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South China Sea Dispute Overview

The South China Sea covers an area of 3.5 million square kilometers. The sea is considered a strategic area militarily and economically. According to various measurements and assessments, there are huge oil and gas deposits below the sea.

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The Belt And Road Initiative (BRI) is the updated name of the One Belt One Road (OBOR). The initiative is further bifurcated into two: the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st century Maritime Silk Road. The former is land-based and refers to the “belt” that connects China with Central Asia, Eastern, and Western Europe. The latter is sea-based and refers to the “road” that connects China with South-East Asia, Central Asia, and Africa.

Chinese New Year Overview

Chinese New Year—often termed as Lunar New Year—is considered as one of the most important vacations for Chinese people.

Chinese Year, unlike the beginning of a New Year devised on the basis of Gregorian Calendar, signifies the beginning of a New Year in the traditional Chinese calendar.

According to the Chinese calendar which dates back to over 4,000 years, the fourth edition marks the Year of the Pig. A bit about the arrival of the Chinese New Year falls the commencing of the crop cycle, which signals the completion of the winter and a signal to welcome a new season.

Compared to the Gregorian Calendar which works on the principles of the solar calendar, Chinese New Year takes traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar into account, whose dates symbolize both the time of the solar year as well as the phase of the moon.

The dates of the two calendars vary as Lunar months falls short by two days with respect to the magnitude of Solar month. To close the gap between the two calendars, at every few years, a month is added to the Chinese calendar.

Because the Chinese New Year depends on lunar calculation, there has been designated no fixed value for the inauguration of a fresh start, i.e., the New Year, but it mostly falls between 21 January and 20 February.

The Chinese New Year represents the moving away from the previous year and stepping in the new lunar year, with doing good in health, prosperity, happiness, and fortune.

It’s a time that the entire nation collectively celebrates with a notion to catch up with the ups and downs of family members, celebrate fireworks, share gifts, and enjoy good food.

Chinese new year celebration
Chinese New Year celebration

Chinese New Year signifies breaking those chains associated with the old year that held one back and open the window of freshness to welcome good fortune and a ton load of luck.

With Chinese diaspora presence across the globe, the Chinese New Year is celebrated not just in Asia but all over the world.

According to the Chinese Zodiac, which consists of 12 animal signs, each new year tallies with one of those 12 animals. The 2019 Chinese New Year is the Year of the Pig and will continue for 15 consecutive days—out of this period, the initial two or three days of the festival are granted as a public vacation in China and differs from country to country in the different parts of the world.

Chinese New Year zodiac
Chinese New Year zodiac (credit: Jakub Hałun)

How long is Chinese New Year? A complete day-by-day decode of 15-day Chinese New Year Activities

Chinese New Year – Day One (New Year’s Eve)

Activities

  • Celebrating the Beginning of the Year
  • Welcoming guests with sweet treats and tea
  • Eat Dumplings
  • Reunion Dinner
  • Set off Fireworks and Firecrackers
  • Distribute Red Envelopes
  • Stick Spring Festival Couplets
Chinese new year food
Dumplings for the Chinese New Year dinner

Message

The first day fills the Chinese people with a sense of a new start and dumping the old ones. It brings a message of hope refreshment, wealth increment, happiness, and prosperity.

Chinese New Year – Day Two

Activities

  • Visit the wife’s family
  • Eat wonton
  • Pray to the ancestors and gods
praying to the ancestors
2nd Day, praying to the ancestors

Message

For married men, this day is devoted to visiting and meeting the married women’s parents. Married women visit their birth parents to pay respect and distribute gifts.

Chinese New Year – Day Three

Activities

  • Stay at home
  • Relaxing

Message

On the third day of the New Year, Chinese people avoid moving out. They believe in the ideology that the third day is generally an unlucky day, and it gives rise to quarrels and disputes, so they avoid meeting outsiders such as relatives and friends.

This is superstitious though. In fact, after a busy two-day celebration, they like to relax and prepare for the next day adventures.

Day Four

Activities

  • Worship the Gods
  • Big dinner preparation

Message

This is a day believed to be as when Gods of food and wealth descend from heaven to visit earth. Especially for entrepreneurs, this day is of prime importance as they try to impress and win favor with the Gods.

Chinese gods
Pray to the gods

On this day, people prepare for a big feast and the main dishes are three types of meat—fish, pork, and chicken—along with fruits and alcohol.

Day Five

Activities

  • Break Taboos
  • The celebration of the birthday of the God of wealth
  • Cleaning, sweeping and emptying the trash
  • Eat Dumplings

Message

On this day, breaking the taboos, people clean the shreds of firecrackers-produced red papers and empty the trash. It’s the day on which they celebrate the birthday of the God of wealth. To welcome this God, people open the windows and doors shortly after midnight.

Day six

Activities

  • Discard all the rubbishes present in the house
  • Say goodbye to the ghost of poverty
  • Throw away old clothes and stuff

Message

After welcoming the wealth of God, on the sixth day, people clean their houses and discard all old clothes and stuff that are no longer functioning and only occupying space. They clean all areas of the house, including garage and storerooms.

Day Seven

Activities

  • Birthday of Human
  • Eat longevity noodles
  • Eat healthy foods
  • Go back to work

Message

On the seventh day, people celebrate the birthday of the human. They commemorate Nu Wa who is considered having separated earth from the heaven and the creator of the humans, using yellow clay. They prepare seven types of vegetables and rice to make porridge, to celebrate the birthday of humans.

Chines New Year gods
Nu Wa, Chinese creator goddess

Day Eight

Activities

  • Celebrate the birthday of rice

Message

Chinese people find it important to share with their children that from where most their food comes. So, they visit the nearby farms and fields with their children, to educate them about the significance of rice, the staple food of China.

Chinese people find it important to share with their children that from where most their food comes. So, they visit the nearby farms and fields with their children, to educate them about the significance of rice, the staple food of China.

Day Nine

Activities

  • The celebration of the day of Jade Emperor

Message

They sacrifice a chicken in the honor of Jade Emperor. Feasting and offerings are also done.

Chinese new year habit
Jade Emperor

Day Ten to Twelve

Day ten through twelve is not of paramount importance for the Chinese people, so they do the regular activities like meeting friends and relatives, more feasts, drinking, and celebrations.

Day Thirteen and Fourteen

Since the commencement of the New Year celebration, they all keep eating heavy food, so, on these two days, they try to balance their diet and prepare veg foods like rice and vegetables.

Trying to get less of the heavy food…

Also, as the lantern day is anytime soon now, so they spend most of the time shopping for the lantern day and ingredients for tang yuan. Once the shopping gets over, the Chinese people prepare lanterns and make tang yuan.

Day Fifteen

Activities

  • Celebrate the lantern festival
  • First full moon day; marks the end of the New Year celebration
  • Eating sweet dumplings
  • Fireworks

Message

The fifteenth day is celebrated as the lantern festival. Sky gets loaded with colorful lanterns. Everything gets normal after this day. Some people still enjoy this day as Chinese valentine’s day. The spirit of the lantern festival is to assimilate and appreciate the full moon which symbolizes reunion and happiness.

Chinese new year Lantern festival
Lantern festival in Singapore

Chinese New Year Greetings

The Chinese New Year fills the Chinese people with a lot of happiness and joy, and same they reflect such embedded respect and good wishes in a variety of greetings. Acquainting yourself with these greetings empower you with a sense of feeling to express in case you run into a Chinese person and surprise them with your knowledge of their culture.

Like they follow in India, Chinese, too, practice the two versions of ‘you’—one to greet the youngsters and second to greet the elders. With elders, to show respect, Nín is used and, in the case of youngsters, nǐ is used.

祝您……           Zhu nín…          Wish you (Older/Respected)

祝你……                     Zhu nǐ …                     Wish you (Younger/Informal)

Chinese Character PinYin Romanization English
新年好 Xīnnián hǎo Happy New Year
猪年大吉 Zhū nián dàjí Wish you luck in the year of the Pig
过年好 Guònián hǎo Happy New Year
恭贺新禧 Gōnghè xīnxǐ Happy New Year
新年快乐 Xīnnián kuàilè Happy New Year
大吉大利 Dàjí dàlì Lots of luck and Profit
心想事成 Xīnxiǎng shì chéng May all your wishes come true
吉星高照 Jíxīng gāozhào Fortune will smile on you
吉祥如意 jíxiáng rúyì Good Fortune according to your wishes
春节快乐 Chūnjié kuàilè Happy Spring Festival
新春快乐 Xīnchūn kuàilè Happy New Spring
恭喜发财 Gōngxǐ fācái May you be happy and prosperous
恭贺新禧,祝身体健康、事业发达。 Gōnghè xīnxǐ, zhù shēntǐ jiànkāng, shìyè fādá. Happy New Year. I wish you good health and lasting prosperity

Greetings for the entire family (especially when you’re addressing a family gathering)

阖家欢乐 Héjiā huānlè The cheerfulness of the whole family
阖家幸福 Héjiā xìngfú Well being of the whole family

Greetings for Business and at work

恭喜发财 Gōngxǐ fācái Happiness and Prosperity
事业有成 Shìyè yǒuchéng Success in your career
升官发财 Shēngguān fācái Win promotion and get rich
平步青云 Píngbù qīngyún Have a grand rise
工作顺利 Gōngzuò shùnlì May your work go smoothly

Chinese New Year Decorations: Traditional and Modern

As the Chinese New Year approaches, people begin to experiment with a lot of decorative materials, like Fu character pictures, Spring Festival couplets, and paper cuttings.

Usually, they start shopping and decorating their houses, streets, and office spaces about one week before. As the New Year comes closer, the walls (interior and exterior) and the doors get jeweled with the modernized forms of adornment materials.

Chinese new year decoration
Chinese new year decoration

Chinese people like red color for the New Year celebration and decoration, so they craft and shop everything red so that the entire surrounding get bathed in the hue of red.

Upside Down Fu characters

The Fu character stands for blessing and good fortune in Chinese. People stick it on or over the walls, with the character reading upside down on the door or window.

Doing so they believe, the inversion bestows the Fu character a ‘Dao’ meaning which pronounces the same as “coming” in Chinese. Chinese relate the inverted character’s meaning with the coming of the fortune, or the “pouring out” the “good fortune” on them.

Chinese Fu Character
For good luck

So, when a visitor or the family member passes through the door, it implies that the good fortune rains over them.

Paper Cuttings

Reflecting expertize in folk art, Chinese people, customarily, cut out distinct designs of paper, using scissors and cutting knife.

These paper cuttings hang behind or stick on a transparent surface, like a glass window or glass door.  Paper cuttings symbolize good wishes for the year ahead.

Most people try to morph papers into the shape of the animal that represents a specific year, and some adhere to designing the shape of Fu, Shou, Lu, and Xi, which respectively stands for luck, long-life, wealth, and happiness. The paper can be of any color, but most people prefer the red ones.

Chinese Red Lanterns

Representing a traditional folk handicraft, the bright red lanterns signify the Chinese culture and has established a special place in the Chinese festivals, especially during the Chinese New Year.

Chines new year decoration
Red Lanterns, the most typical Chinese decoration

As the New Year comes to a close, red lanterns are hung in market streets, temples, shops, parks, and households. For its reunion meaning which Chinese people have devised, red lanterns play a vital role in adding a spark to the celebrations.

Although it comes in an array of shapes, sizes, and colors, the red color sells the most during the New Year celebration time.

Chinese Knot

Chinese knot shares a long history with China. In ancient China, it was merely a thing of recording, which gradually evolved to become a thing of accessories and decorations.

Chinese New Year Decoration
Chines Knots (credit: ProjectManhattan)

They are now a widely used element for decoration which people mostly use in the interiors, and share in the form of gifts with friends and relatives.

It’s formed of a single long rope which goes through many knot formation to take the form of a complicated shape, like petals and droopy pendants.

Knots come in various shapes, with a different set of meanings associated with each of them. These are taken as a thing of luck and that’s why it’s extensively used to beautify the houses at New Year.

Chinese New Year Animals Meaning

2019 is the Year of the Pig, but what actually that means?

For Chinese people, it may be a thing of the norm but for the people not of Chinese origin, the association of an animal with a year definitely rings no bell. So, here is the explanation.

The Chinese Zodiac, which is based on the lunar cycle, consists of 12 years. Each year of the lunar calendar is named after an animal which could be any of the 12 animals.

Like 2018 was the year of Earth Dog, which started from Feb 16, 2018, and will last until Feb 04, 2019; the New Year (2019) that will take over the previous one will be called the year of the Earth Pig and will span from Feb 5, 2019, until Jan 24, 2020.

Every animal signifies specific traits, and it closely associates with the personalities of the people by the years in which they were born.

Chinese year of the pig
Year of the pig

The symbols, in the form of animals, repeat itself in the following order: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig.

After the completion of one Zodiac cycle, the animals will repeat its meaning for the year the cycle will match up with. Compared to the Western astrology, in which the month of the birth decides the fortune of a person, the Chinese zodiac sign depends on the year in which a person takes birth.

As legends wrap it in the form of a story, one day Buddha called for an animal meeting. To which some disobeyed and unheard the Buddha and some made their attendance for a great celebration.

Those 12 animals which came to the gathering, received honor from Buddha, who named one year of the calendar for each of the animals.

Below is a comprehensive list of all 12 Chinese Zodiac signs, to which year they relate, and what each animal indicates?

Pig

People who are born in the year of Pig, have honorable, determined, sociable, and sincere personality traits. On the flip side of the coin, they’re also lazy and clumsy. They like to have less but bonafide friends. Sheep and Rabbit go well with Pig.

Year: 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031

Element: Water

Rooster

The people born in the Year of the Rooster are taken as honest, independent, confident, punctual, flexible, and energetic. Their partnership lasts long with Snake and Ox.

Chinese year of the rooster
Rooster: independent, confident, punctual, flexible

Years: 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029

Element: Metal

Dog

They’re helpful, loyal, courageous, lively, adaptable, and honest. People born in the Dog year share a long-lasting relationship with those born in the year of Tiger and Horse.

Years: 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030

Element: Earth

Goat (Sheep)

People born in the year of the sheep are considered tasteful, kind, crafty, caring, sensitive, and polite. They partner well with Boar and Rabbit.

Element: Earth

Years: 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027

Monkey

People born in the year of Monkey share an intelligent and witty personality trait, including lucky, smart, charming, and versatile. Their partnership goes long-lasting with Dragon and Rat.

Years: 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028

Element: Metal

Snake

Snakes keep their matters private and are known to be ambitious, intelligent, attentive, decisive, organized, and philosophical. Roosters and Ox fit great with Snake.

Years: 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025

Element: Fire

Rabbit

Rabbits are known to be impulsive, modest, sociable, sensitive, emphatic, and sincere. They don’t do good with meditation. Rabbits fit best with Sheep and Boar.

