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Gujarat to Introduce Law Restricting Religious Conversions


Posted on 2003/2/27 8:49:02 ( 1148 reads )


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GUJARAT, INDIA, February 25, 2003: The Gujarati state government has plans to introduce a new law stopping the practice of unethical religious conversion. State Governor Sunder Singh Bhandari declared the Freedom of Religion Bill would be brought before the state assembly during the session that opened on Tuesday. The law -- known as Dharam Swatantrata Vidheya -- will be similar to anti-conversion laws that exist in some other Indian states that ban conversion by inducement or fraud. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ashok Bhatt says the final shape of the new law will be decided at a cabinet meeting next week.






U.K. Hindus Substitute River Thames for Holy Ganga


Posted on 2003/2/27 8:48:02 ( 959 reads )


Source: NewsQuest Media Group Limited





LONDON, ENGLAND, February 18, 2003: Hindus in the U.K. are using a service offered by a ferry company which will send a boat out onto the Thames to perform the ritual of scattering of ashes of the deceased for US$80. City Cruises takes up to 50 friends and relatives on the half-hour trip. Sales manager Ian Faris says, "This is a popular service where predominantly Asian families are taken to a quiet spot on the river to perform the final rites of passage on their loved ones." Strictly speaking, disposing of any waste into rivers is illegal, but the Environment Agency, which is responsible for waterways in Britain, is turning a blind eye to the practice. Environment Agency officer Tessa van den Burghe comments that, "Strictly speaking, it is not allowed as it is considered waste. But it is not a huge amount and we do not consider it a problem." Greenwich Hindu Temple secretary Vidya Misru says, "Ideally the deceased are sent back to their spiritual home in India where their ashes can be cast with a prayer into the holy Ganges. But sometimes this is not possible and in these circumstances the Thames is used as an alternative."






Spiritual Perspectives on Globalization


Posted on 2003/2/27 8:47:02 ( 986 reads )


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UNITED STATES, February 27, 2003: Ira Rifkin's new book, "Spiritual Perspectives on Globalization -- Making Sense of Economic and Cultural Upheaval," takes the globalization debate global -- exploring how it looks to Hindus, Jews, Buddhists, Catholics, Protestants, Baha'is, pagans and Muslims. This look by a noted religion author at globalization from other cultural perspectives helps to understand the phenomenon from their point of view and why some cultures may be less than enthusiastic. The chapter on Hinduism introduces readers to Indian Hindu expatriates working in the Washington suburbs high-tech industry. The author uses their efforts to maintain links to their cultural roots to illustrate the global spread of Vedic thought. But the chapter also delves into the concerns of Hindus who worry that globalization's free-market capitalism and Western-oriented consumer lifestyle undermine Hinduism's traditional emphasis on spiritual advancement over material acquisition. "For traditional Hindus," author Rifkin writes, "both the earth and nonhuman life are sacred, and concern that transnational corporations, abetted by compliant or corrupt governments, have turned both into commodities are cause for additional opposition to globalization."






Nepal to Host World's Highest Cyber Cafe


Posted on 2003/2/27 8:46:02 ( 925 reads )


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KATHMANDU, NEPAL, February 22, 2003: The grandson of a Nepali sherpa in the first expedition to scale Mount Everest 50 years ago plans to set up the world's highest Internet cafe at the mountain's base camp. Tsering Gyaltsen, whose grandfather, Gyaltsen Sherpa, was in the 1953 team that helped Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reach summit, hopes to open the cafe next month to cash in on a flood of visitors for the anniversary. Thousands of trekkers and mountaineers pass through the base camp at 17,400 feet every year and many expeditions carry satellite phones into the Himalayas to run websites about their efforts and contact friends and family at home. Gyaltsen, waiting for government permission to go ahead, will use radio and satellite links and solar and generator power. Money from the cafe will go to a project to clear Everest of the hundreds of tons of garbage left behind every year.






Trinidad and Tobago Hold Classical Song Competition


Posted on 2003/2/27 8:45:02 ( 924 reads )


Source: Paras Ramoutar





PORT-OF-SPAIN, TRINIDAD, February 27, 2003: The Mere Desh Organization of Trinidad and Tobago has dedicated 2003, to the Classical singers of Trinidad and Tobago and the Father of Hindi Poetry, Sant Kabir. The Organization is inviting all local classical singers throughout the country to enter. The date of the competition is yet to be announced.






