Traditional Foods for Improving Nutrition and Food Security!

“A seed is small but rich with possibility, like love, which is as humble as it is powerful.” —Pir Zia Inayat-Khan from “The Seed of Love”

Sacred Seeds
Artistic Display of Native Seeds- Cereal Grains, Millets and Pulses. Picture taken in a recent Seed Festival by Sustainable Livelihood Institute, Auroville

A recent FAO survey shows that less than 60-70yrs ago our ancestors consumed 150 types of foods, the current scenario is appalling to know that our diet has just 2 types of foods- Rice and Wheat.

Here are some questions for you to ponder-

  1. As a consumer, what is your contribution in reversing environment and health deteriorating factor?
  2. What are the benefits of adopting to traditional lifestyle/ traditional foods?
  3. Can preserving Heirloom/Traditional seeds be the solution to global food security?

I had an opportunity to attend ‘2nd Auroville Seed Festival‘ which happened in August 2018 at Bharat Nivas in “Auroville”. The Seed Festival hosted by Sustainable Livelihood Institue (SLI)-Auroville, is a celebration of traditional seed varieties, local farming communities and holistic agricultural practises. The event showcased over 350 traditional varieties. The event also showcased talks by several experts such as Environmentalist & Agriculture Scientist Mr.Pamayan, Mr.Ananthoo of OFM & Tula, seed saving expert Mr.Nel Jayaraman as well as leading Auroville-based farmers and seed savers including Krishna Mckenzie of Solitude Farm.

Seed Festival by Sustainable Livelihood Institute
Seed Festival-2018 in Auroville

Some excerpts from the Seed Festival event-

From the words of Pamayan ji– According to Tamil Sangam Literature the geographical landscapes are: Kurunji (Mountains), Mullai (Forests), Marudham (Agri Areas, Plains, Valleys), Neydhal (Seashore) and Palai (Desert, Parched Wasteland).

Quoting the words of a great Tamil poet and philosopher Thriuvalluvar–(Thirukural- Tamil to English Couplet 742): “maNinheerum maNNum malaiyum aNinhizhaR kaadum udaiya tharaN”.  English Transalation- The wealth of a country is not in its forts/buildings, but in its crystal clear water, an open space, a hill, and shade of beauteous thick forests (Mix of 7 types of crops) where the sunlight does not touch the ground thereby turning the soil into fertile land full of life.

Dating back to before 2000yrs, our forefathers practised Nature based farming in Kurunji landscapes; much importance was given to increase the organic matter in soil by adopting to no-ploughing & no-tilling farming , 7 crop farming (Mix of indigenous trees, small trees, shrubs, herbs, similar to Permaculture). Using manure from farm animals and composting the manure to increase the soil fertility were predominantly a custom in Mullai (Forests) landscapes. Rice & Fish cultivation was traditionally practised in Neydhal (seashore) landscapes. Rain Water harvesting techniques and installing Grand Annicut or Stone Barrier in running rivers/streams were implemented in Fresh Water Ecosystem or Marudham landscapes. Ancient Tamilians used 33 types of man-made structures for water harvesting and saving purposes, they were considered experts in building Stone Barrier structures. It is said that there were approximately 40,000 lakes in Tamil Nadu, and out of which 99.9% have vanished in the name of development- Bus Depots, government buildings, offices, etc..

Why did we loose our ancient Farming Techniques & Heirloom Seeds?

Genetic diversity of agricultural crops has reduced at alarming levels which has de-stablised fragile environment Eco-systems. Our ancient and local knowledge of land has been slowly destroyed or conveniently bought-away from us by wealthy corporations and government policies for economic gain. The reasons for wiping out the heirloom seeds and cropping techniques is to capture the highly profitable food market. Through a recent FAO survey, it is shown that less than 60-70yrs ago our ancestors consumed 150 types of foods, the current scenario is appalling to know that our diet has just 2 types of food- Rice and Wheat. How is that possible? You visit any supermarket, you see arrays of shelves with varieties of food items stacked in them, how on earth its just 2 types of food? Sadly, the answer is a yes! The main ingredient used in the manufacture of majority of foods are bi-products of rice and wheat.

The intake of traditional foods, naturally grown foods and wild foods (forest foods) has reduced, but we consume mono-agriculture based foods, industrial foods, fake foods, fast foods, GMO(genetically modified) foods, due to which we suffer from Low immunity and non-communicable (life-style) diseases like diabetes, kidney failure, thyroid, BP, heart disease, cancer, etc. have increased globally.

From the words of Ananthoo Ji– Only one GM crop is officially approved in India which is GM Cotton. However, an alarming report says that over 55 types of foods consumed in India are Genetically Modified. This is due to the imports (wheat, soya, etc) and manufactured foods of foreign origin which reaches our plates without proper health safety parameters from the government.

Traditional Foods for Food Security
A Clipping from a newspaper article.

Traditional foods are the only answer to boost our bodies natural immunity. A monopoly situation has been formulated by the greedy corporations to capture the food market profits by creating a difficulty to access our land based traditional and indigenous foods thereby reducing its consumption and health awareness to the public. Media and Advertisements play a lead role to confuse and favor public choices, especially children become the innocent victims, adults equally. Eg. paste with salt in it, manufactured drink claims to contain all the proteins and vitamins for a child’s growth, processed soya milk, pasteurized Milk, Pepsi ads by famous Sports person/ Actors, Breakfast cereals for weight loss, and the list goes on.

Monopoly through Fertilizer lobby, Industrial Seeds Lobby, GMO Crops:

Fertilizer lobby and Industrial Seeds Lobby is another culprit against Traditional foods. According to the Seeds Act, 1966., it is illegal to sell seeds by an individual farmer, only exchange is allowed. Yes, a farmer may feed the country and its people, may produce the seeds, but not sell ” Seeds”.  When seeds are under siege by laws and large corporations (Monsanto, Bayer) the farmer loses his/her heirloom (open-pollinated) seeds and traditional farming systems to high costing seeds hybrid and GMO seeds. Engineered seeds are those that cannot produce fertile seeds which can be sown again and these seeds require expensive, environmental and health damaging chemical fertilizers (glyphosphate) for very crop cycle. GMO crops are known to contaminate and damage generations of heirloom seeds. Large corporations will start removing the heirloom seeds from the hands of the farmer and establish or monopolize the seed market, thereby pushing the farmer to higher debts and suicide. Example, the GM cotton seed from Monsonta are bought and cultivated by 95% of the cotton growers accross India. Ironically, our country’s National Flag which has to be made to specifications set by our ancestors, including a particular size, measurement, a place to make the flag, and using natural fiber cloth Khadi; is now made by using GM Cotton.

