Sunday October 22, 2017

Rani Chennamma – India’s first woman independence activist

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By Harshmeet Singh

Most history books regard the sepoy mutiny of 1857 as the first rebellion against the British East India Company. The heroes of this mutiny, including Rani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi, Tantya Tope, Begum Hazrat Mahal and Nana Saheb are household names till date. But long before this mutiny, Karnataka’s Kittur saw the rise of India’s first woman independence activist who took on the mighty British Empire all by herself – Rani Chennamma.

Rani Chennamma was all of 15 when she was married to Kittur’s ruler Mallasarja Desai. Her married life turned out to be quite turbulent with her husband passing way in 1816 and her son meeting the same fate in 1824. With the entire Kittur empire at her helm, he decided to adopt a boy named Shivalingappa and planned to make the boy the heir to Kittur’s throne. The British weren’t happy with her move and asked the queen to expel Shivalingappa from the throne – an order which the queen defied. The British administration sent a message to Kittur, asking the Queen to surrender her empire to the British.

The response of the British was a precursor to the ‘Doctrine of Lapse’. When Lord Dalhousie took over as India’s Governor General in 1848, he introduced the much debated ‘Doctrine of Lapse’, according to which, the rulers of the princely states were forbidden from adopting a child if they didn’t have a natural heir to the throne. Instead, their territory would be acceded by the British Empire.

With no common ground between the two parties, an armed battle ensued. The first round of war saw Rani Chennamma’s forces humiliate the British and kill the British collector. She went on to release the British hostages on the British promise that war won’t be continued. But true to their deceptive nature, the British came back to Kittur with a much larger force and took Rani Chennamma prisoner after a long and fierce battle. She spent the last 5 years of her life in the Bailhongal Fort before breathing her last on 21st February 1829.

Her strong resistance against the British gave them enough indication that their policies won’t be taken by the Indians hands down. Her victory in the first phase of the battle against the British is still remembered fondly in Kittur and surrounding areas. The tales of her bravery have inspired many folk dance and music performances in Karnataka that still continue to be a part of the popular tradition. The Kittur Utsava (22-24 October every year) commemorates her memorable victory that dented the British pride severely and showed everyone that the British forces were far from invincible.

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Lingayats in Karnataka to form Forum, Demand Separate Religion Status

The squabble between the two seers has witnessed several turns past few days

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Lingayats against Veerashaivas
An important center of pilgrimage for people of the Lingayat faith in India. Wikimedia
  • The Lingayat community leaders are planning to form a forum to up the ante on their demand for separate religion status
  • The leaders hold that Lingayats and Veerashaivas are different 
  • Akhila Bharata Veerashaiva Mahasabha meeting is scheduled on August 10 to reach a final decision 

New Delhi, August 9, 2017: The Lingayat community leaders in Karnataka are planning to float an all India front, which will be an umbrella body for all Lingayat outfits in the country. It is an attempt to further up the ante on their demand for a separate religion status.

According to The Hindu report, Akhila Bharata Veerashaiva Mahasabha meeting has been scheduled on August 10, in Bengaluru, where further discussion will take place to evolve a consensus and reach a conclusive decision.

The leaders, at a press conference in Kalaburgi stated, that contrary to the opinion of the Mahasabha, they do not consider Lingayats and Veerashaivas as the same. “We hold that Veerashaiva and Lingayat are different and hence demand independent status for the Lingayat community. A meeting of leaders representing both will be convened in Bengaluru on August 10. If the Veerashaiva Mahasabha continues to adhere to its stand, we will begin to float an Akhila Bharata Linghayat Mahasabha bringing all Lingayat organisations and religious institutions together,” said Sanjay Makal, a Lingayat leader, during the press conference.

“Veerashaiva upholds and practises the principles advocated by the vedas, aagamas, shastras, puranas and other texts that are part of Hindu religion. Based on this, earlier applications for religion tag to Veerashaiva/Lingayat were rejected outright. If we demand independent religion status to Lingayat alone, we will be successful as the demand has solid material base,” he added.

