How Ancient are Ancient Temples?

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Popular Essays

By AMITA KANEKAR

 

Hindu temples in the news means that election season is upon us. First there was the violence at Sabarimala in Kerala, following the Supreme Court judgement lifting the temple’s ban on the entry of women of menstruating age. In what Kerala’s BJP chief reportedly called a ‘golden opportunity’ for his party, women trying to enter the shrine were violently stopped by rampaging mobs. Meanwhile in the north, we see the sudden reiteration of the old Sangh Parivar demand for a Ram temple on the site of the demolished Babri Masjid. The demand was not surprisingly accompanied by the declaration that only Modi would build the temple, which is why he must be voted in again.

 

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When Will #MeToo Challenge Hindu ‘Sanskaar’?

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

In one of the #MeToo cases which received widespread publicity, media reports of the allegations against the actor Alok Nath were accompanied by the information, in either shocked or ironic tones, that the man had always been seen as the most ‘sanskaari’ of actors. What the tones implied was that all the ‘sanskaar’ seems to have been just a hoax, with the real Mr Hyde now finally exposed. Implicit in this was the message that those who are really sanskaari, i.e. full of Indian, or rather Hindu, culture, will never behave like this. In other words, this behaviour is foreign to Hindu culture.

 

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The Politics of Renovation: The Disappearing Architecture of Goa’s Old Brahmanical Temples

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Scholarly Articles

By AMITA KANEKAR

 

2018. “Politics of Renovation: The Disappearing Architecture of Goa’s Bragmanical Temples.” In Preserving Transcultural Heritage: Your Way or My Way? Questions of Authenticity, Identity and Patrimonial Proceedings in the Safeguarding of Architectural Heritage Created in the Meeting of Cultures, edited by Joaquim Rodrigues dos Santos, 253-263. Casal de Cambra: Caleidoscópio – Edição e Artes Gráficas.

 

ABSTRACT

The unique architecture of Goa’s old Brahmanical shrines is under threat today, and one reason seems to be a perception that it is not Hindu enough. Goa’s centuries-long Islamicate and Iberian connections have left behind a heterogeneous culture in many aspects, including architecture. The many Brahmanical temples built from the seventeenth century onwards are examples of this, their hybrid forms belonging as much to the Islamicate world and the European Renaissance as to local building traditions. But, while these temples still stand today and attract increasing numbers of worshippers, their original architecture is disappearing, to be replaced by forms and elements from outside Goa. This paper examines the attempts to erase these unique forms, and the relation of this to the social, political, and legal context.

Keywords: heritage, preservation, Goa, Hindu temples, Brahmanical temples.

Download article here.

 

On the Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda’s Famous Speech

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Popular Essays

By AMITA KANEKAR

 

The Goan and Indian media recently marked the 125th anniversary of Swami Vivekananda’s celebrated speech, made in Chicago to the ‘World’s Parliament of Religions’. Now, 125 years is an odd anniversary to commemorate, but then this was no ordinary speech. It was a speech that made Vivekananda a hugely popular figure across the country – as seen by the hundreds of streets named after him – is still celebrated in school textbooks, and seen as something for all Indians to be proud of, even though it was not about India but about the Hindu religion. The fact that Vivekananda visited Goa just before making this speech has evoked some excitement here too, given the strong likelihood that the visit contributed to his ideas.

 

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Wanted Urgently: A New Model of Governance

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

I was astounded to hear, a couple of months ago, of a glass house being built in Goa. Large-scale glass usage in buildings was developed to allow in maximum natural heat in cold climes, which reduced artificial heating and thus saved energy. Glass-fronted commercial buildings then became popular the world over, an aspirational look that became known as the International Style, even where they had to be supported by expensive airconditioning. But a glass house in a hot and humid place like Goa? Described in trade journals as the vision of fashion designer Tarun Tahiliani and architect Sameep Padora, and ‘nestled among the lush green fields and backwaters of Goa’, the villa will apparently sprawl over about 660 sq m., in a huge 1690 sq m. plot. It uses very special kinds of glass, we are told, designed for ‘intrusion-resistance’, privacy, and energy efficiency, besides keeping out dust and noise. No information of its cost, nor its consumption of air-conditioning.

 

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The Benefits of having an IITian CM

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

Parrikar used to be a popular politician in Goa, and the thing people seemed to like most about him was his IIT background. Of course, there were also those who liked him for belonging to the RSS or to the Saraswat community. But there is little doubt that his IIT degree was his biggest credential, which worked even among those who would otherwise never dream of voting for either the RSS or Saraswats.

 

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Menstruating without Oppressing Humans or Nature

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

Goa has become a garbage dump. Old-timers find this more appalling than others, for they remember a pre-1961 Goa which frowned upon public littering, spitting, urinating, and defecation. But changing attitudes is just one part of the problem. The other is today’s culture of disposables, especially single-use plastic. And the fact that, although more than 98% of Goa’s garbage is compostable or recyclable – according to vRecycle, the Salcete-based waste management company – this doesn’t get done, for which the blame lies both with the public and the government. As for the remaining 2%, a big part of which is gel-based personal hygiene products like sanitary napkins and diapers, which cannot be disposed of safely, the only way out is stop usage.

 

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Blaming Rape on Colonial Rule

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

The outrage over the Kathua and Unnao rape cases has its problems. The major one is that it leads one to believe that these crimes – and their fall-out – are something new, when in fact they are the norm in India. Rape has been used historically all over the world to terrorise, but continues so in India, where rapes of the vulnerable – women and men, children and adult – are routine. Plus some rapes are not even considered crimes by the law, like marital rape. Many rapes are also not even reported because the rapists are relatives and other known people, and the new death penalty will only worsen this. Besides all this, the armed forces of the country are routinely accused of horrifying rapes, including Kunan-Poshpora of 1991 and many others in Kashmir, and the 2004 Manorama case in Manipur, about which justice has rarely, if ever, been done.

 

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Beauty is not the Issue

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

An important victory was achieved by the Goan people against their own government a couple of days ago, when the villages of St. Andre and St. Cruz were removed from the controversial Greater Panjim Planning and Development Authority (PDA), thus forestalling the intensive real estate development that the latter entails. This victory comes on the back of a few other significant wins against the perverse development being foisted on us, with the courts stopping both mining and the moving of mined ore, the Pollution Control Board halting operations at Mormugao Port for lack of environmental clearance, and, of course, the Bombay High Court’s judgement last year, against Parrikar’s shifting of Goa’s National Green Tribunal bench to Delhi, in which Justices G S Patel and N D Sardessai waxed eloquent on Goa’s beauty  – ‘ridiculously brilliant sunsets’ et al – and called it a land worth fighting for.

 

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