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A Concise Guide to Writing Fiction Set in the Mature Harappan = New Rigvedic Period 2600-1700 BCE...
Shrikant G Talageri
1 year ago
[A few words about this article:1. It has been published on the IndicToday site very recently.2. Two parts of it, pertaining to Dravidians, have already been put up on my blogspot recently.3. It has two purposes: firstly, to provide background data for anyone writing fiction set in the Mature Harappan = New Rigvedic period 2600-1700 BCE, and secondly, even otherwise to present an overall picture introducing the reader to the historical scenario in India during that period] Any fiction set in the Mature Harappan period (that is, the period of composition of the New Rigveda) must keep in mind various relevant factors. Before going into those factors, the prehistory of this period, as per the myths recorded in the Puranas, must be kept in mind:The beginnings of Indian history, according to traditional information in the Puranas, begins with a reference to the first king Manu Vaivasvata who ruled over the whole of India, and he was succeeded by his ten sons, who subsequently ruled over the different parts of India. These ten sons, according to the Puranas, were Sudyumna, lkṣvāku, Prāṁṣu, Śaryāti, Dhṛṣṭa, Karuṣa, Nariṣyanta, Pṛṣadhra, Nābhāga and Nabhagodiṣṭa, and these as per the Puranic traditions, were the ancestral figures for the inhabitants of the different parts of the whole of India.The actual Puranic data concentrates on the history of the descendants of only twoof the reportedly ten sons of Manu: Ikṣvāku (whose descendants are referred to as Aikṣvāku or Ikṣvāku) and Sudyumna (who, on the basis of a mythical story in which, due to a curse, he becomes a woman and then is again reconverted into a man, is also given the masculine name Iḷa and the feminine name Iḷā , and his descendants are consequently referred to as Aiḷa or Iḷa).The history of the descendants of the other eight sons is not recorded or discernible from the accounts.The Aiḷas are treated in myth and tradition as members of the Lunar race, and the Ikṣvākus as members of the Solar race.The Ikṣvākus are located in the eastern half of the northern area: in present-day terms, in eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.The Aiḷas, who form the central focus of the Puranic accounts, are located to the westand south of the Ikṣvākus. However, even here, the Puranic accounts are more-or-less ambiguous (or confused) about the history of the entire Aiḷa lineage, and only concentrate on the history of descendants who are mythically identified as descended from the five sons of an Aiḷa king named Yayāti: Yadu and Turvasu/Turvaṣa, sons by his wife Devayānī , and Druhyu, Anu and Pūru, sons by his wife Śarmiṣṭhā. These are located as follows:a) To begin with, the Pūrus are located in the Central areas around Kurukṣetra, (Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh), the Anus to their north (Kashmir and the areas to their immediate west in northernmost parts of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan), the Druhyus to the west (present-day northern and central Pakistan), the Yadus to their south (Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra) and the Turvasus (to the east of the Yadus).b) A series of battles in the pre-Rigvedic period leads to a realignment in the northwest: the Druhyus are pushed further out into Afghanistan, while a major section of the Anus expands southwards and occupies the major part of the former areas of the Druhyus.c) The dāśarājña battle in the period of the Old Rigveda leads to a further realignment: the Pūrus expand westwards into the same (northern and central Pakistan) areas and a major section of the Anus expands outwards into Afganistan leading to a further northwards push to the Druhyus who spill out into Central Asia.The end result is that by the time of the New Rigveda, which is the period archaeologically referred to as the Mature Harappan period, we find the following situation in India in 2600-1700 BCE:I. The Mature Harappan Civilization and its Neighbors.1. The Mature Harappan civilization is spread out over the whole area of the Rigveda (from westernmost Uttar Pradesh and Haryana to Afghanistan), whose components are sections of three tribes with possibly the last remnants of a fourthone:a) the central Pūrus in the eastern parts (mainly Haryana and eastern Punjab),b) the eastern Anus and western Pūrus in the western parts (most of northern Pakistan), andc) the western Yadus in the southern parts (Gujarat, Sind) along withd) the last remnants of the Druhyus in the westernmost border areas.They had all developed together as a composite more-or-less Pūru-ized "Indo-Iranian" civilization.To their north, in the original Puranic area of the Anus, we still find the northernAnus, the ancestors of the Nuristani and Dardic people. 2. To the west of the Mature Harappan = New Rigvedic areas, we have:a) the central Anus in the major part of Afghanistan (with remnants of Druhyus still in their midst) who had developed into the proto-Iranian, or pre-Avestan and Avestan, civilization.b) other sections of western Anus further west expanding westwards into Iran: the ancestors of the proto-Armenian, proto-Greek and proto-Albanian speakers later to migrate westwards towards southeastern Europe. They were followed by other sections of the central Anus (proto-Iranian tribes, who spread westwards and northwestwards), and also a section of westernPūrus (the proto-Mitanni Indo-Aryans). 3. To the north in Central Asia, we have the Druhyu people, including:a) the Uttara-Madras in the west (the proto-Hittites, with sections of them migrating westwards towards the Caspian Sea in their historical movement towards Anatolia),b) the Uttara-Kurus in the east (the proto-Tocharians, who remained in the region till they became extinct a thousand or so years ago), and, between the two,c) remnants of the other Druhyus (ancestral speakers of the proto-Italic, proto-Celtic, proto-Germanic, proto-Baltic and proto-Slavic languages), the main body of whom were already migrating westwards through northern Eurasia on their way towards eastern Europe.The migrating Druhyus were also accompanied or followed by small sections of Anus and Pūrus who carried Iranian and Indo-Aryan linguistic elements into the Uralic areas (leaving traces of their ancient presence in the present-day Finno-Ugric languages).4. To the east of the "Indo-Iranian" Harappans within India, were the eastern Pūrus in the major part of western and central Uttar Pradesh. They extended eastwards in the southern parts of Uttar Pradesh perhaps as far as Kashi in the latest parts of the New Rigvedic period. But their culture had evolved differently from the Harappan culture, and was more akin to the culture of the Ikṣvāku culture to their north and east: in northeastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.5. To the south of these northern areas were the areas of the Yadus and, to their east, of the Turvasus: in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh-Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and northern Maharashtra.6. To the east of these areas, in Jharkhand, Orissa and Bengal and further east (greater Assam) were the areas of the speakers of the Austric languages.7. To the south, in southern Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana-Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu and Kerala, were the speakers of the Dravidian languages.8. In the border-areas of India - the Land of the Descendants of Manu - there were three more linguistic groups: the Andamanese people in the Andaman Islands, the Burushaski people in the areas of the northern Anus (in Gilgit in POK), and the Sino-Tibetan speakers in Ladakh, Tibet and the Himalayas. 9. Far out in the west outside the Indian sphere, the Mesopotamians (Sumerians, Akkadians) were having trade relations with the people of the Mature Harappan civilization, and Indus seals have been found at Akkadian sites from 2600 BCE onwards.This is the picture of ancient India, which, during the Mature Harappan period (= the New Rigvedic period) already had a tradition (long before latter-dayPersians and Greeks called them "Hindus") of a unique composite identity as the descendants of a common ancestor to whom the Puranas at least give the name "Manu".II. Hinduism.The Hindu religion is an amalgam of the religious features of all the different parts of India, not all of which are derived from the Vedas or the Vedic religion (which was only the religion of the first three northwestern areas named above):1. This northwestern religion is represented in the religion of the Anus (as in Iranian Zoroastrianism), the Druhyus (as in the Druidic religion of the Celts, and the Romuvan religion of the Lithuanians) and the Vedic texts of the Pūrus; and consisted of (a) worship of the elements, (b) the performance of fire-sacrifices, and (c) the composition and recitation of hymns.[Being more systematically organized, and having developed a unique and unparalleled technique of recording its sacred hymns by a mnemonic system known as the ghaṇa-pāṭha, this Pūru religion spread all over the rest of India in the next few millennia, absorbing, and in fact losing itself in, the diverse religions of the other "descendants of Manu", leading to the formation of modern-day Hinduism: the Parliament of all the religions of all the Descendants of Manu].2. The religion of the Yadus to their south in particular was more naturalistic, and consisted of the worship of mountains (e.g. govardhan parvata), forests and groves, trees and animals, etc. This was probably a basic feature of the kind of religion which prevailed over most of the rest of India, especially the areas of the easternPūrus.3. The religion of the Ikṣvākus to the east was more deep or spiritual, based on intuition, thought, logic and debate, and it is in their regions that we find the seeds of most of the philosophical and spiritual aspects of present-day Hinduism, including the Upaniṣads, Buddhism, Jainism, and even materialistic philosophies like the Cārvāka.4. The areas of the Austric speaking people to the east contributed much of present-day Tantric rites and beliefs, and perhaps even the concept of reincarnation.5. The areas of the Dravidian speaking people to the south (with perhaps some inputs from the Austric speakers of the east) contributed what is today the most central aspect of Hinduism: idol-worship, with all its accompanying features.To understand the centrality of idol-worship in Hinduism, note that this includes all the following features:1. The worship of consecrated idols, whether of:a) The lingam,b) "Rude blocks of stone" with eyes painted on them, orc) Roughly, or finely, carved, or cast, images of stone, metal or some other material. 2. The most popular Hindu deities in every single part of India, including Ayyappa of Kerala, Murugan of Tamilnadu, Balaji of Andhra, Vitthala (originally) of Karnataka (=Vithoba of Maharashtra), Khandoba of Maharashtra, Jagannatha of Orissa, etc., or the myriad forms of the Mother Goddess, with thousands of names, in every nook and corner of India. Also every single local (originally tribal) God and Goddess in every remote corner of India, in the form of the kuladevatās, the gṛhadevatās or the grāmadevatās of local tribes and communities.[In time, of course, myths were formed nominally associating many of these deities with one or the other of the main Gods and Goddesses of Puranic Hinduism as their manifestations, these Puranic Gods themselves being additions from different parts of India to the Hindu pantheon (or originally Vedic Gods like Vishnu and Rudra with basic characteristics adopted from the other local and tribal deities). But these associations were not an imposition “from above”, they were the result of popular local myth-making and part of the consolidation of the national popularization of the local deities: the deities mostly retained their local names, forms, myths, and special rituals and customs, and became all-India deities, objects of pilgrimages from distant areas].3.The entire process of idol-worship:a) Treating the idols as living beings: bathing, dressing and feeding them, putting them to sleep, etc.b) Performing pūjā by offering flowers (the word, which first appears indirectly in a very late interpolated verse in the Rigveda, is derived from the Dravidian pū or "flower"), water, milk, bananas and other fruits, coconuts, clothes and ornaments to the idols.c) Performing āratī by waving lights in front of the idols, and ringing bells;d) Singing with cymbals, and performing music and dance before the idols;e) Partaking of prasāda, of food offered to the idols.4. The entire system of idol-temples and pilgrim-centres, with sacred tanks and bathing-ghats, and of temples, and temple-festivals with palanquins and chariot-processions.Other vital aspects of Hinduism which are missing in the Vedic religion, but were adopted from the other Descendants of Manu, are:1. The use of ash, kumkuma, sandalpaste, turmeric, etc. for smearing or anointing on the idols, and/or on the foreheads of worshipper. From this follow two very fundamental outward symbols of Hinduism today:a) The tilak marks (of whatever material) on the forehead.b) The sacred saffron colour, and, by implication, also the saffron flag. 2. The idea of soul, and the concept of transmigration of souls, and rebirth. [This concept forms a very fundamental aspect of Hindu philosophy, and is the one concept accepted by all the schools of Hindu philosophy including the Buddhist and the Jain (only excepting the cārvāka and other nāstika schools of thought)]. 3. The enumeration of the days by the phases of the moon, the tithis. [The importance of the pañcāṅga (the annual calendar based on the tithis) in ritualistic Hinduism can never be underestimated]. 4. Zoomorphic aspects of Hinduism:a) The worship of certain animals, birds and reptiles. b) The concept of God coming down to earth in the form of zoomorphic avatāras (Narasiṁha, Kūrma, Matsya, Varāha); and, incidentally, even the very concept of God coming down to earth in the form of avatāras.c) The concept of every God and Goddess having a "vehicle" or some special animal or bird (Viṣṇu's Garūḍa, Gaṇeśa's mouse, Kārtikeya's peacock, Śiva's bull, Durgā's lion, etc). 5. A host of concepts, and socio-religious rituals, rites, superstitions and taboos (for example, the concept of the "evil eye" and rituals for its removal, or taboos against cutting nails at night, or beliefs in different types of spirits and demons) and important ethical concepts (vegetarianism, adopted from the Jain traditions of a section of the eastern Ikṣvākus). 