7 Interesting things about Betel nut(Tamul) In Assam.

By Keya Dutta

1. Auspicious: In Assam, betel nut are traditionally offered as a mark of respect and auspicious beginnings. It is a tradition to offer pan-tamul (betel leaves and raw areca nut) to guests, after tea or meals, served in a brass plate with stands called bota. Among the Assamese, the areca nut also has a variety of uses during religious and marriage ceremonies, where it has the role of a fertility symbol.

2. Invitation : A tradition from Upper Assam is to invite guests to wedding receptions by offering a few areca nuts with betel leaves. During Bihu, the husori players are offered areca nuts and betel leaves by each household while their blessings are solicited.

3. Refreshment: A customary Paan-Tamul (Betel nut leaf- Betel nut) is offered to guests after the end of every Bhoj[feast]. This is usually the Saadaa-Paan-Tamul-Soon (Slacked lime) with cardamom pods in it to freshen the breath.

3. Play with areca nut leaf:04310-028playing Children in most of the villages Assam, play with areca nut leaf. It’s been existed in India since Medieval time till now and many people of my age group to old age can passionatelyrelate to this unsophisticated,  unwheeled zigzag, pulling car of which is a blessing of mother nature.

4. Sarota:2017012418235726065
Sarota is betel nut cutter carries the distinct design of all time. This exquisite piece is a treat for collectors and makes for a wonderful decor accent.

5. Peek(Colourful spitting):

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PEEK

It’s little disgusting to step on or watching over the views of every walls on streets of Assam “famous spewing the gross ‘Peek’ (liquid residue) after chewing Paan (Betel Leaf and nut)”

** However,  it is a common problem in many cities and towns of Northern India too. Government and Public both are equally working on the banning of ‘Peek
6. Health Benefits : It is believed to be healthy too.  It gives people a buzz equivalent to six cups of coffee and is used variously as a symbol of love, marriage and a cure for indigestion and impotence and prevent tooth decay.
7. Employment: Assam-based natural dinnerware producer Tamul Plates Marketing Pvt. Ltd. is pleased to announce that it has received a seed investment from Upaya Social Ventures through Upaya’s LiftUP Project. Based in the Barpeta District of Assam, Tamul Plates produces and markets high-quality, all-natural disposable plates and bowls made from arecanut (palm) tree leaves under the “Tambul Leaf Plates” brand.

**Caution:

Worryingly, the International Agency for Research on Cancer lists each ingredient, with the exception of cardamom and cinnamon, as a known carcinogen – or cancer-causing agent.

The slaked lime is seen as a particular problem as it causes hundreds of tiny abrasions to form in the mouth. This is thought to be a possible entry point for many of the cancer-causing chemicals.

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Yoga, Wellness, Rejuvenation and travel Programme -Explore North East India

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Historic neighbourhood

7 years in Secunderabad 

What started as an exclusive preserve of the army in the British Raj has now turned into a city in its own right. And a beautiful one at that. Let’s take you through a tour of Secunderabad, the twin.

Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of England during World War II, was posted in Secunderabad during the 1880s as a subaltern. He lived in a bungalow, surrounded by a large compound. It is still pointed out to visitors. He was very conscious of the fact that he and his colleagues were in Secunderabad to keep guard on the Nizam and the Old City of Hyderabad. They were convinced that it contained “all the scoundrels of Asia.” Legend has it that Churchill’s unit was transferred at such short notice that he was unable to settle his outstanding bill with the Secunderabad Club. This document is supposed to have become a part of the Club’s archives.

The Army still has a substantial presence in Secunderabad, which was founded at the end of the 18th century as a British cantonment. The Nizam of Hyderabad and the East India Company signed a deed of Subsidiary Alliance for military and political cooperation, to make this possible.

