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POWERED BY GLOBAL ADJUSTMENTS

50 Worth A

Thousand Words A look at the winning entries from the 20th Beautiful India Photo Competition

42 Large Tables,

Larger Hearts

Celebrate Christmas with a choice of indigenous goodies from across the country

December 2017 Volume 8, Issue 10

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Dear Readers,

As 2017 comes to a close, we have one more festive reason to celebrate with you all – Christmas will be in the air as you receive this issue in your hands. In India, Christians form around 2.3 percent of the population, but that is a whopping 24 million! And Christmas is as big a festival as Diwali or Eid for Christians and their friends of other faiths, too. Probably due to the influence of the media, many of us usually associate the term ‘Christmas’ with stockings, turkeys and carols (of which ‘Jingle Bells’ is one of the best known American songs in the world – it came into common parlance after it was first performed on Washington Street in Boston in 1857). However, what is interesting is that Christmas has been adapted in different countries to suit the local climate, region and cuisine.

For example, we hardly have fir trees in South India, so we innovate as best as we can. In line with environment-friendly values, instead of using a plastic fir tree, some of our expat friends decorated their Indian friend’s mango tree! It was just as much fun – and has become a new tradition in its own right. When I shared this with a group of friends, someone piped up and said the same thing was done with a banana tree in their home. The essence of all celebrations is the same, wherever we may be – after all, we are all interconnected on a deeper level. We come together during such celebrations to revel in this joyous connection, and to grow in inner peace and happiness. Festivals thus help to dissolve differences, albeit temporarily. Would it not be great if life were a permanent celebration and differences were permanently dissolved? This spirit is what we have tried to bring out in this year-end issue. What makes this edition even more special is that it captures the winning photographs from the 20th Beautiful India Photo Competition. The images shared by the 88 participants will be part of our treasured collection and shared through Culturama. The photos stand testimony to the friendships we have forged as well along the way. I hope you enjoy this issue. Wishing you a very merry Christmas! Ranjini Manian Editor-in-Chief globalindian@globaladjustments.com

Editor-in-Chief Ranjini Manian Managing Editor Yamini Vasudevan Creative Head Prem Kumar Graphic Designer Ankita Santhosh VP Finance V Ramkumar Advertising Chennai Shobana Sairaj / Madhu Mathi 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 No.: A2, SPL Habitat, No.138, Gangadhar Chetty Road, Ulsoor, Bengaluru – 560043. 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 Published and owned by Ranjini Manian at #5, 3rd Main Road, Raja Annamalai Puram, Chennai – 600028, and printed by K Srinivasan of Srikals Graphics Pvt Ltd at #5, Balaji Nagar, 1st Street, Ekkattuthangal, Chennai – 600032 Disclaimer Views and opinions expressed by writers do not necessarily reflect the publisher’s or the magazine’s.


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Letters to the Editor Dear Editor,

This photograph, titled ‘Dancing in the air’ was captured by Anurag Gupta of India. It won the First Prize in the Indian Wildlife category in the Beautiful India Photo Competition 2017.

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. Jane Kataria is a model, actress, radio jockey and writer. She is married to an Indian national.

Once I picked up the November issue of Culturama, I could not put it down till I completed it. Every issue is a treasure, and this one was filled with spiritual gems – right from the Editor’s note to Eknath Easwaran’s ‘Holistic Living’ to Karthikeyan’s story by Devdutt Pattanaik. ‘A Story A Day’ was particularly interesting – awaiting more in the forthcoming issues! Wonderful! Best wishes to the Culturama team. Kalamurthi, India

Dear Editor,

I have been a fan of Culturama for several years, since our posting to Chennai from 2009 to 2012. Each month I look forward to the feature stories in your magazine on varied topics, and am sure to find at least two or more features that attract my attention. I have noticed some lovely and very eye-catching photographs in the magazine – I recall my son Christopher and I also had a couple of photographs featured in Culturama in the past. Anita Nazareth-Wedick, Canada

Dear Editor,

I have seen the call for entries to the photo competition – which I used to participate in. I miss it very much, but have some sweet memories. Also wanted to share that I have just read another brilliant edition of Culturama. Tineke Sysmans, Belgium

Dear Editor,

The article on traditional Indian games was very nice, and took me back to my childhood. Many of us played these games, and they have been (mostly) forgotten over one generation. Also, the article ‘What Do Children Need?’ – on a much written subject – was very well penned. Peter Raj Kapoor, India

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


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Contents Regulars

26 Feature

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A walk through some of India’s prominent churches.

India’s Culture 8

Short Message Service

Short, engaging snippets of Indian culture.

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Our Chennai, Clean Chennai

What does it take to spread the message of cleanliness? The enthusiasm and effort of one person, apparently.

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At GA Foundation

Financial assistance and skills mentoring are provided by the Shakti Scholarship to help young girls pursue higher studies.

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Look Who’s In Town

Ralph and Sonia Hays from Mumbai talk about finding their feet in a country.

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Spotlight

Gear up for the Rann Utsav – a time for a mix of amazing music, dance and cultural performances.

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Picture Story

We showcase the winning entries from the 20th edition of the Beautiful India Photo Competition.

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India in Symbols

We take a look at the significance of mango, neem and banana trees.

Journeys Into India

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At Global Adjustments

A look at the fun-filled Awards Ceremony for the Beautiful India Photo Competition 2017.

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Large Tables, Larger Hearts

Celebrate Christmas with our pick of indigenous goodies.

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Holistic Living

Put meditation first, always.

Relocations and Property 70

Space and the City

Property listings in Chennai.


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SMS by Suzanne McNeill

Short cultural snippets for an easily digestible India

Art/textile/craft: Zardozi Embroidery Zardozi is part of India’s textile heritage that was brought to the country by the Mughals. In Persian, the words zar dozi translate literally as ‘gold-thread work’, and zardozi still creates an aesthetic that is associated with the opulence of the Maharajas, who used it to adorn textiles including court dresses, tapestries and wall hangings as well as trappings for elephants and horses. Today, it is chiefly associated with the city of Lucknow where it is still used to create sumptuously ornate attire, particularly for weddings. Also called metal embroidery, the technique requires a high degree of skilled craftsmanship. The elaborate designs associated with zardozi were once created using gold leaf and silver metal wrapped around silk thread. Nowadays the thread tends to be fine copper wire polished in gold and silver, and the embroidery is then studded with pearls, precious stones, beads and sequins. Zardozi designs are drawn onto a tracing sheet and then transferred to the fabric, which is stretched tightly over a wooden frame. A fine, hooked needle attached to a wooden handle called an ari is used by the embroiderer to catch and pull the thread up and down through the fabric. To complete the piece, the embroiderer hammers the threads flat, creating a dense, shining embroidery.

Words: Laat Saab Saab or sahab/sahib is a title of courtesy and respect meaning ‘the Master’, but during the colonial period the word became especially associated with a ruling white man. Usually spelled sahab or sahib, it would be pronounced ‘saab’. Laat is the Indianised way of saying ‘Lord’, and laat saab was a colloquial way of saying ‘Lord Governor’. Nowadays, it is used to refer to anyone who appears urban and educated; but it can also be used in jest, and to refer to someone who is haughty and superior.


