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Indian History & Culture
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Mysore Palace lit up during the Dasara festivities

Dasara, or Navratri, and Vijayadashmi, celebrated in the months of September-October signify the victory of good over evil. All over India, the festival is marked with elaborate celebrations, theatre performances, dances, and bonfires. In Karnataka, it is celebrated with the iconic elephant procession, or jambu savari.

The history of Dasara begins from the Hindu myth of Chamundeshwari. Shiva is said to have danced a thandava with the body of Shakti in his hands. Vishnu is then said to have fired a chakra and cut Shakti's body into 52 parts. The part where Shakti's hair fell is where the Chamundeshwari temple stands. Chamundeshwari is the incarnation of Durga, who battled Mahishasura, for ten days, and ten nights. The city of Mysore is named after Mahishasura, and means, 'the place of Mahishasura' from the Kannada 'Mahishasurana ooru'.

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Savitribai Khanolkar, the designer of Param Vir Chakra

Eve Yvonne Maday de Maros, the woman who designed the Param Vir Chakra, was born in 1913 in Neuchatel, Switzerland. It was believed that she came to India to understand the country's culture and tradition.

She got to know about India's spiritual and cultural wealth at a very early age through holistic education which she received. Soon, Eve Yvonne fell in love with a Maharashtrian named Vikram Khanolkar, who was a young army officer, and was undergoing training at the Royal Military Academy in the United Kingdom.

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Certain tribes have remained matrilineal, where the decision-making power rests with the eldest female of the family.

In modern times, many social movements aim to bring reform to the society we live in, on the basis of certain existing patterns. Patriarchy is something that many aim to cleanse our cultures of, to usher in the era of social and gender equality. Despite all these so-called movements, in southern India, certain societies that patronise matriarchy have existed since before India's independence. The Nairs and Ezhavas of Kerala, and Bunts and Billavas of Karnataka are matrilineal societies that continue to thrive in a patriarchal country.

Kerala remains separate from the rest of India in many ways. Be it literacy policy, form of government, or cultural practices, this state does not always conform to the ideal that India is known for. Even so with their social structure. Certain tribes have remained matrilineal, where the decision-making power rests with the eldest female of the family.

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Kalamkari painting on a cotton cloth

In the recent past, Kalamkari has suddenly gained prominence in the wardrobes of Indian women. Commercial hubs in the city are filled with mannequins posing in kalamkari blouses, or sarees stretching out for yards on hangers.

As the name suggests, 'kalamkari' means 'craft from a pen'. Artisans draw on cloth with a pen, and colour it in with paints. This art form originated from the Mughal era and many of the scenes that artists choose to draw are scenes from Mughal gardens or palaces.

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