Friday, 23 May 2008

Malay and Tamil





Thursday, 22 May 2008

MIC: Death and Resurrection?

Though there might be hundreds of nails, the last three nails laid on the coffin of Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) that broke the proverbial camel's back were the Ninth Malaysia Plan's (9MP) inattention to Indian plight, MAIKA Holdings ruckus and the infamous temple destruction efforts by the officialdom.

Two were contributions from Barisan Nasional of which MIC is a member and one was a direct contribution by MIC itself. Therefore one can conclude that Barisan Nasional component parties were rather effective in collectively denying and bullying Indians.

The Five Year Malaysia Plans were ensured that they have always been glaringly irrelevant for the Indians. Even when MIC asked for plans to boost Indian equity from 1.5% to 3% by the year 2010, the latest of them, the Ninth Malaysia Plan saw it fit to say that it targets 3% by the year 2020 instead, clearly outside the plan period ending in 2010. The writers of the 9MP must have planted a joke to tickle themselves. Worse still, other than that one line statement, the 9MP had no details whatsover on how the target was to be achieved. That must have been a second joke planted in the plan so that Barisan MPs can laugh all the way to their graves.

The Shareholders Meeting of MAIKA Holdings meeting turned out to be a place where the shareholders can get whacked in full police presence and then sent back home bleeding instead of being given dividends for the hard-earned money they had trusted and invested. That is fantastic corporate governance unmatched in world history. Does the MIC leadership know the meaning of professional management?

Temple breaking must have been the latest sport with high thrill and was done with such relish by the officialdom that it looks like some of them actually believed that it was the best way to go to heaven. Nevermind if they had committed common crimes like corruption or lying about the indelible ink. Indeed, they were sent to the heaven of their choice, out of office. Videos of temple breaking must have served as entertainment among the officialdom just like in Australia where videos of white Australians shooting the aborigines for sport were circulated widely a few decades ago.

So, how would MIC regain the confidence of Indians? It is easy enough.

First, just ensure that the 9MP is amended to include all those that were supposed to have been genuinely done by an honest government for the Indians offsetting the acute neglect and omission of the last 50 years. Also amend the Vision 2020 too and implement actions to ensure that all communities in the country are genuinely taken care of in equitable manner. In other words, walk your talk.

Second, hand over the management of MAIKA Holdings to a genuine professional and capable group to manage without political interference. All politicians and their proxies should, in a display of self-respect, leave the company for good and never ever think of having anything to do with it. If this is done, I am sure MAIKA can be rescued and returned to produce a decent profit within a year or two.

Third, the MIC and the Government should take efforts to get land titles issued to all remaining Hindu temples in the country within the next 3 months so that the temple sitings are legalised. Issuance of land titles is the responsibility of the State Authority. This message therefore goes to opposition held state governments too. Also require that Hindu temples to submit proper building plans and approve them within the next 6 months. Never ever deny or delay unreasonably any request for approval of building plans for Hindu temples just because they are Hindu temples.

Now that is not so hard for a country that can send an Angkasawan for a jolly ride up in space burning millions of hard earned ringgit during these days of high food and fuel prices, is it? That is not so hard for a country that sent guided tour up the Himalayas to demonstrate to the world that Malaysians too can climb the Everest? If MIC and Barisan can just be sincere towards the Indians treating them the same as any other Malaysian citizen and genuinely do the best, which Indian would wish not to vote for MIC?

However, there is one catch though. The Indians, for that matter all Malaysians, are not waiting for MIC to repent, undo the damage and to behave properly hereonwards. The nails have been driven by Barisan Nasional as a whole into the coffin where MIC has voluntarily laid itself to rest and has chosen to rot beneath. Times have changed, as they say and life goes on.

What are the lessons from the above for the government of the day?

First, all Five Year Plans should cater for all Malaysians equitably and justifiably. Racial differences are superficial issues. Value all the humans who comprise the nation.

