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Dussehra celebrated in Egypt in its myriad traditions

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Cairo: The vibrant Indian community in Egypt celebrated Dussehra on October 16. Over 600 persons attended the event, including several who traveled to Cairo from other cities like Alexandria, Port Said and Ismailia to join the celebrations.

The event was organized by the Indian Community Association of Egypt at the grounds of Maadi British International School in Cairo.

Indian Ambassador Sanjay Bhattacharyya conveyed Durga Puja, Navratri and Dussehra greetings to the Indian community. He congratulated them for having retained their strong traditions and for inculcating them in the children, who were present in large numbers and attired in colourful traditional costumes. He also welcomed the many Egyptians who were present to celebrate the beginning of the festive season in India and share the joyous mood.

The function commenced with the traditional lighting of the lamps by Ambassador Bhattacharyya and Mrs Ranu Bhattacharyya followed by a beautiful ‘aarti’ (invocation) of Goddess Durga.

Indian families as also Egyptians, who attended the function, came in colourful saris, ghagra-choli, kurtas and churidars and participated in the dandia and garba competition. Everyone was in a festive mood and the deejay kept the audience on their toes with traditional songs from different parts of the country. The Egyptian artistes from the Maulana Azad Centre for Indian Culture (MACIC), Cairo danced to the music of folk and traditional Hindi songs, adding a fresh dimension to the shared bonds between Egyptians and Indians.

As the night wore on and the dancing continued, families headed towards Indian food stalls with everyone there getting a full experience of the tastes of India.

(IANS)

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Bhai Boolchand-the Indian who launched trade with Ghana

The first Indian to arrive in the Gold Coast (Ghana's colonial name) in 1890 , Bhai Boolchand launched trade in India with Ghana

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Ghanian flag, Bhai Boolchand launched trade in India with Ghana.
Ghanian flag, Bhai Boolchand launched trade in India with Ghana. pixelbay
  • Bhai Boolchand, the anonymous Indian, is credited with starting trade between Ghana and India
  • The year was 1890.

Not much is known about him, but it has now emerged that trade relations between Ghana and Indiawere started by Bhai Boolchand, the first Indian to arrive in the Gold Coast — Ghana’s colonial name — in 1890. That’s some 67 years before the British colonial government granted the country independence, research by the Indian Association of Ghana has found.

“As far as our records show, Bhai Boolchand (of the Bhaiband Sindhworki trading community), landed on the shores of the Gold Coast in western Africa in 1890. Nearly twenty years later, in 1919, the first Sindhi company was established by two brothers — Tarachand Jasoomal Daswani and Metharam Jasoomal Daswani,” the Indian Association said.

The duo opened a store — Metharam Jassomal Brothers — in the then capital city of Cape Coast in 1919.

“Their business flourished and branches were opened in Accra and Kumasi. A few years later, the two brothers separated and whilst Bhai Metharam Jasoomal continued the business as Metharam Brothers, Tarachand Jasoomal operated his business as Bombay Bazaar. These were the first two Indian companies that were established in the Gold Coast,” the Association said.

Boolchand’s arrival, therefore, pre-dates the historical links between the two countries that were always thought to have started between Ghana’s first President, Kwame Nkruman, and India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Boolchand can thus be described as the one who paved the way for the arrival of other members of the Sindhi community, initially as traders and shopkeepers.

The Indian Association said more of this group arrived in the 1950s and 1960s, with a few venturing into manufacturing industries such as garments, plastics, textiles, insecticides, electronics, pharmaceuticals and optical goods.

The Association said two more Indian firms were established under the names of Lilaram Thanwardas and Mahtani Brothers in the 1920s. This trend continued in the 1930s and 1940s with the creation of several more Indian companies like T. Chandirams, Punjabi Brothers, Wassiamal Brothers, Hariram Brothers, K. Chellaram & Sons, G. Motiram, D.P. Motwani, G. Dayaram, V. Lokumal, and Glamour Stores.

Glamour Stores, which was stared by Ramchand Khubchandani who arrived in Ghana in 1929, has grown — after changing its name to Melcom Group — to become the largest retailing business in the country. The Melcom Group, headed by Ramchand’s son Bhagwan Khubchandani, is now in its 60th year and about 40 stores all over the country.

Ramchand and his brother later went into garment manufacturing in 1955 and once employed over 1,200 Ghanaians. They later opened the first Indian restaurant, Maharaja, in Ghana. Bhagwan followed in his father’s footsteps and in 1989 established the Melcom Group with his sons-in-law, Mahesh Melwani and Ramesh Sadhwani.

