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Global Poll: Women Like Their Lives Better

Posted on 2003/11/4 8:47:02 ( 887 reads )


WASHINGTON, D.C., October 29, 2003: All around the world, from rich countries in North America to the poorest nations in Africa and Asia, men and women tend to differ from one another when it comes to their outlook on life, their family, their future and the world at large, begins this lengthy article. Women are somewhat happier than men with their lives overall, according to 38,000 interviews in 44 countries conducted by the Pew Research Center for the Pew Global Attitudes Survey. And, compared with five years ago, the women surveyed reported more often than men that they had made progress in their lives. The global gender gap is not limited to happiness, for it also reflects differing life perspectives. Women show greater concern about issues that directly affect the family and home life. Men express more concern about issues outside the home and more optimism about the future. Men are happier with their family life and more optimistic about what lies ahead for their children. All over the world, men and women in the same country had roughly the same response to a question asking them where they stand in achieving their lives' goals. The happiest people (both men and women) live in Canada and the United States among the countries Pew surveyed. The people least satisfied with their lives live in Eastern Europe and parts of Africa. For the full article click on "source" above.

4.6 Million Visit Vaishno Devi in Jammu

Posted on 2003/11/3 8:49:02 ( 880 reads )


JAMMU, INDIA, November 2, 2003: A record number of over 4.6 million pilgrims from various parts of the country have visited the holy cave shrine of Mata Vaishnodevi in Trikuta hills of Jammu and Kashmir through October, 2003. During the corresponding period of last year, 3.7 million pilgrims visited the holy cave shrine. Currently, 18,000 to 19,000 pilgrims are daily reaching the base camp at Katra for their onward journey to the holy cave shrine. Elaborate security arrangements have also been made by the police department enroute to darbar and at the base camp in Katra town.

Hindus Upset with Book on Lord Ganesha

Posted on 2003/11/3 8:48:02 ( 1030 reads )


HOUSTON, TEXAS, November 2, 2003: A nude picture of Lord Ganesha on the cover of a new book and the contents have evoked protests from Hindus across the United States. The nude portrayal of Lord Ganesha on the book Ganesa, Lord of Obstacles, Lord of Beginnings, by Emory University Professor Paul Courtright has earned the wrath of Hindu scholars in Houston, according to this article in the Hindustan Times, who say several passages quoted in the book "are seemingly insensitive to Hindu belief or faith." A petition is also being circulated and signed online to protest against the book and demands that publishers withdraw it from circulation. A release issued by the scholars claimed that so far about 5,000 people have signed the petition expressing their displeasure (the URL for the petition is not working at this time). According to the release, the book "is not only ridiculing and insulting Hinduism but has utterly disgusting and distasteful material which is mind-boggling and throws a direct challenge to our traditional beliefs and practices."

Hinduism Today Seeking Hindus Who Speak to Non-Hindu Groups on Hinduism

Posted on 2003/11/3 8:47:02 ( 918 reads )


KAUAI, HAWAII, November 3, 2003: Hinduism Today magazine is preparing a feature story on Hindus who talk about Hinduism to non-Hindu groups, such as school classes, interfaith meetings, hospital and nursing staff, social club meetings, etc. We want to interview those so engaged and share their experiences and suggestions with our readers, such as how to answer, "Why do you worship cows?" or "What is reincarnation?" If you know someone who has experience in this area, kindly send "source" above their contact information. We want to focus on lay Hindus, rather than swamis or priests. Hindu academics, such as professors, would qualify for this particular story if they are presenting Hinduism to non-Hindus on behalf of the Hindu community.

