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Archive for July, 2010

Jul
31
2010

In case you and the kids are bored at the beach…

First things first,  Sri Ganesh Ji:

Image by Barcroft Media

Hanuman:

Image by Sudarsan Pattnaik

Buddha:

Image by Sudarsan Pattnaik

The Taj Mahal:

Image by Sudarsan Pattnaik

Gandhi, as sculpted in the Italian town of Jesolo:

Image by Reuters/Michele Crosera

All but the Gandhi sculpture were sculpted by internationally renowned sand artisit Mr. Sudarsan Pattnaik, who grew up on the shores of Puri in Orissa.  You can learn more about him and the Sudarsan Sand Institute at www.sandindia.com.  Talk about a self-made man!

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Jul
28
2010

We’re seeing seashells everywhere lately, given that we spend most weekends at the California beaches.  The ritual for my son is that if we don’t find an A-grade seashell of acceptable quality by the shore, we must stop by one of those gift shacks and buy one.  But it can’t just be any seashell – it has to be a shankha (abbreviated from the formal Telugu word shankhamu).  A shankha (or shankh in Hind) is the word for “conch shell” – a ritual object that has special significance in Hinduism:  it is a sacred emblem of Lord Vishnu and when blown, is said to emanate the primordial sound “om.” Interestingly, the word is derived from 2 Sanskrit words – shum (auspicious or good) and kham (water).  How poetic.

My son has a very apparent special relationship with his shankha du jour – he eats with it, bathes with it and sleeps with it.  And according to him the Telugu letter sha “looks like a shankha.And so it does, my dear.  How I love seeing new things through your eyes.

Pictured at the top of the post is the Conch Shell House from Isla Mujeres, Mexico (available for private rental).

Below, Lord Vishnu with Shankha and the Hindi letter “sha.”  Image by Exotic India Art, available for purchase.

Edible sugar seashells by Olde Naples Chocolate:

Shankha colouring pages (click on image to print):

And if you’re curious as to how to blow on a shankha, here’s a video demo by a little boy:

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Jul
26
2010

I know I certainly do.  I could study it for an entire lifetime and still feel like there is more I want to know.  But most of the books out there (those published in the U.S. and in India) are so dense and unreadable – mired in tangential explanations and footnotes that just leave you scratching your head.   (I even have one book that has footnotes for the footnotes!)   Perhaps this is why many people glaze over definitions of purusha and prakriti, and then throw their hands up in the air in defeat.  They probably feel like they just don’t have the time to digest a seemingly “complicated” religion such as Hinduism after working a 60-hour week and taming their toddlers.

Well I have a book for you:  The Essentials of Hinduism: A Comprehensive Overview of the World’s Oldest Religion.  Think of it as Hinduism 101 written by an eloquent and authoritative Swamiji.  Swami Bhaskarananda breaks down the essentials with clear headings and no-fuss explanations`of karma, yogas, mantras and moksha.  It’s not the be-all-end-all resource on Hinduism – I don’t think such a book is possible – but it’s a darn good start.  In any case, it’s several steps up from “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Hinduism” which, I ashamedly admit I have read, though would certainly NOT recommend.

And I love his explanation of the Paramahamsa that’s depicted on the cover:

“The picture on the front cover depicts the Paramahamsa – a mythological swan with the ability to drink the essential part of milk rejecting its watery part… [I]t is seen that a Paramahamsa remains in water and yet the water never clings to its feathers.  Similarly, a spiritually illumined soul lives in the world, yet is never contaminated by it.”

Befitting, no?

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Jul
23
2010

This post is authored by Rajas and Ranis, a designer children’s boutique from the United Kingdom.  It is one of the few boutiques around the world (and UK’s first) dedicated exclusively to Indian clothing for children.  Their retail store is located on Deepdale Road in Preston.

The influence of ethnic wear into mainstream fashion in recent years has been obvious with more color, embroidery and sequins being featured in many everyday garments.  Indeed the Indian-style kaftan has become a norm for many women and girls alike. Scarves, sarongs, dresses and handbags have all been heavily inspired by the Indian look.  Even home wares such as bedding and cushions have been transformed into beautifully bright pieces of Indian-influenced art – a delight to adorn any modern household.

So don’t be afraid to incorporate Indian style into your kids’ everyday wardrobe.

And not to forget accessories – Indian bangles or other jewelry pieces provide a stunning contrast to simple Western wear.

Some of our more casual and cotton outfits, like the block print dresses below, are perfect for play or lunch out on the town.

