Santhal tribals celebrate 'Baha' festival in Jharkhand

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Durgapur (Jharkhand), June 14 (ANI): With the local priest distributing Sal and Mahua flowers to both men and women, and tribals dancing to drum beats, the colourful festival of 'Baha' was celebrated amid traditional gaiety in Durgapur region of Jharkhand recently.

In the three-day long festival, the first day was dedicated to purification. On this day, tribals gather at the spot named 'Jatherthan' (holy grove) in their village and set up an abode for the deity. Later the priest offers prayers.

On the second day, the tribals once again gather at the 'Jatherthan' singing and dancing, and the priest after offering prayers, performs various rituals in honour of the deity and their ancestors.

The priest later visits all the houses in the village where the women wash his feet and he gives them Sal flowers as per tradition. Sal flowers have a special significance for the tribals.

"The Sal and Mahua flowers with which the priest offers the prayers and performs the rituals, are distributed and we all wear them.

Men tuck these behind their ears while the women adorn their hair with these. We sing and dance to celebrate the Santhal holi. The priest goes from house to house, where women wash his feet, he then gives them the Sal flower. This is our tribal traditional 'Baha' festival," said Lobin Murmu, President, Santhal Samiti, Durgapur.

he third and last day is that of celebration. The tribals also celebrate the 'Baha' Holi, the festival of colours, as part of their traditional heritage.

And throughout the festivities, the priest sleeps on a straw mat on a floor purified with cow dung.

The Santhals are one of the largest tribal communities of India, inhabiting the states of Jharkhand, West Bengal, Orissa, Assam and Bihar.(ANI)

Mumbai's historical David Sassoon Library and Reading Room reopens|National[Mumbai{Mumbai, June 14 (ANI): The David Sassoon Library and Reading Room that was set up in 1870 at Mumbai is a treasure trove of both knowledge and information.

The library was closed in January for renovation, and reopened on June 9 for the public with almost doubled seating arrangements.

The library has over 500 rare manuscripts and many other publications of historical relevance.

It boasts of more than 5000 members.

"Well, earlier, the reading hall had a sitting capacity of 60-65. We have almost doubled the seating capacity right now. And we also plan to make the library Wi-Fi also initiate add Internet facilities...all those procedures are in place," said Vivekanand Ajgaonkar, President, David Sassoon Library and Reading Room.

This library is open 365 days and is very popular with visitors.

However, the authorities are finding it difficult to preserve the rare books and manuscripts in the library due to paucity of funds.

"We have a collection of about 40,000 books in Indian languages as well as in English. And there are some of the books that are almost 500 of them almost are quiet rare. Because of paucity of funds we find it difficult to preserve them," said Ajgaonkar.

Incidentally, this library as well as the building housing it, feature in the list of 145 old buildings that have been declared as protected monuments and sites by the government.

Architects J. Campbell and G. E. Gosling designed it for the cott McClelland and Company,

The birth of this library is attributed to a few young mechanics working in the Royal Mint and the Bombay Dockyard in 1847. They formed a study group to share and promote knowledge.

Their objectives at that time were to set up a library and a museum of mechanical models and architectural designs, as well as to organise lectures and discussions on science and technology, thus was born the Sassoon Mechanics Institute.

Albert Sassoon, the son of David Sassoon, the famous Jew philanthropist of Baghdad, helped realize the dreams of these youngsters.

However, with the stoppage of the annual grant by the imperial government, its activities gradually came to a standstill until the institute was reduced to its present state, namely a library and a reading room.

Consequently in March 1938 the Sassoon Mechanics Institute was rechristened as David Sassoon Library and Reading Room. (ANI)

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