CHICAGO — Small protests disrupted th is year’s World Hindu Congress held in Chicago. Protesters charged that several speakers have links to fascists and have promoted violence against Muslims in India. According to the protesters, World Hindu Congress attendees choked, kicked, and spat on them. Several Indian-American elected officials dropped out of participation. Chicago police arrested two protesters and one counter-protester.
[Editor’s Note: We welcome our newest columnist Karl E. H. Seigfried. His writing will be appearing monthly on the fourth Saturday of every month. For more on Seigfried’s background and interests, check out his bio page.]
On January 30, lawyer Thakur Chandan Kumar Singh filed a domestic violence case in India against Rāma Dasharathi for mistreatment of his wife Sītā. This would likely have not made anything other than the local news, except for one fact: Rāma is the protagonist of the ancient Sanskrit text known as the Rāmāyaṇa, and he is believed by Hindus to be an incarnation of the god Viṣṇu. Composed in India between approximately 300 BCE and 300 CE, and attributed to the poet Vālmīki, the Rāmāyaṇa tells the story of Rāma across 20,000 verses.
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FT. MEADE, Md. – A civilian dental technician alleges that she has suffered religious discrimination, a hostile work environment and was subsequently fired after filing a formal complaint.
“Time and again, parents and community leaders have recounted to me how the American conception of camp offers an opportunity for a cultural, religious and, in some cases, linguistic immersion with other American Hindu children. This is understood to be all the more important because within the dominant American and Christian culture, Hindus and Hinduism are often exoticized and maligned.” – Shana Sippy, professor of religion at Carleton College in Minnesota, on the value of Hindu-American summer camps for children. The above quote comes from the recent New York Times article “Building on U.S. Tradition, Camp for Hindu Children Strengthens Their Identity.” In it we meet Neha Dhawan, a Hindu-American woman who says her life was changed by attending “Hindu camp” when she was eleven.
January 14th in India marked the beginning of the Kumbh Mela, the largest religious gathering in the world. Held in full every 12 years, it is an integral festival within Hinduism, one focused on prayer, purification, and spiritual awakening.
“Kumbh is the confluence of all our cultures. It is the symbol of spiritual awakening. It is the eternal flow of humanity.