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Consulate General of India celebrates Third Kala Utsav to honour Indian Culture in Chicago

Nearly 500 people comprising of the Indian-American Diaspora hailing from different parts of India, including many US nationals and diplomats attended the event

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Dr. Ausaf Sayeed (centre), Consulate General of India along with his wife inaugurate Kala Utsav by lighting the lamp. Image source: Asian Media USA
Chicago IL, August 25, 2016: The Consulate General of India hosted the Annual Cultural Festival “Kala-Utsav-2016” on August 22, at McAninch Arts Center, College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn in collaboration with 23 different Indian Cultural Organizations to promote the rich heritage of Indian Art and Culture in the US Mid-West. The event provided a useful platform for over 250 renowned Indian artists, from across the US Midwest to showcase their inherent talents through top-class performances.
The function started with a stunning performance of “ChendaMelam” by the Chicago Kalashetra which is the best –known and most popular kshetram vadyam (temple percussion) genre.

Third Kala Utsav. Image source: Asia Media USA
Dance performance at the Third Kala Utsav. Image source: Asia Media USA

The festival was inaugurated by Dr. Ausaf Sayeed, Consul General of India by lighting of the lamp.  He was joined by Mrs Farha Sayeed, OP Meena, Head of Chancery at the Consulate, Harish Kolasani and members of participating organization of Kala-Utsav 2016. This was followed by the Indian and the US National Anthems.

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Nearly 500 people comprising of the Indian-American Diaspora hailing from different parts of India, including many US nationals and diplomats attended the event.

In his inaugural address, Consul General Dr Ausaf Sayeed underlined the ancient, deep-rooted and diverse culture of India, he added that the objective of the annual ‘Kala-Utsav’ festival, which was launched by the consulate in August 2014, is not only to encourage and showcase the extraordinary talents in the Indian-American community but also to reiterate and celebrate the concept of India’s diversity and oneness.

Third Kala Utsav. Image source: Asia Media USA
Third Kala Utsav. Image source: Asia Media USA

The cultural events began with Rhythmic Collaborations presented by Kala Eternal Rhythms, School of Indian Classical Music, Chicago followed by a sequence of dance performances representing the classical, folk and modern dance forms of India.

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The classical dance segment included two Bharatnatyam performances presented by the Nritya Geethanjali Dance Academy and Natya Dance Theatre, two Kathak performances presented by Anila Sinha Foundation & Tarana Kathak Dance Academy, two Kuchipudi performance presented by Samyoga School of Dance, Indiana and Eshanjali Dance Academy, IOWA. While the Utkala Center for Odissi Dance presented an Odissi composition, Ganesha Vandana, the Nritya Bharathi Institute of Dance, Indiana presented Fast paced Classic Dance.

Third Kala Utsav. Image source: Asia Media USA
Dance performance at Kala Utsav. Image source: Asia Media USA

There were 10 folk dance representing nine States of India. The Telangana Folk Dance Group presented the Telangana folk dance, Bathukamma, Shingari’s School of Rhythm presented Kerala Folk Dance, Oppana, Amitha Mushyam presented Andhra folk dance, Andhranatyam & Kolatam, Rhythms & Grace Dance Studio presented Rajasthani folk dance, Ghummar , the Assam Association of Greater Chicago presented Assam’s Folk dance “ Sattriya”  the Balaji Vidhypeetham School of Balaji Temple presented North Indian Folk dance “ Bappa Morya” , I Radha Group presented high energy Punjabi folk dance “Bhangra”, Maharastra Mandal presented Marathi folk dance “Ghondhal” and Amrapali Dance group presented Bengali folk dance.  The performance of Gidha, Punjabi folk dance, by Hari Om Mandir Dance Group enthralled the audience.

