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Navaratri Celebrations in the U.K.

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


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 )


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 )


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 )


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 )


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.

Altered Statues Trigger Outrage in Malaysia

Posted on 2003/9/24 9:49:02 ( 853 reads )


PENANG, MALAYSIA, September 23, 2003: The Malaysia Hindu Sangam is outraged over the sale of imported statues of the Lord Ganesha which were altered and had additional accessories. The Malaysia Hindu Sangam Penang state council chairman, P. Murugiah, said statues of the Hindu Deity wearing a turban and a pair of shoes and holding a handphone were being sold in several shops in the northern region. "The altered statues are offensive and give a distorted depiction of Lord Ganesha," he said, adding that the statues belittled the Hindu religion. Murugiah has filed a formal complaint with the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry, the Home Ministry and the Prime Minister's Department. He said a few years ago statues of Lord Ganesha wearing a coat and a hat were sold. "We filed a complaint and the Government took action against the retailers and distributors, but now they are back with another modified statue," he said. Murugiah said the distorted version of Lord Ganesha produced by manufacturers in India was not only humiliating to Hindus but also a degrading sales gimmick. He added that he would write to the Indian religious authorities and the Indian Customs to stop the export of such statues to Malaysia. "On behalf of the local Hindu community, we demand that the importers and distributors of the statues stop selling the degrading statues," he said.

Indian Troupe In Unique Devotional Show In South Africa

Posted on 2003/9/24 9:48:02 ( 884 reads )


PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA, September 23, 2003: South Indian devotional singer Veeramani Raju is performing in South Africa to help raise funds for the completion of the first Ayyappa temple in the southern hemisphere. "Although he has been here several times before, Veeramani has done concerts that had a commercial objective," said Raj Kolapan of the Pretoria Bhajanai Mandram. "This time round, he is undertaking a series of celebrations in which he sings uninterruptedly from beginning to end while an actual puja occurs on stage," Kolapan added. "Rather than people sitting in the audience and watching him on stage, he sits among the audience and sings the praises of the Deity that is worshipped." Performances begin with an educative discourse that makes it easier to understand the full steps of a prayer, from the moment the intention to worship the Lord is made, right until the Lord is bade farewell, with Veeramani rendering appropriate items for every step in the process. The planned development at Sri Ayyappa Kshetram by the Pretoria Bhajanai Mandram includes a temple, community center with clinic facilities, youth center and retirement complex. Donations received during these performances will go towards building the temple.

Srimath Sri Viswamatha Giving Discourse in Edmonton, Canada

Posted on 2003/9/24 9:47:02 ( 896 reads )


EDMONTON, ALBERTA, CANADA, September 24, 2003: The Maha Ganapati Society of Alberta is pleased to host a discourse by Srimath Sri Viswamatha, (Mathaji Ammah), who is visiting from India, on Friday, September 26, the first day of Navaratri at the Cultural Centre of the Maha Ganapati Society of Alberta, 128 Running Creek Road, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. For more information, click "source" above.

Time Magazine Article On-Line

Posted on 2003/9/24 9:46:02 ( 931 reads )


KAUAI, HAWAII, September 24, 2003: A helpful HPI reader has found the Time magazine article on meditation discussed in yesterday's HPI at "source" above. We are directing readers there rather than faxing a copy as offered yesterday.

VHP Halts Christian Meeting at Borivali

Posted on 2003/9/23 9:49:02 ( 1075 reads )


MUMBAI, INDIA, September 19, 2003: Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) activists stopped a Christian prayer meeting in Borivali (just north of Mumbai) yesterday morning, according to this report by Mid Day. The prayer group said they were driven out of the hall, which was then locked up. The VHP denied locking the hall, but said they had questioned the prayer group as they suspected the group was planning to convert people to Christianity during the meeting. Police have not arrested anyone, but said complaints have been filed by both VHP and a Protestant group called the Faith Fire Fellowship. Around 150 men and women from Borivali and Bhiwandi were supposed to gather at 10:00 am for a day of prayers at Mangal Murti Hall in Shimpoli, Borivali. One of the participants, Pastor Prakash Boyin representing a prayer group from Bhiwandi, said just before the meeting began, a group of 50 people came to the hall and accused those gathered there of converting people with inducements of money. "They said we paid US$109 to each person to convert to Christianity. Around 100 people had already come for the prayers. They asked them to get out of the hall and locked the hall," said Boyin. Though the group that locked up the hall did not tell the prayer group that they belonged to the VHP, a senior police officer confirmed it was a VHP group. "Both groups have made complaints. We are investigating," the officer said. Police said the prayer group did not have permission to use speakers and an orchestra. Surendra Pandey, joint secretary of VHP's Borivali unit said that before the meeting, the organizers had distributed pamphlets promising miracle cures for various ailments (HPI adds: which would be a violation of India's law against "quakery"). "The prayers should have been held in a church and not in an area where there are no Christians," he said.

