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Many Ramayanas

Once, Aristotle, the famous ancient Greek philosopher, asked an old carpenter how long he had used his knife. Thirty years, the carpenter replied. He had changed a blade a few times and the handle a few times, but the knife was the same, added the carpenter. Something similar has happened to the Indian epic, Ramayana. Writers in different places and...

The Story of Dussehra

Dussehra, also called Vijayadashmi (or Bijoya in Bengal), is the culmination of the nine-day Navaratri celebrations. It is a festival that marks the killing of Ravana, his son Meghanatha and brother Kumbhakarna, by Rama. It is seen as the vistory of good over evil The Ramayana The epic Ramayana, describes the story of Rama. Rama was the exiled prince of...

The ‘Jawabi Keertan’

I saw it 23 years ago, but the incident is as fresh in my mind as if it happened yesterday. I was seven years old then and staying with my grandmother in Shahjahanpur, a sleepy little town in western Uttar Pradesh. The nearest big city, Bareilly, known for its glass bangles industry, was one hour away. It was the month...

Madhubani Magic of Gangadevi

Aditi De of the 'Women's Feature Service' writes about a meeting she had in the 1980s, with Gangadevi, the gifted painter of Mithila. Gangadevi is largely responsible for placing an ancient art, practiced for centuries by the women of her village, in the artistic map of the world. Face to face, Gangadevi, seemed shy at first glance. She...

Fun’tastic Ramlila, Dandiya, Jatra

Whether it is a pesky 11-year-old Dashrath struggling to maintain his flowing beard during the enactment of the Ramayana in a street Ramlila, or handsome young artistes enacting Rama and Sita on a professional stage, the feeling is the same for the viewers. They know the story of Sita and Ram by heart, but every year they wait with bated...

The Gift of Wonder

Eleven years ago, under the sequinned sky on a warm summer day, on the roof of his palatial home in the town of Vrindaban, my grandfather introduced me to wonder. As I lay on a mattress surrounded members of the family, my grandfather or “Nana” as I used to call him, asked me to look at the sky and...

Festive Bow and Arrow

Any play on Ramayana is incomplete without the bow and arrow (teer Kamaan). You can make your own bow and arrow, too, but be careful not to hurt anyone. You will need: Elastic, broomstick, plasticine, stem of any tree, scissors and paints. Step 1: Bend the stem in the form of an arc making sure it does not break. Tie elastic from...

Banaras The Eternal City

City of many names, Banaras as it is most commonly called, was officially renamed in 1956 as Varanasi, a name from antiquity. It was first known as Kashi, the city of light, when it was the capital of the kingdom of the same name about 500 BC. For over 2000 years, Banaras the eternal city has been the religious capital...

Children’s Museum says no to Dolls, Yes to e-games

June 17: For many years, the Nehru Children's Museum in Calcutta, has been a popular place for children and adults. It has a huge collection of rare Indian and foreign toys. Many of them are handmade and depict characters from the epics of Mahabharata, the Ramayana, or the Jataka tales (or tales of the Buddha). It has toys from...

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Batik: Ancient Art of Painting in Wax

A routine college day. We had to go for textile practicals after lunch. Going for any class post lunch was a pain. All we...

The Scent of an Enemy

It seems the fish were always a smart lot. Only, humans took some time to realise the fact. Some years ago, scientists had discovered...

Himalayas Have a Deep Impact on the Climate of the World

Tibet is known as the roof of the world. That is because it is on a region which has the highest altitude in the...

Abdul Kareem’s Forest

A lush green forest in the middle of a rocky wasteland. No, this paradise is not an illusion. Abdul Kareem has created it with...

Kindness to Animals

Little children, never give Pain to things that feel and live; Let the gentle robin come For the crumbs you save at home; As his meat you throw...