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POWERED BY GLOBAL ADJUSTMENTS

March 2017 Volume 8, Issue 1

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Dear Readers, This month is one for showing gratitude. It was on March 4, 1995, 22 years ago, that we started Global Adjustments; a two-woman company to help answer all the questions, under one umbrella, for FDI success in India. The friendship of the business families we relocated over these years has been a gift, as we met thousands of clients from 80 nationalities across Indian metros and helped them love their life in India a little more. Culturama has been a magical monthly tool to spread this friendship tangibly that has helped us link, learn and leave a legacy as global citizens. We decided to mark this 22-year celebration with an intercultural linking of a different kind. An internal cultural exchange within India, with a women's empowerment angle seemed the obvious thing to do. For when you empower a girl you empower a family. As a tribute to the diversity of India, our Global Adjustments Foundation is running a week-long life skills immersion workshop called 'Aspiration to Achievement', pairing young college graduate women from Nagaland and Tamil Nadu who will learn the art of leadership, confidence in communication, entrepreneurship and much more from our faculty and industry leaders. They will then co-mentor each other for the rest of the year. Read about how we went on an expedition to the North East to build community and commerce via culture on

Editor-in-Chief Ranjini Manian Senior Editor Lakshmi Krupa Business Head Archana Iyengar Creative Head Prem Kumar VP Finance V Ramkumar Circulation S Raghu Advertising Chennai Archana Iyengar Bengaluru Meera Roy Delhi/NCR Ruchika Srivastava Mumbai/Pune Arjun Bhat To subscribe to this magazine, e-mail info@globaladjustments.com or access it online at www.culturama.in 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

page 50. We are also proud to annouce our amazing line up of women artistes for India @ 70, our Aikya 2017 concert. Read the cover story on Page 12. Hope you enjoy this issue of Culturama with unique interviews of women stalwarts. Thank you for your belief in us over two decades. Ranjini Manian, Editor-in-Chief globalindian@globaladjustments.com

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

Letters to the editor Dear Editor,

We gratefully acknowledge ace photographer Sundar Ramu’s amazing photographs of the artistes on the cover and in the story on page 12, as well as our Editor-in-Chief's on page 3.

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

I have been following your magazine for a while now and your coverage is worthy of mention. The quality of articles speaks volumes about your commitment to the rich and vast cultural heritage of our country. In the last edition of Culturama Of Royal Romances by Yamini Vasudevan captured the Indian spirit of love and romance while Thalis-man of Taste by Devanshi Mody was a fantastic article on the splendours of South Indian Cuisine. Mannarkoil J Balaji, Mridangam Artiste Dear Editor,

Each month I look forward to the Myth & Mythology column by Devdutt Pattanaik. He has such a unique take on India and its culture. S.M. Srividya, Bengaluru Dear Editor,

When I came to India, I was expecting similarities but Culturama's articles have been showing me the tremendous diversity of India. I like the Names to Know series. It has led to some interesting conversations with new Indian friends. Thank you team Culturama. Liz Haley, New Delhi.

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 30 Feature

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Celebrating International Women’s Day with stories of empowering women from around the globe.

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India’s Culture 8

Seeing India

The Airavateshvara Temple is legendary, in more than one sense

Aikya

Read all about our upcoming concert with Aruna Sairam, Bombay Jayashri and Sudha Raghunathan.

Short Message Service

Short, engaging snippets of Indian culture.

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Festival of the Month

This month find out how India celebrates Navroz and Holi.

Journeys Into India 62

Holistic Living

‘Give up what is before, what is behind, and cross the stream. Then will your mind be free’, says the Buddha.

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Picture Story

Celebrate spring with the flowers of India.

Regulars

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Look Who’s In Town

Expats share their views about life in India.

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Calendar of Events

See what’s going on in the main cities and suburbs.

Relocations and Property 60

In Focus

Architect Akhila Ravikumar on her design of colourful interiors inspired by Morocco.

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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

Art/textile/craft Indian Bobble-head Dolls Bobble-head dolls called Thalaiyatti Bommai (thalaiyatti means ‘shaking head’ and bommai means ‘doll’) have been made in the southern city of Thanjavur since the early 19th century. Here, craftsmen specialise in dancing dolls that gently oscillate and swing, presenting an elegant dancelike continuous movement. They are made of papier mâché or terracotta and formed in several parts: head, upper body, lower body and feet, with the weight of the doll concentrated at the base. Each part inserts into the next and is carefully balanced on metal rings set within the section. The dolls come in different styles, shapes and sizes. Some are Hindu goddesses, and others are decorated as Kathakali, Bharatanatyam or Manipuri dancers.

Words NaMo

Food and drink Paan

It is quite common for Indians to use initials in front of their name, such as V Parvathi. Here, the given name is Parvathi and the V represents the father’s name, Venkatesan. Individuals can also be known just by their initials, such as ARR for Oscar award-winning composer, AR Rahman. Unusually, the name of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is abbreviated by blending the first two letters of his first and last name to create the snappy-sounding NaMo. It is a moniker that has become popular, an effective shortcut for party workers, journalists and social media, who append it to anything Modi is associated with. A shop called – what else? – NaMo sells these at Indian airports.

Paan is a highly flavoured preparation that is chewed for its stimulant effect, often at the end of a meal as a mouth freshener and aid to digestion. It combines shavings of areca nut with sweeteners such as desiccated coconut and sugar and spices including cardamom, camphor, fennel and anise seeds, all neatly wrapped in a betel leaf. Chewing tobacco can be part of the mix. Made by paan-wallahs and sold from street stalls across India, paan is chewed by men and women alike; it is a cultural tradition that dates back thousands of years. The best paan is said to be prepared in Varanasi, where locals enthuse about the filling of gulkand (a sweet preserve made from rose petals), grated coconut and dried date.


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Name to Know Shabana Azmi Shabana Azmi is India’s leading actress of New Wave and Parallel Cinema. She has starred in films made by the country’s most famous arthouse directors and is known for her realistic, bold and experimental roles. Azmi was born in 1950 in Hyderabad into an intellectual Muslim family. Her father was an Urdu poet and her mother a stage actress. She attended the Film and Television Institute of India in Pune and made her debut in Ankur (1974), which examined hypocrisy, economic disparity and the social status of women. The film was a major critical success and her role as Lakshmi won her the first of six National Film Awards. Azmi has now appeared in over 120 mainstream and alternative Hindi and Bengali films, usually playing strong female characters such as the wounded and humiliated wife of an unfaithful husband in Arth (1982). She explored issues of poverty and exploitation in Paar (1984) and loneliness in Kandahar (1984). Unafraid of controversy, in Fire (1996) she depicted a woman in a lesbian relationship, and in Godmother (1999) Azmi recreated the real-life story of a woman who ran mafia operations in Gujarat and later became a politician. In contrast, she plays an emotionally fragile Carnatic singer in Morning Raga (2004) and explores schizophrenia in 15 Park Avenue (2005). Azmi is a committed social activist, known for her fierce advocacy of women’s rights. She has represented the Congress Party in the Upper House of the Indian Parliament. For 2017, Azmi has three film projects on the go: American film Signature Move, an English-language film Sonata and a film inspired by Prem Chand’s short story Eid Gaah.

Interpretations Garland Decorative garlands, lavishly strung with jasmine, tuberose, magnolia and marigold flowers and betel leaves, are sold across India. The act of garlanding is deeply rooted in Indian culture.Temple deities are adorned with garlands as part of an act of puja, and statues of respected political and cultural icons are garlanded in honour of their memory. Back in the day, a girl of marriageable age would follow a practice called swayamvar, where she would indicate her choice of bridegroom from a list of suitors by placing a flower garland around his neck. Nowadays, a bride and groom will exchange garlands during their wedding ceremony to show they will uphold one another as gods in their hearts, and are bestowing their spiritual energy on each other. It is also customary to place a garland on the coffin or feet of the deceased as a mark of respect for the final journey of their soul. Flower garlands are always presented to visiting foreign dignitaries and guests of honour at public and private events. Accepting a garland is usually done with palms folded and head bowed in humility.


