Veggie delight in Europe 

I always knew that western world is sleeping over diet issue for a long time. But increase in various lifestyle diseases have forced them to revisit the issue of diet all over again. It also means that world is moving towards health and wellness unlike earlier time of fire fighting and not fire prevention.

Increase of vegan diet, cafe and Resturents all across Europe has made it possible for those who were always complaining of non availability of food while traveling. 

Gone are the days when one would need to walk miles to find a vegetarian dish in any decent Resturent in affordable price. 

I found so many such resturants which only serves vegetarian food and doing extremely well. Not fearing of not having enough customers to pay their rentals. 

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A tour to the UN in Geneva 

It was worth spending three hours in UN at Geneva to know what they actually do. Very rightly said by the guide that UN talks in Newyork and actually works in Geneva. 

The long session of their activities and few meetings about environment related issues enlightened me on how I can take forward my work related to uplifting the local women and add more activities to Kenya Vegetarian Club for the next level. Its time to understand what is important and what action is required to do for locals. 

My aim of saving the environment through vegetarian diet is actually taken quite seriously at UN too. I saw quite a few banners talking about it all over the center.

It was a pleasant surprise to see Gandhiji’s statue in the premises, though I had heard about it earlier but saw it today. 


Cultural Diversity

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The world is such a diverse place. It is like a mosaic with different cultures forming a rich and beautiful tapestry. We understand that it is the uniqueness and identities of different groups and societies that make up this wonderful human world. And we need dialogue and exchange of thoughts constantly to remind us that we need to live alongside different people in harmony and peace.  We have to acknowledge this diversity, only then will we be able to accept and learn from others and share what is good in our own. This kind of a dialogue should be there in all our schools and colleges, I feel, only then we can truly call ourselves cultured.

There is so much divisiveness in a society that we have to take this call especially when we live in multi-ethnic, multicultural societies. The Dalai Lama keeps stressing that dialogue is a good thing. Otherwise, we will grow up as separate islands or pockets without mingling with others. As the world is becoming more global and we are moving across continents, this kind of integration and seamlessness is necessary. This is what the meaning of true culture is. When I was researching for the Hindu Culture Studies books which I have authored I found that India from the ancient times had this kind of approach. Vasudaiva kutumbhakam, we always believed that the entire world is my family. We assimilated all cultures, welcomed people of all ethnicities, treated them as our own and that is the true culture of our ancient country. We have to teach our children and our future generations about this. That is the reason why our country holds reverence among the world nations. This pride should be instilled in all our countrymen.

Wherever I travel in this wide world I come across people asking me so many questions as they want to know about what they have read or heard about India and I feel quite happy to talk to them about the greatness of our culture. We don’t realize the priceless treasure that we have inherited. Let us hold on to it and become cultured in the true sense of the word.

International Day of the Family

Every year 15th may is observed as the International Day of the Family. Every country has understood the importance of the family in a person’s life. In fact, a family is a place where everyone unwinds, feels natural and also learns to give and give in. Many companies ask details of a candidate’s family before calling them for interviews. This is because sociologists feel a person with a family is more mature and can handle trying situations with calmness. It is a place for emotional and spiritual growth. We learn to adjust and understand other’s needs and also learn to put other’s feelings and needs before ours. An extended family which includes pets is good for our health and growth. I feel sad when I see people sitting at homes or travelling as families they may be together but not really together. Everybody seems to be lost in a world of gadgets. When we were young we used to chat, joke, tease, play simple games but nowadays the only thing that is a constant companion in everyone’s hand is the mobile.  Maybe that’s why the United Nations decided to observe an exclusive day as day of the family as we need to be reminded of basic things in life.

It recognizes the importance and the role played by families in shaping an individual’s life and has been observing May 15th as the International Day of the Family with a specific theme for each year. This year it is Families, education and well-being. Education is not limited only to school and college. Life teaches us many experiences and what better place than a family to learn? We need to raise awareness among families about the important role they play in promoting early childhood education. The gift of education is a distant dream for many as many impoverished families see their children as potential income generators and send them away for doing menial tasks when in reality they should be enjoying their carefree childhood by going to schools and studying. This whole year the focus will be on making disadvantaged parents around the world understand the importance of education and the need to educate their children.

So I think wherever we can, we can influence and encourage parents to send their children to study and also help them in getting all the information they require. That’s a nice way to see that education for all becomes a reality one day in this world.

