Friday, April 23, 2010


This one is straight out of the pages of Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Only that in this case it is not the sleight of hand of some invisible Godman but plain old growth of fungus which ends up looking like a roti. This Doubling Roti or Sai roti has been doing the rounds of the houses of the devout.

The faithful are told that the roti will double itself only if the person has true faith. This is a double whammy. One, if the roti does not double itself, then it proves you are not true in your faith and then neighbours come to know and start look askance.

This is what happens. The devout are told to keep roti (chapati) in a tiffin box which is then covered with red cloth. Before the red cloth is draped, the devotee is told to add tea leaves, some sugar, a small cup of water, cover it and then perform puja. A week of this, the roti is expected to double. Then these two rotis' are kept in two different boxes and handed to other Sai devotees. The process goes on and on. But what exactly happens here? This is the question that SOM put to Dr. Mandara Maharishi, Scientific Astrologer and Vastu Consultant. Excerpts:

What is this Sai Roti?
I’ve heard about this from my clients; people even collect some nominal value for this, like Rs.3 and keep it in their cash box. They believe, it doubles their money as the Roti doubles.

According to you, is it a miracle or a scientific process?
Definitely it is a scientific process like Manchurian Mushroom called "KOMBUCHA". It's a fungus-like mixture of bacteria and yeast that grows in sugar and tea solution. It takes 8 -10 days to grow and becomes a pancake like organism that resembles a mushroom. What is truly miraculous is the tea it grows in.

What is Kombucha?
Kombucha is a fermented tea that is imbibed for medicinal purposes. It is a probiotic, microbiological food. It helps regenerate the bowel flora and is excellent for wellbeing. It is a popular health promoting beverage and natural folk remedy. It is a symbiotic culture of yeast and other microorganisms, depending on each other. Kombucha is available commercially, we can buy the kombucha at any online health food store but can be made at home by fermenting tea using a visible solid mass of microorganisms called kombucha culture or mushroom.

Is there any scientific evidence in support of these claims?
There is limited scientific information supporting any of purported benefits, though few studies are being conducted in this regard.

What does Kombucha look like?
It looks like some sort of fungus or mushroom but it isn’t. For convenience it is generally called a fungus as this has been customary over the years. It looks like a white rubbery “pancake”. It is a hard, smooth slippery, glassy mass which forms lamellae. These lamellae are composed of translucent, very tough tissue with a series of brown spots at the bottom. These turn out to be a concentration of yeast cells. The primary yeast is Schizosaccharomyces Pombe, while the main bacteria involved in the fermentation are the Gluconacetobacter Xylinum, Gluconobacter Bluconicum and Acetobacter Xylinioides.

What is Kombucha Tea?
Major ingredients found in Kombucha tea are various enzymes, Acetic acid, Carbonic acid, Folic Acid, Gluconic acid, Glucuronic acid, L(+) Lactic, Usnic acid, Amino acids (various), Hydroxy acids (various), Vitamin B1 (Thiamin), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (Niacin, niacinamide), Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine), Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin, cyanocobalamin), Vitamin C (from Lactic acid), antibiotic substances, 0.5% to 1% alcohol is produced as well as other products.

Origin of Kombucha?
Some attribute its origin to Manchuria (a historical name given to a vast geographic region in northeast Asia) and others to Tibet, Japan or Eastern Siberia. Depending on the definition of its extent, Manchuria either falls entirely within People’s Republic of China, or is divided between China and Russia. The region is commonly referred to as Northeast China.

For how long has it been in use?
Kombucha apparently evolved from plant organisms over 2.5 billion years ago. People have been preparing and consuming fermented tea drink for over 2000 years. The first record of "KOMBUCHA" 'The Miracle Mushroom' was during the Chinese Empire of the Tsin Dynasty in 221 BC. It was referred to as “the remedy for immortality” or “the Divine Tsche” by the Koreans in 414 B.C but later it showed up in China. From there it was introduced into Japan, Russia, and India and later to other European countries where it is now consumed daily by huge numbers of people.

For what health aspects Kombucha can be used?
As an elixir of life, it is believed that consuming Kombucha regularly keeps one in eternal youth, preventing old age and greying of hairs. It is also believed that Kombucha increases longevity, cures cancer, Bronchitis and asthma, rheumatism, Improves vision, Cures kidney and cardiac problems, cataracts, diabetes, diarrhea, herpes ,Increases appetite and helps digestion, Cures insomnia, lowers hypertension, reverses the symptoms of AIDS and increases sexual desire.

