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India's diversity extends beyond culture and language to even her racial roots. The Mughals, the British, the Portuguese, the Dutch, and presently the immigrants from all over the world, have created a diaspora so rich and various, that India's roots now extend far across the range of her landscape. One such is a tribe that inhabits Karnataka's northern districts – Siddhi Tribe.
Believed to have descended from the Bantu tribe of Africa, Siddhi Tribe, first came to India when Africa was colonized by the Europeans. The Portuguese carried them on ships as slaves, and on reaching India, were either sold to the rulers here, or made to work in foreign offices. The earliest Siddhi presence in India dates back almost 400 years.
The Western Ghats have become home to this tribe. They populate the Northern Uttara Kannada districts of Karnataka, parts of Maharashtra, and even a few villages in Gujarat. The Siddhis are isolated from the rest of the state. They believe in keeping to themselves, although they have adapted well into the culture and language of their respective villages. Sumanth Reddy, faculty of the Department of History and Government, Bowie State University writes, " My first encounter with the Siddhis… was with a mother and daughter… at the weekly market. They were dressed in traditional Indian clothes, and I was surprised by how easily and naturally they mingled with the other locals." Reddy visited the Siddhi Tribe villages to study their ethnicity in 2016.
Siddhis populate the Northern Uttara Kannada districts of Karnataka, parts of Maharashtra, and even a few villages in Gujarat. wikimediwikimedia
During the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade, the Abyssinian people were uprooted by colonizers and spread across the world. The cultures they were transplanted into, did not completely accept them, despite their blending into it. Consequently, they had to create their own communities, secluded from the rest of the population, surviving based on the knowledge of their ancestor, and the kindness of those who treated them well, for food and shelter.
Karnataka's Siddhis speak Kannada and Konkani fluently, but their coarse hair, and chocolate-coloured skin does not permit them to lead normal lives among the caste-infested Kannadigas, who have given the Siddhis a social identity that is even below the Untouchables. Owing to this discrimination, and unable to return to their homeland, their villages are usually found deep in the forests, inaccessible to others.
When the community was granted Scheduled Tribes status by the Indian government, in 2003, they began to avail benefits to uplift their tribe. In Gujarat, the Siddhis act as guides in the Gir forest reserve; in Karnataka, they are given work, albeit small jobs that pay a little. They are employed as migrant workers, or are given small patches of land to tend, but these efforts give them little respite from poverty.
The Siddhis have adopted the dress and culture of Kannadigas Image source: wikimedia
Among the Siddhis, religion is very important. They share their beliefs of being united despite their chosen faith, but Hindu, Christian, and Mulim Siddhis do not live together in the same village. Intermarriage is also not permitted. Their religion is based on who their ancestors served.
The Siddhis who worked for the Portuguese are Catholic, those who served the Arabs are Muslim, and those who were converted by the local zamindars are Hindu. They also carry their African heritage of folk dances, rituals involving nature-worship, and their ancestral mythology. The rhythmic music and proverbs of their culture are evidently non-Indian, but they lack the ability to assert this identity, and still struggle to be treated the same as other Indians.
Keywords: Siddhis, Karnataka, Tribes, History
By Devakinanda Ji
Derived from the Sanskrit word muc ("to free"), the term moksha literally means freedom from samsara, release from the cycle of rebirth impelled by the law of karma. The transcendent state attained as a result of being released from the cycle of rebirth.
62) OṀ MOKṢHASĀDHAKABHŨMYAI NAMAH:
OṀ (AUM)-MOK-ṢHA-SAA-DHA-KA-BHOO-MYAI— NA-MA-HA
ॐ मोक्षसाधकभूम्यै नमः
(Mokṣha: Liberation, not returning to saṃsāra; Sādhaka: Seeking, spiritual discipline)
Mokṣha is liberation from the trans-migratory existence and from the cycle of birth and death (what we call saṃsāra). The topic of bandha (bondage) and mokṣha (liberation) has been widely discussed in all the systems of Hindu philosophy. It is the last pursuit of the human goals in life. The synonyms for mokṣha are: mukti, kaivalya and nirvāṇa.
There are other schools which advocate nishkāma karma (action not motivated by selfish desires) or bhakti (devotion to God resulting in His grace) as the means to mokṣha.