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An unstoppable

trio

Aikya 2017, for the first time ever, brings together three of Carnatic music’s biggest names – Aruna Sairam, Bombay Jayashri and Sudha Ragunathan in a concert, curated and conceptualised by mridangam maestro k Arun Prakash Since its inception in 2010, Aikya has become an integral part of Chennai’s cultural landscape.

This year, as India celebrates 70 years of

Through this event, other leading artistes such

independence, our annual fundraiser concert

as T.M. Krishna, Sanjeev Abhyankar, Abhishek

brings together three showstoppers for the first

Raghuram, Sikkil Gurucharan, singer-sisters Ranjini

time ever in a concert titled India@70. This is

and Gayatri and violin maestro-duo Ganesh and

a never-seen-before concert of Aruna Sairam,

Kumaresh have enthralled their audiences with a

Bombay Jayashri and Sudha Ragunathan, exuding

newer format of their soul-stirring music.

the power of women who have climbed the heights

Global Adjustments is proud to bring

of fame through sheer grit and talent. They come

this concert of many firsts to the discerning

together in a show of unity.

Chennai audience.

Jewellery credit: VBJ; makeup credit: Vurve; all photos: Sunder Ramu. The Aikya logo, standing for oneness, was created by noted artist PadmaShri Thota Tharani.


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A

legend in her own right, who has won audiences of all ages over with her unique blend of tradition and experimentation, Aruna Sairam was born in Mumbai in a family with a deep love for music. Her mother, Rajalakshmi Sethuraman was her first teacher. Later she learned from the legendary Sangeeta Kalanidhi T. Brinda among other stalwarts. Aruna has been a torchbearer in attracting very large audiences to her concerts. Steeped in bhava (expression), her music evokes bhakti (devotion) in the listener’s soul. She has dazzled audiences at prestigious musical venues in India and around the world through her scintillating performances and refreshing approach. She was awarded the Padma Shri by the government of India, the US Congress Proclamation of Excellence – 2008, the Kalaimamani award by the Government of Tamil Nadu and several more accolades. She is currently Vice Chairperson, Sangeet Natak Akademi, Delhi.

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ombay Jayashri is an award winning vocalist, composer and teacher of music. Under her gurus, T R Balamani and Lalgudi Jayaraman, she trained in Carnatic music and imbibed the nuances of melody. Jayashri also trained in Hindustani music under Sri Mahavir Jaipurvale and Sri Ajay Pohankar. She has performed at festivals and concerts in more than 35 countries. Her compositions amalgamate classical Carnatic music with our rich legacy in literature and other art forms. She believes in experimenting and collaborating between different genres and various forms, diving into both World Music, and the music of film soundtracks of India. Her experiences with the power of music have motivated her to run Hitham, a foundation which works to share music with autistic children; exploring the therapeutic value of music in the lives of special children. Through Hitham, she facilitates and conducts music classes for children in rural areas of Tamil Nadu. Today, Jayashri composes, performs, writes and teaches music, expanding a modern understanding of our common heritage of music.


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udha Ragunathan’s voice enthralls listeners from around the world. Among the first in her generation to receive many prestigious awards including the Padma Bhushan and the Sangita Kalanidhi, her mastery over vocal techniques and complicated styles makes her one of the most sought-after artistes. Sudha’s foray into the world of music began with her mother, Choodamani, who initially trained her, and later she was under the tutelage of B V Lakshman. She was the recepient of a prestigious scholarship from the central government, and went on to learn from Padmabhushan Sangita Kalanidhi Dr. M L Vasanthakumari, a doyenne of Carnatic music. Sudha performed at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on October 2, 2016 paying a musical homage to M S Subbulakshmi on her birth centenary. The concert commemorated the legendary Carnatic singer’s UN Day concert at the same venue fifty years ago.

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on of the famous music composer L Krishnan, K Arun Prakash is among the top mridangists of the country. His apt and sensitive accompaniment has won him fans worldwide. He is also a singer and composer. He has composed music for many projects, including recently for Kalakshetra's dance opera 'Maha Saraswathi' along with vidwan R K Shriramkumar. Arun learnt the art of mridangam from Ramanathapuram Shri M N Kandasamy Pillai. On curating and designing Aikya 2017, he says, ‘This has been a big responsibility and among the most challenging things I have done... Working with three big singers with three different musical approaches and making sure each one seamlessly flows into the other. I have also composed two pieces for the show and have worked on the arrangement and design, as well as picked the chorus voices that will accompany them. I am really happy and very honoured to be doing this.’


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Struggles and strength

Words of wisdom to young women For young artistes and women, Aruna’s advice is: ‘Believe in yourself. It is important. Women are constantly told they are not good enough. Whether it is as in their career or at home...They must say, well this is the best I can do.’ Jayashri shares , ‘My students are my friends and when I pass on what I have learnt, I also learn from them. I re-learn my own music too. Music is a way of communication and spreading joy to others.’ Sudha addresses young musicians with these words of wisdom: ‘Today, young women artistes are very confident and know what they want. They are passionate about the quality of their music and are keen on enriching their repertoire. There is a flipside to this. The haste to be a performer. My advice to them is to be a little patient. Where there’s quality, discipline and dedication, they will certainly get noticed. Because once they get into the circuit of performing and travelling, they will have less time to practice and learn new kritis.’

On the hurdles that Sudha has crossed to arrive at this point of immense success, she says, ‘I got married into a very traditional and large family with clear dos and donts. But since I am an extrovert by nature I was able to adapt seamlessly. When my guru MLV amma passed away and I became a representative of that parampara (legacy) I was expected to be her perfect shadow and present her repertoire. It was a challenge indeed! When you are a young singer, audiences are kind and appreciative of whatever you do. But as you progress expectations of the audience keep mounting. One cannot just get away with a ‘minimum guarantee’ performance. Each performance has to better the other. If I were to use an analogy it is like the horizon that keeps shifting further away as you approach it. But I love that challenge.’ Aruna says, ‘One of the biggest challenges I faced as an artiste had to do with upholding my guru’s values while finding my own expression in music. Ultimately the audiences are the best judge. They know and respond to good music. My advice to youngsters today is to stay focussed and just wait. Do not give up.’ Jayashri says, ‘I am doing something that I love and have never felt anything that comes my way as a struggle. There have definitely been challenges however. They have been sorted out thankfully. I feel privileged, first as a student of music and now as someone who represents a form of music and culture that is looked up to, by people all over the world.’


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On Aikya 2017

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Sudha, who is performing for the third time at Aikya, adds, ‘The concept is very new and I always love working with my colleagues. I learn a lot in the process. Aikya is such a unique concept and Global Adjustments almost has a patent on this uniqueness I think. This time, too, Aikya is very exclusive and I am sure the concept will appeal to a lot of people. The thread of unity that is vital to India is also represented by the fact that the three of us are performing together. Aikya stands for a grand cause that I believe in.’

Aruna says, ‘This experience of performing with two other illustrious musicians is so exhilarating. I love working with Global Adjustments and I performed at the first Aikya too. Working with composer Arun Prakash is a great pleasure. Celebrating Women’s Day and India in this manner seems so wonderful to me. The funds raised at Aikya will go towards retired accompanying artistes, and I am very honoured to be a part of this cause.’

Jayashri adds, ‘Performing at Aikya with Arunaji and Sudhaji is a beautiful experience for me . I have great respect for them and I am looking forward to the concert. It is a privilege to work with Arun Prakashji who is conceptualising and designing the concert. Supporting the education of girls from underprivileged economic backgrounds is the need of the hour for our nation and I am happy to be part of Aikya for the third time now.’

