Falgun Amavasya Vik Samvat 2070. Yugabda 5115: March 1, 2014

1.  FESTIVALS: Varsh Pratipada, also known as Gudi Padwa falls on Chaitra Shukla Pratipada (31 March this year) and considered as first day of Hindu New Year. In the celestial measurements, Hindu scriptures consider it to be the origin of the universe. Year is known by the term Yugabda. A sankalpa taken on this day reads ‘Atha Shri Brahmane Dwitiys Parardhe Shwetavaraha kalpe Vaivaswat Manwantare Ashtavimshati tame kali pratham charne Yugabde’ which links the present time to the start of the universe. The year starting on March 31st will be Yuagbda 5116.
It is also remembered as the day when SriRama entered Ayodhya after his victory over Ravana and also remembered by RSS swayamsevaks as birthday of its founder Dr.K B Hedgewar. 

2. ‘COUNTRY HAS A HINDU IDENTITY WHICH IS OUR NATIONAL IDENTITY’: MOHAN BHAGWAT: RSS Sarasanghachalak Dr. Mohan Bhagwat has said ’Country has a Hindu Identity which is our National Identity’, at Bhopal in a recent RSS gathering.
Dr. Bhagwat was addressing a RSS gathering, a ‘kshethra’ level baitak in which representatives from 4 pranths namely Malwa Pranth, Madhya Bharat Pranth, Mahakoshal Pranth and Chattisgarh Pranths were participating.
On February 23, Bhagwat would observe a ‘Pathsanchalan’ (march past) that would be taken out in various parts of the city. Following the pathsanchalan, he would address a meeting of RSS workers at the Model School.

3. ‘INDIA HEALTH LINE’ LAUNCHED: A much needed social service in socio-medical field launched now. ‘INDIA HEALTH LINE’ national launch took place in Hyderabad in presence of eminent specialist doctors & representatives of medical fraternity on February 16. ‘INDIA HEALTH LINE’ is to have a National Call Center to attend to patients’ calls who, after seeing the neighbouring General Practitioner doctor, want to consult specialist doctors for further advice & necessary treatment.
Launching the healthline, renowned Cancer Surgeon, & VHP International Working President Dr Pravin Togadia said, “There are untreated diseases only because patients after primary examination by the doctor do not approach specialist doctors as advised. It is mainly due to poverty, fear of increased medical expenses if some serious diseases is detected & sometimes even ignorance. ‘INDIA HEALTH LINE’ aims at connecting medical Fraternity with the needy & poor patients. Doctors are a part of this great nation & the society.
The National Call Center number is 18602333666

4. NHSF CELEBRATES 21ST BIRTHDAY AT LONDON PARLIAMENT: National Hindu Students’ Forum (UK) celebrated its official 21 years of achievements on February 3rd 2014 in the Palace of Westminster London at a reception hosted by MP Seema Malhotra. The organisation has 5,000 members and it aims to encourage and celebrate Hindu Dharma through practice, preserving, promoting and protecting Hindu Dharma through a variety of sporting, spiritual and social events for their members.
A host of Labour MPs viz Sadiq khan, Keith Vaz, Barry Gardiner, Gareth Thomas attended the reception including Leader of the Opposition and MP for Doncaster North, Ed Miliband who commented, “I wanted to congratulate the National Hindu Students' Forum for reaching 21 years and come here to recognise the work you do not just for the Hindu community but for the wider community. The Hindu community is part of the mosaic that makes our country stronger."
Please visit www.nhsf.org.uk for more information or contact prteam@nhsf.org.uk.
5. IS YOGA THE SECRET TO OLYMPIC GOLD?: Instead of going to Disney World after winning gold in the women's snowboarding slopestyle event, Jamie Anderson said she'll be headed to Wanderlust -- a yoga retreat on the North Shore of Oahu -- to celebrate.
The 23-year-old snowboarder told that she always practices yoga. "My favorite poses are variations on the handstand and the scorpion," she said. "You have to use your whole body, it's physically and mentally challenging. You have to find your balance in this uncomfortable position, so when you do it, you feel like you're really overcoming an obstacle."
Anderson credits yoga practice with helping her stay physically and mentally strong, and she's not the only one who feels that way in Sochi. In fact, we discovered so many Olympians-cum-yogis that if the United States Yoga Federation ever succeeds in making yoga asana, or posture yoga, an official Olympic sport, we'll most likely see some cross-sport competitors.

