The Life of Mahabalipuram – My Book Writing Journey

When I did on-site research for my book, I encountered a rich variety of kind, erudite, and passionate people. No book (or anything, really) is a solitary process, and the people whom I spoke to and took pictures of helped me greatly. They were generous with their time and help, so it is only fair that I acknowledge that more explicitly than I did in my book. [Read more…]

Danish India: The Castaway Raj

While Britain, France, and Holland struggled desperately to get into India, one European nation was struggling desperately to get out. [Read more…]

French India: The Lion’s Crown of Thorns

The English had been in India for half a century when Jean-Baptiste Colbert established, with the enthusiastic support of the same Cardinal Richelieu whom Dumas has made so famous in The Three Musketeers, the French East India Company (la Compagnie française pour le commerce des Indes orientales), headed by François Caron, a Huguenot exile who had spent thirty years in the employ of the VOC. [Read more…]

British India: The Making of the Indo-Europeans

In the decades following Plassey, the East India Company’s armies overran approximately half of all Indian territory and brought the majority of its population under Company governance. Unprepared for administration, the EIC largely depended on local officials and patterned its policy on local precedent, farming out the collection of taxes to Indian agents who, as they had done under the Mughals, kept a share of their collections. This disordered state of affairs left the Company largely powerless to respond when famine struck Bengal in 1769. Between seven and ten million people—between one quarter and one third of the district’s population—perished without any response from officials. It was the first of many episodes that would be burned into the long memory of India. [Read more…]

Indian India: The City That Did Not Burn

If the declaration of the British government in 1946 that India would be granted full independence seemed to many Britons the passing of their Empire, it fell upon the ears of the Portuguese on the Subcontinent as a death sentence. While France, free from England’s desire for her to retain her Indian holdings, quickly negotiated their transfer to the new Indian Union, the government in Lisbon declared that the province of Goa on the southwestern coast, which they had ruled for four and half centuries, was not a colony but an integral part of metropolitan Portugal, and that its transfer was non-negotiable. [Read more…]

Vedas – Text from Ancient India

Vedas are the primary source of all knowledge, both spiritual and mundane.  The Vedas were originally an oral transmission, handed down from teacher to disciple for many centuries.  The Vedas form the basis of all subsequent Indian thought and philosophy.  The Vedas cannot be studied without the Vedangas, which are six in number. [Read more…]

Indian Classical Carnatic Music

Carnatic music, known as karnataka sangitam (in Indian languages) is the classical music that originated in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu and Kerala i.e southern part of India. [Read more…]

Peepal tree weds Neem tree

The Peepal tree which is called Ashvattha in sanskrit should get married to Neem tree. Both of them are generally grown together or in some cases it is a coincidence that a neem tree raises where exactly the Peepal tree grows. [Read more…]

Varalakshmi Vratam – A Woman’s Prayer

The Hindu festival Varalakshmi Vratam is celebrated on second Friday of Sravanamasam that is, in the month of July – August. It is a festival to propitiate the goddess Lakshmi, the consort of Vishnu, one of the Hindu trinity. Varalakshmi is one who grants boons (varam).

Varalakshmi Vratam

It is said that Lakshmi will enter the house of anyone who thinks of her and bless them. There are many festivals in the year dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi. Among them, Varalakshmi Vratham is considered very auspicious because it is marked by strict observance of certain practices and austerities. It is also called Varalakshmi Nomu. It is more significant for newly married woman. On this special day, they clean the place tidy and there they place a wooden plank. On that they place rice with turmeric, on top of it they place Kalasam(representing the deity). Lakshmi being consort of Vishnu loves Allamkarana, so decorating her with as many flowers is part of puja.

History of Varalakshmi Vratam
In the kingdom of Magadha of Yore, there lived a Brahmin woman named Charumathi in a town named Kundina. The prosperous town was the home of Charumathi and her husband. Impressed by her devotion to her family, Goddess Mahalakshmi appeared in her dream and asked her to worship Varalakshmi(Vara= boon, lakshmi= Goddess of wealth) and seek to fulfill her wishes. Varalakshmi is yet another form of Lord Vishnu’s consort. When Charumathi explained her dream to her family, she found them encouraging her to perform the pooja. Many other women of the village joined her in performing the pooja in a traditional way and offered many sweet dishes to the Goddess Varalakshmi. they prayed with deep devotion.

”Padmaasane Padmakare sarva lokaika poojithe Narayana priyadevi supreethaa bhava sarvada“

On this occasion women worship Goddess Lakshmi with utmost devotion offering sweets and flowers, usually a kalasam (representing the deity) will be decorated with a saree, flowers and gold jewelry with offerings placed in front.

The name Vishnu really means pervading everywhere, and Lakshmi, his consort, is symbolical of the forces found everywhere. Eight forces or energies are recognized and they are known as Sri (Wealth), Bhu (Earth), Sarasvati (Learning), Priti (Love), Kirti (Fame), Santi (Peace), Tushti (Pleasure) and Pushti (Strength). Each one of these forces is called a Lakshmi and all the eight forces are called the Ashta Lakshmis or the eight Lakshmis of the Hindus. As health, wealth and prosperity depend upon the rythmic play of these forces, the worship of Lakshmi is said to be to obtain these three. Hence this festival is observed, invoking the blessings of Lakshmi.

Colorful and Rich Gujarati Wedding Rituals

Gujarati’s are believed to stand highly committed to their customs and beliefs of the community. The values are deeply rooted and they present a different picture of customs and traditions practiced. The magnificent touch and exuberant ways Gujarati celebrate their rituals are worth mentioning. Especially the enthusiasm in rejoicing wedding customs takes a high toll. This article specifically talks about plethora of rituals practiced in Gujarati Wedding. [Read more…]