5 Things to-do this Holi!

The festival of Holi is celebrated with much gusto all over India and even in foreign countries. There are several factors to consider ensuring one is able to completely let their hair down and enjoy the festivities in full swing. Here’s a check-list on how to brace yourself for Holi!

1) Home Décor

If you are contemplating getting a paint job in the near future, do it before Holi and make sure the paints you use are waterproof in nature. Post Holi the walls become damp and botched with colours, thus making whitewash a tough job. You should also try and revamp the interiors with ethnic wares such as terracotta pots and divine figurines to enhance the décor. You can even think about buying curtains in darker colours to hide any marks from the Holi extravaganza.

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Image Courtesy:

2) Clean the verandah/garden/terrace

If you are expecting quite a few guests it would be best to organize a party in an open space. You’d do well to clean up the verandah/garden or terrace to give your guests ample place to enjoy themselves. Children are known to enjoy themselves the most during these events; splashing water and colours at one another. You can create an activity area for the children with paint brushes, paints and t-shirts where they can paint their own t-shirt and wear it to the party. This activity will help settle down the otherwise hyperactive kids.

3) Music and Colours

Colours and music are to a Holi party what salt and pepper are to a hearty meal. You can pick eco-friendly, natural colours made from rice flour with natural ingredients. These colours are completely biodegradable, compostable, non-toxic, allergy-free and provide the maximum colour radiance for your guests; lot of toxic colours can be found in the market – avoid them. To arrange the music, arrange a diverse playlist with preppy numbers to put all your guests in a mood to groove, while they indulge in some unbridled fun with dry and water colours.

4) DIY Ideas

If you have a spare tyre, one that is punctured and has been lying around in the house, grab it. You can apply bright colours on it, even make a pattern, place a potted plant in it, and voila! You have a charming look right at the door entrance. You can even arrange a flower decoration in an urli and place it where you are hosting your party. Since Holi is a celebration of different hues, one can revamp the look of wall hangings and trays to fully capture the spirit of Holi!

5) Shop Online

Everyone leads busy lives nowadays and hardly gets the time to put together a flawless function. You would need to make sure that you have all the raw material in place to proceed with the arrangements just a few days before Holi. In case a trip to the marketplace seems exhausting, shop for online Holi gifts or Holi return gifts for your guests. You can even avail amazing discounts and deals.

Final Thoughts

Gearing up for a festival can seem daunting at the beginning, but these occasions always bring with them joy and happiness, which more than makes up for the stressful preparation. After the day has passed, one remembers only the jokes and laughter shared and never the days spent getting the house ready for a Holi party. So what are you waiting for? Pick up a brush and let’s paint a smile on the face of your loved ones.

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What to Gift this Holi

Known as the festival of colours, Holi is synonymous with fun, festivity, bonhomie and home-made delicacies. However, culturally the festival has come a long way over the years. As opposed to olden times when people went personally to meet and greet their friends and neighbours, people nowadays organize a get together in an open space with several tables stacked with plates full of dry colours, pichkaaris, water guns, snacks and the holi-special beverage – Bhaang. In some cases the function is hosted by a family in the colony; invitations are handed out well in advance, preparations are made and the festival is celebrated with much pomp and show!

If you are organizing a get-together for your friends and family this year, you would want to add a spin on things. After all, traditional sweet boxes are increasingly becoming a passé; more and more people are jumping on the healthy-and-fit bandwagon, and let’s be honest – a box of gujiyas deep-fried in oil don’t quite help the cholesterol levels. Instead, why not pick out a traditional return gift for holi guests.

Here’s our list of top 4 picks for Holi Gifts this year:

1) Serveware:

One cannot go wrong with serveware items such as bowls and trays. One can look for something unique. Today one finds all kinds of bowls and trays in the market; Gemstone painted, wooden, silver finished or made from glass. Hosts can also vie to impress the guests by serving dry fruits in swan or apple shaped bowls.

2) Dry Fruits:

There is still a slight chill in the air around Holi, and most people have run out of dry fruit boxes from Diwali and are too lazy to head to the market. So why not gift dry fruit boxes stacked with cashew nuts and raisins?

