Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Of Hindu Festivals & Broken Promises


To all me Hindu brothers & sisters, here's wishing you all a very Happy Vinayagar Chathurthi! May you & yer family receive the blessings of Lord Ganesha.

In light of this Hindu festival, might me just take the time to urge you to read the article below (from the Malaysian Insider). Yet more broken promises by the BN administration. Why they persist in making life difficult fer us on issues such as this is just beyond me. This kind of racial/religious chauvinism is what is costing them votes. Pakatan Rakyat, please take note. Do NOT REPEAT this kinda mistakes . . .

Ban on foreign Hindu priests and temple workers still in place despite govt promise
By Debra Chong

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 3 – More than three months down the road and with the government's promise to lift the ban on foreign Hindu priests and temple workers unfulfilled, the Malaysian Hindu Sangam is more than a little upset.

Its president, Datuk A. Vaithilingam yesterday issued a statement to the media to highlight what it considers a crisis of faith for the Hindu community in the country due to the lack of experienced priests and temple musicians.

"In April, it was announced that the government will lift the ban, but until today nothing has been done. That's why I made the statement," Vaithilingam told The Malaysian Insider when contacted over the phone.

He explained that he had bumped into the prime minister and the Minister of Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage, Datuk Shafie Apdal, at a pre-Independence Day muhibbah function in the city last Saturday, and reminded them that the ban was still in place.

Abdullah responded that he would get the Home Minister to look into the issue by Wednesday.

"I presume he meant the Wednesday Cabinet meeting," Vaithilingam sniffed.

Referring to his press statement, Vaithilingam pointed out that the government had dragged out the issue for far too long.

Despite the dearth of experienced locals to do the job, Abdullah's Cabinet had imposed a blanket ban on all Hindu priests and temple workers from India last December, which took almost immediate effect – all applications were rejected in January this year.

Following the Hindu Sangam's pleas, the Cabinet appeared to have lifted the order in April.

"In May 2008, the Minister for National Unity said that the matter had been resolved. In releases to the press in July 2008, the Human Resources Minister was quoted as saying that priests and temple musicians would be given three-year work permits," the press statement explained.

However, it also noted that on July 17, a represenative of the Internal Security Ministry at a meeting of the Inter Religious Committee of the National Unity Advisory Panel made an instructive comment.

"It appears that there is a perception that the Hindraf movement was supported by foreign priests! As President of the Malaysia Hindu Sangam, I was present at that meeting and corrected this misconception. As I will explain later, Hindu temple priests are too

busy in their work to be able to take part in any political activity."

Vaithilingam had thought he had hammered home the point to the prime minister in his keynote address at the 25th anniversary dinner of the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) on Aug 6.

Judging from the prime minister's reply last Saturday, Vaithilingam had thought wrong.

Asked if he did not think he was being inordinately hasty in publicly rebuking the government one day ahead of Abdullah's Wednesday deadline, Vaithilingam said: "I don't know.

The ball is in the prime minister's court."


ps: Would like to hear from you on what can be done to circumvent this problem.

23 comments:

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

But come to think of it, it’s a good thing that racism is very much alive and kicking within the party. It’ll then make their party bedfellows to finally finally realise their bosses’ true skin colour and ditch them. Ameno is like self-destructing themselves, planning their own downfall, thanks to people like that ahmad ismail guy and the lady from perak.

*hey, wishing you guys happy Vinayagar Chathurthi!. Forgive my ignorance boss, but this was the first time I heard of such celebration.

Mohan said...

AD Dude: What's Vinayagar Chathurthi?(Excuse this ignorant KarrupuSutu Vellakaran). Am an athiest anyway...but do respect the religion my parents(they believe) or others as a matter of fact.

About the question you posed. Really don't know! For some reason religion and race have become synonyms(although this is never right). From the Evangelicals Bush Empire to even Hindraf(I mean they're championing Malaysian Indian rights...why call yourself something associated with Hinduism). Read something about W.Moorty's visit to Tamil Nad. and him stirring everyone there based on religion as a ground as Malaysian Indian rights.

