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In an initiative to familiarize Urdu language enthusiasts and budding poetry appreciators with the fundamental vocabulary used in Urdu poetry and conversations, Rekhta Foundation has launched an online learning course titled ‘Alfaaz’.
The majority of the people who are enthusiastic about Urdu poetry and language are the ones whose interests are newfound. The sonic beauty and the discipline of language mesmerize them but their unfamiliarity with Urdu words, the metaphors, and the traditions they derive meaning from keeps them from enjoying poetry in its true form, says Satish Gupta, Head – Programs and Outreach, Rekhta Foundation.
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The course is by Aamozish, an initiative of the Rekhta Foundation for learning and education. The Foundation organizes noted events like Jashn-e-Rekhta. Alfaaz would help such people develop deeper insights into Urdu literature by acquainting them with initially 100 most fundamental words which would be their key to a universe of meanings in poetry. Rekhta plans to include more words into the vocabulary course in the near future, says Gupta.
“Having originated from the composite Ganga Jamuni culture of India, Urdu language helps communicate a large population of the subcontinent. The recent upsurge in people’s interest in the Urdu language is a testament to the people’s love for their culture and tradition. Urdu poetry creates its effect through the layers of meanings accumulated in its words through centuries of traditions. Having a good understanding of them is essential for a reader to enjoy the poems. Besides, a good vocabulary is a solution to many day-to-day needs of people by helping them communicate better. A human being grows with the knowledge of every word as they become aware of the existence of a whole new entity in this universe. Alfaaz by Rekhta is a very important initiative and deserves appreciation as it would contribute to the making of a culturally rich society,” Azhar Iqbal, an Urdu poet, told IANSlife.
“An Urdu couplet, as captivating and straightforward it may seem at first glance, also has multiple layers of meanings as one explores more into it. Thus, to enjoy it in its truest form, a beginner always longs to understand the meanings of the words used in it. To appreciate a poem, these sensibilities are very important and are difficult to be developed without the company of poets or litterateurs. A vocabulary course that acquaints the readers with the meanings, traditions, and the metaphors encompassed within a word can help,” adds Shiwali Rathi, an Urdu language learner and poetry enthusiast.
According to the Foundation, Alfaaz provides a 360-degree understanding of the handpicked words – their literal as well contextual meanings along with grammatical etymology and word usage in couplet examples. “The words are divided into 14 categories (the rudimentary ones in Urdu poetry) and each of the 100 words has 4 easy-to-understand steps giving references and detailed explanations. Alfaaz also helps the reader with audio of the words and couplets with their correct pronunciation.”
All the words are arranged in a sequence to make learning interesting and easy. One can only move ahead from one category to the next after completing all the words in a category and attaining the minimum required score in the quiz. There is more into the gamified features including users can track their daily progress, weekly presence, earn points, take quizzes, check real-time ranking, collect badges according to score points and mark their favorite words and couplets.
The Rams-ul-khat, Rekhta’s online Urdu script learning course by Aamozish, was taken by over 75,000 people worldwide. The new vocabulary course can be accessed on alfaaz.aamozish.com. (IANS)
Diwali is arguably one of the most auspicious and celebrated holidays in South Asia. It is celebrated over the span of five days, where the third is considered most important and known as Diwali. During Diwali people come together to light, lamps, and diyas, savour sweet delicacies and pray to the lord. The day has various origin stories with the main them being the victory of good over evil. While the North celebrates the return of Lord Rama and Devi Sita to Ayodhya, the South rejoices in the victory of Lord Krishna and his consort Satyabhama over evil Narakasura.
Narakasura- The great mythical demon King
Naraka or Narakasur was the son of Bhudevi (Goddess Earth) and fathered either by the Varaha incarnation of Vishnu or Hiranyaksha. He grew to be a powerful demon king and became the legendary progenitor of all three dynasties of Pragjyotisha-Kamarupa, and the founding ruler of the legendary Bhauma dynasty of Pragjyotisha.
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Narakasura was created, grew up to be strong and powerful but he was not satisfied with it, so he decided that he would worship Lord Brahma. He performed severe penance and was driven by the power of his penance; Lord Brahma appeared before him. Narakasura knew his mother loved him dearly so he asked Lord Brahma to grant him a boon that he would only die by the hands of his mother, Bhumidevi. Lord Brahma smile and ultimately granted him the boon.
Narakasura burst out laughing as Lord Brahma vanished. He thought no mother would kill their child so Lord Brahma had made him immortal. Drunk and maddened by his own power Narakasura brought all the kingdoms under his control and targeted Swargalok (Heaven). Even Indra (King of Gods) and demi-gods had to retreat in front of Narakasura. He kidnapped and took 16,000 women from the palaces as prisoners. Troubled by Naraksura's deeds the gods rushed to Lord Vishnu for a solution.
