Category Archives: T.V. Antony Raj

Love Your Neighbour as Yourself?


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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This reading is from Gospel of Mark 12:28-34.

One of the scribes, when he came forward and heard them disputing and saw how well he had answered them, asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?

Jesus replied, “The first is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.

The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, ‘He is One and there is no other than he.’

And ‘to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself’ is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”l

And when Jesus saw that [he] answered with understanding, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And no one dared to ask him any more questions

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All the established religions of the world concur in one axiom, namely, “Love your neighbour as yourself.”

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In Hinduism

The Hindus, followers of the oldest of the religions now being practised, believe that one’s own Self or Soul is really identical with the Self or Soul of all other creatures. Hence one who injures another injures oneself. In the Hindu Vedas, “Love your neighbour as yourself'” is an inherent precept of unity with the absolute self, ‘That art thou’ (tat tvam asi). So, it follows that because one loves oneself, one is bound to love one’s neighbour, who is not different from oneself”

“This is the sum of duty; do naught onto others what you would not have them do unto you.” (Mahabharata 5,1517)

“One should not behave towards others in a way which is disagreeable to oneself. This is the essence of morality. All other activities are due to selfish desire.” (Mahabharata, Anusasana Parva 113.8)

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In Judaism

For the devout Jew, all the commandments were to be kept with equal care, but there is evidence of preoccupation in Jewish sources with the question put to Jesus.

In Leviticus 19:15-18, we read:

You shall not act dishonestly in rendering judgment. Show neither partiality to the weak nor deference to the mighty, but judge your neighbour justly.

You shall not go about spreading slander among your people; nor shall you stand by idly when your neighbour’s life is at stake. I am the LORD.

You shall not hate any of your kindred in your heart. Reprove your neighbour openly so that you do not incur sin because of that person.

Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against your own people. You shall love your neighbour as yourself. I am the LORD.

It is a mitzvah (commandment) for every human to love each and everyone from Israel as he loves his own body (self). As it is written, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself“, therefore one must sing his neighbour’s praises, and show concern for his financial well-being, as he would for his own well-being and as he would for his own honour. Anyone who aggrandizes himself at the expense of another person has no portion in the world to come.

In the first century BC, Hillel (later known as Hillel the Elder) migrated to the Land of Israel from his birthplace Babylonia, to study Torah. He worked as a woodcutter and eventually became the most influential force in Jewish life. Hillel is said to have lived in great poverty. He was known for his humanitarianism. One of his most famous sayings, recorded in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers, a tractate of the Mishnah), is “If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?”

The following source Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 31a is usually quoted to approve of Hillel’s indulgence of the gentile and the wisdom of this approach.

Shammai, a native of the Land of Israel was Hillel the Elder’s friendly adversary.  Little is known about him, except that he was a builder, known for the strictness of his views. He was reputed to be dour, quick-tempered and impatient.

One day a gentile came to Shammai and said to him: “Convert me (to Judaism) on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot.”

Irked by the request of the gentile, Shammai pushed him aside with the measuring stick he was holding.

A few days later this same gentile went to Hillel, and Hillel converted him, saying: “That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it.”

Let us take Hillel’s words seriously and try to understand what he means.

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In Zoroastrianism

That nature is only good when it shall not do unto another whatever is not good for its own self. (Dad istan-i-Dinik)

“Whatever is disagreeable to yourself do not do unto others.” (Shayast-na-Shayast 13:29)

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In Jainism

“A man should wander about treating all creatures as he himself would be treated.” (Sutrakritanga 1.11.33)

“One should treat all beings as he himself would be treated.” (Agamas Sutrakritanga 1.10.13)

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In Taoism

Regard your Neighbour’s gain as your own gain and your neighbour’s loss as your own loss. (T’ai Shang Kan Ying P’ien)

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In Buddhism

“…a state that is not pleasing or delightful to me, how could I inflict that upon another?” (Samyutta Nikaya v. 353)

“Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” (Udana-Varga 5:18)

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In Confucianism

“Do not do to others what you would not like yourself. Then there will be no resentment against you, either in the family or in the state.” (Analects 12:2)

“Try your best to treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself, and you will find that this is the shortest way to benevolence.” (Mencius VII.A.4)

Tsekung asked, “Is there one word that can serve as a principle of conduct for life?” Confucius replied, “It is the word shu–reciprocity: Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you.” (Analects 15.23)

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In Islam

“No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.” (#13 of An-Nawawi’s Forty Hadiths)

I am reproducing here a part of the article “‘Love thy neighbour’ in Islam” written for the January 2008 issue of the London-based Faith Magazine. cf. http://www.faith.org.uk (See Related Articles at the bottom for the link to the full article).

  • Another point needs to be made. Whereas Christian doctrine prescribes loving thy neighbour like thyself, Muslim doctrine prescribes loving for one’s brother (an yuhibba  li-akhî-hi) what one loves for oneself. Here, Islam’s wording of the golden rule is not dictated by any of Arabic’s linguistic or syntactical rules but is instead intentional. It is not love thy neighbour, but love for thy neighbour [. . .].” The object of man’s love is again beyond mankind because it is of God. As the eminent medieval theologian al-Ghazâlî (d. 505/1111) wrote, only God is the One who deserves love; man’s love for himself leads directly to God since every man owes his existence to God.
  • But who is the one for whom we must love that which we love for ourselves? Another important collector of canonical sayings and deeds by and about the Prophet, al-Tirmidhî (d. 278/899), said that “if you love for those you love what you love for yourself, you are a Muslim.” One’s brother is also Muslim and, not unlike neo-testamentary writings, brotherhood is first of all linked to confession, this according to the writings of the Tradition. For many, the Muslim’s brother is a Muslim, the believer’s brother is the believer, everyone is a brother in God’s religion and in His Book, that is to say in the pact with the Messenger, and even a slave is a brother when he prays. The Qur’an itself says that “believers are naught else than brothers” (Qur’an, 49:10) and that “He made friendship between your hearts so that ye became as brothers by His grace” (Qur’an, 3:102-103).

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In Sikhism

Treat others as thou wouldst be treated by thyself. (Adi Grandth)

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In Bahá’í Faith

Desire not for anyone the things that ye would not desire for yourselves. (Gleanings 66)

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Recently I read the following passage attributed to the American Shawnees Indians: “Do not kill or injure your neighbour, for it is not him that you injure, you injure yourself. But do good to him, therefore add to his days of happiness as you add to your own. Do not wrong or hate your neighbour, for it is not him that you wrong, you wrong yourself. But love him, for Moneto loves him also as he loves you.”

