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D.W. Griffith and his American silent film “The Hindoo Dagger”: The significance of the term “Hindoo” in it!

The name Hindoo is sure to conjure up in our minds thoughts of mysticism, fetishism, thaumaturgy, and occult art

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Image Source : Saada.org
  • “The Hindoo Dagger” was Indian in name only and there was nothing Indian about it except for the association of the dagger with India
  • The name Hindoo was used to conjure up thoughts of mysticism, fetishism, thaumaturgy, and occult art
  • In time, many Indian terms were associated with the occult and the people were viewed upon as con-men

When the “Inventor of Hollywood” released his groundbreaking film The Birth of a Nation in 1915, significant controversy sparked focusing on its negative depiction of African Americans and its glorification of the Ku Klux Klan. D. W. Griffith, film director, writer and producer who pioneered modern filmmaking techniques, earned millions of dollars in profit for his film, The Birth of a Nation. Out of his 500 films, there is one with an Indian reference which can be considered offensive. “The Hindoo Dagger” was Indian in name only. There was nothing Indian about it except for the association of the dagger with India.

India was then believed to be the land of the occult and supernatural and the word Hindoo” as a way to signal “alterity” and “ethnological interest.” According to Saada, a description for The Hindoo Dagger during its release describes it as such:

David Wark Griffith Image Source: Wikipedia Commons

The name Hindoo is sure to conjure up in our minds thoughts of mysticism, fetishism, thaumaturgy, and occult art, and with reason, for Hindustan is, without a doubt, the birthplace of all such weird practice. Hence it is that anything coming from the Hindoos is regarded as possessed of certain phylacteric and talismanic powers, and it was not strange that Jack Windom should experience a sensation of awe at the reception of the Hindoo dagger from his old chum, Tom, who was traveling in India.

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The Hindoo Dagger is a murder-suicide movie. When the protagonist Jack Windom sees his wife embracing another man, he stabs her with a dagger he received from his friend, who had been to India. Overcome by fear, he flees the crime scene. The wife’s lover comes out from hiding and saves his wounded lover.

After a year, the lover discovers that she has been cheating on him with a third man. Overcome by rage he stabs her to death and flees. Then, in a twist, Jack Windom returns to the home, entering the crime scene he had left. When he enters the bathroom, he finds his wife exactly as he had left her. Horrified by the scene, Jack plunges the dagger into his heart falling to death over his wife’s corpse. The desire to enact murders was placed squarely on the instrument brought over from India.

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In 1902, Thomas Edison’s Hindoo Fakir featured an Indian magician, performing a series of tricks with the aid of trick photography. In time, many Indian terms were associated with the occult and the people were viewed upon as con-men. The term “fakir” described a host of figures, from Hindu yogis to Sufi dervishes, as well as street performers, magicians, and, con-artists. Sheet music for songs like “Hindu Man” and “My Hindoo Man” described the fakir, in his “turban crown,” who came from the “home of ‘ologists’ … palmologists, and flim-flam.” Also many films like The Love Girl (1916), Upside Down (1919), and Sucker Money (1933), featured the figure of the Hindu prince and swami, who would later be revealed as a fraud or con-man. Even associations with yoga conjured fantastical notions about the “unnatural hypnotic sway” that yogis could have on their followers states the Saada article.

-prepared by Ajay Krishna, an intern at NewsGram.

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Hinduism is Not an Official or Preferred Religion in Any Country of The World, Says a New Report

Though Hinduism is the third largest religion of the world, it is not the official state religion of any country according to a Pew Research Center Report

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Hinduism
Hinduism is not an official religion of any country in the world. Instagram.
  • No country has declared Hinduism as its official state religion – despite India being an influential Hindu political party
  • Hinduism is not an official or preferred religion in any country of the world, according to a Pew Research Center report.
  • 53% of 199 nations considered in the study don’t have an official religion
  • 80 countries are assigned either an “official religion” or “preferred religion”

Nevada, USA, October 16: Hinduism is the primeval and third largest religion of the world with about 1.1 billion followers of moksh (liberation) being its utmost desire of life. India is among the category of nations where the government do not have an official or preferred religion.

Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank headquartered in Washington DC that aims to inform the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.

The report states that a country’s official religion is regarded as a legacy of its past and present privileges granted by the state. And a few other countries fall on the other side of the gamut, and propagate their religion as the ‘official religion’, making it a compulsion for all citizens.

It adds up on the context of allocation that more than eight-in-ten countries (86%) provide financial support or resources for religious education programs and religious schools that tend to benefit the official religion.

Hinduism
Islam is the most practiced official religion of the world. Instagram.

Commenting on Hinduism, the report states:

In 2015, Nepal came close to enshrining Hinduism, but got rejected of a constitutional amendment due to a conflict between pro-Hindu protesters and state police.

