Feb
20
2013

Jano Bee 2013 Press Release

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Feb
15
2013

Saree: An Enticing Indian Woman’s Dress

Traditional Saree From India

Probably one of the oldest attires ever invented in India, Saree is the traditional outfit of most Indian women, beautiful, enchanting and comfortable at the same time. An unstitched length of fabric, usually six to nine yards long is draped around the body to gracefully decorate the female form. Worn with traditional or modern jewellery, and matched with a lovely blouse, the beauty and grace of a saree is second to no other Indian outfit.

Thanks to the advent of fashion, the saree has undergone several changes over the years, in the manner in which it is draped around the body. Those new to this Indian garb would probably be amazed to know that this six yards length of fabric can be worn in a zillion ways, with each community and region in India having their own style of draping it.

Traditional Indian Saree

Women In Indian Costume

In the western state of Maharashtra for example, the traditional saree form is called navvari which literally translates to nine yards. This form of saree looks like a man’s dhotifrom behind and looks extremely beautiful worn with traditional gold or pearl jewellery, especially the nose pin. In Gujarat the saree is worn with pleats in the front facing the right. Pleats are made by gathering a portion of the saree and folding it symmetrically into small sections. It is worn with apetticoat which is a waist-to-floor garment, tied tightly at the waist by a drawstring. The pallu which a section of the is worn over the right shoulder in Gujarat and Rajasthan, unlike in many other states where it is draped over the left shoulder. In Bengal the saree is draped around the body without any pleats, due to the influence of strong traditions and a simple lifestyle. Towards south, in Coorg, the Saree is pleated at the back and forms a fan at the rear, witha small section of the Pallu tucked in.

Irrespective of the style of draping it, the saree is one of the most beautiful and elegant outfits which is now also doing the rounds of international ramps.

Feb
7
2013

Jano Hindi Bee 2013

imagesLast Sunday while gazing through the farmers market I stumbled upon a booth with Vivekananda’s picture on it. Moreover the text ‘Bee’ caught my attention. Being an active member of ‘Jano Bee’ I was curious to find out more and to my utter amazement it turned out to be a ‘Vedanta Bee’. While discussing about their concept, I was introduced to one of the organizers and I found out his daughter was studying Hindi in one of our Hindi classes. What a small world!! The father was very excited about this year’s ‘Jano Hindi Bee’ competition and was happy about the changes in the structure of the competition. I always feel motivated whenever i meet enthusiastic parents like this.

On my way back, I was drawn to the memory lane of last year’s Jano Bee Competition and how we have come a long way. The idea of Hindi Bee sprouted form the constant persuasion of parents to involve more conversation in our classes. We knew that understanding the meaning of what we speak is a major part of conversation and kids here are not exposed to Hindi as much as English & Spanish. Finally we zeroed upon the idea of building their vocabulary. In lower levels they would only learn meanings of the Hindi words and moving forward in higher levels they will keep on building vocabulary as well as start using those words in meaningful sentences. Which definitely makes more sense as then the whole platform of making sentences and using those words anywhere is available rather than just learning a bunch of conversation sentences. Hence, Jano Hindi Bee came into existence in 2012.

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Welcome Speech Jano Bee 2012

The best thing about past is, after passing by it gives us a chance to improve. Constant improvement is very important for any kind of growth be it personal, organizational or spiritual. Despite of having a great response during ‘Jano Hindi Bee 2012’ we saw there is a lot of room for improvement.

LOCATION: We decided to change our Bee location to a school so that we have a big area. We couldn’t think of a better place than our summer camp location Scott Lane Elementary School, Santa Clara. Location change will give us the freedom to conduct the competition in separate rooms for each group of 10-12 contestants. It will provide ample seating area for parents watching the competition. Hopefully it will also give more serenity to the judges.

5 WORD ELIMINATION: We were not very excited about the 1 word elimination on the final day. It made us re-think our competition structure. A kid learning 200 vocabulary words is eliminated just because he/she does not know 1 meaning seemed unfair and heartbreaking to us. This ain’t a college entrance exam, our main idea is to help them

build their vocabulary and in the process have a healthy competition where they can rewarded for their endeavors. We decide to have ‘5 WORD ELIMINATION’ where kids will get 5 words in 5 turns and then based on the scores lowest scorer will be eliminated which our panel agreed to is fair.

 TIE ROUNDS: Believe it or not last year our final round for Div 1 with only 10 contestants went on for over an   hour. The kids were sooo good!!! Hats DSC_7858off to them, their teachers and their parents. They knew the meanings of entire vocabulary words and all the tie words. At one point we were sure that we might have more than 3 winners. This was a huge learning for us and we removed the concept of giving the tie words to the kids. This year we have include reading and writing rounds respectively for Tie1 and Tie 2. The limitations of these rounds are base upon the level they are in their Hindi class. It fits perfect with our Hindi class curriculum as kids are learning the script in class.

 

Kids are busy preparing for the competition and we are just 7 weeks away from our ‘Jano Hindi Bee’- 2013, which is on Saturday, March 23rd. We await eagerly for the final Bee day, meanwhile we are keeping ourselves busy with finalizing all the minute details of the competition. Don’t forget to be there to cheer these young contestants in their process of mastering Hindi…

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Left: Youngest Bee participant, 4.5 years old

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The Perks

 

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.

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.

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.