Category Archives: Celebrations

Pitru Paksh (पितृ पक्ष), when we are one with our ancestors

Pitru Paksh (पितृ पक्ष), when we are one with our ancestors

Yesterday, my author friend – Edward J from LA called to tell me about an Author’s Conclave in LA at the year-end and was just checking on me about my book. (Life-An Existential Cocktail). During the conversation, he mentioned “Ganpati Celebrations” in Mumbai, I was pleasantly surprised at that. He mentioned that he has friends from Mumbai in LA, and now I was not surprised.

Edward further asked me, “Which festival next?” I replied, “Not really a festival but now we have Pitru Paksha coming up for the next 16 days.” This made him curious and he wanted to know about this period in detail. As an author, Edward is a keen observer and curious soul.

I told him, “During this time, Hindus pay tribute to their ancestors for the repose of their souls. Pitru Paksha holds a special significance in Hinduism. In Pitru Paksha or Shradh Paksha, Pind Daan, Tarpan, and Shradh is performed for the peace of departed souls.”  

Elaborating further, I added, “PitruPaksha (Sanskrit: पितृ पक्ष, Pitṛ pakṣa; lit. “fortnight of the ancestors”) is a 16–lunar day period in the Hindu calendar when Hindus pay homage to their ancestors (Pitrs), especially through food offerings. The period is also known as Pitri Paksha/Pitr-Paksha, Pitri Pokkho, Sorah Shraddha (“sixteen shraddhas”), Kanagat, Jitiya, Mahalaya, Apara Paksha and akhadpak, Pitru Pandharavda or pitru paksh.

I am not sure, how much did he understand what I told him, but he had many more questions about this period, which is unique to Hinduism. 

I present here in this article what all transpired during our conversation.

There is a certain ethos we follow, which ascertains our continuance as the civilization of the world. Pitru Paksha is one of those, which begins on the Pratipada (first day of the fortnight) ending with the no moon day known as Sarvapitri Amavasya, Pitri Amavasya, Peddala Amavasya, Mahalaya Amavasya. The end of Pitru Paksha and the beginning of Matri Paksha is named Mahalaya.

Pitru Paksha is considered by Hindus to be inauspicious, given the death rite performed during the ceremony, known as Shraddha or Tarpana. It is not considered appropriate to buy new things, start a new business or undertake any social celebration like marriage, etc. Oftentimes, we have also heard that we shouldn’t buy anything prominent, including a house or a vehicle, during Pitru Paksha.  This doesn’t in any way mean that Pitru Paksha is bad, a time to remain mournful and not perform any good actions.

This ritual about Pitru Paksha has been framed by our ancestors so that we can forge a cosmic connection with our ancestors and stay in their remembrance. The purpose is to divert our attention from the attractions of the material world and connect ourselves with the subtle realm, the plane belonging to our ancestors. These 16 days of Pitru Paksha have been fixed so that we may spend some time for our ancestors, with dedication and reverence. This way we see that it is not an inauspicious period, but a way to live in the divine presence of our ancestors.

We Hindus believe that Shraddha of ancestors performed during this period grants peace and salvation (moksha) to our ancestors, which makes it a festival of celebration, contrary to the popular belief.

This has been mentioned in the holy writings of the Gita and the Vedas, which say, offerings made to the departed during Pitru Paksha bring peace to their souls and helps them reach their divine destination. Thus, making it a cause of happiness for the current generation.

Hence, the current generation repays their debt to their ancestors in the Pitru Paksha. This debt is considered of utmost importance along with a person’s debt to his gurus and his parents. The period to repay the debt of not only our immediate ancestors and their ancestors and their ancestors but of all those from whom the human race descended. We should be grateful to all of them who nurtured our forefathers with love and affection.

Performance of shraddh is a gateway of obeisance for the current generation. Hence, it is considered compulsory by Hindus, to ensure that the soul of the ancestor goes to heaven.

The scriptures preach that a householder should propitiate ancestors (Pitris), along with the gods (devas), elements (bhutas), and guests. The scripture Markandeya Purana says that if the ancestors are content with the shraddhas, they will bestow health, wealth, knowledge, and longevity, and ultimately heaven and salvation (moksha) upon the performer.

Suppose, one doesn’t know the right tithi of his forefathers to perform shraddha, he can do so on the last day – Sarvapitri Amavasya. Rites performed on this day can also compensate for a forgotten or neglected annual Shraddha ceremony, which should ideally coincide with the death anniversary of the deceased. According to Sharma, the ceremony is central to the concept of lineages. Shraddha involves oblations to three preceding generations – by reciting their names-as well as to the lineage ancestor (gotra). A person thus gets to know the names of six generations (three preceding generations, his own, and two succeeding generations -his sons and grandsons) in his life, reaffirming lineage ties. 

I hope author Edward Johnson got replies to all his questions on Pitru Paksha.

Information courtesy: Wikipaedia

Adieu 2021, Welcome 2022!

कठिन परीक्षाओं का साल

कभी पास, कभी फेल!

