Saturday, February 23, 2013

NZ Sanatan Naari Sabha leads the way for others to follow


NZ Sanatan Naari Sabha leads the way for others to follow

Thakur Ranjit Singh

NZ Sanatan Nari Sabha (Sabha) initiated, ignited and led a new exemplary trend for all Hindus when they organised “Mata Jagran” (Whole night vigil and worship) at Shiv Mandir in Manurewa Auckland on 23rd February, 2013.

Durga Maa Jagran - the decorated shrine
This is an exemplary trend that needs to be followed by other Hindu organisation, not only in Auckland, but in Indian Diaspora as a whole. Most prayers, parvachans and religious discourse are held in abstract, bearing little relationship to present-day problems. In particular, I remember an incident with Hindu Council of New Zealand, which rejected my proposal of incorporating domestic violence with celebration of Racha Bandhan. (Await a separate story on this in FIJI PUNDIT). As usual, politicians have field days in Indian and Hindu functions. We sing and dance, sweep the problem of woman-beating under the carpets and celebrate public Ratcha Bandhans while our sisters get beaten up. So much for public-seeking religious organisation, which hold big conferences in big hotels, with little benefit to people on the ground.

Mrs Mavis Lata Singh-[Lata Ji,] (left) of NZ Sanatan Naari Sabha, chief organiser, with one of her committee members.
Therefore it came as a breath of fresh air when the chief organiser Mavis Lata Singh (Lata Ji) and her Sabha decided to incorporate violations of human rights of women with this Jagran - a whole night vigil for Mata Durga and other Hindu Goddesses. The Sabha especially dedicated this Jagran to each girl and woman who has been through or is going through horrific violations of human rights, mainly to the one who became the voice of our conscience as “Damini”.

Damini -the movie behind the theme of social issue of domestic violence
The speakers for the evening, three Singhs, Judge Ajit Swaran Singh, National List MP Kanwal Singh Bakshi and yours truly, Thakur Ranjit Singh, dwelt on these cases of abuse of women and the way our society treats them.

Judge Ajit Swaran Singh -"...it is the obligation of community to report cases of abuse.. those remaining quiet are as guilty of the crime as the perpetrators of the actual crime.
Judge Singh told of cases where we pay respect for our Goddesses but in reality treat own women very differently. Picking on the topic of Damini, which was a Hindi film, released in 1993, Judge Singh urged people to watch this movie. “This movie exemplifies entrenched attitude of some members of our community where family prestige is more important than the rights of a woman who is a victim of abuse, and in particular, sexual abuse. Family often tries to cover it up because it stigmatises the community and brings shame on the family and therefore often it is hushed up and not spoken about,” Judge Singh said. He said the movie speaks of a higher court than this one, and that is the court of conscience. There is a need to bring such issues in religious programmes to educate our people. “It is not only the perpetrators of crime, who need to be brought to justice, but those as well who know that a crime has been committed, but remain silent, as they are as guilty of the crime as those who committed it, “Judge Singh said. He emphasised on the obligations of the community to report any such crime we see taking place such as rape, assault and violence. He praised the Sabha for taking this leadership role in combating domestic violence.

National List MP Kanwal Singh Bakshi (Right) was accompanied by Angela Dalton, Chairperson of Manurewa Local Board.
Kanwal Singh Bakshi explained the different roles that women play-from a child to a housewife and to a mother. He narrated a story on the virtues of a mother, and the theme of that was that another name of a woman is love and sacrifice. “Our children are product of a family, hence it is important for parents to have religious activities at home and take their children to religious programmes to ensure we produce good citizens who respect women, “Bakshi said. He praised Indo- Fijian families for their religious, language and education progress and urged all to get more people to attend such beneficial programmes, addressing religious and community issues together.

FIJI PUNDIT-Thakur Ranjit Singh "..it is time for abused women to stand up and fight back.."
Thakur Ranjit Singh also took the medium of films and TVs to educate people on domestic violence and injustices against women. “We say Sita - Ram, Radhe - Shyam, Gauri - Shankar, Latchmi - Vishnu, always reciting women’s names first. Mythologically, all deities are supposed to have evolved from women - Shakti. We Hindus have so many festivals honoring our Goddesses. Why in reality we treat our living Goddesses, our women with such contempt, disrespect and scorn? “, Thakur asked. He encouraged people to see film “Lajja” to get an appreciation of women’s rights on dowry, violence and foeticide.
Thakur quoted from his earlier blog posting from and article he wrote on his blogsite (www.fijipundit.blogspot.co.nz) and that was posted on an incident from TV serial ‘Madhubala.” You can catch that story on: http://fijipundit.blogspot.co.nz/2013/02/family-violence-fight-back-abused-woman.html
Madhubala-EkIshq Ek Junoon- TV Serial that depicts a woman's courage to fight back a Rakshas and so-called Pati Parmeshwar.
The other trend the Sabha set was to feed the people before the program, so that it is healthier to eat early and not sleep on full stomach. The management committee of Shiv Mandir has to be commended for bringing much-needed improvements to their facilities by extending the kitchen and eating area.
FIJI PUNDIT takes this opportunity to congratulate NZ Sanatan Naari Sabha for taking these trend-setting bold steps that other organization in Auckland and Indian Diaspora can emulate. This is to: associate and encompass social issues with religious celebrations, and to feed people before the programme, as it is a healthier habit. Thanks to Lata ji and her commendable team for a job well done. May the blessing of Mata Di be bestowed on you all. Mata Di bless you all.
[Thakur Ranjit Singh-E-mail:thakurji@xtra.co.nz]