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India's Durga Puja Celebrates Divine Feminine with Modern Takes on Ancient Ritual

Posted on 2018/10/21 10:35:42 ( 76 reads )


KOLKATA, INDIA, October 19, 2018 (Religion News Service): Every year, Durga Puja is celebrated across India during the seventh month of the Hindu calendar, marking the victory of female power over the buffalo-demon Mahishasura. Durga Puja festivities, which took place this week, overlap with the nine-night Navaratri, also celebrating the divine feminine, in other traditions of Hinduism. But while worship of the 10-armed Goddess is primarily a religious occasion across most of the Indian subcontinent, in the state of West Bengal it is much more than that, a high point of the year that is seen as an expression and celebration of the once-dominant Bengali culture.

Kolkata, the cultural capital of Bengal, celebrates the five main days of the festival with fervor. Preparations for the carnival start months in advance, with artists and artisans vying to create the most innovative art works from scrap, recycled products and homespun ideas. Statues of the Goddess astride a lion are placed at elaborately designed pandals, where the art inside covers serious issues -- trafficking of women, child labor at tea shops or the plastic surgery obsession among young adults or scenes straight out of Bollywood movies. The elegance of Kolkata's Durga Puja also lies in the depictions of the Goddess in her many avatars transforming the city into a massive open-air art gallery with a profusion of themes.

Good photos at "source."

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2018/10/21 10:35:29 ( 60 reads )


Man arrives at immortality by breaking beyond the limitations not only of his physical self, but of his mental and his ordinary psychic nature into the highest plane and supreme ether of the Truth: for there is the foundation of immortality and the native seat of the triple infinite.
-- Sri Aurobindo (1879-1950)

Hindu Reformers Theme for Divali Nagar 2018 in Trinidad

Posted on 2018/10/20 10:47:41 ( 230 reads )

Paras Ramoutar

PORT-OF-SPAIN, TRINIDAD/TOBAGO, October 18, 2018 (Paras Ramoutar for HPI): The works and times of several Indian Hindu reformers will form part of the 32nd annual Divali Nagar of the National Council of Indian Culture (NCIC) schedule to commence Sunday October 28 to Monday November 5 at Divali Nagar Facility, Endeavour, Chaguanas, according to Surujdeo Mangaroo, public relations officer. Raja Rammohan Roy, Debendtanath Tagore, Ishwar Chandra Vidgesagar, Daboba Pamdurang, Sriddharalu Naidu, Swami Dayananda Saraswati and Swami Vivekananda profiles and their contribution to Indian society with specific reference to Hinduism and Indian Thought will be featured. Mangaroo said that the Folk Theatre will feature local artistes on a nightly basis showcasing their talents in song, music, dance, drama and folk items as well vegetarian food in the Food Court.
A precursor to the Nagar will be the annual Divali Yagna which will commence on Wednesday 17th to 23rd, featuring India-trained Pundit Abhedanand Persad Sharma, Mangaroo said. "Divali Nagar has been able to rekindle the thoughts and wisdom and message of our ancient Hindu tradition, and the stage has now become the epicenter of Hindu religious, social, cultural activities year round. Divali Nagar has now become a global brand name as hundreds of visitors from India, Europe, North America, and the Caribbean visit to learn more about Hinduism as there are several booths giving information of the several disciplines in Hinduism," Mangaroo said.

New Spanish-Language Twitter Channel on Hinduism

Posted on 2018/10/20 10:47:28 ( 194 reads )


BAJA CALIFORNIA, MEXICO, October 20, 2018 (Twitter): A new Spanish-language Twitter channel features quotes from Hindu saints and scripture and occasional news articles featuring Hinduism in Spanish. New tweets posted four or five times a week via Twitter from Baja California, Mexico. Follow/Seguir at "source" above.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2018/10/20 10:47:14 ( 181 reads )


Oh, if you only knew yourselves! You are souls; you are Gods. If ever I feel like blaspheming, it is when I call you man.
-- Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902)

Hindu Temple in an Former Church Building Desecrated by Vandals in Sydney

Posted on 2018/10/19 10:50:00 ( 235 reads )


SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA, October 19, 2018 (Hindu Council AU): A Hindu Temple situated at Regents Park in Sydney Australia has been set on fire and all statues and icons of Indian Godheads have been smashed and left in ruin. They do not know who has done it but it has caused lot of pain and anguish to devotees celebrating the festival NavRatri or nine nights dedicated to worship of God in female form. The temple has been there for about twenty years and but for an incident of stone throwing ten years ago, the Fiji Hindu community has not had any problems until now.

When devotees came at 6pm to open the temple on Sunday evening 14th October 2018, they found smoke coming from inside their temple. Upon investigation, they found some people inside and when challenged, the miscreants jumped out of the window and vanished. The head priest of the temple Pandit Paras Ram Maharaj was in tears on seeing his Gods broken and strewn all over the floor. The Vandals had not only desecrated the God statues and icons but had also shamelessly thrown prayer material around. They had even set the altar on fire. Luckily the fire was quickly brought under control before it could do any further damage to the temple and the building.The big worry we have now, said the temple president is to restore the temple building back to its earlier glory. The temple is visited regularly by about 250 devotees who come from all over Sydney.

