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Controversial UK Hindu prayer hall granted permission to continue services

Posted on 2003/8/7 9:44:02 ( 809 reads )

The Times

LONDON, ENGLAND, August 1, 2003: A Hindu prayer hall in Hounslow, England, has been granted permission to continue holding services for another three years. Residents of the area had complained of increased traffic and smell from spicy cooking and incense and had called for enforcement action to stop activities at the hall. But a decision was deferred three times. The Shree Jalarma Seva Trust, which conducts services and prayers at the hall, was granted permission last week to continue its activities with conditions attached by the Hounslow Central Area Planning Committee in a vote which split councillors. The issue began in 2001 when an outbuilding behind the Hussar Public House was first used for religious and social gatherings. The building was later extended, an extractor duct installed and a portable building erected without planning permission. Residents have continually complained about the noise of worshippers coming and going, driving the wrong way down a one-way street, noise from a PA system, the sound of drums and the smell of cooking and incense. The neighbors are upset. One lady who represented people on Gloucester Road was asked at the meeting if she likes curry. She replied that she probably likes curry and eats curry, but she doesn't want her curtains smelling of it. On July 24, council officers again called for an enforcement order at the Hounslow Central Area Committee meeting but councillors voted to grant the trust another three years to operate as a prayer hall. Councillor Bob Whatley, vice chair of the Committee, told the Times the committee had been split over the decision: "It was certainly far from unanimous. The idea is to try to work with them to find a more suitable site."

Amarnath, Symbol Of Indian Brotherhood

Posted on 2003/8/7 9:43:02 ( 1021 reads )

Press Trust Of India

AMARNATH, INDIA, July 31, 2003: Amarnath is one Hindu pilgrimage run and managed to a large extent by Muslims in the militancy-tormented Kashmir valley in the northern tip of India. Nearly the entire infrastructure back-up for the month-long annual Amarnath Yatra, in which devout Hindus trek the arduous terrain to pay obeisance to an annual ice formation as a symbol of Lord Siva, is provided by Muslims, making it what locals describe "as a symbol of Indian brotherhood." Mushtaq Ahmed sells religious items like photographs, saffron headbands and food for the yatra. He is one among more than a hundred Muslims who have set up a string of makeshift-shops in the run up to the cave selling religious items. Thousands of tentwallahas, horsemen and "pitthus" (luggage carriers) consider it their duty to ensure each pilgrim have the darshan of the Holy Lingam. They also call it their '"rozi-roti" (literally, "job and bread," like the expression "bread and butter") which enables them to earn and save for the rest of the year. Though community kitchens, set up at all major stops en route the cave shrine, have made the yatra a trifle easier, pilgrims concede that but for the locals who work as pony-men, tent-men and pitthus, the arduous 20-mile trek at 14,000 feet in the ice-clad Himalayas is impossible.

One Million Witness Puri Chariot Yatra

Posted on 2003/8/6 9:49:02 ( 733 reads )

Daily Pioneer

PURI, INDIA, August 2, 2003: The Grand road in Puri was crowded with people on Tuesday as nearly 1 million devotees turned up to witness the annual Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath and His two siblings, Balbhadra and Subhadra. The Deities were carried to their gaily decorated chariots amid the beating of drums and cymbals. The chariots began rolling following the ceremonial sweeping of their decks by Gajpati Divya Singhdeo, the maharajah of Puri, and the worship of the Deities by the Sankaracharya. This Rath Yatra has been one of the most expensive in history. Sources said the total expenditure was around US$400,000, which went into setting up amenities like toilets, water taps and first aid units for the pilgrims, besides feeding the huge contingent of policemen deployed to maintain law and order. Security was heightened in view of the perceived terrorist threat to the 12th century Jagannath temple. Orissa Armed Police were on 24-hour duty as were special anti-riot forces. Puri municipality had made special arrangements for pilgrims and tourists on the sea beach considered to be among the best in the country. Most of the tourists were seen taking a dip in the sea after they had pulled at least one of the three chariots.

