Baishakh Shukla 6, Vik.Samvat 2074, Yugabda 5119: May 1, 2017


Baishakh Shukla 6, Vik.Samvat 2074, Yugabda 5119: May 1, 2017

1. FESTIVALS: Sindhu Darshan Festival



4.  BOOK ON Haifa Released in New Zealand ON ANZAC DAY

5.   2600 year old Bodhi tree not drying up

6.   The temple - bursting with life

7.  Pak Hindus allowed to worship at Shiva temple after 20 years





12.  All speeches by President, central ministers may soon be in Hindi



15. Redbridge Sikhs and Hindus celebrate Vaisakhi






Seeds of India in the rich soil of Thai magic and folklore


A festival that unites

1. FESTIVALS: Every year, a large number of participants from different parts of the country participate in Sindhu Darshan Festival. They bring water from the river of their own state in earthen pots and immerse these pots in the Sindhu River. Consequently, the waters of all rivers get mixed together; thereby symbolizing the multi-dimensional cultural identity of the country. The first day of the Sindhu Darshan Festival witnesses a reception ceremony for the participants, organized on the banks of Sindhu at Shey. This reception ceremony is conducted by a joint association of committees of various religious groups ( Buddhist, Shia, Sunni, Christian, Hindu and Sikh ) namely, Ladakh Buddhist Association, Shia Majlis, Sunni Anjuman, Christian Moravian Church, Hindu Trust and Sikh Gurudwara Prabhandak Committee, to promote national integrity. As a part of the ritual, fifty senior Lamas conduct a prayer on the banks of the river. A series of cultural programs is also presented by the artists from various states of the country. A sightseeing tour is organized for the participants and the day comes to an end with a bonfire at night. After the cultural programs and sightseeing trip, a Puja is organized on the second day of the Sindhu Darshan Festival. On the third day, the participants get ready for the departure. Leh is jam packed with thousand of tourist, who visit the hill town to be a part of this grand celebrations. The festival will take place from June 12 to June 14 this year. -GoTop


2. EDUCATE OTHERS ABOUT DECOLONISATION: MOHAN BHAGWAT:  RSS Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat on April 16 said that only Bharatiya wisdom can now save the world from destructive forces. He was speaking at a seminar on "Decolonization of the Bharatiya Mind" organized at Gandhinagar by Bharatiya Vichar Manch (BVM). "Since 2004, when the whole world began to feel it was under attack and started thinking of defense, we began to feel we were on the path to the victory", said Shri Bhagwat. "The world turned to ideas followed by Bharat."

The occasion was marked by the presence of galaxy of speakers.  On first day, Suresh Soni, Sahsarkaryavah of the RSS, said in his keynote address, "When a civilization attacks another, that civilization influences the mind of defeated people. Old system is broken down. Danger of full destruction arises. At that time, one group comes forward taking inspiration from original elements of defeated civilization. Arnold J Toynbee, a British historian, called this group as 'Creative Minority'." After explaining the process of intellectual colonization Shri Soni suggested the remedy of 'Self realization i.e. Atma Sakshatkar'. According to him the prescription given by Pt Deendayal Upadhyaya is the key, "Make whatever is foreign in tune with our ethos and whatever is domestic, retune it as per changing times."  Prof Kapil Kapoor, former Pro Vice-Chancellor of JNU, spoke on 'How to De-subjugate the Mind'. Indumati Katdare spoke on 'Bharatiyakaran of Western Influenced Education'. Dr AK Singh former Director of School Of Translation Studies and Training, IGNOU; Prof Kapil Tiwari, former Director of Adivasi Lok Kala Parishad, Bhopal; Dr Chandraprakash Dwivedi a well known actor, director and script writer; Prof. Prasanna Deshpande, Assistant Professor, Department of English, Fergusson College, Pune; Dr Makarand Paranjpe; Prafulla Ketkar, Editor, Organiser; Dr Shankar Sharan, former Assistant Professor at NCERT and Prof Rakesh Sinha put forth their views on various related topics in the seminar.-GoTop


3. KALPIT VEERWAL FIRST EVER TO SCORE 100% IN JEE MAIN:  Kalpit Veerwal, a student of MDS senior secondary school from Udaipur became the first ever in the country to score 100%, or full marks of 360, to top the prestigious Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) Main 2017 for IITs and other engineering colleges in the country when CBSE declared the results on 27th April.

