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South Asian diaspora films to be part of Texas film festival

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Washington: More than a dozen films focusing on issues affecting South Asians and exploring the lives and stories of the South Asian diaspora in the US will be showcased at a film festival in Texas next February.

The 2nd annual Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) South Asian Film Festival kicks off its programming from Feb 19 to 21, at locations in downtown Dallas and Plano with “Miss India America” as the opening night film.

It will screen Feb 19 at the Hoglund Foundation Theatre of the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, followed by a red carpet and cocktail reception at the T. Boone Pickens Life Then and Now Hall.

The rest of the specially-curated line-up will be showcased at the Angelika Film Centre in Plano on Feb 20 and 21, followed by panel discussions with attending filmmakers, after-parties and networking events, all taking place in Plano.

JINGO Media, a Dallas and New York based, public relations and events management firm, produces the annual festival of South Asian independent cinema in North Texas.

“In our second year, we are stepping up our game,” said JINGO Media Principal/CEO Jitin Hingorani.

Our team of curators has spent the year travelling to other South Asian film festivals around the world, including Toronto, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Goa, India, to secure the most meaningful and relevant programming for North Texas audiences.

“We are certain that our community will leave these films entertained, elated and educated.”

The festival’s opening night film is the Texas premiere of wife/husband creative team of Meera Simhan (actor/co-writer) and Ravi Kapoor’s (director/co-writer) award-winning, cross-cultural comedy “Miss India America.”

Set against the backdrop of the Indian beauty pageant world in Los Angeles, the film stars Texas native Tiya Sircar and Hannah Simone (of television series New Girl fame), along with a supporting cast of talented South Asian actors.

Produced by Megha Kadakia and Saurabh Kikani, the film “establishes an authentic tone that pays respect to Indian cultural norms, while poking gentle fun at these traditions,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

In addition to the opening night, centrepiece and closing night films, the festival will also showcase thought-provoking, edgy shorts and documentaries, along with women’s programming, men’s programming, LGBT programming and family programming.

(Arun Kumar, IANS)

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8 Immortals In Hindu Religion You Would Like To Know About

There are 8 immortals in Hindu religion who are believed to remain alive through kali yoga. Until a person attains Moksha, their life cycle is incomplete and Samsara of life and death continues. There is no escape to this fate.

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Immortals in Hindu Religion
Source: Wikimedia Common

New Delhi, September 24, 2017: Hinduism is the oldest known religion in the world. The way of life and spirituality in Hinduism is followed by certain rules, called Hindu dharma. Widely practiced in South Asia, Hinduism dates back to 4000 BCE to 1500 BCE in context to pre-Vedic religions and Vedic period.

Hinduism observes a comprehensive range of philosophies, from where the Hindu text are themed into four Purusarthas, Dharma (duties), Artha (work/prosperity), Kama (desires), and Moksha (freedom/salvation). These are the important part of fulfilling and happy life that makes a complete cycle of living.

Until a person attains Moksha, their life cycle is incomplete, and Samsara of life and death continues. There is no escape to this fate, and it is believed in Hindu Dharma that 8 personalities are in the same infinity cycle of Samsara. The eight immortals or Astha Chiranjeevi as they are known stands the loop Chiram (Long) and Jivee (Lived).

The 8 immortals in Hindu religion who are believed to remain alive through kali yoga

Maha Rishi Markandeya

Immortals in Hindu Religion
Source: Wikimedia Common

One of the devotees of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu, Rishi Markandeya comes from the Bhrigu, a clan of sages. The legend behind speaks of the great devotion of Markandeya towards Shiva to save himself from the god of death, Yama.

Rishi Mrikandu and his wife Marudmati worshipped Lord Shiva and requested from him the boon with a son. However, the boon came up to them two options, either their son will have a short lifespan or the son will have low intelligence. Mrikandu chose the first option and was blessed with Markandeya, who was destined to die at 16. The destiny cannot be escaped, and so the time came.

