Archive for religion

Elevation

Posted in Timeless Black & White with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 10, 2013 by designldg

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In Varanasi (Benaras) there is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva between Scindia ghat and Manikarnika ghat which doesn’t look like any other in the city because of its amazing sculptures with angels which are all around the shrine playing different music instruments.
This place is a kind of gate to after death as the cremation ghat is underneath with funeral pyres burning day and night.
It is not easy to climb the high and narrow staircase plunged in total darkness.
However each stair allows to ascend towards the light and to take the time to elevate oneself…

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Happy Divali – Happy New Year

Posted in Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 3, 2013 by designldg

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Divali, or Deepavali (in Hindi – दिवाली or दीपावली), is a major Indian festival, significant in Hinduism , Jainism and Sikhism.
Celebrated by Hindus,Jains and Sikhs across the globe, as the “Festival of Light,” where the lights or lamps signify the uplighting of darkness and victory of good over the evil within.

The celebrations focus on lights and lamps, particularly traditional dīpa or deeya (earthen lamp), and fireworks. Though colloquially called Divali in North India, in South India it is called Deepavali.
Divali is celebrated for five consecutive days at the end of Hindu month of Ashwayuja (amanta).
It usually occurs in October/November, and is one of the most popular and eagerly awaited festivals in India.
Hindus, Jains and Sikhs alike regard it as a celebration of life and use the occasion to strengthen family and social relationships.
For Hindus it is one of the most important festivals, and beginning of the year in some Hindu calendars, especially in North India.

This image was shot in Sarnath in front of Lord Buddha’s tree (which was grown from a cutting of the Bodhi tree at Bodh Gaya) where he met his first five disciples.

On this auspicious day of Diwali and in the coming New year may you all be blessed with success, prosperity and happiness…

Divali ki shubhkamnayen.

 
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Becoming A Sati

Posted in The Oldest Living City in the World with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 24, 2013 by designldg

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“Let these women, whose husbands are worthy and are living, enter the house with ghee (applied) as corrylium ( to their eyes).
Let these wives first step into the pyre, tearless without any affliction and well adorned.”
(Rig Veda X.18.7 )

This is a picture of a Sati stone sculpture shot near Raj ghat along the Ganges in Varanasi (Benaras).
This statue shows a married couple and it is marking the site where a woman died on the funeral pyre of her husband.
Nowadays many of these stones are worshipped as images of Shiva and Parvati.
The practice is banned since 1829.

The term is derived from the original name of the goddess Sati, who self-immolated because she was unable to bear her father Daksha’s humiliation of her (living) husband Shiva.
It may also be used to refer to the widow.
A sati is now sometimes interpreted as “chaste woman”.
Sati appears in both Hindi and Sanskrit texts, where it is synonymous with “good wife”; the term suttee was commonly used by Anglo-Indian English writers.

(Being the son of a contemporary sati, I carry ambivalent thoughts for those ladies even though I have a deep respect for their courage)

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Eid Mubarak

Posted in Islam with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 18, 2013 by designldg

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“ Abraham said:
“I will go to my Lord! He will surely guide me “O my Lord! Grant me a righteous son!” So We gave him the good news of a forbearing son. Then, when the son reached the age of serious work with him, Abraham said: “O my son! I have seen in a vision that I offer you in sacrifice: now see what your view is?” The son said: “O my father! Do as you are commanded: you will find me, if Allah so wills, one of the steadfast!”
So when they had both submitted Allah and Abraham had laid his son prostrate on his forehead for sacrifice, We called out to him “O Abraham! You have already fulfilled the dream!” – you are indeed Do We reward those who do right.”
(Qur’ân – verse 37:99 to verse 37:109)

Islam focuses on Abraham more than either Judaism or Christianity, but with an important difference: where Judaism holds that one becomes a descendant of Abraham through birth, and Christianity that one becomes a descendant through faith, Islam holds that descent is unimportant – Abraham, in other words, is not the father of the believing community, but a link in the chain of prophets that begins with Adam and culminates in Mohammad.
Islamic traditions consider Abraham the first Pioneer of Islam (which is also called millat Ibrahim, the “religion of Abraham”), and that his purpose and mission throughout his life was to proclaim the Oneness of God.
When Abraham was asked for sacrifice, he took Ishmael to sacrifice. When he was about to use the knife, God placed a sheep under his hand.
Abraham had shown that his love for Allah superseded all others: that he would lay down his own life or the lives of those dearest to him in submission to Allah’s command.
As a reward for this sacrifice, God then granted Abraham the good news of the birth of his second son, Is-haaq (Isaac).
Muslims around the world commemorate this ultimate act of sacrifice every year during Eid al-Adha, to follow the path of Abraham that is called Qurbani (sacrifice).

