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Malaysian Priest Accused of Abusing Position


Posted on 2003/7/15 9:45:02 ( 762 reads )

The Star

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, July 6, 2003: Misusing his sacred position, a priest serving in an Amman temple in Malaysia has been accused of knowingly deceiving devotees into giving him money and jewelry in exchange for communicating with dead relatives. He then allegedly proceeded to enact bogus encounters with living relatives and the deceased and often conned survivors into giving the Goddess more money to ward off other unfortunate circumstances in the family. One of the victims, R. Letchumanan explains, "The priest got me interested when he told me he had made arrangements for me to speak with my son, who died three months before that, through Amman." During the encounter, the Letchumanan family were asked by what they thought was their dead son to return with more money and a gold chain. The priest informed them that they must comply with their son's request, and, if they failed, another death would occur in the family. T. Mohan, MIC Youth Welfare committee chairman, has assisted families who have fallen victim to the priest and complaints have been filed with the police.




Hindu Consultative Council Needed says Samy Vellu


Posted on 2003/7/15 9:44:02 ( 936 reads )

Source

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, July 7, 2003: All Hindu-based organizations should come under an umbrella body to better address issues and resolve problems related to the Hindu community, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu believes. He said such a council was needed to handle problems such as the demolition of haphazardly built and badly managed temples by the authorities, which he said, was currently the Hindu community's biggest bane. "I have raised this matter at the Malaysia Hindu Sangam annual general meeting recently where I proposed a 10-point solution that would ensure better care, management and protection for our temples and religion." Dr. N.S. Rajendran also urged the Government to provide religious classes for non-Muslim pupils in primary as well as secondary schools since religion was an essential ingredient in spiritual development and character building.




Swiss Immigrants Find Refuge In Places Of Worship


Posted on 2003/7/12 9:49:02 ( 1064 reads )

Source

SWITZERLAND, June 6, 2003: Switzerland is home to a diverse mix of religious groups thanks to its large community of immigrants, many of whom go to great lengths to set up their own places of worship. Immigrants often feel their religion is a strong part of their identity and provides a sense of security in a foreign land. According to the most recent census, there are almost 311,000 Muslims and 132,000 orthodox Christians, mostly made up of Serbs, living in Switzerland. These two groups are followed by over 27,000 Hindus and 21,300 Buddhists. Hindus have 16 places of worship in Switzerland. In Adliswil, near Zurich, Switzerland's largest Hindu temple is hidden away in a factory. The resident brahmin priest grew up here and speaks the local Swiss-German dialect. The majority of the Adliswil Hindu community are Sri Lanka Tamil refugees.






India Home to Largest Numbers of Hungry People


Posted on 2003/7/12 9:48:02 ( 808 reads )

Source

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND, July 8, 2003: According to the Human Development Report (HDR) 2003, social indicators that comprise life expectancy, adult literacy, education and per capita income positioned India as number 127 out of 174 countries. Last year, it ranked 124. The reason for the drop: other countries are performing much better than India in tackling basic human needs.



While India continued to build huge buffer stocks of foodgrains, it failed to tackle the central problem of "hunger." In fact, the country has earned the dubious distinction of being home to the largest number of hungry people -- some 233 million, nearly one-third of world's hungry people. China, the country with which India is often compared both in domestic and international circles, has achieved remarkable progress in addressing hunger, so has Sri Lanka through its "food stamp" scheme covering 40 per cent of the population.



India has all along maintained huge buffer stocks since the 1970s to "stave off widespread famine," however the report advised the government to keep food ". . . affordable for poor households, whether through public distribution systems or releases of grain into market." This is something the Indian government has failed to do in recent years.



Tackling hunger problems requires an all-round development in agriculture, particularly a policy orientation that helps the poorest hungry farmers, not the well-fed rich farmers that take away all the benefits of subsidies and easy credit at soft rates, says the HDR. The report underscores the need for "several pro-poor technologies" that could sustain productivity and increase the employment for rural women.



Aside from hunger, India's performance in spreading literacy is far from satisfactory, infant mortality has improved, but sanitation leaves much to be desired. In all, India's progress in achieving social goals is pretty low and not keeping pace with the remarkable strides made in Information Technology and other hi-tech sectors. For the complete Human Development Report 2003, see "source" above.




Airline Vegetarian Meals


Posted on 2003/7/12 9:47:02 ( 859 reads )

Source

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, JULY 2003: Traveling by air and ordering a vegetarian meal can be like playing Russian roulette. You simply don't know what will appear on your tray. Vegetarians who are planning to travel by plane may wonder what vegetarian food choices are available. Vegetarians in Paradise ("source") provides a chart of airlines who serve vegetarian/vegan meals as well as comments by passengers on some vegetarian menus served by the listed airlines. Vegetarians in Paradise is a comprehensive, nonprofit e-zine offering ideas on being a vegetarian, breaking news in the vegetarian world, reviews on vegetarian food companies and their products and much more.