Markandeya knew about his fate, and on the day of his death, he started to worship Lord Shiva near the Shivalingam (the symbolic statue that represents Lord Shiva). The devotion and prayers were so powerful that the messenger of death God Yama was unable to take his life. Hearing this, Yama appeared himself to take away Markandeya’s life. He started to create a trap around the teenage sage, but mistakenly it grounded upon the Shivalingam. Furious Shiva emerged from the Shivalingam and a battle started between them on point of death. Yama couldn’t handle the rage of Shiva and thus resulted in losing it and sparing the life of Markandeya. Also, Shiva revived Yama to give the boy a boon of immortality.

This legend made Maha Rishi Markandeya be one of the 8 immortals in Hindu religion.

Asura King Mahabali

Immortals in Hindu Religion
Source: Wikimedia Common

The great-grandson of Hiranyakshipu, the grandson of Prahlada and son of Virochana, Mahabali.

The most beloved king in Kerela, Mahabali ruled his kingdom with prosperity and happiness. His success as a king led Gods to be cautious and bring him demise by Vamana, Vishnu avatar. Vamana asked Mahabali for 3 steps of land at the time of Ashwamedha Yoga, a Hindu rite that Bali performed to maintain dominance over three worlds. Bali agreed to it and granted Vamana the boon. Vishnu avatar Vamana covered the earth and the heaven with his two steps and asked Bali now that you don’t have anything left how will you fulfill my grant. Mahabali offered Vamana his head as a place his last step, which compelled Bali to go underworld.

Vamana got pleased with his devotions and blesses Bali to be the Indra during the period of Manu, known as Savarni. Bali’s devotion, dharma, and polite words mesmerized Lord Vishnu and he was granted with a boon of visiting the earth once a year. Onam festival in Kerala is celebrated to welcome Asur King Mahabali in this regards. He is also one of the 8 immortals in Hindu Religion.

Parashurama

Immortals in Hindu Religion
Source: Wikimedia Common

Born in Brahmin family, Parashurama was a warrior. Unlike other Brahmins, he was very temperamental and was also known to all as the sixth avatar of Lord Vishnu. Parashurama, the Brahmin-Kshatriya has many personas of being Kshatriya like warfare, valor, and aggression.

He is a martial Shraman ascetic. However, it is believed that he still lives on earth and is one of the 8 immortals in Hindu religion. He is an avesha avatar, the one who takes spiritual possession on other with his special power.

Like other avatars of Lord Vishnu, Parshuram appears at the time when evil tries to prevail earth.

ALSO READ: Was Taj Mahal Once a Shiva Temple? The Debate over the Tomb Continues

Vibhishana

Immortals in Hindu Religion
Source: Wikimedia Common

Vibhishana, the younger brother of demon king of Lanka,‘Ravana’. He comes from a rakshasa family (demon family) but was a nobleman who advised Ravana to release Maa Sita, who was kidnapped. He insisted Ravana to return Sita to her husband, Lord Rama, but his advice was not entertained. Eventually, he left Lanka to join Rama’s army.

With his knowledge and support, Rama defeated Ravana and crowned Vibhishana as the King.

When Vibhishana became the king of Lanka, he ruled the country with peace and prosperity following the path of Dharma.

During the end of Rama avatar, Lord Vishnu directed Vibhishana to stay on earth and maintain and guide people to the path of dharma. Hence, he is counted to be one of the 8 immortals in Hindu religion.

Hanuman

Immortals in Hindu Religion
Source: Wikimedia Common

Pavanputra(Wind-God son) Hanuman was born to Anjana and Kesari.

According to ancient legends, Anjana and Kesari long devotions and prayers towards Shiva brought them to have Hanuman as their son. The story goes like while Anjana and Kesari were worshipping Shiva, the king Dasaratha of Ayodhya performing the ritual of Putrakama Yagna for the same reason.

On finishing the Yagna, Dasharatha received a sacred kheer to be shared by his three wives, Kausalya, Kaikeyi, and Sumitra. By the grace of God, a kite snatched a splinter of that kheer and it fell down while the kite was flying over the forest. Vayudev (Wind God) brought that splinter to Anjana, which she consumed and Hanuman was born as a result.

