Tuesday January 16, 2018

New Year celebrations in India: Another example of rich diversity

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By Nithin Sridhar

January first is widely celebrated across the world as the beginning of the New Year. This date for the New Year is according to the Gregorian (or English) calendar instituted by Pope Gregory in 1582 CE. Thus, this Gregorian New Year is a Christian observation, which though has been widely adopted in many countries, yet many non-Christian nations and cultures follow their own New Year dates as well.

Chinese celebrate their new year (called as Nian) according to their own Lunar Calendar and it usually falls in February of the English Calendar. The Iranians celebrate Nowruz, according to the ancient Persian calendar, which usually falls on March 20/21. Similarly, the Islamic countries observe Hijri New Year according to Islamic Calendars and Israel observes Rosh Hashanah, both of which fall in the first week of October.

But, perhaps it is in India alone, one can find the largest diversity in the dates observed as the beginning of a New Year as well as the manner in which they are celebrated. Apart from celebrating January 1, Indians celebrate at least six other dates as New Year. These dates are calculated according to different astronomical considerations based on different regional calendars.

The reformulated Saka Calendar, which was adopted as the Indian National Calendar after India’s independence, observes March 22 of the English Calendar as the first day of the year. This calendar is based on the coronation of Shalivahana king in the 78 CE and though it has been adopted as an official civil calendar, it is not used by the people in the observation of their festivals, etc. Instead, people in South India largely use traditional Shalivahana Calendar (which also starts with 78 CE) where the beginning of the year is calculated using astronomical calculations.

Apart from this, different regions have different Calendars. Thus, Odias follow Odia Calendar, Bengalis follow Bengali Calendar, Gujarati’s follow Gujarati Calendar, and people from Tamil Nadu and Kerala follow Tamil and Malayalam calendars. Just as traditional Shalivahana Calendar is widespread in South India, Vikram Samvat Calendar is widespread in North India. This calendar was established by King Vikramaditya in 56 BC after his victory over the Sakas.

The Gujarati New Year, which is observed on the Sukla Pratipada (1st day in the bright fortnight) in the month of Kartika, is according to the beginning of the year in Vikrama Samvat Calendar. The Vikrama Calendar begins in Kartika month that falls in October/November as against traditional Salivahana Calendar or the Indian National Calendar where the year starts in the Chaitra month (i.e. March/April). Thus, the Gujarati New Year is celebrated a day after Diwali and in 2016, it will fall on October 31.

But, in the Kutch region of Gujarat, the New Year is celebrated on the second day of the bright fortnight in the month of Ashada, which in 2016 will fall on July 6.

Apart from Gujarat, most other regions celebrate the first day of the year during the beginning of the month of Chaitra (that falls in March/April), which marks the beginning of spring season. Though, the beginning of Chaitra has been fixed as March 22 in the Indian National Calendar, it is not used for religious purposes. Instead, the beginning of the Chaitra month is calculated based on either traditional Shalivahana Calendar, which is a Luni-Solar calendar, or based on regional Solar calendars.

The Solar Calendar’s rely only on the movements of the Sun for their calculations. On the other hand, Luni-Solar calendars take into account the movements of the Moon along with that of Sun. Thus, there two different dates arrive for the beginning of the month of Chaitra that forms the New Year according to these calendars. In 2016, for example, the Luni-solar New Year begins on April 8 and Solar New Year begins on April 13/14.

Thus, Karnataka, Andra Pradesh, Telangana, and Maharashtra, which follow Luni-Solar calendars celebrate New Year on April 8. The festival associated with the day is called as ‘Ugadi’ in Karnataka, Andra Pradesh, and Telangana, and as ‘Gudi-Padwa’ in Maharashtra. The Sindhis celebrate ‘Cheti Chand’, Rajasthani Marwaris celebrate ‘Thapna’ and Kashmiris observe ‘Navreh’ on the same day as well.

On the other hand, the Tamil ‘Puthandu’ and the Bengali ‘Naba Barsha’ have fallen on April 14; and the Odia ‘Pana Sankranti’ and Punjabi New Year ‘Baisaki’ have fallen on April 13. Kerala celebrates New Year on two days. The traditional New Year according to the Malayalam calendar starts with the month of Chingam, which will fall on August 17. However, many Keralites, especially in Malabar area, observe ‘Vishu’ which falls on April 14 this year as the New Year.