कभी संगीनियाँ, कभी खुशफहमियां

कोई पास, कोई दूर!

कभी शाबाशियां, कभी उदासीनता

कुछ पाया, कुछ खोया

क्या पाया, क्या खोया

कुछ समझ ना आया

मकड़ जाल सी उलझने

ना अंदर रह सको

ना बाहर ठहर सको

सिर्फ उधेड़ते, बुनते रहो

बीते वर्ष  का कोरोना गया नहीं और

ओमिक्रोण का स्वागत करना पड़ा

नए साल में, नयी सजधज के साथ

कब मिले निजात, कौन जाने

फिर भी नए वर्ष का उल्लास है

मन हर्षित है, साल बीत रहा है

कुछ देके, कुछ लेके, कुछ खो के

कुछ पाके, कुछ संजोके

२०२१ आंकड़ों पर शुरू हुआ

और आंकड़ों पर ही ख़तम हुआ

ज़िन्दगी ना हुई गणित हो गयी

गिनते चलो, चलते चलो, बढ़ते चलो

खुशियों के फूल खिले

आपके जीवन हजार

आये आपके जीवन में

हमेशा बहार ही बहार!

इसलिए मैं आपको देती हूँ

सबसे पहले

नये साल की शुभकामना

बार बार!

इसी सन्देश के साथ नए वर्ष २०२२ का अभिनन्दन!

Go for GREEN Celebration!

Weddings, Festivities and Anniversaries etc. are in full fervour nowadays. People are in the celebratory mode with the best possible means but not without a high lifestyle quotient. At the same time, they want a unique element to the celebration. Some are choosing off-beat destinations to celebrate their special day whereas some are opting for green rather ‘eco-friendly’ weddings in every possible way.

Couple Planting tress on their marriage

This growing consciousness towards the environment is a positive step towards ensuring earth’s sustainability. A small step leads to big outcomes.

Wedding being a once in a lifetime occasion, you want to certainly make it memorable even if you are opting for an ‘eco-friendly’ one. To achieve this, you can opt for potted plants from the nearby nursery instead of expensive floral decoration which becomes a waste after a few hours.  These plants can be retained in your lawns or that of your near and dear ones, once the celebration is over.

Similarly, wastage of food in the Indian wedding is the norm and no one seems to be minding it but it does horrible damage to your expenses, sensibilities and creates havoc for your surroundings. You can opt for organically grown vegetables in limited quantities and keep a backup plan ready for the leftovers. This will certainly help the environment.

Gifting, another important aspect of Indian weddings, this season choose to plant trees as per your might. If you plant a tree for each guest of yours, think how many trees can be planted? This way you can create a mini-forest which is a good value-addition to the green cover of the area. Termed as ‘Miyawaki Forest’, where native trees are planted close to each other so that when these grow up, a dense forest is created. What a beautiful gift it would be for your daughter and her generations who would inherit the greener earth?

Says noted Environmentalist Subhajit Mukherjee who has the credit of planting over 60,000 trees in and around Mumbai, “Miyawaki forests are very important for maintaining the biodiversity of the planet. Moreover, with growing pollution all over, every individual must make provision for his Oxygen by planting trees. You can make your celebrations truly valuable and relevant by planting trees on behalf of your guests. This would be an ideal gift for your grandchildren too.”

Subhajit Mukherjee in action…

Recently, Mumbai witnessed one such green wedding where the father of the bride Mr Parag Shah planted 150 trees on the occasion of his daughter Vidhi’s marriage for Miyawaki forest. Indeed, he is a role model in such times when weddings are such a big show-off of wealth. This is his way of gifting apparel to mother earth, the way we do for our near and dear ones.

Parag Shah

His love for trees is well-known and his relatives are also very pleased with his initiative. But we need more Parags now…

India witnesses nearly 1 crore weddings every year, imagine if every wedding plants just 10 trees, it would be leading to the planting of 10 crore trees which would be a phenomenal number.

The talks about global warming, climate change, increasing pollution and increasing carbon footprints are not just topics of discussion but are impacting our lives significantly. The day is not far, if we do not arrest these, we will have to face dire consequences. 

In case, if you too want to make your occasion green by planting trees, please feel free to connect with Mr Shubhajit Mukherjee (CEO Subhajit Mukherjee Foundation) who will most willingly and professionally organise this for you.

Imagine you gifting your daughter or son a Miyawaki Forest, which would be inherited by your grandchildren too. Can there be a bigger pleasure than this?

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Mobile No: 93239 42388


Jaipur set to host India’s first World Health and Wellness Fest-21

Dates: December 17-19, 2021

Venue: Hotel Clarks Amer, Jaipur

The World Health and Wellness Fest-21 majorly aims at advancing health and wellness. The event embraces the concept of expansion of holistic living, spiritual comfort and an unruffled way of life.

A highly impressive line-up of speakers at the World Health & Wellness Festival to witness HH Acharya Dr. Lokesh Muni, Ms. BK Shivani, Mr. Annu Kapoor, Ms. Padmini Kolhapure and Dr Mickey Mehta.   

