Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Deepavali - Festival of Light

Diwali or Deepavali is the festival of light celebrated by the Hindus, Jains and Sikhs. It is observed on the new moon day of the month Kartika. Many legends are associated with this festival. Hindus believe that on this day Lord Rama returned to his kindom after defeating demonic Ravana. Jains observe Diwali as the day of enlightenment, when Lord Mahavira attained nirvana. For Sikh's it is the day when Guru Hargobind ji was released from captivity at Gawalior Fort.

People decorate their houses, shops, temples, and their neighbourhoods with lamps and observe a ritual to drive away evil force from their house. Fire crackers are burnt as part of the celebration. In Bengal goddess Kali is worshipped at midnight on this day.
To see more photographs of Diwali please visit my album.

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Eid al-Fitr – Global Photo Reportage

A collection of photographs of Eid al-Fitr celebration from eight different locations around the world. It has been hosted on MS Media Service website. The press release states that:

"Worldwide there are more than 1 billion Muslims and it is currently the fastest growing religion in the world. Muslims often complain that they are being misrepresented in the media, largely being depicted as fanatics and terrorists. One of the aims of this collaborative effort is to show one of the positive sides of Islam, on a day when brotherhood and reconciliation is celebrated. It is our hope that it will contribute to a more balanced view of the religion."

To see the photographs in the collection please click here.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Shuva Vijaya Dashami

In English the title may be stated as "The blessed tenth day of victory" (though I am not a great translator). This is the day when, it is believed that, Lord Rama got victory over Ravana thus marking the victory of good over evil. Last Thursday was the day for this year.

On this day the four days long Durga puja festival in Bengal also comes to its end. Durga puja is the biggest get together event for Bengalees around the globe. Now is the time to bid adieu to our friends and relatives to get back to our work again.

The idol is taken to the river Ganga (or any near by river) for immersion. Some rituals are observed before immersion, like the ritual of vermillion (sindoor/bindi), farewell ritual using a mirror, greeting the idol with sweets before leaving for immersion, etc. On the bank of the river members of the family (girls and boys alike) perform free-style dance before the idol to greet the Goddess before bidding farewell for the year. Huge number of pople flock to the bank of the river to watch the ceremony and the balloon vendors, the candy sellers and other hawking people take this opportunity to make a few bucks on this festive season. But these days they are not alone; big names also arrange ad-campaigns at these sites to spread brand awareness.

In Kolkata one may also watch enactment of the battle between Lord Rama and Ravana (Ramlila); this year it took place in the ground near "Shahid Minaar". The show was arranged by "Punjabee Bradree" in presence of some ministers of the state and other dignitaries. At the end of the show it is customary to burn effigies of Ravana and his brothers by throwing fire crackers at them. This year, though fire crackers were thrown at them, the effigies could not be set on fire as they had already been soaked in water by city administrators in fear of a possible accident.

To see more photographs please check my Picasa web album.

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