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The Chinese Spring Lantern Festival


Myself . 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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Chinese Lantern Festival at night at ChiangKaiShek Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan (Photo: PhiloVivero)
Chinese Lantern Festival at night at ChiangKaiShek Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan (Photo: PhiloVivero)

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Nowadays, lanterns are used as general light sources outdoors. Low light level varieties are used for decoration. The term is now commonly associated with Chinese paper lanterns.

The Chinese Emperor Wu of Han the seventh emperor of the Han dynasty of China, ruling from 141–87 BC, employed poets and musicians in writing lyrics and scoring tunes for various performances. He patronized choreographers and shamans for arranging the dance movements and coordinating the spiritual and the mundane. He was fond of lavish nighttime ritual performances under brilliant lighting provided by of thousands of torches. The Emperor directed special attention to the Spring Lantern Festival. In 104 BC, he proclaimed it to be one of the most important celebrations and the ceremony would last throughout the night.

Though there are many different beliefs about the origin of the Lantern Festival, one likely origin is the celebration of “the declining darkness of winter” and community’s ability to “move about at night with human-made light,” namely, lanterns.

According to Taoist tradition, the fifteenth day of the first lunar month, Shàngyuán, corresponds to the “Official of light” who enjoys colourful and light objects.

As early as the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 25), the Chinese Lantern Festival or the Spring Lantern Festival (元宵节)] that marks the final day of the traditional Chinese New Year celebrations had become a festival with great significance.

Emperor Wen of Han (202–157 BC), the third emperor of the Han Dynasty of ancient China after subjugating the insurgency of Zhulu declared the fifteenth day of the first lunar month as the Lantern Festival. It usually falls on some day in February or March in the Gregorian calendar.

The Chinese emperor Wu of Han the seventh emperor of the Han dynasty of China, ruling from 141–87 BC, employed poets and musicians in writing lyrics and scoring tunes for various performances. He patronized choreographers and shamans for arranging the dance movements and coordinating the spiritual and the mundane. He was fond of lavish nighttime ritual performances under brilliant lighting provided by of thousands of torches. The Emperor directed special attention to the Spring Lantern Festival. In 104 BC, he proclaimed it to be one of the most important celebrations and the ceremony would last throughout the night.

So, Han Dynasty takes credit for the celebration of the Spring Lantern Festival.

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Chinese Lantern Festival at night (Source: chinatravetour.wordpress.com)
Chinese Lantern Festival at night (Source: chinatravetour.wordpress.com)

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During the Lantern Festival, children go out at night to temples carrying paper lanterns and solve riddles on the lanterns.

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Yu Yuan Snake lantern installed at Yu Garden, Shanghai (Source: httpschoolhouse.com.)
Yu Yuan Snake lantern installed at Yu Garden, Shanghai (Source: httpschoolhouse.com.)

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In ancient times, the lanterns were fairly simple, and only the emperor and noblemen had large ornate ones. In modern times, lanterns have been embellished with many complex designs many in the shape of animals. The lanterns are made almost always in red to symbolize good fortune.

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People let go the lanterns on Chinese Lantern Festival (Source: schoolhouse.com.tw)
People let go the lanterns on Chinese Lantern Festival (Source: schoolhouse.com.tw)

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When the people let go the lanterns it symbolises their letting go of their past selves and getting new ones, which they, in turn, will let go the next year.

In modern days, in Hong Kong and Taiwan, the Chinese Spring Lantern Festival is commercialized as the Chinese equivalent of Valentine’s Day.

In Singapore and Malaysia, it is simply known as the “Lantern Festival” and is becoming popular in Western countries also.

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RELATED ARTICLES

Lantern (en.wikipedia.org)

History of Lanterns (1708gallery.org)

Lanterns in Han Dynasty (traditions.cultural-china.com)

Emperor Wu of Han (en.wikipedia.org)

Lantern Festival (en.wikipedia.org)

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Paintings of “Along the River During the Qingming Festival”


Myself

By T.V. Antony Raj

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The era of Song dynasty (宋朝) that succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period in Chinese history began in 960 and continued until 1279. There are two distinct periods in the Song dynasty  – Northern and Southern.

During the Northern Song (北宋) period from 960 to 1127, the dynasty controlled most of China proper with the northern city of Bianjing (now Kaifeng) as its capital.

During the Southern Song (南宋) period from 1127 to 1279, the Song dynasty lost control of northern China in the Jin–Song Wars to the Jurchen Jin dynasty.

