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Gujarat Prays to Lord Indra to Revive Monsoon
Posted on 2002/8/6 9:47:02 ( 720 reads )


AHMEDABAD/VADODARA/RAJKOT, INDIA, August 3, 2002: On the first anniversary of the January 26 earthquake, the Narendra Modi government ordered special prayers to appease the dharti mata. Various organizations all over the state are praying for a revival of the monsoon. People are resorting to several methods to solicit divine intervention to avoid a drought. In Vadodara, plans are underway to bathe an elephant, in Rajkot a round-the-clock yagna, fire ceremony, is going on, and in Ahmedabad farmer leaders have given up food in hopes of bringing in the elusive showers. The Vadodara Municipal Corporation's water supply committee and the Satyam Shivam Sundaram Samiti will conduct Parjanya yagna -- a ceremony where an elephant will be bathed with pomp and fanfare -- while a group of brahmins will invoke Lord Indra.

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Mayor Appalled by Lack of Hygiene in Temple Area
Posted on 2002/8/6 9:46:02 ( 690 reads )


HYDERABAD, INDIA, July 26, 2002: Heaps of garbage, overflowing drains and filth all around was what the Mayor, T. Krishna Reddy, got to see in the vicinity of the famous Ujjaini Mahankali temple even as the annual Bonalu festivities commence on Sunday. The Mayor warned of stringent action if the "mess was not cleared up immediately." Though officials maintained that elaborate arrangements were being made for the festivities, what the Mayor saw for himself belied those claims. The MCH Additional Commissioner, R.V. Chandravadan, said additional staff were being deployed to ensure sanitation in the vicinity of all the temples in the area. "The sanitary staff will work round the clock in three shifts during the festivities,'' he said. As many as 24 civil works were taken up at a cost of US$10,277.

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NHRC to Study Burden on Schoolkids
Posted on 2002/8/6 9:45:02 ( 656 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, July 26, 2002: Should corporal punishment be banned in schools? Is the curriculum too much for schoolchildren to bear? Why should children be deprived of the five-day week which their parents enjoy? National Human Rights Commission chairman, Justice (Retired) J. S. Verma, has decided to interact with school-goers at four regional schools run by the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT). Parents of schoolchildren in the Naraina area of New Delhi filed a petition protesting the long school hours, curriculum load, excessive homework even during vacations and corporal punishment in the name of enforcing discipline. Rajendra Kumar, the Delhi government's Director of Education, said despite a total ban on corporal punishment in the capital region's schools, reports of cruelty on children kept coming in. "Teachers need to be trained, made sensitive and more humane towards the needs of children," he said.

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Folk and Tribal Art Preserved at a Privately-Owned Museum
Posted on 2002/8/6 9:44:02 ( 737 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, July 31, 2002: Precious folk and tribal art from the Punjab and Himachal Pradesh is being preserved and cared for at the House of Folk Art. Originally started by K. C. Aryan, well-known art historian, sculptor and art painter, the museum is now cared for by Mr. Aryan's son and daughter. According to the article, the museum houses a priceless range of folk bronze metal images, precious embroideries, tribal wooden sculptors, folk paintings, playing cards (Ganjifas), manuscript covers, play toys, and potteries in Indus Valley traditions. B. N. Aryan, son of the late K. C. Aryan, says, "My father was concerned with the vanishing heritage of the Indian folk art and initiated to preserve it. People were selling folk items to foreigners for the greed of money without realizing the real value of their national heritage. My father sensed it first and started collecting objects from all over India."

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Hindu Professor to Discuss Religious Tolerance at Vatican
Posted on 2002/8/6 9:43:02 ( 685 reads )

Source: The Star Tribune

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA, June 8, 2002: Anant Rambachan, professor of religion at St. Olaf College, is one of ten religious experts worldwide invited to the Vatican to discuss religious tolerance. Rambachan wants to find constructive solutions to the world's violence by encouraging the world's major religions to find common ground, common voices and common values. When genuine interreligious dialogue begins to happen, he says, then much of the religious rationale for hatred and violence will end. Seven major religious traditions, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism and indigenous religions have been invited by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue to gather at the Vatican. Rambachan is active in the World Council of Churches. Born in Trinidad, he has been a member of the St. Olaf faculty since 1985. According to its mission statement, "St. Olaf, a four-year college of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, provides an education committed to the liberal arts, rooted in the Christian Gospel, and incorporating a global perspective."

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New York Times Covers Amarnath Pilgrimage
Posted on 2002/8/5 9:49:02 ( 697 reads )


KASHMIR, INDIA, August 5, 2002: This long New York Times report begins, "Shouting 'Hail Hail Shiva!' thousands of Hindu pilgrims crowded two narrow dirt tracks high in the Himalayan mountains of the disputed territory of Kashmir. Even though the pilgrimage is purely religious, it has not escaped the conflict in this battered territory. The threat of attacks by Muslim separatists who are fighting for an independent Kashmir has turned this once obscure pilgrimage into one of the most closely watched rites in ritual-filled India. In the past two years, Muslim militants have killed more than 40 Hindu pilgrims in attacks on the procession. This year, the Indian government has deployed thousands of policemen and soldiers to protect them."

