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Stand Up for Ayurveda

Posted on 2003/7/16 9:44:02 ( 993 reads )

Hindustan Times

NEW DELHI, INDIA, July 5, 2003: Union Minister for Science and Technology, Murli Manohar Joshi, has appealed to the populace and in particular to allopathic physicians, not to "belittle" ayurveda. Joshi says, "It is the oldest system of medicine, and I fail to understand why they call it an alternative system of medicine. Ayurveda has been practiced by our ancestors even thousands of years ago." He further adds, "Despite having effective medicines for a variety of diseases, ayurveda is not getting its due respect in its own land, and that is not a good sign for its future." Joshi has given full support to a book recently released by Professor M.S. Valiathan, a renowned cardiac surgeon who values the traditional system of ayurveda.

Balinese Artist Honored In Tokyo

Posted on 2003/7/16 9:43:02 ( 1018 reads )

Jakarta Post

JAKARTA, INDONESIA, July 10, 2003: Ketut Budiana, Bali's most creative "post-traditional" artist, was guest of honor at Tokyo Station Gallery, where he held a retrospective exhibition from June 14-21, 2003. A low-profile artist, Budiana is little known in the Indonesian art world beyond a small circle of local and foreign initiates. Budiana's works are often described as dark canvases with a minimum use of color and contain a world of figures symbolizing the cosmic forces of Hindu tradition. He doesn't simply narrate stories of heroes and Gods. He instead borrows these figures to be the players of philosophical Hindu themes that he interprets his own ways. "Nothing is inherently good or evil," says Budiana, "but rather all entities and forces move between positive and negative states. What appears negative in one context is positive in another. The dissolution of the physical body in the grave fills us with horror. Yet, with deeper insight, this process allows dead matter to become the basis for a new life." Budiana is one of the last wanderer-cum-teacher artists. He has been called to Java and Lombok for the making of temple sculptures, and people often come to him to inquire how things should be from a classical point of view.

First Group of Pilgrims Reach Amarnath Cave

Posted on 2003/7/15 9:49:02 ( 1166 reads )


AMARNATH, JAMMU & KASHMIR, July 12, 2003: Amidst chants of "Har Har Mahadev" and "Jai Bholanath" the first devotees on the annual Amarnath pilgrimage paid obeisance at the holy ice Siva Lingam at the cave shrine. "For me there is no emotion parallel to the darshan of the ice Lingam, it gives a feeling of being one with God. That is why I come here again and again," said Sonu Bhardawj who was on his eighth pilgrimage, as pilgrims prostrated before the sacred Lingam in reverence for Lord Siva.

Much before dawn, devotees, braving sub-zero temperatures, moved out of their tents with torches in hand and took a dip in ice-cold streams. Siva devotees from across the subcontinent, men, women, children and sadhus, prayed to Lord Siva. Everyone had words of praise for security personnel manning the heights and patrolling the entire stretch to the holy cave shrine. While pilgrims from the first two jathas (batches) are having darshan, two more such jathas comprising 3,500 devotees each are on their way to the cave.

Hindus in South Africa Object to Beef Gelatin in Sweets

Posted on 2003/7/15 9:48:02 ( 2359 reads )


DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA, July 6, 2003: The South African Hindu Maha Sabha recently discovered that Beacon Sweets, a sweets manufacturer owned by Tiger Brands, uses bovine gelatin in many of its products. It has alarmed the community as cows are sacred to Hindus. Rugbeer Kallideen, secretary of the Maha Sabha says, "We received complaints from members of the Hindu community about the bovine gelatin in certain products. We were shocked to discover that 74 of the company's products contained the beef extract that gives elasticity to sweets." After several meetings, the Hindu Maha Sabha has offered a solution to Beacon Sweets. Kallideen adds, "We have called for the Shuddah symbol, a Lotus flower signifying purity, to appear on Beacon Sweets products that do not have animal gelatin and would be suitable for consumption by Hindus and vegetarians from other communities." Beacon Sweets does list bovine gelatin as an ingredient on its products but the Maha Sabha does not consider this enough as most consumers do not read the label. Pierre de Villiers, a director of Tiger Brands says, "If there is any way we can help our consumers make an informed decision, we will try, but it is a marketing decision. Research has to be done to determine whether it will add value or enhance our products." HPI adds: According to the International Vegetarian Union, " Gelatin (US spelling) or gelatine (British spelling) (used to make Jell-o and other desserts) is made from the boiled bones, skins and tendons of animals." Learn more about gelatin and vegetarian substitutes on the IVU website.

Sri Lankan Citizenship Granted in Special Cases

Posted on 2003/7/15 9:47:02 ( 964 reads )


COLOMBO, SRI LANKA, JULY 11, 2003: The Sri Lankan Government has decided to grant citizenship to 168,141 people of Indian origin who had opted, but failed to return to their native country. Officials said the Cabinet approved a plan to grant citizenship to 84,141 people who had obtained Indian passports to return home, but could not travel for various reasons since 1983. Another 84,000 people of Indian origin born in Sri Lanka after 1964, will also qualify for the citizenship. This group of Indians had come to work the tea plantations in the early 1900s, but were never given citizenship, even after several generations.

