VEENA - Musical Instrument

Hello everyone,

I have been addicted to travel, culture, food & languages of the world since I was a child. Since I’ve not been traveling, I am trying to rediscover the sounds and cultures of the world that’s around me here in Seattle area. There are so many different kinds of music, traditions, dances, traditional clothing around this world. It separates us and yet it brings us together when we see the connections in some form or another. I am going to make an effort to express my love for geography, cultures, travel, food, traditions, languages through my photography. I am starting with this new pet project that I’ve been wanting to do for a very long time. Every month, I’ll be posting few talented artists living in Seattle area. The focus is going to be on women of different cultural background & origin. I am starting with Indian cultures as it’s very diverse & has some distinguished uniqueness. I am basically from India and yet I’ve lots to learn about Indian traditions. I am going to try my best to get women from different ethnic backgrounds from around the world for this new project. Our world is so diverse, so beautiful. Every single country contributes to the beauty of our world by making it more interesting and colorful. Support this initiative by either following me on this page or subscribing to my YouTube channel (traveling.toes11 - to see what these wonderful ladies create. I’ll be posting a brief story about the dance forms or the music & you all will be able to watch the video samples and photos of my talented models 🙂. Let’s celebrate women, let’s celebrate the cultures of the world! Thank you for your support!

My first model: Meet Shreya. Shreya is a very talented musician who plays Veena.

Veena is a beautiful, ancient string instrument. It’s very popular in south India, basically used to play Carnatic music. It’s similar to the North Indian instrument Sitar. The Veena is usually carved on a single piece of solid wood to which the strings are pulled and attached. There are metal surfaces on which the strings land. Musicians press those surfaces and pull the strings to make the beautiful, rhythmic music.

Check out Shreya’s video. Her channel: Veena Melodies has lot of wonderful videos.


KODAVA - Coorg, Karnataka

Dear All,

The culture I am going to share today is close to my heart because it is about the indigenous people from my home state of Karnataka. I had a few Kodava friends back in school and I have learnt from them a little bit about their cultures. I have always been fascinated with their culture & traditions. My friend here who has posed for me is also from my home state of Karnataka but neither of us are Kodavas. We have tried our best to research about the Kodavas and bring out the authentic story about them. If I make any mistakes in representing the culture, kindly forgive me as I am also in a learning stage & do not mean any disrespect to the beautiful culture. Kodavas are the indigenous clan from the beautiful Kodagu or Coorg district of the state of Karnataka. Their attire, jewelry, language is all very unique even though they are a part of Karnataka. They are a very brave clan and even today, many Kodavas serve the country in the military. Women are given very high importance in the Kodava culture and they also encourage widow remarriages which, at one time, was banned in India decades ago. They share borders with the state of Kerala and hence they have a mixed culture from both Karnataka and Kerala. They worship River Kaveri (the main source of sweet drinking water in Karnataka state) and believe in respecting and worshipping their ancestors. The bronze pot in the images is a representation of how they respect the holy river Kaveri. The lamp is called Thook Bolcha which is the sacred lamp of Kodavas. The Kodava woman drape their saree differently with the pleats at the back and the loose end pinned at the right shoulder. My friend here has draped her saree in Kodava style. She has also performed a Kodava dance (I will be sharing later). Lots of friends have helped us here in sharing the authentic Kodava style jewelry. Thanks to all of them for helping us. Thanks to my friend Shilpa for learning the Kodava style dance, getting the right jewelry & dressing up beautifully for us. I made a special prop to represent the beautiful landscape & nature of Coorg, which is also known as the Scotland of India. Hope you all enjoy these images. Thank you!



Hey everyone,

Today I am posting about another Indian classical dance form. My friend Ramya Parameswaran has been learning and performing this beautiful classical dance for many years. Thank you Ramya for posing so beautifully! I am posting this with a lot of love and respect for the art form. If either of us have done some mistakes or if I have posted something wrong, kindly correct me and forgive me. Bharatnatyam is a classical dance form that originated in Tamil Nadu, India. Its one of the oldest classical dances which focuses on hand gestures (Mudras) & expressing emotions through eyes. Excellent footwork is very important in this dance form which is achieved with extensive practice for many years. Hindu Religious scripts and Mythological stories are also expressed through Bharatnatyam. The rulers of India used Bharatnatyam as a means of entertainment. Devadasis or Temple dancers were extensively trained to perform as entertainers. Usually, only women were trained to perform to the Kings and the court. During the British rule in India, this dance form was banned outside the temple. The modern or current generation Bharatnatyam is a very famous dance form & learnt by both women and men of all ages. Bharatnatyam poses, mudras and expressions are seen in Hindu temples. There are many beautiful temples with sculptures that recite stories using sign language & gestures of Bharatnatyam. I hope you all enjoy these images. I will also be posting a small video later of Ramya’s performance. Thank you!


