Note: This was originally posted in Tamil on Facebook by an anonymous person! On reading the original I beat my breast and said: “Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa! Lord, I too have erred! I am no exception.”
This is what most people post on Facebook!
After bribing the traffic police:
“Let us do away with bribe“
The once erratic drivers and riders after marrying and begetting children:
“Obey road rules!“
After bargaining with their labourers:
“Down with capitalism!“
After drinking Pepsi and devouring KFC chicken:
“For economic growth of our country drink king coconuts.
Save our country from foreign entrepreneurs!“
The guy who rides his bike to go to the next street:
“Save the environment. Avoid pollution!“
Romeos who ogle women on the street:
“Respect Women. They are like your mothers and sisters!“
The person jealous of his neighbour who earns 10 rupees more:
“Unite. We are all brothers!“
One who takes two steps back when an old destitute stretches her hand towards him:
“Help the poor and the needy. Let us eradicate poverty!“
The guys who show a quick face for namesake at the funeral of his neighbour:
“My heart bleeds for those dying in Palestine, Israel, Africa and Timbuktu…“
Fellows who don’t even speak a few words with his mother:
Writes pages of poetry about love for one’s mother!
Though stingy, project themselves as philanthropists on Facebook!
And some women
Flirt in life, but manifest as a virtuous person on Facebook!
When you hear the name Aladdin (Arabic: علاء الدين), immediately what comes to our mind is the story of a youth and the wonderful magic lamp. It is one of the best known Middle Eastern folk tales in The Book of One Thousand and One Nights which is often known in English as the Arabian Nights, from the first English-language edition (c. 1706 – c. 1721), which rendered the title as The Arabian Nights’ Entertainment.
The story of “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp” was not in the original collection of “The Arabian Nights“. There is no evidence among the Arabic sources for the magical tale.
Antoine Galland, a Frenchman, translated “The Arabian Nights” into French. He called his book “Les Mille et Une Nuits“. He incorporated the tale of “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp” in his volumes ix and x, published in 1710.
In his diary, in the entry made on March 25, 1709, Galland wrote that he met the Maronite scholar named Youhenna Diab (“Hanna”). This scholar was brought from Aleppo to Paris by Paul Lucas, the celebrated French traveller. Galland says he heard the story of Aladdin from Hanna.
According to Antoine Galland, Aladdin was a Chinese, not an Arab.
The story is set in China, and Aladdin is a Chinese youth. Most of the characters in this Middle Eastern tale have Arabic names. The emperor in this tale seems more like an Arab ruler than a Chinese emperor. There is a Jewish merchant who cheats Aladdin after buying his wares, but there is no mention of Buddhists or Confucians. This suggests that the storyteller had only a sparse knowledge of China. He was unaware of the existence of the New World. To him, Aladdin’s “China” was “the Utter East” and the sorcerer’s homeland in the Maghreb (Northwest Africa) was “the Utter West”.
Some commentators suggest the story was set in Turkestan that encompasses Central Asia and the modern Chinese province of Xinjiang.
I believe the narrator of the Aladdin tale had without qualms used an exotic setting as a common storytelling device.
Here is the story of “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp” in a summarized form:
Aladdin, an impoverished youth, lives in a Chinese town. A sorcerer from the Maghreb (Northwest Africa) approaches Aladdin and his mother. He introduces himself as the brother of Aladdin’s late father Mustapha the tailor. He promises Aladdin’s mother that he would set up the youth as a merchant.
The sorcerer’s real motive was to retrieve a wonderful lamp from a booby-trapped magic cave with the help of young Aladdin. He lends Aladdin a magic ring for protection.
As soon as Aladdin retrieves the lamp from the cave the sorcerer double-crosses him and traps Aladdin in the magic cave.
Fortunately, the sorcerer’s magic ring is with Aladdin. When Aladdin rubs his hands in despair, he rubs the ring inadvertently. A jinnī (or “genie”) appears and takes him home to his mother. Aladdin gives the dirty lamp to his mother. When the mother tries to clean the lamp, a genie more powerful than the genie of the ring appears and declares that he is bound to do the biddings of the person currently holding the lamp.
