Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tungnath – the kingdom of Lord Shiva

Tungnath, a stately and serene temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, is the second of the five Kedars, the others being Kedarnath, Madhyamaheshwar, Kalpeshwar and Rudranath. The legend behind the temples is rooted in the Mahabharata. It is said that the Pandavas, after the Great War at Kurukshetra, wished to atone for the sins of fratricide and the killing of Brahmins. They were directed to seek the blessings of Lord Shiva. The Lord, however, was in no mood to pardon them as he was angry at the magnitude of their sins. Taking the form of a bull, the Lord hid from the Pandavas at Guptkashi in the Garhwal Himalaya.

The Pandavas caught up with Shiva. Bhima, the second of the brothers, spied a large bull grazing and recognized it as Shiva. He grabbed the bull by its tail and hind legs, but it disappeared into the ground. Later, various parts of the bull reappeared at different locations in the Himalaya.

The sacred bull’s  hump appeared in Kedarnath, the arms at Tungnath, the navel and stomach at Madhyamaheshwar, the face at Rudranath and the hair and head at Kalpeshwar. In gratitude, the Pandavas, who were then in the Himalayas en route to their passage to heaven, built temples at each of these locations. It is also believed that some of the bull’s fore portions materialized at the Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Terraced fields overlook the valley at Ukhimath. The seat of the Omkareshwara Temple, this town is where the idol of Tungnath is worshipped after winter snowfall renders the mountains inaccessible. On clear days the town offers a breathtaking view of the snowcapped Kedarnath peak. The Mandakini River, a tributary of the Ganga, roars in the valley below. Eventually, it joins the Alakananda at Rudraprayag.

A short drive from Ukhimath is Deoriya Tal, a picturesque mountain lake surrounded by forests of oak and chir pine. A heart-stopping view of the four-pronged peak, Chaukhamba, is reflected in the placid waters of the lake. To get to the lake, which occupies a small plateau at about 8,000 feet, trekkers must walk a 2-km uphill trail from Sari.

The major rivers rising in the Himalaya are snow-fed, but heavy monsoon rain from June to early September leads to a large number of modest springs and cascades on the hillsides.

Before motorable roads made these hill shrines accessible within a day from Haridwar, pilgrims traveled on foot from the roadhead at Rudraprayag. Tired of many years of the government turning a deaf ear to their demands for a motorable road, the people of the region went on a hunger strike. The move paid off. Buses were introduced to connect Rudraprayag with the district headquarters at Gopeshwar through Chopta, a picturesque route that skirts the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary where the five temples are located. As a reminder of the protest, these buses are inscribed with the legend “Bhookh Hartal”, Hindi for Hunger Strike.

After visiting Deoriya  Tal the previous day, we reached Chopta by the “Bhook Hartal” bus from Ukhimath. The tiny hillside village was cloaked in mist and we were hungry. Unable to see much further we followed our noses to a shack where parathas and instant noodles were cooking. The sign on the modest little eatery promised lots more, but we made do with warmth and passable food.

It looks quiet and peaceful in Chopta but one look at this sleeping Bhotia dog told us another story. Notice the spiked metal collar around its neck – this is intended to prevent leopards from killing it. Leopards are opportunistic hunters and frequently prey on dogs with a bite to the throat. The tough metal collars may be uncomfortable for the dogs but its spiky edges have protected them from many a marauding leopard.

Misty mountains  tower over Chopta. After breakfast, we begin the 4 km-climb to Tungnath. The paved trail winds through a tract of dense forest interspersed with alpine meadows, known as bugyals in the Garhwali dialect. Ahead of us, walking in leather slippers and a thin saffron robe was a sadhu. How he defended himself against the punishing elements we do not know. But then again, centuries ago a young saint from Kerala, Adi Sankara, walked these very paths.

Through veils of mist we looked back at the road we had travelled. The oak trees wore shaggy coats of moss and fern. In the peak of winter, the trees will be bare.

