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New Mauritian Temple is Consecrated

Posted on 2003/8/14 9:46:02 ( 1196 reads )


CHEBEL, MAURITIUS, July 6, 2003: Once again Hindus in Mauritius have an occasion to celebrate their heritage. On July 6 a new temple, called the Kali Parashakti Thava Sidhar Peedam Kali Kovil, was consecrated. This unique temple, located near Beau Bassin, was built according to Vastu and Shilpa Shastras and is located on one acre of donated land. The Maha Kumbhabhisekam was performed in grand style by twenty-two priests and four musicians that were flown in from South India.

Historic Nepal Temple on the Brink of Collapse

Posted on 2003/8/10 9:49:02 ( 988 reads )


KATHMANDU, NEPAL, August 8, 2003: The 348-year old Pratappur temple, flanking the eastern entrance of Swoyambhunath and declared a World Heritage Site in 1976, could collapse any momen. The devastating fire outbreak on Tuesday morning has left gaping fissures on its crumbling walls. The fire was completely doused only yesterday, four days after the outbreak. However, the fire combined with intermittent rain has considerably weakened the walls, and chunks of earth are falling down every now and then. "The temple requires immediate bracing. UNESCO is ready to provide financial and technical assistance if the government and the management committee deem it necessary. A probe committee formed by the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, and high priests including Rajguru Pushpa Ratna Bajracharya and Swayambhu's main priest Najarman Thakali entered the temple today after performing chhyama puja, the ritual necessary before entering the temple, as prescribed by tradition. This is the first time anyone has entered the temple in 30 years. The main icon inside the temple is still spic and span. On the other hand, many other icons of historical value have been reduced to a cinder. Also debris of burnt bricks and stones has gathered at the temple's base, after considerably eroding its walls.

India To Reduce Number Of Public Holidays

Posted on 2003/8/10 9:48:02 ( 1150 reads )


DELHI, INDIA, August 7, 2003: The Indian government plans to cut down on the number of public holidays. A review, announced yesterday in parliament, will come as some relief to those who argue that urgent steps are needed to raise the productivity of India's civil service. Last year India's 20 million public sector workers were all entitled to 201 days of paid leave. This included holy days from minority religions, including Christianity, the Sikh religion, Buddhism and the Jain religion. It also included a multitude of Hindu (81 per cent of India's population) and Muslim festivals. Government employees were also entitled to sick leave, casual leave, normal holidays and compassionate leave. P.C. Alexander, a member of India's upper parliamentary chamber, said: "Why should Good Friday be a holiday for the 98 per cent of Indians who are not Christians?" However, economic reformers say reducing religious holidays will not be enough to raise public sector productivity even if New Delhi manages to get the plan past the religious lobbies. They point out large numbers of public sector employees have no incentive to work hard because they cannot be fired. India's coalition government is quietly reducing the headcount of the civil service. Three percent of employees retire every year but only 1 percent are replaced. Public sector enterprises have also reduced their payrolls by adopting generous voluntary retirement schemes.

Kerala Wants Coconut Water to Steal Coke, Pepsi Market

Posted on 2003/8/10 9:47:02 ( 924 reads )


THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, INDIA, August 9, 2003: Legislators in Kerala are planning to give tender coconut water a push and steal the fizz from Coco Cola and Pepsi. "With the controversy over the Coca-Cola sludge pollution and reports from Delhi over the presence of toxic elements, we should see that we promote tender coconut in Kerala. This is the best time," said senior Congress leader Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan. This week, the Kerala State Pollution Control Board endorsed a BBC Radio allegation that sludge from a Coca-Cola plant in Kerala contained hazardous elements including cadmium and a leading environmental group in New Delhi claimed that Coke and Pepsi beverages had alarmingly high levels of pesticide residues (both companies refute this latter report). Kerala has for a while been trying to promote tender coconut water, but with little success. "One reason for the failure is practical problems associated with marketing coconut water," said Prayar Gopalakrishnan, a legislator and former chairman of the Kerala State Milk Marketing Association. Legislator Mercy Ravi, wife of Congress leader Vayalar Ravi, felt it would be best to make the drink available in the fresh, raw form. "Any addition of preservative to increase the shelf life could lead to problems like what Coke and Pepsi are facing. As a test case, it would be nice if the Speaker allows the opening of a counter of tender coconut in the assembly. Once this is done, we could open counters at international airports, railway stations and even bus stands," she suggested.

Researcher Requests Assistance with "Contemporary Cultural Sources of the Hindu Heritage: An Illustrated Guide for Young People"

Posted on 2003/8/10 9:46:02 ( 897 reads )


LONDON, ENGLAND, August 10, 2003: Ripin Kalra writes, "My research is currently in its proposal stage and is relevant to the Hindu Diaspora. The main objective of the research is to produce a guide for young people who wish to access current sources of the Hindu Heritage and visualize its complexity. The guide is intended to be illustrated and forge essential links between those among the vast diaspora who want to know about the Hindu Heritage and those who are learned and thus project, teach and communicate the Hindu Heritage. Comments are invited from everyone, and in particular community leaders and community institutions, about their views on the scope and expected interest that such a research and guide are likely to generate among their communities. Please contact me at "source" above or Ripin Kalra, Research Fellow, Max Lock Centre, University of Westminster, 35 Marylebone Road, London NW1 5LS, United Kingdom. Cell phone: 00 44 7763 182092. Additional e-mail: ripinkalra@hotmail.com."