300,000 Malaysian Hindu Students Attend Education Pilgrimage

Posted on 2003/8/6 9:48:02 ( 854 reads )

Press Reports

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, August 4, 2003: The annual Kalvi Yathrai (education pilgrimage) jointly organized by the Sri Murugan Centre (SMC) and the Sri Maha Mariamman Kovil Devastanam was held on the August 3, 2003, at the Batu Caves Sri Subramaniamswami Temple in Kuala Lumpur. Some 300,000 people comprising students and their families gathered at the foot of the 272-step Batu Caves temple (well known among Malaysians for its Thaipusam festival) since early in the morning to observe the pilgrimage. Participants started off with a mass meditation and prayer session. Included in the session was motivational talks given by students and SMC directors, including its founder, Dr. M. Thambirajah. The participants climbed the 272 steps up the hill to pay homage to Lord Muruga. SMC co-director L. Krishnan said that their main objective is to increase the number of Indian intellectuals in Malaysia by producing high academic achievers. Indian High Commissioner to Malaysia Veena Sikri and National Land Finance Co-operative Society chairman K. R. Somasundram attended the event.

Group Protests Police Involvement in Temple Burning

Posted on 2003/8/6 9:47:02 ( 838 reads )


SHAH ALAM, MALAYSIA, August 2, 2003: A group of Hindu devotees delivered a protest note to the Inspector General of Police, Norian Mai, today over alleged police involvement in the destruction and arson of a 100-year old temple in Shah Alam. The Sri Kalikamba Kamadeswarar temple, which served residents formerly living in the Ebor palm oil estate in Batu Tiga, was said to have been destroyed during the early hours of June 14 by a group of unidentified individuals, and witnessed by police officers. About 40 people, including Hindu activists and devotees of the Ebor temple, arrived outside the Bukit Aman police headquarters in Kuala Lumpur this morning to submit their joint letter of protest.

Honoring Two Great Civil Rights Legends

Posted on 2003/8/6 9:46:02 ( 765 reads )


MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE, July 31, 2003: The East Indian community in Memphis has found an inspiring way to give back to their community. After raising US$100,000, they have funded an exhibit where the exemplary lives of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King can be remembered. To inaugurate the opening of the exhibit, India's ambassador to the United States, Lalit Mansingh, was invited to the National Civil Rights Museum. It is known that Martin Luther King modelled his civil rights campaign of nonviolent passive resistance upon Gandhi's tactics. In King's words, "Gandhi was inevitable. If humanity is to progress, Gandhi is inescapable....We may ignore him at our own risk." Gandhi's life has been captured in video segments and in text on wall panels where patrons can view the exhibit when they exit from the museum's main galleries. Beverly Robertson, museum executive director says, "The exhibit is a perfect fit for the museum's expanded focus from civil rights to the broader umbrella of human rights." Dr. Benjamin Hooks, museum chairman adds, "Mahatma Gandhi was perhaps the pre-eminent gospel of the nonviolent movement....King was a student of the nonviolent movement." April, 2003, marked the 35th anniversary since Martin Luther King's death and the exhibit was established to honor the ties between the two civil rights legends.

Coke, Pepsi Full Of Pesticides, Says Study; Companies Deny It

Posted on 2003/8/6 9:45:02 ( 821 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, August 5, 2003: In findings, hotly contested by global giants Coke and Pepsi, the Center for Science and Environment (CSE) picked up three bottles each of 12 soft drink brands from the two companies from Delhi and found they contained a "deadly pesticide cocktail" which exceed European norms by around 11 to 70 times. But these do not breach Indian laws which, said the CSE, are weak or non-existent. Rivals Coke and Pepsi, accused of "double standards," came together to challenge CSE's testing methods. They sought an independent scientific inquiry into the matter, while claiming that their products were safe and world-class. Our products are tested locally, in accredited labs, and internationally, said Coke and Pepsi chiefs Sanjeev Gupta and Rajeev Bakshi respectively. Both companies claim that they operate within European and American norms with "top-grade testing, top-grade products." CSE chief Sunita Narain said sample bottles picked up from the US showed no trace of pesticides. However, CSE found high individual pesticide residues in the Delhi samples: An average of 15 times higher for DDT and metabolites; 21 times higher for lindane; 42 times higher for chlorphyrifos; 87 times higher for malathion. On the list, all allegedly breaching the norms, were Coke, Pepsi, Thums Up, Fanta, Mirinda Orange, Mirinda Lemon, Seven Up, Limca, Blue Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Diet Pepsi and Sprite.

