Ugadi: A new beginning a new hope

The name Yugadi or Ugadi is derived from the Sanskrit words yuga (age) and ādi (beginning): "the beginning of a new age".
Yugadi specifically refers to the start of the age we are living in now, the Kali Yuga. The Kali Yuga began when Lord Krishna left the world. Maharshi Vedavyasa describes this event with the words "Yesmin Krishno divamvyataha, Tasmat eeva pratipannam Kaliyugam.” (wikipedia)
On Ugadi, the day starts with the whole family waking up before the break of dawn and then indulging in a leisurely head-bath (Abhyanjana-snana). The house entrance is decorated with  mango leaves which in Hindu custom marks general well-being of a community. The Hindu calendar (Panchangam Almanac) is then worshipped by performing pooja.
The calendars are read in temples with the priests making predictions for the coming year.
Perhaps the most important custom observed on Ugadi is  sharing of Bevu-bella (Neem and jaggery). People visit family members and friends and the mixture is shared, indicating that we should overcome our sorrow and seek happiness, take failure in our stride and maintain balance of mind regardless of the circumstances.
The neem is extremely bitter tasting, while jaggery is very sweet. Together, they signify the two conflicting aspects of human life - joy and sorrow. The essence of life is to  accept the sweet and bitter moments in equal measure and with equanimity and gratitude.Ugadi is all about taking the rough with smooth and moving on in life, but learning some valuable lessons in the bargain.
The health benefits of neem are well known. In the olden days, a neem tree was a regular feature in most backyards. Neem is known to be a natural disinfectant, scoring over chemical disinfectants on every scale from effectiveness to price. Try placing a few dried neem leaves in your wardrobe where you have stored your most valuable silks and see the results for yourself. It is also known to boost the immune system and purify blood.
Similarly, jaggery is considered  a better option when compared to sugar as it is made from a natural process and largely free of chemical and artificial substances.
It would be apt to quote the noted Kannada poet Da Ra Bendre (D.R. Bendre: Dattatreya Ramachandra Bendre), on the occasion of Ugadi,  the festival marking the beginning of a new Hindu lunar calendar, with these lines from his poem:
“Yuga Yugadi Kaledaru,
Yugadi marali barutide,
hosa varushake hosa harushava,
hosatu hosatu tarutide …
These immortal lines gladden the hearts of people of state of karnataka, for whom ugadi is a festival like no other, and the best possible way to usher in a brand new year with optimism and hope.
Mount Litera Zee School wishes everyone a prosperous and joyous time throughout the year and beyond.
“Ellarige ugadi habbada shubhashayagalu”

5 Popular Getaways to Visit This Summer Holidays

The eagerly awaited summer holidays are here. You have a solid two months at your disposal to have a good time and recharge your batteries until June, when schools reopen.
Here is a list of places you can visit. They are not too far from Bengaluru and make great destinations for a great short getaway or a day trip.
Let us begin. Buckle your seatbelts for the fun ride.
Nandi Hills: Located a handy 35 km from Bengaluru and at 4500 ft above sea level, Nandi Hills are an ideal getaway if you want to experience spirituality, nature, history - all in one place. The ancient stone temples perched on the top of the hill inspire awe and devotion, while a mere sight of 'Tipu's Drop' where prisoners were pushed down as a punishment, makes your jaws drop. The well-looked after botanical gardens soothes your soul. The restaurant 'Mayura', located on the edge of the cliff, offers a panoramic view of the landscape all the way to Bengaluru.
Mysuru: If any place in India qualifies for a visit based on a single criterion, Mysuru would be a natural choice. This cultural capital of Karnataka ranks in the list of top 5 cleanest cities in India. The palace and temple circuits provide a glimpse of the royal past, while the well-stocked Zoo keeps you engaged on a lazy afternoon. Brindavan Gardens is a favourite with tourists and film folk alike. Mysuru enjoys a salubrious climate throughout the year. The pleasant ride along the expressway connecting Bengaluru and Mysuru is one more reason for you to plan a trip.
Mangaluru: Zoom along the verdant agricultural heartland of karnataka, negotiate the winding ride down the green Shiradi Ghat. Mangaluru is home to a number of religious and ethnic communities with each one of them boasting of a dish that is fit for an emperor. Drinking plenty of tender coconut water to keep yourself hydrated is recommended for the non-natives. Beaches are clean and unspoilt with a few of them offering boat rides and adventure sports. Take time to visit the nature park Pilikula Nisargadhama which is home to big cats, reptiles, and exotic plants.
Coorg: Land in Madikeri and head to Dubare, the elephant-capturing and training camp, followed by a trip to Nagarahole National Park which offers you a chance to go on wildlife safaris. Talakaveri is where the River Kaveri originates. Abbey Falls, a small but scenic waterfall, is a short distance away from Madikeri. The Tibetan Buddhist Golden Temple serves the spiritual needs of the enterprising Tibetan community in exile in India.
Shivamogga: Located 275 km from Bangalore, the city boasts of wide, good roads, and well maintained public parks. Mandagadde Bird Sanctuary is a place of tranquility with the river Tunga flowing gently by and is dotted with half submerged trees, upon which our feathered friends from all over the world have built their nests. Gajanur village is an interesting place for its elephant training camp. Tyavarekoppa Lion and Tiger Safari is a great experience.
Needless to say, traveling in a group makes for great fun. Pick up the phone and call up family and friends.
We wish you a happy and safe journey. Have a great time. You can share your experience with us when the school reopens in June.