Clarks Amer, Jaipur

Most keenly awaited festival by the health, fitness and wellness enthusiasts of the country to highlight the future of healthcare and financial situations post-COVID.  The festival will run on-ground from 17th – 19th December 2021 and the virtual sessions will go live simultaneously. It would be a one-of-its-kind hybrid event that will motivate one and all to start the new year in a healthy way.

The first list of illustrious speakers has been unveiled by the co-founders: Pt. Mukesh Bharadwaj, Mr. Nareshant Sharma and Mr. Mukesh Mishra, WHWF recently.   

The Key Speakers include:

  • HH Acharya Dr. Lokesh Muni, Founder Ahimsa Vishwa Bharti, Social Reformer & Spiritual Leader. Acharya Muni is a versatile thinker, writer, poet and social reformer and has been continuously making efforts in national character building, yoga meditation teacher and a spiritual guide & mentor.
  • BK Shivani, is a World-renowned spiritual speaker, practitioner, and teacher of Rajayoga Meditation which is taught at the Brahma Kumaris centres worldwide.
  • Annu Kapoor is a versatile Indian actor, singer, director, radio jockey and television presenter who has appeared in over a hundred films, as well as television series. 
  • Padmini Kolhapure is a veteran actor and singer, who has acted in several hit films.  
  • Dr Mickey Mehta, Global Leading Holistic Health Guru & Life Coach to billionaires, top Bollywood superstars and Supermodels.
  • Netrapal Singh, CEO, Aditya Birla housing finance is a veteran of the mortgage industry.
  • Mr. Anil Singhvi, Managing Editor, Zee Business & Well-Known financial Expert.
  • Dr. Vincent, World famous Consultant General/Hepatobiliary and Pancreas Surgeon, Royal College of Surgeons, England.
  • Dr Pramod Tripathi, Founder, Freedom From Diabetes, is known to be a pioneer of Diabetes Reversal in India
  • Ms Shabnam Siddiqui, Executive Director, United Nations Global Compact Network India, specializes in developing and executing strategic intervention.

Apart from the above-mentioned dignitaries Shri Shri Ravi Shankar, Founder, Art of Living and Sadguru, Founder, Isha Foundation have also been invited for this first-ever truly hybrid wellness extravaganza.

Mr Mukesh Mishra

“The idea behind WHWF revolves around the synergistic collection of constructive and compatible elements, which aim to encourage the core values of health and wellness that encompasses the multidimensional aspects of life”, announced Mr. Mukesh Mishra, Co-founder, World Health and Wellness Festival.

The Festival organised at Hotel Clarks Amer, Jaipur will have additional facilities to accommodate footfalls, besides following COVID 19 safety protocols as per government guidelines. The iconic event will present a series of breakout sessions featuring speakers and panellists from various countries, as well as key marketers and partners around the world including Ministers and senior-level guests from more than 20 countries.

Pt. Mukesh Bharadwaj

Pt. Mukesh Bharadwaj, co-founder shared, “Happiness and success are the two most important aspects of our lives, and it can be achieved only if all the four elements – physical, mental, social and spiritual are taken care of and kept in balance. WHWF would be catering to all four key extents.”

Mr Nareshant Sharma

Mr Nareshant Sharma, Co-Founder “We are sure that this event will be a grand and dynamic amalgamation of diverse ideas. We have curated the top investors, industry experts, and brand leaders & healers to explore how wellness and wellbeing may be harnessed to live longer, better lives.”

WHWF is a manifesto that shall exhibit numerous products, services and concepts to assist all on the path of comprehensive contentment.

The organizers have a background of the Jaipur Marathon, which was recognized by the World Book of Records. It is the only marathon in India where more than 15 world records were made in various categories since its inception. More than 1 lac runners participate in the Marathon every year.

WHWF is a manifesto that shall exhibit numerous products, services and concepts to assist all on the path of comprehensive contentment.

The HealthSpan Show, which will take place at the crossroads of two huge trends- longevity and wellness will bring together investors, industry experts, and brand leaders to explore how wellness and wellbeing may be harnessed to live longer, better life and the role that corporations, healthcare institutions and consumers may play in a global health change.

The inaugural, in-person & online event will run through December 17-18-19, 2021. The event will present a series of breakout sessions featuring speakers and panellists from various countries, as well as key marketers and partners around the world including Ministers and senior-level guests from more than 20 countries.

For further details, write to:

Jaipur Literature Festival 2021: A virtual extravaganza of books, ideas and dialogue

You would recollect that last year – 2020, I had brought Jaipur Literature Fest Live from Jaipur, presenting day-by-day, event-by-event account. It would not be possible this year for obvious reasons, but Virtual Version is no less with its very impressive line up of authors and speakers. 

