Winter Wisdom     
                              January 2010    
Nua Barshara Subhechha!
(Oriya New Year's Greeting)
It's out with the old and in with the...ancient?  That's right.  Our motto this month is that a "New Year" doesn't necessarily mean that you have to look to "new" ideas for inspiration.  It's a perfect time to recycle some of the principles found in traditional Indian culture for your resolutions. 
We kick-off the year with the Hindu holiday of Makar Sankranthi on January 14 (also known as Pongal and celebrated the day prior as Lohri in Punjab) - a joyous harvest festival to mark the start of the Sun's northward journey.  You may not be able to fly kites as they do in India if you live in chilly climates, but you can certainly talk with your kids about the importance of the Sun and stage some Sun-related arts, crafts and science lessons! 
And for you New York City folks, don't miss out on Tea With Chachaji, a musical based on the book Chachaji's Cup, from January 30 - February 3 in Tribeca.  Details...  
Happy New Year!
 Sun Salutations!

 The Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) is a unique prayer-in-motion that's been practiced for centuries.  It's an invigorating exercise for the mind and body that has many purported health benefits.  It's also just a fun way for kids to start their morning!  In honour of the solar celebration of Sankranthi, we've put together a handy graphic (download and print here) you can use to demonstrate the practice with your children.   Read more about how to present the Surya Namaskar to kids here...    
 The White Lotus

At gnaana we have a special soft spot for the White Lotus (you are probably familiar with Pankaj, our lotus mascot, by now).  Not only is it a beautiful flower, but it's also an important symbol in Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism.  The growth of the flower is said to mirror the spiritual journey of man:  although it's roots are in the mud, it grows up and out from the water - just as man, who is at first rooted in the ignorant mud of materialism, rises through the water of experience and up towards the bright sunshine of enlightenment.  For Buddhists, the flower represents bodhi (nirvana, or total mental purity).  For Hindus, it also represents Supreme Knowledge.  Goddess Saraswati (goddess of wisdom and learning) is often depicted sitting on a white lotus - signifying that she is rooted in this Supreme Knowledge. Hindus celebrate Vasant Panchami later this month in honour of Goddess Saraswati.
 Indian Air Force in Action!

January 26 is celebrated as India's Republic Day - when the country officially adopted the Constitution of India and thereby became a republic in 1950.  The day is celebrated with much pomp in India, and it's also an occasion to showcase the country's military might.  The Indian Air Force is the 4th largest in the world and has an impressive fleet of aircraft. See the IAF in action (from National Geographic's Mission Udaan)...  
The IAF's motto - Nabha Sparsham Deeptam (Sanskrit for "Touch the Sky with Glory") - is perhaps even more beautiful than the video! 
Multi-Cultural Musings
The latest from our blog:
Time to Celebrate! 
Jan 5:  Guru Gobind Singh
           Jayanti (Sikh)
Jan 13:  Lohri (Punjab)
Jan 14: Makar Sankranthi /
Jan 20:  Vasant Panchami
Jan 26:  Republic Day (India)
"It's snowing still," said Eeyore gloomily.
"So it is."
"And freezing."
"Is it?"
"Yes," said Eeyore.  "However," he said, brightening up a little, "We haven't had an earthquake lately."
 -- A.A. Milne
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