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Sound of Music

December comes alive with music and dance festivals across the country

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Oh come, all ye faithful Tracing the path Christianity took in India

December 2018 Volume 9, Issue 10


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Dear Readers,

This note to you was inspired by an e-mail I received from a dear friend from Canada, Norm Mainland. He sends us festive greetings each year and updates us on the goings-on in his family after he left India (a long time ago). He is a regular reader of digital Culturama, too! Norm was our very first corporate client. He hired Global Adjustments to conduct training workshops for a joint venture with an international automotive major in South India over two decades ago. As he was happy with our programme in Chennai to help his Indian colleagues understand the North American mindset in business, we volunteered to run it for his Puducherry group of 70 engineers too. We wanted an impressive keynote speaker and explored networks in that city. We identified a government leader to set the tone and were glad when he agreed to speak on intercultural strengths. After

going back and forth on logistics with his office, we waited bright eyed, holding a bouquet of flowers, to meet him for the first time at the event (remember, this was in the pre-LinkedIn, pre-Facebook days). As Mr. Keynote Speaker rose, we applauded in anticipation. But when he opened his mouth to speak, or tried to, we realised his jaws were wired tight together, as he had had dental work done. His office had forgotten to inform us, and we had to spend 20 excruciating minutes trying to understand the words he forced through his clenched teeth! We were aghast! That has to have been the most embarrassing lesson of a lifetime for us. What we learnt from it was – ‘Prepare, Practice, Pay Attention to Every Detail. Don’t Leave Anything to Chance.’ We learnt the lesson well. As this year draws to a close, we are proud to have put together a flawless event – the India Living Awards. We were able to do so because of the meticulous preparation that went into it on behalf of so many stakeholders of the show. The pictures of the event tell their own story (page 32). And as for Norm, he forgave us for that fiasco and kept his sense of humour. We went on to deliver business-cultural workshops for many more of his engineers. Today, we are proud to call him a mentor and friend for life. Hope you find many such mentors and friends for life, too.

December 2018

Editor Ranjini Manian Deputy Editor Meera Srikant Creative Head Prem Kumar Circulation P. Devaraj Advertising Chennai Shobana Sairaj Bengaluru Meera Roy Delhi/NCR Ruchika Srivastava Mumbai/Pune Ashish Chaulkar

To subscribe to this magazine, e-mail info@globaladjustments.com or access it online at www.globaladjustments.com Chennai (Headquarters) 5, 3rd Main Road, R A Puram, Chennai – 600028 Telefax +91-44-24617902 E-mail culturama@globaladjustments.com Bengaluru #333/1, 1st Floor, 9th Main, 14th Cross, 2nd Stage, Indira Nagar, Bangalore - 560038 Tel +91-80-41267152 E-mail culturamablr@globaladjustments.com Delhi-NCR Level 4, Augusta Point, Golf Course Road, Sector 53, Gurgaon 122002, Haryana Mobile +91 124 435 4224 E-mail del@globaladjustments.com Mumbai #1102, 11th floor, Peninsula Business Park, Tower B, SB Road, Lower Parel, Mumbai – 400013 Tel +91-22-66879366 E-mail mum@globaladjustments.com Hyderabad Suite-18, 3rd Floor, Rajapushpa Business Centre, Stone Ridge Centre, Opp. Google, Hitec City – Kondapur Main Road Hyderabad – 500 084 Tel +91 40 48687956 E-mail hyd@globaladjustments.com Printed by K Srinivasan and published and owned by Ranjini Manian. Printed at Srikals Graphics Pvt Ltd at #5, Balaji Nagar, 1st Street, Ekkattuthangal, Chennai – 600032 and published at Global Adjustments Services Pvt. Ltd., #5, 3rd Main Road, Raja Annamalai Puram, Chennai – 600028. Editor Ranjini Manian Disclaimer Views and opinions expressed by writers do not necessarily reflect the publisher’s or the magazine’s.

Editor | globalindian@globaladjustments.com

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Contents 28

Holistic Living

Life is not just about receiving but giving too. From the air we breathe to the nourishment we receive is a gift that we hold in trust and are duty bound to pass on by serving others.

38 Feature December is a month of spirituality, music and dance across India as festivals are organised and performers make a mark. 42 Read about a French couple's visits to India every year to soak in the Indian classical arts. 46 Three foriegn nationals share their journey of embracing the Indian classical art forms.

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In Focus

Christianity in India is as old as Christianity itself. We trace the growth of the religion in the country through its historical churches.

Regulars 16

At GA Foundation

India’s Culture

The Global Adjustments Foundation trains working women in the Tamil Nadu Secretariat to hone their leadership skills.

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Short Message Service

Short, engaging snippets of Indian culture.

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Driving Forces

Championwoman


They know their minds and articulate clearly, saying a yes or a no, and meaning it!

For the Indians, food does not merely nourish the body but nurtures the soul and relationships. The more the dishes on offer, the greater the love and respect.

Journeys Into India

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Value Vignettes

The Power of the Word is much celebrated across cultures. Women have the unique ability to harness this to communicate more effectively.

India Living Awards 2018

An evening of recognising talent and awarding the winners of the Photo Contest.

Relocations and Property 58

Space and the City

Property listings in Chennai.


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Cover Image

Welcoming the Festive Season December is a holy month for Hindus and Christians. This photograph by Sangjun LEE, South Korea, captures Virgin Mary as well as a Tulsi plant, reflecting the spirit aptly.

Advisory Board Members N. Ram is an award-winning journalist and former Editor-in-Chief of The Hindu. He is Director of Kasturi & Sons Limited, publishers of The Hindu. Suzanne McNeill lived in India for seven years before returning to Scotland. She is a freelance writer and graphic designer. Liz Neisloss is a veteran journalist and writer who has worked for CNN based from Singapore, Chennai and at the United Nations in New York. She is now based in Mumbai. G. Venket Ram is an acclaimed photographer and the creative mind behind many a Culturama issue. www.gvenketram.com Annelize Booysen is a business consultant and social entrepreneur. She lived in Asia for more than a decade, which included three years in India. She is currently based in the United States. Namita Jain, founder of Jaldi Fit, is a leading fitness guru and a businesswoman who helms Kishco, a world-class cutlery brand.

Contributors Susan Philip is a freelance writer based in Chennai, and the editorial coordinator of Culturama’s various coffee table books. Eknath Easwaran (1910–1999) was a spiritual teacher, author and interpreter of Indian literature. In 1961, he founded the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation and Nilgiri Press in California. Shailaja Khanna writes on music, musicians and music matters

Letters to the Editor Dear Editor,

Just a line to say that I loved the piece on Pandit Nehru in anticipation of Children's Day on 14th November. It was good to be reminded of an era when the Prime Minister embodied an elegance of mind and action. When he took time off to be with children, it was to refresh his own spirit with the purity and innocence of a child's vision. You may not remember that it was also a time when cartoonist Shankar ran a magazine devoted to the drawings, poems and stories by children of that era, a celebration of Young India when even older people were young at heart. Could it be that there was a sentiment called love inspiring them? - Geeta Doctor

Dear Editor,

I am a subscriber of your wonderful magazine right from its inception. My family and I look forward to receiving the copy Culturama every month - Ravindra Kumar Bhuwalka

culturama – Subscribe Now! Get your Culturama e-magazine - visit www.culturama.in For other enquiries, e-mail us at culturama@globaladjustments.com or call us on +91-44-2461 7902


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SMS by Suzanne McNeill

Short cultural snippets for an easily digestible India

Art/textile/craft: Bomkai Saris Distinctive, brightly coloured Bomkai saris are woven from silk or cotton on traditional handlooms. The textiles originate from the coastal regions of the eastern state of Odisha (Orissa), and are associated with the Bhulia weaving community. Bomkai saris blend ikat yarns – created by a precise process of resist dyeing, which, when woven, produces patterns of vibrant colours with slightly ‘ghosted’ edges – with intricate embroidery work using gold or silver zari thread, particularly on the borders and heavily embellished pallu. The saris are characterised by contrasting colours – yellow with green borders, orange with black, grey with blue – and the motifs that pattern the textiles are inspired by tribal art, representing birds, fish, tortoises, lotus and gourd plants. Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai wore a Bomkai sari for her wedding.

