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Rock Art in Tamil Nadu Needs to be Recognized and Preserved

Posted on 2003/6/9 9:48:02 ( 1187 reads )


TAMIL NADU, INDIA, June 2, 2003: Rock art, with origins from prehistoric times, has been receiving publicity in Tamil Nadu for the past several years when G. Chandrasekaran, professor at Chennai's Government College of Fine Arts, formed a society called Roots. Under this banner, artists, art historians and archaeologists are attempting to save over fifty sites in Tamil Nadu from blasting by granite quarries. India possesses one of the three largest concentrations of rock art where the art form is expressed by paintings using wet paint or dry pigments rather than by petroglyphs, where images are engraved and etched onto the rock surface. Sites in Central India are well known, but the concentrations in Tamil Nadu have so far been neglected. Chandrasekaran has been studying large deposits of rock painting sites at Settavarai, Alampadi and Keelvalai in Villupuram. He reflects about a specific image depicting a deer or a goat on a 20 by 15 foot canvas at Settavarai, "Unlike the other images on the same rock canvas, the deer-goat image is executed with finesse and style by an artist who was sure of his/her lines and strokes." At Alampadi, huge reptilian images capture the rock surface while Settavarai boasts figures that could be placed anywhere between 3,000 BCE and 500 BCE. The rock art at Keelvalai was probably of a later period and depicts images of boating scenes and symbols such as the swastika. Even though these sites have been known by archaeologists for more than twenty years, very little has been done so far to preserve the art forms that are usually near granite quarrying sites. Art historian K.T. Gandhirajan says, "The issue here is not of Tamil culture and heritage. Rock art belongs to all of humanity. There are some 20 million rock art images in over 120 countries. What we have here in Tamil Nadu is part of an international heritage."

Malaysia's Sri Muniswaran Temple Relocating

Posted on 2003/6/9 9:47:02 ( 1456 reads )


KEDAH STATE, MALAYSIA, June 9, 2003: The MIC division here appealed to the Kedah government yesterday for land to relocate the Sri Muniswaran Temple in Jalan Kisap. The temple has been ordered demolished because it was renovated illegally. Division chairman T.Manogharan said the 80-year-old temple was one of the oldest Hindu temples on the island. "We understand that the temple was renovated without approval from the local authority, but we hope the state government would reconsider its decision," Manogharan said. He also urged the state to provide funds to help them relocate, and that they needed two to three months for that. The Langkawi Municipal Council and district office had moved heavy machinery into the area following countless reminders to the temple committee to relocate because it had encroached onto a public road. According to Manogharan, the temple community apologized for not having the foresight to notify the local authorities of their need to extend the temple, saying they were ignorant of the process. He also thanked Kedah CPO Datuk Supian Ahmad who mediated for the community over the matter. Manogharan said the police had urged the community to relocate the temple in three days. The temple committee would speak to Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Syed Razak Syed Zain to provide a site for the temple relocation. In Alor Star, Syed Razak said the state had no intention to oppress the devotees. "But the building is too near the road, so it has to be demolished," he said. Syed Razak said the state was willing to talk with the temple committee if they wanted land for a new temple. However, he said, they would have to apply for the new land.

Pondicherry Girl Dances for 60 Hours for Guinness Book of Records

Posted on 2003/6/9 9:46:02 ( 997 reads )


PONDICHERRY, INDIA, June 4, 2003: A 20-year-old classical danseuse performed bharata natyam for 60 hours, qualifying her to seek an entry into the Guinness Book of World Records. Sangeetha, a final-year student at the Bharathiyar Balakalaikoodam, completed the targeted task at 9:15 p.m. last night after she began her dance at 8:30 a.m. on June 1. Unlike an earlier national record, where two Andhra Pradesh girls entered the Limca Book of Records by performing bharata natyam and kuchipudi each (for 40 and 50 hours respectively) by taking a break for 15 minutes after every eight hours, Sangeetha, who hails from this town, took a brief rest (admissible as per Guinness Book norms) only after every ten hours. Pondicherry Chief Minister N. Rangasamy attended the culmination of the taxing endeavor last night and presented her a cash award of US$533 on behalf of the Bharathiyar Balakalaikoodam. "Will power would help us achieve anything," he told the audience.

