Indic Stories

An Introduction to Chai

An Introduction to Chai

Pic Courtesy: Chaayos

Chai is synonymous with the Indic way of life. The history of how Chai (Indian tea) has become an integral part of Indian lifestyle is very interesting.

How did tea come to India?

 Tea was introduced formally to Indians by the British and tea plantation in India was initially meant to produce tea for foreign consumers. When the popularity of tea consumption in Britain increased around the turn of the 20th century, the English traders were cautious of having to depend upon China as a sole supplier. They started looking for alternative supply sources. So British East India Company (BEIC) started producing tea within the British colonies, including India to have their very own tea source. Tea plantation was first tried out in Assam, were later tested in high-elevation regions of Darjeeling and Kangra. Most of the tea bushes in Darjeeling owe their origin to tea seeds from China imported (some would say ‘smuggled’) out by famous Scot adventurer and botanist Robert Fortune nearly 200 years ago (1851).

The native tea species

In contrary to the history of tea being a foreign crop in India some varieties of tea are native to ancient India. The Singpho tribe, which lives in the areas between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, had been growing tea and using tea only for their medicinal properties, never as a refreshing beverage. The tribe who are believed to be among India’s first tea drinkers has been drinking tea since the 12th century.

Tea Plantation & Indian Tea Workers
Pic Courtesy: Global Network for the Right to Food and Nutrition

Evolution of tea drinking – How tea becomes the “national drink”

In the early 1900’s, the British-owned Indian Tea Association started aggressive campaigns to popularise tea drinking in India more than just a medicinal beverage to nourish the body or quench one’s thirst. They set up humble roadside tea stalls in cities and towns offering teas and connecting people, factories were encouraged to give chai breaks to their workers. Slowly many gourmet stores started selling and serving fine Indian tea tying families and communities of Indian Society together.  In this way Chai which was introduced as an instrument of leadership control of the British has become an essential part of most of the Indian households.  We export the tea to our former colonisers!

Styles of Tea Drinking Across India Pic Courtesy: Chai Shai, AtlasMedia Ltd. (EU), AtlasMedia Ltd. (EU), Maciej Dakowicz,

The country is now home to three world-famous tea-growing regions: Assam, Darjeeling, and Nilgiris. India remains one of the largest tea-growing nations and the largest consumer of tea in the world.

Variety of Chai

In India Chai is a simmered infusion of tea and milk. You can often find spices and condiments such as cardamom and ginger in what is popularly known as Masala Chai. Bombay Cutting Chai (served by the half-glass), Kashmiri Kahwa, Tulsi Chai.

Darjeeling Tea
Pic Courtesy: Tea and Me Blog 

Brewing technique

Step 1: Heat water to the desired temperature. Ensure the water isn’t boiling as very high temperatures can easily destroy the delicate notes in the tea. Place the tea leaves in an infuser.

Step 2: Pour hot water over the tea leaves until they are submerged.

Step 3: Let it steep for the recommended time. Take care not to over-steep.

Step 4: Remove the tea leaves. Pour the infusion into a cup and enjoy.

Posted by Meghadipa Roy Chowdury in Indic Stories, 0 comments
Ravana – A Multidimensional Character- Posing A Real Challenge

Ravana – A Multidimensional Character- Posing A Real Challenge

Pic Courtesy: Beyonder Travel

Ravana, one of the most powerful beings ever to roam the earth is also known as the supreme anti-hero in Ramayana- one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India. Ravana is a multidimensional character projecting both his vices and his academic prowess in equal measure.

He was the king of Rakshasas –  the demon king of Lanka and is depicted with 10 heads and 20 arms, giving him the name of “Dasamukha” (10 faced) or “Dasagriva” (10 headed). He was born to Sage Vishravan and Asura mother Kaikashi. 

Raavana was a great warrior as well as a learned scholar. Ravana’s 10 heads symbolise the 6 Shastras and 4 Vedas, making him a great scholar and the most intelligent person of his time. He was a master of 64 types of Knowledge and all arts of Weaponry.

Ravana-Master of Science

He was well versed with Ayurveda. Ravana was a great Aryuvedic physician and Vaidya Shiromani. He wrote valuable books on ayurveda. Ravan was an extraordinary Veena player.

Ravana Mask made by Chhau Mask Making artisans of West Bengal

Ravana-A scholar of Vedas

A highly learned Brahmin, He is known to have compiled Sama Veda with the relevant musical svaras (notes) and his Shiva Tandava Stotra is yet the most popular hymn ever sung in praise of Lord Shiva. His ten heads thus stood for this multiplicity of his genius. 

Significance of Ravana’s Ten Heads

In congruence with the duality of existence, Ravana’s 10 heads also symbolise the 10 emotions or senses in man: Kama (lust), Krodha (anger), Moha (delusion), Lobha (greed), Mada (pride), Maatsyasya (envy), Manas (mind), Buddhi (intellect), Chitta (will) and Ahamkara ( the ego). 

