Society

Our top wellness words of 2020, in 14 Indian languages

Ananda (Bliss) Language: Hindi This small and commonly used word is a powerhouse of forces and energy combined. It is the blissful state that indicates good health of both body and mind. Earlier when I served in the Army in insurgent areas, the ability to respond to situations led me and my battalion to this emotional high. Now I run half marathons, often easy in the first 15 kilometres, tough in the next few, with a sense of bliss at the end. This year has been tough and ananda is something we are searching for. - Col Jiten Vadehra (retired), 54; now lives in Lucknow  

Every year, the international media picks a word from a foreign language and talks of its benefit to health. One year it was hygge, a sense of comfort and cosiness in Danish; another year it was cosagach, a Scottic-Gaelic word with a similar meaning. This year, we turn to India’s languages where words have layered meanings and local relevance. We asked people from all walks of life to pick out their words of the year — words that signified physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing.

1. Ananda (Bliss)

Language: Hindi

This small and commonly used word is a powerhouse of forces and energy combined. It is the blissful state that indicates good health of both body and mind. Earlier when I served in the Army in insurgent areas, the ability to respond to situations led me and my battalion to this emotional high. Now I run half marathons, often easy in the first 15 kilometres, tough in the next few, with a sense of bliss at the end. This year has been tough and ananda is something we are searching for.

- Jiten Vadehra, 54; now lives in Lucknow; ex-Army Colonel

Vizhippunarvu (To awaken and become aware) Language: Tamil
This year has been a rude awakening and realisation on many fronts. Firstly, in understanding our personal responsibility for exercising healthy practices that ensure the safety of both ourselves and those around us. The impact of this pandemic is not only physical, but is also on the mental wellbeing of individuals, families, and society at large, especially for certain communities for whom support structures are weak or non-existent, such as migrant workers and artistes.
- Vikram Raghavan, 35, from from Chennai; Carnatic musician

Vizhippunarvu (To awaken and become aware) Language: Tamil This year has been a rude awakening and realisation on many fronts. Firstly, in understanding our personal responsibility for exercising healthy practices that ensure the safety of both ourselves and those around us. The impact of this pandemic is not only physical, but is also on the mental wellbeing of individuals, families, and society at large, especially for certain communities for whom support structures are weak or non-existent, such as migrant workers and artistes. - Vikram Raghavan, 35, from from Chennai; Carnatic musician  

2. Vizhippunarvu (To awaken and become aware)

Language: Tamil

This year has been a rude awakening and realisation on many fronts. Firstly, in understanding our personal responsibility for exercising healthy practices that ensure the safety of both ourselves and those around us. The impact of this pandemic is not only physical, but is also on the mental wellbeing of individuals, families, and society at large, especially for certain communities for whom support structures are weak or non-existent, such as migrant workers and artistes.

- Vikram Raghavan, 35, from from Chennai; Carnatic musician

Jaagratha (Caution, alertness)
Language: Malayalam
Earlier my routine included hanging out with friends and going out for dinner with my family. All this stopped early this year. Masks, sanitisers, and gloves became the norm. I think twice even before going to go the grocery store. The thought that I should be safe and keep my family safe always runs through my mind. It is almost like a mantra. - Dane Xan Alex, 29, from Kottayam, Kerala; now lives in Sydney; works as an engineer

Jaagratha (Caution, alertness) Language: Malayalam Earlier my routine included hanging out with friends and going out for dinner with my family. All this stopped early this year. Masks, sanitisers, and gloves became the norm. I think twice even before going to go the grocery store. The thought that I should be safe and keep my family safe always runs through my mind. It is almost like a mantra. - Dane Xan Alex, 29, from Kottayam, Kerala; now lives in Sydney; works as an engineer  

3. Jaagratha (Caution, alertness)

Language: Malayalam

Earlier my routine included hanging out with friends and going out for dinner with my family. All this stopped early this year. Masks, sanitisers, and gloves became the norm. I think twice even before going to go the grocery store. The thought that I should be safe and keep my family safe always runs through my mind. It is almost like a mantra.

