8.1. KANIYAN KOOTHU
Kaniyan koothu is a ritual art form practised during temple festivals in Tamil Nadu, but only by men.
Kaniyan Koothu gets its name from the community that the artists come from. Kaniyans are a Scheduled Tribe.
The team generally consists of six members.
Instrument: Magudam, or frame drum is the main instrument. It is made by fixing the new hide on the frame with a paste made from tamarind seed.
The lead singer is called annavi and he leads this troupe.
It has very deep religious significance. It is not about entertainment.
The team never performs at weddings, deaths and functions at homes.
The performers receive no formal training; the singers pick up the songs and stories by listening to their fathers.
Kaniyan Koothu tells Puranic stories such as Markandeya and Harischandra Puranam and tales from Ramayana and Mahabarata, besides local dieties.
Kaniyan Koothu is at least 300 years old and can be traced back to 17th century.
There is a passing reference to the art in Mukkoodarpallu (Tamil poem from the Nayak period)
But the art form as it is now, similar to a stage performance, is probably 80 years old, and is influenced by Tamil drama.
The Kaniyan are a tribal community residing in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu.
Their population is less than 750 and only around 200 persons are currently performing the art.
Generally they are uneducated and live in poverty
8.2. CHERAMAN JUMA MASJID
The Cheraman Juma Masjid situated in Thrissur district (Kerela), is believed to be the first mosque built in India by Arab traders around 629 AD.
It is symbolic of active trade relations between India and Saudi Arabia since ancient times.
The mosque has an ancient oil lamp that is always kept burning and
people from all religions bring oil for the lamp as an offering.
The mosque was reconstructed many times to accommodate increasing visitors.
The mosque is believed to have been constructed by Malik Bin Dinar, a contemporary of Cheraman Perumal, a Chera King who went to Arabia and embraced Islam after meeting the Holy Prophet at Mecca.
Why in news?
The Prime Minister gifted King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia a gold-plated replica of the Cheraman Juma Masjid.
8.3. RANJIT SINGH’S STATUE
A statue of Maharaja Ranjit Singh will be installed in France’s Saint-Tropez town, the birth place of his Army General Jean-Francois Allard, in September this year.
Gen. Allard (French) along with Gen. Ventura (Italian) served in the army of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and both made an enormous contribution for the modernisation of his military through their strategic experience and raised Fauj-i-khas, the 'special' or 'royal' brigade.
It will develop an epoch of Punjab -France relations and will give a boost to tourism.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh
He was the founder of the Sikh Empire, which came to power in the Indian subcontinent in the early half of the 19th century.
The empire, based in the Punjab region, existed from 1799 to 1849.
The British had to wait until he died before they could take over the whole of India.
Why in news?
To celebrate the spirit of its people, Concept 1469 and art historian Alka Pande have come together to organise the third edition of ‘Mela Phulkari: Threads of Punjab’ in Delhi.
The origin of this art can be traced back to the 15th century AD.
It is a form of craft in which embroidery is done in a simple and sparse design over shawls and dupattas.
In some cases where the design is worked over very closely, covering the material entirely, it is called bagh (a garden of flowers).
The threads used were of a silk yarn called pat.
Phulkari and baghs are worn by women across Punjab during marriages, festivals and other joyous occasions.
Varieties: There are different varieties of phulkaris and baghs made in Punjab.
The Chope : presented to the bride by her grandmother during a ceremony before the wedding, is embroidered with straight, two-sided line stitch and appears the same on the reverse
Vari-da-bagh (bagh of the trousseau) is also on a red cloth with golden yellow embroidery symbolizing happiness and fertility.
Bawan bagh (fifty-two in Punjabi) has as many geometrical patterns.
Darshan dwar (gate offering a view of the deity) is for presentation in temples or to adorn the walls of the home when the Granth Sahib is brought to a house.
Besides this, designs inspired by various day to day items, fauna and flora around us also found their way into this craft. Eg. Surajmukhi (sunflower), Mor or tota is one that has a peacock or parrot motif, etc.
8.5. SHYAM BENEGAL COMMITTEE ON FILM CERTIFICATION
The Committee was set up under the Chairmanship of Shri Shyam Benegal to lay down norms for film certification.
The Committee has to take note of best practices in various parts of the world and give sufficient and adequate space for artistic and creative expression.
The recommendations of the committee broadly cover the areas related to
Film Certification Process and its simplification.
Restructuring staffing pattern of Central & Regional censor advisory panels.
Recertification of films for purposes of telecast on television and measures to preserve the identity of Indian Cinema.
The Cinematograph Act and Cinematograph Rules under which the CBFC functions date back to 1952 and 1983, respectively.
Central Board of Film Certification
Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) is a statutory body under Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, regulating the public exhibition of films.
Films can be publicly exhibited in India only after they have been certified by CBFC.
The Board consists of non-official members and a Chairperson (all of whom are appointed by the Union Government).
