Neha Banerjee from India secures 6th position at Mrs. Universe World Event 2017

Neha Banerjee with other contestants (14)

She is brave, bold, and beautiful. She is India! Guess who made India proud? Neha Banerjee shines the tiara of bravery & beauty when she was crowned Mrs. Bravery & Mrs. Beautiful Eyes at 40th Mrs. Universe at Durban’s Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre tapping into the theme, Empowering women. Creating change. For the first time in 40 years, India has glorified the national flag on International soil at Mrs. Universe pageant celebrates married women between the age group of 25 and 45 who are doing phenomenal work to uplift and enhance their local communities through CSI initiatives, business development and global trade opportunities. “It was a great honor to represent India on global level with other 184 countries worldwide. The aim of Mrs. Universe is to unite and celebrate women from across the globe. Seeing the country in a different light through the eyes of strangers was a great experience. I got to meet people from all over the world and they were all so inspirational. They were all there with a purpose and not just to win the competition‚ but spread their message” said Neha.

Neha Banerjee (4)
It has been very rightly said that women are the true architect of the society and it aptly applies to Neha Banerjee who represented India among 184 countries worldwide is already involved in important work to uplift and improve her local communities through charity work, business development and global trade opportunities “I am an active philanthropist in India. It was a feeling of pride to serve another country. We were involved in many philanthropic gestures. Unlike other pageants Mrs. Universe is purpose-driven, highlighting real concerns and areas for positive change. This pageant pools together women from all backgrounds, all of whom have overcome challenges to bring about positive changes in their respective communities”

Neha ,who is a strong willed and an optimistic person whose life motto is to infuse positivity, gravitas, happiness and success in one’s life by boosting their morale and helping them discover their inner strengths and self -esteem wore a traditional Rajastjani colorful poshak depicting an Indian woman’s belief, convictions & values. Her costume was awe-inspiring to awesome, dazzling to daring , expansive and exhilarating to bold.

Contestants engaged in various CSI initiatives to raise funds for Verulam-based LIV Village for orphaned and vulnerable children, facilities that support abused women and the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA). Contestants also visited schools in and around Durban to engage with young women and girls about the importance of education and self-development.

Contestants were also involved in a week of activities prior to the pageant, including visits to KZN cultural attractions and Durban’s tourist hot spots, stepping out in their swimsuits for East Coast Radio’s First Swim of Spring, and putting their heads together at a business strategy workshop at increasing inbound trade and tourism to South Africa.

Janmashtami in America and around the world.

The Hindu festival season is upon us and Janmashtami, invoking the birth of lord Krishna will be celebrated by Hindus all around the world. Here is a recent poster from Pushti Margiya Vaishnav Samaj temple in Florida, US of one such celebration.

If you are looking for a Hindu temple near where you live, check out GaramChai.com ‘s extensive listings.

Janmashti

Drive East 2017 — Indian Classical Dance & Music Festival in NYC — Aug 21-27

A gathering of Indian storytellers share perspectives through diverse forms of Indian Classical Dance and Music: 50+ artists from all over the world come together to New York City for Drive East 2017

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August 8, 2017: New York, NY: This August will see its fifth Drive East festival in Manhattan, from August 21 – 27, 2017. Promising to have an even more impactful and immersive experience this year, Navatman sets off its week long Indian performing arts festival at Dixon Place on the Lower East Side. While usually at LaMama, the intimacy of Dixon Place serves to accentuate a sense of inclusiveness and immersiveness as soon as you enter the space, making it an ideal venue for the to view and experience all the nuances of Indian classical dance and music. From widely acclaimed stalwarts to lesser known gems, Navatman bring NYC 20+ concerts in Indian classical dance and music.

“This year, Drive East’s curation has been a little more nuanced. For instance, our four bharatanatyam performers each come from vastly different styles, allowing the patron to understand some of the more delicate nuances of the form. On the other hand, every kathak performance features guest and collaborative artists – such as Jin Won working with Korean Drums, and Rachna Nivas and Rina Mehta of Leela Dance collective working with tap. Some nights are intended to give you a more traditional feel, like the solos on Tuesday evening, and others are intended on showing the more unique aspects of Indian dance and music such as Saturday night’s artists Rajasthani Caravan, Devdutta Sengupta, and Battery Dance Company. – Sahasra Sambamoorthi, founder and co-curator of Drive East and Navatman

In addition to the 20+ concerts, there are a slew of smaller events: rangoli designs that are planned to adorn the festival steps, official artist meet and greets post each performance, free storytelling sessions on Hindu mythology for families, and advanced intensives for adults in the mornings. Each day brings more than just the concert, but an immersive experience that takes you through every performance.

