Wednesday January 24, 2018

Religious Capital of India: Find out what makes Varanasi so Holy to Hindus!

The Hindu faith has entitled seven cities as the holiest, also known as Sapta Puri

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Varanasi, religious capital of india
Varanasi, religious capital of india
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Varanasi:

Popularly known as the religious capital of India, Varanasi or Banaras, is situated in Uttar Pradesh, and is the location of the holy river Ganges. Varanasi holds the same importance to Hindus as Jerusalem is to Christians.

The Hindu faith has entitled seven cities as the holiest, also known as Sapta Puri. Varanasi is one of the seven cities including Haridwar, Mathura, Ujjain, Ayodhya, Kanchipuram and Dwarka.

Varanasi is considered pious for its ghats, music and the pure air of nirvana. The air of this city has mystifying fragrances of incense, evening aartis and hymns by the ghats, and has a rich heritage of learning, music and culture that make Varanasi the religious city of India. People often wish to proceed to heavens in their old age through the way of Varanasi.

Yogakshema: The ancient Indian concept of Good Governance

Banaras or Varanasi is considered holy by Hindus and Non-Hindus across the world, also because this city is popularly known as the city of Ganga and Shiva.

Aikya Linga, Varanasi. Source: Wikimedia Commons
Aikya Linga, Varanasi.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
  • It is believed that when time began to tick for the first time, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati were present in this city, formerly called Kashi.
  • Kashi has links with mythical beings and is the home to many legends. Buddhist and Mahabharata scriptures are found in Varanasi. ‘Sri Ramcharitmanas’ the holy Hindu epic by Tulsidas was composed here.
  • The Kashi Vishwanath Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and has an idol of his ‘lingam’. Temples of Varanasi are considered Shiva’s abode in ‘Skanda Purana.’ It is also an important city of Nepalese for it also has the Kaal Bhairav temple built by the King of Nepal at the Lalita Ghat.
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Indian PM Narendra Modi offering prayers at Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Varanasi. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Innumerable ancient temples make it one of the oldest cities too. The Durga temple built in the 8th century has innumerable monkeys residing there. Built in 1964 as a dedication of Lord Rama, the Tulsi Manas temple was built where Tulsidas wrote Ramcharitmanas.

– by Chetna Karnani, at NewsGram. Twitter: @karnani_chetna

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All You Need to Know About the Sport of Jallikattu

Jallikattu is certainly a dangerous sports, which poses a risk of life for the participants.

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banned bull taming sport of Tamil Nadu
Jallikattu sport of Tamil Nadu, Wikimedia

By Ruchika Verma

  • Jallikattu is a traditional Tamil sport
  • The sport involves bulls and humans, the latter trying to control the former
  • The sport was banned in 2014, which created lots of controversies

Jallikattu or Sallikkattu, also known as ‘eru thazhuvuthal’ and ‘manju virattu’ traditionally, was in news last year, around this time due to the ban imposed on it by the Supreme Court. The ban was much hyped and gathered a plethora of media’s attention.

Jallikattu ban was much hyped. Wikimedia Commons
Jallikattu ban was much hyped. Wikimedia Commons

Jallikattu ban has also garnered lots of political attention due to the involvement of Tamil Nadu and Central governments. The issue is much hyped due to the political context involved in it too.

What exactly is Jallikattu? 

Jallikattu is a traditional sport and spectacle in which bulls of the Pulikulam or Kangayam breeds are released into a crowd of people, and multiple human participants attempt to control the bulls while they try to escape.

Jallikattu is seen as animal cruelty by many activists. Flickr
Jallikattu is seen as animal cruelty by many activists. Flickr

Jallikattu is practised in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu as a part of Pongal celebrations. The districts, Madurai, Thanjavur, and Salem are the most famous for conducting Jallikattu. The game dates back to Tamil classical period, which went back to 400 BC. Ancient Tamil Sangam literature described the practice as ‘Yeru thazhuvuthal’ which literally means “bull embracing.” With time the sport has become synonymous with valour and bravery.

Also Read: Tamil Nadu legalises Jallikattu with a New Law

What happens in Jallikattu and how?

The bulls participating in the game are all lined up behind a narrow gate and released one by one into the arena. The participants have to either control the bull by holding its hump or clutch away from a flag attached to the horns. Owners of the bulls often announce prizes for the man who gets the hold of their bull.

The objective of the game is not to kill or overpower the bull, but to hold onto their hump for a certain amount of time or distance.

The participants are only allowed to hold onto the hump of the Bull. www.in.com
The participants are only allowed to hold onto the hump of the Bull. www.in.com

There are three variants to the game. First, when the bulls are released from an enclosed area. Second, when the bull is directly released into the open ground. And third, when the bull is tied to a rope as the only restriction, and a team of 7-9 members has to untie the prize from the bull’s horns in 30 minutes of the time period.

The gate through which bulls enter the arena is called Vadi Vasai. The bulls charge at the men standing most near to the gate. One of the rules also says that a participant is only allowed to hold bull’s hump and no other body part. The other rules vary from region to region.

Also Read: Animal rights organisations challenge new law on Jallikattu

Jallikattu Ban and Controversy

Jallikattu is certainly a dangerous sport, which poses a risk of life for the participants.

In 2014, The Supreme Court banned the sport, endorsing the activists’ concerns according to which, Jallikattu is not only cruelty towards the animal, but also poses a threat to humans. According to the data provided, between 2010 and 2014, 17 people were killed and approximately 1000 were injured during Jallikatu.

The Jallikattu ban was protests by many Tamilians.
The Jallikattu ban was protested by many Tamilians.

However, the ban invited a lot of protests. Many Tamil communities called this ban a violation of their culture and tradition.

In 2017, many lawyers plead to remove the ban which was rejected by the court. After requests and arguments of Tamil communities, central government reversed the ban, however, after Supreme Court struck the order down, the ban was imposed again. However, the government of Tamil Nadu sanctioned the sport and brought it back into the practice.