Category Archives: tvaraj

Women in Western Art – A Video by Philip Scott Johnson


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj
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Philip Scott Johnson used Abrosoft Fantamorph to create this enthralling video.  He uploaded the video on to YouTube on April 22, 2007 under the pseudonym . It was nominated  for 2007 YouTube Awards in the “Creative” category.

DAVOS/SWITZERLAND, 25JAN08 - Yo-Yo Ma, Cellist...

The background music being played is “Bach’s Sarabande from Suite for Solo Cello No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007” performed by the French Americancellist, virtuoso, and orchestral composer Yo-Yo Ma.

I hope you like this video as much as I do.

If you are a curious cat like me, then visit Ms. Boni’s site to find the complete list of artists and paintings used in this video by  Philip Scott Johnson.

Women In Art from Philip Scott Johnson on Vimeo

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Remembering Sirimavo – The Modern World’s First Female Head of Government


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj
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Today, March 8, 2012 (Thursday) is the 101st International Women’s Day.

Currently, there are 17 countries with women as head of government, head of state, or both, which according to Inter-Parliamentary Union and UN Women has more than doubled since 2005.

The honour of being the modern world’s first female head of government goes to the late Sri Lankan politician Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike. She served as Prime Minister of Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, three times, 1960–65, 1970–77 and 1994–2000.

Mrs. Sirimavo Ratwatte Dias Bandaranaike (Sinhala: සිරිමාවෝ රත්වත්තේ ඩයස් බන්ඩාරනායක, Tamil: சிறிமாவோ ரத்வத்தே டயஸ் பண்டாரநாயக்க) was born on April 17, 1916 as Sirimavo Ratwatte to Barnes Ratwatte Dissawe and Rosalind Mahawelatenne Kumarihamy of Mahawelatenne Walauwa, Balangoda. She was the eldest of six, with four brothers and one sister.

Mrs. Bandaranaike was educated at St Bridget’s Convent, Colombo, run by Roman Catholic nuns. She was a devout Buddhist. In 1940 she married Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike. They had three children, Chandrika, Sunethra and Anura.

Her husband Mr. S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, a member of the State council and son of Sir Solomon Dias Bandaranaike, the Maha Mudaliyar (chief native interpreter and advisor to the Governor of Ceylon), was elected as Prime Minister of Ceylon in 1956. His election marked a significant change in Ceylon’s political history. In 1959, a Buddhist monk assassinated him while in office.

After the death of  Mr. S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, there was much confusion in the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), founded by him, and it was on the verge of collapsing. At the request of senior party members, Mrs Bandaranaike took over the presidency of SLFP. Though she was an untried leader, she quickly established herself as a formidable politician in her own right, and was the long-time undisputed leader of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party. She remained leader of the party for the next forty years.

Known to her fellow Sri Lankans as “Mrs. B,” she could skillfully use popular emotion to boost her support, frequently bursting into tears as she pledged to continue her assassinated husband’s vaguely socialist policies. Hence her opponents and critics dubbed her as “the weeping widow”.

In 1960, M. P. de Zoysa (Jnr) stepped down from his seat in the Senate (appointed upper house of Parliament) paving the way for Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike to be appointed as a member of the Senate from the SLFP.

As a bereaved wife and mother of three, Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike led her party to win the July 1960 elections on the pledge to continue her husband’s policies, notably the Sinhala Only Act, and to proceed with repatriation of the estate Tamils to India. On July 21, 1960, she took the oath as prime minister of Sri Lanka, thus becoming the first female prime minister in the modern world.

But within a year of her historic 1960 election victory, she was inundated by a prolonged ‘civil disobedience campaign’ by the minority Tamil population, outraged by her action in replacing English with Sinhala as the official national language and her order to conduct all government business in Sinhala, the language of the majority Sinhalese. The Sri Lankan Tamils considered this a highly discriminatory act and an attempt to deny Tamils access to all official posts and the law. This led to an increase in Tamil militancy which escalated under succeeding administrations. With no other solution in sight, she declared a state of emergency.

Further problems arose when the government took over foreign businesses, particularly petroleum companies. This move irked the United States and Britain, and aid to Sri Lanka was stopped. So, Mrs. Bandaranaike moved towards China and the Soviet Union and championed a policy of nonalignment.

At home, she crushed an attempted military coup also known as the Colonels coup by Christian officers in 1962.

In 1964, Mrs. Bandaranaike entered into a historic coalition with the Marxist Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP).

In December 1964, Mrs. Bandaranaike and her cabinet were defeated by a no-confidence vote when some of her MPs deserted the party over the nationalization of Lakehouse Newspapers. The SLFP coalition was defeated in the 1965 elections, ending her first term as Prime Minister.

In 1970, she became prime minister of Ceylon once again, after an electoral landslide victory by United Front, her left-wing coalition coalition consisting SLFP, LSSP, and the Communists. She developed strong personal ties with China and the then Indian prime minister, Indira Gandhi.

But after just 16 months in power, the government was almost toppled by the  April 1971 JVP Insurrection of left-wing youths led by the Sinhalese Sri Lankan People’s Liberation Front, or Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, a movement started in the late 1960s by Rohana Wijeweera, the son of a businessman.

