Donald Trump celebrates Diwali at White House

Diwali news from around the world

 

A few days ago we ran a feature highlighting “Grand, Green Diwali around the world this year”

This year, Donald J. Trump, President of the United States of America hosted a few porminent Indian-Americans to greet the global community

Today, I was deeply honored to be joined by so many administration officials and leaders of the Indian-American community – to celebrate Diwali — the Hindu Festival of Lights.

As we do so, we especially remember the People of India, the home of the Hindu faith, who have built the world’s largest democracy. I greatly value my very strong relationship with Prime Minister Modi. Diwali is one of the most important celebrations in the Hindu religion. A time of peace and prosperity for the New Year, it is a tradition that is held dear by more than 1 billion Hindus worldwide and more than 2 million Hindus in the United States. It is also celebrated by millions of Buddhists, Sikhs, and Jains in America, India and around the world.

Our Indian-American neighbors and friends have made incredible contributions to our country – and to the world. You have made extraordinary contributions to art, science, medicine, business and education. America is especially thankful for its many Indian-American citizens who serve BRAVELY in our armed forces and as first responders in communities throughout our great land.

The Lighting of the Diya is typically celebrated by families in their homes. Today, we proudly celebrate this holiday in THE PEOPLE’S HOUSE. In so doing, we reaffirm that Indian-Americans and Hindu-Americans are truly cherished, treasured and beloved members of our great American FAMILY.

We wish all of America’s Hindus and everyone who celebrates Diwali a joyous holiday and blessings of light, goodness, and prosperity throughout the New Year. And now we will light the Diya.

However, despite Indian Supreme Court’s directive banning fireworks in the National capital, media is reporting that Delhi covered in toxic haze after night of Diwali fireworks – The Guardian 

Delhi’s Air Quality Status Report After Diwali is ‘Very Poor’: NDTV 

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Move over Medical Tourism, #BegTourismIndia is the next wave !

A couple of days ago, news of a Russian tourist found begging outside the famous South Indian shrine of Kancheepuram went viral.

The backpacker from Russia, Evangelin apparently arrived in India recently. On September 24 he travelled from Chennai to Kancheepuram. After visiting a few temples in the town, he went to an ATM kiosk but was unable to draw money as his debit card’s PIN had got locked. After he was unable to withdraw money from the ATM, he got desperate. On seeing some beggars sitting outside the Sri Kumarakottam Temple, he joined them and started seeking alms using his cap.

Videos and pictures of Evangelin ‘begging’ went viral and media and digirati went wild over the story. The local police in Kanchipuram stepped in, and after verifying his documents, offered him some money to enable him to go to the Russian consulate in Chennai for assistance. This saga also prompted Indian External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj to tweet

The story does not end here. This week, the Russian tourist was seen begging in the busy T Nagar area in Chennai since Saturday. He was reportedly charging excited Diwali shoppers Rupees 100 (about $2) for selfies with him. Evangelin reportedly told the media that he had tasted ‘good money’ through begging and could use this to finance his travels in India.

TheHinduTourist
image: The Hindu

 

Russian consulate in Chennai had earlier reported that Evangelin had not contacted them and that they will assist him in when he contacts them. The Mambalam police in Chennai detained him after he continued begging in the city.  On being questioned, he told the police that he sought alms as per Lord Shiva’s wish and was quoted saying “I am a devotee of the Lord Shiva. I wish to travel across the country.”

Officials seem to be helplessly watching this saga unfold. The police was quoted saying “He holds valid travel documents and visa papers, and cannot be deported immediately.”

Indian entrepreneurs are exploring a variety of tourist ventures including Medical Tourism. The Evangelin saga  has interesting implications for #BegTourismIndia :

  • Enterprising startups may spring up offering #BegTourismIndia for backpackers
  • Tech savvy tourist-beggars may take to social media by creating facebook and whatsup group, sharing tips on begging, and about tourist hotspots
  • Some may offer Caucasian backpakers ‘coaching classes’ in the subtle art of begging at temple steps

Grand, Green Diwali around the world this year !

Diwali or Deepavali is the Hindu festival of lights celebrated every year in autumn in the northern hemisphere. It is an official holiday in Fiji, Guyana, India, Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and recently Sindh Province in Pakistan.

In the years past, American President Obama made a point of wishing Indians and the Indian-American community for Diwali (link). Last year, ‘candidate’ Donald Trump’s Daughter, Ivanka celebrated Diwali at a Hindu Temple (link). The Trump administration looks set for ‘grand’ Diwali celebrations (link).

TrumpDiwaliHindu
Image from The Hindu

 

The grand Indian festival of Diwali is traditionally associated with noise and din of firecrackers, sometimes in excesses.  As we approach Diwali this year – scheduled to fall on Thursday, October 19 – there is a lot of hype over ‘Green Diwali’

The Rangoli of Lights.jpg
Image: Wikipedia

The Indian Supreme Court set the ball rolling by banning fireworks in Delhi ahead of the festival this year. “Let’s try at least one Diwali without firecrackers,” said one judge as the court announced the order Monday. According to BBC

“The court said it wanted to test if banning fireworks would make a difference to Delhi’s air quality, ranked among the worst in the world. The ban on the sale and distribution of firecrackers will last until 1 November. Diwali falls on 18 October.”

