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Gujarat Police Consider Ban on Holi Festivities
Posted on 2002/3/29 22:47:02 ( 620 reads )


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AHMEDABAD, GUJARAT, March 28, 2002: Authorities are considering a complete ban on playing with colors, especially balloons and bulbs which could contain lethal fluids, on Holi. Although the decision on the extent of effecting prohibitory orders and curtailing movement on this festival is yet to be finalized, police sources say there might be a blanket curfew over a wide area in the cities, apart from the 40 police stations which are already curfew-bound. After a peaceful Muharram, the authorities are taking no chances and security has been geared up across the state in view of Holi which coincides with Good Friday. In Godhra, the VHP was prevented from holding a "shanti yagna" in the town in memory of the 58 train carnage victims. Security has been tightened in the industrial belt in Surat. In Rajkot police commissioner Upendra Singh said a special action plan had been chalked out to ensure a peaceful Holi.




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"Meeting God" Exhibit Get Good Review in New York Times
Posted on 2002/3/29 22:46:02 ( 698 reads )


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NEW YORK, NEW YORK, March 29, 2002: "Meeting God: Elements of Hindu Devotion" at the American Museum of Natural History here in New York City got this positive review from the New York Times. "Visitors to this amazing, often moving hodgepodge of a show may or may not encounter the divine presence. But they can easily enter into its mood of euphoric reference and spiritual graciousness while also learning a lot about one of the world's great religions. The displays roam through art, craft and kitsch (overly sentimental); they include beautiful facsimiles of household Hindu shrines and lavishly costumed, spice-daubed statues. Connecting links are provided by videotapes, music, text panels and, most of all, the color photographs of Steven P. Huyler, one of the exhibition's organizers. The centerpiece is a stupendous trompe l'oeil (a style of painting that gives an illusion of photographic reality) re-creation of a sacred banyan tree bedecked with offerings and surrounded by sculptures produced by the museum's diorama artists. It is rare to see so much information, spiritual feeling and visual beauty brought into such effective alignment."




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Indian Film Director Honored in Washington
Posted on 2002/3/29 22:45:02 ( 608 reads )


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WASHINGTON, D.C., March 25, 2002: Playing right now at the Library of Congress, the National Geographic Society and American University, in the city of Washington, D.C., are 35 films directed by India's Satyajit Ray. Acclaimed as one of the 20th century's greatest directors, Ray was given a honorary Oscar for his work in the field before he died in 1992. This showing is to commemorate his work. Soumitra Chatterjee, an actor who starred in 15 of Ray's films, first introduced the series at the National Gallery of Art. Presented in the Bengali language with subtitles in English, the films are all showing together. Satyajit Ray began his film career in India in 1955 by producing the first part of a trilogy centering around the story of Apu, the son of a poor priest whose life changed when he moved to Calcutta. Financed by pawning his wife's jewelry, the film was a masterpiece of story-telling and character development.




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Yoga Gains Popularity in US Schools
Posted on 2002/3/25 22:49:02 ( 626 reads )


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SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, March 24, 2002: Sixty San Francisco classroom teachers make yoga an integral part of physical education as well as regular classes. At seven public schools here -- with more on the way -- the "yoga break" has taken its place beside typical school rituals. Yoga Journal, a Berkeley-based bimonthly, calls it "Om Schooling." Besieged by budget cuts, most of California's elementary schools no longer have a physical education teacher. With free teacher training by Tony Sanchez, a yoga master, yoga is becoming an integral part of the physical education classes and the regular classroom as well. Sanchez founded the United States Yoga Association, a nonprofit organization. Sanchez has trained 60 classroom teachers citywide in Hatha yoga, which concentrates on athletic postures and breathing techniques. Yoga is not common in the American classroom yet. But it is increasingly becoming part of the physical education curriculum nationwide. In Seattle, 15 of 97 public schools have yoga as a warm-up in gym class, and it is an elective for high school students, said Bud Turner, the physical education coordinator. "Physical education is moving in the direction of lifetime activities like toning, swimming and yoga," Turner said. "We're getting away from traditional team sports dominated by three kids in the athletic elite." San Francisco's yoga-in-the-schools program was prompted by the failure of 74 percent of California public school students to meet state fitness requirements, said Gloria Siech, a physical education content specialist for the San Francisco Public schools. To avoid potential controversy, she said, the program focuses solely on the physical aspects of yoga. There is no Sanskrit or mention of Hindu deities.