England's House of Commons Celebrates Diwali

Posted on 2003/11/2 8:49:02 ( 867 reads )


LONDON, UK, October 30, 2003: In a momentous occasion for the Indian community in Britain, Diwali has been celebrated inside the House of Commons, with Prime Minister Tony Blair lighting the traditional lamp to mark the festivities. Presiding over the function, attended by more than 100 Members of Parliament and 400 guests, Blair said that he was "deeply touched by the unity, warmth and joy this festival brings each year and the spirit with which it is celebrated." "It is a great privilege and pleasure for me to share in the joy of celebrating Diwali with the Hindu community in the House of Commons. Diwali is now celebrated by different communities across the UK and its growing popularity helps to strengthen the bonds between them," he said. "The Prime Minister's celebration of Diwali in the House of Commons is a unique achievement in the history of the British Parliament," India-born MP Keith Vaz said who organized support from other parliamentarians for holding the event. "The major difference this year is that we have introduced an interfaith element to the celebrations," said Ramesh Kalidai, general secretary of the Hindu Center for Communications and coordinator for the event. "Leaders of all the main faiths and all three political parties came together at the House of Commons to celebrate and share the universal message of Diwali."

Website Details Missionaries' Goal to Eliminate Hinduism in India

Posted on 2003/11/2 8:48:02 ( 873 reads )


USA, October 30, 2003: Christian missionaries in India are furiously targeting specific regions of the country in the hopes of converting the entire population to Christianity. The Hindu-run website at "source" takes a look at their designs and plans. One map shows the percentage of Hindus in each state of India. The central states have the highest and have been labeled "The Hindu Belt." The church believes it can eliminate Hinduism if this region is converted to Christianity first. Another map shows the distribution of the Christian population in India. The highest concentration is in the south and in northeastern India. The church is targeting the "Hindu Belt" from two fronts. One front is being launched from Kerala up through Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh towards Orissa. The other front is coming from the Northeast through West Bengal, Jharkhand and Bihar towards Orissa.

Blair's Support of Faith Schools Misplaced: Amartya Sen

Posted on 2003/11/2 8:47:02 ( 999 reads )


LONDON, ENGLAND. October 29 2003: Nobel Prize winner Dr. Amartya Sen criticized the support to faith schools by Prime Minister Tony Blair in his keynote speech at the Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers in Edinburgh. He also criticised the Scottish Executive's stance on denominational schools, claiming single-faith establishments damage educational attainment. He said: "I personally believe that even the UK government makes a mistake in expanding, rather than reducing, faith-based schools, adding, for example, Muslim schools, Hindu schools and Sikh schools to preexisting Christian ones." Dr. Sen further stressed "the importance of nonsectarian and nonparochial curricula that expand, rather than reduce, the reach of reason," claiming that faith schools reduced individuality and threatened attainment levels. A spokeswoman for the government said: "We believe that denominational schools provide an important strand in parental choice in education and make a positive contribution to raising achievement and attainment. We value this and would expect to see them continue."

Big Bang Sounded Like a Deep Hum

Posted on 2003/11/2 8:46:02 ( 972 reads )


SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, October 30, 2003: The Big Bang sounded more like a deep hum ("aum," perhaps?) than a bang, according to an analysis of the radiation left over from the cataclysm. Physicist John Cramer of the University of Washington in Seattle has created audio files of the event which can be played on a PC (download at "source" above). "The sound is rather like a large jet plane flying 100 feet above your house in the middle of the night," he says. Giant sound waves propagated through the blazing hot matter that filled the universe shortly after the Big Bang. These squeezed and stretched matter, heating the compressed regions and cooling the rarefied ones. Even though the universe has been expanding and cooling ever since, the sound waves have left their imprint as temperature variations on the afterglow of the big bang fireball, the so-called cosmic microwave background. Cramer was prompted to recreate the din last heard 13.7 billion years ago by an 11-year-old boy who wanted to know what the Big Bang sounded like for a school project.

Siddhivinayak Temple Turned Into Fortress After Terrorist Threat

Posted on 2003/10/30 8:49:02 ( 1031 reads )


