Monthly Archives: November 2014

Pre-paid Taxi Service to Pampa, Erumeli Launched

Pilgrims climbing the holy steps of Lord Ayyappa temple | Shaji Vettipuram
Pilgrims climbing the holy steps of Lord Ayyappa temple | Shaji Vettipuram

Sabarimala  : 

A pre-paid taxi service from Chengannur railway station to Pampa and Erumeli for the convenience of the pilgrims has been launched.

The service has been introduced based on the order of the Devaswom Bench of Kerala High Court, comprising Justice T R Ramachandran Nair and Justice P V Asha on a report filed by special commissioner K Babu.

At the pre-paid taxi counter, functioning on the Chengannur railway station premises, pilgrims can rent vehicles of their choice and the fare will be based on the route which they prefer to take. Devaswom Commissioner P Venugopal said the quality of aravana prasadam will be ensured.He said the production of  aravana was halted on two occasion due to the supply of low quality ingredients by the contractor. The Commissioner said that adequate stock of aravana and appam have been stored in the Devaswom godowns to ensure availability at all times.

The Devaswom authorities has taken measures for setting up a health clinic on Swami Ayyappan Road at Charalmedu, the Commissioner said. The directive to set up clinic at Charalmedu was given by the Devaswom Bench of Kerala High Court on a report filed by Special Commissioner K Babu. The Devaswom authorities has sought the Forest Department’s help in setting up the health clinic, the he said.

The Devaswom has already allotted around `40 lakh to the Forest Department for the setting up of bio-toilets and other amenities for the pilgrims on the Swami Ayyappan Road.

source: / The New Indian Express / Home> States> Kerala / by Express News Service / November 30th, 2014

Philately exhibition displaying world’s first, rare stamps draws crowd in Kochi

Kochi  (ANI ):

Some unique and rare collections of stamps ranging from world’s first ‘Penny Black’ to the oldest ones along with India’s heritage stamps were on display at a philately exhibition in Kerala.

The two-day exhibition called ‘Kochipex 2014′, which pulled sizeable crowd including school children to veteran philatelists, began on Thursday in Kochi.

Stamps depicting Jesus Christ’s life (birth to resurrection) and painter-sculptor Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Vitrovian Man’ were also on display at the exhibition.

The exhibition that started with a ceremonial function was a visual treat for the enthusiasts and stamp collectors. The exhibition also gave a chance to exhibit collection of coins and Indian rupee notes for the collectors.

Stamps carrying photos of India’s former politicians and greats like Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Mahatma Gandhi among others also attracted visitors.

M Venkateswarlu, Post Master-General, central region of India Post said that such exhibitions should be organised regularly across the country to encourage the hobby of collecting stamps, especially among students.

source: / International Business Times / Home>  IBT Video / ANI / Kochi –  November 28th, 2014

GKSF: Unique Bid to Promote Straw Art

Kollam :

In a bid to promote straw art, the artists of Kerala State Institute of Design will design 14 showpieces and will display them at the Grand Kerala Shopping Festival (GKSF) scheduled to begin next month. The showpieces will be of historical and tourism icons of the 14 districts.

“The work on these showpieces will commence on December 1 and is expected to be completed by January 10. Each piece will be four feet long and 2.5 feet wide. They will be made by around 100 artists based at Anchalumoodu here who will be guided by 14 master craftsmen,” said K M Anil Muhammed, director, GKSF.

The major icons to be depicted are, Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple of Thiruvananthapuram, the 13 Arch Bridge at Aryankavu of Kollam, Padayani of Pathanamthitta, Nehru Trophy boat race of Alappuzha, arch dam of Idukki, a scene from Thekkady for Kottayam, the Cochin Shipyard from Ernakulam, Thrissur Pooram, paddy fields of Palakkad, Duffmuttu of Malappuram, Kalaripayattu of Kannur, for Kozhikode will be an image of M T Vasudevan Nair, Edakkal caves for Wayanad and the Maliq Dinar mosque for Kasargod.