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There are many people
who will say they’re Christians
and they live like Christians on the Sabbath day

But come Monday morning, til the coming Sunday
They will fight their neighbor all along the way

{chorus}
Oh you don’t love God, if you don’t love your neighbor
if you gossip about him, if you never have mercy
if he gets into trouble, and you don’t try to help him
then you don’t love your neighbor, and you don’t love God

In the Holy Bible, in the Book of Matthew
Read the 18th chapter in the 21st verse
Jesus plainly tells us that we must have mercy
There’s a special warning in the 35th verse

Oh you don’t love God, if you don’t love your neighbor
if you gossip about him, if you never have mercy
if he gets into trouble, and you don’t try to help him
then you don’t love your neighbor, and you don’t love God

There’s a God almighty, and you’ve got to love him
if you want salvation and a home on high

If you say you love him while you hate your neighbor
then you don’t have religion, you just told a lie

Oh you don’t love God, if you don’t love your neighbor
if you gossip about him, if you never have mercy
if he gets into trouble, and you don’t try to help him
then you don’t love your neighbor, and you don’t love God

Oh you don’t love God, if you don’t love your neighbor
if you gossip about him, if you never have mercy
if he gets into trouble, and you don’t try to help him
then you don’t love your neighbor, and you don’t love God

then you don’t love your neighbor, and you don’t love God

Add this anywhere

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The Insidious Blue Whale Challenge (Game)


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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The insidious online Blue Whale Challenge (Game) has changed the mindset of vulnerable teenagers and young adults in their formative years who aspire to be part of something bigger than what they could achieve. This fatal game with its origin in Russia exploits this weakness.

The Blue Whale Game began in Russia in 2013 with “F57”, one of the names of the so-called “death group” of the VKontakte, the largest European online social media and social networking site that offers services in several languages, and is very popular especially among those who speak Russian.

The game is also known by other names such as “Blue Whale Suicide,” “F57“, “A Silent House,” “A Sea Of Whales,” and “Wake Me Up At 4:20 am” and allegedly caused its first suicide on Christmas Day 2015 when 12-year-old Angelina Davydova, fell to her death from the 14th floor of a block in central Russia. She was a member of the user group called ‘Wake Me Up at 4.20 am‘ which had more than a quarter of a million subscribers before it was blocked.

In 2016, Blue Whale game came into broader use among Russian teenagers after a journalist brought attention to it through an article that linked many unrelated suicide victims to the Blue Whale game, creating a wave of moral panic in Russia.

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The Devil: Philipp Budeikin aka Philipp Lis (Fox)

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Philipp Budeikin aka Philipp Lis (Fox), an innocent looking 21-year-old young Russian Psychology student who was expelled from his university claimed that he invented this Internet suicide game in 2013 in which the player is given certain tasks to complete during a period of 50 days. Since then he polished his tactics of recruiting. Now, the final task leads the player to commit suicide.

Philipp and his aides at first attracted as many children as possible into the VK (social media) groups by using mega-scary videos. Then they chose those who would be the most affected by psychological manipulation. They knew that out of 20,000 people, their audience would be only 20 people or 0.1%.

The administrators of the death group referred to the children they pushed to commit suicide as ‘biological waste‘.

In July 2017, Philipp Budeikin was arrested and he pleaded guilty to “inciting at least 16 teenage girls to commit suicide”. This led to the Russian suicide prevention legislation and also rekindled worldwide concern over the Blue Whale suicide phenomenon.

After getting arrested the 21-year-old did not exhibit a single sign of remorse on his face. After confessing to the crimes in a statement to the police he said that he thinks his young female victims were ‘happy to die‘ and that he was ‘cleansing the society‘ by pushing to suicide those he considered as ‘biological waste‘.

While being held at Kresty jail in St Petersburg the inventor of this suicide-inducing ‘game’, received dozens of love letters from teenage girls.

He is not thought to be the only organiser and according to BBC understands more people are being looked for in connection with these so-called “death groups”.

On February 21, 2017, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), a United States government-funded broadcasting organization that provides news, information, and analysis to countries in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East, reported that people are finding curators by using the Russian-language hashtags of “blue whale,” “sea of whales,” “I’m in the game,” “Wake me at 4:20 am,” “F58,” along with many others and that there were 4,000 searches for the hashtags on January 20, 2017, alone.

The often seen flying whale is said to be a chosen symbol due to whales committing suicide by jumping out of the water and beaching themselves on land. It is said that the whales are going to freedom.

An RFE/RL correspondent after creating a fake profile for a 15-year-old girl on the popular Russian social media site VKontakte spoke to a so-called curator of the Blue Whale game.

RFE/RL correspondent: “I want to play the game.

Curator: “Are you sure? There is no way back.”

RFE/RL correspondent: “Yes. What does that mean — no way back?

Curator: “You can’t leave the game once you begin.

RFE/RL correspondent: “I’m ready.

Then the curator explained the rules.

You carry out each task diligently, and no one must know about it. When you finish a task, you send me a photo. And at the end of the game, you die. Are you ready?

RFE/RL correspondent: “And if I want to get out?

Curator: “I have all your information. They will come after you.”

Over the course of a week, RFE/RL claimed they managed to speak to over a dozen people who claimed to be either players or curators.

Here is the list of 50 challenges of the Blue Whale Game that force players to commit suicide.

1. Carve with a razor “F57” or “F58” on your hand, send a photo to the curator.

Note: An RFE/RL correspondent responded by sending a photoshopped picture to prove the completion of the task, and the communication with the curator ended.

2. Wake up at 4:20 a.m. and watch psychedelic and scary videos that curator sends you.

3. Cut your arm with a razor along your veins, but not too deep, only 3 cuts, send a photo to the curator.

Note: Click on the link below to see a video about the task#3. The video contains graphic and disturbing scenes that may not be acceptable for all audiences. In this video, as strange music plays in the background an arm that appears with a presumably self-induced deep cut across the wrist. The hand moves forcing blood to leak from the wound.

http://thedailyhaze.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/f58.mp4?_=2

4. Draw a whale on a piece of paper, send a photo to the curator.

5. If you are ready to become a whale, carve YES on your leg. If not, cut yourself many times (punish yourself).

6. A task with a cipher.

7. Carve F40 on your hand, send a photo to the curator.

8. Type #i_am_whale in your VKontakte (a Russian social network) status.

9. You have to overcome your fear.

10. Wake up at 4 a.m. and go to a roof (the higher the better)

11. Carve a whale on your hand with a razor, send a photo to the curator.

12. Watch psychedelic and horror videos all day.

13. Listen to music that curator sends you.

14. Cut your lip.

15. Poke your hand with a needle many times.

16. Do something painful to yourself, make yourself sick.

17. Go to the highest roof you can find, stand on the edge for some time.

18. Go to a bridge, stand on the edge.

19. Climb up a crane or at least try to do it.

20. The curator checks if you are trustworthy.

21. Have a talk with a whale (with another blue game player) in Skype.

22. Go to a roof and sit on the edge with your legs dangling.

23. Another task with a cipher.

24. Secret task.

25. Have a meeting with a whale.

26. The curator tells you the date of your death and you have to accept it.

27. Wake up at 4:20 a.m. and visit any railroad near you.

28. Don’t talk to anyone all day.

29. Make a vow that you are a whale

From 30th to 49th day wake up at 4:20 a.m., watch horror videos, listen to music that the curator sends you, make 1 cut on your body, talk to a whale.

