Sociable

My First Ever Christmas Do !

Posted by Lakshmi
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This update was to have been put up last week but didn't have time ....................


Tuesday, 20th December





I've been married to a Catholic for 23 year  and all these years,  Christmas celebrations were always held at my sisters-in-law homes . And I have five of them  , my husband being the only son  with his 5 sisters.   Being  the only   Hindu among my husband's family , it was customary  for me to  join them in their homes for the Christmas celebrations every year.  Of course,  my kids and I  put up the Christmas tree  in our home , visit all the shopping malls to admire the beautiful Christmas trees,  play Jingle Bells until I  can actually  see  Santa Claus  dashing through my front door in his one horse open  sleigh ( don't ask me how )    and have a fabulous time baking  gingerbread men cookies  for my kids ( I still do ) .  In short, I always had a terrific time during Christmas, enjoying all the fun and festivities without any added  responsibility of   actually cooking  and organising  a  family Christmas lunch.  You know  how it is,  when you don't have to do spring cleaning , cook all the stuff and set table for guests, etc., etc...   you  just arrive at their doorstep with a goodie bag of cakes and cookies, join the celebrations and don't have to do the washing and cleaning afterwards ?    Well, that's what I had been doing all these 22 years ( read my earlier Christmas blogpost  ).

Until now


It just came out of the blue and even now I'm in a kind of daze. Imagine me, a Hindu  organising a Christmas lunch in my home ?  For all my Catholic sisters-in-law and their spouses and children ? Why ! I never thought that it would happen!  It's such an important celebration for Catholics and Christians alike and I'm in charge of the Christmas Day celebrations  for this year ?  Holy Lembu !!

Well, after the initial  stun-gun effect wore off, I sat down  with my trusty   lieutenants  (my  son and daughter la  ) and told them ( no room for discussion here !) that we should make this Christmas celebrations the best ever that they've ( my in-laws )  had for a long time.  Ya, ya , ya, the moaning and the groaning of extra cleaning chores , washing dishes, etc ., followed for sure.  I would have been  more surprised if there wasn't !


For starters, it so happened that we had to buy a new Christmas tree this year  ( our old faithful tree had to be disposed off after years of  service )  So now we have a brand new Christmas tree  (   bought it from Bangsar Village II ) to show off.  I've given my old collection of pine cones ( which I had painstakingly collected during my stay at Bukit Tinggi Resort a few yeas ago ) a good washing  and gave them a new lease of life in a rattan basket .

 My children's collection of  the Snow White's 7 dwarfs have been arranged under the tree and the large flower pot which  I use as a side table has been moved near  the Christmas tree.



 

( its one of those pics which I can't seem to edit to make it upright, so readers will just have to strain your necks to the left ..... ooooopsssss

It was a nightmare cleaning the house and as the days got nearer the house got messier right up to the eve.  In the midst of this mess, my daughter wanted us to go to Ikea/Curve for shopping. And so, we took an early morning drive, ( my typical son came under duress or no Christmas gifts under the tree for him ) walked and trudged  and walked  and lumbered through both outlets with our arms aching and feet limping from blisters .  Suffice to say that I won't miss these outlets till probably next year. 

One of the most irritating thingy  was when I decided to purchase a  glass cyclinder vase.  There was no price tag on any of the cylinders which came in 3 sizes, large, medium and small.  Looked under all the cylinders and couldn't find a single pricetag offer or signages. Went looking around for a sales rep  in the awful congested place and  of course, when you need them you can't find them or they don't want to be found..............  Then went searching for a pricetag meter and it  so so happens that it would be tucked in the opposite far side from where you are., hang on, that wasn't the end.  The meter was out of order..  Would you really  believe it ?  Holy Lembu !!   I must have looked like a red blimp about to explode because  my daughter and son took one look at me and steered straight away to the paying  counter. 

Having to stick to my budget and not knowing whether I could afford the  purchase  of all 3 sizes ( together with the inevitable unplanned and  extra  purchases I had made )  I reluctantly chose the medium sized one to the counter, which queue was almost snaking till the  candles isle,  and waited in line  , shifting the pressure on my  legs every 5 minutes till it came to my turn.  After tallying all my other  purchases,  the cashier finally keyed in the  tag for the glass  cylinder and told me coolly that the cylinders are sold in sets of 3 only and  how much was the cost ?    

  RM69.90 .   Well, could she send the roller skater boys to bring the other 2 sizes as there was no such info when I saw them ?     " Ehhh, no, it will take too much time " 


Urrrrrggggg, how I wished I could have dumped the cylinder onto her head !



