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New Delhi—Bypassing the big supermarkets, Harsh Chopra is browsing through the shelves of a neighborhood store that stocks products of a company launched by a yoga guru.
She wants to pick up toiletries and food items like biscuits because she believes they do not contain chemicals.
“In my daily life, I prefer natural products, even soap and everything. There are so many shampoos, but I prefer this soap with ‘reetha’ (soap nuts) and all these things,” Chopra explained.
The 50-year-old orange-clad, long-bearded, Baba Ramdev has long been a household name in India as the guru who popularized yoga through a television show. Now, tapping into growing demand for products that are herbal and organic, he is building a fast growing consumer goods company that has multinationals taking notice.
Pitching the products as healthy and based on India’s ancient knowledge system of ayurveda, Baba Ramdev is the clear frontrunner among Indian gurus who are no longer content with preaching spiritualism, but have forayed into the world of commerce in one of the world’s big retail markets.
In modern factories located in a sprawling facility in the northern, holy city of Haridwar, Patanjali Ayurveda churns out about 500 products ranging from soaps, shampoos, cookies, honey, health drinks, fruit juices and flour. Items like breakfast cereal, instant noodles and muesli cater to urban consumers.
The range of products offered by Patanjali include those in demand by modern urban consumers such as cereal and muesli. (VOA)
Their success, said Patanjali managing director Acharya Balkrishna, comes by providing people with an alternative.
“We have taken the ayurvedic concept and given it to consumers in a way that modern day consumers require. If we had to make toothpaste or shampoo, we thought what are the maximum herbs we can put inside,” he said.
Helping the company is the fact that many of the goods cost less compared to similar ones in the market.
Retail consultants say Patanjali has successfully leveraged the growing concern among consumers about products that contain synthetics.
For Mumbai-based brand expert Harish Bijoor the company is at the right place at the right time. “When there is an option which is all about being holistic, clean, good for the environment, good for the body, good for the mind, then people tend to say this is a no brainer and I must switch,” he said.
The company recorded sales of $300 million in the financial year that ended in March 2015. Estimates suggest that could have doubled in the past year.
Calling Patanjali one of the “most spectacular arrivals” in the consumer goods market in recent times, Arvind Singhal, head of the retail consultancy Technopak, said big consumer companies now see it as a contender to be reckoned with.
“Even six months ago, probably they were not looking at the same kind of attention as they are doing now. But when the numbers start to come out in the public domain, anyone who was not taking them seriously would now be taking them very seriously,” Singhal said.
FILE – Indian yoga guru Baba Ramdev drinks a fruit juice offered by children to break his fast in New Delhi, India, August 14, 2012.
Baba Ramdev is not the only Indian holy man tapping into the country’s huge consumer market. In what has been dubbed a trend toward spiritual capitalism, some others are beating the same path, though they have not achieved the same scale.
Another guru, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, last month launched his own line of organic food products. In southern India, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar makes products such as toothpaste and shampoo.
These holy men insist they are not in manufacturing for the profit. Saying that he has no stake in the company he promotes, Baba Ramdev, a self-avowed nationalist, said he wants the nation to become healthier and wants to promote goods made in India to keep the country’s wealth at home.
But he has sometimes attracted controversy for positions he has taken — for example opposing homosexuality and sex education in schools. Many were outraged when he said recently that only the rule of law restrains him from beheading anyone who refuses to say a nationalist chant, “Bharat Mata ki Jai” (“Hail Mother India”).
Such controversies have put off some people, like Suhasini Sood in New Delhi.
“I don’t feel he has projected himself in a manner that I can trust, so that has sort of translated into the company’s products as well,” she said.
The launch of Patanjali noodles last year was accompanied by a controversy over whether the company had the necessary permissions (VOA)
Patanjali too has come under some scrutiny. Its launch of noodles last year came amid allegations that necessary approvals were not obtained – reports the company denied. A recent government laboratory in Uttar Pradesh state said that Patanjali noodles was one among three brands in which they found higher than permitted ash content in the taste-maker.
Acharya Balkrishna insists the company is keeping an eye on its product line as it prepares to build many more factories to cope with demand. “As we go ahead we will ensure that we have our own set-up and our production will be in-house. From cultivation to procurement, until the end user, we have our own network,” he said.
