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By Nithin Sridhar
India is today celebrating its 67th republic day. It was on this day 66 years ago that Indian constitution came into force. Indian constitution is not only central to Indian democracy, it also upholds the fact that India is a sovereign nation and it is no longer under foreign rule. Thus, the celebration of Republic Day is in many a sense symbolically more significant than the celebration of Independence Day.
Independence Day marks the day India became independent from British rule, but Republic day attests each year of our sustainment of that independence, of our democracy. Each Republic day marks another year when India has been successful in retaining her sovereignty, her democracy, and more importantly her Prana (life force). India is a very old nation with a very long history and culture of many thousand years. It is a living civilization that refused to die in spite of repeated invasions and occupations by outsiders. Its Prana, which was described as Ma Durga in Vande Mataram, is still alive and flourishing. Thus, Republic day does not just represent the formation of a new country, it truly marks the freeing of an old national spirit personified as Bharat Mata from the clutches of colonialism.
But, this Indian Prana, the very lifeline of our republic, faces more threats to its existence- internal and external- today, than it did in 1947 when India finally got out of colonialism. There are a number of breaking India forces (to use a term popularized by Rajiv Malhotra), who are continually attempting to exploit already existing fault lines in the Indian society and also trying to create new fault lines where none exist.
Let’s take a few examples from 2015 itself. There was a great uproar over the lynching of Mohammad Akhlaq by few Hindus in Dadri allegedly over a rumor that a cow was killed and consumed. This was indeed a ghastly incident and was rightly condemned. But, did the incident really call for the whole propaganda of alleged intolerance rising in India? Did it really call for writers returning their awards over supposed intolerance? If such an incident indeed calls for such huge outrage, why was there no outrage, no return of awards over the death of Sanju Rathod, which happened many months before Dadri, and who was killed by a group of Muslims because a cattle belonging to a Hindu family grazed on the land belonging to a Muslim family?
Violence or murder is indeed ghastly and condemnable whether it is committed by people belonging to majority community or minority community. Yet, why only one deserved media attention and country wide staging of outrage and the other was equally ignored by everyone? This incident clearly establishes how there are certain breaking India forces working behind the scenes who exploited Hindu-Muslim fault lines that exist to defame India and create a false sense of fear and intolerance about India. The whole intolerance movement, which magically became silent after Bihar election’s outcome, points towards a deep nexus between people in various fields who have joined hands with breaking India forces.
A similar media bias and exploitation of an existing fault line can be seen with respect to Dalit issues. Any incident, any crime related to a Dalit is always portrayed as an issue of caste discrimination, though in reality it may not be. At the same time, any incident that identifies Dalit as a Hindu is deliberately suppressed as well. A comparison of the media’s treatment of suicide of Rohith Vemula with the media’s treatment of the recent murder of Savan Rathod clearly brings out the biasness.
Rohith’s suicide has been increasingly being portrayed as Dalit issue and issue of Caste oppression, though his family is claiming he was not even a Dalit. At the same time, the death of Savan Rathod, another Dalit, who was burnt by a group of Muslims simply because he was a Hindu, has been completely suppressed. This incident again reinforces the fact that certain sections of the media and outrage brigade has no real concern towards losing human lives or care towards increasing violence and crimes. They are only concerned at exploiting these historical fault lines of Indian society to further weaken Indian society and destroy the idea of India as Bharat- the living national spirit that had come down from hoary past.
These are not the only attempts at breaking India. The year 2015 was marked with various serious issues that were in many a sense manufactured to create a new fault line where none exist. The issue of women’s entry into Sabarimala and the ban on Jallikattu, and the outrage over elephants kept in temples are only a few major examples.
It is significant to note that each of these issues is related to Hinduism, Hindu traditions, and practices. The issue of prohibition of women into certain temples like Sabarimala was deliberately transformed from a religious issue into an issue of women’s rights. Similarly, Jallikattu was banned under the pretext of animal rights violations, though the ground reality was something different. These very same people who cry over supposed injury to temple bulls or temple elephants have continuously maintained silence over illegal cow slaughtering, celebration of beef eating, or even goat slaughtering during Bakrid, etc.
The fact of the matter is neither Jallikattu nor temples keeping bulls are by design violent in nature. There may be occasional incidents of injury to animals. But, such incidents can be minimized by proper regulation and monitoring. The outrage brigade is clearly not interested in such monitoring, because their actually concern is not the safety of the animals, but regarding how they can exploit the issue to dismantle Hinduism that forms the foundation of Indian life and Indian national spirit-Prana.
