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A Cashew Affair Read about the wonder 'nut' and its many avatars

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Monsoon Musings Brace yourselves for the Indian monsoon with our special feature

58 Krishna's colour All about the supernatural blue that represents Krishna in Indian mythology

June 2017 Volume 8, Issue 4

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Dear Readers, I was in Meghalaya around this time last year and as we drove to the lookout point restaurant where a rolling mist had gathered. I was awestruck by the mountainous outline of this land. This is a place known for receiving the world’s highest rainfall. But I was not sure it would rain. As an Indian I am quite used to being unsure of the weather. We do not spend too much time planning how to dress for the weather. We are used to waiting for the monsoon. Hoping it will rain. Wishing it rains enough to have water for the rest of the year. This is quite commonplace conversation in our land. As we approached Cherrapunji, a hailstorm hit our windscreen without any warning, enough to crack the glass. And, I sat corrected, admiring nature’s glory. We dedicate the June issue of Culturama to India's monsoons. India has two monsoons, the Southwest and the Northeast; blowing from the northeast during cooler months and then reversing direction to blow from the southwest during the warmest months of the year. This brings rainfall during June and July.

Editor-in-Chief Ranjini Manian Senior Editor Lakshmi Krupa Creative Head Prem Kumar Graphic Designer Ankita S VP Finance V Ramkumar Circulation S Raghu Advertising Chennai Ambeka Deshmukh 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,

Photo: Sunder Ramu

Read all about it in our Feature, Photo Story and India Diaries section this month. Hope you enjoy the range of weather and culture in this vast amazing country.

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,

Ranjini Manian, Editor-in-Chief globalindian@globaladjustments.com

Contest Alert! Want to be featured in Culturama magazine? Here’s your chance! Whip out your camera and click a picture of the Islamic faith and people in Islamic settings in their everyday life in India. Who knows? Your photograph could make it to our pages! The theme is ‘Eid’. The winning photo will be announced in the July Culturama 2017 edition with the photograph and name of the photographer prominently mentioned in the magazine. Email your photos to info@culturama.in

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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Cover Image

Culturama’s cover image this month is a painting of the wonderful cashew fruit by artist Jiji John. Find his work online at jijischitrakala. blogspot.in

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. Devdutt Pattanaik is the Chief Belief Officer of the Future Group and a writer and illustrator of several books on Indian mythology. www.devdutt.com

Letters to the editor Dear Editor,

The cover image of Culturama May 2017 edition was fantastic. Suzanne Mathew, Kerala

Dear Editor,

I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Queen Victoria and her good friend/tutor Abdul in your magazine. I bought the book and wish the author all the very best. Vishal Malick, Mumbai

Dear Editor,

Wow, what a superb article on India’s relationship with water in the India in Symbols column. Bikram Kumar, Bengaluru

culturama – Subscribe Now! Get your copy of Culturama as a hard copy or as an e-magazine - visit www.globaladjustments.com 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

20 Feature Join us as we capture the spirit of the Indian monsoon and tell you how to get through it in style.

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India’s Culture

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When did the natural black become the supernatural blue representing Krishna and Vishnu in Indian mythology?

Short Message Service

In Focus

Your guide to some of the many wonderful small markets of India.

Myth & Mythology

Short, engaging snippets of Indian culture.

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India Impressions

On the many fantastic beasts that make an appearance in Indian mythological tales.

Journeys Into India 56

Holistic Living

Find out how to forgive anybody and everybody, and in your forgiveness educate them.

Regulars

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Picture Story

Celebrating the Indian monsoon in all its glory.

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Humour Me

Lavanya Mohan pens a fun piece on her not-so-favourite rainy day memories.

Relocations and Property 50

Hit the Road

Travel with us to the temple town, Kumbakonam.

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Space and the City

Property listings in Chennai.


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SMS by Suzanne McNeill

Short cultural snippets for an easily digestible India

Bakarwadi Bakarwadi is a crispy tea-time snack with a spicy stuffing and a hint of sweetness that originated in Gujarat, but was popularised across India by the confectionary company called Chitale Bandhu Mithaiwale, based in Pune, who began selling packaged Bakarwadi in the 1970s across the country and abroad, too. Bakarwadi is made from a dough of gram (chickpea) and refined flour, rolled flat, then layered with a mixture of dried coconut, poppy and sesame seeds, spices including cumin and coriander, and sugar. Tamarind pulp adds a hint of tanginess to the mix. The dough and filling are tightly rolled together like a Swiss roll, which is sliced into 1-inch rounds and fried until crispy. Here, the food blogger Ketaki Ponde shows how to make Bakarwadi at home: https://paripoornapaksiddhi. blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/bakarwadi.html

Barsati Barsat is the Hindi word for the rainy season, and barsati is an adjective meaning ‘rainy’. As a noun, barsati can be a raincoat, but also a portico or attic, and is understood nowadays to denote the small rooftop dwellings that are common in large cities such as Delhi. Buildings in Delhi’s low-rise residential areas have for years been restricted to two storeys, with limited construction permitted on the third floor. Consequently, families built simple rooms on their rooftop terraces, either for domestic staff or to rent out cheaply to students, travellers or artists looking for low-cost accommodation. These single-room dwellings, unfurnished and exposed to the elements, became known as barsatis.


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Advertiser's Feature

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The flagship clinic of India’s largest and most trusted chain of dental centres, Apollo WHITE dental Spa, Khader Nawaz Khan Road, is the destination to get your teeth fixed by the best in the field without any anxiety. Smile Enhancement procedures range from basic cleaning, whitening, covering the teeth with beautiful and aesthetically crafted ceramic veneers, filling decayed teeth, root canal treatments, appealing alignment of the arch to support the lips, correction of the gum show and missing teeth replacements. Cleaning and Whitening: Routine scaling (cleaning) and polishing of teeth once in six months by dental professional is recommended by American Dental Association. However, many shun the same due to fear of the procedure. What makes a difference is the equipment used at the Apollo WHITE dental Spa to do the same. The high powered German ultrasonic equipment makes the entire treatment shorter, less noisy and sensitive. Veneers: Veneers are like contact lens for the teeth which can be appropriately coloured and contoured to match your skin colour and personality. They camouflage defects, discolorations and small spacing between teeth. The spa is equipped with Microscopes & Electronic Tooth Shade Selectors. Apollo WHITE dental with its in-house CAD CAM labs expedites veneer manufacturing to ensure minimal waiting time.