Sports: Why it is as Important as Academics

Human body is not designed to be idle and the more active life one leads, the more are the chances of the body cooperating with you as you age.
In fact, doctors warn that a seemingly harmless activity like being stationary in one place is extremely harmful to our health.
In many western countries, the practice of being seated while working is discouraged. Instead, employees stand on their feet as they work. They are also encouraged to take short and energetic walks around the office at regular intervals.
Most children today follow sedentary lifestyles. The reasons are many and range from lack of open spaces and playgrounds to an overemphasis on academics.
Consider the ill-effects of such a lifestyle:
      Lack of fresh air hinders our ability to think clearly.
      Deficiency of vitamin D (the Sun is a source) makes our bone brittle.
      Absence of physical activity weakens our lungs and makes us not only vulnerable to respiratory diseases, but also makes breathing at high altitudes a real chore.
But, the most worrying part is prevalence of obesity in children, which puts them at a great risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
The solution?
An active lifestyle, spending more time outdoors, and taking part in sports and physical activities.
Should Sports be given much more prominence in schools than is being done now, at least in our country?
Absolutely. Purpose of education is to prepare the children to face the real world.
Sports helps children to take on the challenges life has to offer confidently, by being:
      A great leveller: In sports, only your ability to perform counts. A student can find his/her calling in sports, even if they are not academically exceptional.
      A great unifier: Watch a cricket match, preferably between India and Pakistan, in a public place. All distinctions are erased, and all barriers are broken down.
      A great teacher: You discover the virtues of teamwork. It helps you discover the qualities you did not know you possessed. It brings out the best in you.
      A great philosopher:Sports teaches you to stay humble and rooted. It teaches you not to gloat over your own successes, and also not be bogged down by temporary setbacks.
      A great discipliner:Inculcating great discipline is essential to leading a successful life - both personal and professional. Sports teaches us to lead a disciplined life.
Sports also teaches us the value of effective communication, and selflessness.
Sports is a complete package of life lessons,  a great combination of the physical and cerebral. 
One sets out to strengthen the body through sports, and sports rewards you with a bonus in return - mental toughness, the best quality of all.

The Significance of Easter

Easter celebrates resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. It is also known as Pasch, or Resurrection Sunday.
According to the New Testament, the resurrection occurred on the third day of his burial after his crucifixion by Romans. It is the culmination of the Passion of Christ, preceded by Lent (or Great Lent), a forty-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance.
Easter takes place on a Sunday, after the 40-day period called Lent. Lent is referred to as a time of fasting, but participants focus more on giving up one significant indulgence. Holy Week is celebrated during the week leading up to Easter. It begins on Palm Sunday, continues on to Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and then finally, Easter Sunday.
The name Easter is said to be derived from the Anglo-Saxon goddess of light and the dawn known as Eostre or Eastre, who was honoured at pagan festivals celebrating the arrival of spring.
Easter eggs and the Easter Bunny are the two symbols of Easter. Both the egg and hare (actually an egg-laying rabbit according to folklore) symbolize fertility and therefore, life itself. In the olden days, dyed chicken eggs were used, but have been substituted by eggs made from chocolate in the modern times.
Easter is not celebrated on a specific day. It usually falls between March 22nd and April 25th. It is supposed to fall on the first Sunday after the full moon following March 21st.
Interesting Easter Facts:
      In medieval times, churches held an egg throwing festival. The game would start with the priest throwing a hard-boiled egg to one of the choirboys, which would then be tossed from one choirboy to the next. The person who was in possession of the egg when the clock struck 12 would be declared the winner and could keep the egg.
      The custom of giving eggs at Easter started with Egyptians, Persians, Gauls, Greeks and Romans, for whom the egg was a symbol of life.
      Decorating Easter eggs was traditionally a symbol of the empty tomb. This tradition is called Pysanka. Christians believe that Easter eggs symbolize new life and resurrection.
      Lilies are a flower often associated with Easter (Easter Lilies).
      Wearing new clothing on Easter is said to bring good luck for the coming year.
      In some European countries Easter fires are lit. They are said to represent fertility.
      The Easter egg hunt is an outdoor game played with decorated eggs, real hard-boiled ones or artificial, filled with or made of chocolate candies. They are then  hidden in various places for children to find.
Easter is a time for fun, Easter is a time for happiness, Easter is a time for blessings, and Easter is all about love and hope.
Mount Litera Zee School wishes you and your family a Happy Easter!

Good Friday: A day of commemoration

Good Friday is about commemorating the final hours of Jesus Christ's life, his crucifixion, and death on the cross.
The crucifixion was the culmination of a number of events in Holy Week, including Jesus' return to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, Jesus washing his disciples' feet, and Jesus' last supper on Maundy Thursday.
It is an important event in Christianity as it represents the sacrifices and suffering in Jesus Christ’s life and the commemoration of this very important day holds great significance for Christians.
It is also known variously as Holy Friday, Great Friday, Black Friday, or Easter Friday.
In India, it is a gazetted holiday.
How it is observed
On Good Friday, Christians attend special church services. They also pray throughout the day. People also fast or abstain from eating meat on this day. Parades or open air plays to portray the last days and hours of Jesus' life are also held in many parts of India.
      Good Friday is a day of sadness. Churches are empty and dark and services are held in the afternoon.
      The day being a solemn one, church is not decorated on this day, and the altar is bare.
      There is no Eucharist (the ceremony commemorating the Last Supper, in which bread and wine are consecrated and consumed) present in the church.
      A bitter drink prepared from leaves, vinegar, and other ingredients is served at many churches and this everyone can taste it after the service.
      A life-sized cross is placed at the center of the altar and parishioners pass it by and kiss or touch it if they choose.
      Christians can eat only one full meal and two smaller ones during the day.
Good Friday
There are many theories trying to explain why the day has come to be known as ‘Good’ Friday as it does not have anything even remotely resembling good, as Jesus Christ was tortured and crucified on this day.
      One explanation is that ‘good’ simply means pious or holy.
      The other is that it is a corruption of ‘God’ Friday.
The first explanation has been endorsed by no less an authority than The Oxford English Dictionary.
Mount Litera Zee School (MLZS) wishes you a very ‘Good Friday!’
May Joy and Happiness accompany every one of you always!

