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Vasant Panchami: From Legends To Modern Day Celebrations

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Vasant Panchami: From Legends To Modern Day Celebrations

No sooner the festivities of Makar Sankranti die down than we gear up for the next festival on the list—Vasant Panchami, marking the advent of Spring—the “King of seasons”—bringing new life, greenery, end of ignorance. It is celebrated on the 5th day of the bright half of the Hindu luni-solar calendar month of Magha. Mango flowers start blossoming, mustard crop ripens, and nature envelopes itself in hues of vibrant yellow, orange, and green. The Goddess of knowledge, wisdom, arts, music, Saraswati is worshipped on this day to initiate spiritual awakening. Preparations of Holika Dahan and Holi which occur after 40 days of Vasant Panchami, also begin.

Celebrations across Regions and Religions:

Believed to commemorate the birth anniversary of Saraswati, the Goddess is invoked in Bengal, Bihar, and northeast. The deity Deo-Sun is worshipped in Aurangabad, while Lord Shiva, Parvati, and Kamadeva are also worshipped. In Kutch, Gujarat, it is associated with the celebration of love, symbolising Krishna-Radha and Kama-Rati.

Interestingly, the colours of spring are not only restricted to India—we find Bangladesh and Indonesia joining the festivities. Predominantly a Hindu festival, the advent of spring is manifested in other religions as well. In Nepal, Buddhists offer prayers to Manjushri, Goddess of wisdom; in Pakistan, Punjabi Muslims fly kites; Sufi Basant, adopted by the Indian Muslims in the 12th century to mark the grave of the Muslim Sufi Saint Dargah of Nizamuddin Aulia in Delhi, is celebrated; Sikhs engage in kite-flying, inducted by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, founder of the Sikh-empire.

In pre-Partition India, Basant was celebrated by Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs together. Usha Kumar, general-secretary of Anjuman Sair-e-Gul Faroshan, an organisation trying to revive this spirit, says, “Participants walk through Chandni Chowk holding floral pankhas with images of Saraswati and the sacred Kabah, decorated with yellow flowers. They offer a canopy made of marigold and mustard blossom to Saraswati at the Gauri-Shankar Mandir. The procession, accompanied by shehnai and dhol-tasha players, then proceeds to the Nizamuddin Dargah to offer a chaddar made of yellow flowers at the mazaar of Nizamuddin Aulia and Amir Khusro.”

Lesser-known Legends:

  • According to Ramayana, on Vasant Panchami Lord Rama, while in exile, tasted the half-eaten berries offered by the elderly ascetic Shabri.
  • The marriage of Guru Gobind Singh is marked on this day every year in Bilaspur by a fair in Gurudwara Guru_ka_lahore.
  • Popular folklore says renowned poet Kalidasa was a simpleton who attained knowledge and wisdom by the appearance of goddess Saraswati. It is believed that the Goddess bestows similar gifts on her devotees who worship her on this day.
  • Aryans are believed to have crossed the Khyber Pass on this day arriving at the banks of River Saraswati.

Things to do:

Yellow, Saraswati’s favourite colour, is the traditional colour of Vasant. On this day, don your best clothing in the shades of yellow and join your family to welcome spring. Sweet yellow rice, Kesar laddoo, khichdi are prepared and by adding a tinge of saffron or turmeric, these mouth-watering items can become colour-coordinated too. The initiative to promote education for all can be adopted—join hands with NGOs and social workers in distributing books, stationeries, musical instruments to the underprivileged section.

Lastly, this day is widely popular as pre-Valentine’s day, so spend some quality time with your loved ones before the month of love arrives, and make Vasant Panchami special. Do something good for the society this Vasant Panchami, bring out the smile among those underprivileged people.

An ardent literature lover with my mind constantly travelling through far-off unexplored worlds. A lover of languages and cultures--the sweetest language in the world being my mother-tongue. Chasing the Northern Lights...taking one step closer. My pen is my sword. #BongAtHeart

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Lifestyle

Victoria’s Secret’s Fallen Angels: Is VS Collective Little Too Late?

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Victoria Secret's Fallen Angels II News Aur Chai

After years of selling misogynistic fantasies masked as insecurity for women worldwide, Victoria’s Secret (VS), the lingerie and personal care mammoth, has come upon a business-altering decision. Everyone’s aesthetic and sexual fantasy – the VS Angels have fallen.

After multiple accusations of sexual assault, overt body shaming, and transphobia, their refusal to take action against high-profile executives guilty of inappropriate behaviour has led to its downfall. 2018 was possibly the worst year for the company as more body positive and inclusive brands like Aerie, Lively, and Savage X Fenty rose.

