Destination: China

Destiantion China

“FONG-SUM!”

Come visit China as Gimi takes us on her travels and we learn what Ana & Emily miss about living in China!

“UMH GOI SAI!”

“CHI-SIN!”

Whynn Resort and Casino, Macau - Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

Whynn Resort and Casino, Macau – Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

Areas of the country I visited:

G: Hong Kong, Hainan, Sichuan province (in particular Chongqing), Guizhou province, Yangtze river for 2 weeks.

E: Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, Hai Nan, Macau, Xi An, Harbin, Tibet, Xin Jiang.

A: Lived in Macau.

Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

Favourite monument/place that I went:

G: Three Gorges area of Yangtze river.

E: Kashgar (in xin jiang).

A: My favourite palces are: Porto Interior, Largo dos três candeeiros – A more traditional part of Macau, untouched by casinos and the modern world. You can find quirky shops with handmade artifacts and unique items of clothing and decorations.

Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

Café Esplanada at the Wynn Resort and Casino is one of my favourite places to unwind and enjoy afternoon tea. Caravela is a Portuguese restaurant/cafe in the center of Macau, staff and owners are really friendly and you get to experience a bit of Portuguese cuisine in China!

Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

Describe the country in 3 words:

G: Contrasting, cultural, colourful.

E: Exciting, international, diverse.

A: Dynamic, multicultural, and exciting.

Café Esplanada - Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

Café Esplanada – Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

I wasn’t expecting to find:

G: Boiled chicken.

E: So many western shops.

A: The Batmobile!

The Batmobile - Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

The Batmobile – Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

My favourite part of the culture was:

G: The beautiful paintings and scriptures.

E: The language.

A: Learning about the different superstitions they had. For instance, for the first 15 days after the Chinese New year, people don’t cut their hair because ‘hair’ is a homophone for ‘prosperity’ so they believe they might be ‘cutting’ their wealth away!

Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

I would describe the people as:

G:  Curious and friendly.

E: Talkative/friendly.

A: Very friendly, warm and hard-working.

Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

I was surprised by:

G: I was surprised that people would want to take pictures with me because I seemed to be the only white person they had ever seen!

E: How few old areas of beijing are left.

DSC01283

Something I miss about the country now:

E: The food.

A: I miss everything about it, the food, the people, the places!

Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

Any (new) words/phrases of the native language I picked up:

G: I learnt some symbols like entrance and exit, but I can’t replicate them on this keyboard!

E: Chu zu che. (Mandarin)

A: Relax, don’t worry-‘Fong sum’, Thank you – ‘umh goi sai’, You’re crazy! –‘Chi-sin’ (Cantonese)

N.B. Standard Chinese, also known as Putonghua, the official language of the People’s Republic of China (mainland China) and the Republic of China (Taiwan) where it is known as. Mandarin Chinese is the branch of Chinese dialects which includes the dialect of Beijing. The official languages for Macau are Portuguese & Cantonese.

Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

Strange or memorable experience:

E: being asked to take pictures with Chinese strangers!

Would you go back?

G: Yes, but to different places, not Chongqing! It was too big and claustrophobic.

E: Yes!

A: I will most definitely be going back.

 Picture 19

A misconception people may have of the country:

G: It is so diverse, people think China is all the same, but it really depends on where you go within China.

E: It’s not as chaotic as people may think.

A: Macau isn’t just about gambling; it has a long and rich history. The Portuguese occupied Macau from the mid 1600 until 1999 so there is a heavy European influence and feel to the city. If history interests you, make sure you visit the many museums and exhibitions on going. It is also a very multicultural city, you get all nationalities and religions living together in harmony so you get to experience the best of many cultures!

Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

One thing the guide books don’t tell you:

E: Taxis are cheaper in Beijing, but don’t seem to like to stop for potential customers.

A: Traveling by bus in Macau is next to impossible because the busses are always so full of people. You are better off walking, Macau is a small city anyway.

Picture 163

Do not be afraid to stand your ground in queues, people will try to cut in front of you!

Make sure you don’t just visit the hotels/ casinos or the tourist parts. As tempting as it is, at the end of the day you will miss out on all the culture and history the city has to offer.

Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

Other advice I would give to those planning a visit:

G: Take lots of hand sanitizer!

E: Fly out with an empty suitcase!