The organisers said that the artists engaged in the work would be presented with certificates and a bonus and added that once the showpieces were displayed they would be auctioned.

The money gained this way will be used for a social cause, most preferably for palliative care initiatives in the district, said Anil Mohammad.

source: / The New Indian Express / Home> States> Kerala / by Express News Service / November 24th, 2014

Passion for creative patterns

B.S. Karthik’s intricate geometric designs create the illusion of depth. /  Photo: special arrangement / The Hindu
B.S. Karthik’s intricate geometric designs create the illusion of depth. / Photo: special arrangement / The Hindu

There are a few rolls of chart-paper kept carefully wrapped in old newspapers in a locked cupboard in one of the classrooms at the Sree Chitra Poor Home Lower Primary School. On three of them are intricate geometric designs, so flawless that they create the illusion of depth and the impression of whorls and arcs when there are only straight lines. They were drawn by a nine-year-old.

The fact that a young child has drawn such complex patterns may not be remarkable in itself. Every year, at the School Science Mathematics Social Science and IT Fair, there are entries for the ‘geometric pattern’ competition that look professional. But, as with the State School arts fete, where the more privileged participants are able to spend a lot on training, costumes, and equipment, the Mathematics Fair too is populated by many such trained candidates.

This is why the achievements of children from the Sree Chitra Poor Home are significant and celebrated by staff and students alike. B.S Karthik, the artist behind the three patterns that are treasured at the school, qualified for the district-level Mathematics Fair and was awarded an ‘A’ grade in the competition recently. He won first place in the Thiruvananthapuram North sub-district contest.

“It took me two days to get these designs right myself. I showed it to him once, and he got it right in the first attempt,” said N. Reeja, one of the teachers. There are no art teachers at this school, where 32 children of the Poor Home are taught. Karthik retraced the steps he followed to draw the designs with only a ruler, pencil, and sketch pen. The competition allows only three hours for three patterns and so there is very little room for error, especially when it comes to filling in the right blocks with colour, said Ms. Reeja. If one angle or a line is out of place even by a fraction, the picture is spoilt. The 9-year-old’s strength lies in the ability to block out all distractions and devote absolute focus to his work.

source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Thiruvananthapuram / by Kaavya Pradeep Kumar / November 21st, 2014

Village commemorates 41 Wagon Tragedy victims on anniversary day

Malappuram :

On the occasion of observing 93rd anniversary of Wagon Tragedy, the darkest chapter of Malabar rebellion during British period on Thursday, a village near Tirur commemorates 40 people hailing from the village, who were killed in the tragedy.

A total of 70 among the 90 odd Mappila rebels who were taken in an air-tight goods wagon from Tirur to Podanur were killed on November 20, 1921. The prisoners were taken into custody when the rebellion was in peak and almost 80 detained rebels were despatched in freight wagon from Tirur to Podanur in Tamilnadu. During the journey about 60 of the rebels suffocated to death in wagon.

It is believed that among the 41 persons from Kuruvambalam who were victims of the tragedy, majority were bachelors who left behind no progeny. “Even the historians and local people were not much aware of the role of the Kruvambalam people in the incident till couple of years ago. According to the elders in the village the youngsters here had played a major role in the struggle against the British during the rebellion and more studies have to be conducted to shed light on the contribution of tragedy victims”, said Salim Kuruvambalam, Malappuram district panachayat member, who took initiative for setting up a memorial for the Wagon Tragedy victims at Kuruvamabalam. The district panchayat president Zuhara Mampad will inaugurate the comemmoration programmes in the village.Historians will also attend the programme.

Talking about role of Kuruvambalam persons in the tragedy, the historian KKN Kurupp said that government should conduct a comprehensive study on the victims of Wagon tragedy and other related incidents of Malabar rebellion. ” As there was no such study held so far the state government should initiate action to start a detailed historical and cultural study on the various incidents during the rebellion period. We are going to observe 100th anniversaty of the rebellion in 2021. But still we have no clear data or official document regarding the incidents and the details of the persons who were killed in Wagon tragedy”, he pointed out.