Happy reading and painting

Lakshmi

Ps: More pics to come later

Why Hindus Have Many 'Gods'

Posted by Lakshmi
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Wednesday 14 December 2011



This blogpost is a continuation to  my  previous blog write-up - WISE MEN HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY, FOOLS HAVE TO SAY THING! where I had written that I would explain why Hindus  seem to have many ' Gods'.


I  am not an expert in Hinduism  and I still have much to learn about my religion.  Philosophers, saints and sages have spent lifetimes discussing and pondering  on the many facets of Hinduism and as such, I can only explain with what limited knowledge I know.


Some of the basic tenets of Hinduism are :

Who founded Hinduism

Hinduism is not a religion per se and is actually a way of life. It has been in existence about 4000 years ago from the Indus civilisation in India, which is also the oldest civilization on earth.      Unlike the  People of the Book, Hinduism has no founder or author and it is so ancient that no one knows the source of Hinduism 

The Holy Books in Hinduism

There are 4 primary and sacred scriptures called   ' The Vedas'.  Scholars have determined the Vedas  were composed about 1500 BC  namely the  Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Atharva Veda.  "  The Upanishads "   are a continuation of the Vedic philosophy, and were written between 800 and 400 B.C. They elaborate on how the soul (Atman) can be united with the ultimate truth (Brahman) through contemplation and meditation, as well as the doctrine of Karma-- the cumulative effects of a persons' actions.

The Vedas and Upanishads are an extensive collection of scriptures and philosophical texts  relating to  hymns,  incantations, rituals, spirituality and worship in ancient India  .  It details the divine duties of our earthly life  and  our soul's relationship to GOD.  Hindus believe that at the highest level , GOD  and  Soul   are one and inseparable whereas Western faiths maintain that Creator and creation are eternally distinct.

Incidently, there are also 2 great epics in Hinduism, the Mahabaratha and Ramayana

The longest story  in the world is the Mahabaratha ( 100,000 verses)  which tells the story of rivalry between the 5  Pandava brothers  and the 100  Kauravas which ends with the war at Kurukshetra, India  ( modern day Haryana)

The Sanskrit epic of   Ramayana  tells the story of Rama, whose wife, Sita, is abducted by the demon king of Lanka, Ravana .  There are many versions of Ramayana- the  Indonesion, Philippines, Laos, Thai, Burmese, Malay and others.

 How  Hindus view other religions

Hindus do not proselytise, meaning we do not convert members of other faiths.  Proselytisation or conversion is based upon the belief that  only  one's religion is the only true religion and everyone else is secondary, so others  should join it.  In the present  world environment, Christianity and Islam  subscribe to this view.

Hindus  hold the view that all faiths are beneficial and  that it is not necessary nor possible for everyone to hold the same faith .  An ancient Sanskrit verse summarizes the Hindu attitude:

As the different streams, having their sources in different places, all mingle their water in the sea, so O Lord, the different paths which men take through different  faiths, various though they appear, all lead to Thee ".  

Thus, Hindus  honor  and respect all religious traditions and the people within them.  The Hindus' motto is simply " Live and Let Live "




Why do some Hindu Gods have animal features


In dreams and visions, the inner-plane beings have revealed themselves to mankind in many forms expressing many powers.  Some appear human and others like  Lord Ganesha, have elephant  features. 

Hinduism is not alone in having Divinities with animal attributes.  This is a common link to all ancient faiths .  The Greeks worshipped the God Pan , half goat half human and the Sea God Ichthyocentaurs ( human head and torso with horse legs and serpentine tails of fish ).  The Egyptian God  of the Underworld, Anubis ( falcon head ) the Sun God, Ra,  Thoth, the God of Wisdom and Moon ( Ibis head) Bastet, his consort was in the form of cat or lioness.  The Meso-american people worshiped Quetzalcoatl, a feathered serpent.  The Assyrians , the powerful serpent Goddess Tiamat.  In Japan where Buddhism and Shintoism are intertwined, they pray to  Kitsune the fox and Tengu the bird man . Many shrines are guarded by a pair of magical lion-dogs - the Koma-inu or Shishi.  Even Christians have half human half bird winged angels called Cherubims... and in early Christianity, there were gargoyle statues as part of the Church architecture


Over the centuries, with the coming of the monotheistic religions and their   prominence,  the old Gods have been put in exile. Only in Hinduism does such worship thrive in unbroken continuity .  Food for  thought - Aren't we humans too( scientifically )   supposed to have evolved from homo sapiens , an animal specie ?