3) Chocolates:

While gujiyas and gulaab jamuns may not be the best option for health conscious individuals, a box of small, individually wrapped chocolates could be a sweeter alternative. These chocolate boxes are exquisitely wrapped, which make them gift-ready!

4) Pooja Accessories:

Pooja thalis are always appreciated by guests. Nowadays the thaali features enamel coating or meenakari work, which enhances its appearance. The thaali also comes attached with small containerss for roli, rice, kumkum, and may also include an incense holder and diya(s). One can also go for exquisite Pooja accessories exclusively such as incense stick holders or diya lamps.

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Image Courtesy:

Imagine the joy on the face of your guests when you hand over the gifts at the end of the party; a kind way of saying thank-you for coming! These holi return gifts or Holi thank-you gifts are sure to make holi even more colourful and memorable for all your guests.

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5 Epic Characters Spotted At Indian Weddings

Some people attend weddings only for the food Image source:

Some people attend weddings only for the food
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Imagine you are the neutral party at an Indian wedding, having no connection to the groom’s or bride’s sides. When you make your way to the food counter to pile on the free delicacies, what’s running through your mind? Bet you are somewhat freaked out by all the weird characters present at the wedding. You chuckle to yourself after uttering the phrase “Much ado over nothing!” while tearing yourself a hearty chunk of naan and dipping it into a greasy paneer gravy. Then you decide to find a lonesome spot, look on at the tamasha, and thank the good Lord that it is not your wedding.

Here’s what, or rather WHO you are most likely to see!

People in a state of whine:

Often found in grievously large numbers, these people exist to complain. Their wives, their children, their friends and even their relatives would likely ditch them at any/every chance they get. However, a whiner needs a whinee like a bee needs honey; he’ll soon find himself a prey, and will unleash his unbridled agony over something agonizingly mundane! This person will enjoy a phone pouch as a return gift. After all, his phone will be in a dilapidated state after all the badgering it endures round-the-clock!

People in a state of Lights, Camera, Action:

With their perfectly gelled hair, impeccable ensembles, accessories and footwear, these people are few and far in between. Their sighting is as rare as a tiger sighting on a jungle safari, but just as grandiose. Often branded as shallow and superficial by the meanies, these people do look like they just walked out of a movie poster. Return gift them a lipstick box, jewellery box or vanity box and they’d sway their dainty waist out of the room with a winning smile on their spotless faces!

People in a state of Hyperactivity:

These people can be seen scurrying around like lemmings at the plague. Knocking over things, fumbling, stuttering and embarrassed smiles are some of their signature moves practiced repeatedly during the wedding preliminaries. While anti-anxiety medication might seem like a good gift for them, perhaps it would be more subtle to gift them clocks (so that they learn time-management skills), and diaries and pens to help them make a list of chores.

People in a state of Melancholy:

They are the ones who make the bride cry at her bidaai, the parents howl at the separation, and even magically render the groom’s side of guests overwhelmed and tearful. These dementors at the wedding scene look for cheer, only to turn it into despair and regret. These people would love to own photo albums; nothing like a documented reminder of their tryst with tragedy!

People in a state of Kurkure:

You must be wondering what’s this state about; here we unravel the secret. These people are the kurkure at the wedding, utterly tedhe (twisted)! Their job entails playing Chinese whispers all day long! The best part? They never get bored of the gossip. From the latest on hook-ups to the latest on the dinner menu, they are Google incarnate – except that while google helps, google incarnate only drinks chai, eats pakoras and finds other google incarnates for a healthy session of idle talk. These individuals will appreciate bowls, trays and tumblers – an all-round kit for doing Satan’s work with munchies and Pina colada on the go!

Have you spotted all these characters at a wedding? Tell us more! We’d love to hear from you!



The ‘interviewing’ aunt can create awkward situations at the wedding ceremony

5 Types of Aunts Spotted at Indian Weddings

Indian weddings go beyond focusing on the bride and groom who, however, will be the center of attraction. Indian weddings, basically put, celebrate the coming together of the two families, with everyone in attendance wanting to harness the moment to enjoy themselves to the maximum. Though enjoyment is on everyone’s agenda, the serious stuff is usually taken care of by the families and close relatives of the bride and groom.

