The Veena – An Instrument Fit For A Goddess!

indian-goddess-veenaAlthough it may look a bit like a sitar, the Indian veena (or vina) is a unique instrument that dates back at least to 1,500 BCE and has its own distinctive place in Hindustani as well as the Carnatic style South Indian music. A person who plays the veena is known as a vainika.

Mentioned throughout ancient texts such as Bhagavata, the veena is often seen being held by Saraswati, the Hindu patron Goddess of learning and the arts. The Goddess is usually depicted seated on a swan and playing the instrument. In addition to Saraswati, Lord Shiva is also depicted as playing or holding a veena in a form known as a Vinadhara,” meaning “bearer of the vina.”


The modern veena (seen above) has quite a few variations as it evolved throughout various regions and playing styles. Generally, a modern veena is a beautifully constructed plucked stringed instrument that is about four feet in length. It has 7 strings, can be fretted or fretless and has a gourd-like resonator, like the sitar. The vainika plays while seated cross-legged and the instrument is tilted slightly away from the player. The veena can be used to play both classical Indian music or contemporary musical songs or themes.

In addition to the modern veena, there is also an ancient veena which is related to the Burmese harp. Arched harps; like the ancient veena, appeared in the artwork of ancient Egypt and India and were also found widely throughout Southeastern Asia and East Africa.

Links and Resources

SRUTI India Music and Dance Society (Philadelphia, PA USA)

Dhvani – India Performing Arts Society of Central Ohio (USA)

Instruments of India – Kids Mini-Course

Sitar Poster And Coloring Page

Celebrating A Baha’i Holiday -The Birth of Baha’u’llah – With Songs and Crafts

Bell Craft and Video - Birth of Baha'u'llah - Alldonemonkey.comWe are grateful to Leanna from the blog “All Done Monkey” for sharing her thoughts, crafts and a wonderful song from her father that tell us about this special and meaningful holiday.


Every year on November 12, Baha’is around the world celebrate the anniversary of the birth of their religion’s Prophet Founder, Baha’u’llah. Often they gather together to say prayers, read together about His life, and of course – celebrate!

“Baha’u’llah” is an Arabic title that means the “Glory of God,” since Baha’is believe He is the latest in series of Divine Messengers that have taught humanity about God throughout history – Messengers such as Abraham, Krishna, Moses, Zoroaster, the Buddha, Christ, and Muhammad.

Baha’u’llah founded the Baha’i Faith, a major world religion based on the principles of the oneness of humanity, the equality of women and men, the essential harmony of science and religion, the need for spiritual solutions to economic problems, the divine origin of all religions, and the need for world peace.

Though many people of all faiths agree with these principles today, Baha’u’llah advocated them in a time and place in which they were completely alien. He was born in 1817 to a wealthy family in Persia (modern-day Iran) and was known throughout His life for His kindness and generosity. Because of His teachings, Baha’u’llah was stripped of His wealth, jailed in the region’s most notorious prisons, and exiled in tortuous conditions to Baghdad, Constantinople, Adrianople, and finally Akka/Acre (in modern-day Israel).

He died in 1892 and is buried in this final place of exile, which is today a site of pilgrimage for Baha’is all over the world. Nearby Haifa is now the location of the Baha’i international administrative center as well as beautiful gardens visited by thousands of tourists every year.

Every year on November 12, Baha’is gather to remember the remarkable life and Person of Baha’u’llah. It is a time of great celebration and joy. One of my favorite childhood memories of this holiday is of our family all gathered around the piano singing the following song while my mother played (scroll to the end for a video of my father singing this song!)

This song came from the book “Sing A New Song-Baha’i Songs for Children” published in 1968 by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the USA. It seems this songbook is now out of print, though you can find some information about it on this hymnals website. (Unfortunately, the site doesn’t not include information about this song).

Do You Know What We Remember…?

Do you know what we remember, on the twelfth day of November?

We give thanks to the land of Ta [Teheran], for giving us Baha’u’llah!

Ring the bells and sound the horn!

This was the day when He was born! (Ding dong, ding dong!)

Bell Craft and Video - Birth of Baha'u'llah -

So this year to celebrate I decided to make bells with my little Monkey. Not only because of this song, but also because Baha’u’llah referred to Himself as the “Most Great Bell,” ringing out to announce the dawn of a new age for all humanity.

I also thought bells would be an easy symbol for my toddler to grasp, just as the stars we made for the Declaration of the Bab holiday in the spring.

So I pulled out my handy craft foam and got to work. First I made a template out of cardboard (does anyone else have a stash of empty cereals boxes sitting around for craft projects??) and used it to trace a dozen bells out of the craft foam.

