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Arts Current affairs 2022

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Arts Current Affairs - October 2022

National Cinema Day 2022: An initiative by the Multiplex Association of India (MAI), National Cinema Day was celebrated on September 23 to commemorate the successful reopening of movie halls.

Key Highlights:

  • The National Cinema Day was previously announced to be held on September 16, however, on request from various stakeholders and in order to maximize participation, it was rescheduled to September 23.
  • On the occasion of National Cinema Day, MAI offered movie tickets for only Rs 75 across four thousand screens in India.
  • However, some states namely Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh will not be participating due to state regulations of their respective states.
  • Apart from India several other countries also celebrated cinema days.
  • The UK, USA and other parts of Europe celebrated International Cinema Day on September 3 in which movie tickets were priced at 3 pounds which normally is priced at 7 pounds.

About Multiplex Association of India (MAI):

  • The Multiplex Association of India (MAI) was established in 2022 under the aegis of the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) by leading cinema operators.
  • It is a nationwide group of cinema operators that informs, educates and advocates on behalf of the cinema exhibition sector.
  • It partners with regulatory bodies and industry partners nationwide to raise the profile of cinema, highlighting opportunities, and addressing various challenges faced by the cinema exhibition sector.
  • Consisting of around 75% of the multiplex industry of India, the Multiplex Association of India (MAI) represents more than 11 cinema chains that operate more than 500 multiplexes across the country, with around 2500+ screens.

Maharaja Hari Singh: After 75 years, Jammu and Kashmir observed a holiday on the birth anniversary of Dogra monarch Maharaja Hari Singh on September 23.

This is for the first time in independent India, that Maharaja Hari Singh, the last Dogra monarch is being celebrated as a public holiday in Jammu and Kashmir.

Key Points:

  • According to a notification issued by General Administration Department (GAD) " 23rd of September every year would be observed as a holiday in government offices and educational institutions across the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir under the Negotiable Instruments Act 1881, to commemorate the birth anniversary of Maharaja Hari Singh ji.
  • The Lieutenant Governor’s (L-G) administration made an announced regarding the decision following his meeting with a delegation comprising of prominent political leaders, members of the Yuva Rajput Sabha, civil society members, including head of J&K transport union.
  • He said that his decision was taken in view of the contributions of the late Maharaja.

History:

  • Maharaja Hari Singh (1895 – 1961)   was born on September 23, 1895.
  • He was the last ruling Maharaja of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • He was a great educationist, progressive thinker, social reformer and a towering man of ideas and ideals.
  • It was the then Maharaja Hari Singh who had signed the Instrument of Accession of the Instrument of Accession of and raiders attacked the state.
  • When the British formally left on August 15, 1947, Maharaja Hari Singh, who was a Hindu ruler of a Muslim-majority state, wanted his state to remain independent and thus had a standstill agreement with both India and Pakistan.
  • However, in the wake of an invasion by tribal raiders backed by Pakistan, Hari Singh fled Kashmir and signed an Instrument of Accession with India on October 26, 1947.
  • He later lived in exile in Mumbai, where he died in 1961.
  • Even after the accession, the state had its own constitution, flag and the penal code, Ranbir Penal Code (ROC), named after one of Hari Singh's predecessors, Ranbir Singh.
  • The state subject law, which defined permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir and barred outsiders from owning land, was another defining legacy of Maharaja Hari Singh.
  • All this was abolished when Article 370 was revoked in August 2019.

Background:

  • The demand of the Dogras of the region have been fullfiled after 72 years.
  • On August 26, 2022, the former Member of Jammu and Kashmir and scion of erstwhile Royal Dogra family, Vikramaditya Singh urged the Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha to announce a public holiday on the birth anniversary of Maharaja Hari Singh.
  • He also wrote to Rajnath Singh, the then Home Minister of India through his letter on July 15, 2018 in this regard.
  • On January 24, 2017, the Legislative Council (Upper House) of erstwhile state Jammu and Kashmir had passed a resolution to declare his birthday, September 23, as a State holiday.
  • However, despite the resolution being passed in the Legislative Council of erstwhile J&K State, it was denied by the then State Government.
  • Then again on September 22, 2017 the Jammu Municipal Corporation (JMC) also has passed a resolution to declare the birth anniversary of Maharaja Hari Singh on September 23 as State holiday.

Haryana Sikh Gurdwaras (Management Act), 2014: The Supreme Court recently upheld the validity of the Haryana Sikh Gurdwaras (Management Act), 2014.

Key Points:

  • The verdict has cleared the way for the Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (HSGMC) to control all gurdwaras in the state.
  • The gurdwaras covered by the Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925 are spread over Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Union Territory of Chandigarh.
  • They are administered by Amritsar-based Shiromani Gurdwara Management Prabandhak Committee (SGPC).
  • Until the Haryana Act came into force, the gurdwaras in Haryana were governed by the provisions of the Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925.
  • The Haryana Sikh Gurdwaras (Management Act) was brought in based on a nearly two-decade old demand by a section of the Sikh community in Haryana to have a separate committee to manage gurdwaras in the state instead of SGPC.
  • Upholding the validity of the Haryana Sikh Gurdwaras (Management Act), 2014, the Supreme Court said that since the affairs of the Sikh minority in the state are to be managed by the Sikhs alone, it cannot be said to be violative of any of the fundamental rights conferred under Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution.

Arts Current Affairs - September 2022

Hindi Diwas 2022: Hindi Diwas is observed every year on September 14 to commemorate the adoption of Hindi as the official language of India.

Key Points:

  • On the occasion of Hindi Diwas, Home Minister Amit Shah inaugurated second All India Rajbhasha Sammelan.
  • On September 14, 1949, the Indian Constituent Assembly declared Hindi to be the national language of India.
  • Article 343 of the Indian Constitution recognizes Hindi in Devanagari script as the official language.
  • The provisions related to the Hindi language are regulated by the Central Hindi Directorate, Government of India.
  • Hindi, written in the Devanagari script, is one of the two official languages of the Government of India, along with English.
  • It is one of the 22 official languages of the Indian Republic.
  • On the occasion of Hindi Diwas, a number of cultural festivals are held to honour and celebrate Hindi literature as well as to raise awareness of the language's significance.

Significance:

  • The day honours the occasion when Hindi was adopted as one of India’s official languages.
  • Hindi was acknowledged as one of the two official languages thanks to the efforts of Beohar Rajendra Simha and a few others, including Kaka Kalelkar, Maithili Sharan Gupt, Hazari Prasad Dwivedi and Seth Govind Das.
  • The Indian government set standards for grammar and orthography using the Devanagari script after gaining independence in order to give the mother tongue of the nation an idealized appearance.
  • Following this, on September 14, 1949, the Constituent Assembly declared Hindi to be India’s official language.
  • This date is also the birth anniversary of Beohar Rajendra Simha who devoted his life to establishing Hindi as India’s official language, was born on September 14.

History of Hindi Diwas:

  • India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru decided to create the Hindi Diwas on September 14.
  • Mahatma Gandhi was the first to advocate for making Hindi the national language of India in Hindi Sahitya Sammelan in 1918.
  • Hindi Diwas was celebrated for the first time in 1953.

History of Hindi:

Hindi is an Indo-Aryan language.

  • It is spoken chiefly in the Hindi Belt region encompassing parts of northern, central, eastern, and western India.
  • It is written in Devnagri script.
  • Hindi is a direct descendant of an early form of Vedic Sanskrit, through Sauraseni Prakrit and Śauraseni Apabhraṃśa (from Sanskrit apabhraṃśa "corrupt"), which emerged in the 7th century CE.
  • The term Hindī originally was used to refer to inhabitants of the Indo-Gangetic Plain.
  • The terms "Hindi" and "Hindu" trace back to Old Persian which derived these names from the Sanskrit name Sindhu (सिन्धु ), referring to the river Indus.
  • The Greek cognates of the same terms are "Indus" (for the river) and "India" (for the land of the river).

Some Interesting facts about the Hindi language:

  • Amir Khusro wrote and published the first poem in Hindi.
  • In 1900, Chintamani Ghosh founded the first Hindi magazine named Saraswati, It was a monthly magazine.
  • The first newspaper produced in Hindi in India was called 'Udant Martand' meaning 'The Rising Sun'. Pt. Jugal Kishore Shukla published it on a weekly basis.
  • French author “Grasim the Taisi” wrote the first works on the history of the Hindi language.
  • Dadasaheb Phalke made Raja Harishchandra in 1913 which is the first Hindi full-length feature film in India
  • The first Hindi television drama was aired in 1984-85 as Hum Log.
  • Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the former Indian prime minister, gave a speech in Hindi at the UN in 1977.
  • Devanagari script is used to write Hindi, a language connected to Sanskrit.
  • Surya Namaskar and Jugaad,” which are commonly used Hindi words are also a part of the Oxford Dictionary.
  • Many English words have also been borrowed from Hindi, including Avatar, Jungle, Guru, Karma, Mantra, Yoga, Guru, Bungalow, Loot, Pajamas, Shampoo, Thug, and many more.
  • The Persian word Hind, which means "Land of the Indus River," is the source of the name Hindi.
  • In 1881, Bihar accepted Hindi as its sole official language, replacing Urdu, and thus became the first state of India to adopt Hindi.
  • Following this, Hindi also became the official language of other states, including Uttar Pradesh, Haryana & Rajasthan among others.
  • The most widely spoken language in India is Hindi with more than 70% of the population able to speak and understand.
  • The Hindi language is also widely spoken outside of India, including in Nepal, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Fiji, and Mauritius.
  • When the first Hindi web portal was created in 2000, Hindi began to leave its mark on the Internet, a trend that has since gained traction.
  • One of the seven Indian languages used to construct a web address is Hindi (URL).
  • As of 2022, Hindi is the third most spoken language in the world, with about 602.2 million people speaking the language.

Akhil Bharatiya Rajbhasha Sammelan:

The first Akhil Bharatiya Rajbhasha Sammelan (All India Official Language Conference) took place in 2021.

  • The two-day conference will be organized by State Language Department of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • Discussions will be held on the importance of Hindi during this conference.

World Hindi Day:

  • While the National Hindi Diwas is celebrated on September 14, the World Hindi Day (Vishwa Hindi Diwas) is celebrated on January 10 every year.
  • World Hindi conferences were started with the aim of developing and disseminating Hindi in the world.
  • The first World Hindi Conference was held in Nagpur on January 10, 1975, since then this day is celebrated as ‘World Hindi Day’.

World’s Largest Museum of Harappan Culture: The world’s largest museum of Harappan culture is being set up in Rakhigarhi in Haryana.

Key Points about the museum:

  • This museum in Rakhigarhi will showcase about 5,000-year-old artefacts belonging to the Indus Valley Civilization.
  • It will display photographs depicting Rakhigarhi’s history.
  • The village of Rakhigarhi was part of the Indus Valley Civilisation from 2600-1900 BC.
  • The museum will give recognition to Rakhigarhi at the international and national levels.
  • This in turn will increase job opportunities for the local communities.
  • A special zone is being created in the museum for children to make them aware of the history in a recreational manner.
  • The museum will also have an open-air theatre, galleries, and a library.

About Rakhigarhi:

  • Rakhigarhi is a hamlet in Haryana’s Hisar district, some 150 kilometres from Delhi.
  • The village is also a famous archaeological site from the Indus Valley civilisation period.
  • It was part of the Indus Valley Civilizaion from 2600 to 1900 BC.
  • The place was one of the largest settlements of the ancient civilisation located in the Ghaggar-Hakra River plain.
  • However, the site remains largely unexcavated and only about five percent of the village has been excavated till date.
  • The two villages Rakhi Khas and Rakhi Sahapur currently host the archeological remains of the Indus Valley site.

Excavation at Rakhigarhi:

  • The ASI (Archeological Survey of India) started removing a village’s foundation for the first time in 1963 and advanced between 1998 and 2001.
  • Another excavation took place in 2013, 2016, and 2022.
  • During the initial excavations, seven mounds, RGR 1 to RGR 7, were found and these together make the largest settlements of the Harappan culture.

 

  • Till 1998, some 56 skeletons have been discovered in the Rakhigarhi region.
  • Among these, two skeletons of women were estimated about 7000 years oldwere found in mound number 7. 
  • Along with this, a copper mirror, a number of shell bangles, and semi-precious stone beads were found in the hands of both the skeletons.
  • The presence of shell bangles in the site provides evidence of trade links to faraway places such as Afghanistan, Baluchistan, Gujarat and Rajasthan.
  • Jewelry trade is among the most prominent in this site.
  • People in this civilization are known to melt precious metals like copper, carnelian, agate and gold to make garlands of beads.

Development of 5 Iconic Sites:

During the Union Budget 2020, the Central Government announced the development of five iconic sites –

  1. Rakhigarhi (Haryana),
  2. Hastinapur (Uttar Pradesh),
  3. Shivasagar (Assam),
  4. Dholavira (Gujarat) and
  5. Adichanallur (Tamil Nadu).

Museums will be developed in these sites with a total outlay of Rs.2,500 crore.

Indus Valley Civilisation:

  • The Indus Valley Civilisation covers an area of over a million square kilometers.
  • It extends from Shortugai (Afghanistan) in the north to Daimabad (Maharashtra, India) in the south and from Sutkagan Dor (Pakistan) in the west to Alamgirpur (Uttar Pradesh, India) in the east.
  • There are thousands of sites within this radius, some of which are very well known, including Harappa, Mohenjodaro in Pakistan, Rakhigarhi (Haryana), Dholavira (Gujarat), and Kalibangan (Rajasthan) in India.
  • It is believed that Harappa, which was founded in the 1920s, is a 4700-year-old metropolis on the subcontinent.
  • More cities were soon discovered after towns like Lothal, Dholavira, Mohenjo-Daro, and Kalibangan, which resulted in the development of the Harappan Civilization and the subsequent attribution of these locations as Harappan cities.
  • The Harappan script remains undeciphered, leaving us with only tangible archaeological remains to discover and interpret the lives of its inhabitants.
  • Well-planned cities to an advanced ceramic culture speak volumes of the objects and technologies that were used in their day-to-day routine 4,500 years ago.
  • One aspect includes a range of beauty and grooming paraphernalia that were used by the Harappans

Shumang Leela Festival 2021-2022: The 50th All Manipur Shumang Leela Festival 2021-2022 was celebrated at Iboyaima Shumang Leela Shanglen at Palace Compound in Imphal.

Key Points:

  • The inaugural function was attended by Manipur Governor La Ganesan and Chief Minister N. Biren Singh.
  • During the festival, the Governor also distributed medals to the winners of 49th All Manipur Shumang Leela Festival 2020-21.
  • In 2017, Shougrakpam Hemanta was conferred with the prestigious Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in recognition of his contribution in Shumang Leela.
  • With this, he became the first person to receive the award for this art form.

About Shumang Leela:

  • Shumang Leela is a traditional form of theatre in Manipur.
  • The roles of female artists are all played by male actors and male characters are played by female artists in case of female theatre groups.
  • Shumang Leela Groups of the early stage attempted to preserve and promote humanism, tolerance, confidence, devotion, truth and justice through their performances.
  • The present day Shumang Leelas have been trying to focus on the issues of moral values, unity and integrity.
  • It has also been trying to strengthen the bond of brotherhood and friendship among various communities in the State.

 

UNESCO Network of Learning Cities 2022: Three cities in India have recently joined the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities (GNLC)2022 List.

Key Points:

  • Warangal in Telangana and Thrissur and Nilambur in Kerala are among the 77 cities from 44 countries which have joined this network of the world body.
  • Other notable cities which have been featured on UNESCO GNLC include Ukrainian capital Kyiv, Durban in South Africa and Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates among others.
  • These three cities of India have been included in UNSCO - GNLC  in recognition of their outstanding efforts to make lifelong learning a reality for all at the local level.
  • In total, the list consists of 294 cities from across the world, which have been bestowed with this distinct honour.

About Warangal:

  • Warangal is a city with rich cultural heritage of Telangana.
  • It is a major tourist destination of the state.
  • More than 32 lakh tourists visit here every year.
  • The economy of Warangal mainly depends on agricultural and industrial centres.
  • It houses several school-level and higher education institutions which promote learning excellence in the citizens.
  • The city promotes equity and inclusion, for which it has implemented several strategies, including Women and Child Welfare policy, Urban Policy, and the creation of an advisory committee to monitor and evaluate the impact of initiatives on marginalized groups.
  • In addition, it also provides free training  to the transgender community which helps in employment opportunities.
  • Over 125,000 citizens belonging to various self-help groups throughout the city addresses issues concerning women, people with disabilities, marginalized and vulnerable communities.

The development of this city will further accelerate after it is included in the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities.

Note: In 2021, the 13th-century Great Ramappa Temple in Mulugu districthas also been bestowed the honour of a World Heritage Site by UNESCO

About Nilambur (Kerala):

  • Nilambur is a famous eco-tourism destination in Kerala.
  • Majority of the population here is dependent on agriculture and allied industries.
  • The city is most renowned for its healthcare facility development. In addition to this, the city is also trying to fulfil its commitment to UN SDG 2of “zero hunger”.

With Nilambur included in this list, sustainable development through community ownership, gender equality, inclusivity will be further promoted as well as creating employment opportunities in the city and achieving the goals of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

About Thrissur (Kerala):

  • Thrissur is an important center of academic and research institutions.
  • It is considered the cultural capital of Kerala.
  • It is also known as gold art and jewelery industry in particular.

By being included in this UNESCO list, Thrissur will benefit the world with its intellectual, educational and jewelery arts and will itself benefit from cultural inclusion.

What is a Learning City?

According to UNESCO, a city is given the tag of a Learning City and is inducted as part of the Global Network if it promotes the following: -

  • Culture of Learning for life-long
  • Inclusive learning from basic to higher education
  • Learning at the family and community level
  • Learning at workplace
  • Quality and Excellence in Learning
  • Use of Modern Learning Technologies

In doing so, the city enhances individual empowerment and social inclusion, economic development and cultural prosperity, and sustainable development.

About UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities:

  • The UNESCO GNLC - Global Network of Learning Cities is an international policy-oriented network consisting of cities that promote “lifelong learning across their communities.”
  • It was launched in 2013.
  • It is coordinated by the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL).
  • It includes 294 cities from all around the world that aims to ensure the development of all learning cities by promoting policy dialogue and peer learning, documenting effective strategies and best practices; building partnerships; capacity development; and more with other cities.
  • The Network supports the achievement of all seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular, SDG 4 (Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all) and SDG 11 (Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable).

Nuakhai Festival 2022: Nuakhai is an annual harvest festival celebrated in Odisha.

Key Facts:

  • The Nuakhai festival is the most famous social festival celebrated in the Western Odisha and nearby areas of Simdega in Jharkhand.
  • A similar festival is that of Nabanna which is celebrated in Coastal Odisha.
  • It is celebrated after Ganesh Chatuthi to welcome the approaching new season and welcome the season's new rice.
  • Odisha has a vibrant culture of festivals and the Nuakhai festival is just one of the 13 festivals celebrated in Odisha.
  • This is popularly called as in the local Odia language as the  ‘Bara Massa re Teraa Parva’.

About Naukhai:

  • Nuakhai or Navakhai is an agricultural festival mainly observed by people of Western Odisha and Southern Chhattisgarh in India.
  • The word nua means new and khai means food, so the name means the farmers are in possession of the newly harvested rice.
  • Nuakhai is also called Nuakhai Parab or Nuakhai Bhetghat.
  • It is also known as Navakhai Parv in Chhattisgarh.

When is it celebrated?

  • According to the calendar it is observed on panchami tithi (the fifth day) of the lunar fortnight of the month of Bhadrapada or Bhadraba (August–September), the day after the Ganesh Chaturthi festival.

How is it celebrated?

  • The preparation begins two weeks before the actual beginning of the festival.
  • On this festival, Odia people, even those living in far off lands return to their native places to be the part of the celebration.
  • This festival has 9 sets of rituals that start from Behrana to Nuakhai and all conclude in Juhar Bhet.

The nine colours in a sequential manner are as follows:

  1. Beheren - This is the announcement of the meeting to be fixed on the date.
  2. Lagna dekha -This is observed to fix an exact date for partaking in new rice.
  3. Daka haka - Daka means to call or invite and this is the invitation. It’s an invitation.
  4. Sapha sutura and lipa-puchha - This is all about cleanliness.
  5. Kina bika -This is the purchase and sell of the rice harvest.
  6. Nua dhan khuja -This is to find a new crop.
  7. Bali paka -This is for offering prasad to the deity.
  8. Nuakhai -This ritual is popular and it is observed to eat the new crop after offering it to the deity, followed by dancing and singing.
  9. Juhar bhet - It is taking blessings on elderly people and sharing gifts with them.

Significance of the Festival:

  • The Nuakhai Festival aims to provide a great message to society about the relevance of agriculture in the economic progress of the country.
  • The objective of this festival is to celebrate social bonding and accelerate family ties.
  • It drives home the point that the farmers are the fundamental building blocks of Indian society.
  • Thus, it is imperative that the role of farmers in the process of nation-building be recognized.

History of the Nuakhai festival:

  • This festival has been a tradition since the 12th century AD.
  • As per the local legends, the Nuakhai festival was first started in the Vedic period when the sages deliberated on Panchyajna.
  • One part of panchyajna was the Pralambana yajna in which the harvesting of new crops and offering them to mother goddess was celebrated.

Anang Tal Lake: A gazette notification by the Ministry of Culture has recently been issued to declaring Anang Tal Lake located near Qutub Minar in Mehrauli in the National Capital Territory of Delhi as a National Monument.

Key Points:

  • This lake is believed to have been built a thousand years ago.
  • It is said to have been a place of a general resort but now it is dried up and used for cultivation.
  • The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) gave a two-month notice for its intention to declare the site to be of national importance under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958.

History

About Anang Tal Lake:

  • Anang Tal is a mini lake situated to the north of Jog Maya temple and approximately 500 metres to the northwest of Qutub Complex.
  • It was created in 1060 AD by Raja Anang Pal Tomar, the founder of Delhi.
  • The total area of the site was 10.599 acre.
  • As per the website of the National Mission on Monuments and Antiquities, Tradition ascribes this tank to a Tomar King, Anang Pal II, the builder of Lal Kot.
  • According to ancient stone inscriptions excavated by Lord Cunningham, the city was formerly known as DhillikaPuri.
  • This lake has a strong connection with Rajasthan as Maharaja Anangpal is known as the maternal grandfather of Prithviraj Chauhan, whose fort Rai Pithora, is included in the list of ASI.
  • It is also said that Alauddin Khalji A.D 1296-1316 utilized the water of this tank when he built minar and extended the Qutub-ul-Islam mosque.

AnangPal II:

  • Anangpal II popularly known as Anangpal Tomar was a Tomar dynasty king who lived in the 11th century.
  • He was the founder of Dhillika Puri, which eventually came to be known as Delhi (earlier known as Indraprastha). 
  • He ruled over parts of north India that are now Haryana and Delhi.
  • The iron pillar of the mosque next to the Qutub Minar, Masjid Quwwat-ul-Islam, bears inscriptions detailing Delhi's early history.
  • Based on the analysis of several inscriptions and coins, Anangpal Tomar is believed to have ruled Delhi and Haryana between the 8th-12th centuries.

The Ministry of Culture is looking to popularize his legacy.

What are Monuments of National Importance?

  • The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) designates a site as Monument of National.
  • The preservation, promotion, and protection of the Monuments of National Importance fall under the purview of the Indian union government.

Criterion for the declaration of Monument of National Importance:

  • The remains of an ancient monument
  • The site of an ancient monument
  • The land on which there are fences or protective covering structures for preserving the monument
  • Land by means of which people can freely access the monument

What is an Ancient Monument?

  • The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 defines Ancient Monument as any structure, erection or monument, or any tumulus or place of interment, or any cave, rock-sculpture, inscription or monolith which is of historical, archaeological or artistic interest and which has been in existence for not less than 100 years.

About NMMA:

  • The National Mission on Monuments and Antiquities (NMMA) is an Indian government agency.
  • It was launched in 2007.
  • It is responsible for maintaining cultural heritage database under the Ministry of Culture of the government of India.
  • It is aimed at studying, researching and preserving the cultural heritage of India.
  • The main objective of the agency is to make information available online to the general public, explicitly for scholars and students interested or associated with the subject.
  • It is referred to one of the important databases of the country in architectural and historical perspectives alongside the Archaeological Survey of India, a nodal agency of the NMMA.
  • It is responsible for maintaining two national registers such as national registers on antiquities and national register on Built Heritage & Sites (BH&S).

About ASI:

  • The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is an Indian government agency attached to the Ministry of Culture that is responsible for archaeological research and the conservation and preservation of cultural monuments in the country.
  • ASI was founded in 1861 by Alexander Cunningham- the first Director-General of ASI.
  • Alexander Cunningham is also known as the “Father of Indian Archaeology”.
  • It administers more than 3650 ancient monuments, archaeological sites and remains of national importance.
  • Its activities include carrying out surveys of antiquarian remains, exploration and excavation of archaeological sites, conservation and maintenance of protected monuments etc.

UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List: India recently nominated Gujarat’s famed traditional dance form Garba for inclusion in the UNESCO’s (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH).

  • After West Bengal's Durga Puja was inscribed as an Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) of Humanity by UNESCO in 2022, the famed 'Garba' dance of Gujarat has been nominated for the year 2023.

About Garba:

  • Garba is a dance form which has originated in Gujarat, India.
  • The term Garba has derived from the Sanskrit term Garbha, which means womb.
  • Traditionally, it is performed during the nine-day Hindu festival Navarātrī.
  • The dance honors goddess Durga, the feminine form of divinity.
  • It is performed around clay lanterns with a light inside called Garbha Deep or Womb lamp.
  • It is believed that the lantern represents life and the fetus in the womb of a mother.
  • Garba is performed in circles which symbolizes the Hindu view of time.
  • The rings of dancers revolve in cycles, as time in Hinduism is cyclical.
  • As these cycles of time revolve, from birth to life, to death, and again to rebirth, the only thing that is constant is the Goddess, that one unmoving symbol in the midst of all of this unending and infinite movement.

Modern Garba is heavily influenced by Dandiya Raas, a dance traditionally performed by men.

The merger of these two dances has formed the high-energy dance that is currently seen.

What is Intangible Cultural Heritage?

Intangible cultural heritage refers to “traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants, such as

  • Oral traditions,
  • Performing arts,
  • Social practices,
  • Rituals,
  • Festive events,
  • Knowledge and practices concerning nature and
  • The universe or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts.

About UNESCO’S list of Intangible Cultural Heritage and Humanity:

  • The UNESCO’S list of Intangible Cultural Heritage was established in 2008 after the convention for the safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage,2003 came into effect.
  • This list is made up of those intangible heritage elements that help to demonstrate the diversity of cultural heritage.

ICH of India:

In July 2022, India was elected by UNESCO to serve on the distinguished intergovernmental Committee of the 2003 Convention for the safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.

India currently has 14 Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) elements which are inscribed on this list.

They are as follows:

  1. Tradition of Vedic chanting, 2008.
  2. Ramlila, the traditional performance of the Ramayana, 9. 2008.
  3. Kutiyattam, Sanskrit theatre, 2008.
  4. Ramman, religious festival and ritual theatre of the Garhwal Himalayas, India, 2009.
  5. Mudiyettu, ritual theatre and dance drama of Kerala, 2010.
  6. Kalbelia folk songs and dances of Rajasthan, 2010.
  7. Chhau Dance,2010.
  8. Buddhist chanting of Ladakh: recitation of sacred Buddhist texts in the trans-Himalayan Ladakh region, Jammu and Kashmir, India, 2012.
  9. Sankirtana, ritual singing, drumming and dancing of Manipur, 2013.
  10. Traditional brass and copper craft of utensil making among the Thatheras of Jandiala Guru, Punjab, India,2014.
  11. Yoga, 2016.
  12. Nowruz, 2016.
  13. Kumbh Mela, 2017
  14. Durga Puja,2021.

The next UNESCO meeting will be held in November.

Arts Current Affairs - August 2022

Parsi New Year: The Parsi New Year commonly known as Navroz is observed in the month of July or August.

Key Highlights

  • President Droupadi Murmu, Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar greeted the people on the occasion.
  • This day is celebrated by Parsi community according to dates of Shahenshahi calendar.
  • This is seen as a harbinger of peace and prosperity. 
  • Navroz, in 2022 is being observed on August 16.

About Navroz:

  • Navroz has derived its name from two word, viz., ‘Nav’ and ‘Roz’ which means “New Day” in English.
  • This day is commonly celebrated in Maharashtra Gujarat, and Goa since, most of the Parsi population lives in these states.
  • In Zoroastrian calendar, this day is celebrated on first day of the first month of Farvardin.
  • The festival is celebrated with grand lunch and dinner with the best and finest variety of Parsi cuisine.
  • Parisis see this festival as the great occasion to get together, eat and mingle.
  • On this day, they visit the Agyaris or the fire temples to offer prayers.
  • They feed the poor on this day, as the new year has to start on a good note.

History:

  • Navroz celebration is believed to date back to the time when Prophet Zarathustra founded Zoroastrianism.
  • It is one of the earliest known monotheistic religions in the world, in Persia (now Iran).
  • It was one of the most important religions in the ancient world until the emergence of Islam in the seventh century.
  • For followers of Zoroastrian philosophy, this day represents the time when everything in the universe is completely renewed. Jamshed, a monarch of the ancient Sasanian Empire, is credited with introducing the Parsi calendar.
  • Hence, this holiday is also called Jamshed-i-Nouroz.
  • During the Islamic invasion of Persia, several Persians fled to India and Pakistan.
  • Since then, their festivals have become a part of Indian festivities and are celebrated by people from diverse cultures.

Note: Though across the world, Navroz is celebrated at the time of the vernal equinox around March 21 however, Parsis in India follow the Shahenshahi calendar which does not recognise leap years. This is why the Parsi New Year in India is celebrated almost 200 days after it is celebrated across the world.

Partition Horrors Remembrance Day 2022: India commemorated “Partition Horrors Remembrance Day” on August 14, 2022.

Key Points:

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced to observe this day in 2021. 
  • August 14 also marks Independence Day in Pakistan.
  • India was partitioned into India and Pakistan on August 14, 1947.
  • This event had led to violence, communal riots and loss of property.
  • It is considered as most violent and abrupt displacements in world’s history.
  • To commemorate this, Indian government decided to observe “Partition Horrors Remembrance Day” on the line on “Holocaust Remembrance Day”.

Objective:

  • The objective of observing such days is to reflect and learn lessons from them in a bid to avoid any such events in future.
  • It also seeks to honour the memory of victims.

History:

  • Britain wanted to leave India as soon as possible after World War II because its own condition was deteriorating.
  • Earlier, governor-general Lord Mountbatten supposed to make India independent by June 1948 but he decided to advance the date.
  • Cyril Radcliffe was appointed to redraw the boundaries of India and Pakistan.
  • He had never been to India before.
  • Thus, boundaries of new nations were created in a hurry that lacked planning.
  • It ultimately led to “horrors of Partition” due to administrative flux, and massive communal riots.
  • This event resulted into displacement of 10 to 20 million people and death of around 2 million people.

World Photography Day: World Photography Day is celebrated on 19 August every year.

Highlights:

  • This day is observed to promote photography as a hobby and also inspire photographers around the globe to share a single photo with the rest of the world.
  • The day commemorates the importance of cameras and photography in our lives.
  • Photography enthusiasts come together across the world to celebrate the art of taking photographs.
  • The first official World Photo Day was observed on August 19, 2010.

Theme:

The theme of World Photography Day 2022 is "Pandemic Lockdown through the lens".

  • The theme highlights how we observe the pandemic lockdown through the camera's lens. 
  • Lockdown was implemented as a result of the corona virus outbreak, and at that time many people learned photography

History of the day:

  • The origins of World Photography Day can be traced back to 1837.
  • It was only in the 1880s that Kodak eventually came up with consumer-based cameras in the market. 
  • In France, Joseph Nicephore Niepce and Louis Daguerre invented the daguerreotype, the first-ever photographic process.
  • The first permanent photo of an object was captured by French Joseph Nicephore Niepce in 1826.
  • It was on August 19, 1939 that the French government purchased the patent of Daguerreotype process and announced the invention as a gift “free to the world”.
  • Later on, the day began to be marked as World Photography Day.
  • In 1861, the first durable colour photograph was captured.
  • From then on, the medium of photography kept evolving.
  • The first digital photograph was created in 1957, two decades before the digital camera was invented.

Did you Know?

  • The first camera was invented in the 11th century 
  • The Iraqi invention was called the camera obscura, which was the pin-hole camera. 
  • It could only project an image.

Significance of World Photography Day:

  • The science of photography has played a pivotal role throughout human history.
  • Today, due to photography, there are records of historic moments because they have been captured in photographs and can be looked at forever.
  • Photography can capture expressions, feelings, ideas, and moments instantly and immortalise them for future generations to witness.

Ondiveeran: Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Dr L Murugan recently expressed his gratitude to Communications Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw for authorizing a commemorative postal stamp for freedom fighter Ondiveeran.

  • The stamp will be released on 20th August in Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu.

About Ondiveeran Pagadai :

  • Ondiveeran Pagadai (or Ondi Veeran) (died 20 August 1771) was an Indian commander-in-chief who fought against the British East India Company in Tamil Nadu.
  • He was a trusted lieutenant in the Pulithevan Army that had taken on the imperialist forces.
  • He came from the Arunthathiyar community.
  • He was a native of Nerkattum Seval near Sankarankoil in the erstwhile Tirunelveli district (since bifurcated and now in Tenkasi district).
  • He is viewed by them as a hero.

About Arunthathiyar community:

  • Arunthathiyar is a scheduled caste community that are primarily located in Tamil Nadu, a part of and the location of a historical Chera Dynasty province in India.
  • The term has two distinct usages: for the purposes of the state government’s positive discrimination program, in 2009 it was designated an umbrella term for the Arunthatiyar, Chakkiliyar, Madari, Madiga, Pagadai, Thoti and Adi Dravida communities.
  • While the Office of the Registrar-General, which administers the census of India, does not recognise all of those communities as one.

80th Anniversary of Quit India Movement: The 80th anniversary of the August Kranti Din or Quit India Movement was observed on 8 August 2022.

Key Points:

  • It is considered as one of the important milestones in the history of the freedom struggle of India.
  • The slogans “Quit India” and “Do or Die” became battle cries for the freedom fighters during the Quit India movement.

Quit India movement: Significance

  • The Quit India movement was supposed to be a peaceful and non-violent movement that only aimed to urge the British to leave India and grant Independence.
  • Gandhi gave separate instructions to each age group and a working group in India about the movement.

Quit India movement: History

  • On this day 80 years ago, on August 9, 1942, the people of India launched the decisive final phase of the struggle for independence.
  • Mahatma Gandhi gave a clarion call to end British rule and launched the Quit India Movement at the session of the All-India Congress Committee in Mumbai.
  • It was a mass upsurge against colonial rule on a scale not seen earlier.
  • Although the movement was suppressed by 1944, it played an important role in uniting the common people across the country against British rule.
  • Gandhi’s address: Do or Die
  • On August 8, 1942, Gandhi addressed the people in the Gowalia Tank maidan in Bombay (Mumbai).
  • “The mantra is: ‘Do or Die’. We shall either free India or die trying; we shall not live to see the perpetuation of our slavery,” Gandhi said.
  • Aruna Asaf Ali hoisted the Tricolour on the ground.
  • The Quit India movement had been officially announced.

Note: The failure of the Cripps Mission made Gandhi realise that freedom would come only if Indians fought tooth and nail for it.

India ki Udaan’ initiative: The Union Ministry of Culture recently launched “India ki Udaan” initiative

Key Highlights:

  • This initiative has been launched in association with Software behemoth Google.
  • The initiative is aimed at celebrating India’s achievements through an online repository of arts and cultural artifacts.
  • It is also a continuation of decade -long partnership between the Ministry of Culture and Google.
  • It was launched on 6th August, in New Delhi as a part of the Government's year-long 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' programme" - country-wide celebrations to mark 75 Years of India’s Independence.
  • It is being implemented by Google Arts and Culture, in association with Ministry of Culture.

Theme of the Initiative:

  • The Google Arts and Culture project "India ki Udaan" honours India's biggest achievements using ground-breaking augmented reality technology, including Indian handicrafts and also the stories of India’s women achievers.
  • It is based on the theme of "Unwavering and Undying Spirit of India throughout these Past”.
  • Under this theme, Google India will put-up an online exhibit of informative content that showcases India’s contributions and journey in the last 75 years.

Key Points of India ki Udaan Initiative:

  • Its main aim of the initiative is to take citizens to the rich culture & heritage of India, by means of its rich archives and featuring artistic illustrations.
  • Under the initiative, users will be provided with a unique view to witness India’s remarkable moments virtually.
  • Users would be able to know more about the iconic personalities of Indian history, leading female personalities, as well as scientific and sports achievements of country.
  • Google has planned to create informative online content, in association with the Ministry of Culture.
  • Google, through this, will showcase the contribution of Indians in transforming country, before and after independence.
  • In a bid to provide its Indian users with premium content and experiences, Google will also introduce a number of specific efforts on its products and services.
  • It will involve artists from India and World, to provide a rich unique experience through the online archive.

Swastika: For some time now, there has been renewed discussion in media reports on the swastika.

Key Points:

  • The ancient symbol was once used across the world, but it came to be associated in the 20th century with the murderous Nazi ideology of hate and antisemitism, particularly in the Western imagination.
  • On August 11, New South Wales became the second state in Australia (after Victoria in June), to criminalise the display of the swastika.
  • However, the Hindus, Jains, and Buddhists are allowed to use it for educational and religious purposes.

Significance of Swastika for India:

  • The swastika has a civilizational presence in India.
  • The Vedic sages composed some special symbols based on their spiritual experiences.
  • The word swastika has a Sanskrit root, which means good fortune or well-being, and it has been an auspicious symbol for Hindus over many millennia.
  • It also symbolizes Mars.
  • It is used as a symbol of divinity and spirituality in Indian religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.
  • In Hinduism, the right-facing symbol (clockwise) (卐) is called swastika, symbolizing surya ("sun"), prosperity and good luck, while the left-facing symbol (counter-clockwise) (卍) is called sauwastika, symbolising night or tantric aspects of Kali.
  • Unlike the black hakenkreuz of the Nazis, the swastika used by Indians is usually red or yellow in colour, is not tilted to the right, and has dots at each corner, which are believed to represent the four Vedas - Rig Veda, Yajurveda, Atharva Veda, and Samaveda.

Note: The symbol was found in the archaeological remains of the Indus Valley Civilisation and Samarra, as well as in early Byzantine and Christian artwork.

World Sanskrit Day: The World Sanskrit Day also known as Vishva-samskrita-dinam is an annual event focused around the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit.

Key Facts:

  • It is celebrated on Shraavana Poornima, i.e., the full moon day of the Shraavana month in the Hindu calendar.
  • This year the day fell on August 12, 2022.

Purpose of Sanskrit Day Celebration:

  • Sanskrit language, which has the status of Dev language, is now losing its existence.
  • In India too, the number of people who read, write, and understand it is very less.
  • Sanskrit day (Sanskrit Diwas / National Sanskrit Day) is celebrated to remind society of the importance and necessity of Sanskrit.
  • So that as time progresses people do not forget that Sanskrit is also a language.

History:

  • The Government of India (GoI) decided to celebrate World Sanskrit Day in 1969, on the occasion of Raksha Bandhan that falls on the full moon day of the Hindu month of Shravana.

Why was Shraavana poornima chosen as Sanskrit day?

  • Shravani Purnima i.e. Raksha Bandhan is considered to be the festival of remembrance and worship of sages and worship for their dedication.
  • In Vedic literature it was called Shravani.
  • On this day, before the study of Vedas in Gurukulas, Yajñopavita which is a sacred thread is worn.
  • This ceremony is called Upanayana or Upakarma Sanskar.
  • The old Yajñopavita is also changed on this day.
  • Priests also tie raksha-sutras to the hosts.
  • Rishis are the original source of Sanskrit literature, hence Shravani Purnima is celebrated as Rishi Parv and World Sanskrit Day.
  • This day was chosen because the academic year in ancient India started on this day.
  • On this day the students start the study of Vedas in the gurukulas.
  • From the full moon of the month of Paush to the full moon of the month of Shraavana, the studies are stopped to learn other Vedantic scriptures.
  • This tradition is still unbroken in modern Vedic schools.

Note:

  • The New Education Policy (NEP) has laid an ambitious path for “mainstreaming” Sanskrit.
  • NEP also stated that Sanskrit universities will be turned into multi-disciplinary institutions of higher learning.
  • The Sanskrit language was declared as the second official language of Uttarakhand.

Origin of Sanskrit language:

  • Sanskrit is known as the “mother of all languages" is now one of the least spoken.
  • Numerous languages arose from this language.
  • The Sanskrit language has the largest vocabulary of about 102 Arab 78 crores 50 lakh words.
  • The term Sanskrit is derived from the conjoining of the prefix 'Sam' meaning 'Samyak' which indicates 'entirely' and 'krit' indicates 'done'.
  • In terms of communication, reading and hearing Sanskrit term indicates perfectly or entirely done.
  • It is believed to be an Indo-Aryan language, which is said to have originated around 3500 years ago.
  • However, in the scriptures, the Sanskrit language is thought to have originated in the second millennium BCE, when the Rig Veda was composed.
  • This Indo-Aryan language has been designated as a classical language recognized for its scientific composition and is in high demand all over the world.
  • This language is also termed as Dev Vani means Gods language.
  • It is believed that Sanskrit language have been generated by the God Brahma who passed it to the rishis or sages that were living in celestial abodes and further they communicated it to their earthly disciples from where it spread on the earth.
  • In the written form the origin of the Sanskrit language is traced back to the 2nd millennium BCE when the Rig Veda a collection of hymns is assumed to have been written.
  • Sanskrit in literary terms is classified into two different periods -
  1. The Vedic period.
  2. The Classical period.
  • In the Vedas sacred texts, Vedic Sanskrit is found mainly in the Rig Veda, the Puranas and the Upanishads.
  • The Vedas were composed in the period 1000 to 500 BCE.

Additional Info:

The language impressed some Europeans.

  • Sir William Jones, an English scholar, arrived in India in 1783 as a judge of the British Supreme Court in Calcutta.
  • He was the Asian Society’s founder.
  • He translated the Sanskrit author Kalidasa’s Abhijnana Shakuntala and Ritu Samhara as well as Jayadeva’s Gita Govinda into English.
  • Manusmriti was also translated into English by Jones.
  • Another scholar Sir Charles Wilkins in 1785 translated the Bhagavad Gita in to English.
  • The German philologist Max Muller also translated Hitopdesh which is a collection of Indian fables into German.

Some interesting facts about Sanskrit language:

  • Sanskrit language has an organized grammatical structure.
  • Even the vowels and consonants are arranged in a scientific pattern.
  • It is said that a person can express himself or herself in Sanskrit in one word only.
  • In English language too there are words whose origin can be traced back to Sanskrit like bangle from bangri, sugar from sakara, cash from karsha etc.
  • In Karnataka, everyone in the village is Mattur in Shimoga district speaks in Sanskrit language.
  • Sudharma is the only daily newspaper in the world in Sanskrit language. It has been published since 1970 from Mysore, Karnataka and is available online.
  • In classical music that is in the Carnatic and Hindustani, Sanskrit is used.
  • Sanskrit language has the largest vocabulary of about 102 arab 78 crore 50 lakh words.
  • The most computer friendly language is Sanskrit.
  • According to NASA scientist Rick Briggs, Sanskrit is the only unambiguous language in existence.
  • There is a University in America dedicated to Sanskrit.
  • Also, NASA has a department for research on Sanskrit manuscripts.

