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The Oddment Emporium

A Cornucopia of Eclectic Delights

Posts tagged India:

The Tiger Car
A 1925 Rolls-Royce Phantom I built for big game hunting in India, equipped with a hand-cranked machine gun in tow, an elephant rifle on the rear bumper, and a double barrel pistol hanging from its side. It would have originally been painted grey to better camouflage it during hunts and was owned by avid hunter Umed Singh II, the Maharaja of Kotah. {Source]

The Tiger Car

A 1925 Rolls-Royce Phantom I built for big game hunting in India, equipped with a hand-cranked machine gun in tow, an elephant rifle on the rear bumper, and a double barrel pistol hanging from its side. It would have originally been painted grey to better camouflage it during hunts and was owned by avid hunter Umed Singh II, the Maharaja of Kotah. {Source]

Horse Elephant Disguise

In the Battle of Hildighati, fought in 1576 between the forces of Mewar, led by Maharana Pratap, and the Mughal Army, headed by Emperor Akbar’s general Man Singh, Pratap’s famous horse, Chetak, was made to wear a mask which would give him the appearance of a baby elephant.

The idea was that upon seeing the mask the enemy’s elephants would believe it to be a baby of their own species and therefore refuse to harm it. The extent to which the curious contraption might have worked is unknown, though that Chetak died near the battlefield after receiving a fatal would from an elephant’s trunk sword seemingly suggests that it was unsuccessful… 

[Sources: Indohistory | The Braves and Smarts | Golconda Rising]

Tipu’s Tiger

'Tipu's Tiger' is an awesome, life-size beast of carved and painted wood, seen in the act of devouring a prostrate European in the costume of the 1790s. It has cast a spell over generations of admirers since 1808, when it was first displayed in the East India Company's museum. Concealed in the bodywork is a mechanical pipe-organ with several parts, all operated simultaneously by a crank-handle emerging from the tiger’s shoulder. Turning the handle pumps … bellows and controls the air-flow to simulate the growls of the tiger and cries of the victim.

Tipu Sultan, the ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore in India for whom the automaton was built, identified himself with tigers; his personal epithet was ‘The Tiger of Mysore,’ his soldiers were dressed in ‘tyger’ jackets, his personal symbol invoked a tiger’s face through clever use of calligraphy and the tiger motif is visible on his throne, and other objects in his personal possession [Source]. The death of a young Englishman named Munro carried off by a man-eating tiger in 1792 was the inspiration … Munro was the son of Sir Hector Munro, one of the East India Company’s generals. His death was seen by [Tipu] … as divine retribution against the British invaders [Source - see also documentary].

(Source: vam.ac.uk)

Relic of the tooth of the Buddha
The Relic of the tooth of Buddha is venerated in Sri Lanka as a relic of the founder of Buddhism having come to be regarded as a symbolic representation of the living Buddha. According to legend, when Buddha died in BC 543, his body was cremated in India and his left canine tooth was retrieved from the pyre and given to King Brahmadatte for veneration.
A belief grew that whoever possessed the Tooth had a divine right to rule. Wars were fought to take possession of it and 800 years after Buddha’s death it came into the possession of King Guhaseeva of Kalinga, who began to worship it. This caused discontent among his citizens who told King Paandu that Guhaseeva had stopped believing in god and had started worshipping a tooth. Paandu decided to destroy the relic, and ordered it to be brought to the city. It is said that, as the tooth arrived at the city Paandu miraculously converted to Buddhism.
When King Ksheeradara heard of this, he went with his army to attack Paandu. The invaders were defeated, and Ksheeradara died. Prince Dantha from the city of Udeni came to worship the sacred tooth. Guhaseeva was pleased with him, and let him marry his daughter, Hemamala. When Ksheeradara’s sons heard their father had died in war, they raised a large army to attack Guhaseeva and destroy the relic. They entered the city, but King Guhaseeva secretly sent away Dantha and Hemamala with the relic.
Hemamala hid the relic in her hair ornament and the couple disguised themselves to avoid discovery. They set sail for Sri Lanka as it is said that Sri Lanka was chosen as the new home for the tooth relic because the Lord Buddha had declared that his religion would be safe in Sri Lanka for 5000 years.
At the time, King Kithsirimevan ruled and was overjoyed when he heard the news and warmly welcomed the couple and received the Sacred Tooth Relic with great veneration. He built a beautiful palace within the royal palace itself and enshrined the relic in it. As time went on the land was threatened with invasions and the capital was moved numerous times, and with change a new palace was built to enshrine the relic. Finally, it was brought to Kandy where it is at present, in the Temple of the Tooth.