Why do Hindus cremate the dead

Hindus traditionally cremate ( burn) the dead  within 24 hours because a fiery dissolution of the body brings faster  and more complete release of the soul than burial, which preserves the soul's psychic connection to its earthly life.  After death, the departed soul hovers close to the earth plane and is emotionally attached to its physical body  and surroundings and is still able to see the material world.    The funeral rites and burning the body signify its spiritual release and notifies  the soul that death has come.  Some of the mantras chanted directs the  deceased  soul  to relinquish its attachments and continue its spiritual journey. The body is thus disposed of swiftly and cleanly as possible  as fire is the purest way to return the physical body back to its element source

Hindus belief in reincarnation - that death is merely the soul's release from the current life to another.    That's why we say " passed away " .   After  it  has taken  its journey to the inner worlds, the soul will reincarnate into a new identity/birth  in accordance to its karma .( Many Lives, Many Masters by Dr Brian Weiss/ Children Who Remember Previous Lives by Dr Ian Stevenson , Old Souls, Scientific Evidence of Past Lives  by Tom Shroder are some of the scientific and evidence based  publications  )

Why Hindus Have Many Gods


In the Hindu tradition and lore, the Trinities of Brahma ( the Creator) Vishnu ( the Preserver) and Shiva ( the Destroyer) are seen as different Gods.  But in actuality, they are all the many  manifestations of ONE SUPREME  ABSOLUTE BRAHMAN .   Hindus regard all things sacred  and every aspect of divinity is worshiped.  To a Hindu, everything in this world is a creation of GOD  and  they  see everything as an aspect and manifestation of GOD - thus the  many gods and goddess.  Although this seems  puzzling to someone looking from the outside, to a Hindu, this is a very simple concept.   A simple analogue to explain this clearly would be gold.  If we wear gold  on our finger, it is called a ring, when worn on the hand, it's called bangles or bracelet, if worn on the ear, it's called a earring , put on our necks, it's called a chain, etc., They are all from the same material  but given different names when used differently.  Thus the ONE SUPREME ABSOLUTE BRAHMAN manifests in myriad forms for the understanding of the common man.  It's like the relationship between the Sun and its rays. We cannot experience the sun itself but we can experience its rays and the qualities, which those rays have. And, although the sun’s rays are many, ultimately, there is only one source, one sun.

So, though from the outside it looks like Hinduism has many Gods, the Hindus also  understand their faith well and ultimately believe in the ONE SUPREME ABSOLUTE BRAHMAN  which has  many forms and names.


I have given a very  simplified explaination on Hinduism without going into too much details and readers  are free to raise questions or give their interpretations to the above.


 Happy reading and painting


Lakshmi 





 Some  excerpts were taken from the following source

Hinduism Today
Hinduism - Belief & Practices  Prof Jeaneane  Fowler, University of  Wales,Newport
The Many Facets of Hinduism (John Albers -eHow magazine )
Sacred - Text & Archives.com

Wise Men Have Something to Say, Fools Have To Say Something

Posted by Lakshmi
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Sunday, 4  December 2011


In order to understand  the reason for my write-up today, you have to  do yourself a favour and click on the link given below ( an online new portal - Malaysian Insider  ).  Then read  the article by Hafidz Baharom  entitled " Is our  faith so brittle " otherwise you'd be all blinky dinky  and  would have no inkling of what this is all about .

I had recently linked an  article written  by Hafidz Baharom  




Having read the article and finding Hafidz Baharom's view a refreshing piece of critical thinking , intellectually stimulating and news worthy, I then  linked it to my facebook. .  The following were the  comments based on that article which  I  had posted on my wall and the reply/remarks by my good friend   Datin Zaleha Shamsuddin


I so hope more of Hafidz Baharom are out there and zilch of Ahmad Maslan . Dear GOD, make Malaysia safe again.



Zaleha Shamsuddin Which of your gods, knowing you have so many.


This is my reply to her



Dear Datin Zaleha Shamsuddin

We have been good friends for some years now and sharing the same age,  month and year of birth had made our friendship more meaningful  .  Added to the fact that you were a devout Muslim and seeing you fulfilling your religious obligations conscientiously with great effort (  despite going through trying times with regards to your  family matters and poor health )  I held you in high regard and had valued our friendship. There were many a time when your strong opinions on matters were very different from mine but I did not pursue them as I was and still am of the view that everyone   of us has a right to express our views  ( like I always say, " to each her/his own " ) so long as we don't hurt or offend others' sensitivities   In that regard,  our different faiths and  religious idealogy had never given us any issues in the past  and we had even on some occasions.  discussed our different religious philosophy in a cordial  manner .

