Dublin: Of the numerous temples established by emigrant Hindus in the various places they settles, the Sri Ganesha Pilgrimage in Ireland is indeed astonishing. However, a visit to a fascinating 22-acre field in Roundwood which houses nine Ganesh idols would not only surprise a person but also mesmerise you. Roundwood is a small village in county Wicklow, southeast of Dublin. Apart from one sitting idol of Sri Ganesh, reading a tome, all the others are either dancing or playing a musical instrument. Notably, the Victoria’s Way collection of black granite Ganesha (Vinayaka) took about nine years to design, model and carve. The sculptures range in size from 5.6ft to 9ft and weigh between 2 and 5 tonnes. The sculptures were envisioned and sketched in Roundwood by park owner Victor Langheld. The sculptures were later modelled by artist DV Murugan in Mahabalipuram (Mamallapuram), Tamil Nadu, India. They were carved in Mahabalipuram by an outstanding sculptor, the stapathi master T Baskaran.
Besides the Ganesh idols, there are idols of Lord Shiva, Durga Devi and a fasting Buddha. Victoria’s Way is a mini pilgrimage that guides the pilgrim from spiritual birth. Passing through the Creation Gate, the pilgrim encounters the different sculptures of Lord Ganesha, who helps the pilgrim reach the wellspring of his spiritual journey. Then the wanderer enters an enchanted forest where he comes across sculptures that symbolize the crossroads of the spiritual quest. They encourage the pilgrim to meditate, and move forward to the final goal: realisation of the true self. A magnificent 15-ft bronze statue of the future Buddha represents the ascetic phase through which all pilgrims must pass.
Victor was born of German Jewish parents in Berlin in 1940. Victor’s father moved to Ireland and settled there with his family. Victor himself started his primary education in Ireland. By the age of 14, he had decided to go to India, keen to become a sadhu and spend his life in the pursuit of enlightenment. Before he had reached 25, Victor was in India. Thereafter, he spent the next 25 years as a wandering monk in India, learning about Hinduism, Buddhism, Yoga, studying the Vedas and Upanishad. He spent some time at the Arobindo Ashram in Pondicherry. He travelled widely through India, spending time at various ashrams, under the tutelage of many gurus.
During his long stay in India, not only did he came to love the country, but his own devotion to Sri Ganesh, arguably the most beloved of the gods, grew. That gave him the idea of starting a Ganesh Park in Ireland. Once the idea took root, it took 20 years for that dream to become reality.
During his long stay in India, Victor learnt that we Indian are absolutely cricket mad. To pay tribute to that passion, he designed a mouse, wearing a cricket cap, with a transistor radio, slung on its shoulder. This venerable vahan (vehicle) of Lord Ganesh stands behind the tabla-playing Ganesh.
Indian devotees of Ganesh make a pilgrimage to 8 shrines of Ganesh. They are scattered all over Maharashtra. It takes two to three days and can be exhausting. From London to Roundwood, Ireland, a similar pilgrimage can be completed in one day and it is a worthy experience.
Fast-food giant McDonald’s revealed a plan to open all of its drive-thru restaurants in the UK in the coming weeks and has”not forgotten” about people in the north of England, it was reported on Monday to World and International News.
The company reopened 39 restaurants in England and Ireland last week as it prepared to get back up and running with new safety measures in place, but all of the English locations were in the south east, reports the Metro nwespaper.
In a message to customers, McDonald’s Chief Executive Paul Pomroy said: “To help us test the new procedures and to slowly restart our supply chain, the pilot restaurants in the UK are all located close to our head office and to one of our distribution centres in the south east.
“I promise I have not forgotten about any part of the UK or Ireland. We are taking our time to test the new ways of working in our restaurants, ensuring that we can continue to help our teams to work safely, and to get back to the communities we have proudly served for so many years.”
Pomroy further said that McDonald’s will make a further announcement this week about reopening more restaurants and expanding its delivery service.
Last week, Police were called to a drive-thru McDonald’s in Peterborough on the first day it reopened after easing of the COVID-19 lockdown because the queue at the outlet went out of hand.
Google is suspending all advertising connected to Ireland’s abortion referendum as part of moves to protect “election integrity,” the company announced Wednesday.
The move came a day after Facebook banned foreign-backed ads in the Irish campaign, amid global concerns about online election meddling and the role of internet ads in swaying voters.
Google said that starting Thursday, it would no longer display ads related to the May 25 vote on whether to repeal Ireland’s constitutional ban on most abortions.
The prohibition on ads connected to the Irish vote applies to both Google and YouTube, which the company owns.
