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CULTURE-HERITAGE

Chhath Puja: Devotees Across India Offer ‘Sandhya Arghya’ To Setting Sun

Tomorrow devotees will offer Pratah Arghya to the rising Sun, concluding the four-day-long festival.

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PATNA (Bihar): Chhath festival is being celebrated in several parts of the country with religious fervour and gaiety. On the third day of the festival, Lakhs of devotees offered Sandhya Arghya to the setting Sun on the ghats of rivers, ponds and other water bodies.

In Bihar, a sea of humanity including traditionally head to nose vermillion anointed women gathered to worship the Sun god across river ghats and other water bodies.

Tomorrow devotees will offer Pratah Arghya to the rising Sun and with this, the four-day-long festival would conclude.

West Bengal joined rest of the country in celebrating Chhath Puja on Friday. The State Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar has greeted the people on the occasion. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee addressed a gathering of Chhath devotees on the banks of river Ganga in Kolkata this afternoon and wished the devotees good health.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi has greeted people on Chhath Festival. In a tweet, PM Modi hoped that Sun God will always illuminate everyone with his energy and aura and the country continues to climb new steps of success and prosperity.

India, however, is not the only nation celebrating the festival:

Nepal:



USA:

Celebration Reports From Across India:

Gujarat:

Mumbai:

Odisha:


Goa:

Assam:

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CULTURE-HERITAGE

Hindu Temples In North America Opting For Taller Statues Of Gods

Hindus have welcomed the trend of installing towering statues of Hindu deities in Hindu temples in North America.

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DELAWARE (United States): With ten Delaware Department of Transportation trucks in the lead, six New Castle County patrol cars, three majestic mounted horse patrol unit; 25 feet tall Lord Hanuman statue was recently greeted at the Delaware state line; according to Hindu Temple of Delaware in Hockessin website, where it is planned to be installed in the near future.

The tallest Hanuman in the USA, born in Ursugutta (Telangana, India), weighing 70,000 pounds, arrived safely on January 18, with a decorated chariot and a 100-car procession; website added.

Carolina Murugan Temple in Moncure (North Carolina) reportedly plans to install the 155-feet statue Of Lord Murugan, which it claims to be the tallest statue of the deity in the world.


Vishnu Mandir in Richmond Hill (Ontario, Canada) reportedly has 50-feet Mangal Murti Hanuman statue, while Lord Hanuman statue at Hanuman Mandir of Greater Chicago in Glenview (Illinois) is 21-feet high.

There is a 16-feet statue of goddess Saraswati outside Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Washington DC, while a tall Lord Hanuman statue stands at the entrance of Hari Om Mandir in Medinah (Illinois).

Various top US museums like Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), The Art Institute of Chicago, The Cleveland Museum of Art, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Detroit Museum of Arts, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (Kansas City), Brooklyn Museum (New York), etc., carry statues of some of the Hindu deities like Shiva, Vishnu, Durga, Ganesha, Lakshmi, Hanuman, Krishna, Saraswati, etc.; and Shiva-linga; in their collections.



Veteran Hindu activist Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, said that the taller statues of Hindu deities did create greater visibility and awareness among communities across the country about Hinduism and might thus inspire them to learn more about Hinduism and its tenets.

Learning about the faith of neighbours creates better understanding and harmony among the society as a whole and develops more opportunities of dialogue, which in turn leads to enhanced mutual trust and overcoming the prejudices,” he added.

Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about 1.1 billion adherents and Moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. There are about three million Hindus in the USA.

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CULTURE-HERITAGE

North India Celebrating Harvest Festival Lohri Today

The key trait of Lohri is the bonfire, which has been familiar in winter solstice festivals all through time.

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NEW DELHI: The festival of harvest, Lohri is being celebrated today in North India especially in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Jammu and Chandigarh. It is celebrated a day before Makar Sankranti, a festival that marks the end of the month with the winter solstice and beginning of longer days.