Second, the government should not be made an accomplice to rogue individuals using public companies to amass illegally personal weaalth. Corpoate governance and professionalism should be upheld at all times.

Third, all State Government should take the lead role of protecting all religious buildings especially in matters related to issuance of land titles and that approvals are graned for buidling plans submitted. All temples must have approved building plans in the interest of public safety and accepted standards.

Is there anything new in the above lessons? No. These are all omissions a responsible government would never have made.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Business and Racial Chambers

Business and Racial Chambers

The Malaysian electorate had demonstrated greater maturity during the last general election in choosing not to vote blindly along racial lines as goaded, and instead had made a serious attempt at voting out racialism.

It therefore appears reasonable to expect all existing racially divided organisations to take cue from this magnificence and do some soul-searching to see if they too can do away with the racial tag wherever it is practicable. Ofcourse it is not possible for all situations but I believe a serious voluntary attempt should be made at dismantling the racial divisiveness in organisations that seem to be needlessly divided by race.

A case in point is the commerce and industry organisations. At the national level, we have the “The National Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia” (NCCIM). The stated objective of NCCIM is to help represent the numerous interests of the Malaysian business community domestically and internationally. A key objective as proclaimed is to promote Malaysian exports and investments abroad, as well as to help create a conducive climate in Malaysia for foreign investors. It is a noble objective and there is nothing racial here.

The current five members of NCCIM include the Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MICCI) and the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) that too are non-racial in nature.

However, there are three other organisations as named below that are divided along racial lines, just like the Alliance Party of yesteryears:

  1. Malay Chamber of Commerce Malaysia (MCCM);
  2. The Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM);
  3. Malaysian Associated Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (MAICCI);

My question is this racial division still necessary today? Are our businesspersons and industrialists incapable of managing their business affairs except along racial lines? Is it not possible to have workable commerce and industry chambers without the racial tag?

The broader issue is how would the nation achieve integration, teamwork and synergy if we continue with such racially segregated organisations? Is there any overwhelming argument in support of continuing with such segregation?

Is it possible for NCCIM to address this matter by opening its doors to only multi-racial organisations and to do away with race based member organisations?

NCCIM may even find it more conducive to operate without the racial bickering that comes along with racially divided organisations as we have seen over the last 50 years of racially divided political parties and in the government they formed.

Further more when one looks at the Committees through which NCCIM operates, we find that they cover Human Resource Development & Training, Trade & Industrial Policies, Fiscal & Monetary Policies, Regional & International Affairs, Public Relations, Management & Steering, Finance and Bumiputra Participation. It is rather strange that despite the presence of three racially based organisations, there are no committees on Chinese and Indian participation. Does not that invite the question that NCCIM does not care about Chinese and Indian citizens?
Would it not be far better not to have racially motivated committees and instead have a Committee that encourages participation of all Malaysians?

Malaysian economy is export driven and therefore we need all the resources that we can get to emerge competitive in today’s globalised business world. Business organisations too have a responsibility to keep transaction costs low so that Malaysians remain competitive.
Would NCCIM and the Chambers of Commerce take the lead in showing the way for other organisations in Malaysia? Would the three racially divided chambers become a single organisation for all Malaysians?

(For further information on NCCIM, please visit its website at:

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Who are the Original People of Malaysia?

The scientists have made it clear. By studying DNA, they have established that the chromosome marker labeled M130 as the evidence for the first ever settlers of modern humans who emigrated from Africa into the Asian coastal land along the Indian Ocean, South China Sea, all the way to the Australia and the Americas. The first such migrations has been calculated to be about 70,000 years ago.

This genetic study also dispells any myth about the creation of modern humans independently in lands outside Africa. In other words, there is no such thing as sons or daughters of soil in lands outside Africa from at least from the scientific view point. Everyone everywhere outside Africa is a migrant, except that some came in earlier than others.

