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Pakistan National Assembly Passes Hindu Marriage Bill

Posted on 2016/9/27 17:58:02 ( 222 reads )


PAKISTAN, September 27, 2016 (News 18): Six decades after it came into existence, Pakistan gave nod to a Hindu Marriage Bill that seeks to set up a legal framework for marriage and divorce [previous non-existent for Hindus] besides addressing issues including forced conversions. The Hindu Marriage Bill 2016 was tabled before the Pakistan National Assembly by Human Rights Minister Kamran Michael and was passed unanimously. The bill will now be forwarded to the Senate for consideration and passage.

According to The Express Tribune, the bill will institutionalize all legal rights relating to marriage. "All Hindu marriages will be registered in accordance with the provisions of this act. Such registration shall take place within 15 days of a marriage. Hindu widows will now have the right to remarry of their own free will six months after the death of her husband, according to the provisions of the bill. The bill will also help put an end to the practice of abduction of married Hindu women," it said.

California Department of Education Calls for Textbook Reviewers

Posted on 2016/9/27 17:57:52 ( 181 reads )


SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA, July 2016, (CDE press release): The California Department of Education and State Board of Education (SBE) are seeking reviewers to participate in the 2017 History-Social Science Instructional Materials Adoption for grades kindergarten to 8. Reviewers will evaluate the instructional materials for alignment to the California history-social science standards and the newly revised history-social science curriculum framework, utilizing the standards maps and evaluation criteria maps that have been approved by the SBE for this adoption.

Information about this review and the online application process is available on the CDE HSS Instructional Materials Web page at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/hs/im/. The deadline for submission of applications is October 19, 2016. For more information, contact: 916-319-0447 or kmcdonal@cde.ca.gov.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2016/9/27 17:57:41 ( 139 reads )


There are three kinds of devotees. The inferior devotee says, "God is out there" and thinks God is different from His creation. The mediocre devotee says, "God is antaryami, the inner guide who dwells in everyone's heart;" thus the mediocre devotee sees God within. But the superior devotee sees that God alone is everything, for He has become the twenty-four cosmic tattvas. That devotee finds that everything, above and below, is filled with God.
-- Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa (1836-1886)

Priests Object to Online Pind Daan, the Post-Death Rituals

Posted on 2016/9/26 19:21:01 ( 331 reads )


INDIA, September 26, 2016 (by Amrita Verma, The Asian Age): Hindu priests in Allahabad and Varanasi demanded a ban on performing the pind daan, a post-death ritual believed to ensure salvation for departed souls, over the Internet. The pind daan is performed mainly during the Pitra Paksh, a 16-day lunar period during which Hindus pay ritual homage to their ancestors.

Pandit Kishore Upadhyaya, a priest from Varanasi, said that the growing trend of offering online pind daan was "unethical" and should be banned. "The ritual requires the person to be physically present and make offerings to the departed souls. It is an elaborate ritual and cannot be performed in absentia," he said.

According to him, a large number of websites now offer "online tarpan" for a price. These websites are doing big business, but the people are being duped, he said. "We understand that working people are short on time and cannot travel to religious places like Gaya, Allahabad, Varanasi or Haridwar to perform the ritual, but they can opt for the ritual in their own cities. In fact, some religious organisations even arrange for collective pind daan for those who cannot afford to travel," he said.

Another Varanasi priest, Pandit Shiv Misra, said that the idea of online pind daan was "ridiculous," and should be stopped. "This is almost like asking someone else to eat or sleep for you. How can anyone else pray for me? The websites that are offering the 'services' take money and then claim to have performed the rituals for your ancestors," he said.

The priests have decided to take up the matter in the annual Magh Mela that is held in Allahabad in January and ask the Dharam Sansad to convince the government to ban the virtual pind daan services. "We have come to know that a website that offers virtual 'pind daan' in Varanasi, is receiving 200-250 requests every day which means a large number of people are being fleeced," said Pandit Shiv Misra.

History of India Visually Over 5,000 Years

Posted on 2016/9/26 19:20:51 ( 0 reads )


INDIA, May 2016 (You Tube): This video will show the entire history of India from 29th century BCE to 2016 in the form of an ever-changing map indicating the location of the cultures and empires that existed over the centuries. Indus Valley and Vedic periods are shown as they changed decade by decade, after 413 bce, the maps change each year. The 12-minute video shows the growth and demise of dynasties, empires and kingdoms in India and Sri Lanka from 2800 BCE right through to 2016.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2016/9/26 19:20:40 ( 183 reads )


The sages, being filled with universal love for all beings, did not want to keep their enlightenment to themselves. They declared to all: "O mortals, striving and struggling upon this Earth plane, weeping, wailing, buffeted by the vicissitudes of life: we have come upon a great discovery. There is something beyond these appearances, these vanishing names and forms that go to make up this universe. There is something beyond, which is the very source and support of all these objects of the phenomenal world. Why do you search in vain for happiness outside? Come, come, happiness resides within."
-- Swami Chidananda (1916-2008), president of Divine Life Society