6. AMMA REJECTS CHARGES, SAYS MUTT IS OPEN BOOK: Spiritual leader Mata Amritanandamayi, fondly referred to as Amma by her disciples, has rejected the allegations leveled against her and her Ashram, the Mata Amritanandamayi Mutt at Amritapuri, in Kerala’s Kollam district, by one of her former disciples by saying, “My Mutt is an open book.”
Addressing disciples at the Brahmasthana Mahotsavam at Puthur in Palakkad , Amma said that the recent controversies were being propagated by certain forces which were trying to create problems by whipping up religious sentiments. She said that the Mutt had nothing to hide and that it had been giving financial details to the authorities every year.
Amma’s statement came in the context of the controversies spreading through Kerala about the Mutt on Facebook and other social networks on Holy Hell: A Memoir of Faith, Devotion and Pure Madness, a book written by Australia-born Gail Tredwell aka Gayatri, who had served at the Mutt till 15 years ago as a disciple of the Mata.

7. BEYOND THE GHETTO: Supreme court ruling on minorities adopting kids via secular law is welcome - The Supreme Court’s ruling, stating personal law can’t prohibit Muslims and other minority faith members from adopting children under the secular Jevenile Justice Act, is a positive move forward. Like the Special Marriage Act, this ruling emphasizes the growing flexibility of secular legal recourses communities administered by religious laws can have. This is a judicious step towards a uniform civil code enjoined by directive principles in India’s Constitution, whereby all citizens enjoy the same rights. And this makes individual lives richer, permitting these to be fuller with possibilities of joy – not starker by orthodox limitations on the same.
India’s lack of a uniform civil code relates to the tensions of our newly-free polity. India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru faced stiff resistance – including from conservative Congressmen such as first President Rajendra Prasad – when he mooted reforms for religious laws. Driven by conviction, Nehru pushed through the Hindu Code Bills.
But he lacked the confidence to push similar reforms – re-reshaping marriage, dowry, inheritance, adoption andother spheres of life – for many minority groups. Partition’s inheritance of unease steered Nehru away from presenting minorities with modernity, permitting them to be internally governed by customary internal laws instead.
The result hasn’t been happy. Given the imbalance in key laws majoritarian critics have a field day knocking the state’s ‘pseudo-secularism’. But such critics overlook how different laws governing crucial zones of personal life meant the deprivation of minority women’s rights. Facing disputes, the polity has been famously infirm. In the Shah Bano case, where the Supreme Court ruled a Muslim divorcee was entitled to alimony, the ruling was overturned by Rajiv Gandhi responding to pressures from orthodox men’s organisations.
But modernizing voices within minority groups are speaking up today. The restriction on adopting children has been challenged by a Muslim woman while moves to bar female worshippers from entering Sufi shrine sanctums have been countered my Muslim’s women’s groups. With its ruling, the Supreme Court has given greater access to empowerment and happiness for minority groups while highlighting the deeply humanitarian act of adoption, enriching the lives of abandoned children along with those longing to love a child themselves. All human beings must have the right to lead fuller, not narrower, lives. Young and modern voices within the Muslim community are saying this. It’s high time India’s polity hears them. (Editorial, Times of  India 21 Feb 2014)

8. SEWA MELBOURNE FUNDRAISING: In response to the appeal made by Sewa International (Bharat) for fundraising towards a computer center in Uttarakhand, Sewa (Melbourne) arranged a fund raising event on Sunday, the 23rd February at Annual Street Festival of Clayton. Funds were raised through two activities i.e., hand painting (Hena) with the help of lady Sewa volunteers and sale of cold drinks with the help of male Sewa volunteers.
Sewa is also participating in Annual Australia Clean Up Day on 2nd March, which will be attended by Mayor, Monash City Council and local Councillor.

