Take a Poll on Dowry – Have your say

Do you say NO to Dowry?

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Shakti initiative of Hindu American Foundation

Hindu American Foundation. www.hafsite.org. HAF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
Namaste

WELCOME TO THE SHAKTI INITIATIVE!


Many years ago, I was invited to speak on a panel about women and religion. Armed with my senior thesis from undergrad — The Vedic Woman: Who Was She and Will She Return? — I was able to quickly pull together a long list of stories and scriptural quotes to bolster my own experience of finding strength and inspiration in Hindu teachings as a Hindu woman.

After the panel, a number of intrigued audience members approached me for online sources that they could read to learn more.  

I promised I’d get back to them. The truth is, I never did.

After scouring the internet for hours, what I found left me seriously F R U S T R A T E D.

There were the websites that were politically or religiously motivated — brimming with stereotypes and outright lies. They took scriptural quotes out of context and juxtaposed them with social evils afflicting women of all backgrounds in India to paint the ugly picture they sought to promote.  

Others were academic in nature, plagued with the same exoticizing and eroticizing with which we’re sadly all too familiar.

And then there were the well meaning, but confused ones where social customs and even wives’ tales were being passed off as religious mandates.

Frustration, however, can be a pathway to one of two things — anger or innovation.  

At HAF we’re fans of the latter.

And so —  on these auspicious first days of Gupt Navaratri — we welcome you to the Shakti Initiative: An accessible, online exploration of Hindu teachings about and by women the contributions of Hindu women throughout history; and the role both women and men play in bringing to fruition solutions that are grounded in Hindu teachings to address critical contemporary issues.  

My deepest hope for the Shakti Initiative when it was only a seed of an idea was that the life stories and contributions of some of the most remarkable women history has ever seen would inspire both women and men to get reacquainted with and reassert, in many facets of life where we have fallen short, the balance and harmony our traditions advocate for between the feminine and masculine.  

In turn, women and men will renew their commitment to work together to alleviate the suffering that has uniquely and disproportionately affected women in our society, and support one another so that all have access to their highest potential.  

In a small way, my hope is already manifesting.  

When I first proposed the idea at our National Team meet several years ago, nearly every hand shot up, either in support of the project or to join the Shakti writing team. Not only that, we’ve gotten new volunteers — young and not as young — who upon hearing about the project, have contributed articles, and are working on new ones as I write this.  

We hope you enjoy the Shakti Initiative as much as we have been inspired by it.    

We’ve got a lot up already, and a lot more planned, so visitwww.shaktiinitiative.org often.

Jai Mata Di and Happy Navaratri!

Best,

Suhag Shukla

HAF Executive Director

P.S. Would you like us to write about a Hindu woman of note? Interview a swamini known to you? Uncover the reason behind a tradition centered around women? Send us your suggestions at shakti@hafsite.org.  

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Albury Wodonga Hindus produce “That Girl”

Albury Wodonga are two twin towns in Australia on the New South Wales-Victoria state border, separated by Murray river. It has a significant population of Hindus from Indian and from Bhutan. About 60 members of the local Bhutanese and Indian communities got together to produce a Bollywood-style dance and song titled That Girl. The song has a message about respecting women and includes a verse in Hindi. This is perhaps one of the first art production by an Indian/Bhutanese group from a country (rural) town in Australia.

The project is the brainchild of Melbourne-based songwriter and Community Music Victoria’s diversity coordinator Sarah Mandie. Ms Mandie said it about giving the community the confidence to talk about violence against women and girls. She said the aim was to give women and girls more confidence to stand up for themselves and call out disrespectful behaviour. It also encouraged people in the community to help each other, and connect with health and support services if in need.

 

Watch the video here.

[Click here to read more about it ….]

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Dowry abuse in Australia – Senate orders an inquiry

By:Surinder Jain.

Do you say NO to Dowry?

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SBS and some independent film producers have recently produced films on the deplorable dowry system prevalent in some parts of India and resulting violence against women. Armed with that evidence, on 26th June the Australian Senate referred the provisions of the practice of dowry and the incidence of dowry abuse in Australia to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee for inquiry and report by 6 December 2018

All Hindus condemn the incidences of dowry demand, it has no sanction in religion or in the constitution or law. What is your experience with dowry? Have you in the past five years come across an incidence of a dowry demand with someone you know in Australia. Has there been any violence involved.

