World Mosquito Day: 5 flowers that can keep mosquitoes at bay

Written by: Samhati Bhattacharjya

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Source: Pixabay

World Mosquito Day, which is observed every year on Aug 20 across the globe, was first established in 1897, after Sir Ronald Ross discovered the link between mosquitoes and malaria transmission. This particular day is aimed to raise awareness about the causes of malaria and how it can be prevented, as well as fundraising for research into the cure of malaria. However, World Mosquito Day also commemorates the groundbreaking work of the British doctor.

Although World Mosquito Day is not one of the most celebrated international days, but it surely is an important one, especially after the sudden rise of mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue, yellow fever, chikungunya and zika. The doctors have been urging the members of the public to be careful and to avoid breeding places in their houses by emptying, covering, or treating any items that hold water.

There are a number of chemical products in the market that claim to wipe out mosquitoes. But, the scientists have proved that those products can eventually harm us more as those use harsh synthetic agents. Thus, it’s high time that we should find out a natural way to combat such pest problems. On the occasion of World Mosquito Day, we have listed down 5 anti-mosquito plants and flowers that can be the best mosquito-repelling plants to plant in the garden.

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Source: Pixabay

Lavender: Flowers are definitely a treat to the senses, but Lavender is one such flower that can keep mosquitoes at bay. The oil of this flower is a known mosquito repellent and is a common ingredient in topical creams that ward off mosquitoes. In order to drive out these disease-causing insects, one can use either the flower or its oil on the skin.

Four o’ clock flower: This flower is also known by its scientific name Mirabilis jalapa or the marvel of Peru. The four o’ clock flower is a common sight in most of the Indian nurseries that we have around our houses. The flower has a unique tendency to bloom at around 4 pm every day. Scientific evidence suggests that the flower extracts were known to be effective against An. stephensi, Ae. aegypti and Cx. quinquefasciatus breeds of mosquitoes and killing their larvae.

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Source: Pixabay

Marigold: The marigold flower used as one of the key ingredients for all religious purposes across India. It is already quite known for being an excellent medicine for all sorts of skin conditions. But, at the same time the extracts of marigold exhibits good mosquito repelling qualities. Experts say that these flowers contain pyrethrum, an ingredient that is often included in insects sprays.

Rosemary: These flowers are extremely effective at repelling mosquitoes. Rosemary flowers can be grown both inside or outside the house and surprisingly this plant maintains its effectivity even after trimming.

Tulsi flower: The sacred holy basil or tulsi plant is present in almost every Hindu household as it is revered for its religious significance and health benefits. People generally use the sap of the plant for treating skin diseases. But, it’s is a rare known fact that the flowers of the tulsi plant are equally therapeutic, especially when it comes to warding off mosquitoes.  One can crush the flowers and rub the fragrant remnants on the skin to keep the mosquitoes away from biting you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

World Photography Day: Top 10 quotes to celebrate the art form

Written by: Samhati Bhattacharjya

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Source: Pixabay

World Photography Day is celebrated every year on Aug 19 to showcase the works of amateur as well as professional photographers in equal measure. It is an extremely special day for all the shutter bugs around the world as they get a chance to observe a day for their art.

The whole concept of celebrating photography originated after the French government presented daguerreotype process “Free to the World”, invented by Joseph Nicèphore Nièpce and Louis Daguerre, as a gift to the world on 19 August, 1839.

In today’s generation, photography is considered to be one of the most fascinating forms of art. It helps a person to relive a moment from his past. This art form is not restricted to only professional cameras, people tend to shoot in their mobile cameras as well.

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Source: Pixabay

The world has witnessed some of the greatest photographers of all times who have captured usual things in the most unusual manner. They recreated life through their camera. However, these famous personalities have inspired several aspiring photographers, not only with their lenses, but also with their thoughts and words. Let’s take a look at the top 10 quotes by some of the renowned photographers that describe the true essence of photography.