The Song dynasty was the first in world history to issue national bank notes or true paper money, the first Chinese regime to establish a permanent navy, and the first to use gunpowder. It was during the Song dynasty that the Chinese found the true north using a compass.

The Qing Ming Shang He Tu (simplified Chinese: 清明上河图; traditional Chinese: 清明上河圖) or “Along the River During the Qingming Festival” is a scroll painting created by the famous Chinese painter Zhang Zeduan (1085 – 1145) alias Zheng Dao who lived during the transitional period from the Northern Song to the Southern Song and was instrumental in the early history of the Chinese landscape art style known as shan shui.

This painting considered the most renowned work among all Chinese paintings dubbed as “China’s Mona Lisa” has a theme of the worldly commotion and the festive spirit during the celebration of the Qingming Festival. It encapsulates the landscape of the capital, Bianjing, today’s Kaifeng and the life of its people.

This scroll painting is 9.76 inches (24.8 cm) in height and 17.35 feet (5.287 metres) long. It depicts the bustling and lively life and beautiful natural scenery on both sides of the river that meanders through Kaifeng, the capital of the Northern Song Dynasty during the Qingming Festival. The two main portions in the painting are the countryside and the market in the densely populated city. It has more than 170 trees, 30 buildings, 814 humans, 8 sedan chairs, over 60 horses and other animals, 20 vehicles, and 28 boats.

The painting reveals the lifestyle of all levels of the society from rich to poor in successive scenes and offers glimpses of the architecture and clothing of the Song period.

For centuries, the scroll painting was a pride of the personal imperial collections of the Chinese emperors.

Aisin-Gioro Puyi, the Last Emperor (Source - Japanese magazine 'Historical Photograph,' March 1934 issue published by Rekishi-Shasin Kai)
Aisin-Gioro Puyi, the Last Emperor (Source – Japanese magazine ‘Historical Photograph,’ March 1934 issue published by Rekishi-Shasin Kai)

The original Song dynasty painting “Along the River During the Qingming Festival” was a favorite of Puyi (February 7, 1906 – October 17, 1967), also known as Henry Pu Yi, the last Emperor of China and the twelfth and final ruler of the Qing dynasty. At the end of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1945, he took it along with him when he left Beijing. It was then re-purchased and kept at the Palace Museum in the Forbidden City.

The following video describes how the original “Along the River During the Qingming Festival” painting showcased the best of life in the Song Dynasty – one of the golden ages of China.

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Remakes of the painting

Revered as a work of art, the scroll painting “Along the River During the Qingming Festival” inspired the creation of several works of art during subsequent dynasties. Court artists made re-interpretive versions of the painting by reviving and updating the style of the original. Even though each of these later paintings follow the composition and the original theme, they differ in details and painting techniques.

The Yuan version
Zhao Mengfu (1254 - 1322)
Zhao Mengfu (1254 – 1322)

During the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368), Zhao Mengfu (1254–1322) made a remarkable remake of the original,

The Ming version

Another notable remake painted during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) is 22 feet (6.7 metres) long and is longer than the original Song version.

Based on contemporary fashions and customs the Ming version replaced the scenery from the Song dynasty to that of the Ming dynasty with the costumes worn by the people updated and the styles of vehicles (boats and carts) changed.

The bridge scene in the original Qing Ming Shang He Tu painting - An oncoming boat is in danger of crashing into the bridge.
The bridge scene in the original Qing Ming Shang He Tu painting – An oncoming boat is in danger of crashing into the bridge.

In the original Song painting,  the crew of an oncoming boat have not yet fully lowered their sails and are in danger of crashing into wooden the bridge.

Men ashore guiding a boat by pulling ropes tied to it in the Ming version.
Men ashore guiding a boat by pulling ropes tied to it in the Ming version.

In the Ming version, a stone bridge with a taller arch replaced the Song wooden bridge, and men ashore guide the boat under the bridge by pulling ropes tied to it.

The Qing version

On January 15, 1737, the Qianlong Emperor received a present of a version painted by five Qing dynasty court painters (Chen Mu, Sun Hu, Jin Kun, Dai Hong and Cheng Zhidao). This Qing remake is much larger – 36 feet (11 metres) long and  1 ft 1.68 inches (35 cm) high – and has over 4,000 people in it.

While in the original Song version, the leftmost side contains images of the busy city, the leftmost third of this Qing version depicts life within the palace, with buildings and people appearing refined and elegant. Most people within the castle are women along with some well-dressed officials.