With the help of the genie of the lamp, Aladdin becomes rich and powerful. He marries Princess Badroulbadour, the Emperor’s daughter. The genie of the lamp builds Aladdin a magnificent palace more luxurious than that of the Emperor.
The sorcerer returns. As Aladdin’s wife is unaware of the lamp’s importance, the sorcerer tricks her to part with the old lamp by offering to exchange “new lamps for old“.
The sorcerer then orders the genie of the lamp to move Aladdin’s palace along with all its contents, including the princess, to the Maghreb.
Aladdin gets help from the lesser powerful genie of the magic ring. The genie transports Aladdin to the Maghreb where he recovers the wonderful lamp and kills the sorcerer in battle. Aladdin then asks the genie of the lamp to move the palace along with all its contents, including the princess, back to its proper place.
The sorcerer’s more powerful and evil brother disguises himself as an old woman known for her healing powers. The princess falls for his disguise and commands the “old woman” to stay in her palace to cure anyone who falls ill.
The genie of the lamp warns Aladdin about the sorcerer masquerading as the ‘old woman’. Aladdin slays the imposter. Aladdin succeeds to his father-in-law’s throne and everyone lives happily ever after.
I edit what I write several times before I hit the “Publish” button.
On many occasions I leave my darlings aside for a fortnight or so; and then I read them, cut, append, read, juggle sentences and paragraphs, juxtapose, add, drop, umpteen times in no specific order until satisfied to a certain extent. In most cases I publish only about 60% of what I originally typed.
Being a good writer means knowing how to edit: taking what you’ve written and stripping out the dulling distractions so your ideas shine. It’s not always easy, but it is necessary.
She quotes American writer and Nobel Prize laureate, William Faulkner: “In writing, you must kill your darlings.”
This is Michelle’s advice to bloggers:
Today — whenever you’re reading this — start a new post. Write until you’ve said everything you want to say, then save your draft — but don’t publish.
Tomorrow, open the post and check the word count (hint: it appears at the bottom of the editing box). Edit your post down by 10%, then save it and forget it again.
Repeat on two more days, until you’ve done three days of editing.
After three days of editing, hit “Publish.”
If your original draft was 1,000 words, the piece you ultimately publish should be around 730; if you started with 500, you’ll end up with 365 or so. If you’re a flash fiction writer who starts with 50, you’ll need to get yourself down to 36. (If you have a bolt of searing editorial insight and want to cut it down more than 10% on any day, feel free.) Whether you’re a long-form or short-form blogger, learning to wield your red pen ruthlessly will improve your writing.
A fellow blogger and poet Tom Balistreri commented to Michelle’s post:
After I write I go back and remove all my typos. Then I go back and correct my sentence structure. Then I correct my grammar. Then I throw out anything that’s frivolous or doesn’t make sense. At that point I have a blank page.
Neither Tony nor Joe knows who the original author of this article is. Obviously he must be a Sri Lankan.
I enjoyed reading every word of this sarcastic, thought-provoking dissertation, and wish to share it with you.
I have used my editorial discretion, to strike out two phrases in the first paragraph which, though hilarious might seem objectionable to a few. Also, I have added images to spruce up the presentation.
There are three things in the world that are of no use to anyone, viz. a man’s breast, a priest’s balls,, and a Sri Lankan passport. The uselessness of the third item becomes absolutely clear when one tries to apply for a visa to go abroad.
Today, international travel for a bona fide traveler from Sri Lanka is fraught with unbelievable red-tape, undesirable paperwork and unforeseeable pitfalls. It is, for example, much easier for the proverbial camel to go through the eye of a needle than for an honest Sri Lankan passport holder to enter the United Kingdom. Everything in life has a price.
Ironically, these days, it is relatively easy for a Sri Lankan illegal immigrant to enter any western country of his choice and claim asylum, become a citizen and sponsor his kith and kin. This way, entire villages from Jaffna peninsula have been uprooted and are now relocated to Scarborough in Toronto, Canada.
A Sri Lankan passport is not unique. Israeli passport is the next most useless document as it is not recognized by 23 countries in the Middle East and also by North Korea and Cuba. Presenting an Israeli passport to an immigration officer in a Muslim country would be the equivalent of waving a red flag at a bull in Spain.
