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  • 29 Mar 2021 9:50 PM | Anonymous

    By Smrithi Krishnaswamy, ISW Youth Reporter

    Holi has been celebrated in India for centuries, with poems and scriptures describing the festivities dating all the way back to 4th century CE. These age-old traditions are still celebrated around the world today. This year, Holi begins on March 28. The date changes every year, but it is always celebrated in March, because the Holiday corresponds to the 12th month of the Hindu calendar year.

    There are varying stories explaining Holi’s origin, mentioned in several works of ancient Indian literature. According to one popular version of the story, an evil king, named Hiranyakashyap, became so powerful that he forced his subjects to worship him as their god. However, the king’s son Prahlada continued to be a devotee of the Hindu deity Lord Vishnu. The angry king plotted with his sister, Holika, to kill his son. Holika, who was immune to fire, tricked Prahlada to sit in a pyre (fire pit) with her. When the pyre was lit, the boy’s devotion to Lord Vishnu allowed him to survive while Holika, who the festival is named after, was burned to death despite her immunity.

    The symbolism of the story and holiday is the triumph of good over evil, but the holiday means different things to different people. I spoke to a few family and friends to find out what Holi meant to them. According to one family, they regard Holi as a day to express their gratitude and love for one another and their good fortune. Another friend explained that it is also a celebration of spring, and the life that blooms with the change of seasons.

    The celebrations of the festival in India share similarities and differences to how it is celebrated here in the US. Here, families are limited to only celebrating in their homes with friends, but in India strangers and family alike celebrate by throwing packets of color powder (called gulal) at one another. Many families go to the temple and have a bonfire the day before Holi. On Holi, people generally wear white clothes but go home covered in all the colors of the rainbow. One tradition that does not change is the delicious food. Everyone eats a delicious meal with lots of sweets for dessert, regardless of living in India or not.

    Holi is a colorful celebration around the world and is quickly becoming a well-known holiday. It is wonderful to see centuries old traditions continue to live on. Holi is a celebration with an important message, and it was wonderful for me, someone who does not celebrate Holi, to learn more about this beautiful holiday. I hope you learned a little bit from this exploration too. Thank you for reading.

    Image credit: holi-mythology-min.jpg

    Photo credit: John Thomas on Unsplash
  • 29 Mar 2021 9:40 PM | Anonymous

    by Yash Chauhan, Freshman at Northeastern University, Boston

    Whether it be debating between taking the SAT or ACT or attempting to figure out the so called “formula” that admission’s departments use, the American college admissions process is already an overly complicated task. However, it is made far more difficult and strenuous when there is a lack of open communication between parent and student. This is especially true for individuals with parents who were brought up in India and, as such, are not as familiar with the American application process. In such a situation, the student should realize that when their parents ask them questions about certain aspects of the application, it isn’t due to them attempting to criticize the student or micromanage them, but usually just because they are genuinely curious about the process. Conversely, parents too should understand that this is a process that is primarily incumbent on the student. Although parents should always provide guidance and encouragement, they should never just take over. The skills that students develop during the application process will serve them well in the future, but only if parents let go a little and allow them to go through this experience. Even though parents should not take over, keeping an open dialogue throughout the process such as discussing what the family can afford, allows for students and parents to get the most out of the process while mitigating future conflicts. Finally, it is important to keep in mind that what matters more than where you go to college is what you do during your time there; so aim high, but remember that wherever you end up going, you still have the opportunity to accomplish great things.

