New Delhi [India], February 15 (ANI): Basant Panchami, also known as ‘Vasant Panchami’, marks the arrival of the spring season in India. The day will be celebrated on February 16 this year. While, this occasion marks the day to worship the deity of knowledge, music, and arts in Hindus, the lesser-known fact is that this day has significance in Sikh and Muslim religions too.
ANI spoke to the head priests and spiritual leaders to find about the significance of the special day and how it is celebrated across India.
Mahant Vikas Sharma, head priest of Hanuman Mandir, Connaught Place told ANI, “When Brahmadev created this universe, it was beautiful but silent. After Lord Narayana requested Brahmadev to bestow the universe with its voice, he sprinkled water from his kamandal and henceforth deity Saraswati originated.”
“It was Magh Panchami date according to Hindu shastra when she originated. After that, the universe got its first voice,” he added.
Reflecting back to ancient times, Mahant also told that students at Gurukuls were taught their first word on this day, the same way students nowadays learn the alphabet ‘A’ in their nursery class.
Associated with yellow colour, the festival of Basant Panchami also marks the start of preparation for Holika and Holi, which occurs nearly 40 days later.
Mahant Vikas Sharma also told the story behind the importance of colour yellow and said, “Yellow and white colour are given preference on this day to please Goddess Saraswati. Mata Saraswati’s favourite colour is yellow and white, in Hindu shastra, this colour is referred to as ‘Gyan Chakra’, the colour of knowledge”.
Basant Panchmi, the prominent festival of Hindus, was adopted by Indian Muslim Sufis in the 12th century to mark the grave of the Muslim Sufi saint dargah of Nizamuddin Aulia in Delhi and ever since, has been observed by the Chishti order.
Speaking about the significance and history of the day, Head Malawi, Nizamuddin Dargah told ANI, “Nizamuddin Aulia went in depression after his son-like nephew died. Amir Khusrau saw Hindu women dressed in the yellow ensemble were carrying yellow flowers to a temple on Basant Panchami. He adopted this practice, got dressed in yellow, and started singing in order to bring Nizamuddin Aulia back to his senses.”
“This act of him brought the smile back on Nizamuddin Aulia’s face. Hence to celebrate this day, Basant Panchami is celebrated by the Muslim religion too,” he added.
On the other hand, Namdhari Sikhs have also celebrated Basant Panchami to mark the beginning of spring. Other Sikhs treat it as a spring festival, and joyfully celebrate it by wearing yellow coloured clothes, emulating the bright yellow mustard flowers in the fields.
Giani Gurnek Singh, the Granthi of Delhi Gurudwara, Sri Gurmat Prachar Sabha said, “Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the founder of the Sikh Empire, encouraged the celebration of Basant Panchami as a social event. He used to give 2,000 rupees to the Harmandir Sahib Gurdwara in Amritsar to distribute food.”
The annual Basant fair was also celebrated during 1825 CE. “Maharaja Ji would also hold a darbar on Basant Panchami where soldiers would dress in yellow and show their military powers, he added.
In the southern states of India, the festival is celebrated as Sri Panchami. Yagnas are done in schools and colleges as students celebrate with great sincerity and fervour. It is believed that Goddess Saraswati bestows her devotees with lots of wisdom, learning, and knowledge, as the goddess is considered to be the epitome of wisdom.
Students and teachers wear new clothes, offer prayers to the goddess of knowledge, and various programs of song and dance are organised to please her. Usually, toddlers start learning from this day in a unique ceremony named ‘Khadi-Chuan’/Vidya-Arambha. (ANI)
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‘Bharatiya naari sab pe bhaari’: Varun Dhawan’s special post for Women’s Day features wife Natasha
New Delhi [India], March 9 (ANI): On the occasion of International Women’s Day, Bollywood actor Varun Dhawan dedicated a heartfelt post to the ladies in his life with pictures never shared earlier.
The ‘Student Of The Year’ shared a set of adorable pictures on Instagram that features him happily posing with his wife Natasha Dalal, his mother Karuna Dhawan, his sister-in-law, and his niece.
Taking to the captions, he wrote, “Happy women’s day. Bharatiya naari sab pe bhaari. It’s great that we all post pictures on social media and make this day special but the real job will be done when we actually make our country safe for women.”
The recent post contains all the unseen pictures which Varun has shared by himself for the first time on his social media. But what hogged the attention is his first picture with his wife Natasha after their marriage.
The couple got hitched on January 24, this year in a private affair that took place at The Mansion House, an exotic beach resort, in Alibaug.
Varun and Natasha stunned in ivory ensembles for their big day, which was attended by close family members and friends. A few other celebrities including filmmaker Kunal Kohli and fashion designer Manish Malhotra also attended the wedding festivities.
