Monday, August 21, 2017




   For communities like Killorglin to survive against the often overpowering commercial pressures imposed by their larger, urbanized neighbors it takes an inherent, deep seated tenacity. To say that the industrial and economic success of the town came about as a result of being ably represented politically, at the right time - is true - but only part of the overall picture. This train of thought displays an ignorance of how these market towns, strategically set down at cross-roads, not only survive against fierce odds but indeed thrive. A cursory glance at the history of any such town will reveal the growing pains and battle scars endured by generations to get us to where we are today.

   Rivers played a huge role in the establishment of trade centers and in Killorglin's case the Laune with its link and proximity to the well sheltered Castlemaine Harbour must have presented a very attractive location to the first travellers - commercial or otherwise. Political historians will recall the late Timothy Chub O'Connor extolling the virtues of his native patch and he painted a picture with the kind of infectious    enthusiasm that industrialists found impossible to ignore.

   The vibrancy of the community is marked by the ever increasing list of events sprinkled throughout the year and the world famous Puck Fair has been added to by festivals like the 'The Wild Flower of the Laune Vintage Harvest Festival' and the recently revived Head of the River Regatta. The mammoth, annual undertaking that is the pantomime is yet another of the great logistical wonders so crucial to the survival of the spirit of community involvement.


   The most widely mentioned story relating to the origin of King Puck, associates him with the English Ironside Leader Oliver Cromwell. It is related that while the "Roundheads" were pillaging the countryside around Shanara and Kilgobnet at the foot of the McGillycuddy Reeks, they routed a herd of goats grazing on the upland. The animals took flight before the raiders, and the he-goat or "Puck" broke away on his own and lost contact with the herd. While the others headed for the mountains he went

towards Cill Orglain (Killorglin) on the banks of the Laune. His arrival there in a state of semi exhaustion alerted the inhabitants of the approaching danger and they immediately set about protecting themselves and their stock.
   It is said that in recognition of the service rendered by the goat, the people decided to institute a special festival in his honour and this festival has been held ever since.
Other legends regarding the origin of "King Puck" relates to the time of Daniel O'Connell, who in 1808 was an unknown barrister. It seems that before that year, the August fair held in Killorglin had been a toll fair, but an Act of the British Parliament empowered the Viceroy or Lord Lieutenant in Dublin to make an order, at his own discretion, making it unlawful to levy tolls at cattle, horse or sheep fairs. Tolls in

Killorglin at this time were collected by the local landlord - Mr Harman Blennerhassett - who had fallen into bad graces with the authorities in Dublin Castle and as a result the Viceroy robbed him of his right to levy tolls. Blennerhassett enlisted the services of the young Daniel O'Connell, who in an effort to reverse the decision decided that goats were not covered by the document and that the landlord would be legally entitled to hold a goat fair, and levy his tolls as usual. Thus the fair was promptly advertised as taking place on August 10th, 1808, and on that day a goat was hoisted on a stage to show to all attending that the fair was indeed a goat fair - thus Blennerhassett collected his toll money and Killorglin gained a King.
   Whatever its origins, the fair has long been and continues to be the main social, economic and cultural event in the Killorglin Calendar. It is a time when old friends meet, when new friendships are forged and the cares of everyday living are put on hold.


1613 to Today

   There are many legends which suggest an origin for the Fair, many of which are wildly inventive, but there is no written record stating when the Fair started. It can however be traced back to a charter from 1603 by King James I granting legal status to the existing fair in Killorglin.
   It has been suggested that it is linked to pre-Christian celebrations of a fruitful harvest and that the male goat or "Puck" was a pagan symbol of fertility, like the pagan god Pan.

   The origins of the fair have thus been lost in the midst of antiquity, and various commissions set up over the past two hundred years have tried in vain to date them. Evidence suggests that the fair existed long before written record of everyday occurrences were kept as there is one written reference from the 17th Century in existence which grants Jenkins Conway, the local landlord at the time, the right to collect a sum for every animal brought to the August Fair. This would suggest that the Fair was something already well established in the local community.


