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The Ramayana Comes to The Bay Area

Posted on 2003/3/21 8:47:02 ( 896 reads )

Source: San Francisco Weekly

SAN FRANCISCO, U.S.A., March 13, 2003: The ambitious retelling of the epic Hindu myth, Ramayana, hits its stride with the A.C.T. Conservatory's production. This epic story of King Rama, exiled by his stepmother and forced to wander the Indian subcontinent with Princess Sita and a number of friends before he rises again to his rightful throne, is one of two story cycles that serve as epic sources of Hindu myth. Until they're needed onstage, New York director Ruben Polendo has actors sit quietly around the floor at little mirrored tables doing their own makeup. Jeffrey Evans plays his own score on a variety of bells and drums. Near the middle of the story, the action hits full stride with the stories of Hanuman, the monkey king, and his straw-dressed ape-men retaking the ancient island of Lanka from Ravana and his men. The show is worth the price of admission and offers a rare taste of traditional Hindu theater.

Indian NGO Initiates "Safe Holi" Practices

Posted on 2003/3/20 8:49:02 ( 845 reads )


PUNE, INDIA, March 15, 2003: The non-governmental organization (NGO), Kalpavriksha, has offered healthy alternatives to chemical colors to ensure safe celebrations of Holi. Kalpavriksha has obtained 100 percent natural and safe colors from Delhi-based NGO Development Alternatives. The have headed a campaign against highly toxic dyes and powders used for Holi colors and are teaching women to make eco-friendly colors. Many of the colors can be prepared at home with ingredients found in the house or garden such as beets, turmeric, marigold flowers and powdered hibiscus. Other NGOs who were successful in their campaign against water and noise pollution during Ganesha Visarjana and Deepavali festivals have appealed to people not to cut and burn trees for Holi and urged everyone to collect the garbage littering the streets following the festivities.

So When Was Holi Supposed to Be?

Posted on 2003/3/20 8:48:02 ( 888 reads )

Source: HPI

KAUAI, U.S.A., March 20, 2003: As reported recently, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs in India declared Holi should be celebrated on March 19, while many Hindu priests held that Holi was actually a day earlier. HPI asked readers for their authoritative comments, and a number were received here from astrologers and priests giving their insights into the conundrum. All but one agreed Holi should be celebrated on March 18. Respected astrologer Chakrapani Ullal gave the following insight: "All festivities are observed according to the thithis (a "lunar day," see below). Therefore it is important to know when it begins and when it ends. Sometimes differences among some religious leaders arise because many Panchangas (Hindu religious calendars) do not use the same ayanamsha (calendar of astrological data). They calculate according to a formula without making adjustments. These differences result in the observation of thithis slightly differently. Some would think that since puranmashi (or prathama, the full moon) has ended after sunrise maybe Holi should be observed the following day (19th.) However, I think once puranmashi is over in the morning, Holi could begin thereafter on the 18th. I fully agree with Laxmi Narayan Shastriji (chief priest of the Birla Temple, India)." Most Hindu festivals are calculated according to the tithis. A tithi is a lunar day, approximately 1/30 of the time it takes the moon to orbit the Earth. Because of their means of calculation (based on the difference of the longitudinal angle between the position of the sun and the moon), tithis vary in length. A second person knowledgeable in astrology explained the issue this way. "The holiday is celebrated on prathama, the day after the full moon tithi. Usually we consider that the tithi at sunrise to rule the day, so in this case, purnima tithi rules the18th, even though prathama starts at 9:45 am. The problem is, prathama thithi ends in the early morning of the 19th, so most of that day will actually be dvitiya and the scriptures say Holi should be celebrated on prathama (the day after full moon). Consequently, in a case like this, most would designate the 18th as Holi."

Delhi Officials Asked to Solve Beggar Problems at Temples

Posted on 2003/3/20 8:47:02 ( 1159 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, March 18, 2003: The Delhi High Court on Monday directed the officials of the Social Welfare Department of the Delhi government to visit four temples in the capital and report on the problems created by beggars and to suggest ways begging can be eliminated. The temples where the problem was at its peak were identified -- Hanuman temple in Connaught Place, Sai Baba temple on Lodhi Road, Hanuman temple in Kashmir Gate and the Bairon temple near the Old Fort. Attorney Rajeev Awasthi told the court that there was an organized gang which brought the beggars to the temples on chosen days. "The beggars were earning US$100 to $125 every day at the temples," he said. V.K. Shali, counsel for Delhi government, said the Social Welfare Department was doing its best to keep the beggars away from the public places and has been providing vocational training to relieve them from depending on alms.

