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A green dargah 30/03/2010
The famous Ajmer Sharif dargah in Rajasthan is being turned into an eco-friendly shrine with new initiatives. Rekha Pal reports

The holy and world-famous Ajmer Sharif dargah in Ajmer, Rajasthan, is finally getting an eco-friendly makeover. From switching to solar power electrification to recycling the mazaar flowers to make itr (perfume), it is perhaps the first shrine in the world to go green.

Dargah Sharif or the Holy Dargah is one of the most sacred Muslim shrines in India. Revered by both Hindus and Muslims, it is the tomb of Khwaja Moin-ud-din Chisti, a Sufi saint who came from Persia and devoted his life to the service and uplift of the poor and downtrodden. Khwaja Sahib arrived in Ajmer at the age of 52 around 1190 AD on his divine mission, unique in the annals of Islam. He mad...

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Musical heritage of India in word 29/03/2010
The word 'encyclopaedia' immediately conjures up in mind an authentic ready- reference tome for researchers and for those interested on the subject. In this context the just launched three volume The Oxford Encyclopaedia of the Music of India is a truly well of knowledge on the great tradition of music in the country from the hoary past to the present day.

The volume was launched in Kolkata by renowned sarod player Buddhadev Das Gupta at the British Council premises in presence of connoisseurs, artistes and researchers.

The volumes cover from the historical background of the Indian musical tradition going back to 2000 years and to the present with 5000 in-depth entries, contributed by eminent artistes , scholars and musicologists.

They embrace all areas of music- dance, raga, tala, technical terms and instruments - the whole gamut.

Folk music from different regions of India has not been neglected either. It is well-accepted that cultural interchange goes beyond the geographical borders and the influences coalesce through centuries.

Thus India's neighbouring countries- Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka share a commonality in the sub-continent. The musical traditions of these countries have been thoughtfully included in the encyclopaedia.

The ext...

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Air Force band regales Delhiites 29/03/2010
The visitors to the Central Park at Connaught Place in New Delhi on Saturday evening were pleasantly surprised as they walked in, because there was playing, the Indian Air Force Band, especially for the general public.

The Saturday evening at Central Park, that kickstarted with the band playing 'Ae Mere Watan Ke Logon' became an enormous crowd puller when the band, besides playing its usual repertoire also started playing the audience requests.

As the musical evening wore on, one melody started being belted out after another.

The rapt audience seemed to thoroughly enjoy the ambience created by tunes that ranged from the soulful 'Havana' to the sensational 'Waka Waka'; 'Dancing Queen' to 'Zubi Doobi' to 'Kaisi Kaise Paheli Zindagani' and many other musical scores by the popular choice.

From the earliest times, mus...

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Refugee kids dream of return to an isle of peace 05/12/2009
"In the evening, the sun goes home... when will we go home? " asks seven-year-old D. Sarika from the Azhiyanilai refugee camp in Tamil Nadu's Pudukottai district in a drawing she has made.

For more than 19, 000 children under 12, growing up in 117 refugee camps across Tamil Nadu, home is where they have never been. Home is where their parents abandoned hearts and hearths as tanks rolled into village after village and terror-stricken Tamils fled.

They dream of returning home but not, of course, to a strife-torn Sri Lanka. They dream, perhaps even more ambitiously, of returning to a peace that the north of Sri Lanka has not known for three decades.

Says Vijayakumar from the Nagavathyannai camp, in a message with his painting: "When peace came to our Tamil homeland, there was happiness, many coloured flags waved, people came out in large numbers. The Yarl Devi train started running again from Jaffna to Colombo. Our hopes were high. We who had lived as refugees returned to our native villages. But when we thought we could have peace of mind, came news of war and fear has returned. Oh. When will there be peace in our country? "

These children were all born and brought up across the Palk Strait...

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Birds can tweak their evolutionary fate by feeding 05/12/2009
Birds can tweak their evolution with the seemingly innocent pastime of feeding, says a new study.

For instance, this feeding habit became instrumental in splitting a single population of blackcaps into two reproductively isolated groups in less than 30 generations, even though they continue to breed side by side in the very same forests.

The reproductive isolation between these populations, which live together for part of the year, is now stronger than that of other blackcaps that are always separated from one another by distances of 800 km or more, the study said.

The split that the researchers observed followed the recent establishment of a migratory divide between southwest- and northwest-migrating blackcap (Sylv...

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