  • “The camera makes you forget you’re there. It’s not like you are hiding but you forget, you are just looking so much.”- Annie Leibovitz
  • “A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know.”- Diane Arbus
  • “A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera.”- Dorothea Lange
  • “Photographs open doors into the past, but they also allow a look into the future.”- Sally Mann
  • “Photography is the power of observation, and not the application of technology”- Prerna Sharma
  • “What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.” – Karl Lagerfeld
  • “Every other artist begins with a blank canvas, a piece of paper… the photographer begins with the finished product.”- Edward Steichen
  • “Don’t pack up your camera until you’ve left the location.”- Joe McNally
  • “The eye should learn to listen before it looks.”- Robert Frank
  • “In photography there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.”- Alfred Stieglitz

Offerings by Samhati Bhattacharjya

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Mahalaya is the harbinger of the arrival of Goddess Durga. It marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha”. Mahalaya is celebrated to invoke the goddess possessing supreme power. Thus, the day of Mahalaya bears supreme significance to the Bengalis.

Mahalay is also considered the day of remembrance of departed souls of the family. On this day, the ritual of offering “tarpan” in memory of forefathers is commonly practiced. Tarpan is offered on the banks of River Ganga by priests for different group of devotees.

Durga Puja special: Recipe of Bhapa Aloo, a mouth-watering Bengali veg dish

Written by: Samhati Bhattacharjya

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Source: Representational Image from MixandStir

Durga Puja, the biggest festival of the Bengalis, is around the corner and what’s better than having a fulfilling traditional meal during the festive season. This period is a foodie’s paradise with plenty of mouth-watering dishes to savour. Be it snacks or sweets, lunch or dinner, Bengali dishes have something to offer all food enthusiasts.

However, many non-Bengalis, especially who are vegetarians, feel that there isn’t enough variation of Bengali cuisine when it comes to vegetarian food. Well, that’s not the case. Bengalis are known for their love for fish, but at the same time they have some super delicious vegetarian dishes as well.

A regular meal in a Bengali household consists of at least two kinds of vegetarian dishes: a fried vegetable dish and a vegetable curry every day. Shukto, Dhokar Dalna, Alu Posto, Lau Ghonto are a few of those mouth-watering vegetarian dishes that the Bengalis have mastered in. But, if you are willing to try something new from the wide array of Bengali vegetarian dishes, then here is a simple yet delicious recipe of Bhapa Aloo (Steamed Potato) that will surely leave you longing for more.

Recipe:

Preparation Time – 10 min

Cooking Time – 40 min

Ingredients:

200 gm small potatoes

2 tsp mustard oil

1/2 tsp Bengali five spice mixture (panchphoron) (whole jeerasaunf seeds, fenugreek seeds, black mustrad seeds and kalaunji)

1/2 tsp mustard paste

1 tsp hung curd

3/4 tsp desiccated coconut paste

2 dry red chillies

Pinch of green chilli paste

Pinch of turmeric powder

Salt to taste

Dash of lime juice

2 banana leaves

Procedure:

1. Peel the potatoes and par boil them in salted water. Once the potatoes are boiled, drain the water and keep those aside.

2. Heat oil in a non-stick pan and add the five spice mixture on to it. Then break the red chillies in half and add them next in the oil. Stir the spices around till they splutter.

3. Then pour this mixture over the potatoes and put it aside.

4. Next take a mixing bowl and prepare a marinade with the mustard paste, curd, coconut paste, green chilli paste and turmeric powder. Do not forget to whip it well.

5. Gently mix the potatoes into this marinade. Add salt and lime juice to it and mix it again.

6. Finally, put the potatoes on a steel plate, cover those with the banana leaves and steam them for about 6-8 minutes. Once the potatoes are perfectly steamed, serve it hot on a platter. You can have this dish with both rice and chapati.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bengal beyond ‘Rosogolla’: Top 10 most popular Bengali sweets

Written by: Samhati Bhattacharjya

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Source: Pixabay

Bengal is known for its rich culture, traditions and especially for its finest delectable delicacies, which obviously includes the huge variety of sweets. However, despite having so many varieties of desserts, the image of Bengali sweets is stuck at Rosogolla, Mishti Doi and Sondesh. This is exactly why, we have decided to list down the top 10 popular and most delicious Bengali sweets that one should try apart from Rosogolla and Mishti Doi. Moreover, Durga Puja is just round the corner and it would be the perfect timing to indulge into some sinfully delicious treats.