March 25th is a Saturday to mark in your diary. This is a historic 75-minute show that will transcend language and style — a not-to-miss India experience at the prestigious Music Academy in Chennai. Do save the date and be with us to celebrate India@70. With your presence, you will support culture and advancement of young women. We look forward to seeing you there.

Aikya 2017 will be held on March 25 at Music Academy at 7.30 p.m.

Visit www.aikyaindia.com for more details.


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Photo: Michael STROBAND, Germany

Picture Story by Team Culturama

Flower Power

As spring brings with it a renewed sense of vigour to the rest of the world, in India life takes on a colourful twist. Holi is played with colourful powders and flowers too in their myriad shades are harbingers of this beautiful time when winter recedes. Since ancient times, flowers have been in use for various occasions in India. As offerings to gods, as garlands, as ornaments on women’s hair, as part of prayers to rivers and river deities, and to usher in good luck... Even new vehicles are adorned in flowers. Such is their significance. So this spring bring home the colours with many different flowers – marigolds in bright orange, jasmine in pristine white, roses of many hues , deep purple jacarandas and more...


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Lighting the lamp of life. Photo: Pierre BENICHOU, France

Ganesha, all done up. Photo: Marlene WEIGREFFE, Germany

Floral offerings. Photo: Anne DATHILDE, France

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Indian Connection by Ranjini Manian

Marshalling Change Excerpts from an exclusive interview with John Gray, author of the hugely successful, ‘Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus’, and ‘Work with Me: The 8 Blind Spots between Men and Women in Business’, co-authored with Barbara Annis In this conversation with Culturama, John Gray, best-selling author, gender coach and relationships manager in the truest sense of the word opens up with a whole new world of perspective, starting with his deep India connect. “My trips to India have largely been spiritual trips, visiting various spiritual spots for the past 40 years. I was Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s personal assistant for nine years in my twenties. In

fact, I arrived at his ashram right when the Beatles left and expected to meet them there, but ended up staying because I liked it so much. In fact, in the 1970s, people actually tried to study my brain because I could meditate for long hours and used to go into Samadhi (a state of intense concentration achieved through meditation) for even 15 hours a day,” he says in his characteristic calm and collected manner. Do you think it is easier to teach Indians gender intelligence with spirituality in our cultural DNA? I have found that Indians are very receptive to the ideas of gender intelligence, particularly because there is an openness to recognising that men and women have inherent differences. It’s one of the few cultures in the world where spirituality of a culture embraces the masculine and feminine aspects of the divine. These are really important factors to awaken people’s awareness that the feminine does have a contribution and a value. Now having said that I don’t recognise that same attitude in the workplace. Women are still not being valued and appreciated as they should be. However, there is this amazing openness to recognising those


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values and strengths that women bring when it’s pointed out. It just needs to be pointed out. Why do some men label women as less intelligent at work sometimes? Men are busy on the left side of the brain, and so they are busy jumping in there, say, at a board meeting, with their ideas on how they think they can achieve their goal most efficiently, most effectively and most quickly. Meanwhile, it’s not to say women can’t do that, they can do the same with that part of the brain, but they just tend to also use the other part of the brain at the same time. So while women at the board meeting are listening more intently, men are talking more intently. Now, sometimes the men lacking in gender intelligence are thinking those women who are not talking much have nothing to say when they have a lot to say, and so that’s an example of wrong labelling. Those women sitting at the table are thinking those men don’t care about what they have to say, that they don’t value what they have to say and are intentionally ignoring them, and that’s not true either. This time, her lack of gender intelligence causes her to feel excluded, unappreciated, unsupported in the workplace and this will raise her stress levels. This is the big issue that gender intelligence provides for women in the work place. Do you think that gender intelligence should be a compulsory subject in college education or in multinational corporations’ induction programmes? Yes, I particularly think it should be available in universities and in every single company where men and women work side by side. I think the Western gender intelligence can help in India because women have fought a big battle over here and have learnt many things, and that insight can be quickly transferred for the women in India to find out how to avoid the mistakes of the women in the first waves and learn from the women in the second waves. This is why I have greatly appreciated Barbara Annis’s participation in this book that we’ve written together because having the male and female voices combined really addresses more issues than I’ve addressed in my books alone. Can you give me one or two practical things that women and men do in the workplace differently? Well, this one study shows that when a woman is dissatisfied with her experience in working with a company or when a woman is very satisfied with her experience she will go out and tell 32 people. Basically, if she thinks it was a great experience, she will advertise it far and wide. A man will not tell more than three people whether he had a negative or positive experience. So a satisfied woman can be a good ambassador of your corporation. A strength that women bring into the workplace is to always point out what’s wrong and men by nature will be most focussed on what is the most efficient way to get something done. So what’s your advice to the man then who is usually thinking women are slowing him down? Just taking time to discuss and provide examples of situations works well.

What are the 8 Blind Spots between Men and Women? 1. Conflicting communication styles 2. Different modes of appreciation 3. Women feel excluded by oblivious men 4. Men feel like they walk on eggshells with women 5. Men don’t know what to do when women ask lots of questions 6. Men need to learn to listen to women and women need to understand that men’s ability to pay attention is limited 7. Women and men have different ways of expressing emotion 8. Men and women are insensitive to each other


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Look Who’s In Town Bengaluru

India’s green Silicon Valley We lived in Malaysia for two years and enjoyed spending time in Kuala Lumpur’s ‘Little India’. We were really excited about the prospect of living in India and spent a week in Bengaluru before moving here. We read lots of guide books and had some assistance from a local relocation company. Then & now As India’s ‘Silicon Valley’ we expected Bengaluru to be more built up with less parks and green spaces. The parks and tree-lined streets were a lovely surprise. India on a platter

Chris Bevan, with wife Natalie Kersey and daughter Rose Bevan, from Australia, on living in Bengaluru and more…

Indian restaurants in Australia are very popular; however, the Indian cuisine there is very different from the cuisine here. We had never tried dosa before coming to Bengaluru and we are now big fans of the Indian thali. Indian sweets are delicious, too. Festivals galore There always seems to be a festival or day of celebration in India. We were in Goa for Diwali and the atmosphere was fantastic.

Rose took part in the Navaratri festival at preschool and learnt a dandiya raas dance. Sightseeing We flew to Delhi and caught the train from Delhi to Agra, which was a real highlight for us. We have also visited Mumbai, Kerala and Rajasthan. What I would like to change in India Littering and waste management need more attention. India has so many beautiful landscapes but it is hard not to notice the amount of litter. I am taking back… The wide variety of vegetarian food options in India and the experience of thali. Rose is taken with the local fashion! Capturing India We have always enjoyed taking photos of our travels and videos that document them. They will be great to look back on one day and remember our adventures in India.


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Feature by Team Culturama

This Women’s Day we pay tribute to amazing women who have inspired the world with not just their words but also deeds


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The TV Queen Oprah Winfrey

‘‘

Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment. Own it.

Oprah Winfrey needs no introduction to anyone who watches television. She is a famous talk show host, actress, producer and philanthropist. She is known the world over for her talk show ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’. She has been ranked the richest African-American as well as the greatest black philanthropist in American history, and is currently North America’s first and only multi-billionaire black person. She has been named the most influential woman in the world by several organisations and polls. In 2013, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by the then President Barack Obama.

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With divine blessings Mata Amritanandamayi

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Let us focus on what we can give to others and not what we can take for ourselves. This will bring great transformation in our lives.

Mata Amritanandamayi is an Indian guru from the state of Kerala. Born into a family of fishermen in 1953 she was given the name Sudhamani (ambrosial jewel). Although Sudhamani was the brightest girl in her class, she had to leave school and take care of her family. It was a gruelling task, with seven brothers and sisters to feed and clothe, and animals to tend. Amritanandamayi began to spontaneously embrace people to comfort them in their sorrow. Despite the reaction of her parents, Amritanandamayi continued. Even today, she blesses those who seek her out with an embrace. In 1981, the Mata Amritanandamayi Math (MAM), a worldwide foundation, was founded. She serves as chairperson of the Math. MAM is engaged in many spiritual and charitable activities.

‘‘

Her loyalties to the passengers of the aircraft in distress will forever be a lasting tribute to the finest qualities of the human spirit – The Ashok Chakra citation.

Braveheart Neerja Bhanot

Neerja Bhanot, from Mumbai, India, was a crew member of the airline Pan American World Airways. She was responsible for saving the lives of hundreds of passengers on board Pan Am Flight 73, which was hijacked by terrorists on September 5, 1986. She died tragically, while she was saving passengers, shot by terrorists. She saved 359 of the 379 passengers and was shot while helping passengers escape from the emergency exits. She was posthumously awarded India’s highest peacetime award for bravery, the Ashok Chakra, and became the youngest person to receive the award. She was also awarded the Tagme-e-Insaniyat award by Pakistan, the flight Safety Foundation Award and the Medal of Heroism of the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution (United States). Her life and heroism was the inspiration for the biopic titled Neerja released in 2016.


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We have been in this revolution for decades. First it was just getting entry into this boy’s club... We clawed our way into this revolution at workplace, then we needed parity at pay. Not yet there, we are still fighting for that. We have to have equal treatment. We need to be treated as equals. I hate to be called ‘honey’ and ‘sweetie’ and ‘babe’. That has to change.

The Boss Indra Nooyi

Indra Nooyi is the current Chairperson and CEO of PepsiCo, which is the second largest food and beverage business in the world. In 2014, she was ranked number 13 on the list of Forbes World’s 100 most powerful women and made it to the Forbes 100 list in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. She was ranked the 82nd most powerful woman on the Fortune list in 2016. She serves on the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum and has served as Chairperson of the US-India Business Council. She is a part of American President Trump’s Business Council, a business forum created by Donald Trump.

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Bring your whole self to work. I don’t believe we have a professional self Monday through Friday and a real self the rest of the time. It is all professional and it is all personal.

Learn to lean in Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg is an American technology executive, activist and author. She is the CEO of Facebook and founder of Leanin.org (also known as the Lean In Foundation). In June 2012, she became the first woman to serve on Facebook’s board. Sandberg released her first book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, co-authored by Nell Scovell which became not only successful but also a movement of sorts encouraging women to climb up the ladder and break the glass ceiling at the work place.


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The GOAT! Serena Williams

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‘‘

The success of every woman should be the inspiration to another. We should raise each other up. Make sure you’re very courageous: be strong, be extremely kind, and above all be humble.”

Serena Williams' accomplishments in tennis are so commendable that commentators, players and sports writers often refer to her as the GOAT (greatest of all time). The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has ranked her world No. 1 in singles on seven occasions. She became the world No. 1 for the first time on July 8, 2002, and achieved this ranking for the seventh time on January 30, 2017. In 2017, she won the Australian Open Championship and brought her tally of Grand Slam wins to a whopping 23.

‘‘

“Every Indian in distress is a member of my family.”

Tweetocracy Sushma Swaraj

Sushma Swaraj is the current Minister of External Affairs of India and a former Supreme Court lawyer. She is a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party and is the second woman to be India’s Minister of External Affairs, after Indira Gandhi. She has been elected as a Member of Parliament seven times and thrice as a Member of the Legislative Assembly. At the age of 25 in 1977, she became the youngest cabinet minister of the Indian state of Haryana. She is the world’s most followed woman on Twitter, where through her active participation she helps Indians stranded abroad in distress and danger. Her brand of Twitter diplomacy has earned her a lot of fans both at home and abroad.


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Seeing India by Devanshi Mody

The delicate damsel of

Chola temples

The Airavateshvara Temple is legendary, in more than one sense The great living Chola temples are extraordinary in many ways. They are quite possibly the most beautiful temples on God's earth. Furthermore, the triumvirate is distinguished by the curious fact that the temples are synonymous with the towns they are in, by which they are more often referred to than by their actual names. Who refers to the Brihadeesvara Temple? One speaks of the Tanjavur Temple or the Gangaikondacholapuram Temple. And who indeed refers to the Airavatesvara Temple? Few. Not many know this temple, or at least of it by its name. It is more often called the Darasuram Temple, if spoken of at all. Demure and damsel-like, it cowers in the shadows of the greater Chola temples, as it were, those towering incarnations in stone of chivalry, conquest and grandeur.

Photos: Samir Mody


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Exquisitely pretty but inexplicably neglected, Darasuram seemingly sulks like a damsel in distress. Wouldn't you, had you the charms to enchant stone but few admirers? The first time we visit Swamimalai in 2011, we are taken across to see the Tanjavur Temple 45 minutes away. This is the point of the trip. Over the remaining three days we enquire of the cab driver, the hotel and locals for other significant historic temples in the vicinity and are directed to the navagraha temples, although we keep emphasising that we’re not on a pilgrimage and seek temples outstanding for their historic or architectural fascination rather than any religious importance. We aren’t looking for ‘very powerful temples’ but temples that might have once been powerful not because of the presiding deity’s divine potency but because they reflect the glory of their royal patrons. Yet nobody mentions Darasuram, the third of the great living chola temples and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, just outside Swamimalai. It is only when we are leaving Swamimalai and driving past what appears to be a compact but crafted temple complex that I command the chauffeur to halt. Typically, the chauffeur, in haste to return to Chennai, dismisses the temple, ‘Not very important.’ But it seems utterly gorgeous, I persevere. ‘Nothing inside. Very small. Nobody goes,’ the chauffeur is equally pertinacious. But you don’t have such finely manicured lawns outside a temple of no consequence, I remark. In exasperation the chauffeur finally reveals this is Darasuram, a Chola temple, but is emphatic about the


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temple's exiguity and concomitant insignificance. ‘You have seen the Big Temple in Tanjavur. Don’t waste time on small temples.’ I will hear the same line from another chauffeur when I want visit Gangaikondacholapuram subsequently. Except, unlike Gangaikondacholisvaram, there aren’t even a scatter of picnickers at Darasuram. The chauffeur is right about at least one thing: nobody goes! Protesting chauffeur notwithstanding, I bolt out of the car followed by my brother Samir. There's a sweeper in sight. Otherwise, pristine solitude. And perhaps the prettiest temple you will ever see. So pretty it petrifies. And, it is all yours because, indeed, nobody goes! Because Raja Raja Chola II can never be as famous as Raja Raja Chola I so his temple at Darasuram can’t claim fame like his predecessor's Tanjavur temple. Or even Rajendra Chola’s Gangaikondacholisvaram. The great ‘competition’ was between the Raja Raja and his son Rajendra and their temples. Darasuram isn’t even in the running. It nevertheless is insuperable for its sculpted intricacies. Unsurprisingly, Dr. Carl Sagan recalls his Darasuram visit in his magnum opus Cosmos — A Personal Voyage.

March 2017

The great ‘competition’ was between THE Raja Raja and his son Rajendra and their temples. Darasuram isn't even in the running

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The Airavateshvara Temple is legendary, in more than one sense, for legend has it that Airavata, the white elephant of the king of the gods Indra, cursed by Sage Durvasa to suffer colour change, had its blazing whiteness restored by bathing in the temple’s sacred waters. A shrine with Indra astride Airavata commemorates the legend. This 12-cent temple, however, like the other great living Chola temples of the 10th and 11th centuries, is a Shiva temple. Shiva is here known as Airavateshvara because Airavata worshipped him here. The temple and presiding deity derive their names from the elephant legend. White elephants are clearly not all worthless. Some can inspire grand artistic feats!

White elephants are clearly not all worthless. Some can inspire grand artistic feats!

