Joy of sculpting with paper clay

I thought of making a miniature sculpture of a dog using home made paper clay. I searched in google for a hound in a sitting posture and this is what I found on alamy.com .

Next, I made a wire frame dog using 18 SWG copper wire and I pasted a layer of tissue paper using white glue so that the paper clay would remain stuck to it while sculpting.

I cut lines of text from a book. I chose a book with pages that are more or less glossy so that the pages wouldn’t turn yellow or deteriorate over time

Next, I completed my sculpture with paper clay and left it to dry for a day, following which I painted it with acrylic paint.

Then bagan the tedious process of covering the sculpture with the lines of text.

This is my completed sculpture.

The Rachol Heritage Walk

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The gateway

On a New Year’s Day of a forgotten year in the 80’s, my father decided to walk  me through the ancient village of Rachol where he had spent his youth. On the way to the village, he showed me the shop where he and his father worked as tailors stitching cassocks for the priests of the Seminary in the village. I don’t recollect whether I saw the gate way of the Fortaleza, but I do remember going upto the Seminary door which was closed on that day. Next we made our way to the village church situated on the Zuari river bank from where we proceeded to Shiroda– a village on the opposite bank of the river, crossing the river in a canoe. That was some 30 years back.

Today when I revisited that village as part of a Heritage walk, I was armed with some history about the place. Situated on the left bank of the Zuari river, Rachol or Fortaleza de Rachol as it was known during the heydays of the Portuguese rule, was the military centre of the colonial power in the Ilha de Salcette. The Portuguese, I guess, had a penchant for islands. They meticulously studied the geography of the regions they conquered in Goa, and if any region was bordered even by narrow rivers or streams they never failed to name it as an ‘Ilha’- Portuguese for an island. So we have in Goa- Ilha de Goa, Ilha the Rachol, Ilha de Salcette, etc.

A 1630 Portuguese map of Goa showing the Ilha de goa

A 1630 Portuguese map of Goa

 

Fortaleza de Rachol

The fortified perimeter of Rachol was one of the largest European fortified complexes in pre-modern Asia. There is practically nothing left of it today: two churches, the Seminary, the indistinct remnants of the great fortification that surrounded the Church of Our Lady of the Snows, and a monumental door near the Seminary, dating from the beginning of the 17th century.

The Church of  Nossa Senhora das Neves was embraced by the walls of the fortress and the palatial and fortified house that would probably be the Capitao of Rachol. It  was described as the “Mother of all Salsete(churches) for being the first”, by Padre Francisco de Sousa, the writer of Oriente Conquistado.

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To the west, at the other end of the perimeter, dominating a hill and the main entrance of the wall, is the old Jesuit College (now seminary). Slightly in the middle, there is the Santo António Chapel.

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Rachol, also known as Raitura, was ruled by the Muslim Bahmani kingdom known as Bahmani Sultanate and the Sultan of Bijapur under Ismail Adil Shah. The rulers of Vijayanagar and Bijapur fought long battles to take control of this place. It was only in 1520 that  King Krishnadevaraya, also known as Krishnaraya, from the Vijayanagar empire with help of the Portuguese took complete control of Rachol.   Later the Vijayanagar king Krishnaraya ceded it to the Portuguese  in exchange for all the military help against the Muslims and in gratitude for the former’s alliance with him against Adil Shah of Bijapur.

From 1554 to 1577 the captain of the Fort was Diogo Rodrigues. It was renovated and rebuilt in 1604, and the fort continued to remain in Portuguese possession over the years, defending the area against Muslim and Hindu attackers, including a siege by the Maratha ruler Sambhaji in 1684, a feat that is marked by the following: Sendo o conde de Alvor vice-rei da India mandou reformar esta fortaleza depois de se defender do cerco de Sambagy, em 22 de abril de 1684 (in English: “The count of Alvor  being the viceroy of India ordered the repairs of this fortress after its defense against the siege of Sambhaji, on 22 April 1684”). [Source:Wikipedia]

Today this fort  has  completely disappeared, leaving behind the traces of  the dried-up  moat and the main stone gateway.

Igreja da Nossa Senhora de Neves

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The Church of Our Lady of Snows (Igreja da Nossa Senhora de Neves) at Rachol is said to be the first church of Salcette and is called the Matriz  (mother church) of South Goa.

The church  located outside the fortress “but beside her”, was founded in 1576 by the Jesuits. It was  erected in turbulent times, requiring the protection of the fortress. There had already been within the walls since 1566 a  house of the Companhia de Jesus (house of the Jesuits) with a small chapel. The church of 1576 was made of mud. The church of stone and lime was made between 1584 and 1596 and is roughly the one that is there today.

The church is splendid, seen from west to east in its isolation against the wooded hill that hides the ruins of the fortress. In front of the church is the “terreiro” with the cross and the vast alluvial plain. In the background  are the bare heights of the mainland, on the other side of the Zuari.