Shrimad Rajchandra Mission: Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi recently  inaugurated and laid the foundation stone of various projects of the Shrimad Rajchandra Mission worth more than 300 crore rupees at Dharampur in Gujaratvirtually .

Key Points:

  • PM Modi while addressing the gathering said that the initiatives by the Shrimad Rajchandra Mission in the field of rural healthcare have strengthened the Vision of a ‘Healthy India’.
  • The modern healthcare facilities started by the Mission will benefit the rural, poor, and tribal people of South Gujarat.
  • On the occasion, Mr Modi also recalled the spiritual association of Mahatma Gandhi with Rajchandra Ji.

About Shrimad Rajchandra:

  • Shrimad Rajchandra (1867 – 1901) was a Jain poet, mystic, philosopher, scholar and reformer.
  • He wrote much philosophical poetry including Atma Siddhi.
  • He is best known for his teachings on Jainism and his spiritual guidance to Mahatma Gandhi.

Partition Horrors Rememberance Day: The University Grants Commission (UGC) has asked all Universities and Colleges to observe August 14 as Partition Horrors Remembrance Day.

Key Points:

  • They have been asked to organize programmes and seminars to commemorate the sufferings and sacrifices of millions of Indians during the partition in 1947.
  • Prime Minister Modi, in 2021 had announced that August 14 will be observed as Partition Horrors Remembrance Day in memory of the struggles and sacrifices of people, saying the pain of partition can never be forgotten.
  • Mr Modi had said that millions of our sisters and brothers were displaced and many lost their lives due to mindless hate and violence.
  • Soon after the announcement, the Union home ministry also issued a gazette notification stating, “The Government of India declares 14th August as Partition Horrors Remembrance Day to remind the present and future generations of Indians of the pain and suffering faced by the people of India during the partition.”

About India’s partition in 1947:

  • The partition was outlined in the Indian Independence Act 1947 and resulted in the dissolution of the British Raj, i.e., Crown rule in India.
  • The partition of India divided British India into two independent dominions: India and Pakistan.
  • The Dominion of India is today the Republic of India, and the Dominion of Pakistan is the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
  • East Pakistan has since become Bangladesh.
  • The partition involved the division of two provinces, Bengal and Punjab, based on district-wide non-Muslim or Muslim majorities.
  • The partition also saw the division of the British Indian Army, the Royal Indian Navy, the Royal Indian Air Force, the Indian Civil Service, the railways, and the central treasury.
  • The partition displaced between 10 and 20 million people along religious lines, creating overwhelming calamity in the newly-constituted dominions.
  • Partition triggered riots, mass casualties, and a colossal wave of migration.
  • It is often described as one of the largest refugee crises in history.

Johar Greetings: The 15th President of India, Droupadi Murmu, assumed office with a ‘Johar’ greeting to the country.

About Johar:

  • ‘Johar’essentially means salutation and welcome.
  • It is used within the tribal communities of Jharkhand, and in parts of Chhattisgarh and Odisha.
  • According to several tribal leaders from Jharkhand, the word ‘Johar’ also means ‘paying respect’.
  • Tribal communities are nature worshippers and follow Sarna religion code, although it is not an official religion.
  • There are 32 tribal communities in Jharkhand who speak different dialects.
  • Almost all, including tribal Christians, use the word ‘Johar’ along with some other words for salutation.
  • Johar, is predominantly used by Santhali, Munda and Ho communities that share some similarities.
  • People belonging to the Oraon community use the word ‘Jai Dharam’, apart from Johar, as a salutation.

Har Ghar Tiranga: The Government has declared that spending on ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ campaign is a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activity under Companies Act.

Key Points:

  • The Minstry of Corporate Afffairs (MCA) has stated that that companies can spend their CSR funds for activities related to the Har Ghar Tiranga campaign.
  • MCA has clarified that `Har Ghar Tiranga’ campaign under the aegis of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, is aimed to invoke the feeling of patriotism in the hearts of the people and to promote awareness about the Indian National Flag.
  • The Government is organising the “Har Ghar Tiranga Campaign” as a part of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav.
  • The campaign is intended to encourage people to hoist national flag at their home to celebrate the 75th years of India’s independence.
  • Under the Companies Act, 2013, certain class of profitable companies are required to shell out at least 2% of their three-year annual average net profit towards CSR activities.
  • Accordingly, MCA has issued General Circular No. 08/2022 dated 26th July 2022.
  • The circular states that spending of CSR funds for the activities related to this campaign, such as mass scale production and supply of the National Flag, outreach and amplification efforts and other related activities, are eligible CSR activities under item no. (ii) of Schedule VII of the Companies Act, 2013 pertaining to promotion of education relating to culture.
  • It has been stated that the companies may undertake the aforesaid activities, subject to fulfillment of the Companies (CSR Policy) Rules, 2014 and related circulars/clarifications issued by the Ministry thereof, from time to time.

Objective of Har Ghar Tiranga Initiative:

  • The main objective of this initiative is to invoke the feeling of patriotism in heats of people.
  • The campaign also seeks to raise awareness on the Indian National Flag.

 

National Film Awards 2022: The winners of the 68th National Film Awards were announced at the National Media Centre in New Delhi.

Key Highlights:

  • The winners were announced by Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Anurag Thakur on 22 July 2022.
  • The event was organised by the Directorate of Film Festivals, which comes under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
  • This year’s awards ceremony honoured films from 2020 as well due to COVID-19-related delays.
  • Soorarai Pottru (Tamil) won three of the four biggest awards of the night, while Tanhaji The Unsung Warrior also took home major trophies.
  • Actress Aparna Balamurali bagged the best actress award.

Full list of winners:

  • Best Feature Film: Soorarai Pottru
  • Best Director: Sachidanandan KR, Ayyappanum Koshiyum
  • Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment: Tanhaji
  • Best Actor: Suriya for Soorarai Pottru and Ajay Devgn for Tanhaji
  • Best Actress: Aparna Balamurali, Soorarai Pottru
  • Best Supporting Actor: Biju Menon, Ayyappanum Koshiyam
  • Best Supporting Actress: Lakshmi Priya Chandramouli, Sivaranjaniyum Innam Sila Pengallum
  • Best Action Direction Award: AK Ayyappanum Koshiyum
  • Best Choreography: Natyam (Telugu)
  • Best Lyrics: Manoj Muntashir for Saina (Hindi)
  • Best Male Playback Singer: Rahul Deshpande for Mi Vasantrao and Anish Mangesh Gosavi for Taktak
  • Best Female Playback Singer: Nanchamma, Ayyappanum Koshiyam
  • Best Music Direction: Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo, S Thaman
  • Best film on Social Issues: ‘Justice Delayed but Delivered & Three Sisters
  • Best Choreography: Natyam
  • Best Cinematography: Avijatrik
  • Best Audiography: Dollu, Mi Vasantrao, and Malik
  • Best Costume Design: Tanhaji
  • Best Production Design: Kappela
  • Best Editing: Sivaranjiniyum Innum Sila Pengalum
  • Best Make-up: Natyam
  • Best Screenplay: Soorarai Pottru, Sudha Kongara, and Mandela, Madonne Ashwin
  • Best Stunt Choreography: Ayyappanum Koshiyum

Special Jury Award:

  • Best Feature Film in Hindi: Toolsidas Junior
  • Best Feature Film in Kannada: Dollu
  • Best Feature Film in Malayalam: Thinkalazhcha Nishchayam
  • Best Feature Film in Tamil: Sivaranjiniyum Innum Sila Pengalum
  • Best Feature Film in Telugu: Colour Photo
  • Best Feature Film in Haryanvi: Dada Lakhmi
  • Best Feature Film in Dimasa: Samkhor
  • Best Feature Film in Tulu: Jeetige

Feature Film Awards:

  • Best Hindi Film: Toolsidas Junior
  • Best Malayalam Film: Thinkalazcha Nishchayam
  • Best Telugu Film: Colour Photo
  • Best Bengali Film: Avijatrik
  • Best Assamese Film: Bridge
  • Best Tulu Film: Jeetige
  • Best Tamil Film: Sivaranjaniyum Innum Sila Pengallum
  • Best Marathi Film: Gostha Eka Paithanichi
  • Best Kannada Film: Dollu
  • Best Dimasa Film: Semkhor
  • Best Haryanvi Film: Dada Lakhmi

Non-Feature Films:

  • Best Film on Family Values: Kumkumarchan, Abhijeet Arvind Dalvi
  • Best Direction: Oh That’s Bhanu, RV Ramani
  • Best Music Direction: 1232 kms – Marenge Toh Wahin Jaakar, Vishal Bhardwaj
  • Best Cinematography: Sabdikunna Kalappa, Nikhil S Praveen
  • Best Audiography: Pearl of the Desert, Ajit Singh Rathore
  • Best Editing: Borderlands, Anadi Athaley
  • Best Narration Voiceover: Rhapsody of Rains – Monsoons of Kerala, Shobha Tharoor Srinivasan
  • Best On-Location Sound: Jadui Jangal, Sandeep Bhati, and Pradeep Lekhwar
  • Best Film on Environment Conservation/Preservation
  • Best Book on Cinema: The Longest Kiss by Kishwar Desai
  • Best Book on Cinema (Special Mention): MT Anunahvangalude Pusthakam, Anoop Ramakrishnan, and Kali Paine Kalira Cinema by Surya Deo
  • Best Film Critic: No winner this year.
  • Most Film Friendly State: Madhya Pradesh

Other Awards:

  • Madhya Pradesh (Rajat Kamal & Certificate) wins the Most Film Friendly State award while Uttarakhand (Certificate) and Uttar Pradesh (Certificate) get Special Mention.
  • ‘The Longest Kiss’ by Kishwar Desai wins Best Book on Cinema for the year while Malayalam book ‘MT Anunahvangalude Pusthakam’ and Odia book ‘Kali Paine Kalira Cinema’ win special mention.

About the National Film Awards:

  • The National Film Awards is the most prominent film award ceremony in India.
  • It was established in 1954.
  • The ceremony has been administered by the Indian Directorate of Film Festivals, along with the International Film Festival of India and the Indian Panorama, by the Indian government's Directorate of Film Festivals since 1973.
  • The Government of India (GoI) conceived the ceremony to honour films made across India, on a national scale, to encourage the furthering of Indian art and culture.
  • The National films Awards are awarded for excellence in cinematic achievements for Indian cinema.
  • The National Film Awards are presented in three main categories:
  1. Feature Films
  2. Non-Feature Films
  3. Best Writing on Cinema
  • Six categories from Feature Films section, two from Non-Feature Films and Best Writing on Cinema sections each have been made eligible for Swarna Kamal (Golden Lotus Award) and rest of the categories for Rajat Kamal (Silver Lotus Award).
  • In addition, a lifetime achievement award, named after the father of Indian cinema Dadasaheb Phalke, is awarded to a film personality for the outstanding contribution to the growth and development of Indian Cinema.
  • All the award winners are awarded with a Medallion, cash prize and a certificate of merit.
  • The juries are appointed by the Directorate of Film Festivals in India.
  • Every year, a national panel appointed by the government selects the winning entry, and the award ceremony is held in New Delhi, where the President of India presents the awards.
  • This prestigious National cinema awards hold the distinction of awarding merit to the best of Indian cinema overall, as well as presenting awards for the best films in each region and language of the country.

 

Eid al-Adha 2022: Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted the nation on occasion of Eid-ul-Adha.

He said that this festival inspires to work towards furthering the spirit of collective well-being and prosperity for the good of humankind.

Eid-ul-Adha 2022:

  • Eid al-Adha also known as Bakrid was celebrated on July 10, 2022 as the first day of Eid al Adha in India.
  • India usually celebrates both the festivals of Eid-ul-Fitra and Eid-ul-Adha a day after Saudi Arabia.
  • After confirming the sighting of the crescent Dhul Hijjah moon on June 30, 2022, Saudi Arabia has announced celebration of Eid al Adha in the Kingdom on Saturday July 09, 2022, which is also when UAE, Qatar, Jordan, Kuwait and other Arab states will be marking it.

Note: In India, Eid al-Adha is a considered a gazetted holiday.

About Eid-ul-Adha:

  • Eid al-Adha is an annual festival celebrated by the Muslim community globally.
  • It is the second and the bigger of the two main holidays celebrated in Islam.
  • It honors the willingness of Ibrahim to sacrifice his son Ismail as an act of obedience to Allah's command.
  • This day is marked to commemorate Prophet Ibrahim's sacrifice and dedication.
  • According to the Islamic lunar calender,this festival is usually celebrated on the 10th day of Dhu-al Hijjah.
  • In the international (Gregorian) calendar, the dates vary from year to year, shifting approximately 11 days earlier each year.

Celebrations:

  • The Muslim community celebrates the festival through offering special prayers.
  • The community exchanges gifts and greetings.
  • The festival is celebrated by wearing new dresses and submitting special prayers.
  • Goats may be offered to the God.
  • The meat is shared among family friends and relatives.

History:

  • The history of the day started when Abraham or Prophet Ibrahim kept having a recurring dream of slaughtering his beloved son, Ismael, to fulfil the wishes of God.
  • Ibrahim spoke to his son regarding this dream, explaining to him how God wanted him to make the sacrifice and Ismael, who was just as much a man of God, agreed with his father and asked him to comply with the wishes of Allah.
  • Shaitan (the devil) tempted Ibrahim and tried to dissuade him from making the sacrifice but he tried to shun it away by pelting it with stones.
  • Allah saw Ibrahim’s absolute devotion and sent Jibreel (Angel Gabriel), the Archangel, bearing a sheep for slaughter.
  • Allah provided a sheep to Ibrahim to sacrifice it as a substitute of his son.

 

The festival is celebrated across the world with different names.

  • In Urdu and Hindi languages, Eid al-Adha is called Bakr-Eid.
  • In Uzbekistan, Eid al-Adha is celebrated as Qurbon Hayiti.
  • In Bangladesh, it is called Idul Azha.
  • In Bengali, it is called Kurbanir Id.
  • In Egypt, Eid al-Adha is celebrated as Id ul Baqarah.

LIFF 2022: Filmmakers Aparna Sen and Nandita Das have been awarded the Icon Award at this year’s London Indian Film Festival (LIFF).

Key Highlights:

  • They have been honoured for their contribution to Indian and global cinema.
  • Running over two weeks and across four cities of London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds, the London Indian Film Festival (LIFF) concluded with a series of screenings, in conversation sessions, cinema discussions and an awards ceremony.

Other winners:

  • Director Pan Nalin’s poignant ode to cinema Chhello Show (Last Film Show) was the winner of this year’s audience-voted Best Film Award.
  • In the annual Satayjit Ray short film category Jaagran, co-directed by Ritviq Joshi and Hardik Sadhwani, won the LIFF Jury Prize.
  • The awards also included an Outstanding Achievement Award for Taapsee Pannu for her hard-hitting roles, including in the new Anurag Kashyap film Dobaaraa which opened the festival.

Dhammacakka Day 2022: Indian President Ram Nath Kovind virtually addressed the Dhammacakka Day 2022 celebrations at Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh on July 13, 2022.

Key Highlights:

  • The Dhammacakka Day 2022 (The Turning of the Wheel of Dharma), was organised on “Ashadha Purnima”, by Ministry of Culture, in coordination with “International Buddhist Confederation” as a part of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav.
  • In his speech, President Kovind discussed Buddhism.
  • He asserts that Buddhism has grown to be one of India's most important spiritual traditions.

About Dhammacakka Day:

  • Dhammacakka Day 2022 (Ashadha Purnima) is the second most important sacred day of observance for Buddhists after Vaishakha Buddha Purnima.
  • The day commemorates Buddha’s First Sermon or the First Turning of the Wheel of Dhamma.
  • On this day, he taught the Dhammacakka-pavattana Sutta (Pali) or Dharmacakra pravartana Sutra (Sanskrit).
  • This event is known as Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta or ‘Turning the Wheel of Dhamma’.
  • Seven weeks after his Enlightenment, he gave this discourse to pañcavargiya - the first five ascetic disciples- at the ‘Deer Park', Rsipatana Mrigadaya in the current day Sarnath, which is in Varanasi.
  • It is here that the Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Paths and the Middle Path: avoiding the two extremes, i.e., life of extreme indulgence and the life of extreme penance.
  • The Sutta is also referred to as three concepts of Buddhism viz., Middle Way, dependent origination and impermanence.

Important Buddhist Holy Sites in India:

Several holy sites connected with the life and teachings of Buddha are located in India. There Four main holy places are:

  1. Bodh Gaya - Lord Buddha attained enlightenment
  2. Sarnath - Buddha gave his first sermon
  3. Shravasti - He spent most of Chaturmases here and offered most of the sermons.
  4. Kushinagar - He attained the Mahaparinirvana.

About International Buddhist Confederation (IBC):

  • The International Buddhist Confederation (IBC) was established in 2013.
  • It is an international Buddhist umbrella body, which was created to act as a common platform for Buddhists across the world.
  • It is headquartered in New Delhi. It represents the diversity in Buddhism.
  • Through this platform, global Buddhist community share their wisdom and participate in ongoing social and political discourse.
  • It also preserves and promotes the shared heritage.

About National Emblem of India:

  • The National Emblem of India is an adaptation from the Sarnath Lion Capital of Ashoka which is located at Sarnath near Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.
  • Two-dimensional picture of Sarnath Pillar is the Official symbol of Government of India (GoI).
  • In the National Emblem there is only three of Four Lions, symbolizing Power, Courage and Confidence.
  • Base of the State Emblem have Dharma Chakra in the centre and bull and a horse on either side of it.
  • Satyameva Jayate is written on it in Devanagari script which itself traces its origin to the Mudraka Upanishad

Key Features of the Ashoka Pillar:

  • The Ashoka Pillar of Sarnath is carved out of a single block of polished sandstone, the Capital is crowned by the Wheel of the Law (Dharma Chakra).
  • There are four lions, standing back to back, mounted on an abacus with a frieze carrying sculptures in high relief of an elephant, a galloping horse, a bull and a lion separated by intervening wheels over a bell-shaped lotus.

Guru Purnima: India celebrated Guru Purnima on July 13, 2022.

About Guru Purnima:

  • According to the Hindu calendar, Guru Purnima generally falls on a full-moon day in the Hindu month of Ashadh.
  • Guru Purnima is also the day that marks the birth anniversary of Maharishi Ved Vyasa, the sage who is believed to have edited the sacred Hindu text, the Vedas and created the 18 Puranas, Mahabharata and the Srimad Bhagavatam.
  • Guru Purnima is dedicated to all academic and spiritual gurus or teachers.
  • It is also believed to mark the onset of monsoons.

History and significance:

  • The festival is marked by Buddhists, Hindus and Jains in India, Nepal and Bhutan every year on the full moon day in the Hindu month of Ashadha of the Hindu calendar or the Ashadha Purnima Tithi.
  • Guru Purnima has been celebrated by Buddhists to commemorate Gautam Buddha’s first sermon to his first five disciples in Uttar Pradesh’s Sarnath however, Hindus and Jains also celebrate this festival to revere their teachers.
  • This day marks the birth anniversary of Maharishi Ved Vyasa, the author of the great Indian epic, Mahabharata. This day is also known as Vyasa Purnima.

 

Alluri Sitarama Raju: Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently unveiled a 30-ft bronze statue of freedom fighter Alluri Sitarama Raju.

Key Facts:

  • The 15-tonne statue statue carved out at the cost of Rs 3 crore was unveiled to mark the 125th birth anniversary of Alluri Sitarama Raju.
  • It has been installed by Kshatriya Seva Samiti in Municipal Park at ASR Nagar in Bhimavaram.
  • It was installed as part of the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations.
  • Modi, along with Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, kick-started the year-long 125th birth anniversary celebrations of Manyam Veerudu Alluri Sitarama Raju.
  • Addressing a meeting at Chinna Amaram village in Kalla Mandal, Mr. Modi recalled the services of Alluri and other tribal leaders who sacrificed their lives in the freedom struggle.
  • He said that an Alluri Dhyana Mandir would be constructed at Mogallu, the birthplace of freedom fighter Alluri Sitarama Raju, in West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh.
  • One district in Andhra Pradesh was named after Alluri Sitarama Raju, ASR District, during the reorganisation of districts.

Who was Alluri Sitarama Raju?

  • Alluri Sitarama Raju also referred to by his surname Alluri was popularly known as ‘Manyam Veerdu’ (Hero of the Forest).
  • He was born at Pandrangi village of then Visakhapatnam district, on July 4, 1897.
  • He had been greatly inspired by regular patriotic talk during the struggle for liberation.
  • His schooling got disrupted after the death of his father.
  • He went on a pilgrimage and toured the western, north, north-western, and north-eastern India during his teens.
  • The socio-economic conditions of India under the British regime, especially in the tribal areas, moved him deeply.

About the Rampa Rebellion:

  • He encountered rebels in Chittagong during his trip of almost all of India (now in Bangladesh).
  • Following this, he decided to build a movement against the British.
  • He organised local Adivasis in forest areas of East Godavari districts and Visakhapattnam into a potent force, for launching a frontal attack.
  • Thus, ‘Rampa Rebellion’ or ‘Manyam Uprising’ born, in the Rampachodavaram forest area of East Godavari district.
  • This group was armed with spears, bows, and other traditional Adivasi weapons.
  • He later realised that the well-armed British forces could not be defeated with conventional weapons so he planned to snatch weapons of the British.
  • In 1924, he got trapped and was captured by the British at Koyyuru village in Chintapalle forests.
  • He was tied to a tree and executed by a firing squad.
  • His resting place lies in Krishnadevipeta village.

Kanaganahalli Buddhist Site: The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) have recently launched a conservation plan for “Kanaganahalli Buddhist Site”.

Key Highlights:

  • The remains of a Maha-Stupa, which is unique in several aspects, were brought to light through excavations at Kanaganahalli (forming part of Sannati) by the ASI during the years 1994-2001.
  • However, it was left neglected for around 20 years.
  • This is an ancient Buddhist site, situated on the bank of River Bhima River near Kanaganahalli in Kalaburagi district in Karnataka.
  • The Kanagamahalli Buddhist Stupa was constructed using locally available limestone.
  • Most of the drum slabs, dome slabs, inscribed sculptures, and other structural remains were recovered in a broken state.

About the construction plan:

  • Work has started on Rs 3.5 crore conservation project.
  • The goal of the conservation project is to return the Maha Stupa's remnants to their original locations.
  • Under the conservation plan, fallen part of Ayaka platforms will also be reconstructed.
  • In construction, newly-fabricated bricks of same size, texture and shape will be used.
  • Under the plan, core filling from the drum portion will be removed and then stone blocks will be reset to their original position.
  • After consolidating the entire stupa, railings and other peripheral works will be done.
  • Reconstruction project will run for 2-3 years.

How was this site discovered?

  • Sannati and Kanaganahalli were ordinary and small villages resting indolently on the backwaters of Karnataka in Kalaburagi district, were relatively unknown to the rest of India, leave alone the world.
  • However, the discovery of a nearly 2000-year-old Buddhist Stupa and the first inscribed portrait of Emperor Ashoka, among others in a wave of archaeological excavations that began in 1986, put an end to their anonymity.
  • In 1986, Kali temple situated in Chandralamba temple complex in Sannati got collapsed.
  • While clearing the debris, Ashokan edicts were discovered from the complex.
  • It opened new scopes of historical research on Buddhism and Ashoka. It thus attracted the ASI and other researchers to do excavation

About the Maha Stupa:

  • During excavation, an abandoned well was discovered. Which turned out to be “Maha Stupa”.
  • The Maha Stupa is referred asAdholoka Maha Chaitya (The great stupa of the netherlands) in the Ashoka’s inscriptions.
  • It is a well-developed stupa constructed in locally available limestone with elaborate ornamentation, ayaka platforms in the cardinal directions.
  • The vedika (drum) anda (dome) portions were built of heavy, dressed, wedge shaped blocks of limestone and the inner core was filled by alternate layers of rubble and earth.
  • The stupa measures nearly 22m in diameter (at the railing) and rose to a height of 17m. 
  • The Stupa has shown at least three constructional phases- via, Maurya, Early Satavahana and Later Satavahana periods, datable from 3rd century BC to 3rd century AD.
  • In addition to the structural remains, as many as 60 dome-slabs with exuberant sculptural rendering of selected Jataka stories, main events in the life of the Master, portraits of Asoka - the Mauryan emperor and more than Satavahana monarchs and certain unique depictions of Buddhist 72 drum-slabs decorated with variety of dharma-chakras, Stupas, the first sermon, Bodhi tree, Naga Muchulinda, vihara complexes including Jetavana are discovered.
  • These structures appear to have been destroyed due to severe earthquake.

Mangarh: National Monuments Authority(NMA) Chairman Shri Tarun Vijay recently submitted a report to the Minister of Culture on declaring Mangarh hillock in Rajasthan as a monument of National Importance as tribute to 1500 Bhil tribal freedom fighters.

Key Highlights:

The report was submitted by him and his team to the Minister of State for Culture Shri Arjun Ram Meghwal at Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (IGNCA), New Delhi.

This report carries relevant details about the Mangarh hillock and recommendations by National Monuments Authority.

Mangarh Hillock:

  • Mangarh Hillock is a hillock in the Aravalli range located in Banswara District, Rajasthan.
  • It is situated near the Rajasthan-Gujarat border.
  • It is a site of a tribal uprising where a massacre of over 1500 Bhil tribal freedom fighters took place in 1913.
  • Hence, this place is also known as the Adivasi Jallianwala.

History:

On 17 November 1913, a gathering of local Bhils numbering about 1500 were brutally killed by the British army when they refused to disperse.

  • The Bhils present were supporters of social reformer Govind Guru who was influenced by social reformers like Dayanand Saraswati.
  • Govind Guru had led the “Bhagat movement” in the late 19th century among Bhil tribes in an effort to ’emancipate’ them by prescribing, among other things, adherence to vegetarianism and abstinence from all kinds of intoxicants.
  • The Bhils rose in rebellion against the oppressive policies of the British.
  • They began opposing taxes imposed by the British and forced labour imposed by the princely states of Banswara, Santrampur, Dungarpur and Kushalgarh.
  • The British and princely kingdoms, worried by the tribal revolt made the decision to crush the uprising.
  • Govind guru was captured and exiled from the area.
  • He was imprisoned in Hyderabad jail and released in 1919 on grounds of good behaviour.
  • But as he was exiled from his homeland, he settled in Gujarat where he died in 1931.

Sao Joao festival 2022: The people of Goa recently celebrated the Sao Joao festival.

Key Highlights:

  • A large number of people participated in the boat parade in Siolim village of Goa’s Bardez taluka, marking the beginning of revelry in the ‘Sao Joao’ festival.
  • Traditionally, people jump into the well but since the wells are fast disappearing, people prefer to celebrate it in swimming pools.

About the festival:

  • Sao Joao festival is the feast of St John the Baptist with traditional enthusiasm after a two-year coronavirus-induced gap.
  • The festival is dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, who baptised Lord Jesus on the river of Jordan and is celebrated at the onset of monsoon.
  • Siolim, a village in North Goa, hosts a traditional canoe parade on the occasion of Sao Joao.
  • The festival is marked to herald the monsoon season in the state every year in June.
  • People are often seen having a great time by enjoying and dancing in the artificial rain which adds charm to the celebrations.

Arts Current Affairs - July 2022

Jyotirgamaya Festival: Union Culture Minister G. Kishan Reddy recently launched a festival celebrating the brilliance of underappreciated performers named “Jyotirgamaya“.

Key Highlights:

  • This festival was organized by Sangeet Natak Akademi as part of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav.
  • It was organized on the occasion of World Music Day to highlight the talent of rare musical instruments from all across the country, including street performers and train entertainers.
  • At the event, Cultural Minister Reddy said that music is a universal language and that Indian music is extremely diverse, much like its culture.
  • He asserted that music is a fundamental part of Indian culture.
  • This event will further the preservation of folk music and its instruments, which should be given top attention.
  • The festival aims to boost awareness among attendees of the need of preserving both the production and playing of rare musical instruments.
  • Sangeet Natak Akademi has made efforts to save India’s vanishing performing arts is unique.

Key Points about the festival Festival:

  • A hunt for ‘unheard’ talents was organised for the festival through a call to action.
  • Entrants were requested to send a small clip of their performance along with their details.
  • Prominent institutions of music, cultural centres, SNA awardees and eminent musicians were also requested to locate and identify such rare talent.
  • After reviewing all the entries and considering the recommendations sent, a total of 75 performances were selected for the 5-day festival from 21-25 June 2022.
  • A 5-day workshop on the making of rare musical instruments is being conducted which will prove to be both educational as well as interactive. Artistes from all corners of the country will participate in this festival.
  • The Akademi has a gallery of musical instruments, masks and puppets in Rabindra Bhavan, New Delhi.
  • A live exhibition displaying the making of musical instruments by craftsmen will be open for each day of the festival.
  • Entry is free for all.

About Sangeet Natak Akademi:

  • Sangeet Natak Akademi (The National Academy of Music, Dance and Drama) is the national level academy for performing arts set up by the Government of India (GoI).
  • It is an autonomous body of the Ministry of Culture, GoI.
  • It was set up in 1953 for the preservation and promotion of the vast intangible heritage of India’s diverse culture expressed in forms of music, dance and drama.
  • The management of the Akademi vests in its General Council.
  • The Chairman of the Akademi is appointed by the President of India for a term of five years.
  • The functions of the Akademi are set down in the Akademi’s Memorandum of Association, adopted at its registration as a society on 11 September 1961.
  • It is headquartered in New Delhi.

Post-Mauryan Site in Barpali: Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has sought the intervention of the centre in regard to the excavation and preservation of a recently discovered post-Mauryan site in Barpali in Odisha.

  • Mr. Pradhan has requested his personal assistance in a letter to the Union Minister for Culture and Tourism G. Kishan Reddy to transfer the excavation effort to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

About the site:

  • The 2000 year old post-Mauryan site was discovered recently by the history department of the Sambalpur-based Gangadhar Meher University.
  • This site is spread over 17 hectares of land.
  • It has yielded numerous priceless artifacts and antiquities.
  • The findings indicate that the site was a well-established early trade centre and further digging could reveal even more startling revelations.
  • Such a grand archaeological finding is both rare and extremely vulnerable.

Hence, the Union Minister, considering the immense historical value and undiscovered potential of this newfound archaeological site has urged the union culture ministry to direct the ASI to take over the excavation work of the site for better exploration.

About ASI:

  • The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is an Indian government agency attached to the Ministry of Culture.
  • It is responsible for archaeological research and the conservation and preservation of cultural monuments in the country.
  • ASI was founded in 1861 by Alexander Cunningham- the first Director-General of ASI. Alexander Cunningham is also known as the “Father of Indian Archaeology”.
  • It administers more than 3650 ancient monuments, archaeological sites and remains of national importance.
  • Its activities include carrying out surveys of antiquarian remains, exploration and excavation of archaeological sites, conservation and maintenance of protected monuments, etc.

Unmesh: A three-day international literary festival called “Unmesh” began on June 16, 2022, at Gaiety Theatre in Shimla.

Key Highlights:

  • It was officially started, by the Union Minister of State for Culture, Arjun Ram Mehjawal.
  • Unmesh Festival will be attended by approximately 425 poets, writers, translators, critics, and notable figures from 15 nations, representing over 60 languages.
  • Over 1,000 books relevant to the civil rights movement will be on display during this three-day festival.
  • Geetanjali Shree, the Booker Prize-winning author, will speak about women’s writing in Indian languages.

About Unmesh festival:

  • Unmesh festival is being organized by the Union Ministry of Culture and Sahitya Akademi, in association with the Department of Art and Culture of Himachal Pradesh government. It is being organized as a part of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav.
  • According to Meghwal, this event is being held for the first time,  and similar functions will be performed in different parts of the country.
  • Unmesh, a celebration of expression, is the country’s largest international literary festival to date.

About Gaiety Theatre:

  • Gaiety Theatre or Gaiety Heritage Cultural Complex is a significant tourist hot spot in Shimla.
  • It was opened on May 30, 1887.
  • English architect Henry Irwin designed the historic cultural centre.
  • This theatre is nicknamed Mecca of Theatre.
  • The theatre is the hub of cultural events in the state.
  • It is located on The Ridge.

 

Kapilvastu Relics: In a special gesture towards the people of Mongolia, four Holy Relics of Lord Buddha are being taken from India to Mongolia.

Key Highlights:

  • The holy relics are being taken for an 11-day exposition as part of celebrations of Mongolian Buddha Purnima falling on the 14th of this month.
  • They will be displayed at the Batsagaan Temple within the premises of Gandan Monastery.
  • The relics will be received in Mongolia by the Culture Minister of Mongolia, Advisor to the President of Mongolia and a large number of monks among other dignitaries.
  • The Lord Buddha relics available in Mongolia would also be displayed along with the relics from India.

About the Holy relics:

  • The Holy Buddha relics are currently housed in the National Museum.
  • The holy relics are are known as the ‘Kapilvastu Relics’ since they are from a site in Bihar first discovered in 1898 which is believed to be the ancient city of Kapilvastu.

Significance:

  • It is another historic milestone in India-Mongolia relations and will further boost cultural and spiritual relations between the two countries.
  • Taking the relics to Mongolia is an extension of the vision of the Prime Minister to revive the relations with the countries with whom India has had cultural and spiritual ties for centuries.

Note: Modi was the first-ever Prime Minister of India to visit Mongolia in 2015.

About Kapilavastu:

  • Kapilavastu was an ancient city on the Indian subcontinent.
  • It was the capital of the clan of the Shakyas.
  • The city is thought to have been named in honor of the Vedic sage Kapila.
  • King Śuddhodana and Queen Māyā are believed to have lived at Kapilavastu, as did their son Prince Siddartha Gautama (Gautama Buddha) until he left the palace at the age of 29.

Sant Tukaram Shila Mandir: Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently inaugurated the Sant Tukaram Shila Mandir in the temple town of Dehu in Pune district.

Key Highlights:

  • The temple is dedicated to the 17th-century saint Tukaram.
  • It has been rebuilt in stone masonry with 36 peaks.
  • It also carries an idol of Sant Tukaram.

About Sant Tukaram:

  • Sant Tukaram was a 17th-century Marathi poet, Hindu sant (saint), popularly known as Tuka, Tukobaraya, Tukoba in Maharashtra.
  • He was a Poet and saint of warkari  sampradaya (Marathi-Vaishnav tradition) that venerates the god Vithoba, an avatar of Hindu deity Vishnu.
  • His guru was bhakti movement Saint Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
  • He lived in Dehu.
  • He is famously known for Abhanga devotional poetry and community-oriented worship through spiritual songs known as Kirtans.
  • Tukaram pointed out the evil of wrongdoings of society, social system and Maharajs by his kiratans and abhangs.
  • His message about a casteless society and his denial of rituals had led to a social movement.
  • A Shila Mandir was built after his demise, but it was not formally structured as a Temple.
  • Shila refers to a rock that is currently on the Dehu Sansthan temple premises.
  • The Bhakti saint had sat on this piece of rock for 13 continuous days when challenged about the authenticity of the Abhyangs he had written.
  • For centuries the shila has been the starting point of Wari, the annual pilgrimage to Pandharpur.
  • Prior to this, the saint had immersed his entire work in the Indrayani river.
  • The work miraculously reappeared after 13 days, proving their authenticity.
  • Sant Tukaram and his work are central to the Warkari sect spread across Maharashtra.

 Baikho Festival of Assam: The Baikho festival is celebrated in the state of Assam by Rabha tribes of India.

Key Highlights:

  • Locals in Gamerimura village gathered on June 4 to celebrate the festival.
  • Vibrant and holy hues of rituals, fun, customs, and frolic was witnessed on this day.

About Baikho Festival:

  • The Baikho festival is celebrated every year.
  • It is an ancient tradition.
  • It is predominantly observed by Rabha Tribe.
  • However, people from other communities also harmonise in the celebrations.
  • It is celebrated to bring in auspicious harvest season and to fill it with abundant crops and good health.
  • This is a celebration of good harvest.

How is this festival celebrated?

  • During this festival, various rituals are carried out for warding off evil spirits, for bringing good will to community and sparking ample rains.
  • In the afternoon, people dress in traditional attire and dance to the drum beats.
  • In the evening, they set alight a tall structure made from bundles of bamboo.
  • After the sun sets, priests offer prayers to the God of harvest.
  • After the prayers priests run over hot coals, which are left simmering by the fire.
  • This act is meant to honour the harvest deity.
  • Later, women wash the feet of priests and serve them food.
  • In another unique customs, Rabha Tribes smear their faces with rice flour and pour rice beer for others.

About Rabhas Tribes:

  • Rabhas are a Tibeto-Burman community.
  • They reside in Lower Assam in Garo hills and Dooar region of West Bengal.
  • They are among the plains tribe in the state.
  • They are an agriculture-based community.
  • They have distinctive cultures and celebrations.

About Assam:

  • Assam is called as the gateway to northeast India.
  • It is a state in northeastern India known for its wildlife, archeological sites and tea plantations.
  • It is the state of natural beauty and scenic scapes.
  • It is situated south of the eastern Himalayas along the Brahmaputra and Barak River valleys.
  • It is encircled by verdant hills.
  • Assam is known for Assam tea and Assam silk.
  • The state was the first site for oil drilling in Asia.
  • It is having diverse flora and fauna.
  • It is also known as the land of Red River and Blue Hills.
  • It is a nucleus, which inhibits the beautiful biodiversity of India.
  • Its capital is Dispur.
  • The current Governor and the Chief Minister of Assam are Professor Jagdish Mukhi and Himanta Biswas Sarma respectively.

Locarno Film Festival: Filmmaker Gitanjali Rao is set to be honoured with an award during the 75th edition of the Locarno Film Festival.

Key Highlights:

  • The 2022 Locarno Film Festival will run from August 3 to 13, 2022.
  • The 50-year-old filmmaker will receive the Locarno Kids Award la Mobiliare, the award dedicated to personalities capable of conveying the love of cinema to younger viewers, during the film gala, which is held every year in Locarno, Switzerland.
  • Rao will be presented with the award during a ceremony on August 8 at Locarno’s Piazza Grande, followed by the screening of her animated short film "Printed Rainbow", the organisers said in a statement posted on the festival's official website.
  • Her "Printed Rainbow" had famously won three awards at Cannes Film Festival in 2006 and her debut feature “Bombay Rose” (2019) was the first Indian animated film ever selected to open Venice Critics Week.
  • Her 2021 short film "Tomorrow My Love" had served as the opening film for the 74th edition of the Locarno Film Festival.

2022 MTV Movie & TV Awards: Singer and actress Jennifer Lopez was honored with the Generation Award, which "celebrates beloved actors whose diverse contributions to both film and television have turned them into household names.

Key Highlights:

  • The 52-year-old star accepted the MTV Generation Award onstage during the 2022 MTV Movie & TV Awards at Barker Hangar on June 05, 2022 in Santa Monica, California.
  • She also took home the best song award for the track “On My Way (Marry Me)," featured in "Marry Me."
  • Previous winners to receive this prestigious award are Sandra Bullock, Will Smith, Johnny Depp, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Cruise, Chris Pratt, The Rock, Robert Downey Jr. and Reese Witherspoon.

About Lopez:

  • Jennifer Lopez is an American and Latin actress, dancer, and singer. She was born in New York City on June 24, 1969.
  • She started her career in the early 1990s.
  • She got her first break on the sketch-comedy show "In Living Color," appearing as one of the Fly Girls.
  • In 1997, she starred in "Selena," portraying the late Selena Quintanilla Pérez.
  • J Lo went on to cement herself as a movie star, appearing in movies including "Anaconda" and "Out of Sight."
  • She starred in classic rom-coms like "The Wedding Planner," "Maid in Manhattan," and "Shall We Dance?"
  • In the 2000s, Lopez appeared in two movies with Affleck, "Gigli" and "Jersey Girl."
  • Her other hits include "Monster-in-Law," "The Boy Next Door," and "Second Act."
  • In 2019, she starred in "Hustlers," which received considerable critical acclaim, and earlier this year, she released another rom-com, "Marry Me" with Owen Wilson.
  • Right now, she's gearing up for the release of her Netflix documentary, "Halftime." She'll also appear in "Shotgun Wedding" and "The Mother" later this year.
  • In the Super Bowl Championship 2020, Jennifer Lopez performed along with Shakira at halftime.
  • She had also performed in the opening ceremony of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
  • On June 14, Lopez is all set to release her latest Netflix documentary named “Halftime”. This documentary is all about her second-half career and how she evolved as an artist.
  • The series is also said to show all the milestones she has achieved.
  • She has received many awards such as the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, World Icon Award, Telemundo Star Award, etc.
  • Lopez is the first female recipient of the Billboard Icon Award.

Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav: The 11th edition of ‘Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav was inaugurated by The Governor of West Bengal, Shri Jagdeep Dhankhar on February 14, 2021.

Key Highlights:

  • The event was inaugurated at Cooch Behar Palace in West Bengal in the presence of Minister of State (I/C) for Culture and Tourism, Shri Prahlad Singh Patel.
  • The festival was held in between 14th to 28th February, 2021
  • The third and final leg of this 11th edition took place at Murshidabad, West Bengal.
  • Various colourful performances were given by the local artists, including ‘Baul Gaan’, ‘Alkup Gaan’, ‘Leto gaan’, ‘Jhumuriya’ and Ranpa folk dances.

Note:

  • Ten editions of the festival have successfully been organised ever since the festival was started in November, 2015.
  • These 10 editions were organized in Delhi, Bengaluru, Varanasi, Tawang, Karnataka, Gujarat, Tehri and Madhya Pradesh.

Significance:

  • The 11th edition is significant in the light of COVID Pandemic that has severely impacted the cultural sector.
  • Through this event support and assistance will be provided to the artists by the ministry of culture.

About Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav:

  1. It is a flagship festival of the Ministry of culture and tourism.
  2. The event is organized since 2015.
  3. It witnesses the active participation of Seven Zonal Culture Centres.
  4. These zonal centres play a key role in taking the vibrant culture of India to the masses rather than confining it to auditoria and galleries.
  5. This festival showcases the folk and tribal art, music, dance, cuisines and culture of one state in other states.
  6. Thus, it helps in reinforcing the goal of “Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat”.
  7. It also provided an effective platform for the artists and artisans to support their livelihood.
  8. It reconnects the people (especially the youth) with their indigenous culture, its multifaceted nature, magnificence, and historical importance in the context of ‘India as a Nation’ over the millennia.

About Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat:

  1. Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat is an initiative of the Ministry of Education.

 

  1. It was launched in 2015 on the occasion of the 140th birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
  2. This initiative aims to promote engagement amongst the people of different States/UTs so as to enhance mutual understanding and bonding between people of diverse cultures, thereby securing stronger unity and integrity of India.

The broad objectives of the initiative are as follows:

  • To celebrate the unity in diversity of our nation and to maintain and strengthen the fabric of traditionally existing emotional bonds between the people of our country;
  • To promote the spirit of national integration through a deep and structured engagement between all states and union territories through a year-long planned engagement between states;
  • To showcase the rich heritage and culture, customs and traditions of either state for enabling people to understand and appreciate the diversity that is India, thus fostering a sense of common identity;
  • To establish long term engagements;
  • To create an environment this promotes learning between states by sharing best practices and experiences.

Every State and UT in the country would be paired with another State/UT for a time period, during which they would carry out a structured engagement with one another in the spheres of language, literature, cuisine, festivals, cultural events, tourism etc

About Zonal Cultural Centres:

The centre aim to strengthen the ancient roots of Indian Culture and evolve and enrich composite National Culture.

