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Connecting Global Threads of Faith Newsletter #2 May 2024



 

  

 


Connecting Global Threads of Faith

From the Editorial Team


Dear Readers,

 

Shining a Light on Hidden Struggles and Celebrating Hindu Heritage

In our interconnected world, where information traverses borders effortlessly, a poignant narrative often lurks in the shadows: the persecution faced by Hindus across regions. This fortnightly report endeavors to shed light on these overlooked incidents, offering a balanced perspective on the challenges and triumphs experienced by the global Hindu community.

A recent milestone has been the Archaeological Survey of India's excavation at the Bhojshala temple-Kamal Maula Mosque complex in Madhya Pradesh. This endeavor fulfills a longstanding demand of Hindus to unveil the site's true historical essence. The discovery of Hindu deity images, including those of Lord Krishna and Lord Ram, within the complex underscores its rich cultural and religious heritage. Such revelations not only validate the historical significance of the Bhojshala temple but also advocate for the preservation and acknowledgment of Hindu legacy.

Reports from Canada spotlight a troubling surge in hate crimes against Indians and Hindus, posing a grave threat to the nation's reputation for inclusivity. The alarming rise in physical assaults, religious site vandalism, and unchecked extremism compromises the safety and security of the Hindu community. Urgent action from Canadian authorities is imperative to reaffirm their commitment to multiculturalism and ensure a secure environment for Hindus.

This edition also delves into the recent criticism surrounding the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). The absence of Hindu representation on the commission, despite Hindus constituting one in every six individuals globally, raises serious concerns about the report's impartiality. Khanderao Kand of the Foundation for India and Indian Diaspora Studies (FIIDS) ( https://www.fiids-usa.org/) aptly highlights this omission, noting its contribution to biased and polemic reports. Such oversight not only misrepresents India's religious landscape but also underscores the necessity for inclusive and representative bodies to offer a balanced viewpoint on global religious freedom issues.

The recent Bodo incident in Assam serves as a grim reminder of the perils faced by communities due to illegal Bangladeshi Muslim migrants. This distressing event involved the rape of two Bodo girls returning from a festival and the murder of a Bodo man. Such atrocities exacerbate ethnic tensions and emphasize the urgent need for effective law enforcement and community protection in the region. The incident underscores the vulnerabilities of indigenous populations, of which 90% are Hindu, necessitating robust measures to safeguard their well-being.

On a brighter note, the global demand for traditional temple artisans from India exemplifies the enduring reverence for Hindu cultural heritage. Institutions like the Government College of Architecture and Sculpture in Mammallapuram, Tamil Nadu, have been instrumental in nurturing traditional temple architecture for over six decades. Today, alumni from such institutions are in high demand, contributing to temple-building endeavors worldwide.

These skilled artisans, blending ancient techniques with modern technology, not only preserve cultural heritage but also foster a sense of identity and community among Hindu diasporas. Their contributions exemplify how traditional knowledge thrives in a globalized world, bridging the past and the present.

As we continue to document these narratives, our objective remains steadfast: to raise awareness about Hindu culture, advocate for human rights protection, and celebrate the contributions of the global Hindu community. Through these endeavors, we aspire to cultivate greater understanding and appreciation of Hindu heritage, fostering a more inclusive and respectful global society.

Sincerely

Dr Vinay Nalwa

 


 

May Newsletter 2

(May 15- May 30)

This fortnightly report endeavors 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.

 

United States of America

Canada long claimed to be a bastion of multiculturalism and inclusivity, is grappling with an alarming rise in hate crimes and violence against its Indian and Hindu communities. This disturbing trend calls into question the nation’s commitment to being a safe place for immigrants and highlights significant challenges in maintaining its reputation as a welcoming destination.

According to a new report by the Centre for Integrated and Holistic Studies (CIHS), recent years have witnessed a surge in hate crimes targeting Indians and Hindus in Canada.

The CIHS report underscores the free operation of Khalistani extremists in Canada, who have been involved in intimidating Hindu minorities and desecrating temples. These extremist groups not only threaten physical safety but also erode the perception of Canada as a secure and inclusive country.

Criticising the US Commission on International Religious Freedom for not appointing members from the Hindu community, the head of a top Indian diaspora think-tank body has said that due to the lack of diversity, it has been producing "polemic and biased" reports on India and Hindus. The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the US Congress to monitor, analyse, and report on religious freedom abroad. The USCIRF on Friday announced the appointment of three new members -Khanderao Kand, the chief of Policy and Strategy at the Foundation for India and Indian Diaspora Studies (FIIDS) congratulated the newly appointed member of the USCIRF but said it missed a historic opportunity to appoint representation for diversity and balance in the commission.

The annual report of the USCIRF on international religious freedom, he said, is biased against India. "What we observe in general as well as in this year is that this report is predictably biased against India. It is full of omission and commission. It presents some of the facts, but it does not provide all the facts. It hides many facts," Kand said. India has already rejected the contents of the latest USCIRF report. It blasted the Commission for attempting to "interfere" in its electoral exercise and continuing to indulge in "propaganda" against the country, "masquerading" as part of an annual report.

India

With more temples coming up across the world, skilled architects, sculptors and artisans from TN, Guj and Rajasthan are in high demand.

When you drive coastal town of Mammallapuram, also known as Mahabalipuram and famous for its spectacular 7th-century monuments, you’re likely to breeze past the Tamil Nadu Government College of Architecture and Sculpture without even noticing it. Yet, this one-of-a-kind institution has been quietly teaching traditional temple architecture for the past 67 years. While even IITs struggle with placements, alumni here are in high demand these days, thanks to a temple building spree both in India and abroad.

