South Asian Women’s Day 2010 Celebrations @ Kirulapone

by Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai

International campaign on Violence Against Women (VAW) is carried out from 25th November to 10th December every year.

Women from different South Asian countries decided in 2002 to celebrate 30th November as South Asian Women’s Day.

16 day campaign on Violence Against Women is underway along with South Asian Women’s Day.

We stand together!

Many men just stop by to see what is happening here in Kirulapone junction by women.

Women are HUMANBEINGS!

STOP sexual harassment

Women have rights.Hotlines for help for women.

Let’s stand up against sexual harassment.

Glad to paste stickers of Violence Against Women (VAW) in buses-138,Kottawa-Pettah,Maharagama-Pettah

Pasting stickers on the bus-138 route bus in Kirulapone.

Indrani Kusumalatha&her troupe(Community Encouragement Foundation) sing&perform in Kirulapone now.

Banner in Kirulapone for the campaign on Violence Against Women (VAW).

Respect WOMEN

Respect Humanity.

Work towards sustainable peace and prosperity in the region. WOMEN can make a difference☺

Think seriously about the issue&make your commitment honestly. Treat WOMEN with dignity and equality.

Some school boys giggle and think this is useless. Guys, you need to think for yourself,your mother,your sister&of course your girl friend.

Violence Against Women (VAW) is not a laughing matter! Think aloud, and be wise!

“What a good move by women” says an old gentleman in his White sarong into my right ears☺.We need more men like this gentlemen.

South Asian Women’s Day 2010. I’m extremely happy & humbled to be the first to update an event via my BlackBerry,Twitter, Yfrog while rain & shine.

South Asian Women’s Day is being celebrated today all over South Asia. Let us share and show SOLIDARITY!

Showing the spirit of SOLIDARITY!

Candles are lit at a house in Bambalapitty,Colombo to celebrate ☺ South Asian Women’s Day-2010 ☺

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“Kaarthigai Theepam”~ Triumph of Light over Dark

by Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai

Lord Siva is compared to mountain

“Kaarthigai” is a month of purity and devotion. Hindu devotees in Sri Lanka celebrated the festival of “Kaarthigai Theepam” in the temples and houses on 21t of November 2010 amidst a heavy downpour. It falls on IL Poya day, which coincides with Karthigai star.

“Sorkka Paavanai” (Bonfire) which later derived as “Sokka Paanai” is also held at Hindu temples. “Sorkka Paavanai” is held at Sri Maanikka Vinayagar temple in Bambalapitty. Dried coconut leaves are tied together right in front of the temple, and set fire at night to celebrate “Kaarthigai Theepam”

There is a story linked between “Kaarthigai” and lamps according to religious references. Brahma- The Creator, and Vishnu- The Preserver had a dispute between them as to who was greater, and who was the supreme. The Lord Shiva wanted to teach them the truth. He appeared before them in a form of huge column of fire.

Both of them referred their quarrel to Lord Shiva. He told them that he who could discover the crown of the light or its foot first might be considered as the superior. Accordingly Brahma took the form of a swan and flew up in an attempt to find the crown of the Light, while Vishnu took the form of a boar (Varaha) and began to dig down to find the foot of the Light. Neither of them succeeded. The knowledge dawned upon them that the Light was superior to both of them.

The Kaarthigai Theepam is celebrated to bring out this great truth that the supreme God is far beyond the Creator and the Preserver. Brahma and Vishnu thereupon prayed to the column of Light.

In the ‘Kalavazhi Narpadu’, which dates back to the third Sangam period (after 1,000 BC) the poet says, “In the battle the blood oozing out from the dead soldiers’ bodies is like the red coloured flame of the lamps lit during Karthigai Theepam festival”.

Tolkappiyam, the oldest available work dating back to 2,000 or 2,500 B C, has concise verse form rules for Tamil grammar. In one of the formulae, Tolkapiyar uses the phrase “like the lamp’s flame pointing upwards”.

Earthen lamps are significant to Hindu rituals and festivals. Light is indispensable for Kaarthigai Theepam. On this special day light is spread everywhere.

