It Happens: Fertility Festival

Guwahati, June 27 (ANI): Amid the clash of cymbals and blowing of conch shells, saffron-robed Hindu holy men performed mystic rituals to celebrate the annual fertility festival at the revered shrine of Goddess Kamakhya in the northeastern Indian city of Guwahati. The four-day festival also known as 'Ambubachi fair', which began on June 22, is held with the grand arrival of monsoon in Assam. As per Hindu mythology, Kamakhya is one of the most mystical religious sites in India. The festival is based on the belief that during this period the goddess goes through her annual menstrual cycle - symbolizing fertility. The temple has no image of the goddess but a natural underground stream which emanates from a fissure in a rock that symbolizes Lord Shiva's wife Sati. During the time of the festival the water turns red due to iron oxidation resembling menstrual fluids. The main gate of the temple remains closed for the visitors for three days and devotees wait outside the temple till the fourth day, when the temple is opened. The festival is also a major draw for the practitioners of occult with a large number of pot smoking ascetics descending on the shrine, lending a mystic aura to the whole atmosphere. Holy men and priests danced to religious hymns as they camped outside the temple, wa Jun 27, 2014

It Happens: Snake Lover

Kerala, June 27 (ANI): A snake lover from Kannur district in India's southern province of Kerala hatched five python eggs successfully. For Rajneesh, 26, petting snakes is his passion. He claims he was just an eight-year-old when he caught the first snake, thinking it to be a fish. Ever since he has been catching snakes as the fear-factor began to fade. He claims to have caught over 4000 snakes so far. Rajneesh says he never gives a second thought when he has to take snake eggs back home and hatch and nurture them. The snake lover said he recently got a call regarding a python being spotted in a nearby house and rushed to the spot to catch it but couldn't. Instead, he was able to return home with seven eggs of that python, of which he successfully hatched five, which he claims are healthy and doing fine. Rajneesh is now a part of the rapid rescue team of the forest department and earns his living with the job apart from the small amount he gets from villagers by catching snakes. Rajneesh has managed to retain some of the snakes in his small house ranging from dangerous ones like king cobra, wiper and few other species as his loving pets. Jun 27, 2014

Flash floods in Assam kills at least 6, affect thousands

Guwahati, June 27 (ANI): Flash floods hit five districts in Guwahati city of Assam, killing at least 6 and affecting nearly 30,000 people. Flood has been reported from seven revenue circles and 43 villages in these districts. Cars and other vehicles were seen submerged in water. According to an official release by Assam State Disaster Management Authority, Lakhimpur, Darrang, Sonitpur and Udalguri districts are affected by the Brahmaputra and its tributary Jiabharali. Authorities have opened four relief camps in Darrang and one in Sonitpur and over 9,500 people are taking shelter in those camps. Jun 27, 2014

First batch of Amarnath Yatra pilgrims flagged off in Jammu

Jammu and Kashmir, June 27 (ANI): Jammu and Kashmir tourism minister Ghulam Ahmad Mir on Friday flagged off the first batch of Amarnath Yatra from Jammu. Due to heavy snowfall at Pahalgam-Chandanwari route, the yatra will start from Baltal route on Saturday and further review of the traditional Pahalgam route will be taken on June 30. Security has been stepped up on various routes and forces have been deployed to ensure safety of devotees. Devout Hindus chanted name of Lord Shiva as they left for the base camp from Jammu. Amarnath Yatra commences in the last week of June every year and concludes in early August. Jun 27, 2014

Rajnath Singh holds meeting to chalk out strategies to fight rebels

New Delhi, June 27 (ANI): Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh met top officials of all Maoist-affected regions in New Delhi on Friday to discuss strategies to deal with the rebel activities and also assured government's support in tackling the issue. DGPs and Chief Secretaries of the states along with the chiefs of central forces attended the meeting that was presided over by Singh and Minister of State for Home Affairs, Kiren Rijju. The meeting was aimed at chalking out plans to tackle Maoism and review rebel operations in the affected states. Senior officials from Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal and Maharashtra attended the meeting. Maoists, also known as Naxals, have killed police and politicians, and targeted government buildings and railway tracks in an insurgency that has killed thousands since 1960s. Jun 27, 2014

Indian company builds Afghanistan parliament building to boost bilateral ties

Kabul, June 27 (ANI): A team of Indian engineers and supervisors are working diligently to build Afghanistan parliament building in Kabul city in a bid to boost bilateral ties between the two countries. The team comprising 50 workers from different states of India said they were facing no problems and added that Afghanistan has always been friendly towards Indians.The team members said people in Afghanistan were treating them well and they felt secure in the nation. The parliament building will be the most prominent symbol of Indian efforts to help Afghanistan. Its foundation stone was laid by the last king of Afghanistan, Mohammed Zahir Shah, in presence of President Hamid Karzai and then Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2005. The construction began in 2009 and efforts are underway to complete project by this year end. Jun 27, 2014