Lord Krishna and Devi Satyabhama were born to kill Narakasura
Lord Vishnu was born as Lord Krishna and Narakasura's mother Bhumidevi took the avatar of Krishna's wife Satyabhama. As Satyabhama, Bhumidevi was unaware of the knowledge of Naraksura being her son. Aditi the mother of all gods approached Satyabhama crying for help with bloodied ears as Narakasura had torn off the glowing earrings from the ears of Aditi.
Satyabhama was furious on gaining the knowledge of Narakasura's atrocities she asked Krishna to fight the demon king while she fights alongside him. Krishna agreed and they attacked the great fortress of Narakasura, riding his mount Garuda with his wife Satyabhama.
The furious battle unleashed. Krishna defeated Narakasura's general Mura and came to be known as Murari (the killer of Mura). Narakasura used several divine weapons against Krishna, but Krishna slew all those weapons effortlessly. The demon hurled a shakti towards Krishna, which mildly hurt Krishna and he fell unconscious. Upon this sight Satyabhama was enraged, she furiously pulled out a weapon of her own and hurled it at Narakasura's chest. Anxious Satyabhama turned to her fallen Lord, Krishna got up with a smile and he was completely fine. He was only playing his part. It was Satyabhama who was an incarnation of Bhoomidevi, whose hands were destined to slay Narakasura.
ALSO READ: Choosing Environment-Friendly Diwali
Lord Krishna and Goddess Satyabhama had put an end to the Narakasura's kingdom of evil. As Narakasura lay on his deathbed he realised that Satyabhama was no one but an avatar of his own mother. He requested a boon from his mother, for no one to mourn his death. Instead, he wished for people to celebrate it with light and colours. They freed the 16,000 women who later married Lord Krishna to restore them of their honour in society, retrieved Mother goddess's earrings. This day is celebrated as 'Naraka Chaturdashi' popularly known as Choti Diwali - the day before Diwali as the triumph of good over evil.
Keywords: Diwali festival, goddess Laxmi, demon king, Lord Krishna, Satyabhama, the festival of light, Naraksura, Narak Chaturdashi
For all the great inventions that we have at hand, it is amazing how we keep going back to the safety pin every single time to fix everything. Be it tears in our clothes, to fix our broken things, to clean our teeth and nails when toothpicks are unavailable, to accessorize our clothes, and of course, as an integral part of the Indian saree. Safety pins are a must-have in our homes. But how did they come about at all?
The safety pin was invented at a time when brooches existed. They were used by the Greeks and Romans quite extensively. A man named Walter Hunt picked up a piece of brass and coiled it into the safety pin we know today. He did it just to pay off his debt. He even sold the patent rights of this seemingly insignificant invention just so that his debtors would leave him alone.
Anyone wearing safety pins that were visible began to be associated with the rock movement in the 70s. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
Later, he even invented the sewing needles and a couple of other important inventions but never kept any of the patent rights.
When the punk rock tradition took over in the seventies, safety pins became a fashion rage. They were used as piercings and to patch clothes together. Anyone wearing safety pins that were visible began to be associated with the rock movement. In some cultures, the safety pins have become symbols of good luck.
Keywords: Safety-pins, Punk Rock, Brass, Accessories, Walter Hunt
In South India, Deepavali marks the end of the monsoon and heralds the start of winter. The festival is usually observed in the weeks following heavy rain, and just before the first cold spell in the peninsula. The light and laughter that comes with the almost week-long celebration are certainly warm to the bones, but there is still a tradition that the South Indians follow to ease their transition from humidity to the cold.
Just before the main festival, the family bathes in sesame oil. This tradition is called 'yellu yennai snaana' in Kannada, or 'ennai kuliyal' in Tamil, which translates to 'sesame oil bath'. The eldest member of the family applies three drops of heated oil on each member's head. They must massage this oil into their hair and body. The oil is allowed to soak in for a while, anywhere between twenty minutes to an hour. After this, they must wash with warm water before sunrise.
Women applying oil to the heads of men Photo credit: Indians in Kuwait
In some parts of the peninsula, soap is not used to wash off the oil because it nullifies its effects. Some cultures who do not like the oil to remain in any way on their skin wash it off with shikakai and herbs, which is a paste that is traditionally used as a substitute for soap. Sometimes, the oil is heated with flowers and spices as well and is less sticky than in its pure form.
The purpose of this ritual is to cleanse the body, detoxify it, and produce heat in it. Sesame is a very heaty substance and tends to heat up the body. This heat, or 'usshna' in Kannada, prepares the body to face the sudden cold that comes to the peninsula immediately after Diwali. South India has no smooth transition weather-wise from monsoon to winter. There are a few days of stable, rainless weather, and suddenly the cold winds descend.
In many ways, the celebration of Diwali is centered around preparing for winter, considering the amount of heat and light the rituals consist of – lighting lamps, bursting crackers, and consuming warm treats. Those who practice these rituals earnestly find the shift in seasons and weather quite pleasant.
Keyboards: Sesame Oil Bath, Diwali Ritual, Traditional Sesame Oil Bath