Thursday, February 12, 2009

Cover from India

For today I am going to share with you a registered cover that I received from India a month ago.
Please allow me to tell you more about the stamps and correct me if i am wrong.
This pair of stamps was issued in 2001, honoring the birth anniversary of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar.
Dr. Ambedkar was born on April 14, 1891 in Mhow in Central India. He was an Indian nationalist, jurist, Dalit political leader and a Buddhist revivalist. Born into a poor Untouchable family, Ambedkar spent his whole life fighting against social discrimination, the system of Chaturvarna — the Hindu categorization of human society into four varnas — and the Indian castle system.
In school he was made to sit on the floor and teachers refused to touch his books and ask him questions. This was because he was an "untouchable" in the eyes of the upper castes. Once when he was thirsty he drank from a public reservoir. This was found out and he was mercilessly beaten. He went to study in New York in July 1913 and got a doctorate of Philosophy. He saw the sufferings of the "untouchables" all through his life and decided to eradicate untouchablity and this became the goal of his life. He drafted India's constitution after Independence. On November 29, 1948 Article 11 of the Constitution, which declared the abolition of untouchablity was adopted. On December 5, 1956 he passed away in his sleep.
This block of stamps depicts the festival of Dussehra in Kolkata, where it is also known as Durga Puja in West Bengal. It is part of 3 stamps issued in 2008 of the "Festivals Series". The other 2 stamps show the festival of Dussehra in Mysore and Diwali, Festival of lights.
The first stamp of the set depicts Dussehra in Mysore, where it is religiously celebrated. Dussehra is the most popular festival in India. It is a Hindu festival, which is celebrated all over India to mark the defeat of Ravana by Lord Rama. Dussehra also symbolises the triumph of warrior Goddess Durga over the buffalo demon, Mahishasura.
The 'Ramlila' - an enactment of the life of Lord Rama, is held during the nine days preceding Dussehra. On the tenth day (Dussehra or Vijay Dasami), larger than life effigies of Ravana, his son and brother -Meghnadh and Kumbhakarna, are set to fire. The theatrical enactments of this dramatic encounter are held throughout the country in which every section of people participates enthusiastically. In burning the effigies the people are asked to burn the evil within them, and thus follow the path of truth and goodness, bearing in mind the instance of Ravana, who despite all his might and majesty was destroyed for his evil ways.
In West Bengal the festival is known as Durga Puja and is a major festival. The whole state comes alive during this festival. The City of Joy proves its name during the festival. Huge pandals are erected to worship the big idols of the goddess Durga. Beautiful idols of the Mother Goddess are worshipped in elaborate pandals for nine days, and on the ninth day, these are carried out in procession for immersion (visarjan) in a river or pond. The last stamp of the set shows Diwali or Deepavali, it is regarded as one of the most important festival of the Hindu calendar. It is celebrated across the nation with great pomp and excitement. The festival is mainly associated with lights as it is called the festival of light. On the day of the festival diyas (small clay lamps) are lit in everybody's home irrespective of their social status. The name Diwali signifies 'rows of lighted lamps'. Diwali is a five-day festival, beginning on the 15th day of the Hindu calendar month of Kartika (Ashwin). By the Gregorian calendar, Diwali falls in October or November. Diwali marks the beginning of the Hindu and Gujarati New Year and is celebrated with the lighting of lamps and candles, and lots of fireworks. People decorate their home with beautiful diyas and making rangoli pattern in the courtyard and in front of the gate. They put flowers and mango leaves on their doors and windows. Diyas and candles are placed on rooftops, rooms, and kitchen and even in the bathrooms. On this day, people worship Lord Ganesha, the foremost of all Hindu Gods and Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity. It is time to exchange gifts and sweets with friends, relatives and neighbors.
The 2 souvenir sheets at the back of the cover are Jasmine (a scented sheet), issued in 2008 and Butterflies in 2008.
Variously known as Juhi, Chameli, Mogra and Malati in North India and as Malligai and Mallepoovu etc. in the south, the fragrant and delicate Jasmine flower is deeply embedded in the Indian psyche. Widely used in religious offerings, the flowers are also popular for decorative purposes. Many Indian women wear these flowers in their hair. The flowers are also kept inside homes to perfume the air.
This souvenir sheet depicts the 4 beautiful butterflies of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands. The area consist of a large group of nearly 600 islands in the Bay of Bengal.

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