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Sunday, March 6, 2016



Daughter of the jungle
Look at the picture. Where do you think these children are off to, with little bundles on their sticks? When you find out you too would want to go with them!

The children are going to the forest. There they jump, run, climb trees and sing songs in their language called Kuduk. They pick the fallen flowers and leaves, to weave them into necklaces.

They enjoy the wild fruits. They look for birds, whose calls they imitate. Joining them in all this fun is their favourite didi – Suryamani. Every Sunday Suryamani takes the children to the forest.

As they move around, she shows them how to recognize the trees, the plants, and animals. Children enjoy this special class in a forest! Suryamani always says, “To learn to read the forest is as important as reading books.”

She says,”We are forest people (adivasis). Our lives are linked to the forests. If the forests are not there, we too will not remain.”

Suryamani’s story is a true story. Suryamani is a ‘Girl Star’. ‘Girl Stars’ is a project which tells extraordinary tales of ordinary girls, who have changed their lives by going to school.

Growing Up
Suryamani loves the forest since she was a child. She would not take the direct road to school, but would choose the path through the forest. Suryamani’s father had a small field.

Her family used to collect leaves and herbs from the forest and sell these in the bazaar. Her mother would weave baskets from bamboo or make leaf plates out of the fallen leaves.

But now no one can pick up a single leaf from the forest. That is since Shambhu the contractor came there. The people of Suryamani’s village were afraid of the contractor.

Everyone except Budhiyamai. She would say, “We the people of this forest have a right over it. We look after our forests, we don't cut trees like these contractors do. The forest is like our ‘collective bank’ – not yours or mine alone. We take from it only as much as we need. We don’t use up all our wealth.”

Suryanani’s father could no longer support the family on the small land. He moved to the town in search of work. But things did not improve. Sometimes there would be no food in the house.

At times Maniya Chacha (uncle) would send some grain from his small shop to Suryamani’s house. Chacha tried hard and got admission for Suryamani in the school in Bishanpur.

Here they would not have to pay for the fees, uniforms and books. Suryamani would have to stay there and study. Suryamani didn't want to leave her village and forest. But Maniya Chacha was firm.

“If you do not study, what will you do? Go hungry?” Suryamani would argue, “Why should I go hungry? The jungle is there to help!” Chacha tried
to explain, “But we are being moved away from our forests.

Even the forests are disappearing – in their place mines are being dug, dams are being built. Believe me, it is important for you to study, to understand about the laws. Maybe then you can help to save our forests”. Young Suryamani listened, and tried to understand some of what he said

Suryamani’s journey:
Suryamani was filled with joy on seeing the school at Bishanpur. The school was near a thick forest. Suryamani studied hard and passed her B.A. after getting a scholarship.

She was the first girl in the village to do this. While she was in college she met Vasavi didi, a journalist. Suryamani soon joined her to work for the Jharkhand Jungle Bachao Andolan (Movement to Save the Forests of Jharkhand).

This work took Suryamani to far off towns and cities. Her father did not like this. But Suryamani continued her work. Not only that, she also started to fight for the rights of the village people. Her childhood friend Bijoy helped her in this work.

Suryamani had another friend ‘Mirchi’, who stayed with her day and night. Suryamani would share all her thoughts and dreams with Mirchi. Mirchi would listen and say “Keee Keee.” Suryamani had a dream. for her Kuduk community. She wanted all her people to feel proud of being adivasis.

Suryamani’s Torang:
Suryamani was 21 when she opened a centre, with the help of Vasavi didi and others. She called it ‘Torang’, which means jungle in the Kuduk language.

Suryamani wanted that on festivals people should sing their own songs. They should not forget their music and should enjoy wearing their traditional clothes.

Children should also learn about herbs, medicines, and the art of making things from bamboo. Children should learn the language of school but must link it with their own language.

All this happens in the ‘Torang’ centre. Many special books about the Kuduk community and other adivasis have been collected. Flutes and different types of drums are also kept there.

Whenever something is unfair, or if someone is afraid that his land and livelihood would be taken away, they turn to Suryamani. Suryamani fights for everyone’s rights.

