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Transcript of India
Land of Diversity
Land of Diversity
The Indian Saree is the traditional dress of women living in India. It consists of a very long, narrow piece of clothing that is elaborately wrapped around the body. It is a very versatile piece of clothing; it can be worn as shorts, trousers, flowing gowns or comfy skirts. All without a single stitch! It varies in length from 5-9.5 yards tied loosely. It is made out of various cottons and silks, depending on the area it is made in.
It is more than 5000 years old! It boasts of its oldest existence in the sartorial world. It has been mentioned in Vedas, which is the oldest existing literature that is still surviving (3000 B.C.). It is worn by 75% of the population.
Mehndi(also known as Henna), is a paste that is a bought in a cone-shaped tube. It is used to make into designs for men and women; a form of temporary skin decoration that is practiced in India. The name originated from the Sanskrit word mendhikā. It is natural for both men and women to wear it, although it was first used for women and never for men. The traditional Indian designs are usually representations of the sun on the palm, which is intended to represent the hands and the feet. It is worn by the people of Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and the Maldives. For women, it's generally applied on the hands and feet, and sometimes on the back of the shoulders. They can also be applied on their fingernails and toenails. For men, it is applied on their arms, legs, back, and chest. It is typically applied during special occasions such as Hindu weddings and Hindu festivals, though it was originally used as a form of decoration for mainly brides. Often, the intials of the groom and bride are hidden in the designs, and if the groom can't find the initials in his henna, he is expected to give his wife a new gift. This game of "hide and seek" serves as an icebreaker for couples to feel more comfortable with each other.
The male counterpart of the Saree is called dhoti. To distinguish them, the upper portion of the Saree which covers the chest, left shoulder, and at times head, is missing in dhoti, whereas before there was virtually no difference between the two. The styles in wearing saree vary depending on your region. For example, the Gujurat style and the Bengali style of wearing it are very different. So are Mangolorean, Kannadiga, Kodava, Tamilian, Malayali, etc. It is worn in 10-15 different styles in India. In the Maharashtra and North Karnataka region, wearing a nine yard saree without a petticoat was fashionable until the 20th century. When folded and pleated manually, it could be turned into a working dress or party-wear. To let them have free movement of hands and legs, they would tuck the front pleats between the legs to the back, and then tie the upper half around the waist. There could also be gold or silver cloth belts that was fastened which kept the upper cover(pallu), pleats, and folds intact. It is durable enough that it can move smoothly in waves. The Saree is essentially Indian, it is designed specifically to adapt to the local conditions. A 19th century painter, Raja Ravi Varma, chose the nine yard saree as a painting canvas for the goddesses that he was asked to commission for.
You could reuse Saree in many ways. You could stitch quilts, folding soft and worn-out Sarees and putting bright new covers on them for children, which kept them warm. For village women, old saree folds could also be served to use as pouches, bags, and haversack to carry grocery, and at time babies as well. They could also be used to convert into towels, napkins, diapers, etc., even after they are worn out. As of today, the dress of Indians are getting westernized. Most functional and multi-purpose Saree are still reigning in India.
Traditonal Silk Saree
Mehndi is a ceremonial art form. In Rajasthan, the designs for the groom are often as elaborate as those for the brides. Muslims have also started using it as an indication of coming age. In some gulf states, it is used the night before weddings to dedicate to the decoration. These nights are called "mehndi nights" or "henna nights."
Henna is usually applied with a plastic cone or a paintbrush. After around 15-20 minutes after application, the mud will begin to dry and crack. During this time, a mixture of lemon juice and white sugar can be applied over the design to re-moisten the mud so the design will be able to stain darker. To lock in body heat, the decorated area is then wrapped with tissue, plastic, or medical tape, creating a more intense colour. The wrap is worn for 3-6 hours, or in some cases overnight, and then it is removed. When it is first removed, it is a noticeably light colour, but it gradually darkens over the course of 24-27 hours. The final product's colour is a reddish brown. It can last anywhere from 1-3 weeks, depending on the quality and type of henna paste applied, as well as where it is applied on the skin. For example, thicker skin stains darker than thin skin. Moisturization is also important, for it helps extend the lifespan of the henna. Skin exfoliation is helpful in having the tattoo fade away.
