30 Mosques 2011

This year the 30 Mosques guys–Aman Ali and Bassam Tariq–continued their annual Ramadan journey that started out in NYC in 2009 and expanded across the USA in 2010. The duo is celebrating Eid after wrapping up their 2011 Ramadan travels that took them to mosques and Muslims around the nation. If you’re celebrating too, I wish you and your family a joyous holiday. Eid Mubarak!

Watch the full episode. See more PBS NewsHour.

In their PBS interview with Hari Sreenivasan, Tariq described the 30 Mosques trip as an opportunity to see how people are living the religion of Islam. Ali highlighted a Muslim community in San Francisco called Ta’leef Collective that impressed him with its inclusive attitudes and “come as you are” philosophy. Continue reading

That’s Santa Singh to you …

Always remember, as you track Santa’s travels around the world, that Santa is South Asian.

Yes, we’ve posted this before, but I’m going to post it every single year on Christmas Eve.

Seriously, how many of y’all believed in Santa? My parents never pretended he existed, and my classmates all knew better. We had no chimney, no fireplace, and I knew there was no White Man keeping track of whether I was naughty or nice. Whole thing made around as much sense as the Easter Bunny. Were you a Santaphile growing up? If you’ve got kids, do you want them to believe? Continue reading

Passing down vanishing skills during Thanksgiving

I think I probably speak for many of us second generation South Asian Americans when I say that Thanksgiving, as much as it is a holiday for spending time with family, has also become a race-against-time once-a-year cooking clinic. There are a great many tasty dishes and culinary techniques that are disappearing in diaspora communities at the same rate as endangered species and languages. Packaged foods, restaurants, and fusion creations are replacing good old-world home cooking. There are a number of techniques I recommend to combat this trend. First, get a Google Voice account. Ask your mom or dad to call the Google Voice number and hit the digit “4” to record. That way, when they tell you that recipe for the 100th time, you won’t have to worry about forgetting it. If you are at home this Thanksgiving then you can also set up one of those simple, pocket-sized digital movie cameras and record what is going on in the kitchen (like your mom telling you that you are rolling the velan incorrectly). Finally, PRACTICE. You might mess it up 10 times but on that 11th try hit the sweet spot and trigger a flood of memories.

I took my own advice and set up a video camera in our kitchen yesterday. I learned to roll parathas and then flipped them to my brother to cook up.

Continue reading

We vish you a Merry Vishu and a Happy New Year!


Okay, full disclosure: I have no idea whether my title is inapposite or borderline offensive. If it IS either of those things, I apologize in advance. I was just trying to be cute while exposing my lack of knowledge for a good cause– learning more about Vishu! There is no better way to understand something than to admit my ignorance to all of you. Because if there is one thing I have learned over these past six (!) years at the Mutiny, it is that when I mess something up I will be corrected by commenters and trolls alike, faster than my Dad could say, “Edi, MANDI!” back in the day.

Could I have looked Vishu up instead of harassing all of you? Sure, but how much can one read about the unknown without one’s eyes glazing over? But just to prove I Googled it, here’s the obligatory blockquote from Wiki:

Vishu is a festival celebrated in the state of Kerala in South India. The same day is also celebrated as New year in several other parts of India such as Punjab (Baisakhi), Assam (Bihu), Tulu Nadu region in Karnataka where it is known as Bisu as well as in Tamil Nadu. The festival marks the first day of Malayalam Year and falls in the month of Medam (April – May). Vishu generally falls on April 14 of the Gregorian calendar…”Vishu” in Sanskrit means “equal”…

Although Vishu (first of Medam) is the astrological new year day of Kerala, the official Malayalam new year falls on the first month of Chingam (August – September). However, 1st of Chingam has no significance either astrologically or astronomically. Chingam is the harvest season in Kerala and southern parts of coastal Karnataka.

The most important event in Vishu is the Vishukkani, which literally ” the first to be seen on the Vishu day”. The Vishukkani consist of a ritual arrangement of auspicious articles like raw rice, fresh linen, golden cucumber, betel leaves, arecanut, metal mirror, the yellow flowers konna (Cassia fistula), and a holy text and coins, in a bell metal vessel called uruli in the puja room of the House. A lighted bell metal lamp called nilavilakku is also placed alongside. This arrangement is completed the previous night. On the day of Vishu, the custom is to wake up at dawn and go to the puja room with the eyes closed so that the Vishukkani is the first sight of the new season.

