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New Edition of "On Common Ground, World Religions in America" Released
Posted on 2002/2/22 22:47:02 ( 617 reads )


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USA, February 23, 2002: The Pluralism Project of Harvard University announced the release of the second edition of their CD-ROM, On Common Ground: World Religions in America, currently available from Columbia University Press. The CD-ROM has increased functionality across platforms, enhanced color display, and includes active links to the World Wide Web. The primary content remains similar to the first version: through text, image, and sound, the CD provides a snapshot of an historical moment in an emerging multi-religious America. The newest version is compatible with Windows 2000, Windows NT, Mac OS X and many other operating systems. For more information, click "source" above.




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Punjab 'Holocaust' Warning
Posted on 2002/2/22 22:46:02 ( 589 reads )


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PUNJAB, INDIA, February 20, 2002: We are heading towards the greatest holocaust of unborn girls in human history, according to Sabu George, a girls' rights campaigner. Girls are viewed as a burden in this community of farmers, where in the past some families would ask village midwives to kill a newborn baby if it turned out to be a female. Now because of ultrasound technology, they do not have to wait so long. A simple scan can reveal the sex of an unborn baby, and if it is a girl, the family is likely to force the mother to undergo an abortion. Sex determination tests were banned in 1994, but they continue to be performed and they are blamed for a dramatic drop in the number of girls. According to India's 2001 census, nationally there are 927 girls for every 1000 boys up to the age of six, down from 945 in 1991. Affluent states in the north and west, where ultrasound clinics first sprang up, have the lowest figures. Punjab is at the very bottom, with just 793 girls for every 1000 boys. "As the shortage becomes more and more, you will find much, much greater violence against surviving women," said George.




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South African Carnatic Violinist Dead at 78
Posted on 2002/2/22 22:45:02 ( 691 reads )


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DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA, February 20, 2002: The country mourns the end of an era in the passing of an incomparable violinist and music teacher, "Sangeetha Kalaimani" Arunajalam Govindsamy Pillay. Born in Pietermaritzburg in 1924 he came under the tutelage of Edward J. Govindaswami who taught him classical music and Tamil literature. In 1948, Pillay went to India to further his studies in music and literature. He took his training in violin from his guru Vidwan N.G. Krishnamurthy Iyer and after achieving proficiency in the art, the title "Sangeetha Kalaimani" was conferred upon him. Upon return to South Africa he found that opportunities in his field of expertise were limited, so he worked in the Department of Justice as a Tamil court interpreter. Pillay accompanied local and visiting carnatic musicians and taught music to his many students, mostly children. He served on the adjudication panel for the Tamil Eisteddfod and was an active member of the Vivekananda Mission of South Africa. He was articulate in both Tamil and English, but had a profound love for the Tamil language and literature. A close friend of Pillay's, Palanisamy Devan, a retired superintendent of education, eulogized him. "He played with incredible accuracy and dexterity.....and the most difficult passages were effortless. He truly believed that music is divine," Devan said. In a foreword to her dissertation on Music Amongst Indian South Africans submitted to the University of Natal for the degree of Master of Music, Melveen Jackson, lauded Pillay for "teaching me much about Indian music, music in South Africa, Indian literature, spirituality and humanity in general."




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Are Indians Unaware of Their Rich Dance Culture?
Posted on 2002/2/22 22:44:02 ( 669 reads )


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AMRITSAR, INDIA, February 18, 2002: After teaching his ancient art of Oriya dance to students in Singapore, Shashadhar Acharya returned home to pass on his skills and passion during a theatre workshop organized by Sangeet Natak Academy and Guru Nanak Dev University. Upon reflection of his experience in Singapore to that of India Shashadhar Acharya said, "He was impressed with the group in Singapore who showed a genuine interest in the dance. However, he felt that his countrymen remain largely unaware of the value of their rich culture and traditions, including folk dances." Having taught at the National School of Drama for ten years and at the Sriram Centre for Art and Culture in New Delhi, Acharya further elaborated on the techniques of the Oriya dance style and compared them to that of classical dances.




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Delhi's Dazzling Sari Exhibition
Posted on 2002/2/22 22:43:02 ( 668 reads )


Source: The Hindu





DELHI, INDIA, February 23, 2002: "The world's most graceful dress for women is just six yards of untailored cloth. A few deft operations and you step forth with poise and presence. Here in these pages is the secret of how to do it...." Thus goes a leaflet presented by the Central Cottage Industries Emporium (CCIE) to coincide with Lavanya, a sari exhibition currently on at its premises in Janpath. Featuring a fine collection of Patan Patola, Rajkot Patola, Tie and Dye from Jamnagar, Kanjeevarams and Banarasi saris, the exhibition, indeed, unravels the beauty that is the sari. To unravel the mystery of sari weaving, especially the Patan Patolas, the CCIE had arranged presentations and talk by the eminent designer Bela Singhvi on February 16. Besides propagating the art of wearing and weaving a sari, the exhibition has also brought together a breath-taking collection of some of the finest textiles of the country -- a display that is sure to dazzle the visitor. Sponsored by the Development Commissioner for Handicrafts, the 10-day exhibition, which closed February 26, is also providing a glimpse of the rich embroidery work which goes into the making of a sari.




