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Happy 2013 to our KeSARI readers!

To start off the year right, we wanted to get some great insider beauty scoop because, face it, what girl doesn’t want to revamp their beauty regime and kick off 2013 with flawless skin and a new look? We got a chance to catch up with the amazingly talented celebrity makeup artist, Andrew Sotomayor and pick his brain about makeup and his inspiration for looks. We love his inspiring advice and thoughtful answers to our questions- check out our interview with him below and make sure to follow him on Twitter for great tips @AndrewSotomayor! P.S. thanks for the shoutout to our KeSARI Indian Clay Masque, Andrew!

What do you love most about being a MAKEUP ARTIST?

It's hard to choose what I love most about being a makeup artist. When I was a kid, the new box of Crayola markers was the single best thing about the first day of school. Today, I love that my job involves working with color every day. At the same time, I've had the chance to work with some of the most interesting women in the world, and I'll never forget the conversations I've had with them. As a former theater person, listening to Anne Hathaway, Juliette Binoche, or Christine Baranski talk about acting technique is a moment when you're filled with gratitude that your career allows you such an experience.

Where do you draw inspiration for your looks?

My makeup is meant to be lived in, so I most often draw inspiration from my clients. They may be going to a premiere, a gala, or TV appearance. I like makeup to reflect the vibrant personality or quiet sensibility of the woman who wears it. In the more practical sense, makeup is an accessory. A matte red lip adds rock and roll confidence to a simple black outfit, while pairing a white shirt and dark denim with a shimmery beige eyelid is reminiscent of an afternoon of shopping in Beverly Hills.

How would you describe your personal style of makeup?

I like to give my clients makeup that is current and makes them look their most beautiful. Everyone's complexion looks better with just the slightest highlighting and contouring, while warm shades of taupe, espresso, and ivory on the eyes can be dressed up or down. That said, I have a pretty fierce arsenal of pop colors for when the time is right!

What would you characterize as your biggest accomplishment?

One of my biggest heroes in beauty is celebrity makeup artist Sam Fine, (who assisted Kevyn Aucoin early in his career). Sam was asked about what his biggest accomplishment is and after everything he's done, he said he still hasn't achieved it yet. When you're a creative person, and you are building a career, you always want to keep working, keep improving, and keep seeking out moments that take your breath away. One of my grandfathers was a Mexican immigrant construction worker and the other a rancher in Tucson. They worked hard all their lives, but were proud of whatever their kids and I accomplished so that drives me to do the best I can, and keep at it.

What are some beauty tips you have to starting off the New Year right?

Wearing the same colors for too long means a missed opportunity. No matter what your budget, a modern, fresh face of makeup is the easiest way to stay fashion forward. A makeup look lasts only a day, so why not try something new? Always take care of your skin, and read the labels to really understand what you're using. I like the KeSARI Beauty Pore Minimizing Indian Clay Masque because of the kaolin which absorbs impurities without the aggressive ingredients that can overly dry out skin or create sensitivity. If a product isn't working for you, change it, and remember that a good diet, with lots of organic food keeps you healthy inside and out.

What are some of the biggest makeup sins that you think women tend to commit?

Keeping products too long! If you can't remember when you bought it, or the packaging looks old, then you know the makeup is too!

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Shout-out to our film critics! In case you missed the happenings of the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF), which took place December 9-16, this recap is for you! DIFF is regarded for being the leading film festival across the Middle East, Asia and Africa. The festival serves as an influential platform for Arab filmmakers and talent at an international level, and has ever since its inception in 2004. Year after year, DIFF has been a frontrunner in promoting better cultural understanding through creative achievements in film. The event prides itself on bridging cultures and meeting minds. The ceremony can be viewed in its entirety and enjoyed here, (although lengthy; the introduction is totally worth watching!).

Due to the overwhelming response from the voting public, this year’s DIFF encountered a unique face-off in which there was a tie for the Dubai Expo 2020 People’s Choice Award. Two films stole the show and walked away with an award for best film, those being Bekas, directed by Karzan Kader from Sweden, and Ernest & Clementine, directed by two French men- Benjamin Renner and Vincent Patar.

