KARACHI: Pakistani students formed a human shield around the Holi celebrations at the Swami Narayan Temple so that Hindus could celebrate their festival with abandon.
Hindus, who make up almost 2% of Pakistan’s population of around 180 million, are the largest minority in the country. Most of them live in the country’s Sindh and Punjab provinces.
The National Student’s Federation (NSF) carried out this exercise to show their solidarity with Pakistani Hindus, to promote the protection of religious minorities, and advocate interfaith coexistence.
WADALA: Mumbai-based Ilyaz Shaikh, 27, and his 24-year-old wife Noor Jahan were on their way to the Sion Hospital when Noor Jahan went into labor. According to a report in the Mid Day, the taxi driver asked them to get out when he heard Noor Jahan screaming in pain, as he did not want her to have the baby in his vehicle.
“We were so worried. My wife was close to delivering the baby and all we could see was a Ganpati mandir. As soon as we got down outside the temple, some women, who were sitting in the verandah of the mandir, rushed to help us. We didn’t even have to ask,” Ilyaz said.
The women in the Ganpati temple who had gathered to pray early in the morning, prepared a make-shift delivery room with saris and bedsheets borrowed from nearby homes, for Noor Jahan who was in the throws of labor by then.
“I was tense when I was close to delivering in the middle of the road. But when I saw that there was a temple, I realied that God himself is watching over us. What could be better than giving birth in front of Lord Ganpati,” Noor Jahaan said. The couple, happy that their son was born safe and sound, decided to name him Ganesh.
Salat, or prayer, should be performed very consciously and deliberately, both physically and spiritually. There is a lot of discussion on the spiritual significance of Salat. The physical significance, however, is often overlooked.
Once during Sujood (prostration), I couldn’t help but become distracted and wondered, ‘Wait, this is just like a Yoga pose…’ I was never committed to yoga, but I was familiar with its benefits and always said I’d do it more often. Without a doubt, my favorite position was Balasana, or the child’s pose. It’s almost identical to Sujood. I started drawing parallels between yoga and other positions of Salat. To my surprise, all of them were covered in beginner level yoga! Here you’ll find Salat positions along with their most similar yoga positions and their health benefits
DEHRIYAWAN: A village in Uttar Pradesh’s Faizabad district has one temple and mosque located adjacent to each other. And, the villagers visit them together. Hindu and Muslim villagers participate in each other’s festivals and have never allowed communal strife elsewhere to affect them. The village mosque and temple enable both communities to mingle prior to or after their prayers. Brijesh Yadav, a student, said that most of the residents pray at both the temple and the mosque, and even celebrate each other’s festivals. “As you can see that the temple and the mosque have been constructed side by side. Nobody gets into an argument here. We celebrate their festivals, they celebrate ours. Whenever we want, we worship in our temple as well as mosque. We have been studying since childhood that there is only one God and we all are his children. So as this temple and mosque show that there is no distance between them, likewise there should be no distance between all of us. The biggest example is shown here in Dehriyawan,” said Yadav. “We do not differentiate between a Hindu and a Muslim. In all festivals, marriages we visit each other. Any conflict between some other temple and mosque does not affect the harmony here in Dehriyawan,” said Mohammad Haji Waseem, a local resident. The mosque was constructed in 1970 and the temple was built soon after. By Amit (ANI)
INDORE: Mohammed Zahir is the caretaker of Lord Shiva temple in Khandwa, Indore. He takes care of the temple with the same enthusiasm as for the Dargah round the year. From dawn to dusk he takes care of the temple, from cleaning the periphery of the temple to the core of it, that is, the ‘Lingam’. Religions have never been an obstacle to his services. He believes that Allah, God, Bhagwan all are one, but our way of thinking makes them different.
There is no Hindu Pandit to offer any prayer or to do the rituals, he alone helps tourists offering their prayers and garlands that they bring for the temple. He also offers his services to the Dargah 100 meter away, which also comes under ASI. He takes care of both the places equally and thinks that it will help him teach equality and harmony to his five children.