There was no warning of the uprising, and Sri Lanka’s small army was caught off guard, since Mrs. Bandaranaike had disbanded the government’s intelligence service, suspecting that it was loyal to the opposition United National Party (UNP).

Although the insurgents were young, poorly armed and inadequately trained, they succeeded in seizing and holding major areas in southern and central provinces of the island before they were defeated by government forces. Thanks to Mrs. Bandaranaike’s skillful foreign policy, the government was saved by military aid from both India and Pakistan.

This unsuccessful rebellion by Sinhalese Marxist youth claimed more than 15,000 lives. Their attempt to seize power created a major crisis for the government and forced a fundamental reassessment of the nation’s security needs.

During those tough political years, Mrs. Bandaranaike turned herself into a formidable leader. “She was the only man in her cabinet”, one of her officials commented during the height of the insurgency.

In 1971, she declared the country a republic, and changed the name of the island nation from Ceylon to Sri Lanka.

She also nationalised some companies in the plantation sector and restricted some imports.

By 1975 her government gradually became very unpopular. Under the Soulbury constitution, election should have been held in 1975, but she used a clause of the 1972 constitution to delay elections until 1977.

But in 1976, despite high international standing, Mrs Bandaranaike’s popularity at home declined with a faltering economy and allegations of corruption; and she lost much of the support given to her by the left parties, thus paving the way to a crushing election defeat in 1977, winning only 8 pathetic seats and she managed to win her own seat.

The 1980s were her dark years. Sri Lankan parliament expelled her in 1980, accusing her of misusing power for the 1975-77 delay in elections, and banned her from holding any office for seven years.  She became a political outcast, rejected by her own people who had once idolized her.

Her civic rights were restored in 1986, and she narrowly lost the election for the new, more powerful post of president in 1988.

In 1994, the SLFP-led coalition called the People’s Alliance (PA) won the general elections. Mrs. Bandaranaike’s daughter Chandrika Kumaratunga first become prime minister and then became president of Sri Lanka the same year in November 1994.

Chandrika Kumaratunga then appointed her mother Mrs. Bandaranaike, as prime minister for the third time. As the constitution had changed since her last tenure as prime minister Mrs. Bandaranaike was now subordinate to her daughter, the President.

Political observers said that Mrs. Bandaranaike and her daughter Chandrika Kumaratunga did not have a good rapport, and that her daughter wanted her mother to leave the office to make way for a younger person.

Mrs Sirimavo Bandaranaike remained in office till a few months before her death, but had little real power. She reluctantly gave up the reins of power on 10 August 2000. Exasperated she said, “I believe it is time for me to quietly withdraw from the humdrum of busy political life, to a more tranquil and quiet environment”

Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike died on Election Day, October 10, 2000, after having cast her vote for the last time. She was 84.

“May Madam Sirimavo Bandaranaike, Sri Lanka’s charismatic matriarch, attain Eternal Bliss.” – Mahinda Rajapakse, President of Sri Lanka, in a  tribute on her 88th Birth Anniversary commemoration  (April 17, 2004).

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Fractions used by Ancient Tamils


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Myself .

By T. V. Antony Raj
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In our conversations, we, Tamils, use words denoting fractions very frequently without batting an eyelid.

A Tamil goldsmith will assure his client, “இம்மி அளவேனும் குறையாது (immi alavaenum kurayathu) meaning “not a fraction less”. Here, the word இம்மி (immi) is the Tamil word for the fraction 1/2150400 ≈ 4.6502976190476190476190476190476e-07.

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The word “aNu“, meaning “Atom”, is used very frequently by the Tamils to denote very minute portions or particles. In ayurvedic and sidda medicines the naattu vaithiyar (the country doctor) might give instructions to his assistant to add “அணு அளவு பாதரசம்” (aNu alavu padharasam) meaning “an atom sized mercury”. Here the word அணு (aNu) is the Tamil word for the fraction 1/165580800 ≈ 6.0393475572047000618429189857761e-09.

Now, I wonder why the ancient Tamils had such names for these particular fractions. The smallest fraction to be named being தேர்த்துகள் (thaertthugal) which is

1/2323824530227200000000  ≈ 4.3032508995084501477534881372607e-22

I am not able to fathom the underlying reason for the ancient Tamils to use such minute fractions and name them too. I read somewhere that the only place where such minute fractions are used nowadays is in NASA but I am not sure.

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Here is the list that I gathered of fractions used by the ancient Tamils:

1 – ஒன்று – onRu
3/4 = 0.75 – முக்கால் – mukkaal
1/2= 0.5 – அரை – arai
1/4 = 0.25 – கால் – kaal
1/5 = 0.2 – நாலுமா – naalumaa
3/16 = 0.1875 – மும்மாகாணி – mummaakaani
3/20 = 0.15 – மும்மா – mummaa
1/8 = 0.125 – அரைக்கால் – araikkaal
1/10 = 0.1 – இருமா – irumaa
1/16 = 0.0625 – மாகாணி (வீசம்) – maakaaNi (veesam)
1/20 = 0.05 – ஒருமா – orumaa
3/64 = 0.046875 – முக்கால்வீசம் – mukkaal veesam
3/80 = 0.0375 – முக்காணி – mukkaaNi
1/32 = 0.03125 – அரைவீசம் – araiveesam
1/40 = 0.025 – அரைமா – araimaa
1/64 = 0.015625 – கால் வீசம் – kaal veesam
1/80 = 0.0125 – காணி – kaaNi
3/320 = 0.009375 – அரைக்காணி முந்திரி – araikkaaNi munthiri
1/160 = 0.00625 – அரைக்காணி – araikkaaNi
1/320 = 0.003125 – முந்திரி – munthiri
3/1280 = 0.00234375 – கீழ் முக்கால் – keel mukkal
1/640 = 0.0015625 – கீழரை – keelArai
1/1280 = 7.8125e-04 – கீழ் கால் – keel kaal
1/1600 = 0.000625 – கீழ் நாலுமா – keel nalumaa
3/5120 ≈ 5.85938e-04 – கீழ் மூன்று வீசம் – keel moondru veesam
3/6400 = 4.6875e-04 – கீழ் மும்மா – keel mummaa
1/2500 = 0.0004 – கீழ் அரைக்கால் – keel araikkaal
1/3200 = 3.12500e-04 – கீழ் இருமா – keel irumaa
1/5120 ≈ 1.95313e-04 – கீழ் வீசம் – keel veesam
1/6400 = 1.56250e-04 – கீழொருமா – keelorumaa
1/102400 ≈ 9.76563e-06 – கீழ்முந்திரி – keezh munthiri
1/2150400 ≈ 4.65030e-07 – இம்மி – immi
1/23654400 ≈ 4.22754e-08 – மும்மி – mummi
1/165580800 ≈ 6.03935e-09 – அணு – aNu
1/1490227200 ≈ 6.71039e-10 – குணம் – kuNam
1/7451136000 ≈ 1.34208e-10 – பந்தம் – pantham
1/44706816000 ≈ 2.23680e-11 – பாகம் – paagam
1/312947712000 ≈ 3.19542e-12 – விந்தம் – vintham
1/5320111104000 ≈ 1.87966e-13 – நாகவிந்தம் – naagavintham
1/74481555456000 ≈ 1.34261e-14 – சிந்தை – sinthai
1/1489631109120000 ≈ 6.71307e-16 – கதிர்முனை – kathirmunai
1/59585244364800000 ≈ 1.67827e-17 – குரல்வளைப்படி – kuralvaLaippidi
1/3575114661888000000 ≈ 2.79711e-19 -வெள்ளம் – veLLam
1/357511466188800000000 ≈ 2.79711e-21 – நுண்மணல் – nuNNmaNal
1/2323824530227200000000 ≈ 4.30325e-22 – தேர்த்துகள் – thaertthugal

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Did Decimal Numerals originate from Tamil Numerals?


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj
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Recently I saw this picture in Facebook posted by Mr. Lenin Pugal. I think he must have downloaded it from a Tamil website (www.natpu.in) because the watermark says so.

However, being a Tamil, this picture impressed me very much.

According to this post, the decimal numeral system that we use had been derived from the Tamil numerals. The heading says,

Eyes of arithmetic! Tamil numerals!

  • In the first column we see the Tamil numerals.
  • In the second column certain portions of the Tamil numerals are erased, indicated in red.
  • The third column is the resulting decimal numbers.

Isn’t this an eye opener?

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Eradicator of Polio – Dr. Jonas Salk


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Myself 

By T.V. Antony Raj

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Polio Egyptian Stele
Polio Egyptian Stele

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The effects of polio have been known since ancient times. Egyptian paintings and carvings depict afflicted people with withered limbs, and children walking with canes to support. The photo on the right is that of an Egyptian 18th Dynasty (1403–1365 BC) stele thought to represent a polio victim.

At the turn of the twentieth century, small, localized paralytic polio epidemics began to appear in the United States and Europe. During the first half of the twentieth century, polio epidemic outbreaks reached pandemic proportions in North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.

Prior to the 20th century, polio infections, in most cases afflicted children six months to four years of age. It was rarely seen in infants before six months of age. Around 1950’s the peak age incidence of polio in the United States shifted from infants to children aged five to nine years; and almost one-third of the cases reported were in persons over 15 years of age. Hence, the rate of paralysis and death due to polio infection also increased during this time. In 1952, the United States, saw the worst outbreak of the polio epidemic in the nation’s history. Around 58,000 cases were reported that year out of which more than three thousand died, mostly children, and more than twenty thousand were afflicted with mild to disabling paralysis of the limbs.

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Dr. Jonas Salk
Dr. Jonas Salk

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In early 1950s, this scourge brought fear into the hearts of everyone, especially the parents of young and teenage children, as it was very well publicized with extensive media coverage of any scientific advancement that might lead to a cure. Thus, the scientists and researchers working on polio became some of the most famous of the century.

This burden of fear was lifted forever when an American dedicated researcher and virologist, Dr. Jonas Salk made the “impossible possible” by developing a vaccine to fight polio. Dr. Salk became world-famous overnight, but his discovery was the result of many years of painstaking research.

Jonas Edward Salk was born on October 28, 1914 in New York City to parents from Ashkenazi Jewish Russian immigrant families. Although his parents themselves did not have much formal education, they were determined to see their children study and succeed.

