Fireless Cooking Session with Maran G and Laughter Therapy

Fireless Cooking Session with Maran G and Laughter Therapy – Workshop at Bangalore on 22 July 2017

Participants of the workshop

The fifth-year anniversary celebration of the Swarnaprashna Parenting Community, which happened in June with over 40-50 parents and their family and children, was a one of a kind meeting of like-minded parents who share a common vision for health and spirituality alike. One of the super hit sessions at this celebration was the session of Dr. Maran G, who is a raw food activist and a firm proponent of Naturopathy. All of us were so bowled over by his enthusiasm and his super helpful attitude towards knowledge sharing, that it is but inevitable that we will all demand for a repeat (this time, more detailed!) session with Dr. Maran.

So, with the stars aligning, we were fortunate enough to enjoy two wonderful sessions with Dr. Maran in the last month – one in Chennai (organized by parent Priya) and one in Bangalore – which happened this past Saturday. I was part of the session at Bangalore and feel honored to share the knowledge gained at the session which Dr. Maran so gracefully shared with us all. But before we dive in straight to the learning, let me write a bit about Dr. Maran.

Dr. Maran getting ready to wow the audience

Maran G or Maranji as we liked to call him, is what you might call a food and health revolutionary. Hailing from Tamilnadu, Dr. Maran, who must be about 60 or so years old, has been tirelessly working the last 20 years (or perhaps even more) with a single motive to help families avoid expensive medical costs and realize that they can cure themselves of all diseases with a simple belief that Food is Medicine and Medicine is Food. A very humble soul and a great orator, Dr. Maran, who is a Naturopathy doctor, also runs a small all natural food restaurant at Sivakasi. One of the notable achievements of this restaurant is that they don’t use any of the five whites (Sugar, Salt, Maida, Milk and White Rice/Wheat) – and yet, over 250-300 people regularly visit this restaurant every single day in search of healthy and safe food. Dr. Maran regularly travels across South India to talk about healthy food habits and healthy lifestyle practices to lead a healthy and happy life. For all his wonderful knowledge and status, he might be one of the most humble men you might ever meet. The world certainly needs more of his kind.

As you might have guessed, any time we spend with such a person is bound to be filled with so much learning and so much realization of the simple truths about life. So it was the session that happened in Bangalore. Dr. Maran spent about 5-6 hours addressing all of us non-stop with not a single pause or break – that itself can be the proof of how the right food and lifestyle habits can help someone face all the demands of a day without breaking a single sweat! Dr. Maran, nonetheless to say, is a man who practices what he preaches and is an inspiration to all of us – if we can be half of what he is at that age, I am sure that will be a great achievement given the rush and mindlessness that we live in.

Participants listening attentively

As I sit now and try to pen down what I learnt this weekend, my mind simply boggles at the task before me! Every single second of the session was so useful and so full of information, that it would be impossible for me to capture every single one of it here without being confusing or overwhelming. So I will try to share the essence of what I learnt (given that I have about 15 pages of hurriedly scribbled notes to decipher). I am going to write it down as we covered it during the session without putting my own wrapper or inference around it though I will try to bracket it into categories wherever possible so that it is easy for you to read and remember. If you are unclear about what a certain point might mean, do comment and I will see if I can recall and try to elaborate it out for you.

Before the day’s session began, as has become our usual practice, Velu did a guided meditation for all parents gathered around. Few peaceful moments where we were called into recognize our own consciousness and its power to go far and beyond our immediate comprehension. By the end of this meditation, all of were feeling so centered and calm – just the right mindset to receive the downpour of wisdom all of us got from Dr. Maran! One of Dr. Maran associates, Mr. Mukesh Jain, who is a laughter and yoga therapist, joined us soon after to kick start the day with a quick laughter session that will set the trend for the day – a fun and jovial mood to break the seriousness and magnitude of the topic at hand. And then, it was time for Dr. Maran (many thanks to Parent and healer Anand who helped translate).

Meditation session in progress
Bhastrika Pranayama – one of the most easy ways to cleanse your lungs and detox

So, without further ado, here are some of the pearls of wisdom shared by Dr. Maran:

The Basics:

  1. The basic premise is that we are what we eat. One must understand that Food is Medicine and Medicine is Food. So, if we want a healthy body, all we need to do is look at our food habits.
  2. All causes of diseases and the many symptoms of the many diseases are just one – which is Morbid Toxin Accumulation in the body. So what are these toxins? It can be the polluted Air we breathe, the contaminated water we take OR it can be the bad food we consume – that is all.
  3. With that understanding, it will be easy to know that if all diseases are a result of one root cause, however different the disease or its symptoms are, all of them can be dealt with the same treatment – i.e. Complete Detoxification and a return to healthy food habits and lifestyle giving the body time and energy to heal itself.
  4. While Modern Medicine has been a great life saver (in the case of emergency surgeries, accidents and such), it has not been very kind to humans in its very quick recommendations for synthetic-chemical based medicines (more toxins to the already toxic loaded body!), operations and unnecessary amputations and eviscerations. So before one turns to this option, one must firmly look at one’s own lifestyle and food habits and identify the root cause of the disease instead of asking for quick-fixes from the Doctors of modern medicine.
  5. So how can we avoid toxin accumulation due to food? How can Food be medicine? How can our food habits help us live a healthy life and help our body heal itself? The answer is very simple – It is just about consuming food straight from the greatest kitchen in the world, without any secondary processing. That’s right, the greatest kitchen in the world is that of Mother Nature’s and the best kind of food is the one that comes straight from her – raw and clean of any contamination (including pesticides, fertilizers, etc.)
  6. One must understand and go back to our elementary school lessons that all of us have forgotten – Cooking takes away the essential nutrients in our food. Cooking is an unnecessary wastage of energy. Cooking is not required for a man to consume food. The early man might very well have been a fruitarian and if he could have in that harsh environment, we very well can be now.
  7. But given that we have got used to eating cooked food in the past few generations, how can we go back to this basic healthy way of living? Where do we start? Simple – Just switch 30% of your food intake to raw and clean – that should be more than enough to see you through. This roughly translates to a minimum of ONE COMPLETE raw meal (consisting of fruits, vegetables and plain juices/milk extracted from millets/grams/grains) per day.
  8. It doesn’t, however, stop at only food. We must also look at our overall lifestyle and make sure it is healthy. For instance, our good food habits must be complemented by good eating habits – i.e. for instance, giving complete attention to what we eat, biting each morsel minimum twenty or times till all the saliva is mixed with it (which is what helps digestion – as digestion starts right from mouth and not just in stomach as we believe).
  9. Physical Exercise is also mandatory as is cultivating a good mind.
  10. Finally, you can reverse most if not all diseases if you are totally willing to commit to a raw and clean food habit. Dr. Maran has cured many a people with his simple diet plans and lifestyle modification recommendations.
Our wholesome food getting ready – helped by kids!

What we must remember and most importantly practice:

  1. Replace the five whites mandatorily. Sugar can be replaced by Jaggery or Plam Sugar. Salt can be replaced by Sea/Rock Salt or Himalayan Pink Salt. Maida and White Rice can be replaced with traditional millet or unpolished rice varieties. Milk can be replaced with Milk alternatives such as Coconut Milk or Sprout’s Milk.
  2. In addition to nutrients, Cooking takes away the natural taste of the food as well which is why we need to add extra spices to dishes. If we get used to eating raw for a minimum one week, our taste buds will stop asking for “spicy stuff”. So start by consuming at least one raw meal a day. Every meal must begin with fruits or raw vegetables (30-60 minutes before the meal itself).
  3. Consume plenty of water. Look at detox waters to help detoxify and restore body balance.
  4. Water must also be consumed like solid food. Sip by sip mixed well with saliva.
  5. Practice Bhastrika Pranayama to detox your lungs and handle pollution in the air we breathe in.
  6. Assimilation and Elimination must happen smoothly for the body to function well. Pay attention to both these processes.
  7. Chew completely to ensure food is mixed well with Saliva. Saliva is the one that helps in digestion and it is also an insulin balancer if you will.
  8. Never control body urges including the urge to urinate and defecate. One must defecate at least twice a day. This will automatically get streamlined if one switches to natural/raw food at least once a day.
  9. Eat only when hungry and never go by the clock. Eat slowly and without distractions such as TV or mobile. Try not to talk as well while eating. Pay complete attention to what you are eating.
  10. Physical exercise and body activity is a must for healthy living. One must walk barefoot at least for half an hour a day outdoors. If not possible, at least walk in the shape of eight inside the house.
  11. Get up before sunrise. Do “Angapradikshina” and super brain yoga to keep your digestive system and nervous system active and healthy.
  12. Be childlike and cultivate a happy mindset.
  13. Dressing is also important for a healthy body – avoid tight and clingy dresses made out of unnatural fibers such as polyester and such.
  14. Help others and derive mental satisfaction. This, in turn, will help you reach a feeling of satiation and happiness.
  15. Never have a physical relationship with your partner within 3 hours of eating. All the blood will be re-directed to the physical act and food will turn to toxins. The best time, thus recommended by our elders probably keeping this in mind, is in the early morning well away from the last meal of the deal.
  16. Never eat after 7 pm.
  17. Practice Oil Bathing regularly without fail. If your lifestyle doesn’t allow it, at least do oil pulling.
  18. Have seasonal fruits. Consume desi (non-hybrid only) and organic fruits only as much as possible. For all other food, wash with salt and lemon to get rid of chemicals as much as possible before consuming.
  19. Don’t consume too much water just after a meal. Give at least 30-60 minutes gap. You may consume Detox water if you feel thirsty during this time.
  20. Finally, practice fasting as well to complement your healthy food habits.
A complete meal of the day – totally fireless cooking (all raw and natural)

Recipes:

So, all of us might have the same questions in our mind the minute we hear we must switch to at least 30% raw food in a day- how can we survive without any spices and simply eat just fruits and raw vegetables every single day? Well, it need not be that way. We can definitely create some wonderful recipes with spices such as dhania, jeera, and pepper and create some lip-smacking raw recipes. Do lookout for the English translated publications of Dr. Maran’s recipe books. For now, here are a few recipes Dr. Maran shared during the meet (he shared some more as well – but I haven’t been able to blog them all). We also had the great fun of eating all of these items (and more) prepared by Maranji’s assistant/cook Mr. Ramesh (who was helped by many parents as well including Divya, Nandhini and others).

