Posts Tagged ‘Hinduism’

DNA tests reveal interesting news on caste system

August 30th, 2013
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To quote the important statements:

Their finding, recently published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, made waves when it was revealed that genetic mixing ended 1,900 years ago, around the same time the caste system was being codified in religious texts. The Manusmriti, which forbade intermarriage between castes, was written in the same period, give or take a century.

Thangaraj says the study shows only a correlation between the early caste system and the divergence of bloodlines, and whether one caused the other is a debate better left to historians. Nonetheless, it puts a stake in the ground, marking the moment when the belief that one should marry within one’s own group developed into an active practice.

He also doesn’t want the early signs of a caste system to overshadow another finding of his study — how completely the population mixed 2,000 years ago. He points to the Paliyar tribe in the foothills of southern India. Their villages are inaccessible by car, and outsiders cannot visit them without a government permit. “They’re still in the forest,” says Thangaraj, “but still they have some affinities with other groups. At some point in time, everybody was mixed.”

Regardless of the manusmriti, its interesting to note that genetic mixing was prevalent till 1,900 years ago in India, and it originates from two main bloodline groups: Africa and Eurasia. As mentioned, nearly every Indian can be traced to genetic mix of these two groups. Full article below.

 

India caste

Dr. Kumarasamy ThangarajKumarasamy Thangaraj takes a blood sample from an Andaman islander, as part of his research into the genetics of India’s castes

Kumarasamy Thangaraj traveled 840 miles (1,350 km) off of the eastern coast of India by plane, then ship, then six hours by car, then ship again to collect blood samples from an isolated tribe of hunter-gatherers on the Andaman Islands. Their blood, he explained through an interpreter, would help him understand a pivotal moment in India’s genetic history. The tribesmen had never heard of a gene before or an academic study for that matter, and the whole pitch struck them as an interesting diversion from their usual routine of spearfishing.

“They mostly laughed,” Thangaraj says, before they offered up their arms in exchange for food. A few needle pricks later, they returned to their boats to fling short wooden spears into the water with uncanny aim, while Thangaraj made the long journey home to Hyderabad. He deposited the latest samples into a blood bank, alongside another 32,000 samples from his countrymen.

The collective bloodlines at the Centre for Cellular & Molecular Biology, India’s leading genetic-research institute, pose a unique riddle for researchers. On the one hand, geneticists can trace nearly all bloodlines back to two ancestral groups, one hailing from Africa, the other from Eurasia. These groups mingled, married and swapped genes. A mixture of their genetic material can be found in nearly every person on the subcontinent today.

But at some mysterious point in history, these braided bloodlines began to fray. The population divided along linguistic, religious and tribal lines, to the point where it separated into 4,635 distinct genetic groups. Europe and Asia look positively homogeneous in comparison, says Thangaraj. He and his collaborators at Harvard Medical School wanted to know when exactly the Indian melting pot stopped melting.

Their finding, recently published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, made waves when it was revealed that genetic mixing ended 1,900 years ago, around the same time the caste system was being codified in religious texts. The Manusmriti, which forbade intermarriage between castes, was written in the same period, give or take a century.

Thangaraj says the study shows only a correlation between the early caste system and the divergence of bloodlines, and whether one caused the other is a debate better left to historians. Nonetheless, it puts a stake in the ground, marking the moment when the belief that one should marry within one’s own group developed into an active practice.

He also doesn’t want the early signs of a caste system to overshadow another finding of his study — how completely the population mixed 2,000 years ago. He points to the Paliyar tribe in the foothills of southern India. Their villages are inaccessible by car, and outsiders cannot visit them without a government permit. “They’re still in the forest,” says Thangaraj, “but still they have some affinities with other groups. At some point in time, everybody was mixed.”

It’s a point that he stresses to anyone who wants to turn bloodlines into battle lines. On Aug. 15, on India’s independence day, a mob from the Rajput community in Biharattacked men, women and children in the Dalit community. They beat them with rods, killing one and injuring 54. “Look, we were all brothers and sisters 2,000 years back,” Thangaraj says of this sort of violence, “why are you fighting now?” Although he did observe one notable outlier from the extended family: the spear-wielding fishermen of the Andaman Islands have no trace of the genetic mix that pervades the mainland. Proof that the only the thing that really could have stopped India’s ancestral populations from mixing was an 840-mile schlep to a remote tropical island.

