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பொங்கல் Pongal (14-17 January)
Pongal is a harvest festival celebrated by the Tamil community. It is a celebration to thank the Sun, Mother Nature and the various farm animals that help to contribute to a bountiful harvest. Celebrated over four days, Pongal also marks the beginning of the Tamil month called Thai, which is considered an auspicious month. It usually falls on the 14th or 15th of January each year. Pongal is also the name of the dish made and eaten during this festival. It is a mixture of boiled sweet rice. It is derived from the Tamil word pongu, which means “to boil over”. The first day of Pongal is called Bhogi. It is a day where cleaning and discarding of old belongings are carried out to signify a fresh start. New clothes are worn, houses are decorated in the spirit of the festivity. The second day is the main day of Pongal and is celebrated as Surya Pongal. On this day, the Sun God is honoured. Colourful decorative floor patterns called kolam are drawn at the entrance of one’s home, and each household cooks a pot of fresh rice with milk at auspicious timings. As the milk boils freely over the pot, family members shout out happily “Pongalo Pongal”! After the Pongal is offered to the Sun God, they would feast on several Pongal dishes that are prepared especially for the day. The third day of Pongal is called Maatu Pongal. This day is devoted to honour and worship the cattle (Maatu) to remember the work they do – ploughing the land. Cows are bathed and adorned with multi-coloured beads, flowers garlands, and bells. In Singapore, thanksgiving prayers would be conducted for the cattle at some dairy farms owned by Indians. The fourth day of Pongal is called Kaanum Pongal. On this day, importance is given to the community and to strengthen ties. Families gather together to have a sumptuous meal. Younger members seek the blessings of the older members of their families. It is also a day for traditional Indian folk dances such as mayilattam and kolattam. Pongal is one of the most important festivals celebrated by Tamil people in India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Mauritius, South Africa, Singapore, United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and the Gulf countries
[Dominican Republic] Basílica catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia (Higüey)
La basílica de Higüey, cuyo nombre oficial es basílica catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia, es un santuario católico de Salvaleón de Higüey, República Dominicana. Es la catedral de la diócesis de Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia en Higüey y uno de los santuarios más concurridos del Caribe. En un principio se pensaba que la advocación procedía del pueblo español de Garrovillas de Alconétar (Cáceres), aunque se comprobó posteriormente que procedía de Siruela, Badajoz, Extremadura, con la visita del obispo de Higüey a dicha localidad. Ambas poblaciones tienen a la Virgen de Altagracia como patrona y sendas ermitas dedicadas a ella. Otro dato que apunta a la región extremeña es que Nicolás de Ovando nació en Brozas (distante 10 kilómetros de Garrovillas) y además ejerció el cargo de comendador de Lares (distante 11 kilómetros de Siruela) antes de llegar a La Española como gobernador de las Indias en 1502. Historia La obra de la basílica de Higüey o de Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia, fue construida por los arquitectos franceses André-Jacques Dunoyer de Segonzac, Pierre Dupré y Pierre Domino, los cuales fueron elegidos a través de un concurso internacional anunciado en 1947, pero se llevó a cabo en 1949, en la cual fue elegida la propuesta de los arquitectos ya mencionados. La Basílica fue construida para reemplazar un antiguo santuario, en donde apareció La Altagracia, el cual data de 1572. La Basílica se comenzó a construir en 1954, por órdenes del primer obispo de Higüey, Monseñor Juan Félix Pepén, la cual duró 17 años para su construcción. Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia. El 21 de enero de 1971 el presidente Joaquín Balaguer inauguró la basílica. El 12 de octubre del mismo año, es declarada Monumento Dominicano, y el 17 de octubre del mismo año Pablo VI la declara como basílica menor. Dos años después, el 15 de agosto de 1973 se convierte en catedral de la diócesis de Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia en Higüey, por mandato apostólico. La basílica fue construida en el centro de la ciudad, con una estructura en forma de cruz latina, la puerta principal está hecha de bronce con un baño de oro de 24 quilates, además tiene un campanario de 45 campanas de bronce. El detalle más notable de su arquitectura son los arcos alargados, que representan la figura de Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia con sus manos en actitud de oración. En el tope del arco más alto había originalmente una cruz, que presumiblemente fue arrancada por el huracán David. Desde entonces permaneció sin aquel símbolo, hasta que en 2014 que fue remplazada por otra cruz. Desde Roma, la basílica fue bendecida por el mismo papa Juan Pablo II y el 12 de octubre de 1992, en su segunda visita al país, Juan Pablo II coronó la imagen de La Altagracia con una diadema de plata sobredorada. Es uno de los santuarios más visitados de América Latina. En la Basílica se encuentra la imagen de La Altagracia, la cual fue la primera evangelizadora de América y el Nuevo Mundo.