6. Several sacred cities, rivers, mountains, lakes and tanks, located all over India outside the Vedic area, and ancient myths and legends associated with them (often adapted to Puranic mythology).7. A very wide range of materia botanica (coconuts, bananas, rice, sandalwood, turmeric, etc.) used in Hindu worship, native to the non-Vedic parts of the country and not referred to in Rigvedic rituals.NOTE: This spread of the Vedic religion from Haryana to the rest of India was no different from the spread in later times of Buddhism and Jainism from Bihar to the rest of India, and had no elements of "invasion" or "imposition" in it: all these three are component members of modern-day Hinduism. If anything, there was a very much higher degree of acceptance and absorption of religious rituals, concepts, Gods and philosophies in the spread of the Vedic religion. We must keep in mind that except for the Vedic hymns and yajñas, and the Vedic/Sanskrit language, there is little of the Pūru Vedic religion in present-day Hinduism, except as an invisible umbrella layer covering all the different aspects of Hinduism Category One. And even the Vedic rituals are performed in originally non-Pūru religious contexts: in temples and in the worship of idols, all of which were acquired from the Dravidian speakers of the South, and which, as we saw, have today a much more central and dominant role in Hinduism than the original Vedic religious contexts.What do I mean, above, by Hinduism Category One? As I put it at the very start of my article on "Are Indian Tribals Hindus?":"According to the Constitution of India, laws framed for Hindus apply to the following three categories of people:(a) to any person who is a Hindu by religion in any of its forms and developments, including a Virashaiva, a Lingayat or a follower of the Brahmo, Prarthana or Arya Samaj, (b) to any person who is a Buddhist, Jain or Sikh by religion, and (c) to any other person domiciled in the territories to which this Act extends who is not a Muslim, Christian, Parsi or Jew by religion.Thus, according to the constitution, every citizen of India, except a Muslim, a Christian, a Parsi or a Jew, is legally a Hindu. The constitution draws a distinction between three categories of legal Hindus:(a) Hindus Category One(consisting of all those who can still be categorised as full-fledged Hindus within the Hindu religious fold, including members of sects having antecedents traceable to mainline Hindu religious texts or individuals),(b) Hindus Category Two(consisting of members of the three sects, namely Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, founded by Hindu individuals, which originated as sects within the Hindu religious fold, but, in the course of history, came to acquire a more distinctive religious identity), and(c) Hindus Category Three(consisting of members of indigenous religious groups native to India, not founded by any particular individual, following ancestral forms of belief or worship not specifically having antecedents traceable to mainline Hindu religious texts or sects).[Hinduism is a Parliament of all the three categories]The people who are outside this purview themselves belong to two categories:(a) ex-Hindus, i.e. Muslims and Christians, who, by and large, are converts from the Hindu fold, and(b) non-Hindus, i.e. Jews and Parsis, who, in spite of different degrees of intermingling with local people, are by and large historical descendants of non-Hindu refugees or migrants from outside India"].To put matters in perspective about the three categories of Hinduism, let me quote a large section of my earlier article on "Are Indian Tribals Hindu?":Keeping in mind that by tribal religions, we are referring only to the Hindu Category Three religions (Sarna, Donyi Polo, Khasi, Meitei, Garo, and possibly others practiced by more microscopic sections of other isolated tribes), since the other tribals are themselves fully conscious that their religious practices are 'Hindu' (which is why they clearly declare their religion to be 'Hindu' in the census, as accepted even by the Joshua Project), can we say that these Hindu Category Three tribal religions are neutral between Christianity and Hinduism?The first and most fundamental factor which places Hinduism and these tribal religions in one fundamental category completely distinct from Christianity is the geographical factor. Hinduism Category One, Hinduism Category Two and Hinduism Category Three religions are all Indian religions, as distinct from Christianity which is a foreignimport.This has further automatic implications. It means that the sacred places, the sacred rivers, mountains and groves, the sacred plants, animals and birds, the materials used in religious rituals, etc. of allthe three Categories of religions are Indian. India is the stage of activity of the acts and events involving all the historical and mythological characters in the narratives of all these religions. The languages in which the original religious lore, poetry and traditions of allthese religions are couched are Indian languages. The traditional religious music, the traditional religious food, the traditional religious costumes, etc. of all these religions are representative of the traditional culture of some part or the other of India. The traditional religious beliefs and rituals of all these religions are derived from their Indianancestors. This geographical factor alone and in itself is so important that Dr Ambedkar placed emphasis not only on the necessity of placing in one legal class the followers of all religions other than those of foreign origin (Islam, Christianity, Zoroastrianism and Judaism), but put the matter in even more categorical terms with specific reference to the question of conversion itself: 'If the depressed classes join Islam or Christianity, they not only go out of the Hindu religion, but they also go out of the Hindu culture…What the consequences of conversion will do to the country as a whole is well worth bearing in mind. Conversion to Islam or Christianity will denationalize the depressed classes' (Dhanajay Keer: 'Dr Ambedkar: Life and Mission', p.279). That conversion to Christianity (or Islam) would 'denationalize' the converted Indians, with adverse 'consequences'for 'the country as a whole' was very clearly a matter of deep concern to him.But the geographical factor is only the beginning. Quite apart from the fact that there is no form of religious belief or philosophy (from atheism, through agnosticism, to all forms of 'theism', and from the most 'ahimsak' philosophy to the most violent bloody rituals) which is not found in some part or the other of Hinduism, and which therefore, basically makes it almost impossible to point out fundamental opposition between Hinduism and any particular tribal religious system, the fact is that all the tribal religions have features which fit into the most basic accepted definitions of standard Hinduism: idol-worship, totemism, polytheism, pantheism, animism, worship of the elements and of nature, belief in reincarnation, ancestor worship, etc., every single one of which is pure anathema to Christianity. Note that in the Wikipedia entry on the Karbi tribe, quoted earlier, we are told with a straight face that the 'practitioners of traditional worship believe in reincarnation and honour the ancestors'. In fact, almost all these elements, and even most of the local deities in every village and town of India, which are now the core of Hinduism, entered standard Hindu religion from these very local tribal religions in the course of millenniums of mutual interaction and influence; even as every local tribe and community preserved its own religious traditions without interference, a circumstance which would have been impossible in a Christian dominated country. And by this is not meant only some mediaeval Inquisition-instituting and Crusades-mongering Christian country: see what has been the fate of other Pagan religions which have fallen prey to the Proselytising Armies in the very citadel of the Proselytisers, the U.S.A., which, along with its other white colleague nations (in Europe, Australia and the Americas), is always first and foremost in condemning any curbs on “religious freedom” (read curbs on missionaries) in India, and which prides itself on being the beacon of internal Democracy and Freedom:'From the 1600s European Catholic and Protestant denominations sent missionaries to convert the tribes to Christianity. These efforts intensified during the mid 19th century through mid-20'th as US Government and Christian churches' joint efforts forcibly registered Native Americans as Christians, which caused contemporaneous official government records (and sources that reference these government records) to show 'Christianity' as the majority religion of Native Americans for the past 100 years. These forcible conversions often occurred through US government and Christian church cooperative efforts that forcibly removed Native American children from their families, and forcibly moved those Native children into a Christian-US government operated system of American Indian boarding schools (aka The Residential Schools) where Native children were indoctrinated in European Christian beliefs, mainstream American culture and the English language. This forcible conversion and suppression of Indigenous languages and cultures continued through the 1970s.As part of the US government's suppression of traditional Indigenous religions, most ceremonial ways were banned for over 80 years by a series of US Federal laws that banned traditional sweat lodge and sun dance ceremonies, among others. This government persecution and prosecution continued until 1978 with the passage of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA).' (Wikipedia entry on 'Native American Religion')All this, please note, was being done blatantly and on a war footing in the U.S.A. till 1978. Must we assume there was a sudden magical about turn in that year which miraculously brought about an overwhelming love for the indigenous religions of the native American Indians in the hearts of those who had been carrying on the above mentioned activities so blatantly till then, and that the suppression and persecution completely ceased thereafter?When those same ruthless forces of Christian Evangelization, who thought nothing of indulging in the above barbarism to destroy the native religions of the U.S.A., send their Proselytizing Armies into India to do the same to the native religions of India (whether Hindu Category One, Two or Three), clearly it is the duty of all the native religions to unite against the common enemy. And clearly it is not only the right of Hindus to protect the tribals (whether Hindu Category One, Two or Three) from the depredations of Christian missionaries, it is their sacred duty to protect their fellow-Indians and fellow-Hindus from these wolves. Anyone who has read beyond the leftist and missionary sponsored articles in the media blaming Hindu organisations, every time there is conflict over conversions in tribal areas, will see that the conflicts are basically between the converted tribals and the non-converted tribals, the latter literally fighting a last-ditch battle for the preservation of their ancestral religions from the Proselytising Armies with their multi-pronged military divisions.Note: (1) Hinduism Category One itself is basically a Parliament of (Indian) Religions. (2) If there are some religions born out of mainstream Hinduism (Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism) which have acquired distinctive identities over the centuries, they have still remained part of the Hindu cultural stream (having a common history, a common viewpoint towards life, common religious symbols like Om, respect for Sanskrit as a Sacred language and for the saffron colour as a Sacred colour, vegetarianismas an ideal ethic, similar religious-philosophical terms and institutions, etc., and, as Dr. Ambedkar pointed out: 'The application of the Hindu Code to Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains was a historical development, and it would be too late, sociologically, to object to it. When the Buddha differed from the Vedic Brahmins, he did so only in matters of creed, but left the Hindu legal framework intact. He did not propound a separate law for his followers. The same was the case with Mahavir and the ten Sikh Gurus' (Keer, p.427).) And, (3) if some tribal religions have retained or acquired identities with a distinctive name, all these are included within the different Categories of Hinduism (One, Two and Three), which together form a Full Parliament of Indian Religions. In fact, all these Categories of Hinduism fall within a larger Parliament of World Religions,namely Paganism (which includes all the native religions which existed in the world before the rise of the Abrahamic Religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam).III. Data and Devices for Elaboration of Historical Identities.Any story or novel placed in the area and period of the Mature Harappan = New Rigvedic civilization must keep the following points in mind:A. The Various ethnic groups within or from the Harappan area:1. The Mature Harappan = New Rigvediccivilization itself has a western part centered around the Indus and an eastern part centered around the Sarasvatī:a) The people of the eastern part are mainly the central Pūrus in Haryana.b) The people in the north of the western part, in the Greater Punjab area (now united in an area which, in the Early Harappan = Old Rigvedic period before the westward expansion of the Bharata Pūrus led by Sudās, was probably predominantly Anu) consist of a combination of mainly the eastern Anus and the western Pūrus.c) The people in the south of the western part are mainly the western Yadus in the south in Sind and Gujarat, in the areas of the ports and coastline.Perspective: These internal divisions among the people of the Mature Harappan civilization could form one of the features lending dimensions and nuances to the storyline: perhaps by showing romance, friendships, rivalries, etc. between individualsbelonging to different groups..While doing this, the following points must be kept in mind:All these various people are equally Indian and equally part of the Harappan civilization as well as of our ancestral heritage, and a non-partisan attitude must be shown in showing the different relationships and internal equations between the various groups: there should be no prejudice in depicting heroes and villains. The good people and bad people, peacemakers and mischief-mongers, broad-minded or cosmopolitan people and narrow-minded or orthodox people, etc. would naturally be found among all the groups.In referring, if ever, to past events where Sudās and the Bharata Pūrus expanded into the western part, there should again be a distribution of opinions and attitudes among the various characters in the story, perhaps even an emphasis on disapproval of such imperialistic conflict.2. It must be remembered that these different groups have ethnic links with people outside the actual Mature Harappan civilization:a) The western Pūrus in the northern-western part of the civilization have ancestral links not only with the central Pūrus in the eastern part, but also with the eastern Pūrus spread out in the Uttar Pradesh area beyond the Harappan area.b) The western Yadus in the southern-western part of the civilization have ancestral links with other Yadus to their east (Rajasthan, Madhya-Pradesh) and south (southern Gujarat and northern Maharashtra) on the periphery of the urban civilization or outside it.c) The eastern Anus in the northern-western part of the civilization have ancestral links with the western Anus in the westernmost areas: i.e. the border areas with Afghanistan and in Afghanistan itself (the proto-Avestan and Avestan Iranians) and the last remnants of Druhyus in that area.Perspective: All these are factors which can be woven into the storyline and narrative from a sympathetic viewpoint, perhaps even showing how the characters balance ethnic relationships with groups outside the Harappan area with civilizational relationships with other groups within.3. There are many northwestern groups who departed from India:a) The various groups of