The couple reportedly knew each other since their school days. The two fell in love when they met at a music concert years later. However, the duo has always kept their relationship low-key. Varun publicly acknowledged that he is dating Natasha when he posted a photo featuring himself with his girlfriend on her birthday in 2019.
Meanwhile, on the work front, Varun was last seen in his father David Dhawan’s ‘Coolie No.1’, co-starring Sara Ali Khan. The actor will be next seen in ‘Jug Jugg Jeeyo’ alongside Anil Kapoor, Kiara Advani, and Neetu Kapoor. He also has Dinesh Vijan’s horror-comedy flick ‘Bhediya’ with Kriti Sanon in the pipeline (ANI)
Prince Harry reveals racism in UK was the reason for him leaving country with Meghan Markle
Washington [US], March 9 (ANI): During a recent interview with American talk show host Oprah Winfrey, Prince Harry opened up about the reason for relocating to the US from UK with wife Meghan Markle.
According to Variety, the Duke of Sussex revealed that racism in UK was the “main reason” which drove him and wife Meghan Markle to US.
When asked by the show host Winfrey, “Did you leave the country because of racism?”
Prince Harry, after a long pause admitted, “It was a large part of it.”
Harry also reminisced about an incident to support his claim and said, “One of the people at that dinner said to me, ‘Please don’t do this with the media. They will destroy your life.’ This person is friends with a lot of the editors. And I said, ‘So just to elaborate what do you mean by that?’ Obviously I knew.”
“He said, ‘You need to understand that the U.K. is very bigoted.’ And I stopped and I said, ‘The U.K.’s not bigoted — the U.K. press is bigoted, specifically the tabloids. Is that what you mean?’ And he goes, ‘No, the U.K.’s bigoted.’ And I said, ‘I completely disagree.’ But unfortunately if the source of information is inherently corrupt or racist or biased, then that filters out to the rest of society,” Harry added.
Variety reported that in the 200 minute long interview the Prince also spilled the beans of what happened to the couple after they announced their decision to step away from the Royal family.
He disclosed that the plans for them to meet with his grandmother, the Queen, abruptly changed, with the monarch’s engagements diary suddenly filling up and her being “busy all week.”
The 36-year-old Duke also told that there were no apologies from the Royal family about the reasons that the couple decided to leave.
“The feeling is that it was our decision and therefore the consequences are on us,” said Harry.
“It’s been really hard, because I’m part of the system with them, I always have been, but I am very aware of this, that my brother can’t leave that system, but I have,” he concluded.
Reportedly, Harry and Meghan’s last public appearance with the royals was at the Westminster Abbey Commonwealth service on March 9 after hammering out their ‘Megxit’ deal.
The couple who is expecting their second child, had since relocated to Montecito, California with their 1-year-old son Archie. (ANI)
Taapsee Pannu, Mithali Raj urge women to stand up, challenge the norm and take charge of their own stories
New Delhi [India], March 9 (ANI): Icons from Bollywood and cricket, Taapsee Pannu and Mithali Raj, came together to share a message on International Women’s Day urging women to stand up, challenge the norm and take charge of their own stories.
With Taapsee all geared up to play Mithali on the silver screen in Viacom18 Studio’s upcoming ‘Shabaash Mithu’, the duo collaborated to give a powerful performance on a script written by Priya Aven.
With the initiative ‘Shabaash Mithu, Shabaash You’, the women’s day special video sees the ‘Pink’ actor and Mithali encouraging women from all walks of life to take charge of their own lives.
Emphasizing on the gender before the roles, Taapsee is heard saying, “Today, I am not afraid because I know I am speaking to a girl who doesn’t look away..”
“Girl don’t close your eyes, don’t look away. Choose to challenge every old fashioned way,” she continued.
Bollywood actor Taapsee Pannu, who will soon treat movie buffs to ‘Shabaash Mithu’, a biopic based on the life of Indian cricketer Mithali Raj, has been training and shooting for the film.
For her forthcoming movie, Taapsee is training under coach Nooshin Al Khadeer. Speaking about her role, Taapsee said that it is a ‘huge challenge’ for her as she has never played cricket but only watched the sport.
Taapsee said, “I’ve never played the game before, have just been a spectator and a hyperventilating fan of the game. Being on the other side is going to be a huge challenge I’ve thrown at myself. But I feel pressure brings out the best in me. This is probably that one common trait I can identify between me and Mithali.”
Directed by Rahul Dholakia and written by Priya Aven, ‘Shabaash Mithu’ revolves around the life of Mithali Raj, the captain of the Indian women’s cricket team. The film is being produced by Viacom18 Studios.