Tourism Down at Angkor Temples

Posted on 2003/7/15 9:46:02 ( 919 reads )


SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA, July 12, 2003: A year ago, tourist buses jammed the parking lots around the ancient temples of Angkor. Trash piled up and exhaust fumes from taxis colored the air a hazy blue. These architectural wonders were in danger of being overrun -- not by the surrounding jungles, but by hordes of travelers. "The serenity of one's visit to Siem Reap and the temples is what's magical and, unfortunately, that's in jeopardy," UNESCO conservationist Tamara Teneishvili said a year ago. What a difference a year makes, after the SARS outbreak and the war in Iraq. But tourism officials are optimistic that as SARS ebbs, the planes will fill up again, and Cambodia will reach its goal of 1 million annual visitors to Angkor by 2010.

Malaysian Priest Accused of Abusing Position

Posted on 2003/7/15 9:45:02 ( 935 reads )

The Star

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, July 6, 2003: Misusing his sacred position, a priest serving in an Amman temple in Malaysia has been accused of knowingly deceiving devotees into giving him money and jewelry in exchange for communicating with dead relatives. He then allegedly proceeded to enact bogus encounters with living relatives and the deceased and often conned survivors into giving the Goddess more money to ward off other unfortunate circumstances in the family. One of the victims, R. Letchumanan explains, "The priest got me interested when he told me he had made arrangements for me to speak with my son, who died three months before that, through Amman." During the encounter, the Letchumanan family were asked by what they thought was their dead son to return with more money and a gold chain. The priest informed them that they must comply with their son's request, and, if they failed, another death would occur in the family. T. Mohan, MIC Youth Welfare committee chairman, has assisted families who have fallen victim to the priest and complaints have been filed with the police.

Hindu Consultative Council Needed says Samy Vellu

Posted on 2003/7/15 9:44:02 ( 1176 reads )


KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, July 7, 2003: All Hindu-based organizations should come under an umbrella body to better address issues and resolve problems related to the Hindu community, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu believes. He said such a council was needed to handle problems such as the demolition of haphazardly built and badly managed temples by the authorities, which he said, was currently the Hindu community's biggest bane. "I have raised this matter at the Malaysia Hindu Sangam annual general meeting recently where I proposed a 10-point solution that would ensure better care, management and protection for our temples and religion." Dr. N.S. Rajendran also urged the Government to provide religious classes for non-Muslim pupils in primary as well as secondary schools since religion was an essential ingredient in spiritual development and character building.

Swiss Immigrants Find Refuge In Places Of Worship

Posted on 2003/7/12 9:49:02 ( 1274 reads )


SWITZERLAND, June 6, 2003: Switzerland is home to a diverse mix of religious groups thanks to its large community of immigrants, many of whom go to great lengths to set up their own places of worship. Immigrants often feel their religion is a strong part of their identity and provides a sense of security in a foreign land. According to the most recent census, there are almost 311,000 Muslims and 132,000 orthodox Christians, mostly made up of Serbs, living in Switzerland. These two groups are followed by over 27,000 Hindus and 21,300 Buddhists. Hindus have 16 places of worship in Switzerland. In Adliswil, near Zurich, Switzerland's largest Hindu temple is hidden away in a factory. The resident brahmin priest grew up here and speaks the local Swiss-German dialect. The majority of the Adliswil Hindu community are Sri Lanka Tamil refugees.

India Home to Largest Numbers of Hungry People

Posted on 2003/7/12 9:48:02 ( 1020 reads )


GENEVA, SWITZERLAND, July 8, 2003: According to the Human Development Report (HDR) 2003, social indicators that comprise life expectancy, adult literacy, education and per capita income positioned India as number 127 out of 174 countries. Last year, it ranked 124. The reason for the drop: other countries are performing much better than India in tackling basic human needs.

While India continued to build huge buffer stocks of foodgrains, it failed to tackle the central problem of "hunger." In fact, the country has earned the dubious distinction of being home to the largest number of hungry people -- some 233 million, nearly one-third of world's hungry people. China, the country with which India is often compared both in domestic and international circles, has achieved remarkable progress in addressing hunger, so has Sri Lanka through its "food stamp" scheme covering 40 per cent of the population.

India has all along maintained huge buffer stocks since the 1970s to "stave off widespread famine," however the report advised the government to keep food ". . . affordable for poor households, whether through public distribution systems or releases of grain into market." This is something the Indian government has failed to do in recent years.

Tackling hunger problems requires an all-round development in agriculture, particularly a policy orientation that helps the poorest hungry farmers, not the well-fed rich farmers that take away all the benefits of subsidies and easy credit at soft rates, says the HDR. The report underscores the need for "several pro-poor technologies" that could sustain productivity and increase the employment for rural women.