There are seven Zonal Cultural Centres (ZCCs) in India.

They are as follows:

  1. Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre Kolkata,
  2. North Central Zone Cultural Centre Allahabad,
  3. North east Zone Cultural centre Dimapur,
  4. North Zone Cultural centre Patiala,
  5. South Central Zone Cultural Centre Nagpur,
  6. South Zone Cultural Centre Thanjavur,
  7. West Zone Cultural Centre Udaipur

These ZCCs organize various cultural activities and programmes all over the country on a regular basis.

Other schemes of ZCCs:

  1. Award to Young Talented Artists
  2. Guru Shishya Parampara
  3. Theatre Rejuvenation
  4. Shilpgram
  5. Octave
  6. National Cultural Exchange Programme (NCEP).

Ishan Manthan Festival: Union Minister for Culture, Tourism & DONER Shri G Kishan Reddy recently inaugurated the three-day North-East festival 'Ishan Manthan' at Indira Gandhi National Centre for the arts in New Delhi.

Key Points:

  • The three-day Ishan Manthan program which celebrated the rich ethnicity and colors of North East India was held from 25 March to 27, 2022.
  • The inaugural session also witnessed the publishing of two books titled 'Lok Beyond Folk,' a book on the Lok Culture edited by Shri J Nandalumar, and 'Jewels of North East India.'

Significance:

  • The event gives a chance to understand the culture, art, music, folk dances, handicrafts, and traditional cuisines of Northeast India.
  • Ishan Manthan is an endeavor to celebrate the plural expressions of northeast India. Hence, it can be understood as "North East Brainstorming."

Shambhaji Nagar: The Maharashtra cabinet, in a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on June 29, approved the renaming of Aurangabad city as Shambhaji Nagar, and Osmanabad city — which is named after the last ruler of Hyderabad, Mir Osman Ali Khan — as Dharashiv.

Key Points:

The decision to change the name was in accordance to the long-pending demand of Shiv Sena, which is a constituent of the three-party Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition government in the state.

The state cabinet has also given its nod to name the upcoming international airport in Navi Mumbai after D B Patil, which was a demand raised by the project-affected people (PAP).

Note: D B Patil is a late politician and social activist who is revered as a local hero by the residents of Uran, where the Navi Mumbai international airport is going to come up.

About Aurangabad:

  • Aurangabad is a city in Maharashtra state, in India.
  • The city is known as a major production center of cotton textile and artistic silk fabrics.
  • The city is also a popular tourism hub, with tourist destinations like the Ajanta and Ellora caves lying on its outskirts, both of which have been designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1983.
  • Other tourist attractions include the Aurangabad Caves, Daulatabad Fort, Grishneshwar Temple, Jama Mosque, Bibi Ka Maqbara, Himayat Bagh, Panchakki and Salim Ali Lake.

History of Aurangabad:

  • Formerly, Aurangabad was home to many noted dynasties including Satavahanas, Chalukyas, Rastrakutas and Yadavas.
  • Among the Hindu rulers, the Mauryans made significant contributions on the historical and religious background of the place.
  • It was during their reign that numerous Buddhist cave temples were built inside and outside of the area during their rule.
  • The world famous Ajanta and Ellora caves of the place are admired even today for their beautiful amalgam of Hindu, Jain and Buddhist architecture.

Muslim Rule:

  • Aurangabad was founded in 1610 by Malik Ambar, the Siddi general of the Nizamshahi dynasty of Ahmadnagar.
  • The city was named Khirki or Khadki at the time, and its name was changed to Fatehpur by Malik Ambar’s son Fateh Khan following Malik Ambar’s death in 1626.
  • In 1653, the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb invaded the Deccan and set up his capital in the city, which he renamed Aurangabad. The city has borne the association of its name with Aurangzeb ever since.
  • Chhattrapati Sambhaji Maharaj, the son and successor of Chhattrapati Shivaji Maharaj, was tortured and killed in brutal fashion on Aurangzeb’s orders in 1689.
  • However after the death of Aurangzeb in 1707, Nizams of Hyderabad took over the control of the city.
  • The legendary Nizams maintained and controlled the city until it was merged with Maharashtra in 1956.

Cardinals: Archbishop of Goa and Daman Filipe Neri Ferrão are among the 21 bishops chosen by Pope Francis to be made cardinals.

Key Points:

  • Archbishop Filipe Neri António Sebastião di Rosário Ferrão is the Archbishop of Goa and Damão and -Archbishop Anthony Poola is the Archbishop of Hyderabad.

Note: Poola is the first Dalit from India to get the title.

  • Apart from these two prelates, the others to receive the prestigious red hat will be one each from Mongolia, Ghana, Nigeria, Singapore, East Timor, Paraguay, and Brazil, in keeping with Francis' determination to have church leaders reflect the global face of the Catholic church.
  • In all, 8 of the newly named Cardinals are from Europe, six from Asia, two from Africa, one from North America, and four from Central and Latin America.
  • Pope Francis had announced that he will create 21 new Cardinals, including two from India at a Consistory on, 27 August, 2022 in the Vatican City.
  • He also said that he will meet from August 29 and 30 with all the cardinals to reflect on the new Apostolic Constitution Praedicate evangelium.

Who is a cardinal?

  • Cardinals rank second only to the Pope in the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church and serve as his closest advisors at home and around the world.
  • The term “cardinal” comes from the Latin word “cardinalis,” from the word “cardo,” or “hinge.”
  • They are considered “the hinges on which the Church revolves”.
  • These cardinals represent the Church worldwide, and reflect a wide variety of cultures, contexts and pastoral ministries.
  • Collectively, they constitute the College of Cardinals, and are appointed for life.

There are three ranks of cardinals –

  1. Cardinal bishop,
  2. Cardinal deacon, and
  3. Cardinal priest.
  • Cardinals receive the symbolic red biretta and ring from the Pope when they are created at consistories.
  • The ring signifies their marriage to the church.
  • The prelates are also known for their distinctive red attire – the colour expressing the cardinals’ willingness to die for their faith,
  • Only six cardinals hold the title of cardinal bishop.
  • Cardinal priests are the most in number.

The College of Cardinals currently consists of 208 cardinals, of whom 117 are electors and 91 are non-electors.

As of 27 August, the number will grow to 229 Cardinals, of whom 131 will be electors.

All That Breathes: Delhi-based filmmaker Shaunak Sen’s “All That Breathes” won the 2022 L’Oeil d’Or (Golden Eye) for the best documentary at the 75th Cannes Film Festival, making it two in succession for India.

Key Highlights:

  • The 90-minute long film was chosen the winner by the jury, comprising Polish filmmaker Agnieszka Holland, Ukrainian writer-director Iryna Tsilyk, French actor Pierre Deladonchamps, journalist Alex Vicente, and Moroccan writer-filmmaker Hicham Falah.
  • Sen’s win is India’s second in Cannes in two years.
  • In 2021, Payal Kapadia’s “A Night of Knowing Nothing”, which played in the parallel Semaine de la Critique (Cannes Critics’ Week) took home the L’Oeil d’Or.
  • 'All That Breathes' is Sen's second project after his 2016 documentary 'Cities Of Sleep', about homeless people searching for a place to sleep in Delhi.
  • In January, the documentary won the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Documentary at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.
  • The award includes a cash prize of 5,000 euros.

About “All That Breathes”:

“All That Breathes” is about two Delhi brothers Nadeem and Saud who, amid the city’s worsening air and deteriorating social fabric, devote their lives to saving migratory black kites that are at the mercy of mankind’s unthinking ways.

Other Winners:

  • The best director prize went to Park Chan-wook for his work on Decision to Leave, which marks a clear departure for the Korean director in terms a tone and mood.
  • The Grand Prix, the prize for the second-best film in Competition, witnessed a tie between 75-year-old French director Claire Denis’ Stars at Noon, set in mid-1980s Nicaragua, and young Belgian filmmaker Lukas Dhont’s sophomore venture Close, the story of a friendship between two teenage boys.
  • Korean actor Song Kang-ho was adjudged the best actor in Japanese auteur Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Busan-set drama Broker, about a cobbled-together family reminiscent of the one in the director’s 2018 Palme d’Or.

About L'OEil d'Or award:

The L'OEil d'Or documentary award, also known as The Golden Eye award, was created in 2015 by French-speaking authors' society LaScam in collaboration with the Cannes Film Festival.

 

Arts Current Affairs - June 2022

Poila Boishakh: Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted the people of India on Poila Boishakh.

About Poila Boishakh:

  • Poila Boisakh is the first day of the Bengali calendar which is also the official calendar of Bangladesh.
  • This festival is celebrated on 14 April in Bangladesh and 15 April in the Indian states of West Bengal, Tripura, and Assam (Barak Valley) by Bengalis regardless of religious faith.
  • The traditional greeting for Bengalis in the new year is "Shubho Noboborsho" which is literally "Happy New Year".
  • The festive Mangal Shobhajatra is organized in Bangladesh.

In 2016, the UNESCO declared this festivity organized by the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Dhaka as a cultural heritage of humanity.

Utsav Portal: Union Minister for Tourism, Culture and DONER G. Kishan Reddy inaugurated the 2 days Conference of Amrit Samagam being held from 12th – 13th April in New Delhi.

  • During the Conference, he also launched the Utsav Portal.

About Utsav Portal:

  • The Utsav Portal website is a digital initiative launched by the Ministry of Tourism.
  • It aims to showcase all the events, festivals and live darshans across India to promote different regions of the country as popular tourist destinations worldwide.

Objective:

  • Its main objective is to showcase various elements, dates and details of the events and festivals of India on a global platform and increase tourism awareness, attractions, and opportunities by providing tourists with contextual digital experiences in the form of visually appealing photographs and stills from the events.
  • In addition, the objective is also to let the devotees and travelers experience and view the sights of some of the well-known religious divine shrines in India in the form of Live Darshan.

Madhavpur Ghed Fair: The President of India, Ram Nath Kovind inaugurated five-day long Madhavpur Ghed Fair at Madhavpur Ghed, Porbandar in Gujarat on April 10, 2022.

About Madhavpur Fair:

  • The Madhavpur Fair connects Gujarat with north-east region in an integral bond.
  • Through such events, people, especially the young generation gets a chance to gain knowledge about our heritage, culture, art, handicrafts and traditional cuisine.
  • These events also encourage tourism.
  • All the festivals associated with Madhavpur Ghed fair also underline the unity and diversity of India.
  • Since 2018, the Government of Gujarat in association with the Ministry of Culture is organizing this fair every year to celebrate the sacred union of Lord Krishna and Rukmini.

History:

  • Born in today's Uttar Pradesh, Shri Krishna makes Gujarat his workplace and marries Rukmini, a princess from today's north-eastern region of our country.
  • According to folk belief, the land of Madhavpur Ghed village has been a witness to their union.

Babu Jagjivan Ram: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on 5th April 2022 paid tributes to freedom fighter Babu Jagjivan Ram on his 115th birth anniversary.

About Babu Jagjivan Ram:

  • Jagjivan Ram (5 April 1908 – 6 July 1986), popularly known as Babuji was a national leader, a freedom fighter, a crusader of social justice, a champion of depressed classes.
  • He was born at Chandwa near Arrah in Bihar into the Chamar caste of Indian Caste System.
  • He was also an outstanding Parliamentarian, a true democrat, a distinguished Union Minister, an able administrator and an exceptionally gifted orator.
  • He organised several Ravidas Sammelans and celebrated Guru Ravidas Jayanti in various parts of Calcutta (Kolkata).
  • In 1934, he founded the Akhil Bhartiya Ravidas Mahasabha in Calcutta.
  • He was instrumental in the foundation of the All India Depressed Classes League, an organisation dedicated to attaining equality for untouchables.
  • In October 1935, Babuji appeared before the Hammond Commission at Ranchi and demanded, for the first time, voting rights for the Dalits.
  • He played a very active and crucial role in the freedom struggle.
  • Inspired by Gandhiji, Babuji courted arrest on 10 December 1940.
  • After his release, he entrenched himself deeply into the Civil Disobedience Movement and Satyagraha.
  • Babuji was arrested again on 19 August 1942 for his active participation in the Quit India Movement launched by the Indian National Congress.
  • In 1946, he became the youngest minister in Jawaharlal Nehru's interim government, the first cabinet of India as a Labour Minister and also a member of the Constituent Assembly of India, where he ensured that social justice was enshrined in the Constitution.
  • Most importantly, he was the Defence Minister of India during the Indo-Pak war of 1971, which resulted in the creation of Bangladesh.
  • He has also served as the Deputy Prime Minister of India.

Banarasi Pashmina: The Khadi & Village Industries Commission (KVIC) recently launched the “Banarasi Pashmina” to boost self-sustainability & Artisanal Creativity.

Key Points:

  • Pashmina, a heritage handicraft of India, is known the world over for its intricacies and quality.
  • With this launch, Pashmina art has taken on a brand new identity, whether it comes from the Himalayan highlands of Leh-Ladakh to the banks of River Ganges in Varanasi.
  • The premium Pashmina products prepared by the highly skilled Khadi weavers of Varanasi was launched by Chairman KVIC, Shri Vinai Kumar Saxena in Varanasi.
  • This is for the first time that Pashmina products are being produced outside the region of Leh-Ladakh and Jammu & Kashmir.
  • “Made-in-Varanasi” Pashmina products will be sold by KVIC through its showrooms, outlets and through its online portal.

Significance:

  • Pashmina is famed as an essential Kashmiri art form but rediscovery of Pashmina in Varanasi, the spiritual and cultural Capital of India, is unique in many ways.
  • The production of Pashmina prepared in Varanasi liberates this heritage art from the regional confines and creates a fusion of diverse artistry from Leh-Ladakh, Delhi and Varanasi.
  • Pashmina weaving in Varanasi would ensure round-the-year livelihood to women artisans in Leh-Ladakh.
  • The main purpose of rediscovering pashmina in Varanasi seeks to generate sustainable employment opportunities for women in Ladakh and diversify the skills of traditional weavers in Varanasi, as envisaged by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • The scheme aims to provide necessary inputs for Pashmina goat breed improvement, training, health care, and nutritional supplement for qualitative and quantitative improvement in pashmina wool production.

Process of Production of Pashmina in Varanasi:

  • The process of making Pashmina begins in Varanasi with the collection of raw Pashmina wool from Ladakh, which is then transported to Delhi for dehairing, cleaning, and processing.
  • The processed wool is carried back to Leh in the form of roving, which is then handspun into yarn by women Khadi artisans using contemporary Charkhas given by KVIC.
  • The finished yarn is then transported to Varanasi, where it is woven into final Pashmina goods by professional Khadi weavers.
  • The name of the weavers and the name of the city Varanasi will also be subtly engraved on the Pashmina items manufactured by Varanasi's weavers as a symbol of authenticity and belongingness.

Pashmina of Leh-Ladakh:

  • Pashmina refers to a fine variant of spun cashmere, the animal-hair fibre forming the downy undercoat of the Changthangi goat.
  • The word pashm means “wool” in Persian, but in Kashmir, pashm referred to the raw unspun wool of domesticated Changthangi goats.
  • Goats used for pashmina shed their winter coat every spring  (the moulting season) naturally, which regrows in winter.
  • One goat sheds approximately 80–170 grams (3–6 oz) of the fibre.
  • This undercoat is collected by combing the goat, not by shearing, as in other fine wools.
  • Traditional producers of pashmina wool in the Ladakh region of the Himalayas are a people known as the Changpa.
  • These are nomadic people and inhabit the Changthang plateau of Tibet.

About KVIC:

  • The KVIC is an apex organization under the Ministry of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises.
  • It is responsible for the promotion, planning, organization, and implementation of initiatives for the development of Khadi and other rural industries.
  • Gramodyog Vikas Yojana is one of the two components of Khadi Gramodyog Vikas Yojana, which aims to promote and develop village industries through common facilities, technological modernization, training, and so on, to empower the rural masses through self-employment and strengthen the country’s rural economy.
  • This initiative is also in the line with “Atmanirbhar Bharat”.

Guru Tegh Bahadur: The 401st birth anniversary of Guru Tegh Bahadur was observed on 21st April, 2022.

About Guru Tegh Bahadur:

  • Guru Tegh Bahadur was born in Amritsar on April 21, 1621 to Mata Nanki and Guru Hargobind, the sixth Sikh guru.
  • He was the ninth Sikh guru who stood up against forcible conversions by the Mughals.
  • He set up his headquarters in present-day Anandpur Sahib in 1665.
  • He helped Raja Ram Singh to broker a truce with the Ahom king. Gurdwara Dhubri Sahib on the banks of the Brahmaputra commemorates this peace accord.
  • Anandpur Sahib, the famous holy city and a global tourist attraction in the foothills of Himalayas, was founded by Guru Tegh Bahadur
  • Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib and Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Sahib in Delhi are the sites of his execution and cremation.
  • He had resisted forced conversions of non-Muslims to Islam during Aurangzeb's rule
  • He was publicly killed on November 11, 1675 on the orders of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in Delhi.

Impact of his execution:

  • The execution strengthened Sikhs' commitment to resist religious intolerance and persecution.
  • His martyrdom aided all Sikh Panths in uniting to make the defence of human rights a fundamental component of their Sikh identity.
  • Inspired by him, his nine-year-old son, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, eventually organized the Sikh group into a distinct, formal, symbol-patterned community came to be known as Khalsa (Martial) identity.

Indian National Calendar: The first day of the Two-day Conference and Exhibition on the Indian National Calendar as part of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav concluded in Ujjain.

Key Details:

  • On the first day, the inauguration of the exhibition was attended by representatives from the calendrical system of Tamil Panchangam, Gujarati Calendar, Nepali Panchangam, Vikram Samvatsar, Shalivahana Saka Samvatsar, and Bangabda and Tripuravada etc.
  • Vijnana Bharati, in collaboration with Ministry of Culture; Department of Science and Technology, Ministry of Earth Sciences; Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR); Madhya Pradesh Council of Science and Technologyand other scientific and social scientific organizations such as IUCAA, IIA, Vikram University Ujjain, IIT Indore have come together to celebrate the Indian National Calendar.
  • In this regard, a two-day conference and exhibition on India’s National Calendar has been arranged on Vaisakh 2 and 3, 1944 (April 22-23, 2022) at Ujjain and Dongla(a place on the tropic of Cancer).

About Indian National Calendar:

  • The 'Indian National Calendar,' which was officially established by India’s Parliament in 1957, is a scientific statement of India's identity.
  • This was an act of reclaiming our identity after independence.
  • The Indian national calendar, sometimes called the Saka calendar, is used, alongside the Gregorian calendar, by The Gazette of India, in news broadcasts by All India Radio (AIR) and in calendars and communications issued by the Government of India (GoI).

 

Arts Current Affairs - April 2022

Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav: The 11th edition of ‘Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav was inaugurated by The Governor of West Bengal, Shri Jagdeep Dhankhar on February 14, 2021.

Key Highlights:

  • The event was inaugurated at Cooch Behar Palace in West Bengal in the presence of Minister of State (I/C) for Culture and Tourism, Shri Prahlad Singh Patel.
  • The festival was held in between 14th to 28th February, 2021
  • The third and final leg of this 11th edition took place at Murshidabad, West Bengal.
  • Various colourful performances were given by the local artists, including ‘Baul Gaan’, ‘Alkup Gaan’, ‘Leto gaan’, ‘Jhumuriya’ and Ranpa folk dances.

Note:

  • Ten editions of the festival have successfully been organised ever since the festival was started in November, 2015.
  • These 10 editions were organized in Delhi, Bengaluru, Varanasi, Tawang, Karnataka, Gujarat, Tehri and Madhya Pradesh.

Significance:

  • The 11th edition is significant in the light of COVID Pandemic that has severely impacted the cultural sector.
  • Through this event support and assistance will be provided to the artists by the ministry of culture.

About Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav:

  1. It is a flagship festival of the Ministry of culture and tourism.
  2. The event is organized since 2015.
  3. It witnesses the active participation of Seven Zonal Culture Centres.
  4. These zonal centres play a key role in taking the vibrant culture of India to the masses rather than confining it to auditoria and galleries.
  5. This festival showcases the folk and tribal art, music, dance, cuisines and culture of one state in other states.
  6. Thus, it helps in reinforcing the goal of “Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat”.
  7. It also provided an effective platform for the artists and artisans to support their livelihood.
  8. It reconnects the people (especially the youth) with their indigenous culture, its multifaceted nature, magnificence, and historical importance in the context of ‘India as a Nation’ over the millennia.

About Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat:

  1. Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat is an initiative of the Ministry of Education.
  2. It was launched in 2015 on the occasion of the 140th birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
  3. This initiative aims to promote engagement amongst the people of different States/UTs so as to enhance mutual understanding and bonding between people of diverse cultures, thereby securing stronger unity and integrity of India.

The broad objectives of the initiative are as follows:

  • To celebrate the unity in diversity of our nation and to maintain and strengthen the fabric of traditionally existing emotional bonds between the people of our country;
  • To promote the spirit of national integration through a deep and structured engagement between all states and union territories through a year-long planned engagement between states;
  • To showcase the rich heritage and culture, customs and traditions of either State for enabling people to understand and appreciate the diversity that is India, thus fostering a sense of common identity;
  • To establish long term engagements;
  • To create an environment this promotes learning between states by sharing best practices and experiences.

Every State and UT in the country would be paired with another State/UT for a time period, during which they would carry out a structured engagement with one another in the spheres of language, literature, cuisine, festivals, cultural events, tourism etc

About Zonal Cultural Centres:

The centre aims to strengthen the ancient roots of Indian Culture and evolve and enrich composite National Culture.

There are seven Zonal Cultural Centres (ZCCs) in India.

They are as follows:

  1. Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre Kolkata,
  2. North Central Zone Cultural Centre Allahabad,
  3. North east Zone Cultural centre Dimapur,
  4. North Zone Cultural centre Patiala,
  5. South Central Zone Cultural Centre Nagpur,
  6. South Zone Cultural Centre Thanjavur,
  7. West Zone Cultural Centre Udaipur

These ZCCs organize various cultural activities and programmes all over the country on a regular basis.

Other schemes of ZCCs:

  1. Award to Young Talented Artists
  2. Guru Shishya Parampara
  3. Theatre Rejuvenation
  4. Shilpgram
  5. Octave
  6. National Cultural Exchange Programme (NCEP).

Ishan Manthan Festival: Union Minister for Culture, Tourism & DONER Shri G Kishan Reddy recently inaugurated the three-day North-East festival 'Ishan Manthan' at Indira Gandhi National Centre for the arts in New Delhi.

Key Points:

  • The three-day Ishan Manthan program which celebrated the rich ethnicity and colors of North East India was held from 25 March to 27, 2022.
  • The inaugural session also witnessed the publishing of two books titled 'Lok Beyond Folk,' a book on the Lok Culture edited by Shri J Nandalumar, and 'Jewels of North East India.'

Significance:

  • The event gives a chance to understand the culture, art, music, folk dances, handicrafts, and traditional cuisines of Northeast India.
  • Ishan Manthan is an endeavor to celebrate the plural expressions of northeast India. Hence, it can be understood as "North East Brainstorming."

 

GI Tag for Narasingapettai Nagaswaram: The geographical indication tag has recently been awarded to the Narasingapettai Nagaswaram, under the category of musical instruments of class 15.

Key Highlights:

  • Narasinghapettai nagaswaram is a classical wind music instrument of Tamil Nadu.
  • The musical instrument is traditionally made by artisans based in a village near Kumbakonam who make them through specialized processing skills, a technique inherited from their forefathers.
  • It is manufactured by them through a process that requires specialized skills.
  • The application for receiving the GI tag was filed by Tamil Nadu’s Nodal Officer for GI Registration of Products on behalf of Thanjavur Musical Instruments Workers Co-operative Cottage Industrial Society Limited.

About the Narasingapettai Nagaswaram:

  • Nagaswaram is a wind instrument made of wood and metal.
  • The instrument has also been accorded a high status as a ‘Mangala Vadyam’ and is played in religious ceremonies, auspicious occasions, and classical concerts.
  • The nagaswaram that is being used by artists nowadays is named Pari nagaswaram and that is longer than the Thimiri.
  • This musical instrument has a body that is cylindrical in shape and takes the shape of a bell at the bottom.
  • This form of the nagaswaram provides volume and tone.
  • The instrument’s length is two and a half feet.

About the manufacturing process of Narasinghapettai nagaswaram:

The double-reeded instrument is made up of wood and has two parts. They are -

1.A conical tube and

2.A metal bell.

  • The major portion of the ‘Narasinghapettai nagaswaram’ is made from the Aacha or Hardwickia binata tree.
  • Most of the time, to make nagaswaram, the artisans use drilling machines, carpentry tools, and sometimes, woods from the parts of old houses are also used.
  • The horn-like portion of Nagaswaram is known as ‘Olavi’ and the loudspeaker-like portion is called ‘anasu’.
  • Jeevali is played at one end of the horn.
  • It is through this ‘jeevali’ that air is blown.

Note: It is believed that Lord Shiva gifted the instrument to the demon, Nagasuran. Furthermore, it has the shape of a snake, and nagas (meaning snakes) used this instrument, hence it came to be known as nagaswaram.

The advantages of obtaining a GI tag:

Getting the GI tag can be beneficial in many ways. The product and the manufacturer, both get benefits in addition to economic and cultural benefits.

Financial Assistance:

  • The GI tag will help the artisans receive financial assistance from the Indian government.
  • Further, it can also boost the trade of nagaswaram makers.

Benefits to country:

  • Furthermore, as a country, it is not just a matter of pride but the GI tag is also an indicator of quality.
  • When a product gets the tag, it means that the place it originates or belongs too, has the best quality products.
  • This increases the significance and the popularity of the product.
  • It enhances export opportunities.
  • It also promotes government projects such as Vocal for Local, Buy Tribal, domestic and rural tourism, and other initiatives.

Protects the culture:

  • Indian artisans possess unique skills and knowledge of traditional practices and methods, passed down from generation to generation, which needs to be protected and promoted.
  • With GI tags, the products get due acknowledgment, promotion, and protection.

Dol Utsav: The 'Dol Utsav' or 'Dol Jatra,' which is the festival of colours was celebrated in West Bengal, marking the spring season's onset.

This year, the festival will be celebrated on 18 March 2022 as per the Hindu calendar.

About Dol Jatra:

  • Dol Jatra is celebrated to revel in the everlasting bond of love between Lord Krishna and Radha.
  • It is believed that on this special day, Lord Krishna expressed his love for his beloved Radha.
  • According to the Hindu calendar, Dol Purnima or Dol Jatra falls on the full moon day in the month of Phalgun.
  • It also marks the final festival of the year in the Bengali calendar.
  • It is predominantly celebrated in West Bengal, Odisha and Assam.
  • In the Eastern region of India, the festival of spring is well known as Dol Jatra, Dol Utsav, Dol Purnima and Basanta Utsav.
  • The majestic festival is well known for throwing 'gulaal' or 'aabir' on others and singing and dancing in cultural programs.
  • The festival has an added significance for people living in Bengal, as the day marks the birth anniversary of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu(1485–1533).
  • Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was a great 16th century Vaishnava saint and poet, who was also regarded as an incarnation of Krishna by some.
  • Besides being a great spiritual leader, he was also the founder of Gaudiya Vaishnavism.
  • One of the best and most famous celebrations of Dol Purnima is well known within the temples of ISKON and particularly the one in Mayapur, the headquarters.

Note: Dol Jatra differs from Holi as it is the last festival of the Bengali Year. Coloured powder is a key part of this festival, and is known as 'phag' in Bengal.

Arts Current Affairs - March 2022

75th BAFTA Award 2022: The 75th edition of the British Academy Film Awards, also known as the BAFTA Award, was held at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

Key Highlights:

  • The awards presented by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), honours the best national and foreign films of 2021.
  • The ceremony was hosted by actress and comedian Rebel Wilson.
  • The film that received maximum nominations was Dune, with 11 nominations.
  • The film that received the maximum number of awards was Dune as well with 5 awards.
  • The Power of the Dog' won two BAFTA awards, Best Picture and Best Director for Jane Campion.
  • Will Smith won the Best Actor for his role in 'King Richard', while Joanna Scanlan won the Best Actress award for her role in 'After Love'.

List of winners at the 2022 BAFTA awards:

  1. Best Film: The Power of the Dog wins Best Film
  2. Best Director: Jane Campion for The Power of the Dog
  3. Best Actor: Will Smith for King Richard
  4. Best Actress: Joanna Scanlan for After Love
  5. Outstanding British Film: Belfast
  6. Best Animated Film; Encanto
  7. Best Documentary: Summer of Soul
  8. Best Supporting Actor: Troy Kotsur for CODA
  9. Best Supporting Actress: Ariana DeBose for West Side Story
  10. Best Original Score: Dune
  11. EE Rising Star Award: Lashana Lynch
  12. Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer: The Harder They Fall
  13. Best Film not in England Language: Drive My Car
  14. Best Original Screenplay: Licorice Pizza
  15. Best Adapted Screenplay: CODA
  16. Best Casting: West Side Story
  17. Best Editing: No Time To Die
  18. Cinematography: Dune
  19. Production Design: Dune
  20. Sound: Dune
  21. Special Visual Effects: Dune
  22. Best Costume Design: Cruella
  23. Best Hair and Make Up: The Eyes of Tammy Faye
  24. British Short Animation: Do Not Feed the Pigeons
  25. British Short Film: The Black Cop

About BAFTA Awards:

  • The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) is a leading independent global arts charity.
  • BAFTA, initially the British Film Academy was formed in 1947 with an aim to promote, support, and develop the art form of the moving image such as film and television in the UK.
  • The first-ever Awards, given in 1955, consisted of six categories.
  • Until 1958, they were awarded by the Guild of Television Producers and Directors.
  • From 1958 onwards, after the Guild had merged with the British Film Academy, the organization was known as the Society of Film and Television Arts.
  • In 1976, this became the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

Holi: President of India Shri Ramnath Kovind recently extended his greeting to the citizens in India and abroad on the auspicious occasion of Holi which is being celebrated in India today.

About Holi:

  • Holi is called the "Festival of colours".
  • Holi falls on the full moon day in the month of Phalgun
  • The festival marks the end of winter and the beginning of the season of spring and also marks the harvesting of the crop in the country during this time.
  • Holi is associated with myths relating to events from the lives of Prahlada and Lord Krishna.
  • Holika Dhahan custom is an important part of the ritual which symbolizes the death of the demon Holika who planned to kill Prahlada (triumph of good over evil).
  • Holi is also called as Dhulendi, Lathmar Holi, Mohhalla Hola, Basant Utsav, Rangpanchami in various regions of the country.
  • As a part of the festivities, people during Holi play with bright organic colours.

Origin of Holi:

  • Holi has its origins in the story of the Hindu god Krishna and the legend of Holika and Prahlad.
  • Hiranyakashipu was an immoral king with special powers that made him nearly invincible.
  • He desired that people worship him, but his own son, Prahlad, preferred to worship Lord Vishnu.
  • So, an offended Hiranyakashipu decided to punish his son.
  • He asked his sister Holika, who was immune to fire, to sit with Prahlad in the fire.
  • When she did, the flames killed Holika but left Prahlad unharmed. Lord Vishnu then assumed the form of Narasimha and killed Hiranyakashipu.
  • Holika Dahan is the name given to this Holika occurrence.
  • Holi is also a celebration of the divine love between Lord Krishna and Radha. So, an elaborate Holi is played in Mathura and Vrindavan.

Jharokha - Compendium of Indian Handicraft: A programme called “Jharokha-Compendium of Indian handicraft/ handloom, art and culture” to celebrate the traditional Indian handicrafts, handlooms, and art & culture are being organized by the Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Textiles.

About Jhorakha:

  • Jharokha is being organized to celebrate the traditional Indian handlooms, handicrafts, and art & culture.
  • It is a PAN India progarmme that will be held at 16 locations in 13 states and UTs, as part of the Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav.
  • The first event under this celebration was organized on 8 March 2022 in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh (MP) at Rani Kamlapati Railway Station on the occasion of International Women’s Day.

Note: This station has been named after the brave and fearless Queen Kamlapati of Gond kingdom of MP.

  • The event celebrated the contribution of women in the field of craft, art, and culture as well as womanhood.
  • This event was enhanced even more special by the fact that all of the stalls were set up by women craftsmen.

What will be showcased in the Jharaokha event?

  • The Jharokha celebrations will showcase handicraft and handloom products from across the nation.
  • The event will also honour women craftsmen, weavers, and painters who have made major contributions to promoting and revitalizing Indian handloom and handicrafts.
  • At each venue, a literary corner focused on local culture, art, and festivals will also be set up along with various food stalls celebrating various types of local Indian cuisines.
  • The cultural events will be another highlight of the event.
  • These events will continue for 8 days.
  • It will include folk dance and singing performances by local teams and artists.
  • A dedicated corner for Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat (EBSB) encompassing the culture and art of Manipur and Nagaland will also be set up at the venue.

Pal-Dadhvav Massacre: The government of Gujarat marked the 100 years of the Pal-Dadhvav massacre calling it a massacre “bigger than the Jallianwala Bagh” on the 7th of March 2022.

Pal-Dadhvav massacre refers to the killing of around 1,200 tribal revolutionaries (Bhils) by the British.

About the Pal-Dadhvav massacre:

  • The Pal-Dadhvav massacre took place on 7th March 1922, in the Pal-Chitariya and Dadhvaav villages of Sabarkantha district, then part of Idar state (Now Gujrat).
  • The day was Amalki Ekadashi, which falls just before Holi, a major festival for tribals.
  • On Amalki Ekadashi, villagers gathered on the banks of the Heir River as part of the ‘Eki movement’.
  • The Eki movement was led by Motilal Tejawat to protest against the land revenue tax (lagaan) imposed on the peasants by the British and feudal lords.
  • Tejawat, who belonged to Koliyari village in the Mewad region of Rajasthan, had also mobilized Bhils from Kotda Chhavni, Sirohi, and Danta to participate.
  • Earlier, Udaipur state (Rajasthan) had outlawed Motilal Tejawat and announced an Rs-500 reward on his head.
  • The Mewad Bhil Corps (MBC) of British was searching for Motilal Tejawat.
  • MBC got information about the gathering of tribals and they went to the spot.
  • On command from Tejawat, nearly 2000 Bhils raised their bows and arrows and shouted in unison- ‘We will not pay the tax’.
  • The MBC commanding officer, HG Sutton, ordered his men to fire upon them.
  • The British claim that 22 people were killed but the tribals believe that around 1,200 of them died.
  • Tejawat, however, escaped and later “returned to the spot to christen it ‘Veer Bhumi’.

Memorial and Republic Day tableau:

  • In 2003, a memorial to Motilal Tejawat was built on the massacre site.
  • The memorial was surrounded by a ‘Shahid Smriti Van’, which consists of 1200 trees planted in the memory of the tribals.
  • Pal-Dadhvav massacre was also featured on Gujarat’s 2022 Republic Day tableau.

Tribal Population in Gujarat:

  • Gujarat has a near 14 percent tribal population that resides along its northern-eastern stretch, called the ‘poorvi patti’, bordering the districts of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.

Reclining Statue of Lord Buddha: India’s largest reclining statue of Lord Buddha is being built by Buddha International Welfare Mission in Bodh Gaya.

About the statue:

  • The statue of Lord Buddha is in a sleeping posture.
  • It will be 100 feet long and 30 feet high.
  • It is being made with fiberglass by sculptors from Kolkata.
  • The construction of the statue started back in 2019.
  • The giant statue of Lord Buddha will be opened for devotees from February 2023.

Significance of this posture:

The founder secretary of Buddha International Welfare mission Bhante Aryapal Bhikshu informed that the idol of Lord Buddha in Mahaparinirvana Mudra holds great significance for the Buddhist as he reached to his disciples in this posture. 

About Bodh Gaya:

  • The Buddhist pilgrimage circuit in India is being revived proactively and Bodh Gaya is an integral part of it.
  • Bodh Gaya is known as an important pilgrimage centre for Buddhism.
  • The Mahabodhi Temple Complex is in Bodh Gaya district in the Indian state of Bihar.
  • Gautama Buddha is said to have attained Enlightenment under what became known as the Bodhi Tree
  • Devotees from all over the world visit this place.
  • In 2002, Mahabodhi Temple, located in Bodh Gaya, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Archaeological finds show that the site was in use by Buddhists since the Mauryan period.
  • Bodh Gaya is the most important of the main four pilgrimage sites related to the life of Gautama Buddha.
  • The other three are Kushinagar, Sarnath and Lumbini.

 

SAG Awards 2022: The 28th Annual Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards for 2022, were recently announced.

Key Highlights:

  • The ceremony took place at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California, commenced with speeches by Hamilton’s Daveed Diggs, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Leslie Odom Jr.
  • The event witnessed several significant, historic moments.

Winners of SAG Awards 2022 in Different Categories:

Film:

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture:

Child of Deaf Adults (CODA) won the award for the best film and created history by becoming the first film with a predominantly deaf cast to take home the honours.

What’s more, the lead actor of the film, Troy Kotsur, too made history by becoming the first deaf actor to win an individual trophy.

The actor gave his acceptance speech using a sign-language interpreter.

Male and Female Actor in a Leading Role:

 Will Smith won the award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role for King Richard, while Jessica Chastain bagged the trophy for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role for The Eyes of Tammy Faye.

Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture:

No Time to Die

Outstanding Performance by a Male and Female Actor in a Supporting Role

Troy Kotsur – CODA as Frank Rossi and Ariana DeBose – West Side Story as Anita.

Lifetime Achievement Award.

 Hollywood legend Helen Mirren was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Television:

Outstanding Performance by a Male and Female Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series:

Michael Keaton – Dopesick (Hulu) as Dr. Samuel Finnix and Kate Winslet – Mare of Easttown (HBO) as Marianne "Mare" Sheehan

Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Comedy or Drama Series:

The Korean series by Netflix Squid Game created a record by winning the title for Outstanding Action Performance as a Stunt Ensemble since it is the first non-English show to do so.

Outstanding Performance by a Male and Female Actor in a Drama Series

 Squid Game (Netflix) also made history by winning in the Outstanding Performance by a Male and Female Actor in Drama series categories for Lee Jung-Jae and Jung Ho-Yeon, respectively.

Outstanding Performance by a Male and Female Actor in a Comedy Series:

Jason Sudeikis – Ted Lasso (Apple TV+) as Ted Lasso and Jean Smart – Hacks (HBO Max) as Deborah Vance.

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series:

Succession (HBO) – Nicholas Braun, Juliana Canfield, Brian Cox, Kieran Culkin, Dagmara Domińczyk, Peter Friedman, Jihae, Justine Lupe, Matthew Macfadyen, Dasha Nekrasova, Scott Nicholson, David Rasche, Alan Ruck, J. Smith-Cameron, Sarah Snook, Fisher Stevens, Jeremy Strong, and Zoë Winters

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series:

Ted Lasso (Apple TV+) – Annette Badland, Kola Bokinni, Phil Dunster, Cristo Fernández, Brett Goldstein, Brendan Hunt, Toheeb Jimoh, Nick Mohammed, Sarah Niles, Jason Sudeikis, Jeremy Swift, Juno Temple, and Hannah Waddingham

About Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards:

  • Screen Actors Guild Awards (also known as SAG Awards) are accolades given by the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA).
  • The award was founded in 1952 to recognize outstanding performances in movie and prime-time television.
  • SAG Awards have been one of the major awards events in the Hollywood film industry since 1995.
  • Film:

Discovery of Old Stone Age culture: Scientists in China have recently found evidence of a 40,000 years old culture, located 100 miles away from Beijing.

Where was it discovered?

  • The site of excavation is located in Nihewan Basin.
  • It is a depression in the northern, mountainous region in China.
  • The site is called Xiamabei.
  • The researchers found evidence of the culture about 8 feet below ground.

What did the researchers find?

  • The layer of silt they found was found to be 39,000 to 41,000 years old based on carbon dating and more techniques of analysis.
  • The researchers have found hundreds of mammal bones, tools, lithics and more in the sediment.
  • Remains seemed to be in their original spots after it was abandoned by the residents.
  • The remains revealed a vivid picture of how people lived 40,000 years ago in Eastern Asia.
  • This is the earliest-known ochre workshop in East Asia. As per researchers, Ochre was used as an additive to be used in processing hides. It was also used as an adhesive to affix handles to stone tools.

Earlier discovery in Xiaochangliang site:

Paleolithic remains in East Asia:

  • Some of the earliest paleolithic remains were also found at the Xiaochangliang site in East Asia. This site is also located in the Nihewan Basin in Yangyuan County in China, which is famous for the stone tools discovered there.
  • This site was first discovered in 1923, by US geologist George Barbour.
  • The tool forms that were discovered include notches, burins, side & end scrapers, and disc cores.

Why is it difficult to date Asian sites?

  • It is usually more difficult to date Asian sites than African sites because Asian sites lack volcanic materials, which can be dated isotropically.

Kerala Kaliyattam Festival: The Kaliyattam festival is an annual Theyyam festival held in the temples in Kerala’s Malabar region.

About Theyyam Festival:

  • The folk culture of Theyyam is believed to be over 800 years old.
  • Theyyam is the name of a grand dance festival that is held in different parts of Kerala, including Kasargod.
  • Called “Dance of Gods”, the Theyyam celebrations mainly happen in the Northern Malabar regions of Kerala which consists of present-day Kannur Districts, Kasargod, Vadakara and Koyilandy Taluks of Kozhikode and Mananthavady Taluk of Wayanad across thousands of Temple in the area and beyond.
  • A similar custom is followed in the Mangalore region of neighbouring Karnataka known as Bhuta Kola.
  • The people of these districts where this festival is celebrated consider Theyyam as a channel to a god and they thus seek blessings.
  • There are around 456 different varieties of Theyyam.
  • Males perform Theyyam, with the exception of the Devakoothu Theyyam, which is the only Theyyam ritual done by women.
  • It can only be seen at the Thekkumbad Kulom temple.

Performance of the Ritual:

  • Theyyam consists of thousand-year-old rituals, traditions, and customs.
  • The musical dance act is performed with elaborate Headdresses, make-up, masks and accompanied by musical instruments including Chenda – parade celebrations bringing their offerings to the Goddess – and barefoot ritual fire walking.
  • Generally, the dance is performed in front of the village shrine.
  • It is also practiced as ancestor worship in homes, with elaborate rituals and rites.
  • For the performance, there is no stage, curtain, or another similar setup. The devotees would either be standing or sitting in front of the shrine on a sacred tree.
  • The shrine’s performance of a particular deity, depending on its hierarchy and significance, lasts 12 to 24 hours with intervals.
  • The chief dancer who worships the shrine’s central deity has to reside in the rituals.
  • The dancer, accompanied by the drummers, recites the ritual song, which narrates the stories and tales of the shrine’s deity or the folk deity to be worshipped.
  • Folk musical instruments are played in the background.

Festivals of Kerala:

  • Many of the temples in Kerala hold festivals on specific days of the year.
  • Some festivals include Poorams, the best known of these being the Thrissur Pooram.
  • Other known festivals are Makaravilakku, Chinakkathoor Pooram, Attukal Pongala and Nenmara Vallangi Vela.
  • Onam is a harvest festival celebrated by the people of Kerala and is reminiscent of the state's agrarian past.

Monumental Destruction: The massive Russian attack on Ukraine has put not only human lives and physical infrastructure, but also priceless works of art, cultural artifacts, and monuments at risk of destruction.

What is at risk of destruction?

