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Posts Tagged ‘hinduism’

What it meant to be a Hindu for me

Posted by Admin on May 26, 2012

http://cosmicstories.wordpress.com/2012/05/13/what-it-meant-to-be-a-hindu-for-me/

What it meant to be a Hindu for me

Even before I opened my eyes for the first time in this world, I was a Hindu. I was a Hindu by default because I was born in a Hindu family. I was marked with this word. Although, I didn’t know what that word really meant, I used to write my religion as Hindu in all the school and college forms. I still do that.

In this essay, I am not going to argue about what Hindu really means. I will do that in the next Blog. In this Blog, I will rather tell my readers about what I have experienced and how I see Hinduism. I am not religious anymore. I wonder if I was ever so religious. I was born in a Brahmin Family in one of the most underdeveloped states in India. It is necessary to talk about my birthplace because it has a good significance here. An underdeveloped state means that most of my family members and almost all of the society were too much inculcated with the idea of religion. But, can we here make a comparison of extremely religious Muslim or Christian society with an extremely religious Hindu society? How did I find my way out of this trap of irrational religious beliefs? Simple! Because Hinduism generally does not enforces its beliefs on anyone.

My friends in west or Pakistan are unable to understand how a Hindu really lives or practices his faith. That is warranted because they compare Hinduism with their own prejudices and religion.

Muslims laugh on Hinduism thinking that Hindus worship a million gods in Idols and drink Cow piss (Yuck!). I never did that. Nor any of my family members ever did that too. We have a few cows in our farm-house but we only used them to get milk. Yes, we did have idols of Gods in our temple at home, but they were just 3 or 4 of different kinds. Nobody can build a temple of a million Gods.

This is Goddess Durga

Goddess Durga is worshiped as the principle God in our family and village. We do consider all other Hindu Gods like Brahma, Vishnu or Shiva. A Hindu can choose what God he wants to worship. We worshiped Durga and had idols of a few other Gods in our temple. How many times did we used to worship? Well! My father worships everyday but mostly it was unnecessary. Anyone could worship or just bow his head sometimes before the idol, anytime of the day or week or even month. There are no strict enforced laws for worshiping-Every Hindu is to himself.

Yesterday, a few boys came in my Room with a collection of audio jokes in their mobile. Some of these jokes were sexual and directed towards Hindu Gods. Everyone just laughed- Even my room-partner who is a staunch believer in Hinduism. Even he laughed when his God was brutally mocked in the joke. One important thing to say: Nobody was killed. I was so astonished to see that. How can a believing Hindu joke crudely on his Gods? But that is a relieving truth that I have lived from the last 25 years. Hindus do not just get angry and kill anyone for mocking their Gods. Just think about what would have happened to those boys if we were Muslims and their crude jokes were directed towards Muhammad. *Stoning*??

River Ganga is considered Holy in Hinduism. It is said that anyone who dies at its banks gets heaven as reward in afterlife. I have never considered Ganga as a Holy river. It is just like any other river. I used to say that before my other Hindu friends in my early youth. None of them ever replied back with an angry tone, saying that I was offending Hinduism. No! All the other Hindus would easily accept that it was my choice. Anyways, I love River Ganga as I would love River Nile; it has served for centuries as the cradle of civilization.

There is a concept of heaven and hell in Monotheistic religions. There is some concept like that in Hinduism too. But I don’t know any Hindus in my friend or family circle who really think or care about that. Though, they all believe in Hinduism but still they don’t have the knowledge of any Heaven or Hell. They just live their life easily, doing their everyday duties. I was never frightened with Hell. I have never done anything good only because of some reward of heaven. That’s just a way of life for ordinary Hindus. What most of the Hindus think is that when you die, your soul becomes a part of the greater soul (God) or based on your actions, you reincarnate.

All of my family members think that God is everywhere. He is the creator and sustainer of life. He answers prayers and he loves his creation. Many of the followers of like Christianity and Islam think that Hindus worship idols thinking that idols are God. But this is not true- Many Hindus only worship idols because they think that they are worshipping an infinite through the finite- that they are worshipping an unknowable thorough a knowable object.