Lohri marks the end of the long nights of winter and welcomes the longer days of summer, as the Sun begins its journey to the Northern Hemisphere. Lohri is celebrated with a bonfire.

The festival is mostly associated with crop harvesting and happiness. It also encouraged a sense of community and unity. Several young married couples also pray for a child during Lohri celebrations and those who get child also celebrate it with great fervour.


A bonfire is lit; popcorns, peanuts, rewari and gajak are distributed to all neighbours, friends and relatives. A feast, song and dance programme is arranged and everyone welcomes the good crop.

Lohri holds special significance for the newly-married couple or the new-born child in the family as family members and relatives gather together to celebrate their first Lohri. It is also traditional to eat “til rice” which is made by mixing jaggery, sesame seeds and rice on this day.

As anyone who has ever celebrated the festival in full fervour around the bonfire would tell you–gur rewri, peanuts and popcorns are the three edibles associated with this festival. Besides these, in Punjab’s villages, it is a tradition to eat gajjak, sarson da saag and makki di roti on the day of Lohri. It is also traditional to eat ’til rice’–sweet rice made with jaggery (gur) and sesame seeds.



The logic behind consuming these food items is–the general time to sow sugarcane is January to March, and the harvesting period is between December and March. The other important food item of Lohri is radish, which can be harvested between October and January.

The folklore–Sunder Mundriye–is actually the tale of a man called Dulla Bhatti, who is said to have lived in Punjab during the reign of Mughal Emperor Akbar. Being quite the ‘Robin Hood’ back in the day, Dulla Bhatti used to supposedly steal from the rich, and rescue poor Punjabi girls being taken forcibly to be sold in slave markets. He then went on to arrange their marriages to boys of the village, and provided them with dowries (from the stolen money). Amongst these girls were Sundri and Mundri, who have now come to be associated with Punjab’s folklore, Sunder Mundriye.

President Ram Nath Kovind has greeted people on the occasion of Lohri. In a tweet, he expressed hope that the festival will bring happiness, good health and prosperity to everyone’s lives.

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Australian Firm Enrages Hindus With Lord Ganesha Toilet Cover Set

Hinduism is the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1.1 billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought.

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SYDNEY (Australia): Upset Hindus are urging “My Diva Baby”, online home-furnishings retailer based in Sydney suburb Seven Hills, for the immediate withdrawal of “Indian God Ganesha Elephant Bath Mat Set” (three pieces, including a toilet seat cover), carrying the images of Hindu deity Lord Ganesha; calling it highly inappropriate.

Veteran Hindu activist Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that Lord Ganesha was highly revered in Hinduism and was meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to adorn a toilet seat cover or put your feet on.

Inappropriate usage of Hindu deities or symbols or concepts for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the faithful.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, also urged “My Diva Baby” and its CEO to offer a formal apology; besides withdrawing the Lord Ganesha toilet seat cover and bathroom mats set from its website and it stores on Facebook, Etsy, Pinterest, etc.


Hinduism is the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1.1 billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought and it should not be taken frivolously.

Symbols of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled, Rajan Zed indicated.

Zed further said that such trivialization of Lord Ganesha was disturbing to the Hindus world over. Hindus were for free artistic expression and speech as much as anybody else if not more. But faith was something sacred and attempts at trivializing it hurt the followers, Zed added.

In Hinduism, Lord Ganesha is worshiped as god of wisdom and remover of obstacles and is invoked before the beginning of any major undertaking.

This objectionable “Indian God Ganesha Elephant Bath Mat Set”; described as “soft and comfortable, non-slip, absorbent”; and which included a toilet seat cover, U-shaped Mat, rectangle mat; was priced at $45.



“My Diva Baby”, whose tagline is “Simple, Stylish, Stunning”; sells bed, windows, bathrooms, etc., related products. Its goal is “to bring a little piece of happiness into everyone’s home”.

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