Budh Poornima/Chitra Pournima

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Today is Budh Poornima which is Buddha’s birthday. It is a Buddhist festival that is celebrated in most of East Asia commemorating the birth of the Prince Siddhartha Gautama, later the Gautama Buddha, and was the founder of Buddhism. According to Buddhist tradition and modern academic consensus, Gautama Buddha was born c. 563–480 BCE in Lumbini (currently located in Nepal), and raised in the Shakya capital of Kapilavastu (courtesy: Wikipedia).

In Tamil culture, the same day is called the Chitra Pournami which is the full moon day of the Tamil month of Chithirai which is again today, the 7th of May 2020.

Today is full moon day and today’s moon looks so fabulous.

Salutes to those who feed us

One of the good things that happened after the second lockdown was that the government allowed agricultural activities to resume.  This meant not only that farmers could resume their operations but also the agricultural labourers could work and earn some money and thus buy food for their houses!..  The daily agricultural labourers have to work every day to earn their food and the 40 days long lockdown was a disaster. Maybe more lives would have lost due to the loss of livelihoods than due to the COVID pandemic itself all over the world.

Salutes to them, who toil irrespective of rain or sun, flood or drought, pandemic or not, because, without them, we have no food to eat…

Moon – 3 May 2020

It was a bit difficult to shoot with the maximum zoom of 1200 mm without a tripod… But at the end with multiple trials, got these images… Astonishing to me, the images turned out to be very sharp and with interesting details of the elevations and valleys on the moon’s visible surface…

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Planet first….

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Under the longest lockdown in the history of India, we are going through unprecedented times and situations. With the whole world reeling under the Corona virus threat, and struggling to come to terms with the after effects, and realizing our helplessness, though we thought to be highly evolved, technologically advanced, COVID 2019 reminds us the supremacy of nature, the planet… Planet first ..yes, humans don’t matter much.

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And fewer and fewer interventions from us human, nature is repairing itself in all possible ways and means…

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Looking for a prey, a winged visitor…

Caught this bird quite far through my camera zoom.

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It was raining slightly.  The bird was scanning the neighbourhood quite intensely.

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When I zoomed in a bit more, it looked as if it did not have a beak!

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It had a brown head with light brown body down.

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Not finding anything to eat – perhaps – it turned giving me a better view of it from its back. And before I could click again, it flew away.  But I could get a fairly good view of its feathers /wings.

Did some research and with help from my friends, it seems that the bird is “Oriental Turtle Dove” . Maybe they are migrating from the northern part of India as winter is closing in there as these birds are known to migrate to South India during winter.

The migrating butterflies – Crimson rose.

A couple of days I had this red and black butterfly caught on my camera. But now I see hundreds of them everywhere. Today, while it was still raining, I got a number of the same species fluttering around.

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It was raining and it was difficult to catch them on my camera from a distance. But I managed to get a few of them.

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They were everywhere. Fluttering around with their magnificent and bright beautiful wings.

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I got them through the window of my office on the second floor (Sri Aurobindo Society) from a distance of about 30 meters away.

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Some of the shots are off-center due to a high zoom.

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Obviously, due to the huge numbers of them, I presume, they are migrating.

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It is north-east monsoon in Pondicherry. It has been raining from today morning off and on since morning till almost noon. Because of my vantage position, I could get these butterflies about 40 feet above the ground.

Nature is so beautiful, green and soothing, especially when it rains! It is kind of regenerative even within minutes of its impact. The whole atmosphere changes and transforms!.

The fluttering beauty of red, black and white… Crimson rose.

Recently when I was in Bahour which is about 20 km south of Pondicherry (India), I came across this beautiful butterfly which was fluttering around… It was late evening around 6pm so there was not much light for a better image. Still, its red, black and white pattern was beautiful, against the green background!!.  This is the crimson rose butterfly.IMG_2174 Nature is so bountiful and we often forget to realize it!!

I have seen similar butterflies before which used to be more bright. This fellow looked a bit of shabby, dusty one.

Maybe it had a hard day wandering in the dusty routes!!!

The shrinking green spaces and birds…

I live in Puducherry, or Pondicherry or even shortly as Pondy as it used to be known – and still of course- a small or rather tiny Union Territory in the southern part of India. Having a series of colonial successions like the Dutch, the French and the British in between, Pondicherry still has a metropolitan culture having a true mix of people from all parts of India and abroad. It is also the place of Sri Aurobindo, The Mother, the Aurobindo Ashram and of course, the Auroville, the international city of peace where people of several countries live as communities. Auroville is a beautiful experiment a totally barren stretch of land has been converted into a beautiful green space with several forests, organic farms & gardens, production units, renewable energy options including the solar kitchen, organic outlets, restaurants, model schools and all that is needed to be a self-sustained community

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The beautiful beach of Pondicherry, hardly any trees at all…

Now coming to my topic of the day, Pondy is really graceful and beautiful town that has a true historic past starting from maybe the 2nd century BC where a small town called Arikamedu had excellent maritime trade connections including the Romans. Pondy also has several small towns – for example, Bahour, which was at the peak of its civilization about 1200 years ago.  The first temple constructed by the Paranthaka Chozha is at Bahour and it still stands strong and tall with stone inscriptions telling the excellent governance systems and water management systems of that time.

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The Oussudu Lake –one of  he largest one and a great habitat for migratory birds….

Fortunately, the water system is still intact and I will write about it later.  Unfortunately, due to unplanned, irrational, shortsighted planning, Pondy is losing its shine at a  faster pace. Totally berserk town and country planning processes have fast deteriorated the green spaces of this small territory.

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With no trees to perch…

Houses, houses everywhere and not many trees or shade at all. This is affecting the birds very much and they cuddle to whichever little spaces that is available. One such space is the Botanical Gardens of Pondy where the film “Life of Pi” was shot. With exploding migratory population, the spaces are shrinking very fast and the bird population is the worst affected.

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Green and green …

How can one increase the green spaces? Puducherry had around 1000 water ponds to its credit, but a study done by the government of Puducherry 10 years ago, says that the water ponds have reduced to 600 in number.  But now, we would be lucky if we even have half of it, I suppose. Why is this happening? The negligence of the government coupled with the greed of the politicians to illegally appropriate them and distribute them as free house sites to gain political mileage for vote banks!!.

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Hope is that drives us on and on….

So is there any hope? Yes, there seems to be. Currently, a community initiative under several NGOs and peoples collectives are urging the government to declare the wetlands of Pondicherry and even to try to reclaim the lost water and green spaces. Let us hope it will work !!!. After all, it is hope that keeps us driving… Isn’t it?