Only the hardy,  fragrant deodar trees will resist the snow. Their leaves are modified into hard, tough needles and their barks secrete resin that prevents the snow from freezing the sap.

Finally, we hear bells peal in the distance. And we see the spire of the temple poke out over a sea of mist.

It is the end of the  season and most of the shops are deserted, but one teashop offers piping hot ginger chai. It is still early in the morning. As we stood there catching our breath and sipping tea, a red fox appeared out of the hillside and slunk away into the forest before we could bring out our cameras.

A milestone  informs us that we have reached our destination.
Most tourists choose to ride mules to the top but a few nature buffs, like us, prefer to walk the entire distance. However, people like this porter transporting a gas cylinder on his back have no choice.

These are literally the foggy ruins of time. The stone structures here, weathered by the elements, appear much older than they are.

Here in the main street leading up to the temple, time takes a backseat. It’s like being back in the Stone Age. The huts have roofs of solid slate, weighed down with rocks. Only the waterproof plastic sheets are a reminder of modern times.

Shops selling materials for puja do brisk business. The flowers, coconuts and incense are brought on muleback from Chopta, where they have arrived after a long journey from the plains.

The priest’s chair is placed invitingly outside the temple but we choose to sit on the cool stones in the small courtyard. The priests of the Tungnath temple are local Brahmins from the village of Maku, a few thousand feet below. In all the other Kedar temples, including Kedarnath, the priests are from Udupi or Kerala, a tradition dating back to Adi Sankara’s reforms.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Women prefer thin men over macho males as partners!

Women find thin men more attractive as potential partners rather than those who look 'macho', according to a new study.

Women prefer thin men over macho males as partners
Researchers in South Africa
found that while women do respond
morefavourably to the faces
and bodies of men with strong
immune responses, they seem
to cueinto fatness and thinness,
 not macho features, when
making their judgements. 
Macho features have long been touted as an evolutionary asset that heterosexual women look for in a potential mate but researchers said weight may be a more powerful driver of attraction as they found testosterone levels were more closely linked with weight than with macho looks.

Researchers in South Africa found that while women do respond more favourably to the faces and bodies of men with strong immune responses, they seem to cue into fatness and thinness, not macho features, when making their judgements.

Fatness, or adiposity, "is an obvious choice for a marker of immunity because of its strong association with health and immunity," study researcher Vinet Coetzee, a postdoctoral scientist at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, said.

Macho features such as a strong jaw and squinty eyes advertise that a guy possesses high testosterone, according to the immunocompetence handicap hypothesis.

The trouble with the immunocompetence handicap hypothesis is that masculinity is not universally attractive to women, Coetzee and his colleagues wrote in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Weight is consistently linked both to health and immune system functioning, Coetzee said.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Noor Inayat Khan: The Indian princess who spied for Britain

The Princess Royal is set to unveil a sculpture of Noor Inayat Khan, dubbed the "Spy Princess" by her biographer Shrabani Basu in London's Gordon Square Gardens.

Raised in Britain and France and a descendant of Indian royalty, bilingual Noor Inayat Khan was recruited by the elite Special Operations Executive (SOE) in 1942 to work in Paris as a radio operator.

Records from the national archives show she was the first female wireless operator sent to Nazi-occupied France during World War II.

After evading capture for three months, the spy was imprisoned, tortured and eventually shot by the German Gestapo at Dachau concentration camp in 1944.

Her final word - uttered as the German firing squad raised their weapons - was simple. "Liberté".
Bronze sculpture of Noor Inayat Khan
Noor Inayat Khan
Liberty was a notion the pacificist-turned-war-heroine held deeply, according to Ms Busa.
For her bravery, she was posthumously awarded the George Cross. In France she was honoured with the Croix de Guerre, and later with two memorials and an annual ceremony marking her death.

Indian royalty
Brave, glamorous and both sensitive and formidable, it is said she acted not out of a love for Britain, but out of an aversion to fascism and dictatorial rule.

