23 February 2006

Kinkri Devi gets help from USA

Kinkri Devi gets help from USA Vishal Gulati Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, February 23 Following the publication of a report on the plight of Kinkri Devi, who waged a long-drawn battle against the limestone quarrying mafia in a remote village of Himachal Pradesh, help has started pouring in for her.

A US-based organisation has announced to help her after The Tribune carried the report, “Fight, a byword for Kinkri Devi”, on February 23.

The organisation, My Himachal Group, in an e-mail to the newspaper, said it was moving to read about Kinkri Devi.

Dr Bhugol Chandel, president of the group, said: “It is surprising how a person of her status can be in such a pathetic condition?”

The group, a non-profitable organisation of professionals in India and abroad from Himachal Pradesh, has come forward to help the crusader by giving support of Rs 30,000 through the Chief Minister's fund.

“More help in cash and kind will be provided to support and rehabilitate her in the future,” said Mr Avnish Katoch, secretary of the group.

This year, the organisation has established and announced the “Himachal Rattan” scholarship for science student, who tops in Class XII examination of the Himachal School Education Board.

22 February 2006

Fight, a byword for Kinkri Devi

Sangrah (Nahan), February 22

After waging a long-drawn battle against the limestone quarrying mafia in a remote village of Himachal Pradesh, she is now struggling to make both ends meet. Saddled with the responsibility of maintaining herself and her family, wizened Kinkri Devi, 65, today feels exhausted and dejected.When this correspondent met her at her house in Sangrah tehsil, 60 km from Nahan, the environmental activist elaborated on her crusade against the mining mafia to protect flora and fauna, the ordeal she faced from them and, now, the disillusionment with the state government.

“I have been going to various government offices and organisations with the hope of getting the old-age or widow pension. Forget pension, the government has failed to provide me even a free bus pass,” rues Stree Shakti awardee Kinkri Devi, who was widowed when she was just 22.

She hogged the limelight when she took up cudgels against mindless mining in the area. She filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Himachal Pradesh High Court in 1987 seeking a ban on illegal quarrying in the Sangrah area.“Initially, we started agitations at the local level. When the government paid no heed, we decided to move the High Court. Backed by a local voluntary group, People’s Action for People in Need, we filed a PIL,” recalls Kinkri Devi.

“I stayed in Shimla for 19 days for filing the petition. After two days, when the money got exhausted, I worked as a maid there. I even started a fast in front of the High Court to highlight the issue,” she adds.

She faced threats from the mafia. Her poverty and illiteracy could never dampen her spirit to protect the area from degradation. In 1991, the court directed the government to close all the active mines in the area.

The mining lobby moved the Supreme Court against the order. Kinkri Devi won the case in the apex court too.

The feeble voice raised by this frail, short-statured woman of substance was heard when the Ministry of Human Resource Development felicitated her with the award of Jhansi Ki Rani Lakshmi Bai Stree Shakti Puraskar — 1999 for her valuable service. The award was given by the then Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, in 2001. She was also honoured by various organisations for her service.

In 1995, she was invited to attend the international women’s conference in Beijing. She was invited by Hillary Clinton, wife of former US President Bill Clinton, to light up the lamp at the inaugural function.

Even today Kinkri Devi is determined to create awareness among the people about soil conservation, forest protection and water preservation. But poor health, coupled with poor financial condition, is now letting down this ageing widow. Her voice chokes when she asks: “Is this the way the government treats its heroes?”

21 February 2006

Travel Tales from India: Travelling to Bhamour, Hadsar and Half Way to Mani Mahesh in Himanchal Pradesh, India

Travel Tales from India: Travelling to Bhamour, Hadsar and Half Way to Mani Mahesh in Himanchal Pradesh, India

20 February 2006

Gaddis-The Nomads of Himachal

Images by Dr B C Khanna http://www.123himachal.com/himachal/gaddis.htm A nice article on 123Himachal about Gaddis. Pease do read...

18 February 2006

himachal.us

http://himachal.us

New Blog

17 February 2006

Nicholas Roerich

Temple of Naggar. From “Kulu” series. 1929

A lot is going on in Kullu valley, most of it for the new world as negative publicity due to the declining of setting up of ski village there. But Kullu valley has a lot of history, its the most beautiful valley in Himachal with breath taking views of Himalayan ranges, snow covered mountains and sprwaling gardens of Apples, beautiful ladies and of course the ever fresh water rivers, whether you take devdar trees or the untouched parts of the valley, there is something devine in Kullu valley.

Left to right: W.N. Koelz, Esther Lichtmann, Nicholas Roerich. January, 1931. Naggar, India

Kullu attracts any one who visits it once, most of the tourists visit it again and again from different parts of the world, most of the Indian movies, whether Bollywood or south Indian, they are shooted here and arist, poets every one finds the devine solace in the valley.

