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India celebrates Makar Sankranti

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New Delhi: Makar Sankranti, an Indian festival was celebrated in many parts of India and Nepal. It is a harvest festival which is basically celebrated in the Hindu communities. In India, the states of Bihar, Bengal, Punjab, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu celebrate the festival with great fervor and zeal.

In Tamil Nadu the festival is known as Pongal, in Assam as Bhogali Bihu, in Punjab, as Lohiri, in Gujarat and Rajasthan, as Uttararayan.

Makar Sankranti marks the transition of the sun into the zodiacal sign of Makara (Capricon). It is that one day when the duration of the day and night are of equal durations and after this day, the days become longer and the nights shorter. It also marks the arrival of spring in India. It is one of the few festivals which falls on the same Georgian calendar date every year i.e. 14 January, with few exceptions when it comes on 15 January 2016 being one of them.

Makar Sankranti is a blissful festival celebrated by Hindus. All enthusiasts step out of their houses and enjoy flying kites. Colourful kites fill the sky on the auspicious day of Sankranti. The significance of Makar Sankranti is greater in Maharashtra. People send greeting cards to their friends and relatives. The day is started by offering prayers to various deities. People visit temples to bow their heads in front of supreme power.(Inputs from Purti Kalra)(Image-makarsankranti.co)

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Diwali Puja 2017: Everything You Need To Know About Timings, Muhurat

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Ganesh-Lakshmi are worshipped
Ganesh-Lakshmi are worshipped by devotees on the day of Diwali. Pixabay

New Delhi, October 18, 2017: Diwali is around the corner and everyone is busy with the preparations. On the eve of Diwali, the most important ritual is to perform Ganesh-Lakshmi Puja during the right muhurat (time) and with the right rituals(vidhi).

Here are some of the things you must take care of:

Ganesh-Lakshmi Puja Rituals

It is important that on the day of Diwali, you wake up early in the morning and pay homage to your ancestors and worship gods of your family. It is advised to observe a day-long-fast until the Ganesh-Lakshmi puja is performed in the evening.

Kalash pujan
Ganesh-Lakshmi Puja kalash. Wikimedia

Preparations For Ganesh-Lakshmi Puja

Families can embellish their home and office with Asoka and Marigold flowers, banana and mango leave on the day of the puja. Mangal Kalash covered with unpeeled coconut should be placed at both side of the main entrance of your house.

For puja preparation, place at the right hand side a red cloth on a hoisted platform and put in idols of Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesh on it after gracing them with jewellery and clothes. Once this is done, Navgraha gods must be placed on the left hand side on a hoisted platform under white cloth. Prepare carefully nine slots of Akshata (unbroken rice) for placing Navgraha on white cloth and sixteen slots of wheat must prepared for the red cloth. You should perform puja with all the important rituals.

Idols of Ganesh-lakshmi are being worshipped on the eve of Diwali. Wikimedia

Timings (Muhurat) for Lakshmi Puja

Pradosh Kaal muhurat is the time during which puja needs to be performed. It starts after sunset and lasts for about 2 hours and 24 minutes. Goddess Lakshmi will stay in your home if you perform Lakshmi puja in the Pradosh Kaal when it is Sthir Lagna time. Sthir refers to ‘immovable.’  Before you do the puja, make sure you find out Pradosh Kaal (time) for your city or area. It is important that you know the right time to perform the puja.

– prepared by Siddheshwar Sharma. Twitter: @MancSiddheshwar

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

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Diwali
Deepawali 2017: 19th october'2017
  • Deepawali or Diwali is the biggest and the brightest of all Hindu festivals.
  • Diwali or Deepawali is the festival of lights: “Deep+awali”: deep means “light” and awali “a row,” so, deepawali means “a row of lights”.
  • Diwali is marked by four days of celebration, which literally illuminates the country with its brilliance and dazzles all with its joy.
  • The Diwali festival occurs in late October or early November. It falls on the 15th day of the Hindu month, Kartik, so it varies every year.

About Diwali:

Diwali (Deepawali) is considered to be the most significant festival in India. It symbolizes the victory of good over evil and the power of  light over darkness. The preparations of Diwali starts days before in which people clean their houses and offices and decorate them with lights and Diyas ( oil lamps) .

When is Diwali? – Diwali 2017 falls on 19th October 2017

Significance of Diwali

Diwali marks the homecoming of Lord Rama with his wife Sita after killing the evil king Ravana. He was sent to 14 – year – exile by his father, King Dushrath during which he was wandering in forests and villages of India. On this special occasion of his return to ayodhaya, the capital of Lord Rama, people decorated the whole kingdom with oil lamps and busted crackers with joy.

Diwali Celebrations and Rituals

On this auspicious occasion of diwali people welcome goddess Laxmi in their houses by lighting traditional earthen Diyas ( oil lamps) , making colorful rangoli , decorating house with flowers  and placing paduka (footsteps of goddess Laxmi)  at the entrance. Also there is a tradition of exchanging gifts and sweets with friends and family and donating food and goods to the needy. People wear new clothes and prepare tasty sweets and food delicacies at their home. At night Laxmi Puja takes place for the wealth and prosperity in the house after which people go outside to fire crackers and enjoy the festival.