Holi: The Festival of Colours and Hope

We, Indians, need no particular reason to celebrate.
Indian Cricket team winning world cup, or even a wedding in the neighbourhood can get people dancing on the streets to the beats of latest tunes from Bollywood.
Holi provides the ideal setting for a large scale and joyous celebrations we are so fond of. The festival of colours is a spring celebration of love, fun, and colours, and is celebrated in India, Nepal, and other parts of the world with sizeable Indian diaspora.
Holi is celebrated at the approach of the vernal equinox, on the Phalguna Purnima. The festival date varies from year to year as it is based on the Hindu calendar.
Like Christmas and Diwali, Holi is celebrated across religious, ethnic and linguistic lines.
The celebrations typically begin the night before Holi. A bonfire (Holika Dahan) is lit around which people gather to sing, dance and party.
The next day,  participants splash colours at each other with coloured powder and water. Water fights break out using water guns and balloons filled with colour water.
Large groups of people with drums and other musical instruments roam the streets, singing and dancing, and inviting more people to join them in the revelry.
Everyone is welcome.
Friends, strangers, rich or poor, all wear the same colour on this day. It’s a big happy family, divided by circumstances, but united by the colours of Holi.
There is more to Holi than revelry and splashing of colours.
      Holi, like all festivals, is a symbol of  victory of good over evil. It signifies the arrival of spring, and end of winter. (traditionally, the two seasons represent new hope and lethargy, respectively).
      It is a free-for-all carnival of colours, where differences are forgotten, family ties are strengthened, bonds of friendship are renewed, and even bridges with enemies are built.
      It is also a time of thanksgiving for a good harvest and to take a pledge to protect environment that nourishes and looks after us.
      The bonfire or the Holika Dahan also signifies forgetting the unpleasant aspects of the past and making a fresh beginning.
Finally, to ensure a safe and joyous Holi, use protective eye gear and safe colour powder.
Mount Litera Zee School (MLZS) wishes you a bright, colourful and joyful Holi!

The Need for Value-based Approach in the Education Sector

Education sector has remained largely stagnant and predictable in its approach to the imparting of knowledge for some time now. The newer approaches and proliferation of technological tools in the field of education has necessitated a rethink on the part of most schools, where there currently exists a top-down approach, with a centralized decision-making regime.
In the light of new developments, a realignment of the organizational structure and dismantling of the hierarchical or process-oriented model, that is basically authoritarian in nature and tends to stifle creativity, may be desirable. It is no longer sufficient to concentrate on why we do what we do. The new approach may have to lay more emphasis on walking the talk.
The value-based model may have the answers to address the limitations of the existing model, especially in the light of changes in society. A change in economic conditions and a corresponding rise in aspiration levels calls for a major change in our approach to education. Decentralization of authority and decision-making power may well be the answers we have been looking for where,
      Top level management provides information of instruction and guidance to subordinates.
      Subordinates in turn provide necessary instructions to the manager about achieving the goals and solving problems at work place.
It stands to reason that, a two way communication provides a greater chance of being able to contribute solutions to a problem more expeditiously and also help smoothen the rough edges in the overall performance levels.
When a change in style of management and approach to work is complemented by a set of values and principles that are non-negotiable and inviolable, then that organization may have moved closer to creating an ideal framework that provides answers to most of the challenges faced by the current system. Let us look at the components that make up a value-based model.
The characteristics of a value-based model
      Flexibility: A structure that is highly adaptive and flexible to accommodate for an environment which is constantly changing and evolving with time.
      Tasks and role are less rigidly defined:People are empowered and encouraged to think out of the box and be able to take charge as per the requirement.
      Multidirectional Communication: People are encouraged to speak their mind and contribute to the betterment of an idea with their own thoughts and ideas.
      Work for greater good: Ignore personal ambitions and contribute to the overall success.
      Integrity at all cost: Do good even when no one is looking. Do your work diligently and conscientiously, and rewards will follow.
      A strong sense of personal conviction:To be guided solely by what is right.
      Going beyond the call of duty:To walk that extra mile in all things you do.
      Add value beyond what is expected: Not be compelled to stay within the parameters defined in order to add value to the task, but also making sure that the brief is not exceeded.
      Under promise and over deliver:In other words, letting your work speak for you.
The task of overhauling the current system and adopting a value-based system is formidable and requires sufficient time as well as a cohesive strategy. A strategy where initial focus is on desired and sustainable outcomes and improvising depending on the outcome.
Naturally, teachers and educators have a significant role to play in ushering in the new system, because any system - old or new - can only be effective, if the right people have been entrusted with the responsibility of implementing it on the ground.
The value-based system allows teachers to be creative in their thinking and innovative in their approach. They have the freedom to attempt new methods. The incentive to succeed is also greater.
And the idea of an empowered and rejuvenated teaching community augurs well for our education system.
Given the advantages and gains of the value-based approach, it deserves to be given a serious consideration from all the stakeholders.