The Certification process is in accordance with The Cinematograph Act, 1952, The Cinematograph (Certification) Rules, 1983, and the guidelines issued by the Central government u/s 5 (B).
At present films are certified under 4 categories
"U" - Unrestricted Public Exhibition
"UA" - Unrestricted Public Exhibition - but with a word of caution that Parental discretion required for children below 12 years
"A" - Restricted to adults
"S" - Restricted to any special class of persons.
CBFC should only be a film certification body whose scope should be restricted to categorizing the suitability of the film to audience groups on the basis of age and maturity.
Regarding the categorisation of films, the committee recommends that it should be more specific and apart from U category, the UA Category can be broken up into further sub-categories – UA12+ & UA15+. The A category should also be sub-divided into A and AC (Adult with Caution) categories.
The Board, including Chairman, should only play the role of a guiding mechanism for the CBFC, and not be involved in the day-to-day affairs of certification of films.
The total composition of the Board should not be more than nine members and one Chairman.
8.6. THE SIKH GURDWARAS (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2016
About the Bill
The Bill seeks to amend the Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925.
The bill proposes to remove the exception given to Sehajdhari Sikhs in 1944 to vote in the elections to select the members of the board and the committees constituted under the act.
Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925
The Act regulates administration of Sikh Gurdwaras in Chandigarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab.
For this purpose, it established the Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) for overall administration and management, and set up committees for management of every Gurdwara.
Election to the SGPC and management committees
The Act provides that every Sikh who is above 21 years of age and is registered as a voter will be entitled to vote in the elections to the SGPC and management committees.
However, no person who trims or shaves his beard or hair will be entitled to vote in these elections.
The Act creates an exception for Sehjdhari Sikhs who trim or shave their beard or hair, and allows them to vote. They practice the Sikh faith without strictly adhering to its five basic tenets.
The Bill removes this exception, disentitling Sehjdhari Sikhs from voting if they carry out these activities.
Who are Sehjdhari Sikhs
Sehjdharis are those who follow Sikhism but without being Amritdharis, or baptised.
They do not adopt the baptismal vows of the Khalsa panth initiated by Guru Gobind Singh.
They might be born in Hindu, Sikh or other families but follow the Sri Guru Granth Sahib.
Under the Act, Sehjdhari Sikhs are those persons who:
perform ceremonies according to Sikh rites
do not consume tobacco or halal meat
have not been expelled from the religion for committing a religious transgression, and
Can recite the Mul Mantra (a Sikh prayer).
8.7. KALAMKARI ART
Why in news?
A series of exclusive Kalamkari works on the Ramayanam and other selected themes have highly appreciated during an exhibition held in France recently.
The word is derived from the Persian words kalam (pen) and kari (craftmanship), meaning drawing with a pen.
These paintings are made on cloth. It is hand painted as well as blocks printing with vegetable dyes applied on cloth.
The art of painting using organic dyes on cloth was popular in several parts of India, but this style of Kalamkari flourished at Kalahasti and at Masulipatnam.
This art is mainly related to decorating temple interiors with painted cloth panels, which was developed in the fifteenth century under the patronage of Vijaynagar rulers.
They are very durable and flexible in size and made according to theme.
Subjects are adopted from the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and Hindu religious mythology.
This cloth painting process involves no chemical product and the excess dyes that flow into the rivers while washing do not pollute it.
Two distinctive styles
There are two distinctive styles of Kalamkari design in India — one, the Srikalahasti style and the other, the Masulipatnam style of art. Both the styles are different in practice.
The Masulipatnam style of Kalamkari is influenced by Persian art. The motifs used are trees, flowers and leaf designs are printed using blocks.
The Srikalahasti style flourished around temples with Hindu patronage thus has an almost religious identity, wherein the kalam or pen is used for freehand drawing of the subject, and filling in the colours is entirely done by hand.
8.8. BUDDHIST INSCRIPTION FOUND
A 12th century inscription was found in Gadag district, Karnataka
It sheds more light on the history of Buddhism in Karnataka.
The period of this inscription could be assigned to the regime of Hoysala king Veeraballala II (1173–1220 CE).
The inscription, whose lower portion has been severed off, makes salutations to Lord Buddha, ‘dhamma’, ‘sangha’ and Tara Bhagavati.
There are possibilities of the inscription speaking about donations to a Buddhist monastery located at Lakkundi.
It was among a handful of inscriptions making specific reference to the Tara Bhagavati cult of the Vajrayana Buddhism which was popular here till 12th century.
Discovery of this inscription establishes the existence and popularity of Buddhism in this part of the State.
The Kodangallur in Kerala is considered to be one of the oldest Bhagavathi shrines. The area appears to be originally was a Buddhist shrine.
Tara Bhagavathi is a Buddhist Goddess.
Tara is Buddhist form of Kali.
The Bhagavathi cult possibly, initiated as a part of the Tantric Vajrayana practice within the Buddhism.
With the downfall of Buddhism in south India and under the dominant matriarchal setting, it was gradually sanctified and absorbed into the mainstream Hindu cult of Shakti and Spirit worship.
