http://life11.org Savvy Lifestyle, Smart Living blog Mon, 22 Jan 2018 16:35:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.2 https://i0.wp.com/life11.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/FB-profile-pic.jpg?fit=32%2C32 http://life11.org 32 32 88418713 http://life11.org/2018/01/19/how-goal-based-investing-can-help-you-to-reach-your-life-goals/ http://life11.org/2018/01/19/how-goal-based-investing-can-help-you-to-reach-your-life-goals/#comments Fri, 19 Jan 2018 02:52:09 +0000 http://life11.org/?p=21654 Complete Reading]]>

Life goals quote

We all have dreams and aspirations, and we need financial foundations to support our aspirations. The responsibility of creating these financial foundations also lies with us.

Let me begin with my own example. I started working at the age of twenty-one after completing my Engineering, and after a year I got married. Those days Engineering + MBA was a coveted qualification. I wanted to do an MBA after marriage but the costs were prohibitive, and beyond my affordability. I had to wait for more than a decade to accumulate sufficient corpus before I could sponsor my MBA abroad.

Now, when I look back, I realize how proper financial planning could have helped me to achieve my Life goals on time. That is the advice I would give my daughter as well, who will be entering the workforce in six months’ time.

What are your Life Goals?

At any stage of your life, you will have dreams and aspirations. While some dreams may be abstract and reside as mere wishes in your mind, some dreams stir you enough to make you work towards accomplishing them. You clearly aspire for those and feel motivated to plan for achieving those. These dreams can then turn into your Life goals.

“A dream becomes a goal when action is taken toward its achievement.” ~ Bo Bennett

A life goal could be to have a destination wedding, or a dream house, or to save for a start-up, to sponsor your own education or your children’s higher education, wealth creation, to plan for retirement or to create an emergency fund.

Life Goals

 

How to plan for achieving your Life goals?

Goal Setting Quote

“Setting goals is the first step in turning invisible into the visible.”     ~ Tony Robbins

Once you have identified what your Lifegoals are, you need to assess the amount of time you have in hand to reach the goals. These Life goals can be short-term, mid-term or long-term, depending on the time frame, within which you plan to achieve the goals.

The next thing to do is to find out the cost of achieving the goal today. Say, if you wish to go on a polar expedition and Antarctic cruise, you need to know what it would cost you to travel to Antarctica today. If you plan to do it in the next 2 years, you add a reasonable amount of inflation to the cost and work out how much the Antarctic cruise would cost in two-years’ time.

After you know the cost of meeting the goal in the given time, you have to assess out how much you need to set aside from your earnings to save for the goal. Though it sounds simple, yet it takes some amount of thinking to work out a realistically feasible figure.

With the help of a good financial advisor, you can select a suitable scheme that allows you to accumulate as well as grow your savings to meet your life goals while matching your risk profile. 

 

What is Goal-Based Investing?

Investing in a planned manner to achieve your #LIFEGOALS is called Goal-Based Investing. Each individual or broadly speaking, each segment of the population may have different sets of #LifeGoals to accomplish, for which they need to invest in a systematic manner.

India has a youthful population, whose dreams and aspirations are changing with the changing times. The young in urban India, have high expectations from life and are setting high targets to achieve that perfect life. Smart front –foot financial decisions, augur well with this segment of Indian population

At the same time, the average lifespan of people is also increasing. So, they need resources to maintain their standard of living and quality lifestyle for a longer period of time.

Planned investments made with the objective to meet #LifeGoals can give the most effective results.

 

Bajaj Allianz Meetup on Goal-Based Investing

At a meetup organized by Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance on the 8th of Jan 2018 in Mumbai, I got a chance to know more about the concept of Goal-Based Investing.

The session started with a talk by actor and comedian Suresh Menon. It was a hilarious to hear him talk about his Life and Life Goals. In his typical Bollywood comic style, he shared that for quite some time, his only goal in Life was to get work.

Goal Based Investing

But even after he started earning, he remained clueless about saving and investing. When someone suggested that he gets a Life Insurance Cover, he was not enthused with the idea that he would have to die while his policy is still in force to get any returns. Then, someone told him about ULIP.

I am happy to have discovered the ULIP scheme, which will give me insurance cover in case of death and investment returns if I continue to live,” he quipped.

“Since then, my mantra is #InvestBefikar and #Jiyobfikar.”

Point taken. ULIP plays a dual role in Investment and Insurance. 

The other highlight of the session was a Dart Game to demonstrate the importance of Goal-based investing.

Goal Based Investing

On a pinwheel, Life Goals were drawn, from which the participants were asked to choose a goal. A person would rotate the wheel, and each participant had to hit the goal with a dart. As the wheel was spinning, many of the participants missed hitting the goals. Some started making multiple attempts at throwing the dart and hit the goals.

The simple game had a big lesson for all. Time keeps moving. The chance of hitting your goals are higher when you throw the dart right on time and at the right angle.

Likewise, you increase the probability of reaching your Life Goals when you start investing on time and in the right scheme.

The last part of the session was the most informative one, in which Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance MD and CEO Mr Tarun Chugh along with the Chief Investment Officer (CIO) Mr Sampath Reddy explained how Goal-Based Investing can be used to meet Life Goals and busted some of the myths around ULIPs, which I shall elaborate in the following section.

 

How Goal-Based Investing can be used meet your Lifegoals

Goal-Based Investing requires the investment approach to suit the individual’s Life Goals. It takes into account the priority of goals, time horizons and risks.

Different investment approaches may be needed to fulfil different life goals. While one may take an aggressive approach to a certain goal, one may choose to be very conservative in the investment approach for a different goal.

Short term goals are addressed differently than mid-term goals or long-term goals. Safety is a prime consideration for a goal that needs to be met in a short time frame (say making a down payment for buying a car in a years’ time). Debt as an asset would fit the goal better for such short-term goals.

ULIPs are great investment options for Long-term Life Goals (over 10 – 20 years). These goals can be planning for your children’s higher education or marriage, down payment for buying a property or planning for your retirement.

 

Myths and facts surrounding ULIPs

Before we delve into this, you may like to see here How does a ULIP Plan work 

A ULIP is a flexible and transparent investment instrument which offer the dual benefits of investment and protection. One part of the premium paid for a ULIP goes towards coverage of risk to life and the other gets invested in generating returns.

Monthly investments in ULIP can be made through the SIP mode. Any additional lump sum investible income can also be added as top-ups to the ULIP policy.

ULIPs have different fund options with varying asset allocations between equity and debt. Fund asset allocation can be tailored to your life goals. Mr Reddy explained that a major advantage of ULIP is that irrespective of the holding period, switching between fund options is exempt from tax.

Overall, ULIPs provide life cover, give tax benefits at a low cost. Due to the long-term investment outlook, ULIPS protect from short-term volatility and offer good returns over a longer time horizon. ULIPs provide good means for long-term wealth creation and achieving your long-term #LifeGoals.

Finally, I would like to reiterate that Goal-based investing is a smarter way to meet your Life Goals over chasing returns. Though the best time to start financial planning is early in your career. it is never too late to consider investing in a good scheme.

Watch this space for more information about a Soon To Be Launched product by Bajaj Allianz Life that will help you to achieve your #LifeGoals.