Food: Ganne ka ras Summers are said to be incomplete without ganne ka ras or sugarcane juice. Stalls and carts selling ganne ka ras are to be found at every roadside across India, serving shoppers who are feeling the heat. Using old-fashioned, but often beautifully maintained, machines that look like mangles, vendors produce glasses of fresh, cooling juice that is rich in nutrients and vitamins and is a natural health drink although it is, of course, full of calories. Sugarcane is grown across India. The canes are peeled and chopped into lengths that are fed through the machine, which crushes them, extracting the green juice. This is served over ice, or flavoured with ginger and lime and maybe a dash of mint. Packaged varieties are now available for those wary of eating from roadside stalls, and traditional sugarcane juice has found its way into food courts and restaurants, where it is blended into fruit juices, milkshakes and mocktails.


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Name: Kovind

school, he had to walk six kilometres every day, but was an exemplary student who graduated with degrees in Commerce and Law from Kanpur University. He planned to join the civil service, but having struggled to pass the entrance examination, opted for law, enrolling as an advocate in 1971 with the Bar Council at the High Court of Delhi. He soon rose to positions of prominence. From 1977 to 1979, Kovind was advocate for the Central Government and also served as the personal assistant to India’s then Prime Minister, Morarji Desai. He became an advocate in the Supreme Court from 1980 to 1993.

The President of India

Politics beckoned. He joined the BJP in 1991, and was elected a Member of Parliament in 1994, serving six-year terms twice during which he focused on social justice and empowerment, law and education in rural areas, taking a lead in providing free legal aid to India’s minority communities. He also served as the party’s national spokesman between 2010 and 2012. Kovind was appointed Governor of Bihar by the then President of India in 2015, and in 2017 became the BJP nominee for President. Ram Nath Kovind was appointed the 14th President of India in 2017. A lawyer-turned-politician, he is the second member of the Dalit community to hold that position, and has long championed the rights of minorities and scheduled castes. Kovind was born in 1945 into a Dalit family in the village of Paraukh in Uttar Pradesh. His father ran a small shop and, tragically, Kovind’s mother died when he was just five years old when their dwelling caught fire. In order to attend junior

Word: Maska

Kovind is described as a simple and selfless individual. He donated his ancestral home to the people of his village to use as a community space. It is said that on a homecoming to his village, he was presented with ceremonial headpieces, which he politely declined, asking that the money be used instead to fund the marriages of local girls. He is an avid reader who enjoys books about politics and social change, law, history and religion.

Maska means butter. A Hindi word with its roots in Sanskrit, it is familiar across the country, and is often accompanied by a hand-waving gesture that demonstrates spreading butter on bread. Maska bun, an evening treat in Mumbai, is a sweet fruit bun that is lavishly spread with butter. It is accompanied by a cup of hot tea. The word is commonly used in the phrase maska lagaana, which means to butter up or flatter someone, to heap praises on them, usually, with an ulterior motive. At its worst, it means to be obsequious: ‘Maska kyon mar raha hai?’ ‘Why are you flattering me?’ It can be used in jest, as in ‘Kyaa maska laga rahe ho?’ ‘You are flattering me effusively, aren’t you?’ Amul, producers of India’s most widely consumed butter, puns on this meaning by substituting the word maska with ‘Amul’: ‘Amul laga rahe ho?’ Another version is the phrase ‘Maska polish’, ‘Are you maska polishing me?’ – ‘Are you flattering me?’ Literally, ‘Are you polishing me with butter?’ As Indians love to rhyme, it is also heard as ‘maska chaska’. The meaning remains the same. ‘Are you maska chaska(ing) me?’


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‘We are receiving very positive feedback, keep up the good work,’ Dr Swarna I.A.S

The Tamil Nadu Secretariat employs thousands of women who not only administer but also govern their homes. Knowing the challenges they face as well as the leadership potential that is waiting to be tapped, the State Government organised Job+, a first-of-its-kind women life-leadership programme designed exclusively by Global Adjustments Foundation (GAF). The programme is held every Tuesday and Thursday, empowering 100 women at a time at the Anna Institute of Management. The aim is to fill the government women workforce with over 1500 championwomen over a period of time. Phanindra Reddy IAS, Director, Anna Institute of Management, and Dr Swarna IAS, head of the Personnel and Administrative Reforms Department of the Tamil Nadu Government, inaugurated the month-long one-day workshops. They expressed their gratitude to Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary Girija Vaidyanathan IAS, and the team led by Ranjini Manian, Founder Chairperson, GAF, who came together to empower these women in the workforce to integrate work and life by further developing their physical, emotional and leadership skills.

#Championwoman integrate work-life! women working in the Tamil Nadu Secretariat were shown how to juggle various responsibilities and to hone their leadership skills

‘The day was filled with fun activities, role-plays and games driving a thought-provoking life message with each. The programme took us through various phases of our life, reminding us of childhood joys, the need for high self-esteem, ways to experience physical, mental and emotional well-being, teamplaying and gender understanding,’ says Lakshmi, one of the participants. ‘The day was packed with interesting segments that not only made our day memorable but also gave us triggers to re-design our paths in order to champion our lives and build the nation,’ says Tamizhselvi. Several participants asked for regular follow-up programmes and workshops for men too, to sustain and make it holistic.

If you are a manager in a corporate organisation, college or high school, please invite us to hold a sample seminar to empower women at your institution. The seminars will be free of cost for the institution and trainees. Content can be tailor-made on request. Call Usha Ramakrishnan, Director, Global Adjustments Foundation at +91-9840520394 or e-mail usha@globaladjustments.com Follow us on:

/GlobalAdjustments

/GlobalAdjustmentsFoundation

In this holiday season light up a real woman's life by supporting her college education – empower her with physical, emotional and leadership skills.


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meeting, playing no role, just listening. Preeti, equally talented and hardworking, joined on the same day as Shalini. She came to meetings after asking what advance preparation she should make. If the manager told her to read the minutes of previous meetings she may not have attended, she would do that. When she attended meetings, she would raise her hand and say things like, ‘Sorry, I was not at the earlier meeting, but was there a suggestion to bring the Bengaluru team into this meet on a call?’ `Oh yes,’ the manager would say, ‘let’s dial them in now. Thank you for the reminder, Preeti.’ Who do you think gets promoted faster? a. b. c.

Shalini Preeti Neither – a man supersedes them. In an earlier world scenario, a man who spoke up mostly advanced in his career. But if a woman speaks up positively, and truly contributes, she could get as much of a chance as a man in today’s world.

#Championwoman by Ranjini Manian

Participate with a Strong Voice “What would you like to have? Tea or coffee?” “Anything will do.” Is that a typical answer I give? Then I am not getting into the Championwoman mode. Championwomen participate in life with a strong voice. We do our homework thoroughly. Then we make choices. Finally, we speak up, offering clear solutions or options, and we stick to these till we reach our goal. And it starts with practice – by stating whether I want tea or coffee, or maybe even neither. By stating clearly and politely my opinion, my voice gets heard. I am not taken for granted. I stand up, and hence I am counted. Shalini was a new member of the office team. She was talented and hardworking. She sat through meeting after

The Championwoman is totally focused and does her own planning on how to contribute. She then sets about delivering. And then she communicates via e-mail or on the office WhatsApp group proactively, sharing a milestone or seeking a suggestion on what she delivered. Pointing out one’s own value enhances it. Isn’t it blowing one’s trumpet? Well, if we don’t blow it ever, the trumpet may be used as a spittoon! Championwomen fully participate and speak up for good or against bad with solutions. We always make the world a better place! Popcorn is the acronym for a championwoman who jumps up and is counted. Here is what POPCORN stands for:

P O P C O R N

*Power – Use it for good. *Openly – That’s how you seek and accept support. Participation – Do it whole-heartedly. Confidence – Let that be your hallmark. Optimism – It should be your driving force. Remaining authentic – Make it your goal. Never give up – This is your guiding principle.

* Refer issues October and November 2018 for more.

