Obesity Among School Children

Obesity has become a global phenomenon across the world. It takes place when excessive fat is accumulated in the body over a period of time. Obesity is different from being overweight which implies that a person’s weight is in the upper range among people of the same age and height. A person may be overweight due to a large number of reasons like having more muscles, bone or water in the body which varies due to different body structures.

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The present generation of students are more of couch potatoes who refrain from physical activities and sports. Circumstances as well as lifestyle choices are responsible for it. In most urban areas, the children are confined to their homes right from early childhood. Lack of playing space , social security, and severe crisis of parent’s time are responsible for the confinement of children in their homes. So much so , that the artificial confinement becomes a habit out of which students refuse to budge as they grow up.

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Obesity occurs when children eat more than the body requires for normal growth and activity. The extra calories get stored as fat in the body. Over a period of time the accumulation of fat cells leads to obesity.
The present society has not only confined the children to their homes but also put them in an atmosphere that makes it easy for them to overeat, and difficult to remain active. Screen time activities on computers, gaming consoles, mobiles etc. require very little physical activity and the screen ads adds to unhealthy food choices. Junk food, readymade processed food, snacks are laden with unhealthy calories that fill the bodies with fat which harm children in multiple ways.
Obesity can lead to a large number of physical and mental problems for students. Increased risk of type 2 diabetes, liver disease, high blood pressure, elevated blood cholesterol, bone and joint problems, asthma, sleep apnea are some of the negative outcomes that may arise out of childhood obesity. Obesity among students also leads to low self esteem and depression.

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Parents and teachers can play a big role in preventing obesity among students. First and foremost they must inculcate healthy eating habits in children right form birth. This is best done by acting as a role model for the children. Children should eat only when they are hungry and not merely to while away the time. Screen time for students should be reduced, and outdoor physical activities should be increased. Food must not be used as an award. Fridge and pantry should be stocked with healthy food. Junk food should not be provided in school cafeteria. All kind of junk food stalls should be removed from the vicinity of schools. Educating people regarding the adverse implications of obesity and creating awareness will help in combating the problem in the long run.

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If we don’t somehow stem the tide of childhood obesity, we’re going to have a huge problem.

Lance Armstrong

Fugitive Fate

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“Come on…. it’s getting late,” yelled Swarna at the top of her voice.  The children scampered all around with excitement. It was natural.  Soham was six and Sona ten, yet they had been on only two vacations in their entire life. The reason was Swarna’s demanding job and never ending fund crisis. 
 Swarna worked in a small firm. The income was meagre and the job demanding.  All private firms were the same – profit oriented.  In spite of her frustrations, Swarna continued her tedious tasks day in and day out in hope of a better future.  This vacation was planned by her, and executed by her husband Joy. Actually his name was Vijay, but Swarna called him Joy which meant victory in Bangla. Joy too called her Soro; a shortened form of Swarna.  She did like the endearment till Sona pointed out that it sounded like sorrow. 
 But by the time Sona had pointed it out; the name itself was ten years old and had achieved a distinct identity.
“Soro!” Joy called out, “it’s time to leave…” “Coming…”  Swarna replied as she hurriedly opened the trunk in which she kept all her expensive saris. She wrapped the small steel box, containing her jewellery, in an old sari belonging to her late mother-in-law, and kept it among the saris inside. It was a small precaution that she always took while leaving the house, she never left it in the safe inside the cupboard. She knew that would be the first place the thieves would steal from in case of a break in.  “ We must buy a locker at a bank, it isn’t safe to keep so much jewellery in the house,” she thought.
Her years of hard work had been transformed into beautiful gold jewellery which she often flaunted at various family functions.  The envious looks of the relatives and friends, gave her the reason to buy more jewellery each year.  From just a pair of earnings and a gold chain that she had during the time of her marriage, she now possessed about twenty items of gold jewellery as well as a couple of expensive saris that she had bought after several severe altercations with Joy.
Satisfied with her work she locked the trunk, and covered it with cushions which turned it into a chair.
She snatched the lunch from the kitchen and headed for the door.
“We’ll miss the train because of you,” her husband grumbled.
Everything went well, and Swarna  posted as many pics and videos as possible. The children enjoyed the beach immensely. Her relatives, friends and colleagues showered them with likes and comments in all the social media accounts that she had.
Swarna was sure they were seething with jealousy inside.
As they arrived at their house, Swarna requested her husband to buy some lunch. She was too tired to move. Joy got down from the taxi at the crossing; and told them to move ahead.  It was only a minutes walk to their home.
Swarna found the key and opened the door.  “I shall sleep for a day before I do any work,” she said to Soham and Sona. “We too,” they replied in unison. 
A wave of shock passed through Swarna as she looked at her living room.  Everything was scattered on the floor. The sari with which she had wrapped the box of jewels, lay on the floor. The window to the living room had been cut open and the thieves had taken their time to remove everything that was worth stealing.
Swarna sank on the floor.  The children hurried to find their possessions. Somewhere through the daze, she heard a voice. “Soro!” .She felt water being sprinkled on her face, and light pats on her cheek from somewhere far beyond.