Hanuman is one of the major characters of Ramayana meets Lord Rama in the last year of latter’s 14 years exile. Hanuman helped Rama to defeat Lanka King Ravana, who kidnapped Rama’s wife Sita.

Hanuman is pictured as the devotee of Lord Rama and Maa Sita. The story follows during the last age of Rama, Hanuman was blessed with immortality.

Veda Vyasa

Immortals in Hindu Religion
Source: Wikimedia Common

Vyas, the author of legendary epic Mahabharata and the holy book Shrimad Bhagavatam is a great scholar and Hindu scriptwriter. He is among the 8 immortals in Hindu religion who is a prime example of knowledge and wisdom.

Many believe that Vyasa is Chiranjivins (immortals). A festival in India is dedicated to him, named Guru Purnima on account of his birthday.

Ashwatthama 

Immortals in Hindu Religion
Source: Wikimedia Common

Ashwatthama or Drauni, son of Guru Dronacharya, is a mighty Maharathi, who fought from the Kaurava side in the battle of Kurukshetra against Pandavas. He is among the eleven Rudras avatar and also one of the seven avatars of Chiranjivi.

Born as Chiranjivi, it is believed that he has a gem on his forehead which gives him the power to take control over all living beings except humans. It also protected him from thirst, hunger, and tiredness.

The tales say that during the Mahabharata war, on the night after the conquest of Duryodhana, Ashwatthama was terrified and twitchy. He made up a plan to attack Pandavas camp during the nightfall. With his desire, he affected a large part of Pandavas army by massacring them.

The next day when Lord Krishna and Arjuna came to know about it, they searched for Ashwathama. The fierce fight resumed again, with both Ashwatthama and arjuna drawing Brahmaastra at each other. Vyasa was aware of the power of it and asked them to revoke it.

Arjun learned the words of Vyasa and retract his Astra, while Ashwatthama diverted it towards the womb of Uttara, where the only lineage of Pandavas was living. Lord Krishna protected the baby from it but he cursed Aswastthama with 3000 years of sufferings.

He was asked to give away the gem on his forehead and he will be wandering around in the forest with puss and blood coming out of his body.

It is believed that he is one of the 8 immortals in Hindu religion and still there roving around with incurable diseases.

ALSO READ: Hollywood Celebrities Who Converted to Hinduism

Kripacharya

Immortals in Hindu Religion
Source: Wikimedia Common

Known as one of the most important characters in Indian epic Mahabharata, Kripacharya is the true embodiment of impartiality.  He is one among the immortals in Hindu religion and the boon was bestowed upon him by Lord Krishna. Kripacharya is placed even above Dronacharya in the list of Hindu immortals because of his virtues,

Kripacharya is placed even above Dronacharya in the conference of immortality because of his virtues, righteousness, and impartiality. It is because of his quality to remain calm in any stressful condition that he stands out from the rest of the immortals. As stated in Mahabharata, Kripacharya was also capable to manage 60,000 in

As stated in Mahabharata, Kripacharya was also capable to manage 60,000 in the battlefield.

– Prepared by Abhishek Biswas of NewsGram Twitter: @Writing_desire

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India condemns support systems for terrorists in South Asia, expresses concern over North Korea’s nuclear program

Sushma Swaraj’s statement assumes significance as it comes after the unprecedented BRICS Summit joint statement earlier this month in which Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa unequivocally named Pakistan and the terror groups based there

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Sushma Swaraj talks about support systems of terrorists in South Asia
External affairs minister of India, Sushma Swaraj. Wikimedia
  • India on Thursday condemned support systems for terrorists in South Asia while expressing concern over South Asia’s nuclear program
  • Sushma Swaraj’s statement is significant since it comes after the BRICS Summit where many countries unequivocally named Pakistan and the terrorist groups based there
  • Sushma Swaraj also sought cooperation for early conclusion of negotiations and adoption of the India-initiated Comprehensive Convention against International Terrorism

New York, Sep 22, 2017:  In an obvious reference to Pakistan, India on Thursday condemned support systems for terrorists in South Asia while expressing concern over North Korea’s nuclear and weapons and ballistic missile programmes.

