Thursday, January 28, 2010

Rhythm of Colours: Painting expo at Wellington House















To pay homage to Jamini Roy, one of the most versatile and influential painters of the 20th century from West Bengal, the Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya (IGRMS), Mysore, has organised an exhibition titled ‘Rhythm of Lines and Colours’ at Wellington House on Irwin road where the paintings of Jamini Roy are on display till Feb. 5. The 41 paintings which are on display here in city will later be displayed at Bhopal. Entry is free and public can view these colorful paintings daily between 10 am and 5.30 pm.
About the artist
Jamini Roy, born in a middle-class family in 1887 at Bengal, invented the new style of painting with dramatic and dynamic delineation which is a source of joy and tranquility to the posterity. His father Ramataran Roy was also an amateur artist.
He studied at the Government School of Art in Calcutta in 1903. He was taught to paint in the prevailing academic tradition drawing classical nudes and painting in oils. In 1908, he received his Diploma in Fine Art. He learnt the academic methods then in vogue in the West and achieved his early fame as a portrait painter in the European tradition.
However, he realised that he needed to draw inspiration not from Western tradition but from his own culture, and cultivated a personal painting style inspired largely by traditional Indian folk and village arts, particularly those of Bengal. Jamini Roy, through his oil paintings, gave expression to the scenes of everyday life of the people of rural Bengal.
This gifted artist Jamini Roy moved away from his earlier impressionist landscapes and portraits; and between 1921-1924 he began his first period of experimentation with the Santhal, as he was very much influenced by the work of Santhals and their simple art. His new style was both a reaction against the Bengal School and the Western tradition. He used to propose his own paintings from indigenous materials like lampblack, chalk-powder, leaves and creepers.
Jamini Roy used to select themes from joys and sorrows of everyday life of rural Bengal, religious theme like Ramayana, Sri Chaitanya, Radha-Krishna and Jesus Christ, but he depicted them without narratives. He conveyed the message with evocative line and simple form which is understandable by all. His large painting of Jesus Christ, Krishna, Balaram and Radhika in tribhanga posture, assumes sculpturesque quality.
The thick precise outline as well as multi-coloured lines enclosing the figures, the bright wide eyes recall the traditional Kalighat patachitra, wooden figures, earthen alhadi putul and terracotta plaques of the temples of Bankura and Vishnupur as well as the mural paintings of Europe, France and Spain.
Some of his famous paintings are: Santhal Boy with Drum, Cats Sharing a Prawn, St. Anne and the Blessed Virgin, Makara, Cats Plus, Seated Woman in Sari, Krishna And Radha Dancing, Kitten, Virgin And Child, Crucifixion with Attendant Angels, Ravana, Sita And Jatayu, Warrior King, Krishna with Gopis in Boat, Krishna and Balarama.
His work has been exhibited extensively in international exhibitions and can be found in many private and public collections such as the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. The original collection of his paintings are on permanent display at the Indian Museum in Kolkata, as he spent most of his life living and working in Calcutta.
In 1934, he received a Viceroy’s gold medal in an all India exhibition for one of his works. The expositions of Jamini Roy’s works were first held in British India Street (Calcutta) in 1938. Jamini Roy’s pictures became very popular during the 1940s and clientele included both the Bengali middle class and European community.
In 1946, his work was exhibited in London and in 1953 in New York. Jamini Roy was honored with Padma Bhushan in 1955. He passed away in 1972 in Calcutta.
Roy’s awe-inspiring body of work has made him one of the most influential Modern Indian Painters. His art is accessible for a wider section of people and he gave Indian art its own identity. He freed his style, form and colour from the conventional artistic bounds and ushered in a new era in the trend of modern art.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

What's cooking at ISKCON ?




Due to extreme poverty people including those Below Poverty Line (BPL) cannot send their children to schools. These children are usually sent out to do odd jobs and earn some money.
Keeping this in mind, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) started an innovative and a pioneering project in Indian schools called 'Akshaya Patra'. The aim of the project was to provide mid-day meals to school children in rural areas and in places marked by poor economic conditions. Freshly prepared food would be delivered directly to the schools and served to these school children in the afternoon.
‘The Akshaya Patra Foundation’, involved in providing nutritious food to school children in Mysore district, was started in August 2004 and is today feeding 14,000 students daily in 60 schools under the mid-day meal programme.
Akshaya Patra Foundation is a public, charitable, secular Trust, registered in Bangalore. The Board of Trustees comprises missionaries of ISKCON Bangalore, corporate professionals and entrepreneurs.
The programme, 'Unlimited Food For Life' was initiated by ISKCON founder Acharya A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada. To fulfill the desire of Srila Prabhupada, Madhu Pandit Dasa, President of ISKCON, Bangalore, initiated the project known as "Akshaya Patra". The project was started in 2000 in Bangalore by adopting state-of-the-art technology in cooking.
After the success of Akshaya Patra project in Bangalore, it began its operations in Mysore on 16th August 2004, feeding 300 children in a school. The main aim of Akshaya Patra is to serve food for children below poverty line and to encourage them to continue their school education.
The Akshaya Patra kitchen at ISKCON Mysore was constructed according to a pre-planned, well laid out infrastructure and is completely mechanized. The kitchen incorporates state-of-the-art cooking technologies to minimise handling by cooks in order to ensure hygiene without compromising on quality and hygiene of the food [See pics alongside].
Some salient features of Akshaya Patra kitchen:
• The staff in the kitchen comprise around 60 people.
• It has three stainless steel cookers each with a capacity of 100 kg.
• Two sambar cookers each with a capacity to cook 1200 ltrs sambar.
• Steam boilers of industrial standards.
• Stainless steel cauldrons
• Specially designed containers for transporting food and six custom-built vehicles for distributing food to schools are also part of the equipment.
As most of the processes like cutting vegetables, loading the containers are all mechanized, this prevents food contamination.
Akshaya Patra adheres to high standards of quality. Even the employees are trained in cooking and follow hygienic standards.
The Government of India and Karnataka provide Rs. 2.60 per meal to the Akshaya Patra Foundation. The actual cost comes to around Rs. 5.40 per meal. The Akshaya Patra Foundation has to raise the donations from public to meet the deficit. The Central and Karnataka governments also provide sub-sidised land, water and 100% tax exemptions for donations towards Akshaya Patra Foundation which help the foundation to render quality service to un-derprivileged children.
"The governing body and management have formulated well-defined processes, which bring in efficiency and quality into our operations. We follow established processes for cooking meals and distributing them. Specially designed kitchens employing latest technology ensures quality and cost efficiency,” says Mahaprabhu Gauranga Dasa, Operation Manager, Akshaya Patra Foundation.
"Menu for the daily meals is planned based on the advice of nutritional experts to ensure best nutritional combination is provided for the child’s overall development. The kitchen has the capacity to cook 30,000 meals in 4 hours," he adds.
"Today, we firmly believe that feeding and educating an underprivileged child is not charity but it’s our social responsibility. We set forth to empower and enable underprivileged children by providing them with food for the body, mind and intellect. We are happy to state that we have achieved our mission objective of feeding 1 million children by 2010, in early 2009. We continue to reach out to more and more children, giving each one the equal opportunity to unlock their true potential. We now aspire to reach 5 million children by 2020."
"Mobilisation of funds from charitable organisations and individuals in Mysore city for this is very less because of which we are unable to reach the target. We need good organizational and individual support to continue and expand our service to the underprivileged school children," adds Mahaprabhu, who can be contacted on Mob: 99452-84334.
"Since Akshaya Patra was launched in our schools, children have enrolled for higher classes in greater numbers than before — an increase in the attendance from 60% to 80%," says a teacher.
When Star of Mysore conducted a survey in some schools, the children shouted in chorus: "We get hot meals everyday and we enjoy it."
The Akshaya Patra programme has a simple vision:
"No child in India should be deprived of education because of hunger."
About Akshaya Patra
The Akshaya Patra project, started in five schools in Bangalore feeding 1,500 children, has now grown into a mammoth endeavour reaching out to over a million children in 18 locations all over India. All kitchens are designed by the Akshaya Patra management consisting of qualified engineers to optimise quality and minimise cost. These are located at Bangalore, Hubli-Dharwad, Bellary, Mysore & Mangalore in Karnataka; Vrindavan & Mathura district in Uttar Pradesh; Jaipur, Baran and Nathdwara in Rajasthan; Puri and Nayagarh district in Orissa; Ahmedabad & Gandhinagar in Gujarat; Hyderabad & Vishakapatnam in Andhra Pradesh and Bhilai in Chhattisgarh.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Hair Care



Hair loss is a big worry for many. If you find a large number of hair strands while
shampooing or combing, you may think that you are on the way to baldness.
But it’s not so. In this article, Dr. Praveen V. Shetty, Dermatologist and Cosmetologist of Sanjeevini Skin and Laser Centre, speaks about the do’s and don'ts.