DIFF has been remarkable in terms of advertising and highlighting India’s cinematic and cultural scene. It will truly be exciting looking ahead at what the festival will have in store for its monumental 10th edition in 2013.

Below, check out the image from JustJared.com of one of KeSARI’s favorite ladies, DIFF attendee Freida Pinto, who looked radiant in gold on the red carpet.

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The five-day celebration of Diwali, which commenced last Monday, November 12th is celebrated by individuals around the globe. It is described as “the event of the year” not only for those residing in India, but also for those residing in Indian communities around the world. The Diwali celebrations continued this past weekend at Miami University (the real Miami) located in Oxford, Ohio. Miami’s campus has a very strong Indian community reflected by the number of member in the Indian Student Association (ISA). Every year the association recognizes the nationally celebrated festival by combining creative minds for campus performances characteristic of their roots.

As an historical aside, Diwali is the term used for the festival by those celebrating in North-India whereas in South-India it is called Deepavali. The Festival Of Lights is a cultural and religious representation of the victory of Good over Evil and Light over Darkness. The exact date that the festival commences every year varies due to the Luni-Solar calendar and is said to fall on Ashvina Amavasya- the lunar day of the new moon. The festival holds strong significance because it marks the beginning of the Hindu New Year. The following is a breakdown of what is commemorated on each of the five days:

Day 1, Dhanteras: It is the thirteenth lunar day of Krishna Paksh, the dark forthnight of the month of Kartik. On this momentous day, Lord Dhanwantari came out of the ocean with Ayurvedic for mankind.

Day 2, Choti Diwali: On this significant day Lord Krishna destroyed the demon Narakasur and freed the world from fear.

Day 3, Lakshmi Puja on Diwali: This is the actual day of Diwali, and on this day those who celebrate visit their temple and give thanks and praise to mother Lakshmi, the notorious Goddess of beauty, wealth and wisdom. She is prayed to in efforts to achieve the wealth and prosperity.

Day 4, Padwa & Govardhan Puja: This day is renowned as the day that Krishna defeated Lord Indra, the god of rain and the heavens. Since he lifted Mount Govardhana to save people's life from the imminent floods, Day 4 is when people particularly feast on “mountains” of food.

Day 5, Bhai Duj (occurs typically two days after the actual day of Diwali): This is the final day of Diwali. Day 5 is reserved for siblings to strengthen their relations thanks to the example that historically significant figure Yama, the God of Death. During the Vedic era, Yama visited his sister Yamuna and during his stay provided her with a Vardhan (a boon), which served a function to liberate those who paid her visits from her sings. This final day of Diwali is one in which siblings pray for each other’s wellbeing and safety.

The main form in which families recognize Diwali is by eating (my kind of family gathering!). Hence why the festival has also been referred to as, The "Festival of Sweets, Gifts, Fireworks and Firecrackers". As a nation, during this celebration, Indians make a pact to overcome darkness and celebrate the triumphs of "good over the evil with the light of Diyas (candles in little bowls that burn oil), with good faith, prayers to Lakshmi and Ganesh, and offerings to Gods and Goddesses” with the joyful happiness and warmth of their hearts, families and close relatives and friends.

That exact joyfulness and happiness were exuded on stage during Miami’s very own double Diwali feature. The official title of the show was “My Big Fat Indian Wedding” playing off of the plot from the comedy “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”. This theme of love and struggle with events leading up to a wedding was selected as the basis of the show because Indian weddings are notorious for being colorful, energetic, and regarded a highly important element in their culture. This particular marriage happened to be an interracial one (as seen in the trailer), serving to connect to real experiences young Indian women living in America face in balancing the values of their traditional Indian heritage with the norms of American society. “My Big Fat Indian Wedding” reflects how lovebirds Maya and Aaron navigate dating and ultimately marriage and their decision to strongly incorporate Maya's traditional Indian upbringing. Spectators raved, “It was a hilarious performance that highlighted all the traditional characters present at weddings - awkward suitors, gossiping aunties, and a plethora of difficult to understand accents”. All in all, the event was truly an amazing multicultural show that represented the scope of students at Miami! The official trailer for their stunning and colorful performance can be seen here.

