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Shillong celebrates Valentines Day by discussing about Equality and Respect

The campaign was aimed at creating awareness on consent at a time when sexual assault of various forms, ranging from sexual harassment at the work-place, rapes, child sexual abuse, and domestic violence, are on the rise in this matrilineal state of Meghalaya

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Shillong
Valentines Day, image credits- Pixabay

Shillong, February 14, 2017: It was a Valentine’s Day with a difference in Meghalaya, thanks to Thma U Rangli Juki (TUR) group for launching a relatable social media and sticker campaign to open up discussion on notions of consent, safety, pleasure, equality, and respect.

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The campaign was aimed at creating awareness on consent at a time when sexual assault of various forms, ranging from sexual harassment at the work-place, rapes, child sexual abuse, and domestic violence, are on the rise in this matrilineal state of Meghalaya.

“Sexual assault and rape happen not just among strangers. Date rapes are common and we need to acknowledge that rapes do take place even within a marriage,” TUR member Badapbor Mawlieh told IANS.

“It is imperative, therefore, that a conversation on what constitutes consent and the importance of practicing consent towards fostering healthy relationships based on equality and respect needs to begin, and what better day than Valentine’s Day — a day that is dedicated to celebrating love and relationships,” he said.

“Sexual consent is a topic that should be talked about whenever there is a possibility of a sexual encounter. When two individuals have sex, they need to be certain that one partner is just as willing to have sex as the other, hence there needs to be full consent,” Mawlieh said.

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The activist said that consent from a partner to engage in a sexual act is one of the most imperative parts of having a mutually satisfying and ethical sexual experience.

“The Indian Penal Code under Section 375 has put forth the meaning of consent as an unequivocal voluntary agreement whereby the woman by words, gestures or any form of verbal or non-verbal communication, communicates a willingness to participate in the specific sexual act,” Mawlieh explained.

TUR activists distributed stickers with messages like “If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get my consent. If it is not yes, it is rape” to young boys and girls in public places, cafes, colleges, and parks, including Ward’s Lake here in the city.

“It is important that society acknowledges sex and sexuality and the need to have honest conversations with boys and girls, men and women on issues such as consent, negotiation, pleasure, bodily autonomy, boundaries, respect and gender equality,” activist Rangad said.

She also said the response also has to be secular and acknowledging realities of sexual lives of the society.

“Mere moral posturing will worsen the situation, forcing the actual issues to be driven underground. Similarly, just a legalistic approach to crimes against women, children and sexual minorities will not have a preventive impact,” she said.

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Rangad said the campaign will expand to talk about such issues at school, colleges and community level.

TUR is a radical democratic group of Meghalaya, campaigning and organizing for a progressive, egalitarian transformation of Meghalaya while acknowledging its history of tribal autonomy. (IANS)

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‘It is time to see the world through a Feminist Gaze’, says Shabana Azmi

Jio MAMI hosted a brunch to discuss and inspire women equality and quality films, which was graced by Manisha Koirala, Shabana Azmi, Kiran Rao, Anupama Chopra, Sayani Gupta, Kriti Sanon, Neha Dhupia and many more

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Shabana Azmi
Shabana Azmi. Wikimedia

Mumbai, October 17, 2017: Veteran actress Shabana Azmi on Monday said it is the time people started seeing the world through a “feminine gaze”.

The pro-equality actress was speaking at “#F for Freedom MAMI” segment of Jio MAMI 19th Mumbai Film Festival.

“I am very delighted that MAMI this year is concentrating on making women’s work more visible. I think it is high time that we started to see the world through feminine gaze,” she said.

Jio MAMI hosted a brunch to discuss and inspire women equality and quality films, which was graced by Manisha Koirala, Shabana Azmi, Kiran Rao, Anupama Chopra, Sayani Gupta, Kriti Sanon, Neha Dhupia and many more.

ALSO READ Divya Khosla Kumar wishes to make ‘Women Oriented Films’ now

Manisha Koirala, who has been vocal about gender equality, said she was happy that JIO MAMI is recognizing women’s contribution.

“Tumhari Sulu” actress Neha Dhupia said that things aren’t changing but with a little initiative, things will change in coming times. “Just because there is a women-centric film after 30-40 others release, everyone feels that things are changing but they are not changing just yet.”

Kiran Rao, the lady behind the initiative, expressed that main objective was to inspire women and get them in mainstream cinema, either in front or behind.

