“Atmano mokshartham jagat hitaya cha” (For one’s own salvation and for the welfare of the world). With this motto in mind, Swami Vivekananda, the famous monastic disciple of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa founded the Ramakrishna Mission and Math. Belur Math is the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Mission and Math. The sprawling campus of Belur Math with beautiful and well-pruned garden is located on the bank of river Ganges. This is a tranquil place close yet but away from the hubbub.
Durga Puja, the five-day long festival is an integral part of Bengali life, culture and tradition. The autumn is the herald of the Durgotsab which is also called Sharodotsab. As per the religious scriptures, the worship of Devi Durga in the form of Basanti Puja is held in the Bengali month of Chaitra. Though less popular but is still celebrated in many Bengali households. The Sharodotsab is associated with or rather initiated by the mythological story of Lord Rama worshipping Goddess Durga in autumn, in quest of victory against Ravana in the war. The untimely worship of the Goddess gave it a name of Akal Bodhan. Gradually this became the much favoured and the primarily celebrated festival for the Bengalis.
The long stretches of undulating meadows, ablaze and dappled in delicate blooms. A dreamland – colourful and astonishing Kaas Plateau. Spread over an area of around 1000 hectare, this highland provides a breathtaking expanse amidst the sprawling lawn, though not green but, mottled. Kaas Pathar, as know locally is a plateau in the Sahyadri range in Satara district of Maharashtra. It gets draped with a variety of wildflowers every year, resembling a canvas with myriad hues.
Ganesh Utsav is the 10-day long Hindu festival starting from Ganesh Chaturthi. It is celebrated with pomp and grandeur throughout the nation. The first place that comes to mind during this festival is Mumbai. But Pune is not far behind, this being the probable birthplace of the festival. The legacy passed on from generations till date. From Kasba Ganapati Mandal to Tambdi Jogeshwari Ganapati to Dagduseth Halwai trust to the Tulsi Baug Ganapati, many such big names are linked to the celebration in Pune.
Water is the elixir of life. The water supplied by the rains – stored in reservoirs and lakes, interconnected by the networking of rivers and canals carrying life in the form of water. The Panshet Dam on the Ambi river, along with Varasgaon, Temghar and Khadakwasla Dams form the lifeline of the residents of Pune. Not only do they supply water to quench the bodily thirst but they also provide a peaceful getaway to heal the soul.
The parched land had dried even further, the sometimes green grass lost all its moisture to turn pale – then brown, the trees had shed their leaves to retain the last drop of sap. The riverbed stands exposed and the lakes vaporised. The birds look for water to quench their thirst, the haggard farmer sits by their home looking at the sun-baked farmland. All skyward facing in hope for the thick grey sheet to cover the blazing sun. This is when the Nimbus arrives. It drains its store to fill all pores. And thus arrives the Monsoon.
Beating Retreat is an old military ceremony practised in England for the retreat of the patrolling forces to the castle. This ceremony was called Watch Setting as it used to coincide with the sunset followed by the single shot fired by the gun. In India, beating retreat signifies the official end of the Republic Day celebration. While the Retreat Parade and flag lowering ceremony of Wagah Border is also well known. This practice is followed by the security forces of both the countries (BSF – India and PR – Pakistan) since 1959. The same is in practice on the other side of the nation too, though is lesser known.