India’s festive season, “fan-plastic” food wrap, tennis wonder, Ig Nobel prizes

Sep 15, 2021 Episode 64

India’s four-month festival season starts, “fan-plastic” biodegradable food wrap, Emma Raducanu wows world and Ig Nobel prizes

Episode Transcript

OPENING STING – LEELA: “New, new, newsy – Newsy Pooloozi!” 


LEELA: Hello and welcome to Newsy Pooloozi – the only world news podcast for kids!

I’m your host, Leela Sivasankar Prickitt and right next to me, holding the mic and preparing to edit the show is my executive producer (and mama, as she happens to me)!

MAMA: Hello – I’m Lyndee Prickitt.

LEELA: This week on Newsy Pooloozi…

The festive season in India officially begins. Yes – nearly one-sixth of humanity lives here and boy, oh, boy, do they like to party! We’ll take you through festivities. Move over plastic, hello algae. Yep, algae is the key ingredient in a new biodegradable food wrap being developed. How fan-plastic is that?

Speaking of amazing – Britain’s new 17-year-old tennis star – Emma Raducanu – has wowed the world with her surprise triumph at the US Open. And the Ig Nobel prizes are out – not to be confused with the Nobel prize, of course. Because they’re a whole lot funnier, for a start! Listen till the end to hear more.

But first it’s time for…

BIG NEWS STORY STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “The big news story of the week!”

MAMA: Festival season officially kicked off here in India. And when we say festival season –

LEELA: We mean like more than five major festivals from several different religions and a lot dancing, singing, eating –

MAMA: Praying.

LEELA: And presents, of course!

MAMA: Yes, there are 1.36 billion people in this country – that’s a practically sixth of humanity – living here, with millions of followers from most of the world’s major religions. So pretty much all year round there’s a holiday or festival of some sort.

LEELA: But for some reason autumn seems to have most of them.

MAMA: At least most of the big ones – like Diwali and other Hindu festivals, the big festival marking the guru of the Sikh religion, the Muslim festival of Eid is often in autumn, thought not this year, and of course, there’s Christmas and it all closes with New Year’s Day celebrations. Wheww! There’s a lot going on for the next few months here.

LEELA: And you might think Diwali, which Hindus celebrate, is the biggest of all here. But not necessarily.

MAMA: There are many Hindu festivals in autumn. Which one is the most important pretty much depends on where you live. For instance Bengali Hindus in Kolkata celebrate the Durga Puja – which pays respect to the Indian goddess, Durga – next month. Yes, you heard me right – a goddess.

LEELA: How cool is that?

MAMA: And – the festival that kicks the whole season off is happening right now – Ganpati, for the elephant god, Ganesh, who’s sometimes also called Ganesha.

LEELA: Yep, Ganesh is the elephant-headed Hindu god of beginnings.

MAMA: And in the towns and cities across the south of India, most notably the city of Mumbai, people create symbolic clay statues – all of sizes – and spend ten days parading the statue through the streets and, finally, into a major river, lake or, in the case of Mumbai, the Arabian Sea.

LEELA: The ritual is done to signify the birth cycle of Lord Ganesha. But, as our Mumbai correspondent Maia Sodha, tells us, most of the “Ganpati” celebrations start at home. Over to you,  Maia!

MAIA: Yes Ganpati is here!


For 10 days we celebrate, welcoming Lord Ganesha into our homes, which are beautifully decorated with flowers, lights and, most importantly, a little shrine centered around a precious statue of Ganesh. Oh, and of course, there’s a LOT of lip-smacking laddoos.

That’s the Hindi word for Indian desserts. And, boy, have I had my fair share of enjoying them! Especially modaks – they’re made of steamed rice flour, stuffed with a raw sugar and coconut. Yummm!

We also visit other friends homes and go “pandal hopping,” as it’s called. Pandals are basically pop-up temples, or temporary neighborhood shrines.

A shout out to my friends Anch and Avika for going the extra mile in their celebrations this year and keeping it eco-friendly. Of course,we have to be careful this year – again! – because of COVID.So we’re going in small social bubbles.

Usually the city of 20 million people – yes, it’s crowded here! – is full of people out dancing through the streets as they take their Ganesh statues to the sea.

DRUM MUSIC – play the Nashik dhol audio

And since it’s the end of the monsoon season, it’s usually raining too!

Imagine thousands of people singing and dancing, in the streets. In the rain! It’s wild!


Many believe Lord Ganesha removes the bad things from our life and brings joy.

I hope so! So happy Ganesh festival,  Leela.

And here’s to the rest of the festival season!

In Mumbai, India, I’m Maia Sodha, reporting for Newsy Pooloozi!

LEELA: Thanks a lot, Maia!

MAMA: Yes – here’s to the rest of the Indian festival season, right back at ya! And, by the way, this week is also Yom Kippur – which means “Atonement Day” and focuses on asking forgiveness for mistakes made in the past year. It’s considered the holiest day of the year in Judaism.

