Category Archives: Indian Culture

A free ebook


Hi good book readers,

This is a quick post to let you know that one of my books is free on Amazon for five days! So, download your copy now! If you would like to and have time, please leave a review as it helps my book be seen by more people.

Secrets COVER WITH SUBTITLEWhere the Secret Lies – a paranormal romance

A mansion (Haveli). A sealed door. A spirit. And a secret.
Nineteen-year-old Arianna and her family travel from London to India for a lavish wedding. Excitement turns to bewilderment and then curiosity when strange things start happening within the Haveli walls. A sealed door opens and Arianna is given Anjali’s diary, which recounts a romantic adventure that began during the bloody turmoil of partition in 1948.

So begins a paranormal experience that leaves Arianna stunned and demanding answers. Who is Anjali? Why did the door unseal for her? Is there something the spirit wants to show her? What could it possibly be? A haveli. A sealed door. A spirit. And a secret.

Download your copy where you are!

UK Link: Where the Secret Lies

USA Link: Where the Secret Lies

India Link: Where the Secret Lies

Germany link: Where the Secret Lies

France Link: Where the Secret Lies

Australia Link: Where the Secret Lies

Canada Link: Where the Secret Lies

Thank you for downloading!

 

Neerja’s Story


I promised myself I wouldn’t cry.

neerja-bhanot-movie-pic-3I was alright up until the middle of the film. No, this is not a story but a real time event that happened many years ago. I thought I would not be affected by one single girl dying, for during this hijacking, many other people were killed by these terrorists. However, they had no choice but Neerja did.

She chose kindness over self-rescue.  I am talking about Neerja Bhanot who rescued over 300 passengers of Pan Am flight 73 in 1986 when four hijackers took control of the ground-bound airline, and threatened the Pakistani authorities to abide by their demands. The Pakistani authorities did whatever they could, but when the lights went out in the aircraft after 17 hours, the hijackers lost control and began shooting.

Throughout this ordeal, Neerja, who was the Purser of the flight, showed bravery and courage and helped the passengers as much as she was allowed. She hid the American passports so the hijackers couldn’t kill any Americans, and made sure the passengers were safe. In the end, Neerja opened an emergency exit and told the passengers to run. She was the last one to leave the aircraft with three children, when one hijacker turned on them. Neerja shielded the children and took the bullets.

Neerja Bhanot died.

A girl of 23 died to save the lives of three small children.

I salute such a brave girl. 

Researching about this magnificent soul, I came across the Neerja Bhanot Pan Am Trust – Neerja Awards. If you know anyone who is deemed worthy of such an award, please follow the guidelines, for anyone who can show such bravery, deserves recognition.

You will or will not feel the same as I do, but to me, she is an angel who had come to Earth for 23 years to save over 300 precious lives.

 

Quit India – the story behind it.


Quit India – the story behind it.

A thought became a revolution; it took over minds and hearts and it divided a country in two. Once brothers, the people of India turned into enemies when their motherland, India, became India and Pakistan.

But when did the hatred, the resentment begin? When did the British Raj become insufferable?

The British entered India in 1608, concentrating on trading on new land. It was only when the Mughal Empire weakened in 1707 and dissolved that the East India Company took over India in 1764 after the Battle of Buxar.  The East India Company – a British trading company administered power over India and ruled most states aswell as exercising power and control of Indian Military Forces.

There were many battles and disagreements through Indian history, such as the Battle of Buxar but what began the Indian Independence ‘battle’ was the ‘war’ between the British Raj and the Indians in 1857, known as the First War, the Great Rebellion and the Indian Mutiny amongst other such names. This war was a sepoy’s (an Indian soldier) fight that escalated throughout India.

Although this was seen as the catalyst of the First War, other factors contributed to the slow but sure build up of resentment and hate toward the East India Company.

It came to be believed by the sepoys that the East India Company intended to divide faiths and have them convert to Christianity, by force or deception. Land seizure was another British rule, one that forced the fact that if a ruler did not produce a true heir, their land would then be the property of the East India Company. As a result, many kingdoms such as Oudh, Nagpur and Awadh were taken over.

But what started the Mutiny? What was the cause of such an upheaval? The answer – a disregard of the native’s faith.  The beliefs of the Hindu and the Muslim man were ridiculed by the East India Company.

Ignoring the Hindu’s religious devotion and worshipping of the Cow, the ‘mother’ who gives milk, and the Muslim’s revulsion of the Pig, that they see as dirty, lazy and greedy, the East India company ordered their army to manually load ammunition that was greased with the fat of the pig and the cow. Therefore, biting one end of the cartridge before use in a certain rifle was outrageous!

But no one had the nerve to stand up until Mangal Pandey, an infamous sepoy, took lead and braved to voice the injustice of the Company. He brought the cow/pig greased cartridge fact to the forefront to his fellow sepoys.  Anger led to retaliation, with Mangal Pandey leading. He fired the first bullet.

Mangal Pandey with a few others was arrested and sentenced to death by hanging but Pandey was hanged ten days before his sentence date.

After the ‘War’, the East India Company was abolished and the responsibility of India was taken over by the Crown. Many steps were taken later to ensure some peace, some which included the end of attainment of land from stately princes.

After a lull in the Indian subcontinent, in 1915 Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi arrived from South Africa, known as Bapu (father) and Mahatma (the Great One). Gandhi travelled throughout India to ‘see’. He observed the rich and the poor, he witnessed ill treatment from the British Goré (white people) directed at the natives. Racial discrimination and prejudice were high on the list of unforgiveness.

Gandhi realised that India needed to fight back, to win back her rights and to claim her country back from the ‘foreigners’. One day, Gandhi settled on his decision. The European’s injustices and his tolerance to them went just too far. In 1942, he called for the ‘Quit India Movement’. He wanted the British out of India!

Gandhi advertised the Quit India Movement throughout India and voiced clearly that there must be no violence. India’s people embraced the Movement and embarked upon it with passion. Vallabhai Patel – Indian barrister and statesman, Jawaharlal Nehru – Indian politician (who became the first Indian Prime Minister), and Muhammad Ali Jinnah – Muslim lawyer, politician, statesman (founder of Pakistan), united with Gandhi in the Quit India Movement and participated and argued in heated discussions and speeches.

They were all arrested for ‘disturbing the peace’. But this didn’t stop India, who fought back. Nothing was going to stop them now. During the course of the Movement, many riots started along with the damaging of government buildings, derailment of railway lines (which the British Raj had introduced into the country), boycotting of schools and colleges and the throwing away/setting fire of British goods.

Marches, riots and freedom speeches were a regular occurrence; violence (against Gandhi’s pleas to stop) turned murderous.  Indians were arrested or killed – the lathi, a soldier or policeman’s baton was never far away from the protestors.  Many were jailed for a long time or executed.

In 1946, Jinnah proposed a new country – Pakistan. He wanted a Muslim country, to be ruled by a Muslim man, not Hindu. The other leaders were not happy about this and tried reasoning with Jinnah to no avail. Jinnah was adamant.  He declared 16th August 1946 as Direct Action Day which saw colossal rioting and manslaughter across Calcutta.

Tension, anger and fear grew amongst the Hindu and Muslim communities and during October and November 1946, horrendous numbers of massacres, abductions, rape and forced faith conversions of Hindus,  aswell as loot and arson were seen in Noakhali, actioned by the Muslim community.

Gandhi spent four months in Noakhali trying to restore peace and bring the communities together. But his efforts failed. During this time, Partition of India was accepted by the Congress Party.

14th August 1947 – Pakistan was formed.

15th August 1947 – midnight, India was made a Free country;  she gained her independence. The British flag was lowered and the Indian flag rose.

It was Independence Day and both countries rejoiced in their new found Freedom.

Today, in England and in many other countries, Independence Day is celebrated each year on the 14th and 15th of August remembering those Martyrs who sacrificed their lives for us and mourning those Indians whose lives were taken away through riots and massacres; a time which changed lives forever and is still fresh in those minds who lived during those horrendous times.Freedom banner
Today, I am giving my book Freedom of the Monsoon away for free. Just click on the link below. I hope you enjoy the book, and I hope you will be encouraged to leave a review. Thank you!

Amazon UK  Freedom of the Monsoon

Amazon USA Freedom of the Monsoon (USA link)

Amazon India Freedom of the Monsoon (India link)

Abstract 1:

Pooja stared back at her reflection. The bruises were deep purple and her mascara had run, leaving black streaks behind. Taking a wet cloth, she wiped away the signs of abuse from the corner of her mouth. She took out a compact from the antique dresser and fought to cover the bruises with her scalded hands, then she brushed through her already knot free hair. It was then that she stopped crying.

Gingerly, Pooja adorned her hair with a butterfly clip, and stood up to examine herself in the full-length mirror. She looked better now; the bruises didn’t show up as much.

