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New Rail Service to Famous Belur Math

Posted on 2003/8/25 9:47:02 ( 949 reads )


KOLKATA, INDIA, August 18, 2003: Pilgrims and tourists alike now have a third option for transportation if they choose to visit Belur Math in West Bengal. On August 16 of this year, Rail Minister Nitish Kumar inaugurated a rail link service to the historic site where Sri Ramakrishna lived. Previously the article points out, "This architectural splendor of West Bengal was accessible directly by road transport or by ferry service from Kolkata." Taking off from a location near Liluah station and terminating by the side of the Belar Scrapyard, the rail station is located close to the gates of the Math founded by Swami Vivekananda. Built by Eastern Railway, the rail service has a cream and saffron color scheme, runs six times each day, and the fare will be US 8 cents for each ride.

Hindu Women and the Succession Act

Posted on 2003/8/24 9:49:02 ( 1069 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, August 14, 2003: A long-standing controversy in favor of women has been resolved by the Supreme Court. At one time, if a Hindu married woman died intestate (that is, with no written will) or issueless (without children), her husband or father-in-law could lay claim to her estate even if such assets originated from her birth family. In a new ruling the court explained, "If a Hindu female inherited property from her father or mother, neither her husband or his heirs would get such property, but it would revert to the heirs of her own father or mother." The controversy originated from a 30-year dispute over properties left behind by Rajathiammal who died intestate and issueless. Rajathiammal had acquired considerable properties from her maternal aunt. Her brothers and sisters laid claim to the properties left behind by their married sister. At first Rajathiammal's brothers and sisters, who were Chettiars, lost the trial, but the initial ruling was subsequently reversed and Rajathiammal's property reverted back to her birth family. The article further explains, "If the property is inherited from her husband or father-in-law, it would devolve upon the heirs of her husband." In both cases it is important to keep in mind that this law applies only if the Hindu woman has died intestate or issueless.

India to Deport Swede who Built Huge Garuda Statue

Posted on 2003/8/24 9:48:02 ( 976 reads )


CHENNAI, INDIA, August 22, 2003: A self-styled Swedish holy man who built an ashram in India has been arrested and faces deportation. Harold Davidson, 45, built the ashram illegally on a two-acre plot in Mallayapuram, in southern Tamil Nadu state. It has a massive statue of Garuda, the holy eagle that is associated with the Lord Vishnu. Davidson came to India on six-month tourist visa. He extended it by two years but refused to leave when it expired. He appealed a court decision in 1994, and after eight years of wrangling lost the appeal. Police said Davidson then went into hiding. He was arrested on August 21, 2003 in the southern town of Kanchipuram. Villagers remember Davidson's arrival -- a white man sitting on the top of a rock seemingly unmindful of the scorching heat. He told them he had come to their village to serve them. Police said he was not engaged in any illegal activity, but was resented by some villagers. Davidson opposed the use of noisy public address systems and lodged more than 200 complaints with police over noise pollution.

Prime Minister Appeals to the Public to Stop Female Feticide

Posted on 2003/8/24 9:47:02 ( 1052 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, August 11, 2003: Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee spoke candidly about female feticide in the country and appealed to the public at large to stop the practice. Delivering his speech at a function to give away the fifth Dr. Durgabai Deshmukh award, Vajpayee said, "More than 1.5 million cases of female feticide have taken place in the last ten years. This is a blot on our society. Even in some economically advanced states, the number of female population is decreasing as compared to the male population. This is a warning bell." Even though the government has made efforts to stop the practice by forming NGO's to oversee the social aspect of the problem, it has proved ineffective.

