Third anniversary of Forum for Hindu Awakening’s website : approaching the quarter million mark !
Forum for Hindu Awakening's (FHA's) website (www.ForumforHinduAwakening.org) was inaugurated on Makar Sankrāntī 5110 (14 January 2009) by His Holiness Dr. Jayant Athavale. This Makar Sankranti (15 January 2012) completes its third anniversary. This year, FHA reached over 250,000 people online, to promote the understanding, living and preserving of Hinduism, and to unite the supporters of Hinduism.
The visits to FHA’s website and Youtube videos have more than doubled since last year (2010). The site received over 193,000 visitors from over 188 countries around the world. Visits to the site incresed around major Hindu festivals, such as Diwāli and especially as the activities of FHA gained momentum worldwide. With the visits to articles on festivals of Shree Ganēsh Chaturthī and Pitru-paksha, in September the FHA website visits crossed the 20,000 per month mark for the first time and remained consistently high thereafter. In October, FHA website visits grew further with Diwali articles and with FHA's protests against 'Shree Ganēsh versus Third Reich' making the cover of Bharat Times, Melbourne's most subscribed Indian newspaper.
Growing trust in FHA to take up Hindus' issues
Despite its small size, FHA is prompt in taking up issues of Hindus reported to them. In 2011 alone, FHA has held 4 Hinduism Summits (Dharmajāgruti Sabhas) and protested against tens of denigrations outside India. The protest campaigns were successful in creating awareness in the Hindu community and society at large, as they generated much debate in the media, besides stopping the denigration in 90% of the cases, such as stopping the sale of Yoga pants inscribed with Hindu chants and painting of Goddess Saraswatī in transparent clothing being taken down by the artist. The July NY (Starlight Pavilion) show of 'Sītā Sings the Blues', a denigrating film, was canceled by the organizers upon receiving over 1000 letters from supporters of Hinduism within 2-3 days of FHA's appeal to protest. Close to 100 volunteers from local Hindu organizations joined FHA outside the San Jose Museum of Art in August in protest against the exhibition of M. F. Husain's paintings and 'Sita Sings the Blues' show. In October, FHA received a complaint about exhibition of M. F. Husain's paintings at former Bollywood actress Hema Malini's dance performance in NY, just twelve hours before the program. FHA immediately started a protest campaign, resulting in Malini taking a stand against the exhibition, and the organizers canceling the exhibition with apologies. Impressed by FHA's responsiveness and depth of content, FHA has been invited to be on various Hindu organizations’ board of members, participate in Hinduism conferences and interfaith meetings. Many Hindu activists around the world are using the FHA content in their activities to promote awareness about Hinduism.
Visits to the FHA website (not including the visits to FHA YouTube videos)
Visitors came to FHA site from 188 countries, out of which, the top 5 were Bharat (India) (69,171), USA (52,104), Canada (10,435), UK (10,004) and Australia (8,845). Most number of returning visitors came from USA followed by Bharat.
Visitors from search engines tripling since 2010
People on the Internet search for various topics through Google search engine. It has brought over 50% (102,122) of the total visitors to the FHA website in 2011 and this number has tripled since last year.
Most popular sections on the FHA website
The 5 most visited sections of FHA were FHA's events such as Hinduism education phone satsangs for adults, youth and children, search facility, articles on festivals, vowed religious observances and rituals, login and Test Your Knowledge.
FHA website content inspiring visitors to understand, live and preserve Hinduism
The main attraction of the FHA website is the wealth of knowledge it provides about the unique science underlying Hinduism concepts, and the misconceptions it dispels about Hindu practices. Over the past year, the number of articles on the website has increased from 370 to over 525. The articles have helped many visitors to understand, live and preserve Hinduism. For instance, during Pitru-paksha (Departed Ancestors' Fortnight), FHA's login team received many queries on how to perform the ritual of shrāadha for departed ancestors.
Growing response to FHA’s Facebook and Twitter pages
The past year also witnessed a tremendous growth in the number of visitors joining FHA on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, and the website’s login system. The numbers have grown to over 6500 on Facebook, to over 3000 on Twitter, and to over 525 on FHA website’s login, for personal answering of questions and discussion about Hinduism concepts and issues. FHA's post on Facebook in the last week of December, on 'Celebrating new year on Hindu New Year' reached 645 people, received 4038 views and 458 people either liked it, commented on it or shared it with others. FHA's posts on Facebook alone received well over 25,000 views in 2011.