Chennai Temple to Have India's Tallest Hanuman statue

Posted on 2003/6/9 9:45:02 ( 1502 reads )


CHENNAI, INDIA, June 5, 2003: The Board of Trustees of Panchamuka Sri Jayamurthi Seva Trust have announced the creation of the tallest Anjaneya (Hanuman) statue in India, currently sculpted in Kelambakkam near Chennai. The statue will be installed in a temple being constructed at Panchavatee on the Tindivanam-Pondicherry National Highway. The temple is being built as a result of the divine ordainment to Anjaneya devotee Brahmasari Ramani Anna. Brahmasari Anna was invited by Santhanam to visit and grace his land. No sooner had he stepped on to the land than a vision of a magnificent temple of Lord Anjaneya rose before his eyes. "I had a vision. I was invited to grace the land of Santhanam. No sooner had I set foot than I felt the presence of the Lord Anjaneya. I saw a vision of his glorious temple standing there. I shared my vision with Santhanam and he generously donated his land." said Brahmasri Ramani Anna. Sculptor Padmasri Muthiah said the statue, sculpted out of a single piece of granite, is 36 feet high with five different faces, 10 hands and ornamentation and objects appropriate to each facet of the Lord's grace. Muthiah says, "It is difficult to sculpt on a single stone. The statue has ten hands with objects. It was quite a challenge. A slight mistake and the statue would be ruined. It took 36 sculptors to complete it in 26 months. Among all my works, this is my masterpiece." The statue will be installed at Panchavatee, 9 kilometers from Pondicherry on June 11.

Indian Immigrants Slow to Integrate into Host Societies

Posted on 2003/6/6 9:49:02 ( 951 reads )


PORT-OF-SPAIN, TRINIDAD, June 4, 2003: Lamenting the fact that Indian diaspora was "slow to integrate into the mainstream of the host societies," a senior Indian official said that most Indians looked for a middle ground in most issues and avoided extremes. Speaking at a two-day seminar on "From Indentureship to Entrepreneurship," hosted by the Indian High Commission to mark the 158th anniversary of Indian Arrival Day in Trinidad and Tobago, Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs J. C. Sharma said, "It has become second nature for Indians to look for the middle ground and avoid extremes." Indians followed a 3,000-year-old tradition of diversity, accommodation and acceptance. Admitting that Indians in Trinidad had suffered from discrimination, principal of the University of the West Indies Bhoe Tewarie said that the community had adapted and progressed in spite of such obstacles and "the future of the Indian community cannot be divorced from the wider community in which we live."

Indians came to Surinam in search of Shri Ram 130 years ago

Posted on 2003/6/6 9:48:02 ( 1392 reads )


PARAMARIBO, SURINAM, June 5, 2003: The first batch of indentured laborers from India was brought here 130 years ago aboard the ship Lala Rukh and had the mistaken belief they were going to the land of Shri Ram and not Surinam. Upon arrival some were dejected, but others, who brought with them their faith in Ramcharitra Manas and couplets of Kabir, rose to the occasion and converted Surinam into practically a Hindi heartland, preserving their language and cultural ethos. As new immigrants they were often condemned in the local society and referred to as Coolie, Kalkatia and even Kuta (dog). But over the decades they have been able to carve a niche for themselves. The Hindi used in Surinam today is closest to the Sadhukkari language of Kabir with an admixture of Awadhi, Bhojpuri, English, Dutch as well as local languages. Surinam Hindus today say their ancestors boarded the ship with Ramcharitra Manas and went through the trying times singing bhajanas of Tulsi and Kabir. This built a bridge that still survives.

Delhi's Alms Receivers are Well Organized

Posted on 2003/6/6 9:47:02 ( 987 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, June 4, 2003: Job: Sitting for six hours a day, stretching a hand out occasionally. Qualifications: None. Vacancies: Unlimited. Earnings: Uncertain. That's the classic version of the temple beggar, widespread in India. The job, qualifications and vacancies for the metro version, widespread in Delhi, are roughly the same. The ways in which they are different from brothers in alms elsewhere are as follows: Their workplace is variable; there are weekly transfers. Earnings never fall below US$4.00, and can touch $16.00 a day. Sometimes, there is a significant perk: group housing at nominal rates. Begging is among Delhi's most organized businesses. The weekly transfers of beggars from temple to temple are an indicator of how completely focussed they are on deriving maximum profit from your benevolence. The Social Welfare Department discovered that sets of beggars at major temples kept changing every week. Which means that a particular beggar can be at four or five different posts across the city in the course of a month. The effort, apparently, is to allow a level playing field for all members of the community, and prevent the growth of monopolies. Though beggar groups struggle to gain supremacy over a profit-earning area, it has not triggered violent crime in the past few years. "It appears there is a silent agreement between the kingpins. All work in tandem, with clearly demarcated areas of operation," said an official. In what appears to be an organized racket, officials say, some areas have been turned into full-fledged beggar colonies. "The accommodation is provided by kingpins who claim a large portion of the beggars' earnings," the official said.

