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Surdas Jayanti 2017: Remembering the Blind Hindu Saint-Poet and an ardent Krishna Devotee

He was a saint and he sung different types of beautiful songs about Lord Krishna. His songs and his voice captured the minds of the people at that time and continue to do so even today

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Sant Surdas and Lord Krishna , Wikimedia

April 30, 2017: To commemorate the birth anniversary of one of the greatest poet and musician, Surdas Jayanti is celebrated every year in India. The Hindu saint was born blind but his immense devotion towards Lord Krishna resulted in melodious devotional songs and some of the finest poems. These timeless songs and poems are still sung by people.

This year, in 2017, Surdas Jayanti will be celebrated on April 30. Sant Surdas (1478-1581 C.E.) was born blind,  and therefore, he was always neglected by his family. Due to this, one day, he left his home at the tender age of six and found his refuge in Lord Krishna at a very young age.

Historians believe that he was born in village Sihi, Faridabad, Haryana. However, some claim that he was born at Runkta near Agra. The birth anniversary of Sant Surdas is observed as per Hindu lunar calendar and falls on Shukla Paksha, Panchami in Vaishakha month.

Due to his dedication and inclination towards music and fine poetry, the Mughal emperor Akbar became his patron.

It is said that Surdas spent the last years of his life in Braj and lived on the donations from other people, which he received in return for singing Bhajans and lecturing on religious topics.

He is said to have written and composed a hundred thousand songs in his magnum opus the ‘Sur Sagar’ (Ocean of Melody), out of which only about 8,000 exist today. He is considered a saint by many and so also known as Sant Surdas, a name which means the “slave of melody”. ‘Charan kamal bando hari rai’ is considered as one of his famous works.

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Here are a few interesting facts about the Surdas Jayanti :

  • An Indian postal department released a postage stamp on the great poet which indicates that Surdas was born in 1479 AD and his soul departed in 1586.
  • There are different types of musical competitions and musical nights held in some of the places. However, his birthday is celebrated with great love and enthusiasm in Vrindavan, where he dreamt of Lord Krishna.
  • There are groups in India comprising of blind singers who sing Bhajans, to commemorate him.
  • To remember him, devotees across the world chant the manuscripts that were written by Saint Surdas.
  • Braj is filled with excitement and enthusiasm on this holy occasion of Surdas Jayanti and is celebrated with zeal and fervour every year. Different types of music competitions and musical nights are also set for the day.
  • Through his work, he transformed the lives of many people who were looking for solace and peace. Even in today’s time, seminars and discourses are conducted to teach about the preaching and life of Surdas.
  • Devotees fast on this day and pray to Lord Krishna on this occasion. There is a tradition of feeding the Brahmans too.

Surdas also created a feeling of nationalism among the Indians and many of his works helped in the easy spreading of the Bhakti movement in the country. He not only united the people with a feeling of nationalism but he also developed a hope for millions of handicapped people.  He touched the hearts of the people with devotional and spiritual songs. The devotional songs of Lord Krishna’s Childhood sung by him can never be taken away from the hearts of millions of Lord Krishna’s devotees all across the world.

A Poem by Surdas: ‘The Deeds Of Kanha’

There is no end to the deeds of Kanha:
true to his promise, he tended the cows in Gokula;
Lord of the gods and compassionate to his devotees, as poor
he came as Nrisingha
and tore apart Hiranyakashipa.
When Bali spread his dominion
over the three worlds,
he begged three paces of land from him
to uphold the majesty of the gods,
and stepped over his entire domain:
here too he rescued the captive elephant.
Countless such deeds figure in the Vedas and the Puranas,
hearing which Suradasa
humbly bows before that Lord.

 

– by Nikita Tayal of NewsGram Twitter @NikitaTayal6

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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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Raja Chari: Indian American Astronaut chosen by NASA

Raja Chari, an American of Indian descent, has been chosen by NASA as one of the 12 astronauts for a new space mission.

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Raja Chari. Twitter.
  • Raja Chari is an American of Indian descent chosen by NASA for the new batch of astronauts
  • Currently, he is a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force
  • Chari will have to go through two years of astronaut training which begins in August

June 06, 2017: NASA has chosen 12 astronauts out of a record-breaking 18,300 applications for upcoming space missions. An American of Indian descent, Raja Chari, has successfully earned his spot in the top 12.

The astronauts were selected on the basis of expertise, education, and physical tests. This batch of 12 astronauts is the largest group selected by NASA since two decades. The group consisting of 7 men and 5 women surpassed the minimum requirements of NASA.

Born in Waterloo, Iowa, Chari graduated from Air Force Academy in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in Astronautical Engineering and Engineering Science. He went on to complete his master’s in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The astronaut is also a graduate of US Naval Test Pilot School.

Currently, Raja Chari is a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force. He is the commander of 461st Flight Test Squadron and director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

After Late Kalpana Chawla, Lt. Col. Raja Chari is the second Indian American astronaut chosen by NASA.

The 12 astronauts will have to go through two years of training. Upon completion, they will be assigned their missions ranging from research at the International Space Station, launching from American soil on spacecraft by private companies, to flying on deep space missions on NASA’s Orion Spacecraft.

The US Vice-President Mike Pence visited the Johnson Space Centre in Houston to announce and congratulate the new batch. Pence also said that President Trump is “fully committed” to NASA’s missions in space.

by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2393

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Over 5,000 Plant Varieties in Last 3 Years sent in by Tribal Farmers to protect the species : Minister

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Tribal Farmers
tribal farmers submitted more than 5,000 plant varieties in last three years (representational Image). Wikimedia

New Delhi, June 8, 2017: Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh on Wednesday said tribal farmers submitted more than 5,000 plant varieties in last three years through Krishi Vigyan Kendras for registration at the Protection of Plant Variety and Farmers Rights Authority.

It will play an important role in the development of climate resilient and sustainable varieties in future, he said at the National Workshop on Empowerment of Farmers of Tribal Areas here.

“New technological innovations in agriculture must reach to the fields of tribal areas but before taking such steps we must keep in mind the unique conditions of these areas, which are the gift of nature and therefore, we should promote natural farming in those areas,” he said, as per an official release. (IANS)

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