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UNESCO blamed of hypocrisy for heritage status to island where women are forbidden

A woman takes part in celebrations after Valongo Wharf was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on July 10, 2017.

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Hindus have blamed United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) of hypocrisy over granting Okinoshima Island of Japan the World Heritage Site status where the women are not allowed to set foot.

UNESCO World Heritage Committee, whose 41st session is meeting in Krakow (Poland) on July 2-12, endorsed Okinoshima Island of Japan for inscription on UNESCO’s World Heritage List; it was announced on July nine.

Rajan Zed said that it was clear betrayal of the cause of UNESCO where “Gender Equality” was one of the two “Global Priorities”. He urged UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova to resign for insincerity to the ideals of UNESCO.

It was a blatant case of promotion and providing official stamp of approval to “gender-inequality” by UNESCO and its two-facedness, Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, noted.

UNESCO, which “considers gender equality as a fundamental human right, a building block for social justice and an economic necessity”, should be embarrassed of its actions of placing this Island even on its Tentative List of heritage sites. It seemed that UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and Executive Board Chairperson Michael Worbs and other concerned officials failed to really read and grasp the priorities and goals of the organization, Rajan Zed indicated.

Zed stated that UNESCO should not be in the business of rewarding the monuments/sites which refused to treat women with equality and respect they deserved. Women were entitled to equal rights and opportunities and this gender discrimination at the Island needed to end right now as it was highly inappropriate and out-of-line.

Rajan Zed, quoting scriptures, explained that ancient Manusmriti said: “Where women are revered, there the gods are pleased; where they are not, no rite will yield any fruit.”

Men and women were equal in the eyes of God; Zed said, and urged His Holiness Pope Francis and other world religious leaders to strongly speak on this gender equality issue. How could the “men-only” island be on the UNESCO World Heritage List? Zed wondered.

“Okinoshima Island and Related Sites in Munakata Region” was on the Tentative List under Japan in the UNESCO World Heritage Convention since 2009. A description of Okinoshima Island on UNESCO website includes: “where from the fourth to the tenth centuries national religious rituals were conducted to supplicate the gods” and “where gods descended to live in this world”. A “Nomination Dossier” was prepared by Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs for this site in January 2016.

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Hindus perturbed over damage to ancient Malaysia Hindu temple

Built in 6th century A.D, Candi Bukit Batu Pah...

Built in 6th century A.D, Candi Bukit Batu Pahat is the most well-known ancient Hindu temple found in Bujang Valley, Kedah, Malaysia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that it was shocking, saddening and tragic to learn about the damage caused to rich archaeological remains of Lembah Bujang in Kedah state. These Hindu temple ruins, besides being dear to Hindus, were highly important heritage for Malaysians and the world, Zed added.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, urged Malaysian Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohammad Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak to launch a thorough investigation into this damage and allocate additional funding to conserve the area.

Rajan Zed asked United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to declare Lembah Bujang a World Heritage Site and help fund its preservation efforts. It needed to be urgently protected and some serious efforts and strong political will were needed in this direction by Malaysia Government.

Commercial developer reportedly tore down these ancient Hindu temple remains in Bujang Valley. Efforts should be made to reconstruct the damaged prehistoric structure and developer should provide most of the funding, Zed stressed.

Rajan Zed argued that such callous treatment to ancient monuments should not be acceptable in Malaysia and the world. This should serve as a wake-up call for Malaysia and the world to take care of heritage sites and Malaysia should declare all Lembah Bujang archaeological sites as national heritage sites.

Zed wondered why it took so long for this damage to come to light. Chalking out some proactive policies for preservation of these valuable monuments might help in the future. According to reports, there were many temple ruins in Bujang Valley which were still undocumented and damage caused to some during the recent development might had thus gone unnoticed.

Malaysians should be proud of their legacy in Lembah Bujang and should preserve for future generations what their ancestors left for them. There were reportedly over 90 such archaeological sites in Lembah Bujang. Any further irresponsible and needless damage to the sites must be prevented with a swift action, Rajan Zed stated.

Reports suggest that Lembah Bujang, spread in about 224 square kilometers, is the richest archaeological site in Malaysia, consisting ruins over 2,000 years old. Excavation here has revealed a clay brick monument dating to 110 CE, making it the oldest piece in Southeast Asia.

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Cambodia appeals Hindus to help safeguard landmark Preah Vihear Shiva temple

Preah Vihear temple is one of the main factors...

Preah Vihear temple is one of the main factors of the current Cambodia-Thai dispute via Wikipedia

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Cambodia has sought the help of the Hindus worldwide to help safeguard the landmark Preah Vihear Shiva temple, which was reportedly damaged recently due to Thai-Cambodia border clashes.

