Ashtavinayaka, famous abodes of Lord Ganesha

There are eight important and famous abodes of Lord Ganesha. These are collectively known as Ashtavinayaka. The eight naturally-formed sculpted stone statues are housed in the old temples.

The Ashtavinayaka temples are just within the range of 100 km of each other. A lot of spiritual importance is given to these eight destinations in Hindu religion.

Each idol is Lord Ganesha’s incarnation as told in different mythological tales. The places, the idols and their incarnation stories are ancient. These narrate us about why and how these Ganesha idols got their particular names and came into existence.

Elaborating on the Ashtavinayaka, the official tourism website of Maharashtra state notes: “Vinayak is another popular name for the god loved and worshiped by Hindus all over, Ganesh. Lord Ganesh is known to be the protector of his ardent devotees. Eight (Astha) naturally-formed sculpted stone statues are housed in old temples at the places where they were first found. The temples of Ashta Vinayaka are within the range of just 20 to 110 km of each other.”

The sequence of Ashtavinayaka pilgrimage according to the convention as mentioned in puran as is as follows:
1. Sri Mayureshwar Of Morgaon
2. Sri Siddhivinayak Of Siddhatek
3. Sri Ballaleshwar Of Pali
4. Sri Varad Vinayaka Of Mahad
5. Sri Chintamani Of Theur
6. Sri Girijatmaj Of Lenyadri
7. Sri Vigneshwar Of Ozar
8. Sri Mahaganapati Of Ranjangaon

These eight places are all in western Maharashtra. To plan your trip, contact:
Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation;
Reg. Office: Express Towers, 9th Floor, Nariman Point, Mumbai 400 021.
Information & Booking Office
Central Reservation Division, C.D.O. Hutments,
Opp. Yogakshema (LIC Building), Madame Cama Road, Mumbai 400 020
Check the MTDC Ganesha gallery here…

Mention must also be made of Ganapatipule in Konkan, a spectacular beach right along the Konkan Coast. It’s an idyllic getaway, which attracts beach lovers and pilgrims alike. The temple of Swayambhu (self-originated) Lord Ganesh here is visited by thousands of devotees every year. 

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Ganesha themes gifts: Affordable to affluent

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Elephant-headed lord Ganesha sure is the most adorable and revered of Hindu deities. Pinpointing his various virtues and attributes is an awe-inspiring exercise. The portly Lord is at once the sage, complex philosopher and childlike. The lord keeps at bay evil forces and protects its worshippers. 

You can share the joy of great Ganesha festivities with these gorgeous Ganesha gifts on eve of the Chaturthi. Here are some gorgeous Ganesha themes gifts – from affordable to affluent – so mesmerize a diehard devotee in keeping with the spirit of the occasion.      

Handcrafted fiber idol Ganesha:
A handcrafted fiber idol will recreate the magic of Lord Ganesha. Lord Ganesha, the destroyer of obstacles, is worshipped before any venture is started.

Ganesha Rudraksha bead:
According to mythological tales, the Rudraksha plant was born out of Lord Shiva’s tear drops. Ganesh Rudraksha that bears a Trunk like elevation as on the face of Lord Ganesha makes a nice gift. It apparently provides the wearer succor in every sphere of life thanks to the grace of Lord Ganesha.

The Ganesh Rudraksha Bead will make a really special gift to the way. It can be kept at the place of worship. Worshipped daily, it is said to offer the blessings of Lord Ganesha. The Rudraksha bead should be worn in a clean, white thread or in a Gold Chain. It is indicative of good fortune.

Lieber Ganesha handbags:
Lieber handbags, made by skilled craftsmen, are treated as collector’s items. Their Ganesha inspired limited edition of bags, priced at Rs 2.6 lakh plus, is something unique, and special! The price tag is attributed to the highest level of craftsmanship involved, a box hand-stamped in brass, plated with gold, and embellished with thousands of colored crystals. Its creator, Frank Zambrelli has looked at 700 images of the elephant-headed Hindu god before deciding upon the perfect shape.

A ‘healthy’ gifting strategy

In a series of informative essays, Giftex has explained how gift cards are perfect for personal as well as corporate gifting. Interestingly, amidst today’s challenging economic environment, a new trend has been witnessed in the western countries. Corporate entities are offering gift cards to encourage their employees to remain mentally and physically fit.  

