Tuesday, November 21, 2017

INDIAN MAID: BUT SHE WAS NOT “SUPPOSED” TO ENTER KITCHEN




November 21, 2017


By Promod Puri
I don’t know if she belongs to the class of housemaid, aka “bai”. If so, then her status could be upgraded in India’s class and caste society.
She had a regular assignment at our home around 11 every morning and finishing her limited but reserved task in 15 to 20 minutes. It was the most needed part of daily cleaning.
She was a Christian Punjabi-speaking girl in her teen years. Most kids in her age group were in schools at that time studying and playing. But here she was punctual in her daily routine seven days a week.
Besides our house, she was duty-bound attending few other households in the neighborhood.
I remember when coming to our place she was often provided “breakfast”, which most of the times was some leftover food. She had a designated cup and a plate set aside for her exclusive use.
Her monthly income if I remember correctly, was about 50 rupees back in early ‘60s. And she often asked for raise. Her requests were quite legitimate when comparing the nature of her work with maids doing household chores including washing dirty dishes.
As her work was considered “contaminated” she was not supposed to enter kitchen or other rooms as a maid helper.
By nature, she usually was a quiet person with innocent lively expressions. But there occasionally were some disquiet and afflicted rebellious moods as well.
She was from the class of people from the lowest ring of the Indian caste system who converted themselves as Christians from the Hindu faith. Their “Basti” or settlement constituted a segregated community which was a few miles away from our neighborhood.
The place was called Bhangi Colony. And she belonged to the Bhangi caste. Her professional title was “Bhangan” doing the dirty occupation of “manual scavenging”. According to the Wikipedia “manual scavenging is a caste-based occupation involving the removal of human excreta from bucket toilets or pit latrines.
A few years back the profession by law was declared illegal.
However, the rebellion she felt in her teen years is still there among the people of her clan or community against the dehumanizing practices rooted in the social customs of India.
I don’t know if our “Bhangan” is still around. But the profession she was involved continues. And her upgrading for equality is still pending in India’s degrading social behavior which often defies the laws.
(The article above carries some fiction)
Promod Puri is a writer and author of “Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs, And Traditions”. Read more of his articles in https://progressivehindudialogue.com/ and promodpuri.com

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Seeking Evolution In Religions

Rituals, customs, and traditions provide bulk and mostly false identity to a religion. If these are detached from all the religions, then we can see fundamentals of moral and righteous teachings are the same in each of them.
Pathways to divinity are infused with words of morality and ethics, principles, and noble deeds. Many meaningless and vague rituals and customs, while being overly dominating in the institution of religion, create potholes in these pathways. And followers of religions are often get holed up in the potholes.
From the mass availability of knowledge and independent learning thru Internet, Google, and other media, critical thinking can be gathered to review each of these ritualistic values in our individual religious orders. In this debut exercise, one can see the oneness of our religions in their philosophies and messages.
This could be a spiritually enlightened movement at the personal level which may catch up and impact the institutional practices. What we are seeking is a  logical objective which can get us to the sameness of all the world religions, but still with linguistically and culturally diverse names, like those of God.


Friday, November 3, 2017

PUMPKIN'S KARMA

Now that Halloween is over, I would say that the most abused and wasted vegetable of the season is the most gigantic and nutritive pumpkin. Left out in the chill of autumn nights, most pumpkins rot, and finally dumped. Is that his or her karma carved by custom and tradition.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

DOES RELIGION HAS ITS ROLE IN POLITICS


Whereas rituals, customs and traditions furnish symbolic and distinctive identity to a religion, the pathways to divinity which are paved with morals and ethics, are often debased by its despicable ceremonial rites and practices.
It is in this context that the contemporary and progressive political ideologies disdain religion. Its nature is customarily interpreted thru inherent ritualistic practices rather than its doctrines of ethics and noble thoughts. Read more in my essay on this issue.
-Promod Puri

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

NIQAB, BURQA AND MYANMAR MUSLIM REFUGGES

Whereas, Rohingya Muslims refugees from Myanmar, over half a million in number, are battling terror, exhaustion, and hunger in Bangladesh, here in Canada Muslim-right women, with the support of so-called anti-racist progressive activists, and vote-hungry opportunist politicians, are battling to save their right to wear burqa and niqab as against the upcoming ban in Quebec.
20Burqaban1-master768 05USBriefing-Rohingya-articleLargeHumanism demands that women combating to retain their burqas and niqabs to protect their social or religious traditions and cultural identities, should move their curtains and look at the crisis and sufferings faced by fellow Muslims who are being kicked out from their homeland by Buddhist-dominated Myanmar government as part of its ethnic cleansing drive.
Promod Puri

Monday, October 23, 2017

Hinduism Thrives In Its Open Structure


BY PROMOD PURI

Hinduism is a wide-open structure. It is an abode where believers in God, atheists, and ethicists can comfortably reside together and share their knowledge, beliefs, and experiences for the betterment of humanity and its environments.
Hinduism evolves by itself in its conflicting, contradicting, and controversial framework. In its spacious design and architecture, Hinduism is open for questioning, debate, and discussion
Hinduism has never been run by any centralized religious authority. As such it has evolved its own flexible, resilient, and even firm dynamics along with rationales, metaphysical and mystical beliefs which are not binding.
From rituals to idol worship, mantra and metaphysics, karma, and moksha, to meditation and yoga, and all its recreational aspects like music, dance, and drama, Hinduism is disciplinary as well as a comprehensive experience of spiritual development in liberal and progressive regime.
Hinduism is not merely “a way of life”, but much more than that.
(Read more about Hinduism in “Hinduism beyond rituals, customs, and traditions”).

Thursday, October 19, 2017

DIWALI MUBARAK MESSAGE TO CANADA’S PM


Dear Hon. Prime Minister Trudeau:
In celebration of the popular Indian festival of lights, I also wish you, Diwali Mubarak.
Your selection of Diwali Mubarak expression in your tweet is my choice as well.
I noticed that some people tweeted and objected to your use of the word ‘Mubarak’, asserting that it is not a Hindu expression, but a Muslim one as being Arabic in its origin. Please ignore these scant individuals.
Diwali is not only the festival of Hindus but Sikhs also. And ‘Mubarak’, meaning congratulations, is the most common word by the people, including Punjabis, from the northern part of India. Other expressions of Diwali greetings are in pure Hindi language, whereas Mubarak is the word of choice in Hindusthani which is the language of the common folks.
‘Mubarak’ is a secular word which fits very well with the liberal philosophies of Hinduism and Sikhism.
In that spirit of being secular and progressive, your participation in Diwali celebrations is indeed an honor for all us in the Indo-Canadian communities. You represent the true nature of Canada’s multicultural society.
By the way, Mr. Trudeau I like your ‘sherwani’ dress which you put on at the Diwali celebration event in Ottawa early this week.
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Best wishes, and once again Diwali Mubarak.
Sincerely
Promod Puri