Read more: http://world.time.com/2013/08/27/what-dna-testing-reveals-about-indias-caste-system/#ixzz2dQiYOQ2x

Tamil schools not allowed to take holiday for Ponggal???

January 9th, 2013
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Another ridiculous move by the MOE if the news below is true. Previously, Tamil schools can take special holiday for Ponggal which falls in mid January.  And surely no one in the right mind will put a day before Thaipusam as replacement class! What in the world are these guys having for food? Is this only in Kedah or nationwide directive?

THE Indian community is unhappy over the Education Ministry’s decision not to allow Tamil schools to take a day off as a special holiday for the Ponggal festival which falls on Jan 14, reported Tamil Nesan.

It quoted Sungai Petani MIC division deputy chairman T.H. Subra as saying that education officers did not understand the significance of the festival.

He was also unhappy that Jan 26 had been marked as a school day to replace additional holidays given for the Chinese New Year celebration.

“This is unsuitable as most Hindu children will be busy preparing for Thaipusam, which falls on Jan 27,” he said, adding that until last year, Tamil schools were given the flexibility to take three days off a year for religious festivals.

He urged education officers to be fair to all communities.

source: http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2013/1/9/nation/12549401&sec=nation

2013 Deepavali Date Confusion: 2 or 3 November?

January 8th, 2013
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There seems to be a confusion over Deepavali 2013 date. Do a search in Google and nearly every result show Deepavali is on 3rd November 2013 (Sunday), including our next door neighbor Singapore  (http://www.mom.gov.sg/employment-practices/employment-rights-conditions/leave-and-holiday/Pages/PublicHolidays2013.aspx).

Refer Wiki as well: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diwali

However the calendar released by Bahagian Kabinet of Prime Minister’s Department lists 2 November as Deepavali (link here: http://www.kabinet.gov.my/images/stories/kelepasanam/2013_merged.pdf)

2013 Public Holidays Malaysia

[click to see larger view]

I’ve just sent feedback to Bahagian Kabinet to ask them to check since Deepavali supposed to be on 3rd. Hope to get reply from them. As far as I know, the festival date is consulted with KL Mariamman Temple Devasthanam, so wonder how they ended up with different date than rest of the world

Deepavali being a religious festival, is calculated based on astronomy. If you check the Hindu panchangam, it falls on ammavasai (no moon day), which is on 3rd of November this year.

Hope things can be clarified immediately as this involves religious festival and public holiday, where people will make plans for celebration and travel. Especially when Deepavali falls on Sunday because Monday becomes public holiday! 🙂

DBKL disallow decoration at MHS event

September 3rd, 2012
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This is quite surprising. I remember reading interview with new mayor where he talked about karma and all (sounded like a well-read and understanding guy), and then this news appears on FMT. Decoration like kolam is quite common even in shopping centers!  Banana trees are usually put at the entrance – can see it at Hindu weddings especially at temples. Wonder what’s the reason for DBKL’s actions. Is it because of cleanliness factors or there are considered religious symbols?  Or perhaps MHS wasn’t aware of such rules?

Senator S Ramakrishnan of the DAP today demanded an explanation from Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak over Kuala Lumpur City Hall’s (DBKL) decision to disallow cultural decorations to be put up in their hall for an event by Malaysia Hindu Sangam.

“Najib must investigate why an event officiated by his representative was marred by DBKL’s stupid act which hurts the feeling of delegates,” said Ramakrishnan in a press statement today.

“It is totally unbecoming of DBKL since they are under the Federal Territories and Urban Well Being Ministry that has a Hindu deputy minister,” said Ramakrishnan.

He was commenting on DBKL’s decision to disallow MHS from decorating the venue – a DBKL hall – with kolam, a colourful rice based decoration, and banana trees in conjunction with a conference which was held yesterday.

MHS had organised a conference to launch temple worship guidelines yesterday at the DBKL training institute hall in Cheras.

The conference was attended by about 800 delegates from all over the country with PM’s representative honouring the event.