Unity In Diversity

It’s a global village where-
United we stand, divided we fall.
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All humans are born equal. It is the human society that has divided mankind on the basis of colour, caste, creed, language, gender or religion. These discrimination are uncalled for and are totally unjust. Every discrimination, that exists in the world, has only been made in order to exploit a section of the society. It is wrong to discriminate a person on the basis of any existing norm in the society. With the advancement of mankind we must gain the wisdom to delve into the reason behind such discriminatory norms and overcome the tendency to discriminate.

Religion is man-made and so is the language and culture of a region. All human beings irrespective of their country of origin have been made equally by the creator. Their feelings, needs and thinking are all alike.

The colour of skin, hair and sometimes features- vary not due to a person’s own credit or discredit but because of the climatic conditions of a place. Therefore it is unwise to feel proud or dejected due to ones physical appearance or discriminate on its basis.

Religion is the outcome of mankind’s desire to live a higher spiritual life. In the ages, when education was scarce and life was difficult, religion provided guidance for the common man to live a life that would benefit the entire society. The fear of God restrained people from doing wrong things. It provided security for the society at large. A few men also wanted to create an everlasting imprint on mankind, and portrayed themselves as men chosen by God to preach on Earth. This is true for every religion on Earth. Surprisingly, religion – which is supposed to spread love and peace on Earth, has been the cause of much bloodshed and hatred throughout history.

It has been observed through history, that religion has been the favourite subject of conflict and discrimination among people. People love to fight for their religion- so much so, that in absence of a different religion, they would split up their own religion and put up a fight regarding the differences. It is high time that people learn to respect diversity and live united.

Discriminations regarding gender has continued for ages and is still going strong. In the under developed countries the status of women remain abysmally low due to absence of education and financial independence. However, in spite of equal opportunities; gender discrimination still exists in every sector in the developed countries. Unequal pay and division of labour is taking the toll on the physical and mental health of women. This is also paving a way for a society where isolation will be the norm.

Variety is indeed the spice of life. Humans are creators of different cultures, customs, beliefs, food, languages, dialects, art, dance, music, sculpture, architecture and a host of other things that add charm to our lives. Is it then not our duty to enjoy these colours of life? Whatever we have learnt and experienced since are childhood are indeed close to our heart and precious. We must then develop the understanding that other’s culture, religion and tradition is precious to them too; and it is our duty to respect them.

We as mankind have had a spectacular journey from being cavemen- to men living in space shuttles. This travel will be made even smoother and enjoyable if we learn to respect diversity and live in peace united. Unity in diversity is what gives life the colours of the rainbow.

Its time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.

Maya Angelou

Adjustment in the recent times.

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The new age is an age of oxymorons. There are contrasting views everywhere. The world is perhaps in its most confusing moments. The age old customs and traditions are under the radar and is changing rapidly. There is a complete overhaul of society and societal behaviour.

The strangest thing is the difference in thoughts , expectations and actions. People think something, expect something else and do something that is completely different in all respects.