- Dane Xan Alex, 29, from Kottayam, Kerala; now lives in Sydney; works as an engineer

Saamarasyam (Harmony, concord)
Language: Telugu
I am grateful that the pandemic brought my family together but to be honest, I was not used to living with my daughters as fully grown adults. This year, I learnt the importance of accepting that your children can be different in their habits and philosophies. And to live together in peace, we have to understand each other’s perspectives on things and accept our differences. - A Annapurna, 50, Vizag, Andhra Pradesh, now lives in Dehradun; homemaker

Saamarasyam (Harmony, concord) Language: Telugu I am grateful that the pandemic brought my family together but to be honest, I was not used to living with my daughters as fully grown adults. This year, I learnt the importance of accepting that your children can be different in their habits and philosophies. And to live together in peace, we have to understand each other’s perspectives on things and accept our differences. - A Annapurna, 50, Vizag, Andhra Pradesh, now lives in Dehradun; homemaker  

4. Saamarasyam (Harmony, concord)

Language: Telugu

I am grateful that the pandemic brought my family together but to be honest, I was not used to living with my daughters as fully grown adults. This year, I learnt the importance of accepting that your children can be different in their habits and philosophies. And to live together in peace, we have to understand each other’s perspectives on things and accept our differences.

A Annapurna, 50, Vizag, Andhra Pradesh, now lives in Dehradun; homemaker

Swayam araikey (Choosing oneself or self care)
Language: Kannada
Before the pandemic struck, I used to work in Bengaluru as a speech therapist. My day used to start early with classes for my students and therapy sessions for my patients . I absolutely loved being that busy. I had some health issues (thyroid and back pain) but didn’t actively care much about it. Then a few months ago, I consulted my doctor, and he advised me to change my lifestyle completely. What he said echoed with me: “It’s not the thyroid you need to worry about, it’s all the other problems that will follow it.” So now I focus on my health, which I never got the time to do, before. I have planned out my exercise routine, yoga, daily walks, and I feel amazing. - Shruthi Padmashali, 27, from Mangaluru, Karnataka; speech therapist

Swayam araikey (Choosing oneself or self care) Language: Kannada Before the pandemic struck, I used to work in Bengaluru as a speech therapist. My day used to start early with classes for my students and therapy sessions for my patients . I absolutely loved being that busy. I had some health issues (thyroid and back pain) but didn’t actively care much about it. Then a few months ago, I consulted my doctor, and he advised me to change my lifestyle completely. What he said echoed with me: “It’s not the thyroid you need to worry about, it’s all the other problems that will follow it.” So now I focus on my health, which I never got the time to do, before. I have planned out my exercise routine, yoga, daily walks, and I feel amazing. - Shruthi Padmashali, 27, from Mangaluru, Karnataka; speech therapist  

5. Swayam araikey (Choosing oneself or self care)

Language: Kannada

Before the pandemic struck, I used to work in Bengaluru as a speech therapist. My day used to start early with classes for my students and therapy sessions for my patients . I absolutely loved being that busy. I had some health issues (thyroid and back pain) but didn’t actively care much about it. Then a few months ago, I consulted my doctor, and he advised me to change my lifestyle completely. What he said echoed with me: “It’s not the thyroid you need to worry about, it’s all the other problems that will follow it.” So now I focus on my health, which I never got the time to do, before. I have planned out my exercise routine, yoga, daily walks, and I feel amazing.

- Shruthi Padmashali, 27, from Mangaluru, Karnataka; speech therapist

That-thati (Fresh, crisp)
Language: Konkani
The colloquial word is usually used in the context of a crisp fresh salad or fruit, and sometimes loosely used for someone who looks that way after a good night’s rest or a bath. I am a coordinator of an informal group Healthy Food Bank that has farmers and families who buy from them, and I am thankful that through much of the lockdown we had fresh, chemical-free produce throughout. The farmers follow Subhash Palekar’s philosophy of natural farming. This year has taught us to think of health holistically, so we are better able to tide through these times.
- Deepa Sirur, 46, from Byndoor, Karnataka; now lives in Pune; yoga trainer

That-thati (Fresh, crisp) Language: Konkani The colloquial word is usually used in the context of a crisp fresh salad or fruit, and sometimes loosely used for someone who looks that way after a good night’s rest or a bath. I am a coordinator of an informal group Healthy Food Bank that has farmers and families who buy from them, and I am thankful that through much of the lockdown we had fresh, chemical-free produce throughout. The farmers follow Subhash Palekar’s philosophy of natural farming. This year has taught us to think of health holistically, so we are better able to tide through these times. - Deepa Sirur, 46, from Byndoor, Karnataka; now lives in Pune; yoga trainer  

6. That-thati (Fresh, crisp)

Language: Konkani

The colloquial word is usually used in the context of a crisp fresh salad or fruit, and sometimes loosely used for someone who looks that way after a good night’s rest or a bath. I am a coordinator of an informal group Healthy Food Bank that has farmers and families who buy from them, and I am thankful that through much of the lockdown we had fresh, chemical-free produce throughout. The farmers follow Subhash Palekar’s philosophy of natural farming. This year has taught us to think of health holistically, so we are better able to tide through these times.

