Category Archives: Celebrations

Head towards The Lil Flea Mumbai, this weekend!

The Lil Flea, a festival of shopping, food & music, good vibes and perhaps the largest & happiest of its kind in the country is back in the bay! With fairy lights , cozy tents, happy vibes, hundreds of pop up shops from all over the country, experimental and fusion foods, some of the best up & coming live bands, movie screenings, the lil book exchange, a well-stocked bar and a whole host of little things, this festival promises to keep you occupied for a happy weekend!

Be there for:

PopUp Shops from all over the country: If you love shopping or simply exploring what’s buzzing in the market, then The Lil Flea has to be on your bucket list. The Lil Flea brings together some of the best homegrown shops from across the country with contemporary apparel, quirkily printed shoes, chic bags, handmade jewellery, digital pop art and heaps of cool things to keep shoppers busy for a whole day or more.

Experimental & Fusion Foods: Being a discovery platform, the people of The Lil Flea are always on the lookout for amazing up & coming food chefs, bakers and niche food brands. Rest assured that you will be spoilt for choice here

Music: Listen to some of the country’s best up &coming indie musicians perform live as you chill on the turf, sip on a drink or make yourself comfortable in a teepee. Stay tuned for the full lineup

The Lil Book Exchange: Bring a book along you can exchange it for another without any price at the Lil Book Exchange.

Movie Lounge: Adding a nostalgic touch to The Lil Flea, the team has decided to host some cool classics through the day. Make yourself comfortable on some comfy pillows, sip on a Bira provided as an optional combo offer or simply grab some pop corn. Pre-register for these sessions if you are wise, as the numbers of headphones are likely limited.

Festival Bar: If the weekend calls for a drink or two, make sure you drop by to The Lil Flea’s Festival bar. Placed right next to the music stage, listen to the music as you choose from a delectable selection of handpicked cocktails, wines, sangraias, alcohol golas and slushies and some really great offers from our new favourite Bira

One Lil Tree: Join this small but amazing movement to help improve the way we live and the air we breathe. Collect your free seeds to plant in your home, adopt a plant or learn the art of organic gardening.

The Happy Vibe: You can feel the happiness in the air when you visit The Lil Flea. Happy sellers, happy visitors, fun sit outs, beautiful bohemian décor all come together at this festival to make it one weekend to remember.

You can book your tickets on Insider.in for Rs. 249 for a single day and Rs. 400 for all three days.

Not to be missed this unique event this weekend.

Fond memories of Ghoomar Dance then & Now Padmavati!

Most amazingly rendered by versatile actor and Dancing Diva (Indeed no other actor is close to her in this art) Deepika Padukone, Ghoomar Dance has lifted the mood of movie buffs like me, after a long time. (Read: Mastani song & mohe rang de laal in Bajirao Mastani). The slightly over three minutes song sees the diva performing the Rajasthani folk dance to the hilt. Buzz is that the actress did as many as 66 twirls in the duration of the entire song while donning her heavy attire and jewellery. The song is sung by Shreya Ghoshal and Swaroop Khan while the lyrics are penned by A M Turaz and Rajasthani lyrics are by Swaroop Khan. Kruti Mahesh Midya and Ghoomar training artist by Jyothi D Tommaar made Deepika learn the craft to perfection. Can’t wait for December 1. Would watch it for Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s histrionics and Deepika’s Ghoomer and bada phatakaa – Ranveer Singh!

Not to miss, unsurmountable Rajasthani Culture & History!

After watching the release of the first song of the highly anticipated movie of the year Padmavati,  directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Produced by Viacom18 Motion Pictures and Bhansali Productions, slated to release on 1st December 2017, the memories of Ghoomar Dance danced before my eyes…

…Me as a kid performed Ghoomar Dance in Kala Milan Samaroh at my father’s Office Cultural Day celebrations in the presence of Late Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi. The rehearsals lasted for over a month conducted by very strict dance teacher Rathore Sir (Term Choreographer was not known then).  Indeed the result was smashing! Everybody loved the dance performed by daughters of BHEL employees. I must admit that it was the most rehearsed dance I had done ever, so much so, that mummy asked me to quit mid-way as my studies suffered. But for me, Ghoomar was above everything then.

