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Makar Sankranti

Makar Sankranti

The colourful kite-flying festival of Makar Sankranti or Uttarayan, which falls on January 14 each year, marks the end of a long winter and the return of the sun to the northern hemisphere. Hence the name Uttarayan. According to Hindu astronomy, it is on this holiest day in the Hindu calendar, that the sun enters the zodiac of Makara or Capricorn, heralding the northern journey of the sun. The day is also of special significance, because on this day, the day and night are of equal hours....

The Wooden God

The Wooden God

Bablu hated the ritual of prayer and fast that his family had been observing for as long as he could remember. The entire family had to wake at dawn and have a dip in the village pond, even if it was in the middle of the bitterest winter. A chilly winter day would find a shivering Bablu trying hard not to think of the million ice-cold needles that would pierce him when he entered the pond to bathe....

Winter Festivals around the World

Winter Festivals around the World

In two weeks it will be the winter solstice (literally means sun standing still) when we have the shortest day and the longest night. Because of the earth’s rotation there are two solstices, one in June and one in December. To us in the Northern Hemisphere who live above the equator, the winter solstice occurs either on the 20th, 21st or 22nd of December. To those who live below the equator in the Southern Hemisphere, the sun is directly above the Tropic of Capricorn and it is summer time in Brazil and Australia....

Preparing for Winter

Preparing for Winter

Autumn was coming to an end. All the insects and animals were working very hard to stock their larders with enough food to last them the winter. They all knew that winter time would be tough – it would be cold and food would be scarce. As it would get dark really soon, it would be difficult to go looking for food. Therefore, everyone was working hard, all except Mr Grasshopper. He loved autumn. Autumn was a time when the leaves changed colour....

Why is Snow White?

Why is Snow White?

I am sure like my two kids, all of seven and three years, you too may find the cold in Delhi a bit too extreme. It is cold and clammy and some days it is foggy making it dangerous to drive. Some days I would like them to be adequately muffled up in warm winter clothing, while they feel quite comfortable running around in a sweater and shorts! But most days it was grumble, grumble, grumble!...

Deception and Mimicry Among Animals to Fool Enemies!

Deception and Mimicry Among Animals to Fool Enemies!

All living beings have enemies. And they all have developed interesting ways to keep them at bay. Some animals hide, others run, or just fly away when faced with danger. These are their defence mechanisms. Some animals can hide without moving. They have the unique ability to change their colour to merge with the surroundings. They become invisible to the predator. This method of defence is called “camouflage”. Some rabbits change colour with the change of season....

Once they were Friends

Once they were Friends

There was a time when Madri, the cat, and Ketki, the mouse, were friends. They were such good friends that they lived in the same house. They played together, and went on hunts together too. Between the two, Ketki was the one with foresight. “Can you feel the chill in the air?” she asked her friend. “Winter is coming. And we haven’t saved any food! Let’s do it now or we will have to go hungry when winter sets in”....

Was Christmas Celebrated Thousands of Years before Christ's Birth?

Was Christmas Celebrated Thousands of Years before Christ's Birth?

Did you know that the celebrations at Christmas might have nothing to do with the birth of Christ? In fact they may well lie in a feast called Sacaea that was celebrated thousands of years before Christ’s birth. Over 4000 years ago, in the region that is now Iraq, a five-day festival with the exchanges of gifts, the staging of plays, accompanied by merry making and processions, marked the end of winter and ushered in the New Year....

Winter Guests

Winter Guests

December 27: Every winter, the Delhi Zoo in New Delhi, India, spruces up for the visit of some special foreign visitors. They fly in from the distant lands of China, Japan and Central Asia to escape sub-zero temperatures back home and bask in the warmer Delhi sun. These visitors include pin-tail ducks, shoveller ducks, common teals, coots, dab-chiks, yellow wagtails, yellow-winged wagtails and white wagtails. Flocks of migratory birds have made the Delhi zoo their temporary habitat....

Pelican Trouble

Pelican Trouble

Many people living in Andhra Pradesh may have escaped the wrath of the cyclone that ravaged the state last month, but the migratory pelicans, in a small costal village in northern Andhra, weren’t quite as fortunate. Pelican Trouble [Illustration by Shiju George] The storms’ heavy winds and rains didn’t cause as much material damage as was expected, however it proved disastrous for the pelicans as small chicks were blown out of their nests....

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