In terms of geographical area and population, the Secunderabad cantonment is said to be the biggest in India and also one of the largest in Asia. The infrastructure management and administration of the civilian areas in the cantonment are looked after by the Board. As per the Cantonment Act of 2006, Secunderabad cantonment is classified as a Class-I cantonment.

 

Mawlynnong: Asia’s Cleanest Village

Mawlynnong: Asia’s Cleanest Village

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Is your mind conjuring images of Japan or Singapore on reading the words ‘Asia’s cleanest village’? I will tell you what all it has to offer besides the cleanliness it is known for ~

Raw and still fairly untouched by the ways of cities, the areas around the village promise some good treks. And walking tour (guided) is also the best way to discover the sights and stories of little Mawlynnong, home to about 95 families. Located in the state of Meghalaya, India. Mawlynnong, also referred as ‘God’s own garden’ has won the acclaim of being the cleanest village in Asia in 2003.It was again declared the cleanest village in India in 2005. The village known for its cleanliness is located around 90 kms from Shillong and is a community based eco-tourism initiative. The community has made collective effort to maintain the ambiance of a clean village.
The adage “Neighbors envy, owners pride’ is apt for Mawlynnong as it has earned the distinction of being one of the cleanest villages in Asia, a fact that every Mawlynnong villager is proud of and other villagers are envy of.
The village is quite pretty, especially in the monsoons when there is lush greenery all around, with waterfalls paving the way to small streams and abundance of flowering orchids dangling from the trees and hedges add to the beauty of the village.

Manuscripts and stone inscription of Assam

Though Manuscripts and inscriptions from any era, any history always captivate me, but I am laying the first stone on Scriptures from North-Eastern Province of India a state called Assam. There are two reasons for that -My first reason is to highlight Assam’s History, the one in question of it’s wellspring been very much untold. My second reason is I am inhabitant of Assam, though I am not living there for past couple of years.

 

Colombo,Buddhism and Elephant

Colombo fascinated me by simplicity of the people, and the roads cleanliness…even a stray piece of trash will surprise you, serene beaches, local boys playing football so passionately, Buddhist temples and their architecture is a mix of Sri Lankan, Thai, Indian and Chinese.

I went to Colombo as a Business Development manager from my ex-company, though my ever wayfarer soul didn’t left any chance to explore the city even it was a two days trip.

1st day: 5 Am (IST) I still have 4 hours to meet the client. I was craving for my morning tea. But, hotel restaurants were not opened yet. Then I remembered Dilmah a very famous Ceylon brand. Bingoo!! I found it in my hotel room kitchen.

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football paying on beaches, colombo

Finishing my exotic Dilmah cup of tea, went to the beach which is facing my hotel room. Local boys are laid back, some playing football, few kids learning scuba diving. Realized, despite being poorer county than India, Colombians (Srilanka) have no lack of zeal and finding out all opportunities that mother nature provided!

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Auto-rickshaw, Colombo

Winding up the client meeting at 4 PM, first thing galloping for a cold shower since it was little humid in mid November. Thought to visit Gangaramaya Vihara Temple which was just 7 Km away. A ride on auto-rickshaw to remember!!

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This Buddhist temple includes several imposing buildings and is situated not far from the placid waters of Beira Lake on a plot of land that was originally a small hermitage on a piece of marshy land. It has the main features of a Vihara (temple), the Cetiya (Pagada) the Bodhitree, the Vihara Mandiraya, the Seema malaka (assembly hall for monks) and the Relic Chamber. In addition, a museum, a library, a residential hall, a three storeyed Pirivena, educational halls and an alms hall are also on the premises.

Gangaramaya serves not only as a place of Buddhist worship; it is also a centre of learning. The temple is involved in Buddhist welfare work including old peoples’ homes, a vocational school and an orphanage. The temple is uniquely attractive and tolerant to congregation members of many different religions. It has also been instrumental in establishing the Buddhist temple on Staten Island (U.S.A.) the Buddhist Center in New York and the Buddhist Centre in Tanzania, thereby helping to propagate the Dhamma in other countries.

