MODERN DANCE. RAJASTHAN Though the Sun had yet to rise from my vantage point on the edge of town I could see the beginnings of frenzied activity around the Temple. INDIA 2010. ALL VIDEO AND MUSIC BY CHRISTOPHER LAWRIE. PLEASE USE HEADPHONES

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MDO 98. LORD AYYAPPON Two women defied a centuries-old ban on entering a Hindu temple in the Indian state of Kerala on Wednesday, sparking rowdy protests and calls for a strike by conservative Hindu groups outraged by their visit. Police fired teargas and used water cannons to disperse a large crowd of protesters in the state capital of Thiruvananthapuram, television news channels showed. There were protests in several other cities in the state, media reported. India’s Supreme Court in September ordered the authorities to lift the ban on women or girls of menstruating age from entering the Sabarimala temple, which draws millions of worshippers a year. But the temple refused to abide by the court ruling and subsequent attempts by women to visit it had been blocked by thousands of devotees supporting the ban. The Kerala state government is run by left-wing parties and it has sought to allow women into the temple – a position that has drawn the criticism of both of the main political parties, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The uproar has put the issue of religion, which can be highly contentious in India, squarely on the political agenda months before a general election. Sabarimala is a temple complex located at the Periyar Tiger Reserve in the state of Kerala, India. It is the largest annual pilgrimage in the world with an estimate of between 17 million and 50 million devotees visiting every year. Menstruating women between the ages of 10 and 50 are not allowed entry as they are considered impure. The Temple is Dedicated to the Hindu Deity Ayyappan. He is celibate and must not be tempted. Lord Ayyappan PDF


MDO 100. THE TEMPLE Though the Sun had yet to rise from my vantage point on the edge of town I could see the beginnings of frenzied activity around the Temple. The Gopuras were spotlit, and all around in the streets which circled the Temple flames and lights were heading towards the Sacred Enclosure, like a cloud of moths circling a lamp in the darkness of a Summer’s night. I passed under the Gate of Eight Goddesses and into the long arcaded passage beyond. Inside it was dark and magnificent. A forest of carved pillars. On closer inspection lines of heavy breasted Hindu Caryatids, Yakshis, Courtisans,Goddesses and Dancing Girls, flanked me on either side. Everything about the Architecture was deeply and consciously, Feminine. Heading towards the Innermost Sanctuary of the presiding Goddess, one sunk deeper and deeper into the darkness, down a long,straight, womb like passage.

‘The Age of Kali' William Dalrymple


The Temple PDF


MDO 109. THE MOSQUE At the very centre of the plain lies the Temple itself, the most sacred place of all. For the Temple, so the Brahmins will tell you, is a Tirtha, a crossing -place linking the Profane to the Sacred. The pious Pilgrim who steps within the temple enters a zone of transition, a ford between different states of perception, where the celestial can become suddenly imminent, manifest; it is a doorway to the divine, where you can cross from the world of men to the world of the Gods as easily as you might cross a slow flowing steam at the height of the Dry Season.

'In the Lap of the Gods' William Dalrymple



The Mosque PDF


MDO 99. KALI The Kings of the Kali Yug will be addicted to Corruption and will seize the property of their subjects, but will, for the most part, be of limited power, rising and falling rapidly. Then property and wealth alone will confer rank, falsehood will be the only means of success in litigation. Corruption will be the universal means of subsistence. At the end, unable to support their avaricious kings, the people of the Kali Age will take refuge in the chasms between mountains, they will wear ragged garments, and they will have too many children. Thus in the Kali Age shall strife and decay constantly proceed, until the Human Race approaches annihilation. From the Vishnu Purana. 7th. Century

'The Age of Kali' - William Dalrymple


Kali PDF


MDO 104. PELU KHAN It was Pehlu Khan’s lynching on false cow smuggling allegations in Alwar that has sent frenzy among the Muslim community and now they expect none of the parties will protect them in Rajasthan state. Everything seems normal between Hindus and Muslims in Rajasthan but little does anybody know is that the state police investigation has cleared names of six men Khan had named as his assailants in his dying declaration. None of the accused assailants were brought to justice in Khan’s case. Lynching of Muslim community members by the mob, 200 cow vigilantes, has sparked nation-wide outrage over the past few years and now with Elections ahead, the community is uncertain to whom to choose as their leader. In the last two years, ten Muslim men have been killed in such incidents across India by Hindu mobs on suspicion of eating beef or smuggling cows.


