Monday, 18 February 2008


The Chilika lagoon is a picturesque marine brackish and freshwater ecosystem which was designated as a Ramsar Site in 1981. Ensconced along with the bay of Bengal, its blue waters spreads across 1165 square kilometers touching the districts of Ganjam, Khordha, and Puri of Orissa, India. About 35 rivers, streams and rivulets join the massive lake that shelters more than one million migratory birds, apart from the numerous local birds; who regularly visit it from far away places like Siberia, Iran, Mongolia, middle South-east Asia, Japan, America, Russia, Kazakhstan, the Rann of Kutch, Caspian and the Himalayas, among others. Starting from October every year, the in-migration season continues up to the month of February end as a matter of ritual. A survey conducted by the Kolkata based Zoological Survey of India in 1985 had identified about 800 faunas in the lake.
The highly productive ecosystem of the lagoon, having extremely rich biodiversity and natural resources supports about one million people including 0.2 million fisher folks round the year. Chilika is also the darling of the poets- the literati and lives as a fabled legend in the minds and hearts of the people of Orissa. And who does not know the presiding goddesses of Chilika—Kalijai, a newly wed bride, by a quirk of fate, who died inside the lake while sailing away to her in-laws house situated on the other far end of the waters? She ultimately became the guardian angel of the lake ceaselessly protecting the people in the lake, even today.
The Ramsar Bureau in 1993 added the name of Chilika to the list of the Montreus Records’ threatened list. To arrest the negative changes in the ecological character of the lake such as siltation, shifting of the inlet channel, fall in salinity, abnormal shoal formation along the outer channel, decline in fish landing, proliferation of freshwater weeds and other invasive species, poor discharge of floodwaters that precipitated water logging in the peripheral farmlands, and heightened shrimp cultivation through artificial hatcheries and enclosures and its resultant pollution; the Goa based National institute of Oceanography and the Central water & Power Research Station, Pune carried out diagnostic and applied research studies on the state of the affairs of the ailing lake. Subsequently, they recommended a number of scientific intervention measures to restore the equilibrium of the lagoon, including the social actions and strategies.
In order to reduce the length of the inlet channel up to 18 kilometers, an artificial mouth was opened in September 2000 that was supplemented and reinforced by the community supported treatment of the western catchments as micro watersheds. Further, the local non-government organizations, community based organizations and self-help groups, etc were enlisted and roped in to educate and sensitize the people near the lake’s catchment areas about the importance and ways and means to save the lake through outreach programmes and activities like village level meetings of the stakeholders. To monitor the key physiochemical and biological indices of the lake to determine the about the pace and process of restoration, monitoring hubs numbering 30, were established. Valuable research inputs such as silt deposits and inflow of fresh waters into the lake system, level of nutrients load, fish stock and distribution of Irrawaddy dolphins, regeneration of sea grass were regularly collected and analyzed; helpful for maintaining the optimum health level of the lake and to initiate rejuvenation actions.
Slowly, Chilika is now recuperating and regaining its natural luster and glory, though the anthropogenic causes still remain the main causes of concern. For the time being, the slow death of the wetland/lake has been largely averted because of timely intervention and it has been delisted from the Montreux Record by the Ramsar Bureau in November 2003.

Saturday, 16 February 2008


The 113 coarse sandstone monastery caves of Khandagiri and Udayagiri near Bhubaneswar, Orissa, India (Lat. 20.16 N; Long. 85.47E) was built in about second century BC. Conceived as the secluded enclaves for the Jain and Buddhist ascetics, it contains the megalithic chronicles of the great king Kharavela in Pali, who reigned from 168 till 153 BC. These adjacent caves rise up to 40 meters from the lateritic ground level. There is an 18th century temple dedicated to Mahavir, the 24th Tirthankara at the top of Khandagiri. One of the most fascinating Buddhist archaeological remains of Orissa is the imposing square central brick Stupa of Udayagiri.

