Thursday, September 20, 2012

Barfi, a good film to watch

Barfi is a well made film. Directed by Anurag Basu, the film is about the friendship and  romance between a mentally challenged girl, and a deaf and mute boy.

There are twist and turns in the film. The parts that could have been better were the portrayal of the flashback scenes. The way some of the scenes were going back and forth, it did add to some confusion.

The good part was the uninhabited acting by Ranbir Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra.Their innocent fun and  romantic ways was quite refreshing to watch. Ranbir's falling in love with a beautiful young girl Ileana, their romance, and struggle was also nicely depicted.

Both Ranbir and Priyanka are brilliant in the film. I was quite impressed with Ileana's acting as well. She definitely ahs a screen presence and is beautiful. It is definitely a one-time watch. The comedy parts will remind you of Charlie Chaplin moments at times. Ranbir was really good in all aspects; whether comedy or romance, he just performed extraordinarily well.

Priyanka's acting as a mentally challenged girl was excellent too, great performance!

I do not regret wading through water to watch the film (there was major downpour in Kolkata, and where I live, it becomes Venice within no time! )
The water logged street through which I waded!

This film has some similarity with a film I had watched a long time back – “The Other Sister”. The story is about a mentally challenged girl who falls in love with a man who is challenged too. This film is brilliant and if you have not watched it, I would recommend that you watch it.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Animals of Ladakh, India

I am sharing some pictures of domesticated and wild animals of Ladakh, India.

Yak, Ladakh, India

Bactrian Camel, Ladakh
Pashmina Goat, Ladakh

Pashmina Goat, Ladakh

Himalayan Marmot, Ladakh
Himalayan Red Fox, Ladakh

Kiang Wild Ass, Ladakh
Woolly Hare, Ladakh, India

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Ladakh, one of the most beautiful places in India

Ladakh remains to this day, one of the most beautiful places that I have visited. The memories of my visit to Ladakh, which happened quite some time back (when I was in school), is still etched in my mind.

If you like traveling, Ladakh should definitely be in your list of "places to visit in India". The breathtaking beauty cannot be easily described, it has to be felt.
Ladakh landscape
Ladakh, India

My father was posted in Leh for two years. Family was only allowed during summers. That's how we ended up visiting Leh in June. We spent almost a month in Leh with my dad. And during our stay we visited a lot of places in Ladakh. Just thinking about Ladakh makes me want to visit it.

My cousin, Soma, who went to Ladakh, not so long back, clicked some really nice pictures of the beautiful Ladakh landscape (I am sharing some of the pictures taken by her)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Ranna pooja (cooking festival) in West Bengal

With the onset of September, the festival time begins...

"Ranna poojo", or  cooking festival, is not a well-known festival but is celebrated widely across West Bengal.It is celebrated on the same day as Vishwakarma puja, usually around the middle of September.

The households prepare for this festival by cleaning up with home almost a month before the festival day. The whole house is cleaned; starting from bedding to all the washable items in the house are washed and dried. The floors of the house are scrubbed cleaned too. In this festival, Oshtonag or the Snake God /Goddess is prayed.

The scientific reason behind this festival is quite interesting. During monsoons especially in villages, this festival is usually celebrated by villagers, ponds get over-flooded and there are incidents of snakes entering houses very often. Since, most of these household kitchens have stoves which are made of mud; snakes find these stoves ideal for hiding.  The cleaning of the whole house including the kitchen, ensures that the house is free of snakes, rats, ants etc. Since kitchens are always operational in most households, and the most likely places for snakes and rats, cleaning up the kitchen thoroughly ensures that hygiene is maintained.

The day before the puja, every article in the kitchen is removed and the kitchen is cleaned thoroughly. A  new stove is made out of the mud. And from now on cooking will happen only on the newly made mud stove. New utensils are bought during his puja.The cooking mostly happens in new utensils.

After taking a bath, the elderly woman in the family starts preparing to makes the new stove. Once the new mud stove is in place, preparations start for the elaborate cooking that is required for the puja. The preparation for cooking happens all through the day. The actual cooking starts at night.

Throughout the night the ladies of the house cook. The list of food item that is cooked is endless:-

The first thing that is cooked is rice and rice pudding (kheer). After that at least 5 types of vegetable fries are prepared (aloo, bhindi, baigan, banana, chichinga), followed by non-vegetarian fries- Rohu fish fry, prawn fry etc. Five kinds of vegetable are prepared too. Usually, one sweet and sour chutney is prepared. It is made out of a slightly sour fruit called "Chalta" (elephant apple) in Bengal. Sweets like, Kolar bora (sweet banana pakoras), coconut laddus fried in a crepe form etc. There is also special thali prepared for offering to the deity. This mainly has sweetmeats and fruits. Special care is taken so that everything is clean. It is the villagers' belief that if anything is slightly contaminated, it will displease Ma Manasa.

Another interesting thing is the spatula that is used for cooking. It cannot be the normal spatula that is used for everyday cooking. The spatula that is used for cooking for this puja, is made out of a branch of date Palm tree.

The next day, on the day of the puja, Seven leaves from Shapla flower is used to serve the bhog for the Osthonag deity (Manasa tree's branch is used as the Oshtonag diety) The seven plates are surrounded around the deity. On each plate all the food items that was cooked the previous night, is arranged. A new diya is lit and incense sticks are burnt. The pujari starts the puja and all the members of the household offer prayers. Once the puja and the rituals are completed; food is served. Everyone is invited, and people visit such houses in masses.

This puja is carried on from one generation to another and that is how it continues.

It is a belief that if the Ranna puja is done well, Ma Manasa (Snake goddess) will be pleased with them and snakes will not cause any harm.