Talking of the serious stuff, aunts play a central role in deciding the wedding day, making arrangements and, finally, presiding over the wedding itself. Because of the lofty stature they tend to enjoy in the family, aunts talk, literally, about anything inside the wedding hall while the ceremony unfolds. And they are well aware of the fact that few people would object their opinion or demeanor. Delving into the aunt stereotypes, which five types of aunts can one commonly spot at Indian weddings?

The ‘opinionated’ aunt

The 'opinionated' aunt is chock-a-block with opinions on various aspects about the wedding

The ‘opinionated’ aunt is chock-a-block with opinions on various aspects about the wedding

This type of aunt is probably the most commonly seen, in Indian weddings. She will have an opinion on almost every aspect of the wedding. From the marriage hall decorations to the taste of the food to the way the bride and groom are dressed, the opinionated aunt has opinions aplenty. And the conspicuous aspect about her is that she will involve others in the attendance into the conversation. Usually, the people who get talked to by this type of aunt, tend to nod their heads to everything said to them. Funnily, the opinionated aunts even make a fool out of those who nod to everything that is being said.

The ‘opinionated’ aunts are usually conscious about what goes on around them, and think that they could be done in a better way. Home décor items like wall paintings, wall and door hangings, canvas photo frames would allow her to put them up in the way she wants to, at her home. It would also give her the ideal platform to express herself and do things according to her taste.

The ‘interviewing’ aunt

The ‘interviewing’ aunt can create awkward situations at the wedding ceremony

The ‘interviewing’ aunt can create awkward situations at the wedding ceremony

The title says it all, really. But this type of aunt would sit around and ask the housewives, the husbands, single men and even the kids, of numerous aspects in their daily lives. The kids are usually the sufferers here, since they tend to get asked about their grades at school, the exams coming up and the year of schooling they are in. She would even comment on others’ outfit and the jewels worn by the women folk. Again, there is the genuine possibility of things getting quite awkward when this type of aunt questions the people in attendance.

Because the ‘interviewing’ aunt has so many aspects to talk about, an executive diary would be a highly congruous, yet quirky, return gift for her. She can use the diary to pen down her thoughts before and after she attends a wedding ceremony or a get-together, basically.

The ‘matchmaking’ aunt

The ‘matchmaking’ aunt is very commonly spotted at Indian weddings

The ‘matchmaking’ aunt is very commonly spotted at Indian weddings

This is one of the most hilarious aunt stereotypes found in weddings. Talking up another marriage while one marriage takes place or is about to end – this is what the ‘matchmaking’ aunt excels in. Single guys and girls can be sure to get asked about ‘their’ respective Dream Girl and Mr. Perfect. Talking about our Mr. Perfect or Dream Girl can be uncomfortable even when done with our parents. So, you can imagine how difficult things can get when someone is asked such a question, with so many people around. The thing to remember here is: Indian weddings have more to them than just the bride and groom getting hitched. Everyone can have, and usually does, a ball.

The ‘matchmaking’ aunt can be presented with a personalised return-gift. A coffee mug with words like “You are our family’s most marriage-centric aunt” will make her feel really privileged. It will also convey the message that she is recognised for what she enjoys doing the most.

The ‘pundit’ aunt

The ‘pundit’ aunt can be given divine items as return gifts

The ‘pundit’ aunt can be given divine items as return gifts

This aunt is the most wanted character in any wedding ceremony. She would stay glued to the dais, often directing and reminding the priest to do the rituals correctly. Because of the authority she holds within the family, she would also extract marriage-related duties from those in the attendance. Unlike the aforementioned aunt stereotypes, the pundit aunt often has the respect of her family and even the outsiders, for her intensity and meticulousness while overlooking the events from the dais.

The ‘pundit’ aunt is probably the geek of the family. She knows things many others don’t, and is happy to take the lead and have her inputs on the proceedings. Divine items like a Ganesha idol, diya or an incense holder, would be of utmost relevance to her.

