VIEWPOINT: Discovering Hinduism in Āratī

Each Sunday evening as I enter Georgetown University’s Jewish prayer room, Makóm, for weekly Āratī , herbal incense and the soft hum of the harmonium greet me. After I grab a comfortable pillow and find a spot, I close my eyes and begin meditating with the rest of my Hindu community, feeling at home at last. Though I have only been at Georgetown for eight months, I have discovered the value of my faith and found community within Hindu spaces on campus. Before I came to the Hilltop, I had never been a part of an extensive cultural or faith-based organization like the Hindu Students Association. At my high school, tucked away past the acres of Iowa corn fields, I was the only Hindu and Indian student. The nonexistent Hindu community at school discouraged me from embracing my faith; I was so lonely and ashamed of my cultural identity […]

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Bali Hindus in Denmark celebrate Nyepi festival

By: Akrut.co. Original article is in Indonesian language and is published at http://akurat.co/news/id-550558-read-umat-hindu-bali-rayakan-hari-suci-nyepi-di-kopenhagen

Nyepi is a Bali Hindu festival Saka New Year Celebration.

Read English translation below :

Pensosbud of the Indonesian Embassy in Copenhagen, Dieny Maya Sari, said on Sunday (10/3) that the Saka New Year Celebration was attended by around 100 people from the Indonesian diaspora and Danish citizens.

In his speech, the Ambassador in Copenhagen, M. Ibnu Said, said that the celebration of the Holy Day of Nyepi inspired us all to always maintain harmony in life as a way to happiness.
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“The difference in religious background, ethnic background, cultural background is not a barrier for us to unite and is not a barrier for us to live in harmony in harmony. Therefore, let us always hold fast to Pancasila and Unity in Diversity, and contribute to the unity and progress of the Indonesian nation, “he said.

The celebration was held in close collaboration between Indonesian community groups in Copenhagen, Krama Bali Denmark (KDB), with the Indonesian Embassy in Copenhagen.

The chairman of Krama Bali Denmark, I Gede Widana, said there are currently around 50 Balinese Hindus in Denmark. “We are very happy to be able to celebrate Nyepi together at the Indonesian Embassy in Copenhagen and there are also Danish people who participated in the celebration together,” he said.

Balinese dances are dedicated to enliven the Nyepi celebration, such as the Panyembrana dance, Hard Mask, Sekar Jagad, Old Mask, Butterfly and Joged Bungbung.

The dishes provided are also full of typical Balinese menus, such as lawar ayam, betutu chicken, urab Bali, kale plecing, spicy beef, and rica seasoning fish.

1941 Nyepi Day Saka has the theme “With Chess Bharata Penyepian Success the 2019 Election”, with the main message Dharma Santi Dharma, which means virtue in the heart to create a harmonious and peaceful life, so that the 2019 Election becomes a peaceful Election.

This can be realized if all religious people in Indonesia live in harmony, by always purifying their thoughts and sayings and maintaining politeness and deeds, which ultimately leads to goodness and justice.

The Holy Day of Nyepi is based on the calculation of the Kesanga Tilem, a day of purification of the gods in the ocean, which also carries the essence of amartha (living water). Nyepi is also a new year in the Saka calendar, which began in 78 AD.

The main purpose of Nyepi is to beg Sang Hyang Widhi to purify the alit (human nature) and the great bhuana (universe), through the melasti procession, tilem sasih kesanga, pinanggal pisan, and Catur Bharata, so that it is hoped that in the new Saka year, the ummah Hindus can start life cleanly and return to holiness.

 

 

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How Bali’s non-Hindus show religious tolerance and respect on Nyepi

Western tourists are not the only people in Bali expected to accommodate the Hindu holiday of Nyepi, which took place yesterday, marking the first day of the Balinese New Year with a full 24 hours of quiet self reflection aided by a general ban on work, lights and noise. Non-Hindu residents of the island not only accommodate the holiday’s strict bans but also contribute to their enforcement by local security, known as pecalang , who are the only souls allowed to be out and about on Nyepi in order to patrol neighborhoods in their traditional uniforms while on the look out for those violating the spirit of the day. It’s the one day of the year when the island’s streets and beaches are eerily empty and the air unpolluted by the usual hum of construction and motorbikes. Even the international airport shuts up shop for the day. Sanur beach […]

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Hindu Symbols vandalized during Nyepi religious celebrations in East Java

Translation from Indonesian to English of Jelang Nyepi, Tiga Ornamen Simbol Umat Hindu Dirusak Orang tak Dikenal by Google Translate.