50. Kill yourself by jump off a high building, or by hanging from a noose, or go under a train or swallowing negative side tablets. Take your whale.

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Oh, What a Name?


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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Sir Solomon Dias Bandaranaike KCMG JP.

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Most Sinhalese names of the Ceylonese colonial-era are mouth-filling. Here is an interesting name:

Sir Solomon Dias Abeywickrema Jayatilleke Senewiratna Rajakumaruna Kadukeralu Bandaranaike

I wonder whether the bearer of this name would have recited his name without forgetting a single one, and in the correct order.

Sir Solomon Dias Abeywickrema Jayatilleke Senewiratna Rajakumaruna Kadukeralu BandaranaikeKCMG, Maha Mudaliyar, JP  (May 22, 1862 – July 31, 1946) was a Ceylonese colonial-era headman. Appointed as Head Mudaliyar and the aide-de-camp to the British Governor of Ceylon, he was one of the most powerful personalities in British colonial Ceylon.

In 1898, Sir Solomon Dias Bandaranaike, married Daisy Ezline Obeyesekere, daughter of Solomon Christoffel Obeyesekere, a member of the Legislative Council of Ceylon. His son, Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike, became the 4th Prime Minister of Ceylon after independence, and his granddaughter, Chandrika Kumaratunga, became both Prime Minister and President of Sri Lanka. His grandson, Anura Bandaranaike, became Speaker of the Parliament of Sri Lanka.

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The Meat of the Land Monitor (thalagoya) Was a Yesteryear Delicacy in Ceylon!


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

Sri Lankan Land Monitor lizard (thalagoya)

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The monitor lizards are large lizards in the genus Varanus. They are native to Africa, Asia and Oceania. Currently, a total of 79 species has been recognized.

The Bengal monitor lizard, also known as the common Indian monitor lizard, is found in Asia and Africa.

The length of this large, mainly terrestrial lizard, can range from about 61 to 175 cm (24 inches to 69 inches) from the tip of the snout to the end of the tail. While the adults mainly hunt on the ground preying on arthropods, small terrestrial vertebrates, ground birds, eggs and fish, the young monitors are more arboreal.

In Sri Lanka, there are two types of monitor lizards: (1) the Water Monitor (Varanus salvator) (Sinhala: kabaragoya-කබරගොයා; Tamil: kalawathan-களவத்தன்) and (2) the Land Monitor (Varanus bengalensis) (Sinhala: thalagoya-තලගොයා; Tamil: Udumbu-உடும்பு). While the former is shunned as poisonous, the latter is considered somewhat harmless.

It is widely said that Tanaji Malusare, a general in the army of the Maratha ruler Shivaji used the land monitors to scale the fort of Kondana in Pune, India because these lizards have a firm grip. In Tamil, ‘a firm grip’ is expressed as udumbu pidi (உடும்புப்பிடி).

In India, the skin of this lizard has traditionally been used in making the Kanjira, a South Indian classical percussion instrument. Now, however, the skin of the lizard is not in vogue owing to the increased awareness to the dwindling population of the lizard.

In Tamil Nadu and all other parts of South India, the monitor lizards are listed under the Protected Species Act.

The lizard evokes mixed responses from the people across the world. It is killed for sport in North Eastern India.

In Sri Lanka, the meat of the thalagoya is considered a delicacy.

Way back in 1947, when I was 6 years old, I was boarded at St. Gabriel’s School in Yatiyantota, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).

In the evenings, we, about 40 boarders walked in two-by-two formation to the playground a kilometre or so away from the school.

On our way, when our seniors saw a thalagoya they immediately broke away from the queue and went after the thalagoya with stones and sticks which they picked up on the roadside.

After killing the thalagoya, two seniors would return to the boarding house kitchen carrying the carcass and hand it over to the chief cook. That night we had thalagoya curry.

It was an unwritten rule that the person who threw the fatal stone should be honoured. The cooked tongue of the thalagoya inserted into a hollowed out ripe banana was ceremoniously presented to the ‘killer’. It is believed that the tongue of the thalagoya is a cure for stammering and asthma.

While travelling to Trincomalee by bus, the drivers used to stop the vehicle at a roadside boutique cum eatery for lunch at Dambulla. The waiter after sizing up the people who sat at the tables would ask in hushed voice whether they would like to savour thalagoya curry. On three occasion I ordered the delicacy and it was not costly.

In 1974, my neighbours at Layards Broadway, Colombo -14, spotted a thalagoya in a vacant plot. It might have sneaked in from the Sebastian Canal that connects with the Kelani Ganga. After killing and skinning the reptile, they inquired whether my wife who was born and bred in Badulla and known as an excellent cook would cook it for them. My wife refused, saying she had never cooked thalagoya meat. That night around 11 pm one of the neighbours brought a dish of the thalagoya meat curry prepared by his wife. My wife and children were apprehensive and refused to eat it and with curiosity watched me eating the delicacy.

The following day one of my neighbours told me he had given the skin of the thalagoya to a maker of musical (percussion) drums.

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History of Mother’s Day – Part 2


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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Mother’s Day in 1908

In Webster, Taylor County, West Virginia, Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis (1832 – 1905), a social activist, led a women’s group that celebrated an adaptation of Julia Ward Howe’s holiday. She and her daughter Anna Marie Jarvis (1864 – 1948), are now recognized as the founders of the Mother’s Day holiday in the United States.

Ann-Maria-Reeves-Jarvis
Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis

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Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis was born in Culpeper, Virginia, on September 30, 1832, to Rev.  Josiah Washington Reeves and his wife, Nancy Kemper Reeves. The family moved to Barbour County in present-day West Virginia when the Rev. Reeves got transferred to a Methodist church in Philippi. In 1850, Ann married Granville E. Jarvis, the son of a Philippi Baptist minister. Two years later, Granville and Ann Jarvis moved to nearby Webster in Taylor County.