Mexico Gets a Taste of Indian Unity in Diversity: Bollywood, Puppets and Music Enthrall the Audience

Posted on 2018/10/19 10:48:13 ( 247 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, October 13, 2018 (Financial Express): For the first time ever, India participated as Guest of Honour at the 46th Cervantino International Festival in 2018 in Mexico City from October 10- 28. Talking to FE Online, Muktesh Pardeshi, ambassador of India to Mexico said that, "Almost 125 artists will travel from Tijuana to Yucatan, making the largest ever participation from an Asian country in the Latin American Region. This is an honor which no country has ever received before and this will help us in building our soft power footprint in the region." At the inauguration (with an 8.000 plus audience) "A passage to Bollywood" by Ashley Lobo was performed to promote Bollywood in the region. India is participating in 110 cultural events, covering almost 33 cities in Mexico.

According to Pardeshi, there is unity and diversity as the groups participating are from the south, east, west and north of India. Sponsored by ICCR, ten groups from India including dance, music, theatre and puppets, focussing on classic, folkloric and contemporary styles are participating. The general director of Promotion and Cultural Festivals and the International Cervantino Festival, Marcela Diez Martinez, said that working with India has been "a huge discovery, to find a country that has many things in common with ours, with a strong tradition and a deep rooted in their thinking and in their original peoples." In the commercial complex located in Plaza del Baratillo, in the middle of the city House of India will be set up where visitors can buy food, clothing, handicrafts and furniture.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2018/10/19 10:47:59 ( 224 reads )


The learned have prescribed penance for the murderer of a pious man, a drunkard, a thief or for one who has violated a solemn vow. But there is no pardon for the ungrateful.
-- The Panchatantra

Racism and Stereotypes in Colonial India's Instagram

Posted on 2018/10/18 11:01:49 ( 310 reads )


LONDON, U.K., September 30, 2018 (BBC): Picture postcards pieced together stories about life in British Indian cities. In the early 20th Century, picture postcards served as a kind of Instagram, giving Europeans a glimpse of the life their family and friends led in British colonial India. A recent exhibition at London's SOAS university showcased more than 300 such postcards that were sent from India to Europe between 1900 and the 1930s. This display was drawn from the private collection of Dr. Hughes and Emily Rose Stevenson. They bought postcards on websites such as eBay, and at ephemera fairs, which sell things like antique and second hand books, and manuscripts. "We don't want the postcards to be a vehicle of colonial nostalgia. It is the opposite of that," Stephen Putnam Hughes, a co-curator of the exhibition told the BBC. "We wanted to provide enough evidence from the colonial past and allow people to look at the images critically."

One set of postcards belonged to a popular series, called Masters, produced by a Chennai-based publisher in the early 1900s. It was meant as a "humorous" comment on the master-servant relationship at the heart of British rule in India, according to the note explaining the postcards. But it also played on "British anxieties" and "insecurities" about what the "servant" would do when the "master" was not around. The result: postcards depicting Indians "mocking their masters' lifestyle choices." They are shown drinking beer, smoking and reading with their feet up, all of which "were not equal opportunity activities" at the time. The postcards also reflect how Indians were often stereotyped based on ethnicity, gender, religion or caste. Some of these photos were carefully staged in studios, part of a common photographic genre known as the "native type," according to the curators. Indians performing menial jobs for Europeans were also a common feature of these postcards.

Many of the postcards on display can be viewed at "source" above.

The Largest Handwritten Family Tree in the World

Posted on 2018/10/18 11:01:36 ( 320 reads )


INDIA, October 11, 2018 (Incredible India): The Ganges River is a highly revered site by Hindus and an iconic, historical epicenter in India. As hundreds of millions of people visit the Ganges each year, there is a dedicated group of priests, better known as pandits, working quietly behind the scenes. In small offices that line the river, they keep handwritten records of everyone who has visited the holy site. These documents function as historical and genealogical archives that even record births and deaths in each visiting family. With archives dating back 20 generations, it is the largest handwritten family tree in the world.

Short and must-see video at "source" above.

Muslim Organization Rules out Entry of Women into Sunni Mosques in Kerala

Posted on 2018/10/18 11:01:23 ( 262 reads )


KERALA, INDIA, October 15, 2018 (The Hindu): [HPI note: With India's Supreme Court ordering the Sabarimal Ayappan temple to admit women of child-bearing age, it is useful to see the reaction from Kerela's Sunni community. According to the Islamic Research Foundation International, "Although the Qur'an and the Hadith, the traditions attributed to the Prophet (Pbuh), allow for women to pray in mosques, in most parts of India, Muslim women are denied this right." ]

The Samastha Kerala Jamiyyathul Ulama has warned politicians of "serious electoral consequences" if they meddle in religious issues such as entry of women into Sunni mosques. Opening a Shariat conference here on Saturday, its president Syed Mohammed Jiffri Muthukoya Thangal said politicians need not air their views on religious matters. "The recent statements on women's entry to Sunni mosques by politicians were not in good taste. They have pained and irritated us. We know who should be admitted to the mosques and who should not. Their demand cannot be implemented," he said.