The ‘beautician’ aunt

Types of Aunts at Indian Weddings

The ‘beautician’ aunts are of great help during wedding ceremonies

This aunt is another one who overlooks proceedings from the dais. She would be the one who assists the make-up artist, dresses up the bride and then stays close to the bride, helping her stay fresh and without smudges on her face. It can be hard to spot her – apart from on the dais, that is – during the course of wedding, with Indian weddings usually lasting for more than three days. She deserves recognition for her attitude and magnanimity.

The ‘beautician’ aunt has a genuine interest in getting the bride dressed up and then remaining close to her throughout the wedding day, helping the bride stay fresh and look her best. It would, therefore, suit her to be return gifted make-up kits, hand and potli bags, jewellery boxes, which are beauty and fashion accessories.

Closing Thoughts

The aunt stereotype is definitely one of the marquee features of any Indian wedding. Though some of them can be annoying with their behavior, there are those aunts, like the ‘pundit and ‘beautician’, who contribute in the ways they can and are crucial to the wedding ceremony unfolding smoothly.

Images source: Bollywood Shaadis, Candid Shutters, Bollywood Celebden










How Firecrackers Are Made And What Makes Them Explode?

How Firecrackers Are Made And What Makes Them Explode?

With the culmination of Navratri, focus surely now shifts to Diwali, popularly known as the festival of lights and one of the most popular festivals celebrated – by people from all walks of life, of all religions and castes – in India. On this day, people worship Goddess Lakshmi, prepare sweets at home and share them with neighbours and relatives, and burst firecrackers, aspects that form the meat of the Diwali celebrations at most Indian homes, which get tidied up and decorated every year before this special day.
Bursting firecrackers has always been an integral part of the Diwali festivities, as it believed to convey to god, of the common man’s joy and happiness. Another reason is that the fumes produced by crackers can destroy the insects and mosquitoes found in plenty after the seasonal rains. Although a lot of us burst crackers with verve and unparalleled passion, not everyone is aware of how they are made and the reaction taking place inside, before the firecracker explodes.

Read on, as we dissect the science over the manufacturing and exploding of firecrackers, and their composition, as well.

Making of firecrackers

Firecrackers are explosive devices that produce high decibels of sound when lit with fire and exposed to incessant heat. They originated in China, where firecrackers were used to annihilate the evil spirits, about 1000 years ago.

• Cardboards, papers, a propellant such as gunpowder, clay and fuse, are the fundamental items used in the making of a firecracker.
• Papers or cardboards are cut into smaller strips for making a hollow tube.
• The centre of the tube is then filled with gunpowder or any other propellant, with clay generally used for sealing the two ends of the hollow tube.
• Some firecrackers have two hollow tubes, with the bigger one covering or surrounding the smaller one.
• In that case, the propellant is stuffed into the smaller hollow tube. The fuse is injected into the shell or hollow tube holding the propellant.

What is a fuse?

Fuse is similar to a wick that is lit with a matchstick, candle or an incense stick, and the lit fuse initiates or sets the firecracker into action. Fuses are usually made from a clutch of cotton threads twisted together. The prepared fuse is coated with flammable chemicals for it to burn at a controlled rate.

Process of firecracker explosion

A number of chemical reactions are involved in the explosion of a firecracker.

• Heat is the activation energy that propels the firecracker into action.
• Gunpowder is basically 75% potassium nitrate, 15% charcoal or sugar and 10% sulphur, all of which react when exposed to heat.
• Charcoal or sugar initiates the reaction (the initiator); potassium nitrate is the oxidizer, with sulphur moderating the reaction, as the moderator.
• Potassium nitrate and sulphur react to give nitrogen, carbon-di-oxide gas and potassium sulphide.
• Pressure from these gases makes the setup wrapped with paper collapse, a process which furnishes the kind of sound that excites us to the core.

Now you know…

The making of firecrackers may seem a gimme, but there is plenty of potential for the firecrackers to misbehave while they are being manufactured. Many people who work in the firecracker factory in Sivakasi, the fireworks capital of India, suffer casualties in the form of severe injuries, loss in sight and even suffer the extremity of death. Because many explosives are involved in the making and exploding of a firecracker, optimum care must be taken when bursting crackers during Diwali.