It is in this context that various initiatives that map elements of Indian society, be it Harvard mapping of the Kumbh Mela (exposed by Rajiv Malhotra), or reports about how burning incenses are causing air pollution, or reports released by the ilk of ‘Armed Conflict Resolution and People’s Rights Project’, must be understood. These are all attempts at dismantling Indian society, culture, and traditions, so that they could be broken down and Indian way of life is completely destroyed.
Then, there are of course the Christian missionaries and their evangelization projects like Joshua Project, Project Thessalonica, etc. using which they harvest the souls; and the rising influence of radical Islam and Islamic terrorism, as witnessed recently in Malda violence and the recent arrests of ISIS suspects. These are other major threats to Indian society.
It is high time that the Indian political establishment, as well as the common citizens, stop whitewashing burning issues and start identifying the power centers that fuel these breaking India forces and develop proper responses and mechanism to counter them. Unless Indian society develops these necessary responses, we are at the risk of losing our national spirit, our national Prana in the coming decades.
Along with the undeniable natural beauty, the Kashmir valley has developed a reputation for adventurous activities like trekking, hiking, and river rafting. Kashmir has maintained its charm, allowing us to time-travel into beautiful destinations which make one forget about the stress and worries of life. The hikes in Kashmir offer adventurers to go on a self-discovery trip through nature's lap over the mountains while taking in the breathtaking scenery that surrounds them on their journey. In addition to the hikes, there are many thrilling adventure activities, like rock climbing, rope climbing, etc. Trekking across the region of mountains and lakes will allow you to experience living in the "Paradise on Earth," and you wouldn't want to return to your regular life after that.
The following are some of the finest hiking destinations in Kashmir:
#1: Kashmir Great Lakes Trek: You will be transported to a heavenly and unseen aspect of Kashmir on the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek. In addition to three high-altitude passes and five river valley crossings, this is the only trip in the Himalayas that includes seven alpine lakes, each of which is a stunning shade of green, blue, or turquoise. The extravagance is limitless and breathtakingly stunning every day: infinite blue sky, a larger-than-life backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, colourful meadows overflowing with wildflowers, river crossings are just a few examples of what you will encounter during the trek.
You will be transported to a heavenly and unseen aspect of Kashmir on the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek. | Photo by prayer flags on Unsplash
#2: Sonamarg-Vishansar-Bandipora Trek: The Sonamarg-Vishansar-Bandipora trek is a one-of-a-kind experience that provides a glimpse into Kashmir's undiscovered regions. Sonamarg, famously known as the Meadows of Gold, is the starting point for this fascinating journey that is the perfect experience for anyone looking to get away from the frantic tourist rush. This trek is a fascinating journey that allows nature enthusiasts to bask in the splendour of nature's grandeur. The trek goes over many high mountain passes, some as high as 4000 metres in elevation. The hiking route, in addition to providing breathtaking views of the magnificent Vishansar Lake, provides visitors with the chance to see more than 50 alpine lakes.
Sonamarg, famously known as the Meadows of Gold, is the starting point for this fascinating journey. | Photo by YASER NABI MIR on Unsplash
ALSO READ: Top 10 Beautiful Sights To VIsit In Kashmir
#3: Tral-Narastan-Marsar Trek: The Tral-Narastan-Marsar trek is filled with a range of exciting experiences from beginning to end. The hiking trail passes past a waving saffron field, beautiful meadows, and several streams. The path also crosses the Dachigam National Park, where there is an opportunity to see various animal species. Trekkers may take in spectacular views of the high mountains running parallel to them as they cut and pass through Narastan, a Hindu pilgrimage place.
The Tral-Narastan-Marsar trek is filled with a range of exciting experiences from beginning to end. | Wikimedia Commons
#4: Chhatargul-Mahlish-Gangabal: The journey, which passes through beautiful locations such as Chattargul, Mahlish, Kolsar, and Trunkul, provides a peek into an utterly uninhabited wilderness of Kashmir. There are lakes and meadows adorned with flowers along the route as one trek into the alpine wilderness. Trekkers can also enjoy fishing in the crystal clear lakes, camping, or just seeing towering snow-capped mountains while on their journey.
There are lakes and meadows adorned with flowers along the route as one treks into the alpine wilderness. | Wikimedia Commons
#5: Kolahoi Base Camp Trek: The Kolahoi Base Camp trek in Kashmir has been famous since the early 1900s and has been a goal for many seasoned hikers from across the world. While Srinagar serves as the beginning point for the trip, it is in Aru Valley that the actual hiking begins. The Kolahoi Base Camp Trek is a gentle adventure that is ideal for novices and families with children. The breathtaking sight of the peaks rising into the sky on the horizon of the Pirpanjal and Karakoram ranges is certainly worth capturing. It is considered to be one of the most popular treks in the Kashmir valley.
he Kolahoi Base Camp Trek is a gentle adventure that is ideal for novices and families with children. | Wikimedia Commons
Kashmir's natural splendour, with its beautiful valleys and towering mountains, is really unlike anywhere. Trekking through various valleys and peaks while taking in the scenic beauty is something that always calms the heart and provides us with memories that we will remember for a lifetime.