We expect people to listen to us, accept us and do things which we like. Everything and everyone must cater to our needs, likes and dislikes. Anything apart from that makes us feel uneasy and we try to avoid such situations and people. Therein, lies the roots of alienation and isolation. The question is how far do we exert ourselves to accept others with their flaws?

People today, especially the younger generation, find it difficult to adjust. Adjust in the family, adjust with friends and in the workplace. Too much self indulgence in childhood makes it difficult for them to accept the fact, that the world will not cater to their needs throughout life.

Adapting does not mean permanent changes, it just means making small, quick adjustments.

Hany Kubba

Divorce, which was a taboo in the past, is a norm today. While, being a taboo had its drawbacks, being a norm has its drawbacks too. Being in a marriage needs some adjustments, just as being in the family you were born does. Love needs time and care to bloom. Taking things for granted is one of the disasters that ruins the charm in a relationship. Be grateful for everything and adjust to small things. However, if things are too difficult, it is better to part in an amiable manner, which is good for the heart and mind.

Adjustment with the right people, is always better than arguments with wrong people.

It is a necessity to adjust in life, be it in the workplace or a relationship. If not here, then somewhere else, but we have to adjust if we are living in a society. It is therefore better to have a cheerful attitude and enjoy life’s journey without creating unnecessary hassles for our own selves. Assess the pros and cons meticulously, before giving up on anything.

This life is unique and beautiful. ‘Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.’ We’ve got to love life to see its beauty. For that we need to adjust with life itself. A cheerful and patient attitude makes the journey of life a pleasurable one.

Isolation and alienation is a gradual phenomenon. First, we get alienated from the society, then workplace, then family and ultimately with our own selves leading to depression. So, we must try to keep ourselves engaged in the service of others. It is the only path towards happiness.

Be happy and keep others happy. Adjust as much as possible, but draw the line sharply if necessity arises. The trick is not to give up easily. Everything has a positive and a negative side. Focus on positivity, and positivity will surround you.

Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.

Colin powel

A well adjusted person has a mature personality and can understand the needs and problems of others. It is a pleasure to be in the company of such people.

Change being the only constant, will continue. Accept it. Our endeavour, should be to acclimatise ourselves according to circumstances and bring about a positive change.

The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change;the realist adjusts the sails.

William Arthur Ward

A Guest from the Unknown

Photo by Lennart Wittstock

  There was a chill in the air. The drizzle continued for a week, and temperatures dropped down rapidly. It was the All Hallow’s Eve.

Children had run around, and the doorbell rung ceaselessly through the evening. I sat alone at my desk, trying to complete the story that I had been struggling with, for about a month. As the clock in the parlour struck twelve, I stretched, and got up to make myself some coffee as the night became colder.

Coffee in hand, I moved towards the window, enjoying the solitude of the night. The trees in the park across the road always fascinated me during the night. The familiar surroundings appeared strange and eerie in the dark. I liked looking at the strange shapes that trees made in the various shades of the dark. As I watched the drizzle beneath the lamp across the street, I saw something move on the bench beneath. My eyes had not deceived me. It was indeed a person wrapped up in a shawl lying on the bench. “Oh God!’ I said to myself. It was chilling outside and the man would surely be soaked in that constant drizzle. He would certainly die that chilling night, if he stayed outside.

A wave of pity surged through me and I went over to the person across the street. ‘Hello!’ I said. A deep cough underneath the cover was all the answer that I got. The man’s boots peeped out of the shawl at his slight movement. ‘Hello, Sir! It is indeed freezing tonight. Why don’t you come over to my house for the night?’ I paused… ‘I’m sure you would find comfort inside.’

The man opened his cover which was as soaked as the rest of him.  He was rake thin and his sunken eyes could hardly be seen. ‘Please do follow me sir,” I requested as kindly as possible. “Thank ye fer yer kindness sire,” he replied, standing up inanimatedly and following me.

