Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Importance of Ganesh Chaturthi and the Elephant God

Ganesh Chaturthi culminates in the Anant Chaturdashi day. Ganesha is represented as a small, red, stout man, or a child with a big, fat elephant head, who has only one tusk, often sitting on a lotus flower. His ears are shown larger than life. His eyes are small and his eyes are piercing and penetrating. With him is always his vahana, a mouse or rat. In other representations, he carries a book and a prayer chain. According to legend, he lost his second tusk in a fight against Parashurama.

During Ganesh Chaturthi countless small or huge Ganesh statues are erected of mud on altars in houses and streets for a few days to worship it amidst prayers, music, and dances. In honor of Ganesha, it is customary to prepare sweets like modak, ladoo, kadubu, and karanji. It is offered to the deity on home altars, temples or in the pandals.

Artisans prepare idols with terracotta, plaster or papier mache. Ganesh is well adorned with a red dhoti, flower garlands, silk fabrics and covered with red sandalwood paste. This ritual is called Prana Pratishtha and includes the chanting of Vedic hymns of the Rig Veda, Upanishads, and Puranas. People organize theater performances with the theme of the content of the sacred texts.

The murti of Ganesha is immersed into the nearest water reserve on this day. In Mumbai, in the last day, the idols are brought in joyous processions to the Arabian sea. In Pune, they are carried to the Mula-Mutha river. While in various Indian cities in the north and east, such as Kolkata, the murti is immersed in the river Ganges, where people sunk it amidst huge cheers.

Scholars agree that the origins of Ganesha precede the Vedic age. The theory assumes that the elephant-headed god was first worshiped both as a scribe and as a deity of the harvests by the tribes. The earliest figures of Ganesha are found in the Deccan region of South India, where sugar cane was, and still is, the main crop.

ganesha wallpaper art painting pictures images drawing photos

One legend says that the Ganas were once human, who had won the favor of Shiva. Ganesha emerged as a distinct deity and clearly recognizable form between the fourth and fifth century, during the Gupta Empire, although he inherited Vedic traits from precursors.

In Japanese, Kanji is used as the equivalent of the Hindu Deva. He is also revered in Buddhism and Jainism. Under the name Vinayaka, he is also worshiped in Tantrism. Here he is considered as a gifted dancer who can bless several women at the same time.

His affairs include poetry, music, dance, writing, and literature. Most merchants regard him as their patron and almost every shop has a Ganesha statue. For many devout Indians, the first thing that comes into a new house is a statue of Ganesha. He can also be found on almost every Indian wedding invitation card.

A bowl of Indian sweet Modak and laddus, signify Ganesha's weakness to eat. He is often represented with a snake. An anecdote from the Purana narrates that Kubera, a rich man went one day to meet Shiva. He invited him to a dinner in his opulent mansion so that he can exhibit all his riches. After these initial rites, the great banquet began. While the servants of Kubera undertook at best to serve all the dishes, the little Ganesha began eating, eating and eating.

Kartikeya took his peacock and managed it within a day. The wise Ganesha simply circled three times around his parents, who represented the universe for him. Impressed by his shrewdness his parents announced Ganesha as the winner.
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Monday, August 21, 2017

Travel Through Mumbai, Maharashtra and Bollywood

Thinking about a travel to western India? Maharashtra, Mumbai, and Bollywood brings to mind the chaos, traffic, pollution, crowds, spices, music and sounds. Everything is true!

Mumbai is a bustling concrete jungle. It will not disappoint the expectations of those who know India thanks to National Geographic documentaries or Bollywood musicals.

Mumbai, situated by the Arabian Sea in Western India is also the largest and most populated city of India. The capital of the state of Maharashtra is a natural film set that is alive 24 hours a day. Lacing my now destroyed Reebok sneakers, I left the suitcase at the hotel and started my first venture in Mumbai. I hoped to see the city fast to make the most of the limited time available.

To travel as much as possible in Maharashtra, I relied on my iPhone and created a route that covered art, shopping, food, nightlife and outdoors.

You cannot breathe the atmosphere of colonial Mumbai without a visit to Gateway of India, an Arc de Triomphe in yellow basalt. Built in 1924 to commemorate the visit of King George V, it is considered the symbol of the city. The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus or Victoria Terminus since 2004 is a World Heritage site.

My next stop was the Crawford Market, the colorful indoor market. Some guides call it Phule Market. It was within walking distance from Victoria Terminus. It was not what I see in other Indian markets. But it was interesting for its colonial architecture. The Chor Bazaar, a crowded flea market was more fascinating. It is a paradise for those looking for second-hand items. Here you can find everything from old gramophones and records to electronic goods.

Although time was running out and the traffic and the crowds seemed to slow the race against time, in Mumbai you cannot leave without tasting the pav bhaji. I took advantage also to rest a bit.

Because of the benevolence of time and weather, the clock allowed me to travel to Borivali National Park. This largest park in the world located within a city is one of the main attractions in North Mumbai. We complete the tour in a safari with lions and tigers. Elephanta Island was also worth the visit. We continue to Kamla Nehru Park. Then from the slopes of the Malabar Hill, we enjoyed the magnificent views of the waterfront. We move to Chowpatty Beach, the Prince of Wales Museum, Mani Bhawan and Dhobi Ghat.

Next morning after breakfast, we drive to the historic town of Nasik. Nasik is located on the banks of the river Godavari. It is steeped in Indian mythology and is the home to numerous temples. According to the Ramayana, Rama spent most of his exile here. Here hundreds of families of priests live. Many of them are Upadhya, who were traditional priests of noble families.

In this city, there are many temples and shrines on the left bank of the river in the neighborhood called Panchavati (5 banyan trees). We visit the ghats on the river Godavari and the Naroshankar Temple. Nasik is also the wine capital of India and we take the opportunity to travel to a local winery.

Next morning after breakfast, we travel to Daulatabad. Also known as Devagiri, it was founded in 1187 by Bhillamraja. Thereafter we proceeded to the Ellora Caves. Here the three great faiths of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism can be seen side by side in the elaborate carvings. The 34 caves date back to the seventh century. Of these, 12 are of Buddhists, 17 of Hindus and 5 of Jains.

