Wednesday May 23, 2018

VIP darshans: Are the Gods and time sole privileges of the influential?

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By Prerna Grewal

The demand to stop the practice of issuing VIP tickets for having darshan at the temple is the new mantra of many devotees. Today, society and economy function together in a way that one’s class becomes a significant determinant of the privileges one is entitled to. Over time, people have become used to this model to the extent that it is more often than not reflected in their mentality.

The spiritual realm, a space for expression of faith, for taking a break from worldly hustle or for seeking hope has also been infected by this mentality. Under the pretext of satisfying all these purposes this mentality is gradually coming up as an alternate micro economy with its own norms of transactions and profits. The mentality or attitude of a minor yet influential section of today’s society is playing a significant role in letting this economy thrive.

An advocate had once filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking an end to the special darshan concept, since such a special categorization is in violation of Article 14 (equality before the eyes of the law).

The PIL drew attention to the fact that there was no regulation on the timings and no ceiling on the number of devotees in a special darshan group, thereby leading to various hardships for the ordinary devotees.

In this fast paced world, people don’t have a minute to spare, or at least they claim so, and want everything to be winded up as fast as possible. This attitude is exhibited also with respect to getting darshan of the deities as well. In cases like these, the purpose seems to be devoid of its essence.

It seems more like a practice that has to be followed for the sake of custom or status.“We have to visit 15 temples in five days, and a quickie darshan is the only way we can do it,”said Nandini Jayanth, an NRI, who embarked on a temple circuit during the famous ‘Chittirai’ festival in Madurai recently.

N. Raman, another NRI, said that every year he visits Srivilliputhur temple during the Andal birthday celebrations. “It is a massive crowd out there, and I cannot spend hours waiting for a darshan, and I have a gentleman’s agreement whereby I get waved through quickly”.

Obviously the agreements of many such “gentlemen” ensure the survival of this alternate economy. Accordingly it seems that not only God but even the time is a privilege of the influential. Apparently, the ordinary men aren’t as constrained as these special personages. The latter, because of being ‘important’ have more important responsibilities on their heads. But are they doing anyone a favor by sparing time for such “quickies”? If it’s being done out of a sense of compulsion, then it would be better if they simply avoided it and if they truly want to visit, then they might as well spare some time for it like hundreds of others.

Another important aspect that deserves attention is the utilization of the benefits earned through these agreements. Isn’t a major share of it pocketed for personal profits?

Many areas thrive on the funds accumulated through religious tourism. People are willing to spare large amounts of money for these special darshans. One would probably offend many religious devotees if one dares to raise the following question.

Will visiting a particular place of worship grant them better access to God?

If one tries to put forth an argument regarding the ultimate redundancy of these darshans, one would be inviting a significant amount of trouble.

The truth nevertheless is that the entire system earns a significant amount of money under the pretext of bestowing blessings. Not all of it is utilized for the development and prosperity of these places. Often smaller committees of selective people manipulate with the temple funds.

Like many other spaces this one too is infused with corruption and propagates by exploiting people on the basis of their faith. In India, it can be seen as one of the most widespread and deeply rooted networks of corruption.

Religion is so engrained within our mentality that it plays an influential role in shaping our decisions across different walks of life. Ironically, if it makes class barriers apparent, it also breaks through these barriers by having a magnetic effect and forcing people from all classes to act in similar ways. Although there is no doubt that people’s status shouldn’t be a determinant of their access to these places, the larger question that looms behind it is whether these darshans are worth one’s time, energy and investment in the first place.

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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    If one has power, he can totally use it. And if problem still prevails, the system of special darshan lines should be abolished

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    If one has power, he can totally use it. And if problem still prevails, the system of special darshan lines should be abolished

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4 Christian Movies on Netflix That Teach You History

In fact, many of them are either dramatic adaptations of Bible canons or simply historical accounts of that particular era with some moral lessons thrown into the mix to fit the theme of the movies.

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Christian movies get a bad rap
Movies about religion or Christianity are not necessarily religious in nature.