Experts caution that maintaining quality will be vital. Brand consultant Bijoor said the road ahead will be good “provided he is able to occupy the high ground of quality and the high ground of being consistent in what he is offering. Even one small error, one small mistake, could create havoc for Patanjali.”( VOA)
Along with the undeniable natural beauty, the Kashmir valley has developed a reputation for adventurous activities like trekking, hiking, and river rafting. Kashmir has maintained its charm, allowing us to time-travel into beautiful destinations which make one forget about the stress and worries of life. The hikes in Kashmir offer adventurers to go on a self-discovery trip through nature's lap over the mountains while taking in the breathtaking scenery that surrounds them on their journey. In addition to the hikes, there are many thrilling adventure activities, like rock climbing, rope climbing, etc. Trekking across the region of mountains and lakes will allow you to experience living in the "Paradise on Earth," and you wouldn't want to return to your regular life after that.
The following are some of the finest hiking destinations in Kashmir:
#1: Kashmir Great Lakes Trek: You will be transported to a heavenly and unseen aspect of Kashmir on the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek. In addition to three high-altitude passes and five river valley crossings, this is the only trip in the Himalayas that includes seven alpine lakes, each of which is a stunning shade of green, blue, or turquoise. The extravagance is limitless and breathtakingly stunning every day: infinite blue sky, a larger-than-life backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, colourful meadows overflowing with wildflowers, river crossings are just a few examples of what you will encounter during the trek.
You will be transported to a heavenly and unseen aspect of Kashmir on the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek. | Photo by prayer flags on Unsplash
#2: Sonamarg-Vishansar-Bandipora Trek: The Sonamarg-Vishansar-Bandipora trek is a one-of-a-kind experience that provides a glimpse into Kashmir's undiscovered regions. Sonamarg, famously known as the Meadows of Gold, is the starting point for this fascinating journey that is the perfect experience for anyone looking to get away from the frantic tourist rush. This trek is a fascinating journey that allows nature enthusiasts to bask in the splendour of nature's grandeur. The trek goes over many high mountain passes, some as high as 4000 metres in elevation. The hiking route, in addition to providing breathtaking views of the magnificent Vishansar Lake, provides visitors with the chance to see more than 50 alpine lakes.
Sonamarg, famously known as the Meadows of Gold, is the starting point for this fascinating journey. | Photo by YASER NABI MIR on Unsplash
ALSO READ: Top 10 Beautiful Sights To VIsit In Kashmir
#3: Tral-Narastan-Marsar Trek: The Tral-Narastan-Marsar trek is filled with a range of exciting experiences from beginning to end. The hiking trail passes past a waving saffron field, beautiful meadows, and several streams. The path also crosses the Dachigam National Park, where there is an opportunity to see various animal species. Trekkers may take in spectacular views of the high mountains running parallel to them as they cut and pass through Narastan, a Hindu pilgrimage place.
The Tral-Narastan-Marsar trek is filled with a range of exciting experiences from beginning to end. | Wikimedia Commons
#4: Chhatargul-Mahlish-Gangabal: The journey, which passes through beautiful locations such as Chattargul, Mahlish, Kolsar, and Trunkul, provides a peek into an utterly uninhabited wilderness of Kashmir. There are lakes and meadows adorned with flowers along the route as one trek into the alpine wilderness. Trekkers can also enjoy fishing in the crystal clear lakes, camping, or just seeing towering snow-capped mountains while on their journey.
There are lakes and meadows adorned with flowers along the route as one treks into the alpine wilderness. | Wikimedia Commons
#5: Kolahoi Base Camp Trek: The Kolahoi Base Camp trek in Kashmir has been famous since the early 1900s and has been a goal for many seasoned hikers from across the world. While Srinagar serves as the beginning point for the trip, it is in Aru Valley that the actual hiking begins. The Kolahoi Base Camp Trek is a gentle adventure that is ideal for novices and families with children. The breathtaking sight of the peaks rising into the sky on the horizon of the Pirpanjal and Karakoram ranges is certainly worth capturing. It is considered to be one of the most popular treks in the Kashmir valley.
he Kolahoi Base Camp Trek is a gentle adventure that is ideal for novices and families with children. | Wikimedia Commons
Kashmir's natural splendour, with its beautiful valleys and towering mountains, is really unlike anywhere. Trekking through various valleys and peaks while taking in the scenic beauty is something that always calms the heart and provides us with memories that we will remember for a lifetime.
