Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Vijayadashami is also known as Dussehra. It is celebrated in the lunar month of Ashwin (usually in September or October) from the Shukla Paksha Pratipada (the next of the New moon day of Bhadrapada) to the Dashami, or the tenth day of Ashwin.

In India, the harvest season begins at this time; and as mother earth is the source of all food, the Mother Goddess is invoked to start the new harvest season and to reactivate the vigor and fertility of the soil. This is done through religious performances and rituals which invoke cosmic forces that are believed to rejuvenate the soil.

On the day of Dussehra, statues of the Goddess Durga are submerged in the waters of the river. These statues are made with the clay and the pooja is performed with turmeric and other pooja items which are powerful disinfectants and mixed in the river waters. This makes water useful for the farmers and yields better crops.

Dussehra is the festival of Victory of Good over Evil. Veda Vyasa is considered as the foremost Guru and Vijayadashami is also celebrated as Vyasa puja.

On this day in the Treta Yug, Shri Ram (7th incarnation of Vishnu), killed the great demon Ravana who had abducted Lord Ram's wife Sita to his kingdom of Lanka. Ram, along, with his brother Lakshman follower Hanuman and an army of monkeys fought a great battle to rescue his wife Sita. The war against Ravana lasted for ten days.

Rama had performed "Chandi Hom” and invoked the blessings of Durga to kill Ravana. Durga blessed Rama with the secret to kill Ravana. Ravana was defeated in his own kingdom of Lanka by Rama and the vanarsena.

Rama with Sita and Laxman returned victorious to his kingdom of Ayodhya on the Ashwin Shukla dashami. This victory of Rama is since then celebrated as “Vijaya Dashami”. So also prior to the defeat of Ravana, when Rambhakt Shri Hanuman went to Lanka to search Sita, he found her on the day of Ashvin shukla dashami.

During these 10 days of Dussehra, huge idols of Ravana, Kumbhakarna (brother of Ravana) and Meghanad (son of Ravana) are erected and are set on fire during sunset.

This is among the most auspicious days in the Hindu calendar and comes as the finale of the nine-day festival, Navaraatri. This festival of victory is preceded by worship of Saraswati the Goddess of Learning and of Durgaa the Goddess of Strength. Grand processions of all Gods and Goddesses are taken out in every town and village on this day, signifying the victory of the forces of righteousness over those of wickedness. Various have been the names of the Goddess of Strength - Durgaa, Mahaa Kaali, Mahishasura Mardini etc., under which that supreme protectors of the good and the holy put to rout, time and again, the demoniac forces and established the supremacy of the righteous.

Vijaya Dashami is resplendent with many an inspiring episode reflecting the victorious culmination of deeds of valour of our illustrious ancestors. The tradition in southern parts depicts Sri Rama's triumphant return to Ayodhya after fourteen years of banishment entailing endless hardships, dangers and mental anguish like separation from Sita and finally the slaying of Ravana, as coinciding with this day. Symbolic of the victorious occasion, Rama-Leela is observed with great enthusiasm in the northern parts.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Goddess Durga represents a united front of all Divine forces against the negative forces of evil and wickedness. The gods in heaven decided to create an all-powerful being to kill the demon king Mahishasur who was ready to attack them. At that very moment a stream of lightning dazzled forth from the mouths of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh and it turned into a beautiful, magnificent woman with ten hands. Then all the Gods furnished her with their special weapons. The image of Durga, the Eternal Mother destroying the demon, Mahishasur is symbolic of the final confrontation of the spiritual urge of man with his baser passions.

Durga Puja, ‘Worship of Durga’ also referred as Durgotsab, ‘Festival of Durga’ is an annual Hindu festival that celebrates worship of Hindu goddess Durga. It refers to all the six days observed as Mahalaya, Shashthi , Maha Saptami, Maha Ashtami, Maha Nabami and Bijoya Dashami.

The dates of Durga Puja celebrations are set according to traditional Hindu calendar and the fortnight corresponding the festival is called Debi Pokkho (‘Fortnight of the Goddess’). Debi Pokkho is preceded by Mahalaya, the last day of the previous fortnight Pitri Pokkho (‘Fortnight of the Forefathers’) and is ended on Kojagori Lokkhi Puja (‘Worship of Goddess Lakshmi on Kojagori Full Moon Night’).