Root Canals and Crowns: Lasers and microscopes enhance the root canal experience and make it almost painless and less time consuming. Choose crown materials from gold, platinum, silver, palladium, zirconium, pure ceramic, chromium, cobalt etc. Missing Teeth Replacement: Missing teeth can be replaced instantly using implants which are planned precisely in a 3-dimensional field using a Cone Beam CT which is in house at the Apollo WHITE dental Spa. Sedation Dentistry: Sedation enables the dentist to work on you while you rest oblivious to the surrounding treatment procedures, pain-free and stress-free. Aligners: Teeth alignment can be carried out invisibly and speedily using 3D printed aligners from USA (Invisalign) or the clips placed inside the mouth (manufactured in Thailand). The orthodontist is skillful and trained to make your teeth look and feel in prefect alignment. Nestled in the high-street of Chennai, Apollo WHITE dental Spa is the hub of globally trained team of Super Specialist Doctors who work with the latest digital gadgets, microscopes and a variety of lasers to provide a comfortable, enjoyable dental “Spa” experience. The Spa not just specializes in Sedation Dentistry, but is also equipped with reflexology and zero-gravity massages to ease dental anxiety. The X-box and Dinosaur Dental Chairs enthrall children, during their visit to the Pediatric Dental Specialist. From Valet Parking to personalized treatment coordinators, Apollo WHITE dental spa promises both luxury and excellence in dentistry.

Braches: Mumbai – Peddar Road, New For exclusive appointments at the Apollo WHITE Dental Spa, KNK, Nungambakkam, Delhi – GK 1 & Hyderabad – Jubilee Hills. Chennai, call toll-free 18001 02 02 88. www.apollowhitedental.com


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Tie and Dye

There are many kinds of textile in India that are decorated using the tie and dye method, of which Bandhani is the best known. The term derives from the Sanskrit word banda, ‘to tie’, and earliest evidence of the process dates back to 4,000 BCE. It is believed the craft was brought to Gujarat by the Muslim Khatri community from Sindh, and to this day the Kutch region is most closely associated with Bandhani. The pattern is lightly marked on the fabric to be decorated – usually fine muslin, handloom cotton or silk – then workers lightly pluck the fabric at each point marked and wind thread tightly around the protruding cloth to form thousands of tiny knots. The fabric is immersed in colourful dye, rinsed, dried, then tied and then dipped in another colour, the process repeated several times before the knots are released and the overall pattern revealed. There should be a small dot at the centre of each knotted circle caused by the penetration of the dye that shows the fabric has been dyed using the traditional technique. Bandhani saris embellished with gold zari thread are gifted to brides as a symbol of married life.


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India in symbols by Susan Philip

Hindu philosophy personifies Earth as the Goddess Prithvi, also known as Bhumi or Bhumadevi

Down To

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In a nutshell The Earth is respected and revered as a Mother, the sustainer of life, the giver of bounty. She is thanked and honoured for her generosity. When her gifts have to be exploited for unavoidable reasons, her pardon is sought, and efforts taken to restore status quo as much as possible. Meaning and Deeper Meaning Hindu philosophy personifies Earth as the Goddess Prithvi, also known as Bhumi, Bhumadevi, Bhoodevi or simply, Devi. At the basic, mythological level, she is depicted as the wife of Varaha, one of the avatars of Lord Vishnu, as also one of the two consorts of Lord Vishnu himself. On a higher plane, this is an acceptance of the inter-connectedness of all facets of nature, and the fact that on the one hand the Earth is our caregiver, and on the other it deserves our care. Many everyday rituals pertaining to Earth encourage Man to behave as a responsible steward of Nature, and respect its synergy. Every action that involves man making a mark on Earth, from the simplest one of treading on the ground to more damaging activities like laying the foundations for buildings and excavating for minerals and water, is ideally done after duly worshipping Mother Earth. For instance, there’s a profound Sanskrit prayer that can be said before placing one’s feet on the floor preparatory to getting up first thing in the morning:

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Samudra Vasane Devi, Parvata Stana Mandale. Vishnupatni Namastubhyam, Pada Sparsham Kshamasva Me O Mother Earth! Draped by the oceans, adorned with mountains and jungles The consort of Lord Vishnu, I bow to you Forgive me for stepping upon you with my feet It is with similar intention that exponents of India’s many dance forms touch the ground in a gesture of reverence and respect before beginning their performances. The ground-breaking poojas that are performed before construction of a house or building begins has the same rationale. It is at once an apology for hurting Mother Earth and an acknowledgement that in putting up a structure, the equilibrium of the space is being disturbed. It is also a plea for Mother Earth’s blessings for the venture. The stuff of legend In the distant, misty past, when the earth was young, King Vena was appointed by the sages to rule the world. He ruled wisely and well, till arrogance came into the picture, and he banned his people from worshipping the Gods. So the sages put an end to his life. But after his death, there was no one to take care of the world, and things fell apart. So the sages stepped in again. They exhumed Vena’s body, and exorcised the evil that had taken him over. They also released the good that had been in him, in the shape of a handsome young man, a manifestation of Agni, the Fire God. His name was Prithu. The sages invested in him the authority to rule the whole world, and the people rejoiced, thinking that the good times had returned. But though Prithu was a just and pious ruler, the Earth rebelled. It refused to yield its bounty, and


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At the ground-breaking ceremony of a telecom factory

despite all the new King’s efforts, famine and dearth prevailed. Angry and frustrated, Prithu shot an arrow into the very heart of the Earth. The Earth took the form of a cow, Prithvi, and ran away. She ran to the court of Lord Brahma for sanctuary. But Brahma would not take her part. He said that as King of the World, Prithu had the right to demand that Prithvi give her yield to his people. He advised that Prithvi accept Prithu’s hand in marriage, and be obedient to him. And so, Prithvi married Prithu, and has served her husband and the people of the world ever since. But the story does not end with an absolute ‘happily ever after’. Prithu was not a totally kind husband. He often beats Prithvi, so the legend goes, in a bid to force her to yield more. Prithvi puts up with mistreatment and continues to sustain the people. The story is an allegorical representation of how the earth nurtures man and his needs despite his greed and thoughtlessness. Scientific substance Ecological balance, global warming, sustainable development – these are all catchphrases of today. They are concepts already acknowledged by traditional wisdom in India. Respect for life and nature in all its forms is imperative for keeping the world going. From the simple kolam drawn with

rice flour on the threshold, providing food to ants and small insects on the one hand and aesthetic appeal on the other, to the Chipko movement, when village women hugged trees in a bid to prevent deforestation, it is all about ecological consciousness. Saying it in verse Earth in which lie the sea, the river and other waters, … May she confer on us the finest of her yield. Earth, in which the waters, common to all, moving on all sides, flow unfailingly, day and night, may she pour on us milk in many streams, and endow us with lustre. …Earth, my mother, set me securely with bliss in full accord with heaven, O wise one, uphold me in grace and splendour. - From Prithvi Sukta in the Atharva Veda The Aikya factor In Greek mythology, Earth is personified as Gaia, and her equivalent in Roman mythology is Terra. She was worshipped as the Universal Mother. In the Inca tradition, the Earth was perceived as a Dragon Goddess named Pachamama, who lived beneath the mountains. She is worshiped on all major dates on the agricultural calendar to ensure a good supply of food. Mat Zemiya, corresponding to Earth, is one of the major deities in Slavanian mythology, while Phra Mae Thorani is the Earth deity in Buddhism. Stewardship of the Earth is a crucial part of the code of living laid out in the Old Testament of the Bible. For instance, verse 10 of the Book of Exodus, chapter 23 says: “For six years you shall sow your land and gather in its yield; but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave the wild beasts may eat.” “We are happy to see a growing recognition of the inter-linkages of life on this planet. With this respect for Mother Earth there is hope for humanity.” – Sushil Dhobal, Second Secretary, India’s Permanent Mission to the UN, International Mother Earth Day, April 21, 2017.