Sri Ramanuja: The Great Integrator

Posted on 2016/9/25 19:13:34 ( 305 reads )


INDIA, May 5, 2016 (The Hindu, by Dr. Prema Nandakumar): What makes Sri Ramanuja relevant today? Dr. Prema Nandakumar writes on the saint-philosopher in the context of his 1,000th birth anniversary. One thousand years have gone by. Ten centuries. In India alone, there were so many kingdoms which tried their best to put an end to the religious and cultural traditions that had flourished from time immemorial. In spite of all that, Vedic culture not only survived but also gained new spaces. The adherents of the culture have had the benefit of leadership by spiritual personalities from time to time, re-formatting the culture in a positive manner without losing any of its seminal strengths. Of such great men, Sri Ramanuja, who was born in the 11 century, takes the pride of place as he remains relevant even today.

How shall we crown Sri Ramanuja? Is he a fine-tuned philosopher or a poet? Does his sociological thinking exceed the commentator? Does he loom large as a temple-builder or as a management expert? Does his concern for helping the common man out-top his blazing spirituality? Is he greater as a student or as a teacher? A deeper and wider engagement in his life and ministry makes it very, very difficult to decide. But one thing is clear. His virtue was compassion: his means, integration. The two main reasons why Sri Ramanuja remains perfectly relevant even today.

Sister Nivedita said that the history of India is the land itself. Applied to Sri Ramanuja, we can read his life in the temples, the rituals he set up, in his philosophy and poetry, and his untiring and patient moves to bring down man-made differences and integrate the society by applying the ideal of compassion. "He (Ramanuja) felt for the downtrodden, he sympathised with them. He took up the ceremonies, the accretions that had gathered, made them pure so far as they could be, and instituted new ceremonies, new methods of worship, for the people who absolutely required them. At the same time he opened the door to the highest; spiritual worship from the Brahmin to the Pariah." That was Ramanuja's work.

Much more at "source" above.

First Swadeshi Indology Conference

Posted on 2016/9/25 19:13:23 ( 255 reads )


CHENNAI, INDIA, September 25, 2016 (Swadeshi Indology): The first Swadeshi Indology Conference was held in Chennai on July 6-7, 2016. A welcome address was given by Prof. K.S. Kannah and the keynote address by the organizer, Rajiv Malhotra.

A few themes of the conference:

Is Sanskrit dead or alive?
Critique of Sheldon Pollock's views on Shastras
Ramayama as a Political Tool
Pollock's position that Sanskrit was responsible for holocaust
Some Indic viewpoints to refute Pollock's positions
Murty Classical Library--a panel discussion

A summary of the conference with a complete list of presenters, themes and accompanying videos is at "source" above.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2016/9/25 19:13:12 ( 169 reads )


To define God is grinding what is already ground; for He is the only being we know.
-- Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902), founder of the Ramakrishna Mission

Ganga River Theme for Trindad's Coming Diwali Nagar

Posted on 2016/9/24 17:56:15 ( 437 reads )

Paras Ramoutar

PORT-OF-SPAIN, TRINIDAD/TOBAGO, September 23, 2016 (Paras Ramoutar): "Mother Ganga--Mother of the Oceans and Rivers" will be the theme for the 30th edition of Diwali Nagar in Trinidad and Tobago, according to Dr. Deokienanan Sharma, president of the National Council of Indian Culture(NCIC). "This year's theme has serious and profound religious meaning as Lord Shiva is reputed to hold the Ganga River on His Head," Sharma said. Sharma said that this year's show will run from Thursday October 20 to Friday October 29 at a projected cost of US $800,000. "Diwali Nagar has grown to be a huge economic and business enterprise with over 70 large, medium and small enterprises participating locally, the Caribbean and India, among other places".

"Diwali Nagar which started in 1986 has now become a national, and probably an international institution in terms of its total presentation, glamour, originality and content. "Diwali Nagar has been able to foster further ethnic unity in our land, and other countries are taking a page from our social, religious and cultural disposition, all of which augur well for the unity and brotherhood of all mankind. Diwali Nagar fosters social mobility and it is an interactive model, worthy of emulation worldwide." Mangaroo said.

Religion Data of Census 2011: XXIX Northeast States

Posted on 2016/9/24 17:56:04 ( 285 reads )


INDIA, September 18, 2016 (Center for Policy Studies): Christianity in the Northeast has spread mainly through the conversion of the Scheduled Tribes (STs) of the region. There are numerous tribes that live here; specific tribes often dominate a specific district or even a sub-district. It is fascinating and instructive to look into how the religious demography of different tribes has changed over time; how and when they have moved away from their native religions--which in their doctrine and practice fall within the Hindu fold--to Christianity. In this and the following notes, we discuss the spread of Christianity among the specific individual tribes of the Northeast.

