RMF Summary: Week of January 27 - February 3, 2013

February 28
Priyadarshi posts:

Harvard’s next case study: The logistics and economics behind Kumbh Mela, the largest human gathering in history By Logan...

...This week, the city of Allahabad in northern India kicks off the Kumbh Mela, a 48-day Hindu festival that is expected to be the largest human gathering in history. In addition to the more-than 30 million pilgrims descending upon the flood plain of the Yamuna and Ganges rivers, the Kumbh will host a team of Harvard researchers in what is likely the school’s more inter-disciplinary project ever. I will be traveling among them, assisting a team of emergency physicians and praying against stampedes.
The Kumbh Mela, which historically has received little press in the West, takes place every four years, and gains special significance every 12. This year, 2013, will be that 12th year—called the Purna (―complete‖) Kumbh and officials expect somewhere between 30 million and 60 million ascetics and pilgrims to travel to holy sites to bathe. .....―How on earth is an event of this size possible?‖ To fully grapple with this question, the scale of the Kumbh needs to be put in perspective. Imagine the entire population of Shanghai—about 23 million—..."

The Pioneer January 22, 2013
Churning of tradition and culture
 After the British ousted the Mughals and took over large parts of India, the Kumbh Mela not only continued to grow in attendance but it also became a platform for the transmission of many Hindu religious ideas

Allahabad, where the Maha Kumbh Mela commenced last week, is traditionally called Prayag. Literally meaning the confluence of two rivers — Ganga and Yamuna, it was acclaimed as a pilgrimage even in the Ramayan days. The area then was thoroughly forested, providing a perfect setting for hermits to pursue spiritual practices. In Ramayan, there was a mention of a dark-coloured banyan tree on the other bank of Yamuna, which subsequently got identified with the Akshaya Vat, or grove of the Imperishable Banyan Tree ,now inside the fort of Allahabad. The Akshaya Vat was already sacred to the Hindus in the medieval period. Historian Jadunath Sarkar describes how Emperor Jehangir cut it down to the roots and hammered a red hot iron down to its stumps (Shivaji and His Times page:406). But Jehangir was shocked to find it regenerating within a year.

Sarkar employs the allegory to state that the tree of Hinduism was not dead. His protagonist, Shivaji, exemplified its regenerative capacity verily like the tree ofAkshaya Vat...."

[This is a january update posted by this blog in the eGroup]
January 29
Weekly Summaries: January Status Update
[MODERATOR's NOTE: Below is an update from the invaluable work being done ..... to systematize and present the discussions from the group....

January 29
Re: My new blog:We need to study Western ‘White’ culture on our
Manish shares: Below is a video lesson for Indians on how to handle race differences --- from a man who knows a thing or two about this tough issue. His name? Lee Kuan Yew.

Right in the beginning of this video, 0.00 to 1.30, he lays it out --- don't pretend that the differences don't exist; instead, learn to live with with full acknowledgement of them.."

Poonam posts:
"...I agree with you. I have noticed & observed that the Indians(& other colored people) do all they can - some times even bending backwards - to mold themselves to fit the dominant white culture's perception & demand of the dominant white culture. These people don't require the same of the whites when they move to the colored cultures. When they say dominant, they definitely don't mean the culture of the majority of the people & the natives..." 

February 2
Please watch my interview today on MSNBC: On Bobby Jindal
Rajiv posts: ...I will be on a panel in NBC studios in Rockefeller Center, NY. Its a panel on MNSBC's "Melissa Harris-Perry". Topic: Bobby Jindal. Pls watch....

Ram asks:
"...."Would I be pleased if Jindal, an Indian and Republican, was elected President of the United States or would I prefer that given his political ideology and personal values, this Indian is never elected as President of the United States?" This begs the further questions: "What/who is an Indian and is there such a thing as a typical "Indian political ideology and personal values"?..."

Prashant asks:
"Could someone elaborate more upon the "passing" reference? I'm not sure I understand the context."

Moderator's comment: 
"...read Rajiv's latest HuffPost blog that started it all.  The reference is from the last paragraph. ] ..."


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