Also read: First Hindi and now English, the Language War in Karnataka Continues

The squabble between the two seers has witnessed several turns past few days. Recently, Lingayat Mahasabha filed a defamation complaint against the Rambhapuri Jagadguru Prasannarenuka Veera Someshwara Rajadeshikendra Shivacharya Mahaswamiji, the head of the Veerashaiva math based out of Chikamagaluru. He had taken a stand that Veershaivas and Lingayats are the same.

On August 2, Sharana Chandramouli, Lingayat Mahasabha State President, filed a complaint against the Rambhapuri Pontiff for allegedly making defamatory statements against Mate Mahadevi, the head of the Lingayat mutt Basava Dharma Peetha.

According to Chandramouli, the Rambhapuri pontiff had issued a statement stating that Mate Mahadevi had, in 1962, written a love letter to Lingananda Swami, the religious head who initiated Mate Mahadevi into the mutt.

The Rambhapuri seer’s statement was followed by protests, with the followers of Mate Mahadevi shouting slogans against the Rambhapuri seer demanding him to tender an apology to the woman seer.

An effigy of the Rambhapuri pontiff was also burnt during the protests.

In reaction to this, on August 1, an effigy of Mate Mahadevi was also burnt, by thousands of followers of the Rambhapuri seer from Gadag, Dharwad and Bidar, who staged a protest in Hubballi.

-prepared by Samiksha Goel of NewsGram. Twitter @goel_samiksha

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In last 3 Years, there is a Significant Rise in Chamundeshwari Temple’s Income

The income rise is seen as there have been donations by devotees collected in the temple hundi and from various sources also.

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Chamundeshwari Temple
Chamundeshwari Temple. Wikimedia commons
  • The income of Chamundeshwari Temple has registered a notable increase over a period of three years
  • During the Ashada Shukravaras, private vehicles are prohibited on the road to Chamundi Hills by the administration
  • This temple is around 1,000 years old

Karnataka, July 31, 2017: On top of Chamundi Hills in Karnataka, there lies the famous Sri Chamundeshwari Temple. The hills are about 13 km from Mysore, Karnataka and globally famous for its beauty. The temple is named Chamudeshwari as in it resides goddess Durga, the word Chamundi means Durga itself. She is the fierce form of Shakti (power). She is known as the slayer of demons- Chanda, Munda and also Mahishasura, (buffalo-headed monster).

This temple is around 1,000 years old and, what was a small shrine initially, gained importance over the centuries and today it has become a big temple. The temple saw its first share of significance after the Maharajas of Mysore known as Wodeyars came to power in 1399 A.D., they were known to be great devotees and worshippers of the Devi Chamundeshwari. She became their home deity and thus assumed religious prominence at that time and it has only seen rise since then.

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The income of Chamundeshwari Temple has registered a notable increase over a period of three years. According to a statement issued by Deputy Commissioner D. Randeep, the temple’s total income between April to July when Ashada Shukravara’s (Fridays) are observed was: in 2015- ₹5.98 crore, in 2016- ₹7.86 crore and reached a height of ₹11.08 crore in 2017.

The total income came from various sources such as pujas and offerings and also the donations collected in the temple hundi. The hundi collection between April and July 2015 was ₹1.63 crore and during the corresponding period in 2016, it was ₹3.51. It increased to ₹3.86 crore in the following year.

The temple income though marginally dipped from ₹4, 35, 29,205 during 2015 (April to July) to ₹4, 35, 08,507 during 2016, it went up significantly to ₹7.22 crore during 2017.As per a statement from the Deputy Commissioner, the Ashada hundi collection alone during 2017 was a surprising ₹1.74 crore and he added that the hundi counting was carried out on July 26 and 27.

A noteworthy point is that there’s a large volume of traffic on the road to Chamundi Hills especially during the auspicious occasions and on weekends.

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During the Ashada Shukravaras, private vehicles are prohibited on the road to Chamundi Hills by the administration. As a solution, alternative arrangements are made for the transport by KSRTC buses. Such is the popularity of this big temple filled with devotees.

