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Magic of Kondapalli Toys

Wooden toys
Did you know that animals, birds, reptiles and humans learn the lessons of life through play? Any object can be used as a toy. Lion cubs even play with their parent's tail! Human children play with objects of daily life, like spoons and cardboard boxes. But toys remain the favourite playthings of most children.In India, the oldest toys...

The Peacocks are Dying

May 11: The residents of the Rajasthan State Electricity Board colony in Heerapur, 12 km from Jaipur, are in shock. They don’t know how to reconcile to the sudden, unexplained deaths of 19 peacocks in their colony in the first week of May. The priest at the Radha Krishna temple in the colony is inconsolable: there are no more...

Where Holi is the Talk of the Town

Krishna and Radha Celebrating the Holi Festival
Think of Holi and you think of two places in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh where the festival has a special status. First, the area known as Brajbhoomi comprising Mathura, Vrindavan, Govardhan, Gokul (all connected to Lord Krishna's birth, childhood and early youth) and Barsana (Radha's village). Here Holi is a robust enactment of the legends of Radha...

Holi is For Children

Kamla Mathur was born and brought up in Etah, a small town in Uttar Pradesh. Now, at 65, she lives in Delhi and reminisces fondly of the Holi she and her siblings celebrated at 'home', in the area called Brajbhoomi, the land where the Braj dialect of Hindi is spoken. Brajbhoomi refers to the places connected to the legends...

Instrument with a Human Tone

A family of musicians in the city of Mysore, in Karnataka, has a unique family heirloom -- a beautiful 300-year-old veena. The veena is India's most ancient Indian stringed instrument.The veena is a poly chord instrument, that is, it is made of several strings. Each string produces a certain tone, which other strings cannot duplicate. Melody is produced when...

Deepavali: Festival of Lights

Deepavali - or Diwali - as is commonly uttered - literally means rows of lamps. These lamps light up houses all over the country, but for different reasons.In West Bengal, it is time to worship Kali, the goddess with the fearsome strength, and in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh it is time to remember Dhanvantari, the divine physician. To some,...

The Gift of Wonder

Eleven years ago, under the sequinned sky on a warm summer day, on the roof of his palatial home in the town of Vrindaban, my grandfather introduced me to wonder. As I lay on a mattress surrounded members of the family, my grandfather or “Nana” as I used to call him, asked me to look at the sky and...

Dress Relief

The doorbell rang. ‘Now darling remember all that I have told you,’ said Ma for the umpteenth time as she nervously opened the door. There stood Grandma in her white saree, as upright as ever with the perpetual stern look on her face. ‘Jeetiraho’ boomed her voice as Ma touched her feet. I followed her example and then helped...

Janamashtmi – The Day Krishna was Born

Janamashtmi-- The Day Krishna was Born
Janamashtmi, or the birth anniversary of Lord Krishna -- the seventh avatar of Lord Vishnu -- is celebrated with traditional gaiety and fervour all over India. It falls on the eighth day of the waning moon in the month of Shravan in August/ September. Lord Krishna is believed to have been born at midnight on this day. The day...

Excerpts From ‘The world of trees’

This is a remarkable book on trees – trees which are not just ‘described’ to you in words as having branches, leaves and sweet-smelling flowers, but trees which you can actually ‘see’ as you read. Big trees, tall trees, stately trees….all come alive with the cries and activities of the numerous birds and insects living on them, the age...

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