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Why Indian Americans continue to protest against CNN over Reza Aslan’s show?

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Protestors gather outside CNN headquarters in Atlanta against Reza Aslan's show Believer
Protestors gather to voice their concern regarding Reza Aslan's show Believers (Courtesy: Facebook)

Protestors gather to voice their concern regarding Reza Aslan’s show Believers (Courtesy: Facebook)

CHICAGO (Diya TV) — The show aired March 5th, yet Several Indian-Americans have continued to protest and raise their concerns over CNN’s show Believer hosted by religion scholar Reza Aslan. And if you are wondering why is this still a matter of contention, the issue many Indian Americans say is about responsibility.

Earlier this weekend, several Indian Americans descended upon CNN’s Chicago headquarters over the weekend to protest the network’s new series, Believer, which they believe is a negative introduction to Hinduism. The show focused on a fringe sect of Hinduism called the ‘Aghoris’ and while many understand and agree the ‘Aghoris’  do not represent the mainstream Hindu community, many believe the show has portrayed Hinduism in a bad light.

The initial outrage sparked comments from lawmakers and prominent Hindu Americans on both the Democratic and Republican sides.

The Hindu American Foundation released a statement showing deep concerns over the timing and the insensitivity on part of the network.

“Religious literacy in the United States about Hinduism, as every Hindu American knows, is woefully inadequate. The Pew Religious Knowledge Survey of 2013 found that only 36% of Americans could answer a single question about Hinduism: Whether Shiva and Vishnu were deities associated with Hinduism. When the knowledge deficit is so stark, and minority communities are facing a rise in hate incidents across the US— a Hindu American was killed and Sikh American was shot in likely hate crimes in the past week — why would Aslan and CNN sensationalize the Aghoris as a primetime introduction to the faith of a billion Hindus, most of whom have never seen or met an Aghori?” – Samir Kalra, HAF 

Supporters showed up in the hundreds for the event, where circulated letters said CNN were responsible for showcasing the grotesque and chilling traditions of one group of people, not the Hindu religion. “The grotesque practices of five individuals have nothing to do with Hinduism, they are not part of any Hindu scriptures or Hindu teachings,” said Bharat Barai, a resident of Chicago.

Hindu-American groups from across the country have held protests against the network since the March 5 airing of the episode. Events have since been held in New York, Houston, Atlanta, San Francisco and the nation’s capital. This weekend’s event had the largest turnout of any of the previous.

Vamsee Juluri, an Indian-American professor of media studies at the University of San Francisco wrote a blog on Huffington Post calling out CNN

“It is unbelievably callous and reckless of CNN to be pushing sensational and grotesque images of bearded brown men and their morbid and deathly religion at a time when the United States is living through a period of unprecedented concern and fear,” Juluri wrote.

In a statement, USINPAC Chairman Sanjay Puri said, “In a charged environment a show like this can create a perception about Indian Americans which could make them more vulnerable to further attacks,”

To the critics Aslan responded on Twitter

And the Twittersphere shot back

Aslan has maintained he wanted to make a show that would entertain, the intention behind “Believer” was to spread awareness and not to sensationalize.

“Our hope is to introduce people to world views and faith communities that may seem a little strange and foreign and even frightening,” he said in an interview with HuffPost. “But after watching me go through the experience of becoming part of these communities they may seem more relatable.”

However many Hindu question how showcasing the Hindu sect of ‘Aghori’ in a manner ‘Believer’ did, is making Hindus or ‘Aghori’ more relatable?

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Pastor challenges yoga, Hinduism for having ‘demonic’ roots

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (Diya TV) — A Missouri pastor criticized yoga for its ‘demonic intent’ because of Hinduism influences. John Lindell of the James River Church in Ozark, Mo., which serves over 10,000 people in its congregation, warned Christians to not partake in the activity.

“They were designed, they were created with demonic intent, to open you up to demonic power because Hinduism is demonic,” Lindell said during a sermon on Oct. 28 according to the Springfield News-Leader.

While yoga is a longstanding practice originating from India, there is no indication that it is based off religious values. According to India’s Ministry of External Affairs, it is stated yoga doesn’t adhere to any particular religion or belief system.

Yoga translates to “union” in Sanskrit, an ancient language of India. Given its broad meaning, the practice has varied locally and abroad. In addition, there are variations in certain disciplines — which can have a Hinduism, Buddhism or Jainism influence — but it is dependent on the type of schools, practices and goals one is pursuing.

In the U.S., it’s become popular for various outcomes. Whether it be for physical, mental or spiritual pleasure, yoga has served as a peaceful outlet for many without it impacting their religious beliefs. While Lindell claimed it’s “spiritually dangerous,” many in the area have responded.

Heather Worthy, a Christian and yoga instructor in Springfield, only had four people attend her class following the sermon.

