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Malaysia's Thaipusam Fees Opposed

Posted on 2003/4/11 9:49:02 ( 836 reads )


KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, April 5, 2003: Parti Keadilan Nasional wants the practice of charging fees for religious rites during Thaipusam changed and has submitted a memorandum to the Malaysia Hindu Sangam (MHS) asking for its help. The party's nine-member delegation handed the 17-point memo to Sangam president A. Vaithilingam yesterday. "We are asking the MHS to intervene for the benefit of devotees and the public," adding that all the points raised were based on public complaints. The issues raised include the collection of a US$2.63 fee for the Paal Kavadi (milk kavadi), the need to limit the tenure of Sri Maha Mariamman temple committee members to three years, the reduction of the hefty parking fees of $13.15 for buses and $2.63 for cars and the provision more public toilets and rubbish bins. Keadilan Youth has been protesting against the collection of fees for religious rites during Thaipusam celebrations. This is despite the temple committee having clarified in January, that the collection was for the maintenance and management of the temple which cost about $26,315 a month, as it did not get a single cent from the Government, although Batu Caves is a major tourist attraction. Vaithilingam said that although MHS is only an advisory body to all temples in the country, it would look into the issues raised by the delegation, adding that the memorandum would be discussed at their next national advisory council meeting.

American TV Hosts Hindu Worship Services

Posted on 2003/4/11 9:48:02 ( 938 reads )


CHICAGO, U.S.A., April 6, 2003: A Chicago Indian immigrant is helping area Hindus who cannot get to distant temples by showing "jagrans" on a public access television program. Avi Verma's program, Jagran TV, is on Chicago Access Network Television (CAN TV). Jagran TV is a half-hour show featuring Hindu religious services called jagrans that Verma organizes. The show recently celebrated its first anniversary, and Verma said he plans to continue performing, taping, editing and airing the jagrans as long as the Hindu community and CAN TV want them. "There are too many senior citizens and too many new Indian immigrants. It's hard for them to go to the temples," Verma said. "We thought we should do something so people could do their prayers sitting in their living room." According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are about 35,000 Indians in Chicago, and many of them live around Devon Avenue, the heart of Chicago's Indian community. Yet, the area's Hindu temples are 30 to 90 minutes away, in Hyde Park or the western suburbs. Verma usually starts the program with puja, or scripture recital. The jagran then focuses on Hindi singing and chanting. Verma invites musicians from the community or sponsors them to come from India to perform.

Buddhist-Hindu Exhibit At Chicago Art Institute

Posted on 2003/4/11 9:47:02 ( 889 reads )

Chicago Sun Times

CHICAGO, U.S.A., March 30, 2003: A one-of-a-kind show of Buddhist and Hindu art opened at the Art Institute of Chicago this week featuring 187 works of painting and sculpture from Tibet, Nepal, Kashmir and Bhutan. The works in the exhibit were chosen entirely for their aesthetic qualities, not to illustrate any particular philosophy, says Dr. Pratapaditya Pal, the Art Institute visiting curator of Indian, Himalayan and Southeast Asian art. The purpose of the exhibit, he says "is to encourage the viewer first to look and enjoy the beauty of the objects and then to explore their spiritual import." Hindu Deities dominate the Nepalese and Indian galleries. Here the principals of karma and reincarnation, the cycles of life, death and rebirth are illustrated through Hindu mythology which provides a rich cast of characters, many in animal forms. It is a mythology that offers what Pal calls "the osmosis between the human, the animal and the divine" that characterizes Eastern religions. The exhibit spans 1,500 years, four countries and two major world religions.

Manuscripts To Be Documented

Posted on 2003/4/11 9:46:02 ( 814 reads )


VADODARA, INDIA, April 3, 2003: A rare collection of around 2,647 miniature paintings and manuscripts, many of which have never been exhibited at Baroda Museum and Picture Art Gallery, are being readied for a comprehensive digital documentation. Art historian Ratan Parimoo has been assigned by the State government for a comprehensive study of this rare collection. "The present documentation is more of an inventory. In the last 50 years there has been exhaustive research in the different schools of miniature paintings," says Parimoo, who's seeing the entire collection for the first time. The miniature paintings cover almost all schools of paintings and include some Japanese sketches. Parimoo says if properly researched and documented, the collection will equal the one at the National Museum Institute, New Delhi. "Documentation is the first duty of any museum. In this computer age, digitalization helps to make records easily available," S. N. Pandey, assistant director and art curator of Baroda Museum, says.

