The largest protest in the world: India’s Farmers Protest by Anjeanette LeBoeuf

So much has happened since my last post. From the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, the GameStop Investment, the military coup of Myanmar, the 2nd Impeachment Trial and Republican Acquittal of Donald Trump, a catastrophic Artic Freeze of Texas, and other states, and the upcoming “no holding back, tell all” from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. But what I really want to focus on this month is on something that is struggling to maintain publicity and support despite its importance; The Farmer’s Protest/Strike in India.

Continue reading “The largest protest in the world: India’s Farmers Protest by Anjeanette LeBoeuf”

Look for the Helpers: The Sikh Community by Anjeanette LeBoeuf

AnjeanetteI struggled with what to write about for my May post. Would I write about the ridiculous notion which has countless Americans buying into the idea that COVID19 is a hoax? I could write about how it is fool hearty for us to even consider lifting stay at home orders when the number of infected patients are still rising daily. The list goes on due to the rising pressures, frustrations, and anxieties that are surrounding each one of us.

Yet what I really want to talk about is a shining example of the goodness and compassion of humanity. During times of utter sadness, fear, and the unknown, we need to keep talking about things that warm our hearts, remind us there is beauty and happiness in life. So, for the next few monthly posts of mine, I am going to be highlighting specific communities, organizations, and peoples that are doing extraordinary things during these uncertain and challenging times. The first community that I want to talk about is the Sikh Community.

Continue reading “Look for the Helpers: The Sikh Community by Anjeanette LeBoeuf”

The Modern Problematic Nature of the Sabarimala Temple, Part 2 by Anjeanette LeBoeuf

AnjeanetteThe Sabarimala Temple has received an influx of global attention since last October. In my last FAR post, I researched the origin story of the Sabarimala Temple and its dedicated deity, Ayyappan. Ayyappan’s unusual parentage and chosen attributes and patronage made him adverse to all forms of sexual activity and more importantly, not very keen in having female devotees.

Ayyappan, also known as Dharmasastha, is devoted to protecting the dharma, living a yogic life, and more importantly, a celibate life. Ayyappan demands that all his followers when undertaking his pilgrimage, take a vow of celibacy for the duration. No form of sexual impurity must enter Ayyappan’s Sabarimala temple. This is where the problematic elements really start to come to head. Due to the restriction of sexual impurities, females from the age of 10-50 are denied access, as their very biological state of being female, makes them sexually impure. Their ability to menstruate makes them vessels of this apparent sexual impurity that the god Ayyappan does not want. Continue reading “The Modern Problematic Nature of the Sabarimala Temple, Part 2 by Anjeanette LeBoeuf”

Part One: The God Ayyappan and The Sabarimala Temple by Anjeanette LeBoeuf

AnjeanetteThe Sabarimala Temple in Kerala, India has been recently thrown into the news. It has made world news due to the two centuries long tradition of denying females from the age of 10-50 entrance into the Temple. As of September 2018, the Indian Supreme Court ruled in favor of allowing women entrance into the Temple. Needless to say, this ruling was met by both large numbers of supporters and protestors.  But what makes the Sabarimala Temple so controversial?

Continue reading “Part One: The God Ayyappan and The Sabarimala Temple by Anjeanette LeBoeuf”

Glimpses of Women in India by Elizabeth Cunningham

Recently I traveled in India with my husband who did doctoral research there 48 years ago. I had no goals of my own other than to be open. Back only a short while, I am still pondering the journey. Here are glimpses of the women I saw, often only from a distance, with gratitude for so much kindness.

“Welcome to the City of Joy,” says our guide when we step out of the airport into the warm Calcutta night.  “You have arrived on Maha Shivaratri, the Great night of Shiva. This is especially a holiday for women. Every woman wants a husband like Shiva.”

Source: Alamy; used with permission

Continue reading “Glimpses of Women in India by Elizabeth Cunningham”

The Self is Not the Territory by Vibha Shetiya

VibhaAs a teenager, I grew up wondering where exactly I belonged. Aside from the confusion resulting from straddling two entirely different, perhaps even opposing, cultures, my main concern seemed to center on which country was I from – India or Zambia? Or was I inherently British because of an education and upbringing enveloped by things English – values, books, magazines, not to mention people? Was I American because I grew up on TV shows like Charlie’s Angles, Wonder Woman, Six Million Dollar Man and Dallas that played a major role in fashioning my idea of the world around me? Perhaps I was Zambian because I had been living in that part of the world since the age of one. Or maybe I was from India because that was after all the land of my birth, to where I returned as an utterly confused and disjointed teenager who believed she now had to be “Indian” even though I could not relate so much as an iota to my immediate surroundings.

