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By Nithin Sridhar
Last month, Star Plus, an entertainment channel in India, launched a new TV serial on the story of Lord Rama with much fanfare. The serial titled ‘Siya Ke Ram’ had promised to portray Ramayana from ‘Sita’s perspective’. Nikhil Sinha, the producer-director of the serial had further stated that the serial was well rooted in facts and based on the original story.
However, one month down the line, the serial appears to have taken wings of its own and deviated completely from the original text of Valmiki Ramayana. Moreover, the much-touted perspective of Sita is yet to emerge as well.
Though the serial at first had raised expectations of this writer with its VFX, soon it became clear that the serial has VFX alone without much substance or value to write about. The serial has not only distorted the original story, but has tried to impose modern secular-liberal values upon the Ramayana thereby making a complete mockery of the Hindu text which is not only considered as a true account of history (itihasa) in Hindu tradition but is also held in high respect and sacredness by millions of Hindus.
The very first episode began with portraying King Dasharatha and Queen Kausalya as crybabies, with the former always worrying about his sons, especially about Rama and the later mourning for her daughter- Shanta who was no longer with them. But a single reading of Valmiki Ramayana, which is the original text of Ramayana composed by Sage Valmiki, it becomes clear that neither the King nor the queen was portrayed as crybabies.
In fact, in the Bala-Khanda (11.2), King Dasharatha is described as being righteous, truthful, and resplendent. In other words, he was far from being a crybaby! The serial actually shows Dasharatha as grieving and longing for his sons when they were away from him for studying in Gurukula (traditional school). But, in all probabilities, the princes never went to any Gurukula and were trained in the palace itself. Valmiki Ramayana does not mention anything about sending them away. Instead, it says that Rama and the princes were well versed in Vedas, archery, and were always rendering service to their father (1.18.27,28, 36,37).
Now, coming to the issue of Kausalya’s grief and Shanta, this writer searched hard to find any reference for Queen Kausalya mourning over her daughter in the Valmiki Ramayana but was unable to find even a single reference to it.
The serial portrays Shanta as being the daughter of the Dasharatha and Kausalya, who was sent to seduce and marry Rishyasringa so that the Rishi can come and perform Putrakameshti Yajna for the begetting of Rama and other princes. Thus, the serial portrays how Dasharatha gave up his daughter for the sake of his sons. It further shows how Shanta was well accomplished in every way yet Dasharatha was never satisfied with her and hankered for a son. This hankering of Dasharatha resulted in Shanta being compelled to sacrifice her freedom and comforts and she went and lived in the forest with Rishyasringa. The serial further shows that this fact was initially kept hidden from Rama and other princes.
Now, let us look into what Valmiki Ramayana has to say about Shanta. Shanta was given in adoption to Romapaada, the King of Anga kingdom and a close friend of Dasharata. The adoption must have happened when Shanta was a child though no mention of her age during adoption is mentioned. But, it is clear that Shanta was brought up by Romapaada as his own daughter. Valmiki Ramayana mentions that when Romapaada’s kingdom was suffering from severe drought, he sent his courtesans to bring Rishyasringa to his kingdom (1.10.7).
When the Rishi arrived in his kingdom, the kingdom was showered with rains and later Romapaada gave Shanta’s hand in marriage to the Rishi (1.10.29-32). After marriage Shanta and Rishyasringa both lived in Anga kingdom itself (1.10.33) and not in the forest. Dasharatha later asked the help of Romapaada to request his son-in-law Rishyasringa to perform Putrakameshti Yajna so that Dasharatha can beget sons.
Therefore, from the Valmiki Ramayana, it becomes clear that Shanta was married to her husband according to the norms of those times and there was neither any compulsion nor any sacrifice on the part of Shanta nor did she undergo any suffering from the marriage. In fact, the Mahabharata account of the story of Shanta and Rishyasringa says that they both shared a loving relationship similar to Nala and Damayanti or Vashishta and Arundathi.