The fifth group of the Buddhist cave was an old classroom for young monks. It was supported by two dozen pillars. Of the group of Hindu caves, the sixteenth was the most interesting. The Kailasha is the largest monolithic structure in the world. The area of the caves is very large. So we recommend you not to organize the tour through anyone. It is worth wandering with no one to put you on the anxiety clock.

Next morning after breakfast, we move to Aurangabad. It is the gateway to the world heritage sites of Ajanta and Ellora. In the afternoon we visit the Shivaji Museum and the famous Bibi Ka Maqbara. Bibi Ka Maqbara was built in 1660. It had elegant, refined sculptures in marble structure.

Next morning after breakfast, the day was dedicated to the visit to the Buddhist caves of Ajanta. Here we see fine paintings and sculptures from second century AD. Ajanta is considered the Sistine Chapel of Asia. These caves were formed by a steep ridge of rock. They were discovered by chance in 1819 by a group of British officers who were hunting in the area.

The monastic complex of Ajanta consists of 29 caves. They are smaller than Ellora, and date from the period between the second and fourth century AD. They are all Buddhist. The vihara (monastic apartments) and chaitya (stupa) were excavated in two phases.

The first phase is called Hinayana referring to Hinayana Buddhism. The second phase of excavations began after a break of three centuries. This phase is called, Mahayana referring to less severe Buddhist school that encourages the representations of Buddha through paintings and sculptures. Despite the incredible humidity, the frescoes in the caves were kept in excellent condition. I suggest traveling with a torch because the lighting was almost non-existent. Photos with flash, of course, are prohibited.

The wall frescoes were taken from the life of Buddha and religious legends. The most beautiful paintings were found in caves 1, 4, 17, 19, 24 and 26. The excavation of caves in the rock resumed an ancient custom to live in caves. With the passage of time, the rock art was also accepted by wealthy patrons.

The Ajanta caves were immersed in the green in a valley through which flowed a mountain stream. The setting was spectacular. But, this site was much less attractive compared to Ellora.

Next morning after breakfast, we continue the trip to Shirdi. Shirdi is a city that exudes a great sense of spirituality and mysticism in contrast to its size. Here, we visit the center and walk in the bazaars around the temple.

Next morning after breakfast, we move to Pune. On the way, we visited the Kirkee War Cemetery. It was followed by the visit to the homonymous memorial that was built to commemorate the death of Indian soldiers during the World War I.

Next morning after breakfast, we travel to the hill station of Matheran. Upon arrival, we moved to the hotel, on horseback.

Next morning after breakfast, we drive to Lonavala. Lonavala was a beautiful town of valleys, hills, waterfalls and lush vegetation. In the afternoon we visited the Buddhist caves of Bhaja and Karla.

Accepting a challenge against time and also against my principles because I do not like doing things on the run, I decided to make the most of the week available to explore this region.
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Pola and Other Rituals with Animals

Pola is a bull worshipping festival celebrated by farmers in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, in the Vidarbha region. On the day of Pola festival on Pithori Amavasya in the month of Shravan that coincides in August, farmers worship their bulls, which are an integral part of the agricultural chores. From the next day ploughing and sowing begins.

Though the bullock is replaced by the tractor, on the new moon day in the superstitious hinterlands, rituals dedicated to the cows and ox continue to mark the festival of Pola.

The exuberant tribals in Chhattisgarh love to celebrate life and this remains incomplete without the celebrations of the Pola festival. It is a thanksgiving festival to the cattle. Children play with well-decorated clay idols of Nandi bull the vehicle of Shiva.

Pola images

The worship of the bull was common in the ancient world. Its source of knowledge comes from Egypt, and then it passed to the villages of Ancient Mesopotamia and Hellenistic Greece. From protohistoric times, the bull occupied an important place in the life of human beings. Both the nomadic and the sedentary people coexisted closely with this animal. People often depended on the bull for survival. Therefore they worshiped it. The bull was identified with virility and procreation in nature.

From the earliest times, the bull was lunar in Mesopotamia. Its horns represented the crescent moon. Horned bull skulls were found in a shrine of VIII millennium BC in Çatalhöyük in Eastern Anatolia. The sacred bull of the Hattians, whose elaborate standards were found in Alaca Höyük along with those of the sacred deer, survived in Hurrian and Hittite mythologies as Seri and Hurri.

Going back to the past, from 3000 BC to 2000 BC, we can distinguish two species of bulls in Egypt. The so-called iw was imported from Dongola to the south. It was fat with a low-hip, that is to say, short, with big horns and which was deliberately fattened for use as food or for sacrifice.

The other specimen was the native wild bull of the delta called ng. It was tall with big horns and that was captured by looming it. People used it in field tasks or to pull large stones. It was also hunted in the great royal hunts. This is our Apis and possibly also the other sacred bulls.

These uses were not categorical regarding the two species since both could be domesticated, both were used for worship in some cases, both were sacrificed, but only the IW served as food and only NG was used in hunting and only the Ng was a Apis.

The function of the Apis was that of intermediary between the god Ptah and its faithful, communicating between them by means of the oracle. Thus the bull was on the one hand the herald of the god, the informant of the events that happened on the earth and on the other, acted on behalf of that same god when giving a verdict in its function as an oracle. By its connection with Osiris, Apis fulfilled funerary functions. Inscriptions have been found in the Serapeum, where Apis is called the Life of Osiris.

Occasionally, Apis was in charge of bringing grain to the other world, relating it to the agrarian function. At other times it assumed the transport role for the same dead man. Paintings have been found representing the Apis carrying the deceased mummified towards the necropolis on their backs. As we know, the Egyptians used to paint various symbols and gods of which they hoped for help and protection in the trip to the other world.

The predominance of the bull is fully justified, since it was an animal that, in addition to its particular characteristics with connotations of fertility, was intimately related to different gods.

The bull is also found in jewelry, amulets and weapons. As unique examples are a pair of earrings in form of cornucopia from which leaves a head of Apis; Two or three amulets in green stone and lapis lazuli and a golden dagger, whose handle is covered with a head of Apis. There are also two very interesting sculptures found in Saqqara that show us one to Pharaoh Ramses II who ordered the construction of the Serapeum and the other to his son Jaemuaset who carried out the planning and construction of the necropolis. Both are represented near them to the bull Apis.

