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Name of the Jihadi organization: Boko Haram
Year of inception: 2002
Main area where operational: Nigeria, Africa
In the world of terrorism, Boko Haram isn’t just another name; it’s a ruthless phenomenon that has affected the lives of over 3 million people since its inception. In the name of religion, this Jihadi organization has killed people, abducted and raped women and forced schools to close down.
The savagery started in 2002 to oppose the “western education” and it was named Boko Haram that loosely translates to ‘fake is forbidden’ (where fake is metaphorical as the western education). While the official name of the group is “Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad” that translates to “people committed to the propagation of the Prophet’s teaching and Jihad” in Arabic.
They are mainly functional in the Africa’s biggest economy- Nigeria, owing to the religious and economic bifurcation between the northern and southern provinces of Nigeria. The southern Nigeria is economically stern, educationally advanced, has all the major oil reserves and is dominated by Christians, while the northern Nigeria is Muslim domination and is economically as well as socially backward.
The group started emerging in 2002 and a group of Islamists started to gather in remote areas of Kanamma and they were involved in skirmishes with the Nigerian government’s officials. They were being guided by a young and charismatic preacher whose name was Mohammed Yusuf. He is often blamed of actuating the youth to turn violent but he negated them all saying he was simply preaching them Quran. His ideology was that the colonization of Nigeria by British had brought western way of life and it posed some serious threat to the Islamic beliefs and sentiments.
Yusuf established his own mosque in the city of Maiduguri. Their first uprising came in 2009 when a group of officials locked horns with Boko Haram in Maiduguri. In the encounter, 17 Boko Haram members were severely wounded and Yusuf ordered the members to attack the police stations and involve in gun battles with the security forces. Fighting the battle, Yusuf was caught by the forces and eventually shot dead.
After killing Yusuf, the military forces declared Boko Haram finished and the group went on a hiatus for more than a year but they terrorized Nigeria again under a new leader Abubakar Shekau who was next to Yusuf in the group. They continued small altercations, bombing in parts of Nigeria until August 2011 when they placed a suicide bomb outside UN headquarter based in Abuja that killed at least 24 people.
Boko Haram started the attacks on schools in early 2013 to show their disregard to the western education. They raised brows of people across the world when they abducted around 276 school girls aged between 16-18 years out of which 219 still remain missing. For ushering awareness about the incident and in attempts to rehabilitate the girls, an international campaign was organized on various social medias- “Bring back our girls” that gained ample of momentum to recover the kidnapped girls.
Not only this, Amnesty International estimates that more than 2000 girls have been abducted by Boko Haram since 2014 maximum of which have been forced to venture into sex slavery.
In 2014, the head of Boko Haram declared caliphate in the entire region under Boko Haram’s control and announced Gwoza as its seat of power. Boko Haram were allegedly approached by ISIS and Al-Qaeda for a strategic tie-up but Shekau chose to shake hands with ISIS and the all the regions under the control of Boko Haram have been named as Islamic State of West Africa Province as a part of global caliphate that ISIS is trying to establish.
They have been recruiting highly skilled warrior forces that are equally good with ammunitions as they are with bombings. CIA approximates their number to be around 4000.
Shruti Pandey is a third year engineering student in HBTI, Kanpur and aspires to bring a change through words. Twitter @srt_kaka
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