Salk had an immense passion for science. It was because of this that he finally chose medicine over law as his career goal. During his years at the New York University School of Medicine he stood out from his peers, according to Bookchin, “not just because of his continued academic prowess—he was Alpha Omega Alpha, the Phi Beta Kappa Society of medical education—but because he had decided he did not want to practice medicine.”

After obtaining his M.D. degree at the New York University School of Medicine in 1939, he worked as a staff physician at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Later, he joined  the University of Michigan as a research fellow. There,  at the behest of the U.S. Army, he developed a vaccine for influenza. In 1947, he joined the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine as director of the Virus Research Laboratory.

Jonas Edward Salk (Photo courtesy of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies)

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While developing the influenza vaccine, he had observed that protection could be established using noninfectious, inactivated (killed) viruses. So, in Pittsburgh Salk developed the techniques that would lead to his polio vaccine. Vaccines against smallpox and rabies were induced by infecting by a living virus, but Salk thought otherwise – he conceived the idea that protective immunity could be induced, without infection by a living virus.

Basil O’Connor, president of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, showed interest in Salk’s research. His organization decided to fund Salk’s research to develop a killed virus vaccine against paralytic poliomyelitis.

The vaccines developed by Sak’s team were tested first by injecting monkeys and then on patients who already had polio. Next, in order to test the vaccine on people who had not had polio, Salk injected himself, then his wife, his three sons, his laboratory staff, and volunteers. All of them developed anti-polio antibodies without encountering any bad reactions to the vaccine.

Finally, national testing of the polio vaccine began in 1954. One million children, ages six to nine, who became known as the ‘Polio Pioneers’ were injected: half of them were given the vaccine, while the other half received a placebo.

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On April 12, 1955, Dr. Thomas Francis, Jr., of the University of Michigan, the monitor of the test results declared that vaccine to be safe and effective. When news of the vaccine’s success was made public on April 12, 1955, Salk was hailed as a “miracle worker”, and the day almost became a national holiday.

The average number of polio cases in the US was more than 45,000 in the two years before the vaccine was made widely available. In 1962, that number had dropped to 910.

Dr. Jonas Salk never patented the vaccine, nor did he earn any money from his discovery. He preferred to see it distributed as widely as possible. When the late television personality Ed Murrow asked him, “Who owns this patent?”, Salk replied, “No one. Could you patent the sun?”

This great humanitarian researcher died in June 23, 1995.

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By 1988, polio had disappeared from the US, UK, Australia and much of Europe and South America, but remained prevalent in more than 125 countries. The same year, the World Health Assembly adopted a resolution to eradicate the disease completely by the year 2000. 

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The WHO Americas region was certified polio free in 1994, with the last wild case recorded in the Western Pacific region (which includes China) in 1997. A further landmark came in 2002 when the WHO certified the European region polio-free.

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In 2012, Polio remains officially endemic in four countries – Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan, and India. Despite so much progress, polio remains a risk with virus from Pakistan re-infecting China in 2011, which had been polio-free for more than a decade.  India is on the verge of being removed from the list having not had a case since January 2011.

Klok beats the clock


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj
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If you are asked to perform 10 illusions within a span of 5 minutes can you take on the challenge? The handsome Dutch illusionist Hans Klok beat the clock by performing his fastest illusions in 5 minutes – faster than he ever did.

Dutch illusionist and actor Johannes Franciscus Catharinus “Hans” Klok was born in Purmerend, Netherlands on 22 February 1969. He began his career in magic as a teenager. By the time he was sixteen he had won awards in several international competitions. At the age 23, he was part of a touring show along with famous Dutch comedian André van Duin.

His debut in USA was in 1994, when he performed for the first time on the Las Vegas Strip, as part of NBC’s “The World’s Greatest Magic.” This was broadcast live from Caesars Palace to an audience of over 60 million people.

He then toured Europe and China for 10 years and appeared in Las Vegas once more.

During the opening ceremony of the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, he enthralled around 500 million football fans in 152 countries, by making the 18-carat gold World Trophy appear out of thin air in a glass cage.

In 2012 he broke his own world record for the most illusions done in 5 minutes on the BBC show, “The Magicians.”

Hans Klok has also acted in films and TV:

2002 – Le plus grand cabaret du monde (TV series) in Episode dated 14 December 2002.

2003 – De D van dag (short drama – 22 mins)

2004 – Sinterklaas en het geheim van de Robijn (adventure, family film 115 mins) in whcih Hans Klok appeared as Bisschop van Zwitserland.

2007 – The 2007 World Magic Awards (family, fantasy TV movie 120 mins). Roger Moore appears as himself at the host of the show. The Hans Klok and Pamela Anderson team was fun to watch as well as the other performers.

2009 – De Dik Voormekaar show (comedy TV series). In Episode #1.10, Meneer De Bok hopes Klok will make his wife disappear.

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Coriander Leaves and Kidneys


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Myself . 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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Kidney2

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The pair of bean-shaped kidneys, each about the size of a fist, are vital organs in our body located, one on each side of the spine, near the middle of our back, just below the rib cage. The kidneys perform many functions to keep our blood clean and chemically balanced.

