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Christians Target Sikkim Hindus for Conversion
Posted on 2002/4/22 23:48:02 ( 876 reads )


Source: Francois Gautier





GANGTOK, SIKKIM, April 23, 2002: A special program is being organized in Gangtok, in Northeast India, which is called "Gangtok Prayer Festival 2002." This is being conducted by Dr. Paul Dhinakaran (famous for his "miracle" prayer meetings all over India) and a team from Chennai at Gaurds Ground, Gangtok, from April 26 to 28, 2002. Christians from all around Sikkim are coming as well as others from North Bengal -- Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong. Most of the big Christian schools in these areas are involved into it. This will be a show of strength for them. Gangtok is full of banners announcing the program. The Sikkim Government is unable to do much, as many Christian government ministers are involved. Conversions have been happening often this year. Earlier, the North District of Sikkim was targeted in places like Janghu where the Lepcha community lives. But it is happening now in all the districts of Sikkim (West-Sombaria/Soreng, South-Namchi, East-Gangtok). It is especially the Hindus living below the poverty line who are targeted. One such move in Sichey Busty in Gangtok was stopped by the Satya Sai Sammity organization of Gangtok. The Governor, Sri Kedar Nath Sahani, is very concerned about this, as is the Chief Minister, Pawan Chamling, but nothing much is being done.




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Hindu Support Group Forms on Okinawa Base
Posted on 2002/4/22 23:47:02 ( 824 reads )


Source: Stars and Stripes Magazine





CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, JAPAN, April 13, 2002: Okinawa's small American Hindu population meets twice a week on US military bases to get in touch with their spirituality. Chaturbhuj N. Gidwani helped establish a Hindu study group at Kadena Air Base and Camp Foster after moving to Okinawa, Japan, six months ago. "There are many people in the military with an Indian background. I felt they were missing their cultural heritage," said Gidwani, the chief mechanical engineer for the Marine base's Facilities Engineer Division. Gidwani, a lay religious leader, hopes one day the military will have Hindu chaplains to serve the 3,000 to 4,000 Hindu service members. Gidwani, 64, is a retired sergeant major in the Army reserve. He was born in Karachi, Pakistan, and immigrated to the United States when he was 28. He became a US citizen, and joined the Army Reserve when he was 35, just two months shy of the cut-off date for new recruits. "Back in 1997, the Pentagon agreed to give full support to a program of having Hindu lay leaders organize study groups on military bases," he said. He was instrumental in starting a group at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, DC, and then, three years later, at Masawa Air Base, Japan. Gidwani said there are about ten Hindu families on Okinawa, but the meetings are not just for those who follow the Hindu faith. "We are not preaching. We are a support group. Perhaps someday the military will have Hindu chaplains. What we are doing is providing support for Indians who are continuing their spiritual journey and sharing our beliefs with others who are interested," said Gidwani.




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Singapore Recycles Its Cemeteries
Posted on 2002/4/22 23:46:02 ( 658 reads )


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SINGAPORE, April 20, 2002: L. F. Yong starts digging bodies just after dawn. On an average day, Yong and his team of 20 workers will have cracked open 40 graves and emptied them of their bones by noon. Yong is responsible for the hands-on work behind a government project to clear the Bidadari Cemetery, one of the largest Christian burial plots in Southeast Asia. The project will convert the tranquil resting ground for 58,000 dead into 12,000 centrally located, high-rise apartments for the living. The project is fueled by crowded Singapore's hunger for land. The tiny Southeast Asian island, nestled between Malaysia and Indonesia, covers 650 km and has 4 million residents. Another 68,000 bodies will be exhumed from a neighboring Muslim section and reburied elsewhere. All unclaimed Christian bodies will be cremated by the government and, unless the ashes are claimed within a year, they will be scattered at sea. Since March, 2001, Singapore has published numerous notices about the exhumation in newspapers here and in Australia, England and Malaysia, but only 9,449 bodies have been claimed. The remaining 48,551 bodies will be cremated.




