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Thousands Throng Diwali Celebration in New York

Posted on 2003/10/13 8:48:02 ( 776 reads )


NEW YORK, USA, October 10, 2003: Thousands took part in a Diwali gala in New York that saw a bit of everything -- food, craft, a photo exhibition, a health fair, cultural show and a colorful fireworks display. The annual "Festival of Lights" was held at Lower Manhattan's South Street Seaport. Over 100,000 people visited the 70 vendors and booths of the day-long festival and enjoyed this year's theme of "Peace on Earth," said a press release from the organizers, the Association of Indians in America. Among the guests were New York City Council members Gale Brewer, Alan Gerson and John Liu.

Propagating Hinduism in Bali

Posted on 2003/10/13 8:47:02 ( 923 reads )


BALI, INDONESIA, October 8, 2003: Dr. Somvir of the faculty of Udayana University in Bali is an academic, a Hindu missionary and an Indian in love with Indonesia. He says his mission in life is to spread Hindu values, come what may. Somvir is a popular figure in Bali. He hails from Haryana in India and studied at Delhi University. When he married a Balinese lady a year and a half ago, the wedding was solemnized at the residence of the Bali governor, no less. He has been given two hectares of land to start a gurukul, a boarding school modelled on Hindu lines, to cater to some 400 students. The gurukul, to be built in 2004, will teach modern subjects as well as Sanskrit, English and local languages. Somvir has opened a yoga centre at Bali's Maha Saraswati University. "There is tremendous interest in Hinduism and, in particular, Ramayana in Bali," Somvir said. So, he is putting together a dictionary of 2,000 words from Bhasa Indonesia and the old Javanese language that owe their origin to Sanskrit.

New Initiative Teaches Kids About Animal Sentience

Posted on 2003/10/13 8:46:02 ( 809 reads )


USA, October 7, 2003: Mourning elephants, altruistic lions and compassionate cows are at the heart of a unique new initiative by Compassion in World Farming Trust (CIWF Trust) to encourage a different approach to understanding the role of animals in society by understanding their inner minds and feelings. A website and interactive forum at animalsentience.com have been launched by the organization with the aim of demonstrating to young people that animals have inner feelings and emotions. The site looks at examples in pets, farm animals and wild animals. Covering diverse topics such as the relationship between a cow and her calf, how dolphins grieve for a partner, how bees sacrifice themselves to protect the hive and the intelligence of chickens, the materials are designed to provoke thought and discussion. Revd Professor Michael Reiss from the Institute of Education, London University, endorsed the approach. "Changing society's views about animals is vital if we want to improve animal welfare," Professor Reiss said.

No Reward for Pujaris' Prayers

Posted on 2003/10/13 8:45:02 ( 764 reads )

The Daily Pioneer

INDIA, October 5, 2003: Pujaries have been invoking Maa Durga on behalf of others for decades, but their prayers are yet to be answered. While most manage to keep on in their profession, their progeny are not willing to take up priesthood anymore. Their sole complaint -- thousands are spent on decorating the puja pandals (worship places set up for the Durga festival), thousands are spent on clothes, jewelry and travel for puja, but the priests have to struggle with clients to get their due. "In pujas at any home we spend two to three hours per house while chanting the slokas, but what we get is merely US$2 to $10," says priest Bhanuprasad Pandey. The priest at the various puja pandals fare slightly better and may earn up to $40 for their services of nine days -- which is one of their best jobs for the year. The poor payments are discouraging the younger generations. "If we offer puja in two to three houses during Durga Puja, we hardly earn around $10 to $20. Even a laborer gets $2 per day. What is the benefit of carrying out this traditional job when it is unable to feed our family?" asks priest Navin Dubey. At the famous Baidyanath Temple of Deogarh, where more than three million people visit every year, the next generation of Pandas has gone into other professions like rickshaw-pulling, working in shops as laborers, etc.