Agrarian Economy, Seed Freedom and Seed Sovereignty:

A country’s economics is in its agrarian economy. We are in a state of seed emergency and the Agrarian economy lies in seed protection, seed freedom and seed sovereignty. Currently, 95% of GM cotton is dominating the Indian market, if a similar situation arises to Rice, Wheat or any other Vegetable crops, then the seed companies will dictate the food market by means of regulating and restricting seed availability to farmers. In not so far future, the seed corporations might refuse to sell seeds for farming activities in our land and instead we will be forced to establish expensive import links by growing food crops in 3rd world regions.

The Great Seed piracy takes control of the seeds of farmers and facilitates seed monopolies, seed regulations through laws, germ plasm (ex-situ), genomic mapping and gene editing through biotechnology and intellectual property rights backed by large corporations. Food security can only be achieved through seed protection. For instance, A traditional Rice variety- Thooyamalli, which has been domesticated through 2000yrs of perfection, and handed down through many generations which has seen many seasonal changes, pests, diseases and climate cycles, has to be revived through continuous growing (in-situ) of the crop and there by preservation of the seed is achieved. What happened to Rice variety IR8, a product of Green Revolution? It is does not exist now. Such is the situation of new age seeds which is released every year by means of biotechnology. Traditional farming practices and indigenous seeds are a valuable cultural heritage and indicators of biodiversity.

There is a local saying which translates to “When a siddhar dies, 100 herbs might risk becoming weeds”, it so happens because of lack knowledge to identify a weed which may as well be a health benefiting herb.

Significance of Re-adopting to Traditional fooDS:

Planting seeds of change in our decisions towards sustainable food choices is the only way forward. Ancestral food celebrates and honors our land and our ties to Mother Earth; indigenous foods are high in nutritional quality and is significant to promote good health outcomes, a means to alleviate poverty and malnutrition, prevents chronic life-style diseases like- Diabetes, Hormonal Imbalances, BP, Cancer, etc.

Significance of Seed Festivals:

Show your support to protect and promote traditional seed crops diversity by attending your neighborhood Seed Festivals. Seed Festivals are a movement, a culmination of passionate people committed to reviving heirloom seeds & traditional foods including Rice, Millets, indigenous foods; and is a way to bring public awareness to the economic and health importance of ancient food systems.

seeds balls
Hands on demonstration for kids to make Seed Balls. “Seed balls” or “Seed bombs” are mixtures of clay, compost and a seed. The mixture is rolled into a ball shape and left to dry for aerial seeding.  Masanobu Fukuoka popularized this ancient method of agriculture, where-by the seeds are thrown or dropped on land for aerial reforestation.
Celebration of Native Seeds
Bi-products of Oil seeds
Palm Leaf Products
Palm Leaf Products Displayed in Seed Festival.
Native Seeds Display
Native Seeds Display for Kitchen Gardening Enthusiasts

Solutions don’t care how the problem started.

Together we can be the Change- Lets Save Traditional seeds by consuming indigenous and local foods, else the future of our food, mother earth and its inhabitants are bleak.

Thank you Velu Anna for the opportunity!

Understand the water

Special heartfelt gratitude to Divya and parents from translation team, who translated various tamil documents for research that we share in our community. This document was created 2 years back. I think now it is time to share it to public.

Bowen Falls Milford Sound NZ.

There is a famous saying in ancient tamil siddha’s _”Andathilullathe Pindam Pindathilullathe Andam Andamum Pindamum Ondre Atharinthuthan Parkkumpothe”_ it means what is in universe is same in our body. That is, our body is made of 5 elements, so does the universe.

Our earth has ⅔ water, so does our body, particularly brain. Water plays an important role in our body, there are countless benefits. At the same time, everyone is unique, so their needs are different. So drinking water with reference to certain benchmark is wrong. You drink water when you feel the need and as per your environment.

We can not say water is just H2O. Water has various nutritional elements that can be validated with scientific tools, but those scientific tools can not find the life force or spiritual energy. Our ancestors were well aware of this, in fact they were able to document various sources of water and their benefits. Though all source has water, but their function and benefits are different. We have to use as per our needs.

Pearson_Falls2

Let’s see what are the sources our ancestors have documented. As you think water comes from cloud, and it is collected and cleaned and sent to us in tap. But the story goes deeper. It will open your eyes, and also you can educate children about water in depth.   

