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Mumbai Temple Enforces Dress Code
Posted on 2002/9/3 1:44:02 ( 1239 reads )


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MUMBAI, INDIA July 18, 2002: The next time you visit the Siddhivinayak (Ganesha) temple, Prabhadevi, and the temple guard finds your dress inappropriate for the holy environs, you could be given a lesson in modest dressing and the temple guard will advise you not to wear such clothes the next time you visit there. A guard says, "Many of them could be first-time visitors unaware of the rules. We do not stop them from entering, but we tell them gently not to wear such dresses the next time they are here." The temple administration has put up a board of requests in Marathi at one of the gates. The temple, consecrated in 1801, is the city's most popular, with over two hundred thousand devotees on Tuesdays. Lately, it has also become popular with the young, especially college students who seek Ganesha's blessings for success in exams. Commenting on the restrictions on clothing, Hegde says, "This is a temple, not a picnic spot." Sharayu Thakur, chairperson of the managing committee, says that most devotees of Siddhivinayak support the dress code. Goregaon resident Aparna Joshi says, "This is a sacred place. The authorities have done right by issuing instructions on dress. Limits of decency must be maintained."




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Merrymaking Marks Lord Krishna's Birthday in Maharashtra
Posted on 2002/9/2 1:49:02 ( 685 reads )


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MUMBAI, INDIA, August 31, 2002: In the narrow lanes of Mumbai and elsewhere in Maharashtra, groups of youngsters formed human pyramids and brought down earthen pots brimming with curds and milk on the occasion of Krishna Janmashtami on Saturday. Pots, filled with fresh white curds, home-made butter milk, bananas and a coconut were hung several feet above ground level with the help of thick ropes, decorated with green mango leaves and bright orange marigold flowers in various sections of Mumbai. Scores of spectators lined up to view the pot breaking ritual, organized annually to mark Krishna's favorite prank of robbing his favorite dish, home-made curds, by forming a human pyramid to reach the pot hung high up. In various parts of Mumbai, professional groups who had undergone several weeks of training, participated in pot breaking competition with pyramids of six people high made up of dozens on youth.




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Mumbai Offers City's First Carnatic Music Degree
Posted on 2002/9/2 1:48:02 ( 697 reads )


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MUMBAI, INDIA, August 30, 2002: The Shanmukhananda Sangeet Vidyalaya will offer a University of Mumbai-recognized degree course in the Indian classical Carnatic music as part of the golden jubilee celebrations of its parent body, the Shanmukhananda Fine Arts and Sangeetha Sabha, located in Sion. The Bachelor of Fine Arts (Carnatic) to be offered by the Vidyalaya will be the first degree course in Carnatic music offered outside Chennai. The course is part of the sabha's plan to popularize the learning and appreciation of classical music in Mumbai, say members. The Vidyalaya presently offers diploma courses in Carnatic music and teaches instrumental music in the Hindustani style to nearly 730 students. According to members of the sabha, there has been a gradual decline in the popularity of classical music in the city though several organizations have been working hard to change that. "There has been a revival of classical music in South India with more youngsters learning it, but Mumbai has been unaffected. We want to play the role of a catalyst here," said V. Shankar, president of the sabha.




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Maneka Gandhi Promotes Animal Rights During Puerto Rico Visit
Posted on 2002/9/2 1:47:02 ( 725 reads )


Source: San Juan Star





SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO, August 27, 2002: Member of the Indian Parliament Menaka Gandhi participated in a International Conference on Peace and Development in San Juan,capital city of Puerto Rico during the second week of August. held on the second week of August. Though she raised many eyebrows here by her comment on India's population growth by referring it "fungus growth" she scored a point for her animal welfare movement in India. "Cows have not been sacred in India since the dairy industry took over, "she said, and added "I'd love to make them sacred in our minds." She runs a shelter in India for 2,000 cows and other abandoned or hurt animals. She is also a founder of an animal welfare ministry in India.She claims that she with her supporters went to 590 laboratories to stop what she called "illegal and cruel" testing on rats, dogs, cats and other animals.There is a huge reform movement in India, she claims, stating that no new drugs has been developed by animal testing in the last 55 years in her country. She also said that anyone who kills any living things kills a human being.