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Jonne Kolima with his colleagues.

Look Who’s In Town Bengaluru

A Finn having fun in India Meet Jonne Kolima, from Finland, working in Bengaluru Then & Now

Bureau-crazy

I was not really familiar with India before I came here. Of course I knew the usual clichés – spicy food, colourful festivals and busy streets – but had no first-hand experience. I did read a bit on southern India and Bengaluru before coming here but, generally speaking, my strategy (some would call it laziness) was to jump in the pool without dipping in a toe first. The thinking behind this was that immersion would be more effective with an uncluttered mind… I guess this kind of worked, my first couple of weeks in Bengaluru were undeniably chaotic but after that everything seemed to click. Well, actually, I landed in India just before the demonetisation started, so that perhaps led to more confusion than was absolutely necessary…

My first point of contact with India – before even entering the country – were the people and organisations around the massive bureaucratic machinery that every expat encounters when coming for a longer stay in India. We Finns love bureaucracy but we have got nothing on India! Then again, I do not know how complimentary it is to a have a nation of 5 million people, which has for some reason created the same labyrinthine bureaucracy needed to run a nation of 1.3 billion people… Looking back at the process, I think it went relatively smoothly, with some minor hiccups on the way (a PAN card lost in the mailroom for a month comes to mind…) Also, it gave me to opportunity to have the first experiences of the


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Indian way of doing things, which I guess is something like: It might take a while but it will get done.

Manchurian moments I have been here for six months now and pretty much everything I have tasted has been good. I like biryani, of course, and all the wonderful breads that go with a meal. I am also partial to Gobi Manchurian. Dosas are always good, as are parathas with different stuffings. It is not all fun and games, though. I’m one of those people who like spicy food but cannot handle it very well (lassi really is a lifesaver sometimes). So, if you ever run across a red-faced, sweating Finn nevertheless enjoying his food – a bit too much even – in the many excellent Bengaluru restaurants, that is probably me. I have also really grown to like the South Indian breakfast with idli, vada, sambar and chutney. There is nothing like starting your day with a set of these and a cup of South Indian coffee afterwards. If this does not wake you up, you have probably already departed from this world and need not worry about your next breakfast.

Shootouts in the night I landed in Bengaluru on the last day of Diwali and did not really have much idea of what was going on. It seemed that the locals’ favourite pastime was to shoot fireworks at each other, long into the night. Only afterwards I gained some understanding of what went on, and I am looking forward to experiencing Diwali from the beginning.

Fun with bananas I live in a township that has three temples close to my apartment. One of them is Sri Chokkanathaswamy, which is considered the oldest temple in the city. I can hear the temple bells every day (and early morning) in my home, which is kind of soothing at times. I also got to experience one of the festivals first-hand when trying to get to my home, while the rest of the Domlur village was celebrating. A nearby temple’s idol was carried in a wagon across the streets. There were the usual drums and horns, some excellent dancers, temple priests, and so on. But the surprise for me, once again (not uncommon in India!), were the bananas. People were sacrificing food to Lakshmi in the form of bananas by throwing them at the wagon and apparently trying to get them to stay on the roof. This was really fun to watch and, by the looks of it, fun for the participants, too!

Flower power I guess my favourite India/Bengaluru moment so far is not that exotic; it is from when I first visited Lalbagh Park. I just went to see the flower show and was surprised at how big, yet cosy the park was. When I looked at the massive, gnarly trees under the wide, blue Indian sky, I probably decided for the first time that hey, I like it in here.

India darshan In February I went with two colleagues on a tri-state road trip: Karnataka–Andhra Pradesh–Tamil Nadu. The main objective was the famous Sri Venkateswara Temple at the top of the Tirumala Hills. Climbing the Tirumala Hills with pilgrims and seeing the Sri Venkateswara Temple at the top, after a four-hour climb, and queuing up in long lines to get to the inner temple was an eye-opening experience. Mysore was also a place well worth seeing. Even though this might be a touristy thing to say, the Mysore Palace is something everyone visiting or living in South India should see at least once. Mysore itself is a historic place and you might be well advised to hire a tour guide to take you through the historical sites of the place; ours was a local history student and gave us an excellent tour, which also included tasting many of the Mysore delicacies, including their famous bananas and, of course, the Mysore Pak.

I am taking home… I like the amiability and the good sense of humour – tinged with more than a hint of sarcasm when needed – of the Bengalureans. This is also accomplished with an undeniable ‘human touch’ that can only be born in places where people have a long history of getting along with each other. Maybe this is something that would work well as an Indian “export”.


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n o o s n o M s g n i mus

Feature urama by Team Cult

Photo: Rajarshi MITRA via Flickr


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As India looks hopefully towards the skies for the rains to answer all of its woes, Team Culturama captures the Indian monsoon and all you need to get through it in style Did you know that the word monsoon comes from the Arabic mawsim or season? Sailors plying ancient sea trade routes to India calculated the best times to take advantage of the seasonal winds while avoiding storms and gales. India’s economy is mainly agrarian and depends heavily on the monsoons for its health. A good season has a cascading effect on crops, power, industry, the stock market and the GDP of the country. A good monsoon gives one an ‘all is well’ feeling. Much column and inch space in newspapers and bandwidth on television is given over to predicting its strength and course. As the dark clouds gather on the horizon, the country moves smoothly into monsoon mode and adopts ways of life and jargon suited for the season. Rain is a given. What is in doubt is the quantity. Too much brings floods and destruction, too little means a drought year. Like Goldilocks’ porridge, it has to be just right. Authorities in many cities are serious about rain water harvesting, and it is paying off.

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Monsoon essentials There are two monsoon seasons in India. The south-west monsoon starts in June and goes on till around August in most of India, while the reverse, the north-east one, brings rain in October–November to the eastern coast. Being prepared is the best way to enjoy the Indian monsoon. The south-west monsoon makes landfall in God’s Own Country, Kerala, the southern-most Indian state. Traditionally, it sets in on June 1, give or take a day or two. A normal monsoon is usually amazingly punctual. Cyclones are an accepted part of the monsoon experience, too. Low-pressure troughs form in the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea or the Bay of Bengal and sometimes turn nasty. Rural areas bear the brunt of the furious winds, while cities are more or less safe. But live wires pose a threat, so power is often shut down during cyclones. Pack in an umbrella while stepping out of the house. Now is a good time to invest in a power backup system that will keep electricity running in your house, even during those pesky outages caused by rains. Remember to charge power banks that will help charge your mobile phones. A good torchlight or emergency lamp is always a wise investment. Although ankle-to-knee-length waters are expected on the roads, most Indians do not wear boots in the rain. The preferred Indian rain footwear are sandals!