Elephant:

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Elephant Orphanage, Colombo

The Sri Lankan elephant is the largest of all the Asian elephant.  Sri Lankan elephants are highly intelligent, self-aware, social, emotional as well as strong. It is reported that they move to safer places when natural disasters occur. A classic example is that in 2004 when the tsunami hit the island, elephants that were roaming in the coastal areas at the time had moved inland moments before the tsunami reached after sensing the looming calamity.

I know the best way to observe them in wild! But, just had to visit an Elephant orphanage in post haste.

Shopping and Food: Day 2: Post meeting

Tranquilness on Mt Lavinia Beach: 

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Lavinia beach, Colombo
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Lavinia beach, Colombo

Mt Lavinia is one of Colombo’s more laidback suburbs filled with great restaurants on the golden beach and is named after Lovinia, the gypsy dancing girl who had a secret romance with one of Sri Lanka’s governors.

Some Last Minute Shopping : One of Sri Lanka’s best kept secrets is the shopping opportunities in Colombo –sleek department stores and cool shopping malls are filled with designer clothing, shoes and handbags, plus handicrafts, home furnishings and more.

 

10 Great Epics of India

          Once Indian writers got going, they kept going” 

No wonder The Mahabharata is the longest known epic poem and has been described as “the longest poem ever written”. Its longest version consists of over 100,000 shlokas(“song”, from the root śru)or over 200,000 individual verse lines (each shloka is a couplet), and long prose passages.

Undeniably India has great Epics and scriptures for ages in oodles. It is utterly my frame of reference to consider these 10 Epics stood without exception of all the time great –

1. Mahabharata:

Author: Vyasa

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Mahabharata

The Mahabharata or Mahabharata  or Mahābhāratam, is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India, the other being the Ramayana. The Mahabharata is an important source of information on development of Hinduism between 400 BCE  and 200 CE and is regarded by Hindus as both test about Dharma (Hindu Moral Law)  and history. Appearing in its present from about 400 CE, the Mahabharata mass of mythological and didactic materiel arranged around central heroic narratives that tells of the struggle for the sovereignty  between two groups of cousins, the Kauravs and Pandavas. The poem is made up almost 100, 000 couplets about seven times the length of Homer’s the Iliad and the Odyssey combined.

2. Ramayana:

Author : Sage Valmiki Ramayana

The Ramayana plays an important role in Hindu literature.  It depicts the duties of relationships, portraying ideal characters like the ideal father, the ideal servant, the ideal brother, the ideal wife and the ideal king. The name Ramayana is a tatpurusha compound of Rāma and ayana (“going, advancing”), translating to “Rama’s Journey“. The Ramayana consists of 24,000 verses in seven books and 500 cantos and tells the story of Rama (the seventh avatar of the Hindu supreme-god Vishnu), whose wife Sita is abducted by Ravana, the king of Lanka (current day Sri Lanka). Incidentally the first letter of every 1000 verses (total 24) make the Gayatri mantra. Thematically, the Ramayana explores human values and the concept of dharma (Hindu moral Law)

Verses in the Ramayana are written in a 32-syllable meter called anustubh. The Ramayana was an important influence on later Sanskrit poetry and Hindu life and culture. Like the Mahabharata, the Ramayana is not just a story: it presents the teachings of ancient Hindu sages in narrative allegory, interspersing philosophical and devotional elements. The characters Rama, Sita,Lakshman, Bharata, Hanuman and Ravana are all fundamental to the cultural consciousness of India, Nepal and many south-east Asian countries such as Thailand and Indonesia.

 3. Shakuntala:

Author: Kalidas

                       “She was surrounded in the solitude of the wilderness by śakuntas,
                       therefore, hath she been named by me Shakuntala (Shakunta-protected)”

In  the first book of the vast epic poem Mahabharata, Kalidasa found the story of Shakuntala. The story has a natural place there, for Bharata, Shakuntala’s son, is the eponymous ancestor of the princes who play the leading part in the epic.is a well-known Sanskrit play by Kalidas.