Although the Sri Lankan passport clearly states that “The President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka requests and requires all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary” the document is more often than not treated with total disdain while its possessor is regarded with suspicion by almost all countries including Bangladesh, Benin and Bulgaria.
Although the purpose of the Sri Lankan passport is to promote and facilitate international travel, the way in which its owners are treated at foreign embassies makes one wonder if it was instead designed to dissuade and restrict international travel as much as possible.
Applying for a visa to a western country in Sri Lanka has become such a complex, confusing and complicated activity that some people, especially old men and women, come down with the condition known as “visaitis“. This is a relatively new disease which emerged in Sri Lanka at the end of July 1983.
The symptoms include a certain dryness of the mouth, dizziness, and mild dementia. Patients afflicted with this disease also suffer from outrageously watery diarrhea and are in the habit of passing urine frequently, and in rare cases, may be subject to catatonic schizophrenia. They can be nervous, irritable and immune to therapy. The mere thought of going to a western Embassy or High Commission in Sri Lanka is so traumatic that one or two people have in fact died of a broken heart, following the mandatory medical check-up.
There is a particular Hindu place of worship known affectionately as the “Visa Pillayar Temple” (VPT) in Colombo where people go to break a coconut and offer a silent prayer to ensure success prior to their interview (or interrogation) for a visa at the Embassy. Visa aspirants from places as far away as Valluvettithurai (VVT) in the north come to VPT to collect the vipoothi (holy ash), which when applied on the forehead is supposed to confer divine protection during the inquisition at the Embassy.
The insults start at the gate of an Embassy where you experience the taste of what is in store for you in the country you plan to spend your hard-earned money.
At the French Embassy in Colombo, rated 9.5 in the “Richter Scale of Rude Shocks,” it is the illiterate gatekeeper who functions as Cerberus, the three-headed dog guarding the entrance to Hades, to whom one must give the sop to slip into the Embassy.
At the Japanese Embassy in Colombo, you cannot see the visa officer through the one-way opaque glass window when you submit your application. He can see you, but you cannot see him. The experience can be quite unnerving. It is a bit like speaking to an Oracle in Greece.
The application for a Canadian tourist visa is 10 pages long and has more than 60 questions, including the names, places and dates of birth of yourself, your wife, your siblings, parents, grandparents, your wife’s relatives, your in-laws and outlaws! All these details have to be submitted first electronically before you are given a date for the interview.
Once I went to the Bangladesh Embassy in Colombo to apply for a visa. The Embassy looked more like a tuck shop and I was the only applicant. Even then that bored consular officer rudely told me that it would take five working days to issue a visa!
In the Indian Embassy, one would witness the death of common sense. However, much you gather the required documents you need to substantiate your application for a visa, the officer will ask for the one that you forgot to bring.
By contrast, the US Embassy in Colombo offers one of the best services in the world. The US staff are extremely kind, helpful and patient and they genuinely try to assist the potential visa applicant to the best of their ability. The US evaluation process is very fair, thorough and proper. If you are a genuine visitor to the USA, you need not worry. You will get a fair hearing. All the US immigration officers are trained well to be civil and polite to the visitor. They would often engage you in small talk just to find out if you were a genuine visitor or not to the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.
Today, many embassies have subcontracted the TT Services to deal with the initial stages of processing the visa.
More recently, on arrival in Christchurch, New Zealand (the Land of the Long White Cloud), the immigration officer asked me, very politely and with a pleasant smile, what the purpose of my visit was? When I told him that I had come to deliver a talk on elephants at the University of Canterbury, the bewildered officer exclaimed, “But we do not have elephants!” and stamped my passport and wished me a pleasant stay. It spoke so well about the country of just 4.5 million people and 60 million sheep.
Once when I worked for WWF-International, I was a member of a small working committee planning the next International Theriological (= Mammal) Congress. Two countries, Australia and Colombia, were interested in hosting the event. The Australian delegate was interested in moving the Congress to Sydney, but cautioned us that the only requirement for the visa was that none of the foreign participants had any criminal record. On hearing this, the Colombian delegate jumped up in sheer joy and informed us that on the contrary, his Government would welcome delegates with a criminal record! The Congress was held in Sydney.