The Qianlong Emperor in his study, painting by Giuseppe Castiglione, (1688 - 1766).
The Qianlong Emperor in his study, painting by Giuseppe Castiglione, (1688 – 1766).

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In April 1742, a poem composed by the Qianlong Emperor was added to the rightmost end of the Qing remake.  The poem reads as follows:

蜀錦裝金壁   – A wall of gold has been mounted on Shu brocade.
吳工聚碎金   – Craftsmen from Wu collect spare change
謳歌萬井富 – To pay tribute to the abundance of a myriad of families.
城闕九重深  – The watchtowers of the city rise to great heights.
盛事誠觀止  – The bustling scene is truly impressive.
遺踪借探尋 – It is a chance to explore vestiges of bygone days.
當時誇豫大 – At that time, people marveled at the size of Yu,
此日歎徽欽 – And now, we lament the fates of Hui and Qin.

In 1949, the National Palace Museum in Taipei received the Qing version along with many other artifacts.

Over the centuries, many affluent Chinese treasured the original Qingming scroll. Eventually, it returned to public ownership.

The original Song dynasty painting now kept at the Palace Museum in the Forbidden City and the Qing version in the Taipei Palace Museum, are both considered national treasures and are exhibited every few years for brief periods.

The following video with narration in Chinese shows the different versions of the remakes of the “Along the River During the Qingming Festival” but uses the Ming version to explain the life of the Chinese then, in the near past, and now.

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Digital version

Logo of Shanghai World Expo 2010.

From May 1 to October 31, 2010, China hosted Expo 2010, a major World Expo,  officially known as the Expo 2010 Shanghai China in the tradition of international fairs and expositions.

A 3D animated, viewer-interactive digital version of the original “Along the River During the Qingming Festival” titled “River of Wisdom“, screened for three months was the primary exhibit at the China Pavilion. This elaborate computer animated mural about 30 times the size of the original scroll had moving characters and objects that made the painting come to life. It presented the scene in a four-minute day to night cycles. Those who reserved in advance had to queue up to two hours to see the 3D animated version.

After the Expo, the digital version was on display at the AsiaWorld–Expo in Hong Kong from November 9 to 29, 2010; at the Macau Dome in Macau from March 25 to April 14, 2011; and at the Expo Dome in Taipei, Taiwan from July 1 to September 4, 2011.

From December 7, 2011, to February 6, 2012, a digital reproduction was exhibited at the Singapore Expo titled “A Moving Masterpiece: The Song Dynasty As Living Art“.

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Captain Lakshmi Sehgal


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Captain Lakshmi Sehgal

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On July 19, 2012 Captain Lakshmi Sehgal suffered a heart attack at her residence in Civil Lines area, Kanpur. The 97-year-old, who as a young woman fought allied forces during World War II, breathed her last in a private hospital at 11:20 a.m. on July 23, 2012 due to her advanced age and multi-organ failure.

Communist Party of India (M), which she had joined in 1971, described her as an “inspiring and courageous freedom fighter, a dedicated and compassionate doctor in the service of the poor, (and) a fighter for women’s rights…

Vice President Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh condoled the death of Sehgal, saying that the nation has lost an icon of selfless service.

Who is this Captain Lakshmi? What is so special about her?

A doctor by profession, as a young woman she fought allied forces during World War II leading the women’s wing of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose‘s Indian National Army. An activist.

Childhood

She was born as Lakshmi Swaminathan on October 24, 1914 in Madras, Madras Presidency, British India, to S. Swaminathan, a lawyer who practiced criminal law at Madras High Court and A.V. Ammukutty, better known as Ammu Swaminathan, a social worker and independence activist from the prominent Vadakkath family of Anakkara in Palghat, Kerala who later became a member of independent India’s Constituent Assembly.

Lakshmi observed how the fight for political freedom was fought along the struggle for social reform in the South. Her mother, a Madras socialite became an ardent Congress supporter. One day she walked into Lakshmi’s room, took away all the child’s pretty dresses to burn in a bonfire of foreign goods.  Lakshmi also saw campaigns for political independence waged together with struggles for temple entry for Dalits and against child marriage and dowry.

Even as a child, Lakshmi had a rebellious temperament. One day at her grandmother’s house in Kerala, she walked up to a young tribal girl, held her hand and invited her to play with her. Though her conservative grandmother was extremely angry with her, Lakshmi faced it bravely. It was her first rebellion against the humiliating institution of caste.

