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Singapore Children Learn About Rangoli Art on Deepavali
Posted on 2002/11/9 8:48:02 ( 772 reads )


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SINGAPORE, November 4, 2002: A group of children spent Deepavali at the museum learning about rangoli, an ancient art traditionally seen on the ground in front of Hindu homes. The audience were left spellbound by the intricate patterns and colors used. Mrs. Vijaya Mohan, rangoli artist, explained that 'rang' means color and rangoli means you are expressing your happiness through colors. The children enjoyed a hands-on experience making rangolis, but instead of the usual colored powder mixed with rice flour, they used beans. Besides rangoli, the children also learnt to paint traditional oil lamps to remember the Festival of Lights.




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Deepavali Cell Phone Messages Clog Networks
Posted on 2002/11/9 8:47:02 ( 759 reads )


Source: The Hindustan Times





NEW DELHI, INDIA, November 5, 2002: Nine million SMS (Short Message Service) messages were sent across the airwaves on Deepavali, sending Delhi's mobile messaging highways into gridlock. The SMS surge slowed things to a crawl for the better part of Monday. According to estimates, close to nine million SMS messages were exchanged by cell phone users in Delhi alone, with Airtel recording nearly 1.9 million messages on Monday. The previous day the number was around 1.4 million. Hutch, a second wireless phone system, recorded SMS traffic of close to 5 million during the period. "That represents a 500 percent jump over normal usage. Compared to last Deepavali, New Year or Holi, the rush was unprecedented," said Hutch officials. On a national basis, over 25 million messages were generated. It was not just simply "Happy Deepavali," text SMS, lengthy, flashing and picture messages with different ring tones fought for airspace.




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Jewish Groups Face Post 9/11 Insurance Hikes
Posted on 2002/11/9 8:46:02 ( 663 reads )


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UNITED STATES, August 14, 2002: In the aftermath of Sept. 11, Jewish institutions are struggling with new insurance rates -- 50 percent increases or more in some cases -- that threaten to consume critical funds. These institutions -- including Jewish community centers, synagogues and organizations -- are fighting to maintain their protection in the event of a devastating terrorist attack. The situation is the result of major changes in the insurance industry, which suffered staggering losses from the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Insurance companies have distributed those costs to their clients and are also cutting back on providing the terror coverage they once routinely did. Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation league, has sent letters to the White House and congressional leaders to urge examination of the issue. Rates are going up for everyone, according to P.J. Crowley, vice president of the Insurance Information Institute, a nonprofit group sponsored by the insurance industry. "Are Jewish groups being singled out? No," he said. "But insurers are being selective in providing coverage." Insurers have little to go on to determine risk factor, said Gary Karr, spokesman for the American Insurance Association, except for the examples of Sept. 11 and government warnings. Indeed, the FBI issued widely publicized warnings to Jewish institutions earlier this year. In the event that Hindu temples become a target of violence in the U.S., they would face the same problem.




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Thiruvannamalai Temple Caught Between Tamil Nadu Government and ASI
Posted on 2002/11/8 8:49:02 ( 603 reads )


Source: Times of India





CHENNAI, INDIA, November 7, 2002: The famous Arunachaleshwarar temple, dedicated to Siva and built in the year 700, is located atop Arunachala Hill at Thiruvannamalai Temple, 200 km from Chennai. A huge sacred fire that burns on the hilltop during Karthika Deepam, November/December, can be seen from as far as 40 km, and thousands of devotees throng the temple at this time of the year. The fate of the temple is now caught in a dispute between the Tamil Nadu government and the Archeological Survey of India (ASI). The state government decided to file a writ of petition in the Madras High Court challenging the preliminary notification issued by the ASI to take over the famous temple. The Tamil Nadu government believes, "The temple has now grown to be a religious center of international importance, more as an abode of faith than as a site of mere archaeological importance. Therefore, there is no ground for the Central government to issue a gazette notification for taking over the temple, which is highly unwarranted."




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Smugglers Killing India's Sandalwood Market
Posted on 2002/11/8 8:48:02 ( 597 reads )


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MYSORE, INDIA, November 8, 2002: Aromatic sandalwood is on its way to becoming an endangered species thanks to rampant smuggling. With it a long-standing tradition could die, to be replaced by ersatz perfume. Sandalwood has been used by tens of millions across South Asia for centuries. From Myanmar to Maharashtra, its oil and wood have been used in incense, medicinal paste for the skin, ornaments, and as a base for a traditional perfume called attar, hugely popular in the Middle East. The demand for Karnataka sandalwood, the most aromatic and most sought after, is so great that poachers have raided old bungalows in Bangalore with sandalwood trees on their grounds, beating watchmen to death to get at the trees. Sandalwood is grown in small quantities in the Asian Pacific area, but India has a virtual monopoly over production. More then 90 per cent of India's sandalwood is grown in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. But while Karnataka and Tamil Nadu protect sandalwood and it is illegal to be in possession of more than 20 kg, neighboring Kerala does not. From the tropical jungles of the Kabini catchment, it is just a few kilometers to Kerala, making it easy for smugglers or unscrupulous traders tampering with the terms of their licenses. Sandalwood production has fallen from 4,000 tons per year in the 1960's to less than 1,000 tons in the 1990's. True sandalwood oil has virtually disappeared from the international market, and has been replaced by synthetics. Today, the words "classic sandalwood" often seen on incense packages is a misnomer; the base is usually synthetic, with some amount of sandalwood chip shavings. Chairman of Haripriya Agarbathies, R. Vasu, who dominates the huge incense market, said that if a packet of standard incense retailing at about 25 rupees (US$0.53), were to contain genuine sandalwood oil, it would be so expensive that nobody would buy it.