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UK Minister Bans Yoga Classes In Church Hall
Posted on 2002/9/2 1:46:02 ( 663 reads )


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LONDON, UK, August 27, 2002: An Anglican minister said Tuesday that he has banned yoga classes from his church because he feels the practice is incompatible with Christianity. The Rev. Derek Smith has angered yoga practitioners by barring a weekly yoga class from meeting in the hall of St. Michael's church in Melksham, 100 miles west of London. Smith said that his decision to stop the classes is because of yoga's association with Hinduism. In London a spokesman for Britain's Anglican Church backed the right of clergymen to take a stand against any practices which "do not square with Christian teachings." He said other ministers share the concerns about the spiritual basis of some versions of the exercise regime, since many church halls across the UK accommodate yoga classes. The spokesman added: "Yoga is used as a kind of generic term for exercise and stretching, but there are many different types of yoga. Some have a more spiritual basis as handed down from Eastern religions."




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Parallel Hindu Body Created to Build Ayodhya Temple Peacefully
Posted on 2002/9/2 1:45:02 ( 632 reads )


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AYODHYA, INDIA, August 30, 2002: A parallel body of Hindu saints on Thursday resolved to work out an amicable solution to the centuries-old Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masj dispute in Ayodhya. Drawn from local congregations and a few other north Indian religious centers, these saints met formally for the first time on Thursday under the banner of the Vishwa Dharam Raksha Parishad. "We want to see a grand temple at the birthplace of Lord Ram, but we do not want the foundations of this temple to be laid on violence and communal disharmony," said Baba Dharam Das, who is the caretaker of Ayodhya's oldest temple, Hanuman Garhi. Brahmaswaroop Brahmachari, a prominent Hindu seer from Haridwar, was critical of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. "[The] VHP has only exploited sadhus and played with their religious feelings and sentiments," he said. "I find that Hindus and Muslims enjoy utmost cordial relations in Ayodhya, but communal trouble is fomented by people sitting in New Delhi." Another saint from Haridwar, Hans Das, who is also the general secretary of the Akhil Bhartiya Sant Samiti said, "India is not a nation of Hindus alone -- it is a land of Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians who have equal right over this soil."




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Monkey Trapped in Hanuman Temple Dies
Posted on 2002/9/1 1:49:02 ( 692 reads )


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HYDERABAD, INDIA, September 1, 2002: An earlier story carried in HPI regarding the monkey staying in the Hanuman Temple here being of good health was erroneous. On Saturday the monkey died of starvation after devotees resisted attempts by a team of veterinarians to shift it out for treatment. The monkey, which had strayed into the sanctum sanctorum of the temple at Thimmannagaripally was found sitting atop the icon of Lord Hanuman on August 1. Since then, a large number of devotees had been thronging the temple to offer garlands and fruits to the monkey and seek its blessings and forgiveness. The monkey stopped eating after a few days and its health deteriorated. Following the court's intervention, two veterinarians conducted a check-up on the monkey on Friday. But the devotees prevented them from moving him to another place for treatment and a day later the monkey died. The temple committee performed the last rites of the monkey on Saturday evening. Thousands of devotees, who considered the monkey an incarnation of Hanuman, attended the funeral.