Our picks:

Photo: Rinske BLOEMENDAL, The Netherlands

The quintessential LBU – little black umbrella – that will fit into your bag! Log on to www.sunumbrellas.in

Have a regime for your hair; it may grow dry during those rainy days. Use oil, like this Bringadi Intensive Hair Treatment Oil, for instance. Find it at www.kamaayurveda.com

Keep those pesky insects away with a repellent body spray. Try the ‘Forest Essentials Herb Infused Insect Deterrent Body Spray’ at www.forestessentialsindia.com

Ditch the boring sandals for these fun Methyz with beautiful patterns by artist/designer Alicia Souza. Log on to www.aliciasouza.com


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Photo: Anokhi

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Monsoon fashion Make dressing for comfort as well as convenience your priority this monsoon. Steer clear of the whites. Embrace the reds, browns and blacks. Or if you want to beat the greys, try some bright colours. Ankle-length trousers, loose short kurtas, leggings, are your friends this season. It will be a good idea to retire your jeans on the days it rains heavily, because once they get wet they will take too long to dry. Remember, anything that is flowing will be a hindrance while jumping across puddles. Finally, if you are using make-up, switch to waterproof ones.

A still from the Hindi film Piku


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Our top picks:

Panjim, Goa

Munnar, Kerala

Udaipur, Rajasthan

Farmers make haste as clouds gather over fields. Photo: Rajarshi MITRA via Flickr

Agumbe, Karnataka

Monsoon getaways There are some parts of India that have to be experienced in the rains. Think Goa in the monsoon, or Kerala. With the pitter-patter of a drizzle for company and lovely weather, sit and drink chai, munch on some hot, crunchy samosas, or just read a book. Sometimes you just need a do-nothing vacation. Monsoon getaways are the perfect way to achieve that state of bliss.

Mussoorie, Uttarakhand

The Andaman Islands


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Monsoon weddings It is a truth that the Indian wedding season coincides with the monsoon and what is more, instead of letting the rain play party pooper, many have embraced it to incorporate the greys and the puffy clouds into their wedding themes. There is even a popular movie titled Monsoon Wedding that we recommend! If you are planning one for yourself, or attending one, here is a quick primer:

rom th

A still f

ding on Wed

onso e film M

- Monsoon weddings are best held indoors, with a limited guest list although marquise tents are waterproof and elegant too. - Swap floral arrangements for something else – hand-embroidered umbrellas perhaps? - Lay out rubber carpets in car pick up areas. - Make sure there are enough umbrellas to go around for everyone. At the valet, in people’s rooms, at the venue, and so on.


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Hot masala tea, (right) pakodas (deep-fried snacks), and below the pied crested cuckoo.

Monsoon foods And, finally, what is a piece on the rains without one on the foods we love when it rains? In South India, the sound of thunder is almost always followed by the sound of our favourite snack, bhajji, being deep fried. In the North, there is of course the world-famous chai with samosas. We have drawn up a list of foods for you to try and warm up the soul just a bit! - Kullad chai (hot tea served in earthenware) - Bhajjis (deep-fried crunchy savoury snacks) - Hot corn on the cob - Pav bhaji (hot buns served with a spicy potato gravy)

Monsoon miscellany The pied crested cuckoo is a long-tailed, black and white bird that is to the monsoon in India what the swallow is to the summer in England. Called chatak in Hindi, it is a migratory bird, and suddenly appears in late May and early June. Migrant Watch is a citizen’s initiative to document its arrival and link it to the monsoon.


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craft cafe 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 Usha Ramakrishnan

Gratitude an amazing attitude to success

Aikya beneficiaries, Ilavarasi and Archana with the scholarship. Sponsors and well-wishers (left to right) Ranjini Manian, Usha Ramakrishnan, Mariazeena Johnson, Sathyabama University, Karthikeyan, Kamadhenu Jewellers and Rajagopalan, HSBC.

Read about the inspiring story of Archana and Ilavarasi, recipients of scholarships from the Global Adjustments Foundation

The scores are now out. It is a whopping 98%. When the jury picked two young girls as beneficiaries for the women’s empowerment technical education scholarship at our fundraiser, we had heard about their dedication and promise. Their final results were pending. Betting on promise paid off. Ilavarasi and Archana of the Jaigopal Garodia School in Virugambakkam have come in first and second, respectively, in their school, in their grade 12 examinations. Ilavarasi will now learn to become a Chartered Accountant. Archana will study medicine and become a doctor. That is one part of the exciting news: a great future awaits them. What is inspiring is their past and present as well. Ilavarasi is a daily wage mason’s daughter and Archana’s father earns a small salary in a private firm. Typically, families like these would aspire to get the daughters ‘married off’ early, so that they can ‘unburden’ themselves. Archana and Ilavarasi are living messages of change and hope, where the parents


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encourage the daughters to chase their dreams. Asked about a lesson from the past, Ilavarasi says, “We focused not on what’s missing (money), but rather on what we do have: a sharp mind, ability to grasp academics and good parents.” Archana adds, “And an incredible grit and determination to win which you taught us.” The lesson for us from their success: gratitude for what we have is a great attitude in order to move up in life.

Ilavarasi cheerfully receives her tablet from Rohini Manian, CEO, Global Adjustments while her father Mr. Srinivasan reminds her not to spend too much time browsing.

Usha Ramakrishnan, Director, Global Adjusments Foundation, hands over a watch to Archana. This will help her treat time as precious, say her proud parents.

Jaigopal Garodia School is a state government–aided girls’ school housing 2,700 students, predominantly from underprivileged backgrounds. The Headmistress, Shashi Swaran Singh, is a dedicated and passionate educationist who makes every child comfortable and happy at school and motivates her team of teachers to make the school a second home for students. She deservingly received the Dr. Radhakrishnan Best teacher award from the Government of Tamil Nadu. Global Adjustments Foundation imparts life-education to the students of Jaigopa Garodia School by igniting them to achieve, build their self-image and confidence and inculcate values. We conduct regular spoken English classes, along with Raman Ventures, for the girls. We teach self-defence techniques with Karate gold medallist master Kebiraj and provide financial support for developing this school’s infrastructure. Global Adjustments CEO, Rohini Manian, surprised Ilavarasi and Archana with a tablet each so they can operate easily in a connected world, while the entire family of Global Adjustments enjoyed their screams of joy. We wish these future achievers an extraordinary life ahead!

