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Uttarakhand Tourist Department Aims to Revive Char Dham Economy
Posted on 2015/4/23 18:25:53 ( 254 reads )

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DEHRADUN, INDIA, April 22, 2015 (Times of India): Anil Shukla prays a lot these days. The 39-year-old father of three, who performs pujas for pilgrims at Kedarnath, has been praying fervently that the weather Gods remain benign, and the Char Dham Yatra, which began on April 21, draws in a lot of pilgrims this year. "The last two years were terrible. Earlier, we used to earn between US$3,100 and $4,750 for the six months that the yatra was on, but our incomes dipped to below $790 after the 2013 tragedy. This year at least, we hope that things look up," he says.

Like Shukla, there are many people across Uttarakhand who are voicing similar sentiments. According to state tourism department officials, the yatra provides direct and indirect employment to almost 50,000 people, and has the potential to earn revenues to the tune of $79 million to $158 million. This would make it not only the hill state's biggest annual religious extravaganza but also a massive employment generating exercise.

"The economy of a few thousand villages and some towns is dependent on the Char Dham Yatra," says Ravi Chopra, director of the People's Science Institute, a non-profit organization that takes up environmental and disaster mitigation issues. "I would estimate that there are almost 20,000 service providers for Kedarnath alone. These include priests, dhaba owners, chaiwallahs, mule operators, porters, snack sellers, sweepers ... the list is endless."

* The Char Dham Yatra is an annual pilgrimage to the Himalayan shrines of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. The yatra began on April 21 this year with the opening of the Yamunotri shrine followed by Gangotri on April 22; Kedarnath opens on April 24, and Badrinath on April 26. Huge floods caused thousands of deaths of pilgrims in 2013 and immense loss of buildings, roads and bridges.

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Phuket History: When Hinduism Arrived from the Bay of Bengal
Posted on 2015/4/23 18:25:47 ( 283 reads )

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PHUKET, THAILAND, August 24, 2014 (Phuket News): Even when the centuries were still in single digits, the Andaman Coast was an economically active area. Along estuarine communities down the coast, Indian, Arab and Persian traders made connections with local rulers and merchants, and would often return to the same communities year after year, often waiting several months for the monsoon winds to turn. They would be allocated a home and a wife for their stay and duly begat mixed-race children. As with today's overseas visitors, some decided to stay permanently. And with them came their holy men, who spread Brahmin, Hindu and Buddhist beliefs.

In the foyer of the Phuket History Museum in Thalang stands a large stone statue of the Hindu God Vishnu, found on the coast of Phang Nga in the 20th Century, confirming the early presence of Hinduism in the Phang Nga Bay area. Also, several ancient Hindu stone carvings have been recovered from Ko Pra Narai mountain, located on the old river trade route inland from Takuapa. Analysis of the stone has shown that these were made in India. Hinduism seems to have been dominant in and around Phuket for around a thousand years, from 500 BC to 500 AD. This ancient Hindu heritage can still be seen today when Thais greet each other with the word "Sawasdee" which derives from the Sanskrit word "Swastika", meaning "well-being".

More of this history at source.

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Trial Run of Big Temple Car a Success at Thanjavur
Posted on 2015/4/23 18:25:41 ( 281 reads )

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THANJAVUR, INDIA, April 22, 2015 (The Hindu): The new chariot of Sri Brihadeeswarar Temple here rolled out on its trial run gleaming under the early morning sun. The Big Temple finally got its chariot, the first in over a century as hundreds of eager townsmen, hailing the Lord, came together to draw the chariot. For all the people of Thanjavur, young and the elderly, it was their first glimpse of the Big Temple chariot run ritual as the temple never had experienced that chance in the last nearly 100 years. The new chariot, radiating the pleasant smell of fresh paint, commenced its journey on the four main thoroughfares preparing for its maiden run on April 29.

Earlier, Sivacharya priests performed special poojas and conducted rituals on the simhasanam, representing the Lord, and held over that a flashy umbrella as a mark of respect before waving the green flag as a sign to start pulling the chariot. Immediately, hundreds of devotees gathered for the occasion, reverentially picked up the huge ropes of the chariot and tugged at the car that wobbled and then instantly stabilized to give a perfect start. The giant wheels of the wooden car crushed sacred ash gourds, as a mark of tradition to ward off evil, at the starting mark and commenced their run.

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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2015/4/23 18:25:34 ( 244 reads )

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In India I found a race of mortals living upon the Earth, but not adhering to it. Inhabiting cities, but not being fixed to them, possessing everything but possessed by nothing.
-- Appolonius of Tiana (2-97 ce), Greek philosopher and occultist. His work deeply influenced Western mysticism.

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Narendra Modi Listed on Time Magazine's "100 Most Influential People in the World"
Posted on 2015/4/22 17:49:06 ( 580 reads )

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK, April 16, 2015 (Time): HPI Note: When Time publishes its yearly list of most influential people, they ask other prominent people to write up a short bio of the selected person explaining why they have received the honor. In the case of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US President Barack Obama provided the following text which was published by Time:

"India's reformer-in-chief

"As a boy, Narendra Modi helped his father sell tea to support their family. Today, he's the leader of the world's largest democracy, and his life story--from poverty to Prime Minister--reflects the dynamism and potential of India's rise.

"Determined to help more Indians follow in his path, he's laid out an ambitious vision to reduce extreme poverty, improve education, empower women and girls and unleash India's true economic potential while confronting climate change. Like India, he transcends the ancient and the modern--a devotee of yoga who connects with Indian citizens on Twitter and imagines a "digital India."

"When he came to Washington, Narendra and I visited the memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We reflected on the teachings of King and Gandhi and how the diversity of backgrounds and faiths in our countries is a strength we have to protect. Prime Minister Modi recognizes that more than 1 billion Indians living and succeeding together can be an inspiring model for the world."

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