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Archive for September, 2009

Saraswathi Pooja

Saraswathi Pooja

Saraswathi pooja is celebrated on the 9th day of the Navrathri, followed by Vijayadashami on the 10th day. Saraswathi, the goddess of Education, learning and Fine Arts is worshipped on this day. Books, which indirectly represent the Goddess Saraswathi is worshipped. Books are kept on a stand and Vasthram( a cloth) is used to decorate the books and  Swarna(Gold) is used to adorn the setup. Musical instruments like Veena, Mridangam and other instruments can be kept in the poojai. Then the saraswathi poojai is performed after the Vigneshwara pooja. The same day Ayudha poojai is celebrated. Along with books, Ayudham(Tools) can also be placed for ayudha poojai. Ayudha pooja is basically worshipping tools. Ayudha poojai is also applicable to Vahana(Vehicle). Vehicles like Cars, Scooters and even bicycles are included in the poojai, as they play an important role in our day-to-day lives to transport us from place to place and to keep us safe while travelling. Vehicles are washed, dried and chandan and kumkum are applied and  decorated with flower garlands and we can also do deeparathana for the vehicles  and a coconut is broken to ward off evil.

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I remember, when I was in school, I used to keep at least one book from all the subjects and I would keep Math books on top, For Goddess Saraswathi to give more of her blessings to Math. I used to keep my sruthi box, my bharatnatyam salangai, pen, progress report and anything you could think of that is related to studies. The hilarious part of this whole thing is my dad would say, the next day Vijayadashami, after the punarpooja for books, we should read  few chapters from all the books kept in the poojai to reap the benefits. I would get away by reading  just one line( he he) from each book and still have a satisfaction that Goddess Saraswathi would give me good knowledge. Funny days! Well, now in the US, I keep all my daughter’s story books, color pencils and cook books ofcourse! Vijayadashami day is very auspicious to start anything new. Little kid’s Aksharabyasam( learning to write) and starting Music, Dance or any other learning venture can  be done that day. The students who have already begun their learning can take blessing from their respective Guru’s on Vijayadashami day.

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Neivedhyam for Saraswathi pooja

Coming to the best part of any poojai-the food. Parupu vadai, Black channa sundal, jaggery-milk payasm, rice and cooked thoor dhal are offered. If the pooja falls on a weekday(we dont have holiday for the pooja in the US), I would do just a little bit of everything for neivedhyam and focus on the pooja part.

Black Chana Sundal:

065 Ingredients:

  • Black chana- 1cup.
  • Salt-to taste.
  • Turmeric powder- a pinch.
  • Lemon juice- few drops.

For Seasoning:

  • oil- 1tsp.
  • Mustard seeds-1/2 tsp.
  • Urad dhal- 1/2 tsp.
  • curry leaves- 1 arc.
  • Green chilly-1(optional)
  • Asafoetida- a pinch.

For Masala powder: Dry roast the below and powder them.

  • Dhania or coriander seeds- 1tsp.
  • Dry Red chillies- 2.
  • Channa Dhal-1tsp.
  • Urad dhal-1tsp.
  • Coconut scrapes- 2tsp.

Method:

  1. Soak the black chana in water for 10-12 hours.
  2. Add salt and pressure cook till 1 whistle, so that it doesn’t over cook.
  3. Keep oil in a pan and add the above mentioned seasoning one by one, in the order mentioned above and turmeric.
  4. Add the cooked chana to the pan, after draining excess water.
  5. Add the masala powder and give it a toss.
  6. Squeeze lemon juice.

Sending this to Shanti’s thaligai- Dussehra, dhanteras, deepavali event.

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The word Navaratri literally means nine nights in Sanskrit; Nava meaning Nine and Ratri meaning nights. During these nine nights and ten days, nine forms of Shakti/Devi i.e. female divinity are worshipped. They are Durga, Badrakali, Amba (Jagadamba), Annapurna, Sarvamangala, Bairavi, Chandi, Lalitha, Bhavani, Mookambika. Navarathri  is also called “Dussehra”. The 9th day is celebrated as Saraswathi Poojai ( for Vani or  Saraswathi, the Goddess of knowledge and arts) and 10th day Vijayadashami. The festival is celebrated for nine nights once every year during the beginning of October, although as the dates of the festival are determined according to the lunar calendar. 