“LUMAJANG – The tranquility of the Tenggerese Hindus in Lumajang, East Java is disturbed ahead of the Nyepi celebration. There was destruction of three religious symbols in the form of patmasari or ornaments on the edge of the road. Now, the police are still investigating this case.

The police line was installed at the location of the destruction of Hindu religious symbols in Argosari Village, Senduro District. Three ornaments which are usually used as a reminder place for YME installed on every corner of the village road, were damaged by unknown people.

Ismail, Argosari Village Chief, explained, it was not yet known when the ornaments were damaged.

“But from some residents’ information, it was alleged that the building was damaged on Tuesday morning,” Ismail said.

The destruction of the symbol of the Hindu religion worship received serious attention from Thoriqul Haq, Regent of Lumajang. He went directly to the location to find out the chronology and the scene.”

 

Read the original article in Indonesian language at Jelang Nyepi, Tiga Ornamen Simbol Umat Hindu Dirusak Orang tak Dikenal 

 

The Hindus in Bali are strongly religious. All ages, except babies seem to be wholeheartedly bound to the observance of the prayer. Women wear kebaya and have their hair twisted while men appear in white with udang (traditional headdress) on their head. They will march under golden yellow sunshades which are meant for ritual ceremonies.

 

Tawur Kesanga, a ritual procession on the eve of Nyepi, celebrated a day before. The children carry flame torches, that lit bonfires to symbolically burn ogoh ogoh monster evil spirits.

One day before Nyepi, there is the Tawur Kasanga ceremony. The ceremony is held in every place of the island, from the front yard through the city pura. Every house has merajan to adorn with Panca Warna offerings. Sanggah cucuk of bamboo cane are positioned against the door to display colorful gifts of sacrifice, such as ā€˜ketupatā€™ (cooked rice in square of coconut leaves), tumpeng (cone rice), chicken and other food, and rice wine, liquor, and water presented under the bamboo.

The last day of the year includes processions of Bhuta (demons, above), followed by Nyepi, the festival of silence.

According to Wikipedia, Nyepi is a Balinese “Day of Silence” that is commemorated every Isakawarsa (Saka new year) according to the Balinese calendar (in 2019, it falls on March 7). It is a Hindu celebration mainly celebrated in Bali, Indonesia and in East Java.

Many Hindus in South Asia observe the same day as new year. For example, the Hindus of Maharashtra term the same festival, observed on the same day, Gudi Padwa (Marathi: गुढी पाडवा). The Sindhis, people from Sindh, celebrate the same day as Cheti Chand, which is the beginning of their calendar year. Manipuris also celebrate their New Year as Sajibu Nongma Panba on the same day. The Hindus of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka also celebrate their new year on the same day as Ugadi.

 

 

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Java Hindus celebrate Hindu Festival Melasti

By:Aman Rochman. Thousands of members of the Hindu Tengger community, who live on the slopes of Mount Bromo, carried offerings, heirlooms and other items to the Widodaren spring to perform the Melasti ceremony on Sunday, March 3, 2019 .

Hindus will perform an ogoh-ogoh (giant effigy) parade on Wednesday afternoon and then perform Nyepi on Thursday. The whole ceremony closes on Friday with the Ngembak Geni ceremony – which literally means restarting the fire – in each temple.[yan] […]

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Why You Should Perform Rudra Abhishek This Maha Shivaratri

Why is Maha Shivratri celebrated? Maha Shivratri, which literally translates to “great night of Shiva” is a Hindu festival largely celebrated in India as well as in Nepal. The festival is celebrated on the new moon day in the month of Maagha according to the Hindu calendar. The day […]

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Finding himself in festivals – Book review

Blogger-turned-author Chithiraveethikaran talks about his fascination for festivals and his first book Thiruvizhakkalin Thalainagaram Madurai It was the night before Lord Kallazhagar’s entry into the Vaigai and the blinding lights made Madurai look like the moon on earth. Men dressed in the attire of guardian deities, danced around the […]

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Books to Help With Rituals (Puja)

 
I was browsing on Amazon and I realized that there are quite a number of books these days with detailed instructions for various puja rituals to do yourself at home. Ritual worship isn’t for everyone and you don’t have to do it to be a Hindu, but it’s a special part of my spiritual life. I have more information on why I love ritual here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/whitehindu/2015/03/why-ritual-matters-criticisms-of-hinduism/
 

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Menstruation is Far From Taboo in Hinduism

By: Sunila Goray Raj

(edited by : Surinder Jain)

Menstruation is Far From Taboo in Hinduism.
 
