World Body Painting Festival Asia vibrate

World Body Painting Festival Asia vibrate

World Body Painting Festival Asia vibrate

World Body Painting Festival Asia vibrate

World Body Painting Festival Asia vibrate

World Body Painting Festival Asia vibrate

The modern Thiruvananthapuram is the capital of the beautiful land of Kerala and was formerly known as Trivandrum. Under the royal rule of the Venad Royal family, it was called Thiruvithamkoor and also known by its anglicized name Travancore.It was one of the oldest inhabited places in India. Located on the west coast of India near the extreme south of the mainland, it was always the political nerve centre of Kerala. Ruled by some of the most powerful and liberal rulers, its life was always centered on the Padmanabha Swamy temple whose presiding deity is Sree Padmanabha or Vishnu. According to the Hindu mythology, the cosmic trinity consisted of Brahma-the creator, Shiva-the destroyer and Vishnu-the preserver. In an innovative more to pre-empt any invasions by local rivals, one of the strongest rulers Marthanda Varma consecrated the "thrippadidhanam" in the 17th century. According to this, the lord Vishnu was crowned as the actual ruler of the kingdom and the king became his servant 'Padmanabha Dasa". With this, Sri Padmanabha became the "actual" head of the state of Travancore, assuming the title Perumal or the Emperor. The women folk of the royal family were known as "Padmanabha Dasinis" again female servants of the lord Padmanabha. In an orthodox Hindu society, attacking the lord's kingdom would have been sacrilege. People did and do actually believe that the lord has been administering Thiruvananthapuram and acting through the contemporary ruler. The British Government saluted the Lord with a 21-gun salute, a military tradition of colonial days, which was continued by the Indian Army until the abolition of the privy purses (in a way de-legitimizing any royal claims), by Government of India when Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister. The royal insignia of the Lord, the Valampiri Shankhu or dextral conch-shell, served as the State emblem of Travancore and even continued so for some time after the re-organization of the States. Sri Padmanabha is still regarded as the presiding deity of Thiruvananthapuram.

The name Thiruvananthapuram may be split into three-Thiru- Anantha-Puram, which means the city of the Holy Anantha. Anantha is the mythical, cosmic serpent with a thousand heads, on whose coils Lord Vishnu (Padmanabha) reclines. Though the temple had existed long before, it was rebuilt and brought to prominence by the King Marthanda Varma of the Travancore Royal family when, in 1745, he shifted the Travancore capital from Padamanabhapuram in the south (today in the neighboring State of Tamil Nadu) to Thiruvananthapuram. As mentioned earlier having done the "thrippadidhanam" he started reigning as 'Padmanabha Dasa', the servant and representative of Lord Padmanabha--perhaps a nobler variant of the 'Divine Right Theory' that the West is familiar with.

The ancient land of Thiruvananthapuram was built upon seven hills and having played a vital role in Kerala politics has kept pace with evolution and today has grown into a sprawling metropolis. Yet, she still retains her past glory and old charm, that is visible from the old quarter of the city clustered in and around the East Fort, a protected landmark that dates back to the Royal days. What perhaps is special about the ambience of Thiruvananthapuram is the wonderful blend of the strongly traditional, the nostalgically Colonial and the outright modern elements, be it in architecture, in food or in the dress and manners of her people.

Adding to its legend and stature is the belief that the ships of King Solomon landed on ones of its prominent ports called Ophir (modern name Poovar) in 1036 BC. However, the ancient political and cultural history of the city was almost entirely independent from that of the rest of Kerala.

The rise of modern Thiruvananthapuram began with accession of Marthanda Varma in 1729 as the founding ruler of the princely state of Travancore. Thiruvananthapuram was made the capital of Travancore in 1745. The city developed into a major intellectual and artistic centre during this period. The golden age in the city's history was during the mid 19th century under the reign of Maharaja Swathi Thirunal (the great musician) and Maharaja Ayilyam Thirunal.

With the end of the British rule in India in 1947, the glory days of the royal rule were finally over and Travancore (the kingdom was originally called such) was merged with the Indian union. The state of Kerala was formed on November 1, 1956 and in accordance with its stature, Thiruvananthapuram became the capital of the new state.

Despite a royal past, Thiruvananthapuram has kept up with the times. Apart from having the pride of being the capital of India's most literate and socially developed state, Thiruvananthapuram is a strategically important city in Southern India. With a fledgling country desperately wanting to establish itself in the field of science, chose Thiruvananthapuram to be the cradle of India's ambitious and now successful space programme. The presence of Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS) in 1962, the first Indian space rocket was developed and launched from the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) located in the outskirts of the city in 1963. Several establishments of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) were later established in Thiruvananthapuram. It is also important from the military logistics and civil aviation point of view falling under the international air route. It is also very close to the international shipping route and East-West shipping axis.

The establishment of Technopark-India's first IT Park in 1995 helped in its metamorphosis as a modern city. Technopark has developed into the largest IT Park in India and third largest in Asia and is home to some of the global IT giants and has fostered the development of the "knowledge warrior". It employs more than 50,000 such warriors and these highly paid people have also contributed to its economic uplift. Thiruvananthapuram was and will always remain a prominent and contemporarily important location on the map of India.

Located at 8°30?N76°54?E? /?8.5°N 76.9°E? / 8.5; 76.9 on the west coast, near the southern tip of mainland India, Thiruvananthapuram is built on hills by the sea shore. The city and the suburbs cover an area of about 250 square kilometers, sandwiched between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea. The average elevation is 16 ft from the sea level. District Area: 2192 km².

The area can be divided into two geographical regions, the lowlands, midlands and highlands. The lowland is a narrow stretch comprising shorelines, rivers and deltas, dotted with coconut palms. Vellayani Lake, biggest fresh water lake in the district is in the suburbs of the city. The major rivers that flow through the city are the Karamana River, and the Killi River. The midland region comprises low hills and valleys adjoining the Ghats. The eastern suburbs of the city fall within the highlands, whose highest point in the district is the Agasthyakudam which rises 1890 m above sea level. Ponmudi and Mukkunimala are hill-stations near the city.