Here are some of these items/recipes:

A healthy alternative to Cow’s Milk and Morning drinks:

  1. Curry Leaves Kheer
  2. Carrot/Beetroot Kheer
  3. Greens Kheer
  4. Sprout’s Milk

A healthy Starter/Snack:

  1. Sweet and Raw Ladies Finger Starter (or alternate with Snake Gourd)
  2. Raw Ground nut / Till Laddu Snack
  3. Sprout Salad
Sweet and Raw Ladies Finger Starter
Sprout Salad

Main Course:

  1. Mix Vegetable Kootu (or stew)
  2. Gourd Salad
  3. Lemon Aval (Flattened Poha) Rice
  4. Sweet Aval (Flattened Poha) Rice (Flattened Poha)
  5. Coconut Chutney
  6. Ridge Gourd Chutney
  7. Curd Aval
Mixed Veg Salad
Sweet Avalakki
Ridge Gourd Chutney
Lemon Avalakki
Kootu
Curd rice (avalakki)

Desserts:

  1. Aval Payasam
  2. Stuffed Snake Gourd Sweet Treats/Cutlets
Aval Payasam
Stuffed Snake Gourd Sweet/Cutlet
Never knew Snake Gourd can be so yummy eaten raw (Of course the Jaggery filling helped 😛 )

Other Accompaniments:

  1. Beetroot Pickles
  2. Ginger Pickles
  3. Detox Waters
Beetroot Pickles

What I have shared is probably just 50% of what Maranji shared or even lesser. I hope you get a chance to attend his session yourself and get to learn as we all did this time.

Before I wrap up, I must also thank Mr. Mukesh Jain – who spent well over an hour making us all laugh – the only thing we didn’t do was ROFL (rolling on the floor laughing). We did everything else laughing – yoga, exercise, talking, moving, dancing, the formation of an energy circle….and what not. My god, Mr. Mukesh never let his smile or laugh dim even for a single second – such was his commitment to giving us all a memorable day of laughter. As they say, a day without laughter is a day wasted. Though it will by no means be a day wasted, Mr. Mukesh’s child-like enthusiasm in engaging all of us left us all grinning ear-to-ear well after the day was over.

As an ending note, let me express my gratitude to Dr. Maran, Mr. Ramesh, Mr. Mukesh Jain, Velu, Mani, many parents and volunteers who made this event happen (Devika, Divya, Nandhini, many more I am sure ). God bless them with a happy, healthy life!

Author: Vaijayanthi

Vaijayanthi is a Sustainable Living Coach who firmly believes in the ancient wisdom of minimalistic living and circular economy where nothing was ever considered a waste. She advocates and conducts workshops and training sessions on Chemical-free living and sustainable living practices. She also takes Gardening workshops for children in Bangalore and hopes to empower them with the knowledge to grow their own food.

Detox Waters

One of the traditional views of Naturopathy considers all diseases as nothing but a result of morbid toxin accumulation in the body. So by removing these toxins (detoxification), you can regain good health is the belief (provided one also follows the other things required for good health including cultivating a sound mind and physical exercise).

To help in this detoxification, you can prepare a few Detox Waters that can help you maintain good health every day. There are specific Detox Waters depending upon the disease you suffer from. Or, you can just alternate between each of these Detox Waters one day a week and cover all the days and stay detoxed! Don’t over do it though. Listen to your body and follow its wisdom.

Types of Detox Waters:

  1. Jeera Water
  2. Amla Water
  3. Nannari Water
  4. Rose Water
  5. Methi Water
  6. Lotus Water
  7. Dhania Water

How to prepare and use the Detox Water:

  1. If it’s Jeera/Methi/Dhania – take 1 spoon. If it is Amla, take one fruit (grate it). If it is Nannari or Rose petals, take a handful. If it is Lotus, take one full medium sized flower (along with stem, petals, etc.)
  2. Soak the base component overnight in 250 ml of water, preferably in a copper vessel.
  3. Boil the above mixture the next day morning till the water reduces to half.
  4. Take off the flame and filter out the solids.
  5. Dilute the leftover concentrated liquid to 1 or 1.5 liters.
  6. Sip throughout the day (or as long as it lasts) ensuring it mixes well with your saliva before you swallow.

Benefits of Detox Water:

  1. Jeera Water helps aid weight loss and also increases the body metabolism. Also, helps in addressing digestive issues
  2. Amla Water helps address blood-related problems.
  3. Nannari Water is good at healing urinary issues and balancing pitta in the body
  4. Rose Water (typically red desi varieties are preferred) helps in reducing acidity and is great for skin problems, balancing pitta, body/mouth adour, and Blood Pressure
  5. Methi Water is good for helping with diabetes, hair fall, and women’s problems such as white discharge
  6. Lotus/Dhania Water is very very good for balancing blood pressure (both high and low blood pressure).

