Monday December 18, 2017

All prepared for new season of Sabarimala festival

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Sabarimala: All arrangements are ready for the beginning of the two-month Sabarimala temple festive season, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said on Saturday.

Chandy told IANS that he was at the pilgrim centre a few days ago to review the arrangements and felt happy with what was being organised for this season.

“We have spent Rs.62 crores in the past few months for increasing the facilities for the smooth pilgrimage. A new parking facility has been created for over 4,000 vehicles. A new waste treatment plant has also been commissioned,” he said.

Chandy pointed out that the temple receives more non-Keralites than Keralites during the two months and for that the government has allotted five acres of land to each of the south Indian states.

“Karnataka has already taken possession of the land while Telangana will sign the agreement soon, while the other two states Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are expected to do it shortly,” Chandy said.

He said these states would have the freedom to build guest houses and post their officials.

“Through this arrangement, we expect that people from these south Indian states will get better facilities and service from their own officials,” Chandy added.

The sanctum sanctorum of the Sabarimala temple opens its doors on Monday evening, signalling the commencement of welcoming devotees from early Tuesday. It coincides with the first day of the Malayalam month of “Vrishickam”.

Situated on the mountain ranges of the Western Ghats at an altitude of 914 metres above sea level, Sabarimala temple is four kilometres uphill from Pamba in Pathanamthitta district, around 100 km from Thiruvananthapuram.

The temple, which bars the entry of women who have attained puberty, is accessible only on foot from Pamba.

The practice among many pilgrims before setting off for the holy shrine is to undertakes an intense 41-day penance where they do not wear sandals, wear a black dhoti and eat only vegetarian food.

Each pilgrim carries a kit (lrumudi) that contains coconuts broken just before climbing the 18 steps. A pilgrim carries it on his head during the pilgrimage and without it, nobody is allowed to step onto the holy 18 steps at the Sannidhanam.

(IANS)

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Diwali Puja 2017: Everything You Need To Know About Timings, Muhurat

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Ganesh-Lakshmi are worshipped
Ganesh-Lakshmi are worshipped by devotees on the day of Diwali. Pixabay

New Delhi, October 18, 2017: Diwali is around the corner and everyone is busy with the preparations. On the eve of Diwali, the most important ritual is to perform Ganesh-Lakshmi Puja during the right muhurat (time) and with the right rituals(vidhi).

Here are some of the things you must take care of:

Ganesh-Lakshmi Puja Rituals

It is important that on the day of Diwali, you wake up early in the morning and pay homage to your ancestors and worship gods of your family. It is advised to observe a day-long-fast until the Ganesh-Lakshmi puja is performed in the evening.

Kalash pujan
Ganesh-Lakshmi Puja kalash. Wikimedia

Preparations For Ganesh-Lakshmi Puja

Families can embellish their home and office with Asoka and Marigold flowers, banana and mango leave on the day of the puja. Mangal Kalash covered with unpeeled coconut should be placed at both side of the main entrance of your house.

For puja preparation, place at the right hand side a red cloth on a hoisted platform and put in idols of Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesh on it after gracing them with jewellery and clothes. Once this is done, Navgraha gods must be placed on the left hand side on a hoisted platform under white cloth. Prepare carefully nine slots of Akshata (unbroken rice) for placing Navgraha on white cloth and sixteen slots of wheat must prepared for the red cloth. You should perform puja with all the important rituals.

Idols of Ganesh-lakshmi are being worshipped on the eve of Diwali. Wikimedia

Timings (Muhurat) for Lakshmi Puja

Pradosh Kaal muhurat is the time during which puja needs to be performed. It starts after sunset and lasts for about 2 hours and 24 minutes. Goddess Lakshmi will stay in your home if you perform Lakshmi puja in the Pradosh Kaal when it is Sthir Lagna time. Sthir refers to ‘immovable.’  Before you do the puja, make sure you find out Pradosh Kaal (time) for your city or area. It is important that you know the right time to perform the puja.

– prepared by Siddheshwar Sharma. Twitter: @MancSiddheshwar

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‘Janaraksha Yatra Kerala’ Witnesses escalating BJP-Left Confrontation

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Amit Shah, President of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Amit Shah, President of the Bharatiya Janata Party. Wikimedia

Hurling anti-left maneuver during Janaraksha Yatra Kerala, Indian BJP National President Amit Shah launched serious allegation against the ruling CPM government for triggering political violence and imputed to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan the culpability for the mass killings of party workers in the state.

The BJP Chief traced back the origin of violence-centric politics in ”God’s Own Country” to the inception of the Communist regime. “Left always paralyses the state it rules. West Bengal and Tripura witnessed similar political vehemence under the CPM government”, elucidated the President.

Criticizing the Human Rights Activists of the nation, Amit Shah pointed out that they are very selective when it comes to what they support. “You turn your eyes away when our workers die. Why is there no march in Delhi? Violence has no color. More than 120 workers of the BJP have succumbed due to political violence so far. What was their fault? They were working for the betterment of Kerala”, complained the BJP Chief.

Acclaiming BJP’s ideology enthusiastically, Shah called upon the people to join as workers. Addressing the gathering at ‘Janaraksha Yatra Kerala’, the President added that family members of the deceased have stood by the BJP and he wouldn’t let the martyrdom of the workers go waste.