The town of Gotland

Travel 600 years back in time

   During eight days in August the Middle Age is back. Gotland’s special settings, Visby’s 200 medieval houses on winding lanes, splendid church ruins, and the magnificent city wall frame a spectacle without equal.
   Markets and music, theater and lectures. Knights clash in tournaments. Medieval Week leaves no one unaffected. It is an unforgettable journey in time and space. Experience Medieval Week on Gotland. Discover history.
   Medieval Week 2011 takes place August 7th - 14th.

About Gotland
   Gotland, Sweden’s largest island, lies right in the middle of the Baltic.
   Its population is 58.000, a figure that doubles many times over during the summer, as Gotland is a much-loved destination for holidaymakers.
   The island’s biggest city, Visby, boasts one of the best preserved medieval ramparts anywhere in the world. Not surprisingly, Visby has been on UNESCO’s world heritage list since 1995. It also has more restaurants per capita than just about any city in Sweden, offering a wide range of culinary delights.

   The countryside, with its woodlands, bleak heaths and flowering meadows, is richly varied and hauntingly beautiful. Here, you’ll also find more than 90 medieval churches, ancient remains from the Viking period and any number of top-quality crafts studios. Along the almost 800 km coastline, gently shelving sandy beaches alternate with shingle shores and seaside meadows. The climate is mild, with many hours of sunshine and pleasantly warm autumns.

What is the Medieval Week?

      The Medieval Week is arranged annually on Gotland in the beginning of August.
   In the year of 2010 it will be held from Sunday the 8th to Sunday the 15th of August.
   Every year during one week in August, we blow life into history. The Medieval market gets into life in Gotlandsänget and Paviljongsplan, where stonemasons and smiths work alongside the clattering of horses’ hooves and bleating sheep.

   A week filled with color and events, including music, pageants and jousting tournaments. A huge variety of lectures and study courses are also held. A mixture of sobriety and merriment, education and festivities.
   The Medieval Week incorporates music, dance and theatre performed by many different artists and groups.
   You will find hair-raising mystery plays and amusing farces. There are guided walks around the Medieval town and its wall. You can walk around herb gardens or along the shore. There are many opportunities to learn more about the Middle Ages through a wide variety of courses, including Medieval crafts of various kinds, song and music, runes or even juggling, as well as the chance to attend various lectures.

   One of the highlights of the week is the Jousting Tournament. This spectacle brings to life the atmosphere of a Medieval tournament, where knights on horseback joust. You will also find a royal presence, archers, combatants, acrobats and Medieval markets. These tournaments have proved to be so popular that some are held as early as July, in Visby and in the countryside. A large number of other events of the Week also take place outside Visby in churches, museums etc.
   Medieval Week on Gotland is well-known by many. We can hear professional men and women refer to Medieval Week in radio programs, we can read about Gotland and Medieval Week in books and magazines. A couple of doctoral theses cover Medieval Week and its activities.    By how many know what Medeltidsveckan looks like from behind and how it is organized. Medeltidsveckan is run by an independent foundation with a small office at its disposal. Here a few dedicated persons work all year around to make sure that week 32 on Gotland becomes an experience to remember and to take home. The foundation was founded in 1994 by six founders: Gotlands kommun, Gotlands Fornvänner, Gotlands Turistförening, Gotlands Hembygdsförbund, Gotlands Bildningsförbund and Medeltidsgillet på Gotland.

   As important as the office that keeps Medieval Week together, are all the persons who volunteer before and during week 32. They are the reason this special week takes place. It is also the associations and companies that make it possible for the little extras to work.
   Something you learn when you have participated in Medieval Week over a few years is that there many things that have to fit in order for it all to function. Even the implementation of the smallest detail is a condition for the whole arrangement to be a success.

Wardrobe and baubles used during Medievel Week


Historical background to Medieval Week:

   Let’s go back to the summer of 1361 when Visby still was a powerful Hanseatic town with a surrounding wall, wealthy churches, monasteries and chapels.

