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Amarnath Pilgrims to Get Insurance Coverage
Posted on 2002/6/7 23:49:02 ( 577 reads )


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SRINAGAR, INDIA, June 6, 2002: The state government is thinking of allowing those who want to undertake the Amarnath pilgrimage to register their names through any of the branches of the Jammu and Kashmir Bank spread all over the country. Besides registration, there is a move to insure pilgrims for US$1,042 against death or physical disability suffered during the course of the pilgrimage through Metlife of J&K Bank. There will be a one-time premium of $0.42 for this insurance cover. The proposal is to make this facility available at all the 80 branches of the bank spread all over the country In the past, people were required to report at Jammu for registration and permission to undertake the pilgrimage to the Amarnath cave. Even if a counter would be functioning at Kashmir House in Delhi, there would be a law and order problem at the registration counter in Jammu. According to district development commissioner (DDC) Abdul Hamid Allaqaband, the yatra would commence on July 22 and end on August 22 with the carrying of Chadi Mubarak from Srinagar to the holy cave on Raksha Bandhan. Most of the pilgrims are allowed by the government to take the Pahalgam route. The Baltal route terrain is difficult and only some of the pilgrims take the Baltal route in Sonmarg. The DDC said the Baltal route track would be barricaded and fenced by iron-chains this year. Besides, the pony track would be widened. He said the joint control room of the core group will start functioning from July 10 at Ganderbal, Manigam, Kangan and Sonmarg Baltal. Hamid said that the number of pilgrims who take the Baltal route may go up to 1,500 this year from 800 last year. The yatra officer will earmark space for langers (kitchens) so that there is no confusion in setting up kitchens along the route, said Hamid.




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Problem-Solving Leaders Keep the Faith
Posted on 2002/6/7 23:48:02 ( 533 reads )


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BANGKOK, June 8, 2002: Religious leaders from all major faiths will assemble in the Thai capital next week to shape a program of community initiatives aimed at solving some of the world's pressing problems. The agenda for this summit has already singled out three broad global themes that demand the attention of heads of faiths: conflict resolution, poverty alleviation and combating environmental degradation. They also expect the first of many pilot projects to work with the United Nations and governments to come out of the religious confab. "We are going to launch a process here," says Bawa Jain, who was the secretary general of the UN-backed Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders in August 2000. For Jain, the link with the United Nations is key to this religious mission. "Religious leaders feel that the UN is the only neutral platform to confront major social challenges," he explains. The Bangkok meet is expected to underscore a greater need for religious leaders to step up their efforts in solving the more earthly problems than harping on religious differences. "We are not in the inter-faith business," asserts Jain. "Religious leaders can play a role in Asia to address social challenges."




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Religion Playing More Prominent Role at United Nations
Posted on 2002/6/7 23:47:02 ( 492 reads )


Source: Religion News Service





NEW YORK, NEW YORK, June 5, 2002: A recent study by the group Religion Counts says religious organizations are becoming more prominent at the United Nations and will continue to have a "potent" role in shaping future international public policy. "Religion has been a critical part of the UN since its inception and continues to offer a distinct dimension and voice here that other entities do not bring to international issues," said Philip Boyle, chief operating officer of the Chicago-based Park Ridge Center for the Study of Health, Faith and Ethics. Boyle was one of the authors of the report, "Religion and Public Policy at the United Nations." Beginning with the UN's 1994 International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, Egypt -- at which the Vatican, joined by several Central American and Muslim nations, and advocates of family planning and birth control publicly clashed -- and continuing with the ongoing series of UN conferences since then, religious-linked issues such as population, development and AIDS have been at the forefront at international forums. And while UN leaders, such as Secretary General Kofi Annan, have praised religion's "transcendent, spiritual dimension," it is also clear there is not a consensus at the UN on what the "religious voice" means or what the "appropriate role" of religion ought to be, the report concluded. One of the report's findings is that conservative Christian religious groups that once shunned the international body are enjoying increased prominence, as are non-Christian groups, such as Buddhists. "The religious ecology of the UN is more diverse than ever," the report said.