 

Hey! Say what you want to. Please Like, Share and/or drop a Comment below!   🙂 

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http://life11.org/2018/01/11/swami-vivekanandas-life-and-teachings-for-the-youth/ http://life11.org/2018/01/11/swami-vivekanandas-life-and-teachings-for-the-youth/#comments Thu, 11 Jan 2018 16:17:03 +0000 http://life11.org/?p=21565 Complete Reading]]>

On the 12th of January every year, National Youth Day is observed in India to commemorate the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda.

The young spiritual leader who is credited with spreading the essence of Indian spirituality to the Western world had immense faith in the power of the youth of India. By upholding the teachings of Vedanta and its universal values of tolerance, acceptance and co-existence of different faiths, cultures and beliefs, he re-instilled a sense of pride amongst all Indians in their cultural heritage.

What makes Swami Vivekananda the ideal role model for the youth is the fact that he motivated the youth to be strong in body, mind and spirit, and he strongly advocated their role in nation-building. He envisioned India as a country with energetic young people, who will shape up a modern nation based on the foundation of Vedic spiritual ideals.

This is what Swami Vivekananda said in context of the youth

  • Youth is the best time. The way in which you utilize this period will decide the nature of coming years that lie ahead of you.

  • What we want is vigour in the blood, strength in the nerves, iron muscles and nerves of steel, not softening namby-pamby ideas.

  • You will be nearer to Heaven through football than through the study of the Gita.

You will understand the Gita better with your biceps, your muscles, a little stronger. You will understand the mighty genius and the mighty strength of Krishna better with a little of strong blood in you. You will understand the Upanishads better and the glory of the Atman when your body stands firm upon your feet.

  • The supreme value of youth period is incalculable and indescribable. Youth life is the most precious life.

  • This is the time to decide your future — while you possess the energy of youth, not when you are worn out and jaded, but in the freshness and vigour of youth.

  • Talk to yourself once in a day….Otherwise, you may miss meeting an excellent person in this world.

  • My hope of the future lies in the youths of character, intelligent, renouncing all for the services of others, and obedient – good to themselves and the country at large.

  • The sign of life is strength and growth. The sign of death is weakness. Whatever is weak, avoid!

Find here Inspirational Quotes on Nation Building

Life of Swami Vivekananda

Vivekanand, born as Narendranath Datta on 12 January 1863, in Kolkata, was one of the nine children of Vishwanath Datta, an attorney at the Calcutta High Court and his wife Bhubaneswari Devi. Though mischievous and restless, Naren was a gifted child who excelled in music, studies and athletics. He was interested in spirituality from a young age and was fascinated by wandering ascetics and monks.

As he grew up, Narendranath acquired mastery over Sanskrit, Bengali and English languages. On one hand, he learnt about the philosophical and spiritual legacy of India, on the other, he became conversant with the scientific, artistic, social and political thoughts of modern West. He attended General Assembly’s Institution (now Scottish Church College) Calcutta. From his Principal William Hastie, he heard about the spiritual guru Sri Ramakrishna.

Narendranath’s Association with Sri Ramakrishna

Narendranath first met Sri Ramakrishna at the home of a devotee in Calcutta. Although he did not initially accept Ramakrishna as his teacher and sometimes even rebelled against his ideas, he was attracted by his personality and began to frequently visit him at Dakshineswar.

After Narendra’s father’s sudden death in 1884, the family had to go through a lot of financial struggle. Narendra tried to find work but he was unsuccessful. The way his mother shouldered all the responsibilities of the family made an abiding influence on him.

Narendra began to question the existence of God. It was then he found solace in the words of Ramakrishna. Gradually he accepted Ramakrishna as his spiritual guru.

Sri Ramakrishna taught that service to humanity was the most effective form of worship of God. During his last days, Sri Ramakrishna selected Narendra to be the leader of his young disciples. He foretold that Narendra would accomplish the great mission for the regeneration of the people of the world.

Ramakrishna Paranhansa
Swami Vivekananda

After Sri Ramakrishna passed away in 1886, Narendra and his brother disciples took monastic vows. Narendra now became Swami Vivekananda.

Narendranath became Swami Vivekananda

To spread the message of Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda travelled over the length and breadth of India as a wandering monk and discovered the soul of India. On the eve of Christmas of 1892, Swami Vivekananda reached Kanyakumari the southernmost point of India. After a worship of the Divine Mother, he swam across to a rock out in the vast ocean and went into deep meditation for a few days. He pondered over the past glory of India and the present degeneration and chalked out a plan for the reconstruction of India through social service, by promoting scientific thinking and industrialisation, addressing widespread poverty and the social issues and ending the colonial rule.

Swami Vivekananda’s first visit to the West

With support and contributions from some of his enthusiastic followers, Swami Vivekananda sailed for the USA in 1893 to participate in the World’s Parliament of Religions at Chicago. However, the date for registration was over and he did not have any credential to join the Parliament.

In the US, Vivekananda came in contact with Professor John Henry Wright of Harvard University, who highly impressed with the Swami’s knowledge, assumed that he was going to the Parliament. When he came to know that Vivekananda was not officially accredited and had no sponsors, the Professor wrote to the Chairman of the Parliament,

Here is a man more learned than all our professors put together.

The Professor arranged for the registration, funds and other logistics needed by Swami Vivekananda to attend the Parliament.

 

Vivekananda’s Speech at Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago

On 11th September 1893, the modest young monk from India delivered his speech at the first Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago.

Greeting the youngest of the nations on behalf of “the most ancient order of monks in the world, he explained the core of Hinduism through the rational and humanistic teachings of Vedanta and talked about the spiritual culture of India.

At a time when the West considered India as a land of superstitions, he proclaimed the greatness of Hinduism in America. He categorically stated that religion was not the crying need of India. Instead, he sought aid for his impoverished people.

The eloquence of his speech matched the profoundness of his thoughts and earned him recognition amongst the religious officials, scholars, and historians representing the major world faiths. The American newspapers reported Vivekananda as the “Cyclonic Monk from India”, “Hurricane Hindu” or “the most popular and influential man in the parliament of religions.”

The trip to the Parliament resulted in a four-year lecture tour of the Americas and Europe. He spread the spiritual knowledge of India, in the process attracting several followers and admirers. His success led to the establishment of Vedanta centres in the West.

He wanted to combine the scientific and technological achievements of the West with the asceticism and humanism of India. A conversation during a chance meeting between Swami Vivekananda and industrialist Jamshedji Tata on a boat that sailed from Yokohama to Vancouver, culminated in the idea of setting up the Indian Institute of Science.

Founding of Ramakrishna Mission

Swami Vivekananda returned from West to India in 1897 and founded Ramakrishna Mission for spiritual and humanitarian services. On 9 December 1898, with the blessings of his guru Ramakrishna’s wife Sri Sarada Devi, he started Ramakrishna Math at Belur on the bank of Ganga River near Calcutta. Swami Vivekananda also founded two other monasteries: one called the Advaita Ashrama in Mayavati in the Himalayas (near Almora), and Sri Ramakrishna Math in Chennai.

In June 1899, Vivekananda left for West on his second visit. He returned to India in December 1900. The arduous work and extensive travel took a toll on Swami Vivekananda’s health. On the night of 4 July 1902, Swami Vivekananda sat for a deep meditation and left for the heavenly abode at the relatively young age of 39.

Quotes on Swami Vivekananda

  • If you want to know India, study Vivekananda. In him everything is positive and nothing negative,” said Rabindranath Tagore.