Her father was a musician and Sufi teacher, and Noor Inayat Khan was raised with strong principles and believed in religious tolerance and non-violence.

Ms Busa claims she "couldn't bear to see an occupied country", a notion that seems to run in her family.
Noor Inayat Khan's great-great-great-grandfather was Tipu Sultan, an 18th century Muslim ruler of Mysore. He refused to submit to British rule and was killed in battle in 1799.

Born on 1 January 1914 in Russia to an Indian father and American mother, the agent's infancy was spent in London.
The family moved to France when she was a child and lived in Paris, where she was educated and learnt fluent French.

The national archives describe how the sensitive young woman studied both medicine and music.
In 1939 the Twenty Jataka Tales, a collection of traditional Indian children's stories she had retold, were published in Le Figaro.

The book is still available to buy from online retailer Amazon.
When war broke out in 1939, Noor Inayat Khan trained as a nurse with the French Red Cross.
She fled the country just before the government surrendered to Germany in November 1940, escaping by boat to England with her mother and sister.

Shortly after arriving in the UK, she joined the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) as a wireless operator
A bronze sculpture of Khan has been erected in
 Gordon Square Gardens
 on land owned by the University of London
and soon caught the attention of recruiters from the SOE.

Also known at the time as Nora Baker, Khan joined the elite spy squad in 1942.

She was deployed to France a short time later despite an SOE training report describing her as "not over-burdened with brains" and "unsuited to work in her field".

Codenamed "Madeleine", she joined others in the resistance network Prosper, famously tasked by then Prime Minister Winston Churchill to "set Europe ablaze".

Despite suspicions that the network had been infiltrated by a Nazi spy, Khan refused to return to Britain, risking arrest by the Gestapo.

Ms Busa - who spent eight years researching her life - told the BBC: "She was this gentle writer of children's stories, a musician, but she was transformed. She was a tigress in the field."
With her team gradually captured by the Gestapo, Noor Inayat Khan continued for as long as possible to send intercepted radio messages back to England.
Despite her commanders urging her to return to England, she single-handedly ran a cell of spies across Paris for three more months, frequently changing her appearance and alias.
Eventually, she was betrayed, arrested and imprisoned. She was sent to Pforzheim prison in Germany where she was kept shackled and in solitary confinement.
She refused to reveal any information, despite 10 months of repeated beatings, starvation and torture by her Nazi captors.

Her fortitude - and two escape attempts - led her captors to brand her "highly dangerous", despite her pacifist upbringing.

'Inner strength'
In September 1944, she and three other female SOE agents were transferred to Dachau concentration camp where on 13 September they were shot and killed.
Ms Busa has described her life as "inspirational", and said the modern world can draw lessons from the story of Noor Inayat Khan.

She said: "For her to come into this world on the front line taking on the Gestapo, showed her inner strength and her courage, her immense courage and resilience.
"It's very inspiring, especially given the the troubled times that we live in. It is important to remember these qualities and valu es.

"Two and a half million Indians volunteered for the war effort and it was the largest single volunteer army.
"I think we must not forget their contribution. Noor was part of this."

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Meet She Writes Winners !!

Amrita Saikia

Amrita Saikiaspent most of her childhood days in a small town called Nagaon in Assam. She attended the prestigious Cotton College in the city of Guwahati and then moved to Bangalore to pursue higher studies. She did her graduation from Mount Carmel College and post-graduation from Dayananda Sagar College, Bangalore. Currently, she is working as an editor in International Data Corporation. She likes to read books, write (mostly her blog posts), and paint during her leisure time. She is extremely passionate about food and loves experimenting with new dishes.