We are crowdfunding. Look for our Shakti Scholars at milaap.org

DONATE NOW


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Value Vignettes by Susan Philip

Words of

Wisdom Vak – the power of speech, or rather, of effective communication – is a quality that the Bhagavad Gita holds up for praise in the ideal woman.

Avvaiyar is a name familiar to Tamilians. The root of the name is Avvai, meaning wise old woman. It is commonly held that Avvaiyar was a wise old poetess. Actually, the term refers to not one but various women. The Avvaiyars lived in different historical eras, but they were all valued for their wisdom and their ability to communicate this wisdom in a pithy way. They were respected in the courts of several kings, although they were unafraid to call out rulers for misrule or misconduct. They guided both matters of state and the life of the common man through their verses. Popular legend, which telescopes the various poetesses into a single entity, has it that Lord Murugan clothed the young and wise Avvai with the looks of an old woman so that she would not have to get married and be tied down by family responsibilities, and, instead, would use her wisdom for greater good. The poems of Avvaiyar deal with matters of both morality and spirituality. The values they propagate are still valid today, thousands of years after they were written. In fact, Avvaiyar’s crisp verses are among the first Tamil lessons that children are taught even in this, the 21st century.

At the Core Research shows that girls usually start speaking at a younger age than do boys. They learn to harness the power of words faster. Although there is no conclusive research to either support or disprove it, the common perception is that women talk much more than men do. But at the heart of the multiplicity of their words, there is always wisdom and

insight. The perceptive man, family, institution and society realises this, tunes in to what a woman is saying, weighs it and finds value in it.

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History has many examples of women who were valued for their wisdom and the skill with words necessary to push those with power into introspection and action. At the more humdrum level, a child usually learns his first words from his mother. And at the crossroads in an individual’s life, it is more often than not the wise words of a grandmother which tip the scales in favour of one path or the other.

Kasturba, his wife. She was more or less uneducated, but she supported him in all his endeavours with courage and dignity. She was unafraid to stand firm against him when she thought he was in the wrong. Acknowledging the important role she played in his life, Gandhiji wrote: ‘If anything she stood above me. But for her unfailing co-operation I might have been in the abyss… She helped me to keep wide awake and true to my vows. She stood by me in all my political fights and never hesitated to take the plunge. In the current sense of the word, she was uneducated; but to my mind she was a model of true education.’

Speaking for the Gods The ancient Greeks consulted the Oracle of Delphi, the high priestess of the Temple of Apollo, for all kinds of things. Many undertook long and dangerous journeys to reach Delphi and seek the advice of the Oracle. The advice was found so good that from the 7th century BC to the 4th century BC, the Oracle at Delphi was the most powerful woman of the region. The position of priestess was such a revered and respected one that it attracted a lot of benefits, including a salary and housing provided by the state, and exemption from taxation!

Indira Gandhi

Kasturba Gandhi

Connecting with the Common Man Indira Gandhi, India’s first and, to date, only woman prime minister, was a shy, reticent woman in her private life. But she was known for her charisma and communication skills in her public persona. Her speeches touched a chord with varied audiences and converted into votes for her Congress party. Through slogans like garibi hatao (eradicate poverty), she endeared herself to the masses. She spoke in simple, easily understandable Hindi when she communicated with the rural population. She empathised with the poor, and set the ball rolling for inclusive schemes. She was also at ease with foreign dignitaries and able to hold her own in the cut and thrust of political dealings, be it at the intra-party, national or international level.

Editor’s Note Vak or the word is powerful, not only when it is spoken but also when it is NOT spoken. What a woman says is as important as what she does NOT say. Very often, women will happily accept (as opposed to tolerate) differences and communicate intelligently for inclusivity. We will be able to harness the power of intelligent communication better if we have a balance of men and women in the workforce. So, let us consciously include more women in the productive workforce for nation building in every land.

Ba and the Mahatma

Well Said!

The world knows the greatness of Mahatma Gandhi. But few realise that a pillar that supported his greatness was

‘A woman with a voice is, by definition, a strong woman.’ —Melinda Gates


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Driving Forces by Suzanne McNeill

The Way to the

Heart

Food does not merely nourish the body but nurtures relationships as well. Joys, sorrows, love, devotion are all expressed through tasty dishes that not only please the tongue and fill the stomach but satiate the soul as well Food plays a key role in Indian culture, and relationships are built through preparing, offering and serving food. When you offer someone food, you are also offering friendship; and when you invite someone home for dinner, you are actually inviting the person into your life. In a Nutshell At dinner, an Indian host will courteously offer each

dish several times to the guest. The guest will be asked to take econds, and the host will keep an eye on the plate while the guest is eating, spotting the moment part of the plate looks empty and politely replenishing it. This kind of excessive hospitality is very much a driving force of Indian behaviour, and is rooted in the Sanskrit saying, ‘atithidevo bhava’, meaning the guest is god. Offering food to the guest is the same as offering food to the gods.


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Taking a Closer Look So what happens is this. You are invited to an Indian’s home. Perhaps you are the only expatriate there, and you may find it a little strange as your colleague’s family and other relatives are attending on you, serving you and watching you eat. It can be discomfiting; but from the Indian side, it’s a question of serving the guests and looking after them really well before feeding themselves. Moreover, there will be a lot of food! An Indian host won’t make just one dish, however wholesome or complete. When looking after guests, a host will make several dishes as the more there are, the more respect that is shown to the guests. And the food itself will be enriched with all the good things in life – ghee, cream and sugar. It is a unique aspect of India that food is measured both in the quality of taste and the quantity of dishes served. Of Abundance and Sharing The ultimate expression of this is the abundance of food traditionally served at an Indian wedding, particularly in urban India. Guests are plied with food all through the many parties and ceremonies associated with a wedding, and the wedding breakfast may feature anything between 25 and 40 different dishes – 27 were counted recently at a Tamil marriage feast – so it is inevitable that there will be food left over at the end. Formerly, leftover food would be distributed around the village where the ceremony was held. Nowadays families may tie up with an urban-based NGO and give the leftover food for distribution to the homeless or to orphanages at the end of the festivities.

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The Here and Now About 30 percent of Indians are vegetarian (which is fewer than many think). Once it would have been unthinkable for a vegetarian Indian to eat alongside someone eating meat. This is rare nowadays, but it’s good to be aware of such sensitivities. What you will experience is the relish with which Indians talk about food (‘Have you had your lunch?’ from mid-morning onwards) and with which they enjoy and share their food. Indians like to eat with their hands – touching food and licking their fingers is all part of appreciating what mother earth has to offer (and means less washing up, too!). When eating out, it’s common to order two dishes and share them. In fact, it’s a surprise for Indians living overseas to find that their fellow diners don’t necessarily want to taste a bite of their food or share the dish they’ve ordered. Similarly, an Indian may find it discourteous that a Westerner may not even share a bottle or glass of water. For the Westerner, it’s their drink, they’ve put their mouth to the glass or bottle, and consequently sharing is out of the question. However, Indians can drink water like a waterfall without touching the bottle with their lips, so they can offer to share. These are small and subtle behaviours that show how food and drink form relationships. Understanding this will take you far in both business and friendship. Cultural Expressions ‘Will you have tea or coffee?’ ‘No thank you, I just had breakfast.’ ‘Oh, please, at least have a lime juice, that’s light.’

‘No, I really don’t want anything.’ ‘Then can I get you a glass of water?’ ‘OK then, water will be great…’ This is the kind of conversation that starts when you come into an Indian scenario! Repeatedly offering you something to eat and drink is a way of offering you courtesy and respect, and as a guest you are expected to accept one of these offerings just because it is offered so graciously. You will always do well to accept and even if you can’t finish your drink, take a little sip to be pleasant and to build camaraderie. An invitation to a cup of tea is also an offer of a warm relationship. World Echoes Interestingly, unlike many other parts of the world, Indians aren’t actually good at doing business over a meal! Because food itself is such an important aspect of relationship building, it often happens that the food will be the subject of the discussion for Indians. Talking about business while having a meal doesn’t come naturally. The flip side of this is that when Indians have to manage a meeting with Westerners over a meal, some preparation in the etiquette of how to do this is very helpful! In Conclusion If you’re hosting an Indian colleague in another culture, don’t serve cold food or salad with fresh leaves or a single baked dish. By Indian standards, it looks as if you haven’t taken any trouble to cook for them and have just plucked some greenery from the garden! There have been times when Indian visitors attending corporate events in the United States, for example, have felt they haven’t been hosted graciously because of these small differences that exist in the way food is observed in India and overseas. Serve cooked meals and serve seconds, if not thirds, and you will find your friendship and business relationships with India are cemented!


