New Delhi, India – August 2000

Events and Festivals
Raksha Bandhan is an unspoken pledge exchanged between a brother and sister cementing their fraternal relationship. This also reinforces their protective bond against all ills and odds.

Raksha Bandhan is celebrated on the day of Shravan Poornima that falls in the month of August every year. On this very day, the sisters tie a delicate, sometimes decorated, thread on the wrist of their brothers as a symbol of love and affection. This makes the brothers bound to protect their sisters from any trouble or wound.

The chanting of a holy mantra by the sisters while tying the thread says, “I am tying a Raksha to you, similar to the one tied to Bali, the powerful king of the demons. Oh Raksha, be firm, do not waver”. The mantra recalls how the demon king Bali had become very powerful with the Rakhi on. The power of the mantra is supposed to protect the wearer from evil influences. This shows how dependent and secure a sister feels when she has a brother. Tying this Rakhi or Raksha signifies the re-strengthening of the bond between the siblings of opposite sexes.

Raksha Bandhan is the most awaited festival of the year for every girl. It is celebrated in the month of August on the full-moon day known as the Shravan Poornima in India. The celebration of this festival is followed according to the Indian calendar, and hence the date in the English calendar varies every year.

Raksha Bandhan day starts with a festive mood in every Indian home. Rakhis are made or bought a day before the festival. Traditional goodies and dishes are prepared early in the morning. After an early bath, the offering Puja (worshipping of god) takes place. The sister then offers “aarti” (a traditional way of worshipping) to her brother and ties the thread on his right wrist. Traditional “tilak” or vermilion powder on the forehead of the brother is put and the brother blesses the sister.

The tradition of giving gifts and presents is also an important part of this festival. The brother gives his sister a gift after she ties the Rakhi on his wrist. This gift acts as a token of love and affection of the brother towards the sister. Sometimes sisters also demand for a gift of their own choice to keep it as a loving memory of that very day. Nevertheless, giving gifts is not a must tradition. The blessing bestowed by the brother itself is regarded as the biggest gift for the sisters.

Treating her brother along with her entire family, with the goodies and eatables that have been prepared follows next. Thus, the normal rituals are followed with great devotion and dedication.

Delhi was the focal point for the first war of independence in 1857. Though the revolt did not reach its desired conclusion, Delhi became a thorn in the side of the British. Not only in ancient times or the mediaeval period, Delhi has been the center of any activity at all times. As the British shifted their capital from Calcutta to Delhi, all the activities during the freedom struggle were directed towards Delhi. Thus, Delhi also bears the marks of the freedom struggle.

The ultimate goal of the Azad Hind Fauz during the freedom struggle was to capture Delhi and established Swaraj. The slogan ‘Dilli Chalo’ is still used by leaders and political parties when they organize any rally or demonstration. It was the hoisting of the tricolor at Red Fort in Delhi, which marked a chapter in the history of India.

Art & Theatre
Manipuri is the classical dance from the Manipur region in the north-east. Manipuri is different in many ways from the other dance forms in India. The body moves with slow, sinuous grace and the undulating arm movements flow into the fingers.

The dance form evolved in the 18th century with the advent of the Vaishnava faith, from earlier ritual and magical dance forms. Themes from the Vishnu Purana, Bhagvata Purana and compositions from the Gitagovinda predominate the repertoire.

According to the legends of the Meitei tribes of Manipur, when God created Earth, it was lumpy. The seven Lainoorahs danced on this newly-formed sphere, pressing gently with their feet to make it firm and smooth. This is the origin of Meitei Jagoi. To this day, when Manipuri people dance, they do not stamp vigorously but press their feet gently and delicately on the ground. The original myths and stories are still practiced by the cultist Maibis, or Meitei priestesses in the form (Maibi) that is the root of Manipuri.

The female ‘Rasa’ dances, based on the Radha-Krishna theme, feature group ballets and solos. The male ‘Sankirtana’ dances, performed to the pulsating rhythm of the Manipuri dholak are full of vitality.

The musical forms of Manipuri dance reflect the culture of the state of Manipur. The art form primarily depicts episodes from the life of Vishnu and is paradoxically a most tender and vigorous form of expression. Balance and a restraint of power are the predominant features of this style.

Feature of the Month – Himachal Pradesh
Himachal Pradesh is a glorious mountain state, of crystal lakes, vast stretches of brilliant flowers, ancient shrines and beautiful people. This state lies in the northern part of the country, in the lap of the mighty Himalaya, at an altitude that varies from 460 to 6600 metres above sea level. It is surrounded by Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab and Tibet. Himachal Pradesh is girdled by the Pir Panjal and Dhauladhar ranges in the northwest, dominated by the great Himalaya in the northeast, and marked with lower ridges of the Shivalik ranges in the southeast.

Himachal has five mighty, snow-fed rivers flowing through it – the Chenab, Ravi, Beas, Sutlej and Yamuna. Climatically, this state is divisible into two regions – the south which is as warm as the plains, and the north where the summers are temperate and winters are extremely cold.

The people of Himachal Pradesh are simple and unsophisticated, lively and good natured, with a penchant for colourful fairs and festivals. Most of them are fair complexioned, with sharp Aryan features, while some have pronounced Mongloid features. The clothes of the Himachalis are vibrant, and each region is characterised by a typical dress. The headgear worn by both men and women is the unique feature of their attire. Hindi is spoken throughout Himachal, though each valley possesses its own dialect.

Himachal is an ideal place for trekking enthusiasts, and the trekking routes in the state take you to remote, undisturbed spots. Himachal Pradesh is also a popular site for winter sports. Courses and competitions in skiing and mountaineering, carnivals, cultural evenings, and open air skating facilities form the traditional part of winter sports. Recently added attractions are hang gliding and river rafting.

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