Kalpit said, "Though everyone suggested that I go to Kota or Hyderabad for coaching, I didn't want to take studies as a burden and I wanted to enjoy what I learned. So I decided to stay back in Udaipur and took coaching here along with regular schooling. I knew I could come first but never thought that I could reach the magic figure of 360," he said. Kalpit's father Pushpendra Veerwal is a nurse at the MB Government Hospital while his mother Pushpa is a government school teacher.

Kalpit had topped the Bharatiya Junior Science Olympiad in Class IX and took the top spot in the National Talent Search Examination in Class X, said his mentor Mohit Wadhwani of Resonance, Udaipur, where Kalpit was coached. -GoTop


4.  BOOK ON Haifa Released in New Zealand ON ANZAC DAY: The book 'Indian Heroism in Israel' was released by New Zealand MP Mahesh Bindra on ANZAC Day 25 April 2017 at Auckland, New Zealand. David Robinson, Honorary Consul for Israel in Auckland and Retd Brigadier Vilas Kanitkar (recipient of Param Visishta Sewa Medal) received the first copies of the book. David Robinson spoke about Bharatiyas role in Haifa war. He also mentioned that Jews lived in Bharat for 2500 years without any discrimination. Author of the book Ravi Kumar told the august audience that at least 4 New Zealand Bharatiyas and 12 Australian Bharatiyas served in the Gallipoli war in 1915 as ANZAC (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps) soldier volunteers. He also described the heroism of Jodhpur and Mysore soldiers in capturing Israel Port city of Haifa on 23 Sept 1918 and its significance in paving the way for the modern state of Israel. The program was jointly organized by Indian Association of New Zealand, Hindu Swayamsewak Sangh and Hindu Council of New Zealand. -GoTop


5.   2600 year old Bodhi tree not drying up: The Dehradun-based Forest Research Institute (FRI), which maintains heritage trees, some of the oldest with historical and religious significance, has said that the Mahabodhi tree in Bihar’s Gaya "is not in a bad shape and leafless" as widely reported in recent weeks. The institute, which signed a MoU with Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee (BTMC) in 2007 to manage the 2,600-year-old tree under which Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment, said leaf shedding is a natural phenomenon. NSK Harsh, a scientist at FRI, said, "There was a lot of talk about the Mahabodhi tree drying up. However, we clarified to members of the BTMC during their visit to Dehradun that the autumn period has prolonged due to which sprouting of leaves has somewhat delayed, which is a natural phenomenon. However, a few saplings in some branches have begun appearing on the tree, so there is nothing to worry about."

Often cited as a direct descendant of the original specimen under which Buddha attained enlightenment in the sixth century BC, the Bodhi tree came under attack at various times throughout history, with a new sapling being planted at the same site every time. In 1862, British archaeologist Sir Alexander Cunningham found it much decayed and unlikely to survive. He reportedly planted a new sapling in 1881 after the tree was reportedly destroyed by a storm in 1876. FRI also maintains the heritage tree in Jyotisar -  Kurukshetra, where Bhagwan Krishna is said to have delivered Gita sermons to Arjuna. Harsh said, "Same measures, asking devotes to keep away from the tree and doing away with marble stones around it, have helped that tree, too, to regain its health." -GoTop


6.   The temple - bursting with life: The Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple, perched along Serangoon Road, in Singapore has welcomed people from all walks of life since it first opened its doors in 1855. Bharatiya immigrants, British colonial rulers, devotees of Lord Vishnu, tourists and Singaporeans have all gathered, admiring the place of worship. At the weekends, the temple bursts into life with about 2,000 devotees gathering for prayers. During the Thaipusam festival, between January and February each year, thousands of Hindus and non-Hindus gather along Serangoon Road to watch a procession of worshippers walk 6 km from the temple to the Sri Thendayuthapani Temple in Tank Road. "About 10,000 devotees carry elaborate kavadis and milk pots, and on Thaipusam day, we get around 30,000 onlookers from friends to family and curious onlookers," said K Vellayappan, 72, chairman of the temple management committee.