Landslides Halt Mansarovar Yatra


Posted on 2003/7/11 9:49:02 ( 758 reads )

Source

PITHORAGARH, NEPAL, July 11, 2003: The Kailash-Mansarovar yatra came to an abrupt halt on the third day of the pilgrimage on Thursday when landslides blocked the road at Teentola, about 15 km from Dharchula, leaving the pilgrims stranded at Tawaghat, police said. This group is coming from India directly into Tibet, and not via Nepal through which most of the commercial pilgrimages pass on the way to Kailas. Public Works Department personnel were pressed into service to clear the road. The first batch of 16 pilgrims, who had reached Dharchula town on Wednesday, had left by bus for Mangati on Thursday morning. From Mangati, the last motorhead in Pithoragarh district, the pilgrims would start an arduous trek of 200 km to Kailash-Mansarovar in Tibet, officials said.




Indians' First Landing Site in West Indies to Be Restored


Posted on 2003/7/11 9:48:02 ( 753 reads )

Source

PORT-OF-SPAIN, TRINIDAD, July 10, 2003: More than 158 years after the first Indians arrived in Trinidad and Tobago, plans are afoot to restore the island where more than 200,000 indentured Indian laborers were brought to work on sugar plantations. The project, which will be completed in three phases, is expected to cost US$1.8 million, and will reflect the period 1869 to 1917. The restoration work is expected to be finished in 2005. After African slaves were freed by an Act of the British Parliament on August 1, 1838, some 217,000 Indian laborers from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh were brought here by the British from 1845 to 1917 to work on the sugar plantations.




Many Believe Light Skin is Lovely


Posted on 2003/7/11 9:47:02 ( 824 reads )

sfgate.com

NEW DELHI, INDIA, July 5, 2003: The pharmacy clerk pulls a box of skin lightening cream from a glass cabinet, places it on the counter and says it's obvious why he sells so much of it. Women want to be beautiful and the key to that is inside the box, which has a series of drawings showing a woman growing pale to the point of near invisibility. "When a woman is more fair, she is more beautiful," Vishnu Kayat says. Seemingly, much of India agrees. Throughout India images of fair-skinned women are everywhere, especially in the fashion and movie Industry. Even marriage ads are filled with requests for "fair-skinned" brides and families advertising their "fair-skinned" daughter. (Those not so fortunate are of "wheat" complexion, not "dark.") Not surprisingly, sales of skin lighteners bring in more than US$100 million a year.



Not all Indians are comfortable with this celebration of fair skin, however, and the debate over the social divisions of skin tone has spilled into the media and politics. In a nation often tangled in its own cultural contradictions, it's a schizophrenic debate, tied to questions of caste, colonialism and the global media invasion. The result? The past few years have seen both an increase in the use of white women as advertising models -- and an increase in acceptance of dark skin as a sign of beauty. Lightness of skin tone has become a global issue as skin lighteners can be purchased from Tokyo to small towns in central Africa.




Nepal Releases Christians Accused of Missionary Activities


Posted on 2003/7/11 9:46:02 ( 746 reads )

Charisma News Service

KATMANDU, NEPAL, July 11, 2003: A Christian missionary and two local Christians jailed for four months on alleged proselytism charges in Nepal's western region have been released from jail. Earlier this year, they were on their way to visit a Christian family in the Pyuthan District when they were stopped and interrogated by police. After finding Bibles and other Christian literature in their bags, authorities arrested them on charges of "carrying Christian literature, preaching Christianity, and attempting to convert others to Christianity." They did not deny they were Christians throughout the hearing, but did deny ever attempting to force others to become Christians, which is a crime in Nepal. If convicted, they face three to six years in prison. HPI adds: This report from a Christian news service is not entirely accurate. The law against conversion in Nepal is against any conversion, not only those by force and enticement. The law is the country's attempt to protect an ancient way of life from the onslaught of well-funded missionaries. It is routinely flouted by the missionaries and, unfortunately, only haphazardly enforced by the government.




Fiji's Sri Siva Subrahmanya Swami Temple Celebrates 9th Maha Kumbhabhishekam


Posted on 2003/7/11 9:45:02 ( 857 reads )

Source

LAUTOKA, FIJI ISLANDS, July 8, 2003: Then India Sanmarga Ikya Sangam of Nadi, Fiji, has announced the celebration of the 9th Anniversary of Maha Kumbhabhishekam of the Sri Siva Subrahmanya Swami Temple on July 15, 2003, and the opening of new Navagraha Prathista on July 17-20, 2003. Sri K. V. Ravi Gurukal from the Sri Siva Subramanya Temple in Thirutani, India, will be the officiating priest. The Sangam invites all devotees of Lord Muruga to be part of the celebration. For additional information kindly contact Mr. Naidu at "source" above.