Florida Newspaper's Front Page Account of Aghora Hindus and India Shocks Asian Community

Posted on 2003/6/5 9:49:02 ( 1009 reads )


TAMPA, U.S.A., June 2, 2003: A rather astounding article appeared in the Florida Tampa Tribune of June 2 supposedly on the Aghoris, a radical group of sadhus living beyond the norms of society, but really about one crazy American, Gary Stevenson, claiming to their reporter (George Coryell) that he was an Aghori. The reporter considered the American insane, and indeed the fellow is now in a psychiatric institute in India. You'll have to go to "source" to read the article, as it is too disgusting to quote at any length. For example, "Cannibalism, Yon said, was taken as a part of Indian culture." Among its assertions is that tourists in India may be kidnapped, sacrificed and eaten by Aghoris.

The Hindu and Asian community in Tampa were shocked at the newspaper's gross misrepresentation and opprobrious information regarding Hinduism and India. Over 50 Hindu, Jain and professional organizations with members from Asia signed the following response: "We the Hindu and Indian-American community of Tampa Bay numbering well over 10,000 and represented by the undersigned organizations is deeply hurt and offended by the subject article and its portrayal of Hinduism and India. The article has done gross injustice to the Hindus, India and offended their sensibilities. Hinduism, the world's third largest but oldest practiced religion by well over 850 million, and with history well over 5,000 year old, is known for nonviolence, vegetarianism, love, compassion and peace. To portray and defame Hindu Gods and Goddesses and the entire religion with cannibalism because of stories collected by a writer in search of a book of sensational stories to write, with selfish motive for personal gain, displays personal biases and lack of quality journalism."

The response goes on to make these points about the article:

" [It is] Attempted defamation of Hinduism by portraying Hindus and their gods with acts of certain deviant individuals. The Aghoris do not constitute even a measurable fraction of the main stream Hindus 850 million worldwide. This is akin to equating Catholicism and Christianity with child molestation, suicidal acts, violence, and such, due to the acts of certain deviant individuals such as Charles Mansion, Jim Jones, David Kuresh and a few Catholic priests.

"Attempt to malign India and her people as a place where foreigners disappear. Thus attempt to cause financial harm to India by reducing tourism to India. In our numerous travels to India we have not encountered posters showing pictures of lost foreigners, if any. There are no advisories by any governmental agency against travel to India due to any loss of foreigners.

"Did not consider the sensibilities of the Hindu and Indian-American population or show a modicum of respect that Tampa Tribune shows for other religions and communities."

Another Marriage Called off Because of Dowry Demands

Posted on 2003/6/5 9:48:02 ( 1009 reads )


UTTAR PRADESH, INDIA, June 2, 2003: Yet another marriage met a premature end on Monday when the bridegroom added a Maruti car to his list of dowry demands. However, the groom, his brother and father -- all three who have been named in the complaint made by the girl's family, have not yet been arrested. The incident occurred at New Ashoka Nagar in East district. Premlata was to be engaged to Yoginder, resident of Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh on Monday. However, Yoginder's father, Bharat Singh Baghel called up the bride's father, Sobran Singh Baghel and declared a new demand - a Maruti car. When Sobran Singh expressed his inability to meet the demand, the boy's family called off the wedding. Satish Baghel, the bride's brother said the groom had already been paid US$1,066 in cash. "There was no way we could afford to present a car," he said. Satish complained to the police about the incident. Charges under Sections 3/4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act were registered against the groom, his brother Joginder and their father. Yoginder runs a hardware shop in Aligarh and teams have been sent to Uttar Pradesh to nab the accused.

Tirumala Temple Bans Coconut Breaking in Front of the Temple

Posted on 2003/6/5 9:47:02 ( 956 reads )


HYDERABAD, INDIA, June 2, 2003: A coconut in the hands of a devotee is unlikely to cause any alarm. For security analysts, however, the humble offering could well be stuffed with explosives and used with maximum effect to launch an Akshardham-type attack. The very thought of such a scenario being enacted in Tirumala has made the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) contemplate shifting of Akhilandam, the place where coconuts are offered, away from the Sri Venkateswara Swami temple. Normally devotees break the coconuts near the "mahadwaram" (main entrance). Now they have to go at least 250 yards away from the main entrance to offer the coconuts. A seven-foot fencing separating the place from the main temple is also proposed. The compulsory dress code for men of dhoti (cloth waist wrap) and "angavastra" (a narrow shawl thrown around the shoulders) would make it impossible for anybody to conceal any weapon and gain entry into the temple.

