Tuesday, November 30, 2010

South Asian Women's Day celebrated to Share and Show SOLIDARITY

South Asian Women's Day is being celebrated for the first time in Sri Lanka

Litany for Peace

One: Against words and deeds that provoke discord, prejudice and hatred,
All: We stand together

One: Against suspicions and fears that stand in the way of reconciliation,
All: We stand together

One: Against believing and speaking lies about other peoples or nations,
All: We stand together

One: Against cruel indifference to the cries of the hungry, homeless and
All: We stand together

One: Against all that prevents us from fulfilling the promise of peace,
All: We stand together

One: Let our friendship heal the broken world we pray,
All: together we believe peace can prevail.

One: To still waters and green pastures,
All: Let us walk

One: To the freedom, and forgiveness we find in us,
All: Let us walk

One: To the tough task of loving our enemies,
All: Let us walk

One: To balanced earth, and food security,
All: Let us walk

One: To the promise of justice, democracy and harmony,
To the wholeness of justice,
To the power o peace,
All: Let us walk together

One: Against words and deeds that provoke discord, prejudice and hatred,
All: We stand together

One: Against suspicions and fears that stand in the way of reconciliation,
All: We stand together

One: Against believing and speaking lies about other peoples or nations,
All: We stand together

One: Against cruel indifference to the cries of the hungry, homeless and
All: We stand together

Candles are lit at a house in Bambalapitty, Colombo to celebrate South Asian Women's Day

To strengthen the bonds of friendship and peace with people from South Asia, Sangat celebrates the day SOUTH ASIAN WOMEN’S DAY on 30th November each year from 2002. with its usual spirit of solidarity with friends and partners in many towns and cities of South Asia. Initiated by Sangat and its network of women and men in the year 2002 as part of the International Fortnight against Violence against Women (25th November—10th December), the South Asian Women’s Day is being marked by an increasing number of students, activists and civil society members all over the region.

We South Asians believe that the people of South Asia can bring peace and prosperity for all through friendship and cooperation. This can be done if we create and strengthen a South Asian identity across borders. Therefore, men and women collect in several cities and towns of South Asia (India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka) to light candles at the same time (between 5.3o. p.m. and 6.30 pm.) to express solidarity with the people of the region, and demand democracy and peace. Discussions, poetry, song and dance and so on mark the evening. This year South Asian Women’s Day was celebrated in several places in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burma, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka by people who are committed to South Asian-ness, peace, democracy, justice, human rights, secularism and pluralism.

Feminists and activists in Colombo created a mobile float, pasted stickers and banners on it (with messages against violence against women) and took it around town. They stopped at various spots to display their campaign material, distribute leaflets as well as to engage people with the issues at hand. Especially, stickers in Sinhala and Tamil were pasted on the 138 route bus (Nugegoda-Pettah,Maharagama-Pettah and Kottawa-Pettah) by the women to create awareness on Violence Against Women (VAW).

Performers on stage showing their solidarity

Banner in English on the float

Hand bills in Sinhala are being distributed to the commuters

Banner in Tamil on the float

Campaign along the side walk in Kirulapone

Banner in Sinhala on the float

Decorated float for the celebration

Hotlines for help to report abuse

16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence

A UN resolution designated November 25 as International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

Scene at the Kirulapone bus stand in Colombo

Songs in Sinhala related to bus journey are being played

Sinhala and Tamil men are seen taking a closer look at the stickers

Campaign on Violence Against Women is currently being carried out

Stickers in Sinhala and Tamil are being pasted at the bus stand

Song and dance depicting the type of harassment in the bus

Sticker in Tamil on a moving bus

Sticker is being pasted in a crowded bu

A catchy display during the campaign in Kirulapone

Commuters are attracted to the campaign

Many handwritten messages are displayed

South Asians United Will Never Be Defeated

Indrani Kusumalatha and her troupe (Community Encouragement Foundation) sing and perform in Kirulapone

Through the window to see what's happening

Overall view of the street campaign

Let’ stand up against harassment

Stella Philip pastes stickers on the bus

The UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women~1993 states that "violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women, which have led to domination over and discrimination against women by men and to the prevention of the full advancement of women, and that violence against women is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared with men

More information to the public about Violence Against Women and Children

A passer-by is seen got stuck by the display

The United Nations General Assembly defines "violence against women" as "any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty whether occurring in public or in private life"