Years: 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023, 2035

Element: Wood

Tiger

Tigers are known to be as courageous, ambitious, confident, charismatic, and enthusiastic. They’re highly unpredictable and can’t be easily distracted from their decided course of action. Tigers fit great with Horse and Dog.

Years: 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022, 2034

Element: Wood

Rat

The Rat is adaptable, artistic, resourceful, sociable, charming, and intelligent. They’re packed with a curious brain which pushes them always to do something different than the mass. They partner well with Dragon and Monkey.

Years: 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020, 2032

Element: Water

Ox

Oxen are well-tuned with their work and they’re known for personality traits like strong-built, steady, determined, loyal, reliable, and they think carefully before initiating any action. They’ve been known to have going well with Snake and Rooster.

Years: 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021, 2033

Element: Earth

Horse

Horses run great with Dog and Tiger. They’re loyal, courageous, intelligent, popular, and adventurous.

Years: 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026

Element: Fire

Dragon

Dragons are taken as imaginative, artistic, charismatic, smart, confident, and eccentric. They’re dominant and have a bad temper. Rat and Monkey go well with Dragon.

Years: 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024

Element: Earth

5 Cool Chinese New Year Facts

A whopping one-sixth of the world’s population celebrates it

Many regions outside mainstream China find their interest in joining the Chinese New Year celebration. The celebration is also seen in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Philippians, Mauritius, and many countries in North America and Europe.

Sprouting out of the Chinatowns, Chinese New Year has joined the club ‘Most Celebrated Festivals.’

It ushers in the largest human migration around the world

Chinese take the important aspect of the Chinese New Year celebration, which is a reunion every new year, very seriously. To meet their dears they return from all corners of the world to their homeland.

Since most youngsters fancy to stay in the developed urban areas, they migrate internally to catch up their parents, causing the largest internal migration on earth.

Every year coincides with a Zodiac Animal

Each lunar cycle spans 60 years and its one-fifth division, i.e., 12 years, is considered as a small cycle which, furthermore, is designated an animal sign out of Dragon, Snake, Tiger, Dog, Monkey, Ox, Horse, Sheep, Rooster, and Pig.

According to Chinese mythology, these signs play a pivotal role in deciding the health status, business performance, and relationship success of an individual.

The color red is used in bulk

According to the old stories, Chinese people believed that the red color keeps the evil spirits at bay and contributes to happiness, wealth, and prosperity.

Exercising their long-running tradition, they decorate their houses with red lanterns and red paper cuttings, along with sticking the red paper onto doors and windows. They get dressed in red outfits and lit up the streets by red lanterns.

And…last but not the least

It’s a day devoted to god prayings

In the old days, Spring Festival originally marked the beginning of crop cycles, so people, with the hope of having a good planting and harvesting season, used to pray Gods.

Depicting their ancestors as a messenger returned to the land of God, they also practiced worshipping their forefathers.

Chinese New Year Traditions Food

Chinese take huge pride in the family gathering and that, too, at the occasion of New Year Eve reunion dinner when it’s of sheer importance to have mandatory attendance.

The presence is taken such passionately that if a family member truly can’t attend the dinner eve, a spare set of plate, besides the existing family members, is placed on the dinner table, to notify their absence is being missed.

A myth goes by the monster named Nian, mentioned hereinbefore, who would terrorize the villagers every year and people would hide in a safe shelter, prepare a feast, and pray for their safety.

Arising out of those myths and some commonly shared trend, foods have found a special place in the New Year celebration, as the major dishes which are produced on the evening dinner is now seen as associated with the good health, wellbeing, promotions, hike in salaries, and growth in business.

These are called to hail luck and good fortune for the Chinese people and are majorly eaten during the 16-day festival season of the CNY. It’s not only the dishes matter but also the method of preparation, ways of serving, and eating them mean a lot for Chinese people.

The most important foods for Chinese New Year Eve are dumplings, niangao, steamed chicken and fish, spring rolls, dumplings, and noodles.

Niangao Chinese new year cake
Niangao Chinese new year cake (credit: Skjackey tse)

Steamed Fish

Steamed fish is one of the most important New Year Eve Chinese recipes. Chinese translate fish as Yu (鱼) which sounds (to them) like a word for excess and in their interpretation, having fish on the dinner table signifies increment in wealth to them in the next year.

Chinese new year food
One of the Steamed Fish variations

Unlike other cuisines, they usually prefer to either steam or deep fry the fish first and then, they would top the fish with a sweet and sour sauce. The entire fish represents a harmonious family.

Once the fish gets prepared for the dinner, the first half of it is served on the eve dinner and the second half is reserved for the next day. Doing this, they believe, prolong the surplus and create a prosperous future. The top fishes are Crucian Carp, Chinese Mud Carp, and Catfish, among many.

Dumplings

Dumplings have secured a place in the classic Chinese food for over 1,800 years and are a traditional dish served on the eve of Chinese New Year.

Dumplings represent gold ingots and for this reason, they’re common to most Chinese households during the CNY season. The unique design of the dumplings speaks for their place in Chinese cuisine as they believe, eating this would help them generate more wealth and prosperity in the coming year.

Chinese new year dish
Dumpling, the classic Chinese dish

What’s filled inside the dumplings and how much one single person consumes, decide the magnitude of rewards one wants to seize, according to the legends.

The filling generally consists of finely chopped vegetables, minced pork, ground chicken, beef, and diced shrimp. As per taste choice of an individual, dumplings can either be fried, steamed, baked, or boiled.

Spring Roll

Spring rolls are traditionally accepted Chinese New Year food. Spring roll, which is really an egg roll, has got its name devised from the spring festival.

It’s most popular in East and Southern China. Shaped cylindrical, spring roll is a dim sum dish which consists of a thin dough wrapper stuffed with vegetables, meat, or sweet.

Chines new year dish Spring Rolls
Spring rolls, so tasty

Chinese people find any excuse to gulp one or two dumplings and prefer to eat it as an appetizer, dinner dish, or snack. Chinese deep fry the stuffed cylindrical roll until it turns golden.

Besides deep frying, in some parts of China, steaming or baking is favored as well. Mostly it’s found in the cylindrical shape, but some people don’t fall by the norm side and give the spring roll a small rectangle or large flat circular shape.

Longevity Noodles

Also known as long noodles and Changshou Mian, longevity noodles represent lengthened lifeline and good health, so Chinese people include it in their New Year Menu as a symbol of good luck.

They’re over two feet longer than normal noodles and are served uncut. The purpose is not to look for 2-feet size but to find as long as you could, because longer the noodle, the better.

Breaking of noodles while cooking is taken as a bad omen associated with shortening someone’s life, so extra precaution is maintained to keep the length intact. It’s usually served either boiled or fried, with a variety of seafood to enhance the taste.

Sweet Rice Balls

Tangyuan, or sweet rice balls, is mostly eaten on the 15th and the 16th day of the Spring Festival. The rice balls contain sweet filling and are boiled in water for cooking. It is also called soup spheres as the sweet rice balls are dipped in sweet syrup or broth before eating.

Chinese new year dish
Sweet rice balls, not the most common version

Its Chinese name (汤圆) sounds like a reunion and for this reason, behind the making of sweet rice balls, there is a message that the circular shape of the rice balls represents the completion and unity of the family. For its hot characteristics, it’s usually prepared and enjoyed in the winter season.

Firework: why is it ban now?

The inception of the Chinese New Year celebration sparks off from the bravery saga of a boy who used to keep a monster, which would appear somehow at the eve of every new year, at bay, using the fireworks.

Next day, people enjoying their safety and survival would set off more fireworks. And from there, the trend repeated year by year. Since China leads the world in terms of population, one can imagine why a record high fireworks are set off on the eve of every new year.

But…the firework is partially banned now. Facing the fierce challenges associated with the incremental pollution hazards, the Chinese government has put a ban on fireworks.

Beijing has had fireworks banned for 13 years, but the anger of citizens brought the government to back foot and so, the ban was lifted in 2006. Around 500 minor to major cities have still got fireworks restrictions.

The firecrackers are infamous for producing noise nuisance and a sheet of red paper shreds all around the houses; however, Chinese people find joy in setting off the firecrackers and take it in their stride, without complaining about the air pollution.

This tradition is shared all over the country and because of distinct beliefs, the timing of setting off firecrackers differs from region to region.

  • As the New Year hits the clock, people welcome its arrival with a cacophony of fireworks and firecrackers, all around. There you won’t find a mini second for which the sound of car alarms and vibrations in the sky-high buildings would go off.
  • Before New Year’s Eve dinner: Chinese celebrate the New Year in their own style. When the reunion dinner gets ready, all family members gather up to lit the firecrackers, as they believe doing so sparks off an invitation to their ancestors, to celebrate the moment of happiness together.
  • At midnight as the New Year arrives: Traditionally, at the completion of reunion dinner, Chinese people stay up until midnight to set off firecrackers at the stroke of midnight. Doing this fills them with confidence that evil spirits won’t cause problems to them for this year.
  • New Year’s Day morning: Following their centuries-old tradition, Chinese people set off firecrackers before stepping out, as they take it as a thing of good luck. People avoid sweeping away the red shreds of firecrackers compiled all around, believing that sweeping this would also sweep their wealth away.

Travel Tips During CNY

Luckily, there is a relief that can soothe your exponentially rising curiosity. Chinese New Year, apart from creating hype of collective entropy by the Chinese celebration, don’t stand in the path of travelers, generally.

The entire chain of businesses run intact and only a few temporarily pull out their contribution, for moving out of the city to meet their near and dear ones. The major institutions hold their position and run dry for only selected periods on which the celebration mood is at the peak.

So, what is it like to step into a pond that’s severely tremored by the shake of its own constituting particles? Simply putting, to what magnitude could, and would, travel during the Chinese New Year affects your spontaneous or a well-planned itinerary?

The answer is not something anybody would be ready to rumble. But, if there come the preparations that this guide helps you walk through, your travel would definitely be a piece of cake.

Is it possible to travel in China during Chinese New Year?

Yes, indeed, but brace yourself with a potential thought set up to bear the hiked fares and overcrowded transportations. Chinese move from their place of work to hometowns once a year.

The crowd that accumulates as a result of international and internal migration, depicts an exodus that overwhelms the first-time visitors. The terminals and the railway stations get flooded with people heading home to meet their elderly parents, eat dumplings, and celebrate.

How difficult is it to book tickets?

A wise man would begin making travel bookings at about sixty days before the Chinese New Year booking madness takes on the whole of China by storm.

Of course, the rates would severely multiply and you can’t complain about it. The top hotels get booked way before the blink of an eye, so it’s obvious to not let go of a single opportunity that you get by chance.

It’s ideal to make bookings two to four months ahead, so as not to get yourself trapped in the human jungle everywhere. For the last-minute travel bookings, it’s hard to acquire those precious arrangements as those come with its own monopoly of premium paying.

Train yourself to be tolerant and fall by the lively spirit side

The problems with traveling are obvious but when you’re visiting China during CNY, you should have elevated patience and a cheerful spirit bundled within you, to not give the fellow travelers a hiccup or some weird look. On the flip side, being more cheerful and patient, you can have fun even if you’re stuck in a crowd, or in an unexpectedly packed train tour.

You know some extrovert guys who don’t see ‘you and I’ and jump into a conversation without an intention to unearth the in-depth details. All they do so to not let the drawbacks of travel tiresome dominate them.

You can roll the same sort of dices to keep yourself up and motivated. If this strategy doesn’t amuse you, there are saunas all over in big cities of China where you can get a relaxing massage, to relieve the stress.

Where to find an authentic view of fireworks?

This is common to all places and you won’t have to move to a specific place to witness fireworks. In fact, it will be best to have a stay in a hotel with a big glass window through which you can get a wide visual.

Is it cold during the Chinese New Year?

Yes. Some parts of China face extreme cold and rain during the CNY time. It would be great to have some warm clothes and put a blanket in the luggage bag, to combat the teeth-shivering temperature as you move from one region to another.

Also, some parts of China face unexpected rain during this season, so having an umbrella won’t attract eyes.

What is Tantra Yoga?

Tantra Yoga definition composed of two words: tattya and mantra. The former refers to a science of cosmic principles while the latter refers to the science of mystic sounds and vibrations. Looking at these two definitions, we can define Tantra as an act of applying cosmic sciences with the goal of attaining spiritual ascendancy.

What is Mandala meaning?

Mandala, often pronounced as mah-ndah-lah, is a powerful spiritual symbol that is mostly used in ceremonial rituals, in worship, in sacred art, and in meditation.

Mandalas are used by both Hindus and Buddhists to represent the universe. The name is derived from two different words “la” and “manda” which mean container and essence respectively.

Mandala with Concentric circles
Concentric circles

If you’re still wondering “what does mandala mean”, then I feel that this may help: the term mandala directly translates to “circle” in Sanskrit.

A mandala can generally be recognized by its concentric circles and other geometric figures. In today’s word, the term mandala is used to refer to any pattern or diagram that has radial balance.

The most basic form comprises a square that has four gates in the shape of a T and a circle with a central point. A mandala may, however, embody other geometrical shapes such as triangles and polygons to form a labyrinth disc that has a symbolic meaning.

Symbolism of Mandala

Kalachakra mandala type
Kalachakra mandala

Mandalas are rich in symbolism in Hinduism and Buddhism; they evoke a deep aspect in both religions’ teachings. As the monks create the mandala, they impart the Buddha’s teachings. In order to unlock the hidden meaning of mandala symbols, one needs a much deeper understanding.

On the mandala structure, there is a square temple that is surrounded by several concentric circles. The outer circle resembles a ring of fire and symbolizes the way humans are transformed before they can enter the interior.

Different mandala types
Another example of Kalachakra Mandala

The second outermost circle is made out of diamond and symbolizes indestructibility. After that, the next circle is of the eight graveyards.

This circle represents all the aspects of human consciousness through which humans are bound to the cycle of rebirth. The inner circle is made using lotus leaves which are a symbol of religious rebirth.

At the center, there is a dot over which there’s an image of the chief deity. This is symbolism to show that the chief deity is the center of the universe and has no dimensions.

The square temple contains the essence of the Buddha. Within the structure is a palace that is for the resident deities. The temple has four gates which are a representation of  the following ideologies:

  1. The four directions i.e. north, south, east, and west
  2. The four boundless thoughts i.e. sympathy, compassion, loving-kindness, and equanimity.

Another symbol that is used in the mandala is a bell which represents feminine energy.

The sacred meaning of mandala

Shiva mandala tapestry
Shiva mandala tapestry

Mandalas are more than just geometric figures. The mandala is not only rich in symbolism but also in scared meaning. It’s a sacred figure that represents the various divine powers that are at work in the universe.

It represents a sacred area that serves as a collection point for Hindu gods and as a receptor for universal forces. There a number of gods that occupy a specific position in the figure making the structure of the mandala to be highly elaborate.

These images are formed from deep within our unconscious mind. It can, therefore, be used to represent a dream in the psychoanalysis and search of self-unity and completeness.

