Friday, August 14, 2015


(pancha is five in samskritam; amritam is nectar)
Amaavasya / Kali Yugabda 5117 / Manmatha Aadi 29 (August 14, 2015)

No pilgrimage to the hill shrine of Lord Venkateswara at Tirupati (Andhra Pradesh, Bharat), the world's richest Hindu temple is complete without the laddu. The mouth-watering sweet is the most sought after prasad after prayers to Lord Venkateswara. The Tirupati laddu, given away as 'prasad', has entered its 300th year. Temple officials say the sacred offering was introduced on August 2, 1715. According to the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD), which manages the affairs of the hill shrine, about nine crore (90 million) laddus were given away to pilgrims in 2014.The normal price of a 300 gram laddu is Rs.25. As a privilege to pilgrims, two laddus are issued at a subsidized rate of Rs.10 each.TTD had projected an income of Rs.190 crore from prasad sale. Last year, about 18 lakh(1.8 million) laddus were sold in the first seven days of Brahmotsavam, breaking all previous records. The authorities make elaborate arrangements to ensure uninterrupted supply of laddus to the pilgrims. They have the capacity to produce 3,00,000 laddus a day. Nearly 620 people, including 270 cooks, work in the laddu and other prasad making units. The TTD took up modernisation of the temple kitchen last year with the installation of two escalator belts for laddus and boondi crates. The conveyor systems have the capacity to transfer up to 8,00,000 laddus every day. The Office of the Registrar of Patents, Trademarks and Geographical Indications awarded the Geographical Indication (GI) status to the Tirupati laddu in 2014. (THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS, August 6, 2015).

For a group of walkers in Anna University, Chennai, the morning of August 8 was no less than a page out of a movie script. Around 6.30 a.m., they saw a woman and a young girl asking people for directions. Curious, some of them approached the duo to offer help. “R. Swathi, had scored 1,017 marks in her Plus Two. She came with her mother Thangaponnu, a shepherd, from their hometown of Musiri in Tiruchirapally (Tamilnadu, Bharat). “They were asked to come to Anna Arangam, Tamil Nadu Agriculture University, Coimbatore, but they reached Anna University Chennai by mistake,” said M. Saravanan, a former student of College of Engineering, Guindy and a member of a walking group called Twalkers. Counselling was to start at 8.30 a.m. in Coimbatore. Both mother and daughter had lost hope. One of the walkers brought them breakfast, another went to book and print out the flight tickets, while another was speaking to TNAU staff in Coimbatore. Tickets were confirmed and Twalkers’ members decided to share the cost of Rs. 10,500. Some of the walkers, who are teaching at Anna University, spoke to TNAU registrar C.R. Ananda Kumar, explained the problem and asked for extra time. “We took off at 10.05 a.m., landed at 11.28 a.m. and in the next hour we had the admission letter on our hands,” Swathi said. She will now pursue B.Tech. Biotechnology at the Coimbatore campus. “It looks like a miracle now,” she says. The Twalkers did not stop there. They called up Thangaponnu to confirm if they had secured the admission. “It was very kind of them to do so. They came around like an angel when we had lost hope,” Swathi said. After getting the seat and back in their hometown in Musiri, the mother-daughter are now planning to visit Chennai again. “We want to return the money they spent to buy our flight tickets. How else can we say thank them?” Thangaponnu said. (Based on a report by Smt Vipasha Sinha and Shri  Karthik Madhavan in THE HINDU, August 10, 2015).

When the floods in Neel Dhara along the Ganga river downstream from Hardwar destroyed 26 lakh trees in June 2013, it made a Kerala-based priest who lives in the Himalayas decide to restoring the lost flora. Swami Samvidanandan, who is originally from Kochi (Kerala, Bharat), moved to Rishikesh to study Sanskrit in 1996. Samvidanandan started a campaign to plant and conserve trees. “The uprooted trees included species such as eucalyptus, gulmohar, debdaru, radhachura, banyan, peepal, rain, neem and several fruit-bearing trees such as jackfruit, mango, banana, coconut and cashew. How many years will it take to restore the lost forests? This thought made me venture into restoring the woods,” says Samvidanandan. Through Tree Trip, he aims to plant saplings specially grown in the nurseries of Green Vein, an NGO started by Samvidanandan in 2013 in Uttarakhand. More than six lakh trees have been planted and are maintained by the NGO. The Billion Trees project initiated by Green Vein plans to take up extensive afforestation programmes throughout India. The project will cover 30 states and one billion saplings. Under the project, nurseries will be set up in each state that will provide saplings for afforestation programmes. Active community participation is the key objective, in partnership with the government. The programme will also try to create wildlife cover for animals by ensuring sufficient forest space, provision of water facilities, and fruit orchards for fauna like monkeys. (Based on a feature story by Smt Anupama Mili in THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS, July 25, 2015).


At village Chirdi in Udhampur district (Jammu-Kashmir, Bharat) two heavily-armed terrorists believed to be from Pakistan, had ambushed a convoy of BSF personnel and opened fire in which two constables and a militant were killed while another terrorist was caught alive in a manner identical to the nabbing of 26/11 Mumbai attacker Ajmal Kasab. Recognising the brave act of two civilians, who nabbed an armed Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorist Mohammad Naved alias Mohammad Usman the Jammu & Kashmir Police recruited the duo on Tuesday. The J&K police have issued an appointment order for Rakesh Sharma as constable and recommended the government for relaxation of qualification bar in favour of Vikramjeet for his appointment as follower in the police force. Furthermore, in recognition of their rare display of courage, the state police have also recommended to the state government names of Rakesh and Vikramjeet for the prestigious Shaurya Chakra Award. Rakesh Kumar and Vikramjeet, along with three other youth, were held hostage by Pakistani terrorist while he was fleeing from the spot of terror attack. They fought with the terrorist and captured him with the help of a few VDC members. The Deputy chief minister had earlier raised the matter with Chief Minister Mufti Mohmmad Sayeed, who directed state Home Secretary to ensure that the duo are awarded. (ZEE NEWS, August 11, 2015).

Ambassador Idriss Raoua Ouedraogo of Burkina Faso (a western African country) had finished his three-year tenure in India and was to have left. But the noted yoga teacher was asked to stay back in Delhi for the International Yoga Day (June 21, 2015), which he did happily. In recognition of his expertise, Idriss, a Muslim who has been practicing yoga for 27 long years, was invited as the chief guest at the foundation day ceremony of the Yoga University of India on June 21. For Idriss, the 35 asanas performed as part of the International Yoga Day yoga protocol at Rajpath were "simple". "The yoga protocol was simple. I do all the yoga exercises, I do pranayama (breathing exercises), I do mudras, all the asanas," Idriss said, adding that he was a yoga teacher. "I teach yoga to around 100 teachers," said the envoy, who has founded the Himalayan Yoga Meditation Centre in Burkina Faso. Idriss said there were seven yoga centres in the small landlocked nation of over 1.8 crore. He has written books on yoga, is known as Yogi Idriss in his country. The Yoga Meditation Centre of Burkina Faso now has a branch in neighbouring Benin too. Idriss was taught yoga by Swami Veda Bharati and by B.K.S. Iyengar, one of the pioneers of modern yoga.  (Based on a report by Smt Ranjana Narayan,  IANS, June 21, 2015).
If you want your friend or someone to receive
PANCHAAMRITAM in the inbox regularly, please ask the person to send an email to
It is FREE!