Suryamani and Bijoy have got married and work together. Today their work is praised by many people. She is invited, even to other countries, to share her experiences. People of her area are also raising their voice for a new forest law.

Right to Forest Act 2007

People who have been living in the forests for at least 25 years, have a right over the forest land and what is grown on it. They should not be removed from the forest.

The work of protecting the forest should be done by their Gram Sabha. A forest is everything for us adivasis. We can’t live away from the forests even for a day. Government has started many projects in the name of development – dams and factories are being built.

Forests, which are ours are being taken away from us. Because of these projects, we need to think where the forest people will go and what will happen to their livelihood?

Where will the lakhs of animals living in the forests go? If there are no forests, and we dig out our lands for minerals like aluminium, what will be left? Only polluted air, water, and miles and miles of barren land...

Lottery for farming in Mizoram:
You read about the forests of Jharkhand in Suryamani’s story. Now read about forests on the hills of Mizoram. See how people live there, and
how farming is done.

Ding, Ding, Ding.... As soon as the school bell rang Lawmte-aa, Dingi, Dingima picked their bags and hurried home. On the way they stopped to drink water from a stream in a cup made of bamboo which was kept there.

Today not only the children, even ‘Saima Sir’ was in a hurry to get back. Today there would be a special meeting of the Village Council (Panchayat). At the meeting there would be a lottery to decide which family will get how much land for farming.

The land belongs to the whole village, not to separate people. So they take turns to do farming on different parts of the land. A beautiful pot made of bamboo was shaken well. One chit was taken out. Saima Sir’s family got the first chance.

He said, “I am happy that my family gets to choose first. But, this year we cannot take more land. Last year I had taken more and was not able to farm it well. After my sister Jhiri got married and went away it is difficult to manage farming alone.”

Saima Sir asked for ‘three tin’ of land. Little Mathini asked, “ What is three tin of land? Chamui explained, “The land on which we grow one tin of seeds is called one tin of land.” One by one, the village families got their piece of land for farming.

Jhoom farming:
Jhoom farming is very interesting. After cutting one crop, the land is left as it is for some years. Nothing is grown there. The bamboo or weeds which grow on that land are not pulled out. They are cut and burnt.

The ash makes the land fertile. While burning, care is taken so that the fire does not spread to the other parts of the forest. When the land is ready for farming it is lightly dug up, not ploughed.

Seeds are dropped on it. In one farm different types of crops like maize, vegetables, chillies, rice can be grown. Weeds and other unwanted plants are also not pulled out, they are just cut. So that they get mixed with the soil.

This also helps in making the soil fertile. If some family is not able to do farming on time, others help them and are given food.

The main crop here is rice. After it is cut, it is difficult to take it home. There are no roads, only hilly paths. People have to carry the crop on their
backs. This takes many weeks. When the work is over the entire village celebrates.

 People get together to cook and eat, sing and dance. They do their special ‘cheraw’ dance. In this dance people sit in pairs in front of each other, holding bamboo sticks on the ground.

As the drum beats, the bamboos are beaten to the ground. Dancers step in and out of the bamboo sticks, and dance to the beat.

Find out more about the ‘cheraw’ dance. Do it in your class. But be careful and don’t hurt yourself. About three-fourth people in Mizoram are linked to the forests.

Life is difficult but almost all children go to school. You can see some of them here, playfully blowing their leaf whistles! You too have made many such whistles, haven’t you!




I am a small seed!
I am a small bajra seed. I have stayed in this beautiful wooden box since 1940. I want to tell you my story. This is a long story but not mine alone. It is also the story of my farmer Damjibhai and his family. If I do not tell my story now, it might be too late!

I was born in Vangaam in Gujarat. That year there was a good bajra (millet) crop. There was a festive mood in the village. Our area was famous for its grain and vegetables.

Each year Damjibhai kept aside some seeds from a good crop. This way
our bajra family went on from one generation to another. Good seeds were stored in dried gourd (lauki ) which was coated with mud.

But that year Damjibhai himself made a strong wooden box to store us. He put in neem leaves to protect us from insects. He put different seeds in different compartments of the box. That was our beautiful home!

In those days Damjibhai and his cousins lived together. It was a large family. Everyone in the village helped each other, even in farming. When
the crop was ready and harvested, everyone celebrated together.