  • 16 Mar 2021 1:01 PM | Anonymous

    by Neeta and Sandeep Shah   Rendition of Ode

    क्या बात बने, जो हम सब मिल जाए

    लहरें रुके और पत्थर हिल जाए

    कुछ साल पहले जो था एक छोटा सा ख़याल

    … आज सबके पसीने से बन गया बेमिसाल

    Kya baat bane, jo hum sab mil jaye

    lehare ruke aur patthar heel jaye

    kuchh saal pehale jo tha ek chhota sa khayal

    ... aaj sabke paseene se ban gaya bemisal

    हमने भी देखा था एक छोटा सा सपना

    यहाँ वुस्टर में बन जाए एक घर अपना

    जहाँ हो हर हफ़्ते दिवाली हर इतवार को रंगोली

    आके सब पंजाबी, सिंधी, गुजराती, मराठी, द्रविडी ... मिलके खेले होली

    Hum ne bhi dekha tha ek chhota sa sapana

    yahan Worcester mein ban jaye ek ghar apna

    Jahaan ho har hafte Diwali, har itwar ko Rangoli

    Aake sab punjabi, sindhi, gujarati, marathi, dravidi ... milke khele holi

    बच्चे आके सीखे बुज़ुर्गों से रामायण और महाभारत

    और सीता, मीरा, झाँसी जैसी भारत की महान औरत

    यहाँ अमेरिका के हम रहेंगे भारतीय BROTHER और SI-स्टर

    जय हो जय हो जय हो INDIA सॉसायटी ओफ़ वुस्टर

    Bacche aake sikhe bujourgon se Ramayan aur Mahabharat

    Aur Sita, Meera, Jhansi jaisi Bharat ki Mahan Aurat

    Yahan America ke hum ranhenge Bharatiya Bother aur Sister

    Jay ho Jay ho Jay ho India Society of Worcester.

    An English Translation

    Isn't it great that when we join hands,

    we can freeze the ocean waves and move mountains?

    What a few years ago was a small idea

    ... with all our efforts has turned into unmatched reality today

    We had a modest dream - to make our cozy home in Worcester.

    Where we could celebrate Diwali when we wish, paint Rangoli (colorful art) at will.

    And fellow Indians – from Punjab, Sindh, Gujarat, Maratha, Dravid (as in our national anthem)

    Could come together and play Holi (festival of colors)

    Our kids will come to learn from their elders, of the meaning of Ramayan & Mahabharat.

    And also, about Sita, Meera(bai), Jhansi, and other great and powerful women of India

    In the US we are bonded as India’s Brothers & Sisters

    ... Jai Ho Jai Ho Jai Ho (Long live) India Society of Worcester

  • 16 Mar 2021 12:47 PM | Anonymous

    ISW Events Proposed Dates

    Shiv Ratri - Actual date - 3/11/21 Saturday, March 20, 2021
    Collegeconnect/Let's talk! Keeping the lines of communications open Saturday, March 20, 2021
    Collegeconnect/College Essays Saturday, April 17, 2021
    ISW Art Competition Saturday, April 24, 2021
    Ram Navami - Actual date - 4/21/21 –  Sunday, April 25, 2021
    Kahoot game/South Asian solidarity/ Black civil rights movement Saturday April 10, 2021
    WEW Intelectual Multitasking: Connecting Passion to Profession  Thursday May 06, 2021
    Antakshari Prelim - Day 1 Saturday, May 8, 2021
    Antakshari Prelim - Day 2 Sunday, May 9, 2021
    Antakshari - Final Saturday, May 22, 2021
    Collegeconnect/College Financial Planning Saturday, May 22, 2021 11 am
    Graduation Satsang Saturday, June 20, 2021
    Collegeconnect/Standardized Testing Saturday, June 12, 2021
    No Fire Challenge (Culinary Art)  
    Collegeconnect/College process HS July TBD
    India Day Aug 6,7,8
    Collegeconnect/Negotiation Aug TBD
    WEW Summer Reflections: Travel, Reading, Gardening and Wellness  Thursday, August 19, 2021
    Janmashtami - Actual date - 8/30/21 –  Sunday, August 29, 2021
    Ganesha Idol Workshop (2 days) Saturday, August 28, 2021
    Ganesha Idol Workshop (2 days) Sunday, August 29, 2021
    Ganesh Utsav Sun, Sept 12
    Navratri Oct 8
    Navratri Oct 9
    Diwali – Actual date - 11/4/21 -  Saturday, November 6, 2021
    Worcester Art Museum Sunday, November 7, 2021
    Diwali Saturday, November 13, 2021
    Tower Hill Diwali Event Saturday, November 20, 2021
    Christmas Saturday, December 11, 2021

  • 16 Mar 2021 12:43 PM | Anonymous

    by Tharegha Manoharan

    On March 6th, Mrs. Usha Verma, Mr. Sathvik Sethi, Dr. Kamolika Roy, and Dr. Uma Chandrika Millner, mental health professionals and community advocates, joined Ms. Shubh Agrawal and Ms. Achint Singh in a conversation about mental health in South Asian communities.