The online search leader, which is based in Mountain View, California, declined to say how much advertising revenue it was giving up because of the decision.
The role of online ads in elections is under scrutiny following revelations that Russian groups bought ads on leading services such as Google and Facebook to try to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. Many of the ads were designed to sow confusion, anger and discord among Americans through messages on hot-button topics.
Karin von Abrams, a London-based analyst with the research firm eMarketer, said banning ads represented a short-term safeguard from potential backlash and reputational damage.
“They won’t want to forgo election-related revenues in the longer term, but they do need to get their houses in order, rather than risk further troubles at this stage,” von Abrams said in an email Wednesday.
Google’s statement followed Facebook’s decision Tuesday to ban foreign advertisements around the abortion referendum, which has drawn worries about the influence of North American groups.
Both Google and Facebook are working on measures to improve transparency before November’s U.S. midterm elections, including tools to show the home country of advertisers.
Ireland bars political donations from abroad, but the law has not been applied to social media advertising. Anti-abortion groups based in the United States are among the organizations that have bought online ads in Ireland during the referendum campaign.
’11th hour’ effort
Irish lawmaker James Lawless, technology spokesman for the opposition Fianna Fail party, welcomed the moves by Google and Facebook, but said “they are rushed and they are coming at the 11th hour,” with just two weeks until voting day.
“It’s a step in the right direction, but it’s an awful pity we couldn’t have done this six months ago,” said Lawless, who has introduced a bill to Ireland’s parliament that would require all online advertisers to disclose the publishers and sponsors behind ads.
Largely Catholic Ireland has Europe’s strictest restrictions on abortion, which is legal only when a woman’s life is in danger. Several thousand Irish women travel each year to get abortions in neighboring Britain.
Foremost among the several gods and goddesses of Hinduism are the Trimurti; Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh, the holy triad that signify supreme divinity in Hinduism – the creater, sustainer and destroyer of the world
New Delhi, October 9, 2017 : Devout Hindus have a god for every occasion and every day – over 33 million, according to popular beliefs. While people of other religions often interpret them as fictional characters, the multiple gods and goddesses of Hinduism are held with utmost devotion and sincerity by the believers.
Ours is a polytheistic religion – in other words, a myriad of gods and goddesses of Hinduism. Foremost among the several gods and goddesses of Hinduism are the Trimurti; Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh, the holy triad that signify supreme divinity in Hinduism – the creator, sustainer and destroyer of the world. These divine forces are known to appear in different avatars, embodied by different gods and goddesses.
In Hinduism, Lord Brahma is the creator of the Universe and the first member of the holy trinity (Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh). However, he is not worshiped as Vishnu or Shiva with only one temple dedicated to him, the Pushkar temple of Rajasthan.
Here are some of the many gods and goddesses of Hinduism.
Vishnu is the second member of the holy Hindu triad, who sustains the entire world – Vishnu is believed to return to the earth during distressed times to restore the balance between good and evil.
Believed to have incarnated nine times, Vishnu symbolizes the principles of order, righteousness, and truth. His associate is Lakshmi, the goddess of family life and prosperity.
Vishnu is always depicted with a blue-colored human body with four hands, each of which carries four different objects – a conch, chakra, lotus flower and mace. The god is shown to ride the Garuda, an eagle.
So far, Vishnu has appeared on earth in various incarnations. These include fish, turtle, boar, Narsimha (half lion, half man), Vamana (dwarf sage with the ability to grow), Parsuram, Ram, Krishna and Buddha. Devotees believe he will re-incarnate in a last avatar, popularly known as ‘Kalki’, close to the end of this world.
Hindus who worship Vishnu are primarily known as Vaishnava and regard him as the greatest god.
One of the members of the holy Hindu trinity, Lord Shiva is as the god of destruction, so that the world may be recreated by Brahma. Thus, his destructive powers are perceived as regenerative: necessary to make renewal possible.
Known by different names like Mahadeva, Nataraja , Pashupati, Vishwanath and Bhole Nath, Shiva is known to have untamed enthusiasm, which drives him to extremes in conduct. It is his relationship with wife Parvati which established the balance. While other gods and goddesses are represented in glorious avatars, Shiva is dressed in plan animal skin and usually sits in a yogic aasana.
Shiva is often addressed as the Lord of Dance, with the rhythm of the dance believed to be symbolic of the balance in the universe, masterfully held by Shiva. His most significant dance form is the Tandav.
Hindus who worship Shiva as their primary god are known as Shaivites.
One of the most popular goddesses of Hindu mythology, Lakshmi gets hers name from the Sanskrit word ‘lakshya’, meaning ambition or purpose. Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth, prosperity and purity and is the associate of Vishnu.
