I Wish You “A Happy New Year 2014!”


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Happy New Year 2014

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January 1 is probably the world’s most celebrated public holiday. In each time zone, as the new year starts at the stroke of midnight, it is invariably greeted with fireworks.

Janus, the Roman god of gates, doors, and beginnings.

Janus, the Roman god of gates, doors, and beginnings.

The first month of the year, January, is named after Janus, the Roman god who had two faces, one looking forward and the other looking backward. The Romans dedicated New Year’s Day to Janus, the god of gates, doors, and beginnings. This suggests that New Year’s celebrations are founded on pagan traditions.

The Julian calendar used in the Roman Empire since 45 BC, as well as the Gregorian calendar also called the Western calendar and the Christian calendar that refined the Julian calendar in 1582 have January 1 as the first day of the year.

Circumcision of Jesus.

Circumcision of Jesus.

Later on, January 1, the New Year’s Day, was liturgically marked the Feast of the Circumcision of Jesus in the Gregorian calendar of Christendom. The Anglican and Lutheran churches celebrate the Feast of the Circumcision of Jesus on January 1, based on the belief that if Jesus was born on December 25, then according to Jewish tradition, his circumcision would have taken place on the eighth day of his life (January 1).

The Roman Catholic Church considers New Year’s Day as a Holy Day of Obligation and celebrates the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, on this day.

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This is Communal Harmony in My Beloved India


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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United We StandTHIS IS MY BELOVED INDIA!

Et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis …

” And peace on Earth to people of good will …”

This is India - Merry Christmas!

This is India – Merry Christmas!

I came across the above fabulous photo on the internet. Do you like it? What message does it convey?

Here is a collection of photographs I came across while surfing the net. 

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The vow of Hindu-Muslim unity

Talking about communal harmony on April 8, 1919, Mahatma Gandhi said:

“If the Hindu-Muslim communities could be united in one bond of mutual friendship and if each could act towards the other as children of the same mother, it would be a consumation devoutely to be wished. But before this unity becomes a reality, both the communities will have to give up a good deal, and will have to make radical changes in ideas held herefore. Members of one community when talking about those of the other at times indulge in terms so vulgar that they but acerbate the relations between the two. In Hindu society we do not hesitate to indulge in unbecoming language when talking of the Mohomedans and vice-versa. Many believe that an ingrained and ineradicable animosity exists between the Hindus and
Mohomedans.

“When both are inspired by the spirit of sacrifice, when both try to do their duty towards one another instead of pressing their rights, then and then only would the long standing differences between the two communities cease. Each must respect the other’s religion, must refrain from even secretly thinking ill of the other. We must politely dissuade members of both communities from indulging in bad language against one another. Only a serious endeavour in this direction can remove the estrangement between us.” (25:201-202)

He made the members present take a vow as under:

“With God as witness we Hindus and Mohomedans declare that we shall behave towards one another as children of the same parents, that we shall have no differences, that the sorrows of each shall be the sorrows of the other and that each shall help the other in removing them. We shall respect each other’s religion and religious feelings and shall not stand in the way of our respective religious practices. We shall always refrain from violence to each other in the name of religion.”

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Vatican’s Saint Peter’s Cricket Club: An Initiative Aimed at Forging Ties


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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From left, Fr. Theodore Mascarenhas, Australian Ambassador John McCarthy, Msgr. Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, and Fr. Eamon O' Higgins. (AP Photo)

From left, Fr. Theodore Mascarenhas, Australian Ambassador John McCarthy, Msgr. Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, and Fr. Eamon O’ Higgins. (AP Photo)

Cricket is a game traditionally played in Rome only by anglophones, eccentric English aristocrats and immigrants from the subcontinent. However, on October 22, 2013, John McCarthy, the Australian Ambassador to The Holy See, Monsignor Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Father Eamon O’ Higgins, and Father Theodore Mascarenhas from India, met the journalists and announced the launch of Vatican’s Saint Peter’s Cricket Club.

John McCarthy QC – Ambassador to The Holy See. (Photo:- Kerry Myers)

John McCarthy QC – The Australian Ambassador to The Holy See. (Photo:- Kerry Myers)

Saint Peter’s CC is the brainchild of John McCarthy, Australian Ambassador to The Holy See. His son trained for the priesthood in Rome was frustrated by the lack of cricketing possibilities in the Vatican even though there is a significant number of people, mostly seminarians and clerics from cricket-playing countries who are keen to play cricket. McCarthy wanted something similar to the Clericus Cup – a soccer tournament among the religious colleges and seminaries of Rome.

Father Theodore Mascarenhas

Father Theodore Mascarenhas from India.

Father Theodore Mascarenhas from India, the club’s chairman, an off-spin bowler, said:

“I think cricket will begin to speak a new language — perhaps Latin, coming into the neighbourhood of the Vatican and beginning to take its first baby steps. We have the expertise. We have the will to do things. And I’m sure we’ll start with our baby steps and we’ll go far ahead. … We hope to have ecumenical dialogue through cricket and play a Church of England side by September.”

In response to a suggestion that cricketing terms and field positions might be translated into Latin or Italian, John McCarthy was firm: “English is the language of cricket and will remain the language of cricket”.

Pope Francis

Pope Francis, known for both intercultural and interfaith dialogue, is a known football enthusiast than a cricket watcher. He still supports the San Lorenzo football club of his native Buenos Aires. Father Mascarenhas said he believed the pontiff, as a “very open man”, would come to accept cricket.

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the pontifical council for culture. ( Andrew Medichini  Associated Press  March 5, 2013 )

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the pontifical council for culture. ( Andrew Medichini Associated Press March 5, 2013 )

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the pontifical council for culture, praised the launch of Vatican’s Saint Peter’s CC as a chance to celebrate the nobility of “true sport,” an “expression of inter-culturality” and a “dialogue between people”.

Ambassador McCarthy said: “It is certainly the case that the Holy Father has heard of cricket … as a sport that was played in schools conducted by his [Jesuit] order in Argentina.”

Father Eamon O’ Higgins said: “But I think this is something that goes in line with one of the objectives of Pope Francis, which is to reach out and not stay within our own security zone.”

The organizers hope this initiative for forging ties with teams of other faiths, eventually, would lead to interfaith activities involving cricket matches against teams from Buddhist, Hindu,  Muslim, and Sikh educational institutions.

To begin with, the Vatican cricketers challenged their Anglican counterparts to play cricket at Lord’s Cricket Ground in St John’s Wood, London – the home of cricket. Ambassador John McCarthy said:

“It is hoped there will be a team of sufficient level that, for instance, in the next year they could play a team nominated by the Church of England. … It would be the dearest aspiration of so many of the cricketers here that that game take place at Lord’s.”

Monsignor Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture, wears a cricket helmet. (AP Photo)

Monsignor Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture, wears a cricket helmet. (AP Photo)

Monsignor Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, was not so optimistic. He quietly said the Vatican would try to put together a team which could “lose with dignity” against the English. “I think they’re very strong,” he added.

