LAS VEGAS (United States): In a remarkable interfaith gesture, Christian-Hindu-Buddhist-Jewish-Jain religious leaders have urged the Las Vegas casino Mandalay Bay to remove statues of various Hindu and Jain deities from its Foundation Room night club, calling it highly inappropriate.
Nevada’s Greek Orthodox Christian Priest Stephen R. Karcher, Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, prominent Buddhist Priest Matthew T. Fisher, well-known Jewish Rabbi ElizaBeth Webb Beyer, and renowned Jain leader Sulekh C. Jain, in a joint statement in Nevada today said that placing highly revered Hindu and Jain deities to adorn a casino night-club was very disrespectful, out-of-line, and could be disturbing to the adherents of these faiths.
Karcher-Zed-Fisher-Beyer-Jain urged William Hornbuckle and Paul Salem, Acting CEO and Board Chairman respectively of MGM Resorts International, the parent company of Mandalay Bay Casino, to offer a formal apology to Hindu and Jain communities for this insensitivity.
Rajan Zed, a veteran Hindu activist, pointed out that Hindu deities Lord Ganesha, Lord Shiva, goddess Saraswati, etc. were meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to be thrown around loosely in a casino night club for dramatic effects or mercantile/other agenda.
Such denigration of sacred deities was hurtful to the devotees.
Sulekh C. Jain stressed that Pratima (statue) of Lord Mahavira belonged in a temple for veneration and not to be misused or mishandled by the patrons of a night club.
He suggested that the Mandalay Bay Casino could donate it to a Jain temple and the Jain community would gladly pay for its transportation.
Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1.1 billion followers and a rich philosophical thought and it should not be taken frivolously. Symbols of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled, Zed noted.
Karcher-Zed-Fisher-Beyer-Jain further said that they, the faith leaders, 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.
Description of Foundation Room, whose tagline is “Good Karma Awaits”, includes: Immerse yourself in our DEITY dancer experience; party the night away amidst the Vegas lights with these out of this world Nightlife Goddess’s; who add the perfect touch of high-class debauchery”.
This “luxurious den for the city’s elite to socialize, scandalize, and sip in high style”, located on 63rd floor of Mandalay Bay, operates from five pm to three am.
Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino is set on 120 lush acres featuring Mandalay Bay Beach, a tropical pool paradise with real sand.
MGM Resorts International is an S&P 500 global entertainment company with 29 unique hotel and destination gaming offerings in the United States and Macau.
Casino owners issue apology
The Foundation Room, the owners of the Resort and Casino in Las Vegas where the sacred idols were placed, has since removed the statues from the venue and issued an apology and assured to never repeat such insensitive depiction.
“The Foundation Room’s two-decade plus tradition of promoting racial and spiritual harmony through love, peace, truth, righteousness and non-violence is more important than ever. We deeply apologize to those who are offended by recent images and we will work diligently to ensure such insensitive depictions don’t happen again. Specifically, we are removing the statue Mahavira from our premises. We have always strived to promote dialogue to bring us closer together and are committed to this sentiment moving forward,” the statement read.
The statement did not mention if the statue of Lord Ganesha was removed from the venue.
Legendary Indian Classical Vocalist Pandit Jasraj Dies At 90
Pandit Jasraj was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second-highest civilian honour.
NEW JERSEY (United States): Pandit Jasraj, one of the world’s most prominent Indian classical vocalists passed away at the age of 90 due to cardiac arrest, says his daughter Durga Jasra. “With profound grief, we inform that Sangeet Martand Pandit Jasraj ji breathed his last this morning at 5.15 EST due to a cardiac arrest at his home in New Jersey, USA,” a statement issued by his family said, newswire agency PTI reported.
Born in Haryana in 1930, his musical career spanned eight decades. In the year 2000, he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second-highest civilian honour.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the maestro’s death has left a deep void in the country’s cultural sphere:
The unfortunate demise of Pandit Jasraj Ji leaves a deep void in the Indian cultural sphere. Not only were his renditions outstanding, he also made a mark as an exceptional mentor to several other vocalists. Condolences to his family and admirers worldwide. Om Shanti. pic.twitter.com/6bIgIoTOYB
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 17, 2020
President Ram Nath Kovind also expressed his condolences and posted that the revered vocalist had “enthralled people with soulful renditions.”
Music legend and unparalleled classical vocalist Pandit Jasraj’s passing makes me sad. Spanning a distinguished career of over 8 decades, Pandit Jasraj, a Padma Vibhushan recipient, enthralled people with soulful renditions. Condolence to his family, friends & music connoisseurs.
— President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) August 17, 2020
Mass Media And The Digital Wave of Women’s Movement
There should be an equal pay scale for female media workers and development programs.