The mystical barbie-doll VS Angels, extravagantly clad in wings and bejewelled lingerie, had more or less remained the same in the last three decades since VS started their fashion shows. Models bearing bodies that ‘please’ the male gaze, just-enough-plump and just-enough-toned, were no longer a thing of beauty standards to the common woman. After all, feminists remind us repeatedly that autonomy over lingerie remains with the person who wants to wear it rather than cishet men.

There was a time when lacy push-ups and the thick underwear band labelled PINK was found in the boudoir drawer of every female teenager and adult alike. No one would be caught dead wearing something else. But in a mere decade, the tables have turned as no one would dare step inside the walls of the magnum opus of male sexual fantasy. It’s safe to say that VS brought this tragedy upon itself with its sluggish attitude toward the changing social norms of body positivity and culture inclusivity.

But recently, VS announced a defining move – one which may have come a little too late but alas, it came. Gone were the glamorous, airbrushed, and pushed-up fantasies of the Angels. Instead came in the Victoria’s Secret Collective. This high-profile seven-member board is a chance for VS to redeem its reputation and right its past wrongs. The septet consists of the pink-haired member of the American National Women’s Soccer team, Megan Rapinoe, Actor, entrepreneur, and activist Priyanka Chopra Jonas, inclusivity activist and model Paloma Elsesser, transgender model-actor Valentina Sampaio, Sino-American world champion skier Eileen Gu, model and South Sudanese-Australian model Adut Akech, and English photographer and podcast host Amanda de Cadanet.

This board is a shot at inclusivity and is reflective of real-life women as the members hail from different cultures, are from different age groups, and in some way or another, are more relatable to the common woman. This diverse set of ambassadors will spearhead this new campaign. They will be alternatively seen as an essential part of VS’s revamped brand image, including their advertisements and social media. VS’s new move is indeed a step toward becoming more like their well-off competitors, who are idealistically anti-Victoria’s Secret.

What’s notable is that this decision of VS is not just superficial to woo their consumer base but is one aimed at its very corporate structure. Billionaire Leslie Wexner, the founder of VS’s parent company L Brands, and Ed Razek, a top executive of the said company, will not be a part of the revamped identity of the lingerie giant. Razek and Wexner have been accused multiple times of inappropriate conduct, sexual advances and remarks, and exploitation of models.

VS has made it clear that the two will not be associated with VS anymore. The company will split from L Brands and subsequently from the toiletry giant Bath & Body Works to become an independent entity. VS will now have top-tier decisions taken by more women executives as Martha Pease, the new Chief Marketing Officer, heads the Collective and plans on having an all-women committee.

A complete upheaval of the VS stores will see the signature Angels’ posters stripped off of their walls, TVs, websites, and social media. Mannequins and models will exhibit a diverse range of bodies and products.

In an interview with The New York Times, Martin Waters, a former executive of VS international, said, “When the world was changing, we were too slow to respond. We needed to stop being about what men want and to be about what women want.”

In a recent attempt to foreshadow the company’s announcement of becoming “what women want”, VS launched a Mothers’ Day campaign. Displaying pregnant women as their models was a first for the company. Apparently, for VS, motherhood was not sexy enough till now.

The VS collective board will promote the upcoming product releases such as maternity wear along with the same old thongs and lacy bras. Other TBA products will see a collaboration between Chopra Jonas and Rapinoe.

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Lifestyle

5 Healthy Smoothies You Need To Try This Summer!

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Summers are officially here and it’s really important to stay hydrated to keep going in this scorching weather. You can use a gamut of seasonal fruits to make smoothies. Smoothie is a fresh fruit pureed with milk, yoghurt, or ice cream to make a thick, smooth drink. 

Choose from blueberry, mango, peanut butter oatmeal, mint chocolate chip, pineapple, or any other fruit of your choice, and enjoy a nutritious and tasty smoothie in the comfort of your own home. Try these refreshing healthy smoothies to replenish and refresh your body. 

Here is a list of healthy smoothies to try this summer:

Blueberry Smoothie

Blueberry Smoothie is a simple and succulent way to begin your morning! Yoghurt, frozen blueberries, and banana are blended into a frosty drink to make this rich and refreshing blueberry smoothie. The ingredients used in this smoothie are both tasty and nutritious

 Prep time: 10 minutes

Servings: 1

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup frozen blueberries
  • ½ cup frozen bananas
  • ½ cup almond milk
  • ½ cup vanilla Greek yoghurt
  • ½ cup ice cubes

Mango Smoothie

What are summers if they aren’t brimming with mangoes? Make this delicious mango smoothie for an instant energy boost! Frozen banana, diced mangoes, and yoghurt are all good to have on hand. In a blender, mix all of the ingredients and blend until it’s smooth. It’s as easy as that!

