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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Tamil Movie Review: Angadi Theru


(The story of the lifeline of a saree shop and story of lovers all in one neat package. Image source: IndiaGlitz)

I wonder why really good Tamil movies always seem to have tragic endings.

Just take Vennila Kabadi Kuzhu for example – brilliantly made movie but the ending was tragic, despite the underdogs winning the final match, the main character ends up dead and the beautiful heroin is left looking for her love for the rest of the life. Tragic indeed!

Then we have Angadi Theru – story of youngsters working in a saree shop in Chennai. And the story made more sense to us especially after we had returned from a shopping trip in Chennai. I regret not smiling and saying kind words to the tired looking saree sales people. Life is not as rosy as it appears to be – work is tough, getting on to the next day is tougher.

Acted by a rather unknown people, Angadi Theru is one well made movie, revolving in the usual activities of the saree sales people and their life outside the work. The director, Vasanthabalan executed the right moves to bring the story from the village where the hero loses his father to a tragic accident and had to cut short on his studies and forced to work in a saree shop to ensure his family gets enough money to survive.

Veiled within the main story is the side stories which is interesting too – the story about the people who make their living selling small items around the saree shop, the policemen who takes bribes from the people around shop, the saree shop owner who maintain a iron claw on things that is happening in and outside his saree shop and sadist like section leaders who is kind to customers but harsh on the workers.

One thing I like about Mahesh who plays the main character, Jyothi is on how simple and natural he is. He can be mistaken for a real saree sales person. Pandi playing the lovable character, Marimuthu provides the bulk of the laugh in the movie and also acts as the main character’s close friend. Anjali plays the heroin, Kani in this movie – she first dislikes Jyothi and gets him in serious trouble and this causes Jyothi to take revenge, only to realise that the punishment that Kani got was too severe. Jyothi stands up for Kani and both ends up loving each other. But love is the dirty word in the saree shop especially after Kani’s friend commits suicide in front of the saree shop.

Angadi Theru also features 2 well known music directors – Vijay Antony and G V Prakash. Although in general, quality of music is nothing to shout about (unlike Yuvan’s Paiyaa), the movie has one good composition (by Vijay Anthony) titled “Aval Appadi Onrum” – well picturised and with thoughtful lyrics. You need to listen to the words carefully to appreciate the meaning of the song.

In short, Angadi Theru packs a strong storyline (which make sense) even though, I must admit that some of the scenes are shown at the extreme but we will never know how true it is.

Final say

The plus points: Storyline, realism, moral of the story, camera work

The negative points: The ending (even though both characters are alive and working on getting back on their feet)

(Click here for other movie reviews)

Chennai Trip – Part 4


Read:-

Prologue
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

What happens if you are in Chennai and have just enough time to do one thing, what do you do?

The answer is shopping!

Well…err…no, it is not true if because you ask me, I would have a very tough time between sleeping and eating. Why waste all the energy on shopping? But since my wife and her sister were in town, we had no choice but to opt for shopping instead. It was time for the ladies.

Despite planning to leave to T.Nagar (the heart of saree shopping) early in the morning, we ended leaving the apartment late in the afternoon – at the start of the peak hours (it was a working day and we preparing to go when office workers would be returning home). Timing was certainly not good but we were in India and seem to be affected by Indian time as well.

To make things slightly more “complicated”, my brother-in-law decided to dress up in more western style – short pants, bright socks and sports shoe. Looking at him at the apartment entrance reminded me of a joke by good buddy, Alex – the joke of the Chinaman going to Indian banana leaf restaurant and price of all dishes goes up with immediate effect (the joke came after we realised the price goes up at our favourite banana leaf restaurant when our Chinese friends join in. The joke stuck with us whenever we go to any banana leaf restaurant).

(The clue that tells the locals that we are foreigners here, making us an easy target for hiked up fares and price)

The auto price to travel from the apartment to T.Nagar was about Rs80 but the auto driver seeing my brother-in-law dressing up quoted Rs200! And there were 5 of us meaning we needed to take 2 autos – easy Rs400 burn. When we tried to argue with the auto driver, the normal excuse given was traffic jam and that some roads are now made into one way street (meaning they need to take a longer route) but all that was just a sorry excuse to squeeze money from us. We tried several other autos but the price was still high.