How Kombucha Tea is prepared?
To prepare kombucha tea we require; Kombucha mushroom of about 3 inches in diameter, Two liters of fresh mineral water, 15 grams biological green tea, 200 grams refined white sugar, A stainless steel saucepan (do not use aluminum), A clean glass container with a wide mouth which will hold a 3" diameter mushroom and 2 liters of water, A piece of cheesecloth and a rubber band to close the jar to allow fresh oxygen into the container.

To start Kombucha Culture, first we should boil the water and is allowed to cool down for 5 minutes, add the tea bags and remove it after 15 minutes, Add the sugar and stir thoroughly. Let the tea cool down to about 90° F. When preparing the first culture, add two tablespoons of natural vinegar (which you omit when you already have Mombucha also known as Mother Kombucha) and Yeast. Pour the tea into the glass container and add the Mother Kombucha also called SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast). Close the container with the cheese cloth and rubber band. Place the jar in a spot at a temperature of about 80° F. After 10 to 14 days a new Baby kombucha mushroom will have grown on the whole surface of the tea. What appears to be fungus or Mold maybe "tannins" from the tea. These are still, good mushrooms. Cigarette smoke, paint fumes, off-gasses, strong sunlight will kill kombucha.

How can Kombucha Tea be consumed?
This kombucha tea should be strained, bottled, sealed with a clean lid and kept in the refrigerator for subsequent process. You make the new batch of tea with the new mushroom which has grown on top of the old mushroom.The old mushroom can be used as a fertilizer for plants, applied to wounds or used as cosmetic. When the new tea has cooled and been poured into the jar it should be mixed with about 8 oz. per quart of the previous batch of kombucha tea. This favors the fermentation as a result of which the new kombucha tea will be ready in 8 to 10 days. Of course you have to put the kombucha mushroom in the cool tea and proceed.

When brewing at home, it is common for SCOBYs of uneven thickness or varying shades to form, due to cold or varying temperatures, and sometimes due to inconsistent environments and brewing cycles. So if this happens, don’t worry! It’s perfectly normal! Though Kombucha mushrooms start out cream colored, they darken over time, which could happen due to staining by the tea. And eventually as SCOBYs age they stop creating babies, and lose their ability to ferment the tea. While some say that SCOBYs last for 8 batches, others say that they last for 3-4 months.

What is the recommended dosage for consumption?
4 oz. every morning, on an empty stomach. We can add some fresh honey if we feel it is sour.

Where is it popularly used today?
Today the tea is widely used Japan and Russia even today. Scientists noticed that in those regions where the Kombucha-tea was a common drink, the environmental pollution had less influence on the health of the population. Being heavy smokers, drinking vast amounts of alcohol and working in the unhealthy mercury-, lead-, and asbestos industry they survived this onslaught by consuming Kombucha-tea on a daily basis. This was the only difference compared with their counterparts in similar circumstances. As the Kombucha has so much of nutritional ingredients and medicinal values, Kombucha culture has got much importance.

By what other names it is called?
Kombucha is also popularly known by various other names like Fungus Japonicus, Fungo-Japon Kombucha, Kargasok Tea, Kvas, Manchurian Mushroom, Tea Fungus, Tea Sponge and Tea Wine.

Why is Kombucha called as Saai Roti then?
We call it as Sai Roti (means Spun Roti in Thai language) not Shiridi Sai. On the streets of Thailand we can have a snack called Roti Sai Mai or Roti Spun Silk which is a thin pancake wrapped around sugar spun like cotton candy. Sai Mai is also a name of one of the fifty districts of Bangkok, Thailand.

So what conclusion can be given for this Sai Roti or Kombucha?
Finally, we can say that Sai Roti (Kombucha Culture) is a Symbiotic Miracle rather than a Sai Miracle.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Mythology and tribal motifs come alive in terracotta

The Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya (IGRMS) museum in Mysore, an autonomous organization, Ministry of Culture, of Government of India, is not only a museum housing tribal artifacts, but also a visual history book depicting the evolution of tribal culture across various parts of India. It is a knowledge centre that houses numerous art works of various tribes. This unique anthropological museum though sanctioned in 2000, started functioning only from Oct. 2001. Traditional tribal art forms like paintings, terracotta’s, murals, stone sculptures and other art forms are on display here. There are a little moe than 400 ethnically different tribes in India.
The IGRMS headquarters is located in Bhopal (MP), while the Regional Centre IGRMS is in Mysore at Wellington House on Irwin Road. In an attempt to showcase the diversity and richness of our culture the Mysore IGRMS conducts various workshops, seminars, hands-on training programme, throughout the year.