In fact, all of Miami University’s Indian Student Association’s (ISA’s) videos of every dance from Classical, to Bollywood, to Raas can be seen here on their YouTube channel, http://www.youtube.com/user/sjetty61. Given the success of this event, witnessed by parents, students, and faculty alike, Miami’s ISA is clearly continuing to expand traditional boundaries through its participation of students from a variety of cultures. President of Miami’s ISA, Alicia Gresla, comments, “ISA is place for students to find a family away from home. We are all close friends who share similar values and cultural traditions, and enjoy spending time with each other. The feeling of diversity and acceptance is something I'm proud to say ISA fosters on Miami's campus”.

We know you’ve all been waiting for a dose of beauty in this article, and here it is! When we asked the president herself what Indian beauty products are important to her and which are ones she frequently uses she said, “Long luscious hair is always a big focus of Indian beauty, and my mom taught me to massage coconut oil into my scalp and roots to boost hair growth and shine” (take note ladies!). Miami’s ISA has already begun churning the wheel with fresh ideas for their celebration of Holi in the spring and next year’s Diwali, all events which highlight the vibrant and colorful culture that India embodies!

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When we think of Rachel Roy, her beautiful, dark tresses (that we are majorly envious of) instantly come to mind, as does her appeal to global fashionista’s such as Freida Pinto. In an exclusive interview with Elle.com, we learn more about what inspires the ravishing Rachel Roy. Before launching her own brand in 2005, Rachel was a stylist for magazines and music videos. Today, her attention to details makes her collections extremely renowned and successful time and time again. All of India should be prepared for a fashion invasion like they’ve never seen because in the future. One of the ways Rachel would like to globally expand her brand is by opening a store in India. Of that dream she says, “Since I'm half-Indian, it's always been something that's really important to me.” Throughout the interview post NYFW, Rachel continued to discuss pieces from her Spring 2013 collection, but our favorite quote was about shoes. She said, “If you're in a hurry and need to tell a story about yourself, I think the quickest way to do it is with your shoes.” Thank you Rachel for justifying our shoe binges!

Creating recent buzz is her Eastern-inspired collection with physician and writer Deepak Chopra. Together, they crafted a limited edition clothes and accessories line, which showcases jewelry and tees with quotes from Chopra that elude feelings of balance and strength. Deepak’s favorite piece is the sword necklace that reads, “Keep stillness inside of you.” However, a personal KeSARI fave is the Star Hand Chain, seen here.

We admire their collaboration not only for its unique charm, but also because 25% of the proceeds benefit The Chopra Foundation, “dedicated to improving health and well-being, cultivating spiritual knowledge, expanding consciousness, and promoting world peace to all members of the human family.” The duo’s creative common vision is inspiring and we can’t wait to see what Rachel has up her colorful sleeve next!

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We know what you’re thinking readers, but we assure you this article is not KeSARI Beauty’s attempt at making a pun about the “50 Shades of Grey” trilogy. Instead, “50 Shades of Sari” is an exclusive Vogue India editorial featured in a spread from the October 2012 Fifth Anniversary Issue. Five covers were made in honor of the anniversary in which five of Bollywood’s top actresses effortlessly graced the covers. The likes of Priyanka Chopa in a Bibhu Mohapatra gold and black floor length dress, Deepika Padukone in a multi-colored Manish Arora dazzler, Sonam Kapoor in Naeem Khan black beaded and feathered gown, Katrina Kaif in an elegant white Prabal Gurung stunner, and Anushka Sharma in a fabulous Ashish mini with a matching vest all collectively made a big statement on the newsstands. We highly suggest that you check out this sexy phenomena styled by Aaditya Walia in which 50 Indian designers provide 50 interpretations of the black sari- a timeless staple and “highlight in a woman’s wardrobe” whose roots lie in India! Vogue India’s modern spin on the classic, elegant, and necessary black Sari can be viewed here.

