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Kedarnath Temple night view Image: Wikimedia Commons

The annual char(four) dham pilgrimage is opened for its pilgrims from Monday onwards. The two important shrine Gangotri and Yamunotri shrines are opened on the the auspicious ‘Akshay Tritiya‘. The pilgrimage spans for a period of six months after remaining closed for six months in the winters. Religious sites like Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, Badrinath are parts of the chota Char Dham.

NewsGram decodes the significance of these four Char Dhams in Hindu Mythology:


Yamunotri


Yamunotri temple and Ashram Source: Wikimedia Commons

This is the first stopover of the char dham yatra. Yamunotri, the source of the Yamuna River and the seat of the goddess Yamuna. It is famous for its thermal springs and glaciers is a part of famous Char Dham Yatra. Yamunotri is the source of Yamuna river. According to a legend, Asit Muni, a revered sage, used to reside here. The actual source is a frozen lake of ice & glacier (Champasar glacier also known as Yamunotri Glacier) located on the Kalindi mountain at the height of 4421 m above sea level, about 1 km further up, is not frequented generally as it is not accessible and hence the shrine has been located on the foot of the hill. The approach is extremely difficult and pilgrims therefore offer pooja at the temple itself.

Gangotri


Gangotri Temple, Uttarakhand Source: Wikimedia Commons

The picturesque pilgrimage in the hinterlands of the Himalayas is the most sacred spot where Ganga, the stream of life, touched earth for the first time. According to Hindu mythology, Goddess Ganga took the form of a river to absolve the sins of King Bhagiratha’s predecessors, following his severe penance of several centuries. Lord Shiva received into his matted locks to minimize the immense impact of her fall. She came to be called Bhagirathi at her legendary source.

Kedarnath


Kedarnath TempleSource: Wikimedia Commons

The lingam at Kedarnath, unlike its usual form, is pyramidal and is regarded as one of the 12 Jyotirlings. Lord Shiva manifested in the form of Jyotirlingam or the cosmic light. Kedarnath is highest among the 12 Jyotirlingas. This ancient and magnificient temple is located in the Rudra Himalaya range. This temple, over a thousand years old is built of massive stone slabs over a large rectangular platform. It is endowed with utter scenic beauty and lies at an altitude of 3.581 meters.

Badrinath


Badhrinath Badhrivishal TempleSource: Wikimedia Commons

The name of the pilgrimage originates from the local word badri which is a type of a wild berry. It is said that when Lord Vishnu sat in penance in these mountains, his consort Goddess Laxmi took the form of a berry tree and shaded Him from the harsh sun. It is not only the dwelling place of the Lord Himself but also home to countless pilgrims, saints and sages, who meditate here in search of enlightenment.


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A Jain monk offering ablution to Bahubali in Shravanabelagola

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.

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By Siddhi Jain

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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

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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.

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