Kuakata: The daughter of the ocean (Sagar Kanya)

Kuakata

Kuakata

Kuakata is an exceptionally attractive beauty spot on the southernmost tip of Bangladesh. This placid sandy shore is locally known as the “Daughter of the ocean” (Sagar kanya). Kuakata is in Latachapli union, under Kalapara Police Station of Patuakhali district which is about 30 km in length and 6 km in breadth. It stands in 70 km from Patuakhali district headquarters & 320 km from Dhaka. At Kuakata, there are excellent combination of the picturesque natural beauty, sandy beach, blue sky, huge expanse of water of the Bay and evergreen forest which are really eye-catching.

It is one of the busiest tourist destinations of Bangladesh. That is why there a number of good inns available nearby. This is an uncommon destination in Bangladesh tours and people get to see the unbelievable view of sunrise and sunset in the white sandy shore locality here. Visitors love to glimpse the serene ambience and the rustic enclosures that over ride the sights here.

The name Kuakata originated from the Bengali word kua, which means well & Kata which means digging. It is believed that the early RAKHAIN settlers found it difficult to get fresh drinking water in the place and they had to dig (kata) wells (kuas) to solve the problem. As this place has many wells which are very important for the survival of the people living here, they named it after the wells – “Kuakata”.

Kuakata - a destination in Bangladesh

Kuakata – a destination in Bangladesh

On the eastern end of the beach is Gangamati, an evergreen mangrove forest and snippet of the original Kuakata. Gangamati, like the Sundarbans, offers some protection against tidal surges, however it too is being threatened by logging and deforestation. The best way to reach the forest is by foot or bike along the beach, where a flock of flying fishing boats can be seen trawling the coast. Choosing to visit Gangamati in the late afternoon is a perfect time to watch the sun caste shadows on the abstract exposed mangrove roots.

Word is, about 25 years ago a father and son from Musullipara village went into the deep forest of Gangamati by the Bay of Bengal to collect fuel wood. At one point the duo felt thirsty. Customarily both started to dig the sandy surface with their hands and soon hit something hard. As they removed the sand over a small area, they sensed that they hit something precious for the emerging wooden structure glittered with golden decorative sheets. The duo, with their wood cutting machete dismantled the golden bits and then started to dig further for more. The more they dug, more of the metals emerged from what it looked like a very large wooden boat buried under the sand. As the sun was about to set, both decided to call it a day and left the place promising to return early morning the following day. But the daylight never came for the father and son. During the night both died under mysterious circumstances, prompting widespread gossip. Soon people learnt about the buried boat in the forest laden with gold. The unexplained deaths of the father and son, who had collected “gold” from the mysterious boat, triggered another rumour suggesting that the boat was cursed and haunted. Till today many people in Kuakata believe that anyone trying to explore the gold-laden boat would face the same fate of the father and son. This time, superstition probably saved the ancient relic from being plundered. On June 29 the low tide first exposed the boat on the beach near Gangamati.

‘Rakhine’ tribal families

‘Rakhine’ tribal families

Superficially, harmony appears to be brewing between the Bangladeshis and Rakhines. A government-funded temple is currently under construction, designed to replace the original Buddhist temple that was destroyed during the 1971 cyclone. The temple will house the locally renowned 80 year-old brass-Buddha. The undercurrent however is that of developing tourism rather than cordial indigenous relations. The small Buddhist community nestled within this conservative Islamic belt, offers more than just religious variance.

There is a vast Buddhist figurine here in the state of Misry Para where one can glimpse the highest Buddha Personification of Bangladesh which is approximately 21-foot tall located just 12km from the sandy shore of KuaKata. Kuakata is also a holy target to all Hindus and Buddhists throughout the carnival of ‘Rush Purnima’ and ‘Maghi Purnima’. On these two days, a huge number of devotees appear here to take holy bath in the ocean water and enjoy customary fairs.

The unique custom and costumes of the ‘Rakhine’ tribal families attracts the tourists to visit KuaKata. After sunset visitors proceed to the Rakhine Mohila Market (Women’s) where traditional weaving and different grades of home brewed rice wine produce a unique coastal spirit as one can buy handicrafts and lot of stuffs directly from the indigenous women to ensure his or hers contribution returns to the community.