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Name: Twinkle Khanna (aka Mrs Funnybones) Twinkle Khanna has reinvented herself several times: as Bollywood actress, then interior designer and now best-selling author. Whether writing a column for The Times of India or tweeting as ‘Mrs Funnybones’, Khanna is known for her honest and straightforward attitude laced with wit and humour. Tina Jatin Khanna was born in Mumbai in 1974 to parents Rajesh Khanna and Dimple Kapadia, who were both Bollywood superstars. Known as ‘Twinkle’, their daughter joined (as she puts it) ‘the family firm’, making her film debut in a romance called Barsaat in 1995. She worked throughout the rest of the 1990s, acting opposite some of Bollywood’s biggest stars. One was actor Akshay Kumar, whom she married in 2001, before happily leaving the film industry and opening her own interior design store in Mumbai. A self-professed science-fiction junkie, Khanna was a bookworm from her earliest days. She started writing during her awkward adolescence, using words to make fun of herself but also to create her own identity, developing the characters who were to grace her second book 20 years later. Her first book, Mrs Funnybones (2015), sold over 1,00,000 copies, making her the highest-selling female author in India that year. Part-based on the columns she writes for The Times,

it captures the frenzied life of a modern Indian woman. It is full of humorous observations with an eye to the absurd, but Khanna also takes a strong stand on social and political issues. She then turned to fiction with a collection of short stories set in a small-town India called The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad, one of which is to be adapted for the stage and will star veteran actor Lillette Dubey. The winner of several book and personality awards, Khanna is busy writing her third book.

Food and drink: Dil Pasand Dil pasand translates literally as ‘heart-choice’, and this teatime snack that is popular across all of South India appears to evoke a particular nostalgia in Bangaloreans. Dil pasand is a flaky bun, made with puff pastry and filled with a mixture of sweetened shredded coconut, chopped nuts and Italian-style tutti-frutti dried fruit mix, spiced with cardamom and nutmeg. It can be prepared as little round buns, or made as one large, round bake and cut and served in wedges. For many, it was an after-school treat to stop off at Iyengar’s Bakery, whose outlets were dotted around every suburb of Bangalore, and buy crispy dil pasand. It is thought that it originated from the candied-fruit mince pies eaten by the British soldiers once garrisoned in the city, the fillings of which were adapted to local ingredients over the years.


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In Focus by Jane Kataria

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Our Chennai Clean Chennai

The scene at a beach clean-up event organised by Namma Beach, Namma Chennai. Photos: Courtesy Namma Beach, Namma Chennai


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What does it take to spread the message of cleanliness? The enthusiasm and effort of one person, apparently Illustration: Maniam SELVAN

Cleanliness is attained not by cleaning up but by the consciousness of not littering. When Virginie Vlamick shares her thoughts on what cleanliness means – as in the quote above – it is clear that she is talking about an issue that is close to her heart. She is an amazing individual, whose passion, dedication and commitment to cleaning up the world reinforces my belief in the power of a single person in making a real change. Virginie Vlaminck is literally cleaning up the litter; and her efforts, aimed at creating awareness and raising collective consciousness about cleanliness, are having visible effects. Now, people are volunteering to not only clean up the beaches of Chennai but are also careful to not leave behind rubbish such as plastic, paper, wrappers and bottles. A cleaner and more beautiful India is in the works. I caught up with Virginie for a quick chat – excerpts from our conversation are given below. I am very impressed to see what you are doing and how much you care about the environment and Chennai beaches in particular. How did you get the idea of pursuing this work? Also, why Chennai? As you know, our foundation is called ‘Namma Beach, Namma Chennai’ which means ‘Our Beach, Our Chennai’. I started this project six years ago when my husband, Fileip, and I shifted to Chennai from Belgium. My husband works for a Belgian dredging company called ISD (International Seaport Dredging), which is a subsidiary of DEME – one of the largest dredging contractors in the world. Because of Filiep’s job, we have always had the pleasure of living next to the sea. Dredging is an excavation activity usually carried out underwater, in shallow seas or freshwater areas with the purpose of gathering up bottom sediments and widening the waterways. This technique is often used to keep waterways navigable and create an anti-sludge pathway for boats. The ocean has become a part of our life and we always settle in a house by the beach. I take my three dogs for a walk on the beach. The beaches and the sea in Chennai are excellent. But my morning walks were limited because of the waste and garbage all around. I had a desire to make the beaches of

Chennai cleaner and to add to the beauty of the local environment. So did you just start picking up garbage by yourself? It seems impossible for one person to take care of the vast coastline that we have here in Chennai… That is right. Initially, it was only me walking with a sack and collecting garbage on the way. Believe it or not, I am doing it till today! Even this very morning, before meeting you, I was picking up garbage. Over time, many people were asking what I was doing and why. Some of them would help; some of them were curious and would talk to me. Later, many of these people joined me in cleaning up the area. And one of them introduced me to Mr. I.H. Sekar, the founder of Nature Trust, which aims to protect the environment and various natural resources. The vision of the trust is to increase awareness, knowledge and interest among the public about the different aspects of nature and to motivate people to adopt eco-friendly practices including wastewater recycling, rainwater harvesting and organic farming. Nature Trust is promoting tree planting and conservation of rivers, tanks, lakes and watersheds. With common aims, we joined hands and Namma Beach, Namma Chennai was born. How do you create awareness amongst people? I guess just your own example may not be enough. Every morning when I take a walk, bag in hand to collect garbage, I see many people jogging, doing yoga and many other sorts of activities. Most of them would pay attention to what I am doing and ask me why I would do it, there is so much waste that it would not make any difference, and so on. I always reply, ‘Cleanliness is attained not by cleaning up but by the consciousness of not littering’. We brush our teeth daily, wash the dishes and clothes, clean the house and car; then why can we not clean part of our habitat and the amazing beaches of our city? Imagine if each of us makes


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Teaching the younger generation the importance of being sensitive to the environment.

an effort to carry that waste to the dustbin or go further and collect it while we take a walk. We have installed many dustbins along the beach line because there were none and it was an excuse for visitors to leave the remnants after, say, a picnic. With the funds that we raised through our foundation, there is now a cleaning brigade that comes in the afternoons for cleaning activities. We installed boards and signs warning people against disposing of the garbage wherever, and we try to bring their attention to the purpose of the dustbins. And it matters to the new generation. I do not want children to grow up believing that plastic bags and litter are part of the landscape. Let the beach have nothing but our footprints. Just think about it for a moment – for drinking water, our grandfathers had it from a river, our fathers from a tap, we have it in a bottle. And our children – in capsule form? I wish more people thought this way. That is why I carry out educational activities targeting communities and schools, to encourage and inspire behavioural change, and to create awareness about the need to conserve our environment. Namma Beach, Namma Chennai aims to bring together schools, implement better learning conditions and enlarge the mind-set of all people involved so as to factor the environment into their lives. Twice a year we organise beach clean-up events. And, you would be surprised to know how many people take part there! Every time more and more people join our activities, it cannot but make me proud and

reassured of a better tomorrow. We keep a small motivation for the little ones – fair exchange of one bag of garbage for an ice-cream. And the adults are happy with these little rewards for themselves as well. You spend so much of your energy and personal time for this social work, and you are so passionate about what you are doing. What keeps you motivated and what has helped you build such a strong belief? My favourite subject in school was environmental studies. As a teenager I was inspired by Green Peace. The documentaries I saw, the projects and reports that I prepared, rooted a deep love in my heart for our planet and the environment. And ever since then, I could not remain a passive observer of how we humans treat our only planet. I want to protect our world for all the future generations. Is that what brings you to community schools? Exactly! I believe that nothing less than everyone’s contribution is necessary to protect our environment. We all breathe the same air, and we all depend on nature for the most essential things such as water and weather. A clean, pristine, beautiful environment is the best gift that we can give for all future generations. This is what takes me to schools where I can encourage young minds to be sensitive to the world around us.