As traffic on the road to the hilltop grows dense on weekends and auspicious days, there is big chaos at the last stretch of the road leading to the area around Mahisasura statue owing to haphazard parking.

Whenever the flow of traffic increases, the traffic police halt vehicles near the Mysore City viewing point in order to prevent congestion at the hilltop. The halted vehicles are allowed to proceed only after sufficient parking space is created at the hilltop when the parked vehicles leave the area.

Apart from Chamundeshwari Temple, there are some other wealthy temples in India- Sai Baba Temple of Shirdi and Tirumala Tirupati.

The renowned Sai Baba Temple of Shirdi, managed by Shree Saibaba Sansthan Trust is one of the wealthiest temples in the country. As per official records, from January to December 2016, the revered Sai Baba temple managed to accumulate a received income of ₹403.75 crore. When compared to the previous year’s income (₹393.72 crore), it’s a massive gain. Of the total income gained in the year 2016 ₹258.42 crore was in the form of donations. The temple earned a whopping cash donation of ₹258.42 crore. To make things more golden, it fetched ₹6.74 crore and ₹1.10 crore from 28 kg gold ornaments and silver jewellery, respectively.

When we speak of wealthy temples, how can we not mention Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam? Fondly known as Tirumala, the temple of Lord Venkateswara attained a massive wealth of ₹1,018 in 2016. Adding to the ever-increasing wealth, approximately 10 crore pieces of the iconic Tirupati Laddoo prasadam was sold. Not only this, ₹201 crore was generated by the online business. Each year the temple sells the online-ticket for darshan. In the said year too, more than 67 lakh Hindu devotees bought the online darshan tickets.

prepared by Kritika Dua of NewsGram. Twitter @DKritika08

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Indian Kenyans Acquire Recognition as 44th Tribe in the Country

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Indian Kenyans
Kenya has officially recognised Indian Kenyans as 44th tribe of the country. Wikimedia
  • Indian Kenyans are now officially recognized as the 44th tribe in the country
  • The community has gone through major hurdles in the many years of its presence
  • In the political and social spheres, the Indian Kenyans were never considered an important part of the country to uplift

New Delhi, July 26, 2017: Indian Kenyans community has been recognized as the 44th tribe in the country. But the people have had to wait and fight a long battle to earn it.

Signs of Indian Diaspora in Kenya can be traced back to 17th century. The migration of labor from India to Kenya during the British Empire’s conquests was in considerable numbers. After the emergence of nationalism, Indians were part of the freedom struggle for Kenya.

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Sana Aiyar, a historian, estimates that 2% of the total population was Indian diaspora at the time of Independence of Kenya. They were employed in sectors like wholesale and manufacture. More Indians were concentrated in the capital, Nairobi, estimated at 30% of the total.

Indians poured into Kenya in various professions. Punjabis served as labor for construction of railways in the country. Gujaratis established businesses and became prominent in the markets. Many Indians also came to East Africa to serve the British Army.

Soon, the presence of Indians and Europeans led to the formation of a social heirarchy wherein the Europeans acquired the top of the pyramid, Indians/ Asians at the middle while the native people were left at the bottom.

But Indians were not given political representation. For a long period of time, having been faithful and passionate for Kenya, Indians were not acknowledged. While Indians of Kenyan descent considered their individual identity more closely associated with Kenyan culture, they remained invisible to the governments. In the political as well as social life, Indian Kenyans were never recognized as an integral part of society at large.

Quoted in the New York Times report, Kenyan Parliament’s First Asian descent member said that despite enjoying the economic life in Kenya, Indian Kenyans are excluded from the political and social life.

Signs of Indian Diaspora in Kenya can be traced back to 17th century. Click To Tweet

Now officially recognized as the 44th tribe of the country, Indian Kenyans can now have a confident sense of identity and get accultured with the Kenyans more comfortably. With the recognition, Indian diaspora’s effort in independence and nation-building has been accepted.

– prepared by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394