In Cyprus ritual bull masks made with real skulls were used. Terracotta figurines carrying bull masks and Neolithic stone altars with bull horns have been found on this island. In Egyptian mythology the Apis bull is considered the incarnation of Ptah and later of Osiris. Bulls were identified by the priests and housed in the temples. They were embalmed and buried.

Numerous monolithic burials were stored in the Serapeum of Saqqara, which was discovered by Auguste Mariette in 1851. Other venerated bulls were Mnevis or Merur, the incarnation of Atum - Ra, in Heliópolis; Bujis or Baj, the sacred bull of Montu in Hermontis; and the bull of the god Min, in Coptos. In Ancient Egypt, Ka was as much a religious concept of the life force, as the word that designated the bull.

In other cultures, Marduk is the bull of Utu and the mount of Shiva is Nandi. When the heroes of the new Indo-European culture came to the Aegean basin, they clashed with the ancient Holy Bull on many occasions, and always surpassed it, in the form of myths that have survived.

For the Greeks, the bull was related to the Cretan Bull. Theseus of Athens had to capture the ancient sacred bull of Marathon before facing the bull-man, the Minotaur. Ancient frescoes and Minoan ceramics represent rituals of Taurocatapsy, in which participants of both sexes jumped over the bulls by clinging to their horns.

Dionysus was another god of resurrection who was attached to the bull. In a hymn of worship from Olimpia, at a festival in honor of Hera, Dionysus was also invited to appear as a bull. He is often depicted with bull horns, and in Cyzicus he had a tauromorphic image, and also alludes to an archaic myth in which Dionysus is massacred as a calf and eaten by the Titans.

In the classical period of Greece, the bull and other animals identified with deities were separated. Agalma was a species of heraldic piece that signified their numinous presence. Alexander's famous horse was called Bucephalus, linking the self-proclaimed king with the mythical power of the bull.

The bull is one of the animals related to the late Roman syncretic and Hellenistic cult of Mitra, in which the death of the astral bull was central in the cult of the time. A suggestion relates the remnants of the Mithraic ritual to the survival or boom of bullfighting in Iberia and southern France. The Irish mythology includes important references to the bulls, as in the Tain Bo Cúailnge as well as the stories of the epic hero Cuchulainn, which were compiled in the book of brown cow in the seventh century.

The sacred bull survives in the constellation Taurus.
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Travel to See the Great American Solar Eclipse in the USA

The US is preparing for a great natural drama with a total solar eclipse that begins on the Pacific coast and ends on the Atlantic coast. The total solar eclipse on Monday runs diagonally across the US to Charleston, South Carolina, on the east coast. Millions hope for a cloud-free sky on Monday. For weeks, USA has been eagerly awaiting the Great American Eclipse.

On August 21, 2017, the moon's core shadow will cover the entire sun. The total solar eclipse on the North American continent can be seen from 14 states of Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North and South Carolina. Montana and Iowa are only stripped of the moon's core shadow.

If you are in the right place at the right time, you can experience a total solar eclipse as the sun is then completely covered by the moon for at least two minutes. This is the only time when you can directly see the sun with the naked eye. It is the first ever coast-to-coast total solar eclipse on the continent for 99 years. In the core zone, many schools are closed on 21 August. Dozens of small and big Eclipse festivals are planned.

We get a small part of the eclipse of the sun, in parts of Europe, Africa and South America as partial darkness. Nevertheless, there will also be a lot of spectators here, because the eclipse can be pursued through many Live streams on Monday evening. The US space agency Nasa, on the other hand, wants to chase the shadows with two special jets at an altitude of 15 kilometers. Even wedding ceremonies during the dark are planned.

annular solar eclipse wallpaper

In the narrow zone of total darkness live about twelve million US citizens. Millions will be arriving there on Monday. There is probably no place where the solar eclipse which will be visible for the first time in nearly 40 years from the mainland of the USA can be better observed than at a music, art, or food festival. That is why we have put together a list of the best vantage points in the country:


The total solar eclipse can be seen from the coastal city of Newport in the morning at around 10:15 (local time). First you can experience how the city of Albany is immersed in total darkness for almost two minutes, then head straight to the Northwest Art & Air Festival. At this popular art festival, countless colorful hot air balloons will rise around the clock. If you do not want to be on your own, you can enjoy the view from the ground, admire numerous art exhibitions, or find out everything about the car at a vintage car show.


Next, the eclipse of the sun is spread over much of Idaho. You can climb the 3,860 m high Borah Peak, the highest mountain of the federal state. This breathtaking view will surely not be forgotten! Do you want to see the solar eclipse and get to know the western flair of the USA better? Then go to the annual Caldwell Night Rodeo. The five-day event is considered one of the best outdoor rodeos in the country.


If you want to experience the splendor of nature as the shadow falls on the earth, you should be in the southern part of the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. The Grand Teton Music Festival takes place in front of the rare natural event, where mainly lovers of classical music will get their money's worth.


The total solar eclipse will cover approximately half of Nebraska, starting in the northwest corner of the US state and later in the southwest. A real secret tip here is to travel to the small villages, from where you can have a particularly good view of the natural event. At the summer Maha Music Festival in Omaha, you will not only have a good view of the total eclipse, but you will also be able to witness live concerts from different bands in the USA.


The total solar eclipse will cut just as the northeast corner of Kansas. So get into one of the communities like Troy, if you do not want to miss the event. If you're already there, you should be at the Roots Festival in Paola. The Americana music (a mixture of folk, blues and country music), dance, art and craftsmanship are the focus of the second day.


The two largest cities in the US state, Kansas City and St. Louis, are just right to watch the solar eclipse. If you already make a trip to St. Louis, you should definitely stay there until the end of August, because then the famous Festival of Nations takes place there. Tens of thousands of visitors travel every year to experience the colorful mixture of multicultural music, dance, games and delicious dishes from all over the world.


At the southernmost peak of the US state of Illinois, the sun is completely covered by the moon for over two minutes. Travel northwards from there, a visit to the Northalsted Market Days in Chicago, one of the largest street festivals in the country.


The shadow of the solar eclipse will be seen in the west of Kentucky, including Franklin and Russelville. When you travel to this US state, you should not miss the Kentucky State Fair in Louisville. You will not be bored, because numerous events from world class riding tournaments, country music concerts to brewery demonstrations ensure unforgettable entertainment.


