Posts Tagged ‘History

19
May
12

May 1st: a public holiday, named “Labour Day”

‘May Day’ is a name that relates to some public holidays that occurs in many different countries in the world, for some May 1st is ‘Labour Day’, for others 1st of May is ‘Workers Day’ but for many it’s also the day of the Lily of the Valley flower that is supposed to bring happiness to those who get a bunch of this lovely flower. To honor this holiday, I’m publishing some pictures of people at work in one of my favorite destinations in the world, the Republic of Nepal.

In many European countries, May 1st is ‘Labour Day’, which is a bank holiday. Workers will take part to ‘Labour Day’ parades, political demonstrations and special celebrations with Trade Unions.  Let’s take the example of May 1st events in Belgium, which is my home country. Christian and Social Union members will gather in the morning or in the afternoon. Their ‘Labour Day’ activities include walking down the streets, holding red, orange or green flags (colors of their Trade Unions or political parties), claiming more rights for workers, requiring solutions to overcome the financial and economical crisis. At the end of the day, they will end up drinking a beer and meeting some of our politicians.

In some other countries, May 1st is ‘International Worker’s Day’ instead, as their own ‘Labour Day’ occurs on another day of the year. But then again, political and union celebrations will take place. ‘Labour Day’ history is quite different in all countries but May 1st mostly celebrates workers and is internationally observed.

While ‘Labour Day’ is mostly a public holiday, some countries don’t allow their workers to take the day off. ‘Labour Day’ was born in the 19th century, when workers had enough of working too many hours and demanded a decrease of their working time. From a strike movement, it quickly became a popular holiday celebrated by and for the workers all over the world.

While some countries don’t celebrate ‘Labour Day’ on May 1st, it’s interesting to learn how some occidental countries celebrate this day. In the United Kingdom, ‘Labour Day’ occurs on the first Monday of May. Ireland also celebrates this day on the first Monday of May. The United States and Canada will celebrate their ‘Labour Day’ on the 1st Monday of September, however, they observe ‘International Workers’ Day’ on May 1st.

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24
Mar
12

23rd of March 2012: ‘Vikram Samvat’ or Hindu New Year

Hindu New Year , also known as ‘Vikram Samvat’ is celebrated according to the Hindu Lunar Calendar. In the Indian Calendar, seasons follow the sun, months follow the moon and days both sun and moon. This era of Vikram Samvat began in 57 BC. To correspond with the solar calendar, 57 years are subtracted from the Hindu Year. Thus, the New Year begin with the first day of Kartik Maas following Deepawali Amaavasya.

“It is easy to talk on religion, but difficult to practice it.”

Ramakrishna

The origin of Hindu New Year relates to the legendary Hindu King Vikramaditya in 57 BC. According to the legend, King Gardabhilla abducted a nun by the name of Saraswati. She was the sister of the famous Jain monk Kalakacharya. The helpless monk looked for help of the Saka ruler in Sakasthana to defeat Gardabhilla. He was defeated and captivated by the Saka King. Though later released, but Gardabhilla retired to the forest where he was killed by a tiger. His son, Vikramaditya, who was brought up in the forest, later invaded Ujjain and pushed out the Sakas. Thus, to celebrate this event, he commemorated a new era called Vikram Samvat.

 

 

“The people, and the people alone, are the motive force in the making of world history.”

 

Mao Zedong
 

On this occasion people decorate their houses by lighting and flowers decorations of varied colors like pink, blue, yellow, red and purple, etc… People also designed rangolis. Rangolis are the main attraction of the decoration part.

 

“One of the greatest diseases is to be nobody to anybody.”

Mother Teresa
 

On that day it is a tradition to wake up early in the morning. People take a bath and they wear new clothes. Prayers are offered to goddess Lakshmi and to god Ganesh. Flowers, fruits and Prasad are offered to God. After the worship, prasad and fruits are distributed among the family members and neighbors. Prasad is a material substance that is first offered to a deity and then consumed.

 

“Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.”

Thomas Jefferson

 

The birth of a New Year is a whole new beginning and marks the time when the world awakens from its wintry slumber. So almost all the Hindu New Year festivals fall on the beginning of the spring months when nature turns bountiful and blesses the earth with fruitful greenery. The beautiful flowers that bloom in spring, the early bird songs, the fresh harvests which are the fruits of past labor and the commencement of a new agricultural cycle . All these symbolize the dawn of another year. Thus, every colorful spring festival of the Hindus, with all the expectations, apprehensions, hope and joy woven in the festivities, is essentially for a New Year celebration.

“The only source of knowledge is experience.”

Albert Einstein
09
Apr
11

Hagia Sofia: An Architectural Masterpiece in Istanbul, Turkey

Hagia Sofia is a former patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, now a museum, in Istanbul, Turkey. Famous in particular for its massive dome, it is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture. It was considered the largest Christian Church in the world for nearly a thousand years, until the completion of the Medieval Seville Cathedral in 1520. The current building was constructed as a church between 532 and 537 AD on the orders of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian, and was in fact the third Church of the Holy Wisdom to occupy the site. It was designed by two architects, Isidore of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralles. Hagia Sofia contained a large collection of holy relics and featured, among other things, a 50 ft. silver iconostasis. It was the patriarchal church of the Patriarch of Constantinople and the religious focus point of the Eastern Orthodox Church for nearly 1000 years.

