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At the Prambanan temple complex near Yogyakarta (locally known as Jogja) in Indonesia, the very famous Ramayana ballet is conducted every night. In Summer the performance takes place in an open-air theatre, but in the cold winters, there are cosy indoor arrangements for the viewers.
Prambanan temple complex
The show sets in with the orchestra at the back of the stage, complete with local versions of harmonium and mridangam. Even though it can be hard for a first timer to figure out what to expect, the fascinating performance with over 200 actors in traditional costumes manages to steal hearts.
The performance is marked by dance and movement, with the characters, even the demons seemingly gliding in easy grace- there is no doubt this is a ballet performance. Even without any spoken words, the dramatic and melodic music helps the performance reach for perfection.
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The story begins with Lord Rama and Lord Lakshmana leaving for the forest, while a docile Sita is in tow. Viewers will find the story to be a little less traditional; following their path to Lanka and the end of Ravana. All the battle scenes are spectacularly executed, but Lord Hanuman in his white get-up, burning Lanka in utter flair, manages to steal the show.
In the magnificent Prambanan temple complex, the Hindu temples are dedicated to the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva provide an insight into the Hinduism out of India that we are not that familiar with. All the shrines were built in the 9th and 10th centuries, which manage to portray the intermingling of Hindu and Buddhist cultures.
Prambanan is like a forest of temples, with the tall shrines reaching towards the sky. The complex has almost 200 monuments, but very few of them have managed to defy time, most being destroyed by earthquakes over the centuries. Every temple has a significant character of its own, with intricate carving on pillars and walls, Ramayana being the central idea for most of them.
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The Prambanan temples have earned a spot on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Another highlight of a visit to Prambanan is a visit to the region of Borobudur, the world’s largest Buddhist temple in world’s largest Muslim country.
Borobudur temple is breath-taking. Decorated with over 500 Buddha sculptures and 2,500 relief panels, located on a flat hilltop overlooking the green hills of Java and active volcano Gunung Merapi, Borobudur is a stand-out Buddhist temple for sure.
Borobudur temple in Indonesia
Believed to have been built around 800 AD, the Borobudur temple has the shape of a stepped pyramid of five square bases, topped by three circular terraces. 72 miniature stupas containing a statue of Buddha encircle each of these. With the stupa peaks broken, many of these sit exposed, even though some of them are barely visible.
Borobudur was abandoned in the 14th century, staying buried under volcanic ash and foliage for hundreds of years. The credit of its discovery in 1814 goes to Stamford Raffles, the British governor of Java. It became a major tourist attraction after UNESCO stepped in for extensive renovation and preservation work.
From an aerial view, the temple resembles a lotus, which is considered holy in Buddhism. According to the stories of the travel guides, this temple in Indonesia was built as an ode to Buddha’s path towards Nirvana. Every carving at every step tells a story of the life of the great Lord.
Even after you leave Yogyakarta, the feeling stays with you. It’s really hard to forget the coexistence of faiths in the corner of Indonesia. It’s even harder to forget how easily a place can feel like home, a destination can feel so close to heart.
– prepared by Durba Mandal. Twitter: @dubumerang
Bollywood actor Abhishek Bachchan shares how he feels when people compare him with his father Amitabh Bachchan on the singing reality show 'Sa Re Ga Ma Pa'. He also requests contestant Rajshree Bag to sing a track 'Bahon Mein Chale Aao' featuring his mother Jaya Bachchan.
Abhishek said after looking at the performance of Rajshree, who is often compared with Lata Mangeshkar on the show, that she reminds him of being compared with his father. "Rajshree, whenever I have got the chance to watch the show, I've seen people compare you to Lata didi. It actually reminded me about how people compare me with my father and ask me how I feel about it."
According to him Amitabh Bachchan is a great actor in the industry and this is what he says to everyone making these comparisons. "My answer to them is that there's no greater actor in this film industry than Amitabh Bachchan and if I'm being compared to him, I am sure I must have done something good."
"Similarly, your voice has a different kind of magic like Lata ji and that's why people are comparing your voice with her. I feel you should always take this as a compliment," he concluded. 'Sa Re Ga Ma Pa' airs on Saturday and Sunday on Zee TV. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Abhishek Bachchan, Amitabh Bachchan, reality show, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, Rajshree Bag
Winters in India have always beckoned for that hot, steaming bowl of tomato and pepper rasam or the mellow, millet based Raab. Certain dishes like sarson ka saag, undhiyu, nimona pulao are winter specialites in the country. Seasonal food has always been an Indian speciality -- we switch our choice in fruits, vegetables, sometimes even grains with the onset of different season. The preference of using specific ingredients during certain climates is visible in our sweets as well. It's common to find local and traditional delicacies made of jaggery, instead of sugar during the winters. Case in point -- the Nolen Gur Rasgulla, a speciality made in Odisha and West Bengal between November to February.
