Monday, January 14, 2008

Homosexuality in Indian Society by SUTRA Magazine

Being Indian; be it in India, South Africa, or anywhere else in the world; our roots are grounded in conservative layers of impermeable teachings. We are in the 21st century and even so, our traditionalist principals and values remain. This is a strong point in our culture, but also a weakness. It is important to note that principals should remain steadfast only if they are commendable and impartial.

Homosexuality in Indian Society

SUTRA looks back at the life of (and recognizes) the first and, to date most prominent gay activist in India.

Ashok Row Kavi was born on 1 June 1947, in Mumbai. He was educated in Mumbai’s “Bombay Scottish High School”, and then moved on to Bombay University where he achieved his Honors in Chemistry.

He later achieved a diploma in Theology from the Ramakrishna Math, at which stage he trained to be a monk. During this period he realized his homosexuality and had come to accept it. Ashok came out in 1868, when he did an interview in Savvy magazine.

SUTRA looks at an extract from an interview with Ashok Row Kavi, and Perry Brass, author of How to Survive Your Own Gay Life:

Can you tell us something about yourself? How did you end up being virtually the only openly gay man in India to speak out on the HIV issue there?

Ashok Row Kavi: “I was born in Bombay on June 1st, 1947, a premature baby not expected to live. Amma and Anna (Mom and Dad) were Brahmin refugees fleeing poverty in South India. Anna finally became a leading light in Bollywood (India's Hollywood) and a founding member of the Indian Motion Pictures' Producers' Association.

I was educated in Mumbai's elite Bombay Scottish High School from whose Secondary School I graduated. I got an Honours in Chemistry from Bombay University after two years doing textile engineering at the prestigious Victoria Jubilee Technical Institute (VJTI) in Bombay.

I did my diploma in religion and comparative theology from the Ramakrishna Math where I trained to be a monk. I also discovered my gay nature there and was given sensible counseling for it by the monks. "Accept it as natural. Whatever occurs in nature is natural though it may not be common," advised my counselor, Swami Harshananda.

I returned from the monastery to do a post graduate in Journalism while working as a trainee in the Free Press Journal, and finally joined the "Indian Express" chain of newspapers in Bombay. I started India's first Playboy clone, Debonair, with my English friend Anthony Van Braband in 1971.

I left the Express to start India's first morning tabloid, The Daily in 1981, left that to become city editor of my home ground newspaper, Free Press Journal. I then became bureau chief of India's newsweekly, The Week. There I came out, creating a ruckus in the conservative Christian management.

I quit journalism in 1990, after attending the Fifth International AIDS Conference in 1989 at Montreal, where I was aghast to see American gay men fighting for their very lives to get funding to fight AIDS.

I had come out openly as a gay man in 1986 (while at The Week), when I did an interview in Savvy, one of India's most controversial feminist magazines, explaining what "gay" really meant. It was not only a first but started a furor because of the plain speaking I did about the numbers [of Indian men] involved...

Before that I used to review books on homosexuality, and thus gave a good inkling that I was queer from the insights I had into the homosexual world in India. Coming out was a natural defense mechanism, but I now wonder. So many people have forgotten my long innings in journalism, human rights and my reportage in such famous cases like the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, where I was one of the first journalists to get in while thousands were dying.
I've become just a "gay activist," which is a very uni-dimensional look at my life. I have interests in religion, social biology, sexuality, science and even astronomy. I have reported developments in India's atomic energy establishment, the speeches of Indira Gandhi and her downfall, done court reporting, reported death and disaster on a huge scale. I am not just a gay activist: I am India spanning 50 years of her 5,000 year old civilization. A sliver of it, but a good representative one, no doubt.” - Ashok Row Kavi

Kommal Publishing (pty) Ltd.
SUTRA Magazine
021 674 4555

Friday, January 11, 2008


What does some of South Africa's Industry leaders have say about SUTRA™?