Reverend Mark Rylands, Suffragan Bishop of Shrewsbury

Reverend Mark Rylands, Suffragan Bishop of Shrewsbury

Responding to the Vatican’s proposal, Mark Rylands, suffragan bishop of Shrewsbury and a keen cricketer, said:

“I am delighted to hear of the formation of Saint Peter’s Cricket Club and look forward to welcoming them to England as brothers. We do not have a national team at present, but I’m confident that it will be possible for an annual fixture to be played in the spirit of ecumenism. To that end I hope we can keep any sledging to a minimum and that neutral umpires will not be necessary.”

Justin Welby, the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury. (Photo courtesy Durham diocese)

Justin Welby, the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury. (Photo courtesy Durham diocese)

On December 20, 2013, the Church of England formally took up the Vatican’s challenge to settle scores on the cricket pitch almost 500 years after their split with the Vatican. Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the 80-million strong worldwide Anglican communion, accepted the challenge through his representative to The Holy See and Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, Archbishop David Moxon, from New Zealand.

Archbishop David Moxon - Anglican representative to the Holy See and Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome.

Archbishop David Moxon – Anglican representative to the Holy See and Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome.

Archbishop Moxon said the match would be held at Lord’s in September 2014 after the Anglicans formed a team of amateurs from Lambeth Palace, the residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and nearby theological schools.

When asked if a combination of sports diplomacy and inter-religious dialogue could help improve relations between the two Churches, Archbishop Moxon said:

“It will introduce a conversation piece all over the world whenever Catholics and Anglicans get together. … I think it can only do good and increase the bonds of affection we have for each other.”

Father Eamonn O’Higgins, the organizer of the Vatican cricket team, gave Archbishop Moxon the ball that will be used in the match.

A league composed of best players among priests and seminarians from countries with a cricket tradition – Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka – form the Saint Peter’s Cricket Club.

The Official emblem on the Saint Peters Cricket Club jacket. (Credit Ellis Haris - CNA)

The Official emblem on the Saint Peters Cricket Club jacket. (Credit Ellis Haris /CNA)

The Vatican team will wear the official white and gold colours of The Holy See and their jackets will have two crossed keys – the seal of the papacy,

Brother K.K. Joseph, an Indian who trained a number of future test players while they were in schools run by his religious order in India will coach the Vatican team.

A Vatican XI player during a training session at the Maria Mater Ecclesiae's Catholic College in Rome. (Photo: Reuters)

A Vatican XI player during a training session at the Maria Mater Ecclesiae’s Catholic College in Rome. (Photo: Reuters)

Saint Peter’s CC has already organized trial matches. It aims to have a Twenty20-style tournament between all the pontifical colleges of Rome. A pitch near Ciampino airport on the outskirts of the city has been made available.

While Saint Peter’s CC is currently men only, the organizers are also on the lookout for Indian, Pakistani or Sri Lankan nuns, who have played cricket before, in order to form a women’s cricket team.

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A Short Biography of Hank Williams, Sr., Who Sang “30 pieces of silver, 30 shekels of shame”


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Then one of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?”

They paid him thirty pieces of silver, and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.  (Matthew 26:14-16)

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Hank Williams Sr

Hank Williams Sr

Hiram Hank Williams Sr., an American singer-songwriter and musician is considered one of the greatest American country music artist of all time. He was country music’s first superstar with songs like “Cold, Cold Heart,” “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” “Hey, Good Lookin’,” “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive,” “30 Pieces of Silver” etc.

Hank’s father, Elonzo Huble Williams worked as an engineer for the railroads of the W.T. Smith Lumber Company and was frequently relocated, and the family lived in many southern Alabama towns. Drafted during the First World War, he was severely injured after falling from a truck, breaking his collarbone and sustaining a severe hit to the head. He served for one year from July 1918 until June 1919.

After his return, the family’s first child, Irene, was born on August 8, 1922. His second child, a son, died shortly after birth. Hiram King Williams, the third child, was born on September 17, 1923, in Mount Olive, Butler County, Alabama. Since Elonzo was a Free Mason, and his wife a member of Order of the Eastern Star they named him after Hiram I of Tyre, one of the three founders of the Masons according to Masonic legend.

Hank was born with spina bifida occulta, a disorder of the spinal column, which gave him lifelong pain. Due to this spinal condition he felt separated from other kids his age and the world around him. This pain he endured was the main cause for his abuse of alcohol and drugs in later years.

In 1930, when Williams was seven years old, his father was afflicted with facial paralysis. At a Veterans Affairs (VA) clinic in Pensacola, Florida, doctors diagnosed the cause as brain aneurysm. They sent Elonzo to the VA Medical Center in Alexandria, Louisiana where he remained hospitalized for eight years. Hank saw his father rarely throughout Hank’s childhood.

Since Elonzo Williams was bedridden, his wife Lillie assumed responsibility for the family. In the fall of 1934 she moved the family to Greenville, Alabama, where she
opened a boarding house.

Hank Williams loved the music broadcast over radio and the hymns sung by the church choir. He learned to sing folk and country music. His mother presented him his first guitar. It cost her $3.50 which she paid fifty cents a month. Young Hank, determined to play the guitar, contributed to the cost with the money he made as a shoeshiner and selling peanuts on the street.

Rufus (Tee Tot) Payne

In 1935, when Hank was about 12 years old, he met Rufus (Tee Tot) Payne, an African-American hillbilly blues musician in Greenville, who entertained folks on the street corners with his guitar to earn a few coins. Their relationship became a legend.

Locals called Rufus Payne by his nickname ‘Tee Tot ‘, short for teetotaler, but it more likely had to do with the ‘tea’, a blend of home-brew whiskey and tea that he always had in his flask.

Rufus worked part-time for at Peagler’s Drug Store doing odd jobs such as cleaning or delivery. He spent his spare time playing music with two others for anyone that would listen and toss a few coins. When asked, he would play at local dances.

A determined Hank approached Rufus Payne to teach him to play the guitar. Rufus taught Hank more than just the guitar. From him Hank learned how to draw a crowd and entertain them and keep them happy. Since a street singer does not have a captive audience, Rufus taught him how to grab the attention of the crowd with a style and delivery that would make them want to stop, listen to a couple of songs or three, and drop a few coins in appreciation.

Jay Caress writes that Hank Williams was “…too frail for sports, too smart for farming, too poor for politics and still a bit too young for girls, performing with Tee Tot was the challenge of his young life.”

Rufus visited Hank mom’s kitchen frequently. She fed him in exchange for her sons tutelage. Hank while talking to jazz journalist Ralph J. Gleason said, “I learned to play the guitar from an old colored man. …I’d give him 15 cents, or whatever I could get a hold of for the lesson.”

Hank Williams and Rufus Payne were so much attached to each other, and the locals called them the “Greenville Troubadours.” The merchants of Greenville invited them to perform in front of their stores. It was during this time that Williams informally changed his name to Hank, believing it to be a better name for country music.

Colin Escott in his book “Hank Williams The Biography” cites the Montgomery Advertiser article from 1951 that said that Hank always gave credit to Rufus Payne: “All the musical training I ever had was from him.”

After some time, the Williams family moved to Georgiana, Alabama, where Lillie worked in a cannery during the day and served as a night-shift nurse in the local hospital to support the family during the Great Depression.