All of the scholars of Hinduism agree that Hindu is not specifically a religious term. It is a nationalistic term which means people living to the east of river Indus. I call myself a Hindu because of that definition only. I was born in India, therefore I am a Hindu. Like in the same way, a person born in America is American.

Hinduism is a strange religion. It gives a lot of space to its believers to paint any picture of God that he/she likes. It is not prescriptive and even an Atheist can be a Hindu.

A person can be a Hindu, even if:

He worships daily or even rarely in a year.

He eats whatever he likes or doesn’t eat Non- Veg. ever.

He thinks Ganga is holy or not.

He is free to respect or revile any of the Hindu Gods. But he will still remain a Hindu. You can’t take that away from him. There is a lot of space given in this religion. Do what you want!  But with all that freedom, you are still bound under the chains of irrational beliefs.

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A brief history of Hinduism

Posted by Admin on May 26, 2012

http://cosmicstories.wordpress.com/2012/05/17/a-brief-history-of-hinduism/

A brief history of Hinduism

May 17, 2012 by

|| Like mothers to their calves, like milch kine with their milk, so, Sindhu, unto thee the roaring rivers run.
Thou leadest as a warrior king thine army’s wings what time thou comest in the van of these swift streams. || [Rig Veda]

The word Hindu is derived from word Sindhu which means Indus in English. The religion of the people at eastern side of Indus was called Hinduism by Arabs and British.

When we didn’t have any answers to the questions of the universe, our ancestors used to invoke a super-natural entity to answer those curiosities. That Supernatural power is God. Religion is a set of cultures and beliefs which tells human-beings about how to live their life morally and connect their human self with a metaphysical self of God. Naturally, every tribe, culture, nation, race must have had their own set of supernatural beliefs. In India, different groups of people believed in different kind of Gods and performed different rituals to please them.

The oldest civilization in India established itself around the river Indus.  It was called the Indus Valley Civilization. This is considered one of the oldest civilizations in human history (est. 3300 BCE). Seals have been found during excavations which show that the Indus valley people revered a deity which almost looked like Lord Shiva. Also, seals of Swastika and remnants of fire altars have been found in the excavations of Kalibangan.

The Indus valley civilization declined around 1500 BCE. It was the time when Vedic Rituals and culture took over. We call this period as the Vedic periods because it was when the earliest Vedas were formed. Rig-Veda is the oldest Veda. Though it is very hard to determine the precise age and location where early hymns of Rig-Veda were formed but it can be argued that Vedas are thousands of years old. Rig-Veda talks about Soma as God; also Soma is an intoxicating plant that is currently found in western Pakistan. The other two initial Veda were Sama-Veda and Yajur-Veda. The last Veda to be compiled was Atharva-Veda during 1000 BC. It is a collection of hymns and chants for healing diseases. One point to mention here is that all the Vedas were propagated orally. That is, Teachers in different schools of thoughts in Vedic societies used to preach the Vedas orally. The students would cram those verses by heart and teach their own students. It was not until 300 BCE that Vedas were codified into written language. Think about the vast periods in which Vedas were just propagated orally? Anyone can easily deduce by logic that Vedas must have been corrupted and changed by some of the teachers in between. Fire-sacrifices, called yajñawere performed during this period, and Vedic mantras chanted but no temples or idols are

Seals of the Indus Valley Civilization. also showing Swastikas. British Museum. Personal photograph, 2005.

known.

Around 500 BCE, there were many schools of thoughts all over India. They taught similar or different concepts of the world. Many new texts were written during that time. Puranas are the texts which tell the stories about Gods, Philosophy, Universe, Morality and other things. Gods fight against the demons in these texts and humans get a reason to endure their earthly pains and hope for a good world by praying and believing in an afterlife through Puranas. According to Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Śrīmad Bhāgavatam ; Puranas are the texts through which an ordinary individual can learn about the Vedas.