When one mentally enters a mandala’s center, the person is symbolically given a tour through the cosmos to the essence of reality. The mandala symbolizes the totality of existence, both the inner and the outer.

During rituals, the mandala acts as a spiritual guidance tool that is employed to focus the attention of the adepts to induce trance or meditation. Simply put, mandalas are sacred symbols representing the essence of the universe.

Mandala construction by monks

The whole process of constructing a mandala is considered to be a very sacred and meditative ritual. It can take anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks to complete.

When monks construct a mandala, it helps them to participate in the Buddha’s teachings. However, before monks can participate in the construction of mandalas, they must go through a lengthy period of artistic and philosophical study. This takes approximately 3 years.

As is custom, four monks come together to work on a single mandala. To make the work easier, the mandala is divided into four equal quadrants and each monk works on each. In the middle of the task, assistants are assigned to each monk to help them fill the colors.

A mandala is a really important image in Tibetan Buddhism; it’s made with careful placement of colored sand that is known as dul-tson-kyil-khor in Tibetan.

A mandala may also be constructed using bronze or 3-D stone figures as seen in China and Japan. There are those that are also created using computer graphics but they are often not considered sacred since they’re created by non-Buddhists.

Generally, a mandala is constructed outward from the center where there is a dot. With the placement of this dot at the center, the mandala is consecrated to a particular deity. The deity is often depicted in an image over the center dot.

For mandalas that are purely geometric, the lines are drawn through the center to the four corners. This results in triangular geometric patterns. These lines are then used to construct a square palace that has four gates and four quadrants that are assigned to the four monks.

While constructing the mandala, the monks work outwards to a series of concentric circles. They work in tandem; moving around the mandala. Since they move outwardly together so as to ensure that balance is maintained, they have to wait upon each other until each section is entirely completed.

While there are some mandalas that are painted after they’ve been constructed, there are those that are deliberately destroyed afterward.

Those that are painted serve as an enduring object of contemplation. On the other hand, those that are destroyed act as a reminder of the impermanence of things in the traditional Tibetan Buddhist teaching.

Once it’s been destroyed, the sand is then poured into a nearby water body such as a river to distribute the positive energy.

Mandala drawing – How to draw your own mandala?

Drawing a mandala is a valuable stress-relieving pass time. It helps one to get in touch with their inner self and find their innermost desires through the journey of self-discovery.

The mandala that you draw could symbolize something that you want to achieve in life. It also has the potential to change how we see ourselves and our purpose to live.

In addition to it being deeply meditative, drawing a mandala unleashes our inner artist. Other benefits of drawing your own mandala include emotional stability, mental clarity, calmness, an increased sense of wellbeing, understanding, and wholeness.

Before you can get started on drawing your own mandala, you need to understand how they’re generally drawn. A mandala usually has one focal point at its center.

It is from this point that different shapes and designs emerge. All these are dependent on what’s going on in the drawer’s mind and can be anything that makes sense to them at that particular moment in time.

Here are the materials you need for you to draw your own mandala:

  • A piece of paper or manila
  • A pencil and an eraser
  • A pen or permanent marker to trace over the pencil lines
  • A ruler for drawing lines
  • A compass and protractor for drawing the circles. If you don’t have a compass you could use round jar lids to make the circles.
  • Lastly, you need coloring pencils

After you have gathered your materials, it’s now time to get started. Alternatively, instead of using a piece of paper, you could use a piece of fabric and decorate t with embroidery to make a beautiful mandala design.

Follow these steps to draw your own mandala:

  1. Find an adequate working surface in an undisturbed area that has a minimal disturbance. The peace and quiet ensure that your creative juices keep flowing undisturbed.
  2. Get comfortable and make sure that you are relaxed.
  3. Create a purpose for your drawing. Do you just want to express your feelings? Do you want to get in touch with your unconscious mind? Or do you want to draw the mandala for meditative purposes?
  4. Start by drawing a perfect square on the black canvas using the pencil and ruler. After taking precise measurements, put a dot in the exact center of the square.
  5. To help you achieve the symmetry, split the image that you have just drawn into two. This will make it so much easier for you to create balance by drawing on one side, what you drew on the other side.
  6. Draw circles around the central dot using the compass to make them perfect and neat.
  7. Make other dots that are an equal distance away from the center. These new dots should enclose the original central dot in such a way that when they’re joined, they make a perfect circle. Draw other circles around these new dots
  8. Within the figure are blank sections that you can fill with whatever pattern on the symbol that you like. Just draw whatever design that comes to mind.
  9. After you’re done the drawing and you really like the outcome, you can now color your mandala as you see fit.

Coloring the Mandala

It’s so much fun coloring a mandala. After you’re done drawing you might consider coloring it for a great finish.

The different colors used all have different meanings. Below are some meanings of the colors used. These should put you in a better position to choose the colors that resonate with your intentions.

  • Yellow stands for joy, laughter, and happiness
  • Orange is for creativity, transformation, and self-awareness
  • Red represents strength, high energy, and passion
  • Pink is for gentleness, love, and femininity
  • Purple is for spirituality and mystery
  • Violet is for intuition and insight
  • Blue is for inner peace, meditation, and healing
  • Green is for physical healing, psychic ability, connection, and the love of nature
  • White is for purity, consciousness, and truth
  • Black is for power, deep thinking,  and shadow work

Here are some instructions to help you create a colorful manifestation mandala:

  1. The first one is quite obvious; you need to have some coloring pencils ready
  2. Next, you need to have a settled mind in order to focus on the colors. If it helps, play some relaxing music to set the mood
  3. Choose the colors that you feel are helpful for your purpose in accordance with the above-listed meanings
  4. Let the coloring flow; allow it to connect you with yourself and to inspire you. The colors should be allowed to come to you effortlessly. Do not force anything.
  5. If you feel inspired to use different colors on your mandala, just flow with it. The colors that you use infuse your mandala with even greater meaning and symbolism.
  6. As you continue to color your mandala, focus only on how you feel as you ultimately achieve your goal. If, in any way you feel distracted, take a few minutes to relax by taking deep breaths. Continue coloring only when the energy connection comes back.
  7. After you’re done coloring the mandala, look at it to feel its energy. Examine it keenly to see if there are any elements that you might have missed while creating it. If there are any, it’s a good sign to affirm that you were in the right intuition.
  8. Put the final image somewhere you will be able to see it on a daily basis. For example, you could have it as a wall hanging or as your screen saver for your phone/ laptop. This way, it’ll work its powerful magic on your life every day.

The mandala color deeper meaning

Colors have a special way of impacting the way we see things and the way we think. They hold different functions in the Buddhist spiritual art; this is especially so when they’re used in mandalas.

The Buddhism color theory states that color is a concept of enlightenment that is usually represented by pure light. There are six main colors in the religious texts five of which (all of them apart from black) represent the five personifications of the Buddha. All five colors are present in nature.

  • White: rest, peace, and contemplation
  • Yellow: Nourishment and restraint
  • Red: Subjugation
  • Blue: Healing, wisdom, and life
  • Green: Exorcism
  • Black: Anger and death

The five Buddha families and their colors

The five main colors that are used in mandalas correspond with the 5 Buddhas and their families. The concept of the “Five Buddha Families” is a great way of developing our mind to a higher level of consciousness.

Each one of the families embodies one of the five aspects of enlightenment which manifests as the neurotic states of our minds in the form of anger, jealousy, ignorance, pride, and arrogance.

The 5 Buddha Families and their colors are as follows:

1. Vairochana

This is the head of the Buddha family. Vairochana is white Buddha and sometimes blue.

2. Akshbhya

This is the head of the Vajra family. Askshobhya is the blue Buddha and sometimes white.

3. Ratnasambhaba

This is the head of the Ratna or the jewel family. Ratnasambhaba is yellow Buddha.

4. Amitabha

This is the head of the Padma or the lotus family. Amitabha is red Buddha.

5. Amoghasiddhi

This is the head of the karma or action family. Amoghasiddhi is green Buddha.

What are the uses of a mandala?

From the mandala meaning, we can tell that they carry their own special kind of vibration energy. They can, therefore, be used to enhance one’s physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional health.

Their design virtually absorbs the mind and engulfs our thoughts with a special spiritual essence that takes the observer to a higher level of consciousness. In some way, the mandala induces hypnosis.

The mandala has quite a number of uses. In this section, we’ll have a look at two of its main uses:

1. Meditation

Mandalas are primarily used as a symbol for concentration and meditation. They help us to find the way to ourselves to be more aware of who we are and our purpose in life. Meditation enables us to cultivate and find peace within our hearts.

While focusing on the mandala, allow your mind to wander. It almost feels as though you have fallen into the colors and started swimming in the patterns. During this time, you experience some sort of lightness.

If you have a relaxed demeanor whilst still focusing on the mandala, it means that you achieved what you intended.

2. Therapy

 

Healing mandala
Healing mandala

The mandala is also used by psychologists and counselors as a creative tool during therapies. The

mandala technique allows the patients to create a mandala out of literally anything eg sand and clay.  Mandalas are a great source of healing and offer patients different levels of awareness through which they can get more in touch with their feelings.

The therapist may either let you draw the mandala and color it or color one that has already been drawn for you. Coloring the mandala had numerous health benefits for both kids and adults. Some of them include:

  1. Overall stress reduction due to less cortisol production (cortisol is a stress hormone)
  2. Better and longer concentration span
  3. Improved fine motor movements of the hands
  4. A reduced pulse rate
  5. Lower heart rate and blood pressure
  6. More production and release of feel-good hormones

Tips for a mandala for therapy

Besides its pattern, the meaning of a mandala is majorly dependent on its color. As seen previously, coloring a mandala brings a bunch of health benefits. We give you tips to experiment and have fun while coloring a mandala for therapeutic purposes.

  • After you have already chosen your pattern, decide what coloring medium you’re going to use.
  • Do the coloring in layers. Start by filling in a shape with a light shade then go back over it again as many time as you would like until it achieves the shade you like
  • Alternatively, you can use two differently-colored pencils and blend them to achieve the desired color
  • Always apply little pressure on the coloring pencil to avoid breaking the tip
  • If you color outside the lines, use a white colored pencil to cover it up. These pencils will also help you to fill in the valleys that were left behind while you were coloring
  • Another great tip would be to use a colorless blender. This blender does not have any pigment; it functions to go over the already colored parts to remove any excess color or to even out the colors.
  • Always keep in mind that there is no right or wrong color for the therapy. The color combinations that you choose are entirely up to you.

Facts about mandalas

Mandalas symbolize the universe. This means that a mandala can be drawn in any form of art as long as it’s in a circle; one does not need to have a degree in order to draw a mandala.

The underlying idea is to try and discover yourself while you draw. Here are some impressive facts about mandalas to help you understand them better:

1. Appearance

Mandalas are common among two religions: Buddhism and Hinduism. They have also been seen in different philosophies.

2. Importance

Mandalas are of great importance in a number of traditions and spiritual rituals. Today, they’re used for therapeutic and healing purposes. Mandalas have been used to bring calm and to hypnotize during meditation. The idea is to be able to find internal peace through drawing.

3. Shapes and forms

While most mandalas are depicted with squares, they are solely founded on circles. Basically, circles are drawn from the focal point as a way of relieving stress and any internal disturbance. The square has four gates which form a T shape

4. The empires

Some of the empires that are recognized as mandalas are Majapahit, Srivijava, Khmer, Champs, Bagan, and Ayutthaya.

5. The five deities and mandala

The “Five Deity Mandala” was created in the 17th century. It was first seen in a Tibetan painting. In the middle, there is the Rakta Yamari also referred to as the enemy of death. At the corners, there are the other four deities: the Yellow, Green, White, and the Red Yamaris.

6. Different forms

The mandala comes in a wide array of forms. One of them is the “Stupa” that is spotted across the world in monasteries. The other form is the “sandpainting” which is a traditional depiction of the mandala. The sandpainting has Mt. Meru at its center and around it are the different continents.

7. Self-discovery

Mandalas allow you to engage in a journey of self-discovery. This is especially important for anyone who may feel lost and would like to engage in an artistic activity.

8. Representation

There really aren’t any restrictions surrounding how a mandala may be represented. You may draw it on a piece of paper, on the sand, on fabric, on murals or on any other place that you find appropriate.

In addition, a mandala is used to represent wisdom in the universe. Analyzing it keenly makes you realize that there is a hidden message within from different souls that are present in the mandala.

9. Intentions

While it’s possible to create mandalas from anything, and sometimes without a purpose, there usually should be an intention behind it. You shouldn’t create such art without a purpose.

People mostly draw mandalas in order to express their feelings. The intention is to use the abstract form of art brings about insight for its viewers.

10. Leisure and fun

Mandalas engage its drawers and viewers in a spiritual and self-discovering experience. Moreover, they are also drawn for utter fun and leisure. This means that you can draw a simple figure that will help you relax and that does not require much thought.

Types of Mandalas

Mandalas come in different types, forms, and varieties. The two basic types of mandalas are the:

  1. Garbha-dhatu which translates to “womb world” in Sanskrit. In Japanese, it’s known as taizo-kai and means “in which the movement is from the one to the many”.
  2. Vajra-dhatu which translate to “diamond world” in Sanskrit. In Japanese, it’s known as Kongo-kai and means “from the many into one”.

Other mandalas types:

1. Architectural mandala

Architectural mandala
Gyantse Kumbum Stupa. Photographer: Philipp Roelli (2005)

Most of the building in Tibet and the Himalayas use mandalas to inspire the designs. The architecture of large stupa structures such as the Jonang Monastery Stupa and the Gyantse Stupa are examples of the architectural mandala.

Architectural mandalas are also evident in the design of some mosques and cathedrals. Basically, their structures feature a central pole around which other conical shapes are built. In some buildings, the pole may represent the axis of the world.

2. Aztec Mandala

Aztec stone calendar mandala

This mandala represents the written form of communication that was previously used by the Aztecs. The Aztec mandala or calendar has a complex design with an equally complex meaning.

The most popular Aztec mandala is the massive Aztec stone calendar that was dedicated to the sun god. It measures 12 ft long and 3 ft thick. The Aztec mandala features common cultural symbols; each one of these represents a god that rules that time.

According to their culture, the weather was very vital since it regulated the days as well as their crops. Some of the symbols representing the weather were:

  • The Wind was one of the creations of the gods and is a symbol of cleverness. He is also referred to as the god Ehacatl. Trees were created when Ehacatle fell in love with a mortal.
  • The light was also another creation of god and symbolizes the warriors. There was also Tezcatlipoca who was the god of twilight and at the same time the god of the North.
  • The rain was not only beneficial to the rain forest but also brought healing.
  • The Storm was also a creation goddess called Chalcihuilicue. She ruled the storms, the streams, the rivers, the seas, and baptism. Chalcihuilicue translates to “she of the Jade skirt.”
  • Earthquake symbolized practical in an area that had active volcanoes. Since they take time to erupt, they’re compared to great scholars.