    In many South Asian families, there is a common preconception that mental health is “not a problem” or their children were “just seeking attention”.  Despite the diversity of Indian cultures, the close-knit Indian community that is based on long lasting relationships places significant importance on societal opinions and undue emphasis on societal acceptance. As a result, when children approach their parents needing help, some parents feel fearful and are ashamed about what society might have to say. This idea of collectivism — or the practice of giving priority to a group over an individual forms the basis of stereotypes.

    Many families have moved to America in search of a brighter, better future for their children and next generations. Most have worked hard and sacrificed a lot to build a better life. So, when a child tells a parent about problems they are facing, some parents feel guilty about being inadequate providers. They wonder why their child is suffering despite what they have.

    Although there might be many reasons as to why one might go through stress, depression or anxiety, the pressure to succeed is much higher among the South Asian community. Because our parents may have worked really hard to get to where they are today, youngsters feel stressed about living up to those high standards. While the stereotype of South Asian students might be as “nerds'' or high achievers, that becomes a problem when society always expects you to fit that role.

    One important thing that everyone must not fail to understand is that you don’t need to be the best to be successful. You can have many flaws as we are human beings after all. But how you overcome your fears, how you treat friends and family will really determine what kind of person you are.

    In addition, there is a danger that people brought up in this culture think that “I need to tolerate suffering” or “I can’t change my circumstances” or “Someone else is having it worse, so I shouldn’t get help.” These are all dangerous mindsets.

    Unfortunately, there is also talk of invalidation when we seek help. In India, mental health might automatically mean going “crazy”. This might also be a reason for why South Asian parents might not be comfortable talking about these things. They might feel shame or guilt for their child’s thoughts. They might even tell their child that their feeling is “wrong”.

    Since mental health is not widely discussed in India, there is a good chance that parents genuinely do not know what to do in such situations. Seminars, like this one, are important as they encourage conversation within families. Normalizing talk about mental health should make people feel comfortable talking about it.

    Coming from India, we also sometimes fail to acknowledge that our culture, our religion, and our spirituality provides several solutions. The best therapy may be culturally congruent. By talking to people in our culture and religion may help in positive ways and lessen the likelihood of dropping out. Most importantly, by not addressing the issue, things could worsen and impact other aspects of your life. 

    As a community, we need to normalize situations and conversations around mental health. If we have a problem with our body, we find a doctor to help us out. We should treat mental health the same as finding a doctor if we have a problem with our thoughts and feelings. One must teach that there are no reasons or situations not to ask for help. The point of family and friends is to provide support for each other through tough times. If we are afraid of talking to our own family, then that defeats the purpose.

    You can click here to read a poem about this issue, Happy and Kind, by the author. 

  • 16 Mar 2021 12:20 PM | Anonymous

    by Tharegha Manoharan

    Good mental health,
    Is equal to having immense wealth,
    Because the happier we are,
    The more we can shine like a star.

    Happiness is not measured
    In the number of treasures,
    But the simple, full, feeling of satisfaction,
    After achieving a difficult action.

    Mental health should be treated,
    Just like physical, when it’s needed.
    There should be no excuse
    For anyone to recluse.

    The more we can help each other,
    The more we can understand one another.
    It’s important to reassure,
    And make sure everyone feels secure.

    In the South Asian community,
    There is a lot of opportunity.
    Everyone has come to the United States,
    Dreaming of the experience that awaits.

    No doubt that every, single person
    Has worked very hard,
    Praying their situation wouldn’t worsen
    When giving their future generation a wild card.

    Since mental health education,
    Is not widely talked about in the Indian population,
    The developed generation,
    Needs to learn to grow communications,
    And provide a foundation for unprepared situations.

    As there are many expectations,
    There should be an equal level of motivation.
    Giving less importance to reputation,
    And a freedom for imagination.

    Mental health needs to be,
    Talked about; in order to foresee,
    The possible hindrance,
    That might block off your brilliance.

