The Hindu evolution in Holland: From a fringe group to a thriving community

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By Gaurav Sharma

The winds of globalisation have sprinkled Hindus in various parts of the world. One such place sheltering the burgeoning Hindu population is the Netherlands. Housing a sizeable proportion of immigrants from India, Sri Lanka and South America, Netherlands is home to about 150,000-200,000 Hindus.

The present scenario is drastically different from the 1960’s when barely ten Indian families, who were presumably representing the Hindu denomination, lived in the Dutch nation. The number gradually started to pick up pace in the 1970’s, when a major chunk of the Indians started immigrating from the South American nation of Surinam.

The Surinam Indians were essentially bonded labourers who had emigrated to the Dutch colony in the late 19th Century. With Surinam eventually gaining independence in 1975, many Indians started looking for better avenues, in light of the uncertainty facing the coastal Atlantic state.

Majority of these Indian emigrants, practised Hinduism and belonged to what are now the modern-day states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh. With their subsequent immigration to the Netherlands, the Hindu population in the country also started growing by leaps and bounds. Eventually, the Hindu diaspora in the Netherlands grew almost tenfold, from close to 35,000 in the 1980’s to more than 150,000 in the 2000’s.

Now, more than 50,000 Hindus live in Hague alone. Other major cities such as Rotterdam and Amsterdam also comprise a significant portion of the total Hindu population living in the Netherlands.

Although still considered a minority religion in the Netherlands, Hinduism is much better organized here, than in other western countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States.

There are five Hindu schools funded by the Hindu community in the country, which are deemed as national schools. The schools, despite teaching Hindi, the epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata, and celebrating the Hindu festivals, follow the same curriculum as other schools.

(Video by: apna.nl)

The Hindus have also established their own Human Rights group called ‘Agni’, in order to address the grievances of the community and to highlight the atrocities that are sometimes encountered by them.

Besides hosting their own radio program, the Hindu community also broadcasts its own 30 minute weekly program, ‘Ohm’, on the national television.

They also have their own charity called ‘Seva Netverk’, to help people around the world. The projects majorly revolve around setting up of schools in dilapidated villages and rescuing girls from the vicious circle of prostitution.

The Hindu population in the Netherlands does not pledge allegiance to any one school of Hindu thought. They are not staunch adherents of one particular path, but rather comprise of diverse groups of religious practitioners.

While some practice the mainstream Hindu tradition, and some follow the Arya Samaj movement, others are captivated by the new age movements of Hare Krishna and Transcendental Meditation. There are also a bunch of people practising Hinduism with a mixture of other theosophical beliefs.

The festivals of Holi and Diwali are celebrated with much gusto and elan by the Hindus, whilst also actively engaging people from all backgrounds and belief systems. The fantastic display of water and colours have captivated the minds of Dutch people so much, that public events celebrating such festivals are now held in major cities such as The Hague and Rotterdam.

In spite of being besieged by an eclectically dense population of around 16 million people, the relatively sparse Hindu community has managed to carve out a niche for the unique culture of India.

The Indian diaspora in Netherlands has kept the fabric of Hinduism thriving and throbbing by holding onto their identity, despite the challenges of secularism, religious conversion and anglicized education system.

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Author Maria Wirth Shares Her Opinions on The Idea of Hinduism

Author Maria Wirth speaks on Religion, Indian Culture, etc

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Maria Wirth
A picture of Author Maria Wirth. Facebook

By Muskan Bhantagar

Author Maria Wirth belongs to Germany and has been living in India from past 38 years.  She is the author of the book ‘Thank You India: A German Woman’s Journey to the Wisdom of Yoga’. Newsgram gets in a conversation with her over a telephonic interview. Here’s an excerpt:

Muskan Bhantagar: 38 years back when you came to visit india, what was the thing about indian culture or precisely hinduism that made you fall in love with it and stay back in India?

Maria Wirth: Actually, it was not too much India that attracted me. When I was in Germany still i had many questions like i was very much intrested in what is life and what is the meaning of life and I was reading on Buddhism at a time and I was not connecting Buddhism to India strangely, and i knew very little about India. So a friend convinced me to stop over in India and only when i bought a book by Swami Vivekananda, i discovered what great treasure is in India. I had no idea, anything about what Hinduism is about. it’s just what you hear usually in the west, is about caste systems,etc. So I didn’t associate India with anything positive actually and then by chance, I discovered there’s such a great treasure here and it is such a pity that we don’t know about it.

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Maria recalls how initially she could not relate India with anything positive. Pixabay

Muskan Bhantagar: As we read in your articles that Islam and christianity have been promoting and propogating their religion for years now, but the hindus don’t do so. What do you think can be the reason behind this? 

Maria Wirth: Well I think, I was just writing an article I mean when you think how much Hindus have suffered over the last thousand years. So many were beheaded and tortured under the Muslims and then again under the British also. British were also very very brutual, especially after 1857 and etc. And hindus had no way to stand up for their religion. And I think this has gone very deep into the system of Hindus.

And then ofcourse after Independence, this secular education and even Hinduism is now put down even more than earlier. Earlier, education was not so under the Muslims, they had to lie low but they could still have gurukuls and their schools but not now.

So I think one reason is that you have been intimidated so much and also expect so much and like Arun Shourie, in his book he writes that 6th standard students learn in school, etc in Bengal that Islam and Christianity are the only religions which treat the human beings with dignity and equality. I mean such sentences. When you’re a child, it goes into you and then you just look down on it. And I think slowly slowly, even parents of these children say they have been brought up already like this.

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Maria says that Hindus were previously tortured under the Islamic Community. Pixabay

Muskan Bhantagar: A large number of Indians are unaware about their own culture and heritage. What do you think can be a solution to this problem?