Kneeling elephants whose trunks unfurl down a short flight of steps elevate you to the temple's mandapam that evokes a splendid chariot with enormous stone wheels drawn by horses raised loftily on their hind feet. This is surely the prototype of the famous chariot at Hampi's Vittala Temple? Darasuram mightn't have the stratospheric proportions of the other two Chola temples (its vimana is a mere 80 ft compared to the 180 ft or more that its predecessors boast). However, even Wikipedia acknowledges (in a shoddily authored piece albeit) that ‘Although this temple is much smaller than the Brihadeesvara Temple or the Gangaikondacholapuram Temple (incidentally, both temples, as aforementioned, have the same name Brihadeesvara Temple) it is more exquisite in detail.’ Darasuram is a treasure trove of art and architecture because unlike its predecessors it wasn’t conceived to flaunt the emperors’ power but to impart nitya-vinoda or ‘perpetual joy.’ Expect a mandapa whose pillars poised on hybrid elephant-lions are an ornate enthralment of delicate carving. Seek out the famed miniature dancing Ganesh that's no bigger than your fingertip but insanely fine in its composition. You could spend aeons scrutinising each bewitchingly chiselled pillar, time and chauffeur permitting! We’ll have to return two years later with the young, impassioned and impressively well-informed Front Office Manager of Mantra Vepathur who’ll be our personal guide to this temple and allocate it a half-day. The least that its beauty demands. The temple hasn’t soaring stacked tops like its predecessors but stands tall for the splendid sculptures that embellish the various shrines. The courtyard’s cluster of shrines includes one dedicated to Yama who supposedly also worshipped Shiva at Darasuram where, damned by a rishi to feel his skin ablaze, Yama was healed after bathing in the temple's tank. Thus the tank is called Yamateertham.


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The inner courtyard with its elegantly carved structures features an unusual balipita ('seat for sacrifice') adjoining the Ganesha shrine whose steps when struck make music out of seven basic notes. This also seems the inspiration for the musical pillars in Hampi’s Vittala Temple. Darasuram further distinguishes itself with sculptures of the 108 Devara Othuvars who sang in the temple during Raja Raja II’s time, attesting to the temple's rich musical affiliations and devotion to the arts. The Airavateshvara Temple isn’t feminine merely in its structure and architecture but celebrates the feminine form arraying as it does the wonderfully crafted Sapthamathas (seven celestial nymphs) presiding over large stone slabs. Flowing through the temple are personifications in stone of the river goddesses Cauvery, Ganges, Yamuna, Godavari and Narmada, accentuating the impression of fluidity and femininity (contrast the stiff masculinity at Thanjavur). Another remarkable aspect is that Lord Airavateshvara’s consort Periya Nayaki Amman stands aloof in a detached temple. This might have partaken of the main temple girdled within now extinct outer courts but today the goddess reigns alone over a single large court. The construction of a separate

Devi temple, post-dating the main temple, indicates the historically interesting emergence of the Amman shrine as an integral component of the South Indian temple complex. One hundred and eight bands of inscriptions honouring 63 Saivacharyas reflect the region’s Saivist fervour. Conquests too are inevitably glorified in royal temples, especially if they are Chola temples. Thus, an inscription observes Emperor Rajadhiraja Chola’s installation of an idol brought from Kalyani after his defeat of the Western Chalukyan King Someshwara I and sons and his acquisiton of the Chalukyan capital. The first time I visited both Thanjavur and Darasuram over a weekend I confess myself more enchanted by Darasuram. I have since visited Thanjavur again and again and never failed to prostrate before its might and majesty. But in 2011 I had declared the maidenly Darasuram my favourite Chola temple. I now feel each of the three temples is unique, whatever the similarities. I strenuously urge the aesthetically sensitive to discover Darasuram. But who will heed when top tour ops furnish you with drivers blaring, ‘Not important. Nobody goes!’


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Festivals of India this march, we celebrate the parsi new year and the festival of colours

Jamshed-e-Navroz

March 20

The Parsi community in India celebrates Jamshed-e-Navroz as the beginning of a new year on this day. People of the Zoroastrian faith visit the fire temple and offer prayers along with sandalwood sticks, among other things. The Navroz (nav means new and roz means day) celebratory foods include seven items whose names begin with the ‘sh’ sound, namely: sharab (wine), shakar (sugar), shir (milk), shirin berenjor (sweet meat), shahad (honey), shirin (sweet) and shira (syrup). It also has eight food items beginning with the ‘sa’ sound: sirka (vinegar), sumac (spice), sumanu (a pudding of wheat germ), sib (apple), sabzi (green vegetables), senjed (sorb tree berry) and seer (garlic). To do: Try and visit some iconic Irani cafes (there are still some popular ones in cities like Mumbai) or Parsi restaurants in your city and taste some traditional delicacies like Patra Ni Macchi and Ravo.

Holi

March 24 The festival of Holi is when all of India’s streets are filled with colour. The festival is held to celebrate the destruction of a demoness called Holika. This is symbolic of the victory of good over evil. To Do: Holi is a great time to bond with your friends and neighbours. Step outside in old clothes, use organic powders and play safe.


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Spotlight by Team Culturama

International Yoga Festival March 1 -7

The annual International Yoga Festival organised by the Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board, GMVN and Parmarth Niketan Ashram in Rishikesh is held for one whole week on the banks of the holy river Ganges. At the event, participants get to learn as well practice yoga from various gurus who are from yoga lineages, and those from International schools. The festival gives one the opportunity to participate in 60 hours of yoga classes. The various styles taught include Kundalini Yoga, Power Vinyasa Yoga, Iyengar Yoga and Kriya Yoga. Parmarth Niketan, among the largest ashrams in Rishikesh, is a great space to perform yoga. It is on the banks of the Ganges, in the lap of the Himalayas. The ashram has a clean, pure and sacred atmosphere as well as verdant gardens. It also has 1,000 rooms, and its facilities combine modern amenities with traditional, spiritual simplicity. Daily classes start from 4 a.m. In between sessions on yoga, the event also has lectures on inspiring topics.

To Do While in Rishikesh -

Go rafting on the beautiful Ganges! Or trekking in the Himalayas. Paddle India is an adventure group based out of Rishikesh that leads several such activities.

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Watch the aarti of the river at Triveni Ghat in Rishikesh.

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Walk on the beautiful Lakshman Jhula (hanging bridge).


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At Global Adjustments by Usha Ramakrishnan

Adding life to days GA Foundation visited Vishranthi, a free home for the aged in Palavakkam “When you add days to life you age; when you add life to days you grow,” says an adage. GA Foundation runs a free monthly forum Poornashakti exclusively for elders, with the objective of giving back to the retired wise contributors of our society to enable social and emotional support. This effort rose to a bigger level last month when these elders decided to visit a home for the aged to provide them a feeling of being loved and wanted. It was an evening of social and emotional support by elders for elders. We visited Vishranthi, a free home for the aged in Palavakkam, where close to 130 women and a few men reside. The home has been in existence for about four decades for the sake of elders who don’t have a family to take care of them or because their so-called ‘loved ones’ turned out to be otherwise. Seventy of the residents who are active and mobile joined us that evening at the prayer hall. We started with an invocation song. It was sung by our member, the-ever-

smiling Rajimma who is a living example of ‘happiness is inside out and not outside in’. The next hour was filled with energy, enthusiasm, laughter, music, dance and acting by both GA Foundation members and residents of Vishranthi. The talent they displayed will put young people to shame. The highlight was an erstwhile artiste who has worked in Kollywood, at the age of 85, dancing to an old Tamil number and the senior-most man dancing to a song starring Tamil superstar Rajinikanth. A member of our Foundation, Ramanathan said, ‘It was interesting and I learnt a lesson on how to be happy even without family or money. When we are given many comforts we brood over unwanted things and forget the Almighty. The two who danced today have become my role models. Experience is a comb, which comes to men when they are bald. I am lucky to be part of Poornashakti.’ Satisfying material needs of fellow human-beings is only second, next to the time and unconditional love that we can provide. GA Foundation achieved its purpose to enable elders to link, learn and leave a legacy.

