Why the Sangh Parivar’s Idea of Building a ‘Hindu Dham’ in Cambodia Is Wrong

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via The Wire, 16 June 2018:

Project Hindu dham in Cambodia is not just misinformed: it is a regressive step in the history of India-Southeast Asia relations that could start a dangerous chain of religious disharmony and unrest.

The chief rationale for this project appears to be the grand Vaishnava temple of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Five hundred acres of land has been acquired and 1,008 Shivalingas established to mark the creation of a fifth dham for Hindus. The project is evidently well-funded. Its chief proponents perceive this enterprise as a ‘cultural investment’, an apt way to promote Hinduism beyond India, to revitalise historical links between South and Southeast Asian nations, and to encourage trans-Asian pilgrim networks.

Source: Why the Sangh Parivar’s Idea of Building a ‘Hindu Dham’ in Cambodia Is Wrong

Old Kedah Festival news roundup

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Source: Bernama, via Malay Mail 20160521

Old Kedah, or Kedah Tua in Malay, and the archaeological findings of the Bujang Valley in northern Peninsular Malaysia were the focus of a local festival held last month. The events included an international conference, and from the news reports two themes seem apparent: the disagreement on whether the ruins of the Bujang Valley represent an animist or Hindu-Buddhist tradition, and the news that the remains of the Hindu temples that have previously been uncovered in the valley will not be nominated and protected under Unesco World Heritage. There’s a lot of subtext to read between the news reports, but it seems there is an attempt to downplay the influence of Hinduism and Buddhism in the Bujang Valley sites.

Source: Bernama, via Malay Mail 20160521

Source: Bernama, via Malay Mail 20160521

Experts disagree on religion practised at ruins older than Borobodur and Angkor Wat
The Star, 21 May 2016

World archaeological experts fascinated by Sungai Batu ancient site
Malay Mail, 21 May 2016

Ministry seeks allocation to develop Sungai Batu into historical tourism site
Malay Mail, 21 May 2016

No to heritage listing on Hindu-Buddhist temple ruins
The Star, 21 May 2016

Religious pluralism a likelihood in Bujang Valley
Free Malaysia Today, 23 May 2016

Ancient seaport of Sg Batu
New Straits Times, 23 May 2016

Sg Batu declared SEA’s oldest civilisation
Free Malaysia Today, 23 May 2016

Bujang Valley: Need for proof to be a heritage site?
The Star, 26 May 2016

The modern Brahmins of Thailand

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The opening of the Erawan shrine by the chief of Brahmins Source: Bangkok Post 20151012

Of anthropological interest. Evidence for Brahmanism is found in ancient Southeast Asia, inferred from texts and inscriptions, and in Thailand Brahmins still play a role in the royal court.

The opening of the Erawan shrine by the chief of Brahmins Source: Bangkok Post 20151012

The opening of the Erawan shrine by the chief of Brahmins Source: Bangkok Post 20151012

The new Brahmins
Bangkok Post, 12 October 2015

Brahmins have been serving in the Thai royal court as officials and performing royal ceremonies since the Ayutthaya period. The involvement of Brahmins continued to the Rattanakosin period. During the reign of King Prajadhipok (Rama VII), due to the government’s budgeting reasons, many officials were laid off. Some Brahmins were affected. They returned to their native provinces to take up other professions. Back then, they were not allowed to performed rituals for commoners.

A great change came during the start of King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s reign. By royal decree, Brahmins were allowed to conduct ceremonies for the people. Families of Brahmins who relocated during King Rama VII’s reign could now revert to their old profession.

The centre of Brahmin activity in Thailand is at Devasathan, a Hindu temple in Bangkok’s inner city, which was built more than 200 years ago.

In Thailand, Komkrit said there are three types of Brahmins. One is brahm luang or royal Brahmins who mainly perform royal ceremonies like the annual ploughing ceremony. They come from a long family line of Brahmins in Thailand. The recent reopening of the Erawan Shrine was also presided over by the chief of Brahmins from the Devasathan.

Full story here.