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Although Diwali, also known as the “Festival of Lights”, takes place on November 13th, the festivities are beginning early in New York this weekend. To kick off the celebration of the biggest festival on the Hindu calendar, The Roger Smith Hotel is hosting a Diwali Gift Fair on Sunday from 1pm-5pm. At the hotel, located at 501 Lexington Avenue, brands such as 3 Bees Paperie (the host), Dagmar Jewelry NY, Divine NY & Co., Kahani, Nirman Creations, Ode Kids, and Sweet Silk Confections will all be showcasing their products. If you’re in town for the weekend, start your Christmas shopping early at this one of a kind cultural event complete with modern South-Asian inspired goodies.

For more information on what you can expect to feast your eyes on and damage your bank accounts with, refer to this vendor list.

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There’s no doubt that Priyanka Chopra is a talented actress, and not to mention a drop-dead gorgeous one! For those of you who aren’t familiar with this triple-threat, she earned the title of Miss India and Miss World in 2000 prior to her acting career. Most recently, she has taken up a singing career and has been wowing fans with her killer set of vocal chords. Her recent track with Will.I.Am, “In My City,” is beyond catchy (we’ve definitely had it on repeat in our office) as she sings “You ain’t never had a party, till you come to a party in my city”. This song chronicles her journey from being a small town girl in India to a familiar face on the Bollywood screens. Not only is this showstopper to be celebrated for her debut single, but she is to be also for her role in the unique film Barfi!. In this film, Priyanka plays the role of an autistic girl, Jhilmil. Of the challenging role she says, "Whichever role is the toughest, bring it to me, I'll do it." She is a talent to be reckoned with, that’s for sure! The highly anticipated release of the film, directed by Anurag Basu, occurred on September 14th.

The music in this film has been applauded for being “simple” and “flawless,” and the following song Kyon from the film exhibits just that. Take a listen to see what fans are buzzing about.

The incredibly moving narrative depicts a deaf and mute young man, Murphy’s (nicknamed Barfi) played by famed actor Ranbir Kapoor, and an autistic girl, Jhilmil’s (Priyanka Chopra) journey from childhood friends to lovers. The film itself is representative of the type of out-of-the-box content that the Hindi film industry has been experimenting with as of late, but overall the film is a celebration of life.

In recent news, Barfi was screened at the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) on October 11th and next on it’s gypsetting agenda is the Marrakech festival in Morocco, which will take place November 30th through December 8th. At the 10-day BIFF, in South Korea, a total of 304 films were shown. Of those films, Barfi! was one of the few to receive a standing ovation! In an article by The Economic Times, Barfi! is praised as, “'visually' stunning, 'smells' of freshness in every frame, 'touches' your heart every second and is so 'tastefully' treated that its excellence 'speaks' for itself. With that being said, who knows, an Academy Award may very well go to the moving love story Barfi!, selected as India’s official entry for Best Foreign Language Film category for the 2013 Academy Awards!

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Calling all Spaholics! This week, it’s time to forget about solely spending one day of pampering at the spa, and instead try a whole week! Spa Week in New York City is an amazing initiative that kicked off in 2004 and was created by a team of individuals cognoscente of the high stress and demands of every day life. Thanks to Spa Week Media Group, Ltd. a whole week of irresistible services are discounted to $50 at different participating luxury spas around New York (there are over 80 this year). We were fortunate enough to catch up with Kelly Verdi, Spa Week Media Group’s Marketing and Public Relations manager as she was preparing for the big week, which kicks off today and lasts through Sunday, October 21st. She gave us the inside scoop on what’s new about Spa Week this year as well as her suggestions and at-home tips for reducing stress. Her responses have us geared up for a relaxing, rejuvenating, and beautifying week!

KB: What is different about this fall’s Spa Week compared to last year’s?

KV: This Spa Week, we have two services on the menu that have never been offered before. The Adrift Float Spa in Dallas, TX is participating for the very first time and is offering some very unique and contemporary services. You can view their Spa Week offerings here.

Also new to Spa Week, Smooth Synergy in NYC will offer a treatment that is brand new to the United States. It’s called the SQOOM Facial Lift Treatment, and was recently featured on our blog and WPIX11 news.

KB: What are your top suggestions for de-stressing during or after a long day at the office?