Climate Change : Educating the Future Generations

Is climate change a real phenomenon?
Mother Earth, after billions of years of existence, is facing a do-or-die situation. Her future has never been under greater threat, than it is now.
Just take a look around you -  floods in europe, landslides in South America, droughts in North America, and bushfires in Australia are now far more frequent than they used to.
Closer home, some parts of India are facing acute water scarcity, while others are ravaged by floods - the most recent being the Chennai Floods of 2015.
Climate change is real and not a figment of imagination of scientists and environmentalists. Let us accept that unbridled human activity and penchant for extravagant lifestyles has led to rising global temperatures, damage to the ozone layer and unpredictability of seasons.
The disappearance of the sparrow, a common presence in our midst until a few years ago, can be directly attributed to climate change, triggered by destructive effects of increased human activity. 
The Chennai floods - and the Mumbai floods before that - were a direct result of human callousness. Acquiring of natural water bodies like tanks for building activity, clogging of storm water drains with plastic bags, and displaying scant regard for environment protection were just a few of the factors that forced nature’s hand, resulting in widespread devastation.
Thanks to sustained effort from a few dedicated individuals and organizations, there is greater awareness about climate change.
However, it is the young people who have the highest stakes in keeping our planet in good health. Our youth are energetic, aware, and proactive in their outlook. They realize individual measures, no matter how small, can create a great impact. The idea is to supplement the efforts of government with our own.
Our youngsters can go a step further, and with help from their parents, can implement the following basic measures at home, that could result in smaller carbon footprints (the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of the activities of a particular individual, organization, or community.) for their household:
      Use of LED lights which consume less energy than conventional lights.
      Switching off electrical equipments like fan and lights when not in use.
      Exploration of the options for rainwater harvesting and wastewater recycling.
      Use of natural light and ventilation.
      Use of plumbing solutions that help reduce water wastage.
      Use of solar energy to light up homes and to cook food (Solar Cooker).
      Use of kitchen waste to grow vegetables at home.
      Use of public transport system, and carpooling to help reduce pollution.
      Disposal of waste (dry, wet, and e-waste) responsibly.
Children are in great position to spread the green message around and the cumulative efforts of the majority of the population can make a great difference.
Remember, no environmentally friendly action is insignificant.
We have only one planet to live in and ensuring good health of our planet is a collective responsibility of the present and future generations.

The Diary of a Young Girl - Lessons for Mankind

A diary is a record of events in a person’s life arranged in chronological order, usually by hand. It can also be a social commentary of the times they lived in or about their personal experience traveling around the world.
Earliest diaries belong to the Middle Eastern and East Asian cultures.
The person who keeps a diary is known as a diarist.
Perhaps the most famous diary keeper was the German teenager Anne Frank, who chronicled her life in hiding in The Diary of a Young Girl during the German occupation of the Netherlands during World War II.
The Frank family who lived in Germany had to move to the Netherlands after losing the German citizenship. They were then forced to go into hiding to avoid being sent to the concentration camps by the Nazis.
They concealed themselves in some rooms behind the bookshelves in the building where Anne’s father Otto Frank worked. To pass the time, the young Anne took to writing, examining various issues such as her relationships with the rest of the family members, their persecution by the Nazis, and even her plans for the future, once they came out of hiding.
The diaries were published after the Franks, with the exception of Otto, perished at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
Legacy of Anne Frank
Anne Frank, who kept up good cheer and spirits in the face of extreme adversities, has since become an icon and a symbol of hope for millions of people around the world. The diaries also serve to remind human beings of the past mistakes and how we can create a better future.
      It’s about survival: No matter how tough one’s circumstances are. One can survive against all odds if one is mentally tough.
      It’s about growing up: Young people often go through a crisis of identity growing up, but they also learn valuable lessons in the bargain.
      It’s about humanism: Prejudice is the greatest threat to humanity. Hatred for others based on differences things like ethnicity, religion has no place in a civilized society.
      It’s about hope: Never lose hope. Knowing well that their chances of escape were virtually nil does not stop Anne from planning for her future.
Should children be encouraged to keep a diary?
Yes, the exercise can benefit your child in the following ways.
      Self-Expression: Children benefit from learning to express themselves on a given topic. This ability is very important for personality development.
      Self-Help: Excellent written communication is a prerequisite for any job and regular writing can sharpen those skills in children without much intervention from adults.
      Self-Evaluation: Re-visiting an old entry gives children a chance to evaluate the thought process at the time and how it has evolved over a period of time to what it is now.
      Self-Correction: Children can correct the writing and also examine if they were right or wrong in coming to a particular conclusion at a given point in time.
      Self-Esteem: Ability to chronicle one’s feelings and thoughts clearly can make your children independent in thought and action, thus boosting their sense of self-worth.

Self compassion: Why it is important

Self compassion: Why it is important
We are moved by the pain of others, we feel the pain of others, we take the time and effort to comfort those in pain. That’s human nature.
Now, take time to think for yourself -- how would you respond if you were having a troublesome day or if things were not going the way you had planned them to be.
Will you offer the same amount of care to yourself?
Self-compassion is compassion for self -- kindness, care, and understanding directed towards ourselves when we make mistakes, or face a failure.
It is the acknowledgement of our own pain. It is an admission of the fact that we are after all human and that we will also encounter difficult situations.
It is not uncommon for many to reject the idea of self-compassion, believing that having compassion for self just leads to a practice of legitimizing poor behavior or engagement in unnecessary indulgences.
However, research on self-compassion has unearthed a wealth of evidence refuting that claim.
In fact, there are many benefits to practicing self-compassion.
Some tips for practicing self-compassion:
      Acknowledge your pain: Notice when you are hurting, and allow yourself to mourn the fact that you are not perfect. Resist the temptation to pretend like nothing is wrong or that your feelings don’t matter.
      Adopt a new perspective: View the world through the lens of a best friend or a person who cares deeply about you. When you’re tempted to be self-critical or judgmental, try to speak to yourself as someone who cares about you would. Think about what they might say to encourage and comfort you.
      Practice: Being self-compassionate is not an innate quality, and it may or may not have been a skill that we learned from our parents. But as adults, we can choose to practice this skill until it becomes a second nature to us. Take five minutes at the end of each day and write about the worst thing that happened to you during the day. Here is the twist. Pretend that you’re writing about it from the perspective of someone who cares deeply about you. Research shows that participants reported experiencing a greater sense of happiness after just one week practicing it. All it takes is a few caring moments a day, and they can work wonders.
So, what distinguishes people with self-compassion from those who don’t?
      They procrastinate less:Compared to those who try to use guilt, shame, or fear as motivators to complete a project or goal, the self-compassionate people spend less time dragging their feet when it comes time to performing a task.
      They re-engage after failure:They accept a perceived or real failure readily, but begin being caring towards themselves and therefore, are much more likely to get back on their feet much quicker and move on.
      They believe in being more accountable:Contrary to popular assumption, self-compassion does not relieve a person of the ownership of a problem. Rather, it actually serves to assist them to make a more realistic assessment of their own role in perpetuating the problem.