The solar eclipse can be seen in the middle of the US state of Tennessee. Nashville, which is regarded as an Eldorado for Country Music, is briefly overshadowed. If you are in the area, visit the Grand Ole Opry, one of the country's most popular live music venues, the Country Music Hall of Fame and other exciting musical attractions.


You can see the exciting natural event from many places in the US state. The view from the small town of Clayton is especially spectacular. As soon as the eclipse of the sun is over, take a trip to Atlanta, where you can find many great events like the Decatur BBQ, the Blues & Bluegrass Festival or the Piedmont Park Arts Festival, which is especially appealing for families with children.

North Carolina

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers the perfect backdrop in the midst of boundless wilderness if you want to watch the total solar eclipse. You should plan enough time to explore not only the park, but also the State Bluegrass Festival, which is not far from it.

South Carolina

Finally, the solar eclipse will be in the center of South Carolina before the event comes to an end at about 2:36 pm (local time) near Charleston in the US. Since it can get very hot during the summer months, you should do the same for the locals and plan a relaxing trip to Hilton Head Island. On the island you can stroll along unspoilt beaches, participate in numerous outdoor activities and pass the time on more than two dozen golf courses.

Where in Europe can you see the solar eclipse on 21 August?

In Portugal, Spain, Netherlands, and UK, the event is to be experienced as partial darkness. in Lisbon, for example, between 19:46 and 21:03, almost one fifth of the sun will be hidden.

Almost every year there is a total solar eclipse somewhere in the world. In a solar eclipse, the new moon shifts from the earth to the sun. In doing so, the moon casts its shadow on certain regions of the earth with the result that the sky darkens there. The moon conceals the sun either partially or in some eclipses also completely depending on whether the so-called core shadow of the moon merely touches the earth or meets its surface. The rare spectacle of a total solar eclipse only occurs in regions over which the core shadow of the moon is moving.

Researchers will look at the spectacle with telescopes from the ground. A total of seven minutes, the jets will be able to observe the phenomenon. Other researchers are traveling with other aircraft, such as a Gulfstream V from the National Science Foundation. From the ground numerous balloons will rise up into higher atmospheric layers while keeping an eye on the darkness. The Montana State Eclipse Ballooning Project wants 57 balloons to rise in 25 places.

In India, a total solar eclipse was last seen in 1995. For a few minutes, the day became night, birds were silent, while bright stars and planets glowed in the daytime sky. The next total solar eclipse in India will not be shown until December 2019. Iceland and Spain get to see the spectacle on August 12, 2026. With the exception of the short total eclipse, Astro fans need a special SoFi glasses with a tested filter.

Solar eclipses have always exerted a special fascination on people. In the past, solar eclipses were interpreted as an ominous sign or as a divine signal. Our ancestors were very anxious about them. In the past, darkness was interpreted as a sign of destiny as the sun was the source of life. The ancient Babylonians knew mathematical rules, with which solar and lunar eclipses could be predicted.

The ancient Chinese believed that in a solar eclipse, a heavenly dragon devours our life-giving central brain. Also in the mythology of South American people and in ancient India monsters were blamed for the frightening experience when the day suddenly becomes a night.

In India, solar eclipses are associated with war and disasters. Any food cooked during a solar eclipse is considered impure and is thrown away or given to the beggars. Temples, as well as shops, close on this occasion. Life on Earth depends on the light and heat that the Sun sends us daily. Its sudden disappearance during an eclipse is considered the most dreadful that one can imagine. This is considered the period of demons.

Pregnant women are made to stay at home and it is considered inauspicious to deliver at that time. The sun's rays are deemed toxic during the eclipse. People take a bath after the eclipse. There were cases of handicapped children buried up to their necks in the sand or mud during eclipses in the hope of curing them. Similar beliefs exist during lunar eclipses. In India, the eclipses are known by the Surya Grahan and the Chandra Grahan.

The Ancient people realized that eclipses are not an exceptional and unique phenomenon but they are repeated with a certain frequency. They then began to record the times of the various phases of the solar eclipse and lunar eclipse with great precision. The main purpose of these observations was to learn to predict the phenomenon and to find correlations with the motion of the Sun and the Moon.

The astronomers of ancient Greece and the Arabs of the Middle Ages measured the times of eclipses seen from the different locations, to determine the differences of longitude. The main historical sources of eclipse that have come to us are mostly from Babylonians, Chinese, Arabs, and Europeans. There is more or less direct evidence from the Mayans, the ancient Egyptians, and even from some prehistoric civilizations.

The Mayans did not possess the knowledge necessary to determine whether a Solar Eclipse was visible in the areas in which they lived. It also seems that the eclipses that were not visible and therefore could not have been observed were, however, foreseen and recorded. In fact, in the Dresden Codex, there are some tables concerning the prediction of eclipses.

In ancient Egypt, the Sun often appears at the entrance to tombs and temples, perhaps to portray the victory of light over the darkness. Sometimes this image also includes two heads of snake and goat horns, which are also symbols of Sol or the Sun.

Many people have developed their own myths and legends about eclipses from ancient times. They often believe that eclipses were the forerunner of some natural catastrophe or the death or defeat of a king. For centuries people have considered eclipses as a terrible and horrible event, a pretense of misfortune. People have performed rituals, ceremonies, and sacrifices to exorcize them.

Lunar Eclipse moon wallpaper

A widespread myth is that a dragon devours the Sun during an eclipse. Many cultures have also developed their own methods to counteract the effects of an eclipse. For example, the ancient Chinese tried to make a lot of noise to scare and drive the dragon away by playing drums, squeezing arrows in the air and percolating pots.

In India, people drifted on the knee near a river, believing that this would help the Moon and the Sun defend themselves from the serpent. In Japan, people used to cover the wells during an eclipse, in order to avoid the falling of the poison coming from the dark sky.

There were also more optimistic beliefs about this natural phenomenon. In Tahiti, eclipses were interpreted as the loving attachment of the Sun and the Moon. Even today, some Eskimos and Arctic tribes believe that eclipses are a sign of divine goodwill. The Sun and Moon leave their place in heaven for a short time to see that everything is all right on earth.