  1. Agazhi (Moat) – A moat is a deep, broad trench, filled with water, that surrounds a castle for defence purposes. It has poisonous plants and deadly animals such as crocodile.
  2. Aruvi (WaterFalls) – a steep fall or flow of water in a watercourse from the highest part of a hill or a mountain. Each waterfalls has therapeutic benefits as per season.
  3. Aazhikinaru (Well in Sea Shore) – well dug near a sea shore. Good for stabilizing excess salt in air.
  4. Aaru (River) – Natural stream of water of fairly large size
  5. Elanji (Reservoir for drinking and other purposes) – a natural or artificial place where water is collected and stored for drinking and other purposes
  6. Urai kinaru (Ring well) – an excavation or structure in the form of descending rings created in the ground by digging to access groundwater. It is usually lined with fired clay.
  7. Ooruni (Drinking water tank) – Drinking water tank
  8. Ootru (spring) – water flow from an underground layer of water to the earth surface
  9. Aeri (Irrigation Tank) – water stored from rainfall, springs and rivers, used for agriculture
  10. Odai (Brook) – a small body of moving water from an underlying water body.  It always flows through a channel
  11. Kattunginaru ( Built-in -well) – an excavation or structure created in the red soil ground by digging to access groundwater. It is usually lined with stones and bricks.
  12. Kadal (Sea) – Sea
  13. Kanmai/Kammai (Irrigation Tank) – alternative name for irrigation tank used in the pandya dynasty
  14. Kalingu (Sluice with many Venturis) – Water sources like irrigation tank, built with a strong stone wall(as a precaution to prevent it from overflowing), with a gate at its end for water flow.
  15. Kaal(Channel) –  path of a narrow body of water
  16. Kaalvaai (Supply channel to a tank) – supply channel to the water resources like irrigation tank, bathing tank and drinking water tank
  17. Kuttam (Large Pond) – large pond (see the description of pond below)
  18. Kuttai( Small Pond) –  a small and shallow body of standing water, either natural or artificial,  that is usually smaller than a lake, used for bathing farm animals.
  19. Kundam (Small Pool) – a small water source for bathing.
  20. Kundu (Pool) – bathing water source, small in size
  21. Kumizhi (Rock cut Well/Artesian well) – An aquifer is a geologic layer of porous and permeable material such as sand and gravel, limestone, or sandstone, through which water flows and is stored. A well drilled into such an aquifer is called an artesian well.
  22. Kumizhi ootru (Artesian fountain) – If water reaches the ground surface under the natural pressure of the aquifer,it is called the artesian fountain.
  23. Kulam (Bathing Tank) – bathing water source near a village.
  24. Koovam (Abnormal well) – an abnormal well.
  25. Kooval (Hollow) – a shallow well like pit.
  26. Vaali (Stream) – a small drainage basin built from an overflowing natural water source like river
  27. Keni (Large Well) – a broad and deep well
  28. Sirai (Reservoir) – is an enlarged natural or artificial lake, storage pond or  impoundment created using a dam or lock to store water.
  29. Sunai (Mountain Pool) – natural water source in the mountains.
  30. Sengai (Tank with DuckWeed) – Bathing tank with abundant duckweed.
  31. Thadam (Beautifully Constructed Bathing Tank) – Beautifully Constructed Bathing Tank
  32. Thalikulam (Tank Surrounding a Temple) – water source surrounding the temple similar to a moat
  33. Thaangal ( Irrigation Tank) – In Thondai Dynasty, (dynasty which got separated from chola dynasty), irrigation tank is called so.
  34. Thirukulam (Temple Tank) – a sacred bathing tank near a temple
  35. Theppakulam (Temple tank with inside pathway along parapet wall) – a big sized temple tank with a inside pathway along the parapet wall, where theppam (a kind of boat car for the deities of the temple) is run during a temple festival.
  36. Thodu Kinaru (Dig Well) – water obtained from time to time by digging sand in the river
  37. Nadai Keni (Large well with steps on one side) – A large well which has steps on one side
  38. Neeraavi (Bigger tank with center Mantapam) – a large tank with a center stage. It is also called as aavi.
  39. Pillaikinaru (Well in the middle of a tank) – well in the middle of a bathing/ irrigation tank
  40. Pongu Kinaru ( Well with Bubbling Spring) – Well which has a never drying bubbling spring.
  41. Poigai (Lake) – a natural water source where there are abundant lotus flowers.
  42. Madu (Deep place in a river) – a deep, dangerous pit in a river.
  43. Madai (Small sluice with single venturi) – a small water source controlled by a sluice gate with single opening which controls the water flow.
  44. Madhagu (Sluice with many venturis) – a large irrigation tank controlled at its head by sluice gate with many openings. Sluice gate is traditionally a wood or metal barrier sliding in grooves that are set in the sides of the waterway. Sluice gates commonly control water levels and flow rates
  45. Marukaal (Surplus water channel) – channel where the excess water is diverted.
  46. Valayam (Round tank) – Bathing tank which is round in shape.
  47. Vaaikaal (Small Water Course) – small water sources like irrigation tank/ channel

Each water was treated by the human, or by nature for specific purposes. It is astonished by our ancestors’ depth of knowledge and practice they integrated into our lives, which we forgot by globalization. It is high time we switch back to our roots to save our loved one.

HOT or COLD

Wooden Spoon in Hot Water

Now let’s decode about the drinking water that is hot, warm or room temperature or cold. The answer is this, we just need to use common sense, here, like all living creatures, we should take water in room temperature. Since humans are enabled with 6th sense, we can enhance our body function by changing the water temperature as per our needs. In case of cold weather, we can consume warm water. Our stomach needs fire energy to digest the food. So warm water does enhance its function. But never take HOT water, it will kill the sense in tongue, and affect our lining of walls from mouth to stomach. So does the cold water also affect us. Cold water does the most damage in our body. It numbs the sense, affects our thought process, and extinguishes the fire in gut. So anything cold (milk shake, ice cream) is not good. Unless it is for a specific purpose and for a season as per body and environment.

If you are not convinced, take a pot with hot (hot and cooled later), cold, warm, room temp water. Put a seed or fish. You clearly see which water has a life. So do you want to drink water that has life or what looks good?

In case if you have a skin related problem or obesity or toxin in body regular warm water can help to flush the toxins. Regular water takes 6 hours to enter various channels in the body whereas herbal water does this job in 1.5 hours.

So boiled and cooled water does kill all the things in water including the life force, so it is of no use, rather it makes our body less immune. Check with people around who drink boiled water and normal water. You will find out the answers.

Research on Holy Water

Holy waters

During post world war times. Some German and Japanese scientist were sent all over the world to do research on various holy water bodies, such as ganga, natural springs, etc. in the end of their study they found, ionized alkaline water that has high PH value, and it is the reason for providing positive health, anticancer, and refrain from psychological problem. They could not find the spiritual value, probably they know and have hidden it for public eyes.

Now, those companies make special water treatment machines, that cost us few lakhs.

Human body is at 7.4 PH value. Anything less than 7 is acidic and more than 7 is alkaline, So don’t jump into conclusion that we only take alkaline food, in fact most of the food we eat is not alkaline, our body needs acidic value too. In small number. So the intake should be balanced with higher alkaline intake.

Few months back, I did a test with various waters (who sells those Japanese technologies) I found, something shocking. Few more friend did this with other source shared the result with me for our community.

  • Normal tap water – 7 To 7.5
  • Rain water – 7 to 8
  • Mineral water – 4 to 5.5
  • Soda and packed juice – 2.5 to 3.5
  • Water from ganga and rameshwaram – 9.5 to 11.5
  • Coconut milk – 7 to 8!!
  • Milk – 4 To 5

No wonder, why temples give coconut water during visits, they were trying to increase PH value of the body. As said before, temples where holistic spiritual places never a religious ritual business centers like today. So drinking coconut milk daily does wonder in health. I have seen many parents including myself, observed sea level changes in health. Now, we know which water is safe.

Purifying the water

Somehow we have been brainwashed from birth that water is not safe, germs, bacteria, etc. I do agree that some germs and bacteria does deadly harm to us, but MNCs has exaggerated too high that they created a permanent fear in our mind to drink the water from normal source. What is the solution to get a good water without spending Rs.100000s of money. The answer lies in our traditional lifestyle practices.

Use herbs, Earth Pot, or Copper

Water stored in earthern pot for more than 12 hours in dark does wonders, it in fact increase PH value by 1 or 2 value more. Copper does the same in 4 hours. Pot reduce the body temperature, copper increases the body temperature. So use it as per season and your environment.