Oh! Those wonderful days! With big feasts and lots to eat! In the winter, it would be time to enjoy the undhiya (a kind of stew). All the vegetables were put into a clay pot, along with fresh spices. The pot was sealed and kept between hot coals. The vegetables cooked slowly in this special cooker, on the fields.

Oh, I forgot, the pot was placed upside down! That is why the dish was called undhiya or “upside down” in Gujarati. Undhiya would be eaten with bajra rotis, freshly cooked on the chulha. Oh, what an earthy delicious flavour!

Along with that, home-made butter, curd and buttermilk was served.
Farmers would grow many different kinds of crops – grains and vegetables according to the season. The farmers kept enough for their needs and sold the rest to shopkeepers from the city.

Some farmers also grew cotton. At home, family members spun cotton on a charkha (spinning wheel) to make cloth.

When times changed:
Over the years, many changes took place in the village. Some places could get water from the canal. They said the canal brought water from far away – where a dam had been built on a big river.

Then electricity came. Switch on the button and there was light! People found that only one or two crops, like wheat and cotton, got better prices in the market.

So most farmers began to grow only these. Soon we – old friends bajra and jowar, and also vegetables – were forgotten and dismissed, even from
Damjibhai’s fields! Farmers even began to buy seeds from the market.

People said they were new kinds of seeds. So farmers did not need to store seeds from the old crop.

Now people in the village cooked and ate together only on very special days. As they ate, they would remember how tasty the food used to be in the past – fresh from the fields.

When the seeds have changed, how could food ever taste the same! Damjibhai was getting old. His son Hasmukh looked after the fields and the family. Hasmukh was making a lot of money from farming. He rebuilt the old house.

He brought new machines for farming. He used an electric motor to pump water. He bought a motorcycle to go to the city easily and also a tractor to plough the field. The tractor could do in a day, what the bullocks would take many days to do.

Hasmukh would say, “Now we are farming wisely. We grow only what we can sell in the market at a good price. With profits from our fields we can improve our life.

We can make progress.” Lying forgotten in the wooden box, I and
the other seeds had our doubts. Is all this really progress? There is no longer any need for seeds like us, and animals like the bullocks. After the tractor has come, even people who worked on the fields, are no longer needed. How will they earn money? What will they live on?

More and more expenses:
The next twenty years saw even more changes. Without cows and buffaloes, there was no cow dung, to be used in the fields as fertilizer. Hasmukh had to buy expensive fertilizer.

The new kinds of seeds were such that the crops were easily affected by harmful insects. Medicines had to be sprayed on the crops to keep away
the insects.

Oh, what a bad smell these had, and how expensive they were! The canal water was not enough for the new crops. All the farmers used pumps to lift
water from deep under the ground.

To meet all these expenses, loans had to be taken from the bank. Whatever little profit was made, was used to repay the loan. But there was little profit!

Everyone was growing cotton, so the cotton prices were not as high as before. The soil itself was no longer the same. Growing the same crop
over and over, and using so many chemicals, had affected the soil so much that now nothing could grow well there.

It was becoming difficult to earn a living by farming alone. Hasmukh too changed with the times. He is often tense and angry most of the time. His educated son Paresh did not want to do farming. He now started work as a truck driver.

After all, the bank loans still had to be repaid. Often Paresh doesn’t come home for days. At times he is away for a week. Two days back when he came home, Paresh started looking for something.

“Ba”, he asked his mother, “Where is Dadaji’s wooden seed box? It will be useful to keep the screws and tools for the truck.” Now do you understand why I told you my story?

Read the report from a newspaper and discuss it:
Tuesday, 18 December 2007, Andhra Pradesh Farmers in Andhra Pradesh have been sent to jail for not being able to pay back their loans.

They had suffered a big loss in farming. One of these farmers, Nallappa Reddy, had taken a bank loan of Rs. 24,000. To repay the loan, he had to take another loan from a private moneylender, at a very high rate of interest.

Even after repaying Rs. 34,000 Reddy could not repay the entire loan. Reddy says, “The bank sends farmers to jail for not paying back small loans. But what about the big businessmen? They take loans of crores of rupees.