Refugees International Reports on Discrimination Against Hindus in Bangladesh

Posted on 2003/8/9 9:49:02 ( 1069 reads )


WASHINGTON, D.C., August 9, 2003: A US-based human rights organization has claimed that religious minorities, especially Hindus, still face discrimination in Bangladesh even though the country has recently taken steps to protect minorities. Refugees International, in its recently published report, alleged that although Bangladesh provides for "freedom of religion," religious minorities "face restrictions in areas such as access to jobs in the government and military." Further, saying that most Bangladeshi Hindus who come to India receive little protection, it asked both Bangladesh and India to deal with the problems in a better manner. Claiming that up to "20,000 Hindus were displaced in recent years" due to communal violence, it asked the Bangladesh government to comply with laws protecting religious minorities and establish an independent body to probe the attacks on Hindus in 2001. It also recommended the Indian government to stop "threatening mass expulsion of Bangladeshis who have come to India whether as refugees or for economic reasons." The report alleged that "despite calls for a full, impartial and independent investigation of the 2001 attacks, the Government of Bangladesh has taken no action to bring to justice the perpetrators." The organization also demanded that property appropriated under the Vested Property Act (VPA) from Hindus be returned to them according to a well defined timetable. "In the absence of a specific date for the return, there is no way to monitor whether the property is being returned," it added.

Bhagavad Gita and Teaching of Buddha Join Bibles in US Hotel Rooms

Posted on 2003/8/9 9:48:02 ( 907 reads )

Religion Watch

USA, August 9, 2003: The American hotel tradition of placing a Bible in guests' rooms is changing as these establishments broaden their menu of religious reading material to please the new diversity of guests. USA Today (July 10) reports that the Bibles placed in hotel rooms for over a century by the Gideon International ministry has become "an unwitting brand standard" that is being challenged by the desire of some hotels to offer their guests options that range from the Bhagavad-Gita to the Book of Mormon. In deference to the Marriot's founders, these hotels now supplement the Bible with the Book of Mormon. The Society for the Promotion of Buddhism has placed gratis copies of the Teaching of the Buddha in more than 2,300 hotels across the U.S. as part of a program that also includes 53 other countries. Washington, D.C.'s Madison Hotel will reopen with each guestroom having a windowsill decal pointing toward Mecca -- an amenity mainly found in the Middle East.

Vaishnava Monasteries Threatened by Brahmaputra River Erosion

Posted on 2003/8/9 9:47:02 ( 943 reads )


MANJULI, INDIA, August 7, 2003: An ecological disaster looms over Manjuli, the world's largest river island, located in the Brahmaputra river in India's north-eastern state of Assam. Majuli is rapidly eroding away, threatening the lives of the 150,000 islanders. Environmentalists say Manjuli has shrunk by more than 400 square kilometers in the past three decades, reducing the island to two-thirds its original size. Affected are 22 Vaishnava monasteries. The monasteries act as the centre of Assamese culture with their traditional prayer form, a 500-year-old open air theatrical custom, colorful boat races, classical dances and handicrafts. Members of the monastery say they will have to leave Majuli if erosion continues. There has been proposal to have Majuli declared a world heritage site by the UNESCO, but it could be washed off the map one day.

Coca-Cola India Releases Test Results to Refute Claims of Pesticides in Soft Drinks

Posted on 2003/8/9 9:46:02 ( 991 reads )


DELHI, INDIA, August 9, 2003: The Coca-Cola Company in India posted test results from the TNO company in The Netherlands which show samples of their products to test within acceptable limits (negative, in nearly all cases) for dozens of pesticides, contrary to results released by a government laboratory in India. The reports are available at their website, "source," above.

Indian Firm Markets Vegetarian Insulin

Posted on 2003/8/8 9:49:02 ( 1063 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, August 8, 2003: It is estimated that there will be 57 million diabetics in India by 2025. An Indian drug company has launched what it claims is Asia's first vegetarian insulin. The new insulin is derived from yeast, as opposed to pigs or cows, as most insulin in India is at present. The company which has manufactured the drug, Wockhardt, says that this type of insulin will also avoid other viral infections such as BSE and CJD associated with insulin derived from animals. Until now nearly 90% of the insulin available on the Indian market was derived from pigs or cows which are proscribed respectively in the Muslim and Hindu communities.

