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SRINAGAR, India (AP) — A year ago, Abdul Rashid was making a living by selling flowers to tourists in hundreds of ornate pinewood houseboats in Dal Lake in Srinagar, the main city in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

When India suddenly scrapped disputed Kashmir’s semi-autonomous status, followed by an unprecedented security clampdown, economic ruin ensued.

“It was not just a political change. It destroyed our livelihood,” said Rashid, 60, who has now turned to growing vegetables to feed his family.

Days before the Aug. 5, 2019, decision by the central government in New Delhi, authorities asked hundreds of thousands of tourists, Hindu pilgrims and migrant workers to leave the territory, shutting its economy. Since then, tens of thousands of jobs have been lost.

The stunning Himalayan region has known little but conflict since 1947, when British rule of the subcontinent divided it between the newly created India and Pakistan.

After a series of political blunders, broken promises and a crackdown on dissent, Kashmiris launched a full-blown armed revolt in 1989, seeking unification with Pakistan or complete independence. India dubbed the insurgency terrorism abetted by Pakistan, a charge Islamabad denies.

Hundreds of the colorful hand-carved houseboats, known as shikaras, lie deserted, mostly anchored still on the desolate lake. Hotels are empty and there are hardly any tourists.

Some businesses had resumed with the partial lifting of the security and communication clampdown earlier this year. However, Indian authorities enforced another harsh lockdown in March to combat the coronavirus pandemic, further emaciating the local economy.

The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries pegged the economic loses in the region at $5.3 billion and about half a million jobs lost since August last year.

The 7-decade-old Hotel Standard in Srinagar had a staff of 30, according to its manager Khurshid Ahmed. Now there are just three. The only activity inside the once-bustling place is by the cleaning staff.

Mohammed Rajab, a taxi driver for 37 years, hasn’t been hired even once since last August. “I parked my taxi at our stand few days before August 5 last year. It’s still there along with 250 others,” he said.

Tens of thousands of daily wage workers, like Rajab, have suffered the most.

Mohammad Lateef, a boatman, used to ferry tourists around the lake. He now sells cucumbers and cigarettes to locals along its banks.

“We’ve not earned a single penny for a year now,” said Ghulam Qadir Ota, a houseboat owner. “All we have are these boats. We don’t have any other means to earn.”

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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The Krishna Janmashtami 2020 Festival: Heres What You Need To Know

Getty Statues being painted of the Hindu God, Lord Krishna.

Krishna Janmashtami is a religious festival on which Hindus celebrate the birth of Lord Krishna. This year, celebrations will take place on August 11-12 in 2020, although coronavirus concerns have put a damper on the typical public celebrations.

Janmashtami, also called “Gokulashtami” and “Shrikrishna Jayanti,” will be the 5247th Birth Anniversary of Lord Krishna. The biggest celebrations usually take place in India, although the festival is celebrated by Hindu devotees in places all over the globe.

According to the Indian Express, the purpose of the festival is to “promote goodwill and the victory of good over evil” and celebrate togetherness.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. What Is The Story Behind Krishna Janmashtami?

Story of Janmashtami in Hindi | Birth of Lord Krishna | Indian Mythology Stories in Hindi by Mocomihttps://mocomi.com/ presents: Story of Krishna Janmashtami in Hindi The festival of Krishna Janmashtami is celebrated to mark the birth of Krishna – the eighth avatar of Vishnu. Hindus celebrate the festival by fasting, singing and praying together and visiting Krishna and Vishnu temples. Dahi Handi is celebrated the day after Krishna Janmashtami in Maharashtra and other Western states India. The story behind the birth of Krishna is an interesting one.. A long time ago, in Mathura, there was a king named Kans who was infamous for his greed and unfair rule. After the marriage of his sister Devaki to Vasudev, a prophetic voice from above announced, “Kans, your tyranny is going to come to an end.The 8th son born to Devaki and Vasudev will kill you.” This enraged Kans and he imprisoned the newlyweds. Kans went on to kill 7 of Devaki’s children. When she gave birth to her 8th child, the prophetic voice returned, and said, “Take the child across the river Yamuna to Gokul and exchange him with your friends Nand and Yashoda’s newly born daughter.” Vasudev looked down to realize, his hands had been unchained. He quickly picked up his child and put him in a basket, arriving at the gates to find them opened on their own and the guards asleep. As he crossed the stormy river, the basket upon his head, the water never rose above his shoulders. When he struggled, a ten-headed snake appeared to protect the child from the pouring rain. Vasudev by now had realized that his child was a divine being. At Nand’s house, Vasudev switched the children and returned to the prison. When Kans arrived and tried to harm the child, it took the form of Goddess Durga and said “The 8th child, who is going to end your reign of terror, has been born and will fulfil his prophecy.” The child, Krishna, was raised by Yashoda and went on to kill Kans, symbolizing the victory of good over evil. And so, every year we celebrate the birth of Krishna, also known as Janmashtami, across India. Watch the same story in English (Story of Krishna Janmashtami in English) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFdsz-a8ce0 #KrishnaJanmashtami #Hindi #Mythology Learn more about the story of Krishna Janmashtami and Lord Krishna, here: https://mocomi.com/the-story-of-krishna-janmashtami/ Watch the stories of Indian Gods and Goddesses in Hindi here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzJo4hFAi2s&list=PL6vCwGtCTVtOLrOswYyPUCfHv169pobpt For more such interesting mythology stories and videos click: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dnc2NQ8uPRQ&list=PL6vCwGtCTVtPsO42u3tKYxyJpCeoiZGX1 For more festivals celebrated around the world, visit: https://mocomi.com/learn/culture/festivals/ Watch more educational content for Kids here: https://mocomi.com/ – Top educational website for kids, Subscribe here for new and interesting content every week ► ► https://www.youtube.com/mocomikids?sub_confirmation=1 Follow Mocomi Kids – Top educational website for kids, on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/mocomikids/ on Twitter https://twitter.com/MocomiKids on Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/mocomikids/ on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/mocomikids/ on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/company/mocomi-kids2019-08-02T11:30:00Z

The festival celebrates Lord Krishna’s birthday, according to the Hindustan Times and the history of his escape and rescue from an evil king.

