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Tulsi Gabbard asks California education board to describe Hinduism accurately, urges to include the ‘positive contributions’ made by Hindu women

Being the first and only serving Hindu-American member of Congress, Gabbard claimed that she has dedicatedly worked towards encouraging equality, pluralism and diversity

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Tulsi Gabbard. Image Source: nbcnews.com
  • In a letter head of their final hearing, on July 8, Gabbard has insisted that the board should ensure both the identity and the history of the religion are restored
  • In addition she also asked the education board to include the key roles women have played in ancient history and Hindu society at large
  • She has also asked the education board to depict the caste-system positively

Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu ever elected to U.S. Congress, has urged a California based education board to define Hinduism accurately in their text books and give the religion its due credit.

The 35-year-old Hindu-American politician and the representative of Democratic Party from Hawaii since 2013, has asked the board not to describe the religion in the wrong light as ‘religions of ancient India.’

Californian education board is in its last phase of revising and updating the K-12 History-Social Science syllabus for public schools.

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In a letter head of their final hearing, on July 8, Gabbard has insisted that the board should ensure both the identity and the history of the religion are restored.

She has stressed that all inaccurate and wrong references related to Hinduism like the phrase, “religions of Ancient India, including but not limited to early Hinduism” must be removed.

In the letter Gabbard said, “Replacing Hinduism with the term ‘religions of Ancient India, including but not limited to early Hinduism’ is not only inaccurate, but it will cause confusion for students and teachers alike,” reported DNA.

Tulsi Gabbard administering the oath of office on Bhagvad Gita. Image Source: The Hindu
Tulsi Gabbard administering the oath of office on Bhagavad Gita. Image Source: The Hindu

In addition, she also asked the education board to include the key roles women have played in ancient history and Hindu society at large.

She wrote, “While it is important to discuss the existence of patriarchies in ancient civilisations, it is also critical to discuss the positive contributions and unique roles played by women in those societies,” she noted.

“In the context of Ancient India, Hindu women were able to perform their own religious rites and also authored the Vedas, Hinduism’s sacred texts,” Gabbard added.

She has also asked the education board to depict the caste-system positively and added that though caste-based discrimination is a reality but the present description “goes against the essence of Hindu teachings and scriptures, which posit that divinity is inherent in all beings.”

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Being the first and the only serving Hindu-American member of Congress, Gabbard claimed that she has dedicatedly worked towards encouraging equality, pluralism, and diversity.

Meanwhile, around two dozen Indian-American organizations have also sent a letter to the board, requesting it no teach Hinduism in an “outdated, inaccurate and stereotyped manner.”

– prepared by Bulbul Sharma, a staff-writer at NewsGram. Twitter handle: iBulbul_

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Hindu Icons Which Have Spiritual Significance

These icons have to be treated with extreme respect and should not be touched or removed without the owners consent.

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rangoli
Rangoli, Toran, Aum and Swastika – optional display inside or outside the home. Pixabay

Hindu Council of Australia has compiled a list of Hindu Icons that Hindus may wear on their body and which have spiritual significance. This list has been made to remove confusion among non-Hindus about what is sacred to Hindus.

Hindu Sacraments worn on the body

Hindu icons all year round

bangles
Bangles worn on wrists by women – a cultural item. Pixabay

Scared Hindu icons that can not be removed

  1. Nose stud – essential for girls during puberty, can not be removed for one year.
  2. Yajnopavit/Janaue – essential for boys after their Yajnopavit right of passage, once worn can not be removed and worn again without extensive rituals (not even during swimming lessons)
  3. Sindoor/Mangalsutra – essential for married women. Removal is not permitted while husband is alive.
  4. Choti/Shikha – small hair tail for boys during a right of passage.
  5. Pagdi (Turban, A cloth wrapped around the head) – touching or removing it is disrespectful. It can be removed for a short period in privacy, like when having a shower and must be worn as soon as possible.
  6. Sivalingam (Veera and Adi Shiva people, Lingayat) or other Hindu Gods as pendant in a necklace.

Sacred Hindu icons that can be removed by the wearer

  1. Bindi – optional for women and girls, it can not be removed by others.
  2. Bangles worn on wrists by women – a cultural item
  3. Kondhani – a bracelet made of black thread worn around the waist
  4. Anklets (Pahjeb, Payal) – a metal bracelet worn on ankles
  5. Ear rings/studs for boys and girls in some families
  6. Gem stone on rings for special effects of planets
  7. Hindu Sacraments worn on Special Occasions

    Anklets (Pahjeb, Payal) – a metal bracelet worn on ankles
    Anklets (Pahjeb, Payal) – a metal bracelet worn on ankles. Pixabay
  1. Tulsi Mala – A necklace of Tulsi beads. During special religious observations.
  2. Teeka, Tilak, Vibhuti – essential during Hindu prayers, optional otherwise
  3. Mehendi/henna/turmeric – essential when getting married or when a close family member gets married, optional for married women during karva chauth day. Henna is a fast colour (looks like a emporary tatto) that takes a week or more to fade away
  4. Men are not allowed to cut their hair during Sabramalai month (Mid of November to January 14/15)
  5. Rakhi – a special bracelet worn on special festival day of Rakhi.
  6. Kajal/Surma (dark black eye ointment)
  7. Raksha/mouli – multi colour thread bracelet as a protective icon during special days
  8. Gajra – a flower arrangement by woman at the back of there hair.

Hindu icons in a Hindu home

These icons have to be treated with extreme respect and should not be touched or removed without the owners consent.

  1. Rangoli, Toran, Aum and Swastika – optional display inside or outside the home.
  2. Home shrine

(Originally Published: Hindu Council of Australia)