      They are open to feedback: They do not feel threatened by others’ feedback about them. This is because those who practice self-compassion are confident of their ability to take a negative feedback in their stride and go on to recover from its ill-effects.

Anger Management through Self-compassion

Your alarm did not go off and you are late for work. On the way to school, your child spills food on the uniform.
You did not have a good day at office and upon your return, you find the house is a complete mess. You are trying to complete some unfinished business and your laptop hangs in the middle of an important call.
Well, you’ve had it.  You are ready to burst into tears. Or snap someone’s head off, who chose this inopportune moment to cross your path.
Does the feeling of anger all-encompassing? How do you react? How is one supposed to react?
Did the intensity of your anger surprise you into thinking of silencing your anger?
Well, silencing your anger is not a good idea. It has been clinically proven that suppressing anger over long term is capable of damaging your heart, resulting in an eating disorder, and raising your blood pressure to dangerous levels.
In other words, anger is such a strong emotion that concealing or suppressing it will result in it manifesting itself in some other form.
Taking recourse to something like lashing out when you are angry works only in the short term at best. Its effectiveness and potency in dealing with the problem begins to reduce after a while.
Then what?
The real danger of silencing your anger is it could make you prone to acting in ways that are destructive to your self-esteem. Let’s see how.
      Every person is compassionate deep down, but in a fit of anger might react in an aggressive way. Once they cool down, their reaction is like, ‘what did I do just now?’
      If one has not defined self protective boundaries, then they are apt to be suppresses and trampled upon by others.
      Some people tend to shame themselves to get over a feeling of guilt by turning their anger against themselves so that they are at par with the other person.
      Some people do not even recognise they have a problem managing anger, thus effectively shutting themselves out from taking corrective measure.
Blame it on cortisol
When the focus is on the anger and not on the source of the anger, 2 things happen:
1.     We activate our brain’s fight, flight, or freeze system which begins to pump cortisol, or the stress hormone, into our body. This will prime us to fight, flight, or freeze, even if there is nobody or nothing to fight or run from. Having cortisol in our bodies for long periods of time can damage us physically and mentally.
2.     We miss the opportunity to gain insight on our anger.
So what’s the way out?
Treat yourself with compassion
According to Dr. Kristin Neff, an associate professor in human development at the University of Texas at Austin, acting with self-compassion holds the answer.
Dr. Neff says self-compassion has three components:
1.     Self-kindness: Be warm and understanding toward yourself when you suffer, fail, or feel inadequate. Recognize that being imperfect and failing is inevitable. It is far more better for you to treat yourself with kindness and gentleness, than anger and hate.
2.     Common humanity: means recognizing that suffering and personal inadequacy is part of the shared human experience – something that we all go through rather than being something that happens to “me” alone.
3.     Mindfulness: allows us the space to hold our feelings in a way so that we can choose to act on them or not. Our feelings in mindfulness do not need to be suppressed or exaggerated. We can observe negative thoughts and emotions with openness and clarity, without judgment.
Finally, developing a sense of forgiveness is a great help. When you have decided not to hold a grudge, you have allowed yourself to be rid of all negativity - and that can make a huge difference.

The Story of Maha Shivaratri

Maha Shivaratri

The Trimurti (‘Three Forms’) is a Hindu concept consisting of Brahma (the Creator), Vishnu (the Preserver) and Shiva (the Destroyer). Together they perform the cosmic functions of creation, preservation, and finally the destruction or transformation.
Shiva means the ‘The Auspicious One’ and is depicted as having a third eye on his forehead, a snake around his neck, the crescent moon in his great locks, the river Ganga flowing from his hair, the trishula or the trident in his hand and the damaru as his musical instrument.
Following are the main iconographical attributes of Mahadeva (‘Great God’), one of the many names of Shiva,  and their significance:
      Third Eye: Also known as the inner eye, it provides perception beyond ordinary sight.
      Snake: The serpent is said to represent ego, after controlling of which it can be used as an ornament.
      Crescent Moon: The moon’s waxing and waning phenomenon is symbolic of the time cycle through which creation evolves from the beginning to the end.
      River Ganga: The holy river represents the nectar of immortality.
      Trisula: The trident represents the three Gunas through which he rules the world. The three Gunas are passion (rajas) which creates, goodness (sattva) which sustains and ignorance (tamas) which destroys.
      Damaru: The small hourglass shaped drum represents the OM aum) sound, which forms the basis of all the other languages.
Maha Shivratri (Great Night of Shiva) is one of the great Hindu festivals celebrated throughout India and also by the diaspora in the rest of the world.
It depicts the wedding of Goddess Parvathi and Lord Shiva, marking the convergence of Shiva and Shakti, the divine feminine creative power that represents the dynamic forces moving through the universe.
The day is marked by offering of Bael leaf to Shiva, chanting of ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ and an all-night vigil known as jagaran.
The Shiva Purana outlines the mode of worship on Mahashivaratri:
      Bathing the Shiva Linga with water, milk and honey with Wood Apple or bael leaves represents purification of the soul.
      Vermilion paste applied to the Shiva Linga represents virtue.
      Fruit offering represents longevity and gratification of desires.
      Lighting of the lamp represents attainment of knowledge.
      Betel leaves represent satisfaction with worldly pleasures.
Like all great festivals, Maha Shivaratri is a day to celebrate life itself.
It is a day to cleanse our mind and body. Fasting helps us to detoxify the body and a night of wakefulness (jagaran), is meant to awaken us in true sense of the word.

Maha Shivaratri falls on March 7 this year and we at Mount Litera would like to wish everyone happiness, prosperity & peace on this auspicious occasion.

