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Four Million Mark Makar Sankranti with a Holy Dip in Gangasagar

Posted on 2020/1/16 12:43:03 ( 143 reads )


KOLKATA, INDIA, January 16, 2020 (Indian Express): More than 4 million pilgrims from all across the country and abroad took the holy dip in Gangasagar on the occasion of Makar Sankranti on Wednesday. Makar Sankranti marks the end of the month with the winter solstice and the start of longer days. A district official of South 24 Parganas said, "This year, we were expecting 4 million pilgrims during Makar Sankranti. However, the number crossed the 4 million mark. Everything took place in a very peaceful manner." Since the Kumbh Mela is not scheduled this year, the district administration had a presumption that there would be a large inflow of pilgrims at Gangasagar mela this year. That is why there was unprecedented security arrangements that included more than 5,000 police personnel, 250 drones, over 1,000 CCTV cameras, 100,000 QR code-based wrist bands and a mega control room in the centre of the island coordinating the entire network.

Located about 93 miles from Kolkata in the South 24 Parganas district, Sagar Island hosts Gangasagar mela every year during Makar Sankranti. This year, the mela started from January 7 and will continue till January 17. The most auspicious period for the holy dip or shahi snan started at 12.24 am on Wednesday. Thousands of people also took holy dips at Babughat, Doi ghat, Baje Kadamtala Ghat, Saradamani Ghat, Ratanbabur Ghat, Bagbazar Ghat and Kumartuli Ghat, all on the banks of the Hooghly river in Kolkata, officials said. The picture was similar on the other bank of the river in Howrah where many took dips at Telkal Ghat, Shibpur Ghat and Ramkrishnapur Ghat, they said.

Makar Sankranti 2020: Its Significance, Peculiarities and Region-Wise Celebrations

Posted on 2020/1/16 12:42:50 ( 131 reads )


INDIA, January 15, 2020 (Money Control, by J. Biswas): Makar Sankranti, essentially a harvest festival, is celebrated across India under different names. The ancient Hindu festival is both religious and seasonal in nature, as it marks the beginning of the northward journey of the Sun. Makar Sankranti directly translates to the beginning of the Sun's journey towards the North, ending the winter gloom and the consequent dry spell that sees little harvest. The Sun's journey northward ushers longer days and conducive weather conditions that ensure a good crop. Given that India was primarily an agricultural economy, it should not come as a surprise that the entire country celebrates this day.

Several aspects of the festival make it stand out from other Indian festivals, with some of the observances being specific to certain regions. However, what makes Makar Sankranti most unique is that unlike most Indian festivals, this follows a solar calendar and not the lunar calendar. Sankranti is usually observed on January 14, although sometimes it falls on January 15. The day is marked by the exchange of sweets, bathing in Ganga, and kite flying. Ritualistic dips in the holy water, accompanied by offering prayers to Surya --the Sun God -- is practiced across the country as it is believed to absolve one of his/ her sins. North Indian Hindus and Sikhs celebrate Makar Sankranti as Maghi and indulge in merrymaking, ritualistic bathing, and lighting of lamps. In West Bengal, the day is observed as Poush Shongkranti and preparing sweetmeats using jaggery, rice flour, and coconut is a must. In Gujarat, on the other hand, kite flying continues to be the primary attraction, while in Tamil Nadu the celebrations go on for four days.

More at "source".

What's Cooking In The World's Largest Kitchen On Makar Sankranti Day? A Sneak Peek Into The Jagannath Temple Kitchen

Posted on 2020/1/16 12:30:22 ( 156 reads )


INDIA, January 15, 2020 (Outlook India): The Jagannath temple in Puri is one of the chardhams--the four most revered pilgrim spots--of Hindus. Every day, at all hours, the majestic 12th century temple by the Bay of Bengal in Odisha is a bustling sea of humanity--devotees offering prayers, fulfilling vows, sitting in silent communion or waiting patiently in queues snaking around the 400,000 sq ft temple courtyard--for a darshan of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra, the reigning Deities. For die-hard devotees, however, there is a special area of the temple that draws the eye: the temple kitchen. Considered to be the largest kitchen in the world, a variety of at least 56 meals, or "bhoga" in Odia, are cooked in the kitchen every day for the Deities, over a wood-fire and in earthen pots. The sacred "mahaprashad" then feeds a staggering 100,000 people a day.