If you use, more physical work use pot, if you use more mental work then use pure copper.

To remove dust particles, harmful bacteria, use simple white organic cotton layers of clothes. This is a most simple cost-effective and efficient filter, the water that passes the cotton layers, it will capture the bacteria, I have not done research, could not find anyone doing test. But most of the naturopathy, ayurvedic and siddha dr agree to this.

Enhancing the water

We can add a small piece of wood from guava or amla or drumstick seeds or vettiveru. Once those woods or seed smells bad, change it.  No harm. Good for health.  

Read this blog by Vaijayanthi about various detox waters.

Conclusion
  • Drink room temperature water or warm water as per your need
  • Use copper and mud pot or go for an expensive machine. (nothing in between like RO, etc, it does weak our body in long run)
  • Prefer tap water or save rain water an store in in dark place and use it.

Looking forward, we should work on areas to save rain water.

Author: Velu Jayaprakash

Velu Jayaprakash is a social entrepreneur, product manager, techy, photographer, meditator, father of two angels, ancient wisdom seeker, holistic adviser and Soul coach. You can reach him at velu.jayaprakash AT gmail DOT com

Embracing a chemical-free life with Natural Cleaners

Let’s do a small quiz before you start reading this blog, shall we? It’s very simple – just try to answer the following questions taking as much time as you need.

How many cleaning products do you use in your home? (including your personal care products)
Can you list at least 10 of them? Can you think of more?

Alright, hope you took a minute to pause and actually answer the questions above. A typical urban household today, as you would have realized if you had answered the questions, uses anywhere from 15 – 20 different cleaning and personal care products in their lifestyles. This could range from floor cleaners, dish wash, detergents, fabric softeners, naphthalene balls, bathroom cleaners, glass cleaners, shoe polish, wood polish…to face powders, body creams, moisturizers, nail polish, hair colors, deodorants…the list can literally go on and on. We have come to “depend” so much on these items that life can become unimaginable if you are forced to go without them for a few days.

But what we don’t realize is that many of these products contain synthetic chemical ingredients which are not as harmless as they claim (yes, even some of the so-called “organic or natural brands” you may know of). To understand this better, the next time you go shopping, make sure to spend a few more extra minutes to go through the ingredients list of EVERY product that you buy. I guarantee you will be surprised if not shocked – you may not even know why some of the ingredients are required!!

So these chemicals, apart from being non-essentials, can cause great harm as well including being hormone imbalancers, migraine triggers, carcinogens, skin allergens, endocrine disruptors (meaning fertility reducers/disease causers!) and so on and so forth.

Let’s back to one more quick quiz.

Imagine not having your favorite detergent to wash your clothes – can you still keep them clean and smelling fresh?
Suppose you run out of your bathroom cleaners and cant go out for a week – would you still spend as much time in the bathroom as you might otherwise?

Well, of course, you can 🙂 Just that you need to find out how our grandparents used to do it a few decades back – it’s as simple as that. And the best part of it? It was totally natural, chemical-free and eco-friendly – as good for us as it was for all the living beings around us. No side effects, no diseases and completely harmless. Sounds fantastic, right? Then why not try to adopt such a lifestyle yourself? Why not shift to chemical-free life and give yourself, your children, your family and all the other beings around a safe and natural environment to live in?

Let us take the first step today. Let’s look at the humble Soapnut that grows right in our backyard (not literally, unless you happen to live just outside a forest – which would be awesome actually!) and see how it can help us move to a natural and chemical-free lifestyle.

Soapnuts – your Natural Cleaner to the rescue

Soapnut, also called Reetha /Boondikottai /Kumkudukaya /Antuvalakay, can be one of your most useful and go-to natural ingredients in your household cleaning mission. Growing abundantly in the Himalayas (and Nepal) and South India, it is easy enough to source these days given the increase in interest around chemical-free living.

Soapnuts can really replace most, if not all, chemicals at your home, especially if used in combination with Bio Enzymes (we will see how to make that in another post). Let us now quickly see how you can use these magic super cleaners for your everyday household cleaning requirements along with few other questions you may have on this nut.

1. What exactly are Soapnuts?
They are the fruits of the Sapindus tree (Sap meaning Soap in Latin and Indus referring to their native India). There are multiple species/sub-species of this tree. In India itself, there are two different species/sub-species that produce two different looking fruits.

2. How are they useful in cleaning?
Soapnuts have a high amount of “surfactants” (the chemical compound good at removing dirt) in the form of naturally occurring saponins in their fruit pulp. If you are familiar with the structure of soaps, you will know that a soap compound has two ends – one tail end that repels water (and attracts dirt) and one head end that attracts water (making them water soluble). Soapnuts have these compounds naturally. So it is this property of them that makes them great for removing dirt. Plus, they are all natural to boot – meaning they decompose back into the soil quickly leaving minimal environmental impact unlike chemicals produced in laboratories such as detergents and shampoos.

3. How do Soapnuts look?

A freshly harvested Soapnut – Observe how they are clumped up

Two different types of Soapnuts found in India (after drying) – the one on right is the South Indian variety and the one on my left hand is the Himalayan variety

4. Is there a difference between the quality/effectiveness of these two varieties?
In my experience, absolutely not. The Himalayan ones look better and are bigger and are more appealing to our senses. The South Indian ones don’t look so neat but they pack quite a punch in their cleaning abilities. While the Himalayan ones are bit costly this side of the Vindhyas (considering they have to be transported so far from their origin), the South Indian ones are available at a bit lesser price here making them economically more feasible. Also, the South Indian ones are easier to soak and smash – the Himalayan ones take a bit longer to get soaked.

5. Why should I use Soapnuts and why not my detergents?
Not a good question, if you are still asking! Your detergents and most other cleaning products that you have at home are made of synthetic chemical compounds that have a high amount of toxins along with all the good things they promise you that gives them the cleaning power you need (and let’s not forget the wonderful oh-so-clean fragrance). These synthetic compounds, in addition to being harmful to you personally in terms of the ill-health and side effects they cause, are also damaging to the environment and the water bodies and the living beings present in the water bodies. Some of these toxins could be formaldehyde, diethanolamine, alkyl benzene sulfonates, ethylene oxide, Sodium hypochlorite, 1-4-dioxane, Benzoxazolyl, Phosphates and so on and so forth. Really, you don’t need to kill a lake full of fishes to get the dirt-free clothes or home you desire. When there is an all natural alternate way, which is also harmless to our fellow living things (not to mention to us as well), why not adopt that method? Soapnuts are the wonderful things God created to give you this option.