Here are other symbols on the Aztec mandala and what they represent:

  • Flowers which represent dancing
  • Flint which represents movement was used to create fires, weapons, and other tools
  • Knives were common tools in the culture and symbolized self-sufficiency in a romantic way
  • Reeds that they harvested from the marshes represented something knowledgeable
  •  Grass represented something useful. The Aztecs used grass to weave their mats
  • Skulls represented change
  • Jaguars symbolized a great hunter who kills with a single blow
  • Deer symbolized nomadic movement and cooperation in a group
  • Rabbits meant clever and playful
  • Lizards meant dynamic and active
  • The Ocelot represented solitude, secrets, and intelligence
  • Crocodiles represent a sea monster with an insatiable appetite that emerges to create the cosmos. The Aztec community referred to the crocodile as Cipactli. To them, the crocodile also offered protection.

3. Bodhi mandala

Bodhi Mandala The term “Bodhimandala” is used in Buddhism to mean “circle of awakening” and refers to the area where a bodhisattva attains full enlightenment to become a Buddha. The concept of the Bodhi mandala adapts a virtual reality aspect.

The fact that Bodhi mandalas are virtual means that they can only be constructed in cyberspace. They are constructed block by block by anyone as long as they have an internet connection. In some instances, grains are used instead of blocks.

The virtual Bodhi mandala comprises of 8,400 blocks and whoever likes can adopt the blocks as long as they’re available. Adopting a block is the same as purchasing a “space.”

4. Body mandala

Unlike other mandalas, the body mandala is so different; it’s full of percussion and rhythmic dynamism. Basically, the body mandala is a recreation and idealization of the human body. The parts are imagined to be parts of the mandala in which Buddhas and other deities abide. Body mandala The body mandala theory depicts the human body together with its senses, organs, veins, and nervous system as a pure entity. Painted depictions of the human body as mandalas can be found in the Hindu, Buddhist, Bon, and Taoist religions.

In Tantric Buddism, the body mandala was used as a spiritual teacher to teach in the major Anuttarayoga systems of practice such as Guhyasamaja, Vajrayogini, Chakrasamvara, and Hevajra Tantras.

The body mandala comprises of the mother tantra and the father tantra. In the latter, the body mandala shows the gross body i.e. the limbs, arms and legs, the elements, and the aggregates. These body parts are generated as parts of the building and the different Buddha-figures.

In the mother tantra, the body parts are generated as the different channels of the subtle energy system that is transformed into the deities and the palace. The mother tantra mainly emphasizes on the deities.

5. Butterfly mandala

The design of the butterfly mandala is centered on the insect’s metamorphosis all the way from when it’s a caterpillar to when it becomes a butterfly. Butterfly mandala The butterfly mandala is symbolic of one’s ability to move gracefully from their past into a new state.

The butterfly symbolism is also centered on transcendence and personal growth. Our life is so much similar to that of a butterfly.

We spend the early years of our lives in the “caterpillar” stage but slowly and gracefully, we transform into a new situation.

Butterflies symbolize the embodiment of the divine feminine that opens our energies to the way of life. They are filled with so much grace and tenderness.

The butterfly mandala encourages us to meditate and to let go of any fears that we might have. This is a healthy way of letting go of emotional pain; it takes time but it’s very effective in helping us forget the past injustices towards us.

Generally, the butterfly mandala symbolizes our ability to pursue change and growth in the emotional, spiritual, and physical aspects of our lives.

Butterfly mandala tattoo
Butterfly mandala tattoo design

Jewelry and art that is made using butterfly mandalas are used to express a person’s readiness to embrace change. They remind us to stay strong throughout the process so that your efforts may bear fruits.

Moreover, these pieces impart a source of beauty, grace, and tenderness.  Natural gemstones are added to the jewelry to further enhance its healing and transition effects.

The color options for butterflies on mandala art and jewelry are unlimited. The process of coloring a mandala is quite therapeutic and has been shown to help a person move on from their past.

Butterfly mandala tattoos have become commonplace with most people combining tattoos with other images to give their symbolism a deeper meaning. For example, they use the butterfly mandala together with a lotus or a feather to represent a free and limitless spirit.

6. Celtic mandala

Celtic mandala
Celtic mandala

The Celtic mandala is used to symbolize spiritual growth and to realize one’s heart desires. It is used to focus on a person’s energy in order to raise their consciousness to a much higher level of alertness. It allows for intuitive channeling and helps to keep us grounded spiritually. Celtic mandalas are said to assist a person to clear their mind and to make it one with the soul. This strengthens communication with the universe and other divine powers.

The Celtic mandalas are used during meditation to set a person’s intentions. They can also be used as decorative pieces of art that can either be adapted to quilt mosaic or appliqué patterns. Their patterns are quite attractive and easy to color.

Over the past couple of years, Celtic mandalas have gained popularity as more and more people seek to create a connection with their ancestors.

The desire to learn about the ancient way of life and the overall meaning of life has greatly influenced their increase in popularity.

There are different types of Celtic mandalas all which contain a central point with the symbols contained on the inside of the outermost circle. To create a more attractive design, all you need to do is to repeat the patterns around the circle. Some of the most common types of Celtic mandalas are:

  • Celtic Knots. These represent the timeless nature of the spirit and teach us more about the birth and rebirth in the physical and the spiritual realm. The Celtic knot not only sharpens our understanding of our ancestors but also enhances our ability to see how our actions affect those who are around us.
  • Celtic Spiral. This symbolizes the spiritual awareness and understanding. It also enhances positive energy and our desire to share it with other people.
  • Triquetra. This is a symbol with three corners and it’s used to represent the holy trinity. It is used to bring us closer to God. Modern believers equate the Triquetra with the unity between the mind, body, and spirit.

Celtic mandalas can be found on decorative posters, key holders, tapestry, glasswork, and dome clothes’ designs.

7. Christian mandala

Mandalas are mostly associated with Buddhism and other religions in Asia. The Christian mandala is a sacred image that they use to connect to the spiritual realm. These images are often used as décor and can be found on the windows of churches and cathedrals. Almost all churches and cathedrals have an iconic glass window design that represents the Christian mandala.

Alternatively, in Christian architecture, a circular shape is cut out of the top of the building in order to let light and air in. The opening opens up to the sky and symbolizes a direct connection between the earthly and the spiritual realm.

Some of the famous Christian mandala designs feature rosaries, the crown of thorns, the halo, the communion wafers, the apse part of a church, and some baptismal font designs.

A common feature among all these symbols is that they have a circular shape. This round shape, just like in other mandalas, represents the universe.

8. Circle mandala

The circle is the heart of all mandalas. Circle mandala designs have a wide variety of meanings; adding new circles inside a mandala gives it a whole new meaning.

circle mandala
Circle mandala

The purpose of having a circle within the mandala is so that the viewers are drawn inside and feel as though they’re inside the mandala. This phenomenon is common for all circles that is why mandalas are built using this concept. From our definition above, we noticed that the word mandala literally translates to circle. When you get the feeling like you have been pulled in, you’re encouraged to feel as though you are a part of the mandala design and focus all your thoughts on that.

Circle mandalas are very helpful to help people concentrate and focus more when they’re meditating.

The circle mandala symbolizes the oneness and wholeness of the divinity incarnate in man. The circles may also be perceived to represent completion or a new beginning. Circle mandala art is available a wide variety of color combinations and unlimited patterns.

This flexibility gives a drawer so much freedom to express themselves by creating any design they like. Coloring a circle mandala has great therapeutic effects. You can color using pencils, crayons, pastels, or even charcoal.

Circle mandala patterns can be seen embedded in art, sculptures, jewelry, paintings, and tattoos. The patterns can either be complex or simple and the colors can either be bold or muted. All these depend on a person’s preferences.

9. Ceiling Mandala

Ceiling mandalas are usually seen on the ceilings of holy structures such as temples. Besides them being colorful and decorative, they’re also believed to offer blessings and protections.

Ceiling mandala
Ceiling mandala

Ceiling mandalas are an amazing way of adding pops of color to your ceiling in the living room or in the bedroom. These accessories come in many styles and are perfect for transforming a room.

10. Cosmological & Geographical Mandala

The Cosmological and Geographical mandala is symbolic of the four continents alongside Mt. Sumeru, the universe, various types of cosmology, sacred realms, and pure lands like Tushita, Sukhavati, Shambhala, or Medicine Buddha Pureland.

The mandala features a cosmic diagram illustrating the Indo-Himalayan imagery.

Cosmological mandala
Cosmological Mandala with Mount Meru

At the middle of the mandala is the mythological mountain, Mt. Sumeru. The mountain is represented by a pyramid that is up-side-down with a lotus at the top.  The lotus symbolizes purity. At the base of the mountain are a representation of the sun and the moon. The sun is represented by a three-legged bird and the moon by a rabbit.

11. Deity Mandala

The deity mandala originates from the Indian Tantric literature and its main purpose is for meditation. The deity mandala is used within the Tantric theory of Deity Yoga.

In the middle of the deity mandala is a principal figure that is surrounded by other figures. The term Deity is commonly used in Buddhism to refer to meditational deities and protectors.

There are 3 mandalas under the deity mandala. These are:

  1. Figure mandala
  2. Symbol mandala
  3. Geometric mandala

There are three main types of deity appearance based on their mood. These are described as follows in the Indian Sanskrit literature:

  1. Peaceful – Devi
  2. Semi-peaceful – Rishi
  3. Wrathful -Rakshasa

Deity mandalas are available in the form of amulets that offer the wear protection. These are either worn on the leg or neck. The amulets can also be hung inside a car or on the door of a house.

Deity mandala
Tibetan ‘Five Deity Mandala’

12. Element Mandala

The mandalas of the elements are earth mandala, water mandala, fire mandala, wind mandala, and space mandala.

These element mandalas are but just representations. The earth mandala is represented with a yellow square, the water with a white circle, the fire with a red half-circle, and the air with a blue triangle.

These five-element mandalas and their energies live within us. They’re connected to our chakras and also correspond with colors, emotions, thinking styles, body types, character, and illnesses.

The mandala of elements is used to explain the relationship between diseases and their treatments. In the old Indian Ayurvedic, for example, the element mandala was the basis upon which their medicine was formed.

On the mandala, the elements are visualized to be underneath the world system and the palace.

The visualization comes right after voidness meditation. This kind of meditation is done to understand what happens when we die than become reborn.

The mind gets to a clear state where it connects to higher levels of the elements. The representation of the element mandala underneath represents the purity of the highest level. During the visualization, the elements come from under the palace as clear light.

13. Figure Mandala

As we saw earlier, figure mandala is a part of the deity mandala. The mandala positions the images of the real iconographic figures in the proper location around the mandala and does so correctly.

There are two categories found under figure mandala which we’ll look at as we proceed. They are the:

  1. Inverted-figure mandala
  2. Upright-figure mandala

14. Geometric Mandala

Geometric mandalas are used for meditation to have a clearer view of life and creation in general.

The mandalas are considered to be a gateway between the earthly realm and the divine realm. When using the geometric mandala as a meditation tool, it’s recommended that you start out with much simpler designs as you progress. Otherwise starting out with complex designs will only leave you frustrated.

The geometric mandalas are filled with layers and patterns that have deep meanings. However, the circle remains to be the most basic shape in geometric mandalas.

Geometric mandala
Geometric mandala, the gateway between the earthly realm and the divine realm

Other shapes include the semi-circle, triangle, and the square. These shapes may also be seen as representatives of the four elements: earth, fire, water, and air.

The geometric mandala has been useful in construction when building structures especially those that are considered to be sacred. Besides the temples, churches, and mosques, the geometric mandala also inspired the creation of the pyramids of Egypt.

The design of geometric mandalas features:

  • A center from which the rest of the patterns radiate from
  • A torus which refers to a combination of two circles that are rotated around the focal point
  • Triangles that fill up the inside. These infuse the mandala with the ancient wisdom of the Egyptians
  • The flower of life design. This design is formed when the circles which are of a similar size overlap.
  • Platonic solids. Polygons may also be used in the place of the platonic solids. Their purpose is generally to fill up the geometric mandala
  • Lines. These break up the circles with the intention of simplifying the design

15. Healing mandala

The healing mandala design promotes deep reflection, relieves stress, and helps us to heal emotionally. Its design is often quite simple as it is intended to cultivate focus and peace that brings a sense of healing. If the designs were very complex, they wouldn’t invoke a feeling of calm.

For years, the mandala has been in use by therapists and counselors as a therapeutic tool. They usually indulge the patient in a coloring exercise to help them to relax. The whole point of this form of artistic expression is to encourage self-expression as you keep your mind clear from distractions.

An example of the healing mandala is the yin-yang symbol that has been proven to be very helpful when it comes to achieving balance in the mind.

Yin & Yang Mandala
Yin & Yang Mandala – encourage self-expression

16. Heart mandala

The heart mandala has a heart at its center. The heart generally symbolizes attraction and love.

It is also a symbol of femininity and sensuality, unity and cohesion. The heart mandala symbol may be used to represent the love between family members, partners, and friends.

The heart symbol has a strong connection to the triangle. For this reason, it is also said to be related to the element of water which is represented as an inverted triangle. The relationship between the two signifies psychic perception.

Heart mandala
Heart mandala – represent the love between family members and friends

The colors that are used to further clarify the meaning of heart mandalas are:

  1. Green and pink which signify a connection to the heart chakra
  2. Red which signifies a connection to the root/power chakra
  3. Blue or blue-green which signify a connection to the water element. It enhances psychic perceptions as one meditates.

17. Henna Mandala

To the general public, henna is a temporary method of tattoo application. However, Henna mandalas are a part of the ancient tradition of Mehndi in Africa, India, and the Middle East.

The art of the henna mandala has been around for a period of over 5000 years. In ancient times, henna was applied to the arms and legs to cool the body.

The creation of henna mandalas started after its staining capabilities were discovered.

Henna mandala
Henna mandalas are a part of the ancient tradition of Mehndi

Even today, henna mandalas are still an important part of the traditions. The mehndi is still applicable in today’s ceremonies and celebrations. This practice is, in its own way, a tool of expression.

Once you have henna to work with, creating patterns can be so inspiring; there is no right or wrong way of creating a henna mandala.

18. Jung Mandala

Carl Jung

This mandala is named after the most well-known psychiatrist in history. To him, mandalas provided for endless purposes in the treatment scenario. His works in various forms of art therapy have paved the way for modern treatment with the help of mandalas.

Jung used mandalas to develop psychoanalysis that relies on free expression. The expression in the form of art is a really effective way of breaking one’s defense mechanism during therapy.

These mandalas help patients to connect with whatever internal process that they may be struggling to get perspective on.

Today, Jung is known as the “father of the modern mandala.” This is due to the fact that after him, mandalas have been put in extensive use in modern creative art therapy.

19. Kalachakra Mandala

The Kalachakra mandala is found among the Kalachakra system which is one of the last and most complex tantric systems to be brought from Tibet to India.