- Deepa Sirur, 46, from Byndoor, Karnataka; now lives in Pune; yoga trainer

Sehatyaab (In good health)
Language: Kashmiri
This is a greeting we begin and end any conversation with. Kashmiri Muslims use this word while the equivalent word used by Kashmiri Pandits is orzuv (or means good, and zuv is health). I developed asthma after shifting to Delhi and four months ago also contracted a mild coronavirus infection. Though I am in the high risk category, thankfully my lungs were not impacted. The word is a blessing, a wish, a hope. - Aarti Dhar, 52, from Srinagar, now lives in Delhi; public health commentator

Sehatyaab (In good health) Language: Kashmiri This is a greeting we begin and end any conversation with. Kashmiri Muslims use this word while the equivalent word used by Kashmiri Pandits is orzuv (or means good, and zuv is health). I developed asthma after shifting to Delhi and four months ago also contracted a mild coronavirus infection. Though I am in the high risk category, thankfully my lungs were not impacted. The word is a blessing, a wish, a hope. - Aarti Dhar, 52, from Srinagar, now lives in Delhi; public health commentator  

7. Sehatyaab (In good health)

Language: Kashmiri

This is a greeting we begin and end any conversation with. Kashmiri Muslims use this word while the equivalent word used by Kashmiri Pandits is orzuv (or means good, and zuv is health). I developed asthma after shifting to Delhi and four months ago also contracted a mild coronavirus infection. Though I am in the high risk category, thankfully my lungs were not impacted. The word is a blessing, a wish, a hope.

- Aarti Dhar, 52, from Srinagar, now lives in Delhi; public health commentator

Ralmil (Togetherness)
Language: Punjabi
There is something very lyrical about this word. Whether we are fighting COVID-19 now or any other crisis, it is the very essence of togetherness that helps us beat the odds. I am also fascinated by a very close-knit clan called Ralmil. They are the Jats in Punjab... farmers, whose ethos of life and living is unity and togetherness.
- Renu Rangela Taneja, 55, from Delhi; media consultant

Ralmil (Togetherness) Language: Punjabi There is something very lyrical about this word. Whether we are fighting COVID-19 now or any other crisis, it is the very essence of togetherness that helps us beat the odds. I am also fascinated by a very close-knit clan called Ralmil. They are the Jats in Punjab... farmers, whose ethos of life and living is unity and togetherness. - Renu Rangela Taneja, 55, from Delhi; media consultant  

8. Ralmil (Togetherness)

Language: Punjabi

There is something very lyrical about this word. Whether we are fighting COVID-19 now or any other crisis, it is the very essence of togetherness that helps us beat the odds. I am also fascinated by a very close-knit clan called Ralmil. They are the Jats in Punjab... farmers, whose ethos of life and living is unity and togetherness.

- Renu Rangela Taneja 55, from Delhi; media consultant

Patthi (Immense inner strength of the feminine)
Language: Sindhi
When people ask me how I will manage something, I say, I am ‘andar ki patthi’. It is a word used for women to talk about their inner strength. Women have to handle things on so many fronts, and it’s a word that’s apt for the times, considering the attrition rate during the pandemic that has affected even those women who didn’t have jobs outside of the home.
- Bhakti Durgani, 43, from Chennai; now lives in Mumbai; homemaker

Patthi (Immense inner strength of the feminine) Language: Sindhi When people ask me how I will manage something, I say, I am ‘andar ki patthi’. It is a word used for women to talk about their inner strength. Women have to handle things on so many fronts, and it’s a word that’s apt for the times, considering the attrition rate during the pandemic that has affected even those women who didn’t have jobs outside of the home. - Bhakti Durgani, 43, from Chennai; now lives in Mumbai; homemaker  

9. Patthi (Immense inner strength of the feminine)

Language: Sindhi

When people ask me how I will manage something, I say, I am ‘andar ki patthi’. It is a word used for women to talk about their inner strength. Women have to handle things on so many fronts, and it’s a word that’s apt for the times, considering the attrition rate during the pandemic that has affected even those women who didn’t have jobs outside of the home.

