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Plan to Develop Shrine to Planet Saturn in Thirunallar


Posted on 2003/9/29 9:47:02 ( 1005 reads )

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CHENNAI, INDIA, September 27, 2003: The central government is studying the possibility of promoting the small temple town of Thirunallar, where there is a shrine of Lord Saneeswarar (Saturn), as a heritage site. Minister for Tourism and Culture Jagmohan will visit Karaikal, the small enclave near the union territory of Pondicherry on the Bay of Bengal, to assess the site in October. Pondicherry's Education and Tourism Minister, Kv. Lakshminarayanan, told a press conference Friday evening that a high-level committee of the territory's tourism department has urged the central government to provide US$2,000,000 to Pondicherry to help promote Thirunallar. Hindus from all over the world visit the shrine during Sani Peyarchi, an astrological event when Saturn moves from one planetary position to another every two and a half years. "Not less than 200,000 pilgrims visit the temple every Saturday and a Yatri Niwas (pilgrims' hostel) and other facilities are necessary," the minister said.




Politeness Leads To Heart Trouble


Posted on 2003/9/29 9:46:02 ( 820 reads )

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LONDON, ENGLAND, September 29, 2003: Experts have warned that the cultural trait among Asians of eating out of politeness everything that is served to them and not refusing seconds (and thirds!) is contributing to the already high levels of risk of coronary heart disease within the community in Britain. According to John Lawson of the University of Huddersfield, numerous studies carried out in the UK and in India and Pakistan tend to show that there is a higher risk of coronary heart disease and truncal obesity -- that is obesity around the middle portion of the body -- in Asian men. The fat tends to form around the stomach, which is a much riskier form of obesity, he told Eastern Eye. Sarah Delanie, a nurse from Coventry came to similar conclusions in a four-year study with Asian patients.There is a 40 percent higher risk in Asian men from coronary heart disease she said. "Generally," she said, "all of my patients felt that there was social pressure to eat all the food offered. To turn down food was disrespectful and rude. So they eat the food as a sign of appreciation even if they knew it was not going to benefit them."




Meteorite Strikes Orissa Village


Posted on 2003/9/29 9:45:02 ( 896 reads )

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BHUBANESWAR, INDIA, September 28, 2003: Two people have been injured and several homes badly damaged by a meteorite crashing into a village in the coastal state of Orissa. The fiery object crashed to earth shortly after sunset. Witnesses reported a bright fireball briefly lighting up the night sky and causing panic among local residents, the PTI report said. Reports from several districts described an ear-splitting noise that shattered several windows as the object sped overhead. At least one part of the fireball came down in a village in Mayurbhanj district in Orissa, setting several homes alight and lightly injuring at least two people. The report said other parts of the meteorite may have crashed into another village, also setting at least one thatched house ablaze. Officials in the area have been asked to collect any remaining samples of the object for scientific analysis. Two five-kilogram pieces have been recovered.




Correction: Youth in the United Kingdom Gather to Celebrate Their Hindu Identity


Posted on 2003/9/29 9:44:02 ( 927 reads )

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KAUAI, HAWAII, September 29, 2003: This article which ran yesterday in HPI was actually from 2002 points out the event's organizer, Bhavit Mehta. Bhavit said, however, they "have been involved in something even bigger this year! -- Diwali celebrations at Trafalgar Square (the center of London)." We look forward to a report.




Youth in the United Kingdom Gather to Celebrate Their Hindu Identity


Posted on 2003/9/28 9:49:02 ( 868 reads )

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PRESTON, UNITED KINGDOM, September 17, 2003: Gathering together to celebrate their culture, faith, and identity, 3,000 Hindu youth participated in the "Get Connected" Hindu Youth Festival 2002. Every aspect of the event was a reflection of Hindu culture in some way, from the grand opening paying respects to Lord Ganesha to the greeting of guests by offering a sweet and kunkuna powder for the forehead. In the main hall, a Hindu priest explained the traditional Hindu marriage ceremony, young ladies were taught how to properly sport a sari and experts explained the science of Vaastu Shastra, the Hindu equivalent of Feng Shui. Young children were able to participate in games and coloring contests depicting Hindu epics. A special hall was set aside for speakers and debates about the origin of the Vedas, meditation, yoga and more. Prime Minister Tony Blair commented about the event, "This event provides young British Hindus with an important opportunity to explore their culture and their faith. It will provide a useful forum for participants to address the key issues facing young Hindus in Britain today. Events like yours play an important role in helping us to appreciate and celebrate this diversity and I wish you every success." Kailash Parekh, one of the coordinators of the event said, " 'Get Connected' provides a unique platform for youth of all backgrounds to voice their opinion on issues and challenges of common concern. The event has been an opportunity to discuss what it means to be a young Hindu in Britain today." Jayesh Ashra, a youth in attendance, summed up the spirit of it all, "Today has been fantastic fun and served as an inspiration for me to discover more about my faith, so that I am able to share it with the rest of the world, in a more informed way."




