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Hindu Missionaries Head Overseas
Posted on 2002/10/14 8:49:02 ( 605 reads )

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DELHI, INDIA, October 11, 2002: Nearly 600 years after the first Christian missionaries landed in India, brahmin priests are being readied at a seminary near Delhi to take their religion worldwide and defend "the rights of Hindus against conversion." Religious organizations aligned with India's Hindu nationalist-led government, committed to preserving Hinduism in its purest and most traditional form, said the priests would try and dilute the influence of Christianity on expatriate Hindus. Three brahmin graduates from the Hindu Heritage Parishthan at Modipuram, 70 km. from Delhi, left recently for the United States, Singapore and Mauritius. Their missionary work amongst overseas Hindus will last at least a decade. "Well versed in ancient scriptures, these priests are expected to spread the virtues of Hinduism and perform rituals for the Indian diaspora," said Shashi Sham Singh, head of the seminary. All entrants to the Modipuram Seminary are required to be proficient in Sanskrit and have a working knowledge of English. During nine months of training, at the end of which they are awarded a diploma, they study ancient texts, learn to perform complicated Hindu rituals like marriages, child-naming ceremonies and death rites. They also recite lengthy and complicated Sanskrit prayers from memory. "It is not only Hinduism the priests are taught, but also other religions to enable them to counter Christian arguments."


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Tirtagangga Water Palace Lovingly Refurbished
Posted on 2002/10/14 8:48:02 ( 654 reads )

Source: Jakarta Post

JAKARTA, INDONESIA, October 3, 2002: Tirtagangga (literally meaning the blessed water of Ganga) Water Palace is located at Ababi village, north of Amlapura, the capital of Karangasem regency, around two hours drive from the island's capital, Denpasar. The five-acre complex was built in 1946 by the last King of Karangasem, as a royal bathing and leisure compound. Located in a scenic area, Tirtangga has been a favorite spot for both the members of the royal family and the local people. Tirtagangga consists of three levels. A small temple, swimming pool and two decorative ponds are situated on the highest level. The complex's center and main attraction, a towering eleven-tiered fountain which rises from a beautiful pond is located on the middle level. In 1963, Bali's largest and holiest mountain, Agung, located only 15 miles away, erupted, triggering a series of powerful earthquakes that severely damaged the complex. Today a comprehensive restoration program, aimed at reviving the initial beauty of the Water Palace, is being carried out by the grandsons and granddaughters of the last King of Karangasem. Along with the restoration of the water fountain, several new buildings will be added to the complex to provide space for exhibitions, conferences and a handicraft center. New plants and statues will be added and pools will be refurbished using the original Karangasem-style tiles. The project is scheduled for completion in 2006.


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Women's Peace Conference Decries Violence
Posted on 2002/10/14 8:47:02 ( 621 reads )

Source: Religion News Service

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND, October 10, 2002: The Global Peace Initiative of Women ended three days of meeting Wednesday, decrying all forms of violence and seeking to forge new strategies to bring peace to areas engulfed in conflict. Some 500 delegates from more than 75 nations ended the meeting with a statement, "The Geneva Declaration of Women for Global Harmony, Peace and Justice," that said they condemn "all forms of violence against women whether in the name of religion, custom or tradition, and call upon the world community to outlaw all inhumane and barbaric forms of punishment deployed against women." The meeting was generated by the Millennium World Peace Summit in August, 2000, which brought more than 2,000 religious and spiritual leaders to the United Nations in New York City. "The operative word is 'respect.' Respect means that you can't force anyone to pursue God in your way, and no one else can force you to pursue God their way," said the Rev. Vashti Murphy McKenzie, a bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church from Ellicott City, Maryland. "Education is key, for many women don't know their rights, even within their own families," said Joan Helpern, cofounder of Joan & David, and an adjunct professor at Columbia University. Delegates in Geneva, who repeatedly stressed that politics without spirituality is doomed to failure, called for a greater reliance on the power of prayer. They declared November 3 as a Worldwide Day of Prayer for Peace. On this day, women religious leaders across the globe will wear white ribbons and are asking their congregates and followers do the same.