  • Ukraine is home to several historical sites and heritage structures, while its museums have significant specimens of Baroque and folk art.
  • Thousands of museums in Ukraine have in its collections important works of Ukrainian and Russian art, classical and Byzantine artifacts and paintings by masters such as Francisco Goya, Giovanni Bellini, and Jacques-Louis David.
  • Kyiv’s Museum of Freedom has a collection of 4,000 objects recording Ukraine’s pro-democracy movement.
  • The Odessa Fine Arts Museum has a collection of more than 10,000 objects, including Ukrainian and Russian “orthodox icons”, dating back to the 16th-century artists such as Myhailo Vrubel, Ivan Aivazovskyi, Mykola Reryh, Valentyn Sierov, Kostiantyn Somov, Zinaida Serebriakova, and Vasyl Kandynskyi.
  • The country is also home to seven world heritage sites including the St Sophia Cathedral, one of the most-recognized landmarks in Kyiv and Kyiv Monastery of the Caves or Kyiv Pechersk Lavra, an Eastern Orthodox Christian monastery.

About Heritage Sites in Ukraine:

1. Saint-Sophia Cathedral:

  • The Saint-Sophia Cathedral is an Eastern Orthodox church that was constructed in the 11th century, soon after the Christianization of Kievan Rus, in present-day Istanbul.
  • Mosaics and frescos from that period have been preserved in the interior. Monastic buildings around the cathedral were constructed in the 17th and 18th centuries in Ukrainian Baroque style.
  • The Kyiv Pechersk Lavra is a monastic ensemble that was developing from the 11th to the 19th centuries.
  • It comprises churches, monasteries, and caves where saints were buried.
  • The church greatly influenced subsequent temples, and together with the nearby monastic complex known as Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, or Kyiv Monastery of the Caves, it helped the area become a center of Orthodox faith and thought.
  • The Church of the Saviour at Berestove, adjacent to the Lavra, was added to the site in 2005.
  • Kyiv Monastery of the Caves was founded in 1051.

2. City of Lviv:

  • The city of Lviv was founded in the late Middle Ages and still preserves its medieval topography.
  • The city has been shaped by the interactions of the different communities that have lived there through centuries, including various Christian groups, Muslims, and Jews.
  • The architecture of the city represents a fusion of styles from Eastern Europe with influences coming from Italy and Germany.
  • Several buildings from the Renaissance and Baroque periods have been preserved.

3. Struve Geodetic Arc:

  • The Struve Geodetic Arc is a cross-border scientific and cultural heritage object.
  • It is a series of 258 triangles that create a chain of 256 main points, stretching over a distance of 2,820 kilometres (1,750 mi).
  • Its southernmost point is in the Ukrainian town of Staro-Nekrasovka, on the Black Sea, while its northernmost point is in Hammerfest, Norway.
  • The points were set up in a survey by the astronomer Friedrich Georg Wilhelm von Struve.
  • Built from 1816-55, the collaborative structure helped determine Earth's exact shape and size.
  • Due to the arc, the correct shape and size of Earth were established and Newton’s theory that Earth is a three-dimensional oval was also proved.
  • Originally, there were 265 station points.
  • The World Heritage Site includes 34 points in 10 countries (North to South: Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine), four of which are in Ukraine (site marker in Felshtyn pictured).

4. Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians:

  • This site comprises undisturbed examples of temperate forests that show how European beech expanded postglacially from a few isolated refuges in the Alps, Carpathians, Dinarides, Mediterranean, and the Pyrenees.
  • In 2007, the site was originally listed as the Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians, shared by Slovakia and Ukraine, extended in 2011 to include the Ancient Beech Forests of Germany, and further extended in 2017 and 2021 to include forests in a total of 18 countries.
  • In Ukraine, 13 forest reserves are listed.

5. Chernivtsi - Residence of Bukovinian and Dalmatian metropolitans:

  • The Residence of Bukovinian and Dalmatian Metropolitans was built for the Eastern Orthodox metropolitan bishop in the late 19th century when the region was under the rule of Austria-Hungary. Built by Czech architect Josef Hlavka from 1864-1882, the giant
  • The ensemble is built in the historicist style and combines features of Byzantine, Gothic, and Baroque architecture.
  • The complex served as the bishop's residence until World War II. In 1955, the property was transferred to Chernivtsi University.

6. Ancient city of Tauric Chersonese and its Chora:

  • The ruins of Tauric Chersonese are located outside of Sevastopol, in southwest Crimea, which was illegally annexed by Russia in 2014.
  • The city was founded by Dorian Greeks in the 5th century BCE on the coast of the Black Sea.
  • The site includes public building complexes, residential neighborhoods and early Christian monuments as well as remnants of Stone and Bronze age structures.
  • The area around the city was important due to its wine production, and the remains of ancient vineyards have been well preserved.
  • In the following centuries, the city saw the interactions of Greek, Roman, and Byzantine communities in the Black Sea region.

7. Wooden Tserkvas of the Carpathian Region in Poland and Ukraine:

  • This UNESCO World Heritage Site comprises 16 wooden churches (tserkvas) that are spread out over Poland and Ukraine in the mountainous Carpathian region. 
  • The churches were built between the 16th and 19th centuries by the communities of Eastern Orthodox and Greek Catholic faiths.
  • The designs have been influenced by the Orthodox ecclesiastical traditions with local influences.
  • They exemplify the timber-building tradition of Slavic countries.
  • They feature wooden bell towers, iconostasis screens, and interior polychrome decorations, as well as churchyards, gatehouses, and graveyards.
  • The Holy Trinity Church in Zhovkva is pictured.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Jayanti: Nation celebrated the 392nd birth anniversary of the great Maratha warrior Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj on February 19, 2022.

Key Highlights:

  • Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Jayanti is based on the Hindu calendar followed in Maharashtra.
  • The day is, also referred to as Shiv Jayanti.
  • Shivaji Jayanti is mainly a Maharashtrian holiday celebrated as a festival.
  • The day is celebrated with much enthusiasm and pride.

Background:

  • Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Jayanti was started by Mahatma Jyotirao Phule in 1870.
  • Mahatma Jyotirao Phule discovered the tomb of Shivaji Maharaj on Raigad, which is around 100 km from Pune.
  • The celebrations of Shivaji Jayanti were first inaugurated in Pune.

Some facts about Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj:

  • Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was a great Hindu warrior.
  • He was one of the bravest, progressive and sensible monarchs of India.
  • He is known as the father of guerrilla warfare in India.
  • He pioneered the ‘Ganimi Kava’ or ‘Shiva Sutra’ against the Mughals in 1645.
  • He established the Maratha Empire during the 17th century and kindled the spirit of self-rule among Hindus whom foreign rulers were governing.
  • He was instrumental in bringing the Maratha Chiefs of the Desh, Konkan, and Mayal regions together.
  • Shivaji was probably the first king in the region to understand the importance of reigning supreme on the sea.
  • His naval force played a major role in protecting important forts from several attacks.
  • Shivaji’s forces expanded the Maratha Empire, capturing and building great forts.
  • At 15, he persuaded Inayat Khan, the commander of Bijapur to hand over the Torna Fort to him.
  • He promoted regional languages like Marathi and Sanskrit in court and administration and ditched the usual language of his time, Persian.
  • He was born to Shahaji Bhosale and Jijabai in 1630, in Shivneri Fort, near the city of Junnar in Pune district, Maharashtra.
  • He was named after the local Goddess Shivai, who blessed his mother by fulfilling her prayers for a son.
  • The coronation of Shivaji Maharaj as the Chhatrapati took place at the Raigad fort in 1674.
  • Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj's role and contribution to Indian history make him a hero of the country.

Shivaji Maharaj Jayanti Quotes:

  • Of all the rights of women, the greatest is to be a mother.
  • Freedom is a boon, which everyone has the right to receive.
  • Do not think of the enemy as weak, and then do not be too scared to feel too strong.
  • Even if there were a sword in the hands of everyone, it is willpower that establishes a government.

Viva Carnival: Goa is celebrating its annual ‘Carnaval’ or carnival from February 26 to March 1, 2022.

Key Points about Goa’s ‘Carnaval’ celebration:

  • Carnival in Goa is also called "Carnaval", "Intruz", "Entrado", or (colloquially) "Viva Carnival".
  • The four-day festival is reminiscent of Goa’s Portuguese legacy.
  • It is a celebration before the month of Lent followed by Catholics in Goa.
  • It is observed just before the commencement of Lent (a 40-day period marked by penitential preparation for Easter).
  • According to the Goa Department of Tourism, in the pre-Christian era, Carnival marked the end of winter and the beginning of spring.
  • “Winter spirits were believed to rule the earth and had to be driven out to allow the spirits of summer to come in.
  • It was a rite of passage, a transition from dark to light.
  • Additionally, all the winter stores had to be eaten, as they would now begin to spoil with the warmer weather, and a period of fasting would begin until spring brought the ability to lay in new stores of food.”
  • It started as a Christian festival but is now celebrated by everyone.
  • With float parades, music, dance and culinary delights, over the decades, the exuberant celebration has been an eagerly awaited annual event showcasing Goa’s vibrant culture.
  • While carnival celebrations are held across the state by the Goa Department of Tourism, Panaji (Panjim) is the centre of action during the carnival.
  • Like in other parts of the world, the celebration kicks off with an opening ceremony and has parades of floats in the streets.
  • The streets are decorated with striking masks, colourful streamers, lights on its tree-lined streets.
  • The tourism department invites applications from “large-hearted, jolly, fun-loving Goans” who wish to be King Momo.

King Momo 2022:

  1. Emilio Dias from Raia in South Goa has been crowned King Momo 2022.

Fun Fact: The first King Momo of Goa, Timoteo Fernandes, is now an octogenarian.

He was the first King Momo of the parade organized in 1965, four years after Goa was liberated from Portuguese rule.

He sat atop a bullock cart that year, but the next year, the Panaji municipality-provided him with a jeep to ride in.

King Momo:

  • King Momo, or the king of Chaos, is a character derived from the Greek god Momus, the god of satire.
  • Like in the many Latino Carnivals, the Goa Carnival also crowns a King Momo, usually “a large gentleman” who leads the carnival parade.

About Goa:

  • Goa is a state in western India with coastlines stretching along the Arabian Sea.
  • It is surrounded by the Indian states of Maharashtra to the north and Karnataka to the east and south, with the Arabian Sea forming its western coast.
  • Goa continued to remain a Union Territory until 1987 when it was accorded statehood.
  • It became India’s 25th state even as Daman and Diu continue to be Union Territories.
  • It is India's smallest state by area and the fourth-smallest by population.
  • The capital of Goa is Panaji.
  • The current Chief Minister and the Governor of Goa are Pramod Sawant and Bhagat Singh Koshyari respectively.

Lachit Borphukan: President Ram Nath Kovind, 25 February 2022,  inaugurated the year-long celebration marking the 400th birth anniversary of great Ahom General Lachit Borphukan.

Key Highlights: 

  • He laid the foundation for the re-development of the general’s memorial in the Jorhat district.
  • He also laid the foundation stone for the Alaboi war memorial, a tribute to soldiers who had fought and suffered a setback against the Mughals at Alaboi, two years before Lachit’s decisive victory at the Battle of Saraighat in 1671.

About Lachit Borphukan:

  • Lachit Borphukan (24 November 1622 - 25 April 1672) was a legendary commander of the Ahom forces and an icon of Assamese nationalism.
  • He is known for his leadership in the 1671 'Battle of Saraighat' on the Brahmaputra that thwarted a drawn-out attempt by the mighty Mughal forces, led by Raja Ramsingh-I, to take back Assam.
  • He died about a year later due to illness.

Battle of Alaboi:

  • The Battle of Alaboi was fought on August 5, 1669, between the Ahoms and Mughals in which the Ahoms suffered severe reverses and thousands of its soldiers were killed.
  • After that, the feeling of patriotism got stronger.
  • Two years later, Lachit Borphukan retaliated and not only Aurangzeb’s army was defeated in the historic battle of Saraighat, but that defeat proved to be the final nail in the coffin of the expansionist policies of the Mughals in the Northeast

Lachit Divas:

  • November 24 is celebrated as Lachit Divas (Lachit Day) in Assam to commemorate the heroism of Lachit Borphukan and the victory of the Assamese army at the Battle of Saraighat.

Lachit Borphukan Gold Medal (Best Cadet of NDA):

  • The best passing out cadet of National Defence Academy is conferred the Lachit Borphukan gold medal every year from 1999.

Mahabir Lachit Award:

  • An award is presented to notable personalities of Assam by Tai Ahom Yuba Parishad (TAYPA).

Arts Current Affairs - February 2022

Dayananda Saraswati: India, on 12th February 2022 paid tributes to Hindu reformer and Arya Samaj founder Dayananda Saraswati on his birth anniversary.

Key Facts:

  • Born on this day in 1824, the noted Vedic scholar had launched a Hindu reform movement, denouncing idolatry and ritualism.
  • The year 2022 is his 198th birth anniversary.

About Dayanand Saraswati:

  • Dayananda Saraswati (12 February 1824 – 30 October 1883) was an Indian philosopher, social leader and founder of the Arya Samaj, a reform movement of the Vedic dharma.
  • He was a sanyasi (ascetic) from boyhood and a scholar.
  • He believed in the infallible authority of the Vedas.
  • He advocated the doctrine of Karma and Reincarnation.
  • Among Dayananda's contributions are his promoting of equal rights for women, such as the right to education and reading of Indian scriptures, and his commentary on the Vedas from Vedic Sanskrit in Sanskrit as well as in Hindi.
  • Swami Dayanand established the Arya Samaj on April 7, 1875, in Bombay, with 10 principles that are beautifully based purely on God, soul and nature.
  • He was the first to give the call for Swaraj as "India for Indians" in 1876, a call later taken up by Lokmanya Tilak.
  • One of his most influential works is the book Satyarth Prakash, which contributed to the Indian independence movement.
  • He brought about a complete overhaul of the education system of India by introducing Anglo-Vedic schools to offer students an updated curriculum which imparted both the knowledge of the Vedas and contemporary English education.
  • Denouncing idolatry and ritualistic worship, he worked towards reviving Vedic ideologies.
  • Subsequently, the philosopher and President of India, S. Radhakrishnan called him one of the "makers of Modern India", as did Sri Aurobindo.
  • Those who were influenced by and followed Dayananda included Madam Cama, Swami Shraddhanand, Shyamji Krishna Varma, Bhagat Singh, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, Lala Lajpat Rai, Yogmaya Neupane, etc.

Gurudas Ravidas Jayanti 2022: Guru Ravidas Jayanti was observed on February 16, 2022, in the honour of the birthday of Guru Ravidas.

Key Facts:

  • This year was the 645th birth anniversary of Guru Ravidas also known as Raidas who was one of the most renowned saints of the North Indian Bhakti movement.
  • He is revered for his works against casteism.
  • This festival is celebrated with joviality in North India, specifically in Punjab

Note: Due to Ravidas Jayanti, the Election Commission had postponed the single-phase state assembly poll date of Punjab from 14 February to 20 February earlier this month.

  • The Delhi government has declared February 16 as a public holiday.

About Guru Ravidas:

  • Guru Ravidas (1377-1527 C.E.) was born in the 14th century near the holy city of Varanasi.
  • However, the exact date of the birth of Guru Ravidas is not known but it is widely believed that he was born in 1377 C.E in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.
  • According to the Hindu calendar, he was born on Magha Purnima. Therefore, his birth anniversary is observed on Magha Purnima as per the Hindu lunar calendar.
  • The saint-poet of the Bhakti movement is also known as is known by various names Raidas, Rohidas, and Ruhidas.
  • He was a poet, a spiritual figure and also, a social reformer.
  • The Ravidassia religion is said to have been founded by him.
  • His birthplace is now known as Shri Guru Ravidas Janam Asthan and it is a major place of pilgrimage for the followers of Guru Ravidas

Significance:

  • This day holds great importance to the followers of the saint.
  • Guru Ravidas was one of the first to use poetry and spiritual teachings to challenge the Indian caste system and disseminate the message of equality.
  • He advocated for equality and dignity for all, irrespective of their caste.
  • He promoted gender parity and opposed the division of society based on gender or caste.
  • He was also the spiritual guide of another prominent Bhakti movement poet -- Meera Bai.
  • He was a close friend and disciple of Sant Kabir.
  • He contributed to as many as 40 devotional poems and songs in Guru Granth Sahib.
  • The Ravidassia religion is said to have been founded by him.

How is the day celebrated?

  • A grand celebration is organized at Shri Guru Ravidas Janam Asthan Mandir, built at his birthplace in Varanasi.
  • His followers take a holy dip and offer prayers at temples dedicated to the saint.
  • On this day, the followers of Guru Ravidas read Amritbani Guru Ravidas Ji and perform special aarti in his honour.
  • A Nagar Kirtan possession is taken out on the streets.

Some Inspirational Quotes Guru Ravidas:

  • "If God actually resides in every human being, then it's quite futile to segregate persons on the basis of castes, creeds and other such hierarchical social orders."
  • "If your heart is pure, the water in your bathtub is holy water. You need not go anywhere to take a holy dip."
  • "A person is not big or small by status or birth; he is weighed by his virtues or deeds."

Tarapur Shahid Diwas: Chief Minister of Bihar Nitish Kumar recently announced that the 15th of February would now be commemorated as “Shahid Diwas”.

Key Points:

  • He announced that February 15 would be commemorated as Shahid Diwas, in honour of 34 freedom fighters that were killed in Tarapur town in Munger district of Bihar by police 90 years ago.
  • He said that these freedom fighters had never got their due, even though this was the biggest massacre carried out by the British police after Jallianwala Bagh in 1919 in Amritsar.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also referred to the Tarapur massacre in his Mann ki Baat radio address of January 2021.

Recognition:

  • In 1967, during Bihar’s first non-Congress government led by Mahamaya Prasad Sinha, the Samyukta Socialist Party MLA from Tarapur, BN Prashant, first sought recognition for the freedom fighters.
  • But it was only in 1984 that the government of Chandrashekhar Singh earmarked 100 square feet of land for a memorial in front of Thana Bhavan, and installed a marble plaque with the names of the 13 dead who are identified.
  • Under the Nitish Kumar government, 13 stone statues were erected.
  • On 15 February 2022, Chief Minister announced that another 21 statues, symbolizing the unidentified dead, would soon be erected in Tarapur.

Tarapur Massacre:

  • On February 15, 1932, a group of young freedom fighters planned to hoist an Indian national flag at Thana Bhavan in Tarapur.
  • Police were aware of the plan, and several officers were present at the spot.
  • Around 2 pm, even as the police carried out a brutal lathicharge, Gopal Singh succeeded in raising the flag at Thana Bhavan.
  • A 4,000-strong crowd pelted the police with stones, injuring an officer of the civil administration.
  • The police responded by opening indiscriminate fire on the crowd.
  • After about 75 rounds were fired, 34 bodies were found at the spot, even though there were claims of an even larger number of deaths.

What Triggered the Protest?

  • The hanging of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, and Rajguru in Lahore on March 23, 1931, sent a wave of grief and anger around the country.
  • Following the collapse of the Gandhi-Irwin Pact, the Mahatma was arrested in early 1932.
  • The Congress was declared an illegal organization, and Nehru, Patel, and Rajendra Prasad were also thrown in jail.
  • In Munger, freedom fighters Srikrishna Singh, Nemdhari Singh, Nirapad Mukherjee, Pandit Dasrath Jha, Basukinath Rai, Dinanath Sahay, and Jaymangal Shastri were arrested.
  • A call was given by the Congress leader Sardar Shardul Singh Kavishwar to raise the tricolour over government buildings resonated in Tarapur.

About Bihar:

  • Bihar is a state in East India, bordering Nepal.
  • It was formed on 22nd March 1912.
  • It is surrounded by Uttar Pradesh in the west, Nepal in the north, northern part of West Bengal in the east and Jharkhand in the south.
  • The plain is split by river Ganges flows from west to east.
  • The capital of Bihar is Patna.
  • The current Governor and the Chief Minister of Bihar are Phagu Chauhan and Nitish Kumar respectively.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Statue of Equality: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 5th February 2022 inaugurated the 'Statue of Equality' in Hyderabad to commemorate the 11th-century Hindu saint Sri Ramanujacharya.

Note:He promoted the idea of equality in all aspects of living including faith, caste and creed”.

Key Points about the Statue of Equality:

  • The Statue is made of 'panchaloha', a combination of five metals: gold, silver, copper, brass, and zinc.
  • The 216-foot tall statue is among the tallest metallic sitting statues in the world.
  • The statue has been conceptualised by Sri Chinna Jeeyar Swami of Sri Ramanujacharya Ashram.
  • The statue is mounted on a 54-feet high base building named 'Bhadra Vedi'.
  • The building has floors devoted for a Vedic digital library and research centre, ancient Indian texts, a theatre, an educational gallery detailing many works of Sri Ramanujacharya.
  • It is built at Muchintal, a village in Telangana.
  • The statue is located near the Hyderabad International Airport at Shamshabad.
  • The foundation stone was laid in 2014.

The inauguration of the Statue of Equality is a part of the 12-day Sri Ramanuja Sahasrabdi Samaroham, the ongoing 1000th birth anniversary celebrations of Sri Ramanujacharya.

Why is it called the Statue of Equality?

  • Ramanuja was an advocate of social equality among all sections of people centuries ago, and encouraged temples to open their doors to everyone irrespective of caste or position in society at a time when people of many castes were forbidden from entering them.
  • He took education to those who were deprived of it.
  • His greatest contribution is the propagation of the concept of “vasudhaiva kutumbakam”, which translates as “the entire universe is one family”.

About Ramanujacharya:

  • Ramanuja (1017 - 1137 CE) also known as Ramanujacharya was a Hindu philosopher, theologian, social reformer.
  • He travelled across India, advocating equality and social justice.
  • He was born into a Tamil Brahmin Community, in a village called Sriperumbudur (present-day Tamil Nadu).
  • He was one of the most important exponents of the Sri Vaishnavism tradition within Hinduism.
  • His philosophical foundations for devotionalism were influential to the Bhakti movement.
  • He was a philosophical as well as a social reformer, displaying a catholicity that was nearly unparalleled in Hindu religious history before him.
  • He revitalized Indian philosophy and popular religion so much that nearly every aspect of Hinduism has been influenced by his work.
  • His life and works show a truly unique personality, combining contemplative insight, logical acumen, catholicity, charismatic energy, and selfless dedication to God.
  • He promoted the idea of equality in all aspects of living including faith, caste and creed”.
  • He is considered to be the inspiration for poets like Annamacharya, Bhakt Ramdas, Thyagaraja, Kabir, and Meerabai.
  • He went on to write nine scriptures known as the navaratnas, and composed numerous commentaries on Vedic scriptures.

Chintamani Padya Natakam: The Andhra Pradesh (AP) government has banned a 100-year-old play named ‘Chintamani Padya Natakam’.

Key Highlights:

  • The play 'Chintamani Padya Natakam'  has enthralled people for almost 100 years.
  • The government’s decision to ban the staging of the play was in response to the representation submitted by the members of Arya Vysya community objecting to certain dialogues and portrayal of a character in the noted Telugu play.

Objection:

  • According to this community, the original play had a social message, but over the years, it has been modified purely for entertainment.
  • The play is exhibited across the state, mainly in rural areas, during festivals and fairs.

After reviewing the contents of the play, the state government had banned it on January 17 this year.

About Chintamani Natakam:

  • Chintamani Padya Natakam’ was written in 1920 by playwright Kallakuri Narayana Rao, who was also a social reformer.
  • The play is about Chintamani, a courtesan and a devotee of Lord Krishna, who finds salvation by singing bhajans.
  • She is courted by Subbi Shetty, a businessman from the Arya Vysya community, who loses his wealth and family due to his attraction to Chintamani.

 

No-Build Zone around Monuments: Centre plans to tweak no-build zone around monument.

Key Points:

  • The 100-metre radius around centrally protected monuments where construction is prohibited could be replaced with site-specific limits to be decided by an expert committee, as the Union Culture Ministry was working on amendments to the relevant Act.
  • The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) Act, 1958, was amended in 2010 to declare the 100-metre radius of protected monuments as prohibited areas and the next 300-metre radius as regulated areas.
  • However, according to Ministry officials as well as a recent Parliamentary Standing Committee report, there was no specific reason for the 100-metre and 300-metre limits.

Amendments proposed in the AMASR Act:

  • The proposed amendment would change Section 20A of the Act, which refers to the prohibited area, to rationalize the prohibited and regulated areas.
  • Expert monument committees would decide the prohibited area around a monument.
  • These areas could be as wide as 500 metres for some sites like the Taj Mahal.
  • The amendment would also enable the ASI to act against encroachment by holding the relevant authorities liable in case of illegal buildings at a protected site.
  • This would be similar to the enforcement powers under the Indian Forest Act.

About AMASR Act, 1958:

  • The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) Act, 1958 provides for the preservation of ancient and historical monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance.
  • It also provides for the regulation of archaeological excavations and for the protection of sculptures, carvings and other like objects.
  • The Act amended in 2010 was brought about without any inputs from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

Sachindra Nath Sanyal: The 80th death anniversary of Revolutionary Sachindra Nath Sanyal was marked on February 8, 2022.

About Sachindra Nath Sanyal:

  • Sachindra Nath Sanyal (1893 – 1942) was an Indian revolutionist.
  • He was born in Benares in 1890.
  • His parents were Bengal Brahmins.
  • He was associated with the Indian Revolutionary movement.

His role in India’s struggle for Independence:

Hindustan Republican Association:

  • Sachindra along with Ram Prasad Bismil, Ashfaqulla Khan, Sachindra Nath Bakshi, Jogesh Chandra Chatterjee founded the Hindustan Republican Association (HRA) also known as Hindustan Socialist Republican Association.
  • It operated between 1924 and 1936.
  • It was created to carry out armed resistance against the British Empire in India.

Mentor:

  • He was a mentor for revolutionaries like Chandrasekhar Azad and Bhagat Singh.
  • Bhagat Singh killed Saunders who was the Assistant Superintendent of Police in 1928.
  • Bhagat Singh killed Saunders to take revenge.
  • Saunders hit Lala Lajpat Rai during a peaceful procession.
  • Lala Lajpat Rai died because of this. 

Anushilan Samiti:

  • He founded Anushilan Samiti in Patna in 1913 which was formed from the local gyms in Bengal.
  • He along with Rashbehari Bose attacked Viceroy Hardinge and injured him while he was entering the new capital of Delhi.

Ghadar Conspiracy:

  • Sanyal was closely involved in the plans for the Ghadar Conspiracy.
  • He was sentenced to life for his involvement in the conspiracy and was imprisoned at Cellular Jail.

Kakori Conspiracy:

  • He was also jailed by the British for his involvement in Kakori Conspiracy.
  • Kakori Conspiracy was a train robbery organized by the Hindustan republican Association that happened at Kakori or Kakari village near Lucknow.
  • It was done by Ram Prasad Bismil and Ashfaqullah Khan.
  • The revolutionists looted money from the train.
  • The money belonged to Indians and was being transferred to the British government treasury.

Book Titled Bandi Jeevan:

  • He wrote his book titled Bandi Jeevan (A Life of Captivity, 1922) while he was jailed in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Sanyal and Mahatma Gandhi:

  • Sanyal and Mahatma Gandhi engaged in a famous debate published in Young India between 1920 and 1924.
  • Sanyal argued against Gandhi’s gradualist approach.

Sachindra Nath Sanyal passed away in Gorakhpur Jail on 7th February 1942.

Writing With Fire: Indian documentary “Writing With Fire” has been nominated in the Best Documentary Feature category at the 94th Academy Awards.

Key Highlights:

  • The documentary is made by Delhi-based filmmakers Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh.
  • The film documents the journey of women journalists, covering the story of Khabar Lahariya, a newspaper run by Dalit women journalists, follows its chief reporter and crime reporter.
  • It chronicles their journey including the shift to digital journalism “armed with smartphones.”
  • This is India’s 1st independent production to make it to the final nomination in this category.
  • The film has already won a host of accolades including the Sundance Film Festival (US)– Special Jury Award: Impact for Change and the Sundance Film Festival (US)– Audience Award.

Other Nominees in this category:

The other four finalists in the category are

  1. Chinese-American Jessica Kingdon’s film ‘Ascension’ on the Chinese Dream.
  2. Traci A Curry and Stanley Nelson’s ‘Attica’ about the 1971 uprising at Attica prison in New York State.
  3. Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s Danish animated Afghan refugee story ‘Flee’.
  4. Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson’s ‘Summer of the Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not be Televised)’ on the 1969 Harlem cultural festival.

The awards ceremony is scheduled to be held on March 27.

Note: Previously, two documentaries set in India have won an Oscar for Best Documentary Short - ‘Smile Pinki’ and ‘Period. End Of Sentence’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hoysala temples: The Hoysala Temples of Belur, Halebid and Somnath Pura in Karnataka have been finalized for the nominations for consideration in the World Heritage Sites List for 2022-23.

Key Facts:

  • They were finalized by the Union Ministry of Culture and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
  • The nomination bid was formally submitted by India's Permanent Representative to UNESCO, Vishal V Sharma to UNESCO, Director of World Heritage, Lazare Eloundou.
  • After the submission of the dossier, the technical scrutiny will be done.
  • The site evaluation will happen around September /October 2022 and the nomination will be taken up for consideration in July-August 2023.

Key Highlights:

  • The Hoysala temples are protected monuments of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
  • Since April 15, 2014, the ‘Sacred Ensembles of the Hoysala’ are on UNESCO’s Tentative List.
  • The temples stand testimony to the rich cultural and historical heritage of India.

About Hoysala Temples:

  • The Hoysalas temples of Belur, Halebid and Somnathapur were reportedly built in the 12th-13th centuries.
  • Hoysala's building style of architecture was developed by architects under the rule of the Hoysala Empire between the 11th and 14th centuries.

Hoysaleswara temple at Halebidu

  • The Hoysaleswara temple at Halebidu was built during the reign of Hoysala King, Vishnuvardhana Hoysaleshwara, in 1121CE. It is dedicated to Shiva.
  • It was sponsored and built by merchants and wealthy citizens of Dwarasamudra.
  • The temple is well-known for more than 240 wall sculptures, running along the outer wall.

Hoysala temple at Belur:

  • The Hoysala temple at Belur, the Chennakeshava temple is devoted to Lord Vishnu.
  • It is located on the banks of the Yagachi River.
  • Its construction started in 1117 AD and was completed in 103 years.
  • Around 118 stone inscriptions have been recovered from its complex, belonging to the 1117-18th century.
  • The richly sculptured exterior of this temple includes sculptures, iconography and horizontal friezes which depict scenes from daily life, dance and music.
  • These scenes not only narrate the life of Vishnu and his reincarnations but also the epics namely Ramayana, and Mahabharata.

About Hoysala Dynasty:

  • The Hoysala Dynasty was the prominent dynasty of the Kannadiga region (which is now Karnataka, India) that ruled parts of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu between the 10th to 14th centuries AD.
  • It was founded by Nripa Kama II or Sala. Its capital initially resided at Belur, but later moved to Halebidu.
  • He was succeeded by his son Vinayaditya who was followed by his son and their sons until Veera Ballala I who died childless and was succeeded by his younger brother Vishnuvardhana Raya.
  • The Hoysala era emerged as an important period in the development of art, architecture, and religion in South India.
  • The dynasty is remembered for temple building and their three most well-known Temples are the Kesava Temple at Somanathapura, Chennakesava Temple at Belur and Hoysaleswara Temple at Halebidu.
  • The Hoysala rulers also patronized the fine arts. That patronage encouraged literature to flourish in Kannada and Sanskrit.

Vishnuvardhana Raya:

  • In the history of Hoysalas the name, Vishnuvardhana Raya holds great importance.
  • It was under King Vishnuvardhana Raya that the kingdom achieved political prominence.
  • Of his many military conquests, he is best known for winning the Gangawadi area from the Cholas in 1116.

Punaura Dham: The State Government of Bihar, Ministry of Tourism has included Punaura Dham in the Ramayana Circuit of Swadesh Darshan Scheme.

  • It has been recently included under PRASHAD Scheme of the Ministry of Tourism.

About Punaura Dham:

  • Punaura Dham is considered to be the birthplace of Goddess Sita.
  • It is spread over around 10 acres of land in Punaura village, about 5km west of Sitamarhi town.
  • The shrine compound has a Ram Janki temple, a pond called Sita Kund and a hall.

About Ramayana circuit of Swadesh Darshan Scheme:

  • The Ramayana Circuit is one among the 15 tourist circuits inaugurated by President Ramnath Kovind under the Swadesh Darshan scheme.
  • The destinations are chosen according to the places where Lord Ram is believed to have traveled across India.
  • Every circuit under the Swadesh Darshan scheme is administered by separate committees.
  • These committees are responsible for forming the blueprint of their respective circuit.
  • The 15 destinations are — Ayodhya, Shringverpur and Chitrakoot in Uttar Pradesh, Sitamarhi, Buxar and Darbhanga in Bihar, Chitrakoot in Madhya Pradesh, Nandigram in West Bengal, Mahendragiri in Odisha, Jagdalpur in Chhattisgarh, Bhadrachalam in Telangana, Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu, Hampi in Karnataka and Nashik and Nagpur in Maharashtra.

About PRASAD Scheme:

  • The scheme is a National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive (PRASAD) under the Ministry of Tourism.
  • Under the PRASAD scheme, thirteen sites have been identified for development, namely: Amritsar, Ajmer, Dwaraka, Mathura, Varanasi, Gaya, Puri, Amaravati, Kanchipuram, Vellankanni, Kedarnath, Kamakhya and Patna.
  • The PRASAD scheme focuses on the development and beautification of the identified pilgrimage destinations

Chauri Chaura  Incident: Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi recently remembered the heroes of our freedom struggle on completion of hundred years of Chauri Chaura incident.

About Chauri Chaura Incident:

  • The Chauri Chaura incident took place on 4 February 1922.
  • The incident took place at Chauri Chaura in the Gorakhpur district of the United Provinces (modern-day Uttar Pradesh) in British India.
  • A large group of protesters participating in the non-cooperation movement were fired upon by the police.
  • In retaliation the demonstrators attacked and set fire to a police station, killing all of its occupants.
  • Mahatma Gandhi, who was strictly against violence, halted the non-cooperation movement on the national level on 12 February 1922, as a direct result of this incident.

Lunar New Year 2022: Lunar New Year 2022 commonly known as Chinese New Year falls on 1 February 2022.

Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year marks the transition between zodiac signs.

Highlights:

  • Celebrations will culminate with the Lantern Festival on 15 February 2022.
  • It is celebrated by Chinese communities across the world.

History:

  • As per historians, New Year in China has been celebrated for years and dates back to almost the 14th century. According to legend, a monster named Nian terrorized people in ancient times.
  • But, he was very afraid of the red colour, the sound, and the sight of firecrackers.
  • So, people began to use these things to scare him away and started celebrating Chinese New Year.

Key Points:

  • On the traditional lunisolar and solar Chinese calendars, it is a festival commemorating the start of the New Year.
  • This holiday is known as Spring Festival in Chinese and other East Asian countries.
  • The celebration heralds the conclusion of the winter season and the start of the spring season.
  • Its celebrations generally begin on New Year's Eve.
  • The first day of the Chinese New Year starts on the new moon, appearing between January 21 and February 20 according to the Chinese Zodiac, also known as "Shengxiao."
  • We are assigned a powerful animal known as Shuxiang based on the year we were born.

About Chinese Calender:

  • The Chinese calendar is a combination of solar and lunar movements, therefore, the New Year arrives on a different date every year.
  • Each consecutive year is associated with one of the 12 zodiac animals including a rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. This year the zodiac animal is the Tiger.
  • These twelve Chinese animal signs are represented by the Twelve Earthly Branches.
  • According to the Chinese Zodiac, The year 2022 is the year of Tiger.

Celebrations of Lunar New Year in countries:

  • Across Asia, countries celebrate their own New Year with their own names and it coincides with the festival in China.
  • In China, the festival is known as the Spring Festival and it marks the beginning of the new season.
  • The Vietnamese celebrate it as Tet.
  • Tibetans celebrate it as Losar.
  • In South Korea, it is known as Seollal and it marks the first day of the Korean calendar.
  • In Mongolia, it is celebrated as Tsagaan Sar and marks the first day in the Mongolian Lunisolar calendar.
  • Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, and other countries also celebrate the festival.

Torgya Festival: The Monpa tribal group of Arunachal Pradesh holds a three-day Torgya Festival at Tawang Monastery, Arunachal Pradesh.

Key Highlights:

  • The main attraction of the festival is the ‘Sha-na Cham’, the ritual dance performed by monks to showcase the Choe-Gyal Yap & Yum Tsa-Munde deity.
  • This year is the ‘Dungyur Torgya’ festival, which marks a special occasion as every 3rd year.
  • The festival is organized on a broader level with the name Dungyur Festival during which Dalai Lama offers blessings (also known as Tse-Boom) to other lamas by sending Feb Jum which is a holy item to be used in rituals.

About Torgya Festival:

  • Torgya, also known as Tawang-Torgya, is an annual event conducted solely in Tawang Monastery in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • It is a Monpa celebration that takes place on the Buddhist calendar days of the 28th and 30th of Dawachukchipa, which correspond to the 10th and 12th of January in the Gregorian calendar.
  • The festival's goal is to ward off external violence as well as safeguard people from natural disasters.
  • At Tawang Monastery in Arunachal Pradesh, the Monpa ethnic group of Arunachal Pradesh celebrates the three-day Torgya Festival.
  • The festival's major feature is the 'Sha-na Cham,' a ritual dance performed by monks to honor Choe-Gyal Yap and Yum Tsa-Munde deities.
  • During the three-day Torgya festival, costumed dances are held in the courtyard of the Monastery with the objective of removing evil spirits and ushering in all-around prosperity and happiness to the people in the ensuing year.
  • Each dance represents a myth and costumes and masks represent animal forms such as cows, tigers, sheep, monkeys and so forth.
  • The first day’s festival is called Torgya and involves worship of the image created especially for the occasion.

NHRC’s Short Film Award Competition: Telugu short film 'Street Student' by Akula Sandeep bagged the first prize in a competition organized by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

 Key Highlights:

  • The short film 'Street Student' depicts the story of a street urchin with a strong message on right to education was selected for the first prize worth Rs 2 lakh in the seventh Short Film Award Competition.
  • It is in Telugu with subtitles in English.
  • The film shows the story of a street urchin to send across a strong message on right to education and how society needs to support it.
  • The second prize worth Rs 1.5 lakh went to, ‘Karfew’ by Romi Meitei.
  • The film, through the story of a child in Manipur, pitches in hope for a better world, wherein people’s right to life, liberty, dignity and equality can be protected against odds including stereotyped fear psychosis.
  • It is in the Meiteilon language with subtitles in English.

About National Human Rights Commission (NHRC):

  • The NHRC of India is a Statutory public body constituted on 12 October 1993 under the Protection of Human Rights Ordinance of 28 September 1993.
  • It is a statutory organization established under the Protection of Human Rights Act (PHRA), 1993 as amended by the Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Act, 2006.
  • It is in conformity with the Paris Principles, adopted at the first international workshop on national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights held in Paris in October 1991, and endorsed by the General Assembly of the United Nations by its Regulations 48/134 of 20 December 1993.
  • The NHRC is an embodiment of India’s concern for the promotion and protection of human rights.
  • It is headquartered in New Delhi.

Functions:

  • The NHRC is responsible for the protection and promotion of human rights, defined by the Act as "Rights Relating To Life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants and enforceable by courts in India".
  • The purpose of the NHRC is, suo moto or through the petition of a person, to investigate the violation of human rights or the failures of the state or other to prevent a human rights violation.
  • The commissions may also take on research about human rights, create awareness campaigns through various mediums, and encourage the work of NGOs.

Composition:

  • The NHRC consists of a Chairperson, four full-time Members and four deemed Members.
  • A Chairperson should be retired Chief Justice of India or a Judge of the Supreme Court.

Appointment:

  • Section 2 Sections 3 and 4 of TPHRA lay down the rules for appointment to the NHRC.
  • The Chairperson and members of the NHRC are appointed by the President of India, on the recommendation of a committee consisting of:
  1. The Prime Minister (Chairperson)
  2. The Home Minister
  3. The Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha (Lower House)
  4. The Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha (Upper House)
  5. The Speaker of the Lok Sabha (Lower House)
  6. The Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha (Upper House)

Note: Justice Ranganath Misra was the first chairperson of NHRC from 1993 till 1996.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pandit Jasraj Cultural Foundation: Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi recently paid rich tribute to Pandit Jasraj on the occasion of the Jayanti of the doyen of Indian Classical Music.

About:

  • On this occasion, PM Modi launched the Pandit Jasraj Cultural Foundation.
  • PM Modi while speaking at the launch of the Pandit Jasraj Cultural Foundation via video conferencing talked of the personification of immortal energy of music by Pandit Jasraj.
  • He lauded Durga Jasraj and Pandit Shaarang Dev for keeping alive the glorious legacy of the maestro.
  • He said that the World is entitled to benefit from Indian music like they have from Yoga and that like Yoga, Indian music too has the capacity to stir the depth of the human mind and the world is entitled to be benefited from it.

About Pandit Jasraj:

  • Pandit Jasraj (28 January 1930 – 17 August 2020) was an Indian classical vocalist.
  • He belonged to the Mewati Gharana.
  • His career in music spanned over 80 years resulting in national and international fame.
  • He has taught music in and outside India such as Canada and the US. He died on August 17, 2020, at his home in New Jersey, USA, due to cardiac arrest. 
  • He received several accolades including the prestigious Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan, and Padma Vibhushan.
  • In 2006, Asteroid 300128 was discovered by astronomers with the Mount Lemmon Survey and was named in his honour- Panditjasraj.
  • The legendary classical vocalist passed away at the age of 90 on August 17, 2020.

Dhaka International Film Festival: India's film Koozhangal from India won the best film award in the Asian Film Competition section at the 20th Dhaka International Film Festival.

Key Highlights:

  • The film Koozhangal has been directed by P S Vinothraj.
  • The awards were given away by the Information and Broadcasting Minister of Bangladesh Hasan Mahmud as Chief Guest during the concluding session organized at the National Museum auditorium in Dhaka.

The list of the award for different categories is:

  • The best actor award was given to Jayasurya for Ranjith Sankar-directed film Sunny.
  • The Best Script Writer Award went to Indranil Roychowdhury and Sugata Sinha for Indranil Roychowdhury-directed India-Bangladesh film Mayar Jonjal.
  • The special audience award was given to Aimee Baruah Directed the film Semkhor.
  • Sujit Bidari directed the film Aina Jhyal Ko Putali from Nepal got the best director award.
  • In the Women film maker’s section, the best feature film award was given to Maryam Bahrololumi directed the film Shahrbanoo (Lady from the City) from Iran.
  • Two Bangladeshi films, Nurul Alam Atique directed Lal Moroger Jhuti and N Rashed Chowdhury directed Chandrabati Kotha got the Audience Award.

Goat Head Yogini: Culture Minister G Kishan Reddy announced that a 10th century stone idol of Goat Head Yogini which was discovered in England is being returned to India.

Key Facts:

  • The sculpture, which is part of a Yogini set from Lokhari Temple in the Banda district of Bundelkhand, will now be dispatched to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in New Delhi.
  • The idol had been illegally removed from a temple in Lokhari, Banda, Uttar Pradesh.
  • Earlier, the High Commission of India in London announced the recovery and repatriation of the 10th century stone idol that had been illegally removed.
  • The sculpture was that of a goat-headed Yogini that originally belonged to a group of stone deities in sandstone and was installed in Lokhari temple.
  • The goat-headed Yogini went missing from Lokhari in the 1980s and had briefly surfaced in the art market in London in 1988.

Background:

  • In October 2021, the High Commission of India had received information about the finding of a goat-headed Yogini Sculpture that had matched the description of the Lokhari set, in the garden of a private residence near London.