Importance of Nutrition for Kids

Importance of Child Nutrition
Raising children is a not exactly a walk in the park, and dealing with them effectively on a daily basis can be considered a good test of one’s patience and endurance.
But the onerous task of getting them to eat the right kind of food deserves to be included on the popular BBC Three TV show, World’s Toughest Jobs.
A mother would know.
So would a teacher, who has been given the additional responsibility of ensuring children eat the right kind of food in school.
Children today are spoilt for choice when it comes to food. In the good old days, mothers gave their children just two choices - take it or leave it!
And mothers ensured children ate the right kind of food - the ones that met all their nutritional needs and never the ones that just filled them with useless calories devoid of any nutritional value.
In the present times, children’s diet is not getting the kind of attention it deserves for various reasons, which are mostly socio-economic in nature.
But, why is there so much fuss about food and why is it necessary to be fussy about the kind of diet children should adopt?
There are enough reasons to ensure your child eats right. Consider these:
-       A well-balanced diet is essential for normal physical and mental development of your child.
-       Obesity is a real and worrisome challenge the world is facing today. It can lead to heart disease and diabetes in the long run, not to mention the emotional and psychological problems.
-       A nutrient-deficient diet weakens immune system and consequently, the ability to fight diseases.
-       Prevalence of dental cavities in children is a direct result of consuming sugar-rich junk food.
Balanced diet is a dietconsisting of the proper quantities and proportions of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and water necessary to maintain good health.
      What to eat: Green Leafy Vegetables, Whole Grains, Fresh fruits, Lean Meats, Poultry, Nuts, Eggs, Fish etc.
      What to avoid: Candy, Aerated drinks, Deep-fried Food, Food with Colouring Agents and Preservative.
Finally, a nutritious diet works well when it is complemented by physical exercise and high standards of personal hygiene. For instance, brushing teeth and rinsing mouth every time after eating can keep dental cavities away. Drinking plenty of water is recommended too.
Do consult your doctor for expert medical advice on your child’s diet.

Leap Year and its Significance

The year 2016 is a leap year, which means we have an extra day in February.
In the Gregorian calendar, each leap year has 366 days instead of the usual 365, by extending February to 29 days rather than the more common 28.
According to Wikipedia, a leap year is a year containing one additional day added to keep the calendar year synchronized with the astronomical or seasonal year.
Because seasons and astronomical events do not repeat in a whole number of days, calendars that have the same number of days in each year drift over time with respect to the event that the year is supposed to track.
By inserting an additional day or month into the year, the drift can be corrected.
Why is a leap day added?
Earth takes about a tropical year i.e. 365.242189 days – or 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds – to go around the Sun. Not having an extra day on February 29 nearly every four years would result in a loss of almost six hours every year.
This means our calendar would be off by about 24 days after only 100 years and leap day keeps the calendar in alignment with the Earth's revolutions around the Sun.
Here’s an algorithm from the Microsoft website that tells you how to find if a year is a leap year:
1.     If the year is evenly divisible by 4, go to step 2. Else, go to step 5.
2.     If the year is evenly divisible by 100, go to step 3. Else, go to step 4.
3.     If the year is evenly divisible by 400, go to step 4. Else, go to step 5.
4.     The year is a leap year (it has 366 days).
5.     The year is not a leap year (it has 365 days)
Some facts associated with leap year:
      Julius Caesar introduced the leap year in 45 BC, but there was no February 29. Instead, February 24 was repeated.
      The frog is a symbol associated with February 29.
      "Leaplings" or "Leapers" is what the people born on February 29 are called.
      February 29 also marks Rare Disease Day.
      People working on a fixed annual wage work for free on this day.
      Your chance of being born on February 29 is one in 1461.
Leap year being an unusual occurrence has spawned its own genre of humour and satire. Here are some to tickle your funny bone:
      “My 84-year-old friend is celebrating his 21st birthday today. He has finally reached legally marriageable age!”     
      “I envy your only having to put up with incessant Facebook wishes every 4 years.”
      And finally, “Leap year? You study 24x7x366 days now.”

 Interview with Ms. Uma Pratap Preprimary coordinator of Vidyaranyapura branch

1.What objectives did you have when you started here 2 years back??
My prime objectives when I stepped into the portal of MLZS were:
a) to create and maintain an environment for children where they feel safe, loved & cared.
b) master the skill of learning and logical thinking in a cheerful way without any stress.
C) For teachers to impart their best to children happily.

2.What experiences have you taken from this onto your life??
Prior planning is required so that children learn in a happy environment, and when planning doesn’t work, then we need to make it work with patience and presence of mind. Every individual is unique and we need to identify and appreciate those special traits.
3.What is the most important aspect that a preschool teacher imparts to the child?
A preschool teacher must understand the psyche of each and every child; make him/her feel confident, respected and cheerful. The major aspects that a preschool teacher imparts to a child is the readiness to explore, innovate and create
4.What do you think are your strengths and weaknesses? How have these influences on the pre-school?
My strengths are my interpersonal skills, confidence, and connectedness. I am a systematic organizer, empathizer and most of all believe in creating an atmosphere of harmony which is very important for a preschool teacher.
My not so strong traits are that I am too tolerant which makes it a bit difficult to handle certain situations certain times. But, the same trait is my strength when I need to deal with children.

5.What is your take on inculcating values in children and any experiences that you would like to share?
The values should always be the essence of everything that we teach.   The future of our children will be bright and glorious if they are inculcated with good values along with knowledge and skills. The world will indeed be a beautiful place inhabited by the beautiful human beings.
While teaching the concept of manners which is an important component of values, I had introduced the word “sneak” while narrating a story to the children and explained to them that one cannot enter into anyone’s room without permission. Some days later, when I absentmindedly entered the classroom without taking permission, the children quipped that I need to take permission before entering.
6.What future plans do you have for SamSidhMLZS ?
a)To set up a theatre and involve children in value based skits and plays that can keep up our tradition.
b)To plan  activities that  provide:
  • more information in enhancing in the intelligence of children through flashcards.
  •   More opportunities to develop in children, the patience of listening to others and respecting each other’s opinion (social skills).
  •   Enrichment classes to students who need it.
  •   Higher order thinking skills.
  • ·   To involve parents in inculcating values and good manners in children.