If you’d like, you can also add the juice of one lemon to the diluted detox water for more flavor.

Author: Vaijayanthi

Vaijayanthi is a Sustainable Living Coach who firmly believes in the ancient wisdom of minimalistic living and circular economy where nothing was ever considered a waste. She advocates and conducts workshops and training sessions on Chemical-free living and sustainable living practices. She also takes Gardening workshops for children in Bangalore and hopes to empower them with the knowledge to grow their own food.

Sweet and Raw Ladies Finger Starters

Have you ever thought of using Ladies Finger as a starter except in the form of Bhendi Fry? How about if we give you a recipe for a sweet and RAW Ladies Finger starter that you will not only eat happily but will even look for a second serving? Here, take a look at this super simple and super delicious recipe for Ladies Finder Starter.

Sweet and Raw Ladies Finger Starter

 

Ingredients:

  1. Quarter Kilo Ladies Finger
  2. 2-3 Lemons (adjust according to taste)
  3. 5-6 spoons of Jaggery powder (adjust according to taste)
  4. Juice of 1 or 2 medium size Ginger pieces

Method:

  1. Wash the Ladies Finger well and pat dry.
  2. Slit them sideways partially (not fully; the Ladies Finger should not come apart and should stay intact). Ensure there are no worms.
  3. Combine the juice of lemons, Ginger and Jaggery Powder and mix until the Jaggery is dissolved completely. You may add a bit of water to get a smooth syrupy consistency.
  4. Now, soak the slit Ladies Finger in this syrup for up to 3 hours.
  5. Your Sweet and Raw Ladies Finger Starter is now ready to be served.

Few Health Benefits:

  1. Ladies Fingers are a great source of natural Iodine and can be a wonderful natural remedy to deal with Thyroid problems.
  2. The combination of Lemon and Ginger juice helps make the raw Ladies Finger easier to consume as-is without cooking/frying. This helps ensure all the nutritional properties of Ladies Finger are kept intact.

It’s enough if one person has 2-3 of these starters every day to get all the health benefits.

You can also replace the Ladies Finger with Snake Gourd and make Sweet and Raw Snake Gourd starter. Come on now, give it a try!

Author: Vaijayanthi

Vaijayanthi is a Sustainable Living Coach who firmly believes in the ancient wisdom of minimalistic living and circular economy where nothing was ever considered a waste. She advocates and conducts workshops and training sessions on Chemical-free living and sustainable living practices. She also takes Gardening workshops for children in Bangalore and hopes to empower them with the knowledge to grow their own food.

Sprouts Milk (Vegan Milk)- Great alternative to Cow’s Milk

If you have been looking for a good alternative to Cow’s milk (either due to health reasons, cruelty reasons or any other reasons), you have many choices today – including Almond Milk, Soy Milk, Rice Milk, Hemp Milk, Coconut Milk and Sprouts Milk. While the first five may be commercially available off the shelf in super markets, they can also prove to be a bit economically unviable for everyday use. In such a case, do not worry!

Here’s a wonderful alternative to these Vegan Milk options which is also very very healthy – and what’s more – you can make five different variations of this milk as well! Yes, I am talking about Sprout’s Milk. Let’s quickly look at how to make this milk before we look at the benefits of this milk.

How to make Sprout’s Milk:

  1. Take any one millet/gram of your choice from the ones listed above – Finger Millet or Pearl Millet or Foxtail Millet Or Horsegram or Whole Greengram.
  2. Wash it once, remove any impurities/stones and then soak it for 5 – 6 hours (or overnight). You need not wait till the sprouts fully appear but if you want to do so, there’s no harm either. This recipe looks at how we can prepare Sprout’s milk fresh every day with just five minutes of work the previous night.
  3. Once the millet/gram is soaked sufficiently (and just about starting to sprout if you let it longer than 6 hours), put it in a blender with some water and grind it nicely.
  4. Filter out the liquid with a fine mesh. This is your thick Sprout’s Milk.
  5. Add equal quantity of hot water to this extracted thick Sprout’s Milk.
  6. Add Jaggery and Elaichi to give it sweetness and flavor and consume as an alternative to regular milk.

Why Sprouts Milk:

  1. As you know, millets and grams pack quite a punch of nutrients and are considered super foods.
  2. They are also cheaper compared to any other type of vegan milk including Almond Milk.
  3. They also help you replace the so called commercial health drinks which in reality may not have much nutrition at all.

Do give this recipe a try and let us know how it worked for you. Perhaps, you can even combine one or two millets and extract mixed Sprout’s Milk.

Author: Vaijayanthi

Vaijayanthi is a Sustainable Living Coach who firmly believes in the ancient wisdom of minimalistic living and circular economy where nothing was ever considered a waste. She advocates and conducts workshops and training sessions on Chemical-free living and sustainable living practices. She also takes Gardening workshops for children in Bangalore and hopes to empower them with the knowledge to grow their own food.

