Saturday, October 17, 2009

a chinese deepavali

the title is an can there be a chinese deepavali one would ask. after all,isn't deepavali a hindu festival? but then can you imagine a deepavali without chinese firecrackers. you cannot. 90% of the world's firecrackers are made in china. in liuyang city. and 80% of fircrackers made in india are manufactured in a small,dirty town south of temple town madurai called sivakasi,and some biggies have chinese consultants to help them improve their product profile and productivity. sivakasi entrepreneurs are a smart lot. they are now tieing up with chinese firms like jin yi fireworks,hangzhou international and zhezhang fireworks to obtain technology transfer and make firecrackers at low cost,higher volumes and of good quality.

the chinese have a long history of crackermaking.some sivakasi manufacturers have setup shop in china and from there they export the world over. exports from india are banned. like during ganesha or durga puja many of the idols are chinese made,crackers made for deepavali have a chinese stamp on them.

the birthplace of fireworks is generally recognized as china. the first explosive mixture- black powder was found when the sungs ruled china ( 960-1279 ). the story goes that a cook in ancient china found that a mixture of sulfur, saltpeter, and charcoal was very flammable and would explode if enclosed in a small space. the first application of this formula was for entertainment. as they say there was no looking back after this invention for the chinese.the chinese are the undisputed leaders in the production of fireworks. once the recipe for black powder was perfected, they found that it was easily used as rocket fuel, and they made hand carved wooden rockets in the shape of a dragon. these rockets shot rocket powered arrows from their mouth, and were used against the Mongol invaders of 1279. the principle behind these rockets is still used in rocket powered fireworks today.until the 19th century, fireworks lacked a major aesthetically essential characteristic: color. pyrotechnicians began to use a combination of potassium chlorate and various metallic salts to make brilliant colors. the salts of these metals produce the different colors: strontium burns red; copper makes blue; barium glows green; and sodium, yellow. magnesium, aluminum, and titanium were found to give off white sparkles or a flash.the science of pyrotechnics has now advanced greatly in germany and italy.

besides causing us sleepless nights by their claims in arunachal pradesh,buiding a dam across brahmaputra and intrusions along our borders,the chinese have also seeped into our religious and social events by providing modern and cheap idols and crackers for our religious delhi has many feng shui stores scattered over the city selling idols of goddess lakshmi and ganesha.feng shui which symbolises channelising positive energy has another popular item-the shri yantra which is supposed to bring prosperity to the family. and the chinese have also adopted some of our food habits.consultants(there are about 50 of them in sivakasi) like wong chong liu love their idlis,vadas and dosas.

we better beware of the chinese dragon or sumo is an untrustworthy cracker.we might end up burning our fingers.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

the princes of orissa

22nd august is a day which orissans will not easily forget. a dance troupe from berhampur,a sleepy little town in east orissa,created a sensation,by winning the first prize in the 'india has got talent'reality show conducted by the colors channel.'yes,we can' was the mental power that drove the 26-member troupe of students,daily wage earners,small-time traders and two polio-affected children.the leader of the group is krishna mohan reddy under whom the group displayed mindboggling synchronization and dazzling choreography.

without any formal training in dance or theatre they put up an awesome performance with their presentation of 'dashavatara'-the ten incarnations of lord vishnu.and they won a cash award of rs 50 lakhs and a car.

earlier, a huge sms campaign was unleashed by bureaucrats,film stars,corporate houses and the general public in orissa to send favourable votes. even the chief minister openly campaigned for this group's success in the finals.
shekhar kapur,sonali bendre and kiron kher were in tears and spellbound to see the performance of these troupe members mostly from the lower sections of society.

nothing succeeds like success.the orissa government has decided to send them to london and new york in order to enable them "to gain more ideas about dance art."
the expenses will be borne by the orissa mining corporation.
the prince troupe has plans to set up a dance school with part of the rs 50 lakhs that it has won.well done princes,keep it up.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

the 'joy of giving'

"we make a living out of what we get,but we make a life of what we give"-winston churchill.

throughout india, the festival of 'joy of giving' was celebrated from 27th sep to 3rd oct. it was a great opportunity for people to loosen their purses and to give away their books, clothes,furniture ,utensils,old cycles etc for those not so lucky. i was very impressed by the statement that nandita das made who launched this event from bhubaneswar in orissa that the joy of giving cannot be described in words. nandita, the award-winning contemporary and graceful indian actor and film maker, is one of those in the film industry who has her head firmly in place and one who wears her heart so to say in her sleeves.

this event has been conceptualised by GiveIndia,a NGO. several other organisations joined hands with a private tv channel in orissa to give the event wide publicity. the whole idea behind this promotion is to encourage giving.anything can be given.the very act of giving encourages and motivates others to do the same and spreads the spirit of volunteerism.many individuals,schools,groups of people,clubs etc participated. it was a good feeling to see altruism spreading among the people.

people from all walks of life cutting across the country-stars,superstars,celebrities have all pitched in to do their bit in this philanthropic movement.ambika soni,of the congress party, aptly said that the joy of giving is more than the joy of taking.i too in my own modest manner sent money to a relation who was undergoing a major surgery. and i did a few other things like giving some old clothes to the needy. truly,the joy of giving has to be experienced.

"people who give more of their time,money,kindness,love and ideas have more of these things because that's the balance.and balance is the natural law of life."-masami sato.