JAUNPUR: A Muslim youth in Uttar Pradesh has now translated Hindu prayer Hanuman Chalisa into Urdu after noted Urdu poet Anwar Jalalpuri came out with his rendition of Shrimad Bhagwad Gita.
“I have translated Hanuman Chalisa in ‘musaddas’ style which comprises six lines. Like a ‘chuapai’ has four lines, ‘musaddas’ has three ‘shers’ and six lines,” Abid Alvi, who carried out the translation, said.
The youth, who hails from Jaunpur, said he was planning more such works, including translation of Shiv Chalisa prayer, as he felt that it will help people from the two communities to understand each other’s culture and beliefs.
ACCRA: Ghana’s population of 23 million includes 12,500 Hindus, of which 10,000, like their Swami Ghanananda Saraswati, are indigenous Africans. The African Hindu Monastery (AHM) is now Ghana’s largest centre of Hindu worship.
The AHM’s non-exclusionist attitude is apparent from the picture of Jesus alongside the Hindu gods on the main mantelpiece, as well as images of spiritual leaders from other religions. The monastery’s members also believe that the Supreme God is known by other names, such as Yahweh and Allah.
There is even one Muslim among the devotees. Jamer Baroudy says he was born into the Islamic faith but his mother introduced him to Hinduism when he was eight years old. Mr Baroudy says: “I am aware that Islam prohibits idol worshipping but then God doesn’t make any distinction. I visit this temple because I find solace here.”
The AHM is not just accommodating of multiple religious traditions but also open to people of all races, classes and communities. Indian worshippers are not only members of the dominant Sindhi community, but also recent immigrants: managers and contract labour alike. But most worshippers are Africans, again from different professions and backgrounds. When I asked a disciple about the group’s opinion of the caste system, he pointed out that there is no society in the world that does not break its people up into the privileged and the unprivileged, be it through profession, ancestry or race. Ghanaian Hindus like him, however, are clear that people have an equal right to education, the means to a good life and most importantly, religion.
KOZHIKODE: He is not a trained architect. He is not an artist. And he is not even a follower of Islam. Yet he comes up with most beautiful designs for mosques, so beautiful, his name has become synonymous with mosque building across Kerala.
Govindan Gopalakrishnan, 78, a resident of Thiruvananthapuram, has been constructing mosques all his life. But he is no ordinary contractor. He credits his ability to draw sketches for mosques as “bestowed by God.” For almost all mosque functionaries across the state, his name comes to mind when a new mosque is proposed or an old one is to be renovated.
The master designer is now busy with the construction works of Ilippakkulam mosque near Kattanam in Kollam district. But what brought him into limelight was his first work that dates back to 1960s when he was a school going child while he drew sketch for the dome of the famous Palayam Juma Masjid in Thiruvananthapuram. Several philanthropic businessman and even government officials decided to renovate the Palayam Juma Masjid as the earlier structure was then almost 200 years old.
Gopalkrishnan’s father was a contractor, whose blueprints of the buildings he constructed, prompted Gopalkrishnan to make a few sketches, which in turn, impressed Kerala’s chief architect. They worked in tandem to complete the mosque as per his designs. When the renovated, re-constructed mosque was inaugurated few years later by the then President Dr Zakir Hussain, Muslims were hooked by his style – domes, minarets, something innovative for the land endowed with natural beauty and where temples, mosques and churches are all built keeping in mind the local architectural traditions, in sync with nature.
BALI: In Indonesia, the country with the world’s largest Muslim population, this Ramayana ballet, performed in the Javanese style—a finessed form, associated with slow and deliberate movements—has been running continuously since 1961. In 2012, it was anointed by the Guinness Book as the most continuously staged performance in the world
“We are not just Muslim,” said Sotya, who was playing Janaka, Sita’s father, that evening. “We are people of Java. Here we learn Hindu and Buddhist stories, too.”