Hindus Protest Toronto Star Photograph of Goddess Durga Icon

Posted on 2003/10/12 8:49:02 ( 969 reads )


TORONTO, CANADA, October 9, 2003: On the occasion of the festival of Dussehra last week, the Toronto Star published a photo of an icon of Goddess Durga which was nearly finished but unclothed. An icon in this state would never been shown in public. These large statues are worshipped for the festival and then placed in the river or ocean. They are elaborately clothed and decorated before being taken out to the temporary temples where they will be worshipped during the celebrations. The photo was part of a set of photos of festival preparations made available by Reuters. The India Cause website ("source") has the photo and protest information.

Vietnam Festival Includes Ancient Hindu Temple

Posted on 2003/10/12 8:48:02 ( 774 reads )


CHAM VILLAGE, VIETNAM, September 25, 2003: The Cham ethnic group's Kate Festival opened at the Cham Village in Phuoc Huu commune, Ninh Phuoc district, Ninh Thuan province, on Wednesday. The festival, held annually on the first ten days of the seventh month of the Cham Calendar, is an occasion for the Cham people to express their gratitude to their God, who is both creator of the universe and a national hero. Aside from a ritual performance in traditional Cham costumes, this year's Kate Festival also includes cultural exchange activities and the Cham's traditional and modern sporting contests. This contest will draw 715 Cham athletes and craftsmen from Ninh Phuoc, Ninh Hai and Ninh Son districts, and Phan Rang-Thap Cham Township. They will compete in volleyball, football, tug of war and relay races and traditional sports events such as brocade making and water jug wearing. HPI adds: The yearly Kate festival attracts thousands of Cham people to the ancient Hindu hill temple of Po Klaung Gerai. Their brahmin priests perform abhishekam of the Mukhalinga while Cham music and folk dance are performed in the temple courtyard. Click for more on the events here.

ShivaBot Hit of Robot Show

Posted on 2003/10/12 8:47:02 ( 819 reads )


NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, July 15, 2003: Not all robots look and act like the Terminator. The idea behind ArtBots, billed as a talent show for robots, is to show kids of all ages the softer side of bots. Fear of potentially rabid robots and other supposedly sentient technology is what motivated ArtBots organizers to host the show held in New York City recently. The show brought together 23 robots whose talents ranged from creating art to inspiring affection from passersby. "I thought that there was an awful lot of attention focused on violent, competitive aspects of robotics," said Douglas Repetto, one of the curators of ArtBots: The Robot Talent Show. "It's important to me to make the point that a given technology doesn't have a given purpose or application," Reppetto said. "It's humans who decide what to use technology for and who get to decide how this technology is applied to their life." Some of the talents displayed by the robots were pretty impressive. BabyBott looked like a giant baby bottle and cooed when it was cuddled. Its talent: making people take care of it. Another robot, Tribblation, has hundreds of pressure, temperature, sound and light sensors, enabling it to respond to stimuli like compliments and stroking. The crowd's favorite was ShivaBot, a four-armed, 6-foot-tall robot modeled after the Hindu deity Shiva. ShivaBot, plays electronic drums, bells, chimes and cymbals.

Multinationals Eyeing Patent On Rudraksha

Posted on 2003/10/12 8:46:02 ( 843 reads )


KOCHI, INDIA, October 5, 2003: A multinational pharmaceutical company is understood to have initiated steps to gain patent rights over rudraksha, the seed of the tree known as Elaeocarpus ganitrus, in botanical terms. Another international jewelry firm has reportedly come up with diamond-studded rudraksha ornaments, says this article. The rudraksha seed is used in Ayurvedic medicines for curing psychiatric disorders, hypertension and gastrointestinal diseases. The tree is generally found in the Himalayas, Nepal, Varanasi, Hawaii, Australia, etc. The fully-grown fruit in dried form, known as bead, appears in multi-faces or 'mukhas' due to the dividing lines from one side to the other. The value of the rudraksha depends on the number of faces it possesses. Ancient sages wore rudraksha beads. The beads are believed to give peace of mind and more inner strength. Like neem, tulsi and turmeric, the biomedical properties of rudraksha are being studied worldwide. The use of rudrakshas has been increasing for the past few years, according to Tanay Seetha, founder of Rudralife, an organization for the propagation of rudraksha. HPI adds: For some reason, this article in Chennai's The Hindu states the practice of wearing rudraksha has been "followed by prominent politicians, bureaucrats and others." It is the practice of all devout Saivites to wear rudraksha beads and hardly limited to politicians or bureaucrats.