Third Kala Utsav. Image source: Asia Media USA
Punjabi folk dance in Third Kala Utsav. Image source: Asia Media USA

There were four presentations under the Contemporary/Fusion dance category in which over thirty artists participated. These presentations captured the hearts of the audience. The presentation ‘Colors of India’ by Team Ghungru attempted to keep the flame of vibrancy and patriotism alive in our hearts. Kalapriya Center for Indian performing arts presented “ Navarasa”, Bollywood Dhamaka” was presented by Bollywood Rhythm and Rina Rockers presented a semi-classical dance performance with the remix version of Hanuman Chalisa.

Third Kala Utsav. Image source: Asia Media USA
Members and participants of the Third Kala Utsav. Image source: Asia Media USA

Mr Tarun Mullick ably anchored the event as emcee and kept the audience engaged with his hilarious narration, Balle Balle. Mr OP Meena proposed a vote of thanks.

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Hinduism is Not an Official or Preferred Religion in Any Country of The World, Says a New Report

Though Hinduism is the third largest religion of the world, it is not the official state religion of any country according to a Pew Research Center Report

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Hinduism
Hinduism is not an official religion of any country in the world. Instagram.
  • No country has declared Hinduism as its official state religion – despite India being an influential Hindu political party
  • Hinduism is not an official or preferred religion in any country of the world, according to a Pew Research Center report.
  • 53% of 199 nations considered in the study don’t have an official religion
  • 80 countries are assigned either an “official religion” or “preferred religion”

Nevada, USA, October 16: Hinduism is the primeval and third largest religion of the world with about 1.1 billion followers of moksh (liberation) being its utmost desire of life. India is among the category of nations where the government do not have an official or preferred religion.

Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank headquartered in Washington DC that aims to inform the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.

The report states that a country’s official religion is regarded as a legacy of its past and present privileges granted by the state. And a few other countries fall on the other side of the gamut, and propagate their religion as the ‘official religion’, making it a compulsion for all citizens.

It adds up on the context of allocation that more than eight-in-ten countries (86%) provide financial support or resources for religious education programs and religious schools that tend to benefit the official religion.

Hinduism
Islam is the most practiced official religion of the world. Instagram.

Commenting on Hinduism, the report states:

In 2015, Nepal came close to enshrining Hinduism, but got rejected of a constitutional amendment due to a conflict between pro-Hindu protesters and state police.

Although India has no official or preferred religion as mentioned in the Constitution,it was found by PEW that in India the intensity of government constraints and social antagonism involving religion was at a peak. “Nigeria, India, Russia, Pakistan and Egypt had the highest levels of social hostilities involving religion among the 25 most populous countries in 2015. All fell into the “very high” hostilities category,” the report added.

As per the 2011 census, it was found that 79.8% of the Indian population idealizes Hinduism and 14.2% practices to Islam, while the rest 6% pursuit other religions.

While Hinduism stands up with the majority, Article 25 of the Constitution of India contributes secularism allowing for religious freedom and allows every Indian to practice his/her religion, without any intervention by the community or the government.

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, President of Universal Society of Hinduism, applauded the Hindu community for their benefaction to the society and advised Hindus to concentrate on inner purity, attract spirituality towards youth and children, stay far from the greed, and always keep God in the life.

According to Pew, these are “places where government officials seek to control worship practices, public expressions of religion and political activity by religious groups”.

-by Bhavana Rathi of NewsGram.  She can be reached @tweet_bhavana

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Paintings Which Beautifully Depict Scenes From Ramayana

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Ramayana
Ram lifting the bow during Sita Swayambar. Wikimedia Commons.

Ramayana, the ancient Indian epic which describes the narrative of Ayodhya Prince lord Rama’s struggles. The struggles include- exile of 14 years, abduction of his wife Sita, reaching Lanka, destruction of the evil. It is strongly ingrained in the Indian culture, especially, the Hindu culture since a long time. Hindus celebrate Diwali based on the narratives of Ramayana.