After leaving Greenville in 1937 for Montgomery, Alabama, Hank did not keep in touch with his Rufus Payne, his mentor. Not much is known about Rufus Payne’s life after Hank left.

Rufus Payne Epitaph

Rufus Payne Epitaph

On March 17, 1939, Rufus Payne died in a ‘charity hospital’, and was buried in Lincoln Cemetery in Montgomery, Alabama. No one knew and could tell Hank he had died. Rufus was about 55 at the time of his death. In his lifetime Rufus Payne remained largely unknown outside southern Alabama.

During the early 1950s it was unfashionable to acknowledge the influence of black musicians. However, in 1951 during a homecoming tribute held for him at Greenville, Hank Williams acknowledged Rufus Payne and gave him full credit for his formative years.

Hank’s music career began there in 1937 in Montgomery when WSFA radio station producers hired him to perform and host a 15-minute program. He formed his own band, the Drifting Cowboys. His mother managed the band. Hank dropped out of school to devote full-time to his career. Lilee drove her son and his band to shows throughout southern Alabama.

During World War II, when several of Hank’s band members were conscripted into military service, he had trouble with their replacements. During this period Hank became an alcoholic and eventually WSFA dismissed him due to his alcoholism.

In 1943, Hank met Audrey Mae Sheppard, joined Hank’s band and under his guidance she played bass. She had got separated from her husband recently and had a young daughter. On December 15, 1944, Hank and Audrey got married. In 1949 they had a son together, Hank Williams Jr. On July 10, 1952 their divorce was finalized.

Hank traveled to Nashville in 1946 and met music publisher Fred Rose and the Acuff-Rose Publications company. Hank wrote material for singer Molly O’Day which led
to a record contract with the recently created MGM label. A year later Hank Williams had his first hit, “Move It On Over.” In April 1948 he scored a second Billboard
success “Honky Tonkin” with Sterling Records.

Along with this early success Hank’s behaviour became erratic. He often showed up at live performances drunk. Later he became a regular on the “Louisiana Hayride,”
a regular Saturday night performance hosted by a radio station in Shreveport. His performance on this show greatly increased his popularity. In 1949, the release of
“Lovesick Blues,” carried him into the mainstream of music.

Hank Williams died suddenly of a heart attack in the back seat of his Cadillac in the early morning hours of New Years Day in 1953 (January 1, 1953) at the age of 29.

Hank Williams Memorial

Hank Williams Memorial

Despite his short life, Williams has had a major influence on country music. In all, Hank Williams recorded 35 singles. Of these, 11 songs ranked number one in the Billboard Country&Western Best Sellers chart. Five of the 35 songs were released posthumously. He earned a place in the Country Music Hall of Fame.

In 2010, 57 years after his death, the Pulitzer Board awarded Williams a special citation for song writing.

I am an ardent fan of Hank Williams, Sr. His song “30 Pieces Of Silver” is one of my favourites. I created the following video clip using this song as a tribute to Hiram Hank Williams Sr.

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Lyrics – 30 Pieces of Silver by Hank Williams, Sr.

Tis’ a sad but true story
From the Bible it came
And it tells us how Judas
Sold the Savior in shame

He planned with the council
Of high priest that day
30 pieces of silver
Was the price they would pay

30 pieces of silver
30 shekels of shame
Was the price paid for Jesus
On the cross He was slain

Betrayed and forsaken
Unloved and unclaimed
In anger they pierced Him
But He died not in vein

‘Twas on there on the hillside
The multitude came
And found our dear Savior
Then took Him away

They bruised and they mocked Him
Thorns was crowned around His head
And His garment of purple
Showed the blood stains of red

Far off in the mountains
With his face towards the sun
Judas begged mercy
For what he had done

He gave back the silver
For his heart filled with strife
Then there in the mountain
He took his own life

30 pieces of silver
30 shekels of shame
Was the price paid for Jesus
On the cross He was slain

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Spoof: Part 2 – Rape Festival In Assam, India


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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On November 2, 2013, the American news satire website NATIONAL REPORT who claim and label themselves as “America’s #1 Independent News Team” is better known for pushing the boundaries of good taste than making its readers laugh.

This website, posted the article titled “The Punjab Rape Festival In India Begins This Week,” that appeared earlier on January 8, 2013, in SUPER OFFICIAL NEWS. The article was copied word-for-word. The only change was in the title – the Indian state “Assam” was substituted in lieu of “Punjab” to read: “The Assam Rape Festival In India Begins This Week.

The Assam Rape Festival In India Begins This Week

The article claiming a non-existent, wishful (in the mind of the author) vulgar event taking place in India was a spoof by a person writing under the pseudonym Jimmy Rustling.

Jimmy Rustling

The social media was abuzz with reactions to the article. So far, it has been shared more than 312,000 times on Facebook and around 3,000 times on Twitter. It has besmirched the image of Assam and has sparked widespread protests in the state.

The article does not display any disclaimer saying it is a spoof. However, there is a general Disclaimer page on the NATIONAL REPORT website:

DISCLAIMER: National Report is a news and political satire web publication, which may or may not use real names, often in semi-real or mostly fictitious ways. All news articles contained within National Report are fiction, and presumably fake news. Any resemblance to the truth is purely coincidental . The views expressed by writers on this site are theirs alone and are not reflective of the fine journalistic and editorial integrity of National Report. Advice given is NOT to be construed as professional. If you are in need of professional help (and you may be if you are on this page), please consult a professional. National Report is intended for a mature audience and not for children under the age of 18.

Linked to the “Rape Festival” articles in SUPER OFFICIAL NEWS and NATIONAL REPORT is a common website Giveindia.org that looks like a genuine Indian website seeking donations for the welfare of Indian women.

At the end of the article there is the following statement:

For more information about the festival or if you would like to participate, please call the 24-hour India Rape Festival hotline at (785) 273-0325.

Fred Waldron Phelps, Sr.

Fred Waldron Phelps, Sr.

I googled and found that the given hot line number (785) 273-0325 belongs to Fred W. Phelps Sr., an American pastor heading the Westboro Baptist Church, an independent Baptist church based in Topeka, Kansas in 1955. Address: Westboro Baptist Church, Address: 3701 SW 12th St, Topeka, KS 66604, United States.

According to Phelps, basically everyone, who isn’t a part of their “religion” and “church” is doomed and will go to hell.

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Phelps’ group protests all over the United States at Gay funerals and Soldiers funerals. The first Amendment under the U.S. Constitution protects them to do these despicable hate acts.

Although the  “church” started as only hating “fags” they have now moved on to hate Australians, Canadians, Jews, Swedish, and even the Amish. To picket hey use signs such as: “God Hates Fags“, “Fags Hate God“, “America Is Doomed“, “Soldiers Die God Laughs“, “Thank God for 9/11“, etc.

Many people in USA, India and other countries believed in the contents of the article as a true fact even though no such festival exists or existed in any part of India, and the article is widely shared even now via social media. It has been blindly copied and posted in sundry websites around the world without verifying the facts, thereby tarnishing the image of India.