We begin with Assam, where the situation is very different from other States of the region. The spread of Christianity in Assam has been limited and, more surprisingly, less than 20 percent of the Christians in the State are from the Scheduled Tribes. This is very unusual. Elsewhere in the Northeast, the Christians are almost entirely tribal. The peculiar situation of Assam is because several essentially tribal communities of Assam have not been included in the ST list. Such communities include the tea-tribes, one-fifth of whom are said to be have been converted. Estimates indicate that perhaps all of the non-ST Christians of Assam are from the tea-tribes.

Christians form 12.8 percent of the current ST population of the State. Their share has risen to this level from 7.6 percent in 1991 and 8.8 percent in 2001. There are two separate ST lists for Assam, one for the autonomous hill districts and the other for the rest of Assam. The proportion of Christians among the hill STs is higher at 27.4 percent; among the STs of the plains, the share of Christians is lower at 9.7 percent.

To read more of the spread of Christianity among the individual Scheduled Tribes of Assam, Tripura, and Sikkim, see "source."

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2016/9/24 17:55:54 ( 200 reads )


Everyone has willpower. It is inherent to the makeup of the physical-astral-mental-emotional body. The center of willpower is the manipura chakra, located at the solar plexus. Unlike other energies, the more willpower we use, the more willpower we have to use. This happens when we work a little harder than we think we can, do a little more than we think we can do. By putting forth that extra effort, we build up a great willpower that we will always have with us, even in our next life, the next and the next.
-- Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami (1927-2001), founder of Hinduism Today

Canada Mints Diwali Gold and Silver Coins

Posted on 2016/9/21 19:19:18 ( 371 reads )


CANADA, September 20, 2016 (Canada Mint): The Canadian Mint has issued a Diwali coin by Canadian artist Meera Sethi. The coin is inspired by the colorful Indian folk art of Rangoli, which traditionally adorns entrances and floors during Diwali. Within the geometric and floral-inspired pattern lie numerous cultural symbols that represent the "Festival of Lights" as a cherished multi-ethnic celebration--one that is very much at home in Canada, where it is celebrated by Indo-Canadians across the country.

Roughly 51% of Indo-Canadians reside in the Greater Toronto Area, while Vancouver is home to Canada's second-largest population; these important communities are represented by each province's official floral emblem: the trillium and the Pacific dogwood, respectively. Key spiritual symbols--such as those associated with Sikhism and Jainism--surround a ring of clay lamps, which light up homes and hearts during Diwali. The most widely known Canadian symbol, the beloved maple leaf, forms an inner ring around the sacred symbol "OM"--that eternal sound of creation--which is positioned in the centre to release spiritual energy in all directions. [The queen, naturally, is on the other side, in case you're wondering.]

The one ounce coin issued in gold (US$2,119.84) and the differently designed coin in silver ($69.62), can be ordered at "source" above. (The spot price today for an ounce of gold is $1,336.20, and for silver $19.96.)

US Veterans Administration Revises Policy on Religious Expression

Posted on 2016/9/21 19:19:07 ( 455 reads )

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 21, 2016 (Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty): Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty is expressing gratitude to the Department of Veterans Affairs for its recent memorandum to key officials that updates the policy guidance on religious exercise and expression in VA facilities and property.

The updated policy guidance allows outside groups and individuals to sing religious songs during holidays on VA property. As the policy guidance states, "Once the director authorizes holiday singing in a designated location, VA must remain neutral regarding the views expressed by the group or individual generally or in its holiday songs." The policy guidance also clarifies that church groups may sing Christmas carols, and the VA cannot restrict the religious content of songs.

The policy also allows Veteran Service Organizations to set up displays with religious items on VA property. For example, the VA must remain neutral regarding the use of any religious item, such as a Bible, in a display recognizing prisoners of war or those missing in action.

[HPI adds: While this press release is coming from a Christian organization and dealing mainly with Christmas, the revised policy allows all religious groups the same privileges, for example, Hindus could perform bhajan for Hindu soldiers at a VA hospital.]

Sydney Opera House Performance part of "Confluence Festival of India" in Australia

Posted on 2016/9/21 19:18:57 ( 276 reads )


SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA, September 19, 2016 (Press Information Bureau): A special event for the upcoming Confluence Festival of India in Australia showcased the best of the festival at a gala reception and concert at the iconic venue of the Sydney Opera House last night. The event included the infectious, happy tones of India's most popular folk band, Raghu Dixit, a dazzling performance from the Nrityagram Dance Ensemble, one of the India's foremost dance companies, and a performance of the Manipuri dance, Pung Cholom, where acrobatics, martial arts and drums come together to form an energetic and thrilling spectacle.

The gala also included a unique coming together of Australian and Indian performing art forms showcasing distinct movements, rhythms and inherent similarities. The collaboration focused on highlighting the unique aspects of each distinct genre while using the universality of dance and music to create a seamless performance. The show blended Indian and western musical traditions with eastern and western voices of faith, through poetry, and prayer.

Confluence Festival of India in Australia is the most significant exhibition of Indian arts and culture ever to be staged in Australia, involving world-class performers in a showcase of the stunning and vibrant variety of India's artistic cultures and traditions. Festival performances are taking place in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Alice Springs between August 15 and November 8.

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