why “chhaya”?

We were a few weeks away from the grand opening of the café and we still didn’t have a name. I had vetoed every suggestion that my husband had come up with:

“V’s Café!” – Do I strike you as that self-obsessed?

“Waffles & Coffee” – A bit on the nose, don’t you think?

“Waffles & Wackos!” – Wha..?

“Java House” – Groan.

“The Bean’s Knees” – No. Just no.

“Wafflemania!” – Silent, unblinking stare.

I kept coming back to one word again and again in my head – chhaya. It’s a Sanskrit word meaning shelter from the sun, shade, a shadow. I always loved how it sounded and it reminded me of one of my favorite childhood stories from the Mahabharat. In the story a princess was forced to disrobe in front of the court and she prayed to the Gods to save her from this humiliation. Answering her prayers, the Gods sent two celestial nymphs—Chhaya and Maya (Shadow and Illusion)—to protect her. With each layer of clothing she removed, Chhaya and Maya cloaked the princess so it appeared that her vestments were ever ending. It was magic.

After Googling the word, it turns out chaya is Japanese for teahouse. And in Hebrew it means life. A shelter, a teahouse, life…could there be a more appropriate name?

If you want to learn more about chhaya and its culture and community check us out on:

Facebook: @chhayaphiladelphia

Instagram: @chhayaphiladelphia

Twitter: @chhayacafe