Feb
5
2013

Jalebi: The Celebration Sweet of India

While craving for a sweet dish, your first instinct might be to reach out for a candybar or some icecream, but you haven’t really tasted ‘sweet’ until you’ve tried jalebi. Known by different names around the India (and the world), this sweet dish is known as the most popular and the most scrumptious sweet within the Indian community. Easy to prepare and delightful on the palette, jalebi is also known as Jilawii or Jalibi. In India, Gujaratis love to indulge in it with Sambharo and fried chillies, especially during a Sunday brunch.

Indian Sweet Jalebi

Specially when you’re thinking about Indian food for kids, jalebi should be first to pop into your head. This sweet delight made up of never ending circles is popular among the kids not only for its take but also the joy of chomping down on them while holding them in your hands. The origins of the dish can be traced back to ancient India where it was called Kundalika. You can even find the earliest references to it in ancient cook books dating as far back as the 13th century. In the early 1900s it was used to hold ice cream, and at some point of time was also considered to be a remedy for headaches.

Today, with everything else put aside, it is accepted as the celebration sweet of India and enjoyed by Indians around the world, who love sweets as well as Indian culture. It’s crispy core and sweet syrupy exterior delight tastebuds and help Indians revel in celebrations across the world.

Jan
22
2013

Incredible Indian Classical Dance – Odissi

Indian Classical Dance Form

Tracing its origin to the ritual dances performed in temples of ancient Northern India, Odissi dance is a classical dance form from the eastern part of India, Orissa. Using their head, bust and torso in soft flowing movements to express specific moods and emotions, the temple dancers or devdasis were known to perform this dance form with extreme grace.

Temples and performers began losing their patronage of feudal rulers and the decline of princely states in the 1930s and 40s left very few practitioners of the art. Initially seen as a dance performed only in temples by specific performers, the Odissi dance form saw a major change of official attitude post independence, and there was an increase in Governmental and non-Governmental patronage. A massive job of reconstruction of this beautiful art began which included going through ancient texts. The result is that today Odissi is a well established and codified dance form of India.

Odissi, complete with aesthetic and technical details, like any other dance form, has its own costumes or jewellery. Locally made Sambalpuri or Kotki saree is draped to create a fan-shaped structure in the front and white metal jewellery including earrings that cover the entire ear resembling a peacock feather, completes the attire. Music of Orissa accompanies the dance. The highlighting feature of Odissi is the unique postures created by the head, bust and torso and performances are replete with tales of the eighth incarnation of Vishnu and his avatar of Lord Krishna.

Odissi dance is an epitome of fluid grace and has a distinctively appealing lyrical quality.

Jan
16
2013

The Magical Religious Gathering of Pilgrims- The Maha Kumbh

Dating back to the time of the Rig Veda, the Maha Kumbh Mela is celebrated once in twelve years. Celebrated on the banks of India’s most sacred rivers, the Ganga, Yamuna, and Godavari, it is the world’s oldest and largest religious gathering. This year the Maha Kumbh began on the day of maker sankranti, with tens of thousands of devotees, ascetics and leaders of various orders taking the holy dip at the sangam – the confluence of the Ganges, the Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati rivers. The main ritual is the holy bath which starts as early as 3 a.m. and is believed by Hindus to absolve them of sins. As dawn approaches, different groups of sadhus, often accompanied by elephants, camels and drummers move towards the river to bathe, usually led by the nagas (naked sadhus with bodies covered with ash and matted hair).

If official reports are to be believed, as many as a hundred million pilgrims are expected to pass through the city over the next two months, making it larger than any previous festivals.

Maha Kumbh Mela

The festival has its roots in a Hindu tradition that says Lord Vishnu wrested from demons a golden pot containing the nectar of immortality. As mesmerizing as it is spiritual, this religious gathering is a meeting of mystical minds, where holy men gather together to discuss their faith. Pilgrims who attend the Kumbh mela come to see and listen to these men, in order to gain spiritual enlightenment. It also is a great opportunity for the westerners to learn the Hindi language and for Indian parents probably away from the country to acquaint their kids with the Indian culture.
Authorities have constructed a vast tented city at the festival ground for masses of pilgrims, with millions being spent to provide everything from sanitation to security.