Giant Laddoo for Hanuman

Posted on 2003/10/12 8:45:02 ( 921 reads )


JHAROLI, INDIA, October 4, 2003: Dozens of sweetmeat makers in Baikunth Dham in Uttar Pradesh are making a massive 11,100 kg laddoo (Indian sweet ball) to distribute to devotees of Hanuman after the effigy of the demon king Ravana is set on fire on Dusshera this year. Last year they made a laddoo of 2,100 kilograms, said Swami Ramanand Chaityna, chief of the Dham. This year's 11-feet high laddoo consists of 2,700 kg besan (gram flour), 5,500 kg sugar, 220 tins ghee (clarified butter) and 150 kgs dry fruits said Swami. The laddoo is embellished with gold ornaments, covered with silver foils and kept on a trolley. Residents of the Dham want to see Jharoli's name in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Permission Refused for Mass Conversion of Dalits to Buddhism

Posted on 2003/10/8 8:49:02 ( 861 reads )


VADODARA, GUJARAT, October 5, 2003: The mass conversion of Dalits ("Untouchables") to Buddhism ended quietly today with the Vishwa Boudh Sangh forced to make the conversion ceremony a "dharma sabha" (meeting on dharma) following refusal of permission by the Vadodara district administration under the new Anti-Conversion Act in force in Gujarat. Under the Act no permission can be given unless the converts apply individually giving details of their names and addresses to enable the authorities to ensure that they were not under any pressure or had not been lured to change their religious faith. Though the Sangh national general secretary, Bhante Sanghapriya, said he did not see any difference between a "conversion ceremony and dharma sabha," no rituals were performed to convert the few thousand Dalits at the Military Boys Hostel ground here today. They, however, took the "oath" administered by the Sangh national president, Buddhapriya Rahul, that they would follow Buddhism and not consider themselves Hindus. The conversion ceremony was earlier postponed twice by the Sangh.

Abridged Script for Hindu Wedding Available

Posted on 2003/10/8 8:48:02 ( 2061 reads )


KAUAI, HAWAII, October 8, 2003: In response to an earlier request for a Vedic Wedding Script, Mahamandeleshvara Swami Veda Bharati has send us the document at "source" above. The introduction reads: "An Abridged Version of the Vedic Wedding Ceremony translated by Swami Veda Bharati. The celebration of a full traditional ceremony make take between four hours and four days. Here only the most important aspects are included in the ceremony, which is expected to take approximately 55 minutes.

"The ceremony is performed in the Sanskrit language, the senior sister of Latin and ancient Greek, which is the most ancient surviving language of the Indo-European language family. As Latin is the sacred language of the Roman Catholic Church, and Greek is the sacred language of the Eastern Orthodox Churches, so Sanskrit is the sacred language of the ceremonies performed in India. The form of the ceremony was set approximately 35 centuries ago, and it continues to be followed to this day. The Mandala designs of the altar are symbolic of Divine forces which are invoked at this time. The offerings of incense and melted butter, or ghee, are made into a sacred fire which symbolizes the Divine Light."

For more information please write to : Swami Veda Bharati at the Meditation Center (info@themeditationcenter.org) or Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama (srsg@sancharnet.in)

French Web Site on "Sacred Science"

Posted on 2003/10/8 8:47:02 ( 381 reads )


KAUAI, HAWAII, October 8, 2003: The Science Sacree website at "source" traces its roots to the work of Rene Verdon, an early French Vedantist. The site is available only in French at this time. HPI would appreciate it if someone could occasionally send us English summaries of useful articles.

