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Nepal Bans Pilgrimages to Temples after April Quake
Posted on 2015/5/31 3:36:13 ( 572 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 ( 533 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 ( 511 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 ( 514 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 ( 648 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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