Here is an example of this spurious, apocryphal copying:

The Assam Rape Festival In India Begins This Week - news.ugo.co.ug

On November 6, 2013, Patricia Kahill, posted the article verbatim without verifying facts in UGOnews with the following introduction:

Reports from National Report say that this week in Indian men readied themselves to begin celebrating the annual Assam Rape festival. This festival sees that every unmarried girl between the age of 7-16 who has not been hidden is raped. (sic)

This article published in UGOnews evoked many scathing comments. I have reproduced some of them here:

Prashant Moni · Textiles
It is very sad that some mentally sick peoples are publishing the scenario of a region in a very bad manner. To be make clear that there is NO ANY SUCH FESTIVAL in Assam or even in any other region in India. This is nothing but an output of mentally sick person (s). (sic)

Rajeev Gohain · J.B College, Jorhat
What a rubbish story. The picture is from a festival from Uttar Pradesh, Tamilnadu is lakhs km far. The names are not assamese. The creator of this story is that the psychic who is dreaming about this type of festival , so that he also can go and participate it.. I am requesting to whole the world not to believe this type of fake story, but come and enjoy a beautiful green Assam famous for One horned Rhino and Tea.

Ashish Das · Online Entrepreneur and Blogger
Stupid website… research before publishing.

Manashwi Sharma · Student
This is absolutely NOT TRUE. There is no such freaking festival celebrated in Assam or in any part of India. I Request everyone NOT TO BELIEVE whatever is written on this website. This is totally a FALSE NEWS.

Prasanta Dutta · Guwahati College
I am from Assam and 33 year’s old, Its a is totally a Stupid news. Women is always respected in Assam more than other part of the world. (sic)

Sukanya Goswami · Dibrugarh University
this is unacceptable!!! shame on your mentality!!! u people published such a wrong thing about a region without knowing any thing!!! shame on u!!!! go and research before doing such stupid things!!!! u people dont knw any thing ,never heard about assam and but ready to publish nonsense about it!!! stupid website!!!! (sic)

Shreeja V Shetty · Software Tester at GlowTouch Technologies
Well this news is surely not true. India is a lovely country. But action should be taken on the one who wrote this! So that nobody repeats such nonsense again!

Lekha Borah · Works at Working as a Freelance Photographer
Want to make it clear that there is no this kind of \\”DIRTY FESTIVAL IN ASSAM”// or in INDIA. This is nothing but a fake RUMOUR of some mentally sick persons.Very sad and very shameful thing happened made by psycho people. (sic)

Slickèr Qalie Ndlovu · Member, Organisation of African Youth (Zimbabwe)
people stop lying please (sic)

On November 12, 2013, Patricia Kahill posted another article in UGOnews titled “The Controversial Assam Rape Festival” in which she says:

Last week we reported about the Assam rape festival a controversial and satire story that was first published by National Report a USA based website, lead to a number of comments on our site from the Indian community.

According to Lets Gist the point of the story was activism, to educate people about what is going on  in India on a daily basis, because a lot of people don’t know.

Hindustan Times received a statement from Tarun Gogoi, Chief Minister of Assam immediately that said:

“the fraudulent and extremely unethical article about the completely fictitious festival is an act of serious disrespect and total disregard shown towards the humble and unsuspecting people of our beautiful state of Assam. The writer of such a piece of pure evil is not fit for human society.”

Bharat Narah, press adviser to Gogoi, told Gulf News:

The Assam Rape Festival article is not at all humorous. It is distasteful, unethical, abominable, despicable and must be abhorred by all sections of society. We have taken up a suo moto case against the website and the author of the piece. It is a highly sensitive matter which cannot be ignored. We are assessing all our options and are in touch with the Cyber Cell of the Police Department.

Regardless of race, culture, or nationality, any decent and moral person should be offended by this filth. Media plays a very critical role in forming opinions. If media will start acting so naively, then the responsibility of spreading information through media should be taken away. We Indians know that this news is totally fake but people in other parts of the world are getting the wrong message about our nation. This mischief by the media should be dealt with very strictly.

The repercussion generated by the “Assam Rape Festival ” article prompted the Indian response in the form of an article titled “The Great American Mass Shooting Festival Begins Next Week (Response from India)”  written by Allen Montgomery, a board member of NATIONAL REPORT.

However, the comment by Nancy Powell, US ambassador to India, when she addressed the students of Xavier Institute of Social Science (XISS) in Ranchi, on November 19, 2013, is an epiphany for the state of affairs now prevailing in India.

When a student asked: “Why aren’t American students coming to India for studies?

She replied: “The concern for personal security and perceived increased danger to women as a result of the rape cases was perhaps a factor in US students’ decision regarding study in India.”

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← Previous Spoof: Part 1 – Rape Festival In Punjab, India

Spoof: Part 1 – Rape Festival In Punjab, India


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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On January 8, 2013, an American website SUPER OFFICIAL NEWS posted an article titled: “The Punjab Rape Festival In India Begins This Week,” written by a person using the pseudonym ‘Jimmy Rustling‘.

The Punjab Rape Festival In India Begins This Week

Since January 2013, this article, camouflaged as a news item, circulated through blogs, email, and social media. Its claim that the tradition of the Punjab Rape Festival dates back to 43 BC is utter nonsense. Factually, there is no such event as the Punjab Rape Festival. The story was simply concocted by the psychotic Jimmy Rustling.

This obviously false story caused a great deal of apprehension and dismay after it spread through the media. Not realizing that there is no such event and never ever was, many decried the imaginary event and wanted it stopped.

Here is an example of one such silly call titled “HELP ME STOP’The Punjabi Rape Festival in India by Neil Padayachee posted on January 16, 2013.

'HELP ME STOP'The Punjabi Rape Festival in India

The comments for the post “The Punjab Rape Festival In India Begins This Week  show that the average follower of SUPER OFFICIAL NEWS  is an ignoramus who could be manipulated to believe any unauthenticated absurd news, as he would when he reads the religious scriptures, mainly because it is in print. 

As usual, pranksters too joined in and added fuel by defending the festival and stating they were looking forward to participating in the hypothetical event.

Here are some sample comments for the post:

Sarah HThis is so messed up! I demand justice!

M ShelatI agree. Something needs to be done to stop this!

Mark Dauglas ZnenitzI would go to this festival. Probably not participate but I would go

Eva Monreli: They are not even considering that one can get viral diseases (Like AIDS)from these people. This should be stopped!

Holly Marys: I have many many many MANY demons in me that need uncorking. May I, as an American and not Punjabi, participate so that I may perhaps be rid of my demons once and for all?

Catherine: Sick people! This is 2013 for God’s sake. Stop these archaic Men form doing injustice to the girl child.

Naga sadhus who had gathered at the Allahabad Maha Kumbh Mela 2013.

Naga sadhus who had gathered at the Allahabad Maha Kumbh Mela 2013.

The above photo of Naga sadhus at the Kumbh mela was used along with the ‘rape festival’ story. This photo of Naga sadhus gathered at the Allahabad Maha Kumbh Mela 2013, deceives readers into believing that the Hindu sadhus were rushing to rape unmarried girls in the age group 7 to 16 years.

