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The English Language and India's Social Structure

Posted on 2003/10/19 8:44:02 ( 824 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 ( 819 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 ( 1012 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."

Karva Chauth Fast Popular Even with Teens

Posted on 2003/10/16 8:49:02 ( 1211 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, October 15, 2003: Hinduism Today correspondent Rajiv Malik reports from Delhi, "On Karva Chauth day, which was observed in North India on October 13 and 14, tens of millions of women keep a fast, taking neither food nor water, for the well being and long life of their husbands. The prominent government minister, Mrs. Sushma Swaraj, dressed in a red colored saree as a newly-wed married lady, which most of the women do on this day, was seen performing traditional Karva Chauth puja with over five hundred women in West Delhi. This was shown on the Aajtak Channel, a very popular news channel of India Today Group, and the channel also kept monitoring the appearance of the moon throughout the evening. Only after seeing the moon do the women break their day-long fast in the evening/night. Normally women go out of their houses and on their roof tops to see if the moon is up yet. But in this case, for the first time Aaajtak Channel kept monitoring whether moon can be sighted or not on a special television set which was kept behind the news anchor." He also sent the report which appears at "source" above and reads: "The saas-bahu (mother-in-law vs. daughter-in-law) soaps have finally taken their toll on impressionable minds of GenNow ("Generation Now," we think). The 'I, Me, Myself' generation now celebrates the 'My Family' spirit, with Karva Chauth having become a cool fad among teenagers. Ultra-hip 17-year-olds observed a Karva Chauth fast on Tuesday, so what if traditionally it's a north Indian custom where married women keep off food and water for the long lives of their husbands. For some of these youngsters it's a trend, for others it's pure devotion, and there are still others like Akanksha Channan for whom it's just fun giving company to her mother who observes the fast. 'It's more like curiosity for me, to find out what it's like to observe a fast,' says Akanksha, a first-year Sociology student at Sri Venkateshwara College. Anu Chib, a first-year B.A. (Pass) student at DCAC finds it thrilling to compete with friends, testing the will power to fast for an entire day. 'It's fun testing our endurance levels. Plus, it isn't a bad practice at all -- I'm fasting for my future husband after all,' she says with a laugh. Prajwal Bhalla, first-year English student at Venky is more serious about the ritual: 'I'm fasting for my boyfriend, my future hubby. I've been doing it for sometime now. I don't think observing a Karva Chauth fast is a backward notion, and it's not that I have to adorn an Indian dress for the occasion.' In fact, we spotted Prajwal partying away with friends (sans food, drinks or water, of course) in the evening. As the GenNow believes, it's the spirit that really counts."

Trinidad's Divali Nagar Underway

Posted on 2003/10/16 8:48:02 ( 895 reads )

Paras Ramoutar

TRINIDAD, October 15, 2003: An acclaimed folk group from the state of Rajasthan, India, will provide nightly performances at the 17th annual Divali Nagar for one week, from today. The group will perform at the Divali Nagar Centre, Endeavour Road, Chaguanas, until Thursday, October 23. Additionally, a pictorial exhibition on the theme of the child is being researched and produced in Mumbai, India for the Divali Nagar. "The Child, Shall We Rock Or Wreck the Cradle" is the theme for this year's observance of Divali Nagar, according to Deokienanan Sharma, president of the National Council of Indian Culture (NCIC). An estimated 100,000 patrons are expected to visit the festival.

Chaguanas Mayor Dr. Surujrattan Rambachan officiated at a seven-night Ramayan Yagna last week as a prelude to the actual Divali Nagar celebrations. Dr. Rambachan's focus was on "The Child and Good Parenting" and was based on the teachings of the Ramayana and other Hindu texts. Among other features at the Nagar are a food fair of East Indian vegetarian delicacies and non-Indian vegetarian foods; a folk theatre featuring local groups with presentations of songs, dances, poetry, skits and drama; participation of more than 20 religious and social groups; and Youth Training and Employment Partnership Programme personnel interacting with visitors. Lakshmi Puja will be performed tonight and every night afterwards. Organizers are also encouraging school visits and children's programme during the day and the nightly lighting of deyas (oil lamps); a commercial area where business houses will display and sell their products; and, a spectacular fireworks display as a grand finale to the Festival.

Three Thousand in Singapore Perform Fire Walk

Posted on 2003/10/16 8:47:02 ( 815 reads )


SINGAPORE, October 16, 2003: About 3,200 men made the ceremonial dash across a pit of hot coals at Sri Mariamman Temple yesterday, as part of the annual Hindu festival of Thimithi. The fire-walking festival has been held at the South Bridge Road temple since 1840. It is celebrated before Deepavali, which falls on October 24 this year. Hindus cross the coal pit as penance or to give thanks to the Goddesses Sri Mariamman and Sri Drowpathai Amman. The ritual started at 2am yesterday, when the devotees started the hour-long trek from Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple in Serangoon Road to South Bridge Road. Only men are allowed to perform the ceremony. Devotees fast beforehand in preparation and, in the week leading up to the walk, perform other acts of penance, including prostrating themselves and rolling around the temple. About 5,000 people watched the fire-walking ceremony yesterday.