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Innovative Cancer Treatment Cancer treatment equipment launched for underprivileged children in Chennai Oxymed Hospital

culturama

When nations come together it leads to the good of all of humanity. South Korean Government Trade Promotion Agency’s worldwide Corporate Social Responsibility Project, KOTRA, sponsored the launch of innovative cancer treatment equipment in Chennai along with AdipoLABs Co. Ltd., South Korea, and supported by Oxymed Foundation, the social responsibility division of Oxymed Hospitals, and UNWHD (United World Halal Development). Surgery is one of the most preferred options for cancer treatment in the recent past. From keyhole to pinhole, and laser to cyber knife, non-invasive treatments have made tremendous progress over the years. Oxymed Hospital has been pioneering treating patients with cardiac, orthopaedic and diabetic non-healing wounds and giving solutions without surgical intervention for the past 15 years. Focusing on innovative non-invasive treatments, Oxymed Hospital has ventured into treating cancer in collaboration with AdipoLABs of South Korea (www.adipolabs.com), innovative cancer treatment machine manufacturer, using high-frequency hyperthermia, which increases body temperature to enhance cell functions safely without stimulating the sensory and motor nerves. The patient results achieved were very encouraging at Oxymed Hospital based on the AdipoLABs protocol. KOTRA, is a non-profit government organisation, a trade section of Embassy of South Korea, present in 85 countries with 126 branches worldwide. For further details visit www.kotra.or.kr.


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Holistic Living by Eknath Easwaran

Life Is a

Trust

Photo: Diana Grieger, German

life bestows us with blessings so that we may use them to help others. But even if we are unable to render any great service, doing no harm could be our primary motto

‘At the time of creation,’ the Bhagavad Gita says, ‘the Lord gave humanity the path of selfless service.’ In other words, we are not given life for our own enjoyment. Our highest duty is to give back to life. Life is a trust, and each of us is a trustee whose job is to use the assets entrusted to us for the greatest benefit to all. It follows that the real mark of an educated man or woman is not university degrees but how much they contribute to the welfare of others, and the question to ask at graduation is not ‘What job will bring me the best salary or the most prestige?’ but ‘How can I help to make the world a little better for my having lived?’ In the Bhagavad Gita, Sri Krishna tells Arjuna, who represents you and me, ‘I have asked the sun to give you life,


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the sea to give you water, the clouds to give you rain, the winds to purify the air you breathe, and the trees and plants to give you food. I have asked all the forces of nature to give you everything to satisfy your needs. Therefore, if you try to live for yourself without returning this to me – drinking my water, eating my food, doing everything with my energy all the twenty-four hours – what is the difference between you and a thief?’ When the Lord hits hard like this, I imagine Arjuna scratching his head self-consciously like Laurel of Laurel and Hardy used to do. It is as if he were thinking out loud, ‘I never thought of it like that before!’ It is easy to identify with Arjuna’s embarrassment. Sri Krishna is appealing to our sense of dignity and self-respect in order to encourage us. Nobody likes being a parasite. Everybody likes to contribute something. When people do you a favour, you like to find a way of doing them a favour in return. And when it comes to our relations with the guiding principle of the universe, Sri Krishna is kind enough to spell out to us human beings, who tend to be forgetful of these things, just what we can do in order to return these magnificent favours. We can use the energy he gives us, he says, to live for all, thereby promoting the cause of unity among all creatures. This is far more than a subtle hint. In no uncertain terms the Lord is letting us know that this is his law, the underlying law of life. To the extent we live in accordance with this law, everything will tend to work in our favour, and thus to favour the whole. All we have to do is live by the rule. In this sense, none of us is ever unemployed. We always have a job to do. We are sent into life for one task: to enrich the lives of others.

to other people or other creatures, we are violating the most basic law of life. I am a vegetarian, for example, not merely because of age-old custom, but because I know that the divinity that is present in my heart and yours is present in every living thing. When we begin to look at life this way, we may well find that we have got ourselves involved unwittingly in work that the Buddha would call ‘wrong occupation’. This can be a distressing discovery with very awkward consequences. There is no point in blaming ourselves if we find that in ignorance of the unity of life, we have taken up a job that is at the expense of life. Yet once we realise this, it is incumbent on each of us to withdraw from such activities, even if that entails a cut in pay or a turbulent period of looking for work where we can use our skills in more beneficial ways. If followed sincerely, this one simple principle – ‘first, do no harm’ – could transform our society. Imagine what would happen if all the talent, time and resources that now go into military research, violent or sensate entertainment, and the production and marketing of products that are harmful to health were diverted to solving the problems of unemployment, homelessness, abuse and violence that plague this country, the richest on the earth. Even if our paying job does not make much of a contribution, there are many opportunities for selfless service where we can offer our time, energy, skills and enthusiasm to a cause bigger than ourselves. Extracted from ‘Life Is a Trust ‘, first published in A Journal for Spiritual Living Published by the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation & Nilgiri Press www.easwaran.org and reprinted in Summer 2012, Volume 23, Number 2, https://www.bmcm.org/ documents/24/2012Summer.pdf

‘First, Do No Harm’ The very first criterion for a good job in the Gita’s view, then, is that it not be at the expense of others. The Buddha considered this so important that he made Right Occupation part of his Eightfold Noble Path. It reminds me of the physician’s oath: “First, do no harm.” I think that is a very good oath for all of us to swear by. If we want to improve the quality of our lives, the very first step is to be sure that our livelihood is not gained at the expense of life. Any job that brings injury or suffering to any other creature should be shunned as unworthy of a human being. ‘All creatures love life,’ the Buddha says. ‘All creatures fear death. Therefore do not kill, or cause another to kill.’ Even if we only lend support to activities that bring harm

Indra Nooyi

Join Us Every Saturday Global Adjustments Office, Chennai, facilitates a free weekly spiritual fellowship group following Easwaran’s Eight–Point Programme of Meditation. E-mail us for more information at globalindian@globaladjustments. com. If you are in other cities, visit www.bmcm.org for e-satsangs.


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"Tour South India like a walk around your Courtyard." Trails of South India: January -

In 2 nights and 3 days, travel back in time and experience South India

Chola Trail (Tanjore, Darasuram & Gangaikondacholapuram in Tamil Nadu), Chettinad Trail (Karaikkudi & Pudukkotai in Tamil Nadu), Vijayanagara Trail (Hampi in Karnataka).

February -

Chalukya Trail (Karnataka), Nayanmar Trail (Thiruvarur, Thiruppungoor, Thiruchengattankudi & Chidambaram in Tamil Nadu), Colonial Trail (Pondicherry & Tranquebar in Tamil Nadu), Ajanta-Ellora Trail (Maharashtra).

March -

Shivaratri Trail (Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu), Chettinad Trail (Karaikkudi & Pudukkotai in Tamil Nadu), Kalinga Trail (Bhubaneshwar, Puri and Konark in Orissa), Hoysala Trail (Belur, Halebidu and Somnathapura in Karnataka).

One-Day Tours: A visit to the capital and port cities of the Pallavas – Kanchipuram and Mamallapuram Chennai-City Tours: Explore the city of antiquity through Pallava, Chola, Vijayanagara & British Era in a day Bookings open for: Individuals | Groups | Families | Corporates | Institutions +91 98840 13485

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A Chennai-based heritage travel company curating and conducting tours across South India on History, Art, Architecture, Culture, Textiles, Crafts and Food.