MUMBAI, INDIA, October 28, 2003: Security has been stepped up at the Siddhivinayak temple in Mumbai after warnings that it could be the next terrorist target. "The temple trust has hired a foreign security agency to guard the temple," said Sanjay Bhagwat, chief executive officer of the Siddhivinayak Temple Trust. New safety measures in place include trained guards checking every bag, including wallets, that devotees bring in and making sure that roads around the temple remain no-parking zones. A watchtower is in the offing at the nearby police division. The temple has four handheld detectors and four door frame metal detectors and has requisitioned eight more sophisticated ones, Bhagwat said. He said, "Forty security personnel will guard the temple in three shifts every day. Many of them will mingle with the crowd in plain clothes. Kiran Dolas, manager (operations) of Group 4 Securitas (G4S), the agency hired by the temple, said: "We have given them training in body frisking, religious training and extensive study of body language to be able to spot potential troublemakers." G4S provides security to the American Consulate and armed escort to foreign banks. Police, for their part, are playing it safe. Ahmed Javed, joint commissioner of police (law and order) said, 'The Siddhivinayak temple is a landmark and has great emotional and religious value for the city, so we asked the temple authorities to upgrade security." Bhagwat has a piece of advice for devotees. "Just bring grass and flowers for the Lord. Not heavy bags and garlands."

Surgery in Delhi Scheduled Upon Astrological Advice

Posted on 2003/10/30 8:48:02 ( 786 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, October 27, 2003: Many people in Delhi consult astrologers to decide the day, date and time of a surgery in the family. Paediatric cardiologist Dr. Vikas Kohli says he "gets such requests all the time." "The parents want the surgery to be over by, say, before 9 a.m. on October 29. They had consulted an astrologer, who poured over astrological permutations and gave them that particular date and time," says Dr. Kohli. Chief of invasive and interventional cardiology, Dr. Ashok Seth, says families set time-limits for surgeries for they believe that the patient will recover fast. The dependence on planetary positions is not restricted to cardiac surgeries alone. General surgeon Dr.Vinay Sabharwal, too, gets the same kind of requests. Doctors are not ready to pass value judgements over such requests and try to accommodate them as best they can and only if the patient's medical condition permits. "If the condition worsens and the operation needs to be done earlier, we overrule the request," Dr. Seth says.

Guyana President Tells True Meaning of Diwali

Posted on 2003/10/30 8:47:02 ( 929 reads )


GEORGETOWN, GUYANA, October 26, 2003: "Our country has prevailed, our people have prevailed," exclaimed Guyanese President Bharrat Jagdeo to a mammoth crowd on Diwali. "In the true spirit of Diwali, our people have overcome their problems because Diwali is all about the triumph of good over evil. It is the triumph of the forces of light over darkness and our country has prevailed, our people have prevailed, and we need to recognize this," he said. The President added: "When I think about our country and I think about so many of our problems, sometimes, on a daily basis. People get so involved in life and the hardships of life, they lose sight of the important things such as happiness. We don't find happiness in wealth. We find happiness in good relationships; relationships between parents and children, between brothers and sisters, between families, between husband and wife." Hundreds of Guyanese lined the streets of Georgetown to view the annual Diwali motorcade and many more turned up at the La Bonne Intention (LBI) Community Centre Ground where the magnificently illuminated floats were judged. Many prizes were given out. A grand cultural program was held on the grounds.

Here's One Way of Solving Dowry Demands -- Kidnap the Boy

Posted on 2003/10/30 8:46:02 ( 878 reads )


BEGUSARAI, INDIA, October 27, 2003: The arrival of the wedding season means fear for parents of unmarried men in Begusarai (in Bihar state, eastern India), which is known for "forced marriages." Pakraua Vivah (forced marriage) is an old practice in the district, but the menace has increased in recent years and spread to neighboring districts also. With dowry demands rising, the families of girls seek help from criminal gangs that kidnap youths and force them into wedlock, Pramod Singh, a social activist said. Thirteen cases of forced marriage were recorded by the police here from February to July. The total for the previous year was 15. The practice is prevalent in the Matihani, Balia, Sahebpur Kamal, Bakhri, Teghra and Baghwara blocks of Begusarai. But a large number of cases go unreported as the families fear the criminal gangs. The gangs charge a handsome commission for kidnapping a boy for marriage. They often stay until the marriage is solemnized and the girl sent to the boy's home, informed sources said. In many cases, the villagers extend support to the girl's family. The ceremony is videotaped so that the tape can be used as evidence. HPI adds: In the dharma shastras are listed six or eight forms of marriage. The last three are disapproved -- marriage by the boy and girl themselves by exchange of garlands without rites or permission of parents, kidnapping of the girl and drugging the girl. Such marriages are recognized, however, in that the children are considered legitimate and the girl does have the rights of a wife. But even the dharma shastras don't seem to have considered kidnapping the boy.