Hair grows from a structure called hair follicle which is situated in the skin of the scalp. Each human head carries millions of hair follicles and the number varies from person to person and it can not be altered by medicines.
The growing and shedding of hair depends upon the number of follicles and its health. Each hair follicle has its own cycle. The follicle gives rise to a single strand of hair which grows for about 2-6 years, and later it will shed. Again after a few months a new strand of hair grows from the same follicle and it can grow a new hair strand around twenty times over a lifetime. The average growth rate of hair follicles is 0.05 cm per month. Hair growth is like a cycle that consists of three phases: Anagen (active growth), Catagen (transition) and Telogen (resting phase).
Every person loses around 50-70 hair strands per day which is normal. When it exceeds more than that, it is considered as abnormal. Generally, if you find more hairs on your comb or on pillow or in the bathroom, your hair loss is more than normal.
The most common cause for hair fall is stress and lack of nutrition.
If stress is reduced by providing sufficient nutrition, hair fall level comes down. But the present generation gorges on fast foods and junk food which will not provide a sufficient amount of nutrition. Other causes are dandruff, pollution, hormonal diseases, infections, antibiotic intake, scalp infections like lice, ringworm, excessive washing of the hair, blow drying, vigorous combing, using of harmful chemicals as hair dyes, hair straightening techniques, certain harmful shampoos, over-exposure to sun, etc.
Is hair-falling hereditary?
Yes.
When does hair-falling start?
It can not be said exactly. In the older generations, hairs used to fall after 30 years, but in the present generation, we can find more hair fall in youngsters who are between 18-24 years.
Can density of hair be changed?
The number of hair strands from birth cannot be changed; it remains the same.
Does using gel or soap lead to hair fall?
Yes. Basically, when one applies gel, it should be washed off the next day. But avoid daily usage of gel. If you find bar soap is okay, stick to that. Make sure it should not be very harsh. Use a gentle soap and keep forehead clean all the time.
How should we use shampoo and comb our hair?
While shampooing, avoid piling your hair on top of your head as this causes tangles. Do not comb wet hair as it tends to break more easily. Use a broad brush. First, remove the tangles from the ends of your hair and then comb your hair from the entire length.
Is it harmful to wash hair daily?
If it is oily hair, have a daily wash using a mild shampoo. Don’t apply conditioner or oil. Use an anti-dandruff shampoo once a week and a regular shampoo. Don’t apply conditioner to the scalp, just apply it to the hair. If the scalp is dry, wash twice a week. Oil it regularly and apply egg to your hair once a week. Have a balanced diet.
Is using mehandi good for hair?
Mehandi is good, but it should be chemical free. Brown mehandi, kala mehendi are chemical-based and are not good.
Does dyeing cause hair fall?
Yes, of course, as a dye is made of harsh chemicals, it damages and dries the hair. It may also cause allergies sometimes. Basically, if one applies dye to the hair, some amount of dye will go to the roots, cause damage to the root and hair falls.
Is Homeopathy medicine safe?
Homeopathy medication is completely safe, without side effects, and does not affect your body in any adverse manner.
Will wearing a helmet lead to hair loss?
Wearing a helmet doesn’t lead to too much of hair loss but weakens the hair. It is also the same in the case of a cap or a hat.
Using shampoo and conditioner?
Stick to one shampoo. The basic purpose of a shampoo is to wash away the dirt and the oil, therefore, use a mild shampoo. Apply a good quality condi- tioner once you clean your hair with the shampoo, but do not over-condition your hair.
Food to be taken?
Good balanced food, more vegetables, fruits, green leafy vegetables, eggs, poultry, fish, broccoli, yeast, basically Vitamin B complex and minerals.
Will oil massage help? Use of oil?
Yes, an oil massage will help. In parlours, they massage oil well onto the scalp and later they steam. This rejuvenates cells and encourages hair growth and makes hair stronger. Once-in-a-week massage is ideal. If oil is used regularly, it works for dandruff as it is caused due to dryness and when you go out, the dust won’t stick straight onto the hair, it will stick to the oil, which can be washed off and the damage is less.
Will pregnancy cause more hair fall?
During pregnancy, hair condition improves. Hair loss is seen 2-4 months after delivery.
Some women also experience hair loss after stopping birth control pills. This is due to a change in hormonal balance. Hair fall will gradually decrease on its own.
Any exercise for hair problems?
Bend your fingers, hold them close and rub your finger-nails together for five minutes by the watch, twice a day. Apparently this yogic exercise solves most hair problems.
Does any application make hair white?
Hair turns white not due to application of any substance to it, but because the pigment (colour) producing cells stop doing their job. Even if one apply the harshest of chemicals, colours or bleach to hair, it turns dry and develop split ends and even fall out, but it will not cause white hairs.
Can improper care of hair cause hair loss?
Yes. If you wear pigtails or cornrows or use tight hair rollers, the pull on your hair can cause a type of hair loss. Some hair style can also cause hair loss.
Does sleeping pattern control hair loss?
Comb hair gently before going to bed, remove all bands or clips. Use a satin pillowcase, which allows your hair to move smoothly and thus cause less breakage.
How to avoid baldness?
Hair weaving or hair transplantation are both successful methods of avoiding baldness.
Precaution to reduce hair fall and strengthen hair:
• Apply, egg. It is one of the natural con-ditioners, nourishes the hair. It should be washed in normal temperature water. Do this once a week.
• Apply Curd and wash off after half an hour. Do this once a week.
• Deep condition of hair regularly is necessary.
• Avoid heat treatments like blow-drying, ironing, for some time.
• Use of mild shampoo.
• Drink plenty of juices, water and eat vegetables.
• Apply conditioner just to the hair, not to the scalp.
• Don’t comb wet hair and untangle knots very gently.
• Don’t keep on running fingers.
• Apply oil once a week
• Wash hair with warm water as far as possible.
• Trim hair regularly to avoid splits.
• Take up meditation and yoga to avoid stress.
• Use of too hot water also damages the hair.

Rare Ekanda Mysore Veena in-the-making


The heritage city of Mysore is known for its rich culture and royal patronage for arts and culture. Among other things, Mysore Mallige, Mysore Turban, Mysore Butti Chiguru (chiguru ele or betel leaf), Mysore Pak, Srigandha (Mysore Sandal), Mysore Silk, Mysore Palace, Dasara and so on have contributed individually and collectively in good measure to the grandeur of Mysore.
Mysore is also famous for Karnatak classical music which had enjoyed royal patronage. Many stalwarts had emerged as court musicians. They have evolved what is now known as Mysore Bani (style), especially in veena. When veena playing became a part of the culture, naturally manufacturing of veena also flourished, making Mysore one of the prominent centers in the art. Mysore evolved its own design for manufacturing veena, which came to be called Mysore Veena.
The Mysore Veene has a sober look and rich tonal quality. It competed in quality with the other types of Veena like Tanjore Veene from Tamil Nadu and Bobbili Veene from Andhra Pradesh.
The main components of Veene are the Resonator (Kumbha) the cross bar (Dandi) and the dragon face (Vyala). There is one more part, a small Gourd like attachment (Kayi) which adds to the tonal quality of Veena, by augmenting a bit to the resonance.
Usually Veenas are chiseled out of a seasoned jack wood, because of its easy workability. The main parts Kumbha (or Tumbha), Dandi, Vyala and the gourds are manufactured separately and joined together. This way of ma-nufacturing Veene is pretty easy. Such Veenas are called ‘Khanda’ Veena (assembled with several parts). Some times, the Kumbha and the Dandi are made by carving out of single piece of wood as a single unit, vyala is joined later. Such Veene is called ‘Akha-nda Veena’, rarely manufactured, only with specific requirement of an affluent client.
This Veena gives a better resonance to plucking of the strings. But the cubic content of wood required for manufacturing such Veena is more and even carving out this entire unit require more skill. In some Khanda Veenas, the Danda and Vyali might have been made out of rich quality wood, such as Rosewood. However, the Kumbha is normally carved out of Jack wood only.
There are only about a dozen Akhanda Veenas known to be in existence. Only a couple of them are being used in concerts. The rest are either being used for practicing in the house, with or without knowing the value of it or in display in museums. One such Akhanda Veena, the Kanaka Rajatha Saraswathi Veene of Veene Subbanna has been passed on to Vid. R.K. Padmanabha, who is using it in concerts. The tonal quality of this Veene is superb. This Veena is decorated by a silver formation of golden parrots, all along the top edge of the Kumbha and the Dandi. The seven cork handles for tightening the strings are made out of pure silver. There is a Golden Saraswati statue installed at the top. Inside the hollow of Dandi, there is a silver engraving of the name ‘Veene Subbanna'. Outside the Vyali, there are two silver engravings of Saraswati and Chamundi on either side.
The joint of Dandi and Vyali is covered with original ivory. The seating of the gourd (Hanasu), which sits on the thigh is made out of silver plate. A pure gold design can be seen at the end of Dandi. There is also a plaque of baby Krishna on all his fours (Ambegaalu Krishna). Vyali's head is beautifully carved to look also like a hood of a serpent and the eyes are decorated with two ruby stones. The teeth of Vyala are of pure ivory. With such de-coration and antiquity, it becomes an invaluable heritage piece.
One more Akhanda Veena belongs to Veene Seshanna, which has been donated to the museum managed by Dharmasthala Dharmadhikari Veerendra Heggade by Mysore V. Subramanya, grandson of Veene Seshanna. Another Akhanda Veene used by V. Doreswamy Iyengar is in the possession of one of the disciples of his brother, flautist V. Deshikachar. Another Akhanda Veene, which is used in concerts by Dr. Vijaya Raghavan, was got made by his father Prof. S.V. Srinivasa Iyengar. So we can count these Akhanda Veenas on finger tips and trace the origin and their present status. Such is the rarity of Akhanda Veena.
Therefore, Veenas with all the three parts, the Kumbha, Dandi and Vyali carved entirely out of a single piece of wood to make it as a single unit, is a real rarity. This type is called 'Ekanda Veena'. This gives the best possible resonance, as there are no joints in the entire body of the Veena.
However, the Kai or the Gourd is manufactured separately and attached in all the above types of Veenas. So also the wooden plate to cover the entire unit.
Veenas made out of wood other than Jack wood is not common. Wood with properties like warping, shrinking, susceptibility to attacks by termite and other insects are not useful for making a Veena. Another wood suitable for making Veena is Rose wood. But it is very hard to work with. Therefore it is not used even for making an Akhanda Veena, let alone an Ekanda Veena. Therefore, if somebody is making an Ekanda Veena, the news is sufficient to evoke curiosity and surprise. If it is made out of rose wood, then it will be a real news.
M.K. Narasimhan, a retired Dam Safety Civil Engineer of Mysore, is venturing to make such an Ekanda Veena out of a single log of Rose wood. The Kai or the gourd is also made out of hollow rose wood. Narasimhan, who is 62 years old, has also served in the Irrigation Department at Mysore. At present, he resides at Vidyaranyapuram in city [Mob: 9845591430].
The Veena being manufactured by this engineer is a big one measuring a total of 54 inches from Kumbha to Vyali head and the diameter of the Kumbha at its width is 14 inches. The height of the Veena from the ground to its highest peak point is also 14 inches. The rest of the construction is the same as any other common Veena, with a bridge to carry the four main strings and threetala strings. The main strings rests on 24 frets. The frets are made out of Silver rods. The gourd is going to be decorated with 999 touch silver inlay work.
The Veena will be decorated with 72 silver flowers to represent 72 Mela Karta ragas. The neck of the gourd will be decorated with seven petals engraved to represent seven Swaras, on which animals whose call represent each Swara, are engraved. For example, the call of the peacock denotes the Shadja, the call of a bull represents Rishabha, the call of a goat represents Gandhara, the call of the mythical bird Krouncha represents Madhyama, the call of the cuckoo represents the Panchama, the call of the horse represents the Daivata and lastly the call of Ele-phant represents Nishadha.
The structure of Veena is likened to human anatomy. As an example, the 24 frets are likened to 24 bones of the vertebral column, made with silver bars.
Narasimhan claims that thou-gh he could not learn playing Veena, the instrument lured him to make one by himself. He had to make an in-depth study of the structural and behavioural properties of wood, especially of Rose wood. After a thorough search of several years, he could lay his hands on a log of rose wood, which was more than a century old, in Thithimati forest area of Kodagu, with beautiful grains resembling the hood of a serpant. When the top plank was cut, the portion covering Kumbha had grains resembling the face of a Balamuri Ganapathi (Ganapathi with trunk twisted towards right side). There is a small white patch resembling a Kalasha in center of twisted trunk, which looks as though the trunk of the elephant head is holding the Amrutha Kalasha. The grains can be seen showing prominently the eyes and the ears of Ganapati and Oordhva Pundra.
The strings of the Veena after passing on the frets, rides on a bridge located on the resonator. The vibrations from strings gets amplified in the resonator. The bridge acts as the pivotal point in transmitting the vibrations from string to the resonator. Therefore, bridge is one of the most important parts of the Veena. This bridge is designed to sit on the resonator on two flat legs, bound by a top piece. Normally this entire unit is made from a single piece of wood, which resembles an inverted and elongated 'U' or letter 'Ga' in Kannada. The tala strings are also passed on the side of this contraption with small hook-like projections. The bridge of Ekanda Veena looks like the Beejakshara of Ganapathi, 'Gam' (UÀA) written in Kannada alphabet.
Narasimhan claims that he has applied every technique to make this Veena very tough to sustain the ravages of time. He has utilised all his engineering skills like behavioural studies of material like wood, metal and adhesive. The geometrical designs, aesthetics, inlay work are all being carefully crafted as per the scriptures, he says.
The rose being very tough to work with, making a Veena by hand demands much care and skill. Narasimhan works on his project every day for nearly 6 to 8 hours, since about fourteen months. He may require another year-and-a-half to complete the Veena. It will be a unique one, possibly the only Ekanda Veena in the entire world.
There is a need for the Government to recognise such artisans and encourage them. At present there are only a couple of Veena makers in the city and others are only assemblers. Even the Music University coming up in the city may play a vital role in promoting the art of making Veena, which is slowly disappearing from Mysore.
The Music University may take up documentation of such rare Veena in particular and all musical instruments in general. The makers of musical instruments can also be catalogued and classified under different standards for promoting the art of making the instruments, as the clan is a dwindling lot.
[Saturday 26th September 2009]

