Republic Day 2015 Google Doodle

We the people, of India, that is Bharat, have a very strange concept of feeling proud.  Mark Zuckerberg ‘liking’ the image of bear hug between President Obama and PM Modi becomes headline news.  On the same day, we chicken out from displaying the China-Killer Agni-V in the Republic Day Parade.

Google too seems to have taken a very safe path (pun intended) with the Doodle for Republic Day 2015.  The Doodle for today portrays that unique Indian display – a tableau vivant on a truck chassis.

The arrival of the tableaux during the Republic Day march-past is usually the signal to change channel or the visiting public to drift away.  But the tableaux continue to grow in number over years.

The Doodle portrays one such tableau sporting a model of the Rashtrapathi Bhavan, the India Gate and the flower festooned Raj Path connecting them. 

The Republic Day 2015 Doodle is very artistically and tastefully drawn, with vibrant colours.  Thankfully the artist has held back from splashing too much of the national colours – saffron, white and green – in the doodle.  The result is quite eye catching.

Have a look for yourself.

india-republic-day-2015

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Ratha Saptami 2015 procedure in Tamil

Ratha Saptami (Tamil: ரத ஸப்தமி, Sanskrit: रथ सप्तमि) is a Hindu festival that falls on the seventh day (Saptami) in the bright half (Shukla Paksha) of the Tamil month Thai (தை).  As the month is called Makara (மகர மாசம்) it is referred to as Maagha or Magha Saptami in the Northern parts of India.  This year Ratha Saptami occurs tomorrow, 26 January 2015.

Ratha Saptami marks the seventh day following the Sun’s northerly movement (Uttarayana) of vernal equinox starting from Capricorn (Makara).  The day is also celebrated as the birthday of the Sun God and called as Surya Jayanti. In Tamil (and some parts of the other 3 southern states) ritual, the day is celebrated with a ceremonial bath and water offering to the Sun (அர்க்யம்).

The ceremonial bath is performed by placing a little turmeric powder (மஞ்சள் தூள்), some rice (அக்ஷதை), some Bermuda Grass (அருகம்புல்), on 7 Giant Milkweed leaves (வெள்ளை எருக்கு, अर्कपत्रं, Calotropis procera), placed on top of the head and taking a shower or immersion in a water body.  Then water offering is performed thrice.

The actual procedure – that is placing the leaves, etc. – during Ratha Saptami depends various sect and family traditions, though the mantras are the same.  Some do not use Bermuda Grass, some split the 7 leaves on the head and both shoulders, and variations thereof.

A word of caution though.  Arka leaves (Giant Milkweed, வெள்ளை எருக்கு, Calotropis procera)are highly toxic and if not properly handled or ingested can cause blindness or even be fatal.  They have to be handled with extreme caution.

The mantras for both the ritual bath and the water offering for Ratha Saptami 2015 in Tamil is here [download link] Bhishma Astami is on 27 Jan 2015, procedure will be uploaded soon.

ratha-saptami-2015
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Thai Amavasya 2015 Tharpanam procedure in Tamil

Tomorrow, Tuesday, the 20th of January 2015, is the Thai Amavasya (தை அமாவாசை).  In Sanskrit it is called the Makara Maasa Amavasya (மகர மாஸ அமாவாசை).  As has become the practice, the Thai Amavasya 2015 Tharpanam Procedure in Tamil is given here.

The Thai Amavasya is considered significant as this is the first Amavasya or the New Moon in the Utharayana Punya Kalam or the Northern movement of Sun.  The traditional belief is that the Dakshinayana Punya Kalam is the ‘day’ for the Pitrus or ancestors and conversely the Utharayana is the ‘night’ time for them. 

It is believed that the ancestors visit the material earth (and us) during their daytime, that is the Dakshinayana period starting sometime around the Mahalaya Paksha period.  With the onset of Utharayana, the Thai Amavasya is considered special - as a sort of grand dinner or a send-off feast for the ancestral spirits.

For the first time, we are putting up a very, very, short, minimal mantras for people who cannot pronounce the mantras, or people who do not have all the details like gothras or names of ancestors, etc.  It is the bare minimum required to perform an Amavasya Tharpanam of just 3 pages, compared to the 8 page full version.  Please note that this is *not* an alternate to the normal, full, tharpanam, but only meant for those with limitations. 

The link for both the files are below the snapshot.

Here is a snapshot of the relevant Sankalpam for tomorrow’s Thai Amavasya 2015.  People who only want this detail need not download the file, but just copy the essentials from the image.
:-D

Thai-amavasya-tharpanam-2015


The link for the PDF file with the full Thai Amavasya Tharpanam 2015 Procedure in Tamil is here.


Note:
The link for the PDF file with the SHORT (meant only for people with limitations) Amavasya Tharpanam is available here.

How many crows were married today

In Tamil Nadu, 16 January 2016, the day after the Pongal festival, is the Mattu Pongal (மாட்டுப் பொங்கல்), supposedly to celebrate the services of the cattle – cows and bulls or bullocks which were vital in farming yesteryear.  The early morning of that day also has a spectacle – womenfolk placing colourful cooked rice balls on terrace or open ground for the crows.

The sentiment is that it safeguards the brothers of the womenfolk.  Whatever the belief, the mantras chanted when they place the rice balls are amusing.  While I do not remember all the verses – it has been too long since I was allowed to participate as a child – I do remember the last sentence.

The chant is ‘the crows are getting married’ (காக்கைக்கு எல்லாம் கல்யாணம்).  So what made me remember it this year? 

A few minutes back it drizzled in Chennai.  As kids, when it used to drizzle while sun was also shining, we never used the term ‘passing clouds’; instead we used to say that somewhere a Crow and a Sparrow were getting married (காக்கைக்கும்-குருவிக்கும் கல்யாணம்).

Sniggering with that thought led to the one about the Mattu Pongal and the marriage of the crows.
:-D

So, here is a snapshot of the breakfast or lunch served for the crows’ marriage.  By my count there were as many as seven or eight from the neighbour’s terrace.

mattu-pongal-kanu

Our terrace?  Not one – seems the womenfolk in my apartment complex do not believe in crows getting married.

Google Chrome Profile Manager switched on by default

It has been more than a month since the Google Chrome 39 was released, and updated on my PC.  Although it has had many minor version updates in this one month, it is still is the same version 39 as of today.  And today, I noticed a difference.  The difference is the ‘Profile Manager’ has been enabled by default!

The Profile Management System in Google Chrome is a feature copied from the Chrome OS was disabled by default every since Chrome 32 (or so).  AFAIK, it was still disabled by default in Chrome 39.  Even more interesting is the fact that the the ‘current’ stable version installed (and updated) is Version 39.0.2171.95 m (64-bit), while there is supposed to be a 39.0.2171.96 version too!

BTP it was a nice surprise to see the Profile Manger turned on by default on my browser.  Even more nice was the masked superhero icon picked up by Chrome for me!
:-D

Mind you, this is not a ‘new’ feature.  Google Chrome has had fun with multiple user profiles since January 2012 with Chrome 16.  This Profile Manager is merely a better and easier way for users to share the browser with many users, including guests.  On second thoughts, it is not even a new ‘way’, but just a quick access ‘widget’ to get at a feature.

Whatever it is, the new visible Profile Manager is cool.

profile-manager-google-chrome