Druhyus:the Uttara-Kuru (Tocharians) in eastern Central Asia,the Uttara-Madra or Hittites/Anatolians (in western Central Asia, from where they migrated westwards around the Caspian Sea into Turkey), andthe main Druhyu groups (the proto-Italic, proto-Celtic, proto-Germanic, proto-Baltic and proto-Slavic speakers in that order) on their way from Central Asia to eastern (and in the course of time to the whole of) Europe, and the trail of remnants of these people left in Central Asia.b) The various groups of Anus:the western Anus (proto-Albanian, proto-Greek and proto-Armenian, in that order) already spread out in this period from Iran (and areas to its north) to the Caucasus and south-eastern Europe, andthe central Anus (the proto-Iranian tribes) in Afghanistan and border areas of Central Asia, poised to spread out later over the whole of Central Asia, Iran and the Steppes right up to eastern Europe, absorbing and Iranianizing in their wake the remnants in these areas of the earlier western Anu emigrants.c) The groups of western Pūrus who migrated out of India in the wake of the two (Druhyu and Anu migrations): the Pūrus (and Anus) who migrated northwards and westwards through the Steppes into eastern Europe, taking (now extinct in those areas) forms of Indo-Aryan and Iranian speech which influenced the Finno-Ugric languages; and the Pūrus (proto-Mitanni and proto-Kassites) who migrated into the Zagros mountains of Iran, later to spread out into West Asia and establish (around 1500 BCE) the Mitanni kingdom in the Syria-Iraq area. Perspective: A new dimension can be introduced concerning memories and old tales (perhaps retained and related by bards or wise rishis/elders), or contemporary accounts (maybe through some individuals returning back from those distant lands, or through traders), concerning some of these groups who had departed from India.4. There were originally three priestly classes in the northwest:a) the Druhyu in the west (priests of all the western tribes who were also called by the general name Druhyu on account of the name of their priestly class, who survived as the Drui or Druid among the Celts in Ireland),b) the Bhṛgu or Atharvan (priests of the Anus) andc) the Angiras (priests of the Pūrus).That these were the three classes is confirmed by the Vedic, Avestan and Celtic records: the Avesta (Vendidad 19) shows an Angra and a Druj as the rivals of Atharvan Zarathushtra, the Rigveda (VII.18.16) records a Bhṛgu and a Druhyu as the enemy priests of the enemy coalition, while the Angiras are the priests of the Pūru Bharatas from the earliest period.In later post-Rigvedic times, the Indo-Aryan vs. Iranian conflicts are remembered in both the traditions by converting one of the two names for "Gods" into "demons": for the Avesta, the Gods are Ahuras and the demons are Daevas, while for the Vedic tradition, the Gods are Devas and the demons are Asuras. Further, the priest of the Gods in the Puranas and Epics is Bṛhaspati, an Aṅgiras, and the priest of the Demons is Kavi Uśanas Śukrācārya, a Bhṛgu. The Bhṛgu or Atharvan were the wisest and most innovative of the three classes of priests, and are remembered in both the other traditions for the introduction of the yajña or fire-worship rituals: the Bhṛgus are credited for this in the Rigveda itself, and in Celtic tradition the eternal fire is associated with the temples of a Goddess named Brigit. (Later Bhṛgus developed the cremation rites in the tenth book of the Rigveda and in the Atharvaveda, which, because of its association with the Bhṛgus, was initially considered outside the pale of orthodoxy, and was later adopted into the fold by calling it the Atharvāṅgiras Samhita).In the Rigvedic period itself, one section of the Bhṛgu priests, Jamadagni and his descendants dissociated from the Anus and became affiliated to the Pūrus. Seven other priestly families came into existence besides the original Aṅgirases and Bhṛgus: i.e. the Viśvāmitras, Vasiṣṭhas, Agastyas, Gṛtsamadas, Kaśyapas, Atris and Kaṇvas, as well as a composer family from among the Bharata kings.Of these, the Bhṛgus continued to lead the pack:a) the Bhṛgus are enumerated first in the gotra-pravara lists,b) Kṛṣṇa in the Bhagavadgita says "among priests, I am Bhṛgu",c) the Bhṛgus are the only family to have recensions of all the four Vedic Samhitas: in fact the only recension of the Rigveda is a Bhṛgu recension (Śākala), and the main writers associated with all the subsidiary texts (the Padapatha, the Anukramanis, the Rigvidhana, the Ashtadhyayi and the Nirukta) all belong to Bhṛgu gotras (Śākalya, Śaunaka, Pāṇini, Yāska).So do the writers of the one system of philosophy associated with Vedic ritual (Pūrva Mīmāṁsā = Jaimini), the Rāmāyaṇa (Vālmīki), and the final redactors of the Mahabharata (not Vedavyāsa himself, who was a Vasiṣṭha).It is persons from Bhṛgu gotras who later gave shape to the most distinctive and prominent Indian positions on kāma, artha, dharma and mokṣa: Vātsyāyana, Kauṭilya, and Ādi Śaṅkarācārya.Perspective: All these distinctions can be kept in mind while writing stories, all the while keeping a neutral stance between inter-family rivalries.Also, there is a distinct difference between these settled and organized rishis and another class of holy men who are classified as "muni" in the Rigveda (though we would today regard both muni and rishi as the same): these are referred to in 4 hymns in the Rigveda (VII.56.8; VIII.6.17; t17.14; X.136-2-5), and the term apparently refers to wandering sadhus, also called keśins because of their long hair left flowing as they literally seem to fly through the air. In historical or geographical terms, it seems to be a word for holy men from the forests in the interior of India outside and to the east and south of the Harappan civilization areas. [To put it unambiguously, the difference today between shaven-headed brahmin priests with a choti, and sadhusmeditating in forests and mountains with long hair and matted locks, was in the Vedic period the difference between rishis and munis. In our films and in popular perception, all the ancient rishis are depicted like the present-day sadhus, but actually in the Vedic period, they were rather like present-day brahmin priests!] B. The Technology of the Mature Harappan civilization:The Mature Harappan civilization was one of the most highly advanced civilizations of the time in many ways. All these features (apart from the trade angle mentioned above) have to be introduced into the storyline, perhaps by associating important characters with the various features:Some of the very important features are:1. Town-planning, egalitarian architecture and the brick-making industry.The main centre of Rigvedic composition was in the eastern half of the Harappan civilization, on the banks of the Sarasvati, among the centralPūrus. And the hymns of the Rigveda were composed mainly as hymns to be recited in religious contexts: bricks are referred to in the Yajurveda in connection with the construction of fire altars.2. The bead-making industry:The making of beads and ornaments was a very important industry in the Mature Harappan civilization, and these beads and ornament materials were a major item of export to the west.Significantly, the word maṇi for "bead" or "ornament" (found only in the latest part of the New Rigveda in I.33.8 and I.122.14), is the onlygeneral word (apart from personal names and names of Gods) taken westwards by boththe proto-Avestan Iranians and proto-Mitanni Indo-Aryans from the Harappan area.3. Cattle-breeding and Dairy-farming:Strangely, while people love to claim that the Harappans were "urbanites" (in contrast with alleged "Steppe pastoralists" who are claimed to have brought Indo-European languages into India), the truth is that cattle-breeding and dairy-farming was one of the main industries in the Mature Harappan civilization: of course outside the urban city-limits.[The wikipedia article on "Cattle" unambiguously tells us: "Archeozoological and genetic data indicate that cattle were first domesticated from wild aurochs (Bos primigenius) approximately 10,500 years ago. There were two major areas of domestication: one in the area that is now Turkey, giving rise to the taurine line, and a second in the area that is now Pakistan, resulting in the indicine line[….] European cattle are largely descended from the taurine lineage". All other academic sources regularly point out that "the Indus Valley Civilization" was one of the two centers of domestication of cattle. No-one has been able to show the presence of the western cattle, bos taurus, which would necessarily have been the species of domesticated cattle that "pastoralists" from the Steppes would have brought into India. The Indian cattle in the area before and since Harappan times have been the Indian zebu humped cattle native to that area itself. On the contrary, very recent scientific studies have confirmed that the Indian humped zebu cattle, domesticated in the Harappan area since thousands of years, suddenly started appearing in West Asia around 2200 BCE, and by 2000 BCE there was large-scale mixing of the Indian zebu cattle, bos indicus, with the genetically distinct western species of cattle, bos taurus, in West Asia. Thus we have three very distinct animal species native to India - the elephant, the peacock and the domesticated Indian zebu cattle - appearing in West Asia exactly coinciding with the presence and activities of the Mitanni in West Asia at the time, thus confirming that the Mitanni people were migrants from India to West Asia around 2200 BCE: https://science.sciencemag.org/content/365/6449/173]4. Ship-Building and Ports:In the southern parts, in the region of the western Yadus, in Sind and Gujarat, ship-building, port construction and management, and trade through the seas, constituted the main industries.5. Elephant Breeding and the Ivory Industry: Breeding of elephants, ivory-carving, and the export of ivory and ivory-products, were major industries in the Harappan area from very early pre-Harappan times. [As I have shown in detail in my article "The Elephant and the Proto-Indo-European Homeland", the word for elephant/ivory was taken westwards by at least three distinct groups of Indo-European emigrants, as testified by Greek eléphas(Mycenean Greek erepa), Italic (Latin) ebur, and Hittite laḫpa-, all, like the Vedic ibha-, derived from an original *ṛbha- (with the same etymological meaning as the later word hastin). Ivory products, and even baby elephants, were exported to Mesopotamia and further west. Ships carried Harappan ivory not only to ports on the Horn of Africa (from where the ivory as well as the Egyptian name for it, derived from East Cushitic *ʔarb- 'elephant', itself derived from the pre-Vedic word *ṛbha- were carried into Egypt) but also as far as the coast of Portugal and the south-western coast of Spain as far back as 3000 BCE].6. Agriculture and Urban Grain Management, and the Pottery Industry:That agriculture was independently (of West Asia) developed in the Harappan area has been overwhelmingly confirmed recently by archaeologists and even geneticists! The administrative machinery for collecting, storing and distributing the agricultural products in the different parts of the urban and rural parts of the Harappan civilization must naturally have been a major industry in itself. The huge granaries are also witness to this.Needless to say, the pottery industry was also a part of this rural-urban composite system.7. Water-management and the Drainage System:This was one of the two most unique features of the Harappan civilization which put it far ahead of all contemporary civilizations, and ahead of almost all other urban areas even to this very day! That the Harappans had pipes and coveredunderground drainage systems is something unbelievable. Obviously there must have been a regular administrative "municipal" system seeing to the smooth working of all this, with regular paid employees!8. Street Lighting System:This was the second of the two most unique features of the Harappan civilization which put it far ahead of all contemporary civilizations, and ahead of almost all other urban areas even to this very day: the Harappans had street lights, obviously not electrical ones, but lights which had to be lighted every evening or night, and therefore, again, a systematic administrative system to carry out all this, again with regular paid employees.These are some of the features of the civilization which can be brought out in the storyline, the cast of characters and the narratives.[Needless to say, many more can be thought of: e.g. the mining of metals like copper, etc. in interior areas of India, copper items producing industries, metal exporting traders and guilds - the possibilities are almost unlimited].One more important point to be remembered is that the central part of the Mature Harappan = New Rigvedic period (2600-1700 BCE) was the time when two important technological innovations were developed in and around the northwestern parts of the Harappan area - the area where the proto-Mitanni Pūrus and the proto-Iranian Anus were poised to migrate westwards to their historical frontiers. These were:a) the domestication of the Bactrian camel, which is recorded in the Rigveda (in VIII.5.37; 6.48; 46.22,31) as being gifted by kings with what various western scholars (including Witzel) describe as Iranian names to Vedic rishis; andb) the invention of spoked-wheels and spoke-wheeled chariots, which are totally missing in the Old Rigveda but suddenly appear in the New Rigveda.The introduction of these in the Harappan civilization, and their socio-economic and technological effects, could provide ideas for plots and situations in the storyline.C. Links with Western Civilizations:The main known links of the Harappans with western civilizations are those with the Mesopotamians or Babylonians. It is known that the Harappans traded with Mesopotamia: two words identified as Babylonian words are found in the Rigveda, both in book 8 which is the heart of the Mature Harappan period, and both have connections with traders. They are:1. bekanāṭa (money-lender to traders referred to in the same verse) in VIII.66.10 and2. manā (a unit of measure which is still used to this day) in VIII.78.2.Perspective: The thriving commerce between the Harappans and the Babylonians can be introduced into the storyline, through traders from Babylon or Harappan traders who travel regularly to Babylon. These two words can also be introduced in some way (e.g. with someone explaining their meaning and contexts to a curious Harappan citizen).D. The Southern Dravidian Connection, and the East and North within India:As we saw, the period of the Mature Harappan = New Rigvedic civilization and culture was a culturally very rich and diverse one, where the people of this civilization had not only developed into a unique highly evolved civilization in the technical sense, but had developed strong trade relations with civilizations and areas far to their west. Harappan ships travelled not only to the ports of the Gulf, but probably into the Mediterranean Sea as well. Can it be possible that the areas of the south and east within India itself remained unknown to them, or remained out of the sphere of their contacts?As we saw, Indian tradition squarely places the Harappan civilization in the areas of the Anus, the western and central Pūrus, and the western Yadus. But it recognizes the relationship of these people with the people and cultures of the other parts of