The Sacred Aum Sound

Posted on 2003/10/8 8:46:02 ( 838 reads )


KAUAI, HAWAII, October 8, 2003: Swami Amarananda of the Centre Vedantique in Geneva (amarananda@bluewin.ch), Switzerland, writes, "In reference to the query in regard of the discovery (of a low sound emanating out in a galaxy) by Chandra Observatory. Swami Vivekananda used to say, on the basis of his experience, that one coming to the normal state of consciousness from a deep samadhi listens to the sound of AUM. I have seen in the sixties of the last century a great yogi (a disciple of the Holy Mother Sarada Devi) who had almost a constant experience since 1911 of hearing an AUM sound rising from the navel upwards. Sri Sarada Devi said that the said Aum sound is the Anahata one."

Swami adds that in Aachen, under the auspices of the community of Sant Egidio based in Rome, an inter-religious meeting was held from September 7-9. Much of the deliberations were held in the spacious Eurogress of Aachen. More than 300 people from different religions and traditions gathered together. Hinduism was represented by the sociologist Mr. R. Srivastava from India and Swami Amarananda.

The Great Hindu Kingdoms of Indonesia

Posted on 2003/10/8 8:45:02 ( 996 reads )


INDONESIA, October 8, 2003: This interesting article on the history of Hinduism in Indonesia ("source" above) begins, "Over 400 years ago most of East Java was exactly like Bali is today. Prior to 1815 Bali had a greater population density than Java, suggesting its Hindu-Balinese civilization was even more successful than Java's. When Sir Stamford Raffles wrote his History Of Java in the early 19th century, he had to turn to Bali for what remained of the once-great literature of classical Java. Even today Bali provides scholars with clues about India's past religious life, clues which long ago vanished in India itself.

"Bali first came under the influence of Indic Javanese kings in the 6th to 8th centuries. The island was conquered by the first documented king of Central Java, Sanjaya, in 732; stone and copper inscriptions in Old Balinese have been found that date from 882 CE. From the 10th to the 12th centuries, the Balinese Warmadewa family established a dynastic link with Java. Court decrees were thereafter issued in the Old Javanese language of Kawi and Balinese sculpture, bronzes, and other artistic styles, bathing places, and rock-cut temples began to resemble those in East Java. The Sanur pillar (914 CE), partly written in Sanskrit, supports the theory that portions of the island were already Indianized in the 10th century. Bali's way of life was well defined by the early part of the 10th century. By then, the Balinese were engaged in sophisticated wet- rice cultivation, livestock breeding, stone- and woodcarving, metalworking, roof thatching, canoe building, even cockfighting. The Balinese of the time were locked into feudal genealogical and territorial bondage. They were subjects of a Hinduized ruler -- one of a number of regional Balinese princes -- who himself acknowledged the sovereignty of a Javanese overlord..."

Britons Marks Dusshera-Diwali

Posted on 2003/10/7 8:49:02 ( 819 reads )


LONDON, U.K. October 4, 2003: A cake in the form of a mini football pitch, hip henna tattoos to accessorize Brit-Indian costume chic, dozens of advertisements for 'Diwali-dinner-and-dance' evenings, thousands of twinkling tea lights. Six-hundred people meeting every night during Navaratri in Bradford, U.K. to dance the garba. An English town hall, ceremonially 'switching on' its Diwali lights and a Guinness Book of Records entry for the biggest, post-Diwali Annakut Utsav anywhere in the world. Welcome to the Dusshera-Diwali season, part of the range of Britain's newly-designated multi-cultural "autumn festivals." As with expatriate communities everywhere, the theme is that ultimate paradox -- traditional-contemporary. And it comes with a quick muttered prayer for the two festivals conveniently to fall on a weekend. The mood is upbeat, as Britain's 1.8 million Indians are borne along on a rising tide of Western interest in Bollywood and Pashmina shawls. For Girish Patel, festival organizer at London's Swaminarayan temple, the biggest Hindu temple in England, the Diwali countdown is his busiest time. And with every year it seems to be getting busier. "From now, till Diwali, I spend every evening with 60 or 70 people, including my family in the temple, making up 60,000 boxes of prasad to be given to those who visit the temple on Diwali," Patel tells STOI. In a thrifty token of India, the plastic prasad boxes and gift calendars are imported from India, along with tons of fireworks from China.

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