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- Ganga Dussehra celebrated on June 14, this year to mark the descent of the River Ganga upon Earth
- Many devotees take a bath in the Holy River Ganges to wash away all their sins
- Kite flying is another tradition that is practiced after bathing in the river
There are times that we hold close to ourselves for it brings us joy and happiness. That is where festivals come in. Apart from celebrating the culture or the tradition that one identifies themselves with, festivals connects us to other people and culture and bless us with a sense of belonging which helps us stay connected to our roots.
Ganga Dussehra is a festival in celebrated by thousands of pilgrims and pandits all over India, and even the world, to pay their respects and gratitude to the river Ganga. It is believed that it was this day, when heavens gifted the people of Earth with the holy river after the penance of Bhagiratha to cleanse the cursed souls of Bhagiratha‘s ancestors.
This festival is also popularly known as Gangavataran, which is derived from two Sanskrit words, Ganga, the name of the holy goddess and Avataran, which means ‘descent’. This festival is not to be confused with Ganga Jayanti, which is the birth of the goddess. Ganga lived in the stoup of Lord Brahma, which is why, when it started flowing through the Earth, it brought with it all the glories of the Heavens above.
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A few important points to be noted about the festival are as follows:
- It is believed that the Ganga brought down ten rare vedic astrological calculations when it descended upon the Earth, namely, Shukla Paksha, Jyeshtha month, Tenth Date, Wednesday, Hasta Nakshatra, Vyatipata Yoga, Gar Anand Yog, Sun in Taurus and Moon in Virgo, and when one takes a dip in its holy waters, all the sins are absorbed by these ten yogas.
- If we go by the Gregorian calendar, the festival is celebrated between the months of May and June. Traditionally, the tenth day of ‘Shukl Paksha’ during the month of Jyeshta sees the occurrence of Ganga Dussehra, based on the position and shape of the moon.
- The priests declared that the auspicious time for taking a bath in the river would be between 5.45 AM and 7.35 AM, which is devotedly followed by all the devout.
- Performing charitable acts on this day is believed to be of special significance as it invites greater peace and satisfaction upon the mind. ‘Abhishek’ of lord Shiva, distributing prasad and generously donating to the poor are a few of the traditions followed by people across the country.
- The festival was celebrated on 14th June this year. It is usually celebrated a day before Nirjala ekadashi, but these two festivals may soon merge in a few years.
- Taking dips in the holy waters while humming the Ganga Stotra helps wash away all the sins that mankind is plagued with on a daily basis.
- Kite flying is another tradition that is practiced after bathing in the river. The festival marks the high peak of the summer and marks the arrival of the rains.
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- Other religious customs include donating items in counts of 10, for best positive results. Even performing the puja requires everything in counts of 10, like lamps, diyas, flowers, etc.
- While conducting the puja, it is important to keep in mind to worship Bhagiratha as well as the Himalayas. Lord Shiva is the most important figure in this process, as it was by his grace that the Ganga incarnated on the Earth’s surface to bring prosperity upon the people.
- Taking 10 dips in the holy waters relieves the 10 sins – 3 organic, 4 spoken and 3 mental.
- Ganga Dussehra holds a lot of importance especially for the people of Agra, Mathura and Varanasi. It is popularly believed that the Mughals, impressed by the divine charm that this great river held, were inspired to build many great structures like the Taj Mahal.
- The Braj Mandal sees very enthusiastic celebrations as devotees lovingly shared sweets, rose milk, lassi, sharbat and shikhanji among each other. Even the ghats witnessed many people performing the Yamuna Puja while reciting holy lines every year as part of the celebrations.
-by Saurabh Bodas, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter Handle: @saurabhbodas96
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
If you feel that clean and well-groomed hands are just an essential prerequisite for women, you might like to think twice. Men should equally pay attention to their hands because our hand houses 1,500 bacteria living on each square centimeter of its skin. You can easily assume what havoc it can create in our body because in India we have the culture of eating with our hands and spaces beneath nails can become breeding heaven for germs. Moreover, clean and maintained hands boost confidence in their daily life activities. Therefore, it's important to keep your hands clean irrespective of your gender by washing or sanitizing at regular intervals. And, to keep them groomed, you don't have to visit a salon.
Rajesh U Pandya, Managing Director, KAI India, gives easy and completely doable tips to follow at home:
* Refrain from harsh soaps: You should be mindful of the soap you are using to wash your hands. Your soap can have a moisturizing element in it like aloe vera or shea butter. Ensure that you're washing your hands with normal water as hot water can make your hand's skin dry and scaly.
You should be mindful of the soap you are using to wash your hands. | Photo by Aurélia Dubois on Unsplash
* Clip your nails regularly: Make use of your personal nail clipper to cut your nails. After cutting your nails at a comfortable length also file them using a nail filer. Never share your nail care clipper as the germs can get transferred to your loved ones. Also, don't forget to use grime remover to remove hidden germs in corners and beneath nails. Also, you may like to file your nails to have a smooth finish.
* Good quality Nail Clipper: Do not use a rusted or chromium coated nail clipper as it might be harmful to skin and might cause dangerous bacterial infections.
* Stop the habit of nail chewing: Sometimes anxiety or extreme boredom can lead to chewing of nails. This habit only makes your nails uneven and ugly. Sometimes, our unclean nail folds give rise to viral, bacterial or fungal infections, which in turn can make us sick if we chew our nails.
Make use of your personal nail clipper to cut your nails. | Pixabay
* Exfoliate your hands: Similar to the way you exfoliate your face; your hands also need it. It helps to keep the dry skin at bay and keep your hands soft. You can buy a scrub or make one at home using brown sugar and olive oil. After scrubbing, you need to massage your hands with moisturizer.
Similar to the way you exfoliate your face; your hands also need it. It helps to keep the dry skin at bay and keep your hands soft. | Wikipedia
* Don't use your nails as tools: Always keep in mind that your nails are like jewels. Never use them to pry things open such as pop cans, removing keys from the ring, opening letters, or scraping off labels. This results in unnecessary breakage of nails, making your hands look dirty.
Never use your nails to pry things open such as pop cans, removing keys from the ring, opening letters or scraping off labels. | Photo by Sammy Williams on Unsplash
* Be aware of nail or cuticle inflammation or redness: If there are any signs of infection, disinfect the skin as soon as possible with an anti-bacterial or anti-fungal ointment.
(Article originally written by N.Lothungbeni Humtsoe) (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Nails, groom, hand, exfoliate, chew, nail clipper, bite, cuticle