Even school students are jumping onto ‘Green Diwali:’ The students of Sant Isher Singh Public School on Monday took out a rally. Principal Inderjeet Kaur Sandhu flagged the rally which commenced from the premises of the school. (TOI).

Supreme court’s directive is not without controversy as a Voice of America article describes

The order has raised a firestorm in the city of about 18 million as it gears up for Diwali on October 19. Complaining that the order strikes at the heart of a quintessential Hindu tradition, critics compared it to banning Christmas trees on Christmas. Jubilant supporters pointed out that the top priority is the health of citizens in a city where the air turns toxic at this time of the year because of slower winds and colder temperatures that trap more pollution.

 


Check out GaramChai.com ‘s feature on  Diwali in North American and around the globe.

 

NRI woman searching for father in Hyderabad finds decomposed body in flat

About an NRI woman coming to Hyderabad in search of her father who had been missing for over a month.

A couple of months ago, we blogged about “Techie reaches mother’s flat on return from US, finds her skeleton”“Techie reaches mother’s flat on return from US, finds her skeleton”

There is another similar yet bizarre story about an NRI woman coming to Hyderabad in search of her father who had been missing for over a month. The woman, and her mother were shocked to find his decomposed body at their flat in LB Nagar.

Image result for nri parent drawing
Image: lassiwithlavina.com

The NRI and her mother came to Hyderabad because P Lakshminarayana Murthy, a retired government employee, had not been responding to their calls for several days.  Murthy was a native of Rajamahendravaram in Andhra Pradesh. He had two daughters, both of whom were living in the USA. His wife, Lakshmi, had recently gone to America to visit their daughters.

Murthy gone to Hyderabad in August to attend a relative’s wedding and stayed at his daughter’s flat.  During the first few days in Hyderabad, he had been in touch with his wife, after which he had stopped responding to her calls. Worried, the daughters and his wife had alerted relatives in Hyderabad, but none of them had been able to give them any information.

Nearly 40 days later, Lakshmi and her younger daughter Soujanya flew to Hyderabad in search of Murthy.  Despite knocking repeatedly on the door, they received no response. They broke open the door with the help of a local carpenter and entered the flat. They were shocked that none of the residents in the apartment building had noticed a foul smell.

This is yet another morbid story that will send shivers down Non Resident Indians with elderly parents living alone in India.

Story first reported in Deccan Chronicle and thenewsminute.com

Also check out the blog post: The Dilemma of Looking After Aging Desi Parents

India has Public Toilets for Transgenders #LGBT

India is a country of contradictions and diversity. The title of a Washington Post article sums it up best: India has outlawed homosexuality. But it’s better to be transgender there than in the U.S. (link)

Picture of the day: Public Toilets for Transgenders #LGBT

Transgender_toilet_Bangalore
Picture of Toilet for Transgenders in a Public Bus stand in Bangalore

 

Sunny Leone’s commercials : Condoms and Ghee !

Canadian-born Indian-American actress and model, Sunny Leone who is currently active in Indian film industry is also making waves in the Indian Advertising industry.

Sunny Leone has worked hard to shed her image of a “former pornstar” but that reputation seems to be following her around. The “Navratri Themed” Condom Ad featuring Ms Leone faces opposition In Gujarat, Goa and elsewhere.

Now, there is news that Sunny Leone is planning to shoot a commercial for a much more uncontroversial product: Fresh Desi Ghee!

Sunny_Leone_GheeAdvert

“It is neither the gym nor the latest diet programmes, it is ghee that has helped me maintain my physique” quipped Sunny Leone.

In order to promote Dholpur Fresh’s desi ghee, Balaji Creators has roped in Sunny Leone in their latest commercial.  Commenting on the campaign strategy , Puneet Sharma of Balaji Creators says

“Featuring Sunny Leone for the ad has been great since she is the face & inspiration to many Indian women and epitomizes hard work and perseverance – an apt quotient for the product. This is the first time we are working with Sunny Leone, infact this also the first time that she is promoting a food brand. The back drop of the ad is very different from other ghee ads. We aim to transport the audience to a different era which epitomizes quality & originality which Balaji Creators stands for”

 


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Newton: Is India’s Oscar movie entry

‘Newton’ will be India’s official entry to the Best Foreign Film catgory at the Oscars next year, says a Film Federation of India official.

The Amit Masurkar movie, starring Rajkummar Rao, Pankaj Tripathi, Raghubir Yadav and Anjali Patil, tells the story of polling officer Newton Kumar, who is bent on conducting free and fair elections in the conflict-ridden jungles of Chhattisgarh.

 

What’s the movie Newton about?

According to IMDB “A government clerk on election duty in the conflict ridden jungle of Central India tries his best to conduct free and fair voting despite the apathy of security forces and the looming fear of guerrilla attacks by communist rebels.”

Some reviewers are declaring Newton to be “one of the finest political satires we have seen in the last couple of years. It refrains from taking sides and offers a humorous take on state versus the Maoists bloody battle.” (HT)

A bit of controversy about the movie:

By Saturday, some people on social media started talking about the similarities between Newton and Iranian film “Secret Ballot”.

Both the films have a protagonist who wants to conduct a free and fair election. It’s Rajkummar Rao in Newton and a female election officer in Secret Ballot. They both are accompanied by a soldier rather a military personnel who doesn’t have much faith in the electoral system.