Between 1298 CE and 1306 CE, the fearsome and bloodthirsty Mongols of Central Asia attacked India on six different occasions. Each time, they were pushed back by Alauddin Khilji, emperor of the Delhi Sultanate. He was helped by his most trusted general, Malik Kafur. Did you know that Malik Kafur was eunuch? Continue reading Eunuchs in Ancient India
As he travelled the world, evangelising the cuisines of diverse cultures, celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain once said, “Meals make the society.” In that vein, it’s hard to imagine visiting a state like Kerala and not munching on tapioca chips dusted with chilli powder or savouring some spicy kappa meen (tapioca and fish) curry. These dishes feel like classic recipes, handed down across generations. But would you believe that tapioca came to Kerala less than 200 years ago? It’s true!
Continue reading How Kerala Adopted Kappa
Take a guess, what percentage of India is vegetarian? If you answered, 70% or more — congratulations, you are in the majority: but you are HOPELESSLY WRONG! Only about 31% of India’s population is vegetarian. Surely, we must be wrong? Did we not include the people of Tamil Nadu who supposedly eat only Idli, Dosai and Vadai with Sambaar? We did, but only 10 – … Continue reading Surely, you are Vegetarian?
Once upon a time, an acorn fell on top of a little bird named Chicken Little and he thought the skies were coming down. He made a huge commotion and set the other animals running as well. This story is a part of Aesop’s Fables. But even before Aesop and Chicken Little, there was a hare in an Indian Jungle who feared that doomsday was … Continue reading Jataka Tales: The Buddha’s many lives
Bengal is perhaps the sweetest Indian State. Who but the Bengalis, could have invented that divine sweet called Rossogulla? The Bengalis said exactly that, when they applied for the GI* Tag for Rossogulla in 2015. That’s when the gentle people of the neighbouring state of Odisha, exploded! “What nonsense,” they said, “we invented and you copied!”. And thus, began a bitter battle (or should we say sweet battle?). Continue reading Hallagulla about Rossogulla
The Lotus is India’s floral VIP. Hindu Gods are often shown seated or standing on a blooming lotus or holding one. In Hinduism the flower represents beauty and purity. The supreme Hindu God of creation, Brahma is said to have emerged from inside a lotus. But the lotus as a religious symbol is not limited just to Hinduism or even to India. In fact it … Continue reading Following the Lotus around the world
“♬Let’s go fly a kite Up to the highest height! Let’s go fly a kite and send it soaring ♫” This song from Disney’s Mary Poppins, to me, best describes what kite flying can feel like. If you’ve ever flown one, you know. But this euphoric piece of paper wasn’t always a sport. In fact, old records suggest that kites were developed for very serious … Continue reading Patang – The story of the Indian Kite
Dolls in vibrant colours, stacked on steps that sometimes reach the ceiling, suddenly appear, every year in South Indian Hindu households. After spending most of the year locked up in trunks, protected by moth balls, someone lets them out for ten very special days every autumn. These ten days, called Navaratri or Dussehra, mark an important Hindu festival. In South India, especially in the states … Continue reading Golu – Toying with tradition
Temple gopurams and church spires dot Chennai’s skyline, side by side, bearing witness to the centuries old coexistence of Hinduism and Christianity. Christianity reached India over 2000 years ago. But how did something that started somewhere around modern day Palestine, gain such a strong foothold in ancient India? The long saga of Christianity in India, according to Christian tradition, began with St. Thomas, one of … Continue reading Chennai’s 2000 year old Christian legacy
One story, two regions Today is Rakshabandhan…, or Rakhi, a festival that celebrates the special bond between brothers and sisters. It is celebrated all over India but is a bigger festival in the North. Did you know of a story that connects it with the festival of Onam that is celebrated in South India? This 7th-8th century carving from Mamallapuram tells a story that connects … Continue reading A story of two Indian festivals