Although India has no official or preferred religion as mentioned in the Constitution,it was found by PEW that in India the intensity of government constraints and social antagonism involving religion was at a peak. “Nigeria, India, Russia, Pakistan and Egypt had the highest levels of social hostilities involving religion among the 25 most populous countries in 2015. All fell into the “very high” hostilities category,” the report added.

As per the 2011 census, it was found that 79.8% of the Indian population idealizes Hinduism and 14.2% practices to Islam, while the rest 6% pursuit other religions.

While Hinduism stands up with the majority, Article 25 of the Constitution of India contributes secularism allowing for religious freedom and allows every Indian to practice his/her religion, without any intervention by the community or the government.

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, President of Universal Society of Hinduism, applauded the Hindu community for their benefaction to the society and advised Hindus to concentrate on inner purity, attract spirituality towards youth and children, stay far from the greed, and always keep God in the life.

According to Pew, these are “places where government officials seek to control worship practices, public expressions of religion and political activity by religious groups”.

-by Bhavana Rathi of NewsGram.  She can be reached @tweet_bhavana

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Divya Khosla Kumar wishes to make ‘Women Oriented Films’ now

The filmmaker has previously made films like "Yaariyan" and "Sanam Re"

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Divya Khosla Kumar. Wikimedia
Divya Khosla Kumar. Wikimedia

New Delhi, October 16, 2017 : Filmmaker Divya Khosla Kumar, who has made films like “Yaariyan” and “Sanam Re”, says she would love to make women oriented films as women are now in every field and doing wonders.

“I would love to if I get an amazing script,” said Divya. However, when it comes to actress, she feels that choice is completely dependent on character.

“I don’t have actress or actor in mind as I feel character gives you definition of whom you should cast,” said the filmmaker was set to walk the runway as a showstopper for designer Charu Parashar at Amazon India Fashion Week (AIFW) Spring- Summer 2018 on Sunday.

ALSO READ Hardly any films that celebrate Female Bonding, says Filmmaker Aparna Sen

Parashar will showcase a collection titled ‘Immortelle’ that derives inspiration from the Victorian glass house through its lush flora and fauna and the undying spirit of a woman.

Talking about the designer, Divya Khosla Kumar said: “The cloth has fitted me so beautifully I like the concept as it showcases women undying spirit. Women work so hard. I think it is time to pay homage to them as they never give up and this is what the line celebrates.”

Talking about how the role of women has changed in the film industry, she says, “Initially it was very male dominated and there were hardly any women director but now women have entered everywhere and they are making their mark. I think its more to do with talent than differentiating on gender.” (IANS)

 

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Paintings Which Beautifully Depict Scenes From Ramayana

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Ramayana
Ram lifting the bow during Sita Swayambar. Wikimedia Commons.

Ramayana, the ancient Indian epic which describes the narrative of Ayodhya Prince lord Rama’s struggles. The struggles include- exile of 14 years, abduction of his wife Sita, reaching Lanka, destruction of the evil. It is strongly ingrained in the Indian culture, especially, the Hindu culture since a long time. Hindus celebrate Diwali based on the narratives of Ramayana.

The story of Ramayana gives out the beautiful message that humanity and service to the mankind is way more important than kingdom and wealth. Below are five paintings describing the scenes from Ramayana:

1. Agni Pariksha in Ramayana

Ramayana
Agni Pariksha. Wikimedia.

When Lord Rama questions Sita’s chastity, she undergoes Agni Pariksha, wherein, she enters a burning pyre, declaring that if she has been faithful to her husband then the fire would harm her. She gets through the test without any injuries or pain. The fire God, Agni, was the proof of her purity. Lord Rama accepts Sita and they return to Ayodhya. 

2. Scene From The Panchavati Forest

Ramayana
scene from the panchavati forest. wikimedia.

The picture describes a scene from the Panchavati forest. It is believed that Lord Rama built his forest by residing in the woods of Panchavati, near the sources of the river Godavari, a few miles from the modern city of Mumbai. He lived in peace with his wife and brother in the forest.

3. Hanuman Visits Sita

Ramayana
Hanuman meets Sita. Wikimedia.

Hanuman reaches Lanka in search of Sita. At first, he was unable to find Sita. He later saw a woman sitting in Ashok Vatika, drowned in her sorrows, looked extremely pale. He recognized her. After seeing the evil king, Ravana making her regular visit to Sita, he hid somewhere in the Vatika. After Ravana left, Hanuman proved Sita that he is Rama’s messenger by showing her his ring. He assured her that Rama would soon come to rescue her. Before leaving Lanka, he heckled Ravana. Agitated by Hanuman’s actions, Ravana ordered to set Hanuman’s tail on fire. With the burning tail, Hanuman set the entire city on fire.