The regal land is blessed with a long shoreline, dotted with internationally renowned beaches, historic monuments, backwater stretches and a rich cultural heritage converting this into a much sought after tourist destination. With a tradition dating back to 1000BC, lies on a small strip of land with plenty of coconut & palm trees, and an active trading post for spices, sandalwood, ivory etc.

Thiruvananthapuram has a rich cultural background thanks to the rulers of erstwhile Travancore, who took an active interest in the development of arts and culture. Thiruvananthapuram has produced several great artists, the most famous ones being Maharaja Swathi Thirunal (musician) and Raja Ravi Varma (painter). Maharaja Swathi Thirunal was a great composer and played a vital role in the development of Carnatic music. There is a music college in his name in the city - Swathi Thirunal College of Music. Raja Ravi Varma was an illustrious painter of international renown. His contributions to Indian art are substantial.

Ancient history
While most parts of Kerala were dominated by the Brahmin Namboodhiris, Thiruvananthapuram was under the Ay dynasty, a clan known for its rich traditional and religious heritage. The Ays were the leading political power till the beginning of the 10th century A.D. and its writ extended from Nagerkovil in the South to Thiruvalla in the North. The Ays were caught in between the constant and recurring tussle for political power between the Chera-Chola dynasties (powerful entities of south India fighting for dominance of the region) wars from 999 to 1110 A.D. All of the regions were attacked and sacked by the Chola army, till they were forced to retreat to Kottar in 1110 A.D. The annihilation of the Ay dynasty led to the emergence of the rulers of Venad. Under the Ays, the most prominent city was Vizhinjham which had a famous port of the same name and also housed a famous university (Kanthalur Salai). The Venad rulers set up efficient administrative systems and the kingdom saw its pinnacle under the King, Udaya Marthanda. The Venad rule brought about development of Kerala into a capital of art and learning. Ravi Varma Kulashekhara was a renowned scholar and musician. He became the mentor for artists, musicians, poets of Thiruvananthapuram. A great writer himself, he has penned the Sanskrit play "Pradyumnabhyudayam". The pro-active rule of the Venads made Thiruvananthapuram, the region then known by the name of Travancore, a bustling trading center.

According to legends, the Padamanabhapuram temple existed from earlier times thus lending the land a certain divine sanction. Though the Venad royal family remained the last ruling family in the region, establishing its authority was not an easy affair. Since Padmanabhaswami temple was the pivot around which life revolved, acquiring control of its affair was a strategic prerogative. The tussle between royalty and the traditional administrators of the temple was inevitable. During their rule, the trustees of the temple (Ettarayogam) became powerful enough to challenge the authority of the rulers. The king Raja Aditya Varma was poisoned by them, and five out of six children of Umayamma Rani were murdered by them. After the death of Aditya Varma, the kingdom was under the regency of Umayamma Rani. During this time, Travancore was invaded by a Mughal adventurer, Mughal Sirdar, forcing the Rani to take refuge in Nedumangad. The Sardar camped in the suburbs of the present day Thiruvananthapuram, till he was defeated by Kerala Varma, a prince from the Kottayam royal family, adopted into the Venad royal family. The Rani was brought back in triumph to Thiruvananthapuram, but in 1696 A.D., Kottayam Kerala Varma the hero was assassinated by the temple trustees within the precincts of his own palace in a daring act. Though eventually, through deceit, blood and iron, the control of the temple affairs came to the hands of the royal family thus eventually offering their rule legitimacy. The temple has always remained the key for sanctity to rule.

The regency of Umayamma Rani was crucial in the history of Thiruvananthapuram since it was during her regency in 1684, that the English East India Company obtained a sandy piece of land at Anchuthengu (land o the five coconut trees-Anjengo (anglicized) on the sea coast, about 32 km north of Thiruvananthapuram city, for erecting a factory and fortifying it. The place had earlier been frequented by the Portuguese and later by the Dutch. It was from here that the English gradually extended their domain to other parts of Thiruvithamkoor anglicized as Travancore. One may say this transaction with the British eventually proved a turning point for the Venad royal family as the British eventually took control of the affairs of the region with very limited powers left in the hands of its original rulers.

Though Portuguese were the first Europeans to land on the West coast of Kerala in the early sixteenth century, it was the Dutch who built dominated the trade. By the middle of 1600, the Dutch had entrenched themselves firmly in Travancore. Their dominance was disturbed by the invasion of the Mysore strongman Haider Ali and his son Tipu Sultan. With the ascension of Marthanda Varma and his strong rule literally drove the Dutch out from the region. The exit of the Dutch led the way for the British domination. With south Indian rulers weakened by constant wars, the British saw an opportunity for itself. They started their campaign to oust all the European countries trading in the region by the end 1600s they ended up not just as dominant traders but as rulers of most parts of the Kerala including the Travancore. The only resistance to British dominance was put up by the French which was effectively thwarted. The East India Company had finally "arrived" in Kerala. It was a long journey "having started with a small "factory" at Anchuthengu-a small sandy strip, bought from then ruler Umayamma Rani, they ended up as rulers. Though the Venad family continued as regal heads with diluted powers mainly related to agrarian affairs, till the independence of India on 15th August, 1947, it was the British who were truly kings.

Conclusion: Despite the ascendancy of some strong rulers like Marthanda Varma, the politics and economy of Kerala was dominated by foreign powers predominantly Europeans. Even "God" who was the "real" ruler couldn't prevent this domination by foreign powers. In a way, Thiruvananthapuram's history is Kerala's history in turn India's history.