/courtyardtours

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Rahul Vellal, the child prodigy and winner of the award in the Rising Star category, rendered ‘Vaishnava janato’, Mahatma Gandhi's favourite

Capturing the Essence of India Culturama, along with its sister publication, Living, awarded excellence in various fields apart from felicitating photographers who won the Photo Contest held recently. Dance and ramp walk by expatriate women to Indian music made the awardS evening memorable. The Culturama Photo Contest, an annual event capturing the diversity of India through the eyes of the expatriate, this year too saw several participants submitting a variety of photographs that captured the entire gamut of Indian life. From the tall peaks of the Himalayas to the coasts of the south, from sunrise to the darker alleys, from people steeped in traditions to embracing modernity, from spirituality to humour in daily life…

The three judges, Krongkanit Rakcharoen – Consul General, Royal Thai Consulate General; Simon Buensch – Vice President Operations, Pfizer, Chennai; and Latha Menon – Filmmaker, painstakingly assessed every entry before declaring winners across the four categories: Into India, Places, Faces and Culture & Festivals. Living legends from the fields of music, humanities, culture, industry, business, sports and many more were also awarded for their


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Looking graceful and elegant in Indian ghagra choli of vibrant hues, the women sashayed up and down the ramp

The glittering Black and Diamond ramp walk

Forming lasting friendships with the world

contributions. The US Consul General for South India, Robert Burgess, set the tone for the evening with his talk on leadership. Expats created an amazing evening by dancing to Bollywood tunes and walking the ramp displaying ethnic wear as well as diamond jewellery. The proceeds from the event will be utilised by Global Adjustments Foundation, an organisation that provides life coaching to deserving women, to hand-picked deserving aspirants in specific areas of prominence and fuel their growth by financially supporting them in fulfilling their dreams, educating their families, connect them to appropriate mentors and providing continued support for three to five years from the day of association. The event was sponsored by presenting sponsor Radiance Realty, supporting sponsor American International School, Sathyabama University, Viswa & Devji, Phoenix and Palladium, Fedora, and hospitality partner Le Royal Meridien.

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A Thousand Words Culture & Festival

The winning entries

2

nd

1

st

prize

prize

Don’t even think of it On behalf of Florence Poggi, France

Thatching the roof Alexis Dupuy, France

Faces 2

nd

1

st

prize

prize

Earrings a plenty Anne Marie Lucie Bollen, The Netherlands

Pink Panther Klaus Koehler, Germany


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Early Years 5 through Grade 2 students improve their spelling and writing skills during the Arts, Sports and Activities (ASA) Program. The afterschool ASA Program strives to provide an atmosphere where children can enjoy, grow, and learn in a less formal setting.

w w w. a i s c h e n n a i . o r g #AcademicExcellence #RaptorASA

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Into India 1

st

prize

The winning entries

2

nd prize

A guiding hand sharing knowledge

A guiding hand sharing knowledge

Christoil Allory, France

Helle Stromholt, Denmark

Places 1

st

prize

The monastery on the moon land, Ladakh

An India Moment Picture

Naoya Iida, Japan

2

nd prize

Rowing a boat over the sky

Baaaa‌baaaa.. scooter Takashi Watanabe, Japan

Joel Verany, France


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Feature by Meera Srikant

The Coast Comes Alive with the

Sound of Music


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From December 15 to January 15 every year, Chennai is a city transformed – dotted with performances of music, dance and drama throughout the day by thousands of upcoming and established artistes. Margazhi, the Tamil lunar month, coincides with the Zodiac sign Sagittarius and falls approximately between December 15 and January 15 every year. The earth is closest to the sun at this time of the year, and the northern hemisphere should have faced extreme summer. But because it faces away, it is a time of suffused light and coolness. For the Tamilians from Tamil Nadu, India, it is also a spiritually energising month. They set aside all personal celebrations during these 30 days and focus on activities that enhance their spiritual energy. Women wake up early in the morning to draw large flour patterns on the floor. Men, women and children visit the temple and chant divine names. Sometimes, they go in a procession through the streets around the temples chanting the names; and even strangers join in, if not to chant, at least to clap and keep pace. The atmosphere is fragrant with the smell of flowers and incense sticks as well as the aroma from the divine offerings that the children love to eat after the puja. It is therefore befitting that this month should also see the greatest celebration of South Indian classical dance and music in the form of the Margazhi Festival in Chennai. Art is not mere entertainment in India and is often yet another way to reach out to the divine. Most of the themes of the classical songs and dance items are centred on the epics and divine stories that expound the concept of devotion in various forms. Artistes and connoisseurs await this period to soak in the ambience and immerse themselves in performing as well as enjoying top class performances that, through sheer brilliance, magically transport people to a different world. In fact, the popularity of the festival is such that hundreds of venues crop up to cater to the needs of local audiences who are unable to travel to the more established centres in one part of the city. Events begin at 7 a.m. and the last slot is fixed for 7 p.m. Time slots are allotted depending on the seniority and popularity of the artiste, with the most senior being given the last two slots of the day. A very senior artiste can perform in at least eight to ten venues in a month. Apart from catching up with the music and dance shows, one of the favourite pastimes of the connoisseurs during this period is planning their day, prioritising artistes they would like to listen to at their favourite venue. They hop from one venue to another in pursuit of ‘artistic excellence’. Over time, dance


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and drama have also become a part of the festival, which has compelled many sabhas (performance venues) to extend the event to January and even February. For the Five Senses The Margazhi Festival is so popular amongst the Tamilians that many living outside the state also plan their trips to the city at this time. Aspiring artistes living abroad also try to make their mark during this period, and any slot they get during the day is a matter of pride and celebration. Months of training and practice go into making it perfect, and with the eager hope of getting noticed by the press and the more established sabhas. But it is not just the artistes who prepare and plan for the ‘season’, as it is called. Men and women bring out their finery to look their best, for this is as important as any family wedding and one is likely to meet long-lost friends and even ‘distanced’ relatives. It is also common to find like-minded friends planning a jaunt to catch up on their favourites. And during the concert, Indian audiences also

love to indulge in some gloating as they try to guess the raga (musical framework) on which a particular song is based or openly expressing their admiration for a particularly difficult musical note being rendered. Being out all day and moving from one venue to another also works up the appetite. Tempting the weary audience with aromatic dishes are caterers who have established a base in various popular venues. The crowd in the food stalls is so huge that sometimes one wonders if it is the love for the art or tasty dishes that lures the audiences. In fact, the crowd could be larger in the dining areas than inside the concert hall! And some of the planning for the day is also influenced by which caterer serves the best lunch, which one the best dinner, and where beverages and snacks are the lure. From spirituality to sensuality, Chennai is a transformed place in the month of Margazhi. And it is not just the Tamilians who say this. In the next few pages, let us see how it beckons even the non-Indians.


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TASTE OF INDIA Immersing oneself in Indian culture

A vibrant session choreographed to engage all five senses and leave you with a deeper understanding with your sixth sense of what the Indian culture is truly about! Here you see the Valmet APAC leaders looking elegant and with a deep understanding of the Indian business culture.

For these and many more customised, one-of-a-kind programmes, reach out to us.

Call: +91-95516 95967 Email: vyjayanthi@globaladjustments.com

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Annual Musical Pilgrimage by Team Culturama

Christian Fourtet from France has been a regular to the Margazhi Music Festival for the past several years. He tells us what drew him to the music season. it has been like an annual pilgrimage for his wife Muriel and himself. read on to be inspired Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your India connection – did it begin because of your profession, as part of your travels, or art and culture?

My wife Muriel was a student of archaeology and her subject was India. She just loved the culture and was magically attracted to this nation. She came many times to India, at least 30 times in her lifetime. When we first met, it was the India connection and the India subject that was of common interest. Later it blossomed into love and we got married. Muriel was the one who first brought me to India. We often went to places like Hampi, Halebid, Belur, toured Rajasthan or went to Goa. But what really attracted us to come back year on year was Madras, which is now called Chennai, and exactly during the music season when Carnatic music fills the air. We would arrive here right on December 1 and leave only on January 5, staying with an Indian friend from college. I would wait for The Hindu newspaper’s announcement of the monthly concerts for music and dance that our Indian friend would send over, excitedly ticking the shows that we wanted to attend. I think the connection with India is deep, it is emotional, it has been palpable in our life, in the way we decorated our home. Muriel has a beautiful Shiva-Parvati in her kitchen. And she was always drawn to Shiva.