Aside from hunger, India's performance in spreading literacy is far from satisfactory, infant mortality has improved, but sanitation leaves much to be desired. In all, India's progress in achieving social goals is pretty low and not keeping pace with the remarkable strides made in Information Technology and other hi-tech sectors. For the complete Human Development Report 2003, see "source" above.

Airline Vegetarian Meals

Posted on 2003/7/12 9:47:02 ( 1037 reads )


LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, JULY 2003: Traveling by air and ordering a vegetarian meal can be like playing Russian roulette. You simply don't know what will appear on your tray. Vegetarians who are planning to travel by plane may wonder what vegetarian food choices are available. Vegetarians in Paradise ("source") provides a chart of airlines who serve vegetarian/vegan meals as well as comments by passengers on some vegetarian menus served by the listed airlines. Vegetarians in Paradise is a comprehensive, nonprofit e-zine offering ideas on being a vegetarian, breaking news in the vegetarian world, reviews on vegetarian food companies and their products and much more.

Landslides Halt Mansarovar Yatra

Posted on 2003/7/11 9:49:02 ( 1005 reads )


PITHORAGARH, NEPAL, July 11, 2003: The Kailash-Mansarovar yatra came to an abrupt halt on the third day of the pilgrimage on Thursday when landslides blocked the road at Teentola, about 15 km from Dharchula, leaving the pilgrims stranded at Tawaghat, police said. This group is coming from India directly into Tibet, and not via Nepal through which most of the commercial pilgrimages pass on the way to Kailas. Public Works Department personnel were pressed into service to clear the road. The first batch of 16 pilgrims, who had reached Dharchula town on Wednesday, had left by bus for Mangati on Thursday morning. From Mangati, the last motorhead in Pithoragarh district, the pilgrims would start an arduous trek of 200 km to Kailash-Mansarovar in Tibet, officials said.

Indians' First Landing Site in West Indies to Be Restored

Posted on 2003/7/11 9:48:02 ( 974 reads )


PORT-OF-SPAIN, TRINIDAD, July 10, 2003: More than 158 years after the first Indians arrived in Trinidad and Tobago, plans are afoot to restore the island where more than 200,000 indentured Indian laborers were brought to work on sugar plantations. The project, which will be completed in three phases, is expected to cost US$1.8 million, and will reflect the period 1869 to 1917. The restoration work is expected to be finished in 2005. After African slaves were freed by an Act of the British Parliament on August 1, 1838, some 217,000 Indian laborers from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh were brought here by the British from 1845 to 1917 to work on the sugar plantations.

Many Believe Light Skin is Lovely

Posted on 2003/7/11 9:47:02 ( 1029 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, July 5, 2003: The pharmacy clerk pulls a box of skin lightening cream from a glass cabinet, places it on the counter and says it's obvious why he sells so much of it. Women want to be beautiful and the key to that is inside the box, which has a series of drawings showing a woman growing pale to the point of near invisibility. "When a woman is more fair, she is more beautiful," Vishnu Kayat says. Seemingly, much of India agrees. Throughout India images of fair-skinned women are everywhere, especially in the fashion and movie Industry. Even marriage ads are filled with requests for "fair-skinned" brides and families advertising their "fair-skinned" daughter. (Those not so fortunate are of "wheat" complexion, not "dark.") Not surprisingly, sales of skin lighteners bring in more than US$100 million a year.

Not all Indians are comfortable with this celebration of fair skin, however, and the debate over the social divisions of skin tone has spilled into the media and politics. In a nation often tangled in its own cultural contradictions, it's a schizophrenic debate, tied to questions of caste, colonialism and the global media invasion. The result? The past few years have seen both an increase in the use of white women as advertising models -- and an increase in acceptance of dark skin as a sign of beauty. Lightness of skin tone has become a global issue as skin lighteners can be purchased from Tokyo to small towns in central Africa.

Nepal Releases Christians Accused of Missionary Activities

Posted on 2003/7/11 9:46:02 ( 974 reads )

Charisma News Service

KATMANDU, NEPAL, July 11, 2003: A Christian missionary and two local Christians jailed for four months on alleged proselytism charges in Nepal's western region have been released from jail. Earlier this year, they were on their way to visit a Christian family in the Pyuthan District when they were stopped and interrogated by police. After finding Bibles and other Christian literature in their bags, authorities arrested them on charges of "carrying Christian literature, preaching Christianity, and attempting to convert others to Christianity." They did not deny they were Christians throughout the hearing, but did deny ever attempting to force others to become Christians, which is a crime in Nepal. If convicted, they face three to six years in prison. HPI adds: This report from a Christian news service is not entirely accurate. The law against conversion in Nepal is against any conversion, not only those by force and enticement. The law is the country's attempt to protect an ancient way of life from the onslaught of well-funded missionaries. It is routinely flouted by the missionaries and, unfortunately, only haphazardly enforced by the government.

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