Our body uses food for energy and maintenance. Wastes in the blood come from food that we consume and from the normal breakdown of active tissues, such as muscles. Every day, a person’s kidneys process about 200 quarts of blood and filter out about 2 quarts of waste products and remove excess water. The wastes and excess water flow to the bladder through two tubes called ureters as urine. The bladder stores urine until releasing it through urination.

Coriander (Coriandrum sativum), also called cilantro, koththamalli (in Tamil),  or dhania (in Hindi) is an annual herb in the family Apiaceae. In the English-speaking world (except for the U.S.) the leaves and seeds are known as coriander. In American culinary usage, the leaves are generally referred to by the Spanish word cilantro.

Coriander is an excellent source of minerals like calcium, potassium, manganese, iron, and magnesium. It is also rich in many vital vitamins essential for optimum health including vitamin-A, beta carotene, vitamin-C and folic acid. By the way, vitamin-C is a powerful natural antioxidant.

A study found both the coriander leaves and seed act as antioxidants, however, the leaves were found to have a stronger effect. Hence, Coriander like many other spices can delay or prevent spoilage of food seasoned with this spice. Chemicals derived from coriander leaves were found to have antibacterial activity against Salmonella choleraesuis, caused in part by these chemicals acting as nonionic surfactants.

Coriander seeds are used in traditional Indian medicine as a diuretic (a substance or drug that tends to increase the discharge of urine) by boiling equal amounts of coriander seeds and cumin seeds, then cooling and consuming the resulting liquid.

The powerful anti-inflammatory capacities of coriander can help one deal with symptoms of arthritis. Coriander also increases HDL cholesterol (the good) and reduces LDL cholesterol (the bad).

Cholesterol – the good and the bad

Cholesterol is not all bad. It is an essential fat. In fact, it provides stability in every cell of our body. The liver makes some cholesterol and some come from diet. Cholesterol cannot dissolve in blood, so transport proteins called lipoproteins carry it to locations where it needs to go.

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol 

The low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol particles are less dense than other kinds of cholesterol particles. Each microscopic blob of LDL cholesterol consists of an outer rim of lipoprotein surrounding a cholesterol centre.

What Makes LDL Cholesterol Bad? It is just its chemical makeup. Here’s how high amounts of LDL cholesterol leads to plaque growth and atherosclerosis.

  • Some LDL cholesterol circulating through the bloodstream tends to deposit in the walls of arteries. This process starts as early as childhood or adolescence.
  • White blood cells swallow and try to digest the LDL, possibly in an attempt to protect the blood vessels. In the process, the white blood cells convert the LDL to a toxic (oxidized) form.
  • More white blood cells and other cells migrate to the area, creating steady low-grade inflammation in the artery wall.
  • Over time, more LDL cholesterol and cells collect in the area. The ongoing process creates a bump in the artery wall called a plaque – made of cholesterol, cells, and debris.
  • The process tends to continue, growing the plaque and slowly blocking the artery.

An even greater danger than slow blockage is a sudden rupture of the surface of the plaque. A blood clot can form on the ruptured area, causing a heart attack.

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol

The High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol particle is dense compared to other types of cholesterol particles. Each microscopic blob of HDL cholesterol consists of a rim of lipoprotein surrounding a cholesterol centre.

The well-behaved HDL cholesterol is a friendly scavenger that cruises the bloodstream. It removes harmful bad cholesterol from where it doesn’t belong. High HDL levels reduce the risk for heart disease — but low LDL levels increase the risk.

Experts believe HDL cholesterol may act in a variety of helpful ways that tend to reduce the risk for heart disease:

  • HDL cholesterol scavengers and removes LDL cholesterol.
  • HDL reduces, reuses, and recycles LDL cholesterol by transporting it to the liver where it is reprocessed.
  • HDL cholesterol acts as a maintenance crew for the inner walls of blood vessels (endothelium). Damage to the endothelium is the first step in the process of atherosclerosis, which causes heart attacks and strokes. HDL chemically scrubs the endothelium clean and keeps it healthy.

Coriander leaves offer great relief from stomach indigestion problems and the like. It also helps reduce feelings of nausea. Since it has strong antioxidant properties, it helps promote healthy liver function.

A friend suggested that consuming an infusion of Coriander leaves is a good remedy for kidney pain. This is the instruction my friend gave me to prepare a decoction using coriander leaves:

“Wash and clean a bunch of fresh coriander leaves thoroughly in water to remove the dirt and any residual harmful pesticides that might be sticking on them. Chop the leaves as small as possible. Put the chopped leaves in a vessel, pour filtered water and boil for 10 minutes. Filter after cooling using a sieve. Pour the filtered liquid into a sterilized glass bottle and store it in a refrigerator.”

She said: “Drink one glass of the liquid daily and you will notice all salt and other accumulated poison coming out of your system while passing urine. Also, you will notice that you feel healthier than before.

By the way, coriander can produce an allergic reaction in some people. So, please consult your physician before consuming the coriander decoction.