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Clockwise from top left: S.Swetha, P. Kotteeshwari, J. Jothika, M. Hemavathi, R. Aarthi, N. Kavya Priya, R. Hemalatha, S. Lavanya, A.R. Marya Banu Sri, N. Haritha, M. Priya Dharshini, P. Keerthi, R. Keerthana, S. Rajasree, M. Aishwarya Lakshmi, S. Akshaya, D. Pavithra, A. Agathiya, N. Sowmya, S. Sowmya

At GA Foundation by Team Culturama

Empowerment,

One Girl at a Time Financial assistance and mentoring in life skills are provided by the Shakti Scholarship – an initiative by Global Adjustments Foundation to help young girls pursue higher studies


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Earlier this year, Global Adjustments Foundation instituted the Shakti Scholarship – an effort to empower young girls by giving them financial support to pursue higher studies, and by handholding them in their journey towards achieving life excellence as well. The scholarship involves a grant of up to Rs. 60,000 per year over a five-year period to see that a child secures a degree and is placed in a job and equipped with tools for life excellence. The scholarship was made open to students from the Jaigopal Garodia Government Girls’ School, Virugambakkam. Qualifying aspects include a score of over 90 per cent in the Standard 10 Board examinations and the aspiration to make it big in life – many of the girls come from very humble backgrounds, but they are optimistic and dream of blazing their own trail. Choices include joining the Public Services, or becoming chartered accountants and entrepreneurs. “It was a dream of mine to join the Indian Revenue Service – now, I have the strength to make it a reality given that I have well-wishers from the Foundation to guide me,” says Hemavathi, one of the scholarship recipients. Girls from economically less privileged backgrounds usually lack fluency in English, display low self-confidence and have little exposure to technology. Above all, the financial constraints their families face hold them back from achieving their goals. However, parents are eager to give their daughters every chance they can to propel their education and careers. In addition to financial assistance, the Shakti Scholarship offers mentoring; and classes in spoken English, goal setting and meditation classes are part of the agenda. The Global Adjustments Foundation is confident that these girls will excel in the fields that they choose to go into, and bring laurels to their families and to the nation. Let us remember that empowered women will create an empowered nation. The only request that Global Adjustments’ founder, Ranjini Manian, has is: “Rise and shine in life so that you lift your family and give back in turn to empower other women during your lifetime.”

From Top: A proud father speaks up; A round of introductions; Hemavathi wants to be in the Indian Revenue Service; ‘I am me-empowered’ says the badge pinned on by Founder Ranjini Manian.

Global Adjustments believes that Life Education + Qualifications + Financial Independence = Empowered Women. If you want to support a girl or share your skills in training them, contact Usha Ramakrishnan, Director – Global Adjustments Foundation, at +91-98405 20394.


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India in Symbols by Susan Philip

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Revered and Respected


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In a Nutshell Ancient Indians saw the spirit of the Supreme Being in all that nature had to offer, and treated every tree and flower, river and lake, mountain and valley with the respect due to the Creator. Some trees and flowers are held in deeper reverence than others because the sages recognised the depth of their medicinal and other values to humankind. Three trees that are worshipped and form part of worship in the Hindu order are the mango, the neem and the banana. Meaning and Deeper Meaning The leaves of the mango tree are used on special occasions and pujas, especially as part of the poornakumbh (the pot of water capped with a coconut surrounded by mango leaves) – the whole arrangement replete with symbolism about Earth and Life. Strings of mango leaves are hung at the entrances of homes and mandaps during religious ceremonies to invite prosperity and good luck. Neem leaves are hung at doorways of homes and venues of rituals to ward off evil spirits. The tree is considered a manifestation of Goddess Parvathi, and worshipped in its own right as Imarti Devi. In some parts of India, it is believed to represent Sitala Devi, Mariamma or Yellamma – goddesses associated with both the cause and the cure of ailments such as chicken pox, measles or small pox. Bunches of neem leaves

Banana leaves are a part of most rituals. Photo: Monika LANGE, Germany

hung over entrances to homes are a sign that the Goddess has manifested herself there in the form of one of these disorders. Trunks of the banana tree are put up at gateways on auspicious occasions, especially weddings, as the tree is associated with the welfare of the family. Banana leaves are

The mango, neem and banana trees are held in deeper reverence than others because the sages recognised the depth of benefits and value for humankind Mango leaves are used on special occasions and pujas, especially as part of the poornakumbh.


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used both in cooking (as a wrap), and as plates to serve food on. It is absolutely eco-friendly. Both the banana and the mango are associated with love and fertility. The Stuff of Legends One day, Sage Narada brought a particularly aromatic and attractive mango to Mount Kailash, the abode of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi. Narada was known for provoking discord (which ultimately facilitated the understanding of deeper truths), and Lord Shiva and his wife were wary of the gift. The sage told them the fruit had the power to make whoever ate it wise and learned. It was, however, not to be shared. Neither Shiva nor Parvathi wanted to eat it without giving the other, and returned it to Narada. Ganesh and Karthikeya, the two sons of the divine couple, seeing the mango, laid claim to it. A quarrel ensued, and Shiva lashed out at Narada for fuelling discord between the brothers. Parvathi, trying for an amicable solution, suggested a competition, saying the mango would go to the winner.

Whoever thrice circumnavigated the world first would win the fruit, decreed Narada. Karthikeya was slim and agile, and his mount was a peacock. Ganesh was rotund with an elephant’s head balanced on his shoulders, and his mount was a mouse. Karthikeya confidently set off, but after speedily completing the task, was astonished to find the mango in his brother’s hands. Ganesha had won it by asking his parents – his whole world – to stand close together, and circling them thrice! Scientific Substance The various parts of the mango tree are proven to be effective against coughs, asthma, phlegm, hypotension and stomach disorders, among other health issues. They are rich in vitamins and minerals. The neem is appropriately known as ‘the village pharmacy’ because every part of it is known to have some medicinal property. In fact, the name itself comes from Nimbati Syasthyamdadati, which in Sanskrit means ‘to give good health’. In Ayurveda texts, it is referred to as sarva roga

Banana leaves are used both in cooking (as a wrap), and as plates to serve food on. Photo: Jean-Denis LENOIR, France


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Neem twigs are often used as a ‘toothbrush’ in rural India.