Mass Arrests in North India Over Ayodhya Rally

Posted on 2003/10/16 8:46:02 ( 798 reads )


AYODHYA, INDIA, October 16, 2003: Police in northern India continue to arrest thousands of Hindu activists even as efforts are under way to defuse tensions over their plan to rally near a controversial religious site, states this BBC article. The activists, who belong to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), are heading to Ayodhya, as part of a campaign to build a temple on the ruins of a destroyed mosque (which itself was originally built after the destruction of a huge temple marking the site of Lord Rama's birth). On Wednesday, police arrested VHP vice-president Giriraj Kishore in the northern city of Lucknow while he was leading a procession of nearly 500 activists. The police say they have arrested 43,000 people from different parts of the state as a preventive measure. The VHP wants to hold a rally at a nearby camp and then offer prayers at a makeshift temple built at the site. Heavy security is in place in Ayodhya, with thousands of special police units deployed along with regular forces. "They [the Hindu activists] will not be allowed to step outside [on Friday]," the state's top administrative officer, A.P. Singh, said.

Bali Memorial

Posted on 2003/10/16 8:45:02 ( 1065 reads )

AAP Newsfeed

BALI INDONESIA, October 12, 2003: On a mountaintop in Bali, the grieving and injured found some solace today from the horror of the Bali bombings that killed 202 people, 88 of them Australian, a year ago today. For the 550 Australian survivors and family and friends of the dead, it was a time for both private mourning and tribal solidarity. The commemoration service was carried out in a harmonious fusion of beliefs and cultures. While it was a predominantly Australian affair, there were no exclusive national rights to grief at today's memorial service at Jimbaran. Men and women from 22 counties were killed and their compatriots -- from New Zealand to Denmark, from Brazil to South Korea -- came up the mountain to remember them. Twenty-two candles were lit in a remembrance pool. The setting was a vast Hindu temple hewn from a limestone escarpment and semi-enclosed by huge 82-feet-high rock walls. Towering above the space, which accommodated a crowd of more than 2,000, was a bronze eagle, or Garuda, and to its right an equally dominant Vishnu. The commemoration service, which was largely tailored to the wishes of the Australian families, was predominantly Christian, with acknowledgments to Hindu Bali and Muslim Indonesia. A major theme was unity in diversity through shared loss. This was put eloquently by Indonesia's Political Affairs and Security Minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyone. In an echo of Kemal Ataturk's famous elegy to the Allied fallen at Gallipoli (a huge World War I military disaster for the Australians), he said: "Never mind their nationality or race, they are our brothers and sisters." He also read from the Koran. Ross Tysoe, who was Australian Consul-General in Bali when the bombers struck, read out the 199 known names. It took 14 minutes. The families walked from the temple area to a reception past a wall bearing the photos of all the dead.

Pakistan Hindus Celebrate Festival

Posted on 2003/10/16 8:44:02 ( 878 reads )

The Pakistan Newswire

KARACHI, PAKISTAN, October 9, 2003: The following report appeared on the Pakistan Newswire, which is essentially the government voice. "Sindh Minister for Excise and Taxation Rauf Siddiqui has said that it was the duty of every Muslim including rulers in Muslim countries to safeguard rights of minorities. He was addressing at a concluding ceremony of 295th year Sundrani Darbar celebration at Sanat Govindram of Hindus at Hayat Pitafi, some 50-km from Ghotki. The minister observed that no religion allows any one for bloodshed and ravaging and setting fire on property of people. He added purpose of worship is to make society peaceful with esteemed morality, brotherhood and love. He recalled that philosophy of Hindu religion repeatedly advised its followers that Eshore (God) lives in Barhamans, Khitris, Shoodars and in other low casts and termed it worst kind tyranny to make injustice with them. Zonal Organizer MQM Rana Irshad, Karori Lal, Director Excise Sukkur Abdul Hye Dhamar, DCO Hidayatullah Rajpar and DPO Aftab Alam were present."

Texas School Article Clarification

Posted on 2003/10/16 8:43:02 ( 845 reads )


KAUAI, HAWAII, October 16, 2003: Arun Venugopal of India Abroad points out that yesterday's article on Hinduism in American schools by Trisha Pasricha, age 14, was originally published in India Abroad. He says he was "amazed by the author's writing skill."

