India’s deserted pilgrim town banks on faith as temples reopen | AFP

Life is slowly returning to normal among the hallowed temples of Haridwar, one of Hinduism’s holiest places, as India emerges from its coronavirus lockdown. But shopkeepers complain that “no one knows” who has the coronavirus and who doesn’t.

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Hundreds take part in Thailand’s lotus throwing festival

Thousands toss and throw lotuses onto a boat procession carrying an image of a revered monk, marking the end of the Buddhist lent in Samut Prakan, south of Bangkok. The cheerful festival originated from a riverside culture where villagers fresh-picked the finest lotuses, once abundant in the area, and pass on to those who sailed to make a merit at temple as the lent period’s ending. The lotus is a symbol of purity in Hinduism and Buddhism and incorporated into many ceremonies in Thailand.

India’s Leading PM Candidate Rallies in Varanasi

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Varanasi, a center of Hinduism in India, has emerged as a main battleground during the Indian elections, which began on April 7. With over 814 million eligible voters in a country of 1.25 billion, these are the largest elections the world has seen to date. The results, expected May 16, will bring the election of 543 members of the lower house of Parliament — who in turn will determine the country’s next prime minister to govern for five years.

According to exit poll results, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will win the majority in parliament — which means that controversial candidate Narendra Modi will be the next prime minister. Modi is a rising force with a pro-business platform for economic growth — which many Indians support. However, he was the chief minister of Gujarat in 2002, when communal clashes killed at least 1,000 Muslims. He was tried for his role in the conflict, but was found not guilty.

May 12 was the last day of voting for the elections, and on Friday India’s fate will be decided. VICE News headed to Varanasi to speak with voters and workers about their nation’s future.

Read “Narendra Modi’s Shame: Muslim Survivors of the Gujarat Riots Are Still Suffering” –

Read “Sexual Violence Against Women on India’s Election Agenda, But Not Really” –

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