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Hindu Munnani Slams "Baba-Style" Ganesh Icons
Posted on 2002/9/9 23:47:02 ( 673 reads )


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CHENNAI, INDIA, September 10, 2002: The radical group, Hindu Munnani, has asked icon makers not to make statues of Lord Ganesh that show Him wearing a shirt and trousers and not the traditional Indian dhoti. Such icons are popularly called "Baba style" and are selling briskly across Chennai. Munnani claims they would not bring good luck to the buyers. It has been named after the Tamil movie Baba, which features superstar Rajnikanth and was released last month. Hindu Munnani plans to collect icons from various districts and take them to the Rameswaram town for immersion.




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Ganesha Icon Immersion Spells Tension
Posted on 2002/9/9 23:46:02 ( 640 reads )


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HUBLI, INDIA, September 8, 2002: Immersion of Ganesha's icons by devotees after a colorful procession has assumed significance in Hubli-Dharwad for two reasons. One, the processions taking icons for immersion have triggered communal clashes between communities in the past. Two, it is the time of year when water becomes crucial. Devotees are already worried about the final act of immersing their idols to mark the culmination of the 10-day festival. N. K. Galagali, convener of Hubli-Dharwad Maha Ganapathi Mandal said, as per tradition, the icons are usually immersed in water bodies. However, this year, with almost 95% of the lakes and ponds in the city dry, the people are in a quandary. "We may be forced to create an artificial pond for the religious act," said Galagali. An estimated 50,000 clay icons are immersed every year in the city's lake and wells. Environmentalists are concerned with the pollution the icons create as the icons are made of clay, hay, cloth, paper, wood, jute, adhesives and synthetic paints. With two days left for Ganesh Chaturthi, various environmental organizations have requested the Corporation authorities to act fast and set up artificial ponds for immersion of icons to curb pollution.




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Dada J. P. Vaswani Honored as "Hindu of the Year"
Posted on 2002/9/8 23:49:02 ( 680 reads )


Source: Hindu Press International





NEW YORK, NEW YORK, September 5, 2002: At a function here Dada J. P. Vaswani was given the Hindu Renaissance Award 2002 as "Hindu of the Year" by Hinduism Today. The award was presented by Lavina Melwani, senior US correspondent for the magazine. In making the presentation, she said, "I am here today on behalf of Hinduism Today, which is an international magazine reaching more than 100,000 people in 60 countries. Its mission is affirming Sanatana Dharma and recording the modern history of a billion-strong global religion in renaissance. Starting in 1990, Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, Gurudeva, founder of Hinduism Today has honored one eminent Hindu each year who has most impacted the faith and spread its values, compassion and spirituality across the globe. Prior to his Maha Samadhi in November of 2001, Gurudeva wished to acknowledge Dada Vaswani as Hindu of the Year for 2002. I am very honored today on behalf of Hinduism Today to present to Dada this plaque and shawl blessed by Gurudeva's successor, Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami. The plaque reads: 2002 Hindu Renaissance Award Presented by Hinduism Today to Hindu of the Year, 2002, Dada Jashan P. Vaswani, spiritual head of the Sadhu Vaswani Mission in Pune, India, for a lifetime of exemplary preaching of Hindu dharma through his inspired and eloquent oratory, soul-stirring publications and a loving, saintly presence which envelops friend and total stranger alike, effortlessly transcending divisions of race, creed, politics and nationalities." Dada was then presented with the shawl by Dr. Jayaraman, Director of Bharati Vidya Bhavan, on behalf of Hinduism Today. Starting in 1990, Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, Gurudeva, founder of Hinduism Today has honored one eminent Hindu each year who has most impacted the faith and spread its values, compassion and profundity across the globe. Past renaissance winners are: Swami Paramananda Bharati ('90), Swami Chidananda Saraswati, "Muniji" of Parmath Niketan ('91), Swami Chinmayananda ('92), Mata Amritanandamayi Ma ('93), Swami Satchidananda ('94), Pramukhswami Maharaj ('95), Sri Satya Sai Baba ('96), Sri Chinmoy ('97), Swami Bua ('98), Swami Chidananda Saraswati of Divine Life Society ('99), Ma Yoga Shakti ('00) and Sri Sambamurthi Sivachariyar (01). Gurudeva met Dada for the first time in Oxford, April, 1988, at the Global Forum of Spiritual and Parliamentary Leaders on Human Survival. He was very impressed with this humble man who exuded love and spoke so eloquently. In March of this year, Dada visited the Hinduism Today offices in Kauai for the first time. While there, he gave a talk to the monks. He told them to make good use of every minute; to observe silence, to keep a daily appointment with God at least twice a day for 20 minutes; to always think of noble thoughts; always seek the lowest place. He told them that if they are called to perform a task that put them in some position, to do so out of obedience but otherwise always seek the lowest place. Dada explained that eventually one will see a light in the head and that light would begin to illumine you from within and then you would come to the place where you would see God. With an impassioned voice he said that if we could plant such people in places around the world, then perhaps in our "tortured modern world" we will be able to bring some solace to others. Hinduism Today has enjoyed his inspiring books over the years, helped announce his popular calls for a meatless day, and marveled at his tireless travel and eloquent discourses from the heart, carrying Hinduism's primal messages of love and tolerance. Hinduism Today magazine is the inspiration of Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami. In the early 1980s he made several world tours, visiting Mauritius, Sri Lanka, India, South Africa, Malaysia, England and other countries, and speaking to hundreds of thousands of people. He discovered that Hindus in each country were totally unaware of, or did not care, what was happening within the realms of their religion in other places in the world. Out of these tours came the mission of Hinduism Today to strengthen all the many diverse expressions of Hindu spirituality and to give them a single, combined voice because everywhere else their voices were individualized. He commissioned his monks to promote all Hindu denominations in the magazine and to report "everybody's good work." In 2000, he founded the Hindu Press International, a daily e-mail news service reaching thousands. Today Hinduism Today is a world-class, full-color quarterly magazine, reaching more than 100,000 people in 60 countries and has one of the largest Hindu websites in the world, with thousands of visitors a day. "Affirming Sanatana Dharma and recording the modern history of a billion-strong global religion in renaissance" is its mission statement.