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Solitude of Shakuntala
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Bharata, Shakutala’s son

King Dushyanta first encountered Shakuntala while travelling through the forest with his army. He was pursuing a male deer wounded by his weapon. Shakuntala and Dushyanta fell in love with each other and got married as per Gandharva marriage system. Dushyanta, offered his personal royal ring to the girl as a token of his love, and left for his kingdom, promising to come back soon and take Shakuntala with him.

Shakuntala spent much time dreaming of her new husband and was often distracted by her daydreams. One day, a powerful rishi, Durvasa, came to the ashrama but, lost in her thoughts about Dushyanta, Shakuntala failed to greet him properly. Incensed by this slight, the rishi cursed Shakuntala, saying that the person she was dreaming of would forget about her altogether. As he departed in a rage, one of Shakuntala’s friends quickly explained to him the reason for her friend’s distraction. The rishi, realizing that his extreme wrath was not warranted, modified his curse saying that the person who had forgotten Shakuntala would remember everything again if she showed him a personal token that had been given to her.

4. Kama-Sutra:

Author: Vātsyāyana

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The Kama Sutra is the oldest and most notable of a group of texts known generically as Kama Shastra (Sanskrit: Kāma Śāstra).

Historians attribute Kamasutra to be composed between 400 BCE and 200 CE. John Keay says that the Kama Sutra is a compendium that was collected into its present form in the 2nd century CE.

It is largely in prose, with many inserted anustubh poetry verses. “Kāma” which is one of the fourgoals of Hindu life, means desire including sexual desire the latter being the subject of the textbook, and “sūtra” literally means a thread or line that holds things together, and more metaphorically refers to an aphorism (or line, rule, formula), or a collection of such aphorisms in the form of a manual. Contrary to popular perception, especially in the western world, Kama sutra is not exclusively a sex manual; it presents itself as a guide to a virtuous and gracious living that discusses the nature of love, family life and other aspects pertaining to pleasure oriented faculties of human life. Kama Sutra, in parts of the world, is presumed or depicted as a synonym for creative sexual positions; in reality, only 20% of Kama Sutra is about sexual positions. The majority of the book, notes Jacob Levy, is about the philosophy and theory of love, what triggers desire, what sustains it, how and when it is good or bad.

5.Gitanjali:

Author:  Nobel Prize laureate Rabindranath Tagore

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Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore

Gitanjali is a collection of poems by the Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore. The original Bengali collection of 157 poems was published on August 14, 1910.

Gitanjali” is one of Rabindranath Tagore’s best known works for which he received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913.

Many of the verses in Gitanjali are beautiful prayers written after a gut-wrenchingly painful period in Rabindranath Tagore’s life, during which he lost his father, wife, daughter and a son in quick succession. His unfathomable pain and unshaken devotion to God are captured in the moving prose-verses of Gitanjali, which Tagore dedicated as “Song Offerings”.

For a reader uninitiated in Tagore, it is my humble recommendation that they read the prose-verses of Gitanjali only after gaining familiarity with some of his other works.

When one reads the works of Tagore, one detects a clear stream of spirituality and an intense love for Nature that flows through most of his books. It is no exaggeration that the more works of Tagore one reads, the more one falls in love with this simple and beautiful poet.

He shone forth brightly his lamp of timeless wisdom of the East – that this Universe has been created out of pure love, and it is only our love for each other together with peace, justice and freedom that will sustain it. It is no wonder that in India, Rabindranath Tagore is revered as “Gurudev” – “a teacher embodying God-like knowledge”, a title conferred upon him by Mahatma Gandhi.