Ghoomar is a traditional folk dance of Rajasthan, India. The dance is chiefly performed by veiled women who wear flowing dresses called Ghaghara. It was ranked 4th in the list of “Top 10 local dances around the world” in 2013. The dance typically involves performers pirouetting while moving in and out of a wide circle. The word ghoomna describes the twirling movement of the dancers and is the basis of the word ghoomar. This dance form is mainly prevalent among the Rajput community and is chiefly performed by Rajput women during auspicious and joyous occasions in Rajasthan. Ghoomar is often performed on special occasions, such as at weddings and during weddings, festivals and religious occasions which sometimes lasts for hours.

In Ghoomar, women dance in circles with graceful moves and display their colourful ghagharas. Hence the dance form is aptly named as Ghoomar. The women dance with amazing precision, even as their face is covered with a veil, while they carry the lighted lamp. Innumerable twirls and turns mark this dance form, which is quite close to Jaipur Gharana of Kathak.

Goomar can be performed by women of any age group. This dance form also known by the name of ‘Jhumar’ involves swaying movements and is indeed simple to perform. The enthusiasm of the performer is the sole requirement of the dance as it can continue from few hours till late nights.

Ghoomar is usually done during the Teej festivities. However, it’s also performed during other festivals and important occasions. Ghoomar is extremely rhythmic to perform and the dancers have to move around in circular motion with clockwise and anticlockwise steps being taken in tandem. The tempo of Ghoomar reaches its peak as synchronization of steps with music is done.

Considered to be a traditional ritual of Rajasthan, this dance is also performed by the bride after she is welcomed at her husband’s home.

So for the enchatress Deepika Padukone performing Ghoomer, head to theatres on December 1.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chhath Puja, in obeisance of Sun God!


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The Juhu Beach in Mumbai will be decked up yet again as lakhs of devotees mainly from North India (read: UP & Bihar) gather at Mumbai beach of performing Puja.  BMC has kept a tight vigil along the entire coastal line of the city and has made special arrangements. A danger line has been drawn beyond which the devotees would not be allowed to enter the sea. Like every year, this year too programs have been organized which included singing for the sun devotees along with other arrangements. Visit Juhu beach 5:30 PM onwards to observe festive fervous in all its glory and beauty!

It is believed that the celebration of Chhath puja may predate to the ancient Vedas, as the rituals performed during the puja are similar to the ones mentioned in Rig Veda, in which the Sun god is worshipped. At the time, the rishis (sages) were also known to worship the Sun and remain without the intake of good as they would obtain their energy directly from the Sun.

सूर्य देव की उपासना का पर्व छठ शुरू हो चुका है। चार दिन तक चलने वाले इस त्योहार में भगवान सूर्य की आराधना की जाती हैं। 24 अक्टूबर को नहाय खाय के साथ शुरू हुआ ये पर्व सप्तमी को उगते सूर्य को अर्घ्य देने के साथ ही समाप्त होगा। इस पर्व में भगवान सूर्य की पूजा का काफी महत्व है। पहला अर्घ्य आज अस्त होते सूरज को दिया जाएगा। आज षष्ठी के दिन व्रतीजल में उतरकर डूबते सूरज को अर्घ्य देंगे।

पूजन विधि – अर्घ्य देने के लिए बांस के सूप में सभी प्रकार के फल रखकर उसे पीले कपड़े से ढ़क दें और डूबते सूरज को तीन बार अर्घ्य दें।

अर्घ्य देने का शुभ समय – सायंकालीन अर्घ्य- 26 अक्टूबर (गुरुवार)
सायंकालीन अर्घ्य का समय :- सांय काल 05:40 बजे से शुरू

प्रात:कालीन अर्घ्य: 27 अक्टूबर (शुक्रवार) – प्रात:कालीन अर्घ्य का समय: प्रात: 6.28 बजे से शुरू

Chhath festival, one of the most ancient and revered Hindu festivals, is celebrated with much fervour primarily in northern parts of India. It is also believed that Chhath is the only surviving Vedic festival observed in the country at present. If legends are to be believed, Chhath was first observed by Drapaudi, a mythological character from the Epic Mahabharata. During this time, devotees observe a four-day fast and offer prayers to the Sun God. The rituals involved in the Chhath puja celebrations are quite rigorous and apart from fasting, it also includes holy bathing and standing in water for long hours. Devotees offer prasad and arghya to the rising and setting sun.

