Thursday December 13, 2018

Keeping aside Boko Haram terror, Northern Nigerian City Celebrates Traditional Festival

Residents of northern Nigerian city celebrated an ancient traditional festival in order to renew a pledge of respect to their ruler

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Northern Nigerian City
The Riders Wearing Robes and Holding Spears in the Celebration. VOA
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  • Residents of northern Nigerian city celebrated an ancient traditional festival in order to pay respect to the ruler
  • The custom of Durbar celebration involved residents from villages and towns who dressed up in colourful robes and rode horses holding spears
  • The celebration saw gathering of more people than last year when people stayed indoor following an attack by the Boko Haram jihadists

Riders sporting warrior robes of bright colours and holding spears were again packing the streets of this northern Nigerian city, to greet their traditional ruler as the local residents celebrated a thousand-year-old tradition in a region hit by Boko Haram.

Last week the traditional ruler in Zaria city rode in a horse carriage to kick off the Durbar celebrations that mark the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

The Durbar is a custom dating back more than 1,000 years which involves warriors from villages and towns in Nigeria’s Muslim north travelling once a year to the emir’s palace to renew a pledge of respect to their ruler.

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But the thousands who packed the streets and minarets of mosques to watch were a far-cry from last year when many stayed indoors from fear following an attack by Boko Haram fighters that killed some 35 people in Zaria.

Nigerian City
Man Dressed as a Warrior, Rides a Horse in the Durbar Festival, Nigeria. Wikipedia

Now, following a military crackdown on the militant group, Alhaji Shehu Idris, Emir of Zazzau, rode to his palace.

He greeted people lining the pot-holed streets of this dusty city as he passed by, Once at the palace, he watched with officials as each area of his traditional constituency presented their turbaned chiefs and warriors in a mark of respect.

Several men — wearing white, red, blue or yellow robes – demonstrated their horse-riding skills on the unpaved parade ground. But some women and girls also walked during the procession.

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The Nigerian military has retaken much of the territory lost to the Boko Haram jihadists. But police cars and gun-wielding police officers posted at the unpaved parade ground in front of the palace were a reminder that suicide bombs by the group remain part of life in the northern region of the oil producer. (VOA)

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  • Anubhuti Gupta

    In a world where everyone is choosing with technological advancements and abandoning their culture, it’s nice to see somewhere in the world it’s being preserved be it in whatever form

  • Manthra koliyer

    Celebrating traditional festivals gets people together.

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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