Showcasing Dasara Dolls


Showcasing dolls during Dasara is a traditional practice of our royal city since the regime of Mysore Maharajas. Even today most households in Mysore find time to display dolls during Dasara.
On the eve of Dasara every year, Ramsons Kala Pratishtana also holds Bombe Mane expo at its Pratima Gallery, Opp. Mysore Zoo, which will conclude tomorrow.
Here we take you to some of the households, where a variety of dolls collected over the years from various parts of the country are on display:
S. Banumathi Sundareshan, working at DC office, who is displaying dolls since many years, says: "It was my strong ambition to display the dolls and keep the festival alive as ours is a cultural city. On seeing the dolls on display, the new generation will come to know about our traditional practice observed during Navaratri."
In Banumathi's collections, Goddess Durga occupies the topmost platform while other dolls are arranged in descending order. Apart from this, the model of High Court, H1N1, Godess Madurai Meenakshi, Sharadamma, replicas of trees and government schemes like distributing cycle for girls, serving hot meals in schools are the new additions to her collection of dolls this year. Shivalinga made from coconut shell is eye-catching. Many dolls displayed here are 40-years-old. She is helped by her husband Sundareshan and family members.
Banumathi has many prizes to her credit and was also awarded 'Sthree Kala Shakthi' title by the city-based Sthree Shakthi Mahila Prathishtana, headed by novelist Mangala Satyan, which conducts Dasara Dolls Show contest every year. Hundreds of traditional and heritage dolls will be on display at Banumathi's residence 'Sougandhika', CH-58, 5th Cross, Saraswathipuram [Mob: 99866-43423] till Oct. 29.
Hemalatha Kumaraswamy, an employee of Zilla Panchayat, is displaying her doll collection since 20 years at her residence in Agrahara near 101 Ganapathi Temple. She has decorated her house with different mythological dolls. Dolls of gods, goddesses in which some of them depict the art and culture of India — Krishnavatara, Srirama Pattabhisheka, Lanka Dahana, Samudra Manthana, Vaikunta, Mahabalipuram, Tirupathi temple and many more, add beauty to her collections. Models of KRS dam, Kailasa, Chamundi Hill, Subramanyaswamy Temple, Nali-Kali (Govt. Scheme), Naga-rahole, Jog Falls, Dasara procession, Chamarajendra Circle and Krishnarajendra Circle made of thermocol are the new additions to her collections which attracts the visitors.
Hemalatha, who has also won Sthree Kala Shakthi, Kalata-paswi, Kalashakthi and many more awards, says the dolls on display has a story woven around them and it would rouse the interest of the kids viewing the dolls to learn more about the traditional practice and the stories connected with them.
Hemalatha has displayed more than 1,500 dolls in her house. She is helped by her husband Kumaraswamy, a BSNL employee. She can be contacted on Mob: 94482-08539.
Replicas of great leaders like Gandhiji, Shivaji, Ambedkar, saints, social reformers and Ashtalakshmi (eight types of Lakshmi), Dashavatara of Vishnu, birth of Lord Krishna and his childhood along with other gods and goddesses in dancing postures brought from various States are on display at the residence of G.R. Jayashree on 13th Cross, Saraswathipuram. [Mob: 94480-54236].
Jayashree’s husband C. Nagaprasad, who is also interested in arranging dolls, has done the statue of Lord Venkateshwara as Brah-motsava is ongoing in Tirupati.
"Apart from our friends, relatives and neighbours, people from different parts of the city are visiting our residence to see the dolls," says Nagaprasad.
[Tuesday 29th September 2009]