   Warehouses with their stepped gables were clustered tightly along the main street Strandgatan, filled with luxurious goods brought by ship from far off countries.
   The streets and alleys were thronged with merchants, monks, servant girls, journeymen and beggars. Gotland belonged to Sweden which was at that time ruled by Magnus Eriksson. However, the island gave a strong impression of being its own realm, where there was distinct antagonism between the townspeople and the wealthy farmers. Valdemar Atterdag ruled Denmark.
   King Magnus was forced to cede the provinces Blekinge, Skåne and Halland in 1360. The large islands Gotland and Öland were also threatened.

    King Valdemar and his army landed on the west coast of Gotland on July 22, 1361. The Gotlandic farmers defended themselves bravely, but were finally overthrown in the great battle outside the gates of Visby, where 2000 men fell.
    The townspeople passively witnessed the farmers’ downfall. In exchange for Valdemar’s promise to retain its privileges, the town capitulated and opened its gates.
The Coat of Arms of Medieval WeekThe Medieval Week’s coat of arms was developed in 2005 and is today used for symbolism at ceremonial occasions.
   The heraldic symbolism of the coat of arms represents Medieval Week and Gotland at the same time. The two-part shield exemplifies the countryside and the city on Gotland, and also the connection between the two. Red and white are the colors of Gotland.

   The left part of the shield is adorned by a ram which has been recognized and acknowledged as the symbol of Gotland since medieval times. The numerous yellow crosses represent all the churches found on Gotland that through history have had so much importance for both city and countryside.
   The rose coat of arms on the right is inspired by Peder Harding’s coat of arms (Peter Harding was the Gotlandic chief who led the people of the countryside in the civil war of 1288). In addition the rose is the flower that symbolizes and is associated with Gotland, and especially with Visby.
   The coat of arms is designed by the heraldist Veljo Pärli.


The Soul of Medieval Week

   What entices thousands of visitors to come to Gotland and dress in medieval clothing?
   Young and old travel back 1000 years and live in the Medieval Age for a whole week on Gotland.
   Is the interest for this distant time period really serious or do we have a wish to escape from the present for a while, to dress in something foreign or different? To become a different person and fantasize about how life would have been for people in various situations, occupations and social connections.
   Medieval Week is carried out with high quality demands. All events shall be perceived as medieval and genuine, while the artistic creation of today also shall be found on the program – historical science and contemporary creativity in close association seems ideal to us!

   Medieval Week mixes high and low, just like medieval times, the heavenly and the worldly, advanced artistic achievements and a flowing selection of things and events. The mixture of styles, strong and unrestrained, is one of the phenomena that make the character of Medieval Week a real and authentic experience. That is also why we, year after year, meet visitors who faithfully - and enthusiastically – return



Rakhi: The Thread of Love

   In India, festivals are the celebration of togetherness, of being one of the family. Raksha Bandhan is one such festival that is all about affection, fraternity and sublime sentiments. It is also known as Raksha Bandhan which means a 'bond of protection'. This is an occasion to flourish love, care, affection and sacred feeling of brotherhood.
   Not a single festival in India is complete without the typical Indian festivities, the gatherings, celebrations, exchange of sweets and gifts, lots of noise, singing and dancing. Raksha Bandhan is a regional celebration to celebrate the sacred relation between brothers and sisters. Primarily, this festival belongs to north and western region of India but soon the world has started celebrating this festival with the same verse and spirit. Rakhi has become an integral part of those customs.

An insight of Rakhi Rituals

   On the day of Rakhi, sisters prepares the pooja thali with diya, roli, chawal, rakhi thread and sweets. The ritual begins with a prayer in front of God, then the sister ties Rakhi to her brother and wishes for his happiness and well-being. In turn, the brother acknowledge the love with a promise to stand by his sister through all the good and bad times.
   Sisters tie Rakhi on the wrist of their brothers amid chanting of mantras, put roli and rice on his forehead and pray for his well-being. She bestows him with gifts and blessings. In turn, brothers also wish her a good life and pledges to take care of her. He gives her a return gift. The gift symbolizes the physical acceptance of her love, reminder of their togetherness and his pledge. The legends and the reference in history repeated, the significance of the festival is emphasized.