The Terracotta sculpture outside the entrance to IGRMS is much more than an artistic work, it is actually narrating a mythological story of the tribals and is part of an open air exhibition called, “Janapada Kathe”, folklore stories, where each work of art on display here is narrating a story. The various art works displayed here are the creation of artists from different States, working on their local folklore stories, their songs and dances, their community deities, tattoos, myths and lore and transform-ing them into art-works. The exhibition was opened in April 2008, on the occasion of the eighth anniversary celebrations of the Sangrahalaya.
The exhibition is also a record of the folkways and mores of the tribals, their myths and legends. The striking feature of this exhibition is that all these exhibits are actual dwellings built by the tribals themselves, using the same materials and architectural style employed by them. It is for this reason the exhibits are in the open exposed to the elements of nature and is a permanent feature.
Whether it is a mural, or painting, terracotta art, stone sculptures and even photographs each of them narrate a story of local traditions and rituals practiced by the tribals of a particular region. Using these exhibits IGRMS has been successful in creating awareness among the people to many of our lost cultures and traditions. At present there are 21 exhibits, representing a particular tribe. Here is a brief introduction of them:
‘Gotul’, this castiron mural shows the communal dormitory of teenagers, both boys and girl, who are expected to live in harmony and togetherness, among the murals of Bastar in Chattis-garh. Gotul a mural cast in iron, illustrates a youth dormitory of the Muria tribal people in Bastar, Chattisgarh.
The tribal Gond painting of Mandla in Madhya Pradesh, tells you the story of the disappearance of God from the Earth, with a message that death will be sudden for all and it is the soul that goes to heaven, without the body.
Bhil paintings also from Madhya Pradesh, depicts the worshipping of their local deity, Pithora and the installation of a memory stone, ‘Gatla’. The materials used for the painting are simple homemade pigments made from the leaves and flowers of various plants. The brushes made of rags or a cotton swabs and fastened to twigs of neem. The paintings are done in a single day by the Bhils, praying for the prosperity of their lands and families and worshipping fertility.
Warli folk paintings by one of the largest tribals found in the northern outskirts of Mumbai, in Thane, Maharashtra, do not depict any mythological characters or images of deities, but depict social life, like the marriage “chauk” drawn on the walls of their dwellings using only rice paste and smeared with red ochre. It also narrates the “Tarpa” dance and celebration of “Simgha” festival.
Mural painting from Kozhikode, Kerala, tells you the story of the slaying of two demons, Nalakuvara and Manigriva, sons of Kubera by Lord Krishna as Balagopala, who tied to a stone mortar by his mother, goes crawling on his knees and the mortar gets caught between the two Arjuna trees and uproots them, thus liberating the two demons from the curse.
The story of Raja Shailesh, Reshma and Kushma has been depicted on terracotta from Dharbanga in Bihar district.