Mass Consumption Woos India's Middle Classes

Posted on 2003/10/15 8:49:02 ( 911 reads )


INDIA, October 7, 2003: The annual Hindu festival season feels more like a trade fair this year than a holy event says this article. With declining interest rates and a booming stock market, India's middle classes are consuming on a scale and in a style that is unprecedented. In the past 12 months, the number of mobile phones in India has almost tripled, to 20 million, and is on target to double again within 18 months. The number of shopping malls, which are proliferating in the booming satellite towns around Delhi, Mumbai and other big cities, are set to double in the next year. In Mumbai alone, 22 new shopping malls are under construction. One long-standing taboo -- the use of religious festivals to promote consumption -- is evidently defunct. Traditionally, Bengalis have treated the annual Durga Puja as an occasion for reverence. But in the tents erected to the Goddess this year, Durga's effigy was hard to find among the clutter of product stalls and brand promotions. Most of the devotees were congregated around counters selling life insurance, pharmaceuticals that relieve stress, DVD stalls and promotions for home appliances. "Almost two-thirds of Indian annual consumer spending takes place in the festival months of October, November and December," says Suhel Seth, chief executive of Equus Red Cell, a UK advertising firm. "What is new is the degree to which sponsors have encroached on what were community events."

RSS Calls for End to Animal Sacrifices

Posted on 2003/10/15 8:48:02 ( 853 reads )

Agence France Presse

NEW DELHI, INDIA, October 11, 2003: The Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh ("National Volunteer Corps") have called for an end to the "barbaric practice" of animal sacrifice in India. The RSS pointed out in its newspaper "Organiser" that God did not need animal sacrifices to "bestow grace" on His devotees. "There is a great need to cleanse Hinduism. And the time is now," said the newspaper. The Organiser praised Jayalalitha, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, for ordering an end to animal sacrifice after police allegedly stood by at a Hindu temple in Tiruchirapalli district as 500 buffaloes were slaughtered. A deputy superintendent of police was suspended over the incident. A ban on animal sacrifice is already in force in most Indian states but police often turn a blind eye when animals are slaughtered at rural temples following local traditions. Last year, Nepal's King Gyanendra infuriated animal rights activists when he offered buffalo, sheep, goat and ducks to be slaughtered at a temple dedicated to the Goddess Kamakhya during a visit to the northeastern Indian state of Assam.

Schoolgirl Decries Treatment of Hinduism In US Schools

Posted on 2003/10/15 8:47:02 ( 954 reads )


HOUSTON, TEXAS, October 2003: Trisha Pasricha, age 14, has written this outstanding article describing her predicament as a Hindu girl dealing with incorrect information on Hinduism in her text books. Trisha says, "When 8th grade starts, India and Hinduism are summed up in a few short sentences by the teacher. India is described as filled with pollution, cows and poverty-stricken people. Hindus love to bathe in rivers where they throw the ashes of their parents and yes, they do worship elephants and monkeys." She adds, "Six chapters in the textbook were devoted to Christianity whereas one page is given to the history of India and the teachings of Hinduism." Her high school textbooks only provided more of the same, with one textbook containing just three sentences devoted to Skihism and Jainism. Trisha's advice to correct the misrepresentation of Hindu culture is to read what your child's Social Studies textbooks says on India and Hinduism. Writing a simple letter or e-mail to the editor can make a world of difference for your child and for thousands of others. She also suggests contacting the Board of Education for your district since they decide which textbooks will be used. The full text of her article is at "source" above.

Trindad Set for Diwali Celebrations

Posted on 2003/10/15 8:46:02 ( 872 reads )


TRINIDAD, October 15, 2003: Diwali will be celebrated in Trinidad and Tobago on Friday October 24, 2003. Diwali is observed as a national holiday in this twin island nation in the southern Caribbean. To commemorate this festival, the National Council of Indian Culture (NCIC) hosts a nine-day celebration know as the Diwali Nagar. This year, says the Chairman Pundit Deokienanan Sharma, the theme of Diwali Nagar will be "The Child." Religious and cultural organizations from throughout Trinidad and Tobago will be participating. There will be a cultural stage program each night; both commercial and cultural displays; a variety of Indian delicacies, including those of two chefs direct from India. The distributors of Hinduism Today will be presenting their booth "Educating the Child on Spirituality," focusing on Mystic Mouse and Dancing with Siva. The Diwali Nagar runs from October 15 to October 23, 2003.

Expert Information Requested on Sadhu Organizations of Khalsas and Akharas at the Kumbha Mela

Posted on 2003/10/15 8:45:02 ( 931 reads )


KAUAI, HAWAII, October 15, 2003: During the course of the Nashik Kumbha Mela, our correspondent, Mr. Rajiv Malik, interviewed Shri Arun Khonde, a journalist, on the history of the sadhu organizations at the Mela. Khonde gave a very lengthy explanation ("source" above) and we are looking for someone to read through this interview (which is in rough form) and comment on the accuracy of the information provided. Khonde discusses the origins of the various Saiva and Vaishnava akharas, the Chatur Sampradaya of the Vaishnavas, the military groups of sadhus, the roll of Adi Shankaracharya in the reorganization of the sadhus and more. We'd appreciate any comments on this information, much of which we had not seen before. Kindly e-mail ar@hindu.org.

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