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Recognised for its clean and green environment, New Zealand is made up of many beautiful landscapes – from vast mountain chains to grand volcanoes, from flowing rivers and contemporary museums to expansive caves, fiords, lush rainforests, grassy plains and rich thermal areas.
Get off the beaten track to find lots of hidden gems that are waiting to be explored:
The Ohaupo TreeChurch
With a passion for church architecture and the natural beauty of trees, dairy farmer Barry Cox decided that the gardens he was creating in the central North Island town of Ohaupo, “needed a church”. So he built one from trees. He engineered the iron framework from a vision in his head, then planted trees to grow over it.
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The result is a luscious natural space full of light and warmth. The marble altar comes from the Catholic church where he was an altar boy.
The TreeChurch is set at the heart of more than a hectare of sculpted gardens that Barry created himself. Initially a private property Barry was persuaded to open it to the public in 2015. With capacity for 120 guests the TreeChurch hosts many weddings.
Pelorus Mail Boat
Joining a mail run to deliver the post and supplies to the isolated locals of the Pelorus Sound/Te Hoiere is perhaps the most authentic way to discover the Marlborough Sounds. With local Bindy Taylor at the helm, the Pelorus Mail Boat gives an intimate view of the remote area and a personal insight into its history.
The boat is often escorted by the region’s diverse wildlife, including bottlenose dolphins, as it makes its deliveries along the intricate coastline. A born and bred Marlburian, Bindy’s favourite part of the job is the people she gets to meet, as well as their precious cargo – it’s not uncommon for goats, pigs and sheep to make the trip. Having seen every nook and cranny of the coastline, Bindy’s favourite spot is Tawero Point, where a number of the Sounds come together.
Hokonui Moonshine Museum
Once branded criminals for their famed bootlegging operation, the McRae family have since become Southland folk heroes. Widow Mary McRae arrived in the Hokonui district in 1872 from Scotland with her seven children and a whisky still. Drawing on her family’s generations of distilling, her product quickly became famous for its quality. When prohibition arrived in the region in 1894, Mary would disguise a small barrel of whisky from the police under her “voluminous” skirt. She lived to 93 – crediting that longevity to her daily ï¿½dram’.
Gore’s Hokonui Moonshine Museum opened in 2000 to preserve the region’s colourful history of illicit whiskey making and consumption. In 2021 the museum will open its first operating distillery to produce Old Hokonui Moonshine – made to the original recipe – on site. Using third generation local grain growers to harvest barley and a bespoke ï¿½art still’ commissioned especially for the project, the region’s reputation for unique moonshine continues.
Perched on the edge of the West Coast between Punakaiki and Greymouth, the Barrytown Hall is an iconic destination for local and international touring musicians in New Zealand. Built in 1929 the hall began hosting gigs in about 1972 and is a focal point of the dispersed Coastie communities. The remote destination has hosted many international acts including Townes Van Zandt, and US rock bands Shellac and Dead Moon. Fugazi was scheduled to play the Barrytown Hall but the drummer broke his leg and the New Zealand tour was cancelled – the poster for the gig still remains on the wall.
In 2017, the hall was forced to stop hosting concerts after a noise complaint. At the end of 2019 Barrytown Hall won the dispute and were given the green light to continue holding live gigs after a crowdfunding campaign to soundproof the venue.
During the campaign a sign at the hall read: “When leaving, please remind our neighbours that drunk people have loudly been leaving this establishment long before they decided to buy houses next door.”
The Museum of Natural Mystery, Dunedin
Bruce Mahalski lives among the dead of the New Zealand- quite literally. The front rooms of his home, a 19th century villa in central Dunedin, are the final resting place for hundreds of animals, their bones arrayed neatly on shelves, in cabinets and around the walls. While some come from exotic overseas animals, most of Mahalski’s collection are the (ethically sourced) remains of the creatures New Zealanders are surrounded by every day: cats and dogs, native birds, and local pests like rabbits, possums and stoats.
While it may seem macabre, Mahalski sees his collection as a celebration of life and the interconnectedness of all beings, a concept he explores in the intricate bone sculptures he makes and displays in the final room of the museum. Also on display are Mahalski’s collections of cultural ephemera, strange vintage books, and other curiosities, many sourced from the Otago region.
Set in Waikato, New Zealand, the home of the magical Waitomo glow worm caves and Hobbiton movie set, the Underhill Valley earth house is a fairy-tale experience. Classified as “glamping” Underhill Valley is both simple and luxurious. The earth house is carved into the side of the hill and feels like a romantic hobbit hole. The giant timber doors open to a pond and private paths that lead around its landscaped grounds. A stay at Underhill Valley is a rare opportunity to disconnect from the world and embrace the peace of the beautiful property.
