Thai Amavasya 2016 Tharpanam procedure

Monday, the 08 February 2016, is the Thai Amavasya (தை அமாவாசை). In Sanskrit it is called the Makara Maasa Amavasya (மகர மாஸ அமாவாசை). As has become the practice, the Sankalpam for Thai Amavasya 2016 Tharpanam Procedure in Tamil is now online.  Incidentally Sunday, 07 February 2016 is the Bhodayana Amavasya.

The particulars of both the Sankalpams have been updated in the Online Amavasya Tharpana Sankalpam Generator 0.7.5 beta.  You can fill in the particulars and get the PDF file for free in your email ID.


The current procedure in Tamil  & the Online Amavasya Tharpana Sankalpam Generator (and other current Pooja procedures in Tamil) can be accessed from the link at
Downloads page
Tags: amavasya,tharpanam

Read More

Indigenous Basic Trainer HAL HTT-40 rolls out

The first prototype of the indigenous basic trainer from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the as yet unnamed HTT-40 (Hindustan Turbo Trainer 40) was rolled out yesterday, 02 Feb 2016.  Like the launch of a ship, this roll out is just the first step before the HTT-40 is certified, and then inducted into the IAF.  Also like many other things, indigenous does not mean 100% 'made in India' components.

Reports suggest that the HTT-40 will take its first powered run later this month.  In the meantime, the engine manufacturers Honeywell of US will have to check and certify that their Garret TPE331 is correctly mated with the airframe.  Then the HTT-40 would do some ground runs – taxing, full throttle, and what not, before taking her first flight – maybe in an year down the line. 

If everything goes alright, then the HTT-40 might be inducted into the IAF in end-2018 or so.  That is, if the IAF top brass do not develop some aversion – real or imagined – to the HTT-40, in the meantime.

All the information mentioned above are public knowledge.  So why am I blogging about it?  There are two reasons.

One is the as yet undecided name.  Under the current BJP regime, I would not be surprised if the HTT-40 is named either Veer (Brave) or Atal (Firm, Strong) – Veer for Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, the man who coined the term ‘Hindutva’, or Atal for for former PM Atal Behari Vajpayee

Second is the official handout image of the HTT-40.  Note the jasmine garlands draped on the port wing, and the propellers.  You just cannot take religion out of the Indians.

Read More

Of Sacred threads and tourniquets

Have you heard of those sacred threads, once used to come – just like the Ford Model T, any colour as long as it’s black?  Usually they are supposedly from Kasi or Tirupathi.  The fad then, as is now, is to tie them up on the wrists, in the belief that the black colour wards off the evil eye.  These days, I believe threads are available in many colours, or even multi-colours.  But the colour of the thread is beside the point.

Someone who returned from Kashi – Varasani or Benaras – presented some kashi black thread, and the ganga jal, the usual take backs on visiting Kashi to my mother.  As mother’s do, she pestered me to tie one up on my wrist.

So, yesterday, I tied one up.  Little did I realise that the cotton, of which the thread is made of, has the nasty habit of ‘shrinking’ once dipped in water and dried.  Like the proverbial vilage idiot, to appear stylish, tied it up as a perfect fit.  Woke up today morning with a slight ache in the wrist, and near the elbow of the arm.

About three hours later, it felt like the ache had intensified.  As I had not lifted, shifted, carried, or worked anything heavy yesterday, a Sunday, except flipping through the Sunday Times, and Chronicle, it had me puzzled.  Sitting down for breakfast ws an Eureka moment.  I saw the black thread, which had shrunk, constricting the arm, as if it was a tourniquet.  No wonder it felt like the muscles were traumatized – because, they were.

A snip of the scissors, a little bit of massage, and a hot compress cleared up the remnants of the pain.  That told me why my mom insisted that I keep a finger along the wrist before I tied the thread, which I disregarded.  Old people do know a few tricks!

Moral of the story? 
Just because it is traditional, or said to be religious, do not follow anything blindly.  Else, instead of warding of evil eye, it might make you a bye-bye.  And listen to your elders!

Read More

Why Narendra Modi shuffles Bureaucrats, and Cabinet

One thing the Prime Minister Narendra Modi excels at, and has become quite good in, is to put a positive spin on even his failures and miscalculations.  When nothing happened on the Make in India campaign of Sep 2014, he deftly switched the focus to Startup India campaign in Jan 2016.  Just yesterday, to ward off questions about his regime’s non-performance in every front, Narendra Modi shuffled-shifted Ten top level bureaucrats, and fancy named it Perform or Perish initiative.