Mongolian location-based stamps
Of course Genghis Khan is known all over the world but Mongolia is vast and diverse. Hustai National Park (Хустайн байгалийн цогцолборт газар) The takhi wild horses native to the grassy steppes had vanished from the wild in the 1970s, but as a result of various breeding programs, they slowly reappeared in their old stomping grounds, including their original home: the Khustain Nuruu national park. The takhi (officially named Przewalski’s horse after the Russian explorer who first spotted it), may be the world’s last truly wild horse. While most “wild” horses around the globe are domesticated horses gone feral, the Przewalski’s horse was never domesticated. Up until the 18th century, these short stocky horses freely roamed the steppes of Mongolia, Kazakhstan, and Russian Siberia. But then the numbers started dwindling. In 1967, the last herd of takhi was spotted and in 1969, the last individual horse. They were declared “extinct in the wild,” which remained the status quo for nearly 30 years. There were only 13 surviving takhi horses, kept in different zoos around the world. They were bred carefully, and the population slowly increased to more than 1,500 at which point they were reintroduced into the wild. The downside of this method is that the genetic pool of all the existing horses is limited. One of the places where the reintroduction took place in 1992 was the horse’s native habitat of Khustain Nuruu or Hustai National Park. A year later the park, which stretches across 50,000 hectares, was declared as a Specially Protected Area. Its key mission is to maintain and build a sustainable population of these rare creatures. The Erdene Zuu Monastery (Эрдэнэ Зуу хийд) is probably the earliest surviving Buddhist monastery in Mongolia. Located in Övörkhangai Province, approximately 2 km north-east from the center of Kharkhorin and adjacent to the ancient city of Karakorum, it is part of the Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape World Heritage Site. The monastery is affiliated with the Gelug sect of Tibetan Buddhism Eej Mod (Ээж мод) – The Mother Tree of the Mongolians Those who practice Shamanism believe that shamans communicate between the human and spiritual worlds, and the Mother Tree became seen as a gateway to the spirits after it was struck by lightning. Now worshipers will travel to the tree to make an offering in hopes of having their prayers answered. Until 2015, the Mother Tree was an actual tree, around which a ger (aka yurt) had been built. Following a practice that thousands of others had engaged in before, one worshipper in 2015 lit an incense stick by the tree, but this time the tree caught fire, and it was all but destroyed. The stump was salvaged from the fire and placed in the outside compound. Today, the ger is still in its place, and the ground where the Mother Tree once grew is the object of people’s veneration. The stump, alongside a number of nearby trees, is shrouded in ceremonial scarves, mostly blue, and drenched in milk and vodka. The fence around the compound is “fortified” by tea bricks. In an adjacent compound, another tree has been elevated to the status of Holy Tree in recent years by an eminent Mongolia shaman. The Flaming Cliffs site (also known as Bayanzag, Bain-Dzak or Bayn Dzak (Баянзаг rich in saxaul), with the alternative Mongolian name Улаан Эрэг (red cliffs) , is a region of the Gobi Desert in the Ömnögovi Province of Mongolia, in which important fossil finds have been made. It was given this name by American paleontologist Roy Chapman Andrews, who visited in the 1920s. The area is most famous for yielding the first discovery of dinosaur eggs. Other finds in the area include specimens of Velociraptor and eutherian mammals. It exposes rocks of the Djadochta Formation. It is illegal to remove fossils from the area without appropriate permits. The nickname refers to the red or orange color of the sandstone cliffs (especially at a sunset) Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake (Тэрхийн Цагаан нуур) is one of the most dazzling in Mongolia, sitting a mile and a quarter (2,060 m) above sea level. On the northeast shore you can see a dramatic and jagged silhouette against the azure sky, made by shamanistic heaps of stones called “ovoos.” Taikhar Rock (Тайхар Чулуу) is located 22 kilometres (14 miles) northeast from Tsetserleg, in the village of Ikh Tamir, south the Khoid Tamir River. It’s a big 20-metres (66 feet) high granite rock, covered with 150 writings in many different languages and dating back from many different periods (runic, Sogd, Uyghur, Mongolian, Nangiad, Tibetan writings). The oldest one is the runic writing, dating back from the turkish period of the 6th and 7th centuries. An ovoo was placed at its top. Unfortunately, there are many graffiti on this rock and the old writings almost disappeared. The government decided to protect the rock in 1994. The most famous legend bound to Taikhar rock tells that Bukhbilegt, a giant warrior, threw this rock on a snake that was coming out from the land, which explains its strange presence in this place. Another local legend tells that this rock symbolizes the love of two unfortunate lovers. Tamir loved a girl, Taikhar, but the local lord, who wanted to marry the beautiful Taikhar, prevented their love. So the girl ran away towards the river and her lover sat near the river to wait for her to come back. But the wait was endless and Tamir ended up becoming a rock, standing along the river for eternity, with no possibility ever to meet up with his love again. Locals also believe that anyone manage to throw a stone on the top of the rock, will get rich. Khamriin Khiid (Хамарын хийд) is a spot in the middle of the Gobi desert is where the strongest spiritual energy in the world converges. To mark the location, the monastery complex was built in the 19th century, Khamriin Khiid. Eej Khad (Ээж хад) - Mother Rock is a prime destination for devout Buddhists and shamans in Mongolia. It’s a granite stone that natural elements molded into a vaguely human form. Pilgrims flock to this location to seek advice and have their dreams or wishes granted. The morin khuur (морин хуур), also known as the horsehead fiddle is a traditional Mongolian bowed stringed instrument. It is one of the most important musical instruments of the Mongol people, and is considered a symbol of the nation of Mongolia. The morin khuur is one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity identified by UNESCO. Traditional craftsmanship of the Mongol Ger (гэр) (yurt) and its associated customs inscribed in 2013 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity I hope any of this will be added
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