Genetic studies have also clearly established that all modern humans came from the same source in Africa and that the differences in looks are due to local adaptations of the human body in response to environmental differences. Typically one would find darker skin in hotter climates and lighter skin in colder climates with a whole lot of intermediary stages reflecting the multitude of environmental variations in the world. Over the years human being continued to evolve with differnt genetic markers signifiying some changes along the line.

In South India among one group of Tamils, the genetic marker M130 has been found showing them as direct discendents of the first humans who first emigrated out of Africa about 70,000 years ago. The interesting thing about the marker is that the same genetic footprint is also found among certain groups of orang asli in Malaysia and in larger numbers among the Australian aborigines.This marker is present in 10% of Malaysian aborigines, 15% of New Guineans and 60% of Australian Aborigines. This confirmed the first coastal migration from Africa to Australia, through India: an evidence that could not be obtained by archaeology has been obtained by genetics.

Therefore it is clear that the first settlers in Malaysia, Indonesia and in Australia were the migrants from South India about 40,000 to 60,000 years ago.

But Malays who claim to be "sons of soil" in Malaysia had not exhibited this ancient marker as have a few of the Orang Asli discendants. One needs to remember that Orang Asli is not a single racial group but comprise more than 14 different tribes in West Malaysia alone. A few of them look very much negroid.

Malays share their gene pool with those from Yunnan of Southern China. Moreover, their skin colour is not similar to those indigenous people of South East Asia which was dark like the Australian aborigines.

On the other hand a typcial Malay's skin colour and facial features are closer to Southern Chinese. Evidently they are later day migrants, but not more than over a period of a few thousand years at the most. Today's aborigines of Malaysian forests too have extensive mixed blood as a result successive inter-breeding with various racial groups.

Technically in Malaysia, a Malay came into existence only after conversion to Islam because political and legal definition of Malay is that the he or she must be a Muslim. On this token alone, one can argue that there were no Malays in Malaysia before about 1400, which gives them less than 700 years tenancy in Malaysia as compared to the carriers of M130 marker that goes beyong 40,000 years ago. The Malays were created only after conversion to Islam started on a massive scale following a palace coup by Muslim half-brother against his Hindu Malay half-brother in the Malaccan Hindu Kingdom and subsequently through engaging war over the other Malay Hindu Kings in the peninsula then. Moreover, in Islam, no Muslim can be allowed to renounce his religion. It is interesting to note that the Malays were referred to as Islamised Javanese and not even by the term Malays in the years 1,400 by traders.

DNA Shows 70,000 Year Link

April 4th, 2008

A 30-year-old systems administrator from a small village close to Madurai in Tamil Nadu has been identified as one of the direct descendants of the first ever settlers in India, who had migrated from the African coast some 70,000 years ago.

The DNA of Virumandi Andithevar, one of the circa 700 inhabitants of Jothimanickam village, matched the white chromosome marker scientifically labeled “M130″, which is a gene found only among the descendants of the African migrants who had spread across the world tens of thousands of years ago. “This young man and 13 members of his nine-generation clan carried the same marker in their genes. It means that his ancestors in all probability settled in this village several generations ago,” said Prof. Rm Pitchappan, who led a team of scientists tracking the “M130″ DNA.

“M130 is actually present sporadically among the population along the Western Ghats and around Madurai,” said Dr Pitchappan, who heads the School of Biological Sciences at Madurai Kamaraj University. His research was part of the “Genographic Project”, a global initiative launched by National Geographic and a team of reputed scientists for unraveling the mystery of human migration. “The genetic studies carried out using M130 told us about the first human migration to India. We identified the marker of the first coastal migration in our Madurai samples. The search took us to Virumandi, who belongs to the Piramalai Kallar community, whose DNA matched M130, establishing him as one of the direct descendants of the first migrant from the African coast, who must have come here some 70,000 years ago,” Dr Pitchappan said.

Virumandi is elated with the news. “This is God’s gift to me, to be told that my roots go back to 70,000 years. They used to say that our village of 700 people had spawned from just three ancestors and I had often wondered from where and when they came. Now I have the answer — they came 70,000 years ago from Africa,” Virumandi said.