A: If your stay is short don’t worry, you can experience Macau easily as it is a small city. If you plan it right, you might even be able to visit Hong Kong (which is a 1 hour boat ride away) and Zuhai (mainland China). Make sure you get a visa ahead of time if you want to visit Zuhai though as it takes a couple of days to issue. Overall have fun and make sure you visit the Macau tower for the world’s highest bungee jump!

Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

Photo by Ana Magarida Morais

If you liked this post, you may also like to read:

Destination: India, Destination: Vietnam, Destination: Bangladesh and Destination: Japan.

Links

Follow The Asian Destination on Twitter: @theasiand

‘Like’ us on Facebook: facebook.com/theasiandestination

Follow us on Instagram: @theasiandestination

 

Destination: Inspiration (105) 15th April 2013

Happy Bengali New Year!

 

“Notun Asha, Notun Rang, 

Notun Sure, Notun Gaan, 

Notun Usha, Notun Alo,

Notun ‘bochor’, Katuk Bhalo!

Shubo Noboborsho!”

Today is ‘Poila Boishak’ or the start of the Bengali New Year. 

So today:
Have new hope (notun asha) & see new light (notun alo).
Always know you can change your path at any point, change your tune for a new one (notun sure) and alter your song (notun gaan).
Every day can be seen as a new chance, ‘a new year’ (notun bocchor).
May it be enjoyed well (katuk bhalo)!
 
If you liked this post, you may also like:

Chai & Chats with: Roshni ChuganiChai & Chats with: Pavan Ahluwalia and Chai & Chats with: Malika Garrett. 

Destination: India and Destination: Bangladesh from Destination: Travel

Happy Durga Puja and Happy Kali Puja & Diwali from Destination: Celebration

The Asian Destination Links

Follow The Asian Destination on Twitter: @theasiand

‘Like’ us on Facebook: facebook.com/theasiandestination

Follow us on Instagram: @theasiandestination

Destination: Vietnam

Destination: Vietnam  Read all about Luke (L), Oliver (O) and Alex’s (A) Vietnamese adventures, as they share their stories with The Asian Destination. From seeing Ho Chi Minh’s embalmed body in Hanoi, tasting snake and scorpion, to helping a taxi driver in Hanoi cure his hiccups – they have done it all in Vietnam.

 Areas of the country I visited:

O: -South Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon); Nha Trang (beach resort)
-Central Vietnam: Hoi An; Hue and surrounding areas in Thua Thien-Hue Province; Quang Binh Province (including Dong Hoi and Phong Nha Caves); Quang Tri Province (Dong Ha)
-North Vietnam: Hanoi; Ha Long Bay

L: Ho Chi Minh City, Hue, Ha Noi, Ha Long Bay, Hoi An, Hai Van Pass

A: Most parts of Vietnam, from South to North

Photo: Luke Keller

Hue – Photo: Luke Keller

I stayed/travelled around for:

O: 6 weeks (and then for a week almost a year later).

L: 2 months (ish).

A: 6 weeks (twice).

Ho Chi Minh City - Photo: Luke Keller

Ho Chi Minh City – Photo: Luke Keller

Favourite monument/place that I went:

O: Ha Long Bay, but Hue Province had some incredible scenery too. War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh were also very stark and harrowing.

L: Bike trip from Hue over Hai Van Pass to Hoi An.

A: The ancient temples of Angkor Wat.

Photo: Oliver Reynolds

Photo: Oliver Reynolds

Describe Vietnam in 3 words:

O: Traffic, mountains, busy.

L: Bustling, different, vibrant.

A: Bustling, diverse, and serene.

P1020777

I wasn’t expecting to find…

O: Such a variety of food (e.g. dog, cat, snake, scorpion, monkey brain).

L: Oreos.

A: So many friendly people.

Photo: Oliver Reynolds

Photo: Oliver Reynolds

My favourite part of the culture was:

O: The people in central Vietnam (very friendly and helpful); also the rich history of fending off foreign invaders (Chinese, French, Americans, Cambodians).

L: The chaos of the roads!

A: The belief aspect of the culture was very intriguing to me. There is a subtle tone of Buddhism that is noticeable in the daily lifestyle such as ceremonies to honour their ancestors, shrines by every house, and bimonthly moon celebrations on the streets.