Celebrity chef, Sanjeev Kapoor, strongly advocates this need of eating seasonal produce. He says, "The beauty of our food is in our seasonal usage of fruits and vegetables. If you realise, Gajar ka halwa is made aplenty during winters as this is the season when beautiful red carrots hit the market or mango pickle is made during summer, thanks to its availability. Despite people and sometimes, even me, suggesting that we should eat fresh as well as seasonal fruits and vegetables, we do not know what chemicals are sprayed on them to keep them safe while they are growing. When this produce hits the market, there isn't a certifying agency like the FSSAI that will help people understand what vegetables and fruits are free of pesticides and germs and which ones don't. Hence, the onus lies on us to make them safe for consumption. ITC's Nimwash is a good solution."
When it comes to winters, the Chef recommends eating these fruit and vegetables:
* Purple Mogri -- Mogri or Radish pods are not a common sight throughout the country. But you can spot them during the winters in local markets in northern India where women pick them up to make raitas, curries and stir fries. Rich in magnesium, calcium and copper, the vegetable is known to aid people from digestive problems.
Mogri or Radish pods are not a common sight throughout the country, but you can spot them during the winters | Pixabay
* Sweet Potato -- A re-discovered favourite, Sweet potatoes have created a space for itself in the millennial kitchen. With its diverse addition in burgers, chips and even chat, the root vegetable is filled with nutrients such as fibres and vitamins.
Sweet potatoes have created a space for itself in the millennial kitchen. | Wikimedia Commons
* Avarekalu -- Called Hyacinth beans in English, Avarekalu is a winter speciality in the south that is added to sambhar, saagu, rotis, etc. Bangalore is famed for its Averakalu mela during the winter months, where you can find these beans in dosas, Pani puri and even Jalebis! Thronged by crowds from all over the city, the food fest is a gourmand's delight.
Called Hyacinth beans in English, Avarekalu is a winter speciality in the south that is added to sambhar, saagu, rotis, etc. | Wikimedia Commons
* Amla -- The Indian gooseberry is a common winter fruit found through the country. High in Vitamin C, it is known to be immunity building and extremely beneficial for the skin and hair. There are multiple ways to eat Amla -- it is pickled, made into a fruit preserve called as Murraba or even eaten by sprinkling salt over it.
The Indian gooseberry is a common winter fruit found through the country. | Pixabay
(Article originally published on IANSlife) (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: winter, Sanjeev Kapoor, chef, Indian gooseberry, Sweet Potato, Radish pods
Just three minutes of exposure to deep red light once a week, when delivered in the morning, can significantly improve declining eyesight, finds a new study. The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, found there was, on average, a 17 per cent improvement in participants' colour contrast vision when exposed to three minutes of 670 nanometre (long wavelength) deep red light in the morning and the effects of this single exposure lasted for at least a week.
However, when the same test was conducted in the afternoon, no improvement was seen. "We demonstrate that one single exposure to long wave deep red light in the morning can significantly improve declining vision, which is a major health and wellbeing issue, affecting millions of people globally," said lead author, Glen Jeffery from the University College London.
Using a provided LED device, all participants were exposed to three minutes of 670nm deep red light in the morning between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m | Photo by Hush Naidoo Jade Photography on Unsplash
For the study, the team involved a small yet significant number of participants aged between 34 and 70, had no ocular disease, completed a questionnaire regarding eye health prior to testing, and had normal colour vision (cone function). This was assessed using a 'Chroma Test' -- identifying coloured letters that had very low contrast and appeared increasingly blurred, a process called colour contrast.
Using a provided LED device, all participants were exposed to three minutes of 670nm deep red light in the morning between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. Their colour vision was then tested again three hours post exposure and 10 of the participants were also tested one week post exposure. On average there was a 'significant' 17 per cent improvement in colour vision, which lasted a week in tested participants; in some older participants, there was a 20 per cent improvement, also lasting a week.
A few months on from the first test (ensuring any positive effects of the deep red light had been 'washed out') few participants, carried out the same test in the afternoon, between 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. When participants then had their colour vision tested again, it showed zero improvement. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Deep red light, therapy, eye sight, study,chroma test