On January 15, as the harvest festival of Makar Sankranti, celebrating the end of winter solstice, unfolds, the entire temple is devoted to preparing a special kind of bhoga, known as the "Makara Chaula," or Makara rice. Prepared from harvested rice, Makara Chaula is comprised of banana, jaggery, sesame, milk, ghee, coconut, freshly-made butter, fruits and dry fruits. A delight for its sweet taste, the dish is high in nutritive value. For instance, jaggery is loaded with properties that help in digestion. Rich with anti-oxidants and minerals, such as zinc and selenium, jaggery prevents early aging. Sesame forms blood cells and helps in burning excess fat in our body. Herbs, such as cardamom and black pepper, are potent antioxidants, bringing the sweet dish to life. Coconut adds a distinct flavor to the delicacy. It's also heart-friendly and controls blood sugar levels in our body.

More at "source".

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2020/1/16 12:30:09 ( 193 reads )


Find the One everywhere and in everything and there will be an end to all pain and suffering.
-- Sri Anandamayi Ma (1896-1982), Bengali mystic and saint

Hindu Center Burns Down in Australian Bush Fires

Posted on 2020/1/15 10:29:11 ( 268 reads )


SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA, January 10, 2020 (Hindu Council Australia): Sydney has a large Hindu population and there are about 30 Hindu temples, spiritual centers and senior citizen service centers to cater for their religious, spiritual and social needs. Sri Om community in Sydney had purchased land and installed their Deities with regular worship by the community. Recent bush fires in Australia have burned down about 2,000 homes and millions of hectares of bush land. A small Hindu temple is one of these buildings that has been completely burned down. The small town of Clarence where this temple is situated has been mostly destroyed.

On Saturday, 21st December 2019, the Sri Om community were provided the tragic news that one of their activity centers, 184 Kerma Crescent, Clarence (near Lithgow), the main premise had been completely destroyed in the Mt. Gospers monster fire that has currently burned through over 500,000 Hectares of land. Fortunately, none of the members or the public were in the vicinity of the fires during the course of the tragic events. The premise has actively been used by Sri Om Foundation and its sister organization, Sri Om Adi Sakthi Ashram, over the last 3 years. Future plans for the center had been also discussed with various community groups, local, state and federal government to better equip the premise with facilities for our people. This news is obviously a big set back to the organization, however, we believe we can rebuild with the help from our community.

For information on how to help see "source" above.

Tamil Community Celebrates Pongal Today

Posted on 2020/1/15 10:28:59 ( 0 reads )


KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, January 15, 2015 (Daily Express): The Tamil community is looking forward to ushering in a new dawn as it celebrates the Pongal harvest festival today (Wednesday). Pongal falls in the 10th month of the Tamil calendar called Thai and is a major celebration, especially for the farming community. Thai piranthal vazhi pirakkum is a popular Tamil adage which simply means that the advent of the month of Thai brings new opportunities. On this day, the Tamil community will prepare the Pongal (sweet rice) and offer thanksgiving prayers to Surya Bhagavan (the Sun God), the earth and the cow.

According to the Malaysia Hindu Sangam president, Datuk R.S. Mohan Shan, the festival starts on Jan 14 with Bhogi, a ceremonial bonfire ritual during which the people discard old and derelict household items and clean the house to usher in a transformation and the beginning of a new cycle. "On Pongal day, better known as Thai Pongal, rice is cooked with milk and brown sugar in a new pot at sunrise or an auspicious time, until the milk boils over, and special prayers are performed for the Sun God," he said. Mohan explained that people let out cheers of Pongalo Pongal when the rice boils and overflows from the pot, signifying abundance and prosperity. "The day after Thai Pongal is Mattu Pongal which is dedicated to cows. On this day, cows are cleaned, decorated and garlanded," said Mohan. On the third day of the Pongal celebration, known as Kanni Pongal, young ladies pray for a good life and a great husband.

What is Wrong with Calling India a Hindu Country?

Posted on 2020/1/15 10:28:46 ( 306 reads )


INDIA, December 28, 2017 (IntelliBriefs, by Maria Wirth): Though I have lived in India for a long time, there are still issues here that I find hard to understand. For example, why do so many educated Indians become agitated when India is referred to as a Hindu country? The majority of Indians are Hindus. India is special because of its ancient Hindu tradition. Westerners are drawn to India because of Hinduism. Why then is there this resistance by many Indians to acknowledge the Hindu roots of their country? Why do some people even give the impression that an India which valued those roots would be dangerous? Don't they know better?