Onam


Onam, the harvest festival, is celebrated in Kerala during the Malayalam month of Chingam (August-September). This year it will be celebrated on Sept. 12. It is celebrated to commemorate the homecoming of King Mahabali, considered as a be-loved ruler. Onam recalls the sacrifice of the great king, his devotion towards God, hum-bling of his pride and his final redemption. The name Mahabali means ‘Great Sacrifice.’
Onam was recognised as the Main Regional Festival of Kerala in 1961. The festival is a ten-day celebration involving Pookalam, boat races, dances, carnivals, cultural prog-rammes, sports, culminating with the traditional meal called Onasadya. Spectacular parades of caparisoned elephants, fireworks and Kathakali dance are traditionally associated with Onam. The tenth day, Thiru Onam, is considered most auspicious .
Origin of Onam
Along time ago, a demon king (Asura) called Mahabali ruled over the region which is now known as Kerala. Though he belonged to an Asura dynasty, he was an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu.
Mahabali was the son of Veerochana and grandson of Bhakta Prahlada (son of demon King Hiranyakashyap who was slayed by Lord Vishnu in his Narasimha Avatar).
Mahabali was a benevolent, judicious ruler. But he was a greedy conqueror. His subjects were quite happy. There was no sorrow, poverty, disease or untimely death in his kingdom. His bravery and strength of character earned him the title “Mahabali Chakravarthy” - the King of Kings.
Soon, his fame as an able king spread far and wide. Gods began to fear that he might become Aditi (the King of Devas) and pleaded with Lord Vishnu to curtail Mahabali’s powers and pride. Lord Vishnu took his fifth avatar as ‘Vamana’ (a poor dwarf Brahmin) and appeared in the Kingdom of Mahabali while he was performing an Ashwamedha Yaga and asked for a piece of land.
The generous King said he could have as much as land he wants. Vamana said that he wanted only three steps of land. The King was surprised to hear this, but agreed.
The wise sage Shukracharya, Guru of Mahabali, advised him not to promise the land, as he realised the seeker was not an ordinary person. But Bali told the Guru that it will be a great sin on the part of a King to go back on his words and asked the Brahmin to take the three steps.
The next moment, the dwarf Vamana began expanding his body and with his first step he covered the whole earth, with the other he covered the skies and asked Mahabali where to keep his third foot. Realising that he was not an ordinary Brahmin, the King immediately offered his head for Vamana to place his last step.
Vamana placed his third step on the head of the King, pushing him to Patala (netherworld). The King requested the Brahmin to reveal his true identity. Lord Vishnu then appeared before the King in his true form. Before bani-shing Mahabali to the underworld, Vishnu granted him a boon to visit Kerala once in a year, as he was very much attached to his kingdom and his people and said that he would be always loved by his people. Hence, the visit of Mahabali is celebrated as Onam every year.
Ten days of carnival
Onam is celebrated for ten days. To welcome their reve-red ruler, people lay flower mats (Pookalam) in the front courtyard, prepare a grand meal, dance, play and make merry. All this is done to impress upon King Mahabali that his people are prosperous and happy. Thiru Onam corresponds to the Shravana day and hence called Shravanotsavam.
Athachamyam is a grand procession that marks the beginning of Onam on the day of Atham at Thripunithura and Piravam. The event recalls a royal tradition when Maharajas of erstwhile Kochi State traveled to the Thripu-nithura Fort with their entire entourage. Today, even in the absence of the King, the custom retains its regal charm.
Onam celebrations are marked in Trikkakara, a place 10 km from Kochi (Cochin). Trikkakara is said to be the capital of the mighty King Mahabali. A temple with the deity of ‘Trikkakara Appan’ or ‘Vamanamurthy’, the Lord Vishnu in disguise, is also located at this place.
Atham - Day One: The first day ‘Atham’ is considered as very auspicious. On this day, a preparation for Pookkallam (flower carpet) begins. Attha Poo is prepared in the front courtyard to welcome the spirit of King Mahabali and a grand procession called Athachamyam will be held.
Chithira - Day Two: On this day, the size of Pookkallam will be increased with different flowers.
Chodhi - Day Three: Size of the Attha Poo gets further increased with an addition of different flowers. The markets get crowded as people buy new apparels, accessories etc. to decorate the household.
Visakam - Day Four: Making of various types of pickles and pappadams (papad) begins now.
Anizham - Day Five: The major highlight on this day is Vallamkali. The hugely popular competition happens on the banks of river Pampa at Aranmulla.
Thriketa - Day Six: On this sixth day of Onam, people who have migrated to other places visit their homes to celebrate the festival with their family.
Moolam - Day Seven: With just two days left for the festival, people get excited about the grand extravaganza.
Pooradam - Day Eight: Devotees create idols of deities by using clay in the shape of small pyramids.
Uthradam - Day Nine: People start making special arrangements to welcome Mahabali. Tenants and in-habitants of Tarawads (traditional large joint family sharing a common kitchen and consisting of more than a hundred people) give presents to Karanavar, the eldest member of the family. This gift is called ‘Onakazhcha’.
Thiru Onam - Day Ten: People believe that on this day Lord Mahabali comes to visit his people. A special meal called Onasadya is prepared. It is a nine course meal consisting of 11 to 13 essential dishes served on banana leaves. It consists rice, a number of side-dishes like curries, upperies, pappadams, uppilittathu and achchars (pickles of various kinds), chammanthi (chutney), payasams and prathamans (puddings) arranged in a definite order.
Conical shaped figures are prepared from clay and painted red. These are decorated with a paste made of rice flour and water and are placed in the front court yard and other important places in the house. Some are in the shape of cone and others represent gods. Those in the shape of a cone are called, ‘Trikkakara Appan’.
Onam Games
The Grand Boat Race Vallamkali: Held on river Pampa in graceful Snake Boats called Chun-dans are named after their excee-dingly long hulls and high sterns that resemble the raised hood of a cobra.
Onakalikal: It is a collective name for the numerous games played on Onam. After a sumptuous Onasadhya meal, members of the family participate in the games of Talappanthukali, Kayyankali, Archery or Ambeyyal, Kutukutu, others like Pulikali, Kum-mattikali, Thumbi Thullal, Kaikotti kali, Vallam kali etc.
Onam Dance
Kummattikali: It is a colorful mask-dance. The dancers go dancing from house to house. The major character is Thalla or Witch while others represent the various deities. Songs are accompanied by a bow like instrument called Onvillu; Pulikali / Kaduvakali: Pulikali means ‘play of the tigers’, the per-formance revolve around the theme of tiger hunting. It is also known as Kaduvaakali, a 200- year- old art.; Kathakali: The word Kathakali literally means “Story-Play”; It is known for its heavy, elaborate makeup and costumes. It presents themes derived from Hindu epicse Here, entire body, both skeleton and muscles, down to even the smallest facial muscle are used to portray emotion. Kaikottikali: Kaikottikali, also known as thiruvathirakali, is symmetric group-dance of the women with Thiruvathira songs. Thumbithullal: Thumbi Thullal is a folk dance performed by a group of women who sit in the formation of a circle.
Onam celebrations in Mysore
To commemorate the onam festival Kerala Samaja, Mysore usually conducts three programmes like Onam fare, Onam feast and cultural programs.
Onam Fare: Items from Kerala will be brought for the sale purpose. This will be held at NGO Hall, Vijayanagar from September 9 to 11. Here one can avail all the items which are needed for the feast. The items will be brought from kerala.
Onam Feast: Its nothing but get together programme, the cook will bought from Kerala and will prepare the Kerala dishes were in most of the Kera- lites will be seen on the occasion.
Cultural Program: Cultural program will be held on October 12, this is because most of the people will not be available on these days as they are away to their native places to celebrate the feast.

Bharani Gallery: Cynosure of all eyes



"Appreciating art includes promoting it through buying." — N.B. Kaverappa, Chief Convenor, Bharani Art Gallery

Here is an artist who has converted a portion of his house into an art gallery to promote visual arts.
The 59-year-old Nellamakkada B. Kaverappa, who was serving in the Judicial Department has devoted himself to promote visual arts by converting the first floor of his house in Vivekananda Nagar here into an art gallery.
Hailing from Kodagu, Kaverappa always had a special liking for art since his student days. After completing his graduation in B.Sc. at JSS College for Arts and Science, he wanted to take up a course in art. In 1970s, well-known artist M.T.V. Acharya had started a correspondence course in painting under the banner, Acharya Chitrakala Bhavana in Bangalore, to which Kaverappa enrolled for a three-year Diploma in Commercial Art.
After picking up the basics and finer nuances of painting, Kaverappa started painting on his own and came out with several works titled The Sun, Moon and Self; Unveiled look (Indian Ink with Nip holder); Three Friends, Trinity Unfolded (three stages of womanhood); Parayakali (War dance), Creation series, My Land & My Sea; Panoramic view from Raja Seat — name a few.
Kaverappa, who was awarded the 'Kodava Sahitya Academy Award' in 2003 for excellence in art, says he could not devout much time towards his passionate hobby, as he had to attend the court.
"When it comes to painting, people have diverse tastes and it’s a Herculean task to satisfy everyone. So I thought of arranging an exhibition with a blend of all possible themes," says Kaverappa who has exhibited his paintings in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, New Delhi and Kasargod.
For him the exhibition held at India International Centre, New Delhi in 1988 is the most memorable one as his exhibit 'Dance of Kodavas', received a lot of appreciation from the visitors.
The art movement was first started in Mysore by Kaverappa to showcase art works demanding for an exclusive art gallery in Mysore, other than the renowned Jaganmohan Palace Art Gallery. He fought with the officials concerned to provide a platform for the budding artists to exhibit their art works. "I even held an exhibition of paintings of contemporary artists of Mysore on the footpaths of Sayyaji Rao Road and Palace. But all my efforts went in vain," he rued.
To draw the attention of the government, he also held several road-side art exhibitions in Mysore under Yuva Kala Art Movement during 1980s, but did not receive the needed response. It was then that Kaverappa thought of converting the first floor of his house into an art gallery — the ‘Bharani Gallery’ was inaugurated on May 21, 1994 by the then Dean of CAVA G.S. Shenoy.
"In the beginning, only visitors to the gallery were neighbours and friends. It took some time for the news to spread, then there was an increase in the number of visitors," recalls Kaverappa, who devouts nearly eight hours daily for his gallery.
Today the gallery exhibits the works of renowned artists like late M.T.V. Acharya, Ramadas Adyanthaya, late G.S. Shenoy, Ramesh Rao, Bhaskar Rao, late Raghottam Putti, V.A. Deshpande, G.M. Hegde of Sirsi, Vasudeva Uliyaru, Vishwanth Bhuvanpur from Maharashtra, Kashinath Hiremath from Kolhapur, Subhash Desai from Sangli and many more. The paintings are on expo-cum-sale. So far many paintings have been sold with price ran-ges from Rs.1,500 to Rs.20,000.
As days passed by, Kaverappa decided to construct a separate gallery on the second floor of his house. By spending his pension money now he has constructed a spacious hall measuring 28’x12’ which will be inaugurated on Sept. 21.
Bharani Art Gallery is the only private art gallery in Mysore dedicated for promoting visual arts by exhibiting works of several well-known artists.
An exhibition of paintings on the theme Kodava culture will be held shortly. "I have chosen this theme as our Kodava culture is vanishing slowly," says Kaverappa requesting the public to promote the art work by visiting the gallery and purchasing the paintings.
Bharani Art Gallery is located at M-1198, 3rd Main, 6th Cross, Vivekananda Nagar, Mysore. Ph: 2561233.
[Sunday 20th September 2009]

Driving Schools yet to implement seat belts


The RTO, which is collecting fines from car drivers who do not wear seat belts, has surprisingly overlooked to enforce this basic rule for the Driving Schools in city.
A seat belt, also known as safety belt, protects the driver from causing head as well as spinal injuries at the time of accidents or sometimes when brakes are applied suddenly. Even the person seated next to the driver should compulsorily wear the seat belt as it prevents him from falling on the driver and thereby lose control of vehicle.
The correct practice is to wear the seat belt before starting the vehicle. But unfortunately in our city some of the driving schools are not following this rule.
Star of Mysore spoke to trainee drivers in some of the driving schools about wearing seat belts. "No, they never told me to wear the seat belt. Besides, these vehicles being of old models, they are not equipped with seat belt facilities. We were only explained about various parts of the car and their workings," says a trainee in a prestigious driving school.
"The trainers used to take me around the city to familiarise me driving in the busy traffic. I often got nervous, seeing heavy vehicles approaching from the opposite direction, and so I frequently applied sudden brakes. Once I even asked for the seat belt but they said there was no need of the belt for learners," says Lakshmana who has undergone training in a driving school.
When a trainer was questioned, how he could teach without wearing a seat belt, he replied, "As the rule was implemented just a few days ago, we need some time to follow this and install seat belt for the vehicles."
Some trainers said, "Usually, we don’t allow trainees to cross the speed limit of 35 kmph and we also have an extra set of hand brakes. In case of emergency we use these hand brakes so that the trainees can drive safely."
As per the Supreme Court directive issued in 1994, drivers and occupants in front seat of all four-wheelers must fasten seat belts without fail. The Central Motor Vehicles Rule also stipulates that the manufacturer of every four-wheeler vehicle should equip the vehicle with a seat belt.
"New models of cars are coming with seat belts and if needed we can fit belts to older models too," says an automobile dealer.
Seat belts are compulsory in all government and private vehicles as part of road safety measures. But many of them cite the reason of ‘inconvenience’ for not using seat belts.
To familiarise the practice of wearing seat belts, the authorities concerned would do well to hold public awareness campaigns on road safety and importance of wearing seat belts along with enforcement of law.
[Wednesday 16th September 2009]