Durga Puja is widely celebrated in West Bengal, Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and Tripura where it is a five-day annual holiday.

Not only it is the biggest Hindu festival celebrated throughout the State, but also the most significant socio-cultural event in Bengali society. Apart from Eastern part of India, Durga Puja is also celebrated in Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Punjab, Kashmir, Karnataka and Kerala. Durga Puja is also celebrated as a major festival in Nepal and Bangladesh. Nowadays, many non-residential Bengali cultural organizations arrange for Durgotsab in the countries like the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, France, Oman etc.

The prominence of Durga Puja increased gradually during the British Raj in Bengal. After the Hindu reformists resemble Durga with India, she had become an icon for the Indian Independence movement. On the first quarter of the 20th century, the tradition of Community Puja was popularized due to this. After Independence, Durga Puja became one of the largest celebrated festivals in the whole world.

Durga Puja includes the worships of Shiva, Lakshmi, Ganesha, Saraswati and Kartika also. Modern tradition have come to include the display of decorated pandals and artistically depicted idols of Durga, exchange of Bijoya Greetings and publication of Puja Annuals.

In Bengal, Durga Puja is also called Akalbodhan ('untimely awakening of Durga'), Sharadiya Puja (‘autumnal worship’), Sharodotsab (‘festival of autumn’), Maha Puja (‘grand puja’), Maayer Pujo (‘worship of the Mother’) or only referred as Puja or Pujo.

The worship of Durga in the autumn is the year's largest Hindu festival of Bengal. Durga Puja is also celebrated in Nepal and Bhutan according to local traditions and variations.

Puja means "worship," and Durga's Puja is celebrated from the sixth to tenth day of the waxing moon in the month of Ashwin which is the sixth month in the Bengali calendar. Occasionally, however, due to shifts in the lunar cycle relative to the solar months, it may also be held in the following month, Kartika.

In the Krittibas Ramayana, Rama invokes the goddess Durga in his battle against Ravana. Although she was traditionally worshipped in the spring, due to contingencies of battle, Rama had to invoke her in the autumn akaal bodhan.

The pujas are held over a ten-day period, which is traditionally viewed as the coming of the married daughter, Durga, to her father, Himalaya's home. It is the most important festival in Bengal, and Bengalis celebrate with new clothes and other gifts, which are worn on the evenings when the family goes out to see the 'pandals' (temporary structures set up to venerate the goddess). Although it is a Hindu festival, religion takes a back seat on these five days: Durga Puja in Bengal is a carnival, where people from all backgrounds, regardless of their religious beliefs, participate and enjoy themselves to the hilt.

In Kolkata alone more than two thousand pandals are set up, all clamouring for the admiration and praise of the populace. The city is adorned with lights. People from all over the country visit the city at this time and every night is one mad carnival where thousands of people go 'pandal-hopping' with their friends and family. Traffic comes to a standstill, and indeed, most people abandon their vehicles to travel by foot after a point. A special task force is deployed to control law and order. Durga Puja in Calcutta is often referred to as the Rio Carnival of the Eastern Hemisphere.

Durga Puja is celebrated by the Indian Diasporas residing in different parts of the world. It is also celebrated in regions and by people culturally and historically distinct from India.

Durga Puja, the most happening festival of the Bengalis can be sensed with its spurt of fanfare on all the four days of the festival. This autumnal festival recalls the power of female Shakti symbolized by the Goddess Durga who slays asura to reestablish peace and sanctity on earth again.

Bengalis all over the world during these days of Durga Puja rejoice to their heart's content reconnecting with friends and relatives. Durga Puja is an occasion when the familiar sound of Dhak, Dhunuchi nachh,the mild fragrance of Shiuli, gives a familiar tug to every Bengali heart.

After the three days of Puja, in Dashami, in the last day, a tearful farewell is offered to the Goddess. Most of the community pujas postpone the farewell as long as possible and arrange a grand send-off. The images are carried in processions around the locality and finally are immersed in a nearby river or lake. Vijaya Dashami is an event celebrated all over the country.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


In Hindu Mythology, Vishwakarma is the divine architect of the universe. He is also called the divine carpenter and is mentioned in the Rigveda as deva shilpi (Architect of Gods) and is credited with Sthapatya Veda, the science of mechanics and architecture.