I heated up the soup, and buttered hot toasts to make him comfortable. I offered him dry clothes which he refused. “ I like bein’ in me own boots,” he mumbled. He sat in the darkness away from the light and kept his silence. “You must be very cold and totally drenched,” I tried to make him comfortable. He grunted something, refusing to take the conversation any further. I thought it better to show him his room and did so.

 It felt good helping someone in a chilly night. I carried the dry clothes with me and was about to switch on the light of the guest room, when he put up his hand covering his eyes, putting up his other hand as a sign to stop. He must be sleepy, I thought putting the clothes meant for him on the table. As he went in I bade him goodnight. “G’night,’ he grunted. I smiled and closed the door, shrugging my shoulders at his strange behaviour.

That entire night I had troubled sleep. I tossed and turned on my bed and dreamt of strange people moving around the house. At one point I got up and got myself a glass of water. The deafening silence added to the strangeness of the night. I checked the door of the guest room and went back to bed.

Next morning, the weather seemed to have cleared up nicely. As the bright beams escaped into the room through the folds of the curtains, I rubbed my eyes as I remembered my guest. I was late in getting up and wondered if my guest was already up. I felt grouchy sleeping late and having those strange dreams.

The living room was empty and so was the cooking area adjacent to it. “Good,” I thought, I would get time to prepare a nice breakfast. I made coffee, toast and omelettes and took them to the guest room for the guest. The blinds were still drawn and the bed empty.  I guessed he was in the washroom and putting the tray on the table, I withdrew the blinds. “Goodness! He has already made the bed.” I observed.

 “Er..Mr…” I realised that I did not know the name of my guest. “Ahem!” I cleared my throat near the washroom door. There wasn’t any sound coming out of the washroom. It surprised me to see that it was latched from outside.

“Goodness Gracious!” I rushed towards the main door repenting my decision to invite the stranger to my house. To my surprise the door was locked from inside. Thank God! The man had not escaped with anything valuable. I sighed in relief. A feeling of guilt lingered at the back of my mind; we are quick to suspect others at the smallest pretext, I thought.

I looked for my guest in the other bedroom, but found it empty. Has he by chance gone to my room, while I made breakfast? I checked my room but it was empty. The apartment had three bed rooms and the huge living room. I was utterly confused. Did my guest simply vanish into thin air?

“Hullo there!” I called out. There was no response. My heart beat faster. I went to the guest room and checked the clothes I had given him. They were as I had kept them. He must have slept in his drenched clothes. I checked the bed….. it was dry. My confusion increased. I checked under the bed and then in every nook and corner of the house.

He……wasn’t there.

I checked the main door again … it was locked.

I opened the door – a cold draught swept past me.

 It is believed that on Samhain, the walls between our world, and that of the spirits become thin enough… to allow the ghosts to pass through.

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Air- the essence of life

Air is precious, prevent its pollution.
Pedro Figueras

Air pollution is turning Mother nature prematurely grey.

Irv kupcinet

Humans can live three weeks without food, three days without water and just three minutes without air. Air is an indispensable part of our life. It is because of air that life has been possible on Earth. Yet, we humans are polluting that very essence of our lives.  And that too simply for hoarding wealth, which will be rendered useless if we cease to exist. 

We have been polluting the atmosphere in the name of development.  Is it really development, if it snatches away pure air from a new born child?  We must question our priorities. Which is more important for us and our children? Pure air and water or money?

Pollution should never be the price of prosperity.

AL Gore
Think before you buy. More consumption means more pollution.
Chris LeBoutillier

Definitely, every sane, intelligent person would choose the latter. In spite of our knowledge and our understanding, we are failing our children. We are busy in our rat race to provide more than needed for ourselves.  Becoming more isolated each day and refusing to share. Now-a -days, each family member prefers to drive his or her own vehicle rather than share. The end result is more production, more waste generation and emissions, leading to increased  pollution.

Environmental pollution is an incurable disease. It can only be prevented.

Barry Commoner.

Air pollution is a global killer. An estimated 7 million people die due to diseases related to air pollution. Respiratory infections, asthma, stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, obstructive pulmonary disease- all are related to air pollution.