Underhill Valley is owned and hosted by Jessie and Craig Moon, who live on the property along with their young children. The earth house was created by Jessie’s father over many years. Every element was hand-crafted – down to the iron-hinges on the large wooden doors. Jessie spent her childhood planning what this little house would look like with her dad. A fairy-tale come true, Underhill Valley is a very special place for the family and its guests. (IANS)
"In India, to be born as a man is a crime, to question a woman is an atrocious crime, and this all because of those women who keep suppressing men in the name of feminism."
Feminism, a worldwide movement that started to establish, define and defend equal rights for women in all sections- economically, politically, and socially. India, being a patriarchal society gives a gender advantage to the men in the society thus, Indian feminists sought to fight against the culture-specific issue for women in India. Feminism itself is nothing but a simple movement that pursues equal rights for women (including transwomen) and against misogyny both external and internal. It states nowhere that women should get more wages than men, that women deserve more respect than men, that's pseudo-feminism.
Pseudo feminists state that women deserve more respect and rights, any other gender deserves no respect. They feel that women should be the ones ruling the world and at higher positions. When feminism takes a turn for extremities it becomes pseudo-feminism and people who label themselves as feminists will bash anyone who speaks against even the wrongdoings of a woman. They'll bash women who're wife and sisters for not speaking up and support any women criticizing political leaders even if it's completely irrational. This is where hypocrisy and pseudo-feminism merge with each other.
They take advantage of the rights given to women to protect themselves to threaten other genders. The rights given to women are supposed to make them feel reassured that they can reach out to the judiciary if their rights are being hampered not to threaten to make the victim sound like the culprit.
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Indian Feminist Movement has made significant progress however, even in the modern world women are still unsafe and are discriminated against when it comes to getting a job, land ownership, and access to education. While filling the official papers it is still asked "Wife of /Daughter of:….."
People in India still continue the practice of sex-selective abortion, abandoning the girl child, not letting girl child study instead they should learn household chores, they are seen as a burden to the family. Such injustices make feminism such an important movement, gender equality is worth fighting for to create a safe environment for women. Feminists over the years have been criticized for focusing on the rights of privileged women and not giving equal representation to poorer and lower caste women, which has led to separate caste-specific feminist organizations and movements.
Some notable milestones in the Feminist Movement
- Raja Ram Mohan Roy campaigned against Sati Pratha (practice in which a widow sacrificed herself by sitting atop her deceased husband's funeral pyre) and child marriage
- Savitribai Phule started the first school for girls at Bhidewada in Pune city in 1848.
- In 1972, SEWA, the biggest trade union for women was set up by Ela Bhatt for women working in the informal sector.
- The Chipko Movement was launched and led by women in 1973.
- #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and abuse was started in 2006 and revived in the year 2015.
People in India still continue the practice of sex-selective abortion, abandoning the girl child, not letting girl child study instead they should learn household chores, they are seen as a burden to the family.Unsplash
Feminism is often misunderstood as pseudo-feminism and hence, becomes the target for public hatred and is accused of wronging other genders under the façade of feminism. It is misunderstood by Indians as female domination instead of gender equality. Indian society and Indian feminists believe that only men are perpetrators of a heinous crime like rape and they refuse to even recognize the men who say they were raped and it's the toxic masculinity in the society that believes how can a woman rape a man? Reality is different from what we believe, women can be the perpetrator too, women threaten to file a case of domestic violence, or sexual assault against innocent people just to fulfill their ego.
Thankfully feminism and pseudo feminism are two separate concepts and feminism is just about equality and not judgment. Indian society and feminists actually need to understand the difference between the two and stop tarnishing the Feminist Movement as a whole.
Keywords: Feminism, World, India, Pseudo-Feminism, Gender
Kerala is a land of many good things. It has an abundance of nature, culture, art, and food. It is also a place of legend and myth, and is known for its popular folklore, the legend of Yakshi. This is not a popular tale outside the state, but it is common knowledge for travellers, especially those who fare through forests at night.
The legend of the yakshi is believed to be India's equivalent of the Romanian Dracula, except of course, the Yakshi is a female. Many Malayalis believe that the Yakshi wears a white saree and had long hair. She has a particular fragrance, which is believed to be the fragrance of the Indian devil-tree flowers. She seduces travellers with her beauty, and kills them brutally.
Yakshi idol in Veroor, Sri Dharamashastha temple Image source: wikimedia commons
The Yakshi is believed to live in a palm tree which can appear like a palace. Victims are taken here before they are killed. Travellers on highways are often advised not to stop near heavily forested areas, or speak to anyone who closely resembles a Yakshi. Some believe she can change form, while other hold to the belief that she doesn't. after securing her victim, the only trace left behind is body parts like hair, nails, and teeth.