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Grotto Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes – Emmitsburg, Maryland


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Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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Above the lovely valley of Emmitsburg, Frederick County, Maryland, just 12 miles south of Gettysburg, situated high on the mountainside, where nature displays itself in all its picturesque and wild glory sits the wondrous National Shrine Grotto of Lourdes – a shrine which traces its lineage to the very beginnings of the spread of Catholicism in America.

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Saint Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton, Foundress of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph's (1774-1821) (Source: dailygospel.org)
Saint Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton, Foundress of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph’s (1774-1821) (Source: dailygospel.org)

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Incredibly linked with Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first native-born American to be canonized by the Catholic Church, the Shrine is one of the oldest known American replica of the revered French shrine, dating to about 1875, two decades after the apparitions at Lourdes (1858), although the site had already been in use since 1805, when Father John Dubois founded it as a place of prayer and devotion.

This holy mountain sanctuary of historic importance to the Catholics of America has been devoutly tended throughout the years and attracts thousands of pilgrims from all parts of the world for prayer and meditation.

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My wife Assuntha and I along with my son Subas, daughter-in-law Maria Ligia, grandson Rohan and my grandson’s godfather Joe Napoleon visited this holy shrine on Saturday 11 February 2012. It was snowing that day, nevertheless, we thank the Almighty for leading us to Emmitsburg, where Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first American saint had trod a long time ago on the feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes.

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The Story of Our Lady’s Grotto

In the year 1728, a group of Catholics left St. Mary’s City on the St. Mary’s River, in Maryland, and travelled westward seeking peace and religious freedom. These Catholics were children and grandchildren of the early colonists of Maryland.

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Among the refugees of 1728, were the members of the William Elder family, forebears of Archbishop Elder of Cincinnati. They travelled to the west almost one hundred miles to the Blue Ridge Mountains, located in the eastern United States, starting at its southern-most portion in Georgia, then ending northward in Pennsylvania. They stopped at the first range of the Blue Ridge Mountains, giving the loved name, “St. Mary’s Mount” to its eastern prominence.

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Finding rest in a peaceful valley of “surpassing beauty,” which they called “St. Joseph’s Valley,” they took the land and built their homes. Here they were cared for spiritually through the years by missionary priests forced to travel in disguise because of the penal laws against Catholics prevailing during that time.

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The Elder farmhouse became known as “Elder’s Station.” Here Mass was celebrated and the dead were buried in the adjoining cemetery.

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Father John Dubois and the Grotto

In 1805, after the Revolution and the constitutional grant of religious freedom, Father John Dubois, a refugee priest from France, came to this area and settled. This priest, who later became Bishop of New York, was, in the year 1794, appointed pastor of Frederick by Bishop Carroll. His pastorate included all of western Maryland and western Virginia. Of all the lovely places he visited in this wild and mountainous country, he came to love most the Mountain of Mary and the Valley of St. Joseph.

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In 1805, on St. Mary’s Mount, Father John Dubois built St. Mary’s Church at the site of the present Grotto parking lot.

For over a century, this church was a beacon calling the faithful to Mass from the Valley and a reminder to them to keep the Faith. Numerous paths, traceable up to this day and all converging on the church, show with what fidelity the Catholics practised their faith.

To this very day the people of the Valley, now members of St. Anthony’s parish, exhibit a strong, living and very simple faith. Families have lived here for many generations. Very few move away. They are a happy people with a proud awareness of their ancient Catholic heritage. After all, very few parishes in these United States can claim that they have had uninterrupted priestly service for 235 years. Very few Americans can say that their forebears were taught by holy people. They are the spiritual children of Saint Mother Seton.

On the lower terraces, Father Dubois began the first building of Mount Saint Mary’s College and Seminary in 1808.

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Father Simon Gabriel Bruté

One of the holy founders of the Grotto, Father Simon Gabriel Bruté came to the Mountain in 1812. This remarkable priest, later first Bishop of Vincennes, Indiana, combined in his person the talents and attainments of a scholar, theologian, master of the spiritual life, teacher, and pastor of souls.

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Father Simon Gabriel Bruté

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This spiritual enthusiast reveled in the beauty of the Mountain of Mary and the Valley of St. Joseph. Father Bruté brought to the Mountain and the Valley a program of holy activity.

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Remembering the orderly, cultivated hills of his native France, Father Bruté strove to “smooth the frown from nature’s erring face.” Springs were cleaned out, covered and named for saints; terraces and paths found their way up the rugged Mountainside to the. church and Grotto. They were constructed so well that we walk along them today and the stone walls remain. He attached crosses to the trees on the path between the church and the Grotto so that one might make the Stations of the Cross along this beautiful woodland avenue.

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On the left side of the Grotto parking lot. several hundred yards back in the mountains, behind the site of Father John Dubois’ church, is the famous Grotto, the most ancient shrine consecrated to Mary, the mother of God, in continuous existence in the original thirteen colonies, on which was begun in 1875 the first Lourdes Grotto in America.

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 “Aisle of the Corpus Christi Procession.”

A memorable devotion centered about the old Grotto was the annual Corpus Christi procession.

It was during Father John Baptist Purcell’s (later Archbishop of Cincinnati, Ohio) term as president of the college (1829-1833) that these annual processions at the Grotto over Father Bruté’s paths began, or at least began to be chronicled, and another charm was added to the Mountain.

