Patel Brothers Blog

Bringing You The Homeland Since 1974

Holidays, Holidays, Holidays! A few tips to make this week easier.

Holidays, Holidays, Holidays! A few tips to make this week easier.

It is that time of the year. In many places snow is on the ground and Christmas lights and decorations are up. Many of us are doing last minute shopping and finalizing our plans for the holidays. The children are on winter break and you cannot remember if that is a good thing or not. The holidays give us many things to look forward to from great food, comical moments with family and friends, a little break from our busy lives, presents, among many other things. If you're feeling overwhelmed, remember, a week after Christmas Day you can unwind and celebrate the New Year! Now here are a few tips that can help you enjoy the holidays with a little more ease!


1.   Don’t wait until the last minute – this goes without saying, but it is still hard to watch last minute shoppers and buyers attempting to navigate through the chaos of a mall. While we all do not have the luxury of time off before Christmas Day, it is still important to make whatever “free-time” you have useful. From planning your dinner, getting supplies and presents, to even figuring out guest parking—being prepared is smarter than waiting for the situation to arrive, which goes into our next tip…


2.   Have a plan, but leave some flexibility – No matter what you do or plan, there can always be a setback or delay. It happens, and usually it happens at the worst possible times. From flight delays to traffic, there are many things that can occur. It is difficult to manage large groups of people, especially at a busy time like this. It’s also important that you are mindful of the weather.  So be flexible, plan ahead, and understand that stressing yourself out does not accomplish anything.


3.   Keep the weather in mind --  The snow is pretty but the winter is tough. The only thing worse than the cold is being stranded in the cold. Make sure your car is in order. Good snow tires are key in the struggle for traction when driving in the snow. Make sure your car is equipped with the essentials like a portable phone charger, jumper cables, salt, and even a blanket. 


4.    Don’t put it all on yourself – holiday season is about celebrating with family and friends. Don’t be afraid to ask them for help! If you are hosting, you should not be doing everything alone. Delegate some duties to other family members. It helps take a task off your shoulders, while involving others. Also if you are a guest, ask your hosts if they need help. A little courtesy goes a long way!


5.    Lastly, have a good time – it is the holidays and you should be cheering and smiling. Many people take this time of the year for granted. Remember not everyone will be home for the holidays or get the time off to celebrate. Enjoy being with your family and friends and share those stories and create some great memories! Be safe, we wish you all the best!

Happy Holidays!

Continue reading

A little history of the 4th Thursday of November: Thanksgiving Day

A little history of the 4th Thursday of November: Thanksgiving Day

Here in the United States, Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday observed on the fourth Thursday of November. Thanksgiving is celebrated in in many different nations, among a variety of cultures, at different times throughout the year. Although it has deep history with roots in religious and cultural traditions, it is now more commonly celebrated in a secular manner. So what is the history of Thanksgiving Day? Why do we still celebrate it? Why does our President “pardon” a turkey? Let us take a look…

In 1621, the Wampanoag Native Americans and other local tribes, who lived in present day Massachusetts and Rhode Island, befriended the pilgrims of Plymouth. The local Native Americans taught the pilgrims how to cultivate corn, extract sap, catch fish and avoid poisonous plants. In November 1621, the Pilgrim’s successfully had their first corn harvest and the Governor organized a celebratory feast and invited their local Native American allies. The festival lasted for three days and now is considered the “first Thanksgiving.” Among the many conflicts between Native Americans and European colonists, this alliance was remarkable and unfortunately, one of few rare examples of peace and harmony during a tragic time period in our history. Since then it was celebrated on and off since 1789, after a proclamation by our first president, George Washington. However, it was President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 during the American Civil War, who proclaimed it an official national day thus recognizing it as a Federal Holiday.

So 395 years later and we are still celebrating this? Of course we are! Just like the Pilgrims at Plymouth, many of us have much to be thankful about. In today’s society we often forget to count our blessings and just focus on the now and our problems. It is always nice to have a day like Thanksgiving, where we are surrounded by family and close friends. Where we can stop focusing on the troubles of our world for just an instance and focus on each other. Where we can be thankful for a delicious meal and great company. Just remember that if you can do any of the above, you are already more fortunate than the majority of the population. Being thankful does not just mean having to say the words. Being thankful can also be a gesture or an action. Give some money to a charity you always wanted to or send some of your leftovers to a food bank or give it to a homeless person. Do you have to? Of course not. Do whatever you believe is best, but remember all our lives are intertwined, meaningful and can be impactful, just like the Native Americans and Pilgrims at Plymouth.