Financial coercion, emotional abuse and even physical violence in marriage relations is rampant across many groups. It would be a fallacy to say that there was no domestic violence in Australia until Hindus arrived.

We hope that the senate committee does a good job and eradicates financial coercion and resulting violence from Australian Hindu society for ever. We support this effort fully and whole heatedly.

But it would have been far better if the senate had a more ambitious target of eradicating gender related financial demands, coercion and violence among all Australians, not just dowry among Indians or Hindus, not just for financial demands but for any reasons whatsoever.

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Take a Quiz on Hindu Symbols and Icons

Check your knowledge of Hinduism

Take a Quiz on Hinduism Symbols and Icons

Please enter your email:

1. How many strands of thread does a Janaeu or Yajnopavit has?

 
 
 
 

2. What is the  purpose of performing aarti and the waving of lighted wicks before the deities?

 
 
 
 

3. All other Yantras are derived from Sri Chakra Yantra?

 
 

4. Hindus apply a Tilak on their foreheads to express their devotion? Yes/No

 
 

5. Who is the vehicle or mount of Lord Ganesha?

 
 
 
 

6. A Toran is a decoration hanging at the front door of a home and can be made out of any one of the following (you can tick more than one)

 
 
 
 

7. Rudraksha beads represent tears of which God?

 
 
 
 

8. Vibhuti  means super natural powers acquired through religious practices? Yes/No

 
 

9. Upnayana is a rite of passage to mark adolescence? Yes/No

 
 

10. What is the usual number of beads in a Hindu Japa Mala?

 
 
 
 

11. What is the difference between clockwise and anti-clockwise versions of swastika?

 
 
 

12. Is it Ok for a married woman to wipe off her sindoor? Yes/No

 
 

13. While a Tilak can be applied at various parts of the body, Bindi must be applied only in between the eyes? Yes/No

 
 

14. A mangala sutra is worn by wife for the long life of the husband? Yes/No

 
 

15. A Hindu can not apply a Tilak to a non-Hindu? Yes/No

 
 

16. Aum is a representation of Brahma God out of three God heads? Yes/No

 
 

17. A Vermilion red colour Bindi signifies that the woman is married? Yes/No

 
 

18. Conch shells are used in Hindu worship as a trumpet?

 
 

19. Playing with colors on Holi festival is called Rangoli? Yes/No

 
 

20. How many number of cotton wicks can be put into the oil and lighted for an aarti lamp?

 
 
 
 


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Mauritius: Hotel Tells Employees Not to Wear Tika, Stirs up Protest

One of Mauritius’ finest hotels, the five-star Residence Mauritius, is in a soup for asking an employee to not sport a Tika (bindi, forehead mark) for hygienic purposes. The hotel, Residence Mauritius, also stated that the issue of visible religious symbols is addressed by telling the employees about exercising discretion. For example, the sindoor or the mangalsutra are allowed, but not tika. 

Hinduism is the largest religion in Mauritius, with over 670,000 adherents, representing approximately 51.9% of the total 1.3 million population of the country according to the 2011 census made by Statistics Mauritius.[4][5] This makes the Mauritius islands in the Indian Ocean as the country having highest percentage of Hindus in Africa and third highest percentage of Hindus in the world after Nepal and India.

[Cleck here to read more ….]

 

(acknowledgements: wikipedia, Hinduism today)

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Meet the Indian housewives studying to become Hindu priests in their ‘second innings’

At 72, Sailja Joshi has found her calling rather late in life. After a lifetime spent caring for others at home, this grandmother wants to join the workforce.  She is studying to become a Hindu priest. Female priests are a relatively new phenomenon in India, and they’re still vastly outnumbered by men. Scholars say that unlike in the Catholic church or Islamic tradition, there’s nothing in Hindu holy books that bans women from becoming religious leaders.

Sydney in Australia has a female priest Dr Meenakshi Srinivasan who has recently been awarded “Gargi Woman Award 2018” for her life long services to the Hindu community and to Sanskrit language.

[Click here to read more ….]

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Interfaith Peace Symposium “Empowerment of Women”

Bharathi Rengarajan of Hindu Council of Australia, gave a talk on Empowerment of women on an Interfaith Peace Symposium organized by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Woman Association  Australia held in Sydney. She talked about Hindu feminine Gods and how women can empower themselves.