For a more fashion-forward look, try separating parts of an Indian outfit and pairing them with Western pieces.   Beaded churidars can look super with a casual dress.  For example, the ivory churidar featured at the top of this post could be worn with either a denim dress or a simple sundress.

Top of post:  Chipie Girls Denim Dress by Spruced Goose, £21.00Turquoise Blue Sundress, £28.50

Above:  La Fee Clochette Dress in Manon White by Zebre a Pois, £6.93;  Sasha Dress by Pink Chicken, $65.00

Or try the opposite – beautiful cotton and lightly-embroidered tunics worn over jeans, leggings or even skirts liven up any outfit for a casual but pretty just-put-together look.

Above:  Miller Denim Trousers by Elias & Grace, £22.50

Above:  Rose Moyen Knit Skirt by Du Pareil Au Meme, 9,90 €

© 2010 Rajas and Ranis

See Indian wear for children as you’ve never seen it before!  Be inspired by beautiful styles in vibrant colours, pretty prints and detailed embroidery.  Create stunning looks for your little ones this wedding and festival season with the Rajas and Ranis summer collection.  Available for worldwide shipping.

For a limited time Gnaana readers can claim a free gift with any order placed.  Just mention “Gnaana” at checkout.

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Jul
21
2010
Accessorize!
Author: Guest Blogger

This post is authored by Rajas and Ranis, a designer children’s boutique from the United Kingdom.  It is one of the few boutiques around the world (and UK’s first) dedicated exclusively to Indian clothing for children.  Their retail store is located on Deepdale Road in Preston.

No outfit is complete without the perfect accessory, and the choice for little madams has seen a huge boom in recent years.  It’s all about sparkle for girls, with hairpieces and wrist bands made from Swarovski crystal

If that’s a little out of your budget try matching an assortment of bangles to your childs outfit in different colours and textures rather than sticking to the same colour set of bangles.

Sparkly statement footwear is a must to complete any rani’s outfit.

Dare to be a little creative!  Tying a dupatta in a novel way or fastening a simple flower in your child’s hair can look darling.

Not forgetting the boys. Traditional footwear is a must, whether it be the popular chappal style with a kurta, or a more elegant pair of matching khussa to compliment a sherwani.

© 2010 Rajas and Ranis

See Indian wear for children as you’ve never seen it before!  Be inspired by beautiful styles in vibrant colours, pretty prints and detailed embroidery.  Create stunning looks for your little ones this wedding and festival season with the Rajas and Ranis summer collection.  Available for worldwide shipping.

For a limited time Gnaana readers can claim a free gift with any order placed.  Just mention “Gnaana” at checkout.

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Jul
19
2010

This post is authored by Rajas and Ranis, a designer children’s boutique from the United Kingdom.  It is one of the few boutiques around the world (and UK’s first) dedicated exclusively to Indian clothing for children.  Their retail store is located on Deepdale Road in Preston.

The August wedding season is upon us and today’s modern and fashion-conscious mums and dads are looking to make sure their kids make an equal impression on the wedding party.  Gone are the days when a phone call to India to “send something for the kids to wear” initiated weeks of excited anticipation only to result in tears of despair at the sight of some ghastly item Dadi had chosen in her wisdom!  Kids nowadays know exactly what they want to wear  – and more often than not get to select their own clothes and accessorize them.  What do you know mom!

So what’s hot when it comes to children’s ethnic wear?   For colour it has to be the classics – reds and greens.  After all, it wouldn’t be an Indian wedding or party without a lot of bright colour and a whole lot of bling!

Gorgeous skirts and cholis are a must for any girl, especially for the big day.

Doll-style dresses, cut above the knee, teamed with detailed churidars are also the pick of the season with many parents opting for these styles for mehndi parties and other-pre wedding celebrations.  (Is it me or do weddings seem to go on for much longer these days?).

For boys the traditional kurta pajama is still very much the favourite, with the emphasis on bright colors and light loose fabrics.

For the big day a well fitted sherwani will ensure any boy will shine like a raja at his mamu, chachu or bhaya’s shaadi!

© 2010 Rajas and Ranis

See Indian wear for children as you’ve never seen it before!  Be inspired by beautiful styles in vibrant colours, pretty prints and detailed embroidery.  Create stunning looks for your little ones this wedding and festival season with the Rajas and Ranis summer collection.  Available for worldwide shipping.

For a limited time Gnaana readers can claim a free gift with any order placed.  Just mention “Gnaana” at checkout.

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Jul
16
2010

Not that I have the time to sit in a nail salon (I go maybe once or twice a year if my feet are lucky), but I’ve been seing a lot of “organic nail bars” popping up.  I presume the people who work there don’t have to wear those surgeon’s masks to fend off those vicious fumes.

Which made me think, maybe I should be on the lookout for non-toxic polishes for use at home. 

And then I found Priti NYC.  Their polishes are made without toluene, dibutyl phthalate (DHB) and formaldehyde – which are all known carcinogenic ingredients.  Available in over 100 shades for grown ups and…

It’s very own Priti Princess collection for girls (or boys – my son currently as traces of the green Glow Leaf on his feet).  It’s apparently the first line of non-toxic polishes made exclusively for kids.

My personal favourite is the Soy Nail Polish Remover, made with natural soybean esters, coconut and essential lemongrass oils.  No acetone, no petroleum and no stench!

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Jul
14
2010

Our July Newsletter features the ancient tradition of mat weaving.   Popular in India’s coastal villages and islands, such as Andaman and Nicobar, it’s traditionally done with palm leaves.  Weavers interlace several leaves together to make floor or prayer mats, or curve them into baskets, bowls or hats.  Weaving is indeed an important part of India’s economy.

We were inspired by this handicraft to weave our own paper placemats.  It’s a simple activity you can set up in just a few minutes for the kids to do.  It’ll get them working with hands  – developing those fine motor skills – and also teach them the rewards of patience and persistence.  In the end, they’ll have a beautiful piece of art they can set the table with!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • * 2 sheets of 12″ x 12″ heavy cardstock for each mat (you can also use felt), cut into 1″ strips
  • *Easy peel-off tape (such as masking tape or Scotch tape)
  • * Colored duct tape (available at your local craft store)

1.    Lay the strips from your first sheet of cardstock together on a craft table.  Tape one edge of the strips to the table using the peel-off tape.  The craft is now ready for your kids.

2.    Have your kids take the strips from the second sheet of cardstock and weave them in between the taped strips, alternating each strip.

3.   When they’re done, seal all the edges with the colored duct tape.  That’s it!

If you’re curious as to how mats are made with actual palm fronds, see here.

(Image by COMFSM)

And here’s the answer to the question in our newsletterLakshadweep

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Jul
12
2010
Ode To The Auto
Author: Gnaana

Oh, you 3-wheeled wonder, How do I miss thee?  You have room enough for 5 laddoo-sized adults and their offspring.  You zip and you zoom, but by God’s Grace, you seldom topple.  You have the omniscience to make sure to hit all potholes, old and new, on any road you travel.  You are an indispensible part of the Indian Experience.  Thank you.

So this past weekend, my son and I spent a few hours ogling over our Tour du Monde canvas that arrived on Friday (yes, hours –  he is simply enthralled by it).  He happened to notice a curious graphic over the approximate area of Pakistan and asked “what’s that?”  I told him it was an auto-rickshaw, that it had 3 wheels and that people in India ride in them all the time.  He gave me this look of utter astonishment, as though saying, “I can’t believe you kept this a secret from me for so long, Mommy.  How could you not apprise me, a covetous connoisseur of all motorized land objects, of the existence of this 3-wheeled vehicle????”

And so began our web search for “all things auto“…

First, toy autos can be purchased here.

curious interview with a tech-savvy auto driver – who has his own website!

(Image by The Hindu)

Funny cartoon entitled Anatomy of an Indian Autorickshaw, apparently from a T-Shirt.

Autos on strike:

For about €1600, you can enter the Richshaw Challenge – an auto rickshaw race (of sorts) that’s organized by Chennai Event Management Services.

A decked-out auto, probably decorated for Diwali or a wedding.  Interestingly, the Rickshaw Challenge folks seem to work with Pimp My Shaw, offering custom paint jobs, upholstery and sound systems for autos.

(Image by Anurag Saurabh)

The solar auto

Coming to a city near you.

And last but not least, my son’s favourite auto video – featuring an auto that gets stuck in the sand…indeed a poetic ending to this post.

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Jul
8
2010

As only the French can do – Tour du Monde with the kids.  I just ordered this world map poster from L’Affiche Moderne that’s too cute for words!  Quirky and not cliche – thankfully.  I can’t wait to hang it up in our play area.

I got the mounted canvas version…and in French for some added intrigue (there is also an English version).

I think of it as a consolation prize for not being able to go anywhere exotic this summer.  Sigh.

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