india week

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My Time Studying in India

As part of India Week, Medicine student Somasundaram Rajasundaram describes their experiences of living and studying at Manipal University in India.

"It was early September of 2009 when I finally received my tickets from the government of Seychelles. I was to leave for India in a week to study Medicine at Manipal University (above). Although I'm of Indian origin, it didn't help much in the initial phase of settling down.

The first thing that hits you in India is the general state of pollution, dust and the suffocating heat. Gradually a tolerance develops, but not without a couple of attacks of the flu.

Studying in India

The workload is immense, straight from day one. It taught me a lot about time management. The Indian education system places a lot of emphasis on raw memory, but thankfully my university also gives equal importance to application of the acquired knowledge. A hands-on approach is the buzzword these days, and for me that meant we actually got to learn human anatomy on a cadaver- something most other medical schools can't afford to put in place. Teaching and lecturers in general are of the highest order, with dedication like no other.

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Happy Holi: The Festival of Colours

Today in India, people are celebrating what is probably the most colourful festival in the world- Holi. Indeed, the festival, which marks the beginning of Spring has even taken on the name the Festival of Colours.

Though traditionally a Hindu festival, the sheer fun of it attracts Indians of all religions, and huge numbers of tourists, to join the celebrations each year. Large crowds gather throughout the country before people begin to hurl gulal (coloured powder) around, roaming the streets and celebrating with others. Buckets of rang (or coloured water) are thrown over passers-by, as people of all ages and social status join the celebrations.

However, there is also still a religious context to the festival, with devoted Hindus praying for days in their temples, often whilst covered in multi-coloured paint themselves. You can get an idea from the pictures in the video below of the scale and colour of the festival.

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Yoga Adventures in India

As part of India Week we are celebrating Indian Culture, Tradition and Life today. Here yoga instructor Adam Olivestone describes his amazing experiences of studying yoga in India. 

"India had always been one of those places that was on my list of ‘must-go-there-one-day' but honestly speaking, the fact that it's not known as being the easiest place to travel in, to put it mildly, as well as the guarantee from nearly everyone I'd met who'd been there - ‘If you go to India you WILL get sick', was enough for it to remain on the back burner. But then I got into yoga.....

I'll spare you the boring, indulgent details of why yoga had become a big part of my life but suffice to say that several years working in advertising was enough to drive me to look for something to alleviate the stress and spiritual turmoil I found myself in. After trying many different classes around London and further afield, Ashtanga yoga was the one that seemed to stick.

Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga or ‘Eight limbs' is a system of yoga based on the writings and philosophy of the ancient Indian sage Patanjali. It was popularised in the West in its current form by Sri K Pattabhi Jois, who passed away in 2009 and whose family continue to run the main Ashtanga school in Mysore, India.

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The Cobra Foundation

Chairman of the Cobra Foundation, Patrick Shervington MBE, explains the work of this charity that has deep roots in both the UK and India.  

"In 2005, to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the establishment of Cobra Beer Limited, Karan Bilimoria, founder of the company, resolved to form a charitable trust. Its objectives are defined as follows:

Cobra Foundation is an independent charity, registered in the United Kingdom, providing health, education and community support for young people in South Asia, especially through the provision of safe water. Our charitable objectives include giving help with Disaster Relief in the Region.

The Region extends from Afghanistan to Burma or Myanmar and includes the core countries of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, together with Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Nepal.

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Indian Tea Tasting: Bombay Chai

For India Week, we will be trying a different blend of Indian Tea every day of the week and giving our own opinions of it, as well as a little of the history. Today's tea is Bombay Chai.

Day Three of our little journey through Indian teas has brought us to Bombay Chai. Bombay Chai is a little more complicated than the Darjeeling and Assam of the first two days of the week. Instead of coming from just a single type of tea plant, it is a blend of black teas (yesterday's Assam included), which is then infused with cinnamon, clove, cardamom, ginger and black pepper. All of which gives it far stronger and spicier flavour than any normal tea.

Generally drank with milk and sugar, the strong flavours of the spices are softened and made gentler by the milk. Equally, the sugar adds a further flavour into the already complicated mix with its sweetness, but its all works well together.  

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