    Conversations should become common in families,
    So that everyone can live their life without any negative mentalities.
    Normalizing these conversations,
    Will strengthen relations,
    And bring happier generations.

    As humans, we might
    Fight for survival of the fittest.
    And though this might seem right,
    Happiness itself is the treasure, and it is the richest.

    Asking for help is not weak,
    Because it will make you stronger and unique.
    Family will always support you,
    Even if they seem rough from the other view.
    After all, that’s what family is for,
    To lead, guide, and more.

    Our measure of success
    Should be measured
    By our happiness and kindness.
    Not in our company’s progress
    Or wealth in excess.

    Anything can be discussed,
    With the caring people around us.
    Problems should not be faced alone,
    Because people unknown
    Will often come running
    To help you become amazing.

    Society is built on expectations,
    But we should know our limitations,
    And not try to fulfill others’ aspirations.
    Although there may be fluctuations
    In your determinations,
    A good society will always aid.
    And no matter how afraid,
    Don’t feel outweighed,
    That's why family and friends stayed.

    Don’t let the pressure
    Get hold of your pleasure.
    If you need to talk,
    Those who were with you since you first walked,
    Will back you up,
    They’ll help you strive, they'll hold you up.

    So don’t worry,
    Or run in a hurry,
    Take time to enjoy the view,
    If it’s truly what you want to pursue.

    Don’t stress,
    You can still achieve success,
    As long as you are happy and kind,
    You are perfect, defined.

  • 16 Mar 2021 12:13 PM | Anonymous

    By Diya Sadhu

    Has life ever existed on Mars? That is the question asked by a host of scientists, particularly a team of them working on the Perseverance mission. This new initiative, established by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), is meant to explore the possibility that there was, or still is, life on Mars. It is particularly fortunate that technology has advanced to the point where cosmic robotic exploration can help scientists test this thesis on Mars, the closest planet with a substantial chance of life. 

    NASA’s Perseverance Rover accomplished its first drive on the surface of Mars on February 18, 2021. The world watched as it explored the Martian landscape- more specifically Jezero Crater. While this crater is one of hundreds on Mars, what sets it apart is that scientists believe it to have once held a body of water. The inflow and outflow channel surrounding the crater serve as evidence that the lake was once there- and that it was once filled to the top with water. Katy Morgan, the Deputy Project Scientist for this mission, claims that Jezero Crater contains “one of the most beautifully preserved delta deposits on Mars”. Not to mention it creates the ideal living conditions for a diverse set of microorganisms to survive. A combination of these factors made Jezero Crater the ideal landing site for this mission. 

    The NASA team worked tirelessly to improve their model in order to complete this important  mission. They updated Perseverance to accommodate new scientific goals such as  a new microphone feature. The microphone will add another of the human senses, of hearing, on another planet. Another updated feature of Perseverance, is its new-found movement.  Unlike its previous model, Curiosity, Perseverance can self-drive for up to 200 meters per day while simultaneously creating a map of the ground as the wheels drive over it. The crown jewel of these improvements, however, remains the drills. The chief engineer of the mission, Adam Steltzner, explains that these drills will collect samples of Mars, and use them as a target for their next mission. This way they hope to get the samples back to Earth by 2031- a gateway Steltzner claims could help scientists “unlock the secrets of Mars”. The rover will also be carrying a helicopter named Ingenuity for which this will be its first test flight. 

    This event breaks two records as it would be the first time mankind has flown an aeronautic machine on another planet as well as bringing back to Earth the only rock sample from Mars. Even though the rover has only completed a fraction of its entire mission, the team at NASA already considers it a massive milestone in humanity’s journey to explore Mars.

  • 1 Mar 2021 2:36 PM | Anonymous

    An exclusive interview with Desh Deshpande for ISW eSandesh
    By Ragoo Raghunathan

    Many small businesses and non-profit organizations are started by people with pure passion and a good heart. A few fortunate entrepreneurs see their ventures take off while many face daunting failures. Even successful ones often lack the operational experience needed to scale and establish their business; to take it to the next level. How does one approach and overcome these obstacles?

    I had the opportunity to talk to Dr. Desh Deshpande, a local entrepreneur and philanthropist who has been through this multiple times, to have him shed some light and impart his advice to our readers. Here is an excerpt from our conversation.

