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Varanasi to Hold a Two Day ‘Sanskriti Mahotsav’



To celebrate the creative and cultural industries in Varanasi and to focus attention on the need for Swachhta by using cultural forms, a Sanskriti Mahotsav “Swachhagrah – Bapu ko Kaaryaanjali” is being organized on February 21-22 at the Man Mandir Ghat and Assi Ghat in Varanasi.

The Mahotsav will integrate the tangible and intangible heritage along the river-belt and will see the engagement of the academia, artists, artisans, writers, poets, environmental and cultural forums on the use of cultural expressions for conservation and protection of the river and the ancient city.

The Swachhtadrive will be steered by school-children affiliated to Ministry of Culture, Government of India’s Interpretation Centres through exhibitions, songs, puppetry, nukkad nataks and folk dances.

The 2-day event would focus on performances on the theme of ‘Swachhagraha’ presented under the rubric of ‘Swachhagraha: Bapu ko Karyanjali’.

The Mahotsav will cover a profusion of art forms from classical, folk music, dance and visual arts and would offer the chance to experience the best in established and emerging virtuosity. An exhibition on Varanasi curated by the National Archives will be showcased at the Man Mandir ghat to the creation of Virtual Museum.

The National Gallery of Modern Art in partnership with the Fine Arts School of BHU will conduct painting and terracotta-sculpture workshops for students of Cultural Interpretation Centres set up in several schools by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India.

Installations and large canvases drawn by children on the theme of Swachhta will be exhibited at prominent places and ghats of the city. Buses, Boats provided by the District Administration and prominent walls will be covered with graffiti art and with multicoloured murals and tags celebrating the theme of ‘Swachhagraha: Bapu ko Kaaryaanjali’.

During the Swachhagraha Music and Dance Festival, the classical arts of Varanasi will be celebrated at a stage created at the Man Mandir ghat. On 21st February, the program will start with a tabla recital by five-year-old Avantika Mishra, granddaughter of Padma Vibhushan Pandit Kishan Maharaj.

The LIVE coverage of Ras Banaras Mahotsav can be seen on the Youtube channel of Sanskriti.goi from 6 PM on February 21 and February 22.

Children from the Interpretation Centres will perform Swachhta Geet. The duo of Pandit Narendra Mishra and Pandit Pooran Maharaj will perform on Sitar and Tabla respectively while Sanjeev and Ashwini Shankar will perform on Shahnai. In the dance segment, Saurav and Gaurav (from the Benaras Gharana) will perform Kathak dance.

A melange of colourful and traditional handicraft and textiles from Varanasi and other parts of the country will form part of a Crafts Bazaar at Assi Ghat. Art connoisseurs will get a chance to interact with artisans and watch their work in progress.

The bazaar will include folk performances by folk singers and dancers from different states with a special focus on Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya, the states paired with Uttar Pradesh under the Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat matrix. A small food corner will also bring out the aroma of Varanasi and tribal cuisine from Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya.

On the second day of the Mahotsav, the evening will open with the Swachhta Geet by children, followed by Malini Awasthi’s vocal rendition. She will be followed by Kathak dancer, Vishal Krishna. The event will end with Shruti Sadolikar’s classical rendition. Ravindra Jaiswal, MLA, Varanasi North, Dr Neelkanth Tiwari, MLA, Varanasi South, Saurabh Srivastav, MLA, Varanasi Cantt., Surendra Narayan Singh, MLA, Rohaniyan and Neel Ratan Singh Patel, MLA, Sevapuri will also grace the occasion.

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India’s NCAA Becomes the World’s First Trusted Digital Repository

IGNCA has been certified as the world’s first Trusted Digital Repository as per ISO 16363:2012 standard, granted by PTAB, United Kingdom.



National Cultural Audiovisual Archives (NCAA) project of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India, implemented by Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) has been certified as the world’s first Trusted Digital Repository as per ISO 16363:2012 standard, granted by Primary Trustworthy Digital Repository Authorisation Body Ltd. (PTAB), United Kingdom.

Leveraging this historic achievement, the plan for the next phase is to integrate about three lakh hours of audiovisuals materials, a corpus estimated based on a scoping survey conducted in 25 cities across the country, on this platform over the next five years.

The Minister of State for Culture (Independent Charge) and Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Dr Mahesh Sharma said, “I congratulate IGNCA for this remarkable achievement. The Digital India initiative of the Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, launched on 1 July 2015, aimed at connecting rural India with high-speed internet networks and improving digital literacy. This will boost the accessibility of the NCAA up to the remotest corner of the country and help preserve India’s rich culture throughout its length and breadth.”

The primary objective of the NCAA is to identify and preserve the cultural heritage of India available in audiovisual form through a process of digitization and making it accessible to the people.

By March 2018, a corpus of 30,000 hours of unpublished, non-commercial audio & video recordings will be made online at, out of which approximately 15,000 hours are already hosted online along with contextual metadata, representing the cultural diversity of India in the broadest sense.

Over 23,000 hours of unpublished audiovisual recordings have already been digitized. NCAA pilot digital repository was developed in collaboration with the Centre of Excellence for Digital Preservation by C-DAC, Pune. NCAA digital repository is established with and powered by DIGITĀLAYA (डिजिटालय) which is developed by C-DAC Pune in compliance with Open Archival Information System (OAIS) Reference Model ISO 14721:2012.