Hagia Sofia or Holy Wisdom is the mother church of all Eastern Christians of the Byzantine liturgical tradition both Orthodox and Greek Catholic. Architecturally the grand basilica represented a major revolution in church construction in that it featured a huge dome which necessitated the implementation of new ideas in order to support the weight of this dome, a feat which had not been attempted before. The dome which became universal in Byzantine church construction represented the vault of heaven thus constituting a feature quasi-liturgical in function. In the days when there was no steel used in construction, large roofs and domes had to be supported by massive pillars and walls. The dome of Hagia Sofia was supported by four piers (the solid supports from which the arches spring), each measuring about 118 square yards at the base. Four arches swing across linked by four pendentives. The apices of the arches and the pendentives support the circular base from which rises the dome which is pierced by forty single-arched windows which admit light to the interior.

The church itself measures 260 x 270 feet; the dome rises 210 feet above the floor and has a diameter of 110 feet. The nave is 135 feet wide, more than twice the width of the aisles which measure 62 feet. Because Constantinople lies in an earthquake-prone region, the massive structure of the Great Church was deemed sufficient to meet the threat. That expectation however was disappointed when in later years earthquakes destroyed parts of the church and dome, requiring massive repairs including the construction of large buttresses to support the walls which in turn held up the dome.

In 1204 AD, Roman Catholic crusaders of the Fourth Crusade attacked and sacked Istanbul and the Great Church, leaving behind a legacy of bitterness among Eastern Christians which continues to this day. In 1453, Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks and Sultan Mehmed II ordered the building to be converted into a mosque. The bells, altar, iconostasis, and sacrificial vessels were removed, and many of the mosaics were eventually plastered over. The Islamic features – such as the mihrab, the minbar, and the four minarets outside – were added over the course of its history under the Ottomans. It remained as a mosque until 1935, when it was converted into a museum by the secular Republic of Turkey.

In its prime as the Imperial church, Hagia Sofia was served by 80 priests, 150 deacons, 60 subdeacons, 160 readers, 25 cantors and 75 doorkeepers. It was used as the model for other Byzantine churches throughout the Eastern Christendom. Many examples can be seen in the Slavic, Russian and Ukranian churches.

 

03
Apr
11

Persepolis and the Persian Empire : a historical place in Iran

Now an archaeological site in Iran, the ancient city of was founded by Darius I in 518 BC as the capital of the Achaemenid Persian Empire.  On an immense half-artificial, half-natural terrace, the great king created an impressive palace complex inspired by Mesopotamian models. The importance and quality of the ruins at Persepolis led to its recognition by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

 Though evidence of prehistoric settlement at Persepolis has been discovered, inscriptions indicate that construction of the city began under Darius I the Great (reigned 522–486 BC). As a member of a new branch of the royal house, Darius made Persepolis the new capital of Persia (replacing Pasargadae, the burial place of Cyrus the Great). Built in a remote and mountainous region, Persepolis was an inconvenient royal residence, visited mainly in the spring. The effective administration of the Achaemenian Empire was carried on from Susa, Babylon, or Ecbatana. This accounts for the Greeks being unacquainted with Persepolis until Alexander the Great’s invasion of Asia.  In 330 BC, Alexander the Great plundered the city and burned the palace of Xerxes, probably to symbolize the end of his Panhellenic war of revenge.

In 316 BC Persepolis was still the capital of Persis as a province of the Macedonian empire, but the city gradually declined in the Seleucid period and after. In the 3rd century AD the nearby city of Istakhr became the centre of the Sasanian empire. Today, relatively wellpreserved ruins attest to Persepolis’ ancient glory.  The site of Persepolis is characterized by a large terrace with its east side leaning on the Kuh-e Rahmat (Mount of Mercy). The other three sides are formed by a retaining wall, varying in height with the slope of the ground from 13 to 41 feet (4 to 12 m). On the west side, a magnificent double stair in two flights of 111 easy stone steps leads to the top.  On the terrace are the ruins of a number of colossal buildings, all constructed of a dark gray stone (often polished to the consistency of marble) from the adjacent mountain.

Many of the original giant stones, cut with the utmost precision and laid without mortar, are still in place. Especially striking are the huge columns, 13 of which still stand in Darius the Great’s audience hall, known as the apadana. There are two more columns still standing in the entrance hall of the Gate of Xerxes, and a third has been assembled there from its broken pieces.  

In 1933 two sets of gold and silver plates recording in the three forms of cuneiform, Ancient Persian, Elamite, and Babylonian, the boundaries of the Persian Empire were discovered in the foundations of Darius’ hall of audience.  A number of inscriptions, cut in stone, of Darius I, Xerxes I, and Artaxerxes III indicate to which monarch the various buildings are to be attributed. The oldest of these on the south retaining wall gives Darius’ famous prayer for his people: “God protect this country from foe, famine and falsehood.”  

There are numerous reliefs of Persian, Median, and Elamite officials, and 23 scenes separated by cypress trees depict representatives from the remote parts of the empire who, led by a Persian or a Mede, made appropriate offerings to the king at the national festival of the vernal equinox. Behind Persepolis are three sepulchres hewn out of the mountainside, whose facades are richly ornamented with reliefs. Persepolis is located about 32 miles (51 km) northeast of Shiraz in the region of Fars in southwestern Iran, near the confluence of the small river Pulvar with the Rud-e Kor.