8.1. SIDI RITUALS
Why in news?
- A controversy broke out after a section of Dalit families that has been taking part in the risky ritual of Sidi during the annual fair at Hariharapur in Holenarsipur taluk has refused to do so this year.
About Sidi ritual
- Once every two years, Sidi is part of the annual Udusalamma temple festival held every March in honour of the devi, an incarnation of Durga in Hassan district, Karnataka.
- The ritual involves men being tied to a wooden pole with hooks inserted in their bodies and women walking with their mouths locked with iron hooks
- Those playing Sidi have to be on fast for at least five days before the festival as it believed to help in piercing the iron hook into their skin.
- The origins of Sidi are lost in time but the legend is that it is a voluntary punishment that the Dalits have taken upon themselves down the ages.
- The Dalits believe that their forefathers stole paddy from a rich farmer’s house and were saved from his wrath by deity Udusalamma. They believe the deity saved them after they promised to take part in the ritual
8.2. ASSAM’S ANCIENT INK (MAHI)
Demystifying the science behind Assam’s ancient herbal ink Mahi, researchers are planning to recreate the lost techniques of manuscript writing, which is linked to the marketing of heritage tourism and the development of eco-friendly technologies in the digital age.
- It is made up by natural substances, the technique involves extracting ‘mahi’ using cow urine from a cocktail of fruit pulp and tree bark such as haritaki, amla, bibhitakhi or bhomora, mango and jamun infused with the blood of eels or catfish. Rust from iron tools or nails were also added for an intense black hue colour.
- ‘Mahi’ was used in early and medieval Assam for writing on ‘sancipat’ (folios made of the bark of the sanci tree) manuscripts. Few of them was gifted by Kumar Bhaskar Barman, the then King of Pragjyotishpura (ancient Assam) to Harshavardhana, an emperor who ruled north India from 606 to 647 C.E., a testimony to the period of use.
- There is no loss of text due to its antifungal character and endurance because of its herbal ingredients in contrast to acidic iron gall ink which was used during same time in Europe.
8.3. SANKARAM ON UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE
Why in news?
The Buddhist Heritage sites at Salihundam (Srikakulam district) and Sankaram near Anakapalle in Visakhapatnam district, in addition to Lepakshi (Anantapur district) and the Nagarjunakonda International Museum (Guntur district) are likely to find a place in the list of Unesco World Heritage Sites.
Salihundam in Srikakulam district-
- Situated at south bank of River vamsadhara, stupas and shrines were built between 2nd to 12th century reflecting Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana phases.
- Stone images of 'Marichi' (the Goddess of dawn) and 'Tara' (a Yogini of Buddhist era) were excavated along with a few gold coins of later Satavahana period.
Lepakshi Temple in Anantapur district
- It is the location of shrines dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu and Veerabhadra which were built during the Vijayanagara Kings' period (1336–1646)
- The temples are the finest example of mural paintings on the walls of Shiva temple and Vijayanagar architechtural style of the temple building
- Large granite Nandi bull and a hanging pillar(it does not touch the ground) among all 70 pillars of Veerbhadra temple built by the brothers, Virupanna and Veeranna in 1583 who were initially in the service of the Vijayangar kings, is special feature.
Nagarjunakonda International Museum
- Situated on an island in Nagarjunasagar dam, named after great Buddhist scholar Acharya Nagarjuna. Nagarjunakonda “the place” was a great religious center promoting Brahmanical and Buddhist faiths,
- It was an extensive Buddhist establishment nourishing several sects of Buddhism that culminated into the full-fledged Mahayana pantheon.
- The museum established to collect, preserve and exhibit the antiquities retrieved from the excavations and is housed in a spacious structure similar to a Buddhist Vihara.
8.4. UNESCO ASIA-PACIFIC HERITAGE AWARDS 2016
Why in news?
It was announced by chair of jury and chief of UNESCO’s Bangkok culture unit, Duong Bich Hanh, in Bangkok.
Total six countries- Australia, China, India, Iran, Japan and Pakistan have been recognized in this year’s Heritage Awards.
- Among Heritage awards there were 4 in conservation category - Award of Excellence, Award of Merit, Honourable Mention, Award of Distinction, and 1 in New Design heritage context.
- Award of Distinction- The St Olav’s Church, West Bengal, 210-year-old church lies in the former Danish colony of West Bengal's Serampore.
- Award of Merit: For repairs and restoration to the Cama Building, Mumbai Central and restoration of Fortification of Walls & Bastions of Mahidpur Fort, Madhya Pradesh
- Honourable Mention: Restoration of the Main Building Doon School, Dehradun
- Award of Excellence won by Japan for restoration of Sanro-Den Hall at Sukunahikona Shrine in Ozu City And New Design in Heritage Contexts by Australia for The Brewery Yard, Central Park, Chippendale.
