Friday November 15, 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?

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NRIs Cheered for PM Modi

He profusely praised Prime Minister Modi for his all-round developmental plans and policies

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Indian, Diaspora, PM
The US President Donald Trump himself flew in to jazz up the occasion.

BY SALIL GEWALI

Americans’ love for the Indians and Indians’ love for America was fully on display at Howdy Modi’s event in Houston last Sunday. The US President Donald Trump himself flew in to jazz up the occasion. He profusely praised Prime Minister Modi for his all-round developmental plans and policies. He further widened PM Modi’s chest by calling him a fatherly figure of India, and also a crowd puller like Elvis Presley. President Trump very well knows how to talk shop. However, Trump sincerely hopes that the event will help strengthen the relation of the two nations, and much more than ever before. PM.

A huge crowd of 50 thousand roaring and cheering for Modi is something which President Trump thought his “presence” would top up the Howdy Modi’s cake which will equally nourish both. Not surprisingly, Modi began his speech by saying — “I have the honour to introduce you to my family”, pointedly aiming at the entire leaders and influential capitalists in the USA who employ the “cream” of the entire Indian population. On the other hand, President Trump clearly expressed his “pride” having the core “strength of Indian” in America. PM Modi is seemingly looking to exploit India’s strength in America and build new India in every possible way. This is probably his new dream. The passion of event pitched up so high that euphoric Modi impulsively yelled – “Abki Baar Trump Sarkar”. This must have caused heartburn to many people, and more to those running for the 2020 Presidential election.

Indian, Diaspora, PM
Americans’ love for the Indians and Indians’ love for America was fully on display at Howdy Modi’s event in Houston last Sunday.

To organize an event of this magnitude involves a lot of managerial skills and concerted efforts. Everything came off perfectly well in Houston — undoubtedly, due to the synergies of the efforts of dedicated NRIs and a huge amount of monetary contributions that generous diaspora had pitched in. What is very obvious is the people were emotionally involved to make the event grand, some were tied down for the past three months. Here why people love PM Modi so much is, in fact, no small thing though we just pass off – no matter which political party he belongs to. One believes he is the only leader who receives such kind of welcome and hospitality wherever he visits. This in fact should make other world leaders think seriously why Modi is so much idolized by the masses. Whether it has logical basis or not. No exaggeration, what it all that attracts people to him is something to be made a case study. If nothing, Modi’s simplicity, his inborn humility, uprightness, and incorruptible aptitudes must be the prime reasons that fascinate the right-thinking people.

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Here what really surprises us is that the man with righteous principle and integrity also has a huge number of sworn enemies. Those enemies are totally blind and deaf to Modi’s virtues. No amount of Modi’s sacrifices for the country make them happy and appreciative. They hold forth thousands of faults in Modi while never hesitating to appreciate and stand for the corruptible oddballs as their leaders. They also tend to look upon those unscrupulous persons for their inspiration — maybe for knowledge and moral too, lol! This is nothing but the sickness of this civilization. One sees this as one of the worst maladies of modern times.

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’. Twitter: @SGewali