Author Lavina Melwani

Lavina Melwani is a New York-based journalist who writes for several international publications. [email protected] & @lassiwithlavina Sign up for the free newsletter to get your dose of Lassi!

Little Black Book: Events International guests at India@70
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There have been many celebrations for India’s big 70th year of Independence but perhaps one of the liveliest – and most delicious – was at the United Nations, organized by India’s Permanent Mission to the UN. When you have an army of skilled Indian dancers and musicians and an arsenal of spicy Indian street foods, how can you not succeed?

Music Chandrika Tandon's 'Shivoham - The Quest'
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It seems wholly appropriate that Grammy-nominated artist Chandrika Tandon has released the first track of her new album Shivoham – the Quest, in August, the month of Ganesh Chaturthi, the birth of the beloved God of New Beginnings.

Lifestyle Watching over the clay pots in Saket - Photo: Lavina Melwani
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The tea had a special earthy flavor in this cup and the fact that the clay container would once again become one with nature seemed a beautiful idea. After all, aren’t ancient civilizations traced out by the clay remains of their days?

Our civilization of course will probably be remembered by the piles of plastic containers and garbage stuffed landfills we will leave behind! So the idea of the reborn clay utensils really appealed to me.

Faith Ganesh Chaturthi celebrates the birth of Lord Ganesha or Ganpati
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This isn’t Kashi or Prayag but thousands of devotees clog the streets, dancing and chanting as Ganesha’s Ratha Yatra takes place – in Queens, New York. Yes, this pilgrimage spot happens to be in Flushing, Queens, and people came to celebrate Ganesha Chaturthi from as far as California, Florida, Texas, Atlanta – and even India!

It is Lord Ganesha’s birthday and everyone is invited to this giant block party. Over 50,000 lunches are prepared; there are hundreds of pounds of sweets and hundreds of gallons of rose milk. About 20,000 people turn up over the course of nine days at the Hindu Temple Society of North America. (Photo: Chirag D. Shah)

Lifestyle New York City model
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Her transformation from an “It” Style Girl to a Buddhist nun is so complete that people who knew her earlier do a double-take. She admits, “It was hard at first because your sense of identity is tied to how you look and your look determines your self-worth. As a renunciate you shave your head, use no makeup, perfume or high heels – but the beauty of wisdom that adorns you is far more beautiful than any couture dress.”

Faith More young Indian-Americans are turning to spirituality
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Would you be willing to give up your life, your family and your name? Would you renounce love, marriage and parenthood forever? Could you live with the prospect of never seeing your father and mother again?

Bhavesh Choksi, 27, has done exactly that.

This high-achieving young Indian-American, forsaking all, has taken ‘diksha’, monastic vows, and is on his way to becoming a swami in BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, a socio-spiritual Hindu organization. For those of us still embroiled in the trappings of the material world, this decision can be wrenching. Breaking all ties with his past life and giving up even the smallest of luxuries, he is turning his back on what most people fight tooth and nail for. Bhavesh is following his dream, walking into a joyous light which most of us cannot even comprehend. He is obtaining ‘moksha’ and guiding others to find it too.

People Miss Cornelia Sorabji
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Today we have thousands of Indian women lawyers, both in India and the Diaspora. But how lonely and frustrating must it have been to be the first and to try and change society?
We pay tribute to the one who started it all, and won the right for women to stand up in court and argue a case. Cornelia Sorabji- India’s first woman lawyer.

Food Articles Surbhi Sahni at Gracie Mansion
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How do you create sweet things and also sweeten life for others? Ask Surbhi Sahni – the mithaiwalli of New York. A Michelin-starred chef, she recently became the pro-bono Director of the Tiffin Project operated by the nonprofit organization SAPNA NYC through which low-income South Asian immigrant women train for marketable jobs in the culinary industry.

Faith Janamashtmi celebrates the birth of Krishna
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Lord Krishna is the Cosmic Cowherd, the mischievous deity that Hindus love the most for his pranks, for his butter-thievery, for his melodious flute, for his romantic interludes with Gopis, the milkmaids.
He fought demons, danced on the mighty serpent’s head and lifted Govardhana Hill with his little finger, using it as an umbrella to protect the people from torrential rains.

Faith Raksha Bandhan
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One of the most anticipated festivals in the Hindu calendar is Rakhi or Raksha Bandhan, the Festival of Threads. This is the day when brothers and sisters renew their bonds and sisters receive money and gifts from their brothers. Now which little girl can argue with that? Lucky are the sisters who have several brothers!

Indeed, if you are Hindu and have a brother, no matter where you are, you will try to meet up with him on Raksha Bandhan which falls this year on August 29. This is an ancient Hindu festival which occurs in the month of shravan on the full moon. Sisters pray for their brothers health and well-being, tying the sacred Rakhi thread on their wrists, and brothers pledge to protect their sisters.

The Buzz “At the President’s insistence, Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes brought his daughter Ella by for a visit. As she was crawling around the Oval Office, the President got down on his hands and knees to look her in the eye.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
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These are the littlest citizens and they seem to have a real hold on President Obama, and he on them. Look at these charming images clicked by Peter Souza, the Chief Official White House photographer and you’re bound to smile. The most powerful man in the world and Commander-in-chief of a mighty nation can baby-talk, snuggle and hug and cuddle and exchange high-fives with the best of them.

Food Articles A sea of red onions
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Warning: Do NOT Separate an Indian from his Onions! It’s the one ingredient that no self-respecting desi cook would want to be without; whether you are whipping up a Mughal feast or a poor man’s meal – onions are absolutely necessary. In fact, a shortage of onions can cause a near revolution in India!

The Buzz Kamala-Harris-2
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A law degree has been the avenue for a number of Indian-American women who have done very well in corporate America and private legal practice. It has also been the building block for a handful of strong women who have entered public life via this route as judges, attorney generals and lawyers in the public sphere, this having an impact on the lives of ordinary citizens.

Cinema Lipstick Under my Burkha
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f you’re a woman, ‘Lipstick Under my Burkha’ will certainly speak to you, no matter whether you’re a big city girl or a small town woman. After all, we all may not have worn physical burkhas, but nearly every woman has had to wear a mental burkha – a metaphorical confinement, a cover to who she really is.

Features The Maharaja and his family
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Indeed, the maharajas had an appetite for every kind of jewelry: when the British refused to let them wear western-style crowns, they simply wore tiaras over their turbans!

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