‘Subeh Banaras’

UP will showcase Varanasi in Republic Day parade  

 A glimpse of Varanasi, the historical city and the Lok Sabha constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will be available at the 2018 Republic Day parade when the Uttar Pradesh tableau rides down Rajpath. The theme of the tableau will be “Subeh Benaras”, depicting the morning life in this fascinating city, which has been going through a massive transformation and witnessing development on all fronts. The tableau will have models of the famous Kashi Vishwanath temple, ghats, boats in the Ganga, apart from well-known tea, kachori and paan shops.

The front portion of the tableau will depict the most popular of temples, Kashi Vishwanath, which was built in 1780 by Queen Ahilyabai Holker of Indore. Musical instruments like shehnai and tabla will be on display. The shehnai will be played by some artists too.

‘Fish’y victory

Rohu-Hilsa Wins Over prawn

The Press Club of India at Raisina Road witnessed its keenly contested annual polls for office bearers. For the first time, the main candidates used the YouTube to air their interviews and panel’s manifesto.

The entire ruling panel headed by Gautam Lahiri won—except for one candidate among 16 managing committee posts—with flying colours, defeating the rival group led by Anikendra Nath Sen, popularly known as “Badshah” Sen. The fight was described as between two Bengalis.

When this writer asked Jayanta Roy Chowdhury where the Bengali votes were going, he trotted out a diplomatic reply that went viral among the 1,721 print and television journalists who voted: “Lahiri, after becoming PCI’s president last year, introduced rohu fish in the menu and hosted an ilish (hilsa) festival, which proved very popular. However, there are those who hope if Badshah Sen wins, he will host a chingri (prawn) festival. So, the Bengali votes may get divided on rohu and ilish vs chingri lines.” Traditionally, those Bengalis who have their roots in East Bengal, celebrated the victories of the East Bengal football club with hilsa preparations, while those with roots in West Bengal celebrated Mohun Bagan’s victories with prawn feasts. However, with inter-marriages, most Bengalis have both eastern and western Bengali lineage.

During peak voting, a veteran journalist, above 70, walked in. A young woman candidate, a TV journalist, hugged him asking for his vote. After going a short distance, he commented to his friend, “If a pretty girl hugs me at this age, she surely gets my vote.” She was the only candidate to win from Sen’s panel.

Signs of progress

Miss World’s village turns active

The ancestral village of the recently crowned Miss World, Manushi Chhillar and the adjoining areas in Haryana’s Jhajjar district have suddenly become active. The khap panchayats are showing signs of progress, instead of sticking to orthodox religious and social traditions. A panchayat of 11 villages dominated by the Chhillar and Chhikara gotra Jat community has decided not to solemnise weddings at night “to curb nuisance and unpleasant incidents”. The panchayats have also banned celebratory firing, DJ music and liquor in marriage functions.

The panchayat specially organised their meeting at Bamnoli, the ancestral village of Manushi Chhillar. The village elders have not yet decided the penalty against the violators.

“We would first try to persuade people not to go against our decisions, said,” said Rajroop Chhillar of Bamnoli village, who presided over the meeting. “We will soon felicitate our beti Manushi Chhillar.”

Superstitions galore

MP Assembly needs Vaastu check

The death of nine MLAs in the last four years in Madhya Pradesh has made a Congress legislator suspect “vaastu dosh” in the new Assembly building on the Arera hills. On the first day of the winter session of the Assembly, when tributes were being paid to the deceased MLAs, including two sitting members, senior Congress MLA, K.P. Singh raised the issue of “vaastu dosh” in the building and appealed to the Speaker, Sitasharan Sharma to get it removed.

Pointing at the death of nine sitting members since the current Assembly was constituted at the end of 2013, Singh said, “I request the Speaker to get the building examined thoroughly from the spiritual point of view and organise some karmakaand (rituals) as per traditions,” said Singh. Addressing the Legislative Affairs Minister Narottam Mishra, Singh also appealed to him “to do what it takes to ward off the vaastu dosh.”

The Speaker said he would discuss the issue with the ministers and other senior legislators and engage a “vaastu expert” for opinion. “I do not believe in such superstitions but now that a very senior member of the Assembly has spoken extensively in the House about the issue, I have decided to give it a thought.”

Recalling similar concerns expressed long back, the Speaker said that he had been told that an exercise to remove vaastu dosh had been carried out during the tenure of Srinivas Tiwari as Speaker, between 1993 and 2003, during the Congress regime.

A decade ago, senior BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya had also raised the issue and had asked Indore-based Institute of Vedic Vastu and Research Foundation for a report in his personal capacity.

And in 2008, the then state president of Samajwadi Party, Narayan Tripathi, had organised an all-party yagna to drive away the vaastu dosh, claiming that the ruling BJP did not have the courage to organise such an event. No one had turned up for his religious event.

Extraordinary (re)venues

Punjab taps revenue from weddings

In this marriage season, “migratory birds” (NRIs) from Canada and the US are coming to attend big, fat weddings in Punjab. During this season, many rich families go for destination marriages, either abroad or in old forts and serais (inns) in Rajasthan, where these have been converted into heritage resorts and hotels.

To tap revenue from Punjab’s wedding season and also to create extraordinary venues within the state, Tourism and Culture Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu has laid out a new tourism roadmap.

Speaking to The Sunday Guardian, Sidhu said that “we have taken measures to make tourism self-dependent. All three Mughal serais in Punjab are being developed as wedding circuit…Punjabis will now be able to organise lavish weddings at the serais like the ones held at Rajasthan palaces.”

“We are also working on developing a Sufi circuit, Amritsar circuit and old haveli culture,” he said.

According to him, 20 hotels of the Punjab Tourism Department, which were closed, are now being revived. We are trying to rope in big business houses in the hospitality sector to run these hotels and give a part of the income to the state.

The Baba Ala Singh Qila Mubarak was being given a major facelift for Rs 25 crore and is being converted into a boutique hotel with five-star facilities. The state government has also decided to register all dhabas for quality control to provide hygienic food to the tourists.

Man Mohan can be contacted at rovingeditor@gmail.com

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