The meeting was also addressed by Rissa Mclnnes – Riverstone Electorate local woman of the Year 2018, Daljit Kaur -Australian Sikh Association, Women & Children Affairs, Miss Tazeen Mehmood – Ahmadiyya Muslim Association, Australia, Louisa Lui – Mingyue Lay Buddhist Temple, Bonnyrigg, Colleen Foley -Good Shepherd Parish, Plumpton, Councillor Ms Danielle Wheeler – Hawkesbury City Council and with a concluding address by Anjum Khan, National President, Women’s Auxiliary of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association of Australia

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A new film on Love Jihad by Sudipto Sen

Renonwned film artist Sudipto Sen has made a new film titled ‘In the Name of Love-Melancholy of God’s Own Country’. A screening of the film was organised by Global Indian Foundation and Vivekanand Vichar Manch of Jawahar Lal Nehru University in Delhi. The film focuses on the issue of ‘love jihad’ and religious conversion of girls in Kerala and is based on a true story.

Members of Jawaharlal Nehru Students Union and Gender Sensitisation Committee Against Sexual Harassment disrupted the screening. The organizers of the screening in a statement said: “After disrupting the screening of the movie at Sabarmati dhaba, the left-wing protesters grievously injured a guard intentionally.”

[Click here to read more ….]

Summary of films by Sudipto Sen

AASMA (IN THE NAME OF JIHAD) – Hindi feature film – Just Completed
https://pro-labs.imdb.com/title/tt2949654/

LUCKNOW TIMES – Hindi feature film – Completed
https://pro-labs.imdb.com/title/tt4696884/?ref_=sch_int

IN THE NAME OF LOVE!
An hour-long documentary on the issue of religious conversion and so called ‘LOVE JIHAD’!

Project in development:
INDIAN AUTUMN – Indo-US Co-Production film – English/Bengali Bi-lingual film – On Development
(2017-2018)
Hindi/English feature film NUTAN BAZAAR (2017-2018)
History of 5000-years of Indian civilization – A TV Series

Work of reckoning:
English feature film THE LAST MONK (2006)
World Premier at Cannes Film Festival – 2006
Special Invitation Screening at Rotterdam Film Festival – 2006 
Participated in 37 other film festivals

Short feature film AKHNOOR (2007) 
(An Indo-Belgian Co Production) 
Attended 17 International Film Festivals

Malayalam Feature Film ANTHIPONNOVETTAM (2008)
An Indo-French Co Production CORENTIN’S QUEST(2008)
BLUE MOUNTAINS by Suman Ganguli (Consultant)

Documentaries: 
THE OTHER WEALTH (1997) 
A human story on pristine water body near Kolkata
Attended 21 International film festivals

NA BATE DER… (It will not be late) (2003)
A film on revolutionary peasant movement in India
Attended 11 international film festivals 

LAND WITHIN RIPPLES (1998)
A documentary on fast vanishing Islands at World’s largest deltaic region, Sundarvans

Worked For:
THE WORLD BANK (As an empanelled producer 1998-2002) 
PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE, UNDP / UNIFEM / UNEP / ACTIONAID / ADB / DFID
Made more than 75 Developmental Corporate films

Ad & Corporate
Worked for more than 50 commercials and corporate films

AWARDS
BEST FILM AWARD (AKHNOOR) at Golden Gate Film Festival, USA 2007-2008 
INTEGRATED REALIZATION AWARD (AKHNOOR) at Brussels International Film Festival 2008 SPECIAL JURY AWARD (AKHNOOR) at San Francisco Film Festival 2007 
Best Cinematography (THE LAST MONK) – Cine International FF

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Yezidis and Bangladeshi Hindus: A modern day Exodus story

By: Rachel Avraham, Israel National News.

In the spirit of this time of year, we should recall the plight of the Yezidi and Bangladeshi Hindu people, who are experiencing a modern day form of slavery and flight as we speak.

Bangladesh has now been independent for 48 years but during this period of time, Shipan Kumer Basu, the President of the World Hindu Struggle, reported that only the Muslims obtained their freedom: “The 25 million minorities in the country are freedom fighters due to their perseverance in the face of adversity.  During the War of Bangladeshi Independence, the minorities suffered unspeakable atrocities.   In 1971, Hindus were massacred and raped by the Pakistanis and their Muslim Bengali allies.  100 million Hindus fled to India in order to save their lives.”

[Click here to read more ….]

(Record your comments on Israel National News website to denounce)

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