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Hindu Marriages Popular in Kerala with Non-Hindu Foreigners


Posted on 2003/2/12 8:47:02 ( 1043 reads )


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KOCHI, INDIA, February 12, 2003: Traditional Hindu marriage rituals are fast becoming popular among Westerners who crisscross continents and fly to Kerala to take their wedding vows. The former Dutch palace at Bolghatty, now a hotel of the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation, was the venue of one such wedding on Monday. For the bride, Nicola Pauling, a journalist with Reuters and groom John Freeman, a pharmaceutical retailer from UK, Kochi was their dream venue, which they chose six months ago after a visit here. Two weeks ago, a Canadian couple, who had been married for 40 years, were married again in traditional Hindu style. HPI adds: British Rock star Mick Jagger and supermodel Jerry Hall were married in Bali on November 21, 1990, in a Hindu ceremony. A British high court ruled their Hindu marriage null and void August 13, 1999, because it did not adhere to the laws of Indonesia. Regarding marriage in Indonesia the law states, "Law No. 1 of 1974 concerning marriages in Indonesia, Article 2 (1): a marriage is legitimate if it has been performed according to the laws of the respective religious beliefs of the parties concerned." To be married in a Hindu ceremony in Indonesia one must already be Hindu, or sign a paper before the marriage that you are converting to the religion of your spouse (who must already be Hindu). A Hindu marriage of non-Hindus may similarly be invalid in India. A related question is whether Hindu priests should perform wedding ceremonies for non-Hindus if they are already married as was the case in Kerala. Bali priests rethought their policies after the Jagger annulment. Readers with comments, please send them to HPI.






Militant Hindu Group Cleared of Involvement in Missionary's Death


Posted on 2003/2/12 8:46:02 ( 1127 reads )


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ORISSA, INDIA, February 12, 2003: This report from The Voice of the Martyrs, Canada, a Christian watchdog group, states, "Four years after the murder of Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons, India's Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) has claimed that none of the suspects are members of the militant Hindu group, Bajrang Dal. Graham Staines and his two minor sons -- Philip and Timothy -- were burnt alive as they slept in a jeep at Manoharpur in Keonjhar district in Orissa on January 23, 1999. Eyewitnesses to the murder reported that those responsible were shouting, 'Bajrang Dal Zindabad' ('Long live Bajrang Dal'). Several of those arrested for the murder were also reported to be members of the group that is actively opposing Christianity and Islam in India, including training volunteers to fight against them. Bajrang Dal [has always denied] any responsibility for the attack on Staines. 'We were framed,' said Subash Chouhan, the chief of the Bajrang Dal's Orissa unit. 'Now the truth has come to light.' "






What is the Literal Meaning of "Oduvar"


Posted on 2003/2/12 8:45:02 ( 984 reads )


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KAUAI, USA, February 12, 2003: While researching an article on the Oduvars, the traditional temple singers of Tamil Nadu, Hinduism Today's staff has unexpectedly not been able to determine the literal meaning of the term "oduvar," or its origin. Anyone with information on the term itself may e-mail "source" above.






What Are the Means of Reconversion to Hinduism?


Posted on 2003/2/12 8:44:02 ( 1037 reads )


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KAUAI, USA, February 12, 2003: Hinduism Today is researching the vratyastoma ceremony, the re-entrance to Hinduism, which is mentioned in the Vedas. Such ceremonies are being performed today by the Arya Samaj, the VHP and others. Hinduism Today wishes to document the forms of these ceremonies, as well as their scriptural basis. Anyone with information on the subject may kindly e-mail "source" above.






Singapore's Senpaga Vinayaka Temple Celebrates Kumbhabishekam


Posted on 2003/2/11 8:49:02 ( 922 reads )


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SINGAPORE, February 5, 2003: In a centuries-old practice, one of Singapore's oldest Hindu temples, Sri Senpaga Vinayaka Temple, celebrated its Maha Kumbhabishekam (great ceremonial consecration), and was also formally designated as a historic site by the National Heritage Board. Thousands of Hindus, along with Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, attended the event. At exactly 10:00 A.M., priests climbed the 21-meter-high gopuram, or main tower, and poured holy water on its golden domes. Following the kumbhabeshekam, the chief priest placed vibuthi (holy ash) on Prime Minister Goh's forehead and wished him and Singapore a bright future. The Prime Minister then toured the temple with its subdued terra-cotta and sandstone colors, skylights and gold-leafed roof. The Sri Senpaga Vinayaka Temple dates back to the late 1800s and its renovation costs of more than US$4 million were paid for through donations from both Hindus and non-Hindus. MP Chan Soo Sen said the support from non-Hindus showed that multiracial and multi-religious ties were strong in Singapore.