If you wish to volunteer or support women and students’ advancement, contact us today at usha@globaladjustments.com or call 98405 20394


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India on a Platter by Preeti Verma Lal

A very cashew affair Join us as we go on a cashew trail in Goa…

Anacardium occidentale. That’s the name. I stood under that tree in Goa. Anacardium occidentale? That’s the botanical name of the cashew tree. The tree laden with fruits. Countless fruits. Red. Yellow. Green. Burnished orange. A few scattered and bruised on the ground. Each fruit with one nut dressed in a charcoal sheath. Hard shell with resinous filling. There is nothing true about the Anacardium occidentale fruit. It is a false fruit – not a fruit but a swollen stalk with the nut dangling precariously outside. In the Tivim cashew farm of Cedric and Mac Vaz, vintage cars had lined up to mark the beginning of the Cashew Trail, an eight-day annual festival by Park Hyatt Goa Resort & Spa that harks back to the old legend of cashew.


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There is more to cashew than its clichéd fame as roasted ‘munchie’. This bean-shaped nut multitasks wonderfully! Standing under the cashew tree, I stepped back in time. Cut to the year 1510. The year the Portuguese landed in Goa and brought along the sapling of a cashew tree that originated in Brazil, with poison ivy, pistachio and mango as distant cousins. Nearly 500 years after the first cashew tree was planted, cashew reigns over Goa. It is everywhere. That one balmy afternoon I decided to don a million cashew roles – a cashew picker, an apple stomper, a feni distiller, a nut cracker, cashew chef… It all began with a red cashew apple. Cashew apples are considered a delicacy in Brazil. To know that cashew-craziness, I chewed into a fresh red fruit. It is gooey, juicy, sweet with an alluring hint of wooziness. The next step: de-seed the apple, set the nuts aside and throw the fruits in a rock pit (colmbi) and stomp barefoot to get the juices flowing. I baulked at the idea of an impromptu cashew juice pedicure. Sure, I was game for it. I rolled up my dungaree, jumped into the pit, held a rope and stomped and stomped; the juice trickling into an earthen pot.


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Cashew apple is considered a delicacy in Brazil

Children stomping cashew apple

Cashew feni being made the traditional way

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Later, I stood by the fire blazing in a clay hearth on which sat stout copper pots filled with 90 litres of cashew apple juice to be simmered, fermented and distilled into urak and feni, the latter being listed by Time magazine as one of the world’s Top 10 Ridiculously Strong Drinks. The cashew nut is then steamed/roasted and hand cracked to separate the caustic shell from the nut. Thereafter, the nut is sorted, graded to be sold in the market as the world’s favourite drink companion. Interestingly, the Cashew Trail is not a dreary jaunt into history. During the event, a lot happens around cashew. In the heirloom recipe cook-off, Dr Mimi Silveira, a pediatrician in Goa Medical College, was recreating her grandmother’s heirloom recipe in Casa Sarita restaurant. Six home chefs had tied the apron strings for an heirloom recipe cook-off with cashew as an essential ingredient. Smita Shirsat was slicing fresh cashew apples for the vegetarian Panchamrut dish, Nikita Prasad brought along her mother-in-law’s favourite Kaju (cashew) Chicken starter recipe while Vaishali Joshi was adding kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) to diced chicken for a home-style cashew-laden chicken gravy. Beating egg yolks, Dr Silveira tried raking time to carbon date the nutty fish recipe. “It certainly goes back two generations. Perhaps my grandmother picked it up from her mother. All I know it that it was and is a favourite dessert for feasts,” added Dr Silveira as her 89-year-old mother sat in a corner watching


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her daughter rustle up food and memories of a bygone era. Chef Franco Canzano roasts, braises, breaks, tosses and dresses the cashews to turn them into a million scrumptious things. All with the twirl of a ladle. Cashew Alle Belle parfait. Cashew and curry leaf pesto for linguini pasta. Mongolian cashew curry. Cashew stuffed in filo served with feni anglaise. Cashew jam. Cashew/mango chutney. Cashew marinade for chicken dish. Cashew dip made of cashew paste, cream cheese and condiments. There is more to cashew than its clichéd fame as roasted ‘munchie’. The kernels are used in the paint and incense industry; its unsaturated oils rubbed on the skin for moisture and smoothness. Cashew nut oil is the perfect answer for cracked heels and fungal infections. One can blend dry cashew nuts with a few almonds for a face-mask. This bean-shaped nut multitasks wonderfully! A nutty fish made of ground cashew and poached egg yolks


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Cashew virgin oil is a precious beauty ingredient.

The goodness of cashew •

Cashew nut is certainly not fat-less but it contains ‘good’ and not ‘bad’ fat.

It is a useful source of proteins and minerals such as iron, copper, manganese and phosphorous.

The presence of copper in cashew makes it a popular antioxidant.

Cashew apple is known to provide some health benefits in reducing blood sugar and hypertension.

Madame Rosa Cashew Feni bottled in light-bulb shaped glass and (right) classic packaging

As if all this was not enough cashew for a lifetime, I rolled over in Sereno Spa’s wooden bed for the signature Cashew Ritual in which cashew kernels are used as scrub, cashew paste slathered over the body and cling-wrapped; virgin cashew nut oil massage and a shot of cashew nectar as a fitting end to the ritual. On Sunday, for brunch, as the sun sped into the afternoon sky, I walked into the Magical Forest restaurant in Park Hyatt. At the entrance, hats lay stacked, cashew apples posed as dainty flowers in vases, white gazebos were bustling with giggly kids and men and women measuring their happiness in pints of feni (a craft spirit made from cashew). In a rock-hewn pit, mounds of cashew apple were being stomped, Latin Connection was crooning on stage and in another corner lay a lavish lunch: cashew ice-cream, cashew jam, cashew/mango chutney, cashew desserts, fresh cashew apple juice… Cashew. Cashew. And more cashew.


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India Impressions by Team Culturama

Fantastic

Beasts and Where to Find Them

In many Indian stories and lore, mythical and fantastic beasts make an appearance. Often as mounts or as divine vehicles of transport to deities, called vahanas...


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Airavata Airavata is the white elephant vahana of the Hindu god Indra. Indra is the king of Svarga (heaven), according to Hinduism. He is a guardian deity in Buddhism and the king of the first heaven called Saudharmakalpa in Jainism. Airavata is also called Abhramatanga, meaning elephant of the clouds, Nagamalla, meaning the fighting elephant and Arkasodara, meaning brother of the sun. Airavata has ten tusks and five trunks and is pure white in colour.

Marjara Shashthi is a Hindu folk goddess and the protector of children. Her mount is Marjara (cat).

Makara Makara is a mythical sea-creature in Hindu culture. It is a half terrestrial animal in the front – usually a stag, deer, crocodile or elephant – and half aquatic animal in the rear – usually a fish or seal tail. Makara is the vahana of Ganga, the river goddess and Varuna, the god of the seas.

Suka

Shvan Bhairava, a Hindu deity, is a fierce manifestation of Shiva associated with annihilation. His vahana is Shvan, a dog, and he is often portrayed with a drum, pasa (noose), trident and a skull.

