purchased lovely pendants with Hindu deities-- Durga and
Hanuman. The store has very good service and a friendly staff, as well
as good prices.
you know what rudrakshas are? They are the seeds of a plant which
grows only in the Himalayas. Rudrakshas are known as the "Tears
of Shiva". Yes, the very same Shiva shown in the Shiva Nataraj--
"the Dancing Shiva"-- that we talked about before. Shiva is
known in the Hindu pantheon as "The God of Destruction." This
is oversimplified. Shiva is the God of Destruction in the sense that,
on the spiritual path, some things have to go before you can get other
things. This destructive force is very powerful, and contains a massive
creative component: Whenever something is destroyed, the vacuum left
behind implies creation of something else.
painting depicts Shiva and his wife, the goddess Shakti.
legend of the rudrakshas is this: Lord Shiva looked down on the earth
from his home on Mount Kailasa in the Tibetan Himalayas. Shiva was so
distraught when he saw what we humans had done to his perfect creation
that he cried. His tears fell to earth in the form of rudrakshas-- they
are his gift to us, a blessing and a protection. Rudrakshas are said
to take away the effects of your bad actions, in this or previous lives.
People use strings of rudrakshas to count their prayers (mantra repetition)
in a manner similar to a rosary. Many paintings and statures of Shiva
show him draped with rudrakshas-- brownish, crinkled, round seeds anywhere
from 3/4 inch to less than 1/8 inch in diameter. Rudrakshas are ceremonially
presented to spiritual seekers when they join religious orders.
wear rudrakshas the way Native Americans wear a medicine bag: As a protection
and a remembrance of the divine. They work: I've worn rudrakshas for
over 20 years and can testify that they have protected me. Not once
have I been run over by a truck-- no physical trucks, anyway. A couple
of emotional ones. Rudrakshas have a lovely, fine feeling when you hold
them. I'd wear them just for that. With rudrakshas, smaller is better.
Price varies inversely with size: The smaller the rudraksha, the more
expensive. I got a very nice neck mala (108 beads plus the "guru
bead") set in real silver at Sari Kiketan for $39. This is a deal.
I've paid $150 for a set not much better. Unstrung rudrakshas-- strung
on wire or heavy cord but not finished on gold or silver wire-- went
from about $18 for 1/4 inch size to $24 for microscopic ones. You can
string these yourself. My older daughter made herself a really pretty
neck mala using some Sari Kiketan rudrakshas, tiny silver beads and
a plastic covered wire.
AND STAFF AT THE UDUPI PALACE
the Nataraj on the shelf.
all that shopping, we were hungry again. Lily and I found ourselves
in front of The Udupi Palace, a vegetarian restaurant. I noted it's
"A" rating by the door. This was a great choice. The restaurant
is fastidiously clean and elegant. It was packed when we arrived, but
we quickly got a seat. Only to discover that we didn't know what anything
on the menu was. All around us, people were being served delicious looking
food. How did we order it? We had an experience typical of Little India.
My daughter and I sat laughing at ourselves, feeling really stupid and
wondering what to do. Four turbaned men sat at the table to my right.
One noticed our discomfort and graciously offered to help us order.
He was so nice about it.
waiter arrived at that moment and did the job, but the incident left
a warm glow. We were soon eating our own delicious food-- soups, a dosa
and lassis-- and chatting with the young couple on my left. Who had
great looking meals. I would like to go back to this place and eat my
way through the menu. A lassi, by the way, is a yogurt drink often made
with pureed mango. Delicious. A dosa is a giant (18" or so), crisp
crepe rolled around a filling, usually potato. It came with two spicy
dipping sauces. This is almost too much to write about-- it was so good.
The young woman next to me was drinking a pale pink drink she said was
made of rose water. If it tasted the way it looked, it must have been
ambrosial. We've gone back to the Udupi Palace several times--
AND COTTAGE ART OWNER, JYOTI NAGRANI
that eating built up a powerful appetite for shopping. We moved on to Cottage Art, owned by
the Nagrani family. 18619 S. Pioneer Blvd., (502) 924-6268. You can
reach their web site by clicking on the name. Cottage Art used to be called "Sari Boutique" but
changed its name when they added furniture, home wares, statues and many
fascinating things for the home. This is a lovely, lovely place which
features items from all over India. India is a huge place with may regional
art specialties, many of which are represented here. Cottage
Art sells beautiful pictures and statues of Krishna and Ganesh
and other religious figures, wonderful saris and salwar kameez (tunic and pants outtifits). And pillow
covers, bedspreads. I found the most wonderful-- what to call it? Banner?
A very ornate hanging that would go over a doorway. You can see a similar
one above Jyoti's head in the photo above I bought it: it's wonderful
in my house. Fabulous shawls. These ranged from embroidered Indian wool
shawls, to block printed wool shawls, to Indian shawls with the pattern
woven in, to the most wonderful Kashmiri paisley shawls. These latter
were fine, soft wool, also with the pattern woven in. Lily bought one
with a reversible pattern. Mine was heavier with the pattern on one
side. I have seen these shawls in Santa Barbara and elsewhere for twice
the money. Subsequent trips yield more treasures: a selection of Western clothing made in India. I bought a beautiful
long silk dress sooo reasonably. She also had short velvet dresses,
great shiny brocade jeans with embroidered fringes-- a whole rack of
hip, cute things. For you decorators and seamstresses: Jyoti has many
antique embroidered pieces that would make great valances over windows
or trims on you name it. Lots of pillows, spreads. Home stuff. Exotic!
Their customer service is among the best I've ever seen; they've accommodated
me above and beyond anywhere.
