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Children are often seen running around singing "London Bridge is Falling", and making a face of sadness when they reach the last line. Most people assume that the Fair Lady referred to in the rhyme is the Queen of England, and the current queen at that. But the history behind this rhyme goes farther back in time than we realize.
Speculation associated with this rhyme has to do with a process call immurement. Immurement was when a person was enclosed in a room with no exit points. This was more an act of superstition than punishment. It was believed to bring sturdiness to the structure if people were imprisoned behind the walls. London Bridge falling down was something that people at the time associated with weakness. But there is no evidence to substantiate the idea of immurement.
The Bridge of yesteryear London Image source: wikimedia commons
A more historical account states that the bridge fell as a result of a Viking attack. Vikings of Norway have a similar set of rhymes that associate their role in bringing down the Bridge of London. They sing of conquest and gold, and blessings from Odin, in Norse, which refers to the Bridge. King Olaf II is credited with this feat.
Most historians, unable to properly supply evidence of the above claims, state that perhaps the Thames River is the reason this rhyme came into existence. The original London Bridge had 19 arches that went deep into the river. This caused difficulty in navigation. The Bridge was taken down and reconstructed to accommodate boats and ships. Perhaps, it was this historical reconstruction that is being sung about. The London Bridge is the only one that directly refers to a historical event, and yet has no plausible evidence to support it.
Keywords: Rhymes, London, Bridge, History, Viking, Immurement
Atop the Vindhyagiri hills in Karnataka, a 57-foot-tall statue stands. This is the statue of Lord Gomateshwara, or Bahubali, as he is known to the local patrons. The surrounding area is filled with temples where each of the many Jain Tirthankaras sits.
Sharavanabelagola is named after a pond that is located at the foothills. 'Bel' in Kannada means white, and 'kola' means pond. This is a sacred water body to the activities of the temples. It is a tourist attraction and a pilgrim destination located 85 kilometres from Mysore, and 145 kilometres from the capital, Bangalore.
The pond that Sharavanabelagola is named after Image source: wikimedia commons
Since the statue is placed at such a great height, pilgrims are made to make a journey to the top of the hill by foot. They are required to climb the stone steps barefoot as an act of piety and devotion. Palanquins are offered only to senior citizens who wish to worship at the temple.
In 3 B.C, when India was ruled by the Mauryan Dynasty, Chandragupta Maurya became a Jain monk and took up residence in the Chandragiri and Vindhyagiri hills. He is supposedly responsible for the establishment of the temple complex at Shravanabelagola, where he lived till he died. Later on, his grandson, Ashoka made some additional changes to the place.
A shop in the tourist section that sells handmade items Image source: wikimedia commons
Every twelve years, a Mahamastabhisheka is conducted, and Jains from every part congregate to witness it. The statue is washed with water, rice flour, sugarcane juice, saffrom, sandalwood paste, gold, and silver flowers, curd, ghee, milk, and turmeric, and all the monks offer special prayers. The surrounding temples and rocks are preserved as archaeological wonders owing to the 800 edicts and inscriptions found here which span 600 to 1830.
Keywords: Shravanabelagola, Jainism, Chandragupta Maurya, Ashoka, Karnataka
By Siddhi Jain
The author who named the book after her twin sons -- Puhor and Niyor -- is a parent who has seen and heard the tales of ridicule and discrimination suffered by many in India and beyond. She says the book is an artistic illustration for kids that details how different families can live and coexist. Whether it's children with two dads or two moms, children with a single dad or single mom, and even multiracial family units, Borthakur's book teaches love, understanding, and compassion towards unconventional families.
Beyond race, gender, color, and ethnicity which have formed the bases for discrimination since the beginning of time, this book aims to bring to light a largely ignored issue. For so long, single parents have been treated like a taboo without any attempt to understand their situations; no one really cares how or why one's marriage ended but just wants to treat single parents as villains simply for choosing happiness and loving their children.
Homosexual parents, a relatively new family system, is another form that has suffered hate and discrimination for many years. Pritisha emphasizes the need to understand that diversity in people and family is what makes the world beautiful and colourful. 'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories' is a firm but compassionate statement against all forms of discrimination on the bases of sexual identity, gender, race, and even differences in background
'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories' is a firm but compassionate statement against all forms of discrimination on the bases of sexual identity, gender, race and even differences in background. | Photo by Ben Wicks on Unsplash
Written for a global audience, the book is targeted at kids between the ages of five and 10, the reason it is embellished with colourful images of families of different types is to appeal to children's sense of sight and drive home the message at the same time. Borthakur believes children are the best place to start because the ages between five and 10 are the most formative, where little ones pick up habits, beliefs and perceptions.
The Guwahati-born author says, "With this book, I'm not trying to take away the job of parents in forming habits, I simply want to do my part as a parent. It is important that we impart the right values in our kids in a bid to build a better, more inclusive and tolerant global society that is fair to everyone." The author's first attempt at a book was an Assamese poetry 'Anubhav', published in 2010.
Set to be published under the label of Author's Channel, the book is like an adventure; a journey into uncharted territories, untouched subjects and matters long ignored. In her words. "The book takes a critical stand in defense of people in society who have had to undergo severe emotional torture for no cause of theirs. It is a terrible conception to think such people any less of a human just for being different," says publisher Aruna Naidu. By September 30, this title, priced at Rs 299, will be available online and in offline bookstores. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Book, children, Guwahati, Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories, moral, story, kids, discrimination, equality
Every part of South India changes colour on Onam and Vishu when Malayalis begin their celebrations. They cannot be missed for they decorate themselves in subtle shades of gold and white, and dot the streets in their traditional attire.
The white kerala saree, known as kasavu, has a rather interesting history. It grew to prominence when the Portuguese reached India, and began trade. Gold was exchanged for spices, and women began to incorporate gold into their sarees. The white part of the kasavu is believed to be inspired by the Greco-Roman one-piece, also known as 'toga' or 'palmyrene'.In Ravi Verma's paintings, the Malayali woman is visibly very similar to the European contemporary when she is decked in her adornments.
A classical dancer dressed in gold and white kasavu Image source: wikimedia commons
The traditional malayalis used to wear what is called a mundu, or a settu-mundu, which consisted of a rectangular piece of cloth tied around the waist. They did not cover their upper bodies. Later, women began to wear a blouse or place a cloth to cover their upper body, and the mundu became a two-piece affair. Today, women wear three different pieces. The blouse is worn with one cloth wrapped around the waist, and another wrapped around the chest. Colours are also incorporated according to each one's taste.
The kasavu yarn is spun and dyed in the required colours, and stretched, ideally in the early hours of the morning. It is also soaked and stamped to make it soft. It is then mounted on the loom and woven. The stretching allows the fabric to become resilient, and it does not break easily. Once woven, it is immediately turned into sarees or mundus. Since it is a relatively plain weave, it does not require a post-weave process.
The kasavu saree is very simple and common among the malayalis, and with added colours, even among other south Indians. The luxury of this saree lies in the fact that it is woven with real gold in the borders.
Keywords: Kasavu, mundu, Kerala, Gold, White