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President Bush Extends Diwali Greetings

Posted on 2003/10/20 8:49:02 ( 923 reads )


WASHINGTON, D.C., October 20, 2003: President George W. Bush has sent greetings to Hindus in the U.S. and around the world for the festival of Diwali. In a White House press statement Thursday, Bush said that by "marking the beginning of the Hindu New Year, Diwali provides an opportunity to give thanks for the renewal of life, reflect on lessons learned and anticipate future blessings. By celebrating their beliefs, ancestry, and culture, Hindus in America and around the world enrich communities and ensure that important values and customs are passed on to future generations." He said: "Laura joins me in sending our best wishes for a joyous Diwali. May the coming year be filled with hope and happiness." Overjoyed Indian Americans said perhaps this was the first time a U.S. president had acknowledged Diwali as a festival that celebrates the culture and ancestry of the Hindus. The festival will be observed across the world on October 25. Many of them had earlier complained that Bush remembers every festival and sends greetings on the occasion of Eid, Hanukkah and Christmas, but has not been able to say anything on Diwali, the most important festival observed by Hindus. But with a bit of lobbying and letter writing, Indian Americans have triumphed in their quest for recognition of Diwali as the festival of the Hindus.

M.P. Chief Minister Extends Invitations For Ujjain Kumbha

Posted on 2003/10/20 8:48:02 ( 810 reads )

Press Release

UJJAIN, INDIA, October 18, 2003: Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shri Digvijay Singh praised the arrangements made for the Kumbha Mela at Nashik and he announced that the Ujjain Kumbha Mela scheduled for next year will be in line with the Nashik Kumbha Mela. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister visited the Sadhu Gram at Tapovan in Nashik on August 22, 2003, to personally invite the Sadhus and Mahants for next year's Kumbha Mela at Ujjain. Speaking to the reporters after paying a visit to the Godavari River, Digvijay Singh said that all preparations for the mega event at Ujjain have been finished and he was in Nashik to invite the sadhus and mahants. Singh further said that he will follow the foot steps of Nashik administration in the preparation if there are any lacunas in his own. Sadhus and Mahants were also very happy with this initiative of the chief minister, and he was offered a traditional welcome by the sadhus with elephants and drums.

Toronto Star Apologizes -- Sort of -- for Unclothed Durga

Posted on 2003/10/20 8:47:02 ( 845 reads )


TORONTO, CANADA, August 20, 2003: The Toronto Star's Ombudsman, Don Steller, issued the following statement in response to Hindu complaints about a picture of an unclothed statue of the Goddess Durga run prominently in their newspaper: "UNDRAPED GODDESS. Durga is the multi-armed, Hindu goddess of power. Each fall, statues of Durga are worshipped for nine days at prayer festivals, and immersed in water. Last Saturday, the Star ran a Reuters photo of a craftsman in India making a statue of Durga. It ran with a feature on Hindu festival preparations here. The idol in the large color photo was unclothed, dramatically so. The picture stirred strong protests from some Hindu readers who said the undraped, frontal view was at least disrespectful, at worst 'blasphemous.' Said an editor: 'We're sorry if this representation of the goddess offended some readers. It was unintentional.' An effort to photograph a local statue being built had failed, she explained. So the wire photo was used. Apparently, the Star didn't understand the idol would never appear unclothed. When asked, several Hindus said the photo didn't offend them. Still, it's a reminder that matters of faith are delicate. Editors need to guard against insensitivity." India Cause, which led the protest, called the apology, "half-hearted." HPI adds: It is useful for people and organizations working to educate the Western press in Hinduism that reporters are trained to be very careful with terminology. Leave aside sensitive religious issues, the average reporter knows such minute details that one has to capitalize Jeep and Rollerblades because those terms are trademarks. So it is reasonable for Hindus to request news organizations to learn in detail what is and isn't offensive to Hindus, and to ask knowledgeable sources when they don't know.

Teaching Hinduism in US Schools

Posted on 2003/10/20 8:46:02 ( 1011 reads )


U.S.A., 2001: "Stereotypes about India and Hinduism when taught as fact in American classrooms may negatively impact students of South Asian origin who are struggling to work out their identity in a multicultural, predominately Anglo-Christian environment," begins this very long article by Yvette C. Rosser. The author explores the reactions of Hindu students who have studied about India in social studies classes in American secondary schools. Data was taken from surveys distributed at the University of Texas at Austin to students of South Asian descent who attended high school in the USA, as well as from personal interviews with several American-educated students of Indian heritage. The author also discusses the coverage of India in world history textbooks and analyses the preparedness of secondary social studies educators to teach about India and other non-Western regions. The full text of the article is at "source" above.