9. BHARAT’S $1.3MN HELP TO DISASTER-HIT ISLANDS: Bharat has contributed over US $ one million to St Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, and Commonwealth of Dominica towards disaster relief assistance in the aftermath of flash floods that struck these islands in December last year.
Permanent Representative of Bharat to the UN Ambassador Asoke Mukerji handed over the contributions of USD 500,000 each to the Permanent Missions of St Vincent and Grenadines and St Lucia to the UN, and USD 300,000 to the Commonwealth of Dominica. The flash floods had struck the three Caribbean islands and resulted in the deaths of 15 people.

10. NO FORCE IN THE WORLD CAN TAKE ARUNACHAL FROM US: MODI: BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on February 22 countered China's frequent claims over Arunachal Pradesh, saying no force in the world could take the state from Bharat.
"It is because of the brave martyrs of the state that the Eastern frontier of the country is safe. Times are changing now and China must change its attitude towards Arunachal Pradesh. I am here to assure you that no force in the world can take Arunachal Pradesh from Bharat," Modi said at a massive public rally in the state's Pasighat town.
At the Silchar rally, the BJP leader assured that if his party comes to power in the general elections, it would resolve the burning issues like illegal infiltration from Bangladesh, Hindu refugees and 'D' (disenfranchised/doubtful) voters within 60 months.

11. COURSES FROM 3 IITS, IISC ARE IN GLOBAL TOP 50: Four Bharatiya universities, including the IITs at Delhi and Mumbai, are among the global top 50 in at least one of the 30 disciplines covered under the QS World University Rankings by Subject.
IIT-Delhi achieved the country's highest position, ranking 42nd in electrical engineering. IIT-Bombay was 49th in electrical engineering and 50th in civil engineering, IIT-Madras 49th in civil engineering and the Indian Institute of Science 46th in materials science.
The five life sciences disciplines feature only two Bbharatiya institutions, while Bharat draws a blank in six of the eight social sciences disciplines. The exceptions are statistics, in which five Bharatiya institutions feature, and politics, in which Jawaharlal Nehru University appears in the 101-150 grouping.
All round, IIT-B emerges as the top institution with four of its courses making it to the rankings.
On the other hand, the lack of world-renowned Bharatiya programmes in arts, humanities and social sciences continues to be a concern, Sowter said. "The latest QS rankings highlight the excellence of the specialist Bharatiya institutions in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) area and also identifies the need to improve the global competitiveness of our universities, in particular the large and comprehensive institutions," said Mohandas Pai, chairman, ICAA — Indian Centre for Assessment & Accreditation.

12. NRI FINDS SOLUTION TO ORGAN PRESERVATION WOES: .Dr Hemant Thatte, a senior cardiovascular surgeon at Harvard University worked out a 21-chemical solution that could preserve a donated organ for up to a week before a transplant.
Preliminary studies have shown that hearts stored in SOMAH solution (as the new preservative is called after the Sanskrit name for the elixir of immortality) for 24 hours can be resuscitated without medicines as against other solutions that allow for only four hours. In studies conducted on pigs, the solution has been effective in preserving tissues for up to a week.

13. PIO DEVELOPS CHEAP PAPER TEST TO DETECT CANCER: A Bharatiya -American scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has developed a cheap, simple, paper test that can detect cancer, circumventing expensive approaches such as mammograms and colonoscopy.
The diagnostic, which works much like a pregnancy test, could reveal within minutes, based on a urine sample, whether a person has cancer, The star at the center of this breakthrough is MIT professor and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator Sangeeta Bhatia, already a star in the US scientific firmament. The US born Bhatia explained that the paper test essentially relies on nanoparticles that interact with tumor proteins called proteases, each of which can trigger release of hundreds of biomarkers that are then easily detectable in a patient's urine.