Chhath Puja is an important Hindu festival that is mainly celebrated in Bihar and some regions of Nepal. The puja is dedicated to the worship of the Sun god and his wife Usha. During the occasion, devotees perform puja to thank god for supporting life on earth and seek the divine couple’s blessing. However, Chhath – the main day – isn’t the first day but the third day of the puja and, this year it is celebrated today – October 26.

According to Hindu religion, the Sun is believed to heal many severe health conditions and ensure longevity, prosperity, progress and well-being. People celebrate the festival by following a rigorous routine that lasts four days. The rituals include: fasting (including abstinence from drinking water), holy bathing, offering prayers to the rising and setting sun, and meditating by standing in water.

In addition to Bihar, many other states such as Jharkhand, eastern UP, regions of Nepal, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Chhattisgarh also celebrate the festival with great fervour. Chhath Puja is so called as it is celebrated on the sixth day of the month of Karthika in the Vikram Samvat. It is also celebrated in the summers, some days after Holi. However, Karthika month’s Chhath is more ardently followed by people.

However, another sign of the puja is attached to the story of Lord Rama.

According to ancient texts, Rama and his wife Sita had kept fast and offered prayers to the Sun god, in the month of Kartika in Shukla Paksha, once they returned to the Ayodhya after 14 years of exile. From then on, the Chhath Puja became a significant and traditional Hindu festival, which is celebrated with zeal and zest every year.

The four-day festival starts four days after Diwali.  This is how the devotees observe the festival.

Nahay Khay: The first day of Chhath Puja, devotees take a dip, preferably in the Kosi river, Karnali and Ganga, and carry home the holy water to prepare the offerings.

Lohanda: The second day, the devotees observe a fast for the whole day, which ends in the evening a little after sunset. After worshipping the Sun and the Moon, they prepare offerings of kheer, bananas and rice for their family. After consuming the offering, they fast for 36 hours without water.

Sandhya Arghya (evening offerings): After preparing the prasad, the devotees take a dip in the holy water body in the evening and worship the Sun god and Chhathi maiyya. They offer the evening offerings amid folk songs.

Usha Arghya: The fourth day, devotees go to the holy waters and offer morning offerings or ‘Usha arghya’ to the sun, following which they break their fast.

Chhath Parv ki anekon shubhkamnayein!

Vijaydashmi, Dussehra, Dasara…Bhopal, Delhi, Mysore…Wherever!

I remember as a child I always use to go with my father to watch effigy burning at HEL’s Ramlila ground in Bhopal. We never missed the festival, till we lived in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India. After diligently watching Ramlila for all nine days, not only watching but participating too, the days were truly special. When I visited the place in Bhopal, say after some thirty years…I was moved to tears witnessing the ruins of the place! What time does to people, cultures, places and even festivals? Lovely days of life left behind…

The festival has very special significance for all of us, all over India. The nine-day Navratri festival culminates into Dussehra with an effigy of Ravana burning all over along with Meghnad and Kumbhkaran. Indeed, it is a very special sight, all of us love to watch that…We loved the fire, the fireworks, crowds and finally the feeling…evil met its fate.

After moving to New Delhi, the tradition continued…I and papa started going to Ramlila Ground Dussehra (DCM Compound) and we got real special treatment there as my mausaji use to play Dashrathji in this Ramlila. This Dussehra was really magnanimous, the scale was really huge, effigies…very BIG! The humble Dussehra of Bhopal was nowhere close to this one, and I started loving it even more. But it was not for long…my visits for effigy burning stopped when papa left for higher realms!

