This is part 3 of our series of posts on the Madurai Meenakshi temple in Tamil Nadu state in South India. Today’s images show Hindus worshiping in the temple. From statues carved into pillars to small shrines tucked away along the long corridors to the sanctum sanctorum, there is no shortage of devotion to be seen anywhere in this temple.

A Hindu couple applies oil on a carving of a deity on a pillar who is depicted to be pregnant.

One of the many statues carved into the pillars at the temple

A Hindu lady worships at one of the smaller shrines tucked away between two gigantic pillars

A Hindu girl places kumkum (red powder) on her friend's forehead.

A massive Ganesha graces a shrine at the Meenakshi temple. Here Ganesha is known as Mukkuruni Vinayagar and is one of the largest Ganesha statues in the south.

A young girl prays devoutly to Ganesha.

 

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Another wonder in Central Java is the small but beautiful Mendut temple. It’s on the itinerary for one of the places for us to visit during our upcoming meditation and wellness retreat in Indonesia in September.

Located a little over 3 kms from Borobudur this temple may appear insignificant to the mighty Borobudur but is home to an exquisitely carved 3 meter high statue of Buddha. Unlike most statues of Buddha that are usually carved in the lotus position or in a laying down position, this Buddha is seated, western-style, majestically in a throne with both feet firmly placed on the ground.

A massive, beautiful, sprawling ficus tree stands next to the temple, a quiet symbol of endurance and patience, two essential qualities on the spiritual path.

Next to the Mendut temple is the Mendut Buddhist Monastery which has beautifully kept grounds and small ponds of lotuses and lilies.

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Buddha statue in Mendut Temple in Central Java

 

borobudur-temple-java-indonesia photo taken by Dandapani

In our upcoming wellness and meditation retreat to the islands of Indonesia in September this year we’ll be visiting the magnificent Borobudur temple in Central Java.

For the adventurers, the pre-dawn excursion to Borobudur temple to witness the sunrise is a surreal and unparalleled experience in south east Asia. As rays of light pierce the misty sky, rolling hills of tropical jungles, plains of paddy fields and swaying palms are revealed and so is Borobudur, Buddhism’s grandest citadel.

Built from over two million stone blocks by the rulers of the Sailendra dynasty sometime between AD 750 and AD 850, the name Borobudur is derived from the Sanskrit words ‘Vihara Buddha Uhr’, which mean ‘Buddhist Monastery on the Hill’.

The temple has survived a massive earthquake in 2006, terrorists bombs and ash flows from Mount Merapi. But it stands spectacular today as it must have once did.

In tomorrow’s post we will bring you more photos of Borobudur temple.

Looking out from Borobudur temple into Central Java in the morning

 

Well, if you can say the name of this dish then you can surely make it as it is easier than it sounds. And when you have one of these lentil balls (urandais) in your mouth you won’t be saying anything as it is absolutely delicious.

We learned this on our most recent spiritual and culinary adventure in South India in January 2012. When I first saw it being made in front of me I thought to myself that this takes a lot of work and I was hesitant to try it. But having tried it a week ago and realized how fairly simple it is I’ve made it twice now.

Here’s the recipe and I hope you’ll give it a go. Photos below are from cooking class during our culinary tour in South India.

Ingredients for Kola Urundai (Lentil balls)
1. Toor dhal (Pigeon peas) – half cup
2. Bengal gram dhal (black chick peas) – a handful
3. Raw rice – 2 teaspoon

Soak above for 15 mins, drain and keep aside. (I actually did it with only the Toor dhal)

4. Red chilly – 1
5. Garlic – 3 cloves
6. Aniseed – 1 teaspoon

Grind all the above (from 1 to 6), coarsely, and keep aside

7. Coconut shredded – quarter coconut
8. Onion shallots or small onions – 3, slice finely
9. Coriander leaves – 2 tablespoons finely cut
10. Curry leaves – 2 tablespoons finely cut
11. Turmeric – quarter teaspoon
12. Salt to taste

Mix all the above from (1 to 12) well.

Shape into balls and steam for 10 minutes, keep aside.

Ingredients for the gravy or sauce
1. Oil – 4 tablespoons
2. Cinnamon – 3 small sticks
3. Aniseed – 1 teaspoon
4. Onion shallots or small onions – 10 to 15, slice finely
5. Tomatoes – 4
6. Turmeric – quarter teaspoon
7. Chilli powder – 2 teaspoons
8. Coriander powder – 4 teaspoons
9. Water – 4 cups

Masala to be ground fine for the gravy
10. Coconut – half shredded
11. Poppy seeds – half teaspoon
12. Aniseeds – 1 teaspoon
13. Cumin seeds – 1 teaspoon

Grind fine from (10 to 13) and keep aside

The Method

Heat oil in pan.
Add the cinnamon and aniseed, stir till aniseed splutters (takes about half a minute).
Add the small onions and saute.
Add the tomatoes and saute.
Add the chilly powder, coriander powder and turmeric powder.
Add the ground gravy masala.
Add the water and boil for 5 minutes.
Add the steamed Kola Urundai one by one carefully in order not to break it.
Boil and remove from fire, decorate with coriander leaves.
Serve with rice.

Some of the ingredients...

Main ingredients for the kola urundai kolambu

These little dumpling like things are then steamed.

Dumplings are placed gently into the curry (sauce)

 

Here’s a recipe that we acquired on our recent spiritual and culinary adventure in South India. This Mint Chutney recipe was taught to us in the heart of Chettinad in Tamil Nadu state where they make some amazing food.

Ingredients required
Mint leaves – few sprigs
Shallots – 100gms
Garlic – 1 pod
Ginger – 1 inch
Coconut (grated) – half cup
Tamarind – Small quantity
Red chillies – 2 chillies
Salt – to taste
Oil – 1 table spoon

Preparation Method
1. Place a frying pan on the stove
2. Pour oil and heat
3. Add red chillies, finely chopped small onions, ginger, garlic and the remaining ingredients and mix well.
4. Then add the mint leaves and grated coconut
5. Remove the mixture after the coconut flavour disappears
6. Then grind the mixture in a grinder to make it a paste
7. Transfer the mixture to a bowl
8. Serve as a side dish…

We were so keen to eat this at the end that we forgot to take a photo of the final product….sorry!

 

The following question came in on email to me and below is my response.

How do I concentrate better – I manage a good quality 5 mins at most with minor drifting but then my mind wonders massively after this…?

The best way to learn how to concentrate better is to practice it more. We become good at what we practice. Know that the mind has no ability to discriminate between what practice is good for you and what is not good for you. If it did we’d all be excellent at concentration. The mind becomes good at whatever we practice. If we practice being distracted 10 hours a day then we become good at that. The same way, if a dancer wants to be part of the best ballet company then she would have to practice many hours a day. 

So, to be good at concentration you need to practice it more each day.

Hope this helps. In the next post I’ll give a few examples of practices that you can do.

If you have questions on meditation please feel free to reach out to me. You can do so by sending your questions to me on email at info(at)vedicodyssey.com.

Previous post on Concentration
Feb 25th: I can’t Concentrate

 

After two nights in Kanadukathan in the heart of the Chettinad district in Tamil Nadu, we headed west to Madurai, ancient Tamil capital of the south for the last night of our culinary and spiritual adventure. The beautiful Heritage Madurai resort was home for the last night and finale dinner.

As is tradition on our trips, everyone gets dressed up for the last night. A sumptuous traditional Tamil thali dinner was on the menu, a perfect end to a wonderful culinary journey of South India.

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A private dining room lit with traditional oil lamps was set aside for our group

Probably one of the best meals on the trip...