Pandit Ravi Shankar Takes Issue With Today's Fusion Music

Posted on 2003/3/20 8:46:02 ( 851 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, March 17, 2003: Sitar virtuoso Pandit Ravi Shankar, often praised for pioneering collaborations with musicians from the West, does not identify with the fusion music of today. "I was never involved in fusion music as it is understood today," he said at a press conference to announce a concert with daughter Anoushka on March 22. Shankar, called the "father of world music" by the late Beatle George Harrison, maintained his musical collaborations with Harrison, British violinist Yehudi Menuhin, French flautist Jean Pierre Rampal, Japanese musicians and symphony orchestras the world over were "experiments." "I have experimented, but the compositions were always based on Indian classical music," Shankar said. He felt fusion music of today was more of a commercial attraction and a gimmick. "But I do agree there are many brilliant musicians doing a lot of good work in the area." The maestro plans to teach the nuances of classical music to talented students through the Ravi Shankar Institute for Music and Performing Arts that will be fully operational in the capital later this year.

U.S. Scholar Seeks Input for Anthropological Study of Diaspora Hindus

Posted on 2003/3/20 8:45:02 ( 1013 reads )


CLEVELAND, U.S.A., March 17, 2003: For the purpose of studying the Hindu identity in the United States diaspora community, Vimal Bhatnagar, Ph.D. candidate at Case Western Reserve University, is seeking contacts with various Hindu temples, community organizations, magazines, and web pages around the U.S. that serve the Hindu diaspora community here. Kindly contact Ms. Bhatnagar at "source" above if you care to participate in the research.

Registry Says Hindu Gods and Goddesses May Be Advertising Trademarks

Posted on 2003/3/16 8:49:02 ( 969 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, March 16, 2003: Does the display of Gods and Goddesses on commercial goods like tobacco products hurt the religious sentiments of people? No, says the office of Trademarks Registry. In an affidavit filed before the Delhi High Court, the Trademarks Registry has said that Hinduism has innumerable Gods and Goddesses and to put them all in the schedule of Emblems and Names (prevention of improper use) Act, would be "misconceived and unsustainable." This decision was a response to a petition filed in the High Court, which called for immediate withdrawal of trademarks that hurt the religious sentiments of the people. The petition, filed by Sanjeev Kumar Chaswal, submitted that the Registrar of Trademarks has granted registration using Lord Ganesha, Lord Krishna, Lord Siva and others for products like tobacco, zarda, jute products etc. "This is an insult to the sanctity of the revered Gods," the petition said. The Trademarks Registry's affidavit stated, "The Emblems and Names Act, of 1950 does not envisage inclusion of names of Gods and Goddesses in the schedule of the act. Only emblems of national importance and of secular institutions are sought to be protected."

"Paradise Tree" Promises Immense Potential

Posted on 2003/3/16 8:48:02 ( 934 reads )


TIRUPATI, INDIA, March 5, 2003: Simarouba (Simarouba Glauca), also known as the "Paradise tree," a native of El Salvador, Central America, was first introduced in Amravati, Maharashtra, in 1966. Syamasundar Joshi, a scientist in the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, who has studied the tree, believes apart from edible purposes, it could be a promising ingredient in the manufacture of soaps, lubricants, paints, polishes and pharmaceuticals. Not only the seed, but every part of the tree is useful in some way. The oil cake makes a valuable organic manure as it is rich in nitrogen, phosphorus and potash. The shells form the raw material for the hardboard industry. The fruit pulp can be used in the beverage and fermentation industry as it contains 11 percent sugar. The leaf and bark contains simarubin, a chemical used in curing diarrhea and malaria. The insect-resistant wood is okay for light furniture industry, toys, packing material, paper pulp and matches. The Forest Department's Biotechnology Research Center (Biotrim) at Tirupati has been growing the tree for the last six years on a demonstration plot, without actually knowing its potential. Given the perennial drought in the State and that the tree requires no maintenance, it is believed it offers great potential for farmers.

U.S. House Resolution for Deepavali Stamps

Posted on 2003/3/16 8:47:02 ( 790 reads )

Source: Office of Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ)

WASHINGTON, D.C. USA, March 6, 2003: U.S. Representative Frank Pallone, Jr., founder of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, introduced a resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives asking Congress to request the United States Postal Service to issue a stamp honoring the holiday of Deepavali. The Citizen's Stamp Advisory Commission, under the U.S. Postal Service, currently issues many stamps with holiday themes, including Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah and most recently Eid. Pallone said he is hopeful that there will soon be a postage stamp commemorating this beautiful festival celebrated in India and throughout the world. "The rich culture associated with the Deepavali tradition includes observation of this holiday by Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Muslims and Buddhists," Pallone said. "Deepavali is a time for communal gatherings and spiritual enlightenment. People from across the world make an effort to visit their family, friends and neighbors on this wonderful holiday. The spirit of Deepavali has survived political, economic and social vicissitudes throughout history, while always carrying the universal symbolism of the triumph of light, goodness, knowledge and truth."

