Killed for opposing religious conversion

The wife of murdered Tamil Nadu Hindu activist Ramalingam has said that he had no enemies and was killed only because he protested against religious conversion. Echoing similar views, Ramalingam’s son said that accused Riazuddin was the last person to see his father.

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NZ Indian Anzacs

By : Radio NZ.

Many Indians enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) and the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) during World War I and their stories are now part of an international touring exhibition  Frames of Bravery which was recently on show at Wellington City Library.

Exhibition curator and historian Harchand Singh Bedi travelled from Malaysia to bring the stories of these men to light.

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Of leading Hindus in Pakistan

Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani is a high-profile leader of the Hindus of Pakistan and is a member of the National Assembly on a seat reserved for the minorities. Struggling for the rights of the most downtrodden community in Pakistan, he has been a member of the Sindh Assembly in the past, protesting his constituency’s plight in Tharparkar. 

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The last of the Bahai 7 religious leader group released from prison

The Bahá’í 7[1], also known as the “Yaran” (friends), are seven Iranian Bahá’í community leaders arrested in 2008 that have served 10-year prison sentences in Iran. The seven prisoners of conscience are Mahvash Sabet, Fariba Kamalabadi, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, Saeid Rezaie, Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Vahid Tizfahm.[2]

Sabet was detained on 5 March 2008 after being summoned to Mashhad by the Ministry of Intelligence. Officers from the Ministry of Intelligence arrested the other six leaders in raids on their homes on 14 May 2008.[3] The seven were held in Evin Prison in Section 209, which is run by the Ministry of Intelligence, and were denied access to a lawyer. The five male detainees reportedly were placed in one cell together measuring 10 and without any beds.[4]

Images of the Bahá’í 7 at a rally in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (wikipedia)

On 7 August 2010, the Revolutionary Court in Tehran convicted the seven Bahá’í of crimes including “espionage for Israel”, “insulting religious sanctities” and “propaganda against the system,” and sentenced them to 20 years imprisonment.

On September 18, 2017, former prisoner Mahvesh Sabet was released. [10]

Thirty prominent Australians signed a statement welcoming her release, including Greens leader Richard Di Natale, former foreign affairs minister Bob Carr, former attorney-general Philip Ruddock, and members from all major faiths, including the president of the Uniting Church.

The other leaders were gradually released. By April 2018, only Afif Naeimi remained.

Afif Naeimi, the last of the seven Baha’i leaders imprisoned since 2008, has been released on completion of his sentence.

Dr Natalie Mobini, the director of the Office of External Affairs, Australian Baha’i Community, profoundly thanked Australian community for the concern and support shown for the seven during their incarceration over the past decade. She also said that the release of all members of the former leadership group is a significant milestone. At the same time, as you know, the systematic persecution continues. Baha’is in Iran are unable to practise their faith, more than 80 are currently imprisoned, and all experience multiple layers of discrimination at every level of life. The flow-on effects of this persecution are now further expanding into Yemen. Notwithstanding, we take this moment to breathe a sigh of relief that Mr Naeimi and his colleagues are all finally home with their families.

Hindu Council of Australia congratulates the Bahai community on the release of their religious leaders.

[Read more here …]  and [Read even more here…]

 

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Hindu Combined Marriages

By : Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani

Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani
Patron-in-chief, Pakistan Hindu Council
Member of National Assembly
WhatsApp: 0333-2277370
Twitter: @RVankwani

In the context of recently held Hindu Combined Marriages, my article published in The News (English), Jang (Urdu) and Ibrat (Sindhi) to highlight the socio-economic importance of mass weddings.

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Tirta Gangga in Bali

Bali is an island in Indonesia and has largely native Hindu population. A water garden was built in Bali by Dr Anak Agung Made Djelantik in the year 1948 and named after the Hindu holy river Ganga.

Tirta Gangga – Bali

Tirta Gangga is a former royal palace in eastern Bali, Indonesia, about 5 kilometres from Karangasem, near Abang. It is noted for its water palace, owned by Karangasem Royal.