Hundreds Of Dalits Embrace Buddhism In Bangalore

Posted on 2003/10/20 8:45:02 ( 807 reads )


BANGALORE, INDIA, October 14, 2003: Coinciding with this day in 1956, when the architect of Indian Constitution, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar embraced Buddhism, hundreds of Dalits ("untouchables") from various parts of Karnataka today converted to the same religion, after taking a pledge to renounce Hinduism. They took the 22-point oath that Ambedkar administered at "dhamma" initiation to embrace Buddhism at Nagpur in 1956 at the function organized by the Boudha Dhamma Deeksha Committee, including different Dalit bodies and International Buddhist Youth Organization. In their oath, they renounced Hinduism and said they "firmly believe that dhamma of Buddha is the only true religion." The number of conversions fell very much short of the claims of the organizers who had projected that 50,000 would embrace Buddhism. The exact number of people who embraced Buddhism at the gathering, where there were participants from various districts of Karnataka, was not available. Organizers said they were in the process of compiling the number of registrations. Speakers at the function claimed Dalits were suffering because of the caste hierarchy in Hinduism and today's move was to restore their self-respect.

Pundit Krishna Maharaj Passes Away

Posted on 2003/10/20 8:44:02 ( 1918 reads )


TRINIDAD, October 15, 2003: Devant Maharaj of Trinidad's Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha sends this report: "On the eve of 2003 Divali celebrations Pundit Krishna Maharaj, the Dharmacharya of Trinidad & Tobago, died today. Pundit Krishna, as he was fondly called, was the spiritual leader of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha of Trinidad & Tobago and considered the most revered Hindu pundit on the island regardless of Hindu sect. Pundit Krishna has been a pundit for over 40 years and has conducted pujas not only in Trinidad but also the Caribbean, Europe, and North America. Pundit Krishna raised the spirits nationally in 1996 when he refused the Trinity Cross -- Trinidad's Highest National Award. Pundit Krishna accepted the honor but respectfully refused the award. For years Hindus have been lobbying to change the award. Pundit Krishna leaves behind two sons both of whom are respected pundits. Pundit Krishna's death will leave a deep void in the Hindu community.

Australian Court Hears Muslim Complaint Against Christian Evangelists

Posted on 2003/10/20 8:43:02 ( 876 reads )


VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA, October 2003: A court case seen to be legal challenge to Christians' freedom to question the validity of other religions is now underway in Australia. It is worth following as Hindus may also be able to prevent attacks under the same laws. Two Christian pastors accused of vilifying Islam at a seminar to explain the teachings of Islam to Christians appeared before a tribunal in the state of Victoria on October 15, 2003. Muslims who attended the seminar organized by a Christian organization, Catch the Fire Ministries, claimed they were horrified by what they heard and took up the matter with the Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV) which then took the case, under new anti-discrimination legislation, to a state body called the Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC). EOC mediation efforts failed, and the ICV and the three individual Muslims took the pastors to a tribunal set up under the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act. In their response, the pastors said, "Many of the complaints were about statements that are in fact part of the foundations of Islam, some taken straight from the Quran." Some statements were taken out of context, while others were inaccurate, when compared to recordings of the seminar. A Christian ethical action group called Saltshakers is closely following the case. Executive officer Peter Stokes said all Christians in the state were affected by the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act "if they stand up and declare the truth." "The Christian gospel -- that Jesus died to save the world and there is no other way to gain eternal life -- is going to be offensive to followers of other faiths because it exposes their religions as "false," he said. Click here for the Catch the Fire Ministries home page, and here for a description of the group and the related "Toronto Blessing" movement, considered a "cult" by some Christians.

Navaratri Celebrated in Malaysia

Posted on 2003/10/19 8:49:02 ( 757 reads )


PENANG, MALAYSIA, October 13, 2003: Malaysian Hindus have been celebrating the festival Navaratri in their country since the early 1920's. With each successive year, the festival has attracted more participants to the nine-day celebration in honor of Goddess Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati. This year the festival culminated with a 4 km chariot procession starting at 7 p.m. from Penang Street and ending at midnight. Devotees followed the wooden chariot while singing bhajans and offering coconuts, fruits and flowers to the Goddess. A priest accompanying the murthi distributed holy ash to one and all.

Bihar Prisons Go Vegetarian

Posted on 2003/10/19 8:48:02 ( 922 reads )


BIHAR, INDIA, October 13, 2003: Bihar prison inmates may be in for a surprise in the next few weeks. State Jail Minister Basawan Bhagat announced at a meeting attended by senior officials, "The prisons have decided to stop providing nonvegetarian food to prisoners and bring about a qualitative change in the vegetarian food. High-quality rice, dal and vegetables will be provided to the prisoners." Up to this point, Bihar was the only state in India that provided nonvegetarian food such as mutton, fish and chicken to the inmates.