Shiny Abraham Wilson
Shiny Abraham Wilson
Asian Games Gold Medallist
Shiny Abraham Wilson is a retired Indian athlete. She was born on May 8,1965 at Thodupuzha village in the Idukki district of Kerala, which makes her 48 today. For 14 years in a row, she was unbeaten in the 800 metres national championships. She is the first Indian woman to reach the semi-finals at the Olympic Games. She is an Asian Games Gold Medallist. The Asian Games or Asiad, is a multi-sport event which is held every four years among athletes from all over Asia.
In international competitions, she has represented India more than 75 times, as well as representing Asia in 4 World Cups. She also represented India in 3 Asian Games, winning a Gold, 2 Silver and a Bronze from them. She is perhaps the only athlete to have taken part in 6 Asian Track & Field Meets in a row beginning in 1985 in Jakarta. During this time, she won
7 Gold, 5 Silver, and 2 Bronze medals in the Asiad competitions. Shiny has also completed 7 South Asian Federation(SAF) meets, collecting a total of 18 gold and 2 silver medals.
Shiny was always interested in athletics as a child, but she developed her skills after joining the sports division in Kottayam.
She studied with PT Usha and M D Valsamma at the same sports division in various parts of Kerala.
She was then trained at a G.V. Raja Sports School in Trivandrum, before she decided to move to Alphonsa College in Palai.
M D Valsamma
Participation & Awards:
Participation & Awards:
Shiny has participated in 4 Olympic Games: Los Angeles(1984), Seoul (1988), Barcelona(1992), and Atlanta(1996). Although she didn't win any medals from the games, she and PT Usha powered India to a Women's 4x400 relay final at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. She was also captain of the Indian Contingent at the 1992 Olympic Games.
She has received the Arjuna Award(1984), Birla Award(1996), and the Padma Shiri(1998). She also received the Chinese Journalist Award in 1991 for being one of the Top Ten Athletes of Asia.
Shiny & Arjuna Award
Shiny's athletic career was similar to that of PT Usha's since the time the two of them represented the country in the New Delhi Asian Games in 1982. A year before that she became national champion in 800 metres. After that, she won the event every time she did the course on the national scene, until she announced her retirement. She is a veteran of 4 Olympics and 3 Asian Games. She had many great moments as an athlete, one of which was the experience in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games where she became the first woman from India to enter the semi-final of an Olympic event. More importantly, she was part of the relay squad during the World Championships in Rome of 1987, which set the Asian record there and again when it improved upon that mark. She also cherishes the memory of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, when she became the first woman to bear the flag for India. For every good memory, there ought to be some bad ones. Like the day when she cut into the inner lane and was disqualified while she was clearly in front of the field, during the 1986 Asian Games in Seoul. Her most memorable competition was at Asian Track & Field Meet in Delhi of 1989. One of her greates achievements was that she was running even faster after the birth of her child, and she even set a new record of 1:59.85 in the 800m race at the 1995 South Asian Fedearation(SAF) Games in Chennai. She is currently married to well-know international swimmer and Arjuna awardee, Cherian Wilson. The couple have 3 children.She is also employed as Deputy Manager of Sports along with the Food corporation of India.
Shiny Abraham at the Asian Games
Shiny with husband Cherian Wilson
Diwali or "festival of lights" is a Hindu festival celebrated mainly in India, but also in other parts of the world. It is certainly the biggest and brightest festival of the year. It falls between Mid-October and Mid-November. There are 4 days in this festival, excluding Diwali itself. The first day of festivities start with Dhanteras, followed by Naraka Chaturdasi on the second, Diwali falling on the third, Diwali Padva on the fourth, and Bhau-beej on the last.