The primary draw in this area for visitors is the Tirta Gangga water palace, a lovely maze of pools and fountains surround by a lush garden and stone carvings and statues. The one hectare complex was built in 1946 by the late King of Karangsem but was destroyed almost entirely by the eruption of nearby Mount Agung in 1963. It has been lovingly re-built and restored and has an air of authentic royal magnificence. The centrepiece of the palace is an eleven tiered fountain, and there are many beautiful carvings and statues adorning the gardens.

Lempuyang Temple (Pura Lempuyang Luhur) is about 10 km east of Tirtagangga on the slopes of Mount Lempuyang. This is one of the key nine directional temples on the island. Park in the car park and walk up the steps to the temple. The lower temple is always open but the upper temple (at the top of the dragon staircases) is often locked, so it is best to go with a Balinese driver who will usually be able to arrange for the temple priest to open it up for you. It’s situated high up a mountain and there are magnificent sunset views at dusk.

Taman Ujung or Taman Sukasada (Sukasada Park) is 5 kilometers to the southeast of Karangasem (Amlapura), another water palace built by the predecessor of the King who constructed Tirta Gangga. It was largely destroyed by the eruption of Mount Agung in 1963, damaged again by an earthquake in 1979, and has not been restored on the same scale as Tirta Gangga. 

Holy Water

The water from one of the natural springs of Tirtagangga has always been regarded as holy. It is used for religious ceremonies in the temples in the area until today. Tirta means blessed water, gangga came from Ganges, the holy river in India. The holy water is required for ceremonies of the temples in the surrounding as far as Tirtagangga can be reached by foot.

History

Dr. Anak Agung Made Djelantik (1919 – 2007) (source : http://www.tirtagangga.nl/)

After a childhood in the puri (palace) of Karangasem, my father was educated in Java and Holland. Completing his medical study during the turbulence 2nd world war, he worked from 1948 as a doctor and chief medical officer in various parts of Indonesia. From 1969 he was connected to the World Health Organisation, taking postings in Iraq, Somalia and Afghanistan. From 1979 he continued his passion for public health, culture and arts, especially painting, in Bali.

Construction (An account by Dr Anak’s son Widoere Djelantik)

In 1948 my grandfather built a watergarden complex which he gave the name Tirtagangga.

Apart from his personal interest, my grandfather built Tirtagangga for 2 main reasons:

– To ensure and improve the holiness of a holy place;

– To create a place of contemplation, rest and joy for every one, the local people as well as the domestic and foreign visitors.

These are still and will always be the purposes of the garden.

The religious function of the spring, the cool climate and the scenic beauty of the surrounding hills inspired him to build recreational water gardens for himself and his people. Making watergardens of all sorts had always been his hobby. He not only did all the designing himself, but he also used to work together with his labourers, digging in the ground, standing knee deep in the water, dirty with mud. It was always a great surprise for the visitors after some time looking at the work in progress to discover the tiny figure of the Raja among the workers. People liked it and it was one of his many charming traits.

The construction of the water gardens had been severe interrupted by the eruption of the Mount Agung which lasted from February to September, 1963. A series of eruptions occurred during those months. Lava and hot ash from the mountains had killed all vegetation. The grounds had not been affected by the lava flows which found their way along the valleys to the east and to the west of the complex. However, what had been built thus far was for the greater part destroyed by earthquakes of more and less severity during all those months. In addition to the natural disaster vandalism done by people who fled their villages and had no food had taken its heavy toll. The Raja family took refuge to saver place on the island. Tirtagangga was abandoned and fell pray to looting. Everything that could be taken away and sold such as furniture, windows, tiles, pipes, chinese porcelain, flower pots, statues and so on disappeared in the course of time.

When after about ten months the calamity was over the Raja returned, only to find the beautiful garden in ruins. There was no money for rebuilding the ponds and structures. With the introduction of the Land Reform Bill the Rajas, like all the other great land owners, had lost their means for extravagant undertakings. The rehabilitation of Tirtagangga could only be done in a very frugal and haphazard manner.

Since 1979, after a long duty period abroad, my father supervised the rehabilitation of the garden. With a slight increase of the entrance fees in 1985 a little bit could be accomplished. With the help of the local government the upper swimming pool was rehabilitated. Little by little the watergardens are coming into a better shape.