Folklore of Ravana & Ravana Dahan

The Ramayana and the folklore of Ravana has had a profound impact on art and culture in the Indian subcontinent. Indians follows ‘Ravana Dahan‘, a ritual of burning effigies of demon king Ravana with fireworks, symbolizing evil’s destruction. ‘Ravana Dahan‘ commemorates the day when Lord Rama killed Ravana, as written in the epic.

Ravana Dahan on Dussehra Pic Courtesy: Patrika

Ravana Dart Boart- Inspired by the folklore of Ravana

Inspired by the folklore of Ravana, Indic Inspirations brings you a dart board with the 10 faces! Use the dart board to AIM for the GOOD – knowledge of the Shastras, Vedas or as symbols of modern day knowledge OR aim to get rid of any of your VICES and limitations such as Anger, Greed and Envy. Thats the duality that symbolised Ravana’s TEN Heads! Aim for Ravana’s navel, his nemesis – your BULL’S EYE! 

Use this eco-friendly method to celebrate Ramlila, aim at this reusable board instead of burning Ravana’s effigy on Dusherra day!! Made from eco-friendly cork material this dart board will keep you and your family and friends entertained with a sport and a story.

SHOP THE RAVANA DART BOARD HERE. Enjoy the game with friends and family or with your kids as you relive your childhood and discuss the story of the triumph of good over evil, that you first heard as a child from your grand-parents! The dartboard game includes 6 matching darts and Gaming Instructions. Power to you, to overcome all evils!

Posted by Meghadipa Roy Chowdury in Indic Stories, 0 comments
Rice Culture & Traditional Rice Seed Diversity of India

Rice Culture & Traditional Rice Seed Diversity of India

New Crop Pic Source: Wikipedia

The traditional cuisine of India is as distinct as its culture and people. Rice is the stand out element in this cuisine. In India rice provides daily sustenance for more than 60% of the population. No other crop has been developed to such an extent, to fit hundreds of ecological niches all over the country, from the temperate high hills of the Himalayas to tropical lowland deep water and salt-water marshes of the seacoasts. 

A strong rice culture holds over a vast part of India. The Indus civilization recognized rice cultivation as the basis of social order with strong moral and religious overtones. Rice is an integral part of social rites, rituals and festivals in India. So the whole society, it’s culture and identity is linked to the rice-systems.

Thanksgiving Festivals and Tasting New Rice

Majority of Indian festivals are tied to agricultural cycles.  Every major stage in the traditional rice cycle has become focus of the ritual attention. 

Rice harvest time is occasion of festivity in India. It is celebrated by different names in various states of India such as Paus Utsav in Bengal, Dhanu Sankranti in Orissa, Pongal in Tamilnadu, Huttari in Karnataka, Makar Sankaranti in Andhra Pradesh, Onam in Kerala etc.

In most of the states, it coincides with New Year. The use of newly harvested rice is carefully regulated. In most states, harvest festivals include rice offering to God while in some tribes eating of new rice is a separate ceremony.
Pic Source: Pallav Seth on Flickr

In India rice is often directly associated with prosperity and fertility. The first feed to an infand known as ‘Annaprashan’ makes a child’s first eating of solid food. Even in marriages, rice is used to bless the couple for a life of happiness, health and prosperity.
Pic Source: Soulmate Matrimony

Traditional Rice Seed Diversity

Half a century ago, India was home to more than 100,000 rice varieties with a wide range of diversity in taste/aroma and nutrition etc.

Today, much of this biodiversity is lost, forced out by the quest for high-yield hybrids and varieties.  It is said that now we are left with only about 7000 varieties of rice and numbers continue to dwindle. 

The Koraput region in the state of Odisha in India’s east was historically among the world’s leading areas of rice diversification. In the 1950s, an official survey found farmers here growing more than 1,700 different rice varieties. Now, more than 1,400 farmers in the region are at the heart of a movement to safeguard what remains of this genetic wealth. Heirloom varieties, adapted over centuries to local ecologies, also proved hardier in the face of problems such as pests and drough.
Pic Source: Atlas Obscura

Some farmers of India – the traditional plant breeders- have developed immense varieties in rice through selection processes. We have lost many of the local specific varieties in the process of agriculture transformation to mass production.

The major GI Protected varieties of India are as follows Jeeraphool (Chhattisgarh), Katarni (Bihar), Tulaipanji and Gobindabhog (West Bengal), Joha (Assam), Ambemohar and Ajara Ghansal (Maharashtra), Basmati (Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Uttarkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir), Kalanamak (Uttar Pradesh) Kaipad, Wayanad Jeerakasala, Wayand Gandhakasala, Palakkadan Matta, Pokkali, and Navara (all from Kerala).

Owing to their medicinal properties, many of the Indian rice varieties have been traditionally used in Ayurvada by the traditional healer for generations. Rice has been recognized in the Vedic period for its medicinal properties too. The uses of rice in traditional medicine is closely interwoven with its as a food item.

We need to explore the chances of sustaining rice and rice-culture.