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Protectors of India's Cows Seek Extra Help
Posted on 2002/11/8 8:47:02 ( 646 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, November 7, 2002: Home to 200 million cows, India has banned their killing everywhere except Kerala and some northeastern states. In August 2001, the Central Government established a National Commission for Cattle to suggest ways of improving their condition, especially cows. The commission recommended that a Rapid Cow Protection Force on the lines of other paramilitary forces be instituted, which can operate on an all-India basis for prevention of cow slaughter. The commission's report said those who slaughter cows or smuggle them to Bangladesh, Kerala and illegal slaughterhouses should be booked under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. It recommended a ban on crossbreeding involving imported cattle like Jersey. Indigenous breeds should be encouraged and import of cattle prohibited (because the imported breeds are not well adapted to India's conditions). Many people believe that making cow slaughter illegal would just move the industry underground, resulting in more cruelty towards the animals. The recommendations also further worry the leather industry, which is worth US$4 billion and employs thousands of people. Many retailers like Gap, Donna Karan, and Timberland already refuse to buy Indian leather because of protests by animal rights groups against the ill treatment of cattle in India and their brutal killing in slaughterhouses. There are others who believe that the leather industry would be on the brink of disaster if the government accepts the recommendations of the commission.




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Sanskrit Website Developer Seeks Input
Posted on 2002/11/8 8:46:02 ( 767 reads )


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USA, November 8, 2002: This Sanskrit/English web site developers are requesting reader's suggestions in the following areas: simplifying the spellings, joining of letters, sandhi, conjuncts, etc., in the devbhasa. HPI readers fluent in Sanskrit (and you'll need to be to read the site) may log on to "source" above and offer your suggestions and assistance.




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Yoga Initiates a Fashion Trend
Posted on 2002/11/8 8:45:02 ( 635 reads )


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SINGAPORE, November 7, 2002: For an ancient discipline based on relaxation, yoga looks set to stir up a frenzy in the fitness wear business. Spurred on by the growing popularity of yoga, fashion labels are coming up with apparel that won't split when you stretch. From active wear brands like Nike to casual wear labels like British India and Liz Claiborne, retailers are stretching their merchandise range to include apparel suitable for the exercise. For example, Nike launched its yoga line, Nike Organics, in the United States in January. Yoga wear does not necessarily mean loose clothes. With modern technology, yoga apparel is designed to withstand the rigors of body-contorting poses and to not split open or be revealing. Brands like Prana and the Christy Turlington designed Nuala by Puma incorporate the latest in body-cooling, breathable fibers like Coolmax, Polyamide, Tactel and Dri-Fit, which also conceal unglamorous sweat stains.




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First Deepavali Celebrations at UK's Trafalgar Square
Posted on 2002/11/7 8:49:02 ( 629 reads )


Source: Hindustan Times





LONDON, ENGLAND, November 2, 2002: The venue was Trafalgar Square, a London landmark that is a must see for visitors, but on Friday evening it was decorated in a manner not seen in London before. Ringed by 50 colorful saris, the fountains were switched off to make way for Deepavali lamps on the pool and "Happy Deepavali" posters could be seen everywhere. On the stage in the middle, the Dhol Foundation set up a drumbeat that had the Indian crowd dancing along with some German, Austrian, American and Japanese tourists who unsuspectingly celebrated what was perhaps their first Deepavali. London Mayor Ken Livingstone, who opened Trafalgar Square for the Deepavali celebrations this year, came on stage to wish everyone a Happy Deepavali, and added, "There is no city in the world that brings together all nations, creeds and races as London does. We represent the diversity of the world and we are comfortable we do." The Greater London Authority that managed Deepavali this year says next year's celebrations will be bigger and brighter.




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South Indian Couples Seek Geneticists for Marriage Compatibility
Posted on 2002/11/7 8:48:02 ( 676 reads )


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BANGALORE, INDIA, November 5, 2002: Fear of genetic disease is forcing traditional South Indian couples to seek their geneticist's medical wisdom to sift through family history and match their genes. More than 15 per cent of the population of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu seek a match from within the family. For the purpose of keeping their wealth within the family these marriages have become the highest in India. Geneticists say the chances are high of conditions such as Down's syndrome, other forms of mental retardation and autism being passed on to children when relatives marry.