    Desh, you are a leader and philanthropist who has been very successful in doing this over the past many years. I wanted to have a quick chat with you to see if I can transfer a small piece of your experience and motivation to our audience.

    Let’s start with your transition from the academic world into your first significant job, can you share your thinking or mindset in making that change?

    Please click here view Desh’s Video answer.

    What are the top 3 things an entrepreneur should keep in mind after launch and preliminary success?

    • Establishing and communicating a compelling vision is very important. It helps you attract great talent, good board members and advisors. It will also help mobilize resources.  Doing anything meaningful in life is hard. You need to have a story that explains that while you are setting out to do something hard, it is well WORTH doing.
      • For example, Akshaya Patra stands for making sure that no child is denied education because of hunger. This is a very compelling vision that brings in a lot of people together to serve a worthy cause.
    • Building a cohesive egoless team that is open minded is particularly important. The organization must navigate through many challenges and hence a team that works together is key.
    • Being a good listener and listening carefully to customers is also very important.  Entrepreneurs are passionate people and love what they do.  However, success comes from customers loving what you do rather than you loving what you do.

    With respect to finding resources, how would one go about securing it? What are some things that have worked for you and others?

    • You need to clearly define mileposts that show that your effort has a chance to reach the promised land.  You must then manage your resources to make sure you reach the next milepost.  Showing success by reaching meaningful mileposts makes it so much easier to get additional resources and to fund your journey to the next milepost.

    When it comes to scaling operations and keeping up with the demand, what are some foolproof approaches to be taken?

    • Make sure that demand is real
    • Make sure that you have enough resources to deliver the goods and collect the payments to fund the next order
    • Make sure you have a well-rounded capable team that can execute

    What are some recommendations for adapting and pivoting when needed?

    • The reason to pivot is either what you are trying to do is harder than you thought, or no one wants what you are trying to do.
    • Being objective about carefully reviewing both these reasons is especially important before you decide if you should pivot.
    • If you do pivot, earlier the better.  As they say if you must fail, fail fast and fail small.

    Is running a nonprofit organization different from a for profit business? If yes, how do they differ? How are they similar?

    • Non-profit organizations energize the founder and everyone around them by the noble nature of the cause.  However, most of the time they lack resources and the talent to execute.
    • On the other hand, in the for-profit world there is a natural feedback loop. When a customer pays you more than what is costs you to make the product that confirms you are headed in the right direction.  This type of feedback is hard to get for non-profits.  Non-profits need to go out of their way to make sure that their beneficiaries are indeed benefitting from their efforts.
    • For example, Akshaya Patra does a fabulous job of being connected with their beneficiaries, the students. They make sure that they get a hot nutritious midday meal at school that they love. They serve local cuisine to children so that children really enjoy the food they are served.

    What are some tips to running a successful organization, be it for profit or non-profit?

    • Honesty, Integrity, knowing what you don’t know from what you know, ability to delegate and always keeping the team focused on the mission of the organization.

    Thanks for your valuable time and thoughts. Any last words of advice or encouragement for our budding entrepreneurs to keep in mind as they go through the different phases of establishing an organization?

    • The world continues to change rapidly in every aspect.  As the world changes, each of us have an option; either we lead the change or grudgingly accept the change.  An entrepreneur is the one who leads a change to make it a better world.  There will be plenty of opportunities for everyone to lead a change.  When you take on a challenge and make things happen, it is the most fulfilling feeling you can have in life.  I am sure most of you are driven and want to be a part of the positive change.  I wish you all the best.
    BTW you can view Desh’s interview with Aamir Khan referenced in the video clip on YouTube at:
  • 1 Mar 2021 1:56 PM | Anonymous

    by Tharegha Manoharan

    Click image to hear Tharegha read her poem

    The great Mt. Rushmore,
    Is open to take more.
    The 7th president, Andrew Jackson,
    Now needs an action.

    Shall he be added?
    Or is it considered invalid?
    Shall he stay?
    ‘Cause how can he be on display?

    All of em’,
    Are white rich men,
    Again, and again.
    Can’t there be anyone else?
    Many in our great nation have acquired progress,
    And their paths are unique ways to attain success.

