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By Sohini Biswas
With billions of followers, Hinduism is not only restricted to India but is embraced by the world. Considered as one of the oldest paths toward meaningful living, its essence could be felt in its great history.
One way to feel the real meaning of this global religion is to reflect upon the beautiful temples which have been built across the world. Hindu temples are very scientific buildings which have been built based on the study of Agam Shastra which has three main divisions called the Shaiva, the Shaktha, and the Vaishnava.
Across the world places like Angkor Wat, Batu caves have enthralled the mystics and seekers alike. Here are a few more temples spread across the globe that hold special place in Hindu culture.
- Angkor Wat Temple, Cambodia
Angkor Wat is one of the largest religious monuments ever constructed and is a part of UNESCO world heritage centre now. First a Hindu, later transformed to a Buddhist, temple complex in Cambodia, was built by Khmer King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century in Yasodharapura. The temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, is a replica of Angkor Thom art style.
It is generally accepted that Angkor Wat was a funerary temple and oriented to west to conform the symbolism between the setting sun and death. The bas-reliefs, designed for viewing from left to right in the order of Hindu funereal ritual, support this function. Buong Suong Tiyaie is a ritual followed here and is performed by five virginal dancers from the Nginn Karet Foundation.
- Prambanan, Central Java, Indonesia
Narrating stories of Vishnu’s incarnations, adventures of Hanuman the Monkey King, the Ramayana epic and other legends, with exquisite bas relief carvings this Hindu temple Prambanan in Yogyakarta is now a UNESCO world heritage site.
This temple was built in 850 CE, has 8 main shrines which are surrounded by 250 smaller ones. The inner square contains 16 temples dedicated to major Hindu deities, of which Shiva temple is the largest. Bhuta Yajna Ritual, is performed here a day before Nyepi, (New Years Day)
- Sri Subramaniar Swamy Devasthanam (Batu Caves, Malaysia)
Batu Caves are a series of limestone caves situated at a distance of 13 km north of Kuala Lumpur, in Gombak district. Outside India it is one of the most popular and tallest shrines of Lord Murugan, standing at 42.7 meters. In 1890, K. Thamboosamy Pillai, an Indian trader installed the Murugan statue and promoted the caves as a place of worship.
Yearly Hindu festival Thaipusm in Malaysia is celebrated in this temple complex. Thaipusam attracts a large number of pilgrims from Malaysia as well as from India, Australia and Singapore.
- Katasraj Temple in Chakwal, Pakistan
In existence since the days of Mahabharata, the Katasraj temple is located in the Chakwal district of Punjab near Lahore in Pakistan. The Pandavas are said to have taken refuge here during their days of exile. Legend has it that when Lord Shiva’s wife, Sati, died. He cried so much that two pools were created. One is located in Pushkar in India and the other was formed here.
The temple here is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The Pakistan Government is considering nominating the temple complex for World Heritage Site status.
- Munneswaram Temple, Sri Lanka
This temple is dates back to the time of Ramayana. It is believed that here Lord Rama prayed to Lord Shiva and won the battle against Ravana. It is a temple complex comprising of five temples. This temple is also dedicated to Lord Shiva.
This temple has been destroyed twice in the past by the Portuguese before it was finally handed over to the Jesuits who rebuilt it. This temple celebrates Shivratri and Navratri with a lot of grandeur.
- Shiva Vishnu Temple in Livermore, California
One of the biggest in the bay area, this temple incorporates the best of both North and South Indian Hindu temples, with respect to its architecture. In 1985 Tamil Nadu government donated most of the deities here. The temple has deities of innumerable Gods and Goddesses –Shiva, Ganesha, Durga, Aiyappa, Lakshmi etc. The famous Hindu festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi and Durga puja is celebrated here
There are other temples of Shiva Vishnu in Denver, Colorado, Washington D.C. and South Florida.
- Shiva Vishnu Temple in Melbourne, Australia
Fourteen acres of land, worth $72,300 was purchased in Carrum Downs to build a Shiva temple at Melbourne in Australia . The first puja here was performed in early 1986 following which the construction of the two primary shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva and Vishnu began in 1987.