The historian and scholar M Gangadharan has recently opined that the Wagon tragedy was not a cruellest act of the British oppression during the Malabar rebellion, as about 200 Mappila youngsters pulled out of their house and they were killed infront of their family in October of the same year.

source: / The Times of India / Home> City> Kochi / by T. P. Nijeesh, TNN /  November 20th, 2014

Manikyam Stands Tall as World’s Shortest Cow

Kozhikode :

Onlookers couldn’t help taking photos with their mobile phones when Manikyam,  the shortest cow in the world, stood all decked up with a garland around her neck in front of Guinness Book of World Records officials on Saturday.

The five-member Guinness Book team comprising photo editor Michael Whitty, Ronald Mackechnie, Jackfillery, Mathew Musson and Sidharth Lama came all the way from London to photograph the Vechur cow in the presence of hundreds of locals at Velur.

Actor Pakru with Manikyam, the shortest cow in the world, at Velur in Kozhikode on Saturday | K Shijith
Actor Pakru with Manikyam, the shortest cow in the world, at Velur in Kozhikode on Saturday | K Shijith

The six-year-old Manikyam, owned by farmer and environmentalist N V Balakrishnan, measurers 61.5 cm from the hoof to the withers. The current holder of the Guinness record for the shortest cow is Blaze who measures 69.07 cm from the hoof to the withers. Blaze is a nine-year-old miniature Zebu cow and owned by Steven DeMoor and Christian Agnew of Sanford in the US.

“We are sure this record will be interesting to a wide range of people. We came here to confirm the honour and take some interesting photographs of her,” said Whitty.

The Guinness Book will update its website conferring the honour on Manikyam only after the photo shoot, which will continue on Sunday, is over.

Balakrishnan claimed the record when veterinary surgeon Priya K Nair told him that the cow was unusually short despite having no deformity. Guinness record holders actor Pakru, Prajeesh Kannan and Job Pottas also attended the function that “crowned” Manikyam.

source: / The New Indian Express / Home> States> Kerala / by Express News Service / November 23rd, 2014

Social Thinker Bags Coveted Malcolm Prize

Chennai :

Economic thinker and social scientist Pulapre Balakrishnan has been handed the 2014 Malcolm Adiseshaiah award for contribution to development studies. The award was instituted by the Malcolm and Elizabeth Adiseshaiah Trust, which runs the Madras Institute of Development Studies in Adyar.

An alumnus of Madras Christian College, Balakrishnan also studied at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Oxford and Cambridge. With a formidable academic training followed by research at prestigious institutions across the world, he is now professor at the Centre for Development Studies, Thiruvananthapuram.

Delivering the Malcolm Adiseshaiah memorial lecture on the topic ‘Macroeconomic reversal in India,’ Balakrishnan said that macroeconomics was in riotous disarray.

“Some of the triumph that had accompanied the rise of the New Classical Economics has dissipated after the global financial crisis,” he pointed out.

source: / The New Indian Express / Home> Cities> Chennai / by Express News Service / November 22nd, 2014

For the children of da Gama, language is now a memory

Kochi :

“Patre nosso que estais Ceus, santificado seja ta nome; venha a nos o ta reino, seja feita a ta vontade…” (Our father in heaven, holy be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done …). The voices of elderly members of Nossa Senhora de Esperanca (Our Lady of Hope) ring aloud as the procession comes out from the church. The youngsters, dressed in their fashionable best, walk beside them, struggling to pronounce the Portuguese prayer.

For generations, the Anglo-Indian community has kept alive the traditions of their Portuguese forefathers. They faithfully adhere to the rituals of ‘thocha’ (the carrying of ornamental long silver candle sticks) and ‘cyrial’ (ornamental silver cross) wearing the ‘opa’ and ‘moosha’ (a long white cloak like garment and a brightly coloured collar or bib worn over it) while taking out the procession reciting the rosary in Portuguese.