Sharell Cook

Sharell Cook

Sharell Cook, an Australian traveller researching distinctive cultures from her early 20s, initially visited India in the year 2000 and found it a total assault on her senses, confronting, but then oddly inspiring and captivating. Even today, this impression about India has not changed. Even now, Sharell is residing in cosmopolitan Mumbai where she writes full-time while learning Hindi. This is her impression about the Allahabad Maha Kumbh Mela:

The Kumbh Mela in India is as mesmerizing as it is spiritual. This ancient northern Indian festival is a meeting of mystical minds. The largest religious gathering in the world, the Kumbh Mela brings Hindu holy men together to discuss their faith and disseminate information about their religion. It’s attended by millions of people each day.”

Many Indians living in the United States called for the removal of the article from the website and wanted authorities to take punitive action against the author and the website that published it.

In late January 2013, the writer responding to the angry calls posted the following message on his Facebook Page:

Paul Horner alias Jimmy Rustling

Paul Horner alias Jimmy Rustling

I’ve been getting emails from people saying that I should remove my story entitled, “The Punjab Rape Festival In India Begins This Week.”

The point of the story was an activism piece to educate people about what is going on over there on a daily basis, because a lot of people don’t know. I read everything I can get my hands on and every day there’s another story about another horrible rape or murder of a young girl in India…. usually where the guy gets off, not being punished, or worse, where the victim is forced to marry her attacker.

So I wrote up the most exaggerated, ridiculous thing I could think of… it gets people to pass around the story and then question what’s going on over there if they didn’t already know. A simple Google search of “Punjab rape” brings up 100+ different stories of young girls getting raped, murdered, forced to marry the man who raped them… it’s disgusting.

Anyway, that’s the point of the story and I’m not pulling the article.

In an email to hoax-slayer.com the author wrote:

One of the other MAJOR factors for doing the story was collecting money for the women of India for schooling, clothes, help in leaving abusive situations. So, a few months ago I added this to the bottom of the story:

WANT TO HELP THE WOMEN IN INDIA? THEN DO SOMETHING!
Click here to learn more.

I checked out that charity thoroughly. They are 100% legit giving 90-95% of collected funds to the cause.

To keep the controversial “Rape Festival” spark alive, SUPER OFFICIAL NEWS on May 7, 2013, posted yet another spoof story in bad taste written by Jimmy Rustling titled: “Surprise Winner At This Years Punjab Rape Festival.

Surprise Winner At This Years Punjab Rape Festival

Once again the stupid readers of this post came out with absurdities:

Sarah H: They give awards to men in India for raping woman? WOW.

Samantha: This is just disgusting! They don’t arrest them for rape but they give them awards??? SOMETHING NEEDS TO BE DONE ABOUT THIS!

Lena: Govt must come forward to support RAPE FESTIVAL. This is the only world class entertainment ,where every one love to participate. Tourist visits to India ,will generate collosal amount for the nation. Allow everyone to participate,give them FREE CHANCE to win award. GOVT must provide FREE VISA Access. Let people of the world to enjoy and feel free to taste of RAPE. RAPE reduces heat,its good for health and for the growth of man kind. C.M needs to be changed,since he wants to snatch this freedom from people of punjab, which is against the will of the nation. Democracy in India should not tarnished at any cost.

Readers of SUPER OFFICIAL NEWS made these comments despite the following image posted proudly on its site on the page “Super Official Awards.”

Fox News Called Super Official News A 'Fake News Site'

The name Jim Rustling is the pseudonym of an author named Paul Horner, a Staff Writer for NATIONAL REPORT who claims to have won numerous awards for journalism including a Peabody Award and a Pulitzer Prize.

How authentic are the writings of Jimmy Rustling a.k.a. Paul Horner?

You will find the answer if you read the article titled “President Obama Presents Paul Horner With Super Universe Ultimate Award For Excellence In Winning The Game” posted on November 5, 2012 in SUPER OFFICIAL NEWS.

I understand that  “Fred Dursk” is another pseudonym of Paul Horner. Now, I wonder how many other pseudonyms this person has, and whether the name “Paul Horner” itself is real, or is it another pseudonym of some other person hiding behind these names.

A disclaimer right at the bottom of the posts in SUPER OFFICIAL NEWS reads as follows:

Disclaimer: Lulz killing of any kind will not be tolerated. If you are being a buzzkill, your comment can be altered or deleted. This entire site is pretty much just a resume containing a collection of my writings and such for the off chance that someone like The Onion or The Daily Show ever happens to stop by. Until then just remember, if it’s on the internet it must be true.

To be continued …

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Deepavali: The Festival of Lights


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Glow of joy! Women lighting traditional lamps on the eve of Deepavali (Photo:  K.C. Sowmish)

Glow of joy! Women lighting traditional lamps on the eve of Deepavali (Photo: K.C. Sowmish)

The people in India, belonging to culturally diverse and fervent societies celebrate various holidays and festivals. The different states and regions in India have their own local festivals depending on prevailing religious and linguistic demographics.

Deepavali (also known as Diwali, Dīvali, Dīpāwali, Dipabali, etc.,), is one of the most sacred festivals of the Hindus.

Deepavali is a “festival of lights,” symbolizing the victory of righteousness over spiritual darkness. All over the world, the Hindus celebrate Deepavali jubilantly with their families in their homes, performing traditional spiritual activities. In India, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia, people belonging to other religions as well join the Hindus in the celebrations.

Goddess Lakshmi is the most significant deity during Deepavali Puja. Several other gods and goddesses are also worshipped. Various religious rituals are followed during the five-day festivities.

Deepavali is celebrated as a five-day festivity that starts on Dhanteras, celebrated on the thirteenth lunar day of Krishna paksha (dark fortnight) of Ashwin and ends on Bhau-Beej, celebrated on the second lunar day of Shukla paksha of the Hindu calendar month Kartik. However, in the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat, the Deepavali festivity begins one day earlier on Govatsa Dwadashi, and is a six-day festivity.

The month of Ashvin begins with the Sun’s exit from Virgo in the solar religious calendar. In the Sanskrit language ‘Ashvin’ means light. It is the seventh month of the lunisolar Hindu calendar.

In many cultures, people use the lunisolar calendar where the date indicates both the moon phase and the time of the solar year.

In the Tamil sidereal solar calendar, used by Tamils all over the world, Ashvin is known as Aipassi (ஐப்பசி). In the Bengali sidereal solar calendar, officially used by the Bengali people in West Bengal and Bangladesh, it is the sixth month and is called Ashbin (আশ্বিন).

The Five/Six Days of Deepavali

Deepavali celebrations is a five-day festivity spread over from Dhanteras to Bhau-Beej. In some places like Maharashtra and Gujarat the celebrations begin with Govatsa Dwadashi. All the days except Deepavali are named according to their designation in the Hindu calendar. The days are:

Govatsa Dwadashi or Vasu Baras (27 Ashvin or 12 Krishna Paksha Ashvin):

In Sanskrit, Go means cow and vatsa means calf, Dwadashi or Baras means the 12th day. On this day the cow and calf are worshiped.

King Prithu chasing Prithvi.

King Prithu chasing Prithvi.

According to Hindu mythology, Prithu was a king, from whom the earth received her name Prithvi. The epic Mahabharata and the Hindu text Vishnu Purana describe him as a part Avatar (incarnation) of Vishnu.

