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Corona Demons Tower Over India's Durga Puja Festival

Posted on 2020/10/25 11:19:58 ( 137 reads )


KOLKATA, INDIA, October 22, 2020 (The Guardian): Every autumn the streets of Kolkata come alive with the sounds of Durga Puja. The Hindu festival, which celebrates the triumph of good over evil, is marked in West Bengal and neighboring states as a time for dancing, drumming, eating and worship. Yet the festival's most defining feature is the pandal -- towering displays of religious sculptures depicting the story of Durga Puja: the moment that the Hindu Goddess Durga triumphed over the demon Mahishasura. Pandals are known for their creativity, and this year, as the festival began on Thursday under the restrictions of Covid-19, it was no different. But now, in several pandals, instead of the usual sculptures of the Mahishasura demon, a new malevolent being has been put in its place: the coronavirus demon, better known as the Coronasura.

Babu Pal, the secretary of the artisans association of Kumartuli, the street in Kolkata where most Durga Puja icons are made, spoke of the inspiration behind the Coronasura they had made for a customer. "Corona is the demon that everybody recognizes, it is the demon that everybody is fighting, and we are all looking for the strength to defeat it," said Pal of the sculpture. "Also we had no Covid cases in our artisans area, and we wanted to make this icon to thank the Goddess for protecting us from the demon of corona here."

The pandemic has altered this year's Durga Puja beyond recognition. West Bengal, a state still battling rising cases of coronavirus, introduced a series of strict measures to prevent millions coming out into the streets and causing a feared surge in cases. The 4,000-plus pandals across the state, the biggest and most popular of which usually draw in millions of visitors, have been banned from allowing anyone but organizers and performers to enter.

Up to 50 People Allowed at Two Temples for Navarathri

Posted on 2020/10/25 11:19:45 ( 82 reads )


KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, October 24, 2020 (The Star): Two temples in Kuala Lumpur have been allowed to have up to 50 people in their premises at a time for Navarathri prayers. The temples are Sri Maha Mariamman Temple Dhevasthanam in Jalan Tun HS Lee and Court Hill Sri Ganesar Temple in Jalan Pudu Lama. In a letter dated Oct 21, Federal Territories Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa, who is also the chairman of Federal Territories Crisis Management Centre and National Security Council (MKN), gave the approval upon request made by the temples' management -- Sri Maha Mariamman Temple Dhevasthanam. Navarathri, which means nine nights, is an annual festival celebrated by Hindus in honor of nine manifestations of Goddess Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati. This year, it started on Oct 17 and will end on Oct 27.

However, Sri Maha Mariamman Temple Dhevasthanam chairman Tan Sri R. Nadarajah said the special Navarathri prayers would only be conducted in Sri Maha Mariamman Temple Dhevasthanam. "We are strictly following the standard operating procedures (SOP). "We started allowing 50 people from Thursday. We have people stationed at the entrance to control the visitor count as well as to check the body temperature of every visitor before they are allowed to enter the premises," he said, adding that the National Unity Ministry staff had been checking on the temples' SOP compliance daily. Malaysian Hindu Sangam president Datuk RS Mohan Shan said he had advised the management of all temples to follow the earlier MKN's SOP of only six people in the temple premises at a time, which is still being followed by the Selangor government.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2020/10/25 11:19:32 ( 76 reads )


Devotion must not be like the flood of the rainy season in which all get washed away. Devotion should be like the river that retains water even in the hottest season.
-- Saint Kabir (1440-1518)

Facing ISIS, Last Embattled Sikhs, Hindus Leave Afghanistan

Posted on 2020/10/22 13:19:19 ( 279 reads )


KABUL, AFGHANISTAN, September 26, 2020 (AP News): Afghanistan's dwindling community of Sikhs and Hindus is shrinking to its lowest levels. With growing threats from the local Islamic State affiliate, many are choosing to leave the country of their birth to escape the insecurity and a once-thriving community of as many as 250,000 members now counts fewer than 700. The community's numbers have been declining for years because of deep-rooted discrimination in the majority Muslim country. But, without what they say is adequate protection from the government, the attacks by the Islamic State group may complete the exodus. "We are no longer able to stay here," said a member of the tiny community, who asked to be identified only by his last name, Hamdard. Hamdard said seven relatives of his, including his sister, nephews, and son-in-law were killed by Islamic State gunmen in an attack on the community's temple in March, which killed 25 Sikhs.

Although Sikhism and Hinduism are two distinct religions with their own holy books and temples, in Afghanistan the communities are interwoven, having been driven into a kinship by their tiny size, and they both gather under one roof of a single temple to worship, each following their own faith. Hamdard said that fleeing his homeland is as difficult as leaving a mother behind. Still, he joined a group of Sikhs and Hindus who left Afghanistan last month for India, from where they will eventually move on to a third country. The community's flight is accelerating, with large numbers of Sikhs and Hindus continuing a recent trend of seeking asylum in India, which has a Hindu majority and a large Sikh population. A group of Afghan Sikhs and Hindus in Canada and European countries has volunteered to sponsor the exodus of those remaining in Kabul who cannot afford air tickets and temporary accommodation in a transit country.