Fostering self development in Children at School

Fostering self development in Children at School - Teachers can play an important role

The Early Years
Growing up, we all hated school in varying degrees, some of us more passionately than others. The ordeal would start with us having to wake up early in the morning, followed by rounding up of things which we had cast aside carelessly the previous evening after school, and finally sharing space with half-asleep and irritable schoolmates in the school bus.
Eventually, the sight of the school would loom large before us, like an imposing penitentiary, into which we felt like we were doomed to spend the rest of our life.
The school bag was a hated symbol of oppression. What was being taught did not interest us. We would try to push minutes into hours, hours into days and finally, days into the weekend. We really believed if we concentrated hard enough, we could make the process faster.
The Favourite Teacher
Then, one day everything changed. In walked the new teacher and we instinctively felt there was something special about him/her. School suddenly became a playground and the new teacher became our mascot, leading us from the front, inspiring us to reach greater heights, helping us to realize our true potential and more importantly, making us look forward to the next class.
Then it was all over. We found our calling in various fields and spread out far and wide. The communication became more infrequent and ultimately reached a point where the only common thread that continued to bind us all was the memory of ‘miracle person’ who changed our lives forever.
There’s a favourite teacher in everyone’s life who fostered self-development in us, who encouraged us, who guided us, who shaped us to be the persons that we are today.
How did they do it
What does it take to be able to positively influence the lives of generations of students? Well, we all have come under the influence of the ‘miracle person’ in our lives and we all agree that they possessed some special qualities, apart from their obvious ability to ‘teach.’
      The Mentoring: They guided us, mentored us and most importantly, they believed in us. And that made us feel special. They convinced us that we had their complete support in whatever we did. They backed us and we did not want to betray their faith in us.
      Positive Attitude: They not only encouraged good students but also took the trouble to understand what was causing a child to underperform and take suitable corrective measures. Making us feel wanted always worked wonders for our morale.
      Never-say-die spirit : They taught us it was important to accept our failures as our own and not blame other people for them. They made us understand that failure was fine, even welcome, provided we owned up to our role in the failure and also promised to try harder the next time.
      Others before self :  They taught us that our needs came last. When we completed a tough assignment before everyone in the class, they would say ‘Very well done.’ Now shall we work with Jack/Jill and help him/her complete the assignment?’
      We all owe a debt: They made us understand that we owe it to our parents, our family, our friends, our teachers, our society and more importantly, to ourselves, to do complete justice to our talents, and without ever deviating from the core set of  human values.
A good teacher is one who does not teach, but encourages self-learning, does not pose questions, but leads us into a self-questioning mode, does not show us how to to do things but helps us at self-discovery. Fostering self-development in children is what a ‘miracle person’ does best.

Yoga in Schools - Is it beneficial for children?

Yoga is a pre-vedic Indian practice that deals with spiritual, physical and mental aspects of life. It is increasingly becoming popular in all parts of the world in recent times.
Indian Masters introduced Yoga to the western world, which was quick to recognise its potential as a form of physical exercise to keep fit, flexible and agile. They later discovered and popularized the meditative and spiritual benefits of regular practice of Yoga.
Modern scientific community is divided on the health benefits of Yoga. Clearly, modern science demands more research on the subject and compiling of reliable and authentic data before it can endorse the curative powers of Yoga in treating diseases like cancer.
However, regular practitioners of Yoga point out that it is possible to prevent the onset of diseases by strengthening the body’s immune system through exercise or asanas and adoption of a simple and healthful diet. Even modern medicine endorses physical exercise as a way to fitness and good health, they say. Real Yoga, they point out, is not about making unsubstantiated claims about its supposed ability to cure diseases like cancer, but is about enjoying a simple lifestyle by attaining one’s goals through discipline and by controlling body and the mind.
Should Yoga be made a compulsory subject in schools and how will the the student be benefited from such a step?
The holistic definition of health adopted by the National Curriculum Framework (NCF) 2005 has Yoga as its integral part and Yoga has been a compulsory subject up to the secondary school stage since the year 1988.
The iCBSE websitehas more details on the subject in which it is stated, “Both yoga and physical education contribute to not merely the physical development of the child but have a positive impact on psychosocial and mental development as well.”
“Yoga practice contributes to the overall development of the child and various studies have shown that it contributes to flexibility and muscular fitness and also corrects postural defects among school children.”
“There is a need to provide children accurate information and help them to construct knowledge and acquire life skills, so that they cope up with the concerns related to the process of growing up, counter stress and strains and cope up with examination stress.”
“Within this overall framework both yoga and physical education are seen as routes for achieving overall development of children.”
Well, we have heard from the medical community, Yoga masters and practitioners, and education boards. Suffice to say, Yoga does have something to offer to everyone, but consensus is lacking in some areas about the benefits of its practice.

