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Nepal Bans Pilgrimages to Temples after April Quake
Posted on 2015/5/31 3:36:13 ( 471 reads )

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NEPAL, May 28, 2015 (Ecumenical News): Nepalese authorities have imposed a ban on visiting places of worship such as temples in the country, saying the earthquake that struck Kathmandu last month puts the stability of the structures in question. The country is still reeling from the temblor and the government says it is needs to temporarily stop local people and foreigners from visiting Hindu and Buddhist temples. The ban applies especially to temples whose structures could have been compromised. Only a few temples survived the earthquake, which directly affected 14 of the 75 districts in Nepal, but authorities are worried its structural integrity could be compromised. They suspect the structures could give way to the slightest aftershock, or worse, to heavy rains as the monsoon season approaches.

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Everest Trembles: Lessons Learned from the Nepal Earthquake Response
Posted on 2015/5/31 3:36:08 ( 434 reads )

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UNITED STATES, May 20, 2015 (U.S. Department of State): Nisha Desai Biswal, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, issued a detailed testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, on Nepal in the aftermath of the terrible earthquake that struck on April 25th. The outpouring of concern from the U.S. Congress in the days and weeks following the earthquake and the surge in contributions to relief organizations are a testament to the generosity of the American people. It is a true indicator of the common values that unite us during these difficult times.

And as the world looks to helping Nepal rebuild, a top priority should be restoring the damage to its world-famous cultural heritage. The devastation is deeper than the toll in bricks, mortar and the economic costs of lost tourism: these sites represent the idea of Nepal as a wellspring for Asian religion and culture. The development and expansion of Buddhism and Hinduism over many centuries inspired a unique artistic and architectural heritage in Nepal that represented impressive achievements in not just artwork and buildings, but also in developing a tolerant and inclusive society that was a melting pot for diverse faiths and cultures. The earthquake completely destroyed some of the grand monuments to this important legacy, and strong and sustained international efforts will be required to restore them.

Full report at source.

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Gokul Venkatachalam and Vanya Shivashankar Tie in US National Spelling Bee
Posted on 2015/5/31 3:36:02 ( 414 reads )

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OXON HILL, MARYLAND, May 28, 2015 (Huffington Post): For the second straight year, the Scripps National Spelling Bee ended with co-champions each holding onto one side of the golden trophy while they were showered with confetti. Vanya Shivashankar and Gokul Venkatachalam were the last two standing Thursday after exhausting the 25 words reserved for the final three spellers without stumbling. Before last year, there hadn't been a tie since 1962. Vanya, 13, of Olathe, Kansas and Gokul, 14, from Chesterfield, Missouri will receive more than $37,000 in cash and prizes.

Roughly 11 million spellers entered local bees, and 285 made it to the national bee, which is held at a convention center outside Washington and televised by ESPN. The ten finalists included several other bee veterans and crowd favorites. The last 10 winners of the bee, and 14 of the past 18, have been Indian-Americans, a run of dominance that began in 1999 with Nupur Lala's victory, which was later featured in the documentary "Spellbound."

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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2015/5/31 3:35:57 ( 421 reads )

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God is with us. It is He only who gives us the strength to work. If we live with this inspiration in our heart, we will surely experience Divinity in our life. Our work will become our devotion, and means of our spiritual progress.
-- Rameshbhai Oza, inspired performer of Vaishnava kathas

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University Cancels Suspension of Student Who Displayed Hindu Swastika
Posted on 2015/5/30 17:46:00 ( 554 reads )

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WASHINGTON, May 29, 2015 (Times of India): Following outcry from several groups, a prestigious American university has decided to rescind its suspension order against a student who displayed a Hindu swastika on his residence hall's bulletin board. The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) welcomed the move to rescind the interim suspension order by the George Washington University (GWU). HAF associate director of public policy, Harsh Voruganti, said that the decision reflects the facts of this case and the efforts by Hindu organizations to educate campus officials about the sacredness of the Indian swastika.

The small, bronze, swastika was displayed by the student on March 16 on a bulletin board at GWU's International House residence hall, and mistaken by another student for a Nazi swastika -- a distinct symbol used by the German Nazi party and other hate groups. The student intended to educate his friends and co-residents about the symbol's origins, which he learned about during a spring break trip to India. Although the law enforcement authorities had found no violation, the University proceeded with disciplinary actions against him, with the possibility of expulsion.