The Brahmins Who Became Untouchables

Posted on 2003/8/8 9:48:02 ( 3454 reads )


PATNA, INDIA, August 5,2003: The Mahapatra brahmins of Sahupura village in Buxar district of Bihar are finding that they are virtual untouchables in their own land. They perform cremation rituals and their very appearance at a doorstep is considered a bad omen."We used to knock at the door of a house only when there was a death in the house to perform the cremation rituals, so our appearance is regarded as a bad sign," said Ramanand Pandey. But there don't seem to be any major regrets.

Most brahmins in the village said they never encouraged their children to pursue modern studies. Instead of going to school, children start picking up the finer points of their specialised job under the expert tutelage of their elders. At least they don't have to worry about unemployment, community leaders said defending the decision. "The work of performing cremation rituals gives us the guarantee of a job without education. In the neighbouring village, there are many educated upper caste youth who are sitting at home because they have no job," said Madan Pandey.

The brahmins of Sahupura have the advantage of performing the last rites at the famous Ramrekha Ghat on the banks of the Ganges not far from the village. The place is considered auspicious for conducting cremations because the river turns to the north at the spot. Like the famous pandas of Gaya in Bihar, Puri in Orissa and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, the brahmins of Sahpura have the right to undertake cremation rituals in a large area spanning about six districts.

Kumbha Mela TV Coverage Gets Flooded, Too

Posted on 2003/8/7 9:49:02 ( 843 reads )


NASIK, INDIA, August 4, 2003: The Kumbha Mela, among the largest gatherings in the world, besides attracting devotees, sadhus and exotica-seekers, has its share of media adding to the crowd. There are at least five reporters doing live telecasts at any given point in time. The first to arrive was the NDTV outdoor broadcast van, which is not a van at all but a truck mounted with a dish and all the requisite paraphernalia. The Sahara, Zee OB and Star vans soon followed. Locals and pilgrims throng around the TV crew in a furtive attempt to be on TV at least for a second, even if among 500 faces. Often a brawl will break out between the crew and the people who are "spoiling the frame" or among people who keep jostling each other to get in front of the camera. The question heard most often is, "Is this live?". Ramkund is the main pond where the ritual baths take place during the Mela. The Godavari flows in from one end and out the other. After three days of heavy torrential rains, the water turned to muddy brown and submerged everything around. Even the main Godavari temple, which opens once every 12 years for the Kumbha Mela, was filled with waist-deep water. The water began rising at the site reserved for the television vans. Their tires became completely submerged and one van became stuck in the steadily rising waters. When the vans looked in danger of being washed away, the local fire brigade warned the TV crews to move their vehicles and equipment.

Lord Ganesha Rolls Through Stuttgart

Posted on 2003/8/7 9:48:02 ( 892 reads )


STUTTGART, GERMANY, August 2, 2003: A Ratha (chariot) festival was conducted for the first time in the streets of Stuttgart by the Hindu community on Saturday, August 2. Many German residents of the city stretched their necks out of their windows, unbelievingly, as hundreds of Hindus pulled the Elephant God on a holy vehicle through the streets. For nine days, the Hindus living in Stuttgart and the surrounding region have been celebrating. This Saturday was the highpoint of the festival. "Our chariot was specially made for us in Sri Lanka," said Apputhurai Kumaran, a teacher of Hindu culture. Subsequently the vehicle was taken apart and brought in a container by airplane to Germany. Men run before the vehicle, throwing water out of buckets on the street in order to clean it for the arrival of the holy chariot. The chariot is jointly pulled by men and women, who brace themselves heavily against the ropes. A Hindu priest stands next to the Elephant God. A nageshwaram player and drummer step ahead. Behind the vehicle, two men with bare torso roll themselves over the hot asphalt, holding a coconut in their hands. Curious bystanders line the roadside asking what is the meaning of this shimmering procession. "We sometimes commit mistake in the daily life," explains Kumaran, "in this festival we can correct these mistakes." "This morning ends our festival," he says, "however in the coming year we want to pull the chariot through Stuttgart again."

On-Line Satellite View of Everest

Posted on 2003/8/7 9:47:02 ( 1103 reads )


USA, August 7, 2003: For a free space view of Mount Everest, click "source" above. Also available is a dizzying 3D fly-over of the world's highest mountain.

All-Women Reading of Ramayana in Trinidad

Posted on 2003/8/7 9:46:02 ( 1021 reads )


PORT OF SPAIN, TRINIDAD, August 4, 2003: Three Hindu women have created a record when they read the holy Ramayana for five nights at a Ramayan Yagna hosted here. The all-women panel read from the Ramayana at the religious ceremony hosted by the Hindu Prachar Kendras Ninth Annual Tulsidas Jayanti Festival here. The triad included Mayaanti Maharaj, Gita Ramsingh and Shakuntala Jangabahadoor, all from Trinidad and Tobago. Jangabahadoor is a well-known singer and has studied classical Indian music at the Gandharva Mahavidyala, New Delhi on a Government of India scholarship. She is a secondary school teacher. Ramsingh already holds the honour of becoming the first woman to sing the Ramayana in 1990.

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