Hindu Proofreaders Needed for Project Gutenberg

Posted on 2003/4/11 9:45:02 ( 834 reads )


UNITED STATES, April 7, 2003: Michael Hart founded Project Gutenberg in 1971 with the idea that anything that can be entered into a computer can be reproduced indefinitely. This led to the concept of entering books into computers and sharing these books with the world. Due to copyright laws, it is only legal to do this with older books (copyrighted 75 or more years ago). As a result, Project Gutenberg is mostly comprised of the "Classics." They are presently working on The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa" and "Vedanta-Sutras with the commentary of Sankaracharya," but the process is slow because there are so few Hindu proofreaders. Most of the volunteer proofreaders here are not familiar with Hindu words and terms. Any help from the Hindu community, even if it's just for one or two pages, would be welcome. For information on how to sign up to be a proof reader and about Project Gutenberg, kindly log on to "source" above.

Specially Trained Priests Give More Meaning to Hindu Rituals

Posted on 2003/4/11 9:44:02 ( 807 reads )


KAUAI, U.S.A., April 7, 2003: The March 26 HPI carried a story about specially trained priests who are helping to give additional meaning to Hindu rituals. Several readers have requested who they can contact about this program and how to get the books mentioned in the article. Readers may kindly contact Mr. Girish Bhapat at Jnana Prabodhini, 510 Sadashiv Peth, 411030 Pune, India.

Ganges Pollution Increasing

Posted on 2003/4/6 9:49:02 ( 890 reads )

Source: Nationwide News Pty Limited

VARANASI, INDIA, March 29, 2003: Hindus yearn to visit the holy Ganges River, to bathe in its sacred waters known to cleanse or wash away all sins, and many Hindus hope to die in Varanasi in order to escape from the cycle of rebirth. Approximately 80,000 people bathe daily on the ancient ghats of Varanasi. The source of the Ganges is in an ice cave high in the Himalayas, and it makes its way through the most densely populated area of the world until it merges into the Bay of Bengal. It is precisely along this journey that the river has accumulated raw sewage, human ash, animal carcasses and industrial waste. In 1985, the Ganges Action Plan was launched to start the cleanup by installing sewage plants in major cities along the river. However, the plan failed as it used too much of India's valuable energy resources and the plants in many cities are now idle. Since 1985, a recent study indicates that the amount of sewage flowing into the Ganges has doubled. Amrit Dhillan, reporter for Nationwide News, says, "The sacred Ganges has become so filthy that even Hindu holy men refuse to bathe in it." From fasting, to attract government attention, to lodging a public petition in the courts, these holy men are protesting the condition of the river. "Tests last year of Varanasi water samples showed that the fecal coliform count (a measure of human and animal waste in water) was 50 times the level considered acceptable for human beings," said M.C. Mehta, a Varanasi lawyer and environmentalist. He added, "No scheme will work unless it involves public participation. You have to educate the people to treat the river differently." Presently, locals wash laundry in the river and dump rubbish, bodies, plastic bags and rotting garlands. Mishra Mehta's group called the Friends of Ganges have been trying to force the Indian government to approve a new project called Clean Ganges. Mishra herself says, "I want to do my holy dip and yet I know the river is filthy. So I compromise by not going all the way in."

