Saturday December 16, 2017

Want to attain salvation? Donate generously in shrines



By Ishaa Srivastava

Think about how Hinduism manifests itself in large sections of our society. The idea of India is heavily impregnated with the multitude of its religious identity. Religious devotees and pilgrims dedicate much of their time, money, and resources in the fervent service of God. They undertake pilgrimages to places like Amarnath in dangerous terrains, enduring much physical pain. They part with their wealth, indulge in daily prayers, and renounce their possessions to be in God consciousness.

The idea of renouncing possessions and making a ritualistic offerings in a temple may seem vague to many, but it is a great form of devotion towards God. The idea behind making an offering in a shrine is a reflection how one is willing to part ways from materialistic things. It should be seen as an act of detachment. A first step towards detaching oneself from the materialistic world.

Those who have undertaken a journey in South India, maybe familiar with how thousands of people offer their own hair at the Tirumala Tirupati Temple, an act that absolves one from all ego and repays the debt to God. A lot of Hindu temples also receive massive donations (in cash or gold) from Indian and NRI devotees, which  is used for the temple infrastructure, food for devotees, or other charity work.

The Sabrimala pilgrimage (Ayyappan pilgrimage) attracts millions of male Hindu devotees from Kerala, and South India as a whole. Preparations for the pilgrimage usually start in November, and the pilgrims adhere to a vratam, a 41 day period of abstinence. This is akin to the Kavar Yatra undertaken in the sacred month of Saawan (July to August) by Shiva devotees (Kaavariyas) in north India.

Many partisans have of course, gone beyond and gone astray with the whole concept of sacrifice fundamentally. Commercialisation of a few temples in India takes away the piety of a place of worship. One is reminded of Nepal; the nefarious killing of 100,000 animals during the quinquennial Gadhimai Festival which last took place in 2014. Before we point our finger, however, remember there have been horrendous cases of sacrificial rituals in our own country. In 2002, for instance, 105 children were buried alive for ‘just one minute’in Perayur Village, Tamil Nadu, during the Kuzhi maatru thiruvizha—or the festival of the pits. Family members ‘bury’ their own children in the hope that their wishes will be fulfilled.

Where do we draw a line between moralistic rituals as social practice and an actual unquestioning, spiritual devotion to God?

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A welcome step for women empowerment laws, soon to be introduced law will help to prevent women’s abuse in NRI marriages: Rakesh Srivastava

Rakesh Srivastava talked about increasing women employment, equal work participation, and gender equality

A soon to be introduced law will help in women empowerment as it will prevent women’s abuse in NRI marriages
A soon to be introduced law will help in women empowerment as it will prevent women’s abuse in NRI marriages. Pixabay
  • Efforts are required for training and skill up-gradation of women in traditional, new and emerging areas to promote women’s employment
  • In November the government will honor 100 women achievers
  • Gender Equality is still not reflected in ‘participation in economic activities’ which is not a good thing for women empowerment

New Delhi (India), September 7, 2017: Rakesh Srivastava, Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development said that very soon a law will be finalized which will protect Indian women who are abandoned by their NRI husbands or foreign partners. He said this on 6th September 2107. It will be a praiseworthy step for women empowerment.

Srivastava was present for the inauguration ceremony of 2nd Conference on Women at the workplace- “Role of Leadership”, New Delhi. The Conference was organized by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).

Women Empowerment by increasing job opportunities for women

According to ANI report, Rakesh Srivastava said “India has taken a lead role in gender budgeting in the world. Efforts are also required for training and skill up-gradation of women in traditional, new and emerging areas to promote women’s employment in both organized/unorganized sectors, including entrepreneurial development.”

Women Achievers will be honored

Srivastava also informed that in November the government will honor 100 women achievers. The event will be held in Hyderabad and will possibly be attended by The US President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump. The government decided to honor women achievers will inspire other women to reach great heights of success, this step will foster women empowerment.

Equal Opportunities for Women

He further added that if suitable strategies and also laws which help in women empowerment are implemented- it will ensure equal opportunities for women to enter as well as enjoy decent work in a healthy work environment. This will also include fair and equal wages, health measures, social security measures and occupational safety.

Also Read: Misery of the outcast wives in India by their NRI husbands

Knowledge about Gender Equality will increase Women Empowerment

He cited that gender equality is critical for the development of any country. Srivastava said that by removing barriers which prevent women from having the same access to economic opportunities, education, and productive inputs as men will lead to productivity gains. It is a crucial step to be taken in today’s globalized and competitive world.

Srivastava said, “India has been ranked 87 out of 144 countries on the latest World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Report 2016, but in the economic sphere, much work remains to be done as India ranks 136 in this pillar out of 144 countries.” He added that gender equality is still not reflected in ‘participation in economic activities’ which is not a good thing for women empowerment.

Workforce Participation Rate in Men v/s Women

“In 2011, the workforce participation rate at all India level is 25.51% for women as compared to 53.26% for men. While there is no urban-rural gap for males (53%), there is a considerable rural-urban gap for females, when workforce participation rate for rural women is 30% it is only 15.4% for urban women,” Srivastava said, mentions ANI report.

Also Read: In Netherlands, PM Narendra Modi pitches for Women Empowerment in India

Women Empowerment by building women’s Hostels for widows and women in distress

Rakesh Srivastava, the secretary of Ministry of Women and Child Development also shared that the government is working on women’s hostels that can also be utilized by the widows and women in distress in India.

Srivastava said “Women form an integral part of the Indian workforce. They need to be equal partners in the society for them to be equal participants in work. Women have to contend with discriminatory laws, institutions and attitudes that restrict their leadership and full participation in public life.” He added that what prevents women from becoming effective leaders is unequal access to resources.