“The publication is very informative and covers a wide range of topics. The appearance is classy and professional, just like the people that work for the company. The magazine appeals to different age groups and individuals with different backgrounds, although targeting the Indian community, the features in the magazine goes across various ethnic groups. I believe it that SUTRA is an exceptional read!”

“I think SUTRA is a great opportunity for the Indian community to be able to profile the culture, the interests, as well as many other things that are happening in the country as well as abroad which are so pertinent to the Indian community. I think it is a great project to support. I am personally excited by the fact that there is going to be a niche market magazine that is going to be available for the Indian community, which is a very rare thing in South Africa, considering that we account for just about 3 percent of the population. I think it is about time that we do such a thing!”

“I absolutely loved the magazine - A beautiful gloss with well researched articles.”

“Congratulations for having come out with an excellent publication entitled Sutra which was really long due especially for the South Africans of Indian origin. The magazine will certainly unfold rich variety of traditions and culture that India is known for ages through its contents on entertainment and lifestyle.
I wish all success to SUTRA Magazine team.”

“The magazine Sutra is set for a healthy run in the Western Cape and the World!!!......The mag has everything a sophisticated person would want to read about and also to learn about the magic of living life to the fullest. I like that the articles are kept short as I have a hectic lifestyle. I could pick it up read and then leave it, and then later on return to it and start reading a new article. I think that is a great feature. Your layouts are lovely and the glossy paper really adds to your magazine's glamorous look. I wish you all the luck and success for your magazine and my friends and I had a great time at the launch.”

“We enjoyed going through the launch issue of ‘Sutra’. It is an impressive and colourful publication. We are confident that the magazine will serve a very useful purpose for South Africans of Indian origin. It will certainly help in making them more aware of their cultural links with India. We wish it success in future!”

Kommal Publishing (Pty) Ltd.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

SUTRA ™ on Anxiety and Stress

The 21st century has brought with it the spread of advancement in every facet of our lives. With progression, basic needs have become secondary and this neurotic desire for improvement over shadows the ‘would be’ mediocre aspects of our lives -in particular, our mental wellbeing with regard to stress and anxiety has gained a greater importance. So how do we identify and cope with anxiety in a way that does not affect the way ahead? SUTRA™ takes a look…

We all experience anxiety in one way or another, almost everyday; and it rears its head during stressful or potentially stressful situations. The symptoms include but are not limited to muscular tension, heart rate elevation and fidgeting.

So, if anxiety is - to say the least – undesirable, why is it that we experience anxiety so regularly, and during significant situations?

Well, studies have shown that anxiety in reasonable quantity is good for us! The fact is, corporal and logical performance is motivated by anxiety, it fine tunes our reaction, allows us to think more clearly. This type of stress is known as “eu-stress”.

Contrarily, anxiety in excess creates the feeling of severe harm and stress, known as “dis-stress”. Anxiety may lead to panic attacks which surfaces with symptoms such as sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, the sensation of choking, abdominal stress, hot flushes, chest pain, and/or derealisation. Although one may feel as though he/she is about to die, panic attacks pose no real danger.

Social aspects contribute drastically to the frequency of anxiety. The fast paced and hectic lifestyles we lead leave little room for harmonization and balance, and so the likelihood of suffering a panic attack is heightened. Marriage, children, work and illness all readily add the occurrence of anxiety and panic attacks.

According to SUTRA™, “In order to cope with and minimize anxiety it is essential to create an effective work / life balance.” Yes, in this day and age, we all are working toward a common goal – the improvement of our lives and that of those who are closest to us. In order to do this efficiently, we need to ensure that all aspects of our being, - mental, physical and spiritual - are nourished; says SUTRA™.

SUTRA™ Magazine
Kommal Publishing (Pty) Ltd.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Cindy Visagie Sales Executive, SUTRA™ Magazine on the Matters of the Heart!
What is Love?