In the 1850s, Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis lost eight of her 11 children before they reached the age of seven due to poor health conditions in the area. With the help of her brother, Dr James E. Reeves, she organized “Mother’s Friendship Clubs” in Webster, Grafton, Fetterman, Pruntytown, and Philippi, to improve health and sanitary conditions.

Thousands of women learned nursing and proper sanitation. Among other services, the clubs raised money for medicine, hired women to work for families in which the mothers suffered from tuberculosis, and inspected bottled milk and food. In 1860, local doctors helped to form Mother’s Friendship Club in other towns.

During the American Civil War, this noble woman urged the Mother’s Friendship Clubs to declare their neutrality and give relief to both Union and Confederate soldiers. The Club members nursed and cared for soldiers on both sides of the conflict.

Following the end of the war, she called on her club members to help mend the wounds of the war by reuniting the Union and Confederate families who fought on opposing sides by holding a “Mother’s Friendship Day.”

The Andrews Methodist Church built at Grafton, West Virginia and dedicated in 1873 was built under her husband’s leadership. Ann Maria Jarvis’ life revolved around the church. She taught Sunday School at the church for more than 20 years. After her husband’s death in 1902, Ann moved to Philadelphia to live with her son Claude and daughters Anna and Lillian.

Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis died on May 9, 1905, in Bala Cynwyd, in southeastern Pennsylvania, bordering the western edge of Philadelphia.

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Anna Marie Jarvis
Anna Marie Jarvis

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After Ann Maria Reeves Reeves’ death, her daughter Anna Marie Jarvis, began a campaign to make “Mother’s Day” a recognized holiday in the United States to honour her mother’s wish that there be a day set aside to honour all mothers.

In 1908, Anna Marie petitioned the superintendent of the church where her mother had spent over 20 years teaching Sunday School to hold a memorial service to honour her mother who died three years before. Her request was accepted, and on May 10, 1908, the first official Mother’s Day celebration took place at Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia, and at a church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The event in Grafton drew a congregation of 407. Anna Jarvis had arranged for her mother’s favourite flower – white carnations. Two carnations were given to every mother in attendance.

At present times, people use white carnations to pay tribute to deceased mothers, and pink or red carnations to honour living mothers.

In 1912 West Virginia was the first state to officially recognize Mother’s Day. 

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President Woodrow Wilson
President Woodrow Wilson

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On May 8, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson, a friend of Anna Marie Jarvis, signed a Congressional Resolution setting the second Sunday in May as a national holiday to celebrate Mother’s Day.

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Portrait

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Soon, other countries too adopted Mother’s Day of Anna Marie Jarvis.

However, by the 1920s, Anna Marie Jarvis felt disappointed with the commercialization of Mother’s Day.

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← Previous:  History of Mother’s Day – Part 1

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History of Mother’s Day – Part 1


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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The tradition of honouring Motherhood has its roots in antiquity.

Osiris was the lord of the dead in the ancient...
Osiris

According to the primaeval Egyptian mythology, divine Osiris, the eldest son of the Earth god Geb and the sky goddess Nut was the god of fertility, the afterlife, the underworld and the dead.

Osiris was a wise king who brought civilization. His siblings were Horus the Elder, Seth, Isis, and Nephthys. His younger brother Seth was the god of the desert, storms, darkness, and chaos. He was hostile and outright evil. Though they were brothers their diametric personalities made them adversaries.

Osiris was happily married to his sister, Isis while Seth married his other sister Nephthys.

Though Osiris and Seth were brothers, their diametric personalities made them adversaries.

Seth, the envious brother slew Osiris, dismembered him into 13 pieces and scattered the remains all over Egypt. He usurped the throne of his dead brother.

Isis
Isis

Isis collected the dismembered body of her brother-husband Osiris, reassembled the pieces. As the archetypal mummy, Osiris reigned over the after-world as a king among deserving spirits of the dead.

Isis used the embalmed corpse of Osiris to impregnate herself to conceive posthumously. She gave birth to Horus. She then hid her baby son amidst reeds lest Seth slaughtered him too. Horus grew up as a natural enemy of Seth, defeated him and became the first ruler of a unified Egypt. Isis thus earned her stature as the “Mother of the Pharaohs.

In ancient Egypt and Ethiopia, Isis was one of the four most widely venerated deities. The ancient Egyptians held an annual festival to honour the goddess Isis as the ideal mother and wife.

The worship of Isis spread throughout the Greco-Roman world as the patroness of nature and magic; friend of slaves, sinners, artisans, and the poor. The rich aristocrats, rulers and maidens prayed to the goddess who was also known as the goddess of children, and protector of the dead.

Despite being a foreign deity, the Romans venerated Isis and reserved a place for her in their temples. The Romans commemorated an important battle with a festival in her name that lasted for three days with female dancers, musicians and singers marking the beginning of winter.

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Black Madonna

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Societies around the world celebrated symbols of motherhood as mythological goddesses and not real human mothers except the Christian Church. The Mother and Son imagery of Isis and Horus, where Isis cradles and suckles her son, and that of the Virgin Mary and Infant Jesus is astonishingly similar.

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Celebrations in England and Europe

By the 16th century, due to the spread of Christianity, people in England and Europe moved away from the ancient roman religious and cultural traditions. Hilaria, the ancient Roman religious festival celebrated on the vernal equinox to honour Cybele gave way to Laetare Sunday – the fourth Sunday of Lent in the Christian liturgical calendar (the 40 days of fasting preceding Easter Sunday), once known as “the Sunday of the Five Loaves.” Christians in England used this Sunday, to honour the Mother of Christ and decorated the church in which they were baptized, which they knew as their “Mother Church” with flowers and offerings.

In the 17th century, a clerical decree in England referred to the Laetare Sunday as “Mothering Day.” The decree broadened the celebration, from one focused on the “Mother of Christ” and the “Mother Church,” to include real mothers. It became a compassionate holiday toward the working classes of England. During this Lenten Sunday, the masters allowed their servants and trade workers to travel back to their towns of origin to visit their families. Mothering Day also provided a reprieve from the fasting and penance of Lent. Across England family members, living far away came home to visit and enjoy a family feast. The children presented cakes and flowers to their mothers.

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Celebrations in America

The first English settlers, the Pilgrims, who came to America discontinued the traditional Mothering Day. They fled from England to practice a more conservative Christianity without being persecuted. In the new land, they lived under harsh conditions and worked long hours to survive. Due to their devotion to God, they ignored secular holidays. For them, even holidays such as Christmas and Easter were sombre occasions that took place in a Church stripped of all extraneous ornamentation.

