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By Nithin Sridhar
January first is widely celebrated across the world as the beginning of the New Year. This date for the New Year is according to the Gregorian (or English) calendar instituted by Pope Gregory in 1582 CE. Thus, this Gregorian New Year is a Christian observation, which though has been widely adopted in many countries, yet many non-Christian nations and cultures follow their own New Year dates as well.
Chinese celebrate their new year (called as Nian) according to their own Lunar Calendar and it usually falls in February of the English Calendar. The Iranians celebrate Nowruz, according to the ancient Persian calendar, which usually falls on March 20/21. Similarly, the Islamic countries observe Hijri New Year according to Islamic Calendars and Israel observes Rosh Hashanah, both of which fall in the first week of October.
But, perhaps it is in India alone, one can find the largest diversity in the dates observed as the beginning of a New Year as well as the manner in which they are celebrated. Apart from celebrating January 1, Indians celebrate at least six other dates as New Year. These dates are calculated according to different astronomical considerations based on different regional calendars.
The reformulated Saka Calendar, which was adopted as the Indian National Calendar after India’s independence, observes March 22 of the English Calendar as the first day of the year. This calendar is based on the coronation of Shalivahana king in the 78 CE and though it has been adopted as an official civil calendar, it is not used by the people in the observation of their festivals, etc. Instead, people in South India largely use traditional Shalivahana Calendar (which also starts with 78 CE) where the beginning of the year is calculated using astronomical calculations.
Apart from this, different regions have different Calendars. Thus, Odias follow Odia Calendar, Bengalis follow Bengali Calendar, Gujarati’s follow Gujarati Calendar, and people from Tamil Nadu and Kerala follow Tamil and Malayalam calendars. Just as traditional Shalivahana Calendar is widespread in South India, Vikram Samvat Calendar is widespread in North India. This calendar was established by King Vikramaditya in 56 BC after his victory over the Sakas.
The Gujarati New Year, which is observed on the Sukla Pratipada (1st day in the bright fortnight) in the month of Kartika, is according to the beginning of the year in Vikrama Samvat Calendar. The Vikrama Calendar begins in Kartika month that falls in October/November as against traditional Salivahana Calendar or the Indian National Calendar where the year starts in the Chaitra month (i.e. March/April). Thus, the Gujarati New Year is celebrated a day after Diwali and in 2016, it will fall on October 31.
But, in the Kutch region of Gujarat, the New Year is celebrated on the second day of the bright fortnight in the month of Ashada, which in 2016 will fall on July 6.
Apart from Gujarat, most other regions celebrate the first day of the year during the beginning of the month of Chaitra (that falls in March/April), which marks the beginning of spring season. Though, the beginning of Chaitra has been fixed as March 22 in the Indian National Calendar, it is not used for religious purposes. Instead, the beginning of the Chaitra month is calculated based on either traditional Shalivahana Calendar, which is a Luni-Solar calendar, or based on regional Solar calendars.
The Solar Calendar’s rely only on the movements of the Sun for their calculations. On the other hand, Luni-Solar calendars take into account the movements of the Moon along with that of Sun. Thus, there two different dates arrive for the beginning of the month of Chaitra that forms the New Year according to these calendars. In 2016, for example, the Luni-solar New Year begins on April 8 and Solar New Year begins on April 13/14.
Thus, Karnataka, Andra Pradesh, Telangana, and Maharashtra, which follow Luni-Solar calendars celebrate New Year on April 8. The festival associated with the day is called as ‘Ugadi’ in Karnataka, Andra Pradesh, and Telangana, and as ‘Gudi-Padwa’ in Maharashtra. The Sindhis celebrate ‘Cheti Chand’, Rajasthani Marwaris celebrate ‘Thapna’ and Kashmiris observe ‘Navreh’ on the same day as well.
On the other hand, the Tamil ‘Puthandu’ and the Bengali ‘Naba Barsha’ have fallen on April 14; and the Odia ‘Pana Sankranti’ and Punjabi New Year ‘Baisaki’ have fallen on April 13. Kerala celebrates New Year on two days. The traditional New Year according to the Malayalam calendar starts with the month of Chingam, which will fall on August 17. However, many Keralites, especially in Malabar area, observe ‘Vishu’ which falls on April 14 this year as the New Year.
Thus, the presence of a large number of Solar, Lunar, and Luni-Solar calendars and their deep connection with the religious festivals and practices, has resulted in Indians of different regions celebrating New Year on different days. This diversity, along with the diversity in the way various festivals associated with the New Year are celebrated, demonstrates a rich culture and heritage of this nation.