About Yoginis:

  • Yoginis are a group of powerful female divinities associated with the Tantric mode of worship.
  • They are worshipped as a group, often 64, and are believed to possess infinite powers.

Unsung Women Freedom Fighters: As a part of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, the Union Minister of State for Culture, Meenakshi Lekhi recently released a pictorial comic book titled ‘India’s Women Unsung Heroes’.

Key Points:

  • It has been released as a tribute to the forgotten women freedom fighters of the country who led the charge and lit the flame of rebellion throughout the country.
  • It contains stories of queens who battled imperialism and dedicated their lives to Motherland India.
  • The book has been prepared by the Ministry of Culture in partnership with Amar Chitra Katha.
  • Amar Chitra Katha is an Indian publisher of Indian comics and graphic novels.
  • The book celebrates the lives of 75 unsung women freedom fighters of India, including Rani Abbakka,  Matangini Hazra, Gulab Kaur, Velu Nachiyar, Padmaja Naidu, Jhalkari Bai, Durgabhai Deshmukh, among others.

Some of the key leaders covered include:

Rani Abbakka Chowta:

  • Rani Abbakka Chowta thwarted Portuguese attacks for several decades.
  • She was the first Tuluva Queen of Ullal who fought the Portuguese in the latter half of the 16th century.
  • She belonged to the Chowta dynasty and ruled over parts of coastal Karnataka (Tulu Nadu), India.
  • Their capital was Puttige.

 Matangini Hazra:

  • Matangiri Hazra was a freedom fighter from Bengal who laid down her life in the struggle.
  • She participated in the Indian independence movement until she was shot dead by the British Indian police in front of the Tamluk Police Station (of erstwhile Midnapore District) on 29 September 1942.
  • She was affectionately known as Gandhi buri, Bengali for old lady Gandhi.
  • In 1930, she took part in the Civil Disobedience movement and was arrested for breaking the Salt Act.

 Gulab Kaur:

  • She fought against British rule after abandoning her own dreams of a life abroad.
  • In Manila, Gulab Kaur joined Ghadar Party, an organization founded by Indian immigrants with the aim to liberate the Indian Subcontinent from British Rule.

Velu Nachiyar:

  • Velu Nachiyar was the first Indian queen to wage war against the East India Company.
  • She was a queen of Sivaganga estate from 1780–1790.
  • She is known by Tamils as Veeramangai (“brave woman”).
  • She fought the East India Company with the support of Haider Alis Army, feudal lords, marudhu brothers, Dalit commanders and thandavarayan pillai.

Padmaja Naidu:

  • Padmaja Naidu was the daughter of Sarojini Naidu and a freedom fighter.
  • She was also a politician who was the 5th Governor of West Bengal from 3 November 1956 to 1 June 1967.
  • At the age of 21, she co-founded the Indian National Congress in the Nizam ruled the princely state of Hyderabad.
  • She was jailed for taking part in the “Quit India” movement in 1942.
  • After Independence, she was elected to the Indian Parliament in 1950.

Jhalkari Bai:

  • Jhalkari Bai was a soldier and adviser to the Rani of Jhansi who played an important role in the Indian Rebellion of 1857.
  • At the height of the Siege of Jhansi, she disguised herself as the queen and fought on her behalf, on the front, allowing the queen to escape safely out of the fort.

Chakali Ilamma:

  • Chakali Ilamma's act of defiance against the local zamindar inspired many during the rebellion in Telangana region.

 

Arts Current Affairs - January 2022

International Folk Art Festival: A young Lavni artist Sumit Bhale from Maharashtra has won a gold medal at the International Folk Art Festival in Dubai.

Key Highlights:

  • Bhale from Pathri of Fulbari taluka led the entire state of Maharashtra in the International Folk Art Festival held in Dubai.
  • With his splendid performance, Maharashtra’s splendor has been widely appreciated on the international platform.

About Lavani:

  • Lavani is a genre of music popular in Maharashtra, India.
  • It is a combination of traditional song and dance, which is particularly performed to the beats of Dholki, a percussion instrument.
  • It is noted for its powerful rhythm.
  • It has contributed substantially to the development of Marathi folk theatre.

Ravidassia: The Election Commission of India (ECI) recently postponed polling for the Punjab Assembly election to February 20.

Key Highlights:

  • The postponement of the Assembly elections in Punjab underlines the importance of the Ravidassia community in the state.
  • Several political parties had urged the Election Commission for a postponement as the earlier date of February 14 would have clashed with Guru Ravidas Jayanti.
  • Their concern was that many devotees would be in Varanasi (in a memorial temple) to celebrate Guru Ravidas’s birth anniversary on 16th February and miss out on voting.
  • Guru Ravidas’s birth anniversary is celebrated on Magh Purnima, the full moon day in the month of Magh according to the Hindu lunar calendar.
  • Many of them take a special train organized by the Dera Sachkhand Ballan in Jalandhar, the largest dera of the Ravidassias.

About Ravidassias:

  • The Ravidassias are a Dalit community of whom the bulk — nearly 12 lakh — live in the Doaba region.
  • The Dera Sachkhand Ballan, their largest dera with 20 lakh followers worldwide, was founded in the early 20th century by Baba Sant Pipal Das.
  • Once closely connected with Sikhism, the dera severed these decades-old ties in 2010 and announced they would follow the Ravidassia religion.
  • The announcement was made by the dera on Guru Ravidas Jayanti in Varanasi.
  • From 2010, the Dera Sachkhand Ballan started replacing the Guru Granth Sahib with its own Granth, Amritbani, carrying 200 hymns of Guru Ravidas, in Ravidassia temples and gurdwaras.

About Guru Ravidas:

  • Guru Ravidas also known as Raidas was a mystic poet-saint of the Bhakti Movement from the 15th and 16th centuries.
  • He was a poet, social reformer and spiritual figure.
  • He founded the Ravidassia religion.
  • It is believed that he was born in Varanasi in a cobbler’s family in 1450 CE.
  • He was born in the village of Sir Gobardhan, near Varanasi in what is now Uttar Pradesh, India.
  • His birthplace is now known as Shri Guru Ravidass Janam Asthan.
  • He dedicated his whole life to the abolition of the caste system and openly despised the notion of a Brahminical society.
  • He taught the removal of social divisions of caste and gender and promoted unity in the pursuit of personal spiritual freedom.
  • His devotional songs made an instant impact on the Bhakti Movement.
  • Around 41 of his poems were included in ‘Guru Granth Sahib’, the religious text of the Sikhs.
  • He is one of thirty-six contributors to this foremost canonical scripture of Sikhism.
  • Ravidas's poetry covers topics such as the definition of a just state where there are no second or third-class unequal citizens, the need for dispassion, and who is a real Yogi.

Kohima War Cemetry: Kohima War Cemetery in Nagaland has been listed among Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) 5 Sites with Unusual Features.

Key Points:

  • The cemetery has been identified as the only cemetery on the globe which incorporates of a tennis court.
  • Nagaland’s capital Kohima is home to this unique cemetery.
  • The other four unusual sites listed by CWGC are the World War I “crater cemeteries” – Zivy Crater and Litchfield Crater – in the Pas de Calais region in France (These craters were caused by mine explosions).
  • Another site listed is the Nicosia (Waynes Keep) Cemetery or the “cemetery in no man’s land” in Cyprus, requiring the presence of armed guards. This is because the cemetery is on the border of a patch of land disputed between the southern and northern parts of the island since the 1970s.
  • These sites are associated with World War I and World War II.

About Kohima War Cemetery:

  • The Kohima War Cemetery is one of 23,000 World War graves across the continents maintained by the CWGC.
  • It is a memorial dedicated to soldiers of the 2nd British Division of the Allied Forces who died in the Second World War at Kohima, the capital of Nagaland, India, in April 1944.
  • The soldiers died on the battleground of Garrison Hill in the tennis court area of the Deputy Commissioner's residence.
  • According to the CWGC, there are 1,420 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War at this cemetery, and a memorial to an additional 917 Hindu and Sikh soldiers who were cremated in accordance with their faith.
  • Designer Colin St. Clair Oakes incorporated the tennis court into the design of the cemetery.
  • The memorial was inaugurated by Field Marshal Sir William Slim, then Commander of the 14th Army in Burma.

History:

  • On April 3, 1944, a Japanese force of 15,000 had attacked Kohima and its 2,500 strong garrisons.
  • The ridges at Kohima lead to two weeks of difficult, bloody fighting as the defending forces were pushed back to the former house of the British Deputy Commissioner.
  • The lawn of this aforementioned house incorporated a tennis court where the British officers played for recreation.
  • “The surviving defenders, encamped around the garden tennis court, prepared for their final stand.
  • Finally, in May the Japanese force withdrew.

About CWGC:

  • Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s (CWGC) is an intergovernmental organization of six member-states.
  • It was founded by Sir Fabian Ware and constituted through the Royal Charter in 1917 as the Imperial War Graves Commission; later in the 1960s changed its name to CWGC.
  • Its principal function is to mark records and maintain the graves and places of commemoration of Commonwealth of Nations military service members who died in the two World Wars.
  • It is also responsible for commemorating Commonwealth civilians who died as a result of enemy action during the Second World War.

Golden Globes 2022: The most awaited award night, Golden Globe Awards 2022, took place online on January 9, 2022.

Key Highlights:

The winners of the Golden Globe Awards 2022 were announced on January 10, 2021, by Hollywood Foreign Press Association in a private ceremony.

The nominations were announced on December 13, 2021, by rapper Snoop Dogg and HFPA president Helen Hoehne.

This year, the events were not televised or live streamed and did not involve any celebrity presenter or nominee and had no red carpet.

The previous year, 2021, saw a plethora of content make its way to both OTT platforms and theatres. Various films and shows turned out to be record-breaking and were much lauded by the audience.

The HFPA, therefore, honoured the most talented content at the Golden Globes 2022.

The Power Of The Dog, Succession and more made historic wins.

Here is a list of winners in key categories:

Movies:

  • Best Drama: 'The Power Of The Dog'
  • Best Comedy Or Musical: 'West Side Story'
  • Best Actor, Drama: Will Smith, 'King Richard'
  • Best Actress, Drama: Nicole Kidman, 'Being The Ricardos'
  • Best Actor, Comedy Or Musical: 'Andrew Garfield,' 'Tick, Tick... Boom!'
  • Best Actress, Comedy Or Musical: Rachel Zegler, 'West Side Story'
  • Best Director: Jane Campion, 'The Power Of The Dog'
  • Best Animated Film: 'Encanto'
  • Best Non-English Language Film: 'Drive My Car'

Television Awards:

  • Best Television Series - Drama: Succession
  • Best Actor - Drama: Jeremy Strong (Succession)
  • Best Actress - Drama: Michaela Jae (Mj) Rodriguez (Pose)
  • Best Television Series - Musical/Comedy: Hacks
  • Best Actor - Musical/Comedy: Jason Sudeikis (Ted Lasso)
  • Best Actress - Musical/Comedy: Jean Smart (Hacks)
  • Best Supporting Actor in Television: O Yeong-Su (Squid Game)
  • Best Supporting Actress in Television: Sarah Snook (Succession)
  • Best Limited Series or Television Film: The Underground Railroad (Amazon Prime Video)
  • Best Actress in a Limited Series or Television Film: Kate Winslet (Mare Of Easttown)

About Golden Globes Award:

  • The Golden Globe Awards are accolades bestowed by the 87 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) beginning in January 1944.
  • It recognizes excellence in both American and international film and television.
  • Within the entertainment industry, the Golden Globes are considered second in importance both to the Academy Awards (for film) and to the Emmy Awards (for television), and the televised awards ceremony is a comparably lavish affair.
  • Golden Globe winners receive a statuette consisting of a globe encircled by a strip of film.

About HFPA:

  • The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) is a non-profit organization of journalists and photographers who report on the entertainment industry activity and interests in the United States for media (newspaper, magazine and book publication, television and radio broadcasting) predominantly outside the U.S.
  • The HFPA was founded in 1943 by Los Angeles-based foreign journalists seeking to develop a better-organized process of gathering and distributing cinema news to non-U.S. markets.
  • It consists of about 90 members from approximately 55 countries with a combined following of more than 250 million.
  • One of the organization's first major endeavors was to establish a ceremony similar to the Academy Awards to honor film achievements.
  • The 1st Golden Globe Awards, honoring the best achievements in 1943 filmmaking, were held in January 1944, at the 20th Century-Fox studios.

 

Makar Sankranti 2022: Makar Sankranti was recently celebrated in India on the 14th of January 2022.

Surya Namaskar Demonstration Programme:

  • Surya Namaskar Demonstration programme was organized by the Ministry of AYUSH on 14 January 2022 for 75 lakh people globally on Makar Sankranti to commemorate the journey of the Sun to the Northern Hemisphere.
  • This occasion commemorates thanksgiving to 'Mother Nature' for bestowing health, wealth, and happiness.
  • Exposure to the Sun further provides the human body with Vitamin D, which has been widely recommended in all medical branches around the world.

Key Facts:

  • Makar Sankranti or Uttarayan or Maghi or simply Sankranti has its own historical and religious significance in India. 
  • It is a festival day in the Hindu calendar, dedicated to the deity Surya (sun).
  • On this auspicious day, the Sun enters the Capricorn zodiac which corresponds with the month of January as per the Gregorian calendar.
  • It marks the first day of the sun's transit into Makara rashi (Capricorn), marking the end of the month with the winter solstice and the start of longer days.
  • It is the date from which the northward movement of the sun begins.
  • The period from Karka Sankranti to Makar Sankranti is known as the Dakshinayan.
  • Usually, the festival is celebrated on January 14, but in some exceptions, it takes place of January 15.
  • Makar Sankranti is one of the few ancient Indian festivals that have been observed according to solar cycles, while most festivals are set by the lunar cycle of the lunisolar Hindu calendar.
  • It is the date from which the northward movement of the sun begins.
  • The period from Karka Sankranti to Makar Sankranti is known as the Dakshinayan.
  • The festival also marks the end of winter and the beginning of a new harvest season.
  • The harvest festival is celebrated throughout India, although under different names and traditions.
  • They are as follows:
  • Magh Bihu in Assam,
  • Maghi (preceded by Lohri) in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, popular amongst both the Hindus and Sikhs,
  • Sukarat in central India,
  • Thai Pongal in Tamil Nadu,
  • Makar Sankramana in Karnataka,
  • Uttarayan in Gujarat where the famous kite festival is organized on this day.
  • Khichidi Sankranti in Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh,
  • Ghughuti in Uttarakhand,
  • Makara Sankranti in Odisha, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Goa,
  • Paush Parbon in West Bengal (also called Poush Sankranti),
  • Sankranthi in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana,
  • Saen-kraat in Kashmir,
  • Sukaraat in Madhya Pradesh.
  • On this day, devotees take a holy dip in rivers like Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Cauvery and Krishna.
  • The bathing is believed to result in merit or absolution of past sins and it is also considered a time of peace and prosperity and many spiritual practices are conducted on this day.

Kumbh Mela:

Every 12 years, along with Makar Sankranti celebrations, the Kumbh Mela also takes place, which is one of the world’s largest mass privileges.

Significance:

  • This ancient Indian festival is considered holy, auspicious, and important for spiritual practices.

Popularly referred to as til-gud, sesame and jaggery laddoos or chikkis are distributed on this day.

The sweet signifies that people must stay together in peace and harmony despite their differences.

  • The festival has multiple traditions and legends attached to it.
  • According to one popular legend, this festival originated because people were celebrating a demon’s downfall.
  • As per the story, a particularly murderous demon named Sankarasur who tortured and killed humans for no particular reason was vanquished by a Goddess named Sankranti. Ever since then, Hindus have held this festival in her name.
  • One main tradition is kite-flying under the sun. People believe this practice cleanses bodies of infections and germs after a long winter.
  • Across many parts of India, this season means the early stages of the agricultural cycle, when crops have been sown and the hard work in the fields is almost complete.
  • Therefore, this time signifies a period of socializing and families enjoying each other’s company.

Thiruvalluvar Day: Thiruvalluvar Day is celebrated by the State of Tamil Nadu in honour of the Saint Poet Thiruvalluvar.

Key Highlights:

  • It is celebrated during Pongal celebrations.
  • Every year, the day is celebrated on the 2nd day of the Thai month.
  • This day was first celebrated on May 17 and 18 in 1935.
  • This year it was observed on 15th January as part of Pongal celebrations.
  • The Puducherry Government also complies with this regulation.

About Thiruvalluvar:

  • Little is known about Thiruvalluvar's life.
  • Different sources gave different dates. Czech scholars like Kamil Zvelebil deduced that he lived around 500 CE while Maraimalai Adigal deduced that his birth year was 31 BC.
  • Thiruvalluvar, commonly known as Valluvar, is a poet and Philosopher.
  • Mahatma Gandhi was greatly inspired by Thirukkural
  • He is regarded as a cultural icon by Tamils.
  • He is known for his book Thirukkural.
  • The book is also called the fifth Veda or ‘Bible of the Tamil Land’.
  • The Tamil poet Mamulanar of the Sangam period has mentioned that Thiruvalluvar was the greatest Tamil scholar.

About Thirukkural:

  • Thirukkural is a collection of couplets on political and economic matters, ethics and love.
  • The text is considered an exceptional and widely cherished work of Tamil literature.
  • The work consists of 1330 couplets, divided into 13 parts, each part has 10 couplets.
  • The text is divided into three parts with teachings on dharma, artha, and kama (virtue, wealth and love).
  • Thirukkural has been translated into many international and Indian languages.

Social Significance of Thiruvalluvar:

  • In the early 16th century, a temple dedicated to Thiruvalluvar was built within the Ekambareswarar temple complex in Mylapore, Chennai.
  • Locals believe that this was where he was born, underneath a tree within the temple complex.
  • In 1976, a temple-memorial called Valluvar Kotam was built in Chennai.
  • It houses one of the largest auditoriums in Asia.
  • A 133-foot tall statue of Thiruvalluvar stands at Kanyakumari as well.
  • In 2009, another statue of this legendary Tamil poet was unveiled in Ulsoor, near Bengaluru.
  • A statue of Valluvar was also erected outside the School of Oriental and African Studies in Russell Square, London (United Kingdom).

History of Thiruvalluvar Day:

  • The resolution to celebrate Thiruvalluvar Day was passed on January 17, 1935.
  • The resolution was passed by Kali Sivakannuswami Pillai and Padmashri Suppayya.
  • The first Thiruvalluvar Day was celebrated in May 1935.
  • Later the Thiruvalluvar day celebrations began to fade away.
  • In 1954, an Elam scholar of Sri Lanka took efforts to celebrate the day. Today the day is celebrated widely in Tamil Nadu, Sri Lanka and Myanmar.

Marathi Signboard: The Government of Maharashtra recently introduced a new rule in the state.

Key Points:

  • The new rule stated that all small shops and establishments need to display Marathi signboards in the Devanagari script.
  • The amendment also mandates that the font of the Marathi-Devanagari script cannot be smaller than the font of other scripts.
  • In case of violation, action can be initiated as per the provision in Shops Act, 2017.
  • On 12 January 2022, the Maha Vikas Aghadi (Sena-NCP-Congress) cleared an amendment in the Maharashtra Shops and Establishment (Regulation of Employment and Condition of Service) Act, 2017 in the cabinet which seeks to cover shops and establishments with less than 10 workers.
  • The decision covers all sorts of establishments like offices, grocery shops, hotels, restaurants, bars and theaters.

About Marathi:

  • Marathi is an Indo-Aryan language predominantly spoken by Marathi people in the Indian state of Maharashtra.
  • The language descended from the Mahārāṣṭrī Prākrit, Marathi has significant literature.
  • Marathi Books are printed in Devanāgarī script.
  • It is the official language of Maharashtra, and a co-official language in Goa and the union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu.
  • In 1966 it became the official language of the state of Maharashtra.
  • It is one of the 22 scheduled languages of India, with 83 million speakers as of 2011.
  • The Government of Maharashtra has submitted an application to the Ministry of Culture to grant classical language status to Marathi.
  • Marathi has the third-largest number of native speakers in India, after Hindi and Bengali.
  • The major dialects of Marathi are Standard Marathi and the Varhadi dialect.
  • Marathi distinguishes inclusive and exclusive forms of 'we' and possesses a three-way gender system, which features the neuter in addition to the masculine and the feminine.

Note: Marathi Day is celebrated on 27 February, the birthday of the poet Kusumagraj (Vishnu Vaman Shirwadkar).

 

Hindi Descriptions of India’s World Heritage Sites: UNESCO's World Heritage Centre has agreed to publish Hindi descriptions of India's UNESCO World Heritage Sites on its website on the occasion of World Hindi Day.

  • The permanent delegation of India to UNESCO announced that on the occasion of World Hindi Day, UNESCO's World Heritage Centre has agreed to publish Hindi descriptions of India's UNESCO World Heritage Sites on WHC (Vishwa Dharohar Samiti) website.

Significance of this move by UNESCO:

  • Hindi plays an important role in spreading India's knowledge and culture due to its simplicity.
  • There has been an increase in its use in the field of information technology recently.
  • The move will be a major boost for India's move towards the goal of taking Hindi to the world stage.

About World Hindi Day 2022:

  • World Hindi Day 2022 was celebrated virtually on 10 January 2022.
  • The event was organized by the Permanent Delegation of UNESCO.
  • During the event, the Minister of State for External Affairs and Culture Meenakshi Lekhi gave a video message and emphasized the significance of Hindi.
  • The messages by Prime Minister Modi stated that Hindi plays a significant role in spreading our knowledge and culture because of its simplicity and also the messages by the External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar were also read out.
  • World Hindi Day (Vishwa Hindi Diwas) is observed on January 10 to mark the anniversary of the first World Hindi Conference that took place in 1975 in Nagpur, Maharashtra.

Additional Info:

UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites in India

  • Ajanta and Ellora Caves and Elephanta Caves in Maharashtra
  • Agra Fort, Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri in Agra, Uttar Pradesh
  • Sun Temple, Konark in Puri District, Odisha
  • Group of Monuments of Mahabalipuram in Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu
  • Churches and Convents of Goa in Goa
  • Khajuraho, Group of Monuments in Madhya Pradesh
  • Group of Monuments at Hampi  Vijayanagara district in Karnataka
  • Group of Monuments at Pattadakal Bagalkot District, Karnataka
  • Great Living Chola Temples in Tamil Nadu
  • Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi in Madhya Pradesh
  • Humayun’s Tomb, Qutub Minar and its monuments in Delhi
  • Kaziranga National Park and Manas Wildlife Sanctuary in Assam
  • Keoladeo National Park in Rajasthan
  • Sundarbans National Park in West Bengal
  • Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Park in Uttarakhand
  • Mountain Railways of India in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh
  • Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya, Bihar
  • Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh
  • Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Maharashtra
  • Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park in Gujarat
  • Red Fort Complex in Delhi
  • Jantar Mantar in Jaipur
  • Western Ghats of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra
  • Hill Forts of Rajasthan in Rajasthan
  • Rani ki Vav in Gujarat
  • Great Himalayan National Park in Himachal Pradesh
  • Archaeological Site of Nalanda  Mahavihara at Nalanda, Bihar
  • Khangchendzonga National Park in Sikkim
  • The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier in Chandigarh
  • Historic City of Ahmadabad, Gujarat
  • The Victorian and Art Deco Ensemble in Maharashtra
  • Kakatiya Rudreshwara Temple in Telangana
  • Dholavira: A Harappan city in Gujarat

 

Veer Baal Diwas: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 9 January 2022 announced that December 26 will be observed as “Veer Baal Diwas” as a tribute to the Sikh guru's two sons who were executed by the Mughals.

Key Points:

  • He made this announcement of the occasion of the birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh.
  • Veer Baal Diwas’ will be observed on the same day Sahibzada Zorawar Singh Ji and Sahibzada Fateh Singh Ji attained martyrdom after being sealed alive in a wall.
  • The announcement comes a day after the poll dates for Assembly elections in five states were declared. Punjab, where the Sikh community is in majority, is also going to the polls.

About Sahibzada Zorawar Singh Ji and Sahibzada Fateh Singh Ji:

  • The young and innocent boys, Sahibzada (Prince) Zorawar Singh and Sahibzada Fateh Singh were just 9 and 7 years old respectively when they attained martyrdom on 26, December 1705.
  • Jorawar and Fateh were the sons of Guru Govind Singhji.
  • Sahibzada Jorawar Singh was born on November 1696 and was the third of Guru Gobind Singh's four sons while Sahibzada Fateh Singh was born in Anandpur Sahib on 12 December 1699, the fourth son of Mata Jito, Guru Gobind Singh's first wife.
  • They were offered safe passage if they became Muslims. Both refused, and so Wazir Khan who was the Mughal Governor of Sirhind sentenced them to death by torturing them and bricking them alive.
  • Both the great Prince preferred death instead of deviating from the noble principles of Dharma.
  • The bravery and ideals of Mata Gujri, Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, and the 4 Sahibzades give strength to millions of people.
  • They never bowed to injustice.
  • They envisioned a world that is inclusive and harmonious.
  • The place where the two children of Guru Gobind Singh were bricked alive is today known as Fatehgarh Sahib.

Guru Gobind Singh Jayanti:

  • Guru Gobind Singh Jayanti is celebrated every year to mark the birth anniversary of the 10th Sikh Guru Gobind Singh.
  • The year 2022 is the 355th birth anniversary of the Sikh guru.
  • The day was observed on 9 January.
  • The auspicious occasion is also known as the Prakash Parv.
  • The occasion falls on different dates every year and it depends on the Nanakshahi calendar of Sikhs.

How is this auspicious day celebrated?

  • On this day, Sikhs all across the world send greetings to each other and vow to follow the teachings of Guru Govind Singh.
  • Gurudwaras around the world are illuminated and Langars are Set up to serve people on this day.
  • On this occasion, Guru Nanak Guru Vani is also narrated at many places to motivate his followers to walk on the path shown by him.

About Guru Govind Singh Ji:

  • Guru Gobind Singh Ji, born as Gobind Rai, was the tenth Sikh Guru, a spiritual leader, warrior, poet, and philosopher.
  • He was the only son of Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Sikh guru, and Mata Gujri.
  • He was born in Patna on 22 December 1666, Bihar in the Sodhi Khatri family
  • He formally became the leader and protector of the Sikhs at the age of nine after his father, Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Sikh Guru, was killed by Aurangzeb for refusing to convert to Islam.
  • His four sons died during his lifetime – two in battle, two executed by the Mughal army.

Contributions:

  • Among his notable contributions to Sikhism is founding the Sikh warrior community called Khalsa in 1699.
  • He introduced the Five Ks, the five articles of faith that Khalsa Sikhs wear at all times.
  • They are Kesh (unshorn hair and beard since the Sikh decided to keep it), kangha (a comb for the kesh, usually wooden), kara (a bracelet, usually made of iron or steel, but sometimes gold), kachera (a white undergarment,), and kirpan (a small curved sword of any size, shape or material).
  • Guru Gobind Singh is credited with the Dasam Granth whose hymns are a sacred part of Sikh prayers and Khalsa rituals.
  • He is also credited as the one who finalized and enshrined the Guru Granth Sahib as Sikhism's primary scripture and eternal Guru.
  • He serves as an inspiration to millions of Sikhs globally.
  • He preached peace and equality among all.
  • He was against the caste system that was prevalent in India.
  • He also voiced against all kinds of superstitions that held back society.

 

Neil Nongkynrih: Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi recently expressed sorrow on the demise of Mr. Neil Nongkynrih who was a mentor and conductor of the Shillong Chamber Choir.

  • He was a renowned pianist and an outstanding mentor to the Shillong Chamber Choir, which enthralled audiences globally.
  • He passed away in Mumbai after a brief illness.

About Neil Nongkynrih:

  • Alumni of London’s prestigious Trinity College of Music and of Guildhall School of Music, Neil came back in 2001 after years of performing and teaching music in England, to set up the Shillong Chamber Choir.
  • In 2009, the Shillong Chamber Choir collaborated with the famed Vienna Orchestra for a series of concerts.
  • The next year, the choir also won Gold awards at the World Choir Games in Shaoxing, China in three categories – Music Sacra, Gospel, and Popular.
  • The 52-year-old music conductor and composer who led the SCC became national fame after a reality TV show. His choir won India’s Got Talent in 2010.
  • In 2010, the choir performed for former US President Barack Obama and the then-first lady Michelle Obama during their visit to India.
  • Notably, the SCC’s version of ‘Vande Mataram was played during the live telecast program Indian space rocket Chandrayaan – 2’s landing on the moon.
  • He was honoured with the Padma Shri in 2015.

 

Bharatendu Harishchandra: Bharatendu Harishchandra’s death anniversary was observed today, 6 January 2022.

  • He is regarded as the 'Father of Modern Hindi Literature and Hindi Theatre’.
  • Hindi literature is unimaginable without Bhartendu Harishchandra, one of the greatest Hindi writers of modern India.
  • He died around 132 years ago, on January 6, 1885.

About Bharatendu Harishchandra:

  • He was one of the greatest Hindi writers whose writings reflected India's social reality.
  • He was a recognized poet and a leading figure in Hindi prose writing.
  • He was a Hindu traditionalist who wrote about social, historic, and puranic plays and novels
  • He was born on September 9, in the year 1850 in Varanasi.
  • His father, Gopal Chandra was a poet and dramatist who is credited with composing the first modern drama in Hindi, ‘Nahushnatak Bhartendu’.
  • Bharatendu started composing poetry at the age of five, was actually a polyglot, i.e. he was well versed in many languages, including Bengali, Punjabi, Marwari, and Gujarati.
  • He was influenced by the Bengal Renaissance which was a cultural, social, intellectual, and artistic movement in the Bengal region in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent during the period of the British Indian Empire when he was on his trip to Jagannath temple, at the age of fifteen years.
  • It was during this time that he decided to bring the genres of social, historical, and Puranic plays and novels into Hindi.
  • He wrote under the pen name, Rasa.
  • He was given the title of ‘Bharatendu’ in a public meeting by scholars of Kashi.
  • He made some major contributions in the field of journalism; he edited magazines like Kavi VachanSudha, Harishchandra Patrika, etc.

Note: The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting of India gives the ‘Bharatendu Harishchandra Awards’ since 1983 to promote original writings in Hindi mass communication.

 

Sri Jagannath Temple Act: In a historic decision, the Odisha state cabinet on 5th January 2022 approved amendments to the Sri Jagannath Temple Act of 1954, simplifying issues pertaining to land owned by the Jagannath Temple.

About Jagannath Temple Act, 1954:

  • After India gained Independence, the state of Odisha formally introduced the Jagannath Temple Act in the year 1952, which came into effect in 1954.
  • The Act contains provisions on land rights of the temple, duties of the sevayat, administrative powers of the Shri Jagannath Temple Managing Committee, rights and privileges of the Raja of Puri and other persons connected with the management and administration of the temple.

Key Proposals of the recent amendment:

  • The recent amendment approved by the state cabinet now decentralizes the power to settle land-related issues of the temple.
  • The cabinet has delegated power to temple administration and concerned officials for the sale and lease of land in name of Jagannath temple.
  • Unlike earlier, no approval will be required from the state government for the process.
  • Through the sale of land, used and unused, the temple will also generate additional corpus funds.

Takht Damdama Sahib: The Aam Aadmi Party(AAP)-led Delhi Assembly passed an amendment Bill to the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1971, recognizing Takht Damdama Sahib as the fifth Takht of Sikhs.

  • The amendment was passed ahead of the Punjab Assembly elections.

What does the amendment to the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Act mean?

  • It adds one more ex officio member in the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) house.
  • Earlier, there were four ex officio members in the house — the chiefs (jathedars) of the other four Sikh Takhts.

Key Facts about the Takht:

  • A Takht means a throne.
  • It is a seat of temporal authority for Sikhs.
  • The Takhts are known to issue hukumnamas from time to time on issues that concern the Sikh community.
  • There are five Sikh Takhts, three in Punjab and one each in Maharashtra and Bihar.
  • They are as follows:

Akal Takht:

  • It is located in Amritsar.
  • It is the oldest of the Takhts and is considered supreme among the five. It was set up in 1606 by Guru Hargobind.
  • Akal Takht is supreme among them because it is the oldest and was created by a Sikh Guru himself

Note: The other four Takhts are linked to Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru.

Takht Keshgarh Sahib:

  • It is located in Anandpur Sahib in Punjab.
  • It was here that Guru Gobind Singh raised Khalsa, the initiated Sikh warriors, in 1699.

Takht Patna Sahib:

  • Takht Sri Patna Sahib also known as Takhat Sri Harimandir Ji, is a Gurdwara in the neighbourhood of Patna Sahib, Patna, Bihar.
  • Guru Gobind Singh was born here in 1666.
  • The current shrine of Patna Sahib or Takht Sri Harmandirji Sahib was built in the 1950s.

Takht Hazur Sahib:

It is located in Nanded, where Guru Gobin Singh spent time and where he was cremated in 1708.

Takht Damdama Sahib:

  • It is located in Talwandi Sabo of Bathinda.
  • It was first built by Sardar Bhagel Singh in 1783 when a huge Sikh army under his command conquered Delhi.
  • At first, it was a small Gurdwara. Later Maharaja Ranjit Singh delegated his officials to renovate the Gurdwara.
  • Guru Gobind Singh spent several months here.

 

Arts Current Affairs - December 2021

World Sangeet Tansen Festival: The World Sangeet Tansen festival began in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh on the 25th of December 2021 which will conclude on the 30th of December, 2021.

Key Highlights:

  • This is the 97th edition of the festival.
  • The stage of the program has been constructed on the theme of Siddhanath temple situated in Omkareshwar.
  • The formal opening of the ceremony took place on December 26, 2021.
  • The function was inaugurated by the Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia will be present as special guests.

About the programme:

  • The music festival will witness the participation of many artists not only from India but from other countries too.
  • During the festival, a total of nine musical concerts will be held.
  • The first seven concerts took place on the stage set up at Tansen's mausoleum and Mohammad Ghaus' tomb.
  • The eighth concert will take place on December 30th on the banks of the Jhilmil River in Behat (Tansen's birthplace).
  • The last brief concert will be held at Gwalior Fort on December 30 itself.

About Tansen:

  • Tansen, also referred to as Miyan Tan Sen or Ramtanu Pande was born in a Hindu family and learnt his art in Madhya Pradesh.
  • He was a prominent figure of Hindustani classical music composer, musician and vocalist, known for a large number of compositions.
  • He is also an instrumentalist who popularised and improved the plucked rabab (of Central Asian origin).
  • He spent most of his adult life in the court and patronage of king of Rewa, Raja Ramchandra Singh where his musical abilities and studies gained huge fame.
  • His reputation gained the attention of Mughal Emperor Jalal ud-din Akbar, who requested Tansen to join the musicians at Mughal court.
  • He was among the Navaratnas (nine jewels) at the Emperor's court.
  • Akbar gave him the title Mian, an honorific, meaning learned man.
  • Almost all gharanas of Hindustani classical music claim some connection with the Tansen lineage.
  • Among the legends about Tansen are stories of his bringing down the rains with Raga Megh Malhar and lighting lamps with the legendary raga Deepak.
  • According to one version of the story, Tansen died on 26 April 1586 in Delhi, and that Akbar and much of his court attended the funeral procession.
  • Other versions give 6th May, 1589 as the year of his death.
  • Tansen was buried in the mausoleum complex of his Sufi master Shaikh Muhammad Ghaus in Gwalior.

  KSVY: The Ministry of Culture recently launched a Scheme of Financial Assistance for the Development of Buddhist/Tibetan Culture and Art under “Kala Sanskriti Vikas Yojna (KSVY)”.

Key Highlights:

  • Under this scheme, financial assistance is provided to the voluntary Buddhist and Tibetan Organizations including Monasteries engaged in the propagation and scientific development of Buddhist/ Tibetan Culture and tradition, located in any part of the country.
  • The quantum of funding is Rs.30 lakhs per year for an organization.

About KSVY:

  • KSVY is an umbrella scheme under the Ministry of Culture for the promotion of art and culture in the country.
  • It is a central sector scheme.

Schemes under KSVY:

The ministry implements many schemes under KSVY, where the grants are sanctioned/approved for holding programs/activities.

  • Scheme of Financial Assistance for Creation of Cultural Infrastructure.
  • Scheme of Financial Assistance for Promotion of Art and Culture.
  • Scheme for Safeguarding the Intangible Cultural Heritage.
  • This in turn aims to promote the 13 intangible cultural heritage of India, recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Paika Rebellion of Odisha: The Union Government of India has recently refused to accept Paika rebellion as the first war of independence.

Key Points:

  • The Union Culture Ministry said that the matter was examined in consultation with the Indian Council of Historical Research, under the Union Education Ministry, and according to the comments by the Indian Council of Historical Research, the Paika rebellion could not be called the first war of Independence.
  • However, from a historical point of view, it can be said that the ‘Paika Bidroha’, which was set off in March 1817 and continued until May 1825, had set an example for the classes as well as the masses in India to follow later on.
  • Therefore considering it as a beginning of a popular uprising against the British, it would be included as a case study in the Class 8 National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) history textbook.
  • Currently, the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 is called the first war of independence.

Background:

  • In 2017, the Odisha Government had demanded that the Odisha rebellion be declared as the first war of independence.

About Paika rebellion of 1817:

  • Paika rebellion took place in 1817.
  • The Paikas were the peasant militias.
  • They had been recruited since the 16th century by kings in Odisha from a variety of social groups to render martial services in return for rent-free land (nish-kar jagirs) and titles.
  • After entering Odisha in 1803, the British the British East India Company dethroned King of Khurda, Raja Mukunda Deva and introduced new revenue settlements, due to which many Odia proprietors ended up losing their lands to absentee Bengali landlords.
  • Changes in the currency and revenue systems meant the Odias had to pay taxes in silver, which was more expensive for them, and resulted in their further marginalisation and oppression.
  • In 1817, some 400 Kondhs, who belonged to the state of Ghumsur, banded together to revolt against the British.
  • Bakshi (Commander) Jagabandhu Bidyadhar Mahapatra Bhramaraber Ray was the military chief of the then Khordha Raja, who roused and led Paikas (peasant militia) and Kandhs (tribals) in a military attack on the British in 1817.
  • During the rebellion, the government buildings were set on fire and policemen were killed and British treasury was looted.
  • Bakshi died in 1825 in prison.

 Additional Info:

Some Pre 1857 Rebellions are -

  1. Sepoy -Vellore mutiny in 1806, Bengal mutiny in 1764 etc.
  2. Tribal - Santhal rebellion, Munda Rebellion, Kol Mutiny etc.
  3. Civil - Ramosis uprising, Sawantwadi revolt, Poligar Revolt etc.

World Arabic Language Day: World Arabic Language Day is observed globally on 18th December annually.

The purpose of this day is to raise awareness of the history, culture and development of the language by preparing a program of special activities and events.

Theme:

  1. The theme of the year 2021 is World Arabic Language Day is “The Arabic Language and Civilizational Communication”.
  2. The theme aims to highlight the importance of the language in connecting people, and knowledge systems, throughout history.
  3. It also reflects the role of Arabic as a connector between civilizations and its role in building peace and enhancing dialogue.

History of the day:

  1. United Nations was decided to celebrate the Arabic language on December 18, being the day on which General Assembly resolution 3190 (XXVIII) of December 18, 1973, concerned the inclusion of the Arabic language among the official and working languages ​​of the United Nations.

About Arabic Language:

  1. The Arabic language is one of the pillars of the cultural diversity of mankind.
  2. It is one of the most widely used languages ​​in the world, spoken daily by more than 400 million people.
  3. It is the sixth most-spoken language in the world.
  4. Arabic is the official language for 22 countries in the Middle East, Asia and Europe.
  5. There are no capital letters in the Arabic language.
  6. In Arabic, verbs come before the subject.
  7. The Arabic language is written entirely in script or cursive writing where all the letters connect.
  8. Arabic is derived from the Central Semitic language family, which includes Aramaic, Hebrew and Phoenician.
  9. Because of the beautiful way it is written, the Arabic language is often used in poetry, philosophy, and song.

Tamil Thai Vaazhthu: The Tamil Nadu government, on 17th December 2021 declared Tamil Thai Vaazhthu, as the State Song.

Key Points about the song:

  1. Tamil Thai Vaazhthu is a prayer song sung in praise of Mother Tamil.
  2. It is a 55-second song.
  3. This song has been penned by Manonmaniam Sundaranar.
  4. The ‘Tamil Thai Vaazhthu’ enjoy official status since 1970.
  5. It is the official song of the union territory of Puducherry as well.

Note: Jaya Bharata Jananiya Tanujate is the official state anthem of Karnataka and Bande Utkal Janani is the official state anthem of Odisha.

  1. According to an official release, the song should compulsorily be sung at the beginning of events organised by all educational institutions, government offices and public sector undertakings, among other public organisations.
  2. The song should be sung in 55 seconds in Mullaipaani Ragam (Mohana Raagam).
  3. At public functions, the playing of the song with musical instruments/recordings is to be avoided, and trained singers should sing it.
  4. Since private players, too, could play a major role in taking the richness of Tamil to the younger generation, they would be encouraged to sing the song at the beginning of their public functions.

What is the issue?

  1. The decision comes in the wake of the Madras High Court recently ruling that ‘Tamil Thai Vaazhthu’ is a prayer song and not an anthem.
  2. The group protesters belonging to the Naam Tamilar Katchi, which is a Tamil nationalist organization led by Senthamizhan Seeman were protesting against the Pontiff of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam who had remained sitting during a function, while Tamil Thai Vaazhthu was played.
  3. This had triggered considerable outrage.
  4. The court has ruled that Tamil Thai Vaazhthu is a prayer song and not an Anthem.
  5. Highest reverence and respect should be shown to the prayer song but it is not necessary to stand for it.

Background:

  1. The Tamil Thai Vaazhthu is being sung at Karanthai Tamil Sangam since 1914.
  2. It is also being sung at all Tamil Sangams associated with the Karanthai Tamil Sangam.
  3. The Karanthai Tamil Sangam had appealed to the then Chief Minister, C.N. Annadurai, to declare Tamil Thai Vaazhthu the State song.
  4. On March 11, 1970, the then Chief Minister, M. Karunanidhi, while speaking at a government function, announced that the Tamil Thai Vaazhthu would be sung at the events of the Tamil Nadu Government.
  5. A Government Order issued on November 23, 1970, declared the select verses from ‘Manonmaniam’ the Tamil Thai Vaazhthu.
  6. Since then, it is being sung at the beginning of government functions and those organised by educational institutions and public establishments.

Veera Rani Abbakka Award: Ullal Veera Rani Abbakka Utsava committee recently decided to present “Veera Rani Abbakka award” during Veera Rani Abbakka festival in December 2021.

  1. Veer Rani Abbakka utsav is an annual celebration in the memory if Veer Rani Abbakka Chowta.

Key points:

Veerarani Abbakka award will be given to female achiever on Silver Jubilee of Veera Rani Abbakka Utsav which will be celebrated on the premises Ullal City Municipality on December 21, 2021.

Who will be awarded the Veera Rani Abbakka Award?

  1. This award will be given to the lady who has made substantial achievement in research and culture.
  2. Committee would also take mother,and, language and tradition into consideration for presenting the award.
  3. Award will be presented to a lady with Tulu background who has made substantial achievement in sports, arts, social service and other such sectors.

About Rani Abbakka Chowta:

  1. Rani Abbakka Chowta was the first Tuluva Queen of Ullal.
  2. She belonged to the Chowta dynasty who ruled over parts of coastal Karnataka (Tulu Nadu), India.
  3. The port town of Ullal was their subsidiary capital.
  4. Ullal was strategically placed because of which, The Portuguese made several attempts to capture it.
  5. She fought against the Portuguese in latter half of the 16th century.
  6. She came to be known as Abhaya Rani.
  7. She got this title for her fierce and feisty nature, her decisions and actions.