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The lovely road lying between the site of the old church and the Grotto is still called the “Aisle of the Corpus Christi Procession.”

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Corpus Christi Chapel

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This stone chapel was built in 1906 on the site of the original Grotto discovered by Father John DuBois in 1805.

There is a legend that Father John Dubois, on one of his pastoral journeys, was attracted by a light on the mountain and found this spot, one of the loveliest in the world.

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Those of a more practical mind may surmise that Father John Dubois was seeking the source of the stream which flowed out of the ravine into the valley below.  Just what did the priest find on his day of discovery?

He climbed a steep ascent through a rocky ravine along a tumbling torrent, which was much broader and more unruly than at present, for its volume has lessened since the trees were cut down on the mountain. He came upon a lovely clearing, a masterpiece of natural beauty. Sharply sloping hills from almost every side formed a natural amphitheater where nature “displayed itself in all its wild and picturesque beauty.” In the center of this clearing, where now the stone chapel stands, he saw a mound, shaded by the branches of an ancient oak. Such huge oak trees are seen even to this day on the mountain, survivors of the woodsmen’s devastation.

In any event, Father John Dubois found the Grotto-site, a dell of breath-taking beauty, and there erected a rude cross.

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Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton and the Grotto

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Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first Superior of the Sisters of Charity, dedicated to serving the poor, was the next holy person to love the Grotto. She came in the year 1809 to the Mountain where, before moving to the Valley, she and her little band of pioneer sisters lived for six weeks near the Church and the Grotto. Here her sister-in-law Harriet received the gift of Faith. And, after Mother Seton moved to the Valley, the Grotto was to her the most loved spot on the mountain. It is possible that Mother Seton first called it the Grotto, for we find this reference in one of her letters, dated May 27, 1810:

“If you could breathe our mountain air and taste the repose of the deep woods and streams. Yesterday we all, about twenty children and sisters, dined in our grotto on the mountain, where we go Sundays for the divine office.”

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Rosetta Landry White, called Mother Rose, who succeeded Mother Seton gives further details of this holy association with the Grotto:

About this time we walked to the Mountain Church every Sunday to sing at High Mass and assist at the sermon; there was no bridge over the creek in our way, therefore, when the water was high, we had to cross one by one on horseback; and when low, we passed over on the stones; as there was no clear road to the Mountain we often lost our way in the woods. We carried our dinner in a basket and frequently cooked our meat at the mountain; taking it from the frying-pan to place it on a piece of bread without a knife or fork, and ate it standing, as the Israelites of old ate the Pascal Lamb. We would then quench our thirst at a neighboring spring and ramble for a time around the Grotto, a wild and picturesque spot some distance from the Church, furnished with seats, covered with vines, wild flowers in luxuriance around it and a gentle rivulet flowing from the rock above. We thus amused ourselves until time for Vespers and Benediction after which we returned to our Home in the Valley. This was all pleasant enough in summer, although we had no umbrellas to protect us from the heat of the sun or the showers that sometimes surprised us. On coming to the creek in the rain, we would find there a horse sent from the Mountain by Father Du Bois, to take us across; the eldest Sister would remain standing in the rain by the old oak tree until we all has safely passed over; then taking her turn, she would sometimes continue her ride to the farm-house door. Our shoes would be heavy with mud and our clothes so wet that we would be obliged to change. We continue this Sunday journey to the Mountain.” – Mother Rose White’s Journal 1809.

The eldest Sister, mentioned by Mother Rose must definitely be Mother Seton.

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The first statue of Our Lady was placed in the Grotto in Mother Seton’s time. Truly Mother Seton loved this Grotto. It entered into her daily thoughts, conversations, and writings. In a letter to Father Brute, she prayed for “one only heart, clear for my thoughts as the stream of your Grotto.”

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Esther Vergeer – the world’s greatest Wheelchair Tennis player


Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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Esther Vergeer - 2012 Australian Open - Day 13

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Esther Vergeer born on July 18, 1981 in Woerden, Netherlands is the greatest wheelchair tennis player of all time. Since 2003, she has won every singles match she has played – around 444 matches in the last nine years.

In 1999, at the age of 18, Esther became world number one. She is now 30, and she still plays on. Between 2004 and 2006, she never lost a set – winning 250 in a row. During her career, Esther has won 39 Grand Slam titles – 20 singles and 19 doubles, as well as five Paralympics and 22 year-end championship titles.

Esther has been nominated six times including 2012 as Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability. She won this prestigious Award twice – in 2002 and 2008.

Esther Vergeer - US Open 2007

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Esther Vergeer was paralyzed from the waist down in 1990 at the age of eight after undergoing surgery for a spinal defect and brain haemorrhage. Part of her rehabilitation programme involved playing sports, and she found she had an aptitude for wheelchair tennis and basketball, eventually choosing to concentrate on tennis from the time she was 17. She says that she no longer sees herself as disabled.

“At the beginning, I didn’t realize I’d be paralyzed the rest of my life. I was little and in pain and in hospital and all those things together made me think that when I got home and I didn’t have pain any more, I would be able to walk again,” she told Marianne Bevis of The Sport Review.