More importantly, Shanta was not sent to seduce Rishyashringa so that Dasharata can beget sons and thus there is absolutely no connection between Shanta marrying Rishyasringa and Rishyasringa helping Dasharatha in begetting sons.
So, the question that naturally arises is why did the serial distort the truth and impose notions of patriarchy and misogyny? Why was Shanta depicted as a victim? Why was Shanta used as a tool to depict supposed discrimination against daughters, or to depict how women are forced to make sacrifices when no such thing is actually recorded in the original text?
Patriarchy, misogyny, discrimination against daughters are all some of the trends that could be observed in current society. More importantly, these are the trends stressed in the left-liberal narratives of the society. On the other hand, Indic narrative is rooted in the all-encompassing concept of Dharma- duty and righteousness and all social trends- both good and bad- are analyzed from the Dharmic standpoint. The fact that the serial has distorted the original Dharmic narrative of Ramayana and has tried to superimpose social ills present in the current society and trends of current left-liberal narratives onto Ramayana, raises serious questions about the professionalism and the motives of the makers of this serial?
Further, Shanta’s story is not the only case of such distortions and super-impositions of left-liberal narratives. Consider the event of Ashwamedha Yajna (Horse-Sacrifice) portrayed in the serial. According to the serial, when King Dasharatha performs Ashwamedha Yajna, first Sita is shown as stopping the horse in its path, then Rama asserts that the horse should not be killed to complete the sacrifice and instead a golden idol of the horse should be used. Rama also makes a speech about animal rights and how traditions should be broken.
The whole narrative depicts not only the ignorance of the makers of the show about Hindu rituals, but also their agenda to superimpose modern narratives of animal rights on Hindu practices.
It is not that Dharmic perspective is insensitive to animal life. Hindu scriptures stipulate serving animals as one of the duties of householders (Bhuta-yajna). Hindu scriptures perceive animals as inseparable part of the Universe and teaches people to practice Ahimsa (non-injury). In fact, Manu Smriti (5.53) says that one who renounces consumption of eating meat attains spiritual benefit equal to that attained after conducting 100 Ashwamedha Yajnas.
At the same time, it must be remembered that Ashwamedha Yajna was performed for the overall welfare of the society- material, spiritual, and ecological. It served as a tool for the Kings to distribute their wealth among the poor and needy. The citizens were given in charity, whatever they were in need of. The landless got the lands, the house-less got the house, people in need of gold were given gold, etc. And the spiritual benefits derived from the Yajna is limitless and helps to enrich the spiritual atmosphere in the society. More importantly, the ritual is such that, the animals sacrificed in it not only attains heaven, but they also attain higher birth. It is for this reason, the sacrifice of animals in Yajnas is not considered as ‘Himsa’ (violence) as even the animals attain welfare.
Hence, according to Hinduism, sacrificing of animals in Yajnas that causes welfare of sacrificed animals as well is Dharma. On the other hand, modern activities like breeding animals for slaughtering or killing animals for their skin, etc. are considered unrighteous (Adharma) because there is no welfare of the animals.
First, the Ashwamedha Yajna shown in the serial never happened as far as Valmiki Ramayana is concerned. Valmiki Ramayana speaks about Dasharatha performing Horse-sacrifice along with Putrakameshti Yajna for begetting his sons. But, he does not perform any horse-sacrifice after the birth of his sons.
Second, even in the Ashwamedha Yajna that was conducted by Dasharatha before the birth of Rama, a real horse was sacrificed (1.14.32-36) and not a horse idol.
Third, Sita is shown as stopping the horse without realizing the fact that whoever stops the horse and ties it, he/she must wage a war. Yet, in order to portray Sita as a rebel, the scene has been included in the serial.
Fourth, Valmiki Ramayana says Rama is a Dharma-Murti, the personification of Dharma. Thus, Rama very well knew that killing of the horse in the Yajna is not considered as Himsa/violence because the animal thus sacrificed attains spiritual and material welfare as well. Hence, Rama would never have called for a replacement of real horse with a horse idol based on shallow arguments not rooted in Dharma. But without understanding this nuance, the serial tries to give a lecture about the animal rights based on modern left-liberal narratives!