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Looking Beyond one’s self

Paropakaaram idam shariram– this is what our scriptures advise us. This body has been given to us only for serving others. In this busy world, it is very difficult to look beyond I-me-mine kind of life that we all live. Still, if we can set aside some time, even a teeny weeny little time to do something for others then it is definitely a good thing. It is in this context that I felt so happy to hear about the initiative of the Asian Foundation to bring together under its umbrella all the organizations that are working for one cause or the other in Kenya. Very often the intention to do something good is always there, but people do not know whom to approach or what to do. Also with so many bogus calls coming everyday asking us to contribute to one cause or the other, it is really difficult to check whether these or genuine or not. So if there is a genuine community outreach program then it helps and motivates people to come together and serve wholeheartedly.

Giving need not be only giving money. People can give time, knowledge or their talents for a cause. The aim is to Transform lives and Communities which was the theme of the Stawisha Maisha Exhibition organized by the Asian Foundation (Kenya). Individuals and organizations serve communities where the poor and downtrodden are the beneficiaries or they can do some work in preserving nature and protecting the environment. So there are different avenues for us to serve depending upon our convenience and aptitude. The selfless and outstanding work done by so many diverse individuals and organisations towards transforming lives and communities was recognised, acknowledged, and showcased in this Exhibition which was held at the Oshwal Centre opposite Nakumatt Ukay.

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Such programs inspire others especially young adults as they are initiated into service initiatives quite early in life. The Rainbow Fish is an award-winning children’s book drawn and written by Marcus Pfister, a Swiss author and translated into English by J. Alison James.

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It tells the story of a beautiful fish which lives in the deep part of the ocean and is very proud of his colourful scales. His scales sparkle and shine as he swims through the ocean – alone. The other fish attempt to befriend him, but he ignores them until one day when a small blue fish approaches him. The small blue fish tells the Rainbow Fish how beautiful his scales are, and asks for one of them. Horrified, the Rainbow Fish refuses and swims on, but feels miserable as he has no friends and is always lonely. A crab directs him to a wise octopus, whose advice is simple:  “give, give and give- give away your scales to the other fish and you will be happy.” After some thought, and a second request from the small blue fish, the Rainbow Fish takes the octopus’s advice and finds friendship and happiness. He now realises the joy of giving. It is only in giving that we can get true happiness. This is the message that is echoed in the Upanishads, dana– give, give and give without restraint.

Why female foeticide

It is again very disheartening to write about this issue as I am still not convinced by the people who give reasons why they want to kill girl child. I started my research on this topic three years back when I was traveling to North India. After visiting couple of cities and speaking to few people, I just realized that no media or NGO is ready to work on the actual reasons. Everyone is in the race of criticizing the Indian government, society, culture and the legal system.

But what I found is that there are two countries living in India, one is old Bharat – with extremely old value system and completely unaware that times have moved on. Another one is modern Bharat, which is very indian by nature but modern lifestyle, latest gazettes and freedom of doing anything we want on the name of liberal, free and independent.

The old Bharat thinks that women specially daughters are the pride of the family and shouldn’t allow her to ruin the name of the family by getting married outside the community or religion since marriage is the only way to throw weight in the neighborhood and family. I respect this old Bharat too which thinks a lot about daughters but they get fanatics when it comes to finding the life partner for her.

I almost had tears in my eyes while studying the cases of honor killing, specially girls, because if they have run away with boys, they have ruined their names, lost opportunity to find suitable boys through family, parents are not ready to keep them back, they are not educated so can’t work, society has mostly disowned the family so less chances of livelihood for parents too, often the boys back out after having all the fun with her, hence death is the only choice.

Why girls run away from the house? The major influence is Bollywood, its movies, its portrayal of heroine getting into the hands of true lover and life partner, modern lifestyle, freedom of doing anything they want, city culture, flashy phones, TV, Camera, glamorous life shown on the TV.

The second major influence is education centers. The colleges and university hardly teach anything related to value based education. It takes five years to teach degree which actually can take two years as the content is only that much. In such cases, what would young minds want to do? what they would think? why students have got all the time except studies during that age? where are they going to go to seek any advice related to life, relationship, health etc.

Why female foeticide increased in last twenty years? The major reason is definitely technology of ultra sound which was suppose to use to find the health and wellbeing of the child while in the womb. But the millions of people used it for all the wrong reasons. It didn’t stop in villages and towns, but it has increased in all the mega cities because of other various reasons.