Among the Tamil epics written during the Sangam age, only a few survived to this day. Manimegalai is one such. It is written as a sequel to the Sillapadikaram, taking the story forward of Kovalan and Madhavi's daughter, Manimegalai. The Sillapadikaram is about the injustice of the Madurai kingdom in the execution of Kovalan, which turned Kannagi, his wife into a goddess seeking vengeance for her husband's death. Kovalan, before his death, has an affair with a court dancer, Madhavi, and his daughter, Manimegalai, is said to begin a different tradition among the Tamils.
The epic, written by Sattanar, introduces Buddhism to Dravidian culture, something that has been alien to them for years. Manimegalai is the protagonist, who flees constantly from the pursuit of Chola prince Udhayakumara, and tries to lead an ascetic life. Throughout the plot, Buddhist tenets are used to avoid the culmination of a love-story. Manimegalai is believed to be the anti-love story sequel to the Sillapadikaram.
A complete work of Tamil epic written by hand on leaves Image source: wikimedia commons
The Sillapadikaram was written by a Jain monk, Illango Adigal, and Sattanar, uses the sequel to question Jainism. It is almost a political battle between two new religions competing for a place in a predominantly Hindu society. Parts of Manimegalai even go to the extent of opening ridiculing Jain practices and beliefs.
Critics of Tamil literature have stated that while the Tamil epics have great poetic significance, they are inferior to other world epics when it comes to clearly portraying religious affiliations. In fact, they refer to the newer religions with an infant's perspective. Some scholars have found that Sillapadikaram has more ethical substance than its sequel, but in and of itself, despite being written by a Jain monk, reads like Hindu poetry (Subhramanya Aiyar, 1906).
Keywords: Manimegalai, Sillapadikaram, Tamil Epic, Sattanar, Ilango Adigal, Chola kingdom, Sangam Age, Buddhism
The Covid-19 pandemic could act as an inflection point to shift India's growth model from being consumption driven to investments-led. In its Ecoscope report, Motilal Oswal Financial Services, said: "With Covid-19 hurting India's 'Household' (HH) and 'Government' sectors adversely, the continuity of strong consumption growth is in question."
"On the contrary, with listed companies' financial positions improving and an uptick in household investments in the Real Estate sector (called physical savings), the narrative of investment-led recovery is gaining momentum." The report prescribed that various economic participants - households, governments, listed companies, and unlisted corporates -- to increase their fixed asset investments in the immediate future based on their financial position.
The Covid-19 pandemic could act as an inflection point to shift India's growth model from being consumption driven to investments-led. | Photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash
At present, the listed and unlisted corporate sector accounts for only about half of total investments in India. The 'HH' sector including unincorporated enterprises accounts for 35-40 per cent in India's investments, while the remaining 12-13 per cent is contributed by centre and states governments. Besides, the report cited that demand environment is expected to remain subdued due to weak financial position of 'HH' and government sector.
"Despite household investments picking up strongly in 2HFY21, given that Indian households bore the maximum brunt of Covid-led losses in CY20 (and CY21), we believe household spending would remain subdued over the next few years." It further pointed out that unless 'HH', 'Unlisted Corporate', and government sectors can improve their financial positions -- leading to a demand uptick -- a strong revival in investments seems challenging. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: India, covid, pandemic, growth, household, government, investment
SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said that next time the Dragon spacecraft will have food warmer and free WiFi. Taking to Twitter, the crew of Inspiration4 shared a checklist of things they have been enjoying while orbiting safely around the Earth.
"Can't believe we're eating cold pizza in space. It's extraordinary!" Inspiration4 tweeted. In response, Musk apologised for the cold food, saying: "Sorry, it was cold! Dragon will have food warmer and free WiFi next time."
Inspiration4 Crew | Wikimedia Commons
After lifting off for space, SpaceX's Inspiration4, the first all-civilian crew, is healthy, happy and doing well in the orbit, the company said recently. The mission lifted off at 8.02 p.m. (EDT) on Wednesday (5.30 am IST on Thursday) aboard SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft from the historic Launch Complex 39 in NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
It is commanded by tech entrepreneur Jared Isaacman who has been joined by medical officer Haley Arceneaux, a pediatric cancer survivor; Mission Specialist Chris Sembroski, an Air Force veteran and aerospace data engineer; and Mission Pilot Sian Proctor, a geoscientist, entrepreneur and trained pilot. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Elon Musk, SpaceX, Inspiration4, Dragon, Wifi, food