6. Okay, great! But how do I use Soapnuts???
That’s an easy one. There are so many different ways you can use Soapnuts depending on the amount of time and energy you have to spend on your cleaning mission. Here are a few ways to use Soapnuts:

Option 1: – Using Soapnuts as-is – The easiest and quickest way

  • Take about 10-12 whole Soapnuts (can be deseeded or with seeds; this measurement is for 6-8 kgs of clothes)
  • Put them in an old sock and tie the mouth of the socks tightly such that no Soapnuts can escape
  • Simple throw in this sock along with your wash load and run the machine on full soak cycle. Pls put it along with the clothes and not in the place provided for detergents. It’s not a problem if the sock stays till the drying cycle is complete.
  • Optionally, please add 100 ml of Bio Enzyme for disinfecting and softening the fabrics. Especially, when you have a lot of whites, Bio Enzyme is good to include.
  • After removing the clothes, remove the sock with the Soapnuts as well and keep it out to dry.
  • You can use it for one more time before opening up the sock and discarding the used Soapnuts. The Soapnut peels can be thrown into your compost bin while you can save the seeds for making seed bombs, seed jewelry or other activities or simply throw them into an empty plot. Alternatively, you can use the Soapnut peels to wash your vessels as well.
  • Please note that when using Soapnuts, you should not overload your machine. Also, when you have really dirty clothes, please pre-soak the Soapnut sock in hot/warm water for 15 minutes and then add the tea of Soapnut along with the Soapnut sock into the machine.

Option 2: – Soapnuts Liquid (works better than the whole pods at times so try both before you decide which one works for you)

  • Take about a 250-500 grams of Soapnuts. Soak it in 1 litre water for a few hours. You can also use Soapnut powder in the place of Soapnuts and follow the same procedure.
  • Heat up the water for 10-15 minutes till the water turns completely dark and the Soapnuts release all their surfactants. You may also simply pressure cook it for one whistle.
  • After the solution cools down, smash the Soapnuts in hand and ensure all the juices are extracted
  • Let it sit overnight
  • Next day morning, filter out all the solids. The resulting liquid is your All natural cleaning liquid which can be used as a floor cleaner, laundry liquid detergent, bathroom cleaner, tile cleaner, dish wash, etc, etc.
  • As we have boiled it, you will need to use it up within a week otherwise the solution may start smelling/fermenting.  Or  you can simply refrigerate it and use it as and when you need it. You may also prepare a large batch and freeze it. Alternatively, you can use Bio Enzyme and water to soak the Soapnuts instead of boiling them, keep it for a week, filter and use the liquid (it will have a really long shelf life as Bio Enzyme will act as a preservative so there would be no need to refrigerate).
  • For about 6 kgs of laundry, you will need 150-200 ml of Soapnut liquid. For one bucket of water to mop your house, you can use 50-100 ml of the liquid. Work with different quantities and see what works best for you.
  • The filtered out pulp can be used once or twice more to extract more Soapnut liquid. Once completely used up, they go to your compost bin.
Option 3: – Soapnut powder
  • Buy Soapnut powder. It’s not very easy to powder them yourself at home so pls don’t try.
  • Take about 2-3 spoons of Soapnut powder for about 6-8 kgs of laundry. Put the powder inside a thick cotton cloth/bag (NOT SOCKS) and tie the mouth tightly
  • Simple throw in this sock along with your wash load and run the machine on full soak cycle. Pls put it along with the clothes and not in the place provided for detergent. It’s not a problem if the sock stays till the drying cycle is complete.
  • Optionally, please add 100 ml of Bio Enzyme for disinfecting and softening the fabrics. Especially, when you have a lot of whites, Bio Enzyme is good to include.
  • After removing the clothes, remove the sock with the Soapnuts and discard the Soapnut powder into your compost bin.
  • Beware of the cloth bag coming apart and the powder spreading across all your clothes. It’s extremely difficult to clean up.
  • Also, the powder MAY dull your whites over time. If that happens, you can wash the Whites in hot water and Vinegar/Bio Enzyme.

Soapnuts also make a great hair wash along with Shikakai and other ingredients. You can explore many more recipes on the net to discover the various other uses of Soapnuts.

7. Okay, I am a convert! What else should I know about this wonder nut?
Cool, that’s awesome. I am happy! Here are a few things I can think of:

  1. Always try to buy that year’s harvest for more effectiveness
  2. Store them airtight and dry.
  3. If you find the Soapnuts you have bought are still too fresh and sticky, please ensure you sundry them well for 2 – 3 days. Otherwise, they will tend to catch fungus/green mold and the whole thing will get ruined quickly.
  4. If you are a power user of Soapnuts, you will end up with a lot of Soapnut seeds. You can put them in your compost bin – so save them for your children to make seed bombs or to play with. Or you can string them into a mala and use them to cleanse your aura (don’t ask me more details on that as am yet to find out more!)
  5. You can reuse the grey water from your floor wash/laundry/dish wash after using Soapnuts as it is all natural and will not harm your plants.
  6. Soapnuts also make great pest control. So instead of using synthetic soap in your pest control measures for your plants where you are required to emulsify neem oil, you can use Soapnuts and neem oil. Just a Soapnut water soak once a week will also help you keep out mosquitoes and other insects from your lawns and gardens.

Hope the above information helps you and you are able to make the switch to a chemical-free life as I have!

Author: Vaijayanthi

Vaijayanthi is a freelance business writer and full-time gardener. She coaches people on adopting a chemical-free lifestyle through her initiative called the Kaustubam for Sustainable Living Practices. She also conducts various physical workshops and training sessions on sustainable living and Gardening for children in Bengaluru through the initiative The Happy Child.

Various Whatsapp Groups.

Various Groups

As mentioned in your welcome message, there are various groups the core teams handles. Let share the it, as many parents are confused that we run many group, technically there are many group we do not own, to clarify I am share the group we officially support. They are 🌼 Aloevera 🌼 Brahmi 🌼Chandan 🌼 Amla 🌼 Tulsi 🌼Shatavari 🌼Turmeric

The above group is same where we discuss all holistic topics. Admins make sure any thing interesting from each other group is passed on to others. So you will not miss any action from other group. Since the parents are in large volumes, we created different groups.

Follow are specialized group with specific purpose, To join ping admins. these groups are
👉 Sanjevani group – This is a dedicated group of parents who only seek and offer blessing to each other. To join ping admins.

