Skywatch Friday - Siachen War Memorial

Siachen Glacier, Karakoram ranges, The Himalayas. India.

The highest battlefield in the world.

The toughest battlefield anywhere in the world.

Minimum temperature in Winter - Minus 70 degree Celsius.

We were there at the base camp during our Ladakh trip in August this year.

PM Modi's visit to Siachen yesterday rekindled memories of our visit to the base camp and the war memorial there.

We visited the war memorial in the base camp set against a picturesque backdrop of mountains. It was mid day. The sky was clear. Lovely blue. Click on pictures to see in original size.

It was a poignant moment for us. Looking at the names of martyrs in the roll of honour brought tears in our eyes. 

Here is a nice video shot by NDTV on the conditions in Siachen Glacier and Indian Army's resiliency.

Indian Army Training and Living on Siachen Glacier - Part 1

If you are interested to know more about our experiences in Ladakh please click the link below. There are 9 posts in "Ladakh Diaries". Once you complete reading each post please click "older posts" at the end of the page which will take you to previous posts in the series.

Ladakh Diaries - Our experiences in Ladakh

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Diwali in India - Celebrated differently!

Wishing you all and your families a very happy and prosperous Diwali/Dipavali!

Diwali or Dipavali is the biggest festival in India. A festival which is celebrated across the country. "Festival of lights" as it is called is a time for families to come together and celebrate with joy. Communities come together in bonhomie. 

India being such a diverse country, it was not a surprise to read about Diwali being celebrated differently in some parts of our own home state , Karnataka. Away from the noises of crackers here are two unique traditions which are interesting.

Diwali celebration by Lambanis

Lambanis are nomadic tribes who are found in large numbers in the central districts of Chitradurga, Davanagere and Bellary. A hard working tribe who have a their unique tradition and culture, Diwali is celebrated in a differently by them. In "Tandas" as Lambani settlements are known, Diwali is celebrated by unmarried girls. Many Hindu festivals are normally observed by married women. But here is a difference. Men and married women are not allowed to join the festivities! 

Diwali or "Dawali" as it is called by Lambanis is celebrated by unmarried girls. Starting with worshipping of Goddess Lakshmi on new moon day - the second day of Diwali - the girls get dressed up in traditional attire and carry traditional oil lamps to the head of the tanda - village head - and worship the deity in his house. On the next day - "Bali Padyami" - these girls go into the forests early in the morning to pluck the wild flowers, dancing and singing all along. After collecting flowers, they reach the temple of village goddess and worship her with the flowers collected.

From the temple, the girls visit every home in the tanda, light the traditional lamp in the house and bless it. The rounds of the houses done, the sound of drums invite the girls to come to the house of village head man. Fully decked in traditional lambani dress which is very colourful, the girls reach the house where festivities start. The girls dance to Lambani folk tunes accompanied by drum beats. The lovely rhythm and colourful attire of the girls is a treat to the eyes. Fire crackers are burst during this time. The dance normally take 2 hours after which the elders bid farewell to the girls who go to the temple of village goddess again and pay obeisance. 

Temple rituals done, the girls go to every house in the evening where holy cow dung is worshipped with offering of milk and flowers. The rituals end with everyone in the tanda getting together for festive dinner in the house of village head man.

Building castles on Diwali

We don't know when this tradition started. But this is quite interesting. 

In some villages of Belgaum district, Diwali brings in the spirit of castle building among the children. As soon as Dasara festivities end, the children start planning for building miniature castles in the village on Diwali day. Using local materials, these children design their castles with imagination. Long holidays for school during Dasara help them to start preparations early. The kids in the village go around and collect donations to build the castle. 

Theses castles look real with gates, turrets, guard houses, cannons and of course the king on the throne! The competitive spirit among the kids ensure that you get the best out of them. The elders in the villages judge the winner of the best castle and the team making it is awarded. 

These castles have become cynosure with people from neighbouring villages and towns descending to see them. 

Check out this nice video by Prakash Manjrekar on the castle building

If you are around these villages or driving in the region, check out these lovely castles!

Postscript - This is a abridged and translated version of articles which was published in "Prajavani" the leading Kannada newspaper. We are thankful to the authors Usha Prashant ( for Lambanis) and Sudhakar Talawara ( For Castle).

You may also check the following interesting posts on "Diwali in India" by clicking the link below.

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Monday Medley - Spotting Ravan in Bidar!

Monday Medley - A potpourri of interesting experiences, articles, posts from fellow bloggers which we liked, books we loved, interesting images of fellow travellers or images from our own portfolio. Published on Sundays. We hope it will be a good start to the week ahead......

We were in Bidar in North Karnataka on Vijaya Dashami day. This is the last day of Dasara or Navaratri which is a major festival and one of the few which is celebrated across the country.

We did not expect to see with Ravan and companions in the city. It was surprising to see the effigies of Ravan, Kumbhakaran and Meghnad in the heart of the city as Ram Leela is generally celebrated in North India. The enthusiastic local youth were preparing the Ram Leela ground for Ravan Dhahan or burning of Ravan's effigy in the evening.

The effigies themselves were colourful. All three of them sported thick Moustache typical of the region. The dress they worn was also like the ones traditionally worn by the people in the region.

The facial expression of Ravan said it all. He seems to resigned to his karma where as Kumbhakaran and Meghnad seemed to ready for another bout of fight!

We asked the organisers if we can click these pictures on a sunny afternoon with few clouds hanging in the sky.

There you are. The three demons basking in the sun. Click on the picture to see it in original size.

Postscript - Ravan, Kumbhakaran and Meghnad are three important characters in Indian Epic Ramayana. Ram Leela is a tradition of village theater played out in North India depicting the story of Ramayana on the stage during the week of Dasara. The effigies are burnt on the last day of Navratri symbolising defeat of Ravan at the hands of Ram.

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