At present, NCAA has a total of twenty-one (21) Partnering Institutions from across the country, covering 11 governmental and 10 non-governmental cultural organisations. The digitization and metadata standards followed by the Project are in parity with international standards within the overall framework of the OAIS model.

The digitization standards are in concordance with those prescribed by the International Association of Sound & Audiovisual Archives (IASA) and the metadata schema is extended Dublin Core, followed by galleries, libraries, archives and museums worldwide

Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts has been set up by the Government of India, as a premier research institute dedicated to holistic understanding and expression of Indian arts in their inter and multi-disciplinary nature. One of the principal aims of the centre is to serve as a major national resource centre for the arts.

The IGNCA has been designated by the Government of India as the nodal agency for a data bank on art, humanities and cultural heritage. The Centre has also been identified by UNESCO as the nodal agency for the development of regional databases for South and South East Asian countries on art, cultural heritage and lifestyles through the application of state-of-the-art technologies for standardization, exchange and dissemination of data.

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Karnataka’s Cong Government Seeks Separate Religion Status for Lingayats

Karnataka’s Siddaramaiah-led Congress government has decided to recognise Lingayats as an independent religion and seek approval from the Centre for the same. 



Karnataka’s Siddaramaiah-led Congress government has decided to recognise Lingayats as an independent religion (from Hinduism) and seek approval from the Centre for the same. The decision was taken after a cabinet meeting and consultation with Lingayat seers.

The Cabinet took the decision to accept recommendations of the Justice Nagamohan Das Committee, which had asked the state to accord a separate religion tag to the Lingayats.

If recognised as a minority religion, the Lingayats will be able to avail of benefits under Section 25, 28, 29 and 30 of the Constitution.

What makes the timing of the move particularly suspicious is that Karnataka is just about two months away from elections and Lingayats, who currently form 17% of Karnataka’s population, is a major vote bank for political parties.

In the recent decades, the Lingayats have emerged as strong supporters of the BJP. Experts suggest that if a separate religious status is granted to the community, the BJP will have a tough time explaining its ideological stance based on Hindu solidarity. Former Chief Minister and current CM candidate of the BJP, BS Yeddyurappa, is also from the Lingayat community.

The Congress, predictably, hopes to gain much from the desired branching.

The agitation is not a new one – and has forever revolved around a single core question viz., who are the Lingayats and what precisely is their religious identity?

Who are the Lingayats:

The tradition of Lingayatism is known to have been founded by social reformer and philosopher Basavanna in 12th century Karnataka. While there exists a debate around whether Basavanna founded the sect or if he merely reformed an existing order, there can be no doubt that under him the community acquired the form of a well-organised, structured mass movement. Followers of the sect continue to revere him as the founder and prime philosopher of their religion.

Social reformer and philosopher Basavanna (Wikimedia Commons)

Basava grew up in a Brahmin family with a tradition of Shaivism. As a leader, he developed and inspired a new devotional movement named Virashaivas, or “ardent, heroic worshippers of Shiva”. This movement shared its roots in the ongoing Tamil Bhakti movement, particularly the Shaiva Nayanars traditions, over the 7th- to 11th-century.

Basavanna’s vision of a societal order was one based on human freedom, equality, rationality, and brotherhood. He and his followers spread their ideas through vachanas (prose-lyrics) and their prime target was the caste hierarchy which they rejected with full force. In one of his vachanas, Basavanna asserts that “the birthless has no caste distinctions, no ritual pollution.”

Lingayat sect first emerged within the larger trend of Bhakti movements that had swept across South India from the 8th century AD onwards.

The Bhakti tradition was a social reform movement that took birth within Hinduism but strove to rectify what the followers saw as the unjust practices within the tradition.

But, historians like K Ishrawaran say that while the conventional Bhakti movements remained adjacent to the Hindu system, Lingayatism challenged the system in its most basic form and became a highly structured movement.

Other historians say that the most striking feature of this institutionalisation was that unlike other Bhakti movements, Lingayat status was hereditary in nature!

The desired differences aside, however, the one aspect that indicates the association of Lingayatism with Hinduism is the former’s relationship with Veerashaivism.

Veerashaivism is also a Shaiva sect within Hinduism and is predominantly located in Karnataka. It’s supporters claim that Basavanna was not the founder of the Lingayat tradition, but rather a reformer of an already existing religious tradition called Veerashaivism.

The Veerashaivas accept the Vedic texts and almost all Hindu practices.

Moreover, despite insisting upon the contrary, Lingayatism, quite like Jainism, does assimilate many aspects of Hinduism that are influenced by or drawn from the Upanishads and the Vedic traditions.

The close associations that the Lingayat followers share with Hinduism, both sociologically and historically, thus make it a complicated case of to be or not be Hindu.

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Cute Bengaluru Sisters Wish ‘Happy Ugadi’ (Kannada)

ಹ್ಯಾಪಿ ಉಗಾದಿ – Cute Bengaluru sisters TANMAYEE and HRITIKA RAO wish everyone a Very Happy UGADI. 🙂



ಹ್ಯಾಪಿ ಉಗಾದಿ – Cute Bengaluru sisters TANMAYEE and HRITIKA RAO wish everyone a Very Happy UGADI. 🙂

League of India prays that Ugadi ushers in prosperity and new beginnings. Wishing you lots of love on this happy occasion!

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