When I got married some years later in a Gujarati family, Navratri celebrations took a complete 360-degree spin. It was all about dancing the night away on Garba beats which rekindled my love for dancing! No Ramlila, No Ravan…

Lo & behold…my first brush with Navratri celebrations was none other than today’s Dandiya Queen…Falguni Pathak who in her tom-boyish attire belted out Garba numbers one after another. So many people dressed in beautiful Chaniya Cholis and men in Kediyus (I didn’t even know what this attire was called) danced passionately and I too joined them, without knowing D for Dandiya or G for Garba. Just caught up with the beats and everybody welcomed me and even helped me with some steps.

It was truly some revelation for me as I had never seen any such thing before either in Delhi or in Lucknow. Since then, it became a ritual and my daughter Tanya to this practice to just another level by wearing nine new chaniya cholis for all nine days…dancing the nights away…Ghar nahin jaoingi main…those were the Navratri days…hope they are back again soon!

When I was young, I always use to tell my father, let’s go to Mysore to watch Dussehra as I knew it is celebrated in a very special manner there. But that was not to be…but I will certainly visit one day…to celebrate memories of my dear father.  The city of Mysuru has a long tradition of celebrating the Dasara festival with grandeur and pomp to mark the festival. The Dasara festival in Mysuru completed 400th anniversary in the year 2010, while evidence suggests the festivities were observed in Karnataka state by the Vijayanagara Empire kings in the 15th century.

The main attraction of the ten-day Mysore Dasara  festival is the Mysore Palace which is illuminated daily with nearly 100,000 light bulbs from 7 pm to 10 pm on all days of the festival. Various cultural and religious programs highlighting the dance, music and culture of the State of Karnataka are performed in front of the illuminated Palace.

But the high point of the celebration is the Vijayadashami procession which is held on the tenth day. You will see the idol of the Goddess kept in a golden howdah on top of a decorated elephant. This will be accompanied by the police, their bands, mounted guards all in royal livery, folk artists along with musicians. Starting at the decked-up Mysore Palace, the march continues all the way up to the Banni Mantapa grounds. Later in the evening, there is a torchlight procession and a gorgeous display of fireworks that marks the end of the celebrations.

Mysore…you never cease to fascinate…Dasara or not!

Swirl to the Dandiya beats this Navratri…

The festival of nine auspicious days is dedicated to Goddess Durga and her various forms. Many parts of the country are decorated with Puja Pandals, Mata Temples and Ram Leela’s happening all over.

People celebrate the festival by visiting temples and offering pujas at Mother’s feet. People also observe fast during the day and eat at the sunset. In some places images of Mother Durga are also placed in beautifully decorates pandals. Special arrangements for pujas and vrats are arranged on temples dedicated to Shakti to mark these nine days as true symbol of adoration towards the divine mother and symbol of Power- Mata Durga.

Navratri (Sanskrit: नवरात्रि, literally “nine nights”), also spelled Navaratri or Navaratri, is a multi-day Hindu festival celebrated in the autumn every year. It is observed for different reasons and celebrated differently in various parts of the Indian sub-continent. Theoretically, there are four seasonal Navratri. However, in practice, it is the post-monsoon autumn festival called Sharad Navratri that is the most observed in the honour of the divine feminine Devi (Durga). The festival is celebrated in the bright half of the Hindu calendar month Ashvin, which typically falls in the Gregorian months of September and October.

Navratri is one of the most awaited festival in Gujarat. Here, Navratri is celebrated on the first nine days of Ashwin month. Devotees fast for nine days and worship the idols of the goddess. According to the tradition, the women who are observing the fast bring an earthen pot home, with holes, and light it every evening and perform the aarti of maa durga. The pot is called ‘Garbi’ and the light symbolises Shakti, ‘power’.  Garba raas and dandiya raas are the two beautiful forms of Gujarati dance which is usually performed by Gujarati men and women, who are traditionally dressed in chaniya choli and kurta. Who can forget spirited Deepika Padukone & Ranveer Singh dancing to the beats of Dandiya in Raas leela.