Fifth, the serial portrays Rishi Vashishta as calling Ashwamedha Yajna as a ‘pratha’ or a practice or a tradition based on common belief. But, the fact is Ashwamedha Yajna is not a ‘pratha’, it is a Dharmic practice given in Vedas themselves. So, there is no question about it being a simple matter of faith. It is a Dharmic obligation of the Kings for the welfare of his people. Though, it is true that sacrifice of animals during Yajnas has been prohibited in Kaliyuga according to some Dharmic texts because people no longer have the competency to properly perform those Yajnas and cause animals to attain higher birth. But, Lord Rama was not in Kali Yuga. He was in Treta-Yuga when there were hundreds of great Rishis like Vashishta, Rishyasringa etc. who were capable of performing even complex of Yajnas for the welfare of the world.
In other words, the whole events related to Ashwamedha Yajna shown in the serial is a fabrication introduced to distort the essence of Hindu rituals and superimpose left-liberal narratives about animal rights which incidentally is invoked only with respect to Hindu rituals and not in any other circumstances. (Remember Beef parties?).
Then there was the argument between Yajnavalkya and Gargi that ended up being a debate on love rather than being a sublime discussion about Brahman as shown in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. Also, the depiction of Gargi and the way Sunayana (Janak’s wife) speaks about her completely goes against the high respect Gargi actually held during that period. Then, the Rakshasas (demons) were portrayed as tribal people, which clearly is a colonial construction propagated by a few scholars. Hindu tradition itself considered Rakshasas as being different species than humans. Yet, the fight between Rama and Lakshmana duo and the Rakshasas headed by Maricha and Subhahu were depicted as a fight between the royal kings and tribal people! Maybe the makers of the serial are too much influenced by the Aryan invasion myth!
There was also a conversation between Janak and his wife, wherein Sita’s mother is apprehensive about educating Sita and tells Janak, if Sita is educated, she will face numerous problems after marriage! Another clear attempt at superimposing the perceptions about girl education prevalent from last few centuries on Ramayana.
The events mentioned here are by no means exhaustive. There are many more such incidents and scenes portrayed in the serial which clearly betray attempts at imposing present social values on Ramayana, distortion of facts, and fabrication of lies.
In short, ‘Siya Ke Raam’ ends up making a complete mockery of Ramayana and Hindu practices. But the question is, will it take the moral responsibility for its distortions and mockery?
The serial starts with a disclaimer saying that the serial intends to hurt no religious sentiments, yet that is precisely what it is doing. It is distorting the facts of Valmiki Ramayana and fabricating events that are not present in it and more importantly, it is trying to discredit Hindu practices by superimposing elements from left-liberal worldview into the situations of Ramayana.
If the intentions of the serial makers were really genuine and they wanted to teach certain values to counter current problems, they could have made a completely new mythological serial something on the lines of Game of Thrones. Yet, again and again, the film and serial production industry take a short cut and produce serials that bear the name of historical or mythological characters for the sake of earning TRP, but without an iota of historical or mythological truths in them. This happened with Jodha Akbar serial in the past and it is happening now with ‘Siya ke Raam’.
The serial could have served a fantastic platform for imparting the Dharmic teachings inherent in the story of Valmiki Ramayana that would have helped the common people. Yet, the serial makers chose to reduce the whole effort into a distortion of Hinduism to propagate modern left-liberal narratives.
If this is not a mockery of Ramayana and Hinduism in the name of entertainment, then what is?
Diwali is known for gifting and jewellery tops the list, with the focus on buying gold and diamonds. ORRA jewellery, a trusted diamond jewellery brand is gearing up for the festive and bridal season. As they open their 50th store in the country, IANSlife caught up with Dipu Mehta, Managing Director, ORRA, to find out how the company plans to ramp up its now 50 company-owned and operated stores, expanding its retail presence in Tier-1 and 2 cities and target the millennial segment.