Padmanabha Swamy Temple-the axis mundi

A must on every tourist's itinerary, the ancient Padmanabhaswami temple is believed to be one of the 108 shrines (divyadesams) sacred to the Vaishnavites (followers of God Vishnu) in India. Architecture has the power of dominating the mind of the masses and the sheer size of its 100-feet-high (with seven stories) gopuram (tower) soaring majestically skywards does not fail to evoke an awe-inspiring experience. Within its hallowed precincts, the main pavilion impresses with its 400 beautiful pillars carved out of granite. The temple has a corridor with 365 and one-quarter sculptured granite-stone pillars with elaborate carvings. This corridor extends from the eastern side into the sanctum sanctorum.The stone basement of the tower is covered with elaborate sculptures and the masonry above is replete with ornamental works of figures from the Puranas and other ancient Hindu scriptures. Tapering towards the top, it bears the statue of Garuda, the vehicle of Lord Vishnu. The temple stands by the side of a tank, called Padma Theertham (meaning spring of the lotus). An eighty-foot flag-staff stands in front of the main entry from the 'prakaram' (corridor). The ground floor under the gopuram (main entrance in the eastern side) is known as the 'Nataka-Shala' where the famous temple art, Kathakali was staged in the night during the ten-day uthsavam (festival) conducted twice a year, during the Malayalam months of Meenam and Thulam.

Well guarded with a number of massive doors, the sanctum sanctorum or Garbhagriha is carved out of a single stone and hence called "Ottakkal Mandapam" (meaning pavilion carved out of a single rock). In order to perform darshan and puja, one has to climb on to the "Ottakkal Mandapam". The deity is huge and is visible through three doors - Face of the Lord and Siva Linga underneath his hand in the first door, Brahma seated on lotus emanating from the Lord's navel along with the "Uthsava Moorthi" and idols of Lord Maha Vishnu, Sridevi and Bhudevi in the second door and the Lord's feet in the third door. The deity, Padmanabha, is depicted Lying in a reclining position over the serpent Anantha or Adi Sesha in the form of Maha-Vishnu in Yoganidra posture. This sleep of the lord has been called Anananthasayanam (eternal cosmic sleep). The serpent has his face pointed upwards, as if enjoying the smell emanating from the lotus held in his left hand. The idol is made up of 10,008 Salagramas (stones from water bodies considered to be symbolic of Vishnu). These Salagramas were procured from the banks of the river Gandaki in Nepal, brought with much ceremony on elephants.

Only the King of Travancore may perform the Namaskaram, or bow prostrate on this "Ottakkal Mandapam". Since the idol of the Lord is also on this "Ottakkal Mandapam", anybody who bows prostrate, or any material object that is kept here, henceforth belongs to the Lord. Here, the King is called a "Padmanabha Dasa", or a "servant" of Vishnu.

There are other important shrines inside the temple dedicated to other Hindu deities like Narasimha, Krishna, Ayyappa, Ganesha, Hanuman, Vishwaksena, Garuda etc. It was recently discovered that the main idol is entirely cast in gold except for the face and chest. Katu-sarkara-yogam, a dark colored ayurvedic paste used to keep flies and pests away was applied on the entire idol in order to disguise its intrinsic medium in order to thwart its looting the Muslim invaders

Keeping with its reputation as a centre of power, several kings, queens, other members of royalty and nobility have also built their palaces and mansions in and around the temple. It may be said that the region around the temple formed the sanctum sanctorum of Thiruvananthapuram.

Padmanabhaswami Temple stands at a place considered as one of the seven Parashurama Kshetras; texts including the Puranas, particularly the Skanda Purana and Padma Purana, have references for this shrine. According to tradition, it is located on the place where Vishnu revealed himself to sages Divakara Swami and Vilvamangalam Swami. There are many legends regarding the origin of the temple. One story describes that a Pulaya (one of the lowest castes in the discriminatory caste system) couple was given the darshan by Vishnu in the form of a child. The child took morsels of rice from the hands of the couple (in those days when Untouchability was practices, the lord taking food from a Pulaya couple was rather melodramatic). During this time, the sage Divakara passed by and he recognised the "boy" and he took the first food item he saw which was an Unripe Mango and using a coconut shell as an offering plate, he paid his obeisance. In memory of this legend, even today the naivedyam or the offering to the laity after a pooja is prepared from rice and is offered to the deity in a coconut shell. Another version describes that the Sage Divakara prayed to the God Krishna for a darshan. Krishna (a manifestation of Vishnu) gave an audience but in the guise as a small, mischievous boy. The boy swallowed the Salagrama (sacred stone symbolizing God Vishnu) which was being prayed to. The Sage was enraged at this act and chased the boy. He in fear hid himself behind a tree. The tree collapsed and took the form of Vishnu in Anantha Shayanam. But the form was of extraordinarily large proportions. The sage was amazed and overwhelmed by this life-altering experience. He was unable to fathom the entire form due to its sheer size and pleaded the form may be shrunk enough for him to see and circumambulate in devotion. The Lord respecting the sage's vision shrink to a smaller proportion - thrice the length of his staff and told the sage that he should be worshipped through three doors. These doors are now the doors in the temple through which the idol may be viewed. Through the first door, the worship is offered to Shiva; through the second entrance to Brahma on the Lord's lotus navel, and through the third is Vishnu's feet, which are said to lead to salvation.

The temple is known for major festivals. Two of them are celebrated bi-annually-the Alpashy festival in October/November and the Painkuni festival in March/April, lasting for 10 days each. These festivals culminate with the performance of the Pallivetta (Royal hunt) and Aarattu (Holy bath) -the two important rituals held as part of the festivals in some of the major temples in Kerala. The uniqueness of the Aarattu at Sree Padmanabhaswami temple is that the head of the royal family of the erstwhile Travancore kingdom still escorts the idols during the procession donning his traditional attire. During Pallivetta the head of the royal family shoots a tender coconut using a bow and arrow. This ritual is symbolic of Lord Vishnu hunting down the demon of evil in a forest and is held in front of the Sundara-vilasam Palace inside the Thiruvananthapuram fort. The Aarat or the holy bath after taken in a procession to the Shankumugham Beach. The idols of Padmanabhaswami, Krishna and Narasimha are given a ritual bathe in the sea, after the prescribed poojas. After this ceremony, the idols are taken back to the temple as a procession in the light of traditional torches, marking the conclusion of the festival. It is also famous for Navaratri festival wherein the mother goddess is venerated in different manifestations including that of Saraswati & Durga. This festival lasts for 9 days. The iconic Swathi Thirunal (a famous musician-king) music festival is held every year during this festival that attracts musicians from all over the country and is a musical-feast.