Pollution-The offspring of Greed.
Vasadi

The main pollutants are nitrogen dioxide(NO2), sulphur dioxide(SO2), carbon dioxide emissions  (CO2) , Ozone  (O3), molds, particulate matters (PM). The particulate matters of less than 10 and 2.5 microns can penetrate into blood through the lungs and affect the whole system.

The short term as well as long term consequences of pollution on human health is immense. Polluted air affects our lungs, heart, brain, liver, spleen as well as the nervous system.  The effects are more on children and elderly as they are more susceptible to damages due to their low immune levels. Children breathe more than adults and breathe in more pollutants because of their short heights.

The Paris climate summit laid down rules for the global community to combat climate change. They aimed at keeping the global rise in temperature below 2 degrees, and take it to below 1.5 degrees within this century. There has been a 3 degrees rise in Arctic temperatures in the last century leading to massive melting down of glaciers. The emission of green house gases has been the prime cause of the rise in temperatures. (Green house gases like – CO2, NO2, O3, CH4, absorb and emit radiant energy within the thermal infrared range)

We are the perpetrators of air pollution, so the onus is on us to find the solution.

We must avoid unnecessary use of vehicles and use public transport and car pools.

We must avoid burning of leaves etc and make compost of them.

Farmers should refrain from burning stubble and use modern methods to turn them into compost.

Plant trees and keep indoor plants. Indoor plants are great air purifiers.

Use a bicycle or walk as much as possible, every step counts.

Jogging and exercise should be done in pollution free areas.

Children should be picked up in traffic congestion so that they are not at the same level as the emissions.

Regular indoor cleaning is a must as indoors are often more polluted than outdoors because of dust mites and molds.

Air pollution is a great equalizer. It does not differentiate between the rich and poor. Every person in a particular place will have to breathe in the same air. It is for us to see that the atmosphere remains unpolluted.  God has provided us with everything that we require to live. Let us not spoil the best things in our lives due to wrong perceptions and thinking pattern set by the society at large. For the truth is… we all need fresh and clean air simply to exist.

Water and air the two essential fluids on which our life depends have become global garbage cans.

– Jacques Cousteau.

Optimism- The magic potion when you are down

Lukáš Dlutko

You have bled enough. Repeated illogical failures have scarred your soul, and you have had enough. You, traveller are at a junction in your life.

Now, you could command your body to separate. There is barely anything  holding your will down anymore. Now , you can close your eyes for what you believe will be a restful sleep.

Or,Or,

Or, you could snap , you could snap and turn the tables so hard, that they break. You have nothing to lose, nothing to choose. You are at a junction in life, that will decide whether your pride will live or die.

Optimism, dear traveller, is easy to reign in and feign in easy waters; that is not much optimism at all. When the ship shakes, your decision lies in holding or letting go of the wheel of your life. Optimism will let you hold on with a broken arm. Hope and belief is not naivety, it is humane.  

When you are sick of pessimism, look for a ray of hope. It will be difficult, this is no easy path in tumultuous times. Optimism is for the brave, as is success. Do not be unafraid;  fear, and do it over your fears. It is the strength of your God given soul to disintegrate, just a bit, under pressure – it is your choice – whether or not to put that  small broken piece of your soul together through nuclear fission and shine so bright that the world is illuminated.

Positivity is no mean feat in this monotonously spinning world, but it is a prerequisite to hang on to the top. Optimism is not a thought, it is a necessity. Optimism is is not the feel good factor all the time, it is hitting the rock bottom and resurfacing again.

You are at the junction, you have bled enough. Now, it is time for you to take that plunge and take the world. Till you live, it is yours to keep. Try to make a mark, so that you continue to live in the hearts and minds long after you cease to live. Serve your smile and heal the world. That, dear traveller, is your ultimate destination.

If you feel that your glass is half empty- It is in your hands to fill it.

Visiting the beautiful Taj Mahal and knowing its history.

A poetry in marble.