MDO 112. JAI JAUHAR At the very centre of the plain lies the Temple itself, the most sacred place of all. For the Temple, so the Brahmins will tell you, is a Tirtha, a crossing -place linking the Profane to the Sacred. The pious Pilgrim who steps within the temple enters a zone of transition, a ford between different states of perception, where the celestial can become suddenly imminent, manifest; it is a doorway to the divine, where you can cross from the world of men to the world of the Gods as easily as you might cross a slow flowing steam at the height of the Dry Season.

'In the Lap of the Gods' William Dalrymple



Jai Jauhar PDF


MDO 102. MEENAKSHI Then, quite suddenly, a carved wooden temple rath appeared in the centre of the principal ceremonial avenue from a side passage, pushed by a swarm of half-naked figures. Their progress was lit by a succession of temple priests holding brightly burning yellow splints dipped in camphor oil. In a silken tabernacle at the top of the path lay the golden image of the Goddess herself, garlanded and and draped in cloth of gold, her nose jewell flashing in the flames of the priest’s burning splints. This was followed another temple cart, containing an image of both Meenakshi and Lord Sundareshvara, with their son, the six headed war god Murugan, standing between them. Then came a pair of brahminy cows led by two priests and hung with drapes and drums and anointed with dots of saffron and turmeric.




MDO 114. CHANDALAU Tonk, Rajasthan: The 200-strong crowd gathered under the shade of a large tree in the dusty village of Nayagaon Shrirampuri looks on curiously as the TV screen blinks and comes alive. The story of Anuradha Rathore unfolds before their enthralled eyes. They hear a young medicine student, hailing from a poor family in Jaipur, talk about her childhood struggles and her fight against polio, which left her with a permanent limp but could not cripple her dreams of becoming a doctor. Rajanti, 19, finds an instant connection with Anuradha as she herself had to struggle to reach class 12 in the higher secondary school located 3 km away from her village in Tonk district, about 90 km from Jaipur. As is the practice in her village, she was betrothed at a very early age. But like many of her peers, she refused to leave the maternal home at the age of 18 to settle with her husband and instead insisted on continuing her studies. She had to face stiff resistance from her parents and other relatives.

Girl Stars Create a Stir in Rural Rajasthan By Nitin Jugran Bahuguna


MDO 103. BLACK WATER “In India, where there are no passports or identity discs, and where religions counts for so much- except among those few who have crossed the 'black water' - I believe that a man wearing a saffron robe, or carrying a beggar's bowl , or with silver crosses on his headgear and chest, could walk from Khyber Pass to Cape Comorin without once being questioned about his destination, or the object of his journey,”

Jim Corbett, The Man-Eating Leopard of Rudraprayag 1918


MDO 103. THE MIGHTY ONE If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendour of the mighty one. The Bhagavad Gita.

'We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried. Most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita; Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and, to impress him, takes on his multi-armed form and says, 'Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.' I suppose we all thought that, one way or another.'

a quote from Scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer, Theoretical Physicist and credited father of the Atomic Bomb. He was quoting from the Hindu Scripture, the Bhagavad Gita.


MDO 107. TAKE ME TO THE BEACH Looking at her dimunitive frame, you can hardly tell that Mukri, 20, has shouldered so much burden at such a young age. At four, when girls her age are playing with dolls, she was married to another toddler, Prehlad Meena, of Kalaru village in Jaipur district. At age 10, when she had not even learnt the meaning of marriage, she was a widow. On the 13th day ritual of her husband's death, she was remarried to her younger brother-in-law, three-year-old Prakash.