14. RASHTRA SEVIKA SAMITI CALLS FOR A STRONG CENTRE: Rashtra Sevika Samiti calls upon sevikas to beware of self-proclaimed ‘anarchists’ as well as naxalites.  Both of them are wreckers of the system, the Samiti points out.  The Samiti, therefore, feels that a strong Central authority should emerge in the country—this was the idea of a resolution passed by Rashtra Sevika Samiti at its Akhila Bharitya Karyakarini and Pratinidhi Sabha Mandal Bitak held at Coimbatore from February 7 to February 9.  The Samiti also took a dig at Government of Bharat for opposing a Supreme Court order upholding Section 377 which declares that unnatural sexual relationships are an offence.  The Coimbatore meet was attended by Pramuk Sanchalika Shantha Akka and Pramukh Karyavahika Seetha Akka.

15. DESIGN OF WORLD'S FIRST THORIUM BASED NUCLEAR REACTOR IS READY:  The design of World's first Thorium based nuclear reactor is ready. It is the latest Bharatiya design for a next-generation nuclear reactor that will burn thorium as its fuel ore.
The design is being developed at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), in Mumbai, and aims to meet the objectives of using thorium fuel cycles for commercial power generation.
The AHWR is a vertical pressure tube type reactor cooled by boiling light water under natural circulation. The unique feature of this design is a large tank of water on top of the primary containment of vessel, called the gravity-driven water pool (GDWP).
Dr R K Sinha, chairman, Atomic Energy Commission, said, "This reactor could function without an operator for 120 days."

16. SWAMINARAYAN TEMPLE REPLACES QUEEN’S PROPERTY: The Maninagar-based Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan is all set to redevelop McNicholas House, a heritage property, into a modern temple in the Kingsbury borough of London by August this year.
The temple, constructed at a cost of £20 million by London-based support group Shree Swaminarayan Siddhant Sajivan Mandal is being developed on land once owned by the Queen of England.
“The pran-pratistha ceremony for the temple will take place in August," said Swami Bhagwatpriyadasji, a religious leader of the community.

17. ISRO TAKES ANOTHER STEP TOWARDS HUMAN SPACEFLIGHT: Bharat's hopes of sending humans on a spaceflight to demonstrate its technological advancement is moving in the right direction with ISRO starting the instrumentation process in a crew module structure.
ISRO which had announced that it will test the crew module and escape systems on a Geo-synchronous Launch Vehicle-MK III (GSLV-MK III) during 2014-15, has already obtained its first 'crew module structural assembly'.
A senior official from the space agency said: "The structure is in Thiruvananthapuram and our team has begun the process of instrumentation, likely to be completed in four to six weeks."

18. BHAGAT SINGH’S HOUSE IN PAKISTAN TO GET RS 80 MN FOR RESTORATION: Legendary Bharatiya freedom fighter Bhagat Singh’s ancestral house, school and his village in Punjab Province in Pakistan will be restored for Rs 80 million. “We have allocated Rs 80 million for restoration of the house and school of Bharatiya Independence war hero Bhagat Singh. The amount will also be spent for the upliftment of Singh’s village, where clean drinking water is not available and drainage system is in a bad shape,” Faisalabad District Coordination Officer Noorul Amin Mengal told PTI.
Mengal said that people in Faisalabad “take pride in the fact that Bhagat Singh was the son of their soil” and want the place to be known as “the town of Bhagat Singh”. The celebrated revolutionary was born September 28, 1907 at Bangay village, Jaranwala Tehsil in the Faisalabad (then Lyallpur) district of the Province. Singh’s village, Bangay, some 150 kilometres from Lahore, would also become a tourist attraction for people, especially Bharatiyas, once his house is restored by this year end, he added.

19. VHP HAS NO POLITICAL AGENDA: TOGADIA: Stating that they were not backing any political party or individual, Vishwa Hindu Parishad International Working President Pravin Togadia has asked people to vote for candidates with a clean slate and stature in Lok Sabha elections.
"VHP has no political agenda and the organisation is not supporting anyone. We are with those who are credible and committed to protect the interests of millions of Hindus," he said.
Criticising the formation of Minority Development Corporation by the UPA with a financial allocation of Rs 700 crore, he question its propriety and said that the majority population (Hindus) is deprived of such privileges.