According to the Hindu mythology, Vishwakarma, the seventh son of Brahma, the creator of the world, was gifted with a unique creativity. In Buddhism, Vishwakarma is known as Lhai Zow Vishwakarma and there are several stories extolling his creative talents. People and organisations that make a living from handling of machines observe the day with deep reverence.

Artisans, craftsmen, mechanics, smiths, welders, industrial workers, factory workers and workers of all kind worship Lord Vishwakarma on this day and pray for a better future, safe working conditions and above all success in their respective fields.

People conduct poojas in the factories and industrial areas, often on the shop floor. It is a custom of the craftsmen to worship their tool in his name and they refrain from working with their tools on this day. According to mythology it is Vishwakarma who designed the triloka; the tripartite universe consisting of the mortal world, the heavens, and the netherworld. Vishwakarma is also credited for creating the missiles used in the mythological era, including the Vajra the sacred weapon of Lord Indra (a parallel of Zeus’ thunderbolts) from the ribs of sage Dadhichi. He is also credited with the creation of the twin bows Saringa and Pinaka used by Vishnu and Siva respectively against each other to decide who the greater warrior was.

Lord Vishwakarma is regarded as the supreme power according to Rig veda, the very essence of excellence and quality in creation.
In the state of Bengal Vishwakarma Puja is celebrated much before Dushhera. Seventeenth September is celebrated as Vishwakarma day in India to worship lord Vishwakarma. Vishwakarma puja is observed on the kanya sankranti day which comes after the ganesh puja. The puranas says that he did the construction of dwaraka, where lord Krishna was the ruler and the maya sabha of the pandavas. The fourth upa-veda was revealed by Vishwakarma and holds the position of authority of the sixty four mechanical arts.

Since the puranic age Vishwakarma is said to be Divine engineer. In Mahabharata and Harivamsa, He is said to be the son of Vasu Prabhassa and Yoga Siddha is described as the lord of arts.

This festival of Vishwakarma Puja is celebrated with full enthusiasm. It is observed mostly in workshops, offices and factories in the industrial areas. Automobile workshops and factories around the country remains closed on Vishwakarma Puja to celebrate the day which involves setting up altars at factory and construction sites to make offerings to Lord Vishwakarma. Shop floors in various factories wear a festive look on this occasion. In beautifully decorated pandals the image of Vishwakarma and his faithful elephant are inaugurated and worshipped. The industrial towns in urban area come alive with decorative pandals and loudspeakers. Most factories around the area declare the annual bonus on this day. The puja pandals are usually made within the factory premises. Vehicle owners also festoon their cars with balloons and colourful ribbons.

On Vishwakarma Puja day family members of the employees come together to create a bright moment in an otherwise dull and mundane workshop. The entire factory workforce sits together for lunch.

The rituals are followed by the distribution of "prasad". The yearly feast is cooked and the workmen and the owners take their lunch get together. People are also found to be flying multi-colour kites. The sky fills up with all shades and colours. Chadials, Mombattis, Chowrangees, Petkattas, Mayurpankhis, Baggas fly high to establish the skills of the fliers. The sky becomes a war zone with the discarded kites dropping every now and then with the cry of "Bho-Kattaaa" from the distant roofs or parks.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


The Strand is a seaside foreshore located in Townsville, Australia. It is located in the suburb of North Ward. The Strand has a magnificent view of the Port of Townsville and Magnetic Island, as well as views stretching all the way out to Cape Cleveland.

The Strand has been a part of Townsville's history since the city was founded in the mid 1800s.

The Strand was recently named Australia's cleanest Beach 2008.

The current foreshore was opened in 1999 after the old foreshore was severely damaged and eroded after heavy rainfall and wind from Tropical Cyclone Sid in January 1998 and other monsoonal storms between 1997 and 1998.

An estimated 80,000 people turned out on the opening weekend, which included numerous events including a pyrotechnics and fireworks display, and a skyshow.

The Strand’s infrastructure ensures every aspect of this beach, from the
catchment to the reef, is in the best condition possible. The dedication to ensuring an enjoyable seaside experience for locals and visitors alike is coupled with an enthusiastic and active commitment to Townsville's environment. There is a strong desire to exhibit best practice innovation, through the use of simple technologies and fantastic educational techniques.