It is very unfortunate to know that the modern India is indirectly responsible for the female foeticide in the small villages and towns. The flashy lifestyle we boost in cities are killing the women and culture of small villages and its people slowly.  Its time we build the bridge of old and new and improve the city and village in its own way.

I am not going to discuss other reasons like fetish to have baby boys, social and financial responsibility, gender inequality, security, dowry, insecurity etc. We all know they exist.

Hindu Culture & Lifestyle Studies

Shrivedant Foundation has developed a unique course material to help Indians and others to start living a Vedic Hindu Lifestyle to uplift their soul and well-being. We have introduced Courses on Hindu Culture and Lifestyle in three levels – Basic, Intermediate and Advance catering to children, teenagers and young/ mature adults respectively. Each level has a set of 4 books making it 12 books in all. The four subjects are Vedic Lifestyle, Inside India, Indian ancients sciences and Indian Scriptures. The material is designed in such a way that the student understands the elements of vedic lifestyle and gradually grows in the same path, becoming aware of every aspect in the later courses.

If you live outside India follow the links given below;
 
1) Basic Level Course- A set of four books;
 
 
2) Intermediate level course- A set of four books;
 
 
3) Advance level course – A set of four books;
 
 
If you want to order the books in India, please order on following links;
 
1) Basic Level Course – A set of four books;
 
 
2)Intermediate Level Course – A set of four books;
 
 
3) Advance Level Course – A set of four books;
 

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The Veg Safari

The Veg Safari is an attempt to explore the compelling need for the world to turn vegetarian today. The choice to turn wholly vegan or vegetarian is not dictated by moral or ethical concerns alone, nor is it an attempt to convince anyone using religious mumbo jumbo. The book presents many case studies to back its claims and the author Ms. Vaishali Shah who is also the founder of Kenya Vegetarian Club has spent many years studying the effect of the meat industry. Foremost among the many consequences of a flesh based diet is its effect on one’s health. If that is an individual concern, then the dwindling nature of earth’s precious resources is certainly a cause for collective concern of all nations. The poor nations are hit the hardest as land and water which can be used to eradicate hunger and mal nutrition are diverted to grow fodder for cattle which will eventually end up on the lunch plates of only those who can afford it.

Locals can be convinced of the need to move away from animal-based foods if alternate methods can be explained to them. Also cultivating farms and growing more food will improve their own health index as also bring in some revenue and employment. Planting trees, donating seeds, cultivating vegetables are all helpful in improving the health and productivity of the nation. The book raises various pertinent queries and addresses the concerns of all readers and is backed by case studies that help it to connect with the readers easily.

It is a dream to see a healthy, nourished and prosperous Kenya in the not too distant future and this book is an attempt to create that golden future.

The book is available on following websites in different countries.

Follow this link: www.amazon.in/dp/1618135333/ref=aag_m_pw_dp…

Store Page: https://www.educreation.in/…/the-veg-safari-vaishali-shah.h…

 

http://www.amazon.com for different countries.

Culture Curious

Culture is always a fascinating subject. There is something within each of us that yearns to know about history, culture, mythology of a particular region or people. That is why perhaps we see a revival of works of art based on these themes. There is always something new and fresh to add to old themes. Sometimes facts are intertwined with fiction or the writer’s imagination and what comes out is a totally different perspective of what people already know. Amish Tripathi’s Shiva trilogy or the Scion of Ikshvaku, for example, deals with characters we are all familiar with right from our childhood. But what makes these books compelling reading is the way the writer has approached existing themes and given them a fresh twist. They make you want to read every book as soon as it is released. Amish has created that eagerness which was associated with the Harry Potter series. Devdutt Patnaik’s works are also of the same mould. As a mythologist, he uncovers existing stories for a new audience. I feel so happy that through their works our people are rediscovering stories which were lost for some time due to the invasion of He-man, superman, StarWars series. If people in the creative field, like artists, dancers, storytellers, cinema directors delve into such themes associated with culture and heritage, the common man can easily understand these things. But individual sensibilities should be carefully handled. If a positive message comes out through the creative medium, then it is definitely a great effort.

For the sake of the movie Baahubali, the director created new kingdoms, new language also. A set of 750 words with its own grammar rules for this new language kiliki was created. How creative can that be! Coming to think of the effort, the research, the time that has gone into the making of this movie or the research that goes into making of a book with mythology themes- really our country is going ahead in all these areas and there is an audience waiting to lap this up. Which actually is the greatest reward for any creative person!!!!!!

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