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Mother’s Day Proclamation of 1870

In 1870, Julia Ward Howe conceptualized the first North American Mother’s Day with her “Mother’s Day Proclamation.”

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Julia Ward Howe
Julia Ward Howe

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Julia Ward (May 27, 1819 — October 17, 1910) born in New York City was a prominent American abolitionist, social activist, and poet. She wrote “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” after she and her husband, Samuel Gridley Howe, visited Washington, D. C., and met President Abraham Lincoln at the White House in November 1861.

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American Civil War soldiers

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Twelve years later, distraught by the death and carnage of the Civil War, she called on mothers to protest what she saw as “the futility of their sons killing the sons of other mothers.” She wrote the following “Mother’s Day Proclamation” and called for an international Mother’s Day to celebrate peace and motherhood:

Arise, then, women of this day!

Arise, all women who have hearts, Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!

Say firmly: “We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies, Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”

From the bosom of the devastated Earth, a voice goes up with our own. It says: “Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.” Blood does not wipe out dishonour, nor violence indicates possession. As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war, Let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead. Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means Whereby the great human family can live in peace, Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar, But of God.

In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask That a general congress of women without limit of nationality May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient And at the earliest period consistent with its objects, To promote the alliance of the different nationalities, The amicable settlement of international questions,

The great and general interests of peace.

Julia Ward Howe even proposed converting July 4th into Mother’s Day, to dedicate the nation’s anniversary to peace, but June 2nd was designated for the celebration.

In 1873, women’s groups in 18 North American cities observed this new Mother’s Day. Initially, Julia funded many of these celebrations. Most of them died out when she stopped funding. Boston city, however, continued celebrating Julia Ward Howe’s Mother’s Day for the next ten years.

Despite the failure of her Mother’s Day, Julia Ward had nevertheless planted the seed that blossomed into the modern Mother’s Day.

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Next: → History of Mother’s Day – Part 2

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Cricket: Schedule of Vivo IPL 2017 (IPL 10) T20 Cricket Tournament


Myself

By T. V. Antony Raj

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On February 15, 2017, BCCI announced the schedule of Vivo IPL 2017 (IPL 10) matches. A total of 60 matches will be played from April 5, 2017, to May 21, 2017, across 10 Indian cities.

Venues

The following have been chosen as venues for the Vivo IPL 2017 tournament:

1. Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium, Hyderabad.
2. Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Pune.
3. Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Rajkot.
4. Holkar Cricket Stadium, Indore.
5. M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru.
6. Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai.
7. Eden Gardens, Kolkata.
8. Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi.

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Schedule of Vivo Indian Premier League  2017 (IPL 10)
Fixtures in  IST Time
April 5, 2017, to 
May 21, 2017

Date Time Fixture Venue
Wednesday
5 April
.
8 pm

Match #1

SRH vs RCB
SRH vs RCB 220x100

Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium, Hyderabad
Thursday
6 April
.
8 pm

Match #2

RPS vs MIRPS vs MI 220x60

Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium,
Pune
Friday
7 April
.
8 pm Match #3

GL vs KKR
GL vs KKR 200x100

Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium,
Rajkot
Saturday
8 April
.
........
4 pm

Match #4

RPS vs  KXIP
RPS vs KXIP 220x100

Holkar Cricket Stadium,
Indore
8 pm Match #5

RCB vs DD
RCB vs DD 220x100

M. Chinnaswamy Stadium,
Bengaluru
Sunday
9 April
.
4 pm Match #6

GL vs SRHGL vs SH 220x100

Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium, Hyderabad
8 pm

Match #7

 MI vs KKR
MI vs KKR 200x100

Wankhede Stadium,
Mumbai
Monday
10 April
.
8 pm Match #8

RCB vs KXIP
RCB vs KXIP 220x100

Holkar Cricket Stadium,
Indore
Tuesday
11 April
.
8 pm

Match #9

RPS vs DD
RPS vs DD 220x60

Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium,
Pune
Wednesday
12 April
.
8 pm Match #10

SRH vs MI
SRH vs MI 220x83

Wankhede Stadium,
Mumbai
Thursday
13 April
.
8 pm Match #11

KXIP vs KKR
KXIPvs KKR 220x100

Eden Gardens,
Kolkata
Friday
14 April
.
4 pm

Match #12

RCB vs MI
RCB vs MI 220x100

M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru
8 pm Match #13

GL vs RPS
GL vs RPS 220x100

Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium,
Rajkot
Saturday
15 April
.
4 pm

Match #14

SRH vs KKR
SRH vs KKR 220x100

Eden Gardens,
Kolkata
8 pm Match #15

DD vs KXIP
DD vs KXIP200x100

Feroz Shah Kotla,
Delhi
Sunday
16 April
.
4 pm Match #16

GL vs MI
GL vs MI 220x100

Wankhede Stadium,
Mumbai
8 pm Match #17

RPS vs  RCB
RPS vs RCB 220x100

M. Chinnaswamy Stadium,
Bengaluru
Monday
17 April
.
4 pm Match #18

KKR vs DD
KKR vs DD 220x100

Feroz Shah Kotla,
Delhi
8 pm Match #19

KXIP vs SRH
KXIP vs SRH 220x100

Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium, Hyderabad
Tuesday
18 April
.
8 pm  Match #20

GL vs RCB
GL vs RCB 200x100

Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium,
Rajkot
Wednesday
19 April
.
8 pm Match #21

DD vs SRH
DD vs SRH 200x100

Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium, Hyderabad
Thursday
20 April
.
8 pm Match #23

MI vs KXIP
MI vs KXIP 220x100

Holkar Cricket Stadium,
Indore
Friday
21 April
.
8 pm Match #24

GL vs KKR
GL vs KKR 200x100

Eden Gardens,
Kolkata
Saturday
22 April
.
4 pm Match #25

RPS vs SRH
RPS vs SRH 220x83
Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium,
Pune
8 pm Match #26

MI vs DD
MI vs DD 220x60

Wankhede Stadium,
Mumbai
Sunday
23 April
.
4 pm Match #28

GL vs KXIP
GL vs KXIP 200x100

Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium,
Rajkot
8 pm Match #29

KKR vs RCB
KKR vs RCB 220x100

Eden Gardens,
Kolkata
Monday
24 April
.
8 pm Match #30

RPS vs MIRPS vs MI 220x60

Wankhede Stadium,
Mumbai
Tuesday
25 April.
8 pm

Match #31

SRH vs RCB
SRH vs RCB 220x100

M. Chinnaswamy Stadium,
Bengaluru
Wednesday
26 April
.
8 pm

Match #32

RPS vs KKR
RPS vs KKR 220x100

Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium,
Pune
Thursday
27 April
.
8 pm Match #33