India: the eastern Indo-European speaking people (the Ikṣvākus) as well as the Dravidian speaking people of the South and the Austric speaking people of the East, all of whom are classified as descendants of a mythical common ancestor, whom the Puranas call Manu.So why is there no reference to these other people to the South or East?As we saw, the only evidence in the New Rigveda of the rich trade relationship with Mesopotamia is in the shape of just two words, bekanāṭa and manā. So we cannot expect detailed accounts of the South and East in the localized hymns of the Rigveda in that early period. But surely there must have been somerelationship, and this must have left some evidence in the text? In reaction to the invasionist tendency to search for linguistic evidence of "pre-Aryan natives", there is usually a reaction-tendency on the part of Indians to reject the presence of non-Indo-Aryan, especially Dravidian, elements in the Rigveda. This is also correct in the sense that civilization and culture developed differently in different parts of the country, and the Rigvedic culture of the northwest in its initial stages (i.e. in the Old Rigveda, restricted to Haryana and its immediate environs) need not necessarily show elements from other parts of India. But what about in the period of the Mature Harappan = New Rigvedic civilization with its far-reaching trade contacts and relations?In my 2008 book "The Rigveda and the Avesta - The Final Evidence", I noted the situation as follows: "Witzel’s first linguistic arguments, in section 11.5 (WITZEL 2005:344-346) have to do with what he calls 'Linguistic substrates'. This issue has been discussed in great detail in TALAGERI 2000:293-308 (and earlier in TALAGERI 1993:197-215). We will not repeat all the arguments and counter-arguments here, except for stressing the difference between 'substrate' words and 'adstrate' words (see section 6B of chapter 6 earlier in this book). In fact, let us accept that there may be some adstrate words of Dravidian or Austric origin in 'Indo-Aryan' ― perhaps we protested a bit too much in our earlier books, due to the implications sought to be drawn from such alleged 'non-Indo-Aryan' words in Classical or even Vedic Sanskrit. The word kāṇa 'one-eyed', in the RV, for example, is obviously derived from the Dravidian word kaṇ 'eye'. Other, not implausible suggestions include the words daṇḍa and kuṭa". (p.292).As a matter of fact, an examination of the actual Rigvedic data shows us that the Rigvedic culture included some Dravidian elements. These elements were not residual elements of an original Dravidian Harappan civilization invaded and taken over by invading "Aryans", as often suggested, they are new elements imported from the Dravidian South. This is proved by the fact that:1. They are not found in the Old Rigveda, and the geographical names in the Old Rigveda show that Dravidian speaking people never lived in the Harappan area before or during that period.2. They are found as incidental elements in the New Rigveda, in a period which shows massive oversea trade contacts even with foreign places like Mesopotamia, and which is the period preceding the Avestan and Mitanni eras: the common elements with the Avesta and the Mitanni are abundantly found in the same texts and hymns which show these incidental Dravidian elements.3. The Indian traditions and linguistics unambiguously and very clearly connect the people associated with these elements with the South. And these people are not inimical to the Rigvedic culture but a part of it.There seem to be at least two distinct streams of originally Dravidian speaking rishis:1. To begin with, the Rigveda contains two important words - very important and common in later Sanskrit as well as in modern Indo-Aryan, but found only once each in the Rigveda - of undoubtedly Dravidian origin. These are:a) the verbal root pūj- "to worship (an idol) with flowers", derived from the Dravidian, e.g. Tamil pū-, "flower", representing a form of worship totally unknown to the Vedic culture, and representing the religion of the South.b) the word kāṇa, "one-eyed" or "cross-eyed", very clearly derived from the Dravidian, e.g. Tamil kaṇ, "eye",When we examine where these two words are found (both in the New Rigveda), it is as follows:a) pūj- in VIII.17.12, attributed to Irimbiṭhi Kāṇva, b) kāṇa in X.155.1, attributed to ŚirimbiṭhaBhāradvāja.It cannot be a coincidence that both the words are composed by two different rishis with such strikingly similar, unusual and non-Indo-Aryan names. The rishi-ascriptions in book 10 are very often garbled - in my 2000 book "The Rigveda - A historical Analysis", pp.25-26, I had written "Maṇḍala X is a very late Maṇḍala and stands out from the other nine Maṇḍalas in many respects. One of these is the general ambiguity in the ascriptions of the hymns to their composers. In respect of 44 hymns, and 2 other verses, it is virtually impossible to even identify the family of the composer" - and it is perfectly possible the composer of X.155 is also the same as the composer of VIII.17, i.e. Irimbiṭhi Kāṇva.The name is clearly Dravidian: in fact, we still have a place in Kerala named Irimbiḷiyam: it is not impossible that this, or a nearby area, is the home-area of this Rigvedic composer - more than 4000 years old! Note that there are two more words in the same hymn, VIII.17, which have also been identified as Dravidian:a) -khaṇḍ- in VIII.17.12,b) kuṇḍa in VIII.17.13,and, to crown it all, the word muni, found in only 4 hymns in the whole of the Rigveda, and referring to holy men from the non-Vedic areas of the East and South within India, is also found in the next verse: in VIII.17.14. That we should have so many indications in three consecutive verses is incredible but extremely significant.Very clearly, this rishi Irimbiṭhi is a person from the Dravidian South who, in a manner similar to members of different religious orders in present-day India who are found in parts of India other than their area of origin, migrated to the busy cosmopolitan Mature Harappan = New Rigvedic civilization area from the South and subsequently became a Rigvedic rishi.2. But Indian tradition has one more, and a very important, rishi who is unanimously and resoundingly associated, in the traditions of both the North and the South, with the South: Agastya. Puranic and Epic tradition tells us that Agastya migrated to the South and settled down there. But here is what Wikipedia has to say:"Agastya was a revered Vedicsage of Hinduism. In the Indian tradition, he is a noted recluse and an influential scholar in diverse languages of the Indian subcontinent. He and his wife Lopamudra are the celebrated authors of hymns 1.165 to 1.191 in the Sanskrittext Rigveda and other Vedic literature. Agastya appears in numerous itihasas and puranas including the major Ramayana and Mahabharata. He is one of the seven or eight most revered rishisin the Vedic texts, and is revered as one of the Tamil Siddharin the Shaivism tradition, who invented an early grammar of the Tamil language, Agattiyam, playing a pioneering role in the development of Tampraparniyan medicine and spirituality at Saiva centres in proto-era Sri Lanka and South India. He is also revered in the Puranicliterature of Shaktism and Vaishnavism. He is one of the Indian sages found in ancient sculpture and reliefs in Hindu temples of South Asia, and Southeast Asia such as in the early medieval era Shaiva temples on Java Indonesia. He is the principal figure and Guru in the ancient Javanese language text Agastyaparva, whose 11th century version survives. Agastya is traditionally attributed to be the author of many Sanskrit texts such as the Agastya Gita found in Varaha Purana, Agastya Samhita found embedded in Skanda Purana, and the Dvaidha-Nirnaya Tantra text. He is also referred to as Mana, Kalasaja, Kumbhaja, Kumbhayoni and Maitravaruni after his mythical origins."Even more to the point: "The etymological origin of Agastya has several theories. One theory states that the root […] is derived from a flowering tree called Agati gandiflora, which is endemic to the Indian subcontinent and is called Akatti in Tamil. This theory suggests that Agati evolved into Agastih, and favors Dravidian origins of the Vedic sage".He is a "non-Aryan Dravidian whose ideas influenced the north […] In Southern sources and the North Indian Devi-Bhagavata Purana, his ashramis based in Tamil Nadu, variously placed in Tirunelveli, Pothiyal hills, or Thanjavur".Therefore, despite later legends taking him from the North to the South, historically he was probably a Dravidian sage from the South who, or rather whose descendants, migrated northwards and became an important part of the Rigvedic priesthood, being recognized as a separate and independent family of Rigvedic rishis:a) Tradition shows him to be different from the other Vedic rishis, more of a recluse and a forest-dweller, who prefers to stay away from the glamour and lucre of urban settings and royal patronage.b) He is totally absent from the major part of the Rigveda, and his descendants have hymns only in the New Rigveda (mainly in book 1, where most of the Dravidian words are found) but tradition not only outside the Rigveda but even within the Rigveda (VII.33.10) consistently portrays him as an ancient Rishi contemporaneous to Vasiṣṭha.c) The only reference to him, outside the New books 1 and 8 (I.117.11; 170.3; 179.6; 180.8; 184.5; VIII.5.26), is an incidental one in a RedactedHymn, probably redacted by a descendant, in VII.33.10. And this hymn has a Dravidian word daṇḍa in the next verse VII.33.11. 3. The arrival of the Irimbiṭhas and Agastyas into the Rigvedic area in the Mature Harappan period seems to have brought in a small stream of Dravidian words, which stream became a small flood in later post-Vedic Classical Sanskrit.The following is a list of other words allegedly of Dravidian origin, found in the Rigveda: vaila, kiyāmbu, vriś, cal-, bila, lip-, kaṭuka, kuṇḍṛṇācī (?), piṇḍa, mukha, kuṭa, kūṭa, khala, ulūkhala, kāṇuka, sīra, naḍa/naḷa, kulpha, kuṇāru, kalyāṇa, kulāya, lāṅgala. They are found only in the New Rigveda and in the Redacted Hymns, except for the occurrence of mukha in IV.39.6, kulāya in VII.50.1, and kulpha in VII.50.2. But note that Arnold (whom Hock cites as an expert on these matters) has classified both these hymns IV.39 and VII.50 also as Redacted Hymns on metrical grounds: so we do not find a single one of these Dravidian words in the Old Rigveda! The references (other than those already mentioned) are found as follows:Redacted Hymns:VI. 15.16; 47.23; 75.15.III. 30.8; 53.6.IV. 57.4; 58.8.New Rigveda:I. 11.5; 28.1-6; 29.6; 31.9; 32.11; 33.1,3,3; 46.4; 97.6,7; 144.5; 162.2,19; 164.48; 174.9; 191.1,3,4. VIII. 1.33; 43.10; 77.4.X. 16.13; 30.5; 48.7; 81.3; 85.34; 90.11-13; 102.4; 173.1,2..Remember, these Dravidian rishis and words are found in the New Rigveda before 2000BCE, nearly two millenniums before the Tamil Sangam Era! And also long before the first appearance of the Mitanni in Syria-Iraq and the Indo-European Iranians (Persians, Parthians, Medians) in Iran! So the Vedic-Dravidian relationship is an old and friendly one.[A few other words, often gratuitously and unwarrantedly - and controversially - sought to be branded as Dravidian words, such as mayūra, phala, bala, gardabha, puṣpa, puṣkara, are rejected by most linguists as Dravidian words:a) Witzel (although he continues to insist it is a "non-Aryan" word borrowed by Sanskrit, inspite of the fact that the name is a purely onomatopoeic name derived from the Sanskrit root mā) rejects mayūraas a Dravidian word in his article "Aryan and non-Aryan names in the Vedic India" (although this is particularly an article in which he goes berserk identifying as non-Aryan even words like Yadu and Pūru!!!).b) Rendich Franco (in his "comparative Etymological Dictionary of Classical Indo-European languages") gives the PIE roots and cognate forms in Greek and Latin for the word phala, and likewise the PIE root for the words puṣpaand puṣkara. c) Mallory and Adams (in their "Encyclopaedia of Indo-European culture") point out that bala is derived from PIE *belos, calling it "the strongest etymology containing the very rare PIE *b-", and give cognate forms in Greek, Latin and Old Church Slavic.d) The word gardabha, though a late word found only in the New Rigveda and Redacted hymns, has a cognate form in Tocharian kercapo, in Central Asia, and in any case, the donkey is native to the northwest and not the south, and cannot be derived from the Tamil kazhutha under any circumstance].Perspective: But how is all this to be interpreted? Although there were important Dravidian rishis from the South within the Vedic ethos in the New Rigveda, the Pūru Vedic religion (similar to the religion of the Anus and Druhyus) was different from that of the East and the South: its main features were worship of the elements, fire-worship in the form of yajñas, and the composition, memorization and recitation of hymns. We have already seen the religious features of the other parts of India in section II above (Hinduism). Therefore, although there were Dravidian rishis in the Mature Harappan era and area who participated in the Rigvedic and post-Rigvedic religion and culture, the actual native religion of the South, with its emphasis on idol-worship and temple culture (described earlier), represented a very different ethos which must already have contained and developed the early seeds of most of the rich arts, crafts, architecture, cuisine (minus, of course, specific items like potatoes and chilies which were introduced by the Portuguese a few centuries ago from the Americas), and music and dance unique to India associated with idol-worshipping Hinduism today.All this can be depicted in the storyline in countless ways:1. There can be local priests belonging to the Irimbitha and Agastya clans active in the storyline.2. There can be traders from the Dravidian South coming to the Harappan ports and interior cities for trade and their interaction with the local traders and Harappan citizens (in which Dravidian words and items can be introduced, including references to southern spices).3. There can be Harappan traders going in ships to trade in the South, or Harappan travelers, coming back with awed tales, told to fascinated Harappan listeners, about the great temples, rituals and ceremonies, arts and crafts, and performing arts witnessed there. Also, about the great mountains, forests and wildlife of the South.4. For good measure, we can also have:a) old bards relating old lore about the people of the South and East as representing the southern and eastern descendants of Manu, orb) mystic seers going into a trance and foretelling about future times when evil worshippers of strange religions would come to India from far-off areas and, with the help of diverse disruptive elements within the land, try to create schisms among the descendants of Manu by pitting the Southern descendants of Manu against the Northern ones. 5. Likewise, there can be ways of introducing, in a respectful friendly and fraternal manner, references (by other Harappans travelers within the frontiers of India) to the languages and cultures, natural wonders, and the religious features (already described in section II earlier) of the other parts of India - of the easternYadus, Ikṣvākus, the Austric speakers, and further eastern people; as well as the peoples in the Himalayas; and maybe even in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lanka. ......