Thousands Attend India's Balamurugan Temple Kumbhabishekam


Posted on 2003/2/11 8:48:02 ( 1011 reads )


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VELLORE, INDIA, February 6, 2003: Thousands of devotees witnessed the first Maha Kumbhabishekam of the Balamurugan temple in Ratnagiri, near Vellore, Tamil Nadu. The new moolasthanam (sanctum sanctorum), the melvimanam, built atop the moolasthana vimanam, the new sannadhi of Selva Vinayaka and the newly-built mugappu mandapam were consecrated by Sri Balamuruganadimai, hereditary trustee, and others. Devotees from around Tamil Nadu came to witness holy waters being poured on the newly-designed gold-plated kalasams. Sri Sachidananda Swami of Kalavai, Sakthi Amma of Sri Narayani Peedam, Thirumalaikkodi, Sri Santhalinga Ramasamy Adigalar of Perur Adheenam, Coimbatore, Shaktha Sri Sivalingeswara Swami of Kamatchipuri Adheenam, Coimbatore, and Sri Ooran Adigal of Vadalur were among those who participated.






Gandhi's Grandson to Lead Interfaith Alliance


Posted on 2003/2/11 8:47:02 ( 895 reads )


Source: Religion News Service





WASHINGTON, D.C., February 11, 2003: The grandson of Mahatma Gandhi has been named chairman of the board of directors at the Interfaith Alliance. Arun Gandhi will lead the Washington-based group, which lobbies for religious freedom and interfaith understanding. Gandhi is the co-founder of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence in Memphis, Tenn., and a prolific author. "At this particular moment in history, when religion is often cited as the cause, rather than the solution, to conflict, Arun Gandhi's insightful and prophetic leadership is invaluable," said the Rev. C. Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance. Gandhi succeeds retired Episcopal Bishop Jane Holmes Dixon of Washington, who will remain on the board.






India's Bottled Water Contains High Levels of Pesticides


Posted on 2003/2/11 8:46:02 ( 788 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, February 6, 2003: Popular brands of bottled water sold in India contain pesticide residues that can cause cancer or disorders of the nervous system, a study has found. Seventeen brands in and around New Delhi were taken for testing by the city's non-government Center for Science and Environment (CSE). Using methods approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency for pesticide detection in drinking water, CSE found that all except one contained residues of chemicals such as lindane, DDT, chlorpyrifos and malathion. Many of these chemicals are banned in several countries, including India. Only Evian, imported from France, was clean. These popular brands exceed safety limits set by the EU by more than 100 times. According to the CSE report, the source of the pesticide residues is the polluted groundwater used to manufacture the bottled water. It said the water treatment processes used by the manufacturers are either ineffective or only a part of the raw water is processed. India's bottled water industry, worth US$209,511,800 and growing at 40 per cent a year, insists that it meets the quality norms set by India's Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) for drinking water. The federal government has ordered a high-level probe into the report and wants the investigating body to report its findings in three weeks.






Rajasthan May Ban Hindu Trident


Posted on 2003/2/10 8:49:02 ( 890 reads )


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RAJASTHAN, INDIA, February 10, 2003: The Indian state of Rajasthan plans to introduce a ban on Hindus carrying a traditional religious icon, the trident. The three-pointed spear, or trisula, appears in Hindu iconography and traditionally symbolizes the power of Lord Siva as three fundamental saktis or powers -- iccha (desire, will, love), kriya (action) and jnana (wisdom). Hindu activists say they have distributed more than 70,000 tridents in Rajasthan in recent months. A sharpened trident can serve as a weapon, though its relevance here is more as a symbol of aggressive Hinduism to be displayed in marches and at rallies. Rajasthan's Home Minister, Gulab Singh Shaktawat, told the BBC the trident could endanger the lives of peace-loving citizens. He said he expected the trident ban to be introduced this week.






Respected Indian Scientist Questions Claims of Oldest Human Settlement


Posted on 2003/2/10 8:48:02 ( 928 reads )


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HYDERABAD, INDIA, February 2, 2003: When the Department of Ocean Development scientists recently announced that they had discovered the world's oldest human settlement in the Gulf of Cambay off the coast of Gujarat, they attracted the attention of renowned marine biologist, S.R. Rao. Rao explains, "Such a flippant and premature announcement to the media prior to publishing the data in a peer-reviewed journal put credibility of Indian science at stake." The DOD have backed up their discovery with acoustic images and dating of the carbon in a piece of wood taken from the site. Rao argues that the wood could have come from anywhere and that the DOD did not send a diver down to the site, nor did they take pictures or consult an archaeologist. However DOD secretary Harsh Guta feels that Westerners are not willing to accept that modern civilization emerged from India. The journal of the Geological Society of India has agreed to publish a paper by DOD scientists provided that they temper their claims. S.R. Rao has written two books about sunken settlements and was instrumental in discovering the ancient Dwaraka settlement, talked about in the epic Mahabharata, off the coast of Gujarat.