                                                       nārāyaṇaḿ namaskṛtya

                                                            naraḿ caiva narottamam

devīḿ sarasvatīḿ vyāsaḿ

tato jayam udīrayet”

[All men are not equal. There are men who are conducted by the mode of goodness, others who are under the mode of passion and others who are under the mode of ignorance. The Purāṇas are so divided that any class of men can take advantage of them and gradually regain their lost position and get out of the hard struggle for existence.]

Epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata were compiled during 500 BCE. They were also propagated through oral traditions.

Goddess Durga riding a Tiger.

Until now, my readers must have understood that several texts and cultures had come out in different parts of India during this period. Different groups in India worshipped different Gods; it was based on the school of thought with which they were influenced. Let us take the example of Goddess Durga. She is mostly worshipped in the Himalayan ranges of Uttrakhand (Indian state) or Bengal (The state that was once a dense jungle of Mahogany trees and Tigers). The major occupation of people of these places must have been to collect woods and other things from dense forests. They must have been afraid from Tigers and Lions living in those jungles. As we know, people start worshiping those things that they fear off. Is it a surprise that Goddess Durga rides a tiger? She is an embodiment of the fear that those tribal people felt, she is s goddess borne out of the fear of those people.

Buddhism and Jainism are offshoots of the early Vedic religions. These were the schools which did not believe in the superiority of Vedas. They taught their own philosophies of reaching a higher goal through breathing exercises, worldly acts and meditations.

Islam entered India during 7th century CE.  It was the period when many Indians converted to Islam through force and subjugation. The Indian philosophies about God we got highly influenced by the thoughts of Islam. Numerous Muslim rulers or their army generals such as Aurangzeb and Malik Kafur destroyed Hindu temples and persecuted non-Muslims; however some, such as Akbar, were more tolerant. It was during this period when Bhakti movement in India got prominence. There were many Indians in south that used to worship only one God. They were either Shaivites (Followers of Shiva) or Vaishnavites (Followers of Vishnu). They started preaching about one religion in India and they brought all the different rituals and cultures in India under one umbrella body of Hinduism. During the 14th–17th centuries, a great Bhakti movement swept through central and northern India, initiated by a loosely associated group of teachers or saints. Ravidas, Srimanta Sankardeva, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Vallabhacharya, Surdas, Meera Bai, Kabir, Tulsidas, Namdev, Dnyaneshwar, Tukaram and other mystics spearheaded the Bhakti movement in the North. They taught that people could cast aside the heavy burdens of ritual and caste, and the subtle complexities of philosophy, and simply express their overwhelming love for God. This period was also characterized by a spate of devotional literature in vernacular prose and poetry in the ethnic languages of the various Indian states or provinces. The word Hindu was borrowed into European languages from the Arabic term al-Hind, referring to the land of the people who live across the River Indus, itself from the Persian term Hindū, which refers to all Indians. By the 13th century, Hindustān emerged as a popular alternative name of India, meaning the “land of Hindus“. This was the time when Hinduism was really born. Before that it was just a collection of different faiths and cultures that were followed in different parts of India.

Hinduism can be called as a collective term for all the different traditions that were followed at the eastern side of river Indus. The Britishers who ruled India called Hinduism as a religion that was followed all over India. As per the above definition, Hinduism cannot be characterized as a religion like the western religions of Islam and Christianity. Some academics suggest that Hinduism can be seen as a category with “fuzzy edges”, rather than as a well-defined and rigid entity.

Hinduism does not have a common or single founder. It has evolved since the ages. Hinduism is flexible and accommodates any views that come to its vicinity. Therefore, there is no particular time at which we can say that Hinduism was born. Nobody can say about which book is the central book of Hinduism. Nobody can define who a Hindu is? Because of its weak and fuzzy boundaries, Hinduism is both a monotheistic as well as a Polytheistic religion. That depends on the followers. A follower can easily choose what he wants to believe into. There are numerous Hindus who believe in one God like Vishnu and Shiva and plus there are a million others who believe in millions of Gods.