Kolu 031

Kids look forward for this most colorful time of the year,  where kalash and beautiful dolls are arranged and adorned in steps and everyday, you get treated with yummy sundals. As a kid, I would eagerly wait for Navrathri, so I could help my mom unpack the dolls from attic and arrange them in a  nice way. The dolls would range from idols of God and Goddess, chettiar bommai(Grocer), wax fruits and fun stuff like marriage party, cricket field set etc. I would also add my doll house and we used to have these lovely (muthu bommai), dolls hand made by my mom with baeds.( The concept is very similar to  how the birth of Jesus would be displayed in figurines, during christmas here in the US). 

The best part is not just adding new dolls each year to the old collection, but also a great opprtunity for the kids to learn Hindu culture, traditions and values. My dad and I would decorate with serial lights and focus lamp and mom would delegate me to make interesting kolam(rangoli) with sabudana, chumki and color powders. My brother and I would make a park with ragi seeds or mustard seeds and make a  jungle or park with that. When I was little, my mom would stich mattai(Hair decorations with flowers) and adorn me. All 9 nights, she would dress me up in different costumes. Typically, all the neighbours are invited to witness the kolu and receive tamboolam. People can sing songs- Kritis and Bhajans. Some recite devi slokas, Devimahatmiyam etc. The aaru padi veedu of Lord Muruga or Karthikeya is the latest addition to my mom’s collection( Palani, Thiruparankundram, Pazhamudhirsolai, Swamimalai, Thiruchendur, Thirutani).

Kolu 081

The above mentioned way is how we used to celebrate Navarathri in South India(Tamil Nadu). However, living in the US, we got adapted and actually started loving how people in North India and in Gujarat celebrate navrathri. Punjabi’s do “Jaagran” and Gujarati’s do “Garba“( gummi-in tamil) and “Dandiya“( Kolattam-in tamil) and Durga pooja and arti. Every year, I make sure I take my daughter to dandiya-Garba and also show her the south indian kolu(display of dolls). It’s a lot of fun to play the garba and dandiya.

All the 10 days, I would make 10 varieties of sundals( Legumes or Lentils cooked and spiced) and offer it to Devi and consume as prasad. It is a protein rich healthy snack. I typically invite some friends home and offer them the prasad and tamboolam.

Navrathri_2

Sundals-prasad

 
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Tamboolam

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Mughalai Fruit Pulav 

 The festive season of Ramadan inspired me to try a Mughalai dish. So tried my hand at making this wonderfully aromatic Kashmiri fruit pulav, originally from Mughlai cuisine. Wow, what a dish it turned out to be. The flavorful long grain basmati rice tenderly cooked with milk, cream, saffron stands to give a  gorgeous pastel yellow color adding a nutty crunch from the nuts/dry fruits and pungent flavor from the garlic, infused with aroma from rose water, cardamom and cinnamon and a shot of antioxidants in each bite. Holy dish to please and tease your palate.

The fasting observed by Muslims during this holy month of Ramadan( Ramzan) really amazes me. Every day during the month of Ramadan, Muslims around the world get up before dawn to eat Sehrior Sahari. the pre-dawn meal, then they perform the prayer. They have to stop eating and drinking before the call for prayer starts until the fourth prayer of the day, Maghrib. Muslims open their fast at sunset) prayer time. They may continue to eat and drink after the sun has set until the next morning’s fajr prayer call. Then the process starts all over..

They do it with such devotion and sincerity. Some restrain themselves from water and even swallowing their saliva. It is such a cleansing process for the Body, Mind and Soul and an act of  Will power, Self control, Patience, Modesty and Spirituality. I really salute them for their dedicated fasting observances.