20. SIKH AWARDED FOR VOLUNTEER SERVICE IN SINGAPORE: An 82-year-old Sikh Sujan Singh has been honoured for his outstanding volunteer service in Singapore. On February 22, he received the Ministry of Social and Family Development Volunteers Awards for helping some 60 boys, mostly involved in petty crimes such as theft.
Singh, a retired teacher, had one of the longest serving volunteer probation careers. He served for 42 years. "Trust is crucial. You cannot succeed as a probation officer if they (the boys) or their parents don't trust you," Singh was quoted as saying by The Straits Times.
"I stuck on with this (volunteering work) because I believe that human beings are basically good. This is one way I can help in society," said the Malaysia-born Singh, whose parents arrived in Malaya in the early 1930s.

21. HOMAGE TO DEENDAYALJI ON MARTYRDOM DAY: Rich tribute was paid to Pt. Deendayal Upadhyaya on his martyrdom day on February 11. Functions were organised across the country. Veteran BJP leader Shri LK Advani paid tribute at the BJP head office in Delhi. RSS Sahsarkaryavah Shri Suresh Soni paid tribute at a function held at Deendayal Research Institute in Delhi.
Shri Suresh Soni highlighted three aspects of Deendayalji’s life—individual, ideologue and conduct. He also spoke about the integral humanism and said this kind of economic thinking suits the nation even today. At Pt. Deendayalji’s birth place in Nangla Chandrabhan, Mathura, a three day event was organised from February 9 to 11. At the event free dental and health camps were also organised. 

22. BLOOD DONATION CAMP ON SRI GURUJI JAYANTI AND BIRTH CENTENARY OF YADAVA RAO JOSHI: Rashtreeya Svayamsevak Sangh’s Govidaraja Nagar unit in Bangalore, in association with of Rashtrotthana Blood bank, Yadava Seva Samiti Sheshadripuram and Nachiketa Manovikasa Kendra Vijayanagar, organized the blood donation camp on the occasion of RSS’s second Sarasanghachalak Golwalkar Guruji’s 108th birthday (25th February) and birth centenary year of Shri Yadava Rao Joshi.
The annual blood donation camp on the occasion of Guruji’s birthday, being organized since 2006, was held on 23rd February 2014 at the premises of Nachiketa Manovikasa Kendra, a school for mentally challenged kids.
Well known dentist Dr. Girija inaugurated the function and explained the importance of blood donation. Vijayanagar Bhag  Vyavastha Pramukh Shri Subramanya narrated the inspirational life of Pa. Pu. Guruji and Shri Yadava Rao Joshi and elaborated the Seva activities in Sangh. Shri Ishwar of Rashtrotthana Blood bank gave an introductory account of Rashtrotthana Raktanidhi and also apprised on the benefits of donating blood.

23. “UNEASY NEIGHBOURS: INDIA AND CHINA AFTER FIFTY YEARS OF THE WAR”: New book “Uneasy Neighbours: India and China after Fifty Years of the War” by RSS functionary Ram Madhav is available in market.
 Interested persons can get copies from India Foundation office at discounted prices.
Mail ID is: mail@indiafoundation.in
“This book deals with the history of the 1962 War and highlights Bharat’s failure to understand its neighbor well. Bharat continues to suffer from same deficiency as she continues to tread the perilous path that it had tread before the war. This book proposes that the two countries remain fierce competitors and hence it is imperative for Bharat to understand the thinking, tactics and tantrums of her ‘Uneasy Neighbour’ China” said Ram Madhav in an interaction to www.samvada.org

24. SHRI VISHWA NIKETAN: Pravas: Dr. Ram Vaidya sahsamyojak Vishwa Vibhag arrived in Bharat for ABPS baithak. Visitors: Brahma Rattan Agarawal, Abhinav Dwiwedi – USA, Keshav Agnihotri – Canada
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Leave past memories behind and aim for reaching the stateless state of cosmic harmony. That alone will extinguish the need to worry over what goes on in the mind throughout the course of day and night. – Prasna Upanishad.