“It’s so frustrating,” Worthy told the Springfield News-Leader. “The whole thing is quite ludicrous to me.”

Worthy felt attacked, and she wasn’t alone.

With about a dozen yoga classes in the Springfield area, Amanda Davis has spent her last 12 years as an instructor.

“Yoga doesn’t prescribe to any religion, and I don’t think people understand that so they get false ideas about it,” Davis said, one week after a Florida gunman killed two people and injured five at a yoga studio.

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Donald Trump takes subtle jab at FCC Chairman Ajit Pai during Diwali ceremony

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WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — President Donald Trump took time to appreciate and honor fellow South Asian members in his administration during a Diwali celebration, but he did also manage to throw a jab at Ajit Pai.

Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, was criticized by Trump earlier this year during the Sinclair-Tribune merger which halted the conservative local news giants.

The decision made by Pai, a conservative, infuriated Trump:

Fast forward to the Diwali celebration at the White House, the president managed to bring it up again. After raving about how “grateful” he was to have numerous Americans of Indian and Southeast Asian heritage in critical roles and who’ve done an “incredible job,” the remark was unfitting.

After singling out Pai, he reflected on some of that “incredible” and said the following:

“”I just didn’t like one decision he made, but that’s alright,” he joked, then he subtracted some of that “alright,” adding: “not even a little bit, but he’s independent.”

Pai, who is of Indian American descent, was designated by Trump in January 2017 — becoming the first Indian American to hold the office.

The Harvard and Chicago Law School graduate previously served as commissioner of the FCC after being appointed by former president Barack Obama.

Though Trump didn’t elaborate much after pointing him out, it has been noted that Pai carries a heavy load in how media is presented.

Pai’s decision to reverse Sinclair’s merger was based on his stance of the people’s interest and keeping media diverse throughout the country.

Along with first amendment best practices, Pai is focusing on issues relating to broadband, public safety and fiscal responsibility.

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Bollywood sweethearts Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh tie the knot in Italy

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Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh getting married by Lake Cuomo in Italy. Seen here in there 'Konkani' Wedding Ceremony. Photo: Twitter.com
Bollywood superstars Deepika Padukone & Ranveer Singh tie the knot in Lake Como, Italy

LAKE CUOMO, Italy — Bollywood sweetheart couple, Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh have officially tied the knot at a private villa against the scenic Lake Como backdrop, in Italy. The two-day ceremony included a ‘Konkani‘ style ceremony as well as ‘Sindhi‘ ceremony to bring these two Bollywood stars into matrimony.

The couple released two pictures on twitter, with a simple heart emoji

The newlyweds began their love story on screen, sharing intimate moments in films like ‘Ramleela’,’Bajirao Mastani‘ and Padmavat.

According to the Huffington Post, film director Sanjay Leela Bhansali said ‘cut’ during their kiss toward the end, but they continued their sizzling moment as over 50 crew members mesmerizingly watched. It was the start of a blossoming relationship, forging together a Bollywood power couple with chemistry on and off set.

The much awaited wedding ceremony left no stone unturned to celebrate this star couple in grand style with an intensely private and synchronized affair set against at Italy’s scenic Lake Como backdrop, at Villa del Balbianello.

Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh getting married by Lake Cuomo in Italy. Seen here in there 'Sindhi' Wedding Ceremony. Photo: Twitter.com

Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh getting married by Lake Cuomo in Italy. Seen here in there ‘Sindhi’ Wedding Ceremony. Photo: Twitter.com

An Indian Bollywood wedding without a celeb designer? I think not. The duo opted to go with veteran designer Sabyasachi Mukherji. ‘Sabya‘ as fans often call him, drew inspiration from the wedding ceremony theme and designed decadent outfits in shades of red, pink and all things ‘shaadi‘ for both the ‘Konkani‘ & ‘Sindhi‘ ceremonies. Deepika wore a veil with the words,”Sada Saubhyagyavati Bhava” embroidered along the hem draped over her head. This mantra translates to “be forever fortunate” is often a blessing given to newly weds, wishing them a ‘happily ever after’ life ahead.

Ofcourse no Bollywood wedding is complete without all the ‘Badhaai‘ or well wishes from fellow co-stars, most of who took to twitter to shower the newly minted couple.

A Bollywood wedding, without some ‘filmy’ elements is nearly impossible. According to Filmfare, Singh made his grand entry on Govinda’s hit song ‘Meri Pant Bhi Sexy’, continuing with ‘Chunari Chunari’ and ‘One Two Ka Four‘ as he reached the wedding venue with his family and relatives.

With heavy security for this intensely private ceremony, the couple remained sensitive to the plight of hundreds of fans & paparazzi gathered to capture a glimpse of their special event. They sent gift packs of sweets to the media, thanking them for their wishes.

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