Prithu was the son of King Vena, a tyrant. Due to the lawless rule of Vena, an appalling famine engulfed the earth making it barren. King Prithu went after Prithvi, the earth goddess, who fled from him transforming herself into a cow. After being caught, Prithvi agreed to yield her milk as the world’s grain and vegetation that brought prosperity to the world once again.

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Dhanatrayodashi or Dhanteras or Dhanwantari Trayodashi (28 Ashvin or 13 Krishna Paksha Ashvin):

In Sanskrit, Dhana means wealth and Trayodashi means 13th day. This day falls on the 13th day of the second half of the lunar month Ashvin, and usually eighteen days after Dussehra.

Dhanventari,  physician of the  devas, and god of  Ayurvedic Medicine.

Dhanventari, physician of the Devas, and god of Ayurvedic Medicine.

According to Hindu mythology, Dhanvantari is an Avatar of Vishnu. He appears in the Vedas and Puranas as the physician of the gods devas, and is the god of Ayurvedic medicine. He is depicted as Vishnu with four hands, holding medical herbs in one hand and a pot containing rejuvenating nectar called amrita in another.

In the myth of the Samudra or Sagar manthan (Churning of the Ocean of Milk), Dhanavantari emerged bearing the pot of nectar after the Devas (demi gods) and Asssuras (demons) churned the ‘Ocean of Milk’ using the Mount Mandarachala, also known as Mount Meru, as the churning rod and Vasuki, the king of serpents, as the rope.

The Hindus pray to Lord Dhanvantari seeking his blessings for good health for themselves and others, especially on Dhanteras, his Jayanti (Birth Anniversary), along with Goddess Lakshmi, the provider of prosperity and well-being.

Lakshmi and Kuberan

Lakshmi and Kuberan (Source: amritsartemples.in)

Lord Kubera, the God of assets and wealth is also worshiped on this day by the Hindus. Dhanteras is very significant among business communities since it is customary to buy precious metals on this day.

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Naraka Chaturdashi (29 Ashvin or 14 Krishna Paksha Ashvin):

Chaturdashi is the 14th day (Tithi) of the waxing phase or waning phase of the moon.

This day signifies the victory of good over evil and light over darkness, because on this day the demon Narakasura was killed by Krishna, an incarnation of Vishnu. . This day is also known as Kali Chaudas, Roop Chaudas or Choti Diwali.

In one source in Hindu mythology, Narakasura is the asura son of the earth goddess Bhūmī-Devī (Earth) and Lord Vishnu in his Varaha (boar) Avatar. In other sources, he is said to the son of the asura Hiranyaksha. It was foretold that he would be destroyed by a later incarnation of Vishnu. So, his mother, the earth, sought a boon from her consort Vishnu for a long life for her son, and that he should be all powerful. Vishnu out of love for Bhūmī-Devī granted these boons.

Narakasura, knowing himself to be unrivalled in prowess became evil, and subdued all the kingdoms on earth and brought them under his control. Next, he set his eyes on Swargaloka (the heavens), the abode of the devas. Unable to withstand the powers of Narakasura, the mighty Indra, the lord of the devas, fled from Swargaloka. Narakasura became the overlord of both the heavens and earth. Intoxicated by power, he stole the earrings of Aditi, the heavenly mother goddess, and usurped some of her territory, while also kidnapping 16,000 women.

The devas, led by Indra appealed to Vishnu, asking him to deliver them from Narakasura. Vishnu promised them that he would help them when he would be incarnated as Krishna.

Narakasura was allowed to enjoy a long reign because of the boon granted by Vishnu.

When Vishnu incarnated as Krishna, he married Satyabhama, an Avatar of Bhūmī-Devī. Aditi, being a relative of Krishna’s wife approached her for help. On learning about Narakasura’s ill treatment of women and his behaviour with Aditi, Satyabhama was enraged. Shr approached Lord Krishna for permission to wage a war against Narakasura.

As promised to the Devas and Aditi, Vishnu in his Krishna avatar, riding his mount Garuda with wife Satyabhama, attacked the great fortress of Narakasura. The battle was fierce. Narakasura unleashed all his army on Krishna. However, Krishna slew them all. He also killed Mura, Narakasura’s general. Thus, Krishna is called ‘Murāri ‘(the enemy of Mura).

Krishna and Narakasura

Krishna hurling the Sudarshana Chakra.

The desperate Narakasura launched his great weapon, sataghini, a thunderbolt, and then his trident on Krishna, but these weapons did not harm Krishna. Eventually, Krishna beheaded Narakasura with his Sudarshana Chakra, a spinning, disk-like super weapon with 108 serrated edges.

Before dying, Narakasura requested a boon that his death anniversary should be celebrated by all people on earth. This day is celebrated as ‘Naraka Chaturdashi’.

In southern India, this is the actual day of festivities.

On this day, the Hindus, all over the world, wake up before dawn, have a fragrant oil bath and dress in new clothes. In Tamilnadu, after the bath, a home-made medicine known as “Deepavali Lehiyam” is consumed, which is supposed to aid to overcome digestive problems that may ensue due to feasting that occurs later in the day. They light small lamps around their homes and draw elaborate kolams or rangolis in front of their houses. They perform a special pooja with offerings to Krishna or Vishnu, for liberating the world from the demon Narakasura on this day. The Hindus believe that bathing before sunrise, when the stars are still visible in the sky, is equal to taking a bath in the holy river Ganges. After the pooja, the devotees burst firecrackers heralding the defeat of the demon. As a day of rejoicing, housewives prepare elaborate breakfasts and lunches and meet with family and friends.

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Lakshmi Puja (30 Ashvin or 15 Krishna Paksha Ashvin):

Amavasya, the new moon day, is the most significant day among the five days Deepavali festivities and the ceremonies followed on that day are known as Lakshmi Puja, Lakshmi-Ganesh Puja and Deepavali Puja. The Hindus worship Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, and Ganesh, the God of auspicious beginnings also known as the banisher of obstacles.

Deeyas

Deeyas (little clay pots) are lit in the homes and streets to welcome prosperity and well-being.

On this day, ink bottle, pens and new account books are worshipped. Ink bottle and pen, are sanctified by worshipping Goddess Maha Kali. New account books are sanctified by worshipping Goddess Saraswati.

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Govardhan Pooja and Bali Pratipada (1 Kartika or 1 Shukla Paksha Kartika):

In North India, this day is celebrated as Govardhan pooja, also called Annakoot.

Krishna holding Govardhan Hill to save his people.

Krishna holding Govardhan Hill to save his people.

According to Hindu mythology, Lord Krishna taught people to worship Govardhan, the supreme controller of nature, a manifestation of himself and to stop worshiping Lord Indra, the Lord of Swargaloga and also the god of Rains. Indra was furious and directed his wrath on the people by raining on them. Krishna lifted the Govardhana hill to save his kinsmen and cattle from rain and floods.

For Annakoot, large quantities of food are decorated symbolising the Govardhan hill lifted by Krishna.

In the states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the Govardhan pooja is performed with great zeal and enthusiasm.