“The horror of terrorism continues to haunt global peace and security. Terror groups draw sustenance from support systems in South Asia,” Sushma Swaraj said while speaking at the BRICS Ministerial Meeting on the margins of the UN General Assembly Session here.

“They continue to find support and shelter in countries which use terrorism as an instrument of state policy.

“We must condemn efforts, including by states, to use religion to justify, sustain and sponsor terrorism against other countries,” she added.

Sushma Swaraj’s statement assumes significance as it comes after the unprecedented BRICS Summit joint statement earlier this month in which Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa unequivocally named Pakistan and the terror groups based there.

“There is need for collective efforts to disrupt terrorist networks, their financing and movement,” she said, calling for terrorist funding, their weapons supply, training and political support to “be systematically cut off”.

Sushma Swaraj also sought cooperation for early conclusion of negotiations and adoption of the India-initiated Comprehensive Convention against International Terrorism (CCIT) in the UN Security Council.

On North Korea’s recent offensive military posturing, she said: “The action and rhetoric of North Korea has been a source of growing global concern.”

Also read: Baloch Activist Bugti hails Sushma Swaraj for her speech against Pakistan Atrocities at UN General Assembly

She also touched on climate change and referred to Indian Prime Minister Narendra’s Modi’s suggestion of an alliance between the India-initiated International Solar Alliance and the New Development Bank, a multilateral development bank established by the BRICS nations.

“I hope we can work together to give this ambitious agenda practical shape in coming months,” she said.

The International Solar Alliance, launched at the UN Conference of Parties (CoP) climate summit in Paris on November 30, 2015, by Prime Minister Modi and then French President Francois Hollande, is conceived as a coalition of solar resource-rich countries to address their special energy needs and provide a platform to collaborate on dealing with the identified gaps through a common, agreed approach.

It is open to all 121 prospective member countries falling between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. (IANS)

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British Indian and Renowned Sarod Maestro Soumik Datta to Curate Festival in London

Soumik Datta, a British Indian and a renowned Sarod Maestro, has been chosen to curate the Asian Festival at London's Horseman Museum

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Soumik Datta to curate festival
Soumik Datta, a British Indian and a renowned musician. Twitter

London, July 4, 2017: British Indian Soumik Datta, a renowned sarod maestro, will curate a day-long festival, Indian Summer Baaja, as part of the Horniman Museum and Gardens’ Indian Summer season, on July 23.

The event will feature music, stories, and dance from across South Asia as curator Soumik brings together an array of Britain-based musicians, storytellers and dancers whose contemporary practice is deep-rooted in the musical traditions of South Asia.

Horniman Museum and Garden’s Indian Summer will be a series of events and exhibitions from July 9 to September 3 and celebrate 70 years of India’s and Britain’s cultural ties.

ALSO READ: British Indian Lawyer Sarosh Zaiwalla Invited to Russia in St Petersburg International Economic Forum 2017 (SPIEF) attended by PM Narendra Modi

Indian Summer Baaja will feature world music artist Shammi Pithia, percussionist Bernhard Schimpelsberger, tabla player Gurdain Singh Rayatt, violinist Preetha Narayanan and progressive six piece British-Bengali band Khiyo, among others.

The day will close with a two-hour gala of voices, drummers, and strings led by Soumik, who has worked on collaborative projects with the likes of Beyonce Knowles, Anoushka Shankar, Joss Stone and Shankar Mahadevan, on the sarod.

“I wanted to recreate the atmosphere of vibrant Indian festivals complete with nomad bands and folk musicians playing on street corners and city gardens,” Soumik said in a statement.

“The word ‘baaja’ in Hindi roughly translates as ‘instrument’ or group of instruments. For me, an instrument carries with it the DNA of where it has come from. In its sound, it carries the identity of its region.

“In its resonance lives its many stories. Responding to the incredible collection of instruments at the Horniman, I wanted to celebrate ancient South Asian instruments such as the sarod, veena, bansuri and kanjira that are now being played by young and dynamic second generation maestros in the UK with an urgency that keeps this music relevant and alive,” he added. (IANS)