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December Art and Culture

1. Prasad Scheme

About the sites

  • Gangotri and Yamunotri, Uttrarakhand: Gangotri is a Hindu pilgrim town on the banks of the river Bhagirathi and origin of River Ganges while Yamunotri is the source of river Yamuna.

  • Amarkantak, Madhya Pradesh: It is a unique natural heritage area and is the meeting point of the Vindhya and the Satpura Ranges, with the Maikal Hills being the fulcrum. It is a Hindu pilgrim site where the Narmada River, the Son River and Johila River emerge.

  • Parasnath, Jharkhand: It is the highest mountain peak in the state, the Shikharji temple, an important Jain pilgrimage site, is located here.

1.1 Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual, Heritage Augmentation Drive (PRASAD) scheme

  • It aims at of pilgrimage destinations in planned, prioritised and sustainable manner to provide complete religious tourism experience. It focuses on the development and beautification of the identified pilgrimage destinations. Its objectives include: o Harness pilgrimage tourism for its direct and multiplier effect upon employment generation and economic development.

  • Enhance tourist attractiveness while ensuring sustainable development of world class infrastructure at religious destinations.

  • Promotion of local culture, art, handicrafts, cuisine, etc.

About ‘Adopt a Heritage’ project

  • It’s a joint collaborative effort of The Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Culture, Archeological Survey of India (ASI) and State/UTs Governments to develop the heritage sites/ monuments and making them tourist-friendly.

  • Under the project private sector companies, public sector companies and individuals with best vision for the heritage site will be selected through a bidding process (Vision Bidding). Successful bidders will be tagged as Monument.

1.2 Mitra.

  • These ‘Monument Mitras’ are expected to use Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds for providing amenities like toilets, drinking water, accessibility for the disabled, signage, audio guides etc. No funds are given by Ministry of Tourism.

  • As of now government has put up a list of over 93 ASI monuments under this project.

2. Bhasha Sangam Program

2.1 Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat

  • Launched on 31st Oct, 2015 on 140th Anniversary of Sardar Patel, this program intends to enhance interaction between people of different States/UTs.

  • Under this, there is a pairing of States/UTs for one year, during which they will exchange and connect people through culture, tourism, language, education, trade etc.

  • The Department of School Education & Literacy under MHRD has initiated Bhasha Sangam Program – As part of ‘Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat’.

About the Program

  • Its objectives are:

  • To enhance linguistic tolerance and respect, and promote national integration.

  • To introduce school students to all the 22 Indian Languages of Schedule VIII of the Constitution of India.

  • This will be run by the State/UT Department of School Education.

  • This initiative is not mandatory and there would be no formal testing of any kind.

3. Pietermaritzburg Station Incident

  • In May 1893, while Gandhi was on his way to Pretoria, a white man objected to Gandhi's presence in a first-class carriage, and he was ordered to move to the van compartment at the end of the train.

  • Gandhi, who had a first-class ticket, refused, and was thrown off the train at Pietermaritzburg. Gandhi made the momentous decision to stay on in South Africa and fight the racial discrimination against Indians there. Out of that struggle emerged his unique version of nonviolent resistance, Satyagraha.

3.1 Mahatma Gandhi’s experiments in South Africa

  • Indian immigration issue: When Mahatma Gandhi arrived in 1893, the issue was rampant. Indians, who had initially arrived in the Natal region as indentured labour stayed back for economic reasons. But, their increased population was resented by the white colonists.

  • Mahatma Gandhi setup the Natal Indian Congress, which became a driving force behind the satyagraha campaigns between 1906 and 1913. Despite the efforts, a law was passed in 1896 disqualifying voters who were not of European origin.

  • Second Anglo-Boer (South African War), 1899: He advised the Indian community to support the British cause, on the ground that since they claimed their rights as British subjects, it was their duty to defend the Empire when it was threatened.

  • Transvaal British Indian Association (BIA), 1903: The organization formed by Mahatma Gandhi aimed to prevent proposed evictions of Indians in the Transvaal under British leadership.

  • Asiatic Registration Law (the Black Act): It required all Indians - young and old, men and women - to get fingerprinted and to keep registration documents on them at all times. Gandhiji officially used Satyagraha for the first time in 1907 when he organised opposition to the act.

  • Tolstoy farm: He built it in 1910 to support the families of jailed passive resisters.