Townsville’s The Strand also picked up the Protection of the
Environment and Environmental Innovation (Water) Category Awards, and was highly commended in the Heritage and Culture, Environmental Innovation and Litter Prevention categories.

Since the opening of the Strand, the foreshore has been used for many annual or monthly events. The first Friday of each month sees Strand Park used for Night markets, which is a very popular festivity among the local residents.
Other events include the annual Townsville City Council Run Christmas events, Carols by Candlelight and Stable on the Strand, as well as a fireworks display and gathering on New Year's Eve.One example of a bi-annual event is the Strand Ephemera, wherein local and regional artists display their works along the foreshore.

Some works from this event have become permanent on the foreshore, including the Silver Coconuts near the Rock Pool.

Strand is the favourite and popular place not only for the residents of Townsville but also for all the visitors.

People residing in Townsville visit Strand almost everyday for walking and everybody enjoys the cool breeze.

Usually I go for evening walk at Strand and enjoy the pleasant climate and watching all the people of various ages walking around, children playing and enjoy taking bath in swimming pool, dogs walking on the beach and the lovely birds moving and flying all around.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


The Ross River Dam is located 15km south-west of Townsville, in northern Queensland, Australia.

The river flows from Lake Ross, through the city of Townsville, into the Pacific Ocean. It is the major waterway flowing through Townsville, and supplies the main water source for the city, the Ross River Dam.

Ross River is a locality south-east of Ross Lake. Ross River virus, the agent responsible for Ross River fever, is named after the Ross River, as it was the place where the virus was first identified.

The Ross River Dam, aka Lake Ross, is the major source of water supply for the Townsville and Thuringowa cities. The dam was constructed at the junction of the Ross River and Five Head Creek. It was built to fulfill the two primary purposes of flood mitigation and water storage.

The river flows northward and bends east around Mount Stuart into the city. The Ross River has two distinctly different ecosystems. Above the Aplin's Weir is a fresh water environment and below the weir there is a salt water environment.

The Ross River Dam has a capacity of 214,000 mega litres covering approximately 8000 hectares and has an earth rock embankment 7.5km in length with a concrete spillway. The maximum height of the embankment is 27 metres. The catchments area is 75 000 hectares.

Water from the Ross River Dam Pump Station supplies up to 232 megalitres to the Douglas Water Treatment Plant where the water undergoes aeration, sedimentation, rapid sand filtration and chlorination treatment processes before it is pumped to the Douglas Reservoir System where the water is then distributed to Townsville and Thuringowa.

Ross River Dam is a very beautiful place and also the ideal place for picnic and outing. Usually in weekends I visit the dam and enjoy very much.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


The Billabong Sanctuary is an Australian wildlife sanctuary situated 17 km south of Townsville, North Queensland. It is Australia's best interactive wildlife sanctuary.

Billabong is an Australian English word used to refer to a stagnant pool of water in the bed of a stream that flows intermittently. The word is derived from two Aboriginal words: billa meaning creek and bong meaning dead.

The Billabong Sanctuary displays Australia’s native animals in their natural habitat – rainforest, eucalypt forest and wetlands. The sanctuary is home to native Australian mammals, reptiles and birds such as kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, wombats, crocodiles, parrots and cassowaries.

Visitors to the sanctuary have the opportunity to take a guided tour through the 11 hectare natural tropical bush, or take a self-guided tour. Activities during the guided tour include holding and feeding of the animals and attending feeding shows. The staffs are wonderful with full of knowledge and experience.

Being one of the top wildlife sanctuaries in Australia, the Billabong Sanctuary has won several awards, including the North Queensland Tourism Awards for Eco Tourism in 2002 and 2006 and the Townsville City Council Environmental Excellence Award in 1999.

Billabong Sanctuary offers all the benefits of a wildlife park, without the busy, commercial aspects found in many zoos worldwide.

People from all over the world visit Billabong Sanctuary to enjoy the live feeding and patting animals which is a unique experience. Children enjoy very much and everybody feels delighted to meet Australia’s native fauna.

The Billabong Sanctuary offers a complete range of facilities for the family or group outing. People cool off in the tropical pool and enjoy a picnic lunch by the Billabong, relax on the verandahs of the Blinky Bill Café where a tempting range of snacks and meals are an offer.

I have visited Billabong Sanctuary several times and each time I had new experience and enjoyed very much feeding the animals and patting them.