Only *Irresponsible* Adults Burst Crackers on Diwali?

SC Bans #Fireworks Sale at #NCR. Actually, IMO, this rule should have been enforced across India.

I can understand the need for children to burst #crackers, but I see many many *#irresponsible* adults bursting crackers with equal enthusiasm just because there is an excuse (#Diwali) and the mob culture is at action in full swing.

It’s common knowledge that crackers pollute our environment directly, all that sound is intolerable to animals/birds, child labor is exploited fully for making crackers, hazardous accidents and health issues result out of it, etc. etc.

But still, we adults cannot do without our share of FUN. Of course, I am also guilty sometimes (mostly due to social pressure), so blame me too and CONTINUE the FUN.

I realize *irresponsible* is a mild word. What I actually wanted to say: Human Insensitiveness, Hypocrisy and Intolerance towards nature and other species is out of its veil, and is on display in its original raw n arrogant form everywhere on a festive day. What a sight!!

Diwali has always been a #festival of #Lights. Not Sound. Definitely not crackers.

Grow up this Diwali.

#spreadlightnotnoise

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PS: When I published the above as a Facebook status, I got comments like we are anyway polluting the environment through vehicles, factories, power production, etc. Hence, why stop only crackers – why not stop all that too?

My answer is: Look at a sustainable way to do the same things. Vehicles can also run on electric power. Electric power can also be produced through renewables. There are also organic alternatives to chemicals. So why not aspire to shift to a more sustainable lifestyle that doesn’t harm the nature/environment?

Forget doing all these things right away – but is there at least such an aspiration?

Organics & Millets 2018 International Trade Fair at Bengaluru

Organics & Millets 2018 International Trade Fair is scheduled to happen from January 19 – 21, 2018 at Palace Grounds, Bengaluru.

To promote the event, Karnataka’s Honorable Minister of Agriculture, Shri Krishna Byre Gowda, visited and interacted with us bloggers and journalists at Prems Grama Bhojanam, Adyar, Chennai. A few glimpses from that event is embedded in the below slideshow –

This organic and millet fair will happen over three days and 400+ stalls are expected to occupy the 1,00,000+ sq. feet of exhibition space. There will be millet food courts, conferences, workshops, interaction/competitions for students and public & promotions for businesses operating in this space.

The 3-day expo prominently features organic foods & processing, organic textiles, organic dairy and animal products, Millets and processed millet products, certification bodies, processing and packaging technology/machinery, etc.

Visitor profile includes farmers, vendors & businesses, consumers, Government and everyone else who wants to switch over to healthier foods or help others do so through their businesses.

Why you should opt for millets over rice/wheat –

  • Highly nutritious
  • Gluten-free
  • Low glycemic index
  • Grows well with minimum water as rain-fed crops, reducing the consequences of water scarcity and carbon emissions.
  • Requires minimal soil fertility hence avoiding harmful chemical pesticides and manures to a great extent.
  • Some millets can be harvested and be re-grown multiple times in the same year, increasing profits.
  • Cost required to produce millets, and hence the selling price, is lesser.

On the day of the promo meet at Prems Grama Bhojanam, Adyar — which is an eatery that serves millet-based cooked food in Chennai — we discussed on how all agriculture was organic even a few decades back, how businesses and foreign Governments promoted chemicals, how those chemicals affect people’s health, why organic and millet foods are beneficial, what are the issues hindering the adoption of millets, and other topics.

  • It seems there are entire villages, even in Tamil Nadu where people primarily eat millets, and rice is only a festival food.
  • Eating just one type of food is not advisable and millets bring a balance in the nutrition.
  • Millets are healthier and easier to digest.
  • Although the cost of millets is higher now, mass consumption and hence mass production can bring down costs drastically.
  • Lack of trust in a few organic shops — with or without certifications — is a hurdle that we need to tolerate and cross together in the initial stages.
  • More eateries and cooking shows ought to be organized to make public acquainted with millet-based foods, which are very similar to the regular rice/wheat foods that we eat.

Personally, I switched from rice to kambu (bajra) about 4 years back and have reduced at least 15% of my weight just because of that one change. I need much less bajra per serving and it is very light on the stomach. Overall my health has been better since that change.

Hence, I suggest others also to try millets. Even if you don’t want to switch over to millets right away, try to eat millet-based food occasionally – like once or twice every week. Govt. of Karnataka has even released an entire recipe book featuring millet foods.

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Independence Day Celebrations @ Vasantham Special School, Chennai


Today, we went to Vasantham – Special School for the Differently Abled @ Mogappair East, Chennai for the Independence Day celebrations. They had assembled an impressive array of cultural programs. You can have a glimpse into some of those moments in the above-embedded video.

Considering how difficult it might have been to train kids to perform on stage, their efforts ought to be appreciated. The children danced, sang, acted in skits, and even put up fancy dress avatars as Bharathiyar, Vivekananda, Modi, among others!

It seems this school was initially started with six kids in 1989. Now the school has 143 children, 60 of them residential.

