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It is man versus wild at Sunderbans, where surviving everyday is a struggle. Suderbans (a United Nations World Heritage site) is the world’s largest mangrove forest found in India and Bangladesh. Spread in about 4000 square miles, they provide an intense habitat for the Bengal tiger and various other endangered species.
- 3 rivers the Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna form a delta in Sundarbans and merges into the Bay of Bengal. It comprises of several islands, some miles long whereas some are as small as sandbars. The islands of Sundarbans (meaning beautiful forests) are a home to nearly 4 million people as well as 200 tigers.
- Unlike other big cats, Bengal tigers can comfortably swim in water for miles and this way they cross islands. According to locals “So you only see them when they decide that you’re good enough to be given a vision of orange and black.”
- However, not everyone’s desire is to see them. As there has been several cases of peoples being eaten up by tigers. They attack in stealth mode and rip out their prey.
- Debnath Mondal, a local ranger was recently attacked by a tiger. His mouth was pulled to the right, near his cheek by the tiger. In an interview, he said “I saw the tiger coming in. Everyone shouted, ‘Tiger!’ But before I could do anything, it pounced on me. It landed on my thighs and chest and bit my face and head, I had 80 stitches on my scalp. I can no longer see out of my left eye or hear out of my left ear.” Even after all this he is back now in the forest on his duty.
- Locals believe that tigers are an integral asset of the forest. If forests are destroyed then humans will also not survive. There’s a saying that goes here that “Tigers give us life. So we have to save them along with the forest.”
- According to Saghal, the editor of Sanctuary Asia “With every high tide, a huge amount of land in the Sundarbans disappears and never return. This shrinks the land, so tigers, people, everybody gets squeezed into smaller land areas“. Moreover, when people’s lands and farms become unusable then they move into deeper forests in search for their livelihoods. As a result, they often are encountered with tigers. All this ultimately leads to the death of tigers as well as humans.
- With shrinking space, Tigers even crawl to people’s home. Several techniques have been proposed to prevent attacks from tigers. Some wear backward-facing masks with a face on the back to confuse tigers (It didn’t work though).
- The World Wildlife Fund has helped these people in establishing their livelihoods. They have provided means so that people don’t forge deep into the jungle.
- A solar energy project run via a power station has been set up in the local village. Ratan Saha, head member of this project further elucidates “Spending less time inside the forest means less exposure to the tiger. Beyond this, having light deters tigers and other wildlife and means people can see their own surroundings more easily.”
- Renewable energy experts are going for the “leapfrogging” technology i.e. skipping straight to the better technology rather than gradual advancement.
- Night time lightings have been introduced which has decreased the forest dependency of people. People are now making households products and are selling them to markets.
- Televisions, computers, and printers are now available in the village. This way they are becoming socially more aware and their living standard are also enhancing significantly. With dreams in their eyes, people now want to study and want to help in restoring the balance of an ecosystem. A 17-year-old daughter said, “I want to serve human beings”.
- Fast disappearing Sunderbans are now posing a threat to the very existence to the Royal Bengal Tiger. Sarah Christie (a tiger conservative expert) says “The Sunderbans is one of only a handful of remaining forests big enough to hold several hundred tigers. To lose the Sunderbans would be to move a step closer to the extinction of these majestic animals “
Related articles :
- Are alternative livelihood sources killing the fragile mangrove forests?
- The Jungle Book” breathes new life through technology
- Big cat counts in Odisha, Maoist causing inconvenience
Prepared by : Pritam
Pritam is a 3rd year engineering student in B.P. Poddar institute of management and technology, Kolkata. A simple person who tries to innovate and improvise himself.
Twitter handle @pritam_gogreen
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,