This diwali, celebrate the art of giving

When you Get, Give

While the art of taking is often mastered by all, the art of giving is forgotten and sometimes underestimated. Anne Frank put it rightly when she said that “No one has ever become poor by giving.” Living in a melting pot, we are all affected by kismet or destiny. While some people are born more fortunate than others, there are some who work towards building their own fortune. Sadly, there are also those who are dealt a bad hand by fate and fight to feed, clothe and survive.

Diya Jala Liya Par Kya Diya

When the festive bonus comes along, when the Diwali salary gets credited, when you decide to use the savings, make a vow to include the less fortunate in this celebration. This Diwali let us not stop at giving just to the help at home, the office boys, the waiter who served the table during the festive holidays. If karma is keeping track, bringing smiles to faces is probably going to earn a lot of brownie points too.

Reports indicate that we donate a much smaller percentage of wealth as compared to our counterparts in the western world. We often worry about the authenticity of the charitable organisation or the legitimacy of the cause, whether our money will be put to good use. In some cases, people may have a cause in mind that they would like to support but they don’t know how to find a genuine organisation functional in that domain.

Where to Give?

India is home to over one million non-profit organizations, which may make it difficult to verify, pick a cause and donate. However, several organisations have gone online to make it easier for you to make a difference.

Large non-profit organizations like Child Rights and You (CRY), Smile Foundation, and Help Age India allow donations via credit or debit cards and Internet Banking. Smaller associations like GiveIndia, Samhita, and Charities Aid Foundation India all feature a list of non-profit associations functional in several areas such as environment, education, child welfare. One can also shortlist non-profit associations on the basis of budget, tax benefits or programs that serve causes one cares about.

Credibility Alliance and GuideStar India deliver non-profit options on a larger scale to help improve transparency and accountability. These repositories of credible Non-profit organisations engage in due diligence to determine the authenticity of these associations. Financial documents, legal paperwork, and annual reports are assessed to verify the legitimacy of these non-profits. In some cases these associations also make on-site visits.

Lately, the concept of payroll giving is gaining popularity. Under this scheme a certain specified amount is deducted every month from an employee’s paycheck.

What You Give, You Have

Whether you donate money this Diwali or go to an orphanage to play with the kids, do not forget to share it with your family and friends. Studies indicate that stories of charity may often motivate others to do their bit.

While we invite the Goddess of Wealth, Lakshmi, into our homes on Diwali, let us be more generous with our own treasure. After all, kindness cannot be valued, yet it is invaluable.

How Indians Celebrate Diwali Across The World?

A global celebration

Ever wondered if Diwali meant anything to anyone outside of India? You don’t need to be a travel geek to be able to answer that question. The world is rich with examples of nations that celebrate Diwali with the same fervour and passion that India does. You don’t need look any further than the Indian subcontinent to witness Diwali festivities. Nepal and Sri-Lanka, both apart of the Indian subcontinent, observe Diwali in their own unique ways.

Moving slightly away from the immediate vicinity, we will come across the South East Asian countries, with a huge chunk of Hindu population, celebrating Diwali with an amazing level of enthusiasm. We finally focus on the broader picture, only to realize that nations like Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Canada and Britain also associate Diwali with sparklers, crackers, diyas and sweets just like us.


A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. The same holds true for Nepal that chooses to call Diwali as ‘Tihar’. The festive celebrations continue for five long days, each day being dedicated to an animal or a form of nature. The festival culminates with Bhai Tika during which sisters apply tika on their brother’s foreheads to bless them with a long life and thank them for the protection they provide them.


Sri-Lanka, only a stone’s throw away from the south eastern tip of India, celebrates Diwali all night long with lightning and decorations throughout the length and breadth of the country. Inhabited by Tamils, a major section of the population is Hindus, making the situation ripe for Diwali celebration much in the same way as in India. The most unique aspect of their Diwali celebration is the sugar crystal enamels/ figurines they substitute sweets with.