The temple was built in 1855 after a group of Bharatiya community leaders purchased the land for about 26 rupees (50 cents today) from the British East India Company. When the temple was reconstructed in 1966, its chief deity was changed from the lion-headed avatar, Narasimha Perumal, to Srinivasa Perumal.  -GoTop


7.  Pak Hindus allowed to worship at Shiva temple after 20 years: Peshawar High Court on April 25 allowed Hindus to worship at a Shiva temple in Abbottabad district which had been off limits to them for 20 years. A bench of the High Court headed by Justice Ateeq Hussain Shah permitted Hindus to worship at the Shiv Jee temple of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa under section 20 of the Constitution. The temple had been closed for any religious activity over property dispute. In 2013, a Hindu NGO filed a petition with the PHC Abbottabad bench that they had purchased the property through lease by a legal owner. The petitioner pleaded that after partition of sub-continent the NGO has been looking after the temple. -GoTop


8. INDO-NEPAL RELATIONSHIP IS ANCIENT: RSS Sah Sarkaryavah Dattatreya Hosabale said the relationship between Bharat-Nepal is very ancient. He was addressing the concluding session of a two-day seminar organized jointly by Antar Rashtriya Sahayog Parishad - ARSP Bharat and Policy Research Establishment, Nepal at the Forest Research Institute (FRI), Dehradun on April 12. "We are one in cultural, social, traditions, religious and spiritual form and dharmic journey. Our religious texts and epics are one. Our civilization, historicity, bread and daughter relation are also similar. We should work together without hesitation in every field and remain strong, reliable," he said. Former Bharatiya Ambassador to Nepal Shri Ranjit Ray presided over the function. Former Army Chief of Nepal General Gaurav Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana, former Foreign Secretary of Bharat Shashank, secretary general of International Cooperation Council Shyam Parande were also present.  -GoTop


9.  PAK HINDU YOUTH SELECTED FOR PRESTIGIOUS US AWARD: A Hindu youth from Pakistan has been selected for the prestigious Emerging Young Leaders Award given by the US State Department for the positive role played by youngsters in building sustainable peace. Raj Kumar, from Pakistan, was among 10 youths from across the world who have been selected for the second edition of the 'Emerging Young Leaders Award' given by the State Department. Those selected for the award include youngsters from Malta, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Algeria, Tajikistan, Belgium, Vietnam, Peru and Israel. The young people selected for the award will visit the US for an intensive programme from April 30 to May 13, specially designed to explore their leadership capacities, strengthen their knowledge of management strategies in the non-profit, government and private sectors, learn and share best practices, and broaden their networks of resources and support. -GoTop


10.   FLORIDA JUDGE TEACHES YOGA ON COURTHOUSE LAWN: A Florida judge sometimes wears yoga clothes under her black robe. At noon on the last Friday of every month, Duval County Judge Eleni Derkie strips off the robe and heads to the front lawn of Jacksonville's courthouse where she leads a yoga class that's free to anyone who shows up. Derke has taught yoga since 2014 but says her counterparts in the legal profession aren't always the easiest converts. Courtroom bailiffs sometimes tease her, but Derke says yoga provides a few moments of peace during an otherwise stressful day. Sometimes, she's even been known to urge jurors to stretch and take deep breaths during lengthy trials. She'll continue the classes this year until the weather gets too hot. -GoTop


11. IIT KHARAGPUR TO INTRODUCE VASTU SHASTRA: The country's oldest and largest IIT will introduce the rudiments to first and second-year undergraduate architecture students this August, while those pursuing post-graduation or research scholars in infrastructure will get a detailed grounding on the subject.