Gujaratis in Mumbai create “Mini Gujarat” almost all over Mumbai and celebrate Navratri with Garba and dandiya nights with Celebrity singers/ performers like Falguni Pathak and what to say of Navratri in Ahmedabad’s University Grounds where youngers dance the night out on electrifying Garba beats with amalgamation of traditional & modern music. DJs belt out one number after another, however older generation feels this is not Navratri all about but new generation has their own ways of celebrating Navratri.  It is my dream to be there for Navratri someday.

When it’s Navratri, nothing but ethnic wear suits the occasion and Lehenga Choli fits perfectly for the Dandiya nights and visiting Pandals with friends and family. Triveni has come up with some mesmerising collection of Lehengas.

Their Banarasi Celebration as the name suggests celebrates ethnicity with royalty. The collection is inspired from the woven work of Banarasi Silk and contains Santoon lining. The embroideries are to add up to the embellished look. The collection comes in different shades of pretty pinks, alluring orange, ravishing green and bewitching bright yellows. The zari work to give a splendid golden touch to Lehenga and add up to the majestic look of the woman who carries it.

Ethnic Era reminds you of the fact that era of ethnicity never ends and it should not as it celebrates culture. The collection brings in the pairing up of most contrasting colors, from dark magenta colored Lehenga to light peach Dupatta. The Art Silk collection contains intricate designs and patterns throughout the Lehenga-Choli and a plain dupatta with borders on side. It contains of patch work, laces, stone work and embroideries.

Cinderella, if you want a woven touch and silk resplendence and yet an easy to carry Lehenga Choli so that you can set your feet free (like Cinderella) while dancing to the tunes of Navratri songs, go for this. From colours of all range, orange, green, pink, beige and brown, art silk Lehenga Choli are teamed up with chiffon dupattas.

Take your pick and dance your heart out this Navratri!

 

Bachpan wali woh Diwali…Aaj Kal ki yeh Diwali!

Day started with receiving Diwali wishes on Whatapp since early morning, followed by early cooking, watching Rangoli – Diwali Special on DD National, house cleaning and preparation for the evening pooja.  But…I did not forget to listen to PM Narendra Modi’s Mann –Ki- Baat on radio which was based on Diwali and Festivities surrounding it! I can safely say it was the Best Diwali described ever!!  He expressed Diwali’s significance in a very unique way; he dedicated this Diwali to Soldiers of the country that guards our borders while we celebrate.

 This year it was a low-key Diwali for Vaghela house-hold as my father in law moved on his eternal journey who immensely loved Diwali followed by Gujarati New Year which was a big celebration in Vaghela House hold with patriarch “Pappa”  and “Dada” who took great interest in all the celebrations.  We all miss his presence this Diwali!! He will always be missed!!!

 Daughter Tanya is here from hostel joined with her friend Dhruvi which brought lot of joy and festivities to the festival.  Festivities started with Dhanteras Pujan at office where like one big happy family we joined hands to celebrate, there was lighting, finery, jewellery, traditional dress, puja, mithai, gifting, receiving, family gathering and what not…followed by Dhanteras Puja at home. Like all years, this year’s Diwali is also big on Laxmi Puja which I would be performing in special Temple Border Kanjeevaram saree received from www.triveniethnics.com for Laxmi Pujan. Thanks Triveni for making festivities even more special…

Saree courtesy: Triveni Ethnics
Saree courtesy: Triveni Ethnics

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 This Diwali was made even more special by fond memories of Diwali celebrations in our childhood by one of the most revered poet by writer & poet Gulzar which I am sharing with you below. What a beautiful expression through –  बचपन वाली वो दिवाली.

हफ्तों पहले से साफ़-सफाई में जुट जाते हैं, चूने के कनिस्तर में थोड़ी नील मिलाते हैं,

अलमारी खिसका खोयी चीज़ वापस  पाते हैं, दोछत्ती का कबाड़ बेच कुछ पैसे कमाते हैं, चलो इस दफ़े दिवाली घर पे मनाते हैं  ….

दौड़-भाग के घर का हर सामान लाते हैं, चवन्नी -अठन्नी  पटाखों के लिए बचाते हैं

सजी बाज़ार की रौनक देखने जाते हैं, सिर्फ दाम पूछने के लिए चीजों को उठाते हैं, चलो इस दफ़े दिवाली घर पे मनाते हैं ….