Finally, what is the deal with “pardoning” a turkey by our Commander in Chief? Although the history of why turkey is so commonly used is a bit of a mystery, turkey has become a traditional dish and a norm for Thanksgiving for quite some time. When the Pilgrims and Native Americans celebrated their first feast, it is said that they may have had fowl, venison, fish, lobster and mussels, corn, squash, stew, among other things. It is not for sure if they had turkey, but many say it may have been present. The “pardoning” of a turkey is part of the National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation ceremony that takes place at the White House every year. The President is presented a live domestic turkey, which is then spared and free to live out the rest of their days. "It is a little puzzling that I do this every year," Obama said in 2014, "but I will say that I enjoy it, because with all the tough stuff that swirls around in this office, it's nice once in awhile to just say, 'Happy Thanksgiving.' "

So Happy Thanksgiving everyone! 

Continue reading

Why We LOVE Diwali and Other Tidbits

Why We LOVE Diwali and Other Tidbits

President Obama had Indian supporters on their feet when he wished Saal Mubarak and became the first US president to publicly light the Diya in celebration of Diwali in 2009. Prior to Obama, there was a hilarious episode of The Office titled “Diwali”, written by Indian cast-member Mindy Kaling, that received critical reception. It was a meaningful moment for Indian culture as it was the first time an American comedy series depicted Diwali. As Diwali approaches, we’d like to have our say on why we think people appreciate this beautiful pluralistic Holiday. 

Continue reading

How to Snack Like an Indian

Indian snacks are amazing. Whether you’re savoring a crispy samosa or moist gulab jamun, it’s hard to go wrong with Indian snacks.  Snacking is a huge part of Indian culture, but it can be confusing where to start. By the end of this article, you’ll know how to snack like an Indian.


Continue reading

Ramadan, Delayed Gratification, and Stoicism

“Until we have begun to go without them, we fail to realize how unnecessary many things are. We've been using them not because we needed them but because we had them.” ― Seneca, Letters from a Stoic

Ramadan is here. Faithful Muslims around the globe prepare for a month-long trek where from sunrise to sunset they refrain from food, drink, sex, smoking, and even anger. The anticipation begins to grow stronger as the first-day approaches.

To go against one's nature may seem daunting, especially to resist base urges like food & water. It takes time for the body to adapt and the first couple of days are anything but easy. But through this stoic practice, a greater appreciation arises. Consider abstaining from food, drink, sex, smoking, and anger from sunrise to sunset as inputs, while reflection, introspection, and a basic understanding of what it means to be human as outputs.

The aim of Ramadan is to experience and to understand that we are no better than anyone else. During Ramadan, Muslims renew their resolve against vices and make resolutions to be better in general. It's a yearly-reset (technically it's a little less than a year as Ramadan occurs every 355 days) where Muslims examine what they are looking for out of life.

Through this stoic Religious practice, they appreciate the little things that a month earlier seemed irrelevant. You’re thoughtful about the words you speak, the people you engage, and the energy you allocate. Fasting slows down your perception of time. Have you ever finished an episode of your favorite show, like Game of Thrones, and wondered where the time went. Time flows fast during these moments of joy, but during moments of suffering, it slows down like water in a choked up hose.

Fasting is the ultimate form of mindfulness for Muslims. So much of modern life is governed by our thoughts and with the addition of the symbiotic relationship we now have with smartphones, it seems we’re never in control. We make promises to ourselves that we don’t keep. We’d like to stay strict to a diet, a morning ritual, a fitness plan, but we’re often unable to follow through. In other words, we are dishonest with ourselves.

For Muslims, by resisting the most instinctive of desires, there is hypertrophy of the will-power muscle. You decide when you should eat or drink, not your urges. Strong-individuals recognize that goals require a certain amount of discipline. By engaging in this month long religious obligation, Muslims attempt to take control of the part of themselves that governs their everyday behavior. During the month of Ramadan, from sunrise to sunset, they are no longer victims of their thoughts and emotions (though what happens from sunset to sunrise may be a different story altogether).