Pilgrimaging by Helicopter to the Famous Amarnath Shrine

Posted on 2003/4/6 9:48:02 ( 799 reads )


KASHMIR, INDIA, March 23, 2003: Pilgrims planning to visit the famous Amarnath Shrine in South Kashmir this year will now have another option for travel. A helicopter service, sponsored by the Jammu and Kashmir government, and approved by the Amarnath Shrine Board, was adopted in order to attract more pilgrims but also to attract tourists. This year the month-long pilgrimage will start on July 12th and end on August 12th. Governor G.C. Saxena, head of the Amarnath board says, "The pilgrimage has the potential to contribute US$1,489,361 to $1,702,127 to the state's economy annually. Forty percent of the Amarnath pilgrim traffic gets dispersed to various tourist places in the valley, and this trend needs to be promoted further." HPI adds: One wonders the impact of this plan upon the holy pilgrimage now accomplished only after arduous trekking up to the cave. Especially the proposal to bring "tourists" seems questionable, as this is one of the great sacred places of Hinduism and not a mere tourist attraction.

Construction of a New Nine Planet Temple

Posted on 2003/4/6 9:47:02 ( 873 reads )


KONARK, ORISSA, March 23, 2003: Orissa International Center, a non-government organization, plans to submit a proposal to the Chief Minister of Orissa on April 1, that 100 acres of land between Konark and Chandrabaga be set aside for the building of a new Navagraha Temple. The temple would house the nine planets honored by the Indian school of astrology -- Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Rahu and Ketu. Presently the nine planets occupy a humble abode that is in a state of disrepair. The new temple will be located outside the Sun Temple at Konark. Paresh Nayak, chief functionary of the OIC says, "12,000 sculptors from different parts of the state would be engaged in building the temple. However, the details and amount of money to be spent has not been worked out." It is expected that money for the project will be collected from the people as well as NRI's of the state.

Ancient Mysore Temple Revealed as Reservoir Waters Recede

Posted on 2003/4/5 8:49:02 ( 1014 reads )


MYSORE, INDIA, March 16, 2003: More than eighty years ago the Krishnaraja Sagar reservoir was constructed across the river Cauvery to ensure that farmers in the area had a water supply to grow crops. Water levels have plummeted for the 4th year in a row and the 1,100-year-old Gopalakrishna temple that was submerged when the dam was built has become visible. Tourists and devotees have flocked to the location to view and pray at the temple site. Modeled according to both Dravidian and Chalukyan styles of architecture, the temple measures 100 X 60 yards and features 46 constituent shrines. Among the Deities featured are 24 idols of the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu as well as murthis of Brahma, Saraswati, Harihara, Hayagriva and Jalasayana. As water levels recede further, other temples submerged by the reservoir, such as the Kalama and Sri Kenneshawara Temple, also may be exposed.

Balinese Hindus Thrive in Langkat Area

Posted on 2003/4/5 8:48:02 ( 965 reads )

Source: Jakarta Post

LANGKAT, INDONESIA, March 21, 2003: Stepping back in time to a civilization hundreds of years old, descendants of Balinese Hindus who left Bali after Mount Agung erupted in 1961 have settled in a hamlet called Hamlet Bingei Village. Approximately 30 families have built homes featuring traditional Hindu architectural style and maintained their forefathers' culture. Wayan Mangku Digejen, Hindu priest for the village, is 75 years old and is proud that the hamlet has two temples, Alet Widie Nate and Panitaan Agung. A religious rite called Purnama Tilem is performed every 15 days and villagers observe the Hindu holy days of Balongan, Kuningan and Nyepl. Ketut Sate, head of the hamlet says, "Religious rites in this hamlet show great dynamism." He also added that the village has appealed to the Langkat administration for permission to conduct cremation rites.

Indian Mango Market Becomes a War Casualty

Posted on 2003/4/5 8:47:02 ( 853 reads )

Source: Sify.com

NEW DELHI, INDIA, April 3, 2003: The Iraq war has greatly reduced India's mango exports to the Gulf, but has created a bonanza for the domestic market where top brands of the "king of fruits" are now easy picking. India accounts for almost 65 percent of the world's mango production, but it exports less than one percent of its yield. "Now we are doomed as two-thirds of our mangoes are exported to the Gulf, where our Alphonso reigned as the king of fruits for decades," said Nasiruddin Jesani, secretary of Fresh Vegetable and Fruit Association (FVFA). The Alphonso is the most expensive variety of mango in India with a dozen priced at around US$18, compared to other popular varieties which sell for just over US$2 for 12. The war in Iraq came just at the beginning of the mango season said FVFA president Babu Ramchandani, "And so between 40 to 50 percent of our mango trade is now affected both in terms of value as well as in volume and we cannot say whether we will regain our market after this war ends there," he said. India's mango exports are mostly confined to the Gulf, although some of the produce reaches Britain and Russia. Now many people are returning from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states where mango is a popular dessert among the regions four-million-strong Indian community said an official. High Airline freight charges also have contributed to the dilemma.