More at "source."

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2020/10/22 13:19:06 ( 116 reads )


Look at the man who walks on a tight rope. He is performing various tricks, but his mind is only on the rope. So also, we may be doing various things, but our minds must be on God." --Sri Sri Sri Sivaratnapuri Tiruchi Mahaswamigal ("Trichyswami") founder of Kailasa Ashram, Bangalore

World Religions, UN Unite for Book on Faith and Action for the Earth

Posted on 2020/10/21 6:57:54 ( 233 reads )


NEW YORK, NEW YORK, October 9, 2020 (ncronline.org, by Brian Roewe):Faith for Earth: A Call for Action was released Thursday by the U.N. Environment Programme and the Parliament of the World's Religions during the Faith for Nature Global Conference, held in Skalhol, Iceland. The 57-page book, available online and in print, describes how many religions view the natural world and their duty to safeguard it. Those faith-based perspectives are paired with scientific explanations of the multitude of crises threatening the planet's oceans, atmosphere, ecosystems and people.

The book's faith section was authored by Kusumita P. Pedersen, professor emerita of religious studies at St. Francis College, in Brooklyn Heights, New York. It presents teachings on creation and the environment from a dozen faiths, including Christianity, Buddhism, Baha'i, Sikhism, Daoism and Islam, as well as a number of Indigenous traditions.

The prayers, hymns and texts featured in Faith for Earth show how different belief systems have often used similar language in describing the world.

"O Mother Earth! You are the world for us and we are your children," reads the Hindu hymn "In Praise of Mother Earth."

"Air is the guru; Water the father; and Earth the great mother. Day and night are two male and female nurses in whose lap the entire world plays," reads a passage in the Guru Granth Sahib, the central Sikh scripture.

At the end of the faith section, the book summarizes eight points of agreement across religions regarding humans' relationship to the environment. Among them: The natural world itself has value beyond serving human needs, and non-human creatures have moral significance; The need for gratitude for the natural world, upon which human survival relies; There are both legitimate and illegitimate uses of nature, with greed and destruction condemned and restraint and protection commended.

Download the book: https://www.unenvironment.org/resource ... n/faith-earth-call-action

UK Researcher Proposes New Theory of Consciousness

Posted on 2020/10/21 6:57:41 ( 166 reads )


UNITED KINGDOM, October 20, 2020 (Medical Xpress): Electromagnetic energy in the brain enables brain matter to create our consciousness and our ability to be aware and think, according to a new theory developed by Professor Johnjoe McFadden from the University of Surrey. Publishing his theory in the journal Neuroscience of Consciousness, Professor McFadden posits that consciousness is in fact the brain's energy field. This theory could pave the way toward the development of conscious AI, with robots that are aware and have the ability to think becoming a reality.

Early theories on what our consciousness is and how it has been created tended toward the supernatural, suggesting that humans and probably other animals possess an immaterial soul that confers consciousness, thought and free will--capabilities that inanimate objects lack. Most scientists today have discarded this view, known as dualism, to embrace a monistic view of a consciousness generated by the brain itself and its network of billions of nerves. By contrast, McFadden proposes a scientific form of dualism based on the difference between matter and energy, rather than matter and soul.

More on this theory at "source" above.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2020/10/21 6:57:27 ( 159 reads )


What extracts from the Vedas I have read fall on me like the light of a higher and purer luminary, which describes a loftier course through purer stratum. It rises on me like the full moon after the stars have come out, wading through some far stratum in the sky.
-- Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), American author, poet and philosopher

Posted on 2020/10/20 12:16:29 ( 0 reads )

Trinidad Hindus 0bserve Nau Raatri With Reverence

Posted on 2020/10/20 12:16:16 ( 245 reads )


PORT-OF-SPAIN, TRINIDAD/TOBAGO, October 20, 2020 (HPI by Paras Ramoutar): Amid the dreaded Covid-19 Pandemic, Hindus in Trinidad and Tobago, as indeed, the world over, are observing the Hindu religious of observance of Navaratri, Saturday Oct 17 to October 24. indoors or in their homes. Navaratri holds deep spiritual and cultural significance to Hindus. Hindus always pray for their fellowmen regardless of their ethnic or cultural or economic status. We pray and seek the blessings and guidance of Mother Durga, Mother Lakshmi and Mother Saraswati to bestow blessings that would bring peace, progress, health, wisdom and prosperity to all of us.