Anisha Bhaduri has spent more than a decade in journalism. She is currently the deputy news editor of The Statesman and its coordinator for Asia News Network (ANN). She is also the first Indian woman to become a Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Fellow, and is an alumnus of Banaras Hindu University, Indian Institute of Mass Communication, and Konrad Adenauer Asian Center for Journalism at the Ateneo de Manila University, the Philippines. A visiting faculty to the Statesman Print Journalism School, Anisha was conferred the Pradyot Bhadra Young Journalist Award for Excellence by Pracheen Kala Kendra in December, 2011. Anisha has written book chapters commissioned by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung on contemporary Indian journalism and politics. In 2009, she won the first prize in a national literary contest for women writers organized by the British Council in India.

Aprameya Manthena is  a graduate of English Literature from Sri Venkateswara College, with a post graduate degree from Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi University. Aprameya enjoys writing, is trained in Carnatic music, loves travelling, and is outdoorsy to a fault. She volunteers in her spare time and shares in the passions and interests of her friends. She also takes a keen interest in cinema, art, and theatre and dabbles in painting. Her quest for higher learning continues as she hopes to undertake research work in the near future.

Belinder Dhanoa is a writer and an artist, with a Masters in Fine Arts in Art Criticism from the Faculty of Fine Arts, MSU, Baroda, and another MFA in Visual and Cultural Studies from the University of Rochester, New York. She is the author of Waiting for Winter and her second novel Echoes in the Well is due to release soon. She has also written several books for children and researched and documented Contemporary Art of Baroda, which was published as a book by the same title. She is currently involved in developing and teaching post-graduate courses in creative writing at the New School for Culture and Creative Expression at Ambedkar University Delhi.

Chitralekha wasborn and raised in South Mumbai. She has lived in Jamshedpur, Hong Kong, Singapore, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York and wandered the rest of the globe observing cultures. She is presently parked in New Delhi, trying to crystallize the lessons of a nomadic life.

Dr Geeta Sundar began her career as a consultant in medicine at BL Kapoor Memorial hospital, Delhi. She has also done a course in medico-legal law. She is a regular contributor to Times Wellness as well as a corporate lecturer. Her published works include Health after Forty and A-Z of Bone Muscle and Joint Diseases. She has also written a work of fiction called Premier Murder League. She is both a consultant in medicine and a writer. At present, she is working in Pune.

Jyotsna Jhabelongs to Kolkata. She has an M.Phil in English Literature and has worked as a teacher, instructional designer, and editor. She is married to an army officer and has two sons.

Prarthana Raowas born and raised in Chennai. After her schooling at Bhavan's Rajaji Vidyashram, she completed B.Sc. Visual Communication from Loyola College, followed by a Masters in International Studies from Stella Maris College, securing gold medals in both courses. She has worked as a freelance content and copywriter and has dabbled in acting and scriptwriting as well. She has been writing short stories, poetry, non-fiction, and just about anything since the age of six. Prarthana enjoys music, movies and yes, books.

Santana Pathakis not a conventional female writer dogged by social norms and values. Growing up and studying in a North-eastern state and working in fields like academia and journalism in the pan-Indian layout, she has seen two different worlds dealing differently with common human values. This disparity has made her sensitive towards the complexities of life. It has also widened the horizon of her expectations and nothing surprises her. Her writings are born from thoughts that keep playing in her mind and feelings that touch her heart with each passing experience.

Sheela Jaywanthas worked in a multi-specialty tertiary care hospital for many years and for half a decade in a five-star hotel. And in earlier avatars, as a librarian, teacher and UNICEF volunteer. As an author of three books, Quilted: Stories of middle-class India, Melting Moments, and The Liftman and Other Stories, as well as a columnist and translator, she found that creative writing couldn't pay the bills. So she wrote three books of short fiction and did two translations alongside her day job. Later, many of her stories found their way into anthologies. When people ask her where she gets her ideas from, she says: 'you'.

Shreya Manjunath hasa PGDM from IIM Bangalore and a BE in Computer Science from PESIT. She has been working as a management consultant. Shreya also writes socio-political satirical articles for a leading satirical website.

