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Eid in the shadow of lockdown: Quiet, subdued

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Muslim girl attends Eid al-Fitr

New Delhi, May 23 : The fragrance of ‘sewain’, the giggle of little ones running amok in the house, the stain on the new ‘kurta’ caused by spilling mutton ‘rogan josh’ — all these trademark moments of Eid are bound to get subdued this Eid, as people continue to struggle against a deadly global pandemic which has already infected more than one lakh persons in the country.

Ever thought how Eid and social distancing could find place in the same sentence?

Shahabuddin Yaqoob Quraishi was the Chief Election Commissioner and a distinguished administrator. He, like most of those who practice Islam, loves to spend Eid with close family and friends. However, it would not be the same this time around.

“My plans are simple. Stay at home, offer namaz alone, pray for peace in India and the world,” Qureshi told IANS.

He said that rather than interpersonal greetings, he will send his best wishes through phone calls and social media this time. “Be positive. Remember this is a special Eid. It will be remembered for long” — is how he sees Eid under the shadow of lockdown.

In the power circles of Lutyens’ Delhi, one of the most famous Eid celebrations take place at BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain’s residence since decades. Journalists and top political leaders cutting across party lines assemble there over glasses of Rooh Afza and a scrumptious lunch. During the course, the most sworn political enemies laugh it out over chats where politics is a taboo for a day. But this year, Hussain too will have a rather quiet Eid.

“I have been having this Eid luncheon for 21 years now. But this time things are different. No invitation has been sent. I will spend the Eid in a simple way by distributing food among the poor,” said Hussain.

The contagious virus that can spread through physical contact or even close proximity has infected more than 1,25,000 people in India. In the national capital itself, the death toll has reached 231, with 23 deaths getting reported in the past 24 hours, the Delhi Health Department said on Saturday. Such data leave very little room for anyone to be dismissive of the dystopian self-restriction rules.

Most places of religious worship continue to be off limits for people due to the lockdown. In spite of relaxation of restrictions, footfalls in market places have been minimal.

Globally, Eid restrictions are quite stringent with Turkey announcing a four-day curfew during the festival while Saudi Arabia will implement a 24-hour nationwide curfew on Eid.

Ghuam Nabi Azad, a senior leader of the Congress party and a powerful voice inside the Parliament, will also stay at home this Eid.

“When we can’t meet each other, there will be no prayers at the Eidgah, what can I say? Stay home and stay safe,” Azad told IANS when asked about his Eid plans.

India

India wants to focus on connectivity to Buddhist sites: PM Modi

The Prime Minister said that the event is also known as Guru Purnima. “This is a day to remember our gurus who gave us knowledge. In that spirit, we pay homage to Lord Buddha,” PM said.

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Modi PM

New Delhi, July 4 : Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the occasion of Asaadh Poornima and the inauguration of the Dharma Chakra Day, on Saturday, said India wants to focus on connectivity to Buddhist sites to improve tourism.

The Prime Minister’s remark came at a time when the country is passing through its worst economic phase and needs improvement in all sectors including tourism to attract revenue.

“We want to focus on connectivity to Buddhist sites. A few days back the Indian cabinet announced that Kushinagar airport will be an international one. This will bring people, pilgrims and tourists,” Modi said.

Addressing through video conferencing, Modi said he is very hopeful about the 21st century and this hope comes from young friends. He lauded the efforts of youths in start-up sectors saying, “If you want to see a great example of how hope, innovation and compassion can remove suffering, it is our start-up sector led by our youths,”

Noting that bright young minds are finding solutions to global problems, the Prime Minister said India has one of the largest start-up eco-systems and I would urge my young friends to also stay connected with the thoughts of Lord Buddha so that they could be motivated and find the way ahead.

The Prime Minister said that the event is also known as Guru Purnima. “This is a day to remember our gurus who gave us knowledge. In that spirit, we pay homage to Lord Buddha,” PM said.

“The eight-fold path of Lord Buddha shows the way towards the well-being of many societies and nations. It highlights the importance of compassion and kindness. The teachings of Lord Buddha celebrate simplicity, both in thought and action,” He said.

Buddhism teaches respect for people, the poor and women, for peace and non-violence. “Therefore, the teachings of Buddhism are the means to a sustainable planet.”

“In his very first sermon in Sarnath, and his teachings after that, Lord Buddha spoke on two things — hope and purpose. He saw a strong link between them. From hope comes a spirit of purpose,” the Prime Minister said.