6. Panchatantra:

Author: Vishnu Sharma

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Panchatantra

The Panchatantra is a series of inter-woven fables, many of which involve animals exhibiting animal stereotypes. According to its own narrative, it illustrates, for the benefit of three ignorant princes, the central Hindu principles of nīti( Ethics).While nīti is hard to translate, it roughly means prudent worldly conduct, or “the wise conduct of life”. The Panchatantra discusses varied topics like philosophy, psychology, politics, music, astronomy, human relationship, etc., in a simple yet elegant style. This makes it a rare piece of literature, and a unique book. It attempts to illustrate how to understand others, how to choose reliable and trustworthy friends, how to overcome difficulties and problems through tact and wisdom. Moreover, it illustrates how to live in peace and harmony even in the midst of deceit, hypocrisy and other pitfalls in life.

These are the very objectives that the composer of Panchatantra, Pandit Vishnu Sharma, wanted to accomplish in order to provide maximum knowledge to three young princes through stories and examples. In fact, not just the princes, this most unique book has enlightened millions of readers and listeners for centuries.
It is “certainly the most frequently translated literary product of India”, and these stories are among the most widely known in the world. To quote Edgerton (1924).

there are recorded over two hundred different versions known to exist in more than fifty languages, and three-quarters of these languages are extra-Indian. As early as the eleventh century this work reached Europe, and before 1600 it existed in Greek, Latin, Spanish, Italian, German, English, Old Slavonic, Czech, and perhaps other Slavonic languages. Its range has extended from Java to Iceland… [In India,] it has been worked over and over again, expanded, abstracted, turned into verse, retold in prose, translated into medieval and modern vernaculars, and re-translated into Sanskrit. And most of the stories contained in it have “gone down” into the folklore of the story-loving Hindus, whence they reappear in the collections of oral tales gathered by modern students of folk-stories.

7. Anand Math:

Author: Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay

“In mild breeze, by the bank of the river,
                               In the forest, resides a respectable lady.”

Anandamath (first English publication title: The Abbey of Bliss) is a Bengali novel, written by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay and published in 1882. Set in the background of the Sannyasi Rebellion in the late 18th century, it is considered one of the most important novels in the history of Bengali and Indian literature. Its importance is heightened by the fact that it became synonymous with the struggle for Indian independence from the British Empire. The novel was banned by the British. The ban was lifted later by the Government of India after independence.

The book is set in 1771during famine in Bengal  Book starts with introduction to a couple- Mahendra and Kalyani, who are stuck at their village Padchinha without food and water in the times of famine. They decide to leave their village and move to the next closest city where there is a better chance of survival. During the course of events, the couple got separated and Kalyani had to run through the forest with her infant, to avoid getting caught by man-hunters. After a long chase, she loses consciousness at the bank of a river. A Hindu monk, Satyananda, stumbles upon her and the baby, and takes care of her till she reunites with her husband again.

Mahendra at this point is more inclined towards joining the brotherhood of the monks and serving the Mother Nation. Kalyani wants to help him in attaining his dreams by trying to kill herself, thereby relieving him of worldly duties. At this point, Satyananda joins her but before he can help her, he is arrested by the British soldiers, because other monks were fuelling revolt against the British rule. While being dragged away he spots another monk who is not wearing his distinctive robes and sings,

“In mild breeze, by the bank of the river,
                               In the forest, resides a respectable lady.”

8. The Arthashastra of Kautilya: 

Author: Kautilya also known as Chanakya

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Kautily’s Arthashastra

The title “Arthashastra” is often translated to “the science of politics”,but the book Arthashastra has a broader scope. It includes books on the nature of government, law, civil and criminal court systems, ethics, economics, markets and trade, the methods for screening ministers, diplomacy, theories on war, nature of peace, and the duties and obligations of a king.The text includes ancient economic and cultural details on agriculture, mineralogy, mining and metals, animal husbandry, medicine, forests and wildlife.

