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History of Thanksgiving: Find out how the American Festival is linked to Hindu Roots!

Thanksgiving, one of the major American festivals about relishing the bonds with your family and friends over shared meals is said to have Hindu roots

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Thanksgiving day. Image source: Wikimedia commons
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  • Thanksgiving, one of the major American festivals is said to have Hindu roots in Richard’s book Soul Journey: From Lincoln to Lindbergh
  • In the book, Thanksgiving’s relation to Hindu’s was based on the fact that Sir Abraham Lincoln repeatedly choose Thursdays as national days of prayer
  • Thanksgiving resonates with Diwali where people share food with the hungry and poor just like the former

It’s very easy for a man to sit and wonder about all the things he has lost in life, as life will never let you feel at ease. It’ll never let you feel you’ve got it all sorted! Hence, comes the day of Thanksgiving for his rescue. A time where people give thanks for all that they are blessed with. There’s stuffed turkey, cranberries and a glass of wine on a table shared with families and friends. Although historically speaking, Thanksgiving has its roots in USA and Canada but many nations around the world celebrate it in a secular manner.

But as an Indian-American do you feel left out while you stand and watch a thanksgiving parade pass by? Are Diwali, Holi and the other 99 festivals occupying the entire year not enough for you? Fret not, I present to you the real Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving in the word’s of Richard salve’s book–Soul Journey: From Lincoln to Lindbergh. It’s here to make you feel part of this very American holiday. Now, there’s a way to turn the whole thing vegetarian in an Indian way.

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Abraham Lincoln. Image Source: Wikimedia commons
Sir Abraham Lincoln. Image Source: Wikimedia commons

Soul Journey talks about President Abraham Lincoln’s Hindu origin. It claims that Lincoln was a Himalayan Yogi in his past life and after his death as the 16th President of the United States, he was reborn as Charles Lindbergh. These claims are based on a statement made by Yogananda. Not just this, there were 500 such connections made between Lincoln, Lindbergh, and the Himalayan Yogi.

In the book, Thanksgiving’s relation to Hindu’s was based on the fact that Sir Abraham Lincoln repeatedly choose Thursdays as national days of prayer and fasting, also Thursday is an important holy day in the Indian scriptures where people fast and pray in a similar fashion. It’s interesting to note here that for Hindu’s each day is considered auspicious and is dedicated to one of the 330 million Hindu Gods.

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If the above subtle connection is not going down your throat well then probably the book’s hypothesis that Lincoln set some time aside on Thursdays to grieve over his son, willie’s death might help strengthen the Lincoln and Thursday ideology. The Himalayan Yogi + Auspicious Hindu Thursday’s are an Indian-American’s only tool to not come up short and make his “Thanksgiving, great again”.

On a more serious note, Thanksgiving that was established as an American holiday in 1863 by Lincoln is all about relishing the bonds with your family and friends over shared meals; meals that are not within a poor man’s reach. It’s about giving thanks for the bounty of the harvest and sharing it with the lucked out men and women. Hence, bowing down to the temptation of drawing parallels between American Thanksgiving and Hindu festivals of celebrating the bounty and expressing gratitude towards family members, I feel the need to connect the dots and say that this holiday resonates with Deepawali, which interestingly roughly coincides with Thanksgiving. Diwali is a festival of lights that thanks’ God for all his blessings.

– prepared by Karishma Vanjani of NewsGram. Twitter: @BladesnBoots

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The Other Side of “Hindu Pakistan”

Although, the mainstream parties stay away from nominating Hindus, this time there are many independent Hindu candidates contesting from general seats — mostly from the Sindh province

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Hinduism
The Hindu population in Pakistan is about 1.8% according to the 2018 census, 0.2% more than that of the 1998 and the 1951 figures.

Sagarneel Sinha

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor’s remark that India would become a “Hindu Pakistan” if the BJP is elected again in 2019, sparked off a major debate among the political circles of the country. BJP didn’t let the opportunity go by launching a scathing attack on Tharoor and his party for insulting Hindus and Indian democracy, forcing the Congress party to distance itself from its own MP’s comment. Only one year is left for the next general elections and in a politically polarised environment such comments serve as masala for political battles where perception is an important factor among the electorates.