Just remember that, if a person is from India and is not a Christian, Jew or Muslim, than most probably he is a Hindu. Even if his beliefs do not match with his neighboring Hindu – Hinduism allows for that variety. There is no common founder of Hinduism. It has evolved as things evolve with time and finally, it has found a name for itself.

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Chandrashila – In the arms of Shiva

Posted by Admin on May 24, 2012

http://in.lifestyle.yahoo.com/photos/chandrashila-in-the-arms-of-shiva-1329741657-slideshow/

Chandrashila – In the arms of Shiva

From Tunganath, the highest Shiva temple in India, a trail leads up the hill towards the peak of Chandrashila. On a clear day, this unique vantage point offers a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains. This, truly, is Lord Shiva‘s kingdom. This is the second part of the slideshow about Tunganath by Travel Editor BIJOY VENUGOPAL

Chandrashila

The peak of Chandrashila, cloaked in fog on this autumn morning, looks out at a panorama of mountains. Chandrashila is 13,000 feet above sea level.

Tungnath temple

The Tungnath temple has withstood the continuous assault of the elements.

Bell at Tungnath temple

A bell rests against the stone wall of the temple.

Ganesha, Tungnath temple

A relief of Ganesha carved on the temple wall.

Weathered exterior of the …

Continuous exposure to wind, rain and snow has left scars.

Lodgers chat over tea

Shopkeepers and mule drivers make conversation outside the small snack shops, which double as lodges. Most have one or two tiny spare rooms, rented out for the night. Common toilets are available but they are terrifying.

Devloke Hotel

Our room at Devloke Hotel, with a view of the mighty mountains, was not uncomfortable. For safety and warmth, we tucked into our sleeping bags. At night, we heard rats on the roof. Our host Naveen assured us that they were harmless.

Sadhus at Tungnath

Two sadhus joined us at breakfast and began to smoke a chillum, after which the younger of them began to stare at the mist in silence. The elder sadhu proceeded to sew a tunic from a length of sack. They told us that they were on their way to Badrinath, 140 km away by road, on foot. When we expressed our surprise they told us about an old path through the forest that a few sadhus still frequent. We saw them seven days later on the road to Badrinath.

Akashkund at Tungnath

Inspired by the story, we decided to go looking for the trail. From Akashkund, believed to be a source of rivers, a stream meanders downhill towards Chopta.

A farmer's hut in Dug …

Along the trail we came across a simple farmer’s hut set in a forest glade beside a brook and with a cucumber vine bursting with bright yellow blossoms.

Curious Onlookers

There were no dangers along the way. We were told to watch out for Himalayan Black Bears but none came to meet us. However, a herd of grazing cows and buffaloes showed interest and we had to hurry on quickly.

The old pilgrim trail

We scouted the foothills of Chopta for the ancient pilgrim route. It was a footpath, and most of it was overgrown with vegetation. Yet, remnants of it were still to be seen at this meadow in Dugalbitta.

Cowdust hour

The pilgrim trail intersects the road at various points and through a lot of hard climbing we were able to return to Chopta to spend the night. From the trail we saw these cattle return home for night.

Sunset at Tungnath

We made haste and arrived at Tungnath to watch the sunset. The next day, we planned to explore the peak of Chandrashila.

Towards Chandrashila

Above Tungnath is a small rocky path leading to a peak called Chandrashila, about 13,000 feet above mean sea level. There are no trees here, only rocks and grassy meadows called bugyals.

View from the path to Cha …

The trail offered us fleeting glimpses of the snow-capped peaks of Kedarnath and Chaukhamba but the mist quickly veiled them.

Himalayan Monal pheasant

We saw a shape move in the dim light of early dawn. It’s a Monal pheasant, the state bird of Uttarakhand. When it steps into the sun we see its colors — dazzling violet-blue, green and orange. It surely stole the peacock’s thunder.

View of mountains from the …

Chandrashila

We climbed for nearly 40 minutes, catching our breath every now and then. Finally, a rusted, wind-battered signboard announced our destination.