Suka is a parrot and the vahana of Kamadeva. Kamadeva or Kama, as he is commonly known, is the Hindu deity for human love or desire. His female consort is Rati. In Hindu marriages, the bride's feet are often painted with portraits of Suka, the parrot vahana of Kamadeva.


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Picture Story by Anukriti Bisht

Simple pleasures You know what’s the best part about the rainy season? The pleasant earthy smell after it rains, “petrichor”. The petrichor hanging in the air on misty mornings is a gift that greets us come monsoon. The silver puddles create an obstacle course, the refreshing greenery—a feast for our eyes. What could be better than this?


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Clouds loom large over apartment buildings, annoucing the onset of monsoon. Photo: Dylan SULLIVAN

Moving furniture on the backwater while it rains? Easy peasy! Photo: Dauphine LARDINOIS

Umbrellas in oh-so-many colours! Photo: Mikela KINER

Kicking up a storm on the way to school on a rainy day.

A ceremony while it rains? That's what we call a mammoth affair. Photo: Olivia TAGHIOFF

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Photo: Cedric FONTANT, France

Photo: Josef KARRASCH, Germany

Photo: Melissa FREITAS, Brazil

In Focus by Team Culturama

Small is Beautiful

Photo: Cedric FONTANT, France

Your guide to some of the many wonderful small markets of India


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Photo: Isaa Sayegh Sandrine

Chandni Chowk, Delhi Bustling with people all round the year, the gullies of Old Delhi, around the beautiful Red Fort and the atmospheric Juma Masjid is Chandni Chowk. Buy handmade leather shoes, gold, silver and clothes and sample the world’s best parathas (stuffed breads) in Paranthewali Galli and other scrumptious street eats!

Attar Market, Kannauj The bustling alleys of the famous Chandi Chowk

Camel skin perfume bottles from Kannauj. The bottles help age the perfume as the skin breathes, allowing water to evaporate while holding in the fragrance and oil, becoming a perfume, or attar.

Ittar or attar is a traditional Indian perfume and Kannauj PerfIttar is a traditional Indian perfume. Kannauj Perfume, also known as Kannauj Ittar, is a famous perfume manufacturer. At Kannauj, you will find an old perfume maker every few inches. Think fragrant rose water, jasmine perfume, incense sticks in a myriad varieties! Perfume production is so popular in Kannauj, in the Uttar Pradesh, that it has been protected with a GI (geological indication) tag. Some suggestions say that perfumes from this area were a favourite of the many Mughal emperors of India for over 300 years. These perfumes had patrons in many parts of the world too, and Kannauj even enjoyed trade links to the Middle East.


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Photo: Michelle Klakulak

Farmer’s Markets, Tamil Nadu Uzhavar santhai (farmer’s market) is a wonderful initiative of the Government of Tamil Nadu. It promotes direct contact between farmers and consumers and as a result of which the farmer enjoys the full profits for his labour without any middlemen.

Laad Bazaar, Hyderabad Women 'man' the stalls at the famous Ima Keithal, all-woman market in Imphal

Laad Bazaar or, as it is popularly known, Choodi Bazaar is an old market in Hyderabad famous for its bangles. It is near the beautiful Charminar, the historical landmark that gets its name from its four minarets. Laad means lacquer and it is used to make bangles, on which artificial diamonds are studded. A little over a kilometre, this stretch has an array of tiny shops that sell bangles, saris and other colourful, affordable jewellery. Shopping for weddings while in Hyderabad almost always involves a trip to Laad Bazaar!

Ima Keithal, Imphal

Bangles in myriad hues and shades at Laad Bazaar

The unique Ima Keithal (Mother’s Market) in Imphal, Manipur, is run entirely by women. This is also among the largest of markets in the world to be run by women. Think carpets, clothes, local cuisine and more... In the heart of Imphal city, this market has three buildings, dedicated to vegetables, fish, upholstery, woollens, linen, handicrafts, and so on.


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Hit the Road by Devanshi Mody

Koils and Kaapis in

Kumbakonam In the mood for a perfectly brewed cup o’ filter coffee (kaapi as they call it here)? Or are you in the mood for some stunning temples (called koil in tamil)? You can get both in Kumbakonam… It's called the Temple Town. So are so many other towns in Tamil Nadu! But Kumbakonam is doubtless pre-eminent amongst temple towns. The town itself throbs with temples whilst satellite temples gravitate around it. Kumbakonam is a base from which to explore the UNESCO World Heritage Great Chola Temples, but remember it has its own wealth of ancient architectural treasures legend-steeped and myth-imbrued, so don’t stray. Stay, a while at least, and let the clanging temple bells resolve into an enveloping silken peace you can snuggle into over copious cups of fabled Kumbakonam degree coffee, or, as the locals say, kaapi! One afternoon in Chennai I meet Subbu, the wildly charismatic and flamboyantly eccentric ex-CEO of Mantra Veppathur, for degree coffee. He says it’s much better at his all-green, tree-thronged resort in Kumbakonam. Next I know, my brother and I are zooming down to Kumbakonam. Anything for a good coffee, sorry kaapi, and yes those gorgeous historic Tamil temples. Mantra’s young Front Office Manager has been appointed our personal guide. He explains what I already know – pilgrims predominantly visit Kumbakonam to worship at the famous Navagraha temples dedicated to the nine planetary deities. The temples are old and their presiding deities supposedly wield great “power” over mortal destinies but the temples are no artistic marvels. If we take eons to visit them, it’s because we need to traverse walls of pilgrims to reach the sanctum. It’s beauty that we’re beholden to and we visit as many temples as possible. Too many to enumerate and elaborate on in the scope of this story perhaps, because it’s beyond the scope of memory as the countless temples visited the mind blends into a swirling opulence of architectural splendour, sculpted colonnaded vistas, ceilings encrusted in arabesques of finery…


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written by Nayanmars (Tamil saint poets). This 7th century Chola temple with three concentric compounds sprawls immensely over four acres and boasts four gopurams (gateway towers), the tallest being the 128-ft, 11-storied eastern tower. The overwhelming feeling of expanse is consolidated by the 330-ft corridor leading you into the temple teaming with many shrines and halls including the 16-pillared hall built during the Vijayanagar Period blazed with 27 stars and 12 zodiacs sculpted in a single stone. The name Kumbakonam derives from the legend that during universal dissolution orchestrated by Shiva, the mythical kumbh (pot) of Brahma bearing the seeds of all the earth’s creatures got displaced and came to rest in what is today Kumbakonam; spilling its contents in two places, including the Mahamaham tank, amongst the seven outlying water bodies associated with the temple. At the tank a festival occurs every 12 years which even the mighty 16th century Vijayanagar emperor Krishnadeva Raya graced. The biggest of all Kumbakonam’s Shiva temples, Kumbeswarar also has five splendid silverplated chariots to carry idols in during festival processions. Photo: Samir Mody

