An Indian Monsoon

With the recent heat wave in India, everyone is eagerly awaiting the arrival of the rains or the monsoon season. The Indian monsoon is the most prominent of the world’s monsoon systems, which primarily affects India and its surrounding water bodies. Along with much-needed relief from the hot weather, the rains bring with them a certain kind of monsoon magic. Here is a collection of 12 beautiful images showing India in all her monsoon glory!

An Indian mahout covers himself with a plastic sheet as he rides an elephant in heavy rain in Jammu, India.

An Indian mahout covers himself with a plastic sheet as he rides an elephant in heavy rain in Jammu.

Although we enjoy these year-round, pakoras and chai just taste better in the monsoon

Although we enjoy these year-round, pakoras and chai just taste better in the monsoon

Plucking tea leaves in Darjeeling during the rains

Plucking tea leaves in Darjeeling during the rains

Araku, Andhra Pradesh welcomes the greenery of the monsoon

Araku, Andhra Pradesh welcomes the greenery of the monsoon

What's a monsoon image gallery without a Bollywood rain song?

What’s a monsoon image gallery without a Bollywood rain song?

Bhuttas (corn on the cob) roasted on coals with lime and red chilli are a perfect rainy street snack

Bhuttas (corn on the cob) roasted on coals with lime and red chilli are a perfect rainy street snack

Steaming cups of chai being poured into kulhars (clay cups) - a monsoon necessity

Steaming cups of chai being poured into kulhars (clay cups) – a monsoon necessity

Monsoon sky in Kerala

Monsoon sky in Kerala

Jamun fruit or Indian blackberry is available for a short time starting with the monsoon

Jamun fruit or Indian blackberry is available for a short time starting with the monsoon

Waves crash on to Marine Drive in Mumbai during the high tide of the monsoon

Waves crash on to Marine Drive in Mumbai during the high tide of the monsoon

Boys play inside a drain as it rains in Mumbai

Boys play inside a drain as it rains in Mumbai

A peacock dancing signals the arrivals of rains in Rajasthan

A peacock dancing signals the arrivals of rains in Rajasthan

Maths & Meditation with Mandalas

The next time you’re at the beach or park with your kids, get them to make “Mandalas” (a Sanskrit word loosely meaning circles) with flowers, shells, stones and even driftwood. Creating mandalas is a great way to teach kids about design, proportion and abstraction.
Mandalas are intricate, repeating geometric shapes that make up a circle, radiating inward or outward. Similar patterns can be found in nature including flowers, the spiral on snails/shells, the rings on tree trunks, and the Milky Way.
Here are some tips on how to create Mandalas using outdoor materials with kids. http://playfullearning.net/…/…/making-mandala-art-with-kids/

Practical Ayurvedic Tips for the Cold & Flu Season

The word “Ayurveda” might conjure up images of bitter boiling herbs, unfamiliar neti pots and messy oil massages, and be dismissed for its impracticality for use in our busy modern lives.  But we can all use some basic principles from this 5,000 year old system that originated in India, for holistic health and prevention of illness.  Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word that means “knowledge of life” (Ayu = life, veda = knowledge) and takes holistic medicine a step further by not only treating individuals as a whole instead of isolated symptoms, but also recognizing them as an inextricable part of the entire universe.

Ayurveda understands our inherent relationship with nature and its laws and rhythms and guides us to live in balance with the particular qualities of each season.  Here are some simple, self-care remedies and preventive tips that you can easily incorporate in your family’s lives during the cold and flu season.

1.  Bundle up

This might seem obvious, but deserves a mention especially since many of us neglect covering up our heads and necks. Use your favorite chunky scarf and wrap yourself before you step out into the cold. For you knitters out there (if you’re not one, maybe it’s worth trying – it’s a great winter activity that you can even involve your kids in!), here’s a simple scarf pattern that you can start at the beginning of a movie and finish before the final credits roll!

scarf

2.  Eat nourishing foods

Think warm soups and stews flavored with warming spices. Eat foods rich in protein and high-quality fats, to preserve moisture and maintain warmth. Choose warm food and drink over cold, moist and oily over dry and nourishing over light. Who doesn’t love a warm bowl of rice and mung dal “khichdi” drizzled with ghee? Here’s a recipe for a basic khichdi, a one pot meal that’s easy to make. Add your favorite chopped vegetables and you have a hearty winter dinner.

KitchariRecipe

3.  Stay hydrated

We all know about the importance of staying hydrated and increasing our intake of fluids to get rid of colds and flu quicker. Choose to drink warm, room temperature water instead of cold water and supplement with warm and soothing teas.  Treat yourself to a tasty tea, using fresh or ground spices. Steep some ginger and cinnamon in hot water for 10–15 minutes and when the tea has cooled down, add a little raw honey.

Ayurvedic-tea

4.  Maintain a moderately moist indoor environment

Using a humidifier can remove bacteria, dust, and allergens from the air; prevent dry skin and lips and respiratory problems; and contribute to a better functioning immune system. Adding eucalyptus and or lavender essential oils to the humidifier can clear the air of lingering pathogens and provide an aromatherapeutic experience.

humidifier

Sources:

http://www.kripalu.org/article/226

http://www.chopra.com/our-services/ayurveda

http://www.samadhiayurveda.com/sedona-massage/flu-and-cold-season-demystifyed-through-ayurveda/

A Visual Journey Through an Unusual Indian Festival

The small, sleepy town of Pushkar in Rajasthan, India, awakens every year around October/ November as it welcomes roughly 50,000 camels and 200,000 people to the spectacular camel fair. In 2014, the fair will be held from October 31st to November 6th. As locals are busy preparing for the upcoming Mela, we wanted to share 8 stunning images from the past years. Kids will enjoy learning about this traditional and unusual festival of India!

Pushkar fair_1

Camels converge on the tiny desert town of Pushkar

Pushkar fair_2

A mustache competition is just one of many peculiar exhibitions at the Pushkar camel fair

Pushkar fair_3

The beautiful ghats of Lake Pushkar – where visitors bathe on the day of the full moon

Pushkar fair_4

Believed to be about 2000 years old, this temple is one of very few existing temples dedicated to Lord Brahma

Pushkar fair_5

It is possible to avoid the crowds and have a bird’s eye view of the goings-on from a hot air balloon

Pushkar fair_6

Desert beauties pose for the camera

Pushkar fair_7

Sunset over the fair

Pushkar fair_8

Proudly parading at the camel beauty contest