Apart from ‘Shabaash Mithu’, Taapsee is currently shooting for ‘Looop Lapeta’, a remake of the German hit ‘Run Lola Run’. On Wednesday, the actor had shared pictures of herself at the airport and on the flight, writing, “Now ready to looop it up in Goa! Last schedule of #loooplapeta.”
Apart from ‘Looop Lapeta’ and ‘Shabaash Mithu’, Taapsee’s impressive line-up of films also includes ‘Haseen Dillruba’, ‘Rashmi Rocket’ and a sci-fi thriller ‘Dobaaraa’ directed by Anurag Kashyap. (ANI)
Crowd of fans hinder Varun Dhawan’s ‘Bhediya’ shoot in Arunachal Pradesh
Itanagar (Arunachal Pradesh) [India], March 8 (ANI): The eagerness of fans to catch a glimpse of the stars interrupted the shooting of the Varun Dhawan and Kriti Sanon starring horror-comedy film ‘Bhediya’ on Sunday night.
The shoot of Varun Dhawan’s upcoming horror-comedy flick ‘Bhediya’ was interrupted by his fans at Sagalee Ground in Arunachal Pradesh as they got excited to catch a glimpse of him.
In a video, going viral on the internet, the ‘Badlapur’ actor is seen climbing n top of a car while requesting the crowd to let them resume the shoot.
Varun is heard appealing to fans to maintain peace.
He said, “Thode time ke liye humlog hai idhar. Bohot time ke liye hai. Toh hopefully, shooting jab khatam hota hai toh main aap sab se mil paunga (We will be here for quite some time. Hopefully, once the shooting ends, I will be able to meet you all).”
A few days after disclosing details of their horror-comedy project together, Varun and Kriti had landed in Arunachal Pradesh to shoot for the first schedule of their film ‘Bhediya’.
Before getting their film on floors, the entire team met Pema Khandu, honourable Chief Minister of the state. Minister of home and interstate affairs Bamang Felix, Chief secretary Naresh Kumar, Commissioner to HCM- Sonam Chombey were also present during the meeting.
The horror-comedy drama ‘Bhediya’ will mark the ‘Badlapur’ star and ‘Heropanti’ star’s third collaboration with each other after sharing screen spaces in 2015 rom-com ‘Dilwale’ and 2019 ‘Kalank’.
‘Bhediya’ will bring together the dynamic duo of producer Dinesh Vijan and director Amar Kaushik, who also helmed the 2018 blockbuster movie ‘Stree’. Starring Kriti Sanon, Varun Dhawan, Abhishek Banerjee, and Deepak Dobriyal, the story is written by National Award Winner, Niren Bhatt who also wrote intriguing scripts for ‘Bala’, ‘Made In China’, ‘Wrong Side Raju’.
The film is slated to release in cinemas on April 14, 2022. (ANI)
Amazon Prime Video announces original series ‘Hush Hush’, an all-female led series
Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], March 8 (ANI): On the occasion of International Women’s Day, Amazon Prime Video is all set to announce its upcoming series ‘Hush Hush’ (working title), led by an all-women cast and crew.
Not only is Amazon Original ‘Hush Hush’ (working title) a story with strong female protagonists, but it is also helmed by some of the finest female talent behind the camera.
Filmmaker Tanuja Chandra (‘Qarib Qarib Singlle’, ‘Dushman’, ‘Sangharsh’ fame) will serve as the Creative Director and Executive Producer, and Shikhaa Sharma screenwriter of ‘Shakuntala Devi’, ‘Toilet – Ek Prem Katha’, ‘Sherni’ will double as Executive Producer and original story writer.
Kopal Nathani, one of the most promising names in the advertising films industry will direct episodes in the show. National Award-winning writer Juhi Chaturvedi (‘Gulabo Sitabo’ and ‘Piku’) has been roped in to pen the dialogues for the series written by Ashish Mehta.
The series will be produced by Vikram Malhotra’s Abundantia Entertainment which is the production house behind ‘Breathe, Breathe: Into the Shadows’, ‘Shakuntala Devi’, and ‘Airlift’.
‘Hush Hush’ (working title) marks the digital debut of award-winning Indian movie star Juhi Chawla as well as that of Ayesha Jhulka with leading ladies Soha Ali Khan, Karishma Tanna, Shahana Goswami and Kritika Kamra will also be playing pivotal roles in this thriller-drama.
With a unique female gaze at its core, ‘Hush Hush’ propels forward the movement of women telling their own stories. The drama features an almost all-female crew, right from the Production Designer, Costume Designer, Surpervising Producer, Co-producers, to Art, Costume, Production Coordination to even the Security Team!
Speaking on the greenlight announcement Tanuja Chandra, creative director and executive producer of ‘Hush Hush’ (working title), said, “Video streaming in India has brought about a significant change in storytelling by pushing female narratives to the fore and I couldn’t be more pleased! It’s what directors like me have waited for.”