Teach Typing Skills to Children on QWERTY Keyboard

Teach Typing Skills to Children on QWERTY Keyboard

‘Qwerty’ is not a word, though it definitely sound like one. It denotes the first 6 keys on the left on the top row of the standard English language typewriters and keyboards.
Cambridge Online Dictionary defines qwerty as “with or ​relating to the ​usual ​arrangement of the ​keys on the ​keyboard of a ​computer, in which the ​top ​line of ​letters ​begins with q, w, e, r, t, and y, as in a qwerty keyboard or qwerty layout”
Typewriters were a ubiquitous presence in offices, schools, and even homes until they were pensioned off by computers. But for the generation that used them extensively, they evoke nostalgia. Catch an old movie on the telly to see a bunch of typists in action in a government office and tapping away at the ‘keyboard’ furiously. The typewriter was bulky and noisy, but it did its job well. In the days gone by, possessing typing skills made one more employable.
How is possessing good typing skills beneficial to students is a question relevant to educators, parents, and even researchers? Let us see how:
      Typewriter may have become a part of history, but the need to possess typing skills has most definitely not. Even though touchscreens, autocomplete feature, and voice typing are useful for certain tasks, typing is a skill that is likely to remain relevant for some time.
      Before the advent of computers, graduates learnt their typing skills in typing institutes. And students were taught typing in schools in most parts of the world. Once typewriters were out of the way, the practice was discontinued under the assumption that students would learn to type on their own. Clearly, that did not happen.
      Search and Peck, Hunt and Peck or Eagle Fingerare some of the terms used to describe two finger typing method used by untrained people (and students) for their text-inputting needs. It is slower, can lead to bad physical posture and related health risks.
      Typing is a skill that needs to be learnt and practiced until you master it. In the age of computer-based learning, children who have not mastered the skill are likely to lag behind their skilled peers in academics, in spite of possessing other talents.
      Classical memory-based typing known as Touch-type, teaches students to assume correct physical posture, use all 10 fingers, and to type effortlessly and with fewer errors. It improves hand-to-eye coordination and is less stressful as it eliminates the need to constantly look at the keyboard to locate the keys.
Typing is a skill that has become an integral part of our everyday life - be it at school or at workplace. So mastering it assumes greater significance and urgency. One can master typing even with an instruction manual or book. Practice is what makes you master the skill.
Internet is full of  useful resources for learning and improving typing skills. However, make sure you carefully read terms of service before using them.

Being Purpose-Oriented in Life is Imperative

The French language is full of words and phrases that help express hard-to-express sentiments and describe indescribable situations succinctly. English has freely borrowed words from other languages, including French, and the language is the richer for it. One such phrase is the French language word ‘raison d'être’ which Merriam-Webster dictionary lists as ‘the thing that is most important to someone or something or the reason for which a person or organization exists.” 

Identifying our own raison d'être is therefore important for all of us. What are the characteristics of purpose-oriented, also called goal-oriented, people and what special qualities do they bring to their environment? Goal-oriented people are 

  • 50% more likely to be in the top position in their organization.
  • more likely to be leaders who regard work as a way of making a positive impact.
  • dynamic and curious and more likely to see personal and professional growth.

We seldom think about the real purpose behind our actions. But, those who do among us can be called purpose oriented or goal oriented in life. They are clear in their mind about their actions; they are single-minded in meeting their objective; they are clear about their mission in life. They always put others’ interest before their own. Mahatma Gandhi helped free India from foreign rule. Mother Teresa served the poor and the sick all her life.

Parents have an important role to play in making their children purpose oriented in life. However, educators have the most critical role to play in moulding of young minds. Teachers are responsible for creation of future generations with right priorities and right set of moral and ethical values. Here are a few things parents and teachers can follow:

  • Parents and teachers can talk about how work is a source of fulfillment in life and the important role it plays while choosing careers.
  • Share the experience of building relationships, growing through your work and making a positive impact with your children.
  • Practice and share gratitude and empathy for others, every day.

At Mount Litera, we believe in promoting excellence in education - both academic and moral - without compromising on our core principles. We have always strived to elevate learning to a higher level, but doing so by promoting the belief that others’ needs come before our own.

Our motto is ‘If we do not value our values, we shall have no value.’ Our curriculum and our  value system help our students to not only acquire essential life skills and professional competence, but doing so with an approach that is as humane as it is goal-oriented. 

Music is Key to Child's Development

Music is Key to Child's Development

Music speaks in a universal language understood by not only humans, but also by plants and animals. It evokes strong emotions in the listeners and influences them in a positive way. Dairy farmers have reported that cows regard music favourably and have been known to produce more milk. Scientific research has shown that even plants are swayed by the sound of music.

In our mythology and folklore, the power of music has been described in great detail. Lord Krishna used to play the flute to round up his family’s cows after the day’s grazing. All of us have heard the story of the Pied Piper, who rid the German village of Hamelin of the menace of the marauding rats and lured them away from the town by playing his magic pipe.

In fact, our day at school starts with a prayer, sung in unison by students. Music is said to create positive energy that has the power to make one alert, energised and ready to take on the day with great enthusiasm. Singing of our national anthem has a similar effect on us. It breaks down barriers between us and makes us feel proud to be citizens of this great country.

Which brings us to the question of whether schools should have music education programs as part of the curriculum. Let us examine the benefits:

  • Better language and reasoning skills: Music is a great way to develop language and reasoning skills. It also teaches children to imprint information in their minds.
  • Helps in memorizing: Playing music is an elaborate affair with performers having to memorize musical notations, lyrics and when to play their part of the musical piece.
  • Improved coordination: Playing music requires good hand-eye coordination. For students who do not take part in sports, it’s a good way to develop their motor skills.
  • Personal achievement: Music is a specialized subject and success her can make students feel proud of their achievement. It also keeps them engaged in school.
  • Societal success: Music has the power to keep them interested and responsible. They are less likely to indulge in substance abuse.
  • Emotional development: Students who are into music also develop higher self esteem and can cope with stress and anxiety better.
  • All Round development of the child: Music education programs also help the student to develop pattern-recognition skills, fine-tune their auditory skills which results in developing better communications skills, builds imagination and intellectual curiosity.

To sum up, musical education help students better suited to be a part of the 21st century workforce by encouraging them to be creative thinkers. Students who study music also have highly developed spatial intelligence skills. They are disciplined and can fit into any environment easily. Being part of an orchestra or choir, they understand the importance of teamwork.