Now, A Biotech Avatar For Ganesh

Posted on 2003/8/24 9:46:02 ( 942 reads )


BANGALORE, INDIA, August 22, 2003: Come Ganesh Chaturthi, and Bangaloreans will be treated to a new interpretation of one of the most popular Hindu Gods next week. This has fired the imagination of Rajeev Bhat, a city biotechnologist and a self-taught artist. He has interpreted Lord Ganesha in his paintings using human genes and chromosome images. He has scientifically presented the protein synthesis of an organism on his canvas, which symbolically takes the form of the outline of Lord Ganesha's trunk. And, according to him, the two are interlinked. "Just as Ganesha is the Omkara or the base for everything, genes are responsible for particular characteristics of a person. While chanting the Omkara during meditation, you achieve single-mindedness. Once you develop control over the mind it reflects in your personality, which becomes evident in behavior and is also related scientifically to your genes. I think this is the first time that such a painting has been created in Bangalore," Bhat, founder of the Riddhi Art Gallery said.

Terrorist Blast in Ayodhya temple, No Casualties

Posted on 2003/8/24 9:45:02 ( 1018 reads )


AYODHYA, INDIA, August 23, 2003: A bomb exploded inside a temple near the Ram Janmabhoomi site here on Friday night damaging its roof and side walls, police said on Saturday. However, no casualties were reported in the explosion inside the Nishad temple in Katra locality at around midnight, they said, adding the temple was situated not far from the acquired land. Senior civil and police officials, including district magistrate Deepak Kumar and SSP Prabhat Kumar, visited the site and an police report has been made. No arrests have been made so far in this connection, police said.

Fire in Another Swayambhu Temple in Nepal

Posted on 2003/8/23 9:49:02 ( 1344 reads )


KATHMANDU, NEPAL, August 18, 2003: Two weeks after a fire gutted Pratappur temple at Swayambhu (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), another fire Sunday broke out at Tara temple, adjoining the southern side of the main stupa of Swayambhunath, a report said Monday. "The fire was instantly put out before it could cause any major damage," The Himalayan Times reported. Some pilgrims said it was due to some reckless pilgrims who might have thrown burning lamps inside. Others suspect that some mischievous gang, intent on destroying the heritage of Kathmandu, might by behind the fire, the report said.

Festivals Leave Delhi Short On Milk

Posted on 2003/8/23 9:48:02 ( 0 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, August 20, 2003: Over the last three days, the demand for milk has suddenly shot up, resulting in Mother Dairy outlets running dry. The reason: The dual festivals of Rakhi and Janmashtami have increased the intake of sweets of Delhiites over the last week. On Tuesday, many areas of the city could not get milk and people queued up at Mother Dairy outlets only to return disappointed. A spokesman for Mother Dairy said demand had risen by over 20 percent because of the Rakhi and Janmashtami falling close to each other. He said that supply of milk had, in fact, been increased and assured that the situation would normalize over the next few days. The prices of milk powder and ghee have also shot up in wholesale markets due to the high demand for sweets. At Khari Baoli wholesale market -- the biggest in Delhi for the two products -- milk powder was selling at $1.46 per kg a week ago but currently it is priced at over $1.98 per kg. For comparison, one can buy powdered milk wholesale in the US for $1.65 per kilo. The price of ghee in Delhi has also risen from $2.71 per kg to $3.13 per kg.

Indian Church Claims to be Under Attack

Posted on 2003/8/23 9:47:02 ( 1015 reads )


USA, August 21, 2003: The following report appears on the Gospel for Asia web site. "Gospel for Asia church of 51 believers in Jharkhand, India, is under attack as anti-Christian leaders meet to decide its fate! Many in the village have expressed their desire to beat GFA missionary Babuser and the new believers, steal their land and other belongings, and ultimately drive them out of the village. As the village meeting continues, they are pressuring leaders to inflict maximum harm on these believers. Village leaders have already made at least one decision: The Christians must pay a fee to even meet together for church. GFA missionaries from other villages have traveled there to encourage their brothers and sisters in Christ. This persecution follows a mighty move of God. By God's grace, three influential families in the village very recently received Christ! Even as the lives of the Christians in this village are in danger, they ask us to pray they will stand strong in the faith and see the ministry grow. They also request prayer that those opposing the Gospel will be touched by the love of Christ." HPI adds: This account is typical of GFA's reports on India and very difficult to either confirm or refute. If someone in India has direct knowledge of this situation, kindly e-mail hpi@hindu.org.