nivarani or a cure for all ailments. In rural India, tender neem twigs are still often used as a ‘toothbrush’. Extracts from various parts of the tree are also used to revive overused cultivable land, as a pesticide, and food for livestock. Bananas are rich in fibre, potassium, antioxidants and other substances that protect the body and boost brain power. The stem and the flower of the plant are also used as food, and are rich in vitamins and antioxidants. They also help manage blood pressure and some kidney problems. Saying it in Verse Kala lagiye na keto pat Tatei kapad tatei bhat A couplet in Bengali, it means: ‘Do not destroy the leaves of a banana plant; You will get both your food and cloth.’ The Aikya Factor The word ‘mango’ originated in India – it comes from the Tamil maang kaay and the Portuguese traders adapted and adopted it as manga. It later metamorphosed into its present English form. The mango is sacred to Buddhism. Legend has it that Lord Buddha planted the seed of a mango in Shravasti, and a whole grove sprouted from it instantly. When Buddhist monks set out from India to propagate their faith, they took with them baskets of mangoes, and the people of the countries they visited acquired a taste for it. It is the national fruit not only of India but also of Pakistan and the Philippines. And,

Mangos are a favoured offering for Ganesha, the elephant-headed god. Photo: Anna BOZZI, Italy

the national tree of Bangladesh is the mango. The value of the neem tree was acknowledged by people in far-flung lands. Persian scholars referred to it as azad dirakht-i-Hind, meaning the noble or free tree of India. In Western Africa, the medical properties of neem oil were known, while in the local language of some eastern parts of the continent, it was called mwarubaini, meaning, cure for 40 ailments. The banana flower as a symbol of fertility finds an echo in the shape of the pendent worn by Syrian Christian women of Kerala as one of the signs of marriage. And in faraway Madagascar, a folk tale links the banana to the cycle of life and death. God asked the first man and woman, so the story goes, whether they would like to die like the moon, or like the banana tree. Choosing the first option would mean they would be childless, but keep returning to life bit by bit after death, only to die again, and live again. If they opted to be like the banana tree, they would die, but leave behind shoots which would themselves grow and die, but leave others to carry on the cycle of life. Mankind’s lifecycle mimics the banana tree. A Last Word “I bow my head in reverence to our ancestors for their sense of the beautiful in nature and for their foresight in investing beautiful manifestations of Nature with a religious significance.” – Mahatma Gandhi


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Feature by Yamini Vasudevan

Beckoning the faithful

We visit some of the old, iconic churches of India, and explore their unique architectural influences and the legends associated with them


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Christianity is said to have come to India in 52 AD, when Thomas the Apostle landed in Muziris in Kerala. Today, it is the third most followed religion in the country, with its followers constituting around 2.3 percent of the population. Christianity spread across India, and several denominations are to be found across the Indian populace. One of the most beautiful facets of the religion is its places of worship, some of which date back to several centuries earlier and boast unique architectural influences and legends of miracles. We take a walk through some prominent churches across the country.

St. Andrew’s Church, Kolkata One of the oldest churches in India, St Andrew’s Church in Kolkata (also known as the ‘Kirk’ as it is only Scottish church in Kolkata) was opened to the public in March 1818. Back then, the Scottish community was an important part of the European population of Calcutta. The clock tower was fitted in 1835. The builders of the church, Messrs Burn, Currie and Co., worked on a design inspired by St. Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square. The Church stands on a plinth seven feet high, and there are elegant porticos supported by lofty Doric columns on the northern and southern sides. Reverend Dr. James Bryce, who arrived in November 1814 to fill the position of Chaplain, is said to have had the marble for the floor imported, duty free, using his connections in the government.

There is an interesting story about the church’s spire. It is said that an argument broke out between Rec. Bryce and Bishop Fanshawe Middleton, Bishop of the Indian Episcopate, with the Bishop not being in favour of the spire being erected. Rev. Bryce declared that he would not only have a steeple higher than the Cathedral Church of St. John’s but also place a cock on the top of it to crow over the Bishop! Later on, the Government declared that while the entire building might be repaired by the Public Works Department, they would not touch the ‘audacious bird’. The bird is still there.

All Saints’ Cathedral, Allahabad All Saints' Cathedral, also known as ‘Patthar Girja’ (Church of Stones) is an Anglican cathedral modelled after 13th century Gothic style churches and was among the Gothic Revival buildings built by the British during colonial rule. British architect Sir William Emerson, who designed the Victoria Memorial in Calcutta, designed the cathedral in 1871. It was consecrated in 1887, and completed four years later. The total length of the church is about 240 feet and the internal width is about 56 feet. It is designed to accommodate 300 to 400 persons. The quality of the glass and marble work retain their originality even after more than 125 years. The Cathedral

St. Andrew’s Church, Kolkata Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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All Saints’ Cathedral, Allahabad

also houses many plaques that depict the death of different British nationals for a variety of reasons during their rule in India. The pulpit is an exceedingly fine piece of workmanship in alabaster by Mr. Nicholls of Lambeth from Mr. Emerson’s designs. The lantern tower, Victoria Tower, is a memorial to Queen Victoria.

Se Cathedral, Old Goa One of the oldest churches in Asia, the Sé Catedral de Santa Catarina, commonly known as Se Cathedral, was built to commemorate the victory of the Portuguese army under Alfonso de Albuquerque over a Muslim army, leading to the capture of the city of Goa in 1510. Since the day of the victory happened to be on the Feast of Saint Catherine, the cathedral was dedicated to her. The word Sé is Portuguese for ‘See’. Construction of the church began in 1562 in the reign of King Dom Sebastião. The cathedral was completed in 1619 and consecrated in 1640. The Cathedral had two towers, but one collapsed in 1776 and was never rebuilt. The architecture style of the Cathedral is Portuguese-Manueline; the exterior is Tuscan, whereas the interior is Corinthian. The church is 250 feet in length and 181 feet in breadth. The frontispiece stands 115 feet high. A noteworthy feature is the large bell housed in the Cathedral’s tower, which is known as the ‘Golden Bell’ due to its rich tone. The bell is said to be the largest in Goa, and one of the best in the world.

Interior of Se Cathedral, Old Goa

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in May 1605. Apart from the distinction of being declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the church is known for holding the body of St. Francis Xavier, a close friend of St. Ignatius Loyola, with whom he founded the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). St. Francis died in December 1552, while en route to China. His body was first taken to Portuguese Malacca and then brought to Goa, two years later, but it is said that the Saint’s body was as fresh as on the day it was buried. The Saint’s remains are opened to public viewing every 10 years, and they attract a large number of visitors (Christians and non-Christians), especially because he was known for his healing powers.

The main altar is dedicated to Catherine of Alexandria, and there are several old paintings. There is also a Chapel of the Cross of Miracles, where a vision of Christ is said to have appeared in 1619. There are six main panels, on which scenes from the life of Saint Catherine are carved. In 1953, the Se Cathedral was presented with ‘The Golden Rose’ by Venerable Pope Pius XII. The Golden Rose is a gold ornament, which the Popes of the Catholic Church have traditionally blessed and conferred as a token of reverence or affection.