Nothing happens to them when they do not return the money!” Nallappa Reddy’s story is shared by thousands of farmers in India who are suffering huge losses.

The situation is so bad that many farmers see no way out of this except to commit suicide. According to government figures 1,50,000 farmers have died like this between 1997 and 2005. This number may be much higher...

Bhaskarbhai’s Farm (Dehri village, Gujarat)
As we entered his farm, we were surprised. There were dead leaves, wild plants, and grass everywhere! Some of the tree branches seemed so dry, as if eaten by insects. At places we saw some plants with colourful leaves.

Why these? Bhaskarbhai said they were croton plants which gave him a signal when the soil became dry. We were surprised! How? He explained that the roots of the croton do not go deep in the ground.

So when the top layer of the soil becomes dry, the croton leaves bend and become limp. This signal tells Bhaskarbhai which part of his farm needs to be watered.

We found the soil soft and crumbly. We could see tall coconut trees, full of fresh coconuts. We thought he must be using some special fertilisers.
Bhaskarbhai said he does not buy fertilisers made in factories.

His soil is fertile because of all the dried leaves which slowly rot and mix with it. He dug the soil a little and told us to look. We saw thousands of earthworms! “These are my soil's best friends”, he said.

The earthworms soften the soil as they keep digging underneath to make tunnels. This way air and water can easily get into the soil. The earthworms also eat the dead leaves and plants, and their droppings fertilise the soil.

Pravin told us about his uncle in the city, who has dug a pit in his garden. He puts dried leaves in the pit, along with all the kitchen waste – peels of vegetables and fruits, and leftover food. He also has earthworms in the pit.

They turn the waste into compost (a natural fertiliser). So his uncle gets good fertiliser without spending extra money. We all had some fresh coconuts from the farm. They were really tasty! We also learnt so much about a new way of farming! Group members : Praful, Hansa, Krutika, Chakki, Praveen, Class–5C

Journey of a bajra seed–from a field to a plate
What can you see in each picture on the next page?
In picture 2 you can see the bajra cobs in the mortar (okhli, usedfor crushing). The cobs are crushed with a pestle (moosli ) andthe seeds are separated from the cob.

You can see the separatedseeds in picture 3. Now this work is also done by big machines,like threshers. We call both these as different ‘technologies’ –using our hands or big machines – to crush the seeds.


Friday, October 15, 2021

Happy Dussehra or Vijayadashami | Importance and Significance of Navratri

India is a land of festivals and celebrations. One or the other festival is celebrated in some part of the country throughout the year. All festivals convey the message of love, brotherhood and unity. They are celebrated by all Indians. Dussehra is an important festival. It is also known as Vijyadashmi. Dussehra or Vijayadashami is an important Hindu festival which signifies the victory of god over evil. This annual festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm and fervour by Hindus across the world on the tenth day of the Navratras, which falls on the tenth day of Ashwin or Kartik months as per the Hindu calendar. As mentioned earlier, Dussehra or Vijayadashami has various stories behind it and so the festival is celebrated in different ways across India. For instance, in most states in North or Western India, Dussehra is celebrated in honour of Lord Rama. Ram lilas, which are re-enactment of musical plays based on the Ramcharitramanas are performed leading to Dussehra when large effigies of Ravana, Kumbhakaran and Meghanad are burnt down.

On the contrary, in many places in South India, the festival is celebrated in honour of Maa Saraswati-- Hindu Goddess of knowledge and arts. On this day, people clean and worship their instruments of livelihood and seek Goddess Saraswati's blessings. In Western India, especially in Gujarat, people observe fasts and worship the nine avatars of Goddess Durga for the nine days of Navratras leading to Dussehra or Vijayadashami. Dandiya and Garba are played during these nine days. On the tenth day, Maa Durga's idol is immersed in water signifying her return to Mount Kailash with Lord Shiva. Meanwhile, in West Bengal Durga Puja leads to Vijayadashami, also called Bijoy Dashomi, where in clay statues of Maa Durga are immersed in water bodies thus bidding a farewell to the Goddess. Right before the immersion, Bengali women indulge in Sindoor Khela wherein they apply vermilion (sindoor) on each other and wear red clothing-- ths signifying Maa Durga's victory.