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Hindu-Muslim Violence Continues in Gujarat
Posted on 2002/4/21 23:49:02 ( 663 reads )


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AHMADABAD, INDIA, April 22, 2002: Two people were killed Monday in religious strife between Hindus and Muslims in western India, bring to 20 the number of dead in two days of clashes. At least 105 have been injured since Sunday. Several neighborhoods in Ahmadabad, the commercial hub of the state of Gujarat, were under siege Monday as Hindus and Muslims clashed and set homes and businesses on fire. Two Muslim men were killed in Ahmadabad. One was stabbed to death by a Hindu throng and the other died after a mob pelted him with stones, police said. An assistant commissioner of police, Keshav Kumar, said 14 people suffered bullet wounds when police opened fire to disperse a mob in Ahmedabad's old walled city of Shahpur. Those killed Sunday included 10 Muslims in Ahmadabad, when police fired into a swelling crowd on the Hindu festival of Ramnavami, the birthday of the religion's supreme deity, Rama. Eight other people were killed in clashes between the two groups -- including at least three Hindus. At least 91 people were seriously injured Sunday with burns and bullet wounds, police said. The two days of violence raised the death toll from India's worst religious rioting in a decade to 853. Some police officers, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the firing at Muslims was a reaction to the killing of a police officer, who was stabbed by Muslims in the crowd.




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A Link Between Hindu Gods and Japan
Posted on 2002/4/21 23:48:02 ( 748 reads )


Source: Japan Times





TOKYO, JAPAN, April 10, 2002: An exhibition called "Gods Derived From India to Japan" is showing at the Okura Shukokan Museum of Fine Arts until May 26. The story behind the showing is a fascinating one. It all started 51 years ago when Toshio Yamanouchi's job took him to India as general manager for an iron importer company. His passion for religious art took him all across the country and in twenty-five years he built up his collection. In northern Uttar Pradesh, he discovered a miniature painting of "Govardhana Krishna." In Madhya Pradesh, he purchased a 18th century three-headed Ganesha made of ivory. A sandalwood Saraswati was found in the NW state of Rajasthan. Yamanouchi's entire collection, which he has donated to the Okura Shukokan Museum of Fine Arts, consists of 350 statues, sculptures, reliefs and paintings. Seventy of these pieces are part of the present exhibition. Indian law would now prohibit the export of any historical object more than 100 years old. This law was passed in the early 70's. However, by this time, the collection had already been brought back to Japan. Diagnosed with terminal cancer at the age of 73, Yamanouchi chose to utilize what he thought might be his final years to write three books about how India and Japan are bound by their roots in Hinduism and Buddhism. The article says, "Yamanouchi identifies Benzaiten, the Japanese goddess of good fortune, with Saraswati; Seiten of the Jogan Period with Ganesha; and Enma, the Japanese lord of hell, with his Indian counterpart Yama." Interestingly, Yamanouchi was fascinated with the Hindu gods that he saw during weekly visits to Buddhist temples when he was a young boy. He recalls, "My parents were very religious. I saw many Buddhas at the temples, but I also noticed many Indian Gods protecting the central Buddha figure."




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Hindu Society's Plans Thwarted
Posted on 2002/4/21 23:47:02 ( 682 reads )


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HALIFAX, CANADA, April 14, 2002: The Hindu Temple-Vedanta Ashram Society in Halifax is disheartened. Working in conjunction with the Interfaith Council of Halifax, the society had started a program to feed and clothe needy children in Halifax. After purchasing a van in June of 2000 and stocking it with toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap and clothes, the program called the Mobile Youth Assistance Program, was to be launched this summer. However, the van and its contents were stolen from the temple premises on Sunday, April 14. Vivek Swamy, past chairman of the Vedanta Ashram Society says, "We were storing those things in there and just getting ready to get things on the move. If the van is not returned, that would pretty much spell the end of the program." Small community relations programs such as this have proved very quite successful in integrating Hindu temples in the West with the surrounding community.




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Study Promotes Sanskrit Revival in India
Posted on 2002/4/21 23:46:02 ( 701 reads )


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PUNE, INDIA, April 5, 2002: According to this article, Sanskrit, the language of the Vedas, is being neglected in its own motherland. Hema Kshirsagar who has been studying the problems in teaching Sanskrit in schools for the last nine years says, "There is hardly any emphasis on Sanskrit, either from the state education department or the boards." Reaching out to 655 schools with 1,234 Sanskrit teachers in 14 districts of Maharashtra, the nine-year study has found that 90% of teachers are not very familiar with updates to Sanskrit education, that the way the language is taught is boring and tedious, and that the number of students studying the language has declined. As part of the solution, Kshirsagar has recommended that educational agencies offer incentive programs to teachers and students in conjunction with more modern interactive and innovative programs. Kshirsagar further claims that, "Sanskrit is not only rich in different branches of knowledge, including philosophy, literature and various sciences, but it is also a powerful means of national integration besides promoting international understanding."