Keywords: Kashmir, Lakes, Alpine, Hiking, Trekking, Treks, Sonamarg, Gangabal, Kolahoi, Chhatargul, Mahlish, Tral, Narastan, Marsar
The Pitru Paksha starts after the Full Moon day, and this day marks the beginning of the waning phase of the Lunar cycle. This event is roughly of 15-day period, and is of great significance. From this day, rituals like Tarpan or Tarpanam and Shradh are carried out to pay respects to dead relatives and ancestors.
It is believed that from the very first day till the last day, the unhappy souls of the deceased return to the Earth to see their family members. So, in order to ensure that the dead attain Moksha, i.e. to get liberation, family members of these souls quench their thirst and satisfy their hunger by performing the Pind Daan, which includes offering food consisting of cooked rice and black sesame seeds. The literal meaning of Pind Daan is the act of satisfying those who no longer exist physically.
For fifteen days, prayers are offered in temples and rituals are performed to help the souls get free from the cycle of birth, life, and death, and attain salvation.
At the same time, the Pitru Paksha is also an important period for people with Pitru Dosha, which means the curse imposed by the ancestors. Hence, in order to ask forgiveness, people perform Shradh rituals and offer food to the crows, who are considered as living beings that represent the dead. It is believed, if the crow eats the offered food, the ancestors are happy and pleased. But, if the crow doesn't eat the offered food and flies away, the ancestors are not happy.
The event of Pitru Paksha is widely observed by Hindus from all over the world, and they perform prayers and rituals in order to gain their ancestors blessings.
At the heart of Bangalore city, a large 300-acre space of lush greenery and heritage stands as a symbol of the city's past, present, and future. Cubbon Park is every child's favourite park, every Bangalorean's haven of fresh air, and altogether, the city's pride.
It stands testament to the past, in terms of the diversity of flora it houses. Bangalore traffic in the recent past has grown into a menace, but the stretch between MG Road and Cubbon Park is always a pleasurable place to stop and wait for the signal to turn green. The gust of wind that blows here, and the smell of mud, coupled with floral scents instantly transports citizens to Old Bangalore, where the weather was fine, and the trees loomed over roads with thick canopies that did not even allow rainwater to penetrate. Cubbon Park is also a historical site, and one of the few remaining monuments of colonial heritage in Central Bangalore. It houses many statues and among them, the most famous is that of Queen Victoria, which faces the St. Mark's Square.
The stretch outside Cubbon Park is cool and well-shaded from the canopy of trees over it. Image source: wikimedia commons
At present, Cubbon Park is known for the cultural hub that it is. It houses Jawahar Bal Bhavan, which is a large theatre that hosts film festivals through the year. Festivals, poetry open mics, and other such shows are conducted on the lawns every Sunday. A small stream runs through the park, where boat rides are held occasionally when the water level is high enough. There is a children's park on one corner, and a government-maintained aquarium, two-storeys tall, with exotic fish.
The Park has been renamed many times in the past. It was originally named Meade's Park, after Sir John Meade, the acting commissioner of Mysore in 1870. It was later changed to Cubbon Park after Sir Mark Cubbon, who was the longest-serving commissioner of the Mysore state. In 1927, the park was renamed after the Mysore Maharaja Sri Krishna Wodeyar, to celebrate his silver jubilee, since the park was developed during the reign of his ancestors. Even though it is officially named Sri Chamrajendra Park, it is still known as Cubbon Park all over the city. In fact, Bangalore was alluded the sobriquet of 'Garden City' because of the rich botanical diversity of this park.
Art Installation at Cubbon Park Image source: wikimedia commons
In many parts of the country, governments have renamed structures, places, and cities to remove traces of colonialism. But, in a city like Bangalore, there is too much evidence of the British rule. Many of the most prominent attractions of the city are known by their British identities despite the change in name. Even the city's name continues to be Bangalore, despite having been changed to Bengaluru. Last year, the British era and its achievements were celebrated in Cubbon Park when Sir Mark Cubbon's statue was moved from the grounds of the Karnataka High Court and placed in the Park.
Keywords: Cubbon Park, Mark Cubbon, British Colonialism, Cultural hub, Garden City