  • His words are great music, phrases in the style of Beethoven, stirring rhythms like the march of Händel choruses,” wrote French Nobel laureate, Romain Rolland.

  • To ask for your credentials is like asking the sun to state its right to shine in the heavens,” said Professor Wright to Swami Vivekananda.

  • Mahatma Gandhi said that the writings of Swami Vivekananda taught him to love India even more.

  • “Swami Vivekananda harmonized the East and the West, Religion and Science, Past and Present. And that is why he is great. Our countrymen have gained unprecedented Self-respect, Self-reliance and Self-assertion from his teachings.”~ Subhash Chandra Bose

  • I think that our younger generation will take advantage of this fountain of wisdom, of spirit and fire that flows through Swami Vivekananda,” ~Jawaharlal Nehru

Swami Vivekananda was all for innovation, for new discoveries. He would never refrain from deconstructing something to make way for new ideas. He wanted our youth to be job-givers and not just job-seekers.” ~Narendra Modi

12 January the birthday of Swami Vivekananda is celebrated as the National Youth Day. The philosophy of Swami Vivekananda and the ideals for which he worked are a great source of inspiration for the youth of India. Swami Vivekananda gave the clarion call to the youth:

           Arise! Awake! and stop not until the goal is reached.

On the 155th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, we pay our homage to the dynamic spiritual leader and thinker of India.

 

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swami_Vivekananda

http://www.chennaimath.org/my-message-to-the-youth-swami-vivekananda-1732

Suggested Reading

Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda (9 Volumes) Advaita Ashrama Mayavati, Uttarakhand

This article is contributed by Bhudeb Chakrabarti, Dy IG (Retd) CRPF, and edited by Somali K Chakrabarti

 

 

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http://life11.org/2018/01/03/why-upi-is-the-best-way-to-make-cashless-payments-in-india/ http://life11.org/2018/01/03/why-upi-is-the-best-way-to-make-cashless-payments-in-india/#comments Wed, 03 Jan 2018 11:37:30 +0000 http://life11.org/?p=21403 Complete Reading]]>

It had been around nine months since the waves of demonetization had hit us and we had started using mobile wallets like PayTM. During a half an hour break between the classes in my college at Manipal, I decided to go to a nearby stall for some snacks. Despite being a small town, even the tea vendors are well versed in the use of wallets. They charge an extra fee of around two to five rupees if we use PayTM to pass on the transaction charges for transfer of money from their wallet to their bank account.

As I was about to pay, the vendor said, “Madam, I just got BHIM UPI. If you use that to pay, there’s no extra charge.”

The idea of paying less is always appealing to a college student. That was the first time I heard about UPI transfer and it intrigued me. Just then, another customer came and scanned the UPI code stuck on the wall to pay. I decided to find out more about UPI and the apps. Here I will share with you why UPI is the best way for making cashless payments and transferring money between bank accounts in India.

 

What is UPI?

Unified Payment Interface (UPI) was developed by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), and released on 30th of December 2016, under the guidance of RBI to help with cashless payments. A UPI-enabled payment app called Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) enabled simple, easy and quick transactions through any smartphone using a VPA (Virtual Payment Address). Within 10 days, the BHIM app had 1 crore downloads from Android Play Store.

BHIM UPI App

This was followed by a tie-up between Google and NPCI. Soon after, Google launched its own payment application for its Indian customers called the Google Tez.

Google Tez Payment App in India

Tez ran atop the unified payment interface but was better developed than the original BHIM application. Soon, Tez became more popular with the younger crowd for creating a UPI Identification due to the cashback it offered its users and the deals it presented for inviting more friends to join the app. Other mobile wallets followed the trend and integrated UPI to their own payment systems.

 

Benefits of using UPI for customers and business owners

Digital-Payment-UPI

 

The UPI interface does not act as a separate wallet from the bank account, but just as a path to transfer money from one bank account to another instantaneously, at any time required.

Here’s what makes this flexible interface lucrative not only for regular customers but for business owners as well.

UPI enables direct transfer to an account, without charges

The unique selling point of UPI is that it does not levy charges for transferring money between different banks. You can send up to one lakh using UPI without having to pay service or convenience charges!

This is cost effective than NEFT (National Electronic Funds Transfer), or RTGS. For NEFT, the cost ranges between Rs 2.50 and Rs 25, plus service tax, depending upon the amount. As RTGS is for high-value transactions, RTGS charges are more than the charges for NEFT.

Also unlike NEFT, which is available only on bank working days, excluding weekends and bank holidays, the  UPI transactions can be done round the clock;  and the transfer happens on a real-time basis.

With UPI there is no need to remember account numbers and IFSC codes

To transfer money, the sender only needs to enter the VPA (Virtual Payment Address) of the receiver which is as simple as to remember as a Facebook username! This saves a lot of hassle as one does not need to know the receiver’s account number and IFSC code to make a payment. Moreover, Payee registration is instant. The virtual payment address adds a layer of abstraction and security as the user need not disclose their account number to people.

The receiver does not need to have a UPI ID

Not everyone wants to create an ID with the interface and prefer staying away from mobile transactions. However, if you need to send money to someone who does not have a VPA, you can simply use their account number. You can even use Aadhar card number for transfer, as it has now become compulsory to link the Aadhar cards with your bank accounts.

Higher transaction limit with UPI

On applications like PayTM, there is a transaction limit of Rs 20,000 per day. With UPI, users can send up to Rs. 1 lakh a day as per the NPCI guidelines, while there’s no receiving limit. This enables the growth of smaller businesses and promotes regular users to go cashless by removing the headache of transaction limits.

Cashback with UPI

Most UPI enabled Apps offer a guaranteed cashback with every transaction made on UPI. Google Tez rewarded its users with fifty rupees for every friend they invited to join the app successfully which proved to be a great incentive and helped spread its popularity among the ever-broke college crowd.

No need for KYC with UPI

Know Your Client process which was implemented by Reserve Bank of India to prevent various financial crimes is a tiring job for most who are busy with their daily life. Recently even mobile wallets required getting KYC done for the continued use of their services. Thankfully as the interface is directly linked to the bank, KYC is not a requirement for usage. One-time KYC with your bank is sufficient and the application with UPI can be linked to the bank.

A smartphone is a must to enable UPI transfer.

Three Best UPI Enabled Payment Apps in India

With UPI being one of the latest technologies to hit the market for online funds transfer it has been implemented by many pre-existing as well as new applications.

The easiest and the best to use UPI Payment applications are:

BHIM

The first one to support the UPI technology, this application has been constantly upgraded and maintained to include features while keeping it simple and lightweight. What sets it apart from the rest is the number of languages available for usage. Also, it allows you to send money using receivers Aadhar card.

Google Tez

Comparatively a more complex application, Tez is better suited for tech-savvy users. It has certain advantages as it syncs your Google contacts and fellow Tez users. It also uses audio QR technology to automatically send money without knowing beneficiary details in Cash-Mode Payments feature. The App is available in 8 Indian languages. While it takes a while to get used to the application, its integration with Google and the cashbacks give it a slight edge over BHIM.  You can transfer money without internet connection using QR Code. Since it is not a wallet app, you do need to add money from your bank account to the app.