There have been two historical burials in the church near the altar: the first was the captain of the Fort (Capitão desta Fortaleza) Diogo Rodrigues in 1577; the second in 1583 being the martyrs of Cuncolim , victims of the Cuncolim Revolt as there was a massacre on Jesuit priests and civilians in Cuncolim, Goa on Monday, 25 July 1583. The martyrs’ bodies remained there until 1597, after which they were shifted to Saint Paul’s College, Goa. All the martyrs’ bodies were finally shifted and laid to rest in Old Goa at the cathedral in 1862. [Source:Wikipedia]

 

Seminário de Rachol

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The Rachol Seminary, also known today as the Patriarchal Seminary of Rachol, is the diocesan major seminary of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Goa and Daman. The edifice that presently houses the seminary was constructed by the Jesuits with donations from the king of Portugal, Dom Sebastião.

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Armas del Rei Dom Sebastiao Fundador do Collegio 

(Coat- of-Arms of  King Dom Sebastiao, Founder of the college )

The foundation stone for the main quadrangular portion was blessed and laid on 1 November 1606 by Fr. Gaspar Soares. The first mass in the church (dedicated to All Saints) took place in 1609, and the College was inaugurated in 1610. It was the viceroy, Frei Aleixo de Menezes, who blessed the church, the College, the Hospital, a seminary of poor children, the house of catechumens and the school of doctrine, the various programs that filled the complex.

But the original church of Rachol College did not survive. The information – though uncertain – was that it was replaced by a new construction that took place between 1622 and 1640. Supposedly in response to  the canonization of St. Francis Xavier and St. Ignatius of Loyola in 1622, a new church was dedicated and the name of the College was changed to the “College of St. Ignatius” (Colégio de S. Inácio).

The College changed hands several times. It remained in the hands of the Jesuits for a century and a half. Having begun as a school for the training of natives, it gradually adopted the curriculum for training Jesuits and later even secular priests from 1646.

In 1759, the Prime Minister of Portugal, Marquis de Pombal expelled the Jesuits from Goa. So, the College had to be shut down. Three years later, in 1762, Archbishop-Primate Dom António Taveira da Neiva Brum e Silveira, converted this abandoned College into the “Diocesan Seminary of the Good Shepherd”. He entrusted to the native Oratorian Congregation of St. Philip Neri the work of priestly training. This was the first diocesan seminary erected in Asia.

In 1774, the ruling Royal Treasury Junta of Goa abruptly suppressed the seminary on the pretext that certain conditions were not being fulfilled, the real reason being that of economy.

In 1781, owing to a mass-petition by the people of Salcete and the Municipality of Margão, the Court of Portugal ordered the seminary to be restored. The Municipality of Salcete even financed the required repairs for the building. The College was thus reopened, and its management was entrusted to the Congregation of the Mission, popularly called Vincentians or Lazarists.

The Vincentians  helped in the administration of the seminary. These priests who came from Italy, brought with them the sacred relics and a vial containing the blood of a Roman saint and martyr, St. Constantius. ( Writer’s note: Not to be confused with the Byzantine Emperor Constantine) The seminary functioned well till 1790, when it was closed down for three years, after the Vincentians left the seminary.

In 1793, the Oratorians were again deputed to run the diocesan seminary. They continued their work for about forty-two years. In 1835 all religious institutes were forced to shut down in Portugal and in all its possessions.[Source:Wikipedia]

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A 1940s aerial photograph of the seminary (Courtesy: Memórias da India Portuguesa)

Rachol, since it was a military base, probably was the first place in Salcette where the first Mass was celebrated, though there are conflicting claims that that honour should go to either Cortalim or Verna.

The heritage walk

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The Rachol heritage walk organized by ‘SoulTravelling’ afforded a wonderful opportunity to savour the history and local legends of this ancient village. Mrs.Mitha Bhandekar, Varun and Ramchandra gave interesting inputs about the life in Rachol in former times. The walk  started from the gateway of the ruined fort.

At the foot of the gateway one could see  some coconut shells and candles, a testimony to the superstitious beliefs of the inhabitants in the ritual of lighting candles and breaking coconuts at the gate to attract  good luck or success.

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The royal coat-of-arms on the gateway

We then proceeded to the Rachol seminary to learn something of its history. In the seminary church, towards the left side of the main altar we were shown the cleverly concealed door and latch- probably a place to hide the sacramental  especially during the period when the Jesuits came under attack from the native inhabitants of the village. Towards the main door in the left side chapel are the little known relics of St.Constantius, one of the patron saints of Perugia, Italy.

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The main altar in the seminary church

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The main door and the choir above

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The pulpit

In the courtyard or cloister of the seminary complex, we had a peek into one of its underground cisterns or passage ways.

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A peek into the underground cistern

A visit to the local bakery along the way offered a rare glimpse  into one of the traditional methods of making bead.

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The village bakery

On the way to the Rachol church w came across the cemetery which  was once the final resting place of one of the most illustrious sons of Goa, the venerable Fr.Agnelo, who collapsed in the pulpit while preaching in the seminary church. His mortal remains were later shifted to the Pilar monastery.

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The cemetary

We then proceeded to the now renovated wharf which was the unloading point for the merchandise which made its way to the market in Margao since ancient times. It, of course, bears no resemblance to its former status.