Arts Current Affairs - November 2021

Janjatiya Gaurav Divas: As a part of the year-long commemoration of 75 years of Independence, the Union Cabinet has decided to declare November 15 as ‘Janjatiya Gaurav Divas’ to mark the birth anniversary of revered tribal leader and freedom fighter Birsa Munda and honour the contributions of the tribal freedom fighters and members of Scheduled Tribes to Indian history and culture.

  • 15 November was chosen as it was the birth anniversary of Birsa Munda, Munda Rebellion was led by Birsa Munda in the region south of Ranchi in Jharkhand in 1899-1900.
  • The decision to observe 15 November was taken by the Union Cabinet with a view to honouring the special place and contributions of tribes in Indian history and culture
  • The celebrations will be held for a week from November 15 to November 22, 2021.
  • The programme will highlight the glorious history of the tribals, their culture and achievements.
  • The declaration acknowledges the glorious history and cultural heritage of tribal communities.
  • The day will be celebrated every year and would recognise the efforts of the tribals for preservation of cultural heritage and promotion of Indian values of valour, hospitality and national pride.

International Film Festival of India (IFFI): The 52nd edition of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) will be held from November 20 to November 28, 2021.

The IFFI is organized by the Directorate of Film Festivals (DFF), Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India in collaboration with the State Government of Goa and the Indian Film Industry.

Key Points
• The 52nd IFFI has released the line-up of international movies for competition during the festival. The best feature- -length fiction films from all over the world are selected to compete in the section. Fifteen films including ‘Land of Dreams’, directed by Shirin Neshat Shoja Azari and Charlotte directed by Simon Franco will compete for the top awards.
• Other films to compete for the top awards include Nikhil Mahajan’s Marathi movie Godavari, Masakazu Kaneko’s Ring Wandering, and Saving One Who Was Dead by Václav Kadrnka.
• Hungarian filmmaker Istevan Szabo and American director Martin Scorsese will be honoured with Satyajit Ray Lifetime Achievement Award at the 52 International Film Festival of India (IFFI)
• The festival for the first time will have a BRICS — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — Film Festival alongside the main festival.

Golden Peacock award
The golden peacock award is earmarked for best film at the IFFI. It carries a cash prize of Rs 40 lakh. Award will be shared equally by producer and director of the best film.

 

Silver Peacock award
Silver Peacock award is given to the best director. It carries a cash prize of Rs 15 lakh.

The IFFI jury
The IFFI jury comprises renowned Iranian filmmaker Rakhshān Banietemad along with British film producer Stephen Woolley, Colombian filmmaker Ciro Guerra, Sri Lankan filmmaker Vimukthi Jayasundara and the Indian producer-director Nila Madhab Panda.

About International Film Festival of India (IFFI)
IFFI was founded in 1952. It is one of the most significant film festivals of Asia. The festival is held annually with the aim of providing a common platform for cinemas across the world to project excellence of film art. It contributes towards understanding & appreciation of film cultures of different nations with respect to their social and cultural ethos. It promotes friendship and cooperation among people worldwide.

Who organizes the festival?
The IFFI is organized by the Directorate of Film Festivals (DFF), Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India in collaboration with the State Government of Goa and the Indian Film Industry. IFFI is recognised by the International Federation of Film Producers Associations (FIAPF).

Rani Gaidinliu Tribal Freedom Fighters Museum: Union Home Minister Amit Shah has laid the foundation for ‘Rani Gaidinliu Tribal Freedom Fighters Museum’ in Manipur through video conferencing.

The museum is to be set up at Luangkao village, Tamenglong district, the birthplace of freedom fighter Rani Gaidinliu, at an estimated cost of Rs 15 crore under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.

About Rani Gaidinliu:

Rani Gaidinliu was born on January 26, 1915 at Luangkao village in Tamenglong district of Manipur. She was a spiritual and political leader who belonged to the Rongmei tribe of Manipur.

Rani Gaidinliu was a Naga woman revolutionary leader and successor to the political movement launched by the Naga leader Haipou Jadonang (1905-31) to derive away the British from Manipur.

After the execution of Jadonang in 1931 by the British, Rani Gaidinliu led a popular rebellion against the British rule at the young age of sixteen. In order to suppress her followers and capture her, the British deployed regular army columns. In 1932, she was arrested by the British government who sentenced her to life imprisonment. She spent fourteen years in different jails of Guwahati, Shillong, Aizawl, Tura and others.

Acknowledging her role in the struggle against the British, she began to be called “Rani”. Rani Gaidinliu was finally released from the prison after India’s independence in 1947. She died in 1993.

Many Freedom Fighters in Manipur raised the national flag by fighting against the British

Maharaja of Manipur, Kulchandra Singh courageously fought the British and began the struggle for freedom against them in the North East and was punished with imprisonment in the Andamans.

Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav mobile App: Minister of State for Culture and External Affairs, Meenakashi Lekhi has launched the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav mobile App to enable all single point access to all information related to the 75th anniversary celebrations of India’s independence.

The app available in android and iOS has details of all the activities and events happening under the AKAM banner. It is a free for download app with no age restrictions.

The Home page enables users to a get an overview of the interesting and wide-ranging content inside the app. These include among others links to sections such Digital District Repository and Unsung Heroes which are part of an overall section titled History Corner.

Sections like ‘What’s New’ and ‘Weekly Highlights’ allow the users to stay connected to all current Amrit Mahotsav celebrations and event details across India and the world.

The ‘Children’s Corner’ celebrates the enthusiastic participation of young India in activities related to Amrit Mahotsav.

The Events and Activities Section has details of the Amrit Mahotsav celebrations organised by the various Ministries and States/ Union Territories and has a ‘Search’ function for easy and direct access from the database of ongoing events.

Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav is an initiative of the Government of India to celebrate and commemorate 75 years of progressive India and the glorious history of it’s people, culture and achievements.

UNESCO Network of Creative Cities: Srinagar city of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has joined the UNESCO Creative Cities Network 2021, under the Crafts and Folk Arts category on November 8, 2021.

The result was announced on the official website of UNESCO wherein 49 cities have joined this coveted list. The exercise for the UNESCO nomination was started by Jammu & Kashmir in 2018, however, the nomination was not accepted then.

The UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) is a project of UNESCO launched in 2004 to promote cooperation among cities which recognized creativity as a major factor in their urban development. As of 2017, there are 180 cities from 72 countries in the network.

The nomination by UNESCO is a global recognition of the artisans and weavers of J&K. This a great recognition of the vitality of the arts and crafts sector in Srinagar,

Which other Indian cities have been recognized under UNESCO Creative Cities Network?

Srinagar joins Varanasi and Chennai – UNESCO Cities of music; Jaipur – UNESCO city of crafts and folk arts; Mumbai – UNESCO city of film and Hyderabad – UNESCO City of gastronomy.

Total number of cities in the network

With the inclusion of 49 new cities this year, total numbers of cities in this network stands at 295 from across 90 countries. These cities have been included to the list as they invest in culture & creativity like crafts & folk art, film, design, literature, gastronomy, music and media arts, in order to advance sustainable urban development.

Significance of inclusion in UCCN

By joining UCCN, cities commit for sharing their best practices and developing partnerships among public sectors, private sectors and civil society for strengthening the creation, production and distribution of cultural activities, goods & services. Cities also pledge for developing hubs of creativity & innovation.

Arts Current Affairs - October 2021

Martand Sun Temple: 

Union Minister of Commerce & Industry, Consumer Affairs & Food & Public Distribution and Textiles, Shri Piyush Goyal recently visited the Sun temple at Martand located atop a hillock.

Key Highlights:

  • Shri Piyush Goyal was in Pahalgam for a two day visit as part of the public outreach programme of the central government.
  • Before visiting the the Sun temple at Martand, he inaugurated tourist hut of Pahalgam Development Authority at Golf Course Pahalgam and Forest Departments Deodar sapling plantation drive which is being conducted under the banner of Green JK Drive.
  • The union minister also inaugurated 250mm Seer Water supply scheme which seeks to benefit around 10000 people and will be completed under the ambit of Jal Jeevan Mission within three months.
  • He visited Rahi Shawl Unit located at Akad Park where he interacted with the local artisans and examined various handicrafts like zari, sozni, tapestry, etc.

Key Points of his visit to Martand Temple:

  • While appreciating the historical significance of the place, the minister passed directions to the district administration to give wide publicity to the temple and bring it on the tourist map.
  • He also underlined the need to bring other such lesser known historical places on the tourist map.
  • He highlighted the need to up the tourist infrastructure to attract more foreign tourists.

 

About Martand Sun Temple:

  • The temple is one of the earliest known sun temples much older than Konark and Modhera.
  • The Martand Sun Temple is also known as Pandou Laidan.
  • It is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Surya (Sun).
  • Note: Martand is another Sanskrit synonym for Surya.
  • It was built by the third ruler of the Karkota Dynasty, Lalitaditya Muktapida, in the 8th century CE.
  • According to the ruins and related archaeological findings, it is an excellent specimen of Kashmiri architecture, which had blended the Gupta,  Gandharan, and Chinese forms of architecture.
  • The temple is located five miles from Anantnag in the Indian union territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • It is now in ruins as it was destroyed by the orders of Muslim ruler Sikandar Shah Miri.
  • The temple is one of the earliest known sun temples much older than Konark and Modhera.

Site of National Importance:

  • The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has declared the Martand Sun Temple as a site of national importance in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The temple appears in the list of centrally protected monuments as Kartanda (Sun Temple).

About ASI:

  • It is the abbreviation for Archaeological Survey of India.
  • The ASI is an Indian government agency attached to the Ministry of Culture that is responsible for archaeological research and the conservation and preservation of cultural monuments in the country.
  • ASI was founded in 1861 by Alexander Cunningham  the first Director General of ASI. Alexander Cunningham is also known as the “Father of Indian Archaeology”.
  • It administers more than 3650 ancient monuments, archaeological sites and remains of national importance.
  • Its activities include carrying out surveys of antiquarian remains, exploration and excavation of archaeological sites, conservation and maintenance of protected monuments etc.

                                                                                                      

Books and Authors:

Actually… I Met Them: A Memoir: The legendary poet lyricist director of India Gulzar has authored a new book titled “Actually… I Met Them: A Memoir”.

Highlights:

  • The book has been published by the publishing group Penguin Random House India.
  • The book highlights the interesting unknown facts about legends like Kishore Kumar, Bimal Roy, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Ritwik Ghatak, and Mahasweta Devi, among others.

About Gulzar:

  • Gulzar, whose real name is Sampooran Singh Kalra, is an Indian lyricist, poet, author, screenwriter, and film director.
  • He is called Gulzar or Gulzar Saab.
  • He has received the 3rd highest civilian award in India Padma Bhushan in 2004.
  • He is also a recipient of the Sahitya Academy Award and the Dadasaheb Phalke Awards.
  • He also was honored with 5 Indian National Film Awards, 22 Filmfare Awards, one Academy Award, and one Grammy Award.

                                       

Veer Savarkar:The Man Who Could Have Prevented Partition: The Defence Minister of India Shri Rajnath Singh launched the book titled "Veer Savarkar: The Man Who Could Have Prevented Partition" at Ambedkar International Centre, New Delhi.

Highlights:

  • This book is authored by Uday Mahurkar and Chirayu Pandit.
  • Minister Rajnath Singh described Savarkar as an "icon of Indian history".
  • He also described his contributions to a nation that was not yet considered and highlighted the prolonged controversies from time to time on the great leader Savarkar.

                             

Bhaskarabda: The Government of Assam recent announced that Bhaskarabda, a Luni Solar Calendar, will be used as an official calendar.

  • Presently, the official calendar of the Assam government is the Saka calendar and the Gregorian calendar.
  • From now on, Bhaskarabda calendar will also be used in the official calendar of the Assam Government.
  • Assam Government has decided to publish theme based calendars every year.
  • Flora and animals, culture, and gastronomy will all be featured in the calendars.

About Bhaskarabda:   

  • Bhaskarabda, an era counted from the date of the ascension of a seventh century local ruler, Kumar Bhaskaravarman to the throne of Kamrupa kingdom.
  • Bhaskarabda began when Bhaskara Varman was crowned ruler of the Kamrupa kingdom.
  • He was a contemporary and political ally of northern Indian ruler Harshavardhana.
  • The calendar uses a lunisolar system, which is based on both the phases of the moon and the solar year.

Difference between Gregorian and Bhaskarabda.

  • Unlike Gregorian, where a day starts at midnight, the Assamese calendar begins and ends at sunrise over 24 hours.
  • The gap between Bhaskarabda and Gregorian is 593 years.
  • While the Gregorian goes by the solar cycle, the Saka and Bhaskarabda eras use a lunisolar system based on both the phases of the moon and the solar year.
  • The gap between Bhaskarabda and Gregorian is 593 years.

About Different types of Calendars in India:

Gregorian Calendar:

  • Gregorian calendar also called the New Style calendar is the calendar used in most of the world.
  • It is named for Pope Gregory XIII.
  • It was introduced in 1582 by him as a minor modification of the Julian calendar.
  • Note: Julius Caesar had introduced to the ancient Roman Republic in 46 BCE.
  • The calendar is based on the solar cycle.
  • The calendar spaces leap years to make its average year 365.2425 days long, approximating the 365.2422 day tropical year that is determined by the Earth's revolution around the Sun.

Saka Calendar:

  • The Saka Era marked the beginning of the Saka Samvat, a historic Hindu calendar.
  • It was later adopted as ‘Indian National Calendar’ in 1957.
  • It was introduced after the recommendation by Calendar Reform Committee headed by eminent scientist Meghnad Saha.
  • Kushana king Kanishka is believed to have created a calendar that came to be known as the Saka Calendar.
  • The zero year of Saka Samvat is 78 A.D.
  • It is based on the lunisolar reckoning of time.
  • The Saka calendar consists of 365 days and 12 months which is similar to the structure of the Gregorian calendar.
  • The first month of the Saka Samvat is Chaitra which begins on March 22 which corresponds with March 21 during the leap year.

Imp Fact:

  • Saka Calendar is seldom used outside of very formal Government of India documents.
  • It is used, alongside the Gregorian calendar, by The Gazette of India, in news broadcasts by All India Radio and in calendars and communications issued by the Government of India GoI).
  • Other official Government of India Calendars, timetables, documents and communications refers to the Saka Calendar dates.
  • The Saka calendar is used also by the Indonesian Hindus in Bali and Java.
  • The Saka calendar was also used in several areas in the modern day Philippines as written in the Laguna Copperplate Inscription.
  • Nepal Sambat of Nepal also evolved from the Saka calendar.
  • The names of the months in the Saka Calendar are:
  • Chhaitra (March 21 – April 20)
  • Vaishakha (April 21 May 21)
  • Jyeshtha (May 22 June 21)
  • Ashadha (June 22  July 22)
  • Shravana (July 23 August 22)
  • Bhaadra (August 22 September 22)
  • Ashwin (September 23 October 22)
  • Kartika (October 23 November 21)
  • Agrahayana (November 22 December 21)
  • Pausha (December 22 January 20)
  • Magha (January 21  February 19) and
  • Phalguna (February 20 March 20/21)

Hijri Calendar:

  • Hijri calendar is a lunar calendar consisting of 12 lunar months in a year of 354 or 355 days.
  • The first month is called Muharram and the ninth month is called Ramzaan.
  • It is used to determine the proper days of Islamic holidays and rituals, such as the annual period of fasting and the proper time for the Hajj.

Vikram Samvat Calendar:

  • Vikram Samvat, also known as Bikram Sambat or Vikrami calendar, is the historical Hindu calendar used in the Indian subcontinent and Nepal.
  • In India it is used in several states.
  • It dates back to 57 B.C where 57 B.C. is the zero year.
  • It was introduced by King Vikramaditya  of Ujjain to mark his victory over the Saka rulers.
  • The calendar uses lunar months and solar sidereal years.
  • The traditional Vikram Samvat calendar uses lunar months and solar sidereal years.
  • Every year is divided into 12 months and each month is divided into two phases i.e., the Shuklapaksha and Krishnapaksha.
  • The bright half is called the Shuklapaksha (15 days).
  • It starts with the new moon and ends with a full moon.
  • The dark half is called the Krishnapaksha (15 days).
  • It starts with the full moon and ends with a new moon.
  • The month begins with the dark half.
  • There are 354 days in a year.
  • Hence every third and fifth year in a cycle of five years has 13 months (the 13th month is called Adhik Mass).

 

Satyajit Ray Award:

Telugu filmmaker B Gopal, alias Bejawada Gopal, has been chosen for the fourth Satyajit Ray Award.

Key Highlights:

  • He has been chosen for his overall contribution to Indian cinema.
  • He was selected by a panel comprising Malayalam filmmaker Balu Kiriyath, music director Perumbavoor G Raveendranath and others.
  • Gopal has directed 30 films Telugu films and two Hindi movies.

About Satyajit Ray Award:

  • Instituted by the Satyajit Ray Film Society Kerala, a state based organisation, the award comprises a memento, plaque and Rs 10,000 cash prize.

The previous recipients of the award include eminent filmmaker and Dada Saheb Phalke awardee, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, actress Madhabi Mukherjee and producer Mohan G.

                                  

Vayalar Award: Well known Malayalam writer Benyamin has bagged the 45th Vayalar Ramavarma Memorial Literary Award for his book “Manthalirile 20 Communist Varshangal”.

  • His novel was chosen for recognition by an expert panel comprising writers K R Meera, George Onakkoor and C Unnikrishnan.

About the Novel:

  • A political satire, the novel revolves around a nondescript village called Manthalir and the influence of religion and politics in its culture in two decades.

About Vayalar Award:

  • Vayalar award is instituted by the Vayalar Ramavarma Memorial Trust.
  • The award comprises a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh, a sculpture designed by renowned sculptor Kanayi Kunhiraman and a citation.

                             

'Ram Van Gaman' Tourism Circuit: The Chief Minister (CM) of Chhattisgarh Shri  Bhupesh Baghel recently inaugurated the redeveloped ancient Mata Kaushalya temple, part of the “Ram Van Gaman” Tourism Circuit.

Key Points:

  • CM Baghel inaugurated the first phase of the project in Chandrakhuri village of Raipur district. Chandkhuri is believed to be the maternal home of Lord Ram.
  • The State government is developing it at a cost of ₹137.45 crore.
  • Nine sites are being developed to attract tourists to the circuit, believed to be the route taken by Lord Ram during his 14 year exile.
  • The nine sites are Sitamarhi Harchaika (Koriya), Ramgarh (Ambikapur), Shivrinarayan (Janjgir Champa), Turturiya (Baloda Bazaar), Chandkhuri, Rajim (Gariaband), Sihawa Saptarishi Ashram (Dhamtari), Jagdalpur (Bastar) and Ramaram (Sukma).
  • On the occasion, Baghel also unveiled a 51 feet tall magnificent statue of Lord Ram, built at the entrance of the temple.
  • The remaining 74 destinations would be developed in several phases.

About Chhattisgarh:

  • Chhattisgarh is a heavily forested state in central India known for its temples and waterfalls.
  • It is one of the fastest developing states in India.
  • The state was formed on 1st November 2000 by partitioning ten Chhattisgarhi and six Gondi speaking southeastern districts of Madhya Pradesh.
  • The capital city of Chattisgarh is Raipur.
  • The current Chief Minister and Governor of Chhattisgarh are Bhupesh Baghel and Anusuiya Uikey respectively.

                                        

Maharajah Collection: The Tata group recently reclaimed Air India, but the priceless Air India art collection is not part of the deal.

  • This priceless collection is likely to stay with the government.

About the collection:

  • The ‘Maharajah collection’, as it is called, has over 4,000 works, including by Jatin Das, Anjolie Ela Menon, M F Husain and V S Gaitonde.
  • These were on display across Air India offices, and on its calendars, posters and menu cards.
  • There are posters by cartoonist Mario Miranda as well as ads designed by The New Yorker cartoonist Peter Arno, besides paintings, textiles, sculptures, and traditional wooden and bronze artwork.
  • No official estimate exists of the worth of the entire collection.

                                       

Dussehra: Dussehra, also known as Vijayadashami is an important Hindu festival which signifies the victory of good over evil.

Key Facts:

  • It is celebrated at the end of Navratri which is a nine day festival dedicated to Mother Goddess Durga for killing the evil demon Mahishasura.
  • The word Navaratri literally means nine nights in Sanskrit, nava meaning nine and ratri meaning nights.
  • During these nine nights and ten days, nine forms of Shakti / Devi are worshipped.
  • Note: In many places in South India, the festival is celebrated in honour of Maa Saraswati   Hindu Goddess of knowledge and arts.
  • Dussehra is the day when the Chamundeshwari Durga, an Indian goddess, kills the Asura demon, Mahishasura.
  • This festival also marks the victory of Ram, one of the Avatar of Vishnu, over the Killing of the 10 headed Ravana, in the great Indian epic of Ramayana.
  • This annual festival falls on the tenth day of Ashwin or Kartik months as per the Hindu calendar.
  • This year Dussehra was celebrated on October 15, 2021
  • On Dussehra, towering effigies of demon King Ravana, Kumbhakaran and Meghanad (symbolic of evil) are burnt down with fireworks thus reminding onlookers that no matter what, Good always wins over Evil.
  • According to the Hindu Mythology, it was on the same day that Arjuna annihilated the Kuru clan, including great warriors like Bhisma, Drona, Karna, Ashwathama, on his own in the battle of Kurushetra in the Hindu epic Mahabharata.
  • Even this festival is known by different names in different parts of India, the essence of the festival remains the same which is the victory of good over evil and establishment of Dharma over Adharma.

                                                                                           

Buddhist Circuit: 

The Centre has planned major infrastructure push for Buddhist Circuit.

Key Highlights:

  • The Ministry of Tourism recently organized a “Buddhist Circuit Train FAM Tour and Conference” from October 4 to October 8, 2021 in order to increase the tourism in Buddhist Circuit.
  • During the conference major focus was given with regard to the infrastructure development including Air, Rail and Road Connectivity
  • A detailed presentation with regard to Buddhist Special Train and facilities being provided by IRCTC in the train which includes Mini Library was given by IRCTC.
  • The Buddhist Circuit Train FAM Tour was flagged off by Minister of Tourism Ajay Bhatt.
  • This tour has been organized by the Indian Railway Catering & Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) as part of the Union government’s “Dekho Apna Desh” initiative.

About FAM Tour:

  • The FAM tour is from Delhi to Delhi covering the visit of prominent Buddhist sites and conferences at Bodhgaya and Varanasi.
  • The tour will cover the visit of prominent Buddhist sites and conferences at Bodhgaya and Varanasi.
  • This conference was attended by 125 delegates including tour operators, media, hoteliers, and officials of Ministry of Tourism & State Governments.
  • Around 100 local tour operators and other stakeholders of the tourism & hospitality sector attended the event at Bodh Gaya and Varanasi for discussing the critical issues concerning the event and promotion of tourism within the circuit.
  • These promotional activities are undertaken by the Tourism Ministry with an aim to increase awareness about tourist destinations, attractions and products.

About Buddhist Circuit:

  • The Buddhist circuit is a route that follows in the footsteps of the Buddha from Lumbini in Nepal where he was born, through Bihar in India where he attained enlightenment, to Sarnath and Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh in India, where he gave his first teachings and died.

Background:

  • Buddhist Circuit project was announced in 2016.
  • Since then Rs 343 crore has been sanctioned for the project under various schemes, out of which Rs 278 crore has already been released.
  • Under 'Swadesh Darshan Scheme', 5 projects worth Rs 325.53 crore has been sanctioned for Buddhist Circuit development in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Gujarat.

About Swadesh Darshan Scheme:

  • Swadesh Darshan Scheme is a scheme of Ministry of Tourism under Government of India (GoI).
  • This Scheme was launched by the Ministry of Tourism in 2014 15 to develop theme based tourist circuits in the country.
  • The scheme aims to promote, develop and harness the potential of tourism in India.
  • This is a central sector scheme i.e., it is a 100% funded by the Central GoI.
  • Efforts are also made to achieve convergence with other schemes of Central and State Governments.
  • The funding available for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives of Central Public Sector Undertakings and Corporate Sector is also used in this scheme.
  • Under this scheme, 13 thematic circuits have been identified for development.

These are:

  • Buddhist Circuit,
  • North East India Circuit
  • Coastal Circuit
  • Wildlife Circuit
  • Tribal Circuit
  • Rural Circuit
  • Himalayan Circuit
  • Krishna Circuit
  • Desert Circuit
  • Eco Circuit
  • Spiritual Circuit
  • Ramayana Circuit
  • Heritage Circuit

Buddhist Tourism in India:

  • Tourism has great importance in the economy and cultural development of India.
  • It promotes national integration.
  • India is among world’s oldest and largest reservoirs of history. India is known for her rich heritage, culture, philosophy, and religion.
  • India has a rich ancient Buddhist Heritage comprising of essential sites associated with Lord Buddha.
  • This Indian Buddhist heritage is of great interest to the followers of Buddhism all over the world.

Buddhist Conclave:

  • Buddhist Conclave is organized by the Ministry of Tourism every alternate year.
  • The main objective of organizing this conclave is to promote India as a Buddhist Destination and major markets worldwide.
  • The International Buddhist Conclave for the year 2021 is scheduled from 17 November to 21 November.

About Ministry of Tourism:

  • The Ministry of Tourism is a branch of the Government of India (GoI).
  • It is the apex body for formulation and administration of the rules, regulations and laws relating to the development and promotion of tourism in India. It was founded in 1967.
  • It is headquartered in New Delhi.
  • The current Minister of Tourism (India) is Shri G. Kishan Reddy.

                                                               

Mahalaya: Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently greeted the people on the occasion of Mahalaya.

Key facts:

  • Mahalaya is an invocation to the saviour Goddess and a celebration of good over evil.
  • The day is marked on the last day of Pitru Paksha which is being observed on October 6th this year.
  • It marks the beginning of the Devipaksha and the end of the Pitrupaksha aka Sarva Pitru Amavasya according to Hindu calendar.
  • Pitru Paksha is a 16 lunar day period which marks the period to worship the ancestors and offer them prayers.
  • As per Hindu beliefs, Goddess Durga visits her paternal house in Mahalaya either in a palanquin or a boat, an elephant or a horse.
  • Durga puja begins on the seventh day of Mahalaya and ends on the tenth day of Dusshera.
  • In Bengal, Mahalaya marks the beginning of Durga Puja festivities.
  • Bengali households across the nation resonate with the echoes of Birendra Krishna Bhadra's timeless chants and the soul stirring melody of the songs that make up 'Mahishasur Mardini'.
  • It is celebrated in the states of Karnataka, Odisha, Tripura, and West Bengal.

History:

  • Maa Durga is considered the goddess of power.
  • According to Hindu mythology, it is believed that on this day Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheswar created Goddess Durga to defeat the demon king Mahishasura.
  • Combat entails between the seemingly invincible Asura and Maa Durga, and after a fierce battle, good prevails over evil as the 'Mahamaya' is able to slay the demon king with her trident.
  • The war between Maa Durga and Mahishasura lasted for nine days, and then she killed him on the 10th day.
  • Goddess Durga officially begins her journey from Mount Kailash, where she resides with her husband Lord Shiva to her maternal home on Earth.

 Note: Durga Puja is a celebration of culture, of life and a harbinger of hope.

 

Arts Current Affairs - September 2021

73rd Emmy award 2021: 

The 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony was recently  held on September 19, 2021, in Los Angeles, California.

Key Highlights:

  • The ceremony was hosted by hosted by Cedric the Entertainer and broadcast in the U.S. by CBS and Paramount+.
  • The 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards honored the best in U.S. prime time television programming from June 1, 2020, until May 31, 2021, as chosen by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.
  • The nominations were announced on July 13, 2021 by Ron and Jasmine Cephas Jones via a virtual event.
  • For the first time, the ceremony presented two categories that are annually given out at the Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards:
  • Outstanding Variety Special (Live)
  • Outstanding Variety Special (Pre-Recorded).
  • The following are the winners for the 2021 Emmy Awards:
  • Outstanding Drama Series: The Crown
  • Outstanding Comedy Series: Ted Lasso
  • Outstanding Variety Talk Show: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
  • Outstanding Limited Series: The Queen’s Gambit
  • Outstanding Actor–Comedy: Jason Sudeikis (Ted Lasso)
  • Outstanding Actor–Drama: Josh O’Connor
  • Outstanding Actor–Limited Series or Movie: Ewan McGregor (Halston)
  • Outstanding Actress–Comedy: Jean Smart (Hacks)
  • Outstanding Actress–Drama: Olivia Colman (The Crown)
  • Outstanding Actress–Limited Series or Movie: Kate Winslet (Mare of Easttown)
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor–Comedy: Brett Goldstein (Ted Lasso)
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor–Drama: Tobias Menzies (The Crown)
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor–Limited Series or Movie: Evan Peters (Mare of Easttown)
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress–Comedy: Hannah Waddingham (Ted Lasso)
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress–Drama: Gillian Anderson (The Crown)
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress–Limited Series or Movie: Julianne Nicholson (Mare of Easttown)
  • Outstanding Director–Comedy: Lucia Aniello (Hacks)
  • Outstanding Director–Drama: Jessica Hobbs (The Crown)
  • Outstanding Director–Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special: Scott Frank (The Queen’s Gambit)
  • Outstanding Writing–Comedy: Lucia Aniello, Paul W Downs and Jen Statsky (Hacks)
  • Outstanding Writing–Drama: Peter Morgan (The Crown)
  • Outstanding Writing–Limited Series, Movie Or Dramatic Special: Michaela Coel (I May Destroy You)

About Emmy Award:

  • An Emmy Award, or simply Emmy, is an American award that recognizes excellence in the television industry.
  • It is presented at numerous annual events held throughout the calendar year, each honouring one of the various sectors of the television industry.

 

Himalayan Film Festival: Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Shri Anurag Thakur , on 24th September 2021, inaugurated the star-studded five days‘First Himalayan Film Festival'at Sindhu Sanskriti Kendra, Leh, Union Territory of Ladakh.

Key Points:

  • Himalayan Film festival will run for five days from September 24 to 28.
  • The film festival will be held at the Sindhu Sanskriti Kendra in Leh.
  • The five-day film festival is a part of the celebrations of ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ commemorating 75 years of India’s Independence.
  • Keeping in view the PM’s call for ‘Jan Bhagidhari’, the film festival will have active participation from the local filmmakers and will showcase talent across12 Himalayan states and UTs.
  • This festival is being organized by Leh in association with the Directorate of Film Festivals under Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
  • The main aim of organizing this festival is to create an interactive and exposure platform in order to promote aspiring local filmmakers as well as to showcase Ladakh as an attractive film destination.

About the IHR:

  • IHR is the abbreviation for the Indian Himalayan Region.
  • IHR is the section of the Himalayas within India, spanning 11 Indian states and union territories, namely the regions of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh administered by India as UTs, and states of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Meghalaya and Assam.
  • The region is responsible for providing water to a large part of the Indian subcontinent and contains various flora and fauna.
  • The most characteristic features of the Himalayas are their great height, complex geologic structure, snowcapped peaks, large valley glaciers, deep river gorges, and rich vegetation.
  • Himalayan region of India attracts filmmakers from worldwide due to its unique scenic endowment.

Thus, the Film festival presents an opportunity for local filmmakers in order to narrate their stories to a wider audience.

The ‘Himalayan Film Festival’ also envisions institutionalizing a Himalayan Film Fraternity which will have productive repercussions for filmmaking in the Himalayan parts of India.

 

Shankhalipi Script: The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) have recently discovered remains of an ancient temple dating back to the Gupta period (5th century) in a village in Uttar Pradesh’s Etah district.

Note: Bilsarh, in Etah-Uttar Pradesh, where the remains were found has been a protected site from the colonial times and is a known Gupta period settlement.

Key-findings:

  • The team discovered “two decorative pillars close to one another, with human figurines.
  • As per the archaeologists, the inscriptions mention ‘Sri Mahendraditya’, the title of Kumaragupta I of the Gupta dynasty.

 Significance of the latest findings:

  • The discovery becomes significant since only two other structural temples from the Gupta age have been found so far — Dashavatara Temple (Deogarh) and Bhitargaon Temple (Kanpur Dehat).

About Shankhalipi script:

  • The Shankhalipi or “shell-script is assumed to be Brahmi derivatives that look like conch shells or shankhas.
  • They are found in inscriptions across North-Central India and date to between the 4th and 8th centuries.
  • The inscriptions consist of a small number of characters, suggesting that the shell inscriptions are names or auspicious symbols or a combination of the two.
  • The script was discovered in 1836 on a brass trident in Uttarakhand’s Barahat by English scholar James Prinsep, who was the founding editor of the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal.
  • Prominent sites with shell inscriptions include the Mundeshwari Temple in Bihar, the Udayagiri Caves in Madhya Pradesh, Mansar in Maharashtra and some of the cave sites of Gujarat and Maharashtra.
  • The shell inscriptions are also reported in Indonesia’s Java and Borneo.

About Kumaragupta I of the Gupta dynasty:

  • Kumaragupta I was the son of Chandragupta II and grandson of the Great Samudragupta of Gupta dynasty.
  • In the 5th century, Kumaragupta I ruled for 40 years over north-central India.
  • He built the world famous ancient Nalanda University.
  • Among the Gupta kings, he issued the largest varieties of coins.
  • The Guptas were the first to build structural temples, distinctly different from the ancient rock-cut temples.
  • Skandagupta, son and successor of Kumaragupta I is generally considered to be the last of the great Gupta rulers.
  • The Bhitari pillar inscription states that his successor Skandagupta restored the fallen fortunes of the Gupta family.

Some facts about the Gupta Empire:

  • The Gupta Empire was an ancient Indian empire which existed from the early 4th century CE to late 6th century CE.
  • This period is considered as the Golden Age of India by historians.
  • The most notable rulers of the dynasty were Chandragupta I, Samudragupta, and Chandragupta II alias Vikramaditya.
  • Chandragupta 1 (320–330CE) was the founder of the Gupta empire. From being a local chief in Magadha kingdom, he increased his power by marriage alliances and wars.
  • Chandragupta 2 (380–413 CE) the Great also known as Chandragupta Vikramditya, son of Samudragupta, was one of the most powerful emperors of the Gupta empire in northern India. Under his rule the Gupta Empire achieved its zenith, art, architecture, and sculpture flourished, and the cultural development of ancient India reached its climax.
  • The Guptas conquered about twenty-one kingdoms, both in and outside India, including the kingdoms of Parasikas, the Hunas, the Kambojas, tribes located in the west and east Oxus valleys, the Kinnaras, Kiratas, and others.
  • The Gupta period produced scholars such as Kalidasa, Aryabhata, Varahamihira, and Vatsyayana who made great advancements in many academic fields.
  • Many of the literary sources, such as Mahabharata and Ramayana, were canonized during this period.

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Parshuram Kund: The Union Minister for Tourism, Culture and Development of North Eastern Dtates (DoNER) G Kishan Reddy laid the foundation for the development of Parshuram Kund here in Lohit district on Thursday, in the presence of union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekawat and Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh shri Pema Khandu.

Key Points:

  • The project “Development of Parasuram Kund, Lohit District Arunachal Pradesh” has been sanctioned under the Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual, Heritage Augmentation Drive’ (PRASHAD) Scheme of Ministry of Tourism.
  • This project has been approved with the cost of Rs 37.88 crores in January 2021.
  • The components sanctioned include the following:
  • Interventions near the Parking area, Tourist Information Centre,
  • Rain Shelters,
  • Kiosks,
  • Interventions near Mela ground, View Points,
  • Souvenir Shops,
  • Water Supply line,
  • Approach Road,
  • Food Court/ Prasadam Centre etc.

About PRASHAD Scheme:

  • The Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual, Heritage Augmentation Drive’ (PRASHAD) Scheme is a Central Sector Scheme with complete financial assistance by the Government of India.
  • The scheme is launched by the Ministry of Tourism in the year 2014-15 with the vision of focused infrastructure development to harness pilgrimage and heritage tourism destinations.

 

Books and Authors:

The Long Game: How the Chinese Negotiate with India: A book titled “The Long Game: How the Chinese Negotiate with India” is authored by Vijay Gokhale.

Highlights:

  • Vijay Gokhale is the former foreign secretary of India.
  • In this new book, he unpacks the dynamics of India-China relations through the prism of six historical and recent events.
  • The book gives a practitioner’s insight into strategies, tactics, and tools that China uses for diplomatic negotiations.
  • His 1st book is “Tiananmen Square: The Making of a Protest” was published earlier this month.

 

 

 

 

Hindi Diwas 2021:

India celebrates Hindi Diwas, also known as Hindi Day, on September 14 every year to commemorate the adoption of Hindi in the Devanagari script as one of the official languages of the nation.

Key Highlights:

  • One of the reasons behind celebrating this day is to prevent the increasing trend of the English language in the nation and to promote the Hindi language.

  • Hindi is the 3rd most spoken language in the world.

Note: India has two official languages. Besides Hindi, English is also considered an official language in India.

History of Hindi Diwas:

  • The Constituent Assembly of India accepted Hindi, written in Devanagari script, as the official language of India on September 14, 1949. 

  • Hindi language along with English was adopted out of the 22 recognized Indian languages under Article 343 (1). 

  • Out of the 22 languages of the 8th Schedule of the Constitution of India, Hindi is used at the Union level.

  • Officially, the first Hindi Day was celebrated on September 14, 1953. 

  • The main reason behind adopting Hindi as one of the official languages was to simplify administration in a nation with multiple languages.

  • This day also marks the birth anniversary of Beohar Rajendra Simha who contributed largely towards making Hindi the official language of India.

  • Several activists, poets, and writers made huge efforts to make Hindi as the official language. Among these are Maithili Sharan, Kaka Kalelkar, Beohar Rajendra Simha, Hazari Prasad Dwivedi and Seth Govind Das. 

Key Points Hindi:

  • Hindi belongs to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European family of languages. 

  • The word Hindi derives its name from the Persian word Hind. 

  • In the 11th century, Turkish invaders named the language Hindi, meaning ‘land of the Indus River’.

  • Literary Hindi, written in the Devanagari script, has been strongly influenced by Sanskrit.

  • Its standard form is based on the Khari Boli dialect, found to the north and east of Delhi. 

  • Hindi is the lingua franca of the Hindi belt.

  • Braj Bhasha, which was an important literary medium from the 15th to the 19th century, is often treated as a dialect of Hindi, as are Awadhi, Bagheli, Bhojpuri, Bundeli, Chhattisgarhi, Garhwali, Haryanawi, Kanauji, Kumayuni, Magahi, and Marwari. 

  • In India, Hindi is spoken as a first language by nearly 425 million people and as a second language by some 120 million more.

  • Significant Hindi speech communities are also found in South Africa, Mauritius, Bangladesh, Yemen, and Uganda.

Significance:

  • Hindi day not only marks the celebration of the adoption of Hindi as an official language but also aims to honor and promote the language with several cultural festivals and awards such as Rajbhasha Gaurav Puraskar and Rajbhasha Kirti Puraskar across the country.

Difference between Hindi Divas and World Hindi Day:

  • World Hindi Day, also called Vishwa Hindi Divas it is not similar to the Hindi Diwas.

  • The National Hindi Day or Hindi Diwas is celebrated every year on September 14 to commemorate the day of adoption of Hindi as an official language in India on September 14, 1949. 

  • While the World Hindi Day is observed on January 10 to mark the anniversary of the first World Hindi Conference that took place in 1975 in Nagpur, Maharashtra.

  • However, both the days aim at the promotion and celebration of Hindi as a language of India even if they have different histories and significance.

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Battle of Saragarhi: September 12, 2021 marks the 124th anniversary of the Battle of Saragarhi that has inspired a host of armies, books and films, both at home and abroad.

Note: The Indian Army's 4th battalion of the Sikh Regiment commemorates the battle every year on 12 September, as Saragarhi Day.

What makes this battle unique?

  • It considered one of the finest last stands in the military history of the world.

About Battle of Saragarhi:

  • The Battle of Saragarhi was fought on 12 September 1897.

  • This battle was a last-stand battle fought before the Tirah Campaign between the British Raj and Afghan tribesmen. 

  • Twenty-one soldiers from British Army were pitted against over 8,000 Afridi and Orakzai tribals but they managed to hold the fort for seven hours.

  • Though heavily outnumbered the soldiers of 36th Sikhs (now 4 Sikh), led by Havildar Ishar Singh, fought till their last breath, killing 200 tribals and injuring 600.

 Importance of Saragarhi:

  • Saragarhi was the communication tower between Fort Lockhart and Fort Gulistan.

  • The two forts in the rugged North West Frontier Province (NWFP), now in Pakistan, were built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh but renamed by the British.

  • Saragarhi helped to link up the two important forts which housed a large number of British troops in the rugged terrain of NWFP.

 The legacy:

  • Making a departure from the tradition of not giving gallantry medals posthumously, Queen Victoria awarded the 21 dead soldiers — leaving out the non-combatant — of the 36th Sikh the Indian Order of Merit (comparable with the Victoria Cross) along with two ‘marabas’ (50 acres) and Rs 500 each.

  • The British, who regained control over the fort after a few days, used burnt bricks of Saragarhi to build an obelisk for the martyrs.

  • They also commissioned gurdwaras at Amritsar and Ferozepur in their honour.

 

Books ad Authors:

Human Rights and Terrorism in India: A book titled 'Human Rights and Terrorism in India' is authored by BJP MP Subramanian Swamy.

About the Book: 

  • His book traces how the combating of terrorism can be harmonised with human and fundamental rights within reasonable restrictions that are permitted by the Constitution and upheld by the Supreme Court.

  • It is the theses of this study that to deter terror, India as a nation must foster a concept of identity. 

  • The release of three dreaded terrorists in exchange for hijacked Indian Airlines passengers in Afghanistan’s Kandahar in 1999 is the “worst capitulation” to terrorists in India”s modern history.

 

Vishwakarma Jayanti: Vishwakarma Jayanti was celebrated on September 17, 2021.

Highlights:

It is an important festival celebrated by the Hindu community.

On this occasion, workers of factories and industrial areas worship their tools and offer prayers to Lord Vishwakarma to keep their livelihoods secure.

About Lord Vishwakarma:

  • According to legends, Lord Vishwakarma is the son of Vastu Dev and Goddess Angisri.

  • Vishwakarma, the Hindu god, is a craftsman diety and is considered as the divine engineer, craftsman of the whole universe. 

  • As per Hindu religious belief, he is believed to be the creator of the world, the Swayambhu. 

  • Vishwakarma Jayanti, the auspicious day dedicated to him falls on Kanya Sankranti  or Bhadra Sankranti, which comes when Sun transits from zodiac sign Leo to Virgo. As per the Gregorian calendar, the date of Vishwakarma Puja almost remains the same every year in mid-September. 

Significance:

  • Vishwakarma Puja is celebrated in honor of Lord Vishwakarma. 

  • He was the divine architect who constructed the kingdom of Lord Krishna, in the holy city Dwarka. 

  • He also constructed Indraprastha, the Maya Sabha for the Pandavas and many more palaces. 

  • Lord Vishwakarma was known to be the creator of many fabulous weapons for the gods such as Lord Shiva's Trishul, Indra's Vajra (thunderbolt) and Lord Vishnu's Sudarshana Chakra. 

  • He is also credited with Sthapatya Veda, the science of architecture and mechanics. 

