All in the name of Religion Part 2


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The issue of religion in this country has been a very sticky issue especially when it comes to issues relating to Muslims and Non Muslims.

One such case is the issue of implementing hudud – it will be interesting to see how this works out the non Muslim component political parties of the Government with the upcoming RUU 355 which will be presented by the Government in Parliament. There is already voices of dissenting to the proposed changes from MCA, MIC and component political parties from East Malaysia but let’s see how these guys will actually react when the changes actually tabled in Parliament. If you ask me, the whole thing about RUU 355 looks more politicial than religion.

Another has been the unilateral conversion of children in a marriage where one parent converts to Islam – a case in point has been the case of Indira Gandhi, a case that gone all the way up to the Federal Court for decision. The husband convert already gone into hiding with one of the children and remains missing despite mounting court orders. I am not sure what that achieves other than causing high distress and bad experience for the children. In the end, the family remains disunited and parents at each other’s throats and time wasted at the courts.

Of course, there are others that is considered “out of this world” such as building tombstone in a school. It does not matter if 80% of the students in the school is not Muslim or if there is no consent from the parents & teachers. But it does a great concern when we try mixing religion & politics into our schools. It would have been a different story if the same parties had build a science lab or an astronomy observatory for the students. I don’t see how we can achieve high income nation status with building tombstones and not science labs. We sure need to make a reality check on what we need to present as educational item for the young minds.

Anyway as I said, the issue of religion in this country has been a very sticky issue and it will be so in the coming years. Now that leads me to a very interesting news recently relating to my fellow Hindus for Thaipusam.

A group of vigilantes behind the Facebook page called the “Thaipusam Spraying Group”, have threatened to use aerosol spray paint on women, including those who wear the saree (Indian traditional dress for women) with their backs exposed.

Accompanying the warning were pictures of saree blouse designs that the group deemed inappropriate. “Advance Warning to Hindu Female Patrons coming to Thaipusam festival, beware of being sprayed with Aerosol paint if found inappropriately dressed”, said the group in its “about the page” column.

Federal police Corporate Communications Head ACP Asmawati Ahmad told FMT the post could be considered a crime, punishable under Section 507 of the Penal Code for criminal intimidation, or Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act for improper use of network facilities or network services. “So don’t taint a religious event by doing things that can disrupt public harmony and peace,” she advised.

The post was published last week, and at the time of publication, the group had close to 150 members. A Facebook user by the name of Henry Barnabas, who allegedly created the page, wrote on his personal Facebook page that the post was meant to protect the “ritual and culture” of Hindus.

“Let’s spread the positive message through this group, so they will also get knowledge and respect the meaning of Thaipusam. “Most youngsters these days don’t know our history. Thaipusam for them is just to be glamorous, dancing, etc. Let’s bring some awareness among the youth and the upcoming generation,” he said.

Barnabas also called for his followers to make the post viral, saying that women today were behaving like “call girls”. “Who to blame? Boys trying to protect girls but girls behaving like call girls and at the end of the day, when they are in trouble they will blame the guys.”

(Source)

I can’t recall when was the last time I visited Batu Caves (even worse, Batu Caves during Thaipusam) but if I am not mistaken it was couple years ago when I attended someone’s wedding at the wedding hall in the temple grounds or when we had to shave my daughter’s head during prayers. I don’t know which is which. The massive crowd, lack of parking space, the heaps of rubbish, the issue of safety, my own reflection of religion – I don’t know which of these reasons that made me to shun Batu Caves during Thaipusam. I guess, I rather pray in a more conducive manner.

So when I heard of the “Thaipusam Spraying Group”, I admit I had mixed feelings. On one hand I was concerned that someone is trying to force their set of religious values onto others by means of violence (even though it may be limited to spraying), something seems to be rare when it comes to Indians – we even had people with short pants coming to temples for prayers in the past (how about naked Sandhus during Kumbh Mela, one of the most important Hindu event in India?), so what is so wrong with some sarees with modern designs?

On the other hand, it was comical since there are worse things happening during Thaipusam than some pretty ladies wearing a designer saree – how about starting with cleanliness of the temple area in the first place?

