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About The Asian reporter. (Portland, Or.) 1991-current | View Entire Issue (Jan. 4, 2016)
ASIA / PACIFIC
January 4, 2016
Cow-dung patties selling like
hot cakes online in India
By Nirmala George
The Associated Press
EW DELHI — Like consum-
ers around the globe,
Indians are flocking to the
online marketplace in droves these
days. But there’s one unusual item
flying off the virtual shelves: Online
retailers say cow-dung patties are
selling like hot cakes.
The patties — cow poop mixed with
hay and dried in the sun, made main-
ly by women in rural areas and used
to fuel fires — have long been availa-
ble in India’s villages. But online
retailers including Amazon and eBay
are now reaching out to the country’s
ever-increasing urban population,
feeding into the desire of older city
folks to harken back to their child-
hood in the village.
Some retailers say they’re offering
discounts for large orders. Some cus-
tomers are asking for gift wrapping.
“Cow-dung cakes have been listed
by multiple sellers on our platform
since October and we have received
several customer orders” since then,
said Madhavi Kochar, an Amazon
The orders come mostly from cities
where it would be difficult to buy
dung cakes, she said.
In India, where Hindus have long
worshipped cows as sacred, cow-dung
cakes have been used for centuries for
fires, whether for heating, cooking, or
Hindu rituals. Across rural India,
piles of drying cow dung are ubiqui-
Radhika Agarwal of ShopClues, a
major online retailer in India, said
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PEAT PATTIES. An Indian woman prepares to dry balls of cow dung, which are used as fuel
for heating, cooking, and Hindu rituals, in Gauhati, India. Like consumers around the globe, Indians
are flocking to the online marketplace in droves these days. But there’s one unusual item flying off
the virtual shelves: Online retailers say cow-dung patties are selling like hot cakes. (AP Photo/
demand for the cow-dung cakes of dung fires pleasant.
spiked during the recent Diwali
“It reminds them of the old days,”
festival season, a time when Hindus she said.
conduct prayer ceremonies at homes,
Online retailers said people also
factories, and offices. On a recent day, bought the dung cakes to light fires
ShopClues’ website showed that the for ritual ceremonies to mark the
patties had sold out.
beginning of the new year and for the
“Around Diwali, when people do a winter festival known as Lohri,
lot of pujas in their homes and celebrated in northern India.
workplaces, there is a lot of demand
The cakes are sold in packages that
for cow-dung cakes,” said Agarwal, contain two to eight pieces weighing
referring to rituals performed during seven ounces each. Prices range from
the popular festival.
100 to 400 rupees ($1.50 to $6.00) per
“Increasingly, in the cold weather, package.
people are keeping themselves warm
Dung cakes are also used as
by lighting fires” at outdoor events, organic manure and some sellers are
she said, adding that people who grew marketing them for use in kitchen
up in rural areas find the peaty smell gardens.
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Japan festival offers nearly $1 million to make a short film
By Yuri Kageyama
WANT TO KNOW WHAT
EVENTS ARE HAPPENING
AP Business Writer
OKOHAMA, Japan — A Japanese festival focused
on the art of the short film is offering a new award
of nearly a million dollars to a director from
anywhere in the world with a great pitch for a movie.
Organizers say short video is where audiences are
going, as entertainment is increasingly consumed on
smartphones and tablets. They also believe the format
holds potential for novice filmmakers, bringing fresh
insight and energy to the industry.
The deadline for submitting a 500-word pitch on what’s
billed as a “thrilling, exciting, moving” storyline is
February 29. The pitch must be written in either Japanese
Five finalists will be chosen first. Each receives a
500,000 yen ($4,000) cash prize. Then one among the five
will be picked, and receive 100 million yen ($800,000) in
funding to make his or her movie. That winner will receive
an additional 1 million yen ($8,000) award.
Rieko Muramoto, executive director for digital business
at the Japanese entertainment company Avex Digital,
which is providing the contest funds, believes it’s a worthy
investment for finding fresh content for online services,
pioneering a genre, and nurturing talent. She stresses she
isn’t out to make a quick buck.
“The short film holds a lot of potential for busy people
who are watching video on smartphones, which means a
complete story must be told much more quickly,”
Scoring success can get tougher than for regular movies
and television shows. Switching to another piece is a mere
click away — far easier than walking out of a theater
where you paid for a ticket, she added.
“Survival is tougher,” she said. “You have to move an
audience in 15 minutes.”
The winning work will be shown at the 2017 Short
Shorts Film Festival & Asia, an annual event devoted to
short films in Tokyo and nearby Yokohama, which is
running the contest.
“Movies aren’t about length,” said Tetsuya Bessho, an
actor who founded the festival in 1999, likening the best
short films to the minimalist but fine-tuned concentration
of haiku poetry.
“There are Hollywood flops with everything thrown in
Check out our Community and A.C.E.
calendar sections, on pages 10 and 12.
CATERING TO CONSUMERS. Tetsuya Bessho, a Japanese actor
who started a film festival because of his love for short films, speaks dur-
ing an interview at the Brillia Short Shorts Theater in Yokohama, near To-
kyo. A Japanese festival focused on the art of the short film is offering a
new award of nearly a million dollars (100 million yen) to a director from
anywhere in the world with a great pitch for a movie. Organizers say short
video is where audiences are going, as entertainment is increasingly con-
sumed on smartphones and tablets. They also believe the format holds
potential for novice filmmakers, bringing fresh insight and energy into
the industry. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)
for marketing. You can’t decide if it’s a comedy, a love
story, or an action film. People are getting bored with that
kind of movie,” said Bessho, whose films include Godzilla
vs. Mothra and Solar Crisis, with Charlton Heston.
His festival has showcased the best in short films, such
as Toyland, which won an Oscar, and the light-hearted
comedy I Hate Musicals.
It also honors less conventional work from a new breed
of creators, including Indonesian auteur Yosep Anggi
Noen, who was also featured at the Rotterdam and Busan
international film festivals.
His A Lady Caddy Who Never Saw a Hole in One, which
depicts how farmland in Indonesia is being destroyed by
golf courses, won the Grand Prix at Short Shorts last year.
It took just a day and a half to shoot, and involved a team
of just six people.
“It can be more free, more independent,” Anggi said of
the short film format. “Nobody tells me how to make that
7 9 2 4 3
9 2 3 8 5
Instructions: Fill in the grid so that the digits 1
through 9 appear one time each in every row, col-
umn, and 3x3 box.
Puzzle #41268 (Hard)
All solutions available at