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Truce After Two Decades of War in Sri Lanka
Posted on 2002/2/21 22:49:02 ( 567 reads )


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COLOMBO, SRI LANKA, February 22, 2002: The Sri Lankan Government and Tamil Tiger rebels have agreed to a permanent ceasefire as part of a Norwegian initiative to end almost two decades of civil war. Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe has signed a memorandum of understanding drawn up by Norwegian negotiators which puts an indefinite truce in place. The chief negotiator of the Tamil Tigers, Anton Balasingham, said the memorandum would come into force on February 24. The agreement is expected to be very detailed, covering treatment of civilians by both sides, conditions for movement of unarmed combatants in each other's territory and issues like fresh recruitment.




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A High Tech Documentary Featuring an Ancient Theme
Posted on 2002/2/21 22:48:02 ( 693 reads )


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AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND, February 11, 2002: Imagine a documentary show-casing a pilgrim's journey from New Zealand, through India, attendance at last years Maha Kumbh Mela, and culminating back in New Zealand for a soul-stirring performance with Indian sarod player Vikash Maharaj. Andrei Jewell, an Auckland film maker whose love of Indian culture began when he was 16 years old, has produced the documentary called Holiwater. Featuring the pilgrim Isaac Tucker, an Auckland percussionist who was formerly associated with a contemporary jazz group, the documentary according to Jewell was, " As much as following Isaac, I was looking at the way the river system of the Ganges was suffering from over population. I am interested in the marriage of technology and tradition but looking at environmental as well as cultural issues."




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Hindu University "Good Karma" For Central Florida
Posted on 2002/2/21 22:47:02 ( 649 reads )


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ORLANDO, FLORIDA, February 19, 2002: The developers of Orlando's Hindu University of America are certain of one thing: the unique institution they are planning already has plenty of good karma. "When you are doing God's work, He makes things happen," says Hindu University chairman, Braham Aggarwal, 66. In Hinduism, the faith of nearly a billion people, the concept of karma dictates a world in cosmic and individual balance. Soon after the university acquired a ten-acre site on Econlockhatchee Trail for the school, officials received an unsolicited gift from an absentee neighbor who donated an adjoining 2.5-acre parcel of land. The school's present core curriculum includes principles of Hinduism, practice of Hinduism and basic Sanskrit. Ultimately, the curriculum will be a mixture of academic and nonacademic disciplines, from the study of the sacred Vedas, to yoga, meditation and astrology. Aggarwal believes the need for such an institution is critical, especially for a faith that does not proselytize. "Hinduism is the least understood philosophy in this country," he says.




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Smugglers In Wildlife "Are Wiping Out Species"
Posted on 2002/2/21 22:46:02 ( 550 reads )


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LONDON, ENGLAND, February 18, 2002: More than a million imported items of endangered wildlife have been seized in Britain in the past five years, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) revealed today in the first detailed analysis of the confiscated goods. The study shows that even the most commonly recognized endangered species are being smuggled into this country. In a typical week, British customs officers seize items of elephant ivory or skin, and tiger products -- mainly used in traditional Chinese medicine -- every other day. Also among the 570 items seized each day between 1996 and 2001 are rare orchids, cacti, shells, corals, and leopard and rhino products, as well as 1,000 frogs, 1,000 birds and even a live cheetah. However over the same period, the fines levied were equal to a mere US$0.14 for each item seized. Wildlife crime is estimated by Interpol to be worth more than $8 billion a year and, after drugs, is thought to be the most lucrative illegal trade in the world. The report, Traded Towards Extinction, says the trade is helping to destroy habitats and wipe out some of the world's most endangered species -- but not enough customs officers are available to stop it. Once the smugglers get past customs, it is not even an crime to sell some of the world's most endangered species under current legislation. On average, the report says, only one prosecution is undertaken for every 130,000 items seized.




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Anuradha Paudwal Survives Copter Crash
Posted on 2002/2/21 22:45:02 ( 705 reads )


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INDORE, INDIA, February 21, 2002: A helicopter carrying Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee President, Radhakishan Malviya and noted recording and concert artist, singer Anuradha Paudwal, crashed here on Thursday near Kumheri Kakad village, official sources said. However, all the occupants of the copter survived, though one suffered a spinal injury. Paudwal, one of India's most beloved performers, was here to present a live bhajana on Wednesday night on the occasion of Lakshachandi yagna.




