We meet at 2 pm on the fourth Tuesday of the month at the Congregational Church, Kilwardby St, Ashby.
There is normally a guest speaker or, in December, musical entertainment.
This is followed by tea, coffee and biscuits and a chance to meet and talk with other members.
|Tue 28th May||Leslie Powell||Guide Dogs for the Blind|
|Tue 25th Jun||Philip Caine||Barrow to Baghdad and back again|
|Tue 23rd Jul||AGM||Graham Short||The hands of genius|
|Tue 27th Aug||Cream Tea Event||No speaker|
|Tue 24th Sep||Jack Perks||Best of British|
|Tue 22nd Oct||Alexa Wigfield||"When You Wish Upon A Star" - Dream making for sick children.|
|Tue 26th Nov||Roger Hailwood||The Yorkshire Dales.|
|Tue 10th Dec||Christmas Event||Nick Gravestock||Ayres & Graces - Christmas entertainment|
|Tue 28th Jan||Stephanie and Trevor Mee||Confessions of game show junkies|
|Tue 25th Feb||Colin Hill||Dancing with Diana|
|Tue 24th Mar||Mark Walsh||"The Ukulele Sensation"|
Tea Rota, Meeters & Greeters, Reporting Groups
|Month||Tea Group||Meet & Greet||Reporting Groups|
|Tue 28th May||Margaret Baxendale, Neil Roberts, Leslie Roberts||Italian and Literature|
|Tue 25th Jun||Anne Donegan, Lesley Thomas, David Thomas, Maureen Broad||Lunch and Medium Walks|
|Tue 23rd Jul||Pat Bithell, Terry Bithell, Julia Fraser, Henry Sharples||TBA|
|Tue 27th Aug||The Committee for Cream Tea||none|
|Tue 24th Sep||Joan Benton, Sue Bloor, Phil Bloor, Carol Smith||TBA|
|Tue 22nd Oct||Jean Preece, Brenda Dummer, Sandra Fox||TBA|
|Tue 26th Nov||Jenny Slawson, Pete Slawson, Bridget Fairway, Jim Fairway||TBA|
|Tue 10th Dec||The Committee for Christmas Fare||none|
This month we were taken on a trip to central India, to a world of murder, sex and incest and of love at first sight.
Pete Fitzpatrick gave us a most interesting and fascinating talk on the Taj Mahal, telling us he wasn't an expert, but he has obviously been and seen it and researched the place and its history thoroughly.
He started by telling us how the Moghuls had invaded India in the 1500s from Persia and ruled India for about 200 years. They were a war-like people, but once they had conquered they tried to assimilate into their new surroundings and although they were Muslims they allowed Hinduism to continue.
With the Moghuls settled in India, their royal families lived a grand life. They built forts and fabulous palaces, using the best local craftsmen to add to their own skills. Incorporating architecture from both India and Persia to decorate them. They had air conditioning in their Palaces, created by water running over rippled surfaces within the rooms and bamboo blinds with water running down over the doorways.
Royalty sat on the roof tops during the evening sheltered by a Chattri, an Indian feature meaning a canopy or umbrella, to catch any breeze.
The emperors had large harems as their sexual playgrounds with Emperor Akbar reputed to have 5000 women in his harem and about 500 in Emperor Shah Jahan's.
The mothers of the emperors ruled over the harem and the ladies were not to be seen by outsiders. Abortion was commonplace in the harem as the more favourite wives did not want lesser wives producing the emperor's children.
There are no paintings of any of the wives as it was not appropriate for the ladies faces to be seen by commoners, so no artists could see them in order to paint them.
The rules of succession were not straightforward and so emperors' children were known to murder or poison their brothers and even nephews in order to inherit from their fathers. Emperor Jahangir, the son of Akbar, was exceptionally cruel and liked to watch his prisoners being trampled by elephants or being skinned alive.
Jahangir's son, Shah Jahan, who at the age of 16 and still a prince, visited a summer fair and saw Mumtaz Mahal and decided that he wanted to marry her, she was the daughter of a high ranking official. Emperor Jahangir decided that they must wait five years to wed so they planned a very lavish wedding with processions of ladies riding elephants or carried on silver palanquins, even cages with wild animals were paraded for the amusement of the onlookers. Some of their clothes took the full five years to make, embroidered with gold and silver.
Shah Jahan and Mumtaz travelled extensively with his armies to battlefields. Whilst the emperor's tent was a far more luxurious affair than the rest of their entourage, she had 14 children whilst on the road but only 7 survived.
Shah Jahan was summoned from the battlefield when Mumtaz was giving birth to their 14th child, she was haemorrhaging and wasn't going to survive. On her death bed she asked Shah Jahan to make two promises, firstly to not have children with any other partner which he didn't and also to build a love palace in her memory. And so he built the Taj Mahal. She was 39 when she died and apparently still very beautiful.
Shah Jahan was so distraught he went into seclusion for 9 days following her death. When he emerged he was a changed man; stooped, visibly smaller and white haired. He banned all music and merriment for two years.
Shah Jahan brought her body to Agra which at that time was the capital of India, then set to build the Taj Mahal. As with many Muslim buildings it is perfectly symmetrical. Made from brick and marble, designed and overseen by 37 artisans and with a workforce of 20,000, the Taj was started in 1632 and finished in 1658.
He sent camel trains to Egypt, China, Tibet and southern India for the finest precious stones and jewels for the decoration. The area of the Taj is the size of three football pitches with the walls inlaid with precious stone and Koranic verse. As Muslims do not have human or animal imagery on any religious buildings, the decorations are tulips, iris, lily and lotus designs. The gardens are now a shadow of their former self, after the British remodelled them to their own taste. Originally there would have had raised walkways to be able to view the plants and trees from above. A paradise garden.
Shah Jahan was eventually imprisoned by his cruel son in the nearby Red Fort, where for the rest of his life he could look out to see the mausoleum where his beloved wife lay. He died at the age of 73 and is now laid next to his wife in the crypt of the Taj Mahal.
The Taj is still very popular with 3 million visitors each year, however the Taj is suffering. Pollution from vehicles, which now have a half mile exclusion zone, and factories, which have now also been moved away, has damaged the building. All of the tourists bring condensation to the inner walls when they breathe causing deterioration to the surfaces. Nonetheless it is still spectacular when the sun rises causing the marble to glow from purple to pink and white.
Peter, who visited us last year to talk about the orphanages which he and his wife Pat sponsor, again reminded of the work still needed to be done in many countries to get kids off the streets and into places of refuge and education. His fee for this talk will go to the charity.