We then managed to stop one auto driver who wiling to take all 5 of us in one auto (he said if you guys can squeeze in, he has no problem) and he quote Rs150. It was a done deal since even with Rs80; it would have cost us Rs160 for 2 autos. We somehow managed to squeeze in which instantly became roadside entertainment to the locals – 4 grown-ups and 1 excited kid trying to squeeze into the small passenger compartment. We were holding to our dear life as the auto driver started to take several short cuts to beat the peak hours and reach T.Nagar in 20 minutes time.

T.Nagar was something like our Bukit Bintang or the Petaling Street. It was one of the MAIN shopping areas in Chennai and virtually surrounded by saree and jewellery shops. Our target was the saree shops and there is plenty of good names around – Sri Kumaran, Potties, Nallis, Saravana Stores, etc (a branch can be found in Little India, Klang or Penang, Malaysia).

(One of the many saree shops in the area – after the time passes, the crowd just get bigger and bigger)

Shopping for sarees was not exactly our cup of tea for the guys – so me and the big boss decided to sit down near one of the “more deserted” counters and see the busy shoppers doing their shopping. It was not Deepavali but it was still hell at the saree shops – the crowd at the entrance hardly moved and too hands was scrambling for the one piece of good saree on the table. The staff behind counters looked like some forced labourer from some Nazi concentration camp – extremely tired but can do nothing. I have seen them taking down several rolls of sarees but the potential customer takes one look and decides to try at another place and the staff have to tidy up the place again within seconds before attending to another customer. There was no time to stop and look patiently at the sarees – the crowd keep pushing you to the side. Thankfully the places where we went for shopping, there was space for us to stand aside and choose the better selection (too many to choose from).

(Inside Chennai’s Pottis – the crowd is less at places where sarees are sold at high price)

Me and my son just stood aside and watched the crowd and there was an interesting mix of it. There were people from the work, stopping by to buy clothes for work and family, people from outstation coming in with a large crowd just to buy clothes for some important function, tourists trying their hands on the local fashion and of course, Malaysians digging in for good, cheap stuff.

When we are inside the shops, we hardly kept watch of the time and the sound that was emanating from our empty stomachs. Only once we had decided to call it a day, we had realised that it was dark on the outside (but there was no let down in the number of the crowd shopping) and we were very hungry. It was time to look for a good, clean restaurant (or here in Chennai, they call it hotels) to have our late night dinner. My brother-in-law, who took charge as the “team leader”, asked around and many fingers pointed to a dark, deserted looking alley.

I did not like the looks of it but we decided to walk towards the alley, hoping for the best. We walked a couple of pace when we noticed a nice restaurant. The locals know the best. We walked in – the interior was dim but the service was top-class. The food was reasonably priced but perhaps due to the dimness of the interior lights, level cleanliness looked questionable.

To be continued in Part 5…

Chennai Trip – Prologue


Just returned from a holiday cum shopping cum fact-finding trip from Chennai, India…

(Chennai is the capital of Tamil Nadu – The Land of the Tamils. Image source: Wikipedia)

India – I have been fascinated with this country, long before a moron shouted “if you don’t like, go back to India” (this moron of course did not appreciate the fact that our “motherland” is Malaysia and it will be so no matter what happens).

India has been a fascination to me ever since I read about early civilisation during my History classes (back in the days when history was more interesting and was not so distorted). The fact that Hinduism was “the” religion of the nation before Islam took a foot hold do say something about the travels and influence of the kingdoms of the ancient India in the early years of the country.

When I visited Iran, I was excited to find that Iran means Aryans – the same Aryans who ventured down from the north and assimilated with the people of the ancient India. And don’t forget the Dravidian who been residing in the south and where the majority of the Tamilian in Malaysia originated from.

So, I have been holding out on visiting India for sometime now – I just needed the right time (and company). When I got a call from my brother in law who planned for a week trip to Chennai for shopping (mainly) and short travels to temples and food adventures, I hardly hesitated.

We looked forward to visit the various ancient temples but more importantly to shop for dirt cheap sarees, clothes and herbal medicines (we were surprised to see just how much the clothes were marked up when it reached Malaysian shores).

We had managed to save up for this trip and we even managed to get free accommodation and food, courtesy of a distant Indian relation who was happy to have us as their guests.

To be continued in Part 1…