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Conference on Hindus in Trinidad
Posted on 2002/6/26 23:48:02 ( 685 reads )


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TRINIDAD, June 23, 2002: The Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) of Trinidad and Tobago and the History Department of The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine will be jointly hosting a conference on the Hindu Presence in Trinidad and Tobago. The event will be held from October 25 to 27, 2002, at the SDMS Headquarters, Eastern Main Road, St. Augustine and at the Learning Resource Centre, UWI, St. Augustine. Topics for discussion shall include: The Hindu family; age and gender roles; the early establishment of Hinduism; Hindus and politics; non-political leadership in the Hindu community; Hindus and education in Trinidad and Tobago; The Hindu engagement with the non-Hindu world. Abstracts of papers will be received up to July 31, 2002, at the History Department, UWI, St. Augustine. For further information, email source above.




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Dead Fish on the Banks of the River Yamuna Panics City Residents
Posted on 2002/6/26 23:47:02 ( 540 reads )


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AGRA, INDIA, June 14, 2002: Residents in the city of Agra were horrified on June 14 when they awoke to the sight of thousands of dead fish on the banks of the river Yamuna. While the citizens of Agra are concerned about the safety of the water for human consumption, fishermen in the city may have to take up another means of making a living. Gyanesh Kumar, the additional district magistrate of Agra says, "It appears that the sudden rise of pollution resulted in a drastic fall of dissolved oxygen in river water, leading to the death of fishes on this terrible scale. Until our investigations are completed we will stop the Yamuna water supply to Agra city due to apprehensions about the safety and quality of the water." A substitute water supply from Gokul Barrage is being used as a replacement. An official from Agra's Jal Nigam water board says that they have been pushing for a clean up of the river. However, residential sewage and industrial waste are continually dumped untreated into the river. "It is time we restored the glory of the Yamuna River which was a grand old river. Now it has been turned into a sewage drain," said the water board official.




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Forty-Five Years On, Sanskrit Dictionary Still a Dream
Posted on 2002/6/25 23:49:02 ( 751 reads )


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PUNE, INDIA, June 24, 2002: The ambitious Sanskrit dictionary project - arguably the largest lexicographical work ever -- at the Deccan College in Pune has become a hostage of time as the work, though under way for 45 years, has not even completed the first letter of the alphabet as yet. The monumental project, titled "Deccan College Sanskrit Dictionary" started in 1948, and since then it is still seized with the very first letter of the Sanskrit alphabet which has got at least 44 functional characters. According to an estimate of Dr V.B. Bhatta, the project coordinator, it will take at least 85 years to complete. The uniqueness of the project lies in the fact that, unlike other dictionaries, the present work sets out to cover all 64 disciplines in Sanskrit (Chaturshasthi Kalas) covering a period between Rig Veda and Balambhatti -- an 18th century work. Besides the vast period, it has to give the origin, evolution, history and supportive citations of a particular word. "Sanskrit is full of compounds and there is no room for bluffing. It is running at a normal speed," Bhatta reasons. It should be consolation to the editors that the Oxford English Dictionary when conceived in 1857 was expected to take ten years to complete. Five years into the project, they had reached "ant." The final volume of the unabridged dictionary was printed in 1928. At least the Sanskritists have one advantage over the OED's editors -- because of the rapid evolution of English, the OED was out of date the instant it was completed.




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Male-Dominated Priesthood Makes Way For Women Priests
Posted on 2002/6/25 23:48:02 ( 596 reads )


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INDIA, June 23, 2002: The age-old tradition of a solely male-dominated profession is slowly giving way as more women are trained for the priesthood. In Maharashtra's orthodox brahminical order, Pune-based Shankar Seva Samiti has trained over 7,000 women priests from all castes since its inception in 1976. In Kerala, until a few years ago, anything related to Vedic hymns and sacred ceremonies was considered the domain of the Namboodiris and the Pottis -- two classes of the brahminical order. But, over the past few years, 37 non-brahmin women have become priests, due to the efforts of Gurupadam Institute of Kodungallur. In Varanasi, also, students of the Panini Kanya Mahavidyalaya are being trained in priesthood. This unique center of learning has produced a number of Sanskrit scholars and karmakandi women pundits. Presently, 70 students are enrolled, preparing for degrees from prathama to acharya. Woman priests often conduct marriages, pujas and even shradhas, funeral rites. A central reason for the women's success is the lowering of standards among the male priests, as many qualified men opt for other employment. Suniti Gadgil, a priest based in Pune, says she performs around 15 shradha ceremonies every month besides puja and sacred thread ceremonies. Says Gadgil, "Earlier, I used to do only other rituals. but I decided to do the shradha ceremony only after no priest was available to do the shradha of my mother."