Hoi An - Photo: Luke Keller

Hoi An – Photo: Luke Keller

I would describe the people as:

O: Both wily and kind.

L: Proud.

A: Sincere, affable, and welcoming.

Photo: Luke Keller

Photo: Luke Keller

Photo: Oliver Reynolds

Photo: Oliver Reynolds

I was surprised by: 

O:
-How disgusting scorpion tasted/how nice snake was.
-The spectacular landscapes (some of the most impressive out of anywhere I went in South East Asia).
-Also how much litter and rubbish there was just dumped in some beautiful parts of countryside – a complete lack of environmental concern!
-How sprawled the cities are, just kind of merging with other towns through vast extensions of shacks and basic accommodation along the roadside; it isn’t clear where one city/town ends and another begins.
-How much poorer people who live on the outskirts are.
-How manic the driving is and how difficult it is to cross the road.

L: The amount of pro-American apparel.

A: How diverse the country can be. The people, the geography, climate, culture and even the language was diverse from the North to the South – even from city to city!

Ha Long Bay - Photo: Luke Keller

Ha Long Bay – Photo: Luke Keller

Something I miss about Vietnam now:

O: The weather, cycling around, the food!

L: The coffee.

A: The amazing iced coffee and coffee bars.

Pho Bo - Photo: Luke Keller

Pho Bo – Photo: Luke Keller

Any words of the native language I picked up:

O: O choi oi (Oh my heavens); o dat qua (too expensive); chi oi! (sister (girl older than you), come here); dep qua (very pretty); com cay qua (not too spicy); ‘mot, hay, ba, yo!’ (one, two, three drink); nam qua (too hot).

L: Too many to name and couldn’t spell them if I tried!!

A: Oi choi oi! (Oh my heavens).

Photo: Luke Keller

Photo: Luke Keller

Strange or memorable experience: 
O:
-Man on motorbike who followed me home when I was cycling asking if he could…’service me’
-Eating dog, scorpion, snake, monkey wine, eel.
-Seeing Ho Chi Minh’s embalmed dead body in Hanoi.
-Incredibly beautiful view on beach at Nha Trang (like tropical paradise stereotype)
-Very long and arduous night buses
-Trying to help a taxi driver in Hanoi cure his hiccups (“breathe in your carbon dioxide” I said; he didn’t take my advice)

L: One of the most memorable experiences for me was going with the children to the beach.

A: Drinking snake vodka shots, and monkey wine!

Photo: Luke Keller

Photo: Luke Keller

One thing the guide books don’t tell you:

O: Dogs and cats are horrible so try and avoid them; they’re not usually treated like pets in Vietnam.

L: Avoid Ha Noi.

A: Always give money and receive money with both hands.

Photo: Luke Keller

Photo: Luke Keller

Other advice I would give to those planning a trip to Vietnam…
L: If you go to Ha Long Bay, don’t go on a weekend.

A:

-Take things slow and expect travels to take longer than expected.

-If you plan to go for 2 weeks, double it to 4 weeks, if you plan on going to 4 countries consider exploring 2 thoroughly instead. It’s better to spend more time in one place than to rush through and not get a feel for the country/ culture.

Photo: Oliver Reynolds

Photo: Oliver Reynolds

Would you go back?

O: Yes, definitely.

L: One way flight booked February 12th !

A: Already have! But maybe again someday.

Photo: Luke Keller

Photo: Luke Keller

Luke, Oliver and Alex not only travelled around Vietnam, they were also involved in volunteering for the charity, Hue Help, in the summers of 2011 and 2012. Hue Help focuses on improving the health, resources and future prospects of disadvantaged children in central Vietnam.

Photo: Luke Keller

Photo: Luke Keller

For more Information on Hue Help: www.huehelp.org

Follow The Asian Destination on Twitter: @theasiand &‘Like’ us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/theasiandestination

If you liked this post, you may also like to read: Destination: India and Destination: Bangladesh.

Happy New Year!

2013 is almost here and promises to bring new ideas & features for The Asian Destination.

First of all, we are excited to be talking to Roshni Chugani on her new business ventures later in January, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, The Asian Destination is launching ‘Destination: Inspiration’ designed to add some positivity to your day.

Hope you’ve all been enjoying the festive season & a very Happy New Year!

