Sunday February 24, 2019

Custom or Science? The Tradition of wearing Sindoor in Hinduism

Using sindoor is not only religiously valuable but also has many scientific benefits attached to it

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Sindoor. Image source: i-survive.blogspot.com

India is the culturally rich homeland of Hindus with rituals that retain man’s beliefs in his religion. From birth to death, it is more or less the customs that drive the very essence of Hinduism. One of the most significant practices of India is using ‘sindoor‘ or vermilion that you would most definitely find in a household. Even though sindoor is used for several religious purposes, the practice of wearing sindoor can be dated back to 5,000 years; travelling through the Harappan civilisation to the modern times.

Source: Pinterest
Sindoor applied on a woman during the marriage. Image Source: Pinterest

The excavation of female figurines at Baluchistan prove the usage of sindoor during the Harappan civilisation. Also, legend has it that Radha turned this vermilion into the design of a flame on her forehead. Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas, wiped her sindoor in disgust after her dignity was questioned. The use of sindoor is mentioned in Soundarya Lahharis, the Puranas and other legends.

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In Hinduism, the shades of red are usually denoted as the colours of goddesses and that of a married Indian woman. Legend has it, that Goddess Parvati grants ‘akhand saubhagya’ to women who wears sindoor on their forehead.

The sindoor is a red/saffron colour vermillion that is not only religiously valuable but also has many scientific benefits attached to it. While women wear mangalsutra and sindoor, married men wear ‘janeu‘.

Source: Pinterest
Lord Hanuman. Image Source: Pinterest

The sindoor holds immense values in all branches of Hinduism. It must be noted that idols of Lord Hanuman in most temples are made of or are covered with orange sindoor. It is believed that Lord Hanuman had covered himself in sindoor for the well-being of Lord Ram. Besides that, the Bengali community celebrates ‘Sindoor Khela’ where Bengali married women offer sindoor to Goddess Durga and fellow ladies wishing each other a prosperous married life.

Sindoor Khela in Bengali Hindu women. Image source: www.nagpurtoday.in
Sindoor Khela in Bengali Hindu women during Durga Puja. Image source: www.nagpurtoday.in

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While this tradition of sindoor has been going on since time immemorial, it must be noted that increasing commodification has led to cosmetic sindoor that contains red lead (Pb304) and other toxins. Substandard oil and oxidised metals are often used by even branded companies to acquire texture or make liquid sindoor. This not only leads to hair loss but also edima and erythema.

Natural sindoor also has its own scientific and physiological benefits. It contains a mixture of turmeric, lime and mercury. It is put on the partition of the hair on one’s forehead, right at the pituitary glands. The mercury not only soothes one’s mind but the pituitary glands also awaken the sexual desires, for all our emotions are centred up at this gland. This also stands as a justification as to why the widows have been kept away from using sindoor.

But as India is trying to become a westernised nation, the custom of sindoor is slowly being forgotten by the Indian youth. It is and will remain throughout as a debatable subject whether the issue of gender equality should be dragged into this tradition.

– by Chetna Karnani of NewsGram. Twitter: @karnani_chetna

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Three Projects Help India to Stop its Share of Water to Pakistan after Pulwama

The waters of the western rivers - the Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab - averaging around 135 MAF, were allocated to Pakistan.

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Picture Courtesy:-www.economylead.com

The government has envisaged three projects to give intent to its decision to stop its share of water from three eastern rivers of the Indus system – the Beas, Ravi and Sutlej – from going to Pakistan.

The decision was affirmed by Water Resource Minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday in the wake of Pulwama terror attack though the Union cabinet had approved implementation of one of the key projects – Shahpurkandi dam – in December last year.

The waters of the western rivers – the Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab – averaging around 135 MAF, were allocated to Pakistan except for “specified domestic, non-consumptive and agricultural use permitted to India”, according to a treaty.

India has also been given the right to generate hydroelectricity through run-of-the-river (RoR) projects on the western rivers which, subject to specific criteria for design and operation, is unrestricted.

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However, about 2 MAF of water annually from Ravi is reported to be still flowing unutilised to Pakistan. VOA

To utilise the waters of the Eastern rivers, India has constructed the Bhakra Dam on Satluj, Pong and Pandoh Dam on Beas and Thein (Ranjitsagar) on Ravi. These storage works, together with other works like Beas-Sutlej Link, Madhopur-Beas Link and Indira Gandhi Nahar Project have helped India utilise nearly the entire share (95 per cent) of the eastern river waters.

However, about 2 MAF of water annually from Ravi is reported to be still flowing unutilised to Pakistan. The other two projects are Ujh multipurpose project and the second Ravi Beas link below Ujh.

Here’s the reality check of the three projects:

Shahpurkandi Project: It aims to utilise the waters coming from powerhouse of Thein dam in order to irrigate 37,000 hectares of land in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab by generating 206 MW of power.

The project was scheduled to be completed by September 2016. However, following a dispute between the two states, work was suspended in August 2014 but they reached an agreement last September and the construction work has now resumed with the Centre monitoring its progress. The central government had in December last year announced assistance of Rs 485 crore for the project and it would be completed by June 2022.

 

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The decision was affirmed by Water Resource Minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday in the wake of Pulwama terror attack. VOA

The project will create irrigation potential of 5,000 hectare in Punjab and 32,173 hectare in Jammu and Kashmir.

Officials said that some water of the Ravi is going waste through the Madhopur Headworks downstream to Pakistan and it is required in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir.

The total balance cost of pending work in ShahpurKandi Dam project is estimated Rs 1,973.53 crore (irrigation component: Rs 564.63 crore, power component Rs1408.90 crore).

The Shahpurkandi Project was initially approved by the Planning Commission in November, 2001. Revised costs were approved, but there was delay in its execution both because of lack of funds with Punjab and inter-state issues with Jammu and Kashmir.

An agreement was finally reached between the two states under the aegis of Water Resources Ministry in September last year.

Ujh multipurpose project: Construction of the Ujh multipurpose project will create a storage of about 781 million cubic metres of water on Ujh, a tributary of Ravi, for irrigation and power generation and provide a total irrigation benefits of 31,380 hectares in Kathua, Hiranagar and Samba districts of Jammu and Kashmir.

The total estimated cost of the project is Rs 5,850 crore and the Central assistance of Rs 4,892.47 crore on works portion of irrigation component as well as the special grant is under consideration. The project is yet to be implemented and it will take about six years for completion.

Second Ravi Beas link below Ujh: The project has been planned to tap excess water flowing down to Pakistan through Ravi by constructing a barrage across it for diverting water through a tunnel link to the Beas basin.

The project is expected to utilise about 0.58 MAF of surplus waters below Ujh dam by diverting the same to the Beas basin.

 

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Officials said that some water of the Ravi is going waste through the Madhopur Headworks downstream to Pakistan and it is required in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir. Wikimedia

The water distribution treaty between India and Pakistan was brokered by the World Bank in 1960 to use the water available in the Indus system of rivers originating in India.

 

ALSO READ: IOC Cancels Places for 2020 Tokyo Games from India after it Refused Visas to Pakistan

The Indus system comprises Indus, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej rivers. The basin is mainly shared by India and Pakistan with a small share for China and Afghanistan.

Under the treaty signed between India and Pakistan in 1960, all the waters of the three eastern rivers, averaging around 33 million acre feet (MAF), were allocated to India for exclusive use.  (IANS)