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Archive for February, 2011

Feb
28
2011

 

My daughter one day declared that the crib wasn’t for her anymore.  It was “too baby”  – and evidently too restrictive when she decided the sleeping thing wasn’t really on her schedule at that particular moment in the afternoon.  And so our beautiful and sturdy Stanley crib joined the ranks of for sale items on Craigslist.  Two weeks ago we sold it to a family with triplets, and mom, dad and all 3 little girls came to our house to disassemble and haul it away.  It seemed my daughter had mixed emotions about her crib leaving her room – she kept repeating, oh-so-forlornly, “crib poyindi?” (crib gone?) and “ammai teesko?” (the lady take [it]?).  Though I think she was satisfied that it was going to not one – but three cute babies – the trio of whom she kept counting and ogling over.

So this month, as she happily sleeps in a semi-graduated mattress on the floor,  “ma” is for “mancham” (bed).  We are on the search for a suitable bedframe – hopefully one that will carry her through adulthood…

The front-funner so far, pictured at the top of this post: Blu Dot Nook Bed in guacamole.
Or something more classic mid-century: Case Study bed by Modernica (below left), or True Modern Twin Platform Bed (below, right) – which I bought for my son and absolutely adore.

Also alluring is this idea – seems to be a West Elm frame with a custom paint colour:

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Feb
25
2011
Fun & Simple Music Games
Author: Guest Blogger

 

Image: Audio CD Cover –  Elizabeth Mitchell, Smithsonian Folkways Recording Artist

This post is authored by Kavita Bafana, Co-Founder and Director at Little Ustaads.  Little Ustaads offers play-based musical education classes for children ages 0-5 in the New York/New Jersey area and in Mumbai.  The curriculum is designed to encourage children and parents to discover and appreciate the world of Indian classical music through rhythmic tunes, rich vocals, mini instruments and vibrant visuals.

Here are 2 simple games to teach some basic concepts of Indian Classical Music.

Learn the Hindustani Sargam

To teach the Hindustani sargam to children, it is best to make it visual and fun.  We can do this by building a make-believe tower with our fists. Place one fist on top of the other and then take the bottom fist and put it on top.  Keep taking the bottom fist and moving it on top of the other.  Do this 7 times to represent the seven notes.  The sargam consists of the building blocks that make up all of Indian Classical Music; hence we make a visual tower with our fists.  This can be done individually or by holding your child’s hands.

1.  Have the children first build building blocks (one fist on top of the other and repeat) and say “lets build blocks with our hands.”
2.  Once the child has gotten the hang of building with their fists, then build a pretend tower of putting your fists on top of each other 7 seven times – to represent 7 building blocks of Indian music.  The idea is to associate one fist with one note.
3.  Then say the seven building blocks of our sargam with each hand starting with sa, re, ga, ma, pa, dha and ni.

Peek-a-Boo Basuri

To teach a child what a basuri sounds like, play a game they know – Peek-a-Boo – with a twist.

1.  Play a short piece of basuri music and cover your face with a small piece of cloth.
2.  Then suddenly stop the music and say “peek-a-boo!”
3.  Then repeat this a few times.  The child will be waiting to hear the basuri music and listening hard for the music to stop.  They will naturally absorb what a basuri sounds like!

© 2010 Little Ustaads

www.littleustaads.com
newyork@littleustaads.com
773-744-1662

Little Ustaads currently runs programs in NY, NJ and Mumbai, and is seeking partners in other parts of the world. Please contact them if you are interested in setting up a Little Ustaads Franchise or Partnership.

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Feb
23
2011

This post is authored by Kavita Bafana, Co-Founder and Director at Little UstaadsLittle Ustaads offers play-based musical education classes for children ages 0-5 in the New York/New Jersey area and in Mumbai. The curriculum is designed to encourage children and parents to discover and appreciate the world of Indian classical music through rhythmic tunes, rich vocals, mini instruments and vibrant visuals.

1. Prarthna

Description: A genre of Indian classical music

Developmental Benefits: Children learn about Indian culture and values through song

2.  Sargam

Description: Understanding and identifying Indian notation and pitch – sa, re, ga, ma, pa, dha, ni are the 7 building blocks that make up all of Indian classical music.

Developmental Benefits: Helps build word associations; easy short sounds for children to sing along with and to learn pitch and sequencing.