Categories: Hinduism Thailand

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The sacred feminine in Thailand

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Goddesses exhibition at the National Museum of Bangkok. Source: Bangkok Post 20150527

The National Museum in Bangkok is having a special exhibition featuring female deities from various religions in Thailand: Buddhism, Hinduism and indigenous cults.

Goddesses exhibition at the National Museum of Bangkok. Source: Bangkok Post 20150527

Goddesses exhibition at the National Museum of Bangkok. Source: Bangkok Post 20150527

The feminine divine
Bangkok Post, 27 May 2015

To celebrate the 60th birthday of HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, the Fine Arts Department is hosting a special exhibition, “Feminine Deities: Buddhism, Hinduism And Indigenous Cults In Thailand”, at the National Museum Bangkok. The objective is to disseminate knowledge about faith and beliefs relating to women in Thailand through the ages via religious sculptures.

The exhibition is divided into four parts — Goddesses: Traditional Beliefs From The Past; Goddesses In Brahmanism-Hinduism: The Supreme Power Of Females; Female Deities In Buddhism: The Power Of Intellect; and Goddesses In Traditional Beliefs: The Power Of Nature.

The first section shows that people have believed in the existence of goddesses since prehistoric times. Goddesses are believed to have supernatural powers, which allow them to control aspects of nature. Accordingly, people believe that they can indirectly influence nature by worshipping goddesses. The Mother Goddess or Earth Goddess is believed to be responsible for the fertility of women and their natural mothering instincts. Sculptures of women produced by ancient civilisations in Europe, Asia, America and Africa provide evidence of the widespread belief in the power of goddesses and the high status of women at that time. Their most notable features are their large hips (signifying the ability to give birth) and breasts (signifying the ability to nurture). Even in the present day, goddesses are still widely worshipped by followers of certain religions.

Full story here.

Hindu temple in Java to be restored

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Candi Sukuh. Source: Jakarta Globe 20150130

Candi Sukuh in Central Java, noted for the pyramid structure of the central building, is slated for conservation later this year.

Candi Sukuh. Source: Jakarta Globe 20150130

Candi Sukuh. Source: Jakarta Globe 20150130

Collapsing Pyramid at the Hindu Temple of Sukuh to Be Restored by 2016
Jakarta Globe, 30 January 2015

The Central Java Heritage Conservation Agency plans to restore the Hindu temple, known as Sukuh, this March as the earth beneath the temple’s foundation continues to shift.

Some parts of the exotic temple complex will remain open to tourists during the renovations, but not the main pyramid-shaped structure.

The agency estimates that the renovation will be completed in 2016.

Before work can start, however, the agency and a team of archeologists will remove some stones from the pyramid to study the best method to stop the main temple from further damage.

The pyramid is now bulging on one side and could threaten the integrity of the entire structure.

Full story here.

SOAS Alphawood Scholarships 2015/16

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Applications are now open for the Alphawood Scholarships in Southeast Asian Art at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London for the 2015-16 academic year. This is a great opportunity for young Southeast Asian scholars interested in a postgraduate education for the advancement of Hindu and Buddhist art.

Borobudur Sunrise

The SOAS 2015/2016 Alphawood Scholarships
Deadline: 18 December 2014
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Indian scholars highlight links between Tamil kingdoms and Bujang Valley

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Speaking after their recent presentations on Bujang Valley in Kuala Lumpur in July, some Indian scholars note the important role that Bujang Valley in Kedah, Malaysia, played in the spread of Buddhism, Hinduism and the Pallava Grantha script in the region.

Remnants of a relationship [Link no longer available]
The Hindu, 19 August 2010
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Politics of archaeology: The case of Sri Lanka

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This interesting article from The Times underscores the politics of archaeology in Sri Lanka and the conflict between the ethnic Tamil minority and Sinhalese majority in the country. One complaint from the ethnic Tamil minority is the emphasis on finding and discovering Buddhist sites associated with the Sinhalese to bolster the claim of a Sinhalese homeland, as well as the marginalisation of minority archaeologists and Hindu sites to weaken claims against a Tamil homeland.

Archaeology sparks new conflict between Sri Lankan Tamils and Sinhalese

The Times, 06 April 2010
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