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Sri Lanka to Lift Ban on LTTE
Posted on 2002/6/7 23:46:02 ( 527 reads )


Source: www.rediff.com/news/2002/jun/07ltte.htm





SRI LANKA, June 8, 2002: Sri Lanka announced it would lift the ban on the Liberation of Tigers of Tamil Eelam ten days before the exact date for beginning direct talks with the rebels and said setting up an interim regime for the northeast would be the focus of such talks, along with steps to ensure human rights under it. The legal framework for de-proscription will be taken up for discussion when Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe returns from India," Cabinet spokesman G L Peiris said. The government's announcement may clear one major hurdle that has delayed direct talks with the LTTE, but it remains to be seen if the rebel group accepts the link between lifting the ban and fixing a date for talks. Wickremesinghe leaves for India on Saturday on a four-day trip to apprise Indian leaders, including President K R Narayanan, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and leader of the opposition Sonia Gandhi, about the status of his peace initiative and to discuss trade-related matters. The parties were now working on preparing an agenda for the talks with the help of Norwegian peace facilitators.




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Fiftieth Birthday Celebration for H.H. Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji
Posted on 2002/6/7 23:45:02 ( 607 reads )


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RISHIKESH, INDIA, June 3, 2002: June 3rd was the 50th birthday of HH Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji Maharaj (Pujya Muniji),the President and Spiritual Head of Parmarth Niketan Ashram, Rishikesh, India and also the founder/chairman of India Heritage Research Foundation, the international non-profit organization which is bringing out an Encyclopedia of Hinduism. A three-day Sadhana and Seva Camp was held from June 1-3 at Parmarth Niketan Rishikesh as part of the birthday celebrations. Among the many activities of the camp were, a special yoga and meditation class, Ganga puja, Ganga Seva clean up, planting of sacred trees, and a free Medical Health Camp for the local poor. For more information, e-mail "source" above.




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Three Hundred Lawsuits Filed Against Catholic Church in US Since January
Posted on 2002/6/7 23:44:02 ( 526 reads )


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US, June 8, 2002: At least 300 civil lawsuits alleging clerical sex abuse have been filed in 16 states since January, when the case of a pedophile priest in Boston spurred claims against Roman Catholic dioceses across America, a nationwide review by The Associated Press found. Lawyers say the rush of litigation is truly dramatic for such a short time, and that several hundred more cases are being informally mediated between dioceses and accusers. That ensures American bishops will remain under enormous legal and financial pressure from the scandal even after they overhaul their abuse policy in a meeting starting Thursday. "It's off the charts,'' said Pat Schiltz, a Minnesota attorney who has defended dioceses against hundreds of abuse claims. Chicago Cardinal Francis George may sell the mansion where the city's archbishops have lived for more than a century, acknowledging some of the proceeds could be used to pay legal fees in abuse cases. Almost 250 of the nation's more than 46,000 Roman Catholic priests have either been dismissed from their duties or resigned since the scandal began in January. Beyond the toll in loss of staff and credibility, the financial cost of these cases has never been fully calculated. Estimates of what the church has paid out since the first major scandals broke in the 1980s range from about $300 million to $1 billion.




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Queen Visits Her First UK Hindu Temple
Posted on 2002/6/6 23:49:02 ( 549 reads )


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LONDON, ENGLAND, June 6, 2002: Queen Elizabeth visited a Hindu temple for the first time in Britain and did so in her stocking feet. She removed her shoes as a sign of respect as she and the Duke of Edinburgh entered the Highgatehill Murugan Temple in Archway, north London. This temple was built by Tamil Hindus from Sri Lanka who immigrated to England. The UK press was apparently amazed she would remove her shoes, and the BBC even ran a photo of her stocking feet. The Queen was in the capital on the latest leg of her Golden Jubilee tour of the UK. After being welcomed with garlands of yellow flowers, the royal couple were blessed with peace and long life by four high priests. The visit was intended to show the inclusive nature of the monarchy and the Queen's respect for all religions in Britain, not just the Church of England, of which she is head. She has previously visited Hindu temples in India but it is the first time she has been to one in this country. Temple leader Suganya Naveenan said: "It's made people feel valued and we are honored she chose to come here." The Queen and Duke were entertained with a traditional dance by three barefooted girls. One child in the crowd, five-year-old Abeyan Ahilan, tugged the Queen's coat and she asked him: "Did you like the dancing?" Worshipper Perin Nathan said: "It's a recognition not only of the Hindu faith, but of the Tamil community, so we are very proud."




