How Ambi became Paisley: "It began as a teardrop in Babylon. Where the sunlight came from Astarte, shameless goddess of the fecund feminine. The boteh. Stylized rendition of the date palm shoot, tree of life, fertility symbol. It danced through Celtic art, until the heavy feet of Roman legionaries tramped over the Alps. Then it fled the wrath of Mars and Jupiter, dove underground as Empire rose ." From Shailja Patel's Migritude. Here's a short film about the Migritude project (book on Amazon).
India's Mars Orbiter Mission In 45 mins from now (watch a webcast), India's Mars Orbiter Mission's satellite will insert itself into orbit around Mars. This is the final hurdle for MOM to overcome to achieve a big milestone for the Indian Space Research Organization.
Why free speech loses in India “The Hindus: An Alternative History,” an eight-hundred-page book by Wendy Doniger, an eminent professor of religion at the University of Chicago, will be removed from Indian book shops. Penguin Books India, which first published the book, in 2009, signed an out-of-court settlement with an advocacy group, the Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti, who claim to be defending 'the sentiments of Hindus all over the world.'"
Ayurveda: Hoax or Science? "'Western science identifies these systems as folklore. They don’t see it as an organised system of knowledge—this is an alien epistemology to them because their medical traditions only go as far back as the medieval times and renaissance.' There is also the very real problem of complexity in natural-product research. It is harder to develop a drug from Ayurveda than it is to build a synthetic molecule, because of the large number of compounds in each Ayurvedic herb. All these factors are responsible for the state of Ayurvedic medicine today."
The Desi Cow – Almost Extinct "The idea of the cow, of course, is also emotively charged because of its mythical place in Hindu iconography, religion and culture: it is quite literally worshipped as goddess Kamdhenu: the cow of plenty... Again, this veneration is founded in hard pragmatics. Traditionally, India has been home to some of the most varied stock of cows in the world: the red-skinned Sahiwal that milks through droughts, the mighty Amrit Mahal with swords for horns or the tiny Vechur that stands no taller than a dog."
High and Dry: How Sabrina De Sousa, a former US diplomat of Indian origin, was swept up in the undertow of the war on terror "Sabrina De Sousa was among those convicted in absentia in Italy in November 2009—wrongly, she says, and based only on circumstantial evidence. She was an accredited diplomat at the US consulate in Milan at the time, but claims she was not in Milan on the day of the kidnapping ... Sabrina has argued that she should have been protected from prosecution because of diplomatic immunity. The US government thought otherwise."
The Indian Memory Project "is an online, curated, visual and oral-history based archive that traces a personal history of the Indian Subcontinent, its people, cultures, professions, cities, development, traditions, circumstances and their consequences." See for example, Sarees, or Migration.
Samosapedia "The definitive guide to South Asian lingo". Eg., Enthu Cutlet: An enthu cutlet is an earnest eager beaver who is able to muster up inordinate amounts of energy, inspiration and enthusiasm towards a variety of things. (via)
The Manganiyar Seduction "The Manganiyars are a group of hereditary professional folk musicians from Rajasthan, India.">
Take Back Yoga : A group of Indian-Americans have ignited a surprisingly fierce debate in the gentle world of yoga by mounting a campaign to acquaint Westerners with the faith that it says underlies every single yoga style followed in gyms, ashrams and spas: Hinduism. The campaign, labeled “Take Back Yoga,” does not ask yoga devotees to become Hindu, or instructors to teach more about Hinduism ... but only that people become more aware of yoga’s debt to the faith’s ancient traditions.
Seasonal Poetry in Sanskrit : The blog Sanskrit Literature has been running an excellent series on plants that appear in sanskrit poetry. Some examples : Jasmine (malati), Lotuses and Water Lilies, Mango.
Chai Why? The Triumph of Tea in India : "But whereas I initially supposed tea-drinking to be as Indian, and perhaps as old, as the Vedas, I have come to know that it is, in the longue durée of Indian history, a very recent development; one that (in many parts of the country) did not much precede my first visit, or that even followed it."
Eviction Slip :"In the spring of 2003 about 8,000 tribal people and low-caste farmers living in the Kuno area of Madhya Pradesh, India, were summarily uprooted from the rich farmlands they had cultivated for generations and moved to 24 villages on scrub land outside the borders of a sanctuary created for a pride of six imported Asiatic lions."[via]
The Mexican kitchen's Islamic connection :"When Mexico’s leading writer, Nobel Prize laureate Octavio Paz, arrived in New Delhi in 1962 to take up his post as ambassador to India, he quickly ran across a culinary puzzle. Although Mexico and India were on opposite sides of the globe, the brown, spicy, aromatic curries that he was offered in India sparked memories of Mexico’s national dish, mole (pronounced MO-lay). Is mole, he wondered, “an ingenious Mexican version of curry, or is curry a Hindu adaptation of a Mexican sauce ?” How could this seeming coincidence of “gastronomic geography” be explained ?"
Ryan Lobo is a photographer and writer who's work shows you an unique glimpse of India and other places.
The Idol Thief "Vaman Ghiya operated one of the most extensive and sophisticated clandestine antiquities rings in history, and he had grown rich in the past three decades by smuggling thousands of Indian antiques to auction houses and private collectors in the West."
Ganjifa cards have a history of more than 300 years. A pack of ganjifa cards consists of ninety-six cards; they are generally circular and made of ivory, tortoise shell, thin wood or hard board material. Dancing, hunting, worshipping, and processions are some of the subjects painted on the cards. Some more patterns: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. However, Ganjifa today is a craft in a crisis.
Earth, Sea, Mountain, Man "Here, we feature heroes of the little, everyday histories, who exceeded the bounds of their petty existence in singular, lonely acts of nobility." reg req, bugmenot.
The Omkara Project "..the word Omkara meaning - ' the vehicle to cross the ocean of life ' Crossing this ocean is the journey that the mortal being must undertake in a lifetime and henceforth encounter the three basic elements of mortality - creation, preservation and destruction."
Chutney Music :"For these people, Chutney was more than just music (.asf files), it was their life, it was their culture. For a people twice removed from their native land, Chutney was their connection to the traditions they might have otherwise never known." [via]
The return of the Bnei menashe : Israel's Chief Rabbi has decided to recognize the members of India's Bnei Menashe community as descendants of the ancient Israelites. Previous discussion.
The invention of the Hindu : "Hinduism is largely a fiction, formulated in the 18th and 19th centuries out of a multiplicity of sub-continental religions, and enthusiastically endorsed by Indian modernisers."
Theyyam, a corrupt form of daivum (god), is a popular ritual dance of North Kerala, India. As a living cult with centuries old traditions, ritual and custom, it embraces almost all castes and classes of the Hindu religion in this region. A performance (mpg) of a particular deity continues for 12 to 24 hours with intervals. The costumes differ based on the character (mpg) of the theyyam.