LEELA: And as if that weren’t wowzers enough. It’s now time for…


SCIENCE STING – LEELA: “The world of wow, wow, wow… In other words – science!”  

MAMA: We talk a lot on this podcast about the world’s addiction to plastic. Including ours.

LEELA: I have to confess I’ve probably got one too many pop-its, never mind all those Hatchimals and Legos.

MAMA: I know. But at least those aren’t single-use bits of plastic, like the take-away boxes we get or even the plastic used in food packaging.

LEELA: According to plasticoceans.org, 40% of all plastic produced is used for packaging!

MAMA: Yeah, it’s bad. I think it’s because it’s just so cheap to produce. And easy to use.

LEELA: Mama, that’s just lazy.

MAMA: Leela, that’s just human nature, I’m afraid.

LEELA: Well, never fear, science is here! And algae… At least that’s what I’m hearing from our Indian environment correspondent, Sahasra Sridhar, who has this report.

SAHASRA: Thanks, Leela.

A bunch of fantastic – or should I say, fanplastic–  scientists from India and Russia are working together to create biodegradable packaging for food. The wrap, which can be used on everything is made of natural ingredients that are safe for animals, humans, and the environment!

What ingredients?

Well, believe it or not, it’s made using chemicals that are found in algae – you know, that fuzzy green stuff you see growing on rocks.

(Though technically it’s a predominantly aquatic organism with no roots, stems or leaves.)

And in this new packaging, the algae has as a sidekick – cinnamon!

Together they’re used to create a film, as in a thin, flexible piece of packaging material, that’s also soluble in water!

In fact, almost 90% of it can almost completely dissolve in around 24 hours.

Cool or what? But that’s not all. This new wrap is edible too!

But don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean they’re gonna start serving it in McDonalds!

It only means that if animals or humans happen to consume it, it won’t do any harm! And there’s more!

This film also contains “antioxidants,” which are substances that help the food stay fresh longer!

What’s more, substances like ginger, turmeric and garlic can be added to this formula too, to prevent viruses!

And, you don’t need any special equipment to make this!

No fancy machines? Ingredients of algae and cinnamon that are easily available? To make a biodegradable and edible food wrap?

What an innovation!

Now it just needs to go from the lab to the production line and into my lunchbox, please!

From India, this is Sahasra Sridhar, reporting for Newsy Pooloozi!

LEELA: Thanks, Sahasra.


WORLD WRAP STING – LEELA: “What’s that? I’ll tell you what. That’s the halftime bell! Which means… it’s time to hear what’s making news around the rest of the world. Hold on tight, it’s around the world in 80 seconds.” 

MAMA: US Republicans are angry over President Biden’s new rules requiring government and health care workers to get vaccinated against Covid-19. The move is meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus, in the run up to winter, the flu season and the holidays.

In Afghanistan the new Taliban leaders are said to be arguing with each other – over the make-up of the group’s new government – which has no women and very few minority groups represented.

The Wooly mammoth could be resurrected! An Americantech entrepreneur is funding a project by a Harvard geneticist to restore the extinct beast to the vast Arctic plains, known as the tundra. (I think you’ll be hearing more from us on that story!)

More tech advancements – this time in wearable technology as Ray-Ban and Facebook join forces to create new “smart” sun glasses, promising to record photos and videos to be shared on social media. But – most privacy experts are wondering – why would you want to?

Speaking of Facebook, top officials at the media company say there were aware that Instagram can have a negative impact on mental health and body image. In a study of teens in the U.S. and the U.K., Facebook found that over 40% of Instagram users, who reported feeling “unattractive” traced that feeling back to the platform.

LEELA: Thanks a lot  – as ever – for that whippity-whappity-zippitay-zappity wrap of world news, Mama. And it’s time for….

SPORTS STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “It’s time to play ball… Score… Sports News!”

LEELA: OMG – did you see the US Open this weekend?!

MAMA: I know, right? A tennis player who was virtually unknown until three months ago – British player Emma Raducanu, has surprised everyone by winning the US Open Grand Slam singles title.

LEELA: Go, Emma, go Emma! And the British are going wiiiiiiiiiiiiild!

MAMA: She’s the first British female player in 44 years to win this grand slam.

LEELA: So, we better cut across to our England correspondent, Jackson Hosking, for more on this story.

JACKSON: Thanks, Leela.

You’re right – everyone here can’t stop talking about 18-year-old Emma Raducanu.

It was a historic night for Britain’s newest sports star, winning a match that practically brought the UK to a standstill.

As you mentioned, few people had heard of her until three months ago.

She began the year ranked 345th in the world.

Then she was given a “wild card” admission to play at Wimbledon.

She unfortunately had to withdraw from that match because of health issues.

