This episode of the series is a collection of historical narratives from the history of 20th May which includes Vasco da Gama’s audacious voyage to India to Sushmita Sen’s groundbreaking achievement in the year 1994.
Ah!! It’s Saturday finally. I woke up with grand ambitions of being a productive adult. Armed with my to-do list and a cup of ambition (which suspiciously resembled tea), I marched towards my mountain of laundry. But, as fate would have it, my socks had formed a secret society overnight and staged a rebellion against being matched. So I decided to let it go and share the history of 20th May with my readers. My first story – The voyage which changed history.
Vasco da Gama’s Adventurous Voyage
The history of 20th May takes us to the year 1498. On this fateful day, history witnessed the remarkable achievement of Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama as he reached the port of Calicut (now Kozhikode) in India. This groundbreaking voyage marked the culmination of years of daring exploration and opened up a new era of trade and cultural exchange between Europe and the distant lands of the East. Today, we delve into this captivating story, recounting Vasco da Gama’s expedition, highlighting the audacity, resilience, and a dash of serendipity that defined this remarkable achievement.
Setting Sail into the Unknown:
In an era dominated by maritime discoveries, Vasco da Gama embarked on an audacious mission to find a sea route to India, which until then had only been accessible through perilous overland journeys. Equipped with a fleet of four ships, the São Gabriel, São Rafael, Berrio, and a storage vessel, the expedition set sail from Lisbon, Portugal, in July 1497. The crew included experienced sailors, navigators, and even a few comedians to lighten the mood during the long voyage.
Navigational Challenges and Comic Relief:
As the fleet ventured into uncharted waters, the crew faced numerous challenges, including treacherous storms, navigational uncertainties, and the ever-present threat of scurvy. To maintain morale and provide some comic relief, Vasco da Gama enlisted the help of jesters and entertainers, who performed lively acts to keep the crew’s spirits high. Their humorous antics and laughter echoed through the ships, reminding everyone to find joy even in the face of adversity.
Navigating the Cape of Good Hope:
One of the most significant hurdles of the journey was navigating the Cape of Good Hope, the southernmost point of Africa. Vasco da Gama and his crew braved the fierce currents, unpredictable weather, and the legends of sea monsters that whispered in their ears. To lighten the mood, Vasco da Gama would often tease his crew, pretending to spot imaginary creatures lurking beneath the waves. The laughter that ensued served as a balm to soothe their anxieties, reminding them of the power of humor in difficult times.
Serendipity at Play:
As fate would have it, after months of perseverance, Vasco da Gama’s fleet accidentally encountered a local pilot named Kanha in Malindi (present-day Kenya) who had previously interacted with Portuguese explorers. Kanha’s knowledge of the winds and currents proved invaluable, guiding the fleet to navigate through the Indian Ocean with greater precision. In the spirit of humor, Vasco da Gama nicknamed Kanha “Captain Serendipity,” highlighting the fortuitous encounter that propelled them closer to their destination.
Landfall in Calicut and New Horizons:
Finally, on 20 May 1498, the long-awaited moment arrived. Vasco da Gama and his crew sighted the shores of Calicut, their destination. The arduous journey had paid off, as they had successfully discovered the elusive sea route to India. Despite the language barrier, Vasco da Gama’s sense of humor transcended boundaries, easing initial tensions and paving the way for fruitful interactions with local traders.
Legacy and Impact:
Vasco da Gama’s groundbreaking voyage forever altered the course of history, initiating an era of European dominance in maritime trade with India and the Far East. The newfound sea route facilitated the exchange of goods, ideas, and cultures, shaping the course of globalization.
With this, I come to my second story of Jeans.
The Blue Jeans
History of 20th May takes us to the year 1873 when San Francisco business Levi Strauss and tailor Jacob Davis were awarded to make the world’s first jeans. A detailed article was published in East India story titled নীল বসনে চিরবসন্ত (Neel boshone chiroboshonto) which you can read.
I am not describing the event in detail, you can read the same in the previously published article. Now let me take you to the year 1994 with my third story from the history of 20th May.
The beauty with a brain
History of 20th May 1994:
“What for you is the essence of being a woman?” They asked
She replied saying, “Just being a woman is a gift of God that all of us must appreciate. The origin of a child is a mother, who is a woman. She shows a man what caring, sharing, and loving are all about. That’s the essence of being a woman.”
This response proved satisfactory to the discerning panel, leading them to reach their final verdict. Subsequently, India gracefully entered the realm of ‘Miss Universe’ when Sushmita Sen ascended as the 43rd Miss Universe at the resplendent Plenary Hall of the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay, Philippines. The illustrious crown was bestowed upon her by the esteemed Dayanara Torres of Puerto Rico.
Sushmita Sen’s victory marked a significant milestone for India, as she became the first Indian woman to win the coveted title of Miss Universe. Her poise, grace, and confidence were evident throughout the competition, setting her apart from the other contestants.
Born on November 19, 1975, in Hyderabad, India, Sushmita Sen had already established herself as a model and an aspiring actress before her remarkable win. Her participation in the Miss Universe pageant showcased her beauty, intelligence, and charisma, capturing the attention of the international community.
Sushmita Sen’s triumph not only brought pride to India but also inspired countless young women across India and the world. Her victory demonstrated that beauty is not limited to external appearances but also encompasses inner strength, determination, and a commitment to making a positive impact on society.
In the years following her Miss Universe win, Sushmita Sen ventured into the world of acting and became a prominent figure in the Indian film industry. She starred in numerous successful films, earning accolades for her performances and further cementing her status as a role model for aspiring actresses.
Sushmita Sen’s victory on May 20, 1994, remains a momentous occasion in the history of beauty pageants, symbolizing the triumph of beauty, grace, and substance. Her inspiring journey continues to inspire young women to pursue their dreams and embrace their unique qualities, showcasing the power of perseverance and self-belief.
That’s all for today. Have a great weekend.
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A devoted foodie with keen interest in wild life, music, cinema and travel Somashis has evolved over time . Being an enthusiastic reader he has recently started making occasional contribution to write-ups.