Christian movies get a bad rap. Many people avoid watching them under the assumption that they are a personal soap box for the directors or writers to showcase their faith in God. While you can easily make this case for a certain number of them, movies about religion or Christianity are not necessarily religious in nature. In fact, many of them are either dramatic adaptations of Bible canons or simply historical accounts of that particular era with some moral lessons thrown into the mix to fit the theme of the movies. Either way, while they are not full on historical renditions, they can teach you a lot about that historical era. Without further ado, here are four Christian movies on Netflix that teach you history.

Joseph & Mary (2016)

Joseph & Mary is a historical biblical drama that follows the journey of Elijah, a devout rabbi, who swears revenge upon King Herod the Great, who slaughtered hundreds of innocents, including his two child proteges. Elijah’s quest for revenge gets a lot more complicated when he starts spending time with Joseph, Mary,and their young Son, who challenge the very beliefs that fuel his rage.

Starring Kevin Sorbo as Joseph – which you might remember from the light-hearted Tv Show Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Captain Dylan Hunt in Andromeda –, and Lara Jean Chorostecki – of Hannibal and Designated Survivor fame -, the film, due to its heavy subject matter, might not be an easy watch for everybody.

However, history buffs will surely appreciate the care and detail that the writers and producers put into the décor, costumes,and script, as it feel very authentic from a historical standpoint. If you are interested to see more Christian movies that are historically accurate, make sure to check out this article on Netflix Guides, a website frequently updated with well-written guides and reviews.

Joseph: King of Dreams (2000)

Joseph: King of Dreams is a 2000 American animated biblical musical drama.  Serving as a prequel to the 1998 film The Prince of Egypt, the plot itself is an adaptation of the story of Joseph from the Book Of Genesis in the Bible. Not many people might think to get their history lessons from an animated musical, you will soon find out that Joseph: King of Dreams will shatter this perception. While the film does take some artistic liberties when it comes to historical facts, the animators made a great job of reconstructing the spirit and atmosphere of the era.

Featuring a stellar cast that includes Ben Affleck, Richard Herd (Get Out, Star Trek: Renegades) andMark Hamill (Luke Skywalker, and many other voice roles in animated shows and video games), King of Dreams is a great Christian film that will charm you with its smart direction, good music and enticing story.

The Book of Esther (2013)

Released in 2013, the film follows the story of Esther, a Jewish girl who is handpicked as the new queen consort to King Xerxes I of Persia. The story centers around Esther’s efforts to stop Lord Haman from exterminating her people. The film does take some artistic licenses from the Biblical account, but the main actress’ good performance compensates for any of the film’s shortcomings. If you are looking for an intrigue film with a historical Christian twist, then do not hesitate to try out The Book of Esther.

 Son of God (2014)

Christian movies get a bad rap
Christian Movies are worth watching.

Son of God is a direct adaptation of the ten-hour miniseries The Bible, which aired on the History channel throughout March 2013. Starring DiogoMorgado as Jesus Christ, Darwin Shaw as Saint Simon Peter, Sebastian Knapp as Saint John and Roma Downey as Mary, amongst others, the film is a retelling of the Biblical Story of Jesus, from his birthright until his crucifixion and ascended into Heaven.

Beyond Bofors: Beyond Bofors: An Untold Story Of India’s First Family

The story itself is seen through the eyes of an elderly John, one of Jesus’ most faithful followers, who is living in exile after being the sole survivor of the group. While the film does contain some recycled scenes from the miniseries (probably because they are produced by the same person, Mark Burnett, or simply due to budget constraints), Son of God stands on its own and is worth a view even if you have already seen the TV show. DiogoMorgado deserves special praise for his stellar acting, which is arguably one of the best interpretations of Jesus Christ after Jim Caviezel’s performance in The Passion of the Christ.

Conclusion

Many people tend to avoid watching Christian movies believing that they are either poor quality or too preachy. But in reality, only a small fraction of them are like this – most of them are quite balanced and made in such a way that even people who are not particularly religious can enjoy them. The movies that we have showcased in this write up, with their good casts and direction, appeal both to Christians, and people who enjoy good historical dramas. If you are looking for Christian movies but are unsure what to choose, do not hesitate to give these titles a try.