During this festival in Varanasi (Benaras), it is common for Muslims and non-Muslims to visit their Muslim friends and neighbours on Eid to convey their good wishes and share a meal or sweets.
This is a view shot from the upper terrace of the Bara Imambara in Lucknow built by Asaf-ud-Daula, the Nawab of the city, in 1784.
The two minars on the left belong to the Asfi Mosque and on the right stands the Rumi Darwaza known as the Turkish Gate.
This picture of the City of Nawabs, the capital of the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, allows me to wish everyone a happy and peaceful Eid Mubarak.
“May Allah ease the suffering of all people around the world…”

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Many Ways to Worship

Posted in Buddhism with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 6, 2013 by designldg

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“I’ve learned much from the land of many gods and many ways to worship. 
From Buddhism the power to begin to manage my mind, from Jainism the desire to make peace in all aspects of life, while Islam has taught me to desire goodness and to let go of that which cannot be controlled. 
I thank Judaism for teaching me the power of transcendence in rituals and the Sufis for affirming my ability to find answers within and reconnecting me with the power of music. 
Here’s to the Parsis for teaching me that nature must be touched lightly, and the Sikhs for the importance of spiritual strength….
And most of all, I thank Hinduism for showing me that there are millions of paths to the divine.” 
(From “Holy Cow” by Sarah Macdonald)

This is a close-up of a part of the Dhamek Stupa in Sarnath located at 13 km away from Varanasi (Benaras).
The Dhamek Stupa is said to mark the spot of a deer park (Rishipattana) where the Buddha gave the first sermon to his five disciples after attaining enlightenment, “revealing his Eightfold Path leading to nirvana”.
In its current shape, the stupa is an impressive cylinder of bricks and stone reaching a height of 43.6 meters and having a diameter of 28 meters (128 feet high and 93 feet in diameter).
The basement seems to have survived from Ashoka’s structure: the stone facing is chiseled and displays delicate floral carvings of Gupta origin. 
The wall is covered with exquisitely carved figures of humans and birds, as well as inscriptions in the Brāhmī script.
This picture was shot at the time of a visit of his Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.

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“A Guit Your” – “Shana Tova”

Posted in Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 6, 2013 by designldg

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“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
(From “A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches” by Martin Luther King Jr.)

Amazing symbols gathered all together on a huge bowl in the gardens of the National Handicrafts and Handlooms Museum in New Delhi.
With “Om” everything begins, it is a mantra and mystical Sanskrit sound of Hindu origin sacred and important in various Dharmic religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.
Like Ganesha who is widely revered as the remover of obstacles, he is the patron of arts and sciences and the deva of intellect and wisdom, the god of beginnings and therefore he is honoured at the start of rituals and ceremonies.
Then the hexagram which has deep significance in most of the Dharmic and Abrahamic religions.
In Christianity it is often called the star of creation, while it is known as Najmat Dāwūd (Star of David) or Khātem Sulaymān (Seal of Solomon) in Islam and becomes the Magen David when it is recognized as the symbol of Judaism.

In many ways this picture unites us all and allows me to wish everyone, whatever your faith is, “A Guit Your”, “Shana Tova” or, in other words, a Happy New Year.
It is easier to love than to hate, and as we are at the edge of a new conflict I truly want peace to prevail.
May this year be peaceful for all of us…

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The Free Soul

Posted in Banarsi (Portraits) with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 28, 2013 by designldg

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“The free soul is rare, but you know it when you see it – basically because you feel good, very good, when you are near or with them.”
(From “Tales of Ordinary Madness” by Charles Bukowski)

This man was among a group of homeless people staying nearby Jama Masjid in Old Delhi.
Their faces could easily show that life was not easy for them but they were carrying a kind of grace and deep happiness…
It was nice to spend a moment with them, I was feeling “good…very good”, certainly because like this man they were free souls…

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