Chaukhamba from Chandrash …

For an instant, the mist cleared and we were offered the breathtaking view of Chaukhamba, its four snow-capped crowns gleaming in the morning sun.

Cairns and prayer stones

Exploring the peak, we came upon stacks of stones arranged in cairns. Someone was already here, and praying hard.

Meditating for mind contr …

Ahead of us, on the edge of a cliff, a South Korean gentleman aged about 50 meditated on the morning sun. He was shirtless in temperatures that hovered around zero degrees Celsius. Small huddles of chrysanthemum flowers adorned the cairns.

Cleaning up the mountain

Nearby, his companion collected plastic bags and trash left behind by other tourists. The men said they were here to practice mind control. Every morning, they would climb up to Chandrashila before dawn and wait for sunrise. We were moved beyond words. As we watched, more tourists came by, chatting loudly. One of them was eating a bar of chocolate. He suddenly discovered that his cell phone had received a signal and jubilantly announced it to his two friends. They shouted and laughed for a few moments and then the first chap crushed his chocolate wrapper and dropped it on the ground. As we watched them with embarrassment, the Koreans smiled at us and continued cleaning up the peak.

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The beautiful temples of Bali

Posted by Admin on January 28, 2012

http://in.lifestyle.yahoo.com/photos–the-beautiful-temples-of-bali.html?page=all

The Indonesian island of Bali is home to the majority of the country’s Hindus. Balinese Hinduism is characterized by the worship of the supreme god Acintya, along with the trinity in Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The art and ritual of the Balinese Hindus trace back to influences from the 4th century when Hinduism reached the island’s shores. Balinese temples are ornate, beautiful and situated in visually stunning locales. LAKSHMI SHARATH traipses through Bali and returns with these breathtaking picture postcards.

By Lakshmi Sharath | Yahoo Lifestyle Entertainment – Tue 24 Jan, 2012 2:16 PM IST

A roadside temple in Bali
Roadside Temple in Bali, Indonesia © LAKSHMI SHARATH
If you think India has many shrines, think again. In Bali, Indonesia’s Hindu island, there are temples everywhere – in streets, atop mountains, clinging to cliffs, on the seashore, and in the courtyard of every home.

Devotees at the Mother Besakih temple
Balinese Hindus at the Mother Besakih Temple in Bali, Indonesia © LAKSHMI SHARATH

The Mother Besakih temple is one of the most important temples in Bali. It is located atop Mount Agung. It is not just one shrine but a cluster of 20 temples overlooking the villages and the green slopes of the mountain. Balinese believe that the good spirits along with their deities reside here and the shrines resemble houses built for them.

Goa Gajah
Goa Gajah temple in Bali, Indonesia © LAKSHMI SHARATH

Goa, I learned, is pronounced “Guha” as in many Indian languages. It refers to a 1,000-year-old cave excavated here that houses the Hindu trinity of gods and Ganesha, whom the Balinese know as “Gajah” (as in elephant). The 11th century site, called Lwa Gajah, was not discovered until the 1950s and was believed to be a sanctuary of a Buddhist monk. Carved images of the Buddha and smaller shrines and a step-well dot the green landscape here.

Uluwatu
Pura Uluwatu is one of Bali’s most spectacular temples © LAKSHMI SHARATH

Bali’s shrines are often located in the most exotic landscapes. This is Pura Uluwatu right atop the cliff. The scenery is breathtaking as you climb uphill through a small forested area patrolled by boisterous monkeys.

Bali’s royal shrine
Royal shrine in Bali, Indonesia © LAKSHMI SHARATH

Pura Taman Ayun, literally “beautiful garden”, is the shrine of the royalty in Bali. Built in the 17th century, this temple in Mengwi, south Bali, is believed to house the ancestors of the royal dynasty and their family deities.

Puppets galore
Puppets in Bali, Indonesia © LAKSHMI SHARATH

The sounds of performances fill the air as you walk into any of these temples. Wayang or shadow puppetry, the Kecak or fire-dance, and various other local dances like Barong, Legong and Pendet are some of the art forms to experience while you visit these shrines.