Best wishes for the year ahead,
The Asian Destination

Destination: India

Visiting family & relatives, trekking expeditions & backpacking…
– Read about 5 different takes on India as The Asian Destination asks 5 different individuals, Sim, Katy, Zara, Lauren and Ashley about their unique Indian adventures.

Places Visited & Duration of Stay:
Sim (S): Punjab and Haryana for 2 weeks over 3 different years.
Katy (K): Travelled around for 1 month visiting: Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Goa.
Lauren (L): Delhi & then I went trekking in the Himalayas for a month.
Zara (Z): Travelled to Leh in the north of India, flew into Delhi. I stayed and travelled around for 1 month.
Ashley (A): Travelled around for 2 months visiting: Delhi, Pushkar, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Agra, Varanasi and Goa.

Favourite Destination:
S: The land on our farm.
K: Lotus temple in Delhi, cycling around Benaras University in Varanasi, also boat trips in Varanasi during a puja and on Lake Pichola in Udaipur.
L: EVERYWHERE. Except maybe Delhi – I wasn’t a fan.
Z: Taj Mahal and also the Lotus Temple, shaped like a real lotus in Delhi, was amazing.
A: Favourite monument: Taj Mahal; Favourite Place: Varanasi.

Describe India in 3 words:
K: Noisy, Vibrant, Dreamlike/Hypnotic/Mesmerizing – (the feeling when I would walk around temples/old building/gardens and just feel a bit light-headed).
Z: Colourful, Varied and Spiritual.
A: Overwhelming, Alive and HOT!

I wasn’t expecting to find…
S: McDonalds!
K: Quite so many cows!
L: Such a stark difference between rich and poor. It’s not something you get in England really. Also the difference between the cities and the countryside; the variety of landscapes makes you feel like you’re in more than just one country.
A: People outside fanning cows in 50 degrees!

My favourite part of the culture was:
S: It was relaxed, no clocks in the village.
K: The temples, the food, the colours (of the clothes, especially the lovely scarves!) Also the flowers everywhere.
L: The craziness, you don’t get it anywhere else.
Z: In Leh the people were so spiritual. We visited monks up in the mountains and I cannot believe how peaceful they were and so removed from the chaos of the world – amazing people. Also found the Buddhist religion very interesting to explore and it really opened my eyes to something completely new.
A: I loved the fact that the culture is still very traditional and unique.

I would describe the people as…
S: Interesting drivers!
K: Friendly (or maybe ‘insistent’ in Agra!)
L: Really warm, and willing to help out.
Z: Friendly, curious and generous.
A: Warm, curious and very talkative!

I was surprised by…
S: How you could be in an area of extreme wealth and 30 seconds away, extreme poverty.
K: How kind the people were – we stayed with some distant family friends (I had never met) and they were so generous and welcoming to us. When we later went to Mumbai we were put in touch with some of their family there who then hosted us. This second family weren’t that wealthy, so their kindness to complete strangers was particularly touching.
L: Everything! How hot, dusty, smelly, manic it was. I was warned – I just didn’t believe it!
Z: The fact they eat spicy food for breakfast!

Something I miss about India now:
S: Playing cricket in the village.
K: Frequently being compared to an angel/Bollywood star/’Britney Spears’. The way people often seemed to speak in quotes/catch-phrases and there seemed to be lots of inspirational sayings around.
L: The smell, wierdly. My tent. The people I went with. My trip guides – we made great friends.
Z: The peacefulness of the Himalayas made it feel like a different world.
A: I miss the energy and how noisy and chaotic everything is. And how you never knew what was going to happen each day.

Any words of hindi/other Indian language I picked up:

K: I have now forgotten it all except for my Indian name, Tara Raj !(‘Tara’ meaning Star, ‘Raj’ meaning, Royalty)
L: Challo (Meaning, ‘let’s go!’) was heavily overused during my trip
Z: Namaste (Formal greeting/Hello)

Strange or memorable experience:
S: The trains, on time to the dot, why can’t we have that here?
K: Being told by our first tuk tuk drivers that, “To drive in India you need 3 things: your horn, your brake and your luck”. Encouraging!
L: The road signs along the way – ‘Don’t be a gama in the land of lama’? Whaaaat?! ‘After drinking whisky driving is risky’ – Very helpful stuff…!
Z: Getting abducted in a tuk tuk in Dehli. The driver thought it would be nice to take us to his family’s shop in a back street and tried to make us buy stuff!
A: So many but one that springs to mind is an evening spent driving a tuk-tuk!
(‘tuk tuk’ – also called ‘Autos’ short for Autorickshaws in India)

A misconception people may have of the country:
Z: That all areas are the same. The difference between Leh, up in the mountains and Delhi was unbelievable.