Extended Family Celebrates a Century of Annapurna Puja

Posted on 2003/4/4 8:49:02 ( 926 reads )


VADODARA, INDIA, April 4, 2003: When members of the Basu family gather on April 10 at their house in Makarpura, they will not be attending just a family puja (home worship service). They all will be witness to an historic occasion -- the completion of 100 years of a family puja that began in far away Bengal and has continued more than five decades in Vadodara. The Basu family has relatives pouring in from all over the country. Elated children are helping to install the Deity, women are busy with puja preparations and men are giving instructions to workers setting up shrines for the annual "Annapurna Puja." On April 10, as the family priest begins the prayers, they will mark a century of devotion to the Goddess who came in a dream to Harimati Basu in 1903. "Annapurna, or the Goddess of food, appeared to her in a dream and asked her to feed the hungry. This tradition has never stopped after that," says Pubali Basu. "It has always been a family affair. Right from the beginning, every member of our family has contributed in some way or the other towards the puja. Invitations are sent out to all family members well in advance. They contribute financially and also come here and help in organizing the puja," says Monika Sen, who has come to Vadodara from New Delhi for the occasion. "A 100 years is a big time span, and we have witnessed both good and bad times. Last year, the puja was held while Gujarat was in the throes of riots. We had to virtually smuggle in our family priest from Ahmedabad," adds Pubali Basu.

Balinese Hindus Celebrate "Nyepi" with Living People

Posted on 2003/4/4 8:48:02 ( 1003 reads )

Source: The Age (Melbourne)

JAKARTA, INDONESIA, April 2, 2003: His trial has yet to begin, but a giant effigy of alleged Bali bomber, Amrozi, was facing ritual execution by fire last night on the eve of the Hindu festival of Nyepi. Normally the giant bamboo and papier-mache monster dolls burnt across the Hindu island of Bali represent figures from Balinese and Hindu stories. But the events in Bali on October 12 have provided an addition to the villains in this year's celebrations, according to I Wayan Suarjaya, the director-general of Hindu and Buddhist affairs in Indonesia's Department of Religion. This year appeared to be the first time some of the terrifying dolls, called Ogoh-ogoh, were modeled on living people, including Amrozi. Mr. Wayan Suarjaya said he believed the inclusion of Amrozi was "probably because the bomb that rocked Bali has deeply scarred the Balinese." Although Indonesia is overwhelmingly Muslim, with just 2 per cent of people Hindu, the whole country enjoys Nyepi, as everyone gets a public holiday. But only in Bali will the start of this Hindu new year, called Saka 1925, be celebrated according to the set of austere traditions. On the streets, traditional Balinese security men will ensure nothing disturbs the serenity of Nyepi, when everyone observes a day of silence. Hindus throughout the country are expected to spend the day reviewing their lives and the course of their religion in preparation for a fresh start to the year.

Hindu Radio Station To Go On Air

Posted on 2003/4/4 8:47:02 ( 927 reads )

Source: Leicester Mercury

LEICESTER, ENGLAND, March 28, 2003: Utsav radio has been granted a license and will be on the air for four weeks from March 31. It will be broadcast on 97.5FM, 18 hours a day from 6 a.m. until 12 a.m. The station, supported by Leicester Hindu temples organization, will celebrate Ram Navami, Shree Swaminarayan Jayanti, Shree Mahavir Jayanti and Shree Hanuman Jayanti. Broadcasts will be from Sabras radio house on Melton Road. Any students interested in participating should contact Shree Sanatana Mandir at 0116 2661402 or Sabras radio house at 0116 2610666.

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