Mata Amritanandamayi's Birthday Celebrations Conclude


Posted on 2003/9/28 9:48:02 ( 870 reads )

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KOCHI, INDIA, September 27, 2003: Curtains came down on the four-day birthday celebrations of Mata Amritanandamayi with several social service and charitable programmes being announced as the spiritual leader turned 50 today. Speaking at the valedictory of the celebrations, Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat applauded the humanitarian programmes and projects successfully launched by her. An all-India free legal cell comprising 1,008 lawyers was formed to serve the needy while keys of houses built as part of the Amritanandamayi Matt's "Amritakutterpam" project to build one hundred thousand free houses for the destitute and homeless throughout the country were handed over to the beneficiaries. A new care home for the elderly and a charitable hospital for tribals were also opened. Amma also solemnized the marriage of 158 destitute couples. From President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, Shekhawat, Deputy Prime Minister L. K. Advani and HRD Minister Murli Manohar Joshi to top business leaders like S. P. Hinduja, Sabeer Bhatia, Kanwal Reikhi and former American Senator, Larry Pressler, Hollywood actress Linda Evans were all here to participate in various functions in the last four days as also devotees from 191 countries. The highlight of the celebrations was the CEO meet held on Friday in which Kalam participated. Over 150 business leaders from India and abroad attended the meet which laid great stress on reaching education to all. As part of the celebrations, an inter-faith meeting was held in which spiritual and religious leaders from around the world came together to discuss and endorse resolutions and create a platform to foster healthy dialogue between faiths and religions. A women's summit resolved to fight the harmful social customs like dowry, female feticide and infanticide and promote awareness of the quality of motherhood. For complete coverage of the event, go to Ammaji's website here.




Indian Minister Attends Global Summit on Medicinal Plants in Mauritius


Posted on 2003/9/28 9:47:02 ( 804 reads )

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SRINAGAR, INDIA, September 27, 2003: Minister for Health and Medical Education, Ch. Lal Singh attended the Global Summit on Medicinal Plants in Mauritius. More than one hundred participants from all over the world were present on the inaugural function. Speeches by the dignitaries of the different countries delivered on the different aspects of the medicinal plants and showed their keen interest to develop Ayurveda in their respective countries. They shared the knowledge with each other regarding prospects of Ayurveda medicines. In the inaugural speech, Ch. Lal Singh spoke about the concept of Ayurveda and said that India is the basic source of Ayurveda sciences. He reminded the gathering that Ayurveda is a science of God and it was Bhardwaj Rishi who brought this system of medicine on the Earth from Brahma. The Minister also discussed contractual farming with the top officials of Mauritius Government. Mauritius is having a very little source of Ayurveda plants, and Mr. Singh put a proposal to the Mauritius Government for contractual farming and other related matters in this field. He also held a meeting with the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and other Ministers of Mauritius Government to explore avenues in different fields like employment, sending students in various colleges for engineering and medical education and exchange of artists.




Malaysian Hindus are Advocates for Peace


Posted on 2003/9/28 9:46:02 ( 839 reads )

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KUALA LUMPAR, MALAYSIA, September 23, 2003: Seeking peace and harmony, Hindus in Malaysia have worked with their communities and the government to establish harmonious relationships. Dato Samy Vellu, Malaysia India Congress president, spoke at the World Hindu Peace Pilgrimage and said, "The government recognizes each religion's existence as part of the religious mosaic of the country and had allowed people of all religions equal rights and freedom of worship." Vellu gave praise to the Malaysian Hindu Sangam for working closely with the government to alleviate problems related to places of worship. He also elaborated that Hinduism embraces peace but it is a challenge to maintain this concept internally and in the world.