“We are excited to move to a space that really allows a lot of intimacy between the performer and the viewer. Every year, we’d get feedback that people really loved seeing the shows where the performers were no more than an arm’s length away, so we took that to heart when we decided to move to Dixon Place this year.” – Sridhar Shanmugam, founder and co-curator of Drive East and Navatman

Some of the exciting dance events this year include: the beautiful and brilliant Odissi danseuse Sujata Mohapatra who will be performing on opening night; co-founders Sridhar Shanmugam & Sahasra Sambamoorthi will be performing on stage together, Renjith & Vijna form a husband and wife duet team from Chennai, and Prince of Dance – a power-packed evening of full length concerts by male dancers that includes Christopher Gurusamy (Bharatanatyam) & Avijit Das (Kuchipudi).

This year brings an interesting mix of collaborating Indian styles with other traditional forms. We have 3 Kathak performances but each performance highlights a different aspect and commonality with another style. We have Kathak being set to Korean drums (Jin Won and Sue Yeon Park), and Kathak being juxtaposed with tap dance (Leela Dance Collective). In addition, we have rarer art forms like Manipuri (Devdutta Sengupta) gracing the stage this year.

Music brings us the eminent sarod player Aashish Khan, who will be opening the festival, and the melodious and lyrical music of sitarist Kinnar Seen. Carnatic music can be rarer to find in Manhattan, but Drive East has two soloists Shankar Ramani and Ananya Ashok, not to mention the firebrand Navatman Music Collective, one of the only carnatic choirs in the world. The brilliant Rajasthani Caravan troupe joins us from India, bringing with them unique the sights and sounds of folk music and dance.

A new addition to the festival, Navatman will also host Saturday Youth Day concerts. Youth concerts allow exceptional up and coming students trained by stalwart gurus a place in the festival as well, such as  Guitar Prasanna’s students who perform Carnatic music on electric guitars.

About Navatman:

Navatman, Inc was founded with an eye on creating a sustainable home for the South Asian arts in New York City and its surrounding neighborhoods, particularly emphasizing Indian classical music and dance. We are a game-changing organization dedicated to creating ground-breaking work in the South Asian classical performing arts in the areas of education, performance, and production. We are best known for our Manhattan-based classes, critically acclaimed productions, dynamic dance company, and stellar carnatic choir, all of which have received reviews in mainstream press including the New York Times, India Abroad, The Hindu, the Financial Times, and The Star-Ledger, to name a few. Navatman continues to see success in their goal to preserve Indian classical music and dance through democratizing these art forms by increasing their accessibility, and innovating on pre-existing business and organizational models to stay relevant, fresh and exciting.

Concert Line Up:

Monday, August 21st:

  • 7:15PM – 8:15PM Aashish Khan – Sarode Recital
  • 8:30PM – 10PM Sujata Mohapatra – Odissi Recital

Tuesday, August 22nd:

  • 6PM – 7PM Indrani Khare: Hindustani Vocal Recital
  • 7:15PM – 8:15PM Kinnar Seen – Sitar Recital
  • 8:30 – 10PM Janaki Rangarajan – Bharatanatyam Recital

Wednesday, August 23rd:

  • 6PM – 7PM Jin Won and Sue Yeon Park – Kathak Meets Korean Arts
  • 7:15PM – 8:15PM Navatman Dance, Feat. Sridhar Shanmugam – Bharatanatyam Recital
  • 8:30 – 10PM Shankar Ramani – Carnatic Vocal Recital

Thursday, August 24th:

  • 6PM – 7PM Pranamya Suri – Kuchipudi Recital
  • 7:15PM – 8:15PM Apoorva Jayaraman – Bharatanatyam Recital
  • 8:30PM – 10PM Ananya Ashok – Carnatic Vocal Recital

Friday, August 25th:

  • 6PM – 7PM Prince of Dance: Christopher Gurusamy – Bharatanatyam Recital
  • 7:15PM – 8:15PM Prince of Dance: Avijit Das – Kuchipudi Recital

Saturday, August 26th:

  • 2:30PM – 3:30PM Youth Concert Day: Shankhadip Chakraborty – Hindustani Vocal Recital
  • 3:45PM – 4:45PM Youth Concert Day: Carnatic Power – Carnatic Guitar Recital
  • 6PM – 7PM Rare Arts of India: Devdutta Sengupta Ghosh – Manipuri Recital
  • 7:15PM – 8:15PM Battery Dance Company – The Durga Project featuring Unnath Hassan Rathnaraju,  sponsored by State bank of India
  • 8:30PM – 10PM Rajasthani Caravan – Rajasthani Folk Music & Dance Recital

Sunday, August 27th:

  • 2:00PM – 3:30PM Navatman Music Collective – Carnatic Choir Recital
  • 3:45PM – 4:45PM Rachna Nivas and Rina Mehta of the Leela Dance Collective with guest artist Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards – Kathak Recital
  • 4PM – 5PM Renjith & Vijna – Bharatanatyam Duet Recital

Educational Events:

  • August 21 – August 25: 5PM – 5:30PM – Free storytelling sessions on Indian mythology for children
  • August 26: 12:30PM – 2:30PM – Saturday Youth Day

You may also be interested in checking out Garamchai.com ‘s Art and Culture section with extensive listings of Indian Dance and Music academies around North America

Techie reaches mother’s flat on return from US, finds her skeleton

Here is a morbid story that is bound to send shivers down most of us, especially Non Resident Indians with elderly parents living alone in India.


Man reaches mother’s flat on return from US, finds her skeleton

When Rituraj Sahani arrived from the US and reached his mother’s Oshiwara flat Sunday morning, no one answered the door. He managed to enter the house with the help of a keymaker. On reaching the bedroom, he found his 63-year-old mother’s skeletal remains. Given the complete decomposition of the body, police believe she passed away at least a few weeks ago. They have registered a case of accidental death and are waiting for the post-mortem report. They believe she died of natural causes as no injury marks were found on her body and the door was locked from the inside.

Subhash Khanvilkar, senior inspector, Oshiwara police station, said, “Asha K Sahani had been staying alone at her 10th floor residence in Wells Cot society in Andheri’s Lokhandwala area since her husband died in 2013. Their son Rituraj, an engineer, had moved to the US in 1997.” “The last conversation between the mother and son took place in April 2016. At that point, Sahani had told him that she felt lonely. She had also asked him to get her into an old-age home,” the officer said.

Khanwilkar said that since the 10th floor has only two flats and both belong to the Sahanis, neighbours did not sense any foul smell. “In the bedroom, Rituraj found the body of his mother, which had decomposed to such an extent that only her skeleton remained. We suspect she must have passed away at least a few weeks ago.”

Police are now recording statements of Rituraj and residents of the building to find out when was the last time anyone spoke to her. “The post-mortem report, too, will give us some clarity on the time of death,” said an officer.

re-published from Indian Express

Other Articles on the topic:

Q&A – Return to India Query

Advice for NRIs and Indians abroad on returning to India

Here is a recent online query on Returning to India.

I am a software engineer from India and I have spent my last 15 years abroad in various countries. Which place in India is best for an NRI like me to settle down on returning to India with a decent job?

Response from our editor follows

This is a great question, but there is hardy any information on your interests, personal situation, career goals or intent.

If you were unconstrained and had the resources, wouldnt you want to settle in Andamans ?

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or Himachal Pradesh?

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India is a vast, ever-changing nation so it is really important to focus on these:

  • Interests and personal situation:
    • Are you extroverted and outgoing and want an urbane social circle?
    • Do you have an extended family living in a certain region? Do you plan to socialize frequently with your family?

Your interests and personal situation will guide you on the city/region where you want to ‘settle down.’ For example, if your extended family is in Imphal, Manipur, wouldn’t you be better off settling closer in Imphal, Assam or Kolkata? Same goes for your interests. If you love the ocean, wouldn’t you want to settle in Mumbai or Goa?