  • March into Transvaal: It was illegal for Indians to cross the border between Transvaal and Natal without a permit. Gandhiji led a march from Natal Colony into Transvaal to purposefully defy the Immigrants Regulation Act of 1913 and was arrested.

  • There were about fifty thousand indentured labourers on strike and several thousand other Indians in jail. Reports in India relating the arrest of Gandhi and police brutality caused uproar. Gandhi was released in 1914. The British government was forced to concede to the main Indian demands.

4. Sikh Takhts

About Sikh Takhts

  • Panj Takht: Panj Takht are 5 important Gurudwaras of Sikhism which have a significant respect and take Religious, Social and Political decisions as required by Sikh community. Takht is a Persian word that means imperial throne.

  • Location: o Akal Takht(Amritsar), set up in 1606 by Guru Hargobind, is the Supreme of Panj takht.

  • Four Other Takhts: Takht Keshgarh Sahib (Anandpur Sahib); Takht Damdama Sahib (Talwandi Sabo, Bhatinda); Takht Patna Sahib (Bihar) and Takht Hazur Sahib (Nanded, Maharashtra).

  • These 4 are linked to , the tenth Guru. It was at Keshgarh Sahib that Guru Gobind Singh raised Khalsa, the initiated Sikh warriors, in 1699

  • Control: The three takhts in Punjab are directly controlled by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) which appoints the jathedars (who leads Takht) for these while the two takhts outside Punjab have their own trusts and boards.

5. Sri Satguru Ram Singhji

About Sri Satguru Ram Singhji

  • He was born in 1816 in Ludhiana and was a great spiritual guru, a thinker, a seer, philosopher, social reformer, and a freedom fighter.

  • He fought against the caste system among Sikhs and encouraged inter-caste marriages.

  • He preached against killing the girl child in infancy, stood firmly against the Sati Pratha and advocated widow remarriage.

  • The movement was founded in 1840 by Bhagat Jawaharmal in Western Punjab.

  • Its basic tenets were abolition of caste and similar discriminations among Sikhs, discouraging the eating of meat and taking of alcohol and drugs, and encouraging women to step out of seclusion.

  • After the British took the Punjab, the movement transformed from a religious purification campaign to a political one.

  • During the Mutiny of 1857, Satguru Ram Singhji formally inaugurated the Namdhari movement, with a set of rituals modelled after Guru Gobind Singh’s founding of the Khalsa.

  • He strongly opposed to the British rule and started an intense non-cooperation movement against them. Led by him, the people boycotted English education, mill made cloths and other imported goods. The Kuka followers actively propagated the civil disobedience.

  • All followers of satguru are distinguished by the white dress, straight and pressed turban and a woolen rosary. They were required to wear the five symbols of Sikhism, with only exception of the Kirpan (sword). However, they were required to keep a Lathi (a bamboo stave) with them.

6. Hornbill Festival

About the festival

  • The Hornbill Festival is one of the largest celebrations of the indigenous warrior tribes of Nagaland. The aim of the festival is to revive and protect the rich culture of Nagaland and display its extravaganza and traditions.

  • The festival is named after Hornbill, one of the most venerated bird species in the state whose importance is reflected in a number of tribal cultural expressions, songs and dances.

  • It starts on 1st December which happens to be Nagaland Formation Day and lasts 10 days.

7. India’s First Music Museum

  • India’s first music museum will be set up in Thiruvaiyaru, Tamil Nadu, which is the birth place of Saint Tyagaraja.

  • The Tyagaraja Aaradhana Music Festival is also held in Thiruvaiyaru which attracts musical talents from all over the world.

7.1 Saint Tyagaraja

  • Saint Tyagaraja is one of the Trinity of Carnatic music (other two are Muthuswami Dikshitar and Syama Sastri) and his compositions are outpourings of love, prayer and appeal. He was the most illustrious composer among the trinity and bhakti was the keynote of his compositions.

  • He firmly believed that nadopasana (the practice of music as an aid to cultivate devotion and contemplation) can lead one to salvation only if it was combined with bhakti.

  • He mastered selfless devotion without any desire and it was Nishkama Bhakthi. He was an ardent devotee of Lord Rama and majority of his krtis are in praise of Rama.

  • He set his face against 'narastuti', praise of men for profit or benefit - a philosophy and principle underlying Hindu thought not to debase learning and knowledge. This principle was responsible for the old system of 'gurukulavasa' - of disciples learning at the feet of the master and the master imparting knowledge but not for money.

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