Christian Fourtet with their daughter Oriane Muriel’s work also required her to visit this part of the world and we just kept coming back. Sometimes we asked ourselves, shouldn’t we be seeing a new country, exploring a new destination like all our friends do? They save up and go to different parts of different continents. But somehow Muriel and I would just always be magnetically drawn to India because of its art and culture, because of the warmth of its people and especially because of its music and dance. What would your typical day be like during the season?

When we arrived in Chennai, I would go off early morning to the sadas (an assembly of artistes) to listen to the lectures and understand about ragas and how artistes plan new themes to present. What I loved about this month of music and dance was that it was almost free and publicly available. Of course, our favourite has been the Academie de Musique as I call it, the Music Academy, where we would go to listen to the explanation and then listen to the different programmes at 9 o’ clock or 11 o’ clock. Sometimes we would just stay back and have lunch at one of the sabhas. All of them serve great Indian food. But after a few years, our stomach became less tolerant of eating on banana leaves and eating all the spices. So we enjoyed some of it, but we would also steal away to a place like Amethyst and have a soup and sandwich and return to the kutcheris. In the evenings, our favourites were to attend the programmes in Brahma Gana Sabha, the Narada Gana Sabha


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or the Kartik Fine Arts, hopping from one sabha to another. We were spoilt for choice because we just loved listening to Aruna Sairam, who has such a verve to her music. My wife couldn’t stop herself from clapping out loud with her hands raised above her head. She would be the only one to clap like that in a hall of 2,000 people. TM Krishna is a favourite; his music is emotional and he weaves in and out of ragas with great acumen. We have always appreciated the tenor and quality of singing of Nithyashree Mahadevan, who is the granddaughter of another great singer of yesteryear, DK Pattammal. We realised that music coming through generation after generation of Carnatic music in a lineage seems to be a gift in Indian culture. I always loved listening to the veena, although my wife was not much interested in instrumental music. Mandolin is another instrument that I love listening to and never cease to be amazed at how such a Western instrument has been adapted to produce wonderful Carnatic music. We are very sorry to hear about your bereavement. I believe your wife wanted to be cremated like a Hindu, with Carnatic music playing in the background and that you will be returning soon to scatter her ashes. Do you see yourself returning to enjoy the music festival in the future?

Early this year, in February, Muriel, my dear wife of 35 years, left her body because of a lung condition. But well before she became ill, she and I had made a will. In her will she was very clear that she wanted to be cremated like a Hindu usually is in India and not to be buried like a Christian in France. She had also laid out exactly how she wanted her funeral to be done. We had carefully chosen the ragas of TM Krishna to play at her funeral service. It was with Indian music filling the air in a Paris hall that we cremated Muriel. This December I will come back to attend a few kutcheris, without Muriel in her body but with her spirit along with me in the form of her ashes to be scattered in the land that she always loved – India. My family and I plan to go to Rameswaram and in the Triveni Sangam her ashes will be scattered in the land that loved and nourished her with so much spiritual music. I have no doubt at all that Muriel will be reborn as an Indian in India. If there is one thing you would like to tell expats about the festival, what would it be?

My advice to the expats about the festival – you are living here surrounded by music. The difference is that in a festival like Salzburg Music Festival, there will be banners posted

Muriel – Teaches Parisian Art during one of her musical pilgrimages right from the airport to the town hall with information on where to go and where to listen. Here, it is all around you, but there is no advertisement. India expects you to discover her on your own. So please attend at least three or four music concerts and three or four dances every December and January. The best of India’s culture is portrayed through this. Language is no barrier. They sing in Tamil, Sanskrit, Telugu, Hindi and other languages. They dance also with some English explanation, but actually every part of an Indian’s body explains the story and the spiritual side of India. So do immerse yourself into the dance and music of India. I have often wondered why we were the only expats or one of the very few expats in a hall of a 1,000 people in most sabhas. I hope this will change in the coming years. Start with the Music Academy, where the tickets are hard to get. Go to the smaller halls where they are equally enriched with acoustics. Talk to an Indian friend about who are the top dancers and musicians to watch out for. I am very fond of dance, so I would go for dance performances. Muriel was less interested in dance, but I have enjoyed Alarmel Valli, Priyadarsini Govind and Shobana. Shobana is such an amazingly dynamic choreographer who brings the whole stage alive. And I wish that every expat who comes to India enjoy this music and dance because when we leave India, and even when we leave our body, it remains etched in our hearts forever.


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Warmed by the

Music by Shailaja Khanna

north indian classical music has its own festivals, celebrated in the north, where winters are cold but the spirit of music warm

Pt. Ravi Shankar

The first, the Sawai Gandharva Festival in Pune, is undoubtedly the largest in terms of audience size, touching up to 20,000 listeners. It is held outdoors in the second week of December, from the afternoon to around 10 p.m. A Pune resident recalled how earlier the festival was held through the night, and such was the dedication of the listeners that they never left their positions. Then, there were no tea and snack stalls, to which listeners now throng between recitals. Now in its 67th year, the festival is a four-day event. Every day there are about six to eight artistes who perform; it is still considered the launching pad for the careers of young vocalists. Just like in the south, North Indian winter too seems to be the time when classical music festivals are organised. And although the winters are pretty cold, after the searing heat of the summers, they provide the ideal ambience to enjoy dance and music festivals. Pune (Maharashtra), Jalandhar (Punjab) and Gwalior (Madhya Pradesh) organise the three oldest extant classical music festivals in North India. Each has its own distinct identity; each is held in memory of a legendary musician.

Pt Sawai Gandharva is today remembered as the most well-known disciple of Ustad Abdul Karim Khan, the founder of the vocal Kirana ‛gharana’ (‛gharana’ is a school of music, and in North India, there are several vocal ‛gharanas’ , usually named after the place the founder of the ‛gharana’ hailed from). The Sawai Gandharva Festival has traditionally been for vocalists only; around 40 to 45 years ago, instrumentalists of immense stature were also given a platform. Touted as the oldest classical music festival in India (and in its 143rd year now) Harivallabh was at one time


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Sawai Gandharva festival

the most prestigious classical music festival in North India. Held near an ancient Devi temple, the festival is held in memory of Saint-musician Baba Harivallabh in the last week of December every year. Earlier there used to be four or five all-night music concerts; now it’s restricted to the last night of the festival. This festival had the tradition of being an offering of music (‛haazri’) by the artistes who would come to perform free to get blessings. The careers of several artistes such as Pt Ravi Shankar are said to have blossomed after performances at the Harivallabh Sammelan. The great Kesarbai, who sang several times at Harivallabh, has said of its listeners, ‛They do not have the patience to wait while a musician crawls under the bed with a lighted matchstick looking for the exact nuance of a note!!! They want each sound to be explicit and healthy like their own temperaments!’ Once, crowds of over 20,000 used to congregate at the famous Devi Talao or ‛talab’ (pond); now not more than a thousand patient listeners sit through the bitter cold, in an outdoor tent, at temperatures below 0 degrees Centigrade. One of the main reasons for the extensive appreciation of classical music in the Kapurthala, Jalandhar region, was the

patronage given to classical music by the Kapurthala princes, specifically Kumar Bikrama Singh (younger son of Maharaja Nihal Singh). His ‛haveli’ (mansion) in Jalandhar, Bikram Hall, housed his Guru, Mir Nasir Ahmed, direct descendant of the legendary Father of North Indian music, Tansen, through his daughter’s line. They were veena players, as opposed to Tansen’s sons, who played the ‘rabab’, the precursor of the ‘sarod’. From the 1860s onwards, the Prince and his descendants actively encouraged musicians to visit, and the area resounded with music. The third festival is the Tansen Samaroh held in Gwalior, in memory of Tansen, who is said to have been born in Gwalior. A music festival in his name was apparently established after his death in 1589, and the tradition carried on since then with periods in between when the festival was not held. Nowadays it’s the Madhya Pradesh State Government that organises the Tansen Samaroh every December, at Tansen’s tomb, for three, sometimes four, nights. Again, it is held in the open, and one has to brave the bitter cold. Sadly, the stature of the festival in Tansen’s name, once a premier event, has faded with time, and today it is not a very significant festival.


