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Indo-Pak Cultural Exchange must go on: Eminent Urdu Poets

Artistes have no religion, no country, for them art is everything

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A text written in Urdu language , Wikimedia

New Delhi, April 15, 2017: Indo-Pak relations have been under speculation since an age old time. Governments shake hands towards an era of peace and certain “forces” are always in action to worsen the ties.

However, art is a field which has bound the common masses of both the nations. Pakistani singers like Atif Aslam enjoy huge popularity in the nation and Indian actors and Bollywood movies are loved all around the neighbouring country.

Poetry is one such field. India is home to many famous urdu poets and Pakistani poets are also invited to participate in the “mushairas” organized in the nation. However, in the wake of recent events (Death sentence of Kulbhushan Jadhav)- Indo-Pak relations are once again souring and the Indian Urdu poets do not want this to affect the rich cultural exchange between the nations.

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Eminent Urdu poets believe cultural exchange between the two countries and visits of artists must be kept away from the purview of politics. Many Urdu poets expressed this desire on the sidelines of the Jashn-e-Bahar Mushaira here last evening.

A galaxy of poets, including Javed Akhtar, recited their poetry at the mushaira (symposium) to a packed house. In its 19th edition, this was the first time the Urdu poetry symposium had no representation from Pakistan amid growing Indo-Pak tensions.

However, Kamna Prasad, the founder of the non-profit Jashn-e-Bahar Trust that organises the event, attributed the absence of Pakistani Urdu poets at the event to “mathematics” of how many poets can be invited and the Trusts aim to get poets from places where interest in Urdu was rising.

Poets at the event strongly pitched for cultural exchange between India and Pakistan despite tensions. They also agreed that inviting poets from Pakistan could be troublesome for any event in the current scenario.

“When Pakistani poets used to come, it used to be a great congregation. If they are called now, there will be an uneasy atmosphere, people will come opposing it,” Syed Aijazuddin Shah, famous as Popular Meeruthi, told PTI on the sidelines of the event.

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Echoing Shahs views was Hussain Haidry, a young Urdu poet from Mumbai, who said culture and politics must be kept separate.

“When 100 people stand up and say why poets and artistes from Pakistan cannot come, 10 people who are currently opposing their coming will go away,” the 31-year-old said.
Songs like Purani Jeans or Atif Aslams numbers are loved on both sides of the border.

Artists have no religion, no country, for them art is everything, Haidry said. Further, poet Minu Bakshi saidPolitics and culture should remain completely separate. Naseem Nikhat, a poet from Lucknow, said, “We must call them (Pakistani artistes) as we are known to be soft-hearted and welcoming. We must be open-minded. Barring cultural exchanges will yield no results.”

However, poet Mansoor Usmani said Indo-Pak relations were very sensitive and caution needs to be exercised. Other poets who recited their poetry were Abdullah Abdullah from New York; Jawaid Danish from Toronto, Basir Kazmi from Manchester, Shahjahan Jaffery from Kuwait City and Aziz Nabeel from Doha.

It was Akhtar, who drew the loudest cheers from the crowd for his couplets and nazms.
Prasad exuded confidence that Urdus future was bright with young people still enamoured by the beauty of the language.

“The young generation, when they send sms they send it in Roman script but couplets are still in Urdu. If you want to learn Urdu, be in love and if you want to be in love, learn Urdu,” she told, mentioned PTI.

In her opening remarks at the event, Prasad strongly condemned the trend of hate poetry.
Among the eminent personalities present during the evening were Manipur Governor Najma Heptulla, former Union Minister Farooq Abdullah and former Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar.

Member of Parliament and actor, Shatrughan Sinha, who was the Chief Guest at the event, said, “Indian film industry owes its existence to Urdu. All our immortal dialogues and songs are heavily dependent on Urdu.”

The event was presided over by Shamsur Rahman Faruqi, leading Urdu poet and critic.
Amarendra Khatua, Director General, Indian Council for Cultural Relations, was the Guest of Honour at the poetry symposium. Among the Indian poets, Aqeel Nomani, Nusrat Mehdi and Aalok Shrivstav also participated.

-prepared by Nikita Tayal of NewsGram Twitter @NikitaTayal6

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Mahalaya: Beginning of “Devipaksha” in Bengali Celebration of ‘Durga Puja’

“Mahalaya” is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha” and heralds the celebration of Durga Puja

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Mahalaya morning in Kolkata. Flickr
  • Mahalaya 2017 Date: 19th september.
  • On Mahalaya, people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers; which is called ‘Torpon’
  • Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted in All India Radio
  • The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent

Sept 19, 2017: Autumn is the season of the year that sees the Hindus, all geared up to celebrate some of the biggest festivals of India. The festive spirit in the Bengalis all enthused to prepare for the greatest of the festivals, the ‘Durga Puja’.