If you are aged over 65 and wish to join this free monthly get-together for senior citizens in Chennai, please contact foundation@globaladjustments.com


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Octoli Tuccu( left), Head of Global Adjustments Academy and Ranjini Manian explored avenues of building commerce and community, via culture in an expedition to the northeast. The outcome is an immersive workshop of the first set of girls from Nagaland and Tamil Nadu who will co-mentor each other

Global Adjustments celebrates 22years of empowering

Global Citizens 1995 - 2017

Aspiration to Achievement (A2A) workshop is aimed at empowering young women of India. This exclusive week-long workshop to be conducted in March 2017 is designed for 25 young women of Nagaland, handpicked by us following an immersive trip to the northeast, along with 25 young women from Tamil Nadu and it aims to be both a women empowerment and a cultural-exchange program. Power-packed training sessions for career excellence Face-time with industry experts and celebrities On-going mentorship Role models from various industries to interact and answer questions raised by participants Discussion panels to inspire and maximise motivation

Please help us spread the word and join our crowd funding campaign milaap.org/fundraisers/empoweraspiringwomen

EDUCATE A GIRL, EDUCATE A FAMILY


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India in symbols by Susan Philip

Culturama is replacing its India Now column with a new series called India in Symbols which will attempt to unravel the rationale behind various traditions and aspects of everyday Indian life from the perspective of science, history, mythology, and thus bring to the reader an increased understanding of these practices…

In a nutshell Fire occupies a very important place in Hinduism and in the rituals of daily life in India. Meaning and deeper meaning The Sanskrit word for fire is agni. It is similar to the Latin ignis, the root of the English ‘ignite’. Agni is also the name of the God of Fire in the Hindu pantheon. According to Hindu mythology, Agni the Fire God was born of the Sky God (Dyaus Pita) and Earth Mother (Prithvi Matha), and has a twin, Indra. Agni is present in all three worlds. He is also present in every hearth, irrespective of caste or financial status. Hence his importance. It is also Agni which conveys man’s offerings and prayers to the Gods. Fire is energy, life-giving energy. In ayurveda, it is seen as digestive energy. When food is eaten, the digestive fire converts it into life-energy or prana. And finally, it is Agni which takes the


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spirit from the body of the deceased as it burns on the funeral pyre, and carries it on its final journey.

or thanksgiving for the person’s well-being, the heat of the fire will snuff out any airborne bacteria.

Sacrificial fires formed an important part of ancient Indian worship and prayer. Fire continues to be important in worship in temples and homes – for example, in the lighting of lamps and in the aarti ritual which involves, in its simplest form, a plate with a lighted lamp or piece of burning camphor which is passed in circles in front of a deity or a person as a gesture of veneration or blessing.

Saying it in verse

Agni was married to Svaha, a form of power without which fire cannot burn. Her name can be taken to mean ‘a gift to the deity’. She presides over burnt offerings. It is believed that the Gods refuse to accept offerings made through fire unless her name is taken. Therefore, during Hindu rituals involving fire, each time an offering of ghee or other material is made through the medium of fire, the word svaha is uttered. The stuff of legend Fire in some form is associated with all Hindu festivals. As a bonfire, it is associated with Holi, better known as the festival of colours. One of the reasons why Holi is celebrated is to commemorate the devotion of a young, prince, Prahlad, to Lord Vishnu. Prahlad’s father was King Hiranyakashipu, an asura or demon. He did penance and won a boon that he would not meet death during day or night, on earth or in the sky, at the hands of man or animal. Once he had the boon, he thought himself invincible, and ordered that his subjects should worship him instead of Lord Vishnu. Everyone obeyed, except for his own son Prahlad. The Prince continued to be an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu, despite his father’s pleas and threats. Enraged, Hiranyakashipu tried to have Prahlad killed, but he escaped death each time. Finally, he sought the help of his sister Holika, who possessed a shawl that protected her from fire. They hatched a plan that Holika would cover herself with the shawl, take Prahlad into a bonfire and sit with him there till he burnt to death. Prahlad simply chanted Lord Vishu’s name during the ordeal. A great wind blew the shawl off Holika and on to him. Holika burnt to cinders in the fire, while Prahlad came out unscathed. On the eve of Holi every year, bonfires are lit by devotees, and effigies of Holika are burnt. Scientific substance The attributes of fire as an object of worship include its quality as a purifier. An aarti is usually performed for a person who is entering a new phase of life, such as starting a new job, setting foot in a marital home, or embarking on or returning from a long journey. Apart from a symbol of prayer

The first verse of the Rig Veda, part of the Hindu Scriptures, is dedicated to the Lord of Fire – ‘Agni I venerate, the High-priest, Invoker, Minister of Sacrifice, Deva and Bestower of Wealth’. Fire implies heat and light, both essential to life. And light is important as a symbol of knowledge and wisdom. The mantra Asatoma sadgamaya, Tamasoma jyotirgamaya, Mrityoma Amritamgamaya is an invocation to the Gods praying for progress from falsehoods to truth, from darkness to light and from death to immortality. The Aikya factor Fire is worshiped in many religions. The Incas, the Zoroastrians and Greeks and Romans all had Fire Gods. The story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the Old Testament, where God saves the three friends who refused to bow to the Babylonian King’s dictate of worshipping him, is very similar to the story of Prahlad. Fire is also involved in the way several religions, including Hinduism and Christianity, see the end times. "Great Agni, though thine essence be but one, Thy forms are three; as fire thou blazest here, As lightning flashest in the atmosphere, In heaven thou flamest as the golden sun.” Dr. John Muir’s translation of a verse of the Vedic hymn to Agni Agni’s role in various rituals Symbolic and Scientific In the lamp’s flame – Dispelling the darkness of ignorance In the flame of the aarti – Destroying negative influences, either as a preventive or a remedy At the solemnisation of a sacrament (a wedding or sacred thread ceremony, for instance) – A witness In the flames of a homam or yagna – Conveying a plea to the gods In the flame that burns away the camphor on the puja plate – Destroying the ego In the flames that sanctify a house-warming ceremony – Killing harmful germs and bacteria In the flames of a funeral pyre – Conveying the soul to Yama, the God of Death.


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Learn from the Bhagavad Gita by Team Culturama

Chapter 9 Capturing the essence of the Bhagavad Gita in a single sentence, one chapter at a time; accompanied by an inspirational photograph from our Annual Photo Competition.

Value your blessings Photo: Maayan Gutgold, Israel

No: 69, Royapettah High Road, IOA Complex, Justice Pratap Singh

No:4, CP Ramaswamy Road, Mookambika Complex,

Buld, Shop 171-172, First Floor, Royapettah, Chennai-600014.

First Floor, Alwarpet, Chennai-600018.

Ph: 044-82111605 / 8939 177 621 www.htconline.in

Ph: 044-24997790


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March Calendar of events

Presenting the best of India’s events in different categories across Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai and nearby suburbs

Art & Exhibitions

Art NCR

Art pop-up Chennai

The Kiran Nadar Museum of Art announces a set of seven independent and yet interconnected exhibitions under the rubric of 'Stretched Terrains'. Stretched Terrains desires to rewind, excavate and reexamine a set of inquiries around modernity that came up in the past decades.

Makery is an art pop-up featuring prints of three artists – Shruthi Venkatesh, Srividya Sriram and Ruchi Shah. Spend a Sunday with at a beautiful co-working cafe, looking at art and talking to the artists.

