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Hindu Temple in South Africa aims to install 6-meter tall statue of Lord Siva

Hindus in South Africa aim to install Lord Siva statue and hope it will help spread the spiritual message

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A Statue of Lord Siva(representative), Pixabay
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Newcastle, Mar 9, 2017: The Siva Subramanian Hindu temple located in Newcastle, South Africa is aiming to install a 6-meter tall statue (Murti) of Lord Siva.

According to the PTI report, work on the project, estimated to cost Rs. 200,000 approximately, will begin this month.Funds are being raised to meet the expenditure. Hindus, or non-hindus, all are welcome in this Hindu temple to visit and attend its events and services.

Rajan Zed, a Hindu activist has applauded the efforts of the temple leaders in realizing the majestic Murti of Lord Siva.

Zed further said that it was utmost important to pass on Hindu traditions, spirituality and concepts to future generations amidst the innumerable distractions in today’s consumerist society. Rajan stressed that our focus should be on inner search and self-realization, working towards achieving moksh (liberation), and not on the materialistic gains we run after.

Hindus and Non-Hindus are welcome in the temple alike to participate in the festivities; Source: Pixabay

Along with the worship services, Hindu festivals like Janmashtami, Navratri etc are also organised by the Siva Subramanian temple throughout the year. The Thaipusam Kavadi festival was celebrated to honour and worship Lord Muruga in the month of February. Bala Govender and Pravesh Sewlal are two of the important Temple leaders.

The goal of Hinduism is attaining Moksh. It is not only the oldest, but also the Third Largest religion in the world. It has about one billion followers.

– prepared by Nikita Saraf, Twitter: @niki_saraf

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Chocolate Ingredient Cacao Dates Back To 5,400 yrs Ago

A growing interest in cacao flavors, indicates a return to a time when chocolate wasn't just an ingredient buried in a candy bar.

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A worker holds dried cacao seeds at a plantation in Cano Rico, Venezuela. VOA

New research strengthens the case that people used the chocolate ingredient cacao in South America 5,400 years ago, underscoring the seed’s radical transformation into today’s Twix bars and M&M candies.

Tests indicate traces of cacao on artifacts from an archaeological site in Ecuador, according to a study published Monday. That’s about 1,500 years older than cacao’s known domestication in Central America.

“It’s the earliest site now with domesticated cacao,” said Cameron McNeil of Lehman College in New York, who was not involved in the research.

The ancient South American civilization likely didn’t use cacao to make chocolate since there’s no established history of indigenous populations in the region using it that way, researchers led by the University of British Columbia in Canada said.

Cacao,chocolate
-A cacao pod hangs from a tree at the Agropampatar chocolate farm co-op in El Clavo, Venezuela. VOA

But the tests indicate the civilization used the cacao seed, not just the fruity pulp. The seeds are the part of the cacao pod used to make chocolate.

Indigenous populations in the upper Amazon region today use cacao for fermented drinks and juices, and it’s probably how it was used thousands of years ago as well, researchers said.

Scientists mostly agree that cacao was first domesticated in South America instead of Central America as previously believed. The study in Nature Ecology & Evolution provides fresh evidence.

Three types of tests were conducted using artifacts from the Santa Ana-La Florida site in Ecuador. One tested for the presence of theobromine, a key compound in cacao; another tested for preserved particles that help archeologists identify ancient plant use; a third used DNA testing to identify cacao.

Chocolate
A light almond cream candy carries the initials for Russell Stover Candies in Kansas City, Kansas. VOA

Residue from one ceramic artifact estimated to be 5,310 to 5,440 years old tested positive for cacao by all three methods. Others tested positive for cacao traces as well, but were not as old.

How cacao’s use spread between South America and Central America is not clear. But by the time Spanish explorers arrived in Central America in the late 1400s, they found people were using it to make hot and cold chocolate drinks with spices, often with a foamy top.

“For most of the modern period, it was a beverage,” said Marcy Norton, a historian at the University of Pennsylvania and author of “Sacred Gifts, Profane Pleasures: A History of Tobacco and Chocolate in the Atlantic World.”

The chocolate drinks in Central America often contained maize and differ from the hot chocolate sold in the U.S. They did not contain milk, Norton said, and when they were sweetened, it was with honey.

 

cocoa, chocolate
A worker holds cocoa beans at SAF CACAO, a export firm in San-Pedro, Ivory Coast, Jan. 29, 2016. VOA

By the 1580s, cacao was being regularly imported into Spain and spread to other European countries with milk being added along the way. It wasn’t until the 1800s that manufacturing advances in the Netherlands transformed chocolate into a solid product, Norton said.

Michael Laiskonis, who teaches chocolate classes the Institute of Culinary Education, said he’s seeing a growing interest in cacao flavors, indicating a return to a time when chocolate wasn’t just an ingredient buried in a candy bar.

Also Read: Consuming Cacao May Improve Vitamin D Intake, Says Study

He said he tries to incorporate chocolate’s past into his classes, including a 1644 recipe that combines Mayan and Aztec versions of drinks with European influences.

“It’s something that’s always been transforming,” he said. (VOA)