Sunset at Tanah Lot
Tanah Lot temple in Bali, Indonesia © LAKSHMI SHARATH

No trip is complete without a glimpse of the spectacular sunset in Tanah Lot temple, a tourist magnet located on a rocky oceanic island. The 15th century shrine, dedicated to the sea spirits, was built under the direction of a priest and is believed to be guarded by snakes.

Lakshmi Sharath is a media professional, traveler, travel-writer, photographer and blogger.

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German company removes objectionable yoga mats with images of Hindu deities

Posted by Admin on January 23, 2012

http://in.news.yahoo.com/german-company-removes-objectionable-yoga-mats-images-hindu-131310254.html

By ANI | ANI – 9 hours ago

Nevada (US), Jan 22 (ANI): Germany based firm Yogistar has reportedly withdrawn from its websiteyoga mats carrying the images of Hindu deities, which upset Hindus had called inappropriate and asked for immediate withdrawal.

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, has thanked Yogistar for immediate action and for listening to the sentiments of about one billion strong worldwide Hindu community.

Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, in a statement on this issue on January 19, had said that Hindu deities were meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to be trampled under one’s feet while doing yoga, as in some of Yogistar yoga mats.

Rajan Zed had argued that these deities were highly revered in Hinduism and inappropriate usage of Hindu deities or concepts for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the devotees.

Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought and it should not be taken lightly. Symbols of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled, Zed had stressed.

Some of the products shown on Yogistar website on January 19 that Hindu devotees would find inappropriate included yoga mats carrying images of Hindu deities Shiva, Lakshmi and Ganesha, which were classified as “Yogamatte Getter-Edition” with each carrying a price tag of 24.90 Euros (about 1623 Indian Rupees); and these were reportedly no longer seen on the website today.

Yogistar Vertriebs with tagline “designed fur yoga”, which sells online at “yogistar.com”, in addition to yoga mats also carries yoga related tops, pants, shirts, leggings, jerseys, CDs/DVDs/Videos, blocks, belts, bottles, bags, stools, T-shirts, books; besides malas, meditationshockers, meditation timers, netis, teas, ayurvedic kajals, meditation cushions, etc. Based in Wiggensbach (Germany) with contact information given in Wendelins (Germany) and branch in Switzerland, its Geschaftsfehrer (managing director) are listed as: Matthias Beck, Uwe Haardt. (ANI)

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Diwali Celebrations Around the World

Posted by Admin on October 28, 2011

http://in.lifestyle.yahoo.com/diwali-celebrations-world-082624838.html

Though Diwali is an Indian festival, it is not limited to only India.

Various other countries celebrate the festival with equal pomp and gaiety as Indians do. The ultimate essence of Diwali, i.e. the triumph of good over evil, is maintained throughout different places and time zones.

Here are some countries of the world that celebrate Diwali.

Diwali Celebrations Around the World

Mauritius

Mauritius boasts of a staggering 63% of its entire population to be of Indian origin, 80% of which follow Hinduism. Therefore, Diwali is a festival of great significance in the island country. The festival is celebrated around the same time as in India. Beautifully lit earthen lamps are placed around the houses turning the island into a picturesque landscape. Sweets are specially prepared for the occasion and people of other religious and cultural beliefs also join the Hindu counterparts in the celebrations. Diwali also symbolizes the arrival of the summer season in the country.

Diwali Celebrations Around the World

Australia

Australia has an estimated population of 100,000 Indians settled there, with the majority of them being Hindus. Diwali is quite a major festival in the country with large scale Diwali events, like carnivals and fairs, organized in cities such as Sydney and Melbourne. The events feature fireworks display, food stalls offering Diwali sweets and delicacies, musical performances and also burning the effigy of Ravana.

Diwali Celebrations Around the World

Japan

In the land of the rising sun, Diwali signifies progress, happiness, longevity and prosperity. The festival is not celebrated in the same way as in our home country. Instead of lighting their homes up, people go out to gardens and orchards and hang colorful lanterns and paper-made structures on the branches of trees. The places of worship are decorated with wallpapers so as to bring about a festive mood amongst those who celebrate the festival.

