Sunday 31 December 2017

This New Year 2018...

Are you grounded by responsibility?
Or the past & wallowing in self-pity?
Or over-burdened with excuses?
Or feeling like a pawn in a game of Chess?

Time to fly! Come on, defy gravity!
Discover & recognize the #AuraOfPositivity!
Conquer the sky 🌌 & the world 🌎 anew!
The Universe is waiting to embrace you!
A new year is arriving and is almost here!
New day, new week, new month, new year!
Do the best you can; every moment is dear!
May this new year be filled with comfort & cheer!

Keep your spirit & determination strong,
Journey on the road to glory may take long.
I wish you love, peace, joy, health, happiness,
Courage, faith, gratitude, enthusiasm, confidence...
May we be armed with all the above in our kit,
When challenges as opportunities pay us a visit!
This new year, may our positive outlook help us cope,
Happy New Year! 365 days have tremendous scope!

Note- Initially written as an answer for @AuraOfThoughts on Twitter 

What would you wish your loved ones this new year? Do share in the comments below.

115 Varieties of Bhog of Shree Jagannatha Temple Puri

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The state of Odisha in India has a rich culinary tradition. Odisha boasts of an amazing variety of dishes, most of which are associated with the ancient temple traditions of Odisha from centuries.

The general public is yet to learn about this state's rich culture. Many Odias, even those residing in Odisha, are grossly unaware.

On 24th December, 2017, thanks to Neeladri Adyatmik Trust, we got a novel opportunity to attend a unique event that introduced us to 'Odisha Mandirara Bhoga Parampara' i.e. the 'Bhog tradition of Odisha Temples'. A book by the same name was released on the occasion.
An 800-pages book 'Shree Jagannath Gyana Kosha' was also released in the event.
Chhapana Bhoga (56 Bhog) of Shree Jagannatha is pretty famous. But, the fact is Shree Jagannatha is offered many more dishes and thus, the number of bhog is not just 56 in number. Number of offering vary as per the traditions, and on the festive occasion of Makar Sankranti, there are 84 bhog- the highest number of offerings are given. It is even mentioned in the Record of Rights as "Makara Chaurasi Bhoga".

Some of the dishes like 'Mandua' are unknown even to some Puri city inhabitants!
We had the opportunity to see 115 varieties of bhog exhibited in the event.
You can take a look at this short video that shows some glimpses :

Monday 25 December 2017

Silence Feeds The Violence

They find you- the woman- very weak & an easy target to pick,
Who can be made to dance to their favourite music!
They make you do this & that & to be their 24X7 slave!
You carry the trauma, humiliation & violence to your grave.

They grope emotionally & physically; you bear in silence.
Being the society's scapegoat to no woman makes sense.
A raped woman has no respect in our moral society
You think- 'What'll people say', 'Who'll marry me?'

You had worn a mini-skirt or were covered from head-to-toe,
The result was still the same- what all got to know.
Whatever happened wasn't your fault or invitation at all.
You are the unfortunate 'victim' whose case was judged by all.

The deep cuts, bites, bruises, kicks, tell the real sad story,
Your silence, smile, 'status' adds to the false glory,
Your identity, existence & reasoning is threatened & pained,
You want to scream & tell your tale, but feel chained...

Monday 18 December 2017

Lord Jagannath's Rasagola #RasagolaProject

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“I never stood a chance, did I?”

"Why this doubt?"

"They are debating about my origin!"

"And most of the world doesn't know the truth- that you have always gifted me to your wife - Maa Lakshmi."

"Yes, I take your help to pacify Lakshmi after my replies to Her questions (Bachanika). She then lets me inside our home after my Ratha Jatra outing with my siblings "

"On Niladri Bije, Bhittarachhu Mohapatra, a major priest (sebayat) prepares me with much love as per the ancient tradition and hands me over to you to gift."
"Then, I smartly gift you to Lakshmi, who is both surprised and delighted to receive my sweet gift!"

Sunday 10 December 2017

Model Traffic Jam

She honked though she knew that the chances of her car's movement depended on the movement of the vehicles that seemed to be stationary before her car...
Twenty minutes had passed and her car hadn't moved an inch.
She couldn't afford to be a victim of the terrible traffic jam that day.

She soon realized the reason of the jam- Elina, the hottest model in town, who featured on the newest advertisement on the huge billboard on that road. 
The public was totally enamoured by Elina's advertisement and didn't want to budge!
"Why did they have to put this up at this signal?" she thought.
She was getting late for the annual function at her school.
She came out of her car.
No one gave her a second look.
The public continued to stare at the billboard.
WOW - Construct A Story

Tuesday 5 December 2017

The Rasagola Project #RasagolaProject

Do you know that Mahabalipuram Stone Sculpture earned the GI (Geographical Indications) tag on Children's Day this year?
Yes, on the same day when Banglar Rasogolla earned the GI tag!

One of the newspapers of India had found this news important enough to be reported on 14th November 2017. A few others reported the same news the next day.

Sweet Fake News On Children's Day

But, in stark contrast, on 14th November 2017, most news channels and media-houses focused on the news that West Bengal had won the GI tag for 'ROSOGOLLA/RASGULLA'!
Why the special status and attention to Rasagola?
All of them reported that Bengal has won the Rosogolla war against Odisha. Most of them spread misleading & fake news

From the news-reports, netizens and viewers inferred that 'Odisha has lost' and 'Odisha's claim for Rosogolla has been rejected' by the authorities of the GI Registry. 
How Odisha's claim has been rejected when the state has NOT submitted her application towards GI tag for Rasagola?
But, the readers and viewers were given incorrect gyaan:
Bengal's Gain Is Not Odisha's Loss

The next day, some papers reported that GI authorities had stated that Odisha can also apply for a tag.

Though some papers presented updated news, yet some information was wrong or kept hidden.
Note- Pahala Rasagola is not the only variety of Rasagola available in Odisha and it's not just brown, as it is available in off-white colour too!
Plus, as per the GI authorities, despite the Banglar Rasogolla GI tag, the Rasagola origin debate is yet to be settled.

Chill! Rasagola belongs to India & to the Mouth & Stomach!

When anyone tries to question the incorrect news-reporting and stresses on the uncomfortable truth, conflict-managers & peace-lovers step in to dissipate tensions and to spread cheer saying there's no reason for a war!
"Rasagola tastes as good in all the states!" 
"Rasagola doesn't belong to any state, it's an Indian sweet!" 
"Rasagola belongs only to the mouth & stomach!"
Why the special status and attention to Rasagola?

If GI wasn't important, hundreds of applications wouldn't have been submitted for GI registration by the states so far.
Subsequent to West Bengal's products including Banglar Rasogolla, a number of products from Bihar and Rajasthan have also earned the GI tag.

Loopholes in the Banglar Rasogolla Application

There are some loopholes in the GI Application that Odisha can challenge.

The Rasagola Project 

As per some news-reports, there seems to be no intention to challenge the Banglar Rasogolla GI tag. Can a project ensure that the truth comes to light?

#RasagolaProject ??!*#!??

Sunday 19 November 2017

The Rosogolla Race: Odisha’s Inaction, West Bengal’s Gain

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How many of us know that the Gobindobhog rice, grown in West Bengal for the past 300 years in Bardhaman district, got the Geographical Indication (GI) status in August 2017? 
Or that two other Bengali sweets- Bardhaman Sitabhog and Bardhaman Mihidana also got the GI tag this year? Did the media and state’s CM share the above “sweet news” so competitively?
But, notice the GI tag victory claim for "Banglar Rasogolla" ("Bengal's Rasogolla or Rasogolla of Bengal") that has a Banglar history of just 149 years (1868-2017) !
In stark contrast, Odisha's Jagannath Temple in Puri has an 800 years old cultural association with Rasagola.
Even now Rasagola is offered as bhog during Niladri Bije, the last day of Ratha Jatra.
As per tradition, Niladri Bije is the only day when Rasagola is offered as bhog to Lord Jagannath.

Tuesday 14 November 2017

"Battle" Over Rasgulla - Misleading Media Information

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"Banglar Rasogolla" was "invented" in Bengal in 1868.
West Bengal had filed an application and has received a certificate for "Banglar Rasogolla" today.

Geographical Indications (GI) Registry is a Quasi Judicial Authority. This impartial authority grants GI status on the basis of details and supporting documents.
Application Number- 533 refers to "Banglar Rasogolla".
It has been available from 14th July 2017.
Today, on 14th November 2017, West Bengal has got the GI certificate for "Banglar Rasogolla".

It may be noted that Odisha Govt. is yet to file any application for Rasagola.
There is a mind-boggling choice as many varieties of Rasagola are available in Odisha. Each region has its unique preparation and specialty e.g. Pahala, Salepur, Jatni, Kukudakhandi, Nuapatna etc.

