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Following The Pepper Grinder All The Way To Its Source

Posted on 2003/10/29 8:47:02 ( 1000 reads )


THEKKADY, INDIA, October 29, 2003: Of all the distinctively flavored seeds, barks, roots, fruits and leaves that we call spices, pepper is the most widely used, and for centuries it was the most valuable, begins this informative (and long) New York Times article on the pepper trade which so influenced India's history. In ancient times, the demand for pepper was almost insatiable. In that era, the vines that yield the small, well-rounded black berries grew only here in the lush Cardamom Hills of southwest India. So many ships came to trade for them that Cochin (now called Kochi) on the Malabar coast became one of the world's great ports. Alaric the Visigoth demanded 3,000 pounds of pepper as part of the price for sparing Rome in the fifth century. In medieval Europe a small bag of black pepper could be exchanged for a sheep. In the 16th and 17th centuries, pepper was sold in Western capitals for 600 times what it cost in India. India has recently ceded its place as the world's leading exporter to Vietnam, and Brazil, Indonesia and Malaysia are also major exporters. But most epicures consider Indian peppercorns the world's finest. The climate and terrain here are very nearly perfect for the cultivation of pepper. Pepper vines are trained to climb coconut palms or areca palm trees in backyards, or silver oaks used as windbreaks on the tea plantations, or any other tree with a tall, straight trunk. They have dark green leaves, ribbed and leathery, and reach a height of 12 to 15 feet. Flowers bloom after the first monsoon rains in the fall, followed by six-inch spikes of berries. Besides enlivening the flavor of food, pepper helps to promote digestion.

Pandurang Shastri Cremated in Thane

Posted on 2003/10/28 8:49:02 ( 1259 reads )


MUMBAI, INDIA, October 26, 2003: The mortal remains of social reformer and Magsaysay Award winner Pandurang Shastri Athavale were consigned to flames at Tatwajnana Vidyapeeth, Ghodbunder, in Thane district on Sunday evening. The last rites of the 84-year old spiritual leader were attended by Lok Sabha Speaker Manohar Joshi, Maharashtra Chief Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and scores of Swadyhyaya movement followers, sources said. About two thousand people attended the cremation inside the Vidyapeeth while it was relayed live on a big screen outside to enable about 10,000 people to view the last rites of their beloved leader. Others who attended the cremation included Maharashta state ministers Sunil Tatkare and Madhukar Pichad and social worker Mohan Dharia.

India Steps Up Effort to Halt Abortions of Female Fetuses

Posted on 2003/10/28 8:48:02 ( 951 reads )


ATEHGARH SAHIB, INDIA, October 26, 2003: India's "son complex" is visible in this prosperous market town on the rich plains of the Punjab. Girls, by the thousands, are missing. Local parents in search of a son, a prize in Indian culture, have used ultrasound machines to determine the sex of the fetus growing in the mother's womb. If the fetus is male, the parents keep it, if it is female, they often abort it. J. K. Banthia, the Indian census commissioner, estimates that 25 million fetuses have been aborted in the last 20 years because they were female. Some states have mounted stepped-up enforcement campaigns that include public education, inspections and edicts from religious leaders. But Mr. Banthia, the Indian census commissioner, said he believed that the government had only slowed the spread of the practice. "I wouldn't say it has decreased," he said. Abortion is legal in India, but it is illegal to abort a fetus because of its sex, and so the determination tests are banned. India's health minister, Sushma Swaraj, recently proposed that the government begin an advertising campaign warning that there would not be enough women for men to marry if the trend continued, a situation that some say already exists here in northern India. Officials are also considering paying families a supplement if they have a girl.

Karachi Hindu Community Celebrates Diwali

Posted on 2003/10/28 8:47:02 ( 1010 reads )


KARACHI, PAKISTAN, October 26, 2003. The Hindu community on Saturday celebrated their religious festival of Diwali, illuminating their houses with Chiraghs (oil-lamps) and electric lights at various places of the metropolis. Special prayers were offered at Ram Swami Mandir, MA Jinah Road, for the solidarity, integrity and prosperity of the country. The Hindu community living at Ratan Talao, near Urdu Bazar, one of the oldest abodes of Hindus in the city, remained colorful and melodious with lights and loud music throughout the night. Keeping the tradition of previous years alive, the most visited place remained Native Jetty, where people belonging to various faiths were seen congregated. The misty evening turned romantic, when dishes carrying sweets and oil-lamps, an offering to the sea, were floated in the waters for the sake of loved-ones. Meanwhile, chief of Muttahida Qaumi Movement Altaf Hussain congratulated the Hindu community on the occasion of Diwali. (HPI adds: Please note that any news issued in Pakistan is subject to government oversight.)