This attitude is strange for two reasons. First, those educated Indians seem to have a problem only with "Hindu" India, but not with "Muslim" or "Christian" countries. Germany, for example, is a secular country, and only 59 percent of the population are registered with the two big Christian churches (Protestant and Catholic). Nevertheless, the country is bracketed under "Christian countries" and no one objects. The second reason why I can't understand the resistance to associate India with Hinduism is that Hinduism is in a different category from the Abrahamic religions. Its history, compared to Christianity and Islam, was undoubtedly the least violent as it spread in ancient times by convincing arguments and not by force. It is not a belief system that demands blind acceptance of dogmas and the suspension of one's intelligence. On the contrary, Hinduism encourages using one's intelligence to the hilt. It is an enquiry into truth based on a refined character and intellect.

More of this insightful article at "source".

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2020/1/15 10:28:33 ( 236 reads )


Many people are afraid of silence. They have to be doing something all the time. Many people also are afraid of being alone. But actually no one ever is alone. He's always with his great divine Self. Every person has a great, divine Self within him, an absolutely perfect, shining, sublime being of light. The voice of this being is a loud silence. The voice of your soul is a loud silence. Many people have said that the voice of God is a deep, profound silence.
-- Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami (1927-2001), founder of Hinduism Today

Watch Rajiv Malhotra's Latest Video: Decolonizing Delhi University

Posted on 2020/1/1 12:48:25 ( 850 reads )

DELHI, INDIA, December 31, 2019: Summary by Rajiv Malhotra for his recent video: "Most discussions on decolonization focus on the West. This talk explains how the colonial mindset and resulting loss of character has permeated many organs and layers of our nation, Bharat. So the decolonization responsibility is ours. The job at hand is very demanding, and each individual must shape up personally before being able to make a difference collectively."

Click "source" above to view this recommended talk.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2020/1/1 12:48:12 ( 815 reads )


For seven lives in seven bodies the grateful will remember friends who relieved their anguish and affliction.
-- Saint Tiruvalluvar's Tirukkural, verse 107

New South Africa BAPS Temple Seeking Community Support

Posted on 2019/12/30 11:26:51 ( 775 reads )


JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA, December 30, 2019 (Randburg Sun): North Riding residents were informed how the Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) temple will be built and addressed their concerns at a public meeting held on 28 November. Architect Anil Parshotom, who has been involved in building religious structures and community centers for over 30 years, said that the project will be built in the same successful manner as those built in other communities. He said, "With the migration of Hindu communities from historically segregated areas to areas in the north, there is a dire need for facilities like this.

"When we looked at the placement of the structure, we tried to place it as far away as possible from the edges of the residential neighborhood. The Hindu religion is not a loud and noisy religion, they believe in meditation and yoga, and prayers and chanting is a sombre and respectful occasion." Parshotom said that the state-of-the-art temple's design will be centered on functional spaces to become a true religious sanctuary, integrating into the northern suburbs, but to become a true community center. Parshotom acknowledged that in a meeting with the head of the BAPS organization, that better consultation with the surrounding community could have taken place, and for that, he apologized. "There was a lot of excitement to get the project started, and in that temporary structures were erected, which did not allow for better management of sound, and for that, we apologize," he concluded.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2019/12/30 11:26:38 ( 991 reads )


Life is a pilgrimage. The wise man does not rest by the roadside inns. He marches direct to the illimitable domain of eternal bliss, his ultimate destination.
-- Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh (1887-1963), founder of Divine Life Society

Malaysia's Hindu Temples Close During Solar Eclipse

Posted on 2019/12/27 10:30:04 ( 829 reads )


KUALA LUMPUR, December 26, 2019 (edgeprop.my): In keeping with tradition, Hindu temples in the country remained closed during the hours of the annular solar eclipse yesterday. "In Malaysia, the time of the eclipse was from 11.15am to 3.11pm. Thus, the noon prayers in the temples were put on hold," said Malaysia Hindhudhrama Maamandram president Sri Radhakrishan Alagamalai. After the eclipse, the temples conducted a cleaning ritual and opened for devotees, he told Bernama.

The sanctum sanctorum of the temples, where the Deity is placed, is kept locked in the belief that any negative energy of the eclipse does not affect the positive energy within, he said. Meanwhile, Sri Subramaniar Swamy Temple secretary Sethu Pathy Cumarasamy said all rituals at the Batu Caves temple were halted from 11am to 4pm. During the annular solar eclipse as witnessed yesterday, the moon fully covers the sun's centre and the visible outer edge appears like a ring of fire. It occurred at 1.21pm.

