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Israeli experts train Indian farmers in advanced agricultural practices to cultivate Dates in Gujarat

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Kutch (Gujarat), March 23, 2017: In the semi-arid Kutch region of Gujarat, Israeli experts have been training batches of Indian farmers in advanced agricultural practices to cultivate dates. The initiative, which is part of the bigger Indo-Israel Agriculture Project, is a further boost to the ‘already progressive’ farmers of the region who have been growing a range of fruits and even exporting them to countries like the UAE and the UK.

According to Falgun Modh, Deputy Director of the Horticulture Department in Kutch, the partnership on this particular initiative, which began in 2009-10, is now in the third phase and has been successful in giving a much-needed impetus to farmers to learn the latest farming technology to remain abreast with changing times.

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‘The role of Israeli experts has been mainly to provide technical support. The concept of tissue culture, on which there was no expertise here, is being taught, and so are other things like how to raise a nursery and post-harvest technology so that the produce can last longer and farmers can earn a good profit,’ Modh said.

The Indian harvest of dates, farmers say, coincides with the monsoon and therefore this perishable fruit has to be consumed in the raw form instead of the stage at which it is exported. Post-harvest technology will help farmers deal with this issue.

Having said that, farmers of the region are quite progressive when it comes to adopting new techniques in agriculture and some are already exporting dates, apart from other fruits, to countries such as the UAE. In Kutch, it’s usually the Barhi date variety that is cultivated. Originally from Iraq, the Barhi variety is in high demand in Europe, Malaysia, Canada, and the US, according to farmers.

According to Modh, there have been a series of seminars, and a two-day programme was organised recently for 150 farmers. ‘Thanks to a translator, although the experts spoke in Hebrew, there was no communication barrier,’ he said.

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The Indo-Israel Agriculture Project involves setting up of centres of excellence through which Israeli knowhow is being brought to local farmers through hands-on training and Israeli technology, thereby increasing productivity and crop diversity.

To begin with, nine states, including Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh, were picked for the centres of excellence. States can have more than one centre of excellence, building expertise in a particular fruit cultivation or in other fields such as beekeeping and floriculture. Now six more states — Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Telangana and West Bengal — have been added to the list.

In the case of Kutch, the centre of excellence for dates is coming up near Bhuj, Modh said.

In the third phase of the project, apart from setting up new centres, new activities such as post-harvest technology, water recycling, agricultural machinery, and organic farming will be explored in these centres. (IANS)

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Mahalaya: Beginning of “Devipaksha” in Bengali Celebration of ‘Durga Puja’

“Mahalaya” is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha” and heralds the celebration of Durga Puja

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Mahalaya morning in Kolkata. Flickr
  • Mahalaya 2017 Date: 19th september.
  • On Mahalaya, people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers; which is called ‘Torpon’
  • Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted in All India Radio
  • The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent

Sept 19, 2017: Autumn is the season of the year that sees the Hindus, all geared up to celebrate some of the biggest festivals of India. The festive spirit in the Bengalis all enthused to prepare for the greatest of the festivals, the ‘Durga Puja’.

About Mahalaya:

Mahalaya is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha,” and this year it is celebrated on September 19.

Observed exactly a week before the ‘Durga Puja’, Mahalaya is the harbinger of the arrival of Goddess Durga. It is celebrated to invoke the goddess possessing supreme power! The goddess is invited to descend on earth and she is welcomed with devotional songs and holy chants of mantras. On this day, the eye is drawn in the idols of the Goddess by the artisans marking the initiation of “Devipaksha”. Mahalaya arrives and the countdown to the Durga Puja begins!

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The day of Mahalaya bears supreme significance to the Bengalis. The day is immensely important because on this day people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers. Clad in white dhotis, people offer prayers and take dips in the river while praying for their demised dear ones. The ritual is popular as “Torpon”.

Mahalaya
An idol-maker in progress of drawing the eye in the idol of the Goddess. Wikipedia

As per Hindu myth, on “Devipaksha”, the Gods and the Goddesses began their preparations to celebrate “Mahamaya” or Goddess Durga, who was brought upon by the trinity- Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshwara; to annihilate the fierce demon king named Mahishasura. The captivating story of the Goddess defeating the demon got popularized with the goddess being revered as “Durgatinashini” or the one who banishes all the evils and miseries of the world. The victory of the Goddess is celebrated as ‘Durga Puja’.

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Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted at dawn in All India Radio in the form of a marvelous audio montage enthralling the souls of the Bengalis. Presented with wonderful devotional music, acoustic drama, and classical songs- the program is also translated to Hindi and played for the whole pan-Indian listeners.

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Mahalaya
Birendra Krishna Bhadra (1905-1991). Wikipedia

The program is inseparable from Mahalaya and has been going on for over six decades till date. The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent! He has been a legend and the dawn of Mahalaya turns insipid without the reverberating and enchanting voice of the legendary man.

Mahalaya will keep spreading the magic and setting the vigor of the greatest festival of the Bengalis- the Durga Puja, to worship the supreme Goddess, eternally.

                 “Yaa Devi Sarbabhuteshu, Shakti Rupena Sanhsthita,

                     Namastaswai Namastaswai Namastaswai Namo Namaha.”

– by Antara Kumar of NewsGram. Twitter: @ElaanaC