Jallikattu is a bull-taming festival celebrated in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, on the third day of Pongal or harvest festival, which is marked as a day to worship bulls and cows for their contribution to agriculture. At the event, a bull is let loose in a fenced enclosure. Participants (usually young men) wait inside the enclosure, and when the bull is let loose, try to control it holding onto its hump or horns for as long as they can. The name of the sport is derived from the Tamil words ‘salli’ (meaning coins) and ‘kattu’ (meaning package) – a reference to a bag of coins that was tied to the bull’s horns, which the winner would take after taming the bull. […]
Have you seen people collecting garbage from rubbish dumps? Often, children do so, as well as adults. Suman More, who lives in Pune, started doing it when she was just 13. She continued this work even after she got married and had children of her own. She would work the whole day, looking for anything she could sell. She would bring some of the garbage home, and her husband and children would help separate it into various types of waste. At the end of the day, her earning would usually be just Rs.15! […]
Amartya Sen was born on November 3rd, 1933, at Shantiniketan, the University town in Bengal established by Rabindranath Tagore. It is believed that Tagore himself named the little boy. His name means ‘immortal’ – an apt name, because his work has influenced the world so much that he will always be remembered. […]
Sugarcane is first said to have been cultivated in New Guinea, around 10,000 years ago. From there, knowledge relating to cultivation of this plant spread to southeast Asia, southern China, and then India. In 510 BC, Emperor Darius of Persia invaded India where he found ‘the reed which gives honey without bees’. […]
Pongal (also known as Thai Pongal) is a four-day harvest festival celebrated in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The origins of the Pongal festival are said to date back to more than 1,000 years ago. The festival is dedicated to the Sun God, as a form of giving thanks for a bountiful harvest, and is usually celebrated in mid-January. It is one of the most important festivals for Tamil people in India and world over.
The first day or the day preceding the main Pongal festival is called ‘Bhogi’. On this day, people discard old things (which are generally burnt in bonfires), clean and paint their houses and buy new clothes. Cattle and bullocks are decked up was well. […]
On January 12th 1863, a son was born to the upper middle-class Datta family in Calcutta. They named him Narendranath. He grew up to become a very important figure in India and abroad. We now know him as Swami Vivekananda.
As a young man, Narendranath got interested in social reform, and worked against evils like child marriage. He became a disciple of Shri Ramakrishna, a famous sage who tried to show that all religions are essentially the same. […]
Cashmere, a type of fine woolen fabric, is made from the processing of the hair of a goat named Capra Hircus, which lives on the Tibetan highlands, in the Himalayas and principally in Mongolia. The animal produces a particularly fine wool that is soft and warm, which protects it from the harshness of winter (-40° C). After the animal moults, or after shearing, its hairs are selected, cleaned and then woven into threads. Cashmere is much softer, warmer and holds more heat than sheep’s wool. […]
Dev Deepavali, which literally means ‘Deepavali of the Gods’ is celebrated 15 days after Deepavali (Diwali) in Varanasi (Benaras) in Uttar Pradesh. The 5-day festival is marked by the lighting of clay oil lamps along the banks of the Ganges in honour of the river. The festival is on a full moon day (Poornima), and taking a dip in the Ganges on this day is said to be of special significance, as the Gods themselves are said to come down to bathe in the holy river on this day. […]
Sushruta, a physician in ancient India (800-600 BC), described cataract as a disorder of the lens, and even performed minor surgery to remove the cloudy part. He is said to have been the first physician to have performed such a surgery, which is now known as ‘couching,’ and described the procedure in his book, Sushruta Samhita (Compendium of Sushruta). The procedure involved using a curved needle to push the opaque matter in the eye out of the way of vision; the opaque, phlegm-like matter was then blown out of the nose. The eye was later soaked with warm ghee and then bandaged. However, ‘couching’ was regarded by later physicians as a dangerous method as the slightest mistake could result damage to the cornea and possible blindness. The removal of cataract by surgery is to have been introduced to China from India, where it flourished in the Sui (AD 581-618) and Tang dynasties (AD 618–907). […]
Speed is so important isn’t it? The fastest runner wins the Gold Medal, you choose the fastest route to get from one place to another, the faster you finish your homework, the sooner you can go out to play. Speed is important in computers too. Guess what makes a computer fast? –It is the processor. […]
The Navratri festival is held to venerate three Hindu goddesses: Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati. ‘Nava’ means ‘nine’ and ‘ratri’ means ‘night’ – and, as per the name, the festival is spread over ‘nine nights’ (or days). Navaratri is primarily celebrated by women, as they are the ones who organise the festivities and take part in them. Different state celebrate them differently: with Kolu, a display of dolls, In Tamil Nadu, with Durga Puja in West Bengal; garba raas and dandiya raas in Gujarat; and Ram Lila in Uttar Padesh. […]
Black pepper, now commonly used as a seasoning around the world, originated in India – it was grown primarily in the Malabar coast or present-day Kerala. It was used in Indian cooking as early as 2000 BC, and spread from India to Southeast Asia. The spice, which imparted a great deal of flavor even when used minimally, was seen as a valuable spice by the ancient European traders, and was referred to as ‘black gold’. Following this, in the Dutch language, ‘pepper expensive’ (peperduur) is an expression for something very expensive. It was in search of trade in this spice that Vasco de Gama even led an expedition to India. […]