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Monthly Archives: December 2015

  • AN ACADEMIC LIBRARY FOR ALL!

    An academic library, nesting about 20,000 books, set up at the second floor of a residential home at Perungudi in Chennai for the benefit of ‘serious and committed’ research scholars and other students is the talk of the town!

    Img Credit - The Hindu Img Credit - The Hindu

    Most retired people secure their future with the money they get from provident funds and other retirement benefits. But for some people, the story is different and more selfless. Dr. V. Arasu, the former head of the Tamil Department of University of Madras, who, because of paucity of time and money could not realize his dream of setting up a library before has used his savings to do what the have always wanted to do.

    Dr. Arasu has always had great passion for books. He has been collecting books since 1970, when he was a college student. In spite of facing difficulties in keeping them safely in his rented houses, he has been doing so. Upon retirement, instead of using his benefits for securing his future like most people do, he spent Rs. 15 lakh for establishing the academic library at his home.

    This library has almost 15000 books in Tamil and approximately 5000 books in English. Most of them are based on the Tamil literature and culture. His collection of books also includes all the dictionaries published in Tamil, literary magazines which generate new trends in the Tamil literature, mementos on the Tamil scholars such as R. P. Sethu Pillai, U. V. Swaminatha Iyer etc. and also books on Eelam literature.

    The students are not only welcome to study from the wonderful collection, they are also welcome to stay in the separate room created by him in the library. Not only this, they can even have food prepared at Dr. Arasu’s home.

     All these facilities are provided by him to the students so that they are able to study in a congenial atmosphere. Heads bow in respect for such selfless personalities, who instead of caring for their own comforts, work for the better education of the children and therefore for the upliftment of the country at large!

  • THE DELICATE ART OF MEENAKARI

    The beautiful art of Meenakari was invented by the Iranian craftsmen of the Sasanied era. It was spread to India and other parts of the world by the Mongols.

    The word ‘Mina’ actually means the radiant colors of heaven. It is actually the art of coloring the surfaces of metals with beautiful colors and decorating it with intricate designs. Traditionally, Meenakari is done on gold as it holds the enamel better and longer and its luster enhances the beauty of the colors used in the jewellery. Meenakari is also done on silver. Artifacts such as bowls, spoons, boxes, decoration pieces and even jewellery, made of silver are adorned with the delicate work of Meenakari. Sometimes,copper too is used for Meenakari work.

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    For the Meenakari work, the surface is first cleaned properly, and then the designs are engraved on the metal, which is then filled with the desired colors in powder form. Then it is placed in a furnace; (which has the temperature of approximately 850 degrees Celsius) so that the colors of the Meenamelt, fuse and harden. It is then rubbed with a mixture of lemon and tamarind, so as to bring out the luster of the colors.

    Jaipur_Enamelers Image Credit - wikipedia

    The enamel colors that are used are made by mixing powdered glass in a very small amount with metal oxides. For colors such as white and ivory,a mixture of potash, hydrated iron oxide and carbonate of zinc is used. For yellow -chromate of potash is used; for violet - carbonate of manganese is used; for blue - cobalt oxide; for green - copper oxide; for brown - red oxide; and black color is obtained from manganese, iron and cobalt. These enamel colors are widely manufactured in Amritsar (Punjab), Germany or France.

    The beauty and durability of the work depends on the artist’s precision and the duration for which it is heated.This delicate and lovely art of Meenakari is unique and worth appreciation and it has a large fan following all over the world.

  • WHEN THE RAIN GODS UNLEASHED THEIR POWER

    Delay in monsoon compels the people of various faiths to appease the rain gods in their own special way. As per the rituals, abhishekham, japam and parayana are performed by the Hindus. The Varunajapam and VarunaSukta Parayana are performed at the abode of Goddess Kanakadurga for four days and then on the fifth day, Sahasraghata Kalasabhishekam is done. Lord Varuna causes the rain to come down and makes the rivers flow.He sends down streaks of lightening. Along with Mitra, Varun sends down the ‘rain flood’; as they both are Lords of Heaven.

    Img Credit - wikipedia Img Credit - wikipedia

    Indra is considered as the ‘King of Gods’ and also ‘God of Weather and War’ as per the Hindu Mythology. In the Rigveda, Indra is referred to as the God of thunder and rain, and he battles with the water obstructing demon of the dark skies (which is symbolical of the clouds), named Vritra, with his weapon (lightening) and finally releases the cows (water), which he had captured. The rainbow is called the bow of Indra or ‘Indradhanus’.

    Maraimman is the South Indian goddess of rain. Goddess Maraimman is worshipped mainly to bring rain and cure diseases like cholera, chicken pox and small pox.

    To look at the recent Chennai rains and floods from a religious perspective, one may perhaps believe that the rain gods unleashedtheir fury.As per the Chennai weather forecast by NASA, the Chennai rain broke 100 year old record this year as hundreds of casualties and deaths were being reported. The heavy rains in Chennai disrupted transport services and the entire city came to a standstill. But what was worth noting was the exceptional unity shown by the flood victims as they helped each other in the hour of need.Post the commendable relief operations provided by themilitary, Chennai is still grappling its way back to life in many parts of the city.

    Our heart goes out to the distressed people and we extend our condolences to the people who lost their dear ones to the wrath of nature.

  • KAVADI FESTIVAL

    The festival of Kavadi Attam is a religious folk dance which is celebrated by the Hindus of Tamil Nadu. The name Kavadi Attam, literally means ‘Burden dance’. In this festival, Lord Murugan, the God of War is worshipped.

    The word, ‘Kavadi’ means ‘burden’. Lord Murugan is worshipped by making ceremonial sacrifices and offerings to pray to him to help them ward off their debts and to be saved from any kind of calamity. The Kavadi may vary in shape and size and it has rice, milk or anything that the devotee would like to offer to Lord Murugan.

    Image Credit - wikipedia Image Credit - wikipedia

    Devotees start preparing for the festival 48 days before the Thaipusam. To keep both their mental and physical purity intact, they consume only one vegetarian meal per day and observe complete fast a day before Thaipusam. During this, they strictly follow certain things, for example, they pray most of the time, sleep on the floor, bath in cold water, abstain from drinking, etc. to stay away from the worldly desires.

    On the day of the festival, pilgrims move on foot on the pilgrimage route i.e. from village to village, upto the Pallani hills, dancing and performing various devotional acts. They carry some kind of kavadi (burden) with them, which could be a pot of milk ortwo semicircular pieces of wood, which are bent and fixed to a cross structure, so that it can be balanced on the shoulders. The kavadi may weigh upto many kilograms. It is often beautified by using flowers, feathers and peacock feathers, which is considered to be Lord Murugan’s means of transportation.

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