Another biggest festival associated with this temple is the "Laksha-deepam", which means the lighting of a hundred thousand lamps. This unique festival is unique and happens once in 6 years. In preparation of the festival, prayers from the Vedas (holy texts of the Hindus) are recited for 56 days and with the commencement of the festival, a hundred thousand oil lamps are lit in and around the temple premises. The reflection of the bright gopura is visible on the Padma Theertham and is an awesome sight. The last Laksha-deepam was in 2008 and the next one is slated to be held on January 2014

Other prominent places to visit (just a few of them):

(1) The Napier Museum- it is named after the former governor of Madras, General John Napier. The building with its profusion of gables and turrets is beautiful and the outcome of the creative thoughts of the English architect Chisholm. It is a product of ecclectical ideas and combines varying architectural styles. It is located within the aptly named museum compound and close to the iconic Kanakakunnu (golden hill) Palace. A repository of fine works of art, it displays rare archaeological and historical artifacts including bronze idols, ivory carvings, Stone sculptures and ornaments dating from 11th century to the 18th century. The chief attraction here is the 250-year-old temple car made for Lord Vishnu (Padmanabha), artistically designed and ornamented. Besides this, objects carved out of wood, models of temple, antique jewelry, etc., make the museum worth a visit. The museum better known as Thiruvananthapuram museum or Art museum was built in 1855 making it the oldest in Kerala.

(2) Sree Chithra Art Gallery is also located within the Museum compound and displays a rare collection of paintings. Its main attractions are paintings by Raja Ravi Varma, Nicholas Roerich, Rabindranath Tagore, Jamimi Roy, K. K. Hebar, along with miniatures from the Rajput and Mughal schools of painting and the famous Tanjore paintings encrusted with semi-precious stones and mural paintings typifying malayali culture. It also exhibits paintings from around the world including China, Japan, Tibet and Bali. It was inaugurated the KingChithira Thirunal in 1935. The most important collection includes rare mural paintings dating back to the pre historic time. The Sree Chithra Enclave is located adjacent to the gallery. This is a museum that depicts the history of the Travancore Royal Family and displays their personal belongings and artifacts including old newspaper clippings.

(3) Palace museum also known as the Kuthira Malika (Puthenmalika) Palace: It islocated on the eastern entrance of the Padmanabhaswami temple. It has a good collection of many antique items used during the reign of the Travancore kings. The museum is well maintained and has artifacts, paintings, wood carvings, huge chandeliers, Belgian glass mirrors, marble sculptures, weapons, portraits of Travancore kings & their thrones. Being an erstwhile royal building built by famous musician-King Swathi Thirunal in 1844, it is also a walk into the haloed residence of the kings. The building is called Kuthiramalika(Horse palace) because the palace exterior has a lot of wooden horse figures carved into it. This beautiful, two storied, 80-room palace was built based on the traditional Kerala architecture.

(4) The Kanakakunnu Palace. The red and white colored Palace is one of the major tourist attractions of the city. It is located well within its centre. Located besides the Napier Museum, it is an architectural classic is often the venue for exhibitions and cultural programs. It was originally commissioned by the then Travancore King, Moolam Thirunal and built on the crest of a small hill surrounded by meadows and grooves, it was used to hold royal banquets.

(5) Navarathri Mandapam: It islocated adjacent to the Padmanabha Swami temple, near the Kuthira Malika Palace. It is the venue of the 10-day annual Navarathri celebrations.

(6) Sree Parashurama Temple, Thiruvallam- The temple lies six kilometers south from the city, on the Thiruvananthapuram-Kovalam road. According to the prevailing local traditions, this temple is2000 years old temple and lies on the banks of Karamana River. Origin myths of Kerala attribute its creation to the warrior-sage Parashurama (an avatar of lord Vishnu). It is the only temple in Kerala dedicated to him. Ancestor-worship being widely prevalent in Kerala, this is "the" spot for 'Balitharpanam' (annual offering to dead for the peace of their soul). The temple is a protected monument and had been dated back to the 13th century.

(7) Shanmugham Beach- Another splendid beach, it is located close to the airport 8 kilometers from the city. It is the best place to watch sunset. The famous 35 m long "Matsya Kanyaka' (the mermaid) sculpture designed by the local artist Kanayi Kunjiraman is an added attraction here. One may see a few palaces, old pavilions etc in and around the beach.

(8) Kovalam- The iconic beach of Kerala known as the "Paradise of the South", is located 16 kilometers from Thiruvananthapuram city has been on the tourists' radar since the 1930's. The name in local vernacular means "a grove of coconut trees" and true to its name the village offers an endless sight of coconut trees. It consists of two adjacent beaches- 'Samudra' and the 'Howah'. The Howah beach has black sand and is a contrast to the pristine white sands of Kovalam. There is an Lighthouse that stands as a sentinel to the old times when merchant ships from other lands would arrive for trading. These beaches are close to the Vizhinjham port.

(9) Vizhinjham Rock Cut Cave Temple: dating backto the18th century, these cave temples are dedicated to Vinandhara Dakshinamurthi (a benevolent manifestation of the destroyer among the Hindu trinity lord Shiva). It is about 17 kilometers from the Thiruvananthapuram city. Located between a small well maintained garden, it also has sculptures related to Lord Siva and Parvathy. The cave is a recent discovery.

(10) Varkala: it is an important Hindu pilgrimage center in this region. Its fame originates from the presence of the 'Papanasham' (Papanasham means redemption from sins or destruction of sins) beach, The Janardhana Swami Temple (2000 years old according to "legends") and Sivagiri. The Papanasham beach also known as the Varkala beach lies 45 kilometers away from Thiruvananthapuram. It is also ideal for viewing the sunset. Red laterite cliffs' overlooking the beach is the main attraction. According to mythology, the sage Naradha created the place Varkala with his 'Valkalam' (cloth made of the bark of a tree), and he advised his disciples to pray sitting along the seashore for their salvation. The Janardhana Swami temple deifies Lord Siva, Lord Krishna and Hanuman as important deities. Though non-Hindus are not permitted to enter the inner sanctum of the temple, others can see around the temple. Sivagiri is the final resting place of the great social reformer Sree Narayana Guru and lies on a hilltop 3 kilometers from Varkala at Sivagiri. A caste-ridden asymmetrical society Kerala was described by Swami Vivekananda as a "madhouse". It was Narayana Guru who himself belonged to the backward "Ezhava community" who tried effectively to bring about a change in such outdated thinking processes. His motto was "one caste", "one religion" and "One god for entire mankind". He has been deified and continues to be the symbol of Kerala's struggle for social equality.

