by Max Barry

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Anava Hinduism

Religion in Antarctica is quite unanimous. The vast majority of Antarcticans follow a reformed branch of the Hindu faith known as Anava Hinduism. The defining feature of Anava Hinduism is not only the religion itself (for Anava Hindus range all the way from passionately faithful to downright secular) but also the way of life that is followed by all its adherents, regardless of their level of belief in the gods. In this way of life, the value of all human life and happiness is the supreme virtue, and it is an ideal that all Anavists uphold with religious passion. This ties into the two purposes of a human life in Anava Hinduism. The first is kama, which is personal and societal freedom, and the free fulfillment of desires, wishes, passions, love and affection, and pleasure of the senses. There is also dharma, which is the recognition of the inherent dignity and equality of human beings and the pricelessness of human life, and the treatment of others accordingly, with kindess, understanding, and respect, as well as the rejection of hate, prejudice, harm, and neglect towards any person.

Within Anava Hinduism, there is a great variety of deities that are worshipped. There is the trimurti (Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer), who are regarded as the highest and most powerful. Other deities are just as widely worshipped, however, such as Indra, god of the heavens; Durga, who fiercely protects virtue and goodness; Ganesha, who removes obstacles (and places them when necessary); Parvati, goddess of love and gentleness; Saraswati, goddess of knowledge, wisdom, and the arts; Lakshmi, goddess of good fortune and prosperity; and Krishna, avatar of Vishnu, and god of love, compassion, and tenderness. Anava Hindus are henotheistic, primarily worshipping and believing in the supremacy of one deity while also believing in the existence of the others.

Other concepts also play great roles in Anava Hinduism. There is samsara, the cycle of life, death, and reincarnation, which in Anava Hinduism is regarded as something to be enjoyed and cherished in its own right, rather as something to escape from. Another central idea is karma, the idea that the goodness (or harm) a person does in life will rendered upon them in return, whether in this life or in a future one. There is also the idea that the ātman, the identity and personality, the essence of each human being, and the brahman, the basis of all truth and reality, are one and the same. This idea is considered to be the essence of Anava Hinduism, and the basis for its highly humanist outlook on life.

In Antarctica, religious worship is done in a number of ways. Temples in Antarctica are constructed similarly to those in India, including the exquisite decoration, and serve the same purpose. The general style of worship itself is the same, as people individually commune with their deity rather than in groups, but making offerings is not necessary; many Antarcticans simply talk with their deities, asking them for guidance and even telling them about relevant experiences. Pilgrimages are also valued, as in orthodox Hinduism, but it is the journey, rather than the destination, that Antarcticans value. Bindis are worn by those who choose religious occupations; however, their form is instead a ruby-like gem, shaped like an upright rhombus.

In Antarctica, there are several cultural holidays - holidays that are celebrated by all Antarcticans, whether faithful or secular. The most well-known of these is Diwali, the Festival of Lights. In Antarctica, Diwali takes place from the 19th to the 23rd of June, so that the middle day is June 21st, the winter solstice. It symbolizes the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance. During the festival, every inch of Antarctica's cities are festooned with lights - an especially splendid sight in the Antarctic winter darkness. On October 1st, an early spring day, Antarcticans celebrate Holi, the Festival of Colors. The coming of spring and sunlight is celebrated in an exuberant free-for-all, in which people throw coloured powders at each other, and generally have fun and do whatever they feel like. There are also several religious holidays that are observed by the more faithful Antarcticans, which honor the lives and achievements of particular gods. These include Krishna Janmashtami, which is celebrated on September 1st; Ganesh Chaturthi, on September 15th; Navarathri, honoring Durga, from the 22nd to the 31st of October; Ratha Yatra, on July 1st, when Antarcticans honor Vishnu; Vasant Pachami, honoring Saraswati, on February 1st; and Maha Shivaratri, on March 1st.