Perhaps we need more home grown trained priests(something like what there're doing stopping Islamic preachers from the Middle East/Pakistan with their harline stance of ethnic regional based understanding of religion and getting more local culturally accalmatised dudes to serve as Imams). Perhaps what we need is Hindu Sangam working hand in hand with the Government to preserve the sanctity of seperation of politics(State) and religion.. but can we?????
You take care, M.

anfield devotee said...

TQ Kerp. No worries, its a Hindu fest devoted to Lord Ganesha. It isn't a public holiday, so me won't expect many non-Hindus to be aware.

But you can always tell when a Hinudu fest is on the way when you see the flower vendors with extra stock & cars are double parked outside temples.

You are rite on the self-destruct thingie. But me worry is that so many Malaysians are so used to BN that they fear change.

Worse yet are all those people out there who refused to face up to the reality & still think everything is peachy. The apathy & reluctance to register when their constitutional rights are being trampled upon is incredible to say the least.

nanda666 said...

Foreign priest no longer exist in other sectarian religions in Malaysia and if they do, in rather small numbers. As someone who was born into the Hindu faith, I find it interesting to note that the number of local Malaysians capable of conducting ceremonies in our temples (In Sanskrit) is almost nil.
The Malaysians that practice the hindu faith have not taken the initiative to be able to do these ceremonies themselves yet blame the goverment for restricting entry of foreigners for this purpose.
If the Malaysian Hindus insist that the priest have to be of the higher caste Brahmins, then they really have another thing coming in terms of caste discrimination, right?
How to overcome?

1. Do the ceremonies in a language you understand and get your family members to do them. (Elders)
2. Music...hmmm...CD la....or use students from the traditional music classes.

Done. No need foreign priest, no unnessessary high prices of ceremonies (yup...hindu ceremonies are BIG bucks events nowadays!!) and no complaints about goverment and religious issues.

anfield devotee said...

Mohan: Well, Vinayar Chathurthi in simplistic terms is to celebrate the "birth" of Lord Ganesha, the GREAT remover of obstacles.

Anyways, you make a very good point about having locally trained priests. However, me thinks the problem is that very few are willing to take up priesthood. Have come across a few but not many. Me thinks perhaps Hindu Sangam should start a training programme & get youths to take this up as a viable career.

As fer the Hindu Sangam working closely with the Govt. Yes, they do try. But as usual, they are ignored & treated as a minor irritant. As the report indicates, the govt just don't see them as important & are intent on making life as difficult as they can fer us Hindus.

And before anyone says we have the right to practice our religion & you see Hindu temples everywhere, please note the govt of today is very much bent on reversing this trend. (See conversion cases, body snatching & again the report in posting).

As fer Hindraf, someone had to stand up. Agree or diasgree, it had to do with being IGNORED by BN & MIC fer far too long.

As fer over the top pronouncements, well . . . you know la us Indians . . . all a bit emotional type la . . . what to do . . .

Have a good day.

ps: Yer thoughts on LFC (soon to be) eclipsed by Man City?

anfield devotee said...

nanda: good points. Me is worse off being unable to speak Tamil even. So it was GREAT that the Sivan kuil near me house is headed by a LOCAL ENGLISH speaking priest.

Agree totally with you on CASTE issue. But you know that's NOT why BN are hindering the entry of priests from India.

But good points. And to take yer point further, maybe the Hindu Sangam should offer classes to train locals with traditional Indian instruments. Ask parents to send their children to these classes instead of the Electone @ Yamaha!!!

Anba said...