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Hello everyone, I started this culture post focusing on many aspects that are ongoing. This culture post is to break stereotypes. Moms can be models, women can be photographers, all cultures are beautiful and you must have an open heart to accept other cultures and make your like more colorful. Hate against Asians is wrong. Hate against any living being is wrong. We all are humans, technically mammals created by nature. We all are God’s creations and HATE should never be included in the package. Every single person who has posed for me so far is a mother, a teacher, an engineer, a dancer, a musician, an achiever who works hard to keep her family running. The countries they come from has influenced this world in different ways. We all undergo the same feelings - happiness, sadness, pain, anger, disappointment, hunger etc. We all must curb the feeling of Hate and bring in LOVE. LOVE gives us HOPE. Today I am so happy to post about Japanese cultures. I love all cultures around the world but Japan has a special place in my heart because I was supposed to travel last year but had to cancel the trip due to Covid restrictions. I hope to visit Japan again soon to learn more about the culture and people. I am posting this with lot of love and with little knowledge I have from my research. If I make any mistakes, kindly forgive me and correct me. In this Japanese post, I am focusing on their important aspects - Language, Kimono, Japanese Garden and tea. Japanese language is a combination of Kanji, Hiragana and Katakana scripts. Its one of the oldest languages of the world. The modern Japanese is believed to have begun during EDO period (1603-1867). My model today - Akiko is a Japanese teacher & a Kimono Instructor. She also takes classes for many who are interested to learn the Japanese language. She not only dressed beautifully in a Kimono for this culture project but also graciously agreed to teach few basic Japanese words in the video which I will be posting later for you all. Japanese have different types of Kimonos for both men and women. Kimonos are supposed to be very difficult to wear garments. It comprises of many layers of garments, folded it in a particular way to bring out the neat lines and the sash (OBI) is used to design the waist. To express certain sentiments, they have different Kimonos for different occasions. Both Kimono and Obi come in different colors and patterns. Akiko carried herself so elegantly in her kimono. The designs and patterns were beautiful to see. Japanese garden inside Bellevue Botanical Garden is beautiful & very peaceful. I love the gates, the structures they have and it was a perfect place for our outdoor session. They also have a row of Japanese cherry blossom trees. We tried to find the Japanese style structures and Japanese native plants of trees to make the photos look as authentic to Japan as possible. We then came back to my small home studio where I had decorated a backdrop to look like a Japanese tea. As you all know, Macha or Green tea is from Japan so I just wanted to show a small tea ceremony kinda setup in my studio. I handmade the candle lantern with my son thats on the stool to the right. The studio set up had a little bit of Japan - Cherry blossom strings, Origami Cranes made by my Japanese friend Yukiko, Tea pot from my friend Shreya, the large Japanese fan in the backdrop was borrow from a friend Margaret. Thank you friends for making this possible! : ) I will soon be posting few language tips video from Akiko. Stay tuned 🙂 I hope you all enjoy these images. Thank you for ur support and following me on FB and Insta! Pls keep the likes and follows coming. It helps me & motivates me to share more cultural posts! Thank you!


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BIHU - Assam

Hello everyone,

Today, I am super delighted to share yet another unique indigenous culture from East of India. ASSAM - the beautiful state of Assam is very well know for its nature, wild life (popular for one horned Rhino) lush green forests, River Brahmaputra (one of the major rivers in India) silk and of course TEA! The tea labels could say English tea or Irish tea on the boxes but most tea producers get their tea leaves from the beautiful state of Assam. Assam borders 2 other countries (Bhutan and Bangladesh). Assam enjoys the blend of Indian culture & a bit of similarities with their neighbors such as language & dialects. This time we are going to talk about their dance form Bihu. My new beautiful & elegant friend Sanghamitra Borgohain is from Assam. We have done our best in researching about the culture and traditions & posting this with lot of respect. In case if we have made any mistakes, we apologize and request you to correct us. This time, Sanghamithra is helping me with this write up. Its a wonderful coincidence that I am posting about BIHU during spring season. Special thanks to my friend Shilpa Sherigar for introducing me to Sanghamithra. I hope you all enjoy the beautiful dance clip and photos of @Sanghamitra Borgohain. Thank you Sanghamithra for being a sport, dressing up in ur traditional attire, helping me with the write up and for the beautiful choreography. Happy New Year to everyone celebrating Assamese New Year! From Sanghamithra “Assam celebrates Bihu three times in a year. Bohag or Rongali Bihu is celebrated in April, Kati or Kongali Bihu in October and Magh or Bhogali Bihu in January. Out of the three Bihu festivals, the Bihu dance is mostly performed during the Rongali Bihu by both men and women to express their joy on the arrival of Spring & celebrate the Assamese New Year. Men wear dhotis with gamusa (specially designed garment) wrapped around their waist and head and women wear traditional Mekhela Chadars usually made from Muga silk which is exclusively produced in Assam. Mekhela is a cylindrically shaped outfit worn on the lower half of the body, the chadar is draped like a shawl to cover the upper half. Women wear traditional Assamese jewelry the designs of which are mostly inspired from nature. They beautify their bun with Kopou flower (Foxtail orchid) which is in abundance during Spring. The dancers sway their bodies gracefully to the rhythm of Bihu folk music which is based on themes like Assamese New Year, farmer's daily life, love and more. The instruments used during the Bihu dance are dhol (double headed drum), taal (cymbals), Pepa (a hornpipe instrument), Baanhi (flute), Gogona (vibrating reed instrument), Toka (Clapper made from bamboo) and Xutuli (moon shaped instrument made from clay or bamboo to imitate bird sounds). Bihu is traditionally performed outdoors in open fields, river banks or under big trees.”