8.9. DECODING OF TEXT ON AN ANCIENT COPPER PLATE
Why in news?
Researchers from the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI), which houses South Asia’s largest collection of manuscripts and rare texts, have decoded a copper plate.
Conclusions from the copper plate
The date of Emperor Harshavardhan’s defeat to the Chalukya King Pulakeshin II is fixed at 618 AD.
It was believed that the battle occurred sometime between 612 AD and 634 AD. But now, it can be ascertained definitively to have taken place in the winter of 618-619 AD.
The plate is also useful in fixing the details of the coronation of Pulakeshi II in 610-611 AD,
The plate further records the grant of 50 ‘nivarthanas’ (a unit of land) by Pulakeshin from the village Brahmana-Vataviya (in modern-day Paithan Taluka of Aurangabad) to a Vedic scholar, Nagasharma.
The Battle of Harshvardhan and Pulakeshin II
The battle was fought on the banks of the Narmada.
Pulakeshin, who ruled from the Chalukyan capital of Badami, challenged Harsha’s conquests.
Unwilling to tolerate the existence of a powerful rival in the south, Harsha had marched from Kanauj with a huge force.
Such was Pulakeshin’s efficiency in guarding the passes of the Narmada that Harsha was compelled to accept the river as the demarcation and retire from the battlefield after losing most of his elephant force.
8.10. KOMAGATA MARU INCIDENT
Why in news?
On May 18, standing before the House of Commons, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will offer a full apology for the Komagata Maru incident.
Over a century ago, on May 23, 1914, a cargo steamship named Komagata Maru sailed into Burrard Inlet in British Columbia, Canada, on which Vancouver harbour is located.
The vessel was chartered by a Singapore-based businessman named Gurdit Singh.
On it were 376 passengers from Punjab who had come aboard in batches at the ship’s departure at Hong Kong.
The ship was forced to return to Calcutta, 19 of the passengers were killed by the British and many placed under arrest.
Under a “continuous journey regulation”, immigrants who had not arrived in Canada by a continuous, non-stop journey from their native countries were denied entry.
While the laws never explicitly restricted the entry of Indians, they made it virtually impossible for Indians to emigrate, because there was no direct route from India to far-off Canada then. (The Komagata Maru had arrived from Hong Kong.)
The website is divided into 10 categories
material and visual arts,
practices and rituals,
literature and languages,
It is an open online portal that seeks to celebrate the unseen or less-noticed cultural expressions across India and South Asia.
Its name comes from-saha means together and pedia comes from the Greek word paideia, meaning cultural education.
Modelled on Wikipedia, the free site will encourage contributions from everyone.
However, unlike Wikipedia, where anyone can contribute, here we can have one overview article by an expert of that domain. The information will be moderated, checked and then published with attribution.
Sahapedia has also tied up with various institutions to create specific modules or workshops on subjects, such as Ramleela and Ajrakh printed cloth, among others.
8.12. KOHINOOR DIAMOND
The Supreme Court is hearing a petition on whether the government intends to make a bid to get back the Kohinoor.
Government earlier told the Supreme Court that the Kohinoor diamond was given as a “gift” to East India Company by rulers of Punjab, but later said “it reiterates its resolve to make all possible efforts to bring back the Kohinoor diamond in an amicable manner”.
Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property – 1970
The Convention, which has been ratified by more than 120 countries, provides a framework for cooperation to clarify the procedure for the removal of archaeological and ethnological material from one country to another.
Retrieval of Kohinoor
The Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, adopted by UNESCO in 1970 can be used by India to claim rights on Kohinoor.
However, the draft of the UNESCO Convention does not make it explicit that it can be applied retrospectively.
India's Antiquities and Art Treasures Act, 1972
that has provisions for prevention of smuggling of and fraudulent dealings in antiquities and also provides for the compulsory acquisition of antiquities and art treasures for preservation.
8.13. APATHY TOWARDS ANTIQUITIES
Issues surrounding Antiquities
An integrated database of existing and stolen artefacts, hardly exist.
Providing sufficient information regarding theft cases has been a struggle. For instance, to a question raised in Parliament in 2010 about the number of antiquities stolen, the government provided a list of 13 thefts that occurred between 2007 and 2010.The number of thefts reported also appears too few to be true.
At the national level, the Central Bureau of Investigation handles antiquities theft but it has not built the capacity to deal with stolen antiquities.
A few State governments have special wings as part of their police force, but these are also understaffed and unqualified.
The Antiquities and Art Treasures Act, 1972, mandates compulsory registration of antiquities. However, the process is so cumbersome that not many antiquities are registered.
The state of India’s museums is also poor.
In 2007, the Ministry of Culture launched the National Mission on Monuments and Antiquities to complete documentation of about 70, 00,000 antiquities. Until 2014, it had documented only 8, 00,000 artefacts.
The audit also raised serious concerns about the “discrepancies in the number of antiquities reportedly available in museums” including the National Museum in Delhi.