Wednesday, March 27, 2013

DTN News - GREETINGS: Happy Holi - Festival of Colors

DTN News - GREETINGS: Happy Holi - Festival of Colors
Source: K. V. Seth - DTN News 
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - March 27, 2013: The colorful festival of Holi is celebrated on Phalgun Purnima which comes in February end or early March. Holi festival has an ancient origin and celebrates the triumph of 'good' over 'bad'. The colorful festival bridges the social gap and renew sweet relationships. On this day, people hug and wish each other 'Happy Holi'.

Holi is the festival of colors. It's the time to spend time with our loved ones and have fun playing with colored powder, water balloons and sprinklers.

The word Holi originated from "Holika", sister of Hiranyakashipu. The festival of Holi is celebrated because of a story in the old Hindu religion. In Vaishnavism, Hiranyakashipu is the great king of demons, and he had been granted a boon by Brahma, which made it almost impossible for him to be killed. The boon was due to his long penance, after which he had demanded that he not be killed "during day or night; inside the home or outside, not on earth or in the sky; neither by a man nor an animal; neither by astra nor by shastra". Consequently, he grew arrogant and attacked the Heavens and the Earth. He demanded that people stop worshipping gods and start praising respectfully to him.

According to this belief, Hiranyakashipu's own son, Prahlada, was a devotee of Vishnu. In spite of several threats from Hiranyakashipu, Prahlada continued offering prayers to Vishnu. He was poisoned by Hiranyakashipu, but the poison turned to nectar in his mouth. He was ordered to be trampled by elephants yet remained unharmed. He was put in a room with hungry, poisonous snakes and survived. All of Hiranyakashipu's attempts to kill his son failed. Finally, he ordered young Prahlada to sit on a pyre in the lap of Holika, Hiranyakashipu's demoness sister, who also could not die because she had a boon preventing her from being burned by fire. Prahlada readily accepted his father's orders, and prayed to Lord Vishnu to keep him safe. When the fire started, everyone watched in amazement as Holika burnt to death, while Prahlada survived unharmed. The salvation of Prahlada and burning of Holika is celebrated as Holi.

In Mathura, where Krishna grew up, the festival is celebrated for 16 days (until Rangpanchmi) in commemoration of the divine love of Radha for Krishna. The festivities officially usher in spring, the celebrated season of love.

Every year, thousands of Hindus participate in the festival Holi. The festival has many purposes. First and foremost, it celebrates the beginning of the new season, spring. Originally, it was a festival that commemorated good harvests and the fertile land. Hindus believe it is a time of enjoying spring's abundant colors and saying farewell to winter. It also has a religious purpose, commemorating events present in Hindu mythology. Although it is the least religious holiday, it is probably one of the most exhilarating ones in existence. During this event, participants hold a bonfire, throw colored powder at each other, and celebrate wildly.

Rangapanchami occurs a few days later on a Panchami (fifth day of the full moon), marking the end of festivities involving colors.

The main day, Holi, also known as Dhuli in Sanskrit, or Dhulheti, Dhulandi or Dhulendi, is celebrated by people throwing scented powder and perfume at each other. Bonfires are lit on the eve of the festival, also known as Holika Dahan (burning of Holika) or Chhoti Holi (little Holi), after which holika dahan prayers are said and praise is offered. The bonfires are lit in memory of the miraculous escape that young Prahlad accomplished when Demoness Holika, sister of Hiranyakashipu, carried him into the fire. Holika was burnt but Prahlad, a staunch devotee of god Vishnu, escaped without any injuries due to his devotion. Like Holika Dahan,Kama Dahanam is celebrated in South India.

Holi is celebrated at the end of the winter season on the last full moon day of the lunar month Phalguna (February/March), (Phalgun Purnima), which usually falls in the later part of February or March. In 2009, Holi ('Dhulandi') was on March 11 and Holika Dahan was on March 10. In 2010, Holi was on March 1 and Holika Dahan was on February 28. In 2011, Holi was on March 20 and Holika Dahan was on March 19. In 2012, Holi was on March 8.

