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Bengal celebrates Durga puja

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Durga Puja

Kolkata, Oct 15: Durga Puja rituals began in West Bengal on Monday as enthusiastic devotees plunged into merriment marking the first day of the biggest festival in this part of the world.

‘Sasthi’ or ‘Bodhan’ — the welcoming of the Durga idols — signalled the commencement of the five-day puja as the eastern metropolis welcomed its patron goddess to beats of dhaak (drums) and aroma of incense.

Armed with mobile apps, special arrangement by West Bengal Transport Development Corporation for puja parikrama (pandal hopping), printed guide maps, denizens and tourists — cutting across age and class barriers — hit the streets here and in towns across districts, making rounds of different marquees under tight security arrangements.

Cyclone Titli timed its departure perfectly with the beginning of the ‘Sharod Utsav’ (autumnal festivities). There is no forecast of rain.

The carnival-like atmosphere began early with many prominent pujas throwing their marquees open to the public in advance from Mahalaya, the beginning of Devi Paksha.

Along with the greetings of “Shubho Sharadiya” via social media and messengers as also the traditional “namaskara, the chants of “Jai Durga” and “Bolo Durga Mai Ki Jai” reverberated across the state with every city, small town and village joining in the fervour.

The puja is usually a five-day event with Sasthi, and the subsequent four days — Saptami, Ashtami, Navami and Dashami — translating into frenzied pandal-hopping (visiting marquees) in new clothes, meeting friends and family and stuffing oneself with traditional delicacies.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wished people on Sasthi via a social media message.

Sasthi — the sixth day of the lunar calendar — began in some community pujas on Sunday evening according to ‘tithi’.

Kalparamvo (the beginning of the Puja), Bodhan (the consecration of Ma Durga’s idol), Amantran (inviting the Goddess) and Adhivas (sanctifying the stay of the Goddess in the exact spot where the puja is being held) — were performed in community puja marquees and households where the deity is being worshipped with zeal.

According to the epic Ramayana, before attacking Ravana in Lanka to free his wife Sita, Lord Rama had performed Durga Puja in autumn — a time when the gods sleep, according to the Hindu religious texts.

Rama had to first awaken the goddess prematurely, and as such, the awakening in the autumnal festival is called “Akal (untimely) Bodhan”.

However, mythology also states that the puja celebrates the annual descent of Goddess Durga, the slayer of the demon Mahishashur, accompanied by her four children — Ganesh, Kartik, Lakshmi and Saraswati — on Earth to visit her parents.

The goddess, astride a lion and wielding an array of weapons in her ten hands, stays for four days to eradicate all evil from Earth before returning to her husband Lord Shiva in Kailash on Dashami.

IANS

India

Himachal avalanche: 5 soldiers still missing, rescue underway

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Avalanche
Avalanche, Representative Image, PC Zee News

Shimla, Feb 21: Despite inclement weather, rescuers on Thursday resumed a search operation near the Tibet border with Himachal Pradesh where a snow avalanche claimed life of a soldier and five went missing.

As the rescue operations entered the second day, the authorities suspected that the soldiers might be trapped in the snow pile spread over a 200 square metre area.

“This morning the search operation began despite intermittent snowfall,” a government official told news agency IANS.

The calamity triggered yesterday when the glacier near Namgia Dogri, burying six jawans of the Jammu and Kashmir Rifles while 16 of them were on a routine patrol.

Five Indo-Tibetan Border Force (ITBP) soldiers were also wounded in the mishappening.

WeForNews

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Fresh snowfall, landslides shut Jammu-Srinagar highway

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jammu srinagar highway
ANI File Photo

Jammu, Feb 21: Fresh snowfall in the Bannihal sector and multiple landslides in the Ramsoo-Ramban sector blocked the Jammu-Srinagar highway, prompting halt of all traffic on Thursday on the strategic route.

“Over a foot of fresh snow has accumulated on the highway in Bannihal sector. There have been multiple landslides triggered by heavy rain at places in the Ramsoo-Ramban sector, as well,” a traffic department official said.

It is raining heavily along the 300-km stretch at various places both in the Kashmir Valley and the Jammu division.

“No vehicular traffic will be allowed on the highway today. Snow and landslide clearance operation will be started immediately after the weather improves,” the Traffic Department said.

The official said stranded vehicles along the highway were all parked at safe places.

The highway is regarded as the jugular vein of the landlocked valley as all essential supplies are routed to Kashmir through this road. Each time the highway gets blocked, shortages of essential supplies hit the valley.

From February 6 to 12 the highway had remained shut causing acute crisis in the valley.

IANS

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Pulwama fallout: Security of 18 separatists, 155 politicians in J&K withdrawn

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Jammu kashmir Mirwaiz Umer Farooq
The security cover of four senior separatist leaders -- Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, Shabir Shah, Professor Abdul Gani Bhat and Bilal Lone were already withdrawn on Monday. (Photo Credit- Reuters)

Jammu, Feb 21: The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Wednesday withdrew security of 18 separatists and 155 political persons in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack on February 14 in which over 40 CRPF troopers were killed.

An order issued by the Home Department late on Wednesday said security cover of separatists and some mainstream politicians was also being withdrawn/downgraded apart from those that were initially withdrawn on February 18.

As per the new order, the new list includes names from the National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress.

Some of them are Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chief Yasin Malik, former IAS officer Shah Faesal and PDP leader Waheed Para.

“Over 1,000 personal security guards and 100 vehicles provided to the secured persons are being withdrawn,” officials said here.

The security cover of four senior separatist leaders — Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, Shabir Shah, Professor Abdul Gani Bhat and Bilal Lone were already withdrawn on Monday.

The decision to cut down heavily on separatist leaders’ cover was taken in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack when an explosive-packed SUV rammed into a bus of a Central Reserve Police Force convoy on the Jammu-Srinagar highway killing 40 paramilitary troopers on the spot in the worst-ever terror attack in the state since militancy struck there in 1989.

IANS

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