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By Nithin Sridhar
‘Vivaha’ i.e. marriage is a sacred bond, a commitment between two people who take a vow to pursue their desires, dreams, and duties together. And Hinduism, which has always upheld Grihasta ashrama (the stage of marriage) as one of the most important stages in society, cherishes this beautiful bond by celebrating every year the ‘Vivaha’ of Lord Rama and Devi Sita.
Every year the festival, which is named as ‘Vivaha Panchami’, is observed on the fifth day of the bright fortnight of Margashirsha month. This year the day has fallen on December 16, i.e. today.
Lord Rama is called as ‘Dharma Murti’ (the symbol of righteousness/duty) by Maharishi Valmiki in Ramayana. The Hindu tradition has always looked up to Rama as an epitome of the best in humans- as a King, as a son, as a brother, and of course as a Husband.
But, in modern times, Rama’s treatment of Sita has been seriously questioned and severely criticized by many liberals, feminists, and even common Hindus. In view of such criticism, the celebration of Rama’s marriage to Sita as ‘Vivaha Panchami’ may appear as incorrect or without any meaning, or downright misogynist to many people.
Thus, it becomes very vital to examine the life of Rama and his relationship with Sita especially in the context of Rama’s actions that have been criticized.
There is nothing wrong per se in questioning and criticizing, but an analysis of the past, especially the judgment of morality of characters from the past should never be done by imposing current notions of morality on the past. Such, impositions of our own pre-conceived notions without taking into account the essence and worldview of the scriptures which speak about a particular incident will almost always result into distortions.
The criticism of Rama’s treatment of Sita is on two counts: One, after the slaying of Ravana, Rama did not go straight away to meet Sita. He, instead, made her prove her purity by ‘Agni Pariksha’ (trial by fire). Two, Rama abandoned a pregnant Sita in the forest because some of his subjects raised questions about her character.
These two actions of Rama have been used to portray Rama as a bad husband and a misogynist. Further, Sita is portrayed as a submissive woman who is forced to follow her husband’s whims and fancies. But it is conveniently ignored that Rama went to war with Ravana for saving Sita and that Rama never married again even after sending Sita to the forest. In fact, he conducted Yajna’s with an idol of Sita beside him.
Also Read: Marriage is a commitment, not contract
Let us, for a moment, forget that Rama was an avatara of Lord Vishnu. As far as Valmiki Ramayana is concerned, Rama perceives himself just as a Man. But, the Ramayana tells that he was such a man whose every action was taken after examining all available paths and the righteousness of each path. He tried to stick to his duties even in the most difficult situation despite enormous sufferings he had to face.
Now, coming to the episode of Agni-Pariksha, a careful reading of Valmiki Ramayana shows that it was Sita, who said she would enter the fire and not Rama (Yuddha Khanda 116.18-19). Though, Rama did not stop it and, in fact, allowed it to happen, it is wrong to say that he specifically asked her to enter the fire.
In any case, the question to be asked is, why did Rama allow Sita to enter fire? Does it show that Rama doubted her character?
In answer to the second question, Rama himself has given a clear ‘No’. In Yuddha Khanda 118.13-20, Rama explicitly stated that he knew that Sita is without blemish and no one can violate her. He has repeated this statement that he never doubted Sita again and again.
But, he adds, as if in answer to the first question, that Sita was allowed to go through Agni-Pariksha because otherwise people would have questioned her character as well as his decision to accept her. He further adds that she deserved to be proven innocent and without faults in front of the whole world.
Thus, his actions were not only guided by the fact that he was about to become a King and Kings do not have the privilege of ‘privacy’ and have a duty to be morally unquestionable, but also by his desire to show to the world that his wife is innocent and hence, no person should ever raise a finger against her. Rama was simply trying to do his duty as a husband as well as his duty as a future King. The episode can serve as the best example of nuanced and deep love which do not always become obvious.
The fact that after the Agni-Pariksha, when Sita heard Rama’s explanations, instead of refusing to go back to Rama, she was happily united with him, establishes beyond doubt that Sita did not view Rama’s actions as misogynist, instead she clearly understood the compulsions and subtle love that made Rama act the way he did. Rama, in fact, calls Sita as being non-different from him, the way sunlight is non-different from the Sun which again goes to show his deep commitment and love for Sita.