You visit Kullu and you will be mesmerised with the beauty it offersm there is something in the air!

Since my college days I visited Kullu many times, even last time I visited India, I found time to go and touch Kullu for a single day, there is something which attracts me there.

I respect valley as in our Hindu vedas this is the valley where most of our saints worshipped, Pandvas passed their exile here and even new age social gurus are visiting the valley.

One good example is Nicholas Roerich.

Left to right: George Roerich, Nicholas Roerich, Svetoslav Roerich. 1932–33. Naggar, India NRM ref. No 401203

Any one who has a little interest in Arts would be knowing about Nicholas Roerich. I would encourage people to read more about him and see first hand his paintings on http://www.roerich.org/

A small excerpt from this article by Nanjunda Rao

Nicholas Roerich. 1931–32. Kulu–Lahul, India NRM ref. No 401172 In 1923, Prof. Nicholas, his wife Madam Helena Roerich, their sons, Svetoslav, a painter in the class of his father and George, a scientist and archaeologist, came to India. At first they lived near Darjeeling, but later they established the Urusvati Research Institute in the Kulu Valley, where the family still has its residence. Both in the East and West Himalayas, Prof. Roerich has painted a large gallery of pictures that not only reflects the magnificent vision of the hills, but also embodies something of the spiritual history and legend with which they are associated.

Beautiful Spiti photo gallery

I found these beautiful snaps on Mountain Club of South Africa website. They did trekking in Spiti in 2000, please pay a visit for more snaps: mcsa.org.za

14 February 2006

Torino 2006

Neha Ahuja is in Alpine Skiing, Ladies' Giant Slalom. Bahadur Gupta is in Cross-Country Skiing, Men's Sprint. Shiva Keshavan is in Luge, Men's Singles Competition. Check all of them at: TORINO 2006

Here is small definition of Luge from wiki:

Luge is small one- or two-person sled on which one sleighs supine and feet-first. Steering is done by flexing the sled's runners or pulling straps attached to the sled's runners. Luge is also the name of the sport which involves racing with such sleds. Read more here: More about LUGE

India at Winter Olympics

The best part is that Hiral Lal from Manali is taking part in Alpine Skiing, Men's Giant Slalom Cross-Country Skiing. Neha Ahuja is in Alpine Skiing, Ladies' Giant Slalom. Bahadur Gupta is in Cross-Country Skiing, Men's Sprint. Shiva Keshavan is in Luge, Men's Singles Competition.

Torino 2006

12 February 2006

Kullu Dusshera

Dusshera is a unique fair held every year in October. It is a beautiful amalgam of history, rich culture and customs. Unlike other regions of India here effigies of Ravana, Meghnath and Kumbhakarana are not burnt. This is how victory of good over evil is depicted. Kullu Dusshera starts usually on the day it ends in the rest of the country. sunshineadventure

It all started back in 1637 A. D. when Raja Jagat Singh was the ruler of the Valley. One day he came to know that a peasant Durga Dutt of village Tipri owned beautiful pearls, which the Raja wanted to obtain. Durga Dutt tried to convince the Raja by all means that the information was wrong and that he owned no pearls, but all his pleas were in vain. sunshineadventure

The Raja gave him a last chance. Durga Dutt got so scared that he burnt down his own family and house and cursed the Raja for his cruelty. His curse resulted in Raja's leprosy and as he realized the fact he felt guilty.

Kishan Das known as Fuhari Baba advised him to install the famous idol of Lord Raghunathji to get rid of the curse of the peasant. He sent Damodar Dass to steal the idol from Tret Nath Temple of Ayodhya who finally brought it from there in July 1651 A. D. After installing the idol he drank Charnamrit of the idol for several days and was in due course cured. He devoted his kingdom and life for the lord and from then onwards Dusshera started being celebrated with great splendor. Thus on the first fortnight of Ashwin month (mid September to mid October), the Raja invites all the 365 Gods and Goddesses of the Valley to Dhalpur to perform a Yagna in Raghunathji's honor.

On the first day of Dusshera Goddess Hadimba of Manali comes down to Kullu. She is the Goddess of the royal family of Kullu. At the entrance of Kullu the Royal Stick welcomes her and escorts her to the Palace where the royal family awaits her at the entrance of the Palace. Thereafter they enter the Palace only when goddess Hadimba calls them inside. After blessing the royal family she comes to Dhalpur.