Sotheby's Faces Allegations of Selling Stolen Antiquities


Posted on 2003/7/10 9:49:02 ( 732 reads )

Source

LONDON, ENGLAND, July 6, 2003: The arrest of Vaman Ghiya last month by the Indian police on allegations of stealing antiques has sent shock waves through London's antique trade world, and is likely to lead to an investigation of Sotheby's, the British auction house. A six-month investigation by the Indian police, called Operation Blackhole, has identified four more icons listed in Sotheby's catalogues in 1997 and 1999 as having been stolen from the Taneshwar temple, in Udaipur, in the 1960s. Although these were not directly connected with Ghiya, there is documentation that reveals that Sotheby's paid large commissions over the years to questionable art dealers. The evidence against Ghiya is being passed on to Interpol to probe the extent to which the auction house may have been involved. Sotheby's denies it ever knowingly sold stolen antiques. However, in a statement to The Observer, a British newspaper, it admitted to dealing with Ghiya, or companies connected to him in the past, but said they have had no dealings with him in recent years.




Amarnath Yatra Begins in Confusion


Posted on 2003/7/10 9:48:02 ( 892 reads )

Source

JAMMU AND KASHMIR, July 9, 2003: The annual Amarnath pilgrimage got under way Wednesday morning amid confusion and chaos, as the first group of 3,500 devotees left for the Himalayan cave shrine from the Maulana Azad Memorial stadium. Charges of police harassment and protests by the pilgrims delayed the start by over two hours. The discontent against repeated frisking and police highhandedness climaxed in protest demonstrations in the stadium after registered pilgrims were stopped from boarding the buses headed towards Amarnath. Devotees who had come from all over the country complained that there was no arrangement for food and shelter inside the stadium and that there was only one water tap for everyone assembled. Deputy commissioner Pawan Kotwal said the pilgrims were not behaving in a "disciplined fashion and were causing problems." Reacting to the allegations made by the pilgrims, he said they were "making unnecessary demands."



The annual pilgrimage, which lasts over a month, concludes on Sharavn Purnima -- the day Hindus celebrate as Raksha Bandhana, when brothers vow to protect their sisters. The journey to the Amarnath shrine in south Kashmir is arduous and includes a nearly 30-mile trek in the Himalayan heights through glaciers and high passes before reaching the cave.




Andra Government Moves to Take Temple Lands


Posted on 2003/7/10 9:47:02 ( 772 reads )

Source

HYDERABAD, INDIA, July 6, 2003: Because of a public outcry and litigation in the high court, the Andhra Pradesh government has backed off from its demand of US$7,774,202 from Lord Venkateswara shrine at Tirupati, however lesser known temples may not be so lucky. The Naidu government has initiated moves to take away temple lands and distribute them among poorer sections in the name of social justice. According to endowment department sources, around 80 percent of the approximately 27,000 temples have no income other than what they get from the vested lands. And once the lands are taken away, puja in many temples will have to be stopped. The decision to acquire endowment lands was prompted after district collectors reported the unavailability of adequate government land and secondly because of litigation involving available lands. The government had previously acquired temple lands for bus stands and municipal buildings, but has yet to reimburse the endowment department $6,000,000 towards the value of the acquired land.




Puri Temple Gains "Corpus Fund" Through Land Sales


Posted on 2003/7/10 9:46:02 ( 748 reads )

Deccan Chronicle

VISAKHAPATNAM, INDIA, July 7, 2003: The famous Puri Jagannath Swamy Temple will soon have a US$21 million corpus fund. The temple managing committee has decided to sell "unwanted lands" of the temple which are located in Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal. Chairman of the temple managing committee, Gajapathi Maharaja Dibyasingha Deb, told a group of newsmen that the land identification process had been launched and the disposal would begin soon. The $21 million corpus fund would include the amount made through sale of lands, donations collected from the devotees and sponsors, and the regular income the temple makes. These funds will help the temple to meet all its ritual, maintenance and administrative expenses. Presently, the temple is making only around $400,000 per year while expenditures are twice that amount. The State government is presently extending aid to meet the expenses.




Saivite and Vaishnavite Sects May Bathe in Peace at Kumbha Mela


Posted on 2003/7/10 9:45:02 ( 932 reads )

Source

NASHIK, INDIA, July 8, 2003: This Kumbha Mela may witness the coming together of the disciples of Lord Siva and Vishnu. The Saivite mahants are trying to persuade Vaishnavite sadhus to take a holy dip at Trimbakeshwar during the fair to end an age-old feud between the two sects. Mahant Purushottamdasji Maharaj of Anand Akhada of the Saiva sect and chief of the Trimbakeshwar Akhada Parishad Mahant Sagaranandji said Saivite Mahants will request their Vaishnavite counterparts to bathe at Trimbakeshwar. This is the first time such efforts are being made since 1838 when a dispute over rights to bathe first at a kund led to bloodshed. Hundreds were killed on both sides until the then Peshwa ruler intervened. He decided the Saivites would bathe at Trimbakeshwar while the Vaishnavite would bathe at Ram Kund at Nashik, 30 km away.


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