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Bhai Dooj: The Hindu Festival celebrates Bond between Brothers and Sisters

This festival renews and reunites the love of siblings and strengthens their relationship when all the family members celebrate it together

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Picture of a brother and a sister celebrating bhai dooj. Wikimedia Commons

November 1, 2016: India is one of the very few countries where the love of brother-sister is celebrated twice a year with such splendor. We celebrate this bond with Raksha Bandhan and Bhai Dooj. Diwali’s last day is celebrated as Bhaiya Dooj. It is known by different names all across the country such as Bhai Phota, Bhau-deej in Bengal, Bhau Beej in Karnataka, Maharashtra and Goa and Ningol Chakuba in Manipur. In Nepal, Bhaiya Dooj is known as Bhai tihar. Sisters put a long, seven colored tika on their brother’s forehead and pray to Yamaraj for their long life and success.

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Also known as ‘Yama Dwiteeya’, Bhaiya Dooj celebrates the love of Yamaraj, the Lord of Death and the guardian of Hell, and his sister Yami. When Yamaraj came to visit Yami, she put a tilak on his forehead and prayed for his health and well-being. It is believed that anyone who has a tilak on his forehead, on this day, from his sister would never be punished in hell.

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This festival renews and reunites the love of siblings and strengthens their relationship when all the family members celebrate it together. Brothers and sisters remember their responsibilities during the festival. The whole family treats themselves all day by giving presents to each other. Sisters perform the ritual by putting a vermilion mark, tilak, on their brother’s forehead and perform aarti by showing him the holy flame’s light that marks the beauty of the relationship of brothers and sisters. Sisters pray for the health and well-being of their brother and brothers promise to protect their sister from any harm that comes her way.

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Nowadays, due to the busy schedule, many brothers are unable to celebrate this festival with their sisters. So the sisters send the tika, in an envelope by post. Bhaiya-Dooj e-cards and virtual tikas have helped the brothers and sisters, who live far away from each other, remember their siblings on this auspicious occasion

The core of this festival is to strengthen the love and connection between brothers and sisters by sharing of food, exchanging gifts, and reaching out to the deepest corners of the heart.

Prepared by Diksha Arya of NewsGram. Twitter: @diksha_arya53

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Diwali 2017: 5 Fun things You can do this Diwali Instead of Bursting Crackers

How to celebrate Cracker -free Diwali? Here are 5 wonderful ways to make your Diwali joyful this year.

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Diwali 2017
Diwali 2017: Celebrate Cracker-free Diwali this year.
  • No crackers this Diwali? No problem.There are other ways to celebrate Diwali 2017 with the same excitement and joy.
  • The ban on crackers this year has given us a chance to celebrate Diwali 2017 in many other interesting ways with Family and friends.

There can so So much more than bursting crackers on Diwali. Here are 5 ways to enjoy Cracker-free Diwali 2017 

1.Prepare a Diwali Feast: Preparing Delicious Diwali Dishes and Sweets can be a good idea to enjoy Diwali this year. Show off your cooking skills and treat your family with mouthwatering food. Good food can add joy to any celebration, it is tried and tested formula to enjoy and bring smiles on the face of family and friends.

Phirni Diwali Dishes
Preparing Delicious and Sweets can be a good idea to enjoy Diwali this year. Wikimedia

2. Go Green: Some gardening skills can add to your joy this Diwali. Plant a sapling in your home and instead of giving any other gifts to your loved ones, gift a plant to them. This will not only add to the uniqueness of the gift but will encourage a pollution-free Diwali this year.

Also Read: Diwali 2017: Significance of the Diwali, Celebrations & Rituals, Date & Diwali Recipes

3. Try out the old tradition of Playing Cards on Diwali 2017: Playing Taash (cards) can be fun this Diwali with family and friends.Teen Patti is the most popular card game played on the festival of Diwali. You can also play monopoly if you are not sure of winning with cards.

4.Karaoke or Dance Party: Music is the best way to enjoy on every occasion. You can play Antakshari with your family or can throw a dance party on Diwali 2017. A karaoke night this Diwali can add your joy for sure.

5.Spread Happiness: Instead of spending money on crackers, help the underprivileged children in your neighborhood by buying them new clothes, sweets and Diyas. This year control pollution and spread happiness to truly enjoy the festival of lights.

-prepared by Pragya Mittal |Twitter @PragyaMittal05

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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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Get Your Home Festive Ready for Dussehra and Diwali!

Can't wait for Dussehra and Diwali? Neither can we! These tips will help you get your house festive-ready!

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From decorating the halls to hosting friends and family, use our tips and tricks for making your home ready for Diwali and Dussehra. Pixabay

New Delhi, September 9, 2017 : With Dussehra and Diwali round the corner, get your home festive ready with thorough cleaning, cushions in silk, chanderi or zari embroidered fabrics, fresh flowers and scented candles, suggest experts.

Dipti Das, Design Head at interior design and decor online platform HomeLane and interior designer Pramitha Roche, have shared ideas on how you can decorate your home tastefully for Dussehra and Diwali :

  •  Use traditional hand-crafted fabrics and prints. Silks, chanderi, fabrics with batik or block prints and zari embroidery are all the rage. You can also add some traditional carpets.
  •  Use copper and brass crockery when guests come calling.
  • Add mirrors with embellished or copper-toned frames to add a little bling to your interiors.
  •  Instead of painting the whole house, use one prominent wall and paint it with a pretty motif or adorn it with a decal or wall hanging to add to the festive spirit.
  •  Good lighting can easily set the right mood. Light up your home in layers with some ornate lighting fixtures and lamps.
  •  Highlight a wall by painting it in cheerful earthy warm hues like solar yellow, rustic red and emerald green.
  •  Fresh flowers and scented candles are ideal for those who want to keep the decor understated.
  •  Ensure your towels, napkins, table runner and door mats are in the same vibrant shade to keep symmetry going.
  • Bring out the prized centrepieces for your coffee table and dining table. (IANS)