Navaratri has been, and continues to be one of the most regarded and followed in our country. Hindus in Trinidad and Tobago always remember and focus on our forefathers who brought with them religious traditions like the Gita, the Ramayana, the Upanishads, the Durga Chaleesa and the Hanuman Chalessa, among several other religious texts which continue to provide spiritual guidance and solace to a tortured and weak humanity. As we observe these nine days of benediction to Mother Durga, Mother Lakshmi and Mother Saraswati, let us always be minded of our presence to Mother Earth, and that is to do good, speak good and to pray for all mankind. We pray that Mother Durga, Mother Lakshmi and Mother Saraswati continue to bless us all, and our nation and our leaders be guided to lead our land from knowledge to wisdom, from untruth to truth, and from darkness to light.

Pundit Ramesh Tiwari, spiritual leader of the Edinburgh Hindu Temple, pointed out that, "Covid-19, or not, Hindus must observe Navaratri with the usual vigor, enthusiasm and spirituality". "Let us use our prayers and devotion to fight Covid-19 and to ensure that it withers away", he said. According to Pundit Gajindra Kumar of the Lakshmi Narayan Temple, Navaratri remains one of the foremost observances in Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean and the entire Indian diaspora which spread over to over 60 countries with a stock of over 33 million people. For the past nine days, there were hundreds of yagnas, special pujas at public places and at homes, as devout Hindus have been maintaining strict discipline against using meats, alcoholic beverages and other worldly activities.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2020/10/20 12:16:02 ( 172 reads )


Parents must teach children to appreciate those who are different, those who believe differently; teach them the openness that they need to live in a pluralistic world where others have their unique ways, their life and culture; teach them the value of human diversity and the narrow-mindedness of a provincial outlook; give them the tools to live in a world of differences without feeling threatened, without forcing their ways or their will on others; teach them that it never helps to hurt another of our brothers or sisters.
-- Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami (1927-2001), founder of Hinduism Today

Hindus Establish New Temple In Ireland

Posted on 2020/10/19 11:10:42 ( 228 reads )


IRELAND, October 18, 2020 (Religion Watch): Ireland does not look like the country that one would spontaneously associate with Hinduism. But the number of Hindus had grown to more than 14,000 by the time of the 2016 census, and representatives of the Hindu community estimate that the number is now somewhere between 20,000 and 25,000 due to immigration. On August 22, what is described by its promoters as "Ireland's first official Hindu Temple" opened its doors after two decades of efforts, despite adverse circumstances created by Covid-19 (limited number of visitors allowed). Nevertheless, the new temple expects thousands of Hindus to visit until the end of the year (Irish Times, August 22, 2020). Hosting a wide range of Deities, the temple is placed under the direction of the Vedic Hindu Cultural Centre Ireland (VHCCI), which is the largest Hindu organization in the country. There have actually already been smaller places of worship in the country, linked to specific Hindu traditions, such as a Vinayaka temple (since 2003) and an ISKCON temple (as early as 1978).

More at "source."

Grand Hindu Temple Hall Inaugurated in Antananarivo, Madagascar; Hindu Temple to Come Soon

Posted on 2020/10/19 11:10:29 ( 187 reads )


ANTANANARIVO, MADAGASCAR, October 18, 2020 (New Kerala): On the occasion of Navratri 2020, a grand Hindu temple hall was inaugurated in Antananarivo, capital of Madagascar, a very large island located in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa with a population of over 26 million. There are over 20,000 people of Indian origin, mostly from Gujarat who are settled in Madagascar. A grand Hindu temple is also under construction, which is likely to be completed within 3-4 months. It will be the first Hindu temple in Antananarivo, Madagascar when completed.

Indians arrived in Madagascar in the late 18th century, mostly from Gujarat in small boats to engage in Indian Ocean trade and since then have greatly contributed to the development of trade and commerce in Madagascar and between India and Madagascar. Gujarati diaspora in Madagascar is spread all across the country. The new temple hall inaugurated yesterday will help them to get together more often and strengthen the spirit of the community.

Video of garbha dance here: https://twitter.com/i/status/1317539632083587082

Manthiram Avadhu Neeru Thevaram

Posted on 2020/10/19 11:10:16 ( 163 reads )


U.S., January 28, 2020 (YouTube): Vibhuti - or sacred ash - is a significant element of the spiritual ethos of Southern India. In a profound expression of his reverence for vibhuti, Thiru Gnana Sambandar extols its qualities in glorious ways. He says that those who are touched by this sacred ash are truly blessed. At "source" above, students of Isha Samskriti perform a beautiful rendition of the Thevaram song "Manthiram Avadhu Neeru" in Tamil with the English translation included.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2020/10/19 11:10:02 ( 140 reads )


Hindu society has been the meeting point as well as the melting pot of as many spiritual visions as the human psyche is capable of springing up spontaneously. It has been a willing and welcoming platform for as many seers, sages, saints and mystics as have responded to the deeper stirrings in the human soul. It has been a repository of as many metaphysical points of view as human reason can render in human language.
-- Sita Ram Goel (1921-2003), Hindu renaissance thinker and writer, founder of Voice of India

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