Greens Kheer – A healthy morning drink

In the previous two posts, we saw three wonderful recipes for a healthy morning drink (Curry Leaves Kheer, Carrot OR Beetroot Kheer). We can also replace the curry leaves/carrot/beetroot with Greens such as Ponnagannai (Alternanthera/ Matsyakshi/ Honganne/ Ponnaganti koora) or Karisalankanni (Bhringaraj). Both these greens (healing herbs actually) are fantastic for eyesight and skin health.

By alternating between these five different recipes, one can ensure a healthy, balanced nutrition is provided to the family throughout the week. What’s more, these recipes also be a great alternative to cow’s milk being Vegan recipes.

Here are also a few tips that can help you adapt these recipes quickly into your lifestyle:

  1. If you or your child prefers a hot drink in the morning, you can simply use medium hot/warm water to prepare the juice. Do not boil it, however.
  2. You may also grind the Coconut separately and extract the Coconut milk and then add it to the other ingredients while grinding. That way, you can get the Coconut fiber separately – which you can use in your regular cooking for chutneys, sabjis, sambar, etc.
  3. You can also try doing it with few other vegetables (or maybe even fruits). The fun lies in experimenting with a taste and consistency you will fall in love with (or rather your children will come to love!).
  4. You may also try adding a bit of water to get a more liquid consistency. You may need to increase the Jaggery though.
  5. You can also replace Jaggery/Country Sugar with Palm Sugar and get the additional benefits of Palm Sugar
  6. The consistent use of Coriander and Ginger in all the recipes ensures good digestion power.

Additionally, these recipes should take you just about 3-5 minutes to prepare provided you have all ingredients handy. This is much lesser than the time taken to boil milk and prepare your health drink/coffee/tea. So that’s time saved in the kitchen which you can use elsewhere!

If you have a variation of this kheer which you think will work great, please do try and share your feedback with us. We would love to try it as well!

Author: Vaijayanthi

Vaijayanthi is a Sustainable Living Coach who firmly believes in the ancient wisdom of minimalistic living and circular economy where nothing was ever considered a waste. She advocates and conducts workshops and training sessions on Chemical-free living and sustainable living practices. She also takes Gardening workshops for children in Bangalore and hopes to empower them with the knowledge to grow their own food.

Carrot/Beetroot Kheer – A healthy morning drink

Carrot/Beetroot Kheer

Ingredients:

  1. One Carrot OR Beetroot
  2. 2 -3 medium size pieces of Coconut (Or a bit less than half a crown)
  3. 5 – 6 spoons of powdered Jaggery/Country Sugar (Depending on how sweet you want it)
  4. A bunch of Coriander Leaves
  5. A piece or two of Ginger
  6. 4-5 Elachi
Carrot Kheer (Skip the curry leaves shown in the picture)

Method:

  1. In a blender or mixie, grind all the ingredients listed together
  2. For children, filter the liquid and separate the fiber out
  3. For adults, you may consume the juice as-is with the fiber if possible else you may filter the fiber out as well. Feed the pulp to your plants/compost.
  4. Your super healthy Curry leaves kheer is ready. Pour into a re-usable glass and enjoy the innumerable health benefits.

Few Health Benefits:

  1. Carrot is extremely good for eyesight and skin.
  2. Beetroot is good for Iron and Magnesium and helps increase Haemoglobin in Blood.
  3. Both Carrot and Beetroot helps increase immune power and are a good source of vitamins and minerals.

Author: Vaijayanthi

Vaijayanthi is a Sustainable Living Coach who firmly believes in the ancient wisdom of minimalistic living and circular economy where nothing was ever considered a waste. She advocates and conducts workshops and training sessions on Chemical-free living and sustainable living practices. She also takes Gardening workshops for children in Bangalore and hopes to empower them with the knowledge to grow their own food.

Curry Leaves Kheer – A healthy morning drink

Curry Leaves Kheer

Ingredients:

  1. Two handsful of Curry Leaves
  2. 2 -3 medium size pieces of Coconut (Or a bit less than half a crown)
  3. 5 – 6 spoons of powdered Jaggery/Country Sugar (Depending on how sweet you want it)
  4. A bunch of Coriander Leaves
  5. A piece or two of Ginger
  6. 4-5 Elachi
Curry Leaves Kheer (you may additionally add a carrot or beetroot piece as well)

Method:

  1. In a blender or mixie, grind all the ingredients listed together
  2. For children, filter the liquid and separate the fiber out
  3. For adults, you may consume the juice as-is with the fiber if possible else you may filter the fiber out as well. Feed the pulp to your plants/compost.
  4. Your super healthy Curry leaves kheer is ready. Pour into a re-usable glass and enjoy the innumerable health benefits.

Few Health Benefits:

  1. Extremely good for your hair and scalp; Promotes hair growth and controls hair fall
  2. Helps increase digestive power and heals stomach ulcers
  3. Good for dealing with women health related problems
  4. The Kheer is also a complete nutritionally balanced drink – Curry leaves provide Iron, Magnesium, and Calcium, Jaggery provides Carbohydrates and Iron, Coriander helps balance the heat generated by Iron (compensating excess pitta), and Coconut acts a natural source of rich Protein, and Ginger helps increase digestive power.