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Paris Hindus Celebrate Ganesha Chaturthi
Posted on 2002/9/8 23:48:02 ( 637 reads )


Source: Agence France Presse





PARIS, FRANCE, September 9, 2002: An estimated 5,000 people marched through central Paris on Sunday in celebration of the Hindu festival of Ganesh, the God of wisdom and success, officials said. The festival in Paris of Ganesh, the elephant-headed son of Siva, first started in France in 1995. The mostly Tamil Hindu community in France is estimated at 135,000 people who come from Sri Lanka and India as well as Vietnam, Nepal, Mauritius and Madagascar.




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Hindu Vocabulary Added to Oxford English Dictionary
Posted on 2002/9/8 23:47:02 ( 681 reads )


Source: SIFY News





NEW DELHI, INDIA, August 25, 2002: As Indian culture has become more popular in the United Kingdom, the influx of Indian vocabulary has become more common. Judy Pearsall, editor of the Concise Oxford Dictionary of English, says, "People are reading Indian authors in English more widely than perhaps they have done before." The article says, "The new tenth revised edition of Comprehensive Oxford English Dictionary, launched in India earlier this week, has massed hundreds of words of Indian origin." Among the 600 new Indian English entries are words such as Hindutva (philosophy of a Hindu nation and life), panchayat (village council), puri (flat bread), dosa (also a flat bread) and chai (spiced tea). The 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary was first published in 1884 and about 80% of the 77,000 entries are from British English. The other 20% come from American English, Australia, India and other former British colonies. It is the most authoritative dictionary of the English language.




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Rajiv Malhotra's Latest Column of America's Academics of Hinduism
Posted on 2002/9/8 23:46:02 ( 717 reads )


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September 9, 2002: Excerpt from this very long essay (circa 20,000 words) by Rajiv Malhotra which appears on the Sulekha web site. Rajiv begins by quoting Wendy Doniger, Professor of History of Religions, University of Chicago. Quoted in Philadelphia Inquirer, 19 November, 1999: Prof. Doniger said to the Inquirer, "The Bhagavad Gita is not as nice a book as some Americans think ... Throughout the Mahabharata ... Krishna goads human beings into all sorts of murderous and self-destructive behaviors such as war. ... The Gita is a dishonest book ..." Rajiv then continues his introduction: "In my previous Sulekha column, I pointed out that whereas elite colleges in the West teach great respect for Greek and other Western Classics as being the bedrock of their civilization, it has become fashionable for elitist (i.e. Westernized) Indians to denigrate their own Indian Classics. Furthermore, these Indians see their education in Western literature as validating their Western identity (falsely equating modernization with Westernization), and go out of their way in putting down their Indian heritage. The present essay deals with yet another important discipline, namely, Religious Studies, which is growing rapidly in the US and in many other countries. Unfortunately, this is not so in India, where a peculiar brand of "secularism" has prevented academic Religious Studies from entering the education system in a serious manner. Therefore, most Indians do not have the necessary competence in this academic field to be able to understand how it differs from both (i) religious instruction that one expects to find in a temple, church or mosque, and (ii) political or popular ideological depictions of religion in the media. ... This essay's thrust revolves around the portrayal of India's religions in the West. Being unable to appreciate how and why academic Religious Studies is different from other activities that might appear similar, most Indians are ignorant of the abuses being caused in the West as a result of (a) the negative stereotyping of Indic traditions, and (b) the misappropriation from Indic traditions while erasing the sources."