Is it the butterflies in the stomach? Is it the ‘I can’t wait to see you’ feeling?
We all have various ways of explaining what love is, and to each one of us, ours is the only truth about love. The way we tend to see things through our minds and hearts are sometimes completely different; this is because what the head wants is not always what the heart wants.

Many a time we caught up in a situation such as this and we never really know what to do, so we tend to settle for that little voice in our heads that tells us so compellingly the way forward. As an individual I see love as life’s perfect opportunity to a greater future, to have that special person by your side and to know that he will love you regardless of all your flaws.

The one person you can run to any time of day and never will he send you away cause in his eyes you mean the world to him and he wouldn’t change that for anything. Men and women are unique creatures created in the image of their maker; the way they take on everyday life, the way they feel about a person, their touch is soft, tender, caring and warm.

When walking hand in hand with your partner on the sea shore, we some sometimes tend to doodle in the wet sand, we draw hearts and write our names; in an instant the waves washes the words away, just as this happens we can lose our love. And this is the most heartrending feeling.

To love someone is to know that person, I don’t particularly believe in ‘love at first sight’, because to me you grow to know and care for you partner. This is the greatest love of all and should not be taken lightly because pure love is hard to find; and when you found your perfect match never let him go. When that right man comes you will be sure to have found your true love, as I have found mine.

- Cindy


SUTRA™ believes that the South African Indian community has for far too long, neglected to acknowledge the reality of Gender Based Violence. We believe that this is an issue that we as a community need to address with the highest priority. South Africa’s women and children need to be sheltered from all forms of harm, and we need to work together to ensure that this is a certainty. SUTRA™ Magazine consults with Lifeline Southern Africa on gender based violence.

How does a woman know when she is in a violent relationship?
When people talk about “domestic violence”, they usually see it as violence in the home. But, it is more than this. The definition of a “domestic relationship” includes relationships wherein two people are dating, are separated or divorced, and includes same-sex relationships.Most people also believe that domestic violence is physical violence. However, there are other types of abuse. Physical abuse includes things like slapping, hitting, shoving, stabbing, burning. There is emotional abuse, which includes things like swearing at her, threats, isolating her from family and friends. Sexual abuse includes rape, indecent assault, making her wear clothes or do sexual acts that make her feel uncomfortable.

When is it too late to get out of a violent relationship?
It is never too late to get out of an abusive relationship. The minute you start feeling uncomfortable in the relationship or feel that your partner’s treatment of you has changed (in a negative way e.g. He has become very possessive); this is the time to take a hard look at your relationship, and try and identify what is different. This may be the time to seek help or decide to end the relationship.

Is it a wifes duty to provide her husband with his conjugal rights?
On the Stop Gender Violence Helpline, the counselors get this comment a lot. We use this as an opportunity to educate these callers on their rights. Nobody has the right to abuse another. However, an abusive partner will often use this statement as an excuse for his behaviour. In actual fact, he is committing sexual abuse when he forces his partner to have sex with him, when she does not feel like it or does not consent.

Does ‘marital rape’ exist?
Yes, this is a legal term and recognized as a crime in South Africa – she can lay a charge of marital rape against him if he forces her to have sex without her consent.No man may force his wife to have sex with him against her will.

What do I do if I am in an abusive relationship and have children?
An abused woman with children needs to know what sort of effect abuse, or even just witnessing the abuse between parents, may have on the child. These parents are setting an example for their children, and are teaching these children how to treat other people. If a boy sees his father abusing his mother, he will learn that this is the way a woman should be treated. This then creates a cycle of violence that regenerates from one generation to another. The only way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to break this cycle.

So, Parents who say that they never fight in front of their children could also be traumatizing their children?
Yes, children are perceptive. They may not be seeing the abuse because they are in another room, but they can hear what is going on, see the physical signs (e.g. their mother’s bruised face) and they can sense the tension and anger in the air. Some signs that the child is traumatized could be: acting out the behaviour that he/she has seen his/her parents exhibiting; bedwetting and nightmares; shouting at the mother; fear and anxiety; social isolation.