When the full moon arrives next Monday, the Partial Lunar Eclipse will not last very long. However, the so-called half shadow will still remain visible for some time. From August 11th to 13th the shooting stars from the Perseid Meteor Stream will reach their annual maximum.

What is a partial lunar eclipse?

In a partial lunar eclipse, the moon enters a part of the Earth's core shadow. The rest is in the half shade. The edge of the shadow cast by the earth is visible as a circular arc on the surface of the moon. At a total lunar eclipse, the moon with its full diameter enters the Earth's core shadow.

Lunar Eclipse moon wallpaper

Where and when can I watch the partial lunar eclipse best?

First of all, the good news. The lunar eclipse on August 7, 2017, can be seen with naked eyes. Of course, you can also take binoculars, which makes the drama more impressive. It is important to look for a place that gives a broad and unobstructed view of the southeast horizon and excludes artificial light sources. If you want to observe the lunar eclipse, you should find a suitable place a few days before. People in larger cities should head towards the east.

In Central Europe, however, the conditions for the lunar eclipse are rather unfavorable. The moon does not appear until the heavenly drama has already come to an end. Those who want to see the lunar eclipse can follow it from large parts of India, Africa, and Asia as well as the Antarctic, Australia and Eastern Europe. However, amateur photographers can capture good picture motifs by the end of the twilight. Due to the lunar cycle, the moon stands at sunset just above the places of sunrise in the twilight of the area.
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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Facts and Myths of Vikings, History and Norse Mythology

We all know about the Vikings and their stories of looting and the horned helmets in Nordic mythology. But how much is fact and how much is the myth? Here you will find a small overview to refresh your knowledge about the Vikings! The Vikings are imagined as tall armed men with beards, blond hair and names like Thure and Björn.

At the beginning of the Viking era, there were no states in the north. The people lived in the different regions of Scandinavia in villages and settlements. The family or clan was very important to them. It was regarded as sacred, and without them the individual was nothing. The family members protected each other. There was a definite ranking, at the head of which was the Jarl, a leader.

The Viking Age

The Viking age ranged from the first maelstrom Viking to the monastery of Lindisfarne in North England in 793 to the decisive battle of Hastings in 1066. The Viking age was of great importance for the medieval history of Scandinavia, Great Britain, Ireland and many other countries and regions in Europe.

Who were the Vikings?

The Viking or Vikingr in Old Norse is the collective term used to describe the Scandinavian explorers, traders, and warriors who have attacked, traded and explored many parts of Europe, Asia, and the North Atlantic Islands until the middle of the eleventh century. They did not call themselves Viking. Where the expression comes, however, is not clear. They came from different parts of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. Most of these were Germanic people of the north and east seas.

At the end of the 8th century, the word Viking was used in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for martial activities. Thereafter, it occurs three times in the records for the years 885, 921 and 1098. It was therefore not a common expression, even during the period of Danish rule over parts of Britain. The origin of the word is thus controversial. Víkingr was used for noble people and ruling kings.

A main reason for the Viking voyages was the hard life in Scandinavia. Most people lived and worked there as simple settlers and peasants and had to fight for their survival in the barren landscape. Traders learned about treasures and riches in Central Europe.

They established a dense trading network between the coastal regions and islands of Europe. They exchanged honey, wax, furs, animal skins, or amber for objects they needed, such as armor, weapons, spices, precious metals, and fabrics.

The duties and duties of men and women were divided in the Viking society. The women took care of the family, house, and animals. The men, on the other hand, provided for the livelihood and protection of the family. Even if the men as a whole had the say, women were respected.

Vikings norway images

The religion of the Vikings

The Vikings had their own religion before Christianization. This is known in the Nordic mythology. In their center are gods like Odin, Thor, Loki and Frey with some regional variations. Fighting to die was considered to be the most prestigious way of giving life, for a seat in Walhalla was safe, the enormous hall ruled by Odin.

There were fantastic feasts every night and preparations were made to help Odin in the apocalyptic battle that precedes the end of the world of Ragnarok. Up until the tenth or eleventh century, most, if not all, of the northern men were converted to Christianity, but they still clung to many pagan ideas far into the Middle Ages.

Since there are no independent sources for this event, and much has been written about the Vikings only centuries later, some historians read these documents as propaganda texts. As a result, the image of the Vikings began to resemble as terrible northern men against a kind friendly occupier.

The Vikings as discoverers

The Vikings were feared for their famous long-haul ships, which were seaworthy vehicles with a flat ground that allowed them to travel across the world and also navigate through shallow waters and land on the beach. The Viking ships were far ahead of their time and made the Vikings dangerous for their enemies. No European country had seaworthy ships as the men from the north.

The Viking boats, which are also referred to as kite boats because of their elaborate carvings, were ready for any situation. Thus they could sail the seas and penetrate deep into the mainland. If it did not go any further, the Vikings could carry the light boats on their shoulders.

The Swedish Viking Gardar Svavarsson discovered Iceland on one of his seas, causing Iceland to be populated by Scandinavian settlers in the late 9th and 10th century. The Vikings are also regarded as the real explorers of America.

During the Viking Age, the northern men traveled across the world. In contrast to general convictions, the Vikings were capable traders and have established many successful branches in England, Scotland, Ireland, Normandy and Iceland.

In 845 they rowed the Seine for the first time and laid siege at Paris. The northern men attacked the city several times until a final attack in 886 ended the reign of Viking terror in the city. In addition to the entire North Atlantic coastline, the Vikings also moved southwards, to North Africa and east to Russia, Constantinople and the Middle East.

After the famous Viking Erik the Red discovered Greenland, Bjarne Herjolfsson encounters an unknown country in the southwest on the way from Iceland to Greenland. Inspired by these tales, Leif Eriksson, the son of Erik the Red, one day set out to find this country. He was successful and was the first European to put a foot on North American soil half a century before Christopher Columbus, who is called the discoverer of America in most of the history books.

The discovery by the Vikings had fallen into oblivion because they tried to settle the new country but failed. In fact, the first Europeans who landed in North America were the Vikings. They established a short-lived settlement in today's Canada under the rule of Leif Eriksen.


