Religious Festivals & Conditioning

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From the desk of Dr Nandita Shah

Dassera celebrations have just conculded. This festival symbolises the triumph of good over evil. Here in Tamil Nadu where I live, every household broke an ash gourd and smeared it with vermillion. They did a puja, enjoyed sweets. And then life continued as usual. No evil was vanquished, there was no more good than before, nothing changed. Millions of people and animals continue to suffer from starvation. Yet the food that could have been eaten by many is wasted by the masses and intelligentsia alike in the name of puja. I noticed cows in my neighbourhood snack on the gourds with the poisonous vermillion. How many of us stop to think that this is the same poison we consume when we have their milk? Disease is flourishing.

Rituals are a result of conditioning. Not many of us bother to look into the meaning behind these rituals. These are not just rituals of religion, but rituals of everyday living. The ancient wise men predicted Kaliyug. And despite an accurate description of all that will happen, the followers were unable to stop it. This is symbolic. Today, evil is rearing its head all around us – in the form of diseases, adulteration of foods, unethical practices, rapes, murder, money grabbing, climate change and more. The need of the hour is a determined paradigm shift. Each one of us have the power to change our destiny – all it requires is for us to become mindful thinkers instead of mindless followers.


Be Mindful of your Mind

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This easy to prepare and delicious salad is truly nourishing and satisfying. You can also choose to change the ingredients according to the vegetables in your kitchen. And do be mindful – try and get organic vegetables, seeds, dal and salt for your dish!


  • 1 cup grated carrot

  • 1 cup grated cabbage

  • 1 cup soaked yellow moong dal

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • 1/2 lime juice

  • 1/4 cup grated coconut

  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds

  • a few curry leaves

  • pinch asafoetida

  • finely chopped green chilies or whole dry red chilies as per taste (optional)

  • coriander for garnish (optional)


Dry roast the mustard seeds, curry leaves and red chilies if you are using them. Turn off the stove and add asafoetida. Add it to the rest of the ingredients, and serve.


Add steamed corn kernels

Pause to Ponder


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Caught up in Life?

Let’s face it, most of us are guilty of seeking fleeting pleasures rather than inner happiness and sustained fulfillment. We are caught up in the routine of daily life, looking for instant gratification. Too many of us are equally clueless about what we want, and are too scared or unwilling to step out of our comfort zones to find out. We don’t want to be different from others yet we want something different from what we have. No surprise then that our problems visit us time and again with alarming similarities. There is a solution to this – we can overcome this stagnant state of mind with just a little effort, just a little thought. 

Here are a few pointers on how we can make that shift:

1. Before you eat anything, be mindful

Is it good for you? Will the pleasure be worth the effects on your health? When we are hungry, our body seeks nutrition. Nutritionally deficient food products are made addictive to make you buy more.

2. Before you say anything, be mindful

Is it true? Are you absolutely sure it's true? And even if it is, will it be beneficial to anyone if you say it? Some things are just not worth saying!

3. Before you do anything, be mindful

Are you doing it because you believe you should do it? Are you doing so to please others or because of other people's expectations? Do you really believe that it should be done?

4. Before doing a puja or a religious practice, be mindful

Is this practice really meaningful to you? Will it be harmful to anybody else or any other creature on the planet? Is it of value to the earth, our only home? Are you doing it because it has been done for centuries by our ancestors? Are you living exactly the way they lived? If some things can change, why not others?

5. Before making life changing plans, be mindful

Why are you getting married? Is it because everyone else is or is it because you really desire to live with your partner for the rest of your life? Are you lonely? Is it something else? Make sure the reason is worthy of the action. Your desire to have children – is it because everyone else is expecting you to? Or you have this urge to prove your fertility? Is it a biological need to have a child? What will the child's future be in this rapidly changing world? Irreversible actions need a lot of forethought. 

6. Before choosing a vocation, be mindful

Most people spend more than half their waking life at work. If you are doing something that you don't believe in, it will ultimately make you unhappy. If you refuse to accept anything except what you believe in, you will very often get it. You may sacrifice money, fame, or even respect in the eyes of others, but you will know that you have made the right choice.

7. Before buying something new, be mindful

Almost everything that you buy except edibles will clutter your home or environment and remain on this planet for a very long time. We are destroying nature and our planet with garbage. Cluttering cupboards also clutters the mind. Our needs are so few yet our desires are so many. If you have things you don't need, give them away so that somebody else does not have to buy them, so that yet someone else can produce less of them. Your reward? Travel lightly through life!

8. Before believing something, be mindful

Re-examine all the possibilities. A lie repeated often enough takes the form of truth in our minds. We are living in this paradigm because we have bought so many lies. We believe dairy is healthy, or that education is vital or that medicines are a necessity because we have been told this over and over again. Stop to question all your beliefs.

9. Before taking a holiday, be mindful

Is this holiday going to be beneficial for you? We all need change, and travel is fun, promotes learning and relaxation. But we often taking holidays for the wrong reasons – boredom, fantasy, to be seen. Don’t lose the chance to learn something new and do something valuable in your free time! And if you can learn to enjoy every minute of your life, your whole life, even your work can be like a holiday!

This newsletter was compiled by SHARAN Associate Reyna K Rupani, who is based in Mumbai. She facilitates the Six Weeks to Health & Weight Loss program and also conducts health talks for schools, groups, corporates and more. Find out how she has benefited in so many ways by going on a whole plant-based diet here.

Sanctuary for Health and Re-connection to Animals and Nature (SHARAN) is a non-profit organisation with the goal of spreading awareness about holistic health and an ecologically sustainable compassionate lifestyle.

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