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Prince Philip Lambasted in UK Press for Remark During Temple Visit
Posted on 2002/6/6 23:48:02 ( 544 reads )


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LONDON, ENGLAND, June 7, 2002: The UK press article entitled "Joke of Edinburgh" sarcastically recounts the Queen's husband's gaffe during their visit to a Hindu temple yesterday: "Prince Philip put his foot in it yet again yesterday when he asked four Tamil high priests: 'Are you Tigers?' The Hindu leaders had to give the daft duke a lesson about Sri Lankan militant group the Tamil Tigers, who are behind several terrorist attacks. One told him: 'No we are priests. We are not associated with violence.' Philip's latest blunder came as he joined the Queen for a visit to the Highgate Hill Murugan Temple in north London. It was the first time the monarch has visited a Hindu temple in Britain. High priests lit candles and blessed their royal visitors in the Sanskrit language. Luckily, Philip's daft comment was met with laughter. Later, one of the priests said: 'We weren't offended. He was just joking.' Earlier, the Queen and Duke were decorated with garlands. Before the colorful visit, the Queen started her day at a bus depot in Willesden, north London. She met drivers and thanked them for helping to keep the capital moving during the weekend Jubilee celebrations."




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Hindu Ceremony Ends In Ayodhya
Posted on 2002/6/6 23:47:02 ( 541 reads )


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AYODHYA, INDIA, June 2, 2002: Thousands of Hindu nationalists prayed and marched Sunday here, winding up a 108-day celebration that was part of a campaign to pressure the government to let them build a temple at the site of the razed Babri Masjid. Nearly 10,000 police and military troops guarded the northern town of Ayodhya, where authorities feared Hindu-Muslim clashes. Devotees prayed at the site, where thousands of Hindu nationalist tore down the 16th century building in 1992. Hindus believe that the Hindu deity, Ram, was born at the site and that the Babri Masjid was built by Mogul emperor Babur after he ordered destroyed the temple marking the site. The mosque demolition set off riots that killed 2,000 people across India. Since then, Hindu hard-liners have campaigned to build a majestic temple on the site in Ayodhya. But the government has barred any construction on the disputed site until the country's Supreme Court gives its verdict on a large number of related petitions.




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Get in touch with Bali's cultural heritage
Posted on 2002/6/6 23:46:02 ( 596 reads )


Source: Jakarta Post





BALI, INDONESIA, June 6, 2002: Bali is a land rich in culture and archaeological remains, which provides a clue to the island's ancient civilization. One of the most comprehensive and important archaeological sites worth visiting is Pakerisan and Petanu riverbank areas in Gianyar, 40 kilometers northeast of Nusa Dua. The area is now being promoted by the Indonesian government to be included as a World Heritage Site designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The riverbanks are full of evidence of prehistoric monuments -- holy temples, old caves, reliefs, tombs and other important archaeological remains -- revealing hidden clues of ancient Balinese kingdoms and the dissemination of Hinduism and Buddhism in Bali. A short walk from Pakerisan river is one of the oldest caves called Goa Gajah, or the elephant cave, which has an amazing stone carving portraying an image of an elephant head. The cave's entrance is decorated by sumptuous figures of elephant faces. Inside, there is a centuries-old statue of Ganesha, son of Hindu's god of Siva. Gunung Kawi in Tampak Siring, north of Pejeng, is another significant site, which was known as the Valley of the Kings. Tucked into deep, 23-foot high niches in the cliffs are candi, temple facades with false doors leading to the "other world." The Water Palace in Klungkung, East Bali, home of Bali's most powerful kingdom, was most probably inspired by the formal palaces and temple water gardens in Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Thailand. Many water palace complexes are thought to represent the holy Mount Meru of Hindu cosmology.