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Swami Protests Indian Government Support for Meat Production
Posted on 2002/9/1 1:48:02 ( 640 reads )


Source: HPI





VIENNA, AUSTRIA, August 21, 2002: Mahamandaleshwar Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda, from the International Sri Deep Madhavananda Ashram Fellowship, Vienna, Austria, has voiced his concern to Indian Prime Ministers regarding the Indian government's support of meat production. Swami writes, "It has been brought to our attention by The International Theosophical Order of Service (Sevran, France) that the government of India is currently formulating a policy in support of large scale slaughter of animals and the promotion of meat-eating by Indians, as part of its tenth five-year plan, to boost foreign exchange and encourage economic development." HPI asked Maneka Gandhi, an animal-right activist and former government minister, for her comments. She responded that this was indeed the case. "There is an official plan of the Planning Commission as the Committee for increasing meat export (that) was started at the behest of Shri KC Pant.... The tussle is not between vegetarians and nonvegetarians but between what is good for India or not. Meat export is draining money out of India and each animal killed costs India approximately US$1,224. No meat exporter pays any taxes in India as they have dummy companies abroad that register losses which are transferred to India. Most of them are in court for not paying water or electricity bills. However this policy of increasing exports has been government policy for the last 4 years as you will see from the APEDA (The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority) corporation itself. One attempt by me to stop the illegal cutting of meat in government owned slaughterhouses -- as this is strictly forbidden by municipal law -- was notified by APEDA on July 15, 1999. This would have immediately stopped 70% of the meat from being exported. However the notification, after it came out, was withdrawn by the Ministry on the same day at the orders of the Prime Minister's office."




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Colorado Classroom Yoga Questioned
Posted on 2002/9/1 1:47:02 ( 805 reads )


Source: Yahoo.com





ASPEN, COLORADO, August 28, 2002: Plans for a classroom yoga program were put on hold so administrators and parents could decide whether it would bring religion into the school. Some families at Aspen Elementary said the chanting that often accompanies yoga techniques might challenge the constitutional separation of church and state. The program, called Yoga Ed, would use breathing and stretching to help children adjust to the return of classes and to calm rowdy students after recess. School officials plan a meeting to address the parents concerns. "If there is significant number of parents, after gathering information, that are still concerned about it, we don't necessarily have to go forward with it," Principal Barb Pitchford said.




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Sanatan Society Encourages a Spiritual Celebration of Ganesha Chaturthi
Posted on 2002/9/1 1:46:02 ( 670 reads )


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September 1, 2002: As Ganesha Chaturthi approaches, devotees are encouraged to check out the web site created by the Sanatan Society. A comprehensive "Campaign for awareness of spiritually correct way of celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi" details nine points including the history of Ganesh Chaturthi, the science behind the rituals, interesting facts about Lord Ganesh, and the science behind sculpting murthis. Inspiring pilgrims to worship with intense devotion and faith, the Sanatan Society discourages the often current practices where the festival surrounding Ganesha Chaturthi has turned into a massive social event and an advertising event for some businesses. Loud non-religious music may be played while adults and children ignore the celebration and turn to socializing. In 1894, Lokmanya Tilak started the public celebration of Lord Ganesh by placing an icon of the Lord in Vinchurkar Wada, Maharashtra. A revival in the population was started and the festival took on a highly spiritual significance for many years.




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Planned 9/11 Interfaith Observances Prompt Tensions
Posted on 2002/8/29 1:49:02 ( 671 reads )


Source: Religion News Service





USA, August 29, 2002: As diverse communities across America prepare to solemnly remember the day last year when thousands died and millions cried out to God, yearnings abound to see believers of all types mark the occasion by praying together. The Council on American-Islamic Relations, for instance, in July called on "all faith communities to participate in the national observance by opening houses of worship on September 11, 2002, for interfaith visits, prayers ... to foster national unity and religious tolerance." Yet while some faith communities adapt easily to interfaith worship, the more theologically conservative ones are feeling torn by an intense dilemma. As Americans, they aspire to demonstrate their country's tolerance of differences. But as believers, they feel compelled to be clear that all paths do not in fact lead to the same God. When that subtle, dual message feels obscured by a public event that mixes prayer and politics, interfaith worship can cause a crisis of integrity. Nowhere has that strain played out more painfully in the past year than for the 2.6 million-member Missouri Synod. After taking part in a highly acclaimed interfaith service at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 23 last year, the Rev. David Benke was suspended indefinitely from his job as president of the church's 45,000-member Atlantic District. A church investigation had found him guilty of "syncretism" and "unionism" because "The signal (sent by his presence there) was: While there may be differences as to how people worship or pray, in the end, all religions pray to the same God." "Joining in prayer with pagan clerics in Yankee Stadium was an offense both to God and to all Christians," said the June 25 report by the Rev. Wallace Schulz. "What's the purpose of an interfaith service?" asked one Baptist minister. "It's to show everybody that we can all get along. But not until everything and everyone is brought together under Jesus Christ, until everyone bows the knee to Christ, will there be a peaceful world. (In the meantime), to use worship as a means of promoting something else is wrong."




