Sunday, November 11, 2012


Lord Ayyappan is worshiped in a number of shrines across India; especially at Sabarimala as an ascetic - a celibate meditating in solitude for the benefit of all mankind. Makarajyothi or Makaravilakku is an important celebration at Sabarimala. The date of Makarajyothi falls on the Makarasankrama day (makarasankranti). What is Makarasankrama?

The movement of the earth from one zodiac sign into another is called Sankranti. zodiac is the ring of constellations that lines the apparent path of the Sun across the celestial sphere over the course of the year. Since there are 12 zodiac signs, there are 12 sankrantis also. Among these, makarasankranti is the most important. So makarasankranti is the transmigration of sun from Dhanu rashi (Sagittarius zodiac) to Makara rashi (Capricorn zodiac). Scientifically, this day marks the beginning of warmer and longer days compared to the nights. In other words, Sankranti marks the termination of winter season and beginning of a new harvest or spring season. The importance of this day has been signified in the ancient epics like Mahabharata also. So, apart from socio-geographical importance, this day also holds a historical and religious significance. As, it is the festival of Sun God and he is regarded as the symbol divinity and wisdom, the festival also holds an eternal meaning to it.

Makar Sankranti is also a major harvest festival. According to the lunar calendar, when the sun moves from the Tropic of Cancer to the Tropic of Capricorn or from in mid-January, it commemorates the beginning of the harvest season and cessation of the northeast monsoon in South India. Makara sankranti is now on January 14. It is believed that a thousand years ago, Makar Sankranti was on December 31. Five thousand years later, it shall be by the end of February, while in 9000 years it shall come in June.

It is on this context we must see the special rituals (poojas) performed in Sabarimala. On this Makara sankranti day, there are special poojas in Sabarimala. The sacred ornaments brought from Pandalam Palace are adorned the Ayyappa idol. Then there is a special Deeparadhana(A special ritual performed at dusk). People throng to see the idol of Ayyappa, when the doors of Sanctum Santorum is opened for the devotees, just after this Deeparadhana. In the olden times the Malayaraya tribe of Sabarimala forest had performed rituals at Ponnambalamedu. Ponnambalamedu, situated approximately 8 k.m. from the Sabarimala Sannidhaanam, is believed to be the original base of Sabarimala temple. The light of rituals at Ponnambalamedu can be seen from the Sabarimala temple premises. Later these tribes were evacuated from Sabarimala forest as part of Periyar Tiger Reserve Project. When television channels started to live telecast the Makaravilakku rituals at Sabarimala, the lights appeared at Ponnambalmedu got an unprecedented attention, than the rituals at Sanctum Santorum of Sabarimala temple. The reason; T.V. commentators made the people to believe that the flashing of light at Ponnambalamedu is done by some superhumans. Later when Thiruvithankoor Devaswam Board (T.D.B.) took over the control of Sabarimala temple, they constructed a cement platform at Ponnambalamedu, where the ancient Ayyappa shrine of Malayaraya tribe situated.



This was my Ph.D. synopsis presentation at Department of Physics, University of Calicut, Kerala

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

R.M.S.A. - A Glimpse

Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan or R.M.S.A. is designed to strengthen secondary and higher secondary education as it is the crucial stage that enables the students to compete for higher education and jobs globally. Some key points of the system are
  • Secondary education is made available within 5km and higher secondary education within 7-10km. in the hilly areas residential schools will be set up.
  • To ensure that all secondary schools have minimum physical furniture, staff and other supplies. For this financial support will be provided.
  • The scheme will initially cover up to class10. Subsequently higher secondary stage will be taken up.
Steps are taken to meet the following strategies
  • Up gradation of existing U.P. and High Schools
  • Opening of new High Schools and Higher Secondary Schools in PPP model
  • Providing infrastructure like blackboard,furniture,library,computer,science lab and toilet
  • In-service training for teachers
  • Residential accommodation for teachers in the rural and difficult hilly areas.
  • Free lodging or boarding for SC/ST and minority community students
  • Cash incentive,booksa and uniform for girls
  • Scholarship for meritorious students at the secondary level
  • Decentralization of school management for improved performance
  • Streamlining financial procedures for a speedy flow of funds
  • Strengthening of NCERT, NIEPA and NIOS at national level and SCERT, SIEMAT and Open schools at the state level.
  • Involvement of Panchayatiraj and municipal bodies in the school management through PTA and management committees.

Another important aspect of RMSA is the regular supervision activities. National/State supervision team will visit the schools once in six months. Besides the overall assessment, there will be provisions for classroom observation by resource person.
The central govt. will bear 75% of the cost to impart RMSA. In the North Eastern states, 90% of the cost will be borne by the central govt. Schools must open bank account in public sector banks with H.M./PRINCIPAL and Vice Principal of the school education committee, a joint holder of the bank account.
Since teachers are the most important component of the school education system, five days comprehensive in-service course is included in RMSA with a total remuneration of Rs.1000/-
In India, secondary stage consists of class 9 and 10 in 19 states and in 13 other states, it covers class8 to 10. Higher secondary plus two stages is available in almost all the states. But in some states it is attached to universities and colleges. Thus there is a wide disparity in the secondary and higher secondary stages through out India. With the implementation of RMSA states are to take up 8+2+2 system of school education. That is 8 years of Primary education (First 5 years of which is Lower Primary and next 3 years Upper Primary), 2 years of Secondary education (class 9 and class10) and a final 2 years of Higher Secondary education(+1 and +2classes).
In short, RMSA envisages universalisation of Secondary education with the followings,
1.      Construction of science lab and libraries
2.      In-service  training for teachers
3.      Leadership training of school head
4.      Curriculum reforms
5.      Science and Mathematics education
6.      Computer aided education
7.      Co-curricular activities
8.      Teaching-Learning aids

Follow by Email