Yes I agree that there should be minimal standards when it comes to devotees coming to places of religion (no one will accept anyone walking in naked to pray unless of course it is a Sandhu, right?) but I don’t think sarees with some designs is so degrading and causes high tension at places of religion. Seriously guys, the notion of pushing down one’s religious throat with force and violence need to stop. Religion as I mentioned before, in my opinion is something personal and it is just between you and Him. This is also why I prefer morality compared to religion any time, any day.

The last thing we need in this country is moral policing vigilantes that makes threats and causes apprehension on others. So calm down everyone, designer sarees will not cause the end of the world and we do have other priorities in life. So please have great days ahead.

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And God Strikes Back!


Just a quick one before I am off for the holidays…

(It was good to see a very familiar face at the helm of, surprisingly a public demo – perhaps it was high time to learn a thing or two on public demo from Hindraf and Bersih. Unfortunately this was done before it was revealed that it was BN and not Pakatan who approved the development plans. It then turned to be a comedy piece from there onwards)

Happy belated Deepavali and happy holidays to all and since we are on the subject of religion & culture, let me tell you a story.

A long time ago or rather more than 100 years old someone “discovered” Batu Caves and decided to open a temple in one of the caves (thank God that no one lives in caves these days; otherwise we would have another cow-head incident). And over all those years, this temple have grown bigger, more organised and became one of the “must have” place for the Hindus in this country to visit and pray – more so during Thaipusam. And it has been so for damn good years until the 2012 when someone discovered that a private developer is going to build a 29 storey condominium project near the temple and started to make some noise. Religion fanatics, opportunists and issue-hunger politicians then decided to put their 2-cents words and squarely blamed the State Government and demanded that the project to be scrapped otherwise to face the wrath of the Indian community (hoo, are you scared now?) and legal suits. After all, Batu Caves is in Selangor and election is just around the corner – so who want to miss this rare opportunity to create some “inconveniences” to the State Government? Well they tried with the water issue and then with the Talam issue but nothing much happened, so this is not so surprising.

Former MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu spearheaded today a demonstration at the Batu Caves Hindu temple, objecting to the construction of a 29-storey condominium project, in what is seen as a bid to pressure the Selangor Pakatan Rakyat (PR) administration ahead of the 13th general election.

The former works minister accused the Selayang Municipal Council (MPS) of having approved the construction project without a proper study. He said legal action could be taken against the council.

“This project is not planned properly and without referring to any professional party,” Samy Vellu told a 300-strong crowd of Hindus and non-governmental activists who had turned up at the famous temple complex this morning to protest the condominium construction, saying the work was an environmental risk and would jeopardise the temple grounds.

(Source)

More accusations flew in the media and the long-lost political party readied themselves to come out from the political wilderness and to champion this great “danger” to the rights of the community. It is not a big secret that some Indians (there’s one in every community) are quite passionate (and brainless) when it comes to religion and any intrusion to their turf (despite having too many unregistered temples at the same place) and how the destruction of temples in Selangor was one of the key factor for the swing of Indian votes to Pakatan in 2008. The plan on paper was rather simple – highlight the great “danger” to the temple due to the development so to “unite” Indians from both divides, give a final option to the Pakatan led Government (well knowing that Pakatan Government cannot keep due to obvious legal implications and short of time) and once that deadline is passed, accuse Pakatan of selling out the Indians in the State and tell the Indians that the ONLY way out from the mess is to vote Pakatan out from the State (as predicted, with the usual I help you, you help me kind of pre-election promises thrown in for good measures).

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has given the assurance that Barisan Nasional will stop the controversial 29-storey condominium project in Batu Caves if it regains power in Selangor.

In making this promise, the Prime Minister said Batu Caves is a revered and respected site among the Hindu community in the country and worldwide. “I give you my assurance that if Barisan takes over Selangor, we will cancel this project.

“We do not want development of the surrounding area to pose a threat to this place,” he said at the MIC Deepavali open house held at the Batu Caves temple complex. The Prime Minister also said the Cabinet had decided to submit an application to Unesco for Batu Caves to be considered a World Heritage Site.

(Source)

Of course, during this chaos, the so-called community champions will conveniently forget some key questions – why no demonstration and objections when the development was approved back in 2007? It was not like they were kept in the dark. Why nothing was done in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011? Why nothing was done in the first few months of 2012? Why only now the Federal Government has plans to apply Unesco World Heritage Site status despite for donkey odd years BN ruled Selangor? Why only now Batu Caves is “deemed” a revered and respected site among the Hindu community in the country and worldwide? And doesn’t the World Heritage Site status irrespective of who govern the State is good for Malaysia (and the Indian community) as whole?