Gandhi Shilp Bazaar beckons artisans


Handicrafts sector plays a significant roll in the country’s economy. It provides employment to a vast segment of crafts-persons. In order to promote these skilled artisans, the Ministry of Textiles, Govt. of India, in association with Sahara Handicrafts and Handloom Association, Mysore, has organised 'Gandhi Shilp Bazaar - 2009', in which more than 150 artisans from all over India are exhibiting their exquisite craftsmanship. The Bazaar is open to public till October 11 between 10 am and 9 pm at Scouts and Guides Grounds, behind the DC's Office.
Nearly 70,000 varieties of craft works are on display. They include Madhubani paintings of Bihar, Phulkari from Punjab, Patta Chitra, silver filigrees from Orissa, tie & dye, exquisite wood carvings, stone carvings, bead works from Rajasthan, Talli Zutti from Haryana, Chittara Paintings, leather chappals from Maharashtra, stuffed toys, appliqué work from Gujarat, leather products and lac ban-gles from Madhya Pradesh, Chikkan embroidery, cut-glass jewellery, carpets and metal works from UP.
Most of the artisans participating in the expo are National Awardees and are giving live demonstration of their work at the expo to quench the curiosity of art lovers. It is certainly an opportunity not to be missed by art lovers. Star of Mysore caught up with some of the artisans amidst their busy schedule who spoke about their artifacts and skills involved in preparing them.
G. Venkat Muni Achary, Andhra Pradesh: Indian craftsmen are very adept in wood carving as it is a traditional skill that is being passed down from generations. Various techniques are employed to carve wood. He was extremely happy to exhibit his works in Mysore. He chisels beautiful wooden statues of Gods and Goddess in a special way using neem logs.
Venkat, 25-year-old, started wood-carving since he was a child as he had to discontinue his studies after 7th. standard due to family problems. He star-ted learning the traditional wood carving from his father and grand parents. Today he creates carvings upto 6 ft. long which ranges from Rs. 200 to Rs. 12,000.
A very unique item on display at the Bazaar is the wooden screen made out of good quality wooden pieces. The finishing touches are superb. They are polished to give an appearance of natural wood colour. Not just screens, there are room partitions, handbags and carpets on display, all made of wooden pieces by Sukdev Samanta from West Bengal. He says these add radiant beauty to the homes. There are also wooden screens made by fretwork carving popularly known as Jaali in Uttar Pradesh. It is commonly used as a confession box in churches.
Sukdev Samanta has displayed a wide variety of wooden screens, carved in various shapes and sizes each having an attractive finishing touch and style. They come polished in various colours like grey, beige, green, pink, blue, magenta, orange and buff, which make these wooden screens appear more attractive.
Another artisan Siddegowda hailing from Channapatna, grabs your attention with his exquisite wooden art works. He creates intricate designs in wood, all carved by hand, using only the commonly-available chiseling tools. Having been in this profession for the past 30 years, he can finish a piece of work in just 15-20 minutes.
"Doing traditional wood carving using mallet has become my life and inspiration. I learnt this on my own. It’s a form of carving figures using a special carving knife and gouge”, says Siddegowda, who carves artistic wood crafts like rolling pins, ladles, toys, spoons, bowls, trays, vases, book stands, jewel boxes, masks, idols, photo frames, key hangers and wooden bangles.
G. Nanda Kishore Suthar from Chittotgad in Rajasthan is displaying the traditional Kaawad art and wood craft. According to Nanada Kishore, this art has been in existence for the past 400 years. He recreates mythological stories from Ramayana, Mahabharatha, Marwari folklore and many other concepts by picturising these stories on wood (Kasthakala) in the Kaawad style.
Kishore has big plans to increase his exports abroad by populari-sing the existing traditional Kaawad and wooden toys with new designs and technologies.
To give shape to intricate body features like eyes and nose, the wood artisans employ different techniques like paring, cutting and smoothing wood. These are performed in a variety of forms and sizes by carving out hollows, rounds and sweeping curves. Later these are inlaid with coloured material to give the final shape to these features. The two most commonly trees used for carving are Bass Wood (aka Tilia or Lime) and Neem.
Many of these artisans conduct classes, workshops and also hold public demonstrations to teach basic skills to those interested in craft-making.
[Thursday 8th October 2009]

Century-old Cheluvamba Hospital


This is no way to treat pregnant women and new-born babies
Have you visited the Maternity Ward at the century-old Cheluvamba Hospital in city? If you haven't, here we give you a peek into the way the pregnant women and the new-born babies are treated by the hospital ayahs and nurses. No pregnant woman, who once gets admitted to this hospital, will ever want to visit it again, come what may.
Pregnant women and those who have just delivered a baby need special attention and proper care as their physical and psychological conditions are fragile, particularly after the intense labour pain they undergo during the delivery.
However, at home, they are given proper care with good nutritious food, warm clothing, rest and care. Those poor women, who have to be admitted to hospitals, naturally go to government hospitals hoping that the admission and treatment are free or at best, minimum. Unfortunately, as the old adage goes, nothing is free in this world. Government hospitals are the living examples of that adage. They have turned out to be holes in the already empty pockets of the poor.
Cheluvamba Hospital, earlier known as Vanivilas Hospital, was setup in 1880, that is 129 years ago to provide medical services to poor and needy women. Here too nothing is free. Not even the bed you sleep on or for that matter even the floor you get to sleep, when there are no beds. Apart from beds, to avail even medicines and other facilities at the Hospital after admission, one has to pay bribe. A few patients, who have spent a couple of days at the hospital and since discharged, narrated their harrowing experiences thus:
Pushpalatha, who was two months into her pregnancy, had come to the hospital for a routine check-up but was advised to get admitted in the hospital as her child had to be aborted due to some complications. She revealed the scenes she saw at the hospital. It was a common practice for the ayahs and nurses to beat women in labour pain, when they start crying in pain. They are told to shut their mouth and stop crying by asking them what could be the most humiliating remark in public: "Did it hurt when you enjoyed sex? Why cry now?!"
Pushpalatha's neighbour, who too had been admitted to the hospital for her delivery, recoun-ted her experience. She had lost three children due to blood sugar complications at very young age. When she came here for the delivery of her fourth child, the 40-year-old pregnant woman was harassed because of her poverty, as she was unable to pay money to the ayahs and nurses as and when they demanded. The couple had to even sell the woman's mangalasutra to pay bribe to the ayahs and nurses.
It is only money that gets things done here. Greed for money is so rampant that immediately after delivery, the family members have to cough up money just to know the gender of the baby — Rs. 150 for the girl child and Rs. 200 for boy child ! Patients have to start paying them the moment they step in to the hospital until they get discharged. Entry to the hospital for the relatives of the patient is restricted from 6 am to 8 am and 4 pm to 6 pm. The person guarding the entry door demands Rs.10 every time a relative enters the hospital after visiting hours.
The problems of patients and their poor families are not restricted to money matters alone. The renowned Cheluvamba Hospital lacks even beds, cots, bedsheets not to mention medicines and trained staff. On entering the ward, the first scene one encounters is utter chaos. Women who have just delivered are made to sleep on the floors along with their new-born babies, on a thin bedsheet. Those who can afford to pay money are provided with a bed and cot while others have to sleep on the unclean floor. Sometimes, space will not be available even to sleep on the floors in spite of being admitted.
The most pathetic sight is that of the babies, which have not yet opened their eyes to the world. They too are made to sleep on the damp floor, with the possibility of contracting infections. The other common sight is the women’s relatives running around frantically for hours trying get a bed for the pregnant women or mother and the new-born baby.
One relative of a patient, speaking to SOM on condition of anonymity, said that when women are admitted to the hospital and are required to undergo laboratory tests, they are asked to go to private labs in city, in spite of the facility being available within the hospital. There are many instances of pregnant women being sent out to diagnostic centres at 1 am in the night, in spite of the fact that labs and blood banks are located right inside the hospital premises. Imagine the suffering of these pregnant women going through excruciating labour pain even in the middle of the night.
Inside the hospital, the corridors reek of DDT powder. While investigating the cause for this, we saw patients vomiting right in an open area between the corridor and what appeared to be a garden at the centre. As the toilets were not cleaned and were always overflowing with filth and garbage, and sometimes too crowded, these women had no other option but to use these open spaces. DDT powder was just sprayed on top of it all to cover up the mess. Toilets are not cleaned regularly and their number is quite inadequate considering the number of patients who are admitted.
On the ground floor, an empty room with a board 'Ward No.4' was dumped with discarded cots and used beds. It is surprising that the concerned authorities never thought of cleaning this room and making it available for the patients, in spite of the fact that so many women lie on bare floors for lack of adequate space.
The patients and their relatives too are responsible in a way for the mismanagement and the filth surrounding the hospital. They spit and throw garbage everywhere, unaware that it is a hospital and should be kept clean as many who come here are illiterate and are from rural background. Adequate dustbins could be provided by the hospital authorities with signboards advising them to use the same.
The hospital administration too seems to be blind to all th-ese things. When will Cheluvamba Hospital get a rebirth and become patient-friendly?
[Wednesday 7th October 2009]