In the unlikely event of a visa being issued, it does not automatically guarantee that you’d be allowed to enter the country at the other end. That depends on the mood and the maturity of the immigration officer.
One of the most traumatic experiences one could have on arrival is at the Heathrow airport in London. You had been travelling 16 hours from Colombo and the flight lands at 9 am. It is supposed to be summer, but the sun is nowhere to be seen in the Land of Ceaseless Fog and Drizzle. Thus, even before the plane comes to a complete stop, you would get an idea of the weather that awaits you on arrival. Sometimes it appears that the plane had been taxiing through ginger beer or syrup. That’s the colour of the atmosphere outside.
On arrival I have to join the cattle class and then go to the queue reserved for aliens. No wonder I am often treated as if I am an extraterrestrial phenomenon!
Almost all British immigration officers are most unfriendly to non-Caucasian visitors, and often act liketinpotHitlers. They are as hard as nails and bored as the people who serve you at McDonalds. They look miserable knowing they are stuck in dead end jobs.
Right behind his shoulder you can read in letters big, bright and bold, the banner that reads, “Welcome to Heathrow”. The welcome you receive is frostier than the weather outside.
The first question the bored and grumpy immigration officer with a smirk on his face asks the hapless visitor is: “When are you getting back?”
If you ask for a three-month stay in England, you are more likely to be given just a month. On the other hand, if you were to request for only a week, just to attend a conference and get back home, you may be granted a stay for six months. More disturbing is the recent news from the UK that in the future, visitors to Britain from ‘high risk’ countries such as Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Ghana coming to Britain on a six-month visit visa will have to put up a 3,000 pound (equivalent to Rs. 594,000 in Sri Lankan currency) bond as security, according to the Home Secretary Theresa May.
Sometimes things can go wrong. During myfirst visit to Australia in 1990, I flew into Sydney from Jakarta. Before the plane landed, we were given immigration forms to be filled. There was an additional yellow card that had to be filled as well, and one of the questions on it was: “Are you carrying live semen?” to which I promptly ticked the yes box, given that I had already fathered two kids.
As I cleared the immigration and moved to the customs, I was stopped and taken to a small room where I was interrogated by a big, bespectacled, Wagnerian white woman with a pair of enormous Bristols and a face like a bulldog chewing a wasp. She waved a yellow card at me and exploded, “Is this a joke?”
I was genuinely clueless as to why she blew her top and asked her what was it all about, to which she pointed the box I had ticked off to say that I was indeed carrying live semen. I told her that I believed so, to which the human volcano erupted once more and thundered in no uncertain terms that it referred to livestock and warned me not to make a joke of it ever again! It was literally a seminal experience for me. The yellow card is no longer issued.
In the 1960s, we had a Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) member from the United States who became friends with us while we were doing research on wildlife in Wilpattu national park with Dr. John F. Eisenberg from the Smithsonian Institution and his assistant Melvyn Lockhart. The VSO chap was a hippie who loved smoking ganja (marijuana). In his lucid moments he managed to learn a few words in Sinhala which Melvyn taught.
When he left Colombo, he was in fact carrying some ganja with him, and given his long hair and hippie demeanor, he was promptly stopped by a vigilant customs officer who wanted to see the contents of his handbag. In a flash of brilliance, despite the perspiration which had commenced its journey down his spine, he began to engage the customs officer in small talk, and told him that he had lived in Ceylon for a month and that he could even speak the local language a bit.
When the customs officer asked him to say something in Sinhala, he promptly remembered what Melvyn had taught him, and blurted out in a loud voice “මගේ පුක්කෙ මයිල් නෑ” (Transliterated: “Magey pukkay mayil naa“) meaning “my arse has no hair” in his native Texan drawl.
All the customs officers who heard him burst out in uncontrollable laughter and began to dance (a few even had tears of joy streaming down their cheeks). They complimented him on his language skill and wished him “bon voyage“. It was the hippie who had the last laugh.
Melvyn later received a “Thank you” note from Amarillo, TX.
As a Sri Lankan, I feel that we are treated abroad as if we do not matter, despite our education, ancient culture and proud heritage. We may be short on geography, but we are long on history. We deserve better treatment in the western countries. Unlike the ASEAN countries where citizens of the member states enjoy a 14-day visa free entry to each other’s country, we who belong to the SAARC cannot go to India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, or Bhutan even for a short stay without a visa!