Q: The brand is expanding in tier-2 and tier-3 cities, is brick and mortar the way forward to create a presence in this segment?
A: ORRA currently is expanding in metros plus tier-2 cities. But we aren't opening stores in any new markets. We are only opening in markets where we are already present. We are increasing the number of stores within cities as the demand for jewellery buying has also increased. Currently, we are present in 25 cities with 50 stores, and by the end of the month, we would be launching another seven stores.
Also with a category like jewellery, it is important to have brick and mortar stores as the customers like to see and hold higher value jewellery before purchasing. Jewellery buying is an important decision to the customers and having a store gives them that assurance.
ORRA currently is expanding in metros plus tier-2 cities. | Wikimedia Commons
Q: Jewellery is recession-proof do you agree and why?
A: Jewellery buying in India has always been an emotional and occasion-led purchase. It is also considered a great investment. The pandemic has affected all industries and the purchase pattern of consumers has slowed down. We wouldn't call it recession-proof but due to the festive season coming up, we predict a good season for all retailers.
Jewellery buying in India has always been an emotional and occasion led purchase. | Photo by Joeyy Lee on Unsplash
Q: The small Indian wedding doesn't mean that jewellery gets minimal, it just means people are investing more in jewellery. Please elaborate on how the brand's consumer behaviour has shifted in this regard.
A: Weddings in the family has always been a strong motivator for bridal jewellery purchase. It doesn't matter if the wedding is on a large scale or small scale, the kind of jewellery worn has been large. The only difference we see now is due to the pandemic and the limited number of guests at weddings the families are spending more money than before on buying diamond jewellery. We have seen the customers upgrade to higher-value diamond necklaces than ever before.
Weddings in the family has always been a strong motivator for bridal jewellery purchase. | Photo by Aayush(gop) Rawat on Unsplash
Q: The brand is the only one to offer 0 per cent interest EMI on diamond jewellery. Please share the idea behind this and what is the impact it has had on sales?
A: The idea came from the insight that during a wedding in the family, the father of the bride is always the most worried about all the wedding expenses. At ORRA, we understand this and decided to offer 0 per cent interest EMI.
We are the only brand offering 0 per cent interest EMI on diamond jewellery and we have seen a great response from customers. Offering this has led a lot of customers to upgrade the jewellery and purchase larger pieces. We are seeing a growing trend of customers who prefer buying jewellery on EMI and to pay it in equal monthly installments instead of paying the whole amount in one go.
OORA is the only brand offering 0 per cent interest EMI on diamond jewellery and they have seen a great response from customers. | Needpix
Q: The millennial and Gen Z as a segment, how important are they to you and are you doing any digital marketing for this audience?
A: The millennial and Gen z customers are extremely important to us and we launched our 'Desired Collection' specially to target this age group and style. This generation has a distinct style and makes their own decisions, they are tech savvy and are comfortable making jewellery purchases on our e-commerce website. They love a good deal along with great designs and quality products. Our customers are extremely engaged with us on our social media handles and we ensure that we respond to all their product-related queries within a day. We also have live chat and video calling facility which helps them make a decision.
OORA's customers are extremely engaged with them on our social media handles and they ensure that they respond to all their product-related queries within a day. | Photo by Campaign Creators on Unsplash
Q: Lastly what are the trends you predict for 2021 and 2022?
A: We see an upward trend this season and in the coming few months. We see an increase in demand in diamond jewellery purchases and with the help of 0 percent interest EMI we can see more and more customers buying larger pieces of diamond jewellery. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: diamond jewellery purchase, Diwali is known for gifting and jewelry, festive and bridal season,
The Centre on Wednesday directed all Union Ministries and Departments to clear Air India's dues immediately. An office memorandum from the Finance Ministry's Department of Expenditure said: "Recently, the Government of India has decided to disinvest Air India, and the process of disinvestment of Air India and Air India Express is ongoing.""Air India has stopped extending credit facilities on account of purchase of air tickets. Therefore, all Ministries or Departments are directed to clear Air India's dues immediately." "Air tickets from Air India may be purchased in cash till further instructions."