Since then, after years of planning by the Hindu Society of Victoria and the hard work of a team of skilled craftsmen from India, the Shiva Vishnu Temple at Carrum Downs was opened to devotees in 1994. This temple’s architecture is the combination of Hindu and Australian traditions.
Thirty two deities are worshipped based on elaborate rituals and Indian festivals like Holi and Diwali is also celebrated.
- Sri Venkateswara Balaji Temple (Tividale, England)
Designed to replicate the Tirupati Thirumala Temple in Tirupati, India, Sri Venkateswara Balaji Temple was opened in August 23, 2006. . It was the first temple of Lord Venkateswara in Europe. The main shrine houses 12ft statue of Lord Venkateswara, incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
- Tanah Lot Temple, Indonesia
Pura Tanah Lot, is a pilgrimage temple off the Indonesia island of Bali. The temple sits on a large offshore rock which has been shaped continuously over the years by the ocean tide. Purnama Kesanga, or full moon in Bali is always a special day for ceremonies and festivities which are celebrated in this temple.
The Tanah Lot temple was built and has been a part of Balinese mythology for centuries. The temple is one of seven sea temples around the Balinese coast. Each of the sea temples was established within eyesight of the next to form a chain along the south-western coast. In addition to Balinese mythology, the temple was significantly influenced by Hinduism.
- Pashupatinath Temple (Kathmandu, Nepal)
Pashupathinath Temple is one the most important temples of Lord Shiva in the world. It is the oldest Hindu temple in Kathmandu. It was constructed in 753AD by Jayadeva, but it was reconstructed in 12th century and 17th century due to extensive damages caused by termites. The temple has unique architecture, different from traditional Hindu temples of India.
It has a Nepalese Pagoda style of architecture. Only followers of Hinduism can enter the main temple, but all the other buildings are available for foreigners to visit. It is also very common to meet sadhus in Pahsupathinath. This temple is also on UNESCO world heritage site.
The symbol of Swastika is known to signify peace, prosperity, and good fortune in the religious cultures of Eurasia. In fact, this symbol is considered very significant in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. But, at the same time, it has become one of the most misunderstood religious symbols and has been globally banned in many countries.
The reason why the symbol of Swastika is banned in many countries is because of its association with Adolf Hitler's extreme political ideology, Nazism, as Swastika as its official symbol.
Austria, France, Latvia, Spain, Germany, and Russia are amongst the many countries that have banned the display and use of the Swastika.
Moreover, last week Victoria in Australia is preparing to become the first-ever state to ban the public display of the Swastika. This is a step towards an expansion of anti-vilification laws in the state.
Representation of the Swastika on the flag of Adolf Hitler's Nazi Movement.Photo by Flickr.
Now, we must know and understand what went wrong with this symbol, which is sacred and signifies all-good things.
For a very, very long time, in India, the Swastika is the first emblem that is worshipped or even drawn before any sacred and auspicious ceremonies as this symbol in Sanskrit represents 'well-being'. But, the Swastika lost all its credibility when it was wrongfully used by Adolf Hitler.
In fact, it is believed that if this symbol is worshipped properly, then it gives positive results. But if it is abused, then it gives negative results. So, when Adolf Hitler rotated the Swastika at 45 degrees, it slowly and steadily brought misery not only to Adolf Hitler and his theory of Nazism but also to all the people who were associated with him.
Therefore, in order to give the kind of respect and credibility which the Swastika deserves, World Interfaith Harmony Week which was held in New York in February this year, interfaith groups appealed to the United Nations to recognize and acknowledge the Swastika as an important and peaceful symbol. In fact, they also differentiated it from the Hakenkreuz or "Hooked Cross" of Adolf Hitler.
India celebrated a historic day on August 7, as 23-year-old Neeraj Chopra became the first Indian to win an Olympic gold medal in athletics. In the men's javelin throw event, he achieved his greatest triumph, throwing the javelin 87.58 meters on his second try.
