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.
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]
In February each year, Ludhiana becomes the destination fro hundreds of sports enthusiasts, including foreigners. They come to Kila Raipur to see the special breed of bullocks, camels, dogs, mules and other animals competing in highly professional events. It is to be seen to be believed. In 1946, Mr. Bakhsish Singh was instrumental in getting the most popular event of the Games – the Bullock Cart Race – introduced. This is the annual Kila Raipur Sports Festival, commonly called The Rural Olympics. This years games are over, but photos of various events are being posted online. For one last taste, here's a 10 minute video from the 2007 events.
Jingle Bells, gujarati/tamil style. A year ago or so, MTV India released two Christmas-themed bumpers/music-videos, each an animated rendition of the Xmas classic "Jingle Bells" in regional dialects and in regional musical styles: gujarati/tamil and punjabi. [more inside]
The dhol has traditionally been played by men at Punjabi weddings and sufi shrines. Rani Taj, the first professional British-Kashmiri female dholi, trained by the Dhol Blasters and Azaad dhol, plays the dhol at public events.
Bombs exploded outside the Mecca Masjid today as people were offering their Friday Prayers. Out of the more than 8,000 worshippers present, a total of 12 have been reported dead, and 50 injured. Also, this comes in the wake of the violence that has been taking place in the State of Punjab.