They are being given incentives to lose weight and quit smoking. According to an interesting survey, as employers continue to experiment for improving the wellness, health and productivity of their workforce, incentives like gift cards are being recognized as a crucial aspect of a full-fledged health management strategy.

A news report states that increasing number of corporate houses in the US are offering gift cards as an incentive to workers.

The value of incentives offered is typically 100 to 300 US dollars per person. per year, a survey found out. In fact, well over three-quarters of leading US employers now offer formal health & wellness programs, whereas more than half of them run disease management programs.

The survey found the usage of incentives along with health & wellness programs significantly increased. Gift cards are among the top incentive choices in the financial year gone by, with their usage going up to 28 percent from just 17 percent in the previous year, whereas the usage of cash bonuses as well as lower premiums declined during the same period.

More than a quarter of those offering programs have managed to successfully measure the return on their investment (RoI), up from just 14 percent. Of those employees who took the measure, 83 percent noted they ‘more than broke even’ compared with just 66 percent last year.

More employers are expected to resort to this strategy in the new year so that their workers take better care of themselves. Employees can pocket a good amount of money by entering a smoking cessation program or undergoing a personal health assessment or. They can avoid an additional surcharge on their health insurance by finishing the anti-smoking program.

It is time that the corporate India also take the similar ‘healthy’ gifting strategy to encourage their workers and employees to stay fit.

Tracking the transition in the gifting trends on festive occasions

The way of celebrating traditional festivals are undergoing a metamorphosis with the changing times, and so also the pattern of gifting. Rakhi is no exception to this. Brother-sister duos tend to share early phase of life together, and retain the bond even as they grow up.

Apart from sentiments, with big bucks riding on Rakhi, has the festival become more a show of ostentation, rather than pure emotion? This was the point raised in a ToI article.

Model Vasuki S, currently studying in NY, mentioned, “Rakhi is now largely commercial. It’s more about what you get from your brother. My brother is younger than me. But the thing, which touched me the most was when he saved from his pocket money at the tender age of ten to get me a gift on Rakhi. It’ll always be special when you can let your sister know that you’re there for her.”

With sisters not hesitant to demand opulent gifts, most brothers leave no stone unturned when it comes to getting the best possible for their sisters. No wonder then that the whole gifting industry has also evolved in keeping with the trend. So gone are the days when those run-of-the-mill gifts like some cash were the most common. Today it’s all about more luxurious spoils…

Art aficionado Timsy Anand stated, it was still more about making the sincere effort to connect with one another even with the changing thought that money could buy the biggest gifts.  And sisters can’t really stop putting up that long list of loving demands.

New Delhi based Garima Parnami, a model, added, “As for a gift, I want a new laptop. And I don’t think it’s about being materialistic. I want it because mine is really bad. My brother is aware of it. I know he can afford one for me. Gifting for me is a beautiful concept to show you care.”

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What novel gifts were offered this Raksha Bandhan?

Raksha Bandhan sure is the most awaited occasion siblings look forward to. Apart from being an opportunity to show their deepest feelings for each other, the festival also presents an exciting opportunity to exchange heart-felt gifts. Insightful articles appearing in the mainstream newspapers tracked this trend.

Take a look what this ToI report has to say, “There has been an evident transition in the gifting trend on Rakhi. Forget those 1,000 bucks brothers dished out from their pockets. Rakhi gifting is much bigger now.”

Owing to several exciting promotions, the concept of gifting has clearly changed, Attractive sales ‘n’ deals are now arranged to lure discerning siblings on the eve of d Rakhi.

New Delhi based model-cum-DJ Barkha Kaul was quoted as saying, “Earlier it was only some cash sisters got from their brothers. Now things have changed. It’s more about showing off. One can say that sisters have become much more demanding because the advertising industry is getting stronger with several new packages and promotions designed for Raksha Bandhan. In my case, my brother being ten years younger to me and not earning yet, I didn’t really expect anything from him. Instead I like buying stuff for him.”

Another interesting report, titled ‘unique gift this raksha bandhan’ listed some off-beat ideas that brothers considered to please their sisters. Among them were gift ideas such as pampering package at the spa, an exclusive trip to foreign shores, a dental care package, a hamper with beverages, confectionaries, and health food items, as well as cell phone coded with vouchers that can be used to buy a wide range of items at various online and retail outlets.

Take the case of a new job aspirant Devarshi Shag who gifted his sister a unique spa experience at Udaipur’s Angsana Spa (Radisson Plaza). “She loves pampering herself, so I felt this would be the perfect gift for her,” the proud brother was quoted as saying.