Another issue raised regarding the Agni-Pariksha episode is that it portrays Sita as meek and submissive to her husband. Sita was no doubt a dedicated wife, but she was by no means meek or submissive. This is clearly brought forward in the chapter 117 of the same section, where Sita criticizes Rama’s behavior towards her. She boldly calls out the wrong treatment being meted out to her, though she was without fault. Sita was so self-confident and assertive that she decided to enter the fire to prove her innocence.
Now coming to the episode when Rama abandoned Sita when some people in his kingdom raised doubts over her chastity. The episode is a fine example of what is called as ‘Dharma-sankata’, wherein a person sees himself in a situation where various duties clashes and no path is completely right.
Rama could have simply ignored the citizens’ questions about Sita’s chastity and his acceptance of her as his wife. But then the rumors would have spread like fire and defamed Sita. Further, many people would have misused it to justify their own acts of cheating and adultery. As a husband, Rama could not allow his wife to be defamed like that and as a king, he could not allow adultery to be accepted as a virtue especially by wrongly quoting Rama-Sita as an example.
Rama could have punished all those people who questioned their queen’s character, but then he would be called as an oppressor who oppressed his people! Rama loved his citizens, he never wanted to cause suffering to them on his account. So, he obviously did not choose it.
Rama could have simply abandoned his Kingdom and went away with Sita to the forest. But then it would have meant that he abandoned his own children because a King is like a father to his subjects. A King’s duty towards his citizens always comes before other duties just as a father’s duties towards his sons and daughters comes before other duties. Would Sita, who was well versed in Vedas and Dharma, have approved of such abandonment of duty by Rama for her sake? It is highly unlikely.
Rama could have called Sita and asked her to take another Agni-Pariksha. But, this would have been an insult to his wife, whom he loved dearly. So, instead of taking any of the above-mentioned options wherein he would have either abandoned his duty as King, or caused insult to Sita, he took the path which caused him, and Sita, enormous personal suffering, but it neither insulted Sita nor caused abandonment of his Kingly duties.
Thus, Rama’s act of leaving Sita near Valmiki’s hermitage was not an act of misogyny. It was an act of supreme sacrifice, wherein he chose to suffer from pangs of separation from Sita and subjected Sita- his better half to such a suffering as well. The love and bond between Rama and Sita remained intact despite their separation. This is clearly established by the fact that Rama never married another woman and he kept a golden statue of Sita with him and Sita never taught her children to hate their father.
The relationship between Rama and Sita should not be perceived in black and white. Life is not black and white. Their life, just as ours in today’s society, had many complications and difficult situations. Rama took the decision he perceived as the best among the various options available to him at that time. He was always united with Sita in his heart and Sita with Rama.
This unity in the hearts and minds despite physical separation or innumerable challenges and obstacles posed by life is the ultimate ideal of ‘Vivaha’ and this is what should be remembered and celebrated by everyone, especially the couples during ‘Vivaha Panchami’.
Heinz has just rolled out a new product that the condiment company says is the "biggest innovation in sauce since the packet itself." Earlier this month, the world's largest producer of ketchup announced the Packet Roller, a ketchup bottle-shaped gadget that allows users to squeeze the most out of a condiment packet, CNN reported.
"Do not click 'purchase' unless you are prepared to change everything about the way you sauce," the Heinz Packet Roller website says. The roller goes for $5.70. The roller is pocket-sized, can be added to a keychain, and features a packet corner cutter.
Heinz has just rolled out a new product that the condiment company says is the "biggest innovation in sauce since the packet itself | Flickr
This announcement could be part of the fast-tracked, "future-focused culinary and packaging innovations" that Steve Cornell, president of Kraft Heinz's US grocery business unit, hinted at earlier this year amid a shortage of ketchup. A surge in takeout and delivery food orders during the pandemic led to a scarcity of ketchup packets, the report said.
In April, Heinz pledged to increase production of ketchup by 25 per cent to 12 billion packets annually. "Gone are the days of fumbling with ketchup packets, pants ruined by mustard disasters, and minutes taken off your life trying to get to the bottom of that mayo packet. With the patent-pending Heinz Packet Roller, what was once taxing becomes simple -- just snip and roll to squeeze out every drop of your sauce of choice," the website says
Keywords: Heinz, Packet roller, sauce, company, ketchup
Swiss tennis ace Roger Federer, who is recovering from a right-knee surgery he underwent last month, said on Sunday that it was a difficult process to decide whether to undergo a third right-knee surgery after having two last year. But following Wimbledon, where he was "really unhappy" with his performance in reaching the quarterfinals, Federer opted to go through with it.
