Tag Archives: religion

Eid al-Adha

Eid al-Adha, also called Eid Qurban or Bakri-Eid, is the second of two Islamic holidays celebrated worldwide each year. The festive season that starts with the beginning of the monsoon continues and Muslims look forward to Eid al-Adha, also called Bakr Eid or Bakrid in India. Muslims across the world celebrate Eid al -Adha as the ‘festival of sacrifice.’ Bakrid is the second major Eid for the Muslims. While Eid-al-Fitr marks the end of the month-long fasting period of Ramadan, Bakrid is known to conclude the annual Haj pilgrimage. The date of Bakrid, according to the Islamic calendar, is supposed to be on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah or the ‘month of the pilgrimage’. Muslims usually go on pilgrimage on the 8th, 9th, and 10th of the month culminating in the Eid al-Adha. In the Islamic lunar calendar, Eid al-Adha falls on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah and lasts for four days. In the international (Gregorian) calendar, the dates vary from year to year shifting approximately 11 days earlier each year.

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Bakr Id/Eid ul-Adha is a public holiday. It is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed. National, state and local government offices, post offices and banks are closed on Eid al-Adha. Islamic stores, businesses, and other organizations may be closed or have reduced opening hours. Those wishing to use public transport on the day may need to contact the local transport authorities to check on timetables. Large scale prayer meetings may cause local disruption to traffic. This is particularly true of areas of India with a predominantly Muslim population.

On Eid al-Adha, many Muslims pray and listen to a sermon at a mosque nearby. They also wear new clothes, visit friends and family. Many Muslims symbolically sacrifice a goat or a sheep as an act of Qurbani. Special food is prepared on Eid al-Adha and shared with relatives. A portion of the food is also distributed among the poor and needy. This represents the sheep that God sent to Ibrahim to sacrifice in place of his son. On this day, Muslims sacrifice a goat, a sheep, or any other animal to commemorate the willingness of Ibrahim to surrender his son Ismael to fulfill Allah’s command. Ibrahim was determined to do what Allah wanted him to do. And on the day when he decided to make the supreme sacrifice, Shaitan attempted to dissuade him, but he drove the evil away and proceeded further. Allah was pleased by his devotion, and a message was sent through Jibreel to Ibrahim. And the message granted life to Ismael and Ibrahim was asked to offer a sheep instead. Therefore, on this day, Muslims sacrifice an animal and divide the meat into three equal portions. They keep one for themselves while they give the other two away to relatives and the needy. Fasting on Eid al-Adha and Eid ul-Fitr is strictly forbidden. Eid al-Adha, or Bakrid, celebrations usually last for three days. The festival is celebrated with a lot of fervor among Muslims around the world. Although, the traditions may vary according to the country and its own local customs. The celebrations include visits to mosques and offering of prayers for peace and prosperity, as well as a special feast that mainly contains mutton preparations. Some of the most delicious Bakrid feast dishes include mutton biryani, mutton korma, mutton keema, bhuni kaleji, as well as a range of delectable desserts like sheer khurma and kheer.

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Since India celebrates a day after Saudi Arabia, except certain states, this year Eid al-Adha will be celebrated on August 1, a day after Saudi. However, Kerala, like Saudi, will celebrate on July 31. This year however celebrations are likely to be low key amid the coronavirus pandemic.  In Ahmedabad, for instance, animal sacrifice in public places or animal processions in the city have been prohibited. Given all the restrictions and safety measures on account of the coronavirus pandemic, Bakrid will only be celebrated with one’s direct family that one lives with, however, you can always wish your near and dear ones from a distance and not breach any safety measures.

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Rakshabandhan in 2020: How it is going to be different…

“There’s no other love like the love for a brother. There’s no other love like the love from a brother.” –Astrid Alauda

Rakshabandhan is popular, traditionally Hindu, annual rite, or ceremony, which is central to a festival of the same name, celebrated in India, Nepal, and other parts of the Indian subcontinent, and among people around the world influenced by Hindu culture. The festival is a festival of love, care, and happiness. It symbolizes the existing love between brother and sister. On this day, sisters of all ages tie a talisman, or amulet, called the rakhi, around the wrists of their brothers, symbolically protecting them, receiving a gift in return, and traditionally investing the brothers with a share of the responsibility of their potential care.