“But when I got back home, had to go back to school, play with my friends, it dawned on me it would be the rest of my life.

“In the beginning it’s hard, of course, everything I did I compared with before: It was easier when I could walk, it was more fun when I could walk, so it was difficult.

“I guess sports, and the people around me, made me realize that the world doesn’t end. Now I can do all the things that other 30-year-olds do so I don’t see myself as a disabled.

“I love this game more than anybody. It’s a lot of sacrifice, it’s a lot of effort, but I do enjoy that.

“My main motivation is the inner game: I just love the sport, I love the training, but then also the way I see that I can improve in so many aspects still.

“Then there’s the motivation of the Olympics: You have to set certain goals, and this year for sure I’ve set my goal – my mind – on the Olympics.”

Away from the court, Esther with her own charitable foundation continues to work tirelessly to encourage a new generation of athletes by organizing wheelchair sports clinics. She also continues to work closely with the Johan Cruyff Foundation and the Dutch National Paralympic Committee and is also a member of the Laureus Friends & Ambassadors programme.

I have posted below some images of Esther Vergeer – the world’s greatest Wheelchair Tennis player.

Esther Vergeer attends the Laureus Sports Awards at the Palau Sant Jordi on April 2, 2007 in Barcelona, Spain.


Esther Vergeer after winning Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability award in 2008.

Esther Vergeer poses with the championship trophy after winning her women’s wheelchair final match against Korie Homan of the Netherlands during day thirteen of the 2009 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 31, 2009 in Melbourne, Australia.

Esther Vergeer and Rafael Nadal of Spain pose for a photo during day two of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament at the Ahoy Centre Rotterdam on February 10, 2009 in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Esther Vergeer poses with her award at the ITF World Champions Gala on day ten of the French Open on June 1, 2010 in Paris, France.

Esther Vergeer  with her trophy celebrates after she defeated Daniela Di Toro of Australia in her women’s wheelchair singles final during day fourteen of the 2010 U.S. Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 12, 2010 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.

Esther Vergeer poses with the Women’s Wheelchair Roll of Honour Award during the ITF World Champions Dinner at Pavillion D’Armenonville on May 31, 2011 in Paris, France.

Esther Vergeer celebrates with the championship trophy after defeating Aniek Van Koot of the Netherlands in the Wheelchair Women’s Singles Final during Day Fourteen of the 2011 U.S. Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 11, 2011 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.

Esther Vergeer (L) poses with the winners trophy after defeating Aniek Van Koot (R) of the Netherlands in their Women’s Wheelchair singles final match during day thirteen of the 2012 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 28, 2012 in Melbourne, Australia.

Esther Vergeer poses in the Winners Studio during the 2012 Laureus World Sports Awards at Central Hall Westminster on February 6, 2012 in London, England.

Navels of Adam and Eve by Modern Painters


Myself  

By T.V. Antony Raj
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Fascinated by the Navels of Adam and Eve, I Googled for paintings of Adam and Eve done by modern day painters. I came across seven paintings of Adam and Eve with navels.

 

Adam-and-Eve-Kees-van-Dongen-1877-1968.jpg

Adam and Eve by the Dutch painter Kees van Dongen (1877-1968) who gained a reputation for his sensuous, at times garish, portraits.

Adam-and-Eve-by-Karoly-Patk-1920-305x340.jpg

 

This painting of Adam and Eve by Karoly Patkó (1895 – 1941) is an example of 1920s neoclassicism.

Karoly Patkó was a twentieth-century Hungarian painter and copper engraver, noted for his nude paintings in a plastic presentation.

Adam-and-Eve-Robert-Lohman-1919-2001-298x340.jpg

This is a lithograph done by Robert Lohman (1919-2001), an American artist from Indiana.

Lohman was an Art Educator, Teacher, and Lecturer well-known for his sculptures, medals, and oil paintings.

Adam-and-Eve-V.O.M.-Petrillo-in-1996-340x252.jpg

The Beginning of Life” created in 1996 by the artist Prof. V.O.M. Petrillo (1932-2001).

Collectors of his artwork have deeply admired his artistic genius and his expressive uniqueness.

Adam-and-Eve-Vladimi-Zunuzin-present-day-340x194_thumb.jpg

This painting of Adam and Eve by the Russian painter Vladimi Zunuzin, a prolific painter. He was born in 1950 and participated in many Russian, regional and international exhibitions.

Works of Vladimi Zunuzin are being kept by the Regional Arts museum in Ulyanovsk, and private collections in USA, France, Italy, Germany, Canada and other countries. Vladimir Zunuzin is a member of Russia Painters Union. He has more than 1000 works to his credit.

Adam-and-Eve-by-Maia-Ramishvili-born-1969-340x272.jpg

Adam and Eve by Maia Ramishvili, born in 1969 in Tbilisi, capital of Republic of Georgia.

Maia’s talent for art was discovered at an early age. She went to two very prestigious art school. She studied at Nikoladze School of Art from 1984 and graduated in 1988.

Adam and Eve - Nataly Kuzmina (232x340)

Adam and Eve by Nataly Kuzmina of Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Natalywas educated in a variety of artistic styles including Old Russian Icon painting, Realism, Impressionism and the Avant-Garde.

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