Basilica of Bom Jesus, Old Goa The Bom Jesus (‘Good Jesus’) church is one of the most popular churches in the country. Construction of the church began in 1594 and the place of worship was consecrated

One of the most beautiful facets of christianity is its places of worship, some of which date back to several centuries earlier

Mount Mary Church, Mumbai The Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount, commonly known as Mount Mary Church, is a Roman Catholic Basilica located in Bandra, Mumbai. The basilica stands on a hillock, about 80 m above sea level, overlooking the Arabian Sea. The

Mount Mary Church, Mumbai

Basilica of Bom Jesus, Old Goa Art work: P.S. Sujay

The Church is also known to be one of the best examples of Baroque architecture in India. The marble floor is inlaid with precious stones, and there are elaborate gilded altars. The altar table, which is used in Holy Mass, is gilded and adorned with the figures of Christ and his apostles at the Last Supper, along with the words ‘Hi Mhoji Kudd’ (‘This is my Body’ in Konkani). The mausoleum, on top of which the silver casket with the body of St. Francis Xavier is placed, was designed by 17th century Florentine sculptor Giovanni Battista Foggini and took 10 years to complete.


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church draws lakhs of devotees and pilgrims (from all faiths), and many attest to the miraculous powers of the Blessed Virgin Mary. While the current church edifice is around 100 years old, the history behind the current statue of Our Lady goes back to the 16th century when Jesuit priests from Portugal brought the statue to the current location and constructed a chapel. In 1700, Arab pirates, interested in the gilt-lined object held in the hand, cut off the statue’s right hand. In 1760, the church was rebuilt and the statue was substituted with a statue of Our Lady of Navigators in St. Andrew’s church nearby. This statue has a legend behind it. A Koli fisherman dreamt that he would find a statue in the sea, and the statue was found floating in the sea between 1700 and 1760. A Jesuit Annual Letter dated 1669 and published in the book St. Andrew's Church, Bandra (1616–1966) supports this claim. Koli fishermen call the statue ‘Mot Mauli’, meaning ‘The Pearl Mother’. The previous statue was later restored. Mount Mary Church is specially known for ‘The feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary’, which is celebrated on the first Sunday after September 8 – the birthday of the Virgin Mary. The feast is followed by a week-long celebration known locally as the ‘Bandra Fair’ and is visited by thousands of people. Wax figures of the Virgin Mary, along with candles

Oral traditions testify to the apparition of the Blessed Mother of Velankanni on more than one occasion

shaped like hands, feet and various other parts of the body are sold at kiosks. People choose a wax figure that corresponds to their ailment and light it in the church, in the hope that Mother Mary will answer their prayer.

Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health, Velankanni One of the most frequented religious sites in India, the Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health in the town of Velankanni in Tamil Nadu is popularly known as the ‘Lourdes of the East’, and its origin can be traced to the 16th century. The Gothic-style architecture is a unique feature of the Church, as is the fact that the Blessed Mother is clothed in a sari. Oral traditions testify to the apparition of the Blessed Mother of Velankanni on more than one occasion. The first is said to have occurred in 1570, when a local shepherd boy, who was delivering milk, met a beautiful woman holding a child. The lady asked him for some milk for her child. After giving her the milk, the boy continued on his way and later discovered that his jug was full of fresh, cool milk. A small shrine was built near the site where the boy encountered the woman – which came to be known as ‘Matha Kulam’ (in Tamil) or ‘Our Lady’s Pool’. The second apparition is said to have happened in 1597, not far from Matha Kulam.

Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health, Velankanni


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A beautiful woman with a child in her arms appeared before a crippled boy who was selling buttermilk. The child asked for some buttermilk; after he drank it, the woman asked the boy to visit a gentleman in the next town and ask him to build a chapel in her honour at that location. The boy set out – and realised that he was no longer lame. A thatched chapel was built in honour of ‘Our Lady of Health’ known in Tamil as ‘Arokia Matha’.

centres in India. Oral traditions maintain that while St. Thomas was travelling through Malayattoor, he fled hostile natives to the hilltop where he remained in prayer, and he left his footprint on one of the rocks. Furthermore, it is said that, during prayer, he touched a rock and blood poured forth from it. Another legend goes that St. Thomas used to make the Sign of the Cross on the rock, kiss it and pray, and a golden cross miraculously appeared at that particular spot.

The third incident occurred when a Portuguese ship sailing from Macao to Sri Lanka was caught in a storm in the Bay of Bengal. Those on board invoked the Blessed Virgin’s help. The storm subsided and the 150 men were saved. It was September 8, the Feast of the Nativity of Mary. In thanksgiving, the sailors rebuilt the Shrine to Our Lady of Good Health. The shrine that started as a thatched chapel in the mid-sixteenth century became a parish church in 1771. In 1962, it was granted special status of a Minor Basilica by Pope John XIII. The shrine of Velankanni was elevated to the status of ‘Minor Basilica’ and merged with the Major Basilica of Mary (Mary majore) in Rome on November 3, 1962 by Pope John XXIII.

The shrine was promoted to Archdiocesan status by Major Archbishop Mar Varkey Cardinal Vithayathil on September 4, 1998. The church has been designated by the Vatican as one among the eight international shrines in the world.

San Thome Basilica, Chennai Built in the 16th century by Portuguese explorers over the tomb of St. Thomas, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus, the San Thome Basilica was rebuilt as a church with the status of a cathedral by the British in 1893. St. Thomas is said to have arrived at Muziris in present-day Kerala from the Roman province of Judea in 52 AD, and preached between 52 and 72 AD. He was martyred at St. Thomas Mount in Chennai. The present church building was designed in the NeoGothic style, and is one of the only three known churches in the world built over the tomb of an apostle of Jesus (the other two are St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City and Santiago de Compostela Cathedral in Galicia, Spain). San Thome Basilica is the principal church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Madras and Mylapore. The church also has an attached museum.

Malayattoor Church, Kerala The St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Church (or Malayattoor Church) is one of the most prominent Christian pilgrim

Parumala Chuch, Kerala St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s Church, Parumala (also known as ‘Parumala Pally’ in Malayalam or Parumala Church) is a parish church of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. Parumala is a small stretch of land on the shores of the river Pampa. In the 1870s, Malankara Metropolitan Joseph Mar Dionysius wanted to establish a seminary in the area – a two-acre plot of land was donated by Arikupurathu Mathen Karnavar for this purpose and a building was constructed. This was used for teaching church functionaries, including providing lessons in Syriac. Dionysios eventually passed the responsibility for the seminary to Metropolitan Mar Gregorios. A church in Parumala was rebuilt by Gregorios and consecrated in 1895. The western face of the tomb was closed in 1910; the altar on the northern side was dedicated in the name of St. Mary, and the one on the southern side in the name of St. Thomas. Subsequently, all the three altars were embellished with beautiful gilt work. The church contains the tomb of Gregorios, who died on November 2 , 1902 at the age of 54. Belief in his saintly qualities caused it to become a centre of pilgrimage, and in 1947 he was beatified by the Catholicos of the church. Parumala Chuch, Kerala


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india • srilanka • maldives • and beyond

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Look Who’s In Town Mumbai

Full of Character I first came to India in 2016 as part of a diplomatic mission, but arrived with the family to set up camp here in August 2017. Before moving to Mumbai, we met many Indian expats in various countries, and found them to be very interesting and full of character. In addition, Sonia, during her career as a buyer, had plenty of contact with a few textile suppliers; and she maintained contact with them over the years. When our friends and contacts found out that we were coming to India, they were delighted and provided us with tips and advice.

It is always better to reserve judgement about a place until you experience things first-hand. Although we came here with an open mind, we did find it somewhat daunting with three children in tow. Like anywhere, the secret for us is to look for the positive and make the most of it.

Although we do not find any direct comparisons to the countries we are originally from (New Zealand and Spain), we do feel that India is similar in some ways to Brazil – a large developing country, with a broad mix of races and religions, where people are always keen to celebrate. We also see hints of Portuguese influence in the names of locals, style of some architecture and similarities in many local dishes.

India on a Platter

Then and Now

We joined the Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations held at the end of August. We were lucky to receive an invitation to the immersion ceremony at Chowpatty Beach. It was an amazing

As this was the sixth country we were moving to, we had learnt to not arrive with any preconceptions or expectations.

Having lived in Sao Paulo for the past four years, the move from one big city to another made the transition easier. We feel that, after the initial shock of the first two months, we have almost found our feet and are starting to enjoy Mumbai.

We have certainly developed a taste for spices by now – some of our favourite foods are pani puri, samosas, aloo tikki, and dal makhani. We are also fans of naan and pappadam with chutney. For dessert, we like kulfi.

Festive Fervour


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Ralph and Sonia Hays moved to Mumbai with their children in August 2017. Ralph talks about first impressions, travel plans and the family’s secret to adjusting well in a new country

experience – very colourful – and we were impressed by the large, mixed crowd that the festival brings together. Sonia also participated in a Hindu puja called karva chauth, where women fast and pray for their husband. She was part of the whole ritual of singing the song while performing the pheris, which is passing their thalis or plates around in a circle. The event was very different from anything I have done before. We stayed in Mumbai for Diwali and enjoyed the light shows and decorations.

Sightseeing We have only had time to visit Goa, where we stayed at a very nice resort by the beach. We did a day tour of Old Goa

and the churches, visited a Hindu temple and Fort Aguada. We also visited an old colonial Portuguese mansion. We enjoyed the local cuisine and learnt about the history of the region. We have planned our next trip to the Golden Triangle and look forward to experiencing the wonders of North India.

Loveable India The contrasting colours and the people of India, which is what we believe it make it so special.

I Am Taking Home... At this stage, it is hard to pinpoint exactly what we would take from India...perhaps a greater appreciation for life and for the blessings we have.


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Spotlight by Team Culturama

Rann Utsav

November 01, 2017 to February 20, 2018 Head to the Rann Utsav to join in the celebration of music and dance, and head off to watch birds and wildlife if you fancy a break

The Great Rann Desert lies in Kutch, one of the most ecologically and ethnically diverse districts of Gujarat. The Kutch region virtually resembles a tortoise or katchua – hence, its name. While some parts of the desert are inhospitable, the region is famous for its contrasting landscapes and an indigenous culture. Hosted by the state of Gujarat, the Rann Utsav is an annual festival that offers visitors a chance to experience the wildlife, crafts, music and dance of the region. The festival celebrates the unique grandeur of the Kutch region, beginning in Bhuj city. Tourists can take part in camel safaris and experience desert living in tents. NGOs and village cooperatives put up the best of their crafts on sale and one can watch artisans at work. The Rann of Kutch is a bird watcher’s paradise and also home to many endangered species of wildlife. The semi-parched grasslands of the Banni area have been developed as village resorts to showcase the region’s architecture and culture. Colourful fairs are held on the banks of the Narayan Sarovar Lake and the moonlit landscape makes for a beautiful experience. Watch glimpses of the festival here: http://tinyurl.com/o3oabbh and http://tinyurl. com/pggglt9


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Learn a yoga pose by Namita Jain

Bow pose This is like a bow that is looking for the arrow. Lie on a mat, on your stomach. Bend your knees and hold the ankles, or feet, with both hands. At this point, the chest must be lifted off the floor. The pose imitates a bow. Benefit: Keeps the spine supple and stretches the front of the body

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India Impressions by Susan Philip

Large Tables, Larger Hearts

The spirit of giving, an integral part of the Indian Christian community, is best observed and felt during Christmas, especially in the generous food hampers filled with regional goodies. these hampers are distributed to family and friends (of the same and other faiths)


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Christians make up a very small portion of the population of India in percentage terms but they are spread across the country, with sizeable numbers particularly in Kerala in the South, Goa in the West, and Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh in the North-east. Indian Christians speak different languages and have assimilated different local practices into their worship and traditions. They may be Catholics, Protestants, Syrian Christians, or members of other orders. Yet, one common thread runs through the community irrespective of region or denomination – the spirit of giving. Christmas, which celebrates God’s gift of his own son to the world, is when this is most apparent. As a rule, whatever be their social or economic standing, at this time of the year, every Christian family shares something of theirs with others – usually food. Come December, friends and neighbours of Christians look forward to bingeing on treats specially made for the festival. Think of Christmas goodies, and what comes first to mind is the ‘Christmas cake’ or ‘Plum cake’ as fruit cake is commonly called in India. There are many recipes for this, handed down from mother to daughter and daughter-in-law. They all involve mounds of dry fruits – sultanas, currants, raisins, glazed cherries, candied peel and ginger, walnuts, cashew nuts, almonds – and sugar and spice and all things nice. Some recipes call for dousing the dry fruit or the cake itself in rum, which acts as a preservative besides adding to the flavour. In generations past, the making of the Christmas cake was a long-drawn-out

Kulkuls

process. The dry fruit had to be bought, cleaned and chopped. The volumes would depend on the length of the gift list and the guest list. The whole family would be press-ganged into helping. There would be groans and whines, of course, and some creative excuses, but ultimately, it was a time for bonding. The smell of baking would linger long after the cakes made in advance were carefully wrapped and stored for cutting on Christmas morning. Cake is the common factor amongst Christmas goodies. Other foods of the season – both sweet and savoury – are usually specific to regions.

Christmas cake


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Guava cheese

sweetmeats and savouries reserved for the Christmas season were made and stored, not only to give those who came calling, but also to go into ‘gift hampers’ distributed among friends and also the less-privileged. the menu was largely influenced by geographic location

Rose cookies

Breakfast could be appam (soft pancakes with a lacy frill, made with a lightly fermented rice-based batter) accompanied by stew, a dish of mutton or chicken in coconut-milk gravy – if you are in Kerala, sannas (steamed rice cakes) with pork curry – if you’re in Goa, or stuffed paratha and spicy chicken curry – if you are in Mizoram. Lunch, the main meal of the festival, is heavily nonvegetarian. It can be mutton or chicken biryani, seemingly ubiquitous but vastly different in flavouring and cooking methods and even ingredients from one region to another. It can be a fragrant pulau accompanied by a meat dish. Roast poultry or pork can be the highlight of the day. Desserts vary from the very Indian gulab jamun and carrot halva to the Western Christmas pudding, complete with flambé. In the North-east, community feasts are the order of the day. The people reach back to their tribal roots, and prepare delicacies using ingredients unique to their ethnicity such as fermented soya beans or fish, bamboo shoots or King Chilli. Whatever the ‘hero dish’ of the occasion, it is a time for the extended family to congregate and renew ties.