For more information, and assistance contact Lifeline Southern Africa on 0800-150-150.



I have a complicated matter to deal with; I am a 24 year old South African lady from Johannesburg, working in Durban. While in Durban, I found a wonderful man (25 years old) who works as an Accountant for a very prestigious firm, my problem is that he is so work orientated that I sometimes feel excluded from his life, also, we decided not to commit to each other, as we need to sort out certain issues in our lives – at least, that’s what he says! Recently I’ve been having a feeling that there is another woman in his life, he says that they are friends but who would be the wiser? PLEASE HELP!!

Dear Ashika
Keep in mind that the choices he has made may not be beneficial to you but they are to him. Generally, a 25 year old man in a position such as this is extremely career focused, and tends to neglect other aspects in his life such as relationships. Maybe at a later stage once his career is more established, he will want to commit to you. Until then, it is up to you to decide whether this man is important enough to you, to hang on and wait for him, or as the saying goes – there are many fish in the sea. As for his friend, it could be plutonic, but do not be naïve to the thought as there could be something more to it. The best thing to do is take a time out to decide what you want and whether he fits into the picture or not.


I am a 28 year old man, who is in love with a 25 year old woman. We have been friends for the passed eight years, and through all our feelings for each other, we have never been intimate with each other. My dilemma is that I have a girlfriend of 25, who I have been dating for the passed two and a half years. My friend of 25, has a boyfriend for the passed four years, and is very in love with him. I have loved this woman for as long as I can remember and have not been able to commit to anyone else. Recently she has been calling me often to go out for drinks. Should I pursue her? Please advise…

Dear Evan
You need to remember that what you are doing to your girlfriend is wrong, do you think it is wise to be in a relationship when you feel so strongly for another person. My advice to you is simple. End this relationship with your girlfriend as you are not being fair to her. Speak to your other lady friend and find out where her heart lies and take it from there. At all costs, you both should not hurt your present partners. A little selflessness won’t hurt.


I am a 40 year old woman, I have been married for the passed 18 years, and I love my husband dearly! My problem is that Sunil, my husband, just can’t keep his eyes off other women, and this hurts me so. Everyday I pray to God that this will change, but it never does. These passed few months he has started whistling at other younger women, right in front of me. I love my husband and don’t want to leave him, what should I do?

Dear Devi
As hard as this may be for you, you need to find what is lost in your relationship. Women tend to lose grip of themselves when in a comfortable relationship. Your husband may also be going through a mid life crises. Spice things up, do things out of the ordinary, and be spontaneous, and flexible. If this does not work, why not see a marriage counselor? All the best!


SUTRA MAGAZINE gives us healthy eating tips to keep in mind this summer.

Keep it lean – Cutting as much fat and cholesterol from your diet should be your number one priority. This will also allow you to direct your attention to the four food groups, a balanced diet is all important, says SUTRA.

Exercise regularly – When on a health diet, ensure that you exercise either thirty minutes before or after you eat. That way, you do not burn the food that you just ate, but rather your fat reserves in your body.

Take in more fiber – Some of the high fiber foods that one should include in ones diet are fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. High fiber diets assist in keeping you regular, and also lower your cholesterol.

Weight control is imperative when going on a health diet – maintaining an ideal weight is extremely important, it reduces many diseases and ailments and reduces the risk of heart related illness.

Drinks on the house – We will not say, ‘stop drinking!’ But what will be said is, reduce your consumption of alcoholic beverages in you drink more than two glasses a day. Excessive amounts of alcohol will can lead to destroyed livers and also even alcohol poisoning.

Drink water – According to SUTRA we all need to drink as much water as possible, especially if you are energetic and muscular, muscle contains substantially more water than fat, which is needed to lubricate joints, regulate body temperature, and replenish bodily fluids.