So you will understand why I am now so  shocked, appalled and  deeply offended by your  unwarranted, crude and coarse  remarks you had written about ' my God/Gods ' .

I had much respect  of  you as a friend and more so when u were always quoting  the  verses from the Quran in all our  conversations.  I was thus  under the impression  that you were a  very pious, devout, erudite and true  Muslim who understood the real meaning of Islam - a religion of peace and knowledge as all religions of the world are in my view.   Sadly, I realise now that it was just a facade and  you  are not what you  portray yourself  to be .  A true Muslim or for that matter, a true follower of any faith would never  stoop so  low as to belittle  another religion/faith for a true believer in GOD ( doesn't really matter which one )would ultimately realise that all paths lead to the same Source..  Only the roads taken to reach the Source are different . 


 Taken from your fb entry too were these words as written by you :


Selamat maal hijrah, may it be a more wiser, humbler and grateful year for all of us


 I guess  that you don't practice what you preach. Perhaps you should take time to sit down and think what ' wiser, humbler and grateful ' means.  In my book, it means I am forever grateful and blessed  for all that I have now,  that  there are far more enlightened people  around us who do not flaunt their knowledge and ' ketuanan ' superiority  and lastly ' wiser' means  to know when to open my mouth and when to keep it closed .

 Incidently , if you read your Maal Hijrah message carefully, you'd realise that ( 1st mistake )even your message is worded wrongly  ( sigh)  like everything else you write la ...... you are wishing for the year to be wiser, humbler and grateful ?  looks like you don't want yourself nor your   friends to be wiser , more humble,and grateful  (2nd mistake - no such thing as humbler, sorry, but that's the language teacher in me talking).  A year cannot be wiser, more humble or grateful dear.... Words like wiser, more humble and grateful are character traits and adjectives used to describe living things/people .  Tsk....tsk ......tsk...



 An educated, intelligent  and titled person like you  should have known better than to write highly offensive and tasteless remarks on other faiths/religions  of which you have no in depth knowledge nor  understanding at all.  But then again, as my good friend, Tengku Norashikin said when I had discussed this with her, " not all educated people are intelligent and not all intelligent people are educated ! "  I guess I can see now in which category you have placed yourself


If you are mature enough and put on your thinking cap,  you would understand  that if GOD ( it doesn't matter yours or mine ) had wanted to have only 1 faith in the world , He wouldn't have created all the other faiths just for fun now, would He ? 

Coming back to your remark : Which one of  your Gods ( to safe Malaysia) since I have so many '
 
 Really, Zaleha , You want to know which God I'm referring to ? And if you do know which God I'm referring to,  would you  want to make an appointment and  demand an answer from  " my God/Gods '  as to  why our beautiful  country is not safe anymore but going through endless mega  scandals of sleaze , corruption  and blatant misuse of taxpayers money running into billions   while the ordinary Joe/Jane Public is struggling to put food on the table for their kids ?  .  Or maybe you would like to ask ' my God/Gods,   why our  politicians are using religion to divide the  nation along ethnic and religious lines and perpetuating the ' Muslims/ Non-Muslims segregation in all aspects of our lives ? Why not just treat  all of us as Malaysians. Full Stop. ? Seriously , Zaleha, would you be asking these questions or ask for a List of  my Gods and what are their job descriptions? 

On a lighter vein, looking at the horrendous list of problems Malaysia is going  through, even my many 'Gods' won't be enough in numbers to help solve the problems we are   facing !!

 
We all have strong  beliefs  in our own faith and beautiful Malaysia  is home to all the major religions of the world. Even then, our education system has from childhood ingrained in us the wrong methodology  of  the word 'tolerance for all other religions '  which really does not say much for the Ministry's education standards . Either that or they were severely  handicapped in the language department,   for the proper word to have been instilled, would have been ' respect for all religions '.   As such,  religion and politics are the two things which we can never comment upon  publicly as we please  in a  religiously and politically   polarised society as ours. 

If you still want to comment , which I personally think is your right , then you must be prepared - have a thorough and in-depth knowledge of the  subject  matter  you want to discuss ,  your character and knowledge being  able to stand up to scrutiny,   being  open to counter  criticism and being able to cogently  reason it out   intelligently  in a rational and calm manner without shooting your mouth off like a monkey  and thumping your chest like a  gorilla . These  guidelines apply to anyone  irrespective of any particular faith.  