Despite being a part of Hindu culture, due to its moral values, the festival is celebrated by other cultures as well. Among women and men who are not blood relatives, there is also a transformed tradition of voluntary kin relations, achieved through the tying of rakhi amulets, which have cut across caste and class lines, and Hindu and Muslim divisions. In some communities or contexts, other figures, such as a matriarch, or a person in authority, can be included in the ceremony in ritual acknowledgment of their benefaction.

Every year, this festival has been awaited by all of us. It gives a chance for the celebration of a selfless and beautiful relation. For some families, this is the occasion where sisters get a chance (out of their busy schedule) to finally visit their brother and celebrate their love. The occasion begins from the previous day itself, with sisters buying beautiful rakhis and sweets for their brothers and applying Mehendi on their hands. Next early morning, both sisters and brothers dress up in new clothes. The sister ties Rakhi on brother’s hand offers him sweet and sings love songs for him depicting brother-sister relation. The brother then gives her sister a gift and along with that a promise of “protection against any problem in her life.”

Every year, this is the time when families travel to each others’ houses to celebrate the festival. But this time, the festival falls amid these harsh times when the whole world is standing against a pandemic, COVID-19. Rakshabandhan is the first major festival of Hindus after the beginning of the pandemic. Therefore, it is a challenge for all of us to get along with the charm of the festival by taking all the precautions and by maintaining social distancing. This year, it is difficult for sisters to visit their brothers if they live in a different city or state. Each year, we can easily have a get-together and celebrate the festival. But, every year, we have our soldiers, policemen, doctors, workers who are away from their home, on their duty even during festivals for the service of their country. This time, we have got a very golden chance to serve our country and fight against the pandemic by staying at our homes. We can spread happiness and celebrate the festival with our police brothers, doctors, and nurses who are truly working as our safeguard for our protection. We can tie Rakhi out of respect to them, making them realize that they are true heroes and fulfilling the responsibilities of a brother. 

Apart from this, in this time of the internet, even though we are staying far, we are always connected through the internet. We are never apart. We can celebrate the festival over a video call. It will a new experience and it will be great fun. One more thing we need to remember that though some sisters are not able to go to their brother, due to pandemic, colleges and schools are closed. This brings young brothers and sisters together who usually don’t get holidays on Rakshabandhan when colleges run regularly. They must be together after a long time and enjoying the togetherness.

“As we grew up, my brothers acted like they didn’t care, but I always knew they looked out for me and were there!” – Catherine Pulsifer

Science and God

“Science” and “God”, the two words which are often seen as separate entities. These words seem conflicting to most of us and are often a topic of debate. Science seems to question the existence of God and believers of God often question why we are unable to explain the entire universe completely by science till date, a question on the success of science. We can often come across debates on televisions, radio, magazines, etc where people try to prove one as superior over the other. But, are they really two different things? Are they conflicting terms? Or are they same?

A deeper thought over it can clear our confusion. If we deep dig, we find that indeed both are connected. We really don’t need to choose between them. Science and God, are superior powers. The differences arise when we start associating God with some particular religion and Science with the only education. In reality, science is the process of thinking God’s thought after him. “An equation is really nothing unless it expresses a thought of God”, according to Ramanujan. They both actually merge at the spiritual level.

When we talk of science, it is the theories, the fundamental laws that very well explains the nature around us. It offers an explanation of all the natural phenomena in a very beautiful way and at a very basic level. It helped us understand how to converse in the language of nature, i.e in mathematics. It gives human power. The more we as humans understand science, the more powerful we become. Visit the days when humans started to understand science to get to know about the secrets of nature, the things they imagined then are now a reality. The gadgets they considered as their dreams are now in our hands. The technology we imagine today will also become a reality pretty soon. Science gave a power to humans to achieve the impossible.

God, on the other hand, is another superiority. There has been no proper evidence of someone seeing a God. We have not seen God, but we all believe in a “power” that is superior to all of us and many refer to this superior power as “God”. God gives humans the strength and power by making us understand the language of love and humanity. Spirituality is the heart of a human being and through God, we reach here. God helps us understand our potential and make us believe in our strengths. It changes our perception and makes the world a very beautiful and peaceful place for us. The world is incomplete without God.

