“Hindus are, on average, richer and more educated than Muslims. But oddly, the child mortality rate for Hindus is much higher. All observable factors say Hindus should fare better, but they don't. Economists refer to this as the Muslim mortality puzzle. In a new study, researchers believe that they may have found a solution to the puzzle. And, surprisingly, the solution lies in a single factor – open defecation
.” [more inside]
Indian court asked to rule on whether Hindu guru dead or meditating:
Since January 29 of this year, Sri Ashutosh Maharaj, founder of the Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansthan
religious sect, has been residing in a freezer
in his ashram in Punjab. His followers claim he is in a "deep meditative state (samadhi)." Doctors, however, have declared Maharaj clinically dead
and his family have sued to have his death be investigated and to have his body released for cremation. The guru's son also alleges
that Maharaj was murdered and that his followers are trying to gain control of his estate, said to be worth $170 million. While traditional yogis have claimed extraordinary powers, including the power to stop one's heart, the evidence for these claims has been lacking
It drips on her head most days, says Champaben, but in the monsoon season it’s worse. In rain, worms multiply. Every day, nonetheless, she gets up and walks to her owners’ house, and there she picks up their excrement with her bare hands or a piece of tin, scrapes it into a basket, puts the basket on her head or shoulders, and carries it to the nearest waste dump.
A chapter from The Big Necessity
, a book exploring the world of human waste: A Brief History of Class and Waste in India [more inside]
In 1971, the newly-created US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hired a bunch of freelance photographers to collectively document environmental issues around the country. They were given free rein to shoot whatever they wanted, and the project, named Documerica
, lasted through 1977. After 40 years, the EPA is now encouraging photographers to take current versions of the original Documerica photos and are showcasing them on flickr at State of the Environment
. There are location challenges
, and a set has been created with some of the submissions, making side-by-side comparisons
. [more inside]
"Perhaps the most
remembered and quoted
(pdf) woman in Indian history
is a sixteenth century poet
called Mirabai, or Meera. Versions
of her songs
are sung today all over
as a subject
. Even Gandhi promoted her
, seeing Mira as a symbol of a woman
who has the right
to choose her
own path, forsake a life of luxury, and in nonviolent
resistance find liberation
(pdf)." ~ Women in World History
so the moral of the story is
always wear a condom
you are going to have to resort to an impromptu skull c-section
with a shovel
Myths Retold. [more inside]
Jani, a hindu man
in western India, claims not to have taken in any food or water for 70 years. He has been under 24 hour surveillance since April 22 by a hospital team. This video
goes into a little more detail.
When you think of Hinduism
, you probably don't think of suburban Lilburn, Georgia
, yet it is home to BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir
, at over 30,000 square feet the largest
in the world outside of India. The beautiful temple
was assembled from 34,000 pieces of Turkish limestone, Indian pink sandstone, and Italian Carrara marble hand-carved by some 1500 craftsmen in India, then shipped to Georgia, where about 900 volunteers put in over a million man-hours to bring the architects' vision to fruition
(YT), at a cost of about US$19m. [more inside]
It seems that the swastika
's continued popularity among certain non-Western cultures has led to some interesting travel resources
. Then there are places that should know better
. Some of these are unintentionally funny, but is it still too soon
, as she is today, was carved out
of British India
, in 1947 when the left and right hand sides of the country became the new nation of Pakistan (East
) respectively. While the history of Islamic influence and subsequent tolerance and intolerance
goes back centuries to the first advent of the Mughal invasion
, it has been said that the post Independence troubles
of the modern nations of India and Pakistan stem from this
sundering. In 1971, war
brought forth Bangladesh
from the former East Pakistan on India's eastern border.
, as this holocaust is known, embedded
in current day Indian
, culture, movies
, TV serials
and music, was an unimaginable
horror of slaughter
and bloodshed. This separation was not in the plans of the Mahatma
, and it is said he was assassinated by Hindu fundamentalists
for letting it happen. What future awaits
the Hindus and Muslims who have lived side by side
for hundreds of years?