Doctor Lakshmi

After high school in Madras, Lakshmi obtained her MBBS degree from the Madras Medical College in 1938. A year later, she received her diploma in gynaecology and obstetrics. She worked as a doctor in the Government Kasturba Gandhi Hospital at Triplicane Chennai.

Two years later at the age of 26 she left for Singapore after the failure of her marriage with pilot P.K.N. Rao.

Fall of Singapore

In 1942, Britain and its allies had imposed a trade embargo on Japan in response to its continued campaigns in China. Seeking alternate sources of necessary materials for its Pacific War against the Allies, Japan invaded Malaya. Singapore was the major British military base in Southeast Asia and nicknamed the “Gibraltar of the East”. The Japanese saw Singapore as a port which could be used as a launch pad against other Allied interests in the area.

15 February 1942 – Lieutenant-General Percival and his party carry the Union flag on their way to surrender Singapore to the Japanese. Left to Right: Major Cyril Wild (carrying white flag) interpreter; Brigadier T. K. Newbigging (carrying the Union flag) Chief Administrative Officer, Malaya Command; Lieutenant-Colonel Ichiji Sugita; Brigadier K. S. Torrance, Brigadier General Staff Malaya Command; Lieutenant General Arthur Percival, General Officer Commanding, Malaya Command.

The Empire of Japan invaded the Allied stronghold of Singapore on February 9, 1942. The fighting lasted a week. In just seven days, Singapore, the “Impregnable Fortress”, fell to the Japanese that resulted in the largest surrender of British-led military personnel in history. About 80,000 British, Indian and Australian troops became prisoners of war, joining 50,000 taken by the Japanese in their Malayan Campaign.

Indian National Army

Lakshmi attended the wounded prisoners of war, many of whom interested in forming an Indian liberation army and young Lakshmi got drawn to the freedom struggle to liberate India from the British rule.

At this time in Singapore, there were many nationalist Indians like N. Raghavan, K. P. Kesava Menon, S. C. Guha, and others, who formed a Council of Action.  The aim of their Indian National Army (INA) or Azad Hind Fauj was to liberate India from the British occupation with the help of the Japanese. Initially composed of Indian prisoners of war captured by Japan in the Malayan campaign and at Singapore, it later drew volunteers from Indian expatriate population in Malaya and Burma. However the INA received no firm commitments or approval from the occupying Japanese forces about their participation in the war.  At this juncture the arrival of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose in Singapore on July 2, 1943 ended this moratorium.

Captain Lakshmi

In the next few days, at all his public meetings, “Netaji” spoke of his determination to raise a women’s regiment which would “fight for Indian Independence and make it complete”.  Lakshmi met Netaji in Singapore and had a five-hour interview that resulted in a mandate to set up a women’s regiment, “the Rani of Jhansi regiment. ” There was a huge response from young women to join this all-women brigade and Dr. Lakshmi Swaminathan became Captain Lakshmi, a name and identity that stayed with her for life.

In December 1944, the march to Burma began. In March 1945, just before the entry of their armies into Imphal, the INA leadership took the decision to retreat. In May 1945, the British army arrested Lakshmi. She remained under house arrest in the jungles of Burma until March 1946. She arrived in India amidst the popular hatred of colonial rule, intensified by the INA trials in Delhi.

Captain Lakshmi  Sehgal

In March 1947, Captain Lakshmi married Col. Prem Kumar Sehgal, a leading figure of the INA. The couple moved from Lahore to Kanpur, where she plunged into her medical practice, working among the flood of refugees who had come from the newly formed Pakistan. She earned the trust and gratitude of both Hindus and Muslims. Even at the age of 92, she saw her patients every morning.

Bangladesh Liberation War

The Bangladesh Liberation War started on March 26, 1971 between the State of Pakistan and East Pakistan. India intervened on December 3, 1971. Armed conflict ended on December 16, 1971 resulted in the secession of East Pakistan, which became the independent nation of Bangladesh. Refugee camps were set up in the border areas in West Bengal.

Lakshmi’s daughter Subhashini had joined the CPI(M) in early 1970s brought to her mother’s attention an appeal from Jyoti Basu for doctors and medical supplies for Bangladeshi refugee camps. Captain Lakshmi left for Calcutta, carrying clothes and medicines, to work for the next five weeks in the border areas.