In Haryana Govardhan Puja forms an important part of the celebrations of Diwali. There is a tradition of building hillocks with cow dung, to symbolize the Govardhan hill. After making such hillocks, devotees worship them after decorating them with flowers. They move in a circle round the cow dung hillocks and offer prayers to Lord Govardhan.

In Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, this day is celebrated as Bali-Pratipada or Bali Padyami. The day commemorates the victory of Vishnu, in his dwarf form Vamana, over the demon-king Bali.

In Maharashtra, it is called Padava or Nava Diwas (new day). Men present gifts to their wives on this day. In Gujarat, it is celebrated as the first day of the Vikram Samvat calendar.

Yama Dwitiya or Bhau-Beej (2 Kartika or 2 Shukla Paksha Kartika):

On this day, siblings meet to express love and affection for each other. Brothers visit their sisters’ place on this day and usually have a meal there, and also give gifts to their sisters.

Bhau-Beej - Sibling meeting each other on this day.

Bhau-Beej – Siblings meeting each other on this day.

This tradition is based on a story when Yama, lord of Death, visited his sister Yami (the river Yamuna). Yami welcomed Yama with an Aarti and they had a feast together. Yama gave a gift to Yami while leaving as a token of his appreciation. So, the day is also called ‘Yama Dwitiya’.

Bandi Chhor Divas (Diwali), the Sikh celebration of the sixth Nanak Guru Har Gobind’s return from detention in the Gwalior Fort, coincides with Diwali. This coincidence has resulted in celebrating the day among many Sikhs and Hindus.

Many Buddhists in India celebrated the anniversary of Emperor Ashoka’s conversion to Buddhism around the time of Diwali.

Jains celebrate the anniversary of Mahavira’s (or Lord Mahavir) attainment of nirvana on October 15, 527 BC. Many Jains celebrate the Festival of Lights in his honor.

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The Sinhalese Too Migrated to Sri Lanka from India: Prelude


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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Sri Lanka has had a continuous record of human settlement for more than two millennia, and its civilization has been shaped largely by that of the Indian subcontinent. The island’s two major ethnic groups, the Sinhalese and the Tamils, and its two dominant religions, Buddhism and Hinduism, made their way to the island from India, and Indian influence pervaded such diverse fields as art, architecture, literature, music, medicine, and astronomy. – Encyclopaedia Britannica (Sri Lanka)

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Sri Lanka, also known as India's Teardrop and the Pearl of the Indian Ocean, is an extension of peninsular India that got separated from the mainland.

Sri Lanka, also known as India’s Teardrop and the Pearl of the Indian Ocean, is an extension of peninsular India that got separated from the mainland.

Geologically, Sri Lanka, also known as India’s Teardrop and the Pearl of the Indian Ocean, is an extension of peninsular India that got separated from the mainland. In consequence, the ancestors of almost all the communities now living in Sri Lanka migrated to the island at some time in the past from India. Scholars agree that the two major communities who now call themselves Sinhalese and Tamils migrated to Sri Lanka from India.

According to history, the Sri Lankan population of the past was not divided in to two major races as Sinhalese and Tamils. In the past, in the two native languages Sinhala and Tamil, the word ‘Jathi‘ did not mean race but caste.

It was only in the 19th century, during the British period, consolidation of the population into two major races as Sinhalese and Tamils came into existence. As such, the various caste groups that now make up the Sinhala ‘race’ have their own stories of origin.

The Sun and Moon Flag (Ira Handa Kodiya)

The Sun and Moon Flag (Ira Handa Kodiya)

None of the Kings and Queens of Anuradhapura or Polonnaruwa has ever claimed that they were Sinhalese. But they have consistently claimed in their inscriptions to have descended from the Kshatriya race and the Indian Sun Dynasty and Lunar Dynasty. The Sun and Moon Flag (Sinhala: Ira Handa Kodiya) symbolises the Solar and Lunar Dynasty origins of the Sinhalese community.

The ancient Mahavamsa or the ‘Great Chronicle’ of Sri Lanka is a historical poem, written in the Pāli language around 4th century AD, about the rulers of Sri Lanka. The first few chapters the Pāli cover the period from the coming of Prince Vijaya of the Rarh region of ancient Bengal in 543 BC to the reign of King Mahasena (334-361). The Mahavamsa too refers to the ancient kings and queens of Sri Lanka, not as Sinhalese, but as Kshatriyas from the Solar and Lunar dynasties..

Though not considered a canonical religious scripture, the Mahavamsa is an important text in Theravada Buddhism. It covers the early history of the Buddhist religion in Sri Lanka, beginning with the time of Siddhārtha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism. Every chapter of the Mahavamsa ends by stating that it is written for the “serene joy of the pious”.

It is said Lord Buddha visited ancient Lanka three times, but there were no following nor disciples in Lanka as a result of his visits. It was only after Arahath Mahendra, and his fraternal twin of Theri Sanghamitra, the children of Samrat Asoka born to his supreme consort and first wife Vidisha Mahadevi, brought Buddhism here, and the Lankans followed it.

From the emphasis of its point-of-view, one can deduce that Buddhist monks compiled Mahavamsa to record the benevolent deeds of the kings who were patrons of the Mahavihara (Pali: “Great Monastery”) in Anuradhapura. The Theravada Buddhist monks of the Mahavihara chronicled the history of Sri Lankan beginning from the 3rd century BC. In the 5th century AD, the Buddhist monk Mahathera Mahanama combined and compiled these annals into a single document.

The official story of the origin of the Sinhalese from a lion in India is not from the origin traditions of any Sinhalese caste. Even in the Mahavamsa, the ‘Lion’ myth encompasses only Vijaya’s family and does not include the service castes that came along with him. The Lion story does not even relate to his ministers. The fact that most Sinhalese castes have their own origin stories proves this.

  • The Salagamas caste traces its origin in Sri Lanka to Nambudiri and other Saligrama Brahmins who came over from Malabar in Kerala invited by king Vathhimi Buvenekabahu of Sri Lanka.
  • The muni clan names of the Salagamas bear testimony to their Brahmin origins.
  • The Durava Caste traces its origins from the Nagas and retinues of Pandyan consorts.
  • The Navandanna caste traces its origin to Vishwakarma.
  • The Deva Kula (Also known as Wahumpura, Hakuru, etc.) descended from a deified ruler of Sabaragamuwa named Sumana.
  • The Sunnakkara Kula (Also known as Hunu) descended from the traditional architects and engineers of Sri Lanka .
  • The Kumbal Kula (also known as Badal, Badahela, etc.) descended from the first humans to graduate from wild men to humans who cooked their food in clay pots. From this initial quantum leap, developed cultivation and other occupations.
  • The Bathgama caste is descended from the original pre-Vijayan, Yakka (also called Yaksha) inhabitants of Sri Lanka.
  • The ‘Govi Caste’, according to the Janawamsayaa and other sources, sprung from the feet of Brahma. The modern Govigama caste is an identity created during the British period by the De Saram Mudaliar family of mixed origins. Many successful people of unknown provenance joined the Govigama group during the British period.
  • Several other castes trace their origin to the guilds that arrived with the sacred Bodhi tree.