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Gujarat Students Boycott Exams
Posted on 2002/4/20 23:49:02 ( 710 reads )


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GUJARAT, INDIA, April 19, 2002: Thousands of Muslim students in the western Indian state of Gujarat did not attend school-leaving exams which began on Thursday, Muslim leaders said. They said parents refused to let their children travel to exam centers located in Hindu-dominated areas of the state's largest city Ahmedabad and a number of other cities. Authorities said police and paramilitary forces have been deployed at exam centers across the state to prevent attacks. More than 700 people, mostly Muslims, have died in communal clashes in the state which began when almost 60 Hindu activists were killed after their train was torched by Muslim suspects. Authorities said some exam centers had been changed at the request of parents and school authorities. Gujarat's Education Minister Anandiben Patel rejected complaints voiced by the Muslim parents. "The boycott is largely limited to Ahmedabad," she said. "Adequate security protection has ensured appearance of most of the students." New killings in religious violence are reported almost daily from Gujarat.




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India's Military Turn to Yoga
Posted on 2002/4/20 23:48:02 ( 718 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, April 19, 2002: India's military research industry is to launch experiments with yoga to sharpen the skills of troops in modern warfare and help cope with the stress of battling domestic insurgencies. For the first time journalists were taken on a tour of one of the military's top research facilities, the Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences. It was set up after 1962 when Indian troops were badly mauled in a border battle with China. Besides yoga and novel cures for mountain ailments, the institute is also on the verge of patenting a water-cooled combat suit for high-temperature battlefields. Chief scientist W Selvamurthy said research into yoga had shown the ancient discipline to be more effective than routine physical exercises as it could be practiced on a glacier, in the confines of submarines or even a battle tank. "Yoga reduces wear and tear of the heart and on our objective scientific scales we have seen it produce mental tranquility, greater alertness, flexibility and enhanced tolerance to cold." Experiments so far have been conducted on groups of 60 volunteers.




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Ancient Temple Grabbed in Bangladesh
Posted on 2002/4/20 23:47:02 ( 719 reads )


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BANGLADESH, April 19, 2002: A gang of land-grabbers has started demolishing a 100-year-old "abandoned" Hindu temple at Rankin Street at Wari in the name of building a primary school. Walls and columns around the temple, which should otherwise be preserved as a historical relic, have already been demolished. Haji Abdur Rab, who lives next door and also an official of the school committee, is overseeing the demolition of the temple and extension work of the school. Haji Abdur Rab said that the Facilities Department of the Ministry of Education is financing the construction of a four-story school on "whatever land" is available. When asked why then they had removed the columns and walls, he replied that the laborers mistakenly removed the bricks. The Hindu community of the area had stopped worshipping in the temple several years ago after a section of local people built a wall around the temple, blocking access to it. Many residents of Wari condemned the decision to demolish such an old structure bearing the mark of traditional architecture.




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Bangkok to Hand Out Holy Water
Posted on 2002/4/20 23:46:02 ( 793 reads )


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BANGKOK, THAILAND, April 20, 2002: Bangkok authorities will distribute 100,000 vials of 100-year-old holy water from a Hindu temple to celebrate the city's 220th anniversary this weekend, a religious leader said Saturday. The distribution of the holy water at a ceremony Sunday is intended to recreate a ritual performed at the city's founding, when religious figures spread holy water to bless and protect the city. The water had been stored at Thailand's national Brahmin temple in Bangkok for more than 100 years, said Pra Rachakru Varmthepmuni, a Hindu priest who will supervise the ceremony. City officials will issue 100,000 tickets that can be exchanged for the vials of holy water at the City Pillar shrine, in the historic Sanam Luang area of central Bangkok. During the ceremony, Hindu priests and Buddhist monks are expected to read out ancient verses to bring good fortune to the city and its dwellers. Several major avenues in central Bangkok will be closed for parades. More than 90 percent of Thailand's 62 million inhabitants are Buddhists. However, Thai Buddhism has strong elements of Hinduism, and many Thais believe in Hindu Gods.