Tirupati Dress Code: No Jeans or Shorts

Posted on 2003/6/5 9:46:02 ( 2128 reads )


HYDERABAD, INDIA, June 4, 2003: A dress code has been established for the Lord Venkateswara (also known as Balaji) at Tirumala hills. The Tirupathi-Tirumala Devastanam (TTD), which runs the temple, has announced men will not be allowed to participate in any rituals unless they are wearing a dhoti and angavastram and women should be wearing sari or salwar kameez. The dress code, which came into effect from Tuesday, has reportedly been prompted by complaints. For now, the dress code does not apply to those visiting the temple just for darshan. "It is only for people offering specific sevas," said P. Balasubrahmanyam, a TTD official. But it may be extended to all visitors later.

Deadline Approaches for Vegetarian Article Submission

Posted on 2003/6/5 9:45:02 ( 1167 reads )


KAUAI, HAWAII, USA, June 6, 2003: Hinduism Today magazine is planning an article in its next issue on the subject, "Why I am a vegetarian." Hindu youth (age 24 and below) are invited to send a 300- to 500-word essay on the subject. Each writer of a published essay will receive US$25 for the piece. The essay should cover the reasons why you personally chose to remain a vegetarian if so raised (or become one if not), how you have dealt with peer pressure to change, the value of more people becoming vegetarians and/or any other aspect of vegetarianism which you would like to share. Those selected will be published in edited form in an article slated for the October/November/December issue. Deadline is June 15. Please include the essay, a three-line biodata on yourself and a high-resolution passport style photo (300 dpi, at least 2 by 3 inches) and e-mail to "source" above.

Security to be Increased During Amarnath Yatra

Posted on 2003/6/4 9:49:02 ( 970 reads )


SRINAGAR, INDIA, June 3, 2003: Security has been increased for the upcoming yatra, beginning July 12, to the holy cave shrine of Amarnath where over 100,000 pilgrims are expected this year. Officials do not want a repeat of last year's shootout in which nine pilgrims were killed. Anantnag district authorities, who reviewed the arrangements for the yatra in a meeting chaired by District Development Commissioner Shailendra Kumar on Monday, decided to set up joint control rooms at various camp locations by police and civil administration to monitor the smooth conduct of the yatra. All basic amenities would be provided to the pilgrims at different locations along the route to Pahalgam, the base camp, and the cave shrine. Medicare, power and drinking water facilities would be improved and better telecommunication system installed for the yatris. Only pilgrims to the Ice Lingam would be allowed to the cave shrine this year for pilgrimage. Casual tourists would be kept out, police said.

Gujjar Council Ban Dowries

Posted on 2003/6/4 9:48:02 ( 1006 reads )


NOIDA, INDIA, June 2, 2003: They've seen Nisha Sharma, a girl in their neighborhood, send back her groom and his family from the wedding because they wanted dowry; they've seen a groom die accidentally in some celebratory shooting. Now Gujjars in the area have announced a ban on dowry and ostentatious weddings. On Sunday, leaders from over a hundred Gujjar villages (about 20,000 families) gathered in a Maha Panchayat (community council) and announced they would boycott anyone who violated their directives and offered or accepted a dowry. They also said no firearms, liquor, bands or DJs would now be allowed at Gujjar weddings. Gujjar leaders have set up a committee under former Rajya Sabha member and Kisan leader Ramchandra Vikal to educate people and eradicate dowry from their community. Other members of the committee include UP Minister for Prisons Ved Ram Bhatti and former MLAs Narendra Bhatti and Samir Bhatti. At the meeting, Gujjar Samaj leaders felt dowry had lately become an even greater menace for them. Gujjars had prospered on the compensation they got for their land in Noida and Greater Noida and weddings had become ostentatious occasions to exhibit their newly-acquired wealth. Community leaders said that instead of saving up for dowries, parents should educate their daughters and ensure they plan a career and are financially independent. They also suggested mass, dowryless weddings be organized. Though members of the community welcomed their leaders' directives, several were doubtful about their implementation. It was up to the affluent members to stop the dowry trend, they felt.

Study Finds Sixty-Seven Percent of U.S. Immigrants are Christian, Eight Percent Muslim, Three Percent Hindu

Posted on 2003/6/4 9:47:02 ( 817 reads )

Religion News Service

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 2, 2003: Nearly two-thirds of new immigrants to the United States are Christian, fueled mostly by Catholics coming from Latin America, according to research sponsored by several government agencies. Forty-two percent of immigrants are Catholic, 19 percent are Protestant and 4 percent are Eastern Orthodox, according to a study of almost 1,000 adult immigrants in 1996. Eight percent are Muslim, 4 percent are Buddhist, 3 percent are Jewish, 3 percent are Hindu, and 1 percent claim other religions. The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the National Science Foundation and was conducted by Guillermina Jasso of New York University, Douglas Massey and Mark Rosenzweig of the University of Pennsylvania and James Smith of the Rand Corporation.

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