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Connecting Global Threads of Faith December Newsletter -2 (December 15 - 31)


From the Editorial Team


Dear Members,

As we just concluded the culmination of the year, a disconcerting atmosphere envelops the annual pilgrimage to the revered Sabarimala Temple in Kerala. This pilgrimage has taken an unsettling turn, marked by distressing reports of mismanagement and chaos, subjecting devotees, including children, to unprecedented hardships. The gravity of the situation has escalated to the point where pilgrims are reluctantly abandoning their sacred journey, prompting profound concerns about the administration and management of this revered site by the Kerala government. The pilgrimage, renowned for its spiritual significance, has been tarnished by the absence of essential amenities, fostering an atmosphere of distress and disillusionment among the devotees.

In response to the mounting criticism, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has asserted that the situation is under control, attributing the challenges to the increased daily footfall of pilgrims. The Travancore Devaswom Board, entrusted with the management of the temple, introduced a new dynamic queue system, drawing inspiration from the Tirupati Temple model, to regulate the flow of pilgrims. However, reports indicate that these measures have fallen short in managing the flow of pilgrims.

The primary causes of the chaos at Sabarimala are identified as: (i) lack of coordination between Devaswom employees and the police. (ii) poor coordination between the police and the Kerala State Road Transportation officials, resulting in an inadequate number of buses during peak times; (iii) absence of volunteers along the trekking path and the discontinuation of effective practices from the past, by replacing volunteers with temporary contract staff.

Heart-wrenching visuals of weeping children at Sabarimala have circulated widely, underscoring the human impact of the mismanagement. One particularly poignant video depicts a child desperately seeking his father in the crowded area of Nilakkal. Such distressing scenes have become emblematic of the larger crisis unfolding at this sacred pilgrimage site.

The Nair Service Society has expressed its concern over the increasing difficulties faced by pilgrims, calling upon the government to take immediate action to regain control of the situation. Both the Travancore Devaswom Board and the Kerala Police are facing criticism for their failure to effectively manage the pilgrims and reduce waiting times. Allegations of discrepancies in pilgrim statistics between the police and the Devaswom Board have further intensified the controversy.

The sacred pilgrimage to Sabarimala holds immense cultural and religious significance, and every effort must be made to ensure that devotees can undertake their journey with dignity, safety, and reverence. The need for a thorough review of crowd management strategies, coordination between relevant authorities, and the reinstatement of effective practices from the past is evident to restore the sanctity of this revered pilgrimage.

It is imperative for the Kerala government and the Devaswom Board controlled for an expeditious and impartial enquiry to identify the causes for remedial action, and dispel the perception of a communally colored inaction.                                                                                                                                               As we reflect upon the challenges faced by devotees during this pilgrimage, it is incumbent upon all stakeholders to work together to address the root causes of mismanagement and ensure that the sacred pilgrimage remains a source of spiritual fulfilment and cultural significance for generations to come.

Sincerely

GHTN Media Team

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Pakistan

Cases of abduction of minor Hindu girls, conversion, and forced marriage to their abductors, continues unabated in connivance with the police, judiciary, politicians, and administration in Pakistan.  On average, every day three Hindu girls face this inhuman and barbaric treatment at the hands of bigots aided by religious fundamentalists. Four cases have been reported this month. First case is that of 16 years old Indra Deewan, daughter of Gyan Mal was abducted by a radical Islamist named Sajid Hussain. Sajid abducted her from her hometown in Tando Jam, Hyderabad in Sindh. Later he forcefully converted her to Islam and gave a new name, Naimat. After her conversion, Sajid Hussain married her using a fake free will affidavit with her manipulated age.

After converting and marrying her, Sajid also registered a counter FIR against her parents, fighting to get their daughter back. Sajid has accused that they have threatened him and Indra.

The judicial system in this case has given preference to the forged documents instead of the most basic school documents. Three cases are reported from Sindh.  

In a series of abductions of Hindu girls three other horrific incidents have emerged, sending chills through the Hindu community in Sindh. In a first, a minor Hindu girl named Jayshree, daughter of Chagan Kolhi from Samaro town of Umerkaot in Sindh, has been abducted and forcibly converted and married off to her abductor named Nazeer Dhonkai.

 Nana Bheel, an 8-year-old Hindu girl has also been abducted, highlighting the precarious conditions of Hindus where even girls of this age are not safe. Nana Bheel hailing from Kunri in Umerkot was abducted by Hanif Khaskheli from her house. Unfortunately, the police is as usual trying to stave off the matter.

In another case of abduction, a Hindu woman named Premi has been abducted, along with her child, from her residence in Hijrat colony in Karachi. Bigotry of the radical Islamists find safe havens with the complicity of political, judicial, and administrative institutions of Pakistan.  


Question to you, dear reader, is how long are we going to keep silent and abandon our Hindu brothers and sisters to the clutches of radical Islamists in Pakistan?


Saveera Parkash officially submitted her nomination papers for the upcoming general elections in Pakistan becoming the first Hindu woman from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Buner to contest for the elections.

Pakistan will go to polls on February 8 to elect the members of the 16th National Assembly. Saveera Parkash graduated from the Abbottabad International Medical College in 2022. She served as the general secretary of the PPP women’s wing in Buner. She has expressed her desire to work for the betterment of women and advocating for their rights, while fighting for a safe environment for them. She says that if she is elected, she will address the historical neglect and suppression of women.