Ingredients: (Serves 4)

  • Basmati Rice-2 cups.
  • Fruits- diced-( Pineapple, Pomegranate, Mango, Apple, Grapes and Orange)- 1 cup.
  • Vegetables- diced( Sweet peas, Sweet corn and Carrots)-1 cup.
  • Dry fruits/Nuts- Raisins, Cashew, Almonds, Tooti frooti, Walnut, Coconut scrapes( 2 tsp).
  • Dairy- Milk( 1/2 cup), Cream (1/4 cup), Ghee- (2tsp), Butter-a dollop.
  • Dry spices- Cinnamon( 2 inch piece), Bayleaves- 2, Cardomom- 3, Cloves 2, Nutmeg- a pinch.
  • Fresh spices- Ginger root- 2 inch piece, Garlic- 3 pods. Chopped White Onions-1 small.
  • Exotic spices- Khus khus- 1 tsp, Saffron- few strands. Rose water- 2tsp. Edible Rose petals for garnish.
  • Salt- to taste
  • Sugar- a pinch.
  • Turmeric powder- a pinch-optional.

Cooking 112

 

Cooking 113 

Cooking 116

Method:

  1. Wash basmati rice and mildly roast it with ghee.
  2. Soak the rice in water ( 1 cup rice to 2 cups water) for 10 minutes in a rice cooker.
  3. While the rice is soaking, ( done real time), add butter in a pan and roast all the above mentioned dry spices.
  4. Now add chopped onions and saute.
  5. While the onions are getting sauted, grind almonds-3, garlic, ginger and khus khus, coconut scrapes to a fine paste.
  6. Add the paste to the pan and saute. ( love the aroma at this point)
  7. Soak the saffron strands in 1 cup of warm milk.
  8. Add the contents from the pan into the rice cooker.
  9. Add milk with saffron, cream, salt, sugar, turmeric(optional), rose water and vegetables into the rice cooker.
  10. Cook until its done and keep it covered until ready to serve.
  11. Gently roast the dry fruits and nuts in ghee.
  12. Right before serving,  add the dry fruits/nuts add assorted diced fruits and give it a gentle toss.
  13. Sprinkle few drops of rose water and garnish with rose petals and serve!

Cooking 120

Note:

  1. Since the kashmiri pulav is a lil sweet, I made  a spicy curry to go with it. I served it with Hyderabadi Mirchi Ka Saalan and wow, what an accompaniment to go with this nutty textured fruit pulav.
  2. Taking into account the milk we are adding, to reduce the water amount, so the pulav has a  nice texture and not too soft.
  3.  Please throw in your ideas and comments, just so I know, if I closely matched the original recipe.

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Flavored Milk

It’s 4 pm in the evening…………

Me: Come on honey. It’s time to drink your milk.

My daughter: No mommy. I am busy.

Me: Please da kanna. Come on, drink it quick.

My daughter: Mommy. Stop bothering me.

Me: Drinking milk makes you strong da chellam.

My daughter: (Showing her muscles) See mommy. I am already very strong.

Me:If you drink your milk, I will give you a scoop of ice-cream.

My daughter:Ice-cream is junk food mommy.( all of a sudden she gets  a “nyanodhayam” that ice cream is junk food).

Me: How about your favorite movie “Finding Nemo”?

My daughter: It’s boring!

Me: If you do not drink your milk now, I will give your toys to Riya.( her friend)

My daughter: Yes mommy. we have to share our toys. You can give.

Me: I said, drink it right now, otherwise, the ghosts are gonna come and catch you.

My daughter: There are no ghosts in this world mommy. People just “pretend” to be ghosts during Halloween.

Me: If you do not drink it, I will give  you a adi (Slap).

My daughter😦 with a grumpy face) This is not fair, you dont love me. I will talk to strangers…..

Yes, this is the latest way my 5 old blackmailed me, that she will talk to strangers, (Because we tell her not to talk to strangers). She uses the exact same words. That’s how much she hates milk. Every single day, I have to follow the strategies of Sam, Dhan, Bedh, Dand( the four strategies in Sanskrit literature meaning treating polite, reward, discrimination and punishment respectively) wasting 1/2 hour of my precious time. Punarapi Jananam, punarapi Maranam”– same story repeats every single day- three times a  day.