According to the history, Princess Devaki and Vasudeva were married, but were also given the prophecy that the couple’s eighth son would cause the downfall of King Kansa, who was also Devaki’s brother. Krishna, the eighth son, was born in the Bhadrapada month (between August and September) on the “eighth day of the dark fortnight.”

When Kansa heard the prophecy, he imprisoned both Devaki and Vasudeva, and killed their first six children. Vasudeva rescued his son and gave him to another couple, Nand Baba and Yashodha in a different region. When Vasudeva returned to Mathura, he gave the king a baby girl. Although the king attempted to kill the baby, she transformed, becoming the Goddes Durga and telling him his fate.

2. Who is Krishna?

Krishna is present in the form of His transcendental name, and we can contact Him immediately by hearing His name. Simply by hearing the name Krishna we immediately become freed from material contamination.

-Srila Prabhupada pic.twitter.com/EW8XjU9zs8

— Iskcon,Inc. (@IskconInc) August 8, 2020

Krishna is a Hindu god who has been worshipped since 5th century B.C.E., according to an Ancient History Encyclopedia. In addition to Janmashtami, Krishna is also celebrated during the festival of Puri, which involves a chariot festival commemorating an attempt to convince an older Krishna to return to the town where he was hidden from the evil king.

Krishna appeared both as a god disguised as human and as a prince pretending to be a commoner. The young Krishna is described as mischievous and adventurous; he killed an ogress, giant bull, giant snake and the king of horses. He was also credited as being a demon killer and of lifting a mountain to save people from a flood. However, the article states that his disguises “hint at Krishna’s dual purpose as the punisher of human deeds but also as a bringer of enlightenment.”

Krishna is usually portrayed with long black hair and dark black or blue skin, hence the blue body paint used during festivals; he is also usually depicted wearing a yellow robe, a peacock feather in his hair and playing a flute. He sometimes also has a club and/or with cows, as a nod to his days being a cowherd.

3. How Is The Festival Celebrated?

Happy Krishna Janmashtami 2020: 3 best milk sweet recipes you must try this Janmashtami #krishnajanmashtamihttps://t.co/lBmWVpZSRF pic.twitter.com/YzKv7qAUTW

— Newsd (@GetNewsd) August 8, 2020

Indian Express reported that the holiday is celebrated by fasting, singing devotional songs, cooking sweet treats and maintaining a vigil, along with several other rituals and actions. After the fast is broken, idols of Lord Krishna are cleaned, given new clothes and adorned with new ornaments and placed in a cradle. Then, women often draw tiny footprints leading a trail to symbolize Krishna’s journey home.

The holiday is mainly marked by two major events, dahi handi and puja. “Puja” is the fast, which is supposed to take place 12:05 a.m. on August 11 to 12:48 a.m. on August 12, according to India.com. (Those celebrating outside of India may need to adjust their celebration times).

“Dahi handi” is a celebration of one of Baby Krishna’s favorite foods, makkhan, which is white butter, curd and milk. On the festival, people build a human pyramid and a young boy is sent to break a 20-foot-high pot filled with “makkhan,” the Hindustan Times reported.

4. Where Is The Festival Celebrated?

GettyA Janmashtami celebration in India (left) and the largest celebration outside of India in Watford, England (right).

The Indian Express reported that the festival is celebrated in Mathura, where Krishna was said to be born. It is also celebrated in parts of Gujarat, Rajasthan, and in India’s northeastern states, such as Assam and Manipur.

However, the festival is also celebrated in other parts of the country, such as Watford, England, which boasts the largest Janmashtami outside of India. In 2011, nearly 60,000 pilgrims were expected to show up, BBC reported. That celebration came with the opening of a nonprofit Ahimsa Dairy Foundation and worship of cows, which are considered sacred symbols of peace and prosperity in Hindu culture.

It is also celebrated in kitchens! Sweet treats are a prominent feature of the holiday. Treats, according to Spoon University, include Gole ki Barfi, a combination of desiccated coconut, mawa and sugar; kheer, a mix of milk, sugar and dry fruits with other options; meehi mathri, a unsalted mathri fo refined flour that was soaked in sugar syrup; and Shrikhand, made with yogurt, sugar, cardamom powder and saffron.

5. What Celebrations Are Planned During The Pandemic?

Akashvani brings you Shree Krishna Janmashtami Celebrations live from Mathura's Dwarkadhish Temple and Shri Krishna Janmasthaan on Wednesday 12th August, 2020 from 11.20 PM to 12.15 AM.

Stay tuned! pic.twitter.com/fwez7BGqsV

— Akashvani Pune (@akashvanipune) August 8, 2020

According to the Indian Express, the celebration of the festival will be smaller because of the coronavirus pandemic. Moreover, it is highly unlikely that the typical large public celebrations will take place anywhere in the country.

DNA India reported that the Mathura Administration forbade public events from behind held in the region due to coronavirus concerns and the Krishna Janmabhoomi temple would be closed from August 10-13.

However, many of the activities can still be carried out at home, such as praying, fasting, cooking and rituals with the idols. Children can also reportedly dress up as Krishna with blue paint, yellow robes and other adornments, help cook the festival’s famously sweet treats or craft their own “Krishna” peacock feathers.

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