The Ranbir and Chitra Gupta School of Infrastructure Design and Management (RCGSIDM) of IIT-Kharagpur held its first workshop on the subject, 'Vastu in Global Perspective' on April 16, attracting Vastu experts from across the country. "Times are changing and across the globe there is a renewed interest in ancient Indian knowledge. So, it is natural that we will tweak our syllabus to include Vastu in architecture and infrastructure classes," said Joy Sen, head of RCGSIDM and a faculty member of the architecture department. -GoTop


12.  All speeches by President, central ministers may soon be in Hindi:  Speeches by central and state government ministers could be delivered only in Hindi if the recommendations of a parliamentary panel, accepted by Rashtrapati Pranab Mukherjee recently, are implemented. The recommendations state: "All dignitaries including Hon'ble Rashtrapati and all the ministers especially who can read and speak Hindi may be requested to give their speech/statement in Hindi only.'' The committee, headed by former Union minister P Chidambaram, made these recommendations in 2011. -GoTop


13.  PIO RECOMMENDED FOR 'IP CZAR' POST: Vishal Amin's name has been sent by President Trump to the Senate for confirmation as US’s new "IP czar" to coordinate the country's law enforcement strategy around copyright, patents and trademarks. If confirmed, Amin, who is senior counsel on House Judiciary Committee, would succeed Daniel Marti. The Recording Industry Association of America welcomed his nomination. -GoTop


14.  THIS IS UNBELIEVABLE! 'YOGA' IS ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR WORDS IN BRITAIN: 'Yoga' along with words like 'Facebook' and 'Twitter' are among the top fifteen most popular words in the British society, say scientists who found that the internet age has had a massive influence on the English language. The study, by Lancaster University and Cambridge University Press in the UK, looked at the most characteristic words of informal chit-chat in today's Britain. At the end of this year they will publicly release 11 million words spanning 2012-2016. -GoTop


15. Redbridge Sikhs and Hindus celebrate Vaisakhi: Vaisakhi, also known as Baisakhi or Vaishakhi, celebrates the Sikh new year and commemorates the formation of Khalsa Panth of warriors under Guru Gobind Singh in 1699. The festival represents the start of the solar New Year and also the spring harvest. 

A number of events to mark the religious festival including a celebration at Masala 910, in Eastern Avenue, Ilford, UK were organized by the Redbridge Indian Welfare Association (RIWA) on April 19. "We held a music festival for Vaisakhi, mainly bangra music and classical songs," said REWA club secretary Vasant Mahandru. -GoTop


16. FAMINE RELIEF IN KENYA: Hindu Religious Service Centre (HRSC) Kenya volunteers travelled to distribute food hampers to families of Mwingi area in Kitui County Council on Sunday 9th April 2017.  Mwingi area is a severe drought stricken area in Kenya which has suffered a complete crop failure. A total of 3,000 food hampers were distributed on the day to earlier identified needy families. Each sealed food hamper consisted of 10 kilos of Maize flour and 5 kilos of Rice costing Kenyan Schillings 1,000. (Approx 600 Rs)  The funds for this food distribution were raised from cash and in kind donations received from many well wishers of this noble project

The food hampers were personally hand distributed by the members of HRSC and assisting volunteers to a representative of each needy family identified. The needy families had all gathered at Kyetani Secondary School which is 199 kilometers from Nairobi.