A journalist and a poet, Yishey Doma was born in Martam in the east district of Sikkim. Her published works include the highly acclaimed coffee table book Sikkim: The Hidden Fruitful Valley and other books like Legends of the Lepchas: Folktales from Sikkim and Sikkim: A Traveller's Companion. Her work has also been anthologized in Strangers Notes and Other Essays. She is a recipient of the first North-East Poetry Award (Guwahati, 2007) from the Poetry Society of India. Yishey lives in Gangtok and works as a copy editor for the Sikkim Express.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Six habits that ruin our looks

Sleeping, face first
When you sleep on your side, or on your stomach, the skin on your face gets pushed into the pillow and undergoes a lot of contortions. Over a period of time this pressure can cause wrinkles. Also, using a moisturizer before hitting the sack helps. “Men are strong, men don’t use no moisturizer,” you might say. But if you don’t want to end up with leathery, rough skin any time soon, start using a good moisturizer today. You should apply it right after your shower or every time you wash your face.

Get rid of soaps

Soaps are your enemy, 

except a few others. Most soaps make your skin highly dry and prone to wrinkles and aging. Even if you apply a face cream post using soap, it is still no good because it completely exhausts your skin of all moisture. Switch to a good face wash and a body wash. There are a million products for men in the market: Nivea, Old Spice, Gillette, and so many more. They are not only gentle on your skin, they also smell terrific.

Cut down on smoking

You’ve probabl, heard this a gazillion times and shrugged, like you always do. “Bullshit,” you’ll say. It isn’t. It will be great if you can completely quit, but if you can’t, start cutting back, apart from causing cancer and impotency, smoking will also cause lines and wrinkles to form around your mouth. If you want to stay looking young and wrinkle-free, kick the butt.

Our mobiles are brimming with bacteria

I read in a sciencejournal that our phones are dirtier and unhygienic than our toilet seats. The reason being, we keep our phones on restaurant tables, public bathrooms, we lend it to others, leave it in the car. We never really clean our phones, do we? Imagine the amount of bacteria that is transferred to our faces every time we speak on our phones. That definitely takes a toll on our skin: spots, blemishes, infections. The way around this is to use antibacterial wipes often. And always leave your phone in its case and don’t leave it here and there.

Clean hair
Dandruff doesn’t just cause an itchy scalp. Every time a flake falls on your face, it causes infection. Add oily skin to the equation, and you are in some real trouble. You use the same fingers to scratch your scalp and then touch your face with the same hand. We don’t even realize it because it all happens to quickly. More infection, more skin problems. So use a good dandruff shampoo, an organic one and keep your hair itch free.

Sun exposure

No, you’re not bullet proof. And no, sun rays don’t only affect female skin; they affect male skin too. The more exposed you are, the more you’re at risk of contacting skin cancer, and other side effects. Hence, apply sunscreen lotion before 30 minutes of stepping out. It will protect your skin and keep wrinkles at bay.

Monday, August 06, 2012

10 ‘bad’ habits that are good for you

'Bad' habit that's good for you 1: Gossiping

 Most of us love a good gossip, whether we’re giggling over a colleague’s new romance or passing an opinion on someone’s outfit choice or behavior, and the good news is that gossiping could actually be good for us. Not only does listening to gossip help us to learn more about the characters of those around us, bonding and having a laugh with your peers also releases feel-good hormones which help to relieve stress and anxiety.

'Bad' habit that's good for you 2: Drinking coffee

 Although drinking too much coffee can be detrimental to your health, in smaller quantities the popular hot drink can actually be good for you. When drunk in moderation (no more than three cups per day), caffeine can speed up your metabolism, boost exercise endurance and reduce your risk of gallstones and kidney stones. A study by the Harvard Medical School has also found that women who drink two or more cups of coffee a day are less likely to be depressed, while separate research has shown that drinking three cups cuts risk of age-related diabetes.