I IN THE COURTYARD BEHIND COTTAGE ARTS
had this wonderful mural painted and created a courtyard for social
and business events. Lovely.
our first visit to Cottage Art,
Lily bought a metallic gold sari to use as a window treatment in her
room. We'll swag it over the window to complete the opulent look. As
a former interior designer, I can tell you that saris offer a host of
possible uses beside their intended use as saris. You can cut them up
and make them into Western style clothing. You can use them as window
treatments. Or pillows. Bedcovers. Whatever you can think of. They're
much cheaper than fabric by the yard, and offer so many color and pattern
possibilities it boggles the mind.
ARE WITH SOME OF THE WONDERFUL THINGS YOU CAN FIND AT COTTAGE ART
had photos of a Beverly Hills wedding party all dressed from her shop.
The bride and all her maids were dressed in traditional Indian outfits
in every color of the rainbow. Beautiful! And the groom and his men
wore Indian clothing. One fellow had the most novel approach to his
baldness. This man had a shining pate-- completely painted with mehndi, the traditional henna designs usually worn on hands and feet. Isn't
that better than hair transplants and all those drugs guys take now?
Another great photo was of an African American actress decked out in
white by the Sari Boutique. I don't remember her name, but she played
the sister in Eve's Bayou and she looked wonderful in glistening Indian
silks and beading. Great photos of Hollywood and celeb customers here.
visit produce new treasures: we loaded up on padded embroidered jackets
for Christmas gifts. Bought several terrific batik wall hangings of
Hindu deities, also for gifts. Jyoti had all the wonderful things described
above plus more Western fashions made in India. Terrific skirts. The
greatest little tops, from bustiers to halters to shells, in silks and
embroidery. Fantastic pure silver antique jewelry. A new line of paisley
shawls, pashmina. Plus her own sweet self and helpful staff.
beautiful new store in Little India.
Click on photo to go to prasiddhiarts.com
time we visit, new shops have opened. One of the most beautiful is Prasiddhi,
which carries the highest quality art and home furnishings from India.
Lily and I stopped by on our last visit and were blown away by
the quality and variety of fine arts shown here. These are absolutely
top quality pieces, so many of them I won't attempt to list them. Beautiful
art work in various woods and metals. Particular favorites of ours were
"paintings" made of various types of wood. The wood grain
was worked into the design so that it seemed brushed onbut
it wasn't. They're located at 18709 South Pioneer Blvd. Hours are: Tues
- Fri 12 Noon - 8:00 PM, Sat - Sun 11:00 AM - 8:30 PM Closed Monday,
like the rest of Little India. Phone: 562-402-3222 Fax: 562.402.3404
WOODEN STATUE OF JESUS
Hindu and ethnic statues abound in Little India,
but you can also buy Christian statuary such as this gorgeous rendering
of Jesus from Prasiddhi.
THE PROPRIETOR OF ONE OF THE NEW STORES IN LITTLE INDIA
time we go, several new stores have appeared. This was a lovely store.
Sorry, we don't have the address and name.
Friends in Little India: if you know, could you drop me a line with
the name and address? Thanks. E-MAIL ME.
NOW WE COMPLETE THE SAGA OF THE SHOES: We couldn't find that shop
where Lily saw the traditional shoes the night before. It completely
vanished. "Do you think it was on this side of the street?"
"Yes." "I think it was over there." "No, it
wasn't. It was over here." We never got the shoes. Hence, the parable:
If you see something you like at Little India, buy it. You may not be
able to find that shop again. Or you may.
AND JAWAHAR SHAH AT INDIA SILK & FASHIONS
saw a stonewashed cotton salwar kameez at India Silk and Fashions on Friday,
and was able to find it again the next day. This salwar kameez was
on the Sale-Sale rack, really marked down. I love it. It's tunic is
a soft mauve cotton with pastel fabric animals-- elephants, dogs, birds--
hand sewn all over it. Incredible workmanship. It came with mauve pants
and a huge shawl. It's something I can wear everywhere. $50 for all
three pieces. Wow. India Silk also had a full range of other traditional
CARVED WOODEN PANEL FROM PRASIDDHI ARTS
ABOUT BINDIS? Did we come away with the red dot between our eyes?
Or paste-on jewels? No. Traditionally, the bindi was worn by married
women. It was made of fine red powder called Kum Kum, which was rolled
into a tiny ball with a bit of water and pressed on to make a perfect
circle. In modern times, unmarried Hindu women and girls wear bindis,
often of easily applied liquid Kum Kum or the fancy, painted and shaped
stick-on type. Members of religious orders also wear traditional Kum
Kum bindis. In Hinduism, the spot between and slightly above
the eyes is associated with insight and intuition. The red dot is applied
to honor this site. It may have other religious significance that I
don't know about. Wearing a bindi is not about making a fashion statement.
So we didn't buy even the fanciest stick-ons-- no matter how well they
matched our outfits. How about mendhi? Didn't we get our hands
and feet painted with henna designs in the traditional way? Didn't we
have our eyebrows "threaded"-- unwanted hair removed by being
pulled out with a thread? All over town, beauty shops would have gladly
performed these services. Not this trip.
we made discrete inquiries as to where to get our noses pierced. (Lord's
Jewelers) We would have done it, except that I don't think my husband
could stand the shock of us returning with the Master Card bills and pierced
noses. He'd probably lock us up. (But maybe next time...) 11/29/00
My daughter took the plunge. Read about it in LORDS
JEWELERS above. Will I get my nose pierced? Time will tell...
on the photo to be transported to this lovely sculpture, for sale on
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