Spiritual leaders converge to Fiji

Posted on 2003/9/23 9:48:02 ( 833 reads )


FIJI, September 22, 2003: A group of Indian spiritual leaders is due in Fiji next month, as part of their spiritual journey in Australasian zone. The Chairman of the Great Council of Chiefs, Ratu Epeli Ganilau, will be the chief guest. One of the significant ceremonies at the public function on Friday will be a Kalash Ceremony. The group has a kalash (pot) in which soil is collected from each country where the yaatra has gone so far. "Fiji Soil" will be presented to the group to be added and mixed in the kalash later. Apart from the public function, the group also plans to hold private meetings with interfaith religious leaders, women and youth organisations and representatives of various social, religious and cultural organisations. The Global Peace Mission is led by Hindu leader Jagadguru Sankaracharya Swami Divyanand Tirth Ji. The mission also includes renowned devotional bhajan singer Shri Anup Jalota, accompanied by master tabia player Pandey.

Old cave of Mata Vaishno Devi to be Opened for Devotees

Posted on 2003/9/23 9:47:02 ( 903 reads )


JAMMU, INDIA, September 21, 2003: The management of Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board has decided to open the old cave of the shrine for the devotees during the Navratra festival starting from September 26, 2003. Disclosing this to the media, the Minister of State for PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control, Jugal Kishore Sharma, said that pilgrims who wish to visit the old cave will be allowed to enter in groups, whereas those who want to visit the large cave will proceed as usual. He said it was the wish of a large number of people to have darshan of Mata Vaishno Devi through the old cave, and the Shrine Board has made plans this year for 10,000 pilgrims at the old cave. He said special, elaborate security, transport and accommodation arrangements have been made for the smooth conduct of the festival.

Vedanta Centre Sydney Celebrates Anniversary

Posted on 2003/9/23 9:46:02 ( 837 reads )


SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA, September 22, 2003: The Vedanta Centre of Sydney is a branch of the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission. The centre conducts spiritual and cultural activities by conducting talks on the Bhagawad Gita, the Upanishads, the Yoga Sutras and other Vedantic subjects. The Centre will celebrate the 3rd Anniversary of its affiliation with the Ramakrishna Math and Mission on Saturday the 18th of October 2003 at the Macquarie Theatre, Macquarie University, North Ryde, Sydney, Australia. The program will start at 6 p.m. and will consist of a presentation on the history of the Ramakrishna order, release of a souvenir publication and devotional bhajans by Mr. Avijit Sarkar and troupe. Details of the program can be had by contacting the Centre at Tel: 02 9705 9050 or e-mail "source" above.

Request for Comments on Time Magazine Meditation Article

Posted on 2003/9/23 9:45:02 ( 936 reads )


KAUAI, HAWAII, September 23, 2003: The August 4 issue of Time magazine carried an article on meditation called "Just Say Om" with the subhead, "Scientists study it. Doctors recommend it. Millions of Americans -- many of whom don't even own crystals -- practice it every day. Why? Because meditation works." The main text by Joel Stein begins, "The one thought I cannot purge, the one that keeps coming back and getting between me and my bliss, is this: What a waste of time. I am sitting cross-legged on a purple cushion with my eyes closed in a yoga studio with 40 people, most of them attractive women in workout outfits, and it is accomplishment enough that I am not thinking about them. Or giggling. I have concentrated on the sounds outside and then on my breath and then, supposedly, just on the present reality of my physical state -- a physical state concerned increasingly with the lack of blood in my right foot. But I let that pass." For $2.50 you can buy the full article here.

The report is generally positive, bringing forward recent scientific investigations into meditation. It is also rather simplistic, and tends to trivialize the traditional goal of meditation -- spiritual enlightenment. For example, Stein writes, "Contentment and inner peace are nice, but think how many American swould start meditating if you could convince them they would live longer because of it." Or, "In its most modern, Americanized forms, it has dropped the creepy mantra bit that has you memorize a secret phrase of syllable; instead you focus on a sound or on your breathing." Or, recounting the results of teaching "meditation" to jail inmates, "Approximately 56% of the newly enlightened prisoners returned to jail within two years."

Hinduism Today is seeking comments from knowledgable meditators on the article as part of a review of it in the magazine. Kindly e-mail to "source" above. It would be best to read the entire article. We don't have an e-mail version, only the pay-for-archive above, but can fax a few people the article if you e-mail us a fax number.

Hindu Canadian Community Rebuilds Temple Razed by Arson

Posted on 2003/9/22 9:49:02 ( 816 reads )

Hamilton Spectator

HAMILTON, ONTARIO, CANADA, September 13, 2003: In the aftermath of 9-11, the Hindu Samaj Temple in Hamilton was destroyed by arson in a hate-crime attack. Two years have passed since that trying time, and the Hindu community expects to open a new temple in November of this year. However, the community is still suffering from the senseless act on their spiritual home. In an effort to help heal the situation, Carolann Fernandes, a volunteer for a Healing Day of Prayer says, "A community prayer service will be held at City Hall aimed at uniting Hamilton Hindus with Hamiltonians of every faith in a desire for healing and harmony." This prayer service launches a three-month Discover India program started by two dozen Indian community groups that will include lectures, workshops, and exhibits about India. Mahendra Deonarain, religious secretary to the Hamilton Hindu Samaj community adds, "Construction of the new Hindu Samaj Temple has been delayed in part by a last-minute decision to expand floor space by 2,000 square feet. Hamiltonians contributed some $240,000 to the temple reconstruction, while insurance and assistance from the federal government brought the total rebuilding budget to $800,000."

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