Mahamandaleshwar Maheshwaranandaji World Tour


Posted on 2003/2/27 8:44:02 ( 910 reads )


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UNITED STATES, February 27, 2003: Mahamandaleshwar Maheshwaranandaji is starting a World Peace Tour today which will include various cities in the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, including a World Peace Forum in Sydney. Kindly contact Swami Bhaktanand at "source" above for information on specific locations and dates.






Refutation Issued to "Foreign Exchange of Hate" Allegations


Posted on 2003/2/26 8:49:02 ( 887 reads )


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UNITED STATES, February 26, 2003: The following statement is issued by the India Development and Relief Fund regarding allegations their funding strategy is designed to encourage hatred and dissension between India's religious groups. "On November 20, 2002, Sabrang Communications and the Forum of Indian Leftists released a report titled, 'The Foreign Exchange of Hate' asserting that the India Development and Relief Fund (IDRF) is involved in funding hate because IDRF has sent money to RSS-affiliated NGOs in India that aid the poor and the underprivileged. The FEH report presents no evidence that IDRF has done anything other than what it advertises: funding socioeconomic development projects, and relief and rehabilitation during times of natural disasters and wars. There is no evidence presented in the FEH report that the funding by IDRF has been unaccounted for or misspent. IDRF-funded projects are exemplary in their simple efficiency and cost-effectiveness, and in their non-discriminatory approach. Houses have been built for Muslims, and aid has been directed through IDRF to a church-run hospital. The FEH report is a political manifesto that seeks to divide the Indian-American community based on their religious and political affiliations, and seeks to demonize groups rather than build bridges between the Diasporic Indian groups." For the complete report click "source" above.






World Hindu General Assembly to be Held in Nepal


Posted on 2003/2/26 8:48:02 ( 891 reads )


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GORAKHPUR, INDIA, February 18, 2003: The seventh World Hindu General Assembly which concluded in Gorakhpur, India, has decided to hold the next General Assembly in Birgunj, Nepal. An 11-point proposal including a complete ban on cow slaughter and assistance to Hindu orphans was also passed by the assembly. Some 28 countries, including Nepal, took part in the general assembly. The three-day assembly held at Gorakhshapeeth also stressed the need for stopping the mistreatment and injustice meted out to Hindus and setting up service-oriented industries to provide employment opportunities for Hindu youth.






Matches Made in Cyberspace Meet Face to Face


Posted on 2003/2/26 8:47:02 ( 889 reads )


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MUMBAI, INDIA, February 14, 2003: Shaida.com has taken their site from cyberspace to a brick and mortar location by holding a swayamvara in the cities of Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata. A swayamvara is a Hindu custom in which a girl chooses her own husband from an assembled group of prospects, though in this case the choosing is mutual. Starting on February 14, young men and women who are registered with the website meet in a room sitting in separate rows of chairs facing each other. They can quickly bring up the profile on an accessible computer of someone they may wish to meet. So far Shaida.com has made 50-60 matches and they hope to have brought at least 1,000 couples together during the next few days. Manager Vandana Asija says, "We have had 300% more response for the swayamvara than we usually do on our website. Traditional Indian values along with a Western, modern outlook is at a premium."






Canadian Temple Seeks Full-Time Priest


Posted on 2003/2/26 8:46:02 ( 1004 reads )


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CAMBRIDGE, CANADA, February 26, 2003: The Radha Krishan Temple of Cambridge, Ontario, Canada, is seeking a full-time Hindu priest. The prospective priest must have a good knowledge of Hindi and English. Additionally, it is preferred they have elementary knowledge of Christianity and Islam so they can converse well with Christian Clergymen and Islamic Mullas in the Cambridge community. Please contact Mr. Dwarka Persaud at "source" above for further information.






Correction on Vivekananda Center London


Posted on 2003/2/26 8:45:02 ( 1211 reads )


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LONDON, ENGLAND, February 26, 2003: The Vivekananda Center London in yesterday's HPI was incorrectly named. Instead of the Vedanta Center London, they are correctly known as the Vivekananda Center London, which is a different organization from London's Ramakrishna Vedanta Center.