1. Kheer Kadam

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Source: MixandStir

Kheer Kadam is made by encasing a dry rasgulla or rosogolla (smaller than the usual one), coated first with khoya, which is then dusted with grated dried khoya. It has got its name after Kadamba, a ball-shaped flower with tiny white petals that point in all directions. One can simply pop the whole sweet at one go and relish the taste of both khoya and rosogolla simultaneously.

2. Sita Bhog

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Source: Google

Sita Bhog has mass appeal all over India and that itself boasts how amazing this sweet is. This milk based dish resembles rice vermicelli served with tiny balls of gulab jamun that will easily melt in your mouth. Not convinced? Trust me, you’ve to try it to believe it.

3. Mihidana

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Mihidana is often referred to as the micro-cousin of the traditional Boondi. It is derived from two separate words: ‘Mihi’ meaning ‘fine’ and ‘Dana’ meaning grain. The light golden colour of Mihidana will make your heart melt, just like that.

4. Labanga Latika

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Source: BongCook
Labanga Latika is the hallmark of Bengali tradition. This sweet is made up of khoya, maida, grated coconut, cardamom, ghee and nuts and it’s artfully folded into an envelope shape and sealed with a clove. Later, it is fried in ghee, and soaked in thick sugar syrup to give that extra edge of sweetness to it.

5. Chhanar Jilipi

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Source: GoBengal

This deep fried sweet is made of paneer, khoya and maida and soaked in sugar syrup (flavoured with cardamom). Chhanar Jilipi tastes the best if served warm after heating it for a few seconds.

6. Shorbhaja

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Source: Google

Most people have immense love for deep fried sweets, and when it comes to Shorbhaja, sweet lovers simply can’t resist it. Shorbhaja is entirely from condensed milk which has been deep fried. Its preparation is a tedious process but the final result is absolutely worth the effort.

7. Patishapta

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Source: Google

Patishapta, also known as crepes or ‘pitha’,  is the most popular among all the pithas. It’s actually a rice flour crepe with coconut and jaggery fillings. Patishapta is preserved for Makar Sankranti, and is always made at home. The delicious softness of the crepe and the sweet filling inside makes it one of the best things that you’ll ever have. In some cases, Patishaptas are also served with a bit of sweet thickened milk on top of the roll, making it super yummy.

8. Pantua

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Source: MixandStir
Pantua is very similar to Gulab Jamun. The delicious and heart-warmingly rich paste is made from khoya, channa and flour, which is later made into many medium-sized balls that are deep fried, soaked in sugar syrup and then flavored by cardamom.

9. Langcha

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Source: MixandStir
Langcha belongs to the same family of Pantua, the only difference is that the former is cylindrical and latter is circular in shape. To be true to this sweet, you have to call it Shaktigarh-er Langcha, because it’s credited to have originated from this town in Burdwan district of West Bengal. Coming to its taste, this langcha is super delicious.

10. Joynogorer Moa

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Source: BongHaat

This sweet is made from date palm jaggery, puffed rice and clarified butter (ghee), and cardamom. Moa is particularly available in winter because both the puffed rice and the jaggery belong to that season. However, nowadays these are also available during Durga Puja. Joynogorer Moa is often topped with a raisin or two that adds on to the flavor of this sweet ball.

7 interesting facts about the Indian Independence

Written by: Samhati Bhattacharjya

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Source: Pixabay

India celebrated its 71st Independence Day on 15 August, 2017 with renewed enthusiasm and patriotic fervour. In 1947, this date marked the end of India’s struggle against British rule and the beginning of a new era for the country. India is truly a secular and diverse country with different religions, languages, caste, and creed living in harmony.

India has a long history to tell about itself since its freedom till now. All of us have read about the freedom fighters of our country and their horrific struggle for freedom. But, as the nation celebrates the 71st year of freedom, we thought of bringing something different to the table. Here’s a list of 7 interesting facts associated with Independence Day that may surprise you.

1. India derived its name from the River Indus, the valleys around which were the home of the first inhabitants of the country. The Sanskrit name for India is Bharat Ganarajya. Hence, it is also known as ‘Bharat’.

2. The National flag was first hoisted on August 7, 1906 at the Parsee Bagan Square in Calcutta, now Kolkata. The flag was composed of horizontal strips of red, yellow and green. The red strip at the top had eight white lotuses embossed on it in a row. The green strip had a white sun on the left and a white crescent and star on the right.