Fremont Officials Say Festival Of India Can Stay

Posted on 2003/8/22 9:49:02 ( 963 reads )


FREMONT, CALIFORNIA, August 19, 2003: After two days of celebration with none of the major problems that nearly forced its cancellation a year ago, Fremont officials say they expect the city will remain home to the Festival of India for many years to come. Last year, city officials initially denied the festival's permit after persistent litter, scheduling, noise and security problems. But they now agree the event has made positive changes. "It pretty much went off without a hitch," Police chief Craig Steckler said Monday, a day after the city hosted the largest cultural celebration for Indo-Americans in the San Francisco Bay Area. Mayor Gus Morrison said he sees the festival being around year after year. Major problems in past years threatened its future here. The series of problems led City Manager Jan Perkins to deny issuing the festival a permit in the spring of 2002. After negotiations with the city, festival organizers were given an 11th-hour reprieve: a one-day permit, or, really a one-shot chance at staging a problem-free event with the help of a professional planer. With a variety of Indian stores, restaurants and other businesses, Fremont has come to be viewed as the most Indo-American urban city in California.

Jalna Musician Enters Guinness Book

Posted on 2003/8/22 9:48:02 ( 1528 reads )


JALNA, INDIA, August 21, 2003: Twenty-eight-year-old music teacher, Prasad Shriram Choudhary, has entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for continuously playing tabla for 46 hours. A certificate and letter were sent congratulating Prasad for successfully setting a new World Record on April 15-16 of this year. He had already been included in India's Limca Book of World Record. Determined to set the record, Prasad practised rigorously to sit continuously for 50 hours. However, he made it up to 46 hours. Prasad, a disciple of Pandit Satishchandra Chaudhary, an artist with the All India Radio, runs Bhagwan Maharaj Pimpalgaonkar Sangeet Vidyalaya where he teaches music to about 100 students. "I will use my experience and achievement for the growth of music in Jalna as well as in Maharashtra," said Prasad. His performance was monitored by at least 13 supervisors, the gazetted officers of the state government and six doctors.

US Judge to Reconsider Ruling on Church Land-Use Law

Posted on 2003/8/22 9:47:02 ( 855 reads )

Religion News Service

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, August 21, 2003: A Los Angeles federal judge has agreed to reconsider his earlier ruling that declared parts of the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson had alarmed some lawyers and religious leaders when he ruled in June that the federal law aimed at helping houses of worship overcome land-use disputes violated the constitutional guarantee of equal protection under the law. On Aug. 11 he put his decision on hold and, at the request of attorneys for the Elsinore Christian Center in Lake Elsinore, Calif., agreed to reconsider it, the Los Angeles Times reported. The church sued the city of Lake Elsinore in 2001 after it was denied a conditional-use permit to move into a former grocery store building. Wilson said the church might be able to pursue its case under the commerce clause of the Constitution. If it did that, there would be no need for him to decide about the constitutionality of the religious land use act. Robert H. Tyler, legal counsel to the Alliance Defense Fund, an Arizona-based group representing the church with the Washington-based Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, called Wilson's latest decision "a major victory at this stage of the litigation." The judge has delayed a final ruling for four months to give opposing sides of the legal matter time to conduct discovery and depositions. Wilson, who called the three-year-old law "a blunderbuss of a remedy" thought it unfairly prevented local authorities from making legitimate land-use decisions "simply because the aggrieved landowner is a religious actor." His original decision marked the first time that the law -- the basis for dozens of land-use suits currently in the courts across the nation -- had been struck down by a federal judge. Enacted in 2000, the law was supported by an unusually wide range of religious groups, from evangelical Christians to Jews and Muslims to Hindus. HPI adds: This is an important legal issue for any Hindu temple in America seeking to buy land, or intending to expand, and should be followed closely by the temple's lawyer and trustees.