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At the wharf

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The walk then wound its way through the courtyard of the Church of Our lady of Snows, whose parish priests–we were told– in former times  were never transferred and served the office of the parish priest until their deaths.

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Our Lady of Snows Church

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The walk terminated at the new ferry point where a solitary unflustered cockerel trotted on the ramp, perhaps waiting in anticipation for his sweet heart to arrive from across the river.

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An arched bridge

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The River ferry

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We finally trotted back to the starting point at the gateway for some hot Bhajjas, a bhaji-pao and a hot cup of tea.

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The walk back

A meditation on Peace

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A dear friend of mine said to me last night, “I need peace of mind more than food.” Sobering words those, at my attempt to have some fun at my friend’s cost. As I lay on my bed I wondered whether my own mind was at peace.

I remembered the words of Our Lord who said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Jesus said these words when Palestine was reeling under the iron rule of the Roman empire and the “Pax Romana” or the Roman Peace was enforced on that rebellious land by the Roman Legions.

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The Romans regarded peace not as an absence of war, but as the rare situation that existed when all opponents had been subjugated and lost their ability to rebel or resist. Nations which resisted this peace had to face the brunt of the Roman war machine.We saw this exemplified in the Jewish Revolt of 70A.D. in which the Jewish nation was battered in Palestine and the Jews dispersed all over the Roman empire.

Pax Romana was a political and social peace and although it lasted for around 200 years, there were instances when the Roman emperors themselves lacked peace in their hearts and minds particularly the despotic Emperors Caligula and Nero.

Jesus was likely referring to the Pax Romana when he was referring to the peace which  the “world gives.” He offered a better “peace” to his followers.

In the stillness of the night I tried to analyze my thoughts. I realized that some disquieting thoughts usually sap my mind of its peace. I have a very good memory for past personal events. Instances when I made a fool of myself or acted stupidly–no matter how distant in my past life– flash before my mind’s eye without notice causing me great discomfort. It is not so much the gravity of the foolishness that unnerves me but the lack of reconciling myself to this grim area of my life. I guess such unsolicited flashes of memory are an affront to the personal “ego.”

Fear, especially the fear of the unknown, is another emotion that decimates one’s level of peace. Add to that the fear of eliciting some critical or unapproved reaction from close family members or friends to  a difficult decision you have made, and there you have a recipe for mental depression.

So what exactly is peace? Is it a lack of fear or bad memories? Or is it the presence of happiness and political order? Is it found in the serenity of nature? Is it a hidden treasure that one can unearth from under the hidden recesses of the brain?

Scientists studying the Shroud of Turin have developed a 3D model from the figure on the shroud. A single glance at the wounded face of the man tells you that the man died in peace. And yet this very man  was scourged and crowned with thorns, was crucified and hung on the cross for 3 hours! This man possessed peace– a peace which the world cannot give, neither can it take away.

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In my opinion, peace is not as elusive as it seems. It begins in one’s heart and mind. When we shed that ego that makes us believe that we are to be super humans, and accept our  mistakes and failings as part of  our evolution  we stand on the threshold of peace. When we acknowledge our humbleness in the vastness of the universe and come to rely on the Higher Power for our being and sustenance, we shall truly enter into the fullness of Peace Divine.

 

 

 

The Joy of Baking an “Eggless whole wheat flour Cake”

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For a long time I’ve been yearning to bake an eggless cake.But I had failed to get a workable recipe until I came across a pin, on Pintrest.com, from  http://www.yummytummyaarthi.com. And what better cake than a whole wheat flour cake!

My first attempt with this recipe met with an almost instant success. For the benefit of all vegans and for those who hate the odour of egg in their cakes, I provide below a step-by-step method to bake this irresistible cake.

Ingredients Required:

1 cup whole wheat flour

3/4th cup powdered sugar

1/2 cup melted butter

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4th teaspoon salt

A few drops of vanilla essence

Dried raisins–100 gms

Method

  1. Measure 1cup of whole wheat flour. (I took slightly more)

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2. Add 1 teaspoon of baking soda to the flour.

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3.Add 1/4 th teaspoon of salt to the flour.

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4.With a spoon or a spatula mix the ingredients.

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5.Sieve the ingredients at least twice in a sieve.( I sieved them twice)

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6.Transfer the the above dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.

Measure a 3/4th cup powdered sugar and add to the flour in the mixing bowl.

7. Mix the sugar with the flour.

 

8.Add the melted butter to the mixture.

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9. Next add the milk.

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10.Add the vanilla essence.

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11. Whisk the mixture vigorously with a hand blender. Allow a lot of air to go into the mixture.

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12. Add the raisins (covered lightly in flour) to the batter and mix them in the batter.

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13. Pour the batter into a butter paper lined container.

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14. Place the container in a pre-heated oven.

15. Bake the cake at 180 degrees celcius for about an hour.

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16. Check to see if the cake is baked by inserting a tooth pick into the middle of the cake. If the tooth pick comes out clean, the cake is well baked.

17. Remove the cake from the oven and cool it on a wire rack.

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