Tourists visiting Delhi make it a point to visit Agra to see the marvellous Taj Mahal. We set out from Delhi at 6: 20 am in the morning and reached Agra at 10: 40 am via Yamuna expressway (165 kms). It is better to buy entry tickets for visiting the Taj Mahal, online to avoid long queues. Shoes are not allowed inside the premises, so one needs to get shoe covers outside to prevent the feet from getting scorched on the hot marble.

Some interesting facts about the The Taj Mahal:

The Taj Mahal is one of the seven wonders of the world standing majestically on the banks of River Yamuna. We have all heard of its architectural splendour but the experience of seeing it is truely amazing.

Built in the memory of Mumtaj Mahal , the beloved Queen of Shah  Jahan… It is a poetry in marble. The mausoleum is crafted in white marble, intricately jewelled with designs in precious stones. The pietra dura or the stone inlays are a feast for the eyes.

Pietra dura designs .

 Mumtaj Mahal (jewel of the palace) was originally known as Arjumand Bano Begum. She was a compassionate, learned lady and a poetess. Although she was betrothed to Prince Khurram (Shah Jahan) at the age of 14, she was married to him as his second wife at the age of 19. The prince was 20 at that time. Shah Jahan’s first and third marriages were political alliances, made to increase the kingdom. Mumtaj Mahal, who was dearly loved by Shah Jahan, died at the age of 38 while giving birth to their 14th child in their 19 years of marriage.

Mumtaj Mahal bore him eight sons and six daughters,( seven of whom died at childbirth or at very young age) The emperor was inconsolable after her demise, and planned to build a suitable mausoleum for her. The Taj Mahal took approximately 20 yrs and 20,000 sculptors to be completed.

Resting in the garden, one can admire the beauty of the Taj.

Shah Jahan also wanted to build another duplicate Mahal for himself in black, but it remained a dream as he spent his last days in imprisonment. He was imprisoned in the Agra Fort by his son Aurangzeb who killed his three brothers to gain the throne. Aurangzeb his sixth son and the next emperor laid him to rest beside Mumtaj Mahal.

Mesmerised by the beauty and the story of the Taj we headed for the Agra Fort as we decided to cover Mathura and Vrindavan after Agra.

Agra Fort

Agra Fort- some historical facts about the fort.

The Agra Fort was the main residence of the Mughal Dynasty. In 1638, the capital was shifted to Delhi by Shah Jahan and the Red Fort became the Royal residence.

The Agra Fort stands by the river Yamuna. It is an ancient fort which was first held by the Chauhan Rajputs till the Ghaznis captured it . Sikandar  Lodhi and his son Ibrahim Lodhi held it before the later was defeated by Babur (the first Mughal Emperor) in the battle of Panipat.(1526) The Agra fort along with the famed ‘Kohinoor diamond’ was seized by the Mughals. Akbar the Great, rebuilt the old brick fort with red sandstone (1565 -1573).

Diwan-i-khas

The semi- circular fort has  four gates and several mahals, the white marble palaces belong to the great builder Shah Jahan. He built three marble mosques – Moti masjid, Nagina masjid and  Mina masjid. Aurangzeb besieged the fort after the Battle of Samogarh (1658)  and stopped the water supply from the river. Shah Jahan could not drink the water from the well (it is somewhat salty, inside Taj Malal premises too) and surrendered , he remained imprisoned in the fort for 8 years. Shah Jahan died in 1666 and was laid to rest beside his beloved in the Taj Mahal.

Beautifully carved marble work.

We went around the fort and feasted on the beautiful art work, especially in the Diwan-i-khas the place where the emperor met his special guests. The fort has witnessed numerous important events that had tremendous impact on history. We also the Taj Mahal from the fort and wondered about Shah Jahan who spent his last days looking at the Taj from Agra Fort.

Water fountain inside Agra fort, where Shah Jahan spent his last years.

We had our lunch at Joney’s Place a small but good restaurant near the Taj. we had butter chicken, malai dumplings and biriyani along with banana lassi which was delicious at a reasonable price.