PayTM

PayTM BHIM UPI

Besides their regular wallet, PayTM integrated BHIM UPI and now it can be used to instantly transfer money directly between two bank accounts. No waiting time is required to add a beneficiary. Existing Paytm merchants can link their multiple existing bank accounts with Paytm BHIM UPI ID and accept money in whichever account they wish. It allows for a higher transaction limit of Rs 100,000 per day. They can also continue to use other wallet services such as online recharge, bill payment, ticket booking etc.

 

UPI is definitely the future of cashless banking and a must to know about. Setting up the account is simple and all the applications usually give a detailed step by step guide for setting up and usage. Hopefully, with a better understanding of the system, it will find greater acceptance and promote the Digital India goal.

 

Guest post by Shreyashi Chakrabarti. Shreyashi is a Final Year Computer and Communications Engineering Student at Manipal Institute of Technology

 

References:

What Is UPI And How It Will Benefit Your Business

UPI Vs. NEFT/RTGS/IMPS & Wallets: 28 Differences

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http://life11.org/2017/12/27/folk-art-of-bengal-and-kalighat-paintings/ http://life11.org/2017/12/27/folk-art-of-bengal-and-kalighat-paintings/#comments Wed, 27 Dec 2017 10:31:30 +0000 http://life11.org/?p=21273 Complete Reading]]>

Patachitra or painting on scrolls refers to the traditional folk art of eastern India, found in the states of West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar and Jharkhand. Each state renders its uniqueness to the art. In this post, I will elaborate on the Patachitra traditions of West Bengal and how they shaped the Kalighat paintings. But first, a quick comparison between the styles of Patachitra paintings in Odisha and West Bengal. 

Different styles of Patachitra Folk art in West Bengal and Odisha

At the Traditions of India exhibition at the CSMSV Museum in Mumbai, I came across two distinct forms of Pattachitra paintings – from Odisha and from Bengal. Seeing the two forms of paintings side by side, and interactions with the respective artists made it easier to compare and contrast the two art forms with respect to their similarities and differences.

Though Patachitra art forms from both the states are similar in the sense that these are cloth-based scroll paintings made with the use of organic colours, both the forms are distinctively different in the treatment of their subjects, style, presentation and design.

For details of Pattachitra paintings of Odisha, browse the link -> Pattachitra art of Odisha

Finesse and intricacy characterise the Pattachitra art of Odisha, whereas simple bold lines, brevity in representation and vigour mark the Patachitra paintings of West Bengal, which are extremely varied in themes. But, even within West Bengal, there are variations in the style of Patachitra painting in the different districts of West Bengal.

Patachitra Odisha and Bengal
Different styles of Patachitra art in Odisha and West Bengal

Patachitra Scroll1

Bright and vibrant scrolls with pictures of Hindu deities adorned a wall of the Coomaraswamy Hall at the exhibition. The adjacent wall was covered with paintings done in the Kalighat Pata style.

 

Patachitra artist Anwar Chitrakar

Patachitra artist

The artist Anwar Chitrakar is a traditional Patua Chitrakar, trained in the Kalighat style of painting. Anwar has won the West Bengal State Award, the National Award and the President’s Award and his artwork have been at various national and international exhibitions. His paintings are a part of the collection at Victoria and Albert Museum, London and the Mumbai International Airport.

Naya Village- Home of the Patua artists

Anwar hails from Naya village of West Bengal. This quaint village in Pingla Block of the West Medinipur district of West Bengal is also known as ‘Pater Gram,’ meaning the village of the Patua artists. There are around 250 Patachitra painters or ‘Patuas‘ living in Naya village.

Patuas or Chitrakars is a unique community of folk painters of Bengal, who tell their stories through their scrolls and songs. Many of these Patua artists are Muslims but their detailed depictions of the Hindu mythological lore and deities is incredible. Holding their art above their religious identity, the artists of Patua community represent the blending of different religious beliefs and traditions.

Patachitra Folk Tradition of West Bengal

As per the Folklibrary.com

Patuas‘ and ‘Chitrakars‘ find mention in literary works dating back to more than 2500 years . Some researchers are of the opinion that ‘Patashilpa‘ was originally an art form of the Santhals (tribal community). As Buddhism spread in India, the Patuas embraced the faith. Scroll paintings were used to preach Buddhism and it is likely that the Patachitra tradition spread to Tibet, Sri-Lanka, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Later, with the spread of Islam, many of the Chitrakars became followers of Islam. However, they continued to earn their living by painting Hindu deities and singing their stories.

 

The showing of Patachitra begins with the creation of a pat (scroll painting).

Painting is done on strips of cotton cloth, coated with chalk and gum. Each scroll is a visual depiction of a song that narrates a story either from mythological and devotional texts, local folktales and historical incidents. The painters dexterously depict all events or episodes of the Ramayana or the Mahabharata or other stories on the scrolls.

Patachitra scroll

Colours derived from natural pigments are used to paint large scrolls. The paintings are exposed to heat and glazed with a lacquer coating to protect it. After single panels have been painted, those are sewn together and the seams seem to disappear in the scroll border. After the scroll painting is complete, songs are composed by the Patua artist to suit the visuals.

A Patua would travel from place to place with the painted scrolls, displaying his scrolls and reciting their contents. As the artist went around the village, an audience would gather to watch the performance.

The first frame of the scroll tells about the major characters of the story. The Patua then unfurls the scroll and sings the narrative plot, frame by frame. At the end of each performance, the Patua adds a touch of personalisation by mentioning his name and the name of his village.

Traditionally, these performances were done by male artists, who were accompanied by younger male members of the family. The women of the house would be involved in preparing the canvass, making the drawings, and organising for the trips.

Read about the Kantha craft of Bengal, on the link -> Kantha Work: Traditional craft in contemporary designs

Kalighat Paintings of Bengal

In the early 19th century, some of these Patua painters migrated to Kalighat, an important pilgrimage place in Kolkata. Initially, they painted icons of the Hindu deities, religious themes based on mythological and Hindu religious texts and historical incidents on paper but soon they expanded the subject of their art to secular and contemporary social themes.

For Vintage pictures of Kolkata, browse the link: Kolkata in the 19th century 

Perhaps surprised by the cultural norms of the urban milieu, they started recording the happenings of their times. Their paintings reflected their conventional views. So, one could see a satirical depiction of the urban culture and society. In these paintings, the figures dominated the entire pictorial space without any secondary adornment or props. The contemporary paintings were a satire on the Babu culture of the rich urban gentlemen, who were influenced by the western thinking. In their paintings, the artists also derided social debauchery, mocked feminism and religious hypocrisy.

Kalighat paintings - secular themes

Kalighat painting - Babu Bibi

Thus 19th century in Bengal saw the fusion of folk paintings with contemporary themes and satire. Though this art was popular among the middle and lower class of people it did not appeal much to the Indian intellectuals of that time, who had a high reverence for the Victorian ideals.

Yet, surprisingly, Rudyard Kipling was so fascinated by the beauty of the art that he acquired a number of these paintings. His collection was later donated to the Victoria and Albert Museum, in London. Some of the best specimens of Kalighat painting are in this collections, and at the collection in Prague Museum.

With the advent of the easily reproducible lithograph and photographs, started the decline of the Kalighat paintings. Eventually, the children of the painters migrated to other professions,

 

Kalighat paintings by Anwar Chitrakar

As I was having a look at the Kalighat paintings done by Anwar Chitrakar, I was reminded of the paintings by Jamini Roy. Being an ardent admirer of Jamini Roy paintings, I love the simplistic look of the paintings which effortlessly and subtly convey powerful emotions, with gently curving lines, almond-shaped eyes and poised figures with calm, peaceful expressions.