A Quest for the Saraswati River


Posted on 2003/2/25 8:49:02 ( 1018 reads )


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KATGARH, INDIA, February 15, 2003: Dozens of archeologists have fanned out across the northern Indian state of Haryana in the last seven months to look for traces of the Saraswati River. A group of geologists and glaciologists, armed with satellite imagery maps and remote sensing data, are studying rocks, glaciers and sediments in the Himalayas, seeking any trace of the river's course. Last summer, the Culture Ministry appointed a special committee of experts to prove that the Saraswati was not a mythological river. If the panel succeeds, the birth of Hinduism would be pushed back at least 1,000 years by establishing that the ancient Indus Valley civilization was Hindu in character. "Saraswati is not only a matter of Hindu faith, but also fact," said Ravindra Singh Bisht, director of the Archaeological Survey of India, who supervises excavation along what is believed to be the course of the river. "The overwhelming archeological evidence of ancient settlements along the course of what was once the Saraswati River proves that our earliest civilizations were not confined to the Indus river alone. Those who wrote the Hindu Vedas on the banks of the Saraswati were the same as the Indus Valley people." HPI adds: Be advised that a lot of negative comments are made about Hinduism in this article in the course of its report on the scientific investigations.






London's Vedanta Center a Hub of Religious Activity


Posted on 2003/2/25 8:48:02 ( 812 reads )


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LONDON, ENGLAND, February 24, 2003: London's Vedanta Center is heavily involved in providing input for a series of television shows and public talks around London. A series of four TV programs with ITV have already been recorded and edited and are ready to be aired later this year. Future programs under discussion are a series on science and religion and "The Concept of God" with contributions from various faiths. In the last few weeks participants from the Vedanta Center have been invited to speak at Imperial College, King's College, Queen Mary's College, The London School of Pharmacy, School of Oriental and African Studies and Greenwich College. The next talk is at Imperial College on February 25. There are also two talks a month on Sunday mornings at the Sindhi Center in Harrow where around 150 people regularly attend. The Neasden Swaminarayan temple has arranged a seminar on Hinduism for a hundred religious education teachers this week. The Vedanta Center hopes to be able to contribute to the presentation. Readers may kindly contact "source" above for securing speakers knowledgeable on Hinduism or arranging for talks at the center.






Women and Hinduism in U.S. Textbooks


Posted on 2003/2/25 8:47:02 ( 929 reads )


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UNITED STATES, February 5, 2003: In a recent article on Sulekha, Sankrant Sanu examined Microsoft Encarta's treatment of Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. He concluded that Encarta's portrayal of Hinduism was biased and negative in comparison to the more evenhanded and sophisticated treatments granted Islam and Christianity. Sanu's article prompted a closer at a world religions textbook, Mary Pat Fisher's "Living Religions" (5th ed., Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2002), published by one of the largest textbook publishers in the U.S. and is an often-used text in American colleges, universities and prep schools. It was found to contain biases and misrepresentations on how women are portrayed within Hindu society. The author believes "It is clear that religion and theology can be and is often used to sustain and reinforce patriarchal attitudes in societies, whether they be Hindu, Christian or Muslim. It is also clear that religion and theology can and have been used in ways to challenge, break down and replace patriarchal attitudes in these same societies."






U.S. Vegetarian School Lunches


Posted on 2003/2/25 8:46:02 ( 870 reads )


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CALIFORNIA, U.S.A., February 25, 2003: Letters of support are needed for a vegetarian school lunch bill recently introduced in California. Assemblyman Joe Nation of Marin County, California, has introduced Assembly Concurrent Resolution 16 calling for schools to offer a daily plant-based vegetarian option on the daily lunch menu. If you represent a recognized institution, religious community, or are an individual committed to children's health and/or vegetarian issues, please consider writing a letter of support. Send letters to your California state legislators and to the Resolution's author: Assemblyman Joe Nation, State Capitol, Sacramento, CA 95814 or fax to 916-319-2106. On March 5 at 1:30, California State Capitol, Sacramento, a meeting is scheduled of the education committee hearing on ACR 16. For more information and to review the resolution in it's entirety see "source" above and click on "State Resolution."




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