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Masroor Temple: a Pearl of the Devbhoomi

Posted on 2003/9/6 9:49:02 ( 990 reads )


DHARAMSALA, INDIA, August 31, 2003: Himachal Pradesh has the reputation for being the land of Gods and Goddesses and is known as Devbhoomi. The state has many historical and modern temples of various sects. The Masroor temple located in the Jawali sub-division of Kangra district, around 35 miles from Dharamsala, is one such temple. The rock-cut temple is a unique example of monolithic structure in the sub-Himalayan region. The beautiful and complex structure of this temple stands on a hill crest and was erected around the 8th century. In the center of the complex stands the main temple, the most elaborate carved shrine, the Thakurdwara that enshrines the black stone images of Lord Ram, Sita and Laxmana facing east. According to archaeological evidence, it appears this temple was originally dedicated to Lord Siva but after a 1905 earthquake, it was converted into the abode of Lord Rama. The exact period of the construction of the temple is not certain, however, on the basis of architecture and sculptural decoration, this temple has been assigned a date somewhere between 8th and 9th century AD. Because of its architecture and sculptural importance, the Masroor temple was declared a protected monument of national importance by the Archaeological Department of India. The locals are allowed to offer prayers only on two big days of Ram Navami and Janamashtmi and have to buy a ticket like other tourists to go inside on other days of the year.

Nepal Goddess Kumari a Rare Sight

Posted on 2003/9/6 9:48:02 ( 858 reads )


KATHMANDU, NEPAL, September 5, 2003: Next Tuesday, tourists in Nepal will have the rare opportunity of seeing a living Goddess. Normally, the Kumari appears for tourists through an intricately carved window at her residence in the Hanumandhoka palace square. But for the past six months six-year-old Preeti Sakya -- the living Hindu Goddess or Kumari -- has been hidden away because of a row with the Kathmandu municipality. Her guardians say she should receive a fair share of the fee tourists pay for entry to the historic palace square. Municipal officials say they have to use the proceeds of the US$2.50 fee to maintain the world heritage-listed site. For one day, at least, tourists will be able to see the Kumari when she is borne in a palanquin in a religious procession through Kathmandu. According to the 300-year-old tradition, a girl from the Sakya caste of the Newari community in the Kathmandu Valley is selected through rigorous tests. She remains the Goddess until puberty and is called upon to give blessings to Nepal's Hindus and Buddhists -- and even the king. "It is unfair," says Gautam Sakya, one of the guardians. "The municipality earns in the name of Kumari, yet we do not get anything to maintain the rituals associated with her." The guardians insist that the local body should pay them at least 10 percent of its annual earnings of a little over $200,000. Before the municipality began charging tourists the entrance fee two years ago, foreign visitors were allowed to see the Kumari and offered money individually.

Krishna Dance a Success in New York

Posted on 2003/9/6 9:47:02 ( 1151 reads )


NEW YORK, NEW YORK, AUGUST 23, 2003: On Saturday evening at Ananda Ashram's Blue Sky Center in Monroe, the students of renowned Kathak artist and guru Pt. Satya Narayana Charka presented a marvelous display of dance technique and expression in the East West School of Dance's annual Krishna Leela dance-drama. Graduates Mayura Casuba and Romanee Kalicharran dazzled an appreciative audience as they brought Sri Krishna and Sri Radha to life on the stage. Other young students and dance artists demonstrated skilled dance and sensitive expression (earmarks of their teacher's training), as they brought alive the stories of child Krishna, Yashoda and Lord Krishna's beloved Gopikas and friends in the dance-drama choreographed and directed by Pt. Charka. All in all, the performers and the audience alike brought out a wonderful energy that made the Krisnha Leela Dance-Drama a great success for this summer season in New York. For information contact: Pt. Satya N. Charka, Charkasn@hotmail.com.