Chicken Biriyani

Visiting the Taj Mahal was a fantastic experience. The beauty and majesty of the building, The waterfront, the surrounding garden, the Yamuna river everything added to the beauty of the picturesque monument. We left Agra in the afternoon. For those who opt to stay at Agra overnight- an early morning visit or a visit during sunset is recommended as the Taj changes its colours with the colours of the sky. The best view however, is on a moonlit night when the beauty of the Taj is at its romantic best and a marvel to look at.

On the Gateway to the Taj Mahal
a beautiful inscription reads, ‘ O Soul, thou art at rest. Return to the Lord at peace with him, and He at peace with you.’

Durga Puja Celebrations in Bengal

The blooming of kash. Pic by Amitabha Gupta

Goddess Durga is the symbol of strength. Her victory over Mahisasur is the victory of Good over Evil. As autumn arrives, the fields get covered with the kash flowers and the sky is at its bluest with white fluffy clouds floating by in abandon. Fragrance of flowers like Shiuli, fills the air as nature decks up like a bride. The people of Bengal get ready to welcome Goddess Durga, who comes down from heaven to spend four days at her paternal home – the Earth. For four blessed days she fills the lives of people with happiness and mirth.

The people of Bengal celebrate Durga Puja with great pomp and show. Huge pandals or temporary structures are made for the four days displaying the rich art and culture of the region. Every idol and pandal  is exquisitely  crafted to create awe among the onlookers.

If festivity is in the air, delicacies cannot be far behind. Bengalis, being ardent food lovers will go to any length to treat their palates with the most delicious food possible. As a result, restaurants and food stalls are totally packed during Durga Puja. Numerous fairs are organised across the state. Various types of  stalls and  rides do big business during these four days.

Pure gold Idol weighing 50 Kgs made for four days. The idol was melted after token immersion.

The Puja which begins on Sasthi (sixth day) continues for Saptami, Ashthami, Navomi  and ends on Dashami (tenth day) when the devotees depart from Goddess Durga as she is immersed in rivers.  The idols are made of river clay and get dissolved in water.  People bid adieu to their beloved goddess with the chants ‘ Aschhe bochor aabar hobe’ which means ‘come next year and we shall again celebrate.’ This symbolises the eternal hope for better things that rings eternally in every soul. 

For the story of the creation of Goddess Durga, refer to my post Mahalaya.

A Trip to Historical Places in Delhi

We reached Delhi by air from Kolkata and arrived at the Indira Gandhi International Airport at 5 pm in the evening. We had booked an SUV for our tour in and around Delhi to make the trip convenient and hassle free. For those who want to hire local taxis, being alert is advisable.

Let me tell you some historical facts regarding Delhi which will help you to understand the place better.

Delhi has been the capital city for numerous dynasties since the time of Mahabharata. It has seen the rise and fall of many dynasties over a period of five thousand years. The legend of Mahabharata talks of the beautiful city of Indraprastha, built by the Pandavas as their capital in the same region. However, according to the historical sources the city of Lal Kot was founded by the Tomara ruler Anangpal in 786 A.D. Prithviraj Chauhanruled over Delhi till 1192 when he was defeated by the Afghan warrior Muhammad Ghori. Muhammad Ghori left Delhi in the hands of his trusted servant and viceroy Qutub-ud-din Aibak, who founded the Slave Dynasty in 1206.

The last sultan Ibrahim Lodi was defeated by the First Mughal ruler Babur at the Battle of Panipat in 1526. While the early Mughal rulers, favoured Agra as their capital. Shah Jahan the great builder, built Shahjahanabad in 1638 which is now known as old Delhi. Mughal rulers- (Babur-Humayun-Akbar- Jahangir- Shah Jahan- Aurangzeb)

The Britishers occupied Delhi in 1803 A.D, and they shifted their capital from Calcutta to New Delhi in 1911. New Delhi was designed by Edward Lutyens. New Delhi became the capital of India after India’s independence in1947.

After checking in at Ramada plaza, formerly known as Ashok Yatri Nivas, in the evening. We decided to visit the Delhi haat, which offers an exotic blend of handicrafts, food, cultural and music performances from all over India. Small thatched roof cottages and the village atmosphere creates a great ambience.