The second day of ‘the greatest literary show on Earth’ featured sessions on fiction, film, food, feminism, biography, theology & much more which included sessions featuring novels that unblinkingly examined inequity across Indian society, the extravagant journey of perhaps one of the greatest filmmakers Bollywood has seen, the life and writings of the master of words, Dante, on the 700th anniversary of his death, along with a session that brought together a cross-section of voices and perspectives to understand feminism and its kaleidoscopic dimensions.

Annie Zaidi and Deepa Anappara, in conversation with Shahnaz Habib, spoke about their writing process, their exploration of the fiction genre and the source of their inspirations. At the session, supported by The JCB Prize for Literature, the authors spoke about the liberty that writing fiction allowed and how it helped them bring difficult stories from marginalised communities to the fore, allowing them to showcase different points of view, without having to approach the subject from a journalistic lens. Prelude to a Riot by Annie Zaidi is the disturbing narrative of two families, and charts the growth of religious intolerance, while Deepa Anappara’s debut novel, Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line, tells a haunting tale of heartbreak and the loss of innocence.

Bestselling author Simon Winchester discussed his latest book Land: How the Hunger for Ownership Shaped the Modern World, which traces the concept of land and its ownership from an anthropological perspective. In conversation with Raghu Karnad, Winchester spoke about the “bloody” history of land ownership, which he attributed to “capitalistic thought” and its mythical idea of land that dictates that once you own it, it’s yours, mostly because land had the capacity to yield money. “Land is proving to be no longer immutable,” he said, “We’re losing it to global warming and climate change and it may be slow but it is very noticeable.” Unfair, oppressive and fascinating ideas such as ‘Terra nullius’ (Latin for nobody’s land) were brought to light. The conversation traced political, religious and technological feats and shone light on everything from the history of race to ecological plights and how humankind’s connection with land has been elemental, contentious and necessary.

The session “Of the People, For the People” featured former Chief Election Commissioner of India, Navin Chawla, former Chairman of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Deshapriya, former Chief Election Commissioner of Bhutan, Dasho Kunzang Wangdi and Commissioner at the Election Commission of Nepal, Neel Kantha Uprety, in conversation with author Mukulika Banerjee. Together, they spoke about the process, achievements and challenges of the electoral process in their respective countries. Uprety talked about how the electoral system had played a big role in bringing the insurgents into the peace process in Nepal.

Deshapriya spoke of Sri Lanka being the first South Asian country to have gone through elections in the midst of a global pandemic. In response to a statement about many politicians having criminal records, Wangdi said that in Bhutan, candidates seeking election to the Parliament needed a university degree as well as a certificate that testified they did not have a criminal record. Chawla highlighted the sheer scale, the “secrecy of the ballot” and the quick delivery of results as among the strengths of an Indian Election. Another important aspect of the Indian system, he added, was that results had to be accepted by both losers and winners graciously.

“Conducting free and fair elections is the basic building block of any democracy. We took this process for granted until the US elections, where the transfer of power was not peaceful,” Banerjee commented.

The almost-mythical figures of the nationalist movement have always been surrounded by controversy and hold a revered status in the minds of many as they continue to influence the politics of today. Very rarely does a conversation revolving around the Partition not mention Nehru, Jinnah, and Gandhi; their political presence has played a key role in the formation of the modern-day understanding of India and Pakistan. Speaking at a session, Ishtiaq Ahmed, through his book ‘Jinnah: His Successes, Failures and Role in History’, aimed to debunk myths surrounding Pakistan’s Quaid-e-Azam. A well-known scholar of South Asian history and politics, Ahmed possesses an intricate understanding of partition studies, while his reliance on primary sources details his rigorous efforts to document true narratives.

Scholar and author Rupert Snell chatted with Harish Trivedi on his translation of the Bihari Satsai. Describing his long association with Biharilal’s compositions, Snell said that he was initially drawn to the playfulness of the poet’s language – the puns and alliterations attracted him to take on the translation. But he clarified that the book of his translation of the Satsai was only a “snapshot” of Bihari’s work and “not necessarily the final version”.

At a delightful session on feminism, writers Bee Rowlatt, Mariam Khan and Sabrina Mahfouz, shared their perspectives on feminism and why feminism in its present form must die to accommodate other versions of feminism. Rowlatt, who calls herself as a late emerging feminist, said that one could not get stuck to one idea of feminism and that feminism needed to be constantly reframed – I would compare feminism to a white shark that has to keep moving to get oxygen, otherwise it will die.” Mahfouz, however, was not quite hopeful if feminism within the framework of patriarchy and white supremacy could be challenged. “It is tough,” she said. In fact, she herself continues to struggle with multiple tags that people put on her identity. For example, people wonder how she is both a Muslim and a vegan!

Discussing prolific playwright and screenwriter Tom Stoppard, authors Chandrahas Choudhury and Hermione Lee uncovered many fascinating facts of Stoppard’s life. During the session supported by the Hawthornden Trust, Lee shared her feelings that through her writing she had found an artfulness that spoke to many different readers.


Circa 1997: August 18: Time: 3:20 PM And life took a 360 degree spin!

