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A decade after 10 Islamic terrorists laid a three-day siege to India’s financial capital, Mumbai, and killed 166 people, businessman Dilip Mehta recalls the horror of the nine hours that he was holed up in a banquet hall in a luxury hotel, wondering when the gunmen would storm inside.
“I do feel traumatized when I hear of any kind of terrorist activities in the world,” said Mehta, who was eventually evacuated via a fire exit.
From the mark it left on survivors and the families of the victims to the deep blow it struck to ties between India and Pakistan, the scars of the coordinated attacks that began on November 26th in 2008 still run deep.
Solemn memorial services were held in the city for the victims as India marked the 10th anniversary of the attacks, in which the heavily armed gunmen stormed multiple targets.Mumbai’s police paid homage to more than a dozen officers and commandos killed in the operation against the militants.Two luxury hotels held private services while a Jewish Center, which was also attacked, unveiled a new memorial to all those who died in the assault.
“Our solidarity with the bereaved families.A grateful nation bows to our brave police and security forces who valiantly fought the terrorists during the Mumbai attacks,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Twitter.
The foreign ministry said it is a matter of “deep anguish” the victims of the attack who belonged to 15 countries “still await closure with Pakistan showing little sincerity in bringing perpetrators to justice.The planners of 26/11 still roam the streets of Pakistan with impunity.”
New Delhi says the attack was masterminded by the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba and frequently slammed Islamabad for not taking action against the man who founded the group, Hafiz Saeed. Saeed, who has been designated as a terrorist by the United Nations, has denied involvement and Pakistan says India has not produced enough evidence against him.
Announcing a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to arrests or convictions of those involved in the 2008 Mumbai attack, the United States also said that it was an affront to the families of the victims that those who planned the attack had not been convicted.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on “all countries, particularly Pakistan to uphold their U.N. Security Council obligations to implement sanctions against the terrorists responsible for this atrocity, including Lashkar-e-Taiba and its affiliates.”
Nine of the 10 gunmen who mounted the attack were killed, one was captured.He has been convicted and hanged.
According to Harsh Pant at New Delhi’s Observer Research Foundation, the 2008 Mumbai attacks continue to cast a shadow on India-Pakistan relations.“When you talk of rapproachment with Pakistan, when you talk of talks with Pakistan, the stakeholders are very limited,” he said.”The question comes: why have we failed in bringing those who perpetrated these acts to book?”
While Mumbai had suffered terror attacks prior to those in 2008, the strikes were the most audacious.The three-day siege put the spotlight on India’s weak coastal security – the 10 terrorists sneaked into the city on a fishing vessel.
Since then, maritime security has been strengthened and coastal police stations have been set up.On the eve of the anniversary, police officials said the city is better prepared to counter terrorist threats.
“I can assure Mumbaikars that the city is safe and police are capable of protecting you from any eventuality,” Mumbai Police Commissioner Subodh Kumar Jaiswal said.
Businessman Dilip Mehta took counseling for months after he faced the prospect of falling victim to a terrorists bullet at Taj Mahal hotel, where for about 60 hours, the gunmen shot dead guests and hotel staff.His life took a 360 degree turn after the attack, but he says he does feel more secure.“Now with whatever precautions and measures which have been taken, I feel quite safe in Bombay,” he said. (VOA)
Diwali is arguably one of the most auspicious and celebrated holidays in South Asia. It is celebrated over the span of five days, where the third is considered most important and known as Diwali. During Diwali people come together to light, lamps, and diyas, savour sweet delicacies and pray to the lord. The day has various origin stories with the main them being the victory of good over evil. While the North celebrates the return of Lord Rama and Devi Sita to Ayodhya, the South rejoices in the victory of Lord Krishna and his consort Satyabhama over evil Narakasura.
Narakasura- The great mythical demon King
Naraka or Narakasur was the son of Bhudevi (Goddess Earth) and fathered either by the Varaha incarnation of Vishnu or Hiranyaksha. He grew to be a powerful demon king and became the legendary progenitor of all three dynasties of Pragjyotisha-Kamarupa, and the founding ruler of the legendary Bhauma dynasty of Pragjyotisha.
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Narakasura was created, grew up to be strong and powerful but he was not satisfied with it, so he decided that he would worship Lord Brahma. He performed severe penance and was driven by the power of his penance; Lord Brahma appeared before him. Narakasura knew his mother loved him dearly so he asked Lord Brahma to grant him a boon that he would only die by the hands of his mother, Bhumidevi. Lord Brahma smile and ultimately granted him the boon.
Narakasura burst out laughing as Lord Brahma vanished. He thought no mother would kill their child so Lord Brahma had made him immortal. Drunk and maddened by his own power Narakasura brought all the kingdoms under his control and targeted Swargalok (Heaven). Even Indra (King of Gods) and demi-gods had to retreat in front of Narakasura. He kidnapped and took 16,000 women from the palaces as prisoners. Troubled by Naraksura's deeds the gods rushed to Lord Vishnu for a solution.