Indonesia- Our Cultural Cousin
Shyam Parande
Swami Veda Bharati of Himalayan Institute, Dehradun, was invited to teach Vedic science by the Balinese a decade earlier or so, he conducted classes and his comment while returning is illustrative. He writes, “When I was called to Bali it was to teach and preach the Vedic teachings. But I came back with a humble realisation that I have to learn more from Bali than I can actually teach them.” This article from Swami Veda Bharati was sent by a friend and reading that while travelling to Bali helped me a lot in understating the Balinese Hindu Dharma, culture and the society.
Representing International Centre for Cultural Studies, I visited Bali first fortnight of October 2013 and I realised that there cannot be a different opinion on Bali other than what Swami Veda Bharti has stated about the native Hindu society and culture than what most visitors to Bali from Bharat have mentioned.
Accompanied by Prof Amarjiva Lochan I travelled to Bali, East Java, Sumatra, West Java and Jakarta, all of them being part of Indonesia- a country comprising of 13,500 islands. There are many lessons for Bharatiya Hindus provided we have an open receiving mind and try to understand the culture of the Island. There might be many issues on which Bharatiya Hindus might feel differently and worth criticism but there are many that we need to learn.
There are two most important factors for consideration. One of the most impressive factors of this insight is preservation of the culture of Bali, despite being part of a Muslim country and secondly being the most favoured tourist destination globally, attracting tourists from the West and Australia. The challenge is two folds and yet they preserved the tradition. The Hindu society of Bali has undauntedly shoved off the influence of western life and welcomed the tourists while regaling them with paramount hospitality, not compromising on their own culture. The history of Bali, of course, is replete with valour and courage for protecting this Island from the avalanche of invaders.
First impact of the Balinese society that any visitor cannot deny is the aesthetic sense of this community aided by the serenity of the nature. Bestowed by rich flora and fauna, the visitor is impressed by every little thing that one visualises or experiences, be it the architecture or arts or performing arts and music or pleasing decorations or charming flower pots or alluring food served on the table or the colourful attire they dress, Bali fascinates strikingly. Aesthetic is all over there, whatever they do. I became a great admirer of this society since I visited the island.
Bali is proud of its cultural heritage that they boast of the Vedic descent and that all the schools in Bali teach tradition of Vedic Rishis like Markandeya, Bharadwaja, Agastya and so on.
 It takes a lot of contemplation for a visitor like me to understand that the Balinese Hindu students learn these names and their achievements as History -Puranas- and not as fables or mythology. This makes a Hindu visitor from Bharat ponder about the history lessons that are taught in Bharat as Bharatiyas are the legitimate inheritors of the great Vedic knowledge and yet are deprived by the establishment while in a Muslim country like Indonesia this is most precious. Certainly, there are many more things that provoke a Hindu like me from Bharat for introspection. This makes every Balinese proud of being a Hindu and a Balinese and an Indonesian.
Most of the people we met, except for the official meetings, were proudly sporting the traditional wear like dhoti and the exquisite Balinese cap. Entering a Mandir without the traditional attire is prohibited and all the temporal traditions are followed precisely.
Entry to Balinese Hindu Mandirs is allowed to people who wear Dhoti and the Balinese cap that is simple but lovely. All the rituals in the Mandirs are followed without dilution and people have patience to sit and participate in all rituals that many times are time consuming- no short cuts allowed.
Pretentions like being modern made Bharatiya Hindu society sacrifice many precious traditions and this realisation occurs to every visitor from Bharat, provided the visitor tries to understand the prominent features of Balinese Hindu Dharma. One of the most prominent traditions is that of the ‘Lontar’ what we call ‘Talpatra’.
This is probably the only community world over which is struggling to preserve the ancient tradition of writing on the palm leaves and bamboo skin. Lontar is a part of the syllabus for students studying Hindu Dharma at undergraduate level. We were amased to be witness to Lontar writing in skilled beautiful handwriting, first carved on the palm leaf and then filled in with ink- a spotless writing. An amasing experience it was. Every student is supposed to write the Dharmik lessons on Lontar for preserving his lessons for a lifetime this being sacred to them.