“Amazon Prime Video and Abundantia Entertainment, both have been bringing diverse and authentic women’s stories to audiences in India and abroad for a while now and I’m thrilled to join forces with them for Hush Hush to create something with this wonderful team that I hope will be truly special,” she added.
Prime members in India and across 240 countries and territories will be able to stream ‘Hush Hush’ (working title) exclusively on Amazon Prime Video.
The release date has still been kept under wraps. (ANI)
Night shift work may increase cancer risk, says study
Washington [US], March 8 (ANI): A new study conducted by researchers at Washington State University has found new clues as to why night shift workers may be at increased risk of developing certain types of cancer compared to those who work regular daytime hours.
Findings suggest that night shifts disrupt natural 24-hour rhythms in the activity of certain cancer-related genes, making night shift workers more vulnerable to DNA damage while also causing the body’s DNA repair mechanisms to be mistimed to deal with that damage.
Published online in the Journal of Pineal Research, the study involved a controlled laboratory experiment that used healthy volunteers who were on simulated night shift or day shift schedules.
Though more research still needs to be done, these discoveries could someday be used to help prevent and treat cancer in night shift workers.
“There has been mounting evidence that cancer is more prevalent in night shift workers, which led the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer to classify night shift work as a probable carcinogenic,” said co-corresponding author Shobhan Gaddameedhi, an associate professor formerly with the WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and now with North Carolina State University’s Biological Sciences Department and Center for Human Health and the Environment.
“However, it has been unclear why night shift work elevates cancer risk, which our study sought to address.”
As part of a partnership between the WSU Sleep and Performance Research Center and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Gaddameedhi and other WSU scientists worked with bioinformatics experts at PNNL to study the potential involvement of the biological clock, the body’s built-in mechanism that keeps us on a 24-hour night and day cycle.
Though there is a central biological clock in the brain, nearly every cell in the body also has its own built-in clock. This cellular clock involves genes known as clock genes that are rhythmic in their expression, meaning their activity levels vary with the time of day or night. The researchers hypothesized that the expression of genes associated with cancer might be rhythmic, too, and that night shift work might disrupt the rhythmicity of these genes.
To test this, they conducted a simulated shift work experiment that had 14 participants spend seven days inside the sleep laboratory at WSU Health Sciences Spokane. Half of them completed a three-day simulated night shift schedule, while the other half were on a three-day simulated day shift schedule.
After completing their simulated shifts, all participants were kept in a constant routine protocol that is used to study humans’ internally generated biological rhythms independent of any external influences.
As part of the protocol, they were kept awake for 24 hours in a semi-reclined posture under constant light exposure and room temperature and were given identical snacks every hour. Every three hours a blood sample was drawn.
Analyses of white blood cells taken from the blood samples showed that the rhythms of many of the cancer-related genes were different in the night shift condition compared to the day shift condition. Notably, genes related to DNA repair that showed distinct rhythms in the day shift condition lost their rhythmicity in the night shift condition.
The researchers then looked at what the consequences of the changes in the expression of cancer-related genes might be. They found that white blood cells isolated from the blood of night shift participants showed more evidence of DNA damage than those of day shift participants.
What’s more, after the researchers exposed isolated white blood cells to ionizing radiation at two different times of day, cells that were radiated in the evening showed increased DNA damage in the night shift condition as compared to the day shift condition.
This meant that white blood cells from night shift participants were more vulnerable to external damage from radiation, a known risk factor for DNA damage and cancer.
“Taken together, these findings suggest that night shift schedules throw off the timing of expression of cancer-related genes in a way that reduces the effectiveness of the body’s DNA repair processes when they are most needed,” said co-corresponding author Jason McDermott, a computational scientist with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s Biological Sciences Division.
The researchers’ next step is to conduct the same experiment with real-world shift workers who have been consistently on day or night shifts for many years to determine whether in night workers the unrepaired DNA damage builds up over time, which could ultimately increase the risk of cancer.
If what happens in real-world shift workers is consistent with the current findings, this work could eventually be used to develop prevention strategies and drugs that could address the mistiming of DNA repair processes.
It could also be the basis for strategies to optimize the timing of cancer therapy so that treatment is administered when effectiveness is greatest and side effects are minimal, a procedure called chronotherapy that would need to be fine-tuned to the internal rhythms of night workers.
“Nightshift workers face considerable health disparities, ranging from increased risks of metabolic and cardiovascular disease to mental health disorders and cancer,” said co-senior author Hans Van Dongen, a professor in the WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine and director of the WSU Sleep and Performance Research Center.
“It is high time that we find diagnosis and treatment solutions for this underserved group of essential workers so that the medical community can address their unique health challenges.” (ANI)
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