New Hindu Temple for Belle-Vue-Maurel, Mauritius

Posted on 2003/9/5 9:49:02 ( 1480 reads )


MAURITIUS, September 1, 2003: A brand new Murugan temple has been constructed in the village of Belle-Vue-Maurel on the East coast of Mauritius. The consecration took place on August 31st. The architecture and construction of the building was done by workers from India. A sum of US$172,000 was invested in the construction of the temple, known as the Belle-Vue-Maurel Bala Soupramaniar Kovil. The money was donated by the inhabitants of the surrounding area and by collections around the island. The temple site has been occupied by three successive structures all of which were destroyed by cyclones. The original shrine was established in 1884 on land donated by the Belle-Vue-Maurel sugar estate.

Punjabi Women Celebrate Traditions Of Tian De Mela

Posted on 2003/9/5 9:48:02 ( 1022 reads )


YUBA CITY, CALIFORNIA, September 1, 2003: The Yuba-Sutter Fairgrounds, venue for such events as the "Sutter North Chili Cook Off," "Two Cities Kennel Dog Show" and the "Harvest Hoe-down-Square Dancing Competition," was full of bright colors Sunday as the fifth annual Tian de Mela, presented by the Punjabi Women's Cultural Organization, brought together women of all ages. More than 3,000 women from throughout California attended the festival. Among the highlights were the Gidda performances by members of the organization, as well as the open Gidda, inviting the participation of women in the audience. Gidda is a combination of dance and "bolian" -- stories and feelings expressed in a rhythmic manner. A variety of vendors displaying Indian suits, jewelry, music and food were also present at the event. Cultural representation from Northern India was apparent in the stage setting, performances and traditional clothing worn by the performers. "This is a great opportunity for Punjabi women to get together and share their views and interests and just have fun," said Navi Samra of Sacramento.

Upper Castes Attack Dalits' Ganesha Parade

Posted on 2003/9/5 9:47:02 ( 885 reads )


PYAPLI, INDIA, September 1, 2003: Four people were injured when a group of upper caste persons from Pyapili village in Andhra Pradesh in India rained stones on a police party which tried to restore order between the village Dalits ("Untouchables") and the upper castes. Sources said the upper castes started the trouble by destroying the Lord Ganesha icon being taken by the Dalits for immersion. This was strongly resented by leaders of the Dalit community, who informed the police. The upper castes tried to drive away the police party by raining stones on it. Four government officials were hurt.

Kerala Onam Celebration Gets Commercial

Posted on 2003/9/5 9:46:02 ( 870 reads )


THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, INDIA September 1, 2003: Wherever they are, Keralites look forward to Onam as a great occasion to reminisce their long traditional past. But at home, part of the beauty and grace of the festival appears to have been lost to the demands of consumerism. With Onam just a week away, the state wears the look of an extended market place, as if the "festival of flowers" has turned into a "festival of fairs." Blaring mikes announcing discount sales, make-shift shops offering readymade garments to electronic goods and streets jammed by traffic as people come out in hordes for festival purchase -- the scene is the same in every town, and villages are not far behind in the mad rush. Gone are the days when children used to take time off their studies and go around picking flowers, singing Onam songs. Gone, too, are the days when the care-worn men used to plunge into the arena of rural sports, and women shed their shyness to display their artistic skills at the flower-bedecked front yard of homes.

India's Supreme Court: Nobody Has "Right to Convert"

Posted on 2003/9/5 9:45:02 ( 960 reads )


NEW DELHI: There is no such thing as a fundamental right to convert any person to one's own religion, and the government can impose certain restrictions keeping in view public order, the Supreme Court has ruled. The court's ruling came while dismissing a petition challenging an Orissa law requiring police verification of all religious conversions. Citing the SC's landmark 1977 ruling in Rev. Stanislaus vs Madhya Pradesh, a Bench of Chief Justice V N Khare and Justice S B Sinha said that "what is freedom for one is freedom for the other, in equal measure."

At dispute was a 1999 provision added to the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act, 1967, stipulating that a person wanting to convert to a particular religion must make a personal declaration which would be verified by the police also. Petitioner's counsel Janardhan Das said this provision was unwarranted as it makes a person wanting to convert to a religion of his choice a suspect in the eyes of law. As early as 1976, the Orissa High Court had struck down as unconstitutional the Orissa Act. It quashed all criminal proceedings against those who were alleged to have resorted to conversion through inducement or by "force" or "fraud." It had also held that the Act violated Article 25 (1) of the Constitution which guarantees propagation of religion and conversion -- something the petitioners had argued "is a part of the Christian religion."