The story of Ramayana gives out the beautiful message that humanity and service to the mankind is way more important than kingdom and wealth. Below are five paintings describing the scenes from Ramayana:

1. Agni Pariksha in Ramayana

Ramayana
Agni Pariksha. Wikimedia.

When Lord Rama questions Sita’s chastity, she undergoes Agni Pariksha, wherein, she enters a burning pyre, declaring that if she has been faithful to her husband then the fire would harm her. She gets through the test without any injuries or pain. The fire God, Agni, was the proof of her purity. Lord Rama accepts Sita and they return to Ayodhya. 

2. Scene From The Panchavati Forest

Ramayana
scene from the panchavati forest. wikimedia.

The picture describes a scene from the Panchavati forest. It is believed that Lord Rama built his forest by residing in the woods of Panchavati, near the sources of the river Godavari, a few miles from the modern city of Mumbai. He lived in peace with his wife and brother in the forest.

3. Hanuman Visits Sita

Ramayana
Hanuman meets Sita. Wikimedia.

Hanuman reaches Lanka in search of Sita. At first, he was unable to find Sita. He later saw a woman sitting in Ashok Vatika, drowned in her sorrows, looked extremely pale. He recognized her. After seeing the evil king, Ravana making her regular visit to Sita, he hid somewhere in the Vatika. After Ravana left, Hanuman proved Sita that he is Rama’s messenger by showing her his ring. He assured her that Rama would soon come to rescue her. Before leaving Lanka, he heckled Ravana. Agitated by Hanuman’s actions, Ravana ordered to set Hanuman’s tail on fire. With the burning tail, Hanuman set the entire city on fire.

 

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5 Events Of November Which Are Ideal For Family Vacations

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Events in November which will give you a vacation mood.
Events in November which will give you a vacation mood. Wikimedia.

As we approach the year’s end, Indians not just bid adieu to their summer outfits but also welcome the festival seasons. October and November are two months in India which are full of cultural events and festivals, which make these months, the ideal time for going on family vacations.

Below are the events of November 2017 which you will regret missing. They are worth the try for family vacations:

1.  Dev Deepavali, Varanasi

family vacations
Representational Image. The ghat of holy city Varanasi. 

Varanasi, the holiest city of India, celebrated Dev Deepavali on Kartik Poornima every year. The festival is celebrated with joy. The ghats of Varanasi are lit with beautiful diyas (earthen lamps). God is believed to have descended to the banks of Ganges, to take a holy dip. The festival will take place on November 3, 2017.

 2. Dharamsala International Film Festival

Filmmaker, cinema buffs or all those people interested in the art of films come together of Dharamsala International Film Festival (DIFF). This film festival will witness filmmakers coming from different regions to show films on various issues- socially relevant, contemporary etc. DIFF will take place from November 2 to November 5. If you are a movie buff, then you should immediately pack your bags and seal a date for attending the festival.

3. Pushkar Camel Fair, Rajasthan

Family vacations
Representational Image. Camel Fair is celebrated in Pushkar. Pixabay

Pushkar Camel fair, a cattle fair, in Pushkar which truly defines the real meaning of culture. The Pushkar Camel Fair has been in tradition for a very long time. The fair attracts a huge crowd every year. One of the most ideal and happy places for family vacations. It will take place between 23rd October to 4th November.

Also Read: 7 Beautiful Places To Visit In North East India

4. NH7 Weekender

The five seasons old Indian multi-city music festival has indeed garnered a lot of attention and love from the musically inclined youngsters across the country. It is a combination of national and international studies coming together. In Meghalaya, the event will take place from October 27 to October 28.

5. Guru Purab

family vacations
Sikhs celebrating Guru Purab. Wikimedia.

Guru Purab, one of the most important festivals for Sikhs. The golden temple celebrates it with a lot of joy. The celebration which Amritsar witnesses at this time are unbelievable. It will take place on November 2017. Golden temple is indeed one of the best places for family vacations.

-by Megha Acharya of NewsGram.  She can be reached at @ImMeghaacharya.