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What it means to be an Indian American celebrating Holi in America

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Holi celebrations at Radha Madhav Dham

AUSTIN, TX. (Diya TV) — The past few weeks have been sombre for many Indians across the U.S. With increasing incidents of hate crimes, many are getting calls from loved ones in India, checking if it was safe to continue living here. It was then with a sign of hope, that the festival of colors, Holi, announced the arrival of spring. Besides a late winter chill and thunder showers in Austin, thousands came out to play Holi this weekend.

Holi Celebrations across the world!

#WATCH: #Holi celebrations across the world! Including some messages from #Bollywood celebs and the captain of #Indian #cricket team Virat Kohli. #HappyHoli everyone!

Posted by DiyaTV on Monday, March 13, 2017

The popular Holi at Radha Madhav Dham was like a fun healing retreat to those who attended. Participants were down to a third due to the cold rains. People of all communities came together to dance around each other and throw fistful powdered colors at friends and strangers willing to play.

Holi celebrations, Ranch at Brushy Creek

Holi celebrations, Ranch at Brushy Creek

Holi celebrations, Ranch at Brushy Creek

Holi celebrations, Ranch at Brushy Creek

Holi celebrations, Ranch at Brushy Creek

Holi celebrations, Ranch at Brushy Creek

Several other temples and various neighborhoods organized the festivities. There was plenty of Bollywood dance and music. Indian hot chai broke into the cold weather to further raise spirits. No one missed getting drenched with water—another quintessential part of Holi that was replaced by the drizzle.

One of the most beautiful aspects of living in a multi-racial country is the sharing of festivals.People of all races bringing forth so many colors of life. Each festival celebrating the triumph of good over evil—one way or the other.

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Congresswoman Ilhan Omar pushes resolution to declare India a country of particular concern

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WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-MN), who visited Pakistan on a non-state department sanctioned visit recently, has pushed along a resolution that would declare India as a country of particular concern in violation of religious freedom. This resolution has been in the works for 3 straight years, but ultimately nothing has materialized. This push forward by Omar represents another call to the Biden administration for India to be designated as a violator of religious freedom. Whether the resolution will go even further along is to be determined.

https://twitter.com/scroll_in/status/1540006265434374144

Recently, Omar visited Pakistan and spoke with high-ranking Pakistani officials, Prime Minister Imran Khan being chief among them. She also has a history of siding with Pakistan in the past, so this resolution does not come as a total surprise. 

The details of the resolution go over how India has allegedly targeted Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, and other religious minorities and thus, direct human rights violations. This has been said to be an issue for the past few years as mentioned before, the resolution has been trying to be sent through to the president for 3 consecutive years. 

Omar gave insight into why she believes this resolution must be passed along and brought to President Biden’s attention:

“The Indian government must be held responsible for human rights violations against religious and cultural minorities…In recent years, the Indian government has been escalating repressive policies against Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, and Dalits. It is past time for the State Department to acknowledge the reality of the situation in India and formally designate India as a Country of Particular Concern under the International Religious Freedom Act.”

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Arts & Culture

OPINION: The TWO INDIAS controversy: Why should you care?

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Vir Das at Kennedy Center

NEW YORK — (Diya TV) On a brisk mid-November evening, Indian-born comedian Vir Das, walked into the historic Kennedy Center in New York. Standing in front of a full house, he began his monologue. He talked about the contrast and touched on many social issues in India, including womens rights, farmer rights, nationalism and poverty.  During his performance he was fully cognizant of the stage he stood on, the gravity and the scale of this stage was with him as he defined himself as an Indian, as he took ownership of ‘his two Indias’. 

Vir Das’ TWO INDIAS monologue at the Kennedy Center in New York

“I represent a great thing, that is turning into a memory,” Das said as he was wrapping up the perfomance.

While the twittersphere reacted with equal amounts of duality, the controversy however is beyond just social media. Some Indian citizens living in India reacted with police complaints. 