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Helpers Sought for Information Gathering Project
Posted on 2002/9/8 23:45:02 ( 714 reads )


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PUNE, INDIA, September 9, 2002: Prof. G. C. Asnani sends the following request: "We are looking for part-time teachers, students and housewives worldwide, to help us in locating and where possible, themselves providing, through e-mail system, world-wide information on current affairs, recent advances in different branches of science, fine arts, technology, history, Sanskrit, yoga, health, vedic mathematics, climate, environment, Art and science of maintaining a happy home, home-crafts, teaching aids including pictorial animation, sports, etc. Information should be particularly suitable for inspiring young minds including students at various stages. Interested persons may kindly write by e-mail to source above."




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VHP Activists Lay Siege To Ranchi Station
Posted on 2002/9/7 23:49:02 ( 693 reads )


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RANCHI, INDIA, September 2, 2002: Hindu organizations led by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal, Shiv Sena and dozens of local temple committees today disrupted rail traffic, smashed vehicles, beat up shop-keepers and enforced a strict bandh (general strike) in protest against the Jharkhand High Court's orders to either demolish the Hanuman temple in front of the Ranchi railway station or to relocate it. VHP leader Pramod Kumar Mishra told The Telegraph that irrespective of the consequences, they would not allow the Ranchi station temple to be shifted. Mishra said the district administration was free to demolish the temple, though they would never agree for another location for the temple, which has been in existence for over 25 years at the place.




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Hindu Youth Forum Held In California
Posted on 2002/9/7 23:48:02 ( 684 reads )


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NORWALK, CALIFORNIA, September 5, 2002: The Hindu Youth Forum of Southern California successfully organized their first ever Hindu Youth Conference on August 24 at Sanatana Dharma Mandir at Norwalk. This is the first time a conference of its kind held where all the activities were planned and executed by teenagers of the youth forum. A total of thirty southern California youth gathered and discussed issues affecting them. The paper/essay writing covered topics such as Hindu brotherhood, rituals and symbols in Hinduism, being a Hindu in American high school and college. Winners were Niyati Gupta, Rohan Gupta and Amogh Havanur. For more details on the activities of Hindu Youth Forum, contact e-mail source above




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India Considers World Trade Center Steel Scrap Inauspicious
Posted on 2002/9/7 23:47:02 ( 712 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, September 4, 2002: Indians are shying away from World Trade Center scrap steel shipped to the country to be recycled, afraid its history makes it "inauspicious." But it may be more than that -- it may be lethal. Critics say India has become the developed world's dumping ground, rapidly poisoning itself and its billion-plus people with toxins from both the waste and the pollution from the sometimes dangerous methods used to recycle it. The world's second-most populous country combines low wages, lax environmental laws and a huge domestic market for the recycled products, says Suneel Pandey, a researcher with the Tata Research Energy Institute. About 70,000 tons of scrap steel from the World Trade Center was shipped to India before it was stopped by objections from environmentalists and unions, says Greenpeace India. Greenpeace says the scrap is contaminated by asbestos, polychlorinated biphenyls, plastics and the lead, mercury and other contaminants in the computers and fittings inside the twin towers destroyed last year. A preliminary study in India found no toxins, but Greenpeace and other environmental groups question the study's accuracy. Indian scrap dealers are now having trouble selling the WTC steel for other reasons. "People are having some reservations. It's a sentimental matter," said O. P. Bajpai, an adviser to the Indian Steel Alliance lobby group. "In India, it's a matter of belief," he said, refusing to comment on other issues about the WTC scrap.




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Opulent Indian Wedding Dazzles Europe
Posted on 2002/9/4 23:49:02 ( 656 reads )


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BELGIUM, EUROPE, September 4, 2002: A US$15.6 million Indian wedding in Belgium has hit headlines in Europe for setting a new benchmark for "opulence and innovation." For a few days, Antwerp became a Bollywood fantasy for the double wedding of Vishal and Priya Shah, son and daughter of Vijay Shah, one of the biggest diamond dealers in the world, and brother of Bollywood producer Bharat Shah. Bollywood set designer Nitin Desai transformed an entire exhibition building, Nekkerhal, into a Rajasthani palace 1,000 feet long, 300 feet wide and 60 feet tall. The fiberglass moulding took 250 workers six weeks to make at Film City in Mumbai. The food was strictly vegetarian, but guests had a choice of Chinese, Italian, Lebanese and Indian. "Vijay Shah basically gave me a free hand," Desai told the Daily Telegraph. "He told me, 'We want the best.' "