Relic of the tooth of the Buddha

The Relic of the tooth of Buddha is venerated in Sri Lanka as a relic of the founder of Buddhism having come to be regarded as a symbolic representation of the living Buddha. According to legend, when Buddha died in BC 543, his body was cremated in India and his left canine tooth was retrieved from the pyre and given to King Brahmadatte for veneration.

A belief grew that whoever possessed the Tooth had a divine right to rule. Wars were fought to take possession of it and 800 years after Buddha’s death it came into the possession of King Guhaseeva of Kalinga, who began to worship it. This caused discontent among his citizens who told King Paandu that Guhaseeva had stopped believing in god and had started worshipping a tooth. Paandu decided to destroy the relic, and ordered it to be brought to the city. It is said that, as the tooth arrived at the city Paandu miraculously converted to Buddhism.

When King Ksheeradara heard of this, he went with his army to attack Paandu. The invaders were defeated, and Ksheeradara died. Prince Dantha from the city of Udeni came to worship the sacred tooth. Guhaseeva was pleased with him, and let him marry his daughter, Hemamala. When Ksheeradara’s sons heard their father had died in war, they raised a large army to attack Guhaseeva and destroy the relic. They entered the city, but King Guhaseeva secretly sent away Dantha and Hemamala with the relic.

Hemamala hid the relic in her hair ornament and the couple disguised themselves to avoid discovery. They set sail for Sri Lanka as it is said that Sri Lanka was chosen as the new home for the tooth relic because the Lord Buddha had declared that his religion would be safe in Sri Lanka for 5000 years.

At the time, King Kithsirimevan ruled and was overjoyed when he heard the news and warmly welcomed the couple and received the Sacred Tooth Relic with great veneration. He built a beautiful palace within the royal palace itself and enshrined the relic in it. As time went on the land was threatened with invasions and the capital was moved numerous times, and with change a new palace was built to enshrine the relic. Finally, it was brought to Kandy where it is at present, in the Temple of the Tooth.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Indian woman carrying a British merchant in a basket on her back. 1903.

Indian woman carrying a British merchant in a basket on her back. 1903.

The Curse of the Koh-i-Noor
The Koh-i-Noor was once the largest known diamond. It has belonged to various rulers who have fought bitterly over it and seized it as a spoil of war time and time again. It was taken from India in 1850 by the British East India Company and became part of the British Crown Jewels when Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India in 1877. The diamond is currently set into the Crown of Queen Elizabeth and on display at the Tower of London.
It is believed that the Koh-i-Noor carries with it a curse which affects men who wear it, but not women. All the men who owned it have either lost their throne or had other misfortunes befall them. Since Victoria’s reign, the stone has generally been worn by the British Queen Consort, never by a male ruler.
The possibility of a curse pertaining to ownership of the diamond dates back to a Hindu text relating to the first authenticated appearance of the diamond in 1306: “He who owns this diamond will own the world, but will also know all its misfortunes. Only God, or a woman, can wear it with impunity.”
[The images shows the diamond set into Queen Alexandra’s crown. Alexandra was the first Queen consort to wear the diamond in her crown, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth followed her example. Queen Victoria had it set into a brooch, which she wore often. The British Royal Family were apparently aware of the curse when the diamond came into their ‘possession’]

The Curse of the Koh-i-Noor

The Koh-i-Noor was once the largest known diamond. It has belonged to various rulers who have fought bitterly over it and seized it as a spoil of war time and time again. It was taken from India in 1850 by the British East India Company and became part of the British Crown Jewels when Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India in 1877. The diamond is currently set into the Crown of Queen Elizabeth and on display at the Tower of London.

