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  • Writer's pictureMohinder Gulati

Celebrating Hindu Heritage Amidst Challenges

Dear Readers,


As the sun blazes overhead, casting its scorching rays in the month of May, we find ourselves amidst a fervent energy that ignites both reflection and celebration. In this edition of our May Newsletter, we aim not only to acknowledge the challenges facing Hindu communities but also to bask in the brilliance of our rich cultural heritage, illuminating the resilience that thrives even in the hottest of times.

Amidst the ebb and flow of societal dynamics, stories of hope and unity emerge, reminding us of the enduring spirit of humanity. The spiritual journey of Pakistani Hindus to Haridwar and the annual Hinglaj Mata festival in Baluchistan stand as testaments to the transcendent power of faith and tradition. These pilgrimages reaffirm the cultural ties that bind diverse communities and serve as beacons of hope in tumultuous times.

Furthermore, the generosity of individuals like Ramesh Bhutada echoes the ethos of philanthropy deeply ingrained in Hindu philosophy. Bhutada's significant donation to the Hindu American Foundation underscores the importance of supporting institutions that advocate for the rights and welfare of Hindu communities globally. Such acts of altruism embody the principle of seva (selfless service) and contribute to the betterment of society at large.

In the face of adversity, cultural resilience becomes a source of strength and solace. The chanting of the Hanuman Chalisa exemplifies this resilience, offering a spiritual sanctuary amidst life's trials and tribulations. Through the invocation of Lord Hanuman's blessings, communities come together in solidarity, seeking healing and renewal.

Recent ruling by the Supreme Court regarding Hindu marriages resonates deeply with the sanctity and significance of this institution. The Court's assertion that a Hindu marriage is not merely a social event but a sacred sacrament, requiring adherence to prescribed ceremonies under the Hindu Marriage Act, emphasizes the solemnity and sanctity of marital bonds.

Moreover, the Court underscores that a Hindu marriage, marked by solemnity and equality between spouses, is foundational to family and community. This ruling highlights the importance of upholding traditional rites and customs, reinforcing monogamy as the legally recognized form of marital relationship.

Ultimately, the Court's decision underscores the sacred and foundational nature of Hindu marriage in Indian society, reaffirming its pivotal role in preserving cultural heritage and fostering familial harmony.

Let us reaffirm our dedication to the collective endeavor of cherishing our cultural heritage and upholding the rights of every individual. As we embark on this journey of reflection and solidarity, may we draw inspiration from the timeless wisdom of Hindu philosophy and the enduring spirit of humanity that transcends borders and boundaries.

Together, let us forge a future rooted in unity, compassion, understanding, and mutual respect.

Warm Regards,

 

Sincerely

Dr Vinay Nalwa

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May Newsletter 1

(May 01– May 15)

In a world interconnected by the threads of globalization, the flow of information has become more pervasive than ever before. However, amid this vast sea of news, there exists a poignant narrative that often remains hidden – the violence against Hindus and the persecution they endure across various regions. This fortnightly report endeavours to bring out these often-overlooked incidents, providing an unbiased and comprehensive selection of news agencies’ reports on violence, persecution and discrimination faced by the Hindu community globally along with the positive reports celebrating Hindu Heritage.

The primary objective of this report is to present a clear and objective overview of incidents as reported by credible news agencies. By collating and analysing this information, our aim is to raise awareness about Hindu culture and values besides advocating for the protection of the fundamental rights and freedom of religion for Hindus worldwide.

 

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India and our neighborhood

A Bench of Justices B.V. Nagarathna and Augustine George Masih said a Hindu marriage is a 'samskara' and a sacrament which has to be accorded its status as an institution of great value in Indian society.

A Hindu marriage is not an event for "song and dance", "wining and dining" or a commercial transaction, the Supreme Court has observed and said it cannot be recognised in the "absence of a valid ceremony" under the Hindu Marriage Act.

In its April 19 order, the Bench said where a Hindu marriage is not performed in accordance with the applicable rites or ceremonies such as 'saptapadi' (taking seven steps by the groom and the bride jointly before the sacred fire), the marriage will not be construed as a Hindu marriage.

 

A new study has revealed significant shifts in the religious composition of populations across 167 countries between 1950 and 2015. In India, the share of majority Hindu population dipped by 7.82 percent, while that of the Muslim population saw a 43.15 percent increase in the corresponding period,

The report said all religious minorities in India, barring Jains and Parsis, saw a rise in their population share in this period. "India has seen the second most significant decline in the majority population (7.82%), only next to Myanmar (10%) within the immediate South Asian neighbourhood", the EAC-PM noted, adding that minority populations substantially shrunk in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Afghanistan.