View in Kirulapone during the campaign

On lookers while passing by

Sunday, November 21, 2010

"Kaarthigai Theepam"~ Triumph of Light over Dark

Lord Siva is compared to mountain

"Kaarthigai" is a month of purity and devotion. Hindu devotees in Sri Lanka celebrated the festival of "Kaarthigai Theepam" in the temples and houses on 21t of November 2010 amidst a heavy downpour. It falls on IL Poya day, which coincides with Karthigai star. “Sorkka Paavanai” (Bonfire) which later derived as “Sokka Paanai” is also held at Hindu temples. "Sorkka Paavanai" is held at Sri Maanikka Vinayagar temple in Bambalapitty. Dried coconut leaves are tied together right in front of the temple, and set fire at night to celebrate "Kaarthigai Theepam"

There is a story linked between "Kaarthigai" and lamps according to religious references. Brahma- The Creator, and Vishnu- The Preserver had a dispute between them as to who was greater, and who was the supreme. The Lord Shiva wanted to teach them the truth. He appeared before them in a form of huge column of fire.

Both of them referred their quarrel to Lord Shiva. He told them that he who could discover the crown of the light or its foot first might be considered as the superior. Accordingly Brahma took the form of a swan and flew up in an attempt to find the crown of the Light, while Vishnu took the form of a boar (Varaha) and began to dig down to find the foot of the Light. Neither of them succeeded. The knowledge dawned upon them that the Light was superior to both of them.

The Kaarthigai Theepam is celebrated to bring out this great truth that the supreme God is far beyond the Creator and the Preserver. Brahma and Vishnu thereupon prayed to the column of Light.

In the 'Kalavazhi Narpadu', which dates back to the third Sangam period (after 1,000 BC) the poet says, "In the battle the blood oozing out from the dead soldiers' bodies is like the red coloured flame of the lamps lit during Karthigai Theepam festival".

Tolkappiyam, the oldest available work dating back to 2,000 or 2,500 B C, has concise verse form rules for Tamil grammar. In one of the formulae, Tolkapiyar uses the phrase "like the lamp's flame pointing upwards".

Earthen lamps are significant to Hindu rituals and festivals. Light is indispensable for Kaarthigai Theepam. On this special day light is spread everywhere.

Earthen lamps are for sale in Bambalapitty

Busy buying earthen lamps in Bambalapitty

Traditionally dressed devotees on their way to temples

The oil used to light the lamp, symbolises the innate tendencies in one, which is responsible for the ego to thrive. The wick is the ego. The flame of the lamp symbolises, spiritual knowledge, which empties the oil, as it also burns the wick, the ego (body, mind complex). With the draining of the innate tendencies and the burning of the wick

Sinnathangan Sathyaseelan, a busy garland maker in Bambalapitty

It is one of the oldest festivals of Hindus

Let us be liberated from sorrow and suffering

Lord Siva is the Light of Consciousness

Women devotees take part in special pooja

Sockalingampillai Ramalingam lights earthen lamps

Be liberated from egoism, selfishness and delusion

New Silver Kalasam is being taken on a parade

Rajaratnam lights an earthen lamp at twilight

Nicely decorated Goddess Parvathi,Lord Vinayagar and Lord Murugan with his consorts Goddess Valliyammai and Goddess Theivayaanai in the Vasantha Mandapam

Nallakuttiyapillai Sappaanipillai lights earthen lamps at the temple

Thiruvilakku Pooja by women on fullmoon day

The ritual is said to be of immense importance for the whole world

The lamps glow allover

Ego leads to limitations

Beautifully decorated Goddess for the festival

Fire symbolises light, consciousness and intelligence

A very special astrological significance of today's Kaarthigai Theepam is that the placement of Jupiter in the 11th house will not be witnessed for another 11 years

The ritual represents and affirms a spiritual re-dedication and renewal of faith

The Chief Priest Sitsabesa Kurukkal (also known as Mani Iyer) of Sri Maanikka Vinayagar carries out the rituals

Gorgeously decorated Lord Murugan. Kaarthigai is Lord Murugan's birth star.He represents unlimited divine wisdom

The sky height flame symbolise the essence of universal oneness

View of the Kopuram of Sammaankodu Sri Maanikka Vinayagar temple at night

Parade of decorated Goddess Parvathi, Lord Vinayagar and Lord Murugan with his consorts Goddess Valliyammai and Goddess Theivayaanai

Kaarthigai synchronises with the fullmoon day

Karthigai festival in Tiruvannamalai hills is very famous in India

Camphor is lit at the main entrance

It is also known as Festival of Lights or Festival of Lamps

"Oolai Suvadi"- a banner about the significance of the religious book

The festival is dedicated to Lord Siva

It is believed to ward off evil forces and usher in prosperity and joy

Decorated deities wait at the main entrance to witness the event

Salt is thrown from every corner to control the fire

Notice to the devotees to keep the footwear in a particular place

"Sorkka Paavanai" or bonfire grows upto sky level in Bambalapitty