The grand festival which has in previous years broken the world record for the biggest human gathering will end on the 30th of March.

Aug
14
2012

It’s Time to Celebrate Independence Day in India!

It is a time for celebration; celebration ofIndia’s free spirit! Sixty five years ago, India broke away from 150 years of British occupation. India’s independence day is celebrated with great fervor in honor of the great leaders and freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives in the name of India’s independence. The struggle for liberty began in 1857 with the Sepoy Mutiny in the town of Meerut. At 11:00 PM on August 14, 1947, the Constituent Assembly conducted a meeting to celebrate India’s Independence; India became a free country thereafter at the stroke of midnight.

Today, India stands much taller than it did before liberation. India has grown at a rapid pace since independence. India’s economy continues to improve with advances in agriculture, technology, and a modernization of society. The future looks positive for this country.

For the 1.2 billion Indians at home and Indian nationals in various countries around the world, August 15 carries with it strong emotions and sentiments. Parents overseas exploit this time of Indian pride by encouraging their children to embrace Indian culture and learn to speak Hindi, the Indian national language. Fortunately, there are several classes conducted in many cities that can assist inlearning the Hindi language.

Celebrations start well before the actual day. On the eve of independence day, when the world sleeps, India awakens by marching to the virtues of life and freedom at midnight. The day is marked by the hoisting of the national flag by the prime minister of India at the Red Fort, as well as by chief ministers in their respective state capitals. This motion is followed by an Independence Day parade through the capital, in addition to a multitude of cultural events that are held across the ountry. The skies are dotted with countless kites flown from rooftops and fields symbolizing the free spirit of India.

So let’s celebrate the freedom of India!

Aug
1
2012

Advantages of Being a Multilingual Person

Language is one of humanity’s proudest creations. It’s what keeps us above the rest, makes us more intelligent than animals. In India, the local language changes every one hundred kilometers and just like with the rest of the world, every language represents a different culture. Being able to communicate fluently in a language helps you better understand their culture. Hindi, for example, is a representative of Indian culture. It has words and phrases that represent the objects and feelings that are important to us.

In today’s globalized world it is very important to be multilingual. It gives you an edge over the rest. Many people, especially foreigners, are interested in how to learn Hindi as they know that India is a rising power. Indian culture is a dominating one in the world and in order to understand and utilize Indian culture it is important to learn Hindi.

The globalized world holds many prospects. It’s possible to get a job in almost any part of the world. It is essential, however, to understand the local language. Many people are taking advantage of this and are speeding ahead in their careers just by learning Hindi or another secondary language. Learning Hindi gives you an insight into Indian culture that is not possible otherwise. Along with helping you understand what people are saying, more importantly it lets you know what they are thinking and feeling. The advantages of being multilingual are many, and growing as the world becomes a smaller place.

About Ruchita Parat

Ruchita Parat is the founder of CEO of US Hindi Foundation (USHF) which was founded in 2006. She has started hindi learning program Jano Hindi. This program includes various activities that makes the learning process very easy for kids. USHF also conducts Camp Jano India that are very interactive and creative as well. Follow Us Here

Apr
25
2012

The Hallowed Precincts of the Golden Temple

The Golden Temple in Amritsar, also known as Harmandir Sahib or Darbar Sahib, is a prominent Gurdwara considered holy by Sikhs around the world. This beautiful structure was constructed to be a place of worship for men and women from all walks of life to come together and worship God.

When the gurdwara was first built in 1574, it was surrounded by a small lake in a forest. It was Guru Ram Das who enlarged the lake and built a township around it. Although it was completed in 1604, it was attacked by Afghans in the 18th Century and had to be rebuilt.