The Par or Phad paintings from Rajasthan, depicts the tradition of worshipping ancestors and historical figures. Among the five ancestors commonly worshipped in Rajasthan, the life of Devnarayan (Takhaji) and Pabuji Rathor are the most popular. He is usually pictured seated on a horse along with various animals like cows, snake. The legends are painted on long rectangular cloths usually 35 feet long by 5 feet wide for Devnarayan pars and 15 feet by 5 feet for Pabuji-ki pars.
The Subarnapur artists from Orissa, have beautifully depicted episodes from Ramyana on terracotta pots using clay coils. That is, there are not kiln-baked but sun dried. Incidents such as the birth of Seetha, the breaking of Shivadhanus, Vanavasa, Lankapuri Hanuman, Rama’s arrival to Ayodhya, Pattabhisheka are elegantly depicted on the pot.
The Vijayanagar school of paintings called Surapur paintings managed to survive in Surapur, Gulbarga. The ‘Dasoha Gnana’ painting by a Gulbarga artist narrates the history of the 12th century Sharana Basaveshwara. The sage’s entire life is narrated as a ‘pawaada’ or ‘miracle’ in the Surapur traditional paintings.
Terracotta pottery both for ritualistic prayers and everyday use have been found inn almost every archeological dig. The famous gray ware pf the Indus Valley or the Blue ware from the Harappan period are well known. The usual votive figures in the tribal hamlets of Bastar, Jhabua, Sarguja, Raigarh, and Mandla are elephants, serpents, birds and horses. Huge terracotta horses with noble-like figures are still found in several of the Tamil Nadu villages. These terracotta semi-divine deities are the guardians of the villages. Terracotta votive placed at the boundaries of the villages are also said to ward off disease. Terracotta votive placed at the boundaries of the villages are also said to ward off disease. Votive terracotta figures of Bonga Hathi, Bankura horse, Raja Hathi, Owl, Kalli Buri, Ganesh and Manasa Kalash can be seen here. Man’s primordial fear of snakes resulted in making minor deities of them. Manasa becomes the snake goddess daughter of Shiva and is worshipped in West Bengal, Assam and Orissa.
Even the Patua from Midnapur, West Bengal, narrates the story of Snake Goddess Manasa and how she wanted the people to worship her, like her father, Shiva, was worshipped.
Terracotta offerings for “Gramdev” or the village deity is a common practice among the Jhabua tribals in Madhya Pradesh. Once in twenty years, families belonging to Bhil, Bhilala, Rathwa and the Koli tribes offer a ‘Jatar’ at the shrine of Gamdev or the village deity under the saagwon or teak tree. Each of these ‘Jatar’ comprises of 120 terracotta horses, known as ‘the army of horses’.
The Cherial scroll paintings of Andhra Pradesh is truly an exciting exception, practised mainly in Cherial of Warangal district. The painting is widely used for wall decorationsThis traditional art form is inseparable part of the profession of the story telling community known as Kaki Padagollu. They utilize the scroll paintings as visual aids to tell their stories. The stories come alive by paintings on clothes, which come in the form of scrolls. Each scroll can run into several meters. However to meet the modern art lovers’ and public demand, the Nakkash or smaller versions are made at affordable prices.
An artist from Mandla, Madhya Pradesh, has beautifully narrated an interesting story about the creation of universe by Badadev.
The famous Chittara Art or Hasegode Chittara paintings done by the women of Devaara tribe in Shimoga and Uttara Kannada districts on walls and bamboo baskets. During marriages and other festivals, using only rice flour can also be seen here.
Lillari Koti of Madhya Pradesh has an interesting story. Inspired by an anthill, the Gond tribal women made the Koti, a mud granary, to store the grains safely. Snakes are depicted on the Koti, signifying that it brings health and prosperity to the family and also devours rats. Almost every member of the Gond community has a granary.

Rangoli is one of India’s oldest traditional art form. According to legends, Lord Devendra has eyes all over his body in order to be vigilant about the happenings in this universe. The innumerable eyes of Devendra are depicted in this Rangoli motif by Mysore artistes.
Stone sculptures in the manner of the Ajanta and Ellore bas-relief in black marble are well depicted by the Bidadi artists.
The tribal communities of Bastar Region consider Mohuajhad is a auspicious tree and a branch of the tree is required on all the rituals. Highly ornate votive terracotts elephants embellished with bells, figures of lion, horse, etc are offered to the shrines of village deities, these rituals of Mendka Bihav, Kham and Votive terracotta elephants and lion are well depicted by the artiste from Chattisgarh.
Artist from Pudukottai, Tamil Nadu have fabulously narrated the heroic character of Ayyanaar, the main protagonist in the local region. Ayyanaar complex developed in the exhibition consists of 12 figures Ayyannar the chief deity Pushpakala, Purnakala, Kali, Sanyasi, Nondiveeran, two horses, two elephants and two cows. Various forms of the Ayyanaar including are in ‘Policeman’s uniform can be seen in sense of the interior villages of Tirukoillur, Tamil Nadu.
All these features give the visitor a glimpse of the rural life by boosting the morale of traditional artisan groups by creating general awareness among general public.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Filigree magic in Bamboo

Bamboo is versatile; it is used to make furniture, walls of a house, lattice-work screens to keep out the heat of the day, drinking cups, tea strainers etc. Bamboo in all its recreated glory is however to be found only in the North-East regions like Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Mizoram and Assam. It is an intrinsic part of the lives of people of these States.
More than 130 species of bamboo are found in India and most of them are grown in Manipur. And this State is considered as one of the largest producer of bamboo products after Tripura in the entire North East. Cane and bamboo craft is widely spread throughout the State. This raw material is considered to be God for these tribal artisans for it is through the manifold uses of bamboo that they earn their livelihood. The innate artistic flair of these people is seen not only in their brightly coloured shawls but also in the products created by splitting bamboo as finely as filigree.
The North East Crafts Bazaar is showcasing the talents of these extraordinary people at Bharat Scouts and Guides Grounds, Opp. DC Office, which will conclude today at 9 pm.