About Mahalaya:

Mahalaya is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha,” and this year it is celebrated on September 19.

Observed exactly a week before the ‘Durga Puja’, Mahalaya is the harbinger of the arrival of Goddess Durga. It is celebrated to invoke the goddess possessing supreme power! The goddess is invited to descend on earth and she is welcomed with devotional songs and holy chants of mantras. On this day, the eye is drawn in the idols of the Goddess by the artisans marking the initiation of “Devipaksha”. Mahalaya arrives and the countdown to the Durga Puja begins!

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The day of Mahalaya bears supreme significance to the Bengalis. The day is immensely important because on this day people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers. Clad in white dhotis, people offer prayers and take dips in the river while praying for their demised dear ones. The ritual is popular as “Torpon”.

Mahalaya
An idol-maker in progress of drawing the eye in the idol of the Goddess. Wikipedia

As per Hindu myth, on “Devipaksha”, the Gods and the Goddesses began their preparations to celebrate “Mahamaya” or Goddess Durga, who was brought upon by the trinity- Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshwara; to annihilate the fierce demon king named Mahishasura. The captivating story of the Goddess defeating the demon got popularized with the goddess being revered as “Durgatinashini” or the one who banishes all the evils and miseries of the world. The victory of the Goddess is celebrated as ‘Durga Puja’.

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Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted at dawn in All India Radio in the form of a marvelous audio montage enthralling the souls of the Bengalis. Presented with wonderful devotional music, acoustic drama, and classical songs- the program is also translated to Hindi and played for the whole pan-Indian listeners.

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Mahalaya
Birendra Krishna Bhadra (1905-1991). Wikipedia

The program is inseparable from Mahalaya and has been going on for over six decades till date. The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent! He has been a legend and the dawn of Mahalaya turns insipid without the reverberating and enchanting voice of the legendary man.

Mahalaya will keep spreading the magic and setting the vigor of the greatest festival of the Bengalis- the Durga Puja, to worship the supreme Goddess, eternally.

                 “Yaa Devi Sarbabhuteshu, Shakti Rupena Sanhsthita,

                     Namastaswai Namastaswai Namastaswai Namo Namaha.”

– by Antara Kumar of NewsGram. Twitter: @ElaanaC

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Raja Chari: Indian American Astronaut chosen by NASA

Raja Chari, an American of Indian descent, has been chosen by NASA as one of the 12 astronauts for a new space mission.

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Raja Chari. Twitter.
  • Raja Chari is an American of Indian descent chosen by NASA for the new batch of astronauts
  • Currently, he is a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force
  • Chari will have to go through two years of astronaut training which begins in August

June 06, 2017: NASA has chosen 12 astronauts out of a record-breaking 18,300 applications for upcoming space missions. An American of Indian descent, Raja Chari, has successfully earned his spot in the top 12.

The astronauts were selected on the basis of expertise, education, and physical tests. This batch of 12 astronauts is the largest group selected by NASA since two decades. The group consisting of 7 men and 5 women surpassed the minimum requirements of NASA.

Born in Waterloo, Iowa, Chari graduated from Air Force Academy in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in Astronautical Engineering and Engineering Science. He went on to complete his master’s in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The astronaut is also a graduate of US Naval Test Pilot School.

Currently, Raja Chari is a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force. He is the commander of 461st Flight Test Squadron and director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

After Late Kalpana Chawla, Lt. Col. Raja Chari is the second Indian American astronaut chosen by NASA.

The 12 astronauts will have to go through two years of training. Upon completion, they will be assigned their missions ranging from research at the International Space Station, launching from American soil on spacecraft by private companies, to flying on deep space missions on NASA’s Orion Spacecraft.

The US Vice-President Mike Pence visited the Johnson Space Centre in Houston to announce and congratulate the new batch. Pence also said that President Trump is “fully committed” to NASA’s missions in space.

by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2393

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Over 5,000 Plant Varieties in Last 3 Years sent in by Tribal Farmers to protect the species : Minister

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Tribal Farmers
tribal farmers submitted more than 5,000 plant varieties in last three years (representational Image). Wikimedia

New Delhi, June 8, 2017: Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh on Wednesday said tribal farmers submitted more than 5,000 plant varieties in last three years through Krishi Vigyan Kendras for registration at the Protection of Plant Variety and Farmers Rights Authority.

It will play an important role in the development of climate resilient and sustainable varieties in future, he said at the National Workshop on Empowerment of Farmers of Tribal Areas here.

“New technological innovations in agriculture must reach to the fields of tribal areas but before taking such steps we must keep in mind the unique conditions of these areas, which are the gift of nature and therefore, we should promote natural farming in those areas,” he said, as per an official release. (IANS)

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