International Day of Yoga in Baghdad

Yoga is an Indian physical, mental, and spiritual practice or discipline. There is a broad variety of schools, practices and goals in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. The origins of Yoga have been speculated to date back to pre-Vedic Indian traditions, but most likely developed around the 6th and 5th centuries BCE, in ancient India’s ascetic circles, which are also credited with the early sramana movements. The chronology of earliest texts describing yoga-practices is unclear, varyingly credited to Hindu Upanishads and Buddhist Pāli Canon, probably of 3rd century BCE or later. Maharshi Patanjali compiled Yoga sutras, which forms the basis of yoga circa 400 CE. Derived from the Sanskrit word yuj, Yoga means union of the individual consciousness or soul with the Universal Consciousness or Spirit. Yoga is over 6000 year old Indian body of knowledge. Though many think of yoga only as a physical exercise where people twist, turn, stretch, and breathe, these are only superficial aspects of a profound science of unfolding the infinite potentials of the human mind and soul. Yoga gurus from India later introduced yoga to the west, following the success of Swami Vivekananda in the late 19th and early 20th century. In the 1980s, yoga became popular as a system of physical exercise across the Western world. June 21 was declared as the International Day of Yoga by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on December 11, 2014. The declaration of this day came after the call […]

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Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is a modern celebration honoring one’s own mother, as well as motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society. It was founded for mourning women to remember fallen soldiers and work for peace. It all started in the 1850s, when West Virginia women’s organizer Ann Reeves Jarvis—Anna’s mother—held Mother’s Day work clubs to improve sanitary conditions and try to lower infant mortality by fighting disease and curbing milk contamination, according to historian Katharine Antolini of West Virginia Wesleyan College. The groups also tended wounded soldiers from both sides during the U.S. Civil War from 1861 to 1865. Anna Jarvis never had children of her own, but the 1905 death of her own mother inspired her to organize the first Mother’s Day observances in 1908. On 10 May of that year, families gathered at events in Jarvis’s hometown of Grafton, West Virginia—at a church now renamed the International Mother’s Day Shrine—as well as in Philadelphia, where Jarvis lived at the time, and in several other cities. Largely through Jarvis’s efforts, Mother’s Day came to be observed in a growing number of cities and states until U.S. President Woodrow Wilson officially set aside the second Sunday in May in 1914 for the holiday. The holiday Anna Jarvis launched has spread around much of the world, though it’s celebrated with varying enthusiasm, in various ways, and on various days—though more often than not on the second Sunday in May. In much of the Arab […]

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My Birthday 2015

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It has been 6 weeks now that I underwent twin surgeries. I can’t thank you all enough for your prayers. It’s comforting to have so many friends praying for me. Today’s my birthday. Since last midnight, I am getting birthday wishes from my family, friends and relatives. It’s truly comforting to get so many good wishes, I feel loved. Among […]

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Republic Day 2015 in Baghdad

India celebrates January 26th every year as her Republic Day to mark the date when the Constitution of India came into force. The constitution was adopted on January 26th, 1950 with a democratic government system. It was this day in 1930 when the Declaration of Indian Independence (Purna Swaraj) was proclaimed by the Indian National Congress. The Indian embassy in Baghdad organizes the flag hoisting ceremony on the morning at the embassy residence and a reception in the afternoon. I received emailed invitation to attend the ceremony and reception a week ago. The Indian embassy and the residence are in our neighbourhood. I walked from my office to the embassy residence for the Flag hoisting ceremony scheduled at 8:30 am. Today is the 66th Republic Day of India. The Flag hoisting ceremony started with hoisting of  the Indian flag by Ambassador H.E. Ajay Kumar followed by singing of national anthem by all the Indians present there. There is a very small Indian community in Baghdad. Most of the Indians in Iraq are in Kurdistan region.  It was then followed by reading of the President’s message to the Nation by the Ambassador. The printed message of the President to the Nation was also given to the attendees. The embassy arranges for breakfast for the guests of the ceremony. They served us nice hot pakoras, falafel and tea. We had some small chat with Ambassador Ajay Kumar, HOC DV Singh and others and then I returned […]

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Our Wedding Anniversary 2014

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It’s hard to believe that twenty-three years have passed already since Jeet and I were married on this day. I remember that day with mixed emotions still, for such a variety of reasons. But our wedding day was far from perfect and I’m the first to admit. There was curfew in the city of Varanasi when Jeet came to marry […]

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Kojagori Lakshmi Puja

People of Indian states of West Bengal, Assam and Orissa worship Goddess Laksmi on Kojagori Purnima night — the full moon night in the month of Ashwin of Bengali calendar, just four days after Vijaya Dashami or Dusshera — the last day of the Durga puja in the month of October. It is believed that Goddess Lakshmi, who is the goddess of wealth, and prosperity, visits every household on this full moon night and blesses them with sheer promise of wealth, fortune and good luck. It is also a common belief that in order to guide goddess Lakshmi to the households, residents lit up deep, earthen lamps on the terraces or balconies especially to show the path inside the house. It’s customary at our house to Lakshmi puja every Thursday and also on Kojagori purnima. After several years, all of us are at home on this day. It was nice that we all together performed the puja at our house. Babai drew alpana with rice powder paste, while I made all other arrangements and performed the puja. Jaya cooked the bhog. Alpana refers to colorful motifs, sacred art or painting done on a horizontal surface on auspicious occasions in Bengal like Puja, wedding or community events. The art typically has some religious significance. This type of art is found on the Indian subcontinent. The word Alpana is derived from the Sanskrit alimpana, which means ‘to plaster’ or ‘to coat with’. […]

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Independence Day 2014 in Baghdad

Today is India’s 68th Independence Day and I am in Baghdad. There was an invitation from the Indian Embassy, Baghdad for the flag-hoisting ceremony in the morning. We reached the embassy at 8:00 a.m. Soon the Indian flag was hoisted and the national anthem was sung. It was followed by customary reading of the President’s address on the eve of the Independence Day by Ambassador Ajay Kumar. A local Iraqi boy also gave a small, good speech. He gave a speech last year too. There were some 30 Indian nationals also, who are returning to India tomorrow through Indian embassy. They are staying now at the premises of the embassy. The embassy served us traditional Iraqi breakfast items — samoon and falafel. A samoon is a rhombus shaped bread baked in brick oven. It is made with flour, yeast, water and salt. Quite conducive to stuffing as the interior is a bit more airy. Samoon is an Iraqi bread. A falafel is a deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas and sometimes with broad beans also. Falafel is a common dish eaten throughout the Middle East. Ambassador Ajay Kumar has joined the embassy a couple of months ago and this is our first meeting. We had a long chat with him after other guests departed. We walked back to our home at 11:00 a.m. Happy Independence Day! Vande Mataram! Jai Hind!

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Happy Birthday, Jaya!

Today is Jaya’s birthday. I sent her flowers and cake to her as I am in Baghdad now through Ferns N Petals. It was delivered by afternoon. Jaya called me immediately as she got the bouquet and the cake. She was very happy as she was missing me and our son, Babai. With as much love, as I can share, I wanted to let you know I care enough to send some love your way, Happy Birthday, sweetheart! I am missing you.

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My Birthday 2014

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I am on vacation during my birthday after a long time. I am with my family but  we three of us can’t be together on my birthday March 21, 2014 as Babai is in his institute in Gangtok. Jaya & I are undergoing medical checkups and consultations at Apollo Gleneagles Hospital in Kolkata. GANGTOK We visited our son Babai in […]

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