Vijayanagar Icons Unearthed

Posted on 2003/3/16 8:46:02 ( 866 reads )


TIRUCHI, INDIA, March 2 , 2003: Six stone statues, including those of Mahavira, Jeyshtadevi and Muruga, have been unearthed from a field in Gundur near here where it is believed there was once a temple. The two and a half feet high by two feet wide icon of Mahavira, seated on a throne in a meditative posture, was said to be rare. The idols of Sridevi, Bhoodevi and Vishnu indicated that a temple dedicated to Vishnu existed in the past at the site, a view supported by the presence of a Siva temple in the vicinity. The presence of "nilothpala" in hand suggested that the three idols belonged to the early Vijayanagar period. The site was identified about two years ago and permission had been granted for the unearthing and safe custody of the statues in the museum.

H.H. Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi to Visit Malaysia

Posted on 2003/3/15 8:49:02 ( 987 reads )


KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, March 14, 2003: Her Holiness, Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi (Amma) will be in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, April 28 - 29, 2003, at Mid Valley Exhibition Center, Level 3, Mid Valley Megamall, Lingkaran Syed Putra, Kuala Lumpur. Beginning at 7:30 pm each evening, there will be satsang, bhajans and darshan, which in Her Holiness' context refers to a warm embrace, by Her Holiness. This is Amma's second visit to Malaysia, where last year over 45,000 people came for satsang and 35,000 received her darshan. Readers kindly contact "source" above for additional information on Amma's visit to Malaysia.

Nepal's King and Queen to Visit India

Posted on 2003/3/15 8:48:02 ( 856 reads )

Source: www.ndtv.com

KATHMANDU, NEPAL, March 15, 2003: Nepal's King Gyanendra and Queen Komal will visit India next week to pray at temples and take part in religious festivities, state-run Radio Nepal said on Saturday. The royal couple will leave for southern India on March 20, returning home March 30. During the trip the king and queen will visit Hindu temples and shrines and take part in religious ceremonies -- a journey that is considered important for Hindus in Nepal. The king was also expected to meet Indian leaders in New Delhi. The King has hereditary rights at a number of temples, including Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu and Jaganath in Puri, where he is the only person aside from the priests allowed to perform worship of the Diety.

Yoga Used in Austrian Schools

Posted on 2003/3/15 8:47:02 ( 784 reads )


VIENNA, AUSTRIA, March 11, 2003: A conference and action day of the "Viennese Center of Health Promotion" was held in the historical rooms of the Viennese Town Hall. More than 20 exhibitors gave a summary of their efforts to improve the health situation especially for pupils and students. One of the most frequented stands was "Yoga In Daily Life." Developed by Sri Mahamandaleshwar Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda, this practice is becoming successful now in Austrian schools. It is part of a special project for school-development called "Learning by Movements" that gives accents for better health making the youngsters to better balanced persons. "Yoga In Daily Life" also offers special seminars for teachers at all levels. Many speakers emphasized the importance of yoga as a perfect balancing principle for the western industrial society.

The Ayodhya Dispute Discussed

Posted on 2003/3/15 8:46:02 ( 1138 reads )

Indian Govt Says Holi on March 19, But Priests Say March 18

Posted on 2003/3/14 8:49:02 ( 844 reads )


NEW DELHI, March 14, 2003: The Union Ministry of Home Affairs may have declared March 19 as the official holiday for Holi, but confusion continues. Several religious organizations have announced that they will celebrate Holi on March 18. Officials say that date for Holi was decided about a year ago after consulting the panchangam (the Hindu religious calender.) However priests differ. "Holi cannot be celebrated on March 19. Holika Dahan is on March 17, the Puranmashi (the full moon) night. Therefore, Dhulendi (the festival of colour) has to be celebrated the next day," said Laxmi Narayan Shastri, chief priest of Birla Temple. He also said that the religious texts do not ban people from celebrating Holi on Puranmashi. "The fuss is unnecessary. Holi has coincided with Puranmashi on earlier occasions as well," he said. The problem this year is that Puranmashi starts at 7:21 p.m. on March 17 and ends on 9:45 a.m. on March 18 and some say that Holi cannot be celebrated on March 18 because of this. HPI would like anyone with an expert opinion on this issue to share with our readers to please contact ar@hindu.org.

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