“It’s alright, beta, things will get better, I promise,” she whispered, putting her hands on her stomach. “Your Papa didn’t mean to do it. He is a good man.”

Pooja walked from room to room, overlooking the cleaning of the house. The servants were busy today; Amar was expecting guests. She must try and present herself well…

“Meenakshi, how is the dinner coming along?”

“Very well, Memsahib,” Meenakshi, the chef’s wife assured her.

 Pooja was satisfied, and moved on. Everything must be perfect today. Amar must have no complaints. Pooja passed the drawing room – something wasn’t right. The cigars!

“Laxman!” she called.

“Yes, Memsahib.” Laxman, who overlooked the housework, appeared.

“Laxman, the cigars. Fill the cigarette holder and quickly. Saab must have it full.”

The big clock struck seven. The guests would be here soon with Amar. Pooja steadied her breathing, and went to her bedroom to get changed. Maybe a little more powder will be good. She opened the wardrobe, which contained over two hundred saris, and searched for something suitable. She settled on a pink and silver one. She hoped Amar would approve. Glancing in the mirror, she noticed there was something wrong with her hair. It was the hair-clip. Amar didn’t like butterflies…he would be so angry. Pooja changed it to a flower design – yes, that’s better.

Abstract 2:

Since the news of the partition, Pooja began to worry about her mother even more so. She asked Amar, if she and the children could go and stay for a while, until the anger calmed down. Amar thought it was a very good idea. He went a step further, and arranged for their stay himself. He booked the train tickets and Pooja, and the children, were to arrive at Rajkot in a week’s time. She couldn’t wait.

Pooja thought of her husband now, and her love for him overwhelmed her. Tears pricked her eyes; her Amar had really come through for her. Since her arrival back in Bombay, they had slept in separate beds. She began to trust him a few months later and with his compassion, for her and her family, he showed her that he wasn’t selfish anymore. He showed her his love with every opportunity, and her love for him came back. But she was scared, what if he began drinking again? What if he began to bring women home again? She kept her distance but he didn’t falter. He was patient and kept on loving her.

Amar always brought Pooja a hair garland, a white one; it was her favourite after all. He never forgot.  She fingered the one he tied on her just that morning, and smiled. Today, she will ask him to share her room and her bed again. Today, they will be husband and wife once more.

Pooja leaned back into her chair. It was quiet and serene. Radha was asleep, Veer was at the neighbours, and Kamla and Rani were at the theatre, so she was left with little to do.

Suddenly there was a shout.

“Memsahib!” Ram, the help, appeared at the door. “Memsahib,” his voice was barely audible and his face was ghostly pale. “Please come quick!”

Pooja followed him, her heart thumping wildly. Was it Kamla or Rani? Visions of her own rape came back to her.  Or was it Veer? Had something happened to him? Radha…but she was asleep in her room. She should check.

“Memsahib, where are you going? You have to come now, this way!” Ram pulled Pooja away from Radha’s room.

“Ram, please tell me, what’s happened. Is it one of the children?”

“No, Memsahib,” he said. He led her to the front door.


	

Indian Summers – new Channel 4 period drama


julieI am really looking forward to this new drama – INDIAN SUMMERS, set in India depicting the period of pre- Indian Independence, starring Julie Walters. A subject close to my heart, it will be fascinating and educational in many ways.

My experience in this part of Indian history did not come from my ancestors, neither from my marriage name, Gandhi. But I am proud to have such a famous and respected surname. Mahatma Gandhi was a noble man who only wanted justice for his country, India. He didn’t want violence but love among his fellow friends, brothers and sisters. When I talk about brothers and sisters, I mean the Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, and Christian communities. Only the fight didn’t go as he had planned.

There are many dramas and films made on the subject of a Free India, and I believe many are focused on the political side of the fight. I am hoping Indian Summers is different, and will show the humane or personal side of affairs on both sides: the Indian brown families and the British white families.

FOTM

by Malika Gandhi (author of Freedom of the Monsoon)

 

Personal struggle is the play in five people’s lives. From a village in 1947 India, five individuals struggle against the Quit India movement. Each has their own story to tell.

Rakesh, a brave freedom fighter, determined to make India a better place faces execution by the hands of the British Raj.