Neeraj Chopra was born on December 24, 1997, in Khandra village in Haryana's Panipat district. He grew up in a Haryanavi family of farmers. He is the brother of two sisters. He graduated from Dayanand Anglo-Vedic College in Chandigarh and is now enrolled in Lovely Professional University in Jalandhar, Punjab, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree. Chopra was bullied due to his obesity as a kid, which prompted his father to enroll him in a nearby gym. He then joined a gym in Panipat, where Jaiveer Choudhary, a javelin thrower, noticed his potential and coached him. When the 13-year-old Chopra finished training under Jaiveer for a year, he was enrolled at the Tau Devi Lal Sports Complex in Panchkula, where he began training under coach Naseem Ahmed.
In 2018, he broke the world record in the javelin throw and became India's first-ever gold medalist in the javelin throw. He is also a laureate of the Arjuna Award for 2018. | Wikimedia Commons
Chopra's first international medal came in 2014, as he took home a silver medal at the Youth Olympic Qualification Tournament in Bangkok. In 2015, he set a world record in the junior category of 81.04 meters in the 2015 All India Inter-University Athletics Meet.
Since emerging into the public eye with a historic gold medal at the junior world championships in 2016, he has maintained a high level of performance, setting an Under-20 world record of 86.48m, which still stands. Gold medals in both the 2018 Commonwealth Games and the 2018 Asian Games are among his other accomplishments, including a first-place in the 2017 Asian Championships. In 2018, he broke the world record in the javelin throw and became India's first-ever gold medalist in the javelin throw. He is also a laureate of the Arjuna Award for 2018.
Chopra has also had his share of bad events in life. In 2019, he underwent surgery on the elbow of his right throwing arm, which kept him out of the game for almost a year. However, he returned more robust than ever. In November 2019, he went to South Africa to train from Klaus Bartoneitz. He spent the following year in India training at the NIS Patiala because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He was allowed to go to France with his coach after weeks of trying to get a travel visa.
Neeraj Chopra made history in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics by becoming the first Indian to win a gold medal in athletics. Also, it is worth mentioning that after Abhinav Bindra, Chopra is only the second Indian to win an individual gold medal.
Keywords: Neeraj Chopra, Olympics, Tokyo2020, Gold medal, javelin, India, Haryana
The emergence of the Industrial Revolution in Victorian England brought with it many apprehensions and fears that translated into a new genre in literature: the gothic. Today, the idea of the gothic does not have to much with literature as much as it is associated with fashion.
The Victorians began to wear black more often during the Industrial Revolution to hide the stains of soot on their clothes. Many of the working class were employed in factories. They were newly introduced to technology, the idea of coal as fuel, and the working of machines to serve a certain purpose. This kind of work was hard and messy. Wearing light colours burdened the tired folk when the stubborn stains did not get washed away.
The steam engine was invented to make locomotion easier for the masses, but it brought fear to the people. They had led quiet and simple lives till now, and suddenly their world was infiltrated with loud noises and smoke. Dark places became synonymous with evil deeds and mysteries. It was from this time that horror gained a place in the imaginations of people and artists.
A man sporting gothic clothes and shock coloured hair Image source: wikimedia commons
The gothics of today are those who have held on to these practices. There is no need to fear smoke and noise anymore, but the goths wear black clothes all the time, paint their skin a pale shade, to contrast their clothes, and wear bright shades of red. The traditional gothics decorated themselves with jewellery bearing religious significances, as the belief in Dracula and vampires emerged in the Victorian period. Today, it is a trend to wear studded crosses, or crosses made of black metal either as neck chokers, or earrings.
Modern goths also wear bright monotones to show their patronage of a certain style or order of the goths. They can be seen in neon shades of green, pink, and yellow, often sporting piercings, and matching hair. Their tastes are metallic, and they have an uncanny love for tattoos.
Designers consistently include gothic tastes and styles in their clothing lines to create inclusivity for this subculture. Being gothic, or identifying with them is somewhat a concern even in today's society, and such people are often stigmatised to the extent that it is considered a mental illness associated with the dark arts. The phenomenon is mostly observed in teenagers, and often phases out when they reach adulthood, depending on their sphere of influence.
Keywords: Gothic, Fashion, Victorian, Black, Jewellery