On appeal, however, the SC in 1977 overturned the decision. Recalling that judgment by a Constitution Bench headed by the then Chief Justice A N Ray, the apex court said on Tuesday: "What Article 25(1) grants is not the right to convert another person to one's own religion, but to transmit or spread one's religion by an exposition of its tenets." Thus, the court said, it must be remembered that Article 25(1) guarantees "freedom of conscience to every citizen, and not merely to the followers of one particular religion." It said: "The Article postulates that there is no fundamental right to convert another person to one's own religion because if a person purposely undertakes the conversion of another person to his religion, that would impinge on the freedom of conscience guaranteed to all the citizens of the country alike."

Ganesha Chaturthi on Radio

Posted on 2003/9/5 9:44:02 ( 1098 reads )


MUMBAI, INDIA, August 31, 2003: This Ganesha Chaturthi, Mumbaikars can look forward to getting up-to-date information on the current happenings in the city at the touch of a dial. Radio Mirchi, 98.3 FM, is gearing up to keep Mumbaikars abreast with the latest happenings and information on the 10 days of Ganesha Chaturthi. From traffic updates and information on the one-ways and street closures in the city to live updates from the various Lord Ganesha pandals across Mumbai. Mumbaikars can tune in from 11 am to 5 pm on all the nine days of Ganesha Chaturthi and find out which icons are a must visit this year. On the 10th day (visarjana day), listeners can tune in to 98.3 FM for hourly updates live from Girgaum Chowpatty, where the Deity immersions take place.

Christian Family Returns to Hindu Fold

Posted on 2003/9/5 9:43:02 ( 919 reads )


ADILABAD, INDIA, August 31, 2003: Eighteen Christians belonging to one family in Adilabad town reconverted to Hinduism on Sunday. The reconversion and purification ceremonies were performed at 9:00 am at Gopala Krishna Mutt by its Mathadhipati (head monk), Sri Sri Sri Yogananda Swami, in a tranquil atmosphere. Members of the local Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and other Sangh Parivar organizations, Municipal Chairman Lala Radheshyam and local representatives of the media were also present. The persons who underwent Shuddhi ceremony told the small gathering that they were re-embracing Hinduism of their own volition. At around 8"30 am, the 18 persons including three women and 11 children and youth led by the four brothers arrived at the Gopala Krishna Mutt to a quiet welcome. The four brothers Manohar, Israel, Bhushan and Samuel are all government employees working in different departments. They stressed on the fact that until about 50 years ago, their ancestors were Hindus. They acknowledged the greatness of Hinduism and wanted to reexperience it. Hence, their reconversion.

Third Royal Bath at Kumbha Mela

Posted on 2003/9/2 9:49:02 ( 1011 reads )

News Reports

NASIK, INDIA, September 1, 2003: Thousands of sadhus began the third Shahi Snan (royal bath) in Ramkund (a sacred lake) exactly at 8.00 am on the auspicious day of Vrishi Panchami, amidst tight police monitoring following the death of 35 persons during the second royal bath on August 27. Sadhus of various akaras (monastic orders) of the Tvaishnava sect reached Ramkund in grand procession complete with silver palanquins. Some sadhus carried carved silver maces and spears with silver rods. Others held golden icons of their deities and flags. About 150,000 pilgrims from different parts of the country are expected to take a holy dip on Monday. The final bath at Trimbakeshwar would be held on September 7. Ramkund will be closed for common pilgrims from 5.00 am to 12.00 pm and both entry and exit route for pilgrims have been re-planned. Common pilgrims will also be restricted from entering the the Shahi Snan route and allowed entry only after 12 pm. About nine thousand police personnel including three companies of state reserve police force have been deployed.

Our Hinduism Today reporter at Nasik, Mr. Rajiv Malik, reports that Shri Satish Shukla, the head of the priest's organization Ganga Godavari Panchkothi Purohit Sangh, was highly critical of the stopping of pilgrims many kilometres away from the main Ram Kund area where Shahi Snans took place. Satish Shukla told him, "The administration and police must manage the Mela in such a way that an ordinary pilgrim also gets the chance to watch the Shahi Snans. Hundreds of thousands of people who had come especially to watch their beloved saints have their royal bath were thoroughly disappointed by their being prevented from having darshana (sight) of saints having their Shahi Snan." He said that when pilgrims are around, the whole area resonates with energy, which is not happening now due to putting up of barricades and stopping the people many kilometres away from the venue of the royal bath.