Keywords: Kashmir, Lakes, Alpine, Hiking, Trekking, Treks, Sonamarg, Gangabal, Kolahoi, Chhatargul, Mahlish, Tral, Narastan, Marsar
The Pitru Paksha starts after the Full Moon day, and this day marks the beginning of the waning phase of the Lunar cycle. This event is roughly of 15-day period, and is of great significance. From this day, rituals like Tarpan or Tarpanam and Shradh are carried out to pay respects to dead relatives and ancestors.
It is believed that from the very first day till the last day, the unhappy souls of the deceased return to the Earth to see their family members. So, in order to ensure that the dead attain Moksha, i.e. to get liberation, family members of these souls quench their thirst and satisfy their hunger by performing the Pind Daan, which includes offering food consisting of cooked rice and black sesame seeds. The literal meaning of Pind Daan is the act of satisfying those who no longer exist physically.
For fifteen days, prayers are offered in temples and rituals are performed to help the souls get free from the cycle of birth, life, and death, and attain salvation.
At the same time, the Pitru Paksha is also an important period for people with Pitru Dosha, which means the curse imposed by the ancestors. Hence, in order to ask forgiveness, people perform Shradh rituals and offer food to the crows, who are considered as living beings that represent the dead. It is believed, if the crow eats the offered food, the ancestors are happy and pleased. But, if the crow doesn't eat the offered food and flies away, the ancestors are not happy.
The event of Pitru Paksha is widely observed by Hindus from all over the world, and they perform prayers and rituals in order to gain their ancestors blessings.
At the heart of Bangalore city, a large 300-acre space of lush greenery and heritage stands as a symbol of the city's past, present, and future. Cubbon Park is every child's favourite park, every Bangalorean's haven of fresh air, and altogether, the city's pride.
It stands testament to the past, in terms of the diversity of flora it houses. Bangalore traffic in the recent past has grown into a menace, but the stretch between MG Road and Cubbon Park is always a pleasurable place to stop and wait for the signal to turn green. The gust of wind that blows here, and the smell of mud, coupled with floral scents instantly transports citizens to Old Bangalore, where the weather was fine, and the trees loomed over roads with thick canopies that did not even allow rainwater to penetrate. Cubbon Park is also a historical site, and one of the few remaining monuments of colonial heritage in Central Bangalore. It houses many statues and among them, the most famous is that of Queen Victoria, which faces the St. Mark's Square.
The stretch outside Cubbon Park is cool and well-shaded from the canopy of trees over it. Image source: wikimedia commons
At present, Cubbon Park is known for the cultural hub that it is. It houses Jawahar Bal Bhavan, which is a large theatre that hosts film festivals through the year. Festivals, poetry open mics, and other such shows are conducted on the lawns every Sunday. A small stream runs through the park, where boat rides are held occasionally when the water level is high enough. There is a children's park on one corner, and a government-maintained aquarium, two-storeys tall, with exotic fish.
The Park has been renamed many times in the past. It was originally named Meade's Park, after Sir John Meade, the acting commissioner of Mysore in 1870. It was later changed to Cubbon Park after Sir Mark Cubbon, who was the longest-serving commissioner of the Mysore state. In 1927, the park was renamed after the Mysore Maharaja Sri Krishna Wodeyar, to celebrate his silver jubilee, since the park was developed during the reign of his ancestors. Even though it is officially named Sri Chamrajendra Park, it is still known as Cubbon Park all over the city. In fact, Bangalore was alluded the sobriquet of 'Garden City' because of the rich botanical diversity of this park.
Art Installation at Cubbon Park Image source: wikimedia commons
In many parts of the country, governments have renamed structures, places, and cities to remove traces of colonialism. But, in a city like Bangalore, there is too much evidence of the British rule. Many of the most prominent attractions of the city are known by their British identities despite the change in name. Even the city's name continues to be Bangalore, despite having been changed to Bengaluru. Last year, the British era and its achievements were celebrated in Cubbon Park when Sir Mark Cubbon's statue was moved from the grounds of the Karnataka High Court and placed in the Park.
Keywords: Cubbon Park, Mark Cubbon, British Colonialism, Cultural hub, Garden City