What a coincidence balaji,
last week i heard the local temple priest was discussing this same issue
he is a brahmin priest..but the issue is not that simple...
My family friend is a trained a priest bro...and he himself was saying that it's not easy to make a living becoming a priest...
Yes you can train locals to become priest same with the nadaswaram ppl and all...but the money money made is not enough
No epf, no bonus, what happens when you have lkids and all
...
who's paying the moolah..from temple donation and all? not enough bro...

you wont get many ppl unless they are really dedicate in doing a lifetime service to good...
In india they already have established gurukkal institution and all so logically they can employ these ppl...
but the gomen stance is quite double standard...when we hear all the robberies committed by indons..vietnamese and all...why dont they ban them...
why pick on temple ppl..?
Regarding the hindraf...it emerged as Hindu rights b'coz the way they systematically targeted the destruction of temples which irked many...

Anyway happy vinayagar chaturthi friends...
Aum Maha Ganaphatiye Namaha...

k_saegaran said...

Dude, i doubt that the priests brought in are from 'higher' caste. Being a hindu priest is a way of life. How many of us Malaysians of Indian origin would dedicate their lifes to the temples? Normally its passed on from a generation to another in a family. They are thought sanskrit mantras from a very young age. You can't change the mantras as with the Quran which is read and written in Arabic.
I've met some Malaysian priests who went to India to deepen their knowledge in Hindu rituals and mantras, on their own expence. I would suggest to MHS to start looking for young Malaysians who want to dedicate their lives to temples and send them to India. At least we'll be self efficient in the long run. thats the priest part at least. How about the sculpturs for temple renovations?

anfield devotee said...

anba: Yes, very good points as well. No epf & other benefits means a very difficult existence.

segar: Yes, again, very good points, especially with regards to temple sculptors. These artisans are very hard to come by & me seriously doubts that you will find anyone here willing to undergo long years of apprenticeship.

Pls note that these artisans have also been blocked from entering the country. The message is clear, it is to stop us from building more temples.

Nanda: Response?

Anba said...

Found this interesting article on Wikipedia...
Mayb this explains HINDRAFs motive...
n 1893, Lokmanya Tilak, an Indian nationalist, social reformer and freedom fighter reshaped the annual Ganesh festival from private family celebrations into a grand public event. [1] It is interesting to note that the festival was not celebrated in a public manner until this time but was a family affair among Hindus, who used to celebrate it in a traditional manner.

Lokamanya Tilak visualized the cultural importance of this deity and popularised Ganesha Chaturthi as a National Festival "to bridge the gap between the Brahmins and the non-Brahmins and find an appropriate context in which to build a new grassroots unity between them" in his nationalistic strivings against the British in Maharashtra.[2][3]

Tilak chose Ganesha as a rallying point for Indian protest against British rule because of his wide appeal as "the god for Everyman".[4] [5] It was an important festival during the Peshwa rule in Maharashtra, but acquired a more organized form all over India during the Swaraj movement (Freedom struggle).

Tilak was the first to install large public images of Ganesha in pavilions, and he established the practice of submerging all the public images on the tenth day[6]. The festival facilitated community participation & involvement in the form of learned discourses, dance dramas, poetry recital, musical concerts, debates, etc. It served as a meeting ground for common people of all castes and communities, in a time when social & political gatherings were forbidden by the British Rule to exercise control over the population.

anfield devotee said...

anba: Tq sir on that. Very informative.

Achilles said...

AD: My opis seems to have banned yer site.. so me can't access it there. only from home. that sucks. now i have to actually do work when i sit in front of my PC.

Anyway, i think a lot of people got good points, but i think for me, the easiest one is boot these fooks off the govt. Simple... besides this, many other problems will be solved as well.

anfield devotee said...

achilles: Time to invest in a i-phone . . . hee hee

While everyone here has posted very good points, please let us not lose sight of the fact that BN has gone back on its WORD.

Achilles said...

AD: Yes... and this is not the first the first time they have lied.

Oh BTW, guess what, i seem to be able to access yer blog again. Yahooo... this way i look like i am always at my PC and busy at work.

nanda666 said...

to tell you honestly...I seriously doubt the existanse of GOD!!
So any discussion about it is just a waste of time.
AD: Continue your political discussion. And would be nice to hear your take on the belief in religion. (Since you come across so strongly about your believe in everyone needing to register to vote.....I feel just as strongly that anyone who believes in this "ONE Supreme being controlling everthing" type of GOD idea totally crap...)
So YES AD...I would strongly suggest you quit that concept too!!! hehehehe!!!

anfield devotee said...