- Bhakti Durgani, 43, from Chennai; now lives in Mumbai; homemaker

Xewali (Night jasmine)
Language: Bodo
The smell of the Xewali reminds me of the coming of winter, because the flower begins blooming in autumn. I am reminded of the sight of the lawn in the morning, the colours of white and orange on the ground. Every six months or so, a handful the leaves of the Xewali plant are put into banana leaf and left on a wood fire until the outer leaf is blackened. The Xewali leaves are then taken out, left to cool and soften, its juice extracted to cleanse the system of worms.
- Padumi Boro, 49, from Tamulpur, Assam; now lives in Guwahati; caregiver

Xewali (Night jasmine) Language: Bodo The smell of the Xewali reminds me of the coming of winter, because the flower begins blooming in autumn. I am reminded of the sight of the lawn in the morning, the colours of white and orange on the ground. Every six months or so, a handful the leaves of the Xewali plant are put into banana leaf and left on a wood fire until the outer leaf is blackened. The Xewali leaves are then taken out, left to cool and soften, its juice extracted to cleanse the system of worms. - Padumi Boro, 49, from Tamulpur, Assam; now lives in Guwahati; caregiver  

10. Xewali (Night jasmine)

Language: Bodo

The smell of the Xewali reminds me of the coming of winter, because the flower begins blooming in autumn. I am reminded of the sight of the lawn in the morning, the colours of white and orange on the ground. Every six months or so, a handful the leaves of the Xewali plant are put into banana leaf and left on a wood fire until the outer leaf is blackened. The Xewali leaves are then taken out, left to cool and soften, its juice extracted to cleanse the system of worms.

- Padumi Boro, 49, from Tamulpur, Assam; now lives in Guwahati; caregiver

Aasha (Hope)
Language: Bengali
If there was no hope, we would die every day. Hope helps us to live on. Last week a dear friend succumbed to COVID-19 and in the last few months, I have received the news of death of many known to me. Moments of sadness overpower me and yet something makes me believe that the tiny virus which is holding mankind to ransom today will give up soon.
- Apurba Kumar Basu, 73, from Kolkata, now lives in Pune; retired government employee

Aasha (Hope) Language: Bengali If there was no hope, we would die every day. Hope helps us to live on. Last week a dear friend succumbed to COVID-19 and in the last few months, I have received the news of death of many known to me. Moments of sadness overpower me and yet something makes me believe that the tiny virus which is holding mankind to ransom today will give up soon. - Apurba Kumar Basu, 73, from Kolkata, now lives in Pune; retired government employee  

11. Aasha (Hope)

Language: Bengali

If there was no hope, we would die every day. Hope helps us to live on. Last week a dear friend succumbed to COVID-19 and in the last few months, I have received the news of death of many known to me. Moments of sadness overpower me and yet something makes me believe that the tiny virus which is holding mankind to ransom today will give up soon.

- Apurba Kumar Basu, 73, from Kolkata, now lives in Pune; retired government employee

Swabalamban (Self-reliant)
Language: Odia
The year was turbulent, not only because of COVID-19 but also because I developed serious health issues. Now I am on my road to recovery, with last round of treatment left. I have not told my parents about my illness, as I do not want them to worry. With my willpower, I have adapted to a lifestyle that combines nutrition, exercise, yoga and positivity of mind, along with medicines.
- Dushyant Meher, 45, from Sambalpur, Odisha; now lives in Delhi; social development consultant

Swabalamban (Self-reliant) Language: Odia The year was turbulent, not only because of COVID-19 but also because I developed serious health issues. Now I am on my road to recovery, with last round of treatment left. I have not told my parents about my illness, as I do not want them to worry. With my willpower, I have adapted to a lifestyle that combines nutrition, exercise, yoga and positivity of mind, along with medicines. - Dushyant Meher, 45, from Sambalpur, Odisha; now lives in Delhi; social development consultant  

12. Swabalamban (Self-reliant)

Language: Odia

The year was turbulent, not only because of COVID-19 but also because I developed serious health issues. Now I am on my road to recovery, with last round of treatment left. I have not told my parents about my illness, as I do not want them to worry. With my willpower, I have adapted to a lifestyle that combines nutrition, exercise, yoga and positivity of mind, along with medicines.

