my eyes,
My nose,
My taste buds,
And my tummy,
Were fully satiated.
So tomorrow,
Will be another fish day,
And another happy day,
And these photographs,
Are to tellthis is not a ‘Fish Story’.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Today is Maharishi Valmiki Jayanti.

Ramayana the ancient and highly revered and evergreen epic is known all over the world and in particular to every Indian. And today, Ashwija Masam Punnama day (the month of Ashwin, full Moon day) is the birth anniversary of Maharishi Valmiki who authored Ramayana for us. Today is observed with great enthusiasm and devotion especially in North India by remembering Sage Valmiki and reading or listening to Ramayana and offering prayers to Lord Rama. There are many Temples in India including a few in Hyderabad dedicated to Maharishi Valmiki.
Maharishi Valmiki is the first poet of Sanskrit literature. He wrote Ramayana in 24,000 verses (slokas), in seven chapters known as Kandas. He is also referred as Adi Kavi meaning the first poet of Sanskrit language. He lived during the Treta Yuga and through guidance from heaven, he wrote the Ramayana prior to Lord Rama’s advent. Valmiki was also present during Lord Rama’s lifetime. He had a hermitage in the forest and was visited by Lord Rama, Sita Devi and Rama’s brother Lakshmana during their fourteen year exile. Lord Rama asked Valmiki if he knew a good place where they could stay. He gave them the directions to Panchavati, which we believe is the place called 'Parnashala' near Bhadrachalam in Telangana. Valmiki also provided shelter to Sita Devi when she was abandoned. Lord Rama and Sita Devi’s two sons, Lava and Kusha were born at Valmiki’s hermitage and he acted as their spiritual teacher. Valmiki taught Ramayana to Lava and Kusha, who later sang the divine story in Ayodhya during the Ashwamedha Yagna by Lord Rama, to the pleasure of the audience. King Rama questioned who they were and later visited Sage Valmiki’s hermitage to be united with Sita Devi and his sons.
In Uttara Kanda Valmiki Maharishi mentions about his earlier life and how he became a hermit and wrote Ramayana. His early life is perhaps not well known to many. It has a great message. His life teaches that no one is born good or evil; it is their deeds that determine their greatness.
Maharishi Valmiki was born as Ratnakara to sage Prachetasa. At a very young age, Ratnakara went into the forest and got lost. A hunter, who was passing by, saw Ratnakara and took him under his own care. Under the love and care of his foster parents, Ratnakara forgot his original parents. Under his foster father’s guidance, Ratnakara turned out to be an excellent hunter. As he approached marriageable age, Ratnakara was married to a beautiful girl from a hunter’s family. He initially lived by hunting birds and animals. But as his family grew larger, Ratnakara found it next to impossible to feed them. As a result, he took to robbery and began looting people who were passing from one village to another. One day, the great sage Narada, while passing through the jungle, was attacked by Ratnakara. He jumped out in front of Narada and demanded, “Hand over all you have or else I will break your head”. With love flowing from his eyes, Narada said smilingly, “My dear man all that I have are these rags I wear and my Veena. Why do you want to kill me for these and become a sinner”. Ratnakara replied saying that he does all this as a duty to feed his family. Narada told him that he is sinning a lot and will have to face the consequences all alone. Hearing this Ratnakara says that his family would share whatever the outcome may be. Narada said that his family would not share his sins and asked him to go and ascertain this. Ratnakara tied Narada to a tree and went home to find out from his family. On hearing that he is a dacoit, his father and then his mother and even his wife loathed him and said that they would not share his sins. Hearing this he returned to Narada, untied him and fell at his feet and sought forgiveness and advice to lead a pious life. Narada taught him to recite the sacred name of Rama and asked him to go into penance. His concentration was so deep that he remained in meditation for years. In fact, he sat there so long in meditation that an anthill grew all around and above him. One day Narada came that way and carefully cleared the anthill, blessed him and declared him as a sage. He said that this is your rebirth as a great saint and I and the world shall henceforth call you as “Valmiki”. Val-mika means one born out of an Ant-hill. Valmiki then started living in an Ashram along River Ganges.
Sometime later Sage Narada visited Maharishi Valmiki in his Ashram and narrated the story of Lord Rama. Thereafter Valmiki received a vision from Lord Brahma in which the Lord instructed him to write Ramayana in slokas, which the sage readily followed.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Today we celebrate ‘International Day of the Girl Child’.

Celebrating the love, affection and power of Girls! Today, 11th October - International Day of the Girl Child and on every day!! In this photograph is our beloved granddaughter:
International Day of the Girl Child takes place on 11th October, every year. International Day of the Girl Child is an International Observance Day declared by the United Nations. The observation supports more opportunity for girls, and increases awareness of inequality faced by girls worldwide based upon their gender. This inequality includes areas such as access to education, nutrition, legal rights, medical care, and protection from discrimination, violence and child marriage. The International Day of the Girl Child initiative began as a project of Plan International, a non-governmental organization that operates worldwide. The idea for an international day of observance and celebration grew out of Plan International's ‘Because I Am a Girl campaign’, which raises awareness of the importance of nurturing girls globally and in developing countries in particular. October 11, 2012, was the first Day of the Girl. 

Dasara Greetings - 2016.