20 Tips For Choosing Your Bridal Jewelry

Mukri, from Chittorgarh, was a bride at four and a widow at 10. Remarried to her three-year-old brother-in-law, Mukri fell in love with Ram Karan (left) when she was 18. Two years later, she eloped with him.

Runaway Brides Living News Feb. 11 2002

India Today


MDO 113. HINDUTVA Time was when Congressmen did not have to wear secularism on their sleeves. Under India's first prime minister, they could be practicing politicians and private worshippers as Hindus. Now the situation, for some latter-day heirs of the archetype '50s Congressi, seems to call for a public resolution of this dual existence. For this, they have to dissolve what was then an easy compartmentalising of domains—the personal and the political—and get more demonstrative about their 'Hinduness'. It is a delicate act, fraught with negative symbolism. Damned if they flaunt it, damned if they don't.

Three Horns Of A Dilemma Outlook



MDO 106. UNDER SINGH ‘These are ungodly times,’ said Under Singh. ‘These ladies from the women’s organisations come here unveiled, without their husbands, wearing trousers. They tell us we burn our daughters by force. Do they think we are animals? When Lord Ram was the ruler he allowed sati. So who are these people in Delhi to ban it?’ Under Singh moved closer to me and whispered in his cracked voice: ‘This is the Kali Yug, the Age of Kali, the epoch of disintegration. Ungodly things are happening all around us. Publicly these people from the towns have stopped us worshipping the goddess Sati Mata. But in our hearts we still do. Who can stop us?’ Under Singh talking about the Sati of Roop Kanwa Sati Mata Deorala, Jaipur 1997

'The Age of Kali' William Dalrymple


MDO 105. VULTURES OF INDIA The Hindu religion, which represents 80% of India’s population, is particularly favourable to vultures. Cows are considered sacred by majority of Hindus, so cow meat is generally not consumed. This results in the cow's corpse being left to be fed on by vultures. Of the estimated 500 million cattle in India, only 4% were destined for consumption by humans as meat. Vultures constituted the natural animal disposal system, processing carcasses and nearly 15,000 vultures have been observed at the carcass depositories in capital New Delhi. White-backed vultures have plunged 99.9 percent since 1992. Their demise has led to a sharp increase in dead animals around villages and towns, which has boosted the numbers of disease carrying rats and rabid stray dogs. The cause of their demise is a drug called diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory used by farmers and veterinarians to ease pain in cattle. It is particularly popular in India since for religious reasons, older, dying cattle are often not killed.


MDO 117. NIZAMUDDIN The Hindu spring festival, or Sufi Basant as it is popularly known, dates back to the 12th century when celebrated poet Amir Khusrow dedicated his songs of spring to his khwaja (spiritual master) Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya. Saint Hazrat Nizamuddin’s young nephew Taqiuddin Nooh had died and he was grief stricken for six months. One day when Khusrow was sitting near Arab ki Sarai, he saw some women dressed in yellow carrying marigold flowers and singing devotional songs. When asked the reason, they said that it was goddess Kalkaji’s day. Hazrat Nizamuddin had withdrawn from the society and his followers began to think of ways to cheer him up. Khusrow had asked those women whether their singing and offering of flowers made the Goddess happy and they said it did. It left him wondering why he couldn’t do the same for his master and that is how it all started,” said Syed Kashif Ali Nizami, a descendant of Hazrat Nizamuddin.

  GANESHA   MDO 108.GANESHA CHATURTHI I followed with the greatest curiosity crowds who carried in procession an infinite number of idols of the god Ganesh. Each little quarter of the town, each family with its adherents, each little street corner I may almost say, organizes a procession of its own, and the poorest may be seen carrying on a simple plank their little idol or of papier mâché... A crowd, more or less numerous, accompanies the idol, clapping hands and raises cries of joy, while a little orchestra generally precedes the idol.

Angelo de Gubernatis, Bombay Gazette '1886 Why shouldn't we convert the large religious festivals into mass political rallies?'

Lokmanya Tilak, Kesari, 8 Sept. 1896

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