Mr. Thangal said the bar on entry of women to mosques was not the sign of any discrimination but a "wise decision" taken by religious scholars considering their safety. The conference was organized by Samastha, the biggest body of Sunni Muslims in the State, in the wake of the recent Sabarimala verdict, the triple divorce ordinance and a bunch of judicial interventions related to the religious practice of the Muslims. "There is a trend to victimise Muslims for each and every issue and a propaganda against us is on. We are law-abiding citizens and we respect the Constitution. But don't treat our silence as a weakness, we will respond if there is a need. We will legally challenge any bid to question our religious beliefs," Mr. Thangal added.

Meanwhile, a coordination committee of Muslim organisations has sought the intervention of Parliament and Legislative Assemblies against recent court orders.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2018/10/18 11:01:09 ( 246 reads )


The tragedy of human history is decreasing happiness in the midst of increasing comforts.
-- Swami Chinmayananda (1916-1993)

Thousands Expected at Annual Hindu Festival

Posted on 2018/10/13 12:33:01 ( 511 reads )


EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND, October 13, 2018 (Edinburgh News): For more than two decades thousands of people have gathered to enjoy the medley of Indian and Scottish culture in the free event organized by the Scottish India Arts Forum (SIAF). The charity, which has been actively promoting Indian arts and culture in Scotland since 1994, returns on Sunday, October 21 with a dramatic re-enactment of the legendary Hindu God Rama's tussle between good and evil at its heart. The celebrations will also include flaming 25-foot effigies of demons built by volunteer prisoners from Saughton Prison, set alight as part of the fireworks display. Revelers will be treated to a taste of India with food stalls and a showcase of performances of more than 100 amateur and professional artists.

Dusherra, one of the largest festivals in India commemorates a 10-day war between the Gods and demons thousands of years ago. It is celebrated with gusto by communities across the country with music, dance, food and a symbolic burning of effigies. President of SIAF Rajnish Singh said: "We at SIAF are extremely proud of Dusherra celebration over the years in a format where it is open to all with free entry despite all the challenges. "We are very grateful for the continued support from our funders for this year as well. It is one of the most popular Indian events in the city and we highly appreciate the support of local Indian and Scottish community who participate in the celebration in big numbers."

The Temple that Changed an Indian Cricket Team's Fortune

Posted on 2018/10/13 12:32:47 ( 509 reads )


HYDERABAD, INDIA, October 13, 2018 (The Hans India): In any sphere of life, it's common for people to seek divine intervention when the chips are down, and sport is no different. However, a temple inside an international cricket stadium premises? That's the sight one is greeted with on entering the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Uppal, which is hosting on the ongoing second Test between India and England.

On normal days, it might escape the attention but on a match day -- like the ongoing one -- it is a vibrant sight. Asked about the story behind the temple, its priest Hanumanth Sharma claimed, "This temple was built (in 2011) because neither the Indian team nor the now defunct IPL franchise Deccan Chargers were winning their matches at this ground. "It was proving to be an inauspicious ground for the home teams. Then it was found out that there was Vaastu Dosham (problem in architecture as per ancient Hindu architectural system)," he said. "Lord Ganesha is the God of Vaastu Shastra. You can check the records and after 2011, the Indian team never lost here," Hanumanth said.

Americans Express Increasingly "Warm Feelings" Toward Religious Groups

Posted on 2018/10/13 12:32:34 ( 458 reads )


WASHINGTON, D.C., February 15, 2017 (Pew Forum): On the heels of a contentious election year in which partisan politics increasingly divided Americans, a new Pew Research Center survey finds that when it comes to religion, Americans generally express more positive feelings toward various religious groups today than they did just a few years ago. Asked to rate a variety of groups on a "feeling thermometer" ranging from 0 to 100, U.S. adults give nearly all groups warmer ratings than they did in a June 2014 Pew Research Center survey. Evangelical Christians, rated relatively warmly at 61 degrees, are the only group for which the mean rating did not change since the question was last asked in 2014. Americans' feelings toward Mormons and Hindus have shifted from relatively neutral places on the thermometer to somewhat warmer ratings of 54 and 58, respectively.

The increase in mean ratings is broad based. Warmer feelings are expressed by people in all the major religious groups analyzed, as well as by both Democrats and Republicans, men and women, and younger and older adults. However, the mean ratings given to particular religious groups still vary widely depending on who is being asked. For example, young adults - those ages 18 to 29 - express warmer feelings toward Muslims than older Americans do. Moreover, young adults rate all of the groups in the study within a relatively tight range, from 54 degrees for Mormons to 66 for Buddhists. Across the board, Americans express warmer feelings toward religious groups when they are personally familiar with someone in the group, consistent with findings from the June 2014 survey. Fewer than half of Americans say they personally know a Mormon (43%) or a Muslim (45%). Smaller shares say they know someone who is Buddhist (23%) or Hindu (22%).

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