Devotees enter the temple through an ornate archway with intricate inlay work. The most noticeable feature is its dome – said to be glided with a hundred kilograms of gold. Shaped like an inverted lotus, the dome signifies the Sikhs’ concerns with the problems of this world.A bridge also extends from the Gurdwara to the Akal Takhat, the governing body of religious authority for Sikhs. Many people are known to learn to speak Hindi in order to read the verses from the Granth Sahib that are inscribed on the doorways.

The nightly prayer ceremony that takes place inside is televised worldwide for Sikhs. Everyday a healthy meal is prepared and distributed to the tens of thousands of pilgrims. This meal is known as Langar. Today, the Golden temple is one of the most socially and religiously revered structures in the world and an essential element of Indian culture.

About Ruchita Parat

Ruchita Parat is the founder of CEO of US Hindi Foundation (USHF) which was founded in 2006. She has started hindi learning program Jano Hindi. This program includes various activities that makes the learning process very easy for kids. USHF also conducts Camp Jano India that are very interactive and creative as well. Follow Us Here

Mar
22
2012

The Saga of QutabMinar

Standing tall at a height of 72.5m, Qutub Minar with its very long history is the highest tower in India and also one of its finest landmarks. There are different versions about the purpose for which it was built.The foundation was laid in 1199 byQutb-u’d-Din Aibak and he built the first storey. The other stories were built by his son in law and successor Shamsu’d-Din IItutmishbetween 1211 and 1236.There are inscriptions at the base of the minaret which say that Firoz Shah Tughlak added the last storey in 1368. Apart from that there are other Arabic inscriptions on the Qutub Minar depicting its history. One story goes that Qutub Minar was built as tower of victory to declare the might of Islam, while another view is that it might have been made as a tower of defence.The lower three storeys of the minaret are made mainly of red and buff sandstone and white marble is used in the top two stories.According to the inscriptions on its surface it was repaired by Firuz Shah Tughlaq (AD 1351-88) and Sikandar Lodi (AD 1489-1517) when the Minar received some damage because of earthquakes on more than a couple of occasions. It is recorded that Major R.Smith also undertook repairs and restored the minar in 1829.Seen from most parts of the city, the Qutub Minar Qutab Minar in Delhi is among the tallest and famous towers in the world.

About Ruchita Parat

Ruchita Parat is the founder of CEO of US Hindi Foundation (USHF) which was founded in 2006. She has started hindi learning program Jano Hindi. This program includes various activities that makes the learning process very easy for kids. USHF also conducts Camp Jano India that are very interactive and creative as well. Follow Us Here

Mar
13
2012

Cooking Projects – What are we cooking this time??

I have always been mesmerized by how 5 senses impact our lives. Taste, being one of the important one possess the miraculous ability to transport us to a memory of the past. It could be taste of pipping hot gujia, a savory bite of maa ke hhath ka khana (food cooked by mother), hot cup of tea in a drizzly evening, or even a hint of minty toothpaste, our mind just cheats us and for few moments, we find ourselves wandering in a forgotten memory lane, trying to soak up that experience once again, until we come back, the next time.  What a fantastic way of traveling through the  past. I have always been a complete foodie, spending any chance i could get, thinking about food. The taste of veggies cooked in panch-phoron (Bengali 5-spices)  & mustard oil reminds me of my childhood. The taste of fresh pedas  takes me back to the years spent in Bengal and list just goes on…. I always have my own small cookery show every-time I cook. I can’t help it, the moment i start cooking, i start talking about the recipe……It has always been a subject of mockery whenever our family meets. Still, I refuse to change……………..

