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Hundreds visit Swindon’s ‘Sri Srinivas Balaji Kalyanam’ celebration

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Photo: Swindon Advertiser

Swindon, UK: More than 600 people turned out for Swindon’s biggest and most successful Hindu community event on Sunday.

The Swindon Hindu Temple Trust organized the auspicious Hindu religious event “Sri Srinivas Balaji Kalyanam” for the second consecutive year. The event hailed an outright success and the biggest religious congregation in the town with families from different communities gathering to witness and participate in the Divine Marriage of Lord Vishnu, one of the holy trinity in Hinduism.

The sheer scale of the six hour long event was evident in the grand cultural extravaganza with its colorful decorations and sumptuous Indian vegetarian food.

Photo: Swindon Advertiser
Photo: Swindon Advertiser

The live event was projected on to big screens starting with the traditional welcoming of guests.

“The emotional outpouring, warmth, excitement and devotion was palpable in particular during the Palanquin procession of the Lord, when scores of people lined up to take turns, 20 at a time to carry the deities’ platform and also the traditional garland exchange wedding ritual ceremony accompanied by melodious music,” said Pradeep Bhardwaj chairman of the Swindon Hindu Temple Trust.

” A drummer and scores of women in traditional attires walked in front of the procession carrying traditional lamps, singing devotional songs.

“And there were special activities for children bearing testimony to all the hard work put in by dozens of volunteers for well over three months planning this event.”

Several Hindu rituals and ceremonies were performed amidst the chanting of Sanskrit shlokas by the official priests of Balaji Temple, Birmingham, one of Europe’s biggest Hindu temples.

Mr Bhardwaj delivered a passionate speech to the congregation narrating the positive role of religion in our lives and compared it to that of an elite coach for any aspiring/budding sportsperson and how places of worship can make immense contributions to art, culture, cuisine, economy, social upliftment and harmony in our society.

He then announced the news the Hindu community has been waiting for the last 50 years – that Swindon’s first Hindu Temple & Cultural Centre is now imminent in the next few months. This was greeted with loud cheers, fanfare and rejoice by the big congregation. This should further strengthen the multicultural fabric of Swindon town. Around £10,000 was raised for the building at the event.

The story was first published in Swindon Advertiser

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Right of Nature: Are Rivers Living Beings?

Should rivers be considered Living Entities?

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Right of Nature
Many cultures across the globe believe that rivers are living beings or Gods/Goddesses and they just take the form of water bodies.

By Dr. Bharti Raizada, Chicago

Science says that water bodies are not living entities, as water does not need food, does not grow, and reproduce. Water is required for life, but in itself it is nonliving.

However, many cultures across the globe believe that rivers are living beings or Gods/Goddesses and they just take the form of water bodies.

The Maori tribe in New Zealand considers the Whanganui River as their ancestor and the Maori people fought to get it a legal status as a living being. In 2017, a court in New Zealand gave this river the status of living being and same rights as humans, to protect it from pollution. Thus, now if someone pollutes in it then it is considered equivalent to harming a human.

ALSO READ: Worshiping mother nature part of our tradition: Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Right of Nature
Rivers are sacred in many religions, including Hinduism. Image courtesy: Dr. Bharti Raizada

Rivers are sacred in Hinduism also. Hindus believe that the Ganga descended from heaven and call her Ganga Maa. A few days after New Zealand’s court decision, Uttarakhand high court in India gave the Ganga and Yamuna rivers and their tributaries the status of living human entities. The Court-appointed three officials as legal custodians. However, the court did not clarify many aspects related to this decision.

After this verdict some of the questions, which naturally came to mind, were:

Can Hindus still do rituals of flowing ashes, leaves, flowers, diyas in river or no? Can a dam be built on the river after this judgment? If some damage, to a person, animal, plants, or property, occurs because of river e.g. overflow, hurricanes, flooding etc., how the river will pay the liabilities? What if all rivers, oceans, ponds etc. are given the status of living beings? Will drinking water from river become a crime? What about taking water and using it for routine needs,  agriculture or building structures? Will it be illegal? If a child throws a stone in water, will it be a criminal act? Will fishing be considered stealing? What about boating? If someone is using heat near water and water evaporates, is it equal to taking the body part of a human being? What about taking a bath in the river?

Right of Nature
If the river gets a living status, as human, then we cannot use it for anything without its permission, so everyone has to stop touching the water. Image courtesy: Dr. Bharti Raizada

ALSO READ: Decoding supernatural: What is the nature of entities and gods who influence human behavior

Other queries, which arise, are:

Will animals and plants get the same status? What if you kill an ant or a chicken etc. or cut a tree? Will all animals and plants get a legal custodian?

Where is all the waste supposed to go? It has to go somewhere back in nature, right?

Uttrakhand state government challenged the judgement in Supreme Court and the latter reversed the judgment.

Right of Nature
So where do we stand? In my opinion, granting living status to nature is a different thing than giving protected status or preserving nature. Image by Dr. Bharti Raizada

ALSO READ: How nature destroys the negative tendencies in a positive manner

Ecuador’s constitution recognized the Right of Nature to exist, specifically Vilcabamba river, in 2008.

Then Bolivia passed the law of the right of mother earth and granted Nature equal rights as humans.

Many communities in the U.S.A. passed the Right of Nature law.

These laws are creating a dilemma or quandary also, as people need to use these resources. We cannot live without using natural resources. However, there is a difference between using natural resources and afflicting or destroying these. So, please use natural resources very diligently. Try not to vitiate nature.

On World Water Day (March 22), please start taking care of rivers, so that there is no need for future celebrations. It should not be a one-day celebration anyway, we should scrupulously look out for nature all the time.

Dr. Raizada is a practicing anesthesiologist.