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To protect British-era old apple industry in Himachal Pradesh, Government replaces senile apple trees with exotic varieties

About six lakh new saplings have been replanted under the apple rejuvenation scheme covering 5,917 beneficiaries during the past four years

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Apple Tree, Pixabay
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Shimla, March 19, 2017: To protect the British-era old apple industry in Himachal Pradesh, the state government has started a project under which old and senile apple plants are replaced with exotic high-yield varieties.

About six lakh new saplings have been replanted under the apple rejuvenation scheme covering 5,917 beneficiaries during the past four years, an official with the state Horticulture Department said on Sunday.

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He said the department has uprooted more than three lakh old and senile apple plants.

Besides, a World Bank-funded Himachal Pradesh Horticulture Development Project is being implemented in the state with an outlay of Rs 1,134 crore, mainly to protect apple cultivation.

This hill state is one of India’s major apple-producing regions, with more than 90 per cent of the produce going to the domestic market. Apples alone constitute 84 per cent of the state’s fruit economy of Rs 3,500 crore ($520 million).

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To protect the apple and other fruit crops from natural vagaries like hailstorms, the state government is providing subsidy on anti-hail nets.

According to the Horticulture Department records, 473.73 hectare have been covered under the state’s anti-hail net scheme, benefiting 1,514 orchardists in the past four years.

The official said the state would cover more farmers in the next fiscal under the anti-hail net scheme, under which each grower is being provided 80 per cent subsidy on installing nets.

Prominent mid-hills apple belts in Kotkhai, Kiari, Chirgaon, and Rohru in Shimla district, which alone account for 80 per cent of the state’s total apple production, Karsog, Churag and Seri in Mandi district and Ani and Dalash in Kullu district are prone to hailstorms.

Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh presenting the state Budget for 2017-18 this month proposed to install more weather recording systems across the state during the year so that real time data is collected and weather-based crop insurance benefits flow to the farmers.

In the next fiscal, the government is going to increase plantation of kiwi in Chamba, Hamirpur, Una, Mandi, Bilaspur, Solan, Sirmaur and Kangra districts as temperatures up to 35 degree Celsius are congenial for the fruit’s cultivation.

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Horticulture experts say another interesting aspect relating to kiwi fruit is that monkeys do not eat it and it fetches good market price.

According to the state’s Economic Survey 2016-17, the overall production of fruit and food grain in Himachal Pradesh may decline this fiscal.

The production of fruit was 5.10 lakh tonnes in 2016-17 (till December), compared with 9.29 lakh tonnes in 2015-16.

In this fiscal, 4.56 lakh tonnes of apple were produced till December against 7.77 lakh tonnes in the previous financial year. (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