Thus, the presence of a large number of Solar, Lunar, and Luni-Solar calendars and their deep connection with the religious festivals and practices, has resulted in Indians of different regions celebrating New Year on different days. This diversity, along with the diversity in the way various festivals associated with the New Year are celebrated, demonstrates a rich culture and heritage of this nation.

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10 Bollywood movies to binge watch in 2018

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10 Bollywood movies to binge watch in 2018
10 Bollywood movies to binge watch in 2018. IANS

Mumbai, Jan 2, 2018: Like every year, a lot of films are ready to hit the screens in 2018. So, know where to put your money.

Here’s a list of must-see Bollywood films this year:

* “Pad Man”: On January 26, it’s Akshay Kumar, and no one else. I will put my money on this heart-warming saga of Arunachalam Muruganantham, the man who manufactured economical sanitary napkins even at the risk of being belittled.

Here is another man-of-the-masses part for the ever-enterprising actor who never shies away from seeming less than heroic because he knows that the true hero is the one who dares to venture into the unknown even at the risk of stumbling and falling.

“Pad Man” is directed by one of my favourites R. Balki who courts the quirky with compelling credibility.

In “Shamitabh”, it was the Big B giving voice to mute star Dhanush. In “Ki & Ka”, a working wife gets herself a happy house-husband. In “Pad Man”, gender-sensitisation reaches the cyclic level. Yes, it’s that time of the month.

* “Sonu Ki Titu Ki Sweety”: Luv Ranjan is a director who gets into the head and the bed of the young without acting like a twit of a director. His remarkable proclivity for youthful candour is in full view in this wackily-titled rom-com where Sonu’s (Kartik Aaryan) over-possessive best friend Titu (Sunny Singh) gets a girlfriend Sweety (Nushrat Bharucha). It’s a lip-smacking bromance versus romance on February 9.

* “Hichki”: For my money and time, Rani Mukerji doing the role of a teacher with a neurological disability is just what the doctors prescribed. This official remake of a little-known American film “Front Of The Class” is the kind of inspirational story we all need in our lives. Release date is February 23.

* Sanjay Dutt’s biopic: Ranbir Kapoor playing Sanjay Dutt in a film directed by Raj Kumar Hirani is not quite my idea of an inspirational biopic. Nonetheless, this one is of interest for us to know what mistakes one can make in the journey of life. So this can be taken as an inspirational film in reverse. Verdict is on March 30.

* “October”: Titled “October” but releasing in April. A Shoojit Sircar film by any name or in any month smells just as sweet. Sircar teams up with the most successful star of 2017 (not counting Salman Khan) — Varun Dhawan — for what the director describes as the most unusual love story. We can’t wait for April 13.

* “Veere Di Wedding”: The sheer joy of watching a gallery of interesting female actors navigated by Kareena Kapoor Khan and Sonam Kapoor is enough reason to give this ‘chic-flick’ a run for its money. Release date is May 18.

* “Fanne Khan”: A famous singer played by Aishwarya Rai Bachchan kidnapped by the father (Anil Kapoor) of a wannabe singer — an extremely unusual premise and a solid project to bring together Aishwarya and Anil Kapoor after “Taal”. Directed by debutant Atul Manjrekar, this remake of a Belgian film promises something unusual. Release date is June 15.

* “Gold”: If Akshay Kumar owns Republic Day, he also exercises a quasi-copyright over the Independence Day week. On August 15, comes “Gold”, a film recreating India’s historic win for hockey at the 1948 Olympics.

Reema Kagti’s film would be a fictional take on what actually happened. The game of hockey would feature prominently in the plot. But there will also be strong human drama playing at the forefront. And it wouldn’t be just the Olympics victory in 1948 we will be looking at. “Gold” will look at 12 crucial years in India’s history. Wow! Can’t wait!!

* “Super 30”: Not kicked by Vikas Bahl’s directorial abilities after seeing the mess he made in “Shaandaar”. But it would be interesting to see the life of the maths genius Anand kumar brought to life on screen by Hrithik Roshan who hasn’t done a biopic before. Releasing on November 23.

* “Zero”: Aanand L. Rai gets together with Shah Rukh Khan for a game changer this Christmas. Crucial for SRK who needs a clutter-breaker. Releasing on December 21.

And of course, Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s “Padmavat(i)”. (IANS)