Yesterday’s musical chair is not the first.  AFAI can remember, there was a major reshuffle in Jun 2015, where 17 Secretary level officers ran to the tune.  In the latest act, Department Heads of Agriculture, Telecom, Food Processing, Micro & Small Industries, Disabilities, Tribal Affairs, Commission for Scheduled Caste, are some of the few.

It would have been convenient and comforting if the people could believe that Narendra Modi is plugging the leaks, where his regime’s performance is poor.  But the sad fact is the governance has taken a back seat and the Executive is failing on every front.  This government cannot even proceed and bring to fruition a done & dusted deal like the Dassault Rafale.  Nor can it make up its mind on whether to talk to Pakistan or not.

On the National Security front, one of the most cherished boast of the ruling BJP, they are acting like clowns let loose in a Roman Circus – do not know whether to run or drop dead, all the while with a painted cheery face.

Someone quipped recently that the people of India are one lucky lot.  When the oil price hit the roof at $120 per barrel, there was Manmohan Singh government to manage it through.  But with the incompetence of Modi and Jaitley, the oil prices are down to a very comfortable $40 per barrel.  Just image what this regime would have unleashed if the oil had hovered about $100 per barrel.

And then he added, our PM seems to be good at only three things – Tweets, Selfies, and Slogans.
Which gave me the idea for this cartoon.

Lucky Luke – Shoots faster than his own Shadow; Narendra Modi – Tweets faster than his own Selfie.

Read More

Google Doodle for Republic Day 2016

For a change, the Google Doodle for India’s 67th Republic Day on 26 Jan 2016, sported the camels.  Though there were reports earlier that the camel contingent would not be a part of the Republic Day parade this year, it appears the Modi regime as usual developed a cold feet, and did a U-turn to continue with the 66 year tradition.

The 90 strong camel contingent of the Border Security Force (BSF) became part of this celebration in 1976, replacing a camel squad of the Indian Army, as the Indian Military Camel Corps was disbanded in 1975 – and the remnants carrying on the name of Bikaner Camel Corps after assimilation into the BSF.

The Bikaner Camel Corps (BCC) was first raised in 1889, took part in actions in The Chinese Boxer Rebellion, Somaliland, Egypt in WW1 and WW2.  The BCC supplied the first camels to the Imperial Camel Corps (ICC) of the Egypt Expeditionary Force (EEF) in WW1.  The ICC consisted of British, Australian, New Zealand troops, as also Indian sepoys though they were called as from Hong Kong and Singapore Mountain Battery.

So, the Camels continue their march in the Republic Day parade, and also in the Google India homepage.  Past Google doodles on Republic Day have been on the colourful, but IMHO silly tabloids, and the daredevil bike riders.

Here is the doodle for the Republic Day 2016.


BTW, Google went with a Doodle about Aborigine Rights on the same day in Australia – it is celebrated as Australia National Day.


Elsewhere it was celebrated as 96 anniversary of demonstration of Television.


Read More

Wish everyone A Happy Pongal 2016

After the exhilarating morning celebration of Pongal, the harvest festival, the afternoons are usually doozy – probably because of gobbling down Sweet Pongal, the dish.  I never understood why the Sweet Pongal dish is called Sakarai (Sugar) Pongal, as it is jaggery which is used to prepare it – and not the white sugar.

To my surprise, the afternoon did not turn out to be a day to laze about, but was quite refreshing.  It also provided the opportunity to try out an animation helper plugin for Paint.NET (PdN).  The TechnoRobbo’s Keyframe is a fantastic plugin for small animation.  What it does is introduce a basic sprite tweening and a timeline like tools features in PdN.  An object can be made to travel along a path, rotate, shrink or zoom with it.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  so, instead of trying to explain in words, here is a Pongal Doodle, sorry, a Moodle.  As usual, Google has deemed Pongal festival as a religious holiday, and has not put out a Doodle – the last time they released a Doodle for Pongal or Makar Sankaranti was in 2011 (and the first was in 2010).

So what if there is no Pongal Doodle, here is a Moodle, and what TR’s keyframe plugin for PdN is capabale of.  The images were all handrawn in Paint.Net 4.0.9 .  It was exported as XCF file into GIMP for turning it into an optimized Animated GIF.  GIMP 2.9 turned the 22 layer into an optimzed GIF of 13 layers.


Both the rising-travelling Sun, and the boiling Pongal in the pot were made ridiculously easy by TR’s Keyframe plugin.

Read More