Kalachakra mandala
Kalachakra mandala

The best known Kalachakra mandala is the sand mandala that is constructed using colored sand. The mandala is of an intricate nature; it represents a 3-D palace with 5 floors which has symbols with very detailed meaning. Here’s what you’ll find at each of the floors:

  1. The ground floor is the Body Mandala and has four entrances facing all the directions. This floor measures 200 by 200 arm spans
  2. The other floor is 100 arm spans high and features a platform that measures 100 by 100 arm spans. This is the Speech Mandala and it looks very similar to the Body Mandala
  3. The middle floor is the Mind Mandala sitting on a platform that is 50 arm spans above the Speech Mandala. It measures 50 by 50 arm spans. This floor looks similar to both the Speech and the Body Mandalas.

The Mind Mandala has two more levels within it: the Exalted Wisdom Mandala and the Great Bliss Mandala. While the former is raised 25 arm spans above the Mind Mandala and measures 25 by 25 arm spans, the latter is only raised slightly above the Exalted Wisdom Mandala.

A gigantic green lotus sits on the Great Bliss Mandala; it’s here that the Deity Kalachakra resides with his consort Vishvamata. They are surrounded by eight Shaktis. From the top of the Great Bliss Mandala, there is a roof which is 200 arm spans high.

20. Imagined Mandala

The imagined mandala is only considered to be applicable for use by only great teachers and their best students. One needs a high level of understanding to use such. The mandalas are mentioned in some ritual texts.

21. Initiation Card Mandala

Initiation Card Mandalas are also referred to as tsakali. They refer to small paintings that are constructed for use in Buddhist rituals and Bon initiations. A regular initiation card mandala is about the size of a regular floor tile.

The initiation card mandalas are used as the central shrine object and are made when a large number of initiations are given. Such times are the Vajravali and the Mitra Gyatsa collections of initiations.

22. Initiation Mandala

These mandalas are slightly larger than the Initiation Card Mandalas. They are placed on a table with other ritual objects and offerings.

The offerings are placed on the 4 edges of the table. The initiation of the mandala is the focal point for the tantric initiation ritual.

23. Inverted Figure Mandala

The inverted figure mandala refers to a mandala in which all the secondary figures are standing, half-inverted, or upright in relation to the primary figure in the mandala.

The other figures in the composition that are outside the mandala circle proper are not considered as part of the mandala. This means that they cannot be referred to as inverted.

24. Letter Mandala

Letter mandalas are usually constructed using letters in place of the actual deities. They are a much simpler version of deity mandalas.

25. Mandala Plate with Deities

This mandala plate is glued to a wooden surface that has a thickness of about 1 inch. The mandala plate with deities has a rugged design. They’re mostly used in shrines or for rituals and initiations that are held on a monthly basis. The most common mandala plates are:

  1. Amitayus
  2. Maha
  3. Vairochana
  4. Vajrayogini
Mandala plate with deities
Mandala plate with deities

The mandala plate is used as an offering mandala during a ritual where an offering is made to the universe. During the ritual, the plate is filled with rice is placed on the shrine along with shrine mandalas.

26. Mural Painting Mandala

The Mural Painting mandalas are painted pieces of art that are used for decorative purposes on walls, ceilings, and other permanent surfaces.

Mural Painting Mandalas feature an architectural aspect since the mural paintings bring out the architectural elements in a structure by incorporating them into the picture.

The artwork on murals is a great way to express one’s deeper feelings such as love. The mandalas may be used to represent togetherness, peace, and harmony.

27. Painting Mandala

Painting Mandalas or scroll mandalas are constructed using paints and pigments. They are created using fine brushes to bring out the details clearly.

Painting mandala
Painting mandala

28. Protection Mandala

Protection mandala
Protection mandala

These mandalas, just as their name suggest, are used to give protection to those who use it.
They would make a great choice of gift to those that you care about. It’s worth noting that the size of the protection mandala does not, in any way, affect its effectiveness.

The protection mandalas may be used for meditation purposes and also as part of a ritual.
Some good examples of protection mandalas are the Tara Protection Mandala and the Srid-Pa-Ho Protection Mandala. These two are very powerful protection tools according to the Tibetan traditions.

29. Sand Mandala

A sand mandala is made using sand and comprises many symbols and letters. Sand mandalas have always been a temporary form of art.

The sand mandalas represent impermanence in life. The Buddhist monks take days to build the sand mandala to completion and once ritual ceremonies have been enacted over them, the sand mandalas are dismantled.

Sand mandala
Sand Mandala – represent impermanence in life

After their deconstruction, the sand mandalas are then put in a water body such as a river. In Buddhism, sand mandalas are also symbols of cleansing and purification. The deconstruction process is still as important as the construction. Sometimes, sand mandalas are constructed using the dust of precious stones.

30. Scroll Painting Mandala

The scroll painting mandalas can be rolled and unrolled easily for transportation purposes. A good example of the Painting mandala is the “Thangka” which is a traditional Tibetan Buddhist scroll painting. A lot of patience goes into making such a masterpiece.

31. Sculptural Mandala

Sculptural mandalas are created with stone, metal, wood, clay, or any other material that would create a three-dimensional artistic visual impact. Sculptural mandalas had varying sizes from a few centimeters to several meters. They were used in Buddhism to give sacred offerings.

Modern-day sculptural mandalas have added some non-traditional forms of motifs and represent a diverse range of styles. Such sculptures may be used to complement spaces in homes and sacred places.

32. “Self Blessing” Mandala

When used for meditation purposes, the self-blessing mandala summons a steady blessing force that holds you in its field. The blessings enable you to process your deep feelings into a gentle embrace. Meditation on a self-blessing mandala gives you guidance all through the healing process.

33. Square Mandala

Most mandalas feature a square structure in the middle; this represents a safe place with a balance in the opposites.

The square mandala symbolizes the middle which is a meeting place. It contains the essence of the Buddha and has a palace that is the residence of the deities present. The square has four gates that symbolize a variety of ideas just as we saw in the introduction part of this piece.

34. Symbol Mandala

Symbol Mandalas are much-simplified versions where instead of actually drawing the actual deities, their hand attributes are used. Only the symbols that represent the deities are used when drawing symbol mandalas; the retinue figures are filled using small circles that are painted. Sometimes, there is nothing at all that indicates the presence of the retinue figures.

35. Thread-cross Mandala

The thread-cross mandala is also referred to as the Namka. It is made up using thin pieces of wood on a frame that is wrapped with threads of multiple colors. The wooden pieces come together to form various shapes and patterns that are displayed vertically.

Regular Thread-cross Mandalas are flat while there are those that are occasionally made into 3-D for the purpose of celebrating rituals.

36. Upright-figure Mandala

The upright-figure mandala, as opposed to the inverted-figure mandala, features different secondary figures standing upright in relation to the central figure of the composition. The central figure of the composition is considered to be the individual viewer of the composition.

37. Yantra Mandala

The Yantra Mandala features unique 2-D or 3-D geometric designs; the symbolism of these mandalas has a rich tradition. The mandalas are actively used for meditative purposes in Vajrayana Buddhism. Before a person can reach a state of enlightenment, they ought to actualize the pathway to divine forces within. Doing this allows a person to become whole and, therefore, they function within the energies of the universe.

38. Lotus Mandala

The lotus mandala is a 3-D sculpture that is made of metal. It features a blossoming lotus and a stem that functions as a stand. This piece of artwork requires one to focus on it in order to achieve peace.

Lotus mandala
Lotus mandala, symbolizing the East Asian cultures

The lotus is a flower that is considered to have many layers, symbolizing the East Asian cultures. Another reason why the beauty of the lotus flower is appreciated in Asia is that it is native in most of the countries.

Lotuses are a part of numerous mandalas due to the fact that they have a high level of complexity which fits perfectly with the complex geometric design of the mandalas. Some popular mandala designs that feature a lotus are:

  1. Sri Yantra
  2. Ganesha Yantra
  3. Trident Yantra
  4. Garbhadhatu Mandala
  5. Nava Padma Mandala
Trident Yantra mandala
Trident Yantra mandala

39. Flower Mandala

There are so many different types of flower mandalas. There are some that have a single flower whose petals radiating outwards. There are other designs that have many flowers in different sizes and colors.

Flower mandala
Flower mandala, bring spiritual enlightenment

The flower mandala features a series of overlapping circles that form flowers all through the mandala. This mandala is also known as the sacred geometry and is believed to bring spiritual enlightenment.

Here is a list of some common flower mandalas and their symbolism:

  • White Rose

The white rose is often associated with spiritual awakening

  • Pink Dahlia

This flower is a symbol of self-love

  • White Lily

This flower mandala represents our choices and decisions

  • Blue Morning Glory

This flower represents grace in a sense that brings peace

  • Red Begonia

This flower is a symbol of balance

40. Sun Mandala

For a long time, the sun has been a symbol of energy and vitality. In some cases, the sun mandala is also used to represent creativity and passion.

Sun mandala
Sun Mandala

Sun mandalas depict bright rays radiating from the center towards the outer ring of the mandala. These rays are of different sizes and are either wavy or straight. Some of the common sun mandalas are:

  1. Radiant Heat Sun Yantra
  2. Vitality Sun Yantra
  3. Creative Energy Sun
  4. Love Sun Yantra

The sun mandalas are not only used for spiritual purposes but also as decorative pieces.

Indian Cuisine Overview

A perfect blend of herbs and spices, with a varied range of grains, vegetables, and meats, sets Indian cuisine a precedent for the foodies from the remote reaches of the world.

As it’s said the cultural diversity of India changes with every 100-mile geographical shift, same is the case with cuisines that induce its influence from every wide gap in climate, people, and their combined effect on the way of treating locally found sources of nutrition.

With a broad history that carries its printed proof since the 16th century of the Mughals arrival and then fusion with overseas trade through the 21st century, narrates the nobility of architecting Indian cuisine to its optimum current state.

If we overlook the damage it bore from the extensive immigration, colonial periods, and Islamic ruler invasions, the Indian subcontinent has gained a vast influence in its cuisine configuration, that makes it tempting and fanciful for the food lovers, worldwide.

As the world witnessed a massive flow of globalization throughout distinct human cravings, Indian cuisine, too, got paint in its widespread force, exchanging cuisine pertinent information with rest of the world, to grease the pathway toward a trend of international cuisines’ food joints.

Every part of a nation has its own set of methods for cooking foods. Wrapping the worldwide available cuisine style in one landmass, India serves a variety of dishes that are too local in either Australia or Brazil or the US, making its cuisine versatile in every possible way.

Misconceptions busted about Indian Food

It’s a common misbelief rooted in the mindset of foreigners that make them dislike Indian food for any reason. But, as a traveler and food enthusiast, you need to bust the myths, to enjoy the finger-licking food experience offered by this land of a billion people.

Indian Food is too hot to consume

Most people prefer another cuisine over Indian because they inherit the widely spread misconception that it’s intolerable to bear the heat of Indian food.

Indian food culture
hot chili peppers – You can give it up…

But, in reality, the level of chilly choice is totally up to the customer, and one can adjust the taste preorder. Indians use spices like cinnamon, cardamom, and turmeric to keep food-borne bacteria at bay from order and nutrients spoilage.

Indian Food breaks your dieting routine

Not true at all and makes little sense when we’re dealing with a landmass covering a total geographical area of 1,269,299 sq miles. Whereas some food carries rich, luscious, and anti-dieting ingredients, some are extremely light and rich in fiber and protein.

In fact, thanks to the fusion of spices, Indian food can be a fabulous choice for dieters, for its flavorsome taste.

Indian food makes you ‘Gassy’

The cause of gas differs from person to person. For some, it could be trying a huge variety of distinct foods, while for others it could be dairy products or cruciferous vegetables.

In Indian foods, lentils and chickpeas are mostly blamed for the formation of gas, but it’s totally up to a body how it reacts and adjusts. The matter of the fact is “not all Indian food imparts gas.”

Indians restaurants don’t serve beef

Beef and pork are forbidden for Hindus and Muslims, respectively. In India, the cow is considered a sacred animal, and it is haram to eat pork by Muslims, as stated in their Quran.

Indian cuisine
Cows in India

If you try restaurants overseas, like in Australia, Indian cuisines readily serve beef. On a side note, McDonald’s has a customized menu for Indian customers, as they try to keep beef out of Indian sight.

Top spices widely used in Indian dishes

What makes Indian food so special in taste is a unique blend of spices. It’s hard to cook the way they do in Indian cuisines, but if you know the key spices they use, you can accomplish the same tantalizing aromas, vibrant colors; and spicy, sweet, and tangy flavors that the Indian foods are mostly known for.

The key to generating exact features, as served in restaurants and Indian homes, is to utilize the mix of spices in an appropriate proportion. To bring out the right flavor, bloom them in oil, butter, or ghee. These spices act not only as a cooking ingredient but also supplements your health benefit. Check out the top spices:

Cumin

For any sort of curry creation, in India, cumin is extensively used as a strong, aromatic spice. It’s available as either seeds or toasted. Because of its sharp taste and flavor, it’s sometimes characterized as warm, earthy, and bitter.

Indian cuisine Cumin
The most basic spicy in the Indian cuisine

Coriander

It’s described by many people as nutty and fruity. Coriander features in Indian cuisine as a spice and garnishing material. Coriander is the key component in Garam masala, which is the key ingredient to spice up the taste of any dish and soothe an upset stomach.

Indian cuisine Coriander
Coriander, rather you like it or hate it

Ginger

With its homeland in India, ginger is now found in Fiji, Australia, Jamaica, and Indonesia. Gingers are known for generating a delicious and peppery flavor in recipes. The spicy and zesty taste of ginger accounts for its use in stir-fries, baked goods, vegetables, and beverages.

Indian food spices
Ginger, a great refreshing taste addition for any dish 

Mustard Seeds

It can be found in many colors, such as black, brown, and yellow. Mustard seeds get the right flavor when they’re crushed, or cooked in oil. Mustard oil is produced from mustard seeds and is commonly found and used in India. The smoky and nutty flavor of mustard seeds enhance the taste of curries.

Indian cuisine Mustard seeds
Mustard seeds

Turmeric

Whereas in one hand there is a vast health benefit associated with the application of turmeric, it imparts a yellowish color and flavor as its feature to a mix of spices and curries on the other hand. It’s a close relative of ginger and is widely known for its anti-inflammatory properties.

Indian food Turmeric
Turmeric, adding color and rich taste any Indian dish

Garam masala

A blend of spices—like coriander, cumin, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg—constitute the garam masala. Acting as a staple for Indian cuisine, garam masala serves the same purpose as de Provence in French cuisine. It’s sensitive to heat and, therefore, is sprinkled at the last moment when the recipe gets almost done.

Indian cuisine Garam Masala
One of the most iconic Indian spices

Black Pepper

Black pepper is primarily native to India. As there need many natural cycles and a fixed amount of rainfall for its production, it takes intense labor work to grow. For the ultimate release of its taste, black pepper needs toasting before blending. It can also be used as the salad dressing, with salt.

