Pakistani Hindu parents allege their daughter forced to convert to Islam

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In the predawn darkness on Feb. 24, Rinkel Kumari, a 19-year-old student from a Hindu family, disappeared from her home in Mirpur Mathelo, a small village off a busy highway in Sindh Province. Hours later, she resurfaced 12 miles away, at the home of a prominent Muslim cleric who phoned her parents with news that distressed them: Their daughter wished to convert to Islam, he said. Their protests were futile. By sunset, Ms. Kumari had become a Muslim, married a young Muslim man, and changed her name to Faryal Bibi. Sulachany Devi and Nand Lal are pleading for the return of their daughter, Rinkel Kumari. Ms. Kumari’s family says her marriage and conversion were done at gunpoint.

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Pakistan elects a Hindu woman senator, second time in its history

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Compare that with how many Muslim women have been elected in India since 1947. Krishna Kumari Kohli’s election represents a major milestone for women and minority rights in Pakistan. Ms. Kumari’s victory was a rare bit of good news for the country’s Hindu minority.

Pakistan has a dismal record over the treatment of vulnerable religious minorities. Most live in fear of their lives and property amid an increase in religious intolerance in recent years, along with violence and deadly assaults. Hindus, who make up 4 percent of the country’s population of approximately 200 million people, mostly live in southern Sindh Province. In recent years, they have increasingly complained of forced conversions to Islam carried out by hard-line Islamists.

The local Hindu community has suffered persecution at the hands of radical Islamists, with many women forcibly converted to be married off to Muslims. The state’s acquiescence to groups behind kidnappings, killings and desecration of Hindu temples, most notably in Sindh, has meant that Hindus have been fleeing Pakistan – often to find refuge in India.

According to Senator Ramesh Kumar, a member of the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), “around 5,000 Hindus leave Pakistan every year” because of the persecution. Dev says the Kohli community is marginalized even among the Hindus. “This is why a Kohli woman joining the Senate is a positive development. For we have had parliamentarians from the Meghwar community, but never Kohlis,” he said.

Ms. Kumari said her aims as a senator would be to work toward improving the lives of religious minorities and the people of Tharparkar, which has been troubled by drought, unemployment and a lack of development.

Hindus have previously been elected to Parliament, both in the lower and upper houses. Two male Hindus from the Dalit caste have served in the Senate, both members of the Pakistan Peoples Party. 

Kohli joined the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) as a social activist to campaign for the rights of marginalised communities in the Thar region. She also campaigns for women’s rights, against bonded labour, and against sexual harassment in the workplace.[4] Kolhi also actively participated and worked for the rights of downtrodden people of marginalised communities living in Thar and other areas.

She is from the family of the valiant freedom fighter Rooplo Kolhi, who had waged a war against the invading British colonialist forces when they had attacked Sindh from Nagarparkar side in 1857. Subsequently, he was arrested and hanged by the Britishers on August 22, 1858.

Kohli was born on 1 February 1979[2] to a poor family hailing from a village in Nagarparkar.[3] When she was a child and a student of grade three, she and her family were held captive for three years as bonded labourers in a private jail allegedly owned by a landlord in Umerkot District.[4][3] They were only released after a police raid on their employer’s land. She received her early education initially from Umerkot district and then from Mirpurkhas District.[2]

She got married at the age of 16 in 1994 while she was studying in grade nine.[2] She continued her education after her marriage and in 2013 earned a master’s degree in Sociology from the University of Sindh.[3]

In 2007, she attended the third Mehergarh Human Rights Youth Leadership Training Camp in Islamabad in which she studied the government of Pakistan, international migration, strategic planning and learned about the tools that could be used to create social change.[2]

(Source:Wikipedia)

Hindus attacked by Rohingyas in Myanmar

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The attaches from international community met with local Hindu women who had been abducted by Muslim insurgents responsible for killing about 100 other Hindus during the crackdown, Hindu leader Ni Maw said.

The women said they wanted to know why the world is talking only about Muslims,” Ni Maw told RFA. “Hindus also were killed by Muslims. They want to know why people don’t talk about this, but only about the Muslims that have been killed.”

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Rangoli workshop at Parramasala

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By Shobha Deshikan

Hindu Council of Australia created a huge Rangoli of flowers at Parramasala and conducted a Rangoli making workshop. It took eight people to do the wonderful beautiful Rangoli. of vibrant and colorful flowers.  The Rangoli was very impressive. All day long, passers would stop, wonder and pictures including numerous selfies. It was thoroughly, a joyful sight to see.

Painting workshop at Parramasala by Hindu Council

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A painting workshop was conducted at Parramasala festival where visitors were encouraged to try their hand at painting and to watch painters making their paintings live.

This wonderful workshop was conducted by two teenage girls Mili and Kushi. They both mesmerized their audience with their speed painting skills. Kushi did a reverse painting whilst the audience were wondering what it was…once completed she placed the picture upside down and it was a beautiful scenic and iconic Jog falls. Kushi painted a scene from the desert.  There were lot of curious   kids asking questions which Murthy and the girls were happy to explain.