When you become Mom for the first time, there is a dramatic shift in your life, bringing forth with it a whole new, rather overwhelming emotions. You are not ‘YOU’ anymore, there is your little bundle of joy to care for, who needs your undivided attention and love. Being a mother is a full-time occupation: 365 x 24 x 7…

Traverse with me … my motherhood journey…

My folks (read: family & friends) were caught unawares when they received my wedding card, as I was the last to board the bus and people had already thought that I have missed the bus!

Now, it was my turn to be caught unaware when the doctor told me that I was on my family way after nearly 18 months of marriage. Though ours was a late marriage, still the topic of motherhood never popped up in our conversations. It was people around me who shot from their arsenal of advice: Why it is important, how I am losing time, how a woman’s life is not complete without children, what would society say, at least have one child, all this and more! Still, the idea never appealed me much, I was still wondering why it is so important to be a mom?

Finally, it beckoned…and my thought process started changing. After quite a hectic life which involved office work, files, meetings, events, exhibitions, conferences, tours…what not followed by matrimony, getting accustomed to a different life in a different city, in a different household (Gujarati) etc. etc. this was something which I was not prepared for. As for everybody, initial days were tough which were made tougher by the volley of advice from all quarters. Somehow, I sailed through with the help of my mother and motherly doctor – Dr Dastoor. ( I came to know she was my favourite Hema Malini’s gynaec too – what a coincidence)

Becoming the first-time mom is hard and a lot of hard work too. You are obsessed, anxious, worried, happy, angry, depressed, confused…several emotions at play simultaneously. Being the self-confessed fitness freak, it put a break to my regimen and I started gaining weight. As days progressed, the movement became restricted. As August approached, I became dead scared, petrified! The thought of going to hospital nearly killed me. As it had to happen, it happened.

When I doctor gave my baby in my arms, her cute little face, hands, legs …almost like a tiny bundle, I immediately forgot what all I had gone through. The result was out, which made me happy like almost all my results in life. But yes, it was a very different result. It brought a complete transition in me. Though every experience is a transition, I believe that moving into motherhood for the first time is monumental. After that, it’s, as goes the saying, “once a mom always a mom.”

This was one of the most challenging roles for me which had many Firsts attached to it, which attracted advice-givers from Woodwork (Not comfortable with advice). As goes the saying: Life moves on, mine too started moving like a roller-coaster ride, almost with equal ups and downs. The baby started showing spark – after all, whose baby? She was different or perceived differently, I can’t say. From the very beginning, I became quite ambitious about her, I consistently chased my dream to make her ‘Somebody’ who shined my name. Inherited my little/big legacy.

Now, my dreams had multiplied…more for her, some for me!

Life had become almost chaotic, there was practically no time for anything else, life moved around her and her only. Being a discipline-oriented person, my heart sometimes revolted but looking at her lovely face and bright eyes, I forgot it all.

One a day a Catholic friend of mine expressed it beautifully for me, “The chaos of your child will only last for few seasons anyway, and when you think about what your Thanksgiving table will look like in 20 years. It will be worth it.”

How right she was?

Today when I see the result of my hard work, I am happy and satisfied as Tanya has grown into a beautiful, intelligent, caring, loving, compassionate and concerned human being armed with a degree in the area of her choice. It is another story that we are as different individuals as a mother and daughter could be. But we have given space to each other to bloom and grow, she is supportive of my ‘mad’ activities and I am supportive of her ‘creative pursuits.’ It has been a journey of togetherness which had its share of challenges, still, an incredible journey.

Having a baby is possibly the hardest and most exhaustive thing any woman ever experienced, but ironically the most rewarding and amazing experience too.

Being a Work-Obsessed individual, God gave me an ‘Obsession’ of a lifetime.

Salute all mothers for the incredible role you play in life with elan. Let’s celebrate it ourselves if no one does!!

Happy Birthday, Doll…this is my birthday gift to you!!


#BreakTheSilence if you are not Free in Free India!

#SpeakUp #BreakTheSilence #FeelFree #ExerciseFreedom 

Tomorrow, when India celebrates 74th Independence Day, we travel back in time to our school days…early school days! It was celebratory mode all over, so was in our school (Read: KV ONE Bhopal) when all the children used to gather for Independence Day Parade at Parade Ground in Bhopal. My papa used to take me to such a distance early morning so that I don’t miss the grand occasion.

Celebrations in school use to start on August 13-14 with inter-house painting or singing competitions, debates, skits etc. and Principal Sir (Mr K.S. Kulshreshtha) visiting house meetings and interacting with Junior classes children. This use to be one of those rare occasions when he did that, as he was one of those conventional, strict Principals, much unlike “Cool” Principals of today.

Coming back to “Independence Day,” nationalism, patriotism being in my DNA, I always wore it on my sleeve. I always celebrated it with full energy and enthusiasm, never missed flag hoisting in school, office or society. Took part in many competitions also. Participating in debates was a regular feature, so was essay writing…

…On one such occasion, while interacting with junior classes students, Principal Sir called me and asked: As a little girl what do you understand by Independence? I am sure, I must have given some answer for which he must have given me shabaashi, but did I really understand what independence was? What it is like being born in Independent India? What it is like to practice freedom in all spheres of life?