In most areas, Holi lasts about two days. Holi lowers (but does not remove completely) the strictness of social norms, which includes gaps between age, gender, status, and caste. Together, the rich and poor, women and men, enjoy each other’s presence on this day. No one expects polite behavior; as a result, the atmosphere is filled with excitement, fun and joy.

Though there have been references in Sanskrit texts to similar festivals, like ratnavali where people sprayed coloured waters using bamboo syringes, the origin of the modern Holi festival has been traced to ancient Bengal. It was a Gaudiya Vaishnav festival, in accordance to Vaishnaviya Tantra. People went to Krishna temples, applied red color to the icon and then distributed the red coloured powder or Abir along with malpua prasad to family and friends. Red signified the colour of passion and Lord Krishna is the king of desires. The ritual signified that all our desires should be diverted for the attainment of Krishna and for the well being of society.

In some cultures though, the ritual of burning wood and leaves on the full moon night already existed. This ritual was to signify the end of winter and full advent of spring. Old wood and leaves that had fallen were burnt to signify that it was time for new leaves and flowers. People then smeared their bodies with ash. Later, however, the story of Holika Dahan became associated with this ritual.

*Link for This article compiled by K. V. Seth - DTN News
*Speaking Image - Creation of DTN News ~ Defense Technology News 
*Photograph: IPF (International Pool of Friends) + DTN News / otherwise source stated
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News 

DTN News - DEFENSE NEWS: Finding Post-War Work For 20,000 MRAPs

DTN News - DEFENSE NEWS: Finding Post-War Work For 20,000 MRAPs
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources Strategy Page
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - March 27, 2013: The U.S. Army is converting 250 of its RG33 MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicles for use by combat engineers who seek out and clear roadside bombs and mines. This will cost about $150,000 per vehicle. This is part of an effort to make some use of the 20,000 MRAPs the Department of Defense bought (mainly for the army and marines) over the last decade at a cost of $45 billion. Current plans are to put at least half of these vehicles into storage. 

About ten percent of them (the oldest and most beat up) will be scrapped and the rest will be donated (to American police departments and foreign armed forces) or used for training. Some will still be used in Afghanistan as long as there are American troops there. 

The RG33 is one of over a dozen MRAP models purchased. The RG33 has four wheels and weighs 22 tons. There is a RG-33L model that has six wheels, can carry twice as many people in the back, and weighs 26 to 37 tons depending on the version.

The RG33 is part of a family of similar vehicles. The RG31 came first (in 2007). Also called Nyala, it was developed and built in South Africa. It normally costs about a million dollars each (depending on accessories) and was designed to resist landmines and roadside bombs. 

It was developed from the earlier Mamba armored personnel carrier and has an excellent track record. This wheeled (4x4) vehicle weighs eight tons and can carry up to eleven people. Some models, depending on equipment carried, only seat five.

RG32 is a smaller version of the RG31 MRAP. The RG32 is similar to armored hummers and weighs 4.5 tons. It does not have the characteristic MRAP V shaped underbody. It is bulletproof and resistant to explosions and mines (but not as much as the MRAP version). The RG32 can carry five people and is popular with peacekeepers.

The RG-33 is a mine-resistant light armored vehicle initially designed by BAE Systems Land Systems South Africa (formerly Land Systems OMC) a South African subsidiary of BAE Systems. BAE Systems in the US extensively modified it with additional protection, new power train and suspension systems. It was built in a number of locations including York, Pennsylvania, USA. It is one of several vehicles being fielded by the US Armed Forces in Iraq under the MRAP program.

*Link for This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources Strategy Page
*Speaking Image - Creation of DTN News ~ Defense Technology News 
*Photograph: IPF (International Pool of Friends) + DTN News / otherwise source stated
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News