Pooja, a girl whose life is altered after a rape attack, marries into an abusive arranged marriage to an older man with children of his own. Plunged into despair, she fights back for a better life. Dev, a troubled young man is disturbed by the decision his brother Rakesh took. Little was he aware the impact it would have on his future. Amit fell in love with the wrong woman, a white Memsahib – but she has secrets, something that would take everything away from him. Sunil, a man in love is forced to grow up when his close ones are faced with their struggles. Can he help them? Will he understand why it is happening?Five lives, five stories. Death and sacrifice is knocking on India’s doors. The British Raj has to go; the Indians must have their country back. Re-live the determination that dwelled in the hearts of the natives as they fought hard and long. Follow the five individuals as they faced fear, love, sacrifice and anger.

Available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0070VV9TI

P.K – a movie controversy


galaxy 2Today I am going to write about a Bollywood movie that caused a lot of controversy in India. The film is called P.K. starring the infamous Aamir Khan.

I have to admit, when I saw bits of promotional reels, I didn’t find it appealing; I found it strange. I hadn’t known that the story was about an alien who arrives to Earth to explore and study its people.

My sister was keen and dragged me with her to see the film and I was skeptical but I thought I would give it a go.

Aamir Khan’s movies are not run-of-the mill, commercial entertainment pieces with scores of songs and dancing that lead to nowhere. They are hand-picked and unique, mostly with a message associated.  P.K is an alien (Aamir Khan), and the name P.K means tipsy. Why was he named P.K?Pk-Poster-Anushka-Sharma-007

The reason behind the name is because the humans thought he was a drunkard who didn’t understand ‘God’ and His ways. The character P.K asked questions based on religion, and ones that no one had an answer to. This confused P.K even more.

The questions were interesting, and made me think about my faith, and the universe with its many galaxies.

Did God make the galaxies or did a galaxy happen all on its own? Do we, as humans, follow our faith blindly? Many arguments o religion have been part of our beliefs for many years, and still, we don’t the answers to many questions thrown at us. Will we ever know?

galaxy 1 The movie questioned religion is many ways. Some were intriguing: is religion created to control? Did we humans create God or did God create us and the world as we see it? P.K points out religion as ‘companies’ and we as their ‘managers.’ This was very interesting.

Do we ‘sell’ our Gods to humanity’s demands for a system of belief and hope, to make our lives better than it already is?

I believe in Spiritualism, and therefore I follow the religion Jainism, which is worshiping the Soul. We look up to our Gods who fasted for our lives. Therefore, I believe in God. I also believe in the creation of the universe and the Big Bang Theory (not the U.S. sitcom J) and evolution – I believe in science. Do the two contradict each other? I don’t know what is correct and what is not, perhaps there is a greater force out there, joining the two together – Science and Faith.

P.K points out that there are many galaxies out there, not just ours. Do other galaxies have a planet like ours where religion plays an important role? I would like to think so.

Faith/religion is a delicate subject and P.K the film, portrays this very well.PK 2

The movie is fun-filled and hilarious to watch in my opinion, with a topic that will touch the hearts of everyone. Yes, it will make some people angry and some may question the ‘wring-doings’ of the faith they believe in, or they may question themselves and their own actions in support of their religion.

I believe that God is One, and we humans have created a division to cater our own needs, hence Companies and their Managers. Religion/faith is not wrong and neither is Science . Listen to what your heart wants to tell you, and embrace all notion.

Don’t forget Love and Happiness but do forget War, and make peace. That is what religion should be about. Perhaps that is what P.K is trying to tell us in the form of an alien.

What do you think? Let’s discuss!

The Indian Bangle


The Indian Bangle

The circle shaped ornament is alluring. It teases the heart to come and take it. It is an accessory which entices us to have it. This is the Indian bangle, loved and worn by all Indians and non-Indians alike. The Bangle messages cluture, style and symbolism. From childhood to adulthood, the bangle is seen as an accessory to be had.

Culture and Beliefs

To wear bangles, was once seen as a symbol, an Indian identity and a neccesity for girls and women to adorn. To Hindus, it is cultural. It is a symbol of marriage, and married women will not leave the home without covering their arms without bangles, normally four to six on each wrist. The colours are usually red and green – colours of marriage. Other popular colours are orange and yellow.

In this picture, the bride to be has worn silver and red to match her outfit. In these  modern times, bangle colours are chosen to match one’s garment and not neccessarily to go by tradition.

In large cities, moving away from village traditions, women have exchanged “traditional” for “modern”, as we have seen in this picture.

Designs and colours from the west have influenced the east and the choice is therfore great. From my own personal experience, I find it hard to choose what kind to buy as all shops are stocked with the most beautiful bangles.

As much as the older generation hold onto their beliefs and traditions, the newer generation seem to be moving away. No longer are married women wearing bangles (traditional or otherwise) as they are no longer wearing sarees but modern, western clothing, perhaps looking at the practicality and/or suitability of what they are wearing.

