Yet to tell the diffusion of Indian influence at this period as two separate processes partially obscures a still more extraordinary story. For it is now increasingly clear that between the fourth and twelfth centuries the influence of India in both Southeast and Central Asia, and to some degree also China, was comparable to the influence of Greece in Aegean Turkey and Rome, and then in the rest of Europe in the early centuries BC. From the empire of the Gupta dynasty in the north and that of the Pallava dynasty in the south, India during this period radiated its philosophies, political ideas, and architectural forms out over an entire continent not by conquest but by sheer cultural sophistication.
In the beginning, all saris were created equal, then they weren’t. enter the border: functional accoutrement, artisanal medium, class distinction.
On Tuesday, a court in India convicted four men of "rape, unnatural sex, murder, conspiracy and destruction of evidence" after they brutally gang-raped a woman on a bus in Delhi last December. The woman died two weeks later in a Singapore hospital. When news broke, it sparked protests (previously) and raised awareness worldwide about the plight of many women in India. Now that the verdict is in, the Guardian analyzes the incident to see how "the nation's surge to superpower status has left millions behind struggling on the margins." (Links in this post contain descriptions of rape and assault which some may find disturbing.) [more inside]
Men in Saris: Mumbai's new lavani dancers Lavani is a folk dance, traditionally performed by women for men. The popularity of Bin Baykancha Tamasha (or Performance Without Women) and other female-impersonation groups in Mumbai suggests that the city may slowly be getting comfortable with flamboyant expressions of male sexuality.
Hungry? Meet Rocky and Mayur -- two likeable blokes who happen to host an Indian food/road show called "Highway On My Plate." Since 2005 they've been traveling around the country sampling the culinary delights of the subcontinent, and lately they've been visiting school and college cafeterias. Youtubery ahead! [more inside]
Over a thousand monks and laymen are revered in Tibetan Buddhism as the incarnations of past teachers who convey enlightenment to their followers from one lifetime to the next. Some of the most respected are known by the honorific "rinpoche." For eight centuries, rinpoches were traditionally identified by other monks and then locked inside monasteries ringed by mountains, far from worldly distractions. Their reincarnation lineages were easily tracked across successive lives. Then the Chinese Red Army invaded Tibet in 1950 and drove the religion's adherents into exile. Now, the younger rinpoches of the Tibetan diaspora are being exposed to all of the twenty-first century’s dazzling temptations. So, even as Tibetan Buddhism is gaining more followers around the world, an increasing number of rinpoches are abandoning their monastic vows. Reincarnation in Exile. [more inside]
The history of the Sikh Diaspora in USA and Canada goes back to Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 1897. Emerging as a casteless alternative to the ongoing Hindu Muslim wars in India, the Sikhs have always been known as a martial tribe, their prowess and courage respected by the British and others alike. Colloquially addressed respectfully as Sardarji, the men take Singh (lion) as their middle name while the women bear the name Kaur (princess). This custom further confirmed the equality of both genders as was the tradition set by the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak. The first Sikh Organization was The Pacific Coast Khalsa Diwan Society organized in the spring of 1912. [more inside]
This is a story of a young man named Chotu Lohar* from a small nondescript village in one of the poorest states of India. He dropped out of school to work in the iron mines. Music on a radio was the only entertainment available in his house but last year he came to national notice on a reality show called Dance India Dance - where although his untutored enthusiasm and energy captured attention - he was unable to make the cut. His passion, on the other hand, caught the interest** of the show's producers who took him under their wing and a year later, he's just made the shortlist for this year's show. [more inside]
"Certainly, Uncle Sam, disowned by Pakistanis, has found innumerable devoted nephews in India. Indian and Pakistani perceptions of America now wildly diverge: A 2005 Pew poll conducted in 16 countries found the United States in the highest regard among Indians (71 percent having a favorable opinion) and nearly the lowest among Pakistanis (23 percent)." Why do India and Pakistan see America in such opposite ways?
"Over the past few decades, 160 million women have vanished from East and South Asia — or, to be more accurate, they were never born at all. Throughout the region, the practice of sex selection — prenatal sex screening followed by selective termination of pregnancies — has yielded a generation packed with boys. From a normal level of 105 boys to 100 girls, the ratio has shifted to 120, 150, and, in some cases, nearly 200 boys born for every 100 girls. In some countries, like South Korea, ratios spiked and are now returning to normal. But sex selection is on the rise in Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East." American journalist Mara Hvistendahl's new book: "Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men," examines and tries to predict the actual and potential effects of unequal sex ratios on men, women and the social economies of the affected regions, including the recent spike in sex trafficking and bride-buying across Asia. More. [more inside]
Holi is a wild, sexy celebration in India. People wear white and then throw or squirt colored powders and water at each other. There are bonfires, marijuana drink parties, mischief, all kinds of sweet pastries, venting of sexual heat, dancing in the streets and happy, colorful mayhem. [more inside]
The Consortium of Pub-going, Loose and Forward Women of India want to celebrate Valentine's Day by sending pink chaddis (underwear) to the right-wing Hindu group Sri Ram Sena. The group says it is "not acceptable" for women to go to bars in India, and members attacked a group of women at a bar last month. They have also threatened to attack couples who publicly celebrate Valentine's Day. [Via]
Necessary Angels. They are not doctors. They are not nurses. They are illiterate women from India's Untouchable castes. Yet as trained village health workers, they are delivering babies, curing disease, and saving lives—including their own. Photo Gallery. Video.
Long before people called themselves Muslims or Hindus, long before they fought and died over these or any labels... water dripped and froze inside the Amarnath Cave at the heart of Kashmir. Amarnath Cave official site. Amarnath Cave pilgrimage. Amarnath virtual tour. Wikipedia's page on the Amarnath land transfer.
Everyone’s got one. From the boys and girls who go to school, to the working women and men of India, who depend on the Dabba Wallahs to bring them their meals. The margin of error for these tiffin carriers has been clocked at an astonishing 99.9999999%, which has earned them the Sigma 6 rating, and has made them popular in other parts of the world.
Plant Cultures - central aim ... is to convey the richness and complexity of links between Britain and South Asia, through the story of plants and people
A look at arranged marriages for Indian-Americans.
Indian & Pakistani ex-pats dissect world affairs, write fiction, and discuss anything and everything under the sun. I'm a typically ignorant American, so it's illuminating to read the opinions of others much more familiar with central Asia and the Indian subcontinent than I am. Site features a high level of discourse and exemplary manners.
The Hindu nationalist group Bajrang Dal name a puppy George Bush. This isn't meant to be a complimentary act... it's in reaction to their discovery that the Bushes' cat's name is India (short for India Ink). They've taken this as an insult to the nation, and have retaliated with the puppy. I'm kind of curious about what this tells about Indian naming practices and significances, as compared to those in the US. Could someone more familiar with Hindu/Indian culture please enlighten me as to why they'd feel so insulted?