World Body Painting Festival Asia sway

World Body Painting Festival Asia sway

World Body Painting Festival Asia sway

World Body Painting Festival Asia sway

World Body Painting Festival Asia sway

World Body Painting Festival Asia sway

As one of our planet's oldest holidays, Halloween is celebrated in many ways, dependent upon which part of the world is being considered. The primary language group of a particular country or culture seems to be an important clue as to the nature of the festivities.

Let's take an alphabetical wander around the world:

AUSTRIA - Before going to bed for the night, Austrians will leave bread, water, and a lighted lamp out for visitors from the spirit world in the hopes that those items would offer hospitality to the dead souls coming back to Earth at a time the Austrians considered to be vital with powerful cosmic energies.

BELGIUM - Belgians seem not to care for black cats around Halloween; they feel it is extremely unlucky for a black cat to cross one's approach or if the cat should walk into a home or voyage on a ship. The memory of dead relatives is honored with lit candles.

CANADA - Our neighbor to the north, Canada, began celebrating Halloween upon the arrival of Scottish and Irish settlers in the 1800s. Very much like the festivities in the United States, Canadians carve Jack O' Lanterns, have parties, go trick-or-treating, and decorate their homes and yards in rustic, harvest themes of pumpkins and corn stalks.

CZECHOSLOVAKIA - On Halloween night, Czechs arrange chairs around the family fireplace, leaving one for each member of the family and one for each depaeted family member's spirit.

ENGLAND - In times gone by, English children used large beet roots to create "punkies", carving designs of their own choosing. Carrying the "punkies" along the streets (like our plastic Jack O' Lanterns/flashlight combos?), the children sing the "Punkie Night Song", knocking on doors and asking for money. Out in the countryside, lanterns made of turnips were situated on gateposts to enable the homes to be liberated from the free-roaming Halloween spirits.

Another custom involved lightly throwing items such as small rocks, vegetables, and nuts into an open-air fire in an attempt to scare off the malevolent spirits and also used as fortunetelling tools. If a stone was neither visible in the morning nor if it had been moved, it was the accepted belief that to whom the pebble belonged would die within the year.

Most importantly, upon Martin Luther's posting of the 95 Theses of the Protestant Revolution on Halloween, October 31, 1517, England's celebration of Halloween trickled off. The British saw no reason to celebrate the Eve of All Saint's Day since they no longer believed in the Saints of the Catholic Church.

In recent times, English children have joined their American cousins in wearing costumes and going trick-or-treating from door to door. Unfortunately, many older British adults do not understand this "new" custom and are often caught ill-prepared in showering their young visitors with sweets.

FRANCE - The French do not celebrate Halloween with the purpose of ancestor worship foremost in their minds. The holiday is considered an American festivity and as such, it was literally unknown in France until about 1996.

GERMANY - Germans put their knives away on Halloween night so that accidental risk will not visit upon returning spirits.

IRELAND - Ireland is believed to be the birthplace of Halloween and the holiday is as popular in Ireland as it is in the United States. Bonfires are lit as they were in ancient times and children go trick-or-treating in costume around their own neighborhoods. At the end of the trick-or-treating, families and friends attend parties where many games are played. The popular "snap-apple" involves an apple tied to a string which in turn is tied to a tree or doorway; party goers try to get a bite out of the dangling apple. Some say this practice is unsanitary but it certainly is fun. Card games hiding prizes are popular with the children.

One of the favorite traditional Irish foods eaten on Halloween is "barnbrack", a kind of fruitcake which is either baked at home or can be store-bought. A treat that has been wrapped in muslin is baked inside the cake and it is said that it will foretell the future of the person finding it. If the treat is a ring, a wedding will soon take place and if a piece of straw is hidden, a prosperous year will visit upon the lucky winner.

SWEDEN - The Swedes call Halloween "Alla Helgons Dag" and extend its celebration from October 31st to November 6th. "Alla Helgons Dag" Eve is either celebrated at night or it became a shortened working day. The Friday before All Saint's Day is a shortened day for universities and younger, school-aged children have a day of vacation.

Halloween practice in Asia puts definite emphasis on ancestor worship.

CHINA - The Chinese celebrate the Halloween festival of "Teng Chieh". On that night, offerings of food and water are arranged in front of photographs of deceased family members and bonfires and lanterns are ignited or lit to mark the path s of the roaming ancestral spirits as they journey the Earth on Halloween night. At Buddhist temples, the faithful shape paper "boats of the law", some of which are extremely large, and then burn them during the evening. This custom serves two purposes: to remember the dead and to free the spirits of the "pretas" so they will be able to rise up to Heaven. "Pretas" are the spirits of those relatives who met with a harsh death due to an accident or drowning and whose bodies have yet to be buried. The Chinese believe the presence of "pretas" among the living to be dangerous. Guided by Buddhist temples, societies are created to perform ceremonies for the "pretas", including lighting lanterns. Sacred verses are recited by monks and offerings of fruit are made.

HONG KONG - "Yue Lan" (Festival of the Hungry Ghosts) is the name of the Halloween celebration in Hong Kong. Residents believe that spirits rove the world for twenty-four hours. Pictures of fruit or money are burned at this time in the hopes of reaching the spirit world and offering solace to the ghosts.