Every year as Ramadan approaches, a little bit of anxiety sets in. How will I have the energy to go about my daily activities? I have to work, take care of my children, make dinner, etc. The Religious obligation seems insurmountable but every year countless Muslims fast, together. It provides them appreciation for things we take for granted in the Western world. The appreciation of water as the essence of life, food as a life force you are consuming, and family and friends with whom you share the food & water. It reminds them that the stoic lifestyle of Ramadan holds its own reward, it teaches us that if you’re not happy with what you have, you’ll never be happy with what you get.

Continue reading

Turmeric (Haldi): A Reawakened Relic of Ayurvedic Traditions

When I was younger I sprained my ankle playing basketball. Ankle sprains are common in basketball, but that doesn't mean they won’t have you yelling for mommy. My parents were ready with a treatment on hand, Haldi (Turmeric). They claimed it was a herbal medicine that would "absorb the pain". I was immediately skeptical -- but my parents insisted I try it. I followed the R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate) protocol but added an extra step where I rubbed Turmeric all over my ankle before wrapping it. They failed to mention the vibrant stain it leaves behind. I still remember the puzzled look on my friends faces when I showed up to school limping on a bright yellow ankle. Recently, I sprained my knee. After limping for days, I gave into the same treatment, a Turmeric wrap. I felt great the next day, it was as if the pain was sucked away. Now, I know what you're thinking (and I'm with you), it's most likely a coincidence. But it made me curious, how did this plant develop its massive reputation?

Continue reading

A Mainstream Holi

A Mainstream Holi

In the age of social media, where continuous sharing and connectedness are normal parts of everyday life, it’s no surprise that Holi, a colorful holiday that preaches inclusion, revitalization, and oneness, has risen in popularity. A search for #holi2012 on Instagram populates around 251 results, while a search for #holi2015 returns over 20,000!


(Google Trends show a similar spike when searching for Holi)

A tradition that began thousands of years ago in Northern India has spread to the world. Holi is celebrated in conjunction with the full moon of Phalguna, and usually falls during February and March. A time when many are coming to grasps with the notion that winter is not everlasting. Spring is seen in cultures throughout the world as a time of revitalization, Holi brings this idea to a physical plane with a larger than life celebration more commonly known as the Festival of Colors

Holi in America is different from Holi in India. The celebrations in America usually last a day and are contained within a single event while Holi in India is a multi-day celebration that begins with the Holika Fire. Holika was a treacherous demon in Hindu Vedic scriptures who was burnt to death with the help of God Vishnu. Holi derives its name from Holika and celebrates the victory of good over evil. People fill the streets of India and squirt one another with colored water, water balloons, and paint each other’s faces. Their differences are suspended as the feeling of oneness propagates throughout the land. Every corner of India is reverberating with the shouts: “Bura na mano Holi hai!” (Don’t get offended, it's Holi!)

Image courtesy: Dogo News

The throwing of colored powder into the air is what comes to mind when most people think of Holi. As the legend goes, the eclectic Lord Krishna griped to his mother about how a woman, Radha, had a fair complexion while his was dark. She suggested he throw color on Radha’s face and remove the difference between them. This is why people play with color and water during Holi, the splashes of color symbolize the breakdown of barriers of color, creed, and religion.

(Courtest of

Holi celebrations have transformed into must attend cultural events. The Sri Radha Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork, Utah (approximately 50 miles South of Salt Lake City) recently held a 70,000 person multi-day Holi Festival where non Hindu attendees outnumbered Hindus 2 to 1. College campuses have also played a big part of Holi coming to the mainstream. During Holi, students at many campuses can be seen participating in Holi-inspired color throws.


The Soul of India is on full display during Holi. A vibrant energy which Indians believe represents their culture is felt in the air. The inclusive nature of the celebrations is on full display when crowds of strangers wearing all white t-shirts throw fistfuls of organic powder into the air and each other. At a time when the media portrays a divisive world, Holi serves a reminder that inclusion is the norm. The celebration of Holy by non-Hindus is the ultimate affirmation that some traditions are timeless.


Image courtesy: Web Neel

Continue reading
Wait a minute, while we are rendering the calendar

Blog Categories

Most Popular Post

Hasban Shaikh
23 August 2016
Indian snacks are amazing. Whether you’re savoring a crispy samosa or moist gulab jamun, it’s hard to go wrong with Indian snacks.  Snacking is a huge part of Indian culture, but it can be confus...