So, not a single Sinhalese caste has an origin story connecting it to Vijaya or a beastly lion ancestor. According to the Mahavamsa, the term Sinhala could be applied only to the first royal family of Vijaya and not to the population at large. Also, according to the chronicles, Vijaya did not sire a successor.

Whatever it be, the lore of Vijaya as told in the Mahavamsa brings to light the fact that the Sinhalese ‘race’ is not indigenous to the island, but descended from many ethnic groups inherent to India.

→ Next: Part 1 – Sinhabahu

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Are The Tallit and Tzitzit of the Jews Equivalent to Prayer Beads Used in Other Religions?


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The prayer beads (rosaries and mala beads) are common accessories among spiritual traditions of many religions except in Judaism.

The orthodox Jews frown upon such devices. They consider it a mortal sin tantamount to idol worship. Many Judaic sources frown, prohibit or discourage the use of prayer beads and such, since these practices could lead the observant to take the name of God in vain. However, there are other sources that verify such use as a common kabbalistic practice kept secret for over hundreds of years.

However, there is something comparable to the use of prayer beads in traditional Jewish practice, though there is no direct reference to any kind of rosary practice.

The tallit 

The tallit is a prayer shawl, used for centuries by Jewish people. It is a rectangular garment with parallel stripes across the shorter ends. Most tallitot (plural) are white with navy or black stripes. Originally it was woven without seams.

Tallit

Tallit – a Jewish prayer shawl

The Jews place the tallit over their head and shoulders while praying in private and in the synagogue, and during other significant times of prayer.

Tallitot are first worn by children on their Bar Mitzvahs. Among orthodox Jews in the Ashkenazi circles, a tallit is customarily presented to a groom before marriage as part of the dowry.

In the Torah, in the book of Numbers, chapter 15:37-40, we read that the LORD designed the tallit and gave the directions to Moses:

37 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying:

38 ‘Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them throughout their generations fringes in the corners of their garments, and that they put with the fringe of each corner a thread of blue.

39 And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them; and that ye go not about after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go astray;

40 that ye may remember and do all My commandments, and be holy unto your God.

Again in Deuteronomy 22:12 we read:

“Thou shalt make thee twisted cords upon the four corners of thy covering, wherewith thou coverest thyself.”

The tzitzit

In Hebrew, tzitzit is the name for specially knotted ritual fringes worn by observant Jews. Tzitzit are attached to the four corners of the tallit and tallit katan.

A tzitzit

A tzitzit

There are specifications for constructing the tassel, winding the thread separating the knots, and making the knots themselves.

God, in his concern for his people to obey his commandments and avoid punishment of death, told Moses to have his people include a specified number of fringes or knotted tassels on its four corners, and on the hems or borders of all their garments, in a very specific fashion, called tzitzit.

Each of these tzitziyot should include a cord of blue to remind that the origin of the Law is heavenly and not sin against the Holy One of Israel, Yahweh, God the Father.

Also, these verses from the Torah might lead some to subtly infer that numbers are as spiritually significant to the tallit in Judaism as they are to prayer beads in other traditions. However, there are no reference to using these knots in any kind of rosary practice.

The tallit katan

The tallit katan meaning ‘small tallit‘ is a fringed garment traditionally worn either under or over their clothing by Jewish men. It is a poncho-like garment with a hole for the head and special twined and knotted fringes known as tzitzit attached to its four corners.

An Orthodox Jewish man wearing a Wool Tallit Katan under his vest

An Orthodox Jewish man wearing a Wool Tallit Katan under his vest.

The four corners are generally regarded as the four corners of the earth’s cardinal directions; and the tassels to remind them of the commandments. By the way, the Jews have a total of 613 do and don’t commandments to follow and not just the 10 that are generally known.

Generally, a tallit katan is made of wool or cotton. The requirements about the fabric and fringes of a tallit katan are the same as that of a tallit gadol, the prayer shawl worn during the morning services in synagogues by all male participants, and in many communities by the leader of the afternoon and evening prayers as well.

“Who touched me?”

Most of us forget that Jesus was a Jew. Here is an interesting episode in the life of Jesus narrated by Luke in Chapter 8:42-48.

Woman grabbing yeshua's tzitzit

Woman grabbing yeshua’s tzitzit

… As he went, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years, who [had spent her whole livelihood on doctors and] was unable to be cured by anyone, came up behind him and touched the tassel on his cloak. Immediately her bleeding stopped.

Jesus then asked, “Who touched me?”

While all were denying it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds are pushing and pressing in upon you.”

But Jesus said, “Someone has touched me; for I know that power has gone out from me.”

When the woman realized that she had not escaped notice, she came forward trembling. Falling down before him, she explained in the presence of all the people why she had touched him and how she had been healed immediately.

He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

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Prayer Ropes: The Orthodox and Eastern Catholics’ Chotki / Komboskini / Komvoschonion


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Prayer ropes used by Orthodox Christians to pray are known as Chotki, Komboskini or Komvoschonion. These are somewhat similar to the Rosary of the Roman Catholics.

The prayer rope is part of the habit of Eastern Orthodox monks and nuns who pray “Jesus Prayer” instead of “Hail Mary” and “Our Father.”

The Jesus Prayer is a short, formulaic prayer esteemed and advocated within the Eastern Orthodox & Oriental Orthodox churches:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.”

The prayer rope dates back to the origins of Christian monasticism itself. It was the custom of the monks to pray the entire 150 Psalms every day. However, because some of the monks were illiterate, they would have to memorize the psalms or perform other prayers and prostrations in their stead. Thus, the tradition of saying 150 or more Jesus Prayers every day began. The prayer rope becomes a very practical tool in such cases for keeping count of the prayers said.

To the Orthodox Christians prayer is heartfelt and inspired by the grace of the Holy Spirit. It is a weapon that defeats Satan and the prayer rope is the sword of the Spirit.

The Orthodox and the Eastern Catholic Churches, refer to the canonical hours as the ‘Divine Services,’ and the Book of Hours as the Horologion (Greek: ῾Ωρολόγιον).

The practice of daily prayers grew from the Jewish practice of reciting prayers at set times of the day. In the Book of Acts, Peter and John visit the Temple for the afternoon prayers: Now Peter and John were going up to the temple area for the three o’clock hour of prayer. (Acts 3:1)

In the Psalms we read: Seven times a day I praise you because your judgments are righteous. (Psalms 119:164)

Among some Orthodox monastics, the canonical hours and preparation for Holy Communion may be replaced by praying the Jesus Prayer a specified number of times.

Chotki 100 beads

Chotki 100 beads

Historically, the prayer rope would typically have 100 knots. However, today, Chotkis come in a variety of sizes: 33, 50, 100, 101, 103, 150, and 300 beads tied from 100% wool. Most versions come with multiple divider beads, a knotted cross or a tassel, said to be used to wipe away one’s tears. The Greek Komvoschonion is usually made of knotted wool or “rattail”, while the Byzantine Ruthenians of the Carpatho-Rusyn Mountains use strung wooden beads.

How to Pray a Chotki

Praying the Chotki can be very elaborate, with an entire liturgy written for this purpose or can be very simple using a variation of the Jesus Prayer on each bead.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a poor sinner.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, through the prayers of Your most holy mother, have mercy on me, a poor sinner.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.

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