  • He is represented as being the source of all prosperity and is considered both the divine engineer and the divine architect of the universe.

  • The famous Jagannath temple in Puri is also believed to be his creation.

The day is mainly celebrated in the Eastern part of the country in states such as West Bengal, Assam, Odisha, Tripura, Bihar, and Jharkhand.  India's neighbour, Nepal also celebrates Vishwakarma Puja.

 

 

Samvatsari:

 Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently greeted the people on the occasion of Samvatsari.

About Samvatsari:

  • Saṃvatsarī is the last day of Paryushana Shwetambar sect of Jainism which falls on Shukla Panchami each year in the Jain calendar month of Bhadrapada.
  • According to the Greforian calender it falls somewhere between the middle of August and September.
  • Jains, on this day, forgive and seek forgiveness for their mistakes committed knowingly or unknowingly from all the living beings.
  • On this day, a yearly, elaborate penitential retreat called "samvatsari pratikramana" is performed.
  • After the pratikramana, Jains seek forgiveness from all the creatures of the world, including friends and relatives by uttering the phrase — Micchami Dukkadam or its variants like "Khamau Sa", "Khamat Khamna" or "Uttam Kshama".                                                                      

Bujurgon ki Baat–Desh Ke Saath: The Union Minister of Culture recently launched a program named 'Bujurgon ki Baat–Desh Ke Saath'.

Key Points:

The programme 'Bujurgon ki Baat–Desh Ke Saath’ aims at enhancing the interaction between the youth and the elder persons who are 95 years and above and thus have spent around 18 years in India before independence.

The video of the interaction should preferably be kept below 60 seconds and can be uploaded at www.rashtragaan.in .

Significance of this programme:

  • This seeks to be a great way to involve the Elders in AzadiKaAmriMahostav.
  • On this occassion, the Union MoS for Culture Shri Arjun Ram Meghwal said that the energy of youth and experience of elders can take the country ahead and make it stronger by 2047 as envisioned by Prime Minister.
  • He further highlighted the importance of family and urged the youth not to neglect the elders of the family.
  • He also highlighted the importance of family and said development of a person leads to development of family and when family develops society moves ahead and a developed society leads to prosperous nation.

About Ministry of Culture:

  • The Ministry of Culture is the Indian government ministry.
  • It charged with preservation and promotion of art and culture of India.
  • It is typically responsible for cultural policy, which often includes arts policy (direct and indirect support to artists and arts organizations) and measures to protect the national heritage of a country and cultural expression of a country or subnational region.
  • The current Minister of Culture is G. Kishan Reddy.
  • The government has recently established the National Mission on Libraries India under this ministry.

Ladakh Nomadic Festival:

Lieutenant Governor Radha Krishna Mathur recently inaugurated the Two day Ladakh Nomadic Festival at Korzok Phu, Changthang region of Ladakh.

Key Points:

  • The festival was organized by Ladakh Cultural Academy in collaboration with Ladakh Tourism Department.

  • The main aim of the event was as follows:

  • To bring the Changthang region and its nomadic culture on the tourism maps of Ladakh.

  • For the upliftment of the nomadic regions of Ladakh.

  • Lieutenant Governor urged the Changthang youth to make efforts to save the nomadic culture.

  • He also appealed to take world renowned Changthang Pashmina for further development and promotion.

About Changthang Pashmina:

  • The Changthang Pashmina is eight times finer than a human hair and is mainly used in making shawls.

  • It is one of the costliest fabrics in the world.

  • It is produced only by the Changthangi or Chagra which is a breed of cashmere goat native to the high plateaux of Ladakh in India.

  • These goats are generally domesticated and are reared by nomadic communities called the Changpa in the Changthang regions of Ladakh.

  • The Changthangi goats have revitalized the poor economy of Changthang, Ladakh where the wool production generates more than $8 million a year.

Note: The Changthangi goat breed has been listed on the endangered species list by the National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources.

About the Changpa Tribe:

  • The Changpa or Champa are a semi-nomadic Tibetan people found mainly in the Changtang in Ladakh.

  • A smaller number resides in the western regions of the Tibet Autonomous Region and were partially relocated for the establishment of the Changtang Nature Reserve.

  • As of 1989 there were half a million nomads living in the Changtang area.

  • The Changpa of Ladakh are high altitude pastoralists, raising mainly yaks and and Pashmina goats.

  • The Changpa speak Changskhat, a dialect of Tibetan, and practice Tibetan Buddhism.

Note: As of 2001, the Changpa were classified as a Scheduled Tribe under the Indian government's reservation program of affirmative action.

About Changthang:

  • Changthang is the land of nomads located in the east of Leh on the Chinese border.

  • Changthang means Eastern Flat Land.

  • The Changtang (alternatively spelled Changthang or Qangtang) is a part of the high altitude Tibetan Plateau in western and northern Tibet extending into southeastern Ladakh, India.

  • It is a cold desert that receives little rain.

  • It is one of the highest plateaus in the world.

  • This area is also known as Rupsho valley.

  • The average altitude of the area is around 14600 m above sea level.

  • The Changtang is home to the Changpa, a nomadic Tibetan people.

  • This area is best known for its giant lakes.

  • The two largest settlements within the Tibetan Changtang are Rutog Town the seat of Rutog County and Domar Township the seat of Shuanghu County.

  • Korzok monastry is located on the shore of the Lake Tso Moriri in Changthang region.

Janmashtami:

India is a diverse country with many festivals that are celebrated throughout the year. One of these festivals is Janmashtami also called Gokulashatami or krishnashtami is festival which is widely observed with much pomp and fervour.

Highlights:

  • The day marks the birth of Lord Krishna believed to be the eighth avatar of Lord Vishnu.

  • This year, Janmashtami fell on August 30, 2021.

  • It is usually observed on the eighth day or Ashtami of the Krishna Paksha in the month of Shravan or Bhadrapad (July-August) in India.

Celebrations across India:

  • The temples of Mathura and Vrindavan witness the most extravagant and colourful celebrations, as Lord Krishna is believed to have been born and spent his growing years there. Devotees also perform Raslila to recreate incidents from Krishna's life and to commemorate his love for Radha. As Lord Krishna was born at midnight, an idol of an infant Krishna is bathed and placed in a cradle at that time.

  • Maharashtra also sees a joyous celebration of this festival as people enact Krishna's childhood endeavours to steal butter and curd from earthen pots. This activity is called the Dahi Handi celebration, for which a matka or pot is suspended high above the ground, and people form a human pyramid to reach it and eventually break it.

  • The town of Dwarka in Gujarat, Krishna's own land, comes alive with major celebrations as hordes of visitors flock to the town.

  • The well-known culture of celebrating Janmashtami in Eastern and Northeastern India is attributed to the teachings of 15th and 16th century Sankardeva and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. The people of Manipur perform Manipuri dance, enacting Raslila – a love inspired dance drama act of Radha and Krishna.

  • In the eastern state of Odisha, specifically the region around Puri and in Nabadwip, West Bengal, the festival is also referred to as Sri Krishna Jayanti or simply Sri Jayanti. People celebrate Janmashtami by fasting and worship until midnight. The Bhagavata Purana is recited from the 10th chapter, a section dedicated to the life of Krishna. The next day is called "Nanda Ucchhaba" or the joyous celebration of Krishna's foster parents Nanda and Yashoda.

  • Gokulashtami is celebrated with great fervor in South India. In Kerala, people celebrate on September according to the Malayalam calendar. In Tamil Nadu, people decorate the floor with kolams (decorative pattern drawn with rice batter). Geetha Govindam and other such devotional songs are sung in praise of Krishna. Then they draw the footprints of Krishna from the threshold of the house till the pooja room, which depicts the arrival of Krishna into the house. A recitation of Bhagwadgita is also a popular practice.

Outside India

  • Janmashtami being one of the most popular festivals for the Hindu community, this auspicious day is not only celebrated in India but also observed worldwide across many countries with great enthusiasm like Nepal, Bangladesh, Fiji, Pakistan etc.

History of Janmashtami:

  • According to Hindu mythology, Krishna, the human incarnation of Lord Vishnu, was born on this day to destroy Mathura's demon king, Kansa, the brother of Krishna's virtuous mother, Devaki.

  • Considered one of the most powerful human incarnations of Lord Vishnu, Krishna was born around 5,200 years ago in Mathura.

  • He was born in an area of chaos.

  • It was a time when persecution was rampant, freedoms were denied, evil was everywhere, and when there was a threat to his life by his uncle King Kansa.

  • The sole objective of Lord Krishna's birth was to free the Earth from the evilness of demons.

  • He played an important role in Mahabharata and propagated the theory of bhakti and good karma.

World Sanskrit Day:

World Sanskrit Day, also known as Vishva-samskrita-dinam is an annual event focused around the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit.

Key Points:

  • The event incorporates lectures about the language and is aimed to promote its revival and maintenance.

  • The basic objective of celebrating Sanskrit Day and Sanskrit Week is to spread the word of Sanskrit language.

  • It is celebrated on Shraavana poornima, i.e., the full moon day of the Shraavana month in the Hindu calendar.

  • The Sanskrit organization Samskrita Bharati is involved in promoting the day.

  • In the year 2021, this day is celebrated on August 22.

  • This year, India is observing the Sanskrit Week from August 19 to August 25, 2021, to promote, popularize and cherish the importance of ancient language.

History:

The Government of India (GoI) decided to celebrate World Sanskrit Day in 1969, on the occasion of Raksha Bandhan that falls on the full moon day of the Hindu month of Shravana.

Why was Shraavana poornima chosen as Sanskrit day?

  • Shravani Purnima i.e. Raksha Bandhan is considered to be the festival of remembrance and worship of sages and worship for their dedication.

  • In Vedic literature it was called Shravani.

  • On this day, before the study of Vedas in Gurukulas, Yajñopavita which is a sacred thread is worn.

  • This ceremony is called Upanayana or Upakarma Sanskar.

  • The old Yajñopavita is also changed on this day.

  • Priests also tie raksha-sutras to the hosts.

  • Rishis are the original source of Sanskrit literature, hence Shravani Purnima is celebrated as Rishi Parv and World Sanskrit Day.

  • This day was chosen because the academic year in ancient India started on this day.

  • On this day the students start the study of Vedas in the gurukulas.

  • From the full moon of the month of Paush to the full moon of the month of Shraavana, the studies are stopped to learn other Vedantic scriptures.

  • This tradition is still unbroken in modern Vedic schools.

Note:

  • The New Education Policy (NEP) has laid an ambitious path for “mainstreaming” Sanskrit.

  • NEP also stated that Sanskrit universities will be turned into multi-disciplinary institutions of higher learning.

  • The Sanskrit language was declared as the second official language of Uttarakhand. 

Purpose of Sanskrit Day Celebration:

Sanskrit language, which has the status of Dev language, is now losing its existence.

In India too, the number of people who read, write, and understand it is very less. Sanskrit day (Sanskrit Diwas / National Sanskrit Day) is celebrated to remind society of the importance and necessity of Sanskrit. So that as time progresses people do not forget that Sanskrit is also a language.

Origin of Sanskrit language:

  • Sanskrit is known as the “mother of all languages" is now one of the least spoken.

  • Numerous languages arose from this language.

  • The Sanskrit language has the largest vocabulary of about 102 Arab 78 crores 50 lakh words.

  • The term Sanskrit is derived from the conjoining of the prefix 'Sam' meaning 'Samyak' which indicates 'entirely' and 'krit' indicates 'done'.

  • In terms of communication, reading and hearing Sanskrit term indicates perfectly or entirely done.

  • It is believed to be an Indo-Aryan language, which is said to have originated around 3500 years ago.

  • However, in the scriptures, the Sanskrit language is thought to have originated in the second millennium BCE, when the Rig Veda was composed.

  • This Indo-Aryan language has been designated as a classical language recognized for its scientific composition and is in high demand all over the world.

  • This language is also termed as Dev Vani means Gods language.

  • It is believed that Sanskrit language have been generated by the God Brahma who passed it to the rishis or sages that were living in celestial abodes and further they communicated it to their earthly disciples from where it spread on the earth.

  • In the written form the origin of the Sanskrit language is traced back to the 2nd millennium BCE when the Rig Veda a collection of hymns is assumed to have been written.

  • Sanskrit in literary terms is classified into two different periods,

  1. The Vedic period

  2. The Classical period.

  • In the Vedas sacred texts, Vedic Sanskrit is found mainly in the Rig Veda, the Puranas and the Upanishads.

  • The Vedas were composed in the period 1000 to 500 BCE.

Additional Info:

  • The language impressed some Europeans.

  • Sir William Jones, an English scholar, arrived in India in 1783 as a judge of the British Supreme Court in Calcutta.

  • He was the Asian Society’s founder.

  • He translated the Sanskrit author Kalidasa’s Abhijnana Shakuntala and Ritu Samhara as well as Jayadeva’s Gita Govinda into English.

  • Manusmriti was also translated into English by Jones.

  • Another scholar Sir Charles Wilkins in 1785 translated the Bhagavad Gita in to English.

  • The German philologist Max Muller also translated Hitopdesh which is a collection of Indian fables into German.

Some interesting facts about Sanskrit language:

  • Sanskrit language has an organized grammatical structure.

  • Even the vowels and consonants are arranged in a scientific pattern.

  • It is said that a person can express himself or herself in Sanskrit in one word only.

  • In English language too there are words whose origin can be traced back to Sanskrit like bangle from bangri, sugar from sakara, cash from karsha etc.

  • In Karnataka, everyone in the village is Mattur in Shimoga district speaks in Sanskrit language.

  • Sanskrit language is declared as an official language of Uttarakhand.

  • Sudharma is the only daily newspaper in the world in Sanskrit language.It has been published since 1970 from Mysore, Karnataka and is available online.

  • In classical music that is in the Carnatic and Hindustani, Sanskrit is used.

  • Sanskrit language has the largest vocabulary of about 102 arab 78 crore 50 lakh words.

  • The most computer friendly language is Sanskrit.

  • According to NASA scientist Rick Briggs, Sanskrit is the only unambiguous language in existence.

  • There is a University in America dedicated to Sanskrit.

  • Also, NASA has a department for research on Sanskrit manuscripts.

Onam:

Onam is an annual harvest festival celebrated in the Indian state of Kerala.

  • This year, the harvest festival began on August 12 and concluded on August 23, 2021.

Key Points about Onam:

  • Onam is also called Thiruonam and it is celebrated at the beginning of the month Chingam of Malayalam calendar.

  • It is the most revered and celebrated festival and is celebrated every year by the Malayali community across the world.

  • The 10-day long festival marks the beginning of harvest season as well as the appearance of the Vaman avatar of Lord Vishnu along with the homecoming of King Mahabali.

  • The festival begins from Atham (Hasta) nakshatram, and ends on Thiruvonam (Shravana) nakshatram.

  • The 10 days of the festival are named on the names of astrological stars as per the Malayalam calendar.

  • The ten days of celebration includes cultural activities like Atthachamayam, Pulikali, boat race, Kummati kali and tug of war.

The following are the 10 days of Onam and its significance:

  • The celebration of Onam begins with Atham. People in Kerala decorates their home with yellow flowers known as Pokkalam.

  • The 2nd day of the festival is known as Chithira. On this day, people clean their entire houses and add another layer of flowers to the Pokkalam.

  • The 3rd day of Onam is observed by meeting family members and exchanging gifts, known as Onakodi and jewellery.

  • The 4th day is considered the most auspicious one that marks the preparation of Onam Sadhya.

  • On the 5th day, the annual boat race known as the Vallamkali boat race is conducted from the town Aranmula on the banks of the Pamba river in Pathanamthitta. People of the Malayali community participate in this.

  • Thriketta is the 6th day of this harvest festival. From this day, the schools remain closed and kids start preparing for the devotional prayers.

  • With just two days left for the festival, the 7th day marks the beginning of the preparation for Onam Sandhya in which several dance performances are held.

  • The 8th day holds significance in festivities as the idols of Vamana and King Mahabali are prepared by using clay and placed in the centre of the Pokkalam.

  • On the 9th day of Uthradom, the festivities begin on a large scale. People start preparation for traditional meals by using fruits and vegetables.

  • The 10th day of the festival is the most important day of the carnival of Onam. It is believed that on Thiruvonam, the spirit of legendary King Mahabali visits the state of Kerala and hence, the festivities begin from early morning. The grand feast of Onam called Onam sadhya is also prepared on this day.

Legend:

  • The story behind Onam festival is interesting. According to legends, the asura king, Mahabali, who ruled Kerala, became very powerful.

  • He was a noble and just king and he was expanding his kingdom.

  • He conquered the earth and the netherworld, which made the gods in heaven restless.

  • They were threatened by the growing power of Mahabali.

  • To seek help, the gods went to Vishnu, who agreed to help them.

  • Vishnu, disguised as a dwarf Brahmin,Vamana, went to meet Mahabali, who was in the middle of a yagna (fire sacrifice).

  • Mahabali had declared that if anyone sought anything from him during the yagna, he would grant their wish.

  • Hence, the dwarf Brahmin asked Mahabali to give him land equivalent to his three paces. As soon as Mahabali agreed to give him the land, Vamana grew in stature.

  • With the first step he covered the sky and with the second step, he covered the earth. As one more step was remaining, Mahabali asked him to place the third step on him head.

  • With the final step, Vamana sent the Mahabali to netherworld but he granted Mahabli’s one wish to visit the earth and meet his people once a year.

  • Onam is celebrated on the day Mahabali returns to earth to meet his subject.

Saroops:

Recently, Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri carried on one of the saroops of the holy Guru Granth Sahib on his head which was flown in from Afghanistan.

About Saroop:

  • Saroop is a physical copy of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, also called Bir in Punjabi.

  • Every Bir has 1,430 pages, which are referred to as Ang.

  • The verses on every page remain the same.

  • The Sikhs consider the saroop of Guru Granth Sahib a living guru and treat it with utmost respect.

  • They believe that all the 10 Gurus were the same spirit in different bodies, and the Guru Granth Sahib is their eternal physical and spiritual form.

  • It was the fifth Sikh master, Guru Arjan Dev, who compiled the first Bir of the Guru Granth Sahib in 1604, and installed it at the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

  • Later, the tenth Sikh master, Guru Gobind Singh, added verses penned by the ninth master, his father Guru Tegh Bahadur, and compiled the Bir for the second and last time.

  • It was in 1708 that Guru Gobind Singh declared the Guru Granth Sahib the living Guru of the Sikhs.

  • Guru Granth Sahib is a compendium of hymns written by six Sikh gurus,15 saints, including Bhagat Kabir, Bhagat Ravidas, Sheikh Farid and Bhagat Namdev, 11 Bhatts (balladeers) and four Sikhs. The verses are composed in 31 ragas.

About the significance of the act of carrying the Saroop on one’s head:

  • The installation and transportation of Guru Granth Sahib is governed by a strict code of conduct called rehat maryada.

  • Under ideal circumstances, five baptised Sikhs are required to transfer the Guru Granth Sahib from one place to another.

  • As a mark of respect, the Bir of the Guru Granth Sahib is carried on the head, and the person walks barefoot.

  • Whenever a devout sees the Bir of Guru Granth Sahib passing by, s/he removes her shoes and bows.

  • A ceremonial whisk is waved high over the Guru Granth Sahib either on the move or while reading from it.

  • Gurdwaras have a separate resting place for the Saroop, called ‘Sukh Asan Sthan’ or ‘Sachkhand’ where the Guru rests at night. This takes place at the end of the day when the holy book is ceremoniously shut and rested.

  • In the morning, the saroop is again installed in a ceremony called ‘prakash’.

Note: Many tourists specially come to watch the prakash and sukha asan ceremony of the Guru Granth Sahib at the Golden Temple.

Hari singh Nalwa:

Recently the old cliché that states the Afghanistan is a “graveyard of empires” has been restored.

  • The reason for this is that during recent times the 2 superpowers of the world including erstwhile USSR and the USA decided to pull out their troops from Afghanistan as over the years, Afghanistan has been notoriously difficult to govern.

  • But Hari Singh Nalwa, a legendary Sikh commander, had once tamed the turbulent forces in Afghanistan and earned the reputation of being the “most feared Sikh warrior”.

About Hari Singh Nalwa:

  • Hari Singh Nalwa (1791–1837) was Commander-in-chief of the Sikh Khalsa Fauj, the army of the Sikh Empire.

  • He was born in Gujranwala, in the Majha region of Punjab to Dharam Kaur and Gurdial Singh Uppal, in a Sikh Uppal Khatri family. After his father died in 1798, he was raised by his mother.

  • He was one of the main and most trustworthy commanders of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s force.

  • He remained Governor of Kashmir, Hazara and Peshawar.

  • He is known for his role in the conquests of Kasur, Sialkot, Attock, Multan, Kashmir, Peshawar and Jamrud.

  • He defeated various Afghans and established control over various regions along the boundary of Afghanistan and prevented Afghans from entering Punjab through Khyber pass.

Note: Khyber Pass was the main route to enter India by the foreign invaders from 1000 AD till early 19th century.

  • During a hunt in 1804, a tiger attacked him and also killed his horse.

  • His fellow hunters attempted to protect him but he refused their offers and allegedly killed the tiger by himself bare handedly by tearing the tiger apart from its mouth, thus earning the cognomen Baghmar (Tiger-killer) and because of this Nalwa was attached to his name.

  • In 1818, Sikh army under Nalwa won the Battle of Peshawar and Nalwa was asked to be stationed there.

  • Nalwa took control over Jamrud in 1837, a fort at the entryway to Afghanistan through Khyber Pass.

Note: For his bravery and ferocity, the government of India released a stamp on the name of Nalwa in 2013.

Fun Fact:

  • Legend has it that Afghan mothers used to quieten their newborns by taking Nalwa's name and for young Afghans, his name was a terror spoken in hush hush.

  • And probably that's why even American generals used to tell Nalwa's story to motivate their troops when US-Afghan war was in its thick.

Arts Current Affairs - August 2021

Subhadra Kumari Chauhan:

Google paid tribute to Subhadra Kumari Chauhan on her 117th birth anniversary by dedicating a creative doodle to her.

Key Facts:

  • She authored a number of works in Hindi poetry, with Jhansi ki Rani being her most famous composition.

  • The poem, which describes the life of Rani Lakshmi Bai, is one of the most recited and sung poems in Hindi literature.

  • Her poetry and prose primarily centered on the hardships that Indian women overcame, such as gender and caste discrimination.

  • Her poetry remained uniquely underscored by her resolute nationalism.

About Subhadra Kumari Chauhan:

  • Subhadra Kumari Chauhan was born on August 16, 1904 in Nihalpur village of Uttar Pradesh

  • She was an Indian activist, freedom fighter, and poet.

  • She wrote in the Khariboli dialect of Hindi, in a simple, clear style.

  • She got her first poem published when she was 9-years-old.

  • One of her most popular poems is "Jhansi ki Rani" (about the courageous Queen of Jhansi) which is the most recited poems of Hindi literature.

  • This and her other poems, Jallianwala Bagh mein Vasant, Veeron Ka Kaisa Ho Basant, Rakhi Ki Chunauti, and Vida, openly talk about the freedom movement.

  • Other remarkable poems by her include ‘Balika ka Parichay’ and ‘Khilonewala.

  • During 1940s, she published about 88 poems and 46 short stories for the fight of India’s independence.

  • She died in 1948.

  • The ICGS Subhadra Kumari Chauhan, an Indian Coast Guard ship, was named for the poet.

Her role during freedom movement:

  • Subhadra and her husband joined Mahatma Gandhi’s Non-Cooperation Movement in 1921.

  • Her poems are said to have inspired great numbers of Indian youth to participate in the Indian Freedom Movement.

  • She was the first woman Satyagrahi to court arrest in Nagpur.

  • She was jailed twice for her involvement in protests against British rule in 1923 and 1942.

  • She was a member of the legislative assembly of the state (erstwhile Central Provinces).

Today, Chauhan’s poetry remains a staple in many Indian classrooms as a symbol of historical progress, encouraging future generations to stand up against social injustice and celebrate the words that shaped a nation’s history.

World Photography Day:

World Photography Day is celebrated on 19 August every year.

Highlights:

  • This day is observed to promote photography as a hobby and also inspire photographers around the globe to share a single photo with the rest of the world.

  • The day commemorates the importance of cameras and photography in our lives.

  • Photography enthusiasts come together across the world to celebrate the art of taking photographs.

  • The first official World Photo Day was observed on August 19, 2010.

History of the day:

  • The origins of World Photography Day can be traced back to 1837.

  • In France, Joseph Nicephore Niepce and Louis Daguerre invented the daguerreotype, the first-ever photographic process.

  • It was on August 19, 1939 that the French government purchased the patent of Daguerreotype process and announced the invention as a gift “free to the world”.

  • Later on, the day began to be marked as World Photography Day.

  • In 1861, the first durable colour photograph was captured.

  • From then on, the medium of photography kept evolving. The first digital photograph was created in 1957, two decades before the digital camera was invented.

Significance of World Photography Day:

  • The science of photography has played a pivotal role throughout human history.

  • Today, due to photography, there are records of historic moments because they have been captured in photographs and can be looked at forever.

  • Photography can capture expressions, feelings, ideas, and moments instantly and immortalise them for future generations to witness.

MAMI film festival:

Indian Actor-producer Priyanka Chopra Jonas was recently announced as the chairperson of Jio MAMI Film Festival, almost four months after Deepika Padukone stepped down from the position.

Key Points:

  • The Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI) unveiled its plans for the coming year, edition and the change in leadership.

  • Priyanka was unanimously nominated by MAMI’s Board of Trustees which comprises Nita M Ambani (Co-Chairperson), Anupama Chopra (Festival Director), Ajay Bijli, Anand G. Mahindra, Farhan Akhtar, Isha Ambani, Kabir Khan, Kaustubh Dhavse, Kiran Rao, Rana Daggubati, Riteish Deshmukh, Rohan Sippy, Siddharth Roy Kapur, Vikramaditya Motwane, Vishal Bhardwaj and Zoya Akhtar.

  • The board also welcomed two new members to its fold, acclaimed filmmaker Anjali Menon and renowned filmmaker-archivist Shivendra Singh Dungarpur

  • The hybrid edition of the festival will take place in March depending on how the COVID-19 situation is in the country.

  • The tentative dates of the festival are March 11 to March 15, 2022.

About MAMI Film Festival:

  • The Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI) is a public trust that organizes the annual international film festival in Mumbai known as the Mumbai Film Festival.

  • It was founded in 1997.

  • The festival previews new films of all genres from around the world with a range of Competitions and Showcase categories

Books and Authors:

OPERATION KHUKRI:

CDS General Bipin Rawat was recently presented a book “OPERATION KHUKRI” authored by Major General Rajpal Punia & Ms Damini Punia.

Highlights:

  • The book highlights the Indian Army’s successful rescue mission in Sierra Leone as part of the United Nations. The year was 2000, Sierra Leone, in West Africa, had been ravaged by years of civil strife.

  • With the intervention of the United Nations, two companies of the Indian Army were deployed in Kailahun as part of a United Nations peacekeeping mission.

About the Operation Khukri:

  • Operation Khukri was one of the Indian Army’s most successful international missions.

  • This book is a first-hand account by Major Rajpal Punia, who, after three months of impasse and failed diplomacy, orchestrated the operation, surviving the ambush of the RUF in prolonged jungle warfare twice, and returning with all 233 soldiers standing tall.

Projects in Somnath:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi recenlty inaugurated and laid the foundation stone of multiple projects in Somnath, Gujarat.

Key Details:

  • Development of Somnath has been proposed as one of the iconic tourism destinations by the Ministry of Tourism under its Integrated Destination Development Scheme (IDDS) for development of components such as Prabhas Patan Museum, Tourist Amenities, Haat etc.

  • A few regional interventions such as Keshod Airport, improvement of NH-51, development of Sea Plane services etc. for providing improved connectivity to Somnath, ensuring a comprehensive and broad development of the entire region are also proposed under this under consideration project.

  • The projects inaugurated include:

  1. Somnath Promenade

  2. Somnath Exhibition Centre

  3. The reconstructed temple precinct of Old Somnath

  4. Foundation for Parvati temple

  • The inaugurations of the new projects at Somnath Temple were launched highlighting the history of its plunder and reconstruction time and again.

  • He was making a reference to the Taliban and reminded the world that the reign of terror is always temporary and cannot be permanent.

About:

Somnath Promenade:

  • The Somnath Promenade has been developed under PRASHAD (Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual, Heritage Augmentation Drive) Scheme at a total cost of over ₹ 47 crore.

Somnath Exhibition Centre:

  • The Somnath Exhibition Centre, developed in the premises of ‘Tourist Facilitation Centre’, displays the exhibits from dismantled parts of old Somnath temple and its sculptures having Nagar style temple architecture of old Somnath.

The reconstructed temple precinct of Old Somnath:

  • The reconstructed temple precinct of Old (Juna) Somnath has been completed by Shree Somnath Trust with a total outlay of ₹ 3.5 crore.

  • This temple is also referred to as AhilyabaiTemple since it was built by Queen Ahilyabai of Indore, when she found that the old temple was in ruins.

  • The entire old temple complex has been holistically redeveloped for the safety of pilgrims and with augmented capacity.

  • The development works of Juna Somnath Mandir Premises include a ramp for universal access, CourtyYard, sitting arrangements for the pilgrims, 15 shops, lift and two large halls.

Foundation for Parvati temple:

  • The proposed Parvatimata Mandir in Shree SomnathTemple premises would be a grand structure with an area of 1650 Met2 and 71 Ft. height using Aras Stones from Ambaji, Banaskantha.

  • Shree Parvati Temple is proposed to be constructed with a total outlay of ₹ 30 Cr.

  • There would be 44 poles, as were there in the original temple, which would be created using Marble with an artistic way.

  • The core Garbh Grih of the Madir contais the land of 380 Met2, and Dance Mandap spreading over 1250 Met2.

About Somnath Temple:

  • Som in Hindi means Moon and Nath means Lord and hence Somnath means the Lord of Moon i.e, is Lord Shiva.

  • somnath Temple is the first among the 12 Jyotirlingas which are symbolic representations of Lord Shiva.

  • Located at the Veraval Port or Prabhas Pattan in Saurashtra, Gujrat, the present temple is built in the Chalukyan style.

  • This Architecture is also known as the “Kailash Mahameru Prasad” style.

  • It reflects the skill of the SompuraSalats, one of Gujarat’s master masons.

History:

  • It is believed to have been raided and plundered at least 17 times in history.

  • Somnath’s first temple is said to have existed 2000 years ago.

  • In 649 AD, King Maitre of Vallabhaneni built a second temple in place of the temple and renovated it.

  • In 725, the old ruler of Sindh took his army and attacked the temple and destroyed the temple.

  • Pratishtha King Nag Bhatt II constructed the temple for the third time in 815 using a red stone (sandstone) stone.

  • In 1026, Mahmud Ghazni lent the precious jewels and property of Somnath temple.

  • After looting, slaughtering innumerable pilgrims of the temple and burning the temple and destroying it.

  • During 1026-1042 Solanki Raja Bhimdev built the fourth temple of Bhoj and Anhilwad Patan.

  • Somnath was destroyed when Delhi Sultanate occupied Gujarat in 1299.

  • Afzal Khan, the commander of Ala-ud-din Khilji, plundered it.

  • In 1394 it was destroyed again.

  • In 1706, Mughal ruler Aurangzeb again demolished the temple.

Ahilyabai and Somnath:

  • Dedicated to Lord Shiva, Ahilyabai Temple was built by Maratha queen Ahilyabai Holkar in 17th century.

  • The history of Ahilyabai Temple and Somnath Temple is closely interlinked.

  • It is said that this temple was constructed as a substitute for the main Somnath Temple when it was raided and ravaged by the Muslim rulers.

  • It is also said that the location of the swayambhulinga came in Ahilyabai's dreams post which she started the construction immediately.

  • Many Hindus believe that Ahilyabai Temple contains the original Jyotirling which was hidden here assuming that the original Somnath Temple is going to be raided.

Modern/Post Modern Indian History:

  • Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the Iron man of India, was instrumental in the construction of the present temple.

  • Renowned temple architect Prabhas Chandar designed it.

  • The first President of India Dr Rajendra Prasad installed the Jyotirling in the new temple on May 11, 1951.

  • He was criticised by the then Prime Minister for displaying personal faith in public while being on the highest constitutional post of a secular nation.

  • Recently, a similar Pran Pratistha Ritual was done at Ayodhya Ram Mandir by the present PM Modi.

How the Earth Got Its Beauty: Veteran writer, philanthropist and entrepreneur, Sudha Murty, has recently launched her new book titled ‘How The Earth Got Its Beauty’.

Highlights:

  • The book was published by Penguin Random House imprint Puffin.

  • This book features illustrations by Priyanka Pachpande.

About Sudha Murthy:

  • Sudha Murthy is the chairperson of the Infosys Foundation, and wife of the co-founder of Infosys, N. R. Narayana Murthy.

  • She is a prolific writer in English and Kannada.

  • She has written novels, technical books, travelogues, collections of short stories and non-fictional pieces, and four books for children.

  • Her books have been translated into all the major Indian languages.

Awards:

  • Sudha Murty was the recipient of the R.K. Narayan Award for Literature and the Padma Shri in 2006.

  • In 2021, she was awarded the Attimabbe Award from the government of Karnataka for excellence in Kannada literature.

Quit India Movement: The 78th anniversary of the Quit India Movement was observed on 8 August 2020. Also known as the August Kranti Din, the mass civil disobedience movement is considered to be one of the most significant events in the history of India's freedom struggle.

Highlights:

  • To commemorate the movement, Union Minister of Culture, Tourism, and Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) Shri G. Kishan Reddy inaugurated an exhibition to mark the 79th anniversary of the 'Quit India Movement' at National Archives of India in New Delhi today in presence of Ministers of State for Culture Shri Arjun Ram Meghwal and Smt Meenakshi Lekhi .

  • The exhibition was put up at the National Archives of India as part of 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' being celebrated to commemorate 75 years of Independence.

  • This exihibiton is an endeavour to portray the significance of the Quit India Movement in the Freedom Struggle of India through public records, private papers, maps, photographs and other allied material.

  • The exhibition will remain open from 9th August onwards from 10 AM to 5:30 PM for the public till 8th November this year.

Note: AzadiKaAmritMahotsav celebrates the sentiment of oneness and freedom.

History:

  • Quit India covers the period from 1939 when the Second World War broke out.

  • On 8 Aug 1942, Mahatma Gandhi gave a clarion call to end the British rule and launched the Quit India Movement at the session of the All-India Congress Committee in Mumbai.

  • On this day in 1942, after the failure of Cripps Mission, Gandhiji gave the call to “Do or Die” in his Quit India speech delivered at the Gowalia Tank Maidan in Mumbai.

  • He launched the Quit India Movement at the session of the All-India Congress Committee in Mumbai.

  • The movement began from Gawalia Tank in Mumbai.

  • It also presents the role of the INA and Subhash Chandra Bose in India’s freedom struggle.

Kakori Train Action: The UP (Uttar Pradesh) government recently renamed a landmark freedom movement called “Kakori Train Conspiracy” as “Kakori Train Action.”

Key Highlights:

  • A programme was held on August 9, 2021 to commemorate the anniversary of the event at Kakori-based Kakori Shaheed Smarak on the outskirts of Lucknow.

  • The event witnessed the attendance of UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and UP Governor Anandiben Patel.

  • On this occasion, the UP Government paid tributes to the revolutionaries who were hanged for robbing a train at Kakori in Uttar Pradesh.

  • The family members of the freedom fighters were also honoured.

Key Points:

  • Revolutionaries had robbed the train in order to buy weapons in 1925.

  • Those revolutionaries were some passionate people who were having a single goal of independence of India from British rule.

  • Their act was a glorious one and using the derogatory word 'kand' (meaning conspiracy) would only malign their image. Hence, a decision was taken to replace 'kand' with 'action'."

  • Freedom fighters Ram Prasad Bismil, Ashfaqulla Khan and Roshan Singh were hanged to death on December 19, 1927 for their involvement in Kakori robbery.

About Kakori Train Action:

  • It was a train robbery that took place on August 9, 1925 in a village called Kakori near Lucknow during Indian Independence Movement against British Raj.

  • Robbery was organized by Hindustan Republican Association (HRA).

  • It was conceived by Ram Prasad Bismil and Ashfaqullah Khan. HRA was established to carry out revolutionary activities against British Empire with the objective of achieving independence.

What was the main purpose of the robbery?

  • The HRA was established to carry out revolutionary activities against the British Empire in India to help India gain independence.

  • Revolutionaries like Bismil and his party needed money to purchase weapons for HRA. So, they decided to plunder a train on a Northern Railway line.

  • Plan for robbery was executed by Ram Prasad Bismil, Ashfaqulla Khan, Rajendra Lahiri, Keshab Chakravarty, Mukundi Lal, Banwari Lal etc.

Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA):

  • HSRA was a revolutionary organization which was founded by Ram Prasad Bismil, Sachindra Nath Sanyal, Sachindra Nath Bakshi and Jogesh Chandra Chatterjee.

  • Earlier it was known as Hindustan Republican Association (HRA).

National Maritime Heritage Complex (NMHC): The National Maritime Heritage Complex (NMHC) is to be developed as an international tourist destination.

Key Details:

  • It will be dedicated to the legacy of maritime heritage of India, at Lothal in Gujarat.

  • It will comprise of several tourist facilities or amenities like National Maritime Heritage Museum,

  • Maritime Research Institute, Heritage Theme Park,

  • landscaping and recreational venues in order to attract tourists for each coastal states and union territories to showcase the maritime heritage of India.

  • The plans for providing digital tourism includes the following:

  • Virtual reality to offer immersive experience of maritime heritage.

  • Sound and light shows

  • Touch screen kiosks and

  • Short films on important events of Maritime history.

About NMHC:

  • The National Maritime Heritage Complex (NMHC)which is to be developed in Lothal region of Gujarat as an international tourist destination will showcase maritime heritage of India from ancient to modern times.

  • It seeks to create an edutainment approach for the interest of visitors.

  • Note: Edutainment means education with entertainment.

  • It will cover an area of 400 acres comprising structures like Heritage Theme Park, National Maritime Heritage Museum, Maritime Institute, Lighthouse Museum, eco-resorts etc.

  • It will also comprise pavilions where all coastal states of India and union territories can showcase artifacts and maritime heritage.

  • NMHC will recreate the ancient Lothal city, a prominent city and port of ancient Indus valley civilization.

About Lothal:

  • Lothal was one of the southernmost cities of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization.

  • It was located in the Bhāl region of the modern state of Gujarāt.

  • Construction of the city began around 2200 BCE.

  • Exploration of the Sabarmati Valley in the mid-1950s led to the discovery of Lothal and several other Harappan sites

  • The excavation started from 13 February 1955 to 19 May 1960 by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to unearth the ancient city.

  • Lothal is a combination of two words; Loth and thal, which in Gujarati means ‘the mound of the dead.’

  • Fun Fact: Mohenjo-daro too means the mound of the dead in Sindhi.

  • The 4,500-year-old city was mathematically planned. It had a grid pattern with proper streets crossing at right angles and drainage systems.

  • The city had world’s earliest known dock, which connected the city to the ancient course of Sabarmati River.

  • The river lied on the trade route of Harappan cities in Sindh and peninsula of Saurashtra.

Maharana Udai Singh II: 4th of August is the birth anniversary of Maharana Udai Singh II who was the Maharana of Mewar and the founder of the city of Udaipur in the present-day Rajasthan state of India.

About:

  • Udai Singh II was born on 4 August 1522 in Chittor.

  • He was the fourth son of Maharana Sangram Singh (Rana Sangha) and Rani Karnavati (Princess of Bundi).

  • After Rana Sanga’s death, his enemies tried to kill Udai Singh II who was only a child at that time.

  • He was rescued by his nurse Panna Dhai who replaced him with her own son and sacrificed his life for the safety of the young prince.

  • He was crowned in Kumbhalgarh by the nobles of Mewar.

  • He was 12th ruler of the Mewar dynasty.

  • Later when he ascended the throne, he was attacked by Akbar.

  • At this time, he had already left Chittor 9 years ago, ending up in Udaipur, giving Mewar its new capital.

  • Although after the weakening of the Mughals, the Rajput kings recaptured most of Mewar but failed to win over Chittor.

  • Thus Udaipur which had been safer from the Mughal influence because of its mountainous terrain remained the capital of Mewar till it became a part of Union of India 1948.

  • He died on 28 February 1572 in Gogunda.

  • Before his death, Jagmal tried to seize the throne but the nobles of Mewar prevented Jagmal from succeeding and placed Maharana Pratap Singh on the throne on 1 March 1572 who marked the Rajputana history with his heroism and courage, making his father’s presence in history significant and imperative.

About Udaipur:

  • Udaipur, formerly the capital of the Mewar Kingdom, is a city in the western Indian state of Rajasthan.

  • It was founded by Maharana Udai Singh II in 1559.

  • Often referred to as the 'Venice of the East', the city of lakes Udaipur is located around azure water lakes and is hemmed in by lush green hills of Aravallis which separates it from the Thar Desert.

  • It is home to Jaisamand Lake, claimed to be the second largest man-made sweet water lake in Asia.

  • The city is also known for its profusion of zinc and marble.

  • Solar observatory in Lake Fateh Sagar is the only observatory in India located on an island and has been made on the pattern of Big Bear Lake in Southern California.

  • Dubbed "the most romantic spot on the continent of India" by British administrator James Tod, Udaipur is a tourist destination and is known for its history, culture, scenic locations and the Rajput-era palaces.

Books and Authors:

My Own Mazagon: It is a new book titled “My Own Mazagon” authored by Captain Ramesh Babu.

Highlights:

  • This book has been published by Indus Source Books.

  • It will be jointly released by Vice Admiral R. Hari Kumar, Flag Officer Commanding in Chief, Western Naval Command, Vice Admiral Narayan Prasad, (Retd.), and CMD Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited.

About the Book:

  • The book features the history and story of Mazagon, the island which was merged into a single entity as Bombay.

  • It rediscovers the forgotten history of Mazagon and resurrects the identity of Maza Gaon, or ‘My own Village’.

About Captain Ramesh Babu:

  • Captain Ramesh Babu retired from Mumbai after serving the Indian Navy at Mazagon Dock.

  • Other books authored by Capt. Babu: “After You Sir: A Collection of School Stories” and “Calicut Heritage Trails”.

Leopard Diaries – the Rosette in India: Wildlife Biologist, Sanjay Gubbi authored a book about Leopard titled ‘Leopard Diaries – the Rosette in India’.

Key Details:

  • The content of this book by the author features about the food habits, ecological context, and conservation of Leopard along with the suggestions to overcome leopard–human conflict.

  • The book also details Sanjay Gubbi’s practical engagement as a conflict manager, adviser to the State government, and leopard PR (Public Relations) person.

  • The book was published by Westland.

About the Author:

  • Sanjay Gubbi is a wildlife biologist, Scientist (Western Ghats), working on the conservation of large carnivores like tigers and leopards.

  • He was awarded Whitley Award (popularly known as the Green Oscars) (2017) and the Co-Existence Award (2019) among several others, for his work.

Additional Info:

  • Leopard is one of the five extant species in the genus Panthera, a member of the cat family, Felidae.

  • As per the government’s report, Madhya Pradesh has the highest number of leopards, about 26 per cent of the total number estimated in the country.

Dholavira : Dholavira, the archaeological site of a Harappan-era city in Gujarat, received the UNESCO world heritage site tag on July 27, 2021.

Key Highlights:

  • This is the Indian second site to be included in the world heritage list this month after the Ramappa Temple at Palampet in Telangana’s Warangal.