- Dushyant Meher, 45, from Sambalpur, Odisha; now lives in Delhi; social development consultant

Saachvo (Save)
Language: Gujarati
As human beings we have a natural tendency to save ourselves from any harm or danger, but this year has taught us to be extra careful to keep not only our health safe but that of others. I have 150 staff dependent on my textiles business and I had to take care of them even though our shops were closed for five months. I retained all the employees on 50% salary and full Diwali bonus. Saving so many jobs has earned us so much goodwill that I feel overwhelmed now. Their blessings kept us going when my entire family contracted COVID-19.
- Amar Vora, 40, from Mundra, Gujarat, lives in Madurai; businessman

Saachvo (Save) Language: Gujarati As human beings we have a natural tendency to save ourselves from any harm or danger, but this year has taught us to be extra careful to keep not only our health safe but that of others. I have 150 staff dependent on my textiles business and I had to take care of them even though our shops were closed for five months. I retained all the employees on 50% salary and full Diwali bonus. Saving so many jobs has earned us so much goodwill that I feel overwhelmed now. Their blessings kept us going when my entire family contracted COVID-19. - Amar Vora, 40, from Mundra, Gujarat, lives in Madurai; businessman  

13. Saachvo (Save)

Language: Gujarati

As human beings we have a natural tendency to save ourselves from any harm or danger, but this year has taught us to be extra careful to keep not only our health safe but that of others. I have 150 staff dependent on my textiles business and I had to take care of them even though our shops were closed for five months. I retained all the employees on 50% salary and full Diwali bonus. Saving so many jobs has earned us so much goodwill that I feel overwhelmed now. Their blessings kept us going when my entire family contracted COVID-19.

- Amar Vora, 40, from Mundra, Gujarat, lives in Madurai; businessman

Kantala and Chaha (Boredom and Tea)
Language: Marathi
These two words go hand in hand. We call my grandparents and the conversation goes like this: we tell them we are bored, they tell us they are bored; then we say bye. This year has been about finding all possible ways to avoid kanatala. One of them involves drinking strong ginger tea. My mother offers to make a cup for me every afternoon. I refuse every day, but she asks nonetheless, and it is quite uplifting. This year, I have been speaking more Marathi than ever in my adult life. But there are still words I don’t know. For example, if you ask my mother, the word of the year is las, meaning vaccine.
- Manali Jamgaokar, 27, from Mumbai; now lives in Vizag, Andhra Pradesh; architect

Kantala and Chaha (Boredom and Tea) Language: Marathi These two words go hand in hand. We call my grandparents and the conversation goes like this: we tell them we are bored, they tell us they are bored; then we say bye. This year has been about finding all possible ways to avoid kanatala. One of them involves drinking strong ginger tea. My mother offers to make a cup for me every afternoon. I refuse every day, but she asks nonetheless, and it is quite uplifting. This year, I have been speaking more Marathi than ever in my adult life. But there are still words I don’t know. For example, if you ask my mother, the word of the year is las, meaning vaccine. - Manali Jamgaokar, 27, from Mumbai; now lives in Vizag, Andhra Pradesh; architect  

14. Kantala and Chaha (Boredom and Tea)

Language: Marathi

These two words go hand in hand. We call my grandparents and the conversation goes like this: we tell them we are bored, they tell us they are bored; then we say bye. This year has been about finding all possible ways to avoid kanatala. One of them involves drinking strong ginger tea. My mother offers to make a cup for me every afternoon. I refuse every day, but she asks nonetheless, and it is quite uplifting. This year, I have been speaking more Marathi than ever in my adult life. But there are still words I don’t know. For example, if you ask my mother, the word of the year is las, meaning vaccine.

- Manali Jamgaokar, 27, from Mumbai; now lives in Vizag, Andhra Pradesh; architect

- With inputs from Sunalini Mathew, Susan Joe Philip, and Srishti B Dutta

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2021 3:56:19 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/14-indian-words-of-the-year-in-health-and-wellness-2020/article33338353.ece1

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