Hindu Temple Burns in Fiji, Arson Suspected

Posted on 2003/10/27 8:49:02 ( 1642 reads )


FIJI, October 27, 2003: Diwali celebrations took an ugly twist when a temple in Raralevu, Nausori, was burnt to the ground on Saturday night. Hindu residents who were celebrating Diwali in their homes broke down in tears when they heard that the Naga Baba Kutti temple had been razed in a fire. Police have confirmed the reports of the fire but were unable to give details of the incident. Ragho Nand, a member of the Tailevu Rewa Indian Communal seat for the Fiji Labour Party, believes the case is one of arson. "People are very sad, especially since Saturday was supposed to be a day of rejoicing but, instead, it became one of the worst days for us," said Mr. Nand. He said the temple and all the equipment inside was destroyed, except for a shed that was saved by neighbors. "The temple was of significance to us because it was established in 1905 by Naga Baba, a priest who came all the way from India." Mr. Nand said the damage was estimated to be around US$11,000. "Fiji is a multi-racial nation and people should learn to respect each other's religion and culture regardless of what race we belong to. "This teaching should be included in all education curriculums so that future citizens do not discriminate other religions or races," said Mr. Nand. Early last month a temple at Korociriciri in Nausori was also destroyed in a fire and is still being reconstructed by residents who use it for worship purposes. The Naga Baba Kutti temple is only a few meters away from the Raralevu Police Post but despite this, police were unable to determine who set the temple on fire.

Vegetarians Only: The Unwritten Rule in Mumbai Real Estate

Posted on 2003/10/27 8:48:02 ( 1022 reads )


MUMBAI, INDIA, October 22, 2003: Amar Khamkar thought he had found the perfect apartment in Mumbai when the agent asked him "Is your family vegetarian?" "I was shocked," said Mr. Khamkar, "What did that matter?" Quite a lot, the agent said, the building was reserved for vegetarians. A number of buildings, both old and new, in the city are unofficially going vegetarian. Most of Indians don't eat beef but mutton, chicken and fish are eaten in many parts of India. In Mumbai, seafood is a favorite, particularly a pungent dried fish known as Bombay Duck. However, there is an influential minority of prosperous traders, diamond merchants and property developers, originally from Gujarat. They are often willing to pay a premium for an environment in harmony with their religious beliefs and no-meat lifestyle. "There's an excellent market for vegetarian buildings," says Sunil Bajaj, a Bombay broker. "It's as simple as having a non-smoking area."

Historic Visit of the President of Bharat Sevashram Sangha to Western Countries.

Posted on 2003/10/27 8:47:02 ( 1143 reads )


LONDON, ENGLAND, October 26, 2003: Swami Nirliptananda ("source" above) sends this announcement: "His holiness Srimat Swami Akshayanandaji Maharaj, President of Bharat Sevashram Sangha, (93 years old) at the request of the devotees is visiting the UK from October 24 to November 4 on his way to other countries. Swamiji is a direct disciple of Jagadguru Swami Pranavanandaji Maharaj who founded the Bharat Sevashram Sangha, a foremost philanthropic organization in India, in 1917. Swamiji spent most of his life in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, where he established a branch of the Sangha which consists of a medical center, secondary school and a medical mobile unit that reaches out to the poor people in villages, and engages in relief operations in times of natural disaster.

"He is accompanied by Srimat Swami Ashokanandaji Maharaj, Assistant Secretary, and in charge of the Diamond Harbour branch of the Sangha which runs a Secondary School and a Medical Unit which treats over 500 patients daily. He is also in charge of 40 Hindu Milan Mandirs (Hindu Unity Centres) through which social and reformation work is carried out for the upliftment of tribals. There will be morning (6-9am) and evening (6-9pm) programs at London Sevashram Sangha, 99A Devonport Road, London W12 8PB. All are invited. For meetings at other times or special programs, phone (0) 20 8723 4257/8923 9881.

First Conference On Indo-Romuvan Culture Organized

Posted on 2003/10/27 8:46:02 ( 1126 reads )


NEW JERSEY, U.S.A., October 21, 2003: Scholars of the Indian and Romuva (ancient indigenous Lithuanian religion) civilizations took a step towards understanding each other. The first conference in a series planned to increase understanding of the ancient traditions of Indo-Romuvan civilizations was held in New Jersey last week. The conference brought together about forty-five eminent scholars belonging to Indian and Romuvan tradition from Lithuania, Latvia, Mexico, North America and India. The conference focused on four main broad topics: Indo-European history and common roots, similarities and peculiarities in the philosophy and theology of Indian and Romuvan traditions, the evolution of Indian and Romuvan traditions abroad and preservation of these traditions in the changing world. Jonas Trinkunas from Lithuania, who has been recently elevated to the highest priesthood position in Lithuanian Romuva traditions, gave the keynote address. He pointed out similarities between the ancient Indian and Romuvan traditions. Commending the vision of ancient Indic seers he said, "The founding principles for uniting the pagan traditions in Europe have been inspired by the Hindu philosophy." The conference was made possible by the International Center for Cultural Studies (ICCS)-USA and World Congress of Ethnic Religions (WCER), Lithuania.