The Dane money was a tax that the Vikings had levied on the lands they invaded. By paying the Dane money, the rulers could be sure that their regions would not be attacked by the Vikings. English, French and other European rulers paid huge sums of silver and valuables as Dane money from the 9th to the 11th century.


The Vikings had their own alphabet based on the Germanic Runescript, known as Futhark. The Vikings have engraved historical events with runes in stones. The runes described the heroic deeds of a certain leader and his men, or successful campaigns abroad. Much of what is known today about the Vikings comes from the rune inscriptions of stones from Scandinavia, the British Isles, and places as far away as the Black Sea.

Examples of famous runes can be visited at the site of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage in Jelling.

Viking myths

Vikings worn horny helmets in some ritual ceremonies. In fact, the Viking helmets were conical, made from hard leather with wood and metal reinforcements, or they were made of iron with a mask and armor. The Vikings were not wild creatures. The idea of wild-looking looters with an irrational look is nothing more than a myth.

In fact, the parts of Great Britain, which were occupied by the Angels of Denmark, were described as clean by their Anglo-Saxon neighbors, as they insisted on bathing at least once a week and always keeping their hair well-dressed. The Vikings played the lure and were buried in dolmens.

On the other hand, the reports of the Scandinavian invasions on the North Franconian coasts at the time of the Merovingian period are sea kings, sea gullies, and naval warriors, but never Vikings. In the Gunnlaugr Ormstungas saga, the hero visits Nidaros, then King Æthelred, then travels from there to Ireland, to the Orkneys and to Skara in West Gotland, where he stays at Jarl Sigurd, lastly to Sweden to King Olof Skötkonung.
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Travel Finland in Helsinki, Rovaniemi, Lapland & Northern Lights

I am a sun child. I often travel to distant countries. How did I get to Finnish Lapland? Finland lured me with its northern lights, the Christmas season in a rustic hut in the snow, husky sleigh rides, and admiring the reindeer from close range. I was excited as not only a new country was waiting for me, but a completely unknown region. Lapland covers parts of Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Russia.

Finland was one of the most anticipated destinations on my travel wish list. The Finnish Lapland experience was filled with pure wilderness, polar lights, and Husky rides.

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We go skiing in the snow at night, go hunting in the north-east, celebrate Christmas in the Lapland style, live in a rustic snow lodge, look at reindeer shepherds over the shoulder, crash with a ship over ice floes, swim in a dry suit through the icy Baltic Sea, spend the night in the footsteps of a husky guide, climb over icy waterfalls, camp in the cold snow desert, and slip across a frozen lake. For me, the most spectacular event was diving under the ice.

Before my departure, I spent few days at Berlin. After a short stopover in Cologne, I took the flight to Helsinki in Finland. The temperatures at my destination Levi was around the freezing point. Finland, however, always felt like -20 degrees, with frozen breath, stiff fingers and deaf ears. There is also snow-wear for rent. To keep myself warm enough in Finland, I carried winter clothes, jackets, and sheepskin boots.

finland wallpaper images Northern Lights

I stayed at apartments. In the mornings, five kinds of herring always awaited me at breakfast buffet, with juniper berries, dill or mustard sauce. The fish tasted very good, but I needed a chewing gum every time for fresh breath.

When I leave the hotel for Lapland a weak winter sun was hovering over us. The air was cold and clear. During the flight, the landscape changes to more and more snow. Lapland from above is white, with frozen lakes and rivers, in between pines and spruces.

finland wallpaper images Reindeers Lapland

In Lapland, 200 days of the year is winter, and it is not bright in the polar areas. The height of the winter is slightly over three months in the period from December to March. And just in this phase, you can be lucky enough to experience the Scandinavian outdoor winter adventure par excellence. The northern lights and the stars are the only sources of light. When we arrive, however, there was the sun and the temperature was around 4 degrees.

I was looking forward to the sleigh ride with huskies, a snowmobile safari, Finnish sauna, the ice bath, local food and the cute reindeer.

What to do in Finland summer

finland wallpaper images lapland

Finland is also a true summer destination with what Korvapuusti, Moomins, and Mökki have to offer. Do you remember Moomin and all the other beings from the Mum Valley? Do you remember where the Mum Valley is? Do not worry, after seeing the beautiful, snow-capped winter landscapes of Finland, what now follows are my memories of unforgettable, endless summer holidays in Finland, which give the small country in the far north a chance as a summer destination.

The starting point of my Finnish summer nights was Tampere. Should you spend a little time in Tampere, the following points of interest are a kind of mandatory in the itinerary:

finland wallpaper images lapland

There is a photo of the fan outside the entrance of The Moomin Museum, with Moomin himself. The little one stands there in the form of a statue and welcomes every visitor in a very personal way. Through the museum, you can then move at your own pace, armed with a booklet containing all the important information and available in different languages. There are miniature figures showing the adventures of the Moomin and much more. In the adjacent Moomin shop you can buy souvenirs as you wish.

From the observation tower, you can have a view over the whole city and the Näsijärvi and Pyhäjärvi lakes. The Särkänniemi amusement park, which is definitely worth a visit, is situated on the peninsula on which the tower rises.

finland wallpaper winter images

And for dinner then go for a heavenly Burger in the Finlayson area. If you want to try reindeer, elk, bear or fish, there are lots of restaurants in Hämeenkatu, which convinces by really excellent, delicious food. There is much more to explore in Tampere and you will discover something new at every visit, but I would like to take you to the absolute experience of Finland to the Mökki.

So the Finns call their summer house and there is hardly a better way to spend your holiday in Finland than with a stay in a Mökki or better on a Mökki. Mökki is a basic pillar of Finnish culture. When I first went with my friends to a Mökki, I did not get out of the astonishment. After a somewhat longer drive on the buttery streets of Finland, a dirt road led across the fields and forests until we finally ended on a lake shore.

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A glaring view from the car, no house far and wide, only two boats, one with the engine, the other with paddles. The answer to my silent question came promptly. We must take the boat now. The boat then went from the lake shore to a small island, which was located in the middle of a beautiful blue lake and on which there are a few smaller cottages, of course, all painted in the typical Scandinavian red and surrounded by firs and birches.

