The Tradition Of Vedic Chanting

The Vedas comprise a vast corpus of Sanskrit poetry, philosophical dialogue, myth, and ritual incantations developed and composed by Aryans over 3,500 years ago. Regarded by Hindus as the primary source of knowledge and the sacred foundation of their dharma, the Vedas embody one of the worlds oldest surviving cultural traditions. The oral tradition of the Vedas consists of several pathas, “recitations” or ways of chanting the Vedic mantras. Such traditions of Vedic chant are often considered the oldest unbroken oral tradition in existence, the fixation of the Vedic texts (samhitas) as preserved dating to roughly the time of Homer (early Iron Age). The tradition of Vedic chanting is on UNESCO’s List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Vedic chant is the expression of hymns from the Vedas, the ancient scriptures of Hinduism. The practice dates back at least 3,000 years and is probably the world’s oldest continuous vocal tradition. The earliest collection, or Saṃhitā, of Vedic texts is the Rigveda, containing about 1,000 hymns. These are chanted in syllabic style—a type of heightened speech with one syllable to a tone. Three levels of pitch are employed: a basic reciting tone is embellished by neighbouring tones above and below, which are used to emphasize grammatical accents in the texts. These Rigveda hymns are the basis for a later collection, the Sāmaveda (“Veda of the Chants”), the hymns of which are sung in a style that is more florid, melodic, and […]

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International Mother Language Day

International Mother Language Day is being observed every year since February 2000 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. It was proclaimed by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in November 1999 (30C/62) to celebrate every February 21 as International Mother Language Day in recognition of the sacrifices of the Bangla language martyrs, who dedicated their lives for establishing the rightful place of  Bangla (or Bengali). The date represents the day in 1952 when students demonstrating for recognition of their language, Bangla, as one of the two national languages of the then Pakistan, were shot and killed by police in Dhaka, the capital of the then East Pakistan, now Bangladesh. The Pakistan government was mandating Urdu language as the state language in both East and West Pakistan. I salute those brave martyrs. I am quoting from a Bangla song written by Abdul Gaffar Choudhury to mark the Bengali Language Movement in 1950s East Pakistan (now Bangladesh): “আমার ভাইয়ের রক্তে রাঙ্গানো একুশে ফেব্রুয়ারী আমি কি ভুলতে পারি?“ Bangla is the national and official language of Bangladesh and it is one of the 23 official languages in India. It is the official language of the states of West Bengal and Tripura. It is also the co-official language of the state of Assam. It is the second language in Jharkhand state. Bangla was made an official language of Sierra Leone in order to honour the 5,300 strong Bangladeshi […]

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