3.  Aroha vs Avoha

Description: Aroha is singing the Sargam from bottom to top – ascending –  (Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni and Sa), while Avoha is singing the Sargam from top to bottom – decending – (Sa, Ni , Dha, Pa, Ma, Ga, Re and Sa).

Developmental Benefits: Teaches sequencing, builds listening skills and introduces pitch.

4.  Raga

Description: A series of 5 or more musical notes (Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha and Ni) upon which a melody is made. Particular ragas are associated with different times of the day, or with seasons.

Developmental Benefits: Allows children to listen, distinguish and respond to different sounds, rhythms and pitches.  Sharpens listening skills while teaching children to vizualize music.

5.  Taal

Description: Rhythm and Beats

Developmental Benefits: Emphasizes understanding of basic counting skills.  Builds hand-eye coordination.

6.  Laya

Description: Speed or Tempo

Developmental Benefits: Helps children understand slow versus fast and builds coordination while listening to different speeds.

7.  Vilampit vs. Madhya vs. Drut

Description: Vilampit is the slowest tempo, Madhya is a mid-range tempo and Drut is fast tempo.

Developmental Benefits: Helps children understand slow versus fast and builds coordination while listening to different speeds.

8.  Tabla

Description: Indian percussion instrument consisting of a pair of hand drums.

Developmental Benefits: Develops an understanding of the difference between beating, blowing and strumming instruments to make music.  Sharpens children’s listening skills.

9.  Bansuri

Description: A woodwind instrument that has seven holes and is played by being blown into.

Developmental Benefits: Develops an understanding of the difference between beating, blowing and strumming instruments to make music.  Sharpens children’s listening skills.

10.  Sitar

Description: A string instrument that has a long neck and lots of strings.

Developmental Benefits: Develops an understanding of the difference between beating, blowing and strumming instruments to make music.  Sharpens children’s listening skills.

© 2010 Little Ustaads

www.littleustaads.com
newyork@littleustaads.com
773-744-1662

Little Ustaads currently runs programs in NY, NJ and Mumbai, and is seeking partners in other parts of the world. Please contact them if you are interested in setting up a Little Ustaads Franchise or Partnership.

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Feb
21
2011

This post is authored by Kavita Bafana, Co-Founder and Director at Little UstaadsLittle Ustaads offers play-based musical education classes for children ages 0-5 in the New York/New Jersey area and in Mumbai.  The curriculum is designed to encourage children and parents to discover and appreciate the world of Indian classical music through rhythmic tunes, rich vocals, mini instruments and vibrant visuals.

Why is Indian classical music important for Indian children growing up in the West?

Surrounded by Western influences, we face a difficult task of raising children that will accept, appreciate and embrace our Indian culture.  As determined parents, we may try many things like consistently speaking a native language, dancing to Bollywood tunes or serving children traditional foods.  These and other activities are beneficial, but we still lack the ability to speak to them at their level and to make them feel that they are part of a larger community – that all the things they are doing at home are not just unique to them, but rather are followed by many other children like themselves.  Indian classical music can be an amazing medium to captivate and connect our children to each other and their rich background right from birth.

I was fortunate to have parents that introduced me to the wonders of Indian classical music through Kathak, a North Indian classical dance.  I learned language, culture and values that are core to our rich Indian traditions.  Growing up in New York, the opportunity to excel in Indian classical dance allowed me to connect to my Indian community and be unique among my Western classmates.  This hobby has shaped me into who I am today and I am excited to pass it along to my children.

After having twins, I wanted them to have the same upbringing I was lucky to have, but I found my options limited.  With the prevalence of Western children’s music and Indian classical training beginning at age 6, I wanted to immerse them in sound patterns and melodies that children do not experience at school or at home –  such as the sitar or raag bilawal – as early as possible.  Fortunately, I was able to work with a friend on this need and we created a curriculum for children designed to teach Indian classical music through play and dance.  I saw my twins build their Hindi vocabulary, develop familiarity with unique Indian instruments and train their ears to actively listen.  As they have grown up, I can see the benefits:  this early and sustained exposure has piqued their interest in pursuing different aspects of this art—primarily playing tabla and singing and dancing.

Another benefit of pursuing Indian classical music for children is to train ourselves as parents.  For those of us that have not been exposed to Indian classical music, we have the opportunity to learn what is a raag, what is a sargam and how to count teen taal.  For those of us that have been immersed in the art, it provides a time to focus on transferring that experience to our children.  In our busy schedule as parents or grandparents, we need organized time where we are completely there with our children, and Indian classical music can be a medium to provide that focused time to bond, learn and communicate.