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Four Religions Plan for Multi-Faith School
Posted on 2002/8/5 9:48:02 ( 732 reads )

Source: The Guardian (London)

LONDON, ENGLAND, July 8, 2002: The Church of England has thrown its weight behind an extraordinary proposal to unite Muslim, Jewish, Christian and Hindu children in the country's first multi-faith secondary school. The plans, backed by leading figures from all four of Britain's main religious groups, are aimed at transforming the image of faith-based education which has been criticized in the wake of last summer's race riots. They hope that the 1,000-pupil school planned for the London borough of Westminster will be the first of a series of similar ventures around the country. Few of the day-to-day details have yet been finalized, but the school's promoters are determined that children from the separate religious traditions will learn, eat and play side by side, although there will be some compromise over religious education and collective worship. Muslim and Hindu parents have long been keen to enroll their children at Anglican schools where they feel religion is taken seriously. A spokesman for the Department for Education said: "It's encouraging to see different faiths working together."

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Hindu Rituals Give Life to Temple
Posted on 2002/8/5 9:47:02 ( 718 reads )

Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

PEWAUKEE, WISCONSIN, June 30, 2002: When Prem Sharma came to the United States in the 1960s to study at Marquette University's dental school, the Burma native and a handful of Hindu families would hold prayer meetings in their houses for lack of a space to worship. Having long outgrown gathering in basements, a burgeoning Wisconsin Hindu population now has a temple of its own to call home. Sharma shared his joy with dozens of other Hindus flitting about the wooded grounds, as they prepared for the defining moment in the life of the two-year-old temple -- the pran pratishthapana, or the installation of the deities. "It's a matter of great joy and pride for our community," said Sharma, 70, of Milwaukee. "This has been a long time coming." The temple brought in a dozen Hindu priests from across the country to lead pujas for the different deities in the installation ceremonies, addressing the needs of Hindu communities in every part of India. "It has been a most beautiful thing, to watch the whole community come together," temple board member Manju Shah said. "This temple has become the hub of the Indian community."

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On-line Prayer Services Pay Off
Posted on 2002/8/5 9:46:02 ( 667 reads )

Source: Toronto Star

ONTARIO, CANADA, June 30, 2002: When an astrologer warned Anasuya Dhanrajgir that bad luck was on her horizon, she took the road increasingly travelled by modern Hindus. In the old days, the astrologer's advice might have suggested the 39-year-old Anasuya to take a 900-mile journey to a temple on the southern tip of India. Instead, the stage designer and mother of three logged onto the Internet where Hindu temples offer ceremonies. She found that technology offered an easy way to keep the faith, and a new means of communicating with some of her religion's millions deities. The site -- -- is named after the Sanskrit word for worship. It offers to conduct prayer rituals for a fee at some 400 temples across India. With the click of her mouse, Anasuya placed an order for a ceremony or puja, which she was told would cost US$25.00. "We performed the puja on Anasuya's behalf," says K. Ganesan, the Web site's founder. The company sent her an e-mail confirming the ceremony had been completed on the proper day. The temple sent Anasuya a parcel with part of the offerings. Ganesan estimates that the number of Web sites offering similar services to Hindus has swelled to 300. Many customers are overseas Indians unable to pray in person at home temples.

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Omaha Restaurant Transformed into Hindu Temple
Posted on 2002/8/5 9:45:02 ( 774 reads )

Source: Omaha World-Herald

OMAHA, NEBRASKA, July 10, 2002: From sunup to sundown, 11 Indian workers commit themselves to the meticulous duty of crafting a Hindu temple. The visiting temple carvers work in a building tucked away in a corner of southwest Omaha. Slowly, the unique temple architecture is distinguishing itself from the area's common strip malls. The renovation is one of two milestones for the Hindu temple, which has been open at 13010 Arbor St. behind a Target store since 1994. In July, the temple welcomed its first full-time priest, which now allows for daily services. The popularity of the Hindu temple, which draws members from eastern Nebraska and western Iowa, is driving the US$1.2 million project. Membership has grown six-fold to 600 families in just five years. To renovate their building, local Hindu leaders turned to India's premier temple architect, V. Ganapati Sthapati. Last March, the carvers, or silpis, took up residence in the Omaha temple, said V. T. Ramakrishnan, the temple's president. Ramakrishnan said a Memorial Day, 2003, service is planned to open the temple.

