religion of india

The first temple in the world made out of granite is the Brihadeeswarar Temple at Tanjavur, Tamil Nadu, India. The sacred heart of the temple, the towering shikhara (“mountain peak”) is made from a single 80-ton piece of granite. 

Amazingly, the temple was built in just eight years! Rajaraja Chola I, emperor of the Chola Empire, ordered Brihadeeswarar built in 1002 CE to fulfil a command that came in a dream. It was finished by 1010 CE. Which means Brihadeeswarar Temple recently had it’s 1000th birthday

bbc.com
Calling your husband by name for the first time - BBC News
Millions of Indian women have never used their husband's name - it's a way of showing respect for him. But campaigners are now urging some of them to change their ways.

Millions of Indian women have never used their husband’s name - it’s a way of showing their respect for him. The tradition is strictly observed in rural areas, though much less so in cities. Now, however, some campaigners are urging women in villages to give it up too.

What’s in a name? A lot, if you’re an Indian wife and the name in question is your husband’s. I learned this early on in life.

My parents were married for 73 years until my father died last year. At the time of their wedding, my mother was less than 11 and he had just turned 15.

In the decades they were together, first in a tiny village in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh and later in Kolkata (then Calcutta), she never called him by his name.

When speaking to us children, she always referred to him as “babuji” - the Hindi word for “father” that we used. When addressing him directly, she always said “Hey ho”, which means roughly “Hey you”.

As teenagers when we became aware of the fact, we made fun of her. We tried to trick her into saying his name just once. But she never did.

All the other women in my home and neighbourhood also avoided saying their husband’s name. So did tens of millions of women across India, regardless of their religion or caste.

The husband is considered equal to god so he has to be worshipped
A R Vasavi, Social anthropologist

That’s because in traditional Indian society, the husband is equated with god and a woman is taught from a young age that she must respect him.

She is told that naming her husband could invite bad luck and shorten his life. Often the ban extends to other members of his family too - and the consequences of breaking it can be serious.

One woman in the eastern state of Orissa faced retribution that was swift and harsh.

“One day my sister-in-law asked who was sitting outside. I named all the men who were there, including my husband’s uncle,” Malati Mahato says in a film produced by Video Volunteers, a pressure group.

The sister-in-law complained to the village council, which ruled Mahato’s words “reprehensible” and she was banished, with her children, to a home on the edge of the village. For the past 18 months she has been ostracised by the other villagers.

“The patriarchal hierarchy is enforced at many levels,” says social anthropologist, Prof A R Vasavi.

“The husband is considered equal to god so he has to be worshipped. In traditional matches he’s generally from a higher caste and economically supports the wife so he’s the yajman - the owner. And he’s generally older, so has to be respected on that count too.”

How Indian wives address their husbands (without using his name)

  • Women may use “father of so-and-so” or refer to their husband’s profession, eg “doctor sahib” or “vakil (lawyer) sahib”
  • They may just say “hey you”, or “you”, “will you please listen”, or “are you listening?”
  • In some Indian languages it is common to say “brother”, “elder brother”, “hello” or “owner”

Video Volunteers has now begun a campaign in some rural communities in an attempt to change patriarchal traditions.

Last October, Rohini Pawar, a volunteer in a village near the western city of Pune decided to raise the issue of naming husbands at a women’s discussion group in her village.

But before doing so, she decided she had better try it herself.

Pawar told the BBC that she was married at 15 and that in 16 years of marriage had never called her husband Prakash by his name.

“Earlier I’d call him ‘baba’, because his nephews called him that. Or I’d just say 'aaho’ ('you’ in the local Marathi language) to grab his attention.”

Prakash was relaxed about it but most other villagers weren’t happy. Some ridiculed the couple.

The women in the discussion group, however, were delighted with the idea.

He told her that if she ever dared to say his name again, he would give her a solid beating
Rohini Pawar, Activist

“We had great fun. We laughed a lot that day. For the first time in our life, we were shouting out our husbands’ names,” says Pawar, laughing.

“We decided to make a video and asked the women to say it in three different ways - happily, with anger, and with love.

"One of the women got carried away. She went home giddy with excitement and as soon as she saw her husband, she screamed out his name - and he slapped her.

"He told her that if she ever dared to say his name again, he would give her a solid beating.”