Jamini Roy painting
Krishna & the Gopis by Jamini Roy

Kalighat paintings

When I mentioned this to Anwar Chitrakar, he said that Jamini Roy had experimented with Kalighat paintings and had learnt from the village patuas. His techniques, as well as the subject matter, was influenced by the traditional patachitra art of Bengal. So, the similarity is bound to be.

 

Use of Natural Ingredients for Patachitra paintings

While showing his art, Anwar Chitrakar took out a fruit that he had carried with him and cracked it open with his hands. The fruit had thorns on the exterior but red seeds inside looked like pomegranate. He crushed the seeds and rubbed it on a paper to produce a red stain. “This is the natural red colour, I have used in the painting,” he told me. We use natural paints like turmeric for yellow, indigo for blue or plant-based colours, which are prepared in advance and stored in plastic for use throughout the year. The sap of wood apple tree (Bel) is used as a binder.

Natural colours for folk artKalighat Paintings

Pot Maya – Patachitra Festival to promote Cultural Tourism in West Bengal

I came to know about the Pot Maya festival, which is held annually since 2010 in the month of November, in the Naya village. During this festival, people can see this unique art, interact with the artists, and learn how to make natural colours and attend Patachitra workshops. There are no hotels but the Chitrakars host the visitors on request.

West Bengal Tourism has identified the districts of residence of the Patuas, including Naya village as tourist destinations. The Government of West Bengal, in partnership with UNESCO, has developed Rural Craft Hub in Pingla.

An NGO banglanatak.com is also working to revive and preserve the unique traditions of Patachitra and Pater Gaan. An ongoing initiative by banglanatak.com in collaboration with the European Union has facilitated interaction between Patuas and Contemporary painters and new media artists from Europe.

These initiatives have helped the Patuas to make the art form as a means of their livelihood and have led to the empowerment of the women in the Patua community.

Kalighat Painting

The enriching conversation with Anwar Chitrakar deepened my interest in Patachitra folk art of West Bengal. I thanked him and purchased these two Kalighat Pata style paintings, which now hang in the living space of my home.

 

References :

http://ipindiaservices.gov.in

http://en.banglapedia.org

http://www.midnapore.in/

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http://life11.org/2017/12/12/holiday-travel-in-india-has-changed-and-how/ http://life11.org/2017/12/12/holiday-travel-in-india-has-changed-and-how/#comments Tue, 12 Dec 2017 04:43:40 +0000 http://life11.org/?p=21098 Complete Reading]]>

Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living. – Miriam Beard

The concept of holiday travel has undergone a drastic change in the last two to three decades. During my growing up days, holiday travel mostly meant paying social visits to relatives living in different cities. During such visits, together the guests and the hosts would go to the popular tourist attractions. This has changed over time with the changes in lifestyle.

How Holiday travel has evolved over time

Changing Holiday Pattterns

Holiday travel has now extended beyond social visits and also beyond seeing only the popular tourist attractions in many ways.

  • People now take multiple short getaways.
  • For many new age travellers, holiday travel is more about garnering new experiences and making individual discoveries.
  • Besides travelling with family, people also travel with friends or even with social media groups on special occasions.
  • Instead of staying at some relatives place, groups generally assemble at some resort in a common destination to explore new and even lesser known places.
  • The idea of holiday travel is to get a hang of the place in its totality and discover interesting facets of the local culture, cuisine, art, wildlife, nature and adventure.
  • Finally, the pictures must be Instagramable since a holiday is not complete till you have shared the pictures.

 

#HolidayDifferently Blogger Meet in Mumbai

Last week, I was invited to a blogger meet hosted by Sterling Holidays with IndiBlogger at the ITC Grand Central Hotel in Parel. Sterling Holiday Resorts Limited is an independently managed subsidiary of Thomas Cook (India) Limited (TCIL). It has twenty-nine resorts located all over India. The theme of the meeting was how people are now looking forward to different “holiday experiences.” I was curious to know how Sterling Holidays is making it possible for people to holiday differently.

Sterling Holidays Blogger Meet


SterlingHolidaysLogo
At the meeting, their Chief Marketing Officer Mr Peshwa Acharya explained how they have come up with a collection of curated experiences in different destinations. The logo of Sterling Holidays has a swirl that represents movement and dynamism. The warm colours of purple, red and yellow represent rich experiences, discoveries and passion of people and the energy of diverse places. A point to be noted is that Sterling Holidays is the first company in India to offer door to door holiday insurance.

Discover with Sterling’s new discovery mascot, ‘Raja Rex’

Sterling’s new discovery mascot, ‘Raja Rex’ is modelled upon the Rajasaurus dinosaur, which was found on the banks of the river Narmada. Cute, naughty and inquisitive, Raja Rex is ever ready to help travellers discover new activities and experiences.

By inspiring people to discover something new in every destination they visit, Sterling Holidays is fuelling the joy of discovery and making it possible for people to ‘holiday differently.’

 

But what does it mean to Holiday Differently?

Let me explain by sharing some examples from my travel experiences in the recent past.

For most people, a trip to Goa means flocking to the beaches and shacks, enjoying parties or going shopping. We had gone to Goa in the Monsoon, which is considered offseason for tourists. Since it was raining, we couldn’t spend much time on the beaches. But then, Goa has a lot more to offer than beaches. We went around seeing the old churches, enjoyed the lush greenery and admired the Old Portuguese bungalows. We got introduced to a variety of spices and herbs at a spice garden and also got a taste of the Goan cuisine, cooked with homegrown spices.

The trip was different than the commonly perceived idea of a trip to Goa, but it turned out to be enjoyable as we discovered different aspects of Goa.

Goa in Monsoon
Goa in Monsoon
Portuguese-Church-in-Goa
Old Portuguese church in Anjuna, Goa

During my Trip to Kanha National Park, besides taking the forest safari, we also went to a quaint village on the outskirts of the National Park. The striking cleanliness on the streets of the village had us totally impressed. We discovered the indigenous Gond art form of Madhya Pradesh when a resident of the village escorted us to the house of an artist. Beautiful Gond paintings were drawn on the walls.

Gond Wall Art
Gond Wall Art

On the Trip to Russia with my college classmates on the occasion of our silver jubilee reunion, we made it a point to see a folk show called ‘Feel Yourself Russian,’ at the Nikolaevsky Palace in St. Petersburg. This was a unique opportunity for us to get acquainted with the history and cultural traditions of Russia.

Feel-yourself-russian
Feel Yourself Russian Folklore show

Such immersive experiences have broadened my perspective and given me new ways of seeing things. These have helped me to better appreciate the diversity of people and culture of the different places.

Sterling Holidays seems to understand this need for experiential travel of the New Age travellers to the hilt. By adding the flavour of experiential travel, the brand endeavours to create unique off-beat holiday experiences for travellers.

 

Holiday Differently at Sterling Holiday Resorts

Holidays have changed

Travelling in the interiors of the country has its own novelty and charm for people living in cities, with little or no idea about life in the different suburban and rural areas of India.

