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New York, April 25 : Singing of kirtans at an Ivy League university has drawn protests from a section of Indian students there. Arul Louis of IANS reports.
The performance by Carrie Grossman, who has adopted the Hindu name Dayashila, was disrupted Thursday by protesters claiming that by singing kirtans she as a white person was wrongly “appropriating” elements of Hinduism.
They used radical leftist terminology like white privilege, structural change and “radical love” to oppose what they called “cultural appropriation” by a white person.
“Cultural appropriation,” according to those who protest it, happens when people use or performs elements from a culture not their own.
Many in the audience confronted the protesters, who eventually left the event and staged a sit-in outside.
“Several audience members turned around and asked them to be quiet,” The Brown Daily Herald reported. “In addition, some of the audience members stood up and moved to where the protesters were sitting to ask them to leave.”
Rajan Zed, the president of US-based Universal Society of Hinduism, called the protests at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island state, “sad and inappropriate.”
“Color of the person should not matter in devotional singing and anybody should be able pay respectful homage to Hindu deities through kirtan or other forms,” Zed said. “Kirtan offered means to connect to the heart, to the divinity that lies within.”
He asked Brown University president Christina H. Paxson and chancellor Thomas J. Tisch to “make sure that such unreasonable interruptions did not happen at the Hindu events on the campus in the future” and to hold a formal inquiry into the disruption.
The Herald reported that Grossman, a Brown University alumna, told her audience that she discovered kirtans during visit to India and “found (chanting) very powerful and very healing.”
Describing her mission to spread the singing of kirtans, Grossman writes on her website about her experience in the third person: “At the altar of her instrument she called out to the divine and unburdened her heart. This process was profoundly healing and, the more she did it, the more she felt drawn to share her sound with the world.”
She has produced a recording, “Soma Bandhu,” that features hymns like “Om Nama Shivaya,” “Jai Ma” and “Sarve Bhavantu.”
Although the protesters used radical leftist rhetoric, their agenda appears to be a form of selective opposition to conversions or religious interactions – in effect, banning those not born Hindu from singing Hindu religious hymns or participating in rituals.
Christian fundamentalist also oppose non-Hindus participating in Hindu cultural or health practices. From New York to California, some Christians have protested yoga practice in schools. Most recently fundamentalists in Georgia protested against the namaste greeting during yoga.
However, similar protests are not held by those claiming to be against “cultural-appropriation” when non-Christians sing Christian hymns or participate in Christian observances.
Most of those in a picture published by Herald of the demonstration against the kirtan performance were white and African American, with few Indians.
Wearing bindi or pottu by non-Indian women have also been crticised as “cultural appropriation.”
In the face of protests, the Contemplative Studies Departmental Undergraduate Group, which organised the kirtan, issued an apology saying that they “humbly acknowledge that those intentions (in arranging the event) do not preclude harm and hurt that we may have inflicted,” the Herald reported.
Ironically, Anchal Saraf, one of the protesters with an Indian name quoted in the media, was a signatory to a petition demanding freedom of expression at Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Freedom of expression in US universities is under threat not from the government, but from students and faculty. At elite universities like Yale, students have in the past year explicitly protested freedom of expression on campuses and tried to silence professors and students not conforming to their version of liberal or radical views.
Even media faculties are not immune despite freedom of expression being at the core of journalism. Last year, a journalism teacher at University of Missouri, who supported an African American student protest, instigated an attack on an Asian American photographer trying to record it in a public place that guaranteed his constitutional rights. (Arul Louis, IANS)
NewsGram adds: The website of Carrie Grossman says this in the introduction:
“Carrie Grossman (Dayashila) is a devotional artist whose creative offerings explore the wild terrain of the heart. A lifelong student and practitioner of the mystical traditions, she brings a modern, feminine voice to ancient wisdom.”
“At the age of 21, Carrie first traveled to India where she was exposed to kirtan (call and response mantra chanting). The beauty of the practice inspired her to sing, but due to shyness and self-doubt, 10 years went by before the music within her emerged. It wasn’t until her life descended into a dark and difficult period that she spontaneously began to write songs and play the harmonium. At the altar of her instrument she called out to the divine and unburdened her heart. This process was profoundly healing and, the more she did it, the more she felt drawn to share her sound with the world. She has since self-produced two albums: Soma-Bandhu: Friend of the Moon (2010) and The Ram Sessions (forthcoming 2016).”
As the nation celebrated the 114th birth anniversary of his father - renowned poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan - megastar Amitabh Bachchan remembered his dad as he penned a heartfelt note for him. The actor took to his blog where he poured his heart out and also shared an unseen photo with his father. The image in question is from Big B's wedding in 1973, where the two are caught in a sweet moment as they look at each other.
Amitabh Bachchan wrote on his blog,
"My Father , my all .. November 27th his birth in the year 1907 .. Which makes it his 114th Anniversary .. He is in the heavens, with my Mother and they celebrate .. as do we , in thought word and deed .. (sic). But first."