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Paramhans Opposes High Court Suggestion for Excavation in Ayodhya
Posted on 2002/8/5 9:44:02 ( 691 reads )


AYODHYA, INDIA, August 3, 2002: Ram Janambhoomi Trust president Mahant Ramchandra Paramhans on Saturday opposed the Allahabad high court's suggestion for excavation at the disputed temple site in Ayodhya. "The makeshift temple cannot be shifted to facilitate excavation as it has been existing there for long and no court or government will be allowed to effect shifting of the deities as it goes against the tenets of Hindu religion," he told reporters in Ayodhya. "there should be no doubt about the existence of the Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya," the Mahant said. The Mahant stated that old artifacts and a carved black stone structure with engraving of Hindu deities were found in the debris of the demolished structure. "These relics are still kept in the custody of the Faizabad district administration," he said. There are procedures for moving temples, including the Deities, but not for the purpose of archeological excavation.

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State-level Autonomous Body Soon to Ensure Temple Rituals
Posted on 2002/8/5 9:43:02 ( 659 reads )


VIJAYAWADA, INDIA, July 28, 2002: The Endowments Minister, D. Sivarama Raju, on Sunday said that the Government would soon set up an autonomous State level advisory council for ensuring proper conduct of puja, worship, and other rituals in temples as ordained in the scriptures. The proposed advisory council would be filled with Vedic pundits, archakas (priests) and Hindu religious scholars fully conversant with Hindu dharma. The council would advise and supervise the conduct of the rituals that has to be followed by priests in the temples. Speaking to reporters here at Chinna Jeeyar Ashrama, Sitanagaram, the Minister admitted that the need for such an advisory body had become essential in the wake of criticism that many temples were not performing the regular aradhana ceremonies and other rituals as advised in the scripture.

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Asian Indians at Greater Risk of Heart Disease
Posted on 2002/8/5 9:42:02 ( 829 reads )

Source: MSN

BERKLEY, CALIFORNIA, July 28, 2002: Asian-Indians are at a greater risk of contracting heart disease, more so than others of any descent with high cholesterol and even smokers. Researchers from the University of California-Berkley Center for Family and Community Health have concluded that, "Indians around the globe have the highest rate of heart disease, usually two to three times higher than Americans, Europeans, Chinese and Japanese." Susan Ivey, one of the Berkley researchers, says, "Most physicians trained in the U.S. are not aware their Asian-Indian patients are at risk." San Jose Mercury News reports, "About 25 per cent of heart attacks among men of Indian descent occur when they are younger than 40, unheard of in other populations." The article also goes on to say that research done in the UK several years back suggested that there may be a genetic link. However, there is a general lack of awareness of the problem in the U.S. Indo-American Community.

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People With Religious Beliefs Recover Quicker From Grief
Posted on 2002/8/5 9:41:02 ( 743 reads )

Source: Reuters

LONDON, ENGLAND, June 29, 2002: A study done in the U.K. at the Royal Free and University College Medical School in London, indicates that people who practise religion recover more quickly and heal faster when a relative or close friend dies. Dr. Michael King and his colleagues studied 129 relatives and close friends of patients who had a terminal illness. The June 29 issue of the British Medical Journal says, "Forty-three percent of the study group said they had strong religious beliefs, 41% said they had low religious beliefs and the remaining 16% did not report any religious beliefs." Ninety-five individuals from the original control group participated in the follow-up at one month, nine month,and fourteen month intervals. The group with strong spiritual beliefs recovered steadily from their grief and reported progressively less grief at the designated intervals. Those with low religious beliefs started to recover after nine months. However, the nonbelievers still were intensely grieving at fourteen months. King says, "Perhaps people without spiritual beliefs are a vulnerable group, in terms of impact of bereavement."

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Hindu Pundit Advises Against Corporal Punishment
Posted on 2002/8/4 9:49:02 ( 793 reads )

Source: Ottawa Citizen

OTTAWA, CANADA, June 29, 2002: In a regular column, "Ask the Religion Experts," the Ottawa citizen interviewed Pandit Madhu Sahasrabudhe who is affiliated with the Hindu Temple of Ottawa-Carleton and president of the Capital Region Interfaith Council on the subject of corporal punishment of children. He advised, "To discipline is to train and instruct a child in proper conduct in accordance with established rules. In the Hindu perspective, it is the responsibility of the parent or the guru (teacher) to discipline a child. However, I believe this question refers to disciplining children by punishment to instill proper conduct and that such punishment may take the form of spanking. It is only by inference from what I have read and heard that I can say that, in the Hindu tradition, punishment is not an acceptable form of discipline. As a Hindu, I believe I was born for a divine purpose. My aim in life is to improve myself, body and soul, to the highest level of perfection through a process of self-purification and enlightenment. The Hindu scriptures -- the Veda, the Upanishads, Bhagavad-Gita, and Manu-Smruti -- all deal with proper conduct through rituals and sacraments (Samskars) toward that enlightenment. The ill effects of anger, animosity, hatred and avarice, among others, are clearly described, but there is no reference to punishment to be given to children or even to fellow men if they do not follow the rules. I can also infer that spanking as wilful hurting is an expression of anger and frustration that should be avoided, yet it is prevalent." Write to Ask the Religion Experts to

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