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Memories Of Kashmir In New Book
Posted on 2002/6/25 23:47:02 ( 586 reads )


Source: Philadelphia Inquirer





PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA, June 18, 2002: In her new book, "Tiger Ladies" ($24, Beacon Press), Sudha Koul tells of growing up in the beautiful Valley of Kashmir where Muslims and Hindus coexisted in peace for centuries. Born in 1947, the year of India and Pakistan's partition, Koul writes of a land of unparalleled beauty where people admired learning, open-mindedness and tolerance. She writes of a place where people attend weddings and stay up all night singing, and of her grandmother, a collector of fine Kashmiri pashmina wool, and her grandfather, a college English professor. Nowhere is there mention of Hindu and Muslim tensions; instead, Koul writes of both groups' going to the others' homes to celebrate festivals. Koul titled her book the Tiger Ladies because she considers herself -- along with her grandmother, mother and daughters -- to embody Durga, the Hindu Goddess who sits on a tiger and vanquishes demons to keep the world safe. "I wrote the book as a lament to a way of life that had been nurtured for millennia," said Koul, a Hindu. "We Hindus and Muslims had a common ground -- in our being Kashmiri." " I wrote this book because I wanted to put down our unique Kashmiri traditions so that they are not forgotten," she said. Kohl has been living in the US since 1974.




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Hindu Sangam Participates in Matchmaking Event
Posted on 2002/6/25 23:46:02 ( 675 reads )


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KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, June 10, 2002: Sixty-eight young males and one-hundred and seventy-four females looking for a marriage partner participated in the Malaysia Hindu Sangam's matchmaking event on June 10th. To take part in the event, participants paid RM 20 each which allowed them to look at photographs of potential life partners. A male pharmacist from Penak successfully met a female systems technician from Serebam. The pair were comfortable with each other and have asked their families to make follow-up arrangements. A thirty-eight year old auditor, who was disillusioned about marriage, was able to find a thirty-two year old bank teller. President of the Hindu Sangam, A. Vaithiligam, said, " The event was held following the success of the first Suyamvaran in 1989 when 10 out of 12 men found life partners."




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Twenty-Six Badrinath Pilgrims Drown
Posted on 2002/6/22 23:49:02 ( 595 reads )


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DEHRA DUN, INDIA, June 16: Twenty-six pilgrims were drowned and six injured, two of them seriously, when a private bus in which they were returning from Badrinath shrine skidded off the road and plunged into the Alaknanda river at Baldora area in Chamoli district last night, police said today. The bus, going to Hardwar from Badrinath, was carrying 32 pilgrims including 17 women when the mishap occurred at Baldora near Vishnuprayag area. The pilgrims were mostly from Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh. The bus, belonging to a private travel agency in Hardwar, had completely submerged into the swirling waters of the Alaknanda, a tributary of Ganga, Mishra said.




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VHP Missionary Enrollment Program Meets Modest Success in Kerala
Posted on 2002/6/22 23:48:02 ( 756 reads )


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THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, KERALA, SOUTH INDIA, June 9, 2002: A VHP recruitment drive here got off to a slower-than-hoped start, but the local leaders were still satisfied with the results. Though the drive was aimed at enlisting youth in a program to check conversion in tribal areas, half those enrolling were older. VHP organizing secretary Kummanam Rajasekharan said he was satisfied with the numbers. "It is just the beginning. Teething problems are there. Once the first batch is out more youth can be attracted." The VHP's latest plan had evoked protests from various quarters. Communists and social activists had dubbed it as a ploy to 'Gujaratize' the hitherto peaceful state. Opposition leader V. S. Achtuthanandan had asked Chief Minister A. K. Antony to ban the drive. The VHP reasoned that a state which produced so many Christian missionaries from its Christian minority should be able to produce Hindu missionaries from the majority community.