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Gurukul Houses Archery Academy
Posted on 2002/9/4 23:48:02 ( 843 reads )


Source: Hindustan Times





MEERUT, INDIA, August 28, 2002: Gurukul Prabhat Ashram, Gram Tikri, is the surprising home of an archery academy. About 40 to 50 miles outside of New Delhi, past the city of Meerut, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, dozens of barefoot young boys clad in yellow, chatter away in Sanskrit. Some of these boys also train six hours a day at the archery academy housed in the Gurukul (a traditional school). They live, study and train according to old Gurukul traditions and are convinced that the lifestyle will give them the focus required to bring home the medals. Their philosophy is that the future of Indian sport lies in an ancient past. "The Army, SAI and others are convinced they can get an Olympic medal, so we can at least dream in that direction," says Ajay Gupta, who runs the UP Archery Association. The idea for an archery academy came about in 1994, during a chance discussion on India's dismal performance in the 1992 Olympics. "My brother, the late Subhash Gupta, was talking to Swami Vivekanand Saraswati, who runs the Gurukul, and we wondered if we could do our bit for Indian sport," recalls Gupta. "Swamiji offered the Gurukul land and we decided that we could try and tackle archery, in keeping with tradition." Three of the four members of India's current Asian Games team trained at the academy. Students at the academy are trained in both the traditional Indian method (using native wooden bows) for national events and with foreign equipment for advanced competition.




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India's National Green Corps Appeal for Ganesha's Without Color
Posted on 2002/9/4 23:47:02 ( 584 reads )


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HYDERABAD, INDIA, September 2, 2002: National Green Corps, comprising school children, along with the Andra Pradesh Pollution Control Board have urged people to make Ganesha icons only with clay and not from other materials such as plaster of Paris. They also asked people to not to install Ganesha icons painted with colors nor to immerse the Ganesha icons after the festivities in infiltration tanks, rivers, lakes and seas. In a statement, the NGC and the APPCB said that the colors used to paint the icons contain heavy metals like mercury, lead, cadmium and arsenic. "They pollute our water bodies, so please do not use colored icons of Lord Ganesha," they said. Lead paint, long banned in Western countries, is still used in India.




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Churches, Local Governments Clash Over Zoning
Posted on 2002/9/4 23:46:02 ( 612 reads )


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SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA, September 4, 2002: A growing number of churches and other religious institutions are utilizing a two-year-old civil rights law to fight local government officials over zoning disputes. The churches claim the zoning laws are being used to violate their religious freedoms. The Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) filed an appeal last week with the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in an effort to reverse a decision by a lower federal court that prevented a California Christian college from moving its campus from San Jose to Morgan Hill. "If we prevail, we'll be establishing new case law for churches and using RLUIPA -- the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act -- to set them apart from some of these onerous requirements that ... create a substantial burden on their ability to grow as they feel called," said Brad Dacus, president and chief counsel of the PJI. The PJI took up the case against the city of Morgan Hill after city officials told San Jose Christian College that it could not move its growing student body to the site of a defunct hospital it had purchased in 2000. Although a deed restriction barred the use of the facility as a hospital, the city council "voted to deny a zoning change from hospital use to educational use," according to a website run by the college. The website also states the city council reached its decision despite a city-funded study that had concluded Morgan Hill would not need a hospital for another ten to 15 years. RLUIPA imparts important rights to all religious institutions in America, including Hindu temples, and should be thoroughly understood by temple committees.




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Plans to Make Malaysia's Batu Caves An International Tourist Destination
Posted on 2002/9/3 23:49:02 ( 612 reads )


Source: New Straits Times





BATU CAVES, MALAYSIA, August 26, 2002: The natural and cultural attractions of Batu Caves will be enhanced to make the place an international tourist destination, Culture, Arts and Tourism Minister Datuk Paduka Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir said today. With its caves, tunnels, streams and a Hindu temple which attracted millions of devotees and tourists each year, Batu Caves was a strategic place with plenty of tourism potential, he said. "Nearly 2,000 visitors, both local and foreign, come here each day," he said. "A concerted effort must be made to develop Batu Caves further." For a start, he said, lights would be strung up around the area and sign-boards explaining the history of the caves put up. He said the temple committee and Selayang Municipal Council had agreed. "Earlier today, I discussed this with them and they agreed that more should be done to make Batu Caves an international tourist attraction." Batu Caves is also known for attracting nature lovers and sportsmen. Its steep limestone faces are a favorite among rock-climbers. Cave exploration and guided tours are conducted by the Malaysian Nature Society for the Dark Cave, which is below the main temple cave. The entire Batu Cave system is said to have 30 caves and is about 150 million years old.




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