 

Author: Vaijayanthi

Vaijayanthi is a Sustainable Living Coach who firmly believes in the ancient wisdom of minimalistic living and circular economy where nothing was ever considered a waste. She advocates and conducts workshops and training sessions on Chemical-free living and sustainable living practices. She also takes Gardening workshops for children in Bangalore and hopes to empower them with the knowledge to grow their own food.

A meeting of Kindred Spirits – Part 2 of 3

5th Year Anniversary Celebration of Swarnaprashna Parenting Group

The second day dawned bright and early. The first session of the day was Yoga – guided graciously by parent Bhooma. Though Bhooma did not have any indication that she will be called on to conduct the session (as the other person who was supposed to do it had to drop out due to unavoidable reasons), she enthusiastically stepped in and ensured the parents were not disappointed. I heard the Yoga session was very energetic and rejuvenating. Unfortunately, I missed it! The early morning chirping of the many birds on campus and the peacocks from the nearby fields compensated a wee bit for missing such a wonderful session though (or so I consoled myself!).

Yoga session by parent Bhooma

After a quick breakfast, all parents gathered at the pyramid room with much anticipation and glee for the day’s program.  We were not disappointed. The formal program kicked off with a small recognition ceremony to honor the core parents who have contributed their time and energies over the last few years towards the growth of the Swarnaprashna parenting group. Without these do-gooders, our community will not be what it is today. Many thanks to these kind souls who continue to dedicate their efforts to the cause of holistic living and parenting.

Parent Nandhini and core member of Swarnaprashna Parenting Community getting honored (one of the many parents who have tirelessly worked over the last few years towards the cause of holistic living and parenting)
Parent Team honoring Velu Jayaprakash, the man behind Swarnaprashna who is making all this possible (through the guidance of his Guru as he likes to acknowledge)

After the recognition ceremony, Ranjan Mullaratt, a Kalaripayattu expert with 30 years experience in the art form, spent over an hour with us sharing his knowledge about the most ancient martial art of the world. Kalaripayattu (Kalari meaning an enclosed space and payattu meaning practice), which is said to have originated from South India, is believed to be taught first to Sage Parasurama by Lord Shiva.  The art form was eventually spread world-wide by Bodhirama including to China. Today, it is practiced widely in Kerala, Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh in India. Placing a high importance on the guru-shishya parambara, Kalaripayattu is extremely beneficial for both physical and mental health. It follows the principles of Ayurveda and incorporates traditionally guarded secrets on vital nerve points to disarm the opponent in a fight.

Ranjan Mullaratt, a Kalaripayattu expert talking to us about the age-old martial art form

Next up was the super fun, super powerful, super thought-provoking session on Natural Foods by Dr. Maran G. A raw food activist and a firm proponent of Naturopathy, Maran G is what you might call a bomb of energy and traditional knowledge. Dr. Maran runs a tiny food joint in Sivakashi, Tamil Nadu named “Thaivazhi Iyarkai Unavagam” (translated roughly as Traditional & Natural Food Restaurant) – it serves over 300 people each day with completely wholesome, raw and uncooked food and helps them fight many diseases and illnesses with food as medicine.

Dr. Maran G – A raw food activist and proponent of Naturopathy with Parent Gayathri (who helped translate Maranji’s priceless talk to English for the benefit of all parents who did not understand Tamil)

Known for his selfless and passionate work on spreading the wisdom of consuming raw and natural food, Maran G is a wonderful human being who has dedicated his life for the betterment of the health of his fellow beings. An hour or so with him was just not enough – his enthusiasm, deep knowledge, jovial nature, literary skills, and caring attitude made us all wish he could spend the entire day with us talking! WE just couldn’t get enough of the many tips and recipes he shared with us all so generously. God bless Maran G and his kind – we were in turn for sure blesses to be part of his session that day. Though I am planning to cover the tips/recipes given by Maran G in another blog post, here’s what he really wanted us all to take away that day, if not anything else:

Pearls of Wisdom from Maran G’s talk:

  1. Drink plenty of water
  2. The more flour/starch you consume, the more pain you will suffer. Avoid plan starch food.
  3. Follow the Natural way of life – have more fruits and vegetables (raw). Consume Amla/Guava/Dates/Fig in plenty.
  4. Walking for 10 mins barefoot is equal to walking 1 hour in shoe. Try to walk barefoot as much as possible and stay connected to Mother Earth.
  5. A lifestyle without physical work and filled with bad food habits is sure asking for trouble.
  6. One must do the super brain yoga (thoppukaram as it’s called in Tamil, usually performed in front of Ganesha with both hands on the ears) at least 21 times a day to stay fit, young, and healthy.
  7. At least one meal a day must be Fruits only. Once in a day at least, you must do fireless cooking!
  8. For Thyroid, Diabetes and improving memory power, soak 2 Ladies Finger in water overnight and have that water in the morning.
  9. Try to have a wholesome and raw breakfast. You can always add spice to it in the form of pepper, jeera, ajwain. Replace Coffee/Tea with Dry Ginger Tea.
  10. Physical exercise a must for a healthy body. If you don’t have time to do exercise, you can at least walk in the form of a 8 shape right at home
  11. Most importantly, pls ensure your children inculcuate the good habit of eating raw and healthy food – enrich their water bottles and tiffin boxes with the best food Mother Nature herself has prepared lovingly.
  12. Do not watch any TV, mobile or other devices while eating.
  13. Never eat after 7 in the night!