Unique display of dolls


Shantha Lakshminarayan's residence in Agrahara near Lakshmi Theatre has become a cynosure of all eyes. She has been arranging dolls of various forms and sizes for the past 30 years as part of Navarathri celebrations. These dolls, created by dexterous artistes, will narrate the story of our city's culture and heritage along with the current events.
Every year, Shantha showcases her dolls focussing on a particular theme and this year too she has chosen several happenings around us and has displayed them accordingly.
The Mandakalli Airport, KPL cricket team, statues of Thiruvalluvar and Sarvajna, Vaikunta dwara, Brahmotsava at Tirupati, Mahishasuramardana, H1N1, Mahabalipuram beach, customs followed during Indian marriages, Shilabalike, Guruvayur Krishna (Elephant Race) and Onam are some of this year’s new additions to her collection, which are being displayed at her residence till October 8.
The dolls that are being displayed are painstakingly collected not only from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, but even from abroad. Shantha finds immense pleasure in arranging these dolls as she single-handedly does all the decorations and other arrangements needed for the show.
She takes initiative in explaining the current events to the children and teach them about our tradition of Dasara and Navarathri celebrations through these doll shows.
Shantha has been awarded the ‘Sthree Kala Shakthi’ award instituted by the Sthree Shakthi Mahila Prasthishtana in city and has also bagged several prizes from various organisations for her doll arrangements.
"The response is very good and I feel happy when people appreciate my work," says Shantha, feeling immensely proud of her work.
Shantha can be contacted on Mob: 93425-90792.
[Tuesday 6th October 2009]

Views on children's school bag


Heavy school bags are the cause of injury to the backbone and spine of school children, says an Orthopaedic surgeon. Bags with wheels can resolve the issue of heavy bags, says a teacher. The author has come out with other practical solutions.

Carrying heavy school bags poses a health risk to children at an early age like neck pain, deformity, muscle spasms, shoulder pain, backache, back injuries and sometimes even fractures of the spine.
A noted orthopedician in the city says: "Children who do not carry school bags in the proper way are at risk of hurting their back bone. Some children carry the heavy bag on one side of their shoulder resulting in intense pressure on that shoulder. They should instead carry it on the back, using both the straps, which puts equal pressure on their spine. Parents should insist their children to carry the bags strapped on both the shoulders and ensure that the weight does not exceed more than 15 per cent of the child’s body weight."
"Sometimes, children try balancing the weight by arching their backs or leaning forward, which may result in a poor posture as they grow. Compared to handbags and briefcases, backpacks are supposedly safer for kids because they distribute weight evenly across the body and are supported by the back and abdominal muscles," said the doctor.
The doctor added that children should also be taught in the classroom to sit comfortably in an upright position in a proper chair that supports the contours of the spine thereby reducing the back pain and neck pain.
Exercising regularly also helps to support the spine and strengthens the muscles in the stomach, back, neck and shoulders. Children should carry only those books which are required for the day and not all the books that they study.
One of the parents suggested that locker facilities should be provided in every school so that children can keep their books in lockers instead of bringing them back home everyday.
Another parent said, "Every day children carry the text books and a working book for a given subject and sometimes two. As everyday they will be having five to six different subjects, this makes them carry more number of books every day. In addition to this, they have to carry a PE kit, dictionary, pencil case, lunch box, water bottles, library books, geometrical and mathematical instruments, etc. Thus heavy school bags result in pain and discomfort to kids."
"Schools insist children carry all the notebooks, question banks, text books and other things which are not required all the time. Teachers should clea-rly mention the books required for the particular day so that the children need not carry all the books. Further if locker facility is provided, then children will not be scolded by the teachers for not bringing the books," the parents suggested.
Some parents say that now-a-days most of the children go to school in auto, school bus, van etc., so the chances of back pain are less.
"If we carry the books according to time table also the bags are still heavy. According to me, the solution is that we should be made to understand the lessons in schools instead of mugging up the answers, so that we don’t need to carry all the books back home. The extent of home work should be reduced so that we can carry only the home work books back and keep the remaining books in schools," says a 9th standard student.
Students also state, "In higher classes, the burden of books also increases. We find it difficult to carry the school bag on our back. Some of us travel by public bus. It is difficult to run with the heavy bags. If we go late to the school, punishments like running in the school campus with bag will be given which makes us more tired."
"Parents should regularly check the bags and empty them. Try to get bags with wheels so that the children can handle the heavy bag easily," says a teacher.
[Wednesday 22nd October 2008]

Mango has become dearer



Mango flowering begins usually towards the end of January but this time the flowering took place in November and the fruit ripened early.
But unfortunately rains, fog, gusty winds and excessive atmospheric moisture affected the flowering, resulting in powdery mildew, a fungal disease affecting the flowers. This powder-like substance on the flowers prevents fruit formation and even if fruits are formed, they drop off early, resulting in less yield.
The present market price of the fruit has disappointed mango lovers a lot. Even last year, the yield of mangoes in Mysore region was below average. With the same trend continuing this year too, mango sellers are not expecting profit. The buyers too are taking the brunt of price escalation.
"We were hopeful of a good crop this year as it had failed last year, but it was not to be so due to unseasonal flowering and moisture," rued a mango merchant Vairmudi, who is in this trade for more than 40 years.
Mango Mandi in Mysore
If you visit Akbar Road in Mandi Mohalla, popularly known as 'Mango Mandi', you will get to buy the 'king of fruits' mango, at wholesale prices. This place is the oldest one in the city where all varieties of mangoes are traded in bulk quantities.
This is a wholesale mango market, flooded with mangoes of different varieties like Badami, Raspuri, Neelam, Benusha, Malgova, Saindura, Bainganpalli and Mallika which are brought here from surrounding areas such as Srirangapatna, Nanjan-gud, Bannur, Hunsur, T.Narasipura, Heggadadevanakote, K.R. Nagar and even from outside the State like Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
Though the entire area is a mango market, most of the mango mandis are located inside homes of traders. There are more than 180 such traders. Most of these vendors have been trading in the fruit since their childhood, continuing the family business from their elders.
Retail vendors start flocking the market as early as 5 am along with mango trucks, and pushcart vendors assembling there for a bargain purchase. Before selling, the fruits are sorted out based on size, quality, ripeness and colour. By 10.30 am, the whole business is completed and the mandi appears deserted.
Speaking to Star of Mysore, C. Basavaraj, Senior Assistant Director of Horticulture, said, "We guide farmers to cultivate Badam and Raspuri since the returns are high and the fruit delicious."
Last year, the price of Badami was Rs.20-25 per kg, which has now gone up to Rs.35, while Raspuri which was being sold for Rs. 20 to 25, is now being sold for Rs. 28 to Rs.30 per kg.
The North Indian variety, Langra, is also available in the market, but the demand is less. There is more demand for Raspuri but the supply is less this season, says a trader.
Price tag
Types Present year Last year
Badami Rs. 30 to Rs. 35 Rs. 20 to Rs. 25
Raspuri Rs. 28 to Rs. 30 Rs. 20 to Rs. 25
Malgova Rs. 30 to Rs. 32 Rs. 18 to Rs. 20
Thothapuri Rs. 08 to Rs. 12 Rs. 06 to Rs. 10
Neelam Rs. 12 to Rs. 16 Rs. 06 to Rs. 08
Saindura Rs. 08 to Rs. 15 Rs. 10 to Rs. 12
[ Monday 18th May 2009]

Disciplining the auto drivers

Sir,
Nowadays one can see autorickshaw drivers not adhering to traffic discipline and running with tampered meters and thereby cheating the gullible public. They also do not return the small changes.
Some autos are maintained so badly that they create a loud noise while running on roads. Autos are the lifeline of public transport system and the authorities should rectify this by effective enforcement of laws. Here are some do's and dont's:
• Auto drivers must show hand signals or use appropriate tail lights while stopping or taking a turn.
• They must not stop abruptly in the middle of the road to pick up passengers. They must be made to behave courteously with the passengers.
• Some drivers use adulterated petrol to save money. As a result the autos emit a lot of thick black smoke leading to health hazards.This should be checked.
• Auto drivers should keep their vehicles in good running condition. Emission test certificate should be displayed inside their autos.
• Frequent awareness programmes should be conducted for auto drivers as they play an impor-tant role in serving the public.
— K. Rathna
Kuvempunagar
29.3.2009