As my father became older, he was less capable in supervising the garden. In the nineties deterioration started again as very little maintenance was executed. During a walk in 1999, while overwhelmed by the majestic Banyan tree of the garden, I received a vision to transform the distressing state into the one of splendour. This vision was the reason why I found the foundation, drawn up the masterplan, build this website, seek for donation, incorporated the Balinese Hinduism-Buddhism concept in the complex, design the buildings, bridges, sculptures and so on to be able to restore the garden until the present shape.

WHO IS WHO

  Anak Agung Anglurah Ketut Karangasem (1887 – 1966)

My grandfather, the last Raja of Karangasem, succeeded his uncle, Gusti Gede Djelantik in 1908 as stedehouder (local ruler under the Dutch colonisation). A born architect and lecturer, he build several watergardens and wrote many philosophical, ethical and religious notes, hymns and poems in the Indonesian and Balinese languages.

As a child I found him most happy when sitting on his verandah or walking around enjoying the watergarden in a modest sarong, chewing his sirih.

   
  Dr. Anak Agung Made Djelantik (1919 – 2007)

After a childhood in the puri (palace) of Karangasem, my father was educated in Java and Holland. Completing his medical study during the turbulence 2nd world war, he worked from 1948 as a doctor and chief medical officer in various parts of Indonesia. From 1969 he was connected to the World Health Organisation, taking postings in Iraq, Somalia and Afghanistan. From 1979 he continued his passion for public health, culture and arts, especially painting, in Bali.

My father wrote several books, including an autobiography, The Birthmark (Periplus, 1997, isbn 9625931651). The autobiography is an excellent source to know more about the background of the watergarden.

   
  Widoere Djelantik (1953)

My full name is Ir. Anak Agung Gede Dharma Widoere Djelantik MMIT. I spend most of my childhood in Denpasar, Bali. In 1971 I went to Holland, where I completed studies in architecture, fine arts and information technology. After posted abroad as development engineer in Mali, Botswana and the Maldives between 1979 and 1986, I worked as information analist for the municipal of Gouda until 1998. From then until today I am connected as senior adviser to Staatsbosbeheer, the Dutch forestry department.

From childhood, the watergarden has always been an exciting place to me. With my sisters and other children I jumped in and out the water the whole day. In between the swims there were endless possibilities to play, such as building ships, daming the open gutters, playing in the rice fields or in the hills in the surrounding.

 

  Agung Bagus (1971)

Born and grown up outside Bali, my cousin Ir. Anak Agung Bagus Raka Barahyangwangsa obtained his master degree for architecture in Jakarta in 1995. Between 1979 and 1982 he lived in several south American countries, where his father served as ambassador for Indonesia. Before he and his family moved back to Amlapura in 2000, Agung Bagus has gained experience as architect and job captain in large projects such as Plaza Indonesia and Menara Jakarta.

   
  Surya Djelantik (1950)

Like me, my sister Anak Agung Ayu Suryawati Djelantik spend most of her childhood in Denpasar, Bali. After completion of her hotel-management school in Holland in 1973, she worked at several Indonesian leading hotels, such as Kartika Plaza in Jakarta, Nusa Dua Beach and Sheraton Nusa Indah in Bali.

 

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Ulhasnagar Sindhis drifting away from Hinduism

Convertion to Christianity has stormed in north-east Mumbai

The Sindhi community in Ulhasnagar, north-east of Mumbai, is enduring a social turmoil, for the last few years, a sizable number in the township – primarily created for Sindhis who came in as refugees from Pakistan’s Sindh province after partition – have drifted away from Hinduism and embraced Christianity. In Ulhasnagar and other places surrounding Thane, many Hindu Sindhis have been lured into Christianity. Though, the estimated number of converted Sindhis varies according to different sources, one can safely assume that at least 20,000-30,000 Sindhis have been converted in past few years.
 

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Pakistan Hindus celebrate Diwali 2018 in Karachi

By : www.pakistanhinducouncil.org.pk.