South Indian cuisine black pepper
Black Pepper, sharpen the tastes

Nutmeg and mace

Once the outer covering of nutmeg gets cracked off, mace becomes ready for grating. When it turns dry, it gains a golden-orange tint and adds a hint of warm flavor. Like other spices, nutmeg doesn’t require toasting before blending into spices. Doing so would spoil its flavor.

Indian food Nutmeg
Nutmeg spicy

Top delicious Indian dishes, made for satisfying your appetite

Sarso ka Saag and Makki ki Roti

Sarson Ka Saag and Makki ki Roti complete each other and are inseparable for a fused taste and finger-licking appetite achievement. It’s popular almost in all northern states, with Rajasthan and Punjab as the original state where a true sense of its importance is shared traditionally. To profuse the lust of mouth, white butter, jaggery, or honey work as the best accompaniment.

Indian cuisine Sarso ka Saag and Makki ki Roti
Sarso ka Saag and Makki ki Roti

Time: 2 hours | Calorie: 90 per roti and 150 per saag serving

Key Ingredients needed for Saag

Saag

  • 750-gram Sarson Saag
  • 250-gram Palak Saag
  • 250-gram Bathua Saag

Spices

  • 4 Green chilly
  • 25 gram Ginger
  • 2 Onions
  • 6 cloves Garlic
  • 1/2 tsp Red pepper powder
  • 1/2 tsp Garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp Coriander powder

Other Essentials

  • 100 gram Ghee
  • 1 1/2 cup Makki atta
  • 2 cups water
  • Salt as per taste

Step-by-step cooking guide

  • Mix three saags—bathua, palak, and sarson—with salt and water, and cook them in a pressure cooker at low flame for one and half an hour.
  • Squeeze saag to separate saag water. Mash the water-free saag until coarsely ground. Add makki atta and stir the blend.
  • Remix the filtered saag water, along with a little drinkable water, and start cooking again over a low flame.
  • Add finely chopped green chilies and ginger, and let the heat do its work.
  • Turn off the flame once saag gets a thick texture.
  • On the second burner, to prepare tadka, pour some oil in a frying pan and add finely chopped onions, ginger, and garlic.
  • At about 2 minutes, add red pepper powder, garam masala, and dhania.
  • Saute until onions get light brown.
  • Mix the tadka and ghee/butter with saag.

Key ingredients for Makki ki Roti

  • ½ kg makki flour
  • Water
  • Ghee
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 pinch red chili powder

Step-by-step guide

  • Mix all the ingredients—makki flour, red chili powder, ghee, and salt—nicely.
  • Add lukewarm water in the maize flour and knead softly with hands, to prepare a soft dough.
  • Using an equal portion of dough, build medium-sized balls.
  • To prepare roti, use extra flour to flatten it into a round shape, on a chakla or a plane surface.
  • Put the round-shaped roti on the frying pan, and cook until golden water.
  • Use ghee to soften the roti.
https://youtu.be/JjZxqmQriXA

Pav Bhaji

Indian food recipe Pav Bhaji

Evolving from Maharashtra, Pav Bhaji has become one of the most popular vegetarian recipes of India, as it requires minimal time and efforts to cook and taste the best, which all food lovers readily relate their choice with. This delicious recipe is full of spices and veggies, which make it full of nutrients and popular regardless of age and gender. All it takes, in extra, for completing a mouth full serve is pav (bun bread) and mint chutney.

Pav Bhaji Time: 40 minutes | Calories: 600 per plate with 2 pav

Key ingredients needed for Pav Bhaji

Veggies:

  • 4 mashed, boiled potato
  • 2 chopped onion
  • 1/2 chopped cauliflower
  • 1 cup shelled peas
  • 1/4 cup green beans
  • Chopped carrot
  • 4 chopped tomato
  • 1 de-seeded capsicum
  • Coriander leaves (for garnishing)

Other Essentials:

  • 3 tablespoon refined oil
  • salt as per taste
  • 30 gm melted butter
  • 1 medium lemon wedges
  • 8 pavs

Spices:

  • 2 teaspoon garlic paste
  • 1/2 tablespoon ginger paste
  • 2 chopped green chili
  • 2 teaspoon pav bhaji masala

Step-by-step Guide

  • Boil the veggies—carrots, beans, cauliflower, and peas—in a pressure cooker. Drain the water and mash coarsely.
  • Fry three-fourths of onions in a pan, using oil and saute until it gains a golden glimpse. Further, pour ginger-garlic and green chilies paste and fry for a minute.
  • Sprinkle pav bhaji masala, capsicum, and then, fry for an additional minute.
  • Add finely chopped tomatoes and salt. Turn the stove knob to medium and keep stirring until oil separates from the masala.
  • Add mashed potatoes, cauliflower, mashed peas, and 2 cups of water. Simmer it for about 10 minutes. Keep pressing it with the back of the spoon, to mash the mixture properly.
  • Garnish bhaji with remaining onions, lemon wedges, butter, and coriander leaves.
  • Crisping pav: Slice each pav horizontally into two. Put about 15 grams of butter in a pan. Fry pavs to make it crispy.

Chicken Biryani

Indian food recipe Chicken Biryani
Chicken Biryani (Credit: Shehal at English Wikipedia)

Chicken biryani, a pairing of chicken and rice, has permeated the culinary Indian culture, to stretch its aroma around the world. It’s a mouth-watering savory dish packed with spicy marinated chicken, flavored saffron rice, and caramelized onions.

It’s an intensely aromatic and well-seasoned dish, incorporating veggies, rice, and chicken in such perfect balance that provokes the taste buds of any food lover to extremities. It’s easy to cook, consumes less cooking time than expected, and serves high calorie.

Time to cook: 1 hr | Calorie: 520 per 365 grams

Key ingredients needed for chicken biryani:

Prime Essentials:

  • 650 grams rice
  • 1 Kg meat

Spices:

  • 1 Tbsp red chili paste
  • ½ Tbsp green chili paste
  • 1 Tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • ½ Tbsp cardamom powder
  • 1 Tbsp cumin seeds
  • 3-4 pieces cinnamon
  • 4 Cloves

Other essentials:

  • ½ cup oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 250 grams curd
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 Tbsp saffron

Garnishing ingredients

  • Finely sliced cucumbers
  • Sliced carrots
  • 2 boiled eggs
  • Mint leaves

Step-by-step guide

  • How to marinate the chicken? Put vegetable oil, chili peppers, mint, cinnamon, salt, garlic paste, garam masala, ginger, and chicken pieces in a big bowl and stir till all mix well. Use your hand to coat the chicken thoroughly in the marinade, and leave it untouched for an hour.
  • How to caramelize onions? Use ghee or vegetable oil to caramelize onions. Put the flame on low and stir it for 10-15 minutes. Once it gets a brownish appearance, transfer the onions to a separate bowl and allow cooling.
  • Soak the rice in lukewarm water and then, wash it in cold water until the water runs clear.
  • Put water, cardamom, cumin, bay leaf, and rice in a separate bowl, and par-boil them for 7 minutes. Drain the rest of the water from the rice, keeping reserve about 1 cup.
  • In a separate bowl, put the chicken in a single layer and use some oil or ghee to fry each side for about 5 minutes. Once both sides gain a golden brown color, transfer the chicken to the bowl you used for marination.
  • Add saffron to the rice and mix it evenly. Put half of the rice in the bowl used for frying chicken. Place all the chicken onto the rice, forming an even layer. Pour three-fourths of the rice on top of the chicken and then, put caramelized onions on the very top. Top onions with the remaining rice, forming an even layer all around.
  • Pour the reserved liquid obtained from boiling the rice. Seal pack the pot with the lead using dough created from wheat flour and put the pot on the stove over medium flame for about half an hour.
  • Once you watch steam leaking from cracks developed in between the lid and dough layering, turn the stove knob to low and allow cooking for an additional five minutes. Check the sound of water simmering in the pot. If you hear it dimming down, or all gone, turn off the flame.
  • Let it cool for some time and then, garnish it using cucumber, carrot, eggs, and mints.

Idli Sambar

Indian food Idli Sambar
Idli Sambar

Idli and sambar complete each other. Sambar is basically a hot and spicy lentil soup that covers most of the masalas/spices that southern region is loaded with.

Although Idli Sambar, for its tasteful diet, has gained a significant name in the northern part, the taste that homemade masalas create in southern India, beats all practices no matter how hard north Indians try.

Unlike all Indian foods which rely largely on frying in oil, Idli and Sambar are mostly boiled and include a lot of veggies which combine together to surge full the taste and nutrition.

Cooking Time: 1 hr | Calorie: 310 per 1 cup sambar and 3 idli

Key ingredients needed for Idli

  • 2 cup Rice
  • ½ cup Urad Dal (Black Gram)
  • ½ Tbsp Fenugreek Seeds
  • Water as required, or 2-3 cup
  • Salt as per taste

Step-by-step guide

  • Soak rice in water for 5 hours
  • In a separate bowl, soak black gram and fenugreek seeds in water for 5 hours.
  • Create a paste by grinding black gram and fenugreek seeds, using some fresh water.
  • Create rice paste using the above process.
  • Mix both the paste and add a little rock salt to it.
  • Expose the idli batter to the sun, for good fermentation.
  • Next day, using cotton, apply a layering of oil on the idli stand and then, lay idli batter on it.
  • In an idli cooker, use steam to cook idli batter.
  • Use a wooden stick to check whether idli has swelled or not.
  • Drizzle a little water over it and capsize the idli stand, to take out idli.

Key ingredients required for Sambar

Prime essentials:

  • 4 medium-sized Tomatoes
  • Coconut
  • 250g onions
  • 100g black gram (roasted)

Spices

  • 2 Tbsp Fennel
  • 3 Cloves
  • 3 Cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp Coriander leaves
  • 2 Tbsp Turmeric Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Red chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp sambar powder
  • ½ Tbsp mustard seeds

Other essentials

  • 2 Tbsp curry leaves
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 3-4 Tbsp Oil (Groundnut)
  • Water as required (2-3 cup)

Step-by-step guide

  • Pour finely chopped onions and tomatoes in a pan and over a medium flame, use some oil to saute it well.
  • Allow it to cool and then grind the mixture of both, to make a paste.
  • In another pan, without using oil, roast spices like cloves, cinnamon, and fennel.
  • Once the spices roast well, take a grinder and put all the spices, along with coconut and roasted black gram, and grind them all, to make a paste.
  • Place a pan on flame and using oil, saute mustard seeds, curry leaves, and onion and tomato paste.
  • Further, mix turmeric powder, sambar powder, salt, and red chilly powder in it, and saute again for 2 minutes.
  • Add the paste prepared in 4th step and then, saute again.
  • Pour water and boil for 5 minutes, to create a masala-rich gravy.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves.

Butter Chicken

Indian cuisine Butter chicken
Butter chicken (credit: stu_spivack )

Believe it or not, but this Punjabi dish has spread all around India, gaining a prominent place in most Indian kitchens. Also called Murgh Makhani, it first originated in the early 20th century, to soften the leftover tandoori chicken with tomatoes, butter, and cream. In India, still bone-in chicken is in wide trend because of the flavor preference; in abroad, boneless chicken is commonly used. It’s a very easy recipe to cook as it doesn’t require more efforts and cook within 30 minutes.

Cooking time: 30 minutes | Calorie: 400 per 5 ounce

Key Ingredients needed for butter chicken

Prime Essentials

  • 1 pound boneless, or with bone, chicken thighs
  • 600 grams stewed tomatoes
  • Salt as per taste
  • 2 sliced onions (medium size)

Spices

  • 4 grated garlic cloves
  • 1 Tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 whole clove
  • 2 Tbsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 Tbsp garam masala
  • ½ Tbsp turmeric powder
  • 5 green cardamom pods
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 2 hot variety chiles

Other essentials

  • ½ cup yogurt
  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup heavy cream

Step-by-step guide

  • Mix almonds, yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, and spices in a bowl, and stir till all the ingredients fuse well.
  • Add chicken to it and use your hand to coat the chicken all around with the gravy prepared in the previous step. Marinate for an hour or two or overnight.
  • Take a thick-layered pot and heat vegetable oil or ghee over medium flame. Put onion into the pot and cook for about 5-7 minutes until onion turns soft and translucent.
  • Further, add garlic and ginger to it and cook for one more minute.
  • Pour the marinated chicken and marinade into the pot. Simmer the chicken until it gets a white appearance.
  • Add tomato puree and black cardamom pod. Turn the knob to medium and cover the pot with a lid and simmer the chicken for an additional 25 minutes, with regular stirring.
  • Add butter and cream and keep stirring until both dissolves entirely.
  • Add salt as per your taste and garnish with some extra cream and chopped cilantro.

The tremendous power of Indian cuisine: Overview of constitution & Health Aspect

The very first thought that conjures you up about Indian food it is hot, spicy, unhealthy, fatty, greasy, and gas-causing features.

Is it so? No.

fresh vegetables in Indian cuisine
Fresh vegetables, an essential part of the Indian cuisine

Myth busted! Set free the perspective that’s biased and globally accepted. From now, the thing that should emerge in your mind is that Indian foods are nourishing, wholesome, healthy, and full of spices, which have plenty of health benefits and healing powers.

No, don’t listen to those crackpots who have framed such false and fabricated theories about what this vast peninsula offers.

Had they been true, Indians would have extinct. But, are they? They’re over a billion and second most populous land after China.

The famous Indian dish: thali
The famous Indian dish: thali

The health aspect is such a trait that goes unnoticed by all and so, it’s important to be aware of what actually Indian foods offer.

An array of fresh vegetables and fruits fuse in together to form a variety of dish.

These ingredients are cooked using traditional practices that help to retain their freshness and nutrients, unlike those processes—followed in developed countries—that pull the life out of vegetables. Indians are close to nature and so does the organic method of farming reflect in their cuisine.

  • Indians don’t rely on preservatives. They always use fresh ingredients and prepare food from scratch. Unlike the trend of packaged foods that has engulfed almost all developed countries, Indians stick to the leeward side where there is still hope for consuming foods that come directly out of the soil. Majority of the population is farmers, so less comes the situation when they opt for packaged foods.
  • Indians take a balanced diet as they still practice a ‘thali’ system in which a variety of dishes are prepared for lunch and dinner time. In a single thali serve, they get all the major nutrients, such as carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and fibers. The spices used in foods are laced with medicinal powers. The royal families used to have Chappan Bhog (fifty-six dishes) at one time, which is still in fashion in upper classes.

