Almond Eyes, Lotus Feet – Indian Traditions in Beauty and Health by Sharada Dwivedi

Front Cover
Back Cover
Foreword by Princess Esra Jah of Hyderabad, India

‘Almond Eyes, Lotus Feet’ – the title – refers to Goddess Saraswati, the Indian Goddess of Wisdom and Beauty (talk about beauty and brains)! Before starting anything new, we Indians pay obeisance to our favorite gods and goddesses so we are guided by them throughout the process. So, I’m glad that this first book review is about the book Almond Eyes, Lotus Feet. It’s my way of paying my obeisance to Goddess Saraswati with my first book review.

To begin with, I absolutely love the title. I am sure every woman, regardless of race, colour and nationality, aspires to have beautiful almond eyes and pretty feet like a lotus.  And Princess Shashi Raje on the cover just embodies the title. What pretty eyes and lustrous hair! 

This book is written by two women – Sharada Dwivedi, an author who writes about art, architecture, history and traditions of cuisine and Shalini Devi Holkar (Sally), who is American by birth and has lived and worked in India for nearly 40 years.

The book is written in the form of a narrative by an Indian princess (now in her seventies) who is reminiscing about her younger days. She talks about her life in a palace – her childhood, her early marriage to a Prince from the neighbouring state, her wedding preparations, relationships with the many women in her marital home, childbirth and many other topics, all of this while describing traditional skin care, hair care rituals followed by women (princesses and commoners)  in India at that time. Princess Padmini, the narrator, also talks about simple home remedies for women of all ages, from puberty to menopause. 
My favourite part is the recipes at the end of the book. Luxurious sandalwood masks, almond-saffron masks for flawless skin, papaya and mint tea for acne, recipes for post-natal care and to strengthen bones, ancient recipes for various medicinal brews and tonics and how to make fragrant sachets to keep our cupboards and closets smelling divine. I mean, what is not to like about this book? It is a sensory delight for women everywhere!
The language used is pretty simple, no flowery language or prose, but her genuineness, her innocence and her knowledge of Ayurveda (the ancient Indian art of medicine and healing) shines through. The pictures in the book are priceless if you are a history buff or just romantic like me. To call it a feel-good book will be an understatement. Almond eyes, Lotus Feet is a very important book, which makes you feel good.

My rating for this book – 4.5/5 – a must-read!

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