October 15 will be observed as ‘Women Farmer’s Day’ all thanks to Krishna Raj, Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare. This move by a minister, noticing rural women’s contribution in farming paves way for women empowerment of rural women.

Krishna Raj said, “Women can make enormous contributions to economies, whether in businesses, on farms, as entrepreneurs or employees, or by doing unpaid care work at home.”

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These 10 Points to Keep in Mind While Planning for Indian Pilgrimage Sites

Indian Pilgrimages are one of the important factors of Indian Tourism

Amarnath Yatra. Wikimedia
  • Every year thousands of people come to India for the Char-Dham Yatra, the Mahamaham temple visit or even the Vaishno Devi temple visits
  • Don’t eat anything that is offered to you there and say complete no to street food
  • Ask around your friends or on the internet forums about the places you are visiting

June 29, 2017: Going to Indian Pilgrimage sites have several religious significance attached to it and people have a deep belief attached to its Spirituality. India is considered as one of the most spiritual lands in the world and spirituality is considered to be the country’s heritage. Every year thousands of people come to India for the Char-Dham Yatra, Amaranth Yatra, Kailash yatra, the Mahamaham temple visit or even the Vaishno Devi temple visits.

Traveling to India can be a blissful experience for anyone but for this experience to remain better in all terms, one has to be aware of many things so that he/she doesn’t get cheated on, fall prey to the conman or compromise with their health. So below are certain points to be kept in mind while traveling for Indian Pilgrimages:

  • Planning the Schedule –Plan the schedule of your pilgrimage and try to stick to the schedule because once you visit these places, you will be taken over by the heavenly beauty of the area and that can end up using your lot of time and money which is a crucial factor.
  • A Little Flexibility is Required Too – While sticking to your planned schedules is most important but that doesn’t mean you can be a little flexible. No one knows what nature has in its play so better be flexible in the schedule to deal with the obstructions in your schedule.

ALSO READ: Exclusive: Photo Exhibition Documents Japan’s Sacred places and Pilgrimages in New Delhi

  • Gain Information – Ask around your friends or on the internet forums about the places you are visiting. You need to get as much information you can get as this might help you know your way and what you are getting into.
  • Watch Your Food Intake – Don’t eat anything that is offered to you there and say complete no to street food. First of all, Indian Food is never good for the stomachs of people coming from abroad and secondly in places like these, you need to keep an extra eye for the hygiene so don’t choose anything from the street and better go for packed foods and fruits.
  • Carry Your Best Trekking Shoes – The paths of most of the hill based pilgrimages are not even and in bad weather, the paths can get even difficult to walk on. So if you don’t want to slip and get hurt, wear your best trekking shoes you have that can handle the walking bit.
  • Carry Proper Clothes – No matter how much you like to stay in fashion, just don’t compromise with the clothes as these places can be quite cold and the people here can withstand cold but if you can’t, then pack your bags with the warmest ones you have.
  • Be Nice – You don’t have to be rude to anyone and that’s a general notion but mostly the people forget it. So just try to be nice to everyone while being in a foreign land because no one knows who you might need the help of.
  • Beware Of Over-Helping People – You need to be cautious of the people who are taking extra steps to help you out. Sometimes the people in these areas are interested in making money than giving any regard to the people in need and you need to stay away from them.
  • Always Inform Relatives Before Leaving – Now this might already be seen on your Instagram profile but you still need to tell your close ones about your trip so at least some people would know where are you and that might be a lot helpful in emergency situations.
  • Physical Ability is Must – While walking, you need to be at your best cause most of the Indian Pilgrimages requires a lot of walking so if you have that knee problem, choose your pilgrims accordingly to avoid any problem.

– by Sumit Balodi of NewsGram. Twitter: @sumit_balodi

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Indians Working Overseas sent home $62.74 billion in 2016, Increase of 68.6 Percent in Last Decade

The money sent by Indians overseas amounted to 3.3 per cent of India's gross domestic product

Remittances to India, Indians working overseas
Sending money home. Pixabay

United Nations June 15, 2017: Indians working overseas sent home $62.74 billion last year, an increase of 68.6 percent in the last decade, according to a UN agency.

India received the most overseas remittances last year, a report by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) issued on Tuesday said.

The money sent by Indians overseas amounted to 3.3 percent of India’s gross domestic product, the report said.

Gulf countries were the primary destination for Indian workers going abroad and the US was a “popular destination”.


The US was the country from which most remittances – $3.6 billion – were made, the IFAD said.

Releasing the report, “Sending Money Home: Contributing to the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), One Family at a Time”, IFAD President Gilbert F. Houngbo spoke of the impact the remittances had on improving the living standards of families in the home countries.

“The small amounts of $200 or $300 that each migrant sends home make up about 60 per cent of the family’s household income, and this makes an enormous difference in their lives and the communities in which they live,” he said.

More than 800 million family members are benefiting from the remittances by over 200 million migrant workers, the IFAD said. This year every one-in-seven persons in the world will either send or receive a share of the $450 billion transferred globally.

“Remittances are expected to remain a stable source of finance to meet the immediate needs and aspirations of millions of families around the world,” the report added.

Even though the average cost of sending money home has decreased from about 10 percent in 2008 to 7.45 percent, it still takes a big chunk out of the remittances. The UN development goals want it to be brought down further to 3 per cent by 2030, the IFAD mentioned in its report.

“If legal and regulatory frameworks facilitate the use of technology and innovation, mobile phones, digital money, Internet-based mobile and Web applications will continue to drive costs down, strengthen financial access, and improve the possibility to deliver additional services,” the report added. (IANS)