Karwan Group organised the Diwali function supported by Pakistan Hindu Council on 10th November, 2018 at Global Marquee, Karachi. The event has the theme of Ramaiyn as Diwali is celebrated for the return of Lord Ram to Ayodha after 14 year of Banwas. The event was started by doing  Arti and then all religious tableau were followed. Mr. Kirshan Sagar (Representer Karwan Group) welcome the all bearers and members of Pakistan Hindu Council and appreciated the efforts of Dr. Ramesh Kumar Vankwani and Mr. Gopal Khamuani for Hindus all over Sindh and other provinces.

He also appreciated the efforts of Ex-President Mr. Hotchand Karmani who have done wonderful work in his tenure. He further stated that it is our pleasure to have all the elders and minority representatives at one platform and i will try to organize such events more often so that our religious values, norms and our culture can be represented internationally. Dr. Ramesh (Patron-in-chief) also praised the efforts of Kirshan Lal for organizing such a wonderful event as he stated that Diwali is the day of lights but it is also the day when Truth became powerful over evil.

He said we should celebrated these events with interfaith harmony as we believe that as Eid is celebrated in the whole country unanimously so Diwali and Christmas should also be celebrated all over the country as we are all Pakistani first. The President Pakistan Hindu Council Mr. Gopal Khamuani also praised the efforts of organisers and said that these events are the representation of our religion. I am happy to see families coming for celebrating the Diwali and I wish these type of events will be organised in the future. In the end, all the guest and audience enjoyed the Soofi Kalam by the lady Singer.

 

 

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Potential of Faith Tourism in Pakistan

By : Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, a member of the National Assembly and patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council.

There is no doubt that the economies of peace-loving countries in the modern era are heavily dependent on tourism. To attract international tourists, such countries tend to brand themselves as a tourism-friendly societies. It is, therefore, a good sign that Prime Minister Imran Khan mentioned the importance of promoting tourism in the country in his first speech to the nation.

In the top trends of international tourism, religious tourism holds a prominent place. According to a report, every year more than 300 million people visits different places all over the globe for religious purposes. This generates collective revenues of more than $18 billion annually.

Visionary leaderships engage universities to conduct research that can help formulate positive policies. Faith tourism also helps promote our local industries, people-to-people contact and cordial diplomatic relations.

Every year, many tourists reportedly visit the Philippines, which is a Catholic-majority Asian country. In order to increase the number of international tourists in subsequent years, the government of the Philippines is also focusing on religious tourism. The government is keen to seek the attention of international tourists through the popular religious festival of Sinulog.

One of the largest religious festivals of the world is India’s Kumbh Mela, which is attended by 10 million devotees. However, the most well-managed sacred festival is Haj.

A popular spot for religious tourism among people in America and other Western countries tourists is the historical city of Jerusalem. The followers of Islam, Christianity and Judaism frequently visit the city. A large number of Hindu pilgrims also visit River Ganga in India. Similarly, the shrine of Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti at Ajmer Sharif also attracts followers of various religions. Every day, almost 100,000 people visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

Muslims pilgrims also travel to Iran, Iraq and Syria to visit their sacred places. Turkey also welcomes around 32 million international tourists every year. There are many places of religious importance in Turkey, which include mosques, monasteries and buildings constructed during the Ottoman Empire.

Pakistan also holds considerable importance for the followers of four major world religions: Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism. The presence of Sufi shrines in Sindh reflects that those who speak the language of love never die. In fact, they live in people’s hearts forever.

The Hanglaj Temple, Katas Raj Temple, and Anandpur Temple are sacred places. Hindu pilgrims from India, America, and Canada used to visit them in Pakistan. The traces of the ancient Mohenjodaro and Gandhara civilisations also reflect the impact of Hinduism and Buddhism on the region.

Taxila also had historical importance during the era of Hindu emperor Chandragupta Maurya and also holds significance as a major site for learning in Buddhism. The great philosopher Chanakya was also a teacher at an ancient university in Taxila. Takht Bhai, another historical Buddhist site, is another attractive spot for tourists.

Similarly, Pakistan also hosts many sacred sites for the Sikh community, including Nankana Sahib, Gurdwara Panja Sahib in Hasan Abdal, and the Samadhi of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh.