These are one of the many dying rituals practiced solely at the church by 52 families who are members of the Anglo-Indian community in Vypeen. The dependents of Europeans are planning to record these prayers and hymns in Portuguese and Latin used in the church for posterity, led by the Anglo-Indian Association of Vypeen.

“Even if the young generation does not follow these rituals, these records will help to keep them aware of their cultural heritage,” said Lester Concesso, president of the association. “I have two little girls. It is important that they know what we’ve been practicing for centuries. We will explain the rituals, their relevance and how to practice them. We are the custodians of our culture and it is our responsibility for the future generations,” he added.

The community elders are not sure whether the new generation would practice these rituals and traditions. “I am the last survivor of my generation. These rituals were passed down by our forefathers. We cannot merely rely on an oral narrative as a means of passing on our traditions. So, we have decided to document hymns and prayers in Portuguese and Latin used in the church,” said 93-year-old Winnie D’Souza, a patriarch of the community.

The migration of community members and their assimilation into mainstream society are the main reasons why the younger generation have moved away from traditions. Anglo-Indians of Vypeen are no longer in the majority in the parish, leading the curtailment of their English services and festival masses. A festival which went on for a whole week is now limited to just three days.

Eric Hendricks, a youth familiar with the Portuguese traditions, says that each ritual and rite are intricate. “Many youngsters do not know rituals as simple as genuflecting (kneeling and bowing at the same time) at the altar before carrying the ‘thocha’ or that the bell has to be rung thrice while they pray the ‘devata’ (a ritual practiced during lent),” he says.

The lack of clergy, who are aware of these rituals and practices, has also hit the community hard. According to Anglo-Indian MP Charles Dias, unlike the Jews of Kochi, whose culture has been well documented by scholars, there have been hardly any initiative to document or preserve the practices and rites of Anglo-Indians.

“The Indo-Portuguese Cultural Centre and the Bishop’s House in Fort Kochi have taken initiative to teach Portuguese to those interested,” he said.

source: / The Times of India / Home> City> Kochi / TNN / November 18th, 2014

Social activist Gopalakrishnan passes away

Kozhikode :

Body of N Gopalakrishnan, writer and social activist who died here on Wednesday morning, will be cremated at the Mavoor Road crematorium on Friday.

Gopalakrishnan (80) died at a private hospital here following a heart attack.

After his retirement as member of claims tribunal of Indian Railways in 1984, Gopalakrishnan was actively engaged in social and cultural activities in the city.

He had translated former prime minister P V Narasimha Rao’s autobiography into Malayalam and K P Ramanunni’s Sufi Paranja Katha into English.

He also translated M T Vasudevan Nair’s novel Varanasi into English. He won the Kendra Sahitya Akademi’s award for translation in 2006.

Gopalakrishnan was also an active member of the Kozhikode Pain and Palliative Society and was in the forefront of collecting fund for the Society.

source: / The Times of India / Home> City> Kozhikode / TNN / November 20th, 2014

DESI SUPERFOODS – Kokum: the Malabar tamarind


All the power of antibiotics, with none of the side effects

The Ayurvedic palate covers six different tastes: sweet, salty, pungent, bitter, astringent and sour. Each one of them needs to be included at every meal for us to avail of the goodness they have to offer. The sour taste, for example, is said to help digestion, cleanse the tissues and help in the absorption of minerals. One of the star foods used in the Konkan region and also in Maharashtra, Gujarat, parts of Kerala and the Kannada region, is Kokum, aka Garcinia indica, twin sister of Garcinia cambogia. Of late, the latter has acquired glam quotient as an ingredient for those looking to lose weight, a property which Garcinia Indica can also boast of.

Kokum is a native of the Western Ghats and for this reason is known as Malabar tamarind. It has culinary as well as industrial uses, while also having remarkable therapeutic values. It contains B complex vitamins such as niacin, thiamin and folic acid plus high levels of Vitamin C; it is a good source of magnesium, potassium and manganese. But where it is an absolute winner is in its content of hydroxy citric acid, normally abbreviated to HCA. In fact, as of now, Garcinia indica and cambogia are the only known source of HCA. And it is for this reason that kokum has been deemed to have weight loss capacities. It is the rind of the kokum fruit, small and green when unripe but a deep purple when mature, which is very rich in HCA, the element that imparts tartness to it.