Yoga workshop at Parramasala by Hindu Council

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Bharani Ji, a renowned Yoga teacher, conducted a Yoga workshop at Parramsala festival. The aim of the workshop was for people to come and try Yoga under supervision and free of charge. 10 children showcased various poses whilst their guru was instructing them. The children were so adaptable and showcased their talent and also involved the audience very well. Hindu Council of Australia appreciates their contribution to the event. Here are some pictures of the Yoga work shop.

Gender Equality Declaration by Hindu Council of Australia

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Hindu Council of Australia stands for Gender Equality and Respect for Women

By Prakash Mehta, President

As a peak Hindu body, Hindu Council of Australia is working to help Hindus live in harmony with all the other communities in Australia. To achieve this we have a mission to work for a strong, cohesive and active Hindu community that is committed to Gender Equality and Respect for Women.

Our tradition has it that: where women are worshiped, prosperity is there. There is a famous story which is the basis of one of the most celebrated festivals in India. In the story, all the divine forces fail to overcome powers that obstruct human progress; they approach Mother Goddess, and convince her to fight the dark powers. She achieves victory over the forces of darkness and makes our progress possible. This story is a statement of a deep spiritual realization that in critical stages of progress Mother Goddess is essential.

The biggest challenge the Hindu community faces today is to again make these deeply held beliefs as living realities where Mother Goddess is worshiped in temples, in homes, at work, and everywhere.

We have a commitment to gender equality and respect for women is in-built in our cultural values. Hindu council of Australia believes that women and men must have equal rights, opportunities, as well as responsibilities that enable each person to actively participate in all aspects of life that includes social, religious, political and economic activities. We believe that men and women must have equal participation in decision making processes and thereby creating a socially inclusive community.  In our culture, women always have been and will continue to be treated with full dignity and respect. We have a strong focus on bringing women in leadership roles.

Hindu Council acknowledges the important role of women in our community, the silent achievers and home makers as well as those women who have made contributions in professional roles. On this occasion we will be honouring outstanding women who have made significant contributions and celebrating their achievements. 

I would like to take this opportunity to express my deep gratitude to all these women whose contributions shape us, our children and our community.

Please join us  today to celebrate International Women’s day and let’s stand together, for Gender Equality and Respect for Women, not just for International Women’s Day but as a foundation of our community and the society.

Prakash Mehta,

National President

11 March 2018

Gargi Woman Paramita Roy

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Winner of Gargi Woman Award 2018 – (Film Producer)

By Bharathi R

Paramita Roy has been awarded Hindu Council of Australia’s Gargi Woman Award 2018 for her outstanding contribution as a Film Producer. The award consisting of a plaque will be presented to her in a ceremony to be held in her home town Adelaide.

Paramita directed a feature film on child labour. The film, Hori Alone in Kolkata was screened in Australia and India. Roy directed another feature film that premiered in Australia in February 2010.  Roy has received several awards for her photography.

Gargi Woman Poornima Sharma

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Winner of Gargi Woman Award 2018 – (Performer)

By Bharathi R

Poornima Sharma has been awarded Hindu Council of Australia’s Gargi Woman Award 2018 for her outstanding contribution as a performer. The award consisting of a plaque was presented to her by Federal Member of Parliament  Hon. Michelle Rowland  and Councillor Hill Shire Reena Jethi, representing Hon Ray Williams – Minister for Multicultural .

Poornima is an innovative dancer and choreographer for last 22 years. She has fulfilled her dreams of successfully mixing classical and semi classical dance forms with Bollywood  style of dancing. She learnt dancing in Indian Dance centre that was established in 1987 by Raghavan Nair, her father.

In 2003 Raghavan Nair Ji passed  his responsibilities to his daughter for running  India Dance Centre (IDC) as an Artistic Director. Since then she has successfully taken the IDC company to new heights by performing many shows nationally in Australia as well as Internationally. She has received many awards for her latest project “RAMAYANA”. She is a role model to give new dimension to dance in national and international level.

Poornima Sharma has been awarded the Gargi Woman Award for her outstanding service to the community as a Performer.

Gargi Woman Jayanthi Ramanan

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Winner of Gargi Woman Award 2018 – (Carer)

By Bharathi R

Jayanthi Ramanan has been awarded Hindu Council of Australia’s Gargi Woman Award 2018 for her outstanding contribution as a carer. The award consisting of a plaque was presented to her by Member of Parliament – Parramatta Hon. Geoff Lee and by Anita Sharma NSW Vice President of Hindu Council of Australia.

She used to work as an IT consultant, took early retirement. She saw a Christian chaplain helping a friend in a hospital. In anguish, she thought why no Hindu chaplains in Sydney. She did her own  research and took many months to find out about how to become a Chaplain. Finally she took the training and became a Hindu Chaplain. Now, she inspires others to become chaplains and more than 12 people have taken to Chaplaincy on her encouragement. She conducts regular workshops and information sessions and guides would be chaplains.  She is a good role model for youngsters on how to break barriers and integrate with the main stream. Hindu Council of Australia appreciates her for being the first women to come up with the idea of starting a Hindu Chaplain service in Sydney.

Jayanthi left the stage immediately after receiving the award, reason – she got a call for help from a terminal patient from a hospital.

Jayanthi ramanan has been awarded the Gargi Woman Award for her outstanding service to the community as a carer.