The Bari Imam Shrine and Golra Sharif Shrine in the federal capital are teeming with visitors every day. An impressive religious gathering can be witnessed at the Raiwind Tableeghi Ijtemah. Without visiting Badshahi Masjid in Lahore and Faisal Masjid in Islamabad, an international tourist’s visit is considered incomplete.

We must think about why our country lags behind in terms of religious tourism even though it has so many important religious sites. Political appointments in key posts and the performance of the Evacuee Trust Property Board have made it difficult for the state to protect sacred places of religious minorities. The law and order situation in the country is satisfactory due to the sacrifices of our armed forces. It is now the responsibility of the present government to promote a positive image of Pakistan at the international level and devise strong policies to promote religious tourism.

Our foreign policy must ensure a soft visa regime for international religious tourists. Faith tourism is so important that we should establish a separate department. In this way, we can secure millions of dollars every year by allowing religious tourists from South Korea, Japan, Malaysia and other countries to visit Pakistan. The revenue generated from religious tourists can help us get rid of foreign debts and ensure a bright future for our coming generations.

The writer is a member of the Pakistan National Assembly and patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council.

Twitter: RVankwani

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Pakistani Hindus discuss their issues in Pakistan Hindu Council AGM

By : pakistanhinducouncil.org.pk.

The First General Body Meeting of Pakistan Hindu Council Cabinet 18-20 was held on 9th December 2018, Sunday at Global Marquees, Karachi. The meeting was started with Gayatri/Mool Mantar and then a welcome speech was done by Mr. Raja Bhawan (Vice-President) in which he welcomed all the members and applauds all the members for their contribution in PHC. The financial budget was presented by Mr. Bharat Kumar Manglani (Finance Secretary) in which all details were shared with the members. All Members unanimously approved the financial budget and praised the dedication of the Finance Secretary. Mr. Parshotam Ramani (General Secretary) described all the projects and events in front of members to show the performance and progress of this cabinet. As the main agenda was Forced Conversion so Mr. Gopal Khamuani (President) stated that forced conversion has become a big issue for Hindus and this should be resolved as soon as possible. He further said I think lack of caring and busy schedule of parents is also the reason for children to convert their religion. He also demanded in his speech that Marriage act law should be implemented on an immediate basis and the chairman of Evacuee trust property should be a Hindu so that no Hindu property get possessed illegally. To finish this matter from its roots, it is necessary to give our children the knowledge of religion, sacrifices and our norms along with basic knowledge. The President also discussed the future plans as he said that we are making committees at the district level so that we get knowledge about the people issues and we will also organize Dharmic quiz programs in different districts so that children get knowledge about our religion.

However, in open discussion, all respected members shared their thoughts and suggestions regarding this issue. Mr. Paman Lal Rathi (Joint Secretary) stated that these cases usually take place in lower areas like Thar and interior where people do not have enough to eat and also do not have the education so we should give them education and should help them in reducing the poverty. Mr. Hotchand Karmani (Advisor and Ex-President) stated that it is the responsibility of every member of PHC to help people and to solve their issues. Mr. Rajesh Kumar Hardasani (Advisor) advised that we should tell our children about our religion and about the life of girls who got victimized and sometimes parents are also responsible in this issues as they did not give time to their children and allow them to do by their own. Mr. Harish Sakhija (MC Member) stated that there are different reasons but we should handle these issues personally and did not let anyone do politics as this is the matter of many lives. Mr. Prem Talreja (Advisor) advised that we should not create difference and should help lower castes as well because we all are from one religion and human first. At last, Dr. Ramesh Kumar Vankwani (Patron) also shared its work and dedication towards this issues as he stated that people do politics in these issues that cause a negative impact on our community. He stated that we should stay combine and should fight boldly against these issues so that we could get over this issue. At last, the Patron answered the questions of members and then it was unanimously decided by all the Bearers, MC Members, Advisors, Observers, life members and associate members that parent should give time to their children and should give them religious knowledge as well so that they know about the actual meaning of Hinduism and the purification of this religion.

 

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