So, how does HCA operate as a fat burner? First, it inhibits the conversion of carbohydrates into fats; then it works on the enzyme which plays an important role in the synthesis of fatty acids and in transforming sugars into triglycerides and lipids, thereby slowing the production of fats. This property of kokum therefore is an added bonus for controlling bad cholesterol (LDL).

Another major active ingredient in kokum is Garcinol; it acts as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacteria and anti-carcinogenic agent. Much research has been carried out on Garcinol and it has been found to be neuroprotective, contributing to the brain’s health. As such, it may have a positive effect in regulating Alzheimer’s disease. Since Garcinol also inhibits the formation of histamine, it is beneficial against allergies.

Again, research has shown that this compound could become a viable alternative to the antibiotics used in the treatment of H. pylori infection as it is developing resistance to the current drugs. As far as the anti-carcinogenic property of Garcinol is concerned, it is particularly helpful in cases of intestinal, colorectal and pancreatic cancers. , Garcinia Indica has also exhibited good anti-tumour activity against human leukaemia HL-60 cells. As an antioxidant, Garcinol is a voracious free radical scavenger and has been found to be beneficial against ulcers.

Let us now see how Ayurveda and local health systems use kokum. We have already seen that it is deemed to be beneficial for digestion and this resonates with what modern research has shown. Since kokum also has an astringent quality, Ayurveda also uses it to treat dysentery. The famed kokum juice is renowned for its cooling and pitta balancing qualities. To combat hyperacidity, just add salt to the sweet beverage. A decoction of kokum rind is prescribed for treating rheumatism, which results, as we know, from inflammation. In cases of gastro-intestinal disorders too this is advised. Ayurveda also prescribes kokum for the treatment of ear infections. Being anti-fungal, it is also used to treat intestinal parasites.

Kokum has many more therapeutic uses. According to the book published by The Konkan Fruit Fest, the xanthone found in the fruit’s pericarp has no less than 28 health benefits, some of which we have already seen. We may add that it is also anti-neuralgic, helpful for gum diseases as well as in glaucoma.

Turning our attention to the seeds of Kokum, we see that they contain 23 to26 per cent of oil which remains solid at room temperature as it has a high melting point. This property makes it an ideal choice for cosmetic and confectionery uses. Kokum butter is very effective in relieving cracked heels. Given its non-greasy but emollient texture, it gets easily absorbed by the skin, and as it is not easily oxidised and contains vitamin E, it is a very popular additive in creams and lotions. The confectionery industry uses it specifically for manufacturing chocolates given that its high melting point makes it suitable for warmer climates.

From the culinary perspective, kokum, known by various names according to different regions, is used across diverse regions. One of the most popular preparations is that of solkadi, a Goan speciality in which coconut milk and kokum are used. It can be had as a drink after meals to aid digestion or along with rice and vegetables. To prepare it, you need to soak 10 to 12 kokum rinds in 1/2 cup of water for about half an hour, then squeeze them and add 2 cups warm water as well as 2 cups coconut milk; add salt and temper with mustard seeds, cumin, garlic, asafoetida and red chillies. Rasam can also be made by omitting coconut milk. Whenever a recipe calls for tamarind, you can replace it with Malabar tamarind.

To conclude, we would like to say that in focussing only on one aspect of something, for example, the weight loss property of Garcinia we miss out on the larger picture. Instead of reaching out for various supplements, let us make food our nutraceuticals.

World-renowned seed activist Vandana Shiva and Navdanya Director Maya Goburdhun believe in the power of local superfoods. Navdanya is actively involved in the rejuvenation of indigenous knowledge, culture and forgotten foods

source: / The Hindu / Home> Features> MetroPlus  / by Vandana Shiva  &  Maya Goburdhun / November 21st, 2014