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Following the Heart

by Team Culturama

There are people of non-Indian origin who have adopted the Indian performing arts as their own. We talk to a few to see what drew them to it, the challenges in pursuing it and the joy they derived from it

Ileana Citaristi, Italy How did you first get introduced to the Indian performing arts? When?

I was in search of a land where I could express in a total and unrestricted way those inner questions of the soul that could not find satisfaction in any of the solutions offered by the present patterns of living of this Western civilization. After completing my doctorate in philosophy and having worked for some years in both traditional and experimental theatre in my own country, Italy, I followed the calling of ancestral and inexplicable paths and reached this land of Orissa (now Odisha). Here, completely dedicated to the sacred art of Indian dance at the feet of my guru Padma Vibhushan Kelucharan Mohapatra, I am able to give shape to the inner striving of the soul and overcome the anxiety of human existence. I have been living in Odisha since 1979 in close contact with the people, their language and culture. I have also trained in Chhau dance of Mayurbhanj under the guidance of Guru Shri Hari Nayak, obtaining the title of ‘Acharya’ from the Sangeet Mahavidyalya of Bhubaneswar in Orissa. Do you continue to perform and teach?

I have given several performances and lecturedemonstrations in all the major centres in India, written articles on Oriya culture that have been published in Indian and foreign magazines, done research work for filmdocumentaries on Odissi and Chhau dances and conducted practical dance workshops for dancers and theatre workers by invitation from different institutions in India and abroad. I have performed in all the major dance festivals in India as well as in Italy, Argentina, Poland, France, Germany, Holland, Denmark, Hong Kong, Japan, the United States, Australia and Israel. Have you adapted Western themes in the Indian classical style?

I choreographed the Greek myth ‘Echo and Narcissus’ in

Mayurbhanji Chhau, which was a revelation at the East–West Dance Encounter held in Mumbai in April 1985. Some of my other works include ‘The Wreck’ (December 1988), ‘Icarus’ (July 1991), ‘Pancha Bhuta’ (January 1996), ‘The Journey’ (September 1998), ‘Images of Change’ (March 2000), ‘Surya Devata’ (December 2001), ‘Jarjara’ (January 2003) and ‘Still I Rise’ (February, 2005). Of course, I have worked on several Indian themes as well. I have also published books: The Making of a Guru – Kelucharan Mohapatra, His Life and Times (2001); Traditional Martial Practices in Odisha (2012); and My Journey – A Tale of Two Births (2015). Your tremendous contributions have gained recognition. Can you share some of your achievements? I am a top-grade artiste with Doordarshan and am


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empanelled as ‘outstanding artist’ in Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR). I have been awarded the prestigious title Leonide Massine for the Art of Dance in Italy in September 1992 and the Raseshwar award by the Sur Singar Sansad, Mumbai, in December 1994. In May 1996, I won the National Award for Best Choreography for my dance direction in the Bengali film Yugant directed by Aparna Sen. In 2009, I received the Pandit Jasraj Award from the Rotary Club of Hyderabad, the Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity from the President of Italy and in 2016 the NALCO Kharavela Award for my role as distinguished guru in Odissi dance. In January 2006, I was awarded the title of Padma Shri from the Government of India for my contribution to Odissi dance.

Luna Menguante, Spain How did you first get introduced to the Indian performing art? When?

In 2008, I discovered Bollywood dance during some cultural workshops in the town of Colmenar Viejo, Madrid, where I am from. From that moment I felt a great interest to know more in depth the dances of India, and especially the Indian classical dances, which I consider to be close to my way of being. Then I found a Bharatanatyam course in my city and I met my first teacher, Sohini Roychowdhury. From that moment I was totally in love with this dance. During one of the trips we made with the company, we visited Kerala, and saw classical dance performances of Mohiniyattam and Kathakali. Later I started to attend Mohiniyattam classes in Madrid with Master Eugenia Carrillo, and I then applied for an ICCR scholarship to travel to Kerala. Initially I thought about applying for the dance scholarship, but since all these dances need interpretation, I decided to learn Kathakali to be able to complement my career as a dancer. Since 2016 and with the great help and support of my tutor from ICCR, Madhurkankana Roy, I have been learning Kathakali in the Kerala Kalamandalam Deemed University of Art and Culture, under the tutelage of my teacher Arun Warrier. I larn Bharatanatyam from Manu Master and Mohiniyattam from Kalamandalam Hymavathy. What inspired you to take this up earnestly? Are you pursuing this as a hobby or profession?

My main dance form is Bharatanatyam; it helps me to

express myself better. Kathakali is a perfect complement to my training as a dancer, and my second love, Mohiniyattam is a form of meditation in movement for me. I simply study these dances for love and passion, to know myself better and to know other cultures through art. How do you relate to the themes and philosophies underlying the compositions? Have you also adapted your traditional lore to this art form?

My way of relating to the philosophy underlying this art is through conversations with my teachers, my colleagues and my neighbours in the town of Cheruthuruthy, attending all the shows I can and reading many books and articles on the subject. At the same time, I have made several adaptations of traditional music from my country with Indian dances and I collaborate regularly with one of the classic groups of the hip-hop scene in Madrid, NiĂąato y Agustito, adapting their lyrics to sign language with the hands, typical of these dances, called mudras.


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Do you get opportunities to perform back in your home country? Are you teaching this art there? What is the acceptance like?

In Spain, I have performed in different events related to culture, dance festivals, tourism fairs, street performances and music videos. I have also given several workshops of Bharatanatyam and regular classes in different schools, which have very good acceptance, and I hope to continue doing when I finish my studies in India.

Lucrezia Maniscotti, Italy How did you first get introduced to the Indian performing arts?

I was a teenager and I was studying Drama, so I was already involved in the theatre/acting field, when I came to know about an Indian Cultural Centre that was in my native town, Milan, run by the man who became a sort of mentor for me, Avinash Ganesh, along with his wife Mary. I started helping in this centre and assisting in organising exhibitions, concerts, Indian food, conferences... I can say I almost lived with this Indian family for about three years, I was doing puja every day, helping in cooking and at the same time listening to all kinds of Indian music, stories, and so on. In the meanwhile, I became fascinated with Indian classical dances, because I could recognise not only a lot of drama work but also dance, rhythm, poetry – a complete art form. So I started studying with Monica and Maresa, Italian students of the late Krishnaveni Lakshmanan. At the same time, at the University of Milan I started studying Indology (history of Indian culture: Sanskrit, philosophy, history, art, poetry, etc.) What inspired you to take this up earnestly? Are you pursuing this as a hobby or profession?

I soon started travelling to India and found a wonderful guru in Adyar K Lakshman. I started studying at his school Bharata Choodamani. I graduated with an M.A. dissertation based on the Mahabharata and then I got an incredible opportunity, a scholarship from the University of Milan for International Excellency, to study in India for a full year. That was the turning point. I came to Chennai and studied there 13 months continuously, every day at Lakshman Sir’s house/school, the whole day. I also underwent training in abhinaya with Smt Indira Kadambi, and music and nattuvangam training with Sri Seetharama Sharma sir. It was the best year of my life, and in 2009, I did my arangetram at the Kapaleeswarar Temple in Mylapore, Chennai. Coming back to Italy wasn’t easy at all... I realised I was

completed affected by ‘Indianity’! Till that point I did not understand that there was a very well-panned destiny for me, I was only studying what was giving me happiness. But then I realised that the practical was linked to the theoretical studies and my life was being guided towards Bharatanatyam. So since then I’ve been pursuing it as my main profession. How do you relate to the themes and philosophies underlying the compositions? Have you also adapted your traditional lore to this art form?

I’m constantly studying, and I love it. I’m currently working with the traditional repertoire and language. Of course, the language is constantly evolving... So sometimes I think I’m developing the traditions, adding maybe a little of my previous experiences into it. Do you get opportunities to perform back in your home country? Are you teaching this art there? What is the acceptance like?