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Cloned Animals Suffer With Genetic and Physical Defects
Posted on 2002/6/22 23:47:02 ( 590 reads )


Source: Times of India





LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, April 28, 2002: Ever since Dolly the cloned sheep hit the news in 1997, her progress and life has been watched world-wide. Cloning, using the DNA of an adult cell and injecting it into an egg, has been attempted by scientists around the world. Ian Wilmut, co-creator of Dolly the sheep, has analyzed the findings and has published his research. Wilmut says, "The widespread problems associated with clones has led to questions as to whether any clone was entirely normal." Dolly the sheep has developed arthritis at an abnormally young age. A cloned calf in France died after living only 51 days because its body could not produce white blood cells. At the Roslin research center in Scotland, the same center where Dolly was produced, a cloned lamb had to be put down because the muscles surrounding the lungs were too large causing the calf to suffocate. Wilmut believes that the problem with clones can be attributed to the behavior of methyl molecules. He says, "Methyl molecules attach themselves to DNA in all cells and help to control many of its functions. The methylation of the DNA in adult cells differs sharply from that of sperm and eggs. When a nucleus is taken from a cell of an adult animal and injected into an egg, its DNA is formatted in radically different ways from that found in sperm." Wilmut's research comes at a time when some scientists are attempting to clone human beings. Ian Wilmut warns, "Nobody should be attempting to clone a child. My research suggests that a cloned human would also be at huge risk of genetic defects."




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VHP Reconverts Christian Tribals in Orissa
Posted on 2002/6/19 23:49:02 ( 978 reads )


Source: The Hindu





BHUBANESWAR, ORISSA, INDIA, June 18, 2002: The Vishwa Hindu Parishad has reconverted over 5,000 tribal Christians to Hinduism in the Sundargarh district during the past two years. The VHP's local unit conducted a ceremony after the converted Christians filed affidavits expressing their willingness to reconvert, either before the court or the notary. On June 16, about 143 tribals belonging to 46 families of Oram, Munda and Khadia tribes were reconverted at a special function organized by the Rourkela unit of the VHP at Tainser village under Lathikata block. According to the local VHP organizing secretary, Achyutanand Kar, these tribals had filed affidavits a fortnight ago. Their case was communicated to the district authority before the ceremony was organized. Mr. Kar alleged that Christian missionaries had induced not only tribals but also others in the district to convert to Christianity. Sundargarh alone had as many as 1,100 churches spread over almost all the villages, he added.




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Christians Demand Probe of Conversion
Posted on 2002/6/19 23:48:02 ( 656 reads )


Source: The Hindu





BHUBANESWAR, INDIA, June 19, 2002: The Global Council of Indian Christians has demanded an enquiry into the alleged conversion of 143 tribal Christians into Hinduism by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad in Orissa's Sundargarh district on June 16. In a statement issued today, the national convener of the council, Sajan K. George, alleged that the conversions were done in contravention of the provisions of the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act and "connivance" of the government machinery. Before conversion, the tribals belonged to Oram, Munda and Khadia tribes and were not Hindus, Mr. George claimed. HPI adds: It has been a tact developed in the last few years for Christians to claim that the tribal people of India are not Hindus, as they have been traditionally regarded, but of another, "tribal," religion. By a calculation made in one Hinduism Today article (www.hinduismtoday.com/1989/02/, "The Big Business of Evangelizing:), it costs the missionaries about US$6,000 to convert one Hindu to Christianity. The 143 tribals, then, would represent a loss of $858,000, and the VHP's claimed total of 5,000 reconverted tribals, $30 million.