The research, titled 'Share of Religious Minorities - A Cross-Country Analysis (1950-2015)', was conducted by members of the EAC-PM, and highlights a global trend toward greater religious heterogeneity over the past 65 years. The paper provides a critical examination of the shifts in religious demographics from 1950 to 2015 across the 167 countries, using the Religious Characteristics of States Dataset (RCS-Dem, 2017).

 

A contingent of 223 Hindu devotees from Pakistan's Sindh province undertook a spiritual pilgrimage to India. Upon reaching Har Ki Pauri in Haridwar, they conducted a reverent ritual, submerging the ashes of their forefathers in the holy River Ganga, adhering to ancient customs. These pilgrims had cherished the ashes of their departed family members for an extended period.

By immersing the ashes of their ancestors in the sacred waters of the River Ganga, they trust that their ancestors will attain salvation.

Articulating their challenges in journeying from Pakistan to India, the pilgrims appealed to the Indian government to simplify the visa procedure. They stressed the significance of obtaining visas punctually to facilitate their pilgrimage.

 

The dramatic surroundings of Hingol National Park in Baluchistan province are the setting for Pakistan’s largest Hindu festival, Hinglaj Yatra, which started on Friday and ends on Sunday. Organisers say more than 1,00,000 Hindus are expected to participate. Muslim-majority Pakistan is home to 4.4 million Hindus, just 2.14% of the population, and Hinglaj Mata is one of the few Hindu sites that continues to draw large numbers of pilgrims every year from across the country.

Hindus believe Hinglaj Mata is one of the places where the remains of Sati, the goddess of marital felicity and longevity, fell to earth after she ended her life.

The journeys begin hundreds of kilometers (miles) away, mostly from neighbouring Sindh province. Hundreds of packed buses set off from cities like Hyderabad and Karachi, travelling along the Makran Coastal Highway that hugs Pakistan’s south and southwest. It’s a few kilometers (miles) from the main road to the mud volcano and then, from there, almost 45 kilometers (25 miles) to Hinglaj Mata.

 

United States of America

The Hindu American Foundation (HAF), a group that promotes the rights of Hindus in America, has received a $1 million donation from Indian-American philanthropist Ramesh Bhutada. According to news agency PTI, Houston businessman Bhutada reportedly promised US$1 million to HAF over the following four years at a recent event hosted by the Hindu American Foundation.

In March 2023, Bhutada gave a million US dollars to the Hindu University of America, which is in Florida. It is the only school in America with the goal of offering instruction grounded in Hindu philosophy.

 

“Jai Hanuman gyan gun sagar…

Those who remember Shri Hanuman in thought, words and deeds

with sincerity and faith, are rescued from all crises in life.

– Hanuman Chalisa extract

This is the third spiritual gathering that revolves around the continuous chanting of the Hanuman Chalisa, a Hindu devotional song dedicated to Lord Hanuman. Its purpose: to honour the ability of Hanuman to gain victory over evil and to pray for the spiritual and physical elevation of the nation.

Pundit Ravi-Ji, one of the driving forces behind the Hanuman Chalisa event, says that in 2015, Epic Hanomaan Chalisa (Hanuman Chalisa) attracted some 12,000 devotees and supporters at the Divali Nagar(Trinidad and Tobago).

 

The destruction of murtis at a Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) temple in Curepe (a town in the East–West Corridor of Trinidad and Tobago) is being described as a hate crime and the result of past political silence in the face of similar attacks.

The attack, which took place around 3 a.m. at the Bharatiya Vidya Abhyas Mandali – commonly known as Watts Street Mandir – saw the destruction of three life-sized and five smaller concrete murtis.

Legal adviser to the SDMS, Dinesh Rambally, said this act of desecration points to a targeted attack on the Hindu community. Rambally is also the Member of Parliament for Chaguanas West.

“The members of the executive of the Maha Sabha are convinced by what we have seen over a period of time, and culminating with this act of desecration, that this is targeted at the Hindu community,” he said yesterday at the Curepe mandir.

“We do hope that something will come out of this particular incident because all the incidents that occurred before nothing has really materialised out of those in terms of anyone being brought to justice or charged,” he said.

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