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120-year-old Hindu Temple in Singapore Renovated
Posted on 2015/1/30 15:23:11 ( 439 reads )

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SINGAPORE, January 25, 2015 (by Melody Zaccheus, NewsAsia): Hunched over trays in the kitchen of a Hindu temple, a platoon of 12 volunteers and four cooks would spend two back-breaking hours on Fridays and Sundays peeling pungent onions. But they will no longer shed tears, as a new machine in the Sri Senpaga Vinayagar Temple's kitchen has cut the time taken to peel 30kg worth of onions to just two minutes. It will also eliminate the need for volunteers for the task. The automated peeler is one of six new pieces of equipment in the 120-year-old temple's new, state-of-the-art $500,000 kitchen.

The others include an automated vegetable cutter, an automated rice washer, and a combi-oven steamer that can produce 250 pieces of idli (steamed cakes) in 10 minutes. Sri Senpaga Vinayagar Temple's president, Dr R. Theyvendran, said the new kitchen will help speed up cooking operations to serve some 1,200 devotees, including foreign workers, who swing by on weekends for free vegetarian lunches and dinners.Its vice-chairman, Mr Prama Ganeshan, added: "We can now cook more elaborate meals for the elderly and the needy."

The machines were imported from places such as Germany and Taiwan, and a consultant from Gayatri Restaurant here was brought in for the project. The modernized kitchen is believed to be the first such facility in a temple here. The kitchen upgrade is part of a $4.5 million renovation throughout the temple's Ceylon Road premises that started last August. All Hindu temples undergo renovations and repairs every 12 years to re-energize their Deities.

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Use of Critically Endangered Medicinal Plants to be Phased Out
Posted on 2015/1/30 15:23:05 ( 413 reads )

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INDIA, January 25, 2015 (The Hindu): In a few months, numerous "sought-after" ayurvedic medicines will be taken off the shelves as Karnataka Biodiversity Board (KBB) is phasing out the use of critically endangered medicinal plant species. Of the 425 plant species obtained from pharmaceutical companies, the board has reviewed 40 species that were put on the red list -- that is, endangered or vulnerable species -- of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

And of the 40 species, 20 have been declared as being "unsustainably exploited." The board has suggested phasing them out in a timeframe ranging from six months to two years. For instance, the use of the popular Ashoka tree, which is classified by the IUCN as "vulnerable", has been recommended for being phased out within six months. Nearly 15,337 tonnes of its bark, taken primarily from the Western Ghats, is used annually by pharma companies in the State.

"We will also recommend that companies be encouraged to take up cultivation of these species, instead of using them from the wild," said Mr. Sanjappa, former Director of Botanical Survey of India and a KBB member.


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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2015/1/30 15:22:58 ( 346 reads )

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It is easy to tame the rogue elephant. It is easy to tie the mouth of a bear. It is easy to mount the back of a lion. It is easy to charm poisonous snakes. It is easy to conquer the celestial and the noncelestial realms. It is easy to trek the worlds invisible. It is easy to command the angelic heavens. It is easy to retain youth eternally. It is easy to enter the body of others. It is easy to walk on water and sit in burning fire. It is easy to attain all of the siddhis (yogic powers). But to remain still is very, very difficult indeed.
-- Tayumanavar (1706-1744), Tamil saint, mystic and poet

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India Census 2011: The Religious Imbalance Worsens
Posted on 2015/1/29 16:58:17 ( 655 reads )

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INDIA, January 28, 2015 (India Facts by Dr. JK Bajaj): The long-awaited religion data for the Census of 2011 has not been published yet. But it seems that some journalists have been allowed to have a quick look at the figures. Consequently, many stories have appeared in the press; already several articles have been written to reassure the Hindus that the share of Muslims in the population of India has not really changed by too much and there is no serious demographic imbalance developing between different communities in India. But the reported figures seem anything but reassuring.

According to the reports, the Muslim population has grown by 24.4 per cent between 2001 and 2011. Average growth of the total population during the decade has been only 17.7 per cent; the growth of Hindus is much lower at only 14.5 per cent. The reports and various articles try to convey that the Muslim growth may be higher compared to the average, yet their rate of growth has declined substantially in comparison to the previous decade, when the Muslim population had grown by 29.50 per cent. But what is critical in maintaining the demographic balance between different communities is not the absolute rate of growth but the gap between their respective growth rates. The Muslim rate of growth in 2011 is nearly 38 per cent above the national average; in 2001, the gap between the growth of Muslims and the national average was somewhat lower at 36.8 per cent. The rate of growth of Hindus, on the other hand, has declined about 20 per cent below the national average. This is a matter of great concern.

A surprising aspect of the data that has been reported is the sharp decline in the share of Hindus in the total population of India. According to these reports, the proportion of Hindus has declined by 2.1 percentage points, from 80.45 per cent in 2001 to 78.35 per cent in 2011. Since the share of Muslims has increased by only 0.8 percentage points, what accounts for the larger decline in the share of Hindus? We do not have the detailed figures yet. But the large decline in the Hindu share is most likely to be associated with a spurt in the number of persons counted under "Other Religions and Persuasions".

Much more at 'source'.

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Upgraded Chariot for Thaipusam
Posted on 2015/1/29 16:58:11 ( 532 reads )

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MALAYSIA, January 29, 2015 (by Vincent Tan, The Star): In conjunction with the 125th year of celebrating Thaipusam at Batu Caves this year, the silver chariot underwent a US$41,300 upgrade. It will make its maiden journey, called the vellotam from the Sri Subramaniar Swamy Temple in Batu Caves to the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in Kuala Lumpur on Jan 31 at 8pm.

The silver chariot carrying Lord Muruga and His consorts Valli and Theivanai will head back to Batu Caves on Feb 1 at 10pm for the Thaipusam festival. Sri Maha Mariamman Temple Dhevasthanam chairman Tan Sri R. Nadarajah said the chariot would stop at several points to receive and offer prayers, and is expected to reach Batu Caves at about 2.30pm on Feb 2.

Four million people are expected to witness the Thaipusam festival at Batu Caves this year, added Nadarajah.

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