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By Nithin Sridhar
After successfully trashing the Modi government over Dadri lynching issue, it appears that the media have now found a new scapegoat- Union Minister General VK Singh.
The recent controversy over the remarks made by VK Singh is a case in point. The former General on Thursday tried to drive home a point that the Union government cannot be held accountable for every local or state level issue including those related to law and order. But, if one were to believe the mainstream media, he equated the Dalits with the dogs.
If one were to simply listen to what exactly Singh said one would know that there was neither denigration nor any insult heaped on the Dalit people. Singh explicitly stated that, the local issues should not be connected with the government and that the issue of Dalit killing was being investigated. He added that, just as the government cannot be blamed for a person stoning a dog in the street, every local issue should not be blamed on the government.
But, the mainstream media jumped on the issue immediately and using VK Singh as the scapegoat branded the entire Modi government as being anti-Dalit.
Just a day before this, the media had the Union government as being anti-North Indians. The scapegoat used was another Union Minister Kiran Rijiju. Speaking at a function, Kiran Rijiju quoted a former Lt. Governor of Delhi as saying people in north India enjoy breaking rules. He was clearly making a simple observation regarding the rising condition of law and order and people’s attitude towards the same.
Yet, the media used it to portray the Modi government as being divisive. Commenting on the issue, Arvind Kejriwal tweeted:
Rijiju ji, pl don’t divide Indians into North n south Indians, Hindus n muslims. All Indians r good. It is politics that we need to improve
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) October 22, 2015
And this tweet was quoted extensively by all mainstream media houses to establish how the Union government is dividing the country along regional and religious lines. One is left wondering, how did the issue of Hindu-Muslim divide even come into the picture? Similarly, during the Dadri lynching issue, though the issue was clearly a law and order issue, which is a responsibility of the state government, the media successfully managed to put the spotlight on the central government, thanks to some senseless comments by some BJP leaders themselves. If anything, the BJP leaders can be accused for their foot in the mouth syndrome, despite of knowing how mainstream media are quite vocal about its anti-Modi, anti-BJP, and anti-Union government stand. But, that does not make PM Modi or his government divisive or hostile to certain communities. The media has repeatedly adopted its tactic of first blowing a trivial issue out of proportion and then twisting it to misguide public and portray the Union government as being anti-Dalit, anti-minority, and as against any idea of united, safe, and secure India. Worse still is the narrative that the media is carrying out, especially around sensitive issues like those of Dadri lynching that makes one wonder whether the media is a watchdog of democracy or is it promoting an agenda to bring down the Modi government by causing nationwide unrest? This is not an assessment of just this writer. Hundreds of people across the country have recognized this trend which they have expressed through the hashtag #MediaWantsRiots on Twitter. Madhu Kishwar, an Indian academic and writer expresses similar sentiments in her tweets:
Disgusting how VK Singh’s comments being deliberately distorted by media.Forget dogs, even if a mosquito is killed media puts blame on Modi — Madhu Kishwar (@madhukishwar) October 22, 2015
Becoming increasingly clear that anti Modi opposition is preparing the ground & atmospherics for large scale riots to bring down Modi govt.
— Madhu Kishwar (@madhukishwar) October 22, 2015
Let there be no mistake, the media is not being criticized for its genuine criticism of the working of the government. It is being criticized for ignoring the real issues and giving unnecessary coverage to the trivial one’s with a clear biasness in its commentary. Senior journalist Surajit Dasgupta rightly asks in his tweet:
But, the media continues to ignore all criticisms of biasness against its reportage. The criticizers have been branded as ‘pseudo-patriots’ and ‘bhakts’. It is high time to start asking the difficult questions: Is media really running anti-India agenda? Is the media abetting breaking India forces? If yes, then who is the mastermind behind this anti-government propaganda?
Thankfully, at least one public intellectual has started asking these questions.
Well being of our society seriously endangered by 24×7 news channels.Who’s masterminding these anchors into instigating fasaad over trifles?
— Madhu Kishwar (@madhukishwar) October 22, 2015
Each year Diwali is celebrated on Krishna Paksha Chaturdashi, the 14th lunar day of the dark fortnight in the Tamil month of Aippasi. Ancient scriptures of India advise people to worship Yama, the deity of death on the days of Dhantrayodashi, Narak Chaturdashi and Yamadwitiya. People light an oil Diya or 13 oil diyas made of wet wheat flour in the evening. They are kept facing southwards just outside people's residences. These lamps which are traditionally dedicated to Lord Yama are known as Yama Deepam.
It is believed that placing a Yama Deep in the evening of Trayodashi of the dark fortnight of Kartik month prevents any untimely death in the family. The legend of Skanda Purana says that the lighting of Yama Deepams with faith and devotion by the devotees can get the lord to bless them with grace and long and healthy life. Yamadev, the lord of death himself gave assurance to his attendants that even though death is inevitable and cannot be avoided those who perform this Deepdan on Dhantrayodashi will not suffer an early death.
The ritual Yama tarpanam can also be performed early in the morning on Diwali day as a form of worshipping Yama.
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Story of Origin of Yamadeepadana
A 16-year-old son of King Hima was destined to die on the fourth day of his married life due to a snake bride. A girl agreed to marry the unlucky prince despite knowing his ill fate.
She wanted to save her husband; on the fourth day of their marriage, the young bride didn't allow her husband to sleep. She lit the palace with innumerable Deepas, and gathered all her ornaments, jewellery and coins, and placed them in a heap at the entrance. When Lord Yama, guise as a snake reached the palace, his eyes were blinded by the dazzle of deepas, preventing him from entering the room. He waited near the ornament and coins for the prince to approach them. He sat there all night listening to the songs and tales narrated by the young bride. Soon, the sun rose and Lord Yama had to return empty-handed. The wife had saved her husband from the mouth of the death. Since the day of Dhanteras was named Yamadeepdaan and this tradition was celebrated by burning lamps through the night dedicated to Lord Yama.