Arthashastra remains unique in all of Indian literature because of its total absence of specious reasoning, or its unabashed advocacy of realpolitik, and scholars continued to study it for its clear cut arguments and formal prose till the twelfth century. Espionage and the liberal use of provocative agents is recommended on a large scale. Murder and false accusations were to be used by a king’s secret agents without any thoughts to morals or ethics. There are chapters for kings to help them keep in check the premature ambitions of their sons, and likewise chapters intended to help princes to thwart their fathers’ domineering authority. However, Kautilya ruefully admits that it is just as difficult to detect an official’s dishonesty as it is to discover how much water is drunk by the swimming fish.

Kautilya helped the young Chandragupta Maurya, who was a Vaishya, to ascend to the Nanda throne in 321 BC. Kautilya’s counsel is particularly remarkable because the young Maurya’s supporters were not as well armed as the Nandas. Kautilya continued to help Chandragupta Maurya in his campaigns and his influence was crucial in consolidating the great Mauryan empire. He has often been likened to Machiavelli by political theorists, and the name of Chanakya is still reminiscent of a vastly scheming and clever political adviser. In very recent years, Indian state television, or Doordarshan as it is known, commissioned and screened a television serial on the life and intrigues of Chanakya.

9. Natya Shastra:

Author: Sage Bharata or Bharata Muni

(What is Natya Shastra?

Mostly, perhaps, we go to the theatre looking for some kind of story.  We hope to see characters with which we identify doing stuff that we care about.  Perhaps we go to the theatre to see a “slice of life” played out in a way that seems familiar.  This interest in theatre may be described as an “Aristotelian sensibility”, since Aristotle asserted that we mostly go to the theatre to see the theatre imitate the world we know outside of the theatre.)

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Make up, aspect of stagecraft
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Natya(Drama)

 

The Natya Shastra is an ancient Indian treatise on the performing arts, encompassing theatre, dance and music. It was written during the period between 200 BCE and 200 CE in classical India and is traditionally attributed to the Sage Bharata.

The Natya Shastra is incredibly wide in its scope. While it primarily deals with stagecraft, it has come to influence music, classical Indian dance, and literature as well. It coversstage design, music, dance, makeup, and virtually every other aspect of stagecraft. It is very important to the history of Indian classical music because it is the only text which gives such detail about the music and instruments of the period. Thus, an argument can be made that the Natya Shastra is the foundation of the fine arts in India. The most authoritative commentary on the Natya Shastra is Abhinavabharati by Abhinavagupta.

10. Buddhacarita:

Author: Asvaghosa

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Buddhacarita

Buddhacharita (Acts of the Buddha)is an epic poem in the Sanskrit mahakavya(great epic) style on the life of Gautama Buddha by Asvaghosa composed in the early second century CE. Of the poem’s 28 cantos, the first 14 are extant in Sanskrit complete (cantos 15 to 28 are in incomplete form).

The Buddhacarita is the most famous work of Asvaghosa, the well-known Buddhist poet-philosopher supposed to have been a contemporary of King Kaniska of the early 2nd century A.D., of the twenty-eight cantos of the epic poem a little less than half is now available in the original, but complete translations in Chinese and Tibetan have been preserved. This edition consists of three parts. The first part contains the Sanskrit text and the second the translation of the first fourteen cantos, filling up the lacunae in the Sanskrit from the Tibetan, together with an introduction dealing with various aspects of the poet’s works, with notes which discuss the many difficulties of text and translation and an Index. The third part contains translation of Cantos XV-XXVIII based on the available Tibetan and Chinese versions so as to arrive as near the meaning of Asvaghosa’s original text. The poem falls into four distinct quarters of seven cantos describing birth and youth of the hero, enlightenment after long questing, how the Buddha made his discovery by teaching available to all beings, a mission ending with a universal conquest in which the hero converts the rulers and people in many countries to the new doctrine and the events leading up to the Parinirvana of the Buddha.