There is so much to be said about it all – but here I only want to focus on the leftist’s latest favorite topic : Menstruation.
 
A survey conducted in USA in 1981 showed that a substantial majority of U.S. adults and adolescents believed that it is socially unacceptable to discuss menstruation, especially in mixed company. Many believed that it is unacceptable to discuss menstruation even within the family.[66] Studies in the early 1980s showed that nearly all girls in the United States believed that girls should not talk about menstruation with boys, while more than one-third of girls did not believe it appropriate to discuss menstruation with their father.[67]
 
In Hindu culture, a girl who achieved menarche, or her first period, was feted, and pampered at a ceremony where family and close friends gathered and lavished gifts on her. The girl would be bathed in fragrant water after applying oil, turmeric etc. she would be bedecked in fine clothes, flowers and ornaments – and her feet would be washed. This is because Hinduism celebrates, and does not abhor menstruation. The Shakti philosophy upholds it as a gift which is responsible for creation of life.
 
 

Devotees singing in front of Kamakhya temple

 
The Kamakhya Temple in Assam celebrates the annual menstruation of the Goddess – and there is no idol there, just a structure that resembles the yoni, or the female symbol of creation.The Chengannur Temple in Kerala has a tradition of bathing the idol in a grand ceremony after her ‘period’ is over. According to the Kalika Purana, Kamakhya Temple denotes the spot where Sati used to retire in secret to satisfy her amour with Shiva, and it was also the place where her yoni (genital) fell after Shiva danced with the corpse of Sati.[41] It mentions Kamakhya as one of four primary shakti peethas: the others being the Vimala Temple within the Jagannath Temple complex in Puri, Odisha; Tara Tarini) Sthana Khanda (Breasts), near Brahmapur, Odisha, and Dakhina Kalika in Kalighat, Kolkata, in the state of West Bengal, originated from the limbs of the Corpse of Mata Sati. 
 
The temple remains closed for three days during the Ambubachi mela[2][3] for it is believed that mother earth becomes unclean for three days like the traditional women’s menstrual seclusion. During these three days some restrictions are observed by the devotees like not cooking, not performing puja or reading holy books, no farming etc.[2] After three days devi Kamakhya is bathed and other rituals are performed to ensure that the devi retrieves her purity.[3] Then the doors of the temple are reopened[2][3][4] and prasad is distributed.[2][4] On the fourth day the devotees are allowed to enter the temple and worship devi Kamakhya.
 
Many religions have menstruation-related traditions, for example: Islam prohibits sexual contact with women during menstruation in the 2nd chapter of the Quran. In Judaism, a woman during menstruation is called Niddah and may be banned from certain actions. Western civilization, which has been predominantly Christian, has a history of menstrual taboos. [source: wikipedia] Some Christian denominations, including many authorities of the Eastern Orthodox Church and some parts of the Oriental Orthodox Church advise women not to receive communion during their menstrual period.[34] In certain branches of Japanese Buddhism, menstruating women are banned from attending temples.[37] In Japan, the religion of Shinto, the Kami, the spirits they worship, would not grant wishes if you had traces of blood, dirt, or death on you. In some portions of South Asia, there is a menstrual taboo, with it frequently being considered impure. Restrictions on movement, behaviour and eating are frequently placed.[57] The Yurok in North America practiced menstrual seclusion. Yurok women used a small hut near the main house.[65]
 
BONUS FACT: Hinduism is the only mainstream religion which worships God in the female form – for wealth (Lakshmi), education (saraswati), and courage too (Durga) – we worship Goddesses. What greater women empowerment can there be? To accuse Hinduism of gender disparity is beyond ridiculous!
 
An orchestrated effort is being made, or should I say, has been made for several years now, to denigrate Hindu customs and culture. In the whole uproar over Sabarimala, the issue being tom-tommed by pseudo liberals is Women’s rights – gender equality, and especially the whole taboo surrounding menstruation – and all of it is nothing but a distortion, and concoction, where the narrative is being twisted to suit the agenda of certain vested interests.
 
