The Lakshadweep islands are a group of islands lying in the Arabian Sea, off the south-west coast of India. The word dweep means island and laksha means lakh or hundred-thousand. From the name, it would seem that there are a hundred-thousand islands in the archipelago, as a group of islands is called. But in reality, it has only 36 islands, scattered in the Arabian Sea. They form the smallest Union Territory in India. […]
When we in India meet someone, or when we greet guests, it is common to press our palms together, hold them close to the chest, fingers pointing up, and say Namaste. Depending on where in India we live, we may also say Namaskar, Namaskaram or Vanakkam. The gesture and the appropriate word are also often used in parting. This is a habit which we learn in childhood, and practice all through life. […]
The Kumbh Mela is considered the world’s largest religious gathering. Millions of people gather at particular places on the banks of one of four rivers during a specific auspicious period, and take a holy dip in the river. It is believed that doing so will wash away the sins of that person and his ancestors. There are various types of Kumbh Melas, and they occur at specific times. […]
India is known as a land of festivals. We celebrate religious as well as cultural festivals throughout the year. Almost all of them are declared as holidays for schools, colleges and Government institutions. But not all of them are celebrated by everyone everywhere in the country on the same day. There are three celebrations that are held across the country on the same date every year. These three dates are called ‘National Holidays’ because they are important to India as a nation. They are – Republic Day, Independence Day and Gandhi Jayanthi. […]
I have always known that my friend and colleague Deepa was a book worm. Armed with a list of books (that she would have read, cover to cover, in just 2 or 3 days), Deepa was forever giving us recommendations. One day, I noticed that instead of books, she was talking colors, exotic colors: ruby red, emerald green, sunshine yellow!
Wondering what was up, I asked her if she had taken to painting; true to her style, she gave me a long-suffering look. She opened her lunch box, and it was full of these colors! A salad of red tomatoes, green, red and yellow capsicums with some herbs sprinkled on them. I simply couldn’t say no to her offer to taste some and it was yummy! […]
In 1931, two British mountaineers, Frank S Smythe and R I Holdsworth, were returning from a trek up Mount Kamet in the Himalayas, when they lost their way and suddenly came upon an amazing sight – a valley carpeted with flowers of many colours! Frank Smythe was so fascinated that he returned some years later, and wrote a book about the place. He called it the Valley of Flowers, and that’s how it’s known even today. […]
The Bahá’í Temple in Delhi is quite different from other places of worship in India. It is shaped like a lotus flower. Passages from sacred texts of all religions decorate its walls. Everyone is welcome to come in and pray, no matter what faiths they follow. […]
The Indian cobra is a very poisonous snake found in the sub-continent. It lives not only in India, but also in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and parts of Afghanistan.
Cobras are easy to recognize because when they are angry or scared, they raise themselves up and blow out their ribs to form a ‘hood’. There is a ‘V’ pattern on the Indian cobra’s hood, something like a pair of spectacles, because of which it is also known as the ‘spectacled cobra’. […]
Patterns drawn on the ground outside front doors are a common sight in India. They are called kolam in south India and rangoli in north India, though they are known by some other names too. These patterns may be simple or complicated, drawn in white or with colours.
The tradition of drawing kolams dates back about 5000 years. There are several reasons why these patterns are drawn. Broadly speaking, they have a religious purpose, and a decorative one. […]
Puppets are popular all over the world. They are not just children’s toys. Older people enjoy them too. In many parts of India, different types of puppets are used to tell stories. Andhra Pradesh is famous for a special type of puppets. They are made of leather. Shows using these puppets are known as Tholu bommalata. […]
‘Practice makes one perfect’ is probably one line that we hear often, at many points in our lives. Be it as a baby attempting to roll for the first time or as a toddler who is trying to take those precious first steps or as a child trying to get balance on a two-wheeler after repeated failed attempts. ‘Practice makes one perfect’ is one line that is repeatedly used by every parent for their children and by every teacher for their students. […]
What is the first thing you reach out for in the Geometry period? My guess is, the ruler! This instrument makes calculations easier and solving sums speedier. Have you ever wondered since when this wonderful tool been around? You will be surprised to know that the answer to that question is since 2400 BCE! And where was it discovered? In our very own Indus Valley! […]
The Navratri festival is held to venerate three Hindu goddesses: Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati. ‘Nava’ means ‘nine’ and ‘ratri’ means ‘night’ – and, as per the name, the festival is spread over ‘nine nights’ (or days). Navaratri is primarily celebrated by women, as they are the ones who organise the festivities and take part in them. Different state celebrate them differently: with Kolu, a display of dolls, In Tamil Nadu, with Durga Puja in West Bengal; garba raas and dandiya raas in Gujarat; and Ram Lila in Uttar Padesh. […]
Black pepper, now commonly used as a seasoning around the world, originated in India – it was grown primarily in the Malabar coast or present-day Kerala. It was used in Indian cooking as early as 2000 BC, and spread from India to Southeast Asia. The spice, which imparted a great deal of flavor even when used minimally, was seen as a valuable spice by the ancient European traders, and was referred to as ‘black gold’. Following this, in the Dutch language, ‘pepper expensive’ (peperduur) is an expression for something very expensive. It was in search of trade in this spice that Vasco de Gama even led an expedition to India. […]
One day a farmer’s donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out a way to get him out. Finally he decided it was probably impossible and the animal was old and the well was dry anyway, so it just wasn’t worth it to try and retrieve the donkey. So the farmer asked his neighbours to come over and help him cover up the well. They all grabbed shovels and began to shovel dirt into the well. […]