Stargazing at Corbett
Stargazing at Sterling Corbett

Imagine yourself stargazing and having dinner under the clear sky at Corbett or going on a trip to a tea estate at Darjeeling and enjoying a tea tasting session at the resort lounge. How beautiful the experience would be!

Darjeeling-Tea-Trail
Darjeeling Tea Trail

Have you been to a weaver’s village, where you see the villagers weave exquisite handloom? That is exactly what you would do in Sterling’s Dindi culture trail. Dindi is a village in East Godavari district at the intersection of the Godavari River with the Bay of Bengal. Besides treating yourselves to a local sweet delicacy, Pootharekulu (paper-sweet), you can also learn how it is made. Interesting! Isn’t it?

Dindi
Dindi

In the Sterling Oooty heritage trail, travellers get to know about the rural lifestyle of the Thoda tribe through a demonstration of their traditional dressmaking, the unique hairstyles and a visit to their temples. Travellers can also experience the Thoda culture by living in a traditional hut and learn to cook the Thoda cuisine.

These would be a one-off experience for most city dwellers. Needless to say that such ‘holiday experiences’, resonate on a deeper, emotional level.

Btw, did you know that India as one of the most vacation-deprived countries in the world?

Expedia, an online travel company had ranked India as one of the most vacation-deprived countries in the world. Hopefully, such up and close experiences will encourage people to travel to take vacations, go out and explore the world and in the process discover themselves. I will close on the note that a world of discovery awaits you at Sterling Holidays.

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things. – Henry Miller

 

**This post is written in collaboration with Sterling Holidays and IndiBlogger. Some images have been taken from pictures shared by IndiBlogger and from Sterling Holidays Media Kit. 

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http://life11.org/2017/12/05/six-simple-ways-of-dealing-with-stress/ http://life11.org/2017/12/05/six-simple-ways-of-dealing-with-stress/#comments Tue, 05 Dec 2017 17:18:55 +0000 http://life11.org/?p=21054 Complete Reading]]>

There are times in our lives when stress gets its grip on us, disturbs our peace of mind, throws us out of gear and impairs our lifestyle. But, then, there are ways by which we can keep stress under control.

Let me introduce you to our guest author Mark, who has graduated from college about a year ago. Having been through some stressful periods there, especially during the finals, he wants to raise awareness about stress and how to handle it. In this post, Mark tells us about stress, how it manifests, the different types of stress, and finally how to deal with it.

dealing with stress

What is stress?

Stress is a natural reaction of our body to a demanding situation. When stressed, the body prepares itself for a quick response and switches to a “fight or flight” mode, In the process, it releases stress hormones and chemicals that prepare the body to cope with the perceived threat. This results in a number of reactions and changes in the body functions, such as an increase in heartbeat, palpitation, nausea, or increase in blood pressure. It is a natural process which explains why we feel different when we are in stressful situations. 

Causes of Stress

Situations that cause stress are called stressors. Stressors can be things as simple as a disruption in your routine, to more complicated things like relocation, financial problems, demands in the work environment, illness, troubled relationships, loss of job, the loss of a loved one, or the lack of social interaction.

Not every stress is bad though. Sometimes, mild bouts of stress actually enhance and improve cognitive brain function. Such stress is called ‘good stress’ or ‘Eustress.’ It manifests itself for a short period and provides the motivation to work towards a goal or to overcome a challenge.

coping with stress

How can you tell if you are too stressed?

Some of the most common symptoms of bad stress are frustration, alienation from friends and family, eating too much (or too little), irritability, fighting with others for no reason, low concentration and inability to focus or even to think straight. Each of these symptoms prevents you from giving your 100% to anything that you do.

There are people who are more resilient to stress than others. However, when a prolonged build-up of stress is not addressed or relieved, it can lead to a breakdown of both physical and mental health, thus decreasing the quality of life.

Also Read: Break the Worry before it breaks you

Stress Management: Good Stress vs Bad Stress

The moment you are feeling jumpy, nervous or anxious you know that you are under stress. Once you understand the kind of stress that you are experiencing it becomes easier to fight stress.

But it is not always easy to tell apart good stress from bad stress.

Since every human being is different, the reaction one has to the stress is different. Meeting new people, going to new places, trying out new things or speaking in a public forum might be interesting and exciting for one person but these could be extremely stressful for another. Similarly, an activity that appears interesting at one point to a person may appear stressful at some other time to the same person.

If an activity or maybe a deadline makes you feel enthused, focussed and motivated, it is probably good stress. If it makes you feel tired, worn out it is probably bad stress.  The key is to eliminate bad stress as much as possible.

Here are some of the things you can do to lower your level of bad stress.

Coping with Stress

  • Try to organize your day (or even two) in advance so you will have control on your time and you will feel better.
  • Find some activities which can relax you. Sports are the most common anti-stress therapies because you spend negative energy. Exercise also helps to reduce stress hormones, improve mood and boost energy.
  • If you are not a fan of sports or exercise, you can try out relaxation techniques like yoga, breathing exercises, meditation or visualization.
  • Find a good book to read or movie to watch, or listen to music, anything that can keep your focus away from the problem.
  • Spend time with your friends and family. I know that it doesn’t seem like a good idea when you are stressed, but it is exactly what you have to do. Reach out to your friends, hang out with them, enjoy a good cup of tea, grab a beer and play on the foosball table. Remember all the crazy things you did when you were in college and I promise you, you will have a good laugh… It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you are having fun and you are not alone with your thoughts.
  • When you are already feeling tense or overwhelmed, you may want to avoid certain social situations or people that will further increase your stress levels,

Remember, stress is around us and we can’t do much by ignoring it, but we can do a lot by releasing stress through different methods which will instantly make you feel better.

Finally, I have summed it up this infographic :

How To Manage Stress How to manage stress

 

Author bio:

This post and infographic about stress have been contributed by Mark, who writes on Foosball Zone

 

If you believe that any picture on the site infringes your copyright, please inform and it will be removed.

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http://life11.org/2017/11/28/pattachitra-this-spectacular-art-of-odisha-will-mesmerize-you/ http://life11.org/2017/11/28/pattachitra-this-spectacular-art-of-odisha-will-mesmerize-you/#comments Tue, 28 Nov 2017 05:08:11 +0000 http://life11.org/?p=20800 Complete Reading]]>

“Art speaks the soul of its culture.” – Abby Willowroot

The folk art forms of India demonstrate the diversity and uniqueness of the different cultures in India. Bringing together the traditional crafts from different parts of the country, an exhibition called ‘Spirit of India’ at the CSMVS Museum in Mumbai showcased the works by nine of the finest award–wining artists, whose traditional art-works have been displayed in several galleries in India and across the world.

Decoration at the entrance

At the exhibition, I had the opportunity to interact with some of the master craftsmen and know more about these wonderful art forms. In this post, I will elaborate upon Pattachitra, one of the oldest and most popular art forms of Odisha.

Pattachitra is the traditional art of Odisha

Pattachitra, is the art of painting on primed cloth (or patta in Sanskrit). This tradition of painting originated around the 5th century in the temples of Konark and Puri. Naturally, the themes of these paintings are inspired by religion and depict the temple of Jagganath, deities of Lord Jagannath and Radha-Krishna, the ten incarnations of Vishnu and stories from the legends of Ramayana, Mahabharata and other folklore.