Request for Magazine Coverage of Hindu Girl's Coming of Age Ceremony


Posted on 2003/9/28 9:45:02 ( 839 reads )

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK, September 27, 2003: HPI has received the following request: "A national magazine for teenage girls, ym, is working on an article about different coming-of-age ceremonies that American girls participate in. So far we will be featuring an Apache ceremony, a bar mitzva and a quinceanera. One of the rites of passage we are most interested in, however, is the Ritu Kala ceremony for Hindu girls when they reach maturity and are presented their first sari. We are in search of a girl who will be having such an event sometime by mid-October (however, we might be flexible on our deadline) and who would be interested in being photographed and interviewed for ym. This will be a photo-driven article with deep captions and we are fortunate enough to be working with Sylvia Plachy, a very well respected photographer on this project, so the art is sure to be stunning. To participate or for more information, please contact Paisley Strellis, 'source' above, or call 646-758-0429." Readers can visit the ym (it's lower case) website here.




Obesity, Graveyards and Cremation


Posted on 2003/9/28 9:44:02 ( 860 reads )

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK, September 28, 2003: If you're obese and think your problems end when you die, think again, suggests this article in the New York Times. Like the airline industry, the article says, which was warned in May that passengers were heavier than they used to be, and was asked to adjust weight estimates accordingly, the funeral industry is retooling to make room for ever-larger Americans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 20 percent of American adults are obese, up from 12.5 percent in 1991. Of those 70 and older -- the demographic that most interests the funeral industry -- 17 percent are obese. Despite the numbers, nearly every aspect of the funeral industry, from the size of coffins to vaults, graves, hearses and even the standardized scoop on the front-end loaders that cemeteries use for grave-digging (it is called a "grave bucket") is based on outdated estimates about individual size. "Many people in this country no longer fit in the standard-size casket," said David A. Hazelett, the president of Astral Industries, a coffin builder in Indiana. "The standard-size casket is meant to go in the standard-size vault, and the standard-size vault is meant to go into the standard-size cemetery plot. Everyone in the industry is aware of the problem." The Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx recently increased its standard burial plot size to four feet wide from three feet to accommodate wider burial vaults, and the cemetery's newest mausoleum has four crypts designed especially to hold oversize coffins. The Cremation Association of North America has begun providing special training to its members in the handling of obese bodies. For those who can't afford the cost of larger plots and coffins, cremation is an option, but most crematorium can't handle bodies over 500 pounds.




Navaratri Celebrations in the U.K.


Posted on 2003/9/27 9:49:02 ( 941 reads )

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COVENTRY, U.K, September 24, 2003: Hindus in Coventry, U.K., are gearing up for Navaratri, the annual nine-day festival, which begins on Friday. The festival marks the celebration of goodness conquering evil. The nine nights of Navaratri are dedicated to three Hindu Goddesses: Lakshmi, Paravati and Saraswati and include worship, dance and music. Venues in Coventry which celebrate the festival each year include Shri Krishna Temple, Harnall Lane West, Mercia Park Leisure and Community Centre, Sidney Stringer School and the Hindu temple in Foleshill Road. Gordhanbhai Chhaya, 75, who has lived in Coventry for more than three decades, said: "Navaratri is a festival eagerly awaited each year by all Hindus. It is an opportunity to meet, greet and rekindle any weakened bonds. It's a marvellous congregation of both the young and old."




Mumbai Court Sets Decibel Limit for Navaratri


Posted on 2003/9/27 9:48:02 ( 887 reads )

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MUMBAI, INDIA, September 24, 2003: The Mumbai High Court has given an interim order to curb noise pollution during Navaratri, following a Public Interest Litigation. According to the interim ruling, noise levels should not cross 45 decibels after 10 p.m. (IST). But the state government has extended the permission for loudspeakers till midnight for the three days of the festival. Though the court still insists that even for those days the decibel levels should not go beyond the set limit. Not everyone is happy with the ruling. "There is noise always at the airports with flights taking off and landing. Why target Navaratri, which only lasts for nine days?" said Preeti, a singer. According to a Supreme Court verdict given two years ago, loud speakers can be used till midnight for 15 days in a year. And for Navaratri the state has extended the deadline on September 27, and October 1 and 2.