It is believed that the Koh-i-Noor carries with it a curse which affects men who wear it, but not women. All the men who owned it have either lost their throne or had other misfortunes befall them. Since Victoria’s reign, the stone has generally been worn by the British Queen Consort, never by a male ruler.

The possibility of a curse pertaining to ownership of the diamond dates back to a Hindu text relating to the first authenticated appearance of the diamond in 1306: “He who owns this diamond will own the world, but will also know all its misfortunes. Only God, or a woman, can wear it with impunity.”

[The images shows the diamond set into Queen Alexandra’s crown. Alexandra was the first Queen consort to wear the diamond in her crown, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth followed her example. Queen Victoria had it set into a brooch, which she wore often. The British Royal Family were apparently aware of the curse when the diamond came into their ‘possession’]

Execution by Elephant
Execution by elephant was a common method of capital punishment in South and Southeast Asia, and particularly in India. Asian Elephants were used to crush, dismember, or torture captives in public executions. The animals were trained and versatile, both able to kill victims immediately or to torture them slowly over a prolonged period. Employed by royalty, the elephants were used to signify both the ruler’s absolute power and his ability to control wild animals.
The intelligence, domestication, and versatility of elephants gave them considerable advantages over other wild animals such as lions and bears used as executioners by the Romans. Elephants are more tractable than horses: while a horse can be trained to charge into battle, it will not willingly trample an enemy soldier, and will instead step over him. Elephants will trample their enemies, hence the popularity of war elephants with generals such as Hannibal. Elephants can be trained to execute prisoners in a variety of ways, and can be taught to prolong the agony of the victim by inflicting a slow death by torture or quickly killing the condemned by stepping on the head.
Historically, the elephants were under the constant control of a driver or mahout, thus enabling a ruler to grant a last-minute reprieve and display merciful qualities. Several such exercises of mercy are recorded in various Asian kingdoms. The kings of Siam trained their elephants to roll the convicted person “about the ground rather slowly so that he is not badly hurt”. The Mughal Emperor Akbar the Great is said to have “used this technique to chastise ‘rebels’ and then in the end the prisoners, presumably much chastened, were given their lives”. On one occasion, Akbar was recorded to have had a man thrown to the elephants to suffer five days of such treatment before pardoning him. Elephants were even sometimes used in a kind of trial by ordeal in which the condemned prisoner was released if he managed to fend off the elephant.
The image above shows an elephant and its keeper in Ceylon demonstrating how execution by elephant used to be carried out.

Execution by Elephant

Execution by elephant was a common method of capital punishment in South and Southeast Asia, and particularly in India. Asian Elephants were used to crush, dismember, or torture captives in public executions. The animals were trained and versatile, both able to kill victims immediately or to torture them slowly over a prolonged period. Employed by royalty, the elephants were used to signify both the ruler’s absolute power and his ability to control wild animals.

The intelligence, domestication, and versatility of elephants gave them considerable advantages over other wild animals such as lions and bears used as executioners by the Romans. Elephants are more tractable than horses: while a horse can be trained to charge into battle, it will not willingly trample an enemy soldier, and will instead step over him. Elephants will trample their enemies, hence the popularity of war elephants with generals such as Hannibal. Elephants can be trained to execute prisoners in a variety of ways, and can be taught to prolong the agony of the victim by inflicting a slow death by torture or quickly killing the condemned by stepping on the head.

Historically, the elephants were under the constant control of a driver or mahout, thus enabling a ruler to grant a last-minute reprieve and display merciful qualities. Several such exercises of mercy are recorded in various Asian kingdoms. The kings of Siam trained their elephants to roll the convicted person “about the ground rather slowly so that he is not badly hurt”. The Mughal Emperor Akbar the Great is said to have “used this technique to chastise ‘rebels’ and then in the end the prisoners, presumably much chastened, were given their lives”. On one occasion, Akbar was recorded to have had a man thrown to the elephants to suffer five days of such treatment before pardoning him. Elephants were even sometimes used in a kind of trial by ordeal in which the condemned prisoner was released if he managed to fend off the elephant.