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Chicago Vedanta Society Makes History with New Temple
Posted on 2002/11/7 8:47:02 ( 614 reads )


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CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, November 5, 2002: Swami Vivekananda is credited with introducing Hinduism and Yoga to America in 1893. A dream Swami had was to build a "Temple Universal" which a century later is being brought to fruition by the Chicago Vedanta Society. "We are planning to build an historic temple and monastery -- a sanctuary where people of all faiths can come to worship, study, and pray," says Swami Chidananda of the Ramakrishna Mutt and Mission and head of the Chicago Vedanta Society. Swami Chidananda says the project will be completed by 2005. Initially, an interfaith shrine, a large prayer hall seating more than 500 people, and an ashram would be built on a 15-acre site located in a Chicago suburb. The ashram, providing serene surroundings for meditation and yoga, will include guesthouses for visitors coming to receive instruction in meditation, religion and spiritual practices. The entire project will be financed through donations.




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Young Indian Professionals Relax With Tai Chi Breaks
Posted on 2002/11/7 8:46:02 ( 681 reads )


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BANGALORE, INDIA, November 4, 2002: There is a growing number of young professionals from Bangalore and Chennai taking to Tai Chi, a Chinese contemplative exercise program, which they believe helps them stay focused amid the frenetic world of computer technology. While yoga has always been popular, Tai Chi has recently begun drawing a following in South India mainly due to the efforts of Taiji Master George Thomas in Chennai, and his sister, Cicily Thomas in Bangalore. Mr. Thomas, who started out as a karate instructor, took up Tai Chi in 1995. The 43-year-old, who qualified as a Tai Chi master from Australia-based grand master Fu Sheng Yuan, is the only authorized Tai Chi master in India. Ms Thomas, 33, who learned under her brother, takes one class a day and has some 15 students at any given time, but at special demonstrations up to 200 turn up. Ms Thomas reports many of her students say they have noticed relief from stress, hypertension, insomnia and even heart conditions. Her brother now also oversees two more branches for his Tai Chi academy, in Hyderabad and Coimbatore, and hopes to start chapters in New Delhi and Mumbai, where Tai Chi is yet to arrive.




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Malaysian Hindu Renaissance Committee Announces Important Planning Meeting
Posted on 2002/11/6 8:49:02 ( 575 reads )


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KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, November 6, 2002: There will be a final organizational meeting on November 13, at 7:30 p.m., for the Hindu Renaissance Rally to be held November 17, 2002. Leaders of Hindu organizations, Temples, members of the central council of the Malaysian Hindu Sangam, and members of the organizing committee are asked to attend this very important meeting to discuss issues of interfaith relations. The meeting venue is Malaysia Hindu Sangam Headquarters, No. 8, Jalan Duku, Off Jalan Kasipillay, 51200 Kuala Lumpur. Additional information on the Malaysian Hindu Sangam's Hindu Renaissance, 2002, can be found at "source" above.




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Maneka Gandhi Intervenes in Animal Sacrifice Rites
Posted on 2002/11/6 8:48:02 ( 642 reads )


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PATRAPADA, INDIA, November 7, 2002: Every year on the Maha Bishuva Sankranti day more than 1,000 goats and sheep are sacrificed at the Bayani Thakurani (Goddess Kali) Temple in Patrapada village, Angul district, Orissa. This year Maneka Gandhi stepped in to save the animals and additionally to stop the age-old tradition of large-scale animal sacrifice. A week before the Sankranti day, district collector L.N. Gupta received a letter from Gandhi asking him to take steps to stop the mass sacrifice. A contingent of police, led by S. P. Arun Bothra, went to Patrapada to convince the people to do away with the practice. Temple priests and devotees initially refused to make any changes as they feared breaking from this tradition would bring misfortune. After a four-hour discussion the priests were persuaded and requested the administration to allow symbolic sacrifice of one animal instead of more than a thousand goats. HPI adds: The report indicates nothing about the fate of the animals after the police intervention. Most likely the goats still ended up as dinner, as the protest was against the ritual sacrifice of the animals and not their killing per se.




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Kanchipuram Sankaracharya Speaks Out on Forcible Conversion Bill
Posted on 2002/11/6 8:47:02 ( 587 reads )


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CHENNAI, INDIA, October 31, 2002: The Hindu religion does not subscribe to untouchability, which is prevalent in some rural areas, states Sankaracharya Jayendra Saraswathi. Untouchability exists, His Holiness believes, because of illiteracy and can be eradicated only by educating people. His Kanchipuram Mutt is taking steps to eradicate it. Referring to a recent court ruling that anyone with the requisite qualification could be made a temple priest, he said already there were thousands of temples in the State where nonbrahmin priests performed the worship. While denying that he was instrumental in bringing the Tamil Nadu bill banning forcible conversions, His Holiness did say that he supported the bill. At present there was no bar on people carrying out charitable activities and religious organizations had every right to do so. The bill objected to it only when it was done with a motive to convert people, he said.




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