Problem arises when one party/segment of society   feels that he/she /they have  the right to criticise the other but cannot accept the same criticism put back  to him/her/them.  The standard reply I have seen and read is the ' others ' ( Non-Muslims)  cannot question Islam because  i ) it is seditious   ii)  Non-Muslims have  no locus standi  iii) even Muslims cannot and don't  question their faith/tenets/hadiths,   so who are we/others ?.    Then, it's not a level playing field and bias and bigotry  takes over ( I remember the Malaysian  Bar Council's Interfaith dialogue  which was vehemently and violently opposed with racial slurs and condemnation and even the Police Force did not do anything to stop them)  

  
Hafidz Baharom's article was   well thought out and  written and  his  reasonings  were logical by any standards .   I found his explanation plausible, stimulating  and it made sense.     The article was based on his thoughts and opinion , however. If you read the last line of the article, it clearly says :


The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.


I simply recommended his article for reading in my fb .  At no time did I question his faith or  make any downgrading remarks about his religion.  He does however, asks some pertinent and common sense based  questions  for his  leaders, and readers alike  to think and remark upon. My remarks of there being more of H Baharom like public citizen in no way touched his religious upbringing or faith.

I say again, I simply recommended his article for reading and made a simple statement of '  Dear  GOD make  Malaysia  safe again ' to be like the old times when there was no racial distrust, no such thing as  constantly being identified as Muslims and Non-Muslims in all spheres of our lives , when we could  greet and wish  each other without fear of  bigotry, when we as true Malaysians could visit  and partake of our other friends' hospitality during  festivals and celebrations freely , when there was no rampant corruption and sleaze on a global scale........ I still remember a few years ago, the Perak Chief Hadi issued an edict or something wherein  Muslims cannot even wish or give greetings to their Non Muslims friends  celebrating  Deepavali/ Christmas..etc . Then there was the Yoga controversy - Muslims cannot do Yoga exercises... it will weaken their Islamic faith.. seriously ( lol)!  There  are 5 branches of Yoga and Hatha Yoga or the physical Yoga has nothing to do with one's faith.  It is purely  physical in nature consisting of stretching  exercises/poses meant to  tone and make the body/joints flexible and at the same time stimulating/massaging  the 7 internal endocrine glands in our body,  which if becomes sluggish, will cause major and severe health problems.  Go read up on general science....     . The idiom  " A little knowledge is very dangerous " is so so 100 % true for people like... well... you know.............................



 If at all you were as intelligent as I thought you were, you could have given your counter reasons for H Baharom's article and put forth your replies for his many pertinent questions ( not mine, comprende ? ) like below


How about lobbying for religious institutions in every state to ensure that hospitals have an imam on duty to counsel the sick and the dying? How about speaking to malls to disallow the distribution of any fliers of ANY RELIGION in a mall, since it is a form of disturbance that makes people uncomfortable?



How about lobbying for adult courses in religious studies for those who apparently didn’t get enough of it after 12 years in both primary and secondary schools?


You already have people going around parks at night to so-call ‘cegah maksiat’ and even nailing warnings to every gazebo in Taman Tasik Shah Alam. Why not use the same resources to educate the ummah and even raise the welfare of the ummah instead of spending more cash on a new building?


 So please, dear Datin Zaleha Shamsuddin, be more circumspect of what you think and write in public media .   I do really wish you had not written what you wrote and I also understand that one of my fb friends did reply you ....... .. I presume there were some heated exchange of words on my fb wall but by the time I had steadied my nerves from your indecent attack on my faith, ( I was too stunned and shocked  by your words to resume my fb for a few days ) and opened my fb, both your remarks were withdrawn from my wall.  I only knew about the exchange from my very good friend, Tengku Norashikin , who being a true friend, did not take sides and gave me an impartial reasoning which allowed us an intellectual discussion on the matter.  

I hope you won't take up arms  and go on a warpath again  if   I say " Dear GOD, let there be more of Tengku Norashikins in Malaysia !

I end my piece by quoting a very very wise saying which I always  quote  to my  16 yr old son, Arvind, whenever I feel he talks too much "  WISE MEN HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY, FOOLS HAVE TO SAY SOMETHING .   I hope Zaleha takes note of this too.


 Happy reading and painting


Lakshmi

 Ps:  My next article will answer Zaleha's question - Why I have so many Gods