Origin of Diwali
Origin of Diwali
Historically, the origin of Diwali can be traced back to Ancient India, when it was probably an important harvest festival. However, there are various legends that tell different stories about the origin of Diwali. For example, some believe it to be the celebration of the marriage of Lakshmi with Lord Vishnu, whereas some in the Bengali area believe the festival is dedicated to the Mother Kali, the dark goddess of strength. Diwali also commemorates the return of Lord Rama along with Sita and Lakshman from his fourteen year long exile and exterminating the demon-king Ravana. In joyous celebration of the return of their king, the people of Ayodhya, the Capital of Rama, illuminated the kingdom with diyas (oil lamps) and burst crackers.
Dhanteras is the first day of Diwali festivities. The word 'Dhan' meaning wealth, and 'Teras' meaning 13th as in 13th day. Dhanteras holds special significance for the business society due to the customary purchase of precious metals on this day. On Dhanteras, Lakshmi, the goddes of wealth, is worshiped to provide prosperity and well being. In the evening, a lamp is lit and Dhan-Lakshmi is welcomed into the home. To mark the arrival of Lakshmi, Rangoli or Kolam designs are drawn on pathways, including the goddess' footprints. Aartis or devotional hymns are sung eulogizing Goddess Lakshmi, and sweets and fruits are offered to her. People rush to the jewellers and buy gold or silver jewelry, or utensils, to celebrate the Dhanteras occasion. Many wear new clothes and wear jewellery as they light the first lamp of Diwali while some engage in a game of gambling.
Naraka Chaturdashi or Kali Chaudas, marks the second day of Diwali festivities. This day is alotted to worshiping Mahakali, the Hindu goddess of time and death. On this day, a head wash and application of kajal in the eyes is believed to keep away the kali nazar (evil eye). Alternatively, people offer Nived (food) to the goddess that is local to where they are originally from. This goddess is called their Kul Devi, in order to cast off evil spirits. Some families also offer food to their forefathers on this day. The second day of Diwali is known as Kali Choudas in Gujarat, Rajasthan & few part of Maharashtra. On this day Hindus get up earlier than usual. Before bathing, the men will rub their bodies in perfumed oil. Afterwards, clean clothes are worn; some people wear new ones. A large breakfast is enjoyed with relatives and friends. In the evening, a mix of bright and loud fireworks are set off in an atmosphere of joyful fun and noise. As part of the midday meal, special sweet dishes are served. Houses are lit with diyas during the evening. On this night people clean, renovate, and decorate their homes.
The third day of Diwali is, well, Diwali! On this night, Hindus dress up in new clothes or their best outfit, light up diyas inside and outside the home, and participate in family puja (prayers). After puja, fireworks follow, then a family feast including mithai (sweets), and an exchange of gifts between family and friends. All the simple rituals of Diwali have a significance and a story to tell. The illumination of homes with lights and the skies with firecrackers is an expression of respect to the heavens for the arrival of health, wealth, knowledge, peace and prosperity. According to one belief, the sound of fire-crackers are an indication of the joy of the people living on earth, making the gods aware of their plentiful state. Although, there is a much more scientific reason as to why we set off firecrackers on this day: the fumes produced by the crackers kill a lot of insects and mosquitos, which are found all over after the rains. There is also a legend behind the tradition of gambling. It is believed that on this day, Goddess Parvarti played dice with her husband Lord Shiva, and she declared that whoever gambled on this night would prosper throughout the following year. Diwali is also associated with wealth and prosperity through the day of Dhanteras, celebrated two days before Diwali.