No one expected she’d be the US Open champion.

But the whole way through, she didn’t drop a set during the entire tournament.

In the final showdown, she overpowered Leylah Fernandez – a 19-year-old from Canada – 6-4 6-3, ending Britain’s 44-year wait for a women’s Grand Slam singles champion.

No less than the Queen herself – yes, the Queen of the United Kingdom! – led the flurry of congratulations.

Social media users in China are celebrating too – both her sporting ability and her Chinese heritage.

You see, Raducanu was born in Canada to a Romanian father and Chinese mother, before moving to London when she was just two-years-old.

The tennis pro might have started the year ranked 345 in the world but now she’s just been re-ranked – at 23rd.

Though something tells me it won’t be long before she’s in the top ten.

In the south of England, I’m Jackson Hosking, reporting for Newsy Pooloozi.

LEELA: Thanks a lot, Jackson.

And finally…


ODDBALL STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “Step right up, step right up… Have a go at the lucky dip machine… What’s it gonna be today, eh? An oddball, no doubt!”

LEELA: Oh, yeah, it doesn’t get more odd than the Ig Nobel prizes.

MAMA: Nobel prize? What’s odd about the annual prizes that honor people doing great work in their fields – from science to literature and even efforts and spreading world peace?

LEELA: Nothing at all! But I said the Ig Nobel – as in ignoble. As in, not noble or honorable. Which actually is a little bit unfair.

MAMA: What? I’m so confused.

LEELA: OK – let me back up. These awards are a spoof version of the real Nobel prizes you mentioned. They are also annual awards – but just for science. Real scientific research and accomplishments, though. But usually the kind that make you laugh.

MAMA: Ahhhh. OK. I think of heard of these.

LEELA: But it’s not just for laughs. As ever with the wonderful world of wow – otherwise known as science – these spoof science awards are also meant to make you think. To make you stop and an go, “aaah-haaa.”

MAMA: Aaah-haaa!

LEELA: Exactly. For instance, did you know it’s safer to transport a rhinoceros upside-down?


LEELA: Yes, indeed. An experiment that hung the big beasts upside down – to confirm that this typical method of travel for rhinos is safe – won the award for “transportation research.”


LEELA: Apparently, rhinos that are on their side too long get muscle damage because they’re so heavy. Hanging up-side-down means there’s no pressure on their legs, other than the strap around their ankle, of course.

MAMA: Of course.

LEELA: That’s not all. Why do men grow beards, you may ask?

MAMA: ‘Cos they think it looks good?

LEELA: Mama!

MAMA: I mean it kept them warm back in the cave days?

LEELA: Nope. Believe it or not, a study has shown that men may have begun growing beards to help cushion the impact of blows, you know, a punch in the face.


MAMA: Ouch!

LEEELA: That research got the “peace prize.”

MAMA: (laughs) Oh, right…!

LEELA: The Entomology Prize (entomology is the study of insects) was awarded to research on

“A New Method of Cockroach Control on Submarines.”

MAMA: Uhhh, what?

LEELA: It just means getting rid of cockroaches on submarines, naturally.

MAMA: Naturally.

LEELA: The Physics prize went to experiments to learn why people walking on the street don’t constantly bump into each other.

MAMA: Useful.

LEELA: And the Kinetics Prize (kinetics is pretty much the study of motion) went to experiments learning why people walking on the street DO sometimes bump into each other. (Laughs)

MAMA: I’m beginning to see why they’re called the Ig Nobels prizes.

LEELA: Each winner was given ten trillion dollars – in fake money. And a fabulous paper trophy. Which they had to assemble themselves – naturally, being clever scientists and all.

FAB FACTS STING – LEELA: “And it’s time to wrap up the podcast with the top five fab facts heard today. Here goes…” 

MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 1 – It’s the beginning of the Indian festival season – with festivities from many of the world’s major religions underway. The first celebration honors the the elephant-headed Hindu god of beginnings, whose name is what?

Ganesh or Ganesha

LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 2 – The chemicals found is algae are being used to make biodegradable food wrap. And, according to plasticoceans.org, how much of all plastic produced is used for packaging?

40 %

MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 3 – And just what is algae?

Algae is predominantly an aquatic organism with no roots, stems or leaves.

LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 4 – The Ig Nobel prizes for science have just been awarded. They’re a spoof on the Nobel prizes, which are?

The Nobel Prizes are annual prizes honoring people doing great work in their fields – from science to literature and even spreading world peace.

MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 5 – The Entomology Ig Nobel Prize went to a team studying cockroaches on submarines. What’s entomology?

And don’t forget, if you want to test yourself later on, then go to the Lucky Dip page of our website,  newsyjacuzzi.com, and take this quiz online!


LEELA: And that brings us to the end of this episode of Newsy Pooloozi!!!!!


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Alrighty then – see you next week in the Newsy Pooloozi!