Aruna Rajan is a Carnatic Vocalist and music teacher from Chennai, Tamil Nadu in Southern India. She moved to Findlay in 2013 with her husband, Rajan Ramachandran, and daughter, Abhinaya, who is currently in fourth grade at Van Buren Elementary School. Aruna shares her passion for singing by teaching Carnatic music through her school, The Swara Srishti School of Music and Art.
Sharing about Luminous Nights
I have been learning Carnatic music from the age of four. My hobby turned into my passion and after many years it has become my profession. My students and I have been performing in various events including Luminous Nights at the Toledo Zoo on October 7th. On the night of the performance, my daughter and I started with a welcome song – ‘Swagatham Shubha Swagatham’ where we took the audience to India. The kids then performed several songs ending with Varashiva Balam.”
What cultural traditions from India do you celebrate here in Findlay?
Being so far from our country, I believe we should hold our roots strongly, embrace our culture and pass this on to the next generation. I start my day by lighting diya, a lamp, followed by prayers. This habit has been successfully passed on to my daughter, too. We do miss celebrating many festivals with our families, like Navratri and Diwali, but we have made our own extended family here with friends and we celebrate festivals with them.
What do you miss from home?
First and foremost we miss our family. We also miss the temples, street shops, street food and jasmine flowers – which any Indian can’t live without.
Favorite place to eat in Findlay
We are vegetarians and do not hesitate to try out any restaurants which serve vegetarian food. As a family we love to dine at Olive Garden.
I believe in spending some quality time with my child by playing with her and reading a book together. They do not remember what we say to them but will recall the family rituals…the small things that we do together.
Favorite recipes from home
I am a big foodie and don’t restrict myself to one favorite food. But the top two would be Biryani (variety rice) and a dessert called Gulab Jamuns (sweet dumplings).
Anyone interested in Carnatic music classes can
email Aruna at email@example.com
Recipe for Gulab Jamuns (sweet dumplings):
This classic Indian sweet is very famous and is enjoyed in most festival and celebration meals.
1. Khoya [dried milk] (1.75 cups)
2. Binding Agent – (flour) 4 tbsp
3. Milk – 4/5 Tbsp or as required
4. Sugar – 1 ½ cups
5. Flavorings like cardamom
6. Lemon syrup
7. Clarified butter
8. Oil for frying
First we prepare the dough by adding evaporated milk solids and sifted flour. Mix well and then add milk one tbsp at a time, gently knead until the dough comes together. Cover the dough and set it for 20/30 mins.
Preparation of sugar syrup or Chashni
Add water and sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Add cardamom pods. Bring it to a rolling boil. Let simmer for 7-8 mins. Switch off and add a little lemon syrup.
To make the dumplings
Grease your palm with clarified butter. Take a little dough and roll it to make a ball. Prepare the remaining jamuns / balls in the same way.
Now fry 3 or 4 jamuns in sufficient oil. Repeat until you have fried them all. Make sure the sugar syrup is warm then transfer the jamuns to the sugar syrup. Let soak for 2-3 hrs. Garnish with sliced almonds and pistachio.