Thursday October 19, 2017

Nasik-Trimbakeshwar Simhastha Kumbh Mela 2015 begins

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Nashik: The Nasik-Trimbakeshwar Simhastha Kumbh Mela was inaugurated by Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in Nashik and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in Trimbakeshwar on Tuesday morning.

The inauguration was marked with poojas, hymns and traditional flag hoisting at both venues amidst tight security.

Fadnavis hoisted the flag in Nashik while Singh did the honours in Trimbakeshwar, both on the banks of the Godavari River, around 45 kms apart.

Several thousands of pilgrims, mendicants and holy men, officials from various departments and tourists will witness the dozenal event, which is held once in 12 years.

The inaugural was followed by thousands marching to the Godavari River for the first holy bath of Kumbh Mela 2015.

Nasik Kumbh Mela Schedule of Events

14th July 2015 (Tuesday): Flag hoisting of the main ceremony at Ram Kunda

14th August 2015 (Friday): Flag hoisting of the Akhara at Sadhugram

26th August 2015 (Wednesday): Shravan Shudha- First Snan

29th August 2015 (Saturday): Shravan Purnima – First Shahi Snan at Ram Kunda

13th September 2015 (Sunday): Bhadrapad Amavasya – Second Shahi Snan/ Main bathing day

18th September 2015 (Friday): Bhadrapad Shukla Panchmi (Rushipanchami) – Third Shahi Snan

25th September 2015 (Friday): Bhadrapad Shukla Dwadashi – Vaman Dwadashi Snan

 

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Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to start conservation work for the 17th century Sundarnarayan Temple

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Sundarnarayan Temple at Nashik in Maharashtra, India, Wikimedia

Nashik, May 8, 2017: The conservation work for the 17th century Sundarnarayan Temple will soon be initiated by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

In July 2015, the Aurangabad unit of ASI had started chemical conservation work after seeking permission for structural conservation. But realizing that removing the vegetation and chemically conserving the temple would not be sufficient because of the cracks in the stones which may loosen or give away in a couple of years, the team wrote to the district collector and the state archaeological department (Nashik branch) about the need for the temple’s structural conservation. Now, the work will be done in phases.

Shrikant Gharpure, Assistant Director of the Department of Archaeology, Maharashtra has recently said to TOI, “We will soon start with the first phase of the conservation. The superstructure (dome) will be dismantled step by step.”

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On July 13, administrative approval of Rs 4.51 crore and financial nod of Rs 2.50 crore has been given for the conservation.

Constructed in 1756 by “Sardar of Peshwas”, Gangadhar Yashwant Chandrachud, the Sundarnarayan temple is the crowning example of undying faith and everlasting devotion. One unique aspect of the temple is that it is built at such an angle,  that on 21st March, rays of the rising Sun first fall exactly upon the idols.
The superstructure is around 50-55 feet in height and needs immediate attention. “There will be no difference in the size,” said Gharpure.

The decoration, artwork, floral parts, carvings of gods and goddesses will be prepared in the same manner like the original one. It is made of basalt and black stone and faces the Godavari River. In its sanctum sanctorum, there are idols of deities such as Vishnu, Laxmi and Vrinda. Besides, it also house idols of other gods and goddesses. The raw material and stone will be brought from Deglur, Nanded and the lime to be brought from Gujarat.

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Gharpure also said, “the temple is at the centre of the city near Raviwar Karanja. We noticed that it had become dangerous and had to be restored to its original form immediately. In July last year, I met state cultural minister Vinod Tawde and told him about the situation. I have been following up the issue.”

It is furthermore estimated that the conservation work will take about two years to finish.

– prepared by Himanshi Goyal of Newsgram. Twitter handle- @Himanshi1104

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Kumbh Mela – Mapping the Ephemeral Mega-City: Harvard Publishes a Book on Hindu Festival

The Maha Kumbh Mela is a 55-day long confluence which is held periodically after every 12 years

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Harvard University has added prestige and importance to the Indian heritage by publishing ‘Kumbh Mela – Mapping the Ephemeral Mega-City,’ a book that details about the brilliance with which Maha Kumbh Mela of 2013 was organised.

The studies were carried out by a team of 50 professors and students at the South Asia Institute of Harvard to learn about what makes this temporarily built city of pilgrimage a “megacity.” The book was launched this year, in 2016, on August 1, mentioned the TOI report.

Swami Nithyananda during the Maha Kumbh Mela. Source: Wikimedia Commons
Swami Nithyananda during the Maha Kumbh Mela. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

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India is one of the most culturally and spiritually rich nations of the world, where Eid, Diwali, Christmas and all festivals are celebrated with great zeal. With some celebrations lasting for days and months, the Kumbh Mela is a mass pilgrimage of Hindu devotees that take a dip in the sacred rivers to wash off their sins. The Maha Kumbh Mela is a 55-day long confluence which is held periodically after every 12 years.