The image above shows an elephant and its keeper in Ceylon demonstrating how execution by elephant used to be carried out.

(Source: Wikipedia)

On June 23, 1947, Time Magazine reported from Switzerland on what it called the “Miracle Man” – a mysterious 35-year old Dutchman by the name of Mirin Dajo who confounded onlooking scientists, doctors and ordinary spectators when, apparently without any pain or internal injury, he was skewered straight through the chest with a 28-inch fencing foil. The skin on his torso appeared to bulge as the solid steel blade was pushed through by an assistant, but Dajo stayed stoic, unflinching. During the 40s, this living enigma was run through with sharp objects like spears and swords without suffering physical damage or even bleeding. 

Experts then and now seem to agree this was no illusion, but a real sword going through a real body. Dajo maintained that the areas through which the weapons went became ‘lighter’, ‘less physical’ – that there was nothing solid to injure – but a recent BBC TV programme disputes this account. According to magician and Dajo authority, Ali Bongo, Dajo travelled to India and talked to Fakirs – mystics known for piercing their cheeks and skin with knives. There he may have learned a safe way to pass a blade through his body – but how?

According to Dr Jennifer Saw, even such an extreme feat might be biologically possible aided by what are called fistulas, probably the simplest example of which is an ear ring hole: “It’s quite likely that he had perhaps a few centimetres done at a time, the hole that was created was kept open, and then they advanced it again a little bit at a time staying clear of any organs.” So Dajo had tubes made from scar tissue running through his body that allowed thin objects to be inserted through them. “If you looked at his back he had several holes on them, and I think those were failed fistulas – ones where they couldn’t advance any further,” says Saw.

VIDEO.

(Source: environmentalgraffiti.com)

Lath mar Holi 2012.

Lath mar Holi (Hindiलट्ठमार होली) takes place well before the actual Holi celebration. It takes place at Barsana near Mathura in the state of Uttar Pradesh. People flock to the suburban town of Barsana near Mathura to see Lath Mar Holi, a special form of traditional festivity.

Legend has it that Lord Krishna visited his beloved Radha’s village on this day and playfully teased her and her friends. Taking offence at this, the women of Barsana chased him away. Since then, men from Krishna’s village, Nandgaon, visit Barsana to play Holi in the town which has the distinction of having the only temple dedicated to Radha in India.

In the sprawling compound of the Radha Rani temple in Barsana, thousands gather to witness the Lath Mar holi when women beat up men with sticks as those on the sidelines become hysterical, sing Holi Songs and shout Sri Radhey or Sri Krishna. The Holi songs of Braj mandal are sung in pure Braj Bhasha.

On the first day of Lath Mar Holi gops (shepherds) from Nandgaon come to Barsana to play Holi with the gopis of Barsana. The festival begins with a ceremony at the Radha Rani temple. After this ceremony gops then march out of the temple on the Rang Rangeeli Gali where they stop to play holi with the gopis, who stand in groups along the street. The second day gops from Barsana go to Nandgaon to play holi with gopis at Nandgaon.

Holi played at Barsana is unique in the sense that here women chase men away with sticks. Males also sing provocative songs in a bid to invite the attention of women. Women then go on the offensive and use long staves called “lathis" to beat men folk who protect themselves with shields.

During intervals, participants sip ‘thandai’, a cold drink that is sometime intoxicating because it is laced with a paste called bhang, made of cannabis. Bhang and Holi go together. After drinking bhang, people react in different ways, some crave for sweets, others cry or laugh. It is an ecstatic experience, which is heightened by the revelry. It is a great way to de-stress and bond.

The air is thick with the scent of flowers and perfume. Rose petals and coloured powder rained on the pilgrims as they visited the deity sitting on his throne of flowers.

The women of Barsana start preparing a month in advance. ‘The mother-in-laws feed their daughters-in-law rich food so that they show off their prowess on the Holi battle zone. It is a show of love, fun and equality, one that even the gods descend to witness.

(Source: Wikipedia)