Thursday 2 November 2017

MAYFAIR Palm Beach Resort, Gopalpur-on-Sea

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One of the luxury properties of MAYFAIR Hotels & Resorts Ltd., the MAYFAIR Palm Beach Resort is located at Gopalpur-on-Sea in Odisha.
Gopalpur-on-Sea is a picturesque beach town of Odisha.
We started from Bhubaneswar in the morning by car and covered 165 kms via NH16 to reach the resort in Ganjam district. Our journey took us less than three hours.
With a faint sound of the sea in the background and well-maintained greenery, my first impression, when we entered the resort's premises, was that we had reached nature's lap!

In fact, I was so enamoured by the ambiance, that I had nearly forgotten to carry my laptop bag from my father's car!

We were greeted with welcome drinks at the arrival lounge.
After completing the process at the reception, we couldn't wait to explore.
It was interesting to learn about the history of the resort.
The walk to our room was pretty impressive with Memorabilia proudly displayed everywhere.
We greeted the framed photos of important dignitaries & past guests.

I was excited to see the sea-themed flooring. I imagined that I was walking on the sea-bed!
Do you know the sea has gifted a special present? A boat that had reached the resort during the 1999 SuperCyclone !
Stationary tortoises give company too!
Pretty mermaids, pirates and sea-stories depicted in the paintings on the walls, told their own story.

We stayed in a 'Deluxe Room' that was well-furnished.
It had an exclusive balcony.
I was filled with joy to see the verdant green lawn and the sea !
The sea-view was fabulous and I instantly decided that I had to go for my maiden sea-bath!
Later, I found that the resort has dedicated life-guards who accompany guests for the sea-adventure!

There is also a huge bath-tub in the spacious bathroom for those who would rather skip the above mentioned sea-bath!

The resort shop had interesting items for sale.
There are many recreation facilities- Games Room, Sauna, Gym, Spa, Swimming Pool etc.
However, the feedback that we got from some visitors was that the access time for all these can be increased so that the rooms can be open till late evening for the interested guests.
As the resort was full, last-minute plans of an appointment at the Spa didn't materialise.

There are fountains and a temple too!
I loved the tea-shop where the resort serves complimentary tea, cookies, and a spicy and tangy snack called Jhaal Mudhi.
Jhaal Mudhi tastes extra special with the aura of the sea! It's great to savour these goodies enjoying the sea's antics!

The food at the restaurant was yummy with a large number of dishes including traditional Odia dishes.  But, I would like the resort to regularly serve some Odia specialty desserts like Rasagola and Chhena Poda.

I interacted with a family that had driven down from Kolkata.
The food at dinner was great with fabulous Hindi movie songs. At first I thought audio-tape was playing. Then I saw a singer singing Bollywood songs in the next room!
When I requested that even I wish to sing, singer Dilip politely informed me that guests are not allowed to sing! But, as I was determined, he finally agreed to hand over the mike and I enthusiastically sang 3 songs on Karaoke!

Though the room was so comfortable, yet I woke up early to witness "Sunrise At Gopalpur-on-Sea".
The fantastic experience inspired me to write a poem.

The resort has a rich plantation with many plants and trees like Curry-leaves, Coconut, Banana etc. Fresh in-house produce is used in the kitchen!
The sustainability efforts are commendable. There is garbage segregation in the resort premises.

I felt everything about the resort was in total harmony and had been intelligently presented.

It is well-lit even at midnight.
Source: Mayfair Resorts
Many places of interest are in and around Gopalpur-on-Sea in Ganjam district of Odisha.
As we have visited many of these places, this visit was exclusively spent at the resort and at the welcoming beach.
We simply loved our two-days stay there!
I strongly recommend MAYFAIR Palm Beach Resort to all. Do plan your visit to Odisha India's Gopalpur-on-Sea soon.
More posts & pics are yet to be shared!

Disclaimer- MAYFAIR Palm Beach Resort sponsored one-day stay for us, while we paid for the second-day. This is an honest review. All views are my own.

Thursday 19 October 2017

Oh My Diwali!

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They blamed me and said things are not fine.
Just because I was dark, the night was dark too.
I thought - can't they see the extra stars shine?
To brighten up the night, don't they have any clue?

Waxing & waning is my nature; always been so!
Why so many people are complaining tonight?
What's so special that they want me to glow?
Why this demand to view my form that's bright?
Image result for amavasya 2017

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