GL vs RCB
GL vs RCB 200x100

M. Chinnaswamy Stadium,
Bengaluru
Friday
28 April
.
4 pm Match #34

KKR vs DD
KKR vs DD 220x100

Eden Gardens,
Kolkata
8 pm Match #35

KXIP vs SRH
KXIP vs SRH 220x100

Holkar Cricket Stadium,
Indore
Saturday
29 April
.
4 pm Match #35

RPS vs  RCB
RPS vs RCB 220x100

Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium,
Pune
8 pm Match #36

GL vs MI
GL vs MI 220x100

Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium,
Rajkot
Sunday
30 April
.
4 pm Match #37

DD vs KXIP
DD vs KXIP200x100

Holkar Cricket Stadium,
Indore
8 pm Match #38

SRH vs KKR
SRH vs KKR 220x100

Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium, Hyderabad
Monday
1 May
.
4 pm Match #39

RCB vs MI
RCB vs MI 220x100

Wankhede Stadium,
Mumbai
8 pm Match #38

GL vs RPS
GL vs RPS 220x100

Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium,
Pune
Tuesday
2 May
.
8 pm Match #40

DD vs SRH
DD vs SRH 200x100

Feroz Shah Kotla,
Delhi
Wednesday
3 May
.
8 pm Match #41

RPS vs KKR
RPS vs KKR 220x100

Eden Gardens,
Kolkata
Thursday
4 May
.
8 pm Match #42

GL vs DD
GL vs DD 220x100

Feroz Shah Kotla,
Delhi
Friday
5 May
.
8 pm Match #43

RCB vs KXIP
RCB vs KXIP 220x100

M. Chinnaswamy Stadium,
Bengaluru
Saturday
6 May
.
4 pm Match #44

RPS vs SRH
RPS vs SRH 220x83

Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium, Hyderabad
8 pm Match #45

MI vs DD
MI vs DD 220x60

Feroz Shah Kotla,
Delhi
Sunday
7 May
.
4 pm Match #46

KKR vs RCB
KKR vs RCB 220x100

M. Chinnaswamy Stadium,
Bengaluru
8 pm Match #47

GL vs KXIPGL vs KXIP 200x100

Holkar Cricket Stadium,
Indore
Monday
8 May
.
.
8 pm Match #48

SRH vs MI
SRH vs MI 220x83

Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium, Hyderabad
Tuesday
9 May
.
8 pm Match #49

KXIP vs KKR
KXIPvs KKR 220x100

Holkar Cricket Stadium,
Indore
Wednesday
10 May
.
8 pm Match #50

GL vs DD
GL vs DD 220x100

Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium,
Rajkot
Thursday
11 May
.
8 pm Match #51

MI vs KXIP
MI vs KXIP 220x100

Wankhede Stadium,
Mumbai
Friday
12 May
.
8 pm Match #52

RPS vs DD
RPS vs DD 220x60

Feroz Shah Kotla,
Delhi
Saturday
13 May
.
4 pm Match #53

GL vs SRHGL vs SH 220x100

Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium,
Rajkot
8 pm Match #54

MI vs  KKR
MI vs KKR 200x100

Eden Gardens,
Kolkata
Sunday
14 May
.
4 pm Match #55

RPS vs  KXIP
RPS vs KXIP 220x100

Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium,
Pune
8 pm Match #56

RCB vs DD
RCB vs DD 220x100

Feroz Shah Kotla,
Delhi
Tuesday
16 May
.
8 pm

Match #57

Qualifier 1

TBD vs TBD

Wankhede Stadium,
Mumbai
Wednesday
17 May
.
8 pm Match #58

TBD vs TBD

Eliminator
M. Chinnaswamy Stadium,
Bengaluru
Friday
19 May
.
8 pm Match #59

TBD vs TBD

Qualifier 2
M. Chinnaswamy Stadium,
Bengaluru
Sunday
21 May

.

8 pm
Match #60

Final

Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium, Hyderabad

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Cricket: Vivo IPL 2017 (IPL 10) Cricket Tournament


Myself

By T. V. Antony Raj

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In this month of April as in years before, the Indian Premier League (IPL) is again set to enthral the cricket fans across the globe.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has announced the schedule for the 10th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 tournament.

For the second consecutive year, BCCI has confirmed Vivo as title sponsor of the 10th edition of Indian Premier League’s T20 event.

Like last year, this year too, the former IPL three times champions Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royal will not participate in the tournament.

The Teams participating in
Vivo Indian Premier League  2017 (IPL 10)

Logo of Delhi Daredevils 115x115 Logo of Gujarat Lions 115x115 Logo of Kings XI Punjab 115x115 Logo of Kolkata Knight Riders 115x115
Logo of Mumbai Indians 115x115 Logo of Rising Pune Supergiants 115x115 Logo of Royal Challengers Bangalore 115x115 Logo of Sunrisers Hyderabad 115x115

The eight teams participating in IPL 2017 are:

1 – Delhi Daredevils
2 – Gujarat Lions
3 – Kings XI Punjab
4 – Kolkata Knight Riders
5 – Mumbai Indians
6 – Rising Pune Supergiants
7 – Royal Challengers Bangalore
8 – Sunrisers Hyderabad

The Captains of the teams participating in
Vivo Indian Premier League  2017 (IPL 10)

On February 19, 2017, Mahendra Singh Dhoni was removed as captain of IPL franchise Rising Pune Supergiants and replaced by Australian Steve Smith.

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The Captains of IPL 2017 teams

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Captains of the IPL 2017 teams. Left to Right:

  1. Delhi Daredevils: Zaheer Khan (India)
  2. Gujarat Lions: Suresh Raina (India)
  3. Kings XI Punjab: David Miller (South Africa)
  4. Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (India)
  5. Rising Pune Supergiants: Steve Smith (Australia)
  6. Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (India)
  7. Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (India)
  8. Sunrisers Hyderabad: David Warner (Australia)

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 Broadcasters and Digital Streaming Platforms for IPL 2017

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has announced the list of broadcasters and digital streaming platforms around the world. Several broadcasting networks and television channels will bring live coverage of Vivo IPL 2017 across the globe.

In India, Sony Pictures Network (SPN) has bagged the global rights to broadcast all the IPL  matches live on Sony SIX, Sony SIX HD, Sony Max, Sony Max HD for India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives & their respective territories, Commonwealth & possessions.