A number of Hindu, interfaith, and Jewish groups wrote to University President Steven Knapp, educating him about the significance of the swastika for Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains, and urging him to avoid expelling the student. "The swastika is one of the most sacred symbols of Hinduism, with a three thousand year history of peace before it was misappropriated by the Nazis," said Samir Kalra, HAF senior director and Human Rights Fellow. "We wanted to ensure that any Hindu, Buddhist, or Jain student who sought to display the symbol as a part of her faith would not be punished for doing so," Kalra said.

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Nepal Earthquake: A Field Report
Posted on 2015/5/30 17:45:54 ( 461 reads )



NEPAL, May 29, 2015 (Hinduism Today): Tenzin Norbu of Sunny Travels in Nepal sent the following email to a donor who was helping with funds to rebuild a village:

"We thank you for the support. We have distributed the funds to the very poor Tamang village of 450 houses. It was not much, but the people were very happy to get anything in such a crises. The good news about the situation is that while nearly 400 houses were destroyed, only five or six died. Most were luckily out in the field working. One major school was closed that day, and others were able to run out of their home in time.

"Now these people have already started to rebuild their houses. The whole village is cooperating, but they will only be able to rebuild 25% of the houses destroyed this year. Instead of tents or food, they want aluminum roofing to build permanent houses. One sheet costs US$20, and to build one normal house they need 12 to 16 sheets for the roof.

"Now the biggest problem is for the tourism Industry. In Nepal, most are farmers. Then we have people working overseas in the Middle East and Malaysia. The tourism industry is very important to the economy, but through August, 90% of all tourist trips have been canceled. More and more people are jobless. We hope the tourist season will peak as usual in September. Visiting Nepal will help rebuild Nepal.

"Praying for you all and thanking you once again.

Tenzin Norbu, Managing Director, sunnytravels.np@gmail.com

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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2015/5/30 17:45:48 ( 448 reads )

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Stop all your attachments to false values. In an ever-changing world there is nothing worthwhile for us to desire or weep for. Joys and sorrows are bound to come in human life; they are just two sides of the same coin.
-- Swami Chinmayananda (1916-1992), founder of the Chinmaya Mission

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Indian Center in China Unable to Find Experts
Posted on 2015/5/29 4:24:09 ( 670 reads )

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BEIJING, CHINA, May 21, 2015 (Times of India): The head of Center for Gandhian and Indian Studies (CGIS) that Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated at Shanghai's Fudan University last week has said he is facing problems in finding Indologists and Gandhian studies experts for it. "Most Indologists in China are experts in Buddhism. We need variety. The best option is to get from India," CGIS dean Liu Zhen told TOI. The situation is stark in the case of Gandhian studies.

Liu said he would push for Hinduism and Jainism studies, but there are no scholars on these subjects in China as well. He said the formation of CGIS is the first step and that an essential framework had been created. "I hope it will evolve into a proper university faculty," Liu said. He said everyone knows the importance of the Center. "There are so many Sinology institutions the world over. But so few Indology faculties although both are countries with similar population sizes and depth of history and culture," he said. "We will work hard to make this Center a success."

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Indonesians Can Now Put Faiths Outside the 6 Officially Recognized Religions on Their ID Cards
Posted on 2015/5/29 4:24:04 ( 634 reads )

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JAKARTA, INDONESIA, May 21, 2015 (Coconuts Jakarta): There are only six religions officially recognized by the Indonesian government: Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism. Indonesian citizens had to put one of those six religions on their ID cards (KTP), regardless of their actual beliefs. Until now, that is. Yesterday, Home Minister Tjahjo Kumolo announced that faiths outside of the aforementioned six, must be allowed onto ID cards.

Tjahjo said one of the main reason for changing the rule was so that authorities would know what funerary rites needed to be observed and respected when a person died. Tjahjo said it was for that reason that it was important for the government to know exactly what religion each person believes in. While it appears to be mainly an administrative move rather than a philosophical change of heart by the government, it is still a big step forward in the name of religious freedom for Indonesians of all faiths.