 Fall in love with milk contest enthused me to find interesting and fun ways to feed her milk, that she, most kids for that matter hate the most. In the US, we get Strawberry milk, Vanilla milk, Chocolate milk etc. But back home, we used to drink Rose milk, Badam milk (Almond Milk) and Pista (Pistachio) milk, which are very flavorful. They are so tasty, aromatic and the pastel colors are so pleasing to the eyes that, anyone will fall in love with milk.

Flavored Milk

Flavored Milk

Milk is the most nutritious thing in the world, which is why “Cow is worshipped in the  Hindu culture”. By making milk, more appealing to the kids, I am sure all moms would not only find great relief & lot of time saved, but also feel happy seeing the milk mustache of their kids after they finish the milk.

Ingredients:

  • Chilled Whole milk or 2% milk- 1 glass.
  • Flavored essence- Rose(pink), Pista ( green), Badam ( yellow) available in indian grocery stores. It adds color and flavor- few drops. The brand I used is “Roopam”-synthetic soft drink concentrate.
  • Sugar-if required-1tsp.
  • Rose petals,almonds, pistachios for garnish-optional.

Method:

  1. You can either use boiled, and cooled milk or pasteurized,, homogenized milk, straight from the refrigerator, add few drops of the essence of your choice with or without sugar. Stir well and enjoy! It literally takes less than a minute to get this ready.
  2. Edible rose petals can be used as garnish for Rose milk to add interest.
  3. Powdered pistachios can be added for Pista milk and crushed almonds for Badam milk, for that nutty crunch at the end.

Note:

  1. If you do not want to have ice-cream, cake or any other high calorie options for dessert, you can simply enjoy this deliciously appealing, yet simple made in a snap-flavored milk as a great dessert drink.
  2. I personally like the  pista milk for its wonderful color and elaichi-pista flavor. It’s too good.
Yum yum yum

Yum yum yum

Submitted to “Fall in Love with Milk event in http://www.sanghi-tastybites.blogspot.com/  Sanghi’s Food delights.

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Cooking 021

Only few hours left to catch a flight, to come back to the US. My baggages were a few pounds less than the weight allowance. Quickly took an auto rickshaw to Ambika Appalam Depot in Mylapore http://www.ambikaappalamdepot.com/. Grabbed few papads,vathals, dry powders and also grabbed a packet of Palada(Rice ada). Have heard a lot about Palada Pradhaman, but haven’t tried it myself. Decided to try it out on my daughter’s birthday and it was a blockbuster hit. My husband fell in love with me all over again. Believe me. It was that good!

Ingredients:                                        Palada

  • Whole Milk- 21/2 cup.
  • Palada (Rice ada)- 1/2 cup.
  • Cane sugar- 1/2 cup.
  • Cardamom powder- 1/4 tsp.
  • Ghee- 2 tsp.
  • Cashew nuts- 5.

 

 

palada

Method:

  1. Soak rice ada  in hot water for 10 minutes and rinse it off with cold running water.                                                                                 
  2. Pressure cook Rice ada with milk until 1 whistle.
  3. The cooked ada turns into a beautiful pale pink color.
  4. Add Sugar, cardamom powder to the pan with cooked ada.
  5. Let it be on the stove top for 20-25 minutes until it becomes thick.
  6. Heat ghee and roast cashews and add it to the payasam.
  7. Can be served warm or chilled.

Note:

  • The kerala grocery stores or Patel brothers in the US should carry palada.
  • Rice ada can be cooked straight in the pan without using the pressure cooker also.
Palada Pradhaman

Palada Pradhaman

 Posting this recipe for “Fall in Love with Milk” event. Love to dedicate this dish to my husband, coz he becomes the first prey for all the things I cook. LOL!

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Honest Scrap Award

    

Hema of http://salt2taste.blogspot.com/ has passed this award to me. Thanks a ton Hema. This is such an encouragement.