Ros Borath, President of Cambodia’s National Committee for the World Heritage, in a emailed letter to Rajan Zed, President of Universal Society of Hinduism, wrote with the hope that “Hindu world will soon take notice of this place, most sacred to Shiva, and help people of Cambodia to safeguard this world heritage monument with universal spiritual value as propounded by Lord Shiva”.

“Preah Vihear is Mount Kailash of South East Asia in the Dangrek range. Bhadreshvara-Shiva arrived here from Vat Phu via India to radiate his Shiva Teja over people of South East Asia flourishing under the Angkor kingdom. Preah Vihear is the open air theatre for the cosmic dance of Shiva. The colossal dancing image of Shiva is sculpted on the door frame (Pediment) of the mandapa of the main temple”, Borath argued.

Describing the Temple, Committee President Borath further wrote: “Besides the central temple where this dancing image of Shiva is sculpted, there are four other temples at the four levels of the plateau (gopura II-IV). These gopuras are in reality mandapas where the gods of the family of Shiva (parivara devata) are depicted. Images of Brahma, Vishnu, Krishna and Shvia are all carved in bas-reliefs on the lintels and pediments over the doors of these five temples. Sanskrit and Khmer inscriptions found from Preah Vihear inform us that this temple complex was a great hermitage center for meditation, following the path of Shiva. There were a number of hermitages at the foothills of Dangrek, and the networking of these ashramas was done from Mount Preah Vihear, Kailash of mainland Southeast Asia.”

“Since the sculpture of Shiva is above the door of the mandapa of the main temple, its safety is in great danger. All the images of parivara devata of Shiva, as they are sculpted out side the structure on the doorframes, are in great danger”, he added.

From KM wikipedia at วิกิพีเดียภาษาเขมร User T-Rithy

Pictures of the Preah Vihear Shiva temple were also attached, indicating damages to Gopura (towered gateway found at the entrances to temples) I, II, III, IV, and V resulting from Thai-Cambodia border clashes.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, urged various Hindu organizations world over to raise public opinion about this Shiva (Bhadreshvara) Temple, claimed to be one of the world’s biggest temple complex dedicated to Shiva.

Expressing serious concern at the reported damage, Rajan Zed said that international community, UNESCO, and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) should immediately provide funding to bring back this Lord Shiva temple to its original shape as it was before Thai-Cambodia clashes began February four. These organizations should not shy away to shoulder their responsibility of saving the important heritage of the world and respecting the feelings of Hindus worldwide, Rajan Zed said and added that  besides temple repairs, some infrastructure in the area should also be provided for devotees and other visitors.

Zed stressed that this landmark age-old and revered Preah Vihear Hindu Shiva temple complex was important to Hindu heritage and must be preserved to pass it on to the future generations. Damage to 11th century Shiva temple was shocking and hurtful to the Hindu community world over. Lord Shiva, one of the major deities in Hinduism forming great triad with Brahma and Vishnu, was focus of worship of the Hindus, and it was important for them that Preah Vihear Hindu Shiva temple be protected. It was a world heritage and it was moral duty of the world to keep it intact for the coming generations.

Known as Preah Vihear in Cambodia and Khao Phra Viharn in Thailand, this remote temple at the border between Thailand and Cambodia, which had reportedly not been clearly demarcated, had been a source of tension for generations. Preah Vihear was said to even predate Cambodia’s Angkor Wat temple complex by about 100 years and its stunning setting made it finest of all the ruins left from the mighty Khmer civilization, Rajan Zed stated.

Zed pointed out that world should not let this sacred site dedicated to Lord Shiva (situated where Preah Vihear province of northern Cambodia touched Sisaket province of eastern Thailand) be further damaged to advance political agendas of some as there appeared to be a no clear solution to settle the long-standing territorial dispute surrounding the temple, which was already a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and whose history could be traced to 9th century when the hermitage was founded.

Moreover, Temple of Preah Vihear, an outstanding masterpiece of Khmer architecture mostly created by Suryavarman I and Suryavarman II, was a unique architectural complex of a series of sanctuaries and was said to be exceptional for the quality of its architecture and carved stone ornamentation. It was reportedly dedicated to the Hindu deity Shiva in his manifestations as Sikharesvara and Bhadresvara. It was also said to be marking representation of sacred Mount Meru, the abode of the gods, and showing a depiction of Churning of the Ocean, a Hindu scriptural episode, Rajan Zed said.

Cambodian Government’s Committee describes Preah Vihear as: The site serves as a sacred place worshipping to the Hindu god Shiva manifesting as Sikharesvara (the Lord of Peak) and his figures are depicted on pediments and lintels.