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Though the celebrations remain confined to the small locality called Little India, Singapore celebrates Diwali in style by putting up elaborate overhead lighting on the streets. Peacock, the national animal of India, turns out to be the consistent symbol depicted in their decorations. Singapore says a big no to noise pollution by banning the sale of crackers and allowing only sparklers to be retailed.

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Set afloat little lamps made out of banana leaves and you will be indulging in Diwali celebrations, the Thailand way. Known as Loi Krathong, the festivities include krathong making, beauty pageants, cultural shows and fireworks. Like in India, people visit each other and exchange gifts and sweets as a part of the celebrations.

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There is a very small proportion of Indians living in Japan but that doesn’t dampen the spirit of Diwali. People gather at the Yamashita park in Yokohama to celebrate Diwali every year. Festivities range from Bollywood song and dance tamasha to yoga, live concerts and Indian food.

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Britain is home to a vast majority of Indians, they being the second largest ethnic group in the country. It is therefore no surprise that the Diwali celebrations are very much a replica of the ones that happen in India. Cleaning up the home, buying new clothes and decorating the house with fancy lighting and colourful Rangoli are primary activities preceding the Diwali extravaganza. Leicester, a town in Britain, commemorates Diwali celebrations with the switch on ceremony for which millions gather.

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With a population of 1,00,000 lakh Indians, it is no surprise that Diwali is a prominent festival in Australia. It is celebrated on a large scale in Sydney and Melbourne with events like firework display, food stalls offering Diwali sweets, musical performance and the ceremonial burning of the Ravana effigy. Carnivals and fairs reign the social scene during this period.

How about you?

What are you going to try this Diwali? … Thai banana leaf lamps or the Sri-Lankan sugar crystal figurines or the Nepalese animal worshipping practice…What is it that you are going to learn and incorporate in your celebrations this year?

7 Ways to Look Fabulous This Navratri

Navratri is a time for fun, frolic and celebration. The festive mood calls for decking up to match the soaring excitement levels. Keeping abreast of the latest fashion trends becomes crucial to stand out from the crowd. To make things simple we help you get an idea as to how you can look stunning this Navratri.

1. Dazzle in bright colours

Spread the festive cheer by donning up in vibrant hues. Ditch the dull palette for a while and opt for brighter shades. It is no secret that the colour you wear reflects your mood and what better way to show the world that you are geared up for the festive nights than wearing radiant colours like yellow, orange, red and green. And don’t be afraid if you overdo it because Navratri is all about uncontained zeal and enthusiasm, so let your clothes do the talking.

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2. Twinkle! Twinkle! All Night Long

We know that it’s hard to think beyond the traditional mirror work when it comes to Navratri, but a little experimenting won’t harm. Colourful beads, Swarovski and pearls will surely be fashionable substitutes for adorning your lehnga and choli. Wear the classic bandhani, lehariya and tie-die prints and flaunt your rich cultural heritage. Try something different and stand out from the crowd this Navratri!

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3. Blend it Well

Why stick to just Indian if you can mix and create a wonderful fusion look by pairing your traditional lehengas with fun crop tops or palazzo pants with chaniya cholis. Add a touch of desi to your regular western attire and see how it magically transforms into fabulous festive wear.
Infuse your attitude into the way you carry it and you are ready to rock!

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4. Bling it on!

When it comes to dressing up for Navratri, the range of accessories to choose from is vast. Long earrings, chunky bangles and contrasting potli bags will blend well with your festive look. Pick out the oxidized neckpiece from the long forgotten jewellery box and get the spotlight back on you. Your foot too deserves some attention and what better way to bring it into limelight than fashion a pair of traditional mojaris.

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5. Make- up or No make- up?

Make up goes hand in hand with dressing up and is absolutely indispensable for women. Forgoing it completely might freak you out. So the ideal solution is to keep it light. Why should you listen to us? The night long festivities and dance sessions will lead to your make up cracking down to a pile of cake. Unless you want to end up looking like a zombie, go for waterproof make up that can the bear the brunt of your constant sweating.

6. Why should girls have all the fun?

Gone are the days when men’s fashion was easy to define. Things have changed completely with men outdoing women when it comes to the dynamic fashion scene. The same holds true for festive seasons. The options for men are limitless, from kurta pyjamas, dhoti , and pathani salwar to jodhpuri pants with a coat. To add to that, they can also indulge in accessories such as scarf or safa to complete the Navratri look.