The number of food hampers from this specific famine project now totals to 5,500 food hampers. -GoTop


17. HAPLESS KIDNEY PATIENTS TURNING TO HERBAL REMEDY: EXPERTS: The number of Bharatiyas suffering from chronic kidney ailments has doubled in the past 15 years, and at present 17 in every hundred citizens suffer from some form of kidney disease, health experts have said. They said that herbal formulation prepared of punarnava plant  and other established kidney protective herbs in ayurvedic formulations have shown promising results in preventing and reducing the increased levels of kidney function parameters - serum creatinine. In this connection, Neeri KFT (NSRF), which is a blend of punarnava plant, leaves of lotus, patharchur and other key herbs, has proved to be a life saving drug for all those kidney patients who are under the regular dialysis. The positive effect of the herbal drug has been published in The Indo American Journal of Pharmaceutical Research too. -GoTop


18.  TIBETAN REFUGEES TO GET BHARATIYA PASSPORTS: Tibetan refugees born in Bharat during 1950-87 will soon be able to get Bharatiya passports. The ministry of external affairs (MEA) accepted a Delhi high court ruling from last year that had asked for Tibetan refugees to be considered Bharatiya citizens. The government informed Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva that it has accepted his September 2016 verdict that nationality of Tibetans, born in Bharat during the specific period, cannot be questioned under the Citizenship Act. The policy change came into effect from March 2017 and is expected to benefit thousands of Tibetans living in Bharat in forced exile. -GoTop


19.  RUPEE AT FRESH 21-MONTH HIGH, UP 13 PAISE: The rupee gained 13 paise to trade at fresh 21-month high of 63.98 against the dollar in early trade on April 27 at the Interbank Foreign Exchange amid sustained selling of the greenback by exporters and banks. Apart from weakness in dollar against other currencies overseas, robust foreign fund inflow supported the rupee. -GoTop


20. SHRI VISHWA NIKETAN: Pravas: Shri Ravikumar sah samyojak Vishwa Vibhag will reach Bharat after his tour to Australia, New Zealand, Singapre and Malaysia. Visitors: Mrs and Mr Harishkumar- USA, Purushottam Pandey - Mauritius

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:  Those who can control their senses can acquire the sovereinity of the whole world. - Vidura to Yudhishthira  -GoTop



Seeds of India in the rich soil of Thai magic and folklore

Maura Moynihan


Songkran derives from the Sanskrit word Samkranti, 'astrological passage', which denotes transformation.

Last week's full moon, dubbed the "Pink Purnima" by a Indian bistro in Bangkok, marked the Vernal Equinox and New Year celebrations: Vilambi in Tamil Nadu, Vaisakhi in Punjab, Bikram Sambat in Kathmandu and Songkran, Thailand's Holi. Public squares hosted water parties with live bands, overhead sprinklers, water canons and buckets, which spared neither pedestrian nor motorist. In this official year of mourning for King Bhumibol Adulyadej, many Thais replaced their traditional multicoloured floral shirts with black and white, to match the hues of king's portraits which float upon the skyline on billboards and high rises."It's a special Songkran" said a college student, spraying giddy falang tourists with a water pistol, "because it feels like the last one we'll have with King Bhumibol."

Songkran derives from the Sanskrit word Samkranti, "astrological passage", which denotes transformation. Songkran evolved from India's Makar Sankranti January harvest festival, which aligns with the Buddhist/Hindu solar calendar, thus Songkran is both an astrological passage and symbolic of the evolution of spiritual practice. Across Thailand water parties blend with ceremonial merit making: bathing Buddha images, honouring relics of ancestors, pouring water over senior relatives and monks.  The Indian embassy invited Bangkok residents to pay special New Year homage by making floral offerings and pouring water on the 9 Navagraha celestial Hindu deities enshrined at the National Museum's Samranmukhamat Pavilion for the three-day holiday.