In the West, media houses like the BBC and CNN are upholding Kanakadurga and Bindu, who pretended to be transgenders, and were whisked into Sabarimala in ambulances with the support of plains clothes cops, as ‘defenders of women’s rights’.
I do not know if I should shake my head, or tear my hair out in frustration.
 
With the advent of western education, especially missionary education, Hindus were made to feel that this whole ceremony is horrendous – how can you announce that your daughter has now started menstruating, what an embarrassment, how orthodox, what a shameful ritual, how backward – these were the things we were told. And instead of trying to resist, and make others understand what this ceremony meant, and its deep significance – we (me included) hung our heads in shame, relented, and agreed with them.
 
Today hardly anybody performs this ceremony for their daughters, because we were taught by those who came from outside that it is taboo, and shameful. We also joined the bandwagon which proclaimed menstruation to be ‘filthy’.
 
Irony is that today, those very people who first advocated the stopping of ‘shameful and orthodox’ rituals of celebrating menstruation, are mocking Hindus about women entering Sabarimala and turning it into a ‘menstruation taboo’ issue, whereas clearly, it is not that at all.
Today, those very same people are trying to prove themselves as modern and as the harbinger of women’s rights and equality by conducting a festival dedicated to menstruation – styled ‘Aarpo Aarthavam’. It is laughable! The hypocrisy is just unbelievable.
 
So please stop trying to fool gullible people, because there are still many of us who know the truth.

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Kalyanam ceremonies being held in Sydney

By : Neelima Pravastu.

The Priests and Deities arrived on 26th October 2018 at night 9 PM from Bhadrachalam along with the celebrity Kuchipudi dancer Dr Padmaja Reddy and her group.

The Deities and priests were taken to host at Rohin Ji’s house on their first stay in Sydney.

Pre-wedding ceremonies started next day with making of Laddus for Prasadam and Husking the rice for Akshatas with over 65 volunteers. Ganesh and Sri Rama puja started the round of ceremonies.

Soft turmeric powder to mixed with the husked rice for akshatas at Ram Vel Ji’s house

The Deities are going to be taken in a procession from Parramatta Town hall to Parramatta park on 3rd November. The group tried and tested the Pallaki walk to check the distance, stops for the performances and the Grand entrance of the Deities.

Seva of over 60 women devotees, laid out on table

On 30th, the team met Parramatta Westfield at 7 pm and finished at 9:30 pm to explain the route options, entertainment and food options of the overseas guests and other details of the Kalyanam process and needed things.

 

Preparations for the main Puja

Following day, the team met again at Sushmita Ji’s house at 8 pm finished at 11 pm with Kalayanam team and Padmaja Ji to clarify doubts about the route and to plan the nitty gritty of the walk and the Kalyanam.

Walking the procession route as advanced planning

1st Pre-wedding ceremonies continued with Pounding Turmeric pods to get soft turmeric powder to mix with the husked rice for akshatas at Ram Vel Ji’s house. Around 50+ women, kids and men have participated in the ceremony.  Got the trays ready for the fruits, flowers and other things to offer the Deities. We made Kankanams (thread bracelet with Mango leave tied on it) to wear on Kalyanam and Coronation day to do Sankalpam by smearing the turmeric powder on it from earlier pounded turmeric. Had Mehndi ceremony along with it and delicious food for all the participants.

Vibrant devotees participating in Rituals

Received the show bags for the Kalayanam and Coronation. Showbag will contain Rama Koti book to write Sri Rama as many times as we can, Rama Mada a special coin with Sri Rama and Sita Devi printed on them and Akshatas sent by Bhadrachalam temple. Kalyanam and Coronation tickets will get a Silver coil with Sri Rama along with Sita Devi, Laxmana and Hanuman imprinted on them. Big sponsors will get a gold coin. Along with 4/6 entry tickets.

Publicizing the Kalyanam event in Sydney

Arranging garlands for Kalyanam and Coronation, starting for the Mandapam decorations on the stage, finalising the music for the cultural programs. Arranging necessary things for the walk including the Pallakis, Pallaki bearers, women to hold offer trays, bands, Kolatam performances. Walk teams, Receptions teams and logistics team are working round the clock to see that things go smoothly without much disruption.

Show bag for devotees participating in Seva

 

 

 

 

 

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