Society comes in to play here, where is may not seem ‘the now’ to wear Indian bangles in everyday life, such as the elder generation village women did. Times have moved on and so have their thinking.

Indian festivals

The holy Hindu festivals are celebrated with wearing the most beautiful sarees and along with it, the bangles (the image of the Indian woman complete with the Bindi and necklace). Great care is taken when accessorising one’s self for the festival of Navratri, the nine days of dancing and worshipping the nine forms of the Goddess of power – Ma Durga. Today, it is also a social event to show off one’s exquisite sari and accessories.

Other times when Indian bangles are worn is Diwali and many  other religious events. The picture shown here are of women dancing  – called The Garba in Gujarati. They are wearing Rajasthani bangles on their upper arms and wrists whilst performing.

The attire they are wearing is called Chanya Cholis – another Gujarati garment, finishing the look with the silver hair jewellry.

These dances are performed during during the Navratri festival but also at pre-wedding functions – as you see in the opposite picture.

 
 
Types of bangles

There are different types of bangles – plastic, glass, metal, silver (called Chandni) and gold. Plastic bangles are worn in everyday life whereas the others are reserved for special occasions. Glass and metal bangles are matched and mixed with plastic ones, to give the optimum effect on one’s clothing. Gold and silver bangles are a favourite and is usually worn at weddings or other Indian functions.

Colour significance

Bangles come in all colours and shades, perfect for the many beautiful coloured sarees and Indian suits. There is a shade for every garment. In Gujarati weddings, white and red coloured bangles are part of the traditional bridal wear package and is symbolic too as they match with the white sari (given by the bride’s mother’s brother,  or Mama) and the red sari called Gharchoru, is given to the bride by the groom’s mother in acceptance of her entering her new family.

The white bangles are usually made of ivory and the red bangles, either glass or lac.

Designs

Designs vary from simple smooth to intricate. Smooth ones are blended with the intricate ones to give a fabulous effect (see the picture on the right), creating a fine pattern which is admired by all women.

Gold bangles are favoured during important family functions such as ofcourse, weddings and one’s own baby shower and such. Chandni or silver bangles are worn a lot during Navrati. Both are cut and designed intricately.

Bangles are universal and is loved by everyone. Married women and unmarried alike wear it – some for traditional purposes and some because they like it: The Indian Bangle.

The Food of the Indian Subcontinent


India is known for its colourful and aromatic food. Mmm, I can smell those Uttaphas now, the Pav-Bhaji, the Dosas, the Idlis, the Khaman Doklas…is your mouth watering yet?

Let me tell you a little about the origin of these foods – each Indian culture and state have given us the pleasure of tasting these delicious recipes; my personal favourite is the Pav Bhaji and the best ones I have tasted have been in India, ofcourse!

So, we have the South Indian State, the Gujarat, the Bengal, and the Punjab. Let’s start with South India.

South India

South India is best known for foods made of rice, coconuts, milk and plain yoghurt. The Dosa, Idlis and Vaada Pav are just some of the  specialities they create. When it comes to curries, South Indians love their spicy fish too.

Dosa, crispy savory pancake from South India Stock Photo - 10369975     Dish of delicious, mouth-watering

Gujarat

Where would the Gujaratis be without their Khaman Doklas and the Theplas? Dhal, Bhat (Rice), Shak (Sabzi) and Rotli (Roti) is a must for the Gujaratis around the world, which is eaten at lunchtimes or dinnertimes. If you happen to be in the Gujarat, you will mostly see vegetarian foods.

Indian lunch - chapatti, vegetables, sprouts and curries Stock Photo - 10193510     Dhokla,Indian snack Stock Photo - 8725562

Bengal

Bengal are known for their sweets, made with cottage cheese – Rasgulla (spongy cottage cheese balls in syrup) Mishti Doi (sweetened curd) and Sandesh (cottage cheese fudge) are some of the favourite ones. Bengalis like their spicy meat and fish too.

    

Punjab

Punjabi food is tantalising and big, their Parothas, Saag (Sabzi) and rice are staple to their diet. They like to use large amounts of butter or ghee (clarified butter) and cream in their foods, not forgetting ginger, garlic and onion mixed in with mouth watering spices.

   

These are just some of the delicious foods which have been brought to us to taste over the years and will continue.

In Freedom of the Monsoon, you will see many references to Gujarati food and some other Indian foods too, some of which I have mentioned above.

Long Live Indian Food! :0)