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Hey everyone,

Hope you all are doing well. Today I am bringing in a new culture shoot video + photos of Pippa. Pippa & her mom Laura, are my friend Ramya’s friends and I want to thank Ramya for this introduction. If not for Ramya, I wouldn’t have had a chance to learn about this Spanish dance form. 
Here is a small write up from me regarding Flamenco. I am doing this with love & lot of respect. It very new to me even though its a very old dance form. Whatever I have learnt, I am sharing that. If we make any error or mistakes, we apologize. We thank you and we are grateful for your support and interest. Flamenco is an art form based on various folk music from Souther Spain. It’s been in practice for hundreds of years. When Pippa performed, I noticed that its very intense and she showed lot of passion in her moves - facial expressions, hand gestures and the foot movements are very important. The music is very catchy and lively. Flamenco is not just popular in Spain but also in USA, Spain, and Japan. They wear vibrant dresses and very special shoes with thick soles that makes a beautiful tapping sound and they clap during their performances in a rhythmic beat. Here are few words from Pippa: “ I started dancing Flamenco in 2014 and never looked back. After studying classical ballet intensively, I wanted to branch out to another dance style. I speak Spanish and I love flamenco because its an art form defined by power, grace and passion. Dancing Flamenco has taught me self-confidence and perseverance. The comb I was wearing in my hair is called “Peineta”. The white designed garment around my neck is called “Fleco”. The fan is called an “Abanico”. The dance is called Tangos de Triana. Tangos is a “palo” (essentially a genre) of Flamenco And Triana is a neighborhood in Sevila where Flamenco is said to have originated. I am grateful to my incredible teachers in USA and in France.“ I hope you all enjoy this dance. Thank you!


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Hello everyone, This time, I would like to take you all on a virtual journey through a cultural dance shoot focusing on the state of Rajasthan. I am not using chatgpt and just writing this out of my small research and sharing what I know with love and respect. So kindly excuse me if I make any mistakes as its not intentional. I am also learning about different cultures everyday! Rajasthan is situated in North west of India and is popular for its beautiful Thar desert, Rajput royalties with their stunning architecture and palaces, colorful outfits + jewelries and their most popular folklore called GHOOMAR. Women wear colorful blouse and skirt (choli and ghagra) and swirl around in this dance form. By spinning and clapping their hands, they show off their colorful outfits and jewelries whilst they sing the folk songs. At times this dance form involves people carrying a pot and fire on their heads as they dance. Women wear lot of bangles of different sizes up to their forearms called Chuda/choora. The style of jewelry is called Kundan. On their foreheads, they wear the Borla - the traditional round shaped ornaments and medium to large sized Nath (nose ring). On their waist, they wear waist bands called Tagdi. Apart from these, they were so many other jewelries. Many of their outfits are handmade. Some married women do not remove these jewelries or wear them every single day. They usually cover their faces with a vail out of respect to elders. Its super interesting to understand these beautiful cultures & their significance. Please meet the stunning model/dancer, Chandni. Chandni’s ancestors are from Rajasthan and she dressed up exclusively for me so that I can talk about Ghoomar and Rajasthani culture. Chandni is a popular influencer on Instagram. Kindly check out her handle if you are interested in artistic makeup tips.

She shares so many useful makeup tips for everyone. Thank you Chandni for your time and efforts. Really appreciate it. Thank you all for taking time to read this and see the photos. It’s always wonderful to share my favorite pet peeve - Culture photography.


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