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A person dressed up as Ravan for Ramleela

According to the memoirs of Munshi Faizuddin, who was a noble in the court of Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last emperor of the Mughal dynasty, a Neelkanth bird (Indian Roller) was set free from the Red Fort, which denoted the beginning of Dusshera celebrations.

Also, according to Bazm-e-Akhir, on Dussehra afternoon, horses with gold and silver saddles were paraded below the jharokha behind the fort in raiti, which was the dry land between Yamuna bank and the fort wall.

Rana Safvi, an Indian historian says that the in charge of the royal stables would prepare horses for this special occasion. In fact, the incharge used to apply henna on the horses' hooves and colour their foreheads. After this, the emperor used to choose the best-dressed animal. Dussehra was quite a celebration even in medieval times!

According to Hindu mythology, Dussehra is celebrated because of the victory of good over evil, as Lord Ram killed the demon Ravan. And, to mark the celebration, Ramleela takes place. It is believed that Ramleela began in Delhi 350 years ago when Mughal king Shahjahan built Shahjahanabad, which is today known as the Old Delhi.

In fact, in the medieval era, the quatrains of Tulsi Das' Ramayana were recited in Persian and Urdu in the presence of the Mughal emperor.

According to Swapna Liddle, who is another renowned Indian historian, Ramleela at Yamuna banks behind the Red Fort was only meant for the city residents and also for the royal family, which continued at the same location for years. But after the 1857 uprising, the venue was changed. First, it was shifted to Tees Hazari Bagh and later the Ramleela used to take place outside the Ajmeri Gate. Interestingly, people would carry the ashes of burnt Lanka homes as it was considered sacred, and this is a tradition that is still in practice!

After the fall of the Mughal dynasty, the Ramleela committees were run with the help of donations, which were majorly made by big city industrialists.

One of the famous Ramleela was organized by Delhi Cloths Mills' (DCM's) workers near the Bara Hindu Rao area, which was sponsored by the Shri Ram family, who was the owner of the factory. Interestingly, this Ramleela had gained a lot of popularity because of its state-of-the-art revolving stage. At the same time, this Ramleela was the first one in Delhi to show Hanuman flying in the air.

Along with Ramleela, a lot more developments took place like eatery stalls were put up for the audience, games corners for children were set up, and in fact, doctors used to come to give free medicine and give lectures on home remedies for various illnesses.

Well, undoubtedly, Ramleela has become a full-on social gathering over time! From the Mughal era to the post-independence era, and to date, Ramleela has evolved but its charm is still the same!

Keywords: Dussehra, Mughal Dynasty, Old Delhi, Ramleela, Hinduism.


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Dozens of female high school and university students in Afghanistan have joined vocational centers to learn tailoring and cosmetology

Dozens of female high school and university students in Afghanistan have joined vocational centers to learn tailoring and cosmetology as the women and girls have been banned from school and university since the Taliban took over the country, Tolo News reported.

According to these girls, sitting at home is very difficult for them, therefore they are willing to learn a profession.

"It has been a couple of months that we are at home since schools and universities were closed. We have to learn a profession or a job because we can't sit like this at home," said Samira Sharifi, a student.

"I want to learn a profession for my future to help my family, we want our schools to be opened so that we can carry on with our education," said Mahnaz Ghulami, a student.

Most of the trainees in the vocational centres are students of high schools and universities.

After the closure of high schools and universities across Afghanistan, Herat female students have started gaining vocational training in the province.

"We have decided to learn tailoring along with our education," said Shaqaiq Ganji, a student.

"It's necessary for every woman to learn tailoring to help her family and her husband, especially in this bad economic situation," said Laili Sofizada, a teacher.

Due to the closure of schools and universities, the number of students in vocational centers doubled compared to recent years, the report added.

"Our classes had the capacity of 20 to 25 students but we increased it to 45 students, because most of the students have lost their spirit, and their schools and universities have closed," said Fatima Tokhi, director of technical and professional affairs at the Herat department of labour and social affairs.