HPI has contacted the USA Coca-Cola company, whose representative is finding out for us the name of the independent labs that tested the product. The USA Coca-Cola company said, "Coca-Cola and Pepsi products made in India are regularly tested in world-class laboratories, including for the four pesticides named in the CSE report. The products meet North American and European standards. Stringent quality monitoring takes places at the manufacturing plants both of source water and finished product, and internationally and locally accredited laboratories conduct regular testing."

Corrected URL: Four-Year Old Recalls a Previous Lifetime

Posted on 2003/8/6 9:44:02 ( 854 reads )


CHANDNER, GHAZIABAD, August 1, 2003: Recalling his previous life in perfect detail, four-year-old Aishwary was taken by his parents in this life to meet his former family. At first, his father of this life was skeptical about the four-year old's stories, but he finally decided to look into the child's reminiscences. After contacting the villagers of Kamalpur to confirm Aishwary's details of his former life, the child's father of this life confirmed that Aishwary had been Vir Pal, an electrician who died on July 27, 1997. When Aishwary was taken by his father to meet his former family, he was able to recognize his former wife, children, uncle, aunt and his old friends. As a result, Aishwary has been the center of attraction in his village.

HPI adds: The above URL is corrected for this story. Other URL's yesterday for some reason brought up pages of text with the HTML code visible, but they were the correct stories.

Kaua'i Temple Rising

Posted on 2003/8/3 9:49:02 ( 896 reads )


KAUAI, HAWAII, July 31, 2003: San Marga Iraivan Temple, rising on the grounds of the 33-year-old Saiva Siddhanta Church monastery, (also home of Hinduism Today and HPI) is built of Indian white granite and formed by Indian stonemasons. It is fulfilling the vision of the late Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, known to his followers as Gurudeva, founder of the church and its monastery. Hindu pilgrims from around the world are arriving daily to worship at the edifice. The temple has been several years under construction and has at least seven more years before it is complete. Its designers intend it to last 1,000 years. Its concrete foundation, 68 feet by 168 feet and 3 feet thick was designed not to crack, even under the estimated 3.2-million-pound load of a massive granite temple structure. The granite is being hand-quarried by 70 stonemasons near Bangalore in India. Beams and blocks of stone are carved there, then shipped to Kaua'i. Final shaping and fitting is done on site by a team of Indian masons under the supervision of master builder Shanmugan Sthapati. The heart of the temple has a special chamber that will contain a 700-pound crystal called the Sivalingam, which now is in the monastery's smaller Kadavul temple. San Marga Iraivan is a Chola-style temple of the southern part of India. It is dedicated to the Hindu god, Siva. "Gurudeva envisioned it as a place of pilgrimage," said Gurudeva's successor, Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami. "Hindus are encouraged to take a pilgrimage annually to a distant place. This is a convenient location for North American Hindus. Already we have lots of people coming every month."

Digging up the Saraswati River to Reveal Ancient Cultural Sites

Posted on 2003/8/3 9:48:02 ( 680 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, July 26, 2003: In an attempt to uncover ancient Hindu cultural sites, the Indian government, in collaboration with the Department of Tourism, has started excavating along the legendary Saraswati River from Haryana to Gujarat. The task is an arduous one in a land where the local people are often not aware of the value of their heritage and artefacts from cultural sites are often smuggled out of the country. Tourism Minister Jagmohan says, "We are shortly coming up with an amendment to the existing legislation on protection of antiques and arts which will make illegal trafficking a cognisable offense and give police the powers of seizure." As they forge ahead with the excavation, it is expected that treasures, such as abandoned towns and inhabitations from the Harappan civilization dating well before 3000 bce, will be revealed. The Tourism Department has grand plans to house the artefacts uncovered in museums to attract tourists. Communities along the dried up river have been encouraged to keep the environment around the heritage sites clean. After Jagmohan addressed an interactive meeting organized by UNESCO about the heritage sites, Indian-born Australian Amareswar Galla commented, "As long as you have poverty, you will have problem with dealing illicit trafficking in cultural property, be it India or elsewhere."