Earthen lamps are for sale in Bambalapitty

Busy buying earthen lamps in Bambalapitty

Traditionally dressed devotees on their way to temples

The oil used to light the lamp, symbolises the innate tendencies in one, which is responsible for the ego to thrive. The wick is the ego. The flame of the lamp symbolises, spiritual knowledge, which empties the oil, as it also burns the wick, the ego (body, mind complex). With the draining of the innate tendencies and the burning of the wick

Sinnathangan Sathyaseelan, a busy garland maker in Bambalapitty

It is one of the oldest festivals of Hindus

Let us be liberated from sorrow and suffering

Lord Siva is the Light of Consciousness

Women devotees take part in special pooja

Sockalingampillai Ramalingam lights earthen lamps

Be liberated from egoism, selfishness and delusion

New Silver Kalasam is being taken on a parade

Rajaratnam lights an earthen lamp at twilight

Nicely decorated Goddess Parvathi,Lord Vinayagar and Lord Murugan with his consorts Goddess Valliyammai and Goddess Theivayaanai in the Vasantha Mandapam

Nallakuttiyapillai Sappaanipillai lights earthen lamps at the temple

Thiruvilakku Pooja by women on fullmoon day

The ritual is said to be of immense importance for the whole world

The lamps glow allover

Ego leads to limitations

Beautifully decorated Goddess for the festival

Fire symbolises light, consciousness and intelligence

A very special astrological significance of today’s Kaarthigai Theepam is that the placement of Jupiter in the 11th house will not be witnessed for another 11 years

The ritual represents and affirms a spiritual re-dedication and renewal of faith

The Chief Priest Sitsabesa Kurukkal (also known as Mani Iyer) of Sri Maanikka Vinayagar carries out the rituals

Gorgeously decorated Lord Murugan. Kaarthigai is Lord Murugan’s birth star.He represents unlimited divine wisdom

The sky height flame symbolise the essence of universal oneness

View of the Kopuram of Sammaankodu Sri Maanikka Vinayagar temple at night

Parade of decorated Goddess Parvathi, Lord Vinayagar and Lord Murugan with his consorts Goddess Valliyammai and Goddess Theivayaanai

Kaarthigai synchronises with the fullmoon day

Karthigai festival in Tiruvannamalai hills is very famous in India

Camphor is lit at the main entrance

It is also known as Festival of Lights or Festival of Lamps

“Oolai Suvadi”- a banner about the significance of the religious book

The festival is dedicated to Lord Siva

It is believed to ward off evil forces and usher in prosperity and joy

Decorated deities wait at the main entrance to witness the event

Salt is thrown from every corner to control the fire

Notice to the devotees to keep the footwear in a particular place

“Sorkka Paavanai” or bonfire grows upto sky level in Bambalapitty

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Dazzling Lord Aarumugaswamy @ Sooran por 2010

By Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai

Strictest Fast

“Kantha Shashti” is observed in the Tamil month of “Aippasi”, which falls either in October or November on the new moon. Hindus all around the world fast for six days for Lord Murugan. This year Kantha Shasti was observed from 6th of November to 12th of November.

Devotees of Lord Murugan have a fast for six days during these days. It’s unlike any other fast; devotees stick to the strictest fast which is called “Upavaasam” (total fast). The seventh day is known as “Paaranai”, which falls tomorrow (12 of November 2010).

Sooran Por was held today (11th of November 2010) at Naattukkottai Nagaraththaar Sri Kathirvelaayuthaswamy temple (New Kathiresan temple) in Bambalapitty.

Devotees in large numbers gathered to celebrate the victory of evil spirit

Weapon in War

Brass Vel (Lance) is decorated for the festival

Dressed Up

Dazzling Lord Aarumugaswamy for the festival at dusk

Tour de Bamba

Soorapathman is taken on a parade in Bambalapitty

Various Tricks

Soorapathman is using various tricks to win the war against Lord Aarumugaswamy

First Defeat

As Soorpathman is being defeated by Lord aarumugaswmay

Be in a Circle

Soorapathman is drawing a circle on the ground during the fight with Lord Aarumugaswamy and orders him to be in the circle

Never Give Up

Despite many defeats Soorapathman keeps fighting with Lord Aarumugaswamy while using many tactics

End of the Battle

Head of Soorapathman is being handed over to Aarumugaswamy at the end of the fierce battle

As Witnesses

Devotees gather in large numbers at Naattukkottai Nagaraththaar Sri Kathirvelaayuthaswamy temple (New Kathiresan temple) in Bambalapitty to witness the war amidst an unpredictable weather

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Trendy Tangail Through A Lens

by Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai

“The soul of a journey is liberty, perfect liberty to think, feel, do just as one pleases” ~ William Hazlitt ,( 10 April 1778-18 September 1830), Essayist, Literary Critic, Painter and Philosopher

Magnificent Sunrise in the morning

Tangail is a district in central region of Bangladesh. The population of Tangail district is about 3.2 million and its surface area is 3,414.39 km.