Talk on Treatment of India in American Schools

Posted on 2003/8/22 9:46:02 ( 921 reads )


SUNNYVALE, CALIFORNIA, August 23, 2003: Dr. Yvette Rosser will give a talk August 23, 2003, from 6: to 7:30 pm at the Fair Oaks Community Center, 540 North Fair Oaks Avenue, Sunnyvale, California on the subject of the treatment of India as a subject in American schools. Admission is free. Dr. Rosser's study, an analysis of the treatment of India in the American secondary social studies curriculum, includes a study of the negative impact that the standard essential presentation of India, in American classrooms, has on the identity formation of American high school students of Hindu descent. She has designed and led several workshops for high school teachers to help them better understand and teach about India. The talk is sponsored by the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh ("source" above).

Dr. Rosser completed B.A. with Honors in the Department of Oriental and African Languages and Literature, an M.A. in the Department of Asian Studies, and a Ph.D. in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction all from University of Texas in Austin. Her Master's Thesis topic was Global Education: India in the U.S. Secondary Social Studies Curriculum, and her Doctoral Dissertation topic was Curricula as Destiny: Forging National Identities in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Currently, she is a Research Associate with the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) in New Delhi, while residing in Austin, Texas. She has published many papers and articles. Her publications include topics that discuss common stereotypes found in teaching about India and suggests corrective strategies for Hindus to strengthen the positive aspects of their religion, culture, and heritage so that it flourishes in America.

Did Your Temple Society Once Meet in a Christian Church?

Posted on 2003/8/22 9:45:02 ( 1190 reads )


KAUAI, HAWAII, August 22, 2003: Vishwan@aol.com made this interesting suggestion for an article in Hinduism Today: "The Unitarian Universalist Congregation churches have opened their doors to many small Hindu bhajana or study groups in many cities in the U.S. In our town, they have even permitted us to put up a permanent altar within the confines of their church building, possibly a unique first for any Christian church. In some cities like Nashville, the huge Ganesha temple ( I am told ) had it's beginnings in the minds of a group that also met at a Unitarian church. Even going back to the times of Swami Vivekananda's visit to the U.S., I noticed that some of the talks were referenced as being made at a Unitarian church. Perhaps, an in-depth article exploring the beliefs of this church and their tolerance of other religious paths with examples from the Hindu community, might be interesting as well as being an acknowledgement of their breadth of vision and the helpful role they are playing." Hindus in Western countries are invited to write HPI at "source" above with any stories of how their organizations were offered facilities by local Unitarian or other churches.

Ram Katha a Hit in Brazil's Rain Forest

Posted on 2003/8/21 9:49:02 ( 975 reads )


BRAZIL, August 15, 2003: India and Brazil may have more in common than the story of the historical error made by Portuguese explorer Pedros Alvares Cabral, who sailed from Lisbon in 1500 for India but landed in Brazil. Now the two countries, on board the IBSA tri-lateral initiative, may discover a "Shri Ram" connection in their ties. The Amazon rain forest in Brazil was the venue recently of a Ram Katha by Sant Murari Bapu that drew followers from all over the globe including Brazilians who danced to the tune of Jai Shri Ram, rather than Samba. The Ram Katha is a combination of dramatic story telling and group singing recalling the story of Lord Rama, and usually spread over several days. The famous Amazon resort, Aryau Towers, which has a hotel with tree-top rooms, even turned vegetarian for 10 days and welcomed the Ram bhaktas with Sri Ram T-shirts, with the hotel staff turned out in saffron. It is no surprise then that the Ministry of External Affairs has promptly planned a Festival of India in Brazil.

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