Unconditional Bond of Love

        Raksha bandhan has been celebrated in the same way with the same traditions for many years. Only the means have changed with the changing lifestyle to make the celebration more elaborate and lively. This day has an inherent power that pulls the siblings together. The increasing distances evoke the desire to be together even more. All brothers and sisters try to reach out to each other on this auspicious day. The joyous meeting, the rare family get-together, that erstwhile feeling of brotherhood and sisterhood calls for a massive celebration.
     For everyone, it is an opportunity to reunion and celebrate. People also share tasty dishes, wonderful sweets and exchange gifts. It is a time to share their past experiences also. For those who are not able to meet each other, rakhi cards and e-rakhis and rakhis through mails perform the part of communicating the rakhi messages. Hand made rakhis and self-made rakhi cards are just representation of the personal feelings of the siblings.

Traditions & Customs

    Raksha Bandhan is an occasion to celebrate the sacred bond of love and affection between siblings with lots of verve. Also known as Raksha Bandhan across the world, this festival is primarily a north Indian festival that is celebrated all brothers and sisters to express their deep emotions, love and affection.
On the day of Rakhi festival, the sister ties Rakhi on the wrist of her brother and both make prayer to God for the well being of each other. Sisters perform 'aarti' and put tilak on the forehead of her brother. In return, brothers make promise to take care of his sister under all circumstances. Usually, brothers gift something to the sister to mark the occasion. The mirth that surrounds the festival is unsurpassed. Amidst the merriment the rituals are also followed with great devotion.

Preparation of Rakhi Festival

    Generally, the fancy Rakhis and delicious sweets are prepared long before the Shravana Purnima. According to the Indian tradition, the family members get ready for the rituals early in the morning. They take a bath to purify mind and body before starting any preparations. Sisters prepare the puja thali which consists of roli, tilak, Rakhi threads, rice grains, aggarbattis (incense sticks), diyas and sweets. After offering the rituals to the deities of the family, the sister perform aarti of their brothers and ties Rakhi on their wrist. Then, they put kumkum powder on the forehead of their brother and offer sweets. All these rituals take place amid the chanting of the following mantras :

"Suraj shakhan chhodian, Mooli chhodia beej
Behen ne rakhi bandhi / Bhai tu chir jug jee"
Which means "The sun radiates its sunlight, the radish spreads its seeds,
I tie the rakhi to you O brother and wish that may you live long."
After her prayer for a long life for her brother, she says that she is tie the ever-protective Raksha to her brother's wrist and chants:

"Yena baddho Balee raajaa daanavendro mahaabalah
tena twaam anubadhnaami rakshe maa chala maa chala"

   This means," I tie you the rakhi that was tied to king Bali, the king of Demons,
O Rakhi I pray that you never falter in protecting your devotee.
   In return, brothers pampers and blesses the sisters and promises to protect her from all the evils of this world. He also present a token of his love and affection as a Rakhi gift. The rituals performed on Raksha Bandhan may differ from place to place but they carry the same aura throughout the globe.
Raksha Bandhan in History
    The traditional Hindu festival 'Raksha Bandhan' (knot of protection) was came into origin about 6000 years back when Aryans created first civilization - The Indus Valley Civilization. With many languages and cultures, the traditional method to Rakhi festival celebration differs from place to place across India. Following are some historical evidences of Raksha Bandhan celebration from the Indian history.

Rani Karnawati and Emperor Humayun

   The story of Rani Karnavati and Emperor Humayun is the most significant evidence in the history. During the medieval era, Rajputs were fighting Muslim invasions. Rakhi at that time meant a spiritual binding and protection of sisters was foremost. When Rani Karnawati the widowed queen of the king of Chittor realised that she could in no way defend the invasion of the Sultan of Gujarat, Bahadur Shah, she sent a rakhi to Emperor Humayun. The Emperor touched by the gesture started off with his troops without wasting any time.