New Hindu Temple in Westchester County

Posted on 2003/10/19 8:47:02 ( 3456 reads )


WESTCHESTER, NEW YORK, October 13, 2003: Once again Hindus in the U.S.A. have brought their religion closer to home. Westchester County's first Hindu temple was consecrated and icons of Gods and Goddesses were installed recently while priests chanted Sanskrit and bathed the deities with milk, honey, yogurt, sugar and clarified butter. The article says, "The deities, made in Ahmadabad, India, from locally quarried marble, included Lord Rama and his consort Sita; Lord Siva and Parvati; Lord Krishna and Radha; the elephant-headed God of prosperity, Ganesh; and the saints Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Gunatitanand Swami." Members of the Bochasanwasi Shree Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha have been the creative force behind the 2.2 million dollar temple. The temple will service Hindus in the Tri-State area and give Hindus from Texas, Washington, Massachusetts and Tennessee another place to pilgrimage to. Jitendra Police, 62, of Queens says, "If they come here, they will know about their culture and religion. They will learn to take care of their father and mother. They will have family attachment," as he gestured to a group of young Hindus. Shivani Mistry, 17, of Tarrytown sums it up, "It gives us another opportunity to learn about our culture and religion because the temple is so close to home."

Guyana President Meeting Hindus

Posted on 2003/10/19 8:46:02 ( 885 reads )


GUYANA, October 19, 2003: Following meetings with leaders of the Christian and Muslim communities, Guyana's President, Bharrat Jagdeo, will meet with representatives of the Hindu faith on October 22 at State House. Cabinet Secretary Dr. Roger Luncheon told reporters at his weekly press briefing yesterday that the encounter, like the others held before, would allow Jagdeo to discuss issues of mutual concern. According to Luncheon, the ceremony will also allow for interaction between government and state functionaries and Hindu priests.

Indian Artists Perform Their Unique Expressions of the Ramayana

Posted on 2003/10/19 8:45:02 ( 825 reads )


SKOKIE, ILLINOIS, September 29, 2003: Performing under the umbrella of the Ramayan Institute, artistes from Thailand, Indonesia and India came together to perform their rendition of the epic Ramayan for a crowd of several hundred in the U.S.A. Chantimar Sriaroon, a Thai and president of the institute says, "Ramayan tells the story of King Rama's life in Ayodhya. While this story originated in India, it transcends time and cultural boundaries. Its universal message of family values, duty and seeking truth has spread throughout Southeast Asia, becoming a symbol of tradition and Asian heritage." Newal Agnihotri, past president and trustee of the Ramayan, comments, "The annual dance events have garnered a loyal following and run to a packed theatre. Next year, artistes from the Philippines and Sri Lanka will be joining the performances." Each country brought their unique expressions to the performances. For example, the Indian troupe performed a Bharatanatyam dance while the Thai troupe enacted Ravana's visit to Sita in Sri Lanka.

The English Language and India's Social Structure

Posted on 2003/10/19 8:44:02 ( 826 reads )


INDIA, APRIL 22, 2003: This lengthy article written by Sankrant Sanu begins, "India, like many other former colonies, suffers from a class-system based on knowledge of the erstwhile colonial language, which in the case of India is English. This class system has manifested as a reference and social status given to people that spoke most like their masters, with a hierarchy starting from the "Queen's English" to "Convent educated" to "Public school education" to "Fluent but accented English" to "broken English" to "lack of English." The essay exams such issues as whether English is a must for higher studies and whether countries with a large number of English speakers are more affluent than those without. The author seeks to distinguish between the learning of English as a language for communication versus the use of English as a primary medium of instruction and a symbol for societal rank in a colonial society. The full article is available at "source" above.

Six Million Nepalis Working Abroad

Posted on 2003/10/19 8:43:02 ( 824 reads )


KATHMANDU, NEPAL, October 19, 2003: There is no official record of how many Nepalis are living on other countries. Representatives of the nonresident Nepalis, using their own resources and means, have compiled these numbers on Nepalis living in foreign lands. There are 21 million Nepalese in Nepal, who are 89.5% Hindu. About five million Nepalis are estimated to be living in SAARC countries and about 1.2 million more are scattered in 40 other countries around the world, The Rising Nepal said. Of them, there are about 400,000 Nepalis in Burma, 12,000 in Thailand, 2,000 each in France and Belgium, 1,100 in The Netherlands, 4,000 in Germany, 1,000 in Portugal, 500 in Spain, 1,000 in Russia, 1,500 in South Africa, 73,000 in Hong Kong, 5,000 in Singapore, 125,000 in Malaysia and 1,000 in The Philippines. There are 12,000 Nepalis in Japan, 80,000 in Korea, and 2,000 in China. There are 215,000 Nepalis in Saudi Arabia, 70,000 in Qatar, 5,000 in Oman, 50,000 in Israel, 12,000 in Kuwait, 70,000 in the UAE and 8,000 in Australia. It is believed the more frequent emigration of men is responsible for the statistic that women outnumber men within Nepal by 500,000.

Hindu-Themed T-shirts, Caps and Clocks

Posted on 2003/10/19 8:42:02 ( 1014 reads )


USA, October 19, 2003: This unusual website sells a large variety of Hindu-themed merchandise, including t-shirts with slogans such as "Proud Hindu" and "We are all children of God." They have similarly slogan-embossed coffee mugs, wall clocks, mousepads, lunchboxes, postcard and stickers. One set of items says, "Oh God, Lead us from untruth to truth. Lead us from darkness to light. Lead us from death to Immortality. Upanishad."

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