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Dalit Leader Criticizes India's Hindus
Posted on 2002/3/25 22:48:02 ( 645 reads )


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HYDERABAD, INDIA, March 26, 2002: "Buddha, Jesus, Christ and Marx are the ideal persons for our society," stated Kancha Illaiah. He teaches politics at the Government Women's College, Koti, Hyderabad, is active in the Dalit-Bahujan [Scheduled and Backward Caste] movement and wrote a book, "Why I Am Not A Hindu." His remarks at a convention on Dalit literature reflect one controversial view of the place of Hinduism in India. According to this article, he claimed more and more people in the world are turning to Christianity and Islam as they preached equality among humans unlike Hinduism which divided people on the basis of caste and religion. He criticized the brahmin caste and said, "The Bhagvad Gita only taught how to kill the people, which is being followed by brahmins in this country."




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Siddheshvari Devi Well Received in Alabama
Posted on 2002/3/25 22:47:02 ( 707 reads )


Source: Religion News Service





HUNTSVILLE, ALABAMA, March 20, 2002: Siddheshvari Devi Ji could use "On the Road Again" as her theme song. Devi Ji, better known as Didi Ji, is one of the few female Hindu swamis in North America and she's almost always on the road. She carries all of her worldly possessions in a suitcase as she travels, giving discourses on the essence of Hinduism and seeking to dispel what she says are the myths and misconceptions related to one of the world's oldest religions. The founder of Divine Love Mission, Didi Ji's message during a recent visit to Alabama -- her first -- focused on the inner happiness and peace she finds at the essence of Hinduism. Dr. Laj Utreja, president of the Hindu Cultural Center of North Alabama, estimates there are about 400 Hindu families in the Huntsville area. Didi Ji was raised in a traditional Hindu family but never understood why she believed what her parents taught her and her three siblings about their faith. "I had always respected Hinduism because it respects other faiths and doesn't place restrictions on God," she said. "But I had taken it for granted growing up. When my family moved to Canada (when she was 13), I found there was no real happiness in the world, and it was decreasing in intensity with age. "If there's no happiness in the world, then where is it? It must only be through God." Veena Kaul, an auditor for the city of Huntsville, said Didi Ji "has the love of the Lord in her. She inspires you so much. "What I see in her is one who is loving, kind and thinks about the Lord all the time. Her vibrations make me cry." Kaul said.




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Indian Farmers Want Right to Grow BT Cotton
Posted on 2002/3/25 22:46:02 ( 594 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, March 25, 2002: Groups of cotton farmers from four states have threatened to disobey the government ban on the use of genetically modified BT Cotton seed, unless a final decision on commercialization of the gene-vitalized seed is arrived at soon. The announcement comes less than 24 hours before a crucial meeting of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) on March 26. Farmers have already started to use the BT cotton, which generates its own pesticide, but without the provisions used in the US to prevent the insects from rapidly developing resistance to the pesticide.




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Buddhist Monks Protest at Gaya Temple
Posted on 2002/3/24 22:49:02 ( 680 reads )


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GAYA, INDIA, March 25, 2002: About 200 Buddhist monks, led by Bhadant Surai Sasai, on Saturday encircled the Mahabodhi Temple and sat on an indefinite dharna, or protest, demanding the transfer of the temple management to an all-Buddhist committee and effective ban on the entry of people with shoes on in the temple. The Mahabodhi Temple is the most sacred Buddhist shrine where Buddha attained enlightenment about 2,500 years ago. It is also sacred to Hindus. The Buddhists lost control of the temple when it was destroyed by Muslims in the 13th century. The abandoned site was claimed by a Hindu swami, Mahant Ghamandi Giri, in 1590, and his successors have controlled the place since. The monks' move came as a surprise as the administrative officials were not aware of any such plan. At present the temple is managed by a nine-member committee of five Hindus and four Buddhists.




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Tamil Nadu CM Launches Feeding and Education Programs at Temples
Posted on 2002/3/24 22:48:02 ( 419 reads )


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CHENNAI, INDIA, March 24, 2002: The chief minister of Tamil Nadu, Jayalalitha, launched the "Anna Dhan" program in 63 temples across the state today. Under this program, voluntary contributions will be used to feed the poor. She inaugurated the program this afternoon by serving food to 200 people at the Kapaleeshwarar temple. A hundi, offering box, is kept in each temple chosen for the program. The offerings put into the hundi will form an endowment fund, the interest from which would be used to run the program. More than US$2,100 was collected at the Kapaleeshwarar temple on the first day. As part of the program, temples will hold spiritual and moral classes on weekends. The CM said that if Christians had Sunday schools in churches, why shouldn't Hindus have religious schools at temples?




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National Commission for Minorities Requests Mosque Rebuilding
Posted on 2002/3/24 22:47:02 ( 644 reads )


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AHMEDABAD,INDIA, March 17, 2002: After meeting with Justice Mohammad Shamim on a recent visit to the state of Gujarat, the National Commission for Minorities was given assurance that the state government will rebuild mosques and dargahs (Sufi shrines). With over 69 damaged sites listed by the Gujarat Chand committee, the project could be a major one. A 250-year-old mosque, the Muhafiz Khan Masjid in Ahmedabad, which was protected by the Archaeological Survey of India, suffered extensive damage. This is only one religious site. Fifteen sites were either totally demolished or badly damaged by fire. An additional ten have been converted into Hindu temples.