10 Honest Things about me:

  1. I love my daughter more than my life.
  2. I am not a morning person. Hate to wake up early.
  3. I am very light hearted. People in my family get a kick out of watching me cry, for a senti scene in a movie. Buckets of  water can be collected, by playing “Taare Zameen Par”, no matter how many times I watch.
  4. I am a trained singer. Have learn’t  Classical music for more than 15 yrs. So I keep singing classical, semi classical & light music, while driving, cooking etc..
  5. Love to dance. Have learnt Bharatnatyam. But also enjoy dancing for kuthu paatu.
  6.  Love to decorate my home with handicrafts. Love to keep my home spic and spam.
  7.  I am a people person. Love to make friends and am happy to entertain friends and family.
  8. I get a lotta peace by doing Bhajans. Will always pray for not just me, but peace of the world. “Loka Samastha Sukino Bhavanthu”.
  9.  I love travelling, but don’t love packing.
  10.  I am very passionate about photography. Try to experiment with unique angles, lighting and different lenses.

This award comes with the following rules:

  1. I must thank the person who gave me the award and list their blog and link it
  2. I must list 10 honest things about myself
  3. I must put a copy of The Honest Scrap Logo on my blog.I must select at least 7 other worthy bloggers & list their links
  4. I must notify the bloggers of the award and hopefully they will follow the above three requirements also.

 I would like to nominate the following bloggers for this award…….

1. Roopa- http://www.rvkitchentreats.blogspot.com/

2. Priya- http://dailygirlblog.blogspot.com/

3. Anudivya- http://mixtomatch.blogspot.com/

4. Padmajha Suresh- http://seduceyourtastebuds.blogspot.com/

5. Lakshmi- http://www.tasteofmysore.com/

6. Yasmeen- http://yasmeen-healthnut.blogspot.com/

7. Latha Narasimhan- http://theyumblog.wordpress.com/

Please accept this award…….

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amma enrazhaika enna thavam seidhanai, Yashodha...

amma enrazhaika enna thavam seidhanai, Yashodha...

Vishnu, the preservative aspect of the universe and one of the Hindu Trinity, is said to take birth in this mortal world of our’s, whenever it is overburdened with evil-doers and sinners, who by their wicked actions upset the equilibrium of the earth. One such incarnation is the birth of “Krishna “as the son of king Vasudeva and his wife Devaki and his story is recorded in the famous work of the Hindus known as Bhagavatam. Born to rid the world of the wicked, he was secretly brought up by the chief of the Yadavas (cowherds) to whom he was taken as soon as he was born, since his uncle Kansa considered him an enemy and wanted to get rid of him as soon as he was born, by putting him to death.

Sri Krishna Jayanthi is the auspicious day Lord Krishna, (an avatar of  Lord Vishnu), was born in this world. It is also called Krishnashtami, Saatam Aatham, Gokulashtami, Ashtami Rohini, Srikrishna Jayanti, Sree Jayanthi, Janmashtami, Dahi Handi. While the festival is celebrated in north India as Janmashtami, in the south, the festival is celebrated as Sri Krishnajayanthi, Janmashtami or Gokulashtami.

The idol of Lord Krishna is placed in a decorated Mantapa on which the Bhakshanam (snacks and sweets in Tamil) that are specially prepared for the festival are offered along with fruits considered the favourites of Lord Krishna. The pooja is performed late in the evening, because as Krishna was born at midnight. Generally, most of the sweets and savouries are prepared on that day. Normally, a kolam (rice flour drawings on ground) drawn specially for the occasion, called ezhaKolam decorates the front yard. Kolam in Tamil, also called Rangoli in the rest of India, is drawn using soaked rice ground to a fine paste and mixed with water. A white cloth is used to soak the paste and draw. Footprints representing those of Krishna are drawn from the front yard to the pooja room, representing the GOD entering the devotee’s home.

Kutti padams drawn using my hands with rice flour

Kutti padams drawn using my hands with rice flour

After the decorations are over, the pooja will be performed with Ganesha poojai as the start, followed by Krishna pooja, Ashtothram, Neivedhyam, Arthi and songs can be sung. 

Poojai

Poojai

I typically fast the whole day and would start making the bakshanams. Uppu seedai( deep fried rice flour marbles), Vella Seedai ( sweet version of the previous one), Appam( wheat and banana dumpling), Puli Avil( Poha), Dhal Paayasam, Thenguzhal or Mullu muruku, butter, Ghee and Curd can be offered.