👉 A2 Milk group – This group is only for A2 users from A2 project and parents who are in waiting list for milk in A2 project. Here there is no discussion about the wisdom, it is only restricted to Accounts & Logistics of the project. solo admin.

👉 Nalla group – This group is a set of dedicated parents, who at a regular interval, use the ancient food ingredients to come up with new recipes. There is no discussion, But moving forward we are open for discussion, once they share the recipes with photo, we blog it. So that other parents who switch to natural / organic food can follow. Unless you contribute, do not join the group.

👉 Parenting group – few parents use this discuss about the next parenting blog, etc. we will add more parents into this group as the survey or based on their passion. You have to be a contributor here. This group is not about parenting discsion, rather, they come up with blogs, workshop etc.. for parenting that needs to feed into the group..

Support Group

Without this group the whole project, community of selfless service will fall. They are the foundation. If you like to join this group and contribute. Feel free to ping the admins.
👉 Accounts group – This is a group, where the team discuss about swp accounts & tracking, etc. This is group is the fuel for all projects. Amazing set of dedicated parents. To join ping @98732 50616 (Esha) @98943 92720 (Arty) and @98867 09180 (Sandhya)

👉 Parent Coordinators – This is a group has parent’s numbers at the blog, basically, they get calls from new parents to know about the group or swp, they usually talk to them in local language and help to understand our group and introduce them the whatsapp group.

👉 The Core Group – This is a mother of all group, all the FW are reviewed, administration related discussion and so on happens here. Currently this group is big with less active parents, we will soon reduce the size, and will add more active parents. to join – ping admins. You can be quite here, it is a committed group.

👉 Greenhands Group – This group is mother of Greenhands projects. Parent discuss in ways to improve this project. No products / support discussion. to join ping @Manikandan.

There are n number of small group created between parents for a specific purpose.

Understanding Baby Food

Granite State Whale Watch

Food for the baby is decided based on the agni the digestive fire which is the most important factor that determines the growth and nutrition of child

Agni indicates the capacity of digestion. It is necessary for the assimilation of nutrients. If the function of Agni is not proper then that will lead to number of health problems for eg colic pain, diarrhoea, skin rashes, food allergies, etc. Food allergies occurs mainly because of poor digestion, accumulation of undigested food and also because of the wrong combination of food. Often skin problems such as eczema and rashes are related to the above reason.

Breast milk -The best food

breastfeeding info graphic posterThe best food for baby is the breast milk.and the baby should be breastfed alone until  6 months and continue upto 2 years. During the period of breastfeeding the mother should be aware that whatever food she takes is transformed to breastmilk can influence the digestion of the baby. If there is undigested food  that is not evacuated from the mothers body then it may putrefy and become Aama (metabolic toxins)  and the breast milk also carries the Aama. This Aama may pass on to the baby which if again remains undigested in the baby’s food causes many health problems especially skin diseases for eg eczema.

The undigested breast milk can create colic pain, loose stools,constipation,distention, gas formulation in the baby.

As long as the  baby’s food is breast milk the treatment is given to mothers and not the baby

Babies are born with the potential of Agni, but their Agni is not yet functioning at birth.So its very important to understand the digestion of the baby.

Ayurveda suggests many formulations to improve the lactation and quality of the breast milk. It also suggests alternatives if breast milk is not available.

If the mother doesn’t have enough milk the baby can be fed with breast milk of another woman known in Ayurveda as Dhatri. But while choosing Dhatri lot of points are to be considered.

Again if this option is not available goats milk should be next choice. Goats milk is considered to be  best substitute for breast milk. Cows milk can be boiled with equal quantity of water with  herbs such  as bruhati and with sugar. Cows milk can be given to babies with Vata and pitta prakriti and goats milk for kapha prakriti.

Introduction to solids

The baby should be fed on breast milk alone until the teeth erupts..Once teeth erupts gradually solids should be introduced reducing the breast milk. Around 10th month Annaprasana samskar is conducted. The baby is made to taste the cooked rice few time the same  day.

Ayurveda says solids or cereals can be  introduced to baby after 6 to 12 months depending upon the baby’s appetite and  the liking of food. Initially solids should be introduced few teaspoons per day and then gradually increase the quantity. Also replacing with too much solids can cause drying up of breast milk.So its always advisable to start with few teaspoons. Breast milk can also  be used to dilute any of the other foods given.

First Baby food

Brother and sister
The ideal first baby food as suggested by all the text of Ayurveda are the cereals and grains.They are generally given as the main food to children.Cereals builds tissue strength and is easy for  digestion digest esp good for the budding Agni of a baby. Old rice, Brown rice, wheat ,barley or ragi are generally the first  cereals introduced to the baby. Barley water from whole grain is given in Chinese tradition from first week.

Brown rice or Navara rice is dehusked, fried and then cooked into thin gruel. Little bit of ghee and salt can be added to  this.Wheat and barley flour can be cooked and given same way.

Wheat esp the Samba variety are soaked overnight .The husk are removed and grains are ground with water .This ground mixture is strained through a cloth. This extract  is cooked with water and cows milk or breast milk .Sugar candy, ghee and dry-ginger can be added to increases the taste and flavor.

Traditionally malt preparations of ragi ,wheat are also given as first baby food.

These preparations generally can be mixed with breastmilk or goats milk or cows milk .Ghee ,sugar candies or palm candies are added to increase the taste. Also can be flavored with gentle digestive seasonings like dry ginger, elaichi, nutmeg powder.Using bit  of spices such as coriander, cumin, turmeric, hing can add taste to food along with helping the digestion of food.

Once the child is comfortable with the cereals  root vegetables such as carrot, beets or legumes  can be added to food. Beans and peas can also be gas forming unless properly prepared.

Dried raw banana powder is also one of the popular baby foods given 6 month onwards. Cooked fruits and purees of vegetables or fruits that are not acidic can be given. Fruits are helpful to prevent the constipation in child.

Depending on your culture, meat can also be introduced along with food around 12 months of age. Its better to start with with poultry, meat soups, then fish. Red meats are harder to digest for the little ones.

Ayurvedic preparation for babies

The Agni or digestive system of the baby needs time to adapt to each food introduced to digest.So it always advised to to keep one food for sometime until you are sure the child can digest it properly and go forthe next food.Different food mixed at the same meal even if given in pureed form can cause indigestion.

This is because the Agni (or enzymes if you like) needs to sort out the different foods in order to transform them, or digest them.

