Happy Diwali!

I would like to extend my best wishes on this Diwali to Hindus (and Indo-Pagans) worldwide. May the triumph of light over darkness bring more understanding, cooperation, and opportunities to our respective faith communities in the year to come. May the blessings of Lakshmi reach us all in these trying times. Diwali, the festival of lights, is a major Indian holiday representing a spiritual new year, and a triumph of good over evil. Depending on the region and tradition, this day commemorates the return of Lord Rama, the birth of Lakshmi, and the Austerities of Shakti (among other events).

Pagan Media Interviews Republican Presidential Hopeful Gary Johnson

Earlier this evening a live Google+ video interview/”hangout” with GOP Presidential candidate Gov. Gary Johnson and members of the Pagan media was held. Pagan media organizations participating in the Q&A with the former New Mexico Governor included Cara Schulz of PNC-Minnesota, Star Foster of Patheos.com, Devin Hunter of ModernWitch Podcast, David Salisbury of PNC-Washinton DC, Crystal Blanton of PNC-Bay Area, and myself. In addition, Ramesh Rao of the Hindu American Foundation also took part. The conference was streamed and recorded by Keith Barrett, and you can watch the entire press conference embedded below (or at this link). Watch live video from KeithBarrett.TV on Justin.tv

There was also a post-conference podcast hosted by Devin Hunter and Rowan Pendragon where participants shared their thoughts on the event. A number of issues were discussed, including religious freedom, the rights of minority religions, LGBTQ rights, drug policy, education, taxes, and much, much, more. Stay tuned to PNC-Minnesota in the coming days for more details.

Saami Concerned Over Arctic Expansion and other Pagan News of Note

Top Story: In the second part of a six-part series on the geopolitical ramifications of global warming in the Arctic, NPR’s Morning Edition focuses on Russia’s aggressive push to claim waterways and resources becoming available as the Arctic ice melts. One group that is particularly concerned over the rush to claim the Arctic is the indigenous Saami people, a group native to the Kola Peninsula of Russia. NPR interviews traditional singer Nadezhda Lyashenko, who discusses the environmental consequences of this rush to exploit one of the few remaining untouched regions on our planet. The indigenous people of this region bore much of the brunt. The Saami tribe, for one, has lived centuries in Russia’s northwest, near the Norwegian border.

Americanizing Hinduism and other Pagan News of Note

Top Story: The CNN Belief Blog has a story about Hinduism in America, and how some younger Hindus are trying to “forge a distinctly American Hindu identity that’s more tightly woven into the national fabric.” “Our parents had to build everything from scratch to make a united Hindu community in this country,” said Tejas N. Dave, 17, a high school junior who volunteers with a project bringing yoga to unprivileged Americans. “Now we’re trying to reintegrate it back into society,” he said, “to make people realize that Hinduism is a religion and a way of life and a philosophy that’s not too different from what a lot of others believe. We’re all trying to make a better society.” Some young Hindus are envious of the attention that American Muslims and Mormons have received in recent years – even if not all of the attention has been positive – and are trying to raise Hinduism’s national profile. The article mentions the Hindu American Foundation and its work, an advocacy group that has done outreach to the Pagan community in recent years, and profiles younger Hindus who want to take their faith “outside officially Hindu spaces.” Yet [Kavita] Pallod, 23, has spent a good deal of time thinking about how to apply her faith to her life.

Guest Post: Caste, Cows, Karma and Magic at PantheaCon 2011

[The following is a guest post by Mihir Meghani, M.D.; Board Member & Co-Founder, Hindu American Foundation (www.hafsite.org)]

INTRODUCTION

Witches, Heathens, Pagans, Wiccans, Druids, and even someone dressed as Lord Shiva, a divine representation of the God and the infinite in Hinduism — this was the colorful scene at PantheaCon 2011.  Drawing 2300 people, this outstanding event left me and other members of the Hindu American Foundation with energy and hope that we can do a lot together for a better future. Who knows what spells were cast, but Amadea certainly must have cast a good one in 2009 in Melbourne, Australia at the Parliament of the World’s Religions. Call it karma, but since the Hindu American Foundation’s (HAF’s) Managing Director and Legal Counsel Suhag Shukla, my wife Tanvi Jhaveri, and I met her, Patrick McCollum, and other Pagan leaders there, the Hindu-Pagan relationship has blossomed. PANTHEACON 2011

Pantheacon serves a very important role not only for Pagans, but for non-Pagans as well.