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The table is large, hearts are larger, and there is room (and food) for everyone. In the days when families were big and household help plentiful, sweetmeats and savouries reserved for the Christmas season were made and stored, not only to give those of other faiths who came calling but also to go into ‘gift hampers’ distributed among friends and also the less-privileged. Again, the menu was largely influenced by geographic location. In the South, Karnataka, for example, kulkuls are a common Christmas preparation. They are curls of fried dough dipped in sugar syrup. In Kerala, the slightly sweet ‘rose cookies’, made by dipping flower-shaped moulds

in batter and deep-frying to a crunchy golden-brown, are a signature snack. The bebinka, a layered dessert influenced by Portuguese cuisine, and ‘guava cheese’, made of a puree of the fruit and sugar and cooked down to either a halva-like texture or a ‘spread’, are popular Christmas treats in Goa. And from the North comes the ‘Allahabadi cake’, essentially a rum-and-fruit cake but made with ghee or clarified butter rather than the unsalted butter used in conventional cakes. Of course everything from coconut barfi to gujjiyas, from murukkus to laddus add to the platter, come Christmas. And often, there will be home-made wine, brewed from grapes, rose apples, pineapples or even beetroot, to add that extra zing to the festivities.

Bebinca

With the advent of the nuclear family and the pressures of the workplace, homemade Christmas cakes, sweets and savouries are all but extinct. But bakeries and outlets producing packaged foods, as well as home-based businesses, come into their own at Christmas time. Kottayam, a town in Kerala’s Christian heartland, is particularly known for its plum cakes, and some bakeries there have almost made brands of their products. Biryani

Whether the goodies are home-made or outsourced, food continues to be a force that draws together and binds during the Season of Joy.


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ADVERTISE

IN  T HIS MAGAZINE

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I clicked this picture at the Vandalur Zoo in Chennai. It turned out to be an apt entry for the Indian Wildlife category. ‘‘Roarrr!’ by Abinanth PADMANABHAN, India, was the winner of the Crowd’s Favourite prize

Picture Story by Team Culturama

Worth A ...Maybe much more. Explore the different facets of this gorgeous country through the award-winning pictures of the 20th Beautiful India Photo Competition

Words...


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The fact that we had over 830 entries from 88 participants, from across 16 nations, for this year’s Beautiful India Photo Competition was a good enough reason to celebrate. That this was the 20th edition of the annual competition added cheer to the festivities. For the first time, the competition was open to Indian participants – little wonder then that this year saw some of the best entries ever! Join us as we celebrate the beauty of the subcontinent, as seen through the eyes of our award-winning participants.

Indian Wildlife 1

st place

‘Dancing in the Air’ by Anurag GUPTA, India

2

nd place

‘Live Another Day’ by Mainak RAY, India

3

rd place

‘Elephant Calf’ by Paresh PARADKAR, India


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Culture & Festivals 1stplace

‘Love Diwali!’ by Joel VERANY, France

1

st place

‘Visarjan’ by Paresh PARADKAR, India


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I clicked this picture at the Parthasarathy Temple in Chennai during a temple festival. I was shooting for a photo project when I came across this scene.

2ndplace

‘Ther Festival’ by Ramesh S.A., India

2ndplace 3

rd place

‘Aarti’ by Seoyoung PARK, South Korea

‘Look Me in the Eye’ by Pierre BENICHOU, France


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Faces 1

st place I clicked the picture of this man at Parry's Corner in Chennai during Holi. I was stunned by the colours, and how people were covered in different hues!

2

‘Sweet Smile’ by Melissa FREITAS, Brazil was also chosen as the Overall Best entry.

3

rd place

‘Behind You!’ by Claudia GONELLA, UK

3

rd place

‘The Grumpy Little Monk’ by Gayatri Ranjeet JAGTAP, India

‘Cultural Dance Performance at Dakshina Chitra’ by Hans KARLSSON, Sweden

nd place


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Into India 1

st place

‘Get the foreigner!’ by Claudia GONELLA, UK

2

‘Taken in Chennai’ by Pierre BENICHOU, France

nd place

3

rd place

‘Western doll, Indian girl’ by Tommaso FIANI, Italy

I shot this photo during a playdate. The way my daughter was playing with the bangles and trying to take them off caught my attention. The doll in a Western outfit made for an interesting contrast.


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Places 1stplace

‘Shanti Stupa’ by Vaishnavi RAMESH, India

2

nd place

‘Parking Lot’ by Michael Stroband, Germany

My wife and I were in Ladakh in July. I was awestruck by the many beautiful trucks I saw on the roads while we travelled – I hvae always loved trucks! When I came across this piece of land filled with trucks, I couldn’t help but capture it right away!

3

rd place

‘Colours of the Pink City’ by Cassia REIS, Brazil


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Humour I clicked this picture at Crawford Market in Mumbai. The scene caught my attention because it was an unusual sight and extremely funny!

1stplace

‘Leading a Goat’ by Anna BOZZI, Italy

2

nd place

‘I Chose Yellow’ by Vincent ORCIN, France

3rdplace

‘The Final Destination–Deivam (God)’ by Raghava Sreeram, India


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by

Poompuhar’s Craft café is a first of its kind craft-themed café located at the iconic Anna Salai of Chennai. Enjoy a fine dining experience and treat your taste buds to healthy and authentic South Indian cuisines, going back to our roots. Here, long-forgotten ingredients such as millets and palm sugar are used to reinvent and create new varieties of dishes! What stands out at the Café is the ambiance. With exquisite bronze and wooden sculptures, bamboo furniture and the vintage statues around will immerse you in a divine setting. The Craft café is also a fantastic venue to host corporate meetings, birthday parties, anniversary functions, kitty groups, farewells, get-togethers etc.

Poompuhar, No. 108, Anna Salai, Chennai - 600 002 Contact: 044

42111338, 044 28511338 Email:craftsrestaurant@gmail.com Website:www.tnhdcltd.com | Shopping site:www.poompuhar.org Artisan portal:www.tnartisaan.com

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At Global Adjustments by Swetha Suresh & Sucharita Ganesh

A Time to Celebrate The Awards Ceremony of the Global Adjustments Beautiful India Photo Competition 2017 saw the coming together of people of varied nationalities in a morning of song, dance and revelry

The Awards Ceremony of the 20th edition of the Global Adjustments’ Beautiful India Photo Competition, held at Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park, was a morning of entertainment, celebration and appreciation. The competition was opened up to Indian nationals for the first time, and the special category of ‘Indian Wildlife’ was exclusively for Indians. The competition drew a massive response – with over 800 photographs sent by 88 participants from across varied nationalities. Judges Rom Whitaker (wildlife conservationist and founder of the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust) Sunder Ramu (actor and celebrity photographer) and Thomas Fricke (Head of Daimler Buses India [CEO]) admitted to being stumped by the brilliance and ingenuity of many of the photographs. The fashion show and dance segments were performed with panache by our lovely models and dancers (Giselle Costa, Viviane Vinanna, Alexandrina Martins, Deva Arunachalam, Ilhem Berrahmoun, Daniella Heron, Anna Bozzi, Aydan Oncul, Sophie Vazquez, Isabele Benz, Jane Kataria, Verunka Ondrackova and Allison Cozart). Turn the pages and relive the wonderful moments!