For me, it is not a question of whether Indian classical music is better than Western classical music.  It is about speaking to children in a language they understand—music— while reaping the multiple other benefits to immerse them in their rich heritage.

© 2010 Little Ustaads
www.littleustaads.com
newyork@littleustaads.com
773-744-1662

Little Ustaads currently runs programs in NY, NJ and Mumbai, and is seeking  partners in other parts of the world.  Please contact them if you are interested in setting up a Little Ustaads Franchise or Partnership.

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Feb
18
2011
Yoga With Your Kids
Author: Guest Blogger

This post is authored by Sheena Patel – founder of wellness boutique Savsani.  Sheena has taught classes in positive psychology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, yogic principals at Harvard Business School and stress management at Massachusetts General Hospital.  Savsani offers comprehensive wellness programs for individual and corporate clients.

Become a yoga role model for your next generation!  This article will give you some tips on how to help your kids get into the yoga spirit.

People are interesting creatures.  Next time you are around another parent, observe how they talk to their child.  Is the child paying attention to the parent?  You may notice the child looking away in the opposite direction, or playing with her hair, but odds are that she is not paying attention. You may find yourself in the same position with your little ones when you are trying to lecture them on something that they just might not be listening to.  So what do you do?

Children of course don’t like to listen and and as they get older, it only gets worse.  The best way to encourage good habits is for parents to set an example.  Children are not likely to forget something they see in action.  As Indians we are truly blessed with the wealth of knowledge on how to live a fulfilling and successful life through techniques from the Vedas.  So why not implement those techniques and become profound role models for our little ones?

You can start by practicing the asanas that SavSani had recommended in last month’s article Resolution Yoga :: One Asana a Day Keeps the Doctor Away.  Just pull out your mat first thing in the morning and start practicing.  Make it a routine for yourself and encourage your little one to join in – he or she will surely be intrigued.

As you make yoga part of your routine, your little one will recognize the importance of this daily ritual.  You probably won’t even need to say anything – they will soon be trying to copy and practice by your side.  But beware!  Soon enough they might be practicing a better cobra or bridge than you as their bodies haven’t yet been infused with stress and tension.

Giving kids the gift of yoga is one of the best gifts that you can give them.  Not only will it stay with them for the rest of their lives, but it will also be something that they can remember you by.  Being on the mat side by side is truly a beautiful connection you can have with them in that special quite place where your energy is purely positive.

So this February continue to practice the asanas that were given to you in January, but this time make sure that you have a little friend or two by your side to keep you company and perhaps even practice with you.  Happy yoga-ing!

Disclaimer: As with any physical activity, please consult with your primary care physician before practicing.

© 2011 SavSani
www.savsani.com
sheena@savsani.com

Image via Google Images

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Feb
16
2011

Continuing on the topic of names this month, what of the Namakarana (or Namkaran) – the baby naming ceremony?  As one Sanskrit scholar put it, “Name is the primary means of social intercourse, it brings about merits and it is the root of fortune.  From name man attains fame.  Therefore, [the] naming ceremony is very praiseworthy.”  (Brhaspati).  It’s only befitting then, that an entire ceremony is devoted to naming a child!

The Namakarana is the 5th of the 16 Hindu Samskaras – and is typically performed between the 10th and 12th days following birth, although timing varies widely depending on family customs and observations.  Naming was so important that the historical custom evolved into giving the child 4 names:

1- Nakshatra Name:  this name was derived from the nakshatra (constellation) under which the child was born.  Certain of the 52 letters of the Sanskrit alphabet are ascribed to each of the 27 constellations, and the child was to be given a name starting with that letter.  In some families, the nakshatra-name is given on the actual day of birth, but was kept secret by the parents up until the time of he Upanayana (a later Samskara).

2- Month-Deity Name:  The second name was connected with the deity of the month the child was born in.

3- Family-Deity Name:  The third name was given according to the family deity.  It was believed that the child would receive special protection of the deity.

4- Popular Name:  Finally, of course, was the popular name.  This name was to be auspicious and signficant.  It was believed that the name should have certain qualities – that it be easy to pronounce and sweet to hear, indicate the sex of the child, and be significant of fame, wealth, power or some other desireable quality.

