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2021 is the year for curious travelers as people are set with their off-beat travel bucket lists. Travel trends to look forward to in the next year include exploring nature and the outdoors.
One such adventure remains to chase the Northern Lights, not many are aware of the various destinations in the USA where one can witness this enthralling natural phenomenon. Also called Aurora Borealis, it is a naturally occurring dance of lights in the sky which occurs when solar particles collide with atmospheric gases to produce a neon light. Here are the best spots across the USA for some aurora watching.
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Spend a night or two devoted to viewing the magical and captivating sight of the northern lights at Denali National Park and Preserve. Its wide-open spaces, beautiful mountain vistas, and abundant wildlife make the park a favorite destination for campers and hikers. There is much to see and do in the first national park, established in 1917 as Mount McKinley National Park and renamed Denali National Park in 1980 as it tripled in size.
Alaska’s second-largest city, Fairbanks, a 2-hour drive from the park, also sees some amazing light shows, thanks to its location in the auroral oval, an area around the North Pole. Its distance from the lit city life, in turn, the higher probability of dark skies, further strengthens the display.
The Idaho Panhandle National Forest is one of the best places in Idaho to maximize the chances of the aurora watching. Its total area is an impressive 2.5 million acres making it famous for activities like skiing, hunting, and snowmobiling in winters, as well as popular peak season activities including wildlife watching, hiking, biking, fishing, and swimming.
A popular vacation spot all year round for its many recreational opportunities, Priest Lake in northern Idaho, also has the perfect conditions for spotting the Northern Lights. Light chasers and photographers each year flock to the lake during winters to take a snapshot of the auroras, often reflected in the water’s still surface.
The sparsely populated Aroostook County, which is located on the U.S-Canadian border, makes for a perfect spot for sky watching in Maine. Although the northern lights are more common near the Arctic, this county is far enough north for the aurora borealis to make an appearance. There’s little to no light pollution near the Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge, thus, ensuring that you have an incredible light show. The refuge includes more than 2,100 hectares of wetlands, forest, and grasslands home to wildlife such as black bears and moose. Reserve a spot in one of the county’s many campgrounds to experience the wilderness of Maine.
The night sky is one of the biggest tourist attractions of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula as almost the entire 51,000 square miles offers front row seats to some of the most stellar shows on earth. Thanks to the prime geographic location and relatively low light pollution, the Upper Peninsula provides some of the best northern lights viewing opportunities in the state.
Favorite destinations include Whitefish Point or Tahquamenon Falls State Park in Paradise, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Munising, Brockway Mountain in Copper Harbor, and Isle Royale National Park accessible from Houghton or Copper Harbor. In the Upper Peninsula, you are more likely to see the Northern Lights between August and April, with the peak months being April, October, and November.
There are plenty of locations to see the Northern Lights in Minnesota. Located on the northeastern tip of the state, along the shores of Lake Superior, Cook County is an especially great spot for Aurora watching. In Grand Portage, the northern lights can be spotted dancing above High Falls, the tallest waterfall in the state of Minnesota. Oberg Mountain in the Superior National Forest is another place to capture the stunning views of the aurora. Stargazers are in for a treat here as Superior’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is world-recognized for its starry night sky. (IANS)
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.
ALSO READ: Choosing Environment-Friendly Diwali
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