As a journalist, I’ve always been intrigued by the unique experiences, sights and sounds of individual lives, a billion stories waiting to be told. Immigrants who’ve traveled to a new country always have their idiosyncratic cache of memories, of a past which belongs only to themselves.
ow does a 21st century, modern Indian transform himself into a 19th century British Raj clerk, a servant of Queen Victoria?
In ‘Victoria and Abdul’ the story of an unusual friendship between Queen Victoria and her Indian servant Abdul Karim, this was the challenge for Ali Fazal, boy from Lucknow, Bollywood actor from Mumbai who had done a cameo in ‘Fast and Furious’.
2723 people reached on Lassi with Lavina Jeeva Patro, Pinky Niki and 94 others like it on Lassi with Lavina…
“It is almost criminal in Calcutta to start any discussion around this time without a reference to the shopping done for the upcoming festival ‘Dasherra’ or ‘Pujo’. This is a time not only of shopping for your wardrobe but for the entire battalion of extended family. It is a time to give and receive gifts. The markets thrive and throb during these months and when the festival is over it’s almost as if a war has just got over! And so our conversation began with my mother-in-law and Maashi exchanging notes on each other’s bargains, new styles and various other subjects associated with ‘Pujo’.
Anyone who is familiar with wearing or buying ‘sarees’ will know the challenges of finding an ace tailor to make a perfect blouse to go with the coveted piece of new garment. A blouse gone wrong could prove to be disastrous to the festive spirit of looking perfect; it could dampen the entire annual celebration and hence the rest of the year! A good blouse is an imperative for a Bengali wrapped in Tangail, Tant or other special saris.”
Guest Blog – Chatty Divas
They spin round and round, going faster and faster, but never breaking the sacred circle, as they clap their hands rhythmically, dancing around the Garba or earthen pot. They smile as they twirl around for in these nine nights they are celebrating the Goddess that is enshrined in all of us.
This hugely empowering dance is called the Garba and it is the centerpiece of the celebration of the Hindu festival of Navratri or Nine Nights.
With the upcoming holiday season begins the Indian community’s tryst with tradition in America. Both Garba and Dandiya Raas, folk dances, have found their way to America and everyone from heart surgeons to hip-hop kids are taking to the large dandiya raas arenas during the festival of Navrati which heralds a season of upcoming festivals from Dusshera to Diwali. How has the interaction with America changed Garba and Dandiya Raas?
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.
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)
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.”
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.
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.
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.
Once in a blue moon, these stars descend to earth and actually come and mingle – somewhat – with the common man, the diehard fan. This happened in the hot month of July, when IIFA came to New York and New Jersey with a whole gaggle of stars from Salman Khan to Katrina Kaif to Alia Bhatt.
Jyotsna Singh, grand-daughter of the Maharaja of Patiala, recalls a bygone time: “Naniji was exceedingly beautiful and at a young age she was married to Maharaja Bhupinder Singh and had two daughters Elsie (my mother) and Angela (her younger sister). The English names were given by the English governesses who could not pronounce the Indian names of the children. And there were a lot – 52 siblings, a pack of cards my mother would tell me…..Though the mothers lived at the palace and spent time with the children, the children were really brought up by the governesses. My grandfather lived in the main Motibagh Palace with his wives and his older children.”
I came to the US in the 80’s, as an immigrant via India, Hong Kong and Africa, and landed in Astoria, a gritty Greek neighborhood in Queens. I fell in love with the prosaic neighborhood with its heart of gold, and it was here that I discovered my own private America.The part which never fails to amaze me is that when I take the N subway from Manhattan to Astoria – glancing at my fellow passengers I see a virtual United Nations – Latinos, Chinese, South Asians, Blacks, whites all wedged together, sitting side by side on the Great American Journey. If Lady Liberty was to see them, she would definitely shed a tear – because this is exactly what America is all about. And on this day after the Fourth of July, with the firecrackers still ringing in our ears – we can say amen to that.
What can you, an immigrant who came with nothing but a battered suitcase filled with bits and pieces of a disappeared life, offer this new country? What gift can you give America on its Independence Day celebration? A Punjabi immigrant love story.