(This article belongs to League of India’s ‘Readers’ Opinions‘ Initiative)
The century-long movement of women’s rights and empowerment achieve another lever after the rise of new media in the eve of globalization.
The portrayal of women in media has changed over time and has had both positive and negative impact on the image and position of women. Some mediums such as documentaries, radio, political and social content on TV, print news, digital platforms, etc. have played an essential role in ensuring a healthy public discourse on gender, dissemination of information, positive stories of women empowerment, reporting on achievements and progress of women in society.
They inform and educate society on Issues of gender and gender sensitization. Ad content and portrayal of women in cinema are also changing by giving women lead roles, positive depiction of women, and breaking gender stereotypes.
Positive stereotypes help women to become assertive, independent, and tackle gender abuse and discrimination. More brands and production houses utilize successful, career-oriented women roles, and they are mostly shown as strong and independent persons, instead of being vilified.
However, they have a long way to go. Negative stereotypes of women in media such as submissive, timid, and ultra-modern women portrayals influence how women are perceived by society. It prevents women’s abilities by limiting their choices and opportunities, which directly and indirectly causes an increase in gender and sexual violence.
Nowadays, issues related to women are not discussed in media widely. Only sensational news about women is given extensive coverage, while essential discourses and discussions on women related issues never occur.
According to a survey by ‘Media Cloud,’ rape receives maximum media coverage. Other social issues related to women are largely ignored.
The media does not offer any serious analysis of economic conditions and inter-relationships of social issues. Rape, dowry deaths, and other serious violence against women are framed as criminal occurrences rather than the outcomes of genital mutilation and inequality.
Also, rape, child marriages, domestic violence are covered by the media if they are high-profile and involve statements from politicians or elite class personalities. Feature movies and television soap operas, still portray women in stereotypical roles as inferior, subordinate, and submissive gender. It is justified by the producers as the demand of the masses.
Nevertheless, these depictions influence how women are perceived and treated in society. Women are also given continuously decorative roles or as domestic caregivers of family, reinforcing the gender dynamics in the family system. These electronic media, including news channels, can play a crucial role in the reconstruction of women’s image, shaping gender norms, socio-cultural values, and perceptions.
However, mostly sensational news such as rape and violence against women is given the spotlight, While more severe women issues are not taken up. Sexual objectification and commodification of women are prevalent in movies and advertisements. Advertisements depict their version of women’s perfection – slim, fair complexioned, glamorous, which sets a bad precedent among adolescents and young women. Advertisements, especially for home, kitchen, jewellery, sanitation, and hygiene products, mirror the gendered view of society. Those ads depict women mostly as home-makers, concerned only with maintaining their houses, beauty, and taking care of their families.
Frontliners of women’s movements in India have been instrumental in highlighting the sexist attitude in advertisements.
Though there have been some changes in the way corporates and product companies depict women, the tendency has always been towards reinforcing traditional regressive gender roles.
The fashion and cosmetics industry also plays a negative role in the gender discrimination of women. Its only women who are expected to maintain impossible standards of physical perfection and body shape.
Objectification of women’s bodies is subtly promoted by beauty pageants and the fashion industry that curtails women’s equality. Women are treated as trophies, celebrated for how they look, instead of intelligence, skill, character, and their contribution.
There have been women’s rights movements in the US and around the world against beauty pageants and the stereotypes they reinforce.
The advent of the internet and social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, etc. has broadened the social space for women to raise their issues, reach out, network and collaborate for their common causes. Women blogging, NGO websites, and women platforms have advanced the empowerment of women through technology.
There is also a gender digital divide creating unequal spaces in digital media. Some of the reasons for this gender gap are lack of textual literacy, the wage gap, lack of context in local languages, gender division of labour causing time constraints for women, etc.
According to Women’s Rights Online Network, women are 50% less likely to access the internet than men. At the same time, the same platforms reinforce gendered online behaviours and sex-role stereotypes. Women who voice strong opinions on women’s issues are exposed to verbal abuses and threats of violence.
Social media also tend to create negative body image and low self-esteem by emphasizing obsessive celebrity culture, physical perfection, and beauty.
According to the UN’s Broadband Commission for Digital Development, 73% of women have already experienced cyber violence. Women receive rape, death threats, and gendered abuses for expressing their opinions online.
As per a survey by UN Women, in India, 28% of women who faced online abuse reduced their online presence and stopped posting on specific issues. These gendered online abuses effectively silence women’s voices and discourses around women’s issues.
Cyber-crime against women is also on the rise. Stalking women online, sending unsolicited and persistent messages through WhatsApp and e-mails, developing pornographic content, and morphed photos to target women are some of how women are harassed on social media.
What is more, women do not know where to report such issues and how to deal with them. Women subjected to such cyber crimes and problems are vulnerable to mental health issues such as emotional stress, depression, and hypertension, further affecting their lives.