During the nine days preceding to Dussehra or Durga Puja, devotees in the eastern states worship the nine avatars of Goddess Durga. Each of these nine forms represent a different side of Goddess Durga. Maa Bramhacharini is seen as a symbol of peace and purity, while Maa Kushmanda is believed to be the source of all energy in the Universe. People also prefer to buy new vehicles, properties or other new things on the day of Dussehra. It is an auspicious occasion and is believed to be the perfect day to start a new project or business. Devotees distribute gifts and sweets among their relatives and friends and also believe in celebrating this festival with their close ones. People often pray for a new beginning in their lives and also ask for forgiveness for any wrongdoings. Dussehra celebration is an important part of Indian culture. The vibrant colours, the huge idols and the relatable themes are a major attraction for foreign tourists. It holds a special place in the hearts of devotees and is usually followed by the festival of lights – Diwali.

Navratri is considered as an important sacred festival in the Hindu religion. Navratri worships Goddess Durga and her various forms which are the epitomes of power and have the ability to bring in anything desired. Not to forget it were these 9 Goddesses (NavDurga) who were able to conquer the most dangerous demon who could not be defeated by any of the other superpowers. Hence, you could have understood the importance and significance of these 9 days which are the most powerful of all. Navratri in India is a big religious festivity for nine propitious days. The celebration goes on for these favorable days with different rituals and customs in distinct parts. These nine days have a great significance in Hindu culture and religion. The worshipers adore their mother in beautiful incarnations with incompatible celebrations for nine consecutive days of Navratri. Here is the importance of Navratri Celebration.

Goddess Shakti exists in numerous ferocious as well as innocent manifestations; hence the celebration of each day of Navratri is dedicated to each Goddess embodiment for nine sacred days. Navratri is revered to show utter devotion and respect to Goddess and thus recognized with full devotion, zeal, and enthusiasm all over the country.It is believed that Mother Durga defeated the demon- Mahishasura on this festivity, therefore the solemnization begins with lightening the houses, temples and other divine places to spread happiness and gaiety all the corners. 

In North India, the nine-day festival Chaitra Navratri is observed to celebrate the victory of Rama over Ravana. During the festival, people dress up in traditional clothing, observe fasts, and offer prayers. Being one of the celebrated and distinguished religious occurrences for the Hindu community, this festival has become the most reverenced holy occasion.The occasion exhibits the victory of good over evil, thence the sacred glee starts with fasting, decorations, bhajans. People also invite small girls for the bhog and Prasad followed by placing goddesses’ images during the last days.In Hindu narrations, Chaitra Navratri is also termed as Vasant/ Basant Navratri since this divine revelry marks the beginning of Vasant Ritu or Spring Season in Indian culture.

'Navratri' means 'nine nights.' 'Nava' means 'nine,’ and 'Ratri' means 'night.' The saints have given more significance. Understanding it scientifically; night is peaceful and quiet, tantra-mantra and other supernatural things are in a strong position. It is easy to concentrate at the night. Chanting Mantra in a peaceful environment yields auspicious results. Many obstacles of nature are removed. This time may be used for gaining mental power and Yogic powers. Scientifically, performing things during the day increases the chances of problems in concentrating; just the way radio signals face problems during day time but improve in the night. The sound of the bells and conch kills Germs up-to far-away places. This period is used for Siddhi for fulfilling wishes. We worship the divine power to bestow upon all of us enough potent powers to maintain our physical and mental balance. Then they keep Shradha to remember our ancestors. So we can remember the beautiful memory those we have spent with our grandfather, grandmother & others. When we think about those happy moments, our Satwa goes up, so our energy level goes up.

On the first day, Devi Shailaputri (శైలపుత్రి-గాయత్రీదేవి) is worshipped. Devi Parvati is revered as the daughter of Himalaya Raja. Shaila means extraordinary or rising to great heights. The divine consciousness represented by Devi always surges from the peak. On this first day of Navratri, we propitiate Devi Shailaputri so that we may also attain the highest state of consciousness.