Friday, 15 February 2008


The alluring yummy spongy sugar candy tastes delicious, of course! But, where are the toddlers and children, including the grown-up varieties, like me?

Thursday, 14 February 2008

hi, what are you waiting for?

....there are 12 months to get drenched in moistest of love; 52 weeks to say and hear I love you; 365 days to give and receive the tenderest of love; 8760 hours to savor the bliss of love; 525600 minutes to simply love and just be loved; and 31556000 seconds to feel what it mens to be my beloved and love... (and that is just for one year, honey!)
r u ready?

Tuesday, 12 February 2008


The art tradition of Orissa has a long continuity and is considered very rich and vivid. If we travel back in time, then we find that the most ancient paintings were drawn by the pre-historic artists in the rock shelters of Western Orissa. Since then, the Oriya Chitrakars have contributed liberally and developed a distinct identity through their creations. Broadly, the state’s schools of paintings can be classified as tribal, folk and classical. It is interesting to note that these schools gained immensely by receiving from each other. The earliest rock paintings of Orissa are found in Ulapgarh and Vikramkhol of the undivided Sambalpur district, Manikamad and Ushakothi in Sundergarh district and Gudahandi and Yogimatha of Kalahandi district.
With about 24 percent tribal population, the state has a large number of tribal societal groups having their own styles and traditions of art. Extensively, these creations used the walls of the houses and rock caves and therefore, many of them were lost with the passage and ravages of time. However, the art works of the Saura tribal have remained well preserved and available for appreciation in good numbers. The art traditions of the Sauras have a commonality with that of the Kondhs, Pradhan and Gond tribes of the state.
The folk arts of Orissa, such as Jhoti and Muruja, etc. reflect the life cycle and religious obligations of the rural people. Largely divorced from the nitty-gritty of modern art, these art works still exhibit its splendor and simplicity on different socio-religious occasions.
Through inter-exchange of motifs, the classical Orissan arts and sculptures developed mutual, leaving an indelible impression of affinity. When the carrier is taken as the defining factor, the classical arts have taken four well demarcated routes. These are the murals or wall paintings, Patta paintings or art on a specially made piece of cloth canvas, palm leaf paintings and finally, paintings on paper; where, the murals are the earliest form of classical art tradition of the state.
The age-old tradition of painting on apiece of treated cloth is known as Patta painting. Although, it is believed that it has its origin in the ritualistic requirements of the temple of Lord Jagannath of Puri, no certain proofs are available to us about its actuality. But it can be safely concluded that as a result of mandatory use of such paintings by the Temple, the art form thrived in the coastal district of Puri, ensconced on the Bay of Bengal along with peripheral demands of Hindu religious tradition, elsewhere. However, it is also a fact that the Buddhist monks also, prepared the Patta paintings depicting Lord Buddha, in order to spread his wisdom among the masses in India and other parts of the world. These scrolls were long but easy to carry and thematically different from the traditional Patta paintings of Orissa. The Orissan varieties of the following types: the Vaishnava Pattas incorporates the Bhagabata Pattas, Ramayana Pattas and the Jagannath Jatri Pattas; while the other groups are called Shaiva Pattas, Shakta Pattas and lastly, the profane or familial Pattas. This classification is derived, taking into account, the nature of depiction or theme.
Patta paintings come in various sizes and formats. The traditional artists have drawn Krishna, Radha, Rama, Laxman, Sita, Ravana, Hanuman, Jagannatha, Balabhadra, Subhadra, the Sri Mandir, various temple festivals, rituals, Shiva and Parvati, Durga, Mangala, Laxmi, Sarashwati, Bhubaneswari, Bhairabi, Chamunda, and Kali, etc., drawing inspiration from the Hindu religion and scriptures. Some prominent myths and legends also find mention on the Pattas.
There is no doubt that the Patta paintings have generally revolved around Hindu religious themes and the Lilas of select Gods and Goddesses. To a lesser extent and magnitude- the secular, mundane or profane themes have also become the favorites themes with the Patta Chitrakars. Ganjapa is an example of the secular variety due to its use as an instrument of pure game, sans any religious significance. These small circular playing cards, available in different sets and colours do have ordinary decorative motifs, having symbols and figurative representations like Dasavatar, Ramayan, etc. these paintings are also drawn on folded jackets, wooden and pulp masks, wooden and cow dung toys, bridal boxes, on the chariots used during the Ratha Yatra, etc.
On the various auspecious occasions at the Lord Jagannath Temple like Snana Jatra, Jhulana Jatra, Sri Krishna Janma Lila, Baman Janma, Sahasra Kumbhavishekha, Kandarpa Adhibasa, Chandan Jatra, Rukmini Bibha, etc. the religious/mythological Patta paintings are deployed copiously to add to the jest.
As per available information, the Chitrakars specializing in Patta painting were originally settled in Puri. They were exclusively devoted to the art and apart from the Jagannath Temple, were also engaged by the different local temples and Mutts. From the year 1541 to 1568, the artists migrated to various independent/princely states/kingdoms of the erstwhile Gadjats due to political instability and additionally along with the establishment of local Jagannath Temples in those places. Such dispersion of the Chitrakars took them also to Danda Sahi and the now famous heritage village of Raghurajpur, near Puri. By the year 1800, most of the migrant Patta Chitrakar families were firmly established enjoying the patronage of the local Kings and Zamindars in the sate. Many of them were given Jagir lands to serve the socio-religious needs of the local political establishments. Due to favorable conditions, these Patta Chitrakars thrived and in some cases full-fledged artist villages or settlements also came up in full bloom.
A piece of cotton cloth is first immersed in glue, made from the juice of tamarind seeds, after which it is sun-dried to achieve the most desired ideal firmness. The next step is known as Khadilagi, since a paste prepared from a concoction of dust of chalk stones and tamarind seeds is applied, in turn, on both sides of the Patta. Only when one side is completely dry, the paste is then applied on the reverse side. Thereafter, it is left to dry completely. As per requirement, the Patta is cut into convenient sizes for art work. Usually, the women folk polish the cloth, first by a coarse rock and then by a fine rock. This makes it a perfect canvas of surface evenness, ready for the masterly artistic strokes. This piece of cloth is again cut at the edges, to fine tune it to achieve perfect linearity. The Patta, at this stage takes a dull colour of white and maintains a workable firmness. Predominantly, but no exclusively; white, black and yellow colours are necessary for the painting work, respectively representing Lord Balabhadra, Lord Jagannath and Mother Subhadra. These hues are in vogue since the 12th century.
The white colour is prepared from the conch or other white Samuka, abundantly available from the sea. The raw materials are baked in fire a fine dust is made by grinding manually. From the dust of yellow stones, yellow colour is obtained. Likewise, black colour is prepared by burning an earthen lamp inside a vessel, half filled with water, on the surface of which sits the burning lamp. The released black fumes are trapped by putting a brassware above it, where the derivatives are deposited. Other non-standard colours used intermittently are also made from natural ingredients available locally.
In the primary stage, a stick rolled into a colour stroking instrument is made from the fume derivatives used to make black colour and the glue obtained from cooked rice. Other types of paint brushes are made from the hairs of calf (cow) or other draught animals. Some artists also make it using the belly hairs of the goat and the flying squirrel. From the roots of a bushy tree locally known as Kia, the painting brushes are also made.
While, lines are drawn by the artist along the edges of the Patta canvas to determine the actual area required for the theme painting, the thin spaces outside the core are kept for Bandha or for make-up work. After making line drawing of the various components of the desired themes, the remaining vacant spaces are filled up by applying light red colour, after which, the different colours are applied, following the spaces created by line drawing. Once the painting work is over, the Patta is treated or calibrated to make it durable.