Date: Until March 31 Time: 1030 hrs onwards Venue: Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, 145 DLF, South Court Mall, Saket District Centre, Saket

Date: Match 12 Venue: Backyard, 53/23 Salem House, 3rd Main Road, Gandhi Nagar

Workshop Bengaluru Little Hands, Big Feat is a fun activity for kids aged 6-plus to acquaint them with handbuilding techniques, instilling an interest in art, while offering a platform to hone their creative skills. This is an afterschool programme that gives participants the freedom to learn at their own pace in an environment that is fun, friendly and creative. Date: Until Match 25 Time: 1100 hrs onwards Venue: Clay Station Art Studios, 1-C, 2nd Floor, 1st D Main Road, 14th B Cross HSR Layout Sector 6


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Heritage Walk NCR

Walk Mumbai

A Bespoke Walk on the Begums of Shahjahanabad (Old Delhi), is dedicated to those phenomenal and less talked about Begums who consorted with powerful elite nobles and went on to rule the city. Their mansions were once larger than the city palaces of royal nobility but now they lie in a state of disrepair. Know all about them.

A Group Heritage Walk in Colonial Bombay will draw a colourful contrast between yesterday's Fortified Bombay and today's Aamchi Mumbai through its history and architecture.

Date: Until March 31 Time: 1600 hrs Venue: Chandni Chowk Metro station, Kaccha Bagh Area, Old Delhi

Date: Until March 31 Time: 0800 hrs Venue: Central Library, Town Hall, Shahid Bhagat Singh Road, Kala Ghoda, Fort, Near RBI

Events

Standup Comedy Chennai MadrasiDa is a show by Aravind S.A talking about men and women, or the lack of them in his life, from a middle class prospective. Running commentary. Crawling ambitions. Long distance delusions... Single? You are his new best friend. Date: March 4 Time: 2000 hrs Venue: Sir Mutha Venkata Subba Rao Concert Hall, Lady Andal Premises, Harrington Road, Chetpet


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Concert NCR

Dance Mumbai

Celebrate Holi with Patio, as they bring to you the Nizami Bandhu, legendary singers who are descendants of the court singers of Sufi saint Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya.

One of the most intricate repertoires of Gotipua, a traditional dance of Odisha, is the Bandha Nritya which involves acrobatic movements by young boys dressed as girls. This production, by Laxmipriya Gotipua Ntriya Kendra from Balipatna, is based on extensive research by Odissi exponent Aloka Kanungo.

Date: Match 4 Time: 1930 hrs Venue: Club Patio, Pool Lawns, Block E, South City - 1, Gurgaon

Baking Workshop Bengaluru At this short-term baking class learn a lot in a short period of time through a practical and hands-on approach. Learn to make mouthwatering bakes, lovely cakes, doughnuts, eye catching delicious chocolates or tasty homemade breads. Date: Until March 31 Time: 1030 hrs Venue: Skilled Training, 20, 7th Main, 4th Block, Jayanagar

Date: March 17 Time: 1900 hrs Venue: Experimental Theatre, Nariman Point, NCPA Marg


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Learn a yoga pose by Namita Jain

The cat-camel

Imitate a cat and then a camel. Can you dip the spine like a cat and then lift it up like the hump of a camel? 1. Kneel down with hands placed on the mat, like a cat on all fours. Place your hands directly below your shoulders. Now lift your tailbone up towards the ceiling and lift your head up to the ceiling, so that your back becomes a shallow ‘U’ shape.

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kerala break for high tea

milesworth holidays india • srilanka • maldives • and beyond

2. Now, raise the centre of your back up, like the hump of a camel and roll your head towards your chest. Make the movements as fluid as possible. Benefit: Releases spinal stress. visit: www.milesworth.com Milesworth Travels & Tours Pvt. Ltd., 39 R M Towers, 108 Chamiers Road, Chennai. Tel: +91-44-24320522 / 24359554 Fax: +91-44-24342668 E-mail: holidays@milesworth.com


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In Focus by Team Culturama

Bringing cheer with colours

in conversation with culturama Architect Akhila Ravikumar on her design of colourful interiors inspired by Morocco at Balavihar, a home for persons with mental disabilities

Colour works wonders. It brings freshness and positive vibes. For the 200 children of Balavihar, a home for persons with mental disabilities, the building makeover has brought great excitement and joy. “This work cannot be called an architectural marvel, but it was a challenging one,� says architect Akhila Ravikumar, who has been working on the project for over a year now. Spread out over 3.5 acres, Akhila’s contribution to this project included coming up with convenient and accessible design that could help and facilitate daily activities in the premises, create ample space and provide a well-organised structure for cooking, dining and living. And, all these well within a limited budget. The most attractive feature of the project, according to Akhila, is the Trompe d'oiel visual which makes it look as though there is a balcony with parrots, where there is none. Prominent and vibrant, it greets onlookers as soon as they come in.


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“The best way to make any space look new is by using appropriate colours. So I have used bright Moroccan colours like orange, blue, green as the borders in the rooms and kept the windows bright yellow,” says Akhila. As one walks through the entrance, there is an interesting epoxy technique used to give the impression of a Persian carpet. Walking through the campus one notices geometric patterned tiles, strategically placed like floor mats to create a simple yet interesting layout in an overall non-slip terracotta flooring. The toilets have been made all afresh, with a separate space for sick children. The dining space is spacious and beautifully done up. “The old building was a gloomy and unhygienic place. Some parts of it were almost as old as the institution itself. Small tweaks such as placing the tiles in a carpet design to give a sense of space, building small benches for sitting spaces in the rooms to watch television and remodelling the garden and play area have brought about a larger than expected difference,” says Akhila. Talking about the challenges of doing this space, Akhila adds, “We had to undertake this project, safely while surrounded by differently abled children. We had to work fast at renovation and construction while temporarily accommodating children in other spaces. Durability and economy were vital, but we were keen on beauty too. Many of their activities were taking place in the open sky and we had to pay attention to bring it all under one roof.”

For both Akhila and the children at Balavihar, this has been a rejuvenating affair. “I have taken up many projects in the four decades of my architectural experience but this one has touched my heart. I am glad I got an opportunity to do something that has brought joy to many,” says the architect.


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culturama

Holistic Living by Eknath Easwaran

Say no to brooding We must learn how to tear out all the pages in our mental notebook where memory has recorded in gruesome detail everything unpleasant that was said or done to us. Tear out all the old resentful episodes from the past and never bother dwelling on any of them again. Otherwise they are going to cause a lot of pain. Then go in with a fresh resolve to keep that kind of episode from causing further anguish. Spiritual psychology and secular psychology agree that if we are able to trace some of our personal resentments and personal conflicts, we shall often find their seeds buried in the distant past. Our early traumas at home and at school play a formative role in our later emotional life.

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But here is where the two psychologies diverge. Great spiritual psychologists like the Compassionate Buddha all give us the same specific method for dealing with resentments and conflicts. If by constantly pulling attention away to the present you can persuade your mind not to dwell on the past, there can be no resentment, no ill will of any kind. As the Buddha puts it so beautifully in the Dhammapada, “Give up what is before, what is behind, and cross the stream. Then will your mind be free.” To grasp this takes some thought and a certain amount of experience. But now, when people confide in me regarding their personal difficulties – some of which seem to go on and on – I have no hesitation in concluding that it is those whose attention is caught in the past who are most often subject


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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.