    Such as Martin Luther King Jr.,
    To Susan B Anthony, Maya Angelou,
    And many more, thought to be losers,
    Who took the impossible, and pursued.

    But, back to our question,
    Is Jackson a worthy suggestion?
    Does the man who not only owned slaves,
    But also traded them, and sent them to their graves,
    Deserve a monument among our nations’ braves?

    Although some may admire his victory,
    And affectionately call him “Old Hickory”,
    Those who lost their culture, dignity, family, and entire life,
    Forever call him the “Sharp Knife”.

    The only reason they agreed,
    Was because they thought they would get something in return,
    For them to succeed.
    There was voluntary Indian migration,
    But only a small number were in cooperation,
    As they were expected to a move to a new location.

    In 1823, the Supreme Court,
    Decided on a report,
    Claiming the Indians could occupy US lands of gems,
    However, they could not be entitled to them.

    The Cherokees decided,
    That in order to save what was left of their land,
    They needed to be undivided,
    And not follow the government’s demand.

    They tried to resist,
    In hope their nonviolent strategies,
    Could help them coexist.
    Large-scale farming, slave holding, and Western education,
    Were all things they tried to help a new generation.
    But this just made their white friends
    Jealous and resentful, and wanted their ends.

    In 1830, President Jackson,
    Took an action,
    That caused dissatisfaction.

    He pushed a new piece of legislation,
    Which was a regulation,
    Allowing him to negotiate removal treaties,
    The Indians saw as greedy.
    He compelled Indians to give up their lands to their unwanted guests,
    And move West.

    Although this was all supposed to be voluntary and peaceful,
    Because of their love of their land, the Indian people,
    And Jackson persistently insisted.

    As the people’s culture was in subsidence,
    Believing they were children in need of guidance,
    Jackson took on a role that was patronizing and paternalistic,
    Making them believe this change was optimistic.

    Removal could save them,
    From the depredations of the whites.
    They could go to a new area,
    And not suffer from malaria.
    They could govern peacefully,
    And live on successfully.

    For the next 28 years,
    The United States government interferes,
    And southeastern nations are in tears.

    Many of the tribes refused,
    The Seminoles believed their treaty was bruised.
    This lead to war after war,
    And at the door,
    The US had to pay the remaining to ignore,
    And move on towards the West shore.

    The Creeks were forced out,
    Because of the problems about.
    The Chickasaws were tricked,
    With a treaty in conflict.

    All in all,
    The US recalls,
    They kicked out 46,000 Native people from their land,
    To the 25 million acres in the West,
    Which opened up white settlements, slavery, and more stress.

    With all these major problems,
    Caused by the US government’s wobbly columns,
    None other than Andrew Jackson,
    Who definitely does not deserve attraction and more,
    Fails to be part of the majestic Mt. Rushmore.

  • 1 Mar 2021 1:45 PM | Anonymous

    Aavjo, Au  revoir, Auf Wiedersehen

    Most languages are quite abrupt when it comes to an end of a relationship, even a temporary one.  The words used are good bye, salaam ale kum, see you, till then.   A few like French, German and my mother language Gujarati imply that we’ll meet again for sure.

    It was the pandemic that made it difficult and somewhat laughable that I could not go to the bank to deposit a few checks that had accumulated in my wallet. I was angry, upset and wondering how I got myself into this situation. After a period of self-isolation, I saw the humor in it, and questioned why I let myself feel so miserable about it anyway. So, I wrote an article about the incident from that angle. A few people read it and that encouraged me to talk to the eSandesh publishing team, part of our own ISW.   They published it in the eSandesh newsletter and encouraged me to continue writing and contributing as often as I could.

    That was more than eight months ago. Now I have found it harder to come up with new topics and with just a handful of stories left, I decided to take a break. As I said before, Aavjo in Gujarati means “Come back” and I hope I will.

    With that I am also inviting the writer in you to let loose your thoughts and let your pen fly over the paper, or is it mouse and keyboard?  Get in touch with the ISW editors and give them some of your work. They are very encouraging and helpful. Let the writer in you come out and make new friends.

    So  …   Aavjo for now.

    Pravin Trivedi

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