Diwali Celebrations Around the World

Malaysia

Despite having only about 8% of its population belonging to Hindu community, Diwali is an important festival in Malaysia. Known as Hari Diwali, it is a public holiday in the country. The traditional ritual of oil bath begins the festival which includes prayers at household altars and visit to temples. Temples are adorned with flowers and oil lamps while parades and concerts are organized in some of the major cities. Firecrackers are, however, banned in this country.

Diwali Celebrations Around the World

South Africa

South Africa, a country which fought a long battle against apartheid, is home to the largest immigrant Indian population in the world. Most of the descendants of the immigrant Indians are settled in the KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng provinces and comprise about 65% of the entire population there. Most of them, reportedly, trace their origins to Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat and the rituals are held in accordance with their communities, and in the same way as in India.

Diwali Celebrations Around the World

Thailand

Thailand is known to be a culturally rich country, hence a celebration of one of the most important festivals of the Hindus is an integral part of its itinerary. Here, Diwali is likened to ‘Lam Kriyongh’ which is also celebrated around the month of October/November. Here, the diyas are made of banana leaves instead, which hold candles, a coin and incense. The diyas are then set afloat on a river which makes it quite a spectacular sight for the people to witness.

Diwali Celebrations Around the World

Nepal

In Nepal, Diwali is known as ‘Tihar‘ and is celebrated in a grand manner over a span of 5 days. During these 5 days, animals like cows, dogs and crows are worshipped apart from Goddess Lakshmi. The people of the Nepali community play ‘Deusi’ and ‘Bhailo’ in which boys and girls go singing and dancing to different houses, giving them blessings while the owner of the house gives them either food items or money. The festivities end with ‘Bhai Tika’ where sisters give tika (colored powder applied on the forehead) and a garland of flowers to their brothers, praying for the brother’s long life and prosperity.

Diwali Celebrations Around the World

Singapore

Singapore’s Diwali celebrations are amongst the brightest in the world, with a spectacular display of lights throughout different cities. Diwali is one festival that is celebrated irrespective of ethnicity or religion, in the country. The place called “Little India” located in Serangoon Road, is fully covered with lights, colorful arches and garlands. Is is a custom to visit the temple to offer prayers and towards the evening, children and other grown ups go to open areas to light sparklers.

Diwali Celebrations Around the World

Trinidad & Tobago

Diwali holds a special place in the hearts of citizens of the Caribbean nation, with 43% of the population being of Indian origin. The day is officially declared as a public holiday and is looked at with much anticipation throughout the year. Celebrations of the festival begin 9 days in advance of the actual event. These 9 days are laced with dance performances, displays by Hindu religious sects, theatre, worship of Goddess Lakshmi and lighting of diyas. Areas having a strong Hindu population are decorated with blinding lights and the last day sees a spectacular display of fireworks.

Diwali Celebrations Around the World

Britain

Since Indians are the second largest ethnic minority group in Britain, Diwali is the highlight of the Indian calendar in the country. The festival, though primarily celebrated in much fervor by NRIs, does not remain limited to them. The festive spirit trickles down to people of other cultures and with it being celebrated at the House of Commons, gains even more significance. Leicester city is particularly noted for its major Diwali celebrations as a large number of people gather there to celebrate the Indian festival. (Special Features, MensXP.com)

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Indian Rebellion of 1857

Posted by Admin on February 16, 2010

Indian Rebellion of 1857

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Indian Rebellion of 1857/8
1857 rebellion map.jpg
A 1912 map of ‘Northern India The Mutiny 1857-9’ showing the centres of rebellion including the principal ones: Meerut, Delhi, Cawnpore (Kanpur), Lucknow, Jhansi, and Gwalior.
Date 10 May 1857
Location India (cf. 1857)[1]
Result Rebellion Suppressed,
End of Company rule in India
Control taken by the British Crown
Territorial
changes
Indian Empire created out of former-East India Company territory, some land returned to native rulers, other land confiscated by the Crown.
Belligerents
Mughal Empire
Flag of the British East India Company (1801).svg East India Company Sepoys
7 Indian princely states

Oudh-flag.gif Deposed King of Oudh
Deposed ruler of the independent state of Jhansi
Some Indian civilians and converts to Islam.