A collection of comic books
Amar Chitra Katha
is like the American Illustrated Classics
, except that the stories are from Indian sacred texts, mythology, history, folktales and legends
. It was conceived by Anant Pai
. The series has sold over 86 million copies of about 440 titles. [more inside]
, tramp, hermit, holy man, Facebook celebrity and (alleged) former member of the SS, has died, aged 86.
A few weeks ago
, the first traditional Vedic temple (or mandir) opened in Europe. Yesterday the first of its kind
in Canada. Something
of an architectural marvel
, each piece of the temple
was made in India
, the stones all being interlocking and load-bearing
, thereby eliminating the need
for nails or steel supports. In fact, it's put together entirely using ancient techniques
Senate disrupted by jerks.
Three members of anti-abortion Operation Save America
disrupted the daily opening prayers of the Senate yesterday morning, which were being lead that day Rajan Zed, a Hindu priest. This was the first time a Hindu priest lead the opening prayer. Operation Save America has a small press release. Youtube link.
Amar Chitra Katha
were the comics
of my youth. Illustrated painstakingly
details, the immortal epics
and stories of India
going back over 5000
years were crystallized
in these thin graphic novels. I will always remember Mirabai
, for the romance
between her and the god of love and war, Krishna
. And Chanakya,
aka Kautilya, author of the Arthashastra
but better known to me for his Nitishastra
- niti means political ethics
. But other nitishastras include the famous Panchantra [pdf]
, the equivalent of Aesop's
Fables for India, a textbook of 'niti'
or the wise conduct of life.
The Festival of Lights, Good vs. Evil
Diwali is the Hindu Festival of Lights
that falls each year in October or November. This year, Diwali is on the 21st
of October 2006.
Legends about Diwali
are many, from the story
of Prince Prahlad
, immortal in his faith in the universe to the story of Ram
and Sita returning from exile to Ayodhya. My favourite is not a story so much as a snippet of what is actually
said to happen tonight, not the mythology
walks tonight, she is the Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity,
and lamps [diya or deep] are lit and placed at hearths and entrances so as to help her find her way. Accompanying her is the elephant headed
, the remover of obstacles
and giver of knowledge
. Just welcome them into your home.
Savitri Devi Mukherji.
Born Maximiani Portas in 1905, this French woman of Greek and English extraction would, in pilgrimages to Palestine and India, experience a series of strange awakenings - that she was a National Socialist, that she was a Hindu, that the two were entwined in the struggle against the Judeo-Christian order, and that Hitler
was the living incarnation of Kalki the Destroyer, the final avatar of Vishnu. Known to many as "Hitler's guru," she stood at the forefronts of Hindu nationalism, Nazi mysticism
, Holocaust denial, animal rights
, and the international Neo-Nazi movement. The Lightning And The Sun
, her most famous work, most directly espouses her philosophy, but perhaps the best place to start would be Long-Whiskers And The Two-Legged Goddess
, which is her autobiography as filtered through her many cats. Her nephews were Communists; her own mother was active in the French Resistance; and according to some, the daughter would have shot the mother dead for it. The world is not be a better place for the Savitri Devis of the world, but her presence made this world like none other
70 private cars, 50 000 kilos of flowers, 3000 candles, 65 000 yards of fabric.
Those are just a few of the figures from the wedding
of New York playboy and (wait for it) hotel heir Vikram Chatwal
to model Priya Sachdev
. Last year, Lakshmi Mittal
(the world's third-richest man, according to Forbes) spent over $60 million for his daughter Vanisha's wedding. What kind of wedding
does $60 million buy? A song-and-dance by Aishwarya Rai
, among other Bollywood luminaries; ceremonies at the Tuileries and Versailles; and top chefs and designers at your beck and call. In 2004, the Sahara Group's Subrata Roy
built three mock palaces on the edge of a lake in Uttar Pradesh; his sons' double wedding
had 11 000 guests. Mr. Roy's company paid for the weddings
of 101 couples (numbers ending in '1' are considered auspicious) who couldn't afford to get married, and also fed 140 000 poor people across the country (all as part of the festivities).