Lakshmi is believed to reside in places of hard work, and sincerity, However, the goddess leaves whenever an individual is overcome with greed or malice or when these qualities are not evident anymore. Hindus believe Sita is an incarnation of Lakshmi. Hence, they worship the goddess of prosperity primarily during Diwali, which commemorated the Hindu epic Ramayana.
Lakshmi is widely represented as an enchanting woman with four arms, settled or standing on a lotus flower.
Devout Hindus worship Lakshmi at temples and inside homes alike, and believe worshipping her with utmost sincerity blesses an individual with success and fortune.
The pot bellied, elephant-headed god Ganesha, also known as Ganpati, Vinayak and Binayak, is the son of Shiva and Parvati. one of the most popular gods and goddesses of Hinduism, Ganesha is revered as the remover of all obstacles, which is why his presence is first acknowledged before beginning any new work.
The lord of success and wealth, Ganesha is also the patron of knowledge and learning; devotees believe he wrote down parts of the Hindu epic Mahabharata with his broken tusk.
Ganesha is typically depicted as a pot-bellied, elephant-headed red colored god, with four arms and a broken tusk. This head is believed to characterize the atma or the soul and the body represents the maya or mankind’s earthly existence. The rats, which can gnaw their way through every hardship, are believed to symbolize Ganesha’s ability to destroy all obstacles.
Lord Ganesha is shown riding mouse, which can gnaw their way through every hardship, are believed to symbolize Ganesha’s ability to destroy all obstacles.
Believed to be the most popular and the most powerful avatar of Vishnu, Krishna is revered as the Supreme Being or the Purana Purushottam out of a list of several hundred gods and goddesses of Hinduism, by several devout Hindus. One of the most loved and mischievous gods, Krishna means ‘black’ and can be believed to denote mysteriousness.
In Hinduism, Krishna takes several different roles- that of a hero, leader, protector, philosopher, teacher and a friend and is believed to have lived on earth between 3200 – 3100 BC. His birth is widely celebrated on the midnight of Ashtami during the month of Shravan, and is called Janmashthami.
Stories of Krishna’s birth, childhood and youth and widely read and circulated, with every mother wanting to have a child like him. His raas with Radha is also remembered widely.
Krishna is held with utmost reverence for his role as the charioteer of Arjuna, as explained in the Mahabharata. It was in the middle of this war that Krishna delivered his famous advice about ‘Nishkam Karma’ which propagated action without attachment, which formed the basis of the Bhagwat Gita.
Krishna is extremely fond of white butter and there are several stories about how he stole butter from gopis throughout his childhood. He is depicted as a dark and extremely handsome, usually depicted with a flute which he used for its seductive powers.
Maryada Purushottam Ram is the ideal avatar of Vishnu. An epitome of chivalry, virtues and ethical demeanor, Ram is the seventh incarnation of Vishnu who is believed to have taken birth to eradicate all evils from the world.
Unlike all other gods and goddesses of Hinduism, Ram is believed to be a historical character, instead of an imaginary figure. The Hindu epic Ramayana is a retelling and celebration of Ram’s life – a tale of his fourteen years in exile with his wife and brother.
Ram’s birthday is celebrated as Ramnavmi, wherein devotees invoke him with religious chants to attain his blessings shield. The festival of lights, Diwali, which is one of the major festivals in Hinduism, is also observed to celebrate the return of Ram, Laksham and Sita back to Ayodhya after an exile of fourteen years.
Ram bears a dark complexion to show his resemblance to Vishnu and his other avatar Krishna, and is almost always depicted with a bow and arrow in his hands and a quiver on his back. Ram also wears a tilak on his forehead. Accompanying the statues of Ram are idols of his wife Sita, brother Lakshman and the celebrated monkey-god Hanuman, who together combine the Ram Darbar.
Daughter of Shiva and Durga, and the consort of Brahma, Saraswati is revered as the goddess of wisdom, learning, speech and music. She is the goddess of knowledge and arts. Devotees often worship the deity before commencing any educational work- books and stationary items are often revered as Saraswati is believed to reside in them.
Saraswati Vandana, religious chants dedicated to the goddess of music often begin and end all Vedic lessons. The goddess also plays songs of wisdom, affection and life on the veena, a string instrument.
Saraswati is visually represented in pure white attire and rides a peacock, with a lotus in one hand and sacred scriptures in the other. She also has four hands that signify the four aspects of learning- mind, intellect, alertness, and ego.
Out of all the 33 million gods and goddesses of Hinduism, devout Hindus believe only Saraswati can grant them moksha- the ultimate emancipation of the soul.