FHA YouTube videos becoming increasingly popular
In mid-2009 English subtitled, Hindi narrative videos on Dharma education were introduced on FHA website and FHA YouTube channel. The videos on FHA YouTube channel have become very popular, bringing close to 40,000 visitors, as the videos visually explain the science and practice of Hinduism with clear narrative and subtitles, animated drawings and practical demonstrations. Visits to FHA's Youtube videos crossed the 15,000 per month mark with its Diwali videos.
FHA website visitors' comments and questions - testimony to the website’s contribution to the cause of Hinduism !
FHA website receives many comments and emails from its visitors regularly. The 'Ask a question' facility introduced on FHA website in mid 2011 has resulted in a growing number of queries to FHA. They bear testimony to how the website content is inspiring visitors to take and impart Hinduism education, and do something about issues facing Hindus.
“We are from SAI SHARAN - Total follower for SHIRDI SAI BABA - 5th Avatar for Deity Datta and we would like to protest as soon as possible.” – Sridhar R., in response to FHA's appeal to protest movie 'Deool' (that has a denigrating song on Deity Datta) being shown by San Francisco's Maharashtra Mandal.
“Sridhar ji, with reference to request put in by FHA regarding the contradictory contents in the movie Deool, we will be muting all the sound sequences while the said song will be screened on the screen. We appreciate your equal help and cooperation by not doing any demonstrations on the event day while we are honoring the request from FHA.” - Kiran Shinde, Treasurer, Maharashtra Mandal Bay Area, in response to the above protest.
“I was indeed shocked and in fact withdrew from my dance commitment if my show was spoken of in the same breath as that of Hussain’s paintings. Ms. Simmi Bhatia, the organiser, on my demand, withdrew the paintings.” – Former Bollywood actress, Hema Malini, in response to FHA's appeal to protest M. F. Husain's paintings to be shown at her dance performance in New York in October 2011.
“However, the real credit should go to Forum for Hindu Awakening for their great effort. They worked non-stop, without sleep. It was their hard work only that alerted everyone in the first place. I am told another Hindu brother is a gentleman Hindu Patanjali Rambrich who responded to the call & stood alone at the venue. Let us send our thanks & congrats to FHA and Bro Patanjaliji.” - Pradipsinh, a supporter of the above protest against M. F. Husain's exhibition at Hema Malini's performance.
“I would enjoy being educated about the Hindu religion. Thank you for showing interest in me, and if nothing pans out, maybe there's a way I can figure out how to give a small financial support ?” - K. Berg, USA, via FHA's login.
“Regarding performing the shraadha karma for past ancestors, it is said that if the parents are alive then the progeny does not have a right to perform the paksha and the shraadha. But in many cases it is seen that the living parents are not interested in or do not believe in performing these rituals. In such cases the children have no option but to do the Shrī Gurudēv Datta japa. Please guide regarding this issue.” - Manjusha, a login member of FHA.
“I have removed the image from the website. Thank you so much for your time and the insight you have shared with me. As an artist I can understand that many times artists are unwilling to alter their work when someone is offended. But in this case I feel lucky to have the chance to apologize sincerely and to take action to change what gives offense. It is my intention to redo the portrait, this time without the sheer silk so that She will not appear nude. Each of these Goddess paintings are dear to me, I learn and am changed by them.” - Laurel, an artist, in response to FHA volunteer's email to her about her portrait of Goddess Saraswatī as nude.
“As a regular practitioner of Reiki I have experienced strong vibrations when listening to tapes of Shri sukta. So I do not understand how or whether I have incurred any pāp. Can you guide me regarding who is permitted to chant the Vēdic hymns?” - A lady login member of FHA.
We pay gratitude unto God and the Saints who have blessed the work of Forum for Hinduism, and pray to Them to continue showering Their grace, so it is possible to meet the Dharmik needs of all supporters of Hinduism, who are interested in understanding, living and preserving Hinduism.
Shreekrushnaarpanamastu (Offering this unto Shrīkrushna),
FHA team of seekers.
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