  • Career goals:
    • Do you specialize in a very niche area. E.g AI or Big-data tool?
    • Do you plan to enrich your career with a move to India?

I am not going to assume whether you are an AI, Big-data or HANA consultant since most metros will have opportunities for these. If you plan to settle in a major metro, this may be a non-issue. However, if you are looking at settling in tier-2 cities, you need to reflect on your career goals and re-skilling too.

  • Intent:
    • Are you clear why you want to move back to India?
    • Are you prepared to accept the ways of life in a developing nation – traffic, pollution, regionalism etc?

Bottomline: Be clear of your intent and you will be better informed. Check out my recent post: “What were your experiences moving back to India after getting US citizenship? What are the best ways to make this move?

You may also be interested in Return 2 India Section of GaramChai.com 


Only in India: With No Money To Buy An Ox, Distraught MP Farmer Uses His Daughters To Plough Field

Much of the focus of the farmers on the west is to leverage technologies to increase yields. And back in India, it continues to be sustenance agriculture going back centuries.

Check out this video of a Farmer making his daughters plough his fields

A heartbreaking farmer story from the state of Madhya Pradesh (MP) reveals the sad reality of the ongoing crisis of debt-ridden farmers. Financial crisis reduced a farmer in Sehore’s Basantpur Pangri village to use his two daughters, instead of oxen to pull the plough in their fields.

With No Money To Buy An Ox, Distraught MP Farmer Uses His Daughters To Plough Field
Image source : Indiatimes

I do not have enough money to buy or take care of bulls for ploughing. Both my daughters quit their schooling due to financial crisis,” farmer told ANI.

Both daughters Radhika, 14 and Kunti, 11 years quit their education due to lack of money or financial support.  Soon after the video of Barela and his daughters ploughing the field went viral, the district authorities swung into action and instructed the farmer to stop the practice.

District Public Relation Officer (DPRO) Ashish Sharma said that the administration is looking forward into the matter and a proper help would be given to him under governmental schemes.

“The farmer has been instructed not to use children for such activities. Whatever help he can be given under governmental schemes, administration is looking into it,” Sharma told ANI. (source – 

CNN Anchor Mocks Indian-American Spelling Bee Champ And Thinks Sanskrit Is Still Widely Spoken In India

When 12-year-old Ananya Vinay won the Scripps National Spelling Bee in the US, she made Indians around the world very proud.

Ananya and another Indian-American Rohan Rajeev faced each other in the final round last week at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Centre in Maryland. Ananya won on the word “marocain”, a fabric.

Naturally, television channels started interviewing her. But when international news channel CNN decided to interview the 12-year-old, you didn’t have to think twice before knowing that this reeks of racism.

“…It is a nonsense word but we’re not sure that its root is in Sanskrit which is probably what you’re used to…”

‘Covfefe’ is a nonsense word but we’re not sure that its root is in Sanskrit — which is probably what you’re used to.Alisyn Camerota

Erm…what?

There are so many things wrong with the statement above that we’ll need a minute to organise our thoughts.

(read the rest on huffingtonpost)


 

Update: US lawmakers flay CNN anchor over remarks on Indian-American spelling bee champion

Two US lawmakers have criticised a CNN anchor for allegedly “otherising” Indian-American national spelling champion+ Ananya Vinay by assuming that the 12-year-old is “used to using” Sanskrit due to her heritage, saying the US needs to get educated about Hinduism and India.

Indian-American Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi and Hindu Congressman Tulsi Gabbard lashed out at the anchors for playing into stereotypes. “It’s disappointing that a segment which should have honoured the accomplishments of Vinay instead other-ised her and the Indian-American community by playing into stereotypes,” Indian-American Congressman from Illinois Krishnamoorthi said.

This is “Further evidence of the need for America in general, and CNN in particular, to get educated about Hinduism & India,” said Tulsi Gabbard, the Hindu Congresswoman from Hawaii.

CNN should be embarrassed: Anchor assumes American spelling bee champ must be “used to using” Sanskrit. Do Italian-Americans use Latin?” wrote eminent journalist Indira Lakshmanan.
The sixth-grader had correctly spelled the word ‘marocain’ and became the 13th consecutive winner from the Indian-American community at the annual spelling bee championship.