Maria Wirth: I mean it should get also in the schools. I was so shocked when I came to know that nothing is taught in Indian schools. Neither Mahabharata, Ramayana, Upanishad. Upanishad is philosophy, there is nothing to do with religion. It was very insidious that the British kind of bend or this stuff from being taught, because it doesn’t help them because it would make people strong. They wanted to destroy Indian sanskriti, Indian culture because it has lot of strength. Now like the young generation in India, they were brain-washed into believing that Hinduism is not worth anything. It’s so wrong, so wrong.

Author Maria Wirth spoke to us over various topics. We’re thankful to her for taking out time to talk to us and share her wise opinions. We hope to get more of her soon and help viewers know her better.

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The White House Echoes With Recitation of Hindu Vedic “Shanti Paath”

Religion also plays an open role in election campaigns

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Introducing the peace prayer at the multi-religious service on Thursday, Pujari Harish Brahmbhatt said, "In these troubled times of COVID-19, social distancing, and the lockdown, it's not unusual for people to feel anxious or not at peace". IANS

The Vedic Shanti Paath derived from the Yajurveda has been recited at the White House during the National Day of Prayer by a pujari from a Swaminarayan temple.

Introducing the peace prayer at the multi-religious service on Thursday, Pujari Harish Brahmbhatt said, “In these troubled times of COVID-19, social distancing, and the lockdown, it’s not unusual for people to feel anxious or not at peace.”

Making a spiritual prescription for these troubled times, he said, “The Shanti Paath, or the peace prayer, is a prayer that does not seek worldly riches, success, fame, nor is it a prayer for any desire for heaven. It is a beautiful Hindu prayer for peace a” Shanti.

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Brahmbatt is from the Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Sanstha Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Robbinsville, New Jersey.

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The Vedic Shanti Paath derived from the Yajurveda has been recited at the White House during the National Day of Prayer by a pujari from a Swaminarayan temple. Pixabay

Representatives of various Christian sects, Judaism and Islam participate in the service with US President Donald Trump.

Religion plays a central role in public affairs in the US and has evolved from dominance by protestant denominations to being more inclusive with the participation of other Christian sects and other religions.

ALSO READ: This Hacker Group is Selling User Data From 10 Firms For INR 13.6 Lakh Approx

Both chambers of Congress and several state legislatures start their sessions with a prayer. Religion also plays an open role in election campaigns. (IANS)

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What Gives Advocate Prashant Bhushan Right to Hurt Hindu Religious Sentiments?

Most communists hide behind the veil of corruption and pass out anti-hindu comments. Lawyer Prashant Bhushan is one such example

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Prashant Bhushan
This isn't the first time that Prashant Bhushan has made such inconsiderate remarks that hurt hindu religious sentiments. Flickr

By Kanan Parmar

Lawyer Prashant Bhushan was slammed by the Supreme Court (SC) after his offensive remarks against the Union Minister Prakash Javedkar who had earlier shared a picture of him watching the Hindu mythological show ‘Ramayana’ amid the nationwide lockdown.

The lawyer had tweeted:
“As crores starve and walk hundreds of miles home due to the lockdown, our heartless ministers celebrate consuming and feeding the opium of Ramayana & Mahabharata to the people!”

The SC replied to Bhushan by saying that people can watch whatever they wish to on television.

After Prashant Bhushan’s critical Anti-Hindu comments, Jaidev Rajnikant Joshi, a former army personnel from Rajasthan filed an FIR claiming that the lawyer has been insensitive with his comments and had hurt religious sentiments.

According to an OpIndia report, “The Supreme Court on Friday granted interim protection from arrest to Advocate Prashant Bhushan in FIR registered against him by Gujarat police alleging hurting of religious sentiments. Posting the matter to be heard after two weeks, the court issued a notice to the Gujarat Government, ordering them to not take any coercive action against the defendant till the next day of the hearing.”

The question that arises in the minds of many is that why the lawyer has a problem with people watching Hindu epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata. His words are equal to spitting venom on Hindus.

Prashant Bhushan
Lawyer Prashant Bhushan was slammed by the Supreme Court after his offensive anti-Hindu remarks. Wikimedia Commons

This isn’t the first time the lawyer has made such inconsiderate anti-Hindu comments. Let us have a look at some of his tweets that prove he is callous and insensitive.

Dr. Munish Raizada from Chicago- who too had been part of anti-corruption party Aam Aadmi party along with Prashant Bhushan- says, “People have the right to practice the religion of their choice or be an atheist. That is fine! However, that does not give people the right to demean or mock people having religious or cultural faiths and preferences. There have been instances when these (Indian) communists and atheists have disrespected people of the Hindu religion but they seem to be blissfully blind when it comes to Islamic and Christian practices.”

According to Raizada, Prashant Bhushan isn’t the only hypocrite out there. There are many people like him with the same mindset. It is interesting to observe that AAP has been sheltering a bunch of left loonies right from the beginning in various shades. He points out that reflecting back, the very first National Executive committee of AAP has at least 50 % members as communists or a paler shades of that. Was it a trap in the name of anti-corruption? Bhushan is on records while being a part of AAP saying that if AAp comes to power, the industry would be under state control (typical communist economic mind set, where as it is well know that this economic theory has miserably failed).

Also Read- Demonisation Of Hindus At Danger Level – Fuelled By Arundhati Roy And Others

Here are a few questions to reflect upon. Why don’t the leftists and communists speak about incidents when they are wrong? Why did they not speak up against the wrongdoings of the attendees of Tablighi Jamaat? Is this a conspiracy? What are these people trying to hide behind their Hindu-phobic words?