Alexander The Great and King Puru

   The oldest reference to the festival of rakhi goes back to 300 B.C. at the time when Alexander invaded India. It is said that the great conqueror, King Alexander of Macedonia was shaken by the fury of the Indian king Puru in his first attempt. Upset by this, Alexander's wife, who had heard of the Rakhi festival, approached King Puru. King Puru accepted her as his sister and when the opportunity came during the war, he refrained from Alexander.

Lord Krishna and Draupathi

   In order to protect the good people, Lord Krishna killed the evil King Shishupal. Krishna was hurt during the war and left with bleeding finger. Seeing this, Draupathi had torn a strip of cloth from her sari and tied around his wrist to stop the bleeding. Lord Krishna, realizing her affections and concern about him, declared himself bounded by her sisterly love. He promised her to repay this debt whenever she need in future. Many years later, when the pandavas lost Draupathi in the game of dice and Kauravas were removing her saari, Krishna helped her divinely elongating the saari so that they could not remove it.

King Bali and Goddess Lakshmi

   The demon king Mahabali was a great devotee of lord Vishnu. Because of his immense devotion, Vishnu has taken the task of protecting bali's Kingdom leaving his normal place in Vikundam. Goddess lakshmi - the wife of lord Vishnu - has became sad because of this as she wanted lord Vishnu along with her. So she went to Bali and discussed as a Brahmin woman and taken refuge in his palace. On Shravana purnima, she tied Rakhi on King Bali's wrist. Goddess Lakshmi ord Vishnu to accompany her to vaikuntam. Due to this festival is also called Baleva as Bali Raja's devotion to the Lord vishnu. It is said that since that day it has become a tradition to invite sisters on sravan pournima to tie sacred thread of Rakhi or Raksha bandan.

Rakhi Celebrations

   In India, Rakhi celebrations are about strengthening the bond of love between brothers and sisters and fostering brotherhood. This festival is not a ritual, custom and tradition that can change over time but its style of celebration has become contemporary. Since ages, Raksha Bandhan is being celebrated in the same way. All the traditions are followed with the same enthusiasm. The gaieties have only blown up to a larger scale. Rakhi festival is the celebration of the chaste bond of love amongst the siblings.
     Everyone start preparing for this festival much in advance. About a month before the commencement of raksha bandhan, you can see fancy and colorful rakhis in every market. Ladies start shopping for rakhi and rakhi gifts quite early. They shop for new clothes and beautiful rakhi gifts specially the one that have to be sent to their brothers staying far. Almost every shop, be it sweet shops, garment shops, gift shops, or any other shop, all are flooded with attractive rakhi gifts to attract people.

   The celebration of Rakhi, in India, is well known for its carnival spirit and strengthening the bond of love between brothers and sisters. In fact, India is globally known for its colorful festivals and ever-green tradition. Celebrated with different rituals, family get-together and sweets, Raksha Bandhan is about sentiments, love and enjoyment. Like any other festival, rakhi has its unique significance.
   On the day of Rakhi festival, the festivity of this auspicious day begin by the day break. After taking bath early morning, people get ready by wearing new clothes and gather for worshiping. After invoking the the blessings of the Gods, the sister performs brother’s arti, puts tika and chawal on his forehead and ties Rakhi amongst chanting of mantras. Sisters whole heartedly give sweets to their brothers to eat which in turns add more sweetness in the Raksha Bandhan celebration and pray for their well being. In return, brothers pamper their sisters and present beautiful gifts to lure them. They also promise to take care of her and stand by her side in any circumstances.

   After performing all these rituals, the whole family reunion to enjoy and have fun. Then all of them share the delicious food, tasty sweets, gifts, music and dance. It is a day to remember all the memorable time spent together for those who, for any reason, are far away from their family. Emotions can also be expressed through e-mails, e-cards, rakhi greeting cards and rakhi through Internet. The overflowing emotions of siblings cannot be stopped on this day.
   Rabindra Nath Tagore started gathering of people like 'Rakhi Mahotsavas' in Shantiniketan to propogate the feeling of brotherhood among people. He believed that the this will invoke trust and feeling of peaceful coexistence. Raksha Bandhan, for them, is a way to harmonize the relationship of humanity. The tradition continues as people started tying rakhis to the neighbor and friends.