Speaking to SOM, Chanchelini Sharma from Manipur who is exhibiting Kouna craft, said, "Kouna is a species of water reed (firm-stemmed water or marsh plant especially of genus Phragmites). The plants grow wild in the marshy land, ponds, canals, along the river and lake beaches. From time immemorial, these stalks, locally called Kouna, after drying are being used in making mats/mattresses by the people living mostly in the valleys of the Manipur State."

"I create Kouna mats, chairs, cushion, coasters, bags etc. of different shapes and sizes with different designs which can be used for domestic and ritualistic. Now-a-days, this craft has more demand in the market and to reach the target we plant this in the marshy paddy fields, canals, along the submerged river and lake shores”, says Sharma who had done her graduation and has a keen interest in sharing this art.
Apart from Kouna items, bamboo made baskets, mats, fishing traps/tools, furniture, walk-ing stick, trays, decorative pieces like table lamp, wall hanging, ash tray, flower pot, flower and other products, flute, suitcases etc. are created by them.
These items are in different forms/designs according to the varying customs of different tribes of the State.

Little or no power supply: People at receiving end

Frequent power cuts have made life miserable for people of every strata in society. Thanks to the apathy of administrators and policy makers who have failed to make appropriate arrangements for generating adequate power, expecting the future demand.
The power problem has not only worsened the students’ life, but also commercial establishments, small scale industries located in and around the city. It is reported that thousands of migrant labourers were leaving the city as the industries are either closing down due to power cut or being not operated to full capacity.
Various consumer groups, NGOs, political parties and residents have staged protests condemning the Electricity Supply Companies for the irregular power supply. In spite of all this, the power problem is not being rectified which only shows lack of will on the part of the administration. To check out the pulse of the people, SOM spoke to several of them. Excerpts:
"In addition to the regular load shedding at fixed hours, there are random power cuts. The total power disruption in a day extends for more than 5-6 hours. This has disrupted normal lives. The government should find some solution to solve this problem. It has not taken any steps to curb wasteful usage of power in city surroundings, like bill-board lighting, ornamental illumination etc. On the other hand it is spending crores of rupees for Utsavs and Jathas. If they can spend so much money for in one day, why can’t they purchase power from neighboring States?" questions Chaya, a resident of T.K. Layout.
"We are facing lot of problems due to power cut. This has affected supply of drinking water as water supply in our locality depends on the availability of power. There is no big sump to store water here. Water scarcity causes tension among resi- dents while trying to collect water. We also fear spread of seasonal summer diseases like Diarrhoea, Cholera and Dysentery," says residents of Kesare and Naidu Nagar.
"Whenever there is power cut, we feel suffocated and perspire badly. This affects my concentration on studies. It is indeed strange that government has failed to maintain regular supply of power, a basic amenity," says Smitha, a B.Sc student.
"Various NGOs and environmental organisations are responsible for the present power problem. When the proposal for setting up a thermal power plant at Chamalapura was suggested, they held protests citing environment and related reasons and got the entire project cancelled. Where do they think power will come from without a power plant? If it had posed an environmental threat, they could have proposed another alternative site or alternate methods like nuclear or gas based power plants. Instead, the whole project was called off. In fact the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) has already established guidelines on how to treat the effluents generated in a coal based thermal power plant. If the concerned NGOs and environmentalists had shown the same aggressiveness in implementing the guidelines mentioned by NEERI, the project would have been completed and added extra power to our grid, at least mitigating to some extent the power crisis, which will only worsen in the future, going by the current state of affairs," says S. Sharath Chandra, Proprietor Shobha Electricals, dealer in electrical accessories.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Learn to laugh, laugh to live