All of this sound like idle gossip? The wedding business is huge in India
; it's a $10bn business (and growing at 25% annually), and the demand for gold wedding jewelry, according to analysts, "helped lift the metal's price to a 25-year high last month." Appliance retailers offer discounts during weddings season
; there are personal loans available for weddings; and there's even an entire mall devoted to weddings.
As the Christian Science Monitor notes
, the minimum a middle-class Indian family will spend on a wedding is $34 000. (The average American wedding? $26 327.) And who makes up the Indian middle class? "Those making $4,545 to $23,000 a year."
More on Indian wedding traditions here
What Was True.
From the mid 1950s through the early 1980s, William Gedney (1932-1989) photographed
throughout the United States
, in India
, and in Europe
, and filling notebook after notebook
with his observations. From the commerce of the street outside his Brooklyn apartment to the daily chores
of unemployed coal miners
, from the lifestyle of hippies in Haight-Ashbury
to the sacred rituals of Hindu worshippers, Gedney was able to record the lives of others
with clarity and poignancy. Gedney's America
is a nation of averted eyes, and broken automobiles, and restlessness, a place Edward Hopper would recognize, but so, also, Walt Whitman.
How I Sent My Father to Heaven.
A Hindu funeral. 'My non-believing heart had melted and I once again saluted my father's dedication to my mother. '
New content on The Call of Yama
, a page about death and dying in Hinduism (and part of Kamat's Potpourri
, a huge personal site devoted to Indian culture, history, art and scenery).
"The Hindu people are intense
about their religion, and take some extraordinary measures
to display their devotion
. A good example
is the Thaipusam festival
." Warning - images may be disturbing to some people! (more inside)
Stories of Krishna: The Adventures of a Hindu God
is a lovely interactive Flash presentation from the Seattle Art Museum: Click an image and hear the accompanying tale (or read the transcript), then click "close the story" and mouse over the image icons to explore the characters and view details. After you are finished you can test what you've learned with a drag and drop card game. No broadband? View images of Krishna here
, and read some background
Eunuchs' Day in the Sun:
Eunuchs from all over India gathered in a small village, Koovagam,
this week to re-enact a story from the Hindu scriptures in which they pretend to marry a warrior-god. Pictures from the festival
) to all Hindu
, Indian, Bengali
, Punjabi & Sikh
metafilter members & readers. Diwali, a 5-day festival, is as important to Hindus and Indians as Christmas is to Christians. The festival is also known as Festival of Lights
and its rich history and traditions are rooted in the Hindu epic Ramayana
(written in the Sanskrit language
) (picture gallery of Ramayana
). But there are several legends
of how Diwali originated. Although this important festival is celebrated differently in different parts of India and other countries, the significance of Diwali is the unifying belief and celebration of the victory of good / righteousness / light / knowledge over evil / vice/ darkness / ignorance
, which is symbolized by the lighting of oil lamps
, candles and scented incense during this festival. Enjoy!
Gujarat rocked by a series of bomb blasts.
"It appears that the bombs are crudely made bombs and intended to create a panic" says a police spokesman. About a dozen people were injured in three explosions in the city of Ahmedabad.
The Essential Hinduvta Orgchart
by Suman Palit in his weblog the Kolkata Libertarian
. I'm not from Calcutta, and I'm not Libertarian, but I found the information design in this chart of the relationships between the Hindu nationalist party BJP and various other Hindu institutions fascinating. Note that not only each organization block, but most of the relationship lines, have individual links. What specialized knowledge do you have? What tools would help you share it with the world?
Hindu protests against Valentine's Day Cards in India
While I understand the "protest against encroachments of Western culture" part of this, I find it curious that part of the problem is that they find the cards obscene "because they show young couples embracing and kissing" - considering certain bits of Hindu cultural history.
How far will the Taleban go
in isolating themselves from the rest of the world? This possible move brings to mind memories of how the Nazis treated the Jews during WWII.
Time to wash up
for Hindus. Now don't get me wrong, I'm all for religion and such. But if you wash your sins away in this
river, you might wind up with something that won't