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Purchasing gifts online is fast gaining momentum

Rakhi is the thread that symbolizes the bond of love. A sister ties it on her brother’s wrist. The latter gives a present to her. If you have failed to send your rakhi in time or get something interesting, there is no need to worry.

Though the festival of Rakhsha Bandhan is just over, don’t lose heart. Just go online and click. You can still look for something interesting and send it to your brother or sister!

Those who send their rakhi and gifts by post or courier often have a bad experience. A software professional in Noida narrated her experience in an article in The Hindustan Times. She recounted: “Once I sent a rakhi in Pune to my brother. They dispatched it first to Patna mistakenly and then it took them a month to send it to my brother’s correct address and that too torn.”

Owing to such incidents, people are wary of sending rakhi via post. Online portals are a better avenue for some truly interesting gifts and pooja thalis on any festive occasion. Online shopping platforms have caught up in the last few years. These portals are convenient and you don’t have to worry about what to purchase, where to buy and need not be concerned about timely delivery of gifts.

Another advantage of the portals is that they are up and running 24×7. They are open throughout the year and hence are extremely user friendly. Consumers can review different product options to take an informed decision order. They can order and secure any product, without leaving their home, round the clock.

No surprise, the concept of purchasing gifts online is fast gaining momentum owing to ease of shopping, According to online shopping portal HomeShop18’s CEO, Sundeep Malhotra, education and employment demands have resulted in a physical distance between sisters and brothers. Their aim is to bridge it and make sure that they receive their gifts irrespective of wherever they are based.

HomeShop18 has on offer a variety of gifting ideas like silver and pearl rakhis. The collection can either be purchased separately or they come in various combos with chocolates and other interesting gifts. Attractive thalis with sweets are available.

Riddhima asks for an interesting gift from brother Ranbir Kapoor

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Raksha Bandhan is the occasion when even celebrities take time off from their hectic schedules and soak in the spirit of the festival.

It’s that auspicious time of the year when brothers and sisters strengthen their tender bond signified by tying of the sacred thread.

And gifts are an essential element of the festival to reflect the spirit of sharing and caring. Riddhima Kapoor this Rakhi wanted quite an interesting gift from her famous actor brother Ranbir. What was that?

As a media report stated she wanted her actor brother to come up with as many super hits this season as he can as her best Rakhi gift. The news report mentioned: “Riddhima, a busy fashion designer, wasn’t able to go to Mumbai for celebrating Raksha Bandhan. However, she sent her rakhi by courier.”

She was quoted as saying: “I would be in New Delhi and hence won’t be able to travel to Mumbai owing to my work commitments. I’ve couriered it (Rakhi) to him. Along with it, I’ve also sent to brother my good wishes and blessings. And all I want as my Rakhi gift from him is that he should give as many hit films as he can.”

On the other hand, Bebo’s (Shivshakti Sachdev) popular on-screen brothers Siddharth Bajaj (Omi) and Vineet Kumar (Daljeet) surprised the former. They visited the sets and celebrated Raksha Bandhan.

The overwhelmed actress prepared a pooja thali and tied Rakhi to them and prayed to God for their well-being and happiness. The ‘brothers’ acknowledged her emotions with a pledge to stand by her through all the good and even bad times.

A touched Bebo said, “I’m delighted that my brothers have come here to celebrate Rakhi with me. They’ve been a strong support; they’ve always offered a strong helping hand. I’m lucky to have brothers who protect and love me.”

Don’t feel surprised if you get a gift from your sister

In the previous post, we checked some interesting gift ideas that a brother can consider to make his sister happy. But don’t feel surprised if you get a gift from your sister as well!

Here are some gift ideas for a proud sister to reciprocate her feelings toward her beloved brother.

Victorinox Swiss Knives: A Swiss army knife is a tool to treasure for your brother if he is a camping enthusiast and frequently participates in outdoor and adventure events! The Swiss knife is much more than just a knife! It carries multiple implements incorporated into a single casing.

The high end models consist of screwdriver, awls, altimeters, can and crate openers, blades, saws, scrimpers, wire stripper, magnifying lens, rulers, key rings, scrapers, toothpick and more, all in a single unit, depending on the model you choose. It’s a truly multi-purpose and cost effective gift.