Temples in honour of Vishnu and Shiva are scattered through the islands, words from Sanskrit make appearances in the language, and names from the Mahabharata and Ramayana dot establishments and shops across cities. Still, in modern-day Indonesia, Hindus account for less than 2% of the population.
What is this culture that everyone in Java speaks of? In the nation’s most populous island, syncretism is locked into the DNA. It is bizarre for the Javanese to think of their religion and their cultural history as incompatible; Hindu stories are part of their legacy, even though their religious affiliation might lie elsewhere.
MUMBAI: The NGO, Jamiat Ulama-e-Maharashtra, gave out scholarships amounting to INR5 million to students from Class VI to graduation level as well as engineering and medical students from various schools and colleges in Mumbai.
Since the NGO’s establishment, it has always worked towards the betterment of the society, by providing any sort of help, that too without any form of religious discrimination. People belonging to any of the communities are free to seek help from the organisation.
According to the press release, the scholarships were given to 400 students of which 50 were Hindus. The cheques were handed over in the presence of Maulana Mustaqueem Azmi, state president of Jamiat Ulama-e-Maharashtra, Gulzar Azmi, president of its legal aid cell, Maulana Halimullah Qasmi, secretary and Congress MLA Amin Patel.
“This is not the first time that we have extended scholarships, we have given it earlier too and would continue to do so,” the release quoted Gulzar Azmi as saying, while speaking at the function organised to hand over scholarships.
TORONTO: A group of Greater Toronto Area Muslims is raising $10,000 to help repair Kitchener’s Ram Dham Hindu temple after it was vandalized on Sunday. The online fundraiser was inspired by a highly successful campaign to raise money for Peterborough’s only mosque after it was set ablaze over the weekend, says Arshia Lakhani.
“As Muslims we are quickly realizing that these hate crimes are not just affecting our community; it is not just our mosques being burned, or our people being attacked. This extends to all visible minorities who are victims of hatred,” the group wrote on its gofundme page.
“This is a time to show that love and solidarity between communities speaks louder than hatred. Please show your support.” The temple was vandalized when someone sent five stones crashing through two of the building’s windows.
History shows that many Muslim artists have produced exquisite paintings of Krishna. Centuries after they were created, connoisseurs delight in these enchanting revelations of skill and artistry.
The Mughal influence is visible in the Vaishnava devotional paintings, temple carvings and iconographic expressions. The supremacy of Krishna and the bhakti school was maintained by the Vaishnavas in the midst of an overwhelming Mughal influence during this period.
In the Mughal School, there was a considerable crossover between Vedic devotional themes and Persian style illustrations. After the Mughal Empire collapsed, Krishna leela scenes again proliferated in miniature works of artists under the patronage of non-Muslim states of Rajasthan, and from 1750 onwards, their work branched out into many wonderful schools of devotional art.
TRILOKPURI: Setting a precedent for communal harmony in the Capital, the Muharram procession in Trilokpuri saw the participation of both Hindus and Muslims. Members of the “Aman Committee” formed by the local police in the area had on Monday volunteered to lead the procession.
The gesture of solidarity was in response to the “jagran” day, when the Muslims had helped with prasad distribution.
A member of the Aman committee, Hans Raj said: “This is a message to the anti-social elements. Hindus and Muslims live here like brothers and we will continue to live in peace. No outsider can create fissures between us.”
Balaji Temple in Tividale near Birmingham was founded to meet the social needs and the spiritual aspirations of a large number of Hindus in the UK, especially in the Midlands. At the time of its opening in 1999, this was the largest temple of its kind in the UK.
Today, the temple is being visited by people from all over the country and from abroad.
The temple complex includes seven Faith hills created to represent seven major faiths in the United Kingdom and India. Seven hills on the site are to show our respect to seven major faiths and to reflect the seven peaks of Shri Venkateswara Temple in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, India. “Unity is divinity” is the motto of the temple and relevant for interfaith work. Lord Buddha’s statue, carved by a local sculptor, was installed on one of the hills in May 2001. Faith hill representing Christianity bears a plaque with an inscription “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and love your neighbour as yourself.”