Tangail is an important handloom and cotton weaving centre, also serves as a trading centre for the rice, jute, and oil seeds which are grown in the surrounding agricultural area. Sugarcane, wheat and pulses are also important crops in Tangail.

Before partition of Bengal in the year 1942, 12- 14 families of weaving community from “Nowakhali” and Tangail district came along-with their looms and concentrated at Hatsimla, Dhatigtram, and Nasratpur area according to earlier research.

They were specialised in weaving of Tangail designed sarees with finer counts of yarn mainly imported varieties. At that time the weavers used to get their yarn from Dhakkai Patti at Kolkata and also sell their finished products to that “patti” only.

Each of the weaving manifested areas Kalna and Katwa sub division has its own history as to how weaving activities or industry developed there.

Nine women from Pakistan and Sri Lanka who were the participants of SANGAT XVth South Asian Feminist Capacity Building Course on Gender, Sustainable Livelihoods, Human Rights and Peace visited Tangail in October 2010.

The distance from Dhaka to Tangail is 80 Kilometers and the journey takes three hours.

We arrived at past midnight in Tangail. We were warmly and traditionally welcomed by the villagers with fresh flowers and songs at night. The traditional welcome is called “Barankore Neua”. The participants had a first- hand information about the activities in the community by the farmers and weavers with the help of UBINIG, which is a policy and action based organisation in Bangladesh.

We visited seed houses maintained by the farmers in Fazilhati and handlooms in Nolua. We met men and women farmers and weavers and had a cordial interaction and exchanged experience.

Traditionally cooked village food with home grown green leaves, herbs and vegetables was served with Red Rice during our stay, and we experienced and enjoyed the village life. We started the days with “Goshto Gaan” (singing at dawn) and morning tea with “Muri” (Puffed Rice) and “Khoi” (Fried Paddy), and ended the days with “Dainya Gaan” (singing at dusk) along with the villagers.

The sound of “Thak” (the sound of the looms) in the neighbourhood was my daily wake up call at 5am. The sound was enchanting and it keeps ringing in my ears.

We sang and danced together with the extremely hospitable and gorgeous villagers at foggy dawn and mist dusk at UBINIG Centre in Deldur in Tangail. We also enjoyed the “Ban” journey at dusk through alleys and paddy fields in Tangail.

Tangails is famous for trendy handwoven Sarees. Many hand woven Sarees, Shalwar Kameez and shirts captured our eyes and filled our luggage. The experience is awesome and unforgettable and will be treasured by us forever.

An early morning scene as I walk

Scenes as a beautiful day dawns

Wonderfully designed warm welcome with wild flowers

Candle is lit in the courtyard in the morning

Eco friendly entrance of UBINIG centre

“Goshto Gaan” (singing at dawn)

Villagers gather to welcome another day while the Sun rises.They sing songs while seated on the ground cross legged-left leg facing the East which means respecting the women

Candle light and fragrance of incense welcome the day with singing

A helping hand in the morning

“I want my daughter to be a weaver as well” says Fathima Rina (30)

Village cooking in the morning

“I learnt to weave from others” says Fathima Anuara (25)

Preparations for bulk cooking

Simple practices retain and enhance soil fertility and productivity

Women are the force behind the handloom industry of Bangladesh

Various Hindu idols are kept and worshipped

“Weaving is an art. I like to experiment it” says Fathima Shefali (25)

Farming households are willing to take the responsibility to conserve, replant and regenerate

“I compose famous designs brought by men weavers who go to the town” says Sajunu Begum (30)

Jute is kept for natural drying

An idol of a Goddess in a Hindu shrine

Kids wait for their mothers to finish work

Natural fabric dyeing process

“I started to weave when I was 18 year-old.Weaving needs a lot of patience” says Fathima Shreen (32)