बिजली की झालर छत से लटकाते हैं, कुछ में मास्टर  बल्ब भी  लगाते हैं

टेस्टर लिए पूरे इलेक्ट्रीशियन बन जाते हैं, दो-चार बिजली के झटके भी  खाते हैं, चलो इस दफ़े दिवाली घर पे मनाते हैं ….

दूर थोक की दुकान से पटाखे लाते है, मुर्गा ब्रांड हर पैकेट में खोजते जाते है

दो दिन तक उन्हें छत की धूप में सुखाते हैं, बार-बार बस गिनते जाते है, चलो इस दफ़े दिवाली घर पे मनाते हैं ….

धनतेरस के दिन कटोरदान लाते है, छत के जंगले से कंडील लटकाते हैं

मिठाई के ऊपर लगे काजू-बादाम खाते हैं, प्रसाद की  थाली   पड़ोस में  देने जाते हैं, चलो इस दफ़े दिवाली घर पे मनाते हैं ….

माँ से खील में से  धान बिनवाते हैं , खांड  के खिलोने के साथ उसे जमके खाते है

अन्नकूट के लिए सब्जियों का ढेर लगाते है, भैया-दूज के दिन दीदी से आशीर्वाद पाते हैं, चलो इस दफ़े दिवाली घर पे मनाते हैं ….

दिवाली बीत जाने पे दुखी हो जाते हैं , कुछ न फूटे पटाखों का बारूद जलाते हैं

घर की छत पे दगे हुए राकेट पाते हैं , बुझे दीयों को मुंडेर से हटाते हैं, चलो इस दफ़े दिवाली घर पे मनाते हैं ….

बूढ़े माँ-बाप का एकाकीपन मिटाते हैं, वहीँ पुरानी रौनक फिर से लाते हैं

सामान  से नहीं ,समय देकर सम्मान  जताते हैं, उनके पुराने सुने किस्से फिर से सुनते जाते हैं, चलो इस दफ़े दिवाली घर पे मनाते हैं …

Best tribute to our bachpan ki diwali!

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Diwali has always been my favourite festival. I start preparing for the festival at least one month in advance with shopping, scouting for gifting ideas, decorations, diya making & buying etc. Diwali brings immense joy to me personally. Entire year I wait for Diwali as it is a great social, religious, religious and festivities oriented festival, I love everything around Diwali…weather also take a turn for the better! Not only this, it is the time of the year when I like to introspect about the year gone by and prepare for the future dreams…wish dreams were horses. No Diwali goes without remembering DIWALI we use to celebrate at our home town Gwalior amidst battery of family members, buas, cha-chas, dadi-dada, bhaiyya, bhabhis, didis…everybody. For female members it was kitchen time all five days whereas we children enjoyed festivities with new dresses, sweets, delicacies, crackers, rangoli…to top it all outstation visits in Diwali vacation.

You can watch PM Narendra Modi’s Manni-ki-Baat here!

Diwali is big Puja time particularly Laxmi Pujan…which I do with lot of enthusiasm and fervour as ever.

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Wish all my readers a very happy Diwali & Prosperous New Year!!

 

 

VISHALLA in Ahmedabad, snapshot of vibrant Gujarati culture!

vishala logoVISHALLA in an exclusive photo-essay.

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It was my secret desire to visit Vishalla, the Chowki Dhani of Ahmedabad on my sojourn to Ahmedabad, since the time I had read about it in some newspaper.  Considering the time constraints, it was looking impossible and the distance we needed to travel from our place of stay to Baroda highway. But as the luck would have it, despite drizzling, we changed the venue from Atithi for dinner to Vishala in a jiffy and around 9 PM we reached there.