Mourne Mountains fire fighting operation to continue into third day...
3 weeks ago
Firefighters have been tackling huge gorse blaze in the Northern Ireland beauty spot since FridayAn operation to put out one of the largest gorse fires in recent years in Northern Ireland is to continue into a third day.More than 100 firefighters have been tackling the blaze in the Mourne Mountains since Friday. Continue reading.........
Cetaceans at the Surface...
Sea Watch Foundation
1 month ago
One of the main reasons we enjoy dolphin and whale watching is the unique behaviour that we can see from the surface. Imagine the deafening splash from a 30,000 kg breaching humpback, the rainbow mist created when a blue whale blows and surfaces, and the graceful leaps made by a bottlenose dolphin bow riding. These surface behaviours are not only fun to watch, but more importantly, documenting dolphin and whale behaviour is critical for their conservation. Being able to compare behaviour frequencies before and after an environmental disruption (ie, increased boat traffic, oil drilling, channel building, etc.) is essential in understanding human and environmental impacts on cetacean populations. However, behaviours must be consistently described in order to be useful to the scientific community. To facilitate consistent behaviour descriptions, scientists have established species specific ethograms, or categorized lists of described behaviours. This way, researchers across the globe can record accurate behaviour frequencies when sighting a cetacean. Ethograms typically consist of defined activity states (aka behavioural states) and behavioural events. Activity states are long duration behaviours such as foraging, whereas behavioural events are short duration behaviours that occur such as fish-whacking. “With specific definitions of activity state categories and behavio[ural] event types, the [behaviour] of a species can be described, quantified, and compared across populations.” Baker et al., 2017 Activity States Cetaceans often perform a variety of behavioural events that fall within each activity state category. Activity states include socializing, feeding, resting, and travelling, and milling (swimming around with no clear direction). The repertoire of behavioural events within these activity states can be highly species and/or population specific. In this article, we’ll discuss behavioural events associated with socializing and feeding. Behavioural Events: Socializing Chasing, pectoral fin rubs, and breaching are all behavioural events performed by bottlenose dolphins and other cetaceans within the socialization activity state. Dolphins, especially juveniles, often “play fight” and chase each other for fun! Evidence shows that pectoral fin rubs may be used as a way to establish social bonds among members of a group. Breaching, or propelling through the surface, has been hypothesized to be for feeding, parasite removal, or socializing. Breaching exerts immense force along the surface, and some suspect that cetaceans use it as a means to stun their prey. That same force has been used by spinner dolphins and other species to remove bothersome ectoparasites like remoras. Cetaceans may also breach as a means to communicate. Kavanagh et al. (2017) found evidence that humpback whales use breaching as a means to prove their strength to other humpbacks. Behavioural Events: Foraging There are also a multitude of behavioural events associated with feeding and foraging. Dolphins have been seen fish tossing, fish-whacking, and fin jerking. After catching their prey, dolphins often throw them in the air. This behavioural event, known as fish tossing, is believed to be a way to stun or reposition a fish to be consumed safely. Similarly, fish-whacking involves a dolphin sending their prey high above the surface, this time using their powerful tails. This method stuns their prey for easier capture. If you see a dolphin’s dorsal fin jerk quickly in another direction, this could be evidence that they just caught a fish! Cetaceans perform a variety of behavioural events. Documenting activity states and behavioural events are essential to make good decisions with regards to their conservation. You can contribute to that effort by recording behaviours you see on your Sea Watch sightings form! If you suspect that you saw a behaviour that is not an option on the list, be sure to include a detailed description in the “other comments” section. Including a photo or video of the behaviour can also help us identify what behaviour the animal was performing. By doing so, you can personally contribute essential information to the scientific community and help preserve cetacean populations! Sources Baker, I., O’Brien, J., McHugh, K., & Berrow, S. (2017). An ethogram for bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in the Shannon Estuary, Ireland. Aquatic Mammals. Dudzinski, K. M., & Ribic, C. A. (2017). Pectoral fin contact as a mechanism for social bonding among dolphins. Animal Behavior and Cognition, 4(1), 30-48. Janik, V. M. (2015). Play in dolphins. Current Biology, 25(1), R7-R8. Kavanagh, A. S., Owen, K., Williamson, M. J., Blomberg, S. P., Noad, M. J., Goldizen, A. W., … & Dunlop, R. A. (2017). Evidence for the functions of surface‐active behaviors in humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae). Marine mammal science, 33(1), 313-334. Weihs, D., Fish, F. E., & Nicastro, A. J. (2007). Mechanics of remora removal by dolphin spinning. Marine mammal science, 23(3), 707-714. “See dolphins punt fish out of water to stun and eat them” – https://www.nationalgeographic.com/ “Why do dolphins sometimes throw their food around?” – https://www.earthtouchnews.com/ “Making a splash – why do cetaceans breach?” – https://www.seawatchfoundation.org.uk/ Megan Feature BloggerSea Watch Volunteer......
Apple Maps Starts Showing Speed Camera Information in Additional Countries [Updated]...
1 month ago
Dutch tech blog iCulture this morning reported that Apple Maps is now showing speed camera information in at least some parts of the Netherlands, suggesting Apple is in the process of rolling out the feature in more countries. Image via iCulture While navigating in-car with Apple Maps via CarPlay or on iPhone, drivers in a region where the speed camera feature is available are alerted to camera locations on roads via a yellow icon showing a camera with its flash in operation. Maps shows the location of fixed cameras that check for speed and stopping at red lights. Currently Apple only lists speed camera availability in Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the United States, but today's report suggests the feature is coming to the Netherlands and potentially other regions, too. So far, alerts for speed cameras have been seen in North Holland's Haarlem region, so it could be a while before the country gets full rollout. iCulture notes that Apple Maps still doesn't show the maximum speed on Dutch roads. Apple is working on a new Maps feature for iOS 14.5 or later that lets users report speed checks along a route, suggesting a future version of Maps could use crowdsourcing to alert drivers to mobile speed traps. Update: Readers in other countries including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Sweden, and New Zealand have since contacted MacRumors to say they have also noticed the speed camera feature now appearing for them in Apple Maps.Tags: Apple Maps, The NetherlandsThis article, "Apple Maps Starts Showing Speed Camera Information in Additional Countries [Updated]" first appeared on MacRumors.comDiscuss this article in our forums......
States break silence to condemn Egypt’s abuses at UN rights body...
2 months ago
States break silence to condemn Egypt’s abuses at UN rights body rosen Fri, 03/12/2021 - 11:53 Type Joint statement Image Countries Egypt Issues Government Accountability & Transparency Equality & Human Rights Page blocks Geneva, Switzerland—Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from around the world expressed their strong support today for a joint declaration by UN member states condemning the human rights situation in Egypt which was delivered at the UN Human Rights Council. In the declaration governments expressed “deep concern” for widespread human rights violations committed with impunity by the Egyptian authorities. The joint declaration, signed by 31 states and delivered by Finland at the Council’s 46th session highlighted “restrictions on freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly, the constrained space for civil society and political opposition.” It also condemned the use of counter-terrorism laws to punish peaceful critics. “The March 12 declaration ends years of a lack of collective action at the UN Human Rights Council on Egypt, despite the sharply deteriorating human rights situation in the country,” said Bahey Hassan, Director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies. “Countries should continue to make it clear to the Egyptian government that it will no longer have a carte blanche to arbitrarily imprison, torture or violate the right to life or unlawfully kill people.” More than 100 NGOs from around the world wrote to UN member states in early 2021, warning that the Egyptian government is attempting to “annihilate” human rights organizations and eradicate the human rights movement in the country through sustained, widespread, and systematic attacks. The organizations had asked UN member states to adopt a resolution establishing a monitoring and reporting mechanism on Egypt. The declaration delivered on March 12 is a significant step and should be followed up by concrete action toward achieving this goal, the organizations said. The declaration was on the Council’s agenda under Item 4, which provides a space to raise concerns about grave and systematic human rights violations, including country-specific situations. The last joint declaration on the human rights situation in Egypt at the Human Rights Council was delivered by Iceland and co-signed by 26 countries in March 2014. Since that time the human rights situation in Egypt has deteriorated dramatically. The Egyptian authorities have virtually obliterated almost all space for free expression, peaceful assembly, and association. Under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s rule security forces, with the complicity of prosecutors and judges, have arrested, detained or prosecuted thousands, including hundreds of human rights defenders, religious minorities’ rights activists, peaceful protesters, journalists, academics, artists, politicians and lawyers. Many have been forcibly disappeared, tortured or otherwise ill-treated, and detained for months or years in inhumane conditions without trial. Those detained are regularly held on the basis of unfounded terrorism-related charges. If referred to trial individuals are often convicted in grossly unfair proceedings before military courts and through mass trials. Many have been sentenced to death and executed after unfair trials that have relied on statements likely obtained through torture. The authorities have also used morality and debauchery laws to arrest and detain women influencers, sexual violence survivors and witnesses, and LGBTI individuals and activists. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has found that arbitrary detention is a systematic problem in Egypt. The UN Committee against Torture said in 2017 following an inquiry on Egypt that the facts gathered by the committee “lead to the inescapable conclusion that torture is a systematic practice in Egypt.” "Today's declaration sends a clear message to the Egyptian authorities that the world will no longer turn a blind eye to their relentless campaign to crush peaceful dissent. The authorities must take urgent action to comply with their obligations under international law, starting by releasing the thousands of men and women arbitrarily detained, protecting those in custody from torture and other ill-treatment, and ending the crackdown on peaceful activism, " said Kevin Whelan, Amnesty International representative to the UN in Geneva. In the March 12 joint declaration governments called for “accountability and an immediate end of impunity” for abuses. Governments also called on Egypt to cease “abuses of due process,” the excessive use of “extended pre-trial detention,” and “the practice of adding detainees to new cases with similar charges after the legal limit for pre-trial detention has expired.” Governments that have joined the declaration, led by Finland, include: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Montenegro, the Netherlands, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. Other governments can join the declaration until two weeks after the end of the current Human Rights Council session. “Bringing the human rights situation in Egypt to the attention of the Human Rights Council and properly addressing these abuses is of fundamental importance to ensure Egypt’s long-term stability and the dignity of its people,” said John Fisher, Geneva Director at Human Rights Watch. The co-signing organizations to this statement include: Amnesty International, Arab Network for Knowledge and Human Rights (ANKH), Artists at Risk (AR), Association of juridical studies on Immigration (ASGI), The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), le Comité de Vigilance pour la Démocratie en Tunisie, Committee for Justice, Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), DIGNITY – Danish Institute Against Torture, The Egyptian Front for Human Rights, Egyptian Human Rights Forum, EuroMed Rights, The Freedom Initiative, Freedom House, Human Rights Watch (HRW), humanrights.ch, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), MENA Rights Group, Minority Rights Group International, MTÜ Andalus Institute for Tolerance and anti-Violence Studies, The Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED), Réseau des Organisations de la Société Civile pour l'Observation et le Suivi des Elections en Guinée, PEN International, People in Need, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, Tunisian Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty Contacts: Jeremie Smith, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (Geneva) – email@example.com eil Hicks, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (New York) – firstname.lastname@example.org John Fisher, Human Rights Watch (Geneva) – email@example.com Amr Magdi, Human Rights Watch (Berlin) - firstname.lastname@example.org Kevin Whelan, Amnesty International (Geneva) – email@example.com Sara Hashash, Amnesty International (London) - Sara.Hashash@amnesty.org Rasmus Grue, Christensen, DIGNITY – Danish Institute Against Torture - firstname.lastname@example.org Antoine Madelin, International Federation for Human Rights (Paris), email@example.com Mohammed Soltan, The Freedom Initiative - Soltan@thefreedomi.org Jennifer Stapleton, Freedom House - firstname.lastname@example.org Related Content States break silence to condemn Egypt’s abuses at UN rights body Joint statement March 12, 2021 Egypt: Escalating Reprisals, Arrests of Critics’ Families Joint statement February 19, 2021 Amid COVID-19 Pandemic, Internet Freedom Is Under Attack in The Middle East and North Africa Perspectives January 19, 2021 Display image Off Hide from generated lists Off......