Many lauded Das for his courage to speak about these issues, while others reacted in complete contrast questioning why Das would “insult India” in front of a white audience. After the backlash, Das tweeted a clarification.

But there is another response, that mainstream non-ethnic media glazes over, one that paints a different picture. A response by Sanil Gosavi, a Mumbai based entertainer, one with only 300 Twitter followers, nearly 5000 Insta followers, which pails in comparision to Vir Das’s storied career and his 7.8M Twitter & 1M Insta followers.

Gosavi’s twitter bio reads “My tweets might contain facts & opinions that will be offensive to wokes.”

Depending on where you align politically you may disagree with one these gentlemen, but the imporant distinction here is, Gosavi was born and raised in India and still resides there.

Das on the other hand was born in Dehradun, India but was raised in Nigeria, which much like India was colonized by the same crown and finally became a free nation in 1960, thirteen years after India gained its independence. Das went on to then attend Delhi Public school and later graduated from Knox College in Illinois and spent at year at Harvard University. After graduating from Knox, Das was accepted into the Stanislavsky Program of the Moscow Arts Theatre. And until most recently lived in New York till he decided to sell his house and travel.

Sanil Gosavi’s response to Vir Das’ Two Indias

So what it comes down to is, whose Indian duality do you agree with and why you should care. I care because I see a change. A change in the way the next generation of Indian citizens now refuse take insults lying down. A change where being Indian doesn’t always have to begin with first apologizing for your country’s shortcomings and only then daring to even touch upon its greatness. A change where Indian citizens demand the same dignity afforded to other world citizens, despite their imperfections. 

So, while Das maybe spending more time in America or travelling the world, the unapologetic Gosavi is ironically more American in his spirit. 

 

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Human Rights

Remembering the Murder of George Floyd

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George Floyd

NEW YORK (Diya TV)  — One week ago, at 9:25 pm CDT, George Floyd — a 46-year-old Black father of two — was officially pronounced dead at the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

On May 25 , Mr. Floyd was killed in broad daylight by Derek Chauvin, a white police officer with the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD), who kept his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Several bystanders who recorded the killing on their phones captured Mr. Floyd repeating, “Please,” “I can’t breath,” and “Don’t kill me.” The three other police officers, Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng, and Thomas K. Lane all participated in the arrest and based on videos, did nothing to intervene during Mr. Floyd’s last desperate pleas for help.

Since then, Chauvin has been fired, arrested, and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has been asked by Governor Tim Walz and Mr. Floyd’s family to take over the prosecution of Chauvin’s case; Attorney General Ellison said that he anticipates additional charges for the other officers present when Mr. Floyd was murdered. Additionally, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has opened a federal civil rights investigation into the matter and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is also investigating possible violations of Minnesota statutes.

In the week since, the Sikh Coalition has joined demands for a completely thorough and transparent investigation into the police misconduct involved in the death of Mr. Floyd and signed onto calls for new federal legislation to increase transparency and thwart police abuse. We also echo the anger felt by millions of Americans across the nation.

Systemic anti-Black racism within law enforcement and throughout the United States contributes directly to the deaths of unarmed Black people. This deadly problem has to change and the Sikh community must stand in unequivocal solidarity with Black Americans in our shared struggle to combat bigotry, racism, and hate.

The Black community has led the civil rights movement and paved the path for all minorities in this country, including Sikh Americans. We must continue to support efforts to ensure justice, including ongoing demands for complete transparency and accountability in the murder of George Floyd and countless others who have been killed as a result of police brutality. We must address the anti-Black sentiments within our own community by vocalizing that Black Lives Matter. We must stand and act in solidarityHere is a guide on how to be an ally.

There are a myriad of exceptional frontline organizations you can support and actions that you can take to specifically demand justice and show solidarity in response to George Floyd’s case. For more information on some of those organizations or direct action initiatives, click here.

As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.

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