Looking back, I realize I felt the need to identify my sense of self with nationality. Ultimately, I reasoned, I had to be Indian due to many factors. For one, I looked Indian; I was brown-skinned with black hair and dark brown eyes. I now lived in India amid Indian people, Indian values (oh, so confusing), Indian music and Indian TV shows. And I was “born” a Hindu. So there I was – an Indian Hindu and so had jolly well behave like one. Of course none of this came with a manual on what exactly being Indian or Hindu meant. And so I looked to people around me, people I loved and whose approval my teenage mind so craved, and decided being Indian meant being who they wanted me to be. After all, how many times had I heard the phrase – “You’re in India now, so be Indian.”  And then as an adult, I came to America accompanied by even more potential for confusion; at times I felt the need to cling to my “Indianness,” at other times, I wanted to jettison it for fear of being denied entry into the great melting pot. Continue reading “The Self is Not the Territory by Vibha Shetiya”

An Advent Journey by Victoria Rue

Victoria RueI decided to take the fall semester off from teaching.  I wanted to volunteer my abilities somewhere in the world.  With guidance from a friend and Volunteers in Global Service, I exchanged emails with Visthar: an Academy for Justice and Peace in Bengaluru, South India.  “Visthar” means open space.  What I discovered right away was that the work of Visthar dovetailed with my own: gender, sexuality, religion, education and theatre.

Visthar presents workshops on the intersection of gender, sexuality and religion to lgbtq activists, social workers, students, women pastors and inter-faith leaders. Within the trainings, Visthar asked me to offer a theatre workshop that allowed participants to creatively embody and strategize these issues.   Continue reading “An Advent Journey by Victoria Rue”

Why I Try to Stay Away From the Media by amina wadud

Amina Wadud 2 I am Muslim, by choice, practice and vocation

Recently a controversy broke out surrounding a University talk I was to give in Tamil Nadhu, here in India.  That visit was to include a workshop and several meetings, including one with the all women Jamaat or STEP – the first of its kind in the context of the male dominated personal status law scenario in India).

This is how the events unfolded:  Before I came to India last year, I began communications with various Non-Government Organizations on gender and justice in Islam and with academics or others related to the study of Islam.  At that time an invitation to visit Madras University was extended to me. It took the better part of the year to get the details sorted out.  Meanwhile, I traveled throughout India, spoke at about a dozen Universities and several community organizations (including mosques), and started a book club discussing reformist Islam with interested persons in Kerala. Continue reading “Why I Try to Stay Away From the Media by amina wadud”

From Bihar, India—The Thirteenth Sakyadhita Conference by Rita M. Gross

Rita GrossAbove and all around us is a blue and white stripped fabric tent, as, about 250 strong, we participants in Sakyadhita’s Thirteenth Conference on Buddhist Women, shiver in the cold, listening to a wide variety of papers about women and Buddhism.  We are meeting in Vaishali, in Bihar, India, at a Vietnamese nunnery that was recently founded at the place where Mahaprajapati, the first Buddhist nun, was ordained.   She is a great hero to many Buddhist women for her persistence about receiving formal ordination as a nun, thus founding an institution that has endured for some 2,500 years in various parts of Asia, and now in the West as well, so it is fitting that we should meet here.  The nunnery complex is still incomplete and under construction, which is one reason why we are meeting, essentially, in the outdoors.  The thin fabric walls over little protection from the coldest winter in north India in forty years.  That was not part of the planning for this event! So everyone, speakers and participants alike, wear all the layers of clothing we have, and cheerfully practice patience.  It is quite a sight! Continue reading “From Bihar, India—The Thirteenth Sakyadhita Conference by Rita M. Gross”

Through Body and Space: A Glimpse into Women Worshippers of Aadhi Parashakthi by Amy Levin

Once what happened was after people started believing someone around also started believing in this temple and one person kept a statue on their steps. Her Aunty she believed and she is very much interested in small things. So she started decorating it up. And what happened was the statue starting getting bleeding, like monthly monthly. And the dress which the statue wore during those periods was stained with red bleeding. So they asked Guruji about what is this and he said that the shakti has come into the statue. So if you keep this in the home it will turn into a temple so go and leave it outside. This was followed by entry of snakes, king cobras, so what they did was they went and left it in the sea, after which her grandmother had a dream that you have left me in the water but still I am with you. I am the temple opposite here,  put a lamp everyday at that place. So they started putting it out there, and now there is an earthen Kali which as come up in that place by nature.  –Interview with Premila, March 18, 2008 Continue reading “Through Body and Space: A Glimpse into Women Worshippers of Aadhi Parashakthi by Amy Levin”

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