The actual procedure varies again by family custom, but the cermony is a very simple one.  First, the house is cleaned and preliminary prayers and rites performed.  The mother and baby bathe and dress in new clothes.  The mother then wets the head of the child with water (as a symbol of purification) and hands it over to the father.  More offerings and prayers are made, and the father then “touches the breaths of the child” and speaks the name into the child’s right ear.  Relatives are invited to bless the child and requisite feasting ensues…

Some families have a tradition of a cradle ceremony, or ooyala ceremony as we call it in Telugu.  This is also performed on the 11th or 21st day, which can also encompass the Namakarana.

Whatever the practice, it is undoubtedly a special time to celebrate the new baby and the family’s good fortune.  For me as a mother, the ceremony was very emotional both times around – I was very thankful to have healthy babies and to celebrate with our near and dear.  As I reminisce, here is a snap from my daughter’s ooyala.

Significance and procedure of Namakarana ceremony taken from Rajbali Pandey’s Hindu Samskaras.
Top image: letterpress birth annoucement by Sweet Beets

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Feb
14
2011
Valentine Chapatis
Author: Aruna

Heart-shaped chapatis for my sweeties today.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Feb
11
2011

They don’t make them like they used to…this Valentine’s Day, we’re taking you back in time with some recommendations for romantic classics in Indian cinema.  Here are our picks:

Hindi

Tere Ghar Ke Samne (1963:  Dev Anand & Nutan Behl).  Dev Anand’s classic film about a young architect who falls in love with the daughter of his father’s business rival.  Lighthearted, fun and with some memorable tunes.

Padosan (1968:  Sunil Dutt & Saira Banu).  A spirited comedy about falling in love with the girl next door.

Telugu

Malliswari (1951:  N.T. Rama Rao & Bhanumathi).  A story set in the days of the Vijayanagara Empire involving a woman whose fate had it written that she live in the royal palace but is in love with a sculptor.  Don’t worry, it’s a happy ending.

Missamma (1955:  N.T. Rama Rao & Savitri).  How can 2 teachers not fall in love when they have to feign marriage to be hired?  Especially when it’s NTR and Savitri.

Bengali

Harano Sur (1957:  Uttam Kumar & Suchitra Sen).  Alok, an amnesiac after a train accident, falls in love with Roma, his doctor, only to forget her when he regains his memory.  Can Roma woo him back?  Kumar and Sen are one of the most magnetic duets in Bengali cinema.

Baksa Badal (1970:  Soumitra Chatterjee & Aparna Sen).  A lighthearted romantic-comedy about two people who have their luggage exchanged during a train journey.  A very cute story.  Screenplay by Satyajit Ray.

Tamil

Thillana Mohanambal (1968:  Shivaji Ganesan & Padmini).  A classical bharathanatyam dancer and a nadaswaram player fall in love.  How artistic is that?

And no list of romantic movies would be complete without one starring Audrey Hepburn.  Love in the Afternoon, starring Audrey and Gary Cooper is as good it can get.

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Feb
10
2011
What’s in a Name?
Author: Gnaana

 

(Sonal means “Golden”)

As kids write out Valentines this month, names are most definitely on everyone’s minds.  Names are beautiful, symbolic and, most importantly, graced with radiant and evocative meanings.

Do your kids know what their name means?

Here’s a simple (and surely memorable) project for kids from our February Newsletter:  have them create a name poster – with drawings or pastings of all of the elements which give meaning to their names.  This is a great opportunity for self-exploration.  Here are few tips to get you started:

1.  First, if you’ve never done so, ask them if they know what their name means.  It may not be something they’ve even thought to ask!
2.  Tell them, in an age-appropriate manner, what their name symbolizes.  Why did you choose it?  Is there a special family history behind it?  If the name is taken after a particular deity, what aspects of that deity are embodied in the name?
3.  Make a list of 5-10 words that relate to their name – include colors, objects, and qualities.  For the words that are more of an esoteric nature (e.g. “patience”) help your kids think of an object or animal that embodies those qualities.
4.  Gather a paper or canvas (perhaps in one of the colors you identified) and paints, markers and other craft items and urge your child to include as many of the words as he can.  If your child is too young to draw more complicated objects, use stickers or cut-out images from magazines.
5.  Of course, don’t forget to include your child’s name on the artwork!

Get creative – and have fun!

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Feb
7
2011

 

Or maybe your kids will grow taller with Complan?  Obviously milk mixes should be a supplement to, and not a replacement for, an actual balanced diet – but if you had to choose, which would it be?  We’ve compiled some nutrition facts about Bournvita, Horlicks, Complan and Ovaltine to help you sift through the marketing mystique.

 

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