Neivedhyam for Lord Krishna

Neivedhyamfor Lord Krishna

The little ones are thrilled about Janmaashtami, as it is a baby God’s Birthday. My husband and I had a hearty laughter, when our daughter at age 4 asked, “Where is the birthday cake for lord Krishna? ” On Janmaashtami day, I also dress up my little girl as Krishna or Radha and adore her. Krishna is also called “Makhan Chor” or “Butter stealer”, as Butter and Avil (Poha or beaten Rice)  are his favourites. king of avil, let me narrate you, quickly the story of Sudama( Kuchela) and Krishna.

Sudama (Kuchela) and Krishna were good childhood friends. Sudama was from a poor brahmin family and Krishna was from a Royal Family, but their social status never affected their friendship. As they grew up, both went their ways and Krishna became the Ruler of Dwaraka and Sudama lived a humble life of a poor brahmin in the village. Sudama was going through difficulty, that he did not even have money to feed his children. His wife reminded him of Krishna’s friendship and urged him to get some help. Initially reluctant, sudama finally agreed to meet Krishna for help.

Sudama wanted to give his friend some gift, when he sees him. There was nothing at home except a small amount of beaten rice (Poha in Hindi or Avil in Tamil). He remembered that it was Krishna’s favorite and took that in a small cloth, tied with a  knot. Overwhelmed with joy, the two friends, hug each other and talk all old stories and all the small mischievous deeds. Krishna treats Sudama royally with lot of Love and affection. Sudama hesitates to give the small gift he had brought, but Krishna actually grans it from his hands and starts eating the Poha with great relish. Sudama feels happy and returns home, forgetting the purpose of his visit to ask help. But to his surprise, he returns home to see his hut had been transformed into a Mansion and his wife greets him with silk clothes and fine jewelry. Krishna  had transformed the poor brahmin’s life to a royal life.

This story is told to illustrate that the Lord does not differentiate, people based on their social status and he will reward devotion always. Another moral is not to trade bhakti for anything in return. Sudama did not ask Krishna for anything. Despite being poor Sudama had given Krishna everything he had (poha) hence in return the Lord gave Sudama everything he needed.

A beautiful Sari of mine with Krishna

A beautiful Sari of mine with Krishna

Let me tell you, how to make a simple dish with Poha( Krishna’s most favorite Avil). Even if you cant do the elaborate neivedhyams, a simple Avil(Poha) offered, with a lot of Bhakthi and devotion, will be gracefully accepted by GOD.

Puli Avil: ( Poha Upma with tamarind and spices)

Puli Avil Upma

Puli Avil Upma

Ingredients:                                                                      Krishna

  • Avil(Poha)- 2cups.
  • Tamarind paste(Imli)- 3/4 tsp.
  • Curry powder-2tsp.
  • Salt- to taste.
  • Shredded coconuts- 3tsp.

For Seasoning:

  • Oil- 1tsp.
  • Mustard seeds- 1tsp.
  • Urad Dhal-1tsp.
  • Channa Dhal-1tsp.
  • Red chillies-2.
  • Curry leaves- 1arc.
  • Asafoetida- a pinch.
  • Turmeric powder- a pinch.

Curry Powder:

Dry roast Coriander seeds 1/2 cup, channa dhal -1 cup and  4 red chillies and powder them coarsely.

Method:

  1. Wash the poha and soak it in tamarind paste for 10 minutes.
  2. Take oil in kadai and add one by one, all the ingredients mentioned in the seasoning.
  3. Add salt, turmeric, curry powder and soaked Avil(Poha).
  4. Stir everything and let it cook in low heat for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Add shredded coconuts for garnish.
Tulsi plant

Tulasi plant in my deck, (tulsi leaves can be used for pooja)

My Krishna Collections

My Krishna Collections

My Krishna collections has been growing like my Ganesha collections. I have close to 16 Krishna’s in the form of  Iskcon paintings, Silk fabric painting, kalamkari, Tanjore paintings, glass painting, idols, sculptures etc.

Sending this to Purva Daawat’s festive food event

http://purvasdaawat.blogspot.com/2009/08/announcing-krishna-and-ganesh-chaturthi.html

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