Amma Arrives for 50th Birthday Celebration


Posted on 2003/9/27 9:47:02 ( 1096 reads )

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KOCHI, INDIA, September 24, 2003: Kochi is closed on Tuesday for a special election, but a visitor may easily think it is part of the celebration honoring Mata Amritanandamayi's 50th birthday instead. Amma was named "Hindu of the Year" by Hinduism Today in 1993 and represented Hinduism at the 1993 Parliament of the World Religions in Chicago and again at the Conference of World Spiritual and Religious Leaders held at the UN in 2000.



All along the roadways are huge posters of Amma's birthday and steady streams of people head for the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium in Kavaloor. "We expect at least 500,000 visitors during this four-day fest," says Swami Dhyanamrita, a member of Amma's inner circle of devotee-managers. At least a dozen media teams have registered from Berlin, Paris, USA, England and even Ireland. As Amma arrives, Swami Abhayamrita Chaitanya, the head swami of all Amma operations in this birthday mela, says: "These 96 hours are packed minute to minute so that we have barely allowed Amma an hour of rest." The program is indeed a huge endorsement-action plan. Actress Linda Evans, US Senator Larry Pressler and Martin Luther King's daughter Yolanda will arrive for a special interactive session. President Kalam will address a two-day workshop of international CEOs, on "Making India Economically Secure and Spiritually Strong."




Elephant Conference Turns To Religion And Culture For Conservation


Posted on 2003/9/27 9:46:02 ( 835 reads )

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COLOMBO, SRI LANKA, September 25, 2003: Elephant experts here have turned to Asia's reverence of the beasts to push conservation amid calls for a cull to tackle growing wild jumbo populations in Africa. Ian Douglas-Hamilton, an authority on African elephants said religious and cultural practices in Asia shows the peaceful coexistence between people and elephants amid increasing pressure on habitats. He is fascinated by the place elephants have in religion in some Asian countries and in the Hindu and Buddhist cultures. He said that the battle for space should not result in the elephants losing out as their survival was linked to human existence. "If we don't leave enough space for elephants, we will eventually not leave enough space for ourselves," he said after opening a symposium on "Human-Elephant Relationships and Conflicts." Papers presented at the meeting suggested allowing tourists to hunt wild elephants in Africa to maintain its woody vegetation and use the proceeds to conserve elephants elsewhere. Most experts here opposed the idea. African elephants are found in 34 countries while in Asia only 13 countries have wild herds. Douglas-Hamilton argued that conservationists should ensure there is no conflict like the rapid invasion of elephant habitats by man in the decade of the 90s and up 'til today. In Sri Lanka, the battle between government forces and Tamil Tiger rebels has taken its toll on wild elephants. The Biodiversity and Elephant Conservation Trust based here, a co-organiser of the symposium, said an estimated 200 to 300 wild elephants had been displaced by the war. The Tamil Tiger rebels had in the early stages of the war spared wild elephants, but when the animals stormed jungle bases in search of food and water, and drank up the entire supply of water the rebels had for a week, they started shooting the elephants when firing in the air failed. Land mines were also the cause of agonizing deaths after having their trunks and legs blown off by anti-personnel mines. Elephants are considered a sacred animal in Sri Lanka and elsewhere in the Buddhist world. Elephants are also revered by Hindus who use caparisoned pachyderms at temple pageants.




Top Tennis Players Pray for World Peace at Bali Hindu Temple


Posted on 2003/9/27 9:45:02 ( 806 reads )

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BALI, INDONESIA, September 12, 2003: Three world top rank tennis players took time from their busy schedules on Thursday, September 11, to visit the Taman Temple of Grand Hyatt Hotel Nusa Dua to say a prayer for world peace. Tamarine Tanasugarn of Thailand, Elena Dementieva of Russia and Barbara Schett of Austria, are competing in a tennis tournament of Wismilak International WTA Tour 2003, which is being held in the Grand Hyatt Nusa Dua from September 6 to 14. Elena Dementieva, the Russian tennis player, said that this is her first visit to Bali, and she feels glad that she can attend a Balinese ritual. She also expressed her happiness to dress in Balinese style, while through the prayer, she wishes for world peace. There are two temples in the Grand Hyatt Hotel Nusa Dua--Taman Temple which is located in the middle of the resort, and Segara Natha Temple which was built before the resort. Occasionally, these temples are visited by the Hindu people for a mass prayer.


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