Friday April 19, 2019

Want to attain salvation? Donate generously in shrines

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By Ishaa Srivastava

Think about how Hinduism manifests itself in large sections of our society. The idea of India is heavily impregnated with the multitude of its religious identity. Religious devotees and pilgrims dedicate much of their time, money, and resources in the fervent service of God. They undertake pilgrimages to places like Amarnath in dangerous terrains, enduring much physical pain. They part with their wealth, indulge in daily prayers, and renounce their possessions to be in God consciousness.

The idea of renouncing possessions and making a ritualistic offerings in a temple may seem vague to many, but it is a great form of devotion towards God. The idea behind making an offering in a shrine is a reflection how one is willing to part ways from materialistic things. It should be seen as an act of detachment. A first step towards detaching oneself from the materialistic world.

Those who have undertaken a journey in South India, maybe familiar with how thousands of people offer their own hair at the Tirumala Tirupati Temple, an act that absolves one from all ego and repays the debt to God. A lot of Hindu temples also receive massive donations (in cash or gold) from Indian and NRI devotees, which  is used for the temple infrastructure, food for devotees, or other charity work.

The Sabrimala pilgrimage (Ayyappan pilgrimage) attracts millions of male Hindu devotees from Kerala, and South India as a whole. Preparations for the pilgrimage usually start in November, and the pilgrims adhere to a vratam, a 41 day period of abstinence. This is akin to the Kavar Yatra undertaken in the sacred month of Saawan (July to August) by Shiva devotees (Kaavariyas) in north India.

Many partisans have of course, gone beyond and gone astray with the whole concept of sacrifice fundamentally. Commercialisation of a few temples in India takes away the piety of a place of worship. One is reminded of Nepal; the nefarious killing of 100,000 animals during the quinquennial Gadhimai Festival which last took place in 2014. Before we point our finger, however, remember there have been horrendous cases of sacrificial rituals in our own country. In 2002, for instance, 105 children were buried alive for ‘just one minute’in Perayur Village, Tamil Nadu, during the Kuzhi maatru thiruvizha—or the festival of the pits. Family members ‘bury’ their own children in the hope that their wishes will be fulfilled.

Where do we draw a line between moralistic rituals as social practice and an actual unquestioning, spiritual devotion to God?

Next Story

Kerala Government Decides to Revise The List of Women Who Prayed at Sabarimala

The list of 51 women is not part of an affidavit but only referred to by the state government counsel in his arguments. Soon the list was highlighted in the media

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Image Source: Wikipedia Commons

Stung by widespread criticism over the numerous errors in the list of women who prayed at the Sabrimala temple, the Kerala government has decided to re-prepare the list.

A counsel of state government had presented the list in the Supreme Court on Friday, which reportedly had discrepancies in the age and names of women. The list was taken from the records of the online system, through which pilgrims register for having “darshan”.

The row erupted over flaws in the actual age of some of the 51 women, whom the counsel had referred to in the list as “banned” — on account of they being of menstruating age group of 10 to 50 years — who prayed at the temple this season.

State police chief Loknath Behera on Saturday asked senior officials to revise the list, which included even the name of men, besides several of the women above 50.

State Devasom (temples) Minister Kadakampally Surendran told the media that his department has no role in the preparation of the list, while the president of the Travancore Devasom Board – custodian of the temple, A. Padmakumar said they are not responsible for this as they do not prepare statistics of the pilgrims in the temple.

Kanam Rajendran, state secretary of the Communist Party of India – the second biggest ally of the ruling Pinarayi Vijayan government, said the entire responsibility of what has happened lies with the state government.

Sabarimala
Kerala to revise list of women who prayed at Sabarimala.

But the Industries Minister E.P. Jayarajan, the closest aide of Vijayan, defended him by saying that it is not just 51 women, but so many women have had “darshan” at the temple.

Kanaka Durga and Bindu Ammini, both in the “banned” age group of 10 to 50 years, prayed at the Sabarimala temple.

It was after they approached the apex court seeking security for having safe “darshan” that a bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice Dinesh Maheshwari directed the state government to arrange adequate protection for them.

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The list of 51 women is not part of an affidavit but only referred to by the state government counsel in his arguments. Soon the list was highlighted in the media.

“This goof-up reveals the abject failure of the way Vijayan is running the state,” said state BJP president P.S. Sreedharan Pillai.  (IANS)