PONGAL PROVES HUMANITY IS ONE

PONGAL FESTIVAL OF HARVEST IS UNIVERSAL

Nandhi Varman (Thursday, 11 January 2007) –

Tamils are celebrating Pongal. This festival of harvest is universal one practiced by remote tribes on earth and people of various cultures, which again proves the oneness of humanity. Slav people had their sun deities. They were called Svarog, Dazhbog, and Khors.The word god (bag) is same in all Slavic languages. You can see the resemblance with Iranian baga and Indian bhagwan and Valluvar’s aathi bagavan with the Slavic bag. These similarities also remind us that beliefs are universal.

In the Volga region when the Sun was moving in the direction of spring, people came together to forecast the future harvest. The Mari and Chuvashes, tribal groups in Volga region prepared special food for this festival of harvest. These festivals were connected with first ploughing and sowing. The festivities took place in the field. A little bit of food was sacrificed to Mother Earth.

The Zulus of South Africa worshipped the Goddess Nomkubulwana. They believed that this goddess made land fertile and was the mythical originator of agriculture. Only women did all farming work among Zulu tribes and they only performed rites and chanted prayers for a good harvest. Almost all people of the Caucasus region worshipped guardians of harvest and other kind of livestock. Does it make us think about Maattu Pongal, thanksgiving to cattle prevalent among Tamil people.

Celtic gods were guardians of fertility and agriculture. River Gods and Spring Gods were existent. Esus was the god of plant life. In Mexico the agrarian influence could be seen in the Uitzilopochtti cult. During the celebrations held twice a year an enormous dummy of the God was made out of flour dough and honey. After the religious rites are over the figure was broken into pieces and eaten by all the participants. n the Chinese civilization the cult of Shen-nong i.e Divine Farmer is note worthy. The legendary Divine Farmer is
supposed to have invented agriculture. A special sacrificial altar was devoted to him in Peking, where the emperor solemnly brought offerings. In early spring every year an important state ceremony was held to mark the first ploughing season. The Chinese Emperor accompanied by prominent dignitaries ploughed a furrow on a sacred plot of the land.

The God of the land was known as She and peasants offered sacrifices to her as part of spring and autumn rituals. In the Shintoist religion of Japan the most revered Gods are Amaterasu i.e Sun Goddess and Inari i.e Rice Man, the guardian of farming portrayed with two rice stalks and often together with a Fox. In the ancient Egyptian religion the God Osiris deserves mention. Every year Egyptians celebrated the death and
resurrection of Osiris. The image of Osiris was made out of sown wheat on the layer of soil that was sprinkled into a special wooden frame. These festivities lasted 18 days and involved ritual plouging and sowing. Osiris is the direct personification of grain.

In Asia Minor the Mother of the Gods was named Ma, Rhea, and Cybele. Her husband was a young god of fertility named as Attis. There is also another myth about the deity of plant life and fertility. God Telepinus once suddenly disappeared it is stated. Because of his disappearance grass dried up. Fields failed to yield crops. Cattle stopped multiplying. Woman no longer bore children. To put an end to this state of affairs the other gods organized a search for this God. A bee found him and awakened him, so goes the myth.
In Greek religion in the agricultural cult Demeter, the goddess was offered with bloodless offerings like fruits, grapes, honey combs and freshly reared sheep wool. These offerings were placed on an altar and covered with olive oil.

Numerous such stories, myths and beliefs could be found in various civilizations. The Greek Goddess Hera wife of God Zeus was apparently a cow goddess. Signs of cow worship were found in excavations. It is heartening to note that Tamils worshipping cow goddess in Maattu Pongal times is a practice found in Greek civilization too.

In the Roman religion in the first month of spring March , festivities were held in honour of Mars. Faunus was the guardian angel of livestocks and he was the god of shepherds. At the end of winter on Feb 17 a jolly holiday Lupercalis was celebrated in her honour. Liber was the god of wine making. Saturnus the god of sowing. Jupiter the god of grapes.
Romans too worshipped gods as Pax (Peace), Spes (Hope), and Virtus( valour), Justitia (Justice), Fortuna( Happiness) etc. If we analyze at the concepts on religion in various cultures we can understand its inherent meanings. Mankind had been striving to be grateful to Nature and agricultural festivities like Pongal demonstrate this common urge of human race, which is one and indivisible. While Tamil people hail Pongalo Pongal and thank Nature for its kindness, Harvest festivals of various civilizations reminds us that our festival has universal appeal.

By Nandhi Varman
http://www.tamilbrisbane.com – TamilBrisbane.com :: 

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BUSH CONDEMNED FOR CALLING ATHEISTS AS TERRORISTS

Does Bush Think Terrorists are all Atheists? 

 Austin Cline

More than one religious believer, unable to accept the truth that fellow believers commit violent acts of terrorism in the name of their religion, resort to tactics like denying that terrorists are “true” followers of that religion. Some even deny that terrorists are really theists in the first place. They thus claim that people killing in the name of god are somehow atheists who don’t believe in any gods at all. In this way they ensure that religious violence continues unchecked.

Recently, as part of Chanukah celebrations at the White House, President George W. Bush reportedly described Muslim terrorists as atheists: Bush said that despite declarations of piety from Muslim radicals now fighting the United States, he doubted that they believed in God. “ ‘Terrorists’ can’t be God-believing people,’ ” Richard Joel, president of Yeshiva University, quoted Bush as saying.

Source: JTA Granted, this is a second-hand quote and not a direct quote from Bush himself, but it is a report made immediately after the events and thus far I haven’t found any statements from the White House contradicting Joel’s account. This view is, as I note above, not very uncommon and would be keeping in character for someone who has convinced themselves that religion and theism are the only real paths to truth or peace.

Assuming this quote is true, then, what are we to make of it? Well, it suggests that George W. Bush might conceive of his “War on Terrorism” as also being a War on Atheism: an effort to root out and destroy all those how don’t believe in gods and thus have no good reason to be moral, upstanding citizens.

The fact that all this violence is a direct product of religion and theism isn’t just ignored, it’s denied outright. Atheists aren’t flying planes into buildings in the name of Darwin, it’s theists acting in the name of their god. Bush’s complete reversal of reality isn’t just consistent with his usual refusal to deal with reality, but it’s actually a way to ensure that the violence continues: unless religious theists are willing to acknowledge the aspects of their traditions which encourage violent behavior, they will never be able to keep it from constantly reappearing in new guises.

This is one reason why atheists shouldn’t succumb to the fallacious arguments that “tolerance” of religion means not criticizing religion. The absence of strong, pointed critiques will only encourage people in their beliefs that religion and theism are inherently good. People aren’t going to stop thinking ill of atheists because if we stop criticizing religions, they will just find it easier to think that we’re to blame for all the problems religious believers are causing.

Tuesday January 2, 2007