We can thus conclude,  that both Science and God are a source of immense power to human beings and both are tied together. Both speak the same language. The more faith we develop in God, the more we get close to science, the more we understand science, our belief in the existence of God becomes stronger. Louis Pasteur rightly said that “a bit of science can distance us from God, but more of it nears one to him”, and that is for sure. Diving deep into them will give us immense power and peace.

DEVOTION SEES NO RELIGION

“Ahe Nila saila Prabala Mata barana mo Arata Nalini banaku Kala dalana Ahe Nila saila”. Nestled on the eastern coast of India neighboring West Bengal lies Odisha the home to Sri Lord Jagannath. Notable for being one of the Char Dham or four abodes, the grandiose Jagannath temple of Puri for ages has heard the devotional songs sung by many great poets and priests. Drawn by the alluring aura of the Great Lord saints like Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and poets like Salabega have also been mesmerized by it. Just like the sweetness of Kanika bhog which is offered to the lord as Mahaprasad, there is an immense sweetness in this story of love and devotion of Salabega. Salabega was the son of the Mughal subedar, Lalbeg, and a young Hindu Brahmin widow who was a devotee of Lord Jagannath, who lived in the first half of the 17th century. As soon as he was sufficiently old, SalaBega took up fighting in his father’s campaigns. It so happened that, in the war where Lalbeg died, SalaBega got badly injured and was battling for life. His mother prayed to her beloved Lord Jagannath for her dear son’s life and her prayers were answered. SalaBega was cured miraculously. His mother told him then that Lord Jagannath was an incarnation of Vishnu, the creator of the universe. This incident made SalaBega convinced about the healing essence of the Lord, thus he ended up becoming Lord Jagannath’s devotee. Feeling greatly indebted to Lord Jagannath, he went to Puri to see Lord Jagannath. However, due to the custom of not allowing non-Hindus to enter the temple, the priests didn’t allow SalaBega to enter the temple. SalaBega didn’t fight or opposed them. He waited for the annual Chariot festival, the Rath Yatra where Lord Jagannath, Goddess Subhadra, and Lord Balabhadra are brought out onto the Bada Danda and travel to the Shri Gundicha Temple, to their maternal aunt’s temple, in huge chariots allowing the public to have darsana. They stay there for nine days and travel back to the Shree Mandira. So every year he kept a watch for the chariot, he built a small hut on that road which is the Mazar now. During the rest of the year, he kept visiting religious places. On a particular year, he got delayed in coming back to his hut from Vrindavana, as on the way he suddenly fell ill. Feeling helpless and realizing that he would not reach Puri in time to see the Ratha yatra festival, he offered prayers to Lord Jagannath pleading him to wait until he arrived at the Rath Yatra. An anxious SalaBega cried out to Lord Jagannath and had a dream in which the Lord promised him that He would wait for him. So when the Nandighosha or the chariot of Lord Jagannath reached near the hut of SalaBega, it refused to move even an inch. People tried to pull it hard but nothing happened. They even got elephants to push the Nandighosha but SalaBega’s utter devotion to the Lord kept the Chariot glued to that exact spot for seven days. By then, the King of Puri and all priests were worried. The head priest got a dream telling him not to worry as the Lord was waiting for his favorite kid. So for 7 days, all rituals of Lord Jagannath, all pujas were done on the Chariot itself. SalaBega came at last. This time, nobody stopped him from going closer to the Lord. He went and had his darshan, and worshipped the Lords. Now it is ritualistic for the Lord’s chariot to stop near his Samadhi every year during Rath Yatra. The Lord’s benevolence is not restricted to just one religion, he sees everyone as his children.
Recently before the commencement of the rath yatra this year, the Supreme court of India passed an order canceling the Rath Yatra citing the growing concern of the pandemic as the reason for which 21 persons moved the court seeking recall of its order staying the historic Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra. Among them was Aftab Hossan, a 19-year-old Muslim student from Odisha’s Nayagarh district. Hossen has said his grandfather had constructed a Trinath (Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshwar) temple at Itamati in 1960. He said that he has also read several books on Lord Jagannath and developed devotion towards the ‘Lord of the Universe’. This instance shows that faith breaks all the boundaries created by religion uniting people. Continue reading DEVOTION SEES NO RELIGION