“The initiative was started two years ago, to inspire females to be part of the film industry, not just tell their stories. We want females to join film industry as writers, actors, technicians, creative arts and camera persons as this will improve the condition of women,” said Kiran.

Film critic Anupama Chopra said that the issue of equality in the film was not just limited to Bollywood, “it is rampant everywhere”. (IANS)

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Mahalaya: Beginning of “Devipaksha” in Bengali Celebration of ‘Durga Puja’

“Mahalaya” is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha” and heralds the celebration of Durga Puja

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Mahalaya morning in Kolkata. Flickr
  • Mahalaya 2017 Date: 19th september.
  • On Mahalaya, people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers; which is called ‘Torpon’
  • Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted in All India Radio
  • The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent

Sept 19, 2017: Autumn is the season of the year that sees the Hindus, all geared up to celebrate some of the biggest festivals of India. The festive spirit in the Bengalis all enthused to prepare for the greatest of the festivals, the ‘Durga Puja’.

About Mahalaya:

Mahalaya is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha,” and this year it is celebrated on September 19.

Observed exactly a week before the ‘Durga Puja’, Mahalaya is the harbinger of the arrival of Goddess Durga. It is celebrated to invoke the goddess possessing supreme power! The goddess is invited to descend on earth and she is welcomed with devotional songs and holy chants of mantras. On this day, the eye is drawn in the idols of the Goddess by the artisans marking the initiation of “Devipaksha”. Mahalaya arrives and the countdown to the Durga Puja begins!

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The day of Mahalaya bears supreme significance to the Bengalis. The day is immensely important because on this day people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers. Clad in white dhotis, people offer prayers and take dips in the river while praying for their demised dear ones. The ritual is popular as “Torpon”.

Mahalaya
An idol-maker in progress of drawing the eye in the idol of the Goddess. Wikipedia

As per Hindu myth, on “Devipaksha”, the Gods and the Goddesses began their preparations to celebrate “Mahamaya” or Goddess Durga, who was brought upon by the trinity- Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshwara; to annihilate the fierce demon king named Mahishasura. The captivating story of the Goddess defeating the demon got popularized with the goddess being revered as “Durgatinashini” or the one who banishes all the evils and miseries of the world. The victory of the Goddess is celebrated as ‘Durga Puja’.

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Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted at dawn in All India Radio in the form of a marvelous audio montage enthralling the souls of the Bengalis. Presented with wonderful devotional music, acoustic drama, and classical songs- the program is also translated to Hindi and played for the whole pan-Indian listeners.

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Mahalaya
Birendra Krishna Bhadra (1905-1991). Wikipedia

The program is inseparable from Mahalaya and has been going on for over six decades till date. The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent! He has been a legend and the dawn of Mahalaya turns insipid without the reverberating and enchanting voice of the legendary man.

Mahalaya will keep spreading the magic and setting the vigor of the greatest festival of the Bengalis- the Durga Puja, to worship the supreme Goddess, eternally.

                 “Yaa Devi Sarbabhuteshu, Shakti Rupena Sanhsthita,

                     Namastaswai Namastaswai Namastaswai Namo Namaha.”

– by Antara Kumar of NewsGram. Twitter: @ElaanaC

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India and Canada to Jointly Issue Two Sets of Diwali Themed Postal Stamps

The stamps will be released on September 21 as per a MoU signed between the postal departments of the two countries

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Diwali
Diwali does not mean you will have to compromise on your health, Wikimedia
  • India and Canada have a long-standing close relationship based on shared values of democracy
  • The presence of a large Indian Diaspora in Canada provide a strong foundation for the relationship
  • The theme of Diwali was chosen considering the large presence of Indian Diaspora in Canada

New Delhi, August 31, 2017: India and Canada will jointly issue two sets of commemorative postage stamps on the theme of Diwali, the government announced on Wednesday.

The stamps will be released on September 21 as per a MoU signed between the postal departments of the two countries.

“India and Canada have a long-standing close relationship based on shared values of democracy, pluralism, equality for all and rule of law. Strong people-to-people contacts and the presence of a large Indian Diaspora in Canada provide a strong foundation for the relationship,” said a statement from the Indian government.

It said the theme of Diwali was chosen “considering the large presence of Indian Diaspora” in Canada. (IANS)