Best Indian vegan dishes

Do you also support the vegan movement and prefer to switch to food prepared without the aid of animal products? India, the country with the core of diversity,  is a storehouse of innumerable vegan Indian dishes prepared without the use of animal products. We bring you some of the popular vegan dishes that add equal nutrition and give astonishing savor to your tongue in comparison to the non-vegan dishes. Have a brief insight into some of the popular vegan Indian dishes:

Rajma- chawal

Rajma
Super healthy Indian vegan food
Rajma is one of the most popular Indian vegan dishes made from red Kidney beans. Eaten with bread/chapati or cooked rice, it is a mouth-watering dish loved by folks of all ages. The cooking time is usually 45 minutes, but you need to soak the rajma for a few hours before boiling it for around 20 minutes. After successfully boiling, add the red kidney beans in a gravy of onion, tomato and popular Indian spices like turmeric, dry coriander, salt, red chilli, heeng, etc. It is a highly nutritious dish rich in dietary fibers and protein, with zero cholesterol.

Baingan ka Bharta

baingan ka bharta
baingan ka bharta, tasty
Baingan Bharta is a grilled eggplant curry requiring preparation time of 30 minutes. This simple dish is prepared in a bit spice tang and served with Indian fried wheat flour or parantha. The eggplants may be grilled in microwaves, on gas stoves directly, or in Indian traditional tandoors. The grilled mash of the eggplant is then mixed in the gravy of onion, tomato, and other hot typical Indian spices. Garam masala is the special spice added in Bharta in last, along with a few chopped leaves of coriander for garnishing. This tempting spicy dish is rich in fats and carbohydrates and gives almost 83% calories to your soma.    

Vegetable Pakora

vegetable pakora
vegetable pakora, one of the best Indian food dishes
The list of Indian vegan snacks is incomplete without Pakoras. They are elementarily the Indian squander prepared from the chickpea flour and vegetables like cabbage, potato, onion, bell peppers, etc. All you need is to make a paste of besan added with salt, coriander powder, and red chili powder as per taste. Deep fry the dipped sliced vegetables into oil till it gets a little brown.  Serve them hot with coriander, tomato, or mint chutney. These are popular breakfast and evening snacks of Indians.

Aloo Kachauri and Sabji

Aloo Kachauri and Sabji Bedmi or kachauri is a deep-fried Indian bread stuffed with urad dal or mashed boiled potato. This fat-and-carbohydrate rich bread is served with potato and tomato curry, that complements each other exceptionally well. This is one of the popular foods offered to guests in north India and is a popular cuisine cooked during festivals.

Dhokla

Dhokla It is a dish from the land of Gujarat. Dhokla is a besan or chickpea flour-based snack having a preparation time of 30 minutes. All you need is to make the batter of besan and add a bit of baking powder and salt in it. Leave it for 5-10 minutes and then pour the batter either in a dhokla-making steaming utensil or a microwave. Let it steam for 10-15 minutes, at a low gas flame.  Post dhokla, pour the tadaka of mustard seeds, curry leaves, and some green chili in sugar added water and sprinkle it all over the dish. Serve it with tamarind or green coriander chutney.

India Street food

A foreigner’s visit to India does not complete until he/she tries his/her hand on street foods of India, spread across cities of all sizes and order. If anything that addresses a distinct flavor, appearance, and perspective about the making of Indian cuisine is its fast food served in the open streets. It doesn’t matter how health conscious one is—without doubt, he/she would yield before the finger-licking, mouth-watering, and taste bud-lingering effect of the following street foods, asking for once more, one more.

Pani Puri

Literally, Pani means water, and puris are fried hollow dough balls. Pani puri is popular all across India and there is not a single state (province) where you won’t locate ‘thelawalas’ (roadside stalls), with puris stored inside a glass-closed structure.

Indian street food Pani Puri
Pani Puri, you won’t believe how many you can eat

It has all three tastes—teekha (spicy), khatta (sour), and meetha (sweet)—assembled in it. Crisp fried dough balls stuffed with potato, sprouts, sweet chutney, and/or spicy tangy water make pani puri such a delicious street food that would turn you into a fan of it from the very first attempt.

Chhole Bhature

Chole Bhature is an exotic Punjabi dish, which has found its place in houses, restaurants, and street vendors. It’s often eaten as breakfast and gets a complete package appearance when accompanied by onions, green chutney, radish, carrot pickle, achar, lemon, and cucumber.

Indian cuisine Chhole Bhature
Chhole Bhature served with Boondhi Raita on a roadside stall (credit: SpeedWeed )

Chole Bhature is a combination of chickpeas, cooked in spicy masala; and bhatura—a fluffy, round maida flour bread (soft wheat) deep fried in refined oil. The crispy layering of Bhature, dipped in spice-packed chole, yields a completely unique flavor.

Masala Dosa

With its origin in Udupi, Karnataka, the love for masala dosa is seen all over the country, mainly in the southern region. Masala dosa is a popular variety of dosa.

Most people prefer to eat it as it’s low in calorie and extremely appetizing. For its light effect on the stomach, people love to have it in breakfast, lunch, and even dinner. It’s a fermented crepe stuffed with potatoes, fried onions, and spices.

Indian cuisine Masala Dosa
Masala Dosa, crispy and tasty

Masala dosa is made using rice, potato, onions, tomato (optional), lentils, curry leaves, and methi. To enhance its effect on the tongue, it’s served with sambar and chutney made of coconut.

Samosa

Samosa is an all-time favorite tea time snack in India. Found in various shapes like a triangular, cone, and half-moon, this is basically a deep-fried pocket of wheat, or maida, dough stuffed with potato, spices, peas, onions, and lentils.

Indian street food Samosa
Samosa, you will get addicted…

It’s often accompanied by tomato sauce and/or green chutney, to elevate its flavor. Spreading across the Indian border, it has become widely known in Africa, China, Southeast Asia, and the Mediterranean. It fits best for all sorts of people, in terms of spice bearing capacity. It’s such a dish that’s too common in the streets and common Indian kitchens.

Chaat

Chaat has many varieties—the main among them are papdi chaat, bhelpuri, aloo, samosa chaat, tikki chaat, cheela, and ragda pattice.

Out of many of its kind, Papdi, samosa, and Tikki chaat are found everywhere. It originated in Uttar Pradesh, India; however, the uncontrolled taste that this savory snack delivers, couldn’t stop from spreading to Pakistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh.

Indian culture food Dahi Bhalla Chaat
Dahi Bhalla Chaat (credit: Nitin Badhwar)

The main ingredients are boiled potato, and/or Chhole, curd, onion, Aloo Bhujia, mint chutney, chili, Papdi, and tamarind sauce, which collectively spice up to make this dish so addictive that you would like to have it on a weekly basis.

29 Of the Indian States and Its typical dishes

Andhra Pradesh

Staple Food: Rice and Sambar

Top Dishes: Andhra Chicken Biryani, Pulihora, Chepa Pulusu, Curd Rice, Medu Vada, Uppindi

Indian food culture Pulihora
Typical South Indian dish. (Credit: JVRKPRASAD)

Famous Sweets & Desserts: Qubani ka meetha, Kajjikayalu, Ariselu, Pootharekulu Kunda

Arunachal Pradesh

Staple Food: Rice along with fish

Top Dishes: Daal and eggs, Panchforan Tarkari, Bamboo Shoot, Lukter

Indian food culture Bamboo shot
Bamboo shoot (credit: Hosaki-Menma)

Famous Sweet & Desserts: Khapse (Zhero), Momo

Mizoram

Top Dishes: Bai, Koat Pitha, Mizo vawksa, Chhum Han, Bamboo shoot fry

Famous Sweet: Koat Pitha, Chaangban Leh Kurtai

Nagaland

Top Dishes: Dried Pork, Boiled Vegetables, Bamboo steamed fish, Crab chili sauce

Famous Sweet: Koat Pitha, Nap Naang

Sikkim

Top Dishes: Phagshapa, Sael Roti, Kinema, Gundruk and Sinki, Niguru with Churpi

Famous Sweet: Sael Roti

West Bengal

Top Dishes: Tangra macher jhol, Luchi, Mochar Ghonto, Potol’er dolma, Bhetki machh’er paturi

Famous Sweet: Sandesh, Aam pora Shorbot,

Assam

Top Dishes: Khaar, Duck meat curry, Massor Tenga, Paro Manxho, Omita Khar, Dhekia xaak

Famous Sweet: Narikol’ or Ladoo

Bihar

Top Dishes: Litti Chokha, Mutton Kebabs, Kadhi badi, Daal puri, Paratha, Saag, Khichdi

Famous Sweet: Naivedyam, Pedakiya, Chana ghugni, Laai

Jharkhand

Top Dishes: Pittha, Rugra, Dhuska, Chilka Roti, Kanda ki Sabzi, Mahua Masala, Bamboo shoots

Famous Sweet:Malpua, Til Barfi, Mitha khaja, Thekua

Uttar Pradesh

Top Dishes: Mutton Kofta, Kakori Kebab, Aloo Rasedaar, Dum Aloo, Baigan Kaloojee, Dahiwale Aloo, Daal Kachori

Famous Sweet: Pedha, Petha, Malpua, Rasmalai, Sheer Khurma

Uttarakhand

Top Dishes: Phaanu, Kafuli, Kandalee ka saag, Dubuk Dubke, Chudkaani, Baadi, Garhwal ka Fannah

Famous Sweet: Jhangora ki Kheer, Gulgula, Arsa, Singori

Punjab

Top Dishes: Sarson ka Saag aur makki ki roti, Tandoori Chicken, Machchli Amritsari, Butter Chicken, Rajma Chawal

Famous Sweet: Shakkar para, Karma Prashad, Pinni

Haryana

Top Dishes: Besan masala roti, Hara dhania cholia, Dahi vada, Bajra Khichdi, Kadhi pakora,

Famous Sweet: Malpua, Alsi ki pinni, Kheer

Jammu & Kashmir

Top Dishes: Dum Aloo, Kashmiri Pulao, Rogan Josh, Matschgand, Lyodur Tschaman

Famous Sweet: Shufta

Himachal Pradesh

Top Dishes: Madra, Dhaam, Tudkiya Bhath, Chha gosht, Siddu, Kullu Trout Fish, Babru

Famous Sweets: Babroo

Maharashtra

Top Dishes: Misal Pav, Pithla Bhakri, Vada pav, Puran Poli, Val usal, Chicken Kolhapuri, Upasachi Kachori, Kande pohe

Famous Sweet: Shrikhand, Modak, Shankarpali

Kerala

Top Dishes: Idiyappam with Curry, Pattu and Kadala Curry, Ela Sadya, Idli Samber, Nadan Kozhi Varuthathu, Sadhya, Malabar Biryani

Famous Sweet: Payasam

Goa

Top Dishes: Goan Prawn Curry, Rava Fried Fish, Goan Squid Fry, Pork Vindaloo, Fonna Kadi, Mussel Rawa Fry, Shark Ambot Tik

Famous Sweet: Bebinca, Goan Nevri, Bolinhas, Kulkul

Tamil Nadu

Top Dishes: Idli, Sambar, Dosa, Uttapam, Banana Bonda, Prawns Kuzhambu, Urlai Roast, Chicken Chettinad, Coconut Chutney

Famous Sweet: Arisi Thengai Payasam, Pongal

Karnataka

Top Dishes: Neer Dosa, Mysore Masala Dosa, Coorg Pandi Curry, Bisi Bele Bath, Mangalorean Biryani, Sagu, Chow Chow Bhath

Famous Sweet: Mysore Pak, Haalbai, Rava Kesari, Pori Urundai, Chiroti

Madhya Pradesh

Top Dishes: Poha, Daal Bafla, Bhopali Gosht, Korma, Chakki ki Shak, Biryani Pilaf, Bhutte Ka Kees, Papad ki Sabzi

Famous Sweet: Malpua, Kesari Jalebi, Mawa Bati

Rajasthan

Top Dishes: Dal Bati Churma, Mohan Maas, Gatte ki Khichdi, Boondi Raita, Methi Bajra Poori, Pyaaz Kachori, Laal Maas, Kadhi

Famous Sweet: Dil Khushal, Churma Ladoo, Badam ka halwa, Mawa Kachori, Gujia, Ghevar, Kalakand

Gujrat

Top Dishes: Khandvi, Undhiyu, Gujarati Kadhi, Dhokla, Handvo, Patra, Thepla, Muthiya

Famous Sweet: Shrikhand, Mohanthal, Adadiya, Monthar, Maisub, Shiro, Doodhpak

Orissa

Top Dishes: Chungdi Malai, Macha Ghanta, Kanika, Santula, Water Rice-Phakhala Bhata, Aloo Dum Dhaibara, Mutton Mudhi, Dhenkanal Bara

Famous Sweet: Rasabadi, Chhena Poda, Rasgulla, Chenna Jhillipi

Telangana

Top Dishes: Sarva Pindi, Pachi Pulusu, Golichina Mmsam, Hyderabadi Biryani, Polelu, Sakinalu, Gongura Chutney

Famous Sweet: Malidalu, Garijalu, Qubani ka Meetha, Kobbari Pappu Payasam, Garijalu

Chattisgarh

Top Dishes: Aamat, Chila, Bhajia, Sabudana ki Khichdi, Bara Faraa, Bafauri, Kadhi Pakoda, Kusli

Famous Sweet: Tilgur, Khurma, Moong Dal Halwa, Lavang Lata

Manipur

Top Dishes: Chamthong, Eromba, Paaknam, Alu Kngmet, Kangshoi, Nga-Thongba

Famous Sweet: Chakhao Kheer

Tripura

Top Dishes:  Mui Parok, Kasoi Bwtwi, Gudok, Mosdeng, Serma, Bhangui, Wahai Mosdeng

Famous Sweet: Awan Bangwi

Meghalaya

Top Dishes: Nakham Bitchi, Doh-Neiiong, Pudoh, Sakin Gata, Dohkhlieh, Jadoh, Zunka Bhakar, Pumaloi, Momo

Famous Sweet: Pukhlein

The New Social Credit System of China 

China’s Social Credit System is a system that collects information about Chinese citizens from various sources, weighs the various data, and generates a ranking for each citizen.

The way this system works can be likened to the way Google works.

Google wants to provide the best browsing experience to users by enabling them to get the most accurate information.

Google does this by regularly checking all sites on the Internet and ranking them according to a series of parameters that undergo a constant optimization process.

The more appropriate the content is to the parameters defined by Google, the higher it ranks.

Content that is less compatible with Google’s parameters ranks lower, and in extreme cases, it will disappear completely from the search results.

The Social Credit System in China will check all Chinese citizens and rank them according to a series of parameters. It will continue to undergo a constant optimization process.

The Chinese government wants to provide the best life experience to its citizens through absolute security, crime prevention, and removal of “negative” people, as defined by the system, from the public domain.

Thus, the Chinese Social Credit System strives to rank the entire Chinese population automatically by a set of parameters representing “ideal behavior” as the Chinese regime sees it.

The differences between the Social Credit System and Google


1. Choosing whether to be part of the system 

Google allows site owners to choose whether to enable the search engine to crawl the entire site, only specific pages, or not at all. Chinese citizens will not have this choice.

2. Purpose 

Google’s top goal is to provide ideal content for web surfers. The supreme goal of the Chinese regime is to impose a certain ideology and form of behavior on all citizens of the country.