I may not have known the answer then as freedom was GIVEN to me!

Being born in middle-class Kayastha family, education had its importance, the family was traditional and conservative who did not believe in girls going out for work. Education was OK but working a big NO! I felt that women – bahus of the family were treated regressively, though they belonged to respected and educated families.

As a little girl, my heart revolted to such treatment, rather life. I started growing up as an independent thinker, analyser and practitioner. I raised my voice against ill-treatment towards any woman – in the family, outside the family. Highly focussed on education, very early on I realised that I will not succumb to such torture, come what may and for that financial independence was paramount. So much so, that I developed an aversion to marriage.

I think parents realised early on that it is very difficult to challenge my thought process…or to time this tiny time machine, who thought ahead of her time and age!

…Growing up as a highly opinionated individual, I and my parents never thought anything about me as gender-specific. I was sent to best and expensive Convent School, provided best of stuff and most importantly freedom of speech, freedom to express and freedom to explore. Here credit goes to my parents, who probably thought ahead of their time (received a lot of flak). School & College was all about education. I exercised the freedom to choose my subjects, if I needed special classes, college, friends, movies, plays, exhibition, picnics, weekly books buying, career, workplace or any other.

Till now, I did not know what were restrictions all about which my class fellows or friends talked about. The need would have been to #BreakTheSilence and exercise your birthright to express yourself.

But yes, only brief my mother gave me all through: Don’t do any such things which bring a bad name to me or the family! And believe me, I always honoured her words and do it till today!

As soon as education got over, papa started scouting for some Journalism courses in London and people started saying: Arre Ladki ko London bhejoge? Shaadi kaise hogi? But all of it took a spin with his untimely and most shocking demise. Times were such when girls had near negligible say in marriage and what to say when you were Class I officer in UP Government (1989)? I was written off for any conventional setup.

Still, my mother and brother never forced me for marriage with any particular person, caste, creed, religion, education, service etc. I was given full freedom to make my choice here, though it was a big break from the convention then.

If not granted, freedom for these, there was a need to #BreakTheSilence.  

I got married finally! Though my freedom was clipped briefly, husband and family soon realised the importance of freedom for my being. I exercised my right to #BreakTheSilence and made myself happy, not necessarily everybody around me.

Luckily, freedom flows…I am free to run my life the way I want to, to work or not to work, what education to give to my daughter, how to raise my daughter, how to maintain relations, how to be with my friends…though in a framework!

Amidst all this, I have never shirked my responsibilities, never took undue advantage of the freedom, thus enjoyed it to the hilt.

Freedom has its share of struggles!

The burden of responsibilities!!

All that some other day!!!

Happy Independence Day Everyone!!!

Great Leader Indira Gandhi was my real inspiration and will always be!

#BreakTheSilence with Fertility Dost, India’s trusted platform for managing fertility health.

My entry for #FertilityDostContest.

Bienu Verma  Vaghela
Chief Executive Blogger

Folk Songs & Music in Indian Milieu…

“Music fills the infinite between two souls. It’s a powerful medium that touches people’s heart and transports them to a world where one lets go of all inhibitions.” Rabindra Nath Tagore

Can we imagine a life without music? Can we imagine a world without music? Can we imagine a house without music? Now a day’s music has become easily accessible with various gadgets and especially with the spread of FMs. But have you ever thought about how it all started? How I thought of writing about it?

Last come first, I thought of writing about it after watching FB Live of famous folk singer Malini Awasthi di on the occasion of Teej along with her daughter Ananya, where she delighted all of us with the rendition of Savani Kajris and other folk songs…It’s not the first time that I was listening to her. I have done it for many years, watching her sing on television. (Padma Shri Malini Di is doing great service to the nation by taking Indian Folk Music across the globe. Salute!) But her storytelling about Savan and Teej set my thought process that how folk music came into Indian milieu? There are so many stories attached to it…

Today when we are homebound during these unprecedented times (Covid19), music has helped us in keeping us sane, regaled and entertained. I am having a great time singing on StarMaker. It is an experience of a lifetime and I have become self-styled lockdown singer.

Folk Songs are the social commentaries of our times (Era) and no one knows who wrote them, wrote for whom, who composed music, who passed on these? These were transcended to generations from family members, friends, relatives, community and were primarily sung in villages especially during any celebration.

I remember my first brush with folk music from my bua (Mrs. Suman Shrivastav) who in her amazing voice sang सूरज मुख न जैबो है राम, मोरी बिंदिया का रंग उड़ जाये. The song was recorded by AIR Gwalior and we were on the moon. This was for the first time I visited a radio station as a little girl.

So, if we try to even think of a world without music, it would be impossible. Music is one thing which has bridged cultures and addressed prevalent diverse issues. Created by man and often attributed to the divine, everyone in the world understands the language of music.