India's Pilgrimage Centers Go High Tech


Posted on 2003/2/6 8:49:02 ( 785 reads )


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BANGALORE, INDIA, February 4, 2003 : Many Hindu pilgrimage sites are undergoing a high tech-makeover intended to offer a superior pilgrimage experience. The prominent ones which are sinking in tens of thousand of U.S. dollars in this e-transformation process include Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanam (TTD), Shirdi Sai Baba Devasthanam and Khalsa Heritage, among others. Tirupati will use an integrated system for automation of its various departments. Once ready, the project will benefit pilgrims by giving them access to information about sevas, darshan times and will also help them make the necessary reservations and fee payments online. Shirdi Sai Baba Devasthanam has commissioned a networking project to automate its key departments. The Khalsa Heritage in Punjab and Nirankari Mission in New Delhi are setting up what they term "immersive multimedia theatres," which will offer devotees the latest in digital spiritual experience.






New York's Firefighters Fight Post 9/11 Stress with Yoga


Posted on 2003/2/6 8:48:02 ( 916 reads )


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NEW YORK, U.S.A., February 6, 2003: Told to shut his eyes and shake his body vigorously, Kevin Guy began to reconsider whether he should have signed up for the workshop. "Is this guy for real?" the strapping Bronx-born firefighter wondered as he began Dr. Jim Gordon's program of meditation, yoga and alternative therapies to help firefighters deal with the emotional stress of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. That one-time workshop was offered last summer, not long after the end of a nine-month cleanup of human remains and structural debris at the World Trade Center site. Now, Guy meditates and shakes stress away nearly every day and helped Gordon launch a regular program for city firefighters. The sessions began a week after Mount Sinai Medical Center released preliminary findings from a federal program that screened workers who responded to the terrorist attack and aided in its cleanup. Ten months after the attacks, 52 percent reported mental health problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder, doctors said. The findings were based on a random sample of 250 people from the first 500 workers examined; 3,500 people have been screened in six months. Basic techniques include relaxation, meditation, yoga, visual imagery, self-hypnosis and group support. The center also works with cancer patients and people suffering from other chronic illnesses. The challenge was getting a firefighter to stretch out on a mat in a yoga pose, meditate to soft music or learn to do focused breathing -- practices initially deemed "ridiculous and crazy" by most first-timers, Gordon said. However, more than 40 people attended the new class. Guy wants to recruit more by convincing his tough-minded brethren that Gordon's program is a take-charge, independent type of therapy. "You're not on a psychiatrist's couch -- it's just basic things that you can do to help yourself. It really calms you down," Guy said.






The New Marriage Criteria for NRIs


Posted on 2003/2/6 8:47:02 ( 836 reads )


Source: The Telegraph





NEW DELHI, INDIA, February 5, 2003: Apart from nostalgia and money to augment foreign exchange reserves, what is a major involvement with India and her nonresident Indians (NRIs)? The NRIs search for brides and bridegrooms assisted by parents in India and overseas is a top priority. There is an "A list" in India for prospective spouses, with NRIs topping the list, multinational executives, IAS and other central service officers, and then the others, with academics near the bottom. For most parents and their daughters, the well-off overseas boy of Indian origin tops the preferences.






Saints Protest Ganga Pollution


Posted on 2003/2/5 8:49:02 ( 896 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, February 1, 2003 : Prominent sadhus and Dharamacharyas are protesting the government's failure to release additional water from Tehri Dam into River Ganga to enable millions of devotees to take a holy dip before Mauni Amavasya on Sunday. The religious leaders also protested the government's "apathetic attitude" towards the increasing pollution of Ganga and sought immediate steps to clean the river. Pandit N. K. Sharma, Chief Organizer of the Universal Association of Spiritual Awareness, said in a statement on Saturday that thousands of pilgrims had returned to their homes without taking bath during the Magh Mela of Prayag (Allahabad) due to the polluted water. He said the saints have also been demanding, since the beginning of the Magh Mela, a check on the effluents from the tanneries at Kanpur and the dirty drains of Fatehpur area. The Ganga river at Allahabad where the annual Magh Mela was held was highly polluted and the water was not fit for bathing.






Vaishno Devi Pilgrims Increase


Posted on 2003/2/5 8:48:02 ( 909 reads )


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Jammu, Kashmir, February 4, 2003: Over 100,750 pilgrims have visited the holy cave shrine of Vaishno Devi during January this year, an official spokesman said on Tuesday. At present 4,000 to 5,000 pilgrims are reaching the shrine daily and during the last two weeks of January over 75,000 devotees worshipped at the cave shrine. Extensive arrangements are in place for the devotees such as free accommodations at the shrine board in Adhkunwari and blankets.




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