In the final analysis, given the limitations of our Sri Lankan passport, it is far better for us to enjoy a local holiday than be subject to untold indignities and interrogations at the hands of immigration officers. As Blaise Pascal once remarked, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.“
“The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.” — William Shakespeare
Today is William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday.
William Shakespeare, England’s national poet, is known throughout the world as an English poet, playwright and actor. He is widely regarded as the world’s preeminent dramatist and as the greatest English writer. He is often called the “Bard of Avon,” “Swan of Avon” or plainly “The Bard“.
Shakespeare’s plays have been translated into almost every language around the world, and his plays have been performed for more than 400 years in countless metropolises, cities, towns, villages, and hamlets in almost every country.
The bard’s works have outlived him. Significant number of English phrases coined by William Shakespeare are still in vogue and are in use every day. Here are some:
“Made of sterner stuff” in Julius Caesar.
“To the manner born” in Hamlet.
“To your heart’s content” in The Merchant of Venice.
“Green-eyed monster” in Othello.
“The milk of human kindness” in Macbeth.
“Salad days” in Antony and Cleopatra.
“Sea change” in The Tempest.
However, the personal life of William Shakespeare somewhat remains a mystery.Two sources provide historians with a basic outline of his life. The primary source is his work — the plays, poems and sonnets. The other source is the official documentation such as church and court records. These sources give only brief sketches of specific events in Shakespeare’s life, but nothing much about the person he was.
William Shakespeare’s birth record does not exist. A church record mentions that on April 26, 1564, a William Shakespeare was baptized at Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon, a market town, located 103 miles west of London, bisected by a country road and the River Avon. From this, scholars have deduced and acknowledged that William Shakespeare was born on or around April 23, 1564.
William was the third child of John Shakespeare, a leather merchant, and Mary Arden, a local landed heiress. William had two older sisters, Joan and Judith, and three younger brothers, Gilbert, Richard and Edmund.
Before William’s birth, his father, John Shakespeare, a successful leather merchant, held the office of alderman and bailiff, somewhat akin to a mayor. William was the third child of John Shakespeare and Mary Arden, a local landed heiress. William had two older sisters, Joan and Judith, and three younger brothers, Gilbert, Richard and Edmund. After William was born, John Shakespeare’s fortunes declined in the late 1570s.
Childhood records of William are sparse and nothing about his education. Scholars believe that he most likely learned to read, write, and studied the classics at the King’s New School, in Stratford, and would have undoubtedly qualified for free tuition since he was a child of a public official.
The uncertainty about his education has led some to raise questions about the authorship of his work. Some allude his works to several writers and nobles of his time that includes Francis Bacon, Edward de Vere, and Christopher Marlowe.
The Baconian hypothesis of Shakespearean authorship, first proposed in the mid 19th century, contends that Francis Bacon wrote some or all the plays conventionally attributed to William Shakespeare.
Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford was an English peer and courtier of the Elizabethan era. He was a court favourite for a time. He was a patron of the arts, a lyric poet, and a playwright. Since the 1920s he has been the most popular alternative candidate proposed for the authorship of Shakespeare’s works.
Christopher Marlowe was an English dramatist, poet and translator of the Elizabethan era. He was born in the same year as William Shakespeare. Marlowe was the foremost Elizabethan tragedian of his day. After Marlowe’s mysterious early death on May 30, 1593, Shakespeare rose to become the pre-eminent Elizabethan playwright.
Various accounts of Marlowe’s death were current over the next few years. Francis Meres, in his Palladis Tamia, published in 1598, says Marlowe was “stabbed to death by a bawdy serving-man, a rival of his in his lewd love” as punishment for his “epicurism and atheism.” In 1917, Sir Sidney Lee wrote in the Dictionary of National Biography, that Marlowe was killed in a drunken fight, and this is still often stated as fact today.
Given the inconsistencies concerning the account of Marlowe’s death, a theory has arisen centered on the notion that Marlowe may have faked his death and then continued to write under the assumed name of William Shakespeare.