I was very excited when we deiced to include cooking projects in our camp. We extensively researched and developed kid-friendly recipes. India being such a diverse nation, is, a gold mine of delicious local delicacies. We wanted recipes which has less ingredients, shorter cooking time and does not require a gas stove or high tech electronic gadgets. Reminds me of an old ‘Maggie’ tagline – “Fast to cook & good to eat”. That’s what we wanted. During our trial periods I thoroughly  trying out recipes and tasting them. All our efforts were paid off when we saw the excitement and enthusiasm of kids, during the first cooking project. They wanted more of that experience. Here i can say, from that day onwards whenever they came in the morning, the first question used to be – “What are we cooking today”? Though they were all following steps told by the teacher, but they had created there own little  ‘Master Chef’ contest. Trying to be the best, following each step perfectly, trying to set up a beautiful plate. It was hands down one of a kind experience for them.

Little Master Chef!!

What's cooking?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This project also showed me another side of a little one, Commitment & Responsibility. We had a 5 year old last year, who was allergic to peanuts, any other nuts, milk, soy and eggs. It breaks my heart to see a kid having so many allergic restrictions. In that camp, we chose to cook the recipes that did not include peanuts, any other nuts, milk or soy.  He told us that he would make the recipes but will not eat any as his dad had asked him not eat any outside food to due to his allergies. We repeatedly told him that he can eat these recipes, but he did not. He did cook all the recipes enthusiastically with everyone and always took his share for his father……. 5 year old and so responsible….. it’s so impressive. The astonishing part was that on the feedback he wrote that his favorite project was ‘cooking’…

Peda was the opening recipe of our cooking project. There is a small story behind this one too…. As it’s a sweet recipe i was being kept on the last day. I got to know, that, there is a fantastic recipe kept for Monday and I will not be able to eat it as it’s my fast. Being a foodie this was not acceptable to me…..Among our all recipes  ‘Peda’ was the only one that I could eat on my fasting day. I requested my director to keep ‘Peda’ for Monday project and remove that recipe for some other day. And Peda-Project became our perfect sweet & rewarding start. As Holi just swung by, I am shairing  Peda recipe taught in our camp……….. Join your little ones in the kitchen it’s cooking time…..

Recipe – Peda       

Ingredients (Samagri)

1 cup khoya (room temperature)
½ cup powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon cardamom powder
Sliced pistachio for decoration
Food color (optional)

Method (Vidhi)

Step 1
Crush the khoya with your hands so that there are no lumps

Step 2
Start pressing it with the back of your palms until it turns into a smooth dough

Step 3
Mix the sugar, food color and cardamom powder into the khoya and knead it for about a minute until everything blends together

Step 4
Divide the mix into about 10 equal parts and roll them into round balls. Lightly press it down so it looks like small patty.

Step 5
Decorate them with any nuts of your choice

 

We have more fabulous recipes to share in our camps this year. Looking forward to having great fun while cooking and tasting these recipes. This year too, taste of few old recipes is going to walk me through the memory lane of last year’s Camp Jano India

Mar
5
2012

Let’s Explore India with Unique Themes

It has been warm for last two days, spring is already here and summer is eagerly waiting for it’s turn. I absolutely enjoy summer, as it’s all about ‘fun’ with so many colorful veggies, fruits, farmers market, summer vacations, beach trips, trips to farms loaded with colorful fruits, swimming & many more things to do. For me everything & every activity just screams …FUN… Kids have another name for fun during summer ‘SUMMER CAMPS‘ !! As summer is approaching parents are busy finding camps for their kids. I see my friends and colleagues looking at different options and try to fit the best ones in their schedules. All this effort in order to plan a summer filled with fun & knowledge for their little ones.

While growing up I was fortunate to live in different states of India like West Bengal, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, & Uttranchal. One thing that always amazes me about India is, that you travel just 500-1000miles and you can see such a vast change is language, food, spices, culture, art, historical monuments, mythological stories almost everything changes. It’s just amazing how much India has to offer.

Being in marketing, I take part in different community events & camp fairs during this season. I am always amazed to see such brilliant options out there for kids of all ages. Over the years we have always found a need for a camp where kids can reconnect with their Indian roots and have loads of fun while doing that. From there we got the idea idea to bring a unique camp ”JANO INDIA” for kids. We wanted kids living in United States to explore India and find out why India has been such a fascinating land for foreigners.