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United States of America

In its first statement on the vandalism of a Hindu temple, the United States Saturday condemned the act wherein walls of the SMVS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in California were defaced with anti-India graffiti on Friday.

Suspected pro-Khalistan activists allegedly defaced the exterior wall of Swaminarayan temple in Newark, California, police said, adding that the incident came to light on Friday (local time).

The police official said to piece together the chain of events leading to the act of defacement, the footage from surveillance cameras in the neighbouring residences were being looked into. "Our policies that any acts of violence or threats of violence, property damage, harassment, intimidation, or other crimes motivated by hate or bias are considered very serious and given the utmost care. We're handling this investigation as a hate crime at this point, based on our conversations with you and the physical evidence we've seen," Jonathan Arguello, a police captain said.

This is not the first such incident where a temple has been defaced with such graffiti in the recent past.



Temples across the US are preparing week-long celebrations in North America to commemorate the inauguration of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya on January 22 next year, a top official representing these temples has said.

Everyone’s emotions in the US and Canada are very high. Shraddha (devotion) is built up and everyone is eagerly waiting to receive Bhagwan Shri Ram in his mandir,” Tejal Shah from the Hindu Mandirs Empowerment Council (HMEC) told PTI on Monday.

Hindu Mandirs Empowerment Council (HMEC) is the apex body of more than 1,100 Hindu Temples in the United States. The week-long celebrations across small and big temples in North America, she said, will kick off on January 15 and culminate in the live telecast of the Ram Temple inauguration from Ayodhya on the night of January 20, she said.Every participating temple will receive a certificate of participation and “Prasad” from Shree Ram Janam Bhumi Teerth Kshetra Trust, Shah said.“We have created an exhibit “Ramayana Around the World” in commemoration of Pran Pratistha and the inauguration of the mandir at Shree Ram Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya.



Indian American Vivek Ramaswamy, who is a Republican contender in the 2024 US Presidential race, has doubled down on his views regarding his religion by appearing to hit back at those criticising him for touting his Hindu faith.

During a CNN town hall in Iowa on Wednesday night, Ramaswamy said that he "respectfully disagrees" after an audience member asked him to address the perception of some voters that his religion is not what America's "founding fathers" based the country on.

The Republican contender has emphasised his point with yet another post on X. "Food for thought for the 'Vivek-just-tells-people-what-they-want-to-hear' crowd: Do you think that it's easier or harder for me to win GOP primary voters by openly embracing my Hindu faith? Just do the math," he wrote on the micro-blogging site on Wednesday.

Ramaswamy, who is known to be vocal about his Hindu faith, has consistently assured the American audience that his religion would not be a hurdle if he is elected as the country's president. He has talked about studying in a Catholic school, and in September, he said that he has read the Bible "more closely than probably most of my Christian friends".

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India

Many ended pilgrimage at Pandalam following delay for darshan

Poor crowd management at Sabarimala Sannidhanam coupled with lack of coordination between Devaswom employees and police has led to chaos at the hill shrine. During the past couple of days, many devotees ended their pilgrimage at Pandalam Ayyappa Temple following news about the delay for darshan at Sabarimala.

It is alleged that the inexperience of the police personnel deployed at the sacred steps led to the crisis. A retired police officer who has 25 years of experience in crowd control at Sabarimala said, “The service of Ayyappa Seva Sangham volunteers in providing assistance to the ailing devotees and managing emergencies cannot be ignored. However, they have been removed and daily wagers have been deployed for the purpose. Devotion and dedication are key for effective crowd control at religious places and I think the lack of dedication has led to the crisis,”

There are three factors contributing to the chaos at Sabarimala. They are poor crowd management at Sannidhanam, a lack of adequate bus service from Nilakkal to Pampa and an absence of volunteers along the trekking path, said a senior officer.


In a significant development, the Mumbai University has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies. This collaboration is a strategic step towards integrating the Indian Knowledge System (IKS) into higher education, as emphasized by the National Education Policy of India. The initiative aims to bridge the gap between modern and traditional education by introducing a course on temple management.

The partnership between the university's Centre for Hindu Studies and its Sanskrit Department will pave the way for diploma and certificate-level courses, both offline and online. A press release from Mumbai University highlighted, "The course will focus on a holistic study of Hindu philosophy while offering degree and certificate courses." The curriculum is designed to provide students with a deep understanding of Hindu philosophy, drawing inspiration from real-life instances.

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United Kingdom

Mandir Baba Balak Nath, in Walsall, will celebrate the milestone with an anniversary Mela on Sunday. The Mayor of Walsall will also be joining the celebration and festivities.

The temple was founded in 1983 by a recent immigrant couple Shri Jaspal Bhatti and Smt. Dalvir Bhatti From a small temple in his house, providing a gathering place for people to celebrate their faith and culture, it grew into a large temple to accommodate its growing number of devotees. .

 

We welcome your feedback and suggestions on our global media report covering Hindu heritage and the challenges faced by Hindus worldwide. Your insights are invaluable in fostering greater understanding and awareness. Please share your thoughts on our email and let us continue this important conversation together.

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