Three temples, nevertheless, distinguish themselves because the aesthetic impact apart they are of historic or cultural significance or just plain different. I’d add a fourth temple which UNESCO short-listed until locals daubed the ancient temple and its soaring deity-packed gopurams with bewildering fluorescent paints and flayed it of elegance and dignity. So I shall detail the remaining three temples. The Adi Kumbeswarar Temple is perhaps the most celebrated temple of Kumbakonam. Shiva, worshiped as Adi Kumbeswarar, is represented by the lingam believed to have been crafted by the great lord himself whilst he mixed the nectar of immortality and sand. The presiding deity is revered in the 7th century Tamil Saiva canonical work, the Thevaram,

The second temple to have etched itself in my mind is the Swaminathaswamy Temple where the 15th century riotous libertine-turned saintly poet Arunagirinathar sang great paeans to Swaminathaswamy or Lord Murugan. This temple in Swamimalai, 5 km from Kumbakonam, is amongst the six main abodes of Murugan that mark the different phases of his life and is said to be in existence from the Sangam period (2nd Century BC) but modified by Parantaka Chola I. The temple was badly damaged during the Anglo-French war between Hyder Ali and the British in 1740. Amongst its unusual features are the 60 steps, each named after the 60 Tamil years, that lead up to the shrine of the presiding deity Swaminathaswamy seated atop a 60-ft hillock. Shrines of his mother Meenakshi and father Shiva are surprisingly located downhill. Our guide told us that this


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ostentation of architectural grandeur. The 64 pillars in the hall near the gopuram are sculpted with exquisite finesse depicting episodes from the Ramayana. Each pillar crafted of a single stone projects the delicacy of the workmanship with arresting poignance. Spot Hanuman in an unusual posture bearing manuscripts. On the walls of the prakaram (enclosure of the temple) the Ramayana unfurls in pictorial flourishes or Chitra Ramayana in three streaming bands so you may imbibe the Ramayana visually whilst executing three pradakshinams (rounds) of the sanctum. The mounting incense, fervent chants, crescendo of bells, spectacle of lamps and fire are so spiritually elevating that I feel I’m flying.

is where Murugan gave his own father Shiva a Tamil lesson, which is why Kumbakonam is the seat of the Tamil language. This isn’t surprising given that Murugan is embraced as the quintessentially “Tamil” god as opposed to only a “Hindu” god, and the number 6 is identified with Murugan connoting the 6 directions and 6 chakras of the human anatomy. Another popular legend is that the child Murugan preached the ‘Pranava Mantra’ (‘Om’) to Shiva after arresting Brahma (not before smacking his forehead in anger with his fists…) for not answering his question about the Pranava Mantram. Murugan’s proficiency at edification partakes of his attributes and thus he attained the name Swaminathaswamy. Amongst the most frequented temples in the district it is distinguished by Murugan’s unusual mount. The customary peacock sported axial to the presiding deity in other temples is here replaced by a white elephant, symbolic of power, and is thought to be Murugan’s original mount. This iconography is, however, today maintained only at the Swaminathaswamy Temple and the Tiruttani Murugan Temple. In Shiva and Murugan territory the Ramaswamy Temple is refreshingly different. The 16th century temple built by the Nayak kings is considered unique amongst Nayak temples in its style. It might be junior to the fabled Kumbeswarar and Swaminathanswamy temples but is an

If the Bible calls gluttony a cardinal sin, then I’m prepared to burn in some circle of Dante’s Hell for it for gluttony is inevitable after the exhausting temple tours. Mantra Veppathur is like the Garden of Eden to a vegetarian. The pure-vegetarian resort has its own gardens which might not have apples but they do have every conceivable exotic South Indian fruit and vegetable. Banana leaf sapadus are feasts fit for the gods themselves, whilst suppers present you esoteric regional specialties. But it’s the breakfasts in the pillared pavilions surrounded by gardens that are a real delight. Forget the food (which is fabulous), it’s the coffee of which I have six tumblers the first morning. Yet, I find myself downing gingered and jaggeried teas over teatime in the charming thatched roofed kaapi kada (shop) in the resort gardens. Then it’s time to explore the town’s souks for coffee, antique brass filters, brass lamps that Kumbkonam is renowned for, and local sweetmeats (they’re excellent!). And, if you like saris, then visit the local weavers and watch them weave silks into resplendent saris that string you along from temptation to temptation.


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india • srilanka • maldives • and beyond

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Holistic Living by Eknath Easwaran

A leap of

faith Photo: Aurelie Marsan, France

Forgiveness requires a real leap of faith in human nature...


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Join Us Every Saturday Global Adjustments Office, Chennai, facilitates a 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.

St. Francis once said that anyone who doesn’t know how to forgive has lost the greatest source of joy in life. Today we are practically encouraged to do just the opposite: to be resentful, to be hostile, to retaliate and nurse our grievances and never forget past wrongs. Books, movies, newspapers and magazines go on repeating messages whose impact is to make the human being incapable of forgiveness. Even if we say “Let’s shake hands and be quits,” the embers of resentment and revenge are burning deep inside, where they can lead to disease in mind and body as surely as a bacillus. Resentments eat away our vitality; hostility undermines our immune system. “Resentment is human nature,” we may say. Yet nothing in human nature requires us to be vengeful; that is the most important thing we can learn from St. Francis’s life. Even if this is the way we are now, we can change. We can look on the St. Francis Prayer as crib notes for a comprehensive curriculum intended to teach this higher mode of living. The only way to be an instrument of peace, Francis is telling us, is by sowing love wherever we find hatred, beginning with ourselves. That means learning to forgive, and that in turn requires faith – in oneself, in others, in the power of goodness. Lack of faith in human nature brings despair, but faith brings hope – and anyone who brings hope into a dark world is welcomed as a source of light.

We see only a tiny corner of life. What guides our steps is “what abides: these three, faith, hope, and love; and the greatest of these is love.” As I believe G. K. Chesterton said, love means pardoning the unpardonable, or it is no virtue at all. Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all. And faith means believing the incredible, or it is no virtue at all. These are the heights we can attain when we drive the St. Francis Prayer into the depths of consciousness through years of meditation. We will be able to forgive anybody and everybody, and in our forgiveness educate them. We will be able to love everybody and anybody, and in that love we will educate them. Unconditional love may act slowly, but it overcomes all obstacles. This is the only force for change that endures, because it brings a lasting change of heart.

The Prayer of St. Francis Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is doubt, faith;

Lifting the burden of despair like this is the only way the world can be transformed, because only an unburdened heart can have the strength and courage to love when circumstances seem hopeless.

Where there is despair, hope;

I did not have much faith in my early days, and what little I had was lost when I went to college. That is where I lost my faith in faith also. So don’t blame yourself if you have no faith. You can reclaim your faith in others and in yourself by practising it, never giving in to negativity, hopelessness or despair. This kind of faith can move not only mountains; as Gandhi would say, it can change the face of the world.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek

Where there is darkness, light; Where there is sadness, joy.

