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Durga Puja is a famous Hindu festival when Goddess Durga is worshipped. Durga Puja is also known as Durgotsava. Durgotsava refers to all five days festivity and these five days are observed as Shashthi, Maha Saptami, Maha Ashtami, Maha Navami and Vijayadashami. (According to Hindu religious texts Durga Puja, including Chandi Path, should begin from the next day of Mahalaya Amavasya. Mahalaya is the most important day of Pitru Paksha, when Hindus pay homage to their ancestors, is not considered for starting any auspicious work.)

Most states except West Bengal do Ghatasthapana on Pratipada which is the next day of Mahalaya Amavasya. Ghatasthapana is equivalent to Kalparambha during Durga Puja when Goddess Durga is invoked. Kalparambha mostly falls on Shashthi Tithi during Devi Paksha. According to regional customs and beliefs Durga Puja during Shardiya Navratri varies from nine days to one day only which is also mentioned in Dharmasindhu.The Goddess Durga arrives on the Earth on the first day of Devi Paksha which starts on the next day of Mahalaya Amavasya during Pitru Paksha. She departs on Durga Visarjan day. The weekdays when she arrives and departs are significant and considered as omen of coming time.While this is considerably correct, it is perhaps not wholly true, as it is my submission that the Durga puja celebrations are indeed living and pulsating expression of urban folk culture. All the craftsmanship that enriches the pujas, like the designing and execution of the massive theme pandals with their exquisite interior frills and decoration, are new avenues of folk art. The imaginative sculpting of the goddess and her retinue and the special lighting are all products of a refined urban folk culture. Even the songs, that include the traditional pre-puja Aagamoni songs and the prolific literature that are created are also cultural outpourings, though not necessarily of the folk variety. The dhunochi-naach dances that are done before the image, by balancing lighted urns of smoking and burning incense on one’s palms or between the teeth to the furious beat of the drums, are surely a part of folk culture.

Delhi

Uttarayini festival financed by AAP government at 33 places in Delhi this January

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Uttarayini, a popular festival of the Uttarakhand and its inhabitants living in and outside the eighteen year old state in various metropolises, cities and towns, including the interior villages have been celebrating it for centuries.

This festival is celebrated every year on 14th of January as a symbol of unity, amity, peace and harmony. People gather together in fairs and socio cultural functions on this occasion and enjoy the festival by wearing regional cultural and folk attires and perform on stage or congregations called Uttarayini Kauthig.

In Delhi too it was celebrated with much fan fare in various parts where Uttarakhandi population is cohesive and densely populated. The capital city of India Delhi comprises of large number of Kumaonies and Garhwalies, perhaps 25 lakhs at the minimum, may be even more. The Uttarakhandies are second in population in terms of a cohisively credible population after the inhabitants of Bihar and UP known as Poorvanchalies.

The Purvanchalies and Uttarakhandies are therefore considered to be a credible vote bank for both the Congress and BJP and now the AAP has been succesful in making inroads into the Uttarakhandi vote bank in Delhi. While the prominent festival of the Bihar community in Delhi called CHAT PUJA is being celebrated with full fanfare in all the Bihari dominated constituencies and areas of Delhi with the governmenral support of the previous Congress and now AAP governments since long, the Uttarakhandies too are lucky to have acknowledged the attention of Arvind Kejrival government which has this year officially financed 33 to 72 Uttarayini programmes in Delhi being celebrated on 14th January, 2018 in about 75 places all over the capital city.

The AAP government has allocated the organisers of each Uttarayini function a consolidated budget ranging from 1 lakh to 2.5 lakhs enabling them entertain the local Uttarakhandies of Delhi. It is learnt that this move of the AAP government would help AAP make inroads in the sizeable Uttarakhandi vote bank of the capital city. It may be recalled that during the last assembly election the AAP has not allocated a single ticket to an Uttarakhand candidate and had annoyed the community to a great extent.

But by financing Uttarayini on a vast scale this time it has definitely won the hearts of the people of the Himalayan state living in Delhi.
The below Uttarayini function however has not been financed by AAP.
SUNIL NEGI, PRESIDENT, UTTARAKHAND JOURNALISTS FORUM

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Lord Shiva’s Kedarnath fully engulfed in snow

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This is the current, stunning and marvellous picture of historical Kedarnath Shrine fully engulfed with knee deep snow sent by senior journalist friend Mohit Dimri, which remains closed during the winters and opens in April, May reviving its usual functioning with hundreds of thousands of pilgrims all over the country and the globe thronging in, for Lord Shiva’s Darshan, the creater and destroyer of this Universe.

