Archive for religion

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Abraham had shown that his love for Allah superseded all others: that he would lay down his own life or the lives of those dearest to him in submission to Allah’s command.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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The Traceless

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

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“My place is the Placeless, my trace is the Traceless ;
‘Tis neither body nor soul, for I belong to the soul of the Beloved.
I have put duality away, I have seen that the two worlds are one;
One I seek, One I know, One I see, One I call. ”
(Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhī known as Rumi – Persian poet and Sufi mystic, 1207-1273)

I met this man nearby Jama Masjid in Old Delhi.
He was homeless and his life seemed to be tough however there was an amazing happiness in his eyes as if he had reached what he was seeking for since a long time…

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The Wholeness Of The Self

Posted in Dreams of An Enthralling India In Colour with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 28, 2013 by designldg

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“Remembering our past, carrying it around with us always, may be the necessary requirement for maintaining, as they say, the wholeness of the self.
To ensure that the self doesn’t shrink, to see that it holds on to its volume, memories have to be watered like potted flowers, and the watering calls for regular contact with the witnesses of the past, that is to say, with friends.
They are our mirror; our memory; we ask nothing of them but that they polish the mirror from time to time so we can look at ourselves in it.”
(From “Identity” by Milan Kundera)

This man was standing at the gate of the mausoleum of the third Mughal emperor, Akbar the Great, located in Sikandra in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
He was not young but he was not old either and his face carried emotional wounds with a moving melancholy…

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The Wizard of Gold

Posted in Reflections in a Golden Eye with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 19, 2013 by designldg

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“What is magic?
There is the wizard’s explanation… wizards talk about candles, circles, planets, stars, bananas, chants, runes and the importance of having at least four good meals every day.”
(From “Lords and Ladies” by Terry Pratchett)

Sometimes in my enchanted dreams the eternal city is wrapped with a golden coat where fascinating people spread magic along the Ganges.
Some are palmists, others are fortunetellers, ice-cream sellers, sādhus or wizards.
Recently I met one at Shitla ghat, I still have stardust in my eyes…

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A Splash Of Orange Spiritual Vibrations

Posted in Hinduism with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 18, 2013 by designldg

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“Orange strengthens your emotional body, encouraging a general feeling of joy, well-being, and cheerfulness.”
(“The First Element: Secrets to Maximizing Your Energy” by Tae Yun Kim)

There was a game of lights and shadows on a spectrum of spiritual orange vibrations at the small Hanuman temple standing at the edge of Manikarnika Ghat in front of the Ganges in Varnasi (Benaras).
In Hinduism orange or saffron is the most sacred color representing the fire that burns all kind of impurities, this is the reason why this color symbolizes purity.
It also represents religious abstinence and it is the color of holy men and ascetics who have renounced the world.
Wearing orange symbolizes the quest for light.
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The etymology of Orange is interesting, the word comes from the Old French “orenge” (c.1300), the old term for the fruit “pomme d’orenge” coming from Medieval Latin “pomum de orenge”.
It also comes from the Sanskrit word “naranga-s” which means “orange tree” as the tree was probably coming from northern India.
Later it gave «naarangi» in Hindi, “narang” in Persian, “naranj” in Arabic and “naranja” in Spanish.
The name is also related to the places where the orange tree was exported.
The bitter Persian orange, grown widely in southern Europe after its introduction in Italy during the XI° but it was replaced by sweet oranges brought to the rest of Europe in the XV° from India by some Portuguese traders.
Portuguese, Spanish, Arab, and Dutch sailors planted citrus trees along trade routes to prevent scurvy.
On his second voyage in 1493, Christopher Columbus brought the seeds of oranges, lemons and citrons to Haiti and the Caribbean.
I twas Introduced in Florida (along with lemons) in 1513 by Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon and much later to Hawaii in 1792.
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True Wisdom

Posted in The Oldest Living City in the World with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 18, 2013 by designldg

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“I know what I have given you.
I do not know what you have received.”
(Antonio Porchia – Italian poet, 1886-1968)

This man is a worshipper of Shiva and stays in an ashram near Raj ghat along the Ganges in Varanasi (Benaras).
Since a few days it has been very hot in the city but last morning there was a gentle breeze which is a sign of a coming monsoon and this wise man seemed to be enjoying the weather from his balcony…

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Becoming Everything

Posted in Timeless Black & White with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 17, 2013 by designldg

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“Knock, And He’ll open the door
Vanish, And He’ll make you shine like the sun
Fall, And He’ll raise you to the heavens
Become nothing, And He’ll turn you into everything.”
(Rumi (Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Balkhi) – Persian poet and Sufi mystic, 1207-1273)

This picture was shot at the entrance of a little temple which is on the last floor of the massive palace standing at Balaji Ghat along the Ganges in Varanasi (Benaras).
I was standing at the end of a long dark staircase where I could listen to some bat echolocation calls providing a mysterious atmosphere and suddenly a man opened the door.
The shrine was absorbed by a warm light, there was a feeling of deep quietness and devotion, maybe it was led by the breath of the Divine.
Then from nothing everything became possible…

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