 Prep time: 5 minutes

Servings: 1

Ingredients: 

  • 2 cups frozen or fresh diced mango 
  • 1 cup frozen banana 
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup yoghurt
  • ½ cup of ice cubes

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Smoothie

This recipe for Peanut butter Oatmeal Smoothie is packed with frozen bananas, creamy peanut butter, yoghurt, oats, and honey. It only takes a few minutes to prepare this thick and creamy drink; is sure to keep you full.

Prep time: 5 minutes

Servings: 1

Ingredients: 

  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 3 frozen bananas
  • ¼cup +1 tablespoon of Greek yoghurt
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup oats
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey

 Mint Chocolate Chip Smoothie

Whip up this beautiful blend of soothing mint chocolate chip smoothie recipe for an instant energy boost! Add spinach, avocado, frozen banana, milk, and fresh mint leaves to your blender and blend until it’s smooth. Garnish with fresh mint leaves and chocolate chips.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Servings: 1

Ingredients: 

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 cup spinach
  • ¼ small sized avocado
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 25-30 mint leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chocolate chips
  • ½ cup crushed ice

 Pineapple Smoothie

This pineapple smoothie is a tropical mixture. Combine your pineapple, banana, and Greek yoghurt in a blender and blend until smooth and fluffy. Serve and enjoy this quick, nutritious, and refreshing drink!

Prep time: 5 minutes

Servings: 1

Ingredients: 

  • ½ cup fresh diced pineapple
  • ½ sliced banana
  • ½ cup vanilla Greek yoghurt
  • 1 cup crushed ice

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Health

Skin Care Tips To Survive Summers In India

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Skin Care in Summer in India | News Aur Chai

The summer heat in India can be harsh on your skin if you don’t take proper care of it. The blistering heat, dust, and pollution take away the natural shine and, in some cases, invite infections. To avoid all of these annoyances and to keep your skin glowing as it did before, try these summer skincare tips:

Clothing

Tight clothing during hot weather will irritate the skin and make sweaty areas of the body itch even more. To combat the heat, cotton and lighter fabrics are vital. Try wearing breathable fabrics.

Diet

Applying creams is not enough; you need to enrich your skin properly to keep it glowing. Juicy fruits and vegetables should be consumed in large quantities as they are high in nutrients and antioxidants that protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. Try consuming cooling or seasonal fruits and vegetables.

Exercise

Exercise increases blood flow that ensures that oxygen reaches the skin cells. Any tissue damage (skin burn, etc) is repaired by the body.

Exfoliation

It is a process that helps in the removal of dead skin cells from the surface of the skin. Exfoliate your skin regularly for healthy and glowing skin. You can simply use a washcloth to gently scrub your skin. Try this process at least once a week.

Eyes and Lips

Protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses while stepping out in the sun. Protect your lips by applying a lip balm.

Feet

It is important to take care of your feet as well. Give yourself a manicure; remove the dead and dry skin cells with a scrub and moisturize them later.

Minimal Makeup

Go easy on make-up during summers; avoid anything heavy it’s most likely to melt off the minute you step out in the sweltering summer heat. When it comes to makeup during the summers, keep it simple as the skin needs to breathe.

Sunscreen

Summertime necessitates the use of sunscreen. It is important to safeguard yourself from tanning and skin burns. It also helps in protecting our skin from harmful UV rays. You should apply sunscreen at least twice a day. It is a must-have item, if you don’t have one; you should invest in sunscreen.

Stay Hydrated

It is extremely important to stay hydrated; especially during hot weather. Sweat causes us to lose a lot of our body fluids. Our bodies are severely harmed when the levels of body fluids drop. Staying hydrated also helps to flush out toxins from the body and feel refreshed. Carry a bottle of water everywhere you go, set reminders to drink water throughout the day so that you don’t forget to hydrate yourself!

Update your skincare products

It is very important to update your skincare products during summertime. During winters we need stronger creams to fight the cold and dry weather, but in the summer, we need hydrating products. Buy a moisturizer that is lightweight and non-greasy.

 Use natural remedies

Skincare home remedies are useful as they make your skin glow naturally without causing any harm. Applying Aloe Vera gel, Cucumber mask, Coconut oil, Honey mask, Lemon mask, Orange Peel mask, Turmeric paste are few remedies that soothe your skin during summer. 

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