Eye Care



“Mandatory eye test for children has reduced the rate of eye problems,” says Dr. K.L. Narayana.
In recent times due to awareness programmes and mandatory eye tests, eye-related problems have come down. Specially teenagers in the age group of 18-20 years are more prone to eye problems because of negligence. As the person ages, eye-related problems also increase. So a regular eye check-up is advised. Free eye check-up and treatment camps are held at rural, hobli and taluk levels,” says Dr. K.L. Narayana.
The most common symptoms of eye problems are, focu-sing on distant objects, weaker eyesight, irritation and dryness in eyes and double vision.
Advice for computer users
Nowadays, more people are spending long hours of time staring at the computer screen, as a result of which they experience problems in their eyesight, called Computer Vision Syndrome, having the following acute symptoms.
• Tears, eyestrain, eye fatigue and irritation in the eyes.
• Headaches because of eye strain.
• Blur or double vision.
Steps to ease:
• Blink often.
• Take a regular break and rest for ten minutes during every hour.
• Focus on distant objects for a few minutes.
• Don’t focus for long periods.
• Improve the lighting around your monitor.
• Sit at least 18-28 inches away from the screen.
• Tilt the monitor slightly below eye level.
Eye exercises:
• Sit relaxingly, inhale. Without turning your head, look right, left, above, down, as far as possible.
• To ease stress and tension: Sit down, breathe normally, and concentrate on a spot at the tip of nose for a period of ten seconds.
• Sit straight and slowly inhale rolling eyes to the right and top in a circular movement.
• Taking a deep breath, roll eyes clockwise and anti-clockwise, close and gradually open eyes releasing breath.
• To avoid tiredness of eyes, rub the palms and keep the warm palms on tired eyes. It helps to ease and relax. Do this 3-4 times for 80 seconds.
• After lunch take a walk for few minutes. It helps the eyes to get fresh air.
Dos and don’ts
• Never rub your eyes. If any dirt enters, do not rub eyes, it may cause the dirt to stick inside, disturbing your vision and irritating your eyes. Blinking is a good exercise to the eyes.
• Use protective sunglasses or eyeglasses to prevent exposure to ultraviolet light and to avoid foreign bodies entering the eyes.
• Don’t splash water when there is irritation.
• Self-medication should not be done.
• Have frequent check-ups with optician to keep your eyes healthy.
Diet: • Take foods which are rich in Vitamins A, C and E.
• Eat fruits, green leaves, tomatoes, papaya, mangoes, eggs, fish, milk, cilantro
• Have carrot and cucumber between meals.
• Obesity, diabetics increase the risk of eye diseases.
Tips for eye care
• For glowing eyes, use two drops of pure rose water.
• Milk is a natural cleanser. Dip cotton in milk and place it over the eyes for some time.
• To avoid eye wrinkles and dark circles put a slice of cucumber or potato on eyelids.
• A person using contact-lenses should not wear them for more than 10-12 hours a day.
• For red and itchy eyes, massage scalp with curd.
When to see a doctor: When you have any persistent problem while reading, writing, using computer or during hand-eye activities etc, consult a doctor.
This also includes frequent drowsiness; blurring of the vision; headaches; fatigue, aching and tears in eye; double vision; frequently rubbing eyes and so on.
If any one has an eye problem or has any inflammation in the eyes, he should immediately consult a doctor.
[Wednesday 18th March 2009]

Reduce the number of stray dogs

Sir,
The article on stray dog menace (SOM dated Aug. 9) should be an eye-opener to many a bureaucrats of our city. Scores of dogs roam on the streets of Mysore posing a great threat to the children and pedestrians. It is strange to hear that first the citizens should complain, and then only the Mysore City Corporation (MCC) will take action.
MCC should be proactive in reducing the number of stray dogs as is being done in Bangalore. If we believe the statement of Corporation Health Officer that nearly 1000 dogs are being sterilised every month, we should not see so many strays wandering.
Also, as per the MCC figures, they should be spending more than Rs. 60 lakh on this project. Where does all this money go? Being a frequent visitor to City Veterinary Hospital, I rarely see any dog being kept there as in-patient after sterilisation.
Mysoreans should feel ashamed for not having a single Animal Welfare Organisation operating here. Instead of looking towards Animal Husbandry Department and City Corporation, NGOs involved in animal welfare should come forward to tackle this menace on a war-footing.
Basic facilities to undertake Animal Birth Control programme should be created in 3-4 centers. Things like laparoscopic surgery may come later. Having a dedicated staff is very essential. Animal lovers and philanthropists should donate liberally to make this project a great success.
— Hemalatha Manjunath
Vijayanagar
11.8.2009

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Development should not affect environment
Sir,
World Environment Day should not be celebrated for a day, instead should be observed throughout the year.
The causes and consequences of environmental destruction should be understood in the right perspective. Today environmental destruction is not biological, it is the unmindful act of an individual.
In addition to concentrating on the development of the nation, we should also simultaneously concentrate on improving the 'quality of living' of thousands of people below poverty line.
• Destroying rainforests has severely affected the climate.
• Climatic changes have caused fertile lands to become barren.
• Water pollution has caused severe health problems and water scarcity has caused crop failure.
Environment provides alternative, renewable energies such as solar, wind and hydropower, which should be put to best use.
Economic development can also be brought about by using Genetically Modified crops which require less fertilisers, water, pesticides and give better yield. Intense research needs to be done in this area.
Today’s development is resulting in a great environmental tragedy for the future. Huge amounts of carbon dioxide is being released into the atmosphere by burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas, which are responsible for global climatic changes. This is posing a grave threat to humanity, leading to floods, droughts, hurricanes and rapid in rise in sea levels.
In schools, the subject of environment should be made compulsory as part of the syllabus, to create awareness am-ong students.
— K. Rathna
Mysore
6.5.2009

Kalaiah's animal friend : A Squirrel



A day without watching the squirrels is incomplete for the 75-year-old T. Kalaiah — a unique animal lover and a retired draughtsman of PWD Department, who has been visiting the Kukkarahalli Lake regularly for a daily walk, for the past six years.
Initially, when Kalaiah began his walk, he first came across a puppy. Within a few days, he became quite friendly with the little dog and named it Ramu. For Kalaiah, it became a daily routine to carry biscuits while coming to walk and feed Ramu without fail. After spending a few minutes with Ramu he used to continue his walk.
Even the dog too was very friendly with Kalaiah. When Kalaiah whistled, the dog used to rush towards him, wherever it was. Unfortunately, Kalaiah and Ramu’s friendship came to an end when suddenly Ramu disappeared and after a week Kalaiah came to know the dog was no more.
Upset over this, Kalaiah sat on the lakeside bench. That is when he came across his new friend in the form of a 'Squirrel'. He offered the biscuits he had brought for Ramu to the squirrel. In the beginning, the squirrel was scared to take the biscuits, but gradually over the days, their friendship grew stronger and stronger.
Now, the squirrel has developed a good bond with Kalaiah. As soon as Kalaiah reaches the spot where they meet regularly, he makes a hissing sound to announce his arrival. Reacting to the sound, the squirrel comes to him and sits on his thigh. Everyday Kalaiah spends more than 20 minutes with the bushy-tailed rodent. Kalaiah says animals feel comfortable with humans only when we shower love on them.
"In the Initial stage there was only one squirrel, but now there are two. I will not enter the lake without a biscuit packet. For the past one week I was not in city and I missed them very much," says Kalaiah.
"Each squirrel eats just two bites of biscuit and takes at least fifteen minutes to consume it. I have also introduced these squirrels to my grand children. Animals are more friendly than human beings. If we get attached to them, they show more affection than our own children," he observes.
If one visits Kukkarahalli lake at 7.45 am, right at the entrance near the boating spot, one can see Kalaiah’s love and affection towards these squirrels. Don't miss !
[Thursday 4th June 2009]

Father’s Day: It’s origin


Father’s Day is a celebration to honor and show our gratitude to our father. This concept is new in India. While Father’s Day is not our culture, most of the people who live in metropolitan cities and bigger towns are exposed to this westernised culture and celebrate Father’s Day.
According to history, seeing the Mother’s Day celebrations, Sonora Smart Dodd of USA thought of celebrating Father’s Day in Spokane, Washington. After her mother died, her father William Jackson Smart looked after her very well and in the eyes of his daughter he was a courageous, selfless and loving man.
She also wanted her father to know how special he was to her. Sonora’s father was born in June, so she chose to hold the first Father’s Day celebration in Spokane, Washington on the 19th of June, 1910. But in 1972, a permanent national observance was established and the government proclaimed every third Sunday of June as Father’s Day.
On Father’s Day, several cultural societies arrange cultural programmes to inspire children to pay respect and take care of their dad.
Father’s Day has become hugely popular. Children express their gratitude and love with a lot of charm and with an enthusi-asm thank fathers and pay tribute to their love. Children give gifts to their fathers like cards, flowers, neckties, dining in restaurants or going out for a picnic or movie, staying the whole day with father, being obedient.
Some tips to celebrate Father’s Day
Ask questions about his birth, childhood and what he did when he was a teenager. Find out his favorite subjects in school, most embarrassing moment and favorite holiday. Question him on his: favorite color, movie, candy bar, color of toothbrush, memorable moment with you, best friend, hobby, talent, food, animal, cartoon, pizza topping, ice cream topping, restaurant.
“My father is a strength for me. When you are around me, I feel my life is beautiful, thank you Papa, for everything”, says Padma.
“Dad, I like to thank you for having you as my father. You are the world for me. You have taught me everything in a special way and you have brightened my life each day. You are my hero dad. I love you. Happy Fathers Day”, says Narayan.
“I don’t have a dad to celebrate Father’s Day. When my father wanted me to be near him, I was far from him; when I started looking after him, he passed away. I miss him very much”, says an unfortunate son.
“My father may feel that I just don’t care him and obey him. I have spoken rudely many times. Forgive me for what ever I do, you are my best friend papa”, Happy Father’s Day”, says Manju.
[Sunday 15th June 2008]

Sankranti, a festival of Yellu-Bella


Makara Sankranti is one of the most auspicious days for Hindus. It is celebrated in different parts of the country with different names and forms.
According to pontiffs Ram-gopal and K. Marthandaiah, Makara Sankranthi is derived from two words — Makara and Sankranti. Makara means Capricorn and Sankranti means transition. Every month, there will be a Sankranti when the sun passes from one sign of the zodiac to the next. There are 12 signs of zodiac, but the most important one is Mesha (Aries). On this day, the Sun moves from Dak-shinayana (south) to Uttara-yana (north). In other words, the Sun enters Northern Hemisphere on January 14.
From this day, the six-month long Uttarayana begins which is considered as very auspicious to begin any work and days become longer than nights.
Sankranti is also a harvesting festival. As ours is an agricultural land, farmers depend on cattle, rain and sun. They show their gratitude towards them in this festival.
Offering puja on harvesting festival gives peace, happiness, prosperity, wealth, goodness and harmony and an abundant harvest. Also, families gather and share the joy.
In Karnataka, Sankranti is popularly known as Yellu-Bella festival. Yellu means tila (Se-same seeds) and ‘Bella’ is Jaggery. A mixture of sesame seeds, jaggery, dry coconut and groundnuts is distributed to relatives and friends which signifies the adage ellu bella tindu, ollolle matadi ! (eat Sesame seeds, jaggery and speak good words). Sugarcane stalks is also featured in festival.
Consuming Yellu-Bella will enrich the mineral contents in body. And dishes like pongal are also prepared using rice, jaggery and moong dal.
Another important event of this festival is a bonfire in which cattle and buffaloes are decorated with various colours and are made to jump over fire.
Makara Sankranti signifies the end of winter and arrival of spring and also marks the end of farming season where farmers perform puja to crops. It also sets start a series of festivals during the calendar year.
In Mahabharata, Bhi-shma who fell to the arrows of Arjuna in the war chose to die during Uttarayana because it is believed that the doors of heaven will open during utta-rayana and those who die in this period will attain Moksha.
The Puranas say that on this day Sun visits the house of his son Shani (the lord of Makara rashi). As Sun and Shani do not get along well, they make it a point to meet on this day. The Makara jyoti appears near Sha-barimala Ayyappa temple which symbolises the beginning of Uttarayana.
[Tuesday 13th January 2009]