Amit Shah inaugurated the ‘Janaraksha Yatra Kerala’ at Payyannur to protest against alleged killings of party workers. The “padayatra” was led by the party’s State President Kummanam Rajashekhharan.

The National President of BJP attributed the diminishing power of the CPM to their increasing reliance on political violence. Apart from CPM, the once dominating Congress is also losing momentum thereby giving BJP the opportunity to flourish with their ideology. “More the mud of violence, more the lotus will bloom” added Shah.

The BJP Chief assured his party workers and volunteers that BJP would fight the war with CPM until emerging victorious. Shah declared, “We must all unite against the rule of the Left Government.”

Shortly after the launching of the yatra, three BJP workers adorning the National Highway 66 were ambushed by anonymous men on Monday. During his address, Shah alleged that the assailants were CPM cadres who have also destroyed BJP flags in the area.

Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is ready to augment the saffron stand with his visit to Kerala on Wednesday. As per the report of Times Now, Adityanath will basically be in the Muslim-dominated district of Mallapuram.

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Line Up of Mouth-watering Kolkata Eateries this Durga Puja

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Indian bengali food on Durga Puja
Indian bengali food.

Kolkata, Sep 19, 2017: From traditional local delicacies like fresh river prawns cooked in coconut cream and hilsa in pineapple gravy to international dishes such as Caribbean chicken steak or fish in hoisin sauce, city eateries are gearing up to woo revellers during Bengal’s biggest carnival, the Durga Puja.

The metropolis’ fine dining hubs have spiced up their menus with buffets, mostly including lavish platters — both traditional and continental — ahead of the festival, set to be celebrated between September 26 and 30.

The Taj Bengal, a landmark hotel in the heart of south Kolkata, will keep its doors open round-the-clock during the Puja days, exhibiting mouth-watering spreads for brunch, lunch and dinner.

The Sonargaon outlet will have on its menu narkel diye cholar dal (Bengal gram tempered with cumin, coconut shavings and ginger), Sonargaon chingri malai curry (fresh river prawns cooked in coconut cream), sorse bata illish (river hilsa cooked in mustard sauce), and pabnar murgi (chicken morsels cooked in onion-based gravy with a hint of radhuni seeds).

While the chingri and hilsa thali will cost Rs 2,900 per head, non-vegetarian gourmands will have to shell out Rs 2,500 for a sumptuous meal at the eatery. For vegetarians, the price will come down to Rs 2,200.

For those who want to try something that is not cooked at home on a regular basis, The Hub, the hotel’s multi-cuisine restaurant, offers a range of continental and Indian dishes like murgh badami shorba, Kabuli pulao, phulkopir paturi, mozzarella melt, prawn and mascarpone pie.

For dessert, foodies can spoil themselves with gajjar halwa sita bhog and dry fruit milk cake. The buffet will have unlimited cocktails and mocktails all tucked into a price tag of Rs 2,450.

At Novotel Kolkata Hotels and Residences, in the heart of Kolkata’s IT hub in Rajarhat, the breakfast assortment during the Puja days includes bhog khichudi, heeng kachori, aloor dum and jalebi.

The pocket pinch here would be within Rs 1,300 — with breakfast priced at Rs 900, lunch at Rs 999 and dinner for Rs 1,299.

For a filling lunch on Ashtami (September 28) afternoon, look no further than the hotel’s Studio restaurant, the pan-Asian galerie serving sorshe illish, illish paturi, chingri malai curry, kosha mangsho, narkel bata chingri, mangsher kofta pulao, pui sager chorchori, channar kalia and toker dal among many mouth-watering dishes.

“Traditional delicacies will be the focus. Somehow we have seen during the Durga Puja days just everyone wants to eat Bengali food,” Neelabh Sahay, Executive Chef of Novotel, told IANS.

People eager for a different flavour can try the Afra Tafri on Camac street, a posh and bustling south Kolkata locality.

From pan-fried fish with chilli basil sauce to Caribbean chicken steak, fish in hoisin sauce, and cottage cheese garlic, this gastropub will also be easy on the pocket. The buffet price is kept at Rs 699, inclusive of all taxes.

“Keeping in mind the various ways of satisfying the food lover’s taste buds, we introduced the contemporary festive buffet which will be available at Afra Tafri on the festive days of Durga Puja,” Chef Mohammad Feroz Hussain said.

Also Read: This Durga Puja Brings Narratives of Communal Harmony 

Before you burp, for those who have a sweet tooth, Park Plaza in South Kolkata’s Ballygunge will offer chhana toast from Krishnagar in Nadia district and langcha from Tarapith, a small temple town near Rampurhat in Birbhum district.

“We want our customers to get the original flavour. That’s why we will bring the sweets from where they belong,” Chef Gautam Kumar told IANS.

There will also be “chat contests” for those who will avail the buffet priced at Rs 999 for lunch and Rs 1,199 for dinner.

Back on Camac Street, the gastropub Monkey Bar has lined up a specially curated “thaala meal” of home-style Bengali delicacies specially curated by Kolkata-based home chef, food critic and passionate foodie Iti Misra. The offerings come in three variants — vegetarian, fish and chicken — at a price range of Rs 999 to Rs 1,299.

(Debayan Mukherjee can be contacted at debayan.m@ians.in)

(IANS)