The hall was rented for RM4,600 and an additional RM300 paid for DBKL staff manning the hall for the event.

The conference was supposed to be officiated by Najib but was subsequently delegated to Human Resources Minister Dr S Subramaniam.

Ramakrishnan also lashed out at DBKL for their lack of sensitivity.

“Why is DBKL afraid to allow such simple cultural decorations?

“DBKL is a public body that serves all Malaysians, so why did it abstain MHS from putting up biodegradable and easily disposal cultural decorations?

“If it is a rule not to allow any decorations by any user of the hall then that should have been made known at the time of hall booking and not one day before the event?

“This act of DBKL shows how they look down on cultural practices of Indian Malaysians,” said Ramakrishnan.

source: http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2012/09/02/dbkl-lacking-cultural-sensitivities/

Madam Nagamah, her children and their religion status

August 24th, 2012
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Some facts gleaned from newspapers (the facts may change as more details are revealed):

  • Madam M Nagamah passed away on 14 August 2012 at Sg Bakap Hospital. She was 64 years at the time of passing. She was from Byram Estate, Nibong Tebal.
  • Eldest son of the deceased is M Kamasantheran, aged 46 [ meaning he was born when she was 18 years old].
  • Her body was taken back to home by the family for funeral preparation.
  • JAIPP officers came for the body, saying she was a convert. No documents were provided.
  • Family refused to give in. And the officers left [how ridiculous does this sound? You’d think that a such a serious matter would involve some documentation or proof]
  • Family proceeded with funeral (cremation) at Batu Berapit Crematorium.
  • JAIPP officers went to crematorium and took the ashes of the deceased. Family got to know about it from the crematorium staff.
  • According to Penang state Islamic Religious Affairs Committee chairman Datuk Abdul Malik Abul Kassim, the deceased had converted to Islam in November 2006 [Meaning she was aged about 58 at that time].  He said that  initial investigations as reported to him by JAIPP and the state Mufti Department showed that the 64-year-old had converted at the South Seberang Perai (SPS) Islamic Religious Department with registration number 11/06. The conversion was overseen by Ustaz Anuar Ismail.
  • Her name was registered as Nagamah @ Mariah Abdullah when she converted after marrying one Ibrahim Noyan and had nine children who were registered as Muslims by the National Registration Department.
  • Since both family and JAIPP had made police report, the EXCO said will leave it to police investigation.
  •  The family insists that the deceased has been a practising Hindu all this while and there’s not mention about her converting.
  • Family wants ashes back to conduct funeral rites on 14th day.

sources:

http://www.thesundaily.my/news/469470

http://www.thesundaily.my/news/470546

http://www.freemalaysiakini2.com/?p=43085

http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/206890

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/opinion/2012/08/20/no-dignity-in-life-or-in-death/

http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/206819

http://www.mmail.com.my/story/nagamah-muslim-says-department-27661

If one does a search, can find documents back in 2007 related to the husband Ibrahim Noyan. Below are the facts from 2007:

  • 10 siblings (5 men and 5 women) were seeking to change their religion from Islam to Hindu. These 10 people were born to Ibrahim Noyan and M.Nagamah.  The 10 of them grew up as Hindus and even got married to Hindus.
  • On Feb 16 2007, the 10, all of them with Muslim names and listed as Muslims on their MyKad, submitted individual sworn declarations at the magistrate’s court in Jawi, South Seberang Prai, claiming that they had been practising Hinduism since birth and prayed at Hindu temples.
  • In their declaration, they said that they wanted to change the status of their religion from Islam to Hindu.
  • They also said they were married to Hindus – although none of them had their marriages registered – and took part in Hindu celebrations, including Thaipusam. Their children were also given Hindu names.
  • Their plight was highlighted at Bukit Mertajam MP Chong Eng’s service centre on that day.[ So she should be aware of this case by now as back then she “hoped that the authorities can settle this issue“].
  • Their father, Ibrahim Noyah, 67, said he first married a Muslim woman known only as Sabariah but she died in 1958. He then married M. Nagamah but did not require her to convert. “Nagamah was my neighbour and I fell in love with her when she took care of me after my wife passed away,” he said.
  • Ibrahim Noyan is visually impaired since 3 years old and Nagamah took care of him after his first wife died.
  • Ibrahim and Nagamah, 60, have 10 children and 30 grandchildren. Three of the grandchildren do not have birth certificates, while some have only one parent’s name in their birth certificates.
  • V. Rathiga, 27, an athlete married to Ibrahim’s son, Kamis, 27, said she left out Kamis’ name in the birth certificates of their daughters – three-year-old Prami and one-year-old Sakti – as Kamis wanted them to be recognised as Hindus. [that’s one solution! if the law hinders, then find a workaround.]
  • While the 10 children wanted to be Hindus, the parents didn’t (meaning Ibrahim and Nagamah). According to Ibrahim he was still a Muslim and that his wife M. Nagamah had converted to Islam in 2005 and assumed the name Mariah Abdullah.
  • “I know my children and my grandchildren are facing problems with their identity cards and I don’t mind if they want to change their names from what it is now in their birth certificates,” said Mariah.
  • Ibrahim had said he started following Hindu culture and customs after his marriage to Nagamah although all their children were given Malay names while being raised as Hindus and had never stepped into a mosque.
  • The Penang Islamic Religious Council has recognised the elderly couple as Muslims.
  • However, the council also accepted the fact that the couple’s children are Hindus. “As far as we are concerned, the matter is resolved as the man had returned to the Islamic faith and his wife has embraced Islam,” said religious council chairman Shabudin Yahaya. “The council has built a house for them in Kebun Baru and are living separately from their children.”
  • Shabudin said the couple were considered Muslim as they had married according to Islamic rites.
  • He said Ibrahim Noyah, 67, had returned to the Islamic faith and his wife, M. Nagamah, 60, embraced Islam in August 2004 and her Muslim name was Mariah Abdullah.
  • Their Muslim marriage was solemnised at the religious department on Aug 11, 2004 and had been issued with the relevant documents.
  • The couple’s eldest son, Jamal Ibrahim, 42, said he hoped the authorities would help resolve their problem.

sources:

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2007/2/24/nation/16965034&sec=nation

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2007/2/27/nation/16983857&sec=nation

NST article: Islamic department urged to check family background (25/2/2007)

NST article: Council: Children are Hindus (25/2/2007)

NST article: In a spot over religious status (25/2/2007)

 

So far I can’t find any article reporting the outcome of their application to change religious status.

Interestingly, the conversion date ranges from 2005 to 2006.  Anyway the religious department says the marriage according to Muslim rites were done in 2004,  meaning she converted after marriage.

Back then, these kind of marriages existed and registering them legally wasn’t a big focus, I guess.

Ok back to the issue at hand. The religious department had shown no respect for law and order. No empathy, no sympathy. No sense of respect. No sensitivity. If conversion happened, then should bring the documents and do it properly. They simply came and took the ashes away.

So, did the deceased marry another person? If not, then M Kamasantheran (or is he Johan Ibrahim?), the eldest son should also be a Muslim and his father should be Ibrahim Noyan. Its quite impractical that they don’t know the existence of the other 9 siblings nor of their father/step-father. It feels like the deceased lead a double life with the children not knowing what happened to her.

Maybe she converted but didn’t inform her children about it and continued to live as an Hindu.

There’s no mention about the husband.  Maybe he had passed away and she returned to her Hindu family?

In the above case, if the whole family is following Hindu religion (including the deceased), then might as well leave it to the family to perform the last rites accordingly.

If the families provides proof of the deceased being a practising Hindu (especially after 2006), does it make the conversion void?

I think to safeguard ourselves, a MyDaftar-like campaign should be conducted by government to provide opportunity for non-Muslims to reaffirm their religious status via a official document or statutory declaration.  We don’t want to be victims after passing away and cause misery for the family.

And what happened to the suggestion that future converts-t0-be must inform their families/next-of-kin? All quiet?

The silence from MHS is also deafening.

On a political note, since this happened in Penang, can expect brickbats for the PR government. But I wonder what can be done legislation wise to avoid this issue in the first place. Can the enactment be amended? Would need approval from MAIPP or King?