Of course, none of these questions would be made and heavily discussed in public by the same champions but the condemnation and accusations against the Pakatan led State Government will continue, hoping the Indian community will fail to see the bigger picture and will swallow whatever that is dished out by the crusaders of the community as the gospel truth.

Apparently God has been watching this for some time now and decided that the whack way back in 2008 was not enough. Nothing much has changed since then, nothing much is likely to change in the near future. He decided to throw in the spanner into the woodwork – just for the fun of it.

Its official – all 19 members who attended the full board meeting of the Selayang Municipal Council voted in favour of approving the Dolomite Avenue Park project in Batu Caves in 2007. Despite earlier denials and assertions by some councillors that they were neither party nor privy to the approval process, minutes of the meeting held on Nov 29, 2007 – obtained by theSun – show otherwise.

Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk A. Kohilan Pillai, who was a councillor between 1997 and 2008, had voted in favour of the project. So did the three councillors from the MIC – Rajakupal Sinnathamby, Jayakumaran Govindasamy and Rajandran Muniandy.

(Source)

Wonder who is having the last laugh now? It was interesting to see how the same crusaders and the 300 odd demonstrators are going to spin themselves out of this new found truth. Many thanks to good sensible journalism by theSun, we now know that out of the 19 fellows who approved the development way back in 2007 (before Pakatan came in power),  THREE were MIC councillors and also included Gerakan’s Kohilan Pillai.

As much as Kohilan must be given a chance to give his side of the story, equally important is that he gives plausible explanations.

Are we to assume that the Selayang council at one time or the other operated like a “secret society” keeping vital information away from the residents? Are we to assume that minutes are not recorded accurately? Are we to assume that the minute-taker took it upon himself or herself to “censor” the proceedings and only showed the “good side” of the council reflecting the buddy-buddy working relationship of councillors with no dissent? Are we to assume minutes of council meetings are nothing but pieces of formalities to record what had been previously agreed upon?

Something is certainly fishy. So many questions remain unanswered. The most important is: Why did the council, including its president and the councillors, defy the views of the Department of Environment which stated that development would cause imminent danger to the nearby limestone hills? Enough of pussy-footing. Let’s have some straight answers.

(Source)

In the end this is a story of how some people screwed themselves left, right and center. In the meantime, enjoy the up-coming wayang kulits and a string of memory lapses as the Pakatan State Government gets their hands into the mess left behind by the same community crusaders. Happy holidays to all.

The unveiling of the World Tallest Lord Murugan Statue


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On 28th January 2005, the world’s tallest Lord Murugan’s statue was unveiled in Batu Caves. The statue is 42.7 meters tall and presently is the tallest in the world presently. The temple officials are hoping that it will be listed in Guinness Book of World Record. There were other records too:-

1. The statue cost RM2.5mil is made of 1,550 cubic meters of concrete, 250 tonnes of steel bars and 300 liters of gold paint brought in from Thailand. Fifteen Indian sculptors had worked on the project for three years.

2. The RM15,000 flower garland, which was 43m long and weighed about a tonne (A total of five days without sleep and 18 men was what it took to prepare this enormous garland. They needed another 20 men to help lift it to the crane so it wouldn’t sway and hit visitors).

Although, I was not in Batu Caves for the ceremony, my camera was (ya, I managed passed it to my sister as she was leaving to Batu Caves)

Picture 1
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The statue as it was unveiled – they had to use 2 cranes to lift the huge malai (flower garland) up the statue and placed it in the right way. Look closely at the feet of the statue and you will see something interesting. See the next picture below to see what is interesting

Picture 2
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The little kid dressed up as Lord Murugan standing at the feet of the statue – that’s gives some comparison of the real size of the statue

Picture 3
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In conjunction with the unveiling of the statue, various Indian Cultural activities were also held. My sister managed to get 2 of the cultural dancers to pose for the shot (ya, she did a better job than me on the camera). It is quite rare to see the peacock dance.

For more pictures, also see TV Smith
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(Filed under Del.icio.us Tag: Indians)
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