Four-Year Old Recalls a Previous Lifetime

Posted on 2003/8/3 9:47:02 ( 766 reads )


CHANDNER, GHAZIABAD, August 1, 2003: Recalling his previous life in perfect detail, four-year-old Aishwary was taken by his parents in this life to meet his former family. At first, his father of this life was skeptical about the four-year old's stories, but he finally decided to look into the child's reminiscences. After contacting the villagers of Kamalpur to confirm Aishwary's details of his former life, the child's father of this life confirmed that Aishwary had been Vir Pal, an electrician who died on July 27, 1997. When Aishwary was taken by his father to meet his former family, he was able to recognize his former wife, children, uncle, aunt and his old friends. As a result, Aishwary has been the center of attraction in his village.

Circus Must Answer Animal Cruelty Charges

Posted on 2003/8/3 9:46:02 ( 826 reads )


WASHINGTON, DC, July 31, 2003: The nation's largest circus will have to defend itself against charges that it mistreats elephants that perform under the big tent. A federal judge has declined to dismiss a lawsuit by animal welfare groups claiming Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus has abused Asian elephants in violation of the Endangered Species Act. The groups claim circus employees routinely beat the elephants with sharp bull hooks, keep elephants in chains for long periods of time and forcibly remove baby elephants from their mothers before they are properly weaned. The suit was filed in 2000 by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Animal Welfare Institute, The Fund for Animals and Tom Rider, a former Ringling Bros. elephant trainer.

"Hello, My Name is GoVeg.com"

Posted on 2003/8/3 9:45:02 ( 828 reads )


CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, July 31, 2003: Changing her name legally from Karin Robertson to GoVeg.com has had just the effect the 23-year-old, employed by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, has wanted. Whenever she presents her driver's license at an airport, bank or anyplace else, a conversation is initiated about the benefits of vegetarian food or the treatment of animals on farms and in processing plants. GoVeg.com's mom and dad are supportive of her decision to change her name and her mother says, "I think she has a good reason for doing what she's doing." Her father regularly eats vegetarian food since having triple bypass surgery two years ago. GoVeg.com appreciates the full use of her name, without shortening it to "GoVeg" or "Dot."

Move Over Superman, Now Comes Hanuman

Posted on 2003/8/3 9:44:02 ( 820 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, July 24, 2003: The Cartoon Network, an entertainment channel owned by the Turner Entertainment Network, is coming out with an animated series 'Hanuman-the Monkey God' next year for India. As the powerful saviour who is going to save the world from demons, Hanuman, is all set to give a tough competition to Western counterparts like He-Man and Superman. The concept remains the same as in the original but the story is set in the modern world, an imaginary place called Westport,where Hanuman saves the protagonists Chandler and his sister Maya from Rock Shasa, the modern Rakshasa (demon). Conceived and designed by leading animator Atul Rao, the pre-production of the 13-episode series will be over in a two weeks and move on to fore-production in 19 weeks, says Toonz President and CEO, Bill Dennis. More than 400 people are engaged in the project. The Adventures of Hanuman was part of Toonz's plans to tap the rich treasure house of Indian myths, classic and folk tales, with a series on the redoubtable court prankster Tenali Rama already in its final stages, says Dennis. "The legends of Hanuman are known not in India alone. In China, he is known as Shun Wu Kong, the wind monkey. In Thailand, he is the central character in Ramakiya, the country's most popular folk tale," Dennis said.

August Festivals and Resources

Posted on 2003/8/3 9:43:02 ( 883 reads )


KAUAI, HAWAII, August 3, 2003: Our thanks to M P Bhattathiry (mpmahesh@asianetindia.com) for providing the following list of festivals and related resources. In this month, August 2 is Naag Panchami, 4 is Tulsidas Jayanti, 12 is Raksha Bandhan, 15 is Sri Aurobindo Jayanti, 19 is Sri Krishna Jayanti, 31 is Ganesh Chaturthi.

1.Sri Aurobindo's words - excerpts from the book India's Rebirth. It has helped me understand India.


2. Significance of Sri Krishna Jayanthi - source

3. Significance of Ganesh Chaturthi - source

4. Enshrining Ganesha - published by Jnana Prabhodini. This piece gives the manual of worship of Shri Ganesha, the rites to be performed before the immersion of the image. source

5. Sacred Trees of the Hindus - by Dr Satish Kapoor. Gives mythological & social linkages.


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