to unreasonable agitation. In such people, the most minute stimulus can bring into action a hostile response that has been building up over a long, long period. There is no sense in blaming them. Most of their mind is not here; it is back there. There are people, for example, who let their mind dwell on some little phrase a parent or teacher may have aimed at them in a moment of frustration. Eventually they will not be able to refrain from dwelling on it, for it gives them an odd kind of satisfaction. This little hostile seed, which would die a natural death if left to itself, they keep watering with their tears and fertilising with their attention until it grows into a giant poison oak bush. Even more tragic, instead of just dwelling on one particular outburst of anger or criticism, some of us develop a tendency to dwell on all our negative emotions. When we do this for a long period of time, we are in for a lot of trouble in our personal relations. Strong memories are time bombs. Whether the incidents took place five years ago or fifty, the emotional charge remains intact and the bomb is down there ticking. We have many of these time bombs ticking away in the depths of our consciousness, and some innocent little remark has only to brush that bomb by indirect association to make us flare up at people without rhyme or reason. It is not so much that the person who made the remark did anything intentional; it is just that we have these emotional charges there waiting to be set off. In that quiet statement about setting the mind free,

the Buddha is asking a very pertinent question. If you can only turn your attention away from the past – not only five or fifty years ago but even yesterday – and bring it into today, how will you be able to hold on to resentment? To be hostile you have to be caught up in the past; that is the stuff of which this phantom is made. Without the past, what cause could you possibly have for anger? Realising this, the great sages of all religions have been able to make an astounding statement: “We don’t even understand any more what resentment is.” This unburdening of memory is the greatest relief in life. To reach this blessed state, I would suggest first of all that whenever you find yourself getting resentful, remind yourself that it is not just one particular person who is responsible for your resentment, it is also the many years you have put into brooding on resentment. Even this realisation is of some help. Reprinted with permission from ‘A New Year’s Resolution’, an article 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 http://bmcmwebsite.s3.amazonaws.com/assets/ bm-journal/2015/2015Spring.pdf)


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Myth & Mythology by Devdutt Pattanaik

God as half woman Stories of Ardhanareshwara are relatively rare, here are some retellings


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Art: Devdutt Pattanaik

Shiva is half woman God or Ardharnareeshwar (ardha-nariishwar). This image is often assumed to represent gender equality. But the male and female halves of the image have less to do with the reality of gender and more to do with the representation of gender-neutral ideas. God, in Hindu mythology, represents human imagination that can be worshipped (independent Shiva, dependable Vishnu) or not worshipped (dependent Brahma), while Goddess represents nature. Human imagination needs nature but nature does not need human imagination. Hence God becomes half Goddess but the Goddess never becomes half God. These definitions of God and Goddess are unique to Hindu traditions, and are not found in other parts of the world. They are often confused with biblical notions of God, which is an external agency outside humanity and nature. Of course, despite all attempts to communicate metaphysical ideas through such imagery, people remain oblivious to them and prefer stories which can often be taken literally and very simplistically. But such stories allow for transmission over generations. Compared to the images, stories of Ardhanareeshwara are relatively rare. Below are a few retellings. According to Linga Puran, in the beginning, a lotus bloomed. In it sat Brahma. On becoming conscious, he realised he was alone. Lonely, frightened, he wondered how he could create another being to give him company. Suddenly a vision flashed before his eyes. He saw Shiva whose right half was male and left half was female. Inspired, Brahma divided himself into two. From the right half came all things male and from the left half came all things female. In the oral tradition of Nath Jogis it is said that sages who visited Mount Kailas were at first horrified to find Shiva in an intimate embrace with his consort disregarding their presence. Then they realised that for Shiva to stop and pull back would be like asking the right half of the body to separate from the left half. So they saluted Shiva and visualised him as the half-woman god.

Tamil temple lore tells us about Bhringi who wanted to circumambulate Shiva but not Parvati. Parvati would not allow that. She sat on Shiva’s lap making it impossible for the ascetic to pass between them. When Bhringi took the form of a bee to fly between their heads, she merged herself with Shiva so that she became his left half. Now Bhringi took the form of a worm and tried to bore his way between them. Parvati was not amused. She cursed Bhringi to lose every part of the body given to him by his mother. As a result, the ascetic was left with neither flesh nor blood (the soft parts of his body). Reduced to a skeleton he could not stand upright. Taking pity on him Shiva gave him a third leg so that he stood like a tripod, reminding all of the price man pays if he does not revere the feminine half of the divine. A folk tale from the hills of North India tells us that when Parvati saw Ganga on top of Shiva’s head, she was furious. How could he keep another woman on his head when his wife sat on his lap, she wondered. To pacify Parvati, Shiva merged his body with hers. He became half a woman.

Published in Devlok, Sunday Midday. Reprinted with permission from devdutt.com


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At Global Adjustments by Ranjini Manian

Come let’s make India PROUD The difference between a mediocre global citizen and a magnificent one is being PROUD I read with interest the news that IIM–B was declared the best B school in India, remembering the time I had spoken to a group of expat leaders there from the European Aeronautical Defense Systems. A young post grad student from the school invited me to join a visionary leadership summit, to speak on a panel to Relaunch India. I replied with a resounding ‘Yes’ – because the audience was young India. Not just any young India, they turned out to be Best of Breed Young India, doing

a two-year weekend course in management while working all week at top jobs to apply the learning. The CEO of Lockheed Martin India was to kick-start the session. Phil Shaw, an awe-inspiring Englishman with a navy background who is an expert expat in India, set the tone, establishing why this 100-year-old American aeronautical company found it wise to invest in Hyderabad, India. The Frenchman Patrick Fardeau, leading Dassault, explained how a centre of excellence in India was their goal in Bengaluru. And a motivational Aussie leader from General Motors, Brian McMurray, contributed witty practical pointers, showing how he leads GM from the back, allowing his teams to take credit.


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After a couple of Indian CXOs shared their wisdom, it was my turn to close the session. I gave a ‘Make India PROUD’ message. I wanted to share it with readers here because it resonated with all the leaders on my panel as the need of the hour. PROUD is a global new age strategy to augment growth in the well-thought-through Make in India campaign and the start-up India, stand up India initiative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It is a tool we can use to hone ourselves, as it is our people strength that is going to make a difference to whatever we make or startup in India. PROUD stands for the five areas we need to strengthen in our cultural behaviour and mindset to land us cushy jobs and success. They are the areas we need to pay attention to as we communicate with the world, with customers, with vendors or even with colleagues.

Proactively communicate the big picture We tend to only deal with things if needed. When it becomes an issue. If there is an escalation to handle. When will we learn to keep checking the temperature of our business interactions and alert ourselves and the other to what could go wrong? When will we have a plan B always ready alongside plan A? When will we answer not just the question being asked but other related ones as well, questions no one has yet thought of asking but will become issues? That will be the day we are truly proactive and it will make the difference between winning and mediocrity.

to somehow fix the problem? Do we do it as a temporary fix though? Have we been thinking of a solution which would be sustainable and long-term? When will we do to others what we want done to us? Would we accept the solution if it was offered to us? And when will we offer truly long-term solutions to issues, instead of saying ‘In India, it’s like that only?’ That will be the day we are seen as a reliable and worthy business investment.

Make our intentions Understandable When will we stop assuming that the other person knows what we are talking about? How do we ensure clarity while saying exactly what we have in mind? Why can’t we stop second guessing and make intentions crystal clear? Isn’t it all about saying less but after thinking more and using apt English words? The day we say what we mean and mean what we say, we will be seen as an easy-to-do business destination.

Relate even without business

Directly say yes/no

We tend to be really good at our technical interactions, reeling off data far better than others can imagine. But are we a bit tongue-tied when there is no core job topic at hand? Are we unable to relate, or do we relate only partially, with our customer overseas or our vendor next door? How can we go beyond our call of duty, and relate within boundaries to keep our eyes not just on the other person’s pocket, but also touch his heart? That will be the day we are truly respectfully relating and it will make more people want to do business with them because we ARE like them, and they are now like us.

How do we ensure we get to the point directly first and then give the surrounding context as required in our replies? Why are we seen as beating about the bush in our replies, not being able to say ‘no’ to a question directly when we know we will have difficulty in doing or delivering something? Or even worse, when we need to deliver bad news? The day we do learn to reply ‘yes’ or ‘no’ first, we will be seen as people who don’t make excuses. So, in other words, Make India PROUD. It’s a winning formula.

Be Oriented to long-term solutions When we have an issue, aren’t we good at finding a way Ask us about our PROUD course for your teams. Contact courses@globaladjustments.com


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Culturama March 2017  

This March, Culturama celebrates women power in all its glory. Read all about our special annual fundraiser concert, Aikya 2017 featuring th...

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