Throughout Thailand seeds of India are seen in language, astrology, ritual and art, fertilised in the rich soil of Thai magic and folklore, refined to perfection in the Ayutthayan period, still potent in the 21st century. The Mahabharata tells of how Brahma insulted Shiva, thus Shiva cursed Brahma that his worship would die in India, and so it did, but Brahma now dwells in Thailand, alongside Lord Buddha. Bangkok has over 350 Buddhist temples, both Theravada and Mahayana. Every mall, bank, hotel and home has a shrine to Phra Phrom, Lord Brahma, whose four heads offer specific blessings and are daily worshipped with flowers, incense, fruits and candle flames. The rites and symbols of Siamese kingship evolved from ancient India, Thai government buildings are adored with red Garudas, the emblem of the Chakri Dynasty, an 800-year-old lineage established in the 12th century by the Kingdom of Sukhothai.

Thailand was fortunate to have escaped colonisation, thus its cultural and national continuity was not severed by European powers.

In the 19th century, King Mongkut and his son King Chulalonghorn saw Britain take Burma and France capture Indochina. They sent their sons to European military academies and their ambassadors to European courts, abolished slavery and polygamy, modernised infrastructure and expanded public education. In the early years of his 70-year reign, King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit made state visits to 25 countries, which greatly elevated Thailand's international stature. If you find yourself in Bangkok, go straight away to the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles in the Grand Palace to see the exhibition "Fit for a Queen" which showcases the dazzling fashions Queen Sirikit created with the French designer Pierre Balmain, a mélange of Thai textiles and French couture which kept the elegant Thai Royals in global headlines and Her Majesty at the top of the International Best Dressed List for years.

In the 20th century, King Bhumibol saved Thailand from a more vicious and catastrophic European ideology: The Communist Manifesto. When Saigon fell to the Viet Cong in 1975, King Bhumibol vowed to remain in Thailand to protect his nation.

In his first address to the Thai Parliament after his 1950 coronation, the King expressed his concern that Thailand resist incursions of Communist insurgencies from neighboring states, stating that development and education were the best defense against the totalitarian threat. Thailand's Communist insurgents launched a guerilla war against the state from 1965 to 1983, which caused many casualties, among them Princess Vibhavadi Rangsit, a renown author, senior advisor and close friend of Queen Sirikit, who was shot and killed in 1977 while delivering aid to Royal projects and visiting troops fighting Communists in southern Thailand.

The King continued to visit rural districts near Laos or Cambodia, with protection from helicopters and infantry.

The 1979 BBC documentary "Soul of a Nation" follows the King and Queen traveling to remote regions targeted by Communist rebels.

The King preferred to drive his own land rover deep into the countryside to meet with his people and supervise his royal development projects. When BBC reporter David Lomax asked King Bhumibol if he was waging war with Marxists, the king replied that he was "waging war on hunger."

The king deftly rejoined Lomax's baited question about monarchy being the past and Communism the future, stating that Communism promotes the idea of the "Top Man" whereas his Buddhist faith valued morality and universal law - Dhamma in Pali - over absolute power.

In 1980, the King sent his Prime Minister Prem Tinsulanonda to offer amnesty to the rebels, thousands defected from the party and by 1983 the insurgency came to an end.

But in Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Communist regimes inflicted slaughter, famine, annihilation of cultural and religious heritage.

The 20th century was a disaster for Buddhism, one of the world's largest religions in 1900, vanquished at midcentury by Marxist despots.

It is one of King Bhumibol's greatest legacies that he saved Thailand from the totalitarian virus, which caused the deaths of an estimated 100 million people in the 20th century.

Thai newspapers have been chronicling the construction of a grand crematorium near Bangkok's Grand Palace, where King Bhumibol's body lies in state. Brahmin priests have blessed special trees selected for the structure; over 7,000 artisans are recreating Mount Sumeru, the centre of the Buddhist cosmos, where the kings' spirit will ascend after his cremation at the end of this year. Dr Sumet Tantivejkul, secretary-general of King Bhumibol's Chaipattana Foundation said: "The late King has never really left us.. he taught us so many things during his 70-year-long reign .. let us follow in his footsteps."