Posted by Meghadipa Roy Chowdury in Indic Stories, 0 comments
World Heritage National Parks & Sanctuaries in India

World Heritage National Parks & Sanctuaries in India

Ranthambore National Park Pic Source: Untravel

Our Country is one of very few countries which has so much varied and rich cultural heritage as well as rich and marvelous landscapes. Some of these are recognized as natural world heritage site. India is gifted with so varieties of land-topography, weather and soil qualities that some of the sites are very rich in bio diversity and wild life

Adventure in visiting these heritage sanctuaries is superb. When you spot a rare animal or bird the thrill is incomparable. Tourists can regain new life blood which was under stress for a long time in city dwelling.
Pic Source:

Those who love adventures can find these forests their paradise. A great variety of flora and fauna makes the tourist spell bound. Also there is great opportunity for scientific research for interested persons. Green canopy overhead full of birds can be paradise for the ornithologists.

Here is a list of what India considers as it’s 7 best Wildlife Sanctuaries listed by UNESCO Natural World Heritage Sites:

  1. Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area, Himachal Pradesh 
  2. Western Ghats, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala
  3. Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks, Uttarakhand
  4. Sundarbans National Park, West Bengal
  5. Kaziranga National Park, Assam
  6. Keoladeo National Park, Rajasthan
  7. Manas Wildlife Sanctuary, Assam

Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area, Himachal Pradesh 

The Great Himalayan National Park has a composite of representative habitats over a huge altitudinal range (1,900 to 6,110 m), with more than 46 peaks over 5,000 m altitude.

One of the richest biodiversity sites in the western Himalayas, the GHNP is home to the elusive and critically endangered western tragopan, along with four other spectacular pheasants, besides the snow leopard and the mighty Himalayan brown bear. A recent study indicated the GHNP offers the best protected habitat for the snow leopard in the context of climate change.

Western Ghats, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala

Western Ghats contains areas of high geological, cultural and aesthetic values and is recognized as one of the world’s eight ‘hottest hotspots’ of biological diversity. It has an exceptionally high level of biological diversity.

The Western Ghats or the Sahyadri Mountain ranges lies along the western coast of Indian Penninsula. The range runs north to south along the western edge of Deccan Plateau. It constitutes sever national parks, reserve forests and wildlife sanctuaries in Kerala, Karntaka, Tmailnadu and Maharashtra.
Pic Source: Wildlife Focus India

One of the richest biodiversity sites in the western Himalayas, the GHNP is home to the elusive and critically endangered western tragopan, along with four other spectacular pheasants, besides the snow leopard and the mighty Himalayan brown bear. A recent study indicated the GHNP offers the best protected habitat for the snow leopard in the context of climate change.

Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks, Uttarakhand

Diversity and unmatched scenic beauty is what makes Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve stand apart in the country.

The Nanda Devi is the highest mountain peak of Uttarakhand and the highest mountain peak of India also because the Kanchenjunga is known to share its border with Nepal. The Vallery of Flowers is a National Park near Nanda Devi peak which stretches up to 8 kms in length and 2 kms in width. It is famous for the astonishing variety of flowers which covers the entire valley like a bed sheet. This World Heritage Sites in India is home to more than 600 species of Flora and over 520 species of fauna.
Pic Source: ValleyOfFlowers

  Sundarbans National Park, West Bengal

The Sunderbans, the world’s largest mangrove expanse, are nothing less than a hub for naturalists and scientists’ a treasure trove for nature and wildlife photographers and a wonderland for tourists from all over the world.

The land of 54 small islands with large mangrove forest and saline mud flats…this Sundarban National Park is reckoned as the home of Royal Bengal Tigers and rare salt water crocodiles. It forms the largest Tiger Reserve and National Park in India. A paradise for birdwatchers Sundarbans is also the world’s largest estuarine forest.
Pic Source: BBC

  Kaziranga National Park, Assam

In the heart of Assam, this park, covering an area of more than 930 sq . kms , a World Heritage Site, was home to two-thirds of the entire one-horn rhino population of the world.

It also had the highest density of tigers compared to all the tiger reserves in the world. Due to the presence of highly diverse and visible species, Kaziranga has been described as a “biodiversity hotspot”.

  Keoladeo National Park, Rajasthan

Situated in Bharatpur, Rajasthan, the Keoladeo National Park, Rajasthan, is called a ‘Bird Haven’.

Also known as Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, this place is home to 366 different species of bird. It is completely Man made and Man- managed wetland/place. It is spread up to 29 square kms. Besides about 370 species of birds there are 379 floral species and 27 mammal species identified in the park, making it a rich wildlife source in India. This place is a reminder of the rich biological heritage of India.

  Manas Wildlife Sanctuary, Assam

Sheltering many of threatened species, Manas Wildlife Sanctuary claims its importance as a Natural World Heritage Site.

The name originated from River Manas which is derived from the name of Godess Manasa. The Wild Life Sanctuary is a Project Tiger Reserve, Elephant Reserve, Biosphere Reserve and a home of number of endangered species like Assam Roofed Turle, Hispid Hare, Golden Langur and Pygmy Pig.
Pic Source: NativePlanet

Posted by Meghadipa Roy Chowdury in Indic Stories, 0 comments