In 2009, the Centre had mandated that Central government officers travel via Air India for all official purposes including availing of LTC. On Monday, conglomerate Tata Group entered into a share purchase agreement with the Central government for buying out the latter's stake in national carrier Air India, Air India Express, and AISATS.
Earlier, a Letter of Intent was issued to the Tata Group. After the SPA, Tata Group would need to fulfill the conditions precedent in the agreement before taking over the airline. The rest of the transaction is expected to be completed by December.
Tata Sons' subsidiary Talace emerged as the highest bidder for the national carrier under the divestment process. Talace had quoted an enterprise value of Rs 18,000 crore for 100 per cent equity shareholding of the Centre in Air India along with that of Air India Express and AISATS. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: India, air India, ministers, government, purchase, dues, Tata group, centre
Sports betting has been around for centuries for the audience to not only watch the sport but to get more deeply involved in the match. It is a fun and often profitable activity for the viewer to win some extra fortune or simply get some extra sweat while watching the game. At first glance, sports betting may look like it's pure luck, but when you indulge deeper into the activity you realize it is more of a calculative and research activity than just pure luck. We must note that yes, luck does play a certain role to some extend but a win is not completely dependent on luck, if you're putting your bets on a certain team you have to make sure to do some research about the players on the team, history of wins and losses of the team and compare the probability of winning and then place bets.
Even though sports betting has existed since the ancient era, it was not until recently that it became increasingly popular among the youth. This happened due to the legalization of the activity and the rise of online sports betting. The technological revolution has expanded the sports betting industry, offering the bettors new markets and ways to bet. The only major difference between online bookmarkers and traditional brick-and-mortar venues of sports betting is that now you can place bets online from your mobile devices, laptops, computers etc.
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Online sports betting allows the sports enthusiastic bettors to place their sports bet online from wherever they are on real-life happening sports events. For instance, if there is a match between Chelsea F.C. and Machester United in the English Premier League, you can place wagers on either of the team to win from your comfort space, on your device and if you correctly predict the outcome, you'll win money.
How to Bet on Sports?
Sport betting gives more thrill and involvement in the sport to the bettor.Istockphoto
Now that you understand the basic mechanism of sports betting, how and where should you place your bets? For new bettors, sports betting can be a little intimidating because you're putting real money as stakes and no one wants to lose it. Here are the steps to place your sports bets online:
Choose a betting site: The first step to placing your sports bets is to find a reliable sports betting site. BetRivers sportsbook is one of the most popular sports betting sites in the US which also has a mobile app. It has a solid design with intuitive navigation, user friendly and polished layout.
Sign up: After choosing the website, you must sign up and provide simple details like your name, email address, age etc. to verify your proof of identity and if you're legally allowed to start betting in the state or not.
Deposit money in your online sportsbook: Once you've registered an account, you can immediately deposit some money and place your bets on the sport of your choice. Most online sports betting platforms accept numerous deposit methods. BetRivers accepts various methods like online banking, Paypal, Visa, Mastercard, pay+, etc; and withdrawing money is as simple as depositing the amount.
ALSO READ: The Growth of The Sports Betting Market
Locate the market: Before placing your first bet, pinpoint the sports you want to place bets on, then select specific competitions or leagues that interests you the most. Then you need to find a team you want to bet on. Do some research on the odds and market. Once you've made up your mind you can bet your money on your prediction.
Place your first bet: Once you're certain about your bet, you're required to enter the amount you want to bet. Most sites give you a preview of how much a bettor stands to win in the bet slip. If you're satisfied with the odds, you can happily hit the button to confirm your bet and wait for the results.
Enjoy the game: The bet has been placed, the game has started, now all you need to do is sit back, relax and watch the game and let your bet come in.
Disclaimer: (This article is sponsored and includes some commercial links)