According to that entry, Vishu is bigger in Northern Kerala. My family is from South-Central. I wonder if that’s part of why I’m so ign’ant about Vishu…or if it’s the whole “Christian” thing. No matter, I’ll happily welcome any excuse to consume more Mampazhapachadi. I looooove eating pachadi, especially if it’s Paavakka-based. With tortilla chips. DON’T JUDGE ME.

So what inspired my whirlwind interest in Vishu? This:

Jinal.jpg Continue reading

Valentine’s Day Shararaten(Shenanigans)

Happy Belated Valentine’s Day, mutineers. Hope you lovely folks got all the flowers, chocolates and cards you deserve. I was doing a little post-celebratory research tonight on Valentine’s Day and came across a couple of interesting facts I thought you folks might like to learn a la our good friend, Wikipedia. For instance, did you know that American men spend twice as much money on Valentine’s Day than women? And that in Paris, there was a ‘High Court of Love’ established on Valentine’s Day in 1400 that dealt with crimes against women? And that the judges for that court were picked by women, based on their love poetry? Oh yeah, and finally did you know that in India, Hindu fundamentalists highly discourage the celebration of Valentine’s Day? Of course you do, you read SM. We’ve covered that in the past. Not to worry, Shiv Sena continued its anti-Valentine’s Day diatribes this year, although they were a little distracted. So many grievances, so little time… what’s a violent protestor to do nowadays? It’s gotten so there’s too many effigies to burn.

With most of their aggressive workers identified and picked up by the police ahead of the release of My Name Is Khan, Shiv Sena members have admitted that their annual Valentine Day protests will likely be low-key, if they happen at all.

Every year, Sainiks denounce the concept of Valentine’s Day and warn couples against celebrating it, but this year, they say, the agitation against Shah Rukh Khan and his movie are of more immediate importance. [Link.]

Perhaps they’ve turned their sights to virtual protests? Alongside the other factoids on Wikipieda, I came across this interesting new poster, which was uploaded on Wikipedia’s ‘Valentine’s Day’ this past Saturday. I thought SM readers would find it as amusing as I did. Continue reading

Okay, Who Burned the Turkey?

Chaos. Every year my mother’s family in New Jersey carefully plans out a Thanksgiving Day menu and every year, without fail, everything falls apart. Today, I came in to find my 21-year old cousin in his pajamas, frying chicken and cursing up a storm. Beside him lay a pan of meatloaf, his entry in the informal cook-off between him and my little brother. (They both always win.) Moments later the smoke alarm rings out, someone’s casserole is burning. A burning smell fills the air. The sound sets the eight cousins under the age of 10 into a tizzy, they swarm around the kitchen like vultures. One pokes a finger into the gravy, another prods a pie. But they are easily lured away by the promise of another opportunity with the new puppy. Two hours later – and half a dozen near-mishaps later – the food is ready to serve 30+ hungry people. Turkey. Biryani. Mashed potatoes. Halwa poori cholay. Green bean casserole. Your typical desi Thanksgiving. Correction. Our typical desi Thanksgiving. Continue reading

The Eidie Goat

GOAT.jpgEid Mubarak, Mutineers! There are two Eids that Muslims celebrate, one marks the end to a month of fasting and another marks the end to pilgrimage to Mecca, called Hajj. Today we celebrate the latter one, Eid-al-Adha. This Eid in particular is the one where a sacrifice is supposed to be made of a goat or cow (the meat is to be eaten later and donated), in remembrance of the story of Ibrahim being asked by Allah to sacrifice his son and his son being replaced by a goat.

It was for this reason, my friends and I joked around about how we needed an Eid goat. Easter has the bunny rabbit, Christmas has Santa Claus. But growing up as a Muslim kid in the U.S., we didn’t really have anything equivalent. I was always told Eid was my version of Christmas, but then, why did all the other kids get presents and we didn’t? As we got older, it seemed like the Eid goat would have been the perfect solution.

Thus, I had already goats on my mind when maitri tweeted the following “I Want a Goat” video [NSFW]. It’s promoting a program, I Want a Goat, where you can design and donate a goat to a village in India. The modern twist is that this video has hipster charm splashed all over it.

I realize the tie between this video and Eid is tenuous at best. I found the the song amusing and the cause seems legit. The project was started by a woman Debbie who volunteered in the village for seven months and saw a similar program run successfully in India. For only a $20 donation, you will be donating a goat to a village in Koraput. Why goat?

For tribal people who are landless, raising goats is a great alternative source of income. Families who breed goats can earn a good profit selling the kids in the local market. The extra income provides a safety net for families that can be used for things like medicine, food during lean periods and farm equipment. Continue reading