In August 1819 an anonymous writer turned the table by asking in The Monthly Review: “Can Christopher Marlowe be a nom de guerre assumed for a time by Shakespeare?“
Above all, doubts have been raised about whether or not a person named William Shakespeare ever existed.
If you walked down the street of the a busy city and asked random people about Christians what do you think they would say? I would love to say that those people would have nothing but good things to say, but sadly that is not true. Unfortunately, the word that would be most commonly used probably wouldn’t be loving, nice, compassionate or forgiving. Unfortunately, the word probably most often used to describe a Christian has been a hypocrite. That’s not to say that I agree with that, but that’s what a lot of people would say. So naturally I thought we should check out what the Bible has to say about hypocrites and hypocrisy.
Sometimes when looking up a certain topic in the Bible you can’t find a place where the Bible specifically talks about it and you have just have to put two and two together. Hypocrisy or hypocrites is not one of those topics. The Bible talks about hypocrites a lot and nobody talks about hypocrites in the Bible more often than Jesus himself.
Jesus obviously frowned upon hypocrisy, but what exactly is hypocrisy? There are a few different ways of being a hypocrite and each is shown in the Bible. The first type of hypocrisy can be found in Matthew chapter 6. In verse 2 Jesus says,
“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.”
Jesus goes on to say,
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their rewards in full.”
This is probably not the most common type of hypocrisy, although you may know someone like the people described in these verses. This type of a hypocrite is somebody that actually does something good, but does them for the wrong reasons. It’s not good enough to just pray to God or give to the needy, you must also have a good reason for it. A good Christian will pray because he wants to have a closer relationship with God or give to the needy out of compassion, but a hypocrite will do these things for their own glory. A hypocrite will make sure that other Christians see them so they can brag about how good a Christian they are.
Another type of hypocrite can be found in Matthew chapter 7. Verse 5 says,
“You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
This example of a hypocrite is probably the most common example of a hypocrite. Mainly because this type of hypocrisy isn’t really about being a Christian. This type of hypocrisy can be seen in anybody. Basically what this verse is talking about is that person A is telling person B about a flaw in them when person A is a hypocrite because they also have the same flaw. It basically would be like Lex Luthor walk up to Superman and telling him he should be nicer to people.
Like I said, this type of hypocrisy can be found in anybody, not just Christians, but how should a Christian act? A good Christian would first take a look at themselves and see if they have this flaw before calling somebody else out on it. If they also have that flaw, then they should take care of it before they tell anybody else what to do. That is what Jesus is talking about when he says to remove the plank from your own eye.
If you’re not being a hypocrite there is nothing wrong with confronting somebody with a problem they have but just like the hypocrites in the first example, you shouldn’t do this in public. Talk to the person in private.
Both of these are examples of hypocrites and you probably know people like them, but when people call Christians hypocrites they are usually referring to the third example. 1 John 2:4 tells us about this type of Christian:
“Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”
It’s pretty simple. This type of hypocrite is the type of person that claims they are a Christian, but then doesn’t act like it. They might attend church on Sundays, even though the night before they were out doing sinful things. The Bible is very straightforward, these people are liars. You probably don’t need the Bible to tell you that, it’s pretty clear. In God’s eyes people that claim to be Christians but don’t act like it aren’t “Christian hypocrites”, they’re just non-Christians. They were never Christians to begin with.
Of course, God isn’t saying, “if you ever break one single rule, then that’s it, you’re a liar.” It just means if you really are a Christian then you will make a genuine attempt to follow all of his commandments. We aren’t perfect. Sometimes we’ll make a mistake and unfortunately when we make that mistake, a non-Christian will probably be there to call us a hypocrite because they love pointing them out. But as long as you keep on trying to follow God’s commandments, then you aren’t a hypocrite, you’re just human.
Earlier on January 8, 2013, the SUPER OFFICIAL NEWS posted the article titled “The Punjab Rape Festival In India Begins This Week“. The NATIONAL REPORT just copied that article 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 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.
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.
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.
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 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 was 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:
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)
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 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.”
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.
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.
Sarab H: This is so messed up! I demand justice!
M Shelat: I agree. Something needs to be done to stop this!
Mark Dauglas Znenitz: I 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.
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:
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.
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.”
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?
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.