They say, like other ghosts, a Yakshi's feet will not touch the ground. This is something to look out for. Mysterious deaths have been reported across the rural areas in Kerala, and all these have been attributed to the legend.
Keywords: Legends, Yakshi, Urban legend, Ghost, Kerala, Myth, Vampire
The LGBTQ+ acronym stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and others. In India LGBTQ+ community also include a specific social group, part religious cult, and part caste: the Hijras. They are culturally defined either as "neither men nor women" or as men who become women by adopting women's dress and behavior. Section 377 of the India Penal code that criminalized all sexual acts "against the order of nature" i.e. engaging in oral sex or anal sex along with other homosexual activities were against the law, ripping homosexual people off of their basic human rights. Thus, the Indian Supreme Court ruled a portion of Section 377 unconstitutional on 6th September 2018.
But the question is, "was India always against homosexuality"? Has the concept of homosexuality being unnatural existed forever? No, in Indian history and Hinduism homosexuality has never been an offense, in fact in several instances it has been depicted how people embraced their identity, be it sexual identity or gender identity. Section 377 was brought to India by the British in 1862, while India was colonized. Even after the Independence, it was only in 2018 that the Supreme Court ruled it as irrational and illogical.
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Homosexuality in Ancient India
When Supreme Court decriminalized homosexuality in India, there was an uproar about it being a western ideology and liberalism. But in reality, homosexuality has existed since the time of the Vedas. The Gay and Lesbian Vaishnava Association (GALVA) researched and discovered that it was around 3102 B.C. (during the Vedic Age) that homosexuality or non-normative sexual identity was recognized as "Tritiya Prakriti", or the third nature. Ancient India not only made mentions of homosexuality but accepted it as well.
Hinduism is the most vastly followed religion in India. Hinduism does not explicitly mention homosexuality however it does contain a homosexual theme and characters in its text. There have been various instances in our scriptures and texts that have introduced us to LGBT+ characters such as the androgynous form of Shiva and Parvati Ardhanariswara meaning "the half-female lord". One of the most popular and ancient texts on sexuality, eroticism, and emotional fulfillment of life, "Kamasutra" has a complete chapter dedicated to homosexuality and homosexual sex. Numerous Hindu sculptures and temples have statues depicting homosexual activities.
Numerous Hindu sculptures and temples have statues depicting homosexual activities. Facebook
Our Mughals were Queer
Mughals are often seen under the light of cruelty, rigid ethics, nobility, and polygamy. Simultaneously, Mughals are also the ones credited for the emergence of Sufism, abolished jizya tax, love beyond religion, classes, and gender.
In the Baburnama written in memoirs of our very first Mughal ruler Muhammad Babur, several instances documented Babur's infatuation and affection towards a teenage boy named Baburi. We also have multiple Persian couplets as evidence of Babur's affection for Baburi. Mughals engaged in homosexuality and pederasty, and they believed that later was a form of "pure love".
But as time passed homosexuality was suppressed more and more though people practiced it in secret if revealed they were punished. According to the Fatwa-e-Alamgiri Sharia-based text of the Mughal Empire, there is a common set of punishments for homosexuality, which could include 50 lashes for a slave, 100 for a free infidel, or death by stoning for a Muslim.
British Raj and Independence of India
In 1862, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalized homosexual sex came into force. Even after Independence in 1947, the section remained a part of the Indian Constitution. There were protests all over the country to give people of the LGBT+ community basic human rights but it was not until 2018 that The Supreme Court of India ruled the portion of Section 377 has unconstitutional and struck it off. One judge said the landmark decision would "pave the way for a better future.". With Section 377 gone are LGBT+ people allowed to fall in love freely? No, people are still afraid to love because of the stigma in our society when it comes to homosexuality; they are seen as lesser humans.
ALSO READ: Significant Support for Rights for LGBTQ+
Although the Supreme Court has decriminalized homosexual activities, same-sex marriage remains illegal in the country. Homophobia is still prevalent in India, and homosexual children would rather commit suicide than come out to society with their true identity, that's how harsh of a world we live in. Lacking support from family, society, or police, many gay rape victims do not report the crimes. In 1977, writer and Indian mathematician Shakuntla Devi published "The World of Homosexuals". It was the first study in the Indian context; the book contains interviews with homosexual men set in the years of Emergency. She wrote, "rather than pretending that homosexuals don't exist it is time we face the facts squarely in the eye and find room for homosexual people." We've had small victories in our fight against homophobia and getting LGBT+ community the rights they deserve as humans, but we still have a long and exhausting fight ahead of us.