After her return Lakshmi applied for membership in the CPI(M). For the 57-year old doctor, joining the Communist Party was “like coming home.” “My way of thinking was already communist, and I never wanted to earn a lot of money, or acquire a lot of property or wealth,” she had said.

AIDWA

Captain Lakshmi was one of the founding members of All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) formed in 1981. She later led many of its activities and campaigns.

After the Bhopal gas tragedy in December 1984, she led a medical team to the city; years later she wrote a report on the long-term effects of the gas on pregnant women.

She was out on the streets in Kanpur, during the anti-Sikh riots that followed Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination in 1984, confronting anti-Sikh mobs and ensuring the safety of Sikh or Sikh establishments in the crowded area near her clinic.

In 1996, she got arrested for her participation in a campaign by AIDWA against the Miss World competition held in Bangalore.

Presidential candidate

In 2002, the Left fielded Captain Lakshmi as their presidential candidate against Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam. During her whirlwind campaign across the country, she addressed huge crowds at public meetings. She frankly admitted that she did not stand a chance of winning and she used her platform to publicly condemn a political system that allowed the growth of poverty and injustice.

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Photography through the Night – Part 4/5


Compiled by Art-profiles.com

This is part 4 of the 5 episodes of Photography through the Night.

Low light levels make night photography a challenging yet rewarding subject. The best results require specialized equipment, like SLR cameras, tripods, cable releases and flashguns. After sunset, the everyday world is magically transformed, and city buildings, fireworks, thunderstorms and the northern lights all become popular subjects.

Let’s see some more captures by great photographers..

Another late night Drive by John A Ryan
#37 – Another late night Drive
by John A Ryan


The Glass House by darklogan1
#38 – The Glass House
by darklogan1


Candelária Nights by Leonardo Paris
#39 – Candelária Nights
by Leonardo Paris


Pigeon Point Lighthouse by Susanne Friedrich
#40 – Pigeon Point Lighthouse
by Susanne Friedrich


Aurorus Reflectus Colosseo by Stuck in Customs
#41 – Aurorus Reflectus Colosseo
by Stuck in Customs


Railway by mara-mara
#42 – Railway
by mara-mara


Night Walk by Gerrit Wenz
#43 – Night Walk
by Gerrit Wenz


Milan Train Station at Midnight by Stuck in Customs
#44 – Milan Train Station at Midnight
by Stuck in Customs


Capitol View by Todd Klassy
#45 – Capitol View
by Todd Klassy


Invisible Sun by jrtce1
#46 – Invisible Sun
by jrtce1


ExPort by VJ Spectra
#47 – ExPort
by VJ Spectra


Night at Loch Lomond by guillaume-dauphin
#48 – Night at Loch Lomond
by guillaume-dauphin

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Photography through the Night – Part 3/5


Compiled by Art-profiles.com

This is part 3 of the 5 episodes of Photography through the Night.

Low light levels make night photography a challenging yet rewarding subject. The best results require specialized equipment, like SLR cameras, tripods, cable releases and flashguns. After sunset, the everyday world is magically transformed, and city buildings, fireworks, thunderstorms and the northern lights all become popular subjects.

Let’s see some more captures by great photographers…


#25 Positron - by Kamuro
#25 – Positron
by Kamuro


Night Life by marcelgermain
#26 – Night Life
by marcelgermain


Singapore by Christopher Chan
#27 – Singapore
by Christopher Chan


Sydney Opera House by shrillian
#28 – Sydney Opera House
by shrillian


The Louvre at Night by dealived
#29 – The Louvre at Night
by dealived


OAKA Main Entrance View  by NikGr
#30 – OAKA Main Entrance View
by NikGr


Ghent by night by nonkelduvel
#31 – Ghent by night
by nonkelduvel


Florence Night scene by choongcheehuei
#32 – Florence Night scene
by choongcheehuei


Manarola by VJ Spectra
#33 – Manarola
by VJ Spectra


Blue Hour by веканд
#34 – Blue Hour
by веканд
Symphony by VJ Spectra
#35 – Symphony
by VJ Spectra


Shoot that Bridge by tomalu
#36 – Shoot that Bridge
by tomalu
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A Wedding Video and Sanctity of Marriage.


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Just ask yourself how many times you would have watched a wedding video of another person – once, twice, thrice?

More often, we do not relish watching the wedding videos of relatives and friends, more than once, and that too, by feigning interest and hiding our boredom, merely to keep them happy.

One and a half million views on YouTube
One and a half million views on YouTube

Of late, I watched two wedding video clips of a (Jaffna?) Tamil Hindu couple Dilip and Mohana,  posted on YouTube, with mixed apprehension.