Actually, Tharoor, through his statement, is trying to convey that “India may become a
fundamentalist state just like its neighbour — Pakistan”. Tharoor is a shrewd politician and his remarks are mainly for political gains. The comments refer to our neighbour going to polls on 25 th of this month which has a long history of ignoring minorities where the state institutions serve as a tool for glorifying the religious majority bloc and ridiculing the minorities. This compelled me to ponder about the participation of the Hindus — the largest minority bloc of the country, in the upcoming polls.

There are total 37 reserved seats for minorities in Pakistan — 10 in the National Assembly
(Lower House), 4 in the Senate (Upper House) and 23 in various state legislatures — 9 in the Sindh assembly, 8 in Punjab and 3 each in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Pakistani Hindus, like other minorities have the dual voting rights in principle. But the reality is they have no rights to vote for their own representatives as the seats are reserved — means the distribution of these seats are at the discretion of parties’ leadership. Practically speaking, these reserved seats are meant for political parties not for minorities. In case of general seats, it is almost impossible for a Hindu candidate to win until and unless supported by the mainstream parties of the country. The bitter truth is — the mainstream parties have always ignored the Hindus by hesitating to field them from general seats. In 2013, only one Hindu candidate — Mahesh Kumar from the Tharparkar district won from a general seat, also became the only minority candidate to make it to the National Assembly from a general seat. This time too, he is nominated by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) — a major centre-left party of Pakistan. However, there are no other Hindu candidates for a general seat from the two other significant centre-right parties — former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and cricketer turned politician Imran Khan’s Tehreek-E-Insaf (PTI). Although, there is a Hindu candidate named Sanjay Berwani from Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) — a Karachi (capital of Sindh province) based secular centrist party of Pakistan.

Shashi_tharoor
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor’s remark that India would become a “Hindu Pakistan” if the BJP is
elected again in 2019, sparked off a major debate among the political circles of the country.

The Hindu population in Pakistan is about 1.8% according to the 2018 census, 0.2% more than that of the 1998 and the 1951 figures. It means that despite the state’s hostile policies, Hindus have been able to remain stable in a highly Islamist polarised society. 90% of the Hindu population of the country lives in the Sindh province. Hindu population in Umerkot,Tharparkar and Mirpur Khas districts of the Sindh province stands at 49%, 46% and 33% respectively — making them the only three substantial Hindu districts of the country. The three districts have 5 National Assembly and 13 Provincial seats. However, Hindus have never well represented from these seats.

Although, the mainstream parties stay away from nominating Hindus, this time there are many independent Hindu candidates contesting from general seats — mostly from the Sindh province. Many of them belong to the Schedule caste — the Dalit community. A recent report based on Pakistan Election Commission’s data says that out of 2.5 lakh women of Tharparkar district, around 2 lakh of them are not included in the electoral list — means that they are not entitled to vote for the upcoming general elections. All over the country, there are about 1.21 crore women voters who will not be able to vote in the elections. The reason is the lack of an identity card. Most of them are poor who are unable to pay the expenses required for an identity card. This has made difficult for independent Hindu Dalit candidates like Sunita Parmar and Tulsi Balani as most of their supporters will not be voting in the upcoming polls. In Tharparkar district, around 33% percent are the Hindu Dalits — brushed aside by the mainstream parties. The reserved seat candidates are based on party nominations, where mainly the upper caste Hindus are preferred. Radha Bheel, a first time contestant and the chairperson of Dalit Suhaag Tehreek (DST), a Dalit organisation, says that the fight is for the rights of the lower socio-economic class and scheduled castes. Sunita, Tulsi, Radha and the other independent Hindu candidates know
that the possibility of winning from the general seats is bleak but for them the contest is for their own identity — an identity never recognised by the political parties and the establishment of Pakistan.