3. At present, the Indian flag has three colours: saffron, white and green. The top strip saffron stands for courage and sacrifice; the middle portion white for peace, truth, purity and green for faith, fertility and chivalry. The Ashok Chakra at the centre of the flag depicts righteousness.

4. It is said that Pingali Venkayya designed the first version of the current national flag at Bezwada in 1921. The flag was made up of two colours: red and green that used to represent the two major communities. Gandhiji suggested the addition of a white strip to represent the remaining communities of India and the spinning wheel to symbolize progress of the Nation.

5. Talking about the national flag, the Khadi Development and Village Industries Commission is the only licensed flag production and supply unit in India. As of 2008, the Dharwad based Karnataka Khadi Gramodyoga Samyukta Sangha was the sole manufacturer of the flag. The flags were earlier made with Jayadhar, a popular variety of cotton grown in Karnataka. But, Khadi Gramodyoga has recently started using Bt cotton instead of the indigenous.

6. Many people think that Hindi is the national language of our country, but that’s not true. Hind is the first official language of India.  Article 343 of the Constitution states that Hindi in Devnagari script is the official language of India. On 14 September 1949, Hindi was declared as the Official Language of the Union.

7. Although, the Bengali invocation of Jana Gana Mana was written in 1911, there was no National Anthem when India became independent on August 15, 1947. Jana Gana Mana was not considered as national anthem till 1950.

Toilet: Ek Prem Katha- 5 reasons why the Akshay Kumar starrer is a must watch

Written by: Samhati Bhattacharjya

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Source: Facebook/ToiletEkPremKatha

Akshay Kumar starrer Toilet: Ek Prem Katha was finally released on 11 August, 2017 and fans are going gaga over it. Ever since its announcement, the audience had been waiting eagerly to witness the romantic comedy that delves into the subject of open defecation.

Moreover, the recent debacle of Shah Rukh Khan-Anushka Sharma starrer ‘Jab Harry Met Sejal was another reason for which all eyes were on Toilet: Ek Prem Katha. And, we must say that the film has fulfilled all those expectations. It has become one of those few films of 2017 that is seeing a good run at the box office by crossing the 50 crores mark on its first weekend. It seems that when Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan failed to rule the market, Akshay is all set to take it over with these five key factors that makes the film a must watch.

Socially relevant message: Toilet: Ek Prem Katha explores the problems of open defecation and talks about the hardships women have to face because of this nationwide issue. The film is a satirical take on a battle against age old tradition of open defecation and is campaigning against the sanitation issue in India, hoping to spread the message of ‘Swach Bharat Abhiyaan’ across the nation. It also highlights the risk of getting raped or lynched due to such ill practices.

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Source:Facebook/ToiletEkPremKatha

Based on a true story: Directed by Shree Narayan Singh, this film is inspired from the real life of Priyanka Bharti. The 19- year- old newly-wed ran away from her in-laws house two days after her marriage, because she could not defecate in the open. She gave rise to a huge revolution in many parts of the country. Priyanka came back to her in-laws house once the toilet was built.

A complete entertainer: Toilet: Ek Prem Katha is an out and out entertainer. After churning superhits one after the other, Khiladi of the box office is back with a mass entertainer that can create an impact in the society with his social satire. The film has hinterland humour that could appeal to the masses. Thus, the film will educate and entertain the masses simultaneously.

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Source: Facebook

Akshay Kumar: Akshay Kumar, the man himself gives us enough reasons to go and watch his film when it’s running in theatres. Be it comedy or serious drama, the actor has always spelt his charm leaving the audience with more expectations. Be it Baby, Rustom, Airlift, Jolly LLB 2 or Special 26, Akshay Kumar has proved his acting abilities again and again. But, with Toilet: Ek Prem Katha ‘Akki’ has taken the entertainment quotient to a whole new level with a script that was refused by many actors in the industry.

New on-screen pair: This is the first time that Akshay Kumar is pairing up with ‘Dum Lagake Haisha’ actress, Bhumi Pednekar. In this film, Bhumi plays the character of a strong headed bride, who walks out of his in-laws house since they do not have a toilet in the house. And, it’s needless to say that she has stolen hearts all over again after her debut film, ‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’. The on-screen chemistry between Keshav and Jaya is quite interesting yet simple.