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Krishnashankar Shastri Attains Mahasamadhi
Posted on 2002/6/5 23:49:02 ( 810 reads )


Source: Press Release





AHMEDABAD, INDIA, June 6, 2002: One of the great Vaishnava Saints of India, Shri Krishnashankar Shastriji (Pujya Dadaji), left his body on Monday June 3 in Ahmedabad. He was regarded as one of the spiritual heads of the Pushti Marga Vaishnava Sampradaya and served his whole life in rendering Bhagwat Katha's (commentary on scripture) throughout the world. Even in his old age, he has continued to travel to UK, USA and parts of Africa to perform Katha's, ceremonies and Temple openings. He was the inspiration behind one of the longest and most successful running educational institutes in India, the Bhagwat Vidyapith in Sola, near Ahmedabad. Throughout his life, he received many awards and titles, the most recent being the Brahmarishi Varya title awarded by Sandipani Vidyniketan to Pujya Dada on February 15, 2002.




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UNESCO Conference on Mystical Traditions Held in Spain
Posted on 2002/6/5 23:48:02 ( 638 reads )


Source: Press Release





CATATONIA, SPAIN, June 6, 2002: The UNESCO Association for Interreligious Dialogue and UNESCO Centre of Catatonia organized an international experts' conference from May 23 to 25, 2002, at Barcelona in collaboration with UNESCO. The general title of the conference was Mystical Traditions and Interreligious Dialogue. Discussions were held on The Worth of Diversity of Mystical Traditions, Interreligious Dialogue and its Relationship with Mysticisms, Mystical Experience as a Source of Ethical and Social Engagement and Mystical Experience as a Source of Environmental Engagement. Twenty-five persons participated and there were about fifteen observers. Swami Amarananda of the Vedanta Center, Geneva, and Prof. Arvind Sharma of Montreal represented the Hindu/Vedanta tradition. Bhaktidas and Jalil Barcena gave all a treat of Sufi and Hindu music on the evening of May 25.




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Goa's Catholics And Hindus
Posted on 2002/6/5 23:47:02 ( 580 reads )


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PANAJI, INDIA, June 2, 2002: The Portuguese may have created two different communities when they ruled the state of Goa but Catholics and Hindus here say that despite practicing different religions, they are ultimately Goans, at heart, according to this article. A majority of the Catholics here comprise those who converted from the dominant Hindu community. They make up 30 percent of Goa's total population of 1.4 million. But their traditions, lifestyle, cultures, food habits and attire remain similar to those of the Hindus. Converted through an inquisition order of the king in 1510 when the Portuguese invaded Goa, a decree forcibly converted the original natives and resulted in the destruction of many Hindu temples. A section of the Brahmin community was also forcibly converted and they later came to be known as Catholic Brahmins. Goan Catholics were later sub-divided into several castes, despite the fact that their religion does not follow any caste system. The old caste system is practiced covertly, especially while seeking marriage proposals. The communities take pride in the fact that Goa has never witnessed a communal riot.




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Bangkok Hindus Celebrate
Posted on 2002/6/5 23:46:02 ( 800 reads )


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BANGKOK, THAILAND, June 6, 2002: The Hindu Samaj will celebrate its 33rd anniversary on Tuesday, June 11, from 6 to 9pm. To mark the occasion, Swami Avadhesanand Giri, a spiritual leader, will preside over the celebration. For more information, call 02-225-1257.




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Fire Ceremony for World Peace in Tamil Nadu
Posted on 2002/6/5 23:45:02 ( 616 reads )


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KANCHIPURAM, INDIA, June 6, 2002: The Sri Kamakoti Ghatikasramam Trust is conducting a Sri Sudarshana Homam for World Peace and Prosperity at Srimatam from June 13 to 17, 2002. For details, click "source" above.




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