In such a Mökki there is everything you need for a successful summer holiday with the main house, storage cubicle, cold room, summer kitchen and finally the sauna. For a weekend in the Mökki, which is hardly ever dark, what cannot be missing, is the sauna. While the sauna oven warms the room slowly to the desired temperature, it was time to play with a card game with a cider or beer preparing the body for the imminent liquid loss.

finland wallpaper images Northern Lights

The sauna experience itself is then different. While some consider an infusion to be cruel, I consider it to be soothing and effective. Once the temperature limit has been reached, the only thing that has to be done is to get into the water. In this case, the boat bridge again proved to be very useful to disappear gracefully like a ski jumper or with a loud splash in the lake.

Once the body temperature is adjusted again, just let yourself be carried away on your back and enjoy the nightly summer sky of Finland and watch a sudden sunset suddenly turn into a dawning sunrise. It is a truly unique sight. And yet, the quiet, deep, Finnish waters offer you the highest form of peace and relaxation that you can imagine.

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So a stay in the Mökki is not only suitable for a weekend but you can spend a week or more there to explore the area or just enjoy this unique tranquility. If this is not for you, because you want to see more of Finland, just get on a train.

By train, it takes about 10 hours from Tampere to Rovaniemi. You can easily get into Tampere at night, make it comfortable in a normal train compartment or in a sleeping car, and in the morning you will be in Rovaniemi.

finland wallpaper images aurora lapland

In Rovaniemi, there is a lot to discover. Rovaniemi is not only the home of the Eurovision Song Contest winners Lordi, who even set a monument on the market square, which is now called Lordi Square. Rovaniemi is also home to Santa Claus. While you are there, you can transfer your Christmas wishes in person at pleasant temperatures around 15 ° C and in a bright blue sky.

Things to do in Finland Helsinki

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So you want to go to the South? Do you want beach and sea? Finland also has something to offer with a holiday in Helsinki. There is just so much to see, and you should definitely stay there for a few days if you really want to see everything and enjoy this city and get to know it. Visit the Havis Amanda and the adjacent Kauppatori (market), where there are fresh vegetables, fruit, and fish, as well as souvenirs and crafts.

Climb the stairs to the Tuomiokirkko (Dom) and take a break in the middle of the valley, while enjoying the fresh berries brought along by the market. Linnanmäki, a small but fine amusement park, is a great place to enjoy the park. The Dustbin even sings a thank you for the fact that you have disposed of your garbage properly. The entrance to the park is by the way free of charge.

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Take a boat trip to the Suomenlinna fortress to learn about the history of the fortress or to take the opportunity to inspect a submarine from the inside. Enjoy a delicious piece of cake in the Café and then grasp the world's best chocolate. Order a cup of coffee and a Korvapuusti, a Finnish pastry with cardamom and watch the street performers or a concert on the outdoor stage.

There is so much more to report from all over Finland. There are the many festivals that are scattered throughout the summer. You should make a stop at Pori and Rauma when driving reverse along the west coast by car from Tampere to Helsinki. From the port city of Turku, you can take an overnight boat to Stockholm. There are the ski jumping opportunities at Lahti.

finland wallpaper images Northern Lights

What I liked most was the Finns themselves, their way of life, the friendliness and openness towards other cultures and languages. You see, I can still, fill pages on pages with experiences and impressions from Finland. But still, so many words can simply not convey what you experience when you travel this beautiful country. So give the little Scandinavian country a chance and discover the diversity of Finland.

Oh, and if you want to try to learn a few words in the country language before going on holiday, Kiitos means thank you.

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Android O: Features, Release, Availability, and News

Android O is coming. Google has not yet revealed whether O stands for Oreo, Oatmeal cookies or something different. But the developer version of Android 8 is already released to Android O Developer Preview 2. Google has added functions, many of which are already known by alternative ROMs such as CyanogenMod or Samsung Galaxy UI.

Android 8 will be released just after the end of the US solar eclipse. Google shows the presentation of Android O in the Livestream. The teaser video, which was published in the Google+ account at the same time, was called Oreo. Google renamed the video to Octopus, Oatmeal Cookie, Orange Sherbet, and Orbit.

Which smartphones and tablets are supposed to get Android O?

Apart from this entertaining unimportant detail, the innovations of Android 8 have long been known. An updated list of all smartphones that will receive Android O update is the Asus ZenFone 3. Most of the top models from 2017 and 2016 will get the Android O update, for example the Samsung S8 and LG G6.

All devices expected at the IFA (Samsung Note 8, Nokia 8) are either delivered with Android O or later. Many functions and the revised menus can be tried but now a look at the innovations. We'll show you what are the new features, how Google has redesigned the Android menus, where to get the Android 8 developer version and which phones will support Android O.

What is Android O?

The first alpha version came out in March 2017. The current Android O Developer Preview 2 exists since May. The final version will be released in autumn.

Android O images

New features in Android O

Notification categories: Notifications are divided into categories. The user can activate sound and vibration for more important categories, such as mails or calendar entries, and mute the push advertising from games or newspaper apps.

Video with picture-in-picture: Android O is supposed to offer a picture-in-picture mode in Android TV devices. For example, a video or a video chat can continue in a reduced area while the user is using another app. A similar feature already existed on some Samsung devices for example. Multiple windows and multiple screens with different content can be rendered and used at the same time.

New layout in the settings: One of the first problems with Android O are the settings. The menu has changed and is now divided into a few upper categories, but these are more nested. A finger print brings all the elements to the fore.

The quick settings in the notification bar look different. There are more features housed in the pop-up version that can be optimized via the hidden SystemUI tuner. It can be used to change the navigation bar and to distribute the buttons on the left or right. In addition, two additional buttons can be added to the left and right, such as a link to the clipboard.

App notifications in the icon: Access to app notifications is now possible with Android O via the app icon. As soon as an app generates a notification, the icon gets a small point. If you tap on it longer, the message appears in the display.

More beautiful app icons: With the new adaptive icons, apps can look different depending on device and interface. Instead of Google's preferred round symbols, the same template can also be square or rounded. To do this, the developer must provide a template with two layers. The icon itself, which is 72 x 72 pixels is larger than before. In addition, there is a transparent background layer.

From this, the system then creates a suitable symbol, depending on the specification. In addition, the system can insert graphical elements such as shadows or parallax levels and build animations like a pulsating icon without the developer's help.