Dr. Brij Sood Honored as Member of the Order of Canada

Posted on 2003/10/27 8:45:02 ( 1497 reads )


OTTAWA, CANADA, October 25, 2003: Brijendra K. Sood, of Calgary, Alberta, was honored by the Governor General of Canada, Adrienne Clarkson, at a ceremony October 24 in Ottawa as a member of the Order of Canada. According to government material, "The Order of Canada recognizes people who have made a difference to our country. From local citizens to national and international personalities, all Canadians are eligible for the Order of Canada -- our country's highest honor for lifetime achievement. Three different levels of membership honor people whose accomplishments vary in degree and scope: Companion, Officer and Member. The Order of Canada was established in 1967 to recognize outstanding achievement and service in various fields of human endeavour. Appointments are made on the recommendation of an advisory council, chaired by the Chief Justice of Canada. The motto of the Order is Desiderantes meliorem patriam -- 'They desire a better country.' "

The citation reads, "A dedicated physician, Brijendra Sood has promoted multicultural awareness by recognizing and valuing the strengths of Canada 's rich cultural mosaic. Since arriving in Canada in 1964, he has worked to develop and strengthen the social and cultural fabric of Calgary 's East Indian community. He has played leadership roles in the city's India-Canada Association, Multicultural Centre, Hindu Society and Temple. The recipient of numerous honors for his ethno-cultural contributions, he was also named Outstanding Physician of the Year 2000 by the Calgary Medical Society."

Malay/Indonesian Hindu Webpage Announced

Posted on 2003/10/27 8:44:02 ( 867 reads )


KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, October 25, 2003: HPI received this announcement, "On this great day of Divali let me announce the world's first website dedicated to and expounding the Saivite Hindu Religion in the Malay/ Indonesian language that reaches out to Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Southern Thailand, Southern Mindanao (Phillipines) and Singapore, a total of nearly 245 million people." Click "source" above for the site.

Lord Muruga Conference to Commence Shortly in Malaysia

Posted on 2003/10/27 8:43:02 ( 881 reads )


MALAYSIA, October 23, 2003: The Third International Arulmigu Murukan Conference Malaysia 2003 will be held in Batumalai Sri Subramaniyar Temple, Selangor, in Malaysia from November 2-5, 2003. The main objective of the conference is to discuss the importance of Lord Muruga in Hinduism and promote research on Lord Muruga worship. The organizers are requesting invitees to confirm immediately their participation in the conference. They can be reached via email at: thirdmurukanconference2003@yahoo.com, or by phone: 603-6184 1544 (the Secretariat), 012-9257 023 (M. Paramasivam) or 012-2798 444 (Kubiran).

South Africa Abuzz with Diwali Celebrations

Posted on 2003/10/26 8:49:02 ( 896 reads )


JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA, October 22, 2003: It's not just India that is revving up for Diwali. An estimated 800,000 Hindus in South Africa too, are! While it means booming business for dealers of Indian goods, seniors look forward to the food hampers they receive from Hindu organizations. The biggest Diwali event in South Africa will take place in Durham with over 100,000 visitors expected at the two-day celebrations. The Hindu Maha Sabha and the Durban Municipality will jointly host the event. The feast of color, dance, music and food is expected to attract the wider South African community and tourists. The municipality has listed Diwali as one of its permanent features on the calendar. In Lenasia, over 4,500 people turned up to witness the biggest Diwali celebration in Gauteng province, organized by the Hindu Coordinating Council (HCC). In Pretoria, local Hindu groups presented a concert with over a dozen Indian dance and music groups from the province participating. Similar events have been hosted during the past week by many other organizations in smaller towns across South Africa.

Diwali -- It's Everywhere!

Posted on 2003/10/26 8:48:02 ( 993 reads )

Press Reports

KAUAI, HAWAII, October 26, 2003: HPI's received so many Diwali news reports that we've decided to just list them all at once (the links all worked today...):


click here

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia:

click here

Washington, D.C., at the White House, no less...

click here


click here


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A Diwali US Post Stamp is issued (HPI would like a copy, if someone can find this):

click here

The BBC takes a swipe at the festival -- "Diwali is a time for giving and receiving. But the gift-giving has a darker side in the shape of bribery, and year on year the presents are growing ever more extravagant." As if some Christmas "presents" don't serve much the same purpose...

click here

Sri Pandurang Athavale Passes Away

Posted on 2003/10/26 8:47:02 ( 959 reads )


MUMBAI, INDIA, October 25, 2003: Well-known social reformer and winner of the 1997 Magsasay award winner for community leadership, Sri Pandurang Shastri Athavale, died at around 2 pm in Mumbai today. Athavale was 83 years old. He died of a massive cardiac arrest at his residence. He had also been awarded the Padma Vibhushan. Athavale was founder of the Swadhyaya movement and had strived for reformation of the fishermen community in Maharashtra and Gujarat. He had a huge following, mostly in Maharashtra and Gujarat, with branches around the world. His is one of the most successful social movements in the world.

Hindus of Reunion Celebrate Deepavali

Posted on 2003/10/23 8:49:02 ( 901 reads )


REUNION, FRANCE, October 23, 2003: Four Hindu groups will come together to host an all-night celebration of Deepavali at the temple of Piton Saint-Leu beginning Friday evening October 24 and ending on Saturday morning. There will be feasting, viewing of a religious film and discussions on Hinduism throughout the night. It's hoped that one thousand participants will turn out to light a lamp and firecrackers just before dawn. (Summary from original French)

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