Pattachitra Jagannath

Pattachitra painting on silk

Ragurajpur: The Hub of Pattachitra

Fourteen km away from Puri, is the village of Raghurajpur, a heritage village which is particularly famous for its Pattachitra art. Residents of this village are Pattachitra artists ( Chitrakar), who are known to produce remarkable paintings and handicrafts, which they display in front of their houses. The village is a major rural tourist destination of the state, known for its heritage tourism. A few other neighbouring villages like Dandasahi and Pipli also produce beautiful handicrafts that find use in home decor or for gifting.

Incidentally, Patachitra traditions also exist in the state of West Bengal, but the art style is different in both states.

To read about Patachitra art of Bengal, browse the link: Patachitra Folk Art of Bengal and Kalighat Paintings

Demonstration of Pattachitra Art

Mr Pranab Narayan Das, the master craftsman at the exhibition is a traditional Pattachitra artist from Dandasahi in Odisha. He started learning Pattachitra art at the age of ten and has won many accolades for his work. Das’s paintings have been exhibited at The American National History Museum in New York.

Sitting at one end of the hall, Das was demonstrating his art. We could see some of his finest works displayed on the wall. A few people sat on the chairs in front of him to watch the demonstration. Taking out a fine brush from a wooden box, Das started painting the outline of a figure on a canvas cloth.

 

Painting Brushes

Pattachitra Art

In between the strokes, he paused to tell us about this distinct art form.

Read: Indian Miniature Paintings: Origin, Styles and use in Home Decor

Natural colours are used for Pattachitra paintings

The colours used in the real paintings are sourced from natural ingredients. The red colour is made from a mineral called hingula, black from castor oil lamp, orange from soil called geru mitti. Blue is from Indigo, white from conch shells, and a stone named harikala is used for yellow. These ingredients are mixed with the gum of Kaitha tree, which is used as a base for making different pigments.

The canvas used for the painting is made by sticking together layers of old dhoti cloth with tamarind paste, lime and water. The art has evolved over time and these paintings are now done on fine Tussar silk, on wooden boxes, and also on the walls as murals. Each painting could take days or even months to complete depending on the degree of intricacy and the size of the work.

Pattachitra painting on silk

 

Distinctive Features of Pattachitra

As we looked at the painting in making, the sharp features, fine details and vivid depicting stark emotional expressions started becoming apparent. It revealed the amount of concentration and craftsmanship required to come up with such paintings and the artist’s perfect mastery over fine line drawings.

Pattachitra artist at work

The distinctive feature of Pattachitra paintings are the floral borders and rich colourful motifs. The colours are restricted to a single tone and shading of colours is a taboo. The Chitrakars maintain strictness in their use of colours and patterns. The art is more about bringing out stark emotions in their paintings through the neat patterns and designs than about realism. This renders a distinct look and feel to the Pattachitra paintings. Though originally the art was practised by men now Pattachitra art is done by women and young girls too.

Also Read: Kantha Work: Traditional craft in contemporary designs

Pattachitra paintings for home decor and as corporate gifts

Pattachitra art finds use in home decor as wall hangings. These are sometimes used and recommended by the interior designers for a classic ethnic style of decoration, The art is nowadays also done on vases, wooden boxes and glass bottles. These paintings and handcrafted art objects also make for excellent corporate gifts.

Pranab Das’s entire family practices Pattachitra. Here are a few more pictures of his exquisite creations.  The elephant with the Pattachitra painting in the picture below was commissioned at the British High Commission.

Pattachitra HanumanFinal touches to pattachitra artPattachitra On Elephant

 

Jagannath_Blessings_NewYear

Elephant Image courtesy: Mr Pranab Das.

References:

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http://life11.org/2017/11/21/how-augmented-reality-entertainment-is-drawing-visitors-to-the-r-city-mall/ http://life11.org/2017/11/21/how-augmented-reality-entertainment-is-drawing-visitors-to-the-r-city-mall/#comments Tue, 21 Nov 2017 05:35:26 +0000 http://life11.org/?p=20711 Complete Reading]]>

You create a universe by perceiving it. ~ Douglas Adams

This Sunday, I was at the RCity Mall to watch ‘Tumhari Sulu‘. Just as we were about to enter the INOX cinema hall, I saw a small crowd in front of a huge screen which was playing the live recording of people standing in front of it. Most of them were looking at the screen and were clicking or recording pictures. I looked up at the screen to see what was going on. On the screen, I could see a person wearing a spacesuit standing among the crowd. When I looked around, there was no such character. I looked at the screen again. This time I saw a pool in front of the crowd. A large polar bear walked over its edge, and it started doing somersaults. This was funny! As the polar bear went out, dolphins popped their heads out of the pool.  The dolphins were followed by a huge dinosaur that stopped to bare its pointed teeth. Gosh! There were some flying Tyrannosauruses too.

Without wasting time, I also took out my phone and started recording the proceedings on the screen. Here, have a look.

Augmented Reality at INOX RCity

The children were going crazy to see all these photo-realistic 3D characters around themselves on the screen. It appeared like we were standing in the middle of the Jurassic Park. Obviously, a number of people stood glued to the screen at any point in time.

Welcome to the world of augmented reality.

INOX has unveiled Asia’s first-ever Augmented Reality (AR) experience in the multiplex at R City in Mumbai.

Augmented Reality

What is Augmented Reality?

Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that enhances our perception of reality by superimposing computer-generated images, video or graphics over our view of the real world. Elements from the virtual combine with the physical world to create an immersive experience that augments people’s perception of the real world. For example, the 3D simulated virtual dinosaurs appeared to be with us in the mall (real world)

Augmented Reality vs Virtual Reality

Augmented Reality is different from Virtual Reality. Whereas, in Virtual Reality, people interact with computer-generated environments that replace their real world, Augmented Reality adds to the present reality rather than replacing it.

Augmented Reality came into the mainstream with Pokemon Go, the game in which people went searching for virtual Pokemon that were placed in real locations.

Use of Augmented Reality technology by Lifestyle brands

With the use of Augmented Reality, furniture companies and other lifestyle brands are helping potential buyers make smarter decisions by allowing them to virtually try out their products at their home or in their own settings. People are more likely to buy something when they see it or try it, even if it is virtual.

Moviegoers can now capture their AR experience as photos or videos and share on social media, which is likely to attract others to the halls.

While going out, we saw a group of people standing at the centre of a podium facing a screen at a kiosk. They were being virtually transported back in time to 350 BC., where they found themselves receiving a warm welcome in the kingdom of Porus, and then saw his army preparing to defend them against Alexander’s army. You would have guessed that it was a promotion campaign for Sony TV’s upcoming magnum opus Porus. This was closer to Virtual Reality.

Such fascinating, immersive experiences in cinema-quality 3D animations through which the audience can get up-close and personal with magnificent characters and creatures are bound to pull them back to the cinema halls and the mall.

Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” – Albert Einstein

 

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Sedentary lifestyle is a global health problem

A sedentary lifestyle can make us a sitting duck for a host of diseases. 

On an average day, it is a norm to sit down for most of the time when we are awake. We are tied to our desks when we are working.  We sit for the meetings. We also sit while commuting. We take the weight off our feet while relaxing at home. We slouch in front of our computer screen. We sit while watching TV.

But, just as standing for too long can get us tired, sitting for prolonged periods ‘can damage our body.

Studies indicate that when we sit for long periods, our blood circulation is constricted. It can cause the blood to clot in the legs and prevent it from effectively flowing to the heart, which is a precursor to cardiovascular problems.