Sushma Swarajs visit to Bangladesh satisfying and fulfilling: MEA

Dhaka, June 27 (ANI): India said on Friday that Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj’s maiden visit to Bangladesh was extremely satisfying and fulfilling. Swaraj discussed Teesta River water sharing deal, Land Boundary Agreement and illegal immigration issues with neighbouring Bangladesh. Earlier in the day, Swaraj met Bangladeshi former Prime Minister and chairperson of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Begum Khaleda Zia, discussed regional and global issues of mutual interest. Swaraj also called on the leader of opposition in Bangladeshi Parliament, Roushan Ershad. Jun 27, 2014

Raging inferno breaks out in building near Mumbai CST

Mumbai, June 27 (ANI): Raging inferno broke out on the fifth floor of administrative building of Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus station in Mumbai on Friday. More than seven fire tending vehicles have been rushed to the spot and firefighting is still on. The fire has caused a major traffic jam on DN Road near the station. There are no reports of casualties so far. Jun 27, 2014

Pistorius trial to resume on Monday

Oscar Pistorius' trial for murder will resume on Monday, following a suspension to allow the Paralympic sprinter to undergo a series of psychiatric tests. Duration: 01:44 Jun 27, 2014

DU agrees to scrap FYUP, admissions to start shortly

New Delhi, June 27 (ANI): The Delhi University on Friday decided to scrap the four-year programme to go back to the earlier three-year programme, a day after the UGC rejected its alternative proposal over the FYUP to end the deadlock. The decision was taken at a meeting of principals of colleges affiliated to the DU that was held at the Indraprastha college. According to reports, the Delhi University has written to the UGC, saying it will start admissions under the three-year programme shortly. The standoff between the University Grants Commission (UGC) and Delhi University had resulted in an inordinate delay in the admission procedure. Jun 27, 2014

Indian workers escape Iraq crisis, complain of ill treatment

New Delhi, June 27 (ANI): Indian workers, who arrived at international airport in New Delhi on Friday after escaping from Iraq, complained of ill treatment by Iraq administration and embassy. The fighters from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have advanced to capital Baghdad from new strongholds along the Syrian border. About 10,000 Indian nationals work in Iraq, mostly in areas unaffected by the fighting between the ISIL and the national army. An Indian worker, Mohammad Zaid Ansari, who escaped from Iraq via Qatar, said the Iraqi government has even failed to provide food to the stranded Indian nationals Jun 27, 2014

Delhi University rolls back FYUP, politicos react

New Delhi, June 27 (ANI): Political leaders on Friday welcomed the Delhi University’s decision to scrap the four-year programme to go back to the earlier three-year programme. The decision was taken at a meeting of principals of colleges affiliated to the DU that was held at the Indraprastha college. According to reports, the Delhi University has written to the UGC, saying it will start admissions under the three-year programme shortly. The standoff between the University Grants Commission (UGC) and Delhi University had resulted in an inordinate delay in the admission procedure. Jun 27, 2014

Delhi Metro shut down 4 stations as IAS aspirants hold protests

New Delhi, June 27 (ANI): Four metro stations in the national capital have been closed 'indefinitely', as hundreds of students said that they will protest in front of the Prime Minister's residence on Race Course Road. The stations that have been shut down are Patel Chowk, Central Secretariat, Race Course Road and Udyog Bhawan. More than 3,000 students were holding a demonstration at Civil Lines who later marched to Rajghat, against the change in pattern of the Civil Services exams -which makes CSAT compulsory for those who want to become IAS officers. UPSC aspirants had staged a protest last week outside the residence of Home Minister Rajnath Singh demanding a four-year age relaxation for appearing in the examinations of these services. Jun 27, 2014

Vice President Hamid Ansari meets Zhao Zhengyong

XIAN, June 27 (ANI): Vice-President, Hamid Ansari, who is on a five-day visit to China, on Friday (June 27) met Secretary, Shaanxi Provincial Committee, Zhao Zhengyong . The Vice-President had arrived in Xian city on Thursday and would go to Beijing today with his delegation to boost bilateral relations between the two nations. Ansari would also participate in trilateral summit with host China and Myanmar on the occasion of 60th anniversary of the Panchsheel agreement.He is accompanied by MoS trade, Nirmala Sitharaman, and other top officials. Jun 27, 2014

HRD Minister Smriti Irani on FYUP issue of Delhi University

Bhopal, June 27 (ANI): Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani on Friday refused to comment over the tussle between Delhi University and University Grants Commission regarding FYUP. Irani stated that it is not proper time for her to speak on this issue. Jun 27, 2014