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Tirupati Enlivens for the Festival of Brahmotsavam
Posted on 2002/10/14 8:46:02 ( 621 reads )

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TIRUPATI, INDIA, October 7, 2002: An estimated one million pilgrims flocked to the temple town of Tirumala, Andra Pradesh, last Monday to participate in the festival called Brahmotsavam. Honoring Lord Venkateswara and Goddess Padmavathi, the entire Tirupati hill was decorated in festival style. The presiding deity, Lord Venkateswara's utsava murthi was decorated with rare and dazzling diamond jewels. The Lord has been decorated with a golden vesthi which weighs more than 65 kg. diamond studded crown and other ornaments.


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Jail House Rocks With Bhangra-Rap
Posted on 2002/10/14 8:45:02 ( 627 reads )

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OXFORDSHIRE, ENGLAND, October 11, 2002: Multiculturalism finally entered the grim world of England's famously-austere Victorian prisons on Thursday, but it marched to the sweet tones of the sitar and sang in Hindi. Two Jalandhar boys -- one behind bars, the other strutting the world stage as creator of bhangra-rap -- brought India to hundreds of petty criminals, murderers and white collar criminals in the first Asian music festival inside a Western high-security prison. The concert, part of Britain's prison reform and rehabilitation drive, took Steve Kapur into Her Majesty's Prison Bullingdon. South Asian prisoners are doubly benefited, said Katy Lewis of the the charitable Irene Taylor Trust, adding that research had found "Indians don't normally participate in prison events, but such a festival also helps the white prisoners understand their culture." Some of the Hindu prisoners (there aren't many) have formed a bhajana group.


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Violence Targets Bangladesh Hindus Ahead of Navaratri
Posted on 2002/10/11 8:49:02 ( 659 reads )


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DHAKA, BANGLADESH, October 9, 2002: Police have detained ten people suspected of vandalizing eight statues of the Hindu goddess Durga at the Shivkarunamoyee Laxmi Narayan Jeu temple in Narayanganj, near the capital city of Dhaka. The temple's security guard and nine others have been detained on suspicion of vandalizing the statues, police said. Temple authorities said the attack might be linked to a long-running feud with local residents over temple land because on Saturday a court ruled the land belonged to the temple. Ahead of the festival, Bangladesh has detained more than 1,400 people in a security crackdown. State Minister for Foreign Affairs Reaz Rahman said security forces would guard 13,000 places of worship during the festival. "The people and the government of Bangladesh believe in and are deeply committed to communal harmony and equal rights to religious activities of all its citizens," Rahman said. Many non-Hindus participate in the festivities, and the main prayer day is a national holiday in Bangladesh, a Muslim-majority country. Nearly 88 per cent of the country's 130 million people are Muslims, 10 per cent are Hindus and the rest are Buddhists and Christians.




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Leicester Hindus Celebrate Navaratri
Posted on 2002/10/11 8:48:02 ( 665 reads )


Source: Leicester Mercury





LEICESTER, ENGLAND, October 4, 2002: Thousands of people will join the colorful celebrations next week marking the Hindu festival of Navaratri. The festival runs from Monday until October 15. The nine nights are dedicated to the three main Goddesses of Hinduism -- Parvati, Lakshmi and Saraswati. Visitors will travel nationwide to join huge parties at De Montfort Hall and the Ramgarhia Community Center, in Ulverscroft Road. Maganbhai Patel, the president of Leicester Hindu Festival Council, said Leicester's Navaratri festival is one of the best in the country. He said: "Leicester is a multicultural city with a strong Hindu community so people like to come here to celebrate. We have musical groups from India and our events are professionally arranged so that everybody is safe and happy." Smaller celebrations are planned at the city's temples, community centers and school halls where families and friends will dance and pray together.