"Laughing with others is more powerful than laughing alone. Sharing laughter is one of the most effective tools for keeping relationships fresh, exciting, vital and resilient with joy. When we share laughter, it increases happiness and intimacy by binding us together," say members of Kuvempu Laughter Club.
Ha, Ha, Ha… Ho, Ho, Ho… Hee, Hee, Hee… Are you wondering what this lot of homosapiens are upto? A common enough sight that we come across in our city parks daily, either early morning or late evenings. A hectic life-style or loneliness may make us forget to laugh. We laugh when we find that everything looks rosy and bright … smiles everywhere, for laughter is contagious. Who really knows? May be it releases some chemicals in the brain. Perhaps that is why, people having discovered this secret, are gathering everywhere for laughter therapy classes. Clubs, seminars, workshops are popping up to help people put a smile on their face and lower their blood pressures at the same time.
In today’s paradoxical society, considered to be civilized, do we need to be taught to laugh, when it is a natural human instinct? A stoic face is considered a sort of mastery over human emotions even at the cost of suppressing a smile.
Though a laugh lasts only for a brief moment, it makes everyone happy, making them forget everything in that moment, even the most persistent worry and the hurting pain. It is said that a good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the Doctor’s book. Society zipping the fast lane has robbed us of the opportunity to laugh naturally, thereby creating a need to induce laughter artificially.
This is where the 'Laughter Clubs' come in. They teach us to laugh by creating humorous occasions and performing funny antics, apart from narrating jokes. One such club in the city is the Kuvempunagar Laughter Club which holds ‘laughter’ classes in a Park.

When SOM contacted P.S. Rajarathnam, the Laughter Club Trainer, he said, "Laughter is indeed the best medicine for all. A good laugh is like internal jogging. One minute of hearty laugh equals 45 minutes of therapeutic relaxation. We practice laughing in a group because it inspires everyone to laugh along with others, as most of us switch off our laughter as we grow old, feeling that our laughs may be inappropriate and not accepted by those around us."
"A smile a day keeps the doctor away, so our aim is to put smile back on people's faces. Laughing even has health benefits. After a good belly laugh we feel better as it boosts the immune system, lowers blood pressure, reduces stress, helps in getting good sleep and even tones up stomach muscles! It even helps stave off heart disease and prevent a heart attack," adds Rajarathnam, a retired General Manager of BHEL, who started this Club on April 3rd, 2003. Inspired by a doctor in Mumbai who started the first Laughter Club in the country, Rajarathnam started the Kuvemunagar Laughter Club with the assistance of Subbalakshmi, a Laughter Trainer from Bangalore. The club has more than 45 members. The classes are held free of cost and there is no age limit for members to enroll.
The specially designed classes are based on Pranayama, Laughter Yoga (Haasya Yoga), yoga-breathing and laughter exercises that involves breathing techniques, relaxation, meditation and stretching ex-ercises. After performing these simple laughter exercises, they walk around clapping hands shouting "Ho..Ho..Ho.. Ha…Ha..Ha" followed by "Hee..Hee…Hee” in unison. This releases tension and relaxes their bodies. One of the central ideas behind laughter therapy is behaving like a child, laughing for no reason, playing around and inventing fun, just for the sake of a good laugh.
Speaking to SOM some members of the Club joyously reported: "We feel very happy to come and spend time here. We share our sorrows and happiness and spend time together with lot of fun. We don’t want to miss classes even for a day and we never miss a chance to visit this place, even when it is raining. We do a complete body exercise which gives us immense relief. If we were to do the same exercises at home, family members would mock us, whereas here we feel comfortable to do these exercises along with others."
70 plus, still an enthusiast

Most of the members who attend this laughter class are over 50 years of age and some of them are more than even 70 years. In spite of their age they attend the classes regularly with lot of enthusiasm and involve themselves in all the exercises.

Doll Maker: Talent Unlimited

Revathi Ramaswamy is a homemaker with varied interests and dabbles in a lot of things! She is either tending to plants in her garden, creating dolls out of waste or singing and teaching bhajans in her spare time. Her creativity with dolls is well showcased during Dasara which attract a lot of visitors.
Gardening is a hobby which she pursues out of passion. She grows various kinds of flowers, fruits (including apple) and vegetables in her garden, and Revathi, a resident of Vijayanagar, is very proud of her green friends.
Indian history has a place for dolls that project rural life. Dolls act as cultural ambassadors reflecting our civilization, observes Revathi, who creates dolls out of cloth and other waste material. “The face of the dolls is available readily. The cloth body parts are stitched and stuffed with synthetic cotton, with a metal frame providing body structure. Facial features are painstakingly painted by hand. All limbs, fingers, and toes are stitched separately for a more realistic depiction of gestures. Clothing and accessories are also prepared by hand. I collect waste things and use them while making dolls. It is not simple to make a cloth doll but they have a basic simplicity and charm, which sets them apart from other dolls,” she says. Mythological characters from Mahabharata, RadhaKrishna, various forms of Lord Krishna, Durga and many other gods and goddesses have been created by her. Revathi has bagged many prizes for her Dasara doll show and gardening since three years.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