He then posted the picture followed by elaborate paragraphs. The megastar wrote,
"Those rare moments when one would find himself rushing against the winds to prevent the distance between us and to close it down as soon as it can be. The day of my wedding and his expression of fulfilment to not just be in congratulation but instead to be in the face of a belief, a chime, an ultimate season of love and great passion, of the quarries of the fears and conditionings of these deprived gym routines kart ..(sic)". "This could have been unknown for long facilitating years, to give not expected versions and lastly large scale informations of the insides ; but as time passed by, as does now , they explained purposely, the values of education and similarity .. Be in peace and love .. (sic)",
the veteran actor concluded his note. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Amitabh Bachchan, Harivansh Rai Bachchan, actor, blog, birth anniversary, 114th birthday
By Plabita Sharma
The World Vegan month of November usually brings with itself an increased amount of dialogue and searches about Vegan lifestyle, sustainable living and clean beauty. Before pondering any further, it is important to understand what the Vegan lifestyle is and how it goes beyond the concept of consuming a plant-based diet. Veganism essentially is a lifestyle that is driven by compassionate choices and an increased awareness of one's actions on the world. Thus motivated by the two, a vegan individual usually carefully curates their day-to-day practices in a manner that does little to no- harm to the planet, the people and all of its inhabitants.
Beauty as industry has time and again been scrutinised for its effects on the consumers and the ecosystem - this can be during the manufacturing process or the effect it has on the consumer's thought processes. Now, as the world moves towards adopting Global Sustainability Goals, committing to a world that works with the natural resources instead of against them - it is only fair for each individual to be curious about making the right choices to make their beauty bag as consciously curated as possible. With multiple brands coming up with new standards of vegan and sustainable beauty, many consumers are left confused and doubting the authenticity of these claims. So here is a quick guide that can help you make the right choices:
Vegan and cruelty free labels: Keeping true to the traditional meaning of Vegan - any vegan beauty product means that it is completely plant based and has no animal ingredients or any of their by-products like honey, beeswax, dairy product etc. Similarly, cruelty-free as a label means that the ingredients or the final product did not test on animals or harm any animals during the production process. One way to test the authenticity is to check if these products are legally certified by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), or verified by Vegan organisations as The Vegan Society and others. Cruelty-free and vegan products are also generally categorized by having cleaner and gentler formulas as they are mostly deprived of harsh chemicals and solvents.
Any vegan beauty product means that it is completely plant based and has no animal ingredients or any of their by-products like honey, beeswax, dairy product etc. | Photo by Drew Dizzy Graham on Unsplash
Ethical and natural ingredients: It is equally important to invest in products that use ethically sourced and sustainably harvested ingredients. Since most vegan products tend to be plant derived it is of utmost value to ensure that while the source is nature, the impact of manufacturing is also minimal so that there is no harm done to the environment. Often the face scrubs used by us are most damaging not just to the face and to the marine life as well; thus opting for more natural ingredients rather than synthetic ones is quite beneficial. Some natural scrubbing ingredients are sugar, salt, coffee which are safe for the coral reefs and far gentler than synthetic scrubs.
It is equally important to invest in products that use ethically sourced and sustainably harvested ingredients. | Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash
Sustainable and ecofriendly packaging: While the ingredients and formulation can be certified, it is also important to pay attention the quality, material and nature of the packaging in which the product is being stored. With an increase in clean-beauty standards, the consumption of such products has also increased, thus giving brands the opportunity to further develop their packaging in a manner that is sustainable and its increased quantity does not harm the environment. This could translate into using raw materials that are recycled and can be renewed or even introducing the concept of up-cycling the product packaging for decoration or storage purposes. Fore example, The Body Shop has recently launched a new line of vegan hair care and body butters; that are not only made of 95 per cent ingredients of natural origin but the packaging is made of recycled plastic that can further be recycled thus continuing the recycling system. Their makeup brushes also have wooden handles instead of plastic ones this adds to their classy appearance and use of ecofriendly material.
The Body Shop has recently launched a new line of vegan hair care and body butters; that are not only made of 95 per cent ingredients of natural origin but the packaging is made of recycled plastic. | Photo by Oli Dale on Unsplash
The above is a small snippet in a long list of things that can help contribute to a cleaner and more consciously lifestyle. Where demand increase, supply follows - as people begin to demand ethical, responsible production and products, more and more brands have begun to deliver. Household names such as The Body Shop have pioneered conversations on clean, green and sustainable beauty for decades - thus making them a frontrunner for several old time vegan people.
(Article originally published on IANSlife) (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Beauty, makeup, clean, November, World Vegan month, New Standards , Vegan, Conscious
Designer Payal Singhal launched her first ever shop in New Delhi at Aza, Ambawatta One, Mehrauli. At this new location, she also unveiled "Suroor" her Winter Festive' 2021 collection for Women that stays true to the brand's DNA of deconstructing and reimagining traditional Indian silhouettes for the modern aesthete.
The collection is replete with hybrid lehenga with cut-outs, sharara sets, kaftan kurtas and anarkalis; all enhanced with intricate mukaish, zardozi, gota, nakshi, pitta and mirror work. Statement yokes, the latest take on the House's signature back-tie choli, and a new burst of #PSPrints are also an integral part of the collection. For the first time, Payal has worked with bandhanis developed in Jaipur, but with her inimitable twist - using the technique on tussar instead of silks. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Winter, Suroor, New Delhi, Designer, Payal Singhal, shop