Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Dots :)

So Sharon wanted to know about the "dots" that people wear on their heads here in South Asia... So here is my attempt to explain them :)
OK, so the "dot" in the picture below is generally called a Bindi (in other parts of the country it can be called other things - Pattu, Teep, Bottu, Nande, etc). It comes from the Sanskrit word - Bindu - that means a dot, drop or small particle.... so technically it is a dot :) So what is the meaning... well.... The area between the eyebrows (where the bindi is placed) is said to be the sixth chakra, ajna, the seat of "concealed wisdom". to followers of Tantrism, this chakra is the exit point for kundalini energy. The bindi is said to retain energy and strengthen concentration (like a lid to keep the energy in! - haha!). It is also said to protect against demons or bad luck. BUT If you ask most people what the meaning of the Bindi is... they'll just say that it just means that you're married or it's just "South Asian Culture"... Red is an "auspicious" color here. Women usually wear the red bindis as a way to show that they're married.
Originally they looked more like the picture below where the women would "paint them on" in the morning with red vermillion powder or other substances. Most women in the cities and some in the villages now wear the "sticker bindis" instead of painting it on each day.
Now, you don't have to be married to wear a bindi :) Usually the plain red bindis mean you're married, but there are all kinds of bindis. A lot of times college girls will wear fancy jeweled bindis when they dress up (as seen in the pic below) or just to look nice. So, wearing a bindi doesn't necessarily mean that you're married.
Wedding bindis can be very fancy (as seen below).
Some people wear bindis to match their clothes...
or to accentuate their fancy outfits... In the pic below you can see red powder (or vermillion powder) in the woman's hair part. This is called a sindoor. This is something that only married women wear. The meaning is supposed to be that the woman wearing it is wishing for a long life for her husband and the red is supposed to represent strength and love.
And, as most things go, there is a newer, more modern way to wear it... they have liquid sindoors... it looks like a little tube of lip gloss (with a similar applicator) and you just "paint" it on (as seen in the pic below) :)
Now, there is another mark that is comonly seen on people's faces (see pic below)... It's called a tika (टिका), or tilak.
This is defined by many different people in many different ways. Some people believe that a man should never be without one, some people only get them when they go to the temples, some people think that it has a cooling effect on the body... there are all sorts of things and I can't begin to even explain them all. Most people either put them on (or someone puts it on them) as they leave their house in the morning as a way of showing that they did their morning w0rship or they will apply it or have it applied by the temple priest or worker there as a way to show that they have w0rshipped or as an act of w0rship itself... (see, I told you it was confusing :)
For some special w0rship times they will even stick rice to their tika as a part of their w0rship.
The different styled tikas are supposed to represent the different g0ds that they are w0rshipping... it's different in different parts of South Asia (as seen in the pic below) :)
OK, one last thing... Somtimes people put black dots on their children (shown in the pic below). Usually on the forehead, or cheek. This is kind of like the "evil eye"... it's ususally there to ward off evil and protect the kid.
OK, so that was probably really boring... that was a lot of information.... so, sorry if I bored some of you - if you even made it this far - haha!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Back Home

My parents left last night to go back to Tallahassee. Here's a few pics from their last few days here :) I dressed my mom up in a Sari (below) - she thought it was fun :)
Yesterday we went to a famous H'ndu temple here (you can see it in the pic below in the background)... as always there were a bunch of school kids there on a field trip... My parents had fun with the kids (see if you can see my mom in the pic below)...
In the park area of the temple, they had these fun marble slides!! The kids were having a lot of fun going up and down the slides....My dad did too - haha!!
We also too them to a famous Sikh Temple. You have to cover your head when you go there... and since my dad & Adam didn't have head coverings with them, so they got to wear these really cool orange head coverings :)
This Sikh temple is famous for the HUGE amount of people that they feed each day (they said about 10,000)... In the pic below you can see them making the bread.
We had a great time showing my parents around and doing things with them :) They should be home in about 12 hours...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Tughluqabad