Another Indian-owned company that has survived through the years is the Mohanani Group, which is currently in its 51st year. At the first-ever Ghana Expatriate Business Awards, the Ministry of Trade and Industries recognised the work of one of the thriving Indian-owned B5 Plus Steel Company and awarded it the Best Expatriate Company in the metal and steel category.

As these companies brought in new expatriate staff, some left their employers to venture out on their own — resulting in more companies opening up.

“After 1947, the Gold Coast attracted the attention of some Indian multinational companies, and big names like Chanrai, Bhojsons, K.A.J. Chotirmal, Dalamals and A.D. Gulab opened branches in Ghana,” the Association said.

“The employment of Ghanaians by these founding companies also helped to lessen the burden of unemployment in the country. This amply demonstrates the level of commitment India has in the developmental agenda of Ghana,” it said.

Indians are not only investing in the manufacturing and commercial sectors of the country; they are also investing in the financial sector. Bank of Baroda, one of India’s biggest and most reputable banks, recently established a branch in Ghana and hopefully it will expand its operations in other parts of the country very soon. (IANS)

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Beatles, Apple, Facebook knew India more than Indians

Famous non-Indian celebrities know more about India and its past

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The Beatles once visited India to know more bout its past and culture.
The Beatles once visited India to know more bout its past and culture. Wikipedia

-By Salil Gewali

Facebook’s Chairman Mark Zuckerberg had dropped a bombshell on the “secularists” in India during PM Modi’s visit to his campus in California. It’s all about the Facebook connection with India. Initially, it was never a bed of roses for what is now a household name “FACEBOOK” across the world. This world-famous ‘social networking service company’ had its own share of bad times. Revealing for the first time in the meeting at the Facebook office upbeat Zuckerberg told PM Narendra Modi that Steve Jobs, the founder Chairman of Apple, had advised him to visit a certain temple in India for blessings. The revelation may have caused heartburn to many. More so in India where so-called secular and snooty folks have long acquired a proclivity to look down upon their own culture, religion, and values while being appreciative of any bizarre customs and styles of the West. Yes, heeding the advice of his mentor Steve Jobs the depressed Mark had visited the temple and toured around India for nearly a month.

Facebook's CEO tells about India.
Facebook’s CEO tells about India. wikipedia

Well, the American techno-wizard Steve Jobs had himself spent over six months in India in 1974. He was here in quest of the higher meaning of life and spiritual solace. As understood, from early age Steve was quite haunted by a good deal of unanswered questions. Of course, his encounter with a book “Be Here Now” by Richard Alpert, a Harvard Professor, had opened up a gateway to the spiritualism of the East. This book had also introduced him to a mystic Yogi ‘Neem Karoli Baba’. That later inspired Steve to set out the journey for the East. As soon as Steve and his friend Daniel Kottke arrived India they directly went to meet the Guru in Kainchi Dham Ashram in Nainital. But to their disappointment, they found the Baba had already passed away some months earlier. Nevertheless, the urge to dive deeper into the spiritualism did not die away. They shaved their heads and put on Indian clothes and undertook an extensive meditation and yogic practices.

The most significant impact that had made upon Steve’s life was a book “Autobiography of a Yogi”by Paramhansa Yogananda. It is on record that he would read this book too frequently, at least once every year until his death, 2011. This book had given him the practical insight into what exactly this world is about and how a layman can prepare himself to realize the Supreme knowledge. The first-hand account of a Yogi with empirical approaches to know oneself this book by Yogananda is a smash hit manual now among the seekers of the Eastern spiritualism.

Yes, by dint of hard work, intuition and innovation Steve stood out as one of the most successful techno-tycoons of the modern times. As much known, Jobs was hardly possessed by the luxury of riches and materialistic vanity. He just regarded his entrepreneurship as a tool to awaken his dormant potentialities. The chairman of Salesforce.com and famous philanthropist Marc Benioff says with conviction — “If you want to understand Steve, it’s a good idea to dig into ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’.” It is this book which Steve’s family had given to all the guests as a last gift at his memorial service.

Here we can’t afford to ignore the Beatle’s fascination for INDIA as well. The band members that were basking in the opulence of materialistic riches and glory visited India (Rishikesh) in search of inner peace. They met with Sri Maharshi Mahesh Yogi and learnt from him Transcendental meditation (TM) who laid bare methods to feel true bliss within. Sri Maharshi is a big name in the West having a huge following that includes celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, David Lynch, Russell Brand, Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Aniston, Modern physicist Dr. John Hagelin, to name a few. The Beatle’s Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr often assist a Hollywood Director/actor David Lynch to organize the Transcendental meditation under ‘David Lynch Foundation’ across USA and the European countries. George Harrison later took refuge in Bhakti Yoga. The founder of ISKCON Srila Prabhupada showed him the pathway to the Supreme Consciousness.