This marriage took place on February 12, 2012 at Sree Maha Mariamman Temple in Singapore. A week later, on February 19, Mohana Rajan, the bride, uploaded two video clips to YouTube.  The first clip shows the groom, Dilip Kumar, entering the wedding hall and the second shows the bride, Mohana Rajan’s entrance.

So far, as of March 19, 2012, the video clip of the entrance made by the groom has had 563,631 views and the video clip of the  bride’s entrance has a record-breaking 1,536,902 views. Above all, a fan page created on Facebook under the name “Dilip Kumar Mohana Rajan” has scored hundreds of likes and many are talking about this wedding.

What is so unique about these clips? To answer this question you must see the clips. Click on the following images to view the videos:

Video #1: Unique Entrance made by the Groom

Dilip Kumar with friends (from the Facebook page "Dilip Kumar Mohana Rajan").
Dilip Kumar with friends (from the Facebook page “Dilip Kumar Mohana Rajan”). Click the image to view video: “Unique Entrance made by the Groom – Karuppu perazhaga”.

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Video # 2: Unique Entrance made by the Bride

Bride Mohana with friends (from the Facebook page "Dilip Kumar Mohana Rajan")
Bride Mohana with friends (from the Facebook page “Dilip Kumar Mohana Rajan”) Click the image to view video: “Unique Entrance made by the Bride”

In an interview given to OLI 96.8FM, Singapore, Mohana Rajan says that she is a Bharatha Natyam dancer and wanted to make her wedding a memorable one, and Dilip Kumar relented to her wish.

These two video clips have produced mixed reactions from viewers. In fact, there are around 144 comments for groom’s entrance and 626 comments for the bride’s entrance on YouTube.

Some praise the clips while those who uphold the sanctity of marriage and wish to follow religious traditions censure them.

One Facebook commentator says,

You guys had a grand fun entrance to your wedding and definitely put on a smile on more than a million faces.. What a blessed way to start your journey of togetherness. Have a blessed married life! (sic) “

Another person comments in YouTube:

Jaffna low caste culture is not considered as Tamil culture. Indian cinema culture destroying pure Jaffna Tamil culture. These kinds of people should be outcasted from society. Ada thuuuuuu. (sic)”

Another comment in YouTube reads:

I really liked the dancing.. just feeling bad that my Tamil culture is extremely ruined. You could have danced in your reception instead. You just forgot that it has a meaning to wear saari and all those traditional stuffs while during the wedding. You didn’t give any meaning to yours instead made it funny. I respect your freedom but think on your own. There is no need to do a Tamil traditional wedding if you don’t believe on it or want to make fun of it. I respect my culture, so do many! (sic)”

You might be intending to ask me what I think about this incident.

Well, I am a Tamil and a Catholic and I believe in the sacrament and sanctity of marriage and wish to uphold the Tamil traditions.  Not only Christians, but all religions agree and preach what I firmly believe.

This couple follows Hinduism, which like Buddhism, is not a religion in the sense, Judaism, Christianity or Islam are. Hinduism like Buddhism is a way of life.

Thousands of years ago Samskaras or sacraments were instituted in Hinduism to bring sanctity and stability to the lives of the people and to integrate their personalities with the society they were born in. The ancient seers and sages, endowed with the sacred knowledge, made it their bounden duty to transform the crude animal that we were, into Homo sapiens, with the help of the Samskaras. In Hindu rituals, life is a cycle. From the birth to death a person undergoes 16 Samskaras; and marriage is one of the most important among them.

The rich, noble heritage of Hindu ethos proclaims that the sacrament of marriage impresses upon a person that earthly life should not be despised; rather it should consciously be accepted and raised to the level of a spiritual existence.

Hindu families live all over the world.  Though some live outside India, they all have strong ties with the Hindu culture and way of life as practiced in India, and feel that they should, on such important occasions in life, such as marriage, perform the Samskara in the traditional Hindu way by availing the rich, noble heritage of Hindu thought, ritual and tradition.

Gatherings of near and dear ones, and reception parties – large or small, most certainly enhance the pleasures of the occasion and the joy of a wedding. However, the Hindu marriage ceremony like the Judaic, Christian, and Islamic, is an ennobling sacrament, and in my humble opinion, it is advisable to perform the marriage rites irrespective of religion in a serene atmosphere without much banal pomp and pageantry.

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