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India's National Human Rights Commission Investigates Gujarat Riots
Posted on 2002/3/23 22:49:02 ( 639 reads )


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AHMEDABAD, INDIA, March 24, 2002: An outpouring of emotions greeted the National Human Rights Commission team that visited the state three weeks after the communal violence began. While a jittery officialdom tried to explain to the NHRC that it did all it could to contain the riots, the victims of the riots narrated quite another story -- that of collusion among the political leadership, the rioters and the police. Led by retired chief justice of Supreme Court J S Verma, the commission's secretary general PC Sen and special rapporteur Chaman Lal held extensive talks with top government officials. "The message was conveyed very clearly. Senior bureaucrats and police officials were asked as to what they were doing during the riots, what steps and measures they took to control the situation, whose failure it was, what was the state of alertness and whose responsibility it was," an official said on terms of anonymity. The commission also met the women victims subjugated to sexual abuse and rape. Representations were then made by the survivors who lost their family members and households.




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Hindu Human Rights Group Gets BBC to Change
Posted on 2002/3/23 22:48:02 ( 664 reads )


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HATFIELD, UNITED KINGDOM, March 24, 2002: Mahendra Joshi of the human rights organization, "Cause We Care," reports that they have successfully gotten the BBC to replace the word "militant" with the word "activist" when describing the Hindus attacked on the train in Godhra. At first, the BBC said, "Hundreds of people have died in India in the past two weeks after Muslim activists attacked a train carrying Hindu militants back from Ayodhya." Many other reports used the term "militant Hindus" when describing the Hindus killed, who were almost all women and children. Cause We Care lodged an official complaint with the BBC, backed by hundreds of e-mails from supporters. They received a reply from the BBC Newsonline stating, "We recognize that the use of the words referred to in your e-mail was not appropriate. Accordingly, we have changed the sentence concerned." Since then the BBC has been using "Hindu activists" in their reports on the train attack. The details are available at "source" above. They are next approaching the New York Times on the same issue.




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Fiji Bans Corporal Punishment in Schools
Posted on 2002/3/23 22:47:02 ( 662 reads )


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SUVA, FIJI, March 22, 2002: Fiji's High Court has banned corporal punishment, saying it's a breach of their constitution. In a landmark ruling, judge Jayant Prekash said the provisions of corporal punishment in the criminal procedure code and in the Ministry of Education guidelines contravene the constitution. The ruling follows a submission from the Human Rights Commission challenging the handing out of corporal punishment.




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Sudarshan Kriya Can Help Treat Depression
Posted on 2002/3/23 22:46:02 ( 1018 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, March 21, 2002: Researchers at the premier mental health institution, The National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-sciences (NIMHANS) in Bangalore, say that yogic breathing exercises, such as Sudarshan Kriya, has been found to achieve results as good as the best drugs in treating depression patients and alcoholics. Presenting the results at a recently concluded international symposium, professor of psychiatry, B.N. Gangadhar said the results of this exercise compare favorably with Imipramine, an established anti-depressant drug. Sudarshan Kriya is part of the stress management package offered by the Art of Living Foundation of Shri Ravi Shankar. Another researcher at this institute, Dr A Vedamurthachar, found this exercise proving effective at the de-addiction unit as well. The 30 alcoholics in the study were found to have reduced levels of depression and anxiety, he said.




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Mata Amritanandamayi Visit Malaysia
Posted on 2002/3/23 22:45:02 ( 671 reads )


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KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, March 23, 2002: Hindu spiritual guru Mata Amritanandamayi Devi will be making her first visit to Malaysia early next week. Ammah, as she is popularly known, is committed to demonstrating love and compassion for the poor and teaches that spirituality is the science and art of harmonious living. She is reported to have hugged over 20 million people worldwide since 1975 and has established orphanages for 600 children, a hospice centre, a home for battered women, a hospital providing free treatment for the poor and 19 schools and colleges. It is said that when Ammah embraces someone, it is a process of purification and inner healing. Ammah, who is from Kerala, India, served as one of the three Hindu "presidents," or principle representatives, of the Centenary Parliament of World Religions in Chicago in 1993 and was a speaker at the United Nations Millenium Peace Summit in August, 2000. Amma will offer darshan (blessings) via her hugs and will hold a spiritual discourse and meditation at Dewan Wawasan, Level 4 Menara PGRM, Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia, No 8 Jalan Pudu Ulu, Cheras, Kuala Lumpur from 7.30 pm onwards on Monday. For details, contact Murali at 012-207 0790 or Siva at 012-205 0760.




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