What basically pulls the rational westerners to India is less known to Indians themselves. It’s shamefully paradoxical. From early 19th Century, the philosophical literary treasure troves and Yoga of India found more admirers in the foreign lands than at home. Indeed, the philosophy of the “laws of karma” and the presence of all-power-divinity within every being and everywhere — which any human being can realize irrespective of one’s caste, creed, nationality, and color, has intensely stirred the greatest of the great minds of the West. The ancient texts hold out a whole bunch of keys to unlock oneself and know his/her relationship with the Supreme Being which in fact seems very reasonable to the West. Further, the complex studies of world-view by Modern scientists are gradually arriving at the same conclusion what the ancient sages of India expounded over five thousands year back that ‘creation and creator are ONE’. Interconnection, inter-relation and interdependence among every individual particle/object, living or non-living, in the infinite universe — which is the fundamental tenets of the Eastern philosophy, provided a new light of wisdom to the the modern physicists like Schrödinger, Heisenberg, Julius Oppenheimer, Brain David Josephson, David Bohm, John Stewart Bell et al.

Well, Indian’s contribution to the western academia is immeasurable — though deliberately undermined or less discussed in India itself. It’s very worthwhile to recall a famous proclamation by our western master whom we hold in the highest esteem. TS Eliot, one of the most celebrated poets of the 20th century, asserts: “Indian philosophers’ subtleties make most of the great European philosophers look like schoolboys”.

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’. Twitter @SGewali.

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Two ancient Tombs discovered at Luxor, Egypt

Egypt's antiquated history now has two more tombs to boast of

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Two ancient tombs discovered at Luxor, Egypt
Two ancient tombs have been discovered at Luxor, Egypt, Image Source: VOA News

Egypt is extremely popular for its sanctuaries and tombs traversing diverse traditions of antiquated Egyptian history and now the tombs in Luxor adds one more feather to Egypt’s beauty. The popularity of the Egyptian pyramids dates back to the three massive tombs of the Fourth Dynasty. Tombs and pyramids have always appeared fascinating in movies and stories with some intriguing facts and discoveries.

Egypt’s latest discovery to boost tourism, Image Source: VOA News
  • Located on the east bank of the Nile River, Luxor is a city in Southern Egypt. Recently, two small ancient tombs have been discovered in this city dating back to some 3,500 years. Situated on the west bank of the river Nile, the tombs are the freshest disclosure in the city.
  • Since the beginning of 2017, the Antiquities Ministry has made a series of disclosures in a few areas crosswise over Egypt including Luxor city — including the tomb of a regal goldsmith, in a similar territory and having a place with a similar line, whose work was devoted to the old Egyptian God Amun.
  • According to the ministry, one of the tombs has a courtyard lined with mud-brick and stone walls containing a six-meter yard prompting four side chambers. They further said the artefacts found inside were mostly fragments of wooden coffins. The paintings and wall inscriptions further advocate the origin of the tombs to the era between the reigns of King Amenhotep II and King Thutmose IV, the two monarchs of the 18th dynasty.
  • The other tomb consists of five entrances prompting a rectangular corridor containing two burial shafts situated in the southern and northern sides of the tomb.
Archaeologist works on repairing masks discovered in the tombs, Image Source: Quartz

The ministry further stated, among the relics found inside are funerary cones, painted wooden funerary covers, dirt vessels, a gathering of approximately 450 statues and a mummy wrapped in material who was likely the best. A cartouche cut on the roof bears the name of King Thutmose I of the mid-eighteenth line.

Antiques Minister, Khaled al-Anani said, it is truly an exceptional day as the private tombs from the 18th dynasty are quite familiar but this is the first time to enter inside these tombs.

Al-Anani said the revelations are a piece of the service’s endeavours to advance Egypt’s essential tourism industry, somewhat determined by artefacts touring, that was hit hard by fanatic assaults and political turmoil following the 2011 uprising.

Al-Anani then headed to an adjacent site where the renowned Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut is situated to open out of the blue the sanctuary’s primary asylum known as the “Holy of Holies.”

This news is sure to evoke a range of excitement among people worldwide. It would be right to say that Egypt has excavated two more sites for onlookers to explore and experience!