Art & Culture Current Affairs - 2019

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Mela Kheer Bhawani celebrated in J&K

With commencement of annual festival of Kheer Bhawani Mela on Zeasht Ashtami, hundreds of Kashmiri Pandit devotees prayed at famous Ragnya Devi temple in Jammu and Kashmir’s (J&K) Ganderbal district.

An elaborate security arrangement was made by J&K administration so that mela passed off peacefully for devotees who thronged temple from across the country.

Key Highlights

  • Every year on Zyeshta Ashtami (this year fell on 10 June), thousands of Kashmiri Pandits visit temple, located about 14 km east of Srinagar, to pay their obeisance. Zyestha Ashtami is celebrated by Kashmiri Pandits across the country and outside as the day marks commencing of annual pilgrimage.
  • Temples Visited: Over 60,000 displaced Kashmiri Pandits from various parts of India as well as abroad visited five famous temples of Tulmulla (in Ganderbal district), Tikker (in Kupwara), Laktipora Aishmuqam (in Anantnag) and Mata Tripursundri Devsar and Mata Kheerbhawani Manzgam (in Kulgam district) in Kashmir valley during Mela Kheerbhawani.

About Mela Kheer Bhawani

  • It is one of the biggest religious functions of displaced community of Kashmiri Pandits, who were forcefully evicted from Valley in 1990s by militants.
  • The devotees carry rose petals, walk barefoot, offer tribute to goddess and offer milk and kheer (pudding) at sacred spring.
  • Belief: The colour of water in spring, which flows below temple, is believed to be an indication of the valley’s well-being i.e. the colour foretells the events that will unfold in next 12 months till next festival. Black or darkish colour of water in spring is believed to be a sign of inauspicious times for Kashmir valley. This time, the water in spring was of clean and milky white colour.
  • Significance: The pilgrimage has become a symbol of communal harmony and brotherhood as Muslims in locality make all kinds of arrangements for the Kashmiri Pandits devotees, such as setting up of stalls for flowers and other offerings, offering milk in small earthen pots to devotees coming to pray.

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ASI declares Chaukhandi Stupa as Monument of National Importance

According to a notification issued by Union Ministry of Culture, Chaukhandi Stupa, an ancient Buddhist site located in Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh (UP) has been declared as ‘protected area of national importance’ by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

For declaring the stupa as protected area government sought public feedback on 8 March 2019 for a period of two months.

About Chaukhandi  Stupa

  • Name: The Stupa is known as ‘Chaukhandi’ becaause of its four armed plan.
  • The stupa is an ancient Buddhist site which evolved from burial mounds and served as a shrine for a relic of Buddha. It appears to be in ruins and was originally constructed in 5th Century AD.
  • It also finds mention in account of Hiuen Tsang, celebrated Chinese traveler of 7th century AD.
  • Architecture:
  • It is widely belived that Stupa was originally built as a terraced temple during Gupta period (4th-6th centuries AD) to mark the site where Lord Buddha traveling from Bodh Gaya to Sarnath was reunited with panchavargiya bhikshus (Budhha’s five companions) who had previously deserted him at Rajgir.
  • After Gupta’s the stupa’s architecture was altered by Govardhan, son of Raja Todarmal, who modified stupa to its present shape by building an octagonal tower in commemoration of Humayun (Mughal ruler) visit.
  • Current Structure: Stupa is a high earthen mound covered with brickwork, to which stands atop a terraced rectangular plinth and it is capped by an octagonal Mughal tower. It is maintained, conserved and preserved by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
  • Art: Some images of Buddha, such as the image of buddha in dharmachakra pravartana mudra and other statues found during excavations at this Stupa are believed to be rare artefacts and classic examples of art from Gupta period.

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