Cambodia's Crusaders Of Lost Art

Posted on 2003/9/2 9:48:02 ( 1019 reads )


SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA, August 30, 2003: In addition to an appreciation of art, Uong Von's job as chief conservationist of the Khmer Art Museum requires a familiarity with semiautomatic weapons. "To work at Conservation d'Angkor you must love art and know how to defend it with an AK-47," said Uong Von. "I am a lover of art, but I am armed." Less than a mile from the legendary stone temples of Angkor Wat, the repository in Conservation d'Angkor houses more than 6,000 pieces of priceless Hindu Khmer art behind high walls draped with jungle shrubs and protected by gun-toting guards. While thousands will tour Angkor Wat this year, fewer than 200 visitors were permitted past the security guards and behind the heavy steel doors of the conservation repository in the last year. Newly found artifacts come in, but nothing leaves. Loan programs do not exist. Founded by the French colonial authorities in the early 20th century, conservation d'Angkor was originally charged with protecting all of Cambodia's ancient Khmer artifacts and temples. More than 1,000 stone temples were erected by the Khmer in a swathe across what is now Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. Jungles reclaimed the temples and they were forgotten until French explorers in the 19th century began publishing accounts of the impossibly large stone structures. Fascination with the lost civilization launched a traffic in stolen artifacts. While French archaeologists brought several thousands of the first pieces to the repository for fear they could be stolen or damaged by the jungle, more than 60 items still arrive every year, usually as a result of foiled theft.

Celebrating Ganesha Chaturthi With Murthis Made of Natural Substances

Posted on 2003/9/2 9:47:02 ( 939 reads )


BANGALORE, KARNATAKA, August 30, 2003: Ganesha Chaturthi has been celebrated in grand style in the southern states for many years. It is only in the last few years that the festivities have taken on a new eco-friendly consciousness. Idol makers and devotees are being encouraged to make loving murthis from clay and other natural substances and to paint the icons with vegetable dyes, as they were a hundred years ago. This is in an ongoing effort to stop polluting major lakes and rivers with unnatural and nonbiodegradable substances, such as plastics and lead paint, that contaminate the water and endanger the lives of scores of species that naturally inhabit the bodies of water. The movement to make the Ganesha festivities more environmentally friendly has been driven by the Centre for Appropriate Rural Technologies (CART).

Hindu Youth Organization in Malaysia Wants to Protect Temples From Demolition

Posted on 2003/9/2 9:46:02 ( 937 reads )


PETALING JAYA, MALAYSIA, August 21, 2003: A Malaysian Youth organization called the Serdang MIC Youth has been working vigorously to delay the demolition of seven temples in Serdang. The chief of MIC Youth, T. Mohan says, "We are strongly against the decision to demolish the temples as some of them have been in existence for several decades." Leading a delegation of 200 people, the youth wing along with members of the Hindu Religious Association Committee of Serdang presented a memoradum to the Selangor Housing and Property Board. A general election is approaching in Malaysia and this may help protect the temples as parties have been campaigning to gain the support of the Indian community. Mohan further adds, "I urge the state government and local councils to discuss the fate of the temples with the Hindu Sangam, the temple committee and the MIC divisions."

New Hindu Pre-School in Canada

Posted on 2003/9/2 9:45:02 ( 934 reads )


MISSISSAUGA, ONTARIO, August 29, 2003: The Canadian Hindu Arts and Cultural Society has announced that a new Hindu pre-school accommodating children 2-5 years of age will open on September 2. Called the Hindu Immersion School, the school's mission is to fully immerse and educate the young minds about Hinduism as well as teach Hindi and music. The community is proud of this accomplishment as the curriculum has been fully approved by the Ministry of Education. Contact: 7015 Tranmere Drive, Unit #7, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. Phone: 416-723-5934

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