Whatever the occasion: weddings, births, mundan, temple rituals and social gatherings, these were incomplete with without folk songs and dances. Oh yes, when we talk of weddings in the family, I would fondly mention my maami (Mrs. Rajeshwari Shrivastav) who rendered most amazing banna bannis one after another, sometimes entire night. What a phenomenal singer she was!

The unsung singers of our times…

Earliest records of Indian folk music are found in the Vedic literature, which dates back to 1500 BC. Some scholars and experts even suggest that Indian folk music could be as old as the country itself. Folk music was also used for educating children and communities la Teejan Bai style who sings Mahabharat in her inimitable style.

Folk music & dances represent India’s rich cultural diversity, which has immensely contributed to the various forms of folk songs/ music. Almost every region in India and state has its own set of folk music, which is as different as it could be but the basic premise remains same – celebration, story-telling, life’s lessons, experiences and learnings!

I believe folk songs/music were on the scene even before the advent of paper (read: writing) and were the only means to pass on prominent information from one generation to another. Since people did not have a solid material to preserve ancient information, passing down important information in the form of songs became utmost important. Folk songs not only provided entertainment but also imparted critical information that could be used in one’s day-to-day life.

These are a true reflection of our lives and these must be preserved so that the new generation does not get lost in pop, rock, hard music.

Many of these folk songs were composed by great poets and writers belonging to different parts of the country. For instance, the Rabindra Sangeet or Tagore songs of Bengal are a collection of songs that were originally written by eminent poet Rabindranath Tagore.

Folk songs also played a crucial role in socio-religious reforms in many parts of South India, Gujarat (Falguni Pathak), Punjab, Rajasthan who have active folk music and not only Indians, foreigners also enjoy them. This proves that music has a universal language, it has no barriers but only harmonious bridges.

In these war laden times, let the music be the therapy!



Shri Thal, Jaipur: A great place of everything Rajasthani, fun, food, peace, ambiance, music, hospitality!

Amidst all these stressful times when there are talks of Covid19 all over, round the clock, it is difficult to keep yourself aloof from the surroundings. We are confined at home 24×7 for many days, which for people like me who like to talk, host tea, lunches, dinners and most importantly taking morning and evening walks are feeling the heat beyond measure. Travel is out of the question, don’t know till when.

Hence, I decided to share with you the wonderful evening with my cousin Aarti and her husband Mohit in Jaipur. When I expressed the desire of eating daal, baati, choorma, she planned this outing for me. I fully trusted them for their choice and voila! What a choice it turned out to be!! It became a memorable evening!!!

Around 8 PM on 25th January we reached Shri Thal which looked to me mini chowki dhaani. Incidentally, the place belongs to Aarti’s good friend Ms Nidhi Upadhyay, a first-generation women entrepreneur with many prestigious awards in her thaali. We were accorded a very warm and traditional welcome at Shri Thal with their service staff. The seating arrangement was informal – Moodhas and Manjis and we were served raab as a welcome drink.

Shri Thal Village Restaurant, Jaipur is a Rajasthani Village in the City. This concept & idea of Village Theme Restaurant in the City came to Mrs. Nidhi Upadhyay’s (Managing Director – Shri Thal Village) mind looking at the busy lifestyle of Jaipurites, where it is practically not possible to get out of the city to experience the village ambience. For them, Shri Thal Village is an ideal place to enjoy ethnic Rajasthani Food, Village games & fun etc. The Restaurant is located on Queens Road in Vaishali Nagar, which is in the heart of Jaipur accessible from anywhere within 15-20 minutes of drive.

So, something about the ambience, it has a mini fort-like façade and a huge entrance door with a mud wall village structure with traditional mandana painted all over the walls, dry grass clad huts, water bodies & fountains. It is lit up in the night lit up with traditional lamps & village statues.  It has Entrance Munim (Cashier) Counter Hut, Gaming Zone Huts for Shooting the Baloon, Ring Game, Chai Ki Thadi etc. There are 3 dining halls named after Rajasthani Folk Dances as Ghumar, Ghorbandh and Panihari.

What to say of Rajasthani cuisine meticulously designed by Nidhi herself who is a culinary expert and a passionate food presenter which included Jaipuri Aloo Pyaz ki Subzi & Dal Panchmel, Bikaneri Papad Mangdi, Jodhpuri Gatte, Traditional Dal Bati Churma, Bajri ka Khichda, Rajasthani Kadhi, 2 Types of Chutneys (Coriander & Garlic), Snacks like Moong Dal Kachori, Kofta, Mini Samosa, Jalebi, Rabdi Malpua etc. Wow! I was confused to the core, what to eat, what not to eat. Aarti helped me with that, I had a great time relishing food and hospitality of the people there.

I and Aarti danced to the beats of Dhol and some other traditional instruments, watched Kathputli dance sitting on Manji with childlike enthusiasm. It was an evening, where my mind was empty and heart full…there is so much to be enjoyed, which we waste in unnecessary complications of life.

