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Kerala’s famed wetlands face multiple threats, says a book by Experts

The famous wetlands in Kerala face multiple threats today due to rapid development activities, unscientific land use, pollution and deforestation

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Kerala wetlands, wikimedia
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New Delhi, March 2, 2017:  Kerala’s famed wetlands face multiple threats, including from rapid development activities and unscientific land use, says a book authored by experts.

Large-scale reclamation, pollution and deforestation are also causing the area covered by wetlands to shrink, says the “Biodiversity Richness of Kerala” (Kerala State Biodiversity Board).
Authored by K.P. Laladhas, Preetha N. and Oommen V. Oommen, the 462-page book says that the wetlands were being reclaimed with soil extracted from levelling of hillocks.

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“The indiscriminate activities will have a serious negative impact on the entire ecological system,” the authors warn.

In 2004, Kerala had around 328,402 hectares of wetlands. Currently, the book says, this has fallen to 160,590 hectares — a dramatic 49 per cent decrease.

Wetlands directly and indirectly support millions of people by providing ecosystem services such as protection from natural hazards, ground water recharge and discharge, food, fibre and raw materials.

Wetlands also provide a temporary or permanent habitat to a variety of plants, fish and wildlife as mammals, amphibians reptiles and birds by providing food, habitat, breeding grounds and shelter.

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The book says that the riverine ecosystem of Kerala was also subjected to human pressures, altering the hydrological regime and causing enhanced siltation.

Deforestation for various purposes including timber, agriculture and forest plantations, dams, roads, encroachments and mining had affected the water holding capacity of the catchments, drying up the rivers, it says.

The authors warn that over-exploitation and unsustainable harvesting of medicinal plants was a threat to their sustainability.

According to the book, 50 per cent of the medicinal plants were harvested destructively.

“While the demand for medicinal plants is increasing, their survival in their natural habitats is under growing threat.

“Several medicinal plants have been assessed as endangered, vulnerable and threatened due to over harvesting in the wild.

“It is expected that around a 1,000 species of medicinal plants are facing threat to their existence in the wild.”

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Packed with a wealth of information, the book is packed with colourful photographs of both the nature’s beauty as well as the stark reality of human interventions on environment.

Kerala constitutes only 1.18 per cent of India’s geographical area but it accommodates 25.69 per cent of the flowering plants in the country, says the book. (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