One thing the guide books don’t tell you:
K: The staring.
L: The smell, there’s nothing like it. And they don’t tell you about the Indian fondness for horns.
Z: You will never EVER be able to imagine what Delhi is like. I found it very difficult to stay there. It was absolute chaos and the poverty is unimaginable.

Other advice I would give to those planning a trip to India:
S: Go by train, you see a lot more.
K:
1. Telling your bank that you are going far away and may use your card still does not guarantee it’ll actually work, so best to take some sterling (more than £10 as it turns out I did).
2. Never go for a room without A/C!
3. Always settle tuk tuk prices in advance even if they misleadingly say you can pay “whatever you like”..this will ultimately not be the case.
4. Take water purification tablets with you.
L:
1. You’re going to get ill. Plan for that.
2. Gaffa tape is essential – you can fix anything with it, including tents.
3. Cake – however good it looks, it may not be!
A:
1. Don’t go in May unless you like being extremely hot!
2. Spend as much time as possible out on the streets talking with the locals and 3. Don’t be put off by long train journeys.. it’s the ultimate Indian experience!

Z:
Take a step back and take advantage of what the country has to offer you. I learnt so much over just a month. You really do take things for granted in the UK. It also teaches you that you don’t have to have money to be happy.

Would you go back?
S: Maybe, to Goa.
K: Definitely, perhaps to different places as the more places we visited and people we met the longer our ‘to visit’ list grew!
L: Yes, definitely.
Z: Yes but I want to explore different areas.
A: In a heartbeat!

If you liked this, you may also like read:

Destination: Bangladesh

Destination: Vietnam

Happy Durga Puja 2012

Happy Kali Puja & Diwali 2012

Celebrate being ‘Unique’

Chai & Chats with Roshni Chugani

A Slice of Asia – Coming Soon!

Thinking of visiting Asia?

The Asian Destination will be sharing some essential travel tips from those that have experienced the culture, food and people first hand.

Stay tuned!

Happy Diwali & Kali Puja!

It’s a busy week in the Hindu calendar…

 

Monday 12th November – Kali Choudas (Naruka Chaturdashi)
Goddess Kali is worshipped on this day (and also on Kali Puja which coincides with Diwali). Kali Choudas falls midway through the Ashwin month and celebrates the day Goddess Kali, associated with empowerment or shakti, slayed the demon king, Narakasura. The killing of Narakasura symbolizes the banishing of apathy thus allowing light, hope and positivity to replace the darkness in our lives.

In addition to rituals and prayers, special sweet offerings are made. In preparation for Diwali, 14 lamps or diyas are lit to welcome home Lord Rama after his 14 years spent in exile.

Tuesday 13th November – Diwali & Kali Puja

Diwali, or Deepavali, is the Hindu festival of lights. On this day, Lord Rama defeated the demon Ravana, thus representing a victorious battle of good overcoming evil. After 14 years in exile, Lord Rama returned to his Kingdom of Ayodhya and was met by rows of diyas to celebrate his arrival.

Diwali today, marks a time to decorate homes with diyas and consciously welcome new light, love & prosperity into our lives as the new Hindu year approaches (this year the Hindu New Year starts on Wednesday 14th November). Pujas are performed and both Lord Ganesha, God of Wisdom and Lakshmi, Goddess of good fortune are worshipped. Friends and family celebrate with food and fireworks, flowers and rangoli patterns.

Thursday 15th November – Bhai Phota (Bhai Dhooj in Northern India, Bhai Tika in Nepal)

Bhai Phota (or Bhai Fota) is celebrated in Bengal, traditionally 2 days after Kali Puja & Diwali and marks the sibling bond between brothers and sisters. With the ring finger on their left hand, girls mark their brother’s forehead with a mixture sandalwood paste and curd whilst reciting a traditional rhyme three times. In doing so, they pray for the safety of their brother, his well being and his success.