Broadcasting Rights
Vivo Indian Premier League 2017 (IPL 10)

Country/Region Broadcaster
India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives & their respective territories, Commonwealth & possessions Sony Pictures Network (SPN) – Sony SIX, Sony SIX HD, Sony Max, Sony Max HD, Hotstar
Indian subcontinent Cricketgateway.com
Afghanistan Lemar TV & Cricketgateway.com
Australia Cricketgateway.com
Bangladesh Bong BD and Cricketgateway.com
Caribbean Sportsmax and Flow TV
Canada Cricketgateway.com & Ethnic channel group
European territory Talk Radio
Hong Kong Now TV & Cricketgateway.com
Malaysia Astro  & Cricketgateway.com
(MENA Counties) – Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, UAE and Yemen only  OSN Rights
New Zealand Sky NZ
SEA Cricketgateway.com
Singapore Singtel, Starhub, Eleven sports (OTT) and Cricketgateway.com
South Africa & Sub-Saharan Africa  Sport SuperSport
South America Cricketgateway.com
United Kingdom Republic of Ireland, Isle of Man & Channel Island & the European territories & possessions only Sky Sports
United States  & its territories & possessions ESPN and Willow TV

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Analemma, the Slender Figure Eight in the Sky


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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Definition of Analemma by Merriam-Webster: “A plot or graph of the position of the sun in the sky at a certain time of day (such as noon) at one locale measured throughout the year that has the shape of a figure 8; also : a scale (as on a globe or sundial) based on such a plot that shows the sun’s position for each day of the year or that allows local mean time to be determined.

Our Earth orbits around the Sun on an elliptical path. It also revolves around the Sun on a slant with an axial tilt of about 23.4 degrees. This leads to some interesting observational effects. One of these is the analemma, the apparent path traced by the Sun in the sky when observed at the same time of day over the course of a year.

Due to the Earth’s orbital eccentricity and its axial tilt, our Sun does not appear in the same position in the sky at the same time every day throughout the year. These two factors combine to generate the slender figure-eight, called analemma ( Greek “support”) curve.

So, the astronomers use this analemma diagram that shows the deviation of the Sun from its mean motion in the sky, as viewed from a fixed location on the Earth.

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Analemma on a globe (Source: analemma.com)

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The analemma diagram with the Sun’s path resembling a lopsided figure eight can often be found printed on globes of the Earth, usually somewhere over the Pacific Ocean where there is lots of room to print it.

The north–south component of the analemma is the Sun’s declination, and the east–west component is the equation of time. Most often, the diagrams of analemmas carry marks that show the position of the Sun at various closely spaced dates throughout the year. Analemmas with date marks are used for various practical purposes. Without date marks, they are of little use, except as decoration.

Earlier, prior to the 18th century, the term “analemma” referred to any tool or method used in the construction of sundials. Now, the term “analemma” is used in conjunction with sundials to convert between apparent and mean solar time.

Analemmas are photographed by keeping a camera at a fixed location and orientation and taking multiple exposures throughout the year, always at the same clock-time.

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Analemma posted by Giuseppe Donatiello

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The above image is a photo of an analemma posted by Giuseppe Donatiello.

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Analemma photo taken by Jack Fishburn in 1998–99.

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The above is an afternoon analemma photo taken in 1998–99 by Jack Fishburn in Murray Hill, New Jersey, USA. The Bell Laboratories building is in the foreground.

Although the term “analemma” is used to refer to the Earth’s solar analemma, it can be applied to other celestial bodies as well.

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Origins of April Fool’s Day


Myself  

By T. V. Antony Raj

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The joker symbolizes the practical jokes associated with April Fools’ Day. (PhotoObjects.net/Jupiterimages)

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One of the most light-hearted days of the year is April Fools’ Day, sometimes called All Fools’ Day, celebrated every year on April 1.

On April Fools’ Day, people indulge in playing harmless practical jokes, for example, telling friends that their shoelaces are untied or sending them on so-called fools’ errands, and also spreading hoaxes. Both the jokes and their victims are labelled “April fools”. So, people indulging in playing April Fool jokes expose their prank by shouting “April Fool!“.

On this day some newspapers, magazines and other published media report fake stories, which are usually explained on the following day or printed below the news section in small letters like those found in some agreements.

Although April Fools’ Day or All Fools’ Day, has been celebrated by different cultures for several centuries no country has yet declared the day as a public holiday.

The exact origins of All Fools’ Day still remain a mystery.

The Hilaria

Some forerunners of April Fools’ Day, the custom of setting aside a day for the playing of harmless pranks upon one’s neighbours, include the Roman festival of Hilaria.

The Hilaria (Latin “the cheerful ones“) were ancient Roman religious festivals celebrated on the March equinox to honour Cybele.

The term ” Hilaria” seems to have originally been a name which was given to any day or season of rejoicing, celebrated in Rome at the end of March and involved people dressing up in disguises. According to Maximus the Confessor (c. 580 – August 13, 662), a Christian monk, theologian, and scholar, the Hilaria were, either private or public. If private, it is the day in which a person gets married, or a day when a son was born. If public, those days of public rejoicings decided by a new emperor which were devoted to general rejoicings and public sacrifices, and no one was allowed.

Some speculate that April Fools’ Day was tied to the vernal equinox, or the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, when Mother Nature fooled people with changing, unpredictable weather.

Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales

The first recorded association between April 1 and foolishness appeared around 1392, in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. In The Prologue to the “Nun’s Priest’s Tale“, Chaucer tells the story of the vain cock Chauntecler who falls for the tricks of a fox. The narrator describes the tale as occurring:

When that the monthe in which the world bigan
That highte  March, whan God first maked man,
Was complet, and passed were also
Syn March bigan thritty dayes  and two

Unfortunately, the reference “Syn March bigan thritty dayes  and two” is ambiguous and worthless as historical evidence.

Readers apparently misunderstood this line to mean “32 March”, meaning April 1. Modern scholars believe that there is a copying error in the extant manuscripts and that Chaucer actually wrote, Syn March was gon. Thus the passage originally meant 32 days after March, namely, May 2nd, the anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia, which took place in 1381.

Whatever Chaucer may have meant to convey, we can not conclude, based on these few lines, that he was aware of a custom of playing pranks on April 1st.

Poisson d’vril

Poisson d’avril

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In 1508, in a poem titled “Le livre de la deablerie” written by Eloy d’Amerval, a French choirmaster and composer might have a possible reference to April Fool’s Day. According to Wikipedia, it consists of “a dialogue between Satan and Lucifer, in which their nefarious plotting of future evil deeds is interrupted periodically by the author, who among other accounts of earthly and divine virtue, records useful information on contemporary musical practice.”