Special Recipe to Serve on Diwali

With the joy of festival and stress free work schedules we often forget to keep check on our weight and calorie intake. And thanks to the goodies we receive and sweets which we make at home containing loads of sugar. To avoid the unnecessary weight gain and calories , here is a mouthwatering yet low calorie recipe of Oats Laddu which you can easily prepare at home this Diwali.

Ingredients:

  • Dates – ½ Cup
  • Oats – ¼ Cup
  • Cashew nuts – ¼ Cup
  • Almonds – ¼ Cup
  • Dry Coconut – ¼ Cup (shredded)
  • Powdered Sugar as per taste
  • Green Cardamom Powder – ½ tsp
  • Ghee as required

Preparation:

  1. Remove seeds from dates and chop them.
  2. Dry roast oats, cashew nuts and almonds, shredded coconut separately.
  3. Coarsely grind dates, oats, cashew nuts and almonds separately.
  4. Heat pan and add 1 tbsp ghee.
  5. Now add ground oats, cashew nuts, almonds, shredded coconut, green cardamom powder. Mix well and cook for 2-3 minutes on slow flame. Stir continuously.
  6. When the mixture starts to come together switch off the flame.
  7. Transfer the mixture into the large mouth bowl and add powdered sugar and some ghee (if required for binding). Mix well and allow this mixture to cool down.
  8. Shape the mixture into small balls like laddu and serve.

 

Gift Ideas for Diwali

There is an old tradition of exchanging gifts on Diwali with our family and friends as it adds to the happiness of our loved ones. Here are some of the unique gift items which you can gift to your close ones:

Personalized gift items: Colorful earthen pots, diyas, mugs and cushions designed with your choice of painting and colors can be a cool gift for your friends and family.

 Diwali cupcakes: Sweet with a message can be a unique gift for your loved ones. You can gift a box of cupcakes with Diwali theme running through them to your friends.

Online gift vouchers: You can gift your friends online shopping gift vouchers of leading online shopping portals like Amazon , Flipkart , Snapdeal , Jabong and many others to treat them with gift products of their own choice.

Prepared by Pragya Mittal | Twitter @PragyaMittal05

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India Demands Data on UN Staff Misconduct, Use of Immunity

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United nations
India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about misconduct by UN staff. Flickr

United Nations, Oct 7: In an attempt to break the wall of silence around the crimes and UN staff misconduct and those on its assignments, India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about such cases and the immunity invoked against prosecutions.

Yedla Umasankar, the legal advisor in India’s UN Mission, touched a raw nerve here by criticising the UN on Friday for not vigorously following up allegations of serious wrongdoing by its employees who enjoy the equivalent of diplomatic immunity, a prized possession of its staff.

“It appears that the UN system itself may be reluctant to waive immunity even for serious misconduct carried out by its personnel while serving on its missions, so that such cases can be prosecuted by the host governments,” he told the General Assembly’s committee on legal affairs.

“Even a few of such instances or allegations of crimes committed by UN personnel is highly damaging for the image and credibility of the United Nations system and its work around the world,” he added.

His statement also touched on the practice of some countries that protect their wrongdoers at the UN.

Umasankar demanded that secretariat disclose how many cases of serious misconduct by UN personnel were registered and the number of cases where the UN refused to waive immunity to allow their prosecution.

He also wanted to know in how many cases the host country wanted the immunity waived so it can prosecute those accused; the number of times the UN asked the host country or the country that sent them to prosecute them; how many times it consulted countries before waiver of the immunity of their personnel and how many of them refused UN’s request to waive their citizens’ immunity.

The information he wanted does not cover the diplomats sent by member countries to represent them at UN bodies and enjoy diplomatic immunity with the nations hosting the UN facilities.

After scores of serious allegations of sexual misconduct by peacekeepers, especially exploitation of children, the UN vowed to uphold a policy of zero tolerance and began publishing data on such cases in peacekeeping operations including how they were dealt with.

Starting with the year 2015, it began identifying the nationalities of those accused.

However, it has not made public a roster detailing all the allegations and proven cases of serious misconduct across the entire UN.

While the focus has been on sexual exploitation and abuse reported on peacekeeping operations, Umasankar said that “at a broader level, the issue of accountability has remained elusive in some cases”.

He attributed it to “the complexities of legal aspects relating to sovereignty and jurisdiction”, the immunity or privileges that may be necessary for UN operations, and the capability or willingness of countries to investigate and prosecute the accused.

He noted that the UN itself cannot make criminal prosecutions.

While Indian laws has provisions for dealing with crimes committed abroad by its citizens, not all countries have them, he said.

Those countries should be encouraged and helped to implement such measures, he added. (IANS)