8.5. WOMEN’S INDIAN ASSOCIATION
Why in News?
President Pranab Mukherjee recently inaugurated the centenary celebrations of Women’s Indian Association at Adyar, Chennai.
About Women Indian Association
It was the first organization to create an overall awakening among women. Its functions were-
o To train women to be responsible to give public services.
o To bind women together for mutual service and the good of the country.
o To influence government policy on women’s suffrage and issues of educational and social reforms. E.g. It sent representation in Montagu reforms (1917) for women suffrage.
o To promote compulsory primary education for girls and Hindu women’s inheritance laws.
Its role is recognized for enactment and implementation of –
o Child Marriage Restraint Act/Sarda Act- To raise the minimum age for marriage of women
o For abolishing the Devadasi system especially in Tamil Nadu.
Its official monthly publication was Stri-Dharma published in English. It had news related to women and articles on women’s condition.
About Annie Besant
- She was a member and later the head of Theosophical Society which later shifted its headquarters to Adyar, Chennai.
- Her propaganda in England for a self-government to Indians made way for formation of Home Rule League in London. Home rule was chosen instead of Swaraj because English people did understand that more. It had divisions in:
- India- To educate Indians about implications of Home rule Movement
- England- To educate British public about political conditions of India.
- As a crusader of education, she established Central Hindu College at Banares in 1897. She also opened schools and colleges for girls like Central Hindu Girls School at Banares, Madanapalli High school and College and Adayar National College.
- In 1911 she organized the “order of the Rising Star” for the protection of the good and destruction of evils.
- In 1912 Mrs. Besant organized a band of public workers called “The Brothers of Service” under Indian National congress to promote workers’ union in the spiritual, educational and political fields.
- Through Home rule she wanted to help Indians to get self- knowledge, self-respect and self-government. According to home rule Indians would be free to determine their domestic issues.
- Her weekly newspapers were Commonweal (focusing on people’s problems) and New India.
- In 1917, she started Indian Boys Scout Association for her movement.
- In 1917 only she became the first woman president of the Indian National Congress and also introduced the tri-colour flag for the Congress party.
8.6. RUSSIAN REVOLUTION
Why in News?
- This year marks the centenary celebrations of the Russian Revolution that happened in 1917.
- The causes of Russian Revolution in the first place were -
- Despotic and tyrant leadership of Czar Nicholas II (Romanov dynasty).
- Rampant government corruption
- The backward economy of Russia because of inefficient state controlled enterprises and isolation to private participation, thus hurting the economic competitiveness.
- The agriculture was also inefficient causing food scarcity.
- Repeated dissolution of the Duma (the Russian parliament established after the 1905 revolution) when it opposed Czar Nicholas’ will.
- Immediate cause- Russia’s involvement in World War I (1914-18) where it’s military had no match to industrialized Germany and it drained state wealth.
- Because of this moderates joined Russian radical elements to overthrow of the czar and this led to February Revolution–the first phase of the Russian Revolution. They established a provisional government.
- After the provisional government decided to continue Russian participation in the WWI, they faced opposition from the Soviet – a conservative group of workers and military personnel from Petrograd.
- Provisional government failed to abide by their promises to give ‘Peace, Bread and Land’.
- This led to a leftist revolution under Vladimir Lenin in October replacing the government by a coup. This was called October Revolution of 1917.
o End to Private property and change of ownership to state.
o Control of workers over the Industries.
o The Decree of Land led to immediate abolition of landed estates (including crown and church lands) and transfer to the peasantry for hereditary use.
o It destroyed the roots of social inequality and led to the foundations of a classless society on the basis of equality and justice.
o Worker rights like an eight-hour working day and insurance against unemployment were established.
o Women freedom expanded with right to property, equality in Constitution etc.
o Religion was separated from politics and it became a private affair.
o It established the dictatorship of the proletariat.
o It marked the rise of socialism and a decline of imperialism.
The February revolution led to end of autocracy and establishment of a provisional government by Bolsheviks.
Soviet economic planning emerged with a socialistic bent – development of proletariat, common good of the society and securing the rights of the individuals.
Indian freedom struggle especially by the revolutionaries was heavily influenced by the Russian revolution of 1917.
After the revolution, Russian economy was built upon Five year plans. This was an influence to the Indian planning structure too.
Lenin became the leader of the first Marxist type state in the world. He made peace with Germany, nationalized industry and distributed land among farmers.
Communist government became the root cause of the Cold War – an ideological fight between two power blocs - Capitalism of the west and Communism of Russia.