When Lord Yama, guise as a snake reached the palace, his eyes were blinded by the dazzle of deepas.Unsplash
Elements of Yamadeepadana
To perform the ritual of Yamadeepadan one requires sandalwood paste, turmeric, vermilion, flowers to offer to the god, consecrated rice in the ritualistic pattern. For achaman (purification ritual) a cooper platter, tumbler, and a spoon are required. The lamp is placed in a copper platter to be taken out of the house. Most importantly, you need to prepare 13 lamps made of kneaded wheat flour mixed with turmeric powder.
Significance of wheat flour lamps
On the day of Dhanteras, the Tama-dominant (negative) energy frequencies are active in a higher proportion which causes untimely death. The lamps made of wheat flowers neutralize these energies and protect you from any unfortunate death.
Why "13" lamps?
- 13 lamps are offered to the lord as the frequencies coming from Lord Yama stay only 13 moments of Hell. Hence, 13 Deepas are lit to appeal to the lord this is known as Yama-Tarpan.
- The number '13' has the power to impress Yama; therefore, on the day of Trayodashi, prayer is made to Yama by offering 13 lamps to escape from death.
- The period of death of an embodied soul is 13 days long, during this period a black covering of death occurs around the soul and slowly it succumbs, in the next 13 days the souls penetrate through subtle boundaries of time to go to other 'loka' from earth aka bhoo-Loka. Untimely death occurs by crossing over these 13 wheels of time. To avoid such untimely death in the subtle 13 wheels of time, 13 'Deep-Daan is performed.
Diwali is one of the most auspicious festivals celebrated in India with utmost dedication, happiness, enthusiasm, and passion by the people. By performing Yamatarpan, the sins of the entire year are cleansed.
Keywords: Diwali, Dhanteras, Lord Yama, prevent untimely death, Yamadeepadan, diyas ritual, wheat flour lamps
South India is renowned for many things that elicit culture and tradition. One of the things normally associated with this intricate and impenetrably tradition-bound group of people is their immense love for gold. Their temples, sarees, utensils, and sometimes even food are coated in gold. Their jewellery, while stunning, often bears social implications within their own family hierarchies. One of these traditions is upheld even during Deepavali.
A practice followed usually in wealthy households, Thalai Deepavali is the first Deepavali celebrated after the daughter of the house is married off. During her wedding, the father of the bride would have put up a spectacle, no doubt, but on this occasion as well, he has to host his son-in-law with all the splendour he can afford.
A gold ring studded with diamonds Image credit: Wikimedia commons
The newlyweds come to the bride's house to celebrate an elaborate week of festivities. During their stay, no work is required of them. They are pampered and fed with the best food, choice delicacies, and clothed in beautiful adornments. The son-in-law is taken very good care of and is looked up to as the one who takes up responsibility for the welfare of his bride.
Thalai Deepavali is an intimate celebration while it lasts, but its success reflects only when the groom goes back home. As tradition requires, the bride's father is supposed to present the groom with a ring made of gold. Ideally, it is supposed to represent his worth in the family. Based on the prosperity of the bride's family, and the social standing of the groom's family, the ring is also set with precious stones. It is believed that the pure and unchanging nature of gold will rub off on the wearer. It is every father's wish that his daughter is well-placed in the in-laws' house. When the groom returns home, if the ring does not meet the expectations of his family, it is likely that the relations between both families are soured for a long time.
Deepavali celebrations in Chennai, Tamil Nadu Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
As enduring as gold is in the southern states, it is a symbol of their culture more than anything else. On the occasion of Deepavali as well, gold is the light that shines on a girl's marital life and the blessing to her husband's family.
Keywords: Thalai Deepavali, Family Celebration, elicit culture and tradition.
Deepavali or Diwali is the name given to the Festival of Lights (deep-lamp, vali - array) and is celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and certain Buddhists. The celebration lasts five days and is held during the Hindu lunisolar month of Kartika. Diwali represents the spiritual winning of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance.
During Diwali, people dress in their best clothes, decorate their homes with diyas and rangoli, hold worship ceremonies for Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity and wealth, light fireworks, and gather with their families for family feasts during which sweets and gifts are exchanged.
Diwali is a joyous festival in the Jammu and Kashmir Province, just as it is across the rest of India. The whole city of Jammu comes to life during Diwali, and there is a palpable sense of excitement in the air. In preparation for the festival, many begin decorating their homes several months in advance. While some people paint their houses, others meticulously clean their homes.
Diwali is a joyous festival in the Jammu and Kashmir Province, just as it is across the rest of India. | Photo by Umesh Soni on Unsplash
On Diwali, people put on new clothing and proceed to temples, where they buy large quantities of sweets to distribute to friends and family. To light their homes and places of business, people also purchase earthen lamps, candles, and electrical accessories.
But, Kashmiri Pandits do not celebrate Diwali with great zeal since they adhere to Shivaism, i.e., they follow the Hindu God Shiva in particular. On this day, however, they perform Puja, which is a religious ceremony.
Many people are seen during the evening hours when devotees flock to temples in Srinagar and elsewhere to offer special prayers and light lamps to commemorate the occasion. The sweet stores in Srinagar bustle with customers as Muslims exchange sweets with their Hindu friends and acquaintances.
Keywords: Diwali in Jammu, Kashmiri Pandits, Diyas, temples, Srinagar, Muslims, Lakshmi- Shiva,