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VHP Reconversion Drive in West Bengal District
Posted on 2002/8/29 1:48:02 ( 878 reads )


Source: Hindustan Times





WEST BENGAL, INDIA, August 22, 2002: The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) on Thursday brought back to Hinduism one Muslim and six Christian families at a paribartan ("transformation") ceremony in the West Bengal's Malda district. The ceremony, which took place in Bharat Sevashram Sangh's ashram at Tajpur, kicks off a reconversion program planned by the VHP in the adivasi (tribal) belt of the district, claimed senior VHP leaders. The families all filed affidavits before a local Malda court last week swearing that they were converting to Hinduism of their own free will. VHP spokesman Ajoy Kumar Nandi said, "We'll be intensifying our paribartan program to bring back people who were lured into Christianity and Islam." The reconverted families confirmed Nandi's charges. "We were lured into Christianity by offers of food, medicines, education, money and building materials. But the promises did not materialize. We then realized it was wrong to have embraced Christianity, and so we are coming back to our religion,"said Raja Hansda of Srirampur village.




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Court Orders Release of Monkey
Posted on 2002/8/29 1:47:02 ( 689 reads )


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HYDERABAD, INDIA, August 29, 2002: A court in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh has ordered the state authorities to help free a monkey that has been confined inside a temple for the last month. The monkey has been kept within the temple's inner-most chambers in the belief that it is the reincarnation of a much loved Hindu Monkey God - Hanuman. The court issued the orders in response to a petition filed by an animal rights group, Karuna, based in Anantapur. The court directed the Anantapur district superintendent of police to send a team of veterinary doctors to examine the condition of the monkey and treat it as necessary. On its part, the well-cared-for monkey appears to show no inclination to leave the temple.




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Saudi's Censorship Mostly Leaves Hinduism Out
Posted on 2002/8/29 1:46:02 ( 672 reads )


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USA, August 29, 2002: The Saudi government is censoring public Internet access to a degree that goes significantly but haphazardly beyond its stated central goal of blocking sexually explicit content that violates the values of Islam, according to a recent study by Harvard Law School researchers. The study's detailed list of blocked sites offers a glimpse into the areas that the Saudi government has deemed most troubling. Among them are sites related to pornography, women's rights, gays and lesbians, non-Islamic religions and criticism of political restrictions. Many humor and entertainment sites have also been blocked. HPI found only 12 "Hindu" sites listed ("source" above) among those blocked, but the logic for inclusion was not clear as most did not even appear to mention Islam.




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250 Youth Converted to Christianity in Tamil Nadu
Posted on 2002/8/28 1:49:02 ( 727 reads )


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MADURAI, INDIA, August 25, 2002: Some 250 Scheduled Caste (the dalits or "untouchables," who number 160 million in India) youths from the southern districts of Tamil Nadu were converted into Christianity at a function here on Saturday night, Seventh Day Adventist Church sources said. The Church had shot into the limelight in 2001 when it converted more than 1,500 dalit Hindus into Christianity. The sources said that the SC youths, in the age group of 20, were converted during the Thirumarai Peruvizha (conference) held at their school. The youths from Dindigul, Ammapatti, Sankarankovil, Tirunelveli, Manamadurai and Sivaganga agreed to convert after the pastors convinced them about the benefits they would have if they embraced Christianity. The baptism was held as the final event of the south Tamil conference. According to some converts, they were brought here with promises of economic emancipation. The website of the Church claims that more than 10,000 people had recently been converted in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.




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