The next morning we decided to visit the historical places in Delhi. We started from Old Delhi and then moved towards New Delhi which helped in managing our time efficiently.

The Red fort

Image result for free red fort images

We started our tour with a visit to the Red fort, which is made of red sand stone. Every Independence Day, the Prime Minister of India hoists the national Flag from the main gate of this fort.

 Lal Qila or Red fort was built by Shah Jahan from 1638 – 1648. It was the royal residence of the Mughals till 1857 when Bahdur Shah Zafar was defeated by the Britishers.

The fort has various structures like the Diwan-i-Aam, Diwan-i-Khas, Nhar –i-Behisht, Mumtaz mahal, Moti masjid and Hyat Baksh Bagh. Tourists can have tea and snacks in the Dawat Khana. There is also a provision of light and sound theatre in the evening which is immensely popular.

Raj Ghat

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A visit to the Raj ghat is a must for those visiting Delhi. Situated behind the Red Fort it is a memorial dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi. The black marble platform marks the spot of Mahatma Gandhi’s cremation on 31 January, 1948 a day after his assassination. It is left open to the sky while an eternal flame burns at one end. After paying homage to the great freedom fighter we moved on to our next destination.

Jama Masjid

Jama Masjid of Delhi

Our next stop was Jama Masjid next to Chandni Chowk. Jama Masjid, also known as Masjid e Jahan Numa, was built by Shah Jahan from 1650-’56. It is one of the largest mosques of India and portrays indo-islamic architecture. Attire covering from head to legs is needed to visit this mosque. The courtyard can accommodate 25,000 devotees at one time. The architectural splendour consists of three gates, four towers and two minarets made from a combination of red sandstone and white marble. The numerous eateries around the masjid offering authentic Mughlai cuisine will leave your taste buds tingling.

Humayun’s Tomb

Our next stop was the marvellous monument that houses the tomb of the second Mughal Emperor Humayun. It was the inspiration behind Taj Mahal and was built in the year 1570 by Haji Begum, widow of Humayun. The entire complex with its brilliant Persian architecture and beautiful gardens is one of the most popular tourist spots.

India Gate

India Gate is one of the iconic monuments of New Delhi. It is a triumphal arch, 42 meters high, designed by Edward Lutyens. Located at the centre of Delhi the memorial was built to salute the sacrifices of the Indian soldiers who sacrificed their lives during the 1st World war as a part of the British army. An eternal flame burns in memory of the soldiers.

Qutub Minar

The Qutub Minar was built by Qutub-ud-din Aibak the founder of the Delhi Sultanate. The monument is the tallest minar in India (73 metres) and is made using indo-islamic architecture. The minar has five stories with beautiful carvings from the Quran. The first three storeys are made of red sand stone while the last two are made of marble and sandstone.

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The Iron pillar near the Quwwat ul mosque  in the Qutub complex, weighs more than 6 tons and is made of 98% wrought iron. It was forged 1,600 years ago and brought to Delhi about 1000 years ago. The iron pillar was possibly made for Chandragupta Maurya according to the Brahmi script on the pillar. The  iron pillar has not rusted till date and as the saying goes, anyone who can touch the tips of fingers encircling the pillar will become a king or extremely powerful. The funny part is that everyone’s fingers almost seem to touch but does not touch the tip of the other finger.

Jantar Mantar

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The Misra Yantra or the Mixed Instrument

It was exciting to visit Jantar Mantar, which is an observatory built by Maharaja Jai Singh II of Jaipur and forms a part of a collection of five observatories located in Jaipur, Varanasi, Ujjain and Mathura. The observatory was made in 1724 to calculate time and movements of sun, moon and other planets.  There are 13 architectural instruments of astronomy which can be used to compile astronomical tables. The precision of the instruments are amazing.

The Lotus Temple, The Akshardham temple, The Rashtrapati Bhavan, Lodhi gardens  are also among the must sees in Delhi.  The Delhi trip was one which transferred us to the past glory of medieval India. It was a lovely, enriching experience that will remain etched in our memory forever.

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