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The Changing Face of Maternity Wards to Accommodate Immigrants
Posted on 2002/6/19 23:47:02 ( 525 reads )


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WASHINGTON, May 11, 2002: Hospitals, and in particular maternity wards, have had to adapt to multicultural traditions and practices in an attempt to meet the needs of immigrant mothers in the last ten years. In the last decade half of all births in the U.S. have been to mothers born outside the country, compared to one in three births in 1990. At the Holy Cross Hospital, an Indian gentleman from Bombay brings his wife home-cooked curries because the elders of his family insist that a new mother eat certain grains and seeds. On the same ward, a nurse struggles with a Vietnamese grandmother who insists that she not place a cold pack on the new mother's body to reduce swelling. In that culture the belief is that cold will disrupt a person's equilibrium leading to bad health. To accommodate the culture of African countries, Holy Cross has ordered special biohazard containers so that patients can take the placenta home and bury it. Similar efforts to accommodate new mothers of different cultures are being put into place at Prince George's Hospital Center in Cheverly. Women are allowed to give birth in a variety of positions as suggested by their traditional customs. More visitors are allowed in delivery rooms at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church. This is especially important to Latin American women who want their extended family nearby. Elita Rosillo-Christiansen, supervisor of multicultural initiatives at Inova, says, "Its extremely challenging, because you don't just have to worry about meeting the language or religious needs of one culture, but of multiple cultures and multiple beliefs and values surrounding health care." To meet the demand, hospitals have hired multicultural experts to run sensitivity workshops and to write internal guides to assist the medical staff in understanding how to relate to different traditions. Patti DiGiovanni, a nurse at Holy Cross, admits that there are challenges. However, she adds that the diversity has made her job more interesting and she has learned alot about other cultures even though she has not travelled outside the U.S.




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India Reborn in Silicon Valley
Posted on 2002/6/19 23:46:02 ( 557 reads )


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CALIFORNIA, USA, June 15, 2002: Indian entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley say they have done what their homeland could not: raise respect for itself. At an annual conference Friday put on by the Indus Entrepreneurs, speakers talked about how expatriate businessmen are helping transform the subcontinent's rigid, closed economy into a success. "India's struggle for economic freedom started in the Valley," Narayan Murthy, told the morning crowd of 2,400 investors, entrepreneurs and others hoping to tap into the powerful business network in Santa Clara. Founded in the Valley in 1992, the group now has 38 chapters and 8,000 members worldwide. Murthy, chairman of Infosys, a software services company, compared Indian entrepreneurs living abroad with Mohandas Gandhi, who began his peaceful struggle for India's independence from Britain while in South Africa. Likewise, Indian expatriates are bringing jobs and new ideas to their ancestral land. Even as it expands, the group hopes to maintain its distinct identity, for example with its mentoring program.




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Stories the Western Press Loves: "India Villagers Marry Off Two Donkeys"
Posted on 2002/6/19 23:45:02 ( 578 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, June 20, 2002: As if there is nothing better to report on in India, today's Associated Press carried this single story on Hinduism: "The drought-plagued residents of a small village in southern India organized a ceremonial wedding for two donkeys to appease the Hindu god of rain, a news report said Thursday. Dressed up like a bride and groom, the donkeys were escorted to a temple in the village of Sakkayanayakanur in Tamil Nadu state on Wednesday, the Press Trust of India reported. There, a local priest chanted prayers and led the donkeys in a ritual ceremony to propitiate the rain god, Varuna. The beasts were then led in a procession that ended with a wedding feast -- for the donkeys and local villagers. The donkey wedding was the second to be held in the small Indian village, which like much of the country has endured months of drought, aggravated by a heat wave that has claimed hundreds of lives. Temperatures in some areas have soared as high as 118 degrees. The seasonal monsoons, which feed the agricultural economy of Tamil Nadu, have started late in parts of southern India this year." No explanation of the custom is offered, nor whether past donkey marriages were followed by the lifting of a drought.




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Orissa Christian Tribals Reconvert to Hinduism
Posted on 2002/6/18 23:49:02 ( 565 reads )


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ROURKELA, ORISSA, June 18, 2002: Altogether 143 Christian tribals, belonging to 47 families, have been reconverted to Hinduism at an Atma Suddhi Yagna ceremony held at Tainsar village under Brahmanitaranga police station, about 30 km from here, police said. The ceremony to mark the reconversion of the tribals, belonging to the Oram community, was organized by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) on Sunday. The tribals, many among them women, attended the yagna after a bath and were provided new clothes. VHP sources said the tribals, who were Hindus, had been converted to Christianity and were returning to their original faith.




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