Bhārata bhumi is conducive for the practice of one or all the paths enjoined by the Vedas, i.e., Karma yoga, Rāja yoga, Bhakti yoga and Jnāna yoga. To pursue these paths, we have thousands and thousands of temples, puṇyatīrthās, discourses by swamīs and gurus and many others. We have the Vedas, Upanishads, purāṇas, Brahmasūtrās, āgamās and many more sacred texts and literature for answers and clarifications. Beyond showing us the paths to liberation, our scriptures tell us how to be liberated while living. One cannot ask anything better than that. The prayers from the Upanishads, is apt: 'Asatomā satgamayā; tamasomā jyotirgamayā' meaning- 'lead me from unreality to reality and from darkness to light'. Here spiritual ignorance is compared to darkness, and self-knowledge is compared to light.
The land which teaches us to worship God with 'karmaphala tyāgam, niṣhkāmakarmam, Īsvarārpaṇa buddhi' and attain 'mokṣham' is thus 'Mokṣhasādhaka Bhūmi'.
The Indian space agency is working on a fleet of medium to heavy lift rockets with a carrying capacity ranging from 4.9 ton to 16.3 ton, said a senior official. The five rockets are in the project report stage and would come into operation in the future, said N Sudheer Kumar, Director, Capacity Building Programme Office (CBPO), Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). He was speaking at the International Space Conference and Exhibition, organised by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in virtual mode recently. When that happens ISRO can not only launch its own communication satellites but also enter the global communication satellite launch market.
Kumar also said ISRO is working on upgrading Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mk III (GSLV-Mk III) which can carry up to four ton to Geo Transfer Orbit (GTO). Normally rockets eject the communication satellites into GTO. From GTO the satellites will be taken to geostationary orbit by firing their engines. India uses Ariancespace's Ariane rocket to orbit its communication satellites weighing over four ton. According to Kumar, ISRO is also working on upgrading the lifting capacity of GSLV-Mk III to six ton and 7.5 to GTO.
The Indian space agency is working on a fleet of medium to heavy lift rockets with a carrying capacity ranging from 4.9 ton to 16.3 ton, said a senior official. | Photo by Laurent Grattepanche on Unsplash
He said the six ton lift capacity will be achieved by miniaturization of avionics, uprating of its three stages/engines, structural mass optimisation and other means. Kumar said ISRO is on the verge of realising its semi-cryogenic engine - engine fueled by pure kerosene- which will soon power GSLV-Mk III so that the rocket can carry 7.5 ton payload to GTO with an upgraded cryogenic engine. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: ISRO, heavy, ton, rockets, GSLV, fleet, India
In the recent past, Kalamkari has suddenly gained prominence in the wardrobes of Indian women. Commercial hubs in the city are filled with mannequins posing in kalamkari blouses, or sarees stretching out for yards on hangers.
As the name suggests, 'kalamkari' means 'craft from a pen'. Artisans draw on cloth with a pen, and colour it in with paints. This art form originated from the Mughal era and many of the scenes that artists choose to draw are scenes from Mughal gardens or palaces.
The Mughals were great patrons of art, and were known for their unique painting techniques. They would use a single haired brush to elaborate scenes from battle or from mythology. This technique was adopted by artisans of Hyderabad, who use a tamarind twig to paint cloth.
An artisan drawing with a tamarind twig on cloth with dyes Image source: wikimedia commons
These days, apart from mythology, kalamkari depicts scenes from everyday life too. The face of the Kathakali dancer, a pair of earrings, and the enlightened face of Buddha are some famous designs that people are seen wearing. The colours are usually dark blue, brown, olive green, or deep red.
Kalamkari, a 23-step dye process, is done in two different ways. The Kalahasti art type was a household form, where a brush is used to manually paint in the designs. Srikalahasti is an important center in Andhra Pradesh for this type of art. The Machilipatnam art form involves block painting, where designs are drawn on wooden blocks, dipped in the dye, and pressed on the fabric.
Kalamkari artist using wooden blocks to stamp designs on a sari Image source: wikimedia commons
One of the reasons why this handicraft has suddenly become popular could be due to the sustainable quality of its dyes and fabric. Kalamkari uses natural vegetable dyes and preferably cotton fabric as the base. It has grown as an art form, and in the fashion industry, it is being revered as an indigenous inclusion of heritage on an international platform.
Keywords: Kalamkari, Mughal, Art forms, Block painting, Andhra Pradesh