The above is just barely scratching the surface of what he shared. You must definitely attend one of his sessions if possible in the future.

Standing ovation to Dr. Maran – one hour with him is just NOT enough!

We all proceeded to lunch – thinking if we should start practicing all Maran G told us right away – unfortunately, bad habits formed over decades of lifestyle needs at least a few days of convincing one’s own mind and self before making the switch. Maran G, however, did not think so. He liberally shared his meager lunch of 2-3 fruits with everyone at the Lunch hall. Indeed, a very selfless Samaritan he is.

Usually, any session planned right after lunch will turn out to be boring (even if it is not really so – thanks to our full stomachs!). But we had a surprise coming for us. The team from Kreedaa Kaushalya, who came all the way from Mysore, enthralled us the next one hour with the traditional games of India. Right from Indian Chess, Pagaday, Aliguli Manay to Adu Huli Ata, it was a fun session where the children and adults even got to play a game or two.

Traditional Games that transported us to our childhoods

The team of RG Singh, Raghu Dharmendra, and Dileep Gowda have done extensive research on the traditional games, their use and their importance in our culture and have made their knowledge freely available to anyone who is willing to pay attention. In this day and age where children are glued to mobile screens for hours together, traditional games offer a hope and promise of getting them back to an engaging form of play which are also designed to make them more mentally agile and fit. Do check out the Kreedaa Kaushalya team at their shop opposite Mysore Zoo or catch them at their blog here: http://kreedaakaushalya.blogspot.in/. And don’t forget to introduce your children to the rich game culture of India.

Children getting lost in the wonder of Traditional Games, thanks to the session by Team Kreeda Kaushalya

The next session was on Karathandavam, another martial art form of India. It was very interesting to learn about this ancient art and appreciate the beauty of many practices that were part of our culture.

A quick demo of Karathandavam – another ancient martial art form

A quick water break later, all of us assembled again for another one of the most interesting sessions of the meet – Yoga point of view from Thirumoolar by Siddha Dr. Selva Shanmugam. A very deep subject, with profound wisdom and insights, Thirumanthiram and its teachings on Yoga and Medicine is not very easy to be discussed in just a few hours. But Dr. Selva Shanmugam did fantastic justice to it, while still keeping it absolutely relevant and informative, by sharing his decades of research and knowledge of Thirumoolar’s text. The following lines from his presentation stand out strikingly clear even today in my mind:

Andathil ullathae Pindam,

Pindathil ullathae Andam

Meaning what’s there in the Macrocosm (the Universe) is what’s there in the Microcosm (The Body) i.e. man is a universe in himself. These lines were said many thousands of years ago by Siddhas (ancient Tamil Sages) – and it is being discovered to be true by modern scientists even as we read these lines today. Whether one views these lines literally or with more spiritual intent, it is certainly not something one can just understand in a day and gain mastery (in fact, nothing in life is like that, but these kind of topics definitely need their own time, effort and dedication to really understand, let alone start practicing them).

Dr. Selva Shanmugam sharing his decades-long insights from Thirumanthiram

After that intense session, parent, healer and acupuncture therapist, Anandji did a light and simple session on Body, Mind and Soul – he gave us a very good understanding of the these three realms and even shared an easy way to meditate. Thanks Anandji – it was indeed a new way of looking at meditation (where one just lets the thoughts flow without getting too attached and instead focus on “who” is having these thoughts).

Healer Anandh talking about a simple meditation technique

Post that, it was time for little Ishita’s first birthday celebration!! A celebration where everyone wanted to get as close to the birthday cake as possible!! Joking aside, I am still in awe of the parents’ clear commitment and conviction towards holistic living (they sacrificed the usual first birthday celebrations and instead chose to attend the outing and celebrate the little one’s birthday with us). Anyhow, again on a lighter vein, thanks to dear Ishita and her parents, we got to taste one of the yummiest Millet based cakes made by parent Sharanya (again proving the power of parenting community coming together for the benefit of each other). God bless you, Ishita dear!

Little Ishita’s birthday celebration at Swarnaprashna’s fifth-year anniversary celebration 🙂
Someone called for a quick group photo before Maranji takes leave. Check out the cute little guy striking a pose in the front!

The day wound up with Dinner and another meditation practice session by Velu. This time, the meditation was focused on building a positive aura around ourselves, an energy ball of protection and good will. Suffice it to say, it was one of the most intense moments of my life! Beyond that, it is very difficult to write about what we all experienced – a mild sense of liberation, lingering joy and the thrill of having discovered our own mind power – definitely something to be experienced rather than heard from someone!