Children are more vulnerable to Asthma attack


"Too much of cleanliness is not good for health” - Dr. Mahesh, Associate Professor, JSS Hospital
Asthma is a common chronic disease which causes inflammation in the airways through which we breathe. When one has asthma, the airways tend to become red, swollen along with tightening of muscles. Mucus (a sticky substance) is also produced in larger airways, clogging them and decreasing the amount of air flowing to the lung making it hard to breathe. In the background of appropriate genetic and environmental influences, a defective immune system develops which is the main culprit in asthma.
Asthma occurs due to allergy and is triggered by allergens either from inside the house or outside. Common triggers inside the house are House dust mites, Cockroaches, Mosquito scales (parts of dead mosquito), Fungi and outside the house pollens of weeds like Parthenium, grasses, shrubs and trees.
Environmental pollutants especially diesel exhaust can potentiate allergens manifold. Indoor chemicals especially mosquito liquidators, mats or coils have similar effects. Allergy can occur in various parts of the body including nose, eyes, lungs or skin.
Symptoms
If a person has cough or cold without fever or sneezing early in the morning or on exposure to triggers like dust it is confirmatory they have allergy in the nose. Many cases of asthma are preceded by nasal allergies with symptoms like watering from the nose, nasal blockage, itching in the nose or sneezing.
What is crucial to know is that with appropriate treatment a significant proportion of asthma can be prevented.
Common symptoms include • Wheezing and cough which can be more at night • Tightness in chest • Breathlessness while exercising • Feeling tired easily • Chest tightness. Other symptoms of allergy may be noted like • Itchy throat • Sinus, heaviness with or without headaches and sometimes associated with infections when there may be change in mucus colour, amount or thickness.
Asthma in some cases can be very severe with patients being unable to breathe, talk, sleep eat or drink. If not treated on an emergency basis, the disease can be life-threatening.
Several health conditions make asthma more difficult to manage like psychological stress, sinus infections, acid reflux disease and sleep apnea.
All people who have these symptoms might not have asthma. A proper medical history, physical exam and lung function test can confirm the diagnosis of asthma. A chest X-ray is done to rule out diseases that can mimic asthma.
Asthma is also a hereditary disease. It can affect people of all ages at any time, but most often starts in childhood. To prevent an attack of asthma it is necessary to undergo a regular health check-up in all the seasons with a lung function test and one should not wait for symptoms. Asthma is much more common in western countries like Europe and America than in countries like India. Nearly 6% of children in Mysore suffer from asthma while it is around 20% in Bangalore.
Our immune system needs to be engaged with non-disease causing bacteria for its proper functioning. Too much or too frequent use of antiseptics in the house can destroy these bacteria. Bacteria present in our gut, especially in the first year of life, also has an important role in the maturation of our immune system and are also a source of some important nutrients for us. Fermented foods are beneficial, especially lactobacilli in the curds, which when consumed during pregnancy and breast-feeding is shown to protect against allergies in the child.
Asthma is a long-term disease, which can’t be easily cured.
• Quit smoking
• Maintain good lung function by frequent monitoring and use of appropriate medicines
• Get good sleep
• Get regular health checkup
• Control of obesity, diet, physical fitness is important
• Avoid factors that worsen asthma
• Take medicines properly
• Do not take cough medicine and non-prescription inhalers
• Wear a mask or scarf over mouth when exercising in cold weather
• Don’t discontinue medicine until doctors advise you.
Environmental change also reduces asthma attack:
• Avoid pets with fur or feathers.
• Wear a mask while cleaning the house.
• Cover the mattress, pillows in dust proof covers and wash weekly once in hot water.
• Use air conditioner and maintain low humidity in house.
Medicines for Asthma
Inhaler: Asthma medicines can be taken in pill form, but most are taken using a device called an inhaler. This allows the medicine to go directly to lungs.
Monitoring of Asthma
Peak flow meter: The basic measurement of asthma is done through a small device, peak flow meter. When a person blows into this device it checks how well the air moves out of lungs showing a score or peak flow number. It also measures how forcefully one can breathe out during an attack.
Spirometer: It is a computerised device used to check how much air is exhaled and how forcefully the patient can breathe out.
Oximeter: A pulse oximeter uses a painless probe. It is placed on fingertip to measure the amount of oxygen in bloodstream.
Key points
• Asthma patients can do any type of physical activities.
• You can lead normal life.
• Always use inhaled medicines. • You can achieve all your goals.
• Allergy is not a spreading disease and no amount of close contact will spread the disease.
[ Wednesday 4th February 2009]

Children are more vulnerable to Asthma attack


"Too much of cleanliness is not good for health” - Dr. Mahesh, Associate Professor, JSS Hospital
Asthma is a common chronic disease which causes inflammation in the airways through which we breathe. When one has asthma, the airways tend to become red, swollen along with tightening of muscles. Mucus (a sticky substance) is also produced in larger airways, clogging them and decreasing the amount of air flowing to the lung making it hard to breathe. In the background of appropriate genetic and environmental influences, a defective immune system develops which is the main culprit in asthma.
Asthma occurs due to allergy and is triggered by allergens either from inside the house or outside. Common triggers inside the house are House dust mites, Cockroaches, Mosquito scales (parts of dead mosquito), Fungi and outside the house pollens of weeds like Parthenium, grasses, shrubs and trees.
Environmental pollutants especially diesel exhaust can potentiate allergens manifold. Indoor chemicals especially mosquito liquidators, mats or coils have similar effects. Allergy can occur in various parts of the body including nose, eyes, lungs or skin.
Symptoms
If a person has cough or cold without fever or sneezing early in the morning or on exposure to triggers like dust it is confirmatory they have allergy in the nose. Many cases of asthma are preceded by nasal allergies with symptoms like watering from the nose, nasal blockage, itching in the nose or sneezing.
What is crucial to know is that with appropriate treatment a significant proportion of asthma can be prevented.
Common symptoms include • Wheezing and cough which can be more at night • Tightness in chest • Breathlessness while exercising • Feeling tired easily • Chest tightness. Other symptoms of allergy may be noted like • Itchy throat • Sinus, heaviness with or without headaches and sometimes associated with infections when there may be change in mucus colour, amount or thickness.
Asthma in some cases can be very severe with patients being unable to breathe, talk, sleep eat or drink. If not treated on an emergency basis, the disease can be life-threatening.
Several health conditions make asthma more difficult to manage like psychological stress, sinus infections, acid reflux disease and sleep apnea.
All people who have these symptoms might not have asthma. A proper medical history, physical exam and lung function test can confirm the diagnosis of asthma. A chest X-ray is done to rule out diseases that can mimic asthma.
Asthma is also a hereditary disease. It can affect people of all ages at any time, but most often starts in childhood. To prevent an attack of asthma it is necessary to undergo a regular health check-up in all the seasons with a lung function test and one should not wait for symptoms. Asthma is much more common in western countries like Europe and America than in countries like India. Nearly 6% of children in Mysore suffer from asthma while it is around 20% in Bangalore.
Our immune system needs to be engaged with non-disease causing bacteria for its proper functioning. Too much or too frequent use of antiseptics in the house can destroy these bacteria. Bacteria present in our gut, especially in the first year of life, also has an important role in the maturation of our immune system and are also a source of some important nutrients for us. Fermented foods are beneficial, especially lactobacilli in the curds, which when consumed during pregnancy and breast-feeding is shown to protect against allergies in the child.
Asthma is a long-term disease, which can’t be easily cured.
• Quit smoking
• Maintain good lung function by frequent monitoring and use of appropriate medicines
• Get good sleep
• Get regular health checkup
• Control of obesity, diet, physical fitness is important
• Avoid factors that worsen asthma
• Take medicines properly
• Do not take cough medicine and non-prescription inhalers
• Wear a mask or scarf over mouth when exercising in cold weather
• Don’t discontinue medicine until doctors advise you.
Environmental change also reduces asthma attack:
• Avoid pets with fur or feathers.
• Wear a mask while cleaning the house.
• Cover the mattress, pillows in dust proof covers and wash weekly once in hot water.
• Use air conditioner and maintain low humidity in house.
Medicines for Asthma
Inhaler: Asthma medicines can be taken in pill form, but most are taken using a device called an inhaler. This allows the medicine to go directly to lungs.
Monitoring of Asthma
Peak flow meter: The basic measurement of asthma is done through a small device, peak flow meter. When a person blows into this device it checks how well the air moves out of lungs showing a score or peak flow number. It also measures how forcefully one can breathe out during an attack.
Spirometer: It is a computerised device used to check how much air is exhaled and how forcefully the patient can breathe out.
Oximeter: A pulse oximeter uses a painless probe. It is placed on fingertip to measure the amount of oxygen in bloodstream.
Key points
• Asthma patients can do any type of physical activities.
• You can lead normal life.
• Always use inhaled medicines. • You can achieve all your goals.
• Allergy is not a spreading disease and no amount of close contact will spread the disease.
[ Wednesday 4th February 2009]