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Andaman Tribes May Have Link With Africans
Posted on 2002/2/21 22:44:02 ( 677 reads )


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LUCKNOW, INDIA, January 6, 2002: Three tribes of the Andaman and Nicobar islands may have links with an African tribe, believed to be one of the world's oldest human community and if established, the link could dramatically change the evolutionary history of mankind, a senior scientist said here. "After analyzing the genetic make up of endangered tribal communities like Jaroa, Onge and Greater Andamanese, we concluded that some of the genetic features of Jaroas and Onges has significant resemblance with pygmies, leading to a possibility that they were related in distant past," Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) Director Dr. Lalji Singh told the Indian Science Congress here. He said some African tribes like the pygmies are known to be the oldest human community on earth. India has about 400 tribal communities and if the link between the Indian and their African tribes are established then the evolutionary history of mankind would be changed dramatically, he said. "The preliminary findings suggest that the Indian tribes were probably one of the earliest migrants from Africa, about 60,000 years, and the anthropological features too support our theory as both pygmies and the Indian tribes have similar features, curly hair extremely dark complexion and both are short structured", Singh said. Other recent genetic research indicates the people of India were part of a wave of migration out of Africa 30,000 years ago. The Andaman tribes are noted for being one of the few peoples on Earth to have never discovered how to make fire.




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Rudra Centre Cites Benefits Of Rudraksha
Posted on 2002/2/21 22:43:02 ( 648 reads )


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MAHARASHTRA, INDIA, February 19, 2002: The first issue of the Rudra Centre's Rudraksha World Newsletter presents informative articles and personal testimonials regarding the historical and contemporary use of rudraksha beads. The naturally beads from India and Nepal have been worn for thousands of years by the yogis and the holy people of India as an alternative therapy for better health and as a powerful addition to the spiritual path leading to self empowerment and enlightenment. Interested parties can browse "source" above.




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Patel Versus Rasul: The Great UK Divide
Posted on 2002/2/20 22:49:02 ( 608 reads )


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LONDON, ENGLAND, February 19, 2002: The great sub-continental divide is alive and well, 7,000 miles away from India and Pakistan as Britain digests the news that people like 12-year-old ethnic Indian Abhay Patel and his Pakistani classmate Ahmed Rasul will grow up to be painfully different. According to an interesting new government study of U.K.'s one-million Indians and 700,000 Pakistanis, boys like Patel are more likely to be white-collar workers and pillars of British society. For Rasul, the future may be bleak and in the dole queue. The study, commissioned by Prime Minister Tony Blair, is stark about the impact of ethnicity, religion and class on life, livelihoods and living standards. It says that Britain's Pakistani Muslims are three times more likely to be jobless than Hindus. Sociologists say there is no contest at all. Patel is from an environment that pushes him to succeed. If Rasul does well, they say, it would be despite his circumstances. The study appears to be uncompromising about the role of religion, warning that "the odds of being unemployed do vary with religion," but it also finds racism to be a huge drawback.




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Three Thousand Languages in Danger of Disappearing
Posted on 2002/2/20 22:48:02 ( 605 reads )


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PARIS, FRANCE, February 20, 2002: About half of the world's 6,000 languages are under threat of disappearing under pressure from more dominant tongues or repressive government policies, a new study says. From France and Russia to the Americas and Australia, minority languages and the heritage that goes along with them are at risk of dying out, according to a UNESCO study to be released Thursday. "With the death and disappearance of a language, an irreplaceable unit in our knowledge and understanding of human thought and world-view is lost forever," said a statement by the Paris-based United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The 90 page study, "Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger of Disappearing," said the Americas and Australia had the worst record. "In the United States, less than 150 Indian languages have survived out of several hundreds that were spoken before the arrival of the Europeans." According to the study, a native language can disappear when its speakers relocate and are required to speak the dominant tongue to get a job and function in the new society, or because they confront a more aggressive or economically stronger culture. Widespread bilingual or multilingual government policies on the Indian subcontinent have helped keep local languages alive there.




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Hindus Celebrate Saraswati Puja in Bangladesh
Posted on 2002/2/20 22:47:02 ( 619 reads )


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CHITTAGONG, BANGLADESH, February 19, 2002: The Hindu community celebrated the Saraswati Puja in the port city of Chittagong on Sunday. Students especially paid homage to Saraswati, the Goddess of knowledge and learning, at the different puja mondops, temporary temples. Parents also honored the Goddess for the bright academic future of their sons and daughters. The devotees gathered at the pavilion for worship in the morning. In the evening they arranged a "priti sommilon" and cultural program and worshipped at the JM Sen Hall, Deyanji Pukur Lane, Jamal Khan, Pathargata, Agrabad, Nandankanan, Ghatforharbad, Chawkbazar, and Teribaza mondops in the city.




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