By Danish Siddiqui
The River Ganges is sacred in Hinduism, and the city of Varanasi, which lies on its banks, is one of the oldest and holiest sites for Hindu pilgrims from all over the world.
(The opinions expressed are the author's own, and may not necessarily reflect those of Thomson Reuters)
Controversy overshadowed events this month when European Union officials invited Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders from 13 member states and Russia to a meeting on economic governance. Most of the Jewish leaders invited refused to attend, saying they considered some of the Muslim organisations taking part to be radical and anti-Semitic. The Universal Society of Hinduism issued a statement complaining it had not been invited and declaring: "It was clearly an insult."
Annotated Bibles come in all shapes, sizes and standpoints. One of the most interesting recent examples is The New Community Bible in India. The novelty is not the text itself but the extensive footnotes comparing and contrasting Christian teachings with those of India's main religions. Christians make up only 2.3% of India's 1.1 billion population compared to 80% for Hindus and 13% for Muslims. The illustrations are also clearly Indian -- in the drawing for the Flight to Egypt (at right), Mary wears a sari and a bindi on her forehead while Joseph sports a turban.
It was another sign of how Muslim organisations in India appear to be taking the initiative as the country suffers from a string of bombings, often blamed on suspected Islamists, that has raised tensions between majority Hindus and minority Muslims.
For those Western critics that say Islam does not enough to to condemn terrorism, perhaps they should look at India, home to one of the world's biggest Muslim populations -- around 13 percent of mainly Hindu India's 1.1 billion people.
The issue of redressing the imbalance of Hinduism's ancient caste system by creating job and college entry quotas for lower caste and other disadvantaged groups in India seems to be gaining headway in an election year. Now it may be the turn for private industry.