Children being very much a part of the day’s proceedings – thanks to all the parents who came together to keep them entertained

Author: Vaijayanthi

Vaijayanthi is a Sustainable Living Coach who firmly believes in the ancient wisdom of minimalistic living and circular economy where nothing was ever considered a waste. She advocates and conducts workshops and training sessions on Chemical-free living and sustainable living practices. She also takes Gardening workshops for children in Bangalore and hopes to empower them with the knowledge to grow their own food.

A meeting of Kindred Spirits (Part 1 of 3)

5th Year Anniversary Celebration of Swarnaprashana Parenting Group

It was Monday morning. I woke up with a strange and wonderful sense of peace and calm – very unlike other Mondays – in fact very unlike most other days as well! A quick recollection, and it all came flooding back – a weekend full of learning, unlearning, joy, celebration and a sense of time standing still. And yet, it all got over so quickly! Yes, I am talking about the fifth year anniversary celebration of the Swarnaprashna holistic living and parenting group.

Held on 10th and 11th of June 2017 at the very picturesque The School of Ancient Wisdom at Bangalore, the event was a meeting of kindred spirits and parents who became quick friends. Though packed tight with learning sessions on everything from Yoga & Meditation to Parenting & Healthy living, the two days were as relaxed as one can ever hope to get. For me, personally, it was a total treat, like a surprise package of all things that are on my “most liked list” – as if someone had gone through my mind map and picked the choicest of favorites and come up with an agenda that I would never miss for the world. I am sure it was the same for almost every parent who came to the meet! Now, that is not a small feat to achieve – but achieve it they did, the organizing team of Velu, Divya, Mani, Priya, Ananth, Nandhini and all the others who worked hard for more than a month to pull together this beautiful event for others. There is a reason I have emphasized the last word – I will elaborate more on it later.

The lush green and peaceful School of Ancient Wisdom
The beautiful environment of The School of Ancient Wisdom

All of us were to arrive by 5 – 6 PM on Friday evening. But as luck would have it, the rain gods decided to give us a shout! It started pouring delaying some parents from reaching the venue before 6.30 – no problem, said the kids who had arrived by then….We will just take our time getting to know each other so that we can hack our plans for the next two days! And that set the tone for the next two days – something you would never have seen in any other meeting of adults in your life am sure – a free rein of the meeting room for the kids to play, run, fight, sleep, eat and what not – amidst very serious discussions!

So while the adults listened, talked and took notes (pretending they don’t hear the noise!), the little ones had the time of their lives as well. This itself can be one of the best highlights of the meet – a highly tolerant and relaxed huddle of parents where every single parent took the disturbance (adventure for the kids!) in their stride and kept a watch on the kids collectively. Reminded me of the long forgotten huge joint families of yesteryears. Yes, I know, we are a parenting group and some might say this is expected but well, I can only thank the organizers and all the parents for proving we can have a productive meeting with our kids 🙂

After a quick round of introductions of all the parents and how they came to be part of the Swarnaprashna group, we came to know that one of the child had her first birthday the next day – and the parents have decided to spend it with us, in this retreat, instead of the usual party and merry – a awe moment of their dedication and interest to the cause of holistic living for sure.

It was soon time for Dinner followed by the Negativity removing mediation session by Velu. The day was also perfect for it – being a Friday AND a full moon day – a great combination to rid oneself of negative influences and disturbing feelings. If you have been following the discussions on the WhatsApp parenting groups, you will know that removing dhristi is one of the suggested weekly rituals one can follow to maintain emotional health and well-being for the entire family for those who believe in it. It is usually done with salt/chilies/mustard/eggs or any combination thereof (some also use natural straw/camphor and burn them after the cleansing ritual). Scientifically, we are using these high pranic energy filled items to “absorb” the negative energies around us, helping us keep a clean energy space around us. However, our meditation session focused on removing the negative energy within/around us in a different way by using a combination of visualization and self-suggestion. Each of us was also asked to hold a metal coin in our right hand (or a Lemon) which acted a medium to capture all the negativity – this was thrown into the fire built specifically for this purpose at the end of the meditation session.

One of the main things that we learnt during the pre-session discussions was on the importance of discarding the materials used for removing the dhristi (like the coin/salt/chillies…etc.) safely – without letting it affect another person (i.e. not throwing it in a public place where another person is bound to walk over it). As important as it is to get rid of our negative energies, it’s equally important to ensure we don’t pass it off to another person, knowingly or unknowingly. So it’s always best to discard any items we use in a space where another person/animal will not get exposed to it – for at least 24 hours. After that, the energy will get dissipated naturally. The meditation was a very soothing experience for me (not what one might expect out of a Dhristi removing ritual aka Black magic removing meditation!) – and helped me slip into good sleep in the calm and safe environment of The Ancient School of Wisdom.

Author: Vaijayanthi

Vaijayanthi is a Sustainable Living Coach who firmly believes in the ancient wisdom of minimalistic living and circular economy where nothing was ever considered a waste. She advocates and conducts workshops and training sessions on Chemical-free living and sustainable living practices. She also takes Gardening workshops for children in Bangalore and hopes to empower them with the knowledge to grow their own food.