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India Court Recognizes Transgender People As Third Gender
Posted on 2014/4/20 16:55:01 ( 414 reads )

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INDIA, April 15, 2014 (BBC): India's Supreme Court has recognized transgender people as a third gender, in a landmark ruling. "It is the right of every human being to choose their gender," it said in granting rights to those who identify themselves as neither male nor female. It ordered the government to provide transgender people with quotas in jobs and education in line with other minorities, as well as key amenities.

According to one estimate, India has about two million transgender people. Campaigners say they live on the fringes of society, often in poverty, ostracized because of their gender identity. Most make a living by singing and dancing or by begging and prostitution.

Members of the third gender have played a prominent role in Indian culture and were once treated with great respect. They find mention in the ancient Hindu scriptures and were written about in the greatest epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. In medieval India too, they played a prominent role in the royal courts of the Mughal emperors and some Hindu rulers. Many of them rose to powerful positions.

Their fall from grace started in the 18th Century during the British colonial rule when the Criminal Tribes Act of 1871 categorized the entire transgender community as "criminals" who were "addicted" to committing serious crimes. After Independence, the law was repealed in 1949, but mistrust of the transgender community has continued. It is hoped that the landmark court ruling will help bring them into the mainstream and improve their lot.

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Two More BAPS Mandirs Open In Australia
Posted on 2014/4/20 16:54:54 ( 323 reads )

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AUSTRALIA, March 1, 2014 (The Indian Sun): Inspired by His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the current spiritual head of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, the newly reconstructed BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Rosehill, Sydney was officially inaugurated with Vedic rituals by Sadguru Sant Pujya Ishwarcharan Swami, a senior BAPS sadhu, and the State Premier of New South Wales, the Honorable Barry O'Farrell, on Sunday, 9 February 2014.

The murti-pratishtha ceremony marked the climax of the four-day Mandir Mahotsav. The murtis, previously sanctified and consecrated by His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj during his visit in 2002, were reinstalled in the new mandir amidst the chanting of Vedic mantras. This was followed by a traditional folk dance performed by children and the first arti of the murtis in the new mandir.

Another BAPS mandir was inaugurated in Brisbane the following week with a two-day celebrations on 14 and 15 February. With this two mandir openings, BAPS now holds four mandirs in Australia, specifically in Sydney, Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane with Adelaide to go next as well as Perth renovations in the pipeline.

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India's Women Sadhus Form All-Female Group
Posted on 2014/4/20 16:54:39 ( 403 reads )

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INDIA, March 1, 2014 (Global Post): Female sadhus, or holy Hindu women, have broken away from tradition and formed a new all-female group in India that they hope will end male domination of spiritual practices. In the northern city of Allahabad a group of women sadhus formally established their group or akhada, holding ceremonies on the banks of the River Ganges which is considered sacred by Hindus. Mahant Trikal Bhavanta, a leading woman sadhu, told AFP late Friday that the all-women akhada was believed to be the first in the history of Hinduism in India.

An akhada is a group of sadhus -- reclusive ascetics or wandering monks who renounce normal life and are often widely respected for their holiness. India has more than a dozen such groups, all male-dominated. According to some Hindu lore, it is believed the first akhada was formed by Hindu philosopher Adi Shankaracharya in the eighth century with the aim of safeguarding the religion's interests.

Bhavanta said the all-women group was facing criticism from male sadhus, who claim the move goes against age-old customs. "Nowhere in the Hindu scriptures is it mentioned that women cannot have an akhada of their own," she told AFP.

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Hindus Mark New Year WIth Color
Posted on 2014/4/20 16:54:33 ( 298 reads )

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BARBADOS, March 17, 2014 (Nation News): Dashes of blue, red and white powder painted a kaleidoscope of celebration, as Hindus and people of Indian descent in Barbados marked Phagwa yesterday. The festival of many colors signalled the beginning of a new year on the Hindu calendar, as well as the victory of good over evil, Pandit Thakoor Prashad explained to the Daily Nation at the Welches temple where the event was held. "Barriers are broken and all enmity is gone and everyone becomes friends," he continued.

Prashad reported that local celebrations were growing. Fifteen undergraduate cultural studies students from the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, curious onlookers and supporters came out to the event, which started late in the afternoon, despite the scattered showers.

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Daily Inspiration
Posted on 2014/4/20 16:54:26 ( 204 reads )

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The way to freedom is a way of silence--of silent resolve and silent service.
-- Sadhu Vaswani, (1879-1966) founder the Sadhu Vaswani Mission

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