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7. Add-ons anyone?

Both men and women can sport a temporary tattoo depicting the religious symbols associated with Navratri. Ma Durga image or a line borrowed from a mantra will make an excellent choice for a tattoo. Women can also dig their nails into trendy nail art featuring godly forms in a fun way.

Take cues from the suggestions and come up with a stunning look this Navratri. You can modify the recommendations to suit yourself. Blindly mimicking the fashion trends won’t go a long way in giving you a unique look. So go ahead and have fun being you this Navtratri !

What Is Golu, and How South India celebrates it as a part of Navratri

Long story short

Navratri or Durga Pooja, as it is famously known, is a 9-day long festival for worshipping the nine forms of Durga, Hindu Goddess. Traditionally what happens is that the first three days are dedicated to the worshipping of Durga, the following three to Goddess Lakshmi and the last three to Saraswathi. During Navratri celebrations, most Hindu homes, that too in South India, keep Golu, which is the public displaying of major Gods and Goddesses, mortals, martyrs, animals’ idols among others, and abstain from consuming non-vegetarian food during the 9-day long festival.

When is Navratri celebrated this year?

The dates for this festival are determined every year by the lunar calendar, according to which, October 13th to 22nd will be the period for celebrating Navratri in 2015.
Golu decoration in South Indian homes

The traditional Golu setup goes like this: odd number – 3, 5, 7, 9 or 11 – of steps are arranged in the form of stairs, which can be wooden or metal tables that give you enough room to place the idols and dolls. The steps, also known as ‘Golu Padi’ in Tamil, or stairs are covered with a clean cloth to enhance the appearance. On the two sides, two Deepaks are placed and lit, while in front of the Golu setup, a colossal rangoli is drawn with rice flour to embellish the whole place. Serial lighting can also add sparkle to your Golu setup when employed correctly.

A comprehensive Golu setup with 7 steps

Now, there are a variety of idols and dolls that you can place on the Golu steps. Usually, kalash, a brass container that contains rice, has mango leaves tied to its neck and an unpeeled coconut placed on the clutch of mango leaves, is placed right in the middle of the top-most step, with Lord Ganesh, Goddesses Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswathi flanking it.

The second-from-top step can also be used to keep other deities such as Lord Vishnu, Shiva and Krishna, but there is no restriction to arrange the idols in a certain manner on the Golu steps; however, the top-most steps are generally allocated to the various deities while prominent personalities,  mortals,  animals’ idols are placed in the lower Golu steps.

What happens during ‘Nav’(nine) ‘Ratri’(night)?

Once the Golu has been setup, it is paramount that you light the Deepak and do Pooja every morning and evening till the 9th and final day of the festival; also, you should never close your house and abscond yourself from the Navratri and Golu scene.

During evenings, women folk are invited to catch a glimpse of the Golu and in return, presented with a meaningful gift(s) for coming over upon invitation and joining in on the Navratri celebrations.

On each night during the festival, a food item called ‘sundal’ is prepared from Channa and served to guests attending the Golu function, which are all part of the ritual.

What happens once Navratri is over?

Once the 9-day long festival of Navratri comes to a conclusion, the very next day is celebrated as Vijayadasami, a day on which the idols and dolls are put to sleep. On the following day, Golu setup is collapsed and the displayed items are packed and kept for use the following year. It is a part of tradition to add at least a few new dolls to the Golu setup every year.

Vijayadasami is also when children are freshly admitted to schools to begin their educational careers, as anyone who is looking to kick-start a new venture in their life chooses this day to do so.

Return gifting the guests attending the Golu function

Based on the people you have invited – mostly women and young ladies – for the Golu function, suitable return gifts can be given. Potli bags, kumkum boxes, bangle boxes, to name a few, would all be ideal return gifting options; they can be given as an individual gift or a set of two, too. For instance, potli bags and kumkum boxes could be given together, to appease the Golu function attendees.