In Indian cities, over time, it has become common for wives to name their husbands. With growing female literacy, more and more women joining the workforce, and love marriages often replacing arranged ones, the tradition began to seem out-of-date.

When I married, my husband was a work colleague. I had called him by his name for years, so it would have made no sense to stop after the wedding.

But A R Vasavi says this still only applies to a “very small segment” of Indian households.

“It’s the educated, assertive woman in big cities who calls her husband by name,” she says.

“It’s unthinkable for tens of millions of women in rural India and even in conservative urban homes. If a new bride tries to go against the tide, she’s swiftly admonished by her mum-in-law or other elderly women.”

Rohini Pawar says the hostile response from many in her village has only strengthened the resolve of the women in her group to continue challenging patriarchal traditions.

“You see, change is not easy. People ask us why is it so important for us to use their names - what’s the big deal?” she says.

“I think, until you confront the small issue, how will you challenge the larger, more important issues?”

It may seem like a small step, but it’s the first step, she says, and the first step is always a big one.

What does this little folio painting show? Your first thought was probably not the Virgin Mary and her baby. I was surprised too! The folio page was painted between 1605 and 1610, under the Adil Shah Dynasty, a Shia Muslim dynasty which ruled the Sultanate of Bijapur in India’s Deccan Plateau.

The Adil Shahs were notably secular and liberal, as well as great patrons of the arts. Their capital became known as the “Palmyra of the Deccan.” As a result, scholars, poets, and painters flocked to their court – including Farrukh Beg, a Persian miniaturist, who probably painted this folio.

As I hurry home battling the rush hour traffic in the evening, I see a queue in front of the gates of the local mosque. Men in white skull caps, women clad in saris and burkas, young children with school bags on their backs — all are waiting with containers in their hands for a share of the nombu kanji. Mosques in the south Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala distribute the kanji, a lightly spiced rice and lentil porridge, before the sunset prayers during the fasting month of Ramadan, which starts Friday evening.

During her pre-Ramadan shopping, Shahida Khalique from Tiruppur, a town in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, buys extra rice, lentils, spices and other items for making nombu kanji. She distributes the additional provisions among four women who work for her.

“I give them enough ingredients to make the nombu kanji for 15 days,” she says. “On the days I add meat to my kanji, I give them a portion so that they, too, can cook their kanji with meat that day.” Her sister-in-law, who employs the same set of women, provides the supplies for the next 15 days.

In Southern India, The Spirit Of Ramadan Is Served In A Bowl Of Porridge

Photo: Arun Sankar/AFP/Getty Images
Caption: Young Indian children sit with bowls of porridge (nombu kanji) as they prepare to break the fast with the Iftar meal during the Islamic month of Ramadan at The Wallajah Big Mosque in Chennai last July.

Lotus Temple - Delhi, India 

A holy place of worship for followers of the Bahá'í Faith, the Lotus Temple has won numerous architectural awards, making it one of the most recognisable buildings in India. Like all other Bahá'í places of worship, the temple is open to anyone of any religion. The “petals” of the lotus flower are made of pure marble imported from Greece.

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Meenakshi Amman Temple, Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India

It is dedicated to Parvati, known as Meenakshi, and her consort, Shiva, here named Sundareswarar. The temple forms the heart and lifeline of the 2,500 year old city of Madurai and is a significant symbol for the Tamil people, mentioned since antiquity inTamil literature though the present structure was built between 1623 and 1655 CE.

One of the things I hate surrounding the dialogue of India/Pakistan/Bangladesh Partition is how people from these countries just blame the Partition on the British. Let’s have a conversation about how lots of Hindu leaders (Nehru) weren’t willing to make compromises for the Muslims which left a separate state as the only option for the Muslim leaders and population. Let’s not disguise the blatant Islamophobia in the leaders of (future) India, who had as much a hand to play in Partition as the leaders of Pakistan and the British.

I understand that yes, the British definitely capitalized off religious tension and exacerbated it to a large extent. But Indian leaders had lots of opportunities to preserve unity if they’d been willing to compromise to safeguard the Muslims and other religious minorities. Don’t throw the religious prejudice in our history and communities, which is a VERY large part of the equation that resulted in Partition, under the rug and put the blame on the British. It’s our fault too and we need to take responsibility for that if we want to move forward as one people, regardless of our nationalities.