Talking of the fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Prime Minister said the world is fighting against this virus with extraordinary challenges. To these challenges, he said, lasting solutions can come from the ideals of Lord Buddha. “They were relevant in the past. They are relevant in the present. And, they will continue to remain relevant in the future.”

“May the thoughts of Lord Buddha further brighten togetherness and brotherhood. May his blessings inspire us to do good,” the Prime Minister added.

This day is also aptly observed as Guru Poornima by both Buddhists and Hindus as a day to mark reverence to their Gurus. The day is celebrated as Dharma Chakra Day by the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC), under the Ministry of Culture. This day commemorates Buddha”s First Sermon to his first five ascetic disciples at the Deer Park, Rsipatana in the present-day Sarnath near Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.

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Explore history of America in Philadelphia

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This Fourth of July, travel back in time to explore American Revolution history in Philadelphia is called the Birthplace of America and the first World Heritage City in the United States. This is where the great American Dream was founded. It’s where courageous visionaries crafted the model for modern-day democracy that inspires people globally to embrace the power of their individuality and our human potential.

This Fourth of July, relive the birth of United States with virtual tours of the Historic Mile in Philadelphia. Within one square mile, visitors will find all of the below and more:

  • Independence Hall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that changed the world as this was where the several fundamental debates took place that lay the foundation of the United States of America and helped the founders of the nation to adopt both the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution.
  • The Liberty Bell, a symbol of freedom that predates the birth of the USA. Legend holds it sustained its trademark crack when it was rung to announce the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
  • The Museum of the American Revolution explores the dynamic story of the American Revolution using its rich collection of Revolutionary-era artifacts, personal items, letters, diaries, and works of art.
  • The President’s House, where both George Washington and John Adams spent most of their presidencies before the White House was built in Washington, D.C.
  • National Museum of American Jewish History, the only major national museum dedicated to telling the story of the Jewish people in America from 1654 to present.
  • African American Museum in Philadelphia, where visitors can explore the history and stories of African-American people and those of the African Diaspora. The exhibit Audacious Freedom: African Americans in Philadelphia 1776 – 1876 recounts the stories of and contributions made by people of African descent in Philadelphia during the tumultuous years following the founding of this nation.
  • The National Constitution Center, an interactive museum dedicated to the document on which the nation was founded, and the impact different interpretations of the document have had on the nation and world since it was adopted in 1789. Hamilton: The Constitutional Clashes That Shaped a Nation an exhibit that explores Alexander Hamilton’s fraught relationships with James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Aaron Burr, provides an intimate look into the founding father’s enduring role in the constitutional and political arguments that continue to create sparks to this day, through December 31, 2019.
  • Carpenters’ Hall, the meeting place of the First Continental Congress in 1774. The seeds of the American Revolution were planted here when delegates from 12 of the 13 colonies agreed to boycott British imports.
  • Benjamin Franklin Museum and Franklin Court, the Philadelphia home of statesman, author, printer, inventor, postmaster, activist and more. The building also is the first post office in the United States.
  • The American Philosophical Society Museum is the oldest learned society in the United States, founded in 1743 by Benjamin Franklin for the purpose of “promoting useful knowledge.” See exhibitions drawn from the Society’s renowned collections that trace American history and science from the Founding Fathers to the digital age.
  • Elfreth’s Alley, the oldest continuously-inhabited street in America.
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Chidambaram hails decision to skip Ganesh fest amid Covid pandemic

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P Chidambaram

New Delhi, July 1 : After it was announced that the iconic Lalbaugcha Raja Ganesh idol in Mumbai will not be established during the upcoming 11-day Ganeshotsav starting August 22 in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, senior Congress leader and former Union Minister P. Chidambaram on Wednesday hailed the decision taken by the organisers.

“I congratulate the organisers of the annual Ganesh festival for the decision to call off the celebrations this year and instead organise a plasma donation camp over the 11 days,” Chidambaram said in a statement.

Earlier, while announcing its decision to cancel this year”s annual event that draws unprecedented crowd each year, the Lalbaugcha Mandal informed that instead of celebrating the Ganesh festival, it has decided to celebrate it as a health festival. Apart from organising blood donation camps and running a campaign for plasma donation, it has also decided to donate Rs 25 lakh to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund for fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Ganesh idol at Lalbaugcha in Mumbai’s Parel area is considered to be the tallest in the city and is among the biggest crowd-pullers.

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