Federer, who made a late decision to attend this year's Laver Cup in Boston -- a tournament held between teams from Europe and the rest of the world -- said on the sidelines of the event that the recovery and rehabilitation are "going to take me a few more months and then we'll see how things are at some point next year". "The reception I've received, everybody is so upbeat that I'm here. They wish me all the best and they don't even see the crutches. They just want me to be good again and enjoy the weekend," Federer said in an interview for the event with former world No. 1 Jim Courier.
"I've seen some incredible tennis, some great matches and it's been wonderful. I'm really happy I made the trip," the winner of 20 majors was quoted as saying by atptour.com. On why he opted for a third surgery, the tennis ace said, "I was just nowhere near where I wanted to be to play at the top, top level. But I tried my best and at the end... too much is too much. Now I've just got to take it step by step," Federer said.
Federer received thunderous ovations inside Boston's TD Garden, where he has often been sitting in the front row watching the action or behind the scenes visiting with the players. | Wikimedia Commons
"I've got to first walk again properly, run properly and then do the sidesteps and all the agility work and then eventually I've got to be back on the tennis court. But it's going to take me a few more months and then we'll see how things are at some point next year. "I've got to take my time. I don't want to rush into anything at this point. This is also for my life. I want to make sure I can do everything I want to do later on. There's no rush with anything, so I'm actually in a really good place. I think the worst is behind me. I took the time and, I don't know, I'm just really in a good place. I'm really happy."
Federer received thunderous ovations inside Boston's TD Garden, where he has often been sitting in the front row watching the action or behind the scenes visiting with the players. The former world No. 1 has played in the first three editions of the Laver Cup. "I think Boston is a great city. The stadium is wonderful, the crowds have been incredible. Both teams are stacked with absolute quality and top players," Federer said. "That's what the idea was behind it: that everybody could come together, have the most incredible weekend, learn from one another and then hopefully that's going to inspire them, motivate them and get them going for the rest of this year, next year." (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Roger Federer, tennish, player, sports, knee, surgery
By Hitesh Rathi
Cleopatra, was regarded as a great beauty, to preserve her skin, she took her daily bath in donkey milk. Besides, Hippocrates, the father of medicine, prescribed donkey milk for various diseases including fever, wounds, etc. To add to these benefits, donkey milk has four times the amount of Vitamin C than cow's milk has. So, it's no secret that donkey milk is a powerhouse of nutrients for both the skin and body.
Used for Anti-Ageing and Healing
The milk contains essential fatty acids that work as powerful anti-ageing and healing properties. These fatty acids blur the wrinkles on the skin and help to regenerate damaged skin. Plus, donkey milk also contains anti-bacterial properties which are effective in healing skin irritation and redness.
The milk contains essential fatty acids that work as powerful anti-ageing and healing properties.| Flickr
Antioxidant and Nutrient-Rich
Known as a "natural elixir of youth", donkey milk is packed with antioxidants and nutrients. It contains vitamin E, amino acids, vitamins A, B1, B6, C, E, Omega 3, and 6. These properties together make it a rich ingredient when it comes to skin treatment. Moreover, vitamin D is another important ingredient for human skin, and the primary source to get it is through UV exposure. At the same time, too much of that leaves an adverse effect on the skin. Here is when donkey milk acts as a great substitute as it naturally contains vitamin D. All in all, if this milk is applied frequently, it brings a glowing effect while making the skin look brighter.
Known as a "natural elixir of youth", donkey milk is packed with antioxidants and nutrients.| Photo by Jernej Graj on Unsplash
Moisturizer and Softener
By now it's a well-known fact that this milk works as a powerful moisturizer for the skin. Besides, if donkey milk is used consistently, it acts as a great cleanser as well as helps in keeping the skin healthy, hydrated, and soft.
If donkey milk is used consistently, it acts as a great cleanser as well as helps in keeping the skin healthy, hydrated, and soft. | Photo by febri sym on Unsplash
Therefore, donkey milk with its healing, nutritional and rejuvenating properties for the skin is rapidly emerging as a key ingredient for skincare. These are also driving several leading players to roll out personal care products such as soap, cream, etc. manufactured using donkey milk. Moreover, the global donkey milk market is expanding rapidly with the market value projected to reach $68,139.0 thousand by 2027, registering a CAGR of 9.4 per cent from 2021 to 2027. And the growing use of donkey milk as an ingredient in cosmetic and personal care products will significantly contribute toward the growth of this market in the years to come. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Skin, donkey milk, skincare, anti-ageing, soft skin, hydrate, antioxidant, healing