Lord Krishna and Devi Satyabhama were born to kill Narakasura
Lord Vishnu was born as Lord Krishna and Narakasura's mother Bhumidevi took the avatar of Krishna's wife Satyabhama. As Satyabhama, Bhumidevi was unaware of the knowledge of Naraksura being her son. Aditi the mother of all gods approached Satyabhama crying for help with bloodied ears as Narakasura had torn off the glowing earrings from the ears of Aditi.
Satyabhama was furious on gaining the knowledge of Narakasura's atrocities she asked Krishna to fight the demon king while she fights alongside him. Krishna agreed and they attacked the great fortress of Narakasura, riding his mount Garuda with his wife Satyabhama.
The furious battle unleashed. Krishna defeated Narakasura's general Mura and came to be known as Murari (the killer of Mura). Narakasura used several divine weapons against Krishna, but Krishna slew all those weapons effortlessly. The demon hurled a shakti towards Krishna, which mildly hurt Krishna and he fell unconscious. Upon this sight Satyabhama was enraged, she furiously pulled out a weapon of her own and hurled it at Narakasura's chest. Anxious Satyabhama turned to her fallen Lord, Krishna got up with a smile and he was completely fine. He was only playing his part. It was Satyabhama who was an incarnation of Bhoomidevi, whose hands were destined to slay Narakasura.
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Lord Krishna and Goddess Satyabhama had put an end to the Narakasura's kingdom of evil. As Narakasura lay on his deathbed he realised that Satyabhama was no one but an avatar of his own mother. He requested a boon from his mother, for no one to mourn his death. Instead, he wished for people to celebrate it with light and colours. They freed the 16,000 women who later married Lord Krishna to restore them of their honour in society, retrieved Mother goddess's earrings. This day is celebrated as 'Naraka Chaturdashi' popularly known as Choti Diwali - the day before Diwali as the triumph of good over evil.
Keywords: Diwali festival, goddess Laxmi, demon king, Lord Krishna, Satyabhama, the festival of light, Naraksura, Narak Chaturdashi
For all the great inventions that we have at hand, it is amazing how we keep going back to the safety pin every single time to fix everything. Be it tears in our clothes, to fix our broken things, to clean our teeth and nails when toothpicks are unavailable, to accessorize our clothes, and of course, as an integral part of the Indian saree. Safety pins are a must-have in our homes. But how did they come about at all?
The safety pin was invented at a time when brooches existed. They were used by the Greeks and Romans quite extensively. A man named Walter Hunt picked up a piece of brass and coiled it into the safety pin we know today. He did it just to pay off his debt. He even sold the patent rights of this seemingly insignificant invention just so that his debtors would leave him alone.
Anyone wearing safety pins that were visible began to be associated with the rock movement in the 70s. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
Later, he even invented the sewing needles and a couple of other important inventions but never kept any of the patent rights.
When the punk rock tradition took over in the seventies, safety pins became a fashion rage. They were used as piercings and to patch clothes together. Anyone wearing safety pins that were visible began to be associated with the rock movement. In some cultures, the safety pins have become symbols of good luck.
Keywords: Safety-pins, Punk Rock, Brass, Accessories, Walter Hunt
In South India, Deepavali marks the end of the monsoon and heralds the start of winter. The festival is usually observed in the weeks following heavy rain, and just before the first cold spell in the peninsula. The light and laughter that comes with the almost week-long celebration are certainly warm to the bones, but there is still a tradition that the South Indians follow to ease their transition from humidity to the cold.
Just before the main festival, the family bathes in sesame oil. This tradition is called 'yellu yennai snaana' in Kannada, or 'ennai kuliyal' in Tamil, which translates to 'sesame oil bath'. The eldest member of the family applies three drops of heated oil on each member's head. They must massage this oil into their hair and body. The oil is allowed to soak in for a while, anywhere between twenty minutes to an hour. After this, they must wash with warm water before sunrise.
Women applying oil to the heads of men Photo credit: Indians in Kuwait
In some parts of the peninsula, soap is not used to wash off the oil because it nullifies its effects. Some cultures who do not like the oil to remain in any way on their skin wash it off with shikakai and herbs, which is a paste that is traditionally used as a substitute for soap. Sometimes, the oil is heated with flowers and spices as well and is less sticky than in its pure form.
The purpose of this ritual is to cleanse the body, detoxify it, and produce heat in it. Sesame is a very heaty substance and tends to heat up the body. This heat, or 'usshna' in Kannada, prepares the body to face the sudden cold that comes to the peninsula immediately after Diwali. South India has no smooth transition weather-wise from monsoon to winter. There are a few days of stable, rainless weather, and suddenly the cold winds descend.
In many ways, the celebration of Diwali is centered around preparing for winter, considering the amount of heat and light the rituals consist of – lighting lamps, bursting crackers, and consuming warm treats. Those who practice these rituals earnestly find the shift in seasons and weather quite pleasant.
Keyboards: Sesame Oil Bath, Diwali Ritual, Traditional Sesame Oil Bath