All these supplementary boasts to panoramic beauty making the sandy shore more appealing to the tourists. One should visit Kuakata and discover the lovely attractiveness of Bangladesh. The best option to travel from Dhaka is the overnight launch departing daily in the evening from Sadarghat to Patuakhali where one can board a local rickety bus to Kuakata, about three hours. Branded as the place ‘where the sun meets the sea,’ Kuakata is veiled by an intriguing cultural diversity. Here the ocean breeze wisps away the heaving insanity of Bangladesh’s bustling development and leaves you wishing you could stay longer.

Shores of Kuakata in Bangladesh

Shores of Kuakata in Bangladesh

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Recipe – Bangladeshi Duck Curry

Bangladeshi Duck Curry

Bangladeshi Duck Curry

Ingredients:

• Serves 4-6
1 medium duck, cut into 16 pieces
3 onions, finely chopped
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste (pound equal quantities of garlic and ginger with a little water)
1 tsp red chilli powder & 1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander & 1tsp curry powder
8-10 large cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tbsp finely chopped coriander & Salt as per taste

• For the garam masala paste

1 bay leaf & 10 black peppercorns
5 cm piece of cinnamon stick
6 green cardamom pods & 4 cloves
¼ tsp grated nutmeg & 1 blade of mace
2 garlic cloves, peeled & 1 tbsp vegetable oil

Method:

Blend or pound the ingredients for the garam masala with 50ml water to make a paste.
Set aside until required. Heat a non-stick pan and fry the duck over a high heat (you won’t need any oil as a lot of fat will come out of the duck during cooking). When the skin is browned but the meat is still pink, remove and set aside, reserving the fat. Brown the duck all over if you prefer it medium.

Heat 3tbsp of the reserved fat in a separate pan and sauté the onions to colour lightly. Add the ginger-garlic paste and sauté for 2-3min to cook out the raw flavours, then add the garam masala paste and some salt. Cook, stirring, for a further 3-4min or until fragrant.Add the ground spices and stir to mix. Pour in about 750ml water. Bring to the boil, then cook on a low heat until the sauce has thickened. Add the tomatoes and chopped coriander a few minutes from the end. Serve the sauce on plates, arranging the duck pieces on top and garnishing with a few salad leaves.

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Festivals of the month

Christmas – Boro Din

Christmas Celebrations in Bangladesh

Christmas Celebrations in Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Festival: Christmas (Boro Din)
City: All Cities
Event Type: Celebrations & processions all over Bangladesh
Venue: Various Venues of Bangladesh
Date & Time: 25th December 2013 Wednesday – Entire Day

United States Of America

Event: 2014 New Year’s Eve Gala at the Ritz Carlton
City: Washington DC
Event Type: An International Celebration of music, cuisine, culture, & dancing.
Venue: Ritz Carlton Hotel, Downtown Washington DC 1150 22nd Street, N. W., Washington, DC 20037
Date & Time: Thursday, December 31st 2013, 10.30pm onwards
Entry Fee: Tickets available online.

United Kingdom

Event: Guanabara’s Renowned New Year’s Eve Party
City: London
Event Type: Music & Entertainment until 4.00 am with club entry including 3 course New York Eve set menu
Venue: Gunabara, Parker Street, London, WC2B 5PW
Date & Time: Thursday, December 31st 2013, 7.30 pm onwards
Entry Fee: For booking, email at bookings@gunabara.co.uk or call at +44 20 7242 8600

Santa Claus in Bangladesh

Santa Claus in Bangladesh

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Miss Philippines wins Miss International 2013

Miss International 2013

Miss International 2013

A third crown for the Philippines this year.

Miss Bea Rose Santiago bagged the crown and bested 66 candidates from different parts of the world in the recently held Miss International 2013 pageant held in Tokyo, Japan. Ms. Santiago, a 23 year old beauty from Masbate, Philippines was selected and crowned Miss International at the 53rd Miss International Beauty Pageant that took place last 17th December 2013. She was crowned by Spain’s 2008 Miss International and not by her immediate predecessor, which was a break from the Miss International pageant custom. Miss International is the last of the major beauty pageants to be held this year and Filipina beauties proved once and for all that they are a force to be reckoned with in international pageants.