Safe Browsing API: Google introduces a Safe Browsing API not just for Android O, but even to Android Lollipop. This interface allows apps to check if Google has identified the resource as dangerous, for example because the server is hacked or the website is known as a phishing trap. Google Play Protect scans installed apps for viruses and lands as part of the Play Store app on devices with Android 7 and older.

Built-in virus scanner PlayProtect: The apps in the Play Store scans Google for a long time, but now the scanner lands on the device and has to be started by the user through the Play Store app. It also checks apps installed from other sources. PlayProtect will also run on devices with older Android versions.

WebView component: With Android O the WebView component should run in a separate process by default. This should increase safety and stability.

Sideloading: The installation of apps from external sources is now somewhat more sophisticated. Instead of allowing or prohibiting the sideloading on a flat-rate basis, permission is now given to the respective app that has loaded the package. The option also moves the other app access rights to the Settings menu.

Expanded Android ID: Each user account and each installed app should be identified with its own Android ID. This makes tracking more difficult than user accounts. The advertising ID remains the same for all apps in an account on a device. On the other hand, it is easier to link Google accounts with accounts with third-party providers. Google also wants to simplify payment transactions.

Priority for apps in the foreground: The use of geofencing or passive monitoring of active apps queries are possible. The restrictions on the reception of broadcasts introduced in Android Nougat are exacerbated. And after a few minutes, the background apps are stopped, but there are exceptions. This should improve the performance of the apps used by the user.

OTA updates even when memory is tight: Devices supplied with Android 7 have two system partitions that allow faster updates. On such devices, a system update such as the security patches will now be possible with Android O even if the internal memory has run full.

Faster updates with Project Tango: Android O introduces a new abstraction layer between hardware drivers and operating system, the vendor interface. This simplifies the update process for the vendor, but does not alter the need to provide the updates. Google's security patches, which a user can import themselves, does not continue to bring Android O.

Autocomplete API: Developers will be able to use a global "autofill" feature in their apps to fill form fields, such as e-mail or postal addresses if the user wants it.

Improved keyboard support: Google promises improved keyboard support for Android O.

Intelligent clipboard: When copying texts, Android helps to mark the correct text point. So far one has to fumble the small blue icons to mark a text. An automatic tap is now trying to recognize addresses, telephone numbers and names.

Better audio codecs for Bluetooth: There is a native support for higher-quality, but proprietary audio codecs. On compatible smartphones, the system can now use Qualcomm's aptX (HD) and Sony's LDAC. The device manufacturers no longer have to install the necessary software into the Android image of the individual smartphone.

Wi-Fi Aware support: Wi-Fi Aware support will enable wireless devices to communicate without having to go through the Internet. In this way, smartphones can be informed of printers, and displays in their vicinity. It can exchange small information folders, such as location information or sensor measurement values, without setting up a dedicated connection.

Second Language Next to Java: The programming language Kotlin is now supported by Google. Android Studio 3.0 is to come with the complete toolset.

How to install the Android O Developer Preview 2

The Developer Preview runs on Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Pixel C, Nexus Player, Pixel and Pixel XL. You should not install Developer Preview on your active smartphone. Much of it does not work well. For example, the battery life is shorter.

To install the images, you must first have the Android Beta program enabled for your device. You can do this on the PC browser through your Google account. In the course of 24 hours, your smartphone will be unlocked for the beta and you can then search for the OTA updates for the Developer Preview under "Settings - Info - System updates". The downloads are each about 1 GB in size.
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Friday, August 18, 2017

Nowruz - What's behind the Spring Festival and the Parsi New Year

The Parsi New Year festival of Nouruz, also Noruz or Newroz is one of the oldest celebrations of mankind. Nowruz begins with the astronomical beginning of spring, which is also the beginning of the Iranian calendar year. Nowruz falls on the 20th or 21st March of each year.

Nowruz originated from pastoral or peasant culture. People celebrated the transition from winter to summer. Fertility and renewal rituals can be recognized in some customs in Nowruz. Ancient Persian legends tell us that this land was called the land of the Aryans.

There are historical indications that the Apadana and the Persepolis, Hall of 100 Columns were built for the Nowruz celebrations in the Achaemenid era. Xenophon tells us that the New Year was celebrated in Persepolis. People from the entire empire handed gifts to the King on this day.

Mehregan was the spring festival and Nowruz was the autumn festival. The Parthians later celebrated Nowruz in the autumn. Nowruz was chosen as the Parsi New Year festival during the Sassanian era. Nowruz was the most important festival in Sassanid Iran since the rule of Ardashir I. On this day prisoners were pardoned. Nowruz, Jashn-e Sadeh, and Chaharshanbe Suri are the festivals that have survived the Islamic dictatorship in Iran.

Navroz festival images parsi new year wallpapers

The importance of Haft Sin

Haft-Sin stands for a covered table with seven ingredients like Sabze or germinated wheat, Sib or apple, Serkeh or vinegar, Sir or garlic, Sumac, a Persian spice, Samanu, a candy made from wheatgrass and wheat flour and Senjed, a dried fruit from oleaster tree was kept. A gold coin, as well as colorful eggs and goldfish in a glass container, a mirror, a candle, were also kept.

The festival lasted for twelve days. The thirteenth day was celebrated as the new year, which marked the last day of the Nowruz celebrations. On Sizdar-Bedar on the thirteenth day after Nouruz, evil spirits are to visit the houses. The families spent the day in the open. They organize picnics in parks or do excursions to rivers.

The rebirth of the Sumerian deity Dumuzi

Nowruz once symbolized the rebirth of the Sumerian deity Dumuzi. People prepare the Sabzi Polou with fried fish, a rice dish with herbs, such as parsley, coriander, buckwheat clover, chives and dill, thick beans and small diced potatoes, and Kuku Sabzi, a delicious herbal soufflé.

Before the Nouruz celebrations, the house cleaning takes place. These are subject to strict or loose rules depending on the culture. On Tuesday evening of the last Wednesday before bonfires are lit. People chant zardi ye man az to, sorkhi ye to az man.

In the days after, relatives and friends visit each other to settle old quarrels and get closer to each other. People dance in colorful clothes on the streets. Since Nouruz is celebrated in many different places, people have expanded the festival with local customs.
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