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"Colonial Outlook" Alleged at BBC World Service Investigation
Posted on 2002/4/17 23:49:02 ( 741 reads )


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UK, April 16, 2002: White male journalists rule the BBC's World Service with a "colonial mentality" that embarrassed and demeaned ethnic minority colleagues, an employment tribunal was told yesterday. An Asian journalist, Sharan Sandhu, 51, claimed that she was repeatedly passed over for promotion between 1994 and 1999 because of her race and sex. The tribunal in central London heard that Sandhu suffered depression and stress at having to endure a "boys' club" culture in which ethnic minority staff were deliberately kept in junior posts. Sandhu, who is alleging direct and indirect discrimination, told the first day of the hearing that her workplace was dominated by white male journalists. Sandhu said other staff made derogatory comments about Hindus after telephone conversations with them, suggesting they did not understand what was going on or would make mistakes. She said these comments were made in front of colleagues from other departments to no objections. "No one would pick them up on that and it was embarrassing." The BBC denies discrimination and the hearing continues.




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India's Soaps Expose Children to Violence
Posted on 2002/4/17 23:48:02 ( 688 reads )


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MUMBAI, DELHI, INDIA, April 14, 2002: Children are becoming increasingly hooked on soap operas, adult family dramas, in particular. They are also keen on horror and crime shows and this fascination has intensified since September 11. So says a recent study on "Media Violence and Its Impact on Children," conducted by the Center for Advocacy and Research (CFAR) in Delhi with the support of Unicef, Unesco and the Ford Foundation. The survey covered 1,350 children ages 6 to 14 from various socio-economic groups in five cities. Parents might consider family serials safe for their kids, however, such programs are injurious to the psychological health of children, warns the study. CFAR conducted a content analysis of 22 episodes on prime-time television, comprising 11 family dramas, and found that more than 55 percent of their substance was violence. "Conflict, emotional upheaval, violence, death and uncertainty come packaged as a family drama," says the study, adding that this can only "impair impressionable minds." Though domestic discord, adultery and bigamy are common themes, the serials end up being watched by vast numbers of children. And given that the kids lack the emotional and intellectual maturity to understand what is really going on, they turn precocious and start acquiring prejudices and preconditioned ideas about relationships, says CFAR senior researcher Shailaja Bajpai. The researchers were also alarmed by the children's passion for crime and horror shows. Children confessed that they were fascinated by visuals of the WTC collapse and now the Gujarat carnage, and that they had become more addicted to gruesome serials since then.




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Eighth Annual TV-Turnoff Week
Posted on 2002/4/17 23:47:02 ( 665 reads )


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NEW YORK, NEW YORK, April 16, 2002: The eighth annual TV-Turnoff Week will be observed from April 22nd through the 28th. The whole family is invited to make a clean break from the tube, where the average viewing time is 28 hours per week for adults and 21 hours for children. "TV-watching is the default setting for many people," says Frank Vespe, executive director of the nonprofit Washington, D.C.-based TV-Turnoff Network. "TV isn't going away and we're not saying that it should. But if we can get people to the point where they're making a conscious choice to watch when they watch, and to spend more time doing other things, we will have made a difference," he says. On the TV-Turnoff Network's Web site (www.tvturnoff.org), you'll find tips on how to encourage children and fellow adults. There are lots of alternative activities with which you can fill your TV cooling-off period. The web lists 101 suggestions, including baking, learning yoga, tending the garden and reading a book. The site also gives plenty of arguments for re-examining your free time priorities. One reason: the connection between obesity and TV-watching drawn by then Surgeon General David Satcher as he endorsed last year's TV-Turnoff Week. The objective is to occupy yourself with something other than TV, Web-surfing and video games.




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Homespun Services Keep Tabs on Teen Drivers
Posted on 2002/4/17 23:46:02 ( 702 reads )


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SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, April 15, 2002: Sunnyvale police officer Russell Howard has witnessed many careless driving moves by teenagers in his 20-year career. In his dual role as an emergency medic, he has also seen the fatal consequences that can result. Now Howard runs a small sideline business that, for a $50 annual fee, supplies bumper stickers that ask: "How's my teen driving?" An 800 number allows others to weigh in, and reports are passed on to parents via phone, fax or e-mail. "A lot of people are trying to get this going," said Merry Banks, manager of the California State Automobile Association's Traffic Safety Department. The stickers remain rare. Howard's 1 1/2-year-old service has fewer than 50 subscribers. Yet other services have grown over time, along with awareness of the issue. Danville's safedriver.com, nearing its third year, boasts about 900 participants in the Bay Area and beyond. Wisconsin's tell-my-mom.com has similar numbers and even has a European offshoot. Nationally, motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death for teenagers. One parent confessed his teenager, "hated the sign."




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