'Bad' habit that's good for you 3: Fidgeting

It’s the bane of school teachers everywhere, yet research suggests that fidgeting may be no bad thing – at least in us adults. Research suggests that fidgeting can burn up to 350 extra calories a day, helping you to keep off those excess pounds. To further increase your calorie burn, try to squeeze in more incidental exercise, such as getting up to change the channel rather than using the remote control.

'Bad' habit that's good for you 4: Swearing

Swearing: it’s not big and it’s not clever... but studies suggest that in certain situations it may actually be good for you. According to a study by the University of East Anglia, swearing at work could help employees cope with stress and maintain solidarity. Meanwhile, researchers at Keele University’s School of Psychology found that swearing can provide effective short-term relief from pain. However, the study also notes that swearing should be reserved for crises only, as the higher the daily swearing frequency was for participants, the less pain relief they experienced.

'Bad' habit that's good for you 5: Skipping a shower

OK, so repeatedly missing showers may not win you any friends, but if you are ever tempted to skip a shower here and there, research suggests that you could be doing your health (and the environment) a favour. Daily washing not only strips your skin of the natural oils that keep it hydrated and supple, it could also strip your skin of good bacteria that help to prevent disease. If you do decide to skip a shower, just try to do it on a day when you won’t be vigorously working out!

'Bad' habit that's good for you 6: Losing your temper 

Many of us have been brought up to believe that losing our temper is the ultimate social faux pas. To an extent this is true (nobody wants to hang out with that person who is always losing their cool and shouting their mouth off), however research has found that losing your temper could actually be good for your health. Venting your emotions is believed to reduce the effects of stress, while a Swedish study found that men who bottled up their anger when unfairly treated at work doubled their risk of having a heart attack.

'Bad' habit that's good for you 7: Sunbathing 

In recent years, official advice has been that we should cover up in the sun at all times to protect ourselves from skin cancer. However, more recently experts have stated that actually little and frequent sun exposure is good for us. In the UK, where vitamin D deficiency is common, seven leading health groups and charities have issued a statement advising everyone to spend 10 minutes in the midday sun without sunblock in order to avoid rickets. Meanwhile, a US study has stated that the vitamin D produced by the sun could help ward off colds and flu. However, experts have stressed that people should cover up after 10 minutes, and skin should never be red at the end of the day.

'Bad' habit that's good for you 8: Having a lie-in 

Feeling guilty about your weekend lie-in? Don’t be! Research has found that sleep can help you live longer, boost your memory and reduce stress, while not getting enough can lead to accidents, weight gain, and increased risk of heart disease. Furthermore, delaying your morning workout in favour of some shut-eye may have health benefits, as research from Brunel University found that heavy training sessions early in the morning can compromise the immune system.

'Bad' habit that's good for you 9: Giving in to your cravings

Although constantly giving into junk food cravings is a sure-fire way to sabotage your healthy eating success, allowing yourself the odd treat will not only boost your happiness, it will also help you keep motivated to stay on track. Also, as many people crave the foods that they most attempt to
resist, allowing yourself a little of what you fancy can actually help to reduce cravings. If you have imposed extreme restrictions on your diet and cut out entire food groups, cravings could also be a sign of a nutrient deficiency in your diet.

'Bad' habit that's good for you 10: Daydreaming 

Many of us view daydreaming as a sign of laziness or form of procrastination; however, researchers at the University of British Columbia have found that letting your mind wander can actually help boost your problem-solving abilities. The study found that when participants minds wandered, the parts of their brain associated with problem-solving became more active than when focused on routine tasks. So, while daydreaming can increase the time it takes to complete your present task, it can allow you to unconsciously sort through other important problems in your life.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

NASA Envisions Alien Worlds

For decades, NASA has delighted stargazers with pictures taken by astronauts, telescopes, and rovers across the galaxy -- photographic glimpses of real planets, moons, stars, and other heavenly bodies. When illustrators, meanwhile, stretch their imaginations -- giving shape and color to what, say, a sunrise on another world -- their work offers brilliant notions of what vistas beyond our tiny corner of space might look like. Captured by a camera or, as in this gallery, envisioned by artists, the far reaches of space continue to humble and amaze.  