  • Dholavira has become the 40th from India to make the list and the first site of the ancient Indus Valley Civilisation (IVC) in India to get the tag.

  • The IVC acropolis is located on a hillock near present-day Dholavira village in Kutch district, from which it gets its name.

  • Both Dholavira and the Ramappa Temple were included in the list during the 44th session of the UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee held at Fuzhou in China.

  • Gujarat now has four world heritage sites. They are:

  1. Dholavira

  2. Champaner near Pavagadh

  3. Rani ki Vav in Patan

  4. The historic city of Ahmedabad

  • The 40 world heritage properties in India include 32 cultural, seven natural and one mixed property.

  • Apart from India, countries like Italy, Spain, Germany, China and France also have 40 such sites each.

About Dholavira Site:

  • Dholavira is located on the Khadir Island in Great Rann of Kutch (GRK) of Kutch district in the state of Gujarat.

  • It was discovered in 1968 by archaeologist Jagat Pati Joshi who later served as the ASI director from 1987 to 1990.

  • The site’s excavation between 1990 and 2005 under the supervision of archaeologist Ravindra Singh Bisht uncovered the ancient city.

  • This city dates back to approximately 3000 BC and it is believed that the city was occupied till 1500 BC.

  • Dholavira is an exceptional example of a proto-historic Bronze Age urban settlement in South Asia, pertaining to the Harappan Civilization and bears evidence of a multi-cultural and stratified society during the 3rd and 2nd millennia BCE (Before Common Era).

  • As per the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), in the Kutch region, Dholavira is known as Kotda Timba (the fort mound).

  • The city of Dholavira is spread over 22 hectares and it is Indus Valley Civilisation’s fifth largest archaeological site.

  • The excavated remains clearly indicate the origin of the settlement, its growth, zenith and the subsequent decline in the form of continuous changes in the configuration of the city, architectural elements and various other attributes.

Note:

  • Since the excavation at the site, the ASI has developed a museum here.

  • Dholavira, a village with a population of around 2,000, is the nearest human settlement at present.

  • Near the ancient city is a fossil park where wood fossils are preserved.

Distinct features:

  • After Mohen-jo-Daro, Ganweriwala and Harappa in Pakistan and Rakhigarhi in Haryana of India, Dholavira is the fifth largest metropolis of IVC.

  • This site is divided into three parts. They are :

  1. The middle town

  2. The citadel

  3. The lower town

  • The walls are made of sandstone or limestone instead of mud bricks in many other Harappan sites and all of them were connected to a sewage network.

  • Some of the unique features of the Dholavira site are as follows:

  • A cascading series of water reservoirs, outer fortification,

  • Two multi-purpose grounds — one of which was used for festivities and as a marketplace — nine gates with unique designs, and

  • Funerary architecture featuring tumulus — hemispherical structures like the Buddhist Stupas.

  • While unlike graves at other IVC sites, no mortal remains of humans have been discovered at Dholavira.

  • Ornamental beads, Red earthenware and microlithic tools were also found during the excavation.

  • Remains of a copper smelter indicate of Harappans, who lived in Dholavira, knew metallurgy.

  • It was also a hub of manufacturing jewellery made of shells and semi-precious stones, like agate and used to export timber.

  • It is believed that traders of Dholavira used to source copper ore from present-day Rajasthan and Oman and UAE and export finished products.

Fall of Dholavira:

As per the historians, Dholavira entered a phase of severe aridity from 2000 BC, due to climate change and rivers like Saraswati drying up. Because of a drought-like situation, people started migrating toward the Ganges valley or towards south Gujarat and further beyond in Maharashtra.

Additional Info:

What are World Heritage Sites?

  • World Heritage Sites are cultural and/or natural sites of 'Outstanding Universal Value', which are important across countries and generations.

  • Sites are nominated to and designated by the World Heritage Convention (an organization of UNESCO).

  • For example, World Heritage Sites might be ancient ruins or historical structures, buildings, cities, deserts, forests, islands, lakes, monuments, mountains, or wilderness areas.

Background:

  • UNESCO seeks to protect and preserve such sites through the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage.

  • This international treaty was drawn up in 1972.

  • Governments of countries that have ratified the Convention (States Parties) identify and nominate suitable sites to the World Heritage Committee for inscription on the list maintained by UNESCO.

World Heritage Criteria:

  • To be included on the World Heritage List, sites must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one out of ten selection criteria.

  • Until the end of 2004, World Heritage sites were selected on the basis of six cultural and four natural criteria.

  • With the adoption of the revised Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention, only one set of ten criteria exists.

Selection criteria:

For a property to be included on the World Heritage List, the World Heritage Committee must find that it meets one or more of the following criteria:

  1. To represent a masterpiece of human creative genius;

  2. To exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design;

  3. To bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared?

  4. To be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history?

  5. To be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change;

  6. To be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance. (The Committee considers that this criterion should preferably be used in conjunction with other criteria);

  7. To contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance;

  8. To be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth's history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features;

  9. To be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals;

  10. To contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.

The protection, management, authenticity and integrity of properties are also important considerations.

Listings:

  • World Heritage status is a high accolade that brings with it responsibilities and international scrutiny.

  • The World Heritage Convention’s operational guidelines say that a tentative list is like an inventory of properties a country thinks should be on the World Heritage Site.

  • After UNESCO includes a property in the tentative list, the country prepares a nomination document that will be considered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.

Ramappa’s heritage status:

  • In this case, the nomination was under Criterion I (Masterpiece of human creative genius) and Criterion III (bearing a unique or at least an exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition, which is living or which has disappeared).

  • Earlier, the International Council of Historic Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) had evaluated Ramappa’s heritage status.

Maharashtra Bhushan: The Maharashtra Bhushan Selection Committee chaired by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray recently unanimously selected legendary playback singer Asha Bhosle for the prestigious award.

Highlights:

  • The Maharashtra Bhushan Puraskar will be given to legendary playback singer Asha Bhosle for the year 2021.

About the award:

  • The Maharashtra Bhushan is a highest civilian award presented annually by the government of Maharashtra.

  • It was first awarded in 1996 to Purushottam Laxman Deshpande in the field of Literature.

  • It was initially conferred in every years in the fields of Literature, Art, Sport, and Science.

  • Later the fields of Social Work, Journalism, and Public Administration and Health Services were included.

  • The award is presented for outstanding achievement in their field.

About Asha Bhosle:

  • Asha Bhosle is best known for her playback singing in Hindi cinema, although she has a wider repertoire.

  • Her career started in 1943 and has spanned over seven decades.

  • She has done playback singing for over a thousand movies.

  • She was officially acknowledged by the Guinness Book of World Records as the most recorded artist in music history.

  • The Government of India (GoI) honoured her with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2000 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2008.

  • She is the sister of the Indian legendary playback singer Lata Mangeshkar and belongs to the prominent Mangeshkar family.

NGA: The National Gallery of Australia (NGA) has announced that it would return 14 works of art from its Asian art collection to India.

Highlights:

  • The significant artworks also includes bronze and stone sculptures, a painted scroll and photographs, some of which were likely stolen, illegally excavated or unethically acquired from the country.

  • The works of art being repatriated include 13 objects connected to Indian art dealer Subhash Kapoor through Art of the Past and one acquired from art dealer William Wolff.

  • The total combined valuation of these artworks is $3 million.

  • Some of the artworks which are being returned to India dates back to the period of the Chola dynasty.

  • Some of the works being returned are:

  • Dancing child-saint Sambandar of 12th century belonging to Chola dynasty,

  • Processional standard [alam], from Hyderabad,

  • Arch for a Jain shrine (11th-12th century), seated Jina, 1163 from Mount Abu region, Rajasthan,

  • The divine couple Lakshmi and Vishnu [Lakshmi Narayana] (11-12th century), and

  • Durga Mahisasuramardini, from Gujarat.

About Sambandar:

  • Sambandar, also referred to as Thirugnana Sambandar was a Saiva poet-saint of Tamil Nadu who lived sometime in the 7th century CE.

  • He was a contemporary of Appar, another Saiva poet-saint.

  • He was a child prodigy who lived just 16 years.

  • According to the Tamil Shaiva tradition, he composed an oeuvre of 16,000 hymns in complex meters, of which 383 (384) hymns with 4,181 stanzas have survived.

  • These narrate an intense loving devotion (bhakti) to the Hindu god Shiva.

  • The surviving compositions of Sambandar are preserved in the first three volumes of the Tirumurai, and provide a part of the philosophical foundation of Shaiva Siddhanta.

Background:

  • When Indian police arrested Kapoor in 2012 they listed the Dancing Shiva as one of the stolen items, and it soon became clear the sculpture had been ripped out of a temple in southern India.

  • In 2014 then-prime Australian minister Tony Abbott handed the Dancing Shiva to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a visit to New Delhi.

  • Since then, the NGA has returned another five artworks it purchased from Kapoor to the Indian government, including a third-century rock carving and a series of exquisite stone sculptures.

Amagarh Fort: The Amagarh Fort in Japur is recently in news as it has become a center of a dispute between the tribal Meena community and local Hindu groups.

What is the dispute about?

  • Members of the Meena community say the Amagarh Fort was built by a Meena ruler predating Rajput rule in Jaipur, and has been their holy site for centuries.

  • People from the community used to worship Amba Mata and other deities in the fort.

  • The conflict began in June when a saffron flag was hoisted on the fort and a few idols were allegedly vandalised.

  • Meena community members accused Hindu groups of trying to appropriate tribal symbols into the Hindutva fold, and of changing the name of Amba Mata to Ambika Bhawani.

History of Amagarh Fort:

  • According to historian Rima Hooja, the present form of the Amagarh Fort was given in the 18th century by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, founder of Jaipur.

  • It has always been believed that there was some construction at the place before Jai Singh II built the fort.

  • Prior to Rajput rule by the Kachhwaha dynasty, Jaipur and its nearby regions were ruled by Meenas, who had political control.

  • The Meena community identifies themselves as tribals with a separate set of codes.

  • The community considers Amagarh Fort as one of their holy cites and state that it was built by a Meena ruler before the Rajputs ruled Jaipur.

  • The fort was built by a Meena Sardar from the Nala gotta, now the Badgoti Meena.

  • However, the history of the Meena community in the region is largely oral in nature.

Arts Current Affairs - July 2021

Cannes Film Festival 2021: The 74th Cannes film festival ended on 17 July 2021 in the south of France with the awarding of its top prize, the Palme d'Or.

Highlights:

  • The glamorous event which is the first major film festival took place fully in person since the start of the pandemic.

  • This year's opening film was the band Sparks' musical Annette, starring Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard.

  • The awards of the 74th Cannes Film Festival were decided by a jury chaired by Spike Lee and handed out at the event’s closing ceremony in the Grand Theatre Lumiere.

  • For the first time in history, women outnumbered men five to four in the Cannes Film Festival’s main international competition jury.

  • The women members of the jury were Mati Diop, Mylene Farmer, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jessica Hausner and Melanie Laurent. Kleber Mendonca Filho, Tahar Rahim and Song Kang-ho served alongside the quintet.

  • French director, Julia Ducournau of ‘Titane’, a horror drama becomes the first female director in the last 28 years to win the Palme d’or at Cannes Film Festival.

List of the main winners:

  • Palme d'Or: Julia Ducournau for "Titane" (France)

  • Grand Prix: Shared by Ashgar Farhadi for "A Hero" (Iran) and Juho Kuosmanen for "Compartment No.6" (Finland)

  • Best director: Leos Carax "Annette" (France)

  • Best actress: Renate Reinsve for "Worst Person in the World" (Norway)

  • Best actor: Caleb Landry Jones for "Nitram" (US)

  • Best screenplay: Hamaguchi Ryusuke and Takamasa Oe for "Drive My Car" (Japan)

  • Jury prize: Shared by Nadav Lapid for "Ahed's Knee" (Israel) and Apichatpong Weerasethakul for "Memoria" (Thailand)

  • Best first film: Antoneta Kusijanovic for "Murina" (Croatia)

  • Best short film: Hong Kong's "All The Crows In The World" Tang Yi

Additional Info:

First woman to win the Palme d’or:

  • Jane Campion of New Zealand was the first woman to win the Palme d’or for “The Piano” in the year 1993.

About Cannes Festival:

  • Cannes is an annual film festival held in Cannes, France.

  • It previews new films of all genres, including documentaries, from all around the world.

  • Founded in 1946, the invitation-only festival is held annually (usually in May) at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès.

  • The Cannes Festival until 2003 was called the International Film Festival (Festival international du film) and in English it is known as the Cannes Film Festival.

  • The festival was formally accredited by the FIAPF (Fédération Internationale des Associations de Producteurs de Films; English: International Federation of Film Producers Associations) in 1951.

  • On 1 July 2014, co-founder and former head of French pay-TV operator Canal+, Pierre Lescure, took over as President of the Festival, while Thierry Frémaux became the General Delegate.

  • The board of directors also appointed Gilles Jacob as Honorary President of the Festival.

  • It is one of the "Big Three" major European film festivals, alongside the Venice Film Festival in Italy, the Berlin International Film Festival in Germany, as well as one of the "Big Five" major international film festivals, which consists of the three major European film festivals, the Toronto International Film Festival in Canada, and the Sundance Film Festival in the United States.

Payal Kapadia: Indian Director Director Payal Kapadia’s, “A Night of Knowing Nothing” won the Oeil d’or (Golden Eye) award for best documentary at the 74th Cannes Film Festival.

Highlights:

  • The Mumbai-based filmmaker’s first feature bagged the prestigious prize in a formidable field made up of 28 documentaries presented across various sections of the festival.

  • A Night of Knowing Nothing screened as part of the Directors’ Fortnight, a section that runs parallel to the festival.

  • Kapadia’s film was competing for the award against Todd Haynes’ The Velvet Underground, Andrea Arnold’s Cow, Oliver Stone’s JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass, Marco Bellocchio’s Marx Can Wait, Sergei Loznitsa’s Babi Yar. Context, Mark Cousins’s The Story of Film: A New Generation and Rahul Jain’s Invisible Demons, among others.

About the Documentary:

The documentary tells the story of a woman who gets separated from her lover at college and how the couple sends each other love letters as a way of staying together.

Through these letters, one gets a glimpse into the drastic changes taking place around her (the woman).

Merging reality with fiction, dreams, memories, fantasies and anxieties, an amorphous narrative unfolds

About the Oeil d’or (Golden Eye) award:

The award was instituted in 2015 by LaScam (the French-Speaking Writers’ Society) and Bertuccelli in collaboration with the Cannes Film Festival and its general delegate Thierry Fremaux.

About Payal Kapadia:

  • Kapadia is an alumna of the Film & Television Institute of India (FTII).

  • In 2017, her short film 'Afternoon Clouds' was India's only official entry to the festival.

Liverpool: The UN’s cultural agency UNESCO has stripped Liverpool of its World Heritage status.

The status has been stripped after a UN committee found developments threatened the value of the city’s waterfront.

Key Details:

  • The decision was made following a secret ballot by the UNESCO Committee at a meeting in China.

  • At committee talks chaired by China, 13 delegates voted in favour of the proposal and five against, just one more than the two-thirds majority required to delete a site from the global list.

  • The countries against delisting Liverpool included Australia,Brazil, Hungary and Nigeria.

Note: Australia's own listing for the Great Barrier Reef is threatened in this year’s UNESCO deliberations.

Background:

  • UNESCO had previously warned that the developments, including the new Everton FC stadium, had resulted in a “serious deterioration” of the historic site.

  • The city was awarded the much-coveted title in 2004 in recognition of its historical and architectural impact, joining places including the Taj Mahal, Egypt’s Pyramids and Canterbury Cathedral.

About Liverpool:

  • Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough in Merseyside, England.

  • It is located on the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary.

  • Its growth as a major port was paralleled by the expansion of the city throughout the Industrial Revolution.

About UNESCO:

  • The full form of UNESCO is United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

  • UNESCO was founded on 6 November 1945.

  • It is a specialized agency of the United Nations aimed at promoting world peace and security through international cooperation in education, the sciences, and culture.

  • It is headquartered in Paris, France.

  • The current head of UNESCO is Audrey Azoulay.

Hajj: The Saudi Arabia Ministry of Hajj, recently announced that women does not need a permission to perform the pilgrimage without a male guardian.

Key Details:

  • According to the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, Saudi Arabia, women can now register for the annual Hajj pilgrimage without a male guardian (marham).

  • Women wishing to perform Hajj will have to register individually.

  • This year, the Hajj pilgrimage will be limited to citizens and residents of the Kingdom, barring Muslims from abroad in the wake of the COVID pandemic.

  • As per the announcement, only 60,000 pilgrims will be allowed to perform this year’s Hajj, which begins mid-July.

Background:

  • India, earlier in 2017 had announced the same when the Modi government declared that women could go on Hajj without a male companion.

  • Muslim women were exempted from mahram and also from the lottery system.

What is Hajj?

  • It is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, which is considered as holiest city for Muslims.

  • The Hajj which is one of the five pillars of Islam is a mandatory religious duty for Muslims which is must to carry at least once in their lifetime by all adult Muslims.

About Saudi Arabia:

  • Saudi Arabia, officially the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is a country in Western Asia constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula.

  • It is bordered by Jordan and Iraq to the north, Kuwait to the northeast, Qatar, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates to the east, Oman to the southeast and Yemen to the south.

  • It is separated from Egypt and Israel by the Gulf of Aqaba.

  • Its Capital city is Riyadh.

  • The currency used here is Saudi riyal.

Eid-ul-Azha: Muslims across the globe celebrate not just one Eid during an Islamic year, but two – one of which comes after the auspicious month of Ramadan (Eid ul-Fitr – small Eid) and the second during Qurbani (Eid ul-Adha – big Eid).

Highlights:

  • Eid-ul-Azha is being celebrated across the country.

  • In view of the ongoing Pandemic, in most of the places, there will be no mass congregations in eidgahs and mosques.

  • Several religious leaders and scholars have appealed to the people to celebrate the festival in accordance with the guidelines issued by the government.

About Eid-ul-Azha:

  • The Eid ul-Adha ('Festival of the Sacrifice') represents the most sacred time of the year for Muslims as it marks the Hajj pilgrimage.

  • In the Islamic lunar calendar, Eid al-Adha falls on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah and lasts for three days. In the international (Gregorian) calendar, the dates vary from year to year, shifting approximately 11 days earlier each year.

  • The festival honors the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son Ishmael as an act of obedience to God's command. Before Abraham could sacrifice his son, however, God provided a lamb to sacrifice instead.

  • In commemoration of this intervention, animals are sacrificed ritually.

  • One third of their meat is consumed by the family offering the sacrifice, while the rest is distributed to the poor and needy.

  • Sweets and gifts are given, and extended family are typically visited and welcomed.

  • The day is also sometimes called Big Eid or the Greater Eid.

Key Details:

  • The Hajj pilgrimage is regarded as an honour for Muslims, with all those who complete it allowed to adopt the title of Hajji (men) or Hajjah (women) for life.

  • Those who feature such titles in Islamic culture are thought to hold more wisdom, thus earning greater respect from their peers.

  • The first pilgrimage, called Hijrah, was the Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) migration from Mecca to Medina, then called Yathrib, and this is when the tradition as we know it today came into fruition.

  • Hajj, which takes places over three days, runs into Eid ul-Adha (Qurbani) and, thus, Muslims on the pilgrimage carry out the traditional sacrifice of livestock as per the Qur’an’s ruling.

  • Eid ul-Adha, or Qurbani Eid, begins on the 10th day of Dhul Hijjah as per the Islamic calendar and Muslims prepare for festivities by performing Wudhu, Fajr prayers and taking extra care of their personal appearance (such as cleanliness and buying/wearing new clothes).

  • Traditionally, Eid prayers are offered as part of a large congregational gathering. Prayers include two Rakats with six additional Takbeers.

  • The prayer is then followed by a sermon, known as a Khutba, which lasts for between 15 and 20 minutes in length.

  • Once the Eid prayers and sermon are over, the Qurbani sacrifice may begin and the meat of the sacrificed animal is shared three ways (one for the person making the sacrifice, another for friends and family and one for the poor and needy). Following this, Muslims come together to celebrate the festival of the sacrifice, which sees the exchanging of gifts and greetings.

Ashadhi Ekadashi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on July 20, 2021 greeted people on the occasion of Ashadhi Ekadashi.

About Ashadi Ekadashi:

  • Ashadhi Ekadashi is observed on the 11th lunar day of the Hindi month of Ashadh, and devouts pray to Lord Vitthal on this day.

  • This ekadashi falls on the ekadashi tithi (11th day) in the Shukla Paksha (waxing) phase of the moon in the Ashadha month (June - July) of Indian lunar calendar. Thus it is also known as Ashadhi Ekadashi or Ashadhi.

  • Ashadi Ekadashi is known as Shayani Ekadashi or Maha-ekadashi or Prathama-ekadashi or Padma Ekadashi or Devshayani Ekadashi or Devpodhi Ekadashi. It is known as Toli Ekadashi in Telugu.

  • Ashadi ekadashi is often regarded as the holiest of all ekadashi days by Hindus, especially Vaishnava Hindus who consider Lord Vishnu as the supreme God.

  • It is a popular belief that anyone observing this Ekadashi vrat with complete commitment will be blessed with happy, prosperous and peaceful life.

  • After enjoying the worldly pleasures, they will finally attain salvation.

Rituals:

  • Holy bath is considered to be very auspicious on ashadi ekadashi.

  • Devotees in large number gather at Nasik, to take a dip in the Godavari River, in the honour of Sri Rama, an avatar of Lord Vishnu.

  • On the day of ashadi ekadashi, devotees keep a fast by refraining from specific foods like rice, beans, grains, cereals, specific vegetables and spices.

  • By keeping a fast on this day, the observer will be able to resolve all the problems or tensions in life.

  • Ashadhi Ekadashi also marks the end of the famous ‘Pandharpur Ashadi Ekadashi Waari Yatra'.

  • Pandharpur is a small district in the state of Maharashtra where the temple of ‘Vithoba', a personification Of Lord Vishnu is worshipped with dedication.

  • The yatra or the religious procession is a 17-day long grand event that attracts tourists to this place.

  • Moreover on the day of Ashadi ekadashi, Vaishnava Mutts dress in heated seals and this tradition is known as ‘Tapta Mudra Dharana'.

History:

  • Ashadi Ekadashi falls during the time when Lord Vishnu sleeps on the ‘Shesha Naag' (the cosmic servant) in the ‘Ksheersagar' (cosmic ocean of milk) and therefore the name ‘Hari Shayani Ekadashi'.

  • As per the Hindu legends, Lord Vishnu finally awakes, four months later, on the day of Prabodhini Ekadashi.

  • This slumber period of the lord is known as ‘Chaturmas' and it concurs with the rainy season.

  • Devshayani Ekadashi or Shayani Ekadashi marks the onset of the Chaturmas period and on this day, devotees keep a holy fast to invoke Lord Vishnu's blessings.

Adarsh Smarak: The Union Minister of Tourism, Culture and Development of North Eastern Region G Kishan Reddy recently informed the Rajya Sabha that 3 monuments of Andhra Pradesh have been identified under the Adarsh Smarak Scheme.

Key Highlights:

  • These monuments will be provided additional facilities like Wi-Fi, Cafeteria, Interpretation centre, Brail signages, Illumination, etc and will be will be made into more tourist-friendly sites.

  • These Three monuments of Andhra Pradesh are:

  1. Monuments at Nagarjunakonda, District Guntur,

  2. Budhhist Remains at Salihundam, District Srikakulam, and

  3. Veerabhadra Temple at Lepakshi.

  • Further, Fort at Gandikota has been included in the Adopt-a-Heritage scheme of Ministry of Tourism, which is PPP mode.

  • At present, there are 135 sites in Andhra Pradesh which are centrally protected monuments and they are provided with amenities various Upgradation in a regular manner.

  • The environmental development and upgradation, preservation, conservation in and around the protected monuments and sites are taken in accordance to their need and priority.

About Adarsh Smarak Scheme:

  • Adarsh Smarak Scheme was launched in 2014 by the Ministry of Culture.

  • Under this scheme improved visitor amenities are provided to attract tourists.

  • This scheme was taken up to maintain and develop 100 monuments protected monuments in the country.

Ashadhi Bij: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has greeted the people on the auspicious occasion of Ashadhi Bij, the Kutchi New Year.

Key Points:

  • In 2021, it was observed on July 12.

  • Vikram Samvat 2078 started on June 12, 2021, in the Kutch region.

Note: Vikram Samvat is based on the day when the emperor Vikramaditya defeated Sakas, invaded Ujjain and called for a new era.

About Ashadhi Bij:

 

  • It is the Kutchi New Year.

  • This Hindu New Year is observed in the Kutch region in Gujarat.

  • In other parts of Gujarat, Hindu New Year is observed on the day after Diwali that is Kartik Shukla Paksha 1.

  • Ashadi Beej or Ashadhi Bij is observed on the second day of the Shukla Paksha or waxing phase of the moon in Ashada month.

  • Ashadhi Bij is an auspicious day for farming communities.

  • The day is celebrated in North India especially in Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and some other places.

  • It is mostly a traditional affair and is a celebration of rains.

  • During Ashadhi-beej, farmers check the moisture in the atmosphere to help predict which crop would do best in the coming monsoon.

  • Ganesha, Goddess Lakshmi and other regional deities are worshipped on the occasion.

Additional Info:

Some of the Traditional New Year Festivals of India:

  • Chaitra Shukla Pratipada: It marks the beginning of the new year of the Vikram Samvat also known as the Vedic (Hindu) calendar.

  • Gudi Padwa and Ugadi: It is celebrated in the month of Chaitra Shukla Pratipada as per the Hindu Lunar Calendar. It is celebrated in the Deccan region including Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.

  • Navreh: It is the lunar New Year that is celebrated in Kashmir. It falls on the very first day of the Chaitra Navratras.

  • Sajibu Cheiraoba: It is celebrated by Meiteis (an ethnic group in Manipur) which is observed on the first day of Manipur lunar month Shajibu, which falls in the month of April every year.

  • Cheti Chand: It is celebrated by the Sindhi community. Chaitra month is called ‘Chet’ in Sindhi. The day commemorates the birth anniversary of Ishta Deva Uderolal/Jhulelal, the patron saint of Sindhis.

  • Bihu: It is celebrated three times a year. Rongali or Bohag Bihu is observed in April. It is the Assamese New Year and spring festival. The Rongali Bihu coincides with Sikh New Year- Baisakhi.

  • Baisakhi: It is celebrated as the Indian Thanksgiving Day by farmers. It also has religious significance for the Sikhs community as the foundation of the Khalsa Panth was laid on this day by Guru Gobind Singh.

  • Losoong: Losoong also known as Namsoong is the Sikkimese New Year. It is usually the time when the farmers rejoice and celebrate their harvest. It is mostly celebrated in the month of December every year with traditional gaiety and colour both by the Lepchas and Bhutias.

Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra: One of the biggest festivals of India, Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra for Lord Jagannath was commenced on July 12, 2021

About Jagannath Puri Yatra:

  • Jagannath Rath Yatra called the Chariot Festival in English is associated with Lord Jagannath.

  • It is held at one of the Char Dhams called Jagannath Temple in Puri, Odisha.

  • It is the oldest Ratha Yatra taking place in India and the World, whose descriptions can be found in Brahma Purana, Padma Purana, and Skanda Purana and Kapila Samhita.

  • The festival commemorates Jagannath’s annual visit to Gundicha Temple via Mausi Maa Temple (maternal aunt’s home) near Saradha Bali, Puri.

  • This festival is the most famous Vaishnavite rituals observed in India and abroad.

  • On the occasion, devotees pray to three deities – Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Lordess Subhadra.

  • For this festival, special chariots are built each year.

  • Similar processions or rath yatras are organized at Jagannath temples across the world.

  • During festive public procession of Jagannath devotees visit Puri to see Lord Jagannath in chariot.

How this yatra begins?

  • Images of all the three deities are ceremoniously brought out of inner sanctum (Garbhagriha) from the chief temple in Jagannath Puri.

  • They are placed in a chariot which is then pulled by volunteers from Jagannath puri temple to Gundicha Temple.

Jagannath Temple:

Jagannath Temple is an important Hindu temple.

  • It is dedicated to Jagannath who is a form of Lord Vishnu.

  • The temple is located in Puri, Odisha.

  • The present temple was rebuilt from 10th century onwards.

  • Earlier temple was built by Anantavarman Chodaganga Deva in 12th century CE, who was the first king of Eastern Ganga dynasty, at the same site.

  • The temple is one of the Char Dham.

  • The three images of Jagannath are made up of neem wood, unlike stone and metal icons found in most Hindu temples.

  • These images are ceremoniously replaced every twelve or 19 years with an exact replica.

National Archives of India: Culture Minister G. Kishan Reddy recently announced that the National Archives’ records related to freedom fighters would be digitised within a year as a part of the commemoration of 75 years of Independence next year.

About National Archives of India:

  • The National Archives of India is an Attached Office under the Ministry of Culture.

  • It was established in 1891 at Kolkata (Calcutta) as the Imperial Record Department.

  • Following the transfer of the capital from Calcutta to Delhi in 1911, the present building of the National Archives of India was constructed in 1926 in Delhi.

  • There are over 50 lakhs files/documents presently in the holdings in the National Archives of India.

Books and Authors:

Urdu Poets and Writers - Gems of Deccan: The Vice President, Venkaiah Naidu recently received the book 'Urdu Poets and Writers - Gems of Deccan' authored by senior journalist, Shri J.S. Ifthekhar.

About the Book:

  • ‘Gems of Deccan’ is an anthology of prose and poetry that encapsulates the life and works of 51 outstanding poets and writers of the Deccan region.

  • The book traces the rich literary and cultural traditions of Deccan, right from the time of Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, the founder of Hyderabad, to the present times.

Urdu’s official status in India:

  • Urdu is one of the official languages under the Constitution of India.

  • It is among the 15 Indian Languages written on the Indian Currency notes.

  • It is also one of the official languages in states like Kashmir, Telangana, UP, Bihar, New Delhi and West Bengal.

About NCPUL:

  • The National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language (NCPUL) is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD), Government of India (GoI).

  • It was set up to promote, develop and propagate Urdu language; Council started its operation in Delhi in 1996.

The Great Big Lion: A book titled “The Great Big Lion” is drawn and written by child prodigy Chryseis Knight.

About the book:

  • This book is a story about a lion and two children. It talks about friendship, inclusivity, wildlife conservation and the world of imagination.

  • The book was published by Penguin Random House India’s “Puffin” imprint.

About Chryseis Knight:

  • Chryseis Knight, who is currently residing in Canada, learnt how to read at the age of one.

  • She started writing the story of “The Great Big Lion” in her notebook when she was three years old.

  • She then shared it with her family and became determined to do the artwork with the motivation of getting the book published.

Bonalu: Bonalu is a traditional folk festival celebrated every year in the Telugu month of Ashadham (falling in June/July), in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad, and some other parts of Telangana state.

The Bonalu festival was declared a ‘state festival’ by the K Chandrasekhar Rao-led government after the state’s formation back in 2014.

About the festival:

The Bonalu festival involves scores of devotees offering the traditional ‘bonam’ (derived from Bhojanam, meaning meals) to the goddess Mahankali at 25 temples across the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad.

Additional Info:

Festivals of Telangana:

  • Bathukamma

  • Sammakka Saarakka Jaathara

  • Peerla Panduga

  • Sri Kurumurthy Swamy Jathara

  • Nagoba Jaatara.

Swami Vivekananda: Nation remembers Swami Vivekananda, one of the finest spiritual leaders and intellects India has EVER produced on his death anniversary.

Highlights:

  • Every year, July 4 is observed as the death anniversary of Swami Vivekananda.

  • Swami Vivekananda played an important role in introducing the philosophies of yoga and Vedanta to the West.

  • He is best known for his speech at the World Parliament of Religion in Chicago in 1893 which started with the opening remarks, “My sisters and brothers of America.”

About Swami Vivekananda:

  • Swami Vivekananda (1863 – 1902), died on July 4, 1902, when he was just 39 at Belur Math in West Bengal.

  • He was born as Narendranath Dutta in an affluent family in Kolkata on January 12, 1863.

  • He was an Indian Hindu monk and a chief disciple of the 19th century Indian mystic.

  • He was hailed as a Dhyana Sidha, a meditation expert, by his guru Ramakrishna Paramhamsa.

  • He devoted his life to the service of the nation and humanity and laid emphasis on the power of meditation.

  • After getting attracted to the idea of meditation in childhood, he achieved fame at the World's Parliament of Religions held in Chicago in 1893.

  • His speech made the culture and heritage of India popular.

  • With his incredible knowledge of Indian and Western culture and colourful personality, he made an irresistible appeal to all sorts of Americans who came in contact with him during the global dialogue on different kinds of faith in the US.

Ramakrishna Mission:

  • In 1897 Swami Vivekanand founded the Ramakrishna Math and the Ramakrishna Mission, an Indian socio-religious reform movement.

  • It subscribes to the ancient Hindu philosophy of Vedanta and bases its work on the principles of karma yoga, the principle of selfless work done with dedication to God.

  • He gave a new theory of ethics & morality based on the intrinsic purity and oneness of the Atman.

In 1984 the Government of India declared that 12 January, the birthday of Swami Vivekananda, will be celebrated as National Youth Day.

World’s tallest sandcastle: A sandcastle recently built in Denmark has established a new Guinness World Record.

Key Points:

  • It has established new Guinness World Record of 21.16 metres.

  • The Gunness world record was measured by an authorized surveyor and signed and witnessess.

  • Denmark’s new sandcastle is 3.5 meter taller than earlier record of 17.66-meter set by Germany in 2019.

About Denmark’s Sandcastle:

  • The structure of the sandcastle is built in the shape of a triangle to avoid collapsing like many others have.

  • A wooden structure was built around it to allow the artist to carve the incredible figures in the sand.

  • To ensure the sand sticks on, it was mixed with around 10% clay.

  • When everything is finished, an extra layer of adhesive was applied to ensure it will last for the duration of the winter.

  • This highly decorated monument is built in the small seaside village of Blokhus in the northwest Denmark.

  • It is reminiscent of a pyramid, is made up of 4,860 tonnes of sand.

  • Led by the seasoned artist Wilfred Stijger of Holland, 30 of the world's most gifted sand sculptors worked in the making of the giant structure.

  • The Dutch designer said his creation was inspired by the coronaviurus pandemic.

  • He said he put a coronavirus pathogen as a crown atop the castle to illustrate how the virus is ruling our world, and not allowing us to do what we want to do.

Note: The Sand Sculpture Festival in Blokhus takes place every summer.

About Blokhus Village:

  • This village is located in Jammerbugt Municipality of North Jutland in Denmark.

  • The village is a popular beach town accounting for around 1 million visitors every year.

  • It was originally named Hune Hvarre.

  • In 1600s there were barely any trees this village.

  • So, timber was imported from Norway. In order to store timber, locals constructed some houses out it.

  • These houses are called as ‘block houses’ after which village has been given Danish name Blokhus.

About Denmark:

  • Denmark officially the Kingdom of Denmark, is a Nordic country in Northern Europe.

  • It is a Scandinavian country comprising the Jutland Peninsula and around 406 islands.

  • It is bordered to the west by the North Sea, and its islands are located on the sea lane from the Baltic to the main oceans of the world, as well as the trade route from the Nordic countries to Central Europe.

  • It is an independent country since the late 10th century and is also one of the oldest states of Europe.

  • The capital of Denmark is Copenhagen.

  • The currency used here is Danish Krone.

  • The current prime minister of Denmark is Mette Frederiksen.

About Guinness Book of World Records:

  • Guinness World Records was originally the Guinness Book of Records from its inception in 1955 until 1999.

  • It is a reference book published annually, listing world records both of human achievements and the extremes of the natural world.

  • The brainchild of Sir Hugh Beaver, the book was co-founded by twin brothers Norris and Ross McWhirter in Fleet Street, London, in August 1954.

  • After the founding of The Guinness Book of Records office at 107 Fleet Street, London, the first 198-page edition was bound on 27 August 1955 and went to the top of the British best seller lists by Christmas.

  • As of the 2021 edition, it is now in its 66th year of publication, published in 100 countries and 23 languages, and maintains over 53,000 records in its database.

Indian Army Memorial: During his four-day visit to the UK and Italy, Indian Army Chief Manoj Naravane will be meeting his counterparts and senior military leaders with the aim of enhancing India's defence cooperation.

Highlights:

  • Additionally, the Indian Chief of Army Staff (COAS) will also be inaugurating the Indian Army Memorial at Cassino in Italy which is about 140 km away from Rome.

  • The memorial commemorates over 3,100 Commonwealth servicemen who took part in the effort to liberate Italy in World War II. Apart from this, 900 Indian soldiers were also commemorated on this memorial.

History:

What was happening in Italy in WWII?

  • Under Benito Mussolini, Italy had joined Nazi Germany in 1936.

  • In 1940 it entered WWII (1939-1945) against the Allies.

  • But in 1943, Mussolini was overthrown and instead, Italy declared war on Germany.

  • The invasion of Italy by the Allies coincided with an armistice that was made with the Italians.

What was India’s involvement in World War II?

  • In the Battle of Monte Cassino during World War II, over 5,000 Indian soldiers laid down their lives while fighting to save Italy from fascist forces.

  • The Indian Army was the largest volunteer force during WWII, with over 2.5 million Indians participating.

  • Nearly 50,000 Indians were enlisted for Italy’s liberation between September 1943 and April 1945.

  • These troops fought the Axis powers (Germany, Italy and Japan) as part of the Allies.

  • Three infantry divisions of the Indian Army took part in the Italian campaign. These were the 4th, 8th and 10th Indian Divisions.

  • Besides Casino, Italy has many cemeteries where Indian soldiers are buried. Perugia, Luca, Florence, San Marino, Cesena, Forli, Ferrara, and Bologna are a few of the Italian cities that Indian soldiers helped to liberate during World War II.

  • Six Indian soldiers who were part of allied contingents fighting for the liberation of Italy also received the prestigious Victoria Cross.

Note:

Both the UK and Italy are important partners for India in the fields of defence, healthcare, aerospace, education, clean technology, renewable energy and information and communication technology among others.

Books and Authors:

The Light of Asia: It is the title of a new book authored by Jairam Ramesh.

Ramesh is a Member of Parliament, former Union Minister, and Congress leader.

About:

  • This new book titled “The Light of Asia” is a biography of an epic bio-poem on the Buddha.

  • He digs deep in his new book to bring out the fascinating story behind the epic 1879 poem, “The Light of Asia” by Sir Edwin Arnold, that took the world by storm and in some ways, brought the Buddha’s story to the world at the turn of the last century.

Ramayana of Shri Guru Gobind Singh Ji: The Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi recently received the first copy of the book, ‘The Ramayana of Shri Guru Gobind Singh Ji.’

The book is penned by Late Mrs. Baljit Kaur Tulsi Ji, who is the mother of noted lawyer Shri KTS Tulsi Ji.

Govind Ramayan Controversy:

  • PM Modi, on 5 august 2021, had mentioned about Shri Guru Gobind Ji's Gobind Ramayan during his address at the Bhoomi Poojan of the Ram Janmbhoomi.

  • However, the statement was criticized by many and it was said that the Sikh guru never wrote anything as such, with some even staging protests.

  • The book has now been published by the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA).

About Guru Gobind Singhji:

  • Guru Gobind Singhji was a spiritual master, warrior, poet, and philosopher.

  • He was born in 1666 in Patna.

  • He was the tenth and last of Sikh gurus in human form.

  • He was enthroned at the 'Guru Gaddi' at the age of 9 after his father Guru Tej Bahadur Ji, the 9th Guru.

  • He transformed the Sikh religion into what it is at present with the institution of the Khalsa solidarity.

  • Sahib Ji completed the sacred scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib Ji, in the final form that he ordained as the next and perpetual Guru of the Sikhs.

Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay: Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently paid homage to Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay on his 183rd birth anniversary.

Bankim Chandra Chatterjee or Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay,(27 June 1838 – 8 April 1894) was an Indian novelist, poet and journalist.

About:

  • He is considered among the pioneers of the shift in Indian, especially Bangla, literary tradition away from the verse and towards prose.
  • He was the composer of Vande Mataram which has been India's national song since 1937 and sung by generations of Indians to evoke the motherland.
  • Vande Mataram originally in Sanskrit, personifying India as a mother goddess and inspiring activists during the Indian Independence Movement.
  • He was born in Naihati, Bengal on 27 June 1838.
  • He went on to become a significant figure in India's struggle for independence.
  • Bankim has left an indelible mark on modern nationalism and modern Hinduism.
  • His belief was that there was "no serious hope of progress in India except in Hinduism-reformed, regenerated and purified".
  • He got his education at the Hoogly College and Presidency College.
  • He went on to become one of the earliest graduates of the University of Calcutta.
  • He served in the Indian Civil Service and retired as a Deputy Magistrate in 1891.It was this work under the Raj that made him deeply critical of India's colonial masters.

Literary career:

  • Chattopadhyay wrote fourteen novels and many serious, serio-comic, satirical, scientific and critical treatises in Bengali. He is known as Sahitya Samrat (Emperor of Literature) in Bengali.
  • The most noteworthy contribution Bankim made to the nationalistic imagination was the political novel Anandamath.
  • The book is set against the backdrop of what is known as the 'sanyahi bidhroho' (rebellion of monks in late 18th century).
  • The book is considered a call for the rise of Hindu nationalism, and portrayed sanyasis (ascetics) fighting Muslims soldiers of the British army.
  • It was in Anandamath, that Bankim wrote the poem 'Vande Mataram'.

Vande Mataram was announced as the National Song by Rajendra Prasad on January 24, 1950, in recognition of its role in the Independence Movement, against the backdrop of demands that it be made the national anthem of newly independent India.

It was accorded equal status to the National Anthem.

Note: The song remains a popular evocation to national pride and has been interpreted and performed by artistes all throughout.

  • He published his first fiction work, Rajmohan's Wife in English and it is regarded as the first Indian novel to be written in English. The story was an economic exploration of the Bengal family and domesticity.
  • His first work in Bangla was Durgeshnandini in 1865, which is considered the first Bangla novel.
  • He also wrote other famous novels like like Kapalkundala in 1866 which is considered to be one of the finest works of Indian literature, Mrinalini in 1869,,Vishbriksha in 1873, Chandrashekhar in1877, Rajani in 1877, Rajsimha in 1881,and Devi Chaudhurani in 1884.
  • He started publishing a monthly literary magazine Bangadarshan in April 1872. The magazine played an important role in establishing a Bengali identity and nationalism.
  • His last work was Sitaram, published in 1886.

Fun Fact: Once Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, playing on the meaning of Bankim (Bent A Little), asked him what it was that had bent him. Bankim Chandra jokingly replied that it was the kick from the Englishman's shoe for he was a well-known critic of the British government.

Books and Authors:

Fiercely Female: The Dutee Chand Story: Journalist Sundeep Mishra’s book titled ‘Fiercely Female: The Dutee Chand Story’ the book was released on 22 June on ‘SoftCover’ —ThePrint’s e-venue to launch select non-fiction books.

  • This book chronicles Chand’s journey with a detailed narrative of the gender-identity controversy that made her an iconic figure in Indian sport.
  • The book was published by Westland Books.

About the Dutee Chand:

  • Dutee Chand, the first openly homosexual athlete from India, scripted history in 2019 when she became the first Indian to win gold in a 100-metre event at the World Universiade in Naples.
  • Coming from a small village in Odisha, Dutee Chand went on to hold the national record in the women’s 100 metres.
  • She is only the fifth Indian to participate in the women’s 100 metres at the Olympics when she qualified for the 2016 Rio Games.