KV: Definitely exercise. It’s important to get up and walk around or take a time-out to stretch during the day. After an extra long or stressful day, I like to relax at home with a facemask, or take a bath with aromatherapy oils. If I’m ever in need of some serious relaxation, a 10-minute chair massage or reflexology usually does the trick!

KB: The popular healing therapy, Ayurveda, seems very appealing. Can you describe what is involved with the treatment/your experience of it?

KV: Ayurveda is a form of alternative medicine and has become very popular among a lot of spas and wellness practices. It relies solely upon herbs, diet and one's overall lifestyle.

KB: What is in store for Spa Week this spring?

KV: We’re so excited getting the word out about Spa Week Fall 2012 that it’s still a little too early for us to say what will be in store this spring, but there’s no doubt that it will be spectacular!

After speaking with Kelly, we are dying to check out the Ayurvedic treatments available at New York Ayurveda on 154 West 14th Street (one of the only Ayurvedic wellness centers located on the East Coast!). They offer a 60-minute Aroma-Abhayanga Ayurvedic Massage with herbal oils, which sounds all too appealing and a valid reason to call off work. After all, “Spa visits improve overall health in many ways, from the physical to psychological, but perhaps the most important is that they provide the tools for long-term prevention”. A complete list of the Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, and Westchester spas featuring steals this upcoming week such as the aforementioned and others at the Exhale Mind Body Spa and Red Door Spa on Fifth Avenue (plus many more) can be accessed here.

If you can’t fit the time in your schedules to experience the healing benefits of this week’s spa and wellness services, but like us, are craving an Ayurvedic treatment, we’ve got an alternative for you! While the actual treatment eases the body and soul, you could always try our Pore Minimizing Indian Clay Masque, which has strong nodes of saffron (amongst other herbal extracts), a common ingredient in Ayurvedic treatments, as an at-home substitute.

Happy 17th bi-annual Spa Week beauty lovers and friends!

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A five-day long celebration, India Bridal Fashion Week is one of India’s primary fashion events. It is a highly important celebration, because of the occasion it recognizes: the Indian wedding, which holds utmost value in the country. It truly is a unique week of shows dedicated to bridal couture. This even brought out the likes of Bipasha Basu, who walked for designers Anjaless and Argun on Day 3 of India Bridal Fashion Week, taking place in Mumbai at the chic Hotel Grand Hyatt Exhibition Ground. Here, the energy was at an all-time high during this third season, which came to a close on Monday, September 17th. With soft waves and smoky eyes, Basu inarguably stole the show in a multi-layered velvet and brocade outfit with a bejeweled maang tikka (ornate veil). Bipasha was accompanied by other elegant Bollywood beauties such as Sonakshi Sinha, Chitrangada Singh, and Soha Ali Khan. This show was presented by Fashion One International, a company that strives to connect brands with India’s leading fashion designers for unique opportunities, such as creative collaborations, endorsements, appearances, and consumer connects.

Also of exciting news on the runway, was the appearance of newlyweds Esha Deol and Bharat Takhtani, who strutted on the ramp for Azva jewelry, reliving their recent monsoon wedding. Feathers, power shoulders, and fishtail lehengas were a vivid trend particularly visible at Falguni and Shane Peacock’s rock star show. The chairman, Vijay Singh commented, “The individuality and character that an Indian designer brings to fashion is something the international fashion industry has come to recognize and respect,” a statement clearly evidenced in the recent runway shows in New York and London. A complete list of the fabulous designers can be found here.

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The September-October issue of Florida Travel and Life, is chock full of insider secrets from the ultimate poolside parties to the best treatments at the best resorts in Florida. Speaking of spa treatments, KeSARI was featured in the Destination Spas category in the breakdown, “Luxurious Facial.” In this feature, our uber refreshing and rejuvenating facial, available at the Delano South Beach, is adored for its use of saffron. Playground to hipsters, the Delano South Beach, is a celeb favorite, especially during Art Basel- the biggest contemporary art fair in the nation in Miami Beach. If you so happen to book a stay at this oceanfront paradise, why not treat yourself to a service, or two, off of our Indian infused spa menu? Tempt yourself:

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