United Kingdom British Army
Flag of the British East India Company (1801).svg East India Company‘s Sepoys
Native Irregulars
and EIC British regulars United Kingdom British civilian volunteers raised in Bengal presidency
21 Princely states

Pre 1962 Flag of Nepal.png Kingdom of Nepal
Other smaller states in region

Commanders
Mughal Empire Bahadur Shah II
Nana Sahib
Mughal Empire Mirza Mughal
Flag of the British East India Company (1801).svg Bakht Khan
Rani Lakshmi Bai
Flag of the British East India Company (1801).svg Tantya Tope
Oudh-flag.gif Begum Hazrat Mahal
Commander-in-Chief, India:
United Kingdom George Anson (to May 1857)
United Kingdom Sir Patrick Grant
United Kingdom Sir Colin Campbell (from August 1857)
Pre 1962 Flag of Nepal.png Jang Bahadur[2]

The Indian Rebellion of 1857 began as a mutiny of sepoys of the British East India Company‘s army on 10 May 1857, in the town of Meerut, and soon erupted into other mutinies and civilian rebellions largely in the upper Gangetic plain and central India, with the major hostilities confined to present-day Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, northern Madhya Pradesh, and the Delhi region.[3] The rebellion posed a considerable threat to Company power in that region,[4] and it was contained only with the fall of Gwalior on 20 June 1858.[3] The rebellion is also known as India’s First War of Independence, the Great Rebellion, the Indian Mutiny, the Revolt of 1857, the Uprising of 1857 and the Sepoy Mutiny.

Other regions of Company controlled India—Bengal province, the Bombay Presidency, and the Madras Presidency—remained largely calm.[3] In Punjab, the Sikh princes backed the Company by providing both soldiers and support.[3] The large princely states, Hyderabad, Mysore, Travancore, and Kashmir, as well as the states of Rajputana did not join the rebellion.[5] In some regions, such as Oudh, the rebellion took on the attributes of a patriotic revolt against European presence.[6] Rebel leaders, such as the Rani of Jhansi, became folk heroes in the nationalist movement in India half a century later,[3] however, they themselves “generated no coherent ideology” for a new order.[7] The rebellion led to the dissolution of the East India Company in 1858, and forced the British to reorganize the army, the financial system, and the administration in India.[8] India was thereafter directly governed by the Crown in the new British Raj.[5]

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[edit] East India Company expansion in India

India in 1765 and 1805 showing East India Company Territories

India in 1837 and 1857 showing East India Company and other territories

Although the British East India Company had earlier administered the factory areas established for trading purposes, its victory in the Battle of Plassey in 1757 marked the beginning of its rule in India. The victory was consolidated in 1764 at the Battle of Buxar (in Bihar), when the defeated Mughal emperor, Shah Alam II, granted control of Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa to the Company. The Company soon expanded its territories around its bases in Bombay and Madras: the Anglo-Mysore Wars (1766–1799) and the Anglo-Maratha Wars (1772–1818) led to control of most of India south of the Narmada River.

After the turn of the 19th century, Governor-General Wellesley began what became two decades of accelerated expansion of Company territories.[9] This was achieved either by subsidiary alliances between the Company and local rulers or by direct military annexation. The subsidiary alliances created the Princely States (or Native States) of the Hindu maharajas and the Muslim nawabs. Punjab, North-West Frontier Province, and Kashmir were annexed after the Anglo-Sikh Wars in 1849; however, Kashmir was immediately sold under the Treaty of Amritsar (1850) to the Dogra Dynasty of Jammu and thereby became a princely state. In 1854, Berar was annexed, and the state of Oudh was added two years later.

[edit] Causes of the rebellion

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