Example of Golu gathering at South Indian homes


Final Thought

Navratri is a festival celebrated to mark Mahishasura’s (The demon king) defeat – after nine days of intense tussle – at the hands of Goddess Durga, that brings the people of India together and instills fresh enthusiasm in each and every one of us. And, with Golu being an integral part of the Navratri festivities, this could also be an opportune time to clean the house, freshen up the existent setup and seek a new start too.

Step-by-step guide on the making of Goddess Durga

Soil or Divine?

God created man or man created God? This is one question that has, and continues to, irk mankind. However, pals (the old artisans in Bengal) lend justice to the latter adage as they add life and emotion to the handcrafted idols of Goddess Durga. Pal is the common surname of artisans in Bengal who participate in the construction of the pious Durga idol.
An intricate process, the construction of the idol is laden with rites and rituals. On the day of Akshaya Tritiya, an auspicious day in Hindu and Jain calendar, the clay for the sculpture is collected from the banks of a river, preferably the Ganges. Months before the actual Pooja, artisans start to breathe life into the idols.

Making of the Goddess

Stage One

To start the preparations, bamboo stick are cut in different shapes and sizes and arranged accordingly to make a basic structure of the idol, alongwith a platform for the sculpture. Straw strands are tied with jute strings to lend shape to the idol. A long and tedious process, sculpting an idol requires superior skill and diligence. The pals of Bengal seek such perfection that the sculpting is often divided into three stages; the skeleton structure is often undertaken by one group of artisans, while the clay mixing and application by another. The finishing touches to the head, palms and feet are only completed by the highest graded pals or artisans.

Stage 1

Stage Two

In stage two, layers of clay are applied in three different steps. Before one talks about the steps, it must be noted that the making of the idol requires punya maati (pristine clay) or else the idol remains incomplete. Punya maati is often referred to the soil outside a sex worker’s home. Legend holds that the soil outside ‘nishhidho pali’ (forbidden territories) is virtuous as a man surrenders his virtues to experience earthly pleasures; the woman forsakes her honour in order to feed her family or satiate her hunger. It is curious how the custom is rendered insignificant if punya maati isn’t procured from the hands of the keeper. Ironically, it conveys a social message that even a social pariah is equal is the eyes of God and is included in the making of the divine figurine.

stage 2

In the first coat of clay the water content is high. This helps fill any crevices in the straw model. The second layer is considered the most important as it gives prominence to the figure. It is to made sure that the clay mixed in this step is sans impurities. The head, palm and feet – all made separately, are attached to the main torso in this stage.

Stage Three

The heads, palms and feet of the idol are made from clay, often requiring the utmost skill and experience. Each feature is sculpted with care and perfection. The idol is complete when the clay dries. Liquid plaster of paris is poured on the sculpture to create a mold. Once dry, the mold is separated from the clay head. The hollow mold is used to create the several heads of Goddess Durga. Pieces of cloth soaked in clay, from the Ganges river bed are applied on the joints on the figurine, which could’ve developed cracks after dying.

stage 3

Stage 4:

In the final stage, the idol is painted with white earth colour in the first coat, multiple colours in the second coat of paint, and then the finishing touch is added. The most intricate part of stage 4 is painting of the eyes on the figurine. The act of painting the eyes is called chokhhsudaan; it is believed that the painting of eyes brings the idol to life. After the finishing touches are complete the idol is dressed and ornaments are added.

Stage 4

Environmental Impact:

Although festivals are a time to celebrate with friends and family, one must not forget the environment. In order to co-exist, one must pay heed to nature. While the idol of the goddess contains fragments of nature in the beginning, the final idol is often coated with toxic paints and materials that are likely to pollute the local water sources and endanger marine life once the idol is immersed in the water post celebrations and festivities. Environmentalists say that the sculptures nowadays are made from hazardous materials like cement, plastic and plaster of paris. There is a great need for eco-friendly idols, which are more in tune with our eco systems.

Food for Thought:

The Navratri festival is a great time to enjoy good food, sway to dandia raas and engage in social affairs. However, one must not forget that the festival is symbolic of mutual harmony, where one must treat even an “outcast” with respect and reverence in order to fully appreciate the true embodiment of divine feminine energy.

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