The spectacular event was presented by the American International School Chennai, and supported by Ibaco and Gleneagles Global Health City. The beautiful Crowne Plaza Adyar Park Chennai, the venue and hospitality partner, added a touch of glamour to the morning’s proceedings. The stunning jewellery showcased in the fashion show was provided by Surendra & Co.


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Guests take their time to observe and appreciate the photographs on display. This year, over 800 entries were received from 88 participants from across varied nationalities.

Andrew Hoover, Head of School at American International School, Chennai, talks about the Photo Competition experience.

Judges Rom Whitaker, Thomas Fricke and Sunder Ramu share their experience about the competition and judging.

In the wild? Not really but the animal-themed photo booth makes for a memorable picture.

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Shanti Subbiah, founder of Utpalakshi, receives the Cultural Ambassador Award from Global Adjustments CEO Rohini Manian.

Pre-wedding and wedding couture showcased in full glory by our gorgeous models.

Rohini Manian honours Joseph Sekar, the Birdman of Chennai’ for caring for thousands of birds.

Arindam Kunar, GM of Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park, hands the Crowd’s Favourite Prize to Abinanth Padmanabhan of India.

We thank our wonderful partners:

CHENNAI ADYAR PARK


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November December 2017

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Photo: Helen Ruth TAYLOR, UK

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One of the first things I learnt about training the mind was to put meditation first always, whatever obstacles or temptations come in the way. When I came to this country, almost thirty years ago, I was on a ship for nearly a full month. The Peninsular and Oriental steamship company apparently never felt motivated to provide meditation facilities, and the cabin I shared with other Fulbright scholars would not serve. Among other things, the only fresh air it ever got was supplied by a little tube not much bigger than my thumb. One of my friends saw the expression on my face and asked what was wrong. I tried to explain, as best I could, about needing to get my full quota of meditation morning and evening. He brightened helpfully. “See here, old boy,” he said, “you’ve been in harness

such a long time now. Why not take advantage of the circumstances and enjoy a well-earned vacation? Everybody enjoys a holiday, and here you are getting one free. Why keep talking about meditation? You can do all that when we get to America, where you will need it.” “I want to be on vacation always,” I objected. “That’s just why I never miss my meditation.” The next morning I got up very early and went exploring. Soon I discovered the sports deck, absolutely deserted in the early hours of the morning. I wrapped my blanket around my shoulders, sat down, and closed my eyes, and once I began going through the second chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, I forgot all about where I was. When I finally opened my eyes, I found I had been amusing a small crowd of bystanders. I let


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Holistic Living by Eknath Easwaran

Put meditation first, always One of the first things I learnt about training the mind was to put meditation first always, whatever obstacles or temptations come in the way

them laugh; after all, there is not much to do on board a ship, and I didn’t mind having a reputation for being a colourful character. People laughed, but gradually they came to respect me. “He’s a really earnest chap,” they would say, “whatever that Indian thing is that he’s doing.” Overcoming self-doubt When I had started the practice of meditation and made it the foundation of my life, self-doubt would still sometimes upset my mind. I wanted to meet the challenges facing me, yet my old conditioning was a big obstacle. My mind would play a clever card: “You won’t be able to meet the challenge.” This is common in the early days. As I began to throw my weight more and more on the spiritual side of the argument, a wonderful transformation came about.

One day, instead of feeling inadequate, I realised I was ready to meet the challenge. It was a very encouraging discovery. The temptations were still there, the difficulties were still there, but my belief in myself had changed. Once I reached this state, I was confident that even if it took time I could overcome all those temptations. I could meet the challenge. For all of us this self-belief changes gradually, due to hard work and continuing vigilance and enthusiasm. With every step forward, you gain in understanding and earnestness. Then you can take the next step. With each step, your security grows; you feel a new energy. Time and gentleness are required The progress may seem agonisingly slow, but it is genuine, and its very slowness will protect us from harm.


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a mistake. This is part of the artistry of spiritual living: aim for the highest every moment, but don’t get dismayed if you fall short. Aim for self-realisation during this lifetime, but don’t allow yourself to become demoralised by brooding on how little progress you have made.

Photo: Saran DE ZUTTER, Belgium

Up against the Great Wall

Some have such an all-consuming desire to attain the supreme goal that they may be tempted to force change, and even do violence to themselves through a misguided effort. The scriptures warn us many times that there is no genuine spiritual progress to be found in drugs or in running away from life or in any other violent method. When the Buddhist sutras tell us how many lifetimes the Buddha-to-be practised spiritual disciplines, it is to show that these changes cannot come about quickly. Time and gentleness are required. Yet those who keep their eyes focused always on the supreme goal, refraining from doing anything that impedes them and taking care to do everything that helps them, will find their progress is remarkable. “I’ll do my best” I expect those who meditate with me to do their very best to overcome their problems; if they do not do their best, I am not helping them if I take that problem away. For ordinary people like you and me, the most effective approach to compulsive problems is not to make lifetime vows, as Gandhiji used to, and then suffer terribly if we fall from them, but simply to say, “I’ll do my best,” and then do it. Gandhiji’s way was right for him, but it doesn’t leave much margin. When you simply promise to do your best, if you have a lapse you don’t collapse under a burden of guilt. You redouble your resoluteness to do better, and you learn every time you make

Later on, you will face great crises when these tricks of the ego can unnerve you and hold you back. Perhaps the most awesome is when you reach the threshold of the collective unconscious and find yourself face up against the Great Wall – not outside, in China, but right there in your consciousness. Time after time in meditation you descend to that wall and feel your way blindly around, looking for some crack through which you can crawl. But there isn’t any – no way to get through at all. That realisation can bring such overwhelming despair that you want to throw up your hands and cry, “I won’t be able to make it!” In fact, there isn’t any way to get through that wall – at least, not for the ego. But how can the ego throw itself away? It all seems impossible, and there are aspirants who give up here and turn away. When I reached this point, I used to resolve every night, “Tomorrow morning in meditation I am going to get through, and then I’m going to dance and celebrate all day long.” I would sit down and give my best in meditation, and after a couple of hours I would come out by the same door I went in. This can go on for years and years; that is why Gandhi says you need the patience of someone trying to empty the sea with a cup. But I kept plugging. Every day my limitless love for Sri Krishna reassured me that someday, somehow, a door would open and let me through. “You see yourself as you are” Then suddenly the door opened and I was on the other side. I was no longer in the world of space, no longer in the world of time; I had left my body behind and suddenly come face to face with myself – my real Self. “At this stage,” Patanjali, the great teacher of meditation in ancient India, says with magnificent understatement, “you see yourself as you are”: not a physical creature, neither body nor mind, but pure spirit. 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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Culturama December 2017  

The December issue of Culturama is centered on the festive season - in particular, Christmas celebrations. We also revel in the beauty of su...

Culturama December 2017  

The December issue of Culturama is centered on the festive season - in particular, Christmas celebrations. We also revel in the beauty of su...

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