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Curry May Treat Radiation Burns
Posted on 2002/10/11 8:47:02 ( 747 reads )


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ENGLAND, October 8, 2002: A spicy ingredient of many curries may be an effective treatment for radiation burns, according to a study. Researchers in the United States believe it may prevent skin blistering and redness associated with cancer radiation therapy. The compound, which gives the spice turmeric its yellow color, was effective in tests on mice. Turmeric is found in everything from mild Kurmas to the hottest Vindaloos. The crucial chemical -- curcumin -- has long been used as a traditional medicine. It is now being investigated for the treatment of colon cancer and Alzheimer's disease as well as burns. "If a nontoxic, natural substance can help prevent this damage and enhance the effectiveness of our radiation, that's a winning situation," said team leader Dr Paul Okunieff, chief of radiation oncology at the university. The spice is thought to work as an anti-inflammatory agent. It is said to have a number of other health benefits, such as aiding digestion and helping fight infection. Professor Andy Gescher of the department of Oncology at Leicester University, UK, is part of a team testing curcumin capsules on colon cancer sufferers. He believes there is anecdotal evidence to suggest that members of the Asian community in the city may be better able to resist colon cancer because they use the spice in cooking.




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Miss America Told to Stop Advocating Abstinence
Posted on 2002/10/11 8:46:02 ( 592 reads )


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WASHINGTON D.C., UNITED STATES, October 9, 2002: Miss America 2003, Erika Harold, Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Illinois, yesterday said pageant officials have ordered her not to talk publicly about sexual abstinence, a cause she has advocated to teenage girls in Illinois. "Quite frankly, and I'm not going to be specific, there are pressures from some sides to not promote [abstinence]," the 22-year-old woman from Urbana, Ill., told The Washington Times. In her first visit to Washington since winning the crown Sept. 21, Miss Harold resisted efforts by Miss America officials to silence her pro-chastity opinions. "I will not be bullied," Miss Harold said yesterday at the National Press Club. The pageant has tried for years to improve the image of Miss America to include brains as well as beauty, and now that they've succeeded, may be having trouble handling the results. Miss Harold has for years advocated premarital chastity, an ethical code equally valued by Hindus, in Illinois. After winning the Miss America crown, Miss Harold said a young girl from an inner-city Chicago school sent her an e-mail asking her to continue the abstinence campaign. "She said, 'You changed my life because of what you said, and now I made the decision to be abstinent.....I really hope that as Miss America you continue to share that because it changed my life and I think it can change lots of others.' "




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Astrological Calendar Released for Trinidad
Posted on 2002/10/11 8:45:02 ( 722 reads )


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PORT-OF-SPAIN, TRINIDAD, October 11, 2002: Dr. Bhoendradatt Tewarie, Campus Principal & Pro Vice-Chancellor of the University of the West Indies St. Augustine Campus, has endorsed the ninth edition of the Kashi Ka Patra for year 2003-2004. The Patra is a listing of all astrological information necessary for the year for calculating auspicious days, festivals, etc. Many in Trinidad had been using the listings for India, which are not accurate for Trinidad. In 1995 the Trinidad and Tobago version of the Patra was launched by Pundit Narendra Ragoonanan and his wife Ashwinee. For further information contact source above.




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Mata Amritanandamayi Devi Receives Gandhi-King Award
Posted on 2002/10/10 8:49:02 ( 615 reads )


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GENEVA, SWITZERLAND, October 7, 2002: The Gandhi-King Award for Nonviolence was presented to Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi (Amma) at the United Nations General Assembly Hall in Geneva in recognition of Her lifelong work in furthering the principles of nonviolence. Previous award winners include Nobel Prize honorees Kofi Annan (Secretary-General of the United Nations) in 1999 and Nelson Mandela (the former President of South Africa) in 2000. Jane Goodall, the British primatologist who won the Gandhi-King Award in 2001, presented the award to Amma in recognition of Her commendable work of spreading the message of love and peace throughout the world, and uplifting the poor and needy through the vast network of charitable institutions she has established. The ceremony took place in connection with the Global Peace Initiative for Women Religious and Spiritual Leaders, which has assembled over 1,000 delegates to the United Nations in Geneva. In her acceptance speech, Amma praised the work of both Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: "This award is in the name of two great beings who fearlessly devoted their lives towards the cause of peace, harmony and equality. Amma accepts this award on behalf of all those who pray and work for peace the world over. May this be an inspiration for people everywhere to redouble their efforts in bringing peace to our planet."