Devi Brahmacharini is propitiated. Devi Brahmacharini is the form of Devi Parvati in which she undertook severe penance to have Lord Shiva as Her consort. Brahma means divine consciousness and achar refers to behavior. This day is especially sacred to meditate and explore our inner divinity. Brahmacharya is the behavior or an act that is established in divine consciousness. 

Chandraghata is the special form that Devi Parvati assumed at the time of Her marriage with Lord Shiva. Chandra refers to the moon. The moon represents our mind. The mind is restless and keeps moving from one thought to another. Ghanta is a bell which produces only one kind of sound always. This day thus signifies withdrawing from all vagaries of the mind, with a single focus on Mother Divine. The significance is that when our mind is established at one point, i.e Divine, then our prana (subtle life force energy) gets consolidated leading to harmony and peace. 

On the fourth day, Mother Divine is worshipped as Devi Kushmanda. Kushmanda means a pumpkin. Ku means little, ushma means energy and anda refers to egg. This entire universe which arose from the cosmic egg (hiranyagarbha) is manifested from an infinitesimal energy of Devi. On this day, we worship Devi Kushmanda who showers us with Her divine energy. A pumpkin also represents prana as it has the unique property of absorbing and radiating prana. It is one of the most pranic vegetables. 

Skandamata means Mother of Skanda. On the fifth day, the motherly aspect of Devi Parvati is worshipped. In this form, she is the mother of Lord Karthikeya. She represents motherly affection (vatsalya). Worshiping this form of Devi brings abundance of wisdom, wealth, power, prosperity and liberation.

It is a form that Mother Divine assumed to annihilate the demonic forces in the universe. She was born from the anger of the gods. She is the one who slayed Mahishasura. As per our scriptures, anger that supports dharma (righteousness) is acceptable. Devi Katyayani represents that divine principle and form of the Mother Divine who is behind natural calamities and disasters. She is the anger that arises in creation to restore balance. Devi Katyayani is invoked on the sixth day to put an end to all our inner foes that are an obstacle on the path of spiritual evolution.

Mother Nature has two extremes. One is terrifying and devastating. The other is beautiful and serene. Devi Kalaratri is a fierce form of Devi. Kalaratri represents the dark night. Night is also considered an aspect of Mother Divine as it is night that brings solace, rest and comfort to our souls. It is only at night that we get a glimpse of infinity in the skies. Devi Kalaratri is that infinite dark energy that houses innumerable universes.

Devi Mahagauri is that which is beautiful, gives momentum and freedom in life. Mahagauri represents the beautiful and serene aspect of Nature. She is that energy which propels our lives and also liberates us. She is the Devi who is worshipped on the eighth day.

Siddhi means perfection. Devi Siddhidatri brings perfection in life. She makes the impossible, possible. She takes us beyond the ever reasoning logical mind to explore the realm beyond time and space.

Like all other festivals in India, Dussehra is observed with much enthusiasm and fervor by people of all ages. Though people from various corners of India celebrate this festival, the significance and mode of celebrations differ from place to place. Here are some of the key highlights of the celebration:

Processions: In some parts of the country where Vijaya Dashami is observed, people take out large processions and carry the idols of Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesh, and Kartik to a river or large water body for immersion. Such processions are marked by music, singing, dancing, and a mood of merriment. Ram Leela: Elsewhere, people take part in Ram Leelas, which are dance dramas depicting the epic of Ramayana. In these musicals, people including children dress up as characters from Ramayana and enact the scenes. These plays continue for nine days prior to the final act of killing Ravana on the Dussehra day. Ravan Dahan: In some other places, the main attraction of Dussehra is Ravan Dahan. It involves the burning of towering effigies of Ravana along with those of his brother Kumbhakaran and son Meghnad. The burning of effigies symbolizes – oh, that’s a no-brainer – the destruction of evil. Besides these, people also burst crackers and feast with their family and friends. Colorful fairs and exhibitions are put up at many places that add to the frenzied atmosphere of the festival.


Saturday, August 21, 2021

Raksha Bandhan

Sending you a thread of love which will bind our heart and life and makes our bond of togetherness stronger. Happy Raksha Bandhan! Wishing you a very Happy Raksha Bandhan!!