It took five years to establish the DNA link between Virumandi and the first migrants to the subcontinent. The studies also proved that though the migration to India took place some 70,000 years ago, the first settlement in the South happened about 10,000 years later.
“More than half of the Australian aborigines carry this M130 gene. The marker is also present among some people in Philippines and the tribals of Malaysia,” said Dr Pitchappan.

The Genographic Project will gather all data in collaboration with indigenous and traditional people around the world. The public is invited to join the project by purchasing a Genographic Project public participation kit. The proceeds from the sales go to further field research and the Genographic Legacy Fund, which in turn supports indigenous conservation and revitalization projects.

from The Asian Age

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Goodbye to Virtues

Goodbye to Virtues

Good bye to good old virtues - for
Goons are voted with powers
Food for brains in withers
Fool is he asketh for justtice

Woe to all whistle blowers - for
Whom only prisons give shelters
Woo to all laughing jackals
Who relish blood of injustice

Cool are methods of looters - and
Clever are these rogue killers
Tools are their court room eunuchs
Doomed they are for eternities

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Empowering the Indian Youth


The Malaysian Indian community is waking up to the critical need for urgent and effective self-help measures from a community standpoint. Skimpy attention has been the way of officialdom for the past 50 years of independent Malaysia.

This proposal suggests a funding mechanism to promote self-help measures. Starting in a small way it envisages capacity to evolve into a sizeable and sustainable collaboration. Through networking among friends and relatives, willing and able Indians are to pool their resources through periodic contributions into a common vehicle. Part of the money will be used to fund selected social transformative projects, principally education and training, health and distress relief as organised by non-profit organizations around the country. Surplus cash is to be invested in well balanced and well managed funds globally and locally to accumulate the capital so that the vehicle becomes self-sustaining over time. Public involvement, good governance, professionalism, transparency, accountability, and web-based communications are cornerstones of the proposal.

The readers are expected to provide further input into enhancing the value and effectiveness of this proposal and to participate actively in the subsequent and agreed course of action.

1. Introduction

The need for community collaboration among Malaysian Indians had never been more urgent than today. This paper is intended as an aid to discussions in arriving at a consensus on specific measures that can be undertaken by Indians to help themselves through pooling of funds. The proposed idea is based on the “Do It Yourself” approach as a means of economic self-sufficiency.
The broad strategy is to empower the young Indians of Malaysia principally through education and training using pooled and sustained resources.

The term Indian is used in this context to represent the target segment among Malaysians who declare their ancestry as originating from South Asia.

It is acknowledged that ideally all of the disadvantaged Malaysian youth irrespective of their race should be included in an initiative of this nature with participation of all Malaysians. Perhaps some day in future this will actually happen.

In the meantime, it is an entrenched practice and policy of the Malaysian government supported by constitutional provision to provide differential care for the majority Bumiputra community. The Chinese who form the largest minority group in the country have moved ahead and firmly established self-sustenance and growth positioning themselves strongly in business, education and industry not only locally but also internationally.

Although some Indians have made significant progress through their own efforts, by default it is largely the Indian youth, the majority of whom are Tamils, that is bereft of hope and requires action on the part of Indian society.

There are historical reasons from pre-independent times for this dire situation, but more importantly the scant attention given by the officialdom during the last 50 years is single biggest factor.

Hence this initiative takes the view that all Indians are from one big family where family members willingly come forward to offer mutual help towards collective success.

2. The proposal
This proposal envisages the setting up of permanent machinery in the form of a locally registered organisation comprising Malaysian Indians. Its mission will be two-pronged as follows:
  1. To provide transformative grants to selected social development projects.
  2. To facilitate linkages to professional and business advisers registered with the Society for people who are undertaking self-employment or entrepreneurship or any expansion of existing businesses.
To facilitate the accomplishment of its missions, the Society will act as a vessel for receiving lump sums or periodic contributions from members, well-wishers and the successful beneficiaries of the programme.

