Khele mashane mein Holi

Banaras starts celebrating Holi 6 days before on Rangbhari Ekadashi when Shiva is supposed to come home first time with his consort Parvati post marriage and his followers welcomed them by playing colours with them. And next day Shiva's followers play Holi with ashes at famous cremation grounds of Banaras and this Pandit Channulal Mishra... Continue Reading →

The Tirangi Barfi of Banaras

The fight for Indian Independence was fought at many levels - from the boycott of foreign made clothes, to making salt and by making statement through food. And Banaras (Varanasi) led the way by creating special mithai (sweets) during the Independence movement and the most famous of that is the Tirangi Barfi of Banaras. The... Continue Reading →

Rāmā Kātha – the Rāmāyana story

During my final exams for Masters, Banaras Hindu University hosted a festival of Rāmāyana from other South-east Asian countries; everyday in the evening one country or the other presented a retelling of their version of the story in dance drama format. That was my first initiation to various versions of the epic Rāmāyana - the... Continue Reading →

Our Holi lunch of Banaras

Festivals in India are closely linked with food especially in UP households where there is different menu for each festival. Even though Punjabis, since we lived in Banaras our food habits have been influenced by UP-Bihar traditions and some from the home rituals followed by my maternal Grandmother. In almost all the households of our... Continue Reading →

Taste of Banaras – Banarasi Thali

Banarasi khana is unique in its taste - very different from its Western UP counterpart or even Punjabi cuisine. Banarasi cuisine over centuries has created its own taste with influence from Bihar and Bengal, even taken inspiration from Muslim rulers and inhabitants. In Banaras, one even finds an Italian pizzeria, a Japanese restaurant or a... Continue Reading →

Khele mashane mein Holi

Holi across the world is largely associated with Krishna, and people flock to Brijbhoomi to witness the festivities. Even the songs or paintings that celebrate this colourful festival centers around this playful God. But in the city of Shiva - Banaras (Kashi or Varanasi), Rangbhari Ekadashi marks the beginning of the festival six days before... Continue Reading →

The cacophony of Indian bazaars

Before the air-conditioned malls there were markets, and before these sanitised ubiquitous Galleria/ Defence Colony/ Khan Markets of Indian cities there were traditional Indian bazaars. Some of these bazaars were static in a smaller locality like Vishwanath Gali in Varanasi or Indira Market of Noida and some were moving bazaars called haats which travelled to... Continue Reading →

Lucky 13!

13 years and a long journey ... An address book with 1500 plus names, some acquaintances, some crossing that invisible line to become friends. Adding to the ever expanding encyclopedia of mind and heart, creating new memories on the way!   Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing... So on the... Continue Reading →

To the Eternal City …

I have made two trips within a fortnight to the world's oldest living city, Banaras. The city as usual inspires me, takes me back to the roots of Hinduism, but sometimes also disillusions me. On my last visit I landed on the Maha Ashtami during Navratras, and the whole city was doused in the religious... Continue Reading →

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