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As I mentioned that I was very curious to visit the place owing to its uniqueness on many parameters like true to its literal sense, its vast, open spaces that free the mind. There are no physical obstructions, even in the form of doors or walls. My research revealed that, Vishalla’, the traditionally designed restaurant, came into being on 27 March, 1978. The designer, Mr. Surendra Patel, discovered the name ‘Vishala’ in the book Bhattachintamani of a religious group called ‘Swaminarayan’. The name caught the sensitive eyes of Mr. Patel as it related to his vision of the restaurant, a place for homely, staple food in a relaxed atmosphere and with a free mind.

The facade is so mesmerising and, the interior design is certainly in a class of its own, proudly symbolizing Indian culture, it looked like compact Gujarat with mirror on the cover. Truly reflecting vibrant culture of Gujarat, I was very delighted to be there. The walls have photographs of those who have visited Vishalla in the past, and believe me they are who’s who of the country. We were accorded a very warm welcome with roses and the payment counter was replica of Gaddi in the olden times. We were made to wait, the time which we utilised to watch very interesting puppet show. Interestingly, I enjoy the puppet show like a child.

I found myself in the true Gujarati Village where there are no closed rooms or halls, lanterns used instead of heavy lighting, natural air replacing air-conditioned air, folk songs being sung without mikes, muddy lanes, homely food served on a tree leaf, and everything around resembling a typical Indian village. Another distinguishing characteristic of the place is that you get to decide the menu and pay the bill at the reception itself. Well, if you haven’t heard of any such place, Vishalla is there.

Vishalla is not only designed like a village; the staff accords to you the same, warm hospitality you would likely experience in an Indian village. The atmosphere is imbued with a proximity to nature that relaxes the mind. There are no doors to be seen here – which emphasizes the focus on freeing the mind. The waiters and other staff are dressed in traditional Indian gear, with either a turban or a topi on their heads, dressed in the very typical dhoti-kurta.

Then we moved to eating area which was set on floor with multiple cuisines served on pattals in unlimited quantity. We enjoyed the food cooked in Desi Ghee which included: Puris, Bakhris, 4 Subzis, khichdi, kadhi, dal, achaars, papads, thali peeth, halwa…what not. All of enjoyed the meals very much in the lantern lit dining area. After the meals we decided to stay for some more time to enjoy Kathiawadi Dance Performance and other performances.

Children Rishabh, Rashi and Tanya wanted to hang out for some more time…but it was 11 already and time to move. All in all it was wonderfully spent evening and the pricing is not at all steep…it is certainly value for money.  Considering the distance and rains, I was pleasantly surprised to note the impressive line up of cars in the parking.

The natural connect with the plants and the muddy lanes itself delivers the mind from all day-to-day concerns. The pronounced village-like environment is experienced in every nook and corner of Vishalla. There are lanterns to light up the place, the entire area is mud-plastered, and even the entertainment section uses no modern sound systems. The effect is further enhanced with the staff dressed in a traditional, Indian style. What’s more, it is not merely the village-style apparel donned by the staff; they also exhibit a heart-felt hospitality typical of village folks!

Indeed the place leaves you with lasting impression…where I would like to visit again!

Gujarat Tourism should certainly look at it promoting amidst local & global tourists. Information courtesy: http://www.Vishalla.com

#Udaipur 5: The City Palace – History at its Best!

Second day of the trip to Udaipur started with visit to one of the most famous tourist destinations of Rajasthan – The City Palace – Most wonderful palace, we had ever visited. The door with huge elephant on the podium made a very splendid view to the entrance.

See it to believe it!

A unique Photo-Essay of the famed City Palace:

But not without its unique story:

The story goes that when Maharana Udai Singh was hunting one day he came across a holy man and, as was the custom, went up to him to take ‘Darshan’ (pay his respects). The sage told the ruler that if he builds his palace round this very place, fortune would favour the family. Maharana Udai Singh accepted his advice and first erected a small shrine. This is the oldest part and is known as Dhuni Mata. It remains a place of worship. It is a simple room containing pictures of the four chief Hindu deities of Mewar, Charbhuja, Eklingji, Shri Nath and Amba Mata.

A wooden railing encircles the holy spot where the sage is said to have sat. Around the courtyard outside Dhuni Mata are pictures depicting episodes from the life of Maharana Pratap, the great warrior son of Maharana Udai Singh. In an inner room can be seen the suit of chain armour and weapons of Maharana Pratap together with his armour worn by his famous horse Chetak. An artificial elephant trunk as shown in many of the paintings was often worn by horses during battles.