The surplus funds are to be invested in secure forms of investments, both locally and globally in suitable portfolios under expert guidance. The proceeds may be used to provide grants to suitable transformative projects selected by a panel of experts and using objective criteria.
The second part of the proposal will allow a registered panel of professional and business experts who can provide advice on pro-bono basis or on special cost basis to fellow members of the society.

a. Rationale
This initiative is based on the reasoned view that the community’s critical need takes the form of adequate and sustainable funding as well as the wisdom of the advisors to stay and support key initiatives for the young Indian and his or her enterprise.

It is the vision of this initiative that the young Indian, if given the opportunities and space to flourish, would rise up to meet the demands and challenges the new millennium places on him.
The concept finds it inspiration from the planting of a good seed in a suitable environment and taking care of it until the plant is able to grow well and be able to provide shade, fruits and support various life forms. Careful replication and nurturing would lead to a forest of thriving trees evolving its own ecosystem for future sustenance.

b. Focus areas

The target group is the young Indian from primary school level up to tertiary educational level. Focus will be on the following key areas:

  1. Quality education

  2. Good health

  3. Distress relief
Part of the efforts to rejuvenate the Indian youth could involve continuance of proper life-long education. This would help the youth to adapt and evolve intellectually in an ever changing fluid environment.

c. How much to contribute

In allocating a portion of their assets or earnings, the existing models used by the Chettiar community could provide useful basis.

For millennia in traditional Chettiar-run temples in India, capital is accumulated through mahamai, an annual voluntary percentage contribution made from the total capital investment and profits of the firms operated by Chettiars. The rate of contribution varies. The money collected by the temples is re-lent to community members at low rates for on-lending to the public at market rates. This can be considered as a fore-runner to modern day cooperatives. However, the following need to be institutionalised as a community practice:

  • Personal emphasis on regular contributions as a discipline with the amount according to individual capacity

  • No transfer payment from the society to the individual as a moralistic equalizing factor.

  • All funding made available to the young Indian be based on the principle of investing in human capital that in turn generates greater benefits to the society as a whole
d. Governance
In undertaking this initiative, there is no other option to exercising the best practices and good corporate governance. Accountability and transparency are key cornerstones

i. The Strategy for increasing Contributors

The promoters of this idea should start with their protem committee. After having agreed to a plan for increasing contributors, the initial target will be to register 100 contributors among relatives and friends.

Each of the hundred contributors will encourage their respective friends and relatives to become contributors, using the same standard supportive material and process.

Apart from individual contributors, organizations such as companies and associations too are to be encouraged to become contributors.

ii. Simulations on Accumulations

To further understand the behaviour of the accumulation a simulation was done based on a number of assumptions. If each person’s monthly contribution is limited to 3 years, and that periodic withdrawals are allowed to fund actitivities, it is noted that a near equilibrium state is reached towards the end of 8 years. By then an annual withdrawal of RM200,000 can be made perpetually although expenses can be rising moderately.

Simulation was done for a period of 93 months. Assumptions included 1% attrition p.m. in the number of contributors, return on investment at 10%, tax excluded, high income contributors form 5% component at RM500 p.m., middle income contributors form 15% at RM150 p.m., and moderate income contributors form 80% at RM50 p.m. Contribution period is 3 years each. First year withdrawals for funding to amount to RM50,000 increasing to RM100,000 in the second year and going on to RM200,000 per year. Expsenses assumed to be RM24,000 during first year, thereafter increasing by RM6,000 per year thereafter. Expenses include staff salary, internet expenses, office administration and other communications. Space is expected to be free.

iii. Transformative Projects
The following entities are examples of who can be invited to submit concept papers for a single year or multi-year funding program, after attending a workshop on the requirements and paper submission:

  • Existing non-profit organization or a collaboration of non-profit agencies
  • Social entrepreneur(s) or group of community activists partnered with an appropriate non-profit organization
  • Consortium of temples
  • Consortium of schools

iv. Program Eligibility

The following types of programs that benefit the Malaysian Tamil community are likely candidates for consideration:

  • A cutting-edge program that has not been tested previously in any location in Malaysia but tried elsewhere in the world with success and can be adopted for trial replication.
  • A program that has been piloted anywhere in Malaysia, and proved to be viable and is proposed for community-wide implementation
  • Publication of books in Tamil, English and Malay on achievement imagery targeting the young Indian
  • Research proposals that would have direct positive impact on the progress of the young

v. Vision for the Community
Malaysian Indians should aspire to works towards becoming the cream of the society as duly acknowledged by everyone, through their conduct and achievements.

Challenging yet achievable goals are important in shaping not only community efforts but also personal lives.

vi. Key concepts adapted from Peter Senge which resonate which traditional Indian philosophy.

  • The Society is a product of how its members think and interact. Policies and rules alone do not create an organization. As Maharishi Ramana said, " One cannot legislate a society into goodwill".
  • The Society is a learning organisation. Knowledge and learning are living systems, not always readily apparent to the eye.
  • Hence in ensuring success of this initiative, communications and continued learning from each other are vital.

vi. Characteristics of achievement motivated people
Professor David McClelland of Harvard University observed that some people have intense need to achieve but not others. His research showed the following as some of the key characteristics of achievement-motivated people:

  • The capacity to set high personal but obtainable goals
  • The concern for personal achievement rather than rewards for success
  • The desire for job-relevant feedback (e.g., how well am I doing?) rather than for attitudinal feedback (e.g., how well do you like me?)

vii. Frugal life
In the USA, a study conducted in 2001, showed that the highest concentration of millionaires came from the minority communities of Russians, Scottish, and Hungarians in that order but not the from the majority English.

In a further study focusing on the Scottish, it was found that they were frugal and living well below their means. This allowed the Scottish to save and invest more than the others in the same income group. It was also found that the Scottish instilled their values of thrift, discipline, economic achievement, and financial independence in successive generations. These values are also typical traits among most self-made millionaires.

viii. Key Success Factors (Five disciplines as adapted from Peter Senge)

  • Personal mastery that includes proficiency, skill and vision of the all participants.
  • Basing our mental models that shape our behavior and attitudes, on data, agreement on the data, and understanding of the data-based reasoning.
  • Clear Shared visions of the organisation, and not just the vision of the leadership, agreed freely among all members and spread mainly through personal contacting.
  • Team learning through research papers, status updates, dialogue, classrooms, internet, books and other media. Communications is the key.

Systems thinking where one develops awareness of the complexity, interdependencies, and leverage. Systems thinking facilitates viewing of problems and goals as components of larger structures with feedback loops and not as isolated events. It is interesting to note that a 6th century Tamil scholar Peruvaayin Mulliyar in his book “aasaara kovai”, has outlined the eight benefits arising from good personal discipline and conduct.

This paper is intended to kick start discussions towards decision-making and commitment towards undertaking this initiative. All of the ideas presented herewith are open to challenge and further improvements.

The basic idea of pooling resources for collective economic gain is not new, and what may seem formidable can be achieved with good planning, commitment and execution aided by today’s environment of high technology, legal safeguards and knowledge world.

By taking the DIY approach, Malaysian Indians should be able to set an example for the rest of the world where minority groups can succeed even in disadvantaged positions.

As stated by Saint Thiruvalluvar (1st century B.C), "painstaking efforts will pay, even where God deems it impossible."

Friday, 2 May 2008

Hindus' Mother Goddess or Alla

Since prehistoric times, worship of the Mother Goddess in many forms was the standard practice in many cultures. It still continues in some cultures especially in Asia.

For example there are similarities between the Goddess Ma Tsu (Chinese)and Goddess Mariamman (Tamil), both of whom are Goddesses of the Sea. In Indian traditional culture, Mariamman is one of the numerous forms of Amman, the Supreme Mother of all beings in the universe.