Ayurveda suggests preparations such as modakas that can be given to babies esp who are on solids to improve the digestion as well their immunity.They are given once teeth eruption begins and baby weaining is started.As the baby is given milk and solids chances for  indigestion is more and these modakas made of puffed rice and sugars with herbs is very useful

There are also numerous immunomodulatory formulations mentioned that are given as lehana  such as ghrita, choorna mixed with honey etc.

These medicines not only improve the digestion but also improves the immunity, strength, vital force of the child.They prepare the child physically and mentally healthy.They can be called as Ayurvedic vaccinations. Suvarnaprashan is the one of the most important formulation mentioned in text. This is prescribed especially for babies who are not breastfed enough and born not through natural birth (or cesarean sections).

Most importantly avoiding refined sugar, bottled juices, canned baby foods. Balanced food with proteins and enough fat keeps the baby’s digestive system proper state.

Following these simple steps can reduce the digestive, metabolic, respiratory problem for the infants and children as well improve their strength, immunity and memory of the children.

Eco-Friendly Natural hygiene practice

Organic and Natural native food and lifestyle is the new change in life. Now, it is time to go natural and eco-friendly with our hygiene practices.

Recently in our whatsapp group, parents where confused with what options to when it come to hygiene practice for women and kids. Though each parents found their own way, I wanted to share my own research and experience on this.

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children – unknown

This quote is very important, I have never forgotten it after I read it. As parents we are role models in every aspect. We need to teach our children how to respect the environment that we are gifted with. The below post is my small attempt.
Fact 1
Did you know a diaper takes more them 500 years to vanish from the face of earth & so is sanitary napkins. (similar time frames with our tooth brush) At the cost of our mother earth, we are enjoying comfort & hygiene while  burning our pockets.
Fact 2
What makes the urine or period to become a gel, it’s definitely a reaction to certain chemicals that cause this to happen right under our child’s private part.
Diapers are made of plastic, paper & sodium polyacrylate is mixed up with small amounts of acrylic acid, a leftover from the manufacturing process. In theory, acrylic acid in large doses could be harmful to a baby’s skin. But according to a 2009 report in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, there isn’t nearly enough acrylic acid in disposable diapers to raise concern. (The study was funded by Procter & Gamble, a major manufacturer of diapers.) Other side, sodium polyacrylate supplier should test the acrylic acid value and make sure it is less than 300 PPM (part per million).....(Picked from two web links).
Details: http://awesomebeginnings4children.com/the-harmful-chemicals-in-disposable-diapers/
Fact 3
Some studies show that male infertility & some kinds of cancer are because of the use of Diapers & Pads, though there is no validated proof of the same…
But are these not points for us to ponder ???
Read this article long back & why are we adding to it???
All the above reasons made me research about different products. Read to understand the products available. Quality and comfort differs for all so make your own choice after reading enough.
BUT REQUEST YOU TO PLEASE MAKE A SWITCH!!!
Reusable hygiene category list for women 
  1. Period Panty
    http://www.hygieneandyou.com/period-panty-an-auxiliary-sanitary-product/Need to use inserts and wear it like a normal panty can be washed and resused.
  2. Cloth pads
    http://www.hygieneandyou.com/buying-reusable-cloth-pads-points-to-be-considered/Can be worn exactly like how the disposable napkins are used, but can be washed & reused.
  3. Menstrual Cup
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Menstrual_cupIts made of silicon (best) or rubber  to be inserted in the cervix kind of similar to tampoon. Specially useful for women who are active in sports, heavy flow, lack of time and finally for sensitive skin.
Reusable hygiene products list for kids
****Have been using since my kids were 11 months in the night cloth diaper & day bloomers with cotton cloth. No diaper means no chemicals, no  diaper rash means no diaper cream, happy baby.
  1. All in one diaper (AIO) is like a normal diaper just strap it & use. It has a dry layer, built in inserts to soak the pee. It last upto 3 hrs max during the day. Once pooped in has to be changed immediately.
  2. AIO with pockets same as above but it has a pocket where you can stuff a lot of cloth or inserts and it last a bit longer then AIO. Both the AIO has a different kind if material that kind of keeps dry. Something like flannel material. These can be reused upto 150 times if maintained well.
  3. Shells are like Breathable plastic in which you can put loads of cloth and strap it & then change every two hours you can then take the cloth of wipe with wet wipe n use once more but no more then twice.
  4. You have different kinds of inserts or soakers that you can choose from which can be used inside the pockets or shells instead of using cotton cloth as absorbency is mote. Some soak more, some soak more and keep dry too.
  5. If all above options are costly, a cost effective option that I personally use during day is buy a few bloomers, tear cotton cloth & give it a shape of long rectangle pads and insert in bloomer, use & wash & reuse.
How to use
  1. Every diaper has a process to be followed before it’s first use, the website would give you details as the process vary a bit between products.
  2. Watch videos on how to strap them or it may leak with just one pee.
  3. If pooped in, throw the poop in the water closet rinse with a health faucet. Best part is now you are ready to  put these in your washing machine  do a rinse & spin cycle, then do a normal cycle with soap. Applies for all cloth diapers and bloomer option.How ever in my experience it is best to rinse it in warm water after every soap wash so that soap residue does not stay in the cloth as this would cause the diapers to stink slowly and absorbing capacity reduces.
  4. All washed and reusable stuff need to dry well in a dryer or under the sun and do a daily wash for hygiene & maintenance reasons.

Do share your experience and solution that worked for you at the comment or at the whatsapp group. this will help and motivate others to switch to holistic living.

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 freelance business writer and full-time gardener. She coaches people on adopting a chemical-free lifestyle through her initiative called the Kaustubam for Sustainable Living Practices. She also conducts various physical workshops and training sessions on sustainable living and Gardening for children in Bengaluru through the initiative The Happy Child.

5th Year Celebration of our Holistic Whatsapp Group – Awards

its 5 years, its time to share our gratitude to those noble souls who build this community with their bare hands.

When you start something new from regular life, call it a startup or group or passion. The first thing that you face is criticism, you have to walk the path alone, until you reach a milestone. At this junction you will attract more like minded people, then magic happens, the efforts proliferate from here.

In the last 5 years, countless parents, dr, healers did their little things to unmeasurable things to keep the community alive either by take up a task, or connecting us to right dot or motivating us or sharing their resources. It is time to go back in time and find those lovely souls, who deserves a big applause. Now is the time to say You are awesome!

It does not matter if they delivered or not, because, we believe in ancient script that says not to look for results. But we would like to appreciate their sincere efforts.

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Following are few souls nominated by core team and my own assessment. Moving forward we will do this ritual of thanking key parents every year.