In order to take the children on a journey of India, our camps have been beautifully crafted into different themes. These themes touch different aspects that make Indian culture so rich & desirable. Each & every theme is creatively woven into a series of projects, art, craft & theatre to make the children truly appreciate India. As a bonus, each camp ends with a play in Hindi which has woven into it the various cultural elements for that week! The themes for this year are – Incredible India, Celebrate India & I love India.

Incredible India – Depicts historical and modern day monuments located in different states of India. We try and cover all parts of India so that children can relate to them. Mohanjodaro, Nalanda University, India Gate, Tajmahal, Meenakshi Temple, Belur Math to name a few. Along with that it covers physical dynamics of India located in that area such as important rivers, desserts and the great plains.

Celebrate India – Covers popular festivals such as Diwali, Holi, Pongal, Onam, Durga Pooja etc. It also showcases how India being a land of such diverse cultures has embraced other cultures of the world. Children will be encouraged to recreate the ambiance of those special occasions and thus learn of their significance.

I Love India – Covers famous Indian people like Gandhiji, Rajendra Prasad, Rani Lakshmibai, Shivaji, Indira Gandhi and other leaders. All coming from diverse yet simple backgrounds and going on to become such great icons. This unique camp has a fantastic way of inspiring children that they will experience once they are here.

Try to find out who is the young boy who grew up to become such an iconic figure??

For any parent who want their kids to appreciate India and want to send them to a journey of India without booking air tickets, “CAMP JANO INDIA” is the way to go….. http://www.camperregsecure.com/eduhindilogin/index.php?cmd=ViewAll

Will write more about my experiences at this amazing Camp. Till then ‘phir milen-gay’……..

Mar
5
2012

Holi: Religious Myths and Legends

The Hindu festival of Holi was once just a celebration of spring, but it has greatly evolved and come to represent a number of other Hindu legends. Holi is celebrated over two days during the months of February or March, depending on the last full moon day of the winter season. The festival is a celebration of the coming of spring and is one of the few times of the year that the traditional caste system in India is ignored. Known commonly as the Festival of Colors, it is celebrated in energetic fashion by the communal smearing of colorful paints on each other and the throwing of colored powders and dyes into the air with abandon.

One of the main Holi myths associated with the festival is the story of the female demon Holika. Holika’s brother was a demon king whose son was a devoted worshiper of Vishnu. When the king asked his son who was greater, him or his god, his son answered that Vishnu was greater as his father was merely a king. This angered the demon king who tried in vain to kill his traitorous son. When he failed, he went to his sister for her help in destroying his son. The gods had given Holika a powder that would protect her from fire, so she devised a plan to use this gift to help her brother. She carried her nephew into a bonfire, expecting the fire to burn him but leave her untouched. The gods punished this evil by removing the power from the powder, leaving her to burn and her nephew unharmed.

The demon king continued to try and kill his son much to the anger of Vishnu, but the great god could not kill the king without meeting certain requirements. A deal struck with Brahma, the god of creation, meant that no man, beast, god or demon could kill the demon king. He could not be killed in the morning or at night, and he could be killed neither indoors nor outdoors. In an elaborate scheme, Vishnu turned himself into a half lion, half man creature known as Lord Narasimha. Being neither beast nor man, Lord Narasimha attacked the demon king at twilight, which was neither night nor day. The attack took place in the doorway to the king’s courtroom, neither inside nor out.

But all darkness aside, Holi is a celebration of life, unity and fun. People take to the streets to dance, sing and cover each other in a vibrant array of colors. Not only does it symbolize the togetherness of a quickly growing country, this notion of unity manifests itself in the lighthearted frolicking enjoyed by men, women and children all across the country.

About Ruchita Parat

Ruchita Parat is the founder of CEO of US Hindi Foundation (USHF) which was founded in 2006. She has started hindi learning program Jano Hindi. This program includes various activities that makes the learning process very easy for kids. USHF also conducts Camp Jano India that are very interactive and creative as well. Follow Us Here