Though the poem would only be of interest to historians of music, it includes the line, “maquereau infâme de maintt homme et de mainte  femme, poisson d’vril.

The phrase “poisson d’vril” (April Fish) is the French term for an April Fool, a possible reference to the holiday when people were made fools for having paper fish placed on their backs to symbolize a gullible person or a young, easily caught fish.  However, it is unclear whether d’Amerval’s use of the term referred to April 1st specifically. He might have intended the phrase simply to mean a foolish person.

Eduard de Dene’s comical poem (1561)

In 1561, Flemish poet Eduard de Dene published a comical poem titled “Refereyn vp verzendekens dach / Twelck den eersten April te zyne plach” meaning (roughly) “Refrain on errand-day / which is the first of April.” In this poem, a nobleman who hatches a plan to send his servant on absurd errands on April 1st, supposedly to help prepare for a wedding feast. In the closing line of each stanza, the servant says, “I am afraid… that you are trying to make me run a fool’s errand.

This is a fairly clear reference to a custom of playing practical jokes on April 1st. So, we can infer that April Fool’s Day dates back at least to the sixteenth century.

Because of this reference to poet Eduard de Dene and other vague French references, historians believe that April Fool’s Day must have originated in continental northern Europe and then spread to Britain.

The changeover from Julian Calendar to Gregorian Calendar

The Romans used a complicated lunar calendar, based on the phases of the moon. A group of people decided the addition and removal of days to keep this calendar in unison with the astronomical seasons, marked by equinoxes and solstices.

Julius Caesar consulted an Alexandrian astronomer named Sosigenes and in 45 BCE, created a more regulated civil solar calendar, based on the Earth’s revolution around the Sun. In this Julian calendar, a common year had 365 days divided into 12 months with every fourth a leap year with a leap day added to the month of February.

Today, the Gregorian calendar also known as the Western or Christian Calendar is the most widely used calendar in the world. In 1582, as called for by the Council of Trent in 1563, some European Catholic countries such as France, Italy, Poland, Portugal, and Spain introduced the Gregorian calendar. However, many countries non-Catholic continued to use the Julian Calendar. Turkey was the last country to changeover officially to the Gregorian calendar on January 1, 1927, So, it took almost 300 years for all the countries to switch over to the Gregorian calendar from the Julian Calendar.

In the Middle Ages, most European towns celebrated New Year’s Day on March 25. In some areas of France, New Year’s Day was a week-long holiday ending on April 1. The use of January 1 as New Year’s Day was common in France by the mid-16th century, and this date was adopted officially in 1564 by the Edict of Roussillon.

So, according to some historians, the April Fools’ Day dates back to 1582 when people who were slow to get the news of the changeover to the Gregorian calendar from the Julian Calendar, or failed to understand the new calendar. So, those who celebrated the New Year’s Day on some other dates other January 1, became victims of the butt of jokes and hoaxes of those who celebrated New Year’s Day on January 1.

Escape of Duke of Lorraine and his wife on April 1, 1632

According to a legend, the Duke of Lorraine and his wife were imprisoned at Nantes. On April 1, 1632, disguising themselves as peasants, they escaped from the prison by walking through the front gate.  A person who recognized them told the guards about it. The guards thought the warning was a “Poisson d’vril joke and scoffed at the person who reported it.

John Aubrey (1686)

In 1686, John Aubrey, an English antiquarian, collected notes about popular customs and superstitions, as research for a contemplated work to be titled, Remains of Gentilism and Judaism. His collected notes were published posthumously. He wrote, “Fooles holy day. We observe it on ye first of April. And so it is kept in Germany everywhere.”

So by the late seventeenth century, April Fool’s Day had definitely spread to Britain.

Washing the Lions prank (1968)

The tradition of keeping animals at the Tower of London began in the 13th century when Emperor Frederic II sent three leopards to King Henry III. In the following years, elephants, lions, and even a polar bear trained to catch fish in the Thames were added to the collection.

During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, a German visitor wrote, “all variety of creatures in the Tower including three lionesses, one lion of great size called Edward VI from his having been born in that reign; a tyger; a lynx; a wolf excessively old… there is besides a porcupine, and an eagle.”

At that time, a popular traditional prank to be played on April Fool’s Day was sending gullible victims to the Tower of London to see the “washing of the lions” (a non-existent ceremony).

On April 2, 1698, a British newspaper Dawks’s News-Letter reported: “Yesterday being the first of April, several persons were sent to the Tower Ditch to see the Lions washed.”

Examples of this “washing of the lions” prank occurred as late as the mid-nineteenth century. For more about the history of this prank, see the article: Washing the Lions.

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Washing The Lions (Source: Hoaxes.org)

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The above is an image of a card printed by the late Albert Smith and distributed among his friends. It’s hard to say whether any of these cards were sold as he did not authorise the transaction nor whether any person tried to use these cards at the non-existent “White Gate.”

By the eighteenth century, one of the most popular outing for visitors to London was to visit the Tower of London to see the menagerie. However, the population of the animals declined during the early nineteenth century. In 1834, the few remaining animals were transferred to the London Zoo opened to the public in 1828 in an area of Regent’s Park.

In the 18th century, April Fools’ Day spread throughout Britain. In 1708, a correspondent wrote to the British Apollo magazine asking, “Whence proceeds the custom of making April Fools?

In Scotland, it turned into a traditional two-day event that began with “hunting the gowk,” in which people were sent on phoney errands. Gowk is a word that denotes a  cuckoo bird, a symbol for a fool.

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Tailie Day

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This was followed by Tailie Day, a prank played on people’s derrieres, such as pinning fake tails or “kick me” signs on them.

Nowadays, newspapers, radio and TV stations, and Web sites have participated in the April 1 tradition creating intricate April Fools’ Day hoaxes by reporting outrageous fictional claims to fool their audiences.

In 1957, BBC reported that Swiss farmers were experiencing a record spaghetti crop and showed footage of people harvesting noodles from trees. In fact, many viewers fell for this report.

In 1985, Sports Illustrated tricked many of its readers when it ran a cooked-up article about a rookie pitcher named Sidd Finch who could throw a fastball over 168 miles per hour.

In 1996, Taco Bell, the fast-food restaurant chain, duped people by announcing that it had agreed to purchase Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell and intended to rename it the Taco Liberty Bell.

In 1998, Burger King advertised a “Left-Handed Whopper,” and many clueless customers requested the fake sandwich.

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