With every great festival comes an opportunity to feast and Bhai Phota is no different! Breakfast on Bhai Phota usually consists of Luchis (buttery bread) and traditional Bengali sweets. Lunch includes Bengali classics such as Hilsa fish and an assortment of the traditional sweets.

So this week, whether you are celebrating any of the above or not – take a moment to listen out for the fireworks (if you were wondering why there were people still celebrating Guy Fawkes’ now you know!) the festivities, and enjoy time spent with friends and family!

Diwali & Kali Puja – Coming Soon

Remember, remember the 5th of November. Happy Guy Fawkes!
 
From darkness into light…8 days until Diwali and Kali puja!

Smile – It’s The Weekend!

 
If only my journeys were as entertaining as this… Have a great weekend!

Durga Puja 2012

Whether you are well accustomed to Durga Puja or have been newly introduced to it (either through this year’s Hindi blockbuster, Kahaani or last week’s BBC episode of This Is India) this 9-10 day Hindu festival is celebrated in the millions, worldwide. Navratri and Garba celebrations occur during this time but for Bengalis, Durga Puja remains a key event in the religious and social calendar. Being British born, I envy my Indian friends and family that are able to truly relish the ‘native’ Durga Puja experience at home – a colourful chaos of sounds, smells and visions. Western schooling systems rarely permit sufficient vacation time during the pujas and therefore visiting West Bengal for Durga Puja remains on my Bucket List. However, for now I share Durga Puja celebrations through my own eyes, growing up in the UK.

Lehengas & Luchis
Since childhood, Durga Puja has always created a sense of excitement. It meant it was time to finally wear the traditional Indian lehengas, salwars or saris bought during our last India trip especially for the occasion. New clothes became a symbol of new beginnings, the colourful combinations and shimmering sequins celebrating the diversity of our culture.
After putting our hands together in prayer, bowing to the Goddess Ma Durga and blessing ourselves with the holy fire, we are allowed ‘prasad’. Prasad, in the form of fruits, Bengali sweets or coconuts are usually offered as a form of worship and after the religious rituals have been performed, are eaten, as they have now been blessed by the Goddess. Puja celebrations involve not only religious festivities but also allow a cultural mix of songs and dance, enjoyed before more puja meals.
Luchis (or Puris) are a delicious yet deceptively devilish Bengali classic – fried doughy bread usually accompanied by daal and Bengali misti (sweets).

Meeting & Greeting
As I grew up, Durga Puja gained more significance in the social calendar. It became a constant in our ever changing, hectic lives. It offered an opportunity to greet friends, old and new that had travelled far and wide for this one occasion.

Aarti & Shadhana
Along with devotional worship (aarti) comes the opportunity to cleanse the soul and carry out ‘spiritual practice’ or shadhana; a time to seek spiritual peace within yourself regardless of the chaos of the modern world around us.

Today
For me, Durga Puja today encompasses all these: ‘luchis & lehengas’, ‘meeting & greeting’ and ‘aarti & shadhana’, not as 3 separate entities but as an integrated culmination of festivities. Excitement grows as we coordinate our outfits, warm affection and emotion stirs as we embrace familiar faces and sweeten our palates. Today, it is amazing to be able to witness puja celebrations across continents through 1 effortless video call on a smart phone, live television broadcasting or through uploaded Facebook photos or statuses. However, let us not forget the real reason of our shadhana, our real cause for celebration.

Goddess or Ma Durga/Durga Ma – is believed to be mother of the universe. She is responsible for creation, preservation and destruction of the world.

‘It is believed that Ma Durga was created by gathering the strength of all the mothers. Every year the mother graces us with her presence, eliminates evil and goes back so that all of us can live happily and peacefully without fear.’

– From Kahaani, translated from the original Hindi.

So this Durga Puja, whether you are a devotee or not, may you be touched with Ma Durga’s sword of omniscient knowledge, protected from all evil by her many arms and blessed with the certainty of success.

It is thought that as we strive to form an inner peace within ourselves, we become unaffected by the circumstances we cannot alter. In doing so, we detach from the fear of the unknown and become the people we are meant to be. May we each find our inner peace this Durga Puja.

Shubo Bijoya – Happy Durga Puja 2012!