Growing food by farmers is integral to keeping seeds for generations

More than 3,000 varieties of seeds and vegetable pulses are preserved here

“Please take our photo also” a polite request from these kids

Farmers do not use pesticide, herbicide,chemicals or poison

An idol of a Hindu Saint

“I help my wife who is a farmer” says Mohamed Hayad Ali (50)

Fresh Sweet Pumpkin shells are used to preserve seeds

Fathima Mubena (4) attended the meeting from the beginning till the end

Mother and child attending a farmer’s meeting

Rickshaw pullers on the main road

An attentive listener at the meeting

Strengthening farmer’s seed system is essential for innovation and knowledge generation

A view of a Hindu shrine

Semi-domesticated birds are integral part of the farming household

“My great grand parents, grand parents and parents have been farmers. I am happy to follow their footsteps” says Abdul Mannan Mia (65)

Myna on the carpet of Paddy

“I am new to the job and learning while working” says Mohamed Hahmuth (20)

Laundry shop and snack bar along the main street

During a meeting with the farmers

Thulasi Maadam in a Hindu vicinity

Jaganara Begum (44) who is in charge for one of the community seed wealth centres

Freshly plucked Grape Fruit for the guests

The villagers believe blessed metal pendants safeguard the kid from ill eveils

“I have been selling handloom Sarees for 35 years” says Gopal

Captured while walking on the busy street

“I will continue to be a handloom weaver” says Mohamed Alim (30)

Poultry farming is being developed here

Spot to quench thirst

This market is always busy

Bustling fish market

Hot and spicy savoury shop in the market

“I like to make trendy designs” says Mannan Mia (28)

A common village scene

School kids on their way to school

“I want to teach weaving to others” says Sithiq Mia (50)

Sugarcane carrier on his way to the market in the morning

Woman takes a dip in the stream

Vermilion figure to safeguard business

A view of an Eco friendly house

The production of local variety of crops provides fodder for livestock

Meeting of weavers

Freshly caught fish for sale

“I have been a handloom weaver since I was 16 year-old. I love to make beautiful sarees” says Haniffa Begum (40)

Commuters travel on the roof of a bus

Children play with mud at dusk

Mohamed Usuf carries firewood for sale

Community seed wealth centre

Municipality was established in 1887

Heap of Rice straw as fodder for livestock

Traditional fishing in the village

On a livestock site

Fathima Rabia fries “Mori”

Crispy and crunchy “Mori”

“I enjoy making traditional food” says Fathima Suraya

Fathima Suraya and Fathima Shreen grind grains to make traditional food

“Khoi” is being made

Traditional welcome at dark

Beautifully arranged Paddy,Flowers,Grass,Ginger and Lamp are used to welcome the guests

“Barankore Neua”-the traditional welcome is extended by the villagers of Tangail

Wholehearted warm welcome by the villager

“I’m writing a love letter to you.You’re mine and I’m longing for your love and warmth” sings Kesali. His song led to fill the eyes of many at dark

An array of oil lamps for the grand welcome

“Do not ask me to leave; I cannot let you go; You are my love; You are my life; Let me live with you” Kesali continues to sing beautifully and emotionally

Devotion brings prosperity

Community singing brings togetherness

This candle is kept lit throughout the day and night

An engrossed listener of Lalon songs

Fakir Lalon Shah composed numerous songs and poems which describe his philosophy

Fakir Lalon Shah’s poetry is turned into beautiful songs

“Dainya Gaan” (singing at dusk) is held under one candle light

Kesali and Nolukumar De dance at night

Villagers participate in the event at night

Domesticated Ducks going for a deep dip

Fresh Grapefruit in a home garden

Mohamed Saleem in his tea boutique

Hatching time at noon

Cow dung sticks are used as manure and firewood

Queen of the Night or Night Jasmine (It is called Pavala Malligai in Tamil) in a Hindu residential courtyard.The buds open in the night and the blossomed flowers fall early in the morning. These flowers have a pleasing perfume

“Khoi” (Fried Paddy)

Ash Pumpkin hangs at head level in a home garden

Checking the wellbeing on mobile in the morning

View of a cow shed

“Muri” (Puffed Rice)