They provide vocational training to the children to make products like bags, shawls, files, paintings, greeting cards, etc. which they sell to anyone interested. We bought a nice white jute bag which you see at the end of the above video.

They also arranged to distribute seed bombs during today’s function to increase the green cover. It seems they also have a terrace garden on their premises, which we would love to see someday.

Website for further Information: Vasantham.org

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PS: Wishing you a Happy Independence Day 🙂

Vegan Gulab Jamun Recipe (Delicious Indian Sweet)

I hope you remember my post on why milk may not be an optimum diet. Consuming milk also contributes to cruelty towards animals. That’s why I feel Going Vegan is a healthy and ethical lifestyle option. (I am not a Vegan myself yet, but I am trying to become one.)

That doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice tasty foods. Today, I bring to you a guest post by Preethi Raghav, a passionate Vegan, who will share the recipe to make tasty vegan gulab jamuns (without using milk). Why not try making this delicious Indian sweet at your home this Deepavali? 🙂

Recipe:

1. Boil sweet potato(2 big) for 2 whistles (shouldn’t get too mushy).

2. Prepare sweet syrup by mixing jaggery(1 cup), powdered green cardamom and water(3cups) until thick. Takes a while for it to thicken, I used less jaggery because we don’t like it too sweet, so used rice flour to thicken. Also, sweet potato already has sweetness, so you don’t want it to be toooo sweet!

3. Mash sweet potatoes, bread slices (2) finely chopped, wheat flour (2tbsp), baking soda (a pinch), ground oats (3 tbsp, can be missed). Mix well to a dough consistency. Knead well so it takes in lesser oil and start making tiny balls and keep aside.

4. Heat oil in a frying pan, fry these tiny balls.

5. Soak in sweet syrup overnight and enjoy this delicious cruelty-free vegan gulab jamuns.

Vegan Gulab Jamun (Indian Delicious Sweet) Recipe

Author: Preethi is currently an MSc Nutrition in Practice student at Leeds Beckett University. She is a passionate and ethical vegan. She hopes to explore the relationship between Plant-based diets and overall health.

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PS: Happy Deepavali to all my commenters and non-commenters 🙂

Do We Care for Trees?

If you are in India, do one thing today – go to any street (with a few trees still left in them) and look closer at the trees and the area around them.

Recently, we went to a tree walk conducted by Nizhal at Nandanam, near the area where O.T. Ravindran, a plant artist and a tree conservator, lived. Click the above link to read about the great person who lived amidst us, whose paintings were brought out as postal stamps, but we are unaware!

During the tree walk, the organizers showed us how we are harming trees without even thinking twice.

  • Most of the trees on the road had advertisement planks/banners on their trunks fixed using deep nails. The number of such nails on a tree was appalling. It seems these nails affect the trees.
  • People had put bricks, stones, dust, etc. all around trees. This prevents water seepage and inhibits the well being of the tree.
  • People had cut huge branches of trees to accommodate buildings, etc. The issue is, these open portions of cut branches will lose moisture faster and is bad for the tree.
  • The open cage enclosure that was in place when the tree sapling was planted was never removed and in one tree we found it around a huge trunk, inhibiting the growth.
  • In front of one house, a solid cement pathway was built all around a tree. But they said this is better than cutting off the tree entirely as is practiced by many of our citizens!
  • Lights were wound around a tree in front of a shop to attract customers. These lights disturb the sleeping pattern of the birds on them which will eventually leave the tree. The heat generated by the lights is bad for the tree.

Tree-abuse is more common and more prevalent than we might think. We observed the above cases in just one street – imagine what we are doing to trees across the city and across the nation! It seems Nizhal’s volunteers go around the city on Sundays and holidays to remove the nails, banners, etc. put on trees.

I feel we should be more caring towards the trees around us – the first step would be to recognize the ways in which we are abusing them.

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India’s First Social Brand (Merci) offers an Alternative to Leather Products

Merci is India’s first social brand that offers an alternative to leather-based products. They make many products (like the ones shown above) that are non-leather and cruelty-free. Did you know that 10,000 animals are slaughtered every five minutes for their skin? So say no to leather.

Merci: Compassion through Fashion. 

Merci’s business model is unique. They are an NGO run by volunteers and they donate 100% of their profits to other NGOs to be redeployed towards social causes. That’s what I’d call a vision! Continue reading “India’s First Social Brand (Merci) offers an Alternative to Leather Products”

Is Rain the reason for Chennai Floods? Absolutely NOT

***I am not an expert on this topic and I don’t claim factual accuracy. This article has been written based on my understanding of the situation, so feel free to correct me if I am wrong***

During the innumerable debates on Science Vs. Religion, I’ve been fed up with one section blaming the former while the other blames the latter. Blaming SYSTEMS while the actual blame lies on PEOPLE who do nefarious activities hiding behind the cloak of a system, is a favorite past-time for many.

The same thing is happening with Chennai Floods. People are blaming the ‘heavy’ rains and nature’s ‘fury’ while the actual blame lies on . . .  Continue reading “Is Rain the reason for Chennai Floods? Absolutely NOT”