The climate here is extremely chilling with the usual temperature sliding to minus 7 degrees during noon and crossing – 20 or more degrees during midnight. But what looks interesting and adventurous is the fact that the employees of Nehru Mountaineering Institute (NIM) looking after the affairs of the maintenance and development of Kedarnath and its immediate surroundings are round the clock busy amid the most deadly, treacherous and challenging situations, clearing the area and roads of heaps of snow measuring 2 to 3 feet over ground. Hats off to them.

It may be recalled that during 2013 June 15/ 16 when the entire Kedarpuri including Ram Bada and the Kedar valley was engulfed with the highly devastating deluge due to massive cloud bursts and subsequent bursting of the Chorabaari Lake also called the Gandhi Sarovar, they were the brave and hard working people of the NIM who in the aftermath of this devastating ecological disaster rebuild and renovated the entire Kedarnath vicinity under extreme challenging weather conditions beyond anybody’s expectation with the landing of high tech extremely heavy loaded bull dozers and other machines ferryed at such a towering height through helicopters.

It was a record in itself. Historical Kedarnath temple is situated at 11, 755 feet from the sea level where even during the summers, the weather comes to 2 to 5 degrees during the nights and the running high speed Mandakini and Alaknanda rivers get frozen . Over ten thousand pilgrims from Uttarakhand and several other parts of the country had died during this catastrophic tragedy. Uttarakhand has four historical religious shrines popular world over where millions of pilgrims come to pay their respects and prayers with extreme obeisance to lord Kedarnath, Badrinath, Goddess Gangotri and Yamnotri.

While Gangotri and Yamunotri emerges from the huge himalayan glaciers since time immemorial quenching the thirst and irrigational needs of the entire nation finally converging in Bay of Bengal, the Kedarnathand Badrinath shrines are of immense value for the devotees all around the globe.

A month ago prime minister Narendra Modi had visited Kedarnath Temple for the second time on the day of its closure during the winters and had announced several projects for the over all facelift of Kedarpuri that involved innovative development of inner roads and construction of modernised luving accomodation for the pujaries as well as the pilgrims who visit here from distant parts of the country and the globe including inner roads etc. The work on these projects got badly affected due to the excessive snow fall say the sources which will be resumed after the inclement weather situation improves in the near future. The Kedarnath site and temple fully clad in snow gives the imresson as if a pitch white( bright) silver sheet have been spread in Kedarpuri by Lord Shiva.

SUNIL NEGI

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Festivals

BADRINATH DHAM CLOSES ON 19TH NOVEMBER,2017 ON ADVENT OF WINTERS

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The doors of the historic Badrinath Dham, one of the prominent historic 1200 year old religious shrine visited by lakhs of devotees from around the world, are closing tomorrow on 19th, November, 2017 on the advent of chilling  winter to be again opened on April, during the summer. You can see in the picture how the snow has already engulfed the Badrinath temple and its surrounding vicinity including the Bamni Village n Maana Gaon as well. Mana village is 1 & a 1/2 kilometres away at the Indo China border from here.

After the most tragic catastrophic disaster of 2013 in the entire Kedar valley that killed more than 8 thousand people, local as well the pilgrims who visited Kedarnath and other religious shrines, the in take of pilgrims was lesser thereafter as compared to the pre 2013 era but as the situation improved gradually and confidence level enhanced the numbers of the visitors to Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, Yamnotri increased considerably.

The latest statistics indicate despite so much of confusion and apprehension in the aftermath of the dreaded ecological disaster as situation and renovation work  of the Kedarnath temple site enhanced, a whopping 24 lakh pilgrims visited the aforesaid four historical ancient shrines after June 2013 till date. This encoraging figure of the tourists and pilgrims from all over India and abroad has vindicated the fact that conditions of roads, all the 4 shrines and tourist destinations including facilities  in the aftermath of the ecological Kedanath disaster have improvised a lot to the satisfaction of the pilgrims.

It may be recalled that the Badrinath temple opens every year in the month of April-May & closes for winters in the third week of November. Thus the temple is shut down for 6 months every year during which prayers to the Badri Vishal continue at the Narsimha temple in Joshimath.  The dates of Badrinath Temple opening will be announced by the priests during the Basant Panchmi. Last year the Badrinath temple was opned on May 6th, 2017 and would close on 19th September 2017 this time.

While the doors of Badrinath Temples are closed the inhabitants of the last village of Indo China border one and a half kilometre away from Badrinath also shift to Neeti village from Maana gaon to returen back during April after six months. This practice is going on from ancient time, since time immemorial.

The whole temple including the Maana gaon and its AAKHIRI CHAI KI DUKAAN, ( THE LAST TEA STALL OF INDIA) also gets completely snow clad. They are the only ITBP and the Indian Army Jawans who petrol the area amid extremely challenging climatic conditions and stay here in minus 25 to 30 or more degree during the entire winters guarding our borders.

SUNIL NEGI

 

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