“People everywhere want to reconnect with their Hindu heritage now, and what better way to do this than by building a temple?” says Nishanth Manoharan, an alumnus of the college who is currently in Reunion Island, a French overseas territory in the Indian Ocean, working on his 20th temple. It’s probably his fifth or sixth stint on the island, as Nishanth says he has lost count because clients keep sending for him. With more than a third of Reunion Island’s population being Indian, building temples is more of a status symbol now. “Almost every family here wants to outdo the other with a temple. You’ll find temples everywhere, from the middle of fields to housing colonies. For me, it’s steady income, and more than I will earn working on a farm,” says Nishanth, whose father is a farmer in Tamil Nadu.

A lotus-like image engraved on white stone slab was found during excavation in Bhojshala on Sunday. The archaeological and scientific survey at Bhojshala in Dhar by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) entered 59th day on Sunday.

"A white stone slab with lotus-like image engraved in it was found on the northern side of Bhojshala main monument. The ASI will send the slab to experts for further examination regarding its age and other details.

Images of Hindu deities have been reportedly discovered in a pillar within the complex of the Bhojshala temple-Kamal Maula mosque in Dhar district, Madhya Pradesh, during excavation conducted by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). This revelation was made by Gopal Sharma, the coordinator of the Bhojshala festival committee, who accompanied the ASI team during the site excavation. “On the 55th day of excavation and exploration by the ASI team on Tuesday, images of Lord Krishna holding the ‘Sudarshan Chakra’ in his hand, Lord Ram carrying a bow, Lord Parashuram, and Shiva were found on one of the pillars within the sanctum sanctorum of the Vaagdevi (Goddess Saraswati) shrine built inside the Bhojshala temple complex,” claimed Sharma.

Sharma also claimed that over 1,000 remains of historical significance have been unearthed during the excavation process.

The survey of the site, initiated by the ASI following a directive from the Indore bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court on March 11 this year. The ASI team has been conducting the survey of the complex in the presence of Hindu and Muslim representatives, local administration, and police. On March 11, the High Court instructed the ASI to conduct a survey of the complex, noting that its nature and character needed to be ‘demystified and freed from the shackles of confusion’.

This directive by the Madhya Pradesh High Court was in response to a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by a group called the Hindu Front for Justice, which argued that the Kamal Maula mosque was constructed during the reign of Alauddin Khilji between the 13th and 14th centuries by ‘destroying and dismantling ancient structures of previously constructed Hindu temples’.

Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) deployed ground penetrating radar (GPR) to identify structures buried in the Bhojshala / Kamal Maulana mosque compound as the court-ordered survey entered the 67th day.

The GPR, brought from Hyderabad, is being used in the inner side of the main hall - considered to be the sanctum sanctorum of Vaagdevi temple - and 'Hawan Kund' outside it, Ashish Goyal, representative of petitioner Hindu Front for Justice, told TOI. He is accompanying the ASI team on the survey, as is a Muslim representative.

It was also used on the eastern side of the complex, near the main gate, he said, adding: "GPR survey is good as it will limit excavation." The GPR machine is scanning the complex in grids of one square metre each, Goyal added.

Excavation continued in the northern side, outside the Bhojshala main monument. Three stone artifacts have been unearthed. One of them is made of white marble and resembles a broken idol, Goyal said, adding the other two look like 'simple stones', but ASI has taken all three for further examination. A similar idol-like stone artifact was recovered during excavation inside the main hall last month.

Expressing shock and dismay over the horrible Dudhnoi incident, where two teenage girls were gang-raped and a youth was killed by a group of hooligans, a nationalist forum in northeast India demands a stringent punishment for those criminals of Bangladeshi origin.

It may be mentioned that both girls (belonging to Bodo community) were raped by three suspected Islamists on their return from a Bihu function on 3 May 2024. They were abandoned at the roadside by the perpetrators. The concerned families lodged a complaint at Dudhnoi police station under Goalpara district in western Assam the next day. Meanwhile, on the night of 5 May, a team of village defence party (VDP) members went to confront Dhan Ali Talukdar, an accused in the incident, where a group of goons attacked the team with sharp weapons. Hiranmay Khakhlari, a team member, sustained serious injuries and he was rushed to a nearby hospital. Later Hiranmay, also from Bodo community, was shifted to a private hospital in Guwahati, but succumbed to injuries on 17 May.

Meanwhile, the police had picked up Shekabar Ali and Parbina Begum in connection with the murder of Hiranmay. Moreover, Dhan Ali Talukdar along with Bahar Ali and Rahman Ali were arrested accusing their involvement in raping both the tribal girls.

Moreover, the government is urged to take pragmatic initiatives to verify the draft National Register of Citizens for Assam with the base year of 1951 and punish those guilty in fraudulence and money laundering during the NRC updation including those from the electronic media outlets.

Hundreds of devotees thronged the Sri Thirukameshwarar temple in Villianur to offer prayers and partake in the annual car festival. Lt. Governor C. P Radhakrishnan, Chief Minister N. Rangasamy, Speaker R. Selvam, BJP candidate for Lok Sabha election and Home Minister A. Namassivayam, Minister for Agriculture and MLAs joined the devotees to pull the chariot bedecked with flowers.



One of the largest temples in Puducherry, the 10-day annual festival attracts devotees even from neighbouring district of Tamil Nadu.

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