The idol of Raghunathji is saddled around Hadimba and placed in a Ratha (chariot) adorned beautifully. Then they wait for the signal from Mata Bhekhli, which is given from top of the hill. Next the Ratha is pulled with the help of ropes from its original place to another spot where it stays for the next six days. The male members of the royal family leave the palace and stay in the Dusshera ground.

More than one hundred gods and goddesses mounted on colorful palanquins participate in this procession. The ceremony feels as if the doors of heaven have been opened and the gods have come down to the earth to rejoice.sunshineadventure

10 February 2006

India at Winter Olympics


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08 February 2006

Himachali music

This is some rare though incomplete information about folk music in Himachal listed at WebIndia Also check out some Himachali music audio files at Beat of India

The Himachal folk music is the greatest solace to the poor people living in the remote areas. The Junju Sukrat Bhunkh and Roopshu songs of the Chamba valley, the Mohna of Bilaspur, the Jhoori or Sirmaur, the Laman of Kulu are all rooted in the daily life and rich folk tradition of the area and each has notable features of its own.

Most of the songs require no instrumental accompaniment. The themes are usually common ones like human love and separation of lovers. Some songs are about rituals. Chhinj, Laman, Jhoori, Gangi, Mohana and Tappe are love songs. Dholru is a seasonal song. Bare-Haren are ballads about warriors, Soohadiyan are songs sung at Childbirth. Losi and Pakkahad and Suhaag songs are all family songs, Karak are songs of praise in honour of the deities and Alhaini is a song of mourning. All these songs follow a specific style of singing and the geographical facts have a deep effect on these.

The songs are sung in unison and the singer decides how and which way the notes and syllables are to be pronounced. They make changes in lines and substitute or replace words.

Jhoori

The word means a lover or a beloved and is said to be connected with Jhoomar. Jhoomar is a female dance form. Both men and women sing and dance to Jhoori. It is a dance performed in the open and describes extra-marital love. It is very popular in Sirmaur and Mahasu areas and has a special rhythm of its own. Each piece has four lines and the last syllable in the first line is pronounced in a drawn-out fashion. The Jhoori songs place a great importance on the rhyming pattern within the song.

Laman

Laman singing is popular in the Kulu valley. These songs sing of the romantic love between men and women. The first line is only for rhyming with the second and it is the second line which furthers the theme. Syllables like Oa, Aa form the 'Tek' or the note which is prolonged at the end of the line. These syllables help the singers establish a certain resonance and a definite rhythmic pattern.

The Samskara songs (sung at family festivals and other such occasions) are based upon classical Ragas. These songs are sung by women from the higher castes in the morning and at night time. Some of the morning songs have traces of Raga Asa in them. The songs sung at wedding are set in old Ragas like Durga, Malkauns and Bhoopali.

The Jhanjhotis are based on Ragas like Bindrabani Sarang, Durga, Tilang and Des. The martial songs have combined traces of Asa and Durga. The Gidda songs are in Raga Durga. The songs sung by professional singers have very attractive classical overtones.

The famous love-lyrics in Himachal areas are Phulmu-Ranjhu, Kunju-Chanchalo and Raja-Gaddan. the Phulmu-Ranjhu lyric tells of a tragic episode. In Kunju-Chanchalo the song takes the form of a conversation between the lover and his sweetheart. The Raja-Gadden song records the wooing of gaddan Nokhu by Raja Sansar Chand of Kangra.

There are also songs which recall some important historical events like the sacrifice of Rani Suhi for a public cause, like bringing drinking water to Chamba town. The song called Sukrat is soulfully rendered and depicts the great story of the sacrifice of the Rani, famous for her feeling of love for the people and her deep human sympathy for them. Another tragic story telling the love of a brother who takes upon himself the blame for the murder his brother committed and thereby goes to the gallows in Bilaspur is depicted in one of the saddest song called Mohana.

Ceremonial lyrics such as Bhayi, Suhag, Suhagare and Vidayi are sung on special occasions like birth, betrothal and marriage. Seasonal song like Chhinj are sung only in Chaitra (March).

Ainchaliyan

Ainchali is a religious ballad. The customs of singing Ainchali in the house of the bride is common among the farming communities. In this the men-folk go to the houses of the married couples and sing these romantic Ainchali songs to the beat of drums or platters of pictures. The women sing these songs in the house of the unmarried girl. In these songs, incidents from the marriage of gods like Shiva and Rama are sung with great gusto.

In the Chamba-Pangi areas, the professional singers go from village to village with a khanjari (tambourine) and play on these as they sing. They also use string puppets. They sing traditional songs from Ramayana and Mahabharata. In the month of Chaitra, the Doms and Domanis go from house to house and sing Dholaru songs to the people.

MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS A variety of drums are used in the Himachal area. Drums like Dhol, Dholku, Dolki, Nagara, Dammama, Damanght, Nagarth, Gajju, Doru, Hudak and Dhaunsa are some of them. In the Kinnaur, Lahaul, Pangi, Sirmaur and Kulu areas, drums of different shapes and sizes are played at different festivals. These are stored with great care in holy spots like temples, Gompas and Madhis. Before they are played, flowers, turmeric paste and rice is offered unto them and prayers are chanted. In the plains large drums known as 'Tamaka' are played at fairs. People belonging to the Bharai community perform the ritual playing of this drum at the fair site and then all the young ones sing and dance together to the beat of these drums. Playing upon these, signals the beginning of a fair or a festival.

Among the Gaddis small round drums known as Dafale are played at weddings. These are slung round the necks of the players and rhythms like Dhamal and Lahauli are played upon these.

These drums are made with locally available material. Their shapes and the methods of playing upon them reflects local traditions. The Dhol of Kulu, the Damangtu and Nagartu of Sirmaur are all played differently in the tribal areas. As soon as the drums sound the entire community gathers together and loses itself in lusty singing and dancing. Earlier the Baren (martial ballads) of Ram Singh Pathania were sung to the accompaniment of Dafale by singers known as Adavale. These songs are sung in the Sirmaur area. The largest of the drums is Dhaunsa which is played standing. Tung Yung is a similar instrument.

Rana Singha, Karnal, Turhi and Flute or Bishudi, Algoja (twin flutes), Shehnai or Peepni are popular wind instruments. The flute is favourite of shepherds and weary travelers. Rana Singha, Shehnai and Been are usually played at wedding and on auspicious occasions. At the time of the ritual puja at the temples, Rana Singha, Karnal, Conch shells and Shehnai are played. These instruments accompany the processions of gods at festivals. In the Lahaul-Spiti areas in Granyang and Jumang and Mahasu some ancient musical instruments like Kindari can be heard.

Percussion instruments like Jhanjh (large cymbals), Manjira (small cymbals), Chimta (tongs). Ghanta (gongs), Ghariyal (large gong), Thali (platter), Ghunghru (bells), Kokatha Murchang (a stringed instrument played with a bow with bells) are quite popular in folk dramas like Jagarata, Bhagat and Kariyala etc. During the singing of Ainchali or Jagaratas a pitcher is placed upon a platter and played with an iron bangle. On such occasions, wooden castanets (Khadtal) and bells are also used.

Ektara, Kindari Davatra, Gramyang or Rabab, Sarnagi, Jumang and Ruman are some stringed instruments, commonly used by professional singers.

The folk singers of the Chamba valley known as Ghurai sing to the accompaniment of cymbals. Gramyang, Rumals, Jumang are tribal instruments of the Lahaul and Kinnar areas.

02 February 2006

Prashar Lake

Prashar lake in Jan. 2006.

VALLEY OF GODS

Recently while browsing Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts website I came accross an exhibition "Valley of gods" by Virendra Bangroo and Krzysztof Stronski. This link provides a detailed information about the local village Gods as well as few snaps. You can order fine prints also from here. Small excerpt form the site:

Kullu

Kullu is also known as the "Valley of Gods" despite the facts that gods are worshipped all over Himachal Pradesh. This is because the tradition of worshipping gods is very ancient in the valley and the number of gods is quite large - over 300. Each village has a god, in some villages there may be two or more gods. The form of worship of gods is different and unique here. Here the gods act as moving beings rather than being statues fixed within the temple. Each god has his own temple but they are generally devoid of any statue.

Gods are represented by ratahas (palanquins), studded with metallic mohras (faces), adorned with variegated cloth lengths and flowers, and lifted on the shoulders by two men. Women have hardly any role to play in the affairs of the gods. The rathas are accompanied by band of deity's musicians, attendants, followers and carriers of symbols of royal or divine artifacts etc. The rathas often become animated or possessed of spirits and show various human moods and behavior like anger through rushing frantically, or happiness by dancing in a leisurely manner, meeting with friends, etc. besides actually speaking through the medium of gurr (priest) an answering to various queries of the devotees.

The gods of Kullu can be classified into three classes. The first are the ancient rikhis and pious women of epic character .The second type belonging to the Naga (serpent) class and the third must be tribal chiefs and heroes.

The gods in the form of holy spirits have had their presence in the valley since times immemorial. They not only control their areas of influence but also the daily routine of the inhabitants. The spirits maintain their influence by entering the physical body of chosen men called gurr whom the people consult regarding their ailments, their perplexities and otherwise. On festive occasions people become ecstatic as they join in the singing and dancing along with the holy spirits. This scene is captivating in the extreme.