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Tansen – The Magical Musician

Tansen – The Magical Musician

Almost exactly in the centre of India is a town called Gwalior. In this town is the tomb of Tansen, one of the greatest musicians that ever lived. Next to his beautifully carved stone tomb stands a little tamarind tree. It is believed that by eating a leaf of this tree and touching the tomb, a singer can improve his voice. If this sounds like magic, the story of Tansen is equally magical. Even today, many famous musicians follow the style of music created by Tansen known as the “Gwalior Gharana”....

Who or What is a Gladiator?

Who or What is a Gladiator?

It all started in ancient Rome. The most brutal sport that has ever existed in the history of the world was the fights between gladiators. The ‘sport’ traces its roots to the custom among the Etruscan people, a civilisation in Italy that existed before the Roman civilisation. At the death of the master of the house, servants would duel to the death for the right to follow their owners in death and provide help and company....

The Birth of Christ

The Birth of Christ

Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. Everyone knows that. Do you know the entire story of his birth? Let me narrate it in brief. Over 2000 ago, Roman emperor Caesar Augustus, issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. So everyone went to his or her hometowns to register. A carpenter called Joseph, who was in Nazareth in Galilee in the Middle East (which was also part of the empire), went to nearby Bethlehem....

How Did Santa Claus Originate?

How Did Santa Claus Originate?

Its nearly midnight and with a jingle of bells a sled comes streaking from the north, pulled of course by Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer. Sitting in the sled is a jolly round red robed figure with flowing white beard and a bag slung over his shoulder that lands on the rooftop with a merry ho-ho-ho. Hey! Its Christmas and its Santa Claus. If you’ve been nice, he slides down the chimney and loads up little stockings hung there with lots of toys and goodies....

Raksha Bandhan

Excerpts from the book “Festivals of India” Sravani, the sacred thread changing ceremony, and Raksha Bandhan are celebrated on the full moon day of the month of shravan (June-July) and are often regarded as two names for the same festival. This is not strictly true because Sravani is specifically a Brahmin festival referred to in the sacred Sanskrit texts as Rishi Tarpan or Upa Karma. It is a very ancient Vedic festival and even today is regarded as important in Bengal, Orissa, southern India, Gujarat and some other states....

Gems of Indian Literature

Gems of Indian Literature

Excerpts from ‘Books Forever’ Written by Manoj Das Published by National Book Trust, New Delhi India’s literary past is indeed great. It’s a known fact that many of the parables of the Bible, the fables of Aesop of Greece, the folktales collected by the Grimm brothers of Germany and the tales retold by Hans Andersen of Denmark had their origin in India. We shall unravel together some of the gems of Indian literature like the Bhagavad Gita,The Upanishads, Vedas, Ramayana, and the Mahabharata in our subsequent articles....

The Emperor and Hawai Elephant

The Emperor and Hawai Elephant

It happened more than 400 years ago. Mughal emperor Akbar was very fond of taming elephants and riding them. Hawai was the most magnificent elephant in the royal stable. Despite his huge size, the male elephant was a swift runner. He was as quick in losing his temper. Even the best riders had problems getting on to him; the thought of making him take part in a fight was unthinkable. And that was a challenge Akbar simply could not refuse....

It's a Zoo Out There!

It's a Zoo Out There!

Almost 400 years ago, Mughal emperor Jehangir acquired a new animal in his private collection or zoo – the zebra. This unusual, striped animal fascinated him so much that he wrote about it in his memoirs as a strange creature. Some even imagined that the animal’s stripes had been painted! The emperor decided to find out whether the zebra was indeed coloured or not. After much investigation, he made it public that the zebra, too, was a creature created by god....

The King Who Tested Babies

The King Who Tested Babies

Children are always asking questions, like ‘Why is the sky blue’, or ‘Why do we have only one nose’. And sometimes they also open up things like clocks to understand how they work. Emperor Akbar was also like that — always wanting to know this or that. He continued to ask such questions even after becoming the emperor. Once he asked a very interesting question. How do babies learn to speak? Was it by listening to people talk?...

The Emperor who Won a Toy in a Fight

The Emperor who Won a Toy in a Fight

Akbar was three years old in 1545. He was then staying with his uncle Kamran. On a special day, there was a feast. And Kamran had bought a kettle drum for his son, Ibrahim Mirza. Akbar took a fancy to it and decided he must have it. Ibrahim Mirza, who was older than Akbar, was not in a mood to part with his toy. So he set a condition. He suggested a wrestling match. Whoever won would take the toy....

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