Today we went to the awesome Tughlaqabad Fort. It's REALLY cool! It's a HUGE fort! This was built at the begining of the Tughlaq dynasty in 1321... so it's really old :) It was abandoned in 1327!! Can you imagine doing all that work and then abandoning it just a few years later?! In the pic below is a pic of our awesome tour guides :) Connor and Clayton have started up their business (HUT - High Urban Trekkers) - so if anyone is interested for a tour - I highly recommend it!
The kids in the pic below followed us around for most of it :)
The pic below made me think of Indiana Jones :) This was in the Mausoleum of Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq.... I know, long name :) haha!
Here's a pic of Adam, Aashini & me inside the walls of the fort...
They're doing a lot of repairs on the fort right now. I thought the lady below was cute and had a great smile :)
My parents had a lot of fun too :) They had fun playing with the kids too.
It's so fun that there are so many cool things to see in our city! Let's see what tomorrow holds!!

Old Stuff & Animals

Yesterday we went to Humayun's Tomb . It was fun :) It's always cool to see something that is so old! We had fun exploring and taking pictures!
Mom & Dad had fun exploring and looking at everything too :)
The next stop was the Zoo - or the "bird cage" as it's called in Hindi. The zoo here is really funny! There are TONS of different kinds of deer - TONS! and there are TONS of birds... with a few other animals mixed around :) There are also....
LOTS OF MONKEYS!! Most of them aren't in cages though :) haha!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Long but Fun Day :)

Yesterday we took our parents to our old stompin' grounds of M-town :) They wanted to meet all our friends over there. First stop was K-block :) That's the area Adam and I hung out at every day for language. We had to make sure Aashini was bundled up super warm so that we wouldn't get lectured too much :) haha! She definitely looks like a South Asian baby in these first two pics! The sweaters she's wearing are from one of the ladies that live here (she had her son bring them to us about a month before so that Aashini would be warm :))Aashini handled the day like a champ - she was handled a ton and was SUPER exaused by the end of the day!
We had fun visiting with the Kumars. We really miss them :) - haha! I changed Aashini when we got to their house - which was a good thing because the poor girl was sweating like crazy! Mona did give me some funny baby advice though - you shouldn't let the baby wear a hat & socks at the same time - hmm... ok :)
My parents really enjoyed meeting the Kumars :)
This picture (below) cracks me up! We are making funny pics for the picture... and Aashini decided to make a funny face too - and spit up a little - it looks really funny to me ;)
At the end of the day we got to visit our favorite people in M-town :) SSs&s :) We had a good time playing, hanging out and eating :)
Overall it was a tiring but great day! Yea! for M-town!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Bollywood Style :)

Tonight we went to a play. A friend of mine was in it and invited me, so I wanted to check it out :) We all went... Me, Adam, Aashini, Mom & Dad. I really didn't know what to expect. It was a college drama performance.... well... it was AWESOME! It was like watching a bollywood movie (but shorter).
The play was making a lot of political statements all having to do with helping people who were poor, crippled, with leprosy and people that are persecuted for what they believe. There were tons of singing and dancing numbers. They took really popular bollywood songs and changed the words, so it was super fun. It was cool. Aashini was a champ through the play... she slept thought most of it. At the end they did a question and answer time, and Aashini started making a lot of funny grunty noises. They were really loud and it was really funny! At one point she was so loud that everyone in the theatre looked at us! It was funny!

In the pic below you can see my friend AJ in the yellow :) We had a fun new experience here in the Capital... and as one woman at the theatre said: "It was our daughter's first play" :)

Friday, February 08, 2008

Mela Fun!

Today we went to a really fun Craft Mela (Festival). It was in the state below us. After a fun trip via rickshaw, we made it to the Mela. It was HUGE!! We spent almost the whole day at the fair!

They had crafts and fun performances. There were a lot of performances from the colorful state below and West of us. The ladies did some really cool dances.
Mom had a lot of fun meeting the ladies that did the singing and dances.
There were a lot of kids performing and dancing - they were really cute :) Some of the guys in the crowd really go into some of the dancing - it reminded us a lot of M-town :) It was seriously one of the most colorful fairs I have ever been too! They decorated some bicycle rickshaws and they gave rides through the fair - they looked so funny!! There were some awesome camels... I like this pic b/c the guy in the background is making a face that looks a lot like this camel :)