JAPAN - Instead of Halloween, the Japanese celebrate the " Obon Festival" (otherwise known as "Matsuri" or "Urabon), celebrating the spirits of ancestors. There is preparation of special foods and bright red lanterns are hung everywhere. Lit candles are placed into the lanterns which are then set afloat on rivers and seas. During the "Obon Festival", a fire is ignited every night to illuminate where the departed ancestors might find their families. There are two main occasions during the Japanese Halloween, "Obon" being one of them, when it is believed the dead return to their birthplaces. Community dances are performed and memorial stones are cleaned. The "Obon Festival" takes place in July or August, rather than in October.

KOREA - Koreans celebrate "Chusok", a festival similar to Halloween. Families take the time to thank their departed ancestors for the fruits of their labors. Families visit their tombs, making offerings of fruits and rice. "Chusok" takes place during August.

Spanish-speaking countries, such as Mexico, those countries in Latin America, and Spain celebrate 'El Dia de los Muertos" - the "Day of Death". Instead of being a sad occasion, family and friends gather together to remember those who have died. Although it is officially commemorated on November 2nd (All Soul's Day), the celebrations last three days, beginning on the evening of October 31st. Believing the dead return to their homes on Halloween, it is a common practice for families to construct a home altar and to decorate it with candy, flowers, photographs, fresh water, and small portions of the deceased's favorite foods and beverages. Often, a wash basin and towel are left out so that the spirit might be able to wash up before enjoying the feast. Incense and candles are burned to help the departed spirit find his or her home. Families also spruce up the gravesites of the deceased by clipping weeds, painting, and making general repairs. Once tidied up, the grave is decorated with flowers, wreaths, or paper streamers. Frequently, a live person will climb into an otherwise empty casket which is paraded through the streets, vendors tossing fruit, flowers, and candies into the coffin. On November 2nd, families assemble at the gravesite to have a picnic and to reminisce about the dearly departed. Some of these gatherings become so involved they might even include tequila and a mariachi band. The Fall season in Mexico is the time when untold numbers of Monarch butterflies take shelter in Mexico's oyamel fir trees; the Aztecs believed these butterflies carried the spirits of dead ancestors.

Body painting International ...

Body painting International ...

Body painting International ...

Body painting International ...

Body painting International ...

The 2010 World Cup started last June 11 2010 and will end July 11 2010 in South Africa. This is the first time that the tournament will be held in an African Nation. The FIFA World Cup is the sport that is most watched internationally. The soccer tournament is the most significant sporting gathering not only because of their well skilled popular team or country players, but also because of each National Team's hot female beauties that took part in the current 2010 body paint.

The beautiful hot female beauties that took part in the current soccer games 2010 body paint used impressive art as way of body make up. The hot female beauties have their body only painted while exposing themselves in the World Cup 2010. These hot female beauties with their bodies only painted have contributed much to the success of the worlds most prestigious and sought football tournament or the FIFA.

The World Cup 2010 work of art on the sexy female models features sexy outfits that quite resemble the different jerseys of the FIFA soccer tournament 2010 players depending on the country they represent. Some soccer tournament 2010 body paint features sexy swim suits underneath the skimpy FIFA soccer games 2010 jerseys. The way that the jerseys are painted in each of the body of the hot female beauties is an artistic feat that is out of this world.

The soccer finals 2010 body paint is truly artistic and something to look forward to when watching the FIFA soccer games 2010 aside from its breath taking FIFA matches. There are a couple of artistically impressive grand soccer finals 2010 body arts photographs in the internet which are a sneak peak of what the World Cup 2010 body paint has to offer.

body painting at the clothing show

body painting at the clothing show

Figurative painting reflects deep understanding of the artists, as it is depiction of the anatomy of human body. While painting a figure, an artist tries showing the emotions through such paintings. It is an endeavor to recreate the psyche of the person painted or portrayed. A painter does so using his or her artistic skill. The master artists do so in the gentlest manner possible, as figurative painting would also require recreations of some of the gestures of the model. By doing so, a painter forges his or her reputation as an artist.

However the figurative painting in general and painting of men and women without clothes in particular have remained a bone of contention since ancient time. Whether they are rulers, politicians, scholars or religious leaders, all have opposed depicting cloth-less human bodies from time to time. But the clan of artists desiring to recreate the beauty of human form on their canvases have never bowed down to any social, political or religious pressure. They have applied their artistic prowess adoring the beauty of the male and female figures on papers, on canvases and on the altars of temples and churches.

The paintings done by artists like Botticelli, Rembrandt, William Bouguereau, Paul Gauguin or John Godward are considered as major links to the history of art of painting. It is because the artists love doing figurative painting. Moreover many of them have worked when the whole society stood on a crossroad. When artists function in a time that would decide the future of coming generations, such artists would play a consolidating role in many aspects. They help changing the age-old traditions and outdated philosophies.

If we look at the paintings done by artists like Rembrandt or Rossetti, we feel that the figures painted seem desiring to create a connecting bridge between the viewers on one hand and the painting on another. It is deep wishes of all the artists to appeal heads and hearts of those who see their artworks. Figurative painters have better options to do it nicely, as they are to deal with recreating the real human beings on their canvases.

Sometimes the so-called social police ask the artists about the purpose of their selecting cloth-less women as subject for depiction of their art. Artists have ready answers for that. The main motive of these artists to paint women without clothes is to spread a message of love and peace, as the women figure represents both of the passions.

Body Painting beauty If you like ...

Body Painting beauty If you like ...

Although tattoos have become all the rage in the west of recent years, I still have to say that I think tattoos on woman, and particularly big tattoos and those on the arms, neck, and face, are nothing short of grotesque. I wonder how many of these young women think about how they will look when they are old ladies bouncing their grandchildren up and down on their laps with floppy images that have become impossible to recognize due to aging flesh!

Hmm! Anyway, that's enough of my opinions of the permanent markings of young adults as I'd like to write about the entertaining and temporary way to paint the body and in particular the face. That's right, kids are getting into body art too but for them it's fun, it's amusing, and most importantly, it's washable.

Face painting designs come in all forms from fairies, butterflies, and pretty patterns for the girls, and perhaps dragons, beasts and ghouls for the boys. In fact, face paintings are limited only by the designers own imagination. One thing's for sure, the kids love having their faces painted and it's just great to see them get excited as they flick through the catalogue of face painting designs.