👉 Dr. Lakshmy
For her committed service to arrange swp every month. When every dr in town is turning swp into outreach plan. She is someone who believed the cause.

👉 Ojas a.k.a Lakshmi
She did an extraordinary job in turning this group into a home-remedies platform in earlier days, single handedly managed all groups 24×7. Even now, she is part of various FB groups and whatsapp groups attracting like minded parents.

👉 Sri Nandhini
She was the first parent to broaden the whatsapp group into a parent-made home remedies. Later and till date, is part of every projects. Name it greenhands or Nalla group, her involvement at various level is inevitable.
👉 Manikandan
Needless introduction, for his commitment towards reviving indigenous food of india. First Male unmarried member of our group. 😉

👉 Divya
A committed parents who helped the group open into various dimension with her question of the day post and later she took charge of translation group. Till date, she and various parents have send many audio notes, translation etc. She is there at every level of the community project.

👉 Ananth
A parent who does all the odd and undoable task. His commitment at early stage of greenhands (manual invoice) and A2. is commendable. He is part of all most all projects for the community.

👉 Anusha
A parent who took an impossible task for talking to huge number of parents in our group to collect feedback. This data helped to make a strategic decision in maintaining the quality of the group. Needless to say, the first two webinars, and other projects.

👉 Priydarshini
She set a new benchmark for admins. In fact she is only person whom you can count for all old interesting post. Now she is a key part of this good cult.

👉 Rakhi
First parent who took responsibility of actually organizing the swp accounts. Single handedly she was maintaining the accounts in a stage when tracking parents was almost impossible. She did an amazing work in tracking parents who vanished from group to make sure they are committed to the cause.

👉 Arthy, Sandhya & Esha
Join the accounts team, we have till date never had a conf call. Yet, this is one group that was active and kept the project running till date.

👉 Yamini
Needless introduction, a parent who added immense knowledge of parenting and education into the group. Helped us by sharing some new ideas and feedback studying other groups related to special child & parenting. Beautifully capturing the moments into newsletter.

👉 Ishani
A committed parent with her expert tips on parenting, hand holding social media of SWP fb page. A parent who constantly looking to showcase our group at various external circles. She single handedly executed udaipur event in collaboration with round table, women’s circle and flern.

👉 Saranya
Current home remedies and receipe expert in our group. Always willing to experiment with new recipes and making sure parents query are answered with her home remedies.

👉 Suja & Sujitha
A parent would could jump on all ad-hoc project when needed and good admin who too stores most of the important notes.

👉 Anupama
Came up with a first social media plan for swp and gn projects.

👉 Tanushree
Came up with a plan to refine greenhands website. She along with few parents are doing to upscale the look for greenhands in terms of content and visuals.

👉 Neeraja
Not many know her, She almost completed swp accounts into an android app. Due to technological challenges we had to drop this 1 year of hard work. She and her husband also stepped into audio translation of siddha book at critical situation.

👉 Roopa
Needless introduction for her regular contribution of shlokas, stories to make our kids learn ancient language and implant spiritual thoughts in their mind.

👉 Anand
A parent who shared his healing wisdom with indian classical acupuncture and body-mind-spirit audio lessons.

👉 Savithri
A parent who handles all our youtubeing our video such as shlokas or anand ji’s lesson. Being in US complimented us in many ways, the work was happening around the clock.

👉 Vijaya Reddy
A humble spiritual parent, who did a great work in feedback team. Did a great contribution in eliminating 1 dangerous white, salt. It if because of her the salt donation project is running.

👉 Rajashaker
He is back bone to greenhands project. Without him, the greenhands would have stopped with Mani’s hard work and research would be in paper alone.

👉 Seethalakshmi
Parent contributed a lot of recipes in nalla group to promote the use of traditional food. In the earlier days, she did an amazing work to keep the greenhands project alive.

👉 Yazhini & Chitra
For regularly take up the translation work and delivering on time.

👉 Sri Ram
Parent who has home remedies for all most all basic illness. He regularly contributed herbal gardening blog.
👉 Hridya
Notably she identified rare ayurveda book and share it to dr lakshmy and team. An active parent in herbal gardening.

👉 Swati Tomar
A parent spend countless nights in designing swp information architecture of our blog. She also regularly keep updating good products in market into greenhands intelligence. A poser house of ayurvedic remedies.

👉 Tejaswini
Outstanding contribution in the earlier days of newsletter and content.

👉 Anusha Hemanth
High energy parent who would jump into any ad-hoc project. She also connected greenhands to various retails and export opportunity.

👉 Mahendra
He helped the team with proper custom made box to make sure the initial days chyawanprash was delivered to parents undamaged.

👉 Jerry
A parent who is broadcast, who till date supports us by making blue cap arka bottle.

👉 Smitha Ravi
For opening the door of parenting category in our blog. She did a brilliant job in patiently connecting all data over internet and consolidating it for other parents.

👉 Ruchi Gupta
She did a unique approach in helping greenhands promote in their community by putting up a stall in greenhands name and their value added products made by her. All she did without the knowledge of greenhands a gesture.

👉 Aruna
Oldest member and a dear friend, for her unconditional support for people who are in need with her NGO. Always a good connected to quality likeminded parents into our community.

👉 Amruta Zhope
She was kind enough to share her late grandfather’s diabetic herbal medicine to help other parents in our community.

👉 Ashwini Hanji
She went extra miles to source some of the natural food ingredients for greenhands’s experiment in native varieties. She also took daily extra time in early days to publish all home remedies in to blog. She used to work after school hours. (she is a CS teacher in KV)

There are many good souls in our group who made us what we are today.

Subhashita #12 – Shlokas For Our Daily Life

Anything that we do, we should show our gratitude to His holiness.

Here are the shlokas  which are to be chanted during our daily routine, from the time we wake up in the morning till we go to sleep at night.

 

Author: Roopa

By Roopa Prasanna I am a homemaker with two kids a son and a daughter aged 9 and 6 yrs respectively. I love telling stories to my kids. It has helped them to grow up better and they are more relaxed at the end of the day. My other hobbies are listening to music and reading. I have always believed our ancient wisdom holds the key to many of our questions. You can reach me at roopa.hebbar AT gmail.com

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 freelance business writer and full-time gardener. She coaches people on adopting a chemical-free lifestyle through her initiative called the Kaustubam for Sustainable Living Practices. She also conducts various physical workshops and training sessions on sustainable living and Gardening for children in Bengaluru through the initiative The Happy Child.