Trolling on social media of women who defy sexism and gender bias is another dangerous trend that has to be taken note of. Trolls are abusers who push defamatory, personally abusive content targeting individuals. Women, especially those who voice non-mainstream and anti-modernization views, are trolled exceptionally on social platforms.
The e-mail spoofing would be cause substantial monetary loss. Regular phishing, the attempt to gain sensitive information such as a username and password and intent to obtain personal information, becomes a major threat for women in the digital world.
Then what is the solution, how can we create a secure, inclusive, and gender unbiased media!. This is not just covering ‘women’s issues.’ It is about to ensure content is balanced across gender lines and respects the diversity that represents nearly fifty per cent of the world’s population.
We have to make sure more women occupy managerial roles in the newsroom and higher positions in the field of print journalism, television, web channels, and publications.
There should be an equal pay scale for female media workers and development programs to increase their skills and leadership abilities. Despite laws and regulations, practical actions against perpetrators are not taken.
As per NCRB data, around 15000 cybercrime incidents registered in 2018; however, the investigation is pending for the same amount of crimes that were reported in the previous year. So the state should ensure the enforcement of laws to prevent stalkings, cybercrimes, and other online abuses in priority.
Lastly, it is not impossible for men to effectively cover gender issues — they just need to be aware of women’s needs and perspectives.
Disclaimer: The facts and opinions expressed in this reader-submitted article are strictly the personal opinions of the author. League of India does not assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information in this article.
This reader-submitted article has NOT BEEN EDITED by League of India and is published as received.
Bhagwan Ram A Common Thread Of Unity In Diversity In India: PM Modi
PM Modi drew an analogy between the Ram Mandir Karsevaks and soldiers of the struggle for independence.
PAAVAN NAGRI AYODHYA (Uttar Pradesh): Recounting the different Ramayans written in various languages, Prime Minister noted that Shree Ram is the common thread of unity in diversity in the country. He said that Lord Ram is a symbol of strength and unity for all religions, irrespective of religion.
PM Modi repeatedly said that Ram “belongs to the whole country”. He also made timely references to coronavirus saying it has shown how everyone has to work together and cooperate.
During his historic address at Ayodhya, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that it is an emotional moment for the entire country and construction of Ram Temple will also pave way for the development of Ayodhya and open up several opportunities across sectors which will change the economy of the region.
The Bhoomi Poojan ceremony started at sharp 12.30 afternoon and culminated at 12.45 pm. Watch the ENTIRE Bhoomi Poojan Ceremony here:
The prime minister arrived in Ayodhya in a helicopter where Adityanath among others received him.
Before the function to lay the foundation stone of the ‘Shree Ram Janmabhoomi Mandir’, the prime minister took part in prayers at the Hanumangarhi temple.
From there, he travelled to the ‘Shree Ram Janmabhoomi’ where he performed prayers at the ‘Bhagwan Shree Ramlala Virajman’.
He also planted a Parijat (Indian night jasmine) sapling.
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath were among those who attended the event at the site where a large number of devout Hindus believe Lord Ram was born.
The guest list, including religious leaders who formed part of the movement that started in the 1980s, was restricted to 175 in view of the COVID-19 crisis.
Many Saints, spiritual leaders and other leaders associated with Ram Temple movement were present at the ceremony. Mahesh Bhagchandka and Pawan Singhal from the family of late Ashok Singhal, Former President of Vishwa Hindu Parishad were Mukhya Yajman in Bhumi Pujan function.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi became the first Prime Minister to have Darshan at Ram Janmbhumi and Hanumangarhi temple of Ayodhya and after planting a sapling of Parijat Tree he took part in the Bhumi Poojan ceremony.
PM Modi was one of the organizers of the 1990 nationwide campaign for a temple at the site where the symbol of religious violence in the name of cruel Mughal invader Babar stood.
Prime Minister also released postage stamps on the model of Ram Temple and on Ramayana encyclopedia on this occasion.
A wooden Kodand Ram Statue was presented as a souvenir to Prime Minister by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
On the occasion Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath said that it was a dream which is became reality after a long gap of almost 5 centuries.
PM Modi performed the Bumipoojan for the temple of Ramlala amidst chanting of Slokas, Blowing of conch shells and renditions of Jai Shri Ram.
Clad in traditional Indian attire of Dhoti Kurta prime minister bowed down in front of Ramlala, performed pooja, accepted the Mukut or the crown and turban given by priests of Hanuman Garhi and did Parikrama also. He became the first Prime Minister to do so.
The city of Lord Rama was reverberating with the sound of Ramdhun on this occasion.
Although lanes of Ayodhya took a deserted look because of the security reasons but in the houses and temples of the city people were doing Ramkeetran and recitation of Rancharitmanas.
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