Clowns are perhaps the most popular for the lads whereas the beautiful butterfly designs are favored by the girls. Butterfly designs are more difficult and often the wingspan is stretched across the face from eyebrow to eyebrow and down along the cheek bones.

Whichever face paint designs your kids prefer, the good news is that you can find these face painters quite easily nowadays and it's not just for summer fun either. Parties, Halloween, Christmas, Easter, in fact you name it there are themes for every occasion or quiet often, it's simply a treat for the kids just for being good.

But here's the weird thing! Face painting used to just be popular among the kids, but now many adults are getting into the fad too and one fashionable form of new-age face painting for grownups involves decorating a face according to a famous painting such as the Mona Lisa for example, or American Gothic. These are really fascinating to look at as they also include the picture frame into the design. National flags, and maps are becoming common too, especially at sporting events.

I guess it's nice to see folks lightening up in a world that seems to be increasingly more hostile and serious. Let the kids be kids and the adults be childlike, that's what I say! Face paining designs definitely bring out the spirit of fun and laughter into any event. Oh, and don't forget, although it's the face that gets painted the most, you can actually get any part of your body decorated with this washable art, so don't be coy!

Just to finish on, as I started with rather a harsh criticism of tattoos and women, I'd just like to mention that there is a growing trend with temporary tattoos which last on the skin for a few days. As there are no dress rehearsals regarding permanent tattoos, I always think it's a good idea to get a temporary tattoo of about the same size and design placed where you want the permanent one to go. This will give you a few days to decide whether if it's really what you want of not. Have fun!

Body painting has stirred debate in ...

Body painting has stirred debate in ...

'Dye' your hair naturally, with no chemicals, no lead, no artificial dyes. Commercially available Hair Coloring uses chemicals that remove, replace, or enhance the natural pigments in the hair shaft. There are many adverse effects that can result from their use.

- skin irritation, itching, burning, irritation, redness, discomfort
- allergies to the chemicals like PPD (p-Phenylenediamine)
- hair breakage or weakening, over-processing
- skin discoloration or drying
- unpredictable coloring (mostly with at home dyes)

As well as the undesirable effects listed above, there are more serious health concerns that are potential problems from chemical hair colorants. While there is some debate as to the reality of the problems from hair coloring, the risk simply does not need to be taken.

There are publications regarding the dangers of hair dyes including:

- An FDA study that found lead acetate in many dyes to be toxic.
- Articles that refer to the development of some forms of cancer including leukemia, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, bladder cancer, blood cancer, and multiple myeloma as a result of hair dye usage.
- Prolonged use of permanent dark hair dyes can potentially double a person's risk of getting various types of blood cancer.
- Some experts suspect that hair bleach can kill brain cells.
- A known human carcinogen, 4-ABP, was found in some home hair dyes.

Natural hair colorants such as the plant powders Henna, Indigo, Cassia, and Amla (click on each to read more about it) can safely be used to enhance or change your hair color. They are plant powders that are mixed with lemon juice, water, and/or yogurt, in your own home, to make a paste that is applied to your hair and scalp.

Because they are natural, and do not strip the natural pigment from your hair, the color you get from these powders will depend on the color of the hair you are coloring. For instance, henna alone used on white hair will produce red, while straight henna on brown hair will result in auburn hair.

These powders are safe to use on chemically treated or dyed hair, also. They are safe to use as often as you wish. If you color your hair with these powders and get a color that is not dark enough, you can easily deepen it with another application.

It does take a few days to realize the final color of your treatment, since the color will continue to settle into the hair shaft for a couple of days, due to the oxidation process. This natural process occurs as the plant colorants are exposed to the air similar, to how a cut apple turns brown with time.

You're likely to find that most hairdressers are "anti-henna" since they have only been exposed to "compound" hennas mixed with dyes, lead acetate or other metal fixants in them. Our powders are pure leaf powders with no fixants or anything else in it. You can be assured it is the best quality and will not give poor results.

As with any product, test for allergic reactions. You should also try the paste on a small sample of hair (take hair out of your hairbrush for this) to see what the resultant color will be on your hair.


If you are using Amla, or Indigo you do not need to premix the powder with lemon juice. ONLY HENNA or CASSIA NEED TO BE MIXED WITH LEMON JUICE AND SIT OVERNIGHT. Indigo and Amla can be mixed and combined with the henna when you are ready to apply it.

Whatever combination of powders you use, follow these guidelines in mixing:

100g combined powders for short hair

200g for collar length straight hair

300g for shoulder length straight hair

500g for waist length straight hair

Please note that these are starting guidelines and your hair may need more or less.

Mix henna or cassia with enough lemon juice to make a paste with the consistency of mashed potatoes. If your skin is sensitive to lemon and is itchy after using henna, use orange juice, grapefruit juice, or a liquid that is less acidic than lemon juice.

Cover the container of paste with plastic wrap and let it rest overnight at room temperature or in a warm area. As the henna or cassia rests, the acid in the lemon juice will release the color from the plant powder. This slow, acidic release will get you the best results. If you're in a hurry, put it in a warm place, but NOT a hot place! Your henna will be ready in two hours at 95F.

Once the paste is done sitting, stir in a little more lemon juice or a fragrant tea to make the paste about as thick as yogurt. Add a little at a time to get the right consistency.

For Indigo or Amla, simply mix with enough water to make a paste the consistency of yogurt. This does not need lemon juice. Simply use warm water, adding a bit at a time so it doesn't become too thin. Once your Indigo or Amla is mixed, you can stir all your pastes together that you plan on mixing. Make sure you stir it completely so you don't get streaked hair.

You can also apply one paste first, let it sit, rinse it out, then apply another paste to your hair at a later time. If you apply the pastes at separate times, you will get deeper or darker color.

For instance, to get a very deep black hair color, you should first color your hair with henna, then color it with indigo after the henna'd hair has dried. If you don't want as deep of a black, you can simply mix the henna and indigo together and apply as a single paste.

