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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).”
Every child who grew up in the 90s and the early 00s has certainly grown up around Tom and Jerry, the adorable, infamous cat-chases-mouse cartoon. The idea of naughtiness and playing mischief had the standards that this particular series set for children and defined how much wreckage was funny enough.
The show's creators, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera initially named their characters Jasper and Jinx. They did not plan for the fame that Tom and Jerry brought them when they released a movie by the name of "Puss Gets the Boot". This movie featured a certain cat and mouse who were a notorious pair, named Jasper and Jinx. When the movie became a hit, the names of the characters were changed and the show shot to fame.
Tom and Jerry became a go-to cartoon for children in the early 00s, and it was one of those shows with a firm foundation, that had already been in the running for decades. The original template had been planned nearly 80 years ago, and the makers did not change it. The music that was played in the many episodes, made a breakthrough in its own way. It is the most easily recognizable melody with utterly nostalgic associations.
Today, Tom and Jerry is still a household name in homes where children love cartoons Image credit: wikimedia commons
A set of supporting characters were defined for the show, to occasionally take the focus off the original pair. There was a large, black woman named Mammy Two Shoes and a bulldog who took Jerry's side. Mammy Two Shoes was discontinued because her character portrayed racist tendencies. A tall white woman replaced her, who was kinder and loved mice. Either of the women's faces was never revealed.
Today, Tom and Jerry is still a household name in homes where children love cartoons. There are a host of other shows besides this that aim to replicate the same aspects of the cartoon but do not come close at all. Despite the immense amount of violence in the show, it is a beloved pastime of parents and children alike.
Keywords: Tom and Jerry, Cartoon, Hanna and Barbera, Television
One of India's leading private museums, the Museum of Art & Photography (MAP) Bengaluru, has released new primary research conducted by the ReReeti Foundation, on audience behaviour in India's cultural sector. While more than half of the respondents thought the arts and culture are essential, they rarely manage to make time for it. The majority (60.6 per cent), mostly young people under 30, felt Indian museums could present more engaging content, and most perceived culture as anthropological/ sociological. Of the diverse categories included, music emerged as the most popular cultural activity.
The report is based on a survey of 500 people, which included school and college students, professionals across sectors, homemakers and senior citizens. The first initiative of its kind in the cultural space, the report shares valuable insights into the behaviour and expectations of Indian audiences engaging with a broad range of cultural activities. As part of MAP's mission to foster meaningful connections between communities and the cultural sector globally, which includes its innovative digital programme Museums Without Borders, the report shares a wealth of insights that can help museums across the country understand their audiences better. As much as 60.6 per cent said Indian museums are not experimental enough, and can do more to create engaging content that is also relevant to surrounding communities.As much as 60.6 per cent said Indian museums are not experimental enough, and can do more to create engaging content that is also relevant to surrounding communities.
As much as 60.6 per cent said Indian museums are not experimental enough, and can do more to create engaging content that is also relevant to surrounding communities. | Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Speaking on the recent report, Kamini Sawhney, Director, Museum of Art & Photography (MAP), said, "MAP is focused on changing the notion of a museum in India, by enabling more relevant and inclusive programming, both online and in our space in Bengaluru. The audience research commissioned by MAP, and conducted by the ReReeti Foundation, provides valuable, and actionable insights which we hope will help museums across the country better understand their consumer base, improve decision making and deepen social impact." As much as 62.3 per cent college students and 47.6 per cent professionals/homemakers perceive culture as anthropological and sociological. Music was the most popular cultural event likely to be attended, followed by heritage tours and plays/comedy shows for Indian audiences.
Over 70 per cent of college students visit museums with family and friends; working professionals, homemakers and senior citizens also predominantly visit with groups/ spouses (indicating a need to focus on increased group programming/facilitation). As much as 68 per cent of people were optimistic about going outdoors for activities and events in 2021. As much as 60.6 per cent said Indian museums are not experimental enough, and can do more to create engaging content that is also relevant to surrounding communities.(IANS/MBI)
Keywords: Art, Culture, India, Museum, Music
What is the best way to save Goa from deforestation?
Drinking feni, may well be the answer, says the secretary of the Goa Cashew Feni Distillers and Bottlers Association Hansel Vaz, who on Thursday said, that sipping the state's unique alcoholic drink and making it popular would directly aid the greening of Goa's hills and other barren landscapes.
"To get more cashews, we need to plant more trees. I always say, by drinking feni you will save Goa, because we will be planting more cashew trees and we will have greener hills. The beauty of cashew is you do not need fertile land. You can grow it on a hill which can provide no nutrition. We will be able to grow more trees, if we can sell feni properly," Vaz said. Vaz's comments come at a time when the hillsides of the coastal state have witnessed significant deforestation for real estate development and for infrastructure projects. Feni is manufactured by fermenting and double distilling juice from the cashew apple.
Best way to keep Goa green is to grab yourself a glass of feni. | IANS
Addressing a press conference in Panaji, Vaz also said that the promotion of feni was also in sync with the Prime Minister's vision for India to go "vocal for local". "There is no conglomerate, multinational company owning the drink. So every time we sell feni, it is a direct cash injection into Goa. If you sell a feni cocktail in Calangute (a popular beach village), it makes a direct impact in Valpoi and Bicholim, because this money is going down there," the Association official said at a press conference in Panaji.
The Association held the media briefing to announce a road map ahead for the feni industry, especially vis a vis streamlining aspects related to production, standardisation and marketing of the brew to make it popular in other Indian states and abroad.
The efforts to streamline the state "heritage drink" comes a month after the Goa government notified a formal policy, 'Goa Feni Policy 2021', which covers 26 different varieties of feni distilled in the state. "There were many barriers related to feni, which the policy has now addressed," treasurer of the Association Tukaram Haldankar said. One such hurdle was the previous government classification, which described feni as "country liquor", which would deter tourists from purchasing the drink. The reclassification of feni as a state "heritage drink" has lent dignity to the brew which has been manufactured locally in Goa since the 16th century.
But there is more the government can do, along with the state's traditional distillers and manufacturers to promote feni, Haldankar said. | Photo by Ishvani Hans on Unsplash
But there is more the government can do, along with the state's traditional distillers and manufacturers to promote feni, Haldankar said. "We request the government to allow the sale of feni in duty free stores in airports and cruise liner terminals. The government should also support us through the department of Tourism, so that feni can be promoted in its programmes. iIf you go to Scotland, they promote Scotch. Goa should promote its feni to Goa," Haldankar said, adding that traditional distillers should also be given subsidies and other measures should be taken to standardise feni, which he said, "would require further subsidies and financial assistance from the government".
"It should be a standard product like scotch, champagne," Haldankar said. "Like Mexico's tequila, Russian vodka and Japan's sake, we need to export our feni across the country and the world and the local distillers should also benefit economically," president of the Association Gurudutt Bhakta also said. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: deforestation,cashew,distillers,association,government, goa, feni, India