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Three Thousand in Singapore Perform Fire Walk

Posted on 2003/10/16 8:47:02 ( 817 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 ( 803 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 ( 1071 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 ( 880 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 ( 846 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 ( 913 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 ( 856 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 ( 956 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 ( 873 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 ( 935 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.

Saints Accused in Mela Stampede Appear in Court

Posted on 2003/10/14 8:49:02 ( 842 reads )


NASIK, INDIA, October 8, 2003: The District Court here released on bail two mahants of Vrindavan's Swami Ishwarpuri Ashram -- Swami Gyanprakash and Mukeshdas -- against whom police had registered cases in connection with the stampede during the Kumbh Mela on August 27 in which 41 pilgrims were killed and more than 100 injured. "Judge N. V. Deshpande released both of them on bail yesterday, after they themselves appeared before the court in connection with the case," according to their advocate, Rajendra Bhutda, here today. Police had registered cases against two Mahants and 25 sadhus of the Jagnnath Khalsa for allegedly throwing silver coins in the city's Sardar Chowk locality while they were proceeding for Shahi Snan (royal bath) which caused a stampede of pilgrims to collect the coins. Twenty-nine pilgrims were killed and 118 were injured in the incident. HPI adds: Sadhus at the Mela dispute the police account of coins being thrown. The police, on their part, admitted to Hinduism Today shortly after the incident that poor management of the crowd flow was the underlying cause of the disaster, and remedial steps were immediately taken to ensure one-way flow of pilgrims on all major streets. The disaster happened where pilgrims in large numbers were expected to travel in both directions on the same street.

Hindus Honored in Malaysia

Posted on 2003/10/14 8:48:02 ( 978 reads )


KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, October 14, 2003: Nineteen Hindu-based organizations came together on Saturday to honor four outstanding Hindus with the Swami Vivekananda Award. They were Malaysia Hindu Sangam (MHS) president Datuk A. Vaithilingam, Hindu Dharma Mamandram former president Lt-Kol (R) K. Sathaya, businessman and philanthropist Tan Sri Hari Narayanan Govindasamy and MHS deputy president R. Thiagaraja. Both Vaithilingam and Hari Narayanan received the award for being conferred the Datuk and Tan Sri titles (national honors, like being knighted) respectively by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong earlier this year, while Thiagaraja was honoured for being named an Ambassador of Peace by the New York-based World Peace Society. Sathaya, who had authored several books on Hinduism, was accorded recognition for his decades of tireless work in propagating Hinduism among the young.

Animal Rights Activists Appeal to Orissa State Government to Stop Sacrifices

Posted on 2003/10/14 8:47:02 ( 940 reads )


BHUBANESHWAR, INDIA, October 6, 2003: The annual Durga festival celebrated by India's Bengali devotees culminated last week with the sacrifice of thousands of goats, sheep, and buffaloes. At the Manikeswari temple in eastern Orissa, 2,000 animals were sacrificed. Ambika Mohapatra animal rights activist says, "Animal sacrifice is illegal under India's Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act of 1960 and the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972. That means police should have stopped last week's sacrifices." However, Law Minister B.B. Hariharan claimed, "The state government took no action because the laws don't specifically ban sacrifice in Hindu temples and shrines. The government is seriously considering a ban on animal sacrifice during festivals. Legislation will be introduced in the state legislation soon." Meanwhile, People for Animals activists did file a petition earlier in 2003 in the Orissa High Court demanding a ban on animal sacrifice in Orissa's Hindu temples. No action has been taken so far. However in 2002, the High Court did ban animal sacrifice at a Hindu temple in the village of Sirla, located 30 miles north of Bhubaneshwar, after an appeal by local residents.

Legendary Singer Lata Mangeshkar Turns 75

Posted on 2003/10/14 8:46:02 ( 947 reads )


MUMBAI, INDIA, September 28, 2003: From humble beginnings when her musical abilities were used to support her mother and four younger siblings, Lata Mangeshkar's career escalated with each decade, culminating with the prestigious "Dada Saheb Phalke Award." In the 1940's, she acted in eight Hindi and Marathi films while she strived to become a playback singer ("recording artist" to Americans). After seven years she won her first break as a playback singer with Aap Ki Sewa Mein. The 1950's proved to be successful for the small-framed Lata who soared to new heights in playback singing when she became the unanimous choice of most music directors. During this decade, Lata composed music for Marathi film Ram Ram Pahune and even produced films. Teaming up with music directors Madan Mohan and Roshan, Lata's fame spread in the 1960's and in 1969 she received the Padma Bhushan award. In the seventies and eighties, Lata remained at the top in her career by collaborating with music directors Lasmikant Pyarelal, RD Burman and Kalyanji Anandji. After recently celebrating her 75th birthday at her south Mumbai residence, the white sari clad playback singer, with her mellifluous voice, occupies herself with a pet project in Pune, the Master Dinanath Hospital.

Britain Dazzled by Dussehra Festivities

Posted on 2003/10/13 8:49:02 ( 993 reads )


LONDON, ENGLAND, October 9, 2003: Indian communities across the world have celebrated Dussehra in different ways. In Slough, U.K., the effigies of the demon king Ravana, Kumbhakarna and Indrajit were burnt followed by a magnificent fireworks display. It was enjoyed by over two thousand people including the Mayor of Slough, Councillor Laurie Gleeson. An array of free entertainment kicked off soon after, including a fun fair, food stalls and games. The Dussehra festival in Slough is in its 18th year. This year a number of high profile people sent their best wishes including Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and local MP Fiona Mactaggart. The up-coming Diwali festivities, expected to be the biggest outside India, will conclude on the October 18 with a spectacular parade through the streets of Wembley. A float will be beautifully decorated in honor of the Goddess Lakshmi.

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