This process can get messy, so wear gloves to avoid tattoing yourself with the paste. You can prepare smaller amounts to cover roots between full colorings. There is medical test evidence that henna is relaxing, and can soothe headaches. The paste can feel heavy on your head if you have a lot of hair.

To apply the paste to your hair, wash and dry your hair, then comb it through. You may want to section your hair for easier application. Start at the back and work the paste all the way to the scalp. Apply the paste thickly like frosting. More henna makes a richer stain and better coverage. Bring down the next section and cover that part.

Continue until all of your hair is covered, then pile all of your hair onto the top of your head and wrap with plastic wrap. Cover with an old towel if you wish, but the towel may get dyed if the paste gets onto it. Clean off any exposed skin to avoid dyeing it.

Allow the paste to sit on your hair for 2-4 hours before checking the color. If your hair is very resistant to dye, you can keep it on longer. Find a comfortable spot and rest if you wish. If you plan on moving around, make sure you wrap the hair securely, or it will start to drip or seep out of the plastic.

Finally, wash the henna mix out of your hair. Simply rinse with warm water. You can either jump in the shower or hang your head over the tub and rinse most of it out. Finish removing the paste by shampooing the last of it out. Dry and style as usual.

Your hair will probably have a distinct odor to it for a couple of days. If you dislike the smell of the paste/powder, simmer a teaspoon of lavender bud or rosemary powder in water, strain out the plant residue, and rinse your hair with lavender or rosemary tea to combat the herb-y smell. Or, you could add cinnamon to the paste before applying it.

At first, hair dyed with henna may seem coppery bright. Don't panic. This will darken during the next several days if you used an acidic mix. Body art quality henna dyes hands and feet easily, but not your ears or the nape of your neck. If you wiped off the henna, you won't see anything at all. If you didn't clean it up, the stain will fade in three days or so.

Your hair will take 3 days to settle into the true color. This is the oxidation process like when an apple browns when exposed to air. Be patient and do not panic. The coloring might be best done on a Friday night when you don't have plans for the weekend so you can let it settle before going back to work on Monday. Thicker, longer applications mean richer color. Apply henna like cake frosting. Get it down to the scalp.

This works on beards and mustaches, too.

Henna powder is ground from dried leaves of the "lawsonia inermis" plant. When mixed with a mildly acidic liquid, henna will stain skin, hair, and fingernails reddish-orange. It strengthens hair, adds shine, and is anti-fungal, helping eliminate problems like dandruff, lice and ring-worm. It strengthens the hair shaft as it colors, leaving your hair shiny, healthy, and beautif

Henna has long been used as a natural temporary tattoo. Skin is painted with henna, and left to sit for a length of time. Then, the skin carries the color in the form of a tattoo, but fades with the sloughing of skin. It is often used overseas in wedding rituals, and much more.

Indigo is among the oldest dyes to be used for textile dyeing and printing. It is also a powder ground from a variety of plants, including many of the Indigofera species. It is used as a food coloring, known as FD&C Blue No. 2 in the US. The sodium salt of indigo is used as a dye in renal function testing and as a reagent in the testing of milk. When used with henna or amla it can produce a wide range of colors, resulting in the dark hues in brunette colors. It is a basic, or alkaline, paste, unlike henna, so it does not need lemon juice to activate it. It creates strength and shine along the hair shaft.

Amla comes the fruit of a deciduous tree, which is called as Emblica Officinalis. All parts of the plant are used for various ayurvedic herbal preparations, including the fruit, seed, leaves, root, bark and flowers. It is commonly used in inks, shampoos, hair oils, and for fixing dyes in fabrics. It is also taken internally for a variety of reasons.

Used with henna and indigo, it creates a softer brown. It is probably nature's best hair conditioner. Use the paste weekly to protect, strengthen, and create shine on your hair. It can also be made into an oil and applied to the hair daily. It has a smell like raw cranberries and tree bark. Amla enhances waves and curls, but can also be used on skin as a mask to tighten and firm skin.

TO USE: after the henna sits overnight, mix in the amla (1/3 to 1/2 the amount of henna that you used to start) into it, then add water to make the mixture yogurt consistency. Complete the process as listed above.

Cassia is an excellent conditioner for any hair, regardless of color. Cassia is a green leaf powder that smells strongly like mown grass when mixed with water. It is alkaline like Indigo, and does not require lemon juice to activate the color molecule.

It makes hair glossy and thick, shiny, silky and strong - even damaged or bleached hair. Cassia has a golden yellow dye molecule. It will not alter the color of dark or red hair, but will make gray or blond hair turn golden. You can mix it with any other powder combination, or alone, with equally fantastic effects. The conditioning effects last for about a month. Mix cassia and henna to make shades of blond, strawberry blond and coppery red.

These plant powders work great and give you beautiful hair without worrying about chemicals and the after effects. Try it yourself, and you will be glad you did.

Body Painting Alex Hansen

Body Painting Alex Hansen

Body Painting Alex Hansen

With the World Body Painting Festival (and of course the Body Painting Award) coming up on the 17th of July, it's about time to get you all fired up in your body painting know-how.

More about this festival coming soon, but first a short introduction in the art of body painting.

Body painting is a form of body art, and has probably been around since the beginning of civilization. In almost every tribalist culture, body painting was performed during ceremonies or merely just for the beauty of it. Back then they used clay and other natural pigments.
Body painting still survives in parts of the world, and especially 'Mehndi', the form of body painting that uses henna dyes, is now very popular in the western world. The henna tattoo is semi-permanent.

Since the 1960's, body painting emerged as an actual art form. However, there is the never-ending discussion about it's social acceptability because body painting practically always involves nudity.

But no art without paint of course, and you'll be happy to know that the paint is restricted to guidelines: the body paint has to be non-toxic and non-allergenic. The paint easily washes of with water and soap.

As for the henna dyes, which Mehndi uses, there's a difference between the synthetic black henna, and the natural brown henna. The natural henna dye is completely safe when body painting, but the synthetic black henna dye could cause allergic reactions. You should have yourself patch tested before using these at body painting.

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