The writer is an author and Tibet expert who has worked with Tibetan refugees in India for many years- THE ASIAN AGE, April 19, 2017 -GoTop


A festival that unites

M Shakhaowat Hossain


Pohela Boishakh is a celebration of our diversity

The clerics have already denounced the festival of Pohela Boishakh, Bengali New Year as a Hindu festival and they don't want others to celebrate it. They had elaborated and insisted that it is indeed a Hindu ritual with so much fervour that, as a result, many people over the years have distanced themselves from the festival.

From my own experiences, I've seen the number of participants in the festival decline over recent years. One major reason for this decline is the argument of whether the Boishakh festival is Islamic or un-Islamic.

These clerics are solely responsible for turning this vibrant cultural celebration into an un-Islamic festival.

I remember, last year, our maid told us that the Boishakh festival is a sin because one such cleric told her so. She, along with her family members, used to celebrate it, but these days, they refrain.

Not only that, the year before, I also remember how the imam of Khilgaon Taltola bazaar mosque gave a bitter sermon on a fine Friday against the Boishakh festival over loud speakers as I was passing by. These sermons are not hidden, not anymore. So he shouted: "If you go to the Boishakh festival, will you go to heaven?" A rhetorical question, right?

But all the attendees shouted in unison: "No, we will not go to heaven."

Not to forget, the Boishakh festival is the only festival in Bangladesh where people from all religions, classes, sexes participate together

Now imagine what most of the clerics have done across the country with their acrimonious sermons against an innocent cultural festival like Pohela Boishakh.

Many people are now ambivalent about Boishakh's celebrations. This ambivalence forecasts a dangerous future, because it can possibly lead to a gradual reluctance to engage in all things Pohela Boishakh - even a complete rejection of the festival is foreseeable.

Does everyone agree with the clerics? Is there not any opposition to their views?

The opposition against the clerics states that the Boishakh festival is not a Hindu festival. The opposition seems liberal; and even shows evidence from the pages of history that the Mughals, who were Muslims too, introduced the festival for the convenience of tax collection, keeping the local agricultural cycle in mind.

But what is the ground for the opposition's argument? Is its basis of argument any different from what the clerics are proclaiming - who dismiss the festival simply because they consider it Hindu?

Of the opposition's rhetoric I have the following understanding: Since Boishakh festival is not a Hindu festival, it can be celebrated.

How sad is this argument? The opposition's parameters are the same. Thus, hatred against Hindus is apparently visible among both the clerics and the opposition. Not to mention, the religious identity of the opposition also becomes clear from its own statement.

This division also penetrates the idea in the society that anything Hindu is bad.

How come, over only some centuries, Muslims have such unjustifiable resentment against Hindus?

How can they forget that all Muslims in this region were once Hindus?

Thus, the question is: How liberal are the liberals? Are they liberal at all? Are they really an opposition? They are pseudo-liberals, who will be more successful than the clerics in achieving their purpose, for the former are in disguise.

This conundrum further divides people. Even if this festival is related to Hindu customs, what is wrong in it? Borrowing from each other's cultures should show tolerance, respect, mutual understanding, and peaceful co-existence.

Thus, there is a necessity of a third party who will not differentiate based on whether a festival (or anything else) is a Hindu custom or not. The third, I hope, will celebrate diversity. Not to forget, the Boishakh festival is the only festival in Bangladesh where people from all religions, classes, sexes, etc participate - in no other festival in the country do we have such a harmonious celebration.

For good to prevail, the third party must act in time - so that the festival continues to thrive and celebrate our diversity in the long run. We must act in time, before it is too late.

The clerics are already becoming popular politically; in a few years, they might be determining policies on a massive scale.

We may keep in mind what Yeats stated in his poem: "The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity." Some people are full of enthusiasm to darken our paths to progress; they do not want any continuation of the arts and culture.

On the other hand, the others are somewhat silent, but they must act now and fight the good fight.

(M Shakhaowat Hossain is a Senior Lecturer of English literature and language at North South University. - The Dhaka Tribune, April 16, 2017) -GoTop


No comments: