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Brihadisvara Temple, Thanjavur

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Brihadeshwara Temple, Thanjavur
Brihadeshwara Temple, Thanjavur

Brihadisvara temple is a peerless piece of architecture and a remarkable Hindu temple built in between 1003 and 1010 AD by the Tamil ruler, Raja Raja Chola I on the southern bank of river Kaveri in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu. Locally also familiar as Rajarajeswaram which literally means, “the temple of the god of Rajaraja” or Peruvudaiyar Kovil, it’s one of the largest temples in the South and is a masterpiece of Dravidian architecture. The temple is predominantly related to Shaivism but proofs of Vaishnavism and Shaktism can be witnessed. Though the main temple ages back to the 11th century, mandapam and monuments were added in the following centuries. This thousand-year-old temple is now part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site adding to its exceptional historical and cultural value.

The vimana tower which is up to 216 feet tall above the temple is a huge attraction and is one of the tallest in South India and one of the tallest structures in the world when it was built. The temple also has one of the largest Shiva Linga in India and a brass monument of Nataraja- Shiva as the lord of the dance. The magnificent Nandi statue is another attraction in this place. Standing two-meter tall, six-meter in length and two-and-half meters in width weighs almost 200 tonnes which is a lot considering that it was sculpted from a single stone. The architectonics of the tower is so brilliant that it never casts it’s own shadow on the ground at noon which remains a mystery. It’s also really astonishing how the temple was built entirely from granite which almost weighs 130,000 tons and there is no sign of granite within a 100-mile radius around the temple site. Looks like nothing could kill the king’s will power to build this structure.

The topmost structure called the vimana almost weighs 80 tons and is made up of a single stone. Nobody can tell you how it got up there on the 216 feet tall tower. There are several musical pillars, which make different sounds when taped, at the temple. Mandapas (worship chambers), an Antarala (antechamber) and Dvarapalas (guardian figures) are also present. The temple is one of the most visited places in South India and can be reached by road from all major cities and also by rail. It is also approachable by air till Trichy and then by road. Upon visiting you will realize the brilliance richness of South Indian architecture.

Idly Rice

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par boiled rice

There are hundreds of varieties of rice grown around the world. Rice is a staple not only in India but also in the middle east and parts of the Mediterranean. It is widely used in various forms of food. Rice originated in India, and it is first mentioned in Yajur Veda (1500-800bc) and frequently referred in Sanskrit texts.

Rice is often directly associated with prosperity and fertility; hence there is a custom of throwing rice at newly-weds. In India, rice is also the first food for newborn babies when they start eating solids or to husband by his new bride, to ensure they will have children. In BALI, rice is used as a blessing in religious ceremonies.

Preparation – 

Idli rice is generally parboiled rice used for mainly making idly’s. Rough rice that has gone through a steam-pressure process before milling. This procedure gelatinises the starch in the grain and ensures a firmer, more separate grain. Parboiled rice is often preferred for extra fluffy and separate cooked rice, and also is used to make a variety of pancakes, cakes and snacks. The grains do not stick together when cooked, and it is favourite in India as the grains hold together without breaking or disintegrating when mixed with various curries.

In India, the original par-boiled rice is used along the Southern coasts, where the process of boiling the rice before husking and milling makes the grains tough and indestructible, and pushes the B complex vitamins into the inner kernel. Generally, parboiled rice is also aged rice and is believed to taste better and retain more nutrition. This rice is used for everyday eating in the South. It is said that it tastes best for Idli, and some prefer it for Pongal. So good quality parboiled rice, which is specially processed for making idly’s is sold as Idly Rice in Indian Grocers. Parboiled rice or idly rice is called as puzhungalarisi in Tamil.

Benefits of Parboiled Rice

Parboiled rice might sound like it’s precooked, but it’s not. Instead, it’s processed quite differently from other types of rice. The resulting grain is cooked and served just as you would white or brown rice. However, because of the special processing, parboiled rice is a better source of fiber, calcium, potassium and vitamin B-6 than regular white rice.

a) B Vitamins

Parboiled rice is especially rich in niacin, providing 4 milligrams, or 23 percent of the recommended daily intake in 1 cup of cooked rice. You’ll also get 19 percent of the daily intake of vitamin B-6. These values are about double the amount you would get from non-enriched white rice. Your body needs B vitamins to metabolize food into energy, but they also fill other roles, such as helping make hormones and neurotransmitters. Vitamin B-6 removes the amino acid homocysteine from your bloodstream by turning it into other substances. This might help keep your heart healthy; high levels of homocysteine are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

parboiled rice

b) Minerals

One cup of cooked parboiled rice supplies 2 to 3 percent of the recommended daily intake of calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium. You’ll get a slightly bigger boost of zinc, with 1 cup containing 0.58 milligrams of zinc. That amount represents 5 percent of men’s and 7 percent of women’s daily needs. Zinc performs vital roles throughout your body, from forming the structure of proteins to regulating DNA. If you don’t get enough zinc, your immune system becomes impaired; it needs zinc to produce the cells that fight bacteria and infection

Why Para Boiled Rice? 

We know that parboiled rice which looks shinner and smaller in grain size is used for idly making it is widely preferred over normal rice because Idlis are so soft when made with this rice they are said to be as soft as jasmine. Cooking time is also less when the batter is prepared with this rice. As this kind of rice is not fully polished this is very good for health.

Conclusion

So this rice gained high popularity because of nutritional values. It is highly advised to include this in your regular diet to maintain a healthy body. You can relish this dish with different kinds of chutneys. So replace the junk food you eat with healthy and simple dishes made from this rice.

Madurai Meenakshi Temple

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Gopuram

Location: Madurai, Tamil Nadu

Built By: Kulashekarar Pandyan

Architectural Style: Dravidian

Dedicated To: Meenakshi (Goddess Parvati) and Sundareswarar (Lord Shiva)

Tradition: Shaivism

Major Festival: Tirukalyanam Festival / Chithirai Thiruvizha

Temple Structure 

Shrine Structure

The temple occupies a huge area in the heart of Madurai as it spreads over 14 acres. The temple is enclosed with huge walls, which were built in response to the invasions. The entire structure, when viewed from above, represents a mandala. A mandala is a structure built according to the laws of symmetry and loci.

There are various shrines built within the temple complex. Apart from the two main shrines, which are dedicated to Sundareswarar and Meenakshi, the temple has shrines dedicated to various other deities like Ganesha and Murugan. The temple also houses goddesses Lakshmi, Rukmini, and Saraswati.

The temple also has a consecrated pond named ‘Porthamarai Kulam.’ The term ‘Potramarai Kulam’ is a literal translation of ‘pond with a golden lotus.’ The structure of a golden lotus is placed at the center of the pond. It is said that Lord Shiva blessed this pond and declared that no marine life would grow in it. In the Tamil folklore, the pond is believed to be an evaluator for reviewing the worth of any new literature.

History

Gopuram

Madurai Meenakshi temple was built by King Kulasekara Pandya (1190-1216 CE). He built the main Portions of the three-storeyed gopura at the entrance of Sundareswarar Shrine and the central portion of the Goddess Meenakshi Shrine are some of the earliest surviving parts of the temple.

Maravarman Sundara Pandyan I built a gopura in 1231, later expanded and named as Sundara Pandya Thirukkopuram. Chitra gopuram (W), also known as Muttalakkum Vayil, was built by Maravarman Sundara Pandyan II (1238-1251).

Maravarman Sundara Pandyan II also added a pillared corridor to the Sundareswara shrine and the Sundara Pandyan Mandapam. It was rebuilt after the 14th-century damage, its granite structure was renovated by Kumara Krishnappar after 1595.

Though the temple has historic roots, most of the present campus structure was rebuilt after the 14th century CE, further repaired, renovated and expanded in the 17th-century by Tirumala Nayaka.

In the 16th century, the temple complex was further expanded and fortified by the Nayak ruler Vishwanatha Nayaka and later others. The restored complex now houses 14 Gopurams (gateway towers), ranging from 45–50m in height, with the southern gopura tallest at 51.9 metres (170 ft).

Opening Timings

  • Opening timings of Madurai Meenakshi temple is from 5 AM to 12.30 PM.
  • It again opens for darshan at 4 PM to 9.30 PM.
  • When going for darshan at Meenakshi Temple, make a plan for at least two-three hours for a relaxed exploration of the temple and darshan of the deity.

Festivals:Madurai Function

During the 12 months of the Tamil calendar year, every month there is a festival in the temple.

Serial No. Name of Tamil Month Detail of the Festival
1 Chithirai April – May Chithirai Brahamostavam
2 Vaikasi May -June Vasantham Festival
3 Aani June- July  Unjal Festival
4 Aadi July- Aug Aadi – Mulai Kottu Festival
5 Aavani Aug.-Sep Aavani Moolam Festival – ” Puttukku Mansumantha Leela Festival”
6 Puratasi Sep – Oct Navarathri festival
7 Ayppasi Oct -Nov Kolattam Festival
8 Karthigai Nov -Dec Kolattam Festival
9 Margali Dec -Jan Thiruvathirai – Arudhra Dharsan Festival and Thiruvembavai and Thiruppavai Festival.
10 Thai Jan- Feb A major portion of utsavam performed in A/M Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple. Thepporstovam in A/M Mariyamman temple theppam.
11 Masi Feb – March Masi –   Mandala utsavam for 48 days.
12 Panguni March – April Summar Vasantham Festival

Laddu Prasadham

Laddu Prasadham

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami launched the free laddu prasadam distribution scheme at the Madurai Meenakshi temple. The Chief Minister inaugurated the scheme through video conference from the Secretariat here, under which devotees visiting the ancient temple will be provided laddu prasadam through the day and all-round the year.

According to the Meenakshi temple, approximately 20,000 devotees visit the shrine every day and machinery has been procured to produce about 2,000 laddus in an hour.

Cleanest Iconic Place

   Gopuram

Meenakshi Amman Temple, also known as Minakshi-Sundareshwara Temple, is one of the oldest and most important temples in India. Located in the city of Madurai, the temple has a great mythological and historical significance. It is believed that Lord Shiva assumed the form of Sundareswarar (the handsome one) and married Parvati (Meenakshi) at the site where the temple is currently located.

Renowned for its astonishing architecture, Meenakshi Temple was nominated as one of the wonders of the world, but couldn’t make it into the list of ‘Seven Wonders of the World’. However, the temple is definitely one of the ‘Wonders of India’. It is also one of the main attractions of South India with thousands of devotees thronging it every day.

During the ‘Tirukalyanam Festival,’ which takes place over a period of 10 days, the temple attracts more than a million devotees. Despite many people visiting it every day, the temple is well-maintained and was named the ‘Best Swachh Iconic Place’ (cleanest iconic place) in India.

How to Reach Madurai Meenakshi Temple

Madurai Map

  1. By Air. Nearest Airport:  Madurai Airport – Madurai Meenakshi Temple (15.5 Kms – 34 mins) Direct Flights to Madurai.
  2. By Train. Nearest Train Station: Madurai Junction –  Madurai Meenakshi Temple(1.8 Kms – 9 mins) Direct Trains to Madurai.
  3. By Bus. Nearest Bus Station: Mattuthavani Bus Terminus – Madurai Meenakshi Temple (6.5Kms – 18 mins)
  4. Arappalayam Bus Station – Madurai Meenakshi Temple (3.6 Kms – 15 mins)