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Lord Ganesha Joins Ireland's Delhi Embassy
Posted on 2002/10/10 8:48:02 ( 639 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, October 7, 2002: Lord Ganesha has attracted new devotees in the capital and surprisingly in the embassy of Ireland, a predominantly Christian country. "Let Ganesha, considered to be a symbol of luck and prosperity instill confidence and shower blessings on hundreds of visa seekers who frequent the embassy," said the Ireland Minister of Trade and Commerce, Michael Adhern, unveiling the 3 x 4 foot black granite statue at the green embassy lawns today. The Minister who is on a trade visit said the installation of Ganesha will not only prove auspicious for the Irish embassy, but also link the cultures of India and Ireland. The Ambassador of Ireland, Philip Mc Donagh, who was instrumental in bringing the deity to the consulate, said during a visit to Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu, he was fascinated by the Ganesha statues made by Bhaskaran, a sculptor and ordered one for the embassy.




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Refresher Course for Durga Puja Priests
Posted on 2002/10/10 8:47:02 ( 627 reads )


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KOLKATA, INDIA, October 8, 2002: Bangiyo Purohit Sabha, an organization of priests, has organized refresher courses, Pourahitya Prashikshan Sibir, training for performing pujas (ritual worship), at Sobhabazar Rajbari to assist priests in performing the rituals of Durga Puja in a ''perfect and professional way.'' According to Sabha Secretary Ram Gopal Shastri, who also runs a Sanskrit academy at Thakurpukur, priest work has ceased to be an attractive profession for the younger generation. ''There is a serious need to train priests to perform the worship correctly,'' Shastri said, lamenting that most of the present-day priests lacked adequate knowledge in Sanskrit. ''Respect for the priests can be regained only when they perform the rituals with perfection and for that purpose, the refresher courses can be of great importance,'' he added.




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Temple Burnt, Idols Destroyed In Bangladesh
Posted on 2002/10/10 8:46:02 ( 576 reads )


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KISHOREGANJ, BANGLADESH, October 8, 2002: In the northern area of Kishoreganj, a temple was set ablaze and badly damaged Saturday. A leaflet left behind called for an end to "idol worship" and for a mosque to be built in the temple's place, the Sangbad newspaper reported. One day later, a group destroyed statues of deities, made ahead of the major Hindu festival of Durga Puja on Thursday, in Narayanganj near the capital Dhaka. Opposition leaders have alleged persecution of Bangladeshi Hindus since Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's Islamist-allied coalition swept into power last October. The government has denied any campaign against Hindus, who form about 12 percent of Bangladesh's 130 million-strong population, and has assured full security for the festival Thursday. The US State Department's 2002 International Religious Freedom Report said Bangladeshis "generally are free to practice the religion of their choice," but said police are often slow to assist minorities who are victims of crimes.




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Amnesty International Concerned about Attacks on Bangladesh Hindus
Posted on 2002/10/10 8:45:02 ( 668 reads )


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DHAKA, BANGLADESH, October 10, 2002: The Human rights watchdog Amnesty International has criticized Bangladesh, alleging large scale attack on the country's minority community, particularly Hindus. Expressing concern over human rights situation in Bangladesh, Amnesty said the attack against Hindus by Prime Minister Khaleda Zia-led Bangladesh Nationalist Party supporters increased after the October general elections for their perceived support to the Awami League.




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