'A sound mind in a sound body'

Exercise holds the key
"When we construct a house, we plan according to our capability. In the same way, we should plan our fitness also. One should know his/her capacity and capability before starting fitness exercises," says Dr. Hareesh, Secretary, Mysore Orthopaedic Association.
People these days are becoming more conscious about their health and about how they look and the result is that more people are flocking to fitness centres to get that dream body. Film stars sporting sculpted bodies have been an inspiration.
Contrary to common perception, it is not necessary to go to a hi-tech gym and work out on the Nautilus machine at all. A long brisk walk or yoga and even free-hand exercises are enough to stay in good condition. Dr. Hareesh, Secretary, Mysore Orthopedic Association, said that it is very vital "to go for a complete fitness training which takes care of all the aspects of keeping a body fit, beginning with proper diet and the kind of exercise that is suited to one's physiogonmy."
"Very few people know what their fitness level is and what they need to do. It is necessary to consult a physician before staring on a course of exercise particularly if one is over 50 or if one is suffering from heart-related ailments," says Dr. Hareesh.
While the doctor will tell you how much you can exercise, the fitness trainer will tell you what kind of exercise you can take up.
Regular fitness workouts will not only help you get that toned body but will also help you develop resistance to a host of illness.
Some of the benefits of a fitness regimen are: lower body weight, increased immunity to ailments, burning body fat, more stamina and more energy. Another benefit is muscle tone which means that your muscles are firmer, leaner and hard !
The young and the elderly will both benefit from an exercise regimen. Latest research has proved that even the very old can walk and do simple exercises to keep from being plagued by old-age related problems like loss of mobility. Even those suffering from chronic illnesses can significantly improve their life-style by exercising everyday.
"Exercise reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer and blood pressure. People who are active have a better longevity quotient than those who are inactive. But one should also know their capacity and capability before going through all these exercises. It is always better they approach a doctor to know their capacity," says Dr. Hareesh.
Dr. Hareesh also says that exercise without a prior medical check-up may lead to exercise related injuries. Recreational sports that do not involve any major activity are safe and do not need a green signal from a physician. "Once we start fitness or exercise reghimen, intensity is very important, it has to be gradually increased and the body should get toned up for the exercise. Patients suffering from arthritis or weak bones should avoid jogging and other strain-inducing exercise and follow light exercise. Crash dieting is not good and neither should one use magnetic belts," he added.
"Before starting any exercise, warming up for minimum of five minutes is very much necessary, which can be achieved with moderate continuous movement as in walking, slow jogging or bicycling. The aim is to increase blood circulation and prepare the muscles for stretching. Similarly after ending the exercise routine, one should not forget to do warm-down exercise which is just like warming up exercises," added Dr. Hareesh.
He also says that the best all-round exercise is swimming along with yoga and pranayama. One can have an improved respiratory capacity and muscle tone.
"Through regular exercise one can reduce the weight, blood pressure, sugar level and cholesterol. One should devote at least 150 minutes per week to keep themselves fit. Each day through brisk walking or just walking one can lessen 3 to 5 calories and before doing or going to any sort or exercise."
Exercise helps not only the body but also the mind. It helps in keeping mental equanimity besides lessening the chances of cardiac problems, reducing the symptoms of menopause and keeps a check on cholesterol, says Dr. Hareesh.
If the aim is to have a fit body and not a heavily muscled one then ordinary free-hand exercise will do. In fact yoga in its different forms like Power Yoga or Dynamic Yoga are just as good for getting that lean toned body and glowing inner glow.
One important benefit of exercising regularly will be a reduced medical bill or in many cases no medical expenses at all! A good toned body enhances one's self-esteem leading to better mental health. In fact little or no recreational activity may lead one to drugs and anti-social activity.