Netflix Launches 'Fast Laughs' Feature on iOS for TikTok-Style Comedy Moments...
2 months ago
Netflix has today announced the launch of its "Fast Laughs" feature, available now in the video streaming service's iOS app (via iPhone in Canada). Fast Laughs offer "a full-screen feed of funny clips from our big comedy catalog including films, series and stand-up from comedians like Kevin Hart and Ali Wong," according to Netflix director of product innovation Patrick Flemming. Netflix says that the mobile-only section will provide up to 100 new curated clips per day. To access the feature, users will find a new "Fast Laughs" tab in the Netflix app. Clips will auto-play and the feed effectively resembles TikTok with vertical scrolling. The view includes a "LOL" button, which releases a burst of "Face with Tears of Joy" emojis when tapped. Netflix users can customize their Fast Laughs feed by adding series, films, and stand-up specials to their lists. Individual clips from Fast Laughs can also be easily shared via iMessage, WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and more. Fast Laughs acts as an entry point to begin watching a comedy show immediately, but it also functions as a destination to watch standalone entertaining moments. The Fast Laughs feature is unavailable on Netflix kids' profiles, and users are able to filter displayed content based on their set maturity level. Fast Laughs is available now for users in English-speaking countries such as the U.S., Canada, UK, Australia, and Ireland. The feature is also expected to come to the Netflix app for Android at some point in the future.Tag: NetflixThis article, "Netflix Launches 'Fast Laughs' Feature on iOS for TikTok-Style Comedy Moments" first appeared on MacRumors.comDiscuss this article in our forums......
How one trailblazer uses Maps to explore the outdoors...
2 months ago
Lydia Kluge is an active member of the Google Maps Local Guides community, the everyday people passionate about sharing their experiences on Maps. In 2020, she added more than 1,100 contributions on Google Maps in the form of reviews, photos, and places. Coincidentally, Lydia also hiked, ran, and biked 1,100 miles last year. All those adventures earned her the well-deserved Expert Trailblazer and Expert Fact Finder badges on Google Maps.But Lydia’s journey has been full of adventures long before 2020. Originally from England, Lydia landed in Utah in 2005 for what was meant to be a six-month stint as a ski instructor. She’s been there ever since after falling in love with (and on) the slopes where she met her now-husband.Over the past fifteen years, the couple traveled to over 30 countries. Along the way, Lydia used Google Maps to find hidden gems — from the best restaurants in Paris to snorkeling spots in Australia.Lydia and her daughter stand by a river in a national parkLydia with her daughter by Virgin River in Zion National Park (near the trailhead of Watchman Trail)Lydia Kluge with her daughter standing near a lake with mountains and treesLydia and her daughter took a lakeside hike at Pine Valley Reservoir, in Utah.A photo of Lydia and her daughter walking together on The Bonneville Salt Flats in UtahLydia and her daughter stroll The Bonneville Salt Flats in UtahIn 2019, Lydia and her husband welcomed their beautiful baby girl into their family and couldn’t wait to travel with her. But COVID-19 changed their international jet-setting plans. Like many of us, Lydia’s spending more time closer to home. She’s explored Utah's mountains, deserts, and national and state parks. And, just like in her international travels, Google Maps has been her companion. She’s added and reviewed dozens of nature trails, trailheads, and parks, and created lists of family-friendly activities in Utah. “One thing I've missed about working outside of the home is how I can contribute to others and my community,” Lydia said. “Adding these things to Google Maps is a way I can give back.”Here are Lydia’s tips on how to use Google Maps to explore natural attractions near you:Find parks and hiking trails on Google MapsSearch outdoor terms like “hiking trails” or “parks near me” to find nearby treks. For most hiking trails, you’ll be able to find ratings, reviews and photos from other hikers. Some may also have useful details like open hours and phone numbers. You can also use the Lists feature on Google Maps to see curated recommendations, like Lydia’s Things to See and Do in St. George and Food and Fun in Park City. Simply search for a town and scroll down to see Featured Lists.Use the search bar in Google Maps to find things to do, like hiking trails nearby or in a specific town or cityQuickly sort through reviews to find popular topics or search for specific wordsLydia leaves detailed reviews on parks and hikes with searchable terms like “family,” “steep,” or “kid-friendly.” Search for specific words to quickly sort through reviews and get a better sense of the place. If you want an idea of what most people are talking about, you can see a list of popular keywords in reviews — from “banana slug” and “poison ivy” to “parking lot” and “sunset.”You can see what the popular topics are for hikes and places by seeing the most common keywords. Tap a topic to see what people are saying.Preview your trek with photosLydia has left more than 3,500 photos on Google Maps that have been viewed more than 25 million times. To get a sense of what your outdoor trip will look like, browse photos that people like Lydia have uploaded. Sort photos to see the latest, pan through Street View and 360-degree images, and even see videos. Pay it forward to the next trekker and leave photos of what made your hike memorable.A photo of the castle-like rock formations at Turret Arch in Moab, Utah.Add and update hiking areas yourselfSome trails may not have traditional signage and could be hard to find. If you know where an unmarked (or poorly marked) trailhead is, you can confirm that the pin locations are in the appropriate spot. To do so, open your Google Maps app and navigate to the place. Tap “suggest an edit” to update information about the hiking area.Lydia added Limber Pine Nature Trail to Google MapsTo follow Lydia’s adventures, check out and follow her Google Maps profile.......
Hikers carry freezing dog off snowy mountains where it had been lost for two weeks...
3 months ago
Ciara Nolan and Jean-Francois Bonnet found the pooch, an eight-year-old golden retriever named Neesha, near the summit of a peak in the Wicklow Mountains, Ireland, before carrying her to safety.......
Best annual events in Britain in 2021...
6 months ago
From literary festivals to royal celebrations, discover what's on in Britain this year with our round-up of annual events for 2021. JANUARY Celtic Connections, Glasgow, Scotland 15 January - 2 February With a fully online programme set for 2021, Celtic Connection is Glasgow’s annual folk, roots and world music festival, celebrating Celtic music and its connections to cultures across the globe. It’s the largest annual winter music festival of its kind and Britain’s premier celebration of Celtic music, and usually featuring concerts, ceilidhs, talks, art exhibitions, and workshops. Burns’ Night, Scotland-wide 25 January Every January Scotland celebrates the birthday of Robert Burns - the national poet of Scotland – traditionally marked with food, drams, dancing and verse. Don’t forget to address the haggis! Dydd Santes Dwynwen, Wales-wide 25 January This day is in honour of Wales’ patron saint of lovers, the Welsh version of St Valentine’s Day. The day exists due to St Dwynwen’s own experiences with lost love and her later commitment to becoming a nun. FEBRUARY RBS Six Nations Rugby, Cardiff, London, Edinburgh 6 February – 20 March The Six Nations Championship for England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales will see matches take place at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Twickenham Stadium in London, and Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh - cheer along at home! Dark Skies Festival, Yorkshire, north England 12 -28 February The Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors National Parks, which remain some of the darkest places in England, are once again running a joint Dark Skies Festival in February. 2021’s theme is nocturnal wildlife, with events aiming to reveal the lives of the animal world after dark, and how a light pollution-free environment is crucial to many species. The South Downs is also hosting a stellar Dark Skies Festival, celebrating the area’s dazzling night skies from 12 – 28 February 2021. Artes Mundi, Cardiff, south Wales 13 February – 6 June Best known for its biennial international exhibition and prize, which takes place in Cardiff, this is one of Wales’ biggest contemporary visual art shows. The UK’s largest art prize of £40,000 is awarded to one of the shortlisted artists, with 11 February 2021 seeing the prize announcement. Glasgow Film Festival, Glasgow, Scotland 24 February – 7 March The fastest-growing and third-largest film festival in Britain, with more than 350 events, including new local and international film from all genres, from mainstream to art-house, classics to cult. 2021 will see GFF screen across Britain for the first time, in 22 partner cinemas. MARCH St. David’s Day, Wales-wide 1 March St David is the patron saint of Wales and this day is a celebration of all things Welsh. Expect plenty of red dragons adorning Welsh flags, as well as parades of daffodils, leeks and flags of St David himself. Traditionally, the capital of Cardiff holds a National St David's Day Parade. Cheltenham Festival, Gloucestershire, south-west England 16 – 19 March Held close to the lovely Regency town of Cheltenham, this National Hunt race meeting attracts prize money second only to the Grand National. Famous for the roar arising from the stands as the tape is raised for the start of the first race, the excitement continues to build until its climax with Friday’s signature Gold Cup – one of the greatest of all jump-racing events. St Patrick’s Day, Northern Ireland and parts of Britain 17 March The national saint of Ireland is celebrated in traditional fashion with festivals, parades, carnivals and concerts taking place across Northern Ireland and around Britain, usually including a parade in London. 2021’s programme differs from tradition, and will see a variety of community-led events across the capital to show an appreciation for the perspectives and culture of the Irish generations in Britain. Liverpool Biennial of contemporary art – Liverpool, England 20 March – 6 June With cutting-edge modern art from more than 50 international artists, 2021’s Liverpool Biennial installation will showcase incredible works in galleries, museums and public spaces across the city. Now in its eleventh edition, and rescheduled from 2020, Ecuadorian curator Manuela Moscoso will use her expertise to shape the 2021 festival into something truly special. APRIL Grand National meeting, Aintree Racecourse, Liverpool, north-west England 8 – 10 April One of the most famous horse races in the world sees competitors make two circuits of the Grand National course, tackling 30 fences as they cover four and a half miles. The event’s colourful, fashionista celebration, Ladies’ Day, will take place on 9 April. Highland Games, across Scotland 17 April – 11 September Around 100 Highland games and gatherings take place in Scotland each year. Each one has a mix of piping, athletic events and Highland dancing. St George’s Day, across England 23 April St George’s Day celebrates the patron saint of England with activities ranging from festivals to ‘dragon’ hunts and medieval banquets usually happening across England. Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, Speyside, Scotland 28 April – 3 May Spirited, inspiring, Scottish – this festival puts on hundreds of whisky-inspired events over six days. Discover the passion behind the world’s finest whiskies. Cheltenham Jazz Festival, Gloucestershire, south-west England 28 April – 3 May Every year, Cheltenham Jazz Festival represents the start of the summer in Cheltenham and is a great way to spend the long weekend over May Bank Holiday. The Good Life Experience, Flintshire, north Wales 29 April – 2 May The Good Life is created by Cerys Matthews, Steve 'Abbo' Abbott and Charlie and Caroline Gladstone who have put together the very best of music, books, food and the great outdoors. This festival will be a voyage of fun and discovery for the whole family. Liverpool Sound City, Liverpool, north-west England 30 April – 2 May Liverpool Sound City is an annual international music festival and industry conference taking place over the weekend. The event welcomes global stars, local artists and key industry figures. The festival has provided a platform for many future stars early on in their careers, including the likes of Ed Sheeran, Alt J and Calvin Harris. MAY Brighton Festival, Brighton, south-east England 1 – 23 May Brighton is known as a place that welcomes diversity, creativity and innovative thinking, and its annual festival celebrates this pioneering spirit and experimental approach. Established in 1967 and now one of Europe’s leading arts festivals, this celebration of music, theatre, dance, circus, art, film, literature, debate and family events takes place in a variety of venues across Brighton and Hove. The Emirates FA Cup Final, Wembley Stadium, London, England 15 May The FA Cup, the oldest domestic Cup competition in the football world, is established as one of the country's great sporting institutions. The history and tradition of the competition, and the pageantry of the Cup Final, is familiar to millions. Chelsea Flower Show, London 18 – 23 May One of the best know Royal Horticultural Shows, the world-famous Chelsea Flower Show returns with even more unforgettable floral and horticultural displays. Women’s FA Cup Final, Wembley Stadium 22 May The SSE Women's FA Cup Final returns to Wembley for a seventh consecutive year in 2021. Hay Festival of Literature and Arts, Brecon Beacons, south Wales 27 May – 6 June The renowned Hay Festival of Literature and Arts, held annually in a tented village on the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park, aims to bring together some of the greatest contemporary authors and the most exciting new voices in literature and the arts. Past speakers and performers have included Margaret Atwood, Ian McEwan, Chelsea Clinton, Michael Woolf, Jake Bugg, Laura Mvula, David Walliams, Simon Schama, David Olusoga, Rose McGowan, Dara O'Briain and many more. Birmingham Pride, Birmingham, central England 29 – 30 May The second largest city in England hosts its annual gay pride, a technicolour spectacular celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender culture. Blenheim Palace Food Festival, Oxfordshire, central England 29 – 31 May Oxfordshire’s