While performing religious poojas, everyone reads from the Lontars that they have written and preserved, and not the printed books like others. Ramayana Kakavin (Balinese Ramayana Granth) is very much valued for a family and is preserved by consecrating the Lontar Ramayana written by a family member and used for the Ramayana discourse or for the ‘Paath’.
We probably are the noisiest country in the world with highest level of noise pollution while Bali has the least noise pollution, a visitor experiences. The Balinese Hindu community celebrates a festival called Nyepi Day in total silence, no traffic including air traffic, no offices, no work, no vehicles, no TV, no entertainment, least possible movement on roads, everyone busy contemplating on what he or she did last year and planning the next year that too in total silence sitting at home, of course, worshiping the ‘Ishtadevata’ by maintaining ‘mauna’ (silence). It is just unbelievable for someone from Bharatiya society, where honking is ‘safety’ and the young motor cyclists scream your ear dead on the road.
Trikala Sandhya is another aspect of Bali that cannot be missed. Every student performs trikala sandhya and chants Gayatri Mantra thrice a day, as this is part of the curriculum. Many radio stations in Bali broadcast Trikala Sandhya three times every day.
We had an opportunity to visit a family that had lost a young son. Despite mourning the adornment for the funeral was so rich and the gathering of relatives and friends for days together was indeed huge. Whole village or town joins the funeral procession and mourning and shares the grief. Death in Bali, I could not stop myself thinking, is charming celebration.
For centuries together Balinese Hindu Dharma, Balinese Buddhism and Baliyaga, the traditional Balinese religion that exists since pre-Hindu, pre-Buddha times, live together in harmony and even participate in each other’s festivals, sharing the spiritualism. Shaivism and Buddhism living together without a tussle or a murmur is exactly what every other society would love to live like and Bali basks in that glory.
However, contemporary Bali is concerned about fast demographic degradation of the Island with Hindu population going down from 94 per cent to 84 per cent in a decade or so. The Hindu intellectuals of Bali express this concern in no uncertain terms. Bali being the most sought after tourist destination world over, the serene beeches, natural green carpet bedecked with diverse flowers, matched by exotic floral designs and splendid architecture donning tiled roofs, and the most outstanding factor – Balinese people with their incessant hospitality and smiling faces, attracts tourism and this pulls in investors from other parts of Indonesia, bringing in more and more Muslims creating demographic alteration. This worries them a lot. The contemporary challenge before the Balinese Hindu community is how to preserve the tradition that they and ancestors have so fondly preserved.
Balinese Hindu Society is facing huge internal challenges also, the severest, considering that this is emerging from within the society itself. Balinese Hindu society had been living on the island for centuries together and the dormant internal schisms are trying to raise their heads. This society fought back valiantly keeping the external forces away, preserving their tradition and faith and were victorious, for centuries together. However, the differences based on rites, rituals and sects are dividing the society- like sectarian ones. This society will have to rise above all such differences for the glorious future.
Well, I will not hesitate to mention here that interaction with Bharatiya Hindus worries the Balinese many a times. Various religious organisations and sects from Bharat, without understanding the Balinese Hindu Dharma, comment in various ways and try altering them to match ‘us’ and this is a threat in itself that is experienced by the Balinese. Bharatiya Hindu will have to understand that the ritual part is just superficial and belittling these would only distance the Balinese from Bharatiya and not bring them closer. Appreciating Balinese Hindus for their bravery and courage in preserving their tradition and culture will encourage the society and bring them closer to Bharat. This will be the best contribution of Bharatiya Hindu society to Bali, I feel strongly. (Shyam Parande is Asia Zone coordinator of International Center for Cultural Studies. The Organiser Weekly, March 2, 2014)