Nanda666: Oh nice to see you talk big here in cyberspace ah dude . . . how come you didn't object during the temple wedding ceremony in front of yer folks . . . Would have loved to see yer dad's reaction at his son's proclamation . . . hee hee . . .

And dude, yer atheist take of things is yer right. Me will NOT force anyone into religious beliefs. However, me finds great solace & comfort in my religion.

Sorry if that offends you but hey, tough dude . . .

nanda666 said...

My point exactly....maybe some people find solace & comfort in not getting involve in "politics linked issues" too. (Yes Yes...got the point on petrol prices are not political!!)
So just like I have no right to tell you to be an atheist....don't you think maybe..just maybe...you don't have a right to insist that those who don't vote are WRONG????
(The same way that I don't say you are wrong to have your beliefs???)

And for the record...My wedding was in the spirit of indian culture..not religion...and was planned by me....not a parent influenced choice...my dad is fully supportive of my view.(He just finished reading my book "In GOD we doubt" by John Humprey and is currently reading "The GOD Delusion" by Richard Dawkins.)

anfield devotee said...

Nanda: You seem you think yer smarty pants analogy apply to everything.

Sorry but me has news fer you la. Yer religious beliefs are between you & whatever God or non-god you choose to believe in.

Democratic responsibilities are just that! Responsibilities! Why do you think it is a punishable offence to NOT vote in Australia?

And to neglect yer responsibilites at such a crucial juncture is criminal. And me chooses to bang the war drum LOUDLY. So what if pisses off a few people, me happens to think it is worth it. Especially if you are able to convince others to join up.

Go ahead dude, sit there & do fook all then. Why did you bother writing about the overloaded ferry? By yer logic, don't you think it was the ferry owner & other passenger's right to decide if it was a risk they wanted to make?

Fook you lar, not happy, get off & take the next ride.

But you saw it as yer RESPONSIBILITY to do something, rite. Yet you want to chastise me fer trying to do the same with trying to bring about a change? Yer ferry ride was life threathening. Well guess what, ISA & the soon-to-be passed DNA Bill are also life threathening.

Go figure . . .

nanda666 said...

Sorry Bala but I disagree....I CHOSE to write...it was NOT my responsibility!!

anfield devotee said...

nanda: Diasagree all you like but me thinks yer line of reasoning is skewered!

You see all me campaigning to get people registered is MY DEMOCRATIC RIGHT. People are FREE to ignore me protestations as some have or better yet, tell me to FOOK OFF as others have.

Tis a risk me is willing to make. Coz me believes it is fer a BETTER MALAYSIA. Am willing to lose a few so-called "friends" if that what it takes.

And the end of the day, no matter what me says, me CANNOT force a person to REGISTER. Still down to him or her. Me is NOT holding a gun to anyone's head? All me screaming & shouting is just that . . . NOISE!

"Solace in NOT getting involved in political issues" (WTF!!??!!). Yup, as you said, non-political issues like petrol is one. Inflation another.
But that's just like saying some people find great solace in being pissed all the time, don't make it right does it?

As fer you "choosing" to write, well . . . that's not how me understood it when you spoke on the phone bout how OTHERS did FOOK ALL . . . Then fine la, don't complain bout other who CHOSE not to voice their concern over the SAFETY of the ferry (?!!?!!).

What you did was to be a RESPONSIBLE citizen & me applaud you fer that. But to try & say it was a matter of choice just fer the sake of argument is pretty fooking PEDANTIC la . . .

Achilles said...

wow... what a heated debate.

nanda666 said...

Quote

But that's just like saying some people find great solace in being pissed all the time, don't make it right does it?

Unquote

Hmmm......I can name a few people like that.....

anfield devotee said...

Yerself issit?

He he . . . bloody alco . . .