Swami Shivapremananda Attains Mahasamadhi

Posted on 2019/12/27 10:29:45 ( 825 reads )


UNITED KINGDOM, October 17, 2019 (The Guardian, by Jane Sill): My friend and teacher Swami Shivapremananda, who has died aged 94, was a monk and yogi who spread the teachings of Sivananda yoga throughout the world. A regular visitor to the British Wheel of Yoga's annual congress, he led many retreats and yoga seminars in the UK and also in mainland Europe. He was also the author of a number of books in Spanish and English, including Yoga for Stress Relief (1997), and a regular contributor to Yoga & Health magazine, of which I was the editor from 1990 to 2013.

In 1945, at the age of 19, he travelled to Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, where he met Swami Sivananda, the founder of the Divine Life Society. He was to stay there for more than 16 years, changing his name to Shivapremananda when he was ordained and studying the major branches of yoga, comparative religions and philosophy while serving as Swami Sivananda's personal secretary.

From 1949 he taught at the Yoga-Vedanta Forest Academy, based at the ashram in Rishikesh, and was editor of the Divine Life and Wisdom Light monthly magazines. He also took part in social work under the auspices of the Sivananda Eye Relief camps and visited monasteries in the Himalayas and Tibet.

In 1961 he became a director, first of the Sivananda Yoga-Vedanta Centre in Milwaukee and then, from 1964 to 1970, of a similar centre in New York. After moving to South America he founded Sivananda Yoga-Vedanta centers in Buenos Aires, Montevideo and Santiago, sharing his time between those places while also traveling to Europe and India every two years.

Erudite but never pompous, Shivapremananda will be remembered by those who knew him as an outspoken, insightful voice, full of practical common sense. His honesty and personal integrity were unwavering and he did not suffer fools or hypocrites gladly. He was kind and generous with his time and resources, and made a large bequest to the children's hospital in Buenos Aires, where a wing has been named in his honor.

Keep Hindu Press International Free for Another Year

Posted on 2019/12/27 10:29:26 ( 797 reads )


KAUAI, HAWAII, December 15, 2019 (HPI): It's that time of year again when we appeal to all our readers to support our Hindu Press International and the many other free on-line services of Hinduism Today magazine, Himalayan Academy and the Hindu Heritage Endowment. The following is a message from our publisher, Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami:

Namaste, and welcome to our various websites and mobile apps, through which we endeavor to provide accurate, useful and contemporary information on Hinduism.

"History of Hindu India" continues to be our broadest reaching digital initiative, with Part One of the five-part series reaching 3.1 million views on YouTube. To supplement this series, children's songs are being added to each of the five-parts. To date, six are on our YouTube channel, with more coming soon. Our "Spiritual WorkOut" app has received a major upgrade in both Apple and Android formats. The app provides a ten-minute routine of spiritual practice with multiple options in each of the five areas of practice. "The Holy Bible of the Saivite Hindu religion" is a new project that has been initiated. It has the ambitious goal of presenting English excerpts from the major Saivite scriptures. Initial efforts are on designing the database that will hold the material and allow for efficient selection, proofing and editing.

As you know, following the vision of our Gurudeva, Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, all the material on our websites, and now our new mobile apps, are available for free online. However, to cover the professional fees needed to continue to upgrade and expand, we do follow the model of Wikipedia and ask for donations the last two months of the year. For nine years running, you have responded generously, and after another year of working to improve these portals and provide new resources, we are back again with our annual appeal.

In our "How the Funds Are Used" page, we detail what we did with your past generosity, and what we hope to accomplish in the coming year. Your contribution this year will go to a short but strategic list of projects, including children's learning tools, the enhancement of our websites and their content and the development of the ever-popular mobile apps. Digital Dharma Drive funds do not pay staff salaries or administrative overhead, since these sites are created and maintained by selfless monks who work for free and live simply in our remote monastery on the island of Kauai.

Ten percent of your tax-deductible contribution goes into the permanent Digital Dharma Drive Endowment, which now stands at $139,243 after nine years of fundraising. This follows Gurudeva's vision for the future that all major aspects of our work will ultimately be supported by endowments. As the endowment accumulates, it will provide an ever-increasing income for decades to come, protecting the digital future of Hinduism, your religious heritage.

Donate today, and improve Hinduism's global English-language resources--for the benefit of this and future generations.

Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami
Guru Mahasannidhanam of Kauai Aadheenam
Publisher of Hinduism Today

Click here to donate: https://donate.himalayanacademy.com/ddd/index.lc

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