largest food festival brings food stalls, strolling jazz musicians, children’s storytellers and some of the biggest names in the foodie world to Blenheim Palace’s magnificent grounds. Raymond Blanc and MasterChef winners have attended in the past. JUNE Investec Derby, Epsom Downs Race Course, Surrey, south-east England 4 – 5 June The world’s most famous flat race will see riders and owners in pursuit of one of the richest prizes in British racing on 5 June, with the famous Ladies’ Day held the day before on 4 June. Upfest, Bristol, England 5-6 June Visitors can put their finger on the pulse of Bristol’s incredible street art scene during Upfest. Europe’s biggest street art and graffiti festival is set to feature even more inspirational pieces around the city. Past years have seen over 300 artists give a brand new look to 40 venues - plenty to inspire when exploring Bristol’s charming streets. Man v Horse Marathon, Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales 12 June The Man versus Horse Marathon is an annual 22-mile race, where runners compete against riders on horseback, in the Welsh town of Llanwrtyd Wells. The event started in 1980 after a pub landlord overheard two drinkers discussing the merits of men and horses running over mountainous terrain. The course was changed in 1982 to provide a more even match between the man and the horse, but it took until 2004 before a man finally beat a horse. Queen’s Birthday / Trooping the Colour, London, England June – exact Saturday TBC Trooping the Colour is the annual celebration of the Queen's official birthday. Otherwise known as The Queen's Birthday Parade, it’s a colourful display of military pageantry featuring impressive officers and men on parade in ceremonial uniform, as well as horses and musicians. The Queen always attends the ceremony, which takes place on Horse Guards Parade behind Whitehall, London. Royal Ascot, Berkshire, south-east England 15 – 19 June Royal Ascot has established itself as a national institution and a major focus of the British social calendar, as well as being the ultimate stage for the best racehorses in the world. Tradition, pageantry, fashion and style all mix together, as well as around 30 races over five days. Isle of Wight Festival, Isle of Wight, south England 17 – 20 June This popular music festival on the famous island situated off the south coast of England has an impressive musical heritage stretching back to Bob Dylan (who performed here in 1969) and Jimi Hendrix (who took to the stage in 1970). Recent headliners have included Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, George Ezra and Biffy Clyro. The Royal Highland Show, Edinburgh, Scotland 17-20 June One of Scotland’s most iconic events, the Royal Highland Show is a major highlight of the Scottish country calendar and firmly established as one of Europe’s most impressive celebrations of farming, food and rural life. Jane Austen Regency Week, Hampshire, south England 19 – 27 June This nine-day festival is packed with all things Austen. It takes place in and around the market town of Alton and nearby Chawton, the home of Jane Austen’s House & Museum. Expect Regency-style music, dining, drama, singing, talks and guided walks and tours, as well as the famous Regency Ball. Stonehenge Summer Solstice, Wiltshire, south-west England 21 June Every year visitors from around the world gather at Stonehenge overnight to celebrate the Summer Solstice and watch the sun rise over the stones. It’s the most important day of the year at Stonehenge and a truly magical time to visit. The celebration brings together England's New Age Tribes (neo-druids, neo-pagans and Wiccans) with ordinary families, tourists, travellers and party people. Wimbledon Tennis Championships, London, England 28 June – 11 July Arguably the most famous tennis tournament in the world, the Wimbledon Championships have been played since 1877 and tickets are always in fierce demand. The championships start at the end of June, and last approximately two weeks, or until all events are complete. The club operates a public ballot (lottery) for advanced sales of Centre, No. 1 and No. 2 court tickets. Bristol Pride, Bristol, south-west England Dates not yet confirmed Bristol Pride is a week-long series of events dedicated to the city’s LGBTQ+ community to spread the message of love and equality for all. The week’s finale is a Pride Parade through the city as part of a colourful outdoor music and arts celebration. Entertainment includes a funfair, market stalls, bars and a Community Area. Taste of London Festival, London, England Dates yet to be confirmed Every year Regent's Park transforms into a foodie wonderland for four days of summer eating, drinking and entertainment. Past years saw around 40 of the city's best restaurants dish up their finest dishes for the ultimate alfresco feast, while 200 producers provide a bounty of the best food and beverages from Britain and around the world. Eroica Britannia, Peak District, central England Dates yet to be confirmed This unique three-day vintage cycling festival sees around 3,500 cyclists from all over the world don retro gear and hop on pre-1987 bikes for this special race, passing through some of the finest Peak District landscapes and villages en route. The festival hub will host live music, acres of vintage shopping, and specialist food stalls. Pride in London, London, England Dates yet to be confirmed London hosts a huge party in the summer with Pride in London celebrating all aspects of the LGBTQ+ community. The festival usually comes to a close with a sizzling carnival of colour of music, floats and dancing. Edinburgh International Film Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland Dates yet to be confirmed Established in 1947, the Film Festival is renowned for discovering and promoting the very best in international cinema, and for heralding and debating changes in global filmmaking. The festival seeks to spotlight the most exciting and innovative new film talent and brings a mix of red-carpet glamour, innovative and exciting cinematic discoveries and massive audience appeal. JULY Round the Island Race, Isle of Wight, south England 3 July An annual one-day yacht race around the Isle of Wight, usually attracting more than 1,700 boats and around 16,000 sailors, making it one of the largest yacht races in the world. Competitors come from all over the world and follow the 50 nautical mile course, which starts and finishes in Cowes. Alice’s Day, Oxford, England 3 July Each year on the first Saturday of July, Mad hatters can join the annual festivities celebrating Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in Oxford. Dress up as favourite characters at The Story Museum, take a walk through the story’s history, and explore the highlights of the city that inspired Lewis Carroll’s classic children’s tale. Wales Airshow, Swansea, Wales 3 – 4 July The show is visible along the entire five-mile stretch of Swansea Bay with spectacular views of the air displays that feature some of the world’s best military and civilian aviation display teams. Ground attractions include an interactive military village, trade stands, children’s entertainment, funfair and lots more. RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, Surrey, south-east England 6 – 11 July The world’s largest annual flower show returns in 2021. A plant lover’s paradise, it’s packed with stunning show gardens, floral displays, and plenty of garden inspiration. The Open Championship, Royal St George’s, England 11 – 18 July Marking its 149th year in 2021, the major golf championship, often referred to as The Open or the British Open, will be held at Royal St George’s, Kent. Formula 1 British Grand Prix, Silverstone, central England 16 - 18 July The jewel in the crown of British Motorsports, Silverstone is a fast circuit with a series of complex high-speed turns, and a short straight to add to the excitement. Average cornering speeds are higher than at any other championship racetrack. Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival 16 – 25 July Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival plays host to some of the finest jazz and blues talent from all corners of the globe. From bop to boogie-woogie to blues-rock, and from samba to swing to soul, the festival takes place over ten groove-packed summer days. Bristol Harbour Festival 16 – 18 July Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2021, Bristol Harbour Festival will once again host a free weekend of music, markets and maritime fun based around Bristol’s historic harbourside. Packed with live performance, artists, musicians, circus acts, children’s events, dancers, food markets and street stalls. On the water, hundreds of sailing vessels provide a vibrant backdrop to the activities. The Royal Welsh Show, Llanelwedd, Powys, mid-Wales 19 – 22 July A major event in the British agricultural calendar, the Royal Welsh Show consists of four days of livestock competitions and a wide range of activities including forestry, horticulture, crafts, entertainment, attractions, displays, countryside sports, and shopping. RHS Flower Show Tatton Park, Cheshire, north-west England 21 – 25 July This plant lover’s paradise is hosted at Cheshire’s historic neo-classical country mansion, Tatton Park, featuring stunning show gardens, floral displays, and plenty of green-fingered inspiration. Northern Pride, Newcastle, north-east England 23 – 25 July This annual celebration of LGBTQ+ life on Tyneside is one of the biggest and most diverse free events in the North East. It starts with a Pride march through Newcastle and ends with a day of music, education, fun and celebration. Qatar ‘Glorious Goodwood’ Festival, West Sussex, south England 27 -31 July Enjoy picnics, evening jazz and famous faces alongside flat racing at this small and sophisticated horseracing event held every year at the course owned by the Earl of March on his country estate near Chichester. Camp Bestival, Lulworth Castle, Dorset, south-west England 29 July – 1 August Bestival consists of four family-friendly days of live music and premier DJs and is one of Britain's most colourful festivals, with dressing up encouraged and even a Roller Disco. Previous years have seen headliners such as The Cure, Rudimental and Hot Chip take the stage. Edinburgh Art Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland 29 July – 29 August Britain’s largest annual celebration of visual art, Edinburgh Art Festival attracts a diverse and vibrant programme of exhibitions and events at the city’s galleries and museums. Cowes Week, Isle of Wight, south England 31 July – 7 August As one of the sailing calendar’s biggest events, Cowes Week brings together the world’s biggest sailing stars, with more than 1,000 yachts and 8,000 competitors taking part. Buckingham Palace Summer Opening, London, England July – September (dates to be confirmed) Explore the palace’s lavishly furnished State Rooms – where the Queen and members of the Royal Family receive and entertain guests on State, ceremonial and official occasions – and admire some of the greatest treasures from the Royal Collection. The BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall, London, England Summer (dates to be confirmed - 11 September, Last Night of the Proms) The Proms is an eight-week summer season of daily orchestral classical music concerts and other events held annually, predominantly in the Royal Albert Hall. Founded in 1895, each season traditionally consists of more than 70 concerts, with a wide range of classical music to choose from, at affordable prices, in an informal atmosphere. The famous Last Night performances include BBC Proms in the Park. AUGUST Leeds Pride, Yorkshire, north England 1 August A ‘must-not-miss’ event on Yorkshire’s LGBTQ+ calendar, Leeds Pride is the biggest event of its kind in Yorkshire. Past years have been the city burst to life with a diverse line up of acts at Millennium Square, a march through the centre of Leeds and the biggest parties until the early hours. Brighton Pride, Brighton, south-east England 6 – 8 August Brighton’s Pride festival kick offs with the annual Pride Community Parade, a dazzling visual spectacle that sees Brighton and Hove's diverse community take to the streets in a show of unity and equality. The party carries on with The Pride Festival in Preston Park, featuring main stage entertainment, dance tents, cabaret, a funfair, a family area, and a market. The Pride Village Party brings the festivities to St James Street and the city's iconic seafront Marine Parade. The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, Edinburgh, Scotland 6 – 28 August The Tattoo is an iconic Edinburgh institution, with music, dance and precision displays with the Massed Pipes and Drums, the Massed Military Bands, cultural troupes, singers and the poignant refrain of the Lone Piper against the stunning backdrop of Edinburgh Castle. Each year's Tattoo is very much a 'global gathering' - showcasing the talents of musicians and performers from every corner of the globe. Each Tattoo is different from the last and always embraces different themes; nature, creativity and Scotland's homecoming are just some of the concepts explored in recent times. Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Edinburgh, Scotland 6 – 30 August The world's largest arts festival transforms Scotland's capital every August, as thousands of performers take to hundreds of stages all over the city to present shows of all kinds and for every taste. The work on show ranges from huge names in the world of entertainment to unknown artists looking to build their careers. Audiences can enjoy theatre, comedy, dance, circus, cabaret, children's shows, physical theatre, musicals, opera, music, spoken word, exhibitions and events. Kynren, Auckland Castle, County Durham, north-east England 7 August– 11 September (every Saturday) During the summer, Auckland Castle will host Kynren - the movie-like open-air night spectacular that brings to life 2,000 years of Britain's history, from the Roman period to post-World War II. The show take its audience on a 90-minute journey of epic storytelling, using pyrotechnics, lighting, and water effects across a seven-and-a-half acre stage, and starring professionally trained volunteers. Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, Bristol, south-west England 12 – 15 August The city’s largest outdoor event, held annually at the city’s Ashton Court Estate, is the largest fiesta of its kind in Europe. The mass ascents at dawn and teatime are a sight to behold, with more than 100 balloons taking off, and after-dark firework shows to follow. The fiesta offers a packed four days of fun for the whole family. Edinburgh International Book Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland 14 – 30 August The Edinburgh International Book Festival programme offers more than 800 events featuring everyone from the rising stars of fiction to Nobel Prize-winners, plus events for children and young adults showcasing the finest writers and illustrators for young people. From author events and interactive workshops to lively debates and book signings, the Book Festival allows visitors to meet favourite authors. Creamfields, Liverpool, north-west England 26 – 29 August Regarded as an iconic dance music festival, every year this legendary event near Warrington showcases superstar DJs and artists from the music genres of EDM, house, trance, drum and bass and grime. Reading Festival & Leeds Festival, England 27 – 29 August Britain's premier rock music festival features global acts uniquely performing at both locations over three days, usually allowing for 100,000 revellers at Reading and more than 80,000 at Leeds to experience global rock superstars. Previous headliners include the Kings of Leon and Kendrick Lamar. World Bog Snorkelling Championships, Llanwrtyd Wells, mid Wales 29 August This unusual sport consists of contestants swimming two consecutive lengths of a water-filled trench in the shortest time possible. Held annually in Llanwrtyd Wells in Mid Wales, the championships attract visitors from all over the world. There are food and drink stalls, crafts, live music and a real ale and cider bar on the site, so it's a great day out even if you don't fancy taking the plunge. Notting Hill Carnival, London, England 29 – 30 August London’s famous free Caribbean festival is the largest street party in Europe, with great music, outrageous floats and fabulous costumes. Hear everything from traditional steel bands, Soca and Calypso to the latest dub, drum ‘n’ bass, R&B and reggae blasting out from pumping sound systems and moving floats. Live stages also feature local bands, top international artists and sounds from around the world, plus hundreds of Caribbean food stalls. RideLondon, London-Surrey, south-east Dates yet to be confirmed Developed by the Mayor of London and his agencies in 2013, Prudential RideLondon is a world-class festival of cycling that wants to encourage more people to cycle more safely, more often. There is no other closed-road event quite like it, combining a fun and accessible free family ride in central London with the excitement of watching the world’s best professional cyclist’s race. Pride Cymru, Cardiff, south Wales August Dates to be confirmed LGBTQ+ Mardi Gras, trading as Pride Cymru, returns to Cardiff for Wales' biggest celebration of equality and diversity. The variety of entertainment will continue along with a funfair, a cultural market with arts and crafts, plenty of food and drink, and a social hub, offering advice and support to LGBTQ+ communities and their friends and family. SEPTEMBER Blackpool Illuminations, Lancashire, north-west England 3 September - 7 November This annual light show has been a major part of Blackpool’s appeal since 1879. The Festival of Light complements the traditional Illuminations with a contemporary take on entertainment made from light and art. The Illuminations are usually bookended by a fantastic celebrity-packed Switch-on Festival Weekend with bespoke Illumination performances, and Lightpool Festival, a spectacular walking route linking Blackpool’s most iconic buildings and history through light installation artworks. The Braemar Gathering, Aberdeenshire, north Scotland 4 September Enjoy the skills of the pipers and Highland dancers and the stamina of the hill runners as well as the international athletes taking part in the heavy events. Sample contemporary Scotland with live music, top-quality arts and crafts and local food and drink at one of The Queen’s favourite annual events. British Science Festival, Chelmsford, south England 7 – 11 September Organised each year by the British Science Association, The British Science Festival shines the limelight on Britain’s top scientists. The Festival lasts over six days and past events have ranged from lectures and debates for adults, to hands-on activity for schools and families, to comedy, theatre and expeditions. Jane Austen Festival, Bath, south-west 10 – 19 September Visit Bath during the annual Jane Austen Festival for an immersive Regency experience. Walk alongside other Jane Austen fans in the spectacular, opening Grand Regency Costumed Promenade. Past events have included elegant guided walks and day trips, intriguing talks, music recitals and concerts, as well as workshops and dance classes. Last Night of the Proms & BBC Proms in the Park, Royal Albert Hall & Hyde Park, London 11 September For a very British cultural experience, don’t miss the final night crescendo of the biggest classical music festival on earth, the BBC Proms. The legendary Last Night of the Proms is the culmination of an eight-week summer season of daily orchestral and classical music concerts taking place across London. Last Night of the Proms tickets are very popular, so plan ahead. The celebrations include BBC Proms in the Park, which take place in London’s Hyde Park. Ironman Wales, Pembrokeshire, west Wales 12 September A spectacular course, often called one of the most challenging races in the world, that takes in stunning beaches and medieval fortresses. Great North Run, NewcastleGateshead, north-east England 12 September A series of professional and junior athletics activities for the Great North Run weekend has been developed over the last few years, using NewcastleGateshead Quaysides as a 'virtual arena'. The run starts in the city centre, winds past several iconic sights, and ends at the sea. Roald Dahl Day, Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, south-east England 13 September The official Roald Dahl Day takes place every year on the storyteller’s birthday, 13 September. A number of activities and events take place at the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in his home village of Great Missenden. TweedLove Bike Festival, Tweed Valley, Scottish Borders, Scotland 17 – 19 September Britain’s fastest-growing cycling festival is held every year in the beautiful Tweed Valley. Past years have boasted three main races: Vallelujah, TweedLove International Enduro and Expo, and King and Queen of the Hill: Scottish Open Champs. Or, there’s the option for riders to enter all three – a challenge known as the Triple Crown. London Fashion Week, London, England 17 – 21 September The ultimate fashion industry event, where the world’s top designers showcase their latest collections via catwalk shows, plus curated talks, designer shopping and trend presentations. York Food and Drink Festival, York, north England 17 – 26 September One of the biggest foodie festivals in Britain, York Food and Drink Festival celebrates the best local and regional food and drink. Past years have hosted a great variety of day and evening events, from wine and food tastings to cookery demonstrations and hands-on workshops in some of the city’s iconic historic buildings. London Design Festival, London, England 18 – 26 September This colourful annual festival has celebrated and promoted London as the design capital of the world since 2003. The festival showcases the work of contemporary designers, architects and artists, with striking large-scale installations and events popping up around the city. Heritage Open Days, across England Dates yet to be confirmed Heritage Open Days celebrates England’s fantastic architecture and culture by offering free access to places that are usually closed to the public or normally charge for admission. Every year on four days in September buildings of every age, style and function throw open their doors. It is a once-a-year chance to discover architectural treasures and enjoy a wide range of tours, events and activities that bring local history and culture to life. Bristol Open Doors, Bristol, south-west England September, dates yet to be confirmed This annual weekend event offers the chance to get inside more than 100 landmark buildings and curious spaces, many of which are usually closed to the public. Organised by The Architecture Centre, a registered charity, the weekend offers a mix of drop-in and must-book events including tours, talks, walks and visitor experiences that get under the skin of the city. OCTOBER London Marathon, London, England 3 October The Virgin Money London Marathon is a phenomenal event to be a part of, as a participant and a spectator. It’s not just a monumental physical challenge, but also the world's largest fundraising event - and one of the six top marathons that make up the World Marathon Majors. Cardiff Half Marathon, Cardiff, south Wales 3 October Competitors race right through Cardiff city centre past iconic locations, with beautiful scenery and historic buildings, starting at Cardiff Castle, and passing the Principality Stadium, Penarth Marina, before crossing the Cardiff Barrage and racing through Cardiff Bay before finishing close to Cardiff City Hall. Iris Prize Festival, Cardiff, south Wales 5 - 10 October A six-day celebration of LGBT film, including screenings of a series of short films competing for the Best of British Iris Prize. Cheltenham Literature Festival, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, west England 8 -17 October This literary festival will celebrate its 72nd anniversary in 2021 and will see the launch of major books, as well as talks, workshops and performances touching upon subjects as diverse as history, politics, sport, food and fashion. World Conker Championships, Northamptonshire, central England *Quirky* 10 October The game of conkers has been a popular pastime of British schoolchildren for decades. The rules are simple. Each player is given a conker attached to a piece of string and takes turns in trying to break their opponent’s nut using a swinging motion. The World Conker Championships are held on the village green in Ashton, Peterborough, with many attempting to become the King or Queen of conkers. BFI London Film Festival, Southbank, London, England October, dates to be confirmed In 2021 London will host its 65th annual film festival organised with the British Film Institute. Past events have screened more than 300 films, documentaries and shorts in the capital from around 50 countries. Highlights included the world's best new films, and director and actor retrospectives. Previous A-lister guests have included Nicole Kidman, Amy Adams, Casey Affleck, Sigourney Weaver, Liam Neeson, and director Tom Ford. NOVEMBER Bonfire Night, Britain-wide 5 November Britain’s night skies light up with blazing bonfires and sparkling fireworks to celebrate Guy Fawkes Night. This unique British tradition, also known as Guy Fawkes Day, Bonfire Night or Fireworks Night, celebrates the foiling of the infamous Gunpowder Plot - a plan to blow up the Houses of Parliament on 5 November, 1605. It’s celebrated across Britain and most towns and cities host their own bonfire night celebrations. Lumiere Festival, Durham 18 - 21 November Lumiere, the UK’s biggest light festival, will return in 2021. The biennial illuminating event will allow visitors to see the city transformed by an array of eye-catching light displays, with art installations giving a whole new look to architecture and public spaces. Kendal Mountain Festival, Cumbria, north-west England 18 - 21 November The world’s biggest Mountain Festival is a celebration of film, outdoor sports, literature, art and legends that hopes to inspire people to explore and enjoy mountains and the wilderness. The Mountain Film Competition is a main feature of the event, with entries competing to be the grand prize winner. St Andrew’s Day, across Scotland 30 November Events celebrating the patron saint of Scotland, St Andrew, take place throughout the country. In the past, they have included some of Scotland’s historic attractions offering free entry for the day. London Jazz Festival, London, England November, dates yet to be confirmed London Jazz Festival hosts world-class artists and emerging stars, packed into back-to-back concerts, workshops, talks, masterclasses and free events across London. A number of key events will take place at Southbank Centre. Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park, London, England November – January, dates to be confirmed A true family favourite, Winter Wonderland returns to London's Hyde Park with big top shows, the observation wheel and a huge Christmas market. As well as the ice rink, Winter Wonderland includes gentle rides for younger children. Longleat Festival of Light, Longleat, Wiltshire, west England November, dates to be confirmed This festive outdoor light festival boasts hundreds of illuminated characters and scenes that transform the estate into a winter wonderland; with each year boasting a new theme. FilmBath Festival, Bath, south-west England November, dates to be confirmed Soak up the special atmosphere of packed auditoriums as you enjoy screenings of previews, documentary features, F-Rated films and talks with directors, producers and stars. Leeds International Film Festival, Yorkshire, north England November, dates yet to be confirmed One of the largest film events in the UK, Leeds International Film Festival presents an incredible selection of the best new and classic films from around the world. Each year, audiences are invited to step in from the cold autumn weather and enjoy the power of cinema at some of the city’s favourite venues, including Leeds Town Hall, The Hyde Park Picture House and Everyman Leeds. DECEMBER The Great Christmas Pudding Race – London & Brighton, England *Quirky* 11 December One of the wackiest races you’ll ever see, teams race around a 150-metre course balancing a Christmas pudding on a flimsy paper plate. They have to navigate two slippery inflatables, balloons filled with flour, jets of foam and limbo poles. To complicate things even further, they do it all in fancy dress. Christmas at Kew, London, England December, dates to be confirmed Learn to ice-skate against the picturesque background of Kew Gardens, which delivers a sparkling after-dark experience and a truly festive atmosphere every year. NewcastleGateshead Winter Festival and New Year’s Eve Carnival, NewcastleGateshead, north-east England Dates to be confirmed The annual New Year’s Eve Winter Carnival sees the Newcastle Ice Queen and her entourage of local community participants parading through the streets of Newcastle, culminating in an early-evening fireworks display. Hogmanay, across Scotland 31 December Hogmanay is what the Scots call New Year's Eve and the arrival of the New Year is always celebrated in style across the country. Fireworks, open-air concerts and street parties make Hogmanay Scotland’s biggest party of the year. Please note that events are subject to change, and visitors are strongly advised to check individual websites for the latest information.......