In Italy, I perform quite often, but we have big challenges as we don’t have Carnatic musicians in Italy. We also don’t have a big Indian community (and very few South Indians), so it’s very difficult to get support. In spite of that, there are a lot of Italians interested in understanding the Indian culture and dance. I teach regularly, my school is called Sangam Academy, and has quite a good number of students of all ages, from different countries. We have simple courses as well as professional ones, where they have to also learn theory (history of India, Sanskrit, dance history, theory of dance like Natya Shastra) and also music, nattuvangam and abhinaya. We have some Indian teachers coming over twice a year to give intensive workshops.


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In Focus by Susan Philip

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Oh come, all ye faithful


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the growth of Christianity across the country – from a Submerged Church to one adorning the highest peak, from the time of the apostles to something as recent as the 20th century. Come December, the world gears up to celebrate Christmas. Fir trees festooned with tinsel, dusted with snow and sprinkled with winking stars and shiny baubles, rotund Santas in red felt caps, plum cakes and bow-tied packages – these are some of the conventional images of Christmas, and they are replicated faithfully to capture the spirit of the season in store windows, churchyards and homes. Most of these scenes are set in the Western world, where it is snowy winter at this time of the year, and, as such, the background is alien to much of India. Few realise, however, that Christianity in India is as old as it is in other parts of the world. The disciples of Christ set out almost simultaneously to different corners of the earth to spread his teachings. One of them set sail for a distant land where there were Jewish settlements. That man was Thomas, also called Didymus, one of the 12 apostles, the core group, so to speak, of Jesus’ disciples; and that land was India.

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Of course, this and other ancient churches have been rebuilt time and again, and the present structures are very different from the humble edifices that were originally erected. As time passed and the number of Christians grew, priests from Syria were sent to conduct services at these churches, and the language of worship was largely Syriac. The descendants of these early Indian Christians are now known as Syrian Christians. To get back to St. Thomas, he moved to the south-eastern coast and established churches there too, before being killed in what is today the city of Chennai. A heritage church stands on the hill where he met his end. It bears his name – St. Thomas Mount. And the Santhome Basilica, also in Chennai, is one of only three churches in the world built over the remains of an apostle. Seeking spice and Christ And that brings us to the fact that Christianity came to India not once, but twice. The second time, it was brought by Portuguese traders. They came to find pepper, and also the Christian communities that they had heard about. They set about In the apostle’s footsteps According to tradition, St. Thomas landed on the southwestern coast of India – present-day Kerala – in 52 AD. Muziris, an ancient port city and an important point on the Spice Route which is currently being excavated, is likely to have been his starting point. He moved through the region and subsequently went to the opposite coast, talking about Christ. He baptised several groups of people. It is believed that St. Thomas established seven churches on the south-west coast. The Kodungallur church in Kerala is popularly believed to be the oldest in the country and about as old as the oldest churches anywhere in the world. It is of historic and religious importance.


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introducing their own Latin-based form of worship. It was the Portuguese who discovered the place where St. Thomas was buried, and built the first church at Santhome. St. Thomas or another disciple of Christ, St. Bartholomew, is believed to have preached in what is present-day Goa too, but it was the Portuguese who were responsible for the large number of Christians in the State. In fact, Old Goa was known as the Rome of the East, such was its importance in the Roman Catholic system. Old Goa has many old churches, including the Basilica of Bom Jesus, where the relics of St. Francis Xavier are kept for veneration. These relics are brought out for public viewing once in 10 years, and devotees come from around the world to see them. Praise and worship After the Portuguese came the Armenians and other traders, who built churches for their own denominations in various parts of the country. There’s one in Chennai, built in 1712 and rebuilt in 1772. Step through a doorway to enter the compound which houses the church and the adjacent belfry with a cluster of six bells, and you leave behind the melee of the city and enter an oasis of peace. There are no Armenians in Chennai now, but the church is well looked


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after. Other Armenian churches are located in Kolkata and Mumbai. The British left a mark on the Christian scene in India too. As England had established its own Anglican order, the Englishmen who came to India as part of the East India Company and put down roots at Fort St. George in Madras needed a place of worship. They built the St. Mary’s Church in 1680 to fulfil this need. It is the oldest Anglican church east of the Suez. Worship services continue to be held there, and the marriages, birth and death registry is being maintained since the time of its consecration. Two of the earliest and most famous marriages solemnised there are those of Elihu Yale (who gave his name to Yale University, the United States) and Robert Clive, who laid the foundation for the British Raj in India. As different denominations set up churches for their followers across the country, ultimately, consolidation seemed a good option. Many of them were clubbed together regionwise as the Church of South India (CSI) and Church of North India (CNI). The St. John the Baptist

Church, simply known as John Church, in Meerut, Agra Diocese, was built in 1821 and is considered the oldest church in North India. The Medak Church in Telangana, originally consecrated in 1924, is one of the largest in Asia, and the diocese (an area under the charge of a bishop) it serves is the single largest in Asia, second only to the Vatican in the world. Up and down, unto the House of God Apart from these churches which are markers of the history of Christianity in India, there are some that stand out from others. One such place of worship is the Rosary Church in Hassan, Karnataka. It was built in 1860 on the banks of the river Hemavati. Everything was fine till the Gorur Dam was built nearly a 100 years later. The dam is opened during the monsoon season, and the water rises up the walls of the church till only the tip of the spire is visible when the rains are most heavy. Unsurprisingly, it is best known now as the ‘Submerged Church’. Another unique church is the Moravian Church at Leh in Jammu and Kashmir. It was built by East German missionaries in 1885, at an altitude of over 11,000 ft. Although it is almost 150 years old, it has a modern look, and is the highest church in the country. So, if you are in the neighbourhood of any of these churches, don’t forget to drop in and experience history. Culturama wishes all its readers Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


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A New Dimension to shopping Fabindia launches two Experience Centers in Chennai! Following the successful launch in Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore, Fabindia, the Indian lifestyle retailer, launched the Fabindia Experience Center in Chennai, in October, at two prime locations Alwarpet and Besant Nagar. Adding a new dimension to shopping, the Fabindia Experience Center houses its signature offering and more, to delight customers of varying age groups and differing needs. Fabcafe offers a nutritious and contemporary menu representing lndia's diverse cuisine from different regions, and also catering to those with food sensitivities and allergies. Patrons can opt for certified gluten free, nut free, grain-free and dairy-free options. The designated space for Organic India’s Wellness store, the Wellness Center, offers a wide range of healing herbs and vitamins for almost every kind of ailment including insomnia, indigestion, weight loss etc. Trained consultants are available for advice on various aspects of health, lifestyle and well-being. The first-ever Kids’ Zone in a retail outlet, Tugbug, is an exclusive recreational area for children where they can experiment with handmade toys and natural material like sand and clay, to express their aesthetic sensibilities.

Clothes and furnishings can be altered at the Alteration Center as a complimentary service post purchase of an item. The Interior Design Studio (IDS) provides right from consultancy on layouts, mapping spaces, product customization to color scheme coordination. Experts will visit the customer’s home and virtually create layouts using Fabindia furniture in a specially designed software, letting customers choose from the options. Fabindia is creating an engaging retail experience so that visitors experience the ethos, not just through the products they purchase but also through an immersive and inclusive experience. With 286 stores across 105 cities in India and 14 international stores, Fabindia Overseas Private Limited is India’s largest retail platform for a wide range of products produced by artisans mostly from rural areas. Our endeavor is to blend indigenous craft techniques with contemporary designs, presenting aesthetic and affordable hand crafted products to today’s consumers using natural materials and fibers. The product range extends from a large variety of apparel for men, women and children to home furnishings, furniture, gifts, jewelry, organic food and personal care products.


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A story of tradition, woven in silk.

Culturama December 2018  

Did you know that Christianity in India is as old as Christianity itself? The December issue of Culturama traces the spread of the religion...

Culturama December 2018  

Did you know that Christianity in India is as old as Christianity itself? The December issue of Culturama traces the spread of the religion...

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