Cappuccino-Espresso/ coffee and tea-maker: This all-in-one machine ranks high on scale of practicality especially if your brother is studying or working away from home. It’s affordable, too! Every morning, he can enjoy a hot cuppa, and will think of you, sipping his hot tea or coffee every morning.

Features to look for when buying a coffee and tea-maker are ease of usage, capacity, less preparation time and simplified controls. Ensure it has a calibrated jar (for filter coffee and tea) and a swiveling jet frother to prepare mounds of frothed milk for cappuccino, hot chocolate, latte and other frothy milk drinks.

Cordless shaver: A cordless shaver is perfect for a busy working professional. It’s handy for shaving off stubbles in quick time. A single head cordless shaver includes ultra thin flexible foils with floating cutter that leave one’s skin smooth and glowing!

The electric shavers come with a rechargeable battery, the pop-out trimmer (for shaping sideburns and moustache), and cleaning bristles. Gift it to your brother so that he can enjoy a smooth shave at his discretion! Braun Flex Integral 5550 Rb or Philips HQ6605 electric shaver are recommended.

So don’t feel surprised if you receive a gift from your sister as well! She might have already picked one for you!

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With some thought and imagination, you can present a nice Friendship Day gift

Friendship Day, as we are all well aware, is a day of celebrating your ties of genuine friendship. It’s a significant occasion that fortifies the bond between friends. The day is not far away. And you may well be thinking of an appropriate gift idea for the occasion.

Instead of going for a rushed, last-minute purchase of flowers, here are some gift ideas to work on to make your friend happy.

1. An eclectic picture perfect photo frame with nice personal touch can be presented. Rummage through old photo albums! Reprocess an old birthday, anniversary or a picnic. An intelligently conceived, calligraphic text will make it look classy.

2. Mouse pad with a message is also worth considering. Many computer accessory stores readily customize the mouse pad with photos or illustrations of your choice. You could redo a ubiquitous penholder or mug in the same manner.

3. Burn a CD of your friend’s favorite duets or solos or classic poems. A music CD with personalized messages sneaked in between songs for you friend will make him or her special. Customize the CD cover with a childhood picture that you can source from your family album.

4. Get a personalized piece of art if you friend is an art lover. Gift him or her one of those beautiful, original prints.

5. Engraving your feelings or simply your initials on a gift will make it a memorable and treasured one. A generic gift may not stand out, but it is possible to give a complete twist to even the simplest and commonest of gifts, making them appear fantastic! For example, by engraving a bracelet or a pretty key chain with a special message for your friend, you can make him or her happy.

Gifting your friend something he or she has been thinking to buy for a while is a perfect way to capture the spirit of the day.

With a bit of thought and imagination, you can come up with an interesting Friendship Day gift ideas.

Rakhi and other character merchandise

In our previous blog, we carried details of a news report, stating that the Zoozoo creator Vodafone Essar intends to release official Zoozoo merchandise with the help of leading retail chain Shopper’s Stop.

Branded character merchandise is a territory not many retailers want to tread upon because of the peculiar market conditions. One of them is intellectual property issues. Customer care associate & chief executive for Shoppers Stop, Govind Shrikhande, elaborated that character merchandising is rather easy to copy. There isn’t much control over violation of IP rights.

According to him, film merchandise has a shelf life of roughly two to three months whereas character merchandising is more challenging, particularly if the official merchandise is costly, thereby prompting the demand for their cheaper knock-offs. He estimates that the branded merchandise market is in the region of around Rs 1,050 crore.

Character merchandise has worked successfully in case of the Disney and other you can make your brother, both a cricket and Zoozoo fan, happy with a ravishing Zoozoo rakhi like SpongeBob, SquarePants, Ben 10, and Hanuman etc. The official Zoozoo fan club page on Facebook has over 3 lakh fans. Such branded merchandise works well for brand promotion. It reinforces the image of the brand.

E-commerce site Indiangiftsportal.com stocks products that feature the Zoozoos. Its MD Manan Sharma claims that his efforts to get an official license for Zoozoo merchandise failed. But he is not worried about infringement of IP rights? According to him, they are simply making the Zoozoos popular so there shouldn’t be a problem?

On the other hand, online merchandiser Myntra Designs Ltd has been a tad more cautious. Their creative designers contribute their own ideas and the site has rejected several Zoozoos based T-shirt designs owing to copyright issues.

Irrespective of pros and cons of the debate, the good part is that you can make your brother, both a cricket and Zoozoo fan, happy with a ravishing Zoozoo rakhi.  

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