Out of the Dust, a Planet is Born

In this artist's conception, a possible newfound planet spins through a clearing, detected around the star CoKu Tau 4 by the Spitzer Space Telescope, in a nearby star's dusty, planet-forming disc. The possible planet is theorized to be at least as massive as Jupiter, and may have a similar appearance to what the giant planets in our own solar system looked like billions of years ago. NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (SSC-Caltech)

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

12 Indian foods that cut fat

You don't have to acquire a taste for olive oil, seaweed or soya to maintain a low-fat, healthy diet. Indian cuisine can be healthy too, if it's cooked with oil and ingredients that take care of your heart and health. Ayurveda suggests you include all tastes - sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent - in at least one meal each day, to help balance unnatural cravings. Here are 12 foods that can help you lose weight and gain health:  

Turmeric : Curcumin, the active component of turmeric, is an object of research owing to its properties that suggest they may help to turn off certain genes that cause
scarring and enlargement of the heart. Regular intake may help reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol and high blood pressure, increase blood circulation and prevent blood clotting, helping to prevent heart attack. 
Cardamom : This is a thermogenic herb that increases metabolism and helps burn body fat. Cardamom is considered one of the best digestive aids and is believed to soothe the digestive system and help the body process other foods more efficiently.  

Chillies : Foods containing chillies are said to be as foods that burn fat. Chillies contain capsaicin that helps in increasing the metabolism. Capsaicin is a thermogenic food, so it causes the body to burn calories for 20 minutes after you eat the chillies.  

Curry leaves : Incorporating curry leaves into your daily diet can help you lose weight. These leaves flush out fat and toxins, reducing fat deposits that are stored in the body, as well as reducing bad cholesterol levels. If you are overweight, incorporate eight to 10 curry leaves into your diet daily. Chop them finely and mix them into a drink, or sprinkle them over a meal. Garlic : An effective fat-burning food, garlic contains the sulphur compound allicin which has anti-bacterial effects and helps reduce cholesterol and unhealthy fats.  

Mustard oil : This has low saturated fat compared to other cooking oils. It has fatty acid, oleic acid, erucic acid and linoleic acid. It contains antioxidants, essential vitamins and reduces cholesterol, which is good for the heart.  

Cabbage : Raw or cooked cabbage inhibits the conversion of sugar and other carbohydrates into fat. Hence, it is of great value in weight reduction.  

Moong dal : The bean sprouts are rich in Vitamin A, B, C and E and many minerals, such as calcium, iron and potassium. It is recommended as a food replacement in many slimming programmes, as it has a very low fat content. It is a rich source of protein and fibre, which helps lower blood cholesterol level. The high fibre content yields complex carbohydrates, which aid digestion, are effective in stabilising blood sugar and prevent its rapid rise after meal consumption.  

Honey : It is a home remedy for obesity. It mobilises the extra fat deposits in the body allowing it to be utilised as energy for normal functions. One should start with about 10 grams or a tablespoon, taken with hot water early in the morning.  

Buttermilk : It is the somewhat sour, residual fluid that is left after butter is churned. The probiotic food contains just 2.2 grams of fat and about 99 calories, as compared to whole milk that contains 8.9 grams fat and 157 calories. Regular intake provides the body with all essential nutrients and does not add fats and calories to the body. It is thus helpful in weight loss.  

Millets : Fibre-rich foods such as millets - jowar, bajra, ragi, etc - absorb cholesterol and help increase the secretion of the bile that emulsifies fats. Cinnamon and cloves: Used extensively in Indian cooking, the spices have been found to improve the function of insulin and to lower glucose, total cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides in people with type 2 diabetes.