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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.



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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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.



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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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.



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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Sabarimala Case: SC Refers Review Pleas To Larger, 7-Judge Bench

The CJI said that the endeavour of the petitioners was to revive the debate on religion and faith.



NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday referred to a seven-judge bench over 60 petitions seeking review of its 2018 judgment where it allowed women of all ages entry into Kerala’s Sabarimala Temple. The bench will re-examine various religious issues, including the entry of women into mosques and the practice of female genital mutilation in the Dawoodi Bohra community.

Also Read:
(1) #Sabarimala: Will Shut Down Temple if Tradition Violated, Says Head Priest
(2) #Sabarimala: Doors of Lord Ayyappa Temple Open Amid Huge Protests
(3) Justice Malhotra Lone Dissenting Voice as SC Allows Entry of Women of All Ages in Sabarimala Temple

Supreme Court today said that restrictions on women in religious places were not limited to Sabarimala alone and was prevalent in other religions as well.

Supreme Court, by a majority of 3:2, has referred the review petitions to a larger seven-judge bench. Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman and Justice DY Chandrachud gave dissent judgement.

The verdict comes three days ahead of the opening of the Sabarimala temple dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, a “Naishtika Brahmachari” (Perennial celibate), on November 17 for the annual two-month-long pilgrim season.

However, the majority verdict did not say anything adverse against the apex court’s September 28, 2018 decision allowing women to enter the shrine nor did it stay the earlier judgement.

There is no clarity whether women can enter the shrine, which is scheduled to open for worship from November 17.

The Apex Court said that the larger bench will decide all such religious issues relating to Sabarimala, entry of women in mosques and practice of female genital mutilation in the Dawoodi Bohra community.

Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi read the verdict on behalf of himself and Justices A M Khanwilkar and Indu Malhotra.

The CJI said that the endeavour of the petitioners was to revive the debate on religion and faith.

He added that the apex court should evolve a common policy on religious places like Sabarimala and added that the larger bench will decide the issues relating to this Hindu shrine, entry of women into mosques and practice of female genital mutilation.

The split 3:2 decision came on 65 petitions — 56 review petitions, four fresh writ petitions and five transfer pleas — which were filed against the earlier 4:1 verdict

The five-judge Constitution heard in an open court the pleas by the parties, including the Nair Service Society(NSS), the Sabarimala temple’s Head Priest, the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) and the state’s Left Democratic Front(LDF) government.

The apex court, by a majority verdict of 4:1, in September 2018, had lifted the ban that prevented women and girls between the age of 10 and 50 from entering the famous Ayyappa shrine in Kerala. It had also held that this centuries-old Hindu religious practice was illegal and unconstitutional.

The court understood the feelings of the devotees and transferred the petitions to be reviewed by a seven-judge bench. We feel relieved and happy that the Supreme Court has decided to review its earlier verdict. This is Lord Ayyappa’s blessing,” said Sasikumar Verma, a Pandalam Royal family member who is one of the petitioners.

However, Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan was less enthusiastic about the Sabarimala verdict:

There needs to be more clarity on this judgement. A five-member bench has given a majority judgement. We have already made it clear that the government is committed to comply by the Supreme Court judgment no matter what it is. As of now, we are given to understand that the first verdict is still in place. We need to understand the impact of this verdict and will seek legal opinions. Now we are understanding that the SC judgement of September 28 is still in place, but we are unclear about the implications. We will have to seek the opinion from the experts. We need more time for this.”

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