During the Q&A round, Bea was asked what she would do if she became Miss International. She replied: “The whole world saw how my country suffered. One by one, other countries helped. You have opened my heart and eyes on what we can do to help each other. I will work to sustain the spirit of sympathy and spirit of hope. As long as we work together, there is hope.”

Miss International 2013

Miss International 2013

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Trivia Time – December 2013

1. The actual gift givers are different in various countries:
England: Father Christmas
France: Pere Noel (Father Christmas)
Germany: Christkind (angelic messenger from Jesus) She is a beautiful fair haired girl with a shining crown of candles.
Holland: St Nicholas.
Italy: La Befana (a kindly old witch)
Spain and South America: The Three Kings
Russia: In some parts – Babouschka (a grandmotherly figure) in other parts it is Grandfather Frost.
Scandinavia: a variety of Christmas gnomes. One is called Julenisse.
Philippines: Santa Claus

Trivia about Christmas

Trivia about Christmas

2. Greeks do not use Christmas trees or give presents at Christmas. A priest may throw a little cross into the village water to drive the kallikantzari (gremlin-like spirits) away. To keep them from hiding in dark, dusty corners, he goes from house to house sprinkling holy water.

3. In Poland, spiders or spider webs are common Christmas trees decorations because according to legend, a spider wove a blanket for Baby Jesus. In fact, Polish people consider spiders to be symbols of goodness and prosperity at Christmas.

4. Ancient people such as the Druids considered mistletoe sacred because it remains green and bears fruit during the winter when all other plants appear to die. Druids would cut the plant with golden sickles and never let it touch the ground. They thought it had the power to cure infertility and nervous diseases and to ward off evil.

Trivia on mistletoe

About mistletoe

5. Astronomers believe the Star Of Bethlehem, which guided the wise men to Jesus, may have been a comet or the planet Uranus

Star Of Bethlehem

Star Of Bethlehem

Parol – A Filipino Christmas Symbol

Parol – A Filipino Christmas Symbol

Parol – A Filipino Christmas Symbol

The Paról or Christmas lantern has become an iconic symbol of the Filipino Christmas. Starting as early as September of each year, the kababayans usually prepare this traditional lantern along with other Christmas decorations, signalling the coming of the season. Once the parols are put up, these lanterns remain until January to honour the Three Kings and their visit to the infant Jesus in Bethlehem. Filipinos are always excited about Christmas and hanging a parol in their homes means that the spirit of Christmas is in the air.

The word paról is derived from the Spanish word farol, meaning “lantern”. Another, less-known name for this and lanterns in general is paritaán. The Parol is a traditional Filipino Christmas decoration, which usually has a five or eight point star-shaped Christmas lantern. This has been a tradition for more than 100 years. The Parol uplifts the spirit, instills a sense of pride and hope, does not only brightens Filipino Christmas, but also serves as an inspiration for Filipino ingenuity and creativeness. It reminds the Filipino Christians of the star of Bethlehem that guided the Three Wise Men on their way in search of Baby Jesus. The tails of the lantern serve as the rays of the star.

Filipino Christmas Lantern

Filipino Christmas Lantern

The traditional materials for making parols are mostly simple — bamboo sticks, Japanese rice paper, and crepe paper. In modern times, plastic, heavier paper, cellophane, capiz, and other materials are used to make the parol. The traditional candle or oil lantern inside has been replaced by electric lights, thus lanterns are even more beautiful and bright at night. The parol-making tradition clearly began after the Christianization of the Philippines. The practice of making parols was encouraged by the Church and resulted in the elevation of parol-making to an art. To this day, new innovations are being made to the design of parol lanterns. Villages, institutions, schools, and even government bodies organize parol making contests each year to encourage the filipino people to show off their craftsmanship and artistic abilities to create a truly unique and extra-ordinary christmas lanterns which symbolizes the Filipino Christmas tradition.

Although the use of the paról as a Christmas decoration is chiefly done in the Philippines, other countries where the Filipino diaspora have settled also carried the Philippine tradition of hanging paróls in their halls, windows, and even on trees during Christmas to reminisce their traditional Christmas celebration in Philippines and remembering their wonderful childhood memories each December.

Parol

Parol

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