The World Health Organization has identified a sedentary lifestyle as a global health problem and one of the 10 leading causes of death and disability.

World Diabetes Day is observed on 14th November every year

Modern lifestyles characterized by physical inactivity and long sedentary periods, consumption of processed food has been identified as one of the key factors that influence the development of Type2 diabetes.

The increasing occurrences of Diabetes all over the world has posed a growing health challenge. Diabetes is known to be a leading cause of kidney failure, and it also increases the risks of loss of vision, heart attacks, strokes and lower limb amputations. It is a chronic disease characterized by high levels of blood glucose. Diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin (a hormone that regulates blood glucose) or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces.

More than 400 million people are living with diabetes in 2017.

World Diabetes Day

There are two main types of diabetes – Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes do not produce enough insulin on their own and must take injections of insulin to survive. Type 1 can be caused by a genetic disorder. Type 2 diabetes, which comprises 90% of cases, is largely caused by excess body weight, sedentary lifestyle and physical inactivity.

Up to 70% of cases of Type 2 diabetes could be prevented through Lifestyle intervention.

 

Lifestyle changes can help to control Type 2 diabetes

Type2 Diabetes Prevention

A 30-minute increase in moderate physical activity throughout the day has substantial benefits for fitness and long-term health. Every session of physical activity can help improve a person’s ability to use insulin.

Exercise alone may not be not enough!

Only a work out in the morning may not be enough to counter the health risks of sitting for eight hours. Even those who exercise also face an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes if they are otherwise sedentary.

‘Sitting Is the New Smoking.’

This phrase was coined by Dr James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic at Arizona State University. Studies have correlated chronic sitting in the same position with little or no movement for 60-90 minutes or more at a time with an increased risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

To keep insulin working effectively, a regular physical movement is needed.

  Also Read: Resolution to walk my way to a Healthy Lifestyle

Switch between sitting and standing at work

According to Dr Alan Hedge, a professor of ergonomics at Cornell University, the healthiest way to work is by juggling between sitting and standing in your daily schedule

“Sitting all day and standing all day both are bad for you.

The trick is to sit for 20 minutes, stand for eight, then move around and stretch for two minutes,” says Dr Hedge.

Sit and Stand

Here are a few ways in which you can incorporate movement into your daily schedule.

  • Break up your sitting regimen with five-minute walking breaks.
  • Wiggle around in the chair, jiggle your feet and stretch yourself when you are sitting for long. Some studies suggest that small fidgeting movements have health benefits. So, fidgeting, though frowned upon, may help to counteract to some extent the ill effects of excessive sitting.
  • Walk around the house or your workplace a little more.
  • Consider having a few standing desks at the workplace to alternate between standing and sitting.
  • Use a whiteboard or a flipchart instead of a pen and paper or a keyboard.
  • Walk down to speak with a co-worker instead of sending a text, calling or emailing them. Walk while talking on the phone.
  • Take stairs instead of the elevator whenever you can.
  • Track your daily activity with a fitness app or a wearable device.

These activities don’t take up a lot of time, they’re not difficult to do, and will still help you to integrate movement into your daily schedule.

Movement is good for health and lack of movement leads to disease.  ~ Dr MC Shraefel

Finally, here’s a bit of humblebrag. I wrote this piece standing up for half the time. Why don’t you take a short walking break now?

References:

https://www.idf.org/about-diabetes/what-is-diabetes.html

http://www.worlddiabetesday.org/resources/infographics.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21502894

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Come November, and it’s time to greet the winter. To be honest, winter in Mumbai is almost non-existent, but we Mumbaikars rejoice in the slightest dip in the temperature as it gives us the only chance to pull out comforters (if not woollens).

In anticipation of the winter, a few days back, while shopping, I picked up a hand-quilted Kantha comforter to be used as a bedspread or as a blanket (if at all needed). Made of colourful square patches of cloth pieces stitched together it instantly rendered a cheery look to the room.

Kantha SpreadIt took me back to my growing up days when I would see my grandmother cutting out squares from old cloth pieces. She would then stitch the borders, make designs and sew them together to make spreads for the newborns in the family.

Such repurposing of worn out clothes to form patched quilts has been a part of Indian quilting traditions since times immemorial. Let us take a look at the Kantha tradition of patching and quilting in India, the unassuming practice of putting discarded clothes to use, that has evolved into a fashion and style statement.

Origin of Kantha Embroidery in Bengal

Indigenous to Bengal, Kantha embroidery was a household craft of the rural women, who would reuse their worn out sarees to create quilts, spreads and wraps for their family, especially for the newborn babies.  Taking four or five old sarees, they would place them in layers, sew them using a running stitch or a “Kantha stitch” across the length and width for holding the layers together. The resulting piece was then embellished with embroidery depicting folklore, legends, daily activities or religious themes.

Kantha QuiltImage credit: Philadelphia Museum of Art

Kantha

Image credit: http://handeyemagazine.com

Though the origin of Kantha is supposed to go back to a thousand years or more, the earliest mention of Kantha is found in the book “Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita,” which was written almost 500 years ago. The writer says that Chaitanya’s mother Sachi had sent a homemade Kantha to her son through pilgrims. Rabindranath Tagore mentioned in his poem ‘Ebar Phirao Morey’ that when Buddha renounced the world, he left his palace donning a tattered Kantha.

Also Read: Kolkata in the Nineteenth Century

Kantha is essentially a women’s art

The practice of sewing discarded clothes using colourful threads, which were also pulled out of the saree borders infused creativity into thrift, resulting in beautiful embroidered Kantha quilts, spreads and covers. The patterned running stitches across the width of the fabric gave the cloth a rippled look and feel. The designs ranged from simple to intricate, depending on the skill and the interest of the embroiderer.  While Hindu women depicted the theme of daily activities or stories around a central floral image in their design, Muslim women used the combination of geometric and floral designs.

kantha work

Image credit: https://magazineworld.jp

For centuries, the techniques of the craft were passed down from mother to daughter. The craft was majorly seen as a “women’s art” or a means of personal expression for the women, who did the embroidery after finishing their household chores. The finished pieces were used mainly for personal consumption or for gifting to the near and dear ones during auspicious occasions. It was never commissioned by the landlords and no attempts were made to market the products. With the introduction of the mill made textiles in the first half of the twentieth century, slowly, the craft started showing signs of decline.

 

Transformation of Kantha into Contemporary Designs

From the late 1970s, various cultural trusts, and individuals took upon themselves to revive the craft. While this has ensured the continuity of the tradition, it has also brought about economic and social transformations in the life of the women embroiderers.

Kantha embroidered products now find their way into the domestic and overseas markets and are found in boutiques around the world. In the present times, Kantha is not restricted to old layered sarees. Many designers have transformed the traditional Kantha work into contemporary products. The embroidery can be seen on cotton and silk sarees, shawls, home furnishings, covers of the pillows, bedsheets, stoles etc.

Here are some online collections of Kantha work available on Amazon.

Kantha blends together art, colour, and fine craftsmanship, with functional use and eco-conscious fashion. Incorporating Kantha works into our lifestyle is a step towards preserving the craft.

References:

  • https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute
  • http://sos-arsenic.net/lovingbengal/quilt.html
  • http://www.iisd-ngo.org/attachments/File/Hat_-making_process.pdf

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