3. The operation of the ranking algorithm

Although Google maintains secrecy about specifics of how the algorithm works, there is certainly considerable transparency regarding the way it works and the changes that Google makes regarding the importance of the different parameters.

It can be assumed that the Chinese system’s considerations will not be transparent to Chinese citizens. That is, the weight given to each behavior will be confidential. For example: What is worse, failure to pay a debt or political criticism of the Chinese regime?

Characteristics of the Social Credit System in China 

The system is currently in its pilot phase collecting information from any possible source. The information will be classified according to four categories:

  1. Honesty in government affairs
  2. Commercial integrity
  3. Social integrity
  4. Judicial credability

The system will build a profile for each citizen. The profile will include any possible personal related data in any possible aspect of life, in which information can be collected. In our times, this means almost everything about an indivividual can and will be collected.

Negative information collected includes: political writing on the Internet (which is not coherent with the Chinese regime ideology), criticizing the government, supporting oppositional bodies, non-payment of debts, non-payment of income tax, breaking the law, disobeying traffic laws, disputes with neighbors or at workplaces, etc.

Positive information collected includes all obligations such as, repayment of debts, an absence of offense records, volunteering, support for the government (if expressed publicly), etc.

Each figure gets weighed into the general profile of the citizen. Depending on the weight of the various parameters, the citizen receives a rating. The rating can move down and up depending on the citizen’s behavior.

Citizen grading will have a dramatic impact on their live. In fact, this is a practical translation of the religious system of reward and punishment. The religious system is based solely on belief, while the Chinese system will receive a very concrete translation in everyday life.

How will the Social Credit System of China be expressed? 

The Chinese citizen will not be exposed to the considerations of the algorithm and the weight of each variable within the algorithm, but they will certainly be exposed to its results.

A citizen with a negative rating will feel the constriction of the Chinese government. This constriction will have different consequences.

For example: Preventing flights, preventing train traffic, preventing first class tickets in various transportation methods, preventing hotel reservations, preventing access to more prestigious jobs, preventing access to better education for children, and receiving negative publicity.

A positive profile will be encouraged by the administration and this will be expressed in several ways.

For example: Allowing loans or loans on more favorable terms, and access to better jobs. Another example that illustrates the level of involvement is the boost of the citizen’s profile on China’s largest dating site.

The purpose of Social Credit System

The purpose of the system was defined by Xi Jinping ,China’s president:

“To allow trustworthy people to travel everywhere under the sky, and on the other hand to make it difficult for those who are not worthy of trust to take one step.”

In other words, the Chinese government – which has the exclusive authority to define what is right and wrong, what is moral and immoral, what ideology is permitted and what is not – wants to enforce a set of values and rules to create an effective, automatic, and reliable system of reward and punishment that will reward “good” citizens, while punishing “bad”citizens, and thus train 1.3 billion people to live according to the line defined by the Chinese ruling party.

Such a system would be a perfect tool for social engineering on a scale not yet seen in human history and would allow the Chinese ruling party to increase its ability to control China’s huge population.

Are there systems
similar to the Social Credit System?

There are already systems that collect and operate private information on civilians on a large scale:

Banks document the financial conduct of citizens and reward or punish accordingly by preventing account actions and various account restrictions.

Credit companies punish people who do not repay their debts, depriving them of credit cards or credit facilities.

Insurance companies compensate drivers who have not been in an accident with lower rates. Medical insurance for healthy people and expensive insurance rates for sick people or those who are more prone to disease.

Facebook collects information on a massive scale. Facebook’s audience insights system creates a huge map of population types with the possibility to focus on every segment of the population by infinitely different definitions and private information of almost 2 billion users of Facebook.

Through the system, Facebook knows how to target advertisements in a very focused way.

Each country collects information about its citizens such as address, work, family members, illness, residence, income, crime, and sometimes surveillance.

Secret services of different countries monitor information across the Internet, collect a great deal of knowledge about people around the world, cross information, and try to spot potential risks as they understand them.

Still, there are very fundamental differences between these systems and the Chinese system:

Social Engineering The first and most significant difference is that these systems do not work in favor of social engineering. Their ideology is economic and/or security.

They do not act in the name of a moral ideology (certainly not explicitly) and attempt to train populations to behave according to a certain set of values determined by the party that initiated the system.

Information loop – These systems do not close the information loop. Each system retains its information.

The systems belonging to private companies remain in their possession and are subject to laws that prohibit them from sharing or making use of private information (if they violate the law, they take certain risks and must be held accountable). 

The Chinese system has not yet closed the entire loop between the subsystems that provide the information but it aspires to get there.

The Chinese system aspires to reach the point where all the various systems that gather information about citizens, whether governmental or business, report and transfer to the social credit system the information that they accumulate on citizens on an ongoing basis.

Advantages and Disadvantages of the Chinese Social Credit System

Advantages of the Social Credit System

1. Control – As of today, China is the most populous country in the world. In a short time, it will lose its lead in favor of India but will remain for the near and distant future, one of the most populous countries in the world.

Controlling a country of about 1.4 billion people is not a trivial task. There are many challenges. State management, economic growth, order, economic inequality among huge populations, the transition from villages to large cities, the continued development of huge cities, human diversity, personal security, and the list goes on.

In order to achieve its goals, the Chinese ruling party must minimize the challenges of controlling the population, reduce the risk of internal unrest and social unrest, and concentrate forces to achieve the goals it has set for itself (for example, the five-year plan).

The system will help China direct the huge population in the direction it wants to strive in a much shorter time range than India will be capable of.

2. Personal security – The system will certainly improve the level of personal security for citizens. It will improve crime, delinquency, and even the small day-to-day infractions of law-abiding citizens, such as traffic offenses.

3. Economic morality –  The system will improve the economic morality of the Chinese and will affect the national economic system for the better.

4. Execution through rewards – The system will allow the Chinese government to decide to direct the population through rewards, and thus achieve rapid results.

Disadvantages of the social Credit System

1. Lack of freedom –  This central disadvantage of the system relates to the essence of human existence. Are we free to choose our way? Are we entitled to decide what is right or wrong for us? Are we entitled to freedom?

What does this freedom include? Is the right to privacy part of freedom? According to the monotheistic religions, there is a God who created the world, controls it, supervises it, and supervises the people and their actions.

Whoever believes in God believes that he rewards him for good deeds, punishes him for bad deeds, and in any case that appears to be a mismatch between man’s actions and the reality of his life, there are various explanations intended to settle the contradiction.

It is clear that the connection between actions and results is not unequivocal, no matter how much the believer believes.

The Chinese system in this sense is a megalomaniac; it will replace God and become much more tangible and predictable than God. In its ability to immediately punish those who deviate from the path, it will tame all the people under it wing.

It will create a direct and quick connection between people’s behavior and the outcome. This connection will be made at any time and place where people can be delayed.

The citizens of China will lose their privacy completely. They will lose intimacy, their ability to keep secrets to themselves, and the freedom to choose a path that is incompatible with the tough ideology of the ruling party.

2.  Increase corruption – The system will open the door to corruption and manipulation. What happens if the system negatively ranks someone from the party? Will he accept it with understanding or will he try to influence the system operators?

Will the system introduce other parameters for government officials and their associates?

According to past experience with authoritarian authorities of a single party, members of the ruling party never lived according to the ideology they advocated. They always tried to get more for themselves.

3. In the twentieth century, a number of large-scale experiments of social engineering were carried out in the Soviet Union, Communist China, Cambodia, Cuba, and several other countries, all of which were part of the Communist system.

In all places, attempts have failed and in most cases, after apocalyptic failures that claimed the lives of millions of people.

Possible Scenarios After Full-Scale System Activation

1. The system will encourage a drop to the underground and push people to lead a double life and try to do everything they can to escape the eye of the big brother who watches them all the time.

Such a scenario would lead to the development of a whole culture of lies and deceit. Such a culture developed under Soviet rule and was ultimately one of the causes of the economic collapse.

It would create an economic system based on large groups of people who worked only ostensibly to show good to the regime’s representatives.

2. Creating a large group of people that are ranked low and pushed into a corner will have nothing to lose and will respond violently.

3. A black market of trading in fictitious identities that rank high will come into play. People at the bottom of the social credit system will look for faster ways and shortcuts to climb up the rankings.

4. A black market of reports to the system will develop. For example, people who did things that hurt their ranking will try to influence as much as possible those who report the mistakes in order to avoid reporting.

The more automatic and seemingly impartial the system (and the intention of its planners), the less relevant this scenario will be.

5. Extensive breaches of the system and constant attempts to disrupt its operations could be catastrophic. Imagine that Google’s entire measurement system of websites goes wrong. What would be the result?

Internet chaos would make it impossible to find anything. The same is true of the measurement system of the Social Credit System. One of the main parameters is financial obligations and financial conduct.

Suppose the system that measures it stops operating, what will the results be?

A complete inability to continue to maintain the rating reliably.

6. China is also beginning to expand the system to foreign citizens, setting up a database identical to all foreign citizens that it can measure through social networks. Large Chinese trading websites (Alibaba, Ali Express, DHGate, etc…) and other sources of information are arousing the wrath of other countries that break into the system and lead to its collapse.

7. The system will represent the regime and will be completely identified with the ideology of the regime and with the political power of the Communist Party. The collapse of the system will directly affect the party’s power, and under certain conditions, may provoke an uprising by the population against the Chinese ruling party.

What is the system’s status today?

The system is currently in pilot.

Alibaba is one of the companies that takes part in this project. It is reasonable to assume that the vast amount of information that Alibaba and Ali Express collected, and still collect, on Chinese citizens and citizens of other countries, will serve the Chinese regime in favor of the Social Credit System

• The level of involvement of Chinese companies is still unclear. Also, the system management method is not clear yet as to how the system management and control will be shared between the government and private Chinese companies. 

• Gathering information is a challenge because not all companies are quick to cooperate and share their information, but it can be assumed that it is a difficulty that the Chinese regime can overcome without too many problems. After all, this is precisely the goal of this system.

• During 2018, restrictions were imposed on citizens who rank low in the system. Restrictions such as flights, purchase of train tickets, hotels, and on matchmaking sites.

Open questions about the Chinese Social Credit Syste

• Will the system act according to the authoritarian vision of its thinkers? In other words, will the system turn Chinese citizens into a fabricated human society that is navigated by a government algorithm, or alternatively, will it provoke counter-cult responses?

Will it be operated by the government, private companies, or a combination of the two?

It is difficult to overstate the implications of the identity of controlling shareholders in the system, whether it is a private company or government. It can be assumed with a high degree of certainty that the Chinese government will remain the main stack holder of the system and the one that dictates the core ideology of the system because this was the main motive from the start.

What will be the implications of the system for Chinese society? Will Chinese society become more disciplined in return for continued economic growth and improved personal security?

• If China succeeds in carrying out the largest social engineering experiment in human history, will other countries follow suit?

• Will there be a black market for buying high-rated identities?

Will the Chinese expand the system to keep track of people all over the world, with an emphasis on foreigners who work, live, or study in China?

Will companies like Google and Facebook collaborate in exchange for expansion into the Chinese market?

Summary of China’s Social Credit System 

China Social Credit System
China Social Credit System

For the Chinese Communist Party, the social credit system is the holy grail of control. It allows the Chinese government the possibility to tame the entire population into a set of selected behaviors.

But the party’s biggest advantage is also the greatest risk for it. The system will become so central to the Chinese government and Chinese society that any serious damage to the system will be detrimental to the Chinese government, making it much more vulnerable and exposed to countries that have an interest in harming China and the Social Credit System. 

The Story About Lord Indra, Shiva, Vishnu and the Ocean of milk

One of the main parts of the following Hindu Mythology story, is taking place in Gosaikunda, Nepal. This place is also known by the name: The Frozen Lakes. It’s located in a magnificent area in Langtang reservation and it’s one of the most popular treks of Nepal trekking.

According to Hindu mythology, Lord Indra, King of Heaven, rode on his elephant and met the sage Durvasa, who offered him a bouquet of flowers he had received from Shiva.

Indra accepted the bouquet and put it on the elephant to show he was not an inconsiderate god.

The elephant, who knew Indra, knew that he was not as he pretended to introduce himself, but the opposite, his ego guiding him. So, he took the bouquet and threw it to the ground.

The act caused Durvassa to be angry since that stranger symbolized luck, and the attitude toward it should have been like that of Prasada, the gifts given to the gods (The different dishes served to the gods can be seen in every temple in India).

Hindu Mythology
Laurebina, 4000-meters height, on the way to Gosaikunda

Durvassa cursed Indra and all Devas, superhuman creatures who were led by Indra, and wished them to lose all their strength and fortune.

The battle between the Devas and the Asuras

In the battle that took place after the incident, the Devas who lost their power were defeated by the Asuras and their leader in Bali, who became rulers of the universe.

The Devas went to seek help from Vishnu (Vishnu maintains the good from evil and its various incarnations appear when it’s necessary to defend well against evil).

Vishnu advised the Devas to behave diplomatically with the demons, that is, politely. The devils formed an alliance with the demons to mash the milk ocean and prepare a drink of immortality and divide it between them.

Devas in Hindu Mythology
Gosaikunda, the place where Shiva planted his pitchfork

During the mash of Ocean of Milk, the demons used Vasuki, Shiva’s snake. They wrapped him around the mountain, while the demons held the snake’s head and the gods held its tail. As a result, the demons were poisoned by the venom from the snake’s mouth.

Still, they continued the process and pulled the snake back and forth, side to side, until the mountain began to vibrate and begin the process of mashing the milk ocean. (This scene is described in sculptures in the Bangkok airport)

Gosaikunda
One of the frozen lakes

The process released a particularly strong poison. The devils and the demons who were terrified by the power of the poison that could destroy all creation, went to Shiva to seek his help.

Lord Shiva is saving the world

To protect the universe, Shiva drank the entirety of the poison. Parvati, his spouse, clutched his neck to prevent the poison from reaching Shiva’s body and causing destruction to the universe. As a result, Shiva’s throat turned blue.

According to Hindu mythology, Shiva stuck his three-prong pitchfork into the mountain to extract water and soothe the irritation caused by the poison.

According to Hindu tradition, where Shiva planted his pitchfork, the two lakes were formed.

The site is at 4,380 meters, called Gosaikunda, or the “frozen lakes” (the lakes are frozen for about six months, from June to October).

According Hindu Mythology
Gosaikunda, The Frozen Lakes

The entire area has 108 lakes and is located in Langtang National Park, north of Kathmandu, 5-6 hours away. Gosaikonda is a sacred site and thousands of pilgrims visit during the year, especially during two festivals in the area.

The photos above were taken during a trek in Gosaikunda, Nepal.

Is it safe to travel to Myanmar with kids or alone?

Myanmar is one of the most beautiful and amazing countries in Asia. It is a very large country with a variety of landscape features, plains, mountains, jungles, beaches, islands, rivers, villages, and cities.

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