Religious Texts Face Ban in Calgary Hospitals

Posted on 2003/10/30 8:45:02 ( 931 reads )

Religion News Service

CALGARY, ALBERTA, CANADA, October 29, 2003: Bibles and any other religious texts in hospital bedside drawers may become contraband under a proposal from the Calgary Health Region (CHR), reports the Calgary Herald. If the policy is approved, the Gideons International Bible, a bedside staple in hotels, prisons and hospitals, will be removed from all hospital rooms in the city and all distribution and display of any printed religious materials in hospitals will be banned. The policy, still under review, has drawn both acceptance and criticism from religious leaders in Calgary. An official with the CHR says the policy is the best way to avoid any religious discrimination or even the appearance that the organization favors one religious group over another. "There's no interest in restricting access. It's just that we want it to be non-discriminatory," says Toni MacDonald, the CHR's director of spiritual care. "There's not enough room in the drawers for all of the materials." "The secularists are taking over," countered Anglican minister Robert Greene, assistant priest at St. John the Evangelist in Inglewood. "This is just one more step in the secularization of society--to get rid of anything of spiritual content." Pastoral services at all hospitals will continue to offer 24-hour, on-call spiritual advisers of all faiths. Hindus have just been catching up by placing Hindu scriptures and materials in hospitals for Hindu patients.

London Temple Vandalized

Posted on 2003/10/29 8:49:02 ( 845 reads )


LONDON, October 26, 2003: Two young white men reportedly intruded into a Ram temple in Ealing Road, London, on Diwali and shook the statue of Ram, breaking an arm and the bow and arrow. According to reports, the men entered the Sanatam Dharam Mandir around 4 pm when a number of women had gathered for satsang (religious singing and discussion). One of the men grabbed the mike and began shouting while the other man, it is said, went up to the Ram murthi and started shaking it. As a result the murthi fell on the ground and one arm and the bow and arrow broke. Some women caught hold of the men and locked them up in a room until the police arrived and arrested the two men. The Hindu community has been shaken by the incident. One leader, Ramesh Kallidai, said that the murthi has been reinstalled after attaching the broken arm, but since a cracked murthi is not worshipped, a decision has to be made as what to do next. A further report in the Times of India adds that security was tightened at Shree Swaminarayan Mandir at Neasden, England's largest Hindu temple, where a large crowd had gathered to celebrate Diwali. Vanilal Bhaghela, Chairman of the Hindu Council of Brent, said the police investigation into the incident was on and hoped that it was only an isolated incident and it would not recur elsewhere. Diwali was celebrated with great enthusiasm by the sizeable Indian community in the UK. An estimated 40,000 people visited the Swaminarayan Mandir on Diwali day.

Reunion Hindus Revive Samskaras

Posted on 2003/10/29 8:48:02 ( 1040 reads )


REUNION, FRANCE, October 27, 2003: Swami Advayananda, member of Arsha Vidya Gurukulam ("source" above), sends this brief update on Hinduism in this department of France (like a state). "We conducted a mantra diksha ceremony (initiation in a mantra) for children in Reunion to help Hindus come back fully to Hinduism. Most of them think there are no ceremonies like the Catholic first communion for their children in the Hindu religion. We wanted to prove the contrary, and reintroduce them to the samskaras, (the Hindu rites of passage including naming, first feeding, first letter, head shaving, initiation into mantra, marriage, etc. See here, scrolling down to "samskara" in this lexicon of Dancing with Siva). At the ceremony each person gave their ishta devata (family or chosen Deity), and according to this choice, we gave them a simple mantra to help them develop their faith in Sanatana Dharma. Last year, we had only five children. This year, more than twenty children and adults participated. One couple, originally married years ago in a Christian ceremony, wanted to get married following the Hindu Vivaha (wedding) rites, and we have that scheduled for December 13. We are planning other weddings for couples, as well."

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