The Labour and Social Affairs department of Herat said the department is working to provide more opportunities for Herat girls and women to learn vocational training.

"The art and professional sector and the kindergarten departments have started their activities, we support them and supervise their activities," said Mulla Mohammad Sabit, head of the labour and social affairs of Herat.

During the past two months, most of the women and girls who worked in state and private institutions lost their jobs and are trying to learn handicrafts and vocational training. (IANS/JB)

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Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

Prime Minister launched Pradhan Mantri Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana (PMASBY) from his parliamentary constituency of Varanasi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday launched the Pradhan Mantri Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana (PMASBY) from his parliamentary constituency of Varanasi which will be one of the largest pan-India schemes to strengthen healthcare infrastructure.

The Prime Minister said that the scheme, estimated to cost Rs 64,000 crore, would make the health infrastructure self-reliant.

"Aarogya concept is needed in everyone's life. We should invest the maximum in physical and mental wellness but, sadly this was not done in the post-Independence period. Due attention was not paid and those who were in power, kept the healthcare system deprived and lacking," he said.

Modi said that the middle-class groups and the poor were the worst sufferers in the absence of adequate facilities at the grassroots level.

"This mission will solve these problems. We are focusing on hill states like Uttarakhand and Himanchal Pradesh and also the northeast. We will address the gaps," he said.

The Prime Minister said that special attention would be laid on early detection and 125 districts will have referral facilities.

Secondly, testing would also be stepped up and 730 districts will get integrated testing laboratories.

He said that research centres will also be upgraded and four new National Institute of Virology units would be set up so that the country can be ready to deal with new viral issues and the pandemic.

He said that as the health infrastructure developed, it would generate new employment opportunities too.

The Prime Minister also announced new development projects worth Rs 5,200 crore for Varanasi.

He said that in the past seven years, Kashi had undergone a change with the building of roads, ghats, bridges, parking lots, and cleaning of the Ganga and Varuna rivers.

"This could have been done earlier but the previous governments lacked political will," he said. (IANS/JB)

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Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Central Vista- the new builddesign of Government of India.

The Supreme Court on Monday sought response from the Centre, within three days, on a plea challenging a notification for change in land use, which would deprive residents of Delhi a vast chunk of green space in the Central Vista area.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted before a bench headed by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar that he will seek instructions from the government. He added since the Prime Minister and Vice President's house is coming up there, therefore it would not be possible to have a recreational area in the vicinity.

After hearing arguments, the bench, also comprising Justice C.T. Ravikumar, posted the matter for further hearing on Friday.

The plea, filed by social activist Rajeev Suri, who had earlier challenged the project earlier citing an illegal change in land use and absence of environmental clearance, through advocate Shikhil Suri, contended that the Centre did, mala fide, issue a notification dated October 28, 2020, notifying the change in land use, which will deprive residents of Delhi a vast chunk of highly treasured open and green space in Central Vista area available for social and recreational activity.

The plea argued that this notification stands against Article 21 (Right to Life) in the right to the enjoyment of wholesome life. "Since the subject plot no 1 takes over spaces of a children's recreational park and bus terminal for public transport, heightened judicial scrutiny is required to cut through the well-disguised illegalities and infirmities to reach the violations of statutory laws," said the plea.

The plea sought the top court to issue directions to call records and quash the notification concerned issued by the Centre, through the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, and, also to prevent loss equities by staying activities such demolition of buildings, cutting of trees, excavation of land and other actions which may be irreversible.

The Central Vista redevelopment project, which covers a three-km stretch from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate in Lutyens' Delhi, at the cost of Rs 20,000 crore, where several government buildings -- including the Parliament House and ministry offices, will be rebuilt.

In January, this year, the Supreme Court had cleared the decks for the Central Vista project by upholding the environmental clearance and the notification for change in land use. (IANS/JB)

Keywords: India, Government, Central Vista, Supreme court of India.