The fourth day of diwali is called Govardhana Puja. On this day, Govardhana Puja is performed. Many thousands of years ago, Lord Krishna caused the people of Vraja to worship this sacred hill. From then on, every year, Hindus worship Govardhana to honour that first Puja done by the people of Vraja. It is written in the Ramayana that when the bridge to Lanka was being built by the Vanara army, Hanuman (a divine loyal servant of Lord Rama possessing enormous strength) brought a mountain as material to help with the construction of the bridge. When a call was given that enough materials had already been obtained, Hanuman placed the mountain down before he reached the construction site. Due to lack of time, he did not return the mountain to its original place. The deity presiding over this mountain spoke to Hanuman asking of his reason for leaving the mountain there. Hanuman replied that the mountain should remain there until the age of Dvapara when Lord Rama incarnates as Lord Krishna, who will shower His grace on the mountain, and will instruct that the mountain be worshiped not only in that age but in ages to come. This deity whom Hanuman spoke to was none other than Govardhana (an incarnation of Lord Krishna), who manifested Himself in the form of the mountain.To fulfill this decree, Govardhan Puja was performed and this celebration is continued to this day.
The last day of the Diwali is called Bhratri Dooj(there are many other names for it). This is the day after Govardhana Puja is performed and normally two days after Diwali day. It is a day dedicated to sisters. Many moons ago, in the Vedic era, Yama (Yamaraja, the Lord of Death) visited his sister, Yamuna, on this day. He gave his sister a Vardhan (boon or request), that whoever visits her on this day shall be liberated from all sins. They will achieve moksha, or liberation. From then on, brothers visit their sisters on this day to enquire of their welfare, and many faithful bathe in the holy waters of the Yamuna river. This day marks the end of the five days of Diwali celebrations. This day is also known as Bhai Fota among Bengalis. Bhai Fota is an event especially among Bengalis when the sister prays for her brother’s safety, success and well being.
Holi or 'Phagwah' is the most colourful festival celebrated by the Vedic Religion followers. It is a national holiday in India.It is celebrated as harvest festival as well as welcome-festival for the spring season in India. The festival of Holi can be regarded as a celebration of the Colors of Unity & Brotherhood - an opportunity to forget all differences and indulge in fun. It has traditionally been celebrated in high spirit without any distinction of cast, creed, color, race, status or gender. It is one occasion when sprinkling colored powder ('gulal') or colored water on each other breaks all barriers of discrimination so that everyone looks the same and universal brotherhood is reaffirmed. This is one simple reason to participate in this colorful festival.
What is Holi?
'Holi' is derived from the word 'hola', meaning to offer oblation or prayer to the Almighty as Thanksgiving for good harvest. Holi is celebrated every year to remind people that those who love God shall be saved and they who torture the devotee of God shall be reduced to ashes a la the mythical character Holika. 'Phagwah' comes from the name of the Hindu month 'Phalgun', because it is on the full moon in the month of Phalgun that Holi is celebrated. The month of Phalgun ushers India in Spring when seeds sprout, flowers bloom and the country rises from winter's slumber. Holi is also associated with the Puranic story of Holika, the sister of demon-king Hiranyakashipu. As per the legend says, the demon-king punished his son, Prahlad in a variety of ways to denounce Lord Narayana. He failed in all his attempts. Finally, he asked his sister Holika to take Prahlad in her lap and enter a blazing fire. Holika had a request to remain unburned even inside fire. Holika did her brother's bidding. However, Holika's wish ended by this act of supreme sin against the Lord's devotee and was burnt to ashes. But Prahlad came out unharmed.
Holi celebrations start on the night before Holi with a Holika bonfire, where people gather, sing, and dance.The next morning is a free for all carnival of colours, where everyone plays, chases and colours each other with dry powder and coloured water, with some carrying water guns and coloured water-filled balloons for their water fight. Anyone and everyone is fair game, friend or stranger, rich or poor, man or woman, children and elders. The frolic and fight with colours occurs in the open streets, open parks, outside temples and buildings. Groups carry drums and musical instruments, and singing and dancing wherevery they go.People move and visit family, friends, and foes. They play with colours, laugh and mingle, and share Holi delicacies. In the evening, people dress up and visit friends and family.
A Holi celebration in Navi Mumbai, India.