There is much commonality between religions in urging us to overcome our attachments to money, property and the material, to give generously of ourselves in as many ways as possible, and to realize that nothing is ours. In many ways, it's a call to overcome our selfish nature and to realize our deep interconnectedness with each other and all of creation.
Few media outlets have mentioned the abuses that minorities in Bangladesh have endured since the country won its independence from Pakistan in 1971. Discrimination is particularly brutal against the indigenous peoples of the Chittagong Hill Tracts region, who have suffered horrific human rights violations at the hands of Bangladeshi settlers and the military forces supporting them. Canada is an aid donor to Bangladesh and must take action to end the ongoing human rights violations against religious minorities and indigenous peoples.
An article published in the Globe and Mail last week lulled readers into thinking that India is struggling to contain a growing Hindu fascist movement, carelessly employing reductionism and omission to present a distorted view of a country that is gaining economic and cultural importance for Canada.
Only days ago, news leaked that Penguin Books India had quietly settled a 2011 lawsuit filed against it by a conservative Indian education reform group, which required the publisher to withdraw and destroy all available copies of the Indian edition of University of Chicago professor Wendy Doniger's book The Hindus: An Alternative History.
I began to question religion at a very young age. I suppose my early interest in science and constant observations of the mistreatment of women in Hinduism and Indian culture played a large role. Thankfully, I was raised by an intelligent, progressive woman who welcomed and encouraged my critical thought. Even as I started to question religion in general and mine in particular, I continued to celebrate Diwali. It seems to be the one day of the year where the whole country puts aside its trivial differences, lights up, and celebrates together as one. That's a holiday that even the most crotchety atheists, this one included, can celebrate.
You may have noticed some of your South Asian friends lighting small tealights or cooking up traditional Indian sweets over the past few days. That's ...