Shying away along the way

Mobile vendor balances heavy weight of with kitchen utensils

Paddy field in Tangail

Common scene in a village

Farmers say that Jute can be harvested much more quickly than trees

Dyed materials are kept for drying

“Sekku”- traditional wooden oil extractor

Farming activity at dusk

Kids at play

Scene of a a simple village life

Gym in Tangail

Sunset in Tangail.Clicked this image while travelling on “Ban”. It is a wide wood fixed with two wheels and a man cycles through rough alleys,roads and streets

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Romantic Rajendrapur brings back Gorgeous Memories of Vadaliyadaippu

by Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai

“It is the marriage of the soul with nature that makes the intellect fruitful, and gives birth to imagination”~ Henry David Thoreau, (July 12 1817 – May 6 1862), American Authour, Poet, Abolitionist, Naturalist, Tax Resister, Development Critic, Surveyor, Historian, Philosopher and leading Transcendentalist

The capital city of Bangladesh is Dhaka. Rajendrapur is a small village in Gazipur district of Dhaka Division. The distance between Dhaka and Rajendrapur is 50 kilometers (31 miles).

Farming and fishing are the main livelihoods of the people in Rajendrapur.

It is a perfect place for bird watching and to love nature. Coldness at dawn and night gives the feeling of being on top of a mountain. Birds such as Cardinal, Crane, King Fisher, Myna, Parrot, Robin Bird and Sparrow live here. A large number of Myna flock to the bushes at dusk and tweet endlessly till night calls.

The atmosphere gives wider space to be a child, relax, meditate, paint, read, run, sing, dance, photograph, walk, write and play outdoor games. I spent one month in lovely Rajendrapur during rain and shine, which gives a feeling of been there for a longer period.

The stay brings me back a wholesome of gorgeous childhood memories of my paternal home in Vadaliyadaippu, in Jaffna District, North of Sri Lanka:

Similar surroundings with big trees

Shoe flowers
dance for wind
dew drops sit on – the
edge of the leaves
shallow streams of water – where
fish dance in and out
joyfully with no fear

Green paddy fields – where
men – with only a
piece of cloth
wrapped around their
waist – with
handloom turban

Women in Sarees and
barefoot ploughing – the
agri-fields
together in
boiling Sun – with
drops of sweat stay on their
forehead of
both

Birds peck – the
softened soil – for
something to nibble
barking of dogs in the
morning and night
tweeting of various birds
throughout the day and night

Even through – the
thick wooden doors – of the
training venue makes
learning enchanting

Frequent visits by ants
red and black stripe leech
snail and maggot
beautiful butterflies – keep
flying around
wandering
wasp making nest

Aroma of variety cooking
tolling of prayer bell – as
daily wake up call
crack of dawn
with cool breeze
sweeping sound – of
handmade broomsticks
cows in numbers
flock the streets

Men sit on wooden bench – sip
tea and read newspaper – or
talk along the roadside
children play
along the alleys
beautifully built mud houses
simple but happy living with
smiley faces

Quietness with fog at dawn and
loudness with mist at dusk
wishes of daily
“Good Morning” and “Good Night” – by
many

Continuous shooting
noise from a
nearby cantonment – the
silence takes me back – to the
old and famous term
“Golden” and charming people – while
nature adds – extra
flavour to life.

The people here lead a very simple life, but with extreme hospitality and simplicity. They treat the guests at their best.

My memorable stay in Rajendrapur led me to tweet endlessly from day one till I left while roaming in the beautiful Bay of Bengal. The memories are permanent and inbuilt and will be treasured forever.

Fresh eggs for sale

Ban ride in Rajendrapur

Mohamed Shalahudeen in his stall

The main market bustles after a month long fast and feast

Cycle Rickshaw is a famous mode of transport in Rajendrapur

A scene in the morning at the market

Beautifully maintained garden at BRAC-Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee

“Please take my photo” a kind request from Mohamed Rafeek

Shoe polishing in the market

Rickshaw puller in Rajendrapur

At the meat stall

On mobile while being on the move

Cinema posters in Rajendrapur. Clicked this image while traveling on a Cycle Rickshaw

Market in Rajendrapur on a cloudy day

On a bright shiny day

A scene in front of BRAC-Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee

Beautiful sunset in Rajensrapur

On a laundry site

Birds gather at dusk

Fullmoon in Rajendrapur

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