The festival of Raksha Bandhan will be celebrated on August 26 and it is considered as one of the most important festivals in Hinduism. The name, Raksha Bandhan, translates to ‘Protection Bond’, which signifies the promise to protect. On this auspicious day, sisters tie ‘Rakhi’ around the wrist of their brothers. The Rakhi thread is considered as sacred because it reminds of the promise a brother makes to her sister that he will protect her until death. On the occasion, sisters pray for the good health and well being of their brothers and in lieu get gifts from their brother.

Celebrated on the full-moon day of the Hindu month of Sravana (July/August), this festival celebrates the love of a brother for his sister. On this day, sisters tie rakhi on the wrists of their brothers to protect them against evil influences, and pray for their long life and happiness. They in turn, give a gift which is a promise that they will protect their sisters from any harm. Within these Rakhis reside sacred feelings and well wishes. This festival is mostly celebrated in North India.

Meaning of Raksha Bandhan
The festival is made up of two words, namely "Raksha" and "Bandhan." As per the Sanskrit terminology, the occasion means "the tie or knot of protection" where "Raksha" stands for the protection and "Bandhan" signifies the verb to tie. Together, the festival symbolizes the eternal love of brother-sister relationship which does not mean just the blood relationships only. It is also celebrated among cousins, sister and sister-in-law (Bhabhi), fraternal aunt (Bua) and nephew (Bhatija) and other such relations.

History: The history of Rakshabandhan dates back to Hindu mythology. As per Hindu mythology, in Mahabharata, the great Indian epic, Draupadi, wife of the Pandavas had torn the corner of her sari to prevent Lord Krishna's wrist from bleeding (he had inadvertently hurt himself). Thus, a bond, that of brother and sister developed between them, and he promised to protect her.

It is also a great sacred verse of unity, acting as a symbol of life's advancement and a leading messenger of togetherness. Raksha means protection, and in some places in medieval India, where women felt unsafe, they tie Rakhi on the wrist of men, regarding them as brothers. In this way, Rakhi strengthens the bond of love between brothers and sisters, and revives the emotional bonding. Brahmins change their sacred thread (janoi) on this day, and dedicate themselves once again to the study of the scriptures.

Importance of Raksha Bandhan among various religions in India
Hinduism- The festival is mainly celebrated by the Hindus in the northern and western parts of India along with countries like Nepal, Pakistan and Mauritius.
Jainism- The occasion is also revered by the Jain community where Jain priests give ceremonial threads to the devotees.
Sikhism- This festival devoted to the brother-sister love is observed by the Sikhs as "Rakhardi" or Rakhari.

Importance of Raksha Bandhan
As we all know, siblings carry a special place in our hearts. However, the particular bond of a brother and sister is very unique. The care they have for each other knows no bounds. The love they share is beyond compare. 

No matter how much they fight with one another, they always stand behind them in support. Brothers and sisters fight with each other over trivial matters. In other words, they share a bond which is full of teasing and love.

Brothers and sisters help us grow. At every stage of our lives, the bond between them grows stronger. They stand with each other through thick and thin. The elder brothers are very protective of their sisters. Similarly, elder sisters care a lot for their younger brothers. The younger ones look up to their elder siblings.

Raksha Bandhan is all about celebrating this bond. It is a symbolism of the unique and special relationship shared by the two. This day has been rightly recognized to have a good time and focus on this beautiful bond. It serves as a symbol of their love, togetherness, and confidence in each other.

Occasion of Raksha Bandhan
Raksha Bandhan is a time for pampering for the sisters. On this auspicious occasion, the sisters tie a sacred thread i.e. rakhi, on their brother’s wrist. It is done so with the intent to wish good health and long life. On the other hand, the brothers, in turn, bless their sisters and pledge to protect them and care for them all their lives. The sisters receive a lot of love and pampering on this day. It is in the form of chocolates, gifts, money, dresses and more.

The family members dress up for this occasion, usually in ethnic wear. We see the markets flooded with colorful rakhis and gifts. Every year, fashionable and trendiest rakhis do the rounds of the market. Women shop for the perfect rakhis for their brothers and the men go out to buy gifts for their sisters. 

In conclusion, Raksha Bandhan is one of the most enjoyable festivals. It gives the brother and sister to strengthen their bond. Nowadays, even sisters who do not have brothers celebrate Raksha Bandhan with their sisters. The essence of the festival remains the same nonetheless.