Greetings and best wishes to you on this auspicious day of Dasara; which symbolizes the triumph of good and truth over evil. It is a festival celebrated all over India with much enthusiasm and fanfare, with Calcutta and Mysore topping the list. People visit friends and relatives, exchange greetings and seek the blessings of elders. Yesterday it has rained at Hyderabad, almost the whole day. Hope the weather would be good today; especially in the evening when we have to go to the Temple and later visit my sister’s family for exchanging Dasara greetings and seek their blessings.
It is little early in the morning and we are already getting busy; exchanging Dasara greetings with friends and relatives. Some time before lunch we will be carrying out Vahana Pooja. And for the ‘Festival Lunch’ we would be having special Non-veg. dishes. Dasara, Sankranti, Holi, Mahankali Jatara are festivals for which we can have Non-veg. food but for Deepavali, Ugadhi, Vinayaka Chavithi, Rakhi Punnami and many other festivals and occasions it is strictly sweets and vegetarian food. In the evening we put on new clothes and at about 5:00 P.M. we will be visiting the Anjaneyaswamy Temple close to our house. The main shrine here is of Anjaneyaswamy but there are other shrines in this Temple, of Vinayaka, Shiva, Venkateshwaraswamy, Santosha Laxmi and Navagrahalu. After we return home from the temple; we place the Jammi tree leaves in front of the pictures and idols of Gods in our Pooja room and worship. These leaves are called Bangaram (Gold). We place Bangaram in the hands of elders and prostrate before them and seek their blessings. If it is friends or relatives of the same age group we place a few Jammi leaves in their hands, exchange greetings and hug them. A few friends and relatives normally visit us in the evening to exchange Dasara greetings. Later; after dinner we visit my sister’s family and seek blessings from my brother-in-law and sister.
As one cannot manage to meet all near and dear ones in few hours of today evening; these meetings continue tomorrow, popularly called as ‘Mulaqat day’ – meeting day. Worship, celebration, new clothes and most importantly the renewing and deepening of friendships and relationships makes this festival a unique one.
Dhairyam
Aishwaryam
Santosham
Arogyam
Rajasamu
Ayushu:
Durga Devi Meeku Prasadinchalani Korukuntunnanu,
Vijayadashami Shubhakankshalu!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Happy Bathukamma Festival – 2016.

On the joyful occasion of Bathukamma festival, I wish all the people ‘of and from’ Telangana State very happy celebrations.
Today is the final day of Bathukamma festivities. It is called Saddhula Bathukamma festival. I am glad that the festival has regained its old importance in the last few years and has become more popular locally and in all countries of the world where there is presence of Telangana families.
Yesterday at Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium, Hyderabad, 9292 women participated in Bathukamma festivities; singing around 20 feet high colourful Bathukamma and the event has won an entry into Guinness Book of World Records.
I am also glad that my blog post “Procedure to arrange Bathukamma” has been helpful to sisters all over the world with 796 views within the past 7 days:

Friday, October 7, 2016

PAPPU, Get Well Soon.

PAPPU, Get Well Soon,
You are barking senselessly,
And oozing with filth,
You have become a dirty piggy,
Very soon you may go insane,
May this never happen,
Otherwise, with us you shall not remain,
PAPPU, Get Well Soon.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Media, please sweep him away from us.

He is a narcissist,
A drama addict,
Chronic attention seeker,
A sadist and a mocker,
He is a dangerous man,
And very harmful to our Nation,
Please avoid listening to him,
Punish him by avoiding him,
You know whom I am talking about,
Between his barks he coughs a lot.


Sunday, October 2, 2016

The story of Coffee.

Telling stories to grandchildren is an enjoyable pastime. Stories are very good for them. All children love stories, so you must tell them or read to them good stories as often as possible.
Here I am in a Coffee Shop, telling the story of Coffee to my grandson. It is a nice feeling as he listens to me so intently. He is too young to understand but he is quietly listening to me as I point out to everything at the place and narrate the story of Coffee. As I do this I must admit that it is not easy for me to have my cup of Coffee. It is a sip and the story…a sip and the story again, and both of us are amused.
Good Coffee is always a winner, so refreshing and energetic.
And here is the Story of Coffee as I know it and have recounted it a number of times, to children and companions:
According to legend, Coffee was discovered over a thousand years ago in the highlands of Ethiopia by a goat-herder named Herder Kaldi. While tending his goats, Kaldi noticed that some of them were eating the little red berries and shiny leaves off a plant. After they had eaten the berries, they were extraordinarily vigorous, excitable, alert and virtually dancing. Kaldi decided to try some, and when he did, he joined the excited goats! So Kaldi harvested some of the beans and remained very happy eating the berries. Sometime later, a passing monk observed Kaldi and the agile goats and enquired about the reasons for their very active condition. When Kaldi told the monk of the berries, the monk was excited. The monk was always falling asleep in the middle of the prayers and this information appeared to be an answer to his wish. He tried the berries and stayed awake. For sometime Kaldi and the unnamed monk continued to have the berries but later the monk and Kaldi came up with an idea to use the dried up berries. They boiled the dried up berries and made a beverage which they could have as and when they like. The monk introduced this drink to his fellow monks and they too loved this new drink as it tasted good and encouraged them to be alert and pray for a longer time.  This drink was then known by names like Qahwah and Quwwa and then the Dutch began calling it Koffie and the English as Coffee as we now know it. This is how our Coffee and our Coffee industries were born.

Aubergine, Mushroom and Cheese Diyas!?!

Happy Diwali! Surprised with the unbelievable title? Sorry, please don’t think any further, they are not real Diyas! Deepavali festi...