No wonder, Nidhi Upadhyay has been awarded “Corporate Diva Award” by FM Tadka – Rajasthan Patrika Group for Shri Thal Village Concept in an award ceremony at the Hotel Marriott, Jaipur.

idhi came to Jaipur after 14 years of marriage from Jodhpur, originally belonging to Kota. During these years she received many job offers from hotels & schools, as word had spread about her talent for cooking, but she could not take it up due to home priorities. But as kids had grown up, thus her husband Ajay, who had been admiring her talent all through, thought of opening a restaurant for Nidhi in Jaipur by the name of Shri Thaal Village. It was gifted to her on her 14th wedding anniversary i.e. 9th May 2011.

What a tribute from a loving husband for her talented wife!

Way to go Nidhi!!

If you are in Jaipur, mark it in your itinerary.


Glass Apart: My LOVE for Glass Bangles!

मेरे हाथों में नौ नौ चूड़ियां है…

The precious leave of Holi was utilised in a very unusual activity, taking account (Style, Design, Colour, Numbers – Total Audit) of the Bangles I have in my cupboard. I wanted to organise these as I was repeating my bangles quite often…

…& I don’t like doing that! I am a self-confessed bangle freak!!

I love to wear new bangles every day, matching it with the outfit, though it doesn’t go that way. So, cupboard cleaning and organising took a few hours but it was worth it. For the first time, I noticed my collection of glass bangles, bought from the length and breadth of the country. They were parked the same way as offloaded carefully from the flight, without even checking what and how many bangles I had bought.

My personal collection

My love for glass bangles dates back to my childhood when an old gentleman used to come to sell glass bangles in his daliya (cane basket), neatly tied by a sootli (thin rope) in such a manner, so that design colour etc. was clearly visible. My mother use to buy lots of bangles from him whenever he came. (Maybe it is genetic). I was a very curious child always, so I asked many questions from bangle seller – Naccha! So, what is Naacha now – Mummy use to call him chacha, I called him naana, so he became Nachha (Naana – Chacha) for all ladies in the colony! I don’t know what he thought about this new nomenclature.

Questions like: Bangles are made of what, how do you colour them? How do you put sequins on them? Why do you bring these in cane basket? Are these heavy? Why do you sell bangles? He patiently replied all my queries while selling his bangles to colony aunties, sipping hot tea. Once his sale was over, he will give me a few free bangles and my joy in knew no bounds. Probably, the love dates back to the incident, which I suddenly recollected while sorting my bangle collection today…real nostalgia!

My glass bangle collection has travelled from far-flung areas, across the length and breadth of the country right from Katra, Jammu to Hyderabad, AP traversing Delhi ( Pracheen Mandir Bangle Bazaar, Delhi Haat, Janpath, Sarojini Nagar, Lajpat Nagar) Jaipur, Varanasi, Allahabad, Lucknow, Dehradun, Rishikesh, Hardwar, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bhopal, Kolkatta ( Shankha Poda), Assam, Ahmedabad, Surat, Baroda, Kutch, Bhuj…

Even international destinations are not spared: London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Guangzhou, Bangkok…I have bought whatever in the name of bangle available there! (needs a separate post)

You will be surprised to know that I always carry a sheet of bubble wrap to pack my bangles so that they can survive the wrath of airline people. Before planning a trip, I never forget to check from where I can buy bangles. Over a period of time, I realised that bangles are becoming my passion, rather obsession! By nature, I am a very content person, I don’t like to hoard stuff for the heck of it, but I can’t control when bangles cross my eyes. I want to shop, come what may and most of the time I do that. I remember my bua saying: बिंदी, चूड़ी के लिए क्या सोचना!

That has stayed with me. I never give a thought to anything while buying bangles. I am sharing a few pictures from my collection. I love wearing them especially with traditional outfits on all occasions, on all festivals. Sometimes I decide the bangles first and then match the saree or dress. If I something misplaced, I feel very agitated.

The history of bangles dates back to Mohen-jo-daro days, 2600 BC when these were found in excavation and statues were found wearing them. In India Ferozabad in UP, near Agra is very famous for glass bangles and supplies to the world. The bangles of Firozabad are exceptionally made, so intricate, so colourful, so fine… It is one of a kind cluster producing bangles and catering to the growing demands and requirement in India, there is approximately 150 bangle making in the city.

We Indians love bangles, the love of Bollywood for bangles is part of the folklore, haven’t we grown up hearing songs like:

चूड़ी नहीं मेरा दिल है, बिंदिया चमकेगी चूड़ी खनकेगी, मेरे हाथों में नौ नौ चूड़ियां है, बोले चूड़ियां बोले कंगना

No celebration is complete without bangles, No Shringar is complete without bangles! Life is a celebration, celebrate it with anything you love!

My special thanks to Sai Vandana, Aarti Mohit Mathur, Aparna Chaturvedi and Hemlata Didi who have patiently tolerated my madness, added to the collection in whichever ways possible.

Last but not the least my dear Mummy, Usha Varma for introducing to the finer things in life!