One of the many of names of the Mother Goddess Amman is Alla. The word Alla means mother in Sanskrit and is used across many Indian languages.

One of the forms of Mother Goddess in Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva. One of the many names of Lord Shiva is Kabaali, which means "one holding a skull". It comes from the root word kabaalam which means head. The same word is also used in Malay as kepala. Lord Shiva in the form of Kabaali, is shown as holding a skull in his hand. Here Lord Shiva is depicted in the form of destroyer, as one of his functions. Here the word destruction is used in the sense of creative destruction, meaning that one form changes into another. To quote Lord Alfred Tennyson, "the older order changeth yielding place to new".

The Shiva Lingam, originally carved in natural crystals, is also often depicted by a black cylindrical stone. The black cylindrical stone form is also called Sanghey Ashweta, or Non-white stone. It must be present in any temple dedicated to Kabaali, i.e., Lord Shiva. The Lingam is a non-anthromorphic representation of the primeval energy of the universe. The underlying thought is here is that God is formless.

In Hinduism, thus one can see the presence of both ideas, i.e., a formless God as well as numerous forms of Gods. However one should also appreciate that the numerous forms of Gods as illustrated in Hindu Temples are the equivalent of visual presentation of abstract ideas in PowerPoint 5000 B.C. and therefore serve as visual aids to realise God.

Perhaps the most significant Hindu concept is that God is one. Even one of the oldest available sacred Indian texts on this subject, namely the Rig Veda, proclaims so. Numerous other sacred texts in numerous Indian languages have said the same thing. Nevertheless, humans are free to visualise God in any number of forms, or even conceptualise as a formless God. Humans are also free to call God by any number of names in any number of languages. That is one of the reasons why a few countries that adopted the Hindu ways of thinking gave their own local names for Gods and Goddesses as is still readily evident in Chinese cultures. In other cultures such as Khmers and Indonesians, the original Hindu names were retained. There are so many names for Gods that among Indians there is a form of worship of Gods using "Namavali"( nama = name; avali =row) meaning "row of names". One recites or sings simply hundreds or thousands of names of God as a show of love and devotion.

Recital or singing out prayers aloud is also an ancient Hindu tradition.

One of Lord Shiva's emblems is the crescent moon. Hindus have a practice of worshipping the Solar Planetary System known as a Navagraha Puja (nava = 9, graha = planet, also graha in Malay, puja = worship, puji in Malay). Included among the celestial bodies are Saturn and the Moon. The celestial bodies are represented by nine statues in a Hindu temple placed together in three rows of three planets each.

Going annual or once in a life-time pilgrimage to holy places such as Rameswaram in South Indian or Kasi in North India is also an ancient practice since time immemorial.

Hindus practice circum-ambulation which means going round and round the arrangement of Nine Planets while uttering mantras as prayers.

According to the Hindu tradition, Ganga (River Ganges) is inseparable from Lord Shiva just like the crescent moon as His emblem. So wherever there are Shiva or Kabaali's temples , there must a sacred river or water source nearby. The water at such places is treated as holy water.

Since ancient times, male Hindus shave their head and beard and don special sacred attire that consists of two seamless sheets of white cloth (Veshti and thundu) when they perform prayers in the temple. One of the white cloths is to be worn round a man's waist like a sarong and the other over his shoulders.

Ancient Vedic injunction of Panchmahayagna ( daily worshipping five times) requires that all individuals must pray five times a day. The word panchmahayagna is made up of 3 words: panch = five, maha = great, yagna = sacrifice.

Hindus commemorate their ancestors during the Pitr-Paksha that is the fortnight reserved for their remembrance.

In reading even the few practices as quoted above from Hinduism, one can easily see and identify for themselves how many of the practices of later day religions resonate with this most ancient religion of them all.

It is humbling to know that we are more similar than dissimilar.

Everyplace is my home; Everyone is my kin