Once they were cut out and ready to go, my little Monkey and I sat down to decorate. Suppressing my natural aversion to mess, I let him go crazy with the glitter glue. After all, if you aren’t festive and sparkly on a holiday, then when are you?

It was actually much less messy than I had anticipated. The main issue was that our aesthetics were very different. Namely, his consisted of wanting to squeeze all the glitter glue out in big piles, which I was sure would never dry. I did persuade him to then create designs out of these glops of glitter glue, so in the end we only ended up with one blotch that will be permanently wet.

Bell Craft and Video - Birth of Baha'u'llah -

Nevertheless, we were both pleased with the results. You’ll never guess which of us decorated which!

Bell Craft and Video - Birth of Baha'u'llah -

After they were (almost) all dry, I enlisted my husband’s help in stringing them up over our mantel, using some royal blue embroidery thread. My very handy husband reworked one of our corncob holders in order to make holes small enough for the thread.

Bell Craft and Video - Birth of Baha'u'llah -

I purposely hung the bells up out of my little Monkey’s reach, in the hopes that the bells will last at least until the holiday on November 12th. But I also saved out two just for him, which I taped to the wall above his table and which he is free to touch and play with as much as he wants. (And he has!)

Bell Craft and Video - Birth of Baha'u'llah -

And now for the video! Nothing says love like agreeing to sing a song on video for your daughter’s blog (or agreeing to tape your husband singing the video). Since I was unable to find any recordings of this song to share, I asked my father if he would do the honors for me. He agreed!

Many, many thanks to my dad for singing and my mom for doing the video! I know you will all enjoy this as much as I do! So without further ado, here is my father singing my childhood favorite for the holiday, “Do You Know What We Remember…?”

You can find All Done Monkey (Embracing The Magic In the Madness of Motherhood) at:

More About Ancient Egyptian Music from Popular Children’s Author, Kristin Butcher

Hi, everyone. My name is Kristin Butcher, and before I do anything else, I would like to thank Daria for inviting me to visit her blog. I wrote a book called Pharaohs and Foot Soldiers which is about all the jobs people did in Ancient Egypt. That includes musicians, dancers and singers.

Music was an important aspect of daily life in Ancient Egypt. Not only was it part of religious ceremonies, festivals, and private parties, but it was also used to boost morale and set the work pace in farmers’ fields and craftspeople’s workshops. It was found on battlefields and in tombs too.

Egyptian musicians played drums, bells, flutes, harps, rattles, and trumpets. The sistrum—a sort of metal rattle—was the featured instrument in religious ceremonies. Music was often accompanied by rhythmic clapping, singing, and dancing.

Both men and women were musicians, though only women were permitted to perform in the temples. These priestess musicians held a lofty place in society. Musicians to the Pharaoh and other royalty were also admired by society. Unfortunately singers, dancers, and musicians who entertained at parties and festivals did not share this high status.

Ancient Egyptian musicians didn’t write their music down, and since they lived long before tapes and CD’s, modern people have no way of knowing what their music sounded like. We can only guess.

To find out more about me and my books, please visit my website:

Check out our review of Kristin’s wonderful book – Pharaohs and Foot Soldiers: One Hundred Ancient Egyptian Jobs You Might Have Desired or Dreaded

Read more about the sistrum here:

Color a sistrum:

Get a cool Egyptian mini-poster:

Download Instructions – How To Make a Recycled Sistrum (With a Clothes Hanger)

Download Instructions – How To Make a Natural Sistrum (With a Tree Branch)

The Sistrum – An Instrument That Dates Back To Ancient Egypt

Illustration by Madcow Designs (

Almost every culture in the world has created some form of instrument that will either shake, rattle or roll.  Ancient Egypt is no exception.

If you could travel back in time to the days of the pyramids and pharaohs you might see a special kind of hand-held rattle called a sistrum.  Played mainly by women, it was moved from side to side and the bangles would rock back and forth creating a unique sound and a distinctive rhythm.

What exactly did a sistrum look like?  We’ve created a coloring page based on many of the hieroglyphics and historical data that we’ve found. We’ve also come up with some fun ways that you can make your own sistrum at home.  You can either start with a wire coat hanger or you can take a nature walk and look for a branch shaped like the letter “Y”.  And your bangles?  They can be jingle bells, pop-top tabs, metal washers or even buttons beads or seeds.  Whatever you use, you’re sure to create an amazing sounding instrument that’s both old and new at the same time!

Download – A Sistrum Coloring Page

Download Instructions – How To Make a Recycled Sistrum (With a Clothes Hanger)

Download Instructions – How To Make a Natural Sistrum (With a Tree Branch)