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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2015/5/29 4:23:58 ( 629 reads )

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There the eye goes not, nor words, nor mind. We know not. We cannot understand how He can be explained. He is above the known, and He is above the unknown. Thus have we heard from the ancient sages who explained this truth to us.
-- Sama Veda, Kena Upanishad 1.3

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The 4th Hindu Mandir Priest Conference (HMPC) Held in Minnesota
Posted on 2015/5/28 4:28:54 ( 722 reads )

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MINNESOTA, U.S., May 23, 2013 (World Hindu News): Hindu Mandir Priests' Conference (HMPC) is an initiative of the Hindu Mandir Executives' Conference. The mission of HMEC is to provide leadership to the Hindu-American community by encouraging Hindu temples across North America to nourish, protect, and sustain Hindu Dharma. The 4th annual HMPC was hosted by Hindu Temple of Minnesota, MN from May 15-16, 2015.

This year, over 55 pundits, adults, and youth delegates attended this conference, representing various Mandirs and Hindu organizations across the nation. The conference was organized into four sessions, and the topics were consistent with the HMPC's objective: Sustainability and Advancement of Sanatana Dharma by making the modes of worship meaningful and relevant for the younger generation of Hindus. The four sessions were: Role and relationship of Priests, Sustaining Hindu temples, Community links, and Hindu American Youth viewpoint.

Full details of conference events at "source".

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The Great Indian Kingdoms Which Never Got a Significant Place in Our School History Books
Posted on 2015/5/28 4:28:16 ( 970 reads )

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INDIA, May 25, 2015 (South Report by Reshmanth): [HPI Note: This is an excellent presentation on the many neglected kingdoms of Indian history. The site has a short description of each with a map.]

All we ever studied in our history books was all about the glorified history of a very few kingdoms like the Mughal Dynasty, Mysore Dynasty and the Delhi sultanates. This article brings to focus the real legacy of Indian kings and dynasties under whom India progressed and flourished as a cultural, spiritual and social nation.

The Pandyan dynasty was the ancient Tamil dynasty, one of the three Tamil dynasties, the other two being Chola and Chera. No other dynasty in the world has ruled more duration than the Pandyas. Pandyas were experts in water management, agriculture (mostly near river banks) and fisheries and they were eminent sailors and sea traders too. They controlled the pearl fisheries along the South Indian coast, between Sri Lanka and India, which produced some of the finest pearls in the known ancient world.

Other great kingdoms include: The Pallava Dynasty, Maratha Empire, Vijayanagara Empire, Kingdom of Kochin, Kakatiya Dynasty, Gajapathi Kingdom, The Chola Dynasty, Satavahana Kingdom, Hoysala Empire, Magadha Kingdom, The Chalukyas, The Mauryas, The Rajputs, Nanda Dynasty and The Guptas.

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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2015/5/28 4:28:11 ( 661 reads )

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Even in search of extraordinary gains, the wise will never speak trivial or useless words.
-- Tirukkural 198

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Indian-American Students Shine at UC Berkeley Graduation
Posted on 2015/5/25 2:34:45 ( 1201 reads )

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BERKELEY, CALIFORNIA, May 16, 2015 (Facebook): Last Saturday's UC Berkeley University commencement featured moving, personal remarks by top graduating senior Radhika Kannan. Kannan, UC Berkeley's most distinguished graduating senior and winner of the University Medal, earned the highest distinction in Economics and Conservation studies. Having grown up both in India and Singapore, two areas plagued by drought and floods, she developed a passion for environmental justice. She's is now headed to the University of Oxford for a Masters Degree. Kannan began her speech with "Mikka Nandri, Thank-you" to University Chancellor Dirks who she noted also speaks her mother tongue--Tamil. More on Radihika speech is at "source" above and an article about her here: http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2015/05/04/medalist2015/

A second inspiring speech is by Vrinda Agarwal who gave the UC Berkeley Political Science Valedictorian Speech. She's worked on rights for women in India's slums, as well as rights for the poor communities of Oakland (Berkeley's next-door neighbor). Her long-term goal is to become the first female Indian-American US Senator. She's served as an officer of Berkeley's Hindu Students Council. Her speech is at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzXWBzwqZKY

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Kauai's Hindu Monastery Looking for Mobile App Developer
Posted on 2015/5/25 2:34:01 ( 1149 reads )



KAUAI, HAWAII, May 24, 2015 (HPI): Kauai's Hindu Monastery, home of Hinduism Today, is looking for a team (or ace individual) to collaborate with for mobile app development. We have a modest budget (US$4-5,000) and ideas for a simple first app. We seek someone who can endure such limited budgets, perhaps an up-and-coming young designer/developer looking for clients? If we are a good fit, it could be a decades-long relationship.

Please contact: Sadasivanathaswami, Editor-in-Chief, Hinduism Today, sadasivanatha@hindu.org

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