To be consoled as to console, To be understood as to understand, To be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; It is in pardoning that we are pardoned; It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.

Reprinted with permission from ‘Forgiving Others, Forgiving Ourselves’ by Eknath Easwaran from The Blue Mountain Journal. Copyright The Blue Mountain Center of Meditation, P.O. Box 256, Tomales, CA 94971, www.easwaran.org. (Extract from https://www.bmcm.org/ inspiration/journals/)


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Myth & Mythology by Devdutt Pattanaik

Krishna’s colour When did the natural black become the supernatural blue representing Krishna and Vishnu in Indian mythology?

In the Sanskrit Valmiki’s Ramayana, Hanuman describes Ram as ‘shyamavarna’, which means one of darkcomplexion. In folk poetry, poets describe Krishna as ‘ghana-shyam’, as dark as monsoon clouds. Yet, in our most popular art, we find Ram and Krishna visualised in blue colour. So, we wonder, are they black, and blue, or only blue? One is met with a stony silence. In the old temples in the Gangetic plains, such as the Banke Bihari temple in Vrindavan, Krishna images are carved of black stone, and they stand in stunning splendour, bedecked with flowers and fabric. Often, in stark contrast, the image of Radha is made of marble, or bronze. He the dark-one; she the fair one. However, in many new temples, people are increasingly choosing images of Krishna in marble over black stone.


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There are cave paintings suggesting two men on a chariot. Is that Krishna and Arjuna? We can only speculate. The earliest Krishna literature, the Mahabharata, tells tales of Krishna’s adulthood. There, Draupadi is referred to as Krishna, the dark complexioned lady. That would make Krishna, the dark complexioned man. This is about 2,000 years old. In Bhakti literature, that is less than a thousand years old, Krishna’s beauty becomes the object of veneration. He is increasingly linked to dark monsoon clouds and to blue lotuses. His dark complexion in the full moon night is the subject of poetry. The earliest images of Krishna are probably on IndoGreek coins, nearly 2,000 years old, showing a man holding a wheel. Then come the Gupta stone statues, about 1,500 years old, showing a hero fighting a horse, most probably Krishna fighting Keshin. The earliest paintings of Krishna probably come from miniature art that flourished around temples, like the pattachitra around Jagannath Puri temple of Odisha. The image enshrined in the temple is made of wood and covered with paint, refreshed almost daily. Here, Jagannath, who is simultaneously Vishnu, Ram and Krishna, is painted with black soot. In the paintings made in nearby villages by artisans, Krishna is depicted in black colour. About 500 years ago, Persian miniature painting was introduced by the Mughals and became widely popular in North India, influencing the Pahari school of painting and the Pichhvai school of Nathdvara temples. Here, Krishna can be seen distinctly as blue: light blue of the day sky, not the dark blue of the sapphire. The images of Krishna, Ram and Vishnu, on the grand gopurams of South India, show them as blue, even though in early Tamil songs of the Sangam period there is

reference to the dark beloved pastoral god, Mayon, believed to be an early form of Krishna. Folk songs repeatedly refer to the contrast between the dark Krishna and the fair Radha, or the dark Vishnu and the fair Shiva. When did the natural black become the supernatural blue? Does this have something to do with India’s infamous discomfort with the dark complexion? In China, the tanned complexion is seen as inferior, as it is indicative of the peasant who works in the sun. India too is an agricultural country and may have shared such prejudices. After all, the princess ‘untouched by the sun’ or a-suryasparsha, is an object of fascination in folk tales. Wandering in the forest during exile, and wandering in pastures with his cows, may have tanned Ram and Krishna. But, before the sun had its way, was their skin black, brown or blue?

Published in Mid-Day on 16th April, 2017. Reprinted with permission from devdutt.com


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Humour Me by Lavanya Mohan

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Cloudy Weather


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Who says rains are all about nostalgia and fun? This popular blogger reaches into the recesses of her memory and comes out with a story with a lesson I have a love–hate relationship with rain. I love that the rains provide the perfect excuse to stay in and eat unlimited numbers of onion bajjis (batter-fried onion rings). I hate everything else about it – the thunder, the lightning, the cold wetness and the sticky humidity that it leaves behind. I find that most of this misplaced affection for rains comes from childhood memories and nostalgia. I also find that as we grow older, our memories are usually far rosier than what actually transpired. My favourite childhood memory of the rains is, of course, getting a day off from school. When I tell people this, I’m asked if I’ve ever let paper boats out in puddles when I was a child. I have, and I thought it was fun too, because it didn’t involve getting soaked in the rain and it didn't require the friends that I didn’t have. I had let out boats a few times until my mother placed a ban on doing so. She had got news that the neighbouring kids’ cousins’ friends’ cousins got cholera from spending too much time jumping around in the puddles. I am sure that most of these ‘have you ever let out boats’ types were reprimanded similarly – I mean, we grew up in Chennai! If the rain water puddles couldn’t cause cholera, they probably could cause leptospirosis. I’m also accused of not having any sense of adventure, which is ridiculous. I’m adventurous. This one time, I went to a party and spoke to people I didn't know. And, guess what? I’ve had an adventure in the rain.

About six years ago, a rain loving colleague insisted that we have ice cream while it poured outside. We’d have to walk a short distance in the rain, something I’d have never agreed to, had she not tapped my Achilles’ tongue . I resisted at first. I told her that I was prone to catching colds and that my mother advised me to avoid the rains (which was true). My colleague began a passionate lecture about how ‘we have only one life’, and then she beseeched me to ‘not let go of the moment’. I ultimately caved in when she mentioned that the shop had Cookies N’ Cream flavoured ice cream. And so we scampered through the rain and had ice cream as the winds blew whorls of water drops on us. We squealed as bikes sped past us, their wheels haphazardly splashing muddy water. We were young! We were having an adventure! When I came home, my displeased mother insisted that I use a hair dryer so that I wouldn't increase the already high risk of catching a cold. But I didn't, because mitigating risks would mean polluting my adventure. I woke up with an awful headache, a stuffed nose, mild temperature (the kind that doesn't require a doctor’s visit, but is still capable of ruining your day entirely) and a mother who wouldn't stop telling me that she told me so. As I stayed in bed, thinking about the events of the previous day, I realised that I had learnt an important lesson. Whenever you feel the need to be young, to seize the moment and to dismiss the fear of consequence, I highly recommend that you just stay put and listen to your mother instead!


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For details, call 90032 57192 For more properties, call Global Adjustments at +91-44-24617902/+91-9500 111 777, or e-mail realty@globaladjustments.com Please note that any changes to the information above are done at the property owner’s sole discretion. Global Adjustments assumes no responsibility for such changes.


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Culturama june 2017  

In this edition of Culturama we pay tribute to India’s famous monsoon season. We’ll tell you how to stay fresh and stylish, and of course, e...

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