Near stair-way is found a simple marble throne on a raised platform, it was here that Maharana’s used to sit at the time of their coronation during a ceremony known as “Lakhu Gokhra” which was performed at this spot in the time of Maharana Sangram Singh.

Other things of interest in Palace include a room with mirrored glass floor with walls decorated with glass designs, and miniature paintings. This was created by Maharana Karan Singh in the 17th Century and is known as “Dil Khushal”. Another room has its walls completely covered with paintings depicting various events in Udaipur from the time of Maharana Jawan Singh.

Nearby is the famous sun window installed by Maharana Bhim Singh. It will be recalled that, by ancient salary tradition, the Maharanas of Mewar are Surya Vanshi, descendants of Sun God. On some special occasions and in evil times the Maharanas were expected to show themselves to their people for encouragement and to shed light in place of hidden sun.

To the south of City Palace Museum lies a romantic medieval tower building which was built for the queens of Mewar by Maharana Karan Singh and added to by his successors. It was built like a fortress and is almost windowless on the outside but astonishingly spacious within. From the lake side great astonishingly towering buttresses nearly a hundred feet high support it. At the top levels lattice windows give privacy air and light.

Amazing indeed! Don’t miss visiting it, though you would require atleast two hours to enjoy it thoroughly but dedicating full day would be ideal.

Photo Courtesy:  Mukund Rai

 

 

 

 

Baisakhi di Balle Balle in Malaysia!!

Baisa

Singh is King of the World!

Vaisakhi Celebrations in full swing in Malaysia

Malaysia is all set to experience the rich and colourfulbackground of the Punjabi Culture. On April 23rd, The Malaysian Punjabi Chambers of Commerce and Industries (MPCCI) is organising a Malaysia Vaisakhi Open House in Kuala Lumpur where thousands of Malaysian Sikhs and their friends will gather to celebrate the auspicious festivities of Vaisakhi!

Aptly named MyVaisakhi Fest 2016, the day long festivities on April 23rd, will be inaugurated by the Prime Minister of Malaysia ,Dato’ Sri Haji Mohammad Najib at the Malaysia Tourism Centre (MaTiC) at Jalan Ampang in Kuala Lumpur. The gathering is expected to be attended by over 4000 guests!

Baisakhi-Image

Besides bringing to life the essence of Punjabi culture, the highlight of the day will be an attempt to enter the Malaysia Book of Records for making 2000 chapattis in 3 hours! Needless to mention, one will get to see the never dying spirit of the Punjabis all set to break this record!

Dato Daljit Singh

MPCCI President Dato Daljit Singh said that, “ We welcome one and all to be part of our celebrations. In fact all Indians visiting Malaysia during this time should be a part of MyVaisakhi 2016! You can get a taste of home here!” “We have Dhol dances, Cultural shows , go kart rides, sand art, turban tying booth, henna art booth…everything that’s Punjabi will come to life on this day!”, added Dato Daljit.

Dato Daljit Singh is also Indian Community Relations Advisor to the Minister of Tourism and Culture, Malaysia.

Program details

Tourists can also get an insight into the Punjabi culture by visiting the Punjabi History, heritage and Culture exhibition being held until April 30.  The Sikh community has existed since the 16th century and MyVaisakhi 2016 is an attempt to showcase the Punjabi and Sikh tradition and history so that the younger generation can learn about where they come from and embrace their culture.

About Tourism Malaysia: MALAYSIA TOURISM PROMOTION BOARD OR TOURISM MALAYSIA is an agency under the Ministry of Tourism & Culture, Malaysia. Tourism Malaysia focuses on the specific task of promoting Malaysia at all levels. Since its inception, Tourism Malaysia has grown by leaps and bounds and it has emerged as a major player in the international tourism scene. In 2015, Malaysia registered 25.7 million tourist arrivals and RM69.1 billion in receipts, making tourism its second largest foreign exchange earner.