Special fleet services during the mela. Source: Wikimedia Commons
Special fleet services during the mela. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

According to the TOI report, this 449-page book contains town planners, architectural and infrastructural plans of bigger cities than the mela, which locates the Kumbh Mela as a better-organised spectacle than Manhattan and FIFA World Cup held in Brazil in 2014. The book calls the confluence ‘more than mere a spectacle.’

“How more than 100 million come to a small place, stay there for 55 days, apart from a daily cycle of a crowd of nearly five million bathing at the confluence of the holy rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati, meet each other, pray, join their gurus, camp with sadhus and ascetics and safely return to their native places are the things worth studying.”

– ‘KumbhMela- Mapping the Ephemeral Mega-City’

Electric water scooters for emergency equipments Source: Wikimedia Commons
Electric water scooters for emergency equipments. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

  • The Kumbh Mela of 2013 was organised in Allahabad under the government of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. Yadav launched the Hindi translation of the book in Lucknow on Monday, August 1.
  • 390 million of total calls and messages were sent and received over the period of the mela making it the largest usage of mobile phones in a concentrated area.
  • Total 146 million messages were exchanged and over 245 million calls were made.

prepared by Chetna Karnani, at NewsGram. Twitter: @karnani_chetna

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Maiden Entry of Kinnar Akhara grabs the Spotlight at Ujjain Kumbh

The transgender community is fighting against discrimination for ages and they seek acceptance and recognition and want to be part of the society

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Lakshmi Tripathi, the mahamandaleshwar, or great leader of the Kinnar Akhara. Image Source: Scroll.in[ Punit Reddy]
  • The Simhastha or Kumbh Mela at Ujjain saw a gathering of thousands of devotees lined up to seek the blessings of the transgender community, Kinnar Akhara
  • Kinnar can be understood as Kin-nar which means what-men and is the closest Sanskrit word for transgender
  • While some of the existing 13 Akharas are struggling to find devotees, the newly formed Kinnar Akhara has received an overwhelming response with thousands of people 

With over 100 million participants, the Kumbh Mela festival in India is the world’s largest congregation of religious pilgrims. By washing themselves in the sacred rivers, the Hindu pilgrims and sadhus believe to be cleansed of all their sin and liberated from the cycle of life, death and rebirth. The Simhastha or Kumbh Mela at Ujjain saw a gathering of thousands of devotees lined up to seek the blessings of the transgender community, Kinnar Akhara.

The Kumbh Mela is held once every three years at Haridwar, Prayag, Nashik and Ujjain. The venue is decided based on planetary movements and it is believed that the event marks the time when the river waters gain the power of amrita(the nectar of immortality) churned by devas (celestial forces) and asuras (subterranean forces) from the ocean of milk. The waters are believed to have the power to rid of all the sins acquired in one’s life so that he can start his life once again.

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The holy men, popularly known as Naga Babas are the first to bathe in these waters. The Babas or mendicants belong to one of 13 akharas, or ascetic orders. The scroll.in report says that the term naga probably originated from the word nanga, or naked, for they are digambaras – which means sky-clad, a metaphor for naked. The shahi-snan, or the royal bath of the babas, is the highlight of the Kumbh Mela. The bodies of the Naga Babas are usually smeared with ash, which is believed to contain a spiritual power born of celibacy. The ash mingles with the water, thereby lending to it this power. Only after these holy men have bathed do devotees jump into the water, cited the Scroll.in report.

A transgender from the Kinnar Akhara at Ujjain Kumbh. Image source: Punit Reddy

Kinnar can be understood as Kin-nar which means what-men and is the closest Sanskrit word for transgender. An akhara is a place of practice with facilities for boarding, lodging and training either used by Indian martial artists or a monastery for religious renunciates. The akhara members, the babas, are aligned to various schools of Hinduism such as Shaivism and Vaishnavism. There are Sikh akharas too. The akharas are either astradharis (those who bear weapons) or shastradharis (those who bear scriptures), says the Scroll.in report.

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According to the Scroll.in report, while some of the existing 13 Akharas are struggling to find devotees, the newly formed Kinnar Akhara has received an overwhelming response with thousands of people falling at the feet of the transgenders led by Lakshmi Tripathi, who was declared the mahamandaleshwar of this spiritual gymnasium. As they were seen as a subversive group, rather than a traditional one, they were denied the right to take part in shahi snan. So, they took out their own procession, the Peshwai, with horses and camels, and even took a bath on their own terms.

“We thought we won’t be accepted here because we are generally discriminated against, but people not only welcomed us, they showered money and devotion on us,” Pavitra, who belongs to the Kinnar Akhara, told The Indian Express.

The transgender community has been fighting against discrimination since ages. They seek acceptance and recognition and want to be part of the society. The public support at the Kumbh Mela has not only made them happy but has also sparked a hope of complete assimilation into the society.

-This article is compiled by a staff-writer at NewsGram.

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