SINGAPORE, April 17, 2017 (The Statesman): The Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple, perched along Serangoon Road, has welcomed people from all walks of life since it first opened its doors in 1855. Indian immigrants, British colonial rulers, devotees of Lord Vishnu, tourists and Singaporeans have all gathered, admiring the place of worship.
At the weekends, the temple bursts into life with about 2,000 devotees gathering for prayers. During the Thaipusam festival, between January and February each year, thousands of Hindus and non-Hindus gather along Serangoon Road to watch a procession of worshippers walk nearly 4 miles from the temple to the Sri Thendayuthapani Temple in Tank Road. "About 10,000 devotees carry elaborate kavadis and milk pots, and on Thaipusam day, we get around 30,000 onlookers from friends to family and curious onlookers," said K. Vellayappan, 72, chairman of the temple management committee.
The temple was built in 1855 after a group of Indian community leaders purchased the land for about 26 rupees (50 cents today) from the British East India Company. To get to the old temple in the 1950s, known as Narasinga Perumal Kovil, devotees had to walk along a narrow lane that ran through a garden. When the temple was reconstructed in 1966, its chief deity was changed from the lion-headed avatar, Narasimha Perumal, to Srinivasa Perumal. The temple was also renamed accordingly.
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If you desire the world, you may try to renounce it in order to escape sorrow. Instead, renounce desire! Then you will be free of sorrow, and the world will not trouble you.
-- Ashtavakra Gita 16.9
THAILAND, April 19, 2017 (The Asian Age): Last week's full moon, dubbed the "Pink Purnima" by a Indian bistro in Bangkok, marked the Vernal Equinox and New Year celebrations: Vilambi in Tamil Nadu, Vaisakhi in Punjab, Bikram Sambat in Kathmandu and Songkran, Thailand's Holi. Public squares hosted water parties with live bands, overhead sprinklers, water cannons and buckets, which spared neither pedestrian nor motorist.
Songkran derives from the Sanskrit word Samkranti, "astrological passage," which denotes transformation. Songkran evolved from India's Makar Sankranti January harvest festival, which aligns with the Buddhist/Hindu solar calendar, thus Songkran is both an astrological passage and symbolic of the evolution of spiritual practice. Across Thailand water parties blend with ceremonial merit making: bathing Buddha images, honoring relics of ancestors, pouring water over senior relatives and monks. The Indian embassy invited Bangkok residents to pay special New Year homage by making floral offerings and pouring water on the nine Navagraha celestial Hindu deities enshrined at the National Museum's Samranmukhamat Pavilion for the three-day holiday.
Throughout Thailand seeds of India are seen in language, astrology, ritual and art, fertilized in the rich soil of Thai magic and folklore, refined to perfection in the Ayutthayan period, still potent in the 21st century. The Mahabharata tells of how Brahma was cursed that his worship would die in India, and so it did, but Brahma now dwells in Thailand, alongside Lord Buddha. Every mall, bank, hotel and home has a shrine to Phra Phrom, Lord Brahma, whose four heads offer specific blessings and are daily worshipped with flowers, incense, fruits and candle flames. The rites and symbols of Siamese kingship evolved from ancient India, Thai government buildings are adorned with red Garudas, the emblem of the Chakri Dynasty, an 800-year-old lineage established in the 12th century by the Kingdom of Sukhothai.
JAKARTA, INDONESIA, April 20, 2017 (White House Press Release): Today, Vice President Mike Pence participated in an interfaith dialogue with faith leaders of Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, and Confucianism at the conclusion of his tour of the Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta, Indonesia. Vice President Pence expressed appreciation to Indonesia for its shared commitment to religious freedom and reaffirmed that the United States will continue to defend this fundamental freedom, at home and abroad.
The list of dialogue participants included, in part: Dr. Nasarudin Umar, Grand Imam of Istiqlal Mosque; Rev. Dr. Henriette-Lebang, General Chairperson, Communion of Churches in Indonesia (CCI/PGI); KS Arsana - Chairman for International Affairs, Parisada Hindu Dharma Indonesia (PHDI); Dr. Uung Sendana L. Linggaraja, General Chairman of Supreme Council of Confucian, Religion in Indonesia (MATAKIN); Prof. Dr. Philip Wijaya, Former Secretary General, Indonesian Buddhists Association (Walubi).
Devotion to the satguru is the one main prescription. Without this, all learning, all austerity, family status and observances are useless. They are only decorations, pleasing to the worldly eye.
-- Kularnava Tantra