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Archive for September, 2015

Sep
29
2015
Modi and his Mom
Author: Gnaana

One of the most touching moments of PM Narendra Modi’s US visit did not happen at the White House, but all the way out on the West Coast during his meeting at Facebook’s Headquarters. Mark Zuckerberg praised his mom (who was in the audience), and asked Modi about his mother’s influence on his life.

What followed is a tear jerker (watch the video below). In sum: “When I was young, to raise us she worked in neighbours’ homes cleaning dishes, filling water…” he said, adding, “There are lakhs of mothers who have given up their whole lives for the dreams of their children…A mother never cares what you become. She cares who you become.”

Here’s to all the mom’s out there!

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Sep
23
2015
Billboard Buzz
Author: Aruna

Priyanka Chopra is plastered all over LA this week – building up the buzz for ABC’s Quantico premiering this Sunday. Who knows how the show will fare, but my kids think it’s really cool to have an Indian face take over the billboards. Too bad they won’t get to watch.

Also on Sunday is Indian Summers on PBS – the period drama set during the British Raj. Steroetypes? I hope not.

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Sep
21
2015
The New Dharma
Author: Aruna

Grandparents speak out! Do grandparents have childcare responsibilities in your family? How do they feel about it? Chances are, they may say that they consider it their dharma to help their children and their grandchildren.

But the paradigms of dharma are changing in our modern society: parents are having children later in life (which means grandparents are even older), both parents may have very demanding jobs (leaving grandparents to shoulder the majority of child rearing duties), and families are more spread out globally (requiring arduous travel on part of the elderly). At some point, one may argue, it becomes the dharma of children to make sure their parents are comfortable and cared-for and enjoying their well-deserved retirement.

Which begs the question: What is the new dharma?

In Hinduism, dharma is defined succinctly as right action, and these actions theoretically maintain the balance of life and the order of the universe. If you look at the 4 stages (ashramas) of Hindu life: Brahmacharya (student), Grihastha (householder), Vanaprastha (period of retreat and loosening of social bonds), and Sannyasa (period of renunciation), grandparents are essentially in a continuous phase of Grihastha.

Is this dharma? (Read this article for an interesting viewpoint).

image: Dharma Chakra gold pendant via Google images

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Sep
16
2015

Happy Ganesh Chaturthi! We’ve featured some unique and amazing Ganesh creations in the past (type in “Ganesh” in our blog search box), and this year we have 5 more. Kids – here’s a fun poll for you: vote on your favorite Ganesh of 2015.

1. Tiny Pencil Lead Ganesh (featured above)

2. Baahubali Ganesh

3. Vegetable Ganesh (Bitter Gourd)

4. Coconut Ganesh

5. DIY Leaf Craft Ganesh

Vote here:

What’s Your Favorite 2015 Ganesh?

 
pollcode.com free polls
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Sep
14
2015

Homeschooling is one of the fastest growing educational movements in the country – estimated at over a 61% growth between 2003 and 2012 (and growing even more in the past 3 years). For academic year 2013-2014, nearly 1.6 million families homeschooled (roughly 2.8% of the population).

Our family has been homeschooling part-time in various forms for the past 2.5 years – and this year we took the plunge and decided to homeschool our 4th grade son full time. He had been attending a small private school 2-3 days per week, and was home for the rest of the time, but this year even that much “regular school” didn’t make sense for his schedule and interests.

Many assume that families homeschool for religious reasons – though here in Southern California, I find this a motivation for the minority. That being said, over the years, I’ve met homeschoolers of all faiths EXCEPT Hinduism. Are we the only Hindu family out of the 190,000+ homeschooled kids in the State of California?

We don’t homeschool for religious reasons – it’s more of a lifestyle/schedule choice to accommodate special needs and interests. This was the scenario when my son was in school full-time in 1st grade: going to school all day, only to come home to more homework, spelling drills, math drills, and trying to fit in exercise (I don’t count school PE), Telugu, music practice, a somewhat healthy dinner, and trying to muster up energy on the weekend for a cultural celebration…all of this multiplied by 2 as my daughter started school. We were all stressed.

All the time.

But in reflecting over our schedule and curriculum, we’re all a bit more balanced this way: we start our day with a Surya Namaskaar, shloka recitation, and 10 minutes of meditation; my son gets to practice santoor for 1.5 hours every day; he gets to take exciting classes at homeschool co-ops (this semester it’s Marine Biology, Chemistry, and Ceramics); his social studies topic is something he picked (ancient civilizations, with a heavy emphasis on ancient Indian history); he gets Telugu 3x a week, keeps a journal, practices critical thinking skills and geography drills – and all of this b/w the hours of 8:30am – 2:30pm – which leaves him time to play in the park with friends, have swim team practice, play chess, explore hobbies (gardening and various cooking experiments are the hobbies of late), and enjoy just being a kid. As for me, I work from 6-7:30am, and then from 2:30-6pm (when we have a sitter come) – after which we all get to make and eat dinner together. I get focused homework time with my daughter, and then we all get to watch “our show” (the Telugu serial Jodha-Akbar – more chance to build our Telugu vocabulary).

Homeschooling is not for everyone – both parents need to have flexible jobs. But if your family is struggling with time, and your kids aren’t getting to develop their talents, it’s worth considering.

Are you a Hindu homeschooler? I’d love to hear from you: aruna at gnaana dot com.

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Sep
10
2015

This movie made a successful run at film festivals last year and, starting this weekend, will be airing at select theaters across the country. If you, or someone you know, has ever been through the Indian marriage process, Meet The Patels hits home. Watch the trailer and check it out for some laughs this weekend (see here for screenings).

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Sep
8
2015
Why is Tulsi Holy?
Author: Aruna

Among the questions that surfaced this past weekend during Krishna Janmashtami festivities:  why all the fuss over the Tulsi plant?

I actually had no clue. All I knew what that it was a holy plant that Hindu’s have at their house. Luckily, Pati (Grandmother) and Kol-Pati (Great Grandmother) were there for the rescue: their answer was that Tulis is an embodiment of Lakshmi Devi.

Upon further research, I found that there are indeed 2 types of Tulsi plants:

1- Krishna Tulsi (also called Shyama Tulsi) has more of a purple and/or dark green colour.

2- Rama Tulsi – which is lighter in colour.

Both have medicinal and ayurvedic properties and uses, and (surprise) there are many myths and legends surround Tusli (which you can read about here).  In essence, Tulsi is regarded as sort-of a bridge between the heavens and the earth – with Brahma residing in its branches, the Ganges flowing through its roots, and the Vedas at the highest part of the branches.  Water mixed with Tulsi leaves is given to the dying during the last breaths of life, presumably to connect them to the Eternal.

Thulasi shree sakhi shubhe, papa haarini punyade,
Namasthe Naradanuthe, Namo Narayana priye.

Oh, Holy Thulasi, Bosom friend of Lakshmi, Destroyer of sins,Bestower of blessings,
Salutations to thee, Who is praised by sage Narada, and is the darling of Lord Narayana.

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