Friday, January 15, 2016


Come, let us play a game together. You must be familiar with this game. All the children stand in a circle.
Let one child stand in the centre and play a tune. Everyone must run in a circle as long as the music plays. The child who is playing the music, will suddenly stop it and call out a small number like ‘five’, ‘four’ or ‘two’ loudly. Children have to form groups according to the number called out.
The children who cannot join any group will have to leavethe game. Continue to play this game till only two children are left in the circle.
All of us prefer to live with people than to live alone. We always live in groups. Let’s see one such group – Gurleen, Nagarajan and their children Tanya and Samar.
The people in the picture you saw belong to one family. We often see pictures or photographs of such families. Where do we see such a family? Are all families similar to this one ? Let us read about a few families.


Sitamma lives in her ancestral house in a small city Guntoor. Her dada, dadi, younger chacha and bua live on the ground floor. In one portion of the first floor, Sitamma lives with her father, mother and younger sister Gitamma. In the other portion live her tauji and his three children.
Her taiji died just a few months ago. Her elder chacha and the new chachi live in one of the rooms on the terrace. They are newly married.
Before dinner, Sitamma’s mother teaches all the children. Food for the whole family is cooked in the same kitchen on the ground floor. They all make special effort to be together at dinner time.

Nowadays, tauji ’s younger daughter sleeps with Sitamma’s mother at night. In the morning Sitamma helps her get ready for school.

Tara lives with her amma and nana in Chennai. Her amma Meenakshi is not married. She has adopted Tara. Meenakshi goes to the office in the morning and returns in the evening.
When Tara returns from school, her nana takes care of her. He is the one who feeds her, helps her to do homework and also plays with her.

During vacations, the three of them go to far off places and enjoy themselves. At times, Tara’s mausi, mausa and their children also come to their house. At such times they play together for long hours and also chit chat.

Sara and Habib live in a city. Both are employed. Habib is a clerk in a government office and Sara teaches in a school. Habib’s abbu is retired and lives with them.
In the evening, the three of them sit together and watch television or play cards. Abbu enjoys watching television with the others. He enjoys the discussion as well. On holidays, the neighbour’s children come to their house and create a lot of fun. Everybody enjoys together. They play games, go out and at times go for plays and movies.


Totaram lives with his father, uncle and cousin brothers in a colony in Mumbai. Totaram and his brothers have come to Mumbai to study. His father and uncle work here.
Everybody does the household work together. Food cooked by Totaram’s chacha is liked by everyone.Totaram’s father does the shopping.

A part of the money earned is sent to Totaram’s dada in the village. Totaram’s mother, dada, dadi, chachi and younger brothers and sisters live in their parental house in the village. Once a year, Totaram goes to his village. He misses his mother very much. He writes long letters to her.

Krishna and kavari

Krishna and Kaveri live with their father. In the morning, all the three leave home together. krishna lives kavari at school and goes to college. Their father go to the shop for the day.
Kaveri returns from school in the afternoon. She unlocks the house
and waits for Krishna. On returning from college,Krishna and kavari eat food together.Kaveri goes out to play after doing her school work.

 On returning she either plays carom with her brother or watches television. When father returns home, they cook food and then eat together.

During vacations, Kaveri goes to stay with her mother. Krishna
also stays there for a few days, but he likes to stay in his own
house – all his things and his father are here.

There may be other differences: some couples may marry at a young age and some people find a partner when they are older; some families with children are led by one parent because of death, separation, or divorce; some couples have no children, yet they consider themselves to be a family; some people have one child, while others have many children born to them.

Many families adopt a child or several children.  When we talk